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Welcome to Heartstrings.Thanks for stopping by. I am an author of contemporary and historical romantic fiction. My contemporaries, Carly's Rule and Dusty's Fate, are both Amazon Best-Sellers. Ethan's Heart,book one of The Blackwood Brothers' series, will be released Dec. 6, 2016 followed by Escorting Darby Bloom in 2017. Stay tuned for more books in this series.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Chapter One of  
Knight & Day by Kathryn J. Bain

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EARL STAGGS
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 Chapter One 




Why does this always happen to me? It's hard enough to keep God's commandments, at least the easy ones, without running into someone who died. It's like I attract them. Maybe I should find a support group. "Hi, my name is Trubleh Lawrence, and I find dead bodies."

I'd run screaming if I wasn't used to it.

Gerald Simpson had been looking to hire someone for his private investigation office. The ad read:

Receptionist for small firm. No experience necessary.

About to turn thirty, newly divorced, with no money or marketable skills, it fit my qualifications perfectly. I'd arrived at fifteen 'til for my nine o'clock appointment. My daddy said if you come early, it'd show them you're eager. If I'd waited, in this case, another applicant might have found Mr. Simpson.

When I arrived, the door stood ajar. The lock clicked behind me when I shut the door. Not a common occurrence for most businesses. Maybe private investigators need to take special precautions from husbands they've caught cheating.

Besides, Mr. Simpson could just be asleep and have his head on his desk. For all I knew, he might have had a long night out surveilling or whatever investigators do.

I'd been dealing with a cold the last week which threw my sense of smell off or the odor would have warned me when I entered the office.

I walked around to nudge him awake and saw the bloody hole in the back of his skull. My ick factor rose. Gray powder burns told me the shot had been up close. He looked like he'd been a large man when he was alive. Of course, the bloating from decomposition might have caused some of that.

A sheriff's daughter with an adeptness born of years of tagging with my father on cases, I scanned the room. Not much to look at. A long row of filing cabinets aligned the opposite wall. Mr. Simpson's desk appeared to be twice the size as the one up front. I assumed the smaller one would've been mine if he'd given me the job.

I sighed, resigned to the fact I'd be forever unemployed.

Mr. Simpson's purplish face and pale lips said I had more important things to think about. He'd probably died within the past hour. Why couldn't I be late? Tattooing from the gunpowder particles surrounded the wound, but no soot. The gun, a Smith & Wesson five round .38 Special laid at least ten feet from the body. The pink grip announced loud and clear that a woman more than likely killed him. Lucky me. I happened to be female.

I pulled out my cell.

"911 operator. Is this an emergency?"

"Yes. Somebody's been shot in the River City Plaza on Prudential Drive. Suite 613."

Once I hung up, a noise in the corridor drew my attention. The doorknob jerked back and forth, then the scraping of something in the lock.

My heart somersaulted while my mind raced with possibilities. A robber? Not likely. The killer? A better bet.

A small closet in the corner seemed a good place to hide. My heart and I raced toward it. A beige raincoat suspended by a wire hook appeared to float in air. I guess that's standard wear in the P.I. business. The small space carried a musty smell. I scooted further back into the closet and pulled the door shut behind me. The only light came in from a slit at the floor.

Please God, don't let my stomach growl. I wished I'd eaten breakfast.

I tried not to breathe too loud. File drawers opened and closed. Papers shuffled. Then footsteps neared my hiding spot. I grabbed my large green purse with both hands and held my breath. He might kill me, but I'd leave a few marks before I went.

A rush of adrenaline ran through me and pushed my lungs against my rib cage. The door handle twisted, and I flung against it. I had hoped to knock the other person down. It didn't happen. Could have to do with him being larger than me. A lot larger. He stared at me. I stared at him. Finally, I yelled and whacked him in the head with my purse. He went down.

Muscles were no match for a large bag with a flat iron tucked inside.

I leapt over him and ran out the front, knocking on every door on my way through the hallway to draw attention. Around the corner, the elevator dinged, and two police officers rushed off.

"He's in there." I panted. "Another man came in and started searching the place."

I trailed behind the policemen who had their guns out. I'd have mine out, too, if I'd brought it. I also wouldn't want a lot of questions since I still needed a job. Another interview waited for me after lunch. When we returned, Mr. Simpson remained where I left him.

However, the stranger I'd hit on the head had disappeared.
****
Two hours later I sat in a small diner in downtown Jacksonville, eating a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich. I had a half hour until my next appointment. I'd been unemployed for three months now, and my savings disappeared faster than the chips on my plate. I glanced at my ringing cell. Caller ID announced my best friend, Kay, who called after every interview.

