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Authors: Angie Martin

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False Security

BOOK: False Security
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FALSE SECURITY

 

Angie Martin

 

This edition published by Indie World
Publishing & Author Services via Kindle

 

Text © Angie Martin 2013

© Angie Ross 2004

ISBN: 9781301378739

 

This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real
people, or real places are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places,
and events are products of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to
actual events or places or person, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

All rights reserved. In accordance with U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, the
scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of any part of this book without
the permission of the publisher constitute unlawful piracy and theft of the
author’s intellectual property. If you would like to use material from this
book (other than for review purposes), prior written permission must be
obtained by contacting the publisher. Thank you for your support of the
author’s rights.

 

Cover Art by:
Book Cover Machine

 

To learn more about author Angie
Martin, visit her website at
www.angiemartinbooks.com

 
 

Indie
World Publishing & Author Services

P.O. Box 819

Dewey, AZ 86327

www.indieworldpub.com/

 

This work of fiction contains adult
situations that may not be suitable for children under eighteen years of age.
Recommended for mature audiences only.

Table of
Contents

Prologue

Part One

Chapter
One

Chapter
Two

Chapter
Three

Chapter
Four

Chapter
Five

Chapter
Six

Chapter
Seven

Chapter
Eight

Chapter
Nine

Chapter
Ten

Chapter
Eleven

Chapter
Twelve

Chapter
Thirteen

Chapter
Fourteen

Chapter
Fifteen

Chapter
Sixteen

Chapter
Seventeen

Chapter
Eighteen

Chapter
Nineteen

Chapter
Twenty

Chapter
Twenty-one

Chapter
Twenty-two

Chapter
Twenty-three

Chapter
Twenty-four

Chapter
Twenty-five

Chapter
Twenty-six

Chapter
Twenty-seven

Chapter
Twenty-eight

Chapter Twenty-nine

Chapter
Thirty

Chapter
Thirty-one

Chapter
Thirty-two

Chapter
Thirty-three

Chapter
Thirty-four

Chapter
Thirty-five

Part Two

Chapter
Thirty-six

Chapter
Thirty-seven

Chapter Thirty-eight

Chapter
Thirty-nine

Chapter
Forty

Chapter
Forty-one

Chapter
Forty-two

Chapter Forty-three

Chapter
Forty-four

Chapter
Forty-five

Chapter
Forty-six

Chapter
Forty-seven

Chapter
Forty-eight

Chapter
Forty-nine

Chapter
Fifty

Chapter
Fifty-one

Chapter
Fifty-two

Chapter
Fifty-three

Chapter
Fifty-four

Chapter
Fifty-five

Chapter
Fifty-six

Chapter
Fifty-seven

Chapter
Fifty-eight

Chapter
Fifty-nine

Chapter
Sixty

Chapter
Sixty-one

Chapter
Sixty-two

Part Three

Chapter
Sixty-three

Chapter
Sixty-four

Chapter
Sixty-five

Chapter
Sixty-six

Chapter
Sixty-seven

Chapter
Sixty-eight

More by Angie Martin

About Angie Martin

One Last Thing…

 

Dedication:

For Kailar and Christian: dreams are
designed to come true.

 
Acknowledgement:

Thank you to my wonderful husband, for
putting up with me while in the writing zone. Thank you to my mother for your
continuing love and support. Thanks to all my awesome beta readers, especially
Becky Golba for all your hard work. A very special thank you to Andrea Denning,
for all your support, and for all the memories: you’ll always be my favorite
character.

 
Prologue

She ran.

Jumping over fallen branches, avoiding
small craters embedded in the black forest floor, she pushed her way through
the dense woods. Trees hiding in the dark recesses of night jumped out and
scratched her arms with their sharp fingernails. Though the forest seemed to
prevent her from moving forward, she couldn’t stop running. To stop could mean
death. Or worse.

She stepped in a hole not large
enough for her shoe and fire blazed in her ankle. The pain seared up her leg
and she lost her footing. Her black duffel bag flew off her arm and into the
dirt and leaves. Her back crashed against the damp ground and her teeth came
down on her bottom lip to stop herself from crying out. She rolled to her side
and her elbow raked a rock as she grabbed for her ankle.

No matter how sprained her ankle
or broken her body, she needed to keep moving. She turned onto her stomach and
forced herself to her knees. She gave a half-hearted attempt to stand up, but
only managed to fall forward onto her hands. Her fingers lifted to her cheek
and dirt smudged across her skin, mixing with the tears she tried to wipe away.

