Rellik Page 1

Author: Teresa Mummert

Genres: New Adult , Romance

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Prologue - Forsaken

Forsaken: abandoned or deserted

I could still feel the warmth of her blood between my fingertips, my mind clouded in a heavy fog as thick as the syrupy substance on my hands. I stood over Katie, her face marred with dirt-stained tears as she stared off into nothingness. The leaves around us rustled as the wind blew hot against my back, the oppressive Southern heat making it hard to breathe. If it weren’t for the breeze, I would have sworn that the earth had frozen on its axis, suspending us in time. Heavy raindrops fell from the leaves, sending the crimson pool rippling around her still body.

“Katie, it’s gonna be okay,” I mumbled as I slid my hands under her back, lifting her from the dirt. Her body was limp, and I struggled to stand as her head fell back. Her long dark hair, slicked with blood, hung in the freshly made mud from the late-night Florida storm. “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”

I looped my other hand under her knees, my shoulder colliding hard with a tree as I pushed to my feet, bark biting into my flesh. I winced at the sudden burst of heat from my own superficial wound, but pain snapped me out of my daze and back into the moment. Time had not stilled for me, even if I would forever live in this moment.

Gritting my teeth, I began the long trudge out of the cover of the woods, our sanctuary turned hell. My muscles begged for reprieve, but I continued on, determined to find help.

It felt like hours had passed since I took her into my arms, and my muscles began to fail at the thought that it would be the last time. I placed her in the grass on the shoulder of Trails End Drive, pulling her ashy-toned face to my chest as I smoothed her hair from her cheek.

“I’m so sorry I got dirt in your hair.” My words were strangled, my vision blurred as I looked into the lifeless eyes of the girl I loved. I’d never even said the words out loud to her.

Light illuminated her body as I felt her being pulled from my grip, but God couldn’t take her. I still needed her here to be my angel. I held her close as hands ripped and clawed at my skin, desperate to pull her from my arms. My own body was being forced into the mud, as the silk of her hair slipped through my fingers.

“Call the police,” the stranger yelled. I watched the large silhouette holding her lifeless body walk away, blocking out the light momentarily. What I thought was heaven was the headlight of a rusted, blue pickup truck, God nothing more than a stranger. My angel had forsaken me. I closed my eyes as I quit struggling against the weight on my shoulders. There was no reason for me to fight anymore.

Aftermath

Chapter One—Rellik

Aftermath: the period of time after a bad and usually destructive event

“You have a killer smile,” the half-lit blonde with the perky tits slurred before tipping the bottle of bottom-shelf vodka to her mouth.

“All the better to eat you with, my dear.” I ran my tongue over my lips and smiled up at her as her h*ps swayed offbeat to the music. She giggled as she placed one knee beside me on the couch. I grabbed her h*ps to steady her as she straddled me.

“I can’t believe I’m going to f**k Rellik f**kin’ Bentley.” She attempted to take another sip, and I watched as vodka ran down her chin and pooled in her cle**age. Rolling my eyes, I jerked the bottle from her lips with more force than necessary.

“You won’t be if you pass the f**k out on my lap, now, will you?” I snapped.

She frowned as she put her hands on my shoulders and rolled her hips. “I’m sorry, baby,” she purred. “Did I hurt your feelings?” Her fingers trailed along my jaw, and I struggled to not pull back from her touch. Intimacy wasn’t my strong suit.

“Hardly.” I knocked her hand away and rested my head on the back of the couch as the alcohol began to warm my body and quiet the memories.

“Can I kiss it and make it better?” Her lips pressed against my chest, and I let my eyes fall closed.

“If it will shut you up.” I laughed as I slid my fingers into her hair and tightened my grip, guiding her head lower. I didn’t want her mouth on mine. It was a rule that was strictly adhered to.

They were all the same. Mindless whores willing to part their legs like the goddamn Red Sea just to be able to say they f**ked a guy in a band. But none of them really knew anything about me and the hell that lived inside my head. The rock star persona was a far cry from the man I really was. It was a shell. We weren’t even f**king famous, but it didn’t stop the local groupies from throwing themselves at us. We had built a steady fan base in New Orleans, and with the constant flow of tourists, our reputation had grown.

