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Thriller
(Fic)
Pins and Needles
by Barry B. Wright


Edward Slocum, vice-president of Kemkor Pharmaceuticals, becomes suspicious of the possibility of illegal activity by his present employer. As his suspicion mounts, he finds himself mired in events that may change both his life and the community he lives in. Unable to trust his co-workers and local authorities, he comes to learn much more than he ever wanted—about his wife’s death, Kemkor’s real agenda and the strength of his own moral resolve. "Sounds interesting!"

Chapter 1
Building 3C

Pins and Needles

Billy Talent



SHE WAS DEAD, THERE was nothing he could do about it, now; he had to accept it. But there was more. He had stumbled badly; he had come up short. He knew that he had unwittingly failed in what he had come to realize was the only worthwhile endeavor. Still, there must have been signs before she, they, were swallowed whole forever. In his self-made purgatory of grief and shame, he found no solace where once triumph and achievement reigne...



Chapter 2
"The Chronicle"

EDWARD SURVEYED THE STREET below his office as he chewed over the previous night’s disquieting events around Building 3C. For a moment his gaze drifted along the main street and lingered at the intersection where his wife, Karen, had died two years ago. After a deep sigh, he returned to his desk. Hovering over it, he rapped his knuckles on its surface as he remembered Constable Paul Dickenson’s askance expression and not-too-subtle reference to the empty scotch glass and uncapped bottle on th...



Chapter 3
Memories

EDWARD ROLLED HIS CHAIR out from behind his desk and over to the pile of binders and folders that Nadia had left earlier. On top of the folders was a large plastic envelope, and he wondered how he’d missed it earlier. Only his name and KemKor’s address was on the envelope. He opened it. The summary report and testing results by Grynberg Laboratories and Research Facility of Brampton for one of the small filtering devices to be used in his system spilled out in front of him. He had waited five...



Chapter 4
Coming to Terms

AFTER THE BOARD MEETING as he mingled among KemKor’s representatives and government officials—Premier Bolsover having already left—Edward couldn’t help thinking that the accolades being showered on him were somewhat premature; the efficacy of his new filtering system was still untested on a large scale. Experience told him that start-up costs always exceeded projections, and he had no doubt that his system, by the time it was up and running, would be no exception. Yet right or not...



Chapter 5
"Body and Soul"

EDWARD WALKED ACROSS THE parking lot trying to juggle the rolled-up Chronicle and flowers in one arm, and his briefcase and a package of baby bottles in the other. He smelled the medley of flowers that Nadia had ordered for him from the boutique and was pleased with her choice.

Before leaving KemKor, he had called Grynberg Laboratories and spoken to Irving about the viability of his idea of collecting downstream samples; he conveyed that he already had effluent scrapings. Irving held out greater ho...



Chapter 6
Camilo and Andres

AN HOUR LATER EDWARD TURNED into his drive, passing the Pine Meadows sign he and Karen had made shortly after they had bought this property. The wooden sign showed an unusual rate of weathering; paint had blistered like tiny teardrops across its surface. Rail fencing, five rails high, lined the front of the property and along one side of the driveway. In front of the fencing, pine and cedar trees led the way to his home.

When Edward finally exited the Wrangler, his gaze, as always, skirted the tree...



Chapter 7
The Rendezvous

CHRIS STEDMAN CAREFULLY MANOEUVRED his Silverado along the Valley River Gorge Road far enough behind Edward so as not to be detected. After glancing at his watch, he swore under his breath and wished that he was home enjoying dinner and watching a movie on Moviepix rather than following this asshole. He wiped away the rivulets of sweat from his forehead with his forearm.

His dark complexion had a blue teardrop tattoo inscribed under his right eye, and he was proud of it. He had earned it by killing...



Chapter 8
Hunter and Hunted

EDWARD PLOUGHED THROUGH THE pungent fragrance of humus, rotten vegetation, sodden logs and moss-covered rocks on a pathway that was deceivingly simple and straightforward at first. The footpath challenged his mettle as it snaked, twisted and turned, rising sharply one minute, plunging the next and banking steeply to the right and then to the left as it followed the river’s course. While en route, he had found an acceptable walking stick, and now he used it to brace himself against the path’s ...



