Damon Burke had strong family values, a good career, money, friends, and the foundation for a successful life. But he still wanted more than just success in business, and craved the love of a woman and a family of his own. While he had numerous romances, Damon had always prioritized his career over his personal life and failed to find the elusive one to share it all with. That was until he came across the profile of Cassie Caniglia through an alumni network.
Cassie was gorgeous, exciting, enticing, and rich. With a renewed vigor to find personal happiness, Damon could not help but be allured by her and find himself dreaming of a future together. She was everything he had always been looking for, and more. Accepting that, he knew he had to tread carefully to make sure that his dreams did not wind up rushing and sabotaging reality.
But tragedy began drawing Damon into a most dangerous game where everything and everyone he loved was at risk because of his connection to Cassie. While she fights for her very survival to escape the torment of her mob-connected brother-in-law, Damon finds himself desperately trying to help her even knowing that doing so makes him a target. Beyond Belief is a romantic suspense that will lead you down a path so dark and twisted that you will begin to question just what is real and what is mere illusion.
Vicki was lonely. She did not like to be alone. When school was in session she was always surrounded by friends. She was never alone. But her family was away for the holiday and she couldn’t afford the flight to join them. So she asked the Dean to let her stay, and reluctantly she was given permission.
Resident Assistants usually got to stay on campus even after the general student body had to leave, but even then it was just for a few days, not the entire winter break. But she did take a class to justify her staying. It was a quick three-week course that would meet three times a week. Nothing like cramming an entire semester into three weeks. But she hoped it would be good.
But that didn’t stop her from being lonely. She had been so excited when Damon had responded to her comment and said hi. He was cute, even if a bit older than her. He also wasn’t that far away. It was perfect. But no matter what she said he kept saying no. Who said no to someone who looked like her?
She guessed that she must have come across sounding desperate. Desperation was rarely a turn on for guys. Maybe instead of talking about “writing our own chapter” and all of the sexual innuendos, she should have asked him if he wanted to watch Star Wars. She would have done anything to have some companionship.
Vicki was hungry. Nothing on campus was open, so she’d have to go out for food. Not too many places were open this late at night. Fortunately, there was a pizza place over the bridge that was open until 10. She hoped she could make it.
She called first and was overjoyed to hear a human voice on the other end. She just ordered a cheese pizza, nothing elaborate, and then put on sweatpants and a jacket so she could jog across the bridge, get her pizza, and come back.
As an RA, she had the keys to the dorm. The Dean had been especially concerned about her making sure the building was always locked whether she was in there or not. Vicki locked the door to her room and then jogged down the stairs to the front. She glanced out the glass doorways to see the darkness of the December night beyond. She wondered if she had dressed warmly enough, but figured that with jogging she would be fine. She unlocked the door, closed it, and then locked it again.
It was cold out. Especially being this time of night. Vicki began jogging, feeling the warmth of her body struggling to overcome the cold of her surroundings. It wasn’t a far jog, she’d do it.
There were not any cars on the bridge—it was too late for normal traffic—but Route 9 below still had cars driving by. She paused to look down and wondered if she should try to save up and buy a car. She didn’t need anything fancy, just something to get her from place to place. She couldn’t really afford much, but something had to be better than nothing.
Vicki reached the pizza place and stepped in. Since this or Subway was closest to campus, she was becoming quite friendly with the owner.
“Hi Tony, how was business tonight?”
“Ah, Vicki, slow tonight,” Tony said, brimming with excitement by the company himself. “You know, it’s always slow this time of year. People want to go out someplace nice.”
“You make the best pizzas in the state, Tony. This place should be packed no matter when it is.”
“Oh, Vicki, you warm an old chef’s heart!”
She paid for her pizza and wished him a good night before getting ready to leave.
“You still all alone up at the college?” Tony asked.
“Just for a few more days,” Vicki admitted.
“I’ll drive by after I finish cleaning up. Make sure you got home safe and sound.”
“Thanks Tony! See you tomorrow night, I’m sure.”
“Be safe out there,” Tony said.
