Read Heart Failure Online

Authors: Richard L. Mabry

Tags: #Fiction, #Mystery & Detective, #General, #Medical, #Christian, #Suspense, #ebook, #book

Heart Failure

BOOK: Heart Failure
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Acclaim for Richard Mabry, MD

“Packed with thrills,
Stress Test
is a lightning-paced read that you’ll read in one breath.”

— Tess Gerritsen,
New York Times
best-selling author of
Last to Die

“Original and profound. I found the Christian message engaging and fascinating, and the story a thrill-a-minute.”

— Michael Palmer,
New York Times
best-selling author of
Oath of Office
, regarding
Stress Test

“Sirens, scalpels, and the business end of a revolver—
Stress Test
offers Code 3 action and a prescription for hope.”

— Candace Calvert, best-selling author of
Code Triage
and
Trauma Plan

“Vintage Mabry.
Heart Failure
weaves an intricate plot of mystery and suspense that will leave you guessing until the final page.”

— Billy Coffey, author of
When Mockingbirds Sing


Stress Test
comes with a warning: Prepare to stop life until you finish the last page.”

— Diann Mills, author of
The Chase
and
The Survivor

“Recurring legal, medical, and romantic thrills. Diagnosis: Pure entertainment.”

— James Scott Bell, award-winning suspense author

“Mabry’s latest provides fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat action and suspense. His medical knowledge is evident in the realistic and detailed characters and scenes.”


RT Book Reviews
, 4 ½ star review of
Stress Test

“The plot moves along with plenty of action and empathy, and there’s suspense and suspicion enough to keep readers zipping to the last pages.”


Publishers Weekly
review of
Stress Test

© 2013 by Richard Mabry

All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, scanning, or other—except for brief quotations in critical reviews or articles, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Published in Nashville, Tennessee, by Thomas Nelson. Thomas Nelson is a registered trademark of Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Published in association with the literary agency of WordServe Literary Group, Ltd., 10152 S. Knoll Circle, Highlands Ranch, CO 80130. www.wordserveliterary.com.

Thomas Nelson, Inc., titles may be purchased in bulk for educational, business, fund-raising, or sales promotional use. For information, please e-mail [email protected]

Publisher’s Note: This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. All characters are fictional, and any similarity to people living or dead is purely coincidental.

Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Bible and the New American Standard Bible
®
, © The Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995. Used by permission.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Mabry, Richard L.

Heart failure / Richard L. Mabry.

pages cm

ISBN 978-1-4016-8710-6 (Trade Paper)

I. Title.

PS3613.A2H43 2013

813'.6—dc23

2013015672

Printed in the United States of America

13 14 15 16 17 RRD 6 5 4 3 2 1

This novel is dedicated to the pastors, staff, and my fellow members at Stonebriar Community Church.

CONTENTS

ONE

TWO

THREE

FOUR

FIVE

SIX

SEVEN

EIGHT

NINE

TEN

ELEVEN

TWELVE

THIRTEEN

FOURTEEN

FIFTEEN

SIXTEEN

SEVENTEEN

EIGHTEEN

NINETEEN

TWENTY

TWENTY-ONE

TWENTY-TWO

TWENTY-THREE

TWENTY-FOUR

TWENTY-FIVE

TWENTY-SIX

READING GROUP GUIDE

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

AN EXCERPT FROM STRESS TEST

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ONE

ADAM DAVIDSON AND DR. CARRIE MARKHAM STROLLED OUT THE doors of the Starplex Cinema into the warm darkness of the springtime evening. As they made their way through the few cars left on the parking lot, Adam’s right hand found Carrie’s left. She took it and squeezed, and his heart seemed to skip a beat. His fingers explored until they felt the outline of the diamond ring he’d placed there only a week ago.

She leaned in to briefly rest her head on his shoulder. “I never thought I could be this happy.”

“Me either.” And if he had his way, this was how it would be for the rest of their lives. Two people in love, enjoying their small-town lives, their only worry what movie to see on their regular Saturday night date.

A loud noise in the distance made them both stop. Then Adam saw a shower of color on the horizon, about where the
ballpark would be. “Fireworks show. The Titans must have won.”
Get a grip, Adam. Stop jumping at every noise. You’re safe
.

When Adam first met Carrie eight months ago, she was fragile and hurting, as skittish as a baby deer, still bearing the scars from the death of her husband almost two years earlier. Her only interest seemed to be her medical practice. But, little by little, he’d seen her start to smile, to laugh, and eventually to love.

Carrie had restored the smile to Adam’s life as well. He still had his own problems, even though he hadn’t revealed them to her. He hoped he would never have to. But having her in his life made him certain that the life he now lived, so long as he lived it with her, would be all he ever wanted.

