Settling Scores (Piper Anderson Series)

BOOK: Settling Scores (Piper Anderson Series)
6.58Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Settling Scores

 

Book Five of The Piper Anderson Series

 

Danielle Stewart

Copyright Page

 

All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictionally. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locals, or organizations is entirely coincidental.

 

An Original work of Danielle Stewart.

Settling Scores Copyright 2014 by Danielle Stewart

 

Cover Art by: Ginny Gallagher

Website:
Ginsbooknotes

Books by Danielle Stewart

 

Piper Anderson Series:

Book 1:
Chasing Justice

Book 2:
Cutting Ties

Book 3:
Changing Fate

Book 4:
Finding Freedom

Book 5:
Settling Scores

Book 6: Battling Destiny

 

Piper Anderson Extras:

Choosing Christmas
- Holiday Novella - Chris & Sydney's Story

Betty's Journal
- Bonus Material(suggested to be read after Book 4 to avoid spoilers)

 

 

The Clover Series:

Hearts of Clover
- Novella & Book 2:  (Half My Heart & Change My Heart)

Book 3:
All My Heart

Book 4:
Facing Home

Sign up for Danielle Stewart’s Mailing List

 

By Clicking Here

 

One random newsletter subscriber will be chosen every month in 2014.  The chosen subscriber will receive a $25 eGift Card! Sign up to
day by clicking the link above.

Dedication

 

To my Papa. Hearing the pride in his voice when he talks about my books literally keeps me writing some days. My Nana and Papa gave my sisters and me some of the best memories of our lives. They put extra magic in Christmas and summer felt longer when all of us gathered at the beach. I carry them with me today even though distance keeps us apart. I remember how they welcomed us into their family without a moments hesitation and when I write about unconditional love, thoughts of them are easily conjured up. Thank you Papa for not just being proud of me, but for making sure I never forget it. I can’t wait to make more memories on the Cape some day soon.

Table of Contents

 

Dedication

Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Epilogue

Books By Danielle Stewart

Synopsis

 

Willow has been saved from a painfully dark past and handed a bright future. By all accounts, she should be happy. But no one seems to understand that escaping evil hasn’t left her feeling free of it. The more people try to hold her close, the harder she fights to get away. Even the unconditional support from Edenville isn’t enough to help her keep her head above water.

 

On a journey to settle scores and find answers to questions that haunt her memories, Willow hopes to mend her heart.

 

Meanwhile, the man she has pushed away time and again fights to show her the only chance she has at happiness is opening her heart to the love that is right in front of her. But even Josh’s loyalty has its limits; how long before even he gives up on her, considering she’s already given up on herself?

Prologue

 

Everyone hates me. I’m not being melodramatic for effect. It’s a reality. I think the only thing worse than being hated is not being self-aware enough to realize it. I am aware. Dotted across the country like attractions on a road map, there are people who think I’m scum.

If you went back to Block Island where my adoptive parents live, you’d see how the truth about my past spread like wildfire. I’d be willing to bet the money I stole from them, gossip is rolling its way over every sand dune and through every telephone line on the small and insulated island. My very respected parents are probably inundated with phone calls from people wondering why they would adopt a girl like me. A girl who spent the first part of her life in filth and chaos, marked to be sold into the abyss of trafficking by her biological parents. How could they make the conscious choice to allow someone like me into their lives, or onto their idyllic island? By now, they’ve heard my brother killed for me. I’m sure they’re afraid I am just as violent or damaged as he was.

I don’t have to look far to find more people that despise me. Take the ferry ride and travel to New York City and there is another group who can’t stand me. The friends of my ex-boyfriend, Brad Angelo are all probably falling over each other as they talk about how awful I am. They, too, know my roots and in their circles that makes me unworthy. Brad likely returned from tormenting me and received a hero’s welcome from his buddies.

Head down south to Edenville, North Carolina and I’m sure my name is synonymous with trouble. My crazy ex-boyfriend followed me into town just in time to ruin a wedding and slander me in front of everyone. I got painted a thief and a liar, and I’m too damn stubborn to stick around long enough to prove them wrong. In fact, I go with the philosophy that if they already think you are, you might as well be. I abandoned my brother as he transitioned out of jail. Worst of all, like an idiot, I fell for a guy I have absolutely no business being with, and then promptly stomped on his heart as I hightailed it out of town. Josh deserved better than that. Everyone there deserved better than I gave them.

So yes, anywhere I’ve been, I won’t be going back. At least here in California I’m alone. It’s just me and what I’ve come out here to do. I’m no one’s victim. I’m no one’s charity case. For the first time, I’m not trying to be what I think people expect of me, or what they insist I should be. Out here, I’m just a girl on a mission, one I’ve nearly completed. I’m on the verge of doing exactly what I came out here to do. So why do I still feel like shit? Would everyone still hate me, if they knew how much I hate myself?

