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Hospitality (The Unhinged Series)

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Life is full of new beginnings. But sometimes those new beginnings lead to be ominous ends... Things go awry for small town author Jessie Godfrey and her husband, Asher, when they make the decision to move in with a long time friend that they may not know as well as they thought. Though Bennett welcomes the couple with open arms, something feels a bit off about him. The Godfrey's may find out far too late that things aren't always as they seem. WARNING: This story contains some possibly triggering scenes of violence, manipulation and sexual assault. **SAMPLE PUBLISHED BOOK** (available on Amazon, link in bio)

Jade Alexandria
Age Rating:

Chapter 1

“Are we sure this is the best idea?” Asher asks while stacking some plates into a moving box.

I roll my eyes, abandoning my own packing to help with his. I remove the unprotected stack of plates, giving him a look.

“What?” He’s clueless.

“You can’t just put them in the box without anything to cushion them.” I grab the nearby roll of packing wrap. “They’ll break during the move.”

“If you say so.” He sighs, handing me the next plate to wrap.

“And yes, it’s a good idea.” I pause giving it some thought. “Maybe not the best.” I spare him a sly smile to let him know he’s not totally wrong. “But good.”

He chuckles under his breath, handing me the last plate.

“Again, if you say so.” He replies, sparing my lips a quick peck.

As I tape this box shut, he goes to grab more from our pile in the living room.

This move may be a bit spontaneous, but it’s time for a change. Plus, it’s not like we’ll be all alone.

“Do you think he has a pool?” I voice my random thought, gazing out the window at the neighbors in-ground while I finish with the box tape.

“No idea.” Asher is back in the kitchen with two flattened boxes.

He follows my gaze, tossings one to the counter as he begins to unflatten the other into its useful cube form.

“We don’t know a lot about him. Or the area. Or the house he’s letting us stay in.” He reminds me, in an almost scolding tone.

Okay so maybe we’ve only met him online and never in person. And maybe he lives states away, where we will be joining him very soon. But, a friend is a friend right? And we’ve known him for years. Technically.

“If you don’t want to make this move just say so.” I arch a brow, scooting the box of plates to a corner of the counter that holds a few others.

“I did say so.” Asher takes the tape from the counter to secure the bottom of the box he holds. “Several times. But happy wife, happy life I guess.” He mutters.

I sigh, shaking my head as I tap a finger to the countertop. We have had this discussion more than once and getting him to agree certainly took some convincing favors- sexual and

otherwise. The area is supposed to be nice and rural, good for creative minds to get some fresh air. Solitude is key for writers to achieve peak performance.

“We don’t have to. In fact, we can unpack everything right now.” I toss my hand before folding both arms over my chest.

“Okay.” Asher is well groomed to my attitude at this point in our marriage, not even looking up from his task.

“Ugh.” I sound a complaint, turning to leave the room.

I only get a few steps before I stop, spinning back around.

“It was the only area that checked all the boxes!” I remind him.

He now wears a small smile, amused at my inability to ever complete a storm out. I have this incessant need to always have the last word. I blame my mother for that personality trait.

“Plus we couldn’t find anything else that we could remotely afford, so Bennett letting us rent space at his place for the time being was the only choice.”

Asher just laughs, shaking his head at me now. He tosses the empty box to the counter, resting his hands on the counter while he looks out of the window. Our neighbor has made her way out to her fancy backyard pool, in the skimpiest of bikinis no less.

“This is always how it goes, Jessie.”

I can’t tell by looking at the back of his head, but I’m sure his eyes are drinking in every inch of naked Naomi over there. He doesn’t spare me that much attention anymore, never even tells me I look pretty without me begging for the compliment.

“You get some random whim, go back and forth with yourself for a while like a crazy person, because lord forbid you make a single decision without running it into the ground first. And then after enough of your nagging, I give in.” His head hangs, but only briefly.

Can’t risk missing the neighbor lady applying sun tanning lotion on her already bronzed skin. Though my fragile self esteem could be playing a part in my assuming he has eyes for another woman. That’s what he always implies anyway.

“Feel free to stay.” I shrug, turning once again to leave. “I’ll move up north alone, write a best selling novel and leave you here to fuck the neighbor. Kay?”

“Jess.” Asher sighs but says nothing else.

