Meeting him was a fluke. Dating him was a mistake. Watching him become a drug addict put me through hell. Running was my only option.
I'm running from my demons and when I find out she's trying to escape her past, I know what I have to do.
One broken cop. One woman
for her life. A fragile love. fighting
Sinister secrets that threaten to tear them apart.
They've been to hell. The hard part will be finding their way back together.
I pull up in
my driveway looking over at the house.
What I see pisses me off. Here she is
in a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, hat and glasses pushing a brand new lawn mower. I make sure I check my temper before I walk over. Right before I cross the street the little girl on the front porch stops me mid step.
She looks like just like her mother, just a smaller version. She is sitting on a plastic little table,
that they probably just bought, coloring. I make my way over to her right when the lawn mower goes off. “I told you I would cut the grass.” I try to sound casual, but the blood in me is boiling, it must be ninety-five degrees outside and she’s wearing enough clothes for a trek across the frozen tundra.
She looks up “I also said I got it, and I would be doing it myself.” The little girl from
the porch makes it to her mother and hides behind her, yanking on her pant leg. The fearful look that she gives me is just like her mother’s. I crouch down, getting eye-to-eye with her and say “Hey there, beautiful. What’s your name?” She doesn’t reply, and instead she lowers her gaze so she is looking at her feet. “I’m Jackson,” I reach out my hand, but drop it when I know she won’t take it. I gesture behind me, as I say “I live in that house right over there. I used to know your great grandma.” I’m trying to draw her into a conversation with me, but nothing I say engages her.
“It’s ok baby, you can tell him your name. Nan used to make him cookies, so you know what that means, she must have really liked him.” She rubs her daughters shoulder. “I’m Lilah,” she says in barely a whisper. “That is the most beautiful name in the whole wide world. You’re lucky to have such a beautiful name.” She smiles at me, right as a car back fires. She yells and puts her hands to her ears. Two things happen at the same time, her mother grabs her and runs toward the house, and I vow to protect them. “Wait,” I rush after them and make it right to the door before it’s closed in my face. I stand there inside the house and watch them rushing to the corner and hide.
Two broken girls protecting each other against some monster of the outside world. I walk up to them “It’s ok, it’s just a car, it was nothing but a car.” “Lilah, baby it’s ok, it’s ok. I’m here. It’s ok baby girl, were safe.” She is trying to comfort the little girl who is sobbing quietly in her mother arms. “No one is here baby.” She looks over at me, our eyes meeting for one minute before she lowers them again. “Look it’s ok, it’s just Jackson. There is no one here, baby.” She rocks Lilah back and forth. Her back against the wall while she soothes her baby girl whose sobs are slowly stopping, her eyes closing. “What can I do?” I’m now sitting in front of her not sure how to even start to dissect this. “Nothing, you can’t do anything for us,” she kisses Lilah’s head. “No one can.” I ignore that last part not sure how to talk about this now. “I’m going to go outside and finish cutting the grass, then I’m going to go pick up some food for us. Does she like pizza?”
“Jackson, I don’t know what relationship you had with my grandmother, but I don’t need your help. We will be fine. Please, it’s ok, you can leave.” She rests her head on the the wall closing her eyes, the defeat of the day leaving her body.
“I’m going to go outside and finish mowing the lawn so Lilah doesn’t have to go outside anymore today. Then I’m going to pick up pizza for myself. You won’t have time to cook, so I’m going to pick one up for you. I want to eat with you guys, but I’m not pushing myself on you either after today. Now I don’t want to fight with you or even discuss this, so just nod that you understand?”
She looks into my eyes, but nods yes. “I can pay you for the pizza? I have money. I don’t need a hand out,” she says while trying to push herself up to go get fucking money.
If she weren’t so scared of things I would punch the fuck out of something right now. “I don’t want your money, now or ever. I have no doubt you can take care of yourself. Consider this a housewarming present.” I get up going to the door not even giving her a chance to say anything else.
“She’s never had pizza before, so can you just get us plain cheese.” I don’t say anything afraid of what will come out of my mouth. I nod and walk out the door, closing it quietly so as not to wake Lilah. I close my
eyes exhaling the breath that I didn’t even realize I was holding. “She’s barely holding on while fighting for her life. She has demons, they both do. Whatever happened to them, it’s in there deep. The both of them are so scared, you can practically see the fear coming off of them.” I look over at Brenda who is on her porch watering her plants. “Tread lightly, Jackson, or better yet walk away if you aren’t going to do anything about it.” I don’t have a chance to respond she walks into her house closing her front door softly, leaving me fighting my own demons.
From the moment I began reading this book, I knew I would be taken on an emotional ride. What, I didn’t expect was the hold it would have on my heart. This was a sexy, suspenseful, heartbreaking and heartwarming read. I had difficulty putting this one down as I was eager as well as anxious to discover how everything would unfold.
Hell and Back tell the story of a young mother named Bella. She had left home at eighteen to attend college and to live her life the way she wanted without her grandmother’s interference. Things were going well until she found herself caught up in an abusive relationship. She managed to escape and was able to return to the place where she once called home. She was scared not only for herself but also for her daughter and as a result, she did not trust anyone, especially men. Her only concern was to reclaim her life and protect herself and her daughter from a maniac.
Jackson Fletcher is an SVU detective who has seen his share of horrors, as such the moment he saw his new neighbour, he knew she was running from something or someone. He was intrigued by her and he vowed to himself and to her that he would do what it takes to protect her. Jake has a strong personality which did not go down too well with Bella at first, considering all that she had been through. As such Jake had to jump through hoops to prove to her that his intentions were honourable and that she could trust him. He had his own demons to contend with. Learning what he was struggling with helped me to understand why he felt the need to be a protector. He felt guilty about letting someone, from his past, down by not being there for them and did not want to make that mistake again.
It was such a pleasure seeing Bella living again, making friends and enjoying what life had to offer. I loved the progression of the relationship between her and Jackson. She recognized that she could trust him and that she was safe with him. Even though he was forceful by nature, I like the fact that he did not push Bella further than she was able to. He was willing to take things slow and they took the time to know each other.
This is my first book by Natasha Madison and I enjoyed it. Her characters are realistic and relatable. I was drawn to them and I hoped that they would get what they deserved in the end. The story, although not unique was well written. I can’t say too much without giving the story away. However, I can say this much, that twist that the author threw in was shocking, to say the least. I never for a moment saw that one coming. This made things complicated for Jackson and Bella. Initially, I didn’t like the direction that this particular event was taking, but after thinking it over I thought it was the best solution for all parties involved.
This book touched on some serious issues which happen to be an everyday occurrence. Issues such as domestic abuse, drug addiction, and human trafficking. The manner in which the events were described was gut wrenching. Learning of what Bella went through prior to her escape and after was heartbreaking. This story demonstrates the power of love. Love heals, it saves, it protects and it conquers all.
If you enjoy romance mixed with suspense and hot alpha males then I recommend that you give this one a try.
About Natasha Madsion
When her nose isn't buried in a book, or her fingers flying across a keyboard writing, she's in the kitchen creating gourmet meals. You can find her, in four inch heels no less, in the car chauffeuring kids, or possibly with her husband scheduling his business trips. It's a good thing her characters do what she says, because even her Labrador doesn't listen to her...