Black HeartR. L. Mathewson
Black Heart: A Cursed Hearts Novel
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations and events described in this novel are either products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review.
Edited by Robert Stephens, Jodi Negri & R.L. Mathewson
Additional help came from: Gitte Doherty and Stephanie Shaw
e-book ISBN: 9780988573215
Black Heart: A Cursed Hearts Novel © R.L. Mathewson 2013.
All rights reserved.
Other Books by R.L. Mathewson
Neighbor from Hell Series:
Playing for Keeps
Tall, Dark & Lonely
Tall, Dark & Heartless
Hollywood Hearts Series:
A Humble Heart
A Reclusive Heart
I would like to say thank you to everyone who has helped me over the years.
First and foremost, I would like to say a special thank you to Rhonda Valverde and the wonderful ladies at Vampireromancebooks.com. They were the first readers to actually give my books a chance and they helped guide me along the way. They’re a wonderful group of ladies and I miss our Friday night chats. This is also probably the best time to admit that I haven’t been able to hang out at the forum because I may have, um, lost my password and need that reset, lol.
What can I say? Lieve was the first one to give me a slap upside the head and point out that editing in my books was severely lacking. She’s helped me edit, proofread and fix my technical mishaps over the last couple of years. She’s also helped me develop an unhealthy obsession with Belgian chocolate, but she’s also been very kind and helped me develop a writing style that makes what I love to do more enjoyable.
Thank you, Lieve.
Jenn Tabios Carrion, thank you for putting up with my crazy texts and phone calls and brainstorming this book with me. You helped me a great deal and I truly appreciate it. You’re the best!
This book is dedicated to my children, Kayley and Shane, my two favorite people in the world.
About this book
About the Author
About this Book
Although all of my books mean a great deal to me, this book has a special place in my heart. This book, or rather, the characters from this book were my first attempt at writing a novel. I don’t normally go into my personal life, but this book is very important to my family and this is why:
I started writing this book in 2008 as an escape from a horrible marriage. It was a bad situation for my two young children and myself and there didn’t seem to be any way out. Things were made worse by the fact that everyday I was in an insane amount of pain from a ruptured disc pressing down on my spine.
For months I was unable to fully stand, walk or even sit up without an excruciating amount of pain. It made matters worse and made it difficult to do much of anything. I’d wake up in the morning and struggle to take care of two young children, one an infant. My mother helped us when she could, but the responsibility of taking care of the children was still on me.
My days were hell, filled with pain and agony as I did my best to take care of my children. From the moment that they woke up until they went to bed I took care of them. Once they were in bed for the night, I was finally able to lie down with an ice pack, heating pad and pop some Advil. It made my already horrible situation even more depressing.
I wanted a way to make things better, but with severely limited funds, no car and living in constant pain, my choices were limited. My attempts to gain employment and further my education were destroyed pretty early on, leaving us dependent on our bad situation.
I didn’t want that life for my children, didn’t want it for myself so I started teaching myself anything and everything that I could in the hopes that I would be able to do something from home that would allow me to support my children on my own. I tried website design, looked into several online businesses, but nothing worked for me.
Feeling depressed and needing an escape more than ever, I started getting back into reading. When I was a kid I was probably the biggest bookworm in my school’s very long history, but that changed when I went to college. I started to read less and less and started focusing on other things.
Once I stared reading again, this time romance novels, I couldn’t stop. I loved them, more than I ever thought possible. I especially loved the ones with humor. A lot of books were great and made my days more tolerable. Unfortunately, a lot of books were also not so good and left me wondering how they were able to get published.
I remember sitting on the couch one day, my children were watching a movie and I was reading this really horrible book. I mean, it was awful, so much so that I had to stop ten pages in. I sat there wondering how in the hell that book got published. Somehow that thought propelled me into thinking that perhaps I could write a book.
At first I laughed it off. I’d tried to write a book several times years ago when I was still in college and had never been able to get past the first sentence. Back then writing a book had been pointless, but things had also been different back then. I had a job, was getting an education and had other things to do to keep myself busy.
Sitting on that couch while my kids watched another Disney movie I realized that I’d reached the point where I had absolutely nothing to lose. I remember standing up and taking the ten painful steps to my small desk only to have to turn right back around, shuffle and get my ice pack. By the time that I made it back to the couch I wanted nothing more than to lie down on the ice pack and try to numb the pain in my back, but I was done.