I glance back, only to see he’s shaking his head as he heads to the fridge for a beer. I scoff at his lack of concern when we argue. He doesn’t care. Just wants me to shut up. So he says his piece, lets me react however I’m going to, then remains silent until he figures I’ve let it go. Sound communication skills we’ve got going here. Nothing is ever resolved, and round and round we go.

As I turn the corner, I remember that I haven’t even started on my closet yet. So I head that way, pushing open our cracked door and entering our bedroom. The mattress is bare and cluttered with boxes, most of the room packed away in cardboard confines. I spot my phone on the dresser where I left it to charge before we hit the road. Or maybe just me, depending on how Asher feels after that little spat. When I click my phone screen on, I see that Bennett sent a message in the group chat over an hour ago. It just says how excited he is and wishes us safe travels. I text him back, sure to make it bright and bubbly despite my sour mood. Even if Asher weren’t in the chat, I wouldn’t dump any relationship complaints on Bennett. We are friends, as I said, but the two of them are closer. He met Asher first, playing some game online. I play too, but only for Asher’s benefit. It gives us something fun to do together while we blatantly ignore our mounting differences.

I toss the phone to the bed, bunching up the charger before doing the same with it. Looking at the full closet, I realize I may need some caffeine assistance so I go to retrieve a pre bottled coffee from the fridge. Luckily Asher has moved on from the kitchen, probably shoving thoughts of me far from his mind. I sigh, pulling out my already opened wine and heading back to our room with the bottle.

About halfway through, a text dings on my phone. I reach my hand towards it as if it’s going to just float to me if I think at it hard enough. It doesn’t, of course, and I actually have to get up to retrieve it. I guess Asher has stopped sulking because he responded in the group with a thumbs up. He then goes on to ask how far Bennett’s house is from other places in the area, probably hoping our new neighbor will be a liquor store. I roll my eyes then type “Almost done packing! We’ll see you soon Bennett!”

“Need help?”

I nearly drop my phone at the sound of Asher’s voice. He’s been avoiding me for so long I wasn’t even sure he was still here.

“Nah.” I plop back down to the floor to finish packing. “Just about finished.”

Honestly, it would probably go faster with help. But he’d just pack it all half assed and mix up the whole system I’ve got going.

“Kay.” He comes in anyways.

He stoops to kiss the top of my head, his no-effort way of calling truce. I take another swig of coffee, finishing off the bottle while Asher walks to the bed to start hauling boxes out to the moving truck.

By the time I’ve finished the last of my closet I’m alone and the rest of the room is empty. I’m sure to double check and make sure nothing gets left behind. Asher has everything loaded in the truck and is probably already sitting in the passenger side, waiting impatiently for me. I flip off the light and walk out of our bedroom for the last time, entering the living room.

Oh would you look at that, my husband is not in the truck as I optimistically suspected. My shoulders slump and a huff leaves me as I see he didn’t even make it out with half of the boxes from our room, they sit in a cluster by the recliner he’s lounged in. His feet are propped up on one as he plays a video game on his Xbox, rapidly tapping the trigger button on the back of the controller.

“Seriously?” I sigh, walking over to him.

He barely spares me a glance, nodding a bit in my direction. I walk in front of the television, hands on hips as I arch a brow at him.

“Babe!” He abandons his makeshift footstool and cranes to look around me, cursing as he dies in the game.

“What the hell, Jess?!” He’s glaring at me now, removing his headset and letting it rest around his neck.

“Yeah, I was kinda thinking the same thing, Ash. You were supposed to be loading the truck!” I match his attitude, not seeing how I’m the one in the wrong here.

“Okay! Christ.” He grumbles, tossing his gaming stuff to the chair in a huff.

I roll my eyes, rubbing my temple as I feel the beginnings of a headache coming on.

“Sorry about your game, was it important?” I bury all of my frustration and put his feelings far above mine, per usual.

Asher has now entered pouting man child mode, giving a shrug before squatting down and grabbing a box. When he turns his back I take on the role of childish partner, making a face and flipping him the bird. The fact we’ve stayed together so long is nothing short of a miracle. My need to have some form of structure and scheduling really clashes with his need to never worry about anything ever, because ‘it all just works out babe’.

