Ruined - Annabelle Anders


Written by Corinne Michaels

Present day…

“Mom! Can you help me bring down this box?” I yell as I’m hauling yet another box from the attic of my parents’ house.

I love them, but they sure love to keep everything.

“Give me a second, I’m making lunch!” she calls back.

Liam enters the attic, sweat trickling down his face and groans. “I’ve been through BUDs and countless schools with some of the toughest instructors and they have nothing on your mother.”

I laugh and shrug. He’s not wrong. My mother is crazy, brilliant, and likes things in order, exactly like me. Lord knows it doesn’t come from my father who can’t organize a thing. “She had to manage my father.”

“And you. You’re a handful.”

He’s stupid, amazing, but stupid. “You should talk.”

“Oh, I know I’m a mess, but what does it say about you?”


He grins. “You married me.”

“That I did. God help me. And I let you knock me up.”

Liam looks at my belly. “How is the baby?”

“Good,” I reassure him. Each trip he asks and tries to tell me how I need to take it easy. Not sure how much easier I can take it when I don’t move.

I reach down into the box, noting it’s yet another box of old books. “She has so many old books up here. I’m not sure why she has kept them all.”

“Because she’s also a hoarder.”

“She’s not a hoarder.”

He lifts up some VHS tapes from a box. “No? And what, my love, is she watching these on?”

I get up and walk over to another section of very old appliances and show him the VCR. “This?”

“So she likes old things that probably don’t work?”

“She likes my father.”

He laughs. “And what about you? Is this a glimpse into our married life?”

I walk over to my extremely attractive husband, wishing I could wrap my arms around him fully, but my belly stops us. “Maybe. Would you hate me if it was?”

His grin is playful. “I could never hate you.”

“Good to know.”

“However, I will tell you there is not a single part of me that’s excited about you turning our house into this.”

“Noted.” I lean up and kiss him. “Now, move boxes while I keep sorting.”

He walks me back over to the chair I was in for the last two hours and stretch. I’m only seven months pregnant, but you’d swear I was nine. I’m so big and uncomfortable. Liam didn’t give me hell about this because my parents are moving to Virginia Beach to help with the kids while he goes back into the field in a few months.

Liam hefts another box up into his strong arms. “You know, I pictured our honeymoon a bit more . . . romantic.”

“I’m sure you did, but Arkansas has its charms.”

“It does?”

“Well, it has my parents and they’re watching Aara each morning so we can sleep in.”

He raises one brow. “And they say married life changes couples.”

I stick my tongue out to which he replies with blowing me a kiss before walking downstairs.

I sort the box of books into different piles. Some will be donated, others tossed, and Mom says she wants to keep anything with a love story.

A lot of these books are covered in dust, clearly not touched or read in a long time, but, I know how my mother is about books so I take my time.

As I start to dig deeper into box number five, I come across a black leather-bound book with nothing on the spine.

It’s old. Extremely old and there’s no title page. I flip another, being extra cautious because the pages feel like they could turn to dust if I rub them too hard.

I turn another and notice it’s not a book, but it’s a diary.

The name written on the page is Naomi Gilcrest.

Now I’m intrigued.

It’s definitely not my mother’s writing so I start to read.

Just as I lean back my mother pops her head in. “Natalie?”

“Mom, look what I found.”

She walks over, looking at it. “Ah, I see you found your great, great, great, great, great grandmother Naomi’s journal.”

“That’s a mouthful.”

Mom chuckles. “I know, and I may be off and need to add a few more onto that, but you get the point. It’s old and Naomi’s diary is . . . well, great.”

“You’ve read it?”

She nods. “Your father’s grandma gave it to me when we had just started dating. She said her,” she pauses and then shakes her head. “However many grandmothers back it was for her had an amazing story. She told me about how detailed