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The Davenport Dilemma

The Davenport Dilemma

5.0 1
by Betty Kerss Groezinger

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Josh Davenport is a former Army intelligence officer, sent deep undercover to infiltrate a possible terrorist group known as the Brotherhood. This group is intent on world domination, and Josh is the only thing standing between them and the destruction of America. However, his cover is blown, and the Brotherhood orders his termination.

Six years after the


Josh Davenport is a former Army intelligence officer, sent deep undercover to infiltrate a possible terrorist group known as the Brotherhood. This group is intent on world domination, and Josh is the only thing standing between them and the destruction of America. However, his cover is blown, and the Brotherhood orders his termination.

Six years after the death of her husband, Jennie Davenport struggles to put a new life together. Following a bizarre vision, she begins to suspect her husband is actually still alive. She swears she spoke to him, but was Josh real or a figment of her desperate imagination? In order to solve the mystery, she must learn more about his last case.

Jennie jumps into the line of fire, prepared to conduct her own investigation of the odious Brotherhood. Yet, the more she learns, the more she wants to give up. The quest for the truth takes her from Dallas to New Orleans, Chicago, London, and further. The vision of her dead husband soon turns into a nightmare as Jennie becomes the Brotherhood's next target.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A brisk political thriller from a first-time author who mixes international espionage with escalating domestic paranoia. Jennie Davenport Scott's pleasantly boring middle-aged and middle-class life in suburban Dallas collapses following her sudden, unexpected contact with her beloved former husband, Josh Davenport. Trouble is, Josh, an adman and professor, died of an aneurism half a dozen years ago, and Jennie has recently remarried after a suitable period of mourning. But was it just a dream? And is Josh alive, or is Jennie suffering from PTSD--or worse? Enlisting the help of her two grown daughters and current (creepy, possibly bigamous) husband, Nathan, plus a friendly cop and a couple of Josh's former buddies, Jennie begins her search for the truth--blithely raising red flags in high places, from Washington, D.C., to the secret European headquarters of the Illuminati and their villainous Bilderberg-ish puppet masters, the Brotherhood. Josh's brief Cold War–era career in the shadowy G-2, a U.S. Army covert ops division, comes back to haunt everyone involved as almost all traces of his life and death--his military records and death certificate, even his gravestone--disappear. It's The Osterman Weekend but with the sexy 1970s subtext sublimated into full-blown 1980s shopping orgies at Harrods and such, with some mildly Hitchcock-ian red herrings tossed hither and yon. Much like that of the initially clueless heroines in Reginald Hill's brilliant novels Death of a Dormouse and The Spy's Wife, Jennie's growing self-awareness and determination to find the truth are mostly believable and ultimately gratifying--despite a too-easy setup for the inevitable sequel (which will, one hopes, prove to be as well-written and entertaining as the author's debut). Not recommended for those planning lengthy trips in planes, trains or helicopters--or anyone who isn't dead certain what his or her spouse actually does for a living.

Product Details

Abbott Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.63(d)

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The Davenport Dilemma


Abbott Press

Copyright © 2013 Betty Kerss Groezinger
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4582-0735-7

Chapter One

Six Years Later Early Saturday Morning, March 5, 1983 Cedar Creek Lake, Texas

Jennie Davenport looked wildly about her. Just enough light permeated the dark for her to see she was in a bedroom. A scream rose up in her throat when she looked down at the bed and saw a strange man. Oh dear Lord, who is that ... oh, Lord ... Terrified, she stifled a scream and backed out of the room hoping he wouldn't wake up. Where am I, she wondered desperately. Calm, Jennie told herself. Have to stay calm ... have to get out of here.

Shutting the door put her in total darkness. She inched along the wall until her hand hit an opening. She slipped in, easing the door shut. Expelling the breath she had been holding, she flipped on the light and caught a movement out of the corner of her eye. Twisting violently, she looked all around the room. Relief flooded over her—it was only her reflection in a mirror. Stomach reeling, her legs gave way and she fell on the bed with a thud.

I was running across a lawn, she recalled. Josh was right behind me. Every fiber of her being still wanted to scream, but she didn't dare. She clenched her hands tightly and choked the scream down. Breathe, just keep breathing.

What am I doing here? I was outside, and now, this house—that man. I have to find Josh. She had to find out where she was. So scared she could barely move, she forced herself to get up and look out the window. A car was parked in the driveway; it looked like her car. Turning back to the room, she saw a photograph on the dresser and picked it up. It was a picture of her daughters, Kris and Laurie.