These things were supposed to take time, but in just a few short months each of them had decided that the other was the person needed to fill the hole in their lives. The culmination had come with Adam’s proposal and Carrie’s acceptance last week. They hadn’t set a wedding date yet, but for now Adam was content to watch Carrie plan and bask in the glow of their shared happiness.

The couple reached Adam’s car and climbed in, but hadn’t yet fastened their seat belts when Carrie said, “I think a chocolate— No, make that a hot fudge sundae.” She leaned back in the passenger seat of Adam’s little Subaru. “That would . . .”

As she was talking Adam saw a dark SUV approach from his right, moving at a snail’s pace. When the vehicle was directly in front of Adam’s Forester, its side window came down to reveal the glint of light on metal as the driver’s hand extended outward.

Adam’s next action was reflexive. If he was wrong, he could
apologize. But if he was right—He was already moving when he heard the shots.

The impact of Adam’s arm across her shoulder pushed her down until her head was below the level of the car’s dashboard. Then Carrie heard it—a flat crack, followed by two more in rapid succession. Muffled thuds sounded above her, and she pictured bullets boring into the headrests at the place where her head and Adam’s had been seconds ago. Carrie cringed against an expected shower of glass, but only a few tiny pieces sprinkled down on her.

The faint ringing in her ears after the shots didn’t mask the screech of tires and roar of an engine. When the noise subsided, all that remained was the rapid thud of her heartbeat echoing in her ears.

Carrie huddled with her head down, her breath cut off as much by fear as by the pressure of Adam’s body atop hers, a human shield. She felt his soft breath in her ear as he whispered, “Are you all right?”

“I . . . I think so. How about you?”

“I’m okay.” The pressure holding her down lessened. “Stay down until I tell you it’s safe.” Carrie turned her head to catch a glimpse of Adam peering cautiously over the dashboard.

Her heart threatened to jump out of her chest while her mind wrestled with what just happened. After a seeming eternity, Adam bent down and said in a hushed tone, “I think they’ve gone. You can sit up.”

Carrie raised her head barely enough to peer through the damaged windshield. When nothing moved in her field
of vision, she eased upward to perch on the edge of her seat. A few cars were still on the lot of the theater after the last Saturday night show, probably the vehicles of employees closing down for the night. There hadn’t been many people in the movie theater.

“Are you sure you’re not hurt?” Adam’s voice, full of concern, brought Carrie back to the moment. He brushed a bit of glass from her seat with a handkerchief, then tossed it onto the floor of the car.

Carrie unfolded from her crouched position and eased farther onto the seat. “Scared, is all,” she said. “You okay?”

“Not a scratch.”

He reached across to hug her, and she turned to find shelter in his arms. They stayed that way for a long moment, and the trembling inside her slowly eased. “What . . . what was that about?”

“Nothing for you to worry about.” Adam’s voice and manner were calm, and Carrie felt comforted by his very presence. Then, as suddenly as the turn of a page, he released her and swung around to face forward in the driver’s seat. His next words were terse, clipped. “We have to get out of here.” He reached for the ignition, key in hand.

“Wait a minute!” Carrie pulled her cell phone from her purse and held it out to him. “We can’t leave. We need to call 911.”

Adam took her arm, a bit more firmly than necessary, and pushed the phone away. He shook his head. “No!”

She flinched at the negative response and the tone in which Adam delivered it. “Why? Someone shot at us. We should call the police.”

Adam’s voice was quiet, his words terse. “Look, I don’t have time to explain. Let’s go.”

What’s the matter with him?
She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Twice she started to speak. Twice she stopped.

Adam turned the key and reached for the gearshift lever.

Carrie saw his jaw clench. She was terrified, but Adam wasn’t so much scared as—she searched for the right word—he was
cold
and determined. The sudden change frightened her. “If this was a drive-by, we need to report it. Maybe the police can catch them before they kill someone.”

“Just let me handle this,” Adam said. “Right now, let’s get out of here. I want you someplace safe.”

Although Adam’s voice was low, there was an intensity to his words that Carrie had never heard before. “You have to trust me,” he said. “There are things you don’t know, things that make it dangerous for me to deal with the police right now.” He pointed to her seat belt. “Buckle up and let’s leave. I’ll explain soon.”

Carrie wanted to argue, but she could see it was no use. She put away her phone and fastened her seat belt.

The lights on the theater marquee went out. In the distance a siren sounded, faint at first but growing louder. “We’re out of here,” Adam said. He put the car in gear and eased out of the parking lot, peering through the starred windshield to navigate the dark streets.

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