The Torn by LaDonna Cole (Holding Kate #1)

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WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT THE TORN …the book is inspirational and encouraging and gives the reader romance, adventure, fantasy, and at the same time answers to deal with some of the most pressing problems of youth today. Parents and adults will find it a warming read, and even may find information to help them talk to young people dealing with these issues. ~ Readers’ Favorite ~ Cole delivers a well developed world combining elements of fantasy, sci-fi, and eons of heart. This is an author who knows how to get to the heart of the matter even while taking the reader on a wild adventure! ~ S.R. Karfelt, Award-winning author of Kahtar ~ The Torn is a fast-paced, wild adventure through several worlds when quantum physics becomes an avenue for therapy… ~ Kelsey Rae Keating, Author of A Stolen Kiss ~ As a court appointed advocate of foster children for the state of Texas, I immediately connected with the characters in The Torn. The writing was imaginative and kept me interested. It was hard to put down. ~ Alice Gordon, CASA ~ …a one-of-a-kind read that had me thinking long after I finished. To anyone who has ever looked deep inside themselves, The Torn is for you. ~ Katie Cross, Author of Miss Mabel’s School for Girls ~ Not since Narnia has there been such a powerful spiritual allegory that was so righteously cool. ~ Kimberly Robertson, English Educator and Youth Development Professional ~




The Torn

Copyright Š 2013, 2017 LaDonna Cole All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without prior written permission of the publisher. This book is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, and dialogue are drawn from the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Published by H2O an imprint of BHC Press Library of Congress Control Number: 2017951013 ISBN-13: 978-1-946848-78-9 ISBN-10: 1-946848-78-6 Visit the publisher at: www.bhcpress.com Also available in ebook


THE

TORN



PROLOGUE

FEAR TRICKLED DOWN my spine and my heart thumped an angry staccato as the enormous beast crashed through the thicket behind me. Run! I commanded my feet, but they seemed to be growing roots into the mossy forest floor. “RUN!” Mel screamed and yanked on my arm so hard I thought she had wrenched it right out of my shoulder, but it worked. I was running. We were both running for our lives. “Is it yours?” she yelled to me. “I don’t…I don’t…” Looking back over my shoulder, I saw the beast pause and throw his nose into the air, sniffing. He reared up on his hind legs and I saw it. He was wearing a long yellow leash of sorts around his neck, but the ends were frayed, as though he had gnawed himself free. I stumbled and went crashing into the thicket, thorns snagging my clothes and hair. Mel was next to me in an instant. “Get up!” She paused at the look of panic on my face. “It is yours.” She said and ancient sadness crossed her features. “What is it?” She slashed at the vine tangled around my feet and stole quick glances over her shoulder. “It…It…it’s my….” I croaked out in despair.


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ROOOOOOOOAAAAAARRRRRRRR! The beast bellowed when he caught our scent. “Get up! Go!” Mel urged. I scrambled to my feet just as the beast crashed through the wall of branches and vines. We froze staring at the hideous creature as long talons scraped the ground at his sides and black gunk oozed from his mouth and eyes. Yellow fangs pressed into the matted fur of his face. His eyes held deadly intent and seething malice. His breath rose in green fumes around him. “What is it?” Mel’s voice whimpered. “It’s my,” I shuddered. “It’s my daddy!”


ONE

MEET CUTE

“IN ONE TENTH of a mile, your destination is on the left… recalculating…recalculating.” Mom glared down at the GPS. It was blinking off and on and the circular arrow was clocking. She thumped it. “What is wrong with this thing? We must be out of range.” “Mom, I think we’re here.” I pointed to the maroon covered bridge and the sign plastered above it that said Welcome to Heartwork Village, a place and time set apart. “Oh, yeah, this must be it.” She turned the car into the drive and we bumped across the wooden slats. As we neared the center of the old bridge, I glanced to my right to look at the creek bed. The hair on my arms bolted straight and I felt a strange popping sensation in my chest. “Weird,” I muttered rubbing my arms. “Oh, I think it is quaint,” Mom purred in disagreement, scanning the narrow lane ahead of us. We pulled into a blacktop parking lot where several vehicles were already lined in rows and mom’s keys rattled as she turned off the car. Listening to the engine ticking, we sat for a moment, then mom turned to me, eyes welling with tears. “It shouldn’t be long, Katie Lynn. I am sure they will see what a good girl you are and you will be released early.”