A disjointed voice stirred in
her mind. The same voice had plagued her since the beginning of her journey.
Go
back
, it tempted.
You can go back right now and everything will be fine.
You will never get away with this.

But she had to get away with it,
despite what the voice told her. No sane person would return to hell.

She pushed herself to her knees
again, but hesitated at the sound of an unseen owl. The night creatures of the
forest lurked all around and she had to move fast to avoid any unpleasant
encounters. She extracted a penlight from her pocket and illuminated her watch.
Too late to go back. She had been gone for a few hours. They were already
searching for her.

Reaching back into her pocket, she
pulled out a compass and read the needle under the glow of the penlight. Facing
east and still on course, she clicked off the penlight, and stared into the
vast forest in front of her. She ignored the steady throb in her ankle and the
raw, burning pain in her back and coaxed herself to her feet. She tucked the
penlight and compass back into her pocket, and used her long, black sleeves to
dry the remaining tears on her face.

She closed her eyes and steadied
her breathing. In the shadows of her mind, fingers danced over the ivory keys
of a grand piano. The beautiful melody wrenched her soul. Her eyes flew open,
erasing the picture from her head, but not the song. Raising her eyes to the
sky, she said a silent prayer.

She ran.

 
Chapter One

“What happened
to my office?”

Mark Jacobson looked up from his
paperwork. His older brother, Greg, stood in the doorway clenching a bottle of
Pepto-Bismol in his fist. “It’s my office, too,” Mark said.

Greg stepped into the room and
looked around. “What did you do in here?” he asked. “I only left for two
weeks.”

Mark glanced at the new file
cabinet resting in the corner. On top, a shuddering black fan paused before
rotating in the opposite direction. The noisy fan did little to rid the air of
fumes from the fresh coat of off-white paint on the walls.

He looked back at Greg. “I
couldn’t take the chipped paint and rusty file cabinet another day.”

Greg leaned against the edge of
the desk and fought the child safety lid on the bottle. “All I wanted was to
come back to my office the way I left it, but you couldn’t resist using my
absence as a chance to paint, could you?” He tilted the bottle and took a large
swallow.

“Two weeks on a beach in Florida
and you’re complaining already,” Mark said. “If this is the way you come back
from vacation, you’re not allowed to go anymore. I hope Anna had a better time
than you.”

Greg wiped pink residue off his
lips with the back of his hand. “Anna’s pregnant.”

Mark jumped out of his chair.
“That’s great!”

Greg grunted, and stared at the
wall.

“Aren’t you excited? You’ve been
trying for a year now.”

“Fifteen months and I’m excited,
but I’m also scared out of my mind and sick. Very, very sick. Maybe we didn’t
think this through all the way when we said we wanted kids.” He threw his hands
up. “And she wants two more after this one!”

Mark smiled at his brother.
Though rooted in childhood experiences with their father, Greg’s physical
features exacerbated his concerns for fatherhood. A string of freckles and the
red of too much Florida sun traveled across his crooked nose, while blond
kisses of sun tried to hide his lifeless, brown hair. With blue eyes
deep-seated in his long face, Greg could be mistaken for their father, a
similarity Greg abhorred.

Ten years separated the brothers
in age, so Greg had taken the brunt of their father’s disdain for children.
Their father never laid a hand on either boy, not even for the occasional
well-deserved spanking. Their mother handled all the discipline in the house,
as well as the minimal amount of love afforded them. When home, their father
managed to speak only a few words to either Greg or Mark. His truck-driving
career had him on the road more days than not, but when physically present at
home with his family, the rest of him remained on the road.

The emotional absence of their
father left its toll on Greg, who took on a paternal role after Mark’s birth.
Mark tried once again to assure Greg the resemblance to their father stopped
with his physical similarities. “You’ll be a great dad. You did a wonderful job
raising me.”

Greg glared at him. “Oh, yes,”
he said, waving his hand around the renovated office. “I did a great job with
my brother, the neat freak.”

Mark frowned, but did not take
the comments to heart. Greg’s mind focused on Anna and their unborn child, and
not on Mark’s hard work. “I thought the office looked good,” he mumbled.

“You don’t like the office,
Greg?” James McCormick shuffled through the door, clenching a greasy fast food
bag at his side. In need of a tailor’s artful hands, his work uniform of black
pants and a red shirt hung off his tall, wiry frame. Even his head appeared
oversized in comparison to his body, as if it belonged to another person. “Mark
and I did a great job painting the office last weekend,” James said. “No spills
or anything.”

