Authors: Kelly Carrero
By Kelly Carrero
Copyright 2014 by Kelly Carrero
This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons either living or deceased is purely coincidental. Names, places, characters and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. The author holds the rights to this work. It is illegal to reproduce this novel without written expressed consent from the author herself.
Cover Design by: Regina Wamba of MaeIDesign.com
Formatting by: Polgarus Studio
With my heart in my throat, I climbed over the railing. I wondered how on earth I had gotten myself into such a situation. A few days ago, I would’ve thought there would be no way in hell I would be standing on a bridge about to let go. But there I was, and there was no backing out.
“Stop being chicken shit and jump, Zara,” Emily taunted.
My legs were shaking, and my heart was beating so fast I thought I was going to have a heart attack.
“If you don’t jump now, I’m going to come over there and push you off myself!” she yelled.
The water looked to be fifty metres below rather than the ten metres I knew it to be. I turned to my left and saw the three girls I’d only met the day before. They had claimed to want to be my friends, but I had serious doubts after seeing the wicked grins on their faces. They looked as if they would be more than happy to rip my fingers off the rail and throw me off the bridge.
“I’ll do it,” I said, trying to save what little face I could. I was probably already going to be the joke of my new school, and I didn’t want to be known as the girl who was too scared to do what the rest of the kids did for fun. “Bridge jumping. What the fuck,” I muttered.
When Emily and Phoebe stepped toward me, I took a deep breath and jumped. I screamed all the way down until I plummeted into the warm, murky water, praying I wasn’t going to land on a shark. Thanking God that I was still alive, I swam to the surface and inhaled deeply. The girls cheered.
Amy pointed to my right, where the boys were still in the shallow water after their jumps. “Now swim over there and get your ass back up here so we can jump together,” she yelled, brushing her blond curls away from her face.
I started swimming the thirty metres back to shore. I hoped I wasn’t going to get attacked by a bull shark, since they were known to swim the Gold Coast canals. Why on earth the other kids thought it was fun to jump off a bridge was beyond me. The kids at my old school in Sydney would never have dreamed of doing such a thing. Their idea of fun was doing coffee, going shopping, and hanging at each other’s houses—not jumping into shark-infested waters. Okay, so maybe there really weren’t sharks swimming everywhere, but the thought that there had been a couple of sightings a few miles away scared the crap out of me.
“For a minute there, I didn’t think you would jump,” Tyler said when I got close to the boys. He drifted toward me, making my heartbeat go crazy again.
What the Gold Coast had that Sydney lacked was seriously hot guys with their shirts off all the time. I couldn’t believe what everyone wore, or I should say,
wear. Teenagers didn’t care about being seen in their underwear, and the shops were always filled with girls wearing bikinis and guys in nothing but boardshorts.
Tyler stood, revealing his washboard stomach that was probably thanks to countless hours out in the surf. “So how was it?” he asked, brushing a lock of brown hair away from his eyes.
“How was what?” I mentally slapped myself for the way my mind went to jelly around him.
He gave me an easy smile that sent my stomach into a quivering mess. “The jump. How was the jump?”
“Um, yeah. It was good.”
He chuckled. “Good, huh?”
“Yeah.” I stood, the water coming halfway up my stomach. When I saw Tyler’s eyes drop, I looked down at my chest and realised I could see my bra through my white sports uniform shirt. “Crap.” I sank back into the water.
Tyler laughed. “Maybe next time remember to wear your swimmers if you’re going to get embarrassed.”
The four other boys drifted over and flanked Tyler. “There’s no need to be shy around us,” Alex said, sparking a sense of danger I’d never felt before.
All eyes were fixed on me, and it wasn’t in a good way. I crossed my arms over my chest, stood, and quickly waded toward the shore.
Alex grabbed my arm as I tried to pass him. “Not so fast.”
“Let go of me,” I said, trying to rip my arm away.
“We only want to talk,” he said, not letting go.
Adrenaline pumped through my body. I looked up, hoping to see the girls’ faces hanging over the bridge. They had to be wondering where I was and what was taking me so long. But I realized we were a little under the bridge, and no one would be able to see us from up there.
I had to think quickly. “The girls are waiting for me. How about you guys come up for another jump with us?”
An evil smirk crept across Tyler’s face. “I don’t think so. They’re not up there anymore. They’ve gone back to school.”
I didn’t understand why they would leave without me, and I didn’t want to stick around tying to find out why. I tried to jerk my arm away again. “Let go of me.”
Alex dug his fingers into my arm as the boys began to form a circle around me. I started to panic.
“What are you doing?” I asked nervously.
Tyler’s smile turned my blood cold. “I think you’ve already worked that one out.”
I felt as if my breath had been punched out of me. “No,” I murmured, shaking my head in disbelief.
Alex tripped me and pushed me under the surface. My mouth filled with water as I desperately tried to get a breath of air in before I was fully submerged. A moment later he brought me back up. My lungs felt as if they were on fire as I coughed up the water I’d taken in. As soon as I resurfaced, I felt hands grab at my wrists and ankles, pulling my legs to the surface.
“Please don’t do this,” I cried between spitting out mouthfuls of water.
Tyler moved to stand between my legs, running his hand up the inside of my calf.
“Leave me alone!” I yelled. I bucked futilely as he slipped his hand up my thigh and fingered the hem of my panties.
“Now we can do this the easy way, or we can do it the hard way.”
I looked at each of the five boys, hoping to find a compassionate face, someone who would say, “That’s enough,” or that they were just messing around with me. But all I saw were cold, lustful eyes staring at my crotch.
