Read Justice for Corrie (Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes Book 3) Online

Authors: Susan Stoker

Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary, #Military, #Romantic Suspense, #Mystery & Suspense, #Suspense

Justice for Corrie (Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes Book 3)

BOOK: Justice for Corrie (Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes Book 3)
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Justice for Corrie
Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes, Book 3
Susan Stoker

B
lind since birth
, Corrie Madison relies on her other sharpened senses in her job as a chiropractor. Never did she imagine she’d have to depend on them to identify a killer. But when a man enters her practice, murdering everyone in his path, Corrie is the only witness—putting her directly in the killer’s crosshairs.

Officer Quint Axton wasn’t looking for love, or even a relationship, until he meets Corrie. Beautiful and brave, resilient and intelligent, she’s everything Quint wants—if he can keep her alive long enough to explore their mutual attraction. The threats on Corrie’s life are escalating. Surely a blind person is helpless against a ruthless killer?

Hardly. Corrie is about to prove that disabled does not equal defenseless.

**
Justice for Corrie
is the 3rd book in the Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes Series. Each book is a stand-alone, with no cliffhanger endings.

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:
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, chara.cters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or used ficti.tiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2016 by Susan Stoker

No part of this work may be used, stored, reproduced or transmitted without written permission from the publisher except for brief quotations for review purposes as permitted by law.

This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be re-sold or given away to other pe.ople. If you would like to share this book with another person, please*crane purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, please purchase your own copy.

Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Cover Design by Chris Mackey, AURA Design Group

Edited by Kelli Collins & Missy Borucki

Manufactured in the United States

Acknowledgments

T
hank
you to Christie M. for helping me make sure I did justice to Corrie’s character. For the blind, it’s not easy living in a sighted world and your suggestions helped make Corrie more “real.” Thank you!

Also, thank you to Diana C. for your help with finding me a good restaurant in San Antonio. Your hometown perspective is always welcome.

And as always thanks to Rosie, Henry, and Annie for your unflagging support.

Chapter 1


H
ello
, Mr. Treadaway. How are you today?”

“Hi, Corrie. I’m okay.”

“It’s been a while since you’ve been in for an adjustment.”

“I know, I’ve pushed it a bit too far.”

“You’ve been in a lot of pain?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay, go ahead and get ready. You know the drill. I’ll be back in as soon as I go over your most recent X-rays with my assistant. When I come back, I’ll do an exam and you can tell me where you’re hurting the most. We’ll do the adjustment and I’ll expect you to return to see me sooner next time. All right?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Corrie could hear the humor in the older man’s voice. Jake Treadaway was in his early fifties. He had a low voice that was pleasing to her ears. He had an average build, not overly muscular, but not overweight either. He was taller than her five-nine, but not by much.

As a blind chiropractor, Corrie had to rely on her hands and her sense of touch to be able to correctly diagnose her patients and to adjust them properly. She knew there were a lot of people who still didn’t believe she could do the job, but Corrie was comforted by the fact that she had a lot of clients who
did
believe in her; patients who had no issue with her disability

After graduating with her degree, she’d applied and met with the majority of chiropractors in San Antonio, and the only person who would give her a chance was Dr. Garza. He hadn’t blown her off immediately upon finding out she was blind, and after she’d shown him she knew what she was doing, he’d given her a trial run. It had worked out and they were both thrilled. Dr. Garza had wanted to spend more time with his family and was happy to take on a partner. They usually alternated work days, so they could both have some time off.

There were several clients who were uncomfortable with her disability, and had refused to let her adjust them, but Dr. Garza had no problem taking on those less-than-open-minded clients.

Corrie wouldn’t apologize for who she was and what she did. She’d worked hard, damn hard, to get through chiropractic college. Luckily, there’d been a few other blind students who had blazed the trail before her, forcing colleges to provide reasonable accommodations for blind students so she was able to complete the rigorous training.

Her parents had fought for her right to attend “normal” schools her entire life. She was an only child, and Chad and Shelley Madison had taught her that she was just as capable as any sighted person. She’d been born with anophthalmia, a condition where her eyes didn’t form during pregnancy. She’d worn sunglasses for most of her elementary school years, but once she’d been old enough, and after a lot of begging, she’d started wearing prosthetics.

She’d painstakingly learned to clean and care for her “bionic eyes” as her best friend, Emily, called them. It had only taken one infection because of her laziness and the resulting hospital stay, for Corrie to learn it could be a life-or-death situation if she didn’t properly clean and disinfect the prosthetics on a regular basis.

