Macy is a live-in nurse who cares for a pediatrician’s mother during the day, and fantasizes about the doctor at night. But when a seductive new woman comes into his life, Macy sees her dreams of happiness slipping away. As the wedding day approaches, she must make her move, or lose him forever. But the bride’s evil sister will have something to say about that.
Across town, one of Greg Tenorly’s elderly piano students is brutally murdered. He and his girlfriend begin to investigate, which ultimately leads them to the doctor’s house, where they make a startling discovery: a secret hospital ward, buried deep beneath the house. But none of the patients are alive.
Read the four-chapter excerpt…
“It’s about to come on. Hurry.”
Nurse Judy delivered Martha’s tray just in time. It was a frozen dinner, but Judy always transferred it to a fancy plate and prepared a small salad and a bowl of applesauce to go alongside it.
“Looks great, Judy. Now sit down and let’s eat.”
Nurse Judy sat down in the recliner next to Martha’s bed. The meal she made for herself was similar to Martha’s. “Didn’t we just see this one a few days ago?”
“I don’t remember. But you know it doesn’t matter. I love Jessica Fletcher.”
It was the only good thing about her failing memory. She could watch reruns of Murder She Wrote over and over again. They were all new to her.
The doorbell rang.
“Whoever it is, just get rid of them. It couldn’t be friends or family. They know better than to interrupt my show.”
Nurse Judy walked down the hallway to the front door. It was a nurse.
“May I help you?”
“The agency sent me.”
“No, there must be some mistake. I’ve been caring for Mrs. Mason for a couple of months now.”
“Oh, great. Why do they keep doing this to me? Mind if I come in and use the phone?”
“Don’t you have a cell phone?”
“Yeah, but it’s dead. I forgot to charge it last night.”
“I hate when I do that. Sure, come on in. What’s your name?”
“Good to meet you, Carnie. I’m Judy. You can use the house phone.”
Judy led her to the phone. Carnie picked up the receiver and began to dial. But as Judy turned to walk away, Carnie slammed the phone across the back of her head.
Nurse Judy collapsed to the floor, unconscious.
Martha’s blaring TV masked the noise.
Carnie scoured the living room, kitchen, and other rooms for valuables, but found none. Finally, she entered Martha’s bedroom. Martha was so engrossed in her show that she didn’t even look at the nurse when she came in.
“Who was that at the door?”
“It was me.”
“What?” Martha looked away from the TV. “Who are you?”
“I’m the person who’s not going to hurt you as long as you cooperate.”
Martha picked up the remote and muted the TV.
“What do you want?”
“Jewels, valuables—that kind of stuff.”
“I don’t have anything but costume jewelry.”
“Where’s your safe?”
“I don’t have a safe.”
Carnie walked out of the room.
Good, thought Martha. The young criminal would soon exit the back door.
But then she heard her rummaging around in the kitchen. Then silence. Carnie came back carrying a large butcher knife.
“Where’s the safe, Old Lady?”
“I told you I don’t have a safe. You’re just wasting your time here. I don’t have anything valuable. I’m poor. Can’t you see that?”
Carnie grabbed Martha’s right hand and flipped her arm over. Then she held the sharp blade against Martha’s wrist.
“Tell me, you old hag.”
Carnie only waited three seconds for a reply. When none came, she dragged the blade across Martha’s wrist and the blood began to leak out.
“Stop, stop! I’ll tell you.”
Carnie released her hand.
Martha clamped her wrist with her left hand to try to stop the bleeding.
“Where is it?”
“Behind that big mirror. You’ll need a screwdriver. There’s one in the—”
Carnie didn’t need a screwdriver. She kicked the mirror several times until it broke, jumping back as the pieces fell to the floor. “What’s the combination?”
Martha told her.
Carnie got the safe open and found some very nice pieces of jewelry, which she slid into her bag.
“So you like Murder She Wrote, huh? Yeah, it’s fun to solve the murders, isn’t it?” She walked back to Martha’s bed and picked up the knife she had dropped on the floor.
Martha was too scared to say a word. She just wanted this horrible woman to leave her house. She was afraid to think about what had happened to Nurse Judy.
Carnie held up the knife and turned it to reflect the light from the table lamp into Martha’s eyes, blinding her for a moment. “Yeah, it’s fun to be the one who solves the murders. But you know what’s even more fun? To be the murderer.”
