Pocket Star-E Nights: Apprehended, Jan Burke

All summer long we’re featuring great e-books at great prices as part of our “Pocket