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Rundown (Curveball Book 2)
 


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Rundown (Curveball Book 2)


  Rundown

  Curveball Book Two

  Teresa Michaels

  eBOOK EDITION

  Copyright © 2015 TERESA MICHAELS

  All Rights Reserved

  Cover Design by Mayhem Cover Creations

  Formatting by Mayhem Cover Creations

  All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means.

  This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events described in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

  DEDICATION

  For my parents.

  I love you to the moon and back.

  TABLE OF 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

  EPILOGUE

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  THANK YOU

  ONE

  RUNNING

  I stand in front of the open refrigerator pulling out the ingredients I need for breakfast, placing each item on the counter behind me as I go. I do a mental inventory and come up short. Blueberries, where the hell are the blueberries? I dig through all the items, going shelf by shelf, shifting containers of leftovers, juice boxes and jarred baby food, only to come up empty handed.

  “I need to go into the office,” Mark says, startling me and causing me to drop the unopened bag of pancake mix.

  “But it’s Saturday.”

  I watch him place his mug on the ledge of the Keurig and go about making his coffee. He still hasn’t answered me, which is odd. Picking up the pancake mix, I set it on the counter. I can sense that something’s up. I slowly walk over to him and wrap my arms around his waist. Mark’s core tenses before he deeply exhales.

  “Did you hear me? It’s Saturday, and we have guests coming over in an hour.”

  “This isn’t something I can put off.” He places a hand over mine, which are still entwined around him.

  “Can’t you just do whatever you need to do here in your office? That way you can be home.”

  “There’ll be too many distractions.” He takes a sip of his coffee and then sets it down. I drop my hands and back up marginally as he turns to face me.

  “We’ll be quiet, I promise.” Stepping forward, I wrap my arms around his neck. I press my body against his, while he continues to grip the edge of the counter behind him. It doesn’t go unnoticed that he hasn’t accepted or returned my embrace.

  “Bree,” he warns.

  “I’ll make it worth your while,” I sing suggestively, raising up on my tiptoes and placing a kiss on his lips. When he returns my kiss, I start thinking that he’s changed his mind.

  On a sigh, he pulls back slightly and searches my face. I have no idea what’s going on in that head of his, but it’s clearly not on my offer. I hate to admit it, but I can’t remember the last time that it was.

  “Why are you looking at me like that?” I ask.

  “I’m memorizing your face.”

  I roll my eyes and pull away. “Well, if you just stayed home you wouldn’t need to.”

  I walk to the other side of the kitchen to pre-heat the oven. Out of the corner of my eye, I watch Mark grab his wallet and keys.

  “Have you seen my jacket?” he asks.

  “I took it to the drycleaners. I thought they’d be able to get the cigar smell out. Your other coat should be in there.”

  “I’ll be fine without it,” he replies, his tone dull.

  “You’re sure you can’t stay?” I ask one last time and he shakes his head no.

  Now it’s my turn to sigh.

  “It’s probably for the better. I’ve apparently lost the blueberries, so it’s not like you’d enjoy breakfast anyway.”

  He gives me a stiff smile before turning his attention to the front of the house.

  “Is everything ok, Mark?”

  His eyes wander back towards me, and he nods. He strides toward me with purpose and gently kisses me on the top of my head. “I love you,” he whispers into my ear. With those parting words, he’s gone.

  The kids are off playing and I’m cleaning up the kitchen with Vivian and Sarah. We’re laughing about some ridiculous reality TV show that Sarah’s been watching, when the doorbell rings. I turn the water off and dry one of my hands on my jeans as I make my way to the door.

  “Can I help you, Officer?” I ask, wondering if one of the kids called 9-1-1 by mistake.

  “Good morning, ma’am. I’m Officer Derek Sloan. Are you Breanne Sullivan?”

  “Yes.”

  “Is your husband Mark Sullivan?”

  “Yes.” The hair on my arms is standing on end, and I can’t fight the sickening feeling that’s growing in the pit of my stomach, shouting at me that something bad has happened.

  “When was the last time you saw your husband?”

  “This morning…a few hours ago,” I stutter. “Oh God. Has he been in a car accident?”

  The Officer purses his lips together in a fine line and shakes his head. “No, ma’am.” He takes a deep breath and then continues. “About an hour ago I was dispatched to an office building after someone reported hearing a single gunshot.”

  My mouth goes completely dry and I can’t tell if I’m breathing or not, but my heart is about to explode.

  Get to the point. Why the hell are you telling me this?

  “When I entered the building, I discovered a male, early-to-mid 40’s, lying unresponsive on the floor.”

  The dish I didn’t remember carrying with me to the door shatters on the ground. I’m vaguely aware of footsteps closing in on me, and a hand wrapping around my arm.

  “The picture on your husband’s license, which was found at the scene, matches the body.”

  A gagging sound escapes my throat, and I’m not sure if I’m going to cry or vomit. I’m suddenly freezing and everything sounds like it’s being said under water.

