<br><h3> Chapter One </h3> Romantic Killer? Never heard of one <p> <p> She was my sweetheart and I loved her. Val Vandecamp and I were everything you can ask for. I didn't know where she was but I did hear people talking. Some say she didn't even let her dad turn any lights on in the house if he did, well she would cry. Others say she skipped town and her dad had to drag her back. I even hear people saying she did drugs. I will never know what happened in the two weeks before. Val never let anyone see that she was upset. As for what happened, she killed herself. It wasn't that hard to put together, me of all people knew her the best, better than her own dad. I started with what her dad told me was in the bathroom, a glass and an empty pill bottle. Umm, not that hard to see how she did it, but why? Then my mind drifted and the memory of that call consumed me ... <p> "Jude, its Mr. V. I know what time it is, but I had to call. I know she would want me to tell you first." He said with no feeling in his voice. <p> "Tell me, Mr. V. what is it?" I asked loudly because I was scared out of my mind by now. "Val.... she.... she.... killed herself last night. I'm so sorry." <p> I couldn't think, I couldn't speak, it was like that guy on the movie "Click" I hit the mute button. <p> "No, what kind of cruel, sick joke is this?" I asked him with rage in my heart. <p> "Jude, I am so, so, so sorry, but it's true." He told me and I hit `end' <p> <p> * * * <p> I tried to think like her, it wasn't like her dad was never around but her mom died in childbirth. She was a very good student, top of our class; she was a shoe-in for USC. It had to be my fault. I would hate myself forever if she killed herself because of me. Yes, I Jude Franklin killed the love of my life. I had to go to our place; I had to feel close to her again. A place that would help me remember ... perhaps a place to forget ... because I really want to, forget everything that is. I looked to my Mom and she looked as hollow as I feel. <p> "Mom, I am going to Sunset Beach." I called back to her, on my way out. <p> Everyone in my family knows what Sunset Beach means to me, they know the short story anyway, I met Val there.... but I also had the best night of my life there ... a night I would never forget ... with her. I walked to the spot where I first saw her and closed my eyes, letting my memory take me ... <p> Three years ago I recall that I walked out the door that day with a skip in my step. I felt the hot sand on my feet but I didn't care ... nothing could have made this day bad, yet I still didn't know why I was so happy. I walked out to the water and put my toes in, it was warm, just like the sand. I looked around for a girl that would show me a good time. But all of them were with good-looking guys. I was thinking that everyone had someone but me, and then I saw her. <p> She was reading a book. I tried to think of things to say to her, anything. I tossed my cup on the ground and went to pick it up at her feet. <p> "Oh miss, I'm sorry I must have dropped this. Let me do my good deed for the day." I smiled as I picked up the cup. <p> She then looked up from her book, smiled, and said, "You from around here? I have never seen you before, I would know if I saw a guy with a face like that." <p> "No, I just moved here from Texas," I told the girl with the bright green eyes. <p> "Well, looks like you need someone to show you around, now I myself am into this book so I don't think I have the time." she spoke with fire in her eyes at each word. <p> "Oh that is a shame; I guess I will have to do this." I said taking a step closer to her book that covered her face. I grabbed the book and ran as fast as I have ever run in my life. <p> I started reading a random page, "Young love is something we never forget it changes us forever. In life we are not sure about a lot of things, but one we are sure of, we know when we fall in love for the first time." I read as I ran when the pretty girl caught up to me she turned red. <p> "That's mine, just because you're from out of town doesn't mean you can just steal people's things." she said as she took her book from my hand. <p> "Well, looks like you have to show me how to behave." I winked at her I didn't even know her name at that time and I knew I wanted to spend as much time as I could with her. <p> "Yes but I don't know how to make a boy behave without saying his name in a mean mom voice and since I don't know your name ..." she smiled and started to laugh. <p> "My name is Jude Franklin and you are? Oh I know, the prettiest girl in the world." <p> "You have a lot of nerve Jude Franklin, just meeting me and hitting on me, all in less than an hour. My name is Val Vandecamp." she said putting out her right hand. <p> "It's very nice to meet you Val." I said taking her hand in mine and kissing it. <p> "Maybe I can show you around California, see I was thinking you were a jerk." she said being honest. "Oh I am hurt, but you know what, I will take it. What time?" I asked Val, completely shocked that my cheesy line had worked on her. <p> <p> * * * <p> Someone tapped me on the back, jerking me out of my daydream and when I didn't turn around she spoke up, "Hey, you look like you're lonely my name is Wendy what is yours?" She asked and I wanted to hit her in the face, dumb girls think they can just walk up and make you fall in love with them, then they get all crazy and mess up your life. <p> "That's sort of the point now can you go away?" I asked turning around to look her square in