My daughters—suddenly she knew; everything kicked in. She was at the lake house. The man in the other room was Nathan. "I didn't recognize my own husband," she cried out in anguish. "I was talking to Josh, but that can't be. Josh died years ago." Jennie started to shake, she collapsed on the bed. I just talked to a dead man. Breathe ... in and out ... keep breathing.

Head pounding and heart racing, she turned out the light, opened the door, and looked in all the upstairs rooms. "Crazy, I've gone completely crazy," she mumbled. No one was there except Nathan, and he was still asleep. Something not only weird but really frightening had just happened.

Josh is alive! I was with him. She had always felt he was alive. He must be downstairs. Frantically she rushed to the staircase and stumbled down it. She searched every room, every closet. He wasn't there. She couldn't see anybody out the windows either.

Maybe he's outside. Fumbling with the keys, she opened the door after several tries and dashed out into the misty night. She ran up to the road, but nothing was moving—no cars, not even a headlight; no glimmer of any lights shone through the trees. She ran back past the house and down the hill to the dock and looked across the water for boats; no ripples, no boats. Everything was still and quiet except for the distant thunder. The yard lights from across the lake were making unbroken streaks in the water, so no boats had passed recently. All the houses around the cove were dark. There was no movement anywhere.

"Josh, answer me." Jennie called softly. "Where are you?"

She shivered as thunder cracked and the sky lit up. Rain began to pelt her before she got back to the house. She'd had some strange dreams since Josh died, but this was no dream. She hadn't been to bed; she had been standing at her bedroom window looking at the lake. No one will believe this. Nobody believed her six years ago when she thought she saw him.

She paced barefoot around the room, peering out every window. Cold, wet, and shivering, Jennie put water on to boil for tea and wrapped a blanket around her. Every detail of whatever had happened was vivid in her mind. It had been real. She could still feel his face under her fingers. His voice was ringing in her ears. He'd even sung a song to her, the old pony song; she hadn't thought about it in years.

Irrationally she could remember everything, riding in the car, running across the grassy lawn, but most of all, touching Josh ...

Jennie didn't question how she got in the car. The car was going down a boulevard lined with huge trees that overhung the street like a canopy. Moonlight broke through the leaves making patterns on the pavement. The houses they passed were old with double-curved staircases leading up to the front door. Ground level looked like basements. Some houses had balconies. Others had round turrets, lots of ironwork, all quite old and picturesque. It looked like New Orleans.

All of a sudden she realized she wasn't alone. There was a man beside her. And they were in the back of a limousine. There was another man driving.

"There's the old Jung Hotel. Do you remember when we stayed there?"

Startled, she tried to see his face in the darkness. "We stayed there?"

"It's no longer the Jung. It closed years ago," he said.

"Who are you?"

He began to hum a tune that she hadn't heard for years. Recognizing it, she turned toward him and strained to see him in the faint light.

"Who are you?"

She caught her breath when he began to sing the words ...

Go to sleepy, little baby, Go to sleepy, little baby, When you wake, we'll play patty, patty cake with all the pretty little ponies.

It was a voice she knew so well, a voice from the past. One she never expected to hear again. And the old lullaby, the nonsense lullaby. Oh yes, she remembered it.

"Look at me," she stammered.

Light flickered across his face when he turned toward her. Her heart stopped. It couldn't be, but it was. He was there beside her. He looked different; his face was fuller with a beard that was almost gray instead of red like it used to be. His hair was streaked with white. He was heavier and looked older. Of course he was older. It had been six years since he died. He died—yet, it was Josh.

The breath she had been holding exploded out of her. "You're dead. You died years ago."

"Hold on, honey," he said as she leaned away from him. "Listen to me. Take a deep breath and listen. "It's okay. It's really me. I'm alive. I'm so sorry about all this."

"Sorry, you're sorry for dying. This doesn't make any sense."

"Think, honey, you remember our lullaby, the one we used to sing to our daughters."

"You died, and we buried you. I saw you buried; you were in the casket." The memories and the pain of that day flared up in her mind. She had known something was wrong at the funeral home. She combed his hair and that helped, but he still didn't look like her husband. His shirt didn't even fit right. Everything was strange then, out of focus, but he was in that casket.

"We buried you," she kept repeating. "You can't be here."

