A young, professional woman named Cherie is confronted with the reality that her stockbroker fiancé,
Jack, is missing. She and her fiancé's brother, Bryan,
desperately search for him yet have heard nothing from him or about him. This culminates in Jack being found dead in an alley under very mysterious circumstances. Cherie is devastated and cannot believe that Jack is gone. She handles the cremation arrangements and ends up bringing home the urn she lovingly has chosen with Jack's ashes in it. Once Cherie does this, strange things begin happening to her involving the urn and Jack's death. The novel twists in and out of the drug world with its addictiveness and dangers, when even darker elements emerge as the strange events surrounding
Cherie become increasingly disturbing and ultimately violent. All of this comes to a shocking climax when these worlds come clashing together for a truly unexpected finale.
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.26(d)|
About the Author
with 11+ years experience in teaching effective writing that "lives" rather than "exists." She also has an extensive theatre background and has written, acted, and directed in many productions throughout her life. She has a great vision for sets and scenes as they should be presented and truly enjoy finding ways to make this happen both in writing and on the stage. Ms. Campisano is a published poet who won the Editor's Choice Award in
2006, and she resides in Sarasota, Florida.
Read an Excerpt
By Caryn Campisano
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2010 Caryn Campisano
All right reserved.
Chapter OneShe tossed and turned as the full moon's brilliant beams illuminated her bedroom. The quaint, Victorian-style room with its four-poster bed topped with a lace canopy and the looming walnut mirror gleaming atop the monstrous chest of drawers were not what was keeping her awake. She was quite content in her cozy, one-bedroom house ... no, it was not her surroundings bathed in the luminescent moonbeams that had her restless tonight ...
Cherie's thoughts tumbled madly around and around in her head as she tried to make sense of the events unfolding before her.
"How could he just disappear?" kept racing through her head, "I just saw him Monday ... where could he have gone?"
Her mind tore through the events of the last few days and still she could make no sense of what was happening now. They had been so happy planning the rest of their lives together ... the wedding, a new home, a new life to lead them happily into forever. There was no sign of anything out of the ordinary in his voice when they spoke several days ago; he was finishing up at his plush corner office high up in the glass tower of a building where his successful brokerage firm operated and heading home for the night. The beautiful diamond solitaire Jack had placed on her finger just over a year ago glistened in the moon-lit room and caught her eye distracting her for a moment before her mind resumed its relentless analysis of the situation at hand. Unconsciously she began to spin it around and around on her finger.
"Where is he?" she pondered restlessly. "He knows how I worry and would never forget to tell me if his plans had changed ... Something is wrong; I can feel it, deep inside, deep in my gut ..."
The phone jingled sharply startling her into action. She dove for it tumbling the crystal lamp on the nightstand to the floor with a loud crash and breathlessly said, "Jack? Is that you?"
An awkward silence followed by a hesitant voice, "No ... no Cherie, it's not Jack. It's Bryan. I was hoping you might have heard from him by now."
Cherie sunk helplessly back onto the bed and with a despairing sigh replied, "No ... not a word ..."
"Well I have been out all day looking for him. I went to his office; he has not been in since Monday. I've gone to all of his usual hang-outs; Guiseppi's Night Club was as bustling as ever but no one has seen him, he hasn't been into Black Tie Affair in over a week, and I even went to a few places he only mentioned once or twice - no one has seen him and there is no sign of him anywhere. His apartment is still dark and the doorman says he has not been home for several days," he informed her.
"Oh Bryan, can't you think of anywhere else your brother may have gone? You know how he is; he mentions something once and everyone is supposed to have it emblazoned in their memory," she paused, "I have been racking and racking my brain for an answer, for something I may have forgotten but I've come up with nothing! Can you think of anything I may be missing?"
Silence followed her plea as Bryan uncomfortably shifted on the other end of the line. Finally he said, "Cherie, I don't know ... I honestly don't ..." He felt terrible as he heard her stifle a cry and clumsily tried to make things better, "It'll be alright Cherie, really. He'll come home; he's got to ..."
Her efforts to conceal her tears on the other end were futile and Bryan helplessly added, "Don't cry, Cherie; I'll keep looking. You stay by the phone in case he calls and between the two of us, we're bound to hear from him soon. I'm going out to look again. I'll talk to you soon ... take care and stay calm; it will be alright, I promise!"
As Cherie hung up the phone, she could not contain the tears any longer and she sobbed until she could not shed one more tear. Exhausted, she fell back into a fitful sleep.
Chapter TwoThe loud chiming of the doorbell startled Cherie into wakefulness. As she scrambled to get to her feet, a loud banging followed on the front door. Anxious to see if it was Jack, Cherie threw herself haplessly into her soft lavender robe, stumbled down the stairway, and threw herself at the front door. Flinging it open wide, Cherie was surprised to see Bryan and a police officer standing on her front stoop.
"No ... No!" Cherie cried as the sight before her registered and her knees buckled.
