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His Fear Was Real - ZG 16 ebook

His Fear Was Real - ZG 16 ebook

Regular price $5.99 USD
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A mystery thriller from USA Today Bestselling Author, P.D. Workman that will keep you turning the pages!

The truth was buried for a reason

When PI Zachary Goldman's brother Tyrrell asks for his help in uncovering the mystery surrounding the disappearance of a friend, Zachary is skeptical. It has been years since there was any activity on the case and he assumes it is a lost cause.

But as he digs deeper, what begins as a simple case quickly spirals into something far more sinister. Zachary finds himself in a dangerous game of cat and mouse with someone in the shadows who is none too pleased to find someone snooping around the cold case.

With the help of an unlikely ally, Zachary must unravel a complex web of corruption and powerful people if he hopes to uncover the truth before it's too late.

Follow Zachary as he dives into the dark secrets of the past in this gripping story of suspense and intrigue that will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very end!

His Fear Was Real is a thrilling read that will keep you guessing until the very end.

Praise for the series:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Very well written. [Zachary] is flawed with a capital F … In spite of his problems, he is a very sympathetic character and doggedly pursues the truth.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ What a great story. Fabulous plot with interesting and complex characters. I was totally involved into the wee hours. Many twists and left waiting until the end. Highly recommended

Zachary Goldman, Private Investigator, is flawed with a capital F. Shattered by the tragedies of his own life, he will somehow still manage to pick himself up and dig just a little bit deeper than anyone else to piece together the vital clues and solve the mystery.

Maybe being broken makes it easier for others who have faced tragedy to trust him. Walk with Zachary as he solves cases that will stretch his abilities to the limit.

Even with his own life in shambles, Zachary Goldman is still the one you want on the case.

Looking for a suspenseful read that will keep you up all night and stay with you long after the last page?
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This is nice!” Tyrrell looked around the restaurant, his eyes pausing momentarily on one of the TVs showing the game. “Great to have a ‘bro night’ now and then.”

Zachary nodded his agreement. He didn’t want to bring up anything serious yet. He would let Tyrrell get comfortable. Make sure that he was calm and relaxed. See whether he could spot any red flags.

The last time, Zachary had been too casual about it. When Tyrrell had told Zachary that he was a recovering alcoholic, Zachary had thought that he was talking about a long time ago. That he had drunk as a teenager or young adult. Tyrrell had seemed perfectly normal and in control of his life and Zachary hadn’t inquired further to find that he had never been sober for more than a year or two at a time, that he had destroyed his marriage and much of his relationship with his children with drink, and that, due to his history, he was working dead-end jobs despite having a college degree.

Things were better now. Zachary and Kenzie had helped Tyrrell through a recovery program after his last setback, and Kenzie had helped to get him a better job at her family foundation that used some of his skills. All of the signs indicated that Tyrrell was doing well. He assured them that everything was going great. He was enjoying his job, attending meetings, and trying to repair his relationship with Alisha and Mason. They were glad to have Daddy around again, as long as he wasn’t drinking, and Zachary thought it was especially good for Mason, whose extreme ADHD behaviors reminded Zachary of himself at that age, only without the trauma of losing his family after a house fire and growing up in foster care.

But the call from Hillary, the woman who ran the Kirsch family foundation, had raised alarms. She had been very happy with Tyrrell and his work for them. Things had worked out very well in the beginning. But she had expressed some concerns.

Tyrrell had been more forgetful lately. Not doing jobs he had been assigned or not completing them to her satisfaction. He didn’t have to show up at work at a specific time since most of his work was done remotely. Still, he did go to Burlington occasionally to do physical filing and have admin meetings with Hillary, and his attendance those days was beginning later and later.

