Chapter 1

I woke up the next morning to find Terri was gone. I expected nothing less. Her family… Ugh. What a family. If you call it a family… You could call it Hell, but that would be an understatement. I felt sorry for her, having to leave so quickly. Hoping to avoid the discovery that was hadn't been home all night… If only Ephraim had been a better man, he could have saved her from this all.

Ephraim.

My stomach began to roll. My head was pressured and I felt physically ill and nauseous.

It was amazing that he hadn't recognized me… Especially after that day at school. My body began to shake as I recalled that moment, where he pulled me close, whispered that he'd always been wanting me… Whispered that Terri was nothing in comparison to me… My throat was strangled by the memory, and I could feel the hot tears well in my eyes.

It was times like that I was grateful I had such a huge dislike of dresses, for I know it would have been worse.

I hadn't even been able to tell David everything that had happened there… For the past year, I'd been able to place it just out of my mind. Knowing just that something awful had happened, ignoring the full truth of it… Those nightmares I used to have were now replaced with visions of those hateful, glass blue eyes… That tongue lolling out, like a lusting demon, or a month-starved dog. Even now, recalling it, my voice was gone.

That horrible grin that sealed it… Those hands, skinny and long, yet somehow more powerful than anything I could have imagined. How he managed to pin me on that desk, I'd never be able to say. I was just thankful God gave men excruciating pain when they're kicked just right.

"Sha—Kyle! Kylie, what's wrong?" Cara gasped, stumbling from her bed to mine. "Kyle, what the hell is wrong?!" she squealed.

My eyes filling with tears, barely able to breathe…

"Eph-Ephraim… H-h-he, it was him… He was… Oh, Cara!" I sobbed. My strength was traded for my voice and I sprawled on the bed, crying. "I want David, I want David, I want David… I need David…" Over and over until I drove myself insane and again I would repeat it, just to hear his name. The one male who could never hurt me. Who died a little when he left that message. The boy that always held me close, always made me feel like I was… Like I was me. Like I was me. I didn't need a mask around him. He knew me better than anyone I knew, perhaps even better than I knew myself.

And what took an eternity was only minutes before David burst through the motel door. One arm around my back, the other under my knees, he lifted me up so he could sit. Cara started back in, but stopped herself. She assumed too much and decided it better to wait elsewhere. I wouldn't have minded if she'd come in.

I hadn't even looked into his eyes, his face, anything at all. Just the way he felt holding me… I knew it was him. The tears rolling down my cheeks, I clung to his neck, pulled myself closer, as close as I could.

"Shana…? I…" he trailed off, and I buried my head in his chest. Those arms, always powerful, always protecting… They held me as if our lives depended on it, that should he release we would both perish.

It was a full thirty minutes before I was ready to face him. To see the face of the raven haired boy that I loved more than anyone. My big brother.

And as I turned my face up to him… Oh God…

He was gorgeous, absolutely a gorgeous sight. Time had been utterly kind to him. His face was lean, but soft and rounded, long. His dark eyes could stop your heart. His body was strong, not fat, but muscular. He smiled as he looked at me. I must have been a mess. My hair was not brushed, felt uncomfortable… My eyes were sore from crying so hard, and I imagined my cheeks were swollen.

"David?" I uttered, my throat sounding tattered.

"My Shana, will you talk to me? I'm here to listen…"

Slowly, solemnly, I nodded my head.

"Ephraim."

His darling eyes seemed to spark, with some anger. Something deeper than I knew.

"It was Ephraim, David… That night, when you came to my room… I didn't tell you the truth…"

"I know." David sighed. To which I furrowed my brow and inquired, "You knew…?"

"Of course I did. I know when you're telling me the full truth. And I also know why you didn't tell Terri, so there was another factor in my deduction."

"Please, don't jump to conclusions, we never—"

"I know, I know! I know you'd never do anything like that, Shana." I loathed that name so… but when he said it, it flowed like sweet milk.

"He tried to, though, David. In the school! He tried to… He tried to force me to…" Now, that I could tell him… I couldn't! I couldn't bring myself to say those awful words! He tried to force me into making love? That term wouldn't work, for there was no love anywhere near. Having sex? Closer. No, to feel the real effect of what he's tried to do… That shameful, ugly act… No, he tried to fuck me. Take what he wanted, rape me, and be done with it.

David read my thoughts.

"That fucker tried to rape you."

The silence answered for me, and I suddenly knew how Terri must have felt. To be so at a loss for words that you can't say a word, not a yes or no… That you won't say a word. It was harder than I ever knew.

Gently, David set me on the bed, and stood up. God, how tall he'd grown… It had only been a year… This 19 year old, several months older than I was… He was a man. He was a gorgeous, strong, handsome man. I envied the woman who would call him her husband. It was that moment that I truly understood the feeling in my chest… That feeling that had haunted me from the first time I met him. He was more than a brother to me. We had a stronger bond than brother and sister. Had we met under different circumstances, I might have pursued him myself. I knew I wanted him. But I was more practical than that. A storybook romance? How quaint. How lovely a thought. How… impossible. How fictional. How silly to imagine. From that moment on, I would love him as a brother, but always long for something more.

He began to head out the door. And the atmosphere changed, and I felt it painfully… He was furious… He was hell bent on something awful, and I knew it.

I stumbled out into the parking lot as his car sped away, throwing gravel in all directions. "David, no! David, please, don't go!" I shrieked, the horror of reality sinking in and hitting me like a wrecking ball.

David was going to find Ephraim.

To confront him… and to kill him.