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I just nodded and turned my eyes away when her lip quivered. I didn’t want to take the chance that I would start crying too, not the best impression to make in a center full of delinquents. I needed to be tough to make it through the summer. Besides, mom was sad enough for the both of us. She had been for several months. “They say after five weeks we can visit during family week.” Mom plunged into her large purse and emerged with a crinkled tissue. She dabbed her cheeks and blew her nose. “Maybe Grammy and Pops will come too, wouldn’t that be nice?” “Yeah, sure, Mom.” I swallowed back the panic that rose to choke me and ground my teeth together, fighting the urge to beg her to take me home. “Please be good, darling.” She pulled me into an awkward embrace and kissed the top of my head. Enveloped in her signature perfume, the scent of fresh air and sunshine, I threw my arms around her neck and deeply breathed in the familiar fragrance, committing it to memory. “I will be an angel, Mom.” I whispered my wavering promise and kissed her wet cheek. We stepped out of the car into the sweltering heat and heaved my suitcases out of the trunk. I stole glances around the parking lot at the collection of misfits emerging from various vehicles. “Hi! You must be Katie Lynn.” A perky co-ed with curly red hair approached as she checked something on her clipboard. “My name is Kim Stevens. I’ll be your escort to orientation.” Kim beamed, her willowy frame swayed slightly as she introduced herself. I lifted a corner of my lips in a half grimace, half smile. It was all I could muster up. She didn’t seem to mind. “Let me get some help with your luggage.” She turned and called, “Dirk, over here!” She swirled her finger in a circle


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above my luggage and a huge black man grabbed one of the boys, and they jogged toward us. “This is Katie Lynn and her mom, Ms. Wilson.” Dirk held out his fist and I bumped it. He beamed a sparkling, toothy grin. “Cool. We’ll have plenty of time to get acquainted, Katie Lynn.” My eyes kept darting over to the boy he was with. He was cute, shocking turquoise eyes were lit by the sun and framed with blond fringe. He had an innocent look in his features. I couldn’t imagine he would ever do anything wrong to end up here. “Hey.” He flashed me a gorgeous smile and my heart galloped away with any words I might have uttered. I felt the tender skin under my right eye tick and I sort of huffed at him. Smooth, Kate. I swallowed and slammed my eye lids together. Why was my throat suddenly parched? Dirk laughed at the awkward pause between us, and then rallied. “Come on, Corey, let’s get Miss Wilson’s stuff into the wagons.” They collected luggage and trotted away to a covered pavilion where everyone gathered. “Hope and pray you get on his Jump Team, the dude’s got skills.” Kim winked and pointed her head toward Dirk’s back. “Jump Team?” My voice cracked. I had no clue what she was talking about. Were there jump rope races or trampoline stunts? I really hoped she wasn’t talking about anything that needed a parachute. She grabbed my hand and dragged me to the pavilion. Mom followed along in our wake. I hadn’t expected this kind of reception, this felt like summer camp, not a program for juvenile delinquents. I don’t know what I thought would happen—maybe shackles or a lice check? Passing into the shaded cover of the open air pavilion, Kim called out. “Caitlyn, Eunavae, this is Katie Lynn.”


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“Hiya!” The one called Caitlyn said in a deep raspy voice. It was a shock to hear such a big voice come out of such a tiny body. Her lips were glossy pink and her long black hair curled around her olive toned shoulders. “Call me Pinky,” the other one demanded. She cast a derisive glance to Kim for the failed attempt at an introduction. She had chin length, jet black hair, with a swath of electric pink down one side and shaved around the bottom on the other side. A stud in her bottom lip and a spike in her brow completed her emo appearance. “Sorry, I forgot, you go by the name Pinky.” Kim apologized, eye brows aloft and jaw tense. I lifted a corner of my lip and tried not to stare at the spike hovering above Pinky’s angled eyes. Difficult. Clip clop sounds reached us and we all turned to see two horse drawn carriages, an old fashion stage coach and what appeared to be a hayride, roll to a cascaded stop beside the pavillion. “Wicked,” Pinky whispered. I turned to match pleased grins with her and Caitlyn as we wove and jostled toward the first carriage. Mom closed in behind us. A frantic scream tore through the trees and my heart jumped into my throat. All the teens froze in their tracks and looked around at each other with big eyes. I glanced at mom who didn’t seem fazed at all. Several of the other parents seemed clueless, too. I frowned and looked at Pinky and Caitlyn’s startled faces. “Did you hear that?” I whispered. They nodded and we stepped closer together. Dirk cleared his throat and boomed out in deep bassoon. “Sorry, parents. This is where you say goodbye. No families


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are allowed on campus until family week.” Then he turned and began handing luggage up to an elderly man who had been driving the stage coach. “There ya go, Pops.” Pops was what I called my grandpa so I glanced up at the old man. He caught my eye and dipped his chin in greeting. He looked nothing like my Pops, but his eyes perked up as though he recognized me. Wait! Goodbye? The meaning of Dirk’s words filtered through my distractions and I turned a startled face to Mom and reached out a hand to her. “We’ll save you a seat, Kate.” Pinky wrenched Caitlyn away to the carriages, glancing in the direction of the scream. Mom enfolded me in her warm arms and kissed my cheek. I hadn’t realized I was almost as tall as she was. She touched my face and whispered. “I love you, Katie Lynn.” “I love you, too, Momma.” I felt my brow crumple and quickly ironed it out in an attempt to be brave. There was so much I wanted to say to her. Be brave for Jimmy. Get on with her life and stop pining for Daddy. He didn’t deserve her anyway. I was sorry for making everything worse, but there was no time, no privacy and that mysterious scream left me shaken. “I…I…I’m so sorry,” I stuttered. “I know, darling.” She kissed my cheek and pushed me away. “Now, go on, my brave Katie.” I turned, my attention riveted on the trees and my heart distracted at the abrupt goodbye. I scanned for the carriage with Pinky’s flash of fuchsia hair, and started toward it, wiping my tears. I glanced back to see Mom already heading toward the car. SLAM!! I hit a wall of flesh and ricocheted back losing my balance.


