A Necessary Sin, Page 1Georgia Cates
A Necessary Sin
The Sin Trilogy: Book I
2. Chapter One
3. Chapter Two
4. Chapter Three
5. Chapter Four
6. Chapter Five
7. Chapter Six
8. Chapter Seven
9. Chapter Eight
10. Chapter Nine
11. Chapter Ten
12. Chapter Eleven
13. Chapter Twelve
14. Chapter Thirteen
15. Chapter Fourteen
16. Chapter Fifteen
17. Chapter Sixteen
18. Chapter Seventeen
19. Chapter Eighteen
20. Chapter Nineteen
21. Chapter Twenty
22. Chapter Twenty-One
23. Chapter Twenty-Two
24. Chapter Twenty-Three
25. Chapter Twenty-Four
26. Chapter Twenty-Five
27. Chapter Twenty-Six
28. Chapter Twenty-Seven
About the Author
Other books by Georgia
Copyright © 2014 Georgia Cates
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
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Editing Services provided by Jennifer Sommersby Young
Interior Design by Indie Formatting Services
Photograph by Nera Strand, Black Beach Studios
To J, F, and M.
You are my dream come true.
Stella Bleu Lawrence
I’m wearing my pretty pink princess apron and chef hat while doing my most favoritest thing in the world–baking chocolate chip cookies with my mama. I inspect the shiny plastic roll of dough, studying the picture of the white fluffy pastry boy on the package before turning it around for her to see. “Mama, look. He’s wearing a puffy hat just like mine. Except mine’s prettier.” Everything is prettier when it’s pink.
My mama sprays the pan we’re using for our cookies. “He sure is, Bleubird. And I think you’re right. Yours is much prettier. Did you know only the best chefs in the world wear hats like yours?”
Wow. This hat makes me one of the best chefs in the world so that means these cookies are going to be the most delicious I’ve ever baked.
“It’s your favorite song,” I squeal when “Amanda” begins to play. Mama says Boston sings that song just for her. I think she could be right since Amanda is her name.
We always listen to music when we’re cooking so I’ve heard this song a million times. I know every word by heart but I don’t understand what it means. Mama says it’s all about grown-up stuff and I’ll understand one day. I’m not sure I ever want to understand. Grown-up stuff makes my mama cry. A lot.
I’m singing my guts out because it always makes her crack up. I love seeing her laugh because it means she isn’t crying. She’s too pretty to cry so much.
She holds the plastic roll of dough to her mouth and pretends it’s a microphone. She sings so pretty. Everything about Mama is pretty. I hope I grow up to be just like her.
The song gets to the part where there are no words, only guitars, so she puts her pretend microphone on the counter and slices into it with a sharp knife. She always does that part because she says I’m still too little to use knives. My job is to roll the dough into little balls. I’m not always great at it, though. Some come out big, some little. But she always tells me I’ve done a great job–even when I know I haven’t.
“Can I have a bite of dough?” She’s making her “no” face. “Please … with lots and lots of sugar on top.”
I can’t remember why she said it’s okay to eat the cookie dough after it comes out of the oven, but not before. “Hailey’s mama lets her have cookie dough.”
“Maybe one little bite will be okay, but we’re not going to make a habit of this, little lady.” She pinches off a tiny ball and I almost jump up and down because I’m so happy. I’ve always wanted to taste it because Hailey says it’s delicious.
I miss cooking with Mama. We used to do it all the time but that was before she started her new job. She works at night so she has to leave me with our neighbor. Amelia’s nice to me but she’s old, smells funny, and never wants to play. All she does is sit in her chair with her feet up and watch that news show where the same stories repeat over and over. It’s sooo boring.
I finish my tiny ball of cookie dough and immediately want more. “Another? Please, with sugar on top.” That worked the first time.
“No, Stella. I said one bite and that’s what I meant so don’t ask again.” I knew she’d say no but it was worth a try.
I line the balls of dough on the pan and she puts them in the preheated oven. “We’ll check them in ten minutes.” She sets the timer on the stove because we don’t want to burn them. We love our cookies gooey. “What do you want to do while we wait?”
I look at the roll of leftover dough in the roll. “Umm … eat cookie dough?” I grin and bat my eyelashes, as if that’s going to get me what I want but she doesn’t budge. I only succeed in making her laugh, which is better than making her mad since I asked again after she told me not to.
I sit at the table in our kitchen, tortured by the smell of baking cookies. “They smell sooo good. How much longer?”
I’m not sure why I asked. I can plainly see the timer counting down. “Five more minutes.”
I huff and blow my hair out of my face and prop my chin on my hands. “I wish they’d hurry up. I’m ready to taste those ooey-gooey cookies.”
“Good things come to those who wait.” She tells me that all the time but I don’t understand why good things can’t come sooner instead of later. I hate waiting. “Do you want milk with your cookies?”
