Authors: Casey L. Bond,Anna G. Coy
Copyright © 2014 by Casey L. Bond. All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any way by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise without the prior express permission of the author except as provided by USA Copyright Law. The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of a copyrighted work is illegal. Copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by fines and federal imprisonment.
This book is a work of fiction and does not represent any individual, living or dead. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Author photo taken by Sarah Dunlap.
Book cover designed by Casey L. Bond.
Professionally Edited by Anna Coy of AGC Editing and Services.
Formatted by Nadege Richards of Inkstain Interior Book Designing.
Published in the United States of America.
Shady Bay is dedicated to those who are so
bravely and fiercely fighting cancer and illness
and to the memory of those who have lost the battle
First and foremost
, I thank God for his many amazing blessings in my life and the wonderful miracles he has performed in the lives of the people I love. My cup runneth over.
Without the support of my husband Elton and our two beautiful daughters, Juliet and Eris, my dream wouldn’t be possible. Thank you for supporting me in my writing adventure.
I love you more than life itself.
My parents offer continual support and cheers and I love them so much. They are always in my corner and have been amazing positive influence throughout my life.
Love you guys!
My grandmother and extended family are also amazing. I love them, too. Thanks for reading my books.
A big thanks and hug to Jill Holton. She always reads for me and helps me make my manuscripts better. Love you, girl!
I love my Church girls! We need chocolate, ladies! Lisa Lovejoy, Emily Bond, Tara Sansom and Nikki Midkiff, love you!
The author community is full of amazingly supportive people and it would take more than a book to fill up the pages with those who have taken time to help me. I appreciate and love you all. I want to thank Rachael Brownell. She reads everything I throw in her direction, laughs with me and is an amazing per
son and friend. Love you, Rach!
Delisa Lynn is another wonderful friend. I enjoyed meeting her at the Louisville Authors Event, where we shared a table, many laughs with our Mama’s and even germs! Love you, Delisa. Milkshake Mavens!
The IndiePendents are crazy and supportive and I appreciate them so much. They include: Rachael Brownell, Delisa Lynn, Amber Nation, Cassy Roop, Savannah Stewart, Tara Paradise, Annalisa Nicole, Alissa Glenn, Ashley Ragsdale, Kay Manis, and Ashley Johnson.
aels, Nichole Greene, Mary Ting, Lila Felix and Mary Smith have been amazing. They are always willing to answer my questions and have supported me on every step of this journey. I love you girls!
Thanks for beta-reading Shady Bay, Jill Holton, Kris Seek, Rachael Brownell and Delisa Lynn.
Anna Coy, my editor, has become my friend and I want to thank her for all of her help outside of her awesome editing powers! She is a music maven (and yes, I love that word right now), is hilarious and a fabulous friend. Love you, Anna. Love you, Mama Connie!
Thanks and huge tackle hugs to my amazing street team: The Bond Girls! I love each and every one of you. Thank you for putting it together for me, Michelle Hart!
I owe a huge thank you to Todd Dyer. He gave me insight into the underground coal mines and the look and feel of them so I could write one scene in this book. I hope I did it justice and I appreciate your help so much.
To all of the amazing people in my community and in neighboring ones, I need to thank you. You’ve held book signings and invited me to festivals and fairs. Without you, I wouldn’t be able to get my books out there. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
ONE YEAR AGO . . .
My brothers sat
across the table from me.
Can’t believe I’m here again
. I came home waggin’ my tail behind me like a scolded dog. Castrated dog. She’d reeled me in, chewed me up and spit me out. The worst part was I’d let her. I should’ve seen her coming from a mile away. Starla. Stone cold bitch. I thought she loved me. I followed her all the way to Fort Lauderdale. Life was good, the sex was great, and for a while, she treated me like I was the only man in the world.
But it had been a bunch
of bullshit. She didn’t love me like she said, like she moaned. She didn’t want to spend the rest of her life with me, like she’d cooed as she raked her long painted-red-fingernails through my hair. No. Starla was a liar. My brothers referred to her as “the cougar.”
were right. She was twenty years older than my twenty-four. And she’d sunk her claws in deep. The wounds were still fresh. My blood was still pooling up in them. I took a deep draw off the long neck in front of me and slammed the bottle back onto the mahogany bar.
