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191 pages
3 hours
Apr 15, 2019


When former Navy Seal Michael Kent's fiancée was shot and killed while working at her job at a local law firm, he felt like his entire world had been ripped out from under him. Despite the time that passed, Michael was never able to move forward, mainly because he felt like there was something more behind her murder than everyone was saying. 

Regardless of the refusal of the cops to re-open her case, and her family's insistence that he leave it alone, Michael decides to open his own personal investigation, motivated by the death of another employee from the same company. The deeper he digs, the more questions arise, and the more enemies he makes. Will he be able to solve the case, or will his investigation only lead to more bloodshed and hurt? 

Apr 15, 2019

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Legat de Unforgiven

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Unforgiven - Stacey Fields


Stacey Fields



Chapter 1: September 17th

The 17th of September, for most, was just another day; but for Michael Kent, it marked the eight-month anniversary of his fiancée's death. He started his day the same way he started the 17th day of the previous seven months—with a shot of Jameson. He put the bottle next to the bed the night before, knowing it would be the first thing he looked for when he woke up.

Still wiping the sleep from his eyes, he paced slowly across the sparsely furnished bedroom, bottle in hand. The room was meant to be theirs. The deal on the house closed only a few weeks before her death; it wasn't until a month later that he got the keys. He had already sold his small, studio apartment, so he had no option but to move in. He never bothered to decorate or furnish it. He simply moved the few objects that he had from his previous place.

Rachel was the homemaker. She talked for years of owning a place together in a quaint neighborhood outside of the city. They decided to wait until she got officially hired as a paralegal, though, so she could supplement the small minimum wage check he earned and monthly stipend he received for being honorably discharged after twelve years of service in the Navy.

He could still hear her squealing with excitement as she came running up to him after her interview with Hamilton & Lewis: Partners at Law. She was sure she had the job; she knew it was hers. Only a few days later she got the phone call that would forever change her life—and his.

She had only been working at the firm for a few weeks and was still eager to impress her boss. The night it happened, she called Michael to tell him that she was going to be working late. Hamilton had given her a heavy caseload to work through, and she wanted to have everything done before the weekend—they were planning a trip to the lake to meet up with some friends. Michael could repeat the conversation word for word.

He has you working too much. Just tell him to shove it, come over, and we'll watch a movie and order a pizza.

Michael! she exclaimed, giggling. I have to do this. If I get on his good side... who knows? Maybe I'll even be put on partner track one day.

That would be pretty sexy, he said smiling. My wife, the big shot lawyer.

That's the dream, she replied. Save me a piece of pizza, okay?

What will you give me for it?

Anything you want, she said flirtatiously.

You got it then. I love you.

I love you too, sugar.

She never came home, though. That night, a low-rate criminal broke into the office. Hamilton & Lewis was representing a client who was pressing some very hefty charges against the man. He was hoping to destroy whatever evidence the law firm had collected against him. That's when he found Rachel sitting at her desk, pouring herself completely into her work like she always did. She probably didn't even notice he had entered the building.

Police arrived on the scene not long after, responding to a call from a woman who lived across the street, reporting that she had heard gunshots fired. Rachel was found dead upon arrival. She was shot three times—twice in the chest, and once in the head.

Michael made his way to the bathroom, taking another pull from the bottle of Jameson as he climbed into the shower. He left the water on cold, hoping the chilling sensation would somehow numb his pain. He stood, letting the water wash over his face, taking with it the tears as they flowed from his eyes. It had been eight months, but for Michael, it still felt like it happened just yesterday. Some days the realization of her absence was so strong he found it hard to get out of bed.

The only hope for solace he had was that the police had caught her killer just three days after the shooting. An anonymous tip led them right to him. They found the gun used in the shooting in the top drawer of his nightstand, and he confessed the moment they started to question him. He was currently sitting in a cell, awaiting trial, and from what the cops told Michael, he was planning on pleading guilty.

