Loose Ends (Magnolia Series Book 1)

By: Taylor Dawn

Acknowledgements




Of course I have to thank a few people for their amazing work and help on Loose Ends.

Thank you to my editor, Wendy Garfinkle for yet again showing me that I haven’t fully grasped the concept of where commas need to go.

Thank you to my cover designer, Zee Hayat, you brought my vision to life and I love it.

To Stephanie Stacker, thank you for helping me out by formatting my smutty creation.

To my dear author friend A.M. Willard. Thank you for being there for me through the exhausting task of writing yet another book. I will always be your bitch and yes, you can play with my feet anytime you want.

To another author friend, Brandy Jellum. You rock for keeping me on track and listening to be complain about life in general.

Last, but of course not least…My amazing group of loyal fans and readers! You guys are the glue that holds this all together. I love you guys so much. You are the ones I do this for and I hope you all enjoy Loose Ends as much as I did.

Peace, Love and Pages

Taylor Dawn





Loose Ends is dedicated to my dear friend and fellow princess, Danielle. This chick has taught me so much about living the life I was given and enjoying each day like it could be my last. You’re going to beat the ‘C’ word, Danielle. I believe that with all my heart. Keep fighting, keep being brave and never forget to wear your tiara!





Prologue


“I have to get out of here,” Ava chanted to herself as she stuffed as many articles of clothing into her bags as she could manage. There wasn’t time for her keen organizational skills that would normally be incorporated in something like this. It was do or die time. If she didn’t get the hell out of her apartment in the next fifteen minutes, she wasn’t sure she’d ever be able to leave.

Yanking shirts from their neatly hung spots in the small closet nearby, she shoved them into the duffle bag with the rest of the already crumpled clothing. Wrinkles were the least of her worries at this point. Darting into the bathroom Ava scooped what she could of her toiletries into the bag in her hand, trying to ignore the constant buzz of her phone in the other room. There wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell she was answering that damn thing. In fact, the phone wasn’t going with her on this trip. It would be just one more way they could track and find her.

She couldn’t afford that kind of thoughtless mistake. Once she finally left, she’d be a ghost. The only people who would be able to find her would be the government—with all of their satellites and NSA bullshit—but she was going to try her best to fly under their radar, too.

After taking what she could from the bathroom Ava went back to the bags of clothing, zipped them up, and headed for the door. Instinct alone caused her to peer through the peephole to make damn sure someone wasn’t waiting on the other side. Letting out a resigned sigh, she finally swung the familiar door open and looked back one last time at her cramped Chicago apartment. Being forced to leave something you loved—even if it was tiny—was a kick to the gut. It was someplace she’d felt safe, a place that’d been her sanctuary from the outside world. But in the course of the past few hours, it’d become the worst kind of prison. One she couldn’t bear to be in for even a few seconds longer. She tossed her bags into the dimly lit hallway and pulled the door closed behind her. Bothering to lock it was a waste of time. They’d get in there no matter how many locks were in place. Might as well save the landlord some repair money.

The door clicked into place, signifying the finality of her decision. It wasn’t really a choice, though—more of a preservation thing. It was this or stay here and be a victim of what was coming. And that was not an option.

Ava hefted the bags on her arms and ran down the steps of the apartment building. Her feet protested the jaunt but it was either wear the pink plaid pumps or leave them behind. There just wasn’t room in her bags for them. Since they happened to be her favorite pair of heels, she couldn’t bear the thought of leaving them behind. Soon she busted through the outer entryway of the building and was on the sidewalk, looking both ways to make sure no one was trying to follow her. By her calculations she had about four minutes to get the hell out of Dodge, so she scurried along until the familiar shade of a yellow cab came whizzing in her direction. Ava dropped a bag to free a hand and threw it in the air to flag him down. He practically screeched to a halt. She wasted no time tossing her bags into the car and climbing among the cracked greyish vinyl.

“Where to?” the driver gruffly bit out.

“The bus station, please. And if you make it snappy, there’s an extra hundred in it for you.” She looked out the back window with paranoia. There still wasn’t anyone she recognized but that wouldn’t last long. They had people everywhere. Soon her once-sacred home would be turned upside down.

“I think I can make that happen. Hang on.” He laughed and slammed on the gas pedal of the car.

Ava’s spine jolted into the back of the seat but she wasn’t complaining. It was better than staying on the street waiting for them to find her.

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