Read Suspicions Online

Authors: Christine Kersey

Tags: #Fiction, #Suspense, #Kidnapping, #Abduction, #Domestic Fiction, #Novel, #clean suspense, #clean fiction, #suspense novel, #fiction suspense, #fiction for women

Suspicions

BOOK: Suspicions
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Suspicions
Christine Kersey
Christine Kersey (2010)
Rating:
****
Tags:
fiction suspense, Novel, clean suspense, clean fiction, Fiction, Kidnapping, Suspense, Abduction, suspense novel, fiction for women, Domestic Fiction

If you like Mary Higgins Clark, you'll like Suspicions.When a neighbor boy is kidnapped for ransom, Stacey Hunter is stunned to discover that circumstantial evidence points to her husband. Not able to believe he could be involved in such a horrifying crime, she sets out to discover who is really behind the kidnapping.Complicating Stacey's efforts is the odd behavior of her supervisor, Patricia Summers, who has taken a keen interest in Stacey's husband. Though uncertain of her husband's faithfulness, Stacey presses on with her investigation to flush out the kidnapper and is faced with losing everything she loves, as well as her own life.Suspicions does not contain any profanity or sexual content and is appropriate for all ages. It is 72,000 words long, which is approximately 275 pages.

Suspicions
by Christine Kersey

Smashwords Edition

Copyright 2010 Christine Kersey

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Chapter One

 

 

 

Day 1 - Monday

 

Eight-year-old Robby Hunter closed the front
door with a soft click and stepped onto the porch, unaware he was
about to witness something that would change his life forever.

He paused on the doorstep, half-expecting his
mother to yank the door open and catch him sneaking out. Though he
wanted to be obedient, the plans he and his best friend Kyle had
made drew him away. Once Kyle got out of school, Robby would be
waiting for him so they could go to their treehouse.

The two boys usually walked home together
after their third grade class let out, but today Kyle was staying
after to help Mrs. Hershfield take down the red and pink valentine
hearts and put the green St. Patrick's Day clovers up in their
place. If Robby hadn't been grounded he would have stayed to help
too.

Sometimes Robby had trouble minding his
mother; that's why he was grounded in the first place. She had
gotten tired of telling him to check in with her after school
before going off to play.

I just keep forgetting, he thought, not
understanding why it was such a big deal.

Stuffing his hands in his coat pockets, he
continued to the school, chilled by the breeze despite the warmth
of the California sun. He glanced around, relieved none of the
neighborhood kids were out playing; he didn't want anyone to tell
on him.

As he approached the corner near the school
grounds, Robby thought it might be fun to give Kyle a scare. He
crept behind some low green bushes, every few seconds poking his
head up to watch for his friend. His wait was rewarded when he saw
Kyle ambling in his direction, dragging a stick across the chain
link fence surrounding the school.

Looking across the street at the walnut
orchard, Robby spied the treehouse he and Kyle had built. Robby was
pleased to see it was vacant; he didn't like it when other kids
played there.

Old Mr. Gowen had allowed them to use one of
his walnut trees and Robby and Kyle loved to go there to play. They
would pretend they lived on a desert island. They'd even brought
some of their parents' old belongings to the treehouse, like an old
wind-up alarm clock and a battery-operated radio.

Robby could hardly wait until he and Kyle
could go there and play. He just hoped his mom wouldn't notice he
wasn't in his room.

Robby peeked over the bushes again to check
Kyle's progress and saw he was nearly to his hiding place. Not
wanting to give away his position, Robby stifled a giggle as Kyle
drew closer. When Kyle finally reached the bushes where Robby lay
in wait, Robby jumped out and yelled “Boo!”

Kyle jumped, startled, and then laughed along
with Robby as they raced each other across the street to their
treehouse. It was a tie. They scrambled up the short ladder,
pushing and shoving each other in their haste to reach the top
first. They flung themselves onto the hard wooden floor and
wrestled around, knocking over a large square of wood placed on
bricks that they used as a table. Stopping to catch their breath,
they grabbed the container of red licorice stashed in the corner
and pulled out a few of the long pieces.

Kyle bit off a large chunk. “Hey, Robby, I
thought you couldn't play today.”

He giggled. “Yeah, but I snuck out.” He took
off his jacket and tossed it in the corner before reaching for more
licorice. “My mom was busy and she didn't see me leave.”

After placing the wood back on the bricks and
balancing the battery operated radio on top, they played with the
dial, listening to a station for a few seconds before spinning to
another one. Soon tiring of that game, they sat without speaking,
munching on their candy.

A twig snapped.

“Hey,” Kyle whispered. “What was that?”

Robby looked around. “I don't know. But I
hope it's not my mom. I'll be in big trouble.”

Someone was climbing the ladder.

“Hey kids. What are you doin'?”

“It's only Mr. Gowen,” Robby said to Kyle,
relief clear on his face.

Fred Gowen looked like he needed a shave. In
his late sixties, he owned the walnut orchard where the boys had
built their treehouse. “What're you eatin'?” he asked as he gazed
into their sanctuary.

Kyle held out the box of licorice. “Want
one?”

Mr. Gowen stayed on the ladder and shook his
head. “You be careful now, hear?”

The boys nodded.

Gowen climbed back down and his footsteps
faded away.

Robby scooted toward the door, the unexpected
meeting with Gowen reminding him he didn’t want to get caught out
of his room. He remembered the last time he’d been grounded and his
mother had discovered he’d snuck out; she’d added a whole week to
his punishment. “I’m going home, Kyle.” He stepped onto the top
rung of the ladder. “Are you coming?”

