Holding onto Hadley (Chasing the Harlyton Sisters Book 3)Jessica Sorensen
Holding onto Hadley (Part 1)
(Chasing the Harlyton Sisters, #3)
Holding onto Hadley
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Copyright © 2018 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.
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About the Author
Also by Jessica Sorensen
Thanks for reading Holding onto Hadley (Part 1)! I hope you enjoy it.
Like stated on the book’s description page, from now on, I will be publishing the series in serial-length books, but eventually the serials will be combined into full-length novel editions.
While I understand that not everyone is a fan of serials, this allows me to publish the story much quicker. If you’re not a fan of serials, I’d recommend waiting until the full-length versions are published.
Thanks for reading!
I’m sitting in a dark room. I’m frightened, shaking, and confused. I have no clue where I am or how I got here. My heart is thudding in my chest as I curl up in a corner, and the cement floor is cold against my legs. I wish I didn’t have on shorts and a T-shirt—it’s so cold. And where are my shoes?
I peer around at the stained walls, water dripping from the ceiling, and rusty chains dangling from the walls. This place is so scary, but what’s even more frightening is I can’t remember why I ended up here.
Where are my parents and my sisters? Why can’t I remember anything?
I try to remember but the last thing I can recall is heading to one of my mom’s drag races—
As a door at the top of a stairway creaks open, I shiver, hugging my knees to my chest. My body begins to shake as footsteps thud down the stairs, softly at first but then growing louder. Moments later, a man appears on the stairway.
No… Not a man. A boy around my age.
“You look frightened,” he remarks with his head tilted to the side.
It’s too dark to make out all of his features, but from what I can tell he’s the kind of boy my sisters would probably get a crush on and what I’d refer to as a pretty boy.
“I’m not,” I manage to say in an unsteady voice.
“Liar.” His lips quirk as he stops at the bottom of the stairs and observes me.
I straighten my shoulders and carry his gaze. “Nothing scares me.”
A smile takes over his face. “Well, you should be scared. My dad’s not a good guy.”
“Who’s your dad?” I ask, confused.
Instead of answering, he reaches into his pocket, retrieving a bag. “Here, I brought you some food.” He sets the bag in front of my feet and stares at me again.
I want to be stubborn and not open the bag, but I’m too starving not to. So I open it. A sandwich, chips, fruit, candy, and a few juice boxes are inside.
“Thanks,” I mutter, glancing up at him.
“You’re welcome.” His eyes sparkle in the dim light as he assesses me. “Do you know why you’re here?”
I shake my head. “I can’t even remember how I got here or where I am…” I leave the question out there, hoping he’ll answer.
His lips part, but then snap shut as the door at the top of the stairs creaks open again.
“Yeah, she’s right down here.” A deep voice flows through the darkness.
“Crap,” the boy murmurs, then takes off toward a door that’s on the far back wall. “Don’t tell him I was here. And hide the food,” he whispers to me with almost as much fear as I feel—
“Time to wake up.” Someone nudges me on the shoulder, startling me.
I blink, startled, and peer around, half-expecting to be surrounded by cement walls. But all I see are the cracked walls of the living room that belong to my home in Honeyton.
“You look out of it,” my sister Bailey says, stepping in front of me.
I rub my eyes a few times. “I feel out of it… What time is it?” I reach for my phone and instantly frown.
Great. I’ve been asleep for a total of maybe ten minutes since I returned home from Blaise’s. And now it’s time to get ready for school. I’m beyond exhausted and confused, not just with everything going on, but because of that dream… Or memory?
“Are you okay?” Bailey asks with worry.
I nod, but I’m not sure that I am.
Why am I suddenly remembering random forgotten memories of my life?
What the hell happened to me?
I hate going to my dad’s place. It reminds me that he’s rich, which reminds me of how he obtained his wealth. But I do my best not to think about that as Rhyland and I head up to my dad’s office. When we reach the shut door, I don’t knock immediately.
“You want me to knock?” Rhyland asks, giving me a worried glance.
He’s been giving me the same glances all morning, probably because he’s worried I’m going to lose my shit over what I’m about to do. But I’m just as worried about him, since my dad’s blackmailed him into doing this too. And while I want to walk away, I can’t. Not unless I want my brother Alex to get hurt.
“Nah, I’m good.” Sucking in a breath, I lift my hand and knock on the door.
“Come in,” my dad calls out, the sound of his voice making my jaw instinctively tick.
“Keep it together,” Rhyland mumbles under his breath.
I’m unsure if he’s talking to me or himself. Still, I collect myself before opening the door.
My dad is sitting at his desk when we walk in and he has a cup of coffee in his hand. He’s wearing a button down shirt and a tie, looking as if he’s an ordinary businessman. But it’s all a façade.
