Tuesday 21 April 2015

Be careful what you wish for.

I had wanted a cabin by water since I can remember. As a child, my parents took us to a cabin in the summer for two weeks. We would fish off the wharf and if lucky have the catch for dinner. My brother always seemed to get a couple, my Dad too. Sister Jen and I hardly ever caught any but if we did, a big fuss was made of our catch.

I had just signed the papers to a small place at Copper Cove delighted as I had not taken a holiday for five years and saved every penny I could. The first to phone was my brother Mike, he promised to visit and if the place needed any repairs, I could count on him to help. Jen was happy for me but having two small babies she had no plans this summer to come see it.

Up before the sun I headed out, my car loaded, driving for two hours. I turned down the dirt road that led to the cabin. Finally arrived, jumping out of my car hollering, “It’s all mine.” It had wiped all my savings. I did not care, I owned it full out. Unpacking the trunk and backseat setting all of it on the porch, rifled my bag for the keys. Performing a little dance of triumph before unlocking my door.

The owner, a woman who had lost her husband last summer to a boating accident had left the place spotless, even a vase filled with flowers and herbs with a note of welcome, hoping I would have as many good times here as her family had done.

Finally settled, with all put away I took to the porch with a glass of wine, crackers and cheese. My stomach let me know the hurried coffee and toast had disappeared quite sometime ago.
I could see a boat coming towards the wharf, a man waved and slowed as he passed. Looking at the thermometer attached to the porch. I was surprised to see it was over 75 degrees. It was getting close to four in the afternoon.

I headed down to my wharf with a chair. The water calm a dark azure, with a slight breeze as I immersed my feet in the water. Looking out across the lake, I could see three cabins nestled in between trees to give them all privacy. I was the only place for a quarter of a mile on this side, glad not to have people right beside me. Tall trees clustered behind and on each side of the cabin for a cooling effect, but none in front to shade the cabin. A fusion of wild flowers covered the ground. The previous owner had said they would come here in the fall and not have to use the fireplace until late October.

Being up so early plus the fresh air, I must have dozed off in my chair. I awoke to a male’s voice saying, “Hello.” I bolted from my chair just about landing in the lake as two strong hands caught me pulling me down on the wooden planks. His dark eyes pierced
through me, his smile showed a broken tooth, a slim build hovered over me, until I scrambled to my feet feeling foolish.

He introduced himself as Jake who was new to the area, and was looking for a place to park his camper in the area for a few days fishing. He just wanted to know if it were possible to park at the side of my property, he would be no problem and I would not even know he was here, as he would back into the trees. He had a small boat, was a good fisherman and would share his catch and was willing to pay for the space.

Hesitating, I was not sure if I wanted anyone close to my property but knew I did not own the space beside me. “I understand if you do not want a stranger around.” His smile looked so sincere I relented telling him I like my privacy if he kept to himself it would be fine for a few days. “Thank you I won’t bother you.”

Heading up to the cabin, I could hear his truck start up coming slowly down he nestled the camper into the trees. Then I heard another engine and saw Jake had taken his boat out on the lake, slowly doing a circle looking at all the cabins. Arriving back, he had a camera with a large lens around his neck. Thinking to myself, maybe he is a photographer.

Puttering around changing some furniture around it was dark when I looked out, no lights just the full moon shining on the water. I could see a figure coming out of the water drying off on the wharf, guess that was his way of a shower. I stood in the darkness of the cabin watching as he sat, now drinking from a bottle in his hand.

Locked the doors, I headed off to bed, leaving the cabin in darkness. The stillness with only a swaying of the trees lulled me into a deep sleep. When I first woke I was somewhat disoriented hearing birds singing I lay back and smiled, my first night in my own place. Jumping up I wanted the day to start quickly as I only had three weeks to enjoy my new found freedom.

Coffee made I sat on the porch to enjoy the songbirds, the lake was serene, not a ripple this morning. A green tinge mixed with the azure tone, the sun already shining, it was warm already. Munching a peach, I pondered the thought if I sold my condominium in the city. I think I could live here all year, if I could find something to supplement my income.

