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By Aimee L. Salter
Young Adult, Dark Romance / Magical Realism
Tully isn’t alone in her skin. Whenever she touches someone, they feel everything she feels. All her ugliness. All her darkness. All her pain. The only thing she wants is to be left alone--and to finally get out of her small Oregon town.
But then she meets Chris. He’s everything she’s not: Light. Trusting. Innocent. And he wants Tully.
Tully knows she should spare him the heartache of being with her. But when he touches her, she’s not sure she’ll have the strength to push him away—until he learns about her dark past, and what really goes on in her ever decaying home.
From the author of Every Ugly Word comes a poignant, emotionally raw story about the violence that plays out behind closed doors and the all-consuming passion of first love
Excerpt 1 - Opening Pages / What’s at stake
I think it’s because the first time Chris saw me, I wasn’t me. He saw someone who didn’t exist. And by the time he figured that out, he didn’t care anymore.
He should have cared.
He cares now.
In the half-light of my pitiful bulb, everything looks gray. Dust motes hang in the air. My narrow bed is unmade, sheets tangled. The quilt my mom stitched when I was two hangs half-way off the mattress, stretched toward the door like it too would flee this room if it could. The rest is bare—the drawers, the closet door, the walls. Even the clothes strewn across the chair and rug are plain and dirty.
Somehow it’s never bothered me before. But with Chris here it does.
His eyes are closed, his burnished lashes quivering because he’s screwed so tight. Everything’s shaking under the pressure. The muscles in his jaw twitch. His hand is white-knuckled. His shoulders . . . oh, Lord, help me, those shoulders that have lifted things I can’t carry and swept me along too . . . they’re hunched. Knotted. Pressed in on themselves. On him. There’s so much of him that I feel small, yet he’s the place where I can breathe.
At least, he was.
My insides are in freefall because I did this to him. I shouldn’t have that power over him. I shouldn’t have that power over anyone. But he gave it to me and refused to take it back.
“Chris?” I barely whisper, but he flinches like I screamed. “It wasn’t about—”
“Don’t.” It’s a hard syllable. A word bitten off. He doesn’t even open his eyes. “I swear, Tully, if you say one word . . .” His fist becomes a hammer.
I am ugly. I am black inside, rotting and putrid. I have told him this. Many times. But tonight, finally, he believes me. As he turns on his heel and stumbles out the door, I can’t even call after him. Because when he gave me the power to turn him inside out, I gave him mine. And even though I knew this day would come, knew he was wrong about me, somehow he gave me hope.
As I watch him stagger into the hallway and disappear, that hope begins its death throes. It doesn’t die quietly. It screams and curses and shoves at me. And for the first time ever, I am grateful for my life, for my father, and for this house.
Because if it’s taught me anything, it’s how to take a blow.
By Tully Harden (main character in Dark Touch, by Aimee L. Salter)
People think my story before Chris walked into my life was sad because I was hurt. A lot.
It’s true, I carry scars—both those you can see, and those you can’t. But the truly sad part of my past is that I spent years hurting myself. I was pissed off, and frightened, and so freaking tired I had given up and accepted what happened to me. So whenever hate rose like bile in my throat (which was most of the time), I turned it on myself.
I am my own worst enemy.
My self-destruction might look different to yours, but we’re driven by the same loathing. I hurt myself because I hated what I was. What I became. I turned the anger in, because until I met Chris, I didn’t think I deserved forgiveness. Hell, I didn’t even think forgiveness existed. I threw myself under the bus because when the pain came, it fit. It felt right.
Chris didn’t save me from that—he couldn’t. But he showed me my own truth. Let me see where I believed lies. Assured me my life could be different. I will never love anyone more than him because what he showed me set me free.
So now it’s my turn to speak up. If you remember nothing else I’ve said, remember this:
Whatever you’ve been through, wherever you’re coming from, you don’t have to hurt to earn a smile.
Love is out there. Joy is possible. And there’s no penance to pay when you find it.
I hope you’ll read my story and see how I discovered this. I know my story can give you hope. Just be aware: I know how hot my boyfriend is. If you so much as look at him sideways, I’m still capable of slapping your teeth out of your face.
A deep raw and emotional tale of young love, abuse, and dark secrets. Dark Touch by Aimee L. Salter completely blew me away as Ms. Salter touches on a sensitive subject matter in such a powerful way in a genre that I rarely read.
“My feelings. Whenever anyone touches my hands they feel what I feel.”
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Aimee L. Salter is the author of the gut-wrenching Every Ugly Word, a gripping and emotional story about the devastating consequences of bullying, and Dark Touch, an equally raw story about the violence that plays out behind closed doors and the all-consuming passion of first love.
Aimee lives in Southern Oregon with her husband and son where she writes made-up stories that tell the truth about life. She never stopped appreciating those moments in the dark when you say what you're really thinking. And she'll always ask you about the things you wish she wouldn't.
She blogs for both writers and readers, and you can also find her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook: