The Run (The Running Suspense Collection #1)

       Diane Strong / Thrillers & Crime
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The Run (The Running Suspense Collection #1)
br /> (The Running Suspense Collection)
By Diane Strong
Copyright 2013 Diane Strong
Copyright 2013 by Diane Strong
All rights reserved.
Table of Contents
Title Page
Copyright Page
About The Run
The Run
About the Author
Other Books by the Author
The Run: (This is a 10,000 word short story/ approx. 34 pages) (This is a stand-alone story)
Cora is a runner and mother of two whose husband is working out of town on business. Always a protective mother, Cora has never left her children alone. That is until a well-intentioned friend encourages her to. This is a story that will leave you questioning your parenting skills and wanting to read more great running adventures by Diane Strong.
The Run

Prologue

Cora Franklin fans her heart shaped face with a menu from The Pub as she scans the long table with her deep brown eyes where her fellow run club members are seated. Adrenaline from their shared run still flows freely though her curvy, yet toned body.
She struggles to listen to the multiple conversations as her eyes flow from one runner to the next. The sound bombards her ears, teasing her with snippets of topics – the upcoming Olympic marathon, a race this past weekend, injury tips.
On the far end of the long table, Cora takes a quick sip off the top of her Michelob Ultra, listening as a new runner tells about her position in security at the airport. The new runner appears to be smart and funny; she’ll be a great addition to the Simpsonville Run Club. Cora loves meeting new people and hearing their stories. As a stay-at-home mom, the run club provides her with much needed adult time.
“It sounds like you really enjoy your job, Kim. You must be very proud, climbing your way up in seniority like that. And to be the head of security as a woman? That’s just awesome.” Cora babbles on as blood still rushes through her body. Kim is very lean and this makes Cora a little jealous and intimidated at the same time.
“I am very proud, but I also feel guilty leaving my kids every day. It must be nice to be able to stay at home with your kids.” Kim glances down at her hands and fingers her wedding ring.
“It’s great. I mean, it’s hard sometimes but I wouldn’t trade it for my old job…ever. Of course, my old job wasn’t going anywhere. I was just a peon doing something I hated.” Cora pulls a loose strand of her curly black hair behind her delicate ear.
“So what does your husband do then?” Kim asks.
“He’s a contractor. He’s in Nashville right now on a big job. It’s coming to a close soon though.” Cora’s heart skips a beat when she remembers that her husband is gone. She hates leaving the kids with anyone other than him on Tuesday nights.
“You must feel like a single mother right now, huh? I can’t imagine trying to do it alone. My kids would probably drive me crazy.” Kim smiles at the thought.
“Yeah, it sucks. I can’t go for my usual run in the morning. I have to get a babysitter or go to the gym and run on the treadmill. I hate treadmills. I just want to get up and run, not have to pack all my stuff and drag the kids to the gym. But it’s only for a few more weeks…I hope.”
“How old are your kids?”
“They’re six and eight.”
“Ya know, they’re probably okay by themselves for a bit while you go for a run,” Kim says with a hint of seriousness in her voice. She takes a long pull off her Amber Bock then pulls the tie out of her blonde hair and proceeds to re-tie it into a ponytail.
Cora pauses to take in what Kim has just said. “Really? Do you think?”
“Sure! I mean, my kids are five and nine, and I leave them at home all the time when I go for a run. It’s not like I go for two hours. I just go for about five miles. They’re old enough to follow the rules; they know not to go outside or answer the door. I just put a movie in and they do fine. I mean, it depends on your kids, of course, but I think it’s okay.”
Coming from a security specialist makes Kim’s suggestion even more reliable. She should know, she regulates security at the airport.
“Isn’t there some law about the kids being twelve before you can leave them alone?”
“That’s for babysitting other people’s kids, Cora. There’s no law that says you can’t leave your own kids alone as long as they are responsible. That’s your decision as a mother. You know your kids and whether they can handle the responsibility.”
“Wow. I think I might try it. I mean, if you really think it’s okay.” Cora feels excited at getting permission to do something as simple as go for a run. But she still feels as though she needs to be told one more time.
“Sure! Just start with a short run and if they do fine, work your way up to an hour.”
The Run

