Promises Remembered
111 pages
English

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111 pages
English

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In Ryan McKenna’s rookie year on the police force, he made an error in judgment that nearly cost a teenaged girl her life. He quit the force, spent half a decade living life from the bottom of a bottle and trying to forget the past. Eventually he sobered up, became a private investigator and worked to build a successful security business. But through the years he never forgot the girl with the China Blue eyes. She is haunted by a past she can’t remember. When she was fifteen, Kayla woke from a coma with no recollection of the brutal attack that had landed her in the hospital. After three years in a state orphanage, she went to a community college in Upstate New York and never returned to the City. She supports herself as an artist but her troubling images reflect the awful memories locked in her mind. Together, they must work to unlock the past. When the man who attacked Kayla is released from prison, Ryan tracks her down to warn her. But Kayla still suffers from amnesia. To keep her safe, he insinuates himself into her life. But he didn’t count on the passionate attraction between them.

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Publié par
Date de parution 07 octobre 2014
Nombre de lectures 1
EAN13 9781773624181
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0010€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

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Promises Remembered By Kat Attalla With Jasmine Attalla and Jude Pittman Digital ISBNs EPUB 978-1-77362-418-1 Kindle 978-1-77145-294-6 WEB 978-1-77362-419-8 Amazon Print 978-1-77362-420-4
Copyright 2014 by Kat Attalla Cover art by Michelle Lee All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights un der copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or in troduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means (electroni c, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book. Dedicated to The fans, family, and friends of Kathryn Attalla a.k.a. Kat Attalla – Kathryn Taylor January 15, 1957 – October 26, 2015
Chapter One 1Ryan McKenna leaned against the stone facade of St . Paul’s Church waiting for the crowd to disperse. The sun beat down on the bla ck asphalt road. Moisture rose from the surface in a steamy haze. He ran his hand throu gh his scratchy beard. The Fourth of July celebration next weekend promised to be a s corcher in the city. He tipped his head toward his sponsor, and then descended the sta irs two at a time. After seven years in AA, sobriety had become a way of life but at certain times he still felt the need for support. Especially at this time of the year. As he jogged along the Brooklyn streets in the near hundred-percent humidity, he felt his thirty-three years in every muscle. His pa ce continued to slow with each block. Perspiration caused his clothes to cling uncomforta bly to his body. He rounded Bedford Street to Carroll, and found his older brother wait ing on the front stoop of his three-family brownstone. Buying the building had been the only intelligent thing he’d done in the three years before he joined AA. He pushed open the chain-link gate and walked up th e flagstone path. “What’s up?” he said through deep breaths. Sean shrugged. “Can’t I stop by without a reason?” Ryan knew the visit had a purpose. Today was the te nth anniversary of the day he left the police force. The family must have sent hi s brother to check up on him. He’d spent those first few years in an alcoholic haze, b ut he had gotten his life back. He was even a detective now, although a private one. Worki ng outside the system suited him better. Sean had taken a lot of crap from the family for no t looking out for Ryan his rookie year. If AA had taught Ryan anything, it was that h e couldn’t blame another for his mistakes and guilt couldn’t be cured with a bottle of Jack Daniels. “Want to grab some dinner?” “Can’t. Hot date tonight,” Sean said. “Anyone I know?” Sean ignored the rhetorical question. He never got close enough to a woman to get to know her, let alone have anyone in the family me et the lady in question. A sibling trait Ryan seemed destined to follow. “You have a key. Wh y are you waiting outside?” “It’s a freaking sauna in your place. Too cheap to run the air conditioner?” “I don’t suppose it occurred to you to turn it on, jackass.” “Up yours!” Sean shot back. With the brotherly affections out of the way, they ascended the front stairs and entered his first floor apartment. Ryan dropped his keys on the coffee table and crossed the room to start the air conditioning. He stood in front of the unit and took the full blast of cold air until he could peel his tee shirt away from his body. “Coke?” he offered as he went to the refrigerator t o get one for himself. Being a recovering alcoholic had its social issues. He knew Sean would rather have a cold beer, but then Sean never had a problem stopping at one. “Water.”
