Read Bitter Root Online

Authors: Laydin Michaels

Bitter Root

Table of Contents
Synopsis

Adi Bergeron doesn’t want to be discovered. Discovery could
lead to her arrest or worse. She just wants to keep flying under the radar,
safe and anonymous. She may have to give up the life she’s built for herself
when the restaurant she works in is chosen to be featured in a culinary
magazine.

Reporter Griffith McNaulty has had a rocky year. She’s
struggling to rebuild herself after having her reputation destroyed and her
heart broken by a previous interview subject. She’s jaded and hesitant to
accept the flimsy story Adi presents as her past. The relationship that
develops between them cements Griffith’s need to find Adi’s truth. Can she get
to the root of Adi’s fear or will the past destroy them both?

Bitter Root

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Bitter Root

© 2016 By Laydin Michaels. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN 13: 978-1-62639-657-9

This Electronic Book is published by

Bold Strokes Books, Inc.

P.O. Box 249

Valley Falls, New York 12185

First Edition: August 2016

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places,
and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used
fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business
establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

This book, or parts thereof, may not be
reproduced in any form without permission.

Credits

Editors: Victoria Villasenor and Cindy Cresap

Production Design: Susan Ramundo

Cover Design By Melody Pond

By the Author

Forsaken

Bitter Root

Acknowledgments

Thank you to MJ, my rock, for always being in my corner, no
matter the odds. Thank you to the fantastic, professional staff at Bold
Strokes, you make dreams come true every day. Special thanks to Vic for all
your help with the editing. Thank you to every dreamer out there, who finds a
connection with the worlds we create. I hope to never disappoint you.

Dedication

For Gloria and Jerome 1945–2005, through your example, we
learned to love. Live a lot, laugh a lot, love a lot.

Prologue

Merley skipped through the shop looking for her papa. She
had completed the signing in of deliveries at the dock, just like he asked her.
He was supposed to take her to Conq’s store to get a limeade, and she was
excited to go because her best friend Rachel was going to be working the
counter today.

Just wait
till I tell her! She’s not going to believe it. I still don’t believe it. How
did Papa rent the whole theater for my party? Who cares? We’ll have all the
popcorn and candy we can eat, plus we get to watch all my favorite movies.
Julie Messier is going to turn green when she hears. Too bad she’s a big ole
mean thing. No invitation for her. It’s going to be so much fun. Twelve is
going to be the best birthday ever.

Life was so good since Mamma had married J.B. and he had become
her papa. Before then, Mamma was as apt to knock her to the floor as to look at
her. When her daddy died in the shrimping accident, it was like a bee got stuck
in her undershorts. She was always mean. Merley pretty much stayed out of her
way. She didn’t want to make her mamma mad, so she mostly hid from her. J.B.
had changed all that. When he started dating Mamma, she mellowed. She smiled
again and even laughed from time to time. He gave Merley just about anything
she asked for. He was the best papa in the world and he was all hers.
Take that,
Julie Messier.

She ran through the heavy wooden door to the back room, buzzing
with anticipation, but stopped short. At first she wasn’t sure what she was
seeing. There was Papa, holding tight to the arm of their neighbor, Ransom
Prejean. Papa had something in his fist, and as she watched, he slammed it
across Ransom’s face, opening a channel of skin and spraying blood all the way
across the room. She bit back her scream, but not before both men looked her
way.

She was frozen in place, but Papa moved toward her quickly. He
grabbed her around the waist with one arm and used the other to wrap her small
hand around the grip of a pistol.

“Take him out, baby girl. This scum tried to rip us off.” He held
the gun pointed at Ransom, keeping it from shaking in her hand. And then he
squeezed her finger against the trigger before she could make a sound of
protest. The gun jerked in her hand as the noise blasted through her. She
watched the hole erupt in the center of Ransom’s chest, more blood spraying out
behind him.

She couldn’t stop looking at his face. He looked just like that
boy at school who fell into the coulee, his expression showing surprise and
fear. But while the boy had quickly caught his balance and recovered, Ransom
just melted into the bloody mess around him. Merley felt a sharp ache in her
own chest, tight, like a knife going through her.

Am I gonna
die too? Am I having a heart attack?

Papa spun her around so she was facing away from the carnage.
“Look at me, Merley. You done a good thing here. That man was worthless and had
to go. I’m proud of you, baby. Nobody cheats a Nerbass and lives to tell about
it. Right?”

She felt herself coming loose then, drifting away from that place
and its gore. She started shaking everywhere, her stomach all roiling and
twisting.
What’s
happening? Papa? I’m going to throw up. So much blood. If I throw up, it’ll get
all mixed with that blood
. She felt hot tears burn down her cheeks.
What’s happening
?
Spittle hit her face, shocking her back to the present. Her papa was
practically yelling in her face.

“You hear me, Merley? I’m proud of you, baby. You didn’t do
nothing wrong.”

She struggled to reconnect, words choking out of her desert dry
throat. “But…why? He’s dead, Papa. Why?”

“You killed him, that’s why. It needed doing, and you did it.
Now, don’t you fret none. I’m going to dump him so far out in the marsh that
nobody is ever going to find him. It’s a better thing him being gone. Besides,
the gators need to eat too.”

“But, Papa, what about Max and Ellie? He’s their daddy. We gotta
call the police, Papa. It was an accident. I didn’t mean to hurt him.”

He began to drag Ransom to the hatch in the floor that opened
above his skiff tied up below the shop.

“Stop that foolish talk, girl. He was a terrible daddy to those
kids. He’s gone now and he’s not coming back. We have to get rid of him so they
don’t take you to jail. Listen now. Get that bucket and mop over there and
clean this place up. We don’t want anybody to walk in and see what you did.
There’s some bleach on the shelf. Drag the hose up here from the hatch and wash
it all away, baby girl.”

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