Healing Heart 3: Just a Little Kiss

By: Dixie Lynn Dwyer
Prologue




Amelia Woods stood by the pier holding on to the railing. Her knuckles were white from gripping it so hard while she stared out at the ocean. Her heart was so heavy, her pain so deep, she was beginning to feel numb. The instances that fed her will to go on were becoming few and far between, the fear, the aches and pains, the words in her head becoming too much to bear. Cavanaugh was killing her slowly. He was sucking the life out of her, and she wasn’t even his girlfriend, his lover anymore. She’d thought for sure he would do more physical harm to her than just continue to threaten her, to stalk her, to appear just about everywhere she went. At first she thought she was paranoid, noticing him in the distance but then wondering if she imagined it because he disappeared when she looked away and then looked back. Was she losing her mind?

She swallowed hard. His words, his continuous threats and promises of what he would do to her, repeated in her head.

“You’re mine. I’m the only one who will ever love you, protect you, and want you for more than just your body. I know your secrets. I know your past. No other man will ever see past that dirtiness.”

Tears flowed. She had trusted him because she’d thought he was the one. That Cavanaugh was the answer to her prayers, the one man to get to her heart and make her believe his words, and his possessiveness, meant simply that he loved her so very much. But no, she had been wrong. Those touches, that control, his aggression that grew stronger, more often, and in all aspects of her life had taken over, just like when she was an innocent child.

She blinked the tears away and focused on trying to just breathe, to not succumb to a panic attack. She couldn’t even begin to think back to a time when things had been normal and she was living a life without pain, a day without tears. She was a survivor, and instead of learning from the tragedies of her youth, she wound up in the arms of another man, a person she’d thought was trustworthy but wasn’t. She was needy, and that needed to change. She thought back to her youth, to the hard times her family had been through. Her drug-addicted mother and the multitude of men that stayed night after night. She shivered at the bad memories. About being touched, then assaulted. That’s what Cavanaugh meant about knowing her secrets. Telling Amelia that no man would ever want her or love her but him because of what was done to her as a child.

She clenched her eyes closed. She’d been saved by a social worker, placed into foster care at ten years old, and her experience with corruption, predators, and evil people had only just begun. In her mind she skipped past the violent acts, the one fateful night that had changed her life once again, and she tried to think about that fight she’d found in herself that night when she had had enough and knew she was done being a victim. Obviously she’d lost it in the years to follow. She was so busy trying to act normal like her friends, like her classmates, that she’d created a past she could be proud of instead of one that was more like a horror story. She never got over it. Never healed. Cavanaugh used that and she couldn’t fight him. She couldn’t go to the police for help. Police never did anything. Accusations caused more problems, and with a man like Cavanaugh she would become the one to blame. He would make her seem mentally unstable, or worse, needy and he had been a kind soul taking her in, being a friend. He had ways of twisting things to serve his needs his purpose. She was no different than one of his criminal business deals.

She inhaled the salty air and exhaled slowly. The therapist, Kiana, had truly helped her the last few weeks. Of course Amelia didn’t confide in her that Cavanaugh was still up to his old tricks, still trying to threaten her out of fear that she would tell the police or some agents about his illegal dealings with stolen items like iPads, computers, art, and jewelry. She didn’t give a shit about any of that, except the threat that she would go down, too. He’d tricked her. He brought her along on several jobs, and she hadn’t even known they were jobs or meetings with criminals. He even had her hold on to envelopes or briefcases without even knowing what was inside.

Diamonds? Money, drugs? She didn’t know. She just knew that Cavanaugh had friends in low places and even some in high places. Which was how he always knew where she was and who she was with. It was so hard trying to act happy when you were being watched all the time.

That thought had her glancing over her shoulder and looking around her. There were several people around. The woman with the magazine sitting on the bench glanced up, and Amelia looked away. The older man with the dark sunglasses, just standing near the railing, was looking at something, but Amelia couldn’t tell what it was. Was he looking at her? She swallowed. Three people—two men and a woman—sitting on another bench. Did they work for Cavanaugh? Were they here to watch her?

That paranoid, nervous, and scared feelings began to increase and so did the anxiety she felt. The urge to leave, to head home, to hide or to go where there were more people, maybe get inside before it got dark, filled her mind. She wiped her eyes, gulped, and then turned slowly, pushed her sunglasses into place, and then started to walk back toward the parking lot.

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