As seen on Wattpad under K_E_Francis. Breaking Eden is one of the most twisted and disturbing books around. A must read for fans of mystery, thriller, and horror. A true page-turner that will leave the reader craving more! Contains adult language, sexual situations, graphic violence, and pushes the boundaries of what lengths a person will go to to survive.
One Line Pitch
A woman recounts her story of surviving a ten-year stint, trapped within the depths of a seedy human trafficking ring.
Full Book Blurb
Declan Payne isn't your average multimillionaire CEO. He's the owner of Pleasure in Payne, one of the worlds most profitable sex toy manufacturers. But underneath his poised, well mannered facade lies a sinister beast waiting to be released. And the moment he spots Eden the need to own her, in every way imaginable, consumes him. He'll stop at nothing to claim what he believes is rightfully his.
Eden Burrows is a featured dancer at Harvey's and couldn't be happier. Only her days in the spotlight are numbered when she crosses paths with the stranger in room 6. What starts off as a routine job ends in betrayal and her imprisonment. Held against her will, Eden must over come her fear and fight to escape because, for her, dying is not an option.
And now for the first draft of Breaking Eden. This is a sneak peak.
Prologue: The Ghost Girl
February 2017 - 11 p.m.
On the night the Ghost Girl appeared, Officer Hamlin couldn't decide what was worse, the hunger eating away at his stomach, or the migraine pounding away at his temple. His gaze wavered from the rain-soaked highway and drifted, once again, toward the sandwich sitting atop his workbag. His stomach grumbled and as if on queue, he let loose an acid filled belch that seared his throat and brought tears to his sleep-deprived eyes.
He drummed his fingers impatiently against the steering wheel and made up his mind. A hot meal would've been ideal, but that wasn't going to happen. He snagged the sandwich off his bag and struggled with one hand to peel back the foil before taking a massive bite. A glob of mustard oozed out. It dripped down the side of his hand and spattered onto the leg of his black uniform, staining it.
"Goddammit." He grunted around the mouth full of food and glared at the blob of bright yellow. He swiped a fingertip over the mess and issued another string of curse words when it smeared deeper into the fabric.
With his attention diverted from the road, he hadn't noticed the changes occurring around him. The rain fell harder, making it harder to see. If Officer Hamlin were paying attention, he would have noticed the movement up ahead on the side of the highway. Something had emerged from the pines. Was staggering toward the road.
Hamlin didn't know what made him look up at that precise moment, but he did later. As he was retelling his story, he'd chalked it up to pure fate stepping in.
His head shot up from his lap just in time to spot the pale form staggering out of the trees and right into the path of his speeding patrol car. He dropped the sandwich, sending bread and deli meat to his lap and screamed.
"Son of a bitch!" He slammed his foot against the brake and jerked the steering wheel to the side, nearly missing the thing in the road.
Then chaos erupted.
Hamlin's patrol car skidded over the asphalt. It managed to complete a half circle before slamming against the trees lining the opposite side of the road. The windows on the passenger side shattered on impact. He had just enough time to cover his head as shards of glass pelted over his raised arms.
Then everything was quiet.
Lighting illuminated the darkness. Moments later, thunder cracked overhead, and the clouds opened up. All there was, was the rain and Hamlin's labored breathing.
The windshield wipers were broken, making it nearly impossible to see anything past the flooded glass. But still, he tried. He squinted into the darkness beyond the window, trying to make sense of the muddled headlights. When nothing could be deciphered, he fell back against his seat in frustration and sighed.
Get a hold of yourself, old man. Your God damn eyes are playing tricks on you. Ain't nothin' out there but you and the road. There ain't nothing to be afraid of. He rubbed his hands over his face. A second, much deeper sigh slipped past his lips when he added. And whatever the hell that thing was.
A flash of white skin and dark hair dashed briefly through the beams of light. This time he did see it, he saw all of it and screamed like a little boy. The high-pitched cry echoed around him, "Oh dear God! What the fuck is going on?"
