First Chapter Sneak Peek

Bank Shot

Prologue – Lydia

Four Years Ago

“I’m just going to get some milk from the gas station up the street,” my sister says, her voice echoing through the speaker of my phone.

I haven’t been able to see her lately; I’ve been working as much overtime as I can get to make ends meet and nursing school finals are kicking my tail. But, I’m almost finished and I’ll be a Registered Nurse soon. Then all of this headache will be worth it, I’ve sacrificed so much to make this dream come true. I’ve paid for my education on my own, with minimal student loans.

I glance at my phone, realizing that it’s almost midnight. “You sure you should go this late?” I ask. 

She’s a single mother and doesn’t live in the best area of the city. Rent in Savannah is outrageous and we weren’t raised wealthy. 

“I don’t have a choice, Annie is out of milk and she won’t sleep without it.” The desperation in her voice has my heart breaking, and I can hear Annie whine in the back seat. I wish I could do more for her, I don’t spend near the amount of time I should with them. 

I know it isn’t easy for her, raising Annie on her own and trying to make ends meet for them. We’re all each other has. It’s been just the two of us for years, our mom died my senior year of high school from breast cancer and our dad left when we were little and hasn’t been back. 

“I can bring some,” I say, it’s not the ideal time but it’s only a twenty minute drive to her house without any traffic. 

My place is closer to the college, so I pay a little higher rent but it’s worth it to save on the commute to work and school each day. Plus, having the library close by is extremely beneficial during finals week.

“No, it’ll be fine. I’ll be in and out before you know it.” I can hear her buckling Annie into her carseat, her soft cry fills the phone briefly. The sound makes me miss them that much more.

“Okay, well be careful,” I stress. “I have to get some sleep. That morning shift is going to come early tomorrow.” I yawn as I say the words, my eyes watering as I lay my head back against the pillow on my bed. 

All of my books are scattered across my comforter, turned to the pages I’ve been studying for the last few hours. 

“Alright, I love you, Lydia,” she says. 

“I love you, too, Laura. Text me when you get home.” 

She agrees before hanging the phone up and I reach to my night stand, tossing my phone against the worn table. 

I’m too tired to even plug it in. I’ll be pissed in the morning when it’s almost dead, but I can’t gather the energy to move. I worked nearly sixteen hours today and my feet are screaming at me, not to mention when I got home I dove right into studying. I didn’t even bother getting an actual meal, I snacked on chips and dip. 

That will have to do. 

When I was younger, I couldn’t wait to graduate high school and live on my own. I thought college would be the best thing that ever happened to me, but no one tells you that you starve from exhaustion and never have the time to get a decent meal in you. You’re running from point A to point B every single day.

When my eyes fall closed, it doesn’t take long for my dreams to take over. 

***

My ringtone blasts through my phone speakers, causing me to jump and hit my head against the headboard. My heart is pounding furiously in my chest as I look around the room.

“Shit.” I’m breathless, rubbing the spot on the crown of my head. 

I brush the matted hair from my face and rub my hand across my lips, wiping away the drool. I look down, I snarl at the drool that has gathered on my pillow. 

Ew. I really was exhausted.

Remembering my phone, I swat the night stand reaching for my phone, nearly knocking it to the floor before I make contact with the cool glass of my screen. 

The number isn’t one that I recognize. 

“Ugh.” I groan, my head hits against my pillow again. I flip my phone over so the screen isn’t so bright but there is a nagging feeling in my gut to answer the call. Lifting my phone again, I slide my thumb across the screen and press it against my ear. 

“Hello?” I say, my voice raspy with sleep as I stretch my body out. The aches and pains from earlier come flooding back. 

“Hello, is this Ms. Spencer?” the man asks. 

“Yes,” I say. My eyes fall closed again, it’s pointless to fight it.

“Ms. Spencer, this is Captain Cole, from the Savannah Police Department. I need you to come down to the police station as soon as you can.” 

My eyes snap open immediately as I raise to my elbows. 

The police? 

Why are they calling me? 

Pulling my phone from my face, the screen lights up again as I look at the time. It’s just after one in the morning, so I haven’t been asleep long. 

