Scribbler Tales Volume Four
This is a collection that really keeps a reader entertained, for the dramatic plot twists is enough to satisfy any lover of quality thrillers.Mary Anne Yarde
International Award-winning Author
When the daughter of a wealthy entrepreneur is kidnapped, Agent Richards races against time to find her in Abducted.
In Cunning, newlywed Charlotte von Lichtner is obsessed with Transylvanian folklore when she encounters her husband’s mysterious kinsman.
Enamored finds Lady Margaret besotted with a younger man whose intentions are suspect in their unorthodox relationship.
Will the murderer succeed as he flees the crime scene in Reckless?
Doctor/patient confidentiality is sorely tested when Sarah reveals the truth about her lover’s death in Safeguard.
Release date: April 1, 2015
Publisher: Whispering Legends Press
Print pages: 54
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Scribbler Tales Volume Four
Mary Ann Bernal
The morning had started out like any other day in the Cooper household. Patriarch Vincent was sipping coffee and reading The Wall Street Journal as his wife, Ginger, was answering emails on her iPhone in-between bites. A lavish buffet emanated luscious aromas from a variety of home-cooked foods artistically created by the master chef who had been with the Coopers for two generations.
The family fortune had been made by Vincent’s great-grandfather, Vincent Mathew Cooper. The founder of the dynasty was a shrewd businessman, investing in real estate while establishing an import-export business, gaining notoriety by importing opium from the Far East. The second Vincent Mathew Cooper added railroads, shipping and weapons manufacturing to the portfolio, catapulting their net worth into the world of the Astors, Vanderbilts and Roosevelts.
Katrina Cooper had been born into an elite privileged class. An only child, Katrina was educated according to the rules established by an aristocratic hierarchy that had no place in a modern democratic society. Katrina had studied abroad, rubbing noses with high-born nobility, remnants from a bygone era when kings and queens governed the land. Returning home for the holidays, Katrina played her role well, being the dutiful daughter. The only thing missing was parental affection. Vincent and Ginger never displayed any emotion – that would be undignified. Whatever love passed between husband and wife remained behind bedroom doors. But Katrina found solace in the arms of her nursemaid. It was Sally who wiped Katrina’s tears, chased away monsters, and treated her cuts and bruises. Leaving Sally was difficult, but Katrina had corresponded with the woman until her recent death.
The young heiress returned home on her twenty-first birthday, but the warm welcome Katrina coveted was not forthcoming. After expressing the correct pleasantries, Katrina went to her rooms that occupied the east wing while her parents’ chambers were located in the west wing.
Having studied finance, Katrina was prepared to work in an accounting firm, but her passion was creative expression. What she wanted to do was open an art studio, displaying not only her works but paintings by up and coming artists. Vincent and Ginger were not overly thrilled when Katrina broached the subject. After much discussion, Vincent acquiesced with a stipulation – the studio must be self-sufficient within two years, and the start-up funds were to be repaid. Vincent’s daughter would have to make her way in the world just as he had done and his father before him. The inheritance was as the word implied – monies received at the bequest of Vincent Cooper upon his death.
Charlotte was looking at the fleeting Transylvanian countryside through the closed window in the first-class compartment of the Eurail. Thoughts of Count Dracula surfaced whenever a castle came into view, sending shivers up her spine. Bram Stoker had put the Romanian region on the map when the novel was first published in 1897, but it was Hollywood that catapulted the district to worldwide recognition in the twentieth century with Bela Lugosi starring in the title role.
“We’ll reach the village in about an hour,” Frederick said. “Would you care for something to eat or drink?”
“I’m fine, Freddy. I just want to soak it all in. Your country is beautiful with the palaces, and quaint villages, and the farms. So much unspoiled terrain; I feel as if we’re traveling back in time. This is truly a storybook honeymoon. I can’t thank you enough.”
Baron Frederick von Lichtner was the last descendant of a dynasty established during the Roman occupation of the territory in the first century. Being an only child, Frederick was groomed to inherit the family title and estate, which passed to him upon the death of his father while he was attending Whitmore University in the States. Frederick had never known his mother since she died in childbirth. After the funeral, Frederick completed his education, obtaining a degree in criminal law. Shortly thereafter, Frederick was hired by a prestigious law firm in Manhattan, which was where he met his future wife.
Charlotte Astor, a distant relative of the prominent family, but of the illegitimate line, was a product of foster care, her parents having died in an automobile accident when she was three-years-old. Charlotte had been lucky, being raised by loving and caring people, and the child suffered no ill effects from such a precarious upbringing.
After graduating from a state university, Charlotte obtained employment at a brokerage firm in New York City that happened to be represented by Simmons and Tyler, Frederick’s firm. After the proverbial whirlwind courtship, they were married at City Hall on a Friday afternoon and were departing from Kennedy International at 5:55 p.m. for Bucharest, Romania.
“Freddy, I can be just me, can’t I?”
“Of course, you can, my love,” Frederick replied. “Why would you ask such a question?”
“I guess I’ve been watching too many Brit shows, like Downton Abbey and Ripper Street. Oh, Freddy, is it still like that here with the classes? I mean, you are a Baron, after all.”
“I don’t use my title, you know that. You’re worrying too much. Everything will be fine, Baroness,” Frederick replied with a roguish grin.