Chapter 9
No Swimming

JANET THOMPSON DRAGGED HER canoe through stinky blooms of algae to the shoreline by the Epping Road. She couldn’t remember when this part of the Beaver River appeared like this. When she glanced up, she saw Charlotte Bradley waiting on the shore, a sign tucked under her arm. She glanced down. "More of this stuff downstream?" Charlotte nodded. “Used to be a piece of cake,” Janet called out in her gravelly voice as she slipped and then regained her footing. She blew away a wisp of white h...



Chapter 10
Premier Bolsover

PREMIER BOLSOVER’S DARK BLUE limousine pulled into the circular driveway of William Wardlaw Rattray’s property and came to a stop in front of the white portico adorning the front of the house.

Rattray’s 19th-century, two-and-half-story house was stately and was built of red brick from the Parker Brick and Glass Factory. The portico gave the front entrance a sense of majestic splendour while solid oak double doors, which were inlaid with decorative floral glass, conveyed terra firm...



Chapter 11
The Search

SWEAT DRIPPING FROM THEIR foreheads, Ken and Doug searched the edge of the embankment. Hawthorn branches and snarled cedar twigs scratched their faces and inhibited their frenzied quest to find Edward’s body.

“I nailed him, I know I did! But where the hell’s his body?” protested Ken as he removed a thorn from the palm of his hand.

Doug stopped and shooed away a cluster of mosquitoes circling him with his hand and continued to plow through the jungle of foliage in front...



Chapter 12
A Close Call

ON HER WAY HOME Charlotte, who was worried about Janet, decided to detour via the Barr Head Road and swing over to the Valley River Gorge Road. Not wanting to make a mountain out of molehill, she decided against the 911 call, convinced that if Janet had thought that there had been any real danger, she would have encouraged her to do it.

The temperature gauge in her car read forty degrees Celsius. The air-conditioning had broken down several months ago and, somehow, she had never got around to getti...



Chapter 13
Out of the Rabbit Hole

EDWARD FELT CLAUSTROPHOBIC. A surge of panic rippled through him as he attempted to focus his eyes. The stale air made him nauseous. The side of his face felt wet, and the tip of his tongue tasted like salty mixture of perspiration and blood. His head felt terrible. He slowly moved his hand up the side of his face until he felt the wound above his ear. A blood drop landed on the ground where others had preceded it, and above the posterior hairline was a nasty bump. Somehow, he had managed to contort his ...



Chapter 14
The Trip to Kimberley

THE SUN HAD ALREADY begun to cross to the western horizon as Bolsover’s limo sped along County Road 13 to his cabinet meeting. He slid the opaque divider that separated him from the front seat open and surveyed the road ahead through the windshield. Vibrating heat waves had created several large mirage puddles ahead. It was an effect Bolsover had been fascinated with since childhood. He watched as his route unfurled like a black ribbon, first falling gently and then dramatically as it spilled into ...



Chapter 15
The Incident on North Line Road

CONSTABLE PAUL DICKENSON PARKED his police van beside Charlotte’s Prius at the entrance to the Valley River Gorge Road. After the usual cordiality, Constable Malone went to get their search dog, Rusty, from the back of the van while Paul went over Charlotte’s earlier report to 911. When he finished, Paul tried to reach Edward at both his home and workplace.

“Hmm,” Paul mumbled under his breath as he returned the cell to its holder on his belt.

“No luck?” Ch...



Chapter 16
Camouflage Uncovered

“EDWARD, ARE YOU ALRIGHT? Can you walk?” Paul asked, kneeling beside him.

When Edward finally opened his eyes, he felt relief to see Paul’s friendly face. “Yes...no…I don’t know.” Edward’s reply was garbled; his mouth felt full of marbles. Rusty licked Edward’s face and he pulled the Labrador close to him, hugging him.

