Authors: J. L. Baldwin
Bulletproof Series Book One Point Five
Keep the Faith
(Bulletproof Series Book 1.5)
© Copyright 2016 J.L. Baldwin
Published by J.L. Baldwin
© Cover Designer: Clarise Tan of CT Cover Creations
Photo: Stock Photo by Shutterstock
Proofreader: Judy Zweifel
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, including electronic or mechanical, without written permission from the publisher, except in case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. It may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return it to the seller and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the author’s work.
J.L. Baldwin 2016
Copyright © 2016 J.L. Baldwin
All rights reserved.
Table oF contents
This is dedicated to everyone who very much enjoyed the first book. You made that little girl from a small country town with a big dream very happy. Because of your love for book one, she was able to complete a novella before continuing on with book two. Blessings to all of you.
It wasn’t too long ago I found out my whole family had been built on lies. Selfish, petty, deceitful lies. Daddy told me he would never go away and leave me, Jayde and Mommy behind. There was one time I used to believe everything Daddy would tell me. Every lie, every little miniscule event leading up to the very day he betrayed us all was just something I could never forgive him for. Jayde, unintentionally, witnessed it all. The day our father died will forever be engraved into her beautiful baby mind for the rest of her life.
After our father died, I became a wiz on trying to figure out what happened and why our neighbor, Mr. Cole, decided to take my father’s life. Oh, I’m not naïve. I knew it was Mr. Cole and it didn’t even have to take Jayde to tell me because I knew beforehand. Mr. Cole, being the strange man he is, always gave me a creepy feeling. There was not a time where I wanted to be outside by myself and he was outside too. Whenever Jayde and I would be outside playing, I would look over and catch him watching. His eyes were always so full of hate and anger.
Jayde’s mischievous giggles filled the air. “Sarah! Come on and find me! I bet you can’t,” Jayde yells from the other side of the yard. It’s only been a three months since our mother took off into only god knows where. If you ask me, it’s good riddance. Jayde’s getting ready to celebrate her seventh birthday and she doesn’t need that nonsense in her life. We have Uncle Roger and Aunt Clara. They are all we need nor would I want to change it.
“I bet you I can!” I take off running, pretending like I’m searching all over creation for my little sister. Hide and go seek is her absolute favorite game and even though it gets highly annoying to play, we play it anyways because I know it makes her happy.
Ever since Aunt Clara and Uncle Roger took us in, it’s been so much fun hanging out, riding the horses, and just being around their farm. We love it here. The laid back farm life, already on top of the southern atmosphere, is paradise. Nobody should ever want to move away from here. Their farm sits on about a hundred acres of wide open field, with plenty of room for riding. An activity I picked up on quickly and got pretty good at it too. Jayde is quickly picking up on riding too. A tan colored mare who she named Buttercup is quickly becoming her favorite.
“Oh come on, Sarah! You can’t find me!” Jayde says excitedly as she zig-zags across the yard unaware that I can see her. The back yard is big but not too big to where I can’t see her chocolate curls blowing in the wind. God, I love that little girl. I may be fifteen but I grew up in the past year. Everything changed and Jayde has become my best friend.
Off in the distance, the sun is beginning to set along the trees. Just past those trees and across several highways, I know the big blue ocean is there, calling us to bask in all its glory. The salty sea air mixed with the country farm life is the perfect combination. Aunt Clara always wanted to live in a place like this, and when she met Uncle Roger and found out he wanted the same thing, there was no further argument. They both settled down here in Charleston and never thought about it again.
Clara walks out on the front porch, holding a bowl as she stirs something magical. Probably her world famous chocolate chip cookies. Nothing in the world beats the smell of Aunt Clara’s homemade chocolate chip cookies.
“Girls! It’s almost dark so it’s time to come in now,” she yells from the porch. Periodically, Clara would look down and check the consistency of her batter and smile knowing it’s looking more and more like her usual.
“Jayde, it’s time to go in now!” I yell out with no response.
“Don’t worry Aunt Clara, I’ll get her,” I reassure Clara. With a smile, she takes her leave back into the house. Walking back towards the back of the back yard, I search for Jayde. She isn’t by her usual spot behind the chicken coop. Hmm, that’s strange. Tiptoeing around, being as quiet as a mouse to not startle her, I get around behind the shed and that’s when I see her down at the bottom of the hill looking out into the pond. Being my bratty self, I fully intend on scaring the ever loving crap out of her but think better of it when I get a little closer to her and see her whole body shaking.
“Jayde? Sis, what’s wrong?” I settle down beside her and pull her onto my lap and that’s when the dam opens up and she cries harder. Trying to coddle her the best I can, I just let her open up to me.
“I miss Mommy and Daddy.” She says in her fit of cries and I barely register what she says through her weeping.
Throwing my jacket around her, I cuddle her as close to my body as I can. I knew this day was coming but wasn’t expecting it to come so soon.