Lady Margaret admired herself in the mirror, pleased with her appearance as her well-kept body hid her age. And why not? She had the money and the wherewithal to remain ageless in a youth-oriented society. Jane Fonda and Cher were still in their prime, and one must not forget Helen Mirren being voted the sexiest woman alive a few years back. Biological age was of no importance if one remained young in thought, word and deed.
“Are you ready, mi amor?” Juan asked as he entered the bedroom.
Juan, thirty years her junior and the love of her life. They had been together ten years, beating the odds that the relationship would last. What did a thirty-five-year-old virile male see in a woman old enough to be his mother? Lady Margaret laughed off the innuendos, ignoring the whispers whenever they walked into a room, smiling defiantly at the disapproving stares.
In the old days, Lady Margaret would have been labeled a rich spinster whose refusal to find a suitable husband cost her not only her youth, but her childbearing years. In today’s day and age, Lady Margaret was a productive member of society, a philanthropist who supported numerous charities and artistic foundations. Without an heir, distant relatives would be coming out of the woodwork upon her death, everyone seeking a piece of the pie.
“Megs, are you certain you want to do this?” Juan whispered. “You can still back out.”
“Afraid to tie the knot?”
“Never! It’s just ... I want you to be sure ... you know what people are saying.”
“That you just want my money, and I’m a fool, and other hurtful things I won’t repeat.”
“I love you, Megs,” Juan said. “When I look at you, I see my soul mate. Age is just a number, nothing more. I want you happy, and if that means spending the rest of our life together the way we’ve been living, I’m fine with that. Nothing matters as long as we have each other.”
“Well, then, let’s make an honest man out of you,” Lady Margaret replied. “We mustn’t keep our guests waiting.”
It was a crisp autumn day on the quiet streets of suburbia, a normal weekday where men and women had left for work and children were in school. The wind-swept leaves whirled along the empty streets as men loaded furniture onto a truck, their shouts breaking the stillness while the morning sun continued on its upward spiral.
Peter stealthily approached the open van. He jumped inside and headed towards the back of the unit. Hiding behind stacked boxes, Peter kept his hand on the gun in his jacket pocket as the distant sound of sirens blared across the landscape. Within minutes, the peaceful street was flooded with patrol cars and detectives searching for an alleged killer. Satisfied that he would not be caught since no one would bother to inspect the cargo, Peter relaxed and stretched his legs while leaning against a padded panel.
A policeman stopped the movers just as they were closing the lift-gate.
“We’re looking for a man in his mid-thirties, well dressed. He would have been coming from over there,” the officer said, pointing to the backyards behind their location.
“Haven’t seen a thing,” the head mover replied, “and we were just leaving.”
The cop handed him a business card with instructions to call the precinct if he spotted the fugitive, who was considered to be armed and dangerous. The head mover just nodded since he wasn’t interested as to why the person was being hunted; he had a schedule to keep, and it was getting late.
Once the truck was en route, Peter groped his way towards the door while trying to adapt to the darkness. The unit was made of steel with only one entry point and it had been locked from the outside.
Annoyed that he would have to wait until the transport arrived at its destination, Peter decided to stay where he was since it was pitch-black.
Senses heightened, Peter realized they were driving on the interstate, and he laughed maliciously. The problem was being solved for him since he had been forced to flee. Wherever the location, Peter would be in a position to start over, preserving his anonymity. Carelessness pure and simple almost cost Peter his freedom. It was time to get back to basics.
The last ten years had been productive in Peter’s mind. One murder a month, twelve months a year, never in the same place, made it difficult to identify the killer and discover a pattern. These past sixty days were different because Peter didn’t move on, preferring the West Coast climate. The only regret was leaving behind the pictures, but the women would never be forgotten in his mind’s eye.
Sarah awakened with a horrible headache, fumbling to shut off the alarm with its incessant buzzing. Her body ached as if she had survived nine rounds with Adrien Broner. Sarah grimaced with pain when getting out of bed and was horrified by the reflection in the mirror of blood-stained clothes and a swollen jaw.
Jumping into a hot shower, Sarah’s tears intermingled with the running water when she noticed the extent of her injuries. Her body had taken quite a beating; in fact, by the look of things, Sarah was lucky to be alive.
Try to remember, Sarah thought. You had dinner with Sean at his place. Did he hit you? Think, Sarah, think.
Moving as if on auto-pilot, Sarah dressed, took some Tylenol, and tossed the bloody clothes into the garbage. It was while Sarah was making a pot of coffee that she noticed the missing butcher knife, which was not in the dishwasher nor in any of the kitchen drawers. It seemed to have simply vanished.
Perhaps you threw it out by mistake. You really need to start paying attention.
The doorbell rang as Sarah was pouring her coffee. Holding the cup in her hand, Sarah answered the door, hoping her face didn’t look as bad as it felt.
“May I help you?” Sarah asked the two gentlemen standing before her.
“Good morning, Ms. Perkins. I’m Detective Avery and this is my partner, Detective Smyth. May we have a minute of your time?”
“Of course, come in. I just made some coffee, if you’d like a cup.”
“No, thank you, Miss,” Detective Avery replied.
“Thank you, but I’m good,” Detective Smyth told her.
“What can I do for you?” Sarah asked as she pointed to the couch in the living room.
While Detective Avery sat down, Detective Smyth remained standing, his eyes glancing about the room looking for anything untoward.
“We’d like to ask you some questions about Sean Kelly. When did you last see him?”
“Last night ... we had dinner. What is this about?”
“Did he do that to your face?”
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