An Equal MeasureBliss Addison / Humor
AN EQUAL MEASURE
Published By Bliss Addison
All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2010 Bliss Addison
First Electronic Publication August 2010
Second Electronic Publication May 2012
*Previously Titled Foxy and
Previously Published by Write Words, Inc.*
This book is a work of fiction based entirely on the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons is purely coincidental. Real places mentioned in the book are depicted fictionally and are not intended to portray actual times or places. All rights reserved. No part of the book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author, excepting brief quotes used in reviews.
Other Books by Bliss Addison:
A Battle of Wills (Shannon Murphy Series – Book I)
With Malicious Intent (Shannon Murphy – Book II)
Wolfe, She Cried
Murder at the Villa Maria-Sedona Retirement Home
A Waning Moon
One Millhaven Lane
Sleight of Hand
Watching Over Her
A Silver Lining (The Monahans – Book I)
A Little Rain Must Fall (The Monahans – Book II)
A Mistaken Belief (The Monahans – Book III)
(A Novella (Humor/YA)
Journalist Josie Fox lives a solitary life. When her half-sister Amy crashes her beloved car and suffers severe head trauma, later lapsing into a coma, Josie rushes to her side. Amy’s neurosurgeon is not optimistic in his prognosis. Josie is then faced with the more than likely possibility that Amy will never regain consciousness. Josie investigates the car accident and learns, much to her dismay, that Amy had tried to take her own life.
Josie uses her investigative skills and uncovers the reason for Amy choosing to commit suicide – her boyfriend reneged on his promise to marry her after his divorce became final.
While Josie sits at Amy’s bedside praying for her recovery she comes up with a plan to pay back Amy’s boyfriend for his callous disposal of her sister.
Josie has her revenge and a lot more she hasn’t bargained on.
A special thank you to ‘Christine’ for pointing out what I did not see.
Chapter One – The Accident
Chapter Two – Plan of Attack
Chapter Three – Into Gear
Chapter Four – The Seduction
Chapter Five – Amy Wakes
Chapter Six – The Apology
Chapter Seven – Panic Attack
Chapter Eight – Lost Minutes
Chapter Nine – Police Escort and Murder
Chapter Ten – Earth to Josie
Chapter Eleven – Jackson and Trish
Chapter Twelve – Dinner with Jackson and Madeleine Fairweather
Chapter Thirteen – Guilty or Not Guilty
Chapter Fourteen – Thump Ding Thump
Chapter Fifteen – Safe Haven in Any Storm
Chapter Sixteen – Big Bertha
Chapter Seventeen – Holing Up at Lou’s
Chapter Eighteen – Thrice Lucky
In Devil’s Creek, folks knew me as Josie Fox. In Freedom, a mid-size city thirty miles northwest of the Creek, I was Joe Fox. After all, who’d read a sports column written by a girl. I didn’t venture into the city often, twice a month at the most. For the remaining days, I holed up in my little cottage, writing my column. As either Joe or Josie, I stood five-two, weighed one hundred and ten pounds, and the color of my eyes – brown – matched my hair. My editor quipped my tongue could cut through granite. He was right. My social skills were atrocious, but not only that, I was an unremarkable woman.
Currently, I was in Freedom.
Two nights ago, at around ten-fifteen, I received a call from traffic cop Curtis Dempsey of the Freedom Police Department. He sadly informed me my half-sister Amy Lenihan was in a single vehicle mishap and was presently being prepped for neurosurgery.
After throwing a few things in a carry-all, I called my boss to explain my intended absence and to arrange a pinch writer for my column. I left for Freedom then, making the forty-five minute drive in thirty.
Amy survived the surgery, but sank into a coma. Her prognosis was not good.
The next two days, I spent at her side, waiting and praying. In one of the frequent intervals where I was requested to leave while health care professionals examined her, I’d made two telephone calls – the first to arrange a bedsitter and the other, to Officer Dempsey to obtain more details on the accident. Amy was an excellent driver. I couldn’t believe someone didn’t cause the accident and declared as much to the patrol cop.