“Yes!” I run to the fridge and swing the smaller side open. I hope we have mugs in the freezer. I love that milky ice that forms in the glass.
The doorbell rings and Max, our ginormous German shepherd, barks as he runs toward the door. I bounce up from the kitchen table to follow him. “I bet it’s Hailey wanting to play.”
Mama puts her hand out and catches me by the back of my shirt. “That’s not Hailey. Her mother wouldn’t let her come over this late.” She goes up on her tiptoes and spies through the peephole. She jerks back and twists to look at me before placing her finger to her lips. “Shh.” She tiptoes to me and takes my hand. She grabs Max by the collar and takes us down the hallway.
She goes to her knees so we’re face to face and holds both of my shoulders when we are in my bedroom. “Listen to me very carefully. We’re going to play a little game. I want you to hide under your bed and be very,
very quiet. Stay there until I return and tell you it’s okay to come out. Do you understand, Stella?”
I nod, afraid and confused, but I do as I’m told and crawl under my bed.
“Max, stay,” she commands. I see him obey, his butt sitting on my carpet, but he doesn’t understand that he’s supposed to be quiet. He’s whining the way he does when he wants to disobey. “Don’t come out no matter what you hear,” Mama says.
I watch her feet leave my room and she pulls my bedroom door shut. I lie silently on the floor beneath my bed, waiting for her to return so I can come out. This game is not fun.
The music gets super-duper loud. Loud enough that I’m sure the neighbors will call and complain to Mr. Johnson.
It’s another song I know by Boston. “More Than a Feeling.” The guitar is screaming so I know we’re going to get in trouble with the landlord. Our neighbor, Mr. Benson, likes to turn us in every chance he gets. He doesn’t like us much and I don’t know why.
The carpet is making my cheek itch so I lift my face to scratch it. In the process, I bump the back of my head on the railing of my bed. “Oww.” I put my hand over my head and rub it where it burns.
Max gets up from where he’s sitting and scratches at the carpet, trying to get out of my room. He whines louder and begins barking as he paws at the door. “Stop, Max. You’re gonna make Mama mad if you scratch the paint.”
I hear a bang, the loudest noise I’ve ever heard in my life, and my heart beats faster than I can ever remember. “Mama?” I whisper but stay put because it’s what she told me to do. Don’t come out until I say it’s okay.
What was that loud sound?
I smell the burning cookies. Mama wouldn’t let our cookies burn.
I think something bad is happening.
Max howls, now clawing to get out, and I press my face into the carpet so I can see between the floor and my bed skirt. I think about letting him out so he can go to Mama.
I don’t have time to do it before my bedroom door opens slowly. Max backs away and then lunges for the leg of the person coming into my bedroom.
I hear that same bang again, this time even louder, before seeing Max fall to the floor.
Red. It’s splattered all over my beige carpet and I know what it is. I want to scream at the top of my lungs but I can’t. My breath is gone and it feels like there’s a person I can’t see covering my mouth with a hand to quiet me.
I want to squeeze my eyes shut but I can’t because I’m watching the big, black shiny shoes come toward my bed. It’s a man and his pants are torn where Max bit him. He’s bleeding.
His feet go still next to my head. I hold my breath so he won’t hear me but I can’t do it for long. It feels the same as when I’ve been under water too long. My body forces me to take a breath. It’s louder than I intend. I hear it so I’m scared he did too.
His feet don’t move and then the bed skirt next to my head lifts. “I see you under there,” he says and I recognize his voice. He’s that man that talks funny.
My mama has never let me meet him but I know it’s him–the man who comes here to see her at night after I’ve gone to bed. She calls him Thane. “You can come out, wee darlin’.”
I squeeze my eyes and scoot away. “Mama told me to stay here until she comes back.”
He crouches next to the bed. I still can’t make out his face but I see the bloodstain getting bigger on his pants where Max bit him. “She says it’s okay. Your mum sent me to your room to get you.”
I don’t believe this man. He’s bad. He killed my dog. “No.”
“How old are you, toots? Six? Seven?” he asks.
I back away until I’m pressed against the wall.
He doesn’t say anything for a moment but when he does, it’s loud. “Fuck! Why did that wench have to go and have a bairn in the house?” he yells in a growly voice as he kicks my bed. I’m shaking because I’m scared. I squeeze my hands over my ears because I don’t want to hear him yell.
He reaches beneath my bed and grabs my ankle, yanking me from the safe place. I have nowhere to go so I curl into a ball and wrap my arms around my head. I know what comes next. I’ve seen what bad men do. They hit.
“Oh, toots. I really don’t want to do this but I have no choice.”
I squeeze my eyes tighter and wait for the pain to come. But that isn’t what happens. He flips me to my back and presses something soft and feathery into my face so I can’t breathe.
I kick, struggling for air, but he presses it harder. I fight with every ounce of strength I have but it’s no use. He’s a grown-up and I’m only a little girl. I don’t have the strength to make him stop and I’m afraid. I’m about to die.
