Title: COWBOY LULLABY
Author: Kadian Tracey
Genre: Interracial, Sensual Romance
Abuse is something Jennifer Cozel knows very well.
Growing up with a father who hates her, Jennifer suffered through hell. After her father gets killed in a drunk driving accident with no will, no money, eighteen year old Jennifer Cozel is left to fend for herself.
She moves to Barley and settles into the mundane existence of small town waitress she believes she deserves. That is until Sherif Rone Jennings steps into her life with a glimpse into a world she so desperately yearns for.
But how do you fix someone that is so horribly broken?
Sheriff Rone Jennings takes one look at Jennifer Cozel and wants her. Something about her just screams a real woman. But getting to know the volutuous waitress is not easy for she is fighting him at every turn. When he finds out about her past, anger like he never felt before surges through him but what good will that doo? Rone is determined to not only help Jennifer heal, but to make her see not all love is painful
What day is it?
The rain had long stopped pounding against the class and the old tree just to the right of her window hadn’t crashed into the side of the house for a good ten minutes. Still those thoughts seemed almost trivial to what was happening inside Jennifer Cozel’s mind. Her heart didn’t care as well for it was too busy pounding inside her chest as though it wanted to hop out and run away. Another loud bang sounded from somewhere in the house and she jumped. Her eyes caught the chest behind the door then lifted to see if the door handle would twist to the right then to the left. When nothing happened but another loud crash of something hitting the wall hard, she shifted slightly to alleviate the pain her legs were starting to send through her.
Jennifer trembled at her father's footsteps storming through the house. He'd been on one of his binges again which put him in a mood. Two days of a steady intake of alcohol with no food always did that to him. Each morning she had to lug the bag of liquor bottles to the recycle bin at the back of the house once he’d gone off to work or fallen asleep after a night of hard drinking. Lately, she’d made more than two trips. How one person could drink so much and still be able to function was beyond her. The nights when his favorite baseball team lost were the worst and the mornings after even harder. She learned a long time ago to stay out of his way when he drank for when he was drunk the really mean side of him came out—which was all the time. The sad truth was Jennifer couldn’t remember a time when her father was sober. He drank to wake up, drank to fall asleep and drank to silence the demons inside his head. She often times heard him yelling at them when he wasn’t screaming at her. He drank when he was happy, when he was sad but most importantly, he drank whenever he looked at her then sobbed. As far as she knew his problem was her fault.
Whenever he was really hammered, he remembered his dead wife and Jennifer paid for it because he would break into her room and beat her until she was unconscious. Afterward, he’d fill a bucket with cold water and toss it in her face. That was a horrid way to wake anyone up for she’d jerk upright, screaming then clawing at her neck. The cold water against her body left her gasping for breath.
Jennifer would never get used to that.
She was on her final semester in high school and was pretty sure she was going to fail. She'd been cooped up in her room for three days for her father forbade her to go to classes. He saw school made her happy. He couldn’t touch her while she was at school and every fibre of him hated that. When she was at school she was someone—people knew who she was. After she turned eighteen, the county no longer required her to go to school. If she missed too many classes no one would call the house or threaten to call child services. He smirked as he told her she was no longer to leave the house for school, as a matter of fact—she must no longer leave the house period. Jennifer was terrified so she listened and remained hidden in her room.
Whenever she heard the car leaving, she would peer out her window and watch until the car had long since gone before tiptoeing out of her room to get something to eat. But she couldn't take anything he would miss. Luckily she'd stashed a couple of Jamaican buns with a tin of cheese in her room so all she really needed was water. As long as she didn’t open the can with the cheese, she could keep it hidden in her room for as long as she needed. Filling her traveler’s mug with cold water she drank the whole thing and refilled it. The next thing on her list was to look around ensuring nothing was moved or out of place before returning to her bedroom, locked the door and shoved her chest holding her sheets behind it.
