An Act of Salvation (Acts of Honor #2)

By: K.C. Lynn

PROLOGUE




Katelyn


Seven years old

“Where are you, you little bitch? Get out here, now!”

My heart pounds in my chest as I look around my room, frantically searching for a hiding spot before my dad can find me. Kolan bursts through the adjoining door of the bathroom that links our bedrooms, wearing nothing but a pair of shorts.

He waves me over; the terrified look on his face matching my own. “Come on, Kate, hurry.” I run as fast as my shaking legs will allow and he quickly ushers me over to his closet. “Get in here and don’t come out no matter what, okay?”

“But what about you?” I whisper fearfully.

Daddy will hurt him bad if he doesn’t hide, too.

“Don’t worry about me, just get in there.” Before I can argue more he pushes me in and gives me a stern look. “I mean it, Katelyn, don’t come out—no matter what,” he orders before closing the doors, blanketing me in darkness.

I hate the dark. I’ve spent too much time in it.

“When I find you, little girl, I’m going to skin you bare!”

I burrow deeper into the back of the closet, my small body trembling with fear at his threatening voice. The sound of the bedroom door cracking open has me flinching. Through the slats of the closet I see my father—his red, glassy eyes bulging with fury as he grips the thick leather belt in his hands.

Oh no!

“She’s not in here!” Kolan yells, standing in front of the closet, protecting me with an intensity far greater than his ten years.

Daddy knows he’s lying. “Get out of my way, boy.”

“No!”

A loud smack echoes through the air before I see Kolan fall to the ground. I cover my mouth, trying to quiet my sob. Terror washes over me as my father reaches for the closet door.

“No! She didn’t do it,” Kolan shouts, jumping back up. “It was me, I broke your stupid glass.”

Oh no, what’s he doing?

I’m the one who broke it, but it was an accident, and Mama already yelled at me for it. Daddy doesn’t care. He looks for any reason to hurt us because he hates us, especially Kolan.

“You’re lying, but I’ll gladly make you pay for it, you mouthy little shit!”

“No!” I scream, but he can’t hear me, the only sound that can be heard is my father’s violence as he unleashes it on Kolan, the belt lashing down across his bare back. “Please stop!” I plead with a sob. I want to help, but know I can’t. Kolan will get so mad at me if I leave this spot. I did it once before and it didn’t end well for either of us. Knowing there’s nothing I can do, I helplessly cover my ears and squeeze my eyes shut, trying to quiet the horror of my father hurting my brother.

“Kolan,” I call out his name, over and over again, wishing I could help him. This is all my fault. I should have been more careful when trying to get a drink of water.

After a while I hear nothing but the sound of my own cries. I pull my hands away from my ears and listen, only to hear soft, painful groans. With blurry vision I peek through the slats and see my father is gone. I slowly open the door then quietly step out. Kolan lies on his bed, curled in a ball with his back to me, the angry red welts marking his skin makes my heart hurt.

“Kolan!” I rush over to him. “I’m so sorry.” I sob, kneeling next to the bed.

“I’m okay,” he assures me through chattering teeth. “Can you get the light?”

With a sniffle I stand and reach up on my tiptoes to shut off the light, then crawl in on the other side of the bed and pull the blanket over us. This is our usual routine. I never leave my brother’s side after our father does this to him, which happens often.

Lying down, I face him, only seeing his shadow in the dark, but I feel his entire body tremble in pain.

“You shouldn’t have said you did it. I’m so sorry,” I whisper.

“Don’t worry, I’m used to it. It’s nothing I can’t handle.”

I cry harder, hating that our father hurts him so much.

“Please don’t cry, Kate. I’m okay, I promise.”

“I think we should tell Uncle Joshua and Aunt Linda. They will help us, maybe we can even live with them.”

“No!” he snaps, shutting down the idea right away, like he always does. “We can’t tell anyone. Remember what happened last time, when Uncle Joshua questioned it and called those people to come over to check on us? They didn’t do anything to help and we got it way worse after they left.” I nod, knowing he’s right. “We just need to hang in there, Kate, stick together and stay away as much as we can. When I’m old enough I promise I’m going to get us out of here. We’ll go so far away we’ll never have to see them again.”

The thought of never having to see our parents again is a peace I often dream about. “I love you,” I whisper.

I have no idea what I would do without him, besides my cousin, Faith, he’s my best friend.

“I promise I’ll take care of you. I’ll get us out of here one day, and when I do we’ll never look back.”

I just pray we can survive that long, especially Kolan.

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