I turned back around, shuffled and eventually made it back to my desk where I sat down, powered up the computer that barely got attention and opened a word document. I had an idea in my head that I’d been toying with for years and decided to go for it.
I was surprised when the story began to write itself and I was even more surprised by how much I loved it. It gave me the distraction that I needed, gave me hope and most of all, it gave me something to loo
k forward to.
Every morning I would get up around five and wrote until it was time to take care of the kids. Then I would work off and on during the day around their needs. Once I put them down to bed for the night I wrote until one, sometimes two in the morning. I kept up this hectic schedule for a few months until one day I was able to write the words, “The End.”
I was beyond thrilled, mostly because it was the best book ever written. I was pretty damn sure of this at the time. I could picture the book getting published, being made into a movie, the whole nine yards. Then a small problem occurred to me.
I didn’t know how to get a book published.
So, I started researching and what I found had me wanting to give up on the writing altogether. Getting published traditionally took an insane amount of work, patience and time. I really wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but I wanted my book, correction, the best book ever written, published. So I put off publishing it for a little while longer after deciding that I should read through my perfect book and tidy it up a bit so that when I sent it off to agents and publishers that it would look absolutely perfect for them.
I sat down and started to read. By the time that I made it all the way to the end, I was banging my head against the desk and groaning. The book sucked, absolutely sucked. I mean, it was godawful, looked like it had been written by two thirteen year old girls high on caffeine and pure sugar.
It didn’t take me long to figure out that no one would want to read this book never mind publish it, so it was with a heavy heart that I started deleting chapters. The only problem was that I loved the characters. Tristan and Marty had started my love for writing, had given me hope and had helped me in too many ways to count.
I didn’t want to say goodbye to them. So, I kept the first chapter, which is in this book and the last chapter and put them away in a file so that one day I could work on them again. After that I went on to write Tall, Dark & Lonely and A Humble Heart. I worked a lot harder on those books and by the time that I felt comfortable looking into publishing those books, I found an article about self-publishing.
I went on to publish a few books, taking a break every now and then to visit with Tristan and Marty. A few months ago when I decided to take a break to focus on my health, I decided to see what I could do with their book. They deserved a happy ending and I was determined to give it to them. The only problem was that I wasn’t sure what that happy ending was going to look like.
It took a lot of time, daydreaming, harassing friends and bugging the crap out of them, but finally one day everything just…..clicked. I knew what I wanted to do with their story. I started working and didn’t stop until it was done.
Once it was done, something still felt off……
They needed a better beginning. I tried to write a prologue a few times, but each and every time it felt forced and I hated it. I wasn’t going to do it, but my beta readers kept pushing for a beginning. Deciding that I’d rather just write one instead of getting slapped around by them cause they’re pretty damn vicious, I sat down and prepared to do just that. I wrote one. It sucked. I deleted it. Again.
I was just about to write an email to Jodi when I realized why nothing felt right. It’s because Tristan and Marty already had a beginning to their story. They were the very first words that I’d ever written. It was their beginning and I decided to use it. The only problem was that I deleted it years ago.
Or so I thought.
Years ago, when I’d experienced computer problems, I’d saved all my documents to a memory stick. Crossing my fingers, I hunted down those memory sticks and was amazed that Marty and Tristan’s original story was still there. The crappiest book ever written, lol.
I copied the prologue and set to work on it. It took me a whole day to fix this thing and while it doesn’t look like my writing style and there’s a chance that it will throw off a few readers, I decided to use it.
If you want, you can skip the prologue and it shouldn’t affect the story for you. I put it in the book because I felt that it deserved its place. They were the first words that I’d ever written for a book and in a way they gave me my start.
This book is part of a definite eight book series with a possibility of a ninth book. This story line will continue on. There are no cliffhangers here, well, there shouldn’t be.
On behalf of my children and myself, we hope that you enjoy Marty and Tristan’s story.
“I told you that we shouldn’t have brought him here!” the young woman sitting on the floor cried as she struggled to restrain the young boy in her arms.
“I’m sorry! I know that I should have listened to you, but I’m sick of not being able to go anywhere or do anything! I’m sick of this!” her husband yelled as he let go of his son’s legs. Without another word, he stood up and walked over to the window. Once again, leaving her to deal with their son alone.
