Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Stilettos & Scoundrels by Laina Turner
The Presley Thurman Mysteries
by Laina Turner
About The Author:
Who am I? It kind of depends on the day. I am a human compendium of unrelated things. I used to think I was just weird, had shiny ball syndrome and couldn’t focus, scattered, you name it. Then I decided it was OK to be all over the place as long as each avenue I wanted to explore had meaning and purpose or was fun. So I embrace the fact I am a college professor, a writer of fiction and non-fiction, promoter of other authors, human resource professional, business consultant, mom, and all around interesting person (according to my closest friends).
When I’m not working toward my goals I like, ok fine, LOVE wine, coffee, shopping, and books. I enjoy my kids, they are awesome. I hate the cold but yet live in the mid-west. Vegas is one of my favorite spots as I love to people watch and if I ever get married again it will definitely be in a drive through chapel by a fake Elvis.
Stilettos & Scoundrels
(Presley Thurman Mystery #1)
by Laina Turner
Gently touching the handle of the front door was all it took to make it swing wide open. It was late, after midnight, and everyone in the house except Tom was asleep. As usual, Tom was in his study working late. Walking carefully and quietly through the foyer, the adrenaline began to kick in. The intruder confidently walked into Tom’s study. Tom was concentrating so hard on the papers in front of him that he was unaware of anything else. Raising his hand, the intruder hit a stack of books sitting on a side table, sending them crashing to the floor. Tom spun around with a look of shock on his face as he recognized the person swinging a sharp object toward him. Tom raised his hands to protect himself but he wasn’t quick enough. The spikey end of the stiletto heel punctured his neck instantly, sending a spray of blood over the papers on his desk. He tried to cry out, but all that sounded was a gurgling noise as his lungs filled with blood.
The intruder set the shoe down next to Tom and backed out of the room softly, closing the door to the study and hoped no one would come looking for Tom until morning.
“Presley! I need to talk to you right away!” It was Helen Daniels, hysterical. I could hardly understand her.
“What is it, Helen? What’s wrong?” I had fallen asleep, but the sound of fear in Helen’s voice quickly woke me up.
“Just meet me at Gardner’s old warehouse in thirty minutes. If you’re not there, I will not be able to wait. It’s not safe. You have to hurry!”
“Helen! Calm down, safe from whom? Why all the drama? Helen…Helen?” She’d hung up. I glanced at my watch. Crap! I’d never make it there in thirty minutes. All I could hope for was Dirt and his deputies were out investigating the Senator’s murder rather than trying to keep the streets safe from speeders.
I ran out of the house, running past my mother still working in her garden.
“Presley, where are you going?
“I’ll be back in a bit.”
“I don’t know.” I said exasperatedly. I didn’t need the third degree.
“Where are you going?”
“I’ll explain later. Just eat without me if I’m not back.”
I pushed seventy in a forty-five mile an hour zone, my Kia humming, just hoping to get there on time. I was surprised my car could go that fast. In Chicago, the traffic was so bad you didn’t really have a chance to speed this much. My phone rang again, but I didn’t look at it. I needed to concentrate on my driving. Gardner’s warehouse, located about twenty miles outside of town, used to be a production plant for some automotive part. The plant closed years before, when I still lived here. It was so long ago that I couldn’t remember what the company actually produced.
I pulled in the parking lot, gravel flying, hoping Helen was still here. The clock on my dash said it had been thirty-three minutes since she called me. I pocketed my keys, not wanting to weigh myself down with my purse, and jogged around to the front entrance. I had on flip-flops, not the best jogging shoes, but I was so startled when Helen called I just ran out of the house without paying attention to what I had on. This was a big place, and I huffed trying to catch my breath. I really must get in shape, I wheezed to myself.
Helen hadn’t specified exactly where to meet her, so I assumed she might be at the front entrance. She wasn’t waiting outside for me, so I tried the front door or what I presumed was the front door. It was unlocked, which I thought strange for an abandoned building, but I assumed Helen had unlocked it. Though had it been locked, I could have crawled through one of the many broken windows. I carefully stepped inside the building and the darkness engulfed me. The little bit of light in the building was let in by the broken windows, and it took a few minutes for my eyes to adjust. It smelled dank and musty, and I could hear the scurrying of what were probably little furry rodents. I shuddered involuntarily and didn’t want to think about what type of creepy crawlies were in this building, especially with me in flip-flops. I wasn’t thrilled about stepping any further into the building.
“Helen,” I called softly. No answer. Where the hell is she? I tiptoed a little further into the building in an effort to be quiet, though I still couldn’t see very well, so tiptoeing wouldn’t do me any good if there was anything in my way. All of a sudden, I felt a hand on my arm; I jumped about ten feet and started to scream.
“Shh, Presley. It’s just me,” Helen said. “Do you think you could be a little quieter?”
“Then don’t ask me to come to an abandoned building and grab me when I’m not expecting it. I can’t see! You could have been anyone or anything,” I retorted. “I am not a big fan of the creepy things I am sure are in this building.” I took one look at Helen and grew concerned. She was usually one of those women who always looked impeccable, but her dark brown hair, usually in a knot at the nape of her neck, was disheveled and loose. I could tell Helen had been crying, from her smudged make-up. She definitely wasn’t her normal well put together self. I could see that, even in this poor light. I still felt a stab of jealousy because, even a little worse for wear, Helen looked better than most women. Not fair at all.
“So what is going on, Helen? Why all the cloak-and-dagger stuff? Why did we have to meet here, of all places?” I asked, looking around and waving my arms. “Should we even be here? The place looks about ready to fall down. I’m sure the owners wouldn’t be too happy if we fell through the floor or something. This building is quite a liability.”
“It’s the only place I could go where I could easily see if I was being followed. Besides, we own the building. Or rather, I do now,” Helen, replied giving a little laugh—the hysterical kind, rather than the ha-ha kind.
“Why would anyone be following you?” I took a step forward, concerned Helen might really be in danger. It seemed so surreal.
Helen tried to keep herself from crying again. “They called my house, Presley. They called my house and demanded money. They said if I didn’t pay up, they would make sure I met the same fate as Tom. I knew they would want their money, but I didn’t think it would be like this. I thought I would have some more time. I can’t get my hands on that kind of money right now. It would look too suspicious; besides, I don’t even know yet where I am going to get it!” Helen then burst into tears.
I waited for a few uncomfortable moments for the tears to subside. To help Helen, I needed her to calm down and tell me everything she knew. Plus, I had a few questions of my own.
“Do you know who it was that called you, Helen? Who did the Senator owe money to?”
“I don’t know specifically who the caller was, nor who Tom owed money to. I didn’t recognize any voices and they didn’t tell me their names. Tom tried to hide as much as he could from me about this aspect of his life, I told you that already, and when I forced the issue, he told me as little as possible. Usually just enough to get me to shut up. To be honest, it got to where I didn’t even ask much because I didn’t really care.”
“Who else knows about the Senator’s gambling problem? Maybe that’s who called you. Could it be blackmail?” I thought blackmail seemed as good a reason as any.
“The only people who know about this, besides the people he owed the money to, are me and Tobey. As the Senator’s assistant, Tobey was privy to a lot more information than I thought he should have been,” Helen explained. “Tom said he would find out anyway, and that we could trust him. I don’t think Tobey is the type to try to blackmail anyone. Other than that, there is no way Tom would have told anyone else. He might have been a gambler, but he wasn’t stupid. At least not that stupid.”
“What about Garrison Palazzo.”