Perilous Shadows Blurb: (historical romantic thriller, late-1940s)
Pioneer newspaper woman Kiera Devane is on a mission to prove a woman can do a man’s job, as she hunts a young coed’s killer? Ace radio broadcaster Argus Nye lost one love to a murderous fiend and his pulse races as he tries to protect Kiera from herself as much as from this killer.
Kiera was doted upon by loving parent, but they were killed when she was a girl and she was shipped off to live with a socialite aunt who had little time for her. In her aunt’s house, she learned life could be cold and cruel. As a result, she grew up to be an independent and demanding professional woman.
Argus Nye, still bereft from the loss of his first love, can’t understand why this female reporter is mesmerizing him. As she takes chances with her life trying to catch a killer, he’s determined to protect her.
South Shore of Long Island, NY
Late August, 1947, early afternoon
It shouldn’t be this hard to come up with something. Argus Nye sat in his chair and stared blankly through the doorway of his miniscule office into WSAN’s empty hallway. He scratched his head and a sandy brown lock tinged with gray fell into his face. His hunt for a good local news story had come up empty, making him antsy. This wouldn’t do. After all, he had to live up to his rep as the Scottish Scoop Sniffer.
With one swift movement of his legs, he shoved his chair away from the desk and it hit the back wall. The old wooden chair’s wheels squeaked. One day he’d have to bring in a can of oil. The radio station sure wasn’t going to get him a new chair. He stretched, rubbed his eyes, and stood.
He didn’t want to center the broadcast around last night’s auto fatality on the Southern State Parkway. An hour of that would get dry fast, if he could even stretch it to an hour. He could. He’d done it before.
His stomach growled. Might’ve been a good idea to have had more than coffee for breakfast. With a movement practiced over time, he jutted a hip out and his thigh skimmed the corner of his desk. Then he propelled himself through the narrow doorway. The leather bottoms of his wingtips clapped against the linoleum flooring all the way to the tiny kitchenette.
The aroma of fresh coffee enticing him, he marched toward the two-burner stove, where Jim Heaney stood. “Any coffee left?” Last thing he needed.
His boss had one hand on the chipped Formica countertop. The other held a black and white speckled enamel coffee pot. “Argus, you gave me a start. I was lost in thought.” The large man put the pot down on the stove. “Grab a cup and help yourself.” He opened the small refrigerator’s door, and took out a bottle of milk. “Not much left here.”
“Go ahead. I take mine black with a wee drop o’ sugar.” Argus deadpanned and poured, tossed two heaping spoons of sugar into the dark liquid, and stirred.
Jim rolled his eyes. “Yeah, I think I knew that.” The big man paced back and forth and took a swig.
“Something got you down?” Argus sipped, grimaced, and stirred in another spoon of sugar.
“Thanks for asking. I’m not sure I did the right thing bringing that coed from Adelphi Women’s College in for the summer intern position.”
“Clarissa? She’s a perky little lassie.” All pink frilly blouses and swirly skirts. “Now what’s got you thinking it was wrong taking her on?”
“She has these big plans… aspirations of someday writing a gossip column, even having a radio show featuring celebrities with a few society pieces thrown in the mix.”
Lars Kronen, a thin man with a large Adam’s apple and bony hands, walked in, picked up the coffee pot, and shook it. “Empty. This always happens ’cause my farm report’s after most folks’ lunch, so the coffee’s gone. I’ll ask Anna to make another pot.”
Argus took another swallow. “Clarissa’s sure at the right college to make society contacts so she can move into a gossip show.”
Lars banged the pot on the stove. “Women don’t belong in radio.”
Argus took another sip. “When Kiera Devane subbed for me last fall, the lass did a fine professional job. Come to think of it, didn’t she also attend Adelphi College?”
“I hear that Devane woman would stab her grandmother for a story.” Lars grunted, turned on his heel, and left.
“At least Kiera had some credible news experience behind her when she subbed for you. This girl has no such thing, but she’s full of big ideas for herself.” Jim ran his hand over a head of thick graying hair.
Argus laughed. “That’s why Clarrisa’s here in the summer intern position, to get experience. She’ll sharpen pencils, go out for sandwiches, help Anna with little things. What kind of trouble can she get into?”
“I just don’t want her parents blaming me for turning her into a Kiera Devane.”
Argus chuckled. “Little chance of that, laddie. This one’s all fluffy and cute, while by all accounts Kiera’s ferocious and…”
Screams coming from the reception area pierced the air.
“It’s Anna.” Argus ran down the hallway with Jim on his heels.
As they raced past Lars’ office, the farm reporter poked his long face out, Adam’s apple bobbing. “Is that Anna? What’s going on?”
Argus pumped his arms to pick up his pace.
Anna’s body shook as she sobbed. She stood in front of the double-door closet in the front office — palms pressing both sides of her head, fingers tightly clutching her wavy, caramel hued hair. “On the floor. In the closet. My God, no… no.”
A smell Argus couldn’t put his finger on permeated the room. Sweat? Not quite decay. A window fan above the secretary’s desk drove hot air around the room, increasing the stench.
Argus rushed to the distraught secretary, put his arm around her shoulder, and followed her stricken gaze down. “Oh, my word. It’s Clarissa.”
He turned Anna away from the closet and sank down on one knee, feeling beneath the girl’s lush blond hair for the carotid artery. “No pulse. She’s dead.” He stood and shoved his trembling hand into his pants pocket.
Anna batted at errant strands of hair that kept falling into her face, as she choked down wracking sobs. “I went into the closet for paper clips and found Clarissa, lying in a heap on the floor.”
Argus took the secretary by the hands, and led her a few steps away from the closet. He rubbed her back. “There, there.” Those were the best words he could come up with. He dare not try to tell her everything would be all right. Not this time.
Jim closed the closet doors almost all the way. He glanced behind him. “Lars, would you take Anna into my office and stay with her?” It wasn’t a request.
The farm reporter took the secretary by the arm and led her down the hallway. She wept all the way.
Argus crossed the room and tapped Jim on the shoulder. “Try not to touch the doors. They’ll want to take fingerprints. Though my prints are probably there as well.”
Jim shoved both hands into his pockets. “Too late now. Most of us will have prints here. Mine are all over this closet, I’m sure.”
The front door swung open, letting in a ray of bright afternoon light. Paul Gregorski, the sportscaster, removed his white, summer fedora, sauntered in, and came to a stop. “What’s going on?”
Jim turned his large frame toward the new arrival. “Paul, we have a bad situation. Clarissa’s dead. Use the phone in your office and call the police.”
“What? Clarissa, no.” The glazed look in the sportscaster’s eyes reflected shock. He slowly nodded. “I’ll call.” He craned his neck to catch a glimpse of the crumpled body, and then rushed down the hall.
“Argus, I’d like you to wait here with me for the police.” The big man hefted himself on top of the secretary’s desk. His voice shook.
“Aye, that I will. What a tragic turn of events.” Argus sank into an upholstered chair wanting this all to be a bad dream. “Someone has to phone Clarissa’s family.”
Jim nodded. “I’ll do that.”
“Aye, of course.”
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