The Christmas Witness

By: Susan Sleeman



“Have you thought any more about where you’ll go if Ella’s discharged?” Reid asked.


“Someplace far away from Fowler.” Fierce determination to protect her daughter flowed through Megan’s words.

“Say you go away for a while and Fowler can’t trace you. The minute you come back, he’ll resume his pursuit. You have to stand up to him.”

“I did that once, remember? Now he’s out of jail again and not only coming after me but Ella, too.”

Reid moved close and placed his hands on her shoulders. “You’re stronger this time, and you have to do what’s best for Ella.”

She swiveled. Anguish colored her eyes. “What’s best for her is getting away from here before Fowler hurts her.”

“Let me help you, Megan. I can protect both of you.”

“Can you?” She looked up into his eyes.

“Give me another chance, Megan. I’m not going anywhere. I won’t let Fowler get to you,” he whispered, knowing he had made a promise that was going to be nearly impossible to keep—but one he would die trying to fulfill.







For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

—Jeremiah 29:11





For my husband, Mark, who always believes in me and is by my side through good times and bad.

I couldn’t do any of this without you.





Acknowledgments

Heartfelt thanks to

My daughters, Erin and Emma, for their tremendous support. Thank you, Emma, for always helping me brainstorm plots, even when you’d rather be doing something else, and thank you, Erin, for the graphic design expertise that is at the heart of my promotional efforts.

My patient, sweet and talented editor, Tina James. I am thrilled at the opportunity to work with and learn from you. And thank you for continuing to have faith in my writing.

The very generous Ron Norris—retired police officer with the LaVerne Police Department—who gives of his time and knowledge in both police procedures as well as weapons information. Thank you for always answering my questions so thoroughly and so promptly. You go above and beyond, and I can’t thank you enough! Any errors in or liberties taken with the technical details Ron so patiently explained to me are all my doing.

To my church family at Prince of Peace, Orlando for all the support. Thank you to all of you who have bought my books and given me such encouragement.

And most importantly, thank you God for my faith and for giving me daily challenges to grow closer to you.





CONTENTS


ONE

TWO

THREE

FOUR

FIVE

SIX

SEVEN

EIGHT

NINE

TEN

ELEVEN

TWELVE

THIRTEEN

FOURTEEN

FIFTEEN

EPILOGUE

LETTER TO READER

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION





ONE


Norman Fowler was free to terrorize her again.

Icy-cold fear slid over Megan Cash. She’d imagined this day. How she’d imagined it.

Terrifying, breath-stopping, the man who’d held her at gunpoint during a bank robbery coming back into her life. Now he was here, striding across the gas station lot, heading toward her car. Had he seen her? Worse yet, followed her to make good on his threat?

Averting her face, she considered flooring the gas pedal and fleeing, but where could she go?

Two cars in front. One behind. Three at the island to the side. All with nozzles feeding gas tanks. She was trapped unless she wanted to jump from the car and take off running, making herself even more of a target.

C’mon, Megan. Deep breaths. Maybe it’s not him.

She’d seen him hundreds of times in the twelve years since she’d testified against him. The pockmarked face with the long jaw jutted out in anger, a tattered Tacoma Rainiers baseball cap snug on his head and hiding long dishwater blond hair, thinning in the back.

Hundreds of times she’d been wrong. Had to be wrong. He occupied a federal prison cell for robbing the bank where she’d worked. But today was different. He’d served his twelve-year sentence and could be free.



A hard knocking on the window startled her, dropping her heart to her stomach.

“You want gas or what, lady?” the attendant’s voice shot through the open window.

She’d make a small purchase so she didn’t draw attention to herself. When the cars in front of her moved, she’d race away. She fished through her wallet and withdrew her credit card. Keeping her face averted, she slid it through the gap at the top of her window.

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