Asteria: Into the Fray by Adrienne Enfinger Book Review

Released: January 29, 2018
Language: English
Publisher: Adrienne Enfinger

Very recently I was honoured with the opportunity to read a book from new author, Adrienne Enfinger.

The book I was sent is called Asteria: Into the Fray.

Available here for download to Kindle:-

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This fantasy themed book was very easy to read and flowed quite well. I struggled to find my feet with it initially as I didn’t quite get the budding romance between our heroine and her ‘Knight in Shining Armour’ but once I got past the first few chapters then I found I couldn’t put it down and wanted to know how it ended. Over a few days I had completed the 240 page book.

The story starts with an introduction to the books heroine, Asteria. For years she has struggled with her parents sudden death in a car accident and despite having support from her close friend, Kendra and her Uncle Jethro then she feels lost and thinks that the only way out is to end her life. Desperate and alone, she finds herself teetering on the edge of a roof on a very high building it belongs to. It is here that we first meet her. She is ready to end it all and the writing easily conveys how dark a place she is in at that moment. That is until a handsome stranger comes to her rescue; Micah is her Guardian Angel and is sent to prepare her for battle between the good and bad. Almost at once she is drawn into a world she never knew existed and shown where her true path leads. For once in her life, she has a purpose and she adapts willingly to all that is throw her way.

I love a good romance in a story and this book delivers. I love the chemistry between Asteria and Micah, although I was quite taken back by how quickly their romance progressed and hoped for more of a ‘will-they-wont-they’ struggle as we read into the story. It was obvious from chapter 1 that these two would get it together, even though it was impossible for Micah initially because it is forbidden for angels and humans to become romantically involved. Some parts of the story felt fast paced; even too fast paced at times which made some areas feel a bit patchy and empty. I would have liked to have ventured more into Kendra and her Grandmothers characters; maybe looked further into the past and shown what Asteria’s life on the streets had been like, etc, but I am hoping that this and the fact that the ending seemed left open that its left an opportunity for a second book. It would be good to see how the author could progress the story from here. Not a bad read at all.

Would definitely recommend.

Rating – 4 out of 5 Stars.

 

 

The Sunshine Blogger Award

I have been meaning to do a post like this for a while, I have been nominated on a couple of occasions but have been so busy with my daily life that I failed to do my own post. Thanks to all those who nominated before now, I can’t recall the posts (Twitter notifications go back way too far and I cant track previous nominations) but I am always honoured that fellow Bloggers (Some of whom are amazing) think of me when they create these posts.

Today, I opened up my Twitter account for the one hundredth time (I try not to be obsessed by notifications, but I simply cant help myself) and saw that the lovely Ashley Girres (@GGraphicsinc) had nominated me. Ashley is a freelance graphic designer who has a fantastic range of products that she creates, you can find some of her work here:-  https://www.etsy.com/shop/garrettgraphics

Ashley also writes a lifestyle blog and regularly updates with her own personal thoughts. She has a wonderful way with words and really draws the reader in. There is a beautifully touching section where she writes letters to her young daughter. The blog link is here: http://afiercemind.com/

Thankyou so much for the nomination, Ashley. 🙂

sunshine-blogger-award

So, here we go.
The Sunshine Blogger Award has rules:-

  1. Thank the Blogger who Nominated you
  2. Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you
  3. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write 11 new questions for them
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post/blog

The 11 Questions that Ashley (@GGraphicsinc) asked me.

  1. What is your greatest inspiration in life?
    As cheesy as this sounds, the greatest ambition in my life are my children. I have two beautiful boys, both different in personality but they have wonderful characters. Ethan, 6 (almost 7, it is his Birthday in 2 days) is laid back, cheeky, intelligent, book-loving and a total nutjob. Oliver, 3 is a kid on a mission. He doesn’t walk, he runs. He doesn’t stand still, he jumps. I love them both equally and they help fill my days with happiness and love.
  2. What prompted you to begin blogging?
    I have always wanted to start blogging, ever since I saw a Hillary Duff film in which she blogged regularly. I think it was called, The Perfect Man. Since then I have always put off trying and I couldn’t ever really think of what I wanted to write about. But then in November, I lost my baby at 5 months pregnant and I wanted a medium that I could use to vent how I was feeling. At first my blogging was personal feelings but then I re-found my love for writing stories and that is what I now produce.

    I am also a big lover of books. Fiction is my favourite and I love writing reviews, so I figured I would use my blog for reviewing what I read.

