Thomas Keyes, a decorated officer with the Newport police department, intent on bringing some of his own personal demons to rest, after a lengthy investigation into a string of murders, discovers that his main suspect, Aaron Edwards, a victim of a tortured childhood, has cheated death again. Thomas Keyes, who finds that his wife and daughter are a part of that list, must break the news to David and reopen the case. While David is relieved to know that he did not kill a man, he is tormented by the implications that his wife is still in danger. He as well as Thomas Keyes and the Newport police department must work together once again to stop Aaron in his tracks.
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The Blackest Crow Book Two
By L.W. Ferguson
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2015 L.W. Ferguson
All rights reserved.
Aaron Edwards was pronounced dead at approximately 7:33 p.m. on a Monday evening. After being plunged through a portal in time, he had watched as doctors operated, trying desperately to save his life. Aaron shook his head in disbelief. Lying on a silver tray next to his body was the missing knife. The same knife he had torn the house up looking for, the same knife he had killed Olivia with. Though he was not inside of his body, he could feel a chill. The longer Aaron remained away, the slower his heart pumped. The beat just out of range of detection had slowed considerably in his absence. Of course they thought he was dead.
Aaron was very tired now. His little charade of escape had grown old and worrisome. Ever since his mother had left him in St. Clark's Institution, a home for troubled kids, he had needed the clever trick. When Aaron was nine years old, his mother had dragged him there. He had no knowledge of the fact that he was supposed to be dead. His mother had orchestrated a mock funeral with a graveside service, grave marker and a priest. His stepfather, whom he had never met, behaved supportively and comforted his mother's false sorrow. Aaron only existed as his mother allowed it.
He had waited for her to return but that day was not to be expected. While he was there, attendants at times would come into his room and beat him with leather straps they called Mood Conductors. On one of those occasions, quite by accident, Aaron had closed his eyes and when he opened them again he was on the outside looking in. As he closed his eyes for the first time, he heard the straps striking flesh, but he felt nothing. With practice, Aaron learned that whenever he faced torment, punishment or even death, he could step outside of his body and watch. Aaron had witnessed many atrocities, yet in the midst of them he had only to endure the lasting pain that came with the cessation. Aaron came to acknowledge that it only prolonged the inevitable.
Aaron was feeling and growing old. He wanted to die. His loveless life had eaten away at his resolve. For a brief moment, he thought he had been given a glimmer of hope when he met Jesse Turner. He and Jesse had been involved in a near fatal car accident that threw them together into a parallel world. Though they both lay in separate beds, in separate hospitals, and both in a coma, their lives flourished and continued inside their unconscious minds. Together they discovered the wonders of a complete other life. But Aaron could not escape his evil nature; a tendency to murder. After a fit of jealousy, he killed Jesse's friend Olivia who threatened to come between them. As things became tense and emotions began to escalate, through an act of desperation, Jesse Turner's husband David came looking for her.
David was told to follow his heart. His heart belonged to Jesse and she was in trouble. David knew the danger his wife faced as he had only recently come to know the truth himself. Aaron Edwards was a serial killer.
After killing Olivia, Aaron had misplaced the murder weapon, a knife, mistakenly leaving it in the pocket of a coat he placed around Jesse's shoulders. When David and Jesse were reunited and Jesse realized who David was, Aaron broke into Jesse's house in the middle of the night, only to lose the struggle with David. During the fight, David found the same knife, and ran the blade into Aaron's chest.
By some miracle of the imagination he had met Jesse in what felt like another place and time. He had not the words to explain the phenomena; he just knew he had crossed a line somehow. What had happened to him?
Time was running out. Aaron had to return to his body. As he did so, his heart rate increased until it was audible on the heart monitor. Doctors and nurses returned to assess his condition and to stabilize him. He would live after all. They had patched the hole in his chest where the knife had once rested. He was back in the real world now. Yet somehow he knew Jesse was real and so was the man who had stabbed him. Aaron had been given a second chance. Once he was fully recovered, he would sort through his experiences and images then draw a conclusion. Where and what had happened to him? Was Jesse Turner a real person? Till then, he would keep his eyes and ears open.CHAPTER 2
After Jesse Turner woke up in Newport General Hospital, she had to learn about the real world again; the world that was predictable. The real world that said if you run you will get tired. If you sleep you may often dream. The world she was born into had consequences. The past few weeks had been a bazaar journey into an existence she had no power of her own to escape. She learned that she had been in a coma. In her mind she traveled to a real place and encountered real experiences. Though her body had lain in a hospital bed, her being had traveled to a tangible world where there were no limitations and the imagination was in charge.