Still, something inside Michael told him that the truth behind Rachel's death would never be fully discovered. It was too easy; the suspect gave up too quickly. Something didn't feel right—about the confession, the motivation, the entire thing. He tried to tell the cops; he tried to convince them to re-open the case, to look at things deeper, but they refused.

Shutting off the water and wrapping a towel around his waist, Michael stepped out onto the cold tile floor; he never got a rug for the bathroom. Reaching for the jeans and t-shirt he had worn the day before, he moved from the bathroom to the kitchen. He only had fifteen minutes until Jason, Rachel's younger brother, would be there.

He found a glass and poured himself another shot holding it up to examine it. The only time he drank whiskey was on the mornings of the 17th. Rachel loved whiskey—something he found incredibly sexy about her. He always preferred a cold beer, but not her. It seemed only fitting that he drank a shot to her, in her memory, on the anniversary of her death.

It never helped to ease his pain, though. He knew that nothing ever would. Nothing would be able to push the feeling of emptiness from him, give him some sort of relief from the dizzying feeling that overcame him every month when Jason took him to the cemetery.

Michael threw back the shot quickly, slamming the glass down on the table. He ran his hands through his long, shaggy blond hair. Until eight months ago, he had always kept it shaved, a habit he picked up from his time in the service. But appearances didn't matter to Michael anymore; nothing mattered to Michael anymore.

Pushing the chair out quickly he walked over to the large bay window in the sitting room attached to the kitchen. The walls of the house were all still white—blank. The only furniture in the room was a beaten-up old couch and a small wooden coffee table. Rachel's favorite part of the house was the fireplace in that room. Made with large river rock, it reached from the carpeted floor, all the way up to the twenty-foot high ceiling, and had a large wooden mantle-piece that was once meant to display wedding pictures and family portraits, but now remained as bare as the rest of the house.

He must have lost track of time because the next thing he heard was the chime of the doorbell ring down the hallway. He didn't turn to address Jason when he heard the door open and close, and his footsteps echo through the empty house. Michael, he greeted him when he walked into the room.

Hey, Jason, he replied, keeping his gaze fixed out the window. The sky was dark, even though the sun had been up for hours. It was drizzling softly, and the drops of water ran down the glass, leaving trails of tears as they fell.

You ready? Jason asked.

As ready as I always am. Michael finally turned to face him. He looked a lot like Rachel, with light brown hair, big green eyes, and a thin face with small lips and a slender nose. Will your parents be joining us today? For the last two months, Rachel's parents stopped coming along to the cemetery. They still visited her, but not in a set timeline like Michael did. They would go see her on a sunny Wednesday afternoon, or a dreary Sunday morning. They would bring her flowers, and talk to her.

Michael never brought flowers. Rachel hated flowers. And he only visited on the 17th, never any other day. His grief was still a ritual; he was afraid to let go of the routine—the allotted moments and days he let himself miss her. The other days, when he felt himself becoming overwhelmed by sadness, he forced himself to push the feelings from his mind, knowing that once again the 17th would come, and he could release them again.

They went yesterday, Jason explained. They want to see you, though. They thought it would be nice if you came over for dinner. It's been awhile since you've come by.

That's nice of them, Michael replied, walking across the room and heading for the front door. I'll call them and we can set something up.

Jason followed him out the front door. They were hoping you could come by tonight, he added.

I don't know... Michael said hesitantly. He stood next to the door of Jason's green sedan, waiting for him to unlock it.

Come on, Michael. It'll be good for you. We're all worried about you.

When he heard the soft click that let him know his door was unlocked, Michael pulled it open without replying. They drove in silence. It took about twenty minutes to get from the house to the cemetery, where Rachel was laid to rest. When he stepped out of the car, the damp autumn air slapped him in the face, giving him the sensation that it was weighing him down. It wasn't the air or the humidity—it was him; he felt heavy. He clenched his fists and began the next step in his grieving routine. Every month it was the same thing—shuffle forward about twenty feet, stop, wait, cry, wait some more, then shuffle forward again, repeating the entire process until reaching the tombstone that had her name written across it.

