When people ask me what PULLED is about, I tell them it’s about Twin Flames–two halves of the same soul that had the fortune to actually find each other in this world. So, paranormal romance, right? Well, kind of. If you don’t believe that such a love is possible, then yes. If you do, then it isn’t paranormal at all. So, just Romance, well … maybe not that either.
You see, PULLED is also a novel that has a very real, and present danger. I don’t often talk about the dark underbelly of PULLED, because I want the reader to discover it. I want readers to see not only the beauty of what love can be, but also the down right horror that can become. Maybe the time has come, however, to put the spot light on the darkness, if only as a way of reaching out to a person who needs to see it.
PULLED starts out very innocent. A college girl ready to start her life over. A coming of age story. But very soon, it takes a turn that many are shocked by. Often they’ll have to re-read to make sure they didn’t skip a page. ‘Where did that come from?’ some say. Which is good. That’s how I wanted it to feel. Like a slap in the face. A betrayal, almost. For others, they saw this coming from a mile away. They saw the warning signs that I snuck in there and couldn’t do anything to stop it.
If you haven’t read the novel yet, and don’t want a spoiler, DO NOT FINISH THE BLOG. Come back to it later if you want, but don’t read this section if you hate spoilers.
PULLED is FREE (fyi)
Last chance to miss the spoiler…
Okay, a tiny bit of back story to understand the passage: Prior to this chapter, Naya, an orphan at the age of 13, had just started her first year of college. She didn’t believe in allowing herself to feel love since her parent’s death. She’s dating a guy named Seth who she started dating shortly after the accident that took their life. He followed her to college to be close to her. While in one of her acting classes, she meets a sophomore named Etash. He has a large scar on his face and keeps to himself, but there is an undeniable pull between the two of them. Naya, confused by these feelings has a panic attack in her room. One of many that she’s had since her parent’s death. She balls herself up in her closet and breaks down.
Here, after the attack has run it’s course, our chapter begins.
Somewhere during the night, between the anger and the anguish, morning arrives.
It’s the annoying chirping sound of my dorm phone pulsing obnoxiously against the wall that finally forces my eyelids to open. Still securely confined inside my darkened prison, I moan. How long had I been asleep? I shift my weight slightly, pushing away a dress dangling in my face. My head throbs and my muscles are stiff. My eyes are puffy and swollen and feel as though I have been crying for hours. I probably have.
A phone rings again, but this time it’s my cell. I don’t move to answer it though. It’s Seth’s ring-tone. He’s called countless times during the night. I know I’ll have to pay for not picking up, but I just don’t have the strength to move right now.
A small beam of light comes in through the space at the bottom of my closet door, and hits me square in the eye. There’s a boot jamming angrily into my back, and that tiny pressure against my spine brings with it the unnerving reality of last night’s episode. And I feel ashamed: ashamed that I’m going through this, again.
And that does it. I’m now pissed at myself for allowing the depression to suck me under. I stand up, ignoring my protesting muscles and open the door, letting the morning sunlight blind me; awaken me. I take in a deep sobering breath. It’s okay; you’re safe now. You’re not alone. You have Seth.
His ring tone goes off again. Knowing it’s dangerous to put him off any longer, I pick up my cell.
“Hello. I’m fine,” I say quickly, trying to put him at ease. My voice is weak and hoarse.
“Where are you?” he demands.
I clear my throat. “I’m in my room.”
There’s a silence on the end of the line. “Are you alone?” he asks.
“Seth…I…” I’m so focused on trying to explain why I hadn’t called, that I don’t really hear his question until a moment later. Wait. Did he just ask if I was alone?
“I’m coming over,” he says, then the line goes dead.
Okay. I wasn’t planning on having to talk to him, or anyone, quite so soon after my breakdown. His dorm is only about three blocks from mine, so that gives me about seven minutes to think about what I’m going to say to him.
I briefly contemplate telling him the truth, but that will show weakness, and Seth hates weakness. Which means I’ll have to lie.
I have just enough time to run to the bathroom and wash my tear-streaked face, pull a comb through my hair and brush my teeth before he is pounding on the door. So much for getting out of my pjs.
I only open the door a crack; afraid to look in his eyes, not sure how angry he’s going to be. He misinterprets my hesitation to let him in as something else completely.
“Naya? Is someone in there?” His eyes are hot.
My eyes widen with shock.
“What? Seth, no. There’s no one here,” I reply.
“Then why aren’t you opening the door?” He is positively fuming now. He pushes past me before I can get a word out and storms into my very empty room. His bloodshot eyes scan the room, hunting.