Paul and Richard helped him to sit up while brushing off his clothes. “How’s that?” Paul asked.

&ldquo...



Chapter 17
The Break-in

EDWARD HAD BEEN IN and out of Markdale’s Emergency Department within two hours. The wound above his ear had been cleaned and a new bandage applied. He also had been given enough Tylenol tablets with codeine and antibiotics to tie him over until he got his prescription filled

Paul turned onto the North Line Road toward Edward’s home. “Ya say somethin’?” Paul asked. “I’m sure I heard you mumble something.”

“You did. I’m really pissed o...



Chapter 18
San Vicente del Calguan

ANDRES CLUNG TIGHTLY TO Camilo’s waist as they cantered along the road to their house. He knew Camilo would want to gallop the rest of the distance, and he wanted no part of it. Camilo ignored his entreaties to stop. Jagged pain radiated outward from Andres’s spine to his rib cage as the horse sped-up. He slapped Camilo’s shoulder and screamed, “Let me down!” Camilo pulled tightly back on the reins and the horse lifted its front hooves high in the air. Andres grasped Camilo&...



Chapter 19
El Zorro!

ANDRES TRUNDLED DOWN THE laneway to his house. He felt a welcoming warmth of reassurance when he saw the soft glow of light spilling onto the front veranda from the windows. Wedges of light streamed from the doddy haus built at the side of the house. He was surprised that the Gothic-pointed window above the front door was in darkness since, on a normal night, he and his brother would be upstairs getting ready for bed.

Ahead of Andres, the laneway forked. One branch of the drive led to the house, wh...



Chapter 20
The Egg-Packaging Facility

ANDRES ENTERED THE EGG-PACKAGING facility with Chris. Slightly ahead of them, Doug, Ken and Camilo followed Garcia. Lingering behind, Andres watched as women worked at the egg processors while a handful of men, on forklift trucks, either brought skids of empty egg cartons to the front of the operation or picked up skids of cartons filled with eggs from the other end. The finished skids went immediately to either waiting refrigerated trucks at the shipping docks or into large coolers for later transport. ...



Chapter 21
Equations on the Ground

IT WAS ABOUT 5:30 Thursday morning when Edward was jerked out of a deep sleep. Groggy, disoriented and in his recliner—sitting upright—he waited for his eyes to focus.

Scattered across the surface of the coffee table were two large pizza boxes strewn with crusts and tomato-stained serviettes. Beside them were two empty bottles of wine. Opposite him, Charlotte slept on the unfolded down futon, a blanket drawn tightly up around her neck.

Edward stood up and stretched out the kinks i...



Chapter 22
Edward Visits "The Chronicle"

EDWARD PICKED UP THE sheet of paper from the kitchen table that had fallen on the ground earlier. Folding it he put it in his pocket. He hoped that Urquiza hadn’t had a good look at the contents of the sheet while it lay on the ground, because if he had, Urquiza would have known that Charlotte had lied to him about the folders and binders being Ministry of the Environment property. And, that meant their secret was already compromised. Edward put a call through to his administrative assistant, Nadia...



Chapter 23
Entry to Building 3C

EDWARD PARKED IN FRONT of Shoppers Drug Mart and got out. He still hadn’t heard back from Nadia about which security guard would be at the front desk. Taking his cell phone from his pocket, he was about to phone her when he received a call from Charlotte.

“Hi, Charlotte! Wrong sister received my brain waves.”

“It’s Janet. What’s this stuff about ‘wrong sister’ and ‘brain waves’?”

“Ah, skip it—it’s just s...



Chapter 24
Sherlock, Mycroft and Watson

WORKING FROM HOME WAS a luxury Edward had rarely afforded himself, and he wished that he had done it more often. He put his pen down. The picture of Karen on the shelf above his desk forced him to reflect. “Would it have made a difference if I’d stayed home that evening?” he whispered under his breath. Taking in a deep breath and letting it out slowly, he rolled his chair closer to his desk and picked up his cell. Anxious to get the powder samples into Grynberg’s hands for testing...