Bryan reached out and caught her petite, five-foot frame cradling her to his broad defined chest. He guided her to the living room and carefully sat her down on the sofa; the police officer following behind them awkwardly.
"Cherie, we know nothing for sure ... there was a body found last night a block from Jack's place and we are not sure if it was him or not."
Cherie's eyes rolled back into her head as she began to faint and Bryan gently tapped her cheeks saying, "Just listen to what Officer Montgomery has to say, o.k.? Stay with me now - you can do it; just listen to what he has to say ..." Cherie's nodded her head weakly and brought her eyes into focus on the officer before her.
Officer Montgomery cleared his throat uncomfortably and began, "Ma'am, I am sorry to bust in here like this with such awful news but you may be able to help us clear this up. Here is what we know so far: a Caucasian male, approximately 35 years old, wearing a tan pin-striped suit was found dead behind Casini's Italian Deli one block from your fiancé's home. He was of large build, well-toned, has dark-brown hair and hazel eyes. The victim was approximately six feet tall and appears to be physically untouched; there were no signs of assault. Your fiancé's brother came in and reported Jack missing and his basic description matched the one of the victim we found earlier this morning. Do you happen to know if Jack was wearing a tan pin-striped suit yesterday?"
Cherie stared dully at the officer before her; "No ... I don't know," she muttered helplessly, "I did not see Jack yesterday ..."
Officer Montgomery continued, "Do you know if he owned a tan pin-stripe suit?"
Cherie's eyes filled with tears, "Yes ... yes, he did; it was one of his favorites ..." she whispered hesitantly.
"Ma'am, I hate to ask this of you but do you think you could come down to the morgue and see if the man we found is indeed your fiancé?"
Cherie stifled a gasp as she clamped her fist to her mouth and turned pleadingly to Bryan, her eyes beseeching his for answers. Bryan held her and said softly, "You, as his fiancé, are Jack's next-of-kin now that Mom and Dad are gone; do you think you can go? I will go with you if it will make things easier ..."
"Bryan, Bryan!" frantically clutching at his arms she pleaded with him, "Tell me this is not really happening; tell me that Jack will come through that door and make this nightmare go away ... please Bryan; just tell me that!" Her eyes searched his imploringly for the reassurance she so desperately needed.
His silence told her all she needed to know and after staring into his unwavering glance for a minute or so, she let out a deep, quivering sigh and said haltingly, "I - I guess I have to know, one way or the other ..." She pulled herself shakily to her feet and ran a hand through the shoulder-length mass of dark curls she wore. Sighing she shook herself and replied, "Let me throw on some clothes and then we'll get this over with ..." Cherie made her way unsteadily towards the stairs.
Chapter ThreeSitting uncomfortably in the back of the police car, Cherie's thoughts tumbled over and over in her mind sifting through all of the possibilities that could have led her to this point. The more she concentrated, the more she became convinced that this was all just a terrible misunderstanding. "Didn't Jack just send his tan suit to the cleaners? He had it on Monday so why would he still have it on last night, on Thursday? Why would Jack be outside Casini's Deli that late at night? He always took a taxi home and therefore could not have been found a block from home behind the Deli ... and most importantly, Jack was six feet, four inches tall and the officer said that this man was about six foot even." Thus she became more and more convinced that this would all be over soon and her Jack would be holding her close once more before the day was over. "Just a mistake, that's all this was, just a mistake!"
The police car pulled up to the curb in front of the Boston City Morgue. Officer Montgomery silently turned off the car leaving its inhabitants for a moment lost their individual thoughts. After a moment he cleared his throat again breaking the silence and inquired, "Well, are you ready?"
Cherie, feeling more and more confident with each passing moment said, "Yes, let's go and be done with this once and for all!" She sat forward in her seat awaiting the officer's opening of the door, steadily pushed herself from the car, and began striding briskly towards the door of the looming building before her not hesitating or looking back to see if the two men were following missing the uneasy glance that passed between them.
As the threesome entered the building, Officer Montgomery took the lead and led them past the stern-faced, elderly receptionist who glared at them with a withering, disapproving look as they passed down a narrow dark hallway barely lit with cloudy florescent tubing. After working their way through a maze of similar dimly-lit hallways, Officer Montgomery finally came to a stop before a solid steel door marked with the label 'A-3.'
Before entering the officer turned and stated, "This is not a typical viewing room as the body just came in. It is an Autopsy Examination Room in which we will perform the autopsy after the body has been identified. It will have a very sterile, medical look to it. However, don't worry as nothing has been done to the body yet so it will look the same as when it was found. Please do not be afraid to look closely for identification purposes." He paused a moment to let his words sink in and then asked, "So are you sure you're ready?"
Cherie took a deep breath, straightened her shoulders, and nodded in assent.
