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The Cursed Series, Parts 3 & 4: Now We Know/What They Knew

Rebecca Donovan

  What If


  Reason to Breathe

  Barely Breathing

  Out of Breath


  Copyright © 2020 by Rebecca Donovan

  All rights reserved.

  Visit my website at

  Cover Designer by Hang Le,

  Editor by Elizabeth Calawa

  Proofreader by Jovana Shirley, Unforeseen Editing,

  No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

  This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  ~ Dedicated to the Warriors ~

  Fight to be heard. Find strength in love.

  Together we are not lost to silence.

  Part 3 – Prologue

  Part 3 – Chapter One

  Part 3 – Chapter Two

  Part 3 – Chapter Three

  Part 3 – Chapter Four

  Part 3 – Chapter Five

  Part 3 – Chapter Six

  Part 3 – Chapter Seven

  Part 3 – Chapter Eight

  Part 3 – Chapter Nine

  Part 3 – Chapter Ten

  Part 3 – Chapter Eleven

  Part 3 – Chapter Twelve

  Part 3 – Chapter Thirteen

  Part 3 – Chapter Fourteen

  Part 3 – Chapter Fifteen

  Part 3 – Chapter Sixteen

  Part 3 – Chapter Seventeen

  Part 3 – Chapter Eighteen

  Part 3 – Chapter Nineteen

  Part 3 – Chapter Twenty

  Part 3 – Chapter Twenty-One

  Part 3 – Chapter Twenty-Two

  Part 3 – Chapter Twenty-Three

  Part 3 – Chapter Twenty-Four

  Part 3 – Chapter Twenty-Five

  Part 3 – Chapter Twenty-Six

  Part 3 – Chapter Twenty-Seven

  Part 3 – Chapter Twenty-Eight

  Part 3 – Chapter Twenty-Nine

  Part 3 – Chapter Thirty

  Part 4 – Chapter One

  Part 4 – Chapter Two

  Part 4 – Chapter Three

  Part 4 – Chapter Four

  Part 5 – Chapter Five

  Part 5 – Chapter Six


  Everyone has a secret. It dwells beneath our skin. Settles within our bones. And weighs us down. Anchoring us to the bottom until we drown.

  And maybe that’s what we’re all doing … drowning. In our secrets. Our lies. Our hidden truths.

  We’re standing in front of each other, slowly dying. Being suffocated by the words that won’t leave our lips.

  All to protect ourselves from shame or guilt. Because we aren’t doing it to protect the ones we love. No matter what we try to convince ourselves. Secrets only tear us apart, separating us from each other.

  I’m standing on an island, surrounded by others’ secrets. And drowning in my own. Struggling every day with the isolation. Silently begging to be relieved of their weight.

  Our house was built on secrets. They tried to hide them from me … my aunts, my mother, my grandmother. But I knew when there was something wrong even if I never discovered what it was. I’d hear them whisper while I slept. The cries muffled into pillows. The doors slammed a little too hard. The voices that slipped into screams of hurt and despair.

  My father is one of those secrets. My mother kept him trapped behind her haunted blue eyes; tears slipped freely from her lashes at the mention of his existence. I don’t know what he did to her, but he never let her go, even in his absence. He is the secret that’s slowly dimming her light. Or maybe it’s me—the reminder of the love she will never have.

  But now … I may have found the key to unlocking that secret. I’m hesitant to unleash it. Can I finally release her from its cruel bind and set her free? Or will I lose what little of her he left behind?

  You broke my heart. But I let you. Over and over again.


  Brendan looks from my wide eyes to Joey’s avoiding gaze. And as if he can read our minds, he concludes, “He’s the one who pushed Allie down the stairs, isn’t he? Of course it’s him.”

  Joey shoots me a panicked look before he demands, “How do you know about Allie?”

  “He knows way too much about everything,” I explain vaguely, still in shock that I may be related to the biggest asshat in existence. Which is so much worse than learning that I could also be related to Joey or Brendan. “I need to go,” I say, rising on rubbery legs.

  Joey reaches to steady me without actually touching me.

  “I’ll walk you back,” Brendan offers.

  “I can’t go through that tunnel again.” I ask Joey, “Where are you staying?”

  “Lance’s room.”

  “Take me with you?”

  Surprise flashes across his face, understandably. I’ve been doing my best to avoid him.

  “Yeah, sure.”

  “Don’t get caught,” Brendan warns.

  “Whatever,” I mumble. Before I move toward the door, I pick up the picture of my mother and Kaden, tucking it into my pocket. The rest Brendan can have. I’ve seen all that I need to see. And most I wish I hadn’t.

  Joey checks that the hall is empty before nodding for me to follow.

  “I’ll figure this out,” Brendan says quietly before I slip out the door.

  A part of me wants to tell him not to bother. That I don’t want to know. Whatever the truth is, it’s messed up—or else our parents would have told us. They’ve kept it hidden for a reason.

  And I don’t blame my mother exactly. Either she had an affair with a married man, or the man she loved more than life abandoned her as soon as he discovered she was pregnant. Unless … Kaden doesn’t know about me.

