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Antique Armor
Billie A. Williams
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June’s sister Belinda’s psychiatrist, Belinda’s lawyer, and their father were all good friends. They knew how Frank Fab

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The antique store was a new beginning for June. She was determined to start over after leaving behind all the broken pieces of her life and relationships. Being close to family again had its perks and its problems. Derek’s death spun the family off its axis, but they would recover. It seemed they always did.

The hum of conversation in Daily’s Diner was like the om of a sitting Zen master. She allowed it to sooth her as the soup warmed her insides. The door burst open. “Fire!” A man jolted the collective patrons of the café. His face was contorted and deep red as if he had exhausted himself running to tell everyone.

He motioned down the street. “Jeske’s. Lightening strike.” Breathless, he spun around and headed out the door again. Several of the men dropped bills on their respective tables, grabbed their coats and rushed out. The volunteer fire department drew men and woman from across the community. The rest of the people in the small cafe watched as the men rushed out. Then, they began their own rush to follow the proceedings, not participants, but as voyeurs.

~ * ~

June watched in dismay from her antique store’s front window.

Jeske’s Market was a land mark. It had been the local market for nearly every kind of goods a person could want. It was an essential part of the community. Pickle barrel and pot bellied stove included described the cluttered and diversified old general store. The people here needed the Market as much as the market needed their business. It would be devastating to Ma & Pa Jeske if they lost the store. Sirens spilled into the milieu as people rushed to do what they could to save bits and pieces of Jeske’s life and dreams. Since they lived in the apartment above the store, the loss would double for them, both home and business up in smoke.

Rain continued to pour in torrential sheets hampering would be helpers trying to pull things from the building before the fire consumed them. How could a fire burn in a rainstorm? She never understood that concept. Their faces as bleak as the weather the Jeske’s huddled together under an oil cloth blanket. Fate. You never know what life will throw at you.

Belinda worked her way around onlookers, being careful not to sully her shoes in the puddles. June grinned at the little clear plastic boots that covered Belinda’s high heels. Fashion first, rainstorm, blizzard, what have you, Belinda wouldn’t sacrifice style for practicality. The see-through raincoat and boots wouldn’t hide the brilliant red coat, or shoes she wore today.

June backed away from the door as Belinda burst in stamping and shaking the rain from her shoes, coat and umbrella. “Looks like another eye sore will be no more. What started it all?”

“Lightening strike, they say.” June moved toward the interior of the showroom away from the windows. “Too bad, too. The Jeske’s won’t be able to rebuild. I’m sure of it.”

“Well the place was past its time anyway. Everyone shops the new malls now, not downtown.”

June didn’t like Belinda’s attitude. Out with the old-in with the new was her mantra. She never liked to review anything history may have taught them. That was not something that would concern Belinda.

“I just came by to tell you about Derek’s funeral arrangements.” Belinda removed her long leather gloves as she paced the aisles of the store.

June half-expected her to put on a white glove to check the antiques for dust.

“How do you bear to spend your days dealing with all this old junk?” She emphasized the ‘old’ and scrunched her face into a disgusted mask.

“Antiques, I love them. They have so much rich history…so much to teach us.”

“Whatever.” Belinda waved her hand as if dissipating gnats that were hovering over her. “The PD won’t release Derek’s remains. They insist on an autopsy. What part of death-suicide-by hanging don’t they get?”

Her harshness stabbed at June’s insides. “They don’t believe it was suicide.” She watched Belinda’s face for a reaction.

Belinda’s face drained of all color. For a minute June thought she was about to faint. She regained her composure in a flash and spun around. “Ridiculous. He has his head in a noose. He is hanging from a rafter. He wasn’t trussed up like some mob hit.”

“I’m only repeating what I heard. Besides, Aimee said he’d just asked her to marry him.”

“That’s bull. He told me last week he was ready to dump her. She was too, what was the word he used—smothering—that’s it. He wanted out.”

