In Jennifer Wilde’s chilling tale of romantic suspense, a woman plunges into mortal danger when she investigates a brutal murder—and uncovers the truth about her own mysterious past
Life is looking up for newspaper editor Lynn Morgan. She just got her first book contract and is seeing a terrific guy, attorney Lloyd Raymond. But her peace of mind is disrupted when she starts receiving prank phone calls from someone claiming to be her father, who has been dead for close to twenty years.
Then a phone call from her aunt precedes a ghastly murder, and Lynn is drawn to the crime scene, in the village where she grew up. At her aunt’s Devon estate, Lynn meets handsome, rakish Bartholomew Cooper. Why is the son of the town’s most prominent nobleman living in her aunt’s carriage house? The police insist they have identified the murderer and see no connection between the crime and Lynn’s disturbing phone calls. But Lynn senses that the killer is still out there . . . someone whose deadly connection to her past could obliterate her future.
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About the Author
Jennifer Wilde is the pseudonym under which Tom E. Huff (1938–1990) wrote his groundbreaking New York Times–bestselling historical romance novels, including the Marietta Danver Trilogy (Love’s Tender Fury, Love Me, Marietta, and When Love Commands). Huff also wrote classic Gothic romances as Edwina Marlow, Beatrice Parker, Katherine St. Clair, and T. E. Huff. A native of Texas who taught high school English before pursuing a career as a novelist, Huff was honored with a Career Achievement Award from Romantic Times in 1988.
Read an Excerpt
Wherever Lynn Goes
By Jennifer Wilde
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1975 Tom E. Huff
All rights reserved.
The desk drawers were cluttered with five years' accumulation, and it was with great satisfaction that I finished clearing them out. Not a single paper clip remained. Old lipsticks, half-finished short stories, stale chocolate bars, torn and tattered snapshots: All had been disposed of now, and the drawers were beautifully empty, ready for the next aspiring young career girl who was willing to work under horrendous stress for starvation wages. I pulled the cover over the battered old typewriter and took a last look at the office with its flaking plaster walls and dusty gray file cabinets. I hoped my replacement had a sense of humor. She'd need it. She'd also need nerves of steel and Herculean stamina.
Five years is a long time. There should have been tears and sad farewells, nostalgia and a sense of loss. There wasn't. I was elated to be leaving. There would be no more gossipy articles about Lady Cynthia's swank garden parties, no more chatty features about new dress lengths and revolutionary eye make-up, no more interviews with zany eccentrics who raised pet ocelots or planned to swim the Channel at eighty-five. Nor would I be faced with shattering deadlines and rampaging editors with volatile tempers and astounding vocabularies. I was on my own now, and in my purse was a perfectly lovely contract and an even lovelier check signed by Philip Ashton-Croft himself. The Sunday Supplement would have to do without me. Someone else could cover the next axe murder from "the woman's point of view."
At twenty-six, Lynn Morgan was retiring from the newspaper world, moving on to bigger and better things at long last. Fleet Street would survive the loss, I thought, smiling to myself. Any bright young thing with a fair education and a way with words could do as well, so long as she didn't take herself too seriously. One needed a sense of proportion. I had known all along that the job was a stopgap, providing bread and butter—the latter in very small quantities. Now I could say good-bye to it all without even the tiniest regret.
It had all come about in quite a remarkable way. History was my first love, and in my spare time I had written a series of articles on the Court of Louis XIV—character studies, really, filled with spicy anecdotes and loving period details. There was absolutely no demand for them, but after dozens of rejection slips they had finally been accepted and published by a totally obscure historical quarterly whose circulation was practically nonexistent. So far as the world was concerned, their publication remained a deep, dark secret, which had made, the message from Philip Ashton-Croft which had arrived three weeks ago all the more startling.
Philip Ashton-Croft was one of the most prestigious publishers in London—frightfully distinguished, formidably intelligent. The books he published were the very last word in scholarship and impeccable taste. He wanted to meet me, the message read, and I went to the interview nervous and on edge. I was astounded to learn that not only had he read the articles, he thought they were "glorious." He felt they could be expanded into a highly readable book, and was offering me a contract forthwith—including a more-than-generous advance upon signing.