Looking out on the water, I could see a small boat headed towards the wharf, a wave from Jake's fishing pole. He only had shorts on, his muscled body showed he was in good shape as he tied the boat bringing up what looked like a successful catch. “Good morning, here is your share of the bounty.” Laughing he kept on going towards his camper. No, idle conversation just a wave as he disappeared into the bushes. He was keeping his word of not bothering me. 
Taking the fish to the frig I notice he had cleaned them.

I wanted to check the area so headed out with my sketchpad, following the path from the lake. I had gone about a mile when I came on a barking dog a woman’s voice “Oh be quiet, Blackie.” The brightest dyed red hair I had ever seen appeared from behind an azalea bush, dressed in baggy jeans a bright orange shirt with gardening gloves that she was removing as I came closer. “You must be the new owner from down the lake.” Her name was Greta and she lived here all year round.
“What a shame about Harold last summer he was a strong swimmer too.” Asking, if she meant the previous owner of my place? She then went into all the details of Harold’s demise. He had been out fishing early one morning, his boat had been found, him dead in the water a mile away with a large gash on his head. The coroner ruled he had fallen knocking himself out. The investigation was still open. Asked if I would like a cup of tea, I told her I was exploring the area to do some sketching. She called after me to come any time.

The warmth of the sun on my face reminded me to remember to put on sunscreen before heading out again. I wandered for a time, finally came across a grassy area with a view of a cliff with birds perched up high with babies squawking to be fed. Sitting down I sketched until my stomach told me to put some nourishment in it

After lunch, I decided it was time to try out my new bathing suit, plunging into the cool water, cold but refreshing and swam out half way to the other side. Music came from one of the places across the way someone was into opera. Noise travels over water I was reminded.
Swimming back Jake was standing on the wharf, he asked if I would like to join him for dinner as he was cooking the fish on an open fire tonight. Accepting I told him, I would bring a bottle of wine. “Seven would be perfect.” as he walked away.

The same boat arrived at my wharf, a man appeared on the porch as I was sipping a glass of wine. He was Allen from across the lake, he wanted to welcome me to the area. Asking him if he would like a glass of wine, he accepted sitting down. He had been coming here for twenty years, knew the area and all the people. He asked about the man in the camper beside my property, “Is he a friend or relative,” he asked.

I explained what had happened the day I arrived and only expected him to stay for a few days. Jake was watching us from the tree line hidden behind a tree. When he saw me looking his way he backed up behind his camper, he did not want to be noticed. My first thought was he was just being nosy or he might just want to make sure this man was not bothering me.
Allen stayed for a second glass of wine. Bringing Jake back into the conversation “Did I know where he was from or what he did for a living?”

“I think he is just passing through and wanted to fish for a few days.” Allen then invited me over to meet the other neighbors tomorrow afternoon for happy hour. He saw Jake's boat saying he was welcome also or he would come over and pick me up. “Maybe it would be better if you came and got me.”
“How about three then?” and he was off.

I wandered over to the camper at seven, the smell of garlic and lemon permeated the small barbecue that was set up with a couple of chairs with a fold out table between them. He opened the wine he had a beer already started, asking right off who was the fellow, did I know him from across the lake. Jake had watched him come and leave, my privacy gone was the first thought that came to mind.
During dinner, I asked when he was planning to move on, his tone changed, “Am I bothering you.”
“No but you said you had plans for only a few days.” His demeanour altered, clearing the plates away, I asked if he wanted help, his reply a short “No.” I thanked him for dinner “It’s been a long day so I am going to have an early night.” leaving with a weird feeling, he was not happy.

Sitting outside in my pajamas, in the darkness, I heard his camper door close if it had not been a still night I would have missed it. Listening I heard his footsteps on the wooden planks of the wharf. Then the oars cutting into the water, he did not start his engine. The shadow of the boat from the moon as it headed across the lake, where was he going this late?

About half an hour later he arrived back, I sat back in the shadow, not moving as he passed going quietly to his camper. Locking the doors, I looked out later to see flames across the water a cabin was on fire. I could hear yelling the fire lit up silhouettes of people running around with fire extinguishers and a hose, then only lights from the other cabins.

