Title: Flower Girl
Author: Merida Johns
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Family Life Fiction, Women’s Domestic Life Fiction, Psychological Fiction
Everyone wants to believe they can hold on to their anchor, the light of their North Star, and live their truth . . . Suzanna Jordan did too until she fell for a man with a movie-star presence and a dark alter ego. Losing hope of salvaging her life and gaining her freedom, an unlikely source serves up a platter of just desserts that even Suzanna’s treacherous abuser might not evade.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 13, 1984
It’s five o’clock in the morning. A waterfall of worries washes over me, but one remains, one I cannot ignore, one that means my life or death—do I have the courage to stop this nightmare?
I hear muffled voices and hasty footsteps fading away in the distance. My crisis, already old news to them, cataloged on a forgotten document. They have abandoned me and left me alone with my fear.
Rolling to my side, my legs dangle off the bed, and gravity pulls my five-foot-five, slender body toward the floor. My feet rebel. They scream and cramp in pain as they hit the cold cement. My insides shake, and my body wobbles. My eyes blur, and my hands reach out to find the bed. I steady myself and count under my breath, “One, two, three . . .” The agonizing muscle spasms in my feet start to unwind.
My world plays in slow motion. My eyes drift across the brackish-beige walls, swamp-green curtain, stainless steel instruments, and electronic gadgets—my stomach knots, my heart falls, my mouth goes dry. Helplessness hits me like an animal in a snare.
I spot my possessions, swathed in clear plastic, in the chair’s seat in the corner of the room. I hobble over and open the bag and poke through it—a Victoria’s Secret midnight-blue lace bra, an OSU red T-shirt, a pair of Gloria Vanderbilt denim pants, a Coach purse, and white Reeboks. I loosen the ties of the rumpled steel-gray gown; it slips off and falls to the floor. Dressing in fancy lingerie is absurd, so I toss it on the chair and throw on the shirt and jeans.
I look down at my sneakers and stop. In my mind, I see my husband’s squinting eyes and hear his haunting disapproval. Quit wiggling your feet over the counters of your damn shoes, Suzanna. You’ll ruin them! I shake my head, clench my jaw, and disobey.
I have no strength to bend over and tie the shoelaces. Jonathan would have a nasty comment about this, too. I ignore him. My eyes close in victory. “Cherish every step. Each is a grand slam toward deliverance.”
My fingers run through my disheveled hair, soaked with sweat—my muscles loosen, my brain fog lifts, and the ache behind my forehead fades.
I pull back the curtain circling the bed and grimace—the overhead lights jar me. I pump myself up—One, two, three, go. I take off.
I shuffle through the corridor between the beds bordering the room and reach the doorway to the waiting area. If people are here, I do not notice them. My eyes fix on the escape at the end of the room—the pulsating red exit sign. The floor-to-ceiling doors open, allowing my aching body to limp toward daybreak. The heavy morning breeze hits my face, and the sickening, sterile scent covering me blows away. I clutch my heart and silently sob, Thank God I’m alive.
But the joy vaporizes into the humid air. The war has only begun. Clutching for courage, I console myself. You’ve gotten this far. You can make it! You can live your truth.
I look up above the horizon, and I see it! There’s my North Star, its five points shimmering in the dawn and guiding me toward my purpose—But before I can help others be their best, I must help myself be my best.
Outside the sterile walls of a hospital emergency room, I hold my own. I put a stake in the ground. I swear that the fight to flee my abuser’s snare, save my life, and follow the guidance of my North Star is worth it.
About the Author:
Merida Johns writes about the human experience—that often is messy—and how ordinary people tackle challenges, live through sorrow and betrayal, struggle with doubt, but despite this, gather the strength to act on their aspirations and achieve flourishing lives.
“My insight into the power of fiction came during a conference call in late 2017 with a group of fellow life coaches when I asked, ‘What would it be like to help people achieve a flourishing life through storytelling instead of another self-help book?’
After that phone call, I got started answering that question. Almost three years later, the result was my debut novel Blackhorse Road, a heartfelt story of womanhood and the power of choice, gratitude, and forgiveness that was published July 21, 2020, by Coffee Cup Press. Now, I’m thrilled about the upcoming release Flower Girl—a story of a woman who must make sweeping changes in her life to live her truth.
Before writing fiction, I was a professor and author of health informatics and leadership textbooks. Later, I put my experience to use as a leadership coach, focusing on helping women break the glass ceiling and fulfill their leadership and economic potential.
My husband and I reside in the beautiful Midwest countryside. This is where I find the serenity and space for bringing to life the stories about everyday people who face and overcome extraordinary challenges by finding and following their North Star.
Merida Johns will be awarding a $30 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
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