“What for?” I ask, concern present in my tone. Something is wrong, I don’t know what, but I know something is wrong. 

I can feel it.

My hand slowly lifts, running along my bottom lip. 

“I think this news would be better if you heard it in person,” he says. “We have a few things to discuss with you.” I can hear him pull the phone away, shuffling it before placing it back against his ear. “Do I need to send a car for you?” 

“No, no. I’ll be okay. I’ll be right there,” I tell him. 

Hanging up the phone, I check the time again, and see it’s only been a few minutes since the last time I checked it. 

I throw my legs off the side of my bed and slip my shoes on. I’m still in my pajamas, but throw my jacket on over them, not caring how I look. I don’t want to waste any time based on the urgency of his call.

The entire drive to the station, my mind wonders what the call is about. Checking my messages, I see that I never got a text from my sister to let me know she made it home. 

The thought of losing her rips through my body, but there’s an unsettling feeling that she’s what this call was about. 

When I arrive at the station, several police cars are parked near the front of the building. A few officers are standing around, some even take in my appearance and offer pity smiles at me. One quickly opens the door for me as I get closer, probably terrified at the state of my attire or assumes that I’m like half the others in this part of the city. I nod a thank you, unable to form true words. 

“Can I help you?” a man asks to my left. 

When I turn to the voice, I see a large man with a beard forming. He’s handsome, with a strong jawline. He’s tall, like extremely tall for the average man. He has dark hair that is perfectly kept but something about his presence makes me feel safe. 

“Yes, I’m looking for Captain Cole. I’m Lydia Spencer.” 

His eyes soften at my name and it dawns on me that the officer standing in front of me knows about whatever I’m here for. 

Looking at his name tag, I realize that this is Captain Cole. 

“Lydia.” He nods. “Please, come with me.” 

I follow him through the station, unsure of what is happening but I know in my gut it has something to do with my sister. Officers are seated at their desks as I follow behind him. My fingers are linked together as I try to calm the emotions that are threatening to overcome me. 

“Have a seat.” Captain Cole ushers me into a small office just off the main area of the station. 

The walls are brick, giving it a very downtown vibe. Pictures hang on the wall with what I am assuming is his family. He likes golf, and has the gifts that kids buy their parents when they know it’ll be displayed on top of their office desk. 

One that I’m assuming is his family shows a beautiful woman next to Captain Cole. She has long, dark hair that curls at the end and she’s wearing a yellow sundress. Her arm is around Captain Cole’s waist, but in her other hand, she’s holding a newborn in her arms and a toddler is on the hip of the man across from me. 

Another image is of a large group of people standing together, everyone connected with an arm around the shoulder or waist. The smiles on their faces are infectious. A man stands beside him, the two are nearly identical in features. They’re both holding spatulas for a barbecue grill up as they smile. The same woman is on his other side, holding the baby that is now a few months old, as the toddler stands at the feet of the man who looks an awful lot like Captain Cole. She’s smiling up at him, completely ignoring the picture being taken. 

Pulling my attention from the pictures, I look back at Captain Cole as I slowly take a seat across from his desk. My stomach churns when his eyes lock with mine, he tells me everything without telling me anything with that look. 

“Is everything ok?” I break the silence. 

“I’m afraid there has been an accident,” he tells me, his eyes bouncing between mine. 

He leans forward, resting his elbows on his desk but his face is filled with sadness.

“Accident?” I ask with a scratchy throat. 

My sister. Every ounce of hope I was holding, diminishes. 

“Yes.” He nods his head. “Tonight your sister was attacked outside of the gas station. She was a victim of a brutal mugging.” I gasp, my head drawing back and my hands naturally move to cover my mouth. 

Tears begin to fall as the words he says sink in. My mind goes wild, thinking of my sister being attacked. The fear she must have felt in that moment, and Annie. I can feel my hands begin to shake, and I’m thankful all I had to eat earlier was chips and dip because it threatens to make its way up. 

He continues speaking but I can barely hear any of the words coming from his lips over the ringing in my ears. 

This is my fault. It’s all my fault. This can’t be happening, it can’t. I can’t be alone. 

If I’d have just gone to the store for her, she wouldn’t have been attacked. 

She wouldn’t be… dead. 

