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Authors: Rebecca Addison

Still Waters

BOOK: Still Waters
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Still Waters

 

Rebecca Addison

 
 

 

Still Waters Copyright © 2015

Rebecca Addison (Kindle Edition)

All rights reserved. No part of this
book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the author.

 

 

Disclaimer: The persons,
places, things and otherwise inanimate objects in this novel are all figments
of the author’s rather overactive imagination. Any resemblance to anything or
anyone living (or dead) is unintentional

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

To the Secret Book Club ladies,

for helping me nurture one single,

silly chapter until it became

a living, breathing book.

Still Waters simply wouldn’t exist without
you.

And for my husband Jeremy,

for selflessly giving me the space,
time,

and encouragement to write, and to
write well
.

Table of
Contents

Prologue

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

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

Epilogue

Quotes

Acknowledgements

About the Author

Connect with Me

Prologue
 

The secure door to the lab opens, and I run to
the elevator, pressing the up button over and over when I reach it.

“Come
on, come on,” I mumble to myself as I watch the numbers light up, indicating
that the elevator is slowly coming down. When the doors finally open I fly
inside and press the button that will take me to the top floor. Sappy elevator
music plays as we travel up and up, and I mentally check off the floors as I
pass them. Lobby: Security and reception; Floors 17 to 20: Administration,
sales and marketing; Floors 21 and 22: Legal. Finally, we reach the top floor,
the Holy Grail for most junior employees at Preston Industries: Senior
management. Personally, I like the basement better. Down there my research and
development team is hidden from the office politics and backstabbing that’s
rife on the upper floors.

When
the doors open, I rush out past Linda, the senior assistant to the CEO. She
opens her mouth to say something, but I don’t stop. The boardroom at the end of
the corridor is full this morning. Senior executives from every department are
in the middle of their weekly meeting. I swing the door open, and search along
the line of surprised faces turned in my direction.

“Hartley,”
a familiar voice says from the front of the room. “Can this wait? We’re in the
middle of a meeting.”

He
takes one look at my face and stands up, dismissing everyone with a wave of his
hand. “We’ll finish this off this afternoon.”

He
doesn’t need to say anything more. In a sudden burst of activity, old timers
and young executives alike quickly gather their papers and laptops and file out
of the room without a word. I wait until the door is shut behind me before I
open my mouth to speak, but he beats me to it.

“Hartley,
my little mad scientist,” he laughs as he takes in the white labcoat I’d
forgotten to take off in my panic. I know he’s only teasing me, but I can’t
help but bristle at his joke. I love being a scientist and I’m proud of my
work, but it isn’t easy leading a research team of six at twenty-three years
old, especially when the rest of your team are men twice your age and you’re
the boss’s daughter.

“What’s
the emergency?” he says lightly. “Something go bang in the lab?”

My
dad is always making light of the work I do, but what he and the other guys on
this floor don’t realize is that there wouldn’t
be
a Preston Industries without the scientists who work in the
basement.

“No,
Dad,” I say, brushing his comments aside for now. “I found something. Something
important.”

The
smile on his face fades and he sits up taller with his hands clasped in front
of him. I place my hand over the pocket of my labcoat to make sure the small
cylinder is still inside. It is.

“I’ve
been looking at these findings, for the water over at Bridal Falls? And
something doesn’t add up.”

He
looks at me seriously and nods for me to continue.

“See,
the samples are all wrong for that catchment. The water at Bridal Falls is
alive and constantly changing depending on different weather patterns and
pollution levels. These samples are dead.”

“Maybe
the samples were labeled incorrectly,” he says quietly, picking up a pen and
tapping it on the top of the table.

“That’s
what I thought.” I reach into my pocket to touch a small vial of water. “But
they’re all like that, Dad. I went through all of the records back to 2011, and
they’re all exactly the same.”

“Isn’t
Howard meant to be in charge of testing?” he cuts in. “That’s a little below
the level of my genius daughter isn’t it?”

He
says it playfully, but there’s an edge to his voice, and I know from experience
that he’s losing patience with me.

“That’s
what I need to talk to you about,” I say in a rush. “I caught him, Dad. This
morning I came in early, and I caught him swapping out the latest samples for
clean water. I’ve sent him home until we decide what to do.”

I
wait for him to exclaim in surprise, or explode in anger or
something,
but he just sits there and
stares into my eyes. Out of all of the reactions I expected him to have, I
wasn’t expecting this. And then suddenly I get it.

