Read Just Good Friends Online

Authors: Rosalind James

Just Good Friends

BOOK: Just Good Friends
13.75Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

 

 

 

Just Good Friends

 

By Rosalind James

 

 

 

Text copyright 2012 Rosalind James

 

All Rights Reserved

Author’s Note

The Blues and the All Blacks are actual rugby teams. I have
attempted to depict the illustrious history of the All Blacks in an accurate manner.
Sadly, however, the characters in this book exist only in my own mind, and are
not intended to resemble or represent any actual individuals, living or dead.

Table
of Contents

Table of Contents

New Zealand Map

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Epilogue

Links

Just For Now—Prologue

Just For Now—Chapter 1

Just For Now—Chapter 2

New Zealand Map
Prologue
                                               

Please, please, don’t let him get in. Don’t make me have
to do this. Please, somebody help me.

Kate Lamonica crouched under her kitchen table, the worn
yellow linoleum cold under her bare feet, and prayed. She shifted her weight,
lurched a bit to one side as her knee caught in the fabric of her fleece robe.
That wasn’t going to work. She had to be able to move. Forcing herself to move
deliberately, not to panic, she set the big knife down carefully on the seat of
the chair beside her. Pulled her right arm out of the robe. Shifted her silent
cell phone to her right hand with a quick movement, held it to her ear again.
Shrugged her left arm out and shoved the bulky robe aside. The brightly printed
red poppies on the fabric gleamed at the edge of her vision, incongruously
cheerful in the dim light. She transferred the phone back to her left hand,
picked up her knife again with the right, feeling better once it was back in
her hand. Ready to use.

She was shivering a little now, her pajamas no match for the
chill of the early February morning. Still no sound from outside, or from the
phone in her hand. She lifted it from her ear to check the display. Her call
was still connected. And she was still on hold. How could 911 put somebody on
hold?

Pick up,
she prayed. But the phone remained silent.
No competent voice offering protection. No help at all. Instead, the sounds
she’d been dreading. The rattle of the kitchen door handle, and Paul’s voice
calling to her.

“I know you’re in there, Kate. Don’t make me have to come
get you. That’s only going to make it worse for you.”

She visualized again what she would do if he broke in. She’d
wait until he was close. Then burst out from under the table in one movement,
launch herself at him, and strike. Nothing tentative. No hesitation. Because if
he made it in here, she was in real trouble. She had to take her chance. If the
police didn’t come, she was going to have to save herself.

 “I never wanted to hurt you, you know that. I loved you. But
you’ve let me down so many times. You haven’t given me any choice.”

She knew how he’d look to the arriving officers. If they
ever came. His pressed slacks and button-down shirt, every blond hair in place.
His easy smile, his plausible explanations. His insistence that she was the one
with the problem, the vendetta against him.

Silence, then a
clunk
as something heavy dropped on
the concrete slab. She could feel her heart knocking against her chest wall as
she heard a scrape, then the sound of metal on metal against the door frame. She
stared out from under the table as if she could see around the corner, through
the door. Her hand tightened around the knife as her mind went over and over
the scenario. Leap. Rush. Slash.

“911. What is your emergency?” The phone in her hand came to
life at last. She started at the sudden noise in her ear, banging her head
painfully against the bottom of the table. Juggled the phone for desperate
moments. Forced herself to answer calmly as her eyes stayed trained on a
kitchen door she couldn’t see.

“I need the police.  2111 Fifth Street. Apartment B. I have
an intruder. He’s threatened me, and he’s trying to break in now.”

“Is he on the property now?” the dispatcher asked,
maddeningly calm.


Yes.
I just told you. Her voice sounded unnaturally
high in her ears. “He’s trying to break in, through my kitchen door. It’s the
ground floor. Around the side.”

Her breath was coming in gasps now. She fought to control
it, but the fear was rising into panic now. “Are you sending them? Are they
coming?”

“Don’t worry, ma’am,” the calm voice reassured. “I’ve
dispatched a unit. Stay on the line with me. Don’t hang up.”

 Finally, the blessed sound of a siren in the distance. And
Paul’s voice through the door again.

“You shouldn’t have called them. You’ve only made it harder
for yourself. Because I’ll be coming back for you. You can try to run, but you
know that I’ll find you in the end. There’s nowhere you can hide that I won’t
find you.”

She remained in her painful crouch, kept her grip on her knife
and her phone, unable to trust that he’d really left. She had to be ready. Just
in case. When she finally heard the knock, a deep voice reassuringly unlike
Paul’s identifying himself, it was a struggle to pull herself out from under
the table. Her limbs were so stiff with tension and fright that she could
barely uncoil them, and she was shaking with the aftereffects of adrenaline.

By the time the sympathetic officers had walked her to her
car, checked the back seat, and watched her lock her doors, she was shaking
again, but with fury as well as fear now. She followed their car to the
station, then parked in front of the building and tried to decide what to do. She
couldn’t afford the luxury of denial anymore. Paul would be back. He might even
be at her apartment again by now, waiting for her. She’d been lucky this time. But
he only had to get lucky once. And meanwhile, she’d be living every day in
fear. Moving from friend to friend, sleeping on couches, looking over her
shoulder.   

Screw this, she thought fiercely. She was done. Whatever it
took, however much it cost her, she was getting out of this. Running somewhere
he couldn’t find her. To some distant place where she could live her life normally
again. In peace.