Officer Hamlin withdrew his gun with shaking hands and squinted out into the darkness, waiting for the thing to return. He was almost daring it to because this time he was ready to face whatever it was.
But nothing came.
There was only rainfall, the car, and a terrified old man who was one year away from retiring unless he dropped dead of a heart attack tonight. He scanned the road with narrowed eyes then turned toward the gaping passenger windows. His left shoulder ached and his chest felt tighter than normal.
All clear. Hamlin reached out, fumbling blindly for the handset radio, and brought it to his mouth.
"This is Officer Hamlin." He licked his lips nervously and glanced around again. "I got a bit of a situation here." He considered requesting a new pair of pants as well since he'd just about shit himself but released the button before he could commit this act of embarrassment.
There was a long stretch of static before a husky, smokers voice filled the car, "Hit another deer, Hamlin?" The woman drew out his name before laughing.
"No Doris, I didn't hit another deer." He mimicked her thick Boston accent almost perfectly sans the smokers voice.
"Ya got to work on theme sounds a little more, Asshole," She rebuffed instantly then added, "What's ya position? I'll see if we can get someone out to collect ya."
"I'm on the corner of who gives a shit, and I don't fuckin' know." He tried to recall the last sign he passed on the highway but for the life of him he couldn't.
"Ya kiss your wife with that filthy mouth?"
"I'd kiss her every God damn night again if I could. God rest her soul."
"Awe, Christ Hamlin." A momentary silence settled between the two. "How long?" For a second Hamlin could hear the sympathy coloring her tone.
Hamlin cleared his throat before pressing the button to speak, "Been almost a year now."
In four days, at precisely 6:34 am, it'd be one full year since she left me. And no, the pain never stops. It's there when I wake up, and there I go to bed. He wanted to add but held that bit of information back.
In the end, Hamlin's wife was bed bound and delirious, pumped full of enough drugs to kill a horse, yet barely enough to ease her pain during those final days. Cancer was a bitch like that. It eroded flesh and bone, leaving nothing but death and decay in its wake. It knew nothing of race or gender because, to it, everyone was enough.
"Are ya still there Hamlin?"
He quickly dragged the back of an old, sun-spotted hand across his cheeks to dry them and cleared his throat. "Yeah, I'm here. I'm here. Anyway, I'm a little outside of Cadence, I think. Maybe ten miles out."
"So what'd you hit?"
"Somethin' came outta the trees but I don't think I hit it."
"Well that's a first."
"I swerved to miss it, but I must have hit an oil patch because I skidded into-"
There was movement on his left as something slammed against his door, rocking the car against the trees. That hideous high-pitched noise filled the air again and this time Hamlin knew it was coming from him.
"Holy shit!" He shrieked, and this time he did piss himself. A hot circle of urine spread out on the front of his pants.
"Hamlin! What happened? What's the matta?" Doris's voice hardened, becoming serious. "You answer me, God dammit!"
Officer Hamlin's eyes widened. His heart pounded against his chest as he tried to catch his breath. Struggling, he pulled the radio to his mouth. "Doris. I'm gonna need an ambulance." He rubbed at his tightening chest, "Make that two. I think I'm having a heart attack." The radio slipped from his fingers and fell against his thigh, and he struggled to breathe through the pain.
The pale form that had come from the trees had returned for him. He knew what it was now. It was a woman, a naked one at that, with feral eyes that burned into his, and matted, rain-soaked hair. Her dirty hands were frozen into half curled claws which now pounded and clawed against the glass in rapid, but weakening blows.
She fought to open her mouth. Her quivering lips were trying to form words, "H...he...lp...p...p"
And for the first time in Officer Hamlin's career, he didn't know what to do.
The Ghost Girl
There were three things the Ghost Girl knew as fact. One: she was lost, somewhere deep within the Oregon woods in the middle of winter. Two: she was naked, and hyperthermia was setting in. And three: She was free.
But if death wanted to claim her, so be it. She was ready and willing to submit one final time to a force that was more powerful than her. But she'd die on her terms as a free woman. Not a slave nor prisoner to any man, woman, or child.
She was FREE.
