Knowing you, p.1

Knowing You, page 1

 part  #2 of  Cursed Series

 

Knowing You



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Knowing You


  What If

  THE BREATHING SERIES

  Reason to Breathe

  Barely Breathing

  Out of Breath

  THE CURSED SERIES

  If I'd Known

  Copyright (c) 2017 by Rebecca Donovan

  All rights reserved.

  Visit my website at rebeccadonovan.com

  Edited by Elizabeth Calawa Cover design by Regina Wamba of MaeIDesign & Photography

  Proofread by Grey Ink Book design by Inkstain Design Studio

  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.

  ISBN-13: 978-0-9995349-2-2

  Prologue

  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

  Acknowledgments

  About the Author

  The truth is the truth. It is never wrong. It's not always what you want it to be. It can be profound and enlightening. Or it can be ugly and brutal. But it will always be the truth.

  But it's not. Not really.

  We each have our own twisted version of the truth, tainted by perception. And sometimes, it's all we have. So we guard and protect it with unwavering belief, even if it's a lie.

  And my truth is Trust killed my grandmother.

  My grandmother raised me. My mother had just graduated high school when I was born, and she still lived at home with her sisters. She didn't need to take care of me all of the time. Or even some of the time. My grandmother was going to have a say in how I was raised no matter what. She had an opinion about everything, and let anyone know it. So, maybe my mother just gave up and let her have me.

  In my grandmother's house, you either needed to shut up and do what you were told or be as stubborn and loud as she was. My aunt Helen and my grandmother could be heard halfway down the street in a rage of stubbornness. Whereas my mother and Aunt Allison slammed a lot of doors in their silent obedience. I'm a blend of the two. My words were never shouted but were definitely damaging. My stubbornness had every crack in the corner of the kitchen memorized by the time I was seven, having been forced to stare at the wall for hours at a time--my grandmother's favorite punishment when I openly expressed my will.

  Despite everything, she was the most important person in my life. There was something about us being cursed with Trust and Honesty. We needed each other. She knew I'd always tell her the truth, regardless how brutally delivered. And I trusted her with my life. But beyond our walls, the world was filled with liars, thieves and murderers. Every life experience held a lesson to be learned. And my grandmother was the most passionate of teachers. No matter how many times I'm forced to learn the hard way, the lesson is always the same.

  Trust no one.

  Everyone lies.

  You can only save yourself.

  There once was a girl named Thaylina who lived in a tower. And even though it was old, and the frigid air seeped in through its cracked stones, she loved the tower because it was home.

  The girl was watched over and protected by a wise and powerful sorceress, who raised her as her own. The sorceress instilled Thaylina with wisdom so she would not be fooled by the ways of the world.

  I'm already awake when they come in for morning call. Sleep is next to impossible in a room filled with girls tossing on squeaky springs. Besides, I was too wired from the night before to sleep. Watching a girl being pushed down a flight of stairs and getting arrested for something you didn't do can make anyone fear closing their eyes.

  I climb off my bunk, pulling the covers over the pillow in one motion. After slipping on my issued slippers, I shuffle toward the bathrooms with the rest of the groggy girls, mumbling and yawning.

  I can feel her slide in step next to me before I see her.

  "Look who it is."

  I keep my eyes on the spindly hairs sticking out the braid on the head in front of me. It's too fricken early for this bullshit.

  "Can't stay away, Lana?" And her mouth just can't stay shut. "Did you finally kill someone?"

  I whip around just as her claw reaches out to grab my hair. My fingers wrap around her wrist, and a foot sweeps her legs out from under her. My knee is on her chest before she can inhale. Panic sweeps across her dark eyes as she fights for her next breath.

  "Stay the fuck away from me, Sienna," I growl, an inch away from her teary face.

  I'm up and walking away in less than a minute, blending in with the line of girls who didn't give us a second glance. A guard hollers, "Hey, what's going on up there?" I'm already in the bathroom by the time she reaches Sienna.

  After a brief shower, I'm ushered to the cafeteria for breakfast. I'm not hungry, so I grab a plastic cup and fill it with water. I find a table in the far corner and sit. And because I'm so welcoming, not a single person sits next to me. Exactly how I prefer it.

  I watch. Figure out who's in charge. Who's afraid. And who's a bitch just to be a bitch. I recognize a few faces, besides Sienna's. But they ignore me. The only ones who pay me any attention are the curious ones. The ones who haven't been told who I am or why they should stay away.

  The first time I was here two years ago, I learned quickly that the only way to stay out of the drama is to be bigger than the drama. To let them know I don't give a shit what anyone thinks about me. But if anyone touches me, I will retaliate. And it will painful ... for one of us.

  I only had to send a couple girls to the hospital in need of stitches and a splint to be left alone. I also earned a certain amount of respect when it became obviously apparent that I'd never say a word or give anyone up. I can't believe I'm back here, having to deal with all of this bullshit again. All because I couldn't risk revealing the truth.