There was no point in arguing with Belinda. June knew from experience Belinda knew it all and she was always right, at least in her own mind. June didn’t say any more. She went back to watching the tragedy down the street. “I wonder what they’ll do now?” She spoke more to herself than Belinda.

“I imagine we’ll seek a court order to have his body released. This is nonsense. We need to get this finished and move on.”

That was her answer for everything. Bury it and move on. “Wouldn’t you be the least curious if it was murder instead of suicide?”

“First off, I can’t see how, considering the way he died. How it could be anything but suicide boggles my mind.”

June was sure she had seen more than one movie where a faked suicide turned out to be a cleverly disguised murder. There was something in Belinda’s voice that bothered, but she couldn’t form it into a reason. “They’re the experts. I guess we need to leave that determination to them.”

Belinda harrumphed and pulled on her long gloves. “Whatever, I’m not sitting still for it.”

June shrugged. She learned long ago when Belinda got a bee in her bonnet there was no arguing her out of it.

“We all do what we think we must. By the way…” June suddenly decided to see if Belinda knew anything about the suit of armor.

Belinda raised her eyebrows in anticipation.

“Come with me. I had a crate delivered this morning.” She walked toward the back room as she spoke. Belinda followed her. “This, it appears, is an antique suit of armor

Amusement, then fear, crossed Belinda’s face in a flash before she turned away.

“Where’d you get that? With a note of disgust she fanned her hand at the crate as though it were a corpse in a casket.

“I have no clue. The delivery driver said they only deliver and do not question anything other than where and when. There’s no note about who, where, or why?”

“Obviously someone was cleaning house.” Ignoring the crate, Belinda adjusted her hat in a reflection from the window. “I really must be going. Good luck with your little...” She fluttered her fingers again over her shoulder. “Guest. It’s probably a mistake.”

June felt a chill wrap around her. It seemed to brush past her toward Belinda. She stumbled, but caught herself on the door frame. She glared at June as though she had pushed her.

“You better be careful when you handle old junk. You never know where it’s been. These floors are horribly uneven.” She brushed a glove against glove as though the door frame that prevented her from toppling had been dirty. The door of June’s office jiggled as if someone tried to close it after Belinda.

June stood transfixed watching Belinda make a hasty exit from the store.

~ * ~

Lights flickered as the thunder rumbled once again. It appeared the storm was prepared to linger over them the whole day. June picked up the worn bill of lading and dialed the number again. Someone was sure to be at the warehouse or storage facility sooner or later. There was no point in uncrating the armor until she made absolutely sure it was meant for her. Why her and not a museum?

A gravelly woman’s voice answered the phone on the third ring. “Store it, Sell it.” She said without elaborating further.

Caught off guard June nearly dropped the phone. The place had a bad reputation, from drugs to contraband between countries. They had even been connected to truck loads of migrant’s that had turned up cooked in over-loaded, unsanitary oven-hot trucks abandoned in the desert as they tried, illegally, to enter the country. No proof yet, they skirted the law somehow. She wasn’t sure she wanted to pursue the who and why of the armor. She should turn it over to Jessica and let her try to sort it out. If the crate and armor had anything to do with that place, it was more than likely bad news.

“Could I speak to someone about a delivery I received this morning?” Cautiously, June formed her sentences, not sure exactly how far, or if, she dared pursue this.

“What kind of order we talking about, honey?” The woman questioned, her voice grating on June’s composure.

June paused. Why would they have a suit of armor; why would it be delivered to her? She glanced through the crate at the black-gray metallic suit. She noticed a small white rose painted on the shoulder plate of the armor. Maybe, she should talk to Jessica first…it bothered her, this piece of history and the chill that seemed to accompany it. Without answering the woman, she slowly replaced the phone in the cradle, and paced around the crate scrutinizing the armor for the first time as if it was more than a mistake. What if it is exactly as intended? Was it connected to her brother’s murd…death—somehow? Why had murder crossed her mind just then instead of suicide?