“Please don’t do this.” I started to cry.
I thrashed hopelessly as Tyler ran his hands up my hips and grabbed the elastic of my panties. I was completely at his mercy, unable to get away. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I realised that my life was about to be changed forever. There was only one thing I could think of to do. I knew I would probably pay for it, but I had to try.
“Rape!” I screamed at the top of my lungs.
Alex slapped a hand over my mouth and shoved my face under the water.
I tried to kick my legs free and break the hold they had on me, but my efforts were futile. The guys weren’t letting go, and I was running out of air. I pushed my face up as high as I could, but it still wasn’t enough. My vision started to blur as darkness crept over me, a sense of peace settling my panicked state, until I could see no more. Then boom. Bright lights suddenly illuminated all my senses, and that was all I knew.
I came to, treading water and gasping for air. The boys were racing for the shore. Somehow I was out in the middle of the canal, but I had no idea what had happened or why they’d let me go. I put my hand under my skirt, praying my panties were still there—they were.
“You’re a fucking crazy bitch!” Tyler yelled as he and his mates scrambled up to the bridge with fear in their eyes.
He had tried to rape me, but
was the crazy one? I stayed in the water a little longer, afraid to swim to shore in case they came back to finish what they started. Finally, I decided I had to risk it. I couldn’t stay in the canal forever.
As I walked out of the water, I looked back and just about peed myself when I saw a guy about fifty metres out, looking directly at me. His eyes never wavered from mine as he slowly sank under the water. What had freaked me was not that someone was watching me—it was his eyes. They were solid black.
I rubbed at my eyes, thinking there was no way I could’ve seen right. I stood there waiting for him to resurface, but he never did. The way he had looked at me was unnerving. And his eyes… no matter how freakish they were, there was something familiar about them.
Shaking off my obvious oxygen-deprived hallucination, I walked up the bank to the path and then over the bridge, grabbing my bag along the way. There was no way I was going back to school, so I headed home.
By the time I arrived, I was completely dry. I dumped my bag next to the hall table and went upstairs to my bedroom. I locked the door behind me.
I expected to fall to pieces the minute I was alone, but I didn’t. The whole thing felt as if it had happened to someone else. I remembered my fear and that feeling of helplessness from when they had held me down, but the emotional connection I should have felt didn’t exist.
I could’ve put it down to denial, but something had happened after I blacked out, and I knew whatever it was would explain why I didn’t have the emotional connection to the incident.
What the hell was wrong with me?
I was almost raped, and yet I was referring to it as an “incident.”
After grabbing a pair of shorts and a tank top from my closet, I went into the adjoining bathroom. We had only been in our new home for a week, and nothing seemed to be going how it should’ve for me. I thought I had made some new friends, but those girls had set me up.
All I wanted to do was go home, back to Sydney, where I had been happy and where all my friends were. But my father had gotten a CEO position earning a lot more money than we would ever need. The fact that he was screwing up my life in the process didn’t bother him. I had been days away from finishing school and still had numerous exams, but nothing stood in the way of his career.
I threw my clothes onto the ottoman then turned to the sink. When I saw my reflection in the mirror, I almost peed my pants. My normally brown eyes were solid black, not just the irises, but the whites, too. I rubbed my eyes with my fists then looked again. My regular brown eyes stared back at me.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” I muttered.
Turning my back to the mirror, I walked over to the shower and twisted the taps. I grabbed my towel and slung it over the frameless glass panel then undressed and hopped under the steaming water.
I tilted my head back, letting the water run down my face. The moment I closed my eyes, images of hands groping me flashed through my mind. I was going under, but I wasn’t afraid. I felt at peace.
The next thing I knew, I was going down. Literally. I smacked my head against the tiles and passed out.
Cold water jolted me awake. I looked around and realised I was still in the shower. I groaned as I tried to sit up. My head felt as if there were a jackhammer pounding against my brain, and my body ached from lying in that contorted position.
I pressed the palm of my hand against my forehead, hoping the pressure would alleviate the pain, but it did nothing to stop the constant hammering against my skull. I clambered to my feet, turned off the water, and stepped out of the shower. Grabbing the towel off the rail, I wrapped it around me then picked up another for my hair. I changed into my clothes and looked in the mirror. My brown eyes stared back at me. I thought maybe what had happened in the canal would have had some kind of effect.
Of course it did, you idiot
You don’t just get over something like that. It stays with you for life.
I wished there was someone I could talk to about it. But I had no friends on the Coast, and I couldn’t bring myself to tell any of my friends back in Sydney. What could I say when I didn’t really know what had happened? One second, I was about to be raped, and the next, they were calling me a crazy bitch as they ran away. I didn’t get why they would say that or how I could’ve stood a chance against five guys. Maybe it had something to do with the guy I saw disappear under the water.
I laughed. The “guy” had probably just been a bull-nose shark, and I was lucky not to have been bitten by it.
I went down the stairs to the kitchen. The sun had almost set, but of course, my father wasn’t home. He hardly ever came home before nine p.m.—if he came home at all. He wasn’t a practical parent. Hell, I could barely call him a parent at all. He was more like a housemate that I never saw. Where he sucked in parenting skills, he made up with other things. He thought money could buy happiness, so he’d given me a credit card, and he never questioned the bill. He’d even bought me a new car for my eighteenth birthday. But I was too embarrassed to drive to my new school in a Mercedes when so many other kids didn’t even have wheels. What he never understood was that I would’ve given up all of those things for a father who actually gave a damn about me.