Read Conviction (A Stand-alone Novel): A Bad Boy Romance Online
Authors: Ellie Danes
Tags: #A Bad Boy Romance
A Bad Boy Romance
First Edition, April 2016
Copyright © 2016 by Ellie Danes
This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is entirely coincidental. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events and situations are the product of the author's imagination.
All rights reserved. No parts of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without written consent from the author.
This book is available exclusively on Amazon.com. If you found this book for free or from a site other than Amazon.com country specific Amazon websites it means the author was not compensated for this book and you have likely obtained this book through an unapproved distribution channel.
Table of Contents
Ayden King has no one to blame but himself. He took the fall for his best friend and after fifteen years in prison, he’s finally out and determined to turn his life around. Locked up when he was barely 18, he went in a nice, innocent kid, and came out a hardened bad boy with an attitude. But Ayden never expected that life on the outside would turn out like this.
Autumn Bishop worked her way to the top. She doesn’t have time for games or players, but that’s exactly what she’s surrounded herself with and when Ayden King stumbles into her life, she learns that you can’t always judge a person by their conviction.
Conviction is a steamy, bad boy romance filled with twists and turns.
"On your feet, A. K., special delivery." The guard kicked the cell door to punctuate his loud announcement.
"Why can't you call me by my last name?" I asked. I took my time sitting up. "Every other prisoner is called by their last name even though there's like a hundred Browns in here."
"Ain't no way I'm calling you by your last name, your majesty," the guard pulled open the cell door. "Now get up and get your suit before I drop it. Wouldn't want you all wrinkled for your release."
"That's not my suit.” The garment bag was of finer material than I had seen for fifteen years. I balanced the hanger on one finger and dangled the suit far from my body. "I'm gonna put this on and find out you got it from a morgue or something, aren't I?"
"Cause I got a lot of time to plan pranks on you. Move along, A. K., we ain't got time or space for you anymore," the guard said. He tossed a shoebox on the floor and slammed the cell door. "You got ten minutes to change and gather your things before you walk."
"It’s okay to cry, Jenkins. Just let it out," I said. "I'll miss you too."
The guard paced away down the cellblock with his middle finger displayed over his shoulder. I unzipped the garment bag, tossed the suit on my bunk, and crossed my arms. Despite being a black suit befitting a funeral, the damn thing was a marvel. I could see the quality of the fabric, the sharp tailored cut, and the expensive brand name. Fifteen years inside had not kept me unaware or immune to the finer things in life. That suit was better than my entire life up to that point.
A note stuck out of the breast pocket. I pulled it out and laughed.
Suit up and give me twenty.
Instead of our football coach's gruff voice, it was my buddy Jace's impression that I heard in my memory. It had been our signal to go all through high school. He'd call it out, and we'd skip class, or I'd say it and we'd ditch out on a lame party and find some trouble.
I folded the scrap of paper neatly and slipped it back in the pocket. After seeing that note, I could not hesitate anymore. It was time to go.
I pulled on the crisp light blue shirt and yanked the suit off the hanger. The fresh, clean scent made me dizzy. My heart hammered in my chest, but I focused on what I was doing. Just a mundane task, just getting dressed. Inside the shoebox, I found a black leather belt and oxblood leather shoes polished to a mirror sheen. The pants were loose in the waist, so I tightened the belt. Other than that, the suit fit perfectly; wide in the shoulders, narrow in the waist, and long in the legs.
I looked in the scuffed mirror above my stainless steel sink and held my breath. There was a man there I had never seen. I wanted to be him, but I held up the black silk tie and felt like I was still an eighteen-year old kid. The last time I had tied a tie, badly, was at my sentencing.
My chest burned as I knotted the silk tie and bullied it into place. My father had never bothered to teach me how to tie a tie. The bailiff had redone it for me before I entered court. Then I was sentenced to fifteen years. No need for a tie inside.
"Heads up, A. K…" The guard opened my cell door and tossed a plastic bag at my head.
I caught it just as a ragged paisley tie slipped out. The rest of the rumpled, brown wool, hand-me-down suit I had worn at my sentencing was balled up inside the plastic bag.
The second bag Jenkins hurled at me held my wallet and keychain. The longhorn mascot dug into my hand as I caught it mid-air.
"I get that you're upset, Jenkins. Don't worry, I'll write.”
"Your gate money's in your wallet. Hundred bucks says I'll see you back here in a few."
"No bet." I slipped the wallet in my back pocket and tossed the keychain in the garbage. I would never go home, and I would never be back.
"Opening 211!" Jenkins boomed.
My cell door slid back all the way. I was free to go.
"Shit, look at that suit. A kid walked in and the devil's walking out." The old man in the cell next to me crossed himself.
"No need to pray for me any more, old timer," I said.
"Gimme that suit and you can have my soul," the next prisoner said.
"All you need is to finish your computer class. See you on the outside.” I kept walking.
Jenkins moved me like a prisoner despite my suit and new status. The rest of my goodbyes had to be sneers or nods. Men I had known for half my life acknowledged me with a glance through their bars. Thinking about it turned my legs to lead, so I concentrated on the door.
