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Almost Never (Resetter Series Book 4)

Almost Never (Resetter Series Book 4)

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Could there be love for Josh this time around? Businessman Josh Porter was burnt out. The most logical step was for him to take a vacation to Jamaica where he had recently bought a house. He had no intention to do anything other than vegetate for six months but his mother had other plans for him. Unable to correspond with her prison pen pal, she asks Josh to fill in for her. Josh reluctantly agrees and then unexpectedly gets involved with convicted killer Portia Gordon, to the point where he would do anything to see her go free.

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Chapter One

Fort Augusta Adult Correctional Center, Jamaica, January 2017

"If you could change one thing about your life what would it be?" Portia read the question out loud to her cellmates, and they laughed heartily.
"My pen pal is an idiot!" she snorted. "How can you ask a woman in prison what she would change? Getting put in prison of course."
She made a face at the letter and then continued reading. "I would like to know more about you. I know this our third letter to each other, but I hardly know a thing about you. You've been very vague. Is your name really Honey Pee Gordon and are you just nineteen years old? You write with a maturity far beyond your years."
"Honey Pee?" Inga asked in her heavy German accent. "That sounds gross."
"It was the best that I could come up with," Portia snorted. "If I told my pen pal my real name, they would go and research stuff on me, and then I would have no pen pal.
"I like this lady. She sounds nice. Her letters are something to look forward to in this hellhole. Whenever you heifers leave, you always promise to write and I never hear back from any of you."
"You know you wouldn't write us back either," Janet said squinting over her glasses. "When you leave here, you try to forget that you were ever in this situation and that means you forget some of the friends you have made here. It's just life."
Janet was a teacher who had been caught trying to smuggle cocaine through the airport for her boyfriend. Through the years, more persons like her were added to the prison population. Couple years ago they had a cellmate who was a lawyer. She had stolen from her clients.
"I'll remember you, Honey Pee," Inga said gutturally. "But writing you, I don't know about that. I didn't even know people still write to each other with pen and paper. You know that there is a thing called the Internet?"
"Of course she does," Hailey smirked. "She has not been in here that long."
"Yes, I have been in here a long time—twelve years," Portia said sarcastically. "This January makes twelve wonderful years of Fort Augusta hospitality."
The rest of the girls laughed because there was nothing wonderful about Fort Augusta and none of them would be staying in there for that length of time.
Of the twelve of them who were jammed in the cell, Portia was probably the only one who had not been a drug mule. She was there the longest. She had a sort of seniority among them.
She had been housed in Fort Augusta from she was little more than a girl. An oversight by the state that had never been corrected because she had nobody to lobby on her behalf.
No family.
No friends.
One year a children's advocate had taken up her cause, but then she had turned eighteen and had lost the little veneer of sympathy that she might have gotten from some segments of society.
After all, she was the girl who had sent a collective gasp of horror reeling through the country after her crime. She was the girl who had lawmakers calling for the resumption of capital punishment and churchgoers, especially from her father's flock, asking for her head on a stick.
"Hey, Honey Pee." Janet snapped her fingers. "Tell us about your pen pal."
Portia snapped out of her reverie and took up the letter. It was on good quality paper, and the handwriting was very pretty.
"My pen pal is a grandmother of four. She is recently retired and has a lot of time on her hands. She says her women's group decided to do something different for a change and they decided to mentor women in prison through the pen pal program."
Portia shrugged. "I think it is a great idea."
"Yeah, brilliant," Inga snorted. "Why didn't I get a letter from one of these charitable ladies?"
"Because you will get out soon. I think they correspond with people who are going to be here for a long time."
"I have a pen pal." Janet rolled her eyes. "She writes me pages and pages of scripture. I had to tell her to stop. It feels like we have church services here every day. I think she is missing the point of the whole pen pal thing."
Portia nodded. "My pen pal is really trying to include me in her life. She tells me stuff about herself, like the fact that she has two adult children. Her daughter is an interior decorator and has three children.
"Her son is a hotshot businessman who is currently single and has no plans to get married. They had a family reunion the other day, and she served her signature dish—bread pudding and vanilla ice cream."
"And yet you hide your real name from her." Inga snorted. "Tell her the truth and let the friendship be more honest."
