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Black Escape, страница 1

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Black Escape
 

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Black Escape


  Black Escape

  A Kelly Black Affair

  CJ Thomas

  All rights reserved.

  Copyright © 2018 CJ Thomas

  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 permission in writing from the author and/or publisher. No part of this publication may be sold or hired, without written permission from the author.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are a product of the writer’s imagination and/or have been used fictitiously in such a fashion it is not meant to serve the reader as actual fact and should not be considered as actual fact. Any resemblance to actual events, or persons, living or dead, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.

  The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication / use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.

  [email protected]

  About the Author

  CJ lives in the Green Mountains of Vermont. You can find CJ skiing, hiking, and spending time with family when not typing away on the latest hottest read.

  Connect with CJ:

  [email protected]

  Black Escape, Book Description

  The pressure was on.

  Madam used District Attorney Oscar Buchanan to get to me. My efforts to outsmart them both quickly turned against me. They were too clever and I was betrayed by the people closest to me.

  Kelly did his best, but it was never enough.

  Our frayed relationship was on edge and, when Madam needed something Kelly had, it was up to me to choose the future I wanted. Saving Kelly was never a question. All I wanted was for me to be free and for Kelly to find peace within his own heart. Except he refused to hand over his secret, so I paid the price.

  When I thought our relationship was over for good a familiar face revealed himself, proving, once again, that nothing was as it seemed.

  Contents

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Chapter 39

  Chapter 40

  Chapter 41

  Chapter 42

  Chapter 43

  Chapter 44

  Chapter 45

  Chapter 46

  Chapter 47

  Chapter 48

  Chapter 49

  Chapter 50

  Chapter 51

  Chapter 52

  Chapter 53

  Chapter 54

  Chapter 55

  Chapter 56

  Afterword

  Also by CJ Thomas

  Acknowledgment

  1

  Kendra

  My jaw locked.

  I waited for a response.

  Then the line went silent.

  I paused and held my breath. Instead of being reassured that everything would be okay—that I could get through this without any more damage to myself or others—all I could hear were the sounds of my thrashing heart telling me that this was it. Each beat, a constant reminder of what it was I should fear and why I should never have let Kelly out of my sight.

  “Maybe this was a bad idea.” My words slurred.

  The vodka had since seeped into my veins, thinning my blood into a dizzying array of terror and courage. I counted each of his voiceless breaths coming through the line as I stared into the sharp blue eyes of LA’s district attorney, Oscar Buchanan.

  “Have you been drinking?” His voice finally came through the line.

  I blinked and cast my gaze to the spinning floor. “I’m fine. Have Giselle tell Kelly that, too. I don’t want him worrying about me.”

  “Kendra,” he sighed, “I know you’re with the DA.”

  My eyes swept up off the floor and fell to Oscar’s silver hair. My heart continued to pound as I tried to make heads or tails of how Drake knew so much. Oscar slid both hands inside his pockets and strode across the floor, making his way toward me. “Just make sure Kelly knows that I’m all right.”

  “Watch your back,” he said. Then the line went dead.

  Taking one last glance at the display screen, I didn’t want to know how someone like Drake Goodman—someone I barely knew—knew all he did, or why he insisted he could help. But it was clear he knew something. Perhaps too much. It left me with a queasy feeling that made me think something bad was about to happen. As far as how he could help, I wasn’t sure that he could.

  “Miss. Are you okay?”

  A slender hand landed on my shoulder, causing me to jump. I rolled my eyes over to the hostess and nodded. Unable to look her in the eye, I felt my face pale. The pitter-patter against my ribs slowed and my blood stopped moving yet, somehow, I was still standing.

  Shaking it off, I lied, “Yeah. I’m fine.”

  Tucking my phone away inside my clutch I floated across the floor, meeting Oscar halfway. Glancing over his shoulder, he had a table for two reserved in the back. Candle light flickered and cast long shadows over the wooden table.

  I watched as his hands pulled from his slacks and clamped their fingers around my arm slightly above the elbow. Every ounce of living energy inside me froze as he leaned in and kissed both of my cheeks. “Talking on your cell before a date.” His head angled to the side. “I hope you told Mom not to expect you tonight.”

  Pulling my brows together, I glared at him. “Kelly will kill you when he finds out I’m with you.”

  Oscar’s lips tugged into a sharp grin. “We’ll just see about that.”

  He stepped to the side and placed his right hand to the small of my back. There was something missing about this restaurant. It felt empty and alone. The air was absent of chatter and the clanking of silverware. The air was cold, keeping my skin prickled with discomfort.

