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Sins & Secrets 3

Jessica Sorensen

  Sins & Secrets 3

  (Sins & Secrets, #3)

  Jessica Sorensen


  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  About the Author

  Also by Jessica Sorensen

  Sins & Secrets: Part Three

  Jessica Sorensen

  All rights reserved.

  Copyright © 2016 by Jessica Sorensen

  This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The author holds exclusive rights to this work. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.

  No part of this book can be reproduced in any form or by electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer who may quote short excerpts in a review.

  Any trademarks, service marks, product names or names featured are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if we use one of these terms.

  For information:

  Cover design: MaeIdesign

  Created with Vellum

  Chapter 1


  Layton Everett. Layton. Layton. Layton.

  “He’s supposed to be dead … I don’t understand,” I whisper to myself as I pace the floor of my living room.

  I keep the lights off as I change into a hoodie, jeans, and boots before pulling my hair into a ponytail. My bags are packed and waiting by the front door, my money and IDs in them. I should leave right now, walk away, yet I can’t stop thinking about Layton.

  He’s here and alive. I know for a fact I saw him. I’m desperate to find out, desperate to see him again, desperate to understand why in the hell Aunt Glady told me he died eighteen months ago.

  Desperate. Desperate. Desperate. And that desperation is keeping me in the living room instead of moving me toward the closest cab If I stay here long enough, I know Frankie’s men will find me. Then what? I’m not sure why they’re here, but it can’t be for a good reason.

  With my gun in my hand, I peer out the blinds, looking down from my second story window for any signs of mafia men lurking around. Nothing except cars in the parking lot and darkness. Not a single person in sight.

  “Fuck. Shit. Fuck.”

  I need to see Layton again. Otherwise, it’s going to haunt me.

  I do something I thought I’d never do again. I dial my aunt Glady’s number, hoping she can enlighten me, but her line has been disconnected.

  “Dammit!” I kick the wall then huff out a few frustrated breaths. I wait about ten minutes longer in the silence of my home then give up and force myself to leave.

  Staying here means getting caught. Getting caught means God knows what. I can try to get ahold of Aunt Glady when I get somewhere safe.

  Even though it kills me, I collect my bags and head toward the back door, taking measured steps. As I’m reaching for the doorknob, I hear voices from the other side.

  Son of a bitch.

  I back away with my gun out in front of me. My other hand clutches my bags.

  When someone starts banging on the door like they’re going to break the damn thing down, I whirl around to run … and slam into a rock-solid chest.

  It’s dark, so I can’t see the person’s face, yet I can tell by the height and build it has to be a guy. Instinctively, my knee shoots up and collides straight between his legs.

  The guy hunches over, grunting in pain. “Goddammit, Lolita!”

  I almost drop my gun. Fall to the ground. Stop breathing.

  I do end up losing ahold of my bags.

  The men are still slamming against the back door, making a shitload of noise, but it seems quiet, my body hitting some kind of eerie calm.

  “You’re alive.” My voice is a whisper.

  The moonlight casts across Layton’s face; his strong features, his silvery eyes looking black, but I can picture their real color. I have it memorized.

  “Of course I am. You didn’t think I’d let the Defontelles get me that easily, did you?” He winces as he straightens.

  “But Glady said … She said …” I shake my head. “You were dead. Eighteen months ago, she said my father told her you—”

  Someone crashes against the door so forcefully it rattles the entire apartment. I jump straight into Layton, more skittish than normal. I think it’s from shock.

  “It’s okay.” He steadies me. “We’re going to get you out of here, Lolita.” He calls me by my real name, which used to bother the shit out of me, but right now, I couldn’t care less.

  He’s here.

  Wait? How is he here?

  Something snaps inside me, breaks like a rubber band, the only thing that was holding me together.

  “Why are you here?” My voice is off-pitch as I nod my head in the direction behind me. “And them, too. What the hell does Frankie want with me? I always thought it would be the Defontelles.”

  Layton glances over my shoulder then looks me directly in the eyes. “We need to get you out of here.” He slides his hands down my arms, and then grips my wrists, caressing the skin like he used to. I feel safe even with all the danger around me. Completely safe. Completely at home.

  Completely alive.

  Then it hits me like a ton of bricks, slamming into my stomach and knocking the wind out of me. I thought he was dead all this time, and I was hurting more than I want to admit. And it was all for nothing. All that pain … for nothing?

  “Wait a minute.” I attempt to wiggle my hands out of his. I need answers, like why he’s here and breathing.

  He only grips tighter and forces me to follow him into my room, scooping up my bag in the process.

  “You need to tell me what’s going on.” I continue to struggle to get free, but Layton is stronger than me. “Layton, I thought you were dead … None of this makes sense.”

  “I know. And it’s been killing me for the last eighteen months—I swear it has—but it needed to be done.” His eyes plead for me to understand. How can I, though, when I have no clue what’s going on?

