Ten years ago, Daisy left her husband, Bernard, to create a new life for herself. But now as their divorce proceedings continue to drag on and Bernard battles terminal cancer, Daisy determines she would rather be his widow than his ex-wife and decides to play with fate.
After she dons an outlandish large purple hat to disguise her face, Daisy glides through the hospital corridors, hell-bent on poisoning her husband to accelerate his death. When she finally arrives at his door and opens it, she is shocked to see a woman sitting by his bedside. With her plan foiled, Daisy rushes out of the room as she transforms from the hunter into the hunted. Still obsessed with ending Bernard’s life, Daisy retreats into her memories, unaware that a surprise is waiting in the shadows. Now only time will tell if fate will intervene to save Daisy or if she will lose her soul to the dark side, where it can never be retrieved.
In this contemporary thriller, a woman intent on ending her husband’s life is propelled on a journey through her memories that leads her to an unexpected truth.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.37(d)|
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The Lady with the Purple Hat
By Otilia Greco
iUniverseCopyright © 2017 Otilia Greco
All rights reserved.
Without the slightest noise, Daisy turned the handle and slowly opened the door of hospital room 744. A large purple hat covered most of her pale face. She peeked into the patient's room.
Is he still alive? she thought.
Shouldn't he be dead by now?
Daisy wondered how much longer it might take until his last breath finally extinguished his life. He had to die soon.
In her elegant black designer purse, she carried a small perfume bottle filled with poison. Her heart was full of anger, and she was ready to take any risk. This chance had to be taken now.
Their divorce procedure was almost through; it had taken more than ten years. So many things had to be resolved by the perseverant lawyers first.
Some days ago, Daisy bought this large purple hat, purple like the leaves of the mini Japanese red maple tree called bloodgood. Daisy never wore large hats. On the rare occasion she did wear a hat, it would be small and distinguished dark blue or black, never one of such a striking color.
However, today she planned to impress, blur, or shock. She'd selected this large purple hat to attract every observer to it rather than to her face. She chose to simply hide and not be recognized, pretending to be somebody else. She was fully loaded with hate. In fact, she was driven by hate and was prepared to perform like an actress onstage.CHAPTER 2
Daisy was an elegantly dressed woman in her early fifties. She was slim and attractive, with icy-blue eyes, short black hair, and a permanent Mona Lisa smile. Daisy had always been the kind of person asking for lots of attention; everybody around her had to fulfill her desires according to her wishes. She was an extremely demanding woman surrounded by lots of material goods: luxurious jewelry, expensive clothing, shoes that always matched her handbags. She liked to show off constantly and impress everyone in such a way that people immediately saw she was rich and powerful. If Daisy did not get what she wanted, she knew how to put on the pressure; her greed had to be satisfied.
In addition to the divorce proceedings dragging on for years, now her husband had become deathly ill, and she therefore wanted to discontinue the divorce and instead be his widow. Being a widow would position her in a much better lighting society. Her reputation would be more respectable. She also calculated that as his widow, her legal rights would mean inheriting a lot more than she would get from their divorce judgment. Furthermore, her lawyers were still uncertain as to how much money they could force him to pay. She figured that at her husband's funeral, her tears would impress his friends and their neighbors. Everybody would sympathize with her theatrical pain. All these reasons motivated her to buy the purple hat and hatch this crazy plan: Bernard had to die before the divorce was final.
Her first task was finding out how serious his illness was.
She discovered that her husband didn't have long to live. By the judge's ruling, the divorce was scheduled for the end of the next month.
Bernard had to die ... and soon.CHAPTER 3
It was in late spring over ten years ago that Daisy left her husband and found a decent apartment in a typical English redbrick building at the outskirts of the city, in a romantic area near a small creek. However, she was not too happy in that neighborhood. Daisy had the feeling the neighbors checked on her and her doings. Usually Daisy took a walk around her block every morning.
She didn't want anyone to see her driving her car away from the apartment this Tuesday morning, April 7, so she decided to walk for more than twenty minutes along the small creek, then cross several busy roads to reach the hospital where her husband, Bernard, was lying, as she had secretly found out.
After crossing the small wooden bridge, she felt her anticipation grow. She could actually hear her heartbeat and her breathing increase. For a few minutes, she stopped to watch some ducks swim in the creek. Although she was observing the beauty of this quietness, she was unable to enjoy it. Today this idyllic atmosphere rather irritated her. Walking through the heavy morning traffic and crossing several noisy streets with the smell of gasoline enhanced her will to execute her plan at any risk!
A recent special court order determined that Daisy had lost her right for any contact with Bernard. The hospital management enforced this order strictly. However, Daisy was sure she had found a way to bypass the court order today.CHAPTER 4
When she arrived at the hospital entrance, Daisy pulled her large purple hat low down on her face and bent her head slightly downward. Today she was wearing a dark gray business suit with a white blouse and a light gray scarf in order to look formal and businesslike. She was convinced that nobody could recognize her in this outfit. She had to impress the hospital reception by acting like an important business representative, and this disguise might empower her to bypass any screenings.
