Almost Never

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 really 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 cell mate 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 law makers calling for the resumption of capital punishment and church goers, 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 about 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….

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