“Should we go over it again or do you think you understand?” Cora looks intently at Ella’s eyes.
“No, Mom! I get it! It’s fine; just go. We won’t go outside and we won’t answer the phone. We’ll just watch our movie and you will be back before it’s over. Can we start the movie now? Pleeease?” Ella tries to push her mother toward the door.
“I don’t want you answering the door either, Ella.”
“I know.” Ella rolls her eyes.
“Okay. I’m gonna go. You guys just watch the movie—”
“We know, Mommy, just go!” Ella’s fists are on her hips.
“No fighting!”
“I promise, Mommy.” Ella hits ‘play’ and jumps onto the couch with her little brother.
“I love you both.”
They don’t say anything else. They just stoically sit on the couch staring at the TV like any other day they have already lived.
Cora walks out her front door and debates whether she should lock it. The idea of the house catching fire while she is gone and the kids trying to escape but panicking and being unable to unlock the door flashed through her brain. She chooses not to lock the door.
A big blocky Golden Retriever lays on the porch near the front door. He lifts his head to greet her. “You protect them, Goliath, you hear me? I love you too, buddy.” Cora trots off glancing back at the house only once.

Jeremy turns into the long gravel driveway belonging to Stan’s Landscape and Design. He pulls in alongside a pile of limestone rocks and hops out of the truck cab. One by one he yanks the ear buds out of his ears and leaves them dangling from his front pocket, then he reaches around with his right hand and pulls up his sagging pants.
Stan walks briskly to meet Jeremy and starts talking before he gets to him.
“Where the heck have you been? I expected you thirty minutes ago!”
“I was way up in the fricking sticks, man. You said Simpsonville; the place was about ten miles north of Simpsonville on those puny-ass roads. It took forever.” Jeremy feels a buzz in his pocket and pulls out his phone to read the incoming text message. He starts to hit reply.
“Put that damn phone away! How many times do I need to tell you there is no personal phone use on the job? Save it for your break. Now let’s get this trailer loaded so you can get these rocks over to the Johnson project”
Stan pulls his leather gloves out of his rear pocket and starts walking around the front of the truck. As he reaches the far side, he stops.
“What the hell is this? What the hell, Jeremy! What the hell!”
Jeremy strides over to see why his boss was freaking out. The blood drains from his face.
“I don’t know, boss! I swear that’s the first I seen of it!”
“What the hell did you hit? Jeez, man! This is my brand new truck! It just got my logo on it! Shit, Jeremy!”
“Man, it’s like a damned jungle up there. The only thing up there is deer and raccoons and those possum things. I must have hit a deer. I’m sorry, man. I didn’t know I hit anything. The truck rides so smooth. Don’t you have insurance or sumthin’?”
Stan seethes, he can hardly speak. He fears he will kill Jeremy with his bare hands if he so much as moves. Jeremy has been an unreliable pain in the ass since the first day he worked for him.
“You’re outa here, Jeremy. Get your crap and go. I’m done with you and your excuses.”
“Oh come on, boss, I’m sorry. Let me make it up.”
“Go. Now.”

The theme song to SpongeBob Squarepants starts playing and the two children sitting on the couch gradually come out of their trance. Jamie jumps up and hits stop on the DVD player, then turns to his older sister.
“It’s over.”
Ella pulls the blanket off of her pajama clad body and stretches her arms high into the air with a yawn. She scans the room with her baby blue eyes as if seeing it for the first time today. She looks down at her legs and starts picking at a scab.
“Where’s Mom? I thought she said she would be back before the movie was over.” Ella is annoyed since she didn’t have instructions for what to do next.
“I dunno, can I put in another movie Ella?” Jamie pulls out movies from the DVD drawer, his Spiderman shorts reveal the top of his little butt.
“How many minutes was SpongeBob? Look at the box, Jamie, see how long it was.”
“It was…one… three… three minutes.” Jamie says proudly, his hair wild.
“One hundred and thirty-three,
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