  3. Have you ever considered transforming your blog into a book?
    Not really, but I do hope that someday my short stories and poems are noticed and that I have the opportunity to publish some of my work some day.
  4. Do you do anything else for a living outside of blogging?
    I work for the local authority as a Caseworker. I also run my own small photography business where I provide services for weddings, events, etc.
  5. Who is your favourite blogger?
    OH my days! There are so so many! One of my favourite things to do is go through my following lists on social media and check out other peoples blogs. I love them all, whether they be Mommy Blogs, Beauty Blogs or Book Blogs. There is not one blog that I have come across that I don’t like yet. But if I was to one who I like to read more than others then it would be Rachel McRad and her ThingsGrowBlog. The style she uses in her posts from the writing flow to the photography make her blog very appealing to the eye. Rachel has also become a good friend and is so very supportive. A supportive blogging friend is a treasured thing in this community. 🙂 You can find her blog here at https://whenthewildthingsgrow.blogspot.co.uk
  6. What do you enjoy doing most when you’re not writing?
    Me and my husband love watching tv boxsets. We love most things and whilst I write, we sit together and watch one of our many favourite shows, like Inside Number 9, The Flash, Walking Dead or The Gifted. If we aren’t watching TV, then I will put my headphones on and listen to albums on Spotify.
  7. What do you feel has been the most pivotal moment in your life?
    In July 2016 my husband and partner of 19 years was pinned against the wall by a car following a collision. I should have lost him, he spent 5 months in hospital and had to learn to do everything again as he suffered a stroke following blood loss. It was at this moment that I looked at my life differently and made a promise to myself that I would never take life for granted again….and that includes my husband.
  8. What is your writing routine?
    I wait until after the boys are in bed, because I know that they will be all over the laptop as soon as I get it out. Then I have to wait until Harry Pugger (Pug) is settled next to me; he loves walking all over the keyboard trying to get my attention. He is very happily snoring next to me as I write this. 🙂 All my writing is done of an evening as I work in the day.
  9. What has been your greatest life accomplishment?
    When I was at college (when i was 17) I always said I would have my own photography business one day. It took several years before I fulfilled that promise, but I can now say that I enjoyed 10 years photographing weddings and providing baby shoots. I was my own boss and dealt with my taxes.
  10. What encourages you when you’re feeling discouraged about your progress?
    I have wanted to write a book for so long, I have several ideas in my old noggin and I tell myself that I no longer want to wait. This time next year I want to have a book finished which I can start sending out to agents. So when I feel discouraged, I tell myself that I could be sitting here always ‘wishing’ that I had done it. There might be nothing that comes from my writing, but it would be much better if I could at least say I tried.

  11. Which blog entry thus far would you say is your greatest pride?
    Please take a look at my blog post further down, titled Tainted Love. It is a short story which I started writing when I was in college. So far I have had some positive feedback from it.

And in tradition of all sunshine blogger awards posts, it is now my turn to nominate 11 other bloggers for the award:-

Rachel McRad @ThingsGrowBlog
https://whenthewildthingsgrow.blogspot.co.uk

Amelia Hope @AmeliaHopeBlog
https://ameliahopeweb.wordpress.com/

Elle Louise @elleloutravels
http://ellelouise.co.uk/

Sharna @sharnaloub
https://lxpidolite.wordpress.com/

Angela @@WickedPleasant
http://wickedlypleasant.com/

Debbie @writersdream
evie-bookish.blogspot.co.uk

Cat @its_misscat
http://itsmisscat.co.uk/

osinachi okoye @jw_osi
http://awkwardfordays.com/

Cally @LoveCallyBlog
https://lovecally.com/

Kerry @stepintimex
https://stepintimex.wordpress.com/

Kellys Little Corner Blog @kellyslilcorner
http://www.kellyslittlecorner.uk/

And to you guys honoured and nominated by me, here are the 11 questions for you.

  1. What is your blog about?
  2. What country do you blog from?
  3. What do you want to get out of your blog?
  4. What makes you tick?
  5. Who is your favourite person?
  6. What was your first pet called?
  7. If you had just 1 wish that could come true, what would you wish for?
  8. What are your top 3 favourite books off all time?
  9. If you could have a dinner date with any 5 celebrities, dead or alive, who would you choose?
  10. Tell us one thing about yourself that you have never blogged about.
  11. Complete this sentence.
    I have a secret love for…

And that’s it folks, here are the questions. Hope you all enjoy reading and taking part 🙂 – Take a look at the other bloggers nominated, there are some great posts/blogs out there.

Thanks All

S x

 

 

 

 

To Believe

Short Story by Stephanie Geary

Stretching up onto her tip-toes, Angelica smiles softly at the setting sun ahead of her. The warm rays streak down and across the land creating beautiful delicate shadows. Everywhere that she can see and far beyond that is filled with brilliant, pretty scenery. Trees and flowers of every type litter the area, creating an enchanting forest canopy. Angelica stretches out her limbs and takes in the view. What she sees is breath-taking; nature at its best. The air is clear and fresh here. There is no smog, no pollution, no litter; all is calm and tranquil.

