\r\n\r\nWelcome! Indie Author Excerpts is a feature allowing indie authors the chance to showcase one of their books and allows readers to find their next favorite story. Each week, an indie author gets to promote a 1-2 page excerpt of their book here at BookShelfery. This is a win-win for everyone! This feature was inspired in part by Indie Author Spotlight, a meme hosted by Beckie @ Bittersweet Enchantment and CYP @ A Bookalicious Story. Are you an author that would like to be featured in Indie Author Excerpts? If so, check out this page and fill out the form.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n[indie-author-excerpt]\r\n\r\nNeve reached the landing. Squaring her shoulders, she marched straight down the hall to the first open doorway on her right. Most of the time, the study was one of her favorite places in the world. The huge windows let thick rays of sunlight pour onto the rosy hardwood, and dust caught the light like tiny fairies. A perfect place to read and escape. Today, however, black curtains covered the windows, casting the room into shadow. As she stepped inside, the mustiness of old books grew stifling the air already thick with tension. Her father’s old desk, one of those big mahogany monstrosities, was usually left unused since Neve preferred to curl up on a plush loveseat with a book rather than craning over a desk in some stiff-backed chair. Veronica sat in said chair, her toe tapping a percussive beat on the hardwood floor. Her sharp blue eyes were clear, her thin lips almost disappearing into a hard frown. Her stepmother’s expression was familiar. Veronica ranged from miffed to raging on an everyday basis.\r\n\r\nBlonde hair drawn in a no-nonsense bun, a new manicure the deep red of fresh blood, she’d even donned a blouse and slacks for the occasion, something Neve had forgotten Veronica owned. After Dad dodged out, Veronica had taken her job as a stay-at-home mom seriously—minus the mom part.\r\n\r\n“Neve Wynn,” Veronica said, her voice iced over. The tapping stopped.\r\n\r\n“Veronica Wynn,” Neve sassed before she could help herself.\r\n\r\n“Renard. Veronica Renard.” Her stepmother’s eyes narrowed, two cold marbles glinting at her. “As of today, you’re an adult.”\r\n\r\nA pregnant silence filled the room. Not just an adult. Since she’d turned eighteen, the child support from her father dried up—otherwise known as the sole reason Veronica hadn’t kicked her to the curb yet.\r\n\r\nNeve forced a bitter smile. “Oh, we’re acknowledging my birthday this year?”\r\n\r\nVeronica tapped her lurid fingernails on a piece of paper lying on the desk. “As we both know, you’re going nowhere. No colleges applied for, no social life. The only job you’ve managed is your café job.”\r\n\r\nShe took in a deep breath to control her temper. No colleges applied for because she didn’t think she could make classes, not with working full time outside of school to pay the bills. No social life because no one liked hanging out with the damaged girl whose mom had died and whose father had ditched. If her own flesh and blood couldn’t stick around, why would some schmucks from her hellhole of a high school?\r\n\r\n“In essence, I’ve given you a roof over your head and taken care of you, even after your faggot father ran away,” Veronica continued in the same haughty tone.\r\n\r\nHer words stung, but the truth hurt worse—Neve’s father had ditched the second he’d decided he no longer wanted a wife but a husband. If Mom had still been alive, maybe he wouldn’t have left, but no one had noticed her heart problem—they hadn’t paid close enough attention. Mom’s death had destroyed her dad. She had blocked out all her memories of the funeral. Sometimes, she still woke up mornings having forgotten what happened—that her mom had died.\r\n\r\n“God only knows what kind of a waste your mother was to raise a child like you. She must’ve killed herself from the shame.”\r\n\r\nBefore she could stop herself, she lunged forward over the desk, her fist colliding with Veronica’s jaw. Blonde hair flew as her stepmother’s head whipped to the side, a shriek ripping from her throat. Heat burned her cheeks with absolute hatred. Hatred for the woman who’d been dumped into her life with no care for her in the slightest. Hatred because Dad had left her with Veronica of all people. At her core, she always wondered, always questioned if the reason her mother had died and her father had run away had been because she was a terrible person. That her fate in life had always been to be saddled with this bitch of a stepmother.\r\n\r\nTears stung the corners of her eyes, but she wouldn’t give Veronica the satisfaction of seeing her cry. Instead, Neve lifted her chin, throwing all of the fire she could muster into her glare. Veronica matched—her pointed nose up, her lips pinched as though she braved a wintry wind. Fire and ice, both for destruction would suffice.\r\n\r\nVeronica’s jaw reddened where she had clocked her, already the promise of a nasty bruise blossoming. “As I was saying,” she continued in her dead, dispassionate voice, “as of today, you are no longer my problem. As of today, you are no longer welcome in this house. As of tomorrow, anything left in this house will be sold or tossed in the dump. Once the clock strikes midnight, you are to be out of here permanently.”\r\n\r\nThe words hit her with a chill that prickled her skin. This was the fate she’d seen coming the second her dad had left. Yet she’d stayed, finishing out high school and working to keep Veronica from throwing her out on the street. All her efforts wasted. No mercy remained in Veronica’s gaze, not after Neve had lost her temper. Despite all the empty threats of turning her out on the streets in the past, she knew this was the real deal.\r\n\r\nShe swallowed, attempting to wet her bone-dry throat. The raging anger from before dissipated, infiltrated by the hollowness of abandonment, yet again.\r\n\r\nRelatives were out of the question. Her father had been an only child, his parents long passed. Her mom’s ultra-Christian family had disavowed him after they’d discovered he was gay. They’d tried to take her to Mass with them a couple of times, but once she started dyeing her hair black and wearing dog collars, any concern had vanished.\r\n\r\nVeronica arched a brow, keeping her cool despite her discolored jaw. Silence descended upon the room again. She had nothing to counter with. No amount of pleading or arguing would dissuade Veronica.\r\nTime was running out. She must be out by midnight with anything she could carry. It took every ounce of effort she could muster, but Neve left the room. Even though her stepmother’s gaze burned into her back and a breakdown lay three steps away, she held her chin high.\r\n\r\nThe second she stepped into the hallway, the darkened shadows seeped into her skin, sending a chill through her, even in the middle of summer. Her bedroom stood out like a blackened smudge at the end of the hall. She’d walked through the hallway a thousand times before, half-asleep or in the afternoon when returning from school. Hard to accept this would be one of the final times. How could she fit the fragments of her life into a single suitcase? Regardless, she’d have to try because, after tonight, she no longer had a home.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n\r\n
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