“You like that, baby?” The girl ran her tongue over her heavily glossed lower lip as she looked up at me through her fake lashes.

“I’m not your f**king baby. Do what you’re here to do or get the f**k out.”

She groaned and rolled her eyes, but her mouth went back around my dick, and she sucked as if her life depended on it. There was no secret what was happening here. She was using me to feel special, and I needed to forget.

“Fuck,” I mumbled as my fist tightened in her dry, bleached locks. My stomach muscles clenched as her tongue swirled under the head of my c**k before my dick hit the back of her throat. She gagged, and the reflex sent me over the edge. I came hard, holding her head in place to make sure she swallowed every last drop. She did so happily, wiping her pink acrylic nail under her mouth as she smiled up at me seductively.

“What about me?” she purred and just like that, the high from coming evaporated, the ever-present memories returned.

“What about you?” My eyes narrowed as I zipped my jeans and ran my hand over my stomach.

“You’re such a jerk,” she snapped as she pushed to her feet and straightened her top.

“You’re just figuring that out? It’s a little late for modesty, don’t you think?” My eyes drifted to her chest as she huffed and stormed off toward the door. “It was a pleasure,” I called after her with a chuckle as it slammed behind her. I didn’t play the game like other guys. I didn’t give a f**k anymore about trying to impress women and get on their good side. There was no point. It wouldn’t lead anywhere because there was nothing more I wanted than a good f**k and to be left alone. There was no challenge in the way they threw themselves at me.

I grabbed the open bottle of Jack from the stand beside the couch and tipped it to my lips, letting the welcomed burn wash away another day. There was a tap at the door, and it squeaked open as Trigger stuck his head inside.

“She didn’t last long.” He smirked as he glanced over his shoulder.

“Neither did I,” I quipped as I tipped the bottle up once more. Trigger shook his head, his caramel-colored hair falling into his eyes as his tongue piercing stuck out between his lips. Trig and I were polar opposites even though physically we could pass for brothers. I didn’t have a single tattoo or piercing. He had more ink than a f**king paperback, but he was one of the few people in the world I would die for, even kill for. He was also the only one who knew what kind of hell I’d been through because he had walked on the embers for most of his life.

“You killed her dreams,” Trig joked as he grabbed the bottle from my hand, laughing as it sloshed onto my stomach. His dog tags clinked as he chuckled, but there was no humor in his expression. Trigger had spent a few years in the army after he became of age, but was honorably discharged after a misunderstanding with his sergeant that they chalked up to PTSD. The real story was something he never talked about, and we all knew better than to bring it up.

“You’re a f**king dick, man,” I said as I ran the palms of my hands over my face. I was drained from our concert and needing a good night of sleep, but I knew that was wishful thinking. I hadn’t slept well since I was a teenager. Monsters loved to play in the dark. “Where are the guys?”

“Hangman is spending some quality time with those twins with the big tits, and Phantom is on the prowl. This is New Orleans.”

I nodded as I pushed to my feet. Phantom wouldn’t be back until it was time for us to leave. This was his old stomping grounds, and he had some business to take care of on the outskirts of the French Quarter. I didn’t ask him what that was, and he didn’t offer up any information. We worked well that way. Playing these small-time gigs brought in enough cash for gas money and to get us to the next set. That was more than enough for us, because we had long given up on living and merely survived. Our dreams had died years ago. The idea of being famous no longer meant anything.

“Why are you lurking around here?” I stretched my arms over my head, groaning from my sore muscles. “Go get yourself some strange. What’s the point of being in a band if you don’t use it to get some ass?”

“Next week is Savannah. Gotta keep my head on a swivel.” He spoke solemnly. The column of his throat bobbed as he swallowed hard, but his face showed no emotion. “I want you guys with me when I visit Casey.” I nodded, not knowing what to say. Trig was good at keeping that part of himself separate from our group. We’d all been avoiding the topic since the tour was planned out, but going back was what Trig needed to get closure.