  “Body. You said body.” I mutter when I find my voice. Body implies lifeless. I just saw Mark and he was very much alive. I stare at the Officer, willing him not to say what I fear is coming next.

  “Yes, ma’am. In his state―”. The Officer pauses. “There was nothing I could have done.”

  “What state?”

  “It appears that your husband has died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” he tells me. “I’m sorry ma’am, but I’m going to need you to come with me to identify the body. Is there someone who can drive you?”

  The car stops and Vivian physically pulls me from the vehicle. I don’t remember leaving my house. I’m not sure I even said goodbye to the kids. If asked what hospital I’m at, I wouldn’t know. I’m moving, but barely and all I can think is that I’m about to see Mark. No, not Mark. I’m going to see his body. My pulse is thudding loudly and I’m struggling to take in air. My chest must have caved in on my lungs because it fucking hurts. Everything is dull, and yet incredibly painful at the same time.

  I lift my eyes from the floor when I realize we’ve stopped outside the door of the morgue. My stomach begins to spasm as my mouth pools with saliva. I’m sweating and dizzy. I’m going to be sick, I know it. Unfortunately, the thought is one step behind my body. I barely have time to
lean forward before I begin heaving, watching as the contents of my breakfast land on my feet.

  Vivian’s arms wrap around me tightly as she helps me navigate around the mess. “Let me go in, Breanne. This is not how you should remember Mark. Maybe it’s not even him.”

  I automatically nod at my friend, who is also Mark’s co-worker. I would never have asked her to do this for me, but she offered and I can’t think of why I should disagree. She asks the Officer to stand with me and squeezes me once before letting me go. I watch her push through the doors and quickly close my eyes.

  Please don’t be Mark. Please don’t be Mark.

  Moments later, the sound of Vivian’s high-heels clicking against the floor, halts my silent prayer. I open my eyes as she steps back through the door, and take in her appearance. Despite all the makeup she wears, her face is void of color. She’s fighting back tears as she slowly nods her head in a silent ‘yes’, to which I frantically shake my head ‘no’.

  “It’s him. It’s Mark.” I can’t be sure if she’s confirming this for my benefit, or for the Officer.

  I stare at her blankly. It’s him. Mark has taken his own life. My husband is dead. My children no longer have a father. He’s dead. He ended his own life.

  With every thought I feel less like myself. “No, no, no,” I slowly repeat several times.

  I feel empty, and at the same time I’m overwhelmed with too much emotion. I rake my hands through my hair and begin pacing back and forth in front of the door. Both hands clutch every piece of available hair and I pull as hard as I can until my scalp burns in pain.

  “Breanne,” Vivian says quietly, stepping forward. “Let me take you home.” She attempts to stop me from pulling out my hair, but I just swat her away.

  “Nooooo!” My bloodcurdling scream echoes throughout the building, followed by several choking sounds and another round of screaming. Without consciously choosing to do so, I lunge forward toward the doors. “Nooo! Nooo!”

  I freeze in place once I’ve taken two steps inside the morgue. The only things that separate me from Mark’s body are Vivian and the mortician.

  “Breanne, don’t go any closer,” Vivian pleads. “This is not how you want to remember Mark. I know he wouldn’t want you to see him this way.”

  “Then he shouldn’t have done this!” I shout in between sobs.

  I glance over Vivian’s shoulder while she wrestles me back, and get a glimpse at Mark’s face. Even at this distance, there’s no denying it’s him, though he’s swollen and pale, despite all the blood. This is real…he really did this.

  “Why?” I cry. I have the sudden urge to physically break something. I want to slam my fists into his vacant body and beat the life back into him so he can feel the pain he’s caused me. “Why?” My unanswered demand is shrill and my breathing is erratic.

  “Oh God, Mark! How could you? You coward. How could you?” I realize that the ability to stand has become too difficult when the impact of my limp body hitting the floor causes a loud thud that echoes around the sterile room. All I can do is crumple further against the cold floor and pray that someone will take me away from here.

  I hear the sound of Mark’s body bag being zipped up as the officer lifts me off the ground and carries me towards the door. I close my eyes and wonder if I made a request out loud, but I don’t question it, because it doesn’t matter. Nothing matters now…except understanding why he did this.

  I lift my head slightly so I can see the Officer’s face. “Did he leave a note?”

  “He did,” the officer confirms.

  “What does it say?” I ask.

  The officer stops immediately and sets me down on the ground.

  “You forgot the blueberries.”

  I awake startled, gasping for air while launching myself into a sitting position. Clutching the blankets, my eyes dart around the room, trying to get my bearings. It only takes a few seconds to grasp reality, but knowing where my unconscious mind was focused, still gives me the chills.

  “Shit,” I exhale, wiping the cold sweat from my forehead. God, I haven’t had that nightmare in forever…not since Sergeant Dosdell showed up with evidence supporting my theories on Mark’s death anyway.

