Note: This was written in the early 1990's while I was living in Las Vegas, Nevada. The story is based on events that did happen, but most of it is fiction. The main male character is based off a guy I did meet on New Year's Eve 1992. The description of him is correct, but I never got his name. Ah yes, the one that got away.

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Prologue

The white lines that graced the highway began to blur as she stared down at them from the cushioned seat aboard the Greyhound bus headed for southern Nevada. She let out a heavy sigh and closed her eyes as she tried to block out the pain of the headache that throbbed behind her eyes. She massaged her temples lightly as she let her mind wander, mentally cursing herself for the mistakes she'd made that led her to this moment.

How could she have been such a fool, she scoffed inwardly. What was it about his twinkling eyes and too good to be true smile that blinded her and made her ignore the warnings she'd been given about him? How could she have turned a deaf ear to the truth?

Kaia shook her head. If only she had listened, if only she had believed the stories she'd heard about him... if only. If only she could turn back the hands of time.

She brushed away an errant tear as she remembered the day that her life had been turned upside down...the day when Levi Colyer had waltzed into her life. She remembered it with crystal clarity, almost as if it were yesterday. It had been a gloomy early spring afternoon, still cold and crisp with snow lingering in scattered patches. She and her best friend, Pamela had been shopping for new clothes to take with them on their trip to Florida. After leaving the boutique, where they'd found their new bikini swimwear, a voice called out from a seventies model Firebird. Pamela waved as she noticed her older brother sitting inside the sports car on the passenger side.

That's when Kaia had met him...Levi. She cursed herself for being so foolish, for not listening to Pamela when she said he was bad news. But one look into his deep brown eyes and incredible smile had been all it took.

How could she have known that a monster lurked behind that handsome facade? He was charming and sweet, thoughtful and generous...it wasn't until much later had she become aware of his true nature. Mean spirited, abusive, and hateful could only describe his true self. Kaia shuddered as she recalled the many times his hands had struck her tender flesh in anger...the many times he spewed words of hate at her. She hugged herself tightly as her mind reeled as she thought of the night he'd stormed into their apartment drunk and out of control. Kaia had cowered beneath his heavy fists as he beat her senselessly and struggled to understand what had set him off this time. As he punctuated each blow with the word WHORE over and over, only then could she understand his reasons for beating her this time. Anytime she looked or spoke to another man, Levi had taken pleasure in calling her a whore, repeatedly asking her if she'd rather be with him or another man. His taunts never seemed to end.

When he had finished his rampage against her, Kaia waited until he had passed out before she made her way to a nearby hospital, and vowed that would be the last time he'd ever lay a hand on her.

As one of the bus wheels hit a bump, it brought her back to the present. The bus was quiet as most of its passengers slept. Another day and she'd reach her destination. She prayed that Levi wouldn't be able to find her. She needed a new start in a new place to erase the pain of the past eight months. She wondered what her new life in Las Vegas would hold for her. Would Lady Luck be kind to her or was she destined for the same heartache she'd known for so many years of her young life.