ONE SECOND AFTER ANOTHER
The After Another Trilogy, book #3
Publication Date: November 9, 2020
Genres: Adult, Romantic Suspense, Crime Thriller, Organized Crime
There’s only one way this can end …
Penny Dunsworth isn’t hiding.
Not anymore. An assassin turned legend, AWOL from her organization and hunted from all sides, nothing is going to stop her from finishing what she started. By the time she’s done with The Elite, no truth will be left untold, and maybe—just maybe—she can go back …
That is if she can make it out alive.
Luca Puzza only wanted to help.
His obsession with the white ghost has left him alone, estranged from his own world and family, and in constant danger. That doesn’t mean he’s going to give up. Besides, if he found her once, then he can do it again. And this time, he won’t be the one letting her go.
There’s too much on the line to fail.
She dares to wish for a life after pain. He dares to think they could have it. But it only takes one second for everything to change—one mistake could end it all.
Some say legends never die.
But what happens when they do?
NOTE: One Second After Another is book 3 in the After Another trilogy. It follows the same couple – Luca and Penny – from present to past, and back again. The books must be read in order. Be warned, the trilogy discusses a subject that may be triggering.
The motel room Penny rented in the Bronx wasn’t much to look at. Peeling wallpaper with a faded flower design gave the single room—and attached bathroom—some color, at least. The brown, shag carpet had been laid at least three decades before she even existed. God only knew the things these walls had heard and seen.
That was about all she could say for the motel.
Then again, the place was booked by the hour. She was probably one of the only patrons in the place who paid for several days upfront which should have said enough. Nonetheless, she avoided focusing on the stains on the carpet never mind pulling the sheets off the bed. The old furniture had seen better days but the single table, chair, twin bed, and three-drawer dresser all served their purpose.
She’d stayed in worse.
Hell, she’d been raped in worse.
At least, she was out of the rain, had a place to sleep, and there was a decent diner down the street when her hunger became enough of an annoyance that she had no choice but to deal with it. The motel hadn’t required identification to book the room when she slapped down an extra thousand dollars to cover any damages.
They could keep the money.
Maybe spruce up the room.
Penny wouldn’t come looking for it, anyway. And if she could help it, then she wouldn’t bring any problems to the motel, either. After all, the entire point of her getting a room was to use it to stay out of sight. No paper trail. She left nothing behind for someone to use to find her.
Since she didn’t have anything else to do, Penny had at least taken the time to open the duffle bag from Carson to look through the items inside properly. Her wigs were now hanging from wire hangers on the shower’s metal bar to keep them in decent shape should she need to use one. All the makeup that she might need to change her appearance had been set out on the table alongside three pairs of folded black jeans and matching tank tops. Not that the weapons needed to be cleaned, but she took her time with the gun, silencer, and even the knife just because she could.
What was time?
She had too much of it.
Keeping busy, even if it was only arranging her things and attempting to settle into the motel room for however long her stay would be, was something she could do. Actions she could control. A way to keep her mind from traveling elsewhere.
To keep her heart from hurting.
It always hurt, though.
Was it all a bit much? Not really. It was, however, exactly what Penny needed. The League had done more than teach Penny how to kill while giving her the chance to change history … even if it had taken her entirely too long to figure out the past never went away. They had also given her the ability to take care of herself.
In every way.
Having already discarded the burner phone she used to contact Carson, she went ahead and picked a new phone from the pile on the dresser along with one of the cards to activate it. If the man followed her directions—and she knew he did—then each card and phone had been purchased from different locations. Despite burners being incredibly hard to track, it wasn’t actually impossible given enough time and the right hacker to do it.
Penny didn’t want to take chances.
Every single time she used one of the phones, it would be destroyed after. Including this time.
From the pocket of her black jeans, she produced a folded piece of paper that had barely made it through the day’s rain. The edges tore at her rough handling, but she didn’t care because she didn’t plan to use the number written inside again after today.
The thing about politicians?
Anything could be found with little effort. Including their addresses, home phone numbers, and even the names of the schools where their children attended.