“Blaise, Rhyland,” he greets us with a nod of his head, setting down the cup of coffee. “I’m so glad you could make it.”
“Like we had a choice,” Rhyland mutters, shaking his head.
I throw him a warning look. I may not like my dad, but smarting off to him is never a good idea. Trust me, I have scars all over my body that prove that.
“Watch how you speak to me,” my dad warns, his gaze boring into Rhyland.
“Sorry, sir,” Rhyland bites out, his hands balled into fists at his side.
Knowing I need to get us out of here as soon as possible, I step forward toward his desk and to the side so I’m blocking Rhyland from his view. It’s a protective instinct I’ve had for as long as I can remember, a need to protect my younger brothers, which is the reason why Rhyland and I are even here. I just wish my father was only making me do this.
nbsp; “I know it’s important that we came here this morning, but we need to be at school soon, so if we could make this quick, that would be great.” I struggle to keep my tone polite, the urge to scream at him biting underneath my flesh.
My dad’s gaze snaps to me and he stares at me in a way that makes my scars burn. “You’re right. Being late for school is unacceptable, especially with it being the start of football season.”
“Do we really have to play this year?” Rhyland asks in a quiet tone.
“Yes, I have a lot of money riding on these games. Plus, I need you to keep the sons of my employees in check,” my father replies in a curt tone.
I honestly hate playing football, but what I hate even more is playing it so my dad can not only rig the games and win a ton of money through gambling, but also so we can bond with the sons of some of his more important employees. Although, I’m pretty sure half the team is being forced to play.
“Now, let's go over why I asked you to come here,” my dad says, picking up a manila folder on his desk. “I wanted to give you the details of the heist you two are going to do for me tonight.” He hands me the folder.
I reluctantly open it up and peer inside. “Who’s this woman in the photo?”
“That’s the person you’ll be heisting,” he explains. “You can look over everything later, though. Right now you need to go to school.” He dismisses us by turning his attention to the computer on his desk.
More than eager to get the hell out of there, I nod at Rhyland to follow me as I stride for the door.
“Oh and Blaise?” My dad calls out.
I tense, gripping the doorknob. “Yeah?”
“A lot is riding on this heist being successful,” he warns in a low tone. “Don’t mess this up.”
Gritting my teeth, I jerk open the door. “I won’t.”
And I’m telling the truth. While I hate doing illegal shit, especially stealing for my dad, I don’t have a choice this time.
Alex’s life depends on it.
“You’re Hadley mother effing Harlyton. You’ve got this.” I’m in the process of giving myself a peptalk as I stand in the bathroom, staring into a mirror, attempting to get my shit together before I go to school.
Just outside the bathroom, my sisters are frantically running around, getting ready. Everyone is tired, including me.
After I left Blaise’s last night, I barely went to sleep, and with all the emotional stress I’ve been under, I’m beyond exhausted. While I’d love to ditch school today, I can’t bring myself to do it. Not when I just received custody of my sisters, thanks to some papers my mom signed, which I’m still super confused about, since she passed away years ago. Still, now that I have custody of my sisters, I can’t be irresponsible. If I do, Social Services will come knocking on my door.
But with everything that’s happened and is continuing to happen, I wish I could skip a day of school and take a nap. It’d help me prepare for tonight when I have to drive down to the docks to help August Porterson do who knows what.
My gaze drops to my bandaged wrist. Beneath the bandage, my flesh is branded with the Porterson’s crest, a reminder of the debt I owe August—my father’s damn debt. And it’s not the only debt I owe on behalf of my asshole of a father. I also have to find six bags filled with drugs and money. Bags he stole from Axel Maeiriellie—August Porterson’s rival. And I have to find them within a month. Well, I have to find five of them since I know where one bag is, which reminds me…
Axel told me I was supposed to tell him the location of that one, yet he left without getting it.
I wonder what that’s about.
Not that I’m going to stress about it right now. Right now, I need to focus on finding the other five bags. But I’m feeling pretty damn uneasy I’m going to be able to pull this off.
Anger simmers under my skin as I think about how deep of a mess I’m in because of my dad. Part of me wonders if it might be easier to track him down and rat out his location so he’ll have to deal with this. I’m not a fan of being a narc, but this might be an exception. The only problem is I have no clue where my dad is or where to start looking for him, except for maybe in a bar, but I doubt that’s where he’s going to be. And the last time I saw him was a couple of days ago, when he hit me.