  Oscar nudged my hips forward as I dragged my feet over the floor.

  Stepping to the table, Oscar remained a gentleman and pulled my chair out for me. Lowering myself to the seat’s edge, I glanced to the side and found myself staring into the beady eyes of his paired security.

  Oscar rounded the table and dropped into the seat opposite me. Bringing his hands to the table top, I watched him lace his fingers together as flashbacks to our first date played behind my eyelids. I could still hear him telling me that lawyers couldn’t be trusted—that I should watch myself when around Kelly Black. I had just met Kelly and had been the first time meeting Giselle. It seemed like forever ago since then, bringing me back full circle.

  A waiter in a white coat arrived. “Mr. Buchanan, your wine.”

  “Excellent.” Oscar kept his sparkling eyes on me.

  The waiter drilled into the cork and popped
off the top. He poured each of us a glass as a young woman came from the kitchen with freshly baked bread and churned butter.

  “Your dinners will be out shortly.” The man nodded before turning around and disappearing to the front.

  Fidgeting with my hands beneath the table, I couldn’t get comfortable. I sucked back a tiny sip of wine before quickly placing my glass in the exact spot I’d taken it from. I knew Oscar was grinning because of me, but I still hadn’t had time to process everything that happened to me today.

  Leaning forward, Oscar smirked. “Kelly is powerless, Ms. Williams.”

  I held my breath and stared into his stone-cold eyes.

  “In fact, it would be in your best interest to just forget about him.” He held my stare for a long pause before reaching over and taking a slice of bread for himself.

  The candles flickered like a cold breeze had just passed over them. Steam rose from the bread basket and scents of salty butter filled my head with promises of a decent meal.

  “You can’t honestly expect me to brush him off to the side so quickly, can you?” I took my wine glass by the stem and curled my lips over the rim.

  It was the same song and dance he and Kelly had always played. The only difference was, this time, the stakes were higher. My contract with Kelly was finished and I had since learned the reason Madam decided to hire me in the first place, and it wasn’t to complete Alex’s contract. No. I was obligated to pay down my uncle’s outstanding debt. Not to mention the very obvious fact that Madam had set me up with Kelly’s sworn enemy on purpose. My stomach dropped with the sudden realization that I wasn’t convinced Kelly had the power to save me this time around before something bad finally did happen to me.

  Oscar chuckled and glanced to the window. “A little piece of advice.” He flicked his eyes back to me. “The quicker you get on with your life, the easier it will be.”

  “Who says I ever stopped living it?”

  He nodded as the crinkles around his eyes deepened. “Things aren’t what they seem, sweetheart.”

  I sipped more of my wine. “Never are, are they?”

  Oscar chewed his bread and swallowed it down. “Kelly has been telling you lies—”

  “—and you’re here to set me straight.” I gave him an arched look.

  He gave me a knowing look and snickered.

  Through the window, I could see Jerome standing at the hood of his car with his arms crossed over his chest. His eyes were hidden behind his sunglasses, but I knew he was keeping a keen eye on the entrance. Then there were Oscar’s armed men hiding behind expensive suits and with so few employees on the wait staff tonight, I could only assume that they, too, had been added to the growing payroll of Madam’s expanding empire.

  Oscar continued to stare and I couldn’t stop thinking about what Alex had said. Just hearing her mention the DEA knocking on her door, sitting her down to talk, had shivers shooting down my spine. Even if they were only going after Madam, I knew that eventually their inquiries would make their way to my doorstep.

  But what did Oscar know, and where did his loyalties lie? He had me convinced that he was in business with Madam, but was it true? Or did he have an agenda of his own?

  I straightened my spine and folded my hands on top of the table. “You want to know what I think?”

  One brow lifted high on his head.

  “I think tonight’s date was born out of revenge.”

  His eyes flashed with a sense of amusement dancing over his irises.

  “You don’t still believe that Kelly stole me from you at that first date, do you?” I leaned back, taking my glass with me. “Just so we’re absolutely clear, I chose him and will choose him again.”

  His eyes grayed as I watched him push back from the table. Picking up his chair, he swung it around and sidled up next to me. Keeping a close eye on him, my chest squeezed tight. Laying his hand on my thigh, my bones shivered in his grip. Tucking my hair behind my ear, he murmured, “No, sweetheart. This isn’t revenge. You were mine all along.”