I fill my arms as well, helping to get things into the moving truck or we’ll never get out of here. My husband just broods in silence, seeming extra pouty as he unplugs his tv and gaming console. I don’t feel an ounce of surprise when I see him cushioning them both properly whereas with my favorite dishes he didn’t bother. I make one last trip through the house, quadruple checking to make sure I’m not forgetting anything. When I make it back to the main area, I see Asher pulling something from the top of the fridge. He pauses when sees me, and I know I’ve just caught him doing something he was trying to hide from me.

“Uh, I just-” He continues to retrieve whatever he was after. “Forgot I put it up there.” He admits.

I see clearly now that he’s holding a stashed fifth of whisky.

“You’re an adult and I’m not your mother.” I say, really just very over caring about his excessive alcohol intake. “You can drink as much as you’d like.”

I continue past him, arms crossed again as I head to the door.

“You always get like that about me drinking but when you kill an entire bottle of wine in a night, you don’t hear me complaining.”

Asher does this cute little thing where he projects and reverses our arguments. So now, not only is he assuming I’m upset when I really don’t care, he has also turned the tables so now I’m the issue.

“Sure don’t.” I put forth zero effort into this argument, flipping off the light and pulling open the front door.

I hear Asher unscrewing the lid to that thing and I can smell it wafting from the bottle a moment later. I upturn my nose but refuse to look back at him. Asher is no lightweight and he spares no expense when it comes to his liquor, so it is potent stuff he’s guzzling down. He pulls the door closed behind him, not a slam but not a quiet shut either. I fix my stank face, giving our neighbor a smile and wave as she checks her mail in her bikini and large sun hat.

“You guys are out of here, then?” She makes friendly conversation, having to yell a bit.

“Yes, ma’am.” I smile, continuing to the driver side of the truck. “I suspect you’ll miss us?” I tease, earning a beguiling smile from her.

“You especially, Mrs. Godfrey.”

She really doesn’t have to call me ‘Mrs. Godfrey’ considering I am probably just five years older than her at most, but I keep my smile crisp. Then I let it fall flat the moment I am behind the wheel. As Asher climbs in clutching his bottle, I reminisce on the days that I was the hot neighbor with no alcoholic husband or anything tying me down. At the very least I thought I’d end up with someone that made me enjoy life more, not find more reasons to hate it.


The drive is quiet. Other than the audio book I’ve been playing. Asher has made a point of sighing a handful of times, making it clear he does not enjoy it.

“I’m gonna take a nap.” He tells me, eyeing the speakers pointedly.

“Okay.” I respond, pretending I didn’t catch that look.

Another sigh and he leans forward to turn it down. He grabs a blanket from the stash of travel things between us, making a show of wafting it out and attempting to get comfortable. He rests his head to the window and I am relieved that I’ll at least get an hour or so of peaceful driving with him unconscious.

It’s a beautiful night. Clear sky that puts all of the twinkling stars on flawless display-

“Can you turn this crap off, please?”

Asher disrupts my appreciation, sitting upright and smacking a hand to the knob and shutting it off himself.

“You’re not the one driving.” I repeat his smack to the button, starting the speakers back up again. “I would like to have some entertainment.”

“Then listen to music like a normal person.” He grumbles, hunkering down in the seat again. “On second thought, your taste in music is trash too.”

He says it in that joking tone that he thinks makes it less insulting, but I know he means exactly what he says. I push an annoyed breath through my nose, readjusting in the seat and sitting a little closer to the wheel. I hit the button again, giving him the silence he wants.

“Oh, come on.” This is the part where Asher tries to comfort me in a condescending way as damage control for what he just said. “Don’t be upset.” He reaches over to start rubbing my back.

His touch immediately makes me stiffen. I hate it when he tries to be so affectionate after being the one to upset me in the first place. When the arguments get really fun, he likes to push me to the brink of insanity and then make a point of telling me how crazy I am. Such a swell guy, my Asher.

Now, you may be wondering why I haven’t thought of that convenient little thing called divorce. Well the answer to that is- I have. But I always overthink my way out of it. Asher and I have been together for so long. He’s all I know. Though we’ve only been married for five years, we’ve been together since I was a teen. Crazy how when you look back at your choices, you really want to just punch your past self right in her more youthful face then shake some fucking sense into her. I was young and carefree, hadn’t even had a chance to discover myself yet before I allowed this guy to swoop in and steal me away from any possibility of a life I would have actually enjoyed.