Lost in thought, she stumbled forward before collapsing to the rocky ground. She raised her hands and flinched at the lifeless fingers that grazed her burning cheeks. In an act of desperation, she slipped a dirt-covered finger past her lips, bit down, and then examined the offending appendage with a critical glare. Teeth marks left visible indents, yet she couldn't feel a thing.
I'm dying. The girl slammed her hand against the ground; sure she'd feel something - anything - but still, the pain didn't come.
You need to turn back while you still have the chance to make this right. He'll be more forgiving if you go to him. Her body tensed as though preparing for the punishment he was sure to deliver to her.
The fire inside her ignited once more.
NO! She pulled herself to her feet and staggered forward a few steps before crashing against a nearby tree trunk. Her cheek took the brunt of the impact, leaving behind grated skin and blood.
I'd rather die. The girl clamped her eyes shut against the agonizing pain in her cheek when another thought entered her mind. But how am I to survive without him?
Stop it! Exhaustion was taking over. She only needed to rest just for a little while. I'll sit down and take a short nap. I'll feel better when I wake up.
Her knees weakened beneath her, and at the last moment she caught herself and shook her head to clear it of the thoughts that would only get her killed.
No! She forced herself to stand on her own, her numb feet feeling like cement blocks. If you sleep, you'll freeze.
She continued, forcing her aching muscles to move despite the pain and stumbled through the underbrush. The key to survival was concentration. When she thought she couldn't go any further, she took one more step and another and another. Never stopping and never slowing her pace because if she did, she didn't think she'd ever start moving again.
Grab that branch there and steady yourself. She snagged a low hanging branch with a frozen hand to heave her leg over a thick branch that had fallen. There you go.
With her concentration focused solely on the placement of her feet, she didn't notice the changes to her surroundings. In fact, she didn't figure it out for another few steps.
The trees were thinning out, as was the underbrush, which made it easier to walk through. No more misplaced steps or stumbles. This sudden change fueled the flame of hope within her.
I'm going to make it!
When the darkness started to turn from a pitch black to a muted grey, she uttered a laugh.
A trail! A few more hurried steps brought her into the open air and solid ground. No, not a trail, a road!
Lightning cut jagged streaks overhead, and a deep rumble followed suit. Then drops of freezing rain began to pelt her skin.
I'm alive. She closed her eyes, and as her lips curled up into a genuine smile, the girl began to cry. I'm free!
A glaring light came barreling towards her and all she could do was stare at it like a deer in headlights. She shielded her eyes. The thought of it being a car, or something else that could easily kill her, never crossed her mind.
Suddenly, the lights jerked toward the side of the road and were off of her. There was the awful sound of squealing breaks as the car skidded past her. She stood that motionless throughout this whole ordeal. It shot into the other lane before slamming against the trees.
Then reality set in. He's found me.
It was fear that sent her into motion. Her hope faded away with the dying headlights.
Run! She darted back the way she came, back into the darkness of the towering trees and away from him.
How could this happen? He- She slipped, landing hard on her backside and slid to a stop in the mud. Her skin burned as it's raked over the rocky ground.
Lightning flashed, and thunder rumbled overhead.
Then all was silent.
Was he still alive? But if it turned out he was alive then what? Would she go back to the woods where she'll surely die?
She eyed the car one last time then headed towards it. When she spotted the words highway patrol printed in bright white letters on the side of the vehicle she broke out in a run and pounded fiercely against the door.
But her mouth wouldn't form the words she so desperately wanted to say. Thus she was reduced to a stuttering mess of sounds as she slammed her hands against the glass.
The Ghost Girl knew a fourth fact now.
She was alive, and that's all that mattered.
Almost four weeks later
"Is that everything?" Offer Carly Jones frowned up at Officer Hamlin as he finished his story of how he came upon The Ghost Girl.
The officers sat almost knee to knee in plain clothes and were waiting in the lobby of St. Vincent's hospital in Portland, Oregon. They spoke in hushed tones while discussing her case because prying ears were everywhere.