His friends and family, like Rachel's family, worried about him. They had all been able to move forward, more or less. They had adjusted their life, gone through their process of grief, and while they still missed her, they were able to function, at least to a more successful degree than he was.

He had a job before. Once he got out of the Navy, a year before Rachel's death, he started working for a small, local mechanic. He really enjoyed his job; he liked working with his hands. It wasn't high-stress, and physical exhaustion like his time in the Seals. It was simple, and he liked that. After serving three deployments in the Middle East, all he wanted was simple. He wanted to propose to the girl of his dreams, his girlfriend of more than three years, start a family, and settle down. The job at the mechanics seemed to fit perfectly into that equation.

When Rachel died, however, he stopped going to work. His boss told him to take some time off, which Michael did without question. Now, he was living off the small, government-issued check he received monthly. It barely covered his expenses, but he just didn't care. These were the kind of things that worried people—the things that caused his mother to call him every two days, and his friends to drop by uninvited with bags of groceries.

Jason walked ahead, letting Michael go through his process. When he finally reached her grave, Jason turned, tears in his eyes, patted him on the shoulder and walked back to the car.

Hey, you, Michael said quietly when Jason was out of earshot. He knelt down and ran his hand on the cold, gray stone. He traced the outline of her name. I still really miss you, Rachel. I know it's supposed to be getting better, but it's not, his tone was quiet and hushed. I started running again, and going to the gym—just something to get out of the house, you know? And on Tuesdays, I go to the bar with Eric to have a few drinks and shoot some pool. He plopped himself down onto the wet grass. But, my life just feels so empty still; the house feels empty; I feel empty. I miss your smile, your touch, the way you would roll your eyes at me, and punch me on the shoulder when I made some smart-ass comment about your cooking. Hell, I miss your cooking. The tears began to flow more freely from his eyes, causing her name in front of him to blur. Rachel, he said softly. I don't know how to continue without you. You were supposed to be my wife; we were going to start a family together. Everything I've spent the last four years preparing for was all based on you. I don't know what to do now; I don't know what to do next. He shifted his weight, leaning forward to touch the stone again. I'm still so angry. It's not fair; it's not right. I told you to come home, Rachel! I told you to come home! Why didn't you... his voice cracked again, and he couldn't continue.

He buried his face in his hands. He had also let his beard grow out, and now it tickled at his palms. He could only imagine how pathetic he looked—a grown man, with a large, muscular frame, broad shoulders, disheveled hair, and old, stained clothes, sitting in the grass, crying like a baby. All through his life, Michael was never one for outward expressions of emotions. He tied his physical strength to his emotional. Real men don't cry was what his dad had always told him. But when he sat shoulder to shoulder with his parents at her funeral, his dad just wrapped his arm around Michael's shoulders, and pulled him close to comfort him. It's okay to cry, son, he whispered in his ear. For this, it's necessary to cry.

When he returned to the car, Jason was on the phone. Alright, mom. I'll tell him. Yes, he held his hand up apologetically as he continued speaking. Yes, mom, I know. I'll make sure he knows.

What was that about? Michael asked when Jason hung up the phone and pulled the car out of the parking lot.

My mom said dinner tonight is at 6:30. She won't accept ‘no’ for an answer.

Guess I have no choice, then, Michael replied.

There's something else, Jason said hesitantly. My parents, they want to talk to you about something... his voice trailed off.

What is it?

Rachel's apartment, Jason explained. They want to sell it.

Already? Michael shook his head violently. No, it's too soon!

It's been eight months. They can't afford it anymore, Jason explained.

I'll pay for it.

With what money? Michael, you haven't had a job for over six months. Your savings is almost completely depleted.

I'll get a job.

"It's happening, Michael, at the end of the month. They've already hired a realtor. They wanted me to tell you that they've already been there a handful of times. They've taken a few odds and ends, memories, some of her things that she held onto from her childhood. But

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