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Her Deepest Fear

Her Deepest Fear

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After her husband dies suddenly, Cate begins to suspect she’s being followed — and starts questioning everything she thought she knew. But the answers she discovers may be the worst of all…

Cate Brady almost had it all. Until a knock on her front door brought news that her beloved husband had been in a terrible accident. He was pronounced dead on the scene.

Reeling from the shock and suspecting she's being followed, Cate must question everything she thinks she knows.

Is she in danger? Will she find the answers she reluctantly seeks? And what will it all mean for her future?

Her Deepest Fear is the first book in the Rosemary Run Series featuring the women of a California town who face the darkness hiding beneath their community’s picturesque facade.

Publication date: August 15, 2019.

About the Rosemary Run Series:

In the charming Northern California town of Rosemary Run, there's trouble brewing below the picture-perfect surface.

Don't let the manicured lawns and stylish place settings fool you. Nothing is exactly as it seems. Secrets and lies threaten to upend the status quo and destroy lives when— not if— they're revealed.

With surprising twists and turns that will keep you guessing to the end, each dramatized Rosemary Run novel features a glimpse into a different woman's nail-biting story. Books can be read in any order.

Look Inside

Prologue

It had been an ordinary autumn day, right up until Cate Brady’s police-officer brother knocked on the door of her Northern California home to deliver the most horrific news. Cate wanted to collapse into a ball on her living room floor when the terrible words reached her ears, piercing and slicing into her very soul, but doing so was out of the question. The kids were watching.

Instead, Cate wrung the blue and white striped dishtowel in her hands as she looked at her brother, Officer James Tatum, in disbelief. She smoothed the cotton fabric down hard, as if the movement could somehow steady her. Tears filled her eyes and burned like hot coals searing their way down her cheeks. She felt dizzy. How could this be?

Cate and her children had eaten homemade pizza for dinner and were busy cleaning up the mess together when James knocked. Her teenage son, Aaron, remained at the sink, his earbuds blasting classic rock music while he absentmindedly scrubbed and rinsed dishes, waiting for his mom to return to her drying duties. Cate’s middle child, Jilly, and the baby of the family, Niko, both stood near the dinner table, clearing away dirty napkins and wiping crumbs off the smooth, flat surface.

Cate almost had it all. The picture-perfect house. The well-balanced, adoring kids. The friendly extended family members who lived nearby. The glamorous job traveling around the wine country region and writing lifestyle pieces for the local magazine. And the storybook marriage to a man who worked hard to provide for her every want and need. When his day at the office was done, Mick Brady typically came home to help cook dinner, play with the kids, and watch television in bed before wrapping his arms around his wife and falling peacefully asleep with the family’s yellow lab, Meesha, at his feet.

Cate had waited many years for the life she enjoyed now, having traipsed around the world while living in one temporary rental home after another when Mick was an officer in the U.S. Navy. Mick had promised his wife a beautiful place to put down roots once he retired from active duty service. And he delivered on that promise. Rosemary Run felt like home.

But fate had other plans which rudely interrupted this ordinary day and disrupted Cate’s idyllic life.

James choked up as he told his sister the news: Mick had been in an accident. He was pronounced dead on the scene.



Chapter One

Cate’s hands trembled as she stared at the mound of dirt piled neatly beside her husband’s flag-draped casket. None of this felt real. The medical examiner said Mick’s body was badly mangled, so she had decided not to see it, but one look at her grieving children told Cate this was very real.

The air was much colder than usual on this particular morning. So cold that Cate had spent the evening prior digging out warm clothes for her family to wear to the funeral and interment. The warm clothes had been packed away since moving from Mick’s last duty station. It was lucky they still fit, save for a few inconspicuous tight seams and short hems.

Maybe the weather had something to do with why this all felt to Cate like a strange dream. It shouldn’t have been so cold in Rosemary Run. Not in October. Temperatures like these were better suited for higher elevations and points north. Cate pondered the strangeness of her reality as she looked slowly from the mound of dirt to each of her kids, assessing their levels of distress, one by one. She thought about how none of them would ever forget this dreadful day. Her sweet, innocent kids would be scarred forever. They’d never be the same.

Niko sat nearby to where Cate was standing, bundled up in long pants and a cable-knit sweater. His hair was brushed purposefully to one side. Cate thought he suddenly looked awfully grown-up for five. No child his age should have to face such an unexpected and profound loss. Niko’s Uncle James sat in the seat next to him, one arm draped around the top of the little boy’s chair.

James’ pretty, red-headed wife, Rebecca, dabbed her eyes with a silk handkerchief as she sat dutifully on the other side and leaned close against her husband to keep warm. Being the wife of a police officer, Rebecca had been to more funerals than she could count. But this one was different. Burying a beloved family member was excruciating for everyone involved. She worked hard to maintain her composure. Rebecca and James didn’t have kids of their own yet. They wanted desperately to help take good care of their niece and nephews.

