Over the Edge
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by Susan K. Droney
Description: Maggie Allen's world of corporate money and power comes crashing down after she is taken by a man who is only out to use her for his own gain. When she is released from a short stint in prison, she refuses to give up, even though no one will give her a second chance. She loses everything and is forced to move to the other side of town, where she is determined to make a new life for herself. Her life would be perfect if it weren't for Brant Evans, a corrupt police officer who makes it a point of constantly reminding her about her past and everything she has lost. She can't understand his vendetta against her, but she refuses to be intimidated by him, no matter how severe the consequences.
eBook Publisher: The Fiction Works, 2007 fictionworks.com
eBookwise Release Date: April 2007
6 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [278 KB]
Reading time: 189-265 min.
She watched from her vantage point, crouched by the side of his car, her eyes fixed on his front door. The gun felt good in her grip. Swallowing hard, she removed the safety.
The door slowly opened and a dark figure emerging through the shadows made her heart quicken. He lit a cigarette, throwing the match on the ground as he walked towards his car. She sucked in her breath as her finger tightened on the trigger, then quickly pulled it.
He slumped to the ground. Slowly she walked to the body and stood over him. He looked up at her and tried to speak, but all she heard were moans gurgling up from his throat. She looked into his terrorized eyes, satisfied that the last thing he saw was no compassion in her own, and then with a boot clad foot, kicked him in the ribs, being careful to avoid the blood seeping through his shirt. "Bet you thought you'd never see me again," she sneered as she aimed the gun at his forehead then pulled the trigger again. * * * * Chapter 1
Maggie Allen stood behind the counter eyeing the customers beginning to fill the booths. She grabbed her order pad and a pencil. A familiar couple seated themselves in her station. Inwardly, she seethed with anger as she watched them, but outwardly, she was bright and cheerful. She hated having to put on a false front, but knew it was a requisite of the job to treat all of her customers with friendliness, even those she couldn't stomach.
"Hi, Brant. Janna," she said in the cheeriest voice she could muster. She flipped the order pad to a clean page. "What can I get you two?"
"Coffee. Hon?" The man nodded toward the beautiful petite blond at his side.
"The same." She smiled at Maggie. "Did you hear about our new house?"
Maggie looked into her sparkling baby blue eyes. "Yes, I hear it's quite a showplace." She forced a tight smile. She'd give anything to be called away from their table instead of enduring their phony attempts at friendliness. They were up to something. That she was sure of.
"You and Chris should come over some night for dinner and we'll give you the grand tour," Janna gushed, dramatically throwing her arms up in a flamboyant gesture. "It's like a palace!" She gripped Brant's arm. "We never dreamed it would be so beautiful! Did we, honey?"
Brant smiled keeping his eyes glued on Maggie, but Maggie knew he was hoping for some reaction from her.
"Promise me that you'll visit very soon," Janna continued.
"Thanks, Janna," Maggie said with the same tight smile. Now she was certain that the invitation was given only for Brant's satisfaction. There had to be an ulterior motive behind it. Any gesture of kindness from those two usually came with a high price.
She looked at Brant, but his finely chiseled face gave her no clue as his steely gray eyes peered back at her with a rigid and pretentious smile on his lips. He reminded her of a Drill Sergeant.
Her father had looked like that always barking out orders and waiting for everyone to kowtow to his inhuman demands. He lived by only one set of rules--his own--and damned be the person who dared disobey him. Her life growing up with him had been hell and she'd always felt that she was raised in a prison camp instead of a seemingly, normal to the outside world, middle class home with all the comforts and luxuries to satisfy any child. If her father hadn't been in the picture, she would have had an almost perfect childhood under her mother's care.
She hadn't been happy and consequently hadn't felt loved. She'd tried to get close to her father so many times, but the frigid atmosphere around him kept her at bay, thus keeping her from getting to know him and him from getting to know her. As far as she was concerned, he was only the man whose sperm had given her life. There was no love or bonding between them and he seemed contented to keep their relationship that way so she accepted it.
Her mother defended him until the day she died, telling Maggie that she should try to get to know him. It had never done Maggie any good trying to talk to her mother about him. In her mother's eyes, her father was perfect and always would be. She loved him and it was a love Maggie couldn't understand. Occasionally, though, she would catch her mother with a far off look in her eye. At those times her eyes were filled with such sadness that Maggie wondered what really was in her mother's heart. After her mother's death, the relationship with her father deteriorated even further. He was a stranger and their relationship was not destined to change.
She mourned her mother's passing and suffered alone while her father buried himself in his work and she buried herself in her studies. She longed for the long talks and the comforting shoulder her mother freely offered when the high school frustrations of life became too much for her. She filled the void with her friends and activities as her father distanced himself further from her. He provided the necessities of life to her, but little more.
When her father died, she never shed a tear at his funeral, but instead felt relieved watching his casket slowly entering the freshly dug grave. She hated him for all the pain he'd brought to her life, but mostly for never apologizing for that pain. When he died suddenly from a heart attack, she was left alone in the world with no one to give her advice good or bad. She set out to make her mark in the world and had until life dealt her a terrible blow. Now she was here, but Brant would never let her forget where she'd been.
"I'll get your coffee," she said, breaking Brant's penetrating gaze. She returned a couple of minutes later with their beverages. She set the cups on the table, and then made a hasty departure.
As she waited on customers, she occasionally stole glances at Janna and Brant. They had no intention of following up on the invitation; it was just another slap in the face to let her know that they had money, success, and power. Their new house was one more bitter reminder to her of all that she had lost. They infuriated her and their only purpose for ever stopping in the diner was to rub her nose in it. She looked disgustedly at them in their designer clothes amid the regulars who were usually clad in jeans and tee shirts.
Cedar Pines, Pennsylvania was the type of city, which distinctly separated its citizens into two groups--those who had wealth and those who did not. If you fell in the middle somewhere, as did most of the inhabitants, then you lived on the other side of town with the have-nots. But if there was a chance that you might move up the social ladder, you might be able to live on the edge of the wealthy.
Brant was a dark, handsome, well-conditioned thirty-year-old detective in the Cedar Pines Police Department. His salary could never afford him the luxuries he craved, but Janna, at the tender age of twenty-five, was another story. Her inherited wealth matched her beauty; she had too much of both and was not afraid to use either if it got her what she wanted. Brant didn't care whom he used or hurt to satisfy his own selfish desires. When Janna and Brant married, it was a union destined to destroy many lives. They were a formidable team and God help anyone who got in their way.
She stared hard at the both of them sitting on their thrones using their looks and money to draw attention to themselves. She saw the empty shallowness they both possessed on the inside, and knew that some day when their outside beauty faded, if they didn't change their ways, there would be no inner beauty to shine through. They would be two selfish, miserable human beings. Her prophecies brought her little comfort now, though, as she struggled through each day of her life.
"Remember to give us a call when you have a free evening, Maggie," Janna said brightly as Brant squeezed a few bills into her hand. "Keep the change." He tipped his hat.
Maggie struggled to maintain her composure. "I'll let Chris know." She watched their departure.
Shelly Burgess squeezed her arm. "They're quite a pair."
"Yes, but a pair of what?" Maggie replied with a cunning grin as she looked at her co-worker's pretty face. She liked Shelly. She was a slightly over weight, but very hardworking single mother of two active boys Tommy and Terry. Her main goal in life was to raise her boys with the best life she could possibly give them. Her wonderful sense of humor and wholesome friendliness immediately drew people to her.
Shelly laughed and the dimples in her cheeks became prominent. "I hate people like them--especially Janna. She doesn't have a clue what it's like to have to pinch pennies just to keep a roof over your head and food on the table." She sighed wistfully. "I've always wondered why some people have everything and others have to work and struggle so damned hard for everything." Her eyes narrowed. "It seems so unfair. Every time I try to put something into the boys' college fund, I get hit with an unexpected expense. It seems like I can never win."
"I know how you feel, Shell." Her eyes sparkled. "However your two little boys are the best gifts you could ever ask for and nothing in this world or any amount of money could even compare to the joy you get from them."
She smiled. "I know and I thank God every single day for them. I just wish I could do more for them. I don't want them to have just the basic necessities of life." She sighed. "I know I'm such a cliché, but I do want to give them the moon!"
"You all ready have. The love you give them is worth more than any material things that you could ever give them. The quality time you spend playing and talking with them means more to them than any toy ever could. They may not see it now, but someday they will and these times are what they'll always remember--the happy times they spent with their Mom."
"Whenever I'm feeling doubtful, you always put things into the proper perspective for me, Maggie."
"That's what I'm here for, my dear," she said with a wide grin.
Shelly laughed. "You're definitely one of a kind."
She patted Shelly's arm as a pensive look came over her face. "I wonder if Janna was close to her parents growing up. She mentioned nannies and servants as being an integral part of her life, but come to think of it, she never talked about doing things with her parents as a family. That's so sad if the people you were closer to were nannies and servants instead of your own mother and father."
"It must have been lonely for her even though she'd probably never admit it to anyone."
"I'm sure it was and you're right. She'd never let on if it had bothered her. My father is another story, but I remember my mother always being there for me. Some of my fondest memories are when I'd spend hours in the kitchen baking with her and she'd listen to all of my troubles. We'd sit late at night in front of a crackling fire and she patiently taught me how to sew. That's what I mean about what you're doing now with Terry and Tommy, honey."
Shelly nodded. "I guess I'm lucky because I've always been close to both of my parents. Maybe that's part of my problem. I'm trying too hard to be the boys' mother and father." She ran a hand through her short-cropped brown hair. "I know my parents want to help the boys and me, and as much as I appreciate their offer of help, I want to make it on my own. I need to know that I can do this one thing and do it right. Does that make sense to you, Maggie?" She shrugged. "My parents barely have enough to keep their own heads above water, but they would sacrifice their own needs for me and the boys."
"It makes perfect sense to me. You've got a strong admirable character, Shelly, and that is a special gift your parents gave you. Not many young women in your situation would feel the way you do, but instead would probably try to grab everything they could get their hands on. Your extraordinary strength and values are what you're instilling in your own children. Be proud of that. You're doing a great job with them the same as your parents did with you."
"Thanks, Maggie." She sighed as she looked at her tables. "Luke needs a refill. Guess I'd better get back to work."
She nodded. "It's going to be a scorcher out there later on so I guess I'd better get some more iced tea going." * * * *
Later Maggie sat at her kitchen table, a half-eaten salad in front of her. It was too muggy to eat anything hot. Her window fan and the fan in the corner of the kitchen didn't seem to offer much relief from the stifling heat. It seemed to hang in her small trailer making her feel as though she were trapped inside a metal trunk.
She gazed out of the kitchen window at the thickening clouds then slowly stood up, scraping the chair across the worn linoleum floor. She hoped that the impending rainstorm would give some relief to the heat. She was restless tonight and a feeling of loneliness overtook her. She hated these melancholy moods. Sometimes they'd creep up out of nowhere almost suffocating her.
She eyed her meager possessions. This was all she had to show for years of her hard work. It hadn't always been this way. Once she had everything she ever wanted or could possibly want, but that seemed like a lifetime ago now. Right when she was at the top, an error in judgment caused her to topple and land in a crumpled heap back down at the bottom. All she could do was lie there at the bottom wondering what had happened and try to claw her way back to the top. But that was never to be again. Her life would have to begin anew.
Today she lived in a tiny rented run down trailer, barely able to afford the monthly rent and utilities. She was grateful to have her job as a waitress even though it paid only minimum wage plus whatever tips her customers gave her. She had quickly learned that a customer would be more willing to part with his hard earned cash if she were friendly. In time she felt a distinctive bond growing with the regulars, as they became the family she yearned for, filling the empty void within her. Her friendliness towards them soon became less forced and instead, genuinely sincere. She'd grown accustomed to their stories and jokes and when they talked about their families and adventures, she felt like she was a part of their lives.
The brightest spot in her life was Chris Jacoby. He filled the longing in her that no man had ever been able to. He was the strength she lacked and the passion she desired.
She looked out the window again as the first drops of rain began to fall and wondered where Chris was tonight. He worked too hard on and off the job trying his best to give the material comforts she lacked, but most importantly, the love she so desperately craved. Lately he'd become distant and it worried her. Maybe she was so naïve and desperate to hold onto him that she couldn't pick up the signals anymore. Her insecurities gnawed at her.
For the past couple of months Chris had barely touched her and she'd convinced herself that he was just tired from the long hours with his construction job. After all, the nice weather provided the go ahead on many projects that had been held up because of the prolonged winter weather. Doubt slowly crept in. Could the real reason for his aloofness be that he just wasn't interested in her anymore and didn't know how to tell her?
Had she missed every sign he'd been putting up? Why hadn't she been alert to his late hours and frequent nights out with the guys? It was occurring with increasing frequency. Was that the reason he wouldn't relinquish his apartment and permanently move in with her? Had he grown tired of her? Didn't she matter even a little to him? Could he just walk away and forget what they'd shared? Her head throbbed and she rubbed her aching temples wishing she could shut out her screaming fears.