Parker stiffened and then grinned. “Dude, we tried to tell you. You had those rose-colored glasses on.” The neon lights across from us made his face glow
“Shut up, Park.”
He laughed. Parker was older than me, married to his perfect wife, Amy. They had adopted their perfect daughter, Maddy, a couple of years ago. He had nothing to complain about. That was for sure, and I didn’t feel like listening to a lecture or his bullshit right now. Easton remained quiet, and I was thankful that he was acting as a buffer between Parker and me.
Raking my hands through my hair, I growled. “I can’t stay here.” Easton had his wife, Melissa. Parker had perfection. Hell, even our cousin Gabe had gotten lucky and had married Aislin, the girl he’d loved forever and was too pussy to admit it. I’d have loved to have gotten a hold of that one. Maybe if I’d spent more time chasing her, I’d have beat Gabe to th
e punch. Maybe I’d never have met Starla. Maybe my life wouldn’t completely suck.
“What do you mean you can’t stay here? Surely, you aren’t going back to Florida?” Parker quirked an eyebrow at me. The bartender replaced our empty bottles
with full ones and we started sipping. Guys’ night out never tasted so good.
“I don’t know where I’m going, but I can’t
stay here. I don’t want to be here. I quit the mines. I can’t go back. Hell, I don’t want to go back. And I don’t know what I’m going to do, but it isn’t gonna be in or near Devil Creek.”
Easton looked over at me and held his hand up to stop more from spewing out Parker’s mouth.
Parker closed his trap. Easton looked me over, turned to Parker and said, “What about Shady?”
Parker narrowed his eyes. “Seriously?”
Easton nodded once. “Yep.”
“What’s Shady?” I asked.
Easton answered first. “A business venture that we’re working on. My company is building a bar in Myrtle Beach. Parker and I are partners; joint owners. If he agrees, you could go down and work for my guys to build the place. Spend some time away from Devil Creek, see if you like Myrtle. Then if you want to stay, you could manage it for us.”
“When did this happen?”
“While you were hunting cougar, Jax.” Parker laughed.
Keep laughing, assbag
. I took a deep draw of beer. Tasted like freedom. “I’ll go.”
Parker stopped laughing and took a quick swig looking from me to Easton, worry etched on his brow. Easton just chuckled at him and nodded once at me. “You start Monday. I own a small
townhouse complex and can hook you up. One of the units is vacant. Better get packed and on the road early tomorrow. I’ll text you with the details.”
Grumbling, Parker muttered, “Looks like guys
’ night out is over.”
As we finished our
drinks, excitement began coursing through my veins. This could be fun.
I sat on
the hard wooden bench directly behind the defendant’s table in the generic courtroom. White ceilings bled into white walls. Those drifted into wooden paneling, which was stained a warmer color than the worn wooden floor. I’d never been in a Federal building before the trial, let alone been wanded, scanned and patted down.
, I knew the drill and knew to arrive early so that I could sit behind my dad. I’d had his back at every hearing. He’d never contested his guilt, so the rest was all a formality—the government had to cross its T’s and dot its I’s. If protocol wasn’t followed to perfection, they would run the risk of losing an appeal if Daddy ever filed one, not that he would.
When he was arrested, he turned to me after they slapped the cold-looking, metal cuffs on his wrists. He said, “Mercy, I’m not gonna lie. I’m guilty and I deserve what I get. Tell your mama I’m not coming home.”
I watched them lead him out the front door, down the walkway and shove him into the back of an unmarked black Crown Victoria. Worst day of my life, and his.
It took me a long time to realize that he wasn’t talking about not coming home that night. He meant he was never coming home again. Six months later, I cried myself to sleep with that epiph
any. It must have sunk in with Mama, too. She started dating shortly after that. At first, I was shocked. I was angry. She was betraying him, I was sure of it. But then I realized that she was just trying to cope in her own way. It was a crappy way, but it was hers.
People filed in and claimed seats along the long pew-like benches. Redemption wouldn’t be found within these walls. Penitence, yes. Redemption? Not a chance. The cacophony of mindless chatter, shuffling papers
, and high-heel clacks along the polished white-tile floor was almost overwhelming. The door on the left side of the room opened and a guard stepped through it. I could see the signature, bright orange-colored jumpsuit that Daddy was dressed in. His eyes met mine and he smiled, relief relaxed the tense muscles of his face and shoulders.