Waking to another gorgeous morning, I heard Blackie before Greta arrived on my porch, inviting her for coffee she told me the cabin that burned belonged to Allen, luckily only the front of the place had damage and he was fine. They did not know how the fire started.
 Allen was at a loss, as he had no fire going. He brought me a fish this morning and we chatted over tea. That was his second fire, one a few years back. He was fortunate that the insurance covered the rebuild.

Greta asked who belonged to the camper. Then her voice became a whisper, “Why is a man watching us from the trees?” Looking over, Jake saw me turn and came over. Smiling he introduced himself to Greta. Blackie gave a loud bark “Be quiet dog.” Was all Greta had to say? Blackie sat at her feet? 

Greta asked if I had seen a boat last night, she had seen one passing her place before the fire, “It was strange as no motor, just the oars through the water. I will certainly mention it to the sheriff this afternoon when we all meet for drinks at Mandy and Jim’s place instead of Allen's for drinks this afternoon.“
“I went to bed fairly early last night.” replying looking over to Jake asking if he had heard or seen anything strange last night. My stomach had tensed, turned back and smiled to Greta to cover my anxiety. Jake replied, “I had an early night too.”

I never mentioned to Jake he had been invited for drinks across the lake, and was thankful that I had not. Had he set fire to Allen’s place? What reason could he have to do such a thing?
Allen picked me up from my wharf, then headed down to get Greta, she was nowhere around, I jumped on to her wharf to go find her and Blackie did not greet me, which I found strange. Calling, her name there was no response. Her door was wide open and there lay Blackie he looked asleep until I got closer. He was not sleeping. Greta lay on her kitchen floor blood all over, screaming  for Allen.   It took him a couple of minutes to secure his boat he stood looking, shocked, bent to feel for a pulse shaking his head.

The sheriff arrived with the coroner, she had only been dead a few hours after leaving my place. Why anyone would hurt this lovely woman was all Allen could manage to say. 

My thoughts went back to when she had asked Jake and me if we had seen anyone, I was still alive because I had said no. My god, had Jake killed her and started the fire at Allen’s? My body started to shake uncontrollably, as I relayed what had happened last night and today. A call went in to get three men over to the camper right away, “He could be armed and dangerous,” was the only conversation I heard.

Jake, his camper and boat were gone when they arrived. Sheriff John asked for a description of Jake, the color of his camper and boat. He was sure they would find him quickly. Allen insisted I would feel better if I came over to his place for the night. I just wanted to curl up and try to sleep, but thanked him.

My little cabin did not seem like paradise as I poured my self a stiff drink of scotch. I had locked up early even bolted the windows, surely he was miles away by now. Looked to make sure my cell was charged, I sat in the dark thinking of Greta who just wanted to work in her garden and enjoy the last years of her time here.

A wind had swept through an hour earlier, the trees whistled, the shutters banged against the windows something I should put on my list of to do things. A summer storm was in the forecast, the rain started to pelt against the windows. Dark clouds loomed over the lake. Maybe I would keep my condominium, as the winter may be long and dreary here alone. John had told me he would send a car passed to check up on me.

Curling up under my comforter, I started a book that I had wanted to read for sometime, the lights flickered a few times, then blackness through the cabin. My flashlight was in my car in the glove compartment, never even thought to bring candles. Too dark to read, I poured another drink, the wind getting stronger sitting looking out on the lake I barely could make out the wharf. Movement, I could see a silhouette of a man, he was not in uniform.

Looking for my phone, I hit my knee on the table, dialing the sheriff’s office, a knock then a banging on the door. It rang then to voice mail. A voice yelling, “I know you are in there! Open the door before I break it down.” My God he came back to kill me so no witnesses to connect him with Greta.

As quiet as possible I slipped on a jacket and shoes. Get your keys went through my head, I was out the back door and running in the dark, I could only see a few feet in front of me as I hid beside a tree. Jake stood beside the front of the cabin door, he stepped down from the porch looking for something. He picked up a piece of firewood and started to bang at the door. As his head was turned away from me, I crouched and ran to my car. Jumping inside locked the doors I started the engine before he realized where I was.