Zachary and Tyrrell loaded their plates with food from the buffet and returned to their table. Zachary’s wasn’t quite as full as Tyrrell’s, but he could eat more since his meds had been changed and he wasn’t so nauseated. He’d put on weight, which pleased his doctors and Kenzie. But he still didn’t eat huge amounts, even at the all-you-can-eat buffet where it was expected. He wouldn’t finish what was on his plate, but he’d give it his best shot. And while he wanted to keep his weight at a healthy level, he didn’t want to go too far in the other direction and end up overweight.

The way that his cheeks and the hollows under his eyes had filled in as he gained weight meant that he and Tyrrell looked even more alike than they had before. Both had the same dark hair and eyes and similar bone structures. Zachary kept his hair very short, which was easier to take care of and made it less noticeable if he did forget to comb it one morning. Tyrrell’s was longer and a bit wavy. Zachary had cleaned up his three-day scruff of beard before going to the restaurant so that he would look respectable. When he was surveilling someone, following them or spying on them in a crowd, it was better to be unshaven. People avoided looking at him, figuring he was homeless and might ask for money or start talking to them about drunken delusions if they met his eyes. They automatically skimmed over him and wouldn’t remember him later.

Tyrrell was looking good. Zachary saw no signs that he had started drinking again. If he was, it wasn’t enough yet that he had stopped eating and was living primarily on liquids. He, too, was clean-shaven. His eyes were bright with no side-to-side movement.

“What’s up?” Tyrrell asked, apparently noticing Zachary’s scrutiny. Zachary dropped his eyes to his plate and pretended to be busy with his meal.

“Just wondering how you are. Everything going good?”

Tyrrell nodded. “Fantastic,” he declared, but his face did not take on any animation to match the word. “My life is good, Zach. Life is good.”

“How are things going at the foundation?” Zachary cut into his slice of ham and had a couple of bites, pretending that he was not watching Tyrrell and analyzing how long it took him to put an answer together.

“They’re good too.”

“You’re still enjoying it? Not getting bored with all of the filing and computer work?”

“Nah. I love that part of it. After working on construction sites or road cleanup and other jobs I’ve had the last few years…? I enjoy working indoors, filing everything away neatly, doing searches and data entry to pull together profiles on the companies that we deal with. Making suggestions about social programs the foundation might want to be involved with. It’s great. Really.”

Zachary nodded. “No problems? You get along with Hillary?”

“Yeah. Hillary is great.” Tyrrell looked at Zachary, brows drawn down. “Where is all of this coming from? You think something is wrong?”

Zachary cleared his throat and considered the best way to confront the issue. But he’d been trying to figure out what to say ever since he had talked to Hillary, and he still didn’t know. There wasn’t any way to make it sound better.

“Hillary has some concerns.”

Tyrrell put his fork down on his plate and stared at Zachary. “What do you mean, she has some concerns?”

“She said… that you have seemed distracted lately. Forgetting to do things or not finishing them. Showing up late. She knows your history and we’re all concerned about your welfare.”

“I’m not drinking.”

Zachary searched Tyrrell’s face for signs that he was lying. He’d been fooled the last time. Tyrrell had denied it then, too, but Zachary and Kenzie had been right to be suspicious. Would things have turned out differently if they had been more persistent? If they had not let it go once he said that he hadn’t had anything to drink?

“I’m not,” Tyrrell insisted. “You want to have me tested? I’ll do it any time you like. Pee test, blow in one of those personal breathalyzers, hair samples, whatever you like. I’m clean. I have not fallen off the wagon.”

His voice was loud enough that some people at nearby tables were looking over to see what was happening. Covert, concerned expressions. Curiosity written on their faces. It was always entertaining to see someone flip out at a restaurant.

“If you say you’re not… then I believe you.” Maybe he shouldn’t, but what kind of relationship could he have with Tyrrell if he didn’t take him at his word? He couldn’t go around suspecting him all of the time, checking up on him, asking questions about his behavior. How many more “bro nights” would they have if he did that? If Tyrrell was drinking again, he needed his relationship with Zachary more than ever. He needed a strong community of supporters around him, holding him up and cheering him on.

“I told you I’m not.”

