Authors: Kathi S. Barton
Force of Nature
Kathi S. Barton
World Castle Publishing
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used factiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locations, organizations, or person, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
World Castle Publishing
Copyright © by Kathi S. Barton 2012
First Edition World Castle Publishing March 20, 2012
This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please 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, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you respecting the hard work of this author.
Cover: Karen Fuller
Editor: Brieanna Robertson
“I’m sorry, Miss Webber. We did try to reach you several days ago when his illness took a turn for the worst. But as he had no number for you…well, I am sorry.”
CJ wasn’t sure what to say to the man on the other end of the phone. She’d really had no contact with her father for over seven years and his death, recent death apparently, didn’t really mean a great deal to her. She’d written him off pretty much the same way he had all those years ago.
“Is there anything I can do for you, Mr. Patrick? I mean, do I have to see to…I don’t know, arrangements?” She had no idea what she would do for him in death that she couldn’t ever do for him in life, but she still made the offer.
“Oh no, Miss Webber. He’d had his arrangements made for several months before his passing. There is a matter of his final resting place, but when you get here we can settle on—”
“Mr. Patrick, I’m not sure how well you knew my father, but we didn’t actually see eye to eye on a great many things. And his final resting place would be better left to someone who knew him better.”
Or at least cared about him
, she thought.
“Yes, I was…it was hard not to know about your relationship with him in a town this small.”
CJ didn’t doubt that, but didn’t say anything. “Well, we could bury him next to your mother, but as I understand it, they had not…we were led to believe that…oh my.”
“Yes, that pretty much sums it up. Don’t put him next to my mom. You can put him in the trash for all I give a care.” When the man started to sputter, she continued. “Look, put him somewhere at the other end of the cemetery. Or better yet, put him in another cemetery altogether. Is that one…Memorial Gardens? Is that still in business?”
CJ hadn’t been back home and wasn’t sure what was there or not. She’d heard of cemeteries going out of business, but never really cared why. She only hoped this one was still there so she could be done with this call.
“Yes, Miss Webber, it’s still there. I believe that would be in the best interest of all parties concerned. Will you…I mean, are you going to be back here in time for the services or should I just…well, start them without you?”
She smiled at his question. “Yeah, you do that. I don’t know when I’ll be back that way.
You have an address now for any outstanding bills he had. My attorney will know how to reach me again if you need anything else. All right?”
“Miss Webber, your father had done well in the later years of his life. There won’t be any outstanding bills. And as I said before, he had already made his arrangements for his death, as well as made sure it was paid for.”
CJ laid her head against the wall of the building. She didn’t really need to hear that right now, but knew that ranting to this man would do her no good. Instead, she simply thanked him and hung up.
Going to her truck, she went to the bed and lay down. She had her eight hour layover and her forced rest time gave her too much time to think. She rolled to her side and grabbed the remote to the little television she had bolted to the shelf above her bed. After flipping through the six stations and finding nothing to keep her mind off the phone call, she decided to actually rest.
It didn’t take her long to realize that she wasn’t going to get any sleep.
She had been born Charlie Jane Webber and almost from birth been called CJ. Her mom, Rebecca Jane Whitehall, had been thirty when she’d been born. After years of trying to have a child, she’d had CJ late in life. Her father, Charles Allen Webber, hadn’t been too thrilled to have a child so late in his life at forty, much less a girl.
She’d been just independent enough not to bother him overly much. CJ seemed to know from the beginning he didn’t much care for her. But she thought now, she had tried to get him to notice her. She’d excelled in school, which only seemed to piss him off. When she’d won a scholarship to Harvard, he’d been happy. She’d be gone and it wasn’t costing him anything.
But at nineteen when she’d graduated with honors, he’d not come to the graduation and had forbidden her mom to go. It wasn’t until months later when she’d come home for a visit that he’d told her in a drunken rage that he’d expected more out of her than a law degree and what the hell was she going to do with it, being only a girl, anyway? But it was what she’d found out he’d done to her mom that had her seeing red.
He’d beaten her. Not just recently, though that was bad enough, but all through their marriage. CJ had been kept in the dark until she had walked in on her mom coming out of the bath one afternoon and her robe hadn’t been where she’d left it.
“What happened? Did you have an accident? Mom, tell me.” CJ won the tug of war with her mom over pulling the towel she’d wrapped around her to hide the worst of it. The bruises when down her back and all over her legs and arms. “Mom?”
