Story Excerpt
The Right Time For Us

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Robby Fletcher waited until he heard the front door slam close and then a vehicle start up and peel away before he moved. And then he didn't move far. He pulled himself over to the wall and leaned back against it.

He took a couple of minutes to just breathe before cataloging his injuries, and there seemed to be a few more of them this time around. He glanced down at his arm. It was swollen, turning purple at a rapid rate. He suspected it was broken. It wouldn't be the first bone he had broken.

The rest of his injuries were bruises and abrasion, and a few nasty cuts on his side made with a knife. Barry always did like to play with sharp blades. Robby just wished the man didn't like to play with them on him. It was as if though guy was trying to mark him or something.

Pressing his good hand against the wall, Robby slowly climbed to his feet. He grit his teeth to keep from crying out when burning hot pain ripped through him. Every movement pulled on his abused muscles. Moving was pure agony.

He stumbled to his dresser and pulled out some clean clothes. Robby had no idea how long it took him to get dressed—he had to keep stopping when the pain became too much—but it felt like forever. By the time he slipped his tennis shoes on and laced them up, he felt as if he was on the verge of collapsing.

He couldn't, and he knew he couldn't. Billy and his buddies had most likely gone off to get drunk, but they would be back. Robby couldn't be here when they returned. He'd never survive another round with Billy's buddies.

Robby needed to get his backpack out of the closet. It had everything he would need in it. A wad of cash, some protein bars, bottled water, a change of clothes, pictures of his mother, and her cookbook. There wasn't much else he had that was worth taking. Anything of value, Billy had stolen ages ago.

He'd had a bag packed and ready to go since he helped his brother Moose escape. He had known then that he would eventually have to leave. He just needed to get the courage to do it. Robby wasn't sure he had the courage now. It was more desperation that was making him run for his life.

Robby grabbed his backpack with his good hand and swung it up over his shoulder. He was too afraid to loop his other arm through the strap. He kept his arm pressed lightly against his stomach instead.

Robby cast one more look around his room, knowing he was never coming back. He had packed anything that held any importance to him, which wasn't much. Whatever he had of value, Billy had taken and sold.

Robby had suspected for quite some time that his oldest brother was doing drugs. It was nothing he could prove, but the man was just a little too psychotic, sometimes more than others. He wasn't always like that.

Robby's heart ached for the brother he used to have, the one that taught him to ride a bike and took him to the park. That had all ended when their mother died. It was almost as if a switch had been flipped in Billy's head and he went insane.

Their father wasn't much better. He just wasn't quite as psychotic as Billy was. He was still violent and a roaring drunk, but Billy took things to a whole nether level. Billy enjoyed inflicting pain. Their father did it only to get what he wanted.

Not seeing anything else that he wanted to take with him, Robby let himself out of his room, locking the door behind him. It was stupid because Billy and his buddies would just kick it in, but he always locked it so now shouldn't be any different. If they thought he was hiding out in his room when they came back, that might give him a little extra time to get away.

Robby had no idea what made him stop outside Moose's bedroom door, but something did. A strong knot in his stomach maybe? He wasn't sure if he was grateful or not when he opened the door and saw the bloody and beaten woman lying on the mattress in the corner.

Robby dropped his backpack to the floor and raced across the room, dropping down to his knees next to the battered woman. He didn't know where to touch her. Every inch seemed to be bruised or bleeding.

"Lady?" Robby swallowed tightly as he reached down and lifted the dark hair covering the woman's face. "Holy shit! Carla!"

What in the hell was she doing here? The last he heard, she was headed to a dance school back east.

"Carla, honey, can you hear me?" Robby glanced around, looking for anything to wipe the blood off her face. When he couldn't find anything, he got up and ran to the kitchen. Robby grabbed a clean, wet rag and a bottle of water before racing back to Moose's room.

After gently wiping as much of the blood off Carla's face as he could, he unscrewed the top off the water bottle and then held it up to her lips. Most of it ran down her cheeks into her hairline, but at least it seemed to rouse her. She started to groan and move.

"Carla, it's Robby. Can you hear me?"

"R-Robby?" Brown eyes blinked up at him from between swollen eyelids.

"Yeah, it's me."

"Wh-What happened?"

"Someone beat you up, Carla." Hell, it looked as if they almost killed her. "You're at my house, in Moose's room."

"Moose!" Carla gasped as she clutched at Robby. "You have to warn Moose."

"Warn Moose?" What in the hell was she talking about? What did Moose have to do with this? "What about Moose?"

"Billy knows about the baby. He's going to try to hurt Moose by hurting our son."

Our son?

Oh boy.

"Carla, where is Moose? Do you know where he is?" Robby couldn't warn the man if he didn't know where he was.

"C-Cade C-C-Creek."