Down and Dirty (Shameless Southern Nights)(66)

By: J.H. Croix & Ali Parker

Great. Just great.

I didn’t need a mirror to know I’d smeared my make-up. I probably looked like a sad raccoon. I just couldn’t bring myself to give a damn. Not right now.

I’d been a bundle of nerves and emotion all weekend, and I was beyond weary of feeling so strung out.

Wesley hadn’t so much as spoken to me, yet he sure knew how to get to me. I knew what he was doing was tantamount to abuse, but it’d never been clearer to me than it was right now. He wasn’t even here, but he’d parked himself in my head and was lobbing potshots to make sure I’d be miserable. It had felt like such an achievement to break free of him. I’d thought by scrounging up the nerve to leave him, I’d be free. No such luck. Even from a distance, he still managed to wreak havoc in my life.

I was alienating people who were trying to be there for me, I was caving to his demands even though they were hurting me, and I was willing to keep doing it if it meant keeping Austin safe. But I was also exhausted from it.

I was so damn tired of Wesley threatening me and Austin, and now Jeremy as well. I didn’t understand why he couldn’t just leave me alone.

We didn’t work out.

We had a child together, sure. Austin would bind us together forever, but Wesley could’ve been a positive part of Austin’s life besides our relationship falling apart. Instead, his own son was terrified of him, and he caused us nothing but grief.

Austin was the best thing that had ever happened to me and I wouldn’t change having him for anything in the world. Yet, I often wondered why I hadn’t seen Wesley for who he was right from the very beginning.

Maybe if I had, I could’ve broken things off with him much earlier, made a clean break for both Austin’s well-being and my own. Guilt weighed heavily in the pit of my stomach, getting heavier by the day because of Wesley’s effect on our lives.

The worst thing was that his poison wasn’t even confined to my life alone anymore. It had a domino effect, spreading to others around me.

It wasn’t right, and it wasn’t fair. If I wanted to break out of this cycle I was stuck in, I had to break free of this hold he had on me. I just had no idea how to make that happen.

Marie & Jeremy’s story continues in Down & Dirty #2, available now!

Click here: Down & Dirty #2


To our readers - because that’s why we write. JH always thanks her dogs & her hubs because they are her best cheerleaders. Well, that and coffee. Ali is a force of nature & thanks the army behind her with her hubs & three kids.

We decided to create a series together, and it’s been nothing but fun. A shout out to Yoly Cortez for making magic with this cover and to our editor for holding our feet to the fire. A bow of thanks to our invaluable advance readers. Many, many thanks to Mary W., Charlotte B., Katelyn W. and Ashley B. They keep us in line and clean up the details. There were twice as many this time, but who’s counting?


Ali & JH