Alas, at this point it’s habitual. It’s normal. Our normal, at least. So until I gain the nerve to make that leap, this is life for me. And it’s not like I don’t love Asher. Or at least have love for him. A lot of our issues root from the fact that who he got with, way back then, is not at all who I am now. He’s always been this way, why should I expect him to change just because I finally matured enough to see all the flaws I chose to ignore as my younger self.

Why did I do that? Blatantly ignore the reality of who he was and allow myself to be baited by the rose filtered idea of him I had in my head. I made myself believe it was the movie romance I’d always hoped for. I was far more naive than I am today, projecting that unrealistic ideal onto anyone that showed me an appealing amount of attention. Reflecting on it now, it really could have been anyone standing in Asher’s place at that altar. Anyone that would have stuck around long enough for me to convince myself that they were what I wanted. I just craved so desperately to be with someone. Anyone. But I can’t for the life of me see the appeal of it now. Seriously, why did I latch myself to a significant other whenever I hadn’t even met myself yet?

… but the why doesn’t make much difference now, I suppose. It just is what it is.

“Are you gonna be all moody now?” Asher asks, having started scratching my back.

He knows I like that and is using it as a silent bribe for me to brighten up.

“No.” I clear my throat, glancing at him briefly enough to flash a tiny smile.

A smile that any random stranger could tell wasn’t genuine, but my husband of half a decade can’t. Or just doesn’t care. He smiles back, leaning in to kiss my temple. He continues my back scratch for a little while longer, making light conversation about the area we are passing through now.

“I thought you were taking a nap?” I ask after I’ve grown weary of his random and meaningless small talk.

His hand stills on my back and he looks at me for a moment before scoffing, retracting his hand and entering another unattractive bout of manchild pouting.

“Ya know Jessie, sometimes I swear you hate me.” He claims, tugging the blanket up to his chin.

“Don’t be dramatic.” My turn for gaslighting. “I think occasionally you just read too much into what I say. It’s not that I don’t love talking to you-”

I reach over to pinch his cheek and he scrunches his face up, but cracks a small smile.

“You just seemed like you wanted some rest, so I figured you should take advantage of not having to drive and enjoy your nap.”

I get this babying tone when I am manipulating him into leaving me alone. It’s not quite as silly as the voice one uses to speak to actual babies, but close. Sometimes it feels just like that, like Asher’s a big baby and I’m his resentful mother. Another, closeted reason I was so adimit about this move- I needed a change. And since I’m too stubborn and idiotic to leave Asher, I just chose to leave our house and go to a different state instead in hopes that’ll be enough to spark some light into my life. That’s totally healthy, right? It really screams “help me” in miserable housewife.

“Yeah, you’re right. I am pretty tired.” He punctuates with a yawn. “Maybe this job will give me more hours than my last one so I can keep spoiling you.” He gloats, like he always does.

He makes the money, so he has the relationship leverage. It’s always hidden in little backhanded, subtle comments like that. He brags about it in a way that reminds me that he is the breadwinner and I’m just the aspiring author able to chase my dream because of the financial stability he supplies.

“Hm.” I hum a very unenthusiastic laugh. “Maybe.”

Shortly after that he falls asleep. Thankfully. His snoring is better than talking to him this entire trip. Said trip goes by pretty quickly, especially when I play my book again since he’s knocked out. I’m sure to turn the volume down enough it won’t wake him. Can’t have that. The remaining hours blow by.

I swipe at my phone that’s on display in the car mount, pulling up a full screen view of the GPS. Only ten minutes away now. And the area is all trees and fields. All nature and none of the hustle and bustle of a big city or even an average sized town. Okay, so maybe nature can be a little spooky when no civilization is remotely close.

A message dings through my phone as I’m peering into the forestry all around, making me jump. Asher groans a little in his sleep, beginning to stir awake. I glance at him, seeing him readjust his crotch area beneath the blanket. Probably dreaming about railing some other woman that’s more suited to his needs than me. I roll my eyes, clicking my notification to see it’s a message from Bennett. The timing is a little odd. I feel my brows meet briefly, finding it quite a coincidence that he messaged right as we are practically at his house.