Carnie grasped Martha’s forehead with her left hand and smashed it deep into the pillow as she thrust the knife in an upward motion through Martha’s abdomen, piercing her heart. She yanked out the knife and casually walked away, as the blood gushed out, forming red pools on each side of the dead woman’s body.
When Carnie walked into the living room, she saw Nurse Judy crawling to the front door.
Just as the nurse reached for the doorknob and tried to stand up, she felt a sharp pain in her back. She quickly lost strength and slumped down on the floor.
Carnie ripped the knife out of her back and kicked her body over.
Nurse Judy lay sprawled across the living room floor.
Carnie smiled at the nurse, as she sat down on top of her. She forced the knife into Judy’s chest slowly and repeatedly until she saw the pain leave her face, and the life go out of her eyes.
No witnesses, she thought. Just like Grandma taught her.
It was their first official date. Greg Tenorly and Cynthia Blockerman had been through quite an ordeal together—being hunted by police for the murder of her abusive husband while they ran from the real killer.
But all that was behind them now. All charges against them had been dropped, and Cynthia’s husband had been buried. And the rumors would have died down eventually if they had gone their separate ways.
They could feel the stares as they walked to their table. Greg had requested the most private booth, way in the back. Coreyville Pasta House was the oldest Italian restaurant in town. And still the best. Mama Castilla had run the place for over thirty years. She had taken over for her grandfather in 1973. A sign on the wall said so.
Cynthia ordered the Fettuccini Alfredo. Greg went with his favorite, the Chicken Parmesan. Both ordered iced tea and salad. The bread and olive oil with roasted garlic and pepper came with every meal. Greg could not resist great bread. And this was the best. He tore off a chunk as soon as the waitress delivered it. Cynthia would wait for the salad.
“So we’re finally on a real date,” said Greg.
“Yeah. So how does it feel?”
“Kinda weird and scary and…wonderful.”
Cynthia smiled and Greg momentarily forgot all about the amazing aroma in the restaurant. All he wanted to do was kiss her. But that would have to wait. So, his hunger came rushing back.
Cynthia’s mood turned serious. “I don’t want to spoil our date, but I’ve got to tell you something.”
Greg wondered if he had done something wrong. He could fix it—whatever it was.
“I’ve asked Mom to move in with me.”
“Why? I thought she was happy living in Marshall.”
“What do you mean? What happened?”
“The other night a friend of hers was murdered. And the woman lived on her street. They killed her nurse too.”
“Was it a burglary? Did she have a lot of cash or jewelry in the house?”
“She had a safe. They took whatever was in it. So, yeah, she probably has something of value, but nobody knows what.”
“But why did they have to kill an old woman and a nurse? Why didn’t they just wear a mask and tie them up?”
“I don’t know. But now Mom’s afraid. And I don’t blame her.”
“Does she keep valuables in the house?”
“No. But somebody like that would probably kill you whether you had anything or not. It could even be a serial killer.”
“Yeah, I can see why she’s not happy there anymore.”
“Besides, if she lived with me I could spend a lot more time with her.”
“I hope you two get along well.”
“Oh, we do. We never get on each other’s nerves.” Cynthia hoped this news would not scare Greg off. She was not ready to say the ‘L’ word out loud. She couldn’t even say it in her head. But it was already in her heart.
Greg walked Cynthia to her front door.
“Greg, I had a wonderful time. And I can’t believe I’d never tried the Pasta House before. It was great.”
“Yeah, I love their food. But not half as much as I love being with you.” He would hold off on telling her he loved her. Although, what he had just said was dangerously close, he thought. He just didn’t want her to freak out.
Cynthia gave him a smile that turned him to mush as she moved in close, ready for contact.
As he lowered his head to give her a light kiss, he imagined her mother peeping through the window. How would they have any privacy if she moved in? But then the warmth of Cynthia’s lips began to melt his inhibitions, and made him forget all about her mother. He stepped in as he pulled her gently toward his body. That sent a million little turned-on messengers screaming to his brain all at once.
He would later realize that it wouldn’t matter who was watching while they were kissing. You don’t care about anything else in the world when you’re completely out of your mind with ecstasy.
Cynthia was like a drug. And Greg was already addicted.