Retribution by David E Greske by David E Greske - Read Online

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Summary

Murder, madness, and revenge.Meagan Connors is young and beautiful, but her dreams are driving her mad. She seeks the help of psychologist Donovan Grey, and he begins to unlock the secrets to Meagan's troubled past. But Dr. Grey develops a secret of his own—he's falling in love with his patient.Paul Connors is Meagan's much older husband. Victim of an abusive childhood and haunted by horrid images of his dead mother, he's begun the slow spiral into insanity. At his mother's insistence he focuses his madness on his wife and takes her to the old deserted park, where the past and present collide and Meagan's dreams become her worst nightmares.And then there's Marlene. Genre: Horror / Suspense Thriller
Published: Whiskey Creek Press on
ISBN: 9781603133524
List price: $3.99
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Retribution - David E Greske

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favorite.

Prologue

Marlene White was straightening her skirt with the palms of her hands when the nurse called her from the waiting room and escorted her into an examination cubicle.

The doctor will be with you in a minute, the nurse said, then turned and left the room.

Marlene sat herself down in the uncomfortable chair in the corner and dropped her hands into her lap. She picked at her cuticles, folding back the tiny sliver of skin with the tips of her fingers. She bit her lower lip. How long has it been two months? Three? She couldn’t really remember, but it had been too long. Something was wrong and deep in her gut she knew what it was.

Doctor Samuels walked into the room, a cream-colored folder tucked under his arm. He gave Marlene a warm smile and sat in the chair next to her. He opened the folder and pulled out a single sheet of white paper.

Your test results are back, he said.

Suddenly, Marlene became very aware of the things around her. She heard the steady whirl of the air-conditioner pound inside her head. Her nostrils flared, sucking in the bitter smell of hospital antiseptic and stale stench of old urine. The voices of those still in the waiting room echoed between her ears.

And? She moved her hand to her belly.

And they’re positive. Congratulations, you’re going to have a baby.

Marlene slumped in her chair. Pregnant. She was only with him once. He was only seventeen. He was still in high school.

But we used protection, Marlene said. She opened her purse and took out a pack of Kool Lights.

The doctor sighed. Sometimes protection doesn’t always work. Surely, you know that, Miss White. And you’re going to have to quit these. The doctor took the pack of cigarettes and tossed them in the trash can. Smoking’s bad for the baby.

Marlene nodded and looked at the doctor with heavy, watery eyes. She wanted to burst into tears. You’re sure there isn’t a mistake? You’re positive you don’t have the wrong file?

No mistake at all. I’d say you’re four to six weeks along.

A silence fell over the office that was so heavy Marlene heard the big clock hanging above the reception desk click off another minute.

Are you all right, Marlene? You look pale.

I’m fine, doctor. Just a little shocked.

"You are going to tell the father, aren’t you? He does have the right to know."

Yes, Marlene whispered, I suppose I must.

Part 1

Recognition

Chapter 1

Hand in hand they strolled down the dirt path meandering through the pines and weeping willows. The last days of summer had been swallowed by autumn and the air hinted at the approaching winter. The couple wandered past the windmill, its four latticed blades creaking over lazily in the afternoon breeze.

I’m sorry, the woman said.

Her companion only grunted.

Cabins were scattered throughout the park. Children played in front of them. Adults sat on redwood decks sipping iced teas or drinking cocktails. The wind soughed through the trees.

During the summer months, hordes of travelers vacationed at Deer Park. But as winter closed in on their dreamland the park became less populated and in another month it would be as deserted as an Arizona ghost town.

They walked past the last cabin, strayed from the marked path, and shuffled through a meadow where the dried, brown grass brushed their ankles. She tried to take the boy’s hand—he pulled away from her.

We need to talk about this, she said.

There’s nothing to talk about, the companion responded. There was an edge to his voice that frightened the woman.

They headed toward the lake at the northeast corner of the park. Here there were animals locked in cages far too small. A deer, trapped in a pen with a metal floor, cowered as they passed. A black bear slept on a bed of its filth as its stubby tail tried to swat the flies buzzing around its hind quarters. Smaller cages rested on rotten planks above the deer and bear. These housed rabbits and beavers and badgers. The woman looked into the rabbits’ eyes and saw pain and misery staring back at her.

Poor things, she whispered.

The boy only sneered.

Fifty feet to the left of the cages was a small tin shed. A sign written in red paint against a white background hung above the door. It read:

FEED THE ANIMALS—25 CENTS

HOURS OF OPERATION:

MONDAY THRU SATURDAY—9AM TO 5:30PM

CLOSED SUNDAY

A bright, silvery padlock held the door closed.

They passed the pathetic zoo, the pain of the suffering animals locked in her heart, and journeyed across a wooden bridge spanning the small, man-made river which flowed into another natural lake. Halfway across the bridge they stopped, gazed over the railing, and stared at their reflections.

The water was so clear, so cold, and so very deep.

The woman turned her head upward and gazed at her partner. She couldn’t see his face, but could see his eyes. They were as dark and as cold as the water.

Then there was darkness and falling...falling...falling...

