Book Excerpt – The Husband We Share
The Husband We Share
by London St. Charles
Publication Date: Sep 23, 2017
List Price: $15.95
Imprint: LS Charles Publishing Group
Publisher: LS Charles Publishing Group
Parent Company: LS Charles Publishing Group
Copyright © 2017 LS Charles Publishing Group/London St. Charles No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission from the publisher or author. The format of this excerpt has been modified for presentation here.
Lauren Carter screamed and bolted upright in her bed, snatched from the reoccurring nightmare that had plagued her for years. She touched a finger to her right ear, expecting to feel a drop of blood, but found none. Damp tendrils of hair clung to her flushed face as she swiped a hand to move them to clear her vision.
“Help me please!”
That voice then, and now, still echoed in Lauren’s mind along with the consequences of Lauren’s mistake. Hours went by as Lauren was forced to listen to Shawn’s shrieks of pain. Trapped on the other side of the door, Lauren was powerless to save the little girl who had come to depend on her for so much.
“You’d better stop screaming, or I’ll kill you,” a raspy voice had barked. A voice belonging to a complete stranger; a man who’d managed to sneak in through the back door of the Community Center, then hide inside the building and lay in wait for the right time to…
The twelve-year-old girl who cried out for Lauren’s help had barely survived a horrific experience that would dismantle someone who didn’t have the support it took to heal. Shawn had managed to piece her life back together. Unfortunately, Lauren still felt the aftereffects.
Disoriented from the recurring nightmare, a chill from the master bedroom rendered Lauren numb. A red lace gown clung to her petite frame, wet from the perspiration that peppered her golden skin. She wrapped trembling arms about her midriff, but they provided no comfort. Lauren had watched Shawn’s ordeal in excruciating detail through the sliver pane of glass the steel door offered.
“Help me,” the girl screamed, but the man wrapped his thick fingers around her throat cutting off any further speech.
This time in her nightmare, tornado sirens had roared loud enough to shatter glass windows and pierce eardrums. A howling wind swept through the building as the steel bars finally receded, and the evil man disappeared, leaving a world of sadness and torment behind.
Lauren scanned the dark bedroom, panting as her heart hammered against her chest causing an ache that wouldn’t subside anytime soon. The guilt threatened to swallow her whole. She had allowed fear of someone else to control her actions, making her less mindful of following proper procedures. Now, thirteen years later, she sat on her bed reliving an experience that had been all consuming to the point she had been forced to seek medical help.
Lauren lowered her head, then took several deep breaths, watching her chest slowly rise and fall in efforts to create a steady breathing pattern.
Though the siren in her dream had silenced when she opened her eyes, some type of siren was still going strong on this side of Lauren’s waking nightmare.
“What is that noise?” she whispered, and her voice seemed to disappear into corners of the master bedroom.
She focused on the digital clock on the nightstand, then shifted from the warmth under the comforter, her heart hammering in her chest all over again. When she stepped a few feet, the chilling grip of the dream loosened, and the cause for the blaring sound became that much clearer in her mind. At nearly three in the morning someone’s car alarm was wailing louder than a Jessye Norman opera performance.
Lauren shivered as another chill raced through her body the moment her feet absorbed the coolness of the mahogany floor. Snatching a red satin robe from its home on the arm of a pewter suede wingback chair, she wrapped it around her body before rushing down the winding staircase and straight to the living room window. By the time she peered out of the vertical blinds, a few answering chirps had caused the noise to come to a complete stop.
She let out a heavy sigh, realizing that sleep wouldn’t revisit her so soon after such an adrenaline rush. Normally the pills would keep her in a restful state through the entire night—no matter what happened in this corner of the world.
So what’s different this time?
Something was off, and her subconscious finally registered a particular issue with startling clarity. Xavier. Why didn’t she wake him before venturing down to check things out for herself? Why hadn’t he comforted her when she woke up shrieking from a horror that no longer existed?
The empty feel of the Tudor home they owned on the south side of Chicago, in the Beverly neighborhood, enveloped her like several layers of fog descending over Lake Michigan. Her husband’s Cadillac Escalade wasn’t in the driveway parked next to the White Lexus truck he’d bought her as a “just because” gift when she had been named as one of Chicago’s Leading Hair Stylists in Essence Magazine.
She tried to shake off the feeling of melancholy which settled in as she made her way through the dark house, thinking that maybe she somehow misinterpreted things.
“Oh my Lord,” she whispered as a shocking reality set in. “Maybe that alarm was from his truck, and the damn thieves got away with it.”
That had to be the only explanation for him to be missing in action. Since more DEA agents had been sent to Chicago, undercover work by local police was at a minimum. Xavier would have told Lauren of any new assignments.
Lauren climbed the stairs to the upper level, ran the length of the hallway, passing a red bamboo floor vase and causing it to shake from her efforts.
“Xavier! Xavier, wake up,” Lauren yelled, bursting into the master bedroom. She flipped the light switch and froze; placing her hands on hips that her husband said would cause a blind man to regain his sight and dance a grateful jig. Evidently, that blind man had a better chance of seeing them right now than her husband would.
“Where the hell is he?”
Lauren’s gaze swept the area, taking in the king-sized black canopy poster bed with two sheer drapes cascading down evenly on both sides. Then her fingers tipped the dimmer. Her eyesight quickly adjusted to the bright light illuminating a room designed in shades of ruby red and Charleston gray—colors that spoke to a blend of the couple’s taste.
Only Lauren’s side of the bed showed signs of recent use. Xavier’s was as silky smooth, just as it had been the morning before. Even the scent of Edge Shave gel was barely discernable.
She massaged her temples, allowing several scenarios to run through her mind. Her husband, a Narc with the Chicago Police Department, had been involved with the kind of cases that put him in the same vicinity with high-level drug dealers, managing confidential informants, and the type of surveillance that had made his career a sometimes-dangerous engagement. Nothing she was aware of would cause him to disappear without a word. And he certainly hadn’t seemed worried about anything earlier that evening. Her body tingled with the sweet memories.
Xavier had touched, teased, and tongued every part of her soul along with every inch of her buttercream skin in the shower just hours ago. Her body had trembled and convulsed, as he drove her to the point that was completely out of control. He had perfected the craft of making Lauren experience the ultimate orgasmic euphoria. Their lovemaking now was as good as their wedding night had been a little over nine years ago. Only better. Coupled with the fact that he was also loving, caring, and an excellent provider, made her the happiest woman on the south side of Chicago, if not the world.
A smile crept across her face remembering that afterward, they had spooned and fell asleep in each other’s arms. She ran her fingers through wavy shoulder-length hair, frowning as she tried to recall a fuzzier time, thinking; I thought that’s what happened?
The smile disappeared the moment she tried putting the pieces together, and something didn’t fit. Needless to say, no matter how much sleep was lacking and how much she needed to be on point to do an early morning favor for a last-minute client, she was too wired to put her head back on the pillow.
Lauren Carter wasn’t sure if she should be pissed off at Xavier for being left alone, or concerned because he wasn’t in the place he was supposed to be.
“Where the hell is my husband?”