His camper blocked the road, I swerved into the bush my tires stuck in the dirt, I gunned it slipped then traction as the wheels caught and I hit the road fish-tailing then righted myself The headlights flashing from the camper lit up my mirror blinding me. I put my foot right to the floor heading to the other side of the lake towards Allen’s place.

Jake had slowed as I got to Allen’s place, running to his door screaming to call the sheriff, Allen stood with a look of panic. I could hear Jake's camper coming to a stop, the sheriff’s car with his light flashing gun pointing at Allen. That is when Allen grabbed me pulled me in front of him as Jake walked steadily towards us both. Talking calmly, “It is all over, Allen we know it was you who killed Harold and Greta and burnt your cabin twice for the insurance. Greta had no idea what you had done, she was just a nice lady. Harold caught onto you though and that is why you killed him on the lake. I have been investigating you since Harold came to me with his suspicions. I finally saw you start the fire the other night then call for help from your neighbors.”

Allen had me by my neck, Jake's body went limp, telegraphing what to do, I slumped hard against Allen slipping to the ground and Jake and the sheriff were on top of him.
When Jake came to my cabin, he thought I was in danger from Allen not knowing what Greta had told me that morning.

Jake worked undercover for the Washington police force, he decided to take his holidays and spend the next couple of weeks fishing and getting to know me better.

As long as he caught the fish, I would cook it.

Friday 17 April 2015


I woke shivering looked around nothing recognizable in this room. Where was I?

All I remember was leaving coworkers to head home after a farewell party for Jenny who was leaving to join her husband in Reno. I had only a glass of wine staying away from the greasy hot food that Joe’s wife had served at the bar. Joe had owned this bar for many years his wife helped but certainly was not a gourmet cook.

It was dark and damp as I sat up from a bed with a smelly mattress, the musty stench hit my nostrils my stomach reacted as I held back vomit from my throat. I could not remember how I became to being in this place. Trying to concentrate I remember a man watching me from the bar offered me a drink I refused, headed off to the ladies room Then my mind was a blank.

Only a sliver of light showed under the door, moving towards it listening for any sign that someone was on the other side, I could hear traffic in the far distance. Trying the handle it did not turn, I squinted at my watch to see it was three o’clock in the morning, I had left the bar at eleven, who had brought me here and why? I lived alone nobody would miss me until work tomorrow.

My head throbbed, my eyes kept closing, I was sure someone had drugged me.
A gnawing sound woke me I must have dozed off again. Something was beside me I felt a scurrying noise then squeaking, this place was alive with mice or rats.

Going back to the door it was now five in the morning. Would someone come if I started to yell, shaking the handle pulled and pushed, my hand felt a light switch, a small light lit up a dismal looking cellar, lying in a corner was a bundle, my first thought was it was clothing until I went closer and could see a body breathing ever so lightly. Blond hair lay matted on the cement floor, bending down I could see it was a woman then her eyes stared up started to scream.” I have been brought here like you” trying to sooth her. “Do you know why we are here?” I asked my voice catching.

Her voice was hoarse probably from screaming for help. “I was hitchhiking home a car stopped and picked me up I thought he was a nice man.” “He brought me here raped me he kept hitting me when I would not do what he said.” “What day is it”.
She had been here for three days, him only bringing her soup and water once a day, then he would rape and leave her after giving her a needle. She thought he would be here soon.

Looking around for something to protect us, I pulled the mattress off the bed, four metal bedposts was all I could find. I tried to pull them apart breaking my nails and drawing blood to my hands, working furiously before he came back, my hands raw, then they finally came loose. Sally sat looking afraid from the corner, “He will kill us both”

I told her to look for rope or cloth to tie the post together to make them stronger. She found a few oil rags in a corner we tied them together. I explained we would have to surprise him when we heard him unlock the door, “You distract him I will hit as hard as I can.” We have to get the keys to lock him in here then we run for help. Tears were running down her dirty face she looked like a scared teenager so young. She smelled of urine her clothes filthy.

Turning off the light we waited. Sally huddled beside me the urine grew stronger.  

Footsteps, he was coming, pulling Sally to the floor beside the door, feeling for her hand squeezing , whispered in her ear ‘be quiet until he sees you” The key sounded in the door, then light from the hall showed his face, the man from the bar.

