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Sins & secrets 2, p.1
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       Sins & Secrets 2, p.1

         Part #2 of Sins series by Jessica Sorensen
 
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Sins & Secrets 2


  Sins & Secrets 2

  (Sins & Secrets, #2)

  Jessica Sorensen

  Contents

  Prologue

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  About the Author

  Also by Jessica Sorensen

  Sins & Secrets: Part Two

  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: jessicasorensen.com

  Cover design: MaeIdesign

  Created with Vellum

  Prologue

  Layton

  “I’m not sure I can do this,” I tell the woman in leather standing in front of me.

  I’m sitting in a warehouse, surrounded by boxes, while men in the distance wait to hear the gun shot go off, anticipating my death.

  “It’s too dangerous. Besides, putting my family through all that … It’s not right.” Although, I probably don’t really care about anyone in my family, except my brother Benton. The rest can go to hell.

  Solana paces the floor, a gun in each hand, appearing as though she’s going to shoot me at any given moment. It’s what she has been hired to do. “Death can be liberating, Layton,” she says, checking the number of bullets in each gun. “You should embrace it.”

  “I’m not you, Solana,” I tell her, shifting my weight. My hands are tied behind my back, the box beneath me starting to sink from my weight. It’s been only a couple of months since Lola and I shot the Defontelles and she ran off. Two months that I thought we were going to get away with what we did. Then I was caught.

  Now I’m here, about to die.

  “You don’t really have a choice, do you?” Solana asks.

  The problem is, I’ve known her for a while, which has led us to this little pre-murder chitchat and gave me second thoughts about the whole damn thing.

  “Death is the only way out of this.” She lowers her voice. “We’ve talked about this already.” She pauses in front of me, glancing at me with a look that tells me she’s disgusted. “Besides, think of Lola. If you stay alive, you know as well as I do that they’ll make you kill her.”

  “But if I die, you’ll kill her.”

  “Better that I kill her than you, right?”

  “Solana …” I try to keep my composure because emotions don’t go well with her. The woman is dead inside, but that’s how she’s been trained to be. “I’ll do this, but only if you promise not to kill Lola.”

  Solana cocks her head to the side in consideration. Then she raises the gun. “Fine, I won’t kill her … but I might have to bring her close to death. You know how these things go.” Her lips curve upward, the only smile I’ve ever seen on her. It looks wrong, like she’s not even sure what emotion she feels. “Now close your eyes.”

  I do what she says, counting my heartbeats, my pulse steady as a rock. I’m doing this for Lola. To protect her. To save her. Because I love her … more than anything.

  The last thing I picture is Lola’s beautiful face, her smile, her gorgeous eyes, the taste of her lips, the feel of her body. The girl I’ve loved forever. It’s what makes the sound of the gun going off just a little easier.

  Chapter 1

  Lola

  I’m a dead woman on the run, which I’m quickly finding out is a shitty life. Then again, my life was never full of rainbows and sunshine, smiles, or time spent being peacefully oblivious to the danger the world holds when lives center around money, wealth, and power. There is so much danger that comes with putting those three things first, even when you’re not technically the one seeking them.

  My father is one of those men who wants it all and will do almost anything to get it. The problem is, he’s always putting my life at risk because of it. Furthermore, there weren’t just risks, either, but secrets. Drugs. Death.

  Death is the worst, in my opinion, especially when you cause it, which I have, and now I’m paying for it.

  It kills me every day—what I did, the man’s life I took. I don’t think I’ve even fully dealt with it, too focused on running, which makes it easier to stay in denial.

  Run.

  Run.

  Run.

  Run away from your problems.

  “Lola, you can’t keep going on like this,” my aunt Glady tells me over the phone, something she tells me every time I check in.

  She’s my mother’s sister, although she doesn’t remind me of my mother at all. That is good, because I don’t think I’d be able to talk to her as much. The painful reminder would be too much.

  “Going into hiding isn’t going to do you any good,” she continues.

  “Are you sure about that?” I ask with the disposable phone pressed to my ear, the kind that are harder to track and easier to replace. “It might have saved my mom if she’d done it.”

  “Honey, I know you think your life is in danger, but your father will protect you.”

  “My father caused this,” I snap bitterly. “Because of him, I have blood on my hands.” I peer out the window of the apartment I’ve been staying in for the last two months. It’s in no way my home, but it’s fitting. Cold and empty, just like my soul.

  “I don’t know exactly what happened back in Boston since you won’t tell me, but I know for a fact that your father will protect you, no matter what.”

  “I don’t want his protection, nor do I trust him.”

  “Don’t trust anyone,” Layton’s words ring through my mind.

  I move back to the window and sink down on the bed. It’s one of the few things I have at the moment: a bed, a pillow, and a few clothes. Anything more would be too much to pack around.