“Happy?” I ask through my teeth, put off by his accusation. I assume that no warm bodies in the room will appease him, but it doesn’t. He marches over to my messy bed and throws back the covers. Finding it empty, he searches underneath it before he whirls around, glares at me, then heads for my closet.
He catches a tiny shift in my eyes and his fists clench. Pushing me aside he rips open the door and I hold my breath. When he doesn’t see anyone standing inside, he hesitates for a second before going in. He then proceeds to tear my closet apart.
The clothes stop flying after a few crazy seconds and then it gets very quiet. The look on Seth’s face as he emerges from my closet shakes me. His large chest is heaving in frantic jolts. One of his hands is pinched to the bridge of his nose. He’s crying.
Guilt takes over and I rush over to him and lace my arms around him, trying desperately to soothe him. His strong arms wrap around me and hold me tight.
“Naya, when you didn’t answer your phone last night, I thought something happened to you.” He kisses the top of my head softly and strokes my hair, the way my mother used to as a child. “Then when you answered my call this morning, I thought you’d be in the hospital or something, but you were in your room … I guess my mind jumped to the wrong conclusion. I’m sorry.” He pulls my face back to look me in the eyes. “Forgive me,” he whispers.
“There’s nothing to forgive.” I reach up and kiss him softly. “If anything I should be asking you for your forgiveness,” I say, pulling gently away from him. Seth grabs my hand before I can break away.
“Where were you?” His eyes are pleading with me.
“Here,” I say, simply.
His eyebrows pull together. “Then why didn’t you answer your phone? I called your room and your cell at least a dozen times!”
Here it was, the moment of truth, and I was going to lie through my teeth.
“I had a tough rehearsal last night and I ended up with a migraine,” I whisper, not able to look him in the eye.
“A migraine?” He doesn’t sound convinced.
“Yeah, I haven’t had one this bad since … the accident. It hit hard and fast. So, I came home, downed some Tylenol PM, turned off all of the lights. I just needed it dark and quiet.” I bite my lip, hoping he’ll take the bait.
His eyes lighten a touch. “You don’t know how worried I was.” He pulls me tight against his arms. The worst of it is over, I think, so I allow myself a small grin.
“I know. And I’m so sorry.” He lifts my feet off the ground and kisses the nape of my neck. “Thank you for being so understanding,” I say into his chest.
He pushes me back down and looks me in the eye. “Just because I understand, doesn’t mean you’re forgiven. You should have called me. You should have answered your damn phone! That’s why I bought it for you.” Seth walks over to my door and locks it, then closes the blinds. “Now take off your shirt,” he orders, slipping off his belt.
My eyes glaze over. My body shifts into auto pilot. I pull my shirt over my head causing my dark hair to cover my face. The warning crack of his belt sounds so I sink down to my knees and grab onto the handles of my bureau. Shifting my weight to find my center of gravity Etash’s smile flickers once against my closed eyes, and I gasp.
“I should give you 12 lashes,” he whispers, hot against my ear, “One for each call you didn’t answer.” He straightens up and takes a deep breath. “But since it’s a school day, I’ll only give you six.”
I know I should be scared, but I’m not. I’m just … sad. The first lash comes without his normal warning and I have to hold back a scream that almost escapes. There is just enough time to shove a pair of socks into my mouth and hang on again before the next one comes. By the fourth lash, he’s found his rhythm, and so have I. My back has gone numb, along with my mind, so by number six, I don’t even flinch.
The book goes on to talk about what love is, and isn’t. For some, the abuse plot line is merely a side story, secondary to the true love theme. For others, it is a trigger book, a book that brings back horrible memories, which is why I include a warning. For some, they can’t finish the book after this section. It’s too close. Too personal. For those who have no experience with abuse, the character of Naya can seem incredibly weak. It’s very easy to scream at a character to just ‘get out’ of an abusive relationship, but for those who are in them–the mind games have already taken root, and the belief that they can escape is no longer alive in them.
Although I have had no personal experience with abuse, I have several close friends who have. I wrote this story for them. I wanted them to see, if only in a book, that love did not have to hurt. That’s the reason for this post, actually. It has been brought to my attention, by a fellow author, LK Griffie, that I have an obligation to provide information about abuse in my books and on my website for those who may find my books on accident, find themselves in a similar relationship and need a place to turn. Accordingly, I shall be modifying my web page, print and e copies to include abuse information. I’m a little slow on the web page knowledge, and have a book to finish editing, but I’ll get it up there. In the meantime, remember:
Danielle Bannister, Author and editing procrastinator.