I never should have let her go alone, I should have pressed her on not going. 

And now Annie… 

“Oh my God. Annie?” I ask when the thought hits me, snapping me from the trance I was in. 

I can’t breath, my chest constricts with the anxiety of losing my sweet niece along with my sister. He holds his hands up to calm me down, but nothing can calm this storm inside of me. 

“She is fine,” he quickly says. A sigh of relief escapes me. “She was checked at the hospital for injuries, but she was unharmed. She will be released within the next hour.” 

She’s okay. Annie is okay. 

That’s good. That’s so good.

“Who did this?” Who could possibly ruin my life in a single instance and why? My sister didn’t have many friends, and worked at the diner but as far as I know she didn’t associate with people there too often. She didn’t have enemies, at least none that I knew of, her life revolved around Annie. 

“We have a suspect in custody. We are processing all the evidence we’ve gathered, but it’s pointing toward him at the moment.” He pulls a pair of black framed glasses from his pocket and puts them on, opening a file in front of him. “It appears this one will more than likely end up going to trial.” He reaches into his desk drawer and pulls out a card, sliding it across the table to me. 

I pick it up and read the name. Martin Yurst, Attorney at Law.

“I don’t understand,” I pause. “What will I need an attorney for?” 

“Just to make sure that you are protected throughout this entire thing. It’s going to be tough on you and dangerous. Our suspect is a member of a local gang. Pretty low key stuff, mostly drugs and guns, however, you can’t be too safe in these situations.” His eyes hold mine, making sure I’m understanding what he says. “Martin will help with the guardianship of your niece as well. He’s who I would use if I were in your position.” 

Guardianship? 

“I–” I choke. “I can’t afford an attorney.” 

“Martin is a friend of mine, he’ll help you in any way that you need,” he tells me. “Don’t stress about this part of it, your focus needs to be on your niece now.” 

My head is swimming with so many different emotions. His phone rings and I watch as he fishes it from the pocket of his uniform. 

“Excuse me.” 

I nod, incapable of doing anything else at the moment. 

“Captain Cole.” I hear him say as he places it to his ear. He’s silent for most of the conversation, with just a few ‘Mhms’ and ‘Okays’. When he hangs up, his attention moves to mine and my spine stiffens in the leather seat. 

“They are transporting Annie here now.” He looks at me. “I couldn’t find any information on Annie’s father…”

“He left before she was born and hasn’t been heard from since,” I explain. 

Deacon was a piece of shit, and we’re all better off without him in our lives. Annie especially. Deacon made it clear when Laura told him she was expecting that he didn’t want shit to do with either of them anymore. I wish I could say it was because he was strung out on drugs or in prison… something to make it suck a little less or at least give him a reason why he isn’t fit to be a father. Granted, he did use drugs, but none of those are Deacon, no, he’s just legit a piece of shit that doesn’t want anything to do with his kid and doesn’t have a reasonable explanation as to why that is. 

He’s successful, owns his own business downtown. Don’t ask me what it is, because I don’t really pay much attention to him. He’s worthless in my eyes, and always will be. 

“I see.” Captain Cole scratches at his chin. “Well, Annie will be accompanied by a DCFS worker, since you are her next of kin, she will be placed in your care, if you choose that.” 

Oh, God

Tears begin to fall again, my sister is really gone and I will be responsible for her perfect baby girl. All of this will be on me. 

“Okay.” It’s all I can say. I don’t know how I will make it work, it’ll be hell I’m sure. But she’s the only person I have left in this life. 

Knowing that we don’t have any other family makes this difficult to swallow, but I know one thing and that’s how much I love my niece. I’ll make this work, no matter what I have to do.

“Lydia.” He says my name and my eyes snap to his. His voice is softer than it has been this entire time, and his eyes are filled with sorrow for me. “I’m really sorry about the loss of your sister.” He slides another card my way, with his contact information on it. “If you need anything, and I mean anything at all, you call me. I will make sure that son of a bitch is buried in prison.” He attempts a smile, but it doesn’t make me feel better. 

Nothing can.

Working full time and attending school nearly kills me as it is, but I just know that I can’t let Laura down. 

I won’t let Laura down.