  I squeezed my eyes shut when he pressed his lips against my cheekbone. His hand wedged between my thighs and I stopped it before going any deeper. Then he put his mouth close to my ear and whispered, “I was the one who watched you from afar. I protected you when danger was near. And I made damn sure nothing bad became of you. You’ll see soon enough just how perfect we are.”

  Locking my arm at the elbow, I tightened my grip around his wrist. “I’ll never give myself to you,” I growled, peeling his slimy hand off of me.

  Oscar laughed and brought his chair back around the table. Sitting down, he said, “I heard about the eventful afternoon you had.”

  My eyes watered as I glared up at him from under a curtain of lashes.

  “Make no mistake, Ms. Williams. Jerome should have shot him.” His eyes hardened and dulled. “Ended this petty drama once and for all.”

  Grinding my teeth, I said, “You mean, kill him like you did Mario?”

  Oscar leaned back with nostrils flaring. “I’ll forgive you this once. I understand you’re grieving. Tonya was a lovely woman, but never insult me again. Is that clear?”

  Dropping my gaze, I brushed my bangs off my brow. “This isn’t about her.”

  “Oh, yes, it is, honey.” He smirked. “This has everything to do with Tonya.”

  The hair on my nape stood on end at hearing his hidden threats. The confidence he had to instill fear over me chilled my very bones. He knew just what to say and how to say it to get me to feel the danger creeping in.

  But it was the knowledge I held close to my heart—the same information I knew he wasn’t aware I held—that would get me through the night. It was important I remembered that, because getting back to Kelly was priority Number One. I would do whatever it took to make sure it happened.

  Smells of cheesy pasta dishes and tomato sauce lofted through the air. Oscar laid a cloth napkin across his lap and thanked the waiter for the food before turning to look me in the eye. “Enjoy tonight, sweetheart,” he winked, “because soon you won’t be seeing the light of day without Madam’s permission.”

  2

  Kelly

  The room was dark as I stared down the unopened, newly purchased bottle of aged bourbon. It caught the light shining through the window and glowed like fossilized amber, tempting me into cracking the seal open.

  Silence swirled around my head but, inside, the chatter of voices only grew louder.

  I wanted to make it stop but couldn’t. Again, I replayed what happened inside my mind, wishing that I could go back and change the outcome of today.

  Inside, I was empty without Kendra. I couldn’t stop looking at the selfie she’d taken, the one she’d purposely snapped to remind me of what it was I’d lost.

  My chin hit my chest in defeat. Blowing out a shaky breath, I knew I had to get her back.

  When my eyes opened, I shifted my gaze back to the picture of Nora and Patrick. My eyes hooded with exhaustion as renewed feelings of depression took hold. Soon, tears prickled behind my lids and I retreated further inside my pounding head. Feelings of guilt kept me shackled to the endless swirl of anxiety and I didn’t know what to do or how to escape.

  The day’s stubble rubbed my palms raw as I tried to hide from my reality.

  Loneliness kept my feet glued to the floor and, without thinking, I reached for my pistol.

  The metal was cold to the touch. It was still loaded with the six bullets I’d reserved for Madam. But it would only take one to end my misery now.

  A fresh set of tears streamed down my cheeks as I dropped the pistol and took the picture of my family between my hands. “I’m sorry, Nora, baby. This is all my fault.”

  Her forgiving smile reflected back but did little to shed the immense feelings of shame pulling my shoulders down.

  “If I would have known, I would have stopped it,” I cried.

  My eyes drowned in my own sorrow as I gripped the frame tighter. Soon, my arms began to shake,
and no matter what I said, it would never bring my family back. Madam was out to murder me when she got to Patrick. I should have been the one buried six feet deep. Not them. Me.

  Clenching my teeth, my chest rose and fell through heavy breaths of air. Wiping my face dry with the back of my hand, my tears were replaced by an uncontrollable anger unlike anything I had felt before.

  Feeling my blood begin to boil, I glanced back to the bottle. It lured me in once again, telling me I had nothing else to lose.

  One sip to get me past the betrayal.

  Another to erase the feelings of deception.

  And the last to give me the courage to finally hunt down Madam and end her miserable life.

  Pushing away from the desk, I threw my head back and screamed at the ceiling. The pictures on the wall shook as I stood and paced around the room, stealing glances over my shoulder of the alcohol I wanted to drink so fucking bad.

  It was time for revenge. Madam deserved what was coming for her. If only I had shot Jerome first, then, maybe—just maybe—Kendra would be with me now. Guide me into making the right decision.

 
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