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Order of Fear

 

Sometimes fear is all that keeps you alive.

 

Murder

A senior account, ballet dancer, and future bride, Marissa Nash likes order, and she expects all the pieces of her life to add up. Her bottom line is skewed after she discovers her fiancé has been unfaithful. When Marissa walks in to the unexpected—David dead and her dog, Halo, agitated and restless, she finds her nightmare is only beginning.

 

Passion

David's unenthused best man and traumatized former Army doctor, Justin Tanner understands that a wedding means more than a toast and a kiss. His reluctance stems from feelings that run deeper than they should for the bride. But when he finds Marissa cradling his best friend's lifeless body, can he find a way to suppress his feelings as they uncover David’s secret world?

 

Evil

The seemingly pointless murder launches Marissa and Justin into a wicked web of lies, delusion and danger at the hands of a powerful and psychotic foe. 

 

Murder, passion, evil—who will survive?

 

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Chapter One

      By the end of this day I will no longer be a bride about to marry.

      Marveling at the majestic mountain scenery, Marissa climbed aboard the hotel’s airport shuttle and sank into the only vacant seat. She glanced out at Salt Lake City’s early morning crisp blue sky, gripped the straps of her purse, and inhaled. Despite the reputation of smelly air from the bacteria decay in the Great Salt Lake, Marissa’s lungs escaped putrid intrusion. The kinetic scene—vibrant and hopeful—stood in total contrast to her mood.

     My day begins surrounded by the beauty of the Wasatch Mountains and will end in the demise of a four-year relationship.

    Calling off her wedding triggered a lengthy list of decisions and activities. Three items competed for the top spot on Marissa’s unavoidable to do list: grieving the death of her relationship, chiding her stupidity in falling for David in the first place, and finding a new place to live. Her heart rattled in response to the immense change. Home would no longer be her “can’t wait to get to” place.

     Sighing, Marissa settled her laptop bag in between her feet and tossed away thoughts of a cancelled wedding and broken engagement, just for a little longer. Instead, she considered her trip. The meeting with her firm’s newest client had gone well. As an accountant, she’d been thrilled with their prepared and organized portfolio, which spoke well for the working relationship she’d encounter with the company, Royce Electronics. After her meeting yesterday, she’d relayed her excitement to her boss, Bernie Dunbar. His faith in her ability to handle this multi million-dollar account had placed Marissa on par for partnership in the corporate accounting firm.

     She smiled. Marissa Nash, CPA and partner in the accounting firm of Van Buren and Dunbar, would be a dream realized. Perhaps there was a bright spot in her life right now.

     The driver stored the last of the luggage in the back, turned his navy Utah Jazz cap—visor portion to the back—and started the engine.

     As the bus jerked forward, Marissa’s shifted in her seat, thoughts of her life altering plans caused a wrinkle of panic. Now that her business trip had concluded she had no more excuses. She’d accepted the last minute business trip in hopes of getting a break from the wedding preparations and more importantly to think about her future. No luck forgetting the wedding plans. Constant calls from her mother wouldn’t allow for any neglect. She couldn’t blame her mother but Marissa needed this trip to come to terms with what she already knew she had to do. Measured and circumspect were great attributes for an accountant and those qualities carried over into all parts of her life. She rarely made a rash decision.

     “Who takes a business trip so close to her wedding?” her mother had complained before she left.

     A bride whose groom had other female interests, Marissa had wanted to say.

     “Excuse me.” An elderly lady sitting across from her smiled.

     Marissa turned toward the woman. “Yes?” Bright, inquisitive eyes belied a wrinkled, tanned face, her posture erect and regal.

    “You have a beautiful engagement ring. When is the wedding?” The woman nodded toward her sparkling one-carat diamond.

    “Next week.” Marissa’s ring finger began to itch, as if the circular band constricted her digit. The square-cut rock sparkled, but did nothing to calm the distress raging inside. For the first time since she’d made her decision, she considered the ramifications. The gorgeous ring would be the first of many casualties. Sadness stabbed at her heart as she stared at the piece of jewelry, which should have made her insides flutter.

