Authors: L. A. Cotton
Tags: #mafia, #organized crime, #college, #revenge, #chastity falls
L. A. COTTON
Titles by L. A. Cotton
Fate’s Love Series
Chastity Falls Series
Loyalty and Lies
Salvation and Secrets
Tribulation and Truths
Redemption and Regrets
The Maverick Defense Series
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Published by Delesty Books
First eBook Edition
Copyright © L. A. Cotton 201
All rights reserved.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and events are the product of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons or events is purely coincidental.
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Edited by Jenny Carlsrud Sims of
Cover designed by Natasha Snow of
Natasha Snow Designs
Image: Licensed from Shutterstock
True redemption is seized when you accept the
future consequences of your past mistakes
hey say prison changes a man.
I didn’t think it would change me.
Already bitter, full of anger and darkness, I didn’t think prison could taint a soul like mine. All I had to do was keep my head down, wait it out, and do my time. Then I could claim what was rightfully mine.
A lot could happen in four years.
Being a Donohue carried weight outside the gates. I was feared, respected ... worshiped. But inside, it made me a target. Inmates wanted me to fall, guards wanted me to break, and old enemies wanted me dead.
I survived—I had the scars to prove it.
But I changed.
Somewhere along the line, I grew a fucking conscience. Regrets burrowed their way into my mind and haunted me in my sleep, and I started to care.
Prison didn’t just change me.
It ruined me.
ign here." The guard pushed a pen across the counter, not picking his eyes up to face me.
Probably couldn't stand the fact I'd made parole. Most of the guards despised me, my name, what my name stood for, but they could all go to hell. I'd served my time. All one thousand four hundred and seventy-three days of it.
The box slammed down on the counter with a thud, the last memories of my freedom staring back at me. Wallet, cell phone, clothes. All reminders of a life that had betrayed me.
I retrieved my belongings, pocketing the dead cell phone and wallet but leaving behind the clothes. I doubted they'd fit me anyway. I'd beefed up a lot during my time in Oregon State.
"Someone meeting you?" the guard grunted like it was too much effort to make small talk, and I shrugged.
That was the million-dollar question. Was anyone going to be on the other side of the fence?
Or was I going it alone?
Because I was going. I was getting as far away from Oregon State as possible ... And I wasn't ever coming back.
y feet stepped over the perimeter and the automatic gate clicked shut behind me.
I was free.
My eyes adjusted to the light. Oregon State was a dank place. Four years was a long time to be holed up in a six by ten cell. I tipped my head back and inhaled deeply, letting the cool air fill my lungs as I squeezed my eyes shut. Breathing in freedom.
"Donohue, over here."
My eyes tracked the voice, landing on a guy standing propped against a black Volvo. He flicked his head motioning for me to join him. My senses kicked in, adrenaline pumping through my veins and my fists clenched at my side ready to defend myself ... or attack.
Did they think it would be that easy? That because they couldn't finish the job inside, I'd fall prey to their traps outside the gate?
These fuckers really were dumb.
"Fuck’s sake," the guy muttered under his breath, dropping his cigarette to the ground and dragging a foot over it. "I'm a friend. You can trust me." He tapped the rear passenger side window and it rolled down. My eyes connected with eyes identical to my own, and my heart started to pound.
"We need to go, like yesterday." The guy glanced around the parking lot and he pushed off the side of the car. "Get in, Donohue." He yanked the door open, and I slid in next to my sister.
“God, it’s good to see your face.” Briony hugged me tight, tears laced in her eyes.
I looped an arm around her neck and pressed a kiss to her wild red curls. My family. My
family. Something bolted through me and my body tensed, but I couldn’t be sure if it was anger, regret, or something else entirely. Prison had messed with my head; done a real fucking number on me.
“Braid, what’s wrong?” Briony pulled back and questioned me with her eyes.
“Nothing, I’m just tired. It’s impossible to catch a decent night’s sleep in that place.” I glanced back at the place growing small in the distance as the car sped away. I turned back to my sister and offered a grim smile. “Wasn’t sure if anyone would be waiting.”
Not of the friendly kind anyway.
“We’ve been watching you,” a voice called from the front of the car.
“We?” I asked looking at the guy directly in the rearview mirror.
“You don’t recognize me, do you?”
“Should I?” I barked not liking the smug look on his face.
“Braiden, chill.” Briony nudged me as she sank back into the seat. “It’s Luke, one of Da-” Her voice cracked and I stilled clenching my fist again. “It’s okay, you can say it.”
“Luke, he ... he was one of Dad’s guys. You can trust him.”
Something stirred in me again, but I shut it down. I needed to get my head on straight and find out what had happened in my absence. Make sense of the world again.
Luke nodded at me in the mirror. I didn’t recognize him, but he didn’t look much older than I was.
“How old are you?” I asked.
“Older than you.” The bastard smirked again.
“Luke,” Briony warned shifting next to me. “Go easy on him, he just got out.”
He laughed quietly and said, “I’m only playing. I’m twenty-eight. Two years older than you guys.”
Fuck, he was right. We were twenty-six. Four years of my life wasted in that place. A lot could change in four years. Hell,
changed in four years.
I wasn’t the same guy anymore.
Not by a long shot.
raid. Braiden, we’re here.” Someone nudged me and I jolted awake.
“Shit,” I said scrubbing my hand over my face. “How long was I out?”
I hadn’t planned to fall asleep, and as I watched the world roll past, I realized I had no fucking clue where we were.
“A couple of hours.” Briony handed me a bottle of water from her bag. “Welcome home.”
I glanced over my shoulder at my sister. Something in her voice was off, and I wondered what she was hiding.
“And exactly where is home these days?” Because it sure as hell wasn’t Chastity Falls.
I looked at Briony to explain, but Luke cut her dead. “A lot’s changed, man, but don’t worry, you’ll be up to speed in no time.”
My eyes narrowed moving from my sister to Luke. “Number one, I’m not your man, and number two, I don’t give a shit about what’s changed. I just want a warm bed and some decent food.”
Briony’s hand landed on my arm pulling my attention back. “Braid-”
I shrugged her off and turned my head to the window. I didn’t want or need this shit. Not here. Not now. I just needed time. Did I feel guilty that I was being a total dick? A little. She was, after all, my sister. She’d been there today when I’d expected no one. But I couldn’t find it in me to care enough.
Yeah, four years had changed everything.
uke navigated through the unfamiliar streets of Astoria with ease, eventually parking in a small lot behind a building. No one spoke as I followed him and Briony to their apartment. It was awkward as fuck—as if they were waiting for me to snap or lose my shit. But I was adjusting, and after four years inside, it was going to take a while.
Their place was small—living room with a kitchenette in one corner, two small bedrooms, and one bathroom. Not quite what I’d expected, but strangely, I felt comforted by the small space.
“You can take the spare room. Get showered, take a nap, whatever you need to do. I have to be somewhere. I’ll be back later.” Luke turned to Briony and something passed between them again. As soon as he was out of the door, I snapped, “Who is he to you?”