It was quite early; seven thirty Tuesday morning, far too early for the patients to expect visitors. When Daisy reached the hospital receptionist desk, a woman was busy explaining the daily activity plan to some employees. None of them noticed Daisy passing. Daisy felt relieved not to have to explain her arrival. She quickly continued toward the elevator, ready to enter. Inside the cabin, she pressed the button to the seventh floor. As the elevator gained height, floor by floor, her heart started pounding. Luckily, nobody entered the elevator as it climbed to the seventh floor.
Leaving the elevator, Daisy marked her determination by taking large marching steps along the endless and deserted hallway to reach Bernard's room, number 744.CHAPTER 5
During the last week, she had meticulously plotted every detail of this journey, starting by locating which hospital Bernard was actually in. After several phone calls pretending to be a social adviser, she had found out his room number. She then had to find out the most appropriate timing for her visit and decide how to dress. Her next task was to study how to act if someone asked her the purpose for her visit. Several times she rehearsed in front of her mirror how to act professionally, pretend to be on duty, and check on the nurses' performance.
Daisy was eager to see him die soon.
She had decided this fate for the man she once fell in love with, the man who tried to fulfill all her desires, the man who spoiled her until the day she became greedier and never stopped demanding.CHAPTER 6
Daisy was glad not to meet any nurse along the white hospital hallway loaded with the distinctive hospital odors. Nobody seemed to be around. All the nurses were probably busy washing and medicating their patients. The door of room 722 was open, the red light over the door blinking. Daisy heard the sounds of pots and a trolley of medications being pushed around. She stopped to wait until that door closed before continuing to her destination: room number 744.
She paused in front of hospital room 744, and suddenly an unforeseen possibility crossed Daisy's mind:
What if a nurse is in Bernard's room right now?
For a fraction of a minute, she hesitated to open the door. However, there was no red light blinking. She reasoned that the chance of a nurse being inside Bernard's room was slim. Daisy took a deep breath while preparing her thoughts about how to react if a nurse was inside. She would say,
Depending on the nurse's reaction, Daisy was well aware that this excuse could be risky.
She made a quick check to be sure her hat was in the right position, arranged her gray silk scarf, and gave herself a pep talk. After a deep breath, she carefully placed her ear to the door. Then she silently put both hands on the door handle, pressed it down quietly, and slowly pushed the heavy door open. There was neither a sound nor any movement from inside the room.
Bernard must be asleep, she thought.
The door opened toward the opposite wall of the patient's bed, and all she first saw was a bright white wall with a painting of a black racehorse. Near the wall was a small table holding a yellow tray with a pot of fresh tea and a cup ready to be served to the patient.
Daisy's hand slipped into her purse, checking for the small poison bottle. Checking on Bernard's position, she thought, Damn it! Why does the bed have to be on the opposite side of the door?
This required pushing the door fully open to see the patient. Giving a further push, she was able to peek around the heavy door to check on her husband. Holding the door handle with one hand and the door itself with the other hand, she leaned her head forward to observe the sleeping patient, who she now considered her enemy.
What an immense shock! It hit her like a poisoned arrow.
A woman was sitting quietly next to his bed.
The woman must have watched her the entire time.
Daisy guessed this might be Bernard's girlfriend, who was taking care of him during the night. Whoever this woman was, she could not know who Daisy was under the big purple hat.
Confronted with the unexpected situation, Daisy wanted the woman to think that she'd walked into the wrong patient's room. She immediately stepped back, closing the door and mumbling, "Excuse me. I missed the room."
What should I do now? she asked herself.
This unexpected encounter with the woman sitting next to Bernard's bed paralyzed Daisy. She needed to ponder how to escape unseen out of this hospital.
Near the elevator entrance, two female nurses were discussing a medication for a patient. Fortunately, the two nurses did not spot Daisy standing around the corner. Daisy waited nervously until the nurses disappeared into another patient's room.
The door of room number 744 unexpectedly opened, and the woman who was sitting at Bernard's bed stood in front of her.
Calmly she said in a soft voice, "You must be his wife. You are aware of the court order that determined you are never allowed to visit him in this hospital."
Taken aback, Daisy answered in a frosty voice, "And you must be Bernard's mistress. Am I rig ht?"
With no remark, the soft-voiced woman gently backed inside and closed the door.
No further comment was necessary. Daisy had been caught and needed to exit the hospital before any hospital authorities or nurses could have her arrested. Even worse, they might find the poison in her purse.
Where can I hide the poison? Is there a wastebasket in the elevator? No, I can't dispose of it there. Somebody could find it. I have to escape with it. I hope nobody searches my purse on the way out!
The brief encounter with the woman in Bernard's room dramatically changed Daisy's role from the hunter to the hunted. She needed to flee and disappear quickly.
Her large purple hat, which she had especially purchased for this visit, now suddenly turned into a heavy burden. It was totally useless and a big liability. This moment had reversed the intended function of the purple hat; instead of hiding her face, it betrayed her and now made her vulnerable.
Why on earth did I never consider such a possibility?
Now everybody will see my extravagant large hat.
Is there no way to hide it?
Daisy tried to fold the hat in her hands. Still, everyone might recognize her, and possibly she would be arrested at the reception desk. The hat was far too large to fit into her elegant black leather purse, and she had no other bag to store it away.
There is no choice but to hide it or dispose of it.
In a panic, she folded it as small as possible and tucked it under her left arm.
Daisy knew what the court had clearly decided; she had absolutely no rights to disturb Bernard's privacy. However, driven by her bitter hate, she felt unable to let him die in peace.
She was ready to poison him, no matter what risk she had to take. She was ready to do anything to shorten his last days. After her plan failed, only destiny could help her to see him dead before the divorce was finalized.CHAPTER 7
Daisy was trapped; her immediate concern was how to exit this hospital. Her panic grew every minute because she expected Bernard's mistress might call the reception desk and have her arrested. One thought after another raced through her mind:
Why did the two nurses take so much time before deciding to enter the next patient's room?
What if someone's already in the elevator when I board it?
Why did I not think of such obstacles?
Daisy desperately needed to escape the hospital. She ran toward the elevator just before it took off to the next floor. Fortunately, nobody was inside. Immediately she pressed the button for the ground floor. She was relieved when the elevator's heavy doors closed. Hopefully it would not stop on its way down.
What if I'm arrested at the ground floor and, even worse, my purse is searched?
Daisy was nearing a nervous breakdown. The elevator's mirror reflected her pale face. Was it the face of a criminal?
The seven-floor descent seemed endless. Her heart was beating even louder than it had on her way up.
Once the elevator reached the ground floor, Daisy felt dizzy. She left the elevator staring straight at the main entrance door, not looking right or left, pressing her purse and the purple hat tightly under her left arm.
A young nurse who had clearly noticed her nervous behavior ran toward her, saying, "Do you need help, ma'am?"
Daisy tried to continue her way toward the entrance.
"You are terribly pale, and you're not walking straight. You certainly are not looking well. Would you like me to call the emergency doctor?" the nurse insisted, holding on to her right arm.
"No, thanks. I'm just late and in a terrible rush. Where can I find a taxi?" Daisy nervously answered.
The young nurse shot a puzzled look at Daisy's badly folded purple hat and said, "Wait, I'll lead you to the main entrance. Just around the corner is the taxi stand."
"Thanks, this is very kind of you." Daisy, seeing the nurse staring at her purple hat, continued, "I need to be at a wedding in less than half an hour, and my son held me up at the hospital for so long."
"But at this hour, there's no visiting time here," the confused nurse responded.
"Thanks. Let me run; I cannot be late. My son just wanted to see the gift I bought for his friend's wedding."
Daisy finally made it to the taxi and opened the car door, saying to the driver, "Please drive me as fast as possible downtown near the shopping center."
By this time, Daisy was exhausted, and her heart felt like bursting. Sitting in the car's backseat, she tried to recover from her escapade. She felt like a rabbit chased by ten hunters.
Was I not a hunter myself once?
However, this time I am in line with the front end of a gun ..."
This thought went through her mind repeatedly ...
At the shopping center, Daisy paid the driver and ran off without waiting for her change, going around the corner to find the next cab. She boarded the new taxi and asked the driver to bring her back to her apartment.
Daisy was worn out, angry, frightened, frustrated, and obsessed by her only thought:
Bernard has to die ... and soon.CHAPTER 8
In hospital room 744, Bernard realized that someone had entered his room, but he was unable to identify the person.
Delirious, he muttered, "Was it Daisy?"
Half-conscious, he reviewed his life.
Bernard's intelligence and easygoing character combined with hard work made him successful in pursuing an exceptional career. He was highly respected in his trade. Everyone admired Daisy for being his wife and being able to participate in high society.
One day Bernard found out that Daisy charmed one of his rich business friends who could offer her far more luxury.
Obviously, Daisy was attracted by his wealth rather than by the man's personality.
The moment he had caught her having an affair with his friend, Bernard was terribly hurt that she had lied about being unfaithful. Thereafter, she was the one who filed for their divorce immediately. At this point, Bernard's love for her faded away.
After battling with several lawyers over the past ten years, Bernard's grief ended in a serious illness. His death was foreseen. The divorce was scheduled to be finalized by the end of next month. His last wish was to survive until the day the divorce was declared.
Bernard's and Daisy's lives started so differently.
Excerpted from The Lady with the Purple Hat by Otilia Greco. Copyright © 2017 Otilia Greco. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse.
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