He Found Me
By- Whitney Barbetti
When I was seventeen, I disappeared. I walked out the door of my apartment with a backpack and never looked back. I left the life of Cora Mitchell behind, seeking freedom from my real-life nightmare.
But my freedom came with a cost. I lived a fictitious life for the next six years, never letting anyone close enough to see underneath the façade that was Andra Walker.
I was content with my simple little life.
Until I met Julian.
And the moment I started allowing myself to open up, allowing someone to see through the superficial, was the very same moment the Monster from my past would return to find me.
I felt my ankle vibrate once. The phone. I froze. Then it vibrated again. And again. It didn't stop vibrating.
I quickly closed the lid of the jewelry box and picked it up, whipping my head around in desperate search of a hiding place. I heard the pounding on the concrete steps outside. “Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck!” I exclaimed under my breath. I didn't have time to panic. I reached the bedroom door and closed it quickly before dashing into the closet.
As I closed the bi-folding doors, I heard the sound of the front door being unlocked right before the swish sound of the door swinging open. It was at that moment I remembered my backpack in his office, the USB still plugged into the computer. My entire body went still at that moment, except for the boom-boom-boom of my heart. I prayed harder than I ever had for a miracle.
I peeked through the slats of the closet doors, seeing the light from the moon slashing a stripe across the dresser. It illuminated the now-empty space where my jewelry box once sat. An unmistakable square of dustless space signaled that something was missing. I'd grabbed the box on a whim, not realizing until now that it was my intention to bring it back with me.
I heard the sound of keys hitting the entry table before I heard the door to the freezer open in the kitchen and checked my watch. 12:20 AM. My right leg started dancing up and down, a definite sign of nerves getting to me. A moment later, I heard the unmistakable sound of a glass bottle being set on the counter. Then, the creak of a cupboard and the sound of a lighter piece of glass being set on the counter. Vodka and his shot glass. I couldn't help but think of the frozen chicken I had purposefully avoided so many times and wondered, momentarily, if it was still there.
Unfortunately, the dust that had settled in the closet from my absence was sprinkling the air around me, disrupted by my movements. I felt my nose twitch from the tickle. Shit. I covered my free hand over my nose and mouth and prayed for quiet.
I wasn't sure how loud it had been, but I knew soon enough that it had been loud enough to alarm the Monster.
I saw the hallway light turn on, illuminating the space between the door and carpet. My heart was beating like a jackrabbit's. I wondered, briefly, if I could see my heart beating right through my shirt. Panic squeezed my veins. There were no colors to name off in the dark to calm me. Any moment now I would go into shock from the fear of coming face to face with the Monster. Nearly seven years and I was still crippled by anxiety. I willed myself to be brave, to be strong, but my body betrayed me. Sweat prickled my palms.
I saw a shadow of his steps to the door and sucked in shattered breath. It hit me then that I was breathing in the same air as the Monster once again. Bile rose up into my mouth and I swallowed it back. This was reliving one of my many nightmares, but worse. I closed my eyes, praying this was just another nightmare. Praying this wasn't real.
*****5 -Intense & Beautifully written- Stars*****
~this review may contain minor spoilers~
Part of me would love to be brave by being honest. But my bravery is the reason for my fraudulent life. A life spun of lies and half-truths, stemming from the one brave moment I had when I doped up the Monster with sleeping pills and cold medicine. So I don't regret my bravery. My only regret is that it took me so long to drown the fear out with adrenaline, to tie my tennis shoes and finally run away.
~I cannot believe this was a debut novel~Whitney Barbetti NAILED IT~
Cora Mitchell fled home at the age of seventeen to escape a Monster, leaving everything she knows behind, and becoming Andra Walker. Seven years later, she may still suffer some anxiety and nightmares-but she's free. Free to make her own choices, and free to live her life-even if she does spend each day lying to those around to her. There are only two people in her life who know who the real Andra Walker is-the man who helped her escape, and the woman who took her in-and that is the way it has to remain. Anyone knowing her true identity risks everything and she will not go back. There is a darkness in her that the daily deceptions feed, but it is a necessary evil to maintain her freedom, one she has learned to live with, one that keeps her from allowing herself to get too close to anyone. She is perfectly content keeping mostly to herself, she loves her home, she loves her job, and if she has an itch that needs scratching- it's her decision alone who scratches it, then she moves on. She doesn't do relationships, it seems unfair to get involved with someone knowing the relationship would be built around lies, that was never a problem before she met Julian....
“You are like a drug to me. Dangerous. Addicting. I can't get enough of you. But I want more, more than just a night, more than just a few touches. And I have a feeling that once we cross that line, you will run away.”
Julian is the first man to ever get under her skin and make her actually wish for things, feel things she has never felt before and has trouble putting into words. She finds herself falling for him and desperately wanting to open up to him, even as she fears exposing him to her darkness inside. But just when she feels she may be able to take this relationship somewhere spectacular, the Monster from her past finds her and threatens everything.
The beauty of this story wasn't about non-stop action or constant drama, there was little of either, it was very much a character driven story full of emotion with the underlying sense of danger. Watching Julian open Andra up to the promise of something she never thought she could have was captivating. Both characters held their own and made you wish for their HEA. Andra was such a strong, resilient woman to go through what she went through and still be a spunky, amazing person who just wants to live her life. Julian was the picture of patience and sweetness, a true romantic with a dominant side when called for. They really were perfect for each other and I absolutely adored them both. Every single one of the secondary characters were amazing additions to the story as well, none forgettable and each brought something new out of our leads. But no matter what was going on, you always had this fear in the back of your mind that the Monster would pop up when least expected. It just made you cherish every bit of Andra's happiness that much more. While the ending wasn't exactly a cliffhanger, it definitely let you know there was more to come; there are still some unanswered questions and danger in the air. I just loved everything about it, and am in awe of this authors fab, unique debut into a world overrun with cookie-cutter plots and characters. I am looking forward to much more from her and can't wait to see where she takes these characters next.
I thought I could keep my physical connection to Julian casual. But I was realizing that being around him was both soothing and enlivening. I was driven by feeling alive. And being with Julian fueled that larger part, the more dominant part of me that craved being free.
Forever Like That – Ben Rector
Kiss Me – Ed Sheeran
Quicksand – Sleeping At Last
All I Need – Within Temptation
Stop and Stare – OneRepublic
Name – The Goo Goo Dolls
Show Me What I'm Looking For – Carolina Liar
Killer Queen – Queen
Untouched – The Veronicas
I'm Yours – Jason Mraz
Several of these songs are mentioned in the book. :)
I love music and have a playlist for everything.
I like watching creepy shows when I am home alone but then I instantly regret them once my mind starts breeding irrational fears.
I have about 20 bacon things in my fridge.