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Beverly Stowe McClure
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In the small garden tucked in a secluded spot between the hospital and street, Casey found his leather jacket, lying on the ground under the redwood bench. When he stooped to pick it up, he saw the wilted bluebonnet. “She was here, and I don’t think she left willingly.”
Jennifer Barret glanced at the clock on the white wicker table beside her bed for at least the hundredth time that night. Midnight. She paced, her arms hugged across her chest.
“Where are you, Dad?” she whispered. “Why are you so late?”
She paused by the phone, lifted the receiver, and dialed her father’s office at Orion Laboratories. The answering machine clicked on. She hung up. Something was wrong. But what?
In her mind she played back her father’s phone call earlier. How long ago was it? Six o’clock, she thought. She was on her way out the door to go to the basketball game with her best friend, Iris, when he called. Saxet High was one win away from the state tournament, but her dad told her to stay home until he got there. He had sounded tense, jittery, even frightened. So she obeyed. And that was the last she had heard from him.
She tossed a pile of shirts and jeans to one side, flopped down on her bed, and ruffled the ears of the blue-speckled dog curled on the pillows. “Dad’s not at work, Chopin,” she said. “Where do you suppose he is?”
The dog opened one eye a hairline crack and yawned.
Jen joked to hide the unease growing inside her. “What’s that you say, boy? You think Dad is at Lani’s, doing whatever old people do on a date? Do they kiss?”
She wrinkled her nose at the thought. “If Dad is at Lani’s, then why did he order me to stay home, when he hasn’t shown up? Thanks to his phone call, I missed the most important game of the season.” She sighed. “I don’t understand him anymore. Ever since he met Lani he’s acted like a lovesick schoolboy, while here I sit, bored to death. It isn’t fair.”
With her emotions switching from worry to irritation, she dialed Lani’s house, ready to complain, and got her second recorded message of the evening. She dropped the receiver in its cradle. “I do not talk to machines,” she told Chopin.
The dog sat up, his amber eyes alert and on his girl.
Soft music rolled from the CD player--Schubert’s La Serenade. Branches of the mulberry tree outside her open window scraped against the roof. The red-and-white curtains rustled in the crisp spring breeze. Jen shivered and hurried to close the window. The glare of headlights coming down Harmony Road caught her eye. “Dad’s home,” she said with relief. “Finally.”
The vehicle drew even with the iron gate at the end of the gravel drive, half a mile from the house, but instead of turning in, it stopped and sat there for a minute. Even at that distance she could see it was a car. Her father drove a pickup. The car then sped off, disappearing around a bend in the road.
“It wasn’t Dad,” she said, disappointed. “This isn’t like him, Chopin. He always calls me when he’s delayed. Or when he’s going to Lani’s.”
At that moment, the phone rang, making her jump. She grabbed it. “Dad, what is going on? Do you know what time it is? When are you coming home?”
Silence on the other end.
The line went dead. Wrong number? She hung up.
The phone rang again.
She yanked it to her ear. “Listen, you... you creep. I don’t know who you are, or what game you’re playing, but it’s rude to hang up on a person. Get some manners. Talk to me. Say something.”
A deep, masculine voice said, “Jennifer? What’s wrong? You sound upset.”
“Oh, Mitch. I thought... Never mind.” She stretched across the bed, her anger fading. “I’m okay. But it’s been a strange night. Did you call me a few minutes ago?”
“Someone did, but they hung up, without a word. It was probably kids playing a joke, choosing numbers out of the phone book, the way we used to, saying ‘Is your refrigerator running? You’d better catch it.’ Remember?”
“Yeah,” Mitch said, a hint of worry in his voice. “Are you there alone, Jennifer?”
When she was in eighth grade, Beverly’s teacher sent her poem, “Stars,” to a contest for students, and she became a published author in Young America Sings an Anthology of Texas High School Poetry.
Forty years later, she sent an article on fire safety to Happiness magazine, and it was published.
In between, she attended high school, played clarinet in the band, was a majorette, and graduated. Then she got married to Jack and had three sons, David, Rex, and Scott. She went to college, graduated with a teaching certificate, and had a fourth son, Kelly. She taught children in elementary school for twenty-two years. Writing was the farthest thing from her mind.
Before she knew it, her sons were grown and married. Now she has five granddaughters, two grandsons, one great-grandson, and a great-granddaughter. (She married very young.)
She and Jack live in the country, outside of Iowa Park, not far from Wichita Falls where she was born. They’re both retired, Jack from firefighting, Bev from teaching. They like to travel. She co-teaches a Sunday school class. To relax, she plays the piano, tries to make flowers grow under the hot Texas sun with little water, and has discovered many interesting ancestors in her genealogy research.
And she writes most every day.
Computers, animals, burglaries, motor-cycle accidents and stormy weather make this novel a suspenseful read with plenty of page-turning excitement. I am looking forward to more from this writer. -- Reviewer Rating: ***** Stars , Copyright © 2000 by M. Poulson-vick
From the first paragraph to the last page this book keeps the pages scrolling. The well-written intrigue, romance and mystery story line is fast-paced without speeding past too quickly to savor the good parts. ... The romance in this story is curl-your-toes sweet—the perfect relationship for a true first love. This is a must-read for summer entertainment for girls ages 11 and up. -- Reviewed by Wanda Horton, for Blue Iris Journal.
Book Publisher: Wings ePress
No. of Pages: 188
Paper Weight (lb): 8.2
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