  “I don’t want anything from my father ever again.” It’s the truth. Something inside of me died the day I killed a man to save my father, something that seems to be connected to my emotions. For the most part, I feel nothing. Emotionally detached, I only feel this hollowness inside of me.

  “Fine, but you still really need to go home, even if it’s just for a day or two. You can do it discreetly. No one will have to know.” There’s something in her voice this time that makes me wonder if she’s keeping something from me.

  “Why are you pushing this so hard?” I ask. “I mean, I know you’ve been pushing me to stop running since I took off, but you’re being extra pushy today, so what gives, Glady? Fess up. You’ve never been good at keeping secrets.”

  She sighs. “Lola, do you ever check in at home? With anyone?”

  Lying down on the bed, I squeeze my eyes shut as I feel an ounce of homesickness; not for my father, but for the few people I do care about. My few friends, a couple of my bodyguards, Layton …

  “No, it wouldn’t be smart. The people looking for me … I’m sure they’re watching the people I’d contact.”

  “What about …? What about Layton? Do you ever talk to him?”

  The ounce of homesickness erupts into straight-up heartache.

  “No, he’s the last
person I can contact,” I say, a hint of emotion sneaking into my tone.

  I miss Layton. I miss everything about him. Even though I still have no idea where his allegiances stand, I can’t forget about him stepping in and shooting someone for me, nor can I forget all the years we were friends.

  It’s been a couple months since Layton and I parted paths that cold night in front of my house. The night he kissed me with desperation then told me to run for my life after we’d both committed murder.

  “Run away. It’s the only way you’ll survive this. Run away and never look back. It’s what your mother should have done,” were the last words he said to me.

  I thought about contacting him a few times, but I can’t seem to bring myself to do it, knowing it’d be a stupid move. If Layton hasn’t gotten in trouble with Frankie and the Defontelles and is still around Boston, then I know for a fact the Defontelles are watching him like a hawk to get to me.

  They know—everyone does—that Layton and I have a history. There are so many times I relied on him for help.

  Like that night.

  My aunt stays silent for what feels like an eternity. The longer it goes on, the more I realize that, not only is she keeping something from me, but it has to be something extremely bad.

  “Glady, whatever it is, just spit it out.” I open my eyes and stare up at the stained ceiling.

  The place I’m living in is a real shithole, but nice places aren’t an option anymore. Blend in. No credit cards. Cash only, which means I have to earn the cash, and I’m discovering I’ve lived a very lucky, sheltered life.

  I work two jobs; one as a waitress at a strip club and the other as a night shift cashier at the local gas station in Rapid Falls. Minimum wage sucks, but I do what I have to do to survive.

  “I’m so sorry, Lola,” she whispers hoarsely. “But Layton … Layton died about a week ago.”

  At first, I think I’ve heard her wrong.

  “Huh? What are you talking about?”

  “I’m so sorry, sweetie,” she whispers. “But Layton … He’s gone.”

  Invisible fingers wrap around my neck. It feels like the wind is knocked out of me. As emotions battle their way to the surface, it feels like I’m being stabbed with a thousand needles. Pain. Blinding. Aching.

  No, it can’t be true.

  “I don’t understand,” I say breathlessly as I slowly sit up. “There’s no way that could be possible.”

  “I’m so sorry. Your father called and told me a couple of days ago to see if I could come out for the funeral … I think he hoped I’ve been talking to you, so you would come home. I would have called you sooner, but since I don’t have your number, I had to wait for you to call.”

  Breathe in. Breathe out.

  Dammit, Lola. Breathe.

  “I still don’t believe you.” I swallow the lump in my throat as my heart thumps unsteadily.

  I don’t know what I feel. Pain, yes, that’s a given. But there’s something else, something much deeper. It makes me realize something about Layton. About my feelings for him. That they’re so much stronger than I ever wanted to believe.

  “It can’t be true. There’s no way.” But I know that’s not true. The world we both grew up in makes death easy and living hard.

  I should have said so much more the last time I saw him. Like, thank you for saving me, for being my friend, even though we weren’t toward the end. For stepping in when it all came down to it.

  He helped me when I froze during the kill and almost got myself killed, instead. He saved my life, and I never got to properly thank him.

  And now it’s too late.

  God, no, no, no, no, no! Don’t let it be true!

  Aunt Glady sighs again. “Denial isn’t the way to go. Trust me; it’ll only make this more painful.”

  “I’m not in denial.” My voice wavers. I squeeze my eyes as tears burn through. My lungs have forgotten how to function, but my heart is overly functioning, pounding, thrashing, battling the pain with its erratic rhythm. “I’m just …” I suck in a large breath of air. “How? How did he die?”

  “He was shot … by one of the Defontelles’ men. I guess they put a hit out on him a while ago for something … I’m not quite sure why. Your father was really vague.”

