Last Name Unknown

By Nicole Delgado All Rights Reserved ©

Mystery / Romance

Blurb

Addison Walker is a lot of things. Lucky isn’t one of them. When she finds herself with a concussion and in dire need of help, Addison has no one to turn to but her unfortunate new neighbor, Kade (Last Name Unknown). She doesn’t know a thing about him, but that doesn’t stop Addison from being inexplicably drawn to the tall, dark, and dangerously sexy stranger. But when her luck takes a turn for the worse and an attempt is made on her life, Addison finds herself on the run from unknown killers with no idea why. In sheer desperation, Addison reaches out to Kade, a man she barely knows and isn’t sure she can trust. Even though he’s just as mysterious and dangerous as those who want her dead, desperate times call for desperate measures. In less than forty-eight hours Addison’s uneventful existence turns into one full of dodging bullets, tiptoeing through creepy abandoned houses, and tripping over dead bodies all in an attempt to figure out who wants her dead and why. Will Addison figure out the mystery of Kade and her assailants before her bad luck finally turns deadly?

Chapter 1

Son of bitch!

Grabbing the slippery door handle with both hands, I yanked and pulled, kicking and swearing, as I tried to open the driver side door of my less-then-esthetically-pleasing piece of junk car. I knew my attempt was pretty futile considering I had locked my keys inside, but it was way too early in the morning for that type of logical thinking to occur.

After a tirade of swear words that would make a trucker blush, I leaned against the cold window, squinting against the downpour of rain, to see if I had left my keys on the seat again.

Nope.

Angling for a better look, I smacked my forehead against the window. Hard.

Ow! That’s smart.

No doubt I would end up with a beautiful purple bruise by tomorrow, conveniently located in the center of my forehead. There was no credible lie I could think of to explain how I got it, and damned if I was going to be so honest as to say I smacked myself with a window. So as I had become accustomed to doing, I started plotting the layers of makeup I would need to expertly apply in order to hide yet another painfully avoidable injury I had given myself. Clearly I needed more sleep in my life.

Seeing the wee morning hours after a completely sleep deprived night was a clear indicator this was going to be a very, very bad day. Locking my keys in the car had only confirmed my suspicions.

I should have known better then to venture out at this unholy hour but my body had literally been dragging when I finally pulled myself out of bed this morning. Seeing six am was unnatural and anyone that actually got up at that unholy hour on any day, especially a Saturday, should be drawn and quartered for being an idiot. In my case, the new neighbors above me had had another night of fighting and what I could only assume was a marathon of make-up sex. The walls had not stopped shaking all night. It was only after I finally dragged my butt out of bed that I got a reprieve from the noise. Apparently after their non-stop marathon, they had decided to re-fuel. It was the banging against their front door twenty minutes later that had me exiting the building post haste to get coffee. The fact that it was cold and rainy didn’t matter to me when the promise of a hot cup of coffee, porn free, was just a few minutes away.

Of course, in all my rush to get my first taste of ambrosia, I had forgotten my keys…again.

Using my hands as a shield against the bucket-o-raindrops beating down on my head, I contorted myself into an odd angle in hopes of seeing if I left my keys in the ignition, which I may or may not have been prone to doing from time to time. Why I didn’t use common sense and just look through my passenger side window is a moot point at this juncture. The point is, I finally found my keys, hanging from the ignition where I had clearly forgotten to remove them when I quickly jumped out.

It was wet, cold and too early for my morning to be starting off this way, but there you have it. Apparently I had done something really bad to warrant this waste of what should have been a perfectly quiet and leisurely Saturday morning. Common sense said I should have stayed my happy ass in bed (neighbors be damned), slept until noon and avoided going out into the chilling rain at all costs. If only I had listened to myself. Instead, here I was, rubbing my forehead in hopes I didn’t get a goose egg for my troubles and my coffee getting cold, if not water logged.

Life could be so cruel.

I looked up the heavens asking “why me” when a crack of thunder broke what had been a fairly quiet morning. I couldn’t be certain, but I was almost willing to bet that the big guy upstairs was laughing his butt off at me right now. All I can say is that I was not amused. While I myself enjoyed a good joke or two, I was never one to enjoy it when I was the butt of said joke.

Grabbing my coffee from the roof of my car, I sprinted back into the coffee house and got comfortable in one of the overstuffed chairs that sat by the window and fireplace. I sat forward, hoping to get warmed by the fire, but cautiously stayed far enough back to ensure that I didn’t accidentally set myself on fire. The way my morning was going, it was likely to happen.

Who was I kidding? If the last three months were any indication, catching fire would probably be the most likely item next on the list of avoidable accidents anyways, with or without a fireplace present.

I sat back with a sigh and reflected over the last three disastrous months of my life. I would love to say that I moved with grace and ease, but that would be a big ol’ lie. Nothing I did was ever graceful or done with ease. Not to say that I was always a disaster magnet, but lately, it seemed whenever I attracted trouble, I was doing it in spades.

