Dark shadows of the past, p.1
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       Dark Shadows of the Past, p.1
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           Angel Sefer
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Dark Shadows of the Past


  Dark Shadows

  of the Past

  A novel of

  The Greek Isles Series

  Angel Sefer

  Booktrope Editions

  Seattle, WA 2015

  COPYRIGHT 2015 ANGEL SEFER

  This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

  Attribution — You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).

  Noncommercial — You may not use this work for commercial purposes.

  No Derivative Works — You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work.

  Inquiries about additional permissions

  should be directed to: info@booktrope.com

  Cover Design by Shari Ryan

  Edited by Jacy Mackin and Vicki Sly

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to similarly named places or to persons living or deceased is unintentional.

  PRINT ISBN 978-1-5137-0023-6

  EPUB ISBN 978-1-5137-0054-0

  Library of Congress Control Number: 2015909236

  Contents

  Cover

  Title Page

  Copyright

  Dedications

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Chapter Twenty-One

  Chapter Twenty-Two

  Epilogue

  Note From The Author

  More Great Reads from Booktrope

  Dedications

  In memory of my late mother, Helen—a wonderful mother and my best friend. She will always be remembered for her love, kindness, and wisdom, and will live in my heart forever…

  In memory of my late grandmother, Lili, whose unconditional love and encouragement inspired me throughout the years.

  Dedicated to my beloved family in Greece and the USA for all their love, guidance, and support; and especially, to my wonderful husband Bill, my loving father Dimitris, my amazing Aunt Angie, and my adorable son Dimitris.

  Many thanks to my publisher Booktrope and my wonderful team: my editor, Jacy Mackin; my second editor and proofreader, Vicki Sly; my cover designer, Shari Ryan; and last but not least, my amazing book manager, Sarka-Jonae Miller.

  Chapter One

  CHRISTINA OPENED HER EYES and looked around, startled. Where am I? She was lying on a freezing, hard surface, surrounded by spine-chilling darkness… A frosty wave of fear washed over her, making her shudder. She peered through the eerie shadows while trying to track any noise, but nothing… Dead silence. Her senses worked overtime. Oh, my God! What happened to me?

  She tried to sit up, but a sharp pain shot right through her head. A moan escaped her lips, and she instinctively shut her eyes. I need to move… I need to get up, she thought, but her body wouldn’t respond. Shivering, cold, and immobilized, she screamed with all the strength she could muster, but the sound that came out of her mouth was no louder than a whisper.

  She drew a deep breath, trying to calm down the thundering of her heart. Think, girl! Think! What happened? Where am I? How long have I been here? Creepy thoughts and questions bombarded her mind, but it had gone completely blank. I’m going to die... Tears welled up in her eyes, as she lay there helpless and defeated.

  ***

  Feeling someone touching her arm, her eyes flew open while her heart fluttered like a scared little bird. In the dim sunlight shining from behind the tall buildings surrounding the area, Christina saw a man leaning over her. Shrinking away from him, her breath caught in her throat.

  “Don’t worry,” the man said. His deep, masculine voice sounded calm and reassuring. “You’re going to be all right. The ambulance is on its way.”

  Christina looked at him, bewildered. He seemed tough but not aggressive. With her heart still thundering in her chest, she drew a deep breath and looked closer. He appeared in his mid thirties, with broad shoulders and well-built muscles. He had a handsome face with dark brown hair and the most amazing blue eyes she had ever seen. Those eyes were staring at her intensely, hypnotizing her…

  The penetrating noise of a siren startled her. Shifting her eyes away from his gaze, she scanned the surroundings. Stunned, she realized that she was lying on the ground, in an alley. What on earth am I doing here? she wondered, anxiously. People milled around them; some were police officers in uniform. I must have passed out, she contemplated, as she hadn’t heard anyone approaching.

  “Don’t worry,” the man repeated, and his encouraging tone of voice drew her from her thoughts.

  Christina tried to say something, but no words came out of her mouth. She stared at him in despair, feeling weak and helpless.

  “I’m Detective Dan Mallory.” The man introduced himself, responding to the question in her eyes. “Can you speak?”

  “I think so,” Christina whispered with great effort.

  “What’s your name?” he asked. His eyes watched her closely.

  “Sophia… I mean, Christina,” she whispered. “Christina Connors.” Seeing the inquiring look in his eyes, Christina bit her lower lip. I need to be careful, she cautioned herself.

  “Can you tell me what happened to you, Christina?”

  She thought for a moment but couldn’t recall much about yesterday’s events. What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I remember what happened?

  The detective peered at her curiously. He started saying something else, but the siren of the ambulance turning into the alley covered the sound of his voice.

  Christina turned toward the ambulance and then back at the man. Instinctively, she reached and grabbed his hand. He seemed surprised but held her grip in his for a few seconds until the paramedics approached them.