the face to show her I am not joking. I looked at her for the first time and if I wasn't hateful and heartbroken, I would so do her, which means it's time to run. <p> "You know what? I changed my mind, I'll go, and you stay." I yelled as I walked away. <p> "No, I get it.... don't go." She yelled, but it was too late I was already gone. So.... so far gone. <p> <p> <h3> Chapter Two </h3> Beast Inside me. <p> <p> I was in the car and I heard my phone ring and I picked it up. <p> "Hello Mr. Franklin? This is Jack Rush from the OCSD; we need you to come in for questioning." It hit me like a truck, she killed herself because of me and now as if that wasn't hard enough, they think I killed her with my own hands. <p> "Okay, I'm on my way." I said. What else could I say, `no, go to hell?' That would put me in jail for sure. <p> When I got to the room it was just like on the show CSI, it had the gray table and big windows. I sat down in the chair close to the door just like where the bad guys sit on the show. I heard the door open and Mr. Jackass Rush walked in slowly and sat down across from me, to give me a heart attack no less. <p> Jack Rush ... okay, now if you are going to visualize a crappy cop drama this guy has it on lockdown ... from his thinning hair, to his pot belly and strong stench of cigarette smoke. It kind of irritated me that someone so unappealing would be sitting me down and grilling me ... I understand it is his job, but it was my life ... and a girl like Val would never have given this guy the time of day. <p> "Mr. Franklin, you were Val Vandecamp's boyfriend. Did you have sexual intercourse with Ms. Vandecamp?" He asked and that got me mad because what does that have to do with her case? Did I rape her, no ... not in a million, billion years. So ask me about her death, fair but ask me about our sex life like it had to do with her death, not okay, not okay at all. <p> "Yes we did, why, do you want to know how many times?" I asked with force. <p> "Well ... just protocol." he said, not helping me feel any less irritated about where this seemed to be going. <p> "Protocol? ... listen I have watched a lot of T.V. And that never seems to be a question asked." <p> "You seem a little aggravated Mr. Franklin." <p> "It's Jude." I said as the weight of "Mr. Franklin" seemed to much for me. <p> "Sexual contact is a concern in this case." <p> "Like a rape?" I asked. <p> "No ... no, I apologize for giving that impression." <p> I looked at him and squinted my eyes. <p> "Well how else was I supposed to take it?" <p> "I guess we should just get to the point Jude." he said, adjusting himself on his chair. <p> "Yes ... that would be appreciated." I said as I leaned back and crossed my arms on my chest. <p> "Jude ... Ms. Vandecamp was due to have a baby when she died. It could have something to do with her death." <p> "What?" I said as I looked up and stared at him. <p> "A baby ... she was pregnant." <p> The world tilted, I swear that it did ... like some old movie about a psychotic losing their mind. I felt the sweat start to form on my forehead and that asshole just sat there, with no emotion, tapping his dirty fingernails on the table. <p> "Mr. Franklin ..." <p> I stood up and almost knocked the chair over, clutching at the table to steady myself. <p> "Mr...." <p> I looked at him with more hatred than I ever think I have sent out to anyone ever. <p> "It is JUDE!" I yelled at him. <p> "I do not think the technicality of your name is the issue." he said all smug and condescending. <p> "Shut up." I said half out of breath. <p> "I am sorry ... but the baby, I would assume you did not know, who else was she sleeping with?" <p> "What the hell?" I said as I looked at him with disbelief. <p> "I just need a name, or names Jude." he said. <p> "Names? ... go to hell." I said as I started to sway on my feet. <p> "Val may have been cheating." <p> I stared him down and fell into the chair. The thought of her cheating ate away at my heart almost as much as her dying did. <p> "Okay ... well, I can see you are in no state of mind to talk right now." <p> "You think?" I said as I tried to compose myself. <p> "There are a thousand stories in time about the cold heart of a woman Jude, you will not be the first or last to experience that." <p> I lost my shit at that point and started to yell at him ... <p> "Well the baby had to be mine, she would've told me about our baby, Val wasn't the type of person to cheat. She could never cheat!" I stood up quickly and started to walk out. "Mr. Franklin WE ARE NOT DONE HERE!!!" He yelled so loudly at me the whole place could hear I'm sure. "Mr. Franklin I could detain you, if you don't come back." Detective Rush then stood up and started running after me. I stopped in my tracks giving in and going back to the room. "Now son we aren't saying it wasn't your kid but if it wasn't then it could be a factor to Ms. Vandecamp's death. We will get the CSI working on it." Detective Rush said smoothly so I wouldn't snap. <p> "Can I go now?" I asked as I looked down at my hands, they felt sweaty and I could feel a tremor starting in them. <p> "Yes, Mr. Franklin you may go for now, but the questions are far from over." <p> "It's Jude you ass." I said as I walked away. <p> I walked down the hallway to whispers, at least I could only hope they were whispering and the psychosis was not settling into my brain. I finally made it to my car and banged my hands on the dashboard over and over again until the numbness set in, a welcomed relief to everything. <p> "Damn