  I try to read him, but it’s too dark to see what’s really going on inside those eyes, what lies behind all the sadness. I used to be able to read him better, but he’s purposefully shutting me out.

  A cool breeze abruptly gusts through a broken window.

  “Did you break in here?” I glance down at the glass on the floor.

  The corners of his lips quirk up, and for a second, his old, playful attitude slips through. “How do you think I got in? Walked through the walls?”

  Without warning, he gets behind me and shoves me forward.

  I stumble and land on the bed then scurry to my feet and whirl to face him. “I’m not sure what’s going on, but you better start—”

  A crash from inside the apartment makes both our eyes widen, and the grip I have on my gun tightens.

  “Out the fucking window now, Lolita,” he demands, pushing me again. “I promise, when we get someplace safe, I’ll explain everything.”

  When my back hits the wall right beside the window, I elevate my gun at him. There are so many things I want to say to him, but the footsteps and voices move closer. I know I have a choice to make; just like I did when Frankie took me to that warehouse two years ago and showed me the video of my father: let my father die or kill someone. I chose to kill, and right now, I’m choosing to trust Layton enough to jump out the window.

  Spinning around, I tuck my gun into the back pocket of my jeans, tug the hoodie over my head, and without any hesit
ation, jump out into the night. It’s not a far fall, so it doesn’t hurt that much, but I do lose my balance and end up falling on my hands and knees.

  As I scramble to my feet, someone falls to the grass beside me with a loud grunt. Once I’m upright, I spin around and hold my gun steady.

  “Okay, start talking,” I demand as Layton gets up, holding my bag. I know we’re not in a safe place right now, but I still don’t trust him.

  When I left, Layton was working for Frankie, and it was never explained why. For all I know, this could be another kidnapping trap. Perhaps he is luring me into the shadows so the rest of the men can get me. Or maybe he’s the one sent here to make the hit on me.

  “Oh, God … Are you here to get me?” I stumble back from him. “Are you the one who was sent to put the hit on me?”

  His lips part in shock. “What? No.” His expression swarms with perplexity as he matches my steps, stealing back any distance I attempt to take. “Look, I’ll explain in the car.” He extends his hand for me, but I jump back and skirt out of his reach. He frowns. “Lola, you can trust me. Deep down, you know that.”

  I shake my head, looking around the empty parking lot. “You have to give me something. I haven’t seen or heard from you in nearly two years. I thought you were dead, and then you suddenly show up with them.” I swing my gun up toward the window where Tony Madman Makafee, a man who aided in my kidnapping and tranquilized me, is looking out the window at us.

  He raises his gun as Layton’s fingers enfold my arm before he takes off toward a car parked near the street, the sound of gunfire chasing us.

  “Does it seriously look like I’m with them, Lolita?” He hunkers down behind a car, pulling me down with him.

  I peer over the hood where Tony is climbing out the window himself.

  He’s right; he can’t possibly be with them.


  “Okay, then,” he says, cupping my chin in his hand and forcing me to look at him. “Trust me.”

  Having no other choice, I do exactly what he says, hoping I’m not making a huge mistake, praying that the Layton I’m with now isn’t the Layton working for Frankie but the one I’ve known all my life.

  The one who would do anything to save me.

  Chapter 2


  I can’t stop staring at him. He’s here and alive. He’s breathing; his solid chest rising and falling beneath his grey shirt. His eyes look full of life as he watches the street and drives toward the unknown, his grip firm on the steering wheel. He looks just like I remember—sexy as hell with his dark, messy hair; tattooed body; and long, lean arms. Although his hair is the slightest bit longer, his jaw a little scruffy, and his eyes carry even more darkness. Whatever he’s been up to for the last two years has taken a toll on him.

  “Do you still have the tongue ring?” I ask, rotating in the seat to face him.

  His gaze slides toward me, and the intensity burning in them makes me miss a breath. Instead of answering me, he slowly sticks out his tongue. When the silver stud glimmers in the moonlight, I bite down on my lip.

  “I’m still the same person, Lolita. Nothing’s changed except for the fact that I don’t work for Frankie anymore. I don’t work for anyone.”

  “And that I thought you were dead.” I don’t mean to sound bitter, but I do. “That’s different now. You seem like a ghost to me … Not even real.”

  God, he’s actually real. Right here with me.

  I start to choke up over it, but then I shove it down and bury it. I’m not ready to go there yet.

  “Everyone thought I was dead,” he explains in an emotionless tone, returning his attention to the road. We’ve been driving for about an hour. In what direction, I’m not sure since I’ve been too distracted to pay attention to anything except Layton. “Even my parents. They still do.”

  “Why? Why would you fake your own death? It doesn’t make sense.”

  “It doesn’t?” he questions.

  I start to think of reasons someone would fake their own death.

  “To escape. To disappear,” I say. “Why not just run away?”

  He’s quiet, his breathing deep, as if he’s battling to get oxygen into his lungs. When he finally does look at me, I can tell he’s on the verge of losing it.