“Okay.” Zachary went back to eating his meal, slurping a forkful of Jell-O.

“Okay?” Tyrrell repeated. “Okay? Is that all you’ve got to say?”

Zachary nodded. “Yes.”

“No more probing questions?”

“No. Do you want me to ask more probing questions?”

Tyrrell grinned suddenly, some of the confrontational attitude falling away. “No. That’s quite all right. No apology?”

“Apology for what? Asking you if you’re okay? Following up on concerns that you could be drinking again? Why would I apologize for that?”

“Because I didn’t do anything wrong. I’m sober. I haven’t had a drink.”

“Good for you. I’m glad. Let me know if you have any trouble or need any help.”

Tyrrell picked at his food, dragging a couple of fries through his salad dressing before eating them.

“There is something you could help with.”


Zachary’s shoulders tensed and his heart sped up. He took long, deep breaths and tried to relax his muscles.

“Of course. What can I help you with?”

“It isn’t anything to do with recovery. This is… something different.”

“Sure. Anything.”

“I know I’ve been making mistakes lately at work. Not because of substance abuse. Just because I’ve been… distracted. Like you said.”

“And not sleeping well?” Zachary guessed. There were shadows under Tyrrell’s eyes. Not as bad as the ones Zachary usually sported. But visible if he were looking for them.

“No. Insomnia. Laying awake for a long time before I can get to sleep. And then I sleep in, because I don’t have to be up at a certain time. With the foundation job, I don’t have to check in and out at certain times. I can do what works for me. So, it’s okay if I start late as long as I get the work done.”

Zachary nodded.

“And I know I haven’t been getting all the work done,” Tyrrell admitted. “But that’s just part of… being distracted.”

“So why are you distracted? What’s going on? Something to do with the kids?” Zachary guessed.

“No. You know that case that you had? With your friend from school?”

Zachary shrugged. He couldn’t very well forget it. It had occupied all of his time for a couple of weeks and had resulted in his being kidnapped. So it wasn’t exactly a case that would fade from his mind in the near future.

Was Tyrrell lying awake at night worrying about Zachary? Zachary knew that the abduction had bothered Kenzie. Even though she said that it helped her to face what had happened to her, there had been an increase in her nightmares. Maybe that just meant she was dealing with her own trauma instead of suppressing it. Maybe it was a good sign. But Zachary worried about her. And now, about Tyrrell.

“Is that what’s bothering you?” he asked. “It all got resolved, and I’m okay. It was just one of those… freak things.”

“Yeah, I know. Not sure I like it, but I didn’t know you’d even been kidnapped until it was all over, so…?” Tyrrell grimaced and raised his shoulders an inch. “Okay. That’s just my big brother’s life. Being the hard-boiled detective.”

Zachary laughed. He was anything but. He was nothing like the private investigators in the TV shows and books featuring gun-toting, hair-trigger, hard-fighting, womanizing, but ruggedly handsome private eyes. He didn’t even own a gun.

“So…?” He invited Tyrrell to fill him in on what his case with Jennifer, an old school friend, had to do with Tyrrell’s distraction.

“What was it like, meeting her again? A friend from way back then?”

“It was nice…” Zachary wasn’t sure what Tyrrell was looking for. In actuality, meeting Jennifer had been hard. As nice as she was and as good a friend as she had been back then, she’d brought back memories of a difficult time in his life. A time when he had lived in a group home, he had been off of all of the meds he needed to function, dealing with bullying and all of the crap that teenagers had to deal with at school and abusers within the walls of the home. Jennifer had been a bright light in his life, but it had been a very dark time.

Tyrrell was studying Zachary closely, trying to read all of this. Zachary decided he needed to be more truthful if he hoped to get honesty from Tyrrell.

“She was nice to me then, helped me out at school. She was the only real friend I had for the time she was around. But it was a tough time. And she came to me at the hardest time in her life—after losing her teenage daughter suddenly. So it wasn’t exactly a happy reunion for her either.”