Award winning Mystery/Suspense author Billie A Williams is a fiction, non-fiction and poetry author and has won numerous contests for her short/flash fiction stories, essays, and poetry with over two dozen works published. She is published in various magazines such as the literary magazine Thema; Guide, a Magazine for Children, Novel Advice.com, Writing Etc. WritingNow.com, and Women In The Arts newsletter as well as Sister’s in Crime, to list but a few.


Her articles, columns and features have appeared regularly in newspapers. Short stories, Flash fiction, poetry and book reviews have appeared in Mystery Time, True Love Magazine and various anthologies and on line e-zines and web sites. She writes a bi-monthly column titled “Whodunit?” for Mystery Fiction’s Voices in the Dark and is a contributing editor for Writingnow.com a Blueberry Press Newsletter. She also hosts her own writer’s group, Word Mage Writers and Readers as well as The Amberg Writers Group that meets at her home monthly. She  is an active blogger;  http://printedwords.blogspot.com and http://onewomansgarden.blogspot.com A website for writers is at http://writingwide.com where you can find plenty of tips, tricks and good reads, as well as a current novel in progress serialized in her newsletter, “Printed Words.”


Williams is currently a member of The Wisconsin Regional Writers Association (WRWA) Upper Peninsula Writers Association (UPWA)National Association of Women Writers (NAWW) Sister’s in Crime, Women in the Arts Program, Electronically Published Internet Connection (EPIC), Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. (SCBWI) and Children’s Book Insider, and the Children Writers Coaching Club. Her website www.billiewilliams.com


She lives with her husband and Lady Slipper the Maine Coon Cat she received the day she got her contract for The Pink Lady Slipper bed and breakfast murder mystery from Wings ePress so of course the kitten got the name. Amberg, is home, a small Northern Wisconsin community where the winters are cold and long, but the people are warm and friendly.


Billie A. Williams has breathed life into a believable set of characters you'll love or love to hate. The story is packed with enthralling plot twists that keep the reader glued to the page as the dark dynamics of relationships and crime unfold. Death by Candlelight holds rare delights in store for the murder mystery lover., --Susan J. Letham, http://www.Inspired2Write.com

What is innocence? What is guilt? And who is really to blame for the death of Randolph Ord III?

A domineering mother, a spoiled son, and a woman who dreams of a husband, a child, and a home. The characters in Death by Candlelight are familiar, and that's what lends them their appeal. You may sympathize with them. You may despise them. But Ms. Williams brings them to life so vividly they won't leave you cold.

The gripping murder investigation in Death by Candlelight takes the 'whodunnit and how?' a step further and explores the shades of gray that make up the 'why?' Billie Williams has studied her craft and knows how to keep a reader turning pages. The plot is substantial and full of clever surprises.

The smoothly-paced story unfolds to reveal, little by little, a dramatic tale of twisted family relationships, crime, love, envy and death: the perfect mix for a murder mystery. -- Susan J. Letham, http://www.Inspired2Write.com

Death by Candlelight portrays the unbending force upon humans to repeat generational cycles of abusers and victims. Cycles that love, faith or hope can rarely supersede. Yet, with the unraveling of a murder, we are still left with a glimmer of hope. , --  Shelly Moloney, Author Star Slurry

 DEATH BY CANDLELIGHT is a fast-paced read filled with a diverse cast of characters who each have their own motives for murder. Just when you think you've hit the calm after the storm, Williams' story takes the reader in a new and more intriguing direction. -- Shirley Kawa-Jump, THE VIRGIN’S PROPOSAL, Silhouette Romance, January 2003, Writing classes: shirleyjump-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Death By Candlelight,, The  story? TERRIFIC. I could hardly wait to finish it.. reminds me of Sydney Sheldon....  --Judy Bozicevich, Administrative Assistant,  Edward Jones Company

Every time I thought I had Death by Candlelight figured out, Williams threw in a new twist that left me thinking, I DIDN'T see that coming! Death By Candlelight isn't so much a "Who-Done-It" as it is a character driven story filled with more twists than a Colorado mountain road. It's a quick read without any lulls in the action. Death by Candlelight is a fabulous first novel by Wisconsin writer, Billie Williams. Be sure to watch her career--I'm sure we'll hear from her again--at least I hope we do!  -- Beth Erickson, http://filbertpublishing.com

Fire At Thunder Ridge: “Bloody footprints in the snow--the most puzzling fire  I’ve ever heard about--once wasn’t enough for this book.  I had to go back & read it a second time to admire Billie Williams’ inventiveness  & vivid imagery all over again.” -- Fran Keighley, Golden Wings Award winning author.”

