Sunday, November 14, 2010
A Thanksgiving Tale of Terror--Lenora Worth
Cranton Berryfield watched the house across the street, looking for signs of life. A pretty woman named Pamela Pepperidge had moved in a week ago and since it seemed she was as alone as Cranton, he decided to be neighborly and ask her if she had plans for Thanksgiving. The holiday was only a week away and already the cozy beach community of Maple Leaf, Maine, was humming and buzzing with the usual excitement.
Families preparing to visit and eat too much stuffing, pumpkin pies cooling on the counter, big fat turkeys gracing a full dinner table--all the things Cranton had missed out on over the last few years.
You left that life behind, he reminded himself. No more secrets. No more checking in with headquarters. You don't have to run anymore.
Which meant he might be able to finally settle down with a good woman, maybe raise that family he'd always dreamed about having. He thought of Pamela again. She had curly brown hair, cut in a sweet gamine style that tickled her cheeks and made her look young and exuberant. Her brown eyes matched her pretty hair. And when she'd smiled at him the other day when he'd gone out to get the paper, Cranton had decided he needed to get to know her better. So ... this Thanksgiving he just might have something to be thankful for. If he could keep his cover and finally lead a normal life.
Across the way, Pamela Pepperidge glanced out the window again, wondering what her handsome, seemingly single neighbor was doing today. It was Saturday, but the wind was blustery and the threat of snow was in the air. She wanted to check her mail, but she had to time it so she could run into Cranton Berryfield. Terrible, to wait like this so she could flirt with a good-looking man. But ... the holidays were coming and she'd rather like having a new friend to share some of the special joy with. Especially when that friend was about six feet tall and built like a line-backer.
Okay, teaching English Lit had caused her imagination to take a flight of fancy. Since she didn't know what Cranton did for a living, she'd imagined him as a spy on the run, or a detective who'd gone undercover. Or maybe, a rogue agent who had left the harsh life of secrets and darkness to settle down in this scenic seaside town.
"Yeah, right." Pamela laughed at her own wayward thoughts. Cranton Berryfield dressed like a college professor and probably read textbooks just for fun. He raked leaves and puttered in his front garden with all the energy of a little old gentleman. He'd probably worked in a library or bookstore for years. And yet....
A black car cruised along the quiet street, sending fallen maple leaves swirling in it path. Then the car stopped in front of Cranton's house and sat there for a few minutes. Pamela watched in horror as a man with a huge gun headed up the front steps. Should she call the police, run for help or just mind her own business? The man banged on the door and called out something she couldn't understand. Pamela was so intent on watching what would happen next, she didn't realize she had company. A hand slipped over her mouth from behind.
"Listen to me," the deep voice said into her ear. "I need your help."