Up high she can see the whole of the land; she breathes in the heady scent of nectar and her stomach answers with a slow growling sound. Angelica is feeling hungry and looks around for a flower to eat; she tip-toes slowly before jumping over the gap between the branch she stands on and the one next to her.

Flapping her light fairy wings she lets herself fall softly to the ground and spies a beautiful passion-fruit flower peaking its purple-blue head over the long tufts of grass. Fluttering softly towards the flower she lands near its base. Due to her small size the flower towers over her a little so she climbs up onto the stem and breaks pieces of the petals off before stuffing them un-ladylike into her mouth. She chews each piece slowly as she takes in the bitter-sweet taste, closing her eyes in silent ecstasy at the heady delicious flavour. Almost devouring an entire petal, Angelica shimmy’s up higher until she reaches the centre of the flower. Digging her fingers in deep, she pulls out a handful of soft, fluffy centre and eats it silently, her eyes viewing the area for any potential danger.

The life of a fairy is a simple one, but there is potential risk in and around the land that she lives in. Only yesterday she was chased by a squirrel who decided he wanted to nibble on her feathery wings. He had backed off though when she snarled at him, showing her evil-demon like eyes and razor-sharp teeth. From the outside she appeared sweet and delicate, but she had a mean bite when she had to protect herself. Her dark soulless eyes saw danger before it happened; she was always on her guard, always on the lookout. As she grazes on handfuls of the flower she is devouring, she wonders where her friend, Floretta has gotten to. They meet in this exact spot everyday at the same time and she doesn’t appear to be around. Wiping her nectar-smeared mouth on the back of her hands, she stretches up to look around the area. Sometimes Floretta thinks it is funny to camouflage herself amongst the plant life and jump out at the last minute to give her a shock. Angelica does not find this funny and has told her friend repeatedly that it is beyond mean, as well as extremely annoying, but she doesn’t listen.

There appears to be no sign of her, so Angelica hovers lightly above the grass and looks around for signs of where she may be. A passing toad looks up at her as she flutters by and stretches his tongue out in her direction; he wonders what a fairy would taste like and surmises that it would be like chewing on a fat, juicy fly. Angelica looks down at him, her dark eyes shining with contempt making him wince away from her view and hop off in the direction of home. Angelica can see many creatures amongst the land; an earthworm slithers slowly over dampened soil, whilst a field mouse rustles around eagerly in the blades of grass looking for food and an owl watches from up above. The eyes of the owl peer at her with uncaring boredom; the darkening sky has brought him out of his slumber and his head is twisting around looking for tonight’s delicacy; before long he spies the mouse. With a powerful thrust, he glides from the branch and aims downwards; his great wings gliding him ever closer to his prey. The mouse spots him too late; tries to make a run for it but is impaled in the owl’s beak before it can take even one step. The owl carries on flying, taking its victim to a place where it can dine in peace. Angelica watches this with gross interest. The natural way that animals interact is bewitching, she enjoys watching them go about their lives and watching as they move around one another almost unseeing until they are on the look out for food. It amazes Angelica how the circle of life continues; the life and death she sees here is inevitable but natural. There is an order to it, no malice, no cruelty, no second-guessing; death is for one purpose and that is to feed. She continues to look for her friend, trying to spy her familiar tinged pink wings. Beads of grass brush against her skin as she flies around the forest floor looking behind trees and rocks.

‘Floretta, where are you? If you jump out on me again I will bite your wings off.’

Below her she hears a slight rustle and her eyes narrow as she looks at the spot it came from. She draws closer and listens intently, widening her eyes and refusing to blink in case she is pounced on by something wanting to do her harm. Behind her she hears more rustling and freezing she listens as the sound moves closer still. Teeth bared, eyes darkened in both fear and rage, Angelica spins round and bites into the shape behind her; she’s not sure what she is attacking but she won’t be taken down without a fight. Blind with anger, she drags the enemy down to the ground.

‘Owwww, Angelica…Get off me! Owwwww…that really hurts.’

Angelica stands up and looks down in shock at her friend, Floretta. She spies a smear of blood running down her fellow fairy’s arm and realises that she had taken a bite out of her thinking that she was the enemy. The wound will heal quickly as is the way with all Fairies. Recovering from the surprise of again being pounced on, Angelica’s face changes to that of annoyance.

