“How’s your breakfast?” Annabel asked as she sat down at the kitchen table across from her husband, coffee cup in hand. It was a beautiful, cool morning, and she loved the way the sun streamed through the lace curtains at the bay window and bathed the breakfast nook in warm light.
Mark smiled at her, his green eyes sparkling. “Absolutely perfect. Just like you.”
Brian, their son, dropped the fork to his plate. “Gross!”
The young lad was just eleven, so his hormones hadn’t quite surged enough to spark an interest in girls, much less give him an understanding of why his parents made goo-goo eyes at each other.
“Finish your food,” Mark said, checking his watch. “We have to leave here in less than ten minutes if we hope to get you to school on time.”
“Yes, your highness.”
Mark laughed as he looked toward his wife and shrugged. It was apparent he had no interest in correcting his son’s arguably disrespectful sarcasm, apparently because he thought the cuteness factor overrode the infraction.
Annabel narrowed her eyes and furrowed her brow. “Is that any way to address your father, young man?”
“Sorry.” Brian turned toward his dad and offered a sharp salute. “Yes, sir!”
She rolled her eyes and shook her head. “Impossible.”
Mark and Brian grinned as they exchanged a fraternal look of understanding. The two seemed more like buddies than father and son.
Annabel hadn’t felt this way about her husband in years. They had always been happy and got along just fine, but this was like puppy love. And it was all thanks to Mark’s premature heart attack a couple of months ago, which gave them both a slap of reality in the face as well as a reminder of how precious life really was.
They didn’t even know Mark had a heart condition. He was a marathon runner, for God’s sake, with healthy blood pressure and low cholesterol, and there was no history of coronary problems in his family. Yet, an episode of ventricular fibrillation came out of nowhere, seizing him in the middle of the night. And if it were not for Annabel’s proficiency with CPR to resuscitate his heart before the ambulance arrived, he probably would have ended up with brain damage. Or worse.
Annabel didn’t work outside the home anymore, but those years of nursing school and her stint at Western General Hospital had finally paid off in spades.
The cardiologist said Mark had an arrhythmia, and it was likely to surface again, though one could never predict when or where. So he installed an S-ICD, or subcutaneous implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, in Marks’ chest, which would virtually eliminate his risk of sudden cardiac death. Even better, his doctor was able to enroll him in a clinical trial with a company in Denmark that gave him the latest, state-of-the-art version of such a device absolutely free.
The apparatus was supposed to be a medical breakthrough with features far beyond a normal S-ICD, but the most important thing to Annabel was that she had her husband back, and she had never adored him more than right now.
“What time should I expect you this evening?” she asked.
“I have a lecture at three o’clock, but I plan to come home after that. So, perhaps around four thirty?”
“Early? How nice!” She gave him a suggestive smile after ensuring Brian wasn’t looking. “Perhaps you and I can spend a little quality time together before dinner. I bought something at the mall the other day that I’ve been waiting to show you.”
The man had an arrhythmia, not blocked arteries, so he could use the exercise.
His eyes brightened. “Really? Well, I look forward to it.”
Brian looked back and forth at them, inquisitively. “What are you guys talking about?”
“Well, uh,” Mark stammered. “Your mother and I need to…um…go over the family budget.”
“Really? So that’s what ‘quality time’ means?”
Annabel raised an eyebrow and smiled. “As far as you’re concerned, young man, it most certainly does.”
The room fell quiet for a moment, the air soft and serene until a well of disturbing energy erupted around them. Mark clutched at his chest with his right hand as his body convulsed, and he looked toward Annabel with a chilling fear in his eyes.
“Mark?” she asked. “What’s happening?”
“Annabel!” He reached out with his left hand as the convulsions continued. Then they stopped, and he fell off his chair to the floor.
Brian’s eyes welled with fear. “Dad!”
“No!” Annabel sped around the table and dropped to her knees. She dug her fingers into Mark’s neck and didn’t feel a pulse, so she immediately rolled him onto his back and started pumping his chest.
“Brian!” she screamed. “Call 9-9-9, and have them send an ambulance!”
Brian just stood there with tears streaming down his face.
“Okay!” He ran to the phone and started dialing, after which she could hear his shaky voice instructing the operator to send help.
Mark’s eyes stayed wide open and lifeless as she closed off his nose, descended to his mouth and puffed air into his lungs. Then she reared back up and continued pumping on him. But there was no effect at all.
“Mark, goddamnit! Don’t do this to me! Please!”
She worked on him for almost fifteen minutes until the paramedics arrived and took over with a portable defibrillator, manual respirator and injections of adrenaline. They descended on him with expert efficiency and skill, but nothing they did made the slightest difference. It was like someone had flipped a kill switch, and Mark was never coming back.
Annabel sensed Mark’s spirit drifting away, his figure seeming to fade into a blurry light right in front of her like a scene-ending camera shot from a Hitchcock movie. It was the most haunting and soul-chilling experience of her life, and the worst part was she couldn’t do anything about it. Evil forces had descended on her perfect little home again, but this time they were set on taking her husband with them.
After another ten minutes of battling with his lifeless body, the paramedics finally gave up and pronounced him dead on the scene. The two men pulled away, settled back on their heels, dropped their arms in resignation, and sighed.
The older of the two looked up, his face straining in anguish. “I am so sorry.”
Annabel pulled her son into her arms and turned his face away. They cried together as she wondered what could have possibly happened.
“James Bond Meets Fifty Shades of Grey”
Immerse yourself in the world class novels that combine action, mystery & suspense with tantalizing and tastefully written erotica. You’ll find all your sensibilities roused at once with Kevin Sterling’s ultra-sexy, action-packed Jack Lazar Series.
In this fourth action-packed thriller, Jack travels to Denmark for a business venture, but what seems to be a textbook transaction turns into a nightmare after he gets involved with Katarina, a vivacious Danish girl who apparently lacks a moral compass, not to mention an off button. After naively believing their liaison was just a random encounter, Jack discovers she’s connected to his business deal, and there’s a dangerous political group with skin in the game, too.
Katarina makes a convincing case of being a victim, not part of the conspiracy, but can Jack really trust her?
The firestorm gets out of control as Jack digs deeper, unearths the convoluted plot behind it all, and discovers that innocent people are being heartlessly killed. He’s not only horrified by the reason why it’s happening, but how it’s being done, and there appears to be no way to stop it from occurring again.
Then the scheme’s real objective emerges, launching Jack into action with intelligence operatives to prevent it. But that’s not so easy with assassins on Jack’s tail, forcing him to struggle for survival while trying to prevent Katarina from getting caught in the crossfire.
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Genre – Action, Mystery, Suspense
Rating – R
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