Angeline’s heavy breathing didn’t go unnoticed as she sprinted up the steps to the second floor of their home. He was drunk-again. He was angry with her-again.
She quickly shut the door to their bedroom and locked it, taking several steps back away from the door. Angeline tried her best to rein her frantic breathing, but every time she heard Nathan shouting her name downstairs it would frighten her more.
Angeline could hear Nathan smashing her beloved possessions that once belonged to her belated mother on the floor below. “Angeline!” She whimpered at the sound of her name. He was coming for her now. He was going to subject her to more pain. “Open the damn door!”
By now Angeline was crying hysterically as he pounded on their bedroom door trying to get in. It was only a matter of time before he managed to force his way through and get his hands on her.
She quickly ran towards Nathan’s bedside and rummaged through his night stand until she found his Glock. Angeline screamed as their bedroom door flew off its hinges and wheeled around to him, eyes filled with fear. With shaky hands Angeline leveled the pistol at her husband and took another step back until the small of her back hit Nathan’s nightstand. She was cornered with no place else to run.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing pointing my own gun at me?” He snarled.
“Nathan, please.” Angeline pleaded.
Nathan took a step towards Angeline, causing the young woman to place her finger on the trigger. “Go on, pull the trigger sweetheart.” He taunted as he took another step towards her. “I dare you.”
“Please stop, Nathan.” She pleaded to him once again. “Please don’t make me hurt you.”
Nathan didn’t heed her pleas. Instead, he just smirked at her as he took another step towards her. Angeline shut her eyes and squeezed the trigger, but the gun did not fire off.
Angeline began to tremble as Nathan now stood before her. One of his large hands clasped around her throat, cutting off her air supply while the other pried the pistol out of her small hands.
“No!” She cried.
“Next time, take the safety off. It won’t shoot otherwise, Angel.” He frowned as he shoved her hard against the bed, pressing his body into her.
“Get off me, Nathan!” Angeline screamed as she tried pushing him off her.
Nathan turned Angeline onto her stomach and grabbed a hold of her hair and pulled her head back, making her yelp as pain shot through her scalp. “You really are a stupid bitch you know that.” He said, angrily.
“I’m sorry!” She said squeezing her eyes shut.
“You’re sorry?” He growled as he pulled her hair harder causing her to gasp. “You come in here and point my own pistol against me and you’re fucking sorry!?”
“Please, you’re hurting me.” She whispered desperately.
“I’m about to show you what real pain feels like, sweetheart.” He whispered savagely into her ear. Angeline trembled at Nathan’s words, she had lost her one chance of escape.
Her only hope was whatever Nathan had intended on doing to her, he would finish it quickly. “I fucking warned you not to try anything. You’re mine. You’ll always be mine, Angeline. And if you run, I will find you no matter what. You can never escape me.”
Angeline woke with a start, a scream lodged in her throat. She was covered in sweat and her heart was trying to rip its way out of her chest from beating so hard. The dream slowly dissolved, but the fear still remained. She slowly sat up and took in her surroundings as she threw the sweat soaked sheets from off her body.
Three months had passed since she broke free from Nathan’s clutches, thanks to the assistance of her friend Veronica and a young man named Clay Johnson.
Clay was tall, and literally the skinniest human being she had ever known. With his fair skin, and big brown puppy dog eyes hidden behind his red-framed glasses, he was adorable in his own special way.
When she’d called him, he arrived fifteen minutes later. The longest fifteen minutes of her life.
She sat on the passenger’s side, trembling, afraid of the stranger beside her, afraid of what lied ahead, her mind going a hundred miles an hour. She tried to tell herself that she made the right choice by leaving and that everything would be okay. About fifty miles out of Los Angeles, she’d begun to doubt herself and demanded that Clay turn the vehicle around, that she’d made a mistake by leaving; in fear of what Nathan would do if he’d found her instead of turning herself over to him. He refused.
Once she was safely out of the city, Clay pulled over to the nearest rest stop and calmly reminded her of the sole reason why she was running away. He told her that if she did go back, Nathan would beat her again, only this time he wasn’t going to stop. He told her that it was okay to be scared, that finding the courage to face what felt difficult and unbearable wasn’t easy, but it was possible. He told her it would start when she believed in herself, and when she begins to realize that the things she’s afraid of are not nearly as scary as what you miss out on when you give into the fear. It started with small steps forward each day. And it started with her. After that, she didn’t doubt herself again.
