Atone

Atone by Beth Yarnall Read Free Book Online

Book: Atone by Beth Yarnall Read Free Book Online
Authors: Beth Yarnall
both.
    “What did you find?” My voice comes out croaky.
    He doesn’t move for a moment and then his fingers fly over the keyboard again. He brings up a Tumblr account with the user name VacantSorrow. The profile picture is a black-and-white drawing of a teenage girl with hair hanging in her face, obscuring all of her features except her bright orange lips. I know that image. Marie drew it. I saw it posted on one of her other social media accounts.
    Beau points to it. “I did image searches of all the photos she had on her various accounts. This is the only one that hit. She posts to it fairly regularly. The last time was this morning. You should probably start reading from the first post.”
    He scrolls through the recent posts until he gets to the first entry, then scoots his chair over so I can work the mouse.
    The first post is dated almost two months ago. She talks about a man she met at the mall. He stopped her and told her she was beautiful and that she should be a model. He doesn’t pay any attention to her friend, who she thinks is prettier than her. She’s known him for a month and opened this account so she could write about him. She talks about how kind he is to her and about how she can tell him anything.
    This is how it all started for me.
    I move through the entries. Some are about school and how boring it is. Some are about the group home she’s in and the crush she used to have on one of the boys until she met her dream man. She calls this man Daddy and laughs at the irony of the nickname and how much he likes it when she calls him that. She talks about what a gentleman he is and how he makes her feel special. Special. Beautiful. Smart. These are all the things he makes her feel over and over and over. He feeds it to her like a drug and she’s becoming addicted. She’s never met anyone like him. No one’s ever made her feel the way he makes her feel.
    I called him Mr. Everything. He was
my
everything. Everything I ever wanted but never got, everything I wanted to hear but never heard, everything I wanted to feel but never felt. He was
my
heroin, and I mainlined as much of him as I could as fast as I could. I force myself to keep reading past the memories that cloud the screen in front of me, blurring Marie’s words, which could be mine.
    She actually does a photo shoot and he promises to talk to his agent friend about her. The pictures come out great, but Marie worries that her chest is too flat and that she still has too much baby fat under her chin and on her belly. He tells her she’s perfect and then takes her to a doctor for a breast augmentation consultation. During the appointment he sits in the exam room with her to make sure she’s comfortable with the doctor. She was nervous about taking her top off, but Daddy tells her how pretty and sexy she is and how she doesn’t really need the boob job, but he’ll get it for her if that’s what she wants.
    He fondles her breasts when the doctor leaves. His touch is brief and clinical. She doesn’t feel like she did when her foster father touched her. He talks her out of the implants and tells her he loves her small breasts. To prove it, he starts touching them…a lot. But he doesn’t go any further. Daddy calls her his good girl. He tells her he loves her. She likes his kisses and how out of control he makes her feel.
    I thought he loved me too.
    Theirs is a special relationship. He shares things with her that he doesn’t share with anyone else. He keeps her secrets. He’s the only person she can trust. She can call him anytime, day or night. She tests this several times. He didn’t lie, and they talk until she falls asleep. Sometimes he sings to her. She stops going to school to spend more time with him. Her friends complain, but they don’t understand. He’s her soulmate, her one true love. She talks a lot about love.
    I thought I’d die without him.
    He wants her first time to be with someone she loves and laments the fact that she

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