Her worst nightmare thrusts her into a future she never could have imagined.
While trying to escape her abusive foster home, 17-year-old Aria Bennett ends up in the hospital where she is visited by an uncle she didn’t know existed. Eager to meet the rest of her family, she moves with him to a small town in the Texas Hill Country where not everything is as it seems.
After glimpses of weird sightings, she’s almost convinced she has brain damage from the accident. And, the six undeniably gorgeous guys that immediately include her in their group seem to know more about her than she does.
Just when she’s getting comfortable with her new environment, she becomes the target of someone’s hatred. Will Aria be able to survive the threats and reach her promised potential?
The Promised is a young/new adult contemporary fantasy reverse harem where Aria doesn’t have to choose between her love interests. This is a slow-burn polyamorous series. Because why choose?
Also In This Series...
Publisher: Killer Ink Press
Copyright: © 2022
Cover Artists: Artscandare Book Cover Design (Website)
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Reverse Harem, Young Adult
Tags: Contemporary Fantasy, Reverse Harem, romance, young adult, Zoe McKay
Everything inside me screamed for escape.
“Aria! Get back here!” The deep baritone of my foster father’s voice boomed across the yard.
My breaths came in ragged gulps from fear as I pushed myself across the lawn toward the street. The fresh bruises on my legs throbbed as if he still had his hands there.
I kept running, but turned my head to make certain he hadn’t come after me. Fury clouded his face, his hand gripping the doorframe. When his mouth opened and the anger in his expression changed to shock, I turned back just in time to see the grill of a car hurtling toward me.
Brakes squealed, but made no difference. It had been too close. The bone in my leg snapped, agony tearing through me from the impact before everything went black.
A steady beeping made its way into my consciousness. I blinked, but just that second of light shot straight through to my brain and excruciating pain crashed through my skull and I went under again.
Voices brushed across my awareness but did nothing to rouse from the darkness.
“She should be waking soon,” a deep voice loomed over me, a hand on my wrist.
The voice scared me and I wanted to pull away, but fogginess still clouded my mind and I couldn’t move.
The man continued, “I wanted to show you these bruises. They’re not from the vehicle hitting her.”
My right arm lifted and turned, a thumb moved over the inside of my upper arm.
“Fingerprints,” a softer female voice stated.
“Yes, and they’re not the only ones.”
The sound of a couple of clicks filtered through the fog.
The sheet slid down from my waist, baring my upper legs. One leg was twisted gently, and a finger prodded two places on my inner thigh. “These handprints overlap.”
I wanted desperately to pull my leg back and cover myself as a chill washed over me, but I still couldn’t force my body to comply. I heard a low moan.
My leg was moved back to its original position and the sheet covered me again.
“Are there any other bruises not from the accident?”
“There’s a matching set on her other leg covered by the cast. I’ll check the files to see if pictures were taken.” The man sighed. “She’s also malnourished.”
“She looks like she’s lost weight in the past two weeks since I saw her.” The woman’s voice cracked on the last word. She cleared her throat. “What about her leg?”
“Broken in two places. The surgery went well, so once it’s had time to heal, she shouldn’t have any problems. At this point, I’m more worried about psychological damage.”
A finger pressed against my right eyelid, pushing it gently upward. A bright light shined directly into my head, and I finally shifted. I jerked my head and closed my eyes again. This time there was a loud groan, and I realized it was me.
“Aria?” The woman’s voice was soft and gentle.
I tried opening my eyes, blinking them slowly. Before I could focus, my stomach rolled and nausea swept over me. “Sick…”
I tried sitting up, but couldn’t manage it. An arm went behind my back and pushed me forward. A plastic basin appeared in front of me just as I vomited.
When I finished, a small cup pressed against my lips.
“Just rinse your mouth out. Don’t swallow, yet.”
After I took a sip of the water and spit it into the basin, a wet cloth wiped my face. Then the arm behind me lowered me back to the bed. Before I could surrender once again to sleep though, the top portion of the bed began to rise. My left leg felt heavy and didn’t move. Someone adjusted a pillow behind my head.
“Is she okay?” The woman asked from the other side of the bed.
“She will be.” The man gently lifted my face. “Aria. You’re in the hospital. I’m Doctor Randolph. Do you understand?”
I nodded and pain shot through me. I croaked out, “Yes.”
I tried to see through my blurry vision, but only saw shapes.
“Here.” A cold spoon was placed at my lips and I opened them. Small pieces of ice slipped onto my tongue.
“Your leg was broken, and you had surgery for it. You also have a concussion. You’ll have nausea for a while because of the head injury and from the anesthesia. But I’ve already ordered medication to help with that.”
My eyes were beginning to adjust, and I saw the doctor more clearly. He looked kind. Black-rimmed glasses framed his caramel-colored eyes. His neatly trimmed brown hair was slightly askew, as if he’d run his hand through it a few times. A stethoscope hung around his neck.
The door opened.
“Ah… here it is now.” He moved aside and a nurse in bright print scrubs took his place.
“Hi, hon.” She held a device in her hand. “Can you tell me your name and date of birth?”
“Aria Bennett.” I rattled off my birthdate.
She entered information into her handheld device and then fussed with the IV.
“One of these is for nausea and the other for pain.” The doctor spoke up and my gaze found his again.
“Okay.” My voice came out whisper soft.
The nurse picked up the plastic basin and headed to the bathroom. Flushing sounded a few moments later.
“Aria?” a voice to my left said.
I turned to find my caseworker standing next to the bed. Tears filled her eyes before she blinked them away. Her professional demeanor took over.
“I’m so sorry this happened to you. Do you feel up to talking about it?” Cassie Reynolds took my hand in hers.
What happened? At first, I couldn’t remember, but then flashes came to me. My foster father... that asshole! Fear welled up inside me. My teeth chattered and my whole body shook. My arms crossed over my chest, hugging tightly. “H… he… “I couldn’t speak because of the tremors racking through me. Silent tears fell down my face.
I heard voices, and the nurse left the room. Bed coverings were pulled around my shoulders. A few moments later, the nurse reappeared with two warm blankets, placing them on me, and tucking them around my body.
The shaking of my body caused my left leg to jerk and pain, unlike anything I’d ever known, hit me hard. I gasped, barely preventing a scream from ripping from my throat.
Cassie grabbed me in a hug and pulled me tight to her chest, stroking my hair. She kept whispering words I couldn't make out, but thought they were supposed to be comforting. The doctor steadied my leg, holding it still until the tremors subsided.
Once my body no longer shook, Cassie pulled back and grabbed a tissue to wipe the tears from my face.
“Oh, sweetie, it’s going to be okay.” She took my hand and squeezed. Her light blue eyes had a sadness to them, as if she’d seen too much in her short life. She couldn’t be more than twenty-four or five and had insisted from the beginning that I call her by her first name. She had her thick blonde hair in a messy bun and wore jeans and a black tee with the long sleeves pushed up to just below her elbows.
“What day is it?” I asked.
I’d run out of the house the day before.
A knock on the door had us all turning towards it. A woman’s head appeared around the door.
“I’m Detective Stinson with the Milwaukee Sensitive Crimes Division. Is it okay if my partner and I come in?”
Cassie’s back straightened. “I don’t think it’s a good time.”
The doctor looked at me. “It’s up to you, Aria. Do you feel up to giving them a statement?”
I really didn’t want to think about it, much less talk about it. But I knew if I didn’t do it now, I’d have to do it later. Best to get it over with so I could just move on. I thought I was getting good at that.
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