“You must have had other friends.”

“The way that I got moved around, and with the stuff I was going through? No, not really. It was a struggle to get out of bed every morning and get to school. I slept through lessons, couldn’t concentrate on the work when I was awake. Was hypervigilant. Even if some guy had wanted to be friends with me, I would probably have frozen him out, figuring he was just out to gaslight me.”

Tyrrell nodded. Maybe he had experienced some level of the same thing. He had been luckier than Zachary. One of the younger children in the family, he had been through less abuse, and had been removed from an unsafe environment earlier in life than Zachary had. He had been able to stay with Vince and Mindy, the two youngest children, and all three had been adopted together. But he had still had to go through that trauma, and obviously still had the ADHD genes that Zachary did, and their father’s addiction issues. He had dealt with his troubles in his own way.

“With Jennifer… she was in the same group home as I was, so we had contact that way, and she was willing to help me with my schoolwork at home at night. And stood up for me at school. So… I let her in.”

“It must have been good to see her again after all that time,” Tyrrell said. “Especially if she was your best friend.”

Zachary tried to think of a way to encourage Tyrrell without actually lying and saying that he had enjoyed meeting with Jennifer again. “It had been a long time,” he said finally, and looked at Tyrrell expectantly. It was Tyrrell’s turn to contribute and explain his thoughts. What had been on his mind so much that it was disrupting his sleep and work. Maybe if it could be addressed, Tyrrell would be able to move forward rather than falling back on the behavior that had worked before—turning to the bottle.

“I had a friend in school,” Tyrrell said, staring past Zachary. Zachary didn’t think he was watching the TV this time, but replaying his memories. Searching for something.

“Who? What were they like?”

“Robbie. Robert Elder. He was great. Like with your friend, he was the only one I felt like understood me. Everyone we went to school with, even Vince and Mindy… they were normal. You know, white middle-class middle-income folks who had grown up in the neighborhood, lived with one or two of their parents, were going to graduate high school and go on to college and something better in life… like being a doctor, and they would pay their parents back for all of the school bills and everything…”

Mindy had told Zachary that Tyrrell had insisted on paying his own way in college, so that there would be enough money for the younger kids to go to school. Zachary was proud of him for that. He had looked after his younger siblings the best he could, even though he hadn’t been in a situation where he had to. And things had been rocky for Tyrrell. It was an accomplishment that he had gone on to college and graduated with a degree, let alone paid for it himself.

“But Robbie was different?”

“Yeah. He was… I didn’t know his situation, but I think he was in foster care. Or maybe an aunt had offered to look after him. I knew the people he lived with weren’t his parents, and they had a lot of strict rules that seemed pretty unfair to me at the time. I should know more, but I was a teenager. Pretty self-centered. I never asked him all of the details of how he had gotten there. We must have talked about the family he had come from because I knew that it had been a pretty volatile home.”

Zachary understood. “Like ours.”

Tyrrell nodded. “So, we had that in common. This other life we had lived. The fact that we weren’t living with our biological parents. He understood that not everyone lived in this middle-class situation where everything was…” Tyrrell shook his head slightly, trying to find the words. “Clean and pressed. That there was an ugly world out there. And we were going to have to face it again someday. By ourselves.”

Zachary picked at his food, nodding, waiting for Tyrrell to get to the point. What did any of this have to do with today? With slipping up at work? With not being able to sleep at night?

“We hung out together,” Tyrrell said. “Were troublemakers. I’m sure people wished they could just get rid of us. That we would drop out of school and do our thing without bothering everyone else. The principal would lecture us,” Tyrrell rolled his eyes and stared up at the ceiling, remembering. “How the younger students looked up to us. Especially Vince and Mindy. That they would copy our bad behavior. He didn’t even try telling us how we were going to ruin our own futures. I’m sure he didn’t think we had any.”

“Well, you showed him.”

“I guess I did.”

