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Forget Me Not
By Christina D. Kennedy
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2011 Christina D. Kennedy
All right reserved.
Chapter OneI trembled in absolute fear in the early crisp morning air. Fear of what was, and fear that if I didn't go back, what the other options would be.
Dusk was pushing the night away as I carefully tip-toed through all the boards and various junk my father and his girlfriend left around the yard. Suddenly, I felt myself start to topple over. Protecting my now 6 month pregnant belly, I caught my footing with my knees almost touching the ground. It was late August and the morning was already very chilly.
How was I going to explain this to my father? I had been gone from home for seven months now. Worst of all I had been living with one of his valued customers and hunting buddies. Not to mention family friend, who I might add is more than twice my age. Of course there is the little issue that I have now been carrying his baby for six months. Yep, good old long term friend of the family Frank Shamanskii, or Uncle Frank. He has known me since I was about five or six years old and has now made me five or six months pregnant. I couldn't be sure as we were pretty confident it would not be a good idea for both of us, if I were to see a doctor, considering I was fifteen.
I left home like my two older sisters as the abuse we had been enduring was getting way out of control, and more impulsive since our father met Leah.
Leah was a strange woman; a junk collector. She was quite attractive with her dark almost black hair and her pale blue eyes. She was slim (at least when she first met my father) and seemed to love her horses. But she was a schemer; if she was bored she would concoct an incident just so she could beat us (which she took sheer pleasure in doing) or at least severely punish us. One of her favourite punishments was to withhold food for three to four days and lock us in the dugout basement where we had the pleasure of sleeping in the dark on one of the old dog blankets. If we were lucky we might get locked in the unfinished attic which had an old creaky bed with a saggy mattress.
Our father would be pretty convinced that she was justified in all she did, even though her own two children were taken away. The courts declared her an unfit mother a few years back. A long time ago she was nurse (so she said) but was caught stealing prescription drugs for some of her friends. Leah says the doctors were just too afraid to diagnose them and that her diagnosis was right. They were mad that someone who didn't have to go to school as long as they did had all the intelligence and ability, so they took her licence away.
It was very obvious to us that the sex was undeniably good for my father (as he always bragged of this to friends) and he wouldn't trade that for anything.
Anyhow the beatings were getting to be too much after my mother suddenly passed away. My mother was a petite woman with the most beautiful smile and light brown hair. She was very orderly, kept a clean house, and was very mindful of her parenting. She was a religious person and often taught Sunday school and Crusaders. She had the most beautiful singing voice and would often perform on the church stage. As a child she was always an honour roll student and later attended Bible College to become a laboratory assistant.
My mother's identical twin sister Marilyn said she could take in two of the four of us. I know it was very hard for her to come to that conclusion, but she lived by herself and had only one income. My oldest sister Rose and second oldest sister Faith would do well with her and I was happy to hear they had gone. Father would never let my younger brother Derrick leave, no way, no how. You see my dad was somewhat of a chauvinist, and Derrick carried the family jewels that would pass on the family name.
Father was a gunsmith by trade and also worked doing as a hunting guide throughout the seasons. He was rough and abusive, stood about 5'7" or 5'8" with thick, dark brown hair. He was often up and down with his weight. In fact, his weight fluctuated almost to an extreme. He would be heavy and depressive for years and then bounce back to an average weight for his frame (or thinner). His eyes were a sea blue, and he would often change his facial hair. Sometimes a moustache, or a beard, but most often he was clean shaven. He walked around with the most explosive and unpredictable temper which often lead him to beat my mother for no reason. He was as he described himself to be, a natural racist. He believed that deep down most people were.
I remember Grandmother told me how happy she and mother were that Derrick was finally born, because mother was finally allowed to quit producing babies. In my mind, my mother was beautiful inside and out. She knew how to cook better food than any chef. She also kept the house spic and span, as well as herself and all four of us kids. Leah was always extremely jealous of her and begged father to see her faults. All he could say was that she was soft spoken and a push-over. He thought that when he married her, her virginity would be exciting for him, but apparently she was frigid and he basically had to beat sex out of her on their wedding night. Leah would have her little laugh every time they talked about that.
In my mind, I was thinking great dad, now you have a filthy whore who doesn't clean, cook, and has no idea how to take care of children. But to him it was fine and dandy as long as she put out.
Good Will Hunting
So after the girls left, father had planned on a two week hunting trip. He asked Frank if he would take over the gunsmith shop while he was gone. Frank, who had broken his arm while playing hockey, was happy to do it. Since he lived about two towns away Father even let him spend the night to avoid travel. Of course he got the unfinished attic bedroom with the old bed and saggy mattress. But it did also have a toilet and a sink, where you got to hide yourself with a lovely, old army green shower curtain around you. You're pretty much alone once you are up there anyhow.