“It’s nothing, Charlie, nothing at all.” She was the only one who had ever called her by her given name. “Go on to your room and I’ll come down soon. All right?”
It occurred to her later that she should have pushed. Her mother would have told her, she knew, but CJ hadn’t pressed, neither had she asked again until a week later. That time, when she’d come up on her mom, she had been throwing up blood. And the bruises this time were accompanied by broken bones, three ribs. When her mom passed out, CJ called an ambulance.
That was where she’d found out so much about her parents’ marriage.
Her father had been hurting her mother from day one. He blamed her for everything from his inability to hold down a job to their not being able to have a boy child. The doctor explained that her mom had done a good job of hiding it from everyone but recently, her father had gotten more…mean, he’d said.
“Becky has been in here several times over the past three months. The violence is getting to be more and more dangerous.” CJ looked over at her mom while the doctor explained. “If he keeps this up, he’ll kill her.”
CJ hadn’t left her side the entire two days she was in intensive care. She hadn’t tried to contact her father and didn’t much want him there anyway. When her mom woke up, she tried to talk her into leaving him, but hit a stone wall every time she tired. Ready to wash her hands of both of them, she was sitting there wondering what to do next when the doctor came in to talk to her mom.
The blood work had shown an elevated white cell count and they wanted to run more tests.
More tests, he said, would help them determine if there was cause for concern or simply a bit more testing. Three days later, there was no need for more tests. Her mom had cancer.
It seemed as if she went from bad to worst in no time. Within a few hours, they were moving her to Hospice and when there, they set her up on a drip. To make her more comfortable, they’d said. It wasn’t until the second morning there that they did a few more tests to find that her mom had a very rare type of cancer and that she had had it for some time.
“If found early, we may have been able to fight it better, but now…well now, Mrs. Webber, it has taken its hold and the only thing we can do is make you comfortable.”
“Comfortable? I don’t understand. Why can’t you operate, or give her chemo or something?
Fight it with something?”
The doctor looked at her then her mom. A message seemed to pass between them that now, finally, years later, she understood. Then it had only pissed her off. Her mom had known she was dying. Not only that, but she’d known it for several months and had hoped, she finally told CJ, that her dad would kill her and she’d not have to suffer. She didn’t much like him, she’d said, but she didn’t know what else to do when she’d gotten sick.
Her mom had lasted another month. In that month, her father had come to the hospice center only twice. Once when she’d first been admitted, the second time when her mom had requested him to come. CJ had been asked to leave the room. Her father had stayed for a little over twenty minutes then he’d left. Her mom died three days later after slipping into a deep coma and never coming out.
The funeral was a week later. She’d been instructed to call her grandmother, her mom’s mother, and let her know. It had been a shock to find out she’d had a living grandmother, but it seemed she didn’t like Charles Webber any better than her granddaughter did. And he’d proven how much he hated his daughter at the graveside.
CJ had sat next to her father with her grandmother on her other side. When the minister had said his final prayer, everyone had gotten up to pay their lasts respects. Phil Campbell, a friend of hers from college, had come to her to wish her well when her father had turned to her.
“She’s dead and I’m not going to pretend any longer.” The hand that hit her knocked her back against her mom’s casket had bloodied her mouth and blacked her eye. “You stay the hell away from me. We’re through, you hear me? You’re not my kid any longer. I didn’t want you in the first place and now that your mother is gone, you will no longer darken my door.”
CJ didn’t move when he stormed off. Hundreds of mourners had witnessed the scene and she wasn’t so much humiliated as she was stunned. Phil had helped her up and her grandmother had helped brush her off. It wasn’t until she found herself in a limo that she spoke.
“He really hated me, didn’t he? Why? I didn’t ask to be born. I didn’t…I have no one.”
“Yes. I knew that he resented Becky getting pregnant, but I never…I guess I should have known the selfish bastard would do something like this. I’m sorry, baby,” her grandmother said before pulling her into her arms. “But you have me and this nice young man. I’ll bring you home with me. We’ll be fine.”
Her grandmother, Angeline Marston, had lived for another four years and it was easier for CJ to while not accept her mom’s death, to learn to have it hurt a lot less. The old bat, CJ now thought with a smile, had left her everything. As her mom, her grandmother’s daughter, had left everything to her as well, CJ had a nice tidy nest egg.
When her phone rang about an hour after talking to the funeral home, she didn’t bother looking at the ID. There was only one person in the world with this number and that was her best friend Phil.