Unlawful Justice, page 1
Published by K.C. Lynn & K. Langston
Copyright © 2015 K.C. Lynn & K. Langston
First Edition: 2015
Cover Art by: Cover to Cover Designs
Cover Image by: Lindee Robinson Photography
Cover Models: Michael Dorr & Allyssa Bartolomeo
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the authors of this book. Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from the King James Version Bible (KJV).
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the authors’s imagination or are used fictitiously. The authors acknowledge the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication and use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
For mature audiences only (18 and older).
Contains some subject matter that may be offensive due to violence, racism, language and sexual situation. Reader discretion is strongly advised.
Note from the authors
Although you will see circumstances throughout this story that do indeed occur in real life, please note that this story is purely fictional. It has been conjured up from our imaginations. The controversial subject matter is not meant to provoke nor offend. There are some portions of the story that do not reflect our own ideas or beliefs.
You’ve been warned.
For those who seek peace and unity, this story is for you.
Table of Contents
Note from the authors
Prologue from An Act of Salvation
Prologue from Sylvie
Fate has led us here, faith will see us through.
Lying in the quiet dark, I blink, wondering what just pulled me from sleep. Before I’m able to think too much about it, my heavy eyes begin to close. As I slip into oblivion once more, another sound brings me back to consciousness. Fully alert, I listen carefully and hear it again—a rustling sound of sorts. Sitting up, I’m just about to look out of my bedside window when the sound of creaking floorboards snaps my head to the left.
I gasp and swallow back a scream when I see my pap standing in my bedroom doorway. “Goodness, Pap.” I breathe with a hand over my thundering heart. “You scared me half to death.” I quickly notice he’s holding his rifle, and my fear comes rushing back. “Pap, what’re you doing with your gun?”
“Stay here, Livy. Someone’s outside.”
“What?” I peek out my window, which faces the side of our barn, to see the door standing wide open. It’s always locked. It’s too dark to see anyone but a loud clanging noise tells me someone is in there. I immediately fear for my horse, Rosie, but even more so for Pap.
I turn back to him. “Don’t go out there. We’ll call Sheriff Dixon.”
“It’ll be too late by the time he gets here. It’s probably those same damn hooligans who’ve been stealing from all the others. I’m not gonna let those bastards destroy our livelihood like they did Cliff.”
Cliff Anderson is one of the many farmers who have been broken into lately. It’s mainly fertilizer being stolen. Local newspapers claim the thieves are using it to make drugs. However, they also set fire to Cliff’s property, destroying a good bit of his crop. I’m still not sure what the purpose of any of that was, but what’s even more frustrating is no one has been caught and the break-ins are escalating. It’s why I don’t want Pap walking out into the unknown.
“Please don’t go out there,” I plead, trying to reason with him again. “We don’t know who it could be or how dangerous they are.”
“I’ll be okay, darlin’. You go ahead and put in a call to the sheriff, but stay here. Don’t come outside for any reason, all right?”
Before I can argue more he’s gone.
“Oh, you stubborn old man,” I choke out, fear making my throat incredibly tight.
Reaching for my cell on the nightstand, I dial the sheriff’s department as I climb out of bed on shaky legs. I rush to the kitchen, and peek out the window to see Pap’s shadow creeping closer to the barn, his rifle aimed and ready.
“Harmony Falls Sheriff’s Department,” Lucy answers, her voice calm and cool, unlike my racing heart.
“This is Olivia Bradshaw.”
“Miss Olivia, is everything okay?” she asks, becoming more concerned at the tremble in my voice.
“We need help out here quick. Someone’s broken into the barn, and Pap’s out there with the rifle right now. He refused to wait until y’all got here.”
“Of course he did,” she mumbles, sharing my same frustration about Pap. She knows how stubborn he can be; everyone in this town knows it. “All right, honey, I have someone on their way. Can you—”
“Shh,” I whisper when I hear Pap start to yell.
“Whoever’s in my barn, I suggest you come out real slow with your hands up.”
I watch with bated breath to see if they will obey, all the while praying they don’t have a weapon.
“Olivia, are you still there? Can you see anything?”
“Yes, I’m here. Pap is telling them to come out. He…” I trail off on a gasp as I see two dark figures emerge. One is holding something, but I can’t tell what it is, while the other stands just out of sight behind him.
“Put the gun away, old man, or you’ll force me to bring out mine.”
“Oh God. Please hurry, they have guns, too.” My entire body shakes uncontrollably, as my fear reaches a whole new level.