Well this is how it all started with Frank and I. Once my sisters left, I was Leah's main target and slave. Derrick, he got a little bit, but Leah knew he was always semi protected by my father. And if you can believe it she kind of appreciated his chauvinism. I think she knew she was kind of exempt from its rules because she provided my father with unlimited and highly valued sex.
So Leah went to stay with Ed's wife Sara while father went on the two week hunting trip. He took my brother and a group of customers who were paying him to go, with hopes of the best and biggest game. Leah loved to stay with Sara because she was rich, and Leah was manipulative and could act practically normal in front of her. Leah provided Sara with some company out on her lonely multiple acres of caribou prime land in their mammoth house. She would be completely treated by Sara. Sara made the most exquisite meals and served them with their complimentary bottles of wine.
So off they all went. I don't think my dad even thought twice about Frank being alone with me. This was strange as he most certainly didn't trust any men around us. He would say "I know-I am one. I know what we are capable of." And of course he would agree with Leah that all us girls are whores and that we will, when old enough, seduce men.
So for now I had stopped going to school as I was a little traumatized from something Leah had pulled at my mother's wake. It was haunting me to the point of being unable to concentrate. Not to mention, Leah said I wouldn't amount to anything, and she needs me at home. Since everyone was gone, I just had to keep up the house chores, feed the cats and dogs, walk all the way across our tiny little town (where we rented acreage with a large barn) to feed the seven horses.
"The Real Frank"
To my surprise, coming home from feeding the horses the first night, I noticed that Frank had closed the shop down a little early. When I entered the house a burst of yummy filled my nostrils. Scents of garlic, tomatoes, oregano, and cheese were in the air. I actually heard my tummy growl. I quickly took my boots off in the large entrance way and stepped into the kitchen.
"Christina, come in my dear. I was just making us some spaghetti just the way my grandma used to make it. I have all the ingredients in but it will take at least a few hours to cook. You see that way all the flavours combine together and become one." He spoke in a very animated fashion, gesturing with his hands the whole time. That was Frank, he could often make the whole family laugh with his Italian accent and hand gestures.
"Wow!" I responded, "I don't think I have had anyone actually cook anything good for me since my mother ... and that was a long time ago." My eyes stared past Frank and over at what he was cooking on the stove.
"Yes, yes, that Leah, uhm ... she can't cook, you know. That is why when I come here and I need to spend the night, I offer to buy the take out." Frank smiled as he gently led me to the kitchen table. "You work too hard you know? For someone so young, I don't know why you do all the chores and slave after that ... that Leah. Don't think I don't see this. I do, I see this with my eyes all the time when I come here. Do I say something to your father? No, no he is a friend of mine. But more importantly, you Christina, are part of that friendship, and I think you need someone to take care of you sometimes." Frank finished dishing me up a pretty large bowl of salad and began to pour me a glass of red wine.
I laughed and said, "Frank, hello Frank, do you realize you just poured me a glass of wine?" I put my hand out to try to stop him from pouring as I saw he had already poured himself one, and I didn't want him to waste it. Frank looked down at the glass of wine with a slightly contorted face.
"You don't drink wine? I've been drinking wine with my parents at every dinner since I was nine; it is the Italian way. Never hurt me." Frank said, with both arms stretched out, one with the cork screw and the cork still attached, the other with his cast on still holding the bottle of wine "Won't hurt you. Besides, your father is not here and Leah is not either, you drink it. It will relax you, you need to relax. You know, I don't think you ever get to relax. When I am here you are going to relax, okay?" Frank crouched down and crossed his arms beside me on the kitchen table and looked me in the eyes with a very warm smile. I picked up the glass of wine and raised it.
"Here is to relaxing!" Frank rose to his feet. "You know that is a very fine Italian wine. I would only give you the best. I brought this. In fact, I brought many more from my own personal collection from home. When your father asked me if I would run the shop, (despite the fact my arm is not completely healed) I was excited to do it, but not to do a favour for your father. I was excited to spend some time with you, treat you and help you relax." Frank continued his hand animation. I felt a bit of a shiver run down my spine, but I wasn't sure if it was because I was eating his delicious salad so fast, that some was caught in my throat, or if something made me feel strange? Maybe it is just like Frank said I haven't been shown any niceness for such a long time.
"Mmm, hmm," I rattled out, as I gulped a few large swigs of wine to clear my throat. "Sorry, I just don't know what to say this is all very nice and sweet and unbelievable. I can only thank you so very much. I'm glad you're here. It would not have been the same if Leah had not have gone to Sara's."