He was about to switch on the light when I slammed the bedposts into his face, the soup splashed over him he let out a yelp. I swung again with all my strength in his face blood spurted all over, he was down scrambling to get back up, he grabbed for my leg holding it to try to get his balance from the blood on the floor. I kicked him slipping going down he grabbed for my hair swinging aimlessly I connected with his kneecap swearing he fell back. A cracking sound as his head hit the cement.

Slowly I went to see if he was alive, he lay so still. He was up and on top of me before I had time to react. He punched me hard right in the face, I could hear my nose crack, I was on my knees blood all over, and he kept hitting me like a punching bag. He picked up the bedpost ramming it against my throat, I could not get a breath. Sally was screaming, he made a slicing motion across his neck, she was getting hysterical he charged towards her lifting his leg kicked her hard in the stomach.
His phone rang, he answered I could hear a woman’s voice. All he said, “I will be right home.” I grabbed the bedposts ran swinging and caught him in the skull.

He lay flat out, taking the oil rags from the bedposts, I tied his hands behind his back. Sally sat frozen, I yelled to her to get moving hitting him again to the face making sure this time I got his nose then to the head to make sure he would be out until the police arrived.

Grabbing Sally she had the keys in her hand, she had regained her senses, locking the door, we took the stairs two at a time. Running towards the traffic noise, we hailed a passing taxi, telling him to call the police to come here.

When the police arrived, we explained what had gone on they went to the cellar his name we found out later was Barry Nichols, married with two children. His wife appeared in court where the judge sentenced him to ten years for kidnapping and rape, his wife would be raising her kids on her own. Her face had a look of relieve.

I still see Sally, I pay for therapy for her, as her Mom is single and has two other siblings to raise.
Maybe some guilt on my part as I had not been raped. 

Monday 6 April 2015

Too, close to the truth

Finally dropping off my manuscript to my publisher, I could finally relax for a month or two, a new idea was already forming in my brain, I kept pushing it back far in my cortex trying not to let it form, I needed the space in my head to be clear.

I wanted to catch up on many things that I had let slide in my personal life. My house needed painted  inside and out, the garden had that abandoned look. Male friends had stopped calling to ask me out. Only my close girlfriend understood when I was writing nothing else existed for me.

I would call and invite Jill out to lunch to celebrate the finishing of my fourth book. Then get busy finding a painter, plus a gardener to cultivate the ground for a vegetable garden. A rockery for flowers built before summer arrived.

Stopping on my way home I shopped for groceries, the inside of my refrigerator had only seen yogurt and a few slices of cooked meat for the last month. The bread usually stale by the time I got to it. Positive side I always lost a few pound going into the last stretch of my writing. Picking up a few bottles of wine, I headed home.

Arranging to interview a painter in the morning, I looked for a gardener that could start right away. His voice sounded young at the other end of the phone but he had references and could start in two days after finishing with another client. Now if the painter works out my place would be looking spiffy in a month’s time.

Sitting drinking coffee I picked up the local paper, my publisher had a whole column devoted to my book, giving a preview of the covers introduction of what my story was about, she certainly did not waste time, the book would not hit the shelves for another two months at least. I had told her I would not promote this one as I had a huge following and my summer was mine. If she wanted to wait until fall, I would gladly travel promoting it. She agreed saying to wait and see how the sales went.

A hard sharp knock to my door startled me out of my thoughts, there stood a slim tall dark haired man with a slender nose he had the greenish eyes I had ever seen. Introducing himself as Tom, he waiting for an invite in, I stood back and let him pass as he did the smell of Ivory soap filled my nostrils. I did not think anyone used Ivory soap any more.

He had a paper in his hand with all my information of the size of rooms, the colors I had told him I wanted. With a price and time, it would take to finish the inside. Then he would give me an estimate for the outside as soon as he walked around the perimeter before he left. I could hear him open the gate at the side of the house and his boots on the wooden patio, I wiped down the counter putting my cup in the dishwasher and he was back. His only suggestion was the laundry room color to go with a lighter shade it would enlarge the look of the room, I agreed as he handed me a price for the inside and out. I asked when he could start.