"No, I didn't get the job," I said before she had a chance to speak. I explained to tell her about the dead body. "I do owe you a debt of gratitude though. The purse you gave me for my birthday last year helped me get away."

"I told you that you need a different bag for every occasion. And a large one obviously makes a good weapon." Kay, a purse aficionado, had an unusual style for just about every situation. Who knew where she came up with them all? They also looked expensive. Good thing she married rich, instead of for love like I did.

I drank down some of my root beer. "In a few minutes I'm heading to a lawyer's office across the street. Pray I get this position. Poor Gretchen's getting tired of store brand dog food."

The phone beeped in my ear.

"I've got to go. My mom's calling."

"Good luck. And phone me when you get done," she said before hanging up.

"Hey, Mom."

"What's wrong? Your grandmother said she felt a disturbance."

Grandma, a million-year-old full-blooded Choctaw Indian, claimed to have special powers of vision and feelings. Most of them pertained to me. I just wished she'd stop telling my mom about her prophecies. If she'd tell Grandpa instead, I'd never have a problem. He knew how to keep a secret.

I went on to explain finding Mr. Simpson's body.

"Why, oh why am I cursed?" Mom spoke in that dramatic fashion she learned from doing school plays. "Why do I get the daughter who finds dead people?"

"I hate to cut this short," I said. "But I have another interview. I'll call you later. Love you." My thumb slid across the off button before she could say anything further.

I took the elevator in the Glade Towers to the fourteenth floor of Knight & Day, P.A. The writing on the outside window said they practiced criminal, worker's compensation, elder law, and personal injury law.

A large wood door remained between me and my future career. I entered and "oohed" and "aahed." I'd never seen anything this beautiful in Pâle Bayuk, Louisiana where I'd grown up. The reception room had cherry wood flooring throughout. A leather sofa and two matching seats surrounded a glass coffee table. Too bad a professionally dressed woman took every available spot. Each held a resume in her hand, at least two pages long. They all had way more experience than I did.

I fought the temptation to run. Maybe I could find a space in the corner to hide until they called my name.

Two large desks, matching the flooring, were on opposite sides of the back wall. Each had a telephone and computer. The one on the left had no papers or paraphernalia to show anyone used it.

At the other, an African-American woman appeared to be pulling her brown hair out. It probably had a lot to do with the ringing phone. It just wouldn't stop. An engraved nameplate read Sandra Kastanza. She no sooner answered one line, and then another would ring.

She grimaced at me. I'm sure she thought to herself, "Great, just one more thing I have to take care of." The phone went on with its unrelenting noise, and Sandra continued to push her hand through her hair. I strolled over and waited with a pasted smile on my face.

The phone rang. "Please hold." It rang again. "Can you hold?" Sandra looked up at me with pleading eyes. "I'll be with you in just a moment." Her fingers pressed buttons faster than she spoke.

Sandra's dark skin contrasted nicely against a watermelon colored suit. However, her brown eyes narrowed, and a crease ran across her forehead. If she kept that up, she'd have wrinkles before her next birthday. Sandra answered one of the lines. When she hung up from that one, she answered another. Then another. This time the person she spoke with apparently wouldn't let her off. Her other two lines rang again.

I shook my head and recalled the words my daddy told me. "Show initiative. Don't be too proud to take out the garbage. It shows them you're indispensable."

So that's what I did. Showed initiative. Really, I pitied Sandra. Any minute now she'd end up in a rubber room from the ringing. If she didn't, I sure would, so I marched over to the other desk, punched blinking line one and said, "Knight & Day, would you please hold?" Then I grabbed the other line. "Knight & Day, how may I help you?" I spoke in the most professional voice I could muster with my nerves all-a-twitter.

"Is William available?"

"I'm afraid not, but if you give me your number, I'll be sure to give him a message." I took down the man's information then did the same for the other person I'd placed on hold.

I glanced over at Sandra and gave her a grin.

She mouthed, "Thank you."

I may not have the ability of the others, but I had Sandra on my side.

She finally got her caller off the line. "It's been like this all day. I told them not to put that ad in the paper."

The phone rang again. She let out a weighted breath then answered. After listening to the caller, she announced, "I'm afraid the position has been filled." She winked at me and disconnected. "I see you know your way around an office."

"To be honest, I don't." I lowered my voice so the others seated within twenty feet couldn't hear. "You just needed someone to lend a hand so I thought I'd give you one of mine." I handed her my one page resume. "As you can see, it's not much."

A lady in a nice black skirted-suit glided out from the back. From the huge smile on her face, her interview must have gone well. I looked down at my flared brown skirt, pink sweater, and brown blazer one shade lighter than the skirt. I didn't come close to fitting in with this crowd.

"Wait right here." Sandra got up and rushed to the back. Her heels had to be at least three inches high and matched the skirt that went to mid-thigh.

She returned moments later beaming from ear to ear.

"Mr. Day will see you now."

I glanced over at the five women seated in the lobby. They each shot me a dirty look. One that said if they'd known answering a stupid phone would have gotten them in, they'd have done it.

Sandra led me to a large office with a window view of the St. Johns River. Inside was what you would expect from a law office. Law books, large desks and an older man sitting in a high-back chair. The place smelled of leather and money.

Only one document sat on the desk in front of a balding man of about sixty. My resume. Very few files littered a side credenza. No loose papers anywhere in the office. The place was meticulous. Degrees, plagues, and awards dangled on the back wall.

He rose and extended his hand, which I accepted.

"I'm Mr. Day. Have a seat." He used an opened palm to point to a chair across from him. I ventured to guess he stood less than six feet tall. He wore a gray suit and an orange and blue tie. Obviously a University of Florida fan. I figured yelling out for my Louisiana Tigers might not be a good idea right now. His crisp sapphire eye color would draw anyone's attention. Probably a good thing when you work in front of a jury.

"Hmm. Trouble, is that a nickname?"

"Actually, it's pronounced 'true blay'. It's French." I hoped he didn't speak French, or I'd have to explain how after being four weeks late, twenty-two hours in labor, and only willing to come by cesarean section, my mom named me Trouble with a French twist.

"Unique." He nodded. "You don't have much experience." He turned the resume page over.

Did he truly think I'd write on the back? I may not be very professionally dressed, but I'm not dumb.

"Tell me about yourself," he said.

"I moved here recently from Louisiana. I came from a small town, and there wasn't much in the way of jobs to be had."

"What brought you to Jacksonville?"

"My mother came here quite a few years ago. I decided to visit and liked it enough to stay." No point in telling him I'd actually run away from home after my divorce.

"Hmm." He must have said it twenty times as he looked over my resume. "Sandra seems to like you the best out of all our interviewees. She's been with us about nine years, and you'll be working alongside her." He let out a slight laugh. "And she's made it clear if we hired one of those stuck-up women in the waiting area, she'll walk out."

I tried not to get too enthusiastic in case I'd misinterpreted what he said.

"The job pays ten dollars an hour to start. You'll be on a ninety day trial period. After that, you'll get a raise and benefits will take effect." He rose. "If you want it, the job's yours. You can start tomorrow."

"I want it." I fought the urge to jump up and hug him.

"Just keep it quiet. I'd hate to have a stampede from those waiting to see me." He winked.

On my way out, I stopped beside Sandra's desk. She cradled the handset between her ear and shoulder. I mouthed the words "Thank you," before I left.

"Yes!" I leapt into the air.

The elevator doors slid opened not even a second after I landed. The man who'd been searching Mr. Simpson's file cabinets stepped out.

Before I could say anything, he hauled me inside the elevator with him.

BLURB 

A no man policy doesn’t count when someone’s trying to kill you. A name can mean a lot. You expect Jasper to be a CEO of a company. Name your kid Phineas, well, he’ll get beat up a lot. Name your daughter Trubleh (true blay), and you’ll get nothing but trouble. Trubleh Lawrence makes a habit out of discovering dead bodies. When the police look to her as a suspect, she has no choice but to search for the killer. If being a suspect isn’t bad enough, she has to deal with a grandmother who has visions, a grandfather who wants to buy a speedboat, a co-worker who makes the Wicked Witch of the West look like Shirley Temple, and a guy who constantly reminds her that celibacy is hard when a hot male is around.

BIO

     Kathryn J. Bain began writing more than ten years ago. Her first release, Breathless, came out January 13, 2012. Her novella, Game of Hearts, was released in March 2012 followed by her inspirational romance suspense Catch Your Breath.
     She is the former President of Florida Sisters in Crime and Membership Director for Ancient City Romance Authors. She is currently the Public Relations Director for Ancient City Romance Authors.
     To survive and pay bills, she has been a paralegal for over twenty years and works for an attorney who specializes in elder law.
     She has two daughters and a dog named Gretchen. Her first grandchild is due in 2013.
     Kathryn grew up in Coeur d' Alene, Idaho. In 1981, she moved to Boise, but apparently it wasn't far enough south, because two years later, she headed to Jacksonville, Florida and has lived in the sunshine ever since.
 
Visit Kathryn at her website: KathrynJBain.com
Or through Facebook: Kathryn J. Bain  

Knight & Day is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.