Home > Damaged! (The Walker Brothers #3)

Damaged! (The Walker Brothers #3)
Author: J. S. Scott

PROLOGUE

   Dane

   EIGHT YEARS AGO…

   There was nothing I wanted more than to just be left alone.

   I listened to the rain hitting the roof of the small shack that was the only existing structure on my new private island. As soon as I’d been discharged from the hospital, and saw the reactions to my altered appearance, all I needed was just to get away from the horrified glances I’d gotten every time I stepped out my door.

   I looked like a monster.

   I felt like a monster.

   So, I was a monster, at least to myself.

   My two brothers even had a hard time handling my appearance now. Neither of them said what they were thinking, but I could feel the awkwardness between the three of us. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why.

   Hell, I was only eighteen years old, and my entire life had just gone up in smoke.

   Literally.

   I couldn’t remember much of the plane crash that had killed my dad and his new wife, but I was feeling the effects of it now. My whole damn body ached from the newly healed burns and other injuries I’d sustained from the accident.

   My brothers, Trace and Sebastian, kept telling me I was lucky to be alive. I didn’t feel like I’d been somehow blessed to survive the horrific plane crash. There had been times in the last several months when I wished I’d just died with my father. Recovery had been touch and go, and the pain had been so bad that I wasn’t sure I’d live through it, even with medications.

   “I can live alone,” I mumbled to myself. I sat up in the small bed, and was met with nothing but darkness.

   It seemed strange to be completely solo. I’d spent my life surrounded by family and friends. To be suddenly stuck on a private island with not another soul around was both a relief and painful at the same time.

   I flopped back onto my pillow, trying to tell myself that I’d fix up the island, make it my own. It wouldn’t be so bad after I was able to get a real residence here.

   The first thing I was going to do was build a decent house so I could sleep in a comfortable damn bed.

   My brothers knew very little about what I was up to, and I didn’t feel the need to inform them that the island…well…it needed some work.

   A house.

   Indoor plumbing.

   An airport.

   Roads.

   Some kind of studio so I could continue to work on my art.

   I was disappointed that I’d never be able to attend a university or college. I looked so damn bad that I couldn’t inflict my appearance on anyone right now. Before the accident, I’d been accepted to one of the best art programs in the world. I couldn’t do it now. There was no way I could handle the piteous expressions of the other students on campus every time I tried to walk from class to class.

   Maybe someday, my face wouldn’t look so mangled, and my body would regain its strength. But right now, I was broken, and I knew it.

   Mind.

   Body.

   And soul.

   At this point, I wasn’t quite sure which was suffering the most. All of the pain seemed rolled in together until I was just one big mass of agony.

   I’d purchased the expensive island in the Bahamas as a place to recuperate and try to get my head back together. There would be more surgeries to try to fix some of the cosmetic issues, but in the meantime, I’d have a place to escape from other people.

   Yeah, I’m running away.

   Maybe I was also trying to outrun myself. I wasn’t sure. My head was all fucked up.

   I’ll be okay. I just need some time.

   Unfortunately, I’d found out just how many real friends I had after the accident. The only ones who had genuinely been there for me were my brothers. When the expensive parties stopped, and I needed my buddies, there was nobody who was interested in babysitting an invalid who barely had enough strength to walk across a room.

   “I’m pathetic,” I grumbled, wishing that I hadn’t needed to leave Sebastian and Trace. I missed them, but they were both involved in their own lives, and I could tell they just wanted to put all this behind them. Unfortunately, the accident wasn’t over for me. In fact, I felt like my hell was just beginning.

   Yeah, I’d told my brothers that I’d be fine.

   Problem was, I actually wasn’t fine.

   I absolutely wasn’t doing well at all.

   However, I was healed, even though the end result of the accident wasn’t pretty.

   I’d wanted my brothers to go on with their lives. They’d spent months worrying about me, dealing with grief over my dad’s death, and it was time for them to concentrate on rebuilding their lives without our father. Trace was busy trying to run our father’s multi-billion-dollar corporation, and Sebastian was going back to his engineering studies.

   And me? I was going to hide out on my new island for a while to figure out how to handle my life now that it wasn’t as charmed as it used to be. I was still licking my wounds. Well, not literally, but figuratively. I was behind my brothers on mourning my dad since I’d had a month or two when I hadn’t known the whole truth. And then, I’d been so sick that I couldn’t deal with it.

   I guess I’d never really known how good I had it until everything fell apart.

   “Suck it up, Walker,” I said morosely into the dark room.

   I turned onto my side, cursing at the lumpy mattress I was resting on.

   Tomorrow, my first priority would be to get a comfortable bed delivered to the island so I could get a decent night’s sleep.

   The wind started to howl, and I hoped to hell I wasn’t in for a nasty tropical storm. I hadn’t checked the weather, and I was in a hurricane zone.

   It was only my second day on the island, and I was already tired of the quiet and the isolation.

   Be careful what you wish for, dumbass!

   Earlier in the day, I’d wanted noise.

   Unfortunately, I was getting exactly what I’d asked for, but not at all in the way I’d hoped it would happen.

   I felt so damn lonely. The sudden isolation on the island was pretty extreme.

   I wasn’t used to being completely without somebody to talk to about my problems. My mom had died years ago, but my dad had always been there for me when I was growing up. I’d never missed having a mother because he’d been such a great father. If I had problems, he’d immediately want to discuss them and help me solve them.

   Jesus! I wanted him back so damn bad that it physically hurt, my chest aching so badly that I almost couldn’t stand it. Maybe I couldn’t remember the crash, but I still mourned the loss of my father, the only parent I’d ever known.

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