That had been three weeks ago. All details had been settled. I had lunched with my new publisher today, and after a staggeringly elaborate meal he had presented me with my copy of the contract and the beautiful check. It's impossible to walk on air, of course, but as I left the restaurant I understood what the expression means. I'd handed in my resignation at the paper immediately after that first interview, and all that remained was clearing out the cluttered, dusty cubbyhole I'd called an office for five years. I made a final check. I was leaving behind the plants I'd nourished so tenderly over the years. Their leafy green strands spread over the walls in dark profusion. My successor would inherit them, just as I had inherited those horrible gray and blue etchings that hung in fake silver frames. Gathering up purse and tote bag, I left the office, closing the door with its frosted pane behind me. MISS LYNN MORGAN in bold black letters would be scratched away within the hour, I suspected.
Typewriters were clattering loudly in the vast main newsroom. Voices rose and fell, shrill, excited, angry, morose. Clerks dashed around waving reams of copy, fetching scissors, paste, cups of coffee, and from the distance came the ominous rumble of the presses. The chaos was perpetual, confusion constant, with only an occasional lull after the last story had been filed, the last copy read and ready to go to press. There were very few farewells. As feature writer for the Sunday Supplement, I had had little to do with the daily paper. Though I had been on friendly terms with everyone, I had not been close to the rowdy, boisterous, frantic types that generally inhabit the newspaper world. A few of the secretaries flocked around, gushing appropriately, wishing me well, and in a matter of minutes I was outside. The clamor within was mild compared to the screech of brakes, the blast of horns, the shouts of newsboys heaving fresh bundles of newsprint off the curb and into the backs of vans.
I went to my bank immediately, deposited the check, and withdrew a tidy sum, stuffing the bills into my purse with pure elation. I'd never had so much money before, and I thoroughly intended to splurge today. There would be an absolute orgy of shopping: books I couldn't afford before, new shoes and dresses, that gorgeous black number Mandy had eyed so longingly in the window of one of the boutiques. For the next three hours I was in heaven. I was much too realistic to believe in fairy tales, had worked too long and struggled too hard, losing all the standard illusions along the way, but today I felt exactly like Cinderella on her way to the ball. Gloriously exhausted, surrounded by parcels, I had tea in the restaurant of one of the department stores and thought about my incredible good fortune.
I'd done rather well for myself, I decided. I had been on my own for such a long time. My mother died when I was five, and Daddy and I went to live with Aunt Daphne in her big, rambling house in Devon, a preposterous Victorian mansion completely surrounded by dense woods. Shortly thereafter, Bill Morgan departed for Australia, leaving me with Daphne, a testy, eccentric old spinster with a great fondness for gin, lawsuits, blood sports, and vociferous quarrels with servants, neighbors, local authorities, and anyone else who happened to come within range. Although Daddy sent a letter once a month, I never saw him again, and when I was thirteen we received word of his death. I was immediately packed off to boarding school, heartbroken at my loss but secretly glad to be getting away from my colorful but decidedly unlovable aunt. I had seen the cantankerous old lady only a few times since, enduring each occasion with remarkable patience. For all purposes, I had been on my own since I was thirteen years old, and I had come a long way.
The waitress brought more tea and a platter of tiny frosted cakes. I smiled at her, intending to leave a generous tip. I'd worked as a waitress myself in the old days, before the position with the Supplement, and I knew the grueling hours and strenuous work involved. I remembered that crowded, noisy tea shop, popular with plump matrons and brawling children. That's where I had met Mandy, who worked there too. Soon we were rooming together, the struggling actress and the aspiring author. We had gone through some rough times together and were closer than sisters, our life styles complementary instead of clashing. Mandy was going to be elated when I told her about the book, for I hadn't mentioned it to her, wanting to be certain of the contract before springing the news.
I hadn't even told Lloyd.