“Just stay calm, Olivia. I have a car on the way.”
I can’t keep calm. I can’t lose Pap. He’s all I have left. Just the thought has my heart shattering to pieces.
“You stay where you are, and let us walk out of here with what we came for, or we’ll burn this motherfucker to the ground,” one of them yells. I tense at the familiarity of his voice, swearing I’ve heard it somewhere before.
“You ain’t stealing from me. Now put down what you have and get off my goddamn property, or I’ll shoot you!”
They don’t back down. “Just remember you were warned.”
“No!” The threat puts my feet in motion. As I rush out the back door into the dark night, the smell of
The one who tossed out the threat drops the large container in his hand and reaches in his pocket.
“PAP!” His name shreds from my throat on a terrified scream.
The single gunshot echoes into the night as icy fingers of dread grip my chest, and my knees buckle beneath me. It doesn’t take long for me to register that the shot came from Pap, as I watch one of the men fall to the ground.
“What the fuck?” His friend panics and drops the other container before taking off.
I finally find the strength to get to my feet and run over to Pap. I wrap my arms around him with a sob. “Oh God, I thought it was you. I thought they shot you.”
“I told you not to come out here, Livy, not for anything.”
“I’m sorry. I was scared for you.” I cry into his chest.
“I’m okay. I can take care of myself, you know that.” After a kiss to my head, he holds me away from him. “I’m going to check on him. You stay back.”
I nod, and watch him cautiously make his way over to the still body. My heart hammers against my chest as he leans down and checks for a pulse.
“Shit,” he curses, hanging his head.
“Pap, what is it?”
I walk closer when he doesn’t answer.
“Just stay there, Livy, you don’t need to see this,” he orders, his voice gruff with emotion.
Something about his warning has apprehension prickling my skin. I ignore his protest and move in closer. A gasp escapes me when I get a look at the lifeless body on the ground—but it’s not a man, it’s a kid.
“Oh my God.” Bile rises in my throat, and my heart plummets as I kneel down beside the boy. “I know him.”
I nod, and swallow past the knot in my throat. “His name is Jamal Jenkins. He’s a student of mine,” I whisper, as a fresh wave of tears streak down my face.
The faint sound of sirens fill the air, but it does nothing to penetrate through my heartbreak that a boy has died.
A boy who I had high hopes for.
Two days later
I sit in the living room at the Bradshaw’s farmhouse and check my watch again, wondering what’s keeping the sheriff. He should have been here by now. I hope nothing went down at the press conference, but with all the tension floating around this town since the shooting, I wouldn’t be surprised.
“My granddaughter will be right down,” Walter Bradshaw says as he walks back into the room. He takes a seat across from me in the big leather recliner and lets out a weary breath, exhaustion weighing heavily on him. “Big win for the Falcons this past weekend, wasn’t it?” he remarks, bringing up the high school football team like most people do with me.
Usually, I try to steer clear of football talk, but I decide to appease him with the light topic since shit will be getting heavy here pretty quick. “They did. That new quarterback they have is a machine. I was just telling Coach Case I think they’ll win the state championship if the kid keeps this up.”
“Yep, he’s good, but not as good as you.”
It’s something I’m used to hearing. Being the star quarterback throughout high school and bringing home the state championship four years in a row was great—when I was back in high school. But those days are long gone. And I’m not a fan of rehashing my glory days.
Thankfully, I don’t have to respond because Olivia walks into the room.
“Hey, darlin’.” Walter stands and kisses her cheek. “I’m not sure if you’ve ever been formally introduced, but this here is Deputy Taylor. I believe he graduated a few years before you. I’m sure you remember his dad from when he was sheriff,” he adds, talking about my late father.
She gives me a small smile, extending her hand. “Yes, of course. Nice to meet you, I’m Olivia Bradshaw.”
I know exactly who she is, who wouldn’t? I might not have graduated with her, but the shy country girl, who always had her nose in a book, could never go unnoticed.
Not when they look like her.
Long, honey blonde hair and big doe eyes are anything but subtle, especially when they grace the face of an angel. However, I make no attempt to acknowledge that. Instead, I grasp her hand, instantly noticing how soft her skin is.
“Nice to officially meet you, Miss Bradshaw.”
“Please, call me Olivia, or Liv, or…yeah, if you prefer Miss Bradshaw that’s fine, too.” Her cheeks turn pink as she stammers, making me smirk.