it why is my life so messed up?" I yelled to myself, I felt crazy. I turned up my radio the highest to it could go. I sang along to a song I barely knew, it was a sad song and I cried. I felt like a chick on some dumb movie. I wanted to stay right here in my car forever and never come out, but that didn't happen to my dismay I pulled up to my drive way and went into my house, tears in my eyes and all. <p> "Oh honey what's wrong?" My mom said as she rushed to my side. My family knows I never cry, before now that is. I pushed her away and shut my door loudly. <p> "I don't want to talk to this family or anyone for that matter, I'll go to work, go to school, do my homework, walk on the beach (with Val, I added in my head) and go to bed. All the rest is meaningless bull shit and can go to hell!!" I yelled as I sobbed but I knew Mom and Joey, that is my little goody-goody brother, could hear every word and that fed the beast inside me. I decided that being home was the last thing I wanted, talking to anyone was the last thing I wanted ... and leaving was a number one must do. I stood up, ran to my door and swung it open, hoping that my emotional exit would just make them both let me go as I needed to. <p> I ran past Mom as she reached towards me ... I cannot allow anyone to try to console me, there is nothing that could be said or done anyway. Time for the destructive side of me ... in fact it has to happen, especially now. My mind is reeling, visions of Val's face, her lips ... keep running through my mind, making my heart ache as if the blood cannot reach it. <p> I needed a beer so I grabbed my wallet, which had my fake ID in it and walked out of the house. I ran to the bar I normally go to named Brix Wines, they never card me but I thought I should take my ID just in case. Although I have to guess, that due to slow business, they must turn a blind eye to minors like me. I grabbed my normal stool at the bar. I knew Drake works on Tuesdays and we are sort of tight. He is the only one that called me out the first time he saw me, he said something like, <p> "Hey kid, I wasn't born yesterday I made 50 fake IDs in my day, however I like you so you're cool." Ever since then and by then I mean freshmen year, we've been friends. Drake walked up just like I said he would and I would have smiled but smiling is not an option right now. <p> "Hey man, come to ditch the pain and get back in the game?" Drake asked, I didn't want to be like a baby and say what game, there is no game without her, like I was thinking, no I came up with guy talk, if only I could still walk the walk. <p> "You know it, brother, I was born ready." I said and held out my hand for that lame hand shake that guys do to look cool. <p> "Bud Light, am I right?" Drake asked as if he didn't know. I nodded and Drake handed me my beer with a wink. <p> "So, how are things ... ?" Drake asked with a worried look. I knew what he meant by `things' and since Drake is the only person I trust I didn't down play it. <p> "Life is a truck rolling over me, every time I open my mouth." I told him putting my face in my hands. <p> "Jude, when I first met you, you were a strong, bright young man that was full of life, I hate to see you like this." He said as he stared at me, You see Val was the first one to show me this place, Drake knew how in love we were, but Drake wants me to move on. I didn't say anything more. I mean, what else is there to say? I finished my beer and asked Drake for number two, he handed it to me without a word. <p> "Hottie five o'clock, come on man try out some new legs, you'll have fun." Drake pleaded. I finished my beer shortly after he said that and without needing a bill I put money and a good tip on the bar and walked away. <p> <p> <h3> Chapter Three </h3> Being in my happy place is happy, because I am alone. <p> <p> I went to the beach like always, standing in our spot. It is our spot because this is where we first made love. I closed my eyes and went back to one of the best nights of my life. <p> "Are you sure we should be out here this late at night? My Dad will kill me if get in trouble with the law, Cowboy." Val said in a small voice letting go of my hand. <p> She looked up at the moon, "How could something that simple be so pretty?" Val asked me. I stepped forward to catch her in my arms. <p> "That's what I asked myself when I met you." I spoke in her ear kissing behind it in between words. "How did I get so lucky?" Val smiled that smile that makes your heart stop. <p> "I can think of more ways to get lucky." I said laughing as I slipped my jacket off. Then I went behind Val to take her jacket off as well. <p> "Jude we can't, what about protection? What would my dad think?" Val asked all at once. I put my finger to her lips, "Shh honey, let me ask you something, do you love me? Do I make you happy?" I asked looking deep into her eyes and putting my hand on her cheek. <p> "Yes, yes but I'm scared it's my first time and what if I do something wrong?" Val asked with worry in her eyes. <p> "Don't think just do, we are learning together." I said holding a condom up to her eyes. I laid down in the sand and pulled her with me. I then rolled over so I was on top of her. <p> <i>(Continues...)</i> <p> <!-- copyright notice --> <br></pre> <blockquote><hr noshade size='1'><font size='-2'> Excerpted from <b>War Inside Me</b> by <b>Sydney Nicholas</b> Copyright © 2012 by Sydney Nicholas. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.<br>Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.