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When a surly stranger threatens the life of her rescue collie, Candy, and she hears a voice crying for help in a vacant house, Jennet Greenway suspects that her first summer as a new wife may be tumultuous.
But she can’t imagine the storms swirling around her Victorian farmhouse in Foxglove Corners and their power to change her life forever.
The produce section of Blackbourne’s Grocers was an unlikely place to encounter a devil, but there he was—Gage Howard in a garish red shirt tossing baking potatoes into a plastic bag. He had acquired a sunburn, severe enough to reinforce the image of damned souls with pitchforks.
For an instant I considered turning my shopping cart around and backtracking to the pasta and wine aisle.
Ignominious retreat? No! Just walk quickly past him. Look the other way.
“Mrs. Ferguson.” He slammed a large potato down on an unlucky loaf of bread. “Not so fast. I want to talk to you.”
I kept walking. He put out one beefy hand and stopped the cart.
We were alone in the aisle but not in the store. At this hour, there were about twenty-five people, including employees, in the building. I raised my voice, made it commanding and uncompromising. “Let me pass.”
“As soon as I say my piece.”
He shoved my cart out of the aisle’s center, keeping his hand firm on the handle.
“I’m not interested in anything you have to say.”
I tried to move the cart forward, but he held it in a tight grip. In our brief moment of stand-off I couldn’t help noticing his eyes. Cold hazel and intensely bright, they had a frightening, mesmerizing quality. The eyes of a serpent, I thought.
“I don’t care,” he said. “You’re going to listen. You had no right to set the police on my trail. I’m just protecting my property. It’s my right to do that.”
I hadn’t intended to speak to him again but couldn’t let his assumption go unchallenged.
“I didn’t call the police. The deputy sheriff who spoke to you is my husband. He owns the dog you threatened to shoot. Now you know. Let go of my cart.”
“I’m not done talking to you yet. I have something else to say...”
“You’re mistaken. You are.”
Dave, the store’s dapper manager, came hurrying up the aisle toward us, his signature amiable expression sober. “Is everything all right here, ma’am?” he asked.
“It is now.”
While Dave stood in front of us, assessing the situation, I took the opportunity to wrench the basket free and steer it around the corner. My heart was pounding and my hand shaking. Blackbourne’s Grocers was a country store located on a relatively isolated road. How safe was I if Howard decided to pursue his agenda when Dave went back to his office?
Were those heavy footsteps behind me? I grabbed the first bottle of wine in my reach and looked quickly over my shoulder.
Yes. They belonged to another tall, burly man, one with a benign appearance. Not Gage Howard.
Still, I felt in my purse for my cell phone. By good fortune, it was there. I slipped it into my pocket and finished my tour of the aisles, adding only essentials to my basket. I had planned to stock up on cleaning supplies and paper products. Now I saw the folly in burdening myself with bulky grocery bags.
I can ask for a carry-out, I thought.
That would afford me a modicum of protection in the lot. Then I’d be safe in my car. I’d have quick access to the cell if the beige sedan, or whatever car Howard was driving now, showed up in my rearview mirror.
This unanticipated problem had turned a routine shopping trip into a full-fledged dilemma. In a calmer moment, I realized I’d elevated an ill-tempered, mean-spirited bully to demon status. The man was certainly dangerous, but perhaps not as lethal as I thought. And he might be stupid, but surely he was too smart to launch an attack on a woman in a grocery store.
I was angry at myself for letting this chance encounter unsettle me. But, in my defense, Gage Howard had caught me off guard. Who expects to be waylaid in a grocery store?
Thanks to Dave’s timely intervention, that hadn’t happened. Yet.
I didn’t see Howard again until I was in line at the check-out counter with one person in front of me and two behind me.
Dorothy Bodoin lives in Royal Oak, Michigan, with her collie, Wolf Manor Kinder Brightstar. She graduated from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in English literature and taught secondary English in Michigan for several years. Her first published book was Darkness At Foxglove Corners, the first of the Jennet Greenway series. Her most recent Foxglove Corners book is The Collie Connection, winner of Wings’ Golden Wings Award in June, 2009. She has written fifteen cozy mysteries and novels of romantic suspense and one Gothic romance.
Book Publisher: Wings ePress
No. of Pages: 372
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