Helen begins her journey into this lie as a naive young college student who falls in love with a man who cannot be hers. Ed's begins as the master manipulator of all things wrong.
Caught in the middle of this is a young child, Nickie.
After years of enduring the abuse of a man who loves no one but himself, Helen plots to overcome the tragic life she chose to insure that what goes around....will one day come around.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.42(d)|
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What Goes Around ...
By Johanna Devon
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 Johanna Devon
All right reserved.
Chapter OneHelen hung up the phone and pressed her forehead against the kitchen wall. Beads of sweat trickled down her cheeks. She wiped them away with the sleeve of her shirt and let out a huge sigh. She was exhausted. The last few weeks had been crazy; so many things to do, but she had finally finished everything down to the last detail. She closed her eyes and shivered as a chill rushed through her. Absently, she rubbed her arms. God help me if he finds out what I have done, she thought to herself.
Don't start second guessing, she chastised herself. It won't change anything. Turning, she leaned against the wall. She could feel another headache coming on and gently rubbed her temples for a few seconds. She opened her eyes and stared at the date circled on the calendar. The fifteen years she had been with Ed had seemed like an eternity. Hopefully, the next few months would fly by very quickly—and then it would be over.
Fifteen years. God, where had the time gone? She squeezed her eyes tight, wishing she could erase all of the years she had wasted pretending to be happy. All the secrets she had kept and all the lies she had told. Helen shifted her body and tried to relax, but her mind was racing and the questions kept coming. She knew the answers. Accepting her role in this mess had been the easy part. The hard part was cleaning it up. She bit her lip as she thought about the irony of it all. The only difference between her and Ed was the demon that controlled their lives. His demon was his psychosis; her demon was Ed.
Why had she protected him for so long, pretending everything was right in her world? Good God, she thought. How stupid I was. The lengths she had gone to, to hide the real truth about Ed. But she'd had enough for two lifetimes. Soon her revenge would come crashing down, drowning him in his own insanity.
Don't be afraid. You can do this, she told herself as she slid down the wall and sat on the floor. Suddenly, waves of nausea rushed through her body. She drew her knees up to her chest and took in a few deep breaths.
"It's almost over ... it's almost over," she whispered. "I just need a little more time."
Resting her face against her knee, she thought about how she had let Ed take over her life. She had given up so much, and for what? He still haunted her dreams, and the scars of his abuse would never go away. She took in another deep breath and let it out. She wished she would be around to see it all come together, but she knew time was not on her side. What she had was the promise she had made to herself that she would fight her way out of the deep, dark hole he had shoved her in and make things right.
"It's your turn, Ed," Helen whispered aloud. "It's your turn."
"My turn for what ...?" Nickie asked as she came bounding into the kitchen and plopped down on the floor beside her mother.
Startled out of her thoughts, Helen jumped. She quickly composed herself and put her arm across her daughter's shoulders.
Nickie pulled away and peered into her mother's eyes. "Hey ... what's up? Are you okay?"
"Oh, yes, honey, I'm fine. I have to tell you something. Dr. McMahon called." She paused before continuing. "Your dad is getting out of the hospital in a few days, but ..."
Nickie didn't wait for her mom to finish her sentence. She jumped up and screamed, "No! Please Mom, call Dr. McMahon back. Tell her they can't let him out! Please ..." she pleaded as she slumped to the floor, tears pouring out of her eyes.
Helen pulled her daughter toward her and held her tight. "I wish I could, honey, but I can't."
"Is he coming back here?"
"For a little while ..." Helen paused and wiped away her daughter's tears with her hand. He has to, she thought silently. We have some unfinished business.
"Mom, please ... don't let him come back," Nickie pleaded again.
"I promise ... it will only be for a few weeks." Just long enough for me to set everything in motion, Helen finished to herself.
"I don't understand. Why does he have to come back here?"
"He has nowhere else to go." Helen hated lying to her daughter and tried to sound disgusted. The truth was she wanted him home so she could make sure nothing went wrong.
"It's his own fault," Nickie hissed. "He's the one who's made everyone hate him."
"I know," Helen said as another wave of nausea rushed over her. She stood up and got a can of ginger ale out of the refrigerator.
Nickie looked up at her mother. "Why do you keep letting him mess up our lives?"
Helen leaned against the kitchen counter, popped the tab on the can, and took a sip. She twisted the can around in her hand. She knew she was stalling, but she was searching for an answer that would make sense.
She sighed. "I've asked myself that question a thousand times. You know, your dad wasn't always like this. He's changed a lot."
"Sorry ..." Nickie snapped. "But I find that hard to believe. I wish you would stop making excuses for him. Everyone knows where he is and why he's there. I just wish he'd stay there forever."
"Nickie! Enough! Don't say things like that about your father."
"Father ... he isn't my father," Nickie snapped, and then she quickly clamped her hand over her mouth.