“Dad,”
I say slowly, wanting so desperately to be wrong. “Did you know about this?”

He
sighs deeply and spins his chair so that he’s looking out the floor to ceiling
windows at the small buildings and houses that make up the town.
My
town.

“Do
you have any idea what would happen if this got out?” he says quietly. “Preston
Industries has been employing the people of Jefferson for the last fifty years.
Those people out there rely on us, Hartley. Without this company, there would
be no jobs, no money, no food on the table.” He spins his chair back around and
looks at me. “Is that what you want?”

“But
Dad,” I say, holding onto the back of the chair in front of me for support. “Are
you saying we should just let this carry on and do nothing about it?”

Unbelievably,
he manages a smile.

“I’m
happy we understand each other.”

 
“I can’t do that,” I whisper. “You don’t
understand what the levels could do to the water system. I have a real sample
here Dad, and it’s really bad.”

I
pull the vial out of my pocket and hold it up to show him. When I see the way
his eyes suddenly go cold and hard, I’m transported back to my childhood in an
instant. I’m six years old again, in trouble for disturbing him when he was
trying to read the newspaper. I feel my heart speed up, and I quickly shove my
hands back into the pockets of my labcoat so he won’t see them shaking.

“Give
me the sample, Hartley,” he says quietly, holding out his hand. When I hesitate,
he looks at me in surprise and laughs under his breath. “You don’t trust me?”

Do
I trust him? As much as I love my father, I know I have to be careful. Above
everything, I need time to look at the samples more carefully and decide what I
want to do about them.

 
“I’m sorry,” I say, dropping the vial into his
outstretched hand. “Of course I trust you.” He closes his fist over it, and
suddenly the wide smile is back, and he’s my dad again.

“Linda,
can you get David in here please,” he says into his phone.

I
look at him, confused.
 

“Why
do you need David?”
 

It
makes no sense at all. David is my long-term boyfriend, and he works on the 22
nd
floor: Legal. Before Dad has time to answer, David walks into the room, his
face lighting up when he sees me. We try to be professional when we’re at work,
so he doesn’t kiss me on my forehead like he usually does. Instead, he winks
and looks me up and down when he thinks my dad isn’t looking.

“Hartley
found the samples,” Dad says simply, as if it’s nothing, as if we’re talking
about the weather or chatting about my sister Marty’s upcoming wedding.

At
least David has the courtesy to look surprised.

“You
knew about this too?” I gasp, looking at him wildly. He closes his eyes and
presses a finger to his forehead, right between his eyebrows.

“Hartley,”
he says, “you’ve got to calm down and think about this. Bridal Falls isn’t even
a major waterway. It’s nothing.” He dismisses me with a flick of his hand.

“Nothing?”
I can hear that my voice has gone high and thin and I know I’m losing control
of the situation. “You have no idea what you’re talking about,” I whisper,
swallowing hard.

“Do
you like your house by the water, Hartley?” David snaps. “How about your new
car or that watch on your wrist. Do you like those?”

I
look down at the Cartier watch my parents gave me for my 23
rd
birthday and then up to meet my dad’s eyes.

“All
of that goes away Ladybug,’ Dad says quietly. “If this gets out we’re looking
at multi-million dollar lawsuits. Preston Industries will be shut down while
they investigate. And there will be lawyers and court appearances, our photos
in all of the papers. Mom and Marty – they’ll be dragged through it too. And
all of those people out there, your friends? Their parents will be out of a
job. And who will they blame when all this comes out? Not me, Bug, not me. No
one out there cares about a little waterfall in the mountains somewhere. They
care about food on their table. College funds for their kids. And when they’re
looking for someone to blame, they’re going to look right at you.”

“No..”
I stammer, my eyes swimming with tears. “This isn’t right!”

“Listen
to your dad,” David whispers, moving closer so that he can put an arm around my
waist.

I
stand still for a moment, trying to digest what I’ve just heard.

“I’m
going home,” I mutter, turning to leave. “I have a headache.”

I
walk quickly down the corridor, past Linda, to the elevators. I can feel that
David has followed me out, but I don’t turn around.

“I’ll
come and see you after work,” he murmurs seductively into my ear as I step into
the elevator. It’s all I can do not to vomit in my mouth but I smile obediently
and nod.

When
the doors close, I frantically start making lists in my head. I only have four
or five hours until David comes by and figures out that I’m gone. Preston
Industries may be happy to pour toxic chemicals into Bridal Falls, but there’s
no way in hell that I’m going to stand around and watch.

BOOK: Still Waters
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