I Love to Write!
Her Silent Shadow— Thirteen never before published gripping psychological suspense stories written by Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Amazon bestsellers. This anthology will transport you into different worlds of intrigue and suspense. With danger at every corner stalking, calculating waiting…
Several residents stepped into the elevator behind Tori. From their conversation, she learned the doorman was a temporary employee, filling in for the evening doorman during his vacation.
After bolting Brandon’s door behind her and punching her code into the security system, Tori’s cell phone rang. She lifted it and saw the name of her best friend since elementary school. “Hi, Mandy.”
“Just checking to make sure you got home okay.”
“No problems,” Tori said as her eyes dropped to the envelope in her purse.
“I still think you should consider Keith’s offer and stay in his guest house until you can move back into your home.”
Tori sank down on the couch. “It seems like he’s trying to rush our relationship. We’ve only been dating a little over a month. It’s way too early to even think about that. According to what he’s told me about the guest house, it’s less than fifty feet from the main house. He’d probably be popping in and out all the time. Here, I have my privacy.”
“Yeah? With someone calling Brandon’s phone late at night and breathing heavily over the line? On top of that, you sense you’re being watched every time you leave his building.”
“Well, I’ve unplugged his landline. That problem’s been solved. And I feel safe once I enter the building.”
“But Tori, isn’t it a little awkward living in your ex-husband’s place?”
“He’ll be working in England for five months. We’re still good friends.” She chuckled. “I already told you he had a case of my favorite wine sent to his apartment. How many ex-husbands would do that?”
“An ex-husband who wants his wife back.”
“That’s not going to happen.”
“I wish we had two guest bedrooms so you could stay with us.”
Tori laughed. “Not with your mother-in-law in one of those bedrooms. I’ve met her too many times.”
“Mrs. Global Gossip Monger can be annoying, but she’s not here yet. Maybe you could stay until she arrives.”
“Do you know when she’s coming?”
“Can’t get an exact date from her as usual. It could be next week or the week after. She just said ‘soon’ which signaled me to refill my Valium. C’mon over. Please.”
“Mandy, I don’t want to move back and forth. I’ll stay put for the time being.”
“Okay. I gotta get Rylee ready for bed now. We still on for lunch tomorrow?”
“Yes. I’ll meet you at the Wolf House at one.”
After Tori changed into a pair of sweats and a t-shirt, she took the envelope out of her purse and opened it. As she expected—an invitation. A Mr. Wesley Crane was having an open house on Friday evening to celebrate moving into his newly built house, designed by Brandon Burgess, her ex-husband. The invitation is addressed to me. How did Wesley Crane know I was staying at Brandon’s place? And why would he invite the ex-wife of the architect to the celebration?
Curious about Crane, Tori pulled out her laptop and Googled him. Several Wesley Cranes appeared in the Boston area. Knowing all of Brandon’s clients were well-heeled, one stood out—a law firm partner. His picture was prominently displayed on the law firm’s website. He was a dignified-looking man who appeared to be in his early forties. Wondering if he was a married man, she flipped to a few other sites where the law firm partner was listed. She couldn’t find anything that indicated his marital status. Why did he invite me? Tori decided to attend his shindig and RSVP’d to the number on the invitation.
While she had her computer out, Tori looked to see if Brandon was included in any new postings. He was designing a country home for a member of the royal family. Brandon had been closed-mouthed about who had employed him for the job. That piqued her curiosity. The prior night, she had run across a newspaper article that mentioned Brandon’s name among the guests at a fundraising event to restore an historical church.
A ring from her cell phone interrupted her search. She grabbed it from the table and saw an unknown number, but answered anyway.
“Tori, it’s me,” Brandon said. “This is a friend’s phone. I misplaced mine. I tried to reach you on the landline. It kept ringing. The answering machine never picked up.”
“That’s because I unplugged the phone. I was, or maybe you were, getting a lot of crank calls.”
“Some of my clients prefer reaching me on my landline. It’s important to allow them to leave a message.” The edge in his voice surprised her. “The landline must remain plugged in. You don’t need to answer it. Just let the calls go to the answering machine. I can check it from here.”
“Okay. I’ll plug it back in.” Tori twisted her long auburn hair into a tight bun. “I talked to the contractor this morning. He thought I’d be able to move back in at the end of the month. The house won’t be completely finished, but the upstairs should be.”
“Tori, you don’t need to rush moving back into our house. You can stay at my apartment until all the work is completed.”
Will he ever stop referring to my house as “our” house? Tori heard a woman’s voice in the background, calling Brandon. “It sounds like you’ve got company. Besides the phone problem, was there anything else you wanted to discuss?”
“No. That’s it.”
“Bye, Brandon.” Tori hung up. Even though they had been divorced over a year, it still upset her when she knew Brandon was with another woman. Tori glanced at her watch—8:32 p.m. That meant it was 1:32 a.m. in England, which left no doubt in her mind that whatever relationship he had with the woman didn’t fall in the business category.
Tori had divorced Brandon because of his infidelity, but couldn’t shake the lingering desire she felt for the man who had broken her heart.
Tori went to his landline and plugged it in. The phone rang before she had a chance to turn down the ring volume. She listened to the five rings and then the answering machine clicked on. While she muted the ringer, the sound of a man’s heavy breathing came through the answering machine. She couldn’t imagine any guy calling Brandon and leaving that type of message. Still, Brandon’s security system made Tori feel safe in his apartment. The doorman blocked visitors from getting in the elevator without the approval of a tenant and, when the alarm system was on, the building’s night watchman would be alerted if anyone attempted to open Brandon’s door.
Standing by the floor-to-ceiling windows, she admired the view of Boston Harbor and the city skyline. With seventeen floors below her, she figured the chances of any unwelcome visitors entering through the balcony doors was slim at best. But should the unthinkable happen, the glaring alarm would warn her and, at the same time, Brandon’s security company.
She decided to call it an early evening, grabbed her novel, and headed to the guest bedroom. Brandon had told her she could stay in his bedroom, but she wanted to distance herself from him. Sharing a bedroom with him again, even if they were on opposite sides of the Atlantic, seemed too intimate.
Tori ambled toward the entrance to Brandon’s apartment building. A teenager in a red hoodie caught her eye as he edged through the crowded sidewalk from the opposite direction. He stopped, handed an envelope to the doorman and hurried away.
When she reached the doorman, she didn’t recognize him, but he addressed her by name. “Mrs. Burgess, this was just dropped off for you.”
As he gave her the envelope, a spasm of panic welled up in Tori that immediately dissipated when she saw another couple approaching the door.
“Thank you.” Tori eyed the tall, dark-haired doorman before glancing at the square envelope embossed with her name. Guessing it was an invitation, Tori dropped it in her purse.
While she waited for the elevator, she noticed the unfamiliar doorman greeting other residents by their names and wondered how he knew hers since she had only been staying there a week and had never seen him before.
Her Silent Shadow
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