To the casual observer, Ann Foster leads an idyllic life on a beautiful estate in southeastern Wisconsin. There, Ann and her husband, Brad, have known great happiness, as they've seen their two children, Andy and Jenny, grow. Jenny and her father are inseparable, and now her son is off to college. Life should be perfect ... but Ann starts experiencing strange premonitions of danger. Concerned, her husband suggests that she seek medical attention, but the doctor assures them that everything is fine.
Ann lands a job at an advertising agency, and Mark Manchester is her boss. But when Ann survives a brutal home invasion and other frightening events, it looks like her premonitions were actually predictions of danger. Mark reaches out to his employee, and Ann finds his compassion and support to be a great comfort in scary times. When she sees him talking to two men she feels are stalking her, however, she starts to worry that maybe Mark isn't what he seems. Complicating matters more, while on a business luncheon with her boss, she is surprised to see her husband out with his client, Suzette Monnet.
These events only fuel her paranoia and suspicion, and Ann fears that she can't trust anyone. Just when she thinks things can't get any worse-they do. Alone at home one night, she's attacked, and in her last moment of consciousness, looks up to see Jenny's rifle aiming down from above.
At that moment, Ann knows that their lives will never be the same.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.51(d)|
Read an Excerpt
DEATH DOESN'T KNOCK
By Anita Lowe
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Anita Lowe
All right reserved.
Chapter OneSoutheastern Wisconsin, 1972
THE ROOM WAS AGLOW WITH the warmth of the cozy fire hissing and crackling in the hearth. Embers of the dry, older wood and the newer green logs made for a lively sound bite, a dance of flames hurling shadows about the den. But for some reason, Ann Carter couldn't enjoy the cheery warmth of the open hearth and laid her pen aside. Getting up from her desk, she wrapped her coral robe even more tightly about her.
A feeling of constant, foreboding seemed omnipresent and no matter how tight she knotted the robe about her waist, the sense of uneasiness was still with her.
She stopped to listen, her eyes darting around the room, trying to anticipate the unknown.
But still there was nothing ...
The air became heavy with an uneasy tension; her heart began beating faster. Just breathing became a burden as her entire being seemed completely out of sync. Taking a slow, deep breath she asked herself as she slowly let it out, Why do I feel this way?
It had been well over a year now since she had come to live in this beautiful house. Calling this home a "house" was an injustice to its stature. Actually, "mansion," would be a more fitting description of its size and elegance. Here she lived with her husband Brad and their two children ... son, nineteen-year-old Andy and daughter, sixteen-year-old Jenny.
Brad had considered the large house a "tremendous find" and along with the estate he had bought nearly another fifty acres of wooded wildlife area that surrounded it on all sides. Since he was an avid hunter, wildlife was encouraged, only to become the object of man's sport. Though Ann loved the forest and the grounds around their country estate, she abhorred any part of killing poor, defenseless animals and fowl, whether for sport or otherwise.
As she stared into the red-orange flames, she rubbed her arms and shoulders, asking herself, as she had over and over again, Why do I feel this way?
No matter how hard she tried, this premonition of fear, seemed to hang over her and no matter how she tried, she couldn't shake it. For months she had kept these fears to herself, then thinking it better to share her concerns with Brad, she had done so. Instead of comfort and support, she would never forget his response, "Ann, stop acting like a child! Do you realize what most women would give for what you have right here? Maybe you're not feeling well. Go see Dr. Kalbus; maybe he can suggest something."
Taking his words to heart, she had done so, only to find herself a perfect specimen of good health. The kindly doctor, after listening to her worries, had suggested that maybe an outside interest might help occupy her mind more fully.
Not wanting to interfere with Brad's running of the Carter-Foster Import Export Co., she took a job with the Manchester Advertising Agency. She loved the writing and sketching of ad copies and even did many of the physical layouts for most of the clients she handled. It gave her a real sense of satisfaction when she saw magazines and occasionally billboards, bearing the fruit of her labors.
She found herself busily engaged in her work. Lately, she had become aware she was spending more and more hours at the office and realized it was not because of the personal satisfaction in accomplishing something worthwhile. It had become her crutch, her lifeline to stability as she reached out for a safe and secure place where she would be unafraid.
Unafraid! What she wouldn't give to arrest that emotion. Complacency could be such a far better companion. As time went by, she even toyed with the idea of seeing a psychiatrist. Yet, never had she felt saner; her thoughts more clear or her ideas more precise.
It was only here, in this house, where there was the terrible feeling of dread, the mysterious wonder and worry of something unnamed, about to happen. She couldn't understand why this feeling was felt only by her and not by her handsome husband. Since Brad had taken over her father's business, he had done everything to perfection. Could he not feel this? What about her son, Andy, who was away at college? Then there was her sweet Jenny who was the apple of her father's eye. Fortunately, they were spared this prodding intuition.
Turning toward the heavily draped windows in the den, she hesitated at the adjoining library door. Cautiously, she reached around the doorway and turned on the light then hastily and fearfully looked around. Nothing! Yet there was something. Not an apparition of her imagination, but a fixation of her mind. A sense of doom she couldn't dispel.
Oh, if only I weren't alone so much, she told herself. Andy is away at school and Brad has taken Jenny on a Wyoming hunting trip. More killing! Jenny could be such a refined young lady if she wished, but Brad has made it a point to teach her how to shoot and fish as well as himself.
It bothered her that the closeness between her husband and their daughter left little room for any interests Ann might have wished to instill or share with her daughter. Only because Andy had no desire for any of these things, had Jenny been groomed so well.
Ann flicked off the light in the library, turned and walked through the den to the entrance into the living room. There a small dim lamp burned next to the sofa, casting grotesque shapes and shadows around the large elegant room, reaching into the dark recesses of the foyer entrance.
All was quiet as she turned and looked up the open staircase where dim wall lights reflected only the richness of good, tasteful decorating. Above was the balcony that hung like a gaping void, over the dining room and living room. Listening and looking there appeared to be nothing but the quiet emptiness of night to surround her. Ann felt better as she turned back to the den, determined to conquer this fear of the unknown and dispel this ever- shadowing feeling of doom!
"Oh, my God ... I must or I'll lose my mind," she said aloud.
Suddenly, as she entered the den, she heard what seemed to be a throaty moan or growl. She stopped and listened, unassailable fear rising within her. After a moment, she heard a faint whining noise and realized it must be Rusty, the family's Irish setter that was kenneled out by the garage. Reassuring herself, she realized if something weren't right, Rusty would raise an unholy ruckus if a stranger was on the premises. Probably he was feeling neglected since he had not been allowed the run of the grounds today. With both Brad and Jenny gone, she had merely fed him and let it go at that.
Knowing she'd feel better if she checked on Rusty, she crossed through the living room again to the other wing where one large room was set aside for Brad's game room and home office and the other was a large family room. Walking across to the family room, guided only by the dim light of the lamp in the living room, she went to the corner and pulled back the drapes from the floor to ceiling thermo-panes.
She tried to see out to the garage and the kennels, but all was darkness. She slide open the door slightly, staring out and listening. There was nothing to be heard, but the pounding of her heart beat in her own ears.
"Rusty! Rusty!" she called. When she didn't hear him, she wished she could whistle like Jenny. She tried but to no avail. Then she concluded he was probably inside the garage, where the kennel was attached and couldn't hear her.
It was the beginning of the new moon and nothing could be darker than a night in the country. Above, the stars shone brightly, but their tiny flickering couldn't penetrate the dark of night. Leaves scurried across the patio, with a rustling disquiet that only added to the eerie feeling. Though it was late October, the nights had already become cold and windy. Giving a cursory look, Ann figured a cold front was moving in. Realizing there was no sense in standing there, exposing herself to the bone-aching coldness, she slid the door shut and locked it as she turned off the outside light.
She loved this area of the house in the daytime. The entire wall was made of glass that opened onto a patio with a large yard and the forest beyond. They had made only a few changes in the house and this was one of them. Also, they had done the same to the west wall of the library and den. At one time the den had been a part of the library, but Ann had wanted a cozier room to herself, so up went a wall, the changing of a few bookshelves and it was complete. It was still connected by a folding door in between, which gave her fast access to any reference book she wanted.
Once again, as she walked into the living room, she glanced up at the balcony and all was quiet. The doors to the bedrooms seemed to stand at attention, like sentinels over looking all. Walking to the front foyer, she glanced at the open drapes of the window. Reaching for the light switch, she flicked on the outdoor lights. Looking around, she then sighed with relief, as nothing could be seen except a friendly bunny scurrying away across the macadam drive that circled around the front of the house. Feeling better, she decided to return to the den and watch TV for a while, hoping she could get herself in a frame of mind so that sleep could conquer this uneasiness.
Trying to concentrate on the news, she remembered that tonight they had reminded everyone to adjust their clocks for daylight savings time. What was it the announcer had said? Oh, yes, "Spring forward. Fall back!" Rather clever, she thought as she set her watch.
The Mid-East is at a ceasefire after fifteen days of bloody war. The Nixon-Watergate thing is still in full swing. How can I settle my own mind and resolve my own problems when men, in the highest offices of the lands, can't even come to any agreement. Enough of that, she thought as she turned off the TV. Back to the things she knew about such as a good ad copy that could draw attention and sell products for her clients.
Thinking of this her thoughts turned to Mark Manchester, her boss and president of the agency. Most of the time, she tried to dismiss the warm, wonderful feelings that came over her when she worked with him or merely thought of him. She reminded herself she was a so-called happily married woman, approaching her fortieth birthday and the mother of two wonderful children. What nostalgia made her desire this relationship? All she knew was that his approval of her work, a mere novice, was tremendous. He let her know she was a natural at it, with an unusual talent for originality.
As she had grown with experience, he had given her more and more responsibility with clients that seemed, at times, to present insurmountable problems. Often, she felt like a schoolgirl when she would find him watching her; his glistening gray eyes filled her with warmth, bordering on more than just friendliness or gratefulness. She was well aware she had retained most of her natural attractiveness, even though mellowed by a few pounds and life's trials and tribulations. Her dark brown hair had only a few gray hairs, which remained unnoticeable in its rather short shaggy look framing her somewhat delicate features. When she was younger, she had dreamed of being a fashion model, but her modest 5' 3" curvaceous figure wasn't lanky enough. Nor was she the Prima Donna type. Even when she worked with her father, she liked physical work because she felt it stimulated her brain.