Over the last three months, I had fallen down the concrete stairs outside of the courthouse where I was currently temping, managed to almost get run over crossing the street, and inadvertently ingested poison. And that was just the major “accidents” that happened. That didn’t count the numerous times I managed to lock my keys in the car or lose them completely, slept through my alarm and was late to work, fell down the stairs at home simply because I am unable to figure out how to navigate up and down the stairs in a pair of sling-backs, backed into my neighbors car (though I have yet to admit that little boo boo), and mistakenly opened a package meant for my new upstairs neighbors and was rendered speechless (which is a very rare occurrence) at the number of hard core sex toys they had purchased online. Talk about an awkward conversation.

I sighed again.

I have no idea why I seem to be a magnet for more than my fair share of bad luck lately, but I was exhausted dealing with it and my boyfriend Sean was starting to reach the end of his rope. Okay, he was at the end of his rope. Thanks to another avoidable injury at his job, I was the running joke at the PR firm where he worked. All because I had innocently not noticed that someone had stepped out of a conference room and left the glass door open. I had been so wrapped up in a conversation with his secretary Lily that I hadn’t been looking forward and walked straight into it.

Now something as simple as a face plant into a glass door should be a joke that dies a quick death, but in my case, I hit it with enough force that the hinge snapped on the door, sending the entire door crashing to the floor with a shatter that could be heard across four floors. Not to mention the big ol’ purple goose egg I sported on my forehead for two weeks. (But in my defense, a hundred and … pound female should not be able to knock a door of the hinges that easily. I’m still blaming shoddy workmanship.)

Sigh. Just another day in the life of Addison Walker.

I took a sip of my coffee, burning myself in the process, and decided to bite the bullet. It was barely after six and I knew that Sam would kill me for calling, but I was in desperate need of a rescue and calling Sean was out of the question.

Rifling through my oversized bag, I started the futile search for my cell phone. After about five minutes of searching, I finally found it conveniently located it at the very bottom of the bag. I have no idea why I always put it in there knowing I’m never going to find it later.

Blowing out a defeated sigh, I hit number two on my speed dial.

It was picked up after two rings.

“Someone had better be dead,” was the welcoming response I received.

“Good morning to you too beautiful,” I said with a smile in my voice that I knew would only annoy Sam more.

“Jesus Addison, do you have any freaking idea what time it is?” she asked.

“Unfortunately I know all too well.”

“What do you want?” she asked, suddenly suspicious.

“Nothing much…just a little rescue,” I said, blowing on my coffee and taking a careful sip to avoid burning my tongue off.

She sighed. “What did you do now?”

I shrugged as if she could see me. “Nothing much…just locked my keys in the car,” I said, leaving out the well implied “again”.

Another groan. “Please tell me you didn’t really call me for this.”

The sudden sound of a baritone voice in the background told me I had obviously interrupted something juicy.

“Do you have company?” I asked with a grin.

She hesitated a second too long before answering. “No.”

I laughed. “Liar. I want all the juicy details.”

“Did you use the spare key?” she asked, completely ignoring my request for gossip.

I almost choked on the sip of coffee I had just taken.

“Say what now?”

She sighed again.

For all the things she put up with when it came to me, Sam was a saint. For that reason alone, I ignored her tendency to talk to me like a five year old when she was annoyed with me…which come to think of it, was usually always. Why the hell did she put up with me?

“Do you remember the last time you locked your keys in your car? We got a small little magnetic box that we put under the car so that when this happened again, you could grab the box, open the box and use the spare key inside the box to get inside your car in order to retrieve your keys.”

Double mental forehead slap.

“Of course I remember. I was totally testing you to see if you remembered,” I replied pathetically.

“Bye Addison,” she said as she hung up.

Here I was, sitting alone in Starbucks on a wet, rainy, cold Saturday morning all in a failure of an attempt to avoid my neighbors whose sexual marathon was exhausting even me, while Sam was cuddled up nice and warm with one of her many gorgeous boy toys. I wasn’t jealous…much. I mean really, what did I have to be jealous of? Sean and I had a perfectly healthy sex life…a perfectly routine, always missionary, always on a bed with the lights off, vanilla sex life. (I wonder if they serve Bailey’s here?)

Downing the rest of my coffee, and burning my tongue off in the process, I grabbed my things and walked out to my car.

The rain had let up slightly, but if those clouds were any indication, there was about to be monsoon unleashed. If I could get in my car and get home before that happened I could try to salvage what was left of a perfectly good Saturday morning. Maybe even jump back in bed since the sex-a-thon above me had to have finally exhausted my neighbors.

Reaching under the back car bumper, I retrieved the box and key, unlocked my door, and then carefully placed the spare key back in the box before tucking it back under the car so that when this happened again tomorrow, I wouldn’t be screwed yet again.

Getting in my car, I let out a shuddering breath. The temperature outside was plummeting and I had a warm bed calling my name.

Grabbing tissue from the box I kept in the counsel between seats, I mopped rain water off my face and untangled the long, dark strands of hair that had whipped loose and were now plastered to my face. My blue eyes looked pale in the early morning light, or maybe it was because of the large dark circles under my eyes. No amount of concealer was going to mask those babies.

