Read Circling Carousels Online

Authors: Ashlee North

Circling Carousels

Circling Carousels
By Ashlee North

Circling Carousels
by: Ashlee North

Copyright © 2014 Ashlee North

All rights reserved.

This book or part thereof may not be reproduced in any form, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means-electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise-without prior written permission of the publisher, except as provided by United States of America copyright law.

Published by

Christine F. Anderson Publishing & Media, Madison VA, 22727

ISBN: 978-0692308141

Printed in the United States of America

To my gorgeous girl, who changed the direction of my carousel and rode the horses with me.

Chapter 1

he moans and screams could be heard throughout the entire maternity ward. A woman was in pain—her delivery frightening, her age very young, and her body not quite strong or nourished enough for the effort that now had to be given to her task. She hadn’t received any pain medication, as she felt she could do without and that it wouldn’t be so bad. Now she wished she had said yes to that epidural she was offered hours ago, but
she hadn’t even known what an epidural was.

Her name was Candice, and she was sixteen years old. She was without the proper instruction about how this would feel and had no one to take care of her. She had never been taught the knowledge and understanding she now needed, and she had no idea up until now just how painful it would all be or how terrifying it was to have a group of strangers with worried faces at the foot of her bed. Candice was looking at them now, searching and pleading with her eyes for answers as to why this hurt so much and if there was something wrong. Was her baby all right? Would she live through the bone-wracking pain and searing emotion?

The screams were involuntary. She wanted to be quiet. She wanted this to be the wonderful, natural process others had said it would be, but she was rendered unable to do that. She wanted to ask the questions that were running through her mind, but she could hardly breathe. Her gasps came in ragged sobs, and her pulse was extremely elevated. At the end of the bed, two midwives, three doctors, and two other nurses stood, preparing for the worst, instruments at the ready, along with the machines that could revive her should the need arise. The conversation among the medical staff was almost inaudible, and although Candice strained her ears, between contractions, she was unable to make out what they were saying.

From what she could see, the room was small and brightly lit. It had white walls and white curtains around the bed. White sheets covered her almost naked body. This was the first time Candice had been in a hospital bed. The stark nothingness of the décor added to her concerns about her health and the health of her baby. It was very clean, but she didn’t like it—it felt like somewhere one would go to die, a scenario Candice had seen more than her fair share of previous to this day.

From an early age, Candice’s life had been a lonely one. At fourteen, her mother, a chronic alcoholic, threw her out of the family home in a drunken rage. Her father, so weak when faced with decision-making, wouldn’t try to stop it from happening. Her mother had told Candice that if she were to return, she would kill her, that she was no longer welcome in her life, and that she never wanted to see or hear from her again. Candice believed her. Her father stood silent. She was an only child with no relatives to help her and without an established group of friends who could be there for her.

Candice became a child of the streets, a homeless person. She dragged around the meagre belongings of one who had to leave her house in a hurry and get as far away as possible. She had two bags and guarded them with her life, knowing their contents were all she had left in the world. When she slept on the cold ground or a bench in the park, she would place the bags under or near her head so that no one could take them from her.

Candice was a naturally beautiful girl. She needed no adornment to be so. Her long, wavy blonde hair framed her small oval face. Her eyes, although dulled by tiredness, were an extreme blue, one usually achieved by using coloured contact lenses. She had the body of so many young girls, perfectly proportioned, long shapely legs and the flat stomach of one who exercised a lot and ate only a little. She was like honey to the bees with the boys, and even living on the streets, she held a waif-like beauty that caused caring strangers to wonder how on earth she got to this place in her life.

In her weakened state, she was beginning to look a little more gaunt, undernourished, and unkempt than before, but she was holding her own. She had been living on the streets, under bridges, and every now and then in a crisis centre, but she was doing okay. She still brushed her long hair and made sure she washed or showered every couple of days. She was looking after herself the best she could.

