If you’ve been following the This Dread Road posts, you’ll be excited about today’s offering!
Today you can meet Claire. She’s a little bit rich, a little bit spoiled, and a little bit damaged. But you never have to wonder with her. She’ll tell you exactly what she thinks. Meet Claire now!
This Dread Road: Excerpt
Claire’s bedroom looked so strange emptied of all her possessions, like a body whose soul had already departed, leaving it one last paltry breath. The closet, once overflowing with haute couture, now held only a few ragged Oxford shirts, two pairs of acid wash jeans, a Howard Knox hoodie, and an ill—fitting secondhand blazer with a hole in the right armpit. Her side table was empty, everything swept hastily into a plastic bag and then shoved into one of the suitcases now piled high in the living room. Every piece that had given the room the right dash of sophistication—the artwork, the Oriental rug, the chenille damask bedspread, the Egyptian cotton sateen sheets, the wingtip chair in the corner—had all been packed into a moving truck and were on their way to a self—storage unit.
A flimsy floor lamp in the corner illuminated everything left behind. The bed. A few trash bags lined up like prisoners against the walls, stuffed with the cast—offs of two lives breaking apart. The alarm clock on the other side table ticked out a steady rhythm.
Claire forced herself to sit on the bed with her feet tucked beneath her. Keeping them near the floor was too much of a temptation. As much as she wanted to bolt now, while she still felt brave enough, she felt obligated to wait until Trevor arrived home from work. After all the times before this, the times she’d only pretended to leave so she could get what she wanted, she needed him to understand that this time, there was no need for him to chase her.
A shiver ran through her, probably the ghost she was convinced lived in the corner of their—no, his—bedroom, the place where light never seemed to reach the wall. Sliding her arms out of her sleeves, Claire hugged herself and grimaced when her hands brushed against her prominent ribs. They didn’t show through her clothing, thanks to her careful layers, but her bones could not lie to each other. She felt herself buckle and recede like a washboard and swallowed back her rising disgust.
This was why she needed to get away. If she stayed here, in this sad, drafty apartment, this disintegration would continue until she completely vanished. Trevor could blame it on the antidepressants she popped like chewing gum these days, or the fact that she’d been subsisting on espresso and tequila in the four months they’d lived in Baltimore, but she knew the real culprit was her fiancé himself. It wasn’t his fault, but it kind of was.
If Hattie could see her now, she would be appalled by how much Claire had let herself go. Claire could imagine her best friend now, delivering a stern lecture while forcing her to eat various tasty manifestations of carbohydrates and fat. She smiled. As much as she’d always resisted Hattie’s attempts to fatten her up, she had to admit she would welcome a change in diet. Her mouth watered at the thought of Hattie’s divine eight hundred calorie mac and cheese.
Her stomach rumbled, the muscles contorting in an odd dance beneath her arms. Claire glanced at the clock again. Trevor wouldn’t leave the school for at least two hours more, and the walk home took fifteen minutes in the best of circumstances. She might as well get something to eat while she waited.
She didn’t bother checking the pantry. All that was there was an expired jar of peanut butter and a mostly empty box of breakfast cereal. She’d been putting off grocery shopping for the last two weeks, preferring to order in on the days Trevor was working. She picked up the phone and dialed the Chinese place around the block. The person who answered recognized her number and asked if she wanted her regular—General Tso’s chicken, brown rice, and egg drop soup, just the broth. She said yes, hung up, and sank onto the couch.
Assuming lotus pose¾the only thing she remembered from the yoga class the Howard Knox registrar’s office had forced her to take ¾Claire tried to clear her mind of everything and simply exist for a minute, even a few seconds. Instead, her thoughts raced even faster, flitting from one happy memory of Trevor to the next. It didn’t seem to matter that they were all out of context, that in reality each moment of bliss she had experienced with him was framed with weeks, if not months, of sadness. Her mind only wanted to focus on their shared joy.
But maybe this was a good thing, speeding through all the false contentment like this. Perhaps it would work all the sympathy out of her system. Perhaps if she played along, she would actually leave this time; she would find the strength to tell him she didn’t love him anymore, and mean it.
If that intrigued you, check out her story in This Dread Road, Book 3 in the standalone Bennett Series. Other related articles: