The RedeemerHarry Hole investigates a mistaken assassination
Shelley Shepard Gray
Found (Large Print)
"Most folks don't know this, but Perry was afraid of the dark."
Deborah Borntrager gazed at the Amish saying that her grandmother had neatly stitched as a sampler years and years ago and tried to embrace the notion.
But, as always, the pithy statement seemed far too corny to say and far too difficult to adopt. She'd always thought the simple saying was a little too "simple." Especially since, lately, all she was doing was looking back with regrets.
But was that the reason her mother had hung the sampler on Deborah's bedroom wall when she was a little girl? Looking backward instead of forward had long been her flaw.
After neatly securing her dark brown hair, pinning her kapp on her head, then placing her black bonnet, she walked past Perry's old room and paused for a moment in his doorway.
Her gaze swept past his unmade bed, the dust gathered on his bureau, the cobwebs in the corners of the room. The police hadn’t been in his room since the day he disappeared, yet her mother had steadfastly refused to change a thing. Not even when his lifeless body had been found at the bottom of a well.
It wasn't the way of the Amish to dwell on death, but for her family, it was hard to let Perry go. Often, Deborah heard her mother enter his room late at night, but she never sat on the bed or touched anything. Instead, she'd just stand in the room and cry.
Deborah wrapped her arms around herself, felt her grief drape her like a cloak. Swallowing hard, she backed out of the doorway and continued down the narrow hallway, past the washroom and the closed door of her parents' room, and trotted down the stairs, her shoes clicking softly on the wooden steps.
Once again, her father had left the house early for the fields, leaving the kitchen to her mother.
And once again, her mother hadn't gotten out of bed.
In the weeks since Abby Anderson had found Perry's body at the bottom of a well, her mother's health had steadily declined. She’d become weak and listless, and even tonics didn’t seem to help much.
Deborah supposed she couldn't blame her mother. No woman wanted to outlive her son. And no woman ever wanted to hear that her child had been murdered.
Instead of making coffee and breakfast for her mother like she usually did, Deborah fastened her cloak and left the house as quickly as possible. She was going to find a job today.
She had to. No longer could she spend her days at home, worrying about her parents, mourning her brother, and wishing she could redo the past. Yes, getting a job would be such a blessing in many ways. She could earn some money, have more independence, and finally have more in common with her girlfriends. Lydia Plank worked at her parents' greenhouse, Beth babysat and had a day-care service for Englischers. And Frannie Eicher? Frannie owned her own bed and breakfast!
Yes, her friends seemed to know exactly what they were doing in their lives. And each of them had experienced a bit of romance lately as well.
Lydia and Walker Anderson had begun courting. Frannie and Luke Reynolds, the city detective investigating Perry's death, were now seeing each other, too.
The Secrets of Crittenden County, Book Three by Shelley Shepard Gray. Copyright C 2012 by Shelley Shepard Gray. Reprinted by permission of Avon Inspire, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
Three months later . . .
Frannie Eicher didn’t sleep at night. Actually, she didn’t sleep that much during the day, either.
It was becoming something of a problem.
She didn’t try to stay awake on purpose; it was just that sometime over the last couple of weeks, it had become a habit. One night, she hadn’t been tired and read for hours. Once she’d realized it was past two in the morning, Frannie turned off her light and closed her eyes.
Nothing happened. She didn’t relax, didn’t yawn. Didn’t feel that comforting blanket of sleep begin to descend. Instead, guilt would creep slowly into the forefront of her mind.
And then while the red numbers on her battery-operated digital clock flickered and changed, she’d start to remember her transgressions.
Until the sun began its morning climb up to the horizon.
The following evening, the same thing happened.
By the fourth night, she’d almost begun to accept insomnia as part of her life. Kind of like praying during the morning sunrise and doing wash on Tuesdays.
The good news was that she now had a very small to-be- read pile of books on her bedside table. The bad news, of course, was that she felt permanently tired. Her muscles ached, her head pounded. She’d begun to have small, silly accidents.
Her concentration would waver.
None of these things were welcome. She was a single woman running her own business. When her bed-and-breakfast was filled with guests, she needed to be at her best in order for everything to get done.
Everything was not getting done.
Every so often, her brain would listen to her body and she’d instantly fall asleep, wherever she might be. Sometimes it would be at her desk; she’d awaken with a crick in her neck and a drool spot on the papers she was reading—and a fresh wave of embarrassment, too. No one wanted to be seen passed out in public with one’s mouth open wide.
Other times Frannie would fall asleep on the couch when she was working on her mending. Right in plain sight of all her guests!