Candice had learned so much about life and people and how and where to get free food and a bed. She was still naive in some ways, but in others, she had become wise. She learned certain places were dangerous and at times, the safest of streets and parks would morph into the most evil of trading grounds in drugs, guns, and sex. She learned how to run, where to run, and who the major players were in the games of the night.

Despite all this, she was still naive in the ways of men and how they played their games with the minds and hearts of teenage girls. A man showed her care, and she began to trust him. In time, she would think her trust to be misplaced, but for a while, he was her knight in shining armour. His name was Darren. She met him in the kitchen of one of the halfway houses in the city. He was young, strong, dark haired, and muscular. He had a smile that could melt any girl’s heart and turn her legs to jelly. The night they met, Candice had gone to the building to obtain a meal, as she often did, and there he was serving food, smiling with his eyes and caring for those who had found themselves in a difficult place in life. Candice, who was a regular in the house, almost lost her dinner to the floor that night as they
both came around the corner and in through the kitchen door at the same time. Darren was carrying a large bowl of buttered rolls, and she was carrying her fully-laden plate. He dropped his load, and she nearly dropped hers. Their eyes met as she knelt down to help him with the bread. Darren stopped what he was doing and looked into her striking blue eyes, and she stopped what she was doing and looked at his tanned, handsome face with the gorgeous smile.

Although Darren thought she was looking a bit scruffy around the edges, he still found himself strongly drawn to her and intrigued by her beauty despite the look of her worn and slightly grubby clothes and her need for a soup kitchen meal. Candice, despite her current state of homelessness, looked at him confidently, knowing that she still had quite an effect on men and that he had noticed her looks and charm. The rolls having been retrieved, both Darren and Candice stood, straightened, and smiled, he returning to his work and she to her meal in the dining room.

Later that evening, they met again outside the house as Candice was chatting with another of the halfway house regulars. Darren came towards her, felt he shouldn’t interrupt, and almost walked on by when she deliberately caught his attention with a toss of her head and three simple words: “Well, hello there.”

He stopped, unashamedly looked at her in her entirety, and began talking to her about, of all things, the length and colour of her hair. The other girl excused herself, realising she was simply in the way, and Candice and Darren talked for another half hour about anything and everything, but certainly not about Candice’s present lifestyle. Darren thought it best that he not embarrass her by asking her what had happened to bring her to this reality, but there were plenty of other things to talk about. When he offered her a cigarette, she accepted it and sat down on the lawn with him, enjoying his company, his attention, and the warmth coming from his eyes.

From that point on, Candice made the halfway house the only place she ate or stayed. No one on staff minded. She was a joy and would lend a hand to help any way she could, so they
would happily greet her when she came to dine there or stay overnight in a bed in the dorms. Each night, Candice would wait for Darren to come to volunteer his time, and she quickly discovered his routine and the nights he would frequent the house. Each time they met, he would come to her side and talk, laugh, and flirt with her, often softly stroking her arm, which was more intimacy than she had ever felt. She had no qualms now telling him about where she had come from and how her life had led to here, and he returned the openness of conversation by telling her of his exploits and plans and hope for a bright future. Candice had no idea what her future held, so she was unable to say for certain, but she did have dreams and these she shared with her willing listener.

Candice was still sleeping outside about three out of seven nights a week, but now, thanks to Darren, who had advocated on her behalf, she had secured a permanent place in the halfway home for the other four. She was pleased to have found the trust and care of a place she could almost call her own. On the nights outside, she would long for the inside evenings, not only for the warm bed, but also for the company of her gentleman friend. He was growing on her quite quickly, and she was fast beginning to long for his company. He was feeling the same, thinking about her constantly and dreaming of seeing her the next time. From the moment they said goodbye until they were together again, all of their thoughts revolved around the other. Neither of them had entered into any discussion about their growing feelings, but the frequency of touch and their desire to be together was undeniable. Still Candice had to remind herself that Darren was from a prominent society family and that she was now a homeless person, but it didn’t change the closeness that was becoming evident to all around them.

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