  I hate my curse.

  I sense someone standing across from me, and lift my head to find one of the counselors looking down at me from the other side of the empty table. "Your lawyer's here."

  Wordlessly, I stand and follow her. Halfway down a long corridor, she opens the door to the visitors' room. The lines of rectangular tables and seats are vacant. The tall man draped in a finely tailored dark gray suit stands in the middle of the room, waiting for me. After he demanded I be transported to juvie last night, he told me he'd see me in the morning. But I never really expected him to show up.

  Niall Harrison offers a gentle smile, his eyes creasing in concern. "Hi, Lana." This man doesn't belong in this room with me. It feels as wrong as finding a sleek Mercedes in a used car lot.

  I don't move closer as the door clicks shut and the lock slides in place behind me.

  "Where's Dwight?" I ask, referring to my court-appointed lawyer who's been representing me since my "public disturbance" a couple years ago.

  "Home, I assume."

  "Why are you here?"

  "To help you."

  "Why?" I can't help but be cynical. There's no reason for him to be here.
Not one.

  "I want to," Niall states plainly.

  "I can't afford you."

  "That's not an issue."

  "Why are you doing this?" His evasiveness is starting to get to me.

  "My sons are concerned about you. They came to me separately and asked that I represent you. As did your mother."

  I don't move. "How do you know my mother?"

  "Why don't we talk?" He pulls out a chair. When I remain still, he says, "At least sit down so we can review the charges."

  My issued slippers scrape against the linoleum with each step. He waits 'til I'm seated across from him before lowering into the blue plastic bucket chair across from me. I slump back, pressing my knees against the table with my arms crossed over the red jumpsuit.

  "As of right now, they're only going to charge you with possession and trespassing."

  "Trespassing?"

  "You were identified at the Oaklawn Country Club."

  I roll my eyes. Of course I was.

  "I feel certain I can get those charges dismissed. I'm most concerned about the potential obstruction charge in relation to the armed robbery of the convenience store. I was informed that they may also charge you as an accomplice. I haven't been provided with the police report yet, so I need you to fill in the details and tell me what happened."

  I sink further into the chair and stare silently at him.

  "Please, Lana. Let me help you."

  I don't say a word.

  Niall presses his lips together and inhales deeply through his nose.

  I know I'm testing his patience, but the last person I want representing me is Parker and Joey's father. Not just because it's them, but because they're so wrapped up in the truth of this that I can't confide in their father. I don't even think it'd be legal for him to represent me if he knew of their indirect involvement.

  "Dwight can handle this."

  "Dwight still represents you. He and I are working together on your case. But right now, I'm the one who's here," Niall explains calmly. "I was able to fast track your case and get the probable cause hearing moved to this Tuesday. I'm going to request that the court release you into your mother's custody, but with your previous arrests, and the pending armed robbery charges, that's very unlikely." Hardened lines form around his mouth as he contemplates his next words.

  "What?" I demand, dreading the worst.

  "A girl called into the station last night, claiming that a friend of hers was pushed down a flight of stairs."

  My feet fall to the floor with a heavy thump. Niall's brow creases at my inadvertent reaction.

  "Why are you telling me this?"

  "An officer I know personally informed me that the suspect described sounds a lot like you. The detectives assigned to the case want you to come in for questioning."

  I don't respond. I try not to react. But his bright blue eyes stay on me, absorbing the tension in my jaw and flicker in my eyes. I can't risk letting this man see through me.

  "Do you know anything about it? I would hate to be blindsided by this later if I agree to bring you in."

  "What happened to the girl? The one who was pushed down the stairs?" I ask, my chest tightening.

  "She's in a coma," he explains solemnly. "They're not sure if she'll make it."

  All of the air is sucked out of my lungs as I fold forward, setting my hands on the table to keep myself upright. Parker said she was okay. Did he lie? Or did he not know how badly she was hurt?

  "She regained consciousness briefly after she was brought in and started calling out for ..." Niall's reads directly from his notes, annunciating each word with a hint of confusion. "My. Fairy. Princess."

  He glances at my shaking hands. I yank them off the table and cross my arms tightly against my chest again.

  "I won't tell them anything if you bring me in. So don't even bother."

  "They don't have much to go on. The caller never came in. So I'll decline the interview request for now." Niall's voice is careful and calm. "Lana, you have to tell me something about the armed robbery. I promise that everything you say will remain between us. Dwight doesn't even have to know if you don't want him to. No one will hear the truth if that's what's best."

  I study him as he studies me, wondering if he'll still hold this promise if his loyalty is tested. Loyalty to his family. Loyalty to Vic's family. All to save me, a girl he doesn't even know. He focuses on me with fierce sincerity, a sort of intense protectiveness that I've never had directed at me before.