Tyrrell wasn’t smiling about it. He looked much like Zachary had felt discussing things with Jennifer—pulled into a dark vortex of unhappy memories. He sounded alone and isolated. So like Jennifer, Robbie had gone on to bigger and better things. He had left Tyrrell behind, to his own devices. Whether it was his own choice or something he had no control over. Tyrrell had felt abandoned.

“What happened to him?”

Tyrrell looked Zachary in the eye, then away again. “What do you mean, what happened to him?”

“Uh… where did he end up? The two of you lost track of each other?”

“Yeah. Do you think… you could find him? I’ve been thinking, since you had that case, about what it would be like to see him again. Catch up on all the bad old days.”

“I could look for him, sure,” Zachary agreed, relieved that Tyrrell had finally gotten to the point and suggested something he could do. “It probably wouldn’t be too hard to find someone you went to school with. There are name changes and all of that, but most people don’t do that. Even if they do, it’s public record.”

Tyrrell chewed on his lip. “You would do that? And you think you could find something after this long? It’s been decades.”

“I do have some experience in tracing people.”

“And you solved Heather’s case.” Tyrrell referred to their older sister. She had been assaulted years before, and Zachary had been able, mostly through luck, to figure out who had done it and to get him charged. Heather could finally open up and live her life again without worrying that her rapist was still out there somewhere, stalking her or her children. The world became a livable place again, and Heather had blossomed.

“Well, I did,” Zachary admitted. He didn’t want to take all the credit for solving the case. Heather had provided parts of the solution herself. It had been a joint effort. And Tyrrell wasn’t asking him to solve a cold case, just to trace someone he had lost track of over the years. High school grad committees tracked down alumni. It didn’t take a lot of skills.

“If I hired you, you could try to find out what happened to him?” Tyrrell pressed.

“You don’t have to hire me. I’ll do it as a favor.”

“No, I should pay you. You and Kenzie are already doing so much for me. I should stand on my own two feet and cover the cost myself. I mean, it isn’t something I have to do. It’s just something I want to do. A… discretionary expense.”

“Let me see how long it takes,” Zachary said, putting him off. “It will probably amount to nothing.”

Tyrrell shifted in his seat and looked around. “Okay, I suppose,” he agreed.

Rather than seeming reassured by Zachary’s agreement, he seemed more agitated. He fingered his soft drink glass, no doubt wishing he could order something stronger to take the edge off.

“Why don’t you give me his details,” Zachary suggested. “All of the vitals that you can remember. Name, birthdate, where he lived, his foster parents’ names if you knew them, all that kind of thing.”

“Robert Elder. I don’t know if he had a middle name. We never shared them.” Tyrrell tentatively remembered the street Robbie had lived on. And, of course, the school they had gone to. Zachary would check with the alumni committee. They might already know where Robbie was.

“And do you know what years he lived in that house?”

“Months,” Tyrrell corrected. “He wasn’t there the whole school year. I think he’d been there from September and then disappeared in March… maybe April…”

Zachary looked at him. “Disappeared? I thought he was moved to a new family.”

“I don’t know. One day he was there, and then he was gone. Not there anymore. Not in any of my classes. When I went to his house to find out what had happened, he wasn’t there.”

“And they told you he had been transferred to a new family.”

Tyrrell shook his head. “No.”

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P.D. (Pamela) Workman is a USA Today Bestselling author, winner of several awards from Library Services for Youth in Custody and the InD’tale Magazine’s Crowned Heart award, and has published over 100 mystery/suspense/thriller and young adult books.

Workman loves writing about the underdog. She has been praised for her realistic details, deep characterization, and sensitive handling of the serious social issues that appear in her stories, from light cozy mysteries to darker, grittier young adult and mystery/suspense books.

P. D. Workman does not shy from probing the deep psychological scars of childhood trauma, mental illness, and addiction. Also characteristic of this author, these extremely sensitive issues are explored with extensive empathy, described with incredible clarity, and portrayed with profound insight.
—Kim, Goodreads reviewer