She found out firsthand what it felt like to live a nightmare. She refers to it now as a nightmare because her husband David and her son Jimmy had not been there. She didn't want to imagine a world without them in it, but for a while she had. She was surrounded by all of her favorite things except her family.
When she woke up in the hospital room and saw all the different faces, faces she did not recognize, she knew it wasn't just because she had been in an accident. She learned that together, the research, the science and one man's faith had crossed a threshold from theory to actuality.
David Turner loved Jesse enough to believe in a parallel world. He would risk his life to save Jesse's, so much so that he allowed doctors to put him into a coma as well. David had in fact saved Jesse's life. While the threat was not in this world, it was from this world. On a subconscious horizon the possibilities were endless. David was forced to do something he would not normally do. He had stabbed a man. He struggled with the magnitude of what he had done. He did not know how to process what had happened. Should he feel guilt and remorse, or was it part of a dream? His gut instincts told him he had killed a man. While he had not seen the man die, he knew that because of the location of the wound, the outcome would be fatal.
During the days following the incident, David hid his personal war from Jesse but often went to St. Matthew's to confide in his good friend Manny. Manuel Ramirez was the priest over St. Matthew's Cathedral. David had not kept in touch in the past as friends should, but he and Manny had witnessed and shared a profound mystery. Their lives would never be the same after almost losing Jesse. They had to make some tough choices and as a result they talked often and prayed often.
Jesse didn't speak much about what had happened. David explained the eminent danger she had been in. He explained the identity known as Aaron Edwards and that he had as she suspected killed someone from the world she came to know. He told her about Adam Granger, the man who saved her life by getting her to the hospital. Together Adam and David had discovered the threat to Jesse's life.
David, Jesse and their son Jimmy, spent the first nights back at home sleeping in the same bed. David lay awake watching them both sleep. He hoped that what he saw was not also a dream. He vowed to keep Jesse in sight at all times, just until he felt his feet were safe. After the journey he had taken, waking up in his grandmother's house and actually speaking to her years after her death, he didn't trust anything. Everything carried meaning now. He constantly worried about how much of the parallel world overlapped into his reality as well as the opposite. He was traumatized. He didn't know who to go to or who to ask for help. He would continue to talk to Manny until he found his bearings.
"Good Morning Sweetheart! How long have you been watching me sleep?"
"Long enough ... I missed not being able to watch you sleep in your own bed next to me where you belong."
David hugged Jesse tightly and kissed her on the forehead.
"I just want things to get back to normal. I still feel a little light headed sometimes, but that will get better and pretty soon I'll be able to go back to work."
"Don't worry about work. Let me take care of you. You just concentrate on getting better. Besides, now we only have one car. Women drivers!" Jesse slapped his shoulder. "Jesse, I was kidding."
"I knew that. Everybody knows you drive slower than my grandpa and he never drove a car."
"Oooo! You are so going to pay for that one."
They both laughed and relaxed, enjoying the rest of the morning.CHAPTER 3
Thomas Keyes, a decorated police officer with the Newport Police Department, had an itch he couldn't scratch. He carried his work home with him often and while he slept, he set his invisible secretaries to sorting out the clues and drama that was cluttering up his head. Thomas did his best thinking when he was asleep. He tossed and turned but to no avail. Something didn't feel right in his mind.
He opened his eyes and set his gaze on the far window. In his mind's eye, he still saw the look on Aaron Edwards' face. He saw the bloody knife and the accusing glares from the doctors and nurses. The knife he saw was centered in the middle of Aaron's chest. Thomas had assumed Aaron would die momentarily. He had rose from his hospital chair, called into Police Headquarters, and went home. He had slept like a baby the entire night and up into the afternoon. Years of stress and mental fatigue had all but dissipated with the passing of Aaron Edwards.
The itch tugged at him again. He had an awful feeling in the very bottom of his gut. Maybe he had forgotten to tie a loose end, dot an 'I' or cross a 'T'. He sat up on the edge of the bed and put his feet on the cold wooden floor. He stood and he stretched but continued to try to pull his way through the fog that troubled him so. Then he realized he had not cared how Aaron died or who did it. He had not challenged his beliefs. Yes, there was a group of people in another hospital who believed in a parallel world. He had been open to the idea at the time but never stopped to ask himself if he believed. Jesse Turner's husband David had believed it. Did David really kill Aaron?
Thomas got out of bed and went to the bathroom to wash up. Thomas's favorite day of the week was Monday. Monday was the orphan child that nobody would adopt. Of all the days to have the itch, his mind had picked today, a Monday. No wonder he couldn't get his mind straight. Thomas dressed and drove out to Mount View Cemetery where his wife and daughter had been buried. He spent much of his time lying in the grass, gazing at the clouds over head and talking to his wife and daughter. His family had been brutally murdered years ago by Aaron Edwards, but Thomas had never found the answers as to why.