My gaze travels to my reflection, travels across the fading bruise on my hairline and cheek, remnants of the fight my dad and I got into. I have dark circles underneath my eyes and my wrist burns like a mother effer. I tried to put a bit of makeup on to cover up my haggard appearance, but it didn’t work very well. My long, brown hair doesn’t look too bad, though, swept to the side in a tangled mess of waves. Since I haven’t had time to do laundry, I threw on the only outfit that was clean; a black t-shirt and a pair of matching torn jeans. And yeah, I realize I’m sporting the Portersons dark clothing style, but it was either wear this or dig something out of the hamper, that will probably smell like Londyn’s sweaty soccer clothes.
Grimacing, I tear my gaze away from the mirror and head back to my room to grab a jacket. The only one I can find that’s clean is a fake leather one which also happens to be black. Since I’m really on a role I decide to slip on my black lace-up boots, figuring I might as well go all in with this whole matching the Porterson brothers look, something I have a feeling one of them is going to comment on.
Londyn pops her head into our bedroom as I’m grabbing my bag, startling me a bit.
“Hey, are you about ready to go…” she trails off as she notes my outfit. “Are you going Goth or something?”
I sling the handle of the bag over my shoulder. “Nah, I just didn’t have anything clean to wear.” I collect my car keys off the dresser. “I really need to do some laundry soon.”
“I can do it for you,” she offers, collecting her messenger bag. Her hair is done up in a ponytail and she’s sporting an athletic shirt, along with jeans and converse sneakers. “In fact, I think maybe we should all start helping out more.”
“I’ve got everything handled,” I say, stuffing my keys into my pocket.
She frowns. “Had, please don’t take this the wrong way, but you look awful.”
“Gee, thanks, sis,” I say dryly. “It’s a good thing I’m not really into my looks or that might’ve really hurt my feelings.”
“I didn’t mean it like that… I just…” She sighs heavily. “You have bruises on your face and a bandage on your wrist… And did you even sleep at all last night?”
“Actually, last night I did.” When I was at Blaise’s house. I just didn’t go back to sleep after I came home.
“You mean when you were at the Porterson house?” Her tone is a mixture of speculation and curiosity. “Because you never did fully explain why you were over there.”
I shrug. “Blaise was just helping me out with some stuff and I accidentally fell asleep.”
“Helping you out with what?”
A hurt look passes across her face. “I know you’re keeping stuff from me, but what I don’t get is why? You used to tell me stuff.”
“I do still tell you stuff,” I insist, but I’m not sure if my words are true.
Lately, I’ve turned into quite the liar. Or at least I omit the truth fairly often. But I do this to protect my sisters. This mess with my father… They don’t need to get mixed up in it. Although, I’m probably going to have to tell them a bit of the truth since, a). Amelia and Austin go to our school and I wouldn’t put it past them to say something to one of my sisters about what’s going on. And b). I need to make sure that my sisters stay away from August and Axel. But I don’t want them knowing how deep I’ve gotten into this mobster world. Well, if they are mobsters. That part has never been made clear, and Blaise seemed to find it amusing when I mentioned the word mobster.
“You know what? How about we all have dinner tonight and I’ll update you guys on a couple of things that’s been going on.” I motion for Londyn to follow me a
s I walk out of the room. “We can go out. Somewhere cheap, though.” I step into the hallway, glancing at the locked door to my father’s bedroom.
Today, when I get home from school, I’m going to pick that lock and find out what he’s hiding in his room. I also need to find a better paying job, amongst a thousand other things.
Goddammit, how am I going to handle all of this?
You’re just going to have to, Hadley. Suck it the hell up.
“Okay.” The hurt in Londyn’s eyes alleviates a bit. “Where do you want to go?”
“Let me ask around and see what’s good,” I say as we start down the stairs. “Maybe I can ask Scarlett.”
Londyn’s brows dip in confusion. “Scarlett, as in the Porterson brother’s sister?”
“Yeah, I went to lunch with her yesterday. She’s pretty cool, kind of like me.” I flash her a grin and she rolls her eyes, but smiles. “I think you’ll get along with her. I mean, she’s a lot like me so…” I shrug.
“Okay, well, how about you invite her to eat lunch with us sometime so we can get to know her.”
“I’ll see if she’s down for it.” As I reach the bottom of the stairway, my phone vibrates from inside my pocket.
I dig it out as Londyn squeezes by me and heads into the kitchen. Once I see who the message is from, I’m glad Londyn isn’t close enough to see it.
August: Just a reminder about tonight. Don’t be late and don’t forget the package. I’ll message you when it’s time to open it. And remember, you have a lot riding on this.
“Fuck,” I mutter underneath my breath.
“Uh oh, she’s already swearing,” Bailey remarks from behind me. When I turn around, she grins at me, but then frowns. “What’s wrong?”