Marlow/Marco Greenberg was looking for revenge, but what he found nearly drove him mad.
Tyler Dunbar was looking for justice, but what he found gave him a new lease on life.
When Courtney, Marlow/Marco, and Tyler's paths cross, their journey will take them through love, hate, and deception, and the ending will totally surprise you.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.43(d)|
Read an Excerpt
A Journey Into Deception
By Vicki L. Wright
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2010 Vicki L. Wright
All right reserved.
Chapter OneCourtney was awakened by the pounding rain against her window. Her body was wet with perspiration. The satin gown clung to her exposing her firm breast and flat stomach. The bed sheets were bunched up on one side of the bed blocking the clock on the night stand. To see the clock, she had to get up. The red letters glowed 3:30. Streaks of lightening lit up the sky with echo's of thunder following. The rain tapped the window steadily coming down hard and intense. Her mind was in turmoil. It raged equally with the storm. A premonition of doom engulfed her. Fear and uncertainty consumed her.
She was weary and out of breath as if someone had been chasing her, and escaping had been almost impossible, but she did. She remembered the wall wasn't there and someone standing at the foot of her bed.
"It was a bad dream," she said aloud. "How could someone be chasing me if I am at home in my own bed?"
Courtney walked around the bed and went into the bathroom. It was her intention to wash her face, but when she looked into the mirror, she was startled by the reflection staring back at her. The eerie silence was broken by the humming of the air-condition unit. Sucking in the stale air, she held her breath while touching her face with the tips of her fingers. Looking over her shoulder was her first reaction to make sure no one was in there with her.
"My God, what happened to my face," she said.
This time she touched the mirror with her fingers, and the mirror cracked.
"What the hell is going on," she said.
"Don't you know," her reflection said back to her through broken glass. "He's coming for you, and you won't be able to escape him."
"Who's coming for me?" She asked her reflection.
"Just wait you'll see." Her reflection laughed and faded away.
In the mirror, her face was wrinkled. Large bags were under hollow eyes. It was her face, but it wasn't. The reflection in the mirror had suffered long and brutal hardship. There were painful nights of crying and desperation. The face was cold and hard; the hurt and anger in the eyes sent a chill down her spin. She rubbed her eyes with her fingers, looked into the mirror again, and touched it. Her face and the mirror were back to normal. She backed out of the bathroom still looking for the other person to return, but it was only her reflection staring back at her.
Mystified by what had just happened, she turned off the bathroom light and went to bed. The memory of the dream lingered in the air like a bad smell. By the time she was finally able to sleep, after tossing and turning wildly for the last two hours, dawn was just beyond the horizon.
The loud music erupted in Courtney's ears; she sat straight up in bed and squinted to see the clock. The storm from last night had passed, and the sun came through her window causing her to cover her eyes.
Man, it can't be seven already, she thought, dragging herself out of bed heading for the bathroom. The black and white tile was cold under her bare feet. Hesitating by the mirror, she looked to see if the woman from last night was there.
Maybe it was an image of me later in life. But what could have caused me to be so ugly and since when does a reflection speak back to you? She thought.
She remembered the image as looking almost dead, like a walking skeleton.
"It must have been my imagination. I must be overworked. Maybe I'll take a trip to Jamaica mon," she said in her island girl voice.
Courtney stepped into the shower, running the water as hot as she could stand it, hoping to wash the eerie feeling that remained from the dream.
Still wet from the shower, she wrapped herself in a bath towel and went into the kitchen. It was her intention to fix a cup of coffee, but when she stepped into the room, something was out of place. She noticed the curtain blowing in the breeze. She stood there for a few seconds frozen, fearing that someone had invaded her home. She was afraid to move, afraid to look behind her. Her breathing labored, her heart pounded, she fumbled in the drawer for a knife. Slowly she turned, relieved to find that she was alone.
Courtney searched each room of the house with the knife in her hand. Not sure what she would do if someone were there, she had never killed anyone and didn't think she was capable of it if she had to, but it's hard to say what one will or will not do if backed against a wall.
After a complete search of the whole house, she dressed as quickly as she could with the knife on the nightstand beside the bed. She decided against coffee, not wanting to be in the house any longer than she had to. The dream and the window being up spooked her. After locking the kitchen window, she grabbed her briefcase and keys, and left the house.
Chapter TwoIt was a steamy sultry summer's morning in the middle of August. The hottest month of the year; it was much hotter than Courtney remembered in past years. Last night's storm didn't help the heat at all. If anything, it intensified it. The humidity was stagnant. She started riding with the top down on her mustang convertible, but the heat was agonizing, almost suffocating. It became difficult for her breath. That was probably in her mind.
While merging onto the ramp, easing into the flow of traffic, she raised the top of her convertible and turned on the air. There were overheated cars on the side of the freeway. The angry motorists in high-powered suits waited for tow trucks. They were shedding there suit coats to expose perspiration soaked hundred dollar shirts. Courtney flipped on the radio just in time to here the D. J. say how hot it was, and it would only get hotter here on humph day. She realized that the D. J.'s comments were a useless bit of information.