Penny only cared about one of those—the phone number to the home where her mother had apparently moved in with her soon-to-be husband, the New Jersey senator, Gilles Tracey. Though they apparently lived in Jersey with the senator’s two daughters, they also kept a home in New York and frequently traveled between the two states.
Or, so Penny learned through her searches of the internet. Anything could be found … if someone looked hard enough.
Activating the phone and minutes on the card took little time, and before long, Penny had punched in the number. She put the phone on speaker and held it in front of her as she paced the short length of the motel room while the call rang through.
A third time.
She honestly didn’t know what she expected—getting the number had been a last-minute decision, and not one she really thought out entirely. So much about her mother and the last several years of her life hunting the woman and anyone connected to her had been carefully planned events. Nothing was left to chance.
The thing was …
Penny wanted Allegra to see her coming, now. Nothing else would do.
“Tracey residence—Joesph speaking,” came a male voice through the speaker.
Penny almost hung up.
She didn’t think her mother would actually pick up the phone. She bet the senator had a whole house full of employees to handle every aspect of his daily business. That was before Penny factored in the people her mother probably had on hand.
Nothing about this would be easy.
She already knew it.
“Is Allegra home?” Penny asked opting to just … see.
“Ms. Hatheway is upstairs in her sitting room. Give me a moment—I’ll put you through. Who am I speaking to?”
“An old friend.”
The man didn’t even question it.
A click sounded on the phone before a ringing started again. This time, it only rang twice before the call was picked up.
The feminine voice that answered the call was unconcerned and blasé in tone, but the sound of her mother saying hello still felt like a knife raking down Penny’s spine.
“Hello,” Allegra greeted.
Penny dragged in a slow breath.
Allegra waited one second, and then another before saying again, “Is anyone there?”
“Do you think about me?”
Silence answered back.
It actually made Penny smile.
Then, her mother sucked in a hiss before saying, “Penny—”
She didn’t get more out.
Penny wouldn’t let her.
Nothing was on Allegra’s time anymore. She controlled nothing about Penny. It took years to figure that out, but here she was.
“Did you see me coming?” she asked.
A squeak echoed on the other end of the call, as if Allegra had jumped out of her chair. The woman’s next words came out sharp and stinging when she said, “You little bitch—do you know the mess you’ve caused us? You are dead. How long do you think you can last before we find you?”
Yes, she knew.
She regretted nothing.
It had to happen.
“I only need to stay ahead of you, actually,” Penny returned. “What’s left of your organization now, Mother? Every move I’ve made has taken something else from you, hasn’t it? There isn’t very much left. Is The Elite even capable of going up against me now—or someone else, for that matter, if you step on the wrong toes trying to get to me?”
The League, she meant. Not that she would say it. That would simply give her mother information she might not otherwise have. Penny wouldn’t play that game. Just this phone call was dangerous enough.
And she only had one thing left to tell Allegra. Little else really mattered, and she refused to give the woman any more of her life or time than she needed to. Even in her death, Allegra Dunsworth would only get what she deserved and nothing more.
It was all Penny could promise.
The only thing she guaranteed.
“The white ghost is coming for you,” Penny told her mother. “Watch for me, Allegra. I’ll be seeing you.”
Penny ended the call as her gaze found the clock on the motel room’s wall. Directly over the bed, it was the only thing on the walls. The second hand kept ticking. A lot like the beats of her broken heart that smashed against her ribcage because just talking to her mother was enough to damn near unravel everything that kept Penny sane.
Tick, tick, tick.
The sound of the clock echoed in the back of her mind. It continued counting down the seconds until she could finally finish this. One after another. She watched the time go.
What choice did she have?
THE AFTER ANOTHER TRILOGY IS NOW COMPLETE! READ TODAY!
Bethany-Kris is a Canadian author, lover of much, and mother to four young sons, one cat, and two dogs. A small town in Eastern Canada where she was born and raised is where she has always called home. With her boys under her feet, snuggling cat, barking dogs, and a hubby calling over his shoulder, she is nearly always writing something … when she can find the time.
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