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First Page: One Shade of Black Romantic Suspense

First Page: One Shade of Black Romantic Suspense

Welcome to First Page Saturday. Individual authors anonymously send a first page read and critiqued by the Dear Author community of authors, readers and industry others. Anyone is welcome to comment. You may comment anonymously. You can submit your own First Page using this form.

The whole world changed on a Wednesday. Unfortunately, nobody knew it but me.

You see, that was the day I watched myself die. Then again, that was only the trigger for something larger. Much larger. Something big enough to bankrupt companies hundreds of years old, topple governments, and threaten the very idea of what it meant to be human.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Maybe it’s best if I started at the beginning so you can understand why I did what I did. Why I had no other choice.

That day started out like any other.

I woke up beside my husband to see him watching me in the faint light of the morning.

He smiled as soon as my eyes fluttered open.

“Morning sleepyhead,” he said as he pushed some stray hairs to one side of my face.

I smiled back up at him.

He leaned down and kissed me tenderly.

I welcomed the love and wrapped my arms around his neck, keeping him close. After nearly three years of marriage, there was still that spark that reminded me of why I fell in love with him. It was because he fell in love with me first.

His cell phone buzzed on the nightstand, its vibrating hum echoing in the hollow wood.

“Ugh,” he complained.

“Leave it,” I whispered.

He pulled away grudgingly.

“I can’t.”

“Just this once,” I said as I batted my eyes at him.

He gave me a quick peck on the lips and rolled away to answer his phone.

“This is Robert.”

He glanced at me and winked.

“No, I’m already in the car. The traffic is heavy. Looks like some construction, so I might be a little late. Okay. Hold the plane. Bye.”

He switched off the phone and gave me a pitiful look.

“No,” I whined as my shoulders dropped.

“Somebody’s gotta pay the bills around here.”

“I could get a part time job.”

He knelt next to me on the bed.

“You already have a full time job.”

I sat up and crossed my arms.

“I can do both.”

He rested a hand on my shoulder.

“I want you to get better. I want you to remember us, like I remember us.”

“I’m trying.”

He smiled.

“I know you are.”

He stood up quickly.

“I’ve got to get going. Promise me you will make it to the doctor’s on time this week.”

“I promise.”

He cocked his head to one side and smiled playfully.

“Say that one more time. And mean it.”

I sat up straight and held up three fingers together in the Boy Scout salute.

“I promise.”

He smiled and gave me another kiss before he grabbed the handle of the suitcase at the foot of the bed.

“I’ll call you when I’m settled into the hotel.”

“I’ll miss you,” I said.

His smile returned.

“Not as much as I’ll miss you. Now, don’t be late for your appointment.”

“I won’t,” I said, and meant it.

Well, I meant it when I said it.

First Page: Unpublished Manuscript – Women’s Fiction

First Page: Unpublished Manuscript – Women’s Fiction

Welcome to First Page Sunday. Individual authors anonymously send a first page read and critiqued by the Dear Author community of authors, readers and industry others. Anyone is welcome to comment. You may comment anonymously. You can submit your own First Page using this form.

Being alone, Mallory and Dwight Cook claimed a smaller section of bench than necessary at the picnic-style table. Their shoulders kissed while their eyes and ears attended to the swivel television on the counter between the dining and kitchen areas. As usual during dinner, they watched the regional TV news broadcast out of Portland, Maine, thirty minutes north of their small town of Great Wharf. Like a one-celled amoeba, Great Wharf squeezed a pseudopod, or “false foot,” into a portion of the southern Maine coastline between Ogunquit and Kennebunkport.

Five minutes into tonight’s broadcast Mallory said, “Dare we hope? It looks like no new bad news tonight. I mean, just updates on old bad news. How refreshing!”

Dwight murmured his agreement, but Mallory knew he was just biding time until he finished eating. He’d been wanting to say something ever since he got home. But she had hurried him into washing his hands and sitting down to catch the start of the news. She had, as usual, looked forward all day to seeing him. He was her anchor, always had been.

At the first commercial break, Mallory picked up her empty plate and flatware, swiveled, and swung her legs over the bench. She laid the dish and utensils on the counter by the dishwasher. Then she turned and asked,

“Ready for more wine?”

“Not yet, still nursing this one. Why’d you jump from the table so fast?”

“I didn’t jump, just got out normally.”

“Yeah, normal like a scared jackrabbit.”

“What would I have to be afraid of?”

“Mal, you telegraph your emotions in all sorts of ways, not that I’m going to give away my secret store of knowledge. But thirty-six years and three grown kids later, I’ve learned how to read you.”

Mallory harrumphed and refilled her wine glass. Turning to face Dwight again, she waved it slowly in an arc from left to right in front of her. “Did you notice the amazing cleaning job I did on this room today?”

“It always looks clean in here. Sorry. Tell me what you did.”

“I washed under the counter edges, and I dusted everything including the leaves on the fern. I even risked life and limb on the stepladder to dust the overhead light. Little did you know while you were chatting with tourists at the trolley museum that your wife was this close to a fatal fall.” She held her arms out from her sides and swayed (careful not to spill the wine).

Dwight shook his head. “You really need to get out more, Mal. I’m starting to think you’re hiding out in here, like someone in the witness protection program. Or an actual hermit.” He chanced a grin over his nearly empty plate, but a question hung in the air. Mallory gave him a lopsided smile.

So, he had raised the subject after all. She didn’t want this conversation. She grabbed the sponge and swiped it across the sparkling counter.

“Sorry, babe.” Dwight backed off. “I didn’t mean to stick a label on you. I’m just concerned.”

“Tell you what, I promise to do something out of the ordinary tomorrow.”

“Outside the house and away from the yard?”

“I promise.”