News of The Ghost Girl had spread like wildfire and within a few day's time reporters from all around the country wanted to know her name and, more importantly, they wanted to be the first to hear her story of survival, of her escape.
Hamlin had instantly felt the need to protect her, like a father would his daughter. So he visited her daily, although most of his time was spent alone in the hospitals chapel where he'd sit in the peaceful silence and pray.
It was a miracle the girl had survived because, according to the doctors, she shouldn't be alive. He leaned forward and rubbed at his temples, feeling another migraine coming on.
An image of the girl's matted hair and feral eyes flashed behind his eyelids and, like clockwork, he began to relive that night.
When he moved to slide his coat around The Ghost Girl's shivering body, she froze, as if he was going to harm her. Dim light filtered over them from the open door and the sight of her body made him was to hurl. She had been severely beaten. Scars and semi-fresh cuts littered her arms and legs, not an inch of flesh was clean.
Blood seeped from a badly infected gash underneath her breast. The wound suggested that someone had attempted to cut the damn thing off, but left the flap of tissue hanging partially attached.
The rest of the night was a muddled blur of medics and questions, so many questions he couldn't even begin to answer.
The medics arrived in record time and quickly informed Hamlin that he wasn't, in fact, having a heart attack. He was experiencing an anxiety attack of sorts, brought on by the shock resulting from the accident. And for that he was tremendously grateful.
A week later, when the doctor's cleared him for duty, he learned what had become of his Ghost Girl, and it broke his heart.
Frostbite had claimed the majority of her toes and the fingers on her left hand while the fingers of her right hand remained in limbo.
It can go either way, Hamlin remembered the doctor's saying. And at this point, only time would tell if she'll lose those as well.
Visitors were still denied access to her room. He sat where he could and patiently waited for any information to help ease his mind.
Saying Hamlin was sick with worry would be the understatement of the year. It had been four weeks since she came into his world and, like his late wife Betty; a day hadn't gone by without thinking of her, wondering if she wasn't going to survive this ordeal.
His dreams replayed their first encounter. He'd wake up in a cold sweat, imagining he had just crashed his patrol car all over again. Sleep rarely came now. He'd eventually drag his old body out of bed, showered, changed, and then would head to the hospital with a mug full of coffee in hand. He did this in the hope of gaining a little more information about the girl's recovery. Secretly though, Hamlin just wanted to make sure she was still alive and hadn't died on him.
The doctors were tight-lipped about her condition from the very start and given the media attention this case got he understood why that was necessary. A few of the nurses took a liking to Hamlin almost immediately. But a gentle smile and witty sense of humor worked wonders. It also didn't hurt that he brought free coffee and donuts to those who were willing to speak with him.
The nurses eventually broke down and told him everything they knew thus far or at least everything they wanted him to know. He could never tell just how much they were holding back.
The Ghost Girl, who they've named Jane Doe, refused to speak. She spent the majority of her time staring up at the ceiling in a catatonic-like state. If anyone attempted to touch her, she'd make this god-awful gurgling sound, like she was attempting to speak but her brain wasn't relaying the message. And, like the doctors before them, they told him only time would tell if she'd ever recover.
"So that was everything?" Officer Jones repeated.
Hamlin didn't move. "She came out of the trees then all hell broke loose."
"But Jane Doe's alive because of you. If you weren't driving along the road when she reached it who knows if she'd ever be found." Jones laid a reassuring hand on his knee and gave it a gentle squeeze, "You did well. The newspapers are even calling you a hero."
"I ain't-a hero," Hamlin grumbled, thinking back to how terrified he had been. At how close he came to pulling the trigger. If he shot her dead, the media would've had other things to say about him. He would have been seen as a murderer in their eyes. And they would've demanded he be held accountable for her death. "It could've been anyone. "
"But it was you who found her." Her laugh came out light and a little breathy. "So enjoy the spotlight a little because it'll be short-lived."
They lapsed into a bit of awkward silence. Hamlin checked his watch for the tenth time in the last ten minutes.
"You think they'll let us see her today?"