Chapter 25
Blackwell Steps into the Arena

THE SAUNA-LIKE CONDITIONS had not dampened the crowd’s enthusiasm as Charles “Chuck” Blackwell, a tall, slender man, rose to thundering applause after Edward had introduced him as the next premier of Ontario. Relinquishing his dress jacket and tie to an aid, Blackwell rolled up his sleeves and undid the top two buttons of his shirt as he walked toward Edward. After a brief handshake and hug, he stood at the podium and waited for the crowd to quiet down. “Why are you here?” h...



Chapter 26
The Package from Hobbs

EDWARD SLIPPED OUT OF the VIP tent searching for Charlotte and Janet and found them schmoozing with another couple at the barbecue buffet table. Standing off to one side, he perused the long table. His eyes fixed on the dessert trays. In the process of making a beeline toward them, Janet slipped in beside him.

“Edward? How did everything go?” she asked, cocking her head in the direction of the VIP tent.

Edward eyed a strawberry tart and was more interested in procuring it than tal...



Chapter 27
Rahim's Unfortunate Decision

Rahim’s Unfortunate Decision

WILLIAM RATTRAY SAT ALONE in the back corner of the VIP tent. It was the only table that had not been cleared. While swirling the contents in his champagne flute, he watched the catering personnel as they packed the silverware, fine china and crystal glassware from the tables. The tables lined both sides of the VIP tent, creating a large cleared central area that optimized movement and closeness to Blackwell earlier. Large, tied-off garbage bags t...



Chapter 28
Bandeja Paisa

THE DOCUMENT COMMISSIONED BY Rattray weighed heavily on Urquiza’s mind as he journeyed along the path to the egg factory. At the entrance to the facility, he stopped, tapping the rolled document against his open palm. An approaching vehicle captured his attention. When the driver exited, he approached him, and they embraced each other warmly. “Antonio, it’s not like you to be so tardy.”

Antonio shrugged. “I’m sorry. My lateness couldn’t be helped. I ran int...



Chapter 29
A Call from Leonard Palladin

THE PHONE BESIDE HIS bed rang five times before Edward finally climbed out of a deep sleep to answer it. “Yes?” he said over a long yawn.

“I thought you’d be awake by now.”

Edward sat up in bed trying to shake off the sleep. It was 9:30 am. “Irving? Where the hell have you been?”

“Long story. Anyway, what’s so important?”

“Where are you right now? Did you get that note I left at your house?”

“I&rsq...



Chapter 30
Parker Bridge

“WHAT ON EARTH ARE you doing there?” Janet asked, nodding toward Charlotte’s cell phone as she parked her Camaro at the entrance to the Valley River Gorge Road.

“I’m texting.” Charlotte replied, preoccupied.

Janet rolled her eyes. “I can see that! May I enquire as to whom you are texting?”

“You may,” she replied matter-of-factly. Her eyes remained focused on her iPhone.

“Well?”

A smile creased the corner...



Chapter 31
The Fire

GRYNBERG LABORATORY WAS LOCATED on the top floor of a ten-story red-brick building on Hurontario Street, in the City of Brampton. When the elevator doors opened, Edward turned right and followed the hallway to its end. He knocked several times on the door before Irving finally opened it. Irving’s disheveled appearance shocked Edward. He peered over his shoulder into his office. On the floor in front of Irving’s desk was a mattress. After a brief awkward silence, Edward asked, “Well, are...



Chapter 32
Edward Wakes Up in Hospital

EDWARD WOKE UP ON a gurney in a curtained-off area in the emergency ward of Brampton Civic Hospital. The nasal cannula connection to the oxygen source on the wall, the IV, and vital signs monitor leads hampered his movement. Except for the hospital gown, he was naked. Under the curtain surrounding him, he could see several brightly coloured Adidas scurrying about. Occasionally, black-laced shoes or brown leather slip-ons stopped outside his curtain before quickly moving on. The activity was frenzied. He ...