The following evening, Clay dropped her off at the bus station in Hobbs, New Mexico. From there she wandered into Port Isabel, Texas. It was a small town surrounded by countless miles of water and friendly people. As soon as she stepped off the bus, she knew this was a place she never wanted to leave.
But no matter how far she was from Nathan, she still had recurring nightmares from his abuse. He scarred her. Not just physically, but emotionally as well.
Slowly, Angeline got up from the bed and sauntered towards the long wall mirror on the other side of the room. She stood frozen as she stared at her reflection, still unable to accept the new her. For one, her long strawberry locks were no longer there. Instead, she changed her hair color to more of a brunette and took a hair razor and chopped most of her hair off until it was just a little below her shoulders. Secondly, she was no longer Angeline Snyder. She was formerly known as Aaliyah Barnett, the surname originating from her deceased mother. It was a major change for her, but it was for the better.
On her fourth day in Port Isabel, she managed to find a job as a waitress down at a diner known as Sandi’s Café. It wasn’t what she hoped for, but the people there were amazing and she needed something to help keep her on feet until she found something more suitable. All that was left for her to do was find a place of her very own.
Aaliyah knew she couldn’t keep shacking up at motels for very long. It was burning a hole through her wallet and fast. Luckily for her, one of the girls down at the diner mentioned she knew someone who was trying to get rid of an old house down by the beach.
To her misfortune, she didn’t have a vehicle to get around town just yet. Though the town was quite small and it didn’t take her long to reach her destination, she didn’t mind walking. In truth she fairly enjoyed it.
Stepping out of the motel she took a look around her surroundings. The bright sunshine and the cool breeze made her mood shift. She didn’t even try to hide her smile as she soaked up the sun. She walked down the steps and started towards her destination.
“Yep, she’s a real beauty isn’t she?” The man chirped. “This house has been in my family for generations but there’s a lot of work that needs to be done.”
The house was situated four hundred feet from the beach with a front and rear timber deck in desperate need of all weather coating. In the backyard was a cute little gazebo with a lock away gas BBQ. Ideal for the summer outdoor BBQ dinner & lunches.
Tastefully scattered around the unit and gardens were authentic maritime remnants such as a large anchor, brass dinner bell, fishing net and the like.
Despite her misgivings, her anticipation grew. He unlocked the door and they sauntered into the space. The long room was small, at least compared to her old house. Though musty and in dire need of a cleaning crew, the space held promise.
“As I said a moment ago the house needs work,” he said, using his cane for support as he slowly stepped beside her.
She took a long look around, envisioning the many possibilities.
“I love the wood floors.”
The space was a far cry from the house that she and Nathan shared, but she had modest and realistic expectations. The current state of the space left much to be desired, but with some elbow grease and a few additions, she could make this work.
They stopped in front of the large windows facing the beach. A flutter of excitement coursed through her. Renting a place here would be a major milestone and make everything she’d accomplished so far seem much more real.
Aaliyah turned to him. “I like it. How much are you asking for per month?”
“Can you see yourself here?”
“I can.” She smiled.
“You’re the first person who’s been interested in it.” He smiled. “She’s yours if you’re willing to fix her up.”
Her jaw dropped. “This house has been in your family for generations. I can’t just take it from you. Please, let me pay you.”
His smile widened. “There’s no need. You see, I’m a very old man and my time is running short. I have no kids, no family to take this house off my hands when I pass. I at least want to do one good deed in my life before my time runs out and help someone who’s in desperate need of a place to stay.” He explained. “Consider this my welcoming gift. I’ll be sure to draw up the paperwork first thing.”
She swallowed over the tight prickle in her throat. Tears burned in her eyes as she met his warm gaze. “Thank you so much,” She said gratefully, taking both of his frail hands into hers. “You don’t know how much this means to me.”
“You’re welcome, child.” The old man said as he placed the silver key into her hand. “Welcome to Port Isabel.”