Only the Brave - Mel Sherratt

ALSO BY MEL SHERRATT

Taunting the Dead

Follow the Leader

Watching over You

Somewhere to Hide

Behind a Closed Door

Fighting for Survival

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

Text 2015 Mel Sherratt

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.

Published by Thomas & Mercer, Seattle

apub

Amazon, the Amazon logo, and Thomas & Mercer are trademarks of Amazon , Inc., or its affiliates.

str2-13: 978-1477830628

str2-10: 1477830626

Cover design by bürosüdo München, buerosued.de

Library of Congress Control Number: 2014959844

For Talli Roland, for showing me the way.

Contents

January 31, 2015

February 5, 2015, 3.00 A.M.

3.20 A.M.

3.30 A.M.

6.00 A.M.

6.15 A.M.

7.00 A.M.

7.30 A.M.

7.50 A.M.

8.15 A.M.

9.00 A.M.

9.20 A.M.

9.30 A.M.

9.45 A.M.

10.00 A.M.

10.15 A.M.

10.30 A.M.

10.45 A.M.

11.30 A.M.

12.00 P.M.

12.15 P.M.

12.30 P.M.

12.45 P.M.

1.00 P.M.

1.30 P.M.

2.00 P.M.

2.30 P.M.

3.00 P.M.

3.45 P.M.

4.15 P.M.

5.00 P.M.

5.30 P.M.

5.45 P.M.

6.00 P.M.

6.30 P.M.

6.45 P.M.

8.00 P.M.

8.15 P.M.

8.30 P.M.

8.40 P.M.

9.00 P.M.

9.10 P.M.

9.30 P.M.

9.40 P.M.

10.00 P.M.

10.10 P.M.

11.00 P.M.

11.30 P.M.

11.45 P.M.

February 6, 2015, 12.30 A.M.

2.00 A.M.

2.30 A.M.

5.30 A.M.

6.30 A.M.

7.00 A.M.

8.00 A.M.

8.15 A.M.

9.00 A.M.

10.30 A.M.

11.45 A.M.

12.30 P.M.

1.00 P.M.

1.30 P.M.

1.45 P.M.

2.30 P.M.

3.00 P.M.

3.30 P.M.

3.45 P.M.

4.00 P.M.

4.20 P.M.

4.35 P.M.

4.45 P.M.

4.55 P.M.

5.00 P.M.

February 7, 2015, 8.30 A.M.

Epilogue

Acknowledgements

About the Author

January 31, 2015

Allie Shenton blinked away tears. Her long hair was scraped back in a ponytail, her pretty face scrubbed clean of makeup. She stared at her sister lying in the hospital bed. Karen had been there for two weeks now. It had been touch and go at first, and even though she was stable, she still wasn’t breathing for herself. She was in an induced coma. Only time would tell if she was ever going to become strong enough to fend for herself again, and it was wearing Allie and her husband, Mark, down.

Allie had just solved her most recent murder case when she’d received a phone call from the doctor at Riverdale Residential Home. Her sister, Karen, had been a resident there ever since being attacked seventeen years ago. She’d been ill for a few weeks before she’d finally suffered another brain haemorrhage.

Since January 16, Allie had been on compassionate leave, as well as taking all the annual holiday entitlement she could have, but she was running out of days. More than that, she was wracked with guilt because she was desperate to get back to routine, cooking meals, paying the bills, day-to-day normality. Living. She hated herself for even thinking like that, but no matter how much she tried to block it out, a small part of her mind betrayed her. Everything had been taken from Karen; there was so much that they had both missed out on. It just didn’t seem fair.

With a breaking heart, she looked at her sister, knowing that Karen might not survive for another month, another week, another day even. Allie couldn’t begin to think what life would be like without her.

The door opened. The nurse who entered was almost as familiar to her as every line on her sister’s face. Marissa – a young woman in her twenties, small but heavily built, a mop of blonde curly hair kept out of the way with the help of a large blue clip. Allie had never seen her without a smile, never heard less than a kind word. It occurred to her, as she looked at Marissa, that just as her own job in the police force was suited only to some, the same could be said about health professionals. A certain type of demeanour was required to walk the thin line between the grittiness of life and the harshness of death.

‘Hello, Allie. How are you today?’ Marissa asked.

‘I’m good, thanks.’ Allie let out a huge sigh. ‘How about you? Shaken off that cold yet?’

‘For now. That’s the trouble with working in an environment like this. There’s always something to catch. Better than the Norovirus, though.’ Marissa smiled. ‘I have something for you. It must have been left on the nurses’ station.’

Allie frowned. ‘Do you know who by?’

‘Sorry, no. I’ve only just spotted it. Strange it’s addressed to you, though.’

Marissa handed her a long white box. Tied around it was a red ribbon, a large bow in the centre of the lid. Allie froze as a feeling of déjà vu engulfed her, a sense of fear rippling through her veins. She remembered the moment three years ago when a similar packet had been laid in her hands. She pushed the thought to one