Corrie closed the exam door behind her and turned right to walk down the short hallway to her office. She knew exactly how many steps it was from the exam room she always used to the office, how many strides she had to take to reach her desk, and exactly where her chair would be. The cleaning service employees had learned not to move any of her things even one inch after an incident where her trash can hadn’t been put back in its spot and Corrie had fallen over it one morning.

Corrie eased into her chair and thumbed through the files sitting on her desk. Their administrative assistant, Cayley, always placed the files of the clients she’d see each day in the center of her desk in the mornings. The tabs had the names of each patient written on them, but Corrie had also printed out labels of their names in Braille and placed them on the front of each folder.

Corrie reached out and grabbed her mouse, it was right where it always was, and clicked. A female voice talked Corrie through maneuvering within Mr. Treadaway’s online file and medical history. She made some notes in a recorder she kept on her desk. Cayley took the device and typed up her notes on each person at the end of every day.

Finished with her preparations for Mr. Treadaway’s adjustment, Corrie stood up and walked back to her office door. Her assistant, Shaun, should’ve been in her office by now. He would know by now that Mr. Treadaway had arrived. They always went over his radiographs so Corrie would know which vertebrae she needed to concentrate on. She’d never work on a patient without the review. She didn’t want to hurt someone or, God forbid, paralyze them by adjusting the wrong place on their spine.

Shaun was about her age, thirty-two, and married with two kids. His younger child had been in a swimming accident a year and a half ago. Five-year-old Robert fell into their neighbor’s pool and wasn’t missed for approximately ten minutes. By the time they found him and fished him out of the water, he’d been clinically dead for eight of those minutes. The doctors had been able to revive him, but he’d never have a normal life again. The lack of oxygen had reduced the little boy to a shell of who he’d once been, and Corrie knew Shaun and his wife, Abigail, were going through financial issues trying to pay his medical bills from that time, as well as paying to keep him home with full-time medical assistance.

Corrie felt terrible for Shaun. He’d worked with her for about six months before Robert’s accident, and she knew he wasn’t the same man since it had happened. Lately though, his performance at work was suffering, and Corrie dreaded the talk she’d have to have with him. He’d been showing up late for work more and more often, and he seemed sullen and even borderline paranoid, always asking who was sitting out in the small waiting area and if anyone ever called for him at work.

Just as Corrie reached for the doorknob to see if she could find Shaun—he usually hung out in the makeshift break room toward the back of the clinic—she heard angry voices in the reception area, followed by a weird popping noise. She froze in her tracks and tilted her head to the side, trying to figure out what was going on.

It wasn’t until she heard Cayley’s scream cut short that Corrie figured out something horrible was happening.

Knowing better than to open her door and try to stop whatever was going on, Corrie stepped quickly away from the door and imagined her office layout in her head. As the popping noises and the screams continued—and got closer to her office—she frantically thought about where she could hide.

Her desk was large, and sat perpendicular to the doorway. She could walk from the door straight to the chair at her desk without having to swerve around any furniture. She kept her office purposely free of extraneous chairs and tables so she didn’t have to worry about tripping over them. She could hide under the desk, but wasn’t that where everyone always hid—and died doing it? If she was a crazy person hell-bent on killing everyone around her, that’s the first place she’d look for stragglers who might be hiding.

The exam door down the hall was opened and Corrie heard Mr. Treadaway ask, “Who are you?” before the awful popping sound came again.

Knowing time was running out, the gunman would be at her office within moments, Corrie made the split-second decision to see if she could fit in the small area under the sink. There was no other place she could hide.

When she’d been hired, there hadn’t been any extra space for her to have an office in the small clinic. A small break room had been converted for her, and the sink and cabinets still lined one wall. It would be a tight fit, an
extremely
tight fit, but Corrie didn’t hesitate.

Hearing the unsteady gait of someone walking down the hall, Corrie raced over to the sink and opened the cabinet underneath. She shoved her butt in first and wiggled it around, knocking over a few odds and ends that were stored under there in the process. She drew her knees up as close to her chest as she could get them and sighed in relief as she realized she fit, barely. Her neck was bent down at an awkward angle and she couldn’t breathe very well, but Corrie quickly, and quietly, closed one door, then the other, praying whoever was shooting wouldn’t think to look under the sink for anyone.

At the same moment Corrie heard the soft click of the cabinet door to her hiding place engage with the small magnet that kept it shut, she heard her office door burst open.

Because Corrie was blind, her other senses had always been more acute than a sighted person’s. She seemed to hear, smell, and taste what people with no disabilities couldn’t. The man who’d entered her office walked straight to her desk. Corrie heard her desk chair being pulled away. Yup, he’d immediately checked under there to see if someone was hiding from him. She heard him walk to the small window and held her breath.