Jill picked me up we headed towards the ocean to Bart’s, the seafood was the best in the city, cool outside we sat near the sliding doors with the  beautiful vista of water mountains and greenery, ordered our favorite wine. Food and a view what more could one ask for. Jill had a newspaper under her arm spreading it out to the page where my face looked up at me. Dam, Martha for putting a picture in beside a blurb of my new book. I liked my privacy and hated to be recognized everywhere I went. I never would agree to have my picture in any of my books especially after being stocked by a man when my first book hit the shelves, he thought my book was about him

“I thought you had agreed with Martha to go ahead with the picture” or I would not have brought it as I can see you are upset”Her eyes filled.

Excusing myself from the table I went outside to call Martha, they told me she was out the office until Monday, the bitch just was not going to take my calls, as she knew I would be furious with her.

Jill had been my savior, I spent two months hiding in her apartment until the police caught him climbing up Jill’s trellis at her condominium. Finally being put away for six years for attempted murder, then the police found  evidence connected to the killing of his wife he was now serving a life sentence, he blamed my book for his capture.

My book had nothing to do with him.

Jill dropped me off, as I went up to my door I saw a paper stuck under the mat, a note from the gardener saying he had a look around, and here was a diagram of his plans for the work plus a price, if I agreed he would be here on Monday morning at seven. It all looked fantastic the price was agreeable, I would e-mail him to go ahead. Things were working out perfectly.  

Sunday morning, the sun shone through the curtains woke me from my reoccurring dream. Shaking off the feeling I always had after this nightmare, His face appeared each time with a gun to my head, my face bloody exploding all over the walls. I could see myself lying dead in the pool of blood him laughing down at me. Jumping up I opened my bedroom window to breath in the cool air to catch my breath. When would they ever stop?
My doctor promised they would fade eventually and just get on with my life. Easy for him he was not the one having them.

Making coffee I opened the kitchen door the sun was starting to warm the earth, Putting on a sweater I sat outside the kitchen soaking the rays of sun on my face. I was anxious to get my plans for the house started. I roamed the house making a list of what curtains needed replace. Taking down all the old ones. Then headed outside with gardeners plans and walked visualizing how it would all look when done. My depressed mind vanished.

Monday morning the gardener arrive at seven as promised introducing himself as Jimmy, he had two workers sitting in the truck. They would be building the rockery while he started in with the machine for the garden. They look older than there boss, he called them over introducing one as Luke the other Joe. Luke’s eyes darted back and forth, from me to Jimmy, he almost looked nervous meeting me. Leaving them to get started they unloaded their truck.

From inside their voices traveled and someone was singing, happy workers were my thought. About an hour later, Tom arrived pulling his van into the driveway-unloaded ladders, buckets and paint a full box of brushes lay beside the buckets. Going to the door, I greeted him and again taken aback with his handsome features. He must have just showered as his hair was still wet and again I smelled ivory soap.

I had some errands to do so told Tom I would leave him a key if he had to leave to lock up, as the three gardeners would use the bathroom in the basement. I had locked the basement door leading to the kitchen. Why, I trusted him, and not the three amigos I did not know.

A radio was playing as I entered my front door, Tom had the halls done and he was working on the living room. He hoped I did not mind him turning on my radio as he worked better with music in the background.

As I wandered through the yard to see what had been done after they left they had made a good start on the project, Tom had left and the house was quiet, pouring a glass of wine. I examined the material I had chosen. Ginny a neighbor would sew them for me. I would call her tonight to tell her I had the material.

After a leisurely bath, I felt relaxed and contented how the first day worked out. Jill phoned we chatted as I poured a second glass, looking to see what I would cook for my dinner. Hanging up saying, I thought someone was at the door.

A noise outside the front door, I saw a figure turn at the end of my sidewalk. Opening the door, I saw a note under a rock, why had the person not knocked.

Reading the note a chill went down my spine, that was why no knocking.

 Who are you going to put in prison with your new book BITCH.

 Should I phone the police or was it some sick joker, trying to scare me?