  “You remember how you were always asking me about why I started working for Frankie?”

  I nod. “Yeah, it never made sense to me, not when he was our enemy. At least, I always thought so.”

  “You’ve always thought that?” he questions with doubt. “That the Catherlsons and the Everetts were enemies?”

  “Yeah … Well, except for the day my ….” I swallow the massive lump rising in my throat as tears start to well in my eyes again. It’s been too much of an emotional day. I need to get my shit together. “The day my mother died and you guys got into the SUV with Frankie. I was so confused … And honestly, I felt betrayed. But, ever since then, it never seemed like it was a problem, not until a few months before … before I was kidnapped and you suddenly started working for him.”

  “I had to,” he tells me through clenched teeth. “I didn’t have a choice, Lola. You have to believe that.”

  “If that’s true, then tell me why,” I practically beg, needing to know in order to trust him.

  He shakes his head, looking as though he’s in physical pain. “It’s so much more complicated than just telling you why I did it. It has to do with so much shit that’s happened since we were fourteen.” He turns the car off the road and into a gravel parking lot, pulling off to the side of a rundown motel where we are hidden.

  I sit up. “You mean, since my mother died?”

  He doesn’t answer right away. He puts the car in park then turns off the headlights. “Come inside with me, and I’ll try to explain it to you the best I can. But let me just say, I don’t have the answers to everything. I’m still trying to figure stuff out myself.”

  “How do I know you’re not here to kill me?” I ask, eyeing the sketchy looking building. There’s not a person in sight, and it’s eerily quiet. Not to mention, the thick forest within walking distance that’s convenient for hiding bodies. “How do I know that I’m not going to walk into that room and be bombarded by the Defontelles? Or maybe you’ve taken me here to shoot me … make it a discreet kill.”

  He gives me a tolerant look. “And why the hell would I do that?”

  “To get yourself off the hook with the Defontelles.” I shrug, drawing off my hood and glancing around the area. “Honestly, I can think of a ton of reasons. And I have to be careful … You know how these things work.”

  We exchange a look of mutual understanding. Cautiousness and paranoia have been bred into us since we were born. Otherwise, we probably wouldn’t be alive in this moment.

  “I understand you need to be careful. It’s good that you are.” With that, he moves his hand around the back of him and takes out the gun tucked into the back of his pants. He gives it to me then reaches down to his boots to retrieve his other weapon—a switchblade.


  Wait, boots?

  Something dawns on me.

  “You were there that night, weren’t you? That night with Tenner? You came storming in and pretty much …” Saved me from getting raped.

  He gives me his knife, his fingers grazing my palm and sending a shiver down my spine. The good kind of shiver. One that gets my blood pumping in a way it hasn’t done since I took off.

  “I’ve been around a lot … Been watching you for the last couple of weeks.”

  I shut my eyes for a moment, just to see past the emotions stirring inside me, ones I felt when I thought he died. Ones that are hard to feel. They’re so potent and go against everything my mother tried to instill in me.

  “How did you find me?” I ask, opening my eyes. “I thought I was being careful.”

  “A lot of searching,” he says, stuffing his hand into his pocket and taking out his brass knuckles, giving me the last of his we
apons, giving me all the power. “I would have found you sooner, but you’re a hard person to locate. Which is good. You did exactly what I wanted you to do. I just wish you wouldn’t have gone to work for someone who knew who you were.”

  “I didn’t know he knew,” I protest. “I thought he was just … Well, a pimp pretty much.” It feels so weird talking to him about this.

  “I know that, but …” He rakes his hands through his dark hair. “If you would have stayed away from that type of business, it would have never happened.” He isn’t making eye contact with me, staring out the window at the forest, instead.

  “Does it bother you that I messed up?” I ask. “Or that I was working as an … an escort?”

  He shuts his eyes and inhales deeply, gripping the steering wheel tightly. “You know both of them bother me. You’ve known how I feel about you since we were eighteen.”

  When he opens his eyes, I expect them to be full of emotion, but they’re empty, like mine have been for the last two years.

  I try to find words that will make him feel better and end up sputtering out, “I didn’t have sex with any of them.”

  “Really?” He doesn’t seem convinced.

  I nod. “I mean, I did stuff.” Shame washes over me. “But I had a choice when I first started working there … A choice of how far I’d let a guy go with me. And I said no sex.”

  “Oh.” A mixture of emotions cross his face, but he doesn’t utter a damn word.

  “You’re the only guy I’ve had sex with,” I continue to ramble, not knowing what’s wrong with me tonight, other than maybe I’m too stressed out. I’m not usually this chatty.

  “That night at the club … when we …” He trails off, clearing his throat. “Your first time should’ve been better than that.”

  “Maybe, but what’s done is done.” I have to catch my breath as I remember all of the memories from that night, both good and bad. “Now please stop changing the subject and tell me how you’re here and alive.”