Ryan tossed him a bottle of Poland Springs and sat across from him at the kitchen table. “So why are you here?” “When’s the last time you called Mom?” “You came for that?” Sean’s tension, as thick as the air, caught Ryan’s attention but he still wasn’t prepared for the pronouncement. “They’re paroling B ill Varnack. I didn’t want you to hear it from someone else.” He slammed his soda can on the table. Air rushed fr om his body. The rage and anger he’d spent the last decade trying to suppress , rose to the surface. “No friggen way.” “He’ll be out next week.” Ryan clenched his fingers into fists. He wanted to hit something. “When was the hearing?” “There wasn’t one. He cut a deal in exchange for te stimony against his cellmate.” “So he serves ten years for attempted murder? It’s a joke.” “He probably would have been out sooner if you hadn ’t spoken at every one of his parole hearings. The victim had no memory.” Ryan fought the urge to explode from his brother’s dispassionate words. Emotions to a cop were an occupational hazard. Perhaps if he ’d learned that sooner, he’d still be one. “ T h evictimhim, she woulda name, Sean. It’s Kayla Walker.” Although to  has always be China Blue. Not only for the color of her eyes but also for the sadness reflected in their shimmering depth. The sight of t hat battered teenager in the hospital emergency room had haunted him for years. “The DA tried to notify her, but they couldn’t find her. Do you know where she is?” With bitter regret, Ryan acknowledged that he didn’ t. He’d kept tabs on her from a distance for the first few years. She’d gone to a g roup home after leaving the hospital. When she turned eighteen she left the system, and t he area as far as he knew. He didn’t blame her for getting out. Memories or not, the city was no place for a kid all alone. “I have to find her before he does.” “Varnack was ordered to have no contact with her as the terms of his parole.” “His word isn’t worth shit.” Educated and dangerous ly manipulative, Varnack wasn’t the average, garden-variety scumbag. Before his arr est, he’d worked as an IT manager in a telecommunications company. He knew how to acc ess information so he might already know where to find Kayla. “It wasn’t your fault,” Sean said. Ryan balled his fingers into tight fists. “Then who se fault was it?” “Her stepfather, Varnack.” He swallowed the bile rising in his throat. “And I delivered her right to him.” “You took a runaway home.” “She was terrified, and I didn’t see it.”
He’d never stopped to question why she ran away to begin with. Instead he escorted her to the door and left her in the hands of her stepfather. When they’d received a call to the same house less than an hour later, the full magnitude of his screw-up had shocked him. Beaten, stabbed and her hair hacked off, the violen ce had shocked even his veteran partner. No one thought she would survive, but by some miracle she had. And thank God, she had no memory of her brutal attack. “You weren’t the only one who made a mistake on tha t case, Ryan. Kayla Walker obviously fell though a lot of cracks before that d ay. You couldn’t have known.” “You would have.” Sean’s gut instincts made him a g reat detective. “Not when I was a twenty-three year old rookie, Bro .” Some rookie season! Until that fateful day Ryan’s s ingular goal had been to follow in his brother’s footsteps. Not to mention his fath er’s and all his uncles’. The police department was the family business. Sean shook his head. “You’ve gotten your life back. Don’t get sucked into it again.” “I won’t.” “And what are you going to do, assuming you can fin d her after all this time?” “It depends on how much she remembers now.” As his last act before leaving the force, he’d promised China Blue that her snake of a stepfather would never touch her again. Despite the fact that she’d never heard his words, he intended to keep that promise. If she hadn’t regained her memory, then sh e was in real danger from an enemy she couldn’t recognize. And if she had? Would she accept his help? “What about your business?” Security work accounted for the bulk of his busines s. Whether running background checks on prospective employees or maintaining surv eillance systems to monitor current employees, the paranoid corporate climate o f the millennium kept him busy. “A cell phone and my laptop will keep me in touch w ith the clients. My staff can do the grunt work. That’s what they’re paid for.” Tech nology and the internet had revolutionized the field of private investigation. And that free-flow of information put Kayla Walker at a big risk. “It must be nice to be redundant in your own firm.” His brother harbored no resentment over his achieve ment. Sean’s referrals and contacts were largely responsible for the growth an d success of Ryan’s company. “Which leaves me the freedom to do some real detective work.” “Let the police handle Varnack.” “You know the police can’t touch him until he goes after her. I’m not going to wait until he does.” Varnack’s violent obsession with his stepdaughter l eft Ryan with no doubt the bastard would try to find Kayla. And Sean knew it too, or he wouldn’t have come. 256* * * Kayla Walker swept the wooden floors of the rustic cabin. Not that twenty screaming pre-pubescent boys would notice. Half the fun of a Boy Scout outing was tramping
through the mud. Three years ago, when she bought t he hunting camp she had not planned to rent to boarders the way the previous ow ners had. She didn’t approve of sport hunting. She bought the property and the two buildings for p ersonal use. She lived in the main house and used the bunkhouse as her art studio . In a moment of weakness, the local scout troop got her to bend her own rule and let them use her precious refuge. After her high school graduation she’d moved to Ups tate New York, and she hadn’t been back to the city since. The mountains offered almost everything she needed. Federal Express delivered the rest. The cell phone in her jumper pocket jingled a famil iar tune. She looked at the digital screen and smiled. “Hey Chris.” “How did you know it was me?” “I know you think I live on another planet, but we do actually get technology here. Caller ID.” Kayla didn’t add that Christine was the only person who called her cell phone, as she was the one who gave it to Kayla. They didn’t m ake sense in the mountains with the spotty signal coverage. “Your contract from Gorgon Records is here. I’ll se nd it up tomorrow. Unless you want to come down to the Village to get it.” “Not this time.” Christine laughed. “Not anytime.” She