Cruising along the Eisenhower, the heat and the traffic annoyed her even more. The cars were moving thirty-five miles an hour in a fifty-five mile speed zone.
"I'll never get to work like this," she said, flipping out her cell phone to call Lou.
"Good morning, Bookshelf, Lou speaking."
"Hey Lou, its Courtney, I'm running a little late. The traffic is a mess on the freeway, and the heat is even worst."
"I know girl. I had a time getting here myself."
"Were you able to open on time?"
"Yea, everything's running smoothly. You have an eleven o'clock appointment with a Mr. Gentry?"
"Oh yea, he has some porcelain dolls he wants us to carry. I didn't forget. I don't know, Lou," she said with a sigh. "We're a small shop kind of a personal close family type place. We have regular customers, and they may not be interested in dolls."
"Didn't he guarantee that they would sell?"
"Yea, he did, but, I just have a peculiar feeling about it, you know. It seems his call came out of nowhere, and he was so mysterious. Well, we'll see what happens. Like I said, he just struck me as mysterious."
"Oh girl, you worry too much. Give him a chance, what do you have to loose?"
"Well, nothing, I guess. You're right, I do worry too much. I'll see you as soon as I can," she said. She clicked the cell phone closed and threw it on the seat next to her. Upon giving the traffic her undivided attention, she realized she was lagging behind and speeded up just a bit to keep up with the flow.
Courtney owned a bookstore in downtown Chicago on the corner of Wabash and Lake called The Bookshelf. As far back as she could remember she had a passion for reading. She would read murder mysteries, romance novels, or science fiction, it didn't matter just what ever she could get her hands on. When the opportunity came for her to open her own business, five years ago, she knew she wanted it to be a bookstore.
Lou's full name is Louise Martin-Gray. She is one of two employees that have been with Courtney from the start. They met by chance on a cold Chicago morning. Lou was going through a bitter divorce with her husband of fifteen years. It seems he didn't want to be married anymore. Pregnant at sixteen, Lou had been forced to marry a man she only thought she loved, by a Bible toting, scripture quoting father who only cared about how things looked.
Three children and fifteen years later, her husband wanted out. She didn't care. She knew long before he actually left that the marriage was over. But, when he did finally go, he left her with no money, no usable skills, and no education. Frightened and alone, she roamed the streets not knowing what to do. The day she met Courtney, she and her three children were down to their last ten dollars, two months behind in the rent, and she was job hunting as she had done many days before.
Lou walked down the streets perfectly dressed. To look at her, one would have never known that she was homeless and hadn't eaten in days. Courtney was coming out of the newly opened store with a stack of papers in her arms when she and Lou bumped into each other.
"I'm sorry," she said bending to help Courtney pick up her papers. "I didn't see you."
Lou's body swayed and she fell against the building.
"Are you all right, Miss?" Courtney asked.
"I'm fine, just a little hungry, and I sure could use a job," Lou said, as they both looked at the help wanted sign in the bookstore window.
There was something about her that made Courtney want to help. That day she gave Lou a job, and a place to live. She and Lou have been the best of friends ever since.
Courtney and Lou were as different as night and day, but they formed a friendship that was strong as steel. Lou had long black hair that hung flowingly down her back. She had the features of a Native American. She wore bright flashy clothes with gouty jewelry. Lou was a petite full figured woman with a big beautiful smile and a heart to match. Courtney had grown to love her like a sister and was very pleased at her decision to hire her.
Courtney, on the other hand, was more reserved. She was twenty-seven and had never been married. Not because she didn't want to, but the right man had not come along yet. Her shoulder length dark brown hair caressed her neck. Her eyes were black as coals, and her skin was golden brown. Her exotic features made it unnecessary for more than a little make-up. She possessed a natural down to earth beauty that made any man look twice when she walked into the room. Working out at the gym twice a week, gave her an athletic well built frame. Courtney did want to get married one day, but the truth was she hadn't had a date in over six months.
Chapter ThreeIt was nearly ten thirty when Courtney pulled into the back parking lot of the Bookshelf. She parked in the first stall that was available and went inside.
"Good morning, Lou, sorry I'm late. Were there any calls?"
"Yea, I just got off the phone with Mr. Gentry; he said he would be late for his eleven o'clock appointment. He said he would be here at eleven forty-five."
As Courtney went to the coffee pot and poured herself a cup of coffee, Jason the delivery man entered the store.
"Hi Courtney, how are you this fine day."
"I'm well, thank-you, Jason. And how are you?"
"I couldn't be better."
"How are the wife and kids?"
"They're great; the kids are growing like weeds."
"I'm glad to hear it. So, how are we looking today?"
"You've got a few empty slots; it won't take long to fill them. I'll be back in a minute," Jason said as he exited the store.