     Her fiancé, David Seybold, had been ecstatic to present her with the bauble, but the proposal was a long time ago, and circumstances had changed. She spun the diamond, and the rock disappeared under her finger like the moon in an eclipse.

     “I’m in Utah to visit my first great grandchild.” The elderly woman opened her wallet, and pulled out a picture of a pink-faced baby swaddled in a yellow blanket.

     Marissa ignored the bolt of pain slashing through Marissa’s stomach. “She’s beautiful. My best friend has a six-month old. When I held him for the first time he had me hooked.”

     The woman smiled, slipping the photo back into her purse. “Babies can melt your heart in seconds. Her parents live two hours away, so I had them bring me to the hotel yesterday. I didn’t want them getting up at the crack of dawn to drive two hours, especially with a newborn.” She turned to Marissa. “You remind me of my grand niece. You both share exotic green eyes and beautiful brown hair.” She smiled. “You will make a stunning bride. Enjoy this time.”

     Marissa nodded. “Yes, ma’am.” Could strangers tell something she lacked enthusiasm for her own wedding? Turning from the woman, she extracted her phone from her purse to check the flight’s status. Perhaps bad weather back in Virginia would delay her arrival. A few seconds later, with mixed emotions, she noted the flight’s on time departure. She should be back in Virginia by early afternoon. A ripple of panic flowed through her. A delayed flight might not be such rotten luck.

     The elderly lady cleared her throat. “I’m Stella Richey, from Ohio. My daughter is always scolding me about striking up conversations with strangers but if I introduce myself we’re no longer strangers.” She smiled, her brown eyes crinkling at the corners.

     Marissa returned the smile. “Marissa Nash. I’m on my way home to Virginia.” The mention of home tugged at her heart again.

     Ten minutes later as they pulled into the airport, Marissa could still spot the mountain range in the distance, tempting her to miss her flight and hide out in a ski lodge. She sighed. No use putting off the unpleasant mission any longer.

     The driver slammed on the brakes and jumped out of his seat. He sprinted to the rear luggage area and tossed bags onto the curb.

     Marissa gathered her purse and laptop bag and made her way to the front. Cars, buses, and taxicabs mixed with people milling about or rushing inside the terminal. She rounded the back of the shuttle, holding her breath as noxious exhaust fumes puffed out. Spotting her blue hardtop bag, she pulled the luggage onto the curb.

     Mrs. Richey stood on the sidewalk, fumbling through her purse. “Where did I put that ticket?”

     In the rush of passengers scooping up their bags Mrs. Richey lost her balance, sending her purse flying. Medicine bottles, keys, a wallet, and coins scattered across the pavement.

     Marissa left her bags on the curb and rushed to help.

     “Thank you, honey.” As Marissa retrieved the errant items, Mrs. Richey tossed them into her purse.

     “You’re welcome.” Marissa returned her wallet and then bent to retrieve a medicine bottle. In her periphery, a cab pulled up to the curb several feet away.

     As Marissa stood, she spotted a blonde woman jump out of the back seat. A shiny pendant, hanging around the woman’s neck, flashed in the sun. In an instant the woman flew behind Marissa, knocking her further into the street at the same time the cab accelerated.

     The impact sent her flying. Screams from nearby people and the cab's screeching brakes registered in her mind. She crashed to the ground, her back slamming into the concrete. Pain seared through her body. Her vision narrowed and fuzzy flickers of lights sparked in her periphery, like thousands of tiny fireflies emanating their luminescent glow. As she lay on the ground, she saw the hazy fire dim to black.

Order of Fear by Lisa Caviness

Published by Dream Theory Publishing, LLC

Copyright © 2016 Lisa Caviness

All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopy.. Requests for permission to except portions of this book may be directed to the author. This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any person, living or deceased, or references to historical events or actual locations is purely coincidental and used fictitiously. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination.

ISBN 978-0-9974132-0-5

© 2015 by Dream Theory Publishing. (created with Wix.com).  All rights reserved.