“What happened?” I’d asked.
“Are you familiar with Blind Man’s Curve?” he asked.
“I am,” I said, having spent two-thirds of my life there. “After twenty-six years, Amy would be, too.”
“That’s strange,” he said.
“There were no brake marks. It’s as though she came into the turn unaware of the danger.”
“The road was dry at the time of the accident?”
“If she had tried to stop, there would be evidence on the asphalt,” I said more to myself than Dempsey. “You checked the brakes on her car?” I still couldn’t believe something or someone hadn’t caused the accident.
I said what he was thinking. “You’re suggesting my sister attempted suicide.” I shook my head. The movement jarred loose another question. “Was the car a rental?”
I could hear paper shuffling on his end of the phone.
“No. The car’s registered to her. A 1969 robin egg blue Mach 1. It’s a write-off, by the way.”
I came to the conclusion I’d desperately tried to avoid making. Amy had tried to kill herself. She loved the Mustang and gave it more care and love than some mothers did their children, which went to show her state of mind that night.
After bidding the cop farewell, my thoughts turned to Amy. The sister I knew would not take her life.
Now here I was, snooping around her apartment, hoping to uncover the reason she wanted to die. I looked under the sofa – like dust balls would tell me why an upbeat and chronically happy person like Amy would choose to end her life. They didn’t, so I ran down the short list of possible reasons for suicide: job; health; depression; addiction – alcohol, gambling, drugs; a man. Since Amy was an exemplary and healthy employee who didn’t suffer from depression or any addiction, the most likely culprit was a love gone wrong. I still couldn’t see Amy becoming so distraught over a failed relationship she wanted to kill herself.
I looked around for her address book, but couldn’t find it. She probably had it in her handbag, which was now in her personal effects at the hospital.
Her apartment was neat and tidy, everything in its place.
Her computer was password protected. Why, I didn’t know. A friend, a computer guru, had shown me how to get past the safeguard, but I knew where to draw line on snooping.
I moved on to her telephone and checked the last number called. She phoned for Chinese food three nights ago. We shared a passion for take-in. The menu didn’t matter as long as we didn’t need to cook.
Amy and I didn’t speak to each other every day, but we kept in close touch either by text messaging or email, never letting thirty days pass without a personal visit. It was as though any longer and the distance would grow wider. It was an unspoken pact between us. We were all the family we had. Sometimes, nearing month’s end, she’d appear at my door, worn out from a buying trip or just plain worn out. We’d drink wine and roast marshmallows in the fireplace and reminisce. Come morning, Amy would hop into her rental or Mach 1, whichever she was driving at the time, blow me a kiss, mouth ‘I love you’ and leave as abruptly as she’d arrived twelve hours before. That’s my Amy. Now, the task was on me to find the person or reason that wiped the smile from her face and took away her reason for living.
“Knock, knock,” a female voice said behind me. Like I’d been caught with my hand in my mother’s purse, I whirled around. Amy’s landlady, a woman who I never met but recognized from Amy’s description – short, round and dimple-cheeked, stared at me from the doorway.
“Hello,” I said, smiling to let her know I was a friend and not a burglar. “I’m Josie. Amy’s sister.” Amy told me they often chatted and I knew my sister would have mentioned me in conversation. I waited for Marie Palter to remember. She regarded me through narrowed eyes. I knew the minute she placed me. Her face burst with friendliness.
“I heard someone rummaging around up here and thought it was Amy. Sometimes, we have tea after she gets home from a trip.”
“You don’t know,” I said.
“Don’t know what?” She brought her fingers to her lips then, opened her eyes wide like she’d had a revelation – an upsetting one. Before she could assume the worst, I said, “Amy’s had an accident. She’s in the hospital.”
“Will she be all right?” she asked.
I saw that Marie genuinely cared for Amy, which didn’t surprise me. Anyone who knew her did. Amy was that kind of person.