Chapter 1

The line for Passport Control snaked and twisted, tired
passengers waiting obediently, shuffling forward one slow foot at a time. Kate
felt disoriented and dizzy with fatigue. Maybe it was the overnight flight, or
the speed of the decisions she’d made over the past week, but her mind seemed
to be lagging several steps behind reality right now. It kept drifting off,
forcing her to bring it back again. To remind herself where she was, what she
was doing.

“You’re going
where?”
her father had demanded a few
days earlier, arriving home to find her packing.

“New Zealand,” she repeated patiently. “I’ve bought my
ticket, and I leave the day after tomorrow.”

“Surely this can’t be necessary,” her mother objected. “Couldn’t
you find a new job and a new place to live, maybe in a different city? Or even
stay here with us for a while. You know how happy we’d be to have you, to know
you were safe.”

“That’s just it, though,” Kate tried to explain. “I don’t
think I would be safe, or that you would be either. It’s only a matter of time
before Paul turns up here looking for me. I hate knowing I’m putting you at
risk, even being here a few days. I wouldn’t have come at all if I’d known where
else to go.”

“I hope he does turn up,” her father said grimly. “I’d know
how to deal with him.”

“You can’t sit on the porch with a shotgun on your lap twenty-four
hours a day, Dad,” Kate sighed. “I know you want to protect me, but it isn’t possible.
Not for more than a couple days. Which is all that I’m staying.”

“Besides,” she said, sitting down wearily on the familiar,
narrow bed of her childhood and hugging an embroidered cushion to her for comfort,
“I can’t live like this anymore. Maybe you’re right. Maybe I could move to a
new state, or even someplace else in California, and this would be over. Maybe
he wouldn’t find me. Who knows, maybe he’d even give up. But I don’t think so.
Stalkers are obsessive. It’s what they do. Everything he’s said, everything
I’ve learned tells me I’m in danger. And I can’t live like this anymore,” she
said again, tears filling her eyes. “I just can’t. It’s too much.”

Her mother sat down next to her and put an arm around her
shoulders. “You need to do whatever it is that’s going to keep you safe. And
make you feel safe, too. You know we want what’s best for you. And if that
means moving to New Zealand, well, that’s the way it is. We’ll help any way we
can.”

“Thanks, Mom.” Kate blinked the tears away and gave her
mother a fierce hug. “You guys are the best. Love you so much.”

“Who is this Hannah, though, in New Zealand?” her father
persisted. “Is she somebody who can help you once you’re there? She doesn’t
sound like she’s been in the country all that long herself.”

“Only a couple years,” Kate agreed. “She was a work friend. Before
she moved to New Zealand, of course. Even though it’s been a while, she offered
to help right away when I called. She seems pretty confident that she and her
husband can help me find a job. He’s a big deal over there, apparently. A rugby
player.”

“How’s a rugby player going to help you find a job as an
accountant?” her father objected.

“I’m not quite sure myself, to tell you the truth,” Kate
admitted. “But Hannah was positive. It seemed like my best bet, and I’m going
to take it.”

“And they’ll put you up for a few days when you arrive?” her
mother asked. “I don’t like to think of you getting to a strange country and
being on your own.”

“They do speak English, you know, Mom. I’ll be fine. Better
off than I am here, that’s for sure. Who knows, it might even be fun.”

The brave words seemed foolish now, in the echoing, alien
territory of the arrivals hall. Her international travel experience was limited
to a single trip to Canada. What was she doing here? Reaching the front of the
line at last, she handed her passport with its two lonely stamps to an
immigration officer.

 “Working holiday visa,” he commented. “What are you
planning to do whilst you’re here?”

“Accounting, I hope,” she told him.

He raised his eyebrows. “That’s one I don’t hear every day,
have to say. Beats kiwifruit picking, I’m sure.” He stamped her passport firmly
and handed it back to her. “Best of luck to you. And welcome to New Zealand.”

By the time she had collected the two suitcases that
contained all she had brought with her from her old life and made her way through
various stops to the arrivals area, Kate was overwhelmed. The huge space, the
crowds, the instructions given in a clipped accent barely intelligible in her
exhausted state had all taken their toll. When she pushed her luggage cart through
the automatic doors and saw Hannah waiting, she couldn’t help the tears that
spilled over as her friend folded her into welcoming arms.

“Oh, sweetie. What a tough time you’ve had. I’m so glad
you’re here.” Hannah pulled a Kleenex out of her purse and handed it to Kate as
she continued to cry. “Come on,” she urged. “We’ll get you a coffee, and then
we’ll take you home. You’re going to feel so much better after a shower, I
promise.”

Kate wiped her eyes. “Sorry. I’m better now. What a first
impression.” She reached out to shake hands with the big man standing beside
her friend. “Hi. You must be Drew. It’s so good of you to agree to help me like
this. You don’t even know me, and here I am intruding on your life. I can’t
tell you how much I appreciate it.”

“No worries.” He smiled down at her easily. “We invited you,
didn’t we. Tell you the truth, you’re doing me a favor as well. I’m off to Safa
tomorrow for a couple weeks. I’m glad you’ll be here with Hannah. I wasn’t
happy about leaving her alone that long.”

BOOK: Just Good Friends
13.75Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Small Damages by Beth Kephart
Airframe by Michael Crichton
Cast in Flame by Michelle Sagara
Tale of Benjamin Bunny by Potter, Beatrix
Speak to the Wind by Engels, Mary Tate
Chance Harbor by Holly Robinson
The Soldier's Bride by Christensen, Rachelle J.