The officer behind him escorted him to his seat, and he settled into the seat behind the wooden table right in front of me. His face and body had thinned over the past year. His short, once chestnut-colored
hair had receded, thinned and was mostly gray. Crow’s feet rimmed his eyes and the wrinkles on his forehead had deepened. I mouthed the words, “I love you, Daddy.”
He grinned and mouthed back, “Love you, Mercy-girl.”
I wanted to run to him, throw my arms around him and cry. I knew what was coming. Today was his sentencing hearing.
Mama and her
flavor of the week had finally passed out in her bedroom. Frantically, I thumbed through the clothes in my closet, grabbing only the essentials: my favorite jeans, a few shirts, and a light jacket. It was the only one I owned. Moving on to the dresser: bras, panties, socks. I stuffed a few of each into the same black backpack I’d had since my freshman year of high school and then pulled on my favorite electric blue tennis shoes.
I’d gotten them at
a neighbor’s garage sale and it had been love at the first sight of the bright pink swoosh on the side. What was even better than their aesthetic appeal? They fit! Perfectly. After wearing them for sixteen hours a day for the past few months, the soles were worn almost through at the balls of my feet, but they were the best I had. They were all I had.
I looked around the room that had once held so many hopes and dreams. Those had begun to disappear little by little after Daddy was gone. Now all that was left was the memory of them. An enormous multi-colored, ugly-but-warm afghan stretched over my bed. Mama taught me to crochet when I was eight and I’d been doing it ever since. Mostly for necessity. It was cold in the winter here, and even in the summer my feet stayed cold as icicles.
I walked over to the dresser and grabbed a gilded memory. Displayed in a delicate golden frame, ghosts of my past smiled back at me. It had been taken right after my high school graduation. Mama on one side and Daddy on the other, with me donning the crimson and white of the Knights. This was the last picture I had of normalcy and I was taking it with me.
I blinked back at the blank walls as I eased my way out the door and padded to the bathroom down the hall. The fluorescent bulb overhead flickered frantically, as if sending out the alert. Stuffing my hair brush, toothbrush and paste, deodorant
, and a small bar of soap into the small pocket of the bag. I flicked that stupid light out and crept down the stairs.
Each step that creaked underfoot made me wince. I don’t know why it bothered me. When they were out, they would usually be out for a long time,
sometimes days, but I didn’t want to chance it. Not today. I just wanted out of there, and it would just be my luck for them to wake up as I was making my escape.
From the kitchen, I snuck the only things I could find that would be easy to carry, which amounted to two bottles of water
, a can of peaches and three blueberry granola bars. I hated blueberries.
The schedule on the fridge indicated that the
city bus would be here any minute, so I zipped up my bag and out the door I went, leaving all those worries behind. I’d gladly traded them in. Last night broke the camel’s back and I was tired of being a damn camel anyway.
Sure enough, the bus rolled up to the street corner just as I got there. Its tires deflated with a whoosh and I climbed aboard and took a seat in the very back of the bus on the left side, the side furthest from my former house. It hadn’t been a home for a long time. Soon, the beast’s engine roared to life and the bored faces looked away from the newcomer to the world outside again. Ashland would be the first stop on my journey. I needed to see Daddy.
Half an hour later, the bus pulled up just outside FCI-Ashland. It looked more like a nursing home from the outside than a Federal Correctional Institution, or low-security prison, as most people knew it. Daddy called it the slammer. I’d been here once a week, every week since he was sentenced. We were lucky. He could’ve been sent to any prison in the U.S.
I shoved my backpack into some nearby shrubs, making sure to conceal it. I didn’t need to be locked up with him. The Correctional Officers wouldn’t appreciate its contents.
The judge said that due to the extenuating circumstances regarding Daddy’s case, the fact that his crime was classified as non-violent, and that he had a child nearby, he would pull for Ashland. And we were lucky. He was sent to Ashland, only twenty minutes away. So I tried to never take that blessing for granted and visited him like clockwork. In the past few years, I’d only missed one week, when I had the flu and couldn’t drag myself out of bed, even for work.