The new Sydney Rye Kindle World launches on Thursday, March 17. As an extended St. Paddy’s Day present from me to you, valued readers, Written Words presents excerpts from each of the seven novellas in the project. Today’s installment is from Nemesis, which brings Sydney and Blue into a very dark setting.
What’s in a name? An identity? Most of us don’t get to choose ours. Names are given at birth. Identity is thrust upon us around the same time. Before even. Male/Female, Caucasian/Person of Color. Rich/poor. There’s so much in this life we don’t get to choose for ourselves. Our pool of possible life experiences is already pre-determined for us through fate. Chance. Through the people we encounter’s own prejudices. The shitty hand they’re dealt at birth impacts us, whether we like it or not.
Take the fuckers who raped me when I was sixteen. Mind you there wasn’t much talking going on while they took their turns on me and my cousin Penny for three days, but from their limited vocabulary, obvious affiliation with the meth world, and lack of care for their fellow human beings—which had to be learned somewhere—I could tell they hadn’t been given the best start in life. Unfortunately for our sakes, they continued that streak into their forties when they entered our worlds. Foster care, druggie mother, no father, poverty stricken, in and out of prison, they never stood a chance.
Neither did we.
Two sheltered teenage girls from the suburbs of Independence where the worst thing that can happen in our little bubble is a divorce or illness in our loving family. Even Uncle Charlie, a Vice detective in Independence, the nation’s capital, never brought his work or stories of depravity home to our peaceful oasis. It wasn’t like we lived in the Big Bad City of Independence where supervillains destroyed whole buildings, set off bombs, or shot up the streets during bank robberies. Evil was there. Them. The freaks in the costumes with super-strength and acid for blood we watched on the news. It didn’t come up behind you after soccer practice with your head full of Casey Peters, hold a gun to your back as his friend held one to your cousin’s head, and force you both into its BO and meth smelling Cadillac. Evil didn’t happen to upper middle class, Caucasian, pretty Stephanie Dawson. Until it did.
Then it killed her.
It was day three. Day three of being tied to a bed, raped, pissed on, beaten, burnt with cigarettes, and carved with knives. I was weak from blood loss, from dehydration, from fear and agony. But the worst, the very worst, was hearing my fourteen-year-old cousin sobbing in the next room as one of them assaulted her. Those were the moments I closed my eyes and prayed for death. Truly prayed to God for death. He didn’t answer. When does he? But something did. Something infused me with white hot rage, filling my every cell. Replacing my very essence, my very soul with righteous purpose. They would not get away with this. They would not get to break me. Every pain, every fear, every horror they bestowed upon us would come back to them threefold.
They did not get to win.
I broke my own thumbs to escape the handcuffs. I barely noticed the pain. I didn’t even put clothes on. The other two would be back from the drug run at any minute. I walked naked, bleeding, through that filthy house, grabbed the first blunt object I could find, a piece of the broken coffee table, and as one of the pigs pumped away on my baby cousin, oblivious to all but his own selfish satisfaction, I clubbed him from behind. Once. Twice. Three times until he lay beside what remained of Penny, unconscious. Four. Five. I would have kept going forever, until he was obliterated, but Penny began screaming around hit five. She looked up at me as if she didn’t recognize me. As if I were the monster. I didn’t care. I just kept whacking until I saw brain.
Every one of those new cells of mine wanted me to stay. Wait for the other two and gut them like fish. But Stephanie Dawson’s last act was to cut through my bloodlust and tell me to get us the hell out of there. So I untied my cousin and all but carried her out of that house. I should have stayed. By the time the police arrived, the men were gone. Worse, the rescue was in vain. Penny wasn’t home two hours from the hospital when my Uncle Charlie found her hanging in the garage.
I truly buried Stephanie Dawson the day we buried Penny. We buried my Uncle Charlie too. The detective who couldn’t even protect his own daughter. Our eyes met across her grave, finding their match. Cruel. Hard. Dead all but physically. The same eyes the three pigs had when they carved “Whore” into my chest. Sometimes the only way to fight the monsters is to become one. And that was the moment. The moment the last vestiges of Stephanie Dawson burnt to ashes and the goddess of righteous retribution, Nemesis, was reborn.
“Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
I am that water.
I am the flood that follows.
Even as I drown myself.
What’s Nemesis all about?
Sex traffickers, serial killers, and superheroes…welcome to the world of Galilee Falls, Sydney Rye!
Sydney Rye thought she’d wiped out the Cartel responsible for killing her friend Malina, but that was only the beginning. She finds herself in a new city, a city with one of the highest concentrations of superheroes in the world, with a new partner to finish the job and avenge her friend.
Nemesis knows a lot about vengeance. The self-proclaimed goddess of retribution has spent the past four years terrorizing the rapists and abusers of her city into submission. But the life of a vigilante is a lonely one. When the Joyful Justice Network asks her to aid Sydney Rye in breaking up a sex trafficking ring, she leaps at the chance to work with the legend. But Sydney isn’t there to make friends. Can the women put aside their differences to wipe the villains off the map once and for all? Maybe with a little help from a White Knight…
About the author
Jennifer Harlow earned a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Virginia. She has been a bookseller, radio DJ, lab assistant, and government investigator. She lives in Atlanta and is hard at work on her next book.
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What are Kindle Worlds?
Kindle Worlds is an Amazon initiative that allows authors to publish stories set in another author’s fictional universe. The Sydney Rye Kindle World is based on the characters and situations created by bestselling author Emily Kimelman.
The Sydney Rye series of vigilante mysteries feature a strong female lead and her rescue dog, Blue. It is recommended for the 18+ who enjoy some violence, a dash of sex and don’t mind a little salty language. Not to mention an awesome, rollicking good mystery with tons of action that will keep you reading late into the night!