  She kept her eyes on the detective, while men in white uniforms took her pulse, checked her body for any broken bones, and finally, put her on a stretcher.

  As they raised the stretcher and started pushing her toward the ambulance, she glanced over and was shocked to see a body lying a few meters away, next to a trashcan. A jolt of fear shot right through her. Who’s that? Is he dead? With great effort, she lifted her head to see better but felt dizzy and collapsed back down as an oxygen mask was placed over her face…

  ***

  Hours later, she opened her eyes and recognized the white, sterilized environment of a hospital room. A nurse was leaning over her, checking her pulse. Christina made an attempt to speak.

  “Don’t try to talk,” the nurse urged her. “You’re still very weak.”

  “Why am I here? What’s wrong with me?” Christina managed to whisper before she started coughing violently. A sharp pain in her chest brought tears to her eyes.

  “Try to remain calm. You have two broken ribs, and it makes it hard to breathe.”

  “It hurts…”

  “I know. We’ve given you medication to reduce the pain and make it easier to breath.”

  “How serious is it?”

  “The CT and MRI scans verified that no jagged edge of the fractured bones has damaged any internal orga
ns or major blood vessels. So, there is no serious damage besides the ribs that should heal within a couple of months. Other than that, there are only a few scrapes and bruises.”

  “Then, why are you keeping me here?”

  “The doctors want to keep you overnight to make sure you’re okay since you were found in an alley freezing.”

  Christina felt her mouth going dry. “I’m thirsty,” she whispered.

  The nurse raised her a little bit, helped her drink a few sips out of a paper cup, and lay her back softly. As soon as she hit the pillow, Christina drifted off to sleep.

  ***

  When she woke up, darkness stretched outside the window. Everything was quiet, except the machine beeping next to her. Glancing toward the open door, she noticed a policeman standing with his back to her room, obviously guarding her door.

  Am I under arrest, or is he here for my protection?

  Taking a deep breath and closing her eyes, she tried to recall yesterday’s events. How did I end up in that alley? How did I get hurt? So many questions tortured her, and no answers came to mind whatsoever.

  The previous afternoon, she left her office at the headquarters of Century Jewelry Company—a large chain of jewelry stores throughout the eastern United States where Christina worked as a designer. Arriving at her friend Johnny’s apartment—a small place on the second floor of an old building—she rang the bell at the main entrance, but Johnny didn’t answer. She rang again and waited for a couple of minutes, but nothing…

  Christina took out her cell phone and called Johnny. His phone was turned off, and she was transferred to the answering service. She left a message and was getting ready to leave when she saw Mrs. Stanley—the old lady who lived on the first floor of the building. The silver-haired, chubby woman was coming around the corner with her little white poodle running next to her. As soon as she saw Christina standing by the front door, she smiled at her.

  “Good evening,” Christina said cheerfully, loud enough for the almost-deaf old lady to hear her.

  “Good evening,” Mrs. Stanley replied, coming up the steps and opening the front door of the building. “Come in.”

  “I rang the bell, but there was no answer.”

  “Maybe he’s not in.”

  “But we were supposed to meet here,” Christina retorted. “Maybe he’s just running a little bit late,” she continued, more to herself than the lady.

  Mrs. Stanley smiled and disappeared down the corridor, with her dog running behind her.

  Christina stood there for a minute, trying to decide whether she should leave or wait for a few minutes. Johnny could be hours late.

  As a freelance photographer, Johnny had no set schedule. When an assignment cropped up, he’d travel whenever and wherever, forgetting everything else. Typically, Christina was one of those things left waiting, which was why they usually met at her place. Too often, she’d been left waiting for hours in a restaurant or bar with strangers trying to pick her up.

  However, today Christina wasn’t sure what time she’d be able to leave her office. So meeting at Johnny’s place was a better option than him having to wait outside her apartment.

  Voices drew her from her thoughts. It was the detective she met in the alley talking to the policeman outside. As he glanced at her, Christina swallowed hard. Those blue eyes of his made her pulse accelerate.

  A moment later, he entered the room and came close to her bed. “How are you feeling?”

  “Okay, I guess,” Christina responded, even though she didn’t feel that way at all.

  He remained silent for a moment, searching her face.

  She could tell a battle raged inside him. He’s anxious to question me about yesterday’s events, she realized, but then again, he can probably see I’m in no condition to be interrogated right now.

  “Am I under arrest?” she inquired with great effort, glancing at the guard standing outside her room.

  “Of course not,” he responded. “He’s here for your protection. Until we know what happened to you in that alley, we have to take precautions and make sure you’re all right.”

  “I understand,” Christina said simply and breathed out, relieved.

  ***

  Dan stared at her as she lay there helpless. Despite the scrapes on her lovely face and a nasty bruise on her left cheek, she was gorgeous. Golden brown curls spread over the pillow and huge, green eyes looked at him so innocently, it made his pulse accelerate.