"I might." Portia shrugged. "One day."
She picked up the letter and looked at her pen pal's name, Victoria Porter.
Portia wondered if she would ever hear from Victoria again if she told her her real name and her real situation.
Or would she drive such horror in the poor lady that her lone contact with the outside world would cease writing her?
She tucked the letter back into the envelope and heaved a telling sigh. She had long since given up on wondering what people thought of her. But something about Victoria Porter had her feeling wistful and hopeful.
She hadn't felt hopeful in years. She wasn't even sure that that was what she was feeling. There was something about a long stay in prison that sucked the hope right out of you, especially if you were locked up in a place like Fort Augusta since the age of fourteen.
When she had just been incarcerated, they had housed her with other juveniles. The warden had announced to the other girls that she was the notorious Portia, a gruesome killer.
The other girls had been afraid of her. Most of them had been in jail because they were deemed uncontrollable and not because of any serious crime.
She remembered her first days at Fort Augusta and the absolute despair and shock of the prison system.
She had to remind herself that there was nothing on the outside that was as bad as being in lock up.
She had missed her freedom with a numbing intensity. She had only permitted herself to cry at bathing time when she could wash away the tears and not lose her tough girl exterior.
Things had changed since then.
She had gone from young vulnerable juvenile to hardened inmate, even becoming annoyed when she heard the newer girls complaining about the conditions. Prison was what it was—the giant rats, the cockroaches, the overcrowded space, the unpalatable porridge and the lukewarm tea, the flies on the food, and the lack of water was a part of the life.
She preferred not to dwell on the negatives these days because the negatives could overwhelm and choke her with despair. She had seen too many inmates take their own lives over the years and she had vowed that she would never do the same.
It was humanly possible to get used to anything, and she had. It helped that she was now on Dorm 5. It was one of the better dorms.
From six o'clock to three o'clock she could be in the prison yard. The prison yard had plenty of palm trees and rocks for the inmates to sit on. She had her own little space on what they called freedom rock where she sat and inhaled the salty ocean breeze and watched the lazy, circling pelicans above.
And on Tuesdays to Thursdays, she got to play librarian when the volunteers came to teach computer science.
It wasn't all that bad in the courtyard compared to the overstuffed dorms, which were dark and depressing.
Hailey turned on her battery-operated radio, a luxury item that she was only able to afford because she was a British citizen. Their embassy visited the prison once a month and carried supplies for them. They even gave the girls money so that they could afford stuff from the tuck shop.
The rest of the girls stopped talking among themselves and listened to the radio when Hailey turned it on. The popular radio talk show host, Mikey P, was on. The girls liked to listen to him.
"Okay listeners. Are you ready?" Mikey P said in his over the top way. "We have an interview with the lovely Addison Vassell. She wrote the book, Resetters. The book is a semi-fiction novel that talks about time travelers who can reset the past.
"All resetters need to do is to make a connection with a pathway and think about the time they want to go back to and bam, they are there, in their past bodies with their current consciousness.
"Isn't that super cool? Resetters are identified by having only two lines in their palms. If there are any resetters out there holler at me, I'll be in the studio. I wouldn't mind resetting last Saturday night."
Every girl looked down at her palms when he said that.
Ingrid was the first to snicker. "If only..."
"I second that," Portia snorted.
"Shhh," Hailey muttered. "I want to hear what Mikey P is saying."
"Now listeners," Mikey P crooned, "Addison Vassell has four clues in her book about where to find the pathways in Jamaica. If you can give me the answers to the clues, then twenty-five thousand dollars is yours. The person with the most answers wins. That means you do not need to give me all the answers, three out of four is good; two out of four is good or even one out of four.
"That's it, our standards are that low and guess what, we give you a full week to get the answers, no pressure. Cut off time to enter is next week Monday at midday.
"You can email your answers to Get your pens and pencils or whatever you are using to write and write the clues down."
Portia snapped up the envelope and her pen. She could do with a few luxuries in prison, underwear for instance, and money to get stuff from the tuck shop.
Sending the email would not be an issue. She could ask Scott to lend her his phone. Scott was their newest volunteer IT teacher. He had been there for six months now, and security had miraculously overlooked him taking in his phone.
Phones were not allowed inside the building, and she was surprised that Scott was not already found out by the powers that be, but she was not complaining.
Scott obviously liked her. It hadn't taken him two weeks to realize that she was a lot more advanced than his regular crop of students. She had taken a liking to computer programming after reading several of the old tomes in the library on the subject.
Scott had lent her a more modern book on Java programming, and she had lapped it up like a thirsty child in the middle of a desert.
Scott had rewarded her enthusiasm with the use of his phone. She had set up an email address a few months ago and was using the Internet like a pro.
She had never sent out an email before, but this Mikey P guy was tempting her. She obviously couldn't enter the competition under her real name, Portia Gordon; even after twelve years in prison, she was well known for her crimes.
She would ask Scott or his assistant, Grace, to do it for her. She could trust them to give her the money.
"Here goes!" Mikey P interrupted her reverie and played a jingle from his repertoire. They had to wait for a good five minutes before he finished promoting his program.
A breathy female voice came on the airwaves: Mikey P you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind. Mikey, oh Mikey.
Portia chuckled. She and the girls had been listening to Mikey P for the past year since Hailey got the radio. He had become a part of their afternoon routine. Some of the girls were chanting with the breathy voiced girl on the radio.
Inga, as usual, was the first to throw cold water on their fun. "That Mikey P guy is probably fugly."
"Shut up, Inga!" some of the girls squealed. "His song says he is so fine, deal with it."
Ingrid giggled uncontrollably. "Mikey P probably looks like Mr. Frazier from the Real McCoy. Anybody ever watch that show?"
"I did, I loved Mr. Frazier!" Janet started laughing with her and Hailey joined.
Portia shook her head at them. She had no idea what they were talking about, but Hailey described Mr. Frazier, and then the whole dorm joined in with the laughter.
"Okay!" Mikey P came back on the air. "The first clue for the pathway is: In a land that is cool, the stone is blue, palm to palm you'll know what to do.
"The second clue for the pathway: At the side of the road in plain sight, covered in stone lays a resetter and his ride.
"And the third pathway clue is: Nestled in a rock with grime and filth lays a gem in the midst of it, for a resetter do with it what he wilt.
"And the last one: The keystone in the arch looks unassuming, but many a resetter has placed their hand on it and escaped a dooming."
Portia scribbled down the clues, reading them over in her head.
Mikey P repeated the clues and then chuckled. "These are hard. Even Addison is not sure where all the pathways are."
"That's very true Mikey P," Addison said in her smooth husky voice. "I have seen these clues for years, and I have never really tried to solve them."
Portia picked up the envelope and looked at it again. She was good with clues. She half listened to the interview with Addison Vassell while she stared at the clues, trying to work them out."
"I started the resetter book seventeen years ago," Addison said, "but I never quite got the chance to finish it."
"What is the book about?" Mikey P asked. "Give the listeners a break down in a sentence or two."
"Just a sentence?" Addison asked. "That's a tall order but let's see. It's about a girl who goes back in time to save her family from some bad things that happened. She found out she was a resetter and decided to change things for them."
"So, she had the two lines in her palms?" Mikey P stressed.
"Yes," Addison answered, "and she found a pathway in her backyard."
"How convenient though, Addison, that she had a pathway in her backyard." Mikey P laughed. "You could have made things a little harder for her."
"Well, it is semi-fictional," Addison said. "I based the book on Mrs. Gwendolyn Fisher's diaries and a resetter named Oswald King who used to write for the Gleaner way back in the days. It so happens that Mrs. Fisher had a pathway in her backyard, which became my backyard in the late eighties. The pathway is a slab of blue stone that looked like it could be precious but wasn't."
"You don't say." Mikey P whistled. "Fascinating, tell the listeners more."
"It's all fictionalized in the book." Addison chuckled. "Though I want to remind listeners that the pathway clues are not made up by me. I got those from Oswald King's account. I only know about the pathway from my childhood home."
"And where are you from?" Mikey P asked.
"Cool, cool Mandeville," Addison chuckled. "I see what you did there, Mikey."
"I hope the listeners got it," Mikey P said dramatically, "but for now I am going to play a highly requested song, Holding Back The Years by Simply Red. Thank you for stopping by."
Portia got it.
On the back of the envelope, she wrote Mandeville, blue stone in Addison Vassell's backyard as the first clue. She just had three more to solve, and she would be in for some money.
She closed her eyes and listened to the song. Some of the girls knew the lyrics by heart and were singing along. It was a reflective song. It was her life story. She curled the envelope in her chest and listened to the song.