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Title: SECRETS I KEEP
Genre: NA Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 60,000
The tumbler turns in the lock. I hold my breath.
If it weren’t for Sophie and Mom, I’d run.
My ears strain for signs that someone’s awake. In the living room, the muted television’s flickering light illuminates the figure sprawled on the sofa.
My pent up breath escapes. It’s just Mom, not him. I spread the quilt over her and turn off the TV.
Down the hall, I push open Sophie’s door and stumble over toys to her bed.
She rubs her eyes. “Mom took those pills for her somnia. Is she asleep?”
My heart cringes. It does every time Sophie asks about Mom. “It’s insomnia, Soph. Yes, she’s sleeping. Seven-year-olds should be too, kiddo.”
A door slams. Every muscle in my body grips the nearest bone. Sophie inhales like she’s going to speak, but I cover her mouth. We wait, eyes wide, watching for movement or shadows in the crack of light around the door.
Sophie’s jaw clenches under my palm. A banging in the kitchen is followed by shattering glass and slamming cabinet doors, then cursing.
Minutes inch by on their hands and knees. Footsteps come, and then retreat. I count to ten and whisper, “Was he gone all evening?”
Relief floods my veins. Maybe he’ll go straight to bed and leave us alone.
I climb in next to Sophie, brushing the hair off her forehead. Once again, I stay the night in Sophie’s room to guard against the last person she should need protection from— our father.