probably thought Kayla a hopeless phobic. One d ay she’d shock the woman and show up. Just as soon as she stopped getting vi olently ill at the thought of returning to the city. Ten years ago, Kayla had awakened in a hospital in Brooklyn, New York with no memory. The doctors told her very little about the attack that landed her in intensive care, and she never asked. After her discharge, soc ial services transferred her to a group home in Blauvelt, New York where she met Chri stine, a caseworker. Kayla was Christine’s first case and after Kayla left the sys tem they became close friends. Yet, in all the years she’d known Christine, Kayla had neve r once been to her home. “When are you coming up again?” Kayla asked. “When the poison ivy on my butt clears up.” Thankfully her friend couldn’t see her broad grin. “I’m not even going to ask how you got it there.” “I’d be happy to tell you.” “You’re twisted.” “Me?” Christine said. “I’m not the one who gets mul tiple marriage proposals from a heavy metal musician named Snake Skin.” “That’s Mr. Skin to you, and he’s never even met me .” “Ah, but he thinks you’re his soul-mate.” Kayla shook her head. “He thinks China Blue is his soul-mate.” “Your alter ego. You know I think your work is grea t, Kayla, but you have to admit some of it is scary.”
And that very quality supported her. The nightmaris h images she drew were her catharsis. The fact that she gained a cult followin g among the Heavy Metal scene had given her the means to develop her other artistic v entures. Portraits were interesting and paid well, but those commissions were few and far between. Face painting at the numerous fairs and fl ea markets that drew tourists to the area, made her pocket money. Her true love, book il lustration had yet to make her any money. So album covers and wall posters for Gorgon Records remained her main source of income. “Poison ivy or not, why don’t you make the trip thi s weekend? I can promise you’ll be the center of attention for twenty single guys.” “Twenty? Are any of them old enough to drink legally?” “Sure,” Kayla promised. “The troop leaders.” “Yeah, that’s what I thought. Forget it. I’m going out with a friend for some dim-sum.” “What’s that?” “I couldn’t describe it. You’ll just have to make a trip with me to Chinatown and try it out. I’ll treat, even though you make more money th an me now.” Why couldn’t Christine accept that Kayla was allerg ic to the city? It made her sick. “Who’s the friend? What’s his name?” she asked to c hange the subject. “None of your business.” “Why? You mind my business when it comes to men. An d then you show up and scare them off.” “I may be a bitch to them but I am an honest one. I f they were worth anything, I wouldn’t be able to scare them off.” Kayla agreed. She wasn’t looking for a relationship right now. Most of the time she loved her solitary life. But every now and then she yearned for company. As far as she knew, she had no family, but the nurs es in the hospital had assumed that she must have a special boyfriend she couldn’t remember. Every week, until the day she was discharged, she received a bouquet of, ironically named, Forget-me-nots with a card made out to China Blue. When she decide d to take a professional name for business purposes, she ran with it. Due to the nature of her work, and the following it attracted, Christine had convinced Kayla to incorporate her name and use a post office box in New York City to keep unwanted fans away. She was younger then and rarely disagreed with Christine’s advice. But the decision left Kayla dependant on he r friend in business matters and she didn’t like the feeling. “Have a good weekend. Enjoy the dim-wit,” Kayla said. “That’s dim-sum.” “I was talking about your date. You do like them brainless.” “Kayla…” She hit the disconnect button. “Oh, darn, we get su ch terrible coverage up here,” she said to the dead phone. * * *
Ryan tightened his grip on a porcelain vase as the elevator began its assent. A two-week run around had brought him to this point, but he still had a long way to go. Even with the help of the NYPD, Kayla Walker remained el usive. Was it possible in this day and age to have no paper trail? He’d searched every public database, as well as some private ones he shouldn’t have access to, and still he came up dry. After high school graduation, she’d spent two years in a small community college in Sullivan County. Then the trail ended. Even the Dep artment of Motor Vehicles only had a post office box for her in the city. He’d spent f ive days staking out the place until someone finally showed up to collect the mail. Unfo rtunately, the woman was not Kayla. Christine Dryer worked for the State of New York in the Office of Children and Family Services. Records showed that she had been K ayla’s caseworker until she turned eighteen and left the system. He checked wit h the landlord and neighbors but it appeared Miss Dryer lived alone. Why was she pickin g up Kayla’s mail? He exited the elevator on the third floor, and foun d apartment 306 at the end if a well-lit corridor. Thankfully the building didn’t h ave a doorman or he might not have made it this far. He rang the bell and waited. “Who is it?” an annoyed voice asked. “Flower delivery.” She opened the door a crack keeping her foot wedged firmly behind. When she saw the enormous bouquet she slid the chain and opened the door wide. “For me?” Her tone and body language relaxed. Women and flowers, he thought with a grin. He could be the Boston Strangler and she had just given him access to her home. She was dressed for a night out, in a black mini-skirt and clinging top. And those stiletto . C ity girls loved their shoes. “If you’ll just sign right here.” He handed her a clipboard which s he signed before grabbing her vase. She brushed her manicured finger across the petals. “Gorgeous,” she murmured in approval. “Enjoy the flowers, Miss Walker.” Her eyes narrowed into angry slits. “What did you c all me?” He glanced at the paperwork as if to check. “You’re not Kayla Walker?” “No.” “Is this her apartment?” “Where did you get this address?” she demanded. “From the sender.” She tapped her toe impatiently against the tile flo or. “Who’s the sender?” “I don’t read the cards. I just deliver. If this is not the correct address, I’ll return them.” She yanked the envelope off the large yellow bow in the middle of the bouquet and opened it. She had nerve, he’d grant her that. When she read the small note her expression turned thunderous. “What is the name of the flower shop?” “Are the flowers for you or not?”