I smiled again, thinking of Lloyd Raymond. If I was Cinderella, Lloyd was definitely Prince Charming. I had met him three months earlier, at the opening-night party for one of Mandy's plays. The play was an unmitigated disaster, but the party was riotous, a merry wake with champagne in profusion, dozens and dozens of people crowded on stage, laughing, drinking, making new connections. Mandy was surrounded by a bevy of males, as always, and I was left alone. I detest noisy crowds, and this had to be the noisiest crowd on record, so after a while I slipped out into the back alley, standing on the rusty fire escape, thankful for the solitude and fresh night air. I'd been there for only a minute or so when the door opened behind me and Lloyd stepped out, looking as relieved as I had felt.
He was a lawyer, I discovered, connected with a very prominent firm, and had been dragged to the party against his will. He was thirty years old and six foot two, dressed in a silky black suit that fit his athletic body to perfection. He had clean-cut, virile features, dark brown eyes, and brick-red hair clipped unfashionably short. His heavy black-rimmed glasses only emphasized his stern, manly good looks. His manner was grave and polite, and he spoke in a beautifully modulated voice. Quiet, reserved, he nevertheless radiated strength and vitality. One had the impression of great energy carefully channeled, of force under tight control. We talked for two hours there on the flimsy iron fire escape, and then he took me to an all-night restaurant. Later, when he drove me home, we sat in his car for another two hours, talking, watching the sky lighten from black to gray to a misty violet. After years of trying to match me up with one or another of her scores of admirers, Mandy was delighted that I had finally found one of my own. "And such a beautiful specimen," she added, in her blithe, carefree manner.
Lloyd and I had been seeing each other three or four times a week ever since. He was wonderful to be with—thoughtful and considerate, perhaps a bit too stern and reserved, yet wonderful just the same. If he was rather dictatorial at times, that was merely part of his nature, the strong, silent male. Although he was only four years my senior, he seemed much older, and when I was with him I felt very secure. I was very fond of Lloyd Raymond, very fond indeed, but I was too inexperienced to know if that feeling was love. I wondered what my answer would be when he asked me to marry him, for I knew it was only a matter of time until that question came up. Lloyd had some rather old-fashioned ideas about a woman's place, a man's role, and I wondered if I would be willing to give up my independence.
Gathering up my parcels and placing a large tip on the table, I left the tea room, excitement still like a heady wine, wonderfully inebriating. An enormous red bus rattled past outside, discharging noxious fumes. The din of rush-hour traffic was deafening. Taxi horns blared loudly. Tires squealed at the intersection. An irate driver leaned out the window of his Bentley to shout an obscenity at a long-haired youth who zoomed past on a motorcycle. Shops and stores disgorged crowds of flushed, irritable clerks and secretaries who stampeded for the nearest Underground entrance. I might feel madly reckless, but not enough so to throw away money on a taxi, and at this hour the buses would be better suited for sardines than people. I decided to walk. Smiling, filled with a sense of well-being, I turned a corner and, a short while later, found myself in the peaceful little cul-de-sac where weathered, ancient fiats overlooked a tiny square with leafy green trees behind a wrought-iron fence. The building where Mandy and I lived was the most dilapidated of the lot, tall and narrow, painted a dingy blue, crowded between a dusty brownstone and a Victorian relic that looked like a soot-stained marble wedding cake.
I was relieved to find Mrs. Wellington temporarily away from her post. Once she caught you in the foyer she was good for thirty minutes, rattling away interminably about her health, her cats, the state of the nation and the scandalous cost of pork. Mrs. Wellington, our landlady, was a plump, fussy, insatiably curious old dear given to horoscopes, scandal magazines, and other people's business. Her flat was on the ground floor, the door always open so she could see anyone who stepped into the building, and little escaped her eagle eye. She frequently informed Mandy that she ran a respectable house and refused to tolerate all these men trooping up and down the stairs at all hours, but in truth she tolerated everything but unpaid rent. As Mandy and I always paid promptly, we could have entertained gypsies all night without risking anything more than a severe tongue-lashing. Mrs. W. adored us, said we gave the place "class." That was hardly a compliment, considering some of the other tenants.