"I know it seems impossible. Remember Kansas City, we used to say that if we were ever separated we'd always recognize each other by that song. We even joked and said the pony song was our private code."

She looked at him again, right in the face. She touched his forehead and felt the small scar on the bridge of his nose. It was Josh. He was back. With a flood of joy, she threw her arms around him. They rode in silence for a little while with their arms wrapped around each other.

"Tell me about my girls," he whispered hoarsely. "Do Kris and Laurie remember Scarlet Ribbons? Do they remember me singing it to them?"

She opened her purse and showed him pictures of them and of his two grandchildren. As he looked at them, tears rolled down his face. "They're young women now. I've missed so much, so very much."

"What happened?" Jennie asked crying softly. "Tell me what happened."

"There's not enough time to tell you everything right now. The important part is I had to disappear, similar to a witness protection plan."

"Why didn't we go with you?"

"It's a long story, honey," he continued cautiously. "Do you remember when I was in the Army, and was sent to New York to a special information school in New Rochelle? That was the beginning and all that was true, but there was more to it. In 1954, a group of us were flown to an island; we weren't told where it was. It was top secret, paramilitary training. I was classified G-2. You didn't know it then, but G-2 is the Army counterpart of the FBI. I was also trained to evaluate information concerning the war potential of foreign nations and the capability of the United States to defend itself. That's why they did the intensive investigation on you when we were married."

"I remember. The Army came to Dallas and talked to our neighbors where I grew up, the people where I worked, my high school and college teachers. I had never heard of anyone who was investigated like that, but you told me it was customary to check out the wives of anyone privy to top secret intelligence."

"All this was in preparation for my assignment. Specifically, I was qualified to handle sensitive data for the Special Operations Division of the Army. It wasn't just the news releases to the American public; however, that was part of it." Josh paused and touched Jennie's face. Then with a deep sigh, he continued.

"As time went by, I began to be aware of some strange occurrences. A number of them concerned the NSA and other government agencies. Then I stumbled on what appeared to be a conspiracy. I found information about a covert group planning a controlled takeover of our country. Actually, their plans extend way beyond the United States. The group's long-term plans are to control all the world governments. I couldn't ignore it. I started tracing it, unofficially, just on my own. Every time I thought I was closing in, I ran into a brick wall. Someone must have found out what I was doing. Evidently I got too close for comfort because that was when I was called to a meeting at Fort Leavenworth. You remember the week I spent up there? I was questioned; maybe a better word would be interrogated. They tried to convince me I was misinterpreting what I had found. A man I respected and admired echoed this. I received papers shortly after that week stating that I was to be mustered out four months early. I had to agree to stop all investigation and never reveal what I had discovered. In other words, they were getting rid of me. I also had to agree to be reactivated anytime they wanted me back."

"We moved back to Texas, and I didn't hear from them for years. And, for the most part, forgot about it until the spring of 1974 when they contacted me. I was reactivated then. That was part of the agreement I had signed." Josh hesitated, and then continued quietly. "You're never out when you are G-2. They had considered me a sleeper up to that point. I was now in a position with the advertising agency to make trips and keep irregular hours without arousing suspicion. The conspiracy I had chanced upon when we were in Kansas City was indeed real. There's not enough time to tell you any more, besides I don't want to compromise you with the details. All you need to know is that when my cover was blown, they had to bring me in."

"Why didn't we go with you?"

"It just wasn't possible. There was no way everybody could be protected from this group: you, the girls, my mom, your parents, my sister, her husband, or my niece and nephew. There were too many ways they could get to me through all of you. The only means they could find to protect the whole family was for me to die. It had to be believable and public. You had to believe it. If I were dead, there would be no reprisals against any of you. It wasn't what I wanted, but I had to keep you safe."

"I don't understand how all this was done. How you could die right in front of me? How could you be in the casket that still for so long?"

"They gave me medication that knocked me out. I tried to warn you right at the end. If I could have stopped it then, I would have. But it was too late. The medicine had already taken effect. As for the casket, another body was altered to look like me. No one expects a dead person to look right, and you sure don't expect another body to be there."

"I don't know how I could have been fooled. I knew you too well."

"They are really good at what they do, and they counted on shock and grief to do the rest. It would have been easier if you had taken the medication they tried to give you in the hospital. That would have kept you confused through it all."

"What a horrible thing to do to someone. They manipulated me, just like a pawn in a chess game. But this was my life, not a game. Have you any idea of what Kris, Laurie, and I have been through?"

