Should we wake Bernice?” Ida asked. “I’m only going to tell this story once.”
“Leave her alone. She doesn’t give a rat’s ass what you do,” Sophie said. “Hurry it up, Ida. I’m dying to go smoke.”
Toots nodded. Though she and Sophie had managed to cut down on their habit, big-time, they both still required a puff or two in the morning. Pretty soon they’d be down to only a single cigarette a day. When that day ?nally arrived, they had both vowed to toss their cigarettes away for good.
Ida looked down her slim, patrician nose. “All right, I suppose you all have a right to know.” She gazed at the three other women seated around the table. “I’ve just learned that I’m going to have an opportunity to audition my new line of cosmetics for The Home Shopping Club.” There, now it was out.
Toots looked at Ida as though she had a horn growing out of her head. Sophie curled her lip in disgust. Even Mavis looked shocked. Jamie, ever the diplomat, busied herself washing the baking sheet.
Toots ?nally took control. “Ida, darling, I realize how successful you’ve become, and I completely respect and admire you for all you’ve achieved.” She paused, thinking of what to say next. “But this . . . There are limits to one’s entrepreneurship! Don’t you think this is taking your cosmetics just a bit too far?” For a brief second, Toots had to wonder if Ida had totally lost her marbles.
Ida rolled her eyes. “I am not referring to Drop-Dead Gorgeous. Good grief. Did you actually thing I would . . . Oh, never mind. Of course you would think that.” Sophie pulled her chair away from the table and got up. “I’m going outside. Now. Something tells me that whatever is about to come out of her mouth is about as important as this hot smoke I’m about to suck into my lungs.”
“Sophie, you’re being rude,” Mavis said. “Now, sit back down and let us hear what Ida has to say. She would do it for you, wouldn’t you, Ida?” Mavis sent an overly sweet smile winging across the table.
Ida raised her perfectly arched eyebrows. “Truthfully? Probably not, so go ahead and blacken your lungs. I want another cup of coffee, anyway.” Ida got up and brought the pot of coffee over to the table. Meanwhile, Sophie scurried out the door, where she lit a cigarette and took several quick puffs before stepping back inside.
“Quick, grab a camera,” Sophie said as she made her way over to the table. “This must be special, because I don’t think I have ever seen Ida carry a coffeepot. Period.”
They all laughed. Even Ida smirked as she took her seat again.
“Shut up, Soph. Let’s hear what Ida has to say,” Toots declared, becoming impatient with the silly bantering.
“Okay, but don’t expect a drumroll from me,” Sophie said as she plopped back down on her chair. More rolling of eyes around the table. Jamie, who still had not said a word, continued to scrub the baking sheet until it gleamed.
Ida straightened in her chair and adjusted her shoulders before responding. “You all act like a bunch of teenagers. I swear, it’s hard to believe you’re as old as you are.”
“And you’re just as old, so go on. Spit it out. I have things I have to do today,” Sophie said, her voice full of annoyance.
“Sophie’s right. We all have a busy day ahead. I have to take Bernice to rehab today. Spill it, Ida, so we can all go on with our day.”
From BREAKING NEWS by Fern Michaels. Copyright © 2012 by MRK Productions. Fern Michaels is a Registered Tradmark of First Draft Inc. All Rights Reserved. Published by arrangement with Kensington Publishing Corp.
Mikala Aulani looked around her office for the last time. Now that her thirty-five-year professional life was packed up in boxes and the pictures, diplomas, and photographs off the wall, her personal space looked huge. Jay would have to paint the walls to cover up the telltale signs of where all the plaques had been hung. She eyed her old leather chair, which swiveled and rocked. She really had meant to have the crack in the leather repaired; it had been on her to-do list for years and years. She wondered now why it was she’d never taken the time to do it. But, then, she found herself wondering about a lot of things lately, not that it made a difference.
Jay Brighton and Linda Carpenter, husband and wife and newly minted senior partners, carried the packed and taped boxes out to the reception area. At some point later that day, someone would come and take them to a storage unit Kala had rented a month ago. All except for the single box that sat on top of her desk. That box was going with her. She was personally going to carry it down to the underground garage and personally put it on the passenger seat of her car, then drive it to her home, where she would put it in a closet in her bedroom. Sophie Lee deserved a closet rather than a storage unit, where her records would never again see the light of day.