Frank pulled up a chair and proceeded to toss some salad into his bowl. "Yes, well I had a hand in that. Sara can't stand Leah. Ed, he always has to beg Sara to have her. You know, to kind of appease your father. So this time she got it from both Ed and I. I told her I could not bear to bunk down at your house with her for two weeks, and Sara knew that meant the trip could be cancelled. She knows your pappy moved out and there would be no one to tend to business and keep an eye on you. I know how much she loves her Ed, and I'm not going to get in the way of that!" Frank smiled mischievously, and I could see those handsome dimples in his face come out; the dimples I always admired ... Did I?
"Crazy, Leah always talked like Sara couldn't be without her when Ed was away. She said she would get so lonely out there by herself." I so curiously replied, hoping to hear more truths about Leah.
"Lonely she has six grown children four of which are daughters; one would always be available if she were lonely. I think I recall her saying she would rather be locked in a casket for nine months than have that crazy woman set foot on their land ever again." I grabbed my chest to keep from bursting out laughing, or worse, choking again. Sometimes Frank has the funniest way of throwing you off guard without even knowing it.
I ate the whole salad and had seconds while still waiting for our spaghetti. After the most delicious spaghetti I had ever eaten, we retired to the living room. Frank was so wonderful, he demanded I sit on Father and Leah's forbidden love chair with him, and he put their ottoman under my feet.
"This is how you, a princess, should be treated," he retorted with his many hand movements. I could definitely feel the wine, but the crackling fire and someone who wanted to talk to me, someone who was interested in me, was so unbelievable, incredibly, special. Frank poured more wine and dished me up the most delicious dessert. "I promise you, from scratch, my love, I will make you a real Italian dessert tomorrow night. I will be more prepared and will pick up some supplies from town." Frank looked down at me in the love chair, as if he was inadequate. I was stricken by the wine and in awe by the extreme effort. I wasn't used to anyone caring for such a long time, it felt odd. I had been pretty down on myself, and Leah had been so down on me. I mean, I was never going to make it scholastically. The only thing I felt confident about was my experience in martial arts, but Leah stopped that right away. At this point I haven't felt like I have many successes in life. But Frank, he's been making me feel remarkable, better than I've ever felt.
I couldn't help but notice his striking, hazel eyes with incredibly long lashes. He almost looked like he was wearing eyeliner because his lashes were so thick. He was always a clean-cut guy, with the sexiest chiseled features, topped off with that irresistible rustic look. He is a tall man, I would guess about 6' 2" with broad shoulders. He says he is forty years old but I remember his ID being on my dad's counter indicating he was forty one. I don't know why, but I think at the time I just wanted to know because I thought he was cute. My sisters definitely thought he was cute. After that, I hadn't put too much thought into it.
Tonight I questioned if he was feeling even a little like I was. I didn't know if I should be feeling this way, but no one made me feel this way. I know boys in school liked me and I didn't feel unattractive. In fact that was the problem, they were all just boys. Boys are just interested in looks, but Frank, he was a man. He was genuinely interested in, well he was interested in my best interest. Young boys only tried for one thing. They tried but they never succeeded.
As the night proceeded, so did the laughs. I soon learned that Frank could do imitations of people and could he ever do a good one of Leah. He had her whine, her snarl, and how Leah's voiced changed when my father was around, even when she tried to sound sexy. His imitation of my dad was outstanding. He pretended he was standing at the shop counter with one of my dad's richest customers that he wanted to impress most. He imitated my father showing off how he made a new barrel and stock and even engraved the customer's family crest on the side. Then he did an animated version of father telling the customer of how he knew what his family crest meant.
My tummy started to get so sore from giggling, I mean really sore. I hadn't had a giggle like that in such a long, long time. I couldn't even recall how long. Leah didn't tolerate much laughter to begin with. Then after mom died there wasn't much to be laughing for.
Suddenly, in the middle of laughing while Frank was stoking the fire, he just casually took off his shirt and put on another log. My laugh started to fade as I gazed upon his rock—hard biceps. I noticed what looked to be a tattoo about four inches in diameter. It was actually an attractive Celtic cross. I've known Frank for so long that I knew his mother was Irish/Italian and his father was Italian. He thought highly of his mother, so I could see him getting something Celtic for a tattoo.
Right now all that mattered about Frank was that his pectorals' looked like he had been just been pressing weights two minutes ago, and his abs looked like he just did several sets of sit-ups. His chest had just the right amount of hair, a small amount in the middle, and then just a sparse trail down the middle of his abs, where it disappeared into his jeans.
Excerpted from Forget Me Not by Christina D. Kennedy Copyright © 2011 by Christina D. Kennedy. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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