Read A Penny's Worth (The Cephas Bourdon Series) Online
Authors: A.M. Hooper
The Cephas Bourdon Series
o my late Grandma, the one who started it all.
I could always count on a new book every time we visited,
and your picks usually became my favorites.
The last book you bought me, Pride and Prejudice,
inspired my love for literature.
Thanks, Grandma, for passing on your passion for books.
The black night was all around
not a star could be seen. Only a half moon dared peek out from behind the gray, rolling clouds, the gleaming glass holding its light for ransom. Jim squeezed her trembling arms tighter as he peered
around the deep green curtains. A
gentle breeze rustled the satin in the stillness. He gently pushed her farther from the window and brought a calloused finger to his mouth to quiet her tears. His right hand cupped her face and his deep green eyes softened.
“Ana,” he whispered.
A set of bright indigo eyes looked up at him and pleaded for the impossible. Her eyes blinked to force back the tears.
some men will come.”
“No. No, no they won’t
. . .
His voice broke and he looked away. Ana looked up and gripped the front of his shirt with both hands. He peered into her bright azure eyes and moved his lips towards hers, trying to show her the comfort he knew would not come. Their lips touched and his arms came around her small body, one hand running through her long, golden blonde hair. Time stopped, and for a moment the impossible seemed a reality. His mouth moved away and he leaned his forehead against hers, nuzzling her nose and breathing in her scent.
“Oh, Ana,” he whispered through the silence. The black night awoke as a glass lamp shattered on the bedside table. Ana let out a small cry. Another bullet whizzed through the open window and hit the family portrait that hung centered on the wall above the dresser. Jim and Ana dropped to the ground. Squea
ling tires could be heard below. C
ar doors opened and were slammed shut. Quick footsteps padded up the walkway.
“Jim, what do we do?” Ana whispered in a rushed tone.
“Mom. Dad. What’s going on?” a squeaking voice cried from down the hall.
“Bentley!” Ana screamed in terror.
“I thought he was at a friend’s house!” Jim’s eyes turned black with anger. They turned to Ana, awaiting a response.
. . .
. . .
I don’t know
. . .
” Ana stammered. She looked up into his face, her eyes welling up, and sobs struggling to escape from her perfectly pink, trembling mouth. Jim looked away.
“I’ll make it right,” he m
uttered. He wasn’t angry at Ana. H
is black eyes were aimed only at the people who started this
the people whose steps were fast approaching the front door.
“Grab that boy. Let’s go.” He leaped to his feet and raced towards the bedroom door, Ana quick on his heels.
. . .
” Bentley called, fear evident in his voice.
“Shhhh, there’s no time,” she warned. Grabbing his right hand, Ana pulled her fourteen year old son down the hall toward the garage. Jim carefully opened the door and peeked around the opening.
“Follow me. Stay close,” he instructed. The three jumped into the Mercedes Benz and Jim pushed the garage door opener. All silent, the car remained still and quiet as the creaking metal and turning motor filled the night air with an eerie foreshadowing. The door came to a halt and two men peered around the edge of the opening. Automatic guns in hand, one motioned to the other to move into the garage. As the man moved forward, lights lit up the garage and the vehicle's motor revved like a terrible monster. The tires squealed as Jim put the car in reverse, slamming on the gas. The black monster flew out of the garage, catching one man across the knees. He flew up onto the roof with a few thuds and rolled off the left side as the car veered left out of the driveway. Skidding to a stop, Jim threw the Mercedes into drive and tore down the long pathway to the gate.
“Push the button, push the button!” Jim screamed as the speedometer read sixty, then seventy, then eighty. The young boy scrambled for the remote, searching through the middle console and then under the passenger seat.
“Bentley, now!” Jim yelled, frantically increasing speed. He looked in the rear view mirror and saw headlights close behind. Bentley found the remote and rose from his crouched position under the seat to push the button. The lights were getting closer, closer. Bentley pushed the button on the remote and the gate began to open. The headlights couldn't be more than twenty feet away. The ten foot, rod iron gate inched open.
“Jim! It won’t open in time!” Ana warned as she braced herself against the seat. Jim gritted his teeth and narrowed his eyes in determination as he pushed the gas petal even farther to the floor. He glanced in the rear view mirror
the lights were inches from his.
“Jim! You won’t make it!” Ana cried in horror. Jim turned a hard left, just missing the still opening gate. The car behind him crashed into the rod iron gate at eighty miles per hour, exploding instantly. Flames encircled the car as Jim sped away, heading towards the forest on his property.
“Where are we going?” asked Ana, voice trembling and eyes welling up with tears.
“Just sit tight. This will all be over in a minute,” Jim replied. He honestly didn’t have a plan. Bentley was supposed to be at a friend’s house, and Ana was supposed to be sleeping in bed while he left town to draw the men after him. Nothing was going according to plan. Perhaps he could drop the two off at a friend’s house. No
now another car was following him. Headlights appeared in the rear view mirror like a pair of demon eyes, yielding no compassion and threatening all that he cared for. Jim searched hopelessly for a way out of his current situation. The end of the property was fast approaching. The barn! Maybe he could hide them in there, and then lead the pursuer out of town. That's what he would do. The car accelerated across the field in the direction of the barn.