The buns she'd bought were getting smaller. Jennifer wasn't sure how much longer they would last. After that she was out of money, out of food and out of luck. Sometimes her best friend would sneak something over and she would quickly eat it. Gale was good for Jennifer, but she couldn’t let her father know about Gale. When she was ten, her father came home to Jennifer sitting in the living room with another little girl from school. After he pushed the girl out the door and tossed the books after her, he tied Jennifer to a tree outside until the next morning. He then cut her loose and left her lying there weak and half starving.
She made a mental note to see if she could get a couple extra shifts at her school cleaning up after the girl's rugby team. If she could manage that she should be good for what she needed for a little bit while she scrounged for more.
Breaking a piece of the bun off, Jennifer shoved it into her mouth. The sweet of it flooded her senses, causing her to moan and rest helplessly against the bed. Her eyes caught the scars on her leg when she stretched them out before her. Swallowing the lump in her throat, Jennifer used her free hand and tugged her dress down to cover them. When it didn’t cover her ankles, she curled her legs beneath her bum and took a breath. Suddenly she wasn't hungry anymore.
In a state of heightened fear, she sat in the same position until her legs cramped, throbbed then went numb. Still, she daren't move. The darkness flowed in through the window and still she didn't move. Her eyes burned and from time to time she forced herself to blink. Though she yearned for sleep, she couldn't. Every time her eyes closed she remembered her father then jerked awake. He was drinking that evening.
She wouldn’t be getting any sleep.
A loud bang on the front door pulled her upward. She grabbed the bun she'd still have out, wrapped it up and shoved it into her bag. She pushed the bag under her bed and pulled the sheets down over it. Glancing around to ensure nothing was out so he could see if he broke in. She took a breath and rose. Her legs trembled, weak by the position they'd been in for such a long time. She slumped forward, catching herself on the edge of the bed. Shaking her legs, Jennifer tried working out the numbness. When she finally got some feeling back into her legs, she had to wiggle them more to get the pins and needles feeling out.
The knock came again.
The fact she'd missed a car pulling up was scary to her. But she was exhausted. The knock sounded once more and by this time, Jennifer sucked in enough courage to actually leave her room. She pulled the chest from before the door, and stuck her head out. The hallway was spotless, silent. The walls were devoid of pictures. The halls empty of any kind of fixture except a solitary light bulb on at the end of the hall on the centre wall.
On the tips of her toes, she scurried from her room and peered over the balcony before hurrying down the stairs. She peeked into the scantily furnished room. Marshal wasn't there. When she got to the front door, she pulled her sleeves down over her arms, took a breath and pulled the door open.
To her shock and relief her father wasn't standing there. Instead, two police officers faced her.
"May—may I help you?" Jennifer asked softly, ensuring not to meet their eyes.
"Hi, your name?" one asked. He gave her a grim smile, one she’d recognize anywhere. Jennifer was used to sadness.
"Jennifer, Jennifer Cozel."
"Do you know a Marshall Cozel?"
Jennifer nodded. She couldn't speak for the lump in her throat just wouldn't allow the words to come out. Clearing her throat, she tried again. “He’s my father.”
"I'm afraid we have some bad news." The other officer spoke up. "Your father was killed a little earlier in an accident."
Jennifer stood before the police officers with her arms wrapped around herself. If her father was dead it was no accident. He was probably too wasted or too hung over to see where he was going and crashed into a tree.
"Did you hear me ma'am?" the cop asked. "Your father is dead. He ran a red light and was struck by a drunk driver going the other way."
I knew it.
Eighteen year old Jennifer blinked, then nodded. "I heard you. He was drinking.”
“We figured. There was a bottle of Jack Daniels in the car after they managed to cut him out with the Jaws of Life.”
“Did anyone else got hurt?” she whispered.
“Yes. The driver in the other car but nothing life threatening.”
“What’s good. My father is always drinking.”A sinking feeling pulsed through her, leaving her feeling empty. Still she was left with a profound sense of something urgent, something on the point of breaking inside. "Thank you for informing me officers," Jennifer squeaked. "Where can I...can I..."
"His body is at the morgue." One of the cops handed her a card. "You can go here and identify it."
She wrapped her fingers around the card and nodded again. They probably thought she was a bloody mute.
"We're really sorry for your loss."She smiled tightly and backed into the house and closed the door.