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Authors: Pamela M. Kelley

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Trust

BOOK: Trust
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Table of Contents

TRUST (Waverly Beach Mystery Series, #1)

By: Pamela Kelley

TRUST

By: Pamela Kelley

Published by Piping Plover Press

Copyright 2014, Piping Plover Press

All rights reserved.

Edited by Bev Katz Rosenbaum & Judith Beatty

Cover Art Copyright by Renu Sharma

www.thedarkrayne.com

ISBN: 978-0-9912435-1-8

T
his 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 person. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author. Please contact the author with any questions, at
[email protected]
 

TRUST is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Acknowledgements

A special thank you to fellow writer and editor, Cindy Tahse Dickinson, for all of your support and editorial insight. You are a wonderful editor!

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Prologue

Twenty years earlier....

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M
elissa Hopkins wanted more than anything to be home in her warm bed, securely tucked under her thick down comforter. For several hours now, she'd been sitting in a small windowless room at the local police headquarters, being interrogated by the same two cops non-stop. It made her head ache, although she supposed the drinks she'd had earlier could be a contributor to that as well.

Most of her friends had started drinking a few years ago, around age fourteen. It was common in Waverly, a beachfront community that was busy in the summer and deadly deserted in the winter months. Her friends considered her a lightweight, as she had always said no, until a few months ago on her sixteenth birthday.

Melissa closed her eyes and tried to focus, and to remember what really happened, but her memory was a confused blur. She suspected she might have blacked out for a bit. That had happened once before when she’d been drinking vodka, and this time they had been playing quarters on the beach and doing shots. It was hard to play well on the sand, plus someone had the bright idea to mix vodka with orange juice and made the losers slug shots of the drink instead of beer. Melissa's stomach did an unhappy flip just thinking about it.

"Melissa, your Mom is waiting outside to take you home. As soon as you tell us what we need to hear, you'll be on your way. You want to go home Melissa, don't you?"  The police officers seemed to taunt her. One was a tough looking Irish guy in his mid-thirties, who was clearly frustrated.  The other cop was younger looking and equally irritated. They started in again, asking the questions they'd already asked, but this time she was hearing them differently.  Her mind was too tired to protest.

"Melissa, the other two boys saw you run after Nancy with the murder weapon. Your prints are all over it, along with her blood. You were mad at Nancy—you admitted that already.  You obviously did this, Melissa."

Melissa’s head started to throb and she pressed a hand against her forehead, willing the pain to go away. "They saw me run after Nancy? Holding something?" It was so hard to focus. She had been mad at Nancy, furious even, but still, she wouldn’t have killed her. She was sure of it. But it was all a bit hazy. She remembered running, falling and then waking up to a police officer shaking her and a flashlight in her face. She was still very confused and scared and was just sober enough to know that she was in serious trouble. Was there a chance that she could have done this? The police seemed to think so, and they said they had proof.

"Yes, Melissa. Just admit you killed her; all the evidence makes it very clear. If you confess, things will go much easier for you. You could be looking at much less jail time; a huge difference Melissa. We don't think you meant to do this. You didn't mean to kill her, right Melissa?"

"No, I didn't mean to kill her." Melissa felt bewildered, like she was being pulled underwater or in some kind of surreal dream.

"Say you killed her and you can go home. We can all go home." Their voices were kinder and softer now and Melissa really, really wanted to go home. She'd lost track of how many hours she'd been in this room, but it was much too long.

"I guess maybe I did it, I'm not really sure. I must have though, right?"

"Yes, good girl, Melissa. We'll go get your mother."

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Chapter One

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L
auren Stanhope stared out the window at the falling snow and marveled at the picture-perfect scene outside. It was just starting to get dark, and the dusky pink sky cast a warm glow over the neighborhood, which was a collection of meticulously maintained Victorian homes, many with intricate gingerbread woodwork now delicately frosted in a light covering of snow.

"You girls are so tiny," Nellie Chapman said as she pulled in the fabric around Lauren's waist tight and jabbed in a pin to mark the spot.

Lauren's friend and soon to be sister-in-law, Amy, snickered at that and Lauren shot her a look. Nellie was a sweetheart, and a close friend of the family, but she was also in her early 80's, and though she did fabulous work as a seamstress, she'd made the same comment at the bridesmaid fitting for Amy's wedding and took all their dresses in so much that they popped loose whenever they moved the wrong way. Though she'd agreed to use Nellie, Lauren wasn't going to let that happen again.

"Could you please leave it a little looser than you normally would? I have a tendency to gain weight when I'm stressed out. Better safe than sorry right?”

Nellie pushed her glasses back in place and glared at the spot she'd just pinned. With a painful sigh, she whipped out the pin and let some material out.

"I don't like it," she muttered as she jabbed the pin back in to its new spot.

"Thank you, that's perfect." Lauren smiled at the older woman who was still frowning at the beautiful wedding dress.

"Okay dear, leave it here in the dressing room. Amy and I will wait for you in the den."