Funny, she thought, I should be wondering about my family, feeling lonely for them. But I'm not lonely. I'm only hopelessly afraid of an unfulfilled premonition. If I only knew the reason I felt this way ...
The wind had picked up and was blowing harder outside and she could hear the branches of the giant oak rubbing against the outer bedroom walls above her. She had heard this many times before, so she was acquainted with its scratching and scraping. Sometimes, it would give her a start, until she remembered the cause.
Suddenly, as she sat there, she felt a draft. At first she thought she was imagining it. Almost simultaneously the flames in the fireplace beckoned out toward her ever so slightly as if to reach out and gulp up this extra surge of air. Blood leaped through her veins and her heart galloped in frenzy. Just as suddenly as it had come, she felt the draft dissipate as she watched the flames return to a less frantic dance.
Fright paralyzed her as at the same moment she realized there would no be more waiting.
The time had arrived.
Ann knew she was no longer alone in the house ...
Sitting there, it seemed her body was heavy, as if weighed down in a vacuum, sinking deeper and deeper in the muck of despair. Somewhere in the recesses of her mind, a voice called out, "Fight! You must fight!"
She tried to lift her arms, but they seemed to weigh a ton.
Suddenly her adrenaline kicked in and as she frantically stood, in a simultaneous movement, reached across her desk and picked up the phone. Her trembling finger found the numbers. She waited and listened for an operator to pick up then tried again. Then it registered in her mind ... there was no dial tone! The phone was dead, a vacuum of endless quiet.
Just as she was about to turn and run for the living room, a shadow, a real living threat surfaced behind her. Something soft and silky floated over her face and then tightened on her throat, squeezing the very breath out of her. Her next conscious thought was feeling his knee crushing into her back, as he bruised and choked out the flame of her life. She thought, If only I could tell him to take what you want ... valuables mean nothing to me ...
The intensity of the pressure caused her brain to erupt in red flashes. She seemed to be drifting, and then she realized, in what was left of the black tiny recess of her brain, It's my life he wants ...
With all the desperation a victim must feel, she realized she was still clinging to the receiver of the phone. Realizing she had one free hand, she reached up behind her and gouged at his face, his shoulder, while at the same time, as hard as she could, she pummeled the receiver against his head.
The power of her blow surprised him, causing him to momentarily release her. Blinded with pain and struggling for air, she ran into the living room, knocking over the light with as much force as she could. Luck was with her as the cord either was jerked out of the socket or it simply broke with the might of her frenzy. It didn't matter, at least now there was some darkness between her and her assailant.
Scanning the darkness, she soon realized he was close behind her. At the same moment, she noticed the dim lights from the balcony above seemed to be so bright they lit up the whole house. Instantly she knew what she had to do. Running and dodging around furniture unfamiliar to him, she managed to elude him as she ran toward the stairway. He stumbled and knocked furniture over in his haste to reach her spewing obscenities as he went. Instinctively, she knew her only salvation; her only safety net was darkness.
Pulling a lightweight chair over as she ran, he tripped, hurling more curse words. This gave her enough time to turn off the stairway wall and balcony lights as she ran. Thinking frantically, she hoped by his not being familiar with the living room that he wouldn't know the only other switches were at the foyer entrance and the dining room. She prayed he wouldn't find them.
Running back to a grouping of furniture, she reached down, fumbled and found the cords to the lamps and gradually worked her way around and yanked them all out of their sockets. As she stood there listening, she realized he had stopped and was also standing there getting his bearings. She could hear him breathing hard and then as if the devil himself was against her, she saw the beam of a flashlight. It was his! The small beam seemed like a giant search light over a prisoner's refuge.
Steadily the small beam first searched the stairway and then back into the room. He tried switching on a lamp and when it didn't work he tried another. She wanted to scream as she crouched down, but there would be no one to hear. As she tried to stifle her gut-wrenching fear, she nearly choked on her anxiety. Frantically she thought, Where can I go? This game can't last for long and then I would no longer be the hunted. Upstairs! No ... there wouldn't be any place to go that he wouldn't find me. All the other rooms have light switches inside the doorways. Still there has to be a way. Oh, God! Please help me in my dilemma, she silently cried.
She was hiding behind a chair when his beam of light caught her. He was fast upon her, catching her by her sleeve as she ran, struggling to free herself. When she felt the sleeve rip, he held her arms as he slapped her back and forth across the face. The stunning effect only made her body and senses more alert. Then a thought flashed through her mind, you shouldn't idle with death when it's only a moment away.
Using her newfound strength, she fought back. With his hand gripping her throat again, she tried to loosen his grip by scratching and biting her way free. His acrid fowl breath was in her face, his curses in her ears when his flashlight fell to the floor.
Excerpted from DEATH DOESN'T KNOCK by Anita Lowe Copyright © 2012 by Anita Lowe. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews