Pieces of a Life (Life #3) Read Online Jewel E. Ann

Categories Genre: Romance Tags Authors: Series: Life Series by Jewel E. Ann

Total pages in book: 97
Estimated words: 93723 (not accurate)
Estimated Reading Time in minutes: 469(@200wpm)___ 375(@250wpm)___ 312(@300wpm)

The summer before fourth grade, Colten Mosley moved into the house across the street from mine, and we became inseparable.
He played the piano and baseball.
I had a penchant for dead things while at the same time imagining what it would be like to kiss Colten.
We were filled with curiosity and overly active imaginations.
We were also forbidden to be more than friends.
But that didn’t stop us.
Weeks before graduation, he annihilated my heart, and it’s been seventeen years since the day I knew I’d hate him forever.
Now he’s back in my life—a single dad and a homicide detective looking over my shoulder while I perform autopsies as one of Chicago’s most gifted forensic pathologists. Then fate throws us a curveball.
Colten saves my life, but he can’t erase the images that now keep me awake at night. And I can’t explain them.
Am I still the girl he’s always loved? Or nothing more than pieces of that life?



“My dad said I need to stay close to you until my mom comes back. He’s afraid a bad person will hurt me.”

While my mom zips the back of my white gown, I stare at the little girl before me.

So innocent.

So loved.

So beautiful.

Her dad is right. There are bad people who do bad things to children.

However, we are at a private venue surrounded by family and close friends. Whether it’s right or not, this is the perfect example of allowing kids to roam freely until corralled at the last possible minute—there’s an assumption that someone is watching them.

Her dad is feeling extra protective today because Winston Jeffries preyed on little girls running around at family events, like weddings, between 1892 and 1901. Nearly a decade of kidnapping. Nearly a decade of long hair hanging from trees in churchyards. Just the hair.

The bodies were never found.

Jeffries was convicted of thirty-seven counts of first-degree murder and hanged in Owensboro, Kentucky, on February 10, 1902 without a single body discovered.

He took the location of the bodies to his grave.

“A bad person, huh?”

The young girl nods, her long, dark curls and pink ribbons bouncing with each tip of her chin.

Her father’s not worried about a mysterious “bad person.” He’s worried his bride might flee at the last second.

This girl has been sent here to keep an eye on me.

But why scare her? Why not just tell her I need help getting dressed? Why send her to deliver the one message that would make me want to kick off my heels, toss aside my veil, and run until my heart gives out?

“Mom, will you give us a minute?” I ask.

She straightens the skirt of my gown. “Sure. I need to check on your dad anyway.”

When it’s just the young girl and me, I bend down so we’re at eye level. “Do you trust me?”

She nods slowly, eyes wide.

“I think your dad is scared. Will you help him not to be so scared?”

Another slow nod.

“It means you have to be brave too. You have to do something really brave and trust me that it’s for the best. Can you do that?”

“I think so,” she whispers.

I riffle through my mom’s bag. She packed everything we could possibly need for any hiccup. My fingers curl around the orange-handled scissors, and I turn back to the girl. “Are you sure you’re brave?”

She stares at the scissors and nods.

“And you trust me?”

“Y-yes …”

“Come here.”

She shuffles her pink shoes toward me.

“Turn around.”

She turns around.

I remove the ribbon from the partial ponytail on the crown of her head. Then I tie it low, right above the nape of her neck.

She jumps when I cut her hair just above the tied ribbon, and the rest of her hair falls into a short bob around her chin when she turns toward me.

I smile, ignoring her parted lips and bugged-out eyes. “Take this to your dad and tell him you are safe. Then tell him I am just a star. If he takes a step back, he’ll see the whole galaxy.”

She hesitantly wraps her hand around the tail of hair.

“One more favor?” I turn and squat in front of her. “Unzip my dress.”


Seven months earlier …

I could use a naked body with a pulse. This thought summarizes my love life as I approach Paul Turner, my first swipe right in over a month.

Full head of blond hair neatly parted to the side.

Clean shaven.

Jeans, white button-down, and a navy blazer.

He’ll work. My standards are at an all-time low.

Paul sips his water and surveys the restaurant, blue-eyed gaze snagging on me as I weave my way through the chattering crowd, clinking dinnerware, and the tantalizing aroma of garlic. When he smiles, the tension vanishes, leaving nothing but relief. He not only looks like his profile picture; he looks better than his profile picture. This never happens.

“Josephine?” He stands.

“Paul?” I smile as he nods. “You can call me Josie.”