Chapter 33
The Meeting at Blackwell's House

NORTH OF CALEDON, EDWARD pulled to the side of the road and phoned Dickenson. When he began to relate to Paul what had transpired in Brampton, Paul abruptly interrupted him to tell him that Peel Regional Police had already contacted him, and he was aware of the incident. Then, he began to relate his concerns for Charlotte and Janet and the location of their last text. 

Paul interjected: “What the hell are they doing down at the Gorge?” 

“They think my Wrangler&rsqu...



Chapter 34
Antonio's Late Night Visit

MATTHEW BOLSOVER, THE SOON to be ex-Premier of Ontario, sat in his air-conditioned home office. On his desk was an open binder of documents that needed to be read and signed before he reentered the Legislature later that day. He glanced at the wall clock. It was 3 a.m. He poked at the documents like a child deciding whether to eat his broccoli. Normally, all this paperwork would have waited until later in the day, but he was unable to sleep. An hour earlier, he had made love to Diane Rattray. Resting his...



Chapter 35
The Red and White Kangaroos

THE APPLE TREE’S BRANCHES swayed leisurely scratching gently against Andres’s window pane. Crimson, pink and purple were pasted on a thin ribbon across the horizon as the veil between night and day slowly lifted.

Andres punched at his feathered pillow several times as he tossed and turned, trying to sleep. Except for his briefs, he lay naked on top of a thin sheet He turned over onto his back. A chill swept over his body and he climbed under the sheet. Below his room, he could hear his ...



Chapter 36
A Decision is Made

CAMILO WAS SURPRISED TO see his brother up and about so early in the morning, and it garnered suspicion on his part. He couldn’t remember a time when he didn’t feel contempt for Andres. He never understood where it came from, when it began, how it started or why. It just was.

Camilo shivered in the coldness of the air-conditioning. Dressed in a T-shirt with “G_ F_CK Y_ _RS_LF” and “Care to Buy a Vowel” written across its front, black shorts and blackstrap Naot sa...



Chapter 37
Girl Stuff

IT WAS SEVEN A.M Monday. The sauna-like conditions heralded another scorcher for the week. Dressed in a white short-sleeved dress shirt, red tie, dark brown pants, matching socks and slip-ons, Edward climbed into the Equinox and flung his sports jacket along with the package containing Irving’s test results on the seat beside him. Air conditioning at full blast, he slowly reversed down the drive onto the North Line Road. A few minutes later he turned onto the Glenelg-Artemesia Townline toward Markd...



Chapter 38
Where Did She Go?

EDWARD’S MORNING STARTED BADLY. Not only had Chris Stedman, head of security, gone on holiday for two weeks, but no one, including Doug Irwin, Chris’s assistant, knew diddly squat about what Edward was asking.

Edward gritted his teeth in anger. After a few deep breaths and slowly counting internally to ten, he inquired whether the surveillance cameras had been activated in the area surrounding Building 3C.

“No, sir!"

"And why not?" If he could have throttled someone at...



Chapter 39
Questions Unanswered, Truths Unfolding

JOHN ELKHART HAD A spacious corner office. The expansive array of windows provided a stunning view of the Beaver Valley and the seasonal ebb and flow of nature. The door to his office was wide open. Located just outside his office was Lola Albright, his administrative assistant. Opposite her was a neatly arranged round table with some magazines and two chairs. In the corner was a brewing system for coffee, tea, latte and cappuccino.

She greeted him in her usual joyful manner. “Hi, handsome,&r...



Chapter 40
The Meeting with James

AT FIVE O’CLOCK EDWARD stood outside the reception area to John Elkhart’s office. Lola Albright's demeanor was anything but comfortable when she saw him. From Edward's point of view, she appeared to be searching for a location to hide when she saw him.

“I feel so horribly embarrassed, Mr. Slocum.”

Edward quickly figured out from John’s closed office door what was troubling her. “It’s not you who should feel embarrassed, Lola,” he replied, grindi...