“Or Livy,” Walter adds with a chuckle.
She lets out a nervous laugh. “No, Pap, that’s reserved strictly for you.”
“I’ll call you Liv then, if that’s okay?” I like the name. It suits her.
She clears her throat and nods. “Yes, Liv is just fine.”
There’s a pause, allowing me the opportunity to steer the conversation to where it needs to go. “I’m sorry we aren’t meeting under better circumstances.”
“Me, too,” she whispers, her big brown eyes flashing with pain.
“I hate to ask more questions but we want to make sure we have all the facts straight. Sheriff Dixon should be joining us soon, but in the meantime, do you mind if I run over some of them with you both?”
“Yes, of course.” She takes a seat on the couch, and Walter sits next to her instead of his recliner, wrapping his arm around her slender shoulders. It’s clear to see the man is very protective of her. As far as I know he’s the only family she has. Her parents died when she was young. Car crash, if I remember correctly.
I take my original spot on the love seat across from them and glance down at my notes. “You previously stated you knew the victim, is that correct?”
She visibly swallows, picking at the hem of her dress. Tears gather in her eyes but she manages to not let them fall. “Yes. He…Jamal was my student.”
“Did he ever threaten you, or give you any reason to think he would do something like this?”
She shakes her head, a lone tear trailing down her flushed cheek, but she quickly wipes it away. “No, he was a good kid. Always respectful, and never got into trouble. I did notice a subtle change in him the past few weeks, but never once did I think it would lead to something like this.”
“What do you mean by subtle change?”
“It was just little things. He started coming in late for class, which was unusual for him. He looked exhausted, like he’d been up all night. I asked him a few times if everything was okay and he assured me it was. I didn’t push for more, but I wish I would have now,” she says softly, guilt thick in her voice. Those big doe eyes lift to mine. “I don’t understand why he did it. We always got along. He had to have known this was my farm.”
“I’m sure he did. Everyone around here knows this is Walter’s land.”
“I know and that’s what’s most shocking to me. It doesn’t make any sense. We had a good relationship. I can’t see why he would want to hurt me or damage our property.”
“Maybe it had nothing to do with you.”
She catches on to what I’m thinking. “You think he’s responsible for the other break-ins that occurred, don’t you?”
In the last three months there have been several thefts in the area, mostly fertilizer from surrounding farms. The thieves use the anhydrous ammonia to manufacture meth. Something that was once only common in the big cities but now is beginning to trickle into small towns all across the country. Only recently have things escalated. The fires started a few weeks back, after we arrested one of the perpetrators. He’d dropped his wallet at the scene, leaving us with his student ID card, but unfortunately, he isn’t talking.
Thankfully, the fire that had been set to Cliff’s crop was quickly contained before the flames reached any remaining fertilizer. If it hadn’t been caught in time, the place would have been blown sky fucking high, and had deadly consequences.
We have a few suspects in mind but no solid evidence against any of them. Howeve
Or so we thought.
“We’re still investigating the other incidents. But if I had to take a guess then yeah, I would assume so. Especially considering they were trying to steal fertilizer. Did either of you get a good look at the one who ran off?”
Liv shakes her head and looks to her grandfather for the answer. “Like I said before, it all happened so fast. I figure he was about five seven, maybe a little shorter.” He scrubs a hand wearily down his face. “I don’t know. They were both wearing all black and my vision ain’t so good at night no more.”
Liv lays her hand on his forearm. “It’s okay, Pap.”
There’s a courtesy knock at the front door, and I twist in my seat as Willie Dixon, the Sheriff of Harmony Falls, walks in. “Sorry I’m late. The press conference took longer than expected.”
His voice sounds as tired as he looks, I’m assuming my earlier assumption was correct and the press conference didn’t go well.
He stops next to Olivia and removes his hat. “How ya doin’, Miss Olivia?”
“It’s been tough but we’re dealing with it the best we can. Thank you for asking.” She gives him a weak smile. “Would you like a cup of coffee, Sheriff?”
“That’d be nice,” he answers as he takes the seat next to me.
“What about you, Grayson?” she asks softly. “Sorry, I should have asked you earlier.”
I wave away her guilt. “I’m good. Thanks though.”
With a small nod she turns and leaves the room.
“How ya doin’, Walt?” Leaning forward, Dixon clasps Walter’s hand in a firm shake.
“I’m all right. Still in shock, I reckon. This whole damn thing is playing hell on my conscience.”