She knew he was being nice. Framingham wasn’t the nicest town in the world. Not that there was much crime in this area, but there were definitely some unsavory sorts in the town. Drugs, theft, violence, you name it and Framingham had it. It wasn’t that big of a leap to think that some of it would overflow to the campus when nobody was there.
Vicki felt a shiver down her spine before she went out the door and back into the cold. She was anxious to get home now and enjoy her pizza. Maybe Damon had changed his mind and would come after all. That would be nice. If he did respond again, this time she would be a little more low key and see if he would just keep her company. She needed the company.
She jogged over the bridge, a little more slowly this time because she did not want to risk dropping the pizza. She felt more comfortable when she was back on campus. It wasn’t that far to her building.
She froze when she saw a car in the parking lot. She had not seen it when she left. Of course, that didn’t mean that it had not been there, but she hadn’t seen it. As an RA she had seen plenty of things on campus. It was probably just a couple of kids making out in a parking lot that they thought was vacant. She should probably shoo them away or call the police, but with the dorms closed its not like people could have sex in their rooms. She decided to consider it a Christmas gift and leave them be. It was an awfully nice car for college kids though. She wished she could afford a car like that.
Vicki reached her building and fumbled with her keys. She dropped them on the ground and she grimaced as the pizza almost fell, too. “That would be real classic, wouldn’t it?” she said to herself, shaking her head.
She crouched down, careful not to drop the pizza, and picked up her keys. As she stood back up, she saw the reflection of someone else in the doorway. Vicki spun around, the pizza falling to the ground, the lid coming open, and the pizza spilling out.
v v v v v
Tony closed up the pizza shop, cleaned the oven, the shelves, and the kitchen area. He then got everything prepared for the following day. He hoped that he would have a busier day, but he knew that until school was back in session he really would not see the traffic he normally had. His shop was too closely tied to the school semester. If he was smart he would take vacations when the kids were on break and leave this abysmal cold behind and go on a cruise or something.
He locked up the shop and got into his car. He turned the key and winced when the engine did not start right away. His car was getting old, just like him. It needed a break from the cold, too.
“Come on, Papi, come on,” he said as he turned the key again, relieved when the engine turned over this time. He drove to the bridge and across to the college like he promised Vicki he would. He was sure she was fine, but he hoped that someone would look out for his daughters when they were away, and he was sure her parents would appreciate him looking out for her here.
He drove by her building and jammed his foot on the break. The pizza box was lying on the ground, the pizza in front of the door. He shut the engine and got out of the car, looking around for any sign that someone was there.
“Vicki?” he called out hesitantly. He then yelled more forcefully. “Vicki? Can you hear me?”
He crouched down by the pizza box and touched it. The pizza was lukewarm. In this weather, that meant she dropped it not too long ago. He tried the door but it was still locked.
“Vicki!” he called out again. He walked back to his car and dialed the police on his cell phone to report that there might have been a crime. He then opened his glove compartment and took out a flashlight. He hit it a couple of times until the beam came on and then he began walking around the dorm looking for his final customer of the night.
His imagination was running away with him, and none of it was good. He knew something terrible had happened. He could feel it deep down in his bones. Whatever he found, if he found her, would be tragic.
“Vicki!” he shouted again, but still there was no answer. He could hear the sirens. Framingham was good for that at least. Call a cop and it was like they were right there to begin with. But would they be in time to find Vicki?
Then his beam caught the pink of the jacket she had been wearing. “Vicki?” he said, hesitantly again. He walked over, letting the flashlight beam go over her entire body. It was definitely her. Her head was down.
“Vicki!” he shouted as he dropped down beside her. He turned her over and gasped as the warmth of her blood flowed onto his hands and the lifelessness of her eyes stared into his. “Oh Vicki, no, Vicki, no!” he cried, cradling her lifeless body until the police arrived and pulled him away from her.
Review by: Namta Gupta, Bookpleasures
Reviewer: Megha Saraf, Makeup and Beauty Treasure
Reviewer: Chelsie Fletcher
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