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My first memory was of a slap, hard across the face: the sting on my cheek and the jarring of my bones as I slammed back into my bed. It was my dad who had hit me.
I had been four.
Most of my memories were much of the same and no one ever saw, no one ever fought to help, no one ever cared.
Then we moved.
My new neighbor cared, rescued the twelve-year-old I had been from a beating. Always thought I'd suffer the nightmare alone, I was wrong.
Mace Donati saved me that day in all the ways a person could be saved.
And his daughter, Mia, she became the friend I had always wanted, my conscience when my own faltered, the light that led me home when I had lost my way.
The girl who grew into the only woman I would ever love.
But when you realize you're more like your father than the good people who took you in and gave you a home, the only way to return their kindness is to let them go.
I let them go, got so far lost in the shadows I couldn't remember who I was anymore. Mia never gave up on me. She fought for me, kept the light on so I'd find my way back.
And when I did, life threw us a curveball. I had to hurt Mia in order to save her.
But when my past comes back to haunt me and I almost lose her, I'm ready to fight for her...fight to find a way back into her heart while keeping the demons from my past from finishing what they started.