Jay Brighton stood in the doorway. “That about does it, Kala. Told you we’d have this locked down in time for you to make your retirement luncheon.”
Kala looked up at her former partner and grimaced. “I decided I’m not going. Call Ben and tell him I have a bellyache.”Ben was Judge Benjamin Jefferson, Kala’s significant other of twenty-five years. Ben had retired two weeks earlier, and Kala had thrown a surprise luncheon, inviting all of his peers. For no other reason except retaliation, Ben had decided to do the same for her. His theory was if he’d had to suffer through the shitty food, the boring speeches, and the overblown testimonials, then so should she. Newly retired Judge Ben Jefferson loved Kala Aulani heart and soul.
Everyone said they were a match made in heaven. Sometimes, Kala believed it, and other times, she didn’t.
Steeping into the office, Jay replied, “Oh, no, I’m not calling him! You’re on your own, Kala. Hey, you aren’t my boss anymore, so don’t you dare look at me with those puppy-dog eyes. No! You sold Linda and me the firm, and I absolutely do not have to take orders anymore. Not showing up at your very own retirement luncheon would be a pretty crappy thing to do,” Jay said vehemently. Kala grinned as she stared up at her old partner. Six-foot-seven,probably the tallest lawyer ever to grace a courtroom. An imposing giant of a man, with his flaming red hair, which he hated, and his freckles, which, if anything, he hated even more. Juries loved him and his folksy manner. They likened him to themselves, just plain old ordinary people. They were wrong, of course, because there was nothing in the least ordinary about Jay Brighton, Attorney at Law. Jay had graduated at the top of his law class, had a photographic memory that did double time acting as a steel trap. He was almost as good a lawyer as she was, Kala thought. She’d trained him well, and he’d listened to every pearl of wisdom that came out of her mouth, soaking it all up like a sponge.
From TUESDAY'S CHILD by Fern Michaels Copyright ©2012 by MRK Productions
After dinner with the first couple, the girls went to their rooms while Sophie met the first lady in her private suite. Slender, with a head of thick brown hair, and sparkling brown eyes, the former journalist was as bubbly in private as she was in public. Sophie liked her immediately.
“I’m not sure where to start,” she said. “I’ve never done anything like this before. When I heard about your success, I just knew it was something I had to try. The nightmares are so real, I must admit, I’ve been terribly ill at ease.”
Sophie could feel the woman’s uneasiness. “There are numerous ways to communicate with those who have passed. Why don’t you tell me about your dreams first, then we can decide what is best for you.”
“All right. I’m sure you know the story behind my uncle’s assassination; the entire world still speculates on exactly what happened in Dallas that day. I was just a child, only eight years old, yet my memory of that day is very clear.”
Sophie listened intently.
“I remember my mother, she’d just returned from a trip, but I don’t recall where she’d been. She was crying so hard; I’d never seen her cry before. She was always such a strong woman. It scared me to see her like that. The house was instantly occupied with Secret Service, we were told we couldn’t do anything without one of them present.” She paused and removed a tissue from the box on the table to her side. “Of course, I was aware our family was in the public eye, but I wasn’t used to having strangers swarming all over our home. But this doesn’t matter. You didn’t come here to listen to my childhood memories. The dreams, the nightmares started about a year ago. In my dream, I am walking in a tunnel, and there are hundreds of people around me, pushing and shoving one another in their attempt to get to the end of the tunnel. There are two men, who seem to hover above the crowd. They have guns, and on their faces are these horribly wicked smiles. Then there is a very loud noise, and in my dream I know it’s a gunshot. I try to get away from all the people, but I’m frozen, my legs won’t move. Those evil men above me have some sort of invisible hold on me. I struggle, and still can’t move. Then I hear the same loud noise, the one I know is a gun being fired. I have to get out of that tunnel because I know if I don’t, someone will die. I continue to struggle, but I’m not going anywhere. Then there is this maniacal laughter followed by a vision, or a flash, I’m not sure what it is, of my uncle’s face. He’s is trying to tell me something of great importance. And then I wake up.”
Understanding, Sophie nodded.
From DEADLINE by Fern Michaels. Copyright © 2012 by MRK Productions. Fern Michaels is a Registered Trademark of First Draft, Inc. All rights reserved. Published by arrangement with Kensington Publishing Corp.