I shivered as I turned on the heat. A few minutes in the rain had soaked through my clothes and chilled me to the bone. Looking down, I could now understand why the barista (or is it baristo?) had been so attentive this morning. Clearly leaving the house in a white t-shirt sans bra had not been the smartest idea, especially now that it was soaked, practically invisible, and form fitted to my chest. I looked like a contestant in a wet t-shirt contest! (Fortunate for me I had always been well endowed so there was no doubt in my mind I would have taken first place.)

Slamming the car in reverse, I chastised myself yet again for having locked the doors. The dull pulsating pain of my head injury was a constant reminder that I was an idiot. Who on earth was going to steal this piece of junk? I should be so fortunate! Hell, I would probably have to pay someone to take it off my hands, but I had my pride so I wasn’t willing to dip into my trust fund or ask mommy and daddy for help. If driving a POS car was what it took to drive home the fact that I was an independent adult, then so be it. The fact that I had given the coffee guy a full frontal show of the girls and then injured myself with a window for my troubles was completely irrelevant.

I had just turned on to the main road when the down pour started again.

Great. It looks like I was going to drown twice in the same morning.

Fortunate for me, it only took three minutes to make it back home. All the smart people were burrowed in their beds at this hour so traffic was non-existent. Only real idiots (this gal right here) would venture out in this god forsaken hurricane. That settled it. Someday soon, probably not too much in the near future because I had a busy social calendar, I would make it to the store and actually stock up on coffee.

I pulled into my reserved spot right outside the front of my building. Home sweet, probably should be condemned, home. It was ugly. It was questionable. But it was cheap and all mine. Well, mine barring the six other people living in the building.

I sat motionless for a moment, debating the wisdom of actually going back out into the down pour. Looking behind me, I contemplated how comfortable the back seat would be and if it would just be wiser to curl up back there for a few hours of sleep then risk looking like a drowned rat again. I still wasn’t warm from the last excursion in the rain, and I wasn’t particularly looking forward to a repeat performance.

It was what I saw in my rearview window that steadied my resolve to suck it up and make a run for it.

An intimidating and seemingly dangerous black SUV sat parked across the parking lot again. Over the past week it had been appearing at random, both day and night. It didn’t seem to park in the same spot twice, and I hadn’t seen anyone exiting or entering. I don’t know why, but I got the distinct impression that someone was definitely sitting inside watching. What the hell they were watching for or who, I have no idea. I had taken the liberty of asking my neighbors if they knew who the owner was, but they all looked at me like I was crazy when I brought it up. Apparently none of them had noticed this mysterious vehicle so I think the overall consensus in the building was that I was just imaging things. To hell with them. Just another reason why none of them were on my Christmas card list.

Seeing as how I was oh so subtlety staring at the mysterious figment of my imagination, it was pretty obvious to me that I wasn’t crazy after all. The SUV was there. It did exist. And now it was officially suspiciously questionable.

If I were any kind of true bad ass, I would walk over and find out who the hell they were and what the hell they wanted. But reality is I wasn’t brave enough (read: stupid enough) to do anything that crazy so I decided that braving the elements was a much smarter decision then potentially pissing off some Tony Soprano wannabe sitting behind the wheel and finding myself outfitted with cement boots.

Stealing myself for the cold blast of air that would come once I opened the door, I psyched myself up like I was a quarterback about to run on to the field for the big game. Opening the car door, I took careful measure to grab my keys, and ran like hell to the front door. Fortunate for me I only got modestly soaked by the time I got up the stairs and into the foyer.

Shaking myself off like a giant dog, I sighed as I stared up at the three floors above, lamenting in the fact that at this early hour I was going to have to trek it up two flights of stairs to get to my apartment. I prayed I had the energy to get past the first four steps. The elevator in the building had been out of commission since the days of Reagan and was not likely to be repaired prior to the invention of the time machine. (Hey, I said the place was cheap, not functional.)

So why did I live on the third floor in a building with no running elevator? I can tell you it’s not because I am a health nut that finds the exertion relaxing or enjoys hefting an armload of grocery bags up two flights of stairs. No, I live here simply because I thought it was pretty. I know. Sound reasoning.

The truth is the most endearing quality about the building was the architectural beauty of the open floor plan that gave you an unobstructed view of the cathedral ceiling painted in abstract bright colors lit only by the large picture windows scattered around the fourth floor hallway. That had been the lone reason why I had decided to move in, completely bypassing the common sense reasons that most people looked for in their future dwellings, such as running water, working elevators and locks that actually locked.

After a painfully long hike up two flights of stairs, I stopped in the hallway just outside my door listening to hear if the bunnies I called neighbors above were going at it still. I sighed in contentment at the silence all around me. Doing a little happy dance, I unlocked my apartment door and went inside; throwing my bag and soaking coat over the chair I kept by the door for such occasions.

I made it precisely four steps into my living room when I realized I wasn’t alone.

What exactly happened after that, I’m not sure.

The only thing I remember was the floor rushing up to meet my face.

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