Victims of Circumstance by Lori Gordon

Victims of Circumstance
by Lori Gordon

Rebel Ink Press

eBook ISBN: RIP000602

A survivor of a messy divorce, Brandon Matthews promised himself he’d never fall in love again. In order to keep that promise, he must ignore the instant attraction that has him vowing to find the person threatening Kari Stewart. When the couple narrowly escapes death at the hands of Kari’s stalker, they learn just how precious life—and love—really is.

Chapter One

It always happened in the dark.
Kari Stewart bolted upright, blinking. She shoved her fingers in her ears trying to drown out the familiar yelling.
Not again. The eight–year-old climbed down to her younger sister on the bottom bunk.
It was a stifling July night in rural Kansas. The small house didn’t have the luxury of an air conditioner, so the girls sweated under the blanket Kari pulled over their heads. In the glow from the flashlight she kept hidden under her pillow, Kari soothed her five-year-old half sister, Marie Milton—it was what a big sister was supposed to do.
Tonight the screaming was worse than usual, so with her arms wrapped around Marie, Kari whispered the Twenty-Third Psalm.
“I…I’m scared, Kari.”
“Shhh,” Kari squeezed Marie’s shoulder. “It will be over soon.”
Huddled under the makeshift tent, Marie clinging tightly to her, Kari closed her eyes and prayed for the fighting to stop.
“It’s never been this bad,” Marie sniffed as glass shattered while their mother screamed words not intended for children’s ears.
At the slamming of the front door Marie let out a high pitched yelp. Kari just managed to cover Marie’s mouth when the bedroom door crashed open.
Towering over them was a man both girls feared more than anything else in life.
He stood inches from them, illuminated in the eerie glow from the blanket-covered flashlight Kari saw the shotgun held at his side.
A squeal escaped from her quivering lips before she begged, “Pleeease God… oh please help us…”
“SHUT UP!” He shouted while making his way to the tiny bedroom window.
Kari silently thanked God for the wail of sirens coming towards them. He sent them to save her and Marie.
After what seemed like forever, someone started pounding on the front door. When the shouting began Kari held her breath.
“Police.”
More banging.
“Open up.”
The butt of the shotgun slammed against the bedroom window sent glass shards raining over the blanket.
“I’ve got a gun,” he yelled. “Stay out or I’ll kill her fucking brats! I swear to God I’ll kill them.”
As he spun around to face the girls, his eyes caught in the glow from the police headlights streaming through the broken window; devil’s eyes that would forever burn in her nightmares.
When he placed the shotgun’s barrel against the side of her head she heard the distinct cocking sound…
She screamed.
Bolting upright, still trapped in the throes of the familiar nightmare, Kari Stewart gasped for breath.
In her sweat plastered nightgown she climbed out of bed. Stumbling over shoes habitually left in the middle of the floor she swore before making her way to the kitchen for a something cold to soothe her raw throat.
Shaky hands brought the glass to her lips and water dripped down her nightshirt. She swore again before she threw the glass against the wall. Shattered glass fragments made Kari cringe in memory. Dropping to her knees, she let the tears come.
Because of a damn crank call she was reliving that terrifying night—the night the police hauled her step-father away, kicking and screaming, from the house they’d shared in Ottawa, Kansas. The same night he promised to hunt her down and kill her. His voice was as clear in her mind now; as it had been the night she stood clinging to her younger sister, watching him bang his head against the police car window.
And to this day, she still remembered the rage when he yelled. ‘I’m going to kill you, little bitch. You think they can hold me forever? They can try to hide you from me but I’ll find you. And when I do, you’re going to pay.’
Thanks to the dream Kari clearly remembered the anger burning in his eyes. And when they’d locked onto hers there was no doubt in her mind, he’d meant every word he said.
In time, Kari learned to sleep dreamlessly through the night.
Until tonight. Until an anonymous caller awakened the nightmare she thought she’d banished forever.

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