Greg groaned and took another
large gulp of the antacid. “I don’t like things changing when I’m gone. It’s
too disconcerting for an old man who’s fixed in his ways.”

“It didn’t change that much,”
James said. He tossed the fast food bag on the desk in front of Mark. “You owe
me $4.89. I drank your soda on the way here, so I took a couple bucks off the
bill for you.”

Mark wondered for the hundredth
time why he ever bothered asking James to bring him dinner.

James scratched at his Irish red
goatee, a stark contrast to his messy mop of curly, brown hair. “By the way,
Sarah wants me to tell you she’s here.”

Mark’s eyes lit up and his
breath caught in his throat. “Sarah’s here or
she’s
here?”


She’s
here.”

Greg’s brow furrowed with
confusion. “Who’s here?”

Mark combed his fingers through
his disheveled hair. “How do I look?” He drew the front of his shirt up to his
nose and sniffed, grateful to find the scent of his cologne still lingering
after a long day at work.

“I guess you look okay,” Greg
said.

Mark shot out the office door
and into the bookstore. He slowed his pace at the first row of books and smiled
at a passing customer. He swung a hard right at the self-help section and
turned left at the romance novels.

His heart raced at the sight of
her standing in the mystery section. Bending over to see a title on one of the
lower shelves, her chestnut hair cascaded over her shoulders. He maneuvered his
way around another row of books so he could approach her from behind.

“Something I can help you with,
ma’am?” he asked.

Rachel Thomas whirled around,
one hand on her chest and the other clasping a book. A relieved smile crept
over her lips. “You scared me.”

“Oh hi, Rachel,” he said,
feigning surprise. “I didn’t know it was you. How are you today?”

“I’m good. I came in to find
another book.” She held up the book for him to see.

“You finished the other one
already? You just bought it yesterday.”

“It was hard to put it down.”

“Glad to hear it. Are you
looking for anything in particular this evening, or do you want something
similar to the last one?”

She wrinkled her nose. “I’m
getting kind of tired of the cheesy, Hollywood endings.”

“Yeah, happy endings always
bring me down,” he said. He reached out and took the book from her. Studying
the title, he said, “Then you won’t like this one. In fact, it’s not a good
book to begin with, let alone one to satisfy your sophisticated tastes in
literature.”

Rachel laughed. “Then I’m glad
you came along to save me from a horrific night of reading.”

“Anything for my favorite
customer.” He moved beside her and replaced the book on the shelf. He scanned
the titles until he found the one he wanted. Pulling it off the shelf, he
glanced at the back, and handed her the book. “This one should do it. The
author has a similar style to the last one you read, but the ending should
appease your ill will toward all the innocent characters. It’s also the start
of a four book series, so if you like it, then you’ll be busy for at least four
days at your reading rate.”

Rachel laughed again and pink
crept into her cheeks. “Thanks, Mark,” she said, and started toward the
register.

He fell in step beside her.
“Aren’t you going to read the back and make sure it’s what you want?”

Rachel glanced at him with a
beautiful, yet timid smile. “The last several books you’ve recommended have
been great. I don’t think I’ll have any problems with this one.”

“Good to know I’ve been able to
help.”

Sarah Landers, his store
manager, stood behind the counter, writing up the work schedule for the next
two weeks. She pushed her glasses up on her nose, and continued with the
schedule. Mark approached from the center aisle so he could get her attention.
When she looked up, Mark caught her eye and gave her a signal with his
expression to shoo her away.

Sarah looked off in another
direction. “I’ll be right there, sir,” she called to an unseen customer. She
scurried away from the register, her long ponytail bouncing against the back of
her neck. Over the past two weeks, Mark made sure Sarah knew to give him every
opportunity alone with Rachel, even if it meant making up excuses to leave the
area.

Mark rang up the sale and took
the ten-dollar bill Rachel offered, while keeping her engaged in small talk. He
stalled by opening a roll of pennies, despite having more than enough change in
the register to give her.

After placing the change in her
open hand, he squashed his jumping nerves. “I’d like to hear more of your
thoughts on the last book. Maybe I could buy you a cup of coffee after I get
out of here tonight.”

Her smile faded, and she fumbled
with transferring the change from her hand to her purse. “I, uh...” She picked
up the book from the counter. “I don’t think I should.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” he said. “I
didn’t realize you have a boyfriend.”

