Amelia Cooke

This is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed in this novel either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.
Copyright © Joyce Gibbons   All rights reserved.
Published by JGHawaii Publishing Co., Hawaii, U.S.A.
Hawaii State Reg. I.D. #10477645

Chapter  1

August 24th

Keeping his eyes focused on the television, he held the beer can away and flipped the tab back with his thumbnail, then leaned forward to sip the oozing foam.

The Channel 12 News flashed to a reporter standing at the top of a cliff, pointing toward the edge where the tire marks were imprinted in the soft dirt. The ocean breeze became stronger, the floral print mini-dress whipped around her thighs, accenting the long shapely legs. Sun-streaked, blond hair blew across her coral-tinted lips. She turned her head to keep the hair away from her face, and held her skirt against her thigh with one hand, while speaking into the microphone, explaining how the young lovers had driven the car over the cliff into the ocean below.

He took another sip of beer as he watched intently with a taut smile on his lips. He still seethed at the memory of how she had ruined his life seven years ago, when she accidentally came across the child-porno pictures during the photo shoot for the high school yearbook. She had asked to use the bathroom in the back, and he had forgotten to put away the pictures lying on his work table before her appointment. She reported her observation to the school counselor, and his studio was raided by the police, followed by a swarm of reporters. He couldn't show his face anywhere without being recognized.

He was sentenced for the pornography, but due to lack of evidence, he was spared a murder conviction of four boys he had photographed. Their bodies had been found buried in a shallow grave in the woods.

When finally released on parole, he was trimmer, having lost the flab. He switched to contact lenses and dyed his hair, giving him a younger appearance. Then, with a new identity and new location, he began to rebuild his life.

He had waited a long time to get his revenge. Over the years he dreamed and planned an elaborate scheme to take care of her along with the others. He had a hard time finding her, and when she showed up here, he couldn't believe his luck. Smiling, he took another sip of the ice-cold brew as he thought of how she had not even recognized him. How easy it was going to be. Now all his plans had been completed and he was ready to set them in motion . . . right down to the correct dates. He had called the hotel this afternoon, and confirmed the date of arrival next month of the final one. He had decided Detective Sam Knight should receive the notes. After all . . . he seemed to share the same opinion of this lovely bitch.

He lifted the can in salute to the screen when the camera zoomed in for a close-up of the reporter's face, emphasizing the light tanned complexion, and azure blue eyes, while he listened to her announce, "This is Kelly Daye, reporting from Stoney Point in Quainte."

"Yes, my sweet, all my plans are ready . . . soon you will have . . .  and be . . . the scoop of the year," he chuckled.

Kelly opened the refrigerator door as she glanced over her shoulder at the television set on the kitchen counter. She groaned when she saw how the wind had caught at the skirt of her dress.

"Nice going Kelly, you could have worn something less likely to show everything you own!" she muttered, removing the milk carton from the shelf.

The taped segment of her report this morning had played first on the six o'clock edition, and was now being rebroadcast on the eleven o'clock news. She had missed the six o'clock spot, but heard enough razzing from her co-workers at the station about her skimpy mini-dress. When she had dressed this morning, little did she know she would be on a windy cliff.

This was her fourth month as an on-site reporter, and Kelly still wasn't comfortable in the job. On the very first broadcast she had the misfortune to get entangled in the yellow crime tape, and was mortified to be helped out of the mess by a detective.

When she applied at the television station, she had hoped to be hired as an assistant in the office. During her interview with the personnel supervisor, Tim Blaney, the news director, had interrupted, complaining that his reporter walked off the job over a dispute with the anchorman.

The next day, she was called into the studio and found the director wanted her to replace the reporter. All her denials of knowing anything about being a reporter went unnoticed. Ignoring her protest the director said, "You look good. It'll give the spot a little spark. You'll do fine. Hell, they'll probably tune in just to look at you."

Damn chauvinist. He irritated her the way he leered. A real slime ball, with his oily hair and flashy clothes. She wanted to get hired for her ability, not her looks.

She had been homecoming queen in college, and had offers to become a professional model, but had wanted to use her education for a meaningful career. After graduation, she fell in love and married Rodney Daye, a young attorney. His career came first, while she was expected to devote her time to being the perfect hostess in promoting his success. Having children, he told her, could wait until after he was established. She should have known better . . . as soon as he achieved that success, his infidelity had started. Now she was a divorced woman at twenty-five.

It was for the best . . . relocating to this new resort town on the west coast and getting away from all the memories. She had purchased this nice old wood-framed house on Coconut Drive, one block from the beach, and was pleased that the value of the house had almost doubled in such a short time. Two luxury hotels had been built within the last three years, bringing tourists and hundreds of job-seekers flocking here. Now the quiet town had developed into a sprawling little city, with a shopping mall, professional buildings, a renovated Civic Center, and housing for all the newly hired employees. It was worth the hour's drive to her job in the nearby city of Braxton, just to live in this seaside community. Kelly loved to jog on the beach and swim early in the morning, before the tourists from the hotels crowded the beach to work on their suntans.

Sitting at the counter bar, Kelly poured the milk into a glass, kicked off her shoes, and critically watched her image on the screen.

*    *    *    *

[Chapter 2]       [Back]        [Menu]