Can’t wait to meet you both in the flesh! His message reads.

I swallow, glancing back up at the road. There isn’t anything out here, not a soul in sight.

So why does it feel like someone is watching us?

Another message pings through, and I’d be impressed with the reception if I weren’t starting to feel a little on edge.

Ash called before you guys hit the road. Unless you ran into traffic, you should be here soon!

All of my uneasiness melts away. Ofcourse, I’m just being paranoid. All the driving and the crime genre audiobook I chose for the trip is getting to my head. Asher must have called him at some point before we left so he’d have a rough estimate of our arrival.

Luckily no traffic. Just five minutes, B! I text back swiftly before refocusing on the road.

The GPS lady just said to take a left, so I squint into the night until I spot a road within the treeline. I suspect all of the remaining minutes are going to be spent navigating up this long spirling path.

“Geez.” Asher gravels out in a sleepy tone.

He has awakened, rubbing an eye with a balled fist as he sits up straight.

“This place is in the middle of fucking nowhere, bro.”

I’m his wife not his bro, but I let that slide without comment.

“Yeah, it is definitely secluded.” I chirp, excited by the idea.

I can understand being apprehensive of staying in a place like this, but I like it. Disregarding my creeped out moment, I have come to find areas like this comforting. No pressure of societal obligations or continuous background noise in the surrounding area to distract the mind and derail any creative thoughts.

“What the fuck have you gotten us into, Jessie.” Asher complains as we continue up the lone road, the trees on either side becoming a bit denser as we go.

“What do you mean?” I question, easing off the gas a little.

This moving truck is hard enough to navigate on its own, the car hitched to the back makes turns super tricky. This road is winding and I’d hate to wack our car into a tree because I fishtailed going too fast.

“This looks like horror movie shit, babe.” Asher shakes his head while looking out at the surrounding forest. “The area sucks.” He thuds his head to the back of the seat.

I suppress a sigh, just driving on in silence. Asher has this secret talent where he’s able to make me feel shitty for any and every choice I’ve made in the history of ever. It plays a big role in my persistent indecision. How could I feel confident in deciding anything when regardless of what I pick there is someone on standby to judge me for it.

“Was there a liquor store or anything close by at least?” He asks, seeming stressed by the seclusion.

The thought of being cooped up with me without a quick escape or option of inebriation is probably his worst nightmare.

“There was a little town area about fifteen minutes before it all turned into woods.” I respond.

My GPS has incorrectly said we’ve arrived, probably officially on the property but not at the actual house yet. About a minute later I do finally spot it in the distance, perched up on a hill. It’s not like a manor or anything like that, but it’s a decent two story home.

“How does he get his mail?” Asher ponders, looking back the way we came then towards the house again.

That earns a laugh from me and Asher double takes like he can’t believe I’ve actually found him amusing. His surprise fades into a smile, his hand coming to rest on my upper thigh.

“Drone maybe?” I suggest, only half serious.

Asher chuckles, giving my leg a squeeze.

“Or a very dedicated mailman.”

“Or maybe he has to go pick it up at a P.O. box or something.” I make a more logical suggestion.

“Could be…” He mutters, his focus fully shifting to the house as it more clearly comes into view.

It isn’t rundown by any means, but it does look like it could use a little TLC. The paint is peeling a bit, shutters sunbleached to a dusty charcoal rather than what must have started as black and the porch definitely has some rotted wood beams. Overall it’s aged but cute, a quaint little house tucked away in the woods.

A few more minutes and we reach the driveway, putting it in park in front of the garage. The front door is closed and there is not a single light on inside or out.

“This is the place, right?” Asher asks, eyes on the dark house.

He goes to dig out his cell to call Bennett and confirm the address, but pauses when a light shines down on us. It’s coming from the second story, both of us leaning forward and looking up through the windshield. It isn’t a room light, but a flashlight aimed right at us. The beam of light shifts from the hood of the car up into my eyes. I squint, holding up a hand to shield my face. It moves on to Asher, his response similar to mine.

By the time I blink the lingering shine from my eyes, the flashlight beam is gone. My heartrate has picked up a little, that uneasy feeling from earlier coming back to pay a visit.

Asher and I share a look, both confused and very aware of how alone in the woods we are right now.

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