“I’m not seeing anyone,” she
said, “but I don’t think it’s such a good idea to have coffee with you.” She gave
him a weak smile, her wide emerald eyes warm and sincere. “I’m sorry.”

He stared after her as she
walked away. The ding from the bell on the front door rang out, driving her
rejection home.

“Great,” he said under his
breath. He probably managed to lose one of their regular customers along with a
little bit of pride.

Mark never flirted with
customers, but he couldn’t ignore the initial spark when he met Rachel, and
their chemistry intensified every time she walked into the store. He frowned
and sauntered back to his office. The attraction must have been one-sided.

James reclined in a chair next
to Greg, feet propped up on Mark’s desk. “I can’t believe Greg knocked Anna
up,” he said. He swiped a pen off the desk and inserted the barrel end into his
mouth.

“Anna’s my wife,” Greg said.
“You can’t call it knocking her up.” He scowled at James, who chewed on the pen
like it was his last meal. “Throw the pen away after you’re done eating it,
please.”

James shrugged. “Of course.” Turning
to Mark, he said, “So, how’d it go?”

Mark walked around the desk and
collapsed into his chair. “I bombed,” he said, dropping his elbows to the desk.
He slumped over and his chin landed in his hands.

“Why didn’t you ask her out?”
Greg asked.

“I did ask her. She turned me
down.” Mark grabbed the Pepto-Bismol bottle and removed the lid. He grimaced as
the chalky liquid coursed down his throat.

“James says she moved to town a
few weeks ago,” Greg said. “How come it’s taken you so long to ask her out? Usually
you’re done with them by now.”

James spoke before Mark could
answer. “I told you already. He’s acting weird like that.”

Mark held his breath and tried
to remain patient with James’s attempt to bait him. For the past two weeks,
James taunted him almost to the point of humiliation because in Mark’s eyes,
only one female now resided in all of Wichita, the largest city in Kansas.

“He hasn’t gone out with any
girl since
she
came along,” James continued. “He even broke off his date
with the chick that works at the deli over there.” He pulled his feet off the
desk and stood up. He returned the gnarled pen to the desk organizer.

“That’s not like Mark at all,”
Greg said.

“See? I told you. Weird.”

“Are you guys done discussing my
life?” Mark asked.

“Yeah.” James moved toward the
door. “I’m late for work so pay me tomorrow for your dinner. I’m glad I got to
see you fall on your face for once.” His laughter trailed behind him.

Greg glared at Mark. “He’s your
friend.”

“He grows on you.”

“Yeah, all that vagueness. Did
you really break off your date with the chick that works at the deli over
there?” he asked, his tone imitating James.

Mark chuckled and leaned back in
his chair. “Yes, I did. Now James has to get me sandwiches from there so I can
avoid her.”

Greg rolled his eyes. “Any
particular reason why you didn’t go out with her?”

“This girl, Rachel, walked into
the store two weeks ago, the same day you left for Florida. I greeted her like
I would any other customer. She smiled at me and I swear my heart stopped. She’s
got these incredible green eyes that kind of grabbed me.” Mark paused and
narrowed his eyes at Greg. “Why are you looking at me so strange?”

Greg placed his hand over his
smile. “I’m sorry. Keep going.”

“She comes in every couple days
and buys a new book. She’s nice, intelligent, and not to mention, beautiful.
Anyway, to answer your question, after I met Rachel, Lisa didn’t seem worth my
time anymore.”

“Poor Lisa. Why did it take you
so long to ask out Rachel?”

“I don’t know. It’s like I
freeze up every time I see her. I’ve never had that problem before. It’s
crazy.”

“You’ve become a monk over some
girl who won’t go out with you? James is right. You are acting weird.”

Mark ignored him. “Why don’t you
go home and spend some time with Anna? I don’t know why you came in at all.”

“Because I’m scheduled to close
the store tonight.”

Mark noticed Greg’s tired eyes.
“I’ll stay and close up the store for you.”

“That’s unselfish of you.”

“It’s not like I have anything
better to do now. Besides, it’s your first day back from vacation. Go relax and
unwind before you have to come in tomorrow morning and deal with real life
again.”

Greg started for the door. “You
know, Mark, I think the office looks great.”

Satisfaction zinged through Mark
and he smiled. “I appreciate it. Now get out of here.”

BOOK: False Security
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