  “How well do you know your uncle?” I whisper to Joey as we creep down the three flights to the second level.

  Joey glances at me over his shoulder, shrugging slightly.

  He refuses to speak, afraid of getting us caught. I follow impatiently until we arrive at Lance’s door, silently waiting for Joey to slide a laminated card over the lock.

  “Hey!” Lance greets his brother. “I didn’t know—” He stops as soon as I enter the room. “What’s up? Don’t tell me you’re hooking up in my room.”

  I flop down next to him on the beat-up couch where he’s holding a game controller. “Nope.”

  His room is the typical guy room, if I’m being stereotypical. Clothes are tossed everywhere. The walls are covered with sports and band posters. A neon Open sign hangs above his unmade bed. And there’s a weird smell—dirty socks mixed with cologne with a hint of stale pizza.

  “Then what’s up?”

  Joey opens the mini fridge and pulls out a beer. “Want one?”

  I shake my head. I run my hands over my face, trying to process.

  Joey sits on the other side of Lance, his empty focus directed at the paused animated figures on the screen. I lean back, resting my head on the cushion, and stare at the ceiling.

  “Is someone going to tell me what’s going on?” Lance demands impatiently. “Wait. Are you pregnant? Did you get her pregnant?”

  I raise my head to catch Joey shoot him a scathing look.

  “I’m not pregnant.” Although he’s really not that far off, considering we’re trying to figure out who impregnated my mother. “Joey, tell me about Kaden.”

  “Why do you want to know about my uncle?” Lance asks.

  Joey continues to ignore him. “We don’t see him very often. Maybe once or twice a year. He lives in London. Been in the UK since he left to attend university. We’re not close, but I know he’s a good guy.”

  “Is he married?”

  Joey shakes his head.

  “Why are you asking questions about Kaden?” Lance’s irritation continues to grow. He leans forward to intercept Joey’s attention. “Someone needs to tell me what the hell is going on!”

  I stand and begin pacing in front of the coffee table, the only space clear of clutter. If Kaden isn’t my father, then Vic’s father is. And I can’t be related to Vic. I just can’t.

  “Hellooo?” Lance persists. “What the fuck? Why does Lana look like she’s about to throw up? And you’re going to cry.”

  “I’m not going to cry,” Joey bites back. “It’s been a weird night, okay?”

  I sigh and sit back down next to Lance, handing him the photo of Kaden and my mother—utterly, disgustingly in love.

  “Is that …” He doesn’t finish, glancing from the photo to me.

  My mother and I look too much alike for him not to deduce who she is.

  “How long ago was this?”

  “We’re thinking about seventeen years,” I tell him.

  His eyebrow quirks. “Do you think … my uncle’s your father or something?”

  I shrug.

  Lance’s confusion slowly transforms to elation. “That means, you’re my cousin!” He yanks my arm and pulls me into a hug. “Yes! This is so awesome!”

  Joey clears his throat.

  Lance looks over his shoulder, still smothering me. “Oh, right. Not for you. No wonder you’re gonna cry.” Joey punches his arm. “Ow!”

  Joey stands and leans against the counter by the pedestal sink with his arms folded. “If Lana’s Kaden’s daughter, then why did Cassandra lie about Lily’s father?”

  “What does Lily’s father have to do with Kaden?” Lance asks, continuing to squeeze me as I try to wriggle out of his arms. Finally, I elbow him in the ribs. “Ow! Dammit, Lana. Why is everyone beating the crap out of me?”

  Joey shakes his head, not willing to reveal more.

  “C’mon! Don’t give me only half the information! That’s bullshit!”

  Joey silently seeks permission. I shrug in resignation. My mind is so full of jagged pieces of information, it’s shorting out. Today’s toll is starting to set in, and my body is shutting down along with any rational thoughts.

  “You have to promise not to say anything … to anyone. Not even Parker.”

  Lance hesitates long enough to be notable. This isn’t an easy ask for him, apparently. “Okay. It stays between the three of us.”

  “And Brendan.”

  “Why the hell does that guy get to know everything? You know I don’t trust him, right?”

  “I don’t either. But he knows things, whether we want him to or not, and honestly, I’d rather keep him in the circle, so he’ll share too.” It burns more than I want to admit to say this, but Brendan holds too many pieces of this puzzle to exclude him.

  “You really think he tells you everything?” Lance scoffs.

  “No. He only tells me what he thinks will help him. Everything he does is self-serving. I’ve come to terms with that.”

  “So what does this have to do with Kaden or Lily’s father?” Lance asks Joey.

  “We found paternity tests that match Damon Thorne to three kids. Two boys and a girl.”

  Lance looks even more confused, not recognizing the name. Then it clicks. “Dad’s friend? From Chicago? The guy who died on Nantucket before we were born?”

  “Yeah,” Joey breathes regretfully.

  “Maybe,” I interject.

  “What does that mean? Are you guessing he’s the father, or do you know for sure?”

  “Guessing right now,” Joey admits. “Once Brendan confirms the birthdates of the kids, we’ll know.”

  I cover my face with my hands and groan, wishing this were a nightmare and I’d just have to wake up for it not to be true.

  “You don’t want to know who your dad is?” Lance sets a comforting hand on my back.