"Oh, Jennie, I didn't do this because I wanted to. It had to be done to protect you, so you and the girls could have a normal life—no hiding, no looking over your shoulder every minute. No watching for strange faces that might be stalking you. It was the end of my life in all the ways that counted. You did have Kris and Laurie."

"Where have you been all these years?"

"They first moved me to a secure zone, then out of the country for a couple of years. I've been back in the States since then, much of the time in New Orleans."

"Who are they? Why have they allowed you to contact me now?"

"It's Army G-2. They haven't allowed me do this, but I think it's safe. My death hasn't been questioned, and I've been much closer to the situation than operations has. I would never endanger you or our daughters."

Josh hesitated, then with a terrible heaviness said, "I had to see you. They told me when it all came down six years ago it would be temporary, two or three years at the most. I never figured on you marrying again. They didn't tell me until a month ago." His eyes turned cold and steely. "They should have told me. I knew then I had to break free."

"But I'm not free," Jennie cried. "I'm married and have been for a year. I'm married to two men. What do we do now?"

"It was never supposed to go this far." Josh looked sharply at the driver, and then said very softly, "Tell me who you married."

"Nathan Scott. I married Nathan Scott."

Josh's body went rigid. "Nathan Scott," he said ominously. "I know him. How did you meet him?"

"At the country club; he said he'd played in a tennis tournament with you. He's been wonderful to us, and I do care about him. He's a good man, but he's not you. Do you have any idea how much our daughters needed you," she cried in anger. "How could you do this to us?"

"There was no other option at that time, honey, but now is our chance. You have to get away from Scott."

Unnerved, frightened, Jennie panicked and yelled, "Stop the car. I have to get out—right now."

She flung open the door and ran away from the car. Light was shining through the windows of the large building in front of her. Huge trees were surrounding her; their limbs almost touching the grassy lawn. The moonlight created long shadows that stretched like fingers ready to grab her. The wind moved the fingers back and forth.

Josh ran after her. "Wait for me, Jennie."

When she turned to face him, she couldn't see through the dense fog. She was hemmed in by the dark murky night. And she couldn't find him.

Frantic, she called out, "I'm right here, but I can't see you. Please, please, don't leave me again. Where are you, Josh ...?"

All she could hear was the eerie sound of foghorns in the distance.

Chapter Two

Early Saturday Morning March 5, 1983 Cedar Creek Lake, Texas

The shrill whistle of the teakettle sent Jennie running. She had to turn it off before it woke Nathan. She didn't want to talk to him right now. It was a couple of hours till dawn and she had to think, try to sort out what happened. She curled up in the corner of the sofa with her tea. She couldn't stop shaking. She pulled the blanket around her and held the hot cup with both hands trying to get warm.

The terror still swirled around in her stomach. Jennie felt cold and queasy. She burrowed deeper into the blanket. "I didn't recognize Nathan ... or where I was," she sobbed, still wanting to scream.

She had seen Josh. "I even touched his face. We were in a car in New Orleans, but I couldn't have been," she cried softly. "Oh, dear Lord, help me. What happened to me?"

There has to be a rational explanation, but what? Yesterday was just a normal day, nothing out of the ordinary. She had looked forward all week to going to the lake house. Nathan came home early and was anxious to get started ...

"What a week this has been. I'm ready for a break. Are Kris and Laurie coming with us?" Nathan had asked while they were loading the car.

"No, just you and me, I didn't ask the girls. I thought we'd enjoy some time alone. We haven't been down since Christmas and there's a lot of spring cleanup. It's too cold to swim, so there wouldn't be much for them to do except rake leaves and that wouldn't excite them."

The two-hour drive to the lake house always seemed longer on Friday nights. She supposed it was because they were anxious to get there. They had known they wanted the house by the lake the first day the real estate lady showed it to them. It had been a good decision. Everyone loved it and it had helped draw them together as a family.


Excerpted from The Davenport Dilemma by BETTY KERSS GROEZINGER Copyright © 2013 by Betty Kerss Groezinger. Excerpted by permission of Abbott Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

BETTY KERSS GROEZINGER did legal research for Harry S. Truman in Independence, Missouri, and she currently works for a Dallas law firm. A graduate of the University of North Texas, she taught business courses at Rockhurst College in Kansas City. She lives in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

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The Davenport Dilemma 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great novel from an original author. Can't wait for the sequel. R2 from Dallas