When he finally found Aaron, and Aaron opened his eyes, he had frozen in horror. Thomas hadn't accounted for the awful circumstances. He hadn't rehearsed what he would say or do. He just knew in his heart he had to see the face of the man who had killed his family. When the moment of truth came forward, everything he ever felt, every emotion, every word escaped him. All he had wanted to do was to scrape off the evil that clung to his skin.
When he left the cemetery, he realized he had to make sure. He needed to make sure Aaron was really dead. He would view the body, even if he had to have him exhumed.CHAPTER 4
The path to recovery had been a long hard road for Aaron Edwards. Aaron had spent most of his adult life preying on members of the opposite sex. His inner child was at war for long periods with a past that had been colored by pain and neglect. The thought of losing his own life had never really crossed his mind because his thoughts knew only one track to ride, Redemption and Revenge.
Aaron lashed out in harmful ways in an effort to coexist with a world he didn't understand. Unlike other children he had been cut off from the outside world during his impressionable years. His only exposure or knowledge of others was through books and pictures.
Aaron had come close to death this time. On a path of self-destruction, Aaron became involved in a car crash. His condition resulted in a shift from this world to a place he didn't know, a parallel world. Once there, Aaron was allowed a measure of happiness. This emotion was a foreign concept and at the prospect, he became confused and disoriented, but just the same, all for the better.
Here he was, isolated and alone again. The past couple of months had been trying. The team of well-trained doctors and nurses had managed to save Aaron's life. "Damn," he thought to himself. He was tired, very, very tired of being the odd man out. He had grown weary of killing. He was tired of hating.
A nurse came in to check the bandages on Aaron's chest. Aaron had returned to this world with a knife in his chest. He was stabbed with his own knife, but the knife had just missed his heart by one centimeter. He had lost weight and appeared emaciated. After losing the feeding tube he had requested a fat greasy hamburger, but after getting it, he found he couldn't even swallow it. Recovery was definitely a slow process.
Before long, Aaron had finally managed to gain enough strength to stand. Every Sunday he could hear the church bells nearby and knew somehow his rehabilitation center must be directly across the street from the church. Aaron sat up on the edge of the bed, and then took a moment to rest before slipping his feet into the hospital slippers that were given to him. After several minutes, he lifted himself up on spindly legs and shuffled his way over to the window to look out. As he gripped the edge of the window sill, he saw across the street, a church. He had been right about the proximity. St. Matthew's Cathedral, the sign read. He had never been to church. That gave him something to think about. His life had been one roller coaster ride after another. Impossible things had unfolded before his eyes. Maybe it was time for a new direction.
Aaron shuffled back to the bed and lay down to rest. Aaron began to think about his choices. He was not a good person, he knew that he wasn't. He didn't waste his time trying to fool himself. Whatever hope there was for his life, he left it at St. Clarks as a little boy. Maybe he needed a fresh start. When he became able to walk well enough, he was going to walk into St. Matthews to find out what the attraction was. Then once he was able to gain back some of his weight and strength, he was going to look up his dear old mom.
He had been scared of her before. Some habits are unbreakable. But now he had nothing to lose. He almost had a relationship with Jesse, in another time before a strange guy showed up. One by one he was making a list of the wrongs in his life. He would focus on making them right. He would find somebody he could talk to. He would get the answers he was looking for. Where did he go when he had the crash? He knew somehow, Jesse was real. He was going to find her, but first dear old Mom needed a wakeup call of her own.
"I use to be scared of you, Mom, but I'm all grown up now. You and I have a lot to talk about. Guess what they say is true, what goes around comes around. You locked me up now you're locked up. I couldn't have planned it better if I tried. When I come to see ya', you got nowhere to run. Nothing like a little razor wire and guards with guns, to sober you up, huh Mom? I imagine you won't recognize me, which is good. That way you can't blow the whistle."CHAPTER 5
Jessica Edwards pleaded guilty to felony child neglect and abuse. She received three years in a women's correctional facility outside of Washington, D.C. She was glad to be leaving one prison for another. Her home life had been less than tolerable but she had nowhere else to go. She had been taught to comply. Her younger son Alex had left home when he was seventeen. Though the house had three bedrooms, an upstairs and downstairs, there was only enough room for Jessica and his father Mr. Thurman. Alex was forced to do all the house work, keep up with school and remain invisible all at the same time. When he finally left, his parents hadn't noticed. He never looked back.
Excerpted from The Blackest Crow Book Two by L.W. Ferguson. Copyright © 2015 L.W. Ferguson. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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