  Sighing, I run my fingers through my hair and then draw my legs up to hug my knees. Anytime this nightmare occurs, it’s basically the same. All the events leading up to my collapse on the morgue floor are actually memories from that horrible day, but the end of the nightmare always varies. Sometimes I burst through the door and find Mark sitting on the table laughing. Other times there’s no body at all. Once, tears fell from his eyes as I was carried away. But the worst was the time his corpse pulled me into the refrigerated drawer with him as I tried unsuccessfully to claw my way out. Despite all the variations my brain has concocted, listing blueberries in his suicide note is definitely a first.

  It’s been two years since my husband Mark died of an apparent suicide, and in a few days his body will be exhumed to re-evaluate his cause of death. Once I got over the initial anger and realized that suicide wasn’t something he would have done, I practically became obsessed with finding answers. I’ve been so determined to find out what really happened to him, that you’d think I’d be relieved that something was finally being done about my suspicions…I’m not.

  To say I’m dreading it would be an understatement. Perhaps my subconscious is freaking out about discovering the truth. Part of me knows that the truth is something that will change how I remember him, and if that’s the case, then maybe I don’t want to know. Unfortunately, at this point it’s just another thing adding to my mounting stress.

  I glance over at the clock on my bedside table and inwardly groan. It’s barely 2am. I’m determined to try to fall back asleep, though I doubt I’ll be able to. My mind was racing long before I woke up. Now, there’s no way I can turn it off. At least the kids are still in their own beds. I slide back under the covers and roll to my side, closing my eyes and willing my mind to push away my worries.

  As I lie there, I mentally tick off my problems—Mark’s death, the plane crash, losing Drew. As they say, bad things happen in three’s, and I can only hope this means I’m due for some good luck. What’s interesting is that I can easily dismiss the first two issues, which technically should be considered far more traumatic than the third. Only, that’s what I can’t get out of my mind no matter how hard I try—the unnecessary amount of misery I’ve caused both myself and Drew.

  Drew Scott, the man who saved my life and reminded me what it was like to be alive and feel happiness again, is missing. Alright, so technically Drew isn’t missing. He’s avoiding me. He’s cut me out of his life, which is exactly what I asked for until I realized how stupid I’d been.

  Mission accomplished.

  I’ve called and texted. I even went to his house and left a handwritten apology on his door. What have I gotten in return? Absolute silence. I can’t reach him and I have no idea where he is. I know I deserve his rejection. For everything I said, I deserve far worse. On some level, I’m sure the stress of losing Drew is causing me to relive my previous loss. If I’m honest, it scares me that the pain and uncertainty of my future with Drew, far outweighs the pain of my past.

  Stroking the gem of my necklace with one hand, I roll to my back and stare up at the ceiling, wondering where Drew is at this very moment and if there will ever come a time when he doesn’t consumes almost every thought I have. I constantly wonder if he hates me for the awful things I said to him, even though we both knew my words were lies. Or has he realized that he deserves far more than I could give him and has already moved on?

  That is my worst fear…that I’ve caused irreparable damage and I’ll pay the price by losing him forever. I want nothing more than to have him back. I just need a chance to make things right.

  My phone pings and I quickly crawl out of bed. Based on the sound, I already know that it’s not a text or voicemail. No, it’s a notification from Google Alerts. I’m so desperate f
or any news on Drew that I’ve stooped to Internet stalking. I unplug my phone from the charger, swipe my finger across the screen and quickly type in my passcode. I select the notification and immediately wish I hadn’t when I see Drew’s picture gracing the front-page of a tabloid site. Well, he and some brunette, both of whom appear to be drunk and stumbling out of a bathroom at some Boston bar.

  As a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, Drew was front-page news even before we survived an ambushed flight. Now, it’s even worse. He’s a famous athlete who’s survived the unthinkable, and is single to boot. Add to that, the fact that his contract hasn’t yet been renewed due to an old injury, and you’ve got a person with America’s full support and sympathy. The paparazzi follow him everywhere and try to make stories out of nothing. Unfortunately, it looks like this time they actually had something to write about.

  I try to talk myself out of reading the article, but it’s pointless. I’ve tortured him enough; I might as well torture myself too. The article described Drew’s night in great detail and it makes me wonder how they got the story in the first place, and if any of it is actually true. The author was so kind as to list several of Drew’s past conquests, in case readers weren’t familiar. In the past, it would have been completely like Drew to take someone home from the bar. I’d like to think he’s progressed past that, but maybe I’ve caused a relapse.

  I toss my phone on the bed, finding that I’m getting more agitated. It’s like I’ve created my own personal hell. I can’t admit to myself that he’s moving on. Call it denial or stupidity, but after three days I can’t accept that, and I can’t stop thinking about him either. I tap my foot against the floor in frustration. Sleep is definitely not an option right now so I throw on my bathrobe, grab my phone and quietly head downstairs. I round the corner to head into the kitchen, when I slam into Sarah.

  “Ahh,” I quietly yelp, clutching her by the shoulders as warm liquid oozes down my front.

  “Oh, I’m so sorry, Breanne. I didn’t hear you coming. Did I burn you?”

 
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