‘Damn you, Floretta. Why do you always do this? It’s not funny at all. How would you like it if I jumped out on you? It’s risky out here as it is, I could have scratched your eyes out, or broke your wings! You really are a stupid mare, you know that?’

While she rants at her, Floretta can do nothing else but laugh. She tries to hide it at first when she sees how angry Angelica is, but with the risk of biting her lip off she opens her mouth wide and lets out a loud, raucous laugh. Angelica is not pleased that she isn’t taking this seriously, she crosses her arms and her eyes grow darker as the rage builds up inside her.

‘Calm it down, Angie…You don’t half get worked up. It was a bit of fun; a laugh! It was so funny seeing you skulking around, I think this may go down as one of the best pranks yet. You looked so scared!’

Angelicas eyes narrow at her friend and she turns her back on her and flaps her wings energetically, taking off in a huff. Floretta follows closely behind, still grinning to herself as she relives the joke.

‘Leave me alone!’ Angelica shouts back at her friend, refusing to make eye contact. Floretta bumps into her deliberately with force, causing her to fly off track and bounce into a tree. Again, she falls into fits of laughter, tears streaming down her cheeks.

‘That is it’, thought Angelica, ‘time to give her a piece of her own medicine.’

Reaching around suddenly, she grabs Floretta around the waist and beats her wings frantically, taking the pair of them higher and higher. Her friend twists in her arms, both jubilant at this sudden change of play and fearful of what Angelica has in mind. Rising higher and higher, past the tops of the trees, she sweats at the over-exertion but continues her upwards path. Finally, she looks into her friends eyes and sees her fear penetrate. They have never been up this high and her friend is unused to heights like this; its not been tested by them but they have heard it said that a fairy’s wings wont work when they get too high. Almost on cue, Angelica feels her wings become useless and winks at Floretta who is still grasped within her arms. There is a split second of silence as they hover temporarily in the air and then they fall with speed back towards the ground. Floretta and Angelica both cry out, the rush from the fall is both exhilarating and terrifying. The air rushes at them from below and they cling to one another as they freefall rapidly. Floretta lets out a cry of terror as she sees the ground getting ever closer.

In all her panic, she forgets that her wings will now work; Angelica doesn’t…. waiting until the very last few feet she suddenly pulls upwards and flaps her wings enthusiastically bringing them to a sudden halt only inches from the floor.

Floretta squeals in relief and punches Angelica on the arm, sending her falling backwards until she lands unceremoniously on the ground. They both look at one another, eyes narrowed in anger. It is Angelica who smiles first, her sharp teeth showing as she giggles.

Floretta’s eyes widen and her mouth also shapes into a smile. Before long they are rolling around in the grass roaring with laughter, both clutching their stomachs. Slowly they regain composure and sit up and move closer to one another, resting they’re heads against one another. They hold hands and watch as the trees sway softly in the gentle wind.

‘Now that was fun,’ Angelica says, breaking the silence. She giggles again and squeezes Floretta’s hand.

‘Fun for you maybe; I thought I was going to become fodder,’ Floretta tries her best to feign hurt at her friends joke but can’t help but smile.

‘I have told you that I don’t like it when you jump out on me, I thought I would get my own back.’

‘Be honest, you were scared when I creeped up on you; probably thought I was a predator coming to feast on your puny fairy body didn’t you?’

Floretta laughs again at the memory and takes a sideways glance at Angelica who is giving her best, ‘you annoy me’ face, but her eyes are not dark enough and simply don’t portray the anger like they did earlier.

The light is dimming in the forest, welcoming the fireflies who are swarming around, lighting the evening up with their peaceful glow. The night-time in the enchanted forest brings its own dangers, different creatures come out to play, some of whom are not nice to be around in the dark. Stretching her arms up and fluttering her wings softly, Angelica shakes off the feeling of tiredness. It is time for her to leave, time for her to get back.

Floretta is looking directly at her, eyes searching to see if tonight will be the night that she stays. Life can be so lonely in this forest when Angelica isn’t in it, but she knows she can only stay for short periods. The knowledge that she always comes back is enough to stop her from pinning her friend down and forcing her to stay with her.

‘Time for me to go,’ Angelica responds, answering her friend’s quiet thoughts.

‘This sucks big time, can’t you stay a little longer?’

Stroking the back of her hand, Angelica looks at Floretta and smiles warmly.

‘If I stay then they will miss me, I can’t stay here permanently…we have spoke about this. I can’t choose one place to be because I love being a part of both. You are the bestest friend I have ever had, and I am so glad I met you here, but I have people waiting for me, people who love me too.’

Lifting herself off the floor, she reaches down and kisses Floretta gently on the cheek.

