Skin to Skin

By: J.M. Stone

Dedication

To Nathan (Bubba) and Josh for “southern lips” and “ANAL”, even though I didn’t use them. Yet. You two are a riot!





Prologue

Fireworks exploded behind my eyes as Greg slapped me across the face once more. I slumped to the floor, my hand over my cheek. I pressed my fingers gingerly over the spot where it seemed my skin was on fire, wincing when I touched broken skin and wetness that surely indicated blood.

“You just don’t know when to fucking quit, do you bitch?”

I opened my mouth automatically to deny…to ask what I’d done now, but I should have known better.

Before a sound had even passed my lips, he was swinging, screaming, “I don’t know how many times I have to tell you! Are you ever gonna learn, you stupid little cunt? God damn, I should have strangled you last time and saved myself the fucking trouble of going through this again!”

I squeezed my eyes tightly shut; I didn’t want to see the blows that were coming. I could feel the wetness of blood begin to trickle down my cheek, and my eyes were starting to swell. A scream wrenched from my throat as the toe of his boot connected with my tender ribs, then my arm as I instinctively wrapped it around my body for some kind of protection.

But the abuse just kept coming in rapid succession. I tried to crawl away to no avail; he only followed, punching and kicking while I tried my damndest to protect my head and the other vital parts of my body.

I sobbed in pain, writhing on the floor while he stood over me, spittle flying from his lips as he yelled, screamed, and raged at me for whatever transgression I’d committed this time…and as the blows continued to rain down on my abused body, I slipped inside myself, floating away where I couldn’t feel it anymore, where he couldn’t touch me anymore.

The words of the lullaby my mom used to sing me tumbled through my mind and I sang them tunelessly in my head, letting them carry me further into the darkness that soothed me, brought me relief…

The moon is shining brightly

Over top your wee-bit head

So rest your eyes my little girl

As Momma tucks you into bed

Off to sleep now, off to dream

Snuggle in and hug me tight

I love you always and forever

Go to sleep, my girl, goodnight.





Chapter 1

“I kissed Brandon.”

The words exploded from my mouth, followed by a whispered apology, before I could even think about stopping them. Horrified, I clapped my hand over my lips, squeezing my eyes shut as I imagined Allie’s fist meeting my face. That was so not how I envisioned finally getting this off my chest.

When nothing but silence met my comment, I risked peeking over at her. She was standing beside me, her hands frozen over the flaps of the box we were unpacking that had just come into her store. She stood like that for just a second before she smoothed her hands down her swollen stomach and nodded decisively.

“You know, I was going to ask you why there was some kind of tension between you two. Guess I don’t have to do that now, huh?”

She chuckled wryly, the corner of her mouth tilting up in a half-smile.

My heart stopped, but my face crumpled and my mouth started running of its own volition.

“I…I don’t have any excuse, really, Allie. I’m sorry. I’m so, so completely sorry, and I really never meant for it to happen. We were just on that road trip and I got drunk one night when I was feeling sorry for myself and…I just kissed him.” I threw my hands up, shaking my head as I felt tears threaten.

Soft, small hands cupped my cheeks and brought my face around. My eyes clashed with the big, bright blue ones of my future sister-in-law.

She sighed, her thumbs gently wiping away the tears that had just started to fall. “Chloe, don’t cry. You didn’t do anything wrong. Brandon and I were done at that point. I’m marrying your brother, and I’m having your nephew. I’m not mad…I won’t lie to you and say it doesn’t hurt a little…but I’m not mad.”

The tears began flowing faster down my cheeks. How could I have done this to the amazing person standing in front of me? How could I have hurt the person who has done so much for me ever since I showed up unannounced and buried under a mountain of personal baggage?

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