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The innocent tend to get hurt when seeking vengeance against an enemy
Marcus Bradley owns a very successful law firm. As the progeny of a tyrant, he has been taught to manage his business and personal life with ruthless control. While backtalk from a subordinate is grounds for termination, the same behavior from his wife or mistress usually ends in violence. He has won the majority of his court cases by bending the truth and planting evidence. These ugly character flaws have earned him few friends, but a plethora of dangerous enemies.
After years of abuse, Marcus's wife, Abigail, finally finds the courage to leave him. To get her to stay, he tries bullying her, but her conviction never wavers. In his fury, he attacks her. As death waits in the shadows to claim her soul, he is suddenly knocked unconscious by a blow to the back of his head. When he recovers, he discovers his wife's bloody body in the living room, and his two sons missing.
As Marcus attempts to flee the gruesome scene, he discovers a bloody pocket knife that would implicate him as his wife's assassin. While staring at the knife, he is rendered unconscious a second time. This time when he wakes, the bloody knife has disappeared. A letter that exonerates him as his wife's killer and informs that his sons have been kidnapped, is in its place. To gain his boys' freedom, he must deliver twenty million dollars to a cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Marcus grumbled. He was going in and out of consciousness as he lay supine on his porch. A cool breeze brushed across his face and tried to chase away his stupor, but the damage to his head was too severe.
His eyes flickered open. He could see the stars shining like marquise diamonds and the moon glowing boldly as he struggled to see past the roof. Then he took in his wife, Abigail. She was beautiful. He always thought she owned an uncanny resemblance to Gabrielle Union.
He struggled to focus. She was sitting against the balustrade with her right hand holding her neck. She was staring back at him and crying. Her eyes were enraged, like she about to lose it.
He fought to keep his eyes trained on her pained face as confusion gave way to realization. She was the reason why he was in this current state. He was simply trying to keep his family together. Arguing turned into fighting when he saw a taxi creeping up his cobblestone driveway to transport his family away. Desperation, panic and rage turned him into a monster. Then his world turned dark.
He tried to speak but failed, as he watched Abigail. He wanted to reach for her, but his arms felt glued to the porch.
Suddenly, a male’s voice intensified the confusion. He begged his eyeballs to move in the direction of the kingly voice, but his brain was crashing. Darkness was struggling to take over. Was he was about to join his mother and father who died in a car crash when he was fifteen? He longed to see his mother’s smiling face again but feared enduring one of his father’s lengthy tirades about being ruthless and controlling every aspect of life with a heavy hand. However, his mortality was assured when the man spoke again.
Even though he could not will his eyes to open, or his limbs to move, his ears were still working properly.
In the distance he heard a helicopter approaching. That sound seemed to fade gradually like his health.
“Is he…dead?” Abigail sobbed. It sounded like her mouth was full of saliva and guilt.
“He’s not dead. Yet. Let me check to be sure.”
Marcus could feel the man’s fingertips on his neck. He wanted to reach out and touch him in a very awful way. However, he only managed a whimper.
A few unnerving footfalls sounded.
“He may wake up soon.”
“Then help me up. I’m still a little dizzy.” There was a brief moment of silence. “Oh God, he really was going to kill me this time.”
“Well, smile. You’re still alive.”
“No thanks to you. What took you so long anyway? I warned you it wouldn’t take long for him to return from that hole-in-the-wall he frequents.” She paused a few seconds. “Are you going to help me up or not?”
Marcus felt a light kick on his leg. He figured the man was stepping over him like he was nothing more than a mangy dog.
Anger rose internally, causing his head to throb. He wanted to cause them great harm for their sins. The powerful desire made his fingers twitch.
“He…I think he’s coming around,” Abigail shouted.
“Let’s get him inside. I’ll grab his feet.”
“I guess I’ll grab his hands.”
Abigail grunted. “Wait. I don’t have a good grip.”
Marcus could feel his body descending to the mahogany, stone porch.
“Just give me a second. I was almost choked to death. Remember?”
The man didn’t reply. Marcus sensed he was becoming annoyed with Abigail. Silence was often very telling.
Suddenly, he felt Abigail grab his wrists again. “Okay. I’m ready.”
“Are you sure this time?”
Abigail sniffed her annoyance.
Marcus could feel his body rising. Thankfully, his eyes flickered open again. It was hard to focus, but he could see Abigail standing over him.
“Ciddy is waiting for him.”
Ciddy? What did she have to do with this? It had been years since he’d seen his aunt.
“That woman sacrificed everything to take him in after his parents were killed in that car accident.” She tsked and rolled her head. “He only has two living relatives besides his children…Ciddy and Emerson. He treats them both like crap. He abandoned Ciddy with a pile of bills and an ailing husband. And Emerson,” she shook her head and chuckled, “I don’t even want to go there. According to Ciddy, Marcus’s father treated Emerson as if he was second class, said Nathaniel regarded Emerson as a weakling who was incapable of committing to anything. Of course, Marcus treats him the same way. I know better. Emerson helped Nathaniel get Bradley & Associates off the ground. Ciddy said she couldn’t believe it when Nathaniel didn’t give Emerson full control of that firm when he died. That’s crazy, isn’t it? To treat your only brother like a blister.”
“Abby, we don’t have time for this right now. Concentrate on carrying him.”
“Marcus wouldn’t let Ciddy see the boys…you know? Said she was uneducated and a disgrace. If it wasn’t for her, he would’ve been in the system. He would’ve endured an adoption agency…a pet store for humans. No one would’ve adopted a fifteen year old.”
“Wait a second. Let me get a better grip on his legs.”
“I pity Marcus. He had to grow up watching his daddy beat his momma senseless. According to Ciddy, Rita was a good woman, said her sister was the type of woman who’d give you the shirt off of her back.” She cleared her throat. “I guess violence is contagious.” She looked down at her injured husband as she struggled to carry him. “Isn’t that right, Mark?”
Marcus grumbled. He wanted to break free and unleash his fury, but his limbs were uncooperative.
“It was risky for you and that tramp to arrive late. The boys…I had to send them to their bedrooms just before he attacked me. They should’ve been on their way to the cabin with…her. They shouldn’t have been here.”
“Stop bitching. Please. They’re gone now. At least they were spared this madness.”
Where are my boys? Who is...this woman?
Marcus’s heart started racing. The scent of apple-cinnamon from the plug-in air fresheners attacked his nostrils, and he knew they’d entered the house. Suddenly, he could feel himself falling fast. Then his head hit something hard. He grumbled, and everything went dark again. Luckily, he was still able to hear.
“My poor husband is bleeding. He looks like an angel when he’s sleeping, doesn’t he?”
“You dropped him pretty hard just now.”
“So, where’s the team? They should be here already.”
“They’re on the way.”
“Great. Just call and confirm. We need to get the next phase underway before he wakes.”
“Don’t worry your pretty face. I got the chloroform. Besides, I’m glad they’re running late. I got special plans for you.”
“What…what are you talking about?” Abigail’s voice owned a hint of fear now.
Now Marcus’s ears were starting to malfunction. His brain was in desperate need of rest.
“Move out of…,” was all he heard his wife say before she broke into a loud scream.
He blacked out completely!