  I shake my head. “My mother refused to talk about him. I asked where he was once when I was little, and she looked like she was in physical pain at just the mention of him. Whoever he is, he hurt her. So maybe it’s best I don’t know.” I glance between the brothers. “Is Kaden capable of that? Of being cruel or rejecting me as his daughter?”

  “No,” they reply in unison.

  “Then what the hell happened? They’re obviously in love in that picture. Did she cheat on him with this Thorne guy? Except that doesn’t sound like my mom either.”

  “Can you try asking her?” Joey requests, and from his regretful expression, he understands it won’t be easy for me.

  I sigh, dreading it. “I guess I have to if I want to know the truth.”

  I don’t mention the psycho’s messages that Brendan and I are convinced are somehow connected with her too. And now, they could potentially have something to do with my father as well.

  Lance escorts me back to my dorm after two in the morning. He leads me through a different passage than the one Brendan used to get me to his room. This one is wide, lit and … clean. The floor’s smooth concrete, and the walls are a glistening white tile. It appears to be some sort of service corridor between the two dorms. And when it leads us to the freight elevator—that conveniently has a key in it—I know that’s exactly what it is. It lets me out at the far end of the dorm, behind the kitchen.

  I am going to murder Brendan the next time I see him. He knew this option existed. He’s probably the one who told Lance about it. But he decided it was more fun to traumatize me in the claustrophobic dungeon filled with who knows what—that’s now caught and crawling in my hair.

  “You going to be okay from here?” Lance asks me.

  “I think so.” My voice is weak. I need to sleep. Maybe this will make sense in the morning. Or I’ll wake from the nightmare that I hope it is.

  Lance sticks out his hand to stop the elevator door when it begins to close. “Hey, Lana.” I turn around. “No matter who your dad is, I’ve already decided you belong with us. I’ll always look out for you.”

  I smile weakly. “Thanks, Lance.” It’s a similar promise I’ve heard from every one of the Harrisons, even Niall.

  But what are they protecting me from? The truth? It may be too late for that.

  You had the future I wanted. That I knew I deserved.

  Lana?” Grant answers after a single ring.

  “How’d you know it was me?” I ask, considering this is the first time I’ve called him.

  “I just … knew. Or maybe I was hoping.”

  The sound of his voice soothes me instantly. I didn’t realize just how much I needed to hear it after the craziness of the past twenty-four hours.

  “I’m glad you called me. I’ve been thinking about you all day. How are you?”

  I sigh. “Better.”

  “Good.” I can almost hear him smiling through the phone. “Me too.”

  My breath passes easily over my lips. He’s the calm that makes my world right.

  “I received a message earlier that I won’t be tutoring you this week. Do you know why?”

  “You did?” I groan. The peace dissipates. “Yeah, I’ve been grounded for the rest of the month. They found out that I left the Club.”

  “How?” he asks, confused. “Did someone say something?”

  “I don’t know,” I respond glumly. I haven’t given it much thought, too distracted by the paternity tests and who may or may not be my father. But now that he’s asked, it do
es seem weird that someone would have snitched. “Maybe Blackwood tracked my phone? I didn’t think about leaving it with Ashton when we left.”

  “They can do that?”

  “Probably.” I sigh. “It’s their phone. I guess we have to be more careful next time.” And then I realize I shouldn’t have said that since they may be recording this call. Or I’m just being paranoid.

  “Uh, that’s … weird. I mean, I know Blackwood’s known for their precautionary measures but to actually track you down … why would they do that?”

  That’s when I remember how much Grant doesn’t know. All that I haven’t told him. And there’s this part of me that really wants to—it surprises me. I’ve never wanted to be this honest. With anyone.

  “There’s so much I have to tell you. But I’d rather do it in person. Did the message say when I can see you again?”

  “It just said this week. But I’ll be there on Thursday to tutor another student. I could meet you in the library?”

  “Maybe,” I say, seriously considering it. Just thinking about a whole week without seeing him is already making my heart skip in panic. Which is also … weird. “No matter what though, I don’t regret it.”

  “Regret what?”

  “The other night. What we said. Everything we did,” I say. My body warms with the recollection. “It was … pretty perfect.”

  “Yeah. It was.”

  My phone beeps, alerting me of my nightly check-in. “I have to go. But I’ll talk to you tomorrow?”

  “Lana, I—”

  Before he can finish, the call ends abruptly. I pull the phone away from my ear to find the screen filled with the square head of the security officer.

  “Calls are suspended for the rest of the week. No visitors. And you’re restricted to classes only. Meals will be sent to your room. You can order through your phone. We’ll be monitoring you.”

  I stare at him with my teeth gritting in annoyance, fury creeping in. I’m about to tell him where he and his monitoring can go when he disappears. It’s official. I’m imprisoned.

  But I still don’t regret a single second of my time with Grant in the firefly field last night. I’d do it again … without my phone. I toss the phone on my nightstand and flop back onto my pillows. I want to be angry. But … I can’t. I smile wistfully. I can’t believe I’m in love with him. But I am. Tingles erupt up along my skin as I continue to grin like the idiot I am.