‘Now go and find yourself a spot to hide out for the night, you know its not safe for you out here at night-time. Get some rest and I will come back tomorrow. Okay?’

Floretta bats her eyelids and pulls a sulky face, playfully pulling on Angelica’s arm as though trying to prevent her from going. They both laugh and hug each other in goodbye.

Watching her flutter away, Angelica hopes her friend finds somewhere safe to hide out. The forest at night doesn’t just hide different dangerous creatures, it also welcomes un-earthly, evil beings. And these beings don’t like outsiders, especially someone like her.
Crawling back up onto the branches of the Oak Tree, she walks quickly towards the large mirror which floats magically in front of her. Placing her hand on the frame she looks around her, ensuring there aren’t any prying eyes.

‘Take me back,’ she whispers the familiar words and waits for the shift in the reflective glass. The surface ripples and swirls, appearing almost like water. She reaches into the mirror and steps gingerly into it, hoping the room on the other side is clear.

On entering the battered attic, Angelica is magically transformed back into a normal sixteen-year-old girl. The fairy wings are gone, the sharp teeth are no longer evident, and her eyes have changed from dark, soulless black to light blue. She is now 100% human; no trace of Fairy to be seen. Turning back towards the mirror she sees her own reflection staring back at her, she throws the dusty sheet back over it, hiding it from view and smiles to herself. She wouldn’t want it to be found by anyone else; the portal is very precious and only true believers would truly love the other world as she does. It has been 2 years since she first found this mirror. Following a move with her family, she had come into the attic to explore and found a host of interesting pieces. The mirror was like any other normal mirror, but when she read the inscription that was found written around the frame she noticed a change in the surface of the glass. Reaching into it with one hand, she was sucked into the Land of the Fairies. From that day onwards, she was introduced to a wonderful world where nature was at its best. The bonus was that she had made a lifelong friend in Floretta. There had been many adventures beyond that mirror; she was going to miss it.

In a few months she will be leaving for college; starting her educational life and leaving this mirror behind, she doesn’t know for how long. Floretta will be upset when she finally knows but Angelica has avoided telling her. The thought of leaving this other world behind causes her pain. Her heart loves both her human life and the one she leads as a Fairy. There are days when she wonders if she could leave here and simply exist in the land with Floretta, but she knows she would miss all that she loves about her world. She always knew that the day would come when she would have to decide which world to stay in for good; she can’t continue to live in two worlds. It makes her feel torn, she doesn’t know who she is when she is between worlds.

The day will come when she exits Floretta’s world for the last time. She will cover the mirror as she does now, and she will push boxes in front of it and she will leave it behind for good. Her friend won’t understand but she must do this. For now, she has a few months to enjoy the small piece of heaven she calls her 2nd home. Tomorrow will come and she will be broken as she forces herself to live as 16-year-old, Angelica and not the pretty, feisty Fairy she has come to love.

If it hadn’t been for her strong belief for things that can’t be seen, she would never have found the mirror or even been able to open its portal.

One thing she will always take from this is the power to believe.

This Month…

This Month I should be preparing for you to arrive.
This Month I should be feeling you swirl and tap dance in my tummy.
This Month I should be washing and rewashing your tiny clothes eager to put you into them.
This Month I should be fed up with pregnancy; groaning daily and eager for it to be over.
This Month I should be eating my body weight in pickled onions or other foods I crave.
This Month I should be talking to you repeatedly through the skin that parts us.
This Month I should be counting down the days until you arrive.
This Month I should be too big to drive around in my car.
This Month I should be complaining of heartburn and swollen ankles.
This Month I should be on maternity leave, enjoying the thought of the months ahead.
This Month your brothers should be welcoming a new sibling, someone they would love.
This Month I should be holding you for the first time in my arms after you have been born.
This Month I should be bringing you home to add a very welcome addition to our family.

 

Instead…

This Month I am plastering a smile on my face and trying to act like I am okay.
This Month I am crying almost daily at the days and memories I wont be able to make.
This Month I am picturing what you would have looked like and long for you painfully.
This Month I am carrying on at my work; trying to forget that I lost you.
This Month I am carrying on for my boys, and not showing them how sad I am.
This Month I am trying to push onwards and hoping April will be better.
This Month I sneak glances up at your memory box before I go to bed each night, knowing that your ashes are safely stored away in it.

This Month I miss you; I never had you, but I miss what you would have meant to us. I miss what you would have brought to our family and I miss the memories we wont now be able to make.

This Month I love you as I would have if you were here, but This Month I ache for you.

I lost you months before now, but This Month you should be Born.

Always thinking of you; always missing you, always wanting you. Never forgetting.