  Pull yourself together! he reprimanded himself and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. But then his eyes rested on her full lips, and a jolt of desire shot right through him. This is no time for having such thoughts. I have to concentrate on the case, he reminded himself, irritated, and drew his eyes from her face. Hastily, he pulled out his notepad and checked his notes.

  “Can you tell me what happened in the alley?” he asked her in a professional tone and glanced at her face again to see her reactions.

  Christina remained silent for a couple of minutes, probably trying to pull her thoughts together. “I’m not sure what happened… All I remember is bits and pieces…”

  Dan examined her face closely. She seemed to be telling the truth. “Don’t you remember how you ended up there or how you got hurt?”

  Christina closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. Suddenly, her eyes flew open. “What about the body I saw out there?” she inquired alarmed, staring at him straight in the eyes. “You must help me!” she pleaded, grabbing his hand.

  He squeezed her hand in his, feeling how soft and delicate it was. Staring into her eyes, he gave her a reassuring smile. “Don’t worry,” he said. “You’re safe now.”

  Hearing voices outside, he unwillingly let go of her. “Is there anything you can tell me?” he asked hastily.

  “I’m sorry; I just can’t remember much.”

  “Did you know William Beavers?” Dan insisted.

  “Who is William Beavers?” she asked, sounding confused.

  “He’s the man whose body was found next to you in the alley. He used to be an attorney in Marietta,” he explained, in an effort to help her remember something.

  “No.” Christina shook her head in despair. “I’ve never heard of him.”

  At that moment, a nurse walked in and asked him to leave.

  “I need to talk to her,” he protested. “It won’t take long.”

  “I’m sorry, Detective, but it’s late and the patient needs to rest,” she said firmly. “You can come back in the morning.”

  He looked at Christina for a couple seconds. “I’ll be back, first thing in the morning,” he said and left the room.

  ***

  Christina felt numb inside and wanted to drift off to sleep. However, anxiety and gloomy thoughts kept her awake. A threat was hovering over her, and it was imperative to remember how and why she ended up in that alley. Her life depended on it.

  Gradually, as if a fog lifted from her mind, yesterday’s events crashed down on her…

  After watching the old lady walk away, Christina decided to at least check Johnny’s apartment, hoping he’d overslept after a late night. She climbed the stairs and walked down the narrow corridor, avoiding a couple boxes with trash left behind by previous tenants having moved out since the old building was going to be demolished. The only ones left in there were Johnny and Mrs. Stanley.

  Approaching his apartment, loud voices echoed toward her. She recognized her friend’s voice as he argued with two other men.

  Christina hesitated outside the door; hand raised to knock. Should she interrupt? Would it be better to come back later? Just before her knuckle rapped against the wood, the deafening blast of a gunshot and a creepy cry ended the argument inside.

  A scream escaped her lips as she frantically took off toward the staircase. Stumbling over a box, she tumbled down the flight of stairs. Landing on her back, a sharp pain shot right through her ribs, making it hard to breathe.

  “Help!” she screamed desperately, but the d
eafening noise of Mrs. Stanley’s TV covered every other sound.

  A short, muscular man, dressed in black, with a nasty scar on his face, appeared at the top of the staircase. Christina’s breath caught in her throat when she saw the brutal look in his eyes as he lunged down the steps.

  If I don’t make it out of here, I’m dead! She placed a shaking hand against the wall and the other on a clay pot of a dead plant and managed to stand up and stumble for the front door. Just one more step and I’m there… Ouch! Pain shot right through her right arm as the man grabbed her and swung her around violently. Instinctively, Christina rammed her knee into his groin. A loud moan escaped his lips and letting go of her arm, he bent over.

  Christina made it to the door. She grabbed the handle and opened it. A breath of fresh air hit her in the face. Seeing a car turning into the dead-end street, she opened her mouth to scream but a filthy smelling hand shattered her attempt and pulled her back inside. The man fell backwards on the floor pulling Christina down with her back against him. Deriving courage from the terror rushing through her veins, she drove her right elbow into his ribs and rolled away from him.

  “You bitch!” he barked and jumping to his feet, he kicked Christina in the stomach with all his might. As she doubled up in pain, she caught a glimpse of Mrs. Stanley appearing at her apartment door.

  Terror-stricken, the lady tried to slam the door shut. However, the man was a lot faster and shoving her violently, he went inside the apartment after her.

  “No!” Christina screamed unable to move.

  A minute later, her assailant rushed back toward her. Christina’s eyes widened in horror as she saw blood dripping from the knife in his right hand.

  He dragged her off the floor, up the stairs, and down the corridor toward Johnny’s apartment while Christina twisted and turned, kicking and screaming, trying to free herself from the deadly grip.

  When they reached the apartment, he let go of her arm and grabbed her wrist. He twisted her arm behind her back and forced her inside. Scared and bewildered, Christina scanned her surroundings as the metallic smell of blood hit her nostrils, making her want to puke.

 
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