“I know you do, sweetheart, I miss them too. But I keep telling myself Clara and Roger love us very much and they will take very good care of us. You have to believe that too.” Jayde nods then wipes her nose on the tail of my jacket and lays her little head on my shoulder. This is what makes being the big sister so hard. Having to reassure her at times like these that everything is going to be okay when deep down, you’re unsure yourself.
“But I miss Mommy. Why did she have to leave, sissy? It’s bad enough Daddy died but why did Mommy have to leave too? Doesn’t she love us anymore?” she asks me pulling away, and looks off into the distance, as if she’s thinking.
“What are you thinking about, sweet pea?” I ask curiously. A million things are probably going through this little girl’s mind right now.
“Nothing, sissy.” Aunt Clara comes out on the front porch once again and yells out across the pasture to us.
“Girls! Come on in, it’s getting dark.”
I stand up and yell back. “We’re coming, Aunt Clara.” Holding out my hand, I wait for Jayde to slip her little fragile one into mine and we both head back towards the house.
“You just got to keep the faith, Jayde. Just keep the faith that everything is going to be all right.” She hugs me tightly and nods against my sundress. Keep the faith. Wise words to live by…
15 Years Later…
Keep the faith
. Those words come flooding back to haunt me in a rush as I wake up, kicking and flailing about from that horrible nightmare. I remember that day all too well. That was the day I told Jayde to never give up on the people who truly love her, no matter who has left our lives prior to that. Maybe it was meant to happen our mother took off after our father passed away. Goddamn, that day was hard on all of us but my poor baby sister took it the hardest. Wiping the cold sweat from my forehead, I reach over to pick up my phone to check the time. Just after four in the morning. Flipping the phone back over so the light doesn’t wake me up with notifications, I lie back down and try to fall asleep. Six o’clock will be here soon enough and I don’t want to be groggy for work.
Part of me doesn’t even want to go to work. Keeping busy has been able to keep me sane for the most part but everyone at work knows what’s going on and why I’ve been distracted. It’s only been a few weeks since Jayde was kidnapped by that horrible man, Finn, and I can’t help but blame myself. Stupid, I know and Jayde wouldn’t want me to blame myself, but just like Jayde, we share a sixth sense for picking up on people’s behaviors. I guess you could say it’s a family trait.
Just as I’m dozing back off, the sounds of Bring Me to Life blare through my speakers, waking me up from the half ass sleep I seemed to get. Great, just great. This was just what I need. Since I have to be at the café in an hour, getting up out of bed seems like an impossible feat.
Rushing downstairs to start the coffee pot, I pull some breakfast out of the refrigerator and begin cooking it in tune to the coffee pot brewing. Breakfast was Jayde’s favorite time of the day. I laugh at the memory of her coming down to the kitchen, all groggy and tired, asking what smells so good despite her tiredness. Only being half awake, she could never resist my chocolate chip and peanut butter chip pancakes. Or my cinnamon French toast. Those two were her favorites. Being late to work was a frequent event for us. Our mornings were spent in the best way if you ask me.
After I inhale some much needed breakfast, I rush back upstairs to get ready for work. Since working at the café, I only have to wear my usual black jeans and black T-shirt. It’ll be covered with an apron anyways so who cares at this point? I sure don’t. In about an hour, my clothes will be covered in coffee grounds and pastry icing. That’s the price paid when working at a café. I hope one day I can save up enough money to buy it from my boss, Phoebe. She has talked about moving back west to be closer to her family and help run her families bakery, something she is always talking about. Me, being the good employee and friend, fully supported her decision.
Walking by Jayde’s bedroom, a pain resonated deep down inside and stirred to the surface. Everything was just as she left it. Before the event, she hadn’t moved all of her things to her new apartment yet. A lonely tear falls down my cheek from the memory and I’m quick to wipe it away. We were always close, some would say eerily like twins. So why the hell can’t I find her? A ping from my cell phone pulls me away from the thoughts and I see it’s a text message from Zac. He’s been working day and night to try to find her, but no luck. She’s just gone.
“Hey Sarah, please tell me you got something? Because I’m freaking the fuck out over here. If there was an Olympics for worrying, I’d take the fucking gold medal.”
His message reads. Anna and I have kept close tabs on him since the event happened. The poor guy has been a wreck. Typing out a quick reply, I hit send,
“You think you’re worried? That’s my baby sister out there somewhere. I’m the queen of worrying and I’m barely holding onto my sanity for crying out loud!”
I didn’t mean to snap at him but we’re all a lot on edge because of what happened. A minute goes by before another reply comes through and it makes me smile just a little.
“I know you are, honey, but please let’s just keep the faith that we will bring Jayde home to us. When we do, I’m not letting her out of my fucking sight.”
I reply back.
“Totally agree. I got to get to work. Keeping busy will keep me somewhat sane. Keep me updated, Zac.”
A reply instantly.
“Will do, Sarah. Take care.”
Sliding my phone into my pocket, I finish getting ready for work. Applying a little mascara, lip gloss and foundation to try and make myself look just a tad bit presentable, I gather my things and abandon my childhood home for the day to go out and make a few dollars. The café workers know what’s going on so maybe they won’t hassle me too much. Or at least, I hope so.