S x

Tainted Love

by Stephanie Geary

#triggerwarning

The steam from the boiled kettle rises and I blink myself out of my reverie and slowly go through the motions to make myself a cup of coffee. I add sugar and stir absentmindedly whilst adding a dash of milk from the milk jug. My mind and body are moving in slow motion and I gingerly take my hot cup to the kitchen breakfast bar and climb up onto a stool, my eyes moving around the room but unseeing. I knit my hands together on my lap and bite my lip, wincing at the pain. My mind is trying to figure out today’s events; I know I am in shock, but I need to figure out how my life got to here.

I hear the distinct sound of a cat’s meow and I see Tammy, our tortoise-shell feline enter the kitchen. I wonder whether she can sense that something is wrong; does she know what has happened here today? I get up slowly and go through the motions of feeding her. Tammy is rubbing herself around my legs, but I don’t pay much notice. My mind is elsewhere.

I return to the breakfast bar and take a few sips of my coffee, the bitter-sweet taste hitting my senses and allowing me a moment of clarity. Once I finish my drink I instinctively carry it straight to the sink and wash it up before drying it vigorously and placing it neatly into the cupboard dedicated to mugs. There is never any time to breathe in this house, never any time to relax. Everything must be done as he demands it, whether it be cleaning, talking or even how we dress. My husband is not one to be disobeyed. He makes the rules and we obey them. So I wash this cup up quickly and without delay, any mess of any kind would only bring on a torrid of abuse so I do anything I can to avoid it.

My mind wanders back to the day I met him, and I wish I could go back and tell myself to walk away. I wish I could yell, plead or even beg that stupid naïve girl to run as fast and as far as her legs could carry her. But then I remember, without him there wouldn’t be HER and she is the one shining beacon in the whole of my bleak, ugly world. Our daughter Gabby is coming 8 years old and she is a beautiful, intelligent little girl. She has her fathers looks but her mothers heart and I am very glad of that. I know she sees how her father is; she sees his anger and his violent out spurts. Gabby sees and hears my terror of the man she calls Daddy, but she has never spoken of it. Of all his faults, he has never placed a hand on her. He has shouted at her and spoke viciously about me in front of her, but he has never physically hurt her. Trevor keeps all that special treatment just for me.

When I first met Trevor, he was the most wanted man in the town, every girl wanted to date him. But not me. I had just got out of a relationship with my long-term boyfriend and I was ready to enjoy my single life for a while. Trevor saw me and wanted me. He chased me for weeks before I finally agreed to go on a date with him. He knew how to hook me, knew how to get me to fall in love with him and it didn’t take long. After only a month of dates I was well and truly besotted. He was charming and made me feel special. I would have followed him everywhere. And I did; within a few months I had moved out of my parent’s house and had moved in with him. Within the year we were married. Up until that point he was the perfect partner, he was always bringing me gifts and telling me how much he loved me. It was too much at times, but I liked it.

It was the little things that changed at first; he started coming in later from work and the gifts became less and less. There were less declarations of love and more naggings. He complained that his shirt wasn’t ironed properly or that his dinner was undercooked. The complaining was meant to confuse me, to make me pander to him. I promised to do better. I had got used to the feeling of being special and started to feel useless as a wife. I felt like a failure and told myself and Trevor that I would try better. Each day I was told something else was wrong, until eventually he took a disliking to the clothes I wore. He said it was because he didn’t like other guys being attracted to me and suggested I wore less revealing shirts and I did as he said. I stopped wearing tops with low cuts and wore trousers all the time. Whatever I could do to make him happy I did. The shower of love he gave me came intermittently and it made me eager to get those feelings back. I grasped for any attention he gave me and eagerly lapped it up when he was in a ‘good mood’. In the beginning he never physically hurt me, it was mental abuse I endured at first, but I wasn’t to know that I was being abused until much later. There were good days back then, days when I was made to feel special again, days when I didn’t feel lacking as a wife. I welcomed those days and reminded myself that Trevor loved me and that is why he reminded me when I got things wrong. He was simply looking out for me, or so I thought.

Bit by bit I retreated into our home and stopped seeing other people in my life. My parents, my friends; they all stayed away as they always felt unwelcome and I spent so much time cleaning the house and making sure it was perfect that I never had time to visit them. Trevor preferred that, he liked that I depended on him for company, that I had nobody else to look after me. The more time that went in between seeing other people, the less I missed them. When I found out I was pregnant, Trevor convinced me that I was better off staying in the house to keep me safe and I believed him. I busied myself with online shopping and brought nursery items and decorated our babies room. The days of my pregnancy ticked by slowly, but Trevor’s mental torture went on despite the growing baby in my belly. He bellowed at me when dinner was late on the table, ridiculed my weight as my body grew to accommodate the baby and complained at me when the housekeeping wasn’t done to his standard. From early morning until late into the night I was hoovering, cleaning, dusting, washing, mopping, wiping, scrubbing and drying. Every part of our home was spotless, but he always found fault with something; always found a spot I had missed or faltered over a cushion being out of place. There was no let up. He made me feel so low, I was tired, suffered terrible morning sickness, and my ankles were badly swollen, but I couldn’t rest. If I sat down to catch my breath he would make sarcastic remarks and ‘joke’ that I was lazy.