* * * *

Meagan Connors woke. She was exhausted. The back of her blouse was soaked with sweat. Her brown hair was plastered to her forehead in dark, wet ringlets. She ran her tongue across her dry lips. She wanted a drink of water.

The face in front of her came into focus and the sound of traffic began to filter through the haze.

So, what happened this time? Meagan asked as she peeled her upper legs from the leather chair. She pushed her damp hair away from her forehead.

Well, we got you to the bridge this time, Doctor Grey said, looking up from his clipboard.

Six months ago, Meagan Connors started having dreams. Bad dreams. Nightmares, in fact. She thought they’d go away in time. But they didn’t. They just got worse. Every night was haunted by horrifying visions, but she remembered none of it in the morning. She woke exhausted instead of refreshed and she carried with her an uncomfortable feeling of dread throughout the day.

She’d been to countless doctors with her problem, and the diagnoses ranged from insomnia to stress. There was nothing physically wrong with her—she just needed to learn to manage her life. And then a doctor suggested she see a psychiatrist.

Great, she thought, a shrink. Now I’m going to spend the rest of my life spilling my guts to some fat, little man to see if there’s some tragic childhood trauma held prisoner in the dark recesses of my mind.

But she had to admit, talking to someone really did help. The only problem was all of her talking was done under hypnosis and she never remembered any of it. As far as Doctor Grey being a fat little man, she couldn’t have been more wrong. The doctor was rather attractive in a somewhat doctorish kind of way. He had a square solid jaw and a thick head of dark hair. A brilliant sparkle twinkling from his steely eyes made her swoon. If she was single and shopping around for a man, she wouldn’t mind his shoes parked under her bed.

Is that good? Getting to the bridge, I mean, Meagan asked.

It’s progress, the doctor replied, and progress is good.

Meagan sighed. Three times a week for the past two months all she’d ever heard was: It’s progress. At a hundred and fifty dollars for a forty-five minute session she expected a bit more than just progress.

I know you’re disappointed, Meagan, but these things take time. Lots of time. It isn’t easy to unlock the secrets in a person’s mind, especially when I’m not quite sure what I should be looking for. Sometimes things like this can take years.

Years.

Meagan cringed. She couldn’t imagine coming to this office for that long. She wanted—no, she needed—a breakthrough soon.

So, do you have any idea what’s happening? Meagan asked. She shifted in her chair and tugged at her blouse.

Oh, I have ideas.

Yeah? She scooted herself forward and put her elbows on her knees. Care to share?

I’m afraid it’s a little too soon to say for sure.

Meagan puffed. A whistle of frustration sang through her nostrils. She’d seen right through the doctor’s excuse. He didn’t have an idea in Hades what was wrong.

Doctor Grey glanced at the clock on his desk. The minute hand clicked a quarter past the hour.

I’m afraid your time is up for the day, he told Meagan as he lifted himself from the chair. He walked across the floor and dropped the plastic cup into the trash can next to his desk.

Meagan, already up from her chair, straightened her skirt with the palms of her hands.

Doctor Grey tossed the clipboard and pen on the desk and turned around. So, I’ll see you again on Tuesday.

Yes, Tuesday, Meagan said. She was halfway to the door when she turned. When you find out what’s wrong...

When I find out what’s wrong, you’ll be the first to know.

Thank you.

Of course, Meagan, the doctor said and smiled.

Meagan thought it was the kindest, warmest smile she’d seen in a very long time.

* * * *

Meagan stopped at the supermarket on her way back from the doctor’s office. She picked up a loaf of wheat bread, a half gallon of milk, a dozen eggs, and something that would be quick and easy for dinner. At the last minute, while she was in the check-out lane, she asked the clerk to toss in a pack of Kool Lights. She put the cigarettes in her purse where she would find them two days later, unaware she’d bought them at all.

* * * *

Donovan Grey pulled Meagan’s file from the second drawer of the cabinet, dropped himself into the chair behind his desk, and opened it. He flipped through the piles of notes he’d scribbled during their sessions, stopping occasionally to read a few of them.

It was fascinating. He could remember only one other case so similar to Meagan’s, and that one he read about in an article published in Psychology Today a dozen years ago while attending the university. He’d been so intrigued by the story he built his entire doctorate around the findings. The research almost made him a believer—almost, but not quite. Not until Meagan. Could it be possible...

Donovan Grey closed the folder and slid it across his desk. He closed his eyes and thought about Meagan.

Chapter 2

Meagan Connors drove across the high-bridge and entered Wisconsin. The turf along the interstate had begun to brown as summer gave way to autumn. In a few weeks the sumac-lined banks would turn a brilliant red before the wilted leaves dropped to the ground. But there were still a few weeks of good weather left before winter’s bitter bite ate all traces of life from the countryside.

She turned onto the cloverleaf winding around the marina and past the Dairy Queen. At the D.Q. she turned right and drove up the street known as Coulee Road. Here grand older homes stood proudly beside their newer counterparts on a gentle slope. Some of these homes had backyard swimming pools. Some had exotic gardens enclosed in glass greenhouses and sometimes when the greenhouses’ doors were open and the wind blew from the right direction the sweet fragrance of the flowers could be smelled all the way downtown.