"What did you say?" Helen choked as the ginger ale went up her nose. She quickly turned so Nickie couldn't see the look on her face. "How do you ... Who told you ...?
"No one actually told me," Nickie said as she stood up and leaned against the sink. "I kind of overheard it. Right before Grandma got really sick, her and Dad got into a big fight. She told him that she was cutting him out of her will and that I was going to inherit his share. That really made him mad. They were screaming at each other. That's when he told her I wasn't his kid. Why would he say that? Is it true? I sure hope it is."
More lies ... more secrets ... Helen thought as she stared out the kitchen window. "You know how he is. He was just saying that because he was angry with your grandmother." She turned and looked directly into her daughter's eyes. "Does he know you heard them fighting?"
"No. They were going at it pretty good," Nickie said as she pulled herself up on the kitchen counter. "Boy, he was really mad at Grandma. I mean, he was freaking out." Nickie looked down at the floor for a moment, and without looking up, she asked, "Mom, did Grandma really leave me a lot of money?"
Helen's brain was racing a thousand miles an hour as she tossed the empty ginger ale can in the trash.
"Well ... did she?'
"What? Ah ... yes, honey, she did."
From out of nowhere, a dark cloud passed over the house. Helen felt the life being sucked out of the house and her soul. She turned in time to see the color draining from her daughter's face. She pulled Nickie close and held her tight.
"It's okay." Helen whispered in her daughter's ear. She was trying hard to stay calm and to keep panic from creeping into her voice. "They were just having a fight. People always say things they regret later."
"I'm not so sure about that. When they were fighting, he told Grandma he would kill me if she left me any money."
"Oh God," Helen moaned as she held Nickie tighter. "Why didn't you tell me about this before?"
"I was afraid. Especially after what he did to Grandma in the hospital ..."
Helen gently pushed her daughter away, put her hands on her cheeks, and peered intently into her eyes. "What are talking about?"
"Remember the day Grandma died? You were all worried because you thought I was in the room when Grandma stopped breathing."
"Yes," Helen said slowly, massaging her temples to ease the pain of the headache that was beginning to squeeze her brain. She reached for her pain medication and tried to imagine what Ed had done to his mother. She knew firsthand what Ed was capable of, but would he—could he actually—? As she swallowed the pills, Nickie's voice broke into her thoughts.
"Mom, I only told you part of what I saw. I know I should have told you everything, but I was scared. He's always been so mean to me." Nickie got very quiet. She turned and looked around, afraid that he might somehow be able to hear her telling on him. Turning back to her mother, she whispered, "I saw him take Grandma's breathing tube off. The machine started making all kinds of noise, but he turned it off. Grandma saw me standing in the doorway and waved her hand for me to go away. I ran back to the waiting room. That's when everyone came running to Grandma's room. I'm sorry, Mom; I thought she was going to be okay."
"Jesus ... Help us!" Helen moaned as she crumpled to the floor. How could I have been so stupid? She asked herself angrily. The bastard had played them all for fools. Please, God, let my plan work, she prayed silently, and for the first time in a long time she thought about Nick.
Chapter TwoHelen hugged herself and danced excitedly around the apartment. Her doctor had called and confirmed she was pregnant. She had paged Nick at the hospital, but he hadn't called back yet. Where is he? She thought anxiously as she looked at the clock for the hundredth time. She would be glad when his residency was over. She hadn't seen or talked to him since he had kissed her goodbye the day before.
"Come on, Nick, call me back," Helen said anxiously as she curled herself up on the couch with a book. As much as she tried, she could not concentrate on studying. Eventually she gave up and slammed her book shut. She was beginning to get irritated with Nick for not calling, but then she rubbed her stomach and remembered that she was carrying their baby. She smiled as she remembered the day they had met.
Helen was reading her street map when she walked right into Nick. "Whoa there," he laughed as he steadied her before kneeling to pick up his papers.
"Oh, I am so sorry," Helen apologized. When she knelt to help him, she bumped her head on his and fell back on her rear. They looked at each other and burst out laughing. "This is not my day," Helen chuckled.
"Mine isn't going much better," he agreed as he quickly stuffed the papers into his jacket and extended his hand to Helen to help her up. He dusted the snow off the back of her coat, and she returned the favor. Nick looked over his shoulder and was struck by her natural beauty. God, those eyes, he thought. What color are they? When she smiled at him, they seemed to change from blue to green to somewhere in the middle. Overcome by a sudden wave of emotion, Nick wanted to take her in his arms and never let her go. He shook his head to calm his senses. What the hell is wrong with me? He thought to himself.
Helen blushed at his stare and quickly distracted herself by dusting the snow off the front of her jacket.
"I was trying to find the subway station."
Composing himself, Nick laughed as he turned and put his hands on Helen's shoulders. Turning her, he pointed to the station sign directly across the street. Helen burst out laughing and turned beet-red.