Corrie nearly jumped out of her skin when she heard the man’s cell phone ring. He answered it and paced around her office as he spoke to whomever was on the other end.

“Yeah? Just about. No trouble whatsoever. Easiest job I’ve had in a long time. Haven’t seen the asshole yet. Yeah, he was supposed to be here. I’ve got one more room to check. No, no witnesses. Yes, I’m fucking sure. He’ll wish he paid what he owes us once he sees what happened to his coworkers. Fuck off. You’ll hear from me when you hear from me.”

Corrie breathed shallowly, trying not to make a sound. She knew she was one cough, one muscle twitch, one wrong move away from death.

The shooter sounded mean. She couldn’t tell what he looked like, of course, but his voice had a unique accent. She couldn’t place it, but Corrie was pretty sure if she ever heard it again, she’d recognize it. She listened as he walked around the room one more time. It sounded as if he was limping; there was a light pause between his footsteps, as if he dragged one leg a bit more than the other.

She almost had a heart attack when he came over to the sink and turned on the water above her. Corrie heard it gurgling through the pipes her knees were jammed against and even felt the pipe warm as the liquid coming out of the faucet heated up. The water turned off and she heard the killer grab a paper towel from the stack next to the sink.

As she sat under the sink, wondering if the man would somehow realize she was there and shoot her in the head, Corrie could smell the cologne he was wearing. She’d never smelled anything like it before. If she’d met a man out at a party or a club, she might find the scent attractive, but because of her circumstance, and the knowledge that she was two inches away from death, she almost gagged at the stench of him. The smell of gunpowder also clung to the man, as if he were cloaked in it. Corrie knew she’d never forget the scent of his cologne mixed with that horrible smell of gunpowder.

Finally the man limped to the end of the row of cabinets and must’ve thrown away the wet paper towel he’d used to dry his hands. Such a polite murderer, not leaving any trash around. She heard him open the first upper cabinet and rummage through it.

What in God’s name was he doing? Shouldn’t he want to get away? He’d just shot and probably killed people—was he looking for condiments now? Why wouldn’t he just
leave
already?

She almost whimpered in relief when she heard the faint sound of sirens. Either someone in the clinic must’ve called 911 before they were killed or someone nearby heard the shots. It took the man another few beats to hear them and he’d opened another cabinet in the meantime. When he finally heard the wailing of the police sirens, he turned away from the cabinets and walked quickly to the door to the office with his uneven gait.

Corrie didn’t hear the door to her office close, and listened as the man walked to the last room he hadn’t checked yet. It was the small break room. Shaun obviously wasn’t there, because Corrie didn’t hear any more gunshots. The mystery man then walked back up the hall the way he’d arrived, and not too much later, Corrie heard nothing but silence.

The quietness rang in her ears. It wasn’t normal for her workplace. Usually she heard the sounds of keyboard keys clacking as Cayley worked on her computer. She’d hear Shaun talking with Cayley, or on the phone, or with a client. Clients sometimes spoke on their phones while they waited for their appointments, or talked to each other. Hiding under the sink, Corrie couldn’t even hear the hum of the air conditioner that usually drove her crazy by the end of each day. It had a high-pitched squeak that no one but her seemed able to hear.

Corrie’s legs were cramping, but she was too scared to move. She couldn’t see what was going on, if the man was really and truly gone, or if he had an accomplice. Maybe he was waiting to see if any witnesses, like herself, crawled out of their hidey-holes, so he could blow them away as well. She’d never been so scared in her entire life, and that was saying something.

Growing up blind hadn’t been a walk in the park. She’d made it through too many terrifying situations to count, including being lost in the middle of a large shopping mall. Or the time she went out with friends in college and got separated from them when a fight broke out in the bar they were in. Corrie could hear grunting and fists hitting bodies, but had no idea which way to go to escape the danger all around her.

But this—this was a whole new kind of scary.

Corrie stayed huddled under the sink, listening as several people finally entered the clinic area. They didn’t say a word, but Corrie could hear them methodically making their way through each room, saying “clear” as they entered each one. It was obviously the police, and she’d never been so glad to hear anything in her entire life.

Not wanting to get shot, she didn’t dare pop open the cabinet doors to crawl out. When she heard two people enter her office, she took a chance and tentatively called out, “Don’t shoot! I’m a chiropractor. I’m hiding under the sink.”

“Come out with your hands up.”

“Okay, I’m coming, but please, don’t shoot me.” Corrie’s voice wobbled as she answered. She leaned against the cabinet door with her shoulder and as she expected, the small magnet holding it shut popped open easily. She tried to keep her hands in full view of whoever was in the room. She stuck them out first and swung her legs out.

BOOK: Justice for Corrie (Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes Book 3)
12.23Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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