"Lou," Courtney said, with hesitation in her voice. "Do you know anything about dreams?"
"I read somewhere that dreams are your subconscious mind letting you know that something is about to happen. My Grandmother once told me that if you dream about fish, someone close to you is pregnant. Or, if you dream about snakes, then your enemy is after you."
"Lou, I'm serious," Courtney said, looking at Lou as if she had two heads.
"So am I. What's this all about?"
"This morning I woke up about three-thirty, tired and out of breath. I had a dream that was so vivid, if I had not awakened in my bed, I would have sworn it was real. I dreamed I was being chased by a man that didn't have a face. I guess it was a man. It had a masculine build, so I assumed it was a man. It backed me against the wall, and as I stood with my back against the wall thinking I was done for, the wall melted away. I started to run. I fell into a mud puddle, and the rain was burning my skin. When I awoke from the dream, I was out of breath, and my clothes were soaking wet. If I didn't know better, I would have thought I had actually been out in the rain."
"What did you eat last night?"
"That's not all. When I went into the bathroom to wash my face, my reflection was of an old woman. It looked liked me, but it wasn't me."
"What did you say you ate last night?"
"I didn't, but if you must know. I ate something light. You want to know the worst part of all? When I went into the kitchen this morning, the window was up."
"Do you think you left it up?"
"I don't remember. But why would I let it up with the central air on?"
As Courtney finished recapping her dream, Jason reentered the store with a new supply of magazines. Courtney picked up her cup of coffee and went to her office.
"See you in two weeks Jason. We'll talk later, Lou," she said.
"All right, Courtney, you take care." Jason replied.
Courtney tried to get some work done while she waited for Mr. Gentry to arrive, but it was useless. All she could think about was the dream. She didn't tell Lou how frightened she was when she saw the window up. She also omitted the part about the snake. Vowing to get a gun and take karate courses, she started to feel a little better.
Jason finished his work, said good-by to Lou, and exited the store. The city bus stopped on the corner as the squeaking breaks signaled its arrival. Jason got into the van and made a call.
"Yea, its Jason, the Book is on the shelf." He said to the party on the phone and hung up. He cranked up his van and pulled off.
As Jason pulled to the corner, stopping at the red light, a white Cadillac Escalade pulled up into the spot he left vacant. Arriving five minutes before his appointment time, the stranger sat in the SUV the five minutes and waited. He didn't want to appear anxious. He had waited this long, he could wait five more minutes.
Chapter FourThe tiny bell above the entrance of the Bookshelf jingled. The clean cut, well dressed, good looking man walked through the door. He walked in as smooth as silk, confident and upright. The cool breeze accompanied him as if it were tailor made to announce his arrival.
"Hi, my name is Lou, welcome to the Bookshelf, how may I help you," she said, walking from around the counter extending her hand, but knowing full well this fine man was Mr. Gentry.
"Hi, I'm Marlow Gentry, I have an appointment with Ms Cantrell," he said. He kissed the back of her hand causing her to giggle like a school girl.
"I'll let her know you're here."
Lou went to the back of the store and knocked on Courtney's door entering without waiting for an answer.
"Mr. Gentry is here, and girl the man is fine."
"Lou, get a grip and show him in."
"And he smells nice too," she whispered as she slipped out the door.
Lou went back to the front of the store and motioned for Mr. Gentry to follow her to the back office. A slight tap on the door and Marlow Gentry entered Courtney's office and her life cool and self-assured. When Courtney first laid eyes on him, the sight of him nearly knocked her off her feet. Her palms got sweaty and her head started spinning. Her heart pounded so hard she thought it would jump out of her chest. The stale air she sucked into her lungs made her chest hurt. It had the smell of expensive cologne mingle with a slight hint of cigarette smoke. Beads of sweat rolled down her forehead. She needed to sit down. Lou rushed around the desk to catch her before she fell.
"Courtney, are you all right?"
"Yea, I'm fine, Lou, I just need some water." Lou went to the water cooler and brought Courtney a cup of water.
"Thank-you, Lou, you can go back up front, I'm okay. Forgive me Mr. Gentry, I don't usually loose my head like that," she said, as she extended her hand.
"Don't apologize, Ms Cantrell, can I call you Courtney?"
"Yes, call me Courtney."
"And you must call me Marlow," he said as he seductively caressed her hand.
Courtney stared at Marlow for a long time before she spoke. Easing her hand out of his, she stared deep into his eyes. For a slight second, she thought there was something familiar in them.
"Mr. Gentry, have we met before? You look so familiar to me."
"No, we haven't, but you must call me Marlow."
"Oh, I'm sorry, Marlow; it's just that, I feel we've met before, like dejavu."
"Maybe we met in another life," he said as he smiled lazily.
"I don't believe I lived in another life."
Excerpted from A Journey Into Deception by Vicki L. Wright Copyright © 2010 by Vicki L. Wright. Excerpted by permission.
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