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“Whoa.” A strong arm wrapped around my waist and kept me from falling. “Sorry.” I quickly swiped at a traitorous tear and ducked my face. He cut me a sympathetic expression. “No problem. Hey, you okay?” He touched my chin and turned my face toward him. I chanced a glance at his face and felt warmth seep into the parts of me that his hands touched. His emotive brown eyes brimmed with concern, topped by a prominent furrowed brow. He had dark brown hair that swooped across his forehead and peaked in a point at his temple bringing Japanese anime characters to my mind. His chiseled angular face was softened with tender expression, a perfect balance of masculinity and gentleness. “Yeah, I’m good.” I breathed, suddenly very aware of his hand on my body. “Okay, then.” He suddenly seemed aware of it too and jerked his arm up awkwardly, then touched the point of his bangs. “I’m Trip. What’s your name?” “Katie Ly… Kate. Just call me Kate.” “Okay, Kate it is.” He smiled and reached out to tuck a stray strand of my hair behind my ear. His hand lingered on my cheek. I think my heart stopped. His smile was contagious. I was shocked when my face responded to mimic his. Smiling was not in the plan for the day. It was a nice surprise. “Yo, Trip! We got you a seat.” I glanced over to see a group of boys gesturing for him to join them. They were in a flatbed trailer drowning in hay and hitched to a team of mules. “I guess I’ll see you around,” he quirked his left eyebrow. “Eyes forward, Kate, I wouldn’t want you to have any more


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fateful encounters.” He leaned forward and lowered his voice as he spoke behind his hand. “Gives me an edge over the competition.” He chuckled then ran off toward the mules. I wasn’t at all sure what that was supposed to mean, but I followed his advice and kept my face pointing in the direction I wanted to go. My heart felt lighter, like maybe this summer wouldn’t be so bad after all. I climbed into the carriage with Pinky and Caitlyn. “Ooohhh, I like the way you play, chica!” Caitlyn bobbed her head in opposition to her shoulders. “Definitely, the cutest boy so far, mmmm….es muy guapo.” “And solid as a wall.” I grinned and cocked an eyebrow. Pinky and Caitlyn ogled at me and broke out in a chorus of “My heart beat is dancing for you, boy!” Pinky dangled out of the back of the carriage singing “bumbump, badabump whew!” while Caitlyn wiggled her hips, salsa style, until the carriage lurched forward and she slammed into her seat. I laughed and sang along as the boys in the hayride hooted and hollered at us. Kim shook her head and giggled. Another girl rode in the carriage and she was gorgeous, top model stuff, for sure. Her long blond hair was wrapped around to rest on one well defined shoulder. Her shorts revealed strong long and lean legs. She was perfectly tanned a honey golden color and I swear she had periwinkle eyes that sparkled. She didn’t sing with us, she cast a glance at me then looked the other way. I was glad. She made me feel invisible and ugly at the same time. The carriages jolted and toggled us into our seats as they began their lumbering pace down a forest enclosed lane. Our song died on our lips as the hush of the woods demanded reverence. The minute the carriage rumbled into the shadows,


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my heart flopped. I scanned the thicket wondering who—or what—had made that screeching sound. “What the…” Pinky slapped her cell phone. “No reception.” “Oh, yeah, none of your electronic devices will work here at Heartwork Village,” Kim interjected. “Right Charlie?” She called to the driver of our carriage. “That’s right,” he chortled. We frantically dug out our cells and iPods, tapped them and groaned. “This is just great.” Caitlyn slammed her back against the red leather cushion and shoved her phone into her bag. “Don’t worry. You’ll be too busy to notice,” Kim said mysteriously. As if to punctuate her words, another screeching sound ripped out of the woods to the left. “What is that?” I rasped out. “Already?” Kim cocked her head to the side. She glanced around to take in all of our startled expressions. “Wow, that has got to be a record or something. It usually doesn’t start until after orientation.” She stood up in the carriage and called out to Dirk. “Hey, did you get an early jump requisite?” “Nope.” He turned to the cowboy slapping reins on the backs of the mules. “Did you, Chaps?” He shook his head, too busy munching on a straw of hay to speak. “Weird.” She sat back down, pursed her lips, and furrowed her brow in concentration. I gawked at Pinky and Caitlyn and we all turned to scan the shadowed woods with astonished faces.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

LaDonna Cole thrives in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee with her children, singing, writing and traveling as much as possible. A Psychiatric Nurse and incurable optimist, she draws on her zest for adventure, passion for family, and journey through faith to release the soul of each new story.