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Authors: Claudia Whitsitt

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Mystery, #Women Sleuths, #Thrillers, #Suspense

Identity Issues

BOOK: Identity Issues
2.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
Identity Issues
Claudia Whitsitt

Please visit Ms. Whitsitt’s website:

Copyright ©2012 by Claudia Whitsitt
Published in the United States by Blue Jay Media Group
ebook ISBN–13: 978–1–936724–18–5

All rights reserved. No portion of this book, whether in print or electronic format, may be duplicated or transmitted without written permission of the publisher, except where permitted by law.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Other Books by Claudia Whitsitt

Blue Jay Media Group




Echelon Press


This book is dedicated to my husband, Don, who has been my biggest cheerleader. His countless reads, encouragement and advice have helped me to stay grounded in the madness of this new and sometimes intimidating venture. In appreciation, I agree to laugh at his jokes and cook occasionally. (Like maybe once a week.)

Table of Contents

Other Books By
Preview: Intimacy Issues

Chapter One

S I PULLED on my sweats, I heard the screen door slam. I counted backwards. Ten, nine, eight, seven, six…

"Mom!" Nick shouted. "Rex took off!"

"Suit up," I yelled over the stair rail.

Scrambling feet, shuffling shoes, another crash of the door. All too familiar.

I flew down the stairs, grabbed my keys from the counter, and dashed out the door. By the time I appeared in the garage, my five kids sat poised in their seats, perched and on the lookout. I fired up the van and sped down the street. Speeding sets a bad example, I know. But trust me. It would take mere seconds for Rex to run a mile and wreak havoc in the woods. More than once he’d done battle with a skunk, and he’d never come out the winner. When Rex lost, so did I. Whoever recommended the tomato juice remedy for dueling dogs and skunks lied, and I didn’t have the energy to invent a working antidote.

"Why does Rex keep running away?" Lizzie, my youngest, implored.

"Because he misses Dad," Nick said, disgusted by her lack of insight. "Rex likes Dad best. Everybody knows that!"

"Eyes out the windows," I ordered.

I slowed at the corner, rolled down my window, and searched the landscape. We’d learned some time ago that the successful recovery method for Rex involved spotting him, opening the van’s sliding door, and holding out a treat. He would point when he heard the door open, lifting his right front paw, and then his nose. Sniffing out his bone, he’d bound toward the van. We’d wait in silence until he shot into the vehicle. Total silence. It seemed that if Rex heard us call his name, he’d run the other way, unwilling to relinquish his search for his master. So, we sat still until he was secured inside the vehicle.

"Annie, are you ready?" I glanced in the rear view mirror.

She nodded, hovering on the edge of her seat with a dog treat in her hand.

"There!" Will shouted. He pointed over my shoulder to the right.

Sure enough, a flash of golden fur raced through the pines. I pulled the van to the side of the road. Annie eased open the door. We sat in suspense, holding our collective breaths.

Two seconds later, Rex flew through the air as if he were chasing a squirrel up a tree. The van shook as he landed inside. Quickly, Will reached over Annie’s shoulder and shut the door. I hit the door locks for safe measure, and we heaved a mutual sigh of relief.

I’ve learned the hard way that Murphy’s Law rules every time my husband, Jon, travels abroad for business. Some years, it seems as if he spends more time overseas than at home with me and our five kids. It isn’t his fault. It’s his job.

But whenever he leaves, calamity strikes. Once during a thunderstorm, lightning struck our house, destroying all of our appliances. Another time, Jon’s dad left his mom after forty-five years of marriage. She showed up on my doorstep, certain I could fix it. And every time Jon travels, just like this afternoon, Rex, our eighty pound, clumsy but loveable golden retriever, runs off in search of him.

My name is Samantha Stitsill, and it has been since Jon and I married eleven years ago. We each started out with two young kids, then in keeping with the whole Brady Bunch image, decided to have one more. I work full-time as a Special Education teacher, raising our blended family in my spare time while Jon runs a company headquartered in another country.

After all this time playing the episodic single mom to my own personal basketball team, you’d think I’d be used to the impending catastrophe whenever I played head coach. Major crisis or minor, I should have been seasoned enough to handle whatever life threw at me with diplomacy and aplomb. But the books say personality is determined by age two, and unfortunately for me, my mom hesitated a bit too often as a new mother, and I wound up a little high strung.

Tonight, after finishing my chores and tucking the kids into bed, I kicked up my feet to relax.  A glass of wine helped. A little. Mostly though, I lived a life rooted in anxiety, feeling like the other shoe was continually suspended and about to drop, without notice, smack on the middle of my head.

Hours later, I listened to the garage door rise and smiled to myself as I poured a second glass of wine. Jon stepped inside, and I met his kiss. He looked haggard and worn. I turned up my nose as I snuggled into his chest.

"I know," he said. "I smell like dead fish. I’ll go wash off the airplane and meet you in the bedroom. Ten minutes."

I nodded.

"Kids still awake?" he asked.

"It’s midnight, Jon."

"Right," he said before turning and climbing the stairs.

I met him upstairs and we got… reacquainted.

∞ ∞ ∞

Two weeks later, when
the letter
arrived in the mail, my twenty-four/seven life won out, and it wound up in the ‘think about this later’ pile. I couldn’t help but notice the outside of the envelope, the mish-mash of upper and lower case hand-drawn letters reminding me of those scary late night movies I’d watched as a kid where a serial killer had cut and pasted letters from a magazine. While these letters weren’t actually clipped and glued, the script bore an eerie similarity.

Later, when I had a chance to examine it more thoroughly, I noticed the letter didn’t carry a return address, but it did display a Botswana postmark.
Where the hell is Botswana?
In Africa, I knew, but I didn’t know anyone there, and I doubted Jon did, either. Still, anything addressed to Jon went into the pile. Curious as I might be, I didn’t open his mail.

But the letter perplexed me at odd moments, and I wondered what new wrench would come into our lives as a result. Since Jon worked in Japan again that week, I picked it up now and then, turning it over, holding it up to the light to try and steal a peek inside. No perfumed scent, no pretty colors. After all, Jon had flown off to a different country once more and nothing bad had happened. Yet.

I told him about the letter when he called.

"Why the hell would anyone send me something from Botswana?" he asked.

"I don’t know." I used my best loving–wife voice. "You’re the world traveler, not me."

Saturday morning, with Jon back home, we remembered the letter. Jon attended to his looming stack of mail while I caught up on household chores.

He marched into the bathroom as I scrubbed out the tub. "Look at this thing," he said.

BOOK: Identity Issues
2.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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