Authors: Bess McBride
Tags: #Romance, #Mystery & Detective, #Suspense, #Women Sleuths, #Fiction
“What?” she whispered. Surely she had misheard. “What did you say?”
“You heard me right, Penny. I’m gonna kill you, and you won’t even know when. You won’t even know why. Wait for me. I’m coming.”
Penny snapped her phone shut and dropped it onto the sand as if it were on fire. She jumped out of her seat and swung around to search the beach, keeping her back to the sea. Who would call her and say such a thing? She scanned the faces on the beach--the couples who strolled arm in arm, too busy to carry a phone, the children who chased the waves, too little to carry a phone. She wrapped her arms tightly around her body, suddenly cold. No one knew her here. She’d hardly met anyone in the two months she’d been in Gulf Shores.
She stared down at the offending phone half buried in the sand. Caller ID. She bent and picked up the phone with the tips of her fingers, gingerly opening the face. A push of a button revealed an area code from her home state of Michigan. She sank to her knees. Who would call her from Michigan with such horrible words? None of her clients were violent or inclined toward making threats. She’d been lucky that way.
She eyed the number and took a deep breath. With a knot in her stomach, she pushed the button to call. Her hand shook slightly as she held the phone to her ear. It rang.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and
incidents are either the product of the author’s
imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.
A Penny for Your Thoughts
2012 by Bess McBride
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or
reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written
permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or
Contact information: [email protected]
Cover Art by
Published in the United States of America
Smashwords Edition, License Notes
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
A Penny For Your Thoughts
is the best romantic suspense I have read of late." ~Long and Short Reviews
"Ms. McBride did a wonderful job creating a story full of suspense and mystery and she added to the mixture healthy servings of love and hope. Ms. McBride outdid herself yet again!!!" ~Night Owl Romance
"This story is engrossing, gripping, suspenseful undeniably one of the best romantic suspense stories ever written. Ms. McBride knits together a plotline fraught with twists and turns that leaves the reader guessing as to the path to be taken next."
~You Gotta Read Reviews
Across the Winds of Time
Jenny Cussler’s Last Stand
A Train Through Time
To Cinnamon, Mike, Lily and Les.
May we all meet again for Mardi Gras soon with Baby Mia!
And to the wonderful Southerners on the Gulf Coast of Alabama whose generosity and hospitality is unmatched.
Thank you for purchasing
A Penny for Your Thoughts.
A Penny for Your Thoughts
is my first romantic suspense, and inspired by the winters I spent on the Gulf Coast of Alabama, basking on the beaches, watching the birds on the shore, and hitting all the Mardi Gras parades for beads and moon pies.
The South is atmospheric.There is no other way to describe it. From majestic oak trees crowning a small road to quaint fishing villages nestled into quiet bays, from fierce coastal storms to herons stalking fisherman, from the brilliant sights and sounds of Mardi Gras to the tranquil search for seashells, it is like no other place.
And it wants to be written about…a lot.That's why there are so many books written in the South. That and people staying indoors under air conditioning with time to write!
I'm away from the South now but I'll be back someday. Who can stay away?
I hope you enjoy Penny's story as much as I did trying to figure out how to throw you off. No, not true. I didn't know who the stalker was myself until they presented themselves somewhere in the book.
I recently decided to embark on a new adventure in publishing, and A Penny for Your Thoughts is being re-released. Same story, different cover. And isn't it a beauty?
Thank you for your support over the years, friends and readers. Because of your favorable comments, I continue to strive to write the best stories I can. More suspense novels are on the way! I’m dreaming of them all the time.
Thanks for reading!
“I’m going to kill myself, Penny.”
“What!” Penny cried out. She forced her voice into a calm, measured tone. “What happened in the last hour, Jerry? You seemed fine when you left the office. In fact...” her voice started to shake as did her hand pressing the phone to her ear, “I called because y-you left your keys here. You know...the ones that are always hooked to your belt. Let me drop them off at your place.”
“No! Don’t come here. Don’t. It’ll be too late.”
Penny wanted to scream, but instead she gripped the phone tighter and tried to save his life with her voice.
