MENTOR: Veronica Park
MENTEE: Kelley Harvey
TITLE: SECRETS I KEEP
CATEGORY/GENRE: NA Contemporary Romance
WORD COUNT: 60,000
Lily Blanco survived a childhood of abuse. Now she’ll do anything to protect her little sister from the monster they call “Dad.”
The tumbler turns in the lock. I hold my breath.
If it weren’t for Sophie and Mom, I’d run.
Leaving my shoes in the entryway, I creep into to the living room. My ears strain for signs that someone’s awake. The television’s flickering light illuminates the figure sprawled on the sofa.
My pent up breath escapes. It’s just Mom, not him. I spread a quilt over her and turn off the TV.
Stopping at Sophie’s room, down the hall, I push open the door. I stumble over toys to her bed. The nightlight casts shadows around me.
She rubs her eyes. “Mom took those pills for her somnia. Is she asleep?”
My heart cringes, as it does every time Sophie asks about Mom. “It’s insomnia, Soph. Yes, she’s sleeping. Five-year-olds should be too, kiddo.”
A door slams. Every muscle in my body grips the nearest bone. Sophie inhales like she’s going to speak, but I cover her mouth. We wait, eyes wide. I watch for movement or shadows in the crack of light coming from the hallway.
Sophie’s jaw clenches under my palm. A crash in the kitchen is followed by shattering glass and banging cabinet doors. Cursing.
Minutes inch by on their hands and knees. Footsteps come, and then retreat. I count to ten. Then I whisper, “Was he gone all evening?”
Relief floods my veins. Maybe he’ll go straight to bed and leave us alone.
I climb in next to Sophie, brushing the hair off her forehead. Once again, I stay the night in Sophie’s room to guard against the last person she should need protection from: our father.