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Retribution

Witness Book Two

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After confessing to the police that she witnessed a murder, college student Courtney Hartford has relocated to what she hopes is a safe place. Hanging over her head is her commitment to testify against Dylan, the gang member she witnessed killing a man, as well as Baldy, a gang member who tried to kill her to keep her from testifying.

In addition, her budding relationship with Tyler, who was beaten because of her, has been interrupted. Missing him, but worried about putting him in danger, she wars with herself over whether to convince him to move to where she is now living, or to stay far, far away as his parents advise him.

Will Courtney be able to move past the fear she’s been living with, or will the gang members track her down and silence her for good?

Scroll down to read the first chapter.

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Chapter 1

“Who was that, Courtney?” Shelby asked as I tucked my cell phone in my pocket and plopped onto my bed in our hotel room. 

It was the middle of May and we had been in St. George for two days. After starting to get a feel for the place, we’d decided on the area where we wanted to get an apartment. But with the phone call I’d just received, everything had become less certain.

“It was Detective Turner,” I said, picturing the man who had been there from the beginning of this nightmare. The man who had arranged for me and Shelby to relocate to St. George, Utah in exchange for my testimony against Dylan and Baldy.

Shelby sat on one of the two chairs in the room. “What’d he say?”

I scooted back until I was leaning against the pillows. “They told Dylan that I’m going to testify against him, that I’m going to tell the jury that I saw him…” My stomach clenched at the memory of Dylan stabbing another man right in front of me behind the fast food place where I used to work. I’d barely known Dylan, had only gone on one date with him, but there had been no mistaking that it was him I’d seen plunging a knife into another man’s chest. Especially when Dylan had pointed at me, and in a voice filled with menace, had said my name and then warned me not to tell anyone what I’d seen.

Shelby stared at me. “What did Dylan say?”

Yanked back to the present, I blinked, then said, “He pleaded no contest. I guess he worked out a deal. There won’t be a trial.”

Shelby’s mouth fell open. “No way.” Then a huge smile filled her face. “So, you don’t have to testify, right? Does that mean it’s over? We can go back to LA?”

I shook my head. “There’s more.”

The smile melted from Shelby’s mouth. “More?”

Nodding, I frowned. “Yeah. They’re still looking for Baldy. I mean, Aaron Bellingham.”

“Oh,” Shelby said with a grimace. “Right.”

My gaze flitted around the room as if I could find a safe place to hide from the creepy man who wanted me dead. The idea of him finding me terrified me. Shelby had only seen him once—and from a distance. But I had been up close and personal with Baldy several times—at the park, in my car after finals, and in my car when he and his gang buddies had blocked me in and shot at me.

A shiver tore through me at the memory of the bullets striking the ground beside me as I’d huddled beside the passenger wheel of my car only a week earlier. I’d just come from the hospital where I’d been visiting Tyler—the boy I’d been dating who had been severely beaten because I had refused to go with Baldy earlier that day. And as I’d made my way to the police station to ID Baldy, he had attacked me. If it hadn’t been for the pepper spray I’d squirted into his face, I would most likely be dead.

A fresh spasm of terror roared through me at the thought.

Shelby’s brow wrinkled in obvious concern. “Did Detective Turner say if they’re close to catching him?”

I swallowed over the fear clotted in my throat and ran my hand over the bedspread. “They have a few leads, but…” I let the sentence trail off, not wanting to give a false sense of hope that Baldy would be off the streets and out of our lives any time soon.

“What if they can’t find him?” Shelby asked, her voice dropping to a near-whisper.

I didn’t want to think about that. The man was evil personified, and the idea of him being on the loose where he could come across me, even by accident, made me want to cower in this hotel room for the rest of my life. “They’ll find him,” I said, trying to convince myself more than Shelby.

“Yeah, you’re right.” She smiled as if she believed me, but I had my doubts that he would ever be found.

“Yeah,” I murmured. I clung to the hope that they would find him. They had to. Otherwise I would never feel safe again.

* * *

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