Trigger tipped the bottle to his lips and drank until he had no choice but to come up for air.

“You having second thoughts?” I asked as he sank down into the chair adjacent to the couch.

“Absolutely not.” When Trig said he was going to do something, he made it happen. He was a man of his word, and after a life of broken promises, it was remarkable to see him turn out so put together—or maybe methodical would be a more accurate description. His eyes were so dark, they were nearly black, and after all he’d been through, it gave him an inhuman quality, reflecting the monster he thought he was. But real monsters thrived in chaos, ruled by pain. Trigger was one of the good guys, whether he saw it or not.

“We can cancel the Orlando dates and just go to Savannah for you. The guys won’t mind.” For the first time in years, I was ready to face my past, but I was willing to wait if it helped Trig.

“So I’m not the only one trying to avoid the past.” He shook his head and took another drink. I leaned forward and motioned for him to hand me the bottle, which he reluctantly gave me. Trigger had seen more carnage and horror than most can imagine, but war wasn’t what caused him to suffer. His pain was who he was, and it ate away at him like a cancer, until he had no choice but to face it and it would destroy him. “No. Deviating from a plan is what gets people in trouble. Plus, we’d run out of gas halfway there.”

“This isn’t Baghdad, Trig. You don’t have to live by those rules anymore, and I can make a few calls.”

“Those rules kept my ass alive through a nine-month deployment, and I don’t take handouts.”

“I’m just saying you’re not there anymore. You’re not going back. That shit is over.”

“Almost over. I need closure before I can move on.”

“You think you’ll be able to do that?” I asked, genuinely curious. “Just forget it all?”

“We don’t have any other choice in life, do we? Suck it up and drive on.” He shrugged. But being able to forgive and forget wasn’t my strong suit. I was more of an eye-for-an-eye type of man. The rules didn’t apply to me.

I grabbed my cell and texted my old friend Maric who’d been begging for me to come back to Florida for months.

I’ll be there soon. Let’s keep that thing we talked about between us.

Bad Seed

Chapter 2—Rellik

Bad Seed: a person who is seen as being congenitally disposed to wrongdoing and likely to be a bad influence on others

The thing about sins is they don’t have to be your own to haunt you. The sixth grade was the year I became obsessed with the classic rock my father would play in the garage while he worked on restoring his Barracuda. Pink Floyd and The Doors became part of the soundtrack to my life. I’d spent most of my free time coming up with my own lyrics, convinced one day my dad would be listening to me on the radio. I’d practice guitar, teaching myself the chords while my father shook his head and cursed under his breath in frustration. My life wasn’t nearly as bad as I perceived it to be, but your scale is weighted only by your own experiences. Little did I know it was about to get heavy.

* *

I sat in the back of the class as Ms. Simmons held up a plastic cup full of dirt, a green stem topped by two leaves protruding from the rim. I stuck my pointer finger in my cup and felt around in the dirt for my seed that had failed to flourish but came up empty. I couldn’t stop fidgeting. All I wanted to do was go home and see the guitar I was getting for my birthday. My eyes danced over Katie Alexander’s hair that cascaded in dark waves over the back of her chair as she held up her cup to examine it. I reached out with dirty fingers and slid them between the silky strands. It was even softer than I had imagined. A lopsided grin spread across my face just as Katie turned, scowling in disgust and crumbling my spirit.

“Ew! You got dirt in my hair!”

So I did what any twelve-year-old boy would do when faced by his crush and impending humiliation. I gripped her hair tightly in my hand and yanked until she squealed. Fat, salty tears rolled over her pink cheeks as the entire room turned to glare at me and time froze to a painful halt.

My hand fell free from her tresses as I averted my gaze to my own cup of dirt on my desk. No emerald leaves grew like they had from the others. It was a bad seed, just like me. I’d watered it like I was told, turned the cup daily in the windowsill to make sure it was getting the right amount of light, but like everything else I tried, I failed. But I refused to let anyone else know that I cared.

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