She grabbed the board from his hand and read the he ader, then thrust it back at him. Without a thank you or a tip, she slammed the door in his face. But she kept the flowers and that was the point. Now, he’d just wait for her to call her elusive friend. * * * Christine paced the length of her small apartment w ith her phone to her ear. Her three earlier calls had gone unanswered. She was wo rried. So worried that she blew off her date with a gorgeous personal trainer. Kayla ne ver stayed out past ten p.m. Not even when she’d dated that local Lothario who was m ore interested in her property than her personality. “Where have you been?” Christine exploded when Kayl a finally picked up. An uncomfortable pause lingered. “In the studio.” “Don’t you answer your phone?” “You know I don’t always get a signal in the bunkho use.” “I called the landline as well.” “Which I don’t answer when I’m working.” Her voice reverberated with annoyance. “What’s going on?” Calm down, Chris.d. “Did youslowed her breathing before she hyperventilate  She give anyone my address?” “For what?” “You got a flower delivery today.” “From who?” Kayla’s voice perked up. Christine bit her tongue to keep from snapping out one of her usual sarcastic comebacks. She could hardly blame the woman for not sensing the danger. Kayla had no memory of her past. “I don’t know. There’s no si gnature. But the card is made out to China Blue.” “What kind of flowers?” Kayla asked. “Does it matter? Someone obviously went to a great deal of trouble and expense to track you down. Mr. Snake Skin perhaps? Would your agent give this address?” “I’ve heard his music, Chris. He isn’t the hearts a nd flowers type. And my agent would never give your address.” “For all you know, he might be a stalker.” She laughed and blew off the notion. “He’d have to know where I am to stalk me.” Why did Kayla have an inexplicable fear of the city yet remain so completely trusting of strangers? “I’m going down to that florist first thing in the morning. I might even go to the police.” “And have them arrest a man for sending flowers?” Phrased like that, Chris realized she did sound rid iculous. However, as Kayla’s former caseworker she was aware of some of the even ts that landed the girl in the system to begin with. What she’d read had turned he r stomach. No wonder Kayla had chosen to block out the assault from her stepfather.
In the beginning Chris had deferred to the psychiat rist’s opinion that they should let Kayla regain her memories on her own. As time went on, she seemed to bury the past even further. When she turned eighteen and was no l onger under social services jurisdiction, Chris tried to get the girl to seek t herapy. Kayla agreed and then she disappeared for more than two months. When she resu rfaced, she wouldn’t tell anyone where she’d been. Chris never brought the subject u p again. “I hate to state the obvious Chris, but if you just told him he had the wrong address, it would have ended there.” “That’s another thing. He didn’t look like a delive ryman. He was too well dressed, too polished.” “He must have been really good looking for you to take notice.” She would admit to a certain admiration for the han dsome man. His neatly bearded face and clear hazel eyes had made her pulse rise, until he called her by the wrong name. Then she shot straight into protector mode. “Aren’t you the least bit curious?” “I’m curious about what kind of flowers they are.” “That’s another weird thing. They’re Forget-me-nots .” A gasp of surprise crackled through the phone line. “Bring them up with you this weekend. Please.” “They do mean something to you, don’t they?” She co uld here it in Kayla’s voice “Yes.” “Who sent them?” “I don’t know. But it’s not the first time.” Goosebumps covered Christine’s skin. “I’ll take the five o’clock bus tomorrow.” She had no idea what the flowers represented but she wo uld bet it pertained to Kayla’s past. Chris might as well use the excuse to check out the situation. Something was going on and she meant to get to the bottom of it.
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