Every Sin We Erase (Redeeming Love Book 8), стр. 1
Every Sin We EraseA Redeeming Love Novel (#8)
Beta Read by Christina Youngren Edited by Sara Miller Cover Design by Letitia Hasser
Copyright © 2020 by J.E. Parker. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without prior written consent of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotation embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by the copyright law.
Resemblance to actual persons, things, living or dead, locales or events is entirely coincidental.
A Note From the Author
Also by J.E. Parker
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This novel contains scenes and/or situations that may be triggering for some readers. For specific questions about content, please message the author directly.
A Note From the Author
Every Sin We Erase is book one in James’s and Carmen’s two-part story.
It is NOT a standalone.
Book 2, Every Wound We Mend, is scheduled for release on July 16th.
Available for preorder now.
I love you.
I miss you.
I’m sorry I couldn’t save you.
Please forgive me.
The day I turned eighteen, they came for me.
It was a Friday, half-past midnight, and the scorching summer sun had dipped below the horizon just hours before, blanketing the streets in darkness.
Even so, the city still buzzed with life.
Like always, the incessant hum of passing traffic bled through my bedroom window as drivers navigated the narrow streets surrounding the small apartment I shared with Mamá and Alejandro, my twelve-year-old brother.
Knowing I should’ve been in bed hours before, I told myself that I hadn’t found sleep yet because of the constant noise that swirled around the room, echoing off the water-stained plaster walls.
But it was a mentira… a lie.
Eyes locked on the streaked mirror that hung on the back of my bedroom door, I stared at the girl who peered back at me, her tear-filled eyes a beacon for my unwavering gaze, leaving neither the time nor desire for rest.
No dream can compare, I told myself.
Not to this.
Still wearing the same pageant gown I’d worn earlier in the day, a silver crown rested atop my waterfall curled hair, while a sash hung over my bare shoulder and taffeta-covered chest, the black letters sewn to its silky front a stark contrast to my light pink dress.
Miss Colombia, they read.
A mixture of both happiness and disbelief bloomed in my belly as I repeatedly read the words, my chest rising and falling.
Just like Mamá had done at my age, I’d been crowned a beauty queen. And I’d done it on my birthday, gifting myself the one present I’d spent most of my life praying to receive.
But not for the reason most would think.
Unlike many of the other girls I’d competed against earlier in the day, the glitz and glamour that came with the title I now possessed meant nothing to me. I wasn’t vain, and I cared very little about being hailed as the most beautiful woman in the country.
It was the prizes I’d won in addition to the crown that mattered to me. All of which included a four-year academic scholarship, modeling contracts, and more pesos than Mamá earned in a year.
Each was an essential piece of the puzzle to my family escaping a city the cartel was destroying in waves, leaving nothing but the detritus of shattered lives in their wake.
It was a truth I’d learned the hard way years before when a local narco kidnapped my papá, a lifelong policeman, and tortured him to death after he refused to become a puppet for the cartel.
Like Mamá, he’d been stubborn and proud.
And with his life, he paid for being both.
After his death, Mamá had been thrust headfirst into a situation she wasn’t prepared to handle. Possessing no career skills and unable to secure employment, life had forced her to provide for Alejandro and me by using the only weapon she had.
A lady of the night, I saw the burning shame that flooded her tired eyes each morning she stumbled through the front door, her makeup smeared and golden-brown hair in disarray after spending hours walking the unforgiving streets.
“Don’t be like me, mi precioso,” she would always say, chin trembling. “Never allow someone to attach a price to something priceless. Especially not your body or p-pride.” Her voice always faltered on the last word, proving just how far she’d fallen since Papá’s unjust death. Spirit fractured, every ounce of dignity she’d ever had was long gone.
It broke my heart to see.
But I intended to fix it.
As soon as I finished university and received my nursing degree, I planned to take Mamá and Alejandro far away from Medellin and out of Colombia altogether. It might’ve taken me several years to accomplish such a grande goal, but I swore that one day I would stand on the sandy white beaches of Florida as the Atlantic washed over my feet and ankles, warming the coldness that seeped from the marrow of my chilled bones.
To my right would be Mamá.
And to my left would be Alejandro.
Finally safe, we’d become whole again.
Or so I thought.
I don’t know how long I’d been standing in front of the mirror, my head in the clouds, when a loud crashing sound echoed through the apartment as someone kicked in the flimsy backdoor, busting the weathered wood free of the rusted hinges.
Heart lurching high into my throat, I jumped in place as Alejandro jerked upright in bed, his sleepy brown eyes swimming with confusion. “Carmen,” he mumbled, tossing back the threadbare cover that blanketed his thin legs. “What was—”
He fell silent, lips becoming sealed as heavy footsteps pounded through the tiny living room, then the kitchen.
Vomit climbed my esophagus as the realization that whoever had burst into our home, the place that