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Scorched Grounds by Debbie Herbert Read Online (FREE)

Scorched Grounds (Normal, Alabama, #2) by Debbie Herbert

Read Scorched Grounds (Normal, Alabama, #2) by Debbie Herbert full novel online for free here.

Prologue

 

Niggles of noise pierce through the fuzzy haze of sleep. I burrow into my Hello Kitty comforter, making a nest of warmth, a baby bird seeking safe shelter. But the noise grows louder. I recognize the distinctive edge of words, and the sound becomes familiar.

Mom’s shouting voice. She and Dad must be back at it.

I wiggle deeper into the pink cheer of cartoon kitty cats. Maybe they’ll stop soon. I’ll fall asleep, and when I wake up in the morning, it will all be over. Dad will be at work, and Mom will smile and point to breakfast on the table—bacon and grits and orange juice. Then it’s off to Normal Elementary School. Just another day, same as before.

Jimmy’s door creaks open across the hall. Bad move. My brother, only four years old, pads his way across the upstairs landing. I know what he’ll do, what he always does: jump between them and beg them to stop. As if that ever did any good. All it will land him is a sharp thump on the rear from Dad.

Should I try to stop Jimmy? That usually doesn’t work, although sometimes he’ll crawl in bed with me and go back to sleep. I lie there for a second, considering. It’ll be really cold if I get out of bed. Jimmy might not mind me. Then Dad will get all red in the face at both of us when he spots us on the stairs. I think of his belt.

Reluctantly, I throw back the comforter. I’d rather get whooped with Jimmy than lie in bed and do nothing. I’m not a great sister, but I’m the oldest, and certain things are expected. I hurry to my bedroom door. The moment of hesitation has cost me. Jimmy has already made it to the bottom of the stairs. A great wail resounds through our house.

“Moooommy!” he screams.

There’s something about that scream. It chills me all the way inside, so deep my tummy hurts. Something is really, really, really bad. My mouth dries, and I can’t move, can’t make myself walk down the seven steps and see whatever Jimmy sees.

Another scream—but this time, it’s Mom. Moaning rumbles through my chest, and I stand rooted. I press my fingers in my ears, but I can’t completely block the screams.

The police! The answer flashes in my brain like lightning. Dad will be super mad, but I have to stop this. I race to Mom and Dad’s bedroom and dial 911 on the phone by their bed, just like I’ve been taught in school. I tell them to come. To hurry. I give them the address, my name, my parents’ and brother’s names.

The screaming stops. It’s over! The nice lady on the phone asks if I want to talk to her until the police come. I want to so badly. But if Dad comes up here and finds me on the phone . . . “No,” I tell her, hanging up. I’ll jump back in bed and get under the covers. I leave their bedroom, then pause at the top of the stairs. Listening. Waiting.