Officer Montgomery entered a code on the keypad to the left of the door, a click was heard, and he proceeded to push the door open. It swung heavily to the side allowing entrance to a stark, brilliantly-white room, which was an extreme contrast to the poorly-lit path leading to it with a table placed in its center. Medical equipment shined brightly on a second silver table off to the side gleaming sharply under the harsh lighting. Shelves of glass bottles shimmered with their mysterious liquids inside and steel cabinets formed a solid row of sentinels beneath them. Upon the table a white sheet-draped figured lay ominous in its unearthly stillness, and the silent attendant, a slender, tall man with a hunch beginning in his back dressed also in that horribly sterile white hovered off to the left.
In spite of her building confidence on the side of error in the car, Cherie was unable to stop a violent shiver from racing down her spine. She visibly shook it off as Officer Montgomery led her and Bryan to a spot to the right of the draped table. Then he nodded to the waiting attendant who moved seemingly in slow motion towards the table.
"Come on," Cherie thought impatiently to herself, "Come on! Move it, why don't you? This is taking too long ... it is hard enough ... hurry up, you feeble-minded fool!" she pleaded silently within her own mind.
It seemed an eternity before the attendant made it the few feet necessary to reach the other side of the table. Finally the moment was upon them; he reached for the sheet where it covered the head and slowly pulled it aside revealing the face of the unfortunate victim from the unknown events of the night before.
Disbelief spread across Cherie's face as she crumpled to the floor. "It can't be ... it can't be," she mumbled over and over as her eyes took in the sight before her. "Jack, my darling Jack ..." she began as she started to pull herself up to him on the side of the table.
Swiftly, Bryan's strong arms reached down and pulled her away as the officer moved between her and the body of her beloved. Confused, Cherie looked back and forth between them begging, "I just need to hold him ... please let me touch him one more time ... kiss him goodbye ..."
Bryan pulled her to his rugged chest, "Shhh, its o.k." He exchanged a look with Officer Montgomery begging for support.
"I'm so sorry but you cannot touch him, Miss Noble, as the examination for the cause of death has not yet taken place and his body is considered evidence. To do so would make you guilty of tampering with the only real evidence we have in this case and that simply cannot be allowed if we hope to unravel what really happened last night."
Numbly she asked, "When will the body be released to me for burial? How long will this examination take?"
"Unfortunately due to the preliminary toxicology reports we have already run it seems as if a highly infectious toxin is present in the body and so it will have to be cremated immediately after the investigation is concluded."
"No ... he deserves a decent farewell with his family and friends!" Panicked she turned to Bryan and pleaded, "Bryan, do something!"
"I - I can't ... it sounds like a safety issue and you can't argue with that. Jack always said he wanted to be cremated anyways so it really is not that bad," Bryan replied with tears in his dark brown eyes.
"Try to understand, I know this is difficult and I wish there was something I could do but ..." Officer Montgomery let his voice trail off and an uncomfortable silence followed punctured only by the broken sobs emitted from Cherie.
Officer Montgomery finally moved and slowly began to guide Cherie and Bryan towards the door.
Cherie stopped dead in her tracks and whispered, "So this is it? I won't ever get to see his face again? Or hold him or touch him again?"
"I'm sorry, Ma'am, but you need to say your goodbye now ..." Officer Montgomery responded consolingly.
At this, Cherie took one step back towards Jack's body before she broke down completely sobbing as her knees buckled to the floor once more. Bryan looked over her head at Officer Montgomery's face and with an anguished sigh bent his stout, five-foot ten inch frame over and scooped her up into his arms. He then made his way through the door towards the squad car waiting to take them home.
Shaking his head sadly and with a long, final glance at the body before him and at the attendant standing aside, Officer Montgomery grimaced and slowly shook his head, then exited the room to begin the tedious process of filing his report.
Chapter FourAs the attendant found himself once again alone in the autopsy examination room, he moved slowly back over to the body. As he reached for the sheet once more, Jack suddenly sat up, stretched out his arms, and slapping the attendant on the back said, "Good job, old buddy! Couldn't have gone better, do you think? Officer Montgomery played his part to a 'T'!"
"What I think," replied Henry, his gaze drifting towards the door through which Cherie has just past, "is that there must have been some other, less painful way to handle this!"
Jack grimaced sarcastically as he eased himself off of the examination table straightening his tan, pinstriped suit. "No, there was no other way; it had to be done like this ... it had to!"
Jack moved over towards the somber-faced attendant, threw his arm over his shoulder and said, "Come on, Henry, cheer up! Now it's time for us to go, too. The hard part is over and the ashes transfer is ready; they should be here any moment with them to give to the crematorium. We need to get out of here before anyone else comes along and catches on ..."
Chapter FiveBryan closed the bedroom door quietly behind him as he moved away from Cherie who was finally tucked safely away in her own bed. She had cried herself into an exhausted sleep and he knew that she would not awaken until the next morning.
Securing the house, he began to aimlessly walk down the street his mind reeling over the events of the past twenty-four hours. When he finally came to a stop, he glanced around and realized he was at Jack's apartment building.
Excerpted from DIAMOND DUST by Caryn Campisano Copyright © 2010 by Caryn Campisano. Excerpted by permission.
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