…I think the best word to describe Fire at Thunder Ridge is "thrilling." With action, suspense, and intrigue, Fire at Thunder Ridge is a mystery-suspense to keep the reader hooked until they finish the last page… Fire at Thunder Ridge is exciting and very suspenseful. I highly recommend it!, -- Beverley Bateman, babateman@shaw.ca, http://www.beverleybateman.com, It's only a step from caring to killing

The Pink Lady Slipper: Trudy Moncha's mother died unexpectedly of a heart attack. She inherited the family Homestead in Michigan, and with it The Pink Lady Slipper, a big old haunted log house with a fascinating history as whorehouse and station on the underground railroad. Trudy was on the road as a rodeo clown for years, but recently a bull gored her leg, and she needs a new career. Once home, she tries to talk to her sister, Linda, about their mother's health, but gets nowhere. Trudy hires a female contractor to repair the winter's snow damage to the Lady Slipper, and talks with neighborhood people. She learns her mother's fiancé disappeared shortly before her death. Her mother had been a allowing a coven of witches to meet in The Lady Slipper. The preacher's wife is sure the place is full of sin, and shrieks at everyone to burn it down. Trudy has the contractor begin the work to turn it into a Bed and Breakfast Inn for her, and they discover a dead body beneath the floor boards. If the place wasn't haunted before, it must be now. The trouble is; there's no clown's barrel big enough for Trudy to hide in, from the evil growing in The Pink Lady Slipper. -- Judy Miller, Return To Port Darkling

The Pink Lady Slipper: This is a great book read. There are little things in the story that give you an eerie feeling of someone almost watching over your shoulder as you read the pages. The stench in the room sent chills through me not to mention hearing the footsteps on the stairs. I love the description Ms. Williams gave the spider spinning its silk. The story line with Faith and her preacher husband – excellent. I wanted to jump through the pages and bring her back with me. I loved the way Xavier gave the description of Sally to Trudy.

Ms. Williams’ brilliant creativity and style of writing never ceases to amaze me. She has created a spine-tingling tale that will keep you spellbound until the end! The characters, along with the secondary characters, that she blends well into the story have great depth and are very believable. This book is not only a keeper, it is a winner.

Kudos to Ms. Williams. THE PINK LADY SLIPPER is a book that I could not put down. It is a page-turner from the first page to the last. This book is filled with spellbinding excitement with twists and turns at every corner. I can hardly wait to read Ms. Williams next book! She is an excellent storyteller! -- Linda Lattimer, Skeletons Too Close to Home, WingsePress.com

With The Pink Lady Slipper, Billie Williams has crafted a gripping tale filled with enough twists, turns and suspects to keep me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. -- Nora Peterson, author of Past Imperfect coming from Wings ePress, September 2006

Small Town Secrets: Actually, the past of more than one person in this town will blast into the forefront at various places. Billie Williams, in her book, Small Town Secrets will keep you guessing all the way to the end. Oh, there is a surprise guest appearance by a very well known author also. I won’t spill the name, but the letters J, E and another one lead you into a whole other realm as indicated in Small Town Secrets. This is one secret revealed that will give an indication of how high a caliber this book is. -- Ron Berry, http://here-it-is.tripod.com

Readers will be gripped and drawn by the first few pages of Billie Williams' next book, GHOST MUSIC OF VAUDVILLE.  The complex relationship between characters Tommy and Charlie will set heads spinning as the story unfolds. Obscure, while still human, GHOST is a "can't put down" new work. -- Jack Magestro CEO, Belle Ink LLC, publishing and design

Knapsack Secrets by Billie A. Williams is about people and relationships. It’s a story about the compassion one human being has for another regardless of status. It is also about greed and murder and how low a person will sink to achieve success and how weak and stupid the "powers that be" can be, however powerful they are.