"No wonder I couldn't find it. I am on the wrong side of the street."
"Don't worry about it; Happens to the best of us." Nick grinned and checked his watch.
"I am sorry," Helen apologized. "I am keeping you ..."
Nick stopped her from finishing her sentence by asking if she would have dinner with him.
"Uh," Helen mumbled, embarrassed by her own awkwardness.
"God ... where are my manners? My name is Nick, Nick Martinelli. Trust me; I'm not some kind of nutcase."
Helen raised her eyebrows and gave him an odd look.
"No ... really! I'm finishing up my emergency room residency at Georgetown Medical. You can check my ID," Nick said as he quickly pulled his wallet out of his back pocket.
Helen laughed as she pushed Nick's wallet away. "Put that away. I was just surprised that you would ask me out. I've been here for over three years, and you are the first guy to guy ask me out."
"Are you kidding?"
"No. I have been very focused on my studies. It's a promise I made to my father."
"I understand taking school seriously, but you do need to have a little fun."
"You know, Nick ... I think you may be right. My name is Helen Dubois. I go to Georgetown too."
"No way," Nick exclaimed. "Why haven't we seen each other before?"
"Maybe because my classes are on campus and you are at the medical center." Before he knew it, the words came out of his mouth. "Can I call you?"
Helen nodded and quickly wrote her number on the back of the map she had been reading and handed it to Nick. "Guess I don't need this anymore."
"Perfect," Nick said as he stuffed it in his jacket pocket. "I have to get back to the hospital, but I promise ... I will call you later."
From that day, they became inseparable.
The ringing of the telephone woke Helen. She answered it and instantly recognized Nick's voice. She asked him when he would be home. He told her to go back to sleep and he would wake her when he came in.
"Okay. I have a surprise, so make sure you wake me up."
"Oh yeah! What kind of surprise?" Nick teased.
"I said it was a surprise. You'll find out when you get here," Helen teased back before hanging up the phone.
Helen felt Nick's soft hand caress her shoulder. She made a soft groan and moved herself closer to him. He lowered his hand and gently rubbed the small of her back.
"What time is it?"
"Two," Nick sighed. He was exhausted. He kissed the top of her head, pulled her closer, and fell into a deep sleep.
When the alarm went off at seven, Nick reached over Helen to turn it off. Helen opened her eyes and smiled at him. She kissed his chest as he gently lifted her so she was sitting on top of him. Helen looked down at him and felt her heart melt. She loved him so much. When she stroked his face, he sighed and looked away.
"Nick, what's wrong?" Before he could answer, Helen leaned down and snuggled against him.
"I have some wonderful news that will definitely cheer you up."
"What's that?" he asked absently.
"We ... are going to have ... a baby!"
"What!" Nick choked as he pushed Helen off of him. She fell to floor with a thud and sat there looking up at him, tears forming in her eyes.
"Oh my God, I'm sorry," he apologized as he helped her up. "Are you sure?"
"Why didn't you tell me before ... ?"
"I wanted to be sure. Isn't this wonderful news?"
"Helen ... you can't. I can't ..." Nick interrupted while quickly moving away from her.
"Nick ... ?" Panic surged through her as she tried to reach for him.
Nick pushed her away. "Helen ... please! I'm trying to think about what you should do."
"What ... I ... should do? Don't you mean us?" Helen cried as she looked around for her jeans.
"Helen, I'm so sorry. That came out all wrong. It's just bad timing. I can't handle this ... at least, not right now."
"Bad timing! What the hell does that mean? I thought you loved me?" She cried as she yanked on her jeans.
"I do, but something has come up."
"Something has come up! What the hell could that possibly be?"
Nick sat on the edge of the bed, hung his head, and ran his fingers through his hair. The last thing he ever wanted to do was to hurt her, and he knew what he had to tell her was going to destroy her.
"I have to go to New York."
"That's it? That's what you are worried about?" Taking a deep breath, she could feel her heart slowing down as she put her arms around him. "God, you had me scared for a minute. I thought you were going to tell me you were married or something."
"I am," he confessed quietly, covering his face with his hands.
"You are what?" Helen screamed, clutching her belly as she backed away from him. This time, she felt her heart in her throat and wanted to throw up.
Nick stood up, took Helen by the shoulders, and looked intently into her eyes. "I'm married," he repeated softly.
Excerpted from What Goes Around ... by Johanna Devon Copyright © 2011 by Johanna Devon. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
not worth it
Well written short novel full of surprises and twists and turns. I kept asking main character Helen "why?" but at the conclusion of the novel my question was answered in a surprising way. Helen deals with two toxic relationships with men while building caring and lasting friendships that sustain her and her daughter Nickie. And in the end what goes around will make you realize the secrets and lies that are kept will be exposed in their right time.