Once Nellie and Amy left, Lauren peeled off the wedding dress and climbed back into her work clothes of gray flannel trousers and a soft caramel cashmere sweater. She peeked out the tiny window in the dressing room and got another little thrill from the sight of the falling snow. The first snowfall of the year always affected her that way; she got as excited as a little kid at the sight of the fat snowflakes drifting down. The cozy scene made her think of the warm feeling she always felt around the holidays and how she'd longed for years to create her own family and try to capture and keep that magical feeling all year.

Lauren still couldn't believe how much her life had changed in the past two years, moving back here, meeting David, falling in love and actually having that love returned. She was tempted to pinch herself because it really did seem too good to be true that in a little over a month she'd be married and on her way to having the perfect life that she'd always dreamed of. She would hopefully even have a new home since she and David had been house hunting and found several houses that had potential. Still, she couldn't shake the feeling that it could all slip away in a moment, and that she was crazy to think she deserved to have that kind of happiness. She knew how quickly things could change when you least expected it. But, she reminded herself that it was just the nerves talking, and that it was normal for a bride-to-be to experience pre-wedding jitters.

"Lauren, your student is on TV, come quick," Amy called. She was one of the first people Lauren had met when she moved to town, as they were both teachers at the local high school.  Lauren crossed the hall into a small sitting room, where Amy and Nellie were sitting on a cozy sofa and watching the news on a big screen TV.

"His name is Eric, right?" Amy asked, as the photo of the young teen flashed across the screen.

"Yes, Eric Armstrong. He's been out for the past three days. I thought he was sick. The flu has been going around something fierce."

"It's not the flu. He's missing. Do you think he might have run away?"

Lauren thought for a moment. "It's possible. I know he's been having some issues at home. We've met a few times after school recently, trying to figure out a way to help him focus better in class."

"Poor kid," Amy said.

"Let's hope he just ran away," Nellie said, voicing what they'd all been thinking. At least if he ran away there was a good chance he'd come back.

Chapter Two

David Bishop had a standing dinner date every Tuesday night at Hannigan's pub. His grandfather was already seated at his usual booth when David arrived and joined him.

"Glad you could make it," was his grandfather's usual greeting, as if there was any doubt that David would be there. Both of them looked forward to these dinners. At ninety-one years of age, Gramps was all David had left for family and he really did enjoy his company. Gramps was still as sharp as a tack and had more energy than many people half his age. It had been difficult for David when he lost his mother to lung cancer just over two years ago, and his grandfather had been through a lot too, as he had also lost his wife. David's grandmother had passed away around that same time. David never failed to be inspired by him. Instead of shutting down, his grandfather had blossomed and turned into a social butterfly. Though the food was good at Hannigan's, his grandfather freely admitted that the people—particularly the young friendly waitresses who showered him with attention and laughed at his jokes—were the reason he came as often as he did.

"David, do you know Allison?" Gramps was chatting with a pretty blonde waitress who had just delivered his drink, a frothy Kahlua sombrero. Gramps wasn't a big drinker, but often had a single sombrero, which he said reminded him of a milkshake. 

"Hi, Allison," David said as he sat down across from his grandfather.

"David's my grandson. He's getting married in a month." His grandfather beamed at that. He was a huge fan of Lauren.

David ordered a beer and they decided to split a pizza. They both agreed that the best thing on Hannigan's menu was the bar pizza. The rumor was that they'd bought the recipe from a restaurant in the next county. The crust was unusual, crisp and a little flaky. The tomato sauce was fresh and sweet and there was always plenty of cheese.  Best of all, on Tuesday nights they ran a buy-one get-one special.

"This is the best deal in town," Gramps announced with enthusiasm as Allison set their steaming pizzas in front of them. As he always did, David agreed with him, and they dug in.

"Pity about that missing kid. It's been on the news all afternoon. You hear anything from Jack about it?"  His grandfather asked as he reached for his third slice.

"No. I haven't talked to him in a few days. He's meeting me here a little later though for a drink. Have your guys heard anything?" Gramps had served as the town sheriff for many years and still kept in touch with some of the current officers who were sons of his former men. There was a small group of officers, most retired for many years, who met up every Saturday for lunch. Gramps probably knew almost as much as Jack did about what was going on in town, and Jack was the current assistant sheriff.

"Just sounds like he ran away. Shame, that. Kids feeling like they have to run away." Gramps finished off the last bite of pizza on his plate and dabbed at the side of his mouth with a napkin. "That was damn good, as usual."

"You should stay and have a drink with Jack. He should be here soon. He'd love to see you." David reached for the last slice; as usual, they'd easily finished one pizza and Gramps would take the leftovers home.

Gramps considered that for a moment. "Tell him I said hello. I can't stay though. I've had my one drink for the night; if I have another I'll be plastered."

David smiled at that. They both knew Gramps had never been 'plastered' a day in his life. One drink was all he ever wanted.

BOOK: Trust
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