Home > Only Mine (Only One #3)

Only Mine (Only One #3)
Author: Kennedy Fox

 

PROLOGUE

 

 

ARCHER

 

 

FIVE YEARS AGO

 

 

As I wait in my car for Annie, I know something’s wrong.

My sister was supposed to meet me for lunch twenty minutes ago, and she’s not answering my calls. She’s six months pregnant and sometimes gets caught up with morning sickness. However, she usually texts me if that’s slowing her down. I would’ve preferred to pick her up, but her drug dealer boyfriend doesn’t like me coming around. He knows I won’t take his bullshit, so we have to sneak behind Chad’s back.

Probably for the best because while I’ve had this talk with her dozens of times, I’ll give her my entire savings today if she’ll finally leave his ass. Selling drugs is bad enough, but he also treats my sister like a punching bag. I’ve seen bruises on her and nearly lost my shit. Right now, I have enough cash to move her away from here as long as she’s willing.

After another ten minutes of waiting and five calls sent to voicemail, I hightail it out of the parking lot and drive to her house. The neighborhood’s trashed on a good day, but it’s all she can afford. We didn’t grow up with much, and both got into some trouble trying to survive. However, after high school, Annie got her CNA license and turned her life around. I’ll always love and be proud of her, but we fight because of her god-awful taste in men. Perhaps she gets it from our mother. Lord knows Mom couldn’t have a stable relationship to save her life. Chad always has an excuse for why he can’t pay half the bills, so Annie constantly works overtime at the nursing home to cover them.

I park in front of her place and notice the screen door has been ripped off the hinges. My heart pounds as I race up the porch stairs and see tables and chairs flipped over.

“Annie!” I call out, and when I go into the kitchen, I freeze at the blood pooled around Chad’s skull. “Annie…”

“Archer, stay there,” she orders with panic in her tone.

“Are you hurt?” I ask, eyeing the handgun in her grip. “Give me that.”

“I-I didn’t mean to shoot him…” Her voice trembles as her hand shakes.

“Annie, gimme the gun,” I repeat as calmly as I can.

“He came home and started breaking everything. I’m not sure what set him off this time. It was like he was…”

“High off his ass,” I finish for her.

“He grabbed my arm and squeezed me so hard. I cried and begged him to let me go,” she explains between sobs. “That only pissed him off more, and he threw me to the ground, then started kicking and hitting me. When I saw the gun in his hand, I thought he was going to kill me.”

When she finally blinks up at me, I notice her nose and face are covered in blood.

“I managed to kick him in the groin, and when he fell to the ground, I grabbed it from him.”

“Annie, it’s okay…Give it to—”

“He stood and laughed, but it was a terrifying sound. Said I was gonna pay for that. Threatened to kill the baby. Called me a bunch of names, and when he came for me, I panicked and pulled the trigger.”

Tears fall down her red-stained cheeks.

“I shot him in the leg first. He barely flinched, so then I aimed for his head.”

“Good. You did the right thing,” I assure her. “He would’ve taken your life, Annie. You realize that, right?”

She stares off and nods, the shock of reality hitting her.

“Annie, it’s okay.” I hold out my palm, pleading for her to comply.

She slowly gives it to me, and I immediately wipe off her prints with a dish towel.

“Wash your hands,” I demand. “I shot him, got it?”

“What? Archer, no.” She scrambles for the gun, but I lift it out of her reach. “You’ll go to prison. It was self-defense. He was…”

“Kicking your ass,” I grind out. “He kicked you in the stomach again?”

She nods, then turns around and lifts her shirt where his shoe prints are embedded into her pale skin.

“The ribs,” I spit out. At least he had some decency not to kick the baby.

“And if we can’t prove self-defense, you’ll be giving birth in a jail cell. Even if you don’t get prison time, the strain of going to court could put the baby in distress. Not risking that.” I turn her around to face me. “I’ll tell them I walked in on him hitting you, grabbed the gun, then shot him twice. With your injuries, it’s believable. You need to go to the ER and get an ultrasound.”

She covers her belly with her hands. “I can feel her kicking.”

I blow out a breath and kiss her forehead. “Thank God for that.”

“Archer, I can’t let you take the blame.”

“You never reported his abuse, Annie. There’s no documentation. You shooting him won’t be justified without witnesses or a paper trail of repeated behavior. You might get away with claiming self-defense, but without any medical evidence of priors, you could still get jail time. Again, I’m not risking that. You and the baby deserve better. I have twenty thousand in cash. Do not use it to bail me out, got it? You take it and get the hell out of here. Away from his family and this town.”

“Where did you get that kind of money?” she asks as I put my fingerprints on the gun.

“Don’t worry about it, okay? It’s yours. Use it.” Then I direct her to grab it from my car and hide it before the police confiscate it.

“Archer, I can’t do this. What if they don’t believe you?” Her face is red and blotchy, and covered in more tears.

“They will. A tatted-up guy from the wrong side of the tracks will be plenty convincing. Chad was beating you, you’re my pregnant sister, and that’s plenty of motive. As long as you stick to the story, Annie. Understand?” I wipe her cheeks, and she winces at the touch. “Trust me, okay? I need you to do exactly what I say.”

“I trust you.” She nods. “I just wish you wouldn’t do this.”

“I’d do anything for you.” I rest my palm over her baby bump. “Take care of my niece.”

After Annie repeated the story to me without hesitation, I called 911. I told dispatch what I’d done to protect my sister. Ten minutes later, five squad cars arrive, and the officers get out with their weapons pointing at me. As soon as I walked out of the house, I tossed the gun on the ground and held up my hands in surrender. They charged forward, pulling my wrists into cuffs while reading me my Miranda rights. I don’t have extra money for a lawyer, so I’ll wait until they can get me a court-appointed one before I talk.

Annie’s escorted outside with tears streaming down her face as I’m put in the back of a cop car.

“I love you,” I mouth.

“Love you too,” she says.

It takes two hours before I’m assigned an attorney. Before the detective questions me, I go over the events that led me to shooting Chad.

“He was uncontrollable and wouldn’t stop beating Annie, so I shot him in the leg. When he continued to punch Annie’s face, I aimed higher.” Since they took my sister to the hospital and can see her bruises, it’s obvious that part is true.

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