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Текст книги "Consequences"

Автор книги: Aleatha Romig

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Текущая страница: 36 (всего у книги 36 страниц)

Claire’s mind swirled with possibilities: she could take this information and ask for a new trial. No. She entered a plea of no contest and by definition couldn’t appeal. He knew that. Besides, the legal system and the court of public opinion hadn’t believed her before, they wouldn’t believe her now.

She questioned why he would share the information. Obviously, he didn’t view her as a threat. As Claire repacked the box, she contemplated and found a better reason. Tony spent years—no, decades—planning his vendetta. He liked recognition for his accomplishments. He required gratitude for his deeds. There was no one else with whom he could share his hard work. She wondered what sort of recognition he expected, perhaps a “well done” note?

She kept some of the photos, put everything else back in the box, and requested permission to take the box to the incinerator. The guard consented and accompanied her to the basement. As they walked the passages, thoughts and ideas began to flow through Claire’s mind. She believed that her actions kept her alive. She also knew that obedience took more strength than retaliation. Today with each echoing step she took, her strength transformed into an overwhelming desire for retaliation. She lived her life governed by her grandmother’s and mother’s words, which encouraged truth and forgiveness. The truth did not set her free. The thoughts of revenge weren’t only fueled by her consequences, but the consequences of her parents, John, Emily, Simon, her friends at WKPZ, and even her grandmother’s necklace.

Opening the incinerator, she felt the warmth. It reminded her of the fires in her suite, Tony’s suite, and Lake Tahoe. Throwing the box into the flames, she watched the contents ignite. The flickering of the flames brought back the flames of her past: love, fear, contempt, desire, passion, pain, and sadness. As the fire consumed the memories, it fueled a new determination. Two and a half years ago, she had one goal—survival. Now she had a new one: Mr. Anthony Rawlings will learn that his actions have consequences. Claire contemplated her actions. She had received the rare opportunity to know him. With that knowledge, she had four to seven years to plan his demise.

She turned back to the guard. Immediately, he noticed something different about the prisoner. It was her smile. How could he not notice? It extended into her emerald eyes.

  In three words I can sum up everything

I’velearnedaboutlife:itgoeson. —Robert Frost


The Massachusetts autumn remained cooler than normal. Shivering, Sophia entered her art studio thinking about the events of the last few weeks. First she presented a hugely successful gallery exhibit. Guests and investors from all over the East Coast were in attendance. Her dream was becoming reality as word spread about her art. Then in the course of a day, her whole world fell apart.

The call came just as she left for work two weeks earlier. She almost didn’t answer but decided to pick up after the fourth ring. The New Jersey police called to inform her that a blue Toyota Camry was found by passing drivers. The accident must have occurred during the night. It is believed that perhaps her father lost control on the wet leaves, or it may have been an acceleration issue. She could request tests. He offered his sincere condolences. Could she possibly travel to New Jersey and identify the bodies? Both her mother and her father were killed instantly.

She had so many responsibilities, so many activities that the next week passed in a blur. There was the funeral planning and the settling of their estate. That would take months or years. Sadly, she hadn’t realized the debt her parents incurred helping her with her studio.

Now with a minute to herself, she couldn’t stay home. She feared she would do nothing but cry. That is why even on this cloudy Saturday afternoon, Sophia decided to come into the studio. Putting her purse in the office, she heard the bell on the front door. Damn, she meant to lock that. It wasn’t that she was afraid. This was a great town. She just wanted some quiet time alone.

As she stepped into the studio, the man at the counter looked familiar. Maybe he’d been at the gallery event, or she had seen him on TV? She couldn’t be sure, but his eyes were so dark and mesmerizing. “I’m sorry, I’m not open today. I just forgot to lock the door,” Sophia said as she approached the handsome stranger.

“That is all right. I can come back.” The dark-eyed man said with an agreeable smile. “It is just that I travel a lot and happened to be in town. A friend of mine told me about your gallery. He was here a week or so ago and bought three pieces. I am very interested in nature, and he said you have a wonderful selection.”

Sophia exhaled and smiled. “Are you a friend of Jackson Wilson?” The man’s smile widened as he nodded his head. She continued, “He is one of my biggest fans.”

“I don’t get this way often. Are you sure you couldn’t give me a speed tour? By the way, my name is Anthony, Anthony Rawlings.”

Sophia stuck out her hand. “Where are my manners? I am so sorry. My name is Sophia, Sophia Burke. I would be glad to give you a tour.” She couldn’t stop looking at those eyes.

“With one condition,” Anthony said, his eyes shining, “you let me buy you some dinner and a drink after the tour.”

Sophia gently took the man’s elbow to lead him around the studio. After a few minutes of enjoying his charm, she decided why not? She’d just experienced a very difficult few weeks—what harm could one dinner and drink do?

Table of Contents

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

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

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