Time has been all but kind to Azaleigh over the past year, but with this time, change has filled a void caused by broken dreams. Gage, always a permanent fixture, has waited for his chance to steal her heart. Just when Azaleigh gives in, the unimaginable happens -- Kale returns. But he's not the same. Fear harbors inside Azaleigh's mind as she tries to run from torn emotions. Things are not what they seem. A web of deceit clings to the secret Az has been waiting to uncover -- Anna. As the surreptitious story is revealed, horror of the ones behind it is mind-blowing. Will the mystery be brought to light or will it remain hidden from the fire within?
Gage made his way to Charlie's, a small bar located in the center of downtown LA. The bar was not at all like the other bars or clubs in this area. It was more like a hole in the wall that only the worst tortured soul would care to visit.
As he pulled the door open, the smoke that filled the room poured out. Gage looked around and saw only a handful of people, most of which were crowded around the single pool table that sat in the center of the floor.
A man sat at the bar with his back turned, drinking shots of dark liquor. As Gage approached him, the man took another shot and then slammed the glass down on the counter. A smile hinted on Gage's face as he pulled up a seat next to him.
"Another for me and my friend here," Gage shouted to the bartender.
The bartender was around twenty-six with an all-out gothic look and more piercings on her face than a person could count. "Your friend is at his limit," she snapped.
"Come now. Just one more?" Gage grinned and then gave her a wink. No woman could tell him no. She rolled her eyes in submission and began to pour the shots.
"I'm not your friend," Kale said as he cut his eyes at Gage.
"Now that's just rude, Kale," Gage said in a playful tone. Kale turned to look at him straight on. The seriousness in his face didn't bother Gage.
"You called this meeting. What is it that you want?" Kale was clearly frustrated.
"I see. No friendly greeting. Straight to business," Gage said mockingly and then continued with less sarcasm. "Someone tried to kill Jocelyn the other night. They were looking for the dagger and thought she knew where it was. I kept her at my place and went to see what I could find out, but I came up empty. I called you here because it won't be long until they come looking for you since you were the last person with it. It seems the dagger was never returned to Pasqual if it's being sought out."
"What's your point?" Kale said as he lifted the shot glass to his lips.
"Are you kidding me? Pasqual will have everyone's head for this." Gage looked at Kale confusedly. He was no longer the man Gage considered a friend. Even in their times of trial, they had still had an unspoken respect for one another. But the man who now sat in front of him had no resemblance to the person he had once known.
"Pasqual is the least of your worries. And he's not calling the shots anymore. I am," Kale said.
Gage looked over to the bartender and raised his hand. "How many shots did you say he's had?"
"Too many," she said with irritation in her voice.
"I've hidden it," Kale said. "And I'm not drunk."
"What were you thinking?" Gage asked.
"I followed code. That's all you need to know," Kale replied.
"What code? There is no code." Gage looked at him, confused.
This time, Kale raised his hand to the bartender. "Another round. It's on him." Kale pointed at Gage. The woman returned his request with a middle finger.
"Tell me you didn't go vigilante on this?" Gage asked.
"No. I follow code. Unlike you," Kale growled.
Gage could see the seriousness in Kale's face and knew no matter how much he pried, he would not get the answers.
"Always a pleasure, old friend." Gage smiled and tossed money on the counter.
"Wait," Kale said. He paused, looking for words that he seemed to want to hold hostage.
"How is she?" His eyes were filled with turmoil. It took a lot of courage for him to ask.
"She's learning how to live again." But as Gage stared at Kale, a familiar feeling came over him. Looking at him, Gage knew what was different. "You did it, didn't you?"
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
April grew up in a small town in Virginia, where it was common practice believing that dreams could only be found in stories. At the age of seven she was diagnosed
with dyslexia. April was told that she would struggle through life and would never pick up a book to read for pleasure. Although school was hard, she was able to find
her way with the help of two teachers who taught me self-discovery. Ignoring what she was taught growing up, April turned it around and found that your dreams could become stories.
Danielle was born and raised in Virginia, and even though she loves it there, she has always pictured herself as a city girl. Danielle grew up having a huge appetite for
daydreaming, always wanting to live in the spectacular worlds she created in her mind. As a child, she would spend hours curled up in bed with her favorite book, which
she would read over and over again. She feels nothing is more inspiring than the written word. Danielle currently still lives in Virginia with her husband and rebellious dog, "Ceazer."
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