Kyle shook his head, his eyes downcast, “Not
yet.”

“How come?”

“I don't know,” Kyle said, a solemn
expression on his face. “I just don't want to go home right
now.”

“But you might get in trouble from your mom,”
Robby said, his brow creased with concern.

Kyle stared at the piece of licorice in his
hand. “Maybe she'll just think I'm still at the school.” He looked
up at Robby and said with intensity, “Promise you won't tell I was
here by myself.”

“How come?” Robby asked, pausing on the
threshold of the treehouse.

“My mom told me I’m not supposed to play here
by myself. She said something could happen to me and no one would
know.”

An unexpected shiver of dread shot up Robby's
spine. “What do you mean?”

The red licorice seemed to capture Kyle’s
attention once again. “I don’t know.”

Robby didn't understand what Kyle was talking
about. What could happen? He wondered if Kyle was trying to spook
him to get even for surprising him at the bushes earlier.

It was working.

“I thought you were going home now,” Kyle
said, watching Robby hesitate in the doorway.

“Yeah, and you should, too.”

Kyle reached for another piece of licorice.
“I will in a little while.”

Jumping to the ground below, Robby replayed
Kyle’s comment about something happening to him and no one knowing.
Of course his parents would know, he reasoned. Parents always know
what's going on.

That thought led him to hurry toward the
street so he could get home before his mother found out he had been
disobedient. He didn't want to think about what would happen if she
discovered he'd snuck out.

Robby paused as he reached the sidewalk while
an older brown car drove slowly by. His thoughts were preoccupied
with getting home and he hardly noticed the vehicle as it
passed.

When he was half a block from home he
realized he'd left his jacket in the treehouse. He remembered his
mom scolding him for dumping it on the floor when he'd gotten home
from school that afternoon. He also remembered the fuss she'd made
that morning when he didn't have it on.

He would have to go back and get it.

As he retraced his steps his mind filled with
thoughts of playing with his friend and concern about his mother
faded.

Nearing the spot where he had surprised Kyle
earlier, Robby watched Kyle jump down from the bottom rung of the
ladder and cross the street by the school.

I guess he decided to go home, Robby thought
as he approached shouting distance.

Kyle stared at the ground as he moved along
the sidewalk.

It suddenly occurred to Robby that he might
be able to scare Kyle a second time. Robby grinned to himself as he
slid behind the bushes.

Peering over the top for a better view, he
watched Kyle bend down to tie one sneaker. Robby couldn't hold back
a giggle as he waited for Kyle to get closer. When Robby saw a car
coming, the same one that had driven past a short time before, he
ducked back down, the giggles finally under control.

He waited in silence as the sound of the car
changed. It seemed to be stopping. He heard the low hum of voices.
He thought he heard a car door slam. He was certain he heard
someone cry out. Unexpected fear rolled up his spine and he
shuddered, suddenly longing for the safety of his room. He remained
hidden, paralyzed by an instinct he didn't understand. Only after
the sound of the car's engine was completely gone did he venture a
glance.

Kyle was gone.

Robby stood on his tiptoes to get a better
look. Heart pounding, he darted out from behind the bushes.
Uncertainty mixed with fear when it became clear Kyle was nowhere
in sight.

Where did he go?

Kyle's words echoed in his head. My mom told
me I’m not supposed to play here by myself. She said something
could happen to me and no one would know. Robby didn't understand.
What had happened?

Then Kyle's other words came back to him.
Promise you won't tell I was here by myself.

Fear poured over him in icy torrents. He
turned and ran all the way home.

 

 

 

Chapter Two

 

 

 

Stacey Hunter sighed as she ran her fingers
through her wavy brown hair. Finishing up some paperwork for her
“Beautiful You” cosmetics home business, she leaned back in her
comfortable gray chair and realized she probably knew more about
skin care and make-up than she had ever wanted to know.

Although she didn't like to wear much make-up
herself, she found she had actually enjoyed working for the company
for the past two years as a beauty consultant, giving make-up
demonstrations in women's homes, and was quite good at it. She
wouldn't have taken the job at all except for the fact they needed
the money to pay some bills. Straightening the ever-growing pile of
unpaid bills, she sighed again.

Would they never stop coming? She
wondered.

They seemed to multiply every time she turned
her back. She flipped through the stack and closed her eyes,
imagining what it would be like to not have any debt. She now
regretted all the times they had used their charge cards when they
didn't have the cash to buy items they “needed”. And although he'd
told her he didn't blame her or their family obligations for their
financial struggle, she knew how much it bothered her husband to
have these bills hanging over them.

She stacked the envelopes in order of payment
amounts with the lowest payment going on top. Setting them aside,
she tried not to think about their financial struggle, then
surveyed her desk, satisfied she had done enough for the day. There
were still a few papers piled in one corner but they could
wait.

Tilting her head, she listened to what
sounded like the front door closing. “Robby? Nikki? Is that you?”
When neither child answered, Stacey pushed back from the desk and
went to check on her children. She found them where she expected
them to be.

“I guess I’m hearing things,” she murmured as
she headed back to the office. Once there, she picked up a small
glass vase that held a single red camellia. Gazing at the vivid
petals, she brought the flower toward her nose and breathed in the
faint scent. Nikki had wanted to bring that one in the house and
Stacey hadn’t been able to resist her six-year-old daughter’s
logic: “If you don’t bring it in the house, it will just die out
here in the yard.” Stacey loved the early blooming flowers the
central valley of California provided and had quickly agreed to
bring the blossom into the house.

BOOK: Suspicions
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