A Question of Will - The Aliomenti Saga Book 1


Will Stark ran toward his home as fast as he could, despondent at the likelihood that his wife and son would already be dead when he got there. And it would all be his fault. He ran, not for enjoyment or accomplishment, but in a desperate attempt, no matter how futile, to prevent his wife and son from being brutally murdered.

He had turned thirty-five years old today, an age at which running just over a mile should be simple. He’d focused on his business and his family, though, and his fitness levels had suffered as a result. The lack of exercise and the resulting bit of flab around his midsection weren’t the only physical symptoms that might make one think him older. Wire-rimmed glasses that enhanced his green eyes perched dangerously on the bridge of his nose, the sweat of exertion and terror threatening to jar them from his face and leave him blind in his pursuit of his target. Noticeable patches of gray mixed in with his normally pitch-black hair. The stressful events of this day were unlikely to keep his hair from growing whiter.

The sharp pains wracking his body weren’t entirely due to physical neglect. He’d needed to break into his own highly-secure gated community, climbing over a building and dropping to the ground. He’d twisted his ankle upon hitting the ground, but he’d pressed on. There would be time to deal with that type of pain later. He had to get to his house. The lives of Hope and Josh hung in the balance.

You’re already too late, a voice whispered in his head. The killer had too much of a head start. Visions of their lifeless faces floated before his eyes, causing him to slow momentarily. No, he thought. I will not quit on them. Ever. He pushed on, ignoring the stitch growing in his side, and the screaming ankle that wanted rest and ice, not the pounding of an all-out sprint. He tried to distract himself by finding humor in the fact that he was running at full speed in suit, tie, and overcoat; his shoes were highly polished gems meant for business, not racing. It wasn’t ideal.

None of this was ideal.

Desperate times made people do crazy things, to be sure. There had been numerous attempts to abduct him off busy public streets in broad daylight. His car had been shot at on many occasions. People in the press seemed to forget that he was human, and that he had no more interest in losing his freedom or his life than anyone else. The press enjoyed highlighting his “extravagant expenditures” like the cars with armor-plating and bulletproof glass, the fortress-style walls surrounding his community, the security system in his neighborhood that seemed more extensive than many military bases. They opined that such vast sums of money could have been better spent on other things, implying that the desire of the young multi-billionaire to protect his family from harm was driven by pure selfishness.

He wondered what such people would write about the next day, if his fears became realized.

He knew what he’d write. That he’d failed. He had vowed to keep his family safe, no matter the expense. He’d consulted every security expert he could find, hired the best construction crew, paid for double- and triple-redundancies in every person and system charged with the security of those he loved most. It hadn’t been enough. A killer had gotten inside his sanctuary and was traveling an unguarded driveway to his house. Will’s wife and son were at risk due to his failure.

He ran faster than he’d ever run before, his feet in misery from the brick-like shoes covering them, as he slammed them repeatedly to the ground. His ankle finally gave out, and he was forced to cover ground in a limping hop that tried desperately to resemble a sprint.

You should have let them meet you at the restaurant. They would not be home to be attacked. The inner voice gnawed away at his determination, seeking to replace it with guilt and self-loathing, and it was succeeding. He refocused, and refused to listen. There could be only one way to mitigate those feelings, and that required getting to his house. Quickly.

He rounded the final bend, his home visible in the fading sunlight. It was a large structure, to be sure, though probably smaller than most might suspect from one so wealthy. The brick and stone exterior of the home continued his theme of security, giving the sense of a