"Maybe," Jones tone was hopeful, but she shrugged her slim shoulders then sighed, "maybe not."
She glanced around the partially filled room and leaded closer to Hamlin, whispering. "I don't know what they've been telling you, but I overheard one of the nurses when I went to get coffee. She said she'd never seen a case of trauma this horrific."
Hamlin's head shot up. "What are you talking about?"
She rubbed her hands over the jeans covering her thighs. "There was severe damage to her-" Jones pointed towards the apex of her thighs and her eyes glossed over with fresh tears, "They also think she's recently given birth."
"Oh, sweet baby Jesus." Hamlin covered his face with his hands and felt like he was going vomit, "You don't think she had-"
"I don't know. They caught me listening and shut up real quick. And I sure as hell know the newspapers aren't reporting the truth either."
"What are they claiming now?"
"They're implying that our Jane Doe went out into the woods, in the middle of fucking winter of all seasons," Jones rolled her eyes in disgust, "to get high and ended up lost. But I'm calling bullshit. Something terrible happened to that woman, Hamlin, I know it, and overhearing those nurses today proves they're hiding something far bigger than they want us to believe."
"What about the social worker?" He asked, "What's she sayin'?"
"Nothing. I haven't gotten a chance to sit down with her. Every time I do, she runs out of here like a bat out of Hell." Jones gaze drifted toward the floor, and she frowned, deep in thought.
"What are you cooking up in that mind of yours? That they're making her stay quiet?"
It was Jones's head that shot up this time, and when she met Hamlin's gaze his blood ran cold; "It all makes sense! They're forcing her to keep a lid on things. I know it sounds crazy, but I'm starting to think they found out what happened to her out there and they're trying to cover up the truth."
"You're right. That does sound crazy. Why would they want to cover it up?"
"I haven't got a clue."
They fell silent again, each deep in their own thoughts.
"So what are we gonna do about it?" Hamlin's question brought a grin to Jones's lips.
"We keep waiting." She leaned forward, her eyes large with excitement, "We persistently wait for them to fuck up. It's only a matter of time. Then we blow this story out of the water."
"Ya got spunk kid; I like it."
The doors to the waiting room slid open with a soft swoosh, and every head perked up. Someone was about to get an update.
The nurse appeared to be in a hurry as she gazed around the semi-filled room. When her gaze landed on the two plain-clothes officers her face lit up, and she rushed toward them. But her features said it all. Something terrible had happened to the Ghost Girl.
"Tell me she's not dead." Hamlin nearly jumped from his chair.
"Her name-" The nurse tripped over the leg of a chair in her rush to get to them and nearly fell. In the last second, she caught the back of another chair and managed to steady herself before blurting out, "Her name is Eden Burrows!"
"The Eden Burrows?" Jones jumped to her feet, "Did she tell you who took her?"
The nurse shook her head no. "But she asked about a notebook, maybe a diary. Did she have anything with her that night?"
"Wait....what? When did she start talking?" Jones glanced at Hamlin, and he could read the I told you they're hiding something expression on her face.
"She's still not able to speak."
"Then how did she tell you-"
"She stole my pen and wrote me something when I sat with her while that witch of a caseworker went to stuff her face." The nurse's nasally laugh filled the room. She fished a crumpled brown napkin from her pocket.
"What is it?" Hamlin snatched it from her hand and straightened it out over his leg.
"Thought you guys would want to see it first. It took her a few minutes to write, and it's kind of hard to read." The nurse moved to Hamlin's side and read it out loud, pointing to each word. "Eden Burrows. Notebook?"
And sure enough, in barely legible handwriting were those three words:
Slightly under it was a question.
Then the realization hit him like a punch to the dick and it all made perfect sense. Hamlin grabbed the nurse by the shoulders. "What room is she in?"
"Room 525 up on the fifth floor." The nurse quickly looked at Jones then back up at Hamlin a little more than confused. "Why?"
"She's not asking about a notebook she's asking for one." He nearly shouted out with excitement, adding, "This is how she's going to tell us who took her. This is how we're going to hear her story!"
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