She’d wake up besieged by feelings of guilt warring with the delicious sensation of finally feeling refreshed.
All in all, her insomnia was becoming a difficult secret to keep.
Especially from her best friend, Beth.
“Frannie, maybe you should go to a chiropractor,” she said as they pressed dough into tiny pastry molds for the mini quiches that Frannie liked to serve with fruit and muffins at breakfast.
“A chiropractor?” Frannie turned to her in surprise. She’d never thought of her friend as one who would be needing a chiropractor. To one and all, Beth was always happy and healthy. A joy to be around. “My back is just fine.”
“I’ve heard chiropractors can do wonders with other parts of your body, too. And Dr. Collins is a gut doktah, for sure.”
As she smoothed more dough in her hands, she added, “You know, he helped Katie and Mary John with their stomach ailments. Cleansed their colons, it did.”
Frannie privately thought a better diet would have helped Katie and Mary’s stomach problems years ago. She almost blurted her thoughts, but held her tongue. Detective Reynolds’s criticisms about her tendency to stick her nose into places it didn’t belong still stung.
Beth seemed to take her silence as an invitation to talk some more. “If Dr. Collins can help Katie and Mary John, he could surely help you, too. Maybe even help your sleeping problems.”
She knew what her problem was, and it wasn’t likely to be solved by a doctor’s visit. But of course, she couldn’t tell Beth that. So she kept the conversation easy.
From the book THE SEARCH: The Secrets of Crittenden County, Book Two by Shelley Shepard Gray. Copyright C 2012 by Shelley Shepard Gray. Reprinted by permission of Avon Inspire, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
A Texan's Honor
The barrel of a six-shooter was cold against Jamie’s temple. As the iron pressed on her skin, a chill raced through her body.
She should’ve kept her wool cloak on.
She thought it certainly was amazing how in the most dire circumstances, a body resorted to concentrating on the most basic of things. The gunman pressed the barrel harder against her with a shaky hand. Jamie winced and her fear crept up a notch. Closing her eyes, she waited for the inevitable. Tried her best to recite the Lord’s Prayer. Surely, that’s what God would want her to think about during her last moments on earth.
“Put that gun down, Kent,” one of the men ordered from the other side of the train car. “There’s no need to start firing on defenseless women.”
Her captor wasn’t in the mood for advice. “Shut up, McMillan. The boss might think you’re somethin’ special, but we both know you ain’t none better than the rest of us.” Reaching out with his free hand—the one not pressing the firearm to her temple—he took hold of Jamie’s arm. Wrapped five thick leather- gloved fingers around her elbow and tugged.
Jamie bit her lip so she wouldn’t cry out.
Kent noticed and grinned.
Across the aisle on the floor, one of the six men trussed like turkeys looked away.
“I’m just saying we’ve got no cause to start killing hostages,” McMillan said as he stepped closer. His tan duster glided over the planes of his body, accentuating his chest and the pure white of his cotton shirt.
“I ain’t killed no one today. Not yet, leastways.”
“Don’t start now. You heard what Boss said,” McMillan said, stepping close enough for Jamie to see faint lines of exhaustion around his eyes.
Jamie found it almost impossible to look away. The man—McMillan—spoke so quietly. So calmly. Like he was speaking of the bitter cold temperatures outside. Or the snow covering the ground. In fact, he looked almost bored, holding his Colt in his right hand and scanning the rest of them with little curiosity.
Just like none of them counted.
Jamie blinked back tears as she tried to stay as still as possible. But it was hard, because the train was still moving.
As panic,grief, and a thousand other emotions engulfed her, Jamie wondered why the Lord had placed her on this train with a band of outlaws. Both her parents had succumbed to influenza just two months ago. After selling everything she owned, she boarded the train in Denver and planned to continue traveling east on the Kansas Pacific toward Kansas City. Her future? To go live with her maiden aunts until she and Randall—her aunts’ favorite neighbor and her very recent correspondent—decided matrimony was in their future.
However, from the time she’d boarded, the journey had been difficult. She had little extra money, so she was in the second-class coach along with everyone else who couldn’t afford to travel more privately in first class. No one had needed to tell her that traveling in third class was not an option.
The card security code is an added safeguard for your credit/debit card purchases. Depending on the type of card you use, it is either a three- or four-digit number printed on the back or front of your credit/debit card, separate from your credit/debit card number. To make shopping at The Mystery Guild® Book Club even more secure, we require that you enter this number each time you make a credit/debit card purchase. Please note that your security code will not be stored with us even if you have saved your credit/debit card information.