My naivety stopped me from questioning how he was treating me. I figured it was just his way of showing he loved me. I believed him when he showered me with love on the days he was happy. And I excused how he spoke to me, putting it down to him being stressed by his tiring job.

When Gabby was born I was expecting the whole situation to do a U turn. I thought it would show him what was important, but the birth of our daughter which should have been one the best moments of his life only helped to make him worse. It was evident days after we had come home from hospital that he wasn’t happy and when he was woken up during the night, he swore at me to get her out the room and I spent most of my nights sitting downstairs to avoid disturbing him and igniting his anger. Trevor didn’t spend much time with our daughter and he hated to see me with her, I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time and I wasn’t sure why he seemed so distant with her. Now, looking back I see that it was jealousy. For so long in our relationship he had me at his beck and call and then he had to share my attention with a defenceless crying baby. Those nights when I sat up alone with our baby were some of the loneliest yet beautiful of my life. They were bitter-sweet. I hated not sharing those moments with my husband, but I loved spending those same moments with Gabby. Her small hands wrapped around my finger and held on tight as I held her against my breast to feed. Remembering those dark, quiet nights bring tears to my eyes. I was still adamant that things would get better, that she would win her Daddy’s heart as she had done mine. I was stupid to think that he would come around, stupid to think that I could change him. If anything, he got worse. Gabby has witnessed so much heartache and if I could wish just one thing it would be that I had gotten out when I had had the chance. I should have taken our things and escaped before things went too far. But what is the point of wishing to change the past when it is not possible?

When Gabby was six months old, I was attacked by my husband. This would be the first of many times that he struck me. That first night I had been feeding Gabby when he had insisted that I come to bed, he made comments that I had been a prude since our daughter had been born and he had a right as a husband to feel loved. I laughed timidly thinking that he was joking, but he wasn’t. I could see in his eyes that he wasn’t in the mood to argue. I told him that Gabby hadn’t finished feeding and he approached me, fire burning in his eyes as he lifted her from me and placed her in her crib. The screams that rose from her tore through me, she was hungry and was venting her frustration the only way she knew how. Trevor shouted for her to shut up and grabbed me by the arm, pulling me roughly up the stairs. My heart was racing, the cries from our daughter ringing in my ears, my stomach churning as I longed to hold her to me, to comfort her. The emotions raging through me were too much and I still thought I could say no. Trevor had never gone this far before, he would stop if I said so. I pushed him away from me, releasing my arm from his grip and told him that I needed to go back to Gabby. Before I had a chance to turn away from him, he grabbed me by the throat and pushed me roughly against the wall. With this free hand he slapped me hard across the face, and his angry eyes bore into me, he told me to never try to push him away again. My head bumped roughly against the wall as his hands tore at my clothes, ripping the material. Our daughter’s cries had faded slightly, could she sense that something bad was happening?
My hands hung loosely at my sides, I knew I should fight but I was in shock. With his grip still around my throat he pulled me roughly into our bedroom and threw me onto the bed. I looked at him pleadingly and tears sprung to my eyes. Raising my hands in defence I told him that I didn’t want this. To my astonishment, Trevor laughed. He laughed at me. Trevor poked fun at my post baby body and told me I was a rubbish wife. The shame I felt washed over me. I looked at this man, the man who I loved, and I didn’t recognise him. All at once I saw the man he was, the bully that had always been hidden from me. I trembled in fear as he covered my body with his, he pulled my underwear aside roughly and raped me on our bed. My mind tried to go elsewhere but the pain was too much, he was so rough with me and I couldn’t breathe. The pain and fear I felt were unmeasurable. Once he had finished he rolled off me and he pushed me off the bed. Trying to keep as much dignity in tact as possible I gathered the bits of material that were my clothes around me and left the room silently. I managed to make my way downstairs, the pain between my legs burning with every step and when I reached the crib I looked down at my sleeping baby. Once I saw that she was okay I let the tears fall. I wanted to scream and shout, but I didn’t want to give Trevor more fuel to come back for more. A part of me died that night, but still I stayed with him.

