Authors: Jessica Sorensen
Tags: #review, #New Adult, #Romance
“I’m not sure I can do this,” I tell the women in leather standing in front of me. I’m sitting in a warehouse, surrounded by boxes, men in the distance waiting to hear the gun shot go off, waiting for my death. “It’s too dangerous. And besides, putting my family through all of that… it’s not right.” Although, I probably don’t real care about anyone in my family but 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 was hired to do. “Death can be liberating Layton,” she says¸ checking the amount 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 Dellefontes, two weeks since she ran off, two weeks where I thought we were going to get away with what we did. But then I was caught.
And now I’m here, about to die.
“You don’t really have a choice, do you?” Solana asks, the person hired to kill me. The problem is I’ve known her for a little while which has led us to this little pre-murder chitchat, which has given 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 on her face that I can she’s disgusted by whatever she’s going to say next. “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 you than me.”
“Solana.” I try to keep my composure, because emotion doesn’t go well with Solana. The woman is dead inside, but that’s what she was trained to be. “I’ll do this, but only if you promise not to kill Lola.”
Solana cocks her head to the side, considering what I said. Then she raises the gun at me. “Fine, I won’t kill her, but I might have to bring her close—you know how these things go.” Her lips curve upward, the only smile I’ve ever seen on her face. But it looks wrong, like she’s not even sure what emotion she’s feeling and just does the gestures. “Now close your eyes.”
I do what she says, shutting my eyes, 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 girl I’ve loved forever. And it’s what makes the sound of the gun going on just a little more easier.
I’m a dead woman on the run, a shitty life, but then again my life was never full of rainbows and sunshine. Smiles. Time spent being peacefully oblivious to the danger the world holds when lives center on 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 it. 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 put my life at risk because of it, since the day I was born. And there weren’t just risks either, but secrets. Drugs.
. Death is the worst in my opinion, especially when you cause it, which I did, and now I’m paying for it. It kills me everyday, what I did, the man’s life that I took and I don’t think I’ve even fully dealt with it yet, too focused on running, which makes it easier to stay in denial.
Run away from your problems.
“Lola, you can’t keep going on like this,” my Aunt Glady tells me on the phone, which she tells me every time I check in. She’s my mother’s sister but doesn’t remind me of my mother at all, which is good because I don’t think I’d be able to talk to her as much, the painful reminder too great. “Going into hiding isn’t going to do you any good.”
“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 you’re life is in danger,” my Aunt Glady says. “But you’re father will protect you.”
“My father caused this. Because of him, I have blood on my hands,” I snap bitterly as 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, empty, just like my soul.
“I don’t know exactly what happened back in Boston,” my Aunt Glady says. “Since you won’t tell me, but I know for a fact that your father will protect you know matter what.”
“I don’t want his protection nor do I trust him at all.” Don’t trust anyone. Layton had told me this.
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, a few clothes. Anything more would be too much. “I don’t want anything from my father ever again.” It’s the truth. Something inside me died the day I killed a man to save my father. And that part seems to be connected to my emotions. For the most part, I feel nothing anymore. Emotionally detached. I feel nothing but this hollowness inside me.
“Fine, but you still really need to go home even if it’s just for a day or two. You can do it discretely—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 a couple of months ago, but today you’re being extra pushy so what gives Glady? Fess up. You’ve never been good at keeping secrets anyway.”
She sighs heavy heartedly. “Lola, do you ever check in at home… with anyone?”
Lying down on the bed, I squeeze my eyes shut as a feel a ping of homesickness, not for my father, but for the few people I did care about. My few friends, a couple of my bodyguards,
. “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 ping 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—miss everything about him. Even though I still have no idea where his allies stand, I can’t forget about him stepping in and shooting someone for me, not can I forget all the years we were friends.
It’s been two 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. I thought about contact him a few times, but 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 Dellefontes and is still around Boston, then I know for a fact the Dellefontes are watching him like a hawk to get to me. They know—everyone does—that Layton and I have history and 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 just tell me. What ever it is just spit it out.” I open my eyes and stair up at the dingy ceiling. The place I’m living in is a real dive, but being extravagant isn’t an option anymore. Blend in. No credit cards. Cash only, which means I have to earn the cash and I’m discovering that I’ve lived a very lucky, sheltered life. Minimum wage sucks, but I do what I have to do to survive, working two jobs—one as a waitress at a strip club and I also work the night shift as a cashier at the local gas station In Rapid Falls.
“I’m so sorry, Lola,” she whispers hoarsely, about to cry. “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 utters. “But Layton… he’s gone.”
Invisible fingers wrap around my neck as 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, breathless as I slowly sit up in bed. “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.”
Breath in. Breathe out. Dammit, Lola. Breathe
. “I still don’t believe you.” I swallow the lump in my throat as my heart thumps unsteadily inside my chest. I don’t know what I feel—pain yes, that’s a given. But there’s something else, something much deeper and it makes me realize something about Layton and I. About my feelings for him, so much stronger than I’d ever thought. “I can’t be true. There’s no way.”
But I know it could very well be true. The world we both grew up in makes death easy and living hard. I should have said so much more to him 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. Helped me when I’d frozen 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!
My 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 and I squeeze my eyes as tears burn. My lungs have forgot to function, but my heart is overly functioning, pounding, thrashing, battling the pain with it’s 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 Dellefontes men,” she says quietly. “I guess the had put a hit out on him a while ago for something… I’m not quite sure why—you’re father was really vague on the phone.”
“No, there’s no way… Layton is smarter than that… He would have ran from Stefan Dellefontes if he had put a hit on him.” The pain spreads through my body, blazes like fire, hot, scorching, burning me form 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 Dellefontes men that night. My fault. All my fault.
“I saw the obituary in the paper,” she says in a gentle voice. “And an article about the Everett’s losing another child to the drug war going on. I’m sorry honey, but it’s true.”
I start to tremble, shake with rage, pain, heartache. I can’t get oxygen into my lungs, 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 after we made the kill a war would break out with my family and it could also fall back on the Everett’s… I knew yet I still ran.”
She’s quiet for forever, probably because she probably 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 call.
God, it hurts so much, more than when I killed someone. I want to curl in a ball and 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?”
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 they’re with my mother before she died.
“Hold on. Let me look. Although I’m not even sure what I’m looking for…” She trails off and I think
. “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. “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 lay back down and just go to sleep. Things would be so much easier if I did. Shut my eyes and never open 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 that man walking up to your house to give you your mail he so kindly picked up from you mailbox.”
“Jesus, how could I be so stupid,” she mutters under her breath. “I should know better.”
“It’s an easy mistake to make.” I look out the window at the clouds covering the sky and showing the land. “And you’re not used to this kind of stuff.”
“Still… why do you think they’re here…” She pauses, then exhales. “
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 anymore.”
“Lola, I want to help—”
I cut her off. “Bye Glady. 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 can, knowing it’s what I have to do to protect not only myself, but the ones I love.
Everything single part of my body aches, like my bones are splintering apart, my lungs shriveling—dying and taking my heart right alone with it. It feels like I should be crying, but instead I feel cold. Numb. I want to get revenge. Track down Layton’s killer and kill him myself. I wonder if I could do it? Kill again. If I was this dead inside them maybe.