Doors. One from the cellblock, two through processing, and one through the main gates. The final door to the outside world was an ordinary gray metal door with a scuffed handle.
Jenkins laughed when my hand hesitated. "Better hope luck is on your side now. You're gonna need it."
His mean sneer fell away when I opened the door, and we both saw the limousine. The black shine of the sleek vehicle defied both the dusty white road and faded denim sky. The graying concrete of the Federal Correctional Institute at Three Rivers cast no reflection on the limousine. It was untouchable.
"Is that a tear I see, Jenkins? Pull yourself together, man. Here, fix your face for gods sake." I crumpled up my ugly old tie and tossed it at him.
"That's not for A. K., is it?" Jenkins asked the guard at the door.
"Waiting for one Ayden King," the guard said. He shrugged and pulled the door closed. "Good luck, King."
"Don't call him that, man," Jenkins snarled.
Then the guards were gone, locked away inside FCI Three Rivers, and I was on the outside.
"Well, look at that. You really can polish a turd," a large man lumbered out of the limousine. "Yeah, you look like
shit, but you're just a shit. Remember that."
"Least I'm not shaped like one. Looking a little lumpy, there short stuff," I said.
Jace Knight was only two inches shorter than me, but he was at least fifteen pounds heavier with the powerful build of a running back that carried the ball straight through the tackles. He punched me on the shoulder before he pulled me in for a tight hug. I felt his arms and chest constrict, but I pushed him away before he could say anything.
"Thanks for the suit, Jace."
"Damn, my tailor's good. All I did was send him a picture. That's some magic, am I right?" Jace asked.
"Magic is seeing you out here." I rocked back on my heels. "What's with the ride?"
"You think I'm letting you take the bus to San Antonio? Get in the limo, King."
Jace dove in and knocked on the divider. We pulled away before I even sat down. I sat with my palms down on either side of me and resisted the urge to stroke the soft leather. The luxury interior was climate-controlled to erase the hot Texas afternoon. I noticed fiber optic stars shining in the ceiling and smiled. I felt like I had fallen off the planet and this was definitely another world.
"Seriously, man, it is great to see you." Jace smiled and rubbed his hands together. "I know I didn't come to visit enough. I should have been there every week."
I gritted my jaw against the guilt I heard in Jace's voice. "Nah, man. You were there often enough on the rec room TV. The real thing you need to apologize for is retiring before I got to see you in action. How am I supposed to brag about my NFL buddy now?"
"You've never bragged about me," Jace studied my face. "You've never bragged about a thing in your life."
"Family tradition," I muttered.
"Speaking of family, I wondered if your father would be here to pick you up. How often did the old man visit?" Jace asked.
"He came the first week. I think my lawyer made him."
"And you haven't seen him since?" Jace balled his large hand into a fist.
"Here and there but it’s been what, five years since the last drop-in," I said. "I kinda wondered if he was dead, but one of my buddies inside checked around online, and I hear he's still breathing."
Jace opened a hidden mini fridge in the limousine and tossed me a cold can of beer. I turned it around and around in my hands. It was the same cheap old brand that was at all the parties when we were in high school.
"We can't pick up right where we left off, but at least you can finally have that beer," Jace watched me with an expectant smile.
"You mean my first?" I asked.
My friend slapped both hands on his bald, white head, and dragged his palms over his face. "I'm not going to get over it, man. This is killing me. You've never had a beer before?"
"In between only being eighteen years old and getting sentenced to fifteen years in federal prison, yeah, I kind of missed the whole drinking a can of beer thing," I said.
Jace looked out the window and let fly a string of swearing that would have made the prison guards blush. "You were always such a good kid."
"I wish Jenkins could hear you say that. He'd shit his pants," I said. The thought of the prison guard's narrow eyes widening in disbelief made me laugh.
"It's not funny, Ayden. Damn."
"Oh, come on, it’s already embarrassing enough." I cracked open the beer and took a frothy sip. "And definitely not worth the wait."
"We'll get you some good beer at my place."
"I see how it is. Give the ex-con the watered down piss and save the good stuff for yourself," I complained.
Jace finally smiled. "Nah, man. I don't drink. I need to stay alert."
I looked around the secure cocoon of luxury that the limousine created around him. "I'm pretty sure you can relax."
"I got a lot of people that want things from me," Jace said, "and you know I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed. If I'm not paying attention someone slips hundreds of thousands of dollars out from under my nose. It's exhausting."
"I get it. You've got a lot to lose."
"Unlike you." Jace's smile curled with mischief. "All you seem to have is this plastic bag the guard tossed in here."
He held up the bag Jenkins had balled my old suit into. I had hoped to leave it behind at the prison, but the guard had tossed it in the open door of the limousine while I was greeting Jace.
"Let's just take a look-see, shall we?"
I grabbed his thick wrist and twisted. Jace dropped the plastic bag into my waiting hand, and I tossed it down the limousine away from him. "That's mine."
"Ouch, Jesus, yeah, I get it," Jace said. "Want to let go now?"
I wanted to let go but it took a minute. The iron grip I had on Jace's wrist was used to turning harder. By now I was usually snarling some warning in a punk's face. My fingers would not respond to my brain. Jace was incapacitated and I held him there.