From that point onwards, my life with Trevor became a nightmare. I no longer saw him as the man I loved, but rather the man I lived with who terrified me more than anyone or anything else. The physical and sexual abuse were daily occurrences; with every strike and every forced sex act I felt another chunk of me fall away. I considered telling my parents, confiding in them but it had been so long since I had seen them I didn’t want to have to tell them what he was doing to their daughter. I should have left but I couldn’t make myself do it. I was too frightened of what he would do to me if he caught up with me. My only concern was my daughter, making sure he didn’t hurt her. Trevor didn’t pay much attention to her as she was growing, didn’t care too much about the milestones she reached or when she started calling him Daddy, but he never put a finger on her. Not that I ever trusted him around her. She was never out of my sight, I made sure she was safe from him every waking day. Not only with what he could or might do to her, but what she witnessed him do to me. There were times when he got a bit physical with me that she met my eye. I would say sweetly for her to go to her room and shut her door and she would obey, looking back occasionally as though she knew what I was going to have to endure. And again, I should have taken her away from it all, but I feared him coming after us and taking her from me for good. She was all that mattered in my dark, relentless torturous days. Gabby was the reason why I got up of a morning, the reason why I could carry on.

The years had been hard for me, but if I kept her safe then that was all that mattered. He could do whatever he wanted to me, but not to her.

Today started like any other, I made breakfast for Gabby and got her ready for school. As we were going out of the door she dropped my mobile phone which cracked the screen. We were rushing out, so I left it on the kitchen counter and left hurriedly, not thinking of what Trevor might say if he saw it. When I let myself in this morning he was sat at the counter, holding my phone. The fear in my stomach, the feeling that is always there revved and churned, causing me to feel sick. The look in his face was both anger and satisfaction. Trevor loved belittling me, loved seeing the power he had over me, loved making me terrified of him.
He threw my phone at me and asked me what had happened, and I started apologising in reflex. Trevor saw the fear in my eyes and jumped up out of his seat and punched me hard in the face. I cried tears of frustration and touched the spot on my mouth that had connected with his fist. I could feel it swelling and could taste the metallic taste of blood. That wasn’t enough for him; grabbing my hair he pulled me to face him and spit into my face. I wiped it away, but this angered him more. Shoving me roughly away from him he asked again what had happened. Crying and shaking I explained that Gabby had dropped it as she had exited for school that morning. The shame creeped over me as I tried to shield myself from him by using my daughter as a reason for him to not beat me. He looked at me, twisting his hands deeper into my hair calling me and our daughter bitches, Trevor’s face showed disgust as he mentioned our names telling me that our daughter needs to learn how to behave and that he should have a harder approach with her…

My thoughts are broken by the sound of the telephone in the hallway ringing. I get up and wipe the tears from my eyes. The caller ID indicates that the number is withheld, and I chose to ignore it knowing that it is almost time for me to leave to collect Gabby from school. I don’t have time to take surveys or sign up for new windows; my daughter needs picking up. It is almost 3pm and I need to get a move on. Walking steadily to the coat-rack I glimpse myself in the mirror and run my tongue over my broken top lip which looks red and sore; a deep cut running up to just underneath my nose. I wonder if I have time to cover it up but realise it would need a lot of work to hide it. If I get asked by one of the moms how it happened, then I can make something up. I have got good at that over the years. I button my coat up and pull my long hair out of the collar, wincing from the pain on my scalp.

Then I head back to the kitchen to collect my car-keys. Tammy eyes me suspiciously from her spot on the floor before turning her head, nestling down and resting herself against Trevor who is lying motionless on the floor. I am sure I should feel guilty for leaving him lying there in his own blood, but at this moment I feel nothing.

I am not sure if he meant what he said to come out so sinisterly, but I pictured him with his hands on our daughter and I saw red. After all the years of torment I saw him for what he was finally and without thinking I grabbed the nearest kitchen knife off the counter behind me and jammed it into his neck. The look of shock in his eyes will live with me forever. He was as shocked as I was. Stumbling weakly, he grabbed at his neck, blood spurting out and onto the kitchen floor. He slumped down and stared blankly upwards, the life draining from him.
I watched as he took his last breath, hardly realising that I was holding mine. The relief I felt when he died was so tremendous I started to laugh. I laughed and laughed until I started crying. Then I waited. I waited until the guilt and panic took over, but I felt nothing. I was glad he was dead.

Tears stung my eyes now but only because I wasn’t sure what my future held. What I did know is that this man in front of me would never ever make me feel worthless again. From this point forward, I would never let a man rule me, never live in fear. Turning my back on him I return to the hall and collect the packed bags for me and Gabby. I really wasn’t sure where I was going but at least I know we would be safe.

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