Chapter 41
Their Snooping on Green's Farm Begins

“SLOW DOWN, I CAN’T see a thing out here!” complained Charlotte, attempting to keep her voice down to a whisper. Janet barreled ahead of her through the tall grass. “Damn mosquitoes!” Barely five minutes had passed since she and Janet had left their vehicles on East Line to begin their trek across the back field of Greens’ Farm The moonless sky and lack of familiarity with the terrain had made the journey treacherous for her. “Damn.” Her foot caught another...



Chapter 42
A Perilous Journey

“HO-HO HOO-HOO.” HUDDLING IN the bushes, Janet emulated the call of the Great Horned Owl again. “Ho-ho hoo-hoo.” No reply. In the distance, she could make out several beams of light moving through the field that she and Charlotte had come through earlier. Removing her balaclava, she pushed it into her back pocket and wiped the sweat from her face with her sleeve. The footpath between the conference centre and cabin was clear. Moving closer to the pathway, she tried again. “H...



Chapter 43
The Old Root-Cellar

CHARLOTTE REACHED THE EDGE of the egg factory and disappeared into the darkness alongside it as the floodlights came on at the front. Startled, she lost her footing and stumbled into a shallow stony culvert used for rain run-off that ran the length of the building. She grimaced in pain. Unexpectedly, another set of floodlights above her went on, lighting the tall grass and copse beside her. Frozen in place, she knew she could not linger too long, but worried about why Janet had not entered with her. She ...



Chapter 44
Juarez Acts Decisively

THE TWO MEN AT the top of the stairs remained motionless, their faces cloaked in shadow. The heavyset man turned to the leaner one. “I told you they weren’t the proper zip-ties. We should have kept someone in here to keep an eye on them.” Charlotte’s and Janet’s attention remained fixed on the landing as the men stepped into the dimming light. One of them was Camilo.

“Damn it! Maybe so. But, how the hell did they get out of them?” retorted Camilo. “I&...



Chapter 45
Their Escape Begins

“HURRY! THERE'S SO LITTLE TIME!" Juarez insisted. "Janet, are you able to move? Good! That’s your job, Charlotte, to take care of her. Andres, help me move Stedman over there.” He pointed to the far corner. “No one should see him until they’re well into the room, and by then, it will be too late.” As they dragged Stedman to the corner, he noticed Nadia’s involuntary shiver. “You’re not going to be bothered by anyone the likes of him again,” he r...



Chapter 46
Backing Out is Hard to Do

ANDRES STEPPED AWAY FROM the truck and cautiously began to walk toward his brother. Juarez gently grabbed Andres's forearm and whispered: “I’ll take care of this.” For a moment Andres resisted. Though the brothers were not close, Juarez could see the concern and fear for his brother's well-being in Andre's eyes. “Everything will be alright, Andres. Trust me. Now, head off to Thornton's farm. Off you go.”

“Wait! He’s not going anywhere. You know my uncle's o...



Chapter 47
Exposed

PANIC SURGED THROUGH ANDRE'S body. The maple tree ahead of him made an exit barely possible. Juarez and Antonio were already greeting the new arrivals when he decided to shift the transmission into drive. Slowly easing forward, he felt relief when he passed the maple tree. Sharply turning the steering wheel to miss the corner of the root cellar, he pressed down hard on the accelerator. The truck weaved, kicking up dirt and stone as it hit the gravel drive. Focused ahead, he sped along the long drive to t...



Chapter 48
Carmella Returns

JANET AND CHARLOTTE WERE trying to administer a sedative to a very reluctant Carmella when Jennifer alerted them that the truck was slowing down. When the truck came to a full stop, a cacophony of men's voices surrounded them. Charlotte immediately placed her hand over Carmella’s mouth to muffle her moans and keep her head still. Each in turn, then wrapped a leg around one of Carmella’s to prevent further movement. Janet tightened her grip on the Glock. Kill any sonofabitch that gets betw...



Chapter 49
A Wet and Stormy Night

TWO DAYS AFTER THE raid, Edward and Charlotte drove to the hospital with the hope that they would learn more about Andres’s condition. But, four hours later, they left without so much as an encouraging word. After he dropped her off at Janet's, he returned home through a heavy downpour.