Then everything goes black.
Just as a rose is unable to change its color, it isn’t possible for us to alter the past. It’s only once you realize this that you’ll be set free. This sounds really lovely, like it should be a quote in a book, but what happens when you can’t break the chains clutching you to a devastating and life-altering event? No one likes to talk about that kind of ugliness.
Events in our lives shape us. There’s basically two categories–good or bad. I’m not going to touch on the praiseworthy since I’m not a motivational speaker. I want to address the ugly.
This isn’t a perfect world. Bad things happen to good people. True evil exists and it walks this earth in the form of a well-suited man wearing expensive shoes. He speaks with a charming Scottish accent and smells of liquor and sweet tobacco. My mother’s killer.
Most children are too naïve to recognize the moment they are being ruined for the rest of their lives. I wasn’t that lucky. I remember everything about that dreadful day and the memories often replay in my head–the bitter aroma of burning cookies, the smell of gunpowder floating in the air, even the vision of seeing Max’s brains splattered onto my carpet. I wish the amnesia I claimed to have would’ve stolen those gruesome memories. Maybe then this unquenchable demon with a thirst for hunting and executing wouldn’t have been spawned inside me.
That was the day Stella Bleu Lawrence died. And Bleu MacAllister was born.
I can barely recall a time in my life when I wasn’t obsessed with finding our attacker. I’ve spent years imagining the different ways he might beg for mercy as I hold a gun to his temple. These were the aspirations in my head when my mind would drift from memorizing presidents and state capitals. I never had innocent, childlike thoughts. My dreams weren’t of becoming the doctor to discover the cure for cancer or becoming the first female president; they were consumed by dark, vengeful thoughts.
For eighteen years, every aspect of my life has revolved around retaliation in one form or another, with the exception of the two pleasures I allowed myself: photography and playing violin.
Other kids took karate lessons for fun. I took Muay Thai for strength and defense skills. Girls my age enrolled in gymnastics because it’s what all their friends were doing. I became a gymnast to learn balance and agility. My fellow ballerinas liked wearing tutus. I became a dancer to master grace. I wasn’t naturally the brightest student so I excelled to the top of my class by becoming the most studious. Why? I’ve always known being the smartest person in the room would one day be my greatest tool. An intelligent person has a chance at outwitting another using a gun in place of his brain.
How does a person live this way without going mad? It wasn’t easy. But I had a confidant–my dad.
I was twelve years old when I sat Harry, my adoptive father, down and told him it was time for a talk. No, not about the birds and bees. I’m certain that would’ve been much more preferable. Instead, I described my memories of the dreadful day my mother was murdered and how I was suffocated with a pillow and left for dead.
I’d spent the previous five years claiming to have no memory of the horrid event. To say Harry was shocked to learn the truth would be an understatement. But that
didn’t hold a candle to what came next. Telling him I intended to hunt and execute Thane Breckenridge was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Harry wasn’t delighted to learn that this little girl he saved was planning a murder. I’m certain no father wants to hear that his daughter’s aspiration in life is to grow up to be a killer, especially when he’s an FBI special agent sworn to uphold the law. That’s why I had to give him an ultimatum. Some might call it an ultimatum he couldn’t refuse–either teach me how to kill or watch me attempt it on my own without any training.
It was a hell of a bomb to drop. I can’t imagine the despair he must’ve felt while hearing such a declaration. For that I’ve always been sorry. But I must have been convincing since he agreed. I suspect he went along with it in the beginning to pacify me. He probably believed a twelve-year-old girl would eventually change her mind or lose interest. Neither happened.
Once Harry saw my determination, he took precise care in teaching me how to safely blend with monsters. That’s how I plan to do it–infiltrate Thane Breckenridge’s world of organized crime.
Although I was tutored in the art of facade from an early age, Harry couldn’t prepare me for everything. Together, we decided I should briefly work as a police officer before applying for the FBI academy. He was once an instructor at Quantico so he knew all the right moves to expedite my acceptance into the program as soon as I turned twenty-three and had the proper credentials. It was a good decision since it furthered my education. Although brief, the most beneficial was the hands-on training in undercover work. I regret I wasn’t able to obtain more experience.
Being an agent taught me to think of no one as more than a profile, even myself. I’m Stella Bleu Lawrence MacAllister, former special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Memphis division. I’m a twenty-five-year-old Caucasian female with chestnut brown hair and light blue eyes. I’m five-six, weigh one hundred fifteen pounds. I’m considered attractive by most men’s standards. I lack an interest in relationships, both romantic and social. I’m emotionally cold, detached, and often display narcissistic characteristics. I’m very well aware of my thick skin and completely unapologetic for it. I’m simply inclined to not make connections or friendships with people, with three exceptions: Harry, Julia, and Ellison.