  “No, there’s no way. Layton is smarter than that. He would have run from Stefan Defontelles if he put a hit on him.” The pain spreads throughout my body; blazing hot, scorching, burning me from the inside.

  If this is true, then it’s my fault for freezing up and forcing him to step up and kill two of the Defontelles men. My fault. All my fault.

  “I saw the obituary in the paper,” she says. “And an article about the Everetts losing another child to the drug war. I’m sorry, honey, but it’s true.”

  I start to tremble, shaking with rage, pain, and heartache. I can’t get oxygen into my lungs. I can’t get my heart to settle down. Part of me wants to die right here and never move forward in life again.

  “This is all my fault … I never should have left him that night. I should have begged him to come with me when I ran. I knew a war would break out with my family, and it could also fall back on the Everetts. I knew, yet I still ran.”

  She’s quiet for a long time, probably because she has no idea what I’m talking about. “I’m sorry … Maybe you should come here for a while. Come visit Uncle Shelton and me. We’d love to see you, and you’d be safe here.”

  “I’ll be found if I go there.” I press my fingers to the brim of my nose as I curl up into a ball.

  God, it hurts so much … more than when I killed someone. I want to die.

  “Honey, no one’s going to come looking for you here. We’re out in the sticks. Hardly anyone knows we live here.”

  “Are you sure about that?”

  “Of course.”

  I exhale and shake my head before I open my eyes. “Do me a favor and look out your window.”

  “Okay … But why?”

  “Just do it.”

  I wait, attempting not to picture Layton lying in a pool of his own blood, but it’s all I can see. Blood everywhere. Blood on my hands, like the night I took a life.

  “Lola, I don’t see anything,” Glady tells me with confusion.

  “How about to the left, out in the woods beside your house?” I know her house like the back of my hand, having spent many summers there with my mother before she died.

  “Hold on. Let me look. I’m not even sure what I’m looking for …” When she trails off, I think, Jackpot. “Wait, I think I see someone out there. Hold on … Okay, it could be just a person camping or something, but … Okay. Weird. They ran off when I waved.”

  I sigh tiredly then force myself to sit up. “Don’t worry; I’m sure it’s just one of my father’s men. They won’t hurt you.”

  “But why have I never noticed before?” she wonders aloud. “If they were here, I should have noticed.”

  “You weren’t looking before,” I explain as I stand up. Every part of my body groans in protest, wanting to lie back down and just go to sleep. Things would be so much easier if I did shut my eyes and never opened them again. “I’m guessing they’ve been there on and off since I ran away. I’ve actually been suspicious for a few weeks now when you told me that weird story about the man walking up to your house to give you your mail he so kindly picked up from your mailbox.”

  “Jesus, how could I have been so stupid?” she mutters. “I should have known better.”

  “It’s an easy mistake.” I look out the window at the clouds covering the sky and shadowing the land. “And you’re not used to this kind of stuff.”

  “Still … Why do you think they’re here?” She pauses then exhales. “He thinks you’re going to come to me for help.” It’s not a question, but a revelation about my father. “Lola, just how much trouble are you in? Please, just tell me what happened. Maybe I can help.”

  “It’s better if you don’t know,” I tell her then swallow hard. “In fact,
I think it’s probably better if I don’t call you anymore … I don’t want to bring you into this mess.”

  “Lola, I want to help—”

  “Bye, Glady,” I cut her off. “I love you.”

  I hang up before she can say anything else. Then I pull the battery out of the phone and toss it into the garbage, knowing it’s what I have to do to protect, not only myself, but the ones I love.

  Every single part of my body aches, like my bones are splintering apart. My lungs feel like they are shriveling and dying, taking my heart right along with them. It feels like I should be crying, instead I feel cold. Numb.

  I want to get revenge. I want to track down Layton’s killer and kill them myself.

  I wonder if I could do it. I wonder if I could kill again. If I was this dead inside, then maybe.

  Go back.

  Stay.

  Run.

  What the hell should I do?

  So many emotions flare through me. Hot, potent, like the night I killed. It’s too much. Life is too much. I want it gone.

  Shut it down. Just shut it down. I don’t want to feel the pain of death again.

  I was able to do it before, when I killed. This time, however, no matter what I tell myself, no matter what I refuse to feel, Layton is dead and that fact in itself hurts more than anything else I’ve ever experienced. The guy I grew up with, who made me smile, who protected me from everything, even myself; the guy who told me he loved me and I couldn’t say it back is gone forever.

  I could have loved him, but now I’ll never know. I wouldn’t even let him kiss me. God, if he was here again, I’d let him kiss me a thousand times.

  As that thought repeatedly replays in my head, I feel a part of myself die.

  I know I’ll never be the same, that part of me died right along with him.

  So, I do the only thing I can.

  I run, refusing to look back.

  Refusing to ever feel anything again.

 
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