Jilly sat huddled beside her baby brother and stared blankly at the pile of dirt, fixing her gaze on the same spot as her mom. She had wanted to wear her nicest black dress, which fell just above her knee, so she’d added warm leggings underneath to accommodate the blustery conditions. In typical tween-girl fashion, she had taken extra time with her clothes and appearance. Ever since the weather turned, it was Jilly who had cursed the cold most of all. She’d never liked wintertime and found it especially cruel that such bitter cold would arrive on the day of her father’s funeral.

Aaron had decided to stand up and remain next to his mother’s side, taking to heart what his Uncle James had said about being strong. It was too much to ask of a freshman in high school. He fidgeted with the collar of his starched, white dress shirt and adjusted the blue tie around his neck. It had been his dad’s. Cate’s heart felt like it was breaking right inside of her as she thought about how Mick had looked forward to Aaron wearing one of his ties for a special occasion. He had considered it an important rite of passage. Surely, Mick never dreamed his boy would be wearing this tie while standing at his graveside on this unimaginable day. The very thought would have turned Mick inside out. He loved his children most of all.

Cate wondered how everything could go so wrong. Especially after life had seemed so perfectly right.

Little more than a year ago, the Brady family had been living in Connecticut. Mick’s position as an officer at the Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton had kept him away from home a lot, but they were used to it. The facility was the primary submarine base on the East Coast. The men and women stationed there had important jobs to do. That fact made Mick’s absence easier for Cate and the kids to accept, even though they didn’t like it.

Cate used to beg Mick to retire from the service so he could spend more time with her and the kids. Now, she wished she’d never been so selfish. She imagined her husband would still be alive if they’d never moved home. Mick would have been gone too much, for sure. But, at least, he’d always return. Not to mention, she and the kids would have had their old friends around.

It was hard for Cate not to feel like this was all her fault.

“Ma’am,” an officiant said to Cate as he gently placed a hand on her arm. “It’s time for the riflemen to fire the ceremonial three volleys. I don’t want the sound to startle you. Are you and your children ready?”

Cate nodded. She had explained to Aaron, Jilly, and Niko about the volleys and how they were fired at Navy military funerals. She’d also told them about how Taps would be played by a military bugler after the firing of the volleys, just before the American flag was taken off the top of their father’s casket, then folded and presented to his family.

But Cate wasn’t ready. Not really. She wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the only man she’d ever truly loved. She wasn’t ready to grow old without him. Or to raise their three children alone. She wasn’t ready for any of this. She wished she could somehow rewind time and change something that would bring him back.

Cate wanted to smell Mick’s aftershave and the way it mixed with the scent of his bath soap as he stepped out of the shower each morning, clean and refreshed. She wanted to hear his cheerful voice as he announced his arrival after a long day of work. She wanted to see his Sunday newspaper, sprawled about on the kitchen counter with the comics on top. And she wanted to feel his familiar touch as he clasped her hand in his, like he’d done so many times over their sixteen years together. She wanted to be Cate and Mick. Mick and Cate. It had been printed on their wedding announcements when they married young, and on countless holiday cards, party invitations, and permission slips over the years since. They were barely twenty and twenty-one when they had wed. People had told them they were foolish and that their union would never last. But it had. Cate didn’t know who to be in the world if not a part of Mick. She felt completely and utterly alone.

At a loss, both figuratively and literally, Cate turned to her kids and said, “it’s time.”

“Okay, Mommy,” Niko replied feebly as he nodded his little head up and down. Both Jilly and Aaron were too choked up to speak.

“We’re ready,” Cate confirmed, signaling the officiant to go ahead.

Tears streamed down her face as Cate stood tall and braced herself for the booms. She held her head high, though she cried silently, careful not to let the kids hear her sobbing out loud. She had to be strong for them.

Each boom felt like a punch to the gut as it came, pushing Cate deeper and deeper into a future she didn’t want and couldn’t escape. Her heart raced. It felt like the sounds were sealing the lid of her own coffin. The bugler played his slow, sorrowful tune while Cate began to dread the impending moment when Mick’s casket would be lowered into the unforgiving ground. She thought about how it was even colder down there. She suddenly had the overwhelming urge to race over to her husband, fling his casket open, and hold him in her arms a while longer. She wanted to save him from the ground. She wanted to save herself.

Finally, the last three notes of Taps escaped from the bugler’s instrument into the cold October air, the closing one held and left to echo throughout what seemed like the entire valley. As is customary, the body bearers carefully removed the flag from Mick’s casket, then folded it thirteen times into a triangle. Mark Boche, a long-time shipmate of Mick’s who had flown in from Connecticut for the funeral, dutifully presented the flag to Cate as he leaned towards her. The flag felt heavy and cumbersome in her hands. She appreciated the honor shown to her husband, but the reality of his fate was something she didn’t want to face. Even as Mick’s casket was lowered, slowly, into the ground.

In a spontaneous move, Cate jerked her body around in her chair to look away. When she did, her eyes landed on a shadowy figure just beyond the tree line at the edge of the cemetery. She couldn’t quite make out whether it was a man or a woman, but someone was there. Someone was watching.

Realizing they had been spotted, the figure darted behind a large oak tree, then scrambled further into the woods, out of sight.

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