At dusk they gathered to speak to the dead. With Sophie acting as their spiritual guide, the official leader of their weekly séances, the four women—Teresa Amelia “Toots” Loudenberry, Ida McGullicutty, Mavis Hanover, and Sophia “Sophie” Manchester, lifelong friends of more than fifty years—each took her seat around the old wooden dining table left behind by the former pop star who’d lived in the beach house before Toots purchased it almost a year earlier.
Sophie had read somewhere that once wood was charged with an unnatural entity, it acted as a conductor. When Toots remodeled the house, they’d kept the table for the sole purpose of conducting séances. Using a purple silk sheet for a tablecloth and a drinking glass to serve as an instrument to act as their tool for communication should a spirit decide to join them, Sophie did what she always did before they began. She said her prayer.
“Oh great one, bless this dump and those who inhabit it, living or dead.”
Toots kicked her on the shin beneath the table. Sophie cast a wicked eye at her best friend, as if to say, “I’ll kick your rear end later.”
Sophie took her bottle of holy water and spritzed it around the table. She flicked a few extra droplets in Toots’s face just to tick her off.
She sat back down in her chair, tucking the small bottle of holy water inside her pocket. “We are here to communicate with the other side. We are friendly. We mean no harm.” Sophie said this at the beginning of every séance she conducted. Who knew what kind of evil lurked in other dimensions?
“Let’s place our fingertips on the glass. Very gently,” Sophie instructed.
When the tips of their fingers were lightly touching the glass, Sophie scanned the others. All three had their eyes closed. Good. They were learning. She closed her own.
“If there is anyone who wishes to make contact, we are willing to allow you into our realm,” she said in place of the word home. She really wanted to say home, as it sounded so much more inviting. Couldn’t have a spirit believing they weren’t welcome. “Come into our home,” she added, suddenly changing her mind.
No air circulated in the room, yet the candles she had lit earlier flickered as though a slight breeze had passed through the room. Sophie opened her eyes, shocked at what she saw.
Hundreds of tiny white lights, orbs they were called, spun around the room so fast it was hard to follow the movement.
“What the hell?” Toots blurted in total amazement.
“Shh,” Sophie cautioned. “I’m not sure what’s happening.”
From LATE EDITION by Fern Michaels. Copyright © 2011 by MRK Productions. Fern Michaels is a Registered Trademark of First Draft Inc. All rights reserved.
Alex Rocket’s normally steady hand trembled as he punched the end button on the telephone and placed it on the butcher block island in the center of the kitchen. He glanced at the phone as though it were evil, a thing to fear, then scanned the room, reminiscing. So many happy moments had occurred in the cherry red and white haven. Kate’s numerous recipes were created here. Some good, some not so good, but most of all, Alex recalled the happiness he always felt in the large, cheery kitchen. O’Keefe & Merritt retro red appliances, handmade oak cabinets, Kate’s collection of pottery, some she’d made herself, and several small pots filled with fragrant herbs, dozens of cookbooks lining built-in shelves, all contributing to the kitchen’s merry atmosphere.
The Ruffoni cookware Alex had purchased for Kate as a wedding gift still sparkled, bright and coppery, as it hung from the rack in the center of the kitchen. No diamonds and gold for Kate. A sad smile touched the corner of his mouth as he recalled asking Kate what she’d like for a wedding gift. She’d wanted Ruffoni cookware—copper and handmade in Italy. He scanned the contents of the kitchen as though he were in a museum. Each and every fork, knife, and spoon held a memory. Bowls, plates, and filet knives, had all at one time or another played such an insignificant role in his everyday life that he never gave a thought to the object, other than its basic use. Now, however, all the inanimate objects in the kitchen held new meaning. With every fork, knife, and spoon he had shared a meal with Kate, maybe Gertie. Unbeknownst to Kate, he’d even spoon-fed a few of the pups from the everyday dishes. All of these memories cascaded through his mind like a waterfall. He couldn’t stop them; he felt as though he would drown in the sheer abundance of them there were so many. Most of his memories were good ones, too. If only he could turn back the clock to gentler times. Hell, if only he could turn the clock back one hour. A sudden sense of foreboding engulfed him like a shroud. As of this very hour, the hands of time swiftly changed the course of life as he knew it. From that second forward, life as he knew it would never be the same.
From Betrayal by Fern Michaels. Copyright © 2011 by MRK Productions. Fern Michaels is a Registered Trademark of First Draft, Inc. All rights reserved. Published by arrangement with Kensington Publishing Corp.
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