Chapter One

 

Willow pulled the black wig snug onto her head and shifted it slightly from side to side to make sure it was straight. She’d been wearing it for so long now that it was like second nature. There was something comforting about being in disguise. Hiding behind some heavy black eyeliner and covered in henna tattoos, she felt as though she were wearing armor. Slipping in and out of this fake identity had been necessary over the last few months, but she was starting to blur the lines between which personality felt more real to her. Was she Willow, the beat on confused mess who kept stepping in shit everywhere she went? Or could she be Claudia, the dark and desensitized runaway who’d partnered with a drug dealer to get revenge? Strangely, Claudia was becoming far more defined in her mind than Willow was.

Claudia was one-dimensional, whereas Willow was complex. Willow had been a victim.  She’d been a reluctant survivor. She’d been transformed into the child of a privileged and loving family. After high school, she felt suffocated and unworthy of them so she broke away from that bubble. Her hair streaked purple, piercings and music all became who Willow was. But none of it felt right. She was messy and undefined. And she was exhausted with herself, just like everyone else seemed to be.

Willow slipped a black tank top over her head and pulled on her boots as she thought through the idea of becoming Claudia permanently. She took stock of how fleeing to Edenville on the heels of Brad’s attack was a necessity. She hated herself for running toward the shelter of her brother’s arms again, but she didn’t know what else to do. Even though she was tormented by the guilt and confusion of her brother killing for her, she also knew he was the only person who’d be willing to do anything to protect her, just as he always had. And though she hated herself for needing it, she loved him for providing it. In many ways, he’d saved her again, not just from Brad, but from herself. Unfortunately, she couldn’t be what Jedda wanted her to be. She couldn’t stop being angry at the world long enough to let him in.

Leaving Edenville, Willow knew where she needed to go. California. She knew what she needed to do. Settle the score with Brad. It would be her way of standing on her own two feet and taking back her life. The problem was, she couldn’t do it. But Claudia could. The edgy, strong, indifferent character Willow had created in order to execute her plan was starting to look like a much more appealing personality than her own jumbled up mess. As she grabbed her guitar and headed down the four flights of stairs away from her apartment, she gave it thought. Maybe when all of this is done, when I’ve accomplished what I set out to do, I’ll just stay Claudia. Someone who knows who she is, knows what she wants and doesn’t need anyone else in her life. I can create her story, and in the process wash away my own.

The thought of the past and the future faded away as she remembered how important the here and now was. The twelve-block walk to the bar was just enough time to get her head straight. The hard work had already been done. She’d taken all the risks, made all the connections. The dominos were set up. Tonight was just about tipping the first one over and watching Brad pay.

She pulled open the old wood door of the dimly lit smoky bar and reminded herself how close she was to victory. She should be feeling good.

“Claudia,” Marcario called and waved her over to his table in the corner. That was the only way you approached him, if he indicated you were welcome. Otherwise, if you tried walking up to his table without that small motion from him, you’d be tackled by two of his men. Over the last few months, she’d become part of his inner circle. Not the way she’d planned to but the end result was the same and that was what was important.

“Hey Marcario,” she sang as she kissed his cheek and slipped into the chair across from him. “Everything on track?”

“That’s all you ever care about isn’t it? You think about anything besides business?” he asked as he slid his large hand across the table and covered hers. She didn’t recoil or slap him away. Her hand wasn’t still tucked beneath his because she feared him, though he’d proven he was someone to be afraid of. It was the opposite of that really. She kept her hand there because she trusted him.

She wasn’t intimidated by his appearance though intimidation was clearly the intention behind his muscular tattoo-laden arms. In fact there wasn’t an inch of his arms that wasn’t covered in swirling colorful ink. The weather out in California was always mild enough for him and his guys to wear plain white tank tops, hanging low over their too large blue pants. His shaved head and piercing black-brown eyes were dangerously attractive when paired with his devilishly sharp edged smile. Willow ignored all of it though because Marcario had done something to undermine his persona. He’d opened up to her and in doing so lost his ability to instill fear in her. He knew it and so did she.

“We’ve been working on this for months and it’s going down today. Don’t you think we should be talking business?” she asked, giving him the flick of her eyes she knew he loved. He might be a tough man, but she’d certainly begun to crack his code.

“I think we should be in my bed celebrating,” he smirked, and released her hand, both of them already knowing her answer to that proposition. “But since you always shoot me down I guess we’ll do it your way. I heard from my source this morning. Big Bo is delivering the package to your boy in a couple hours. Everything should go down from there.”

“I can’t believe we pulled this off,” Willow stammered as the waitress dropped a familiar drink down in front of her. A tonic and lime. Willow wasn’t a good drinker, meaning it rarely ended well when she got drunk. Fights. Flings. Things went bad. And she didn’t think it would mix well with the dangers of the plan her and Marcario were working on. Having her wits about her would be key. It kept her from screwing up and likely from sleeping with Marcario.

BOOK: Settling Scores (Piper Anderson Series)
6.58Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Currant Events by Anthony, Piers
Just a Queen by Jane Caro
The Sharecropper Prodigy by Malone, David Lee
A Load of Hooey by Bob Odenkirk
A Season of Love by Amy Clipston