“It’s too soon to tell. I’m optimistic.” I still would not admit the truth, the more than likely possibility that Amy would never recover from her injury. “Would you like a cup of tea?”
“I’d like something stronger, if you don’t mind. Amy has a bottle of whiskey in the cabinet above the fridge.”
“Whiskey?” Amy never drank hard liquor.
“She bought it for me,” Marie said, artfully telling me what I needed to know.
I nodded. It sounded like Amy. She was always gracious and attentive to the needs and desires of others.
“How do you like it?” I asked, looking at the cabinets.
“Straight up,” she said. “I’ll get it.”
While water for tea boiled, I sat with Marie at the kitchen table and proceeded to question her about Amy. “When was the last time you saw her?”
“The night before last. I noticed her taking her car from the garage.”
“Amy told me how kind you were to let her use your garage.” I pictured her behind the wheel of her Mach 1 and smiled. “She loves that car.”
Marie looked at me.
“She loves you more.”
Amy and I were all we had. Maybe soon I’d be the only one left. Tears clouded my vision. If I started crying, I wouldn’t stop. I stood and walked to the counter and unplugged the kettle. I filled the teapot with water and threw in two teabags, figuring Marie liked her tea as much as she liked a nip.
“Was Amy seeing anyone? Seriously, I mean.” I brought the teapot, milk and sugar and two cups to the table.
“There was someone.” Marie nodded. “He owns an antique store. I think he’s in the middle of a divorce.”
“Amy never told me about him.” I grimaced. “She knew I would be against the relationship.”
“He was here that night.”
“The night of her accident?”
“Yes. They had a terrible fight.” She looked at me. “I didn’t make a habit of listening to her conversations.”
I put my hand over hers and squeezed. “I’m sure you didn’t. Walls are thin in these old homes.” I filled our cups with tea.
“They are.” She poured a generous shot of whiskey in her cup and sipped.
“Do you know what they were fighting about?”
“He’d promised Amy they’d get married after his divorce became final. From what I heard, he changed his mind.” She looked at me. “Amy had been a play thing for him.”
I thought so, too. Love hurt, but rejection, lies and deceit could cause someone to do something they wouldn’t normally contemplate. Like killing themselves.
More and more, Amy’s accident looked like attempted suicide. Why didn’t she come to me? I would have told her no man’s love was worth her life.
Amy’s lover obviously possessed a great power over her. The worst, though, was that he’d known his effect on her. How could he not?
My temper flared. I couldn’t let him get away with what he’d done to my sister.
Soon he would know how it felt to be deceived and manipulated.
Minutes after Marie left, I fingered the business card for Carlisle Antiques sitting atop the hall table. I figured it was as good a place as any to put myself into play.
Twenty minutes later, I was strolling down East Avenue in downtown Freedom, feeling like a minus-one among the businessmen and women dressed in tailored suits and designer dresses. I tucked my T-shirt tighter into the waistband of my department store jeans and lifted my chin. If I didn’t bring attention to myself, no one would notice me. I’m foxy, I told myself. The mantra served me well for all of two seconds. There were no two ways of looking at me. I was out of place and underdressed. If I wanted to make the man who broke my sister’s heart pay, which I did, I would need to play and dress the part of a sophisticate. First, though, I needed to check out his antique store, which would help me determine how to handle the attack on his heart.
Where I’ve been done wrong, I went for the jugular. The practice wouldn’t serve me well with Carlisle. I needed to apply patience and discretion, two qualities anyone who knew me wouldn’t say I possessed in abundance.
I had a moment of apprehension, thinking I overestimated my ability, then I remembered the cause. I needed to do this; besides, how difficult could seduction be?
On holey Reeboks, I strode over the cobblestone street toward the sign marking Carlisle Antiques. Even from the distance, I recognized the opulence of the establishment. I wasn’t intimidated, though. My mission was to take down this Carlisle fellow and take him down I would.