I had tossed and turned most of the night, when I woke I could smell the aroma of coffee had I dreamt it? Slipping into my housecoat, I headed towards the kitchen there sat Tom with coffee at my table. He jumped up his face breaking into a grin, his power had gone off through the night laughing, and he told me he was sure he had paid his electric bill.

 “Where did you find the gardeners”? He had seen the note on the counter

He thought he recognized one of them from a picture in a newspaper from a few months back, a woman who had work done by this person was found severely beaten and robbed, the one called Luke was a suspect, they let him go as he had a solid alibi from a co-worker. Tom wondered if I had checked his references. Explaining I had hired Jimmy and he had brought the other two with him and no I had not checked, but Jimmy had told me he had some if I wanted to check up on his work.

Getting up washing his cup out he stared to get to work, telling me to keep an eye on the three of them.  

Jimmy and his crew arrived shortly after, I met them in the garden asking how long did he think the project would take him to finish, he told me at least two to three weeks if I wanted him to plant too, he would have to come back for the vegetable garden. My thought right away could I stand the stress on them being around here for that long.

Tom had finished the living room and one of the bedrooms before he washed up his brushes, asking if he wanted a beer, he accepted sitting down at the table. I put out some snacks pouring his beer. He sat looking at me then shaking his head he told me he knew all about what had transpired when my first book hit the stores. Showing surprise when he said he had read them all and was looking forward to the next.

The next week flew quickly the rockery was finished, the garden taking shape. Jimmy was on his own now so would come for a beer after work, the weather was getting warmer. Sitting outside he opened up about his personal life his girlfriend wanted to get married, he thought they were both too young. He wanted to have money in the bank before he committed to a marriage, I told him he was smart for a young man.

Tom had finished the inside starting to prepare the outside. I could tell neither liked each other, never a conversation went on between them. Jimmy seemed to watch him from afar. Tom was aloof.

Leaving to do some shopping I asked Tom if he would like to join me for dinner tomorrow night  as I was making a stew and always made a big pot. I asked Jimmy too but he had plans. Smiling Tom accepted, would it be all right if he brought clean clothes and showered downstairs. Could I be interested in a relationship with this man?

I was, about to pour the last of our wine, dinner a success, the phone rang a muffled voice I did not recognize, told me I was going to pay with my life for upsetting peoples life’s with my trashy books. Not to publish any more or I would not be around to enjoy my money or possessions.

Tom right away knew I was upset as I trembled putting the phone down. He wanted to know if that was the first call since the note, starting to tremble I told him of the others usually one most nights with threats always saying I would die soon. Did the police know? Saying I thought it was a hoax, I never involved them, but I would call them tomorrow.

Tom asked, “Did I think Luke had anything to do with the calls.’’ I had completely forgotten about him, as he had only been around to see Jimmy for his pay. Tom asked if I would like him to sleep, downstairs to feel safer until I got the police involve.

Thankfully, I said yes.

My dream woke me a sound, wondered if it was in my dream or for real, I sat up listening. There was someone here, I recognized the voice as he came closer,” bitch you will pay now.” Then a rag stuffed into my mouth, my hand held tight against his body.

Even in the darkness, his dark hair lit up from the moon shinning through the bare windows. Ivory soap permeated the room, a sneer as he switched on the bedside lamp. He rocked beside my bed his dark green eyes showed  hatred , then he introduced himself as the son of the man who he said I was responsible for sending to jail for killing his stepmother who deserved to die. He had wanted to frighten me longer but if the police were to get involved, his identity would come out.

Trying to get the rag out of my mouth, he shoved it in harder the smell of paint on it was making me gag. Then the stew and wine erupted spewed out through the rag, choking, I was going to die in my bed. He pulled the rag out I continuing to throw up as he backed away.

If I could reach my drawer beside my bed I would have a chance, it had lay there loaded for over three years untouched. Retching “I need a hankie” opening my drawer before he had time to react in one motion the safety off a shot exploded into him. His face look astonished as he fell over.

My door crashed open then running footsteps and Jimmy stood at my bedroom door looking concerned and surprised. He told me later he drove past to see if he could take me up on some of the stew. Heard the shot saw Tom’s truck and came to see if I was okay.

 “I can find you a painter to finish the outside” Jimmy laughed as the police lead Tom away.