“Now, listen. You two are going to hide in the hayloft, and I'll come back for you.”
“Jim, I don't think that's
“Ana, this is no time to argue. Just take Bentley up there and hide under the hay until you're sure I'm gone. Take the old tractor back to the house and wait for me there, okay?” Ana nodded, her lower lip quivering. Bentley put his hand on his mother's shoulder.
“It'll be okay, Mom,” Bentley offered.
Shattering glass struck the air as
a bullet penetrated the back window. The car swerved out of control.
“Bentley, sit back!” Jim yelled. He always yelled when he was anxious
. Bentley had gotten used to it. H
e knew his dad didn't mean anything by it. The car was getting closer to them. Bentley sat back and kept his head low to avoid any more bullets. The barn was within a few hundred yards. If they could just reach the barn . . . Another car appeared on the left. Jim turned the car right.
“Jim, there's one on this side too!” Ana shrieked, shielding her face unnecessarily. Jim turned the wheel left in an attempt to straighten out the car, but he turned it too far. The back left end of the car lifted into the air. In slow motion, the back end of the car flipped up and rolled over the front, smashing into the roof of the pursuer's car. As they collided, both cars twisted through the dead air, flipping this way and that until they hit the ground, tumbling three times before stopping. The noise ended and the tumbling stopped. Engine smoke wafted through the dark night sky, a steaming tea kettle noise escaping from under the hood. Bentley coughed and pushed his way under the bent in roof.
“Mom!” he shouted frantically. Ana moaned from the front seat. “Mom! Are you okay?”
“I'm here, sweetie,” she muttered. Bentley kicked the back door open and stumbled through the opening. He lifted himself off of the ground and pulled at his mother's door. Holding out his hand, Bentley maneuvered his mother out of the crushed Mercedes.
“Bentley, your arm,” Ana muttered. Bentley looked down and saw blood seeping through his shirt sleeve.
“It's fine, Mom. Let's get you out,” he said in his cracking, fourteen
old voice. Tires skid across gravel a few feet away. Bentley looked up in terror. Two cars stopped in front of him and five men in black suits jumped out. One man opened the rear door, standing up straight and nodding as a tall man exited the vehicle. The tall man walked somberly toward the wreckage.
“Run, Bentley!” his mom whispered in a hurried tone. Bentley looked up at the men.
“I wouldn't do that, son,” the tall man warned. “What of Mr. Hayes?” he called across the car.
“He didn't make it, s
ir,” one of the agents called from the driver's side of the Mercedes.
“No!” Ana screamed, erupting into tears. “You'll never get away with this!” she shouted at the tall man, wiping at the blood that fell across her eyebrow. The man turned his attention to her, a devilish grin spreading across his recently shaven face. His tailored suit was freshly pressed, the satin trim catching the shining moonlight. The grease in his black hair matched his tuxedo, as well as his freshly polished shoes.
“Kill her,” he ordered, turning back toward his car.
“No!” Bentley shouted. The man stopped and paused before slowly spinning on his heels. He walked sideways, peering down at the fourteen year old boy.
“Don't kill her,” Bentley demanded, glaring up into the man's black eyes. Clenching his fists, Bentley grit his teeth in an attempt to look intimidating.
“Why shouldn't I?” he asked, curious to hear the boy's answer.
“Boss?” a man piped up from the other side of the car, gesturing toward Ana. The tall man held up his finger, silencing the man. Bentley stood still, motionlessly awaiting his turn to speak.
“So do you have a reason, boy?” he asked.
“If you don't kill her, you can have me,” he stated firmly. The tall man laughed, though it wasn't the evil cackle one would expect, but rather a low, barely chuckling sort of laugh. Bentley pursed his lips in anger.
“What good are you to me?” the man prodded, apparently entertained.
“You can do with me whatever you will.”
“Anything,” he affirmed.
“Alright, put the boy in the car,” the tall man ordered. Two men grabbed Bentley by the arms and led him to the car.
“Boss? The mother
should we kill her?” Bentley turned his head and stopped walking, his eyes intent on the tall, dark man.
“No,” the man said, the evil grin spreading across his face. “How else will we convince the boy to do
what was it he said? Whatever we will.” He laughed quietly and walked to his car. “Such a proper boy
he's perfect,” he muttered to the doorman. “Thank you, Thackar.” The doorman nodded once and closed the door behind him.
The clouds shifted outside, allowing the sun to shine through the upper window, casting a glare onto the bright white paper filled with small pencil marks. My eyelids blinked instinctively as the light pierced my eyes. I moved the paper out of the light’s path and put my elbows on the table. Leaning forward, I tapped a worn pencil on the top of my head. My mind was
not on the paper in front of me. I
nstead, I was thinking about the shining sun outside. It was calling to my restless body. I shifted and crossed my legs, then leaned back in my chair.
Why couldn’t this class be over? I accidentally let out an audible sigh and automatically turned my eyes back to the white paper in front of me. Why couldn’t they make this paper colorful so I didn’t fall asleep during tests? And why did this homework matter so much, anyway? My life was still complicated whether or not I passed a math test. Why couldn’t life be as simple as long division?