Mrs. Wellington was so cheap she could hardly draw breath without being tipped for it, and she certainly didn't intend to waste good money on electricity before nightfall. The stairs were dark, and the place reeked of corned beef and cabbage and stale beer. We lived on the top floor, and by the time I reached our landing I was genuinely exhausted. Shifting the parcels, I took out my key and opened the door. I dropped the parcels on the living-room table and sighed with relief.
We occupied the entire top floor, and the flat was large and roomy, perfect for Mandy's parties. It was furnished with wildly mismatched furniture, littered with books and magazines and various feminine paraphernalia, and, always, dusty, as neither Mandy nor I was domestic. The wallpaper was hideous, faded green roses against a faded blue background, and the dismal gray carpet was threadbare. There was a constant draft from a window that refused to shut, the kitchen was gloomy, with dark brown linoleum and shockingly outdated appliances, the bathroom plumbing was madly unpredictable, but the place was homey and, best of all, quite inexpensive.
"Lynn?" Mandy called from her bedroom.
"You home already?"
"I've been home for hours, pet. I need a six-letter word for mysterious. Four down is prey. That makes the second letter r."
"Arcane?" I suggested.
"A, r, c—that's it! You're a wonder, luv. There! I'm finished with the silly thing. I don't know why I bother."
If Mandy wasn't experimenting with cosmetics or trying on clothes, she was reading or doing crossword puzzles. The closet shelves were piled high with hundreds of thrillers. I had received free review copies at the office and brought them to her by the dozen. Mandy devoured them with relish. She had once gone with a handsome inspector from Scotland Yard, and crime had fascinated her ever since—the bloodier the better.
"What about the play?" I called, slipping out of my shoes and moving over to the mirror to brush back a wave of long, glossy brown hair. "Did you get the part?"
"The afternoon was sheer disaster, luv. The producer, I use the word loosely, wanted ... well, he took me out for a nice cozy drink and suggested a nice cozy arrangement. Poor man, he looked rather silly sitting there with Scotch dripping all over his bald head ..."
Mandy stepped into the room, smiling a wry smile.
"You threw your drink at him?"
"The waiter was scandalized. It was a very proper bar. I didn't really want the part, anyway. I'm no good in heavy drama. Light, frothy farce is my thing. If only Noel Coward were still alive ..."
Amanda Hunt was tall and lanky, with enormous brown eyes and dark tawny gold hair that swirled around her shoulders in disorderly locks. Not really beautiful, she had a dry, sophisticated style that was distinctly her own. Men found her fascinating, and with her powerful magnetism and individuality she could have been quite successful had she really tried. Mandy was singularly unambitious—rather lazy, in fact, far more interested in being amused than in having a career. Her chief claim to fame thus far was her appearances on the telly as Maisie the Milkmaid in a series of commercials for Delicious Dairy Milk. Flippant, lighthearted, invariably cheerful, she was also shrewdly intelligent—something few of her merry companions ever suspected.
Excerpted from Wherever Lynn Goes by Jennifer Wilde. Copyright © 1975 Tom E. Huff. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
**I received an ARC of this story in exchange for an honest review** Lynn Morgan was 26, had worked for the Sunday Supplement for 5 years, and was very happy to be leaving. History was Lynn's first love. Phillip Ashton-Croft was one of the most prestigious publishers in London. Books he published were the last word in scholarship and impeccable taste. Lynn had written some articles on the court of Louis XIV and Phillip Ashton-Croft felt they could be expanded into a book. Contact was offered and Lynn had a new publisher. Lynn had met Lloyd three months ago. He was a lawyer. Mandy was her good friend and roommate. The girls had been getting phone calls for two months by someone saying they were Lynn's daddy. Lynn was an old fashioned woman in a lot of ways. She cared about her friend Mandy. She could be stubborn at times. She was a good person. Throughout the story, she tried to show she wasn't frightened even though she was. She was a smart woman and by the end of the story she found her true love in the oddest of ways. I liked the characters, the plot and the story. I really liked the twists and turns. I recommend this book to anyone that likes this genre.
"Well.......yes or no? I dont care witch!" ((I looked up pictures of Dean and the first thing i saw was a guy with black eyes and scars on his face........i havent slept in days.........