Monday, September 30, 2013

Hearts of Gold Preview


Profound innocence.  Can it be accurately defined?
It is the soft look on a baby's face as they really notice you for the first time.  The second their beautiful eyes open and gaze lovingly into your own while their tiny fingers grip your hand.  The feel of your heart as it leaps happily in your chest, overcome with a clarity, a joy unmatched by any other.  You could swear you see clearly into the depths of their precious soul.  The moments you fall in love with them over and over again.
It is the need for a puppy to curl up at your feet only to bounce up and follow you wherever you may go.  The writhing of their body as you bend down to cradle them in your arms.  The smell of their breath as they nestle their furry face next to yours.
It is the look of complete and utter trust as your toddler puts their faith in you to love them, teach them and keep them out of harm's way.  Or the feel of their tiny arms wrapped around you as they lay their heads down to sleep at night. The gentle sound of their voice as they whisper they love you.
It is the exhilarated tail wag as your senior dog awaits your arrival.  The unbridled enthusiasm as you greet them at the door.
Innocence and purity.  These are the makings of real and tender love, most often found in children and dogs, and often recognized by each other.
These are the very terms that describe Hearts of Gold.

Chapter 1-The Sanctity of Marriage

The inside of a home should be cozy and warm, blanketed by the love between husband and wife, not chilled by a hatred that a blazing fire couldn't kindle.
From the moment of inception, and quite conceivably some time before, an insurmountable grief had been bestowed upon Peyton's young life—a period when innocence and youth should have gone hand in hand, a time when the only darkness should have always been accompanied by a comforting bedtime story and a favorite teddy bear.
Instead, her darkness began in the wee hours of almost every morning and continued until her tiny body lay to rest at night.
Her horrors were measured by how well her mother could keep her father's temper at bay. With his short fuse, the method of measurement was almost always cut in half.
No one could blame the frigid weather for the constant chill in the air. It would have been more accurate to blame the bitterness on the likes of Wayne Henry Bishop, Peyton's father.
While often it was Peyton's mother, Morgan, who suffered the brunt of the beatings, Wayne was not shy about raising his fist to his daughter on occasion or assaulting her with words, mostly those meant to diminish her self-esteem. He had all the ammunition he needed, like the neighborhood bully, and fired away at his daughter every chance he saw fit.
In no way could he even be classified as a caregiver to Peyton.
Peyton's mother on the other hand did what she could to give Peyton a normal life, though it wasn't much. With her petite build, porcelain skin, beautiful light brown hair, and cerulean blue eyes, most men would've agreed that Morgan was a catch. If they were smart, they would consider themselves lucky just to be in her presence. Her husband's awareness of her beauty only made him more determined to maintain control. He dangled her very life in front of her like a carrot before a starving bunny.
She could remember when it first started—the beatings. Back then it was more of a slap here or a push there.
At first, it amounted to nothing more than a shock, a burst of confusion, a blow to her ego.
Morgan was always confident, never submissive. She was also capable of a hot temper when warranted, but she was no match for his brawny build of six foot four or the fiery beast that grew within.
When the slaps turned into punches, her foolish pride was what initially kept her in a marriage that her parents hadn't approved of from the very beginning.
It wasn't long before she had a change of heart. She would trade her pride for her life any day. But she wondered now if it was too late.
During Morgan's pregnancy, Wayne flaunted his masculinity by using her stomach as a punching bag when things didn't go his way, which was quite frequently according to him.
From the bruises she sustained, it was a miracle that she survived his abuse, no less managed to carry her pregnancy to full term.
He felt that by "punishing" her, he would teach her a very valuable lesson. And what a teacher he was.
He boasted to her in private, claiming that he was making her tough and the baby even tougher. He held their lives by a string; they were mere puppets to do what he wanted when he commanded it be done. 
On the rare occasions where she chose to fight back, he put her in her place with frequent threats.  "I can kill you in a heartbeat.  You're just lucky that I choose not to, Morgan."
His seemingly charming personality was his saving grace around all of Morgan's friends. No one in their right minds would ever suspect he was capable of hurting so much as a hair on her head.
In addition, he kept his arrogant comments to himself, especially when she came imminently close to death in the hospital after a severe beating. The doctors were pleasantly surprised when she recovered, though they weren't naive. When the physician on call questioned him about Morgan's dire condition, Wayne adamantly denied any allegations of abuse to his young wife. He rattled off one lame excuse after the other, an act he'd improved upon subsequent to each beating. If lying was a muscle, his was definitely toned.
"Oh, Morgan's always hurting herself. She's been like that since the day I met her.  Thankfully I was around otherwise who knows what would've happened!" 
The nurses predicted that Morgan would deny any abuse, and they were right. As soon as Morgan recovered enough that she could speak, she stuck up for her husband, an act she'd perfected and one she thought she performed flawlessly.
Sadly, it was common for the hospital staff to see women admitted into emergency rooms with a bloody nose or a broken leg. It was also common that these same women suffered with battered woman syndrome.
Morgan was no different, fitting the cookie-cutter image to a genuine fault.
Taught to be a loyal wife, or at least threatened if she didn't behave as such, she never admitted anything was wrong with her marriage. Until she took those difficult first steps, no one would be able to help her.
Her excuses always seemed viable for the many bruises she wore. Friends had witnessed firsthand how clumsy Morgan appeared.
Her friend Tracy had even seen Morgan take a spill down the front steps outside of her apartment in a snowstorm. She surmised that Morgan fell because the steps were icy. It seemed like a logical explanation at the time.
What Tracy didn't know—and couldn't know—was that Morgan fell due to a beating Wayne had given her moments earlier.
His irrational gripe? Morgan had made plans to go out without asking his permission first. He accused her of having an affair, even though he was quite aware that she was going shopping with Tracy, her lifelong best friend.
So when Morgan stepped out onto the steps, she was still shaking from the pain her husband had inflicted, causing her legs to give out beneath her and take a tumble. Like the coward that he was, he made sure not to bruise her in any obvious areas. Her stomach was the first place he usually aimed.
When Tracy asked if she was okay, Morgan responded with, "Oh, yea. I'm so clumsy.  I should've known better than to wear these shoes."  She dismissed the fall as if it were completely normal, even though she was in agonizing pain.
Unfortunately, Morgan never did share her misery with Tracy. To the outside world, Morgan and Wayne had the ideal marriage, aside from their financial issues. But hey, who didn't have problems with the economy in despair? And Wayne wouldn't have it any other way. He threatened that if she told a soul, he would kill her and their unborn baby.
"Promise me you'll do as I say or they'll be hell to pay, Morgan.  Do I make myself clear?"
She typically answered with a nod.  She was backed into a corner, given no choice.
She believed he'd make good on his promise. He'd brought her close to death many times before but then nursed her back to health after his rampage was over. His beatings came simultaneously when he had a strong buzz on. His alcohol of choice was good old Jack Daniels. Once he was able to see straight again, he'd "fix up" his wife, as he called it, apologize, and expect to start anew without any repercussions, as if it were perfectly acceptable to beat someone weaker than him.  There was always a reason as well.
"If you only hadn't said this, Morgan."  Or, "If you only hadn't said that."
It was never his wrongdoing.  In his mind, Morgan was the only one at fault.
She had planned to leave him once Peyton was born, but her plan went awry when he discovered her hidden stash of money. That was when the big beating came down on her, teaching her a lesson she'd never forget: don't ever cross Wayne Bishop.
And she didn't forget. Now, she learned to be more careful.

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