Meagan passed this spectacular parade of homes and drove through the wrought iron gate at the top of Coulee Hill. Meagan’s home stood beyond the gate.

A driveway of white cobblestone serpentined around the stone house and three large windows in the front of the structure gave an unobstructed, panoramic view of the town and the river below.

There were acres of natural woodlands in the rear of the estate and when Meagan sat at her kitchen table enjoying her morning coffee, the peaceful view took away her troubles, even if it was only for a little while.

The south courtyard was Meagan’s playground. Plants and flowers of all kinds and colors flourished in the afternoon sun. She trimmed the hedges weekly as well as the English Ivy bordering the stone pathways. A free-form granite fountain bubbled in the center of the garden and at night it was illuminated by colored floodlights. These lights cast a warm glow not only just over the garden, but across the entire estate. Two wings stretched out from the main body of the house and appeared to embrace the garden, much like a mother might embrace her child.

Shortly after her father died, Meagan had closed the west wing of the house to conserve heating and cooling costs. The kids in town said Mrs. Connors closed that portion of the house because it was haunted and if you were bad the ghost who lived there would creep into your bedroom at night and eat you. When Meagan found out about the children’s boogeyman story she played along with them by opening up the west wing and turning on a single light every Halloween. The older children thought it was grand fun to see the eerie yellow glow penetrate the special night as they traveled from house to house, but the younger ones weren’t quite so sure. Maybe Mrs. Connors was a witch, too.

Throughout the years Meagan had dozens of offers from developers from around the country to buy the estate. Even a local company had put in a bid. They were so convinced Meagan would accept the offer they even had a marketing ploy set into place—‘Riverside Rentals–luxury living without the price’. But Meagan turned down all the offers. How could she sell something her father had worked so hard for all his life, just so some arrogant conglomerate could rip it down and build a dozen paper-thin-walled cracker boxes they call apartments? She couldn’t. She wouldn’t. The estate and all its fortunes was the last legacy of her father and she never intended to give it up.

She pulled the silver Buick up to the garage, turned off the ignition, and slumped in the seat. She raised her hand to the left side of her face and rubbed her temple with her fingertips. The first tingling of a headache had begun and the way it felt, she knew it was going to be a whopper.

The last person Meagan expected to see when she walked through the door and into the kitchen was Paul. But the surprise wasn’t an unpleasant one.

He was in the living room, snoozing on the sofa. His socked feet dangled over one of the arms. There was an open can of Pepsi holding down a coaster on the coffee table in front of the couch. The television was on and Meagan heard murmurs of a soap opera through the speakers. According to the conversation, there had just been a cave-in and someone was trapped inside.

* * * *

When Paul heard Meagan toss her purse and keys on the kitchen table, he woke and sat up. He rubbed his eyes with the palms of his hands and offered Meagan a smile. He felt a little embarrassed being caught watching the afternoon drama. So, what did Doctor Shrinkenstein say? he asked, reaching for the can of soda.

I wish you wouldn’t call him that, Meagan said. He has a name.

I’m sorry, Paul said and took a swallow of soda. I was just kidding.

I know, Meagan said and rubbed the side of her head.

Paul stood and moved around the sofa. He walked into the kitchen, wrapped his arms around his wife’s waist, and ran his fingers through her hair. She said it was strawberry blond, but he insisted it was good old red, just like his mother’s. A red that was so brilliant it reminded him of the fiery afternoon sun.

Have I told you how much I love you, lady? Paul said as he tilted Meagan’s head upward. He looked into her eyes. He could drown in those emerald seas.

Meagan smiled. I’m sorry I snapped.

That’s okay, Paul gave her a smile, what did the doctor say?

The same thing he always says. Meagan sighed.

She turned, braced herself against the sink and by the movement of her shoulders, Paul knew she was crying.

It’s all right. Paul held her tighter and kissed the nape of her neck. I’m here. I’ll always be here for you.

Meagan dried her eyes with the dishtowel that hung on the refrigerator’s door. What would I do without you?

Oh, you’d survive. It’s me that’d be lost. Paul kissed the top of her head and she winced. Another headache?

Meagan nodded.

What you need is a nap.

But, Paul, it’s the middle of the afternoon.

But I insist. And I guarantee you’ll feel a hundred percent better when you wake up.

So, taking Meagan by the arm, he led her across the living room and upstairs to the bedroom. There he gave her two aspirins and tucked her under the comforter. He kissed her forehead.

Sleep tight, he said.

All the naysayers said their love wouldn’t last. They’d all been wrong.

* * * *

As a ritual of summer most towns held some type of celebration. The neighboring river town of Prescott celebrated Prescott Daze. The university community of River Falls enjoyed River Falls Days. Somerset had UFO Days—oddly, the people of this community were convinced aliens from some distant planet were going to visit their town. The townspeople had even built a landing pad in some farmer’s cornfield. Why aliens, who according to the residents were of superior intelligence, would choose to land in some goat-herding cow-town