Edward closed the front door behind him and hung up the car keys on the key rack by the door. In the background, he heard a flapping sound. Removing his wet jacket, he hung it up on the oak coat tree and went ...



Chapter 50
John Makes His Point

CHARLOTTE EXITED THE BEDROOM in an oversized cotton red tracksuit with a double white line running down both the arms and legs. She wore floppies on her feet. Her hair, normally in a ponytail, hung loose to let it dry. “Have you got something I can hold these pants up with?” she asked Edward.

“I’ve got some string in the kitchen, if that will do.”

“I guess it will have to. Where is it?”

“The set of drawers over there. Third from the top.&r...



Chapter 51
Joining the Dots

JOHN PULLED OUT A stapled document from the folder. “You’ve heard of San Vicente del Caguan?” He scrutinized the faces staring at him. “I bet you didn’t know that Camilo’s and Andres’s dad was the head of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—FARC for short—in that region?” he added, continuing to survey the two of them. “No, I didn’t think you did. Here’s something you may or may not be interested in: five years ago, the ...



Chapter 52
On Pins and Needles

BARELY FIVE MINUTES HAD passed since John had left through the window in Edward’s office. And it was as if the fury of wind and rain had been mysteriously taken away with his departure. Distant sirens, once undulating through moisture-soaked atmosphere, had now become clarion and crisp as they drew nearer.

Charlotte placed her hand on Edward’s and squeezed it lightly. Moments passed until his hold on the document softened, and he surrendered it to her. Sliding the document toward her, s...



Chapter 53
The Missing Piece of the Puzzle

HIS GUN TRAINED ON Edward and Charlotte, Paul backed into the living room and pulled out his cell phone.

“Stop where you are and put the phone down.” John Elkhart commanded from the office entrance.

“Somehow I knew you weren’t far off. Nice setup,” Paul sneered.

“Nice setup? What the hell is he talking about, John?” Edward asked. Feeling alarmed, his gaze shifted between the two men hoping for an answer.

Paul said, “Well, you see, Ed...



Chapter 54
The Unlikely Visitor

BY THE TIME EDWARD had arrived at the hospital, both Charlotte and John were in the operating room. Another three hours passed before he learned that Charlotte’s operation had gone well and that she was in post-operative care. Unfortunately, there was no word about John, and none expected for a few hours. Since he would not be allowed to visit Charlotte for several hours, he decided to return home. It made things easier when Natasha told him she would call him once she knew.

The crime scene t...



Chapter 55
More Tubes than an Octopus has Tentacles

“JAMES? DESCRIBE CHARLOTTE’S SO-CALLED mother,” Edward asked. He listened intently to James’s quick description of the woman, then began to snigger.

“What’s so funny?” James inquired, appearing somewhat peeved by his reaction.

Natasha intervened, asking, “It’s Janet, isn’t it, Edward?”

“Yipe! Janet is known to be slightly melodramatic. That irascible, cantankerous old lady, conned you, James. Now, don’t you da...



Chapter 56
A Welcomed Distraction

EDWARD SWIRLED THE ICE in his scotch glass; he felt emotionally exhausted. Most of his day had been spent with Janet, sitting at Charlotte’s bedside. Unlike his earlier visit with Charlotte, and this troubled him deeply, she lapsed in and out of consciousness. And no matter how reassuring the doctors and nurses had tried to be, he continued to worry.

The white envelope which had been left by John sat on the table beside him. On it were written Blackwell’s name and the name of a motel. J...



Chapter 57
New Beginnings

EDWARD HELPED CHARLOTTE OFF with her coat and knitted hat and hung them on the clothes tree by the front door. “Not a bad day for October. Bit of a chill in the air, though. How do you feel?"

“Tired. I’m surprised with how long it's taking for my energy to return. The sun and fresh the air did help.”

“That’s a beginning, a good beginning. You can't forget that you've gone through a lot. Look, why don’t I start up a fire and open a bottle of Coffin Ri...




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