“Please don’t do this, Jerry. You are too valuable to this world...to me. I need you.”
The man on the other end began to sob.
“Don’t say that, Penny! Don’t make this harder than it already is. You don’t need me.”
Penny fought to keep her throat from closing, to keep the air pumping into her lungs so she could speak in a calm voice.
“I need you to be alive, Jerry. I cannot bear the thought of a world without you in it. Please don’t do this. Let me come to you. Better yet, let me send someone to you while we stay on the phone...together.”
Penny jumped up and tried to drag the outdated, clunky office phone toward her closed door. The tangled cord wouldn’t stretch, and no matter how she willed her fingers to lengthen, she just couldn’t reach the door. She grabbed a heavy book from the top of her desk and threw it against the door.
“Don’t come here, Penny. You’ll just try to talk me out of it. I-I’m just tired of living...with all this pain. I’m tired of it.” Jerry’s voice resounded with stress, and that was a good sign. It meant he was undecided...had not yet reached an irreversible decision. She heard the television in the background.
“Jerry! Jerry! Do you have a gun?”
Penny grabbed another book and heaved it against the door with all her might. Rising anxiety robbed her of air, and she gasped for air as if she were running a marathon.
“But Jerry, you hate guns. How could you use a gun? Where did you get it?”
“Yeah, I do. I just got it. That’s all.”
“Jerry, please listen to me! The world won’t always seem as dark as it does today. One day you’ll wake up--maybe tomorrow--and the sun will shine. You don’t want to miss that, do you?”
Penny heard a timid knock at the door, and she cursed herself for closing the door when Jerry called. She reached for it once again, but the tips of her fingers fell a foot short. She dared not pull the phone away from her ear...not for one second. She grabbed another book and threw it.
Jerry’s voice took on a calm, resigned tone that frightened her more than his sobs ever did. She was losing him... The television continued its muted noise in the background.
“The sun is never going to shine for me, Penny. I know you tried, but nothing helps.” He muttered something she couldn’t quite make out, and then spoke clearly into the phone. “Don’t come here.”
The door opened an inch, and David thrust his dark, bespectacled head inside with raised brows. Penny waved him toward her with an urgency that prompted the short, thin man to burst in.
“Jerry, please let me come to you. Can you wait for me?”
Penny grabbed a notepad off her desk and scrawled the words “Jerry Coleman...gun...home...wants kill self. Call 911.” She pushed the paper toward her colleague who read it, turned and flew out the door.
“No! I said no!” His shout startled her. He’d never raised his gentle voice to her...never. “I mean...don’t come, Penny. I don’t want anyone here.”
Penny’s body stiffened. Cold sweat broke out on her forehead as she thought she heard a click.
“Jerry?” Anxiety drove her voice to a high pitch.
Penny jumped as she heard a dull thud followed by a shrill scream. She thought it was her for a second, but realized the shriek emanated from the other end of the phone.
“Jerry? Jerry? Are you there?”
Penny jumped and pulled the phone from her ear as she heard a thunderous noise through the phone. She screamed.
“Jerry! Jerry! Jerry, are you there?”
Her boss rushed up to the half-open door.
“What’s going on in here?”
Penny yelled into the phone over and over, like a broken record.
“Jerry! Jerry!” There was no sound over the phone.
She held the phone out to her boss and slumped down into her chair. David returned out of breath.
“They’re on their way.”
Penny’s boss, Tim, took the phone from her shaking hand and listened in for a moment before he spoke.
“Jerry? Jerry? This is Tim from the counseling center. Can you hear me?”
Penny looked at David and shook her head. Tears flowed down her face.
“It’s too late. I think he shot himself.”
“You’re kidding!” David muttered. “I’d better call the police again.” He fled back out of the office.
Tim pulled the phone away from his ear and covered the mouthpiece.
“I’m not sure. I hear some noise in the background. Something metal. But he’s not answering the phone. Here, listen.”
Penny reached for the phone with a shaking hand, though what she really needed to do was run for the bathroom to contend with the wave of nausea that had her in its grip. She wiped the cold sweat from her forehead with the back of her hand and pressed the phone hard against her ear.