Struggling not to lose it, she fought back the tears that she knew wouldn’t help as she looked down at her son. He’d stopped fighting, but he was still panicking. She knew the signs well by now. His eyes were squeezed shut and his body was tense.
He was trying to tear away from her, from the house, from everything, but he couldn’t free himself or even scream for help. His mother had him restrained on the floor and she was doing everything that she could to keep her hand over his mouth. She didn’t want his grandmother to hear him, to know that he’d had another “episode” as she liked to call it. When he felt her hold on him relax, he made his move, too desperate to get out of the house to care about what happened next.
“Ow! He bit me, Shaun!”
As soon as she released her hold on him, he was up and running down the hall towards the stairs. He tripped over something, but didn’t dare risk opening his eyes to see what it was. He used his hands to help guide his way. He fumbled with frames on the table that he’d seen barely a half an hour ago and was soon moving his hand along the wall.
As soon as he felt the banister he knew that he was almost there. All he needed was to get down the stairs and out the front door and then he’d be safe. Desperate to get out of the house, he started to run faster, too fast, down the stairs and tripped. He blindly reached out to grab onto the banister, but it was too late. He fell down the stairs, hitting what felt like every step until he landed on what felt like the hardwood floor in the front hall. Keeping his eyes tightly closed, he stood up on shaky legs and ran as fast as he could, praying that he was going the right way.
Stumbling forward, his legs suddenly gave out, sending him flying and slamming him face first into what felt like the thick leg of the mahogany end table that his grandmother kept by the front closet. He could feel hot liquid stream down his face, but he didn’t care. He needed to get out of the house. The pain was intense and any attempt to get up was immediately met with more pain and dizziness. He struggled until the only thing that he could do was rollover onto his back and pray that his grandmother finally followed through with her threat and threw him out.
“Oh my God, Tristan!” his mother cried, running down the stairs, taking them two at a time.
“Julie, is he okay?”
“No, Mom, we need an ambulance! He’s bleeding everywhere!” Julie said, shaking Tristan’s small shoulders as she tried to wake him up, terrified that he’d finally killed himself.
“I called them twenty minutes ago when he started to go into hysterics,” her mother said as she joined her in kneeling over Tristan’s still body. “Honestly, Julie, there is something wrong with that boy. I told you that I didn’t want him in my house.”
Barely listening to her, Julie pulled her sweater off and placed it beneath Tristan’s head. A moment later, she reluctantly left his side and quickly made her way to the kitchen. She grabbed her purse and dumped the contents onto the floor. When she found the small business card that she’d thrown into
her purse a few months ago, she grabbed her mother’s phone and dialed, praying that the damn doctor would listen to her this time and do something to help them.
“Dr. Myers, please,” she said as soon as she heard someone answer the phone.
“I’m sorry, but he’s with a patient right now. If you’d like to leave a mess-“
“I don’t care if he is with a patient!” Julie said, cutting the receptionist off. “Tell him that Tristan McCree has had another panic attack. He’s knocked himself unconscious this time and we’re taking him to Province Hospital,” she rushed to explain, hanging up before the receptionist could argue or ask her any questions.
Feeling exhausted, she walked back to Tristan, praying that this would be the last time that they had to go through something like this. Honestly, she didn’t know how much more she could handle. Tristan was too much for her. She hadn’t been ready for him seven years ago when she was barely sixteen years old and discovered that she was pregnant and she wasn’t ready for him now. She just needed a break. She needed someone to fix him, or…..
She just needed something.
Tristan was still unconscious when the ambulance arrived. The Paramedics bandaged his head and stabilized his spine and were starting to load him onto a backboard when Julie realized that Shaun hadn’t come downstairs.
“I’ll be back in a minute. I just want to tell my husband that we’re going now. Please don’t leave without me,” Julie explained in a rush as she ran upstairs.
She found Shaun sitting on the floor with his back against the wall. “Hun, I have to go. Can you drive the car to Province Hospital? I’m going to ride with Tristan,” she explained quickly before turning around to leave, hoping to avoid another argument. “I’ll see you there soon.”
“No,” was his reply.
She quickly turned around and walked back up the stairs so that she didn’t have to yell. “You can’t go with us. They’ll only allow one of us to go with him. Baby, you have to drive there or I won’t have any way to get home.”