I know it’s been a while since I published Safe With Me, and certain events may have slipped readers’ memories.
In For Britta, Susie expands upon (among other things) the background from these two scene snippets in the last part of Safe With Me:
Tyler, Tuesday, February 1, 2011
(A phone call after she’s released from a night in jail).
She produced a painful sigh. “Tyler, please drop it. I appreciate your anger but seriously, I just need it to be over.” Another sigh. “I’m sure you read that note she posted. I don’t like going to court. It brings back some really bad memories. I’m so ashamed that everybody knows about it now.”
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
I waited while she cried again. It made me want to cry, too. How could anyone be so heartless, putting all of someone’s life out there like Kate did? Everybody now knew that when Susie was fourteen, she and two other girls her age were involved in some kind of scandal involving nude pictures and video taken by her pastor’s son, a guy named Elliot Haney, who had just graduated from seminary. Since the girls were all under age they were witnesses at a trial and their names weren’t listed in the public court records but we assumed from other things we read that the people in her town knew who the girls were. We found old newspaper articles about the trial online. Corbie and Michael said they recognized a second guy involved who pleaded guilty to a lesser charge: Jerry Lyons. They were pretty sure he was the tattooed guy who showed up at Susie’s front door years ago, the one she screamed at until he left.
(I will explain how Jerry got out of jail faster than Elliot.)
Tyler, Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Matt’s voice startled me. “So she’s really coming back today?”
“That’s what she said.”
He let out a loud sigh. “God, I hope she’ll talk to me.”
I turned around and saw him staring down at a picture. When I walked over, I saw it was a picture of a man sitting at a desk. “So, is that your dad?”
He nodded. “Yeah. This was his office at the church.”
“Is that why she goes to church?”
He let out a light chuckle. “She goes to church?”
“Yeah, sometimes. I think.”
“Shit, after what happened I can’t imagine she’d ever go back. I sure don’t.” His eyes quickly met mine. “Don’t tell Lydia.”
I laughed for a few moments. “So, what happened exactly? If you don’t mind telling me.”
He breathed deeply. “Well, basically, she got caught up in this racket.” He shook his head, staring at the picture. “I realize now it wasn’t her fault but at the time I didn’t know any better. She never should’ve been left alone with those sleazebags. It was supposed to be some special youth Bible study at the pastor’s house. Conveniently, every Friday night when the only person home was their twenty-four-year-old son.” His eyes rolled. “Someone should’ve checked on what was happening in that basement.”
“Yeah, I know. You see, Mom and Dad both worked a lot.” He flipped to the next picture. It was his dad again. “Mom had two part time jobs. Dad was an associate pastor at the church part time, and the rest of the time he ran a forklift at a warehouse. So, they were both busy. Relied on friends and relatives to babysit a lot.” His eyes got sad when he turned to the next picture. It was his dad again, talking to a few other men. “We went to this really big church where there was always some kind of kids’ event, so we got dropped off there a lot. Any kind of youth function, that was free babysitting, you know? But someone should’ve checked on her. No one had any idea. That’s why Dad and a bunch of other people got fired, including the head pastor. The church board held ‘em all responsible. I remember us dropping her off at Pastor Haney’s giant house. Looked like a mansion to me back then.” He chuckled, sadly. “Then he’d take me to the church where I’d play with all my friends on Friday night.”
“What about your other sister?”
“She was busy with something at school. This whole thing went on for maybe two months.” His mouth slowly formed a frown. “Tabby’s the one who kinda busted the whole thing by accident. At church one day she noticed Susie seemed a little too comfortable with Elliot, the pastor’s son, and his friend, Jerry.” He huffed. “Anyway, I didn’t know most of this till later. Tabby said something to Mom. They found out Elliot’s youth group was a big lie. All I remember is, a few days later, Mom picked me up early from school, acting all worried, then we went to the high school to get Tabby. We went directly to our aunt and uncle’s house to spend the night. I heard you met our cousin Ashley. That’s where she lived.”
“Was she involved in it, too?”
“No. Her family moved a little further away and went to another church. We think Susie told her about it while it was going on though. Ashley acted real weird that night.” He sighed. “Anyway, I didn’t know everything was about to change like that. Uncle Mark took us back home the next day, and that’s when Mom told us Susie didn’t live there anymore.” He got a little choked up at the end of his sentence.
How does For Britta relate?
For Britta begins with the story of what happened in the events mentioned above, and how they led to Susie’s life as a sex worker. But the story only starts there. It will go way beyond that.
If you remember Safe With Me and paid attention, you may know that Susie had quite a life before Tyler. She will chronicle that life in her journal to Britta.
This will be a long serial.
At the beginning of the first part of For Britta, Susie writes this to Britta:
“I’m writing this so you’ll know the truth about me, and you won’t have to create your own theories based on gossip, or what others may show you online.”
That’s key. “What others may show you online.”
Someone with a past like Susie’s has a lot of rumors out there. She also has money, which means she can afford to manage her online reputation (this will be explained) but that doesn’t stop people from posting more rumors about her. This is one such example from when Susie lived in Los Angeles. “I went to a bachelorette party in Hermosa Beach where she punched the bride-to-be in the face.”
That’s just one story. She has dozens of them. She knows the most popular rumors about her, and she’d rather Britta hear her version than what she may find online, or hear from Tyler’s nosy relatives.
If the stories get too racy and she doesn’t feel they’re appropriate to mention to Britta, I may instead detail them in a serial I’ve planned for a long time called Dirty Girl.
Detailed readers who remember Safe With Me and enjoyed the story will hopefully enjoy For Britta. The stories layer together.
To readers who enjoyed Safe With Me, For Britta will probably read like a prequel, and possibly a sequel (Tyler appears in the final chapter of volume one). But to me, For Britta isn’t a sequel or prequel. It’s the story I should’ve started with all along. Safe With Me is a subplot of For Britta.
I plan to also release stories (probably serials because I write long stories, but some may be standalone) about most “main” characters mentioned in Safe With Me and For Britta.
Examples: Preston / Priscilla / Jack (this will explain a lot of what happens in For Britta), Tabby, Ashley, Matt (and Daisy, eventually), Logan, Aaron, Miss Opal, Sherry, Mitzi, Dan, and more (including all characters from the Barboza Brothers series, which I wrote as Reeni Austin).
These stories will range anywhere from thriller to romantic comedy. Logan’s story (he’s the pot head in part seven who runs an adult bookstore and has an interesting encounter with Tyler) will likely be a romantic stoner comedy. That’s just who he is. All I can do is warn you in the book description, so please make sure you read those.
I’m happy to answer any questions you may have.
I wish I could write in more of a chronological fashion, but that’s not how my mind works.
My stories layer together. I (rather painstakingly) based the details in For Britta on the facts in Safe With Me.
I hope that adds a little more explanation.
For Britta, Volume One
by Shaina Richmond