  "I can tell you what happened at the convenience store, but I can't tell you the name of the guy with the gun."

  "It's going to be difficult to prove you didn't have anything to do with it if I can't give them the name of the person who did," he explains, frustrated by my terms. "Why do you insist on protecting him?"

  "It's not him I'm protecting. It's everyone who was with me that night."

  Niall leans back and stares at the papers in front of him, a contemplative expression on his face. The conviction reflected in his eyes when they turn back up to me makes me very aware of why he can afford that suit. It's the look of a man who knows exactly where the lines are and how to cross them without taking a step.

  "Tell me what happened inside the store. Nothing about before you entered. Or after. Only the details of the robbery itself."

  I take a deep breath and do something I've only done a few times in my life--and I don't mean tell the truth, because that's the only thing I can do. This time, I tell the entire truth, and only because it won't make a difference. I'm so used to keeping the details to myself because most of the time, people can't handle unabridged honesty. But today, Niall Harrison hears exactly what happened inside the dingy convenience store ... every second.

  And when I'm done, he steeples his fingers and presses them against his lips, contemplating my options.

  "You left together?" he asks.

  "Yes."

  "Got into the same vehicle?"

  I hesitate before answering, but since he doesn't know who else was in the car, I respond. "Yes."

  "He still had the gun while you were in the vehicle?"

  "Uh," I stumble, not sure how to respond since Nina ended up taking it from him. I shrug evasively. "He had it when we entered the car."

  Niall's mouth turns up slightly, aware of my creative truth. "Okay." He's quiet for a long time, his thoughts trapped behind the unwavering stare directed at his notepad. Niall lowers his hands and takes a breath before fixating on me with the same intensity. "Without a name, you'll most likely be found guilty of obstruction. But, we can make an offer to plead that out."

  The next thing he says lights a fire in my gut. "You should name him, Lana."

  "Why?"

  "To protect yourself," he says firmly. "Especially since you weren't a participant in the robbery."

  Anger lashes up my throat and out my mouth. "And what about everyone one else who was in that car with me? Am I supposed to just forget about how this could screw up their lives? To what? Snitch on someone who will never be convicted?"

  "Why would you say that?" he asks, his brows furrowing. "We have him on tape. You're a witness. Everyone in the car saw you leave together, so they can confirm his identity as well."

  "But we all covered it up. Even if no one knew exactly what happened, they knew something did. I won't bring them into this." I clench my fists. "So no, I won't name him."

  Niall lets out a long breath. "You're not making this easy on me or yourself."

  "What are you getting out of this?" I implore impatiently. "Does it have to do with my mother? How do you know her?"

  Niall's face remains expressionless. "I want to help you, Lana. The life you've been given ... It's not your fault. You don't belong in here."

  "What does that mean?" I demand.

  Niall continues as if he didn't hear me. "I made a few calls this morning, and if the judge agrees, you may be transferred out of here." I lean forward in anticipation. "But you won't be going home
." My head cocks to the side, like I didn't quite hear him right. "You should be allowed the opportunity for a better life, away from all of this. A chance you won't be given in a detention facility."

  "What are you talking about?" I ask. "Where are you planning to send me?"

  "I still need to work out the details, so I'd rather not say right now."

  I eye him suspiciously, hoping I didn't just make a mistake by allowing him to represent me.

  "It's your only option, Lana ... if you want any sort of a life outside of prison." Niall closes the file and slides it into a leather attache case. "In regards to Allison Pixley, the girl in a coma, say nothing. If you're formally charged, that'll mean they have more evidence, and then you'll have to talk to me. But only then."

  I consider nodding but fear the small movement could be taken as a sign of admission.

  Niall pushes his chair back and stands. He's quiet, looming over me, focused on my face for a second too long. I notice a small muscle tick in his jaw.

  "I promise to continue doing everything I can to protect you." And without another word, he walks away and knocks on the window of the metal door, letting the guard know we're done.

  Beneath the tower lived a beast with silver eyes and long sharp fangs. His true form could only be seen at night. For when he stepped out into the daylight, he was wrapped in an enchanted cloak, disguised as a man. A falsehood that attracted women with sweet words and alluring charm.

  "Keep the door open."

  I shoot a strained smile at the cop standing guard outside my door, biting back a comment about what he can do with the doorknob and a certain body part. "Sure."

  "You have fifteen minutes," he tells Nina and Tori before they enter. It comes out as a directive, like he's straight out of boot camp.

  "What's with the babysitter?" Nina asks, winking at him.

  Tori blatantly ignores him, too focused on the half-packed bags splayed out on my floor. "Why are you packing?"

  "Are you seriously going to stand right there?" I bark at Officer I-Still-Live-With-My-Mother, making a point to fold a pair of lacy thongs that don't really need folding. His face flushes. He takes a few steps into the living room, out of view, as I knew he would.

 
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