Williams gets inside her characters and brings out the best and worst in them. She shows you how easily a person at the top of the world can tumble off the tip of it in the flash of an eye, losing everything and being reduced to a street person. At first you think, "How can this really happen to someone with such a prestigious position in a large company?"

Billie A. Williams gives you the answer and makes the situation believable in the real world of greed, deceit and evil. She doesn’t pull any punches or leave any stone unturned. Her characters–both the bad and good–face one challenge after another. She proves that nothing valuable is easily gained but can be easily lost.

I promise you, Williams’ characters will stay with you long after you read the last word of Knapsack Secrets. They will own a part of your heart and never let go. You will never look at homeless people the same ever again in the same way. Knapsack Secrets is a Must Read!-- J. Gayle Kelly The Watermelon Patch.

Knapsack Secrets:  Williams astounds me with her usage of words and phrases. She hits the nail on the head when it comes to choosing the correct word every time and the correct phrase. I’ve laughed and I’ve cried, and I’ve gotten up at 1:00 in the morning to read more because I couldn’t sleep, trying to figure out who did what.

Believe me, Williams characters will linger with you long after you’ve read the book. I’m hoping she’ll write a sequel to Knapsack Secrets. And I think she might. As a rule, I’m not a mystery reader, but this one knocked me for a loop. -- Knapsack Secrets, Reviewed by SK Hamilton, The Kahills of Willow Walk, www.skhamilton.com, www.willow-walk.tripod.com

Billie A. Williams’s latest novel, ‘Knapsack Secrets’ had me hooked by the second page. ... Knapsack Secrets is one to read more than once. Billie has done a superb job with this book. -- Pat McCain, Author

Knapsack Secrets:  Williams creates some fascinating characters in Knapsack Secrets who will keep you turning the pages through any rough spots in the prose. Hang in there through the prickly beginning and you’ll be rewarded with the drama of Audrey’s day-to-day life as she crosses paths with a demented murderer and his sex kitten-with-a-heart-of-ice. The cold, hard slap of betrayal by a disinterested and disloyal spouse, being ostracized by her co-workers, living each day as if it might be her last—can life get any worse? Just when you’re certain there’s no hope, add to the mix an engaging street boy and a homeless woman who seeks justice for her friend and you’ll have the recipe for a tasty bowl of stone soup— à la Billie A. Williams. --Ingrid Taylor

Forget about sweet cozy mysteries. Knapsack Secrets has too much suspense, drama and action to be classified as such a mild novel. From the first chapter to the last, my heart was racing--sometimes with indignation, sometimes with dread or horror. There were enough pauses for pleasant scenes to give the reader an occasional emotional rest; but not for long. The characters have depth with clear motivations, whether good or bad. Billie Williams gives us several issues to consider within the context of a drop-dead (literally) story: adultery, abuse, murder, homelessness, business politics, friendships and life in general. Knapsack Secrets would make a great selection for book club discussions, as well as personal reading. This is a page-turner; one of those books that will keep you up all night to finish. Then you will spend the next day thinking about it. --Brenda (Eolande Brana-Faolan) Gaeth's Way, Runes

Read Knapsack Secrets and find out how a homeless woman, a street urchin and a deceived ex executive woman rock the town’s elite. How many secrets does Brother John have? There is more than soup in that soup kitchen. --Ron Berry, Professional Reviewer, unwriter@yahoo.com http://berrysreviews.tripod.com

Fiction Books :: Mystery & Detective Books :: General Books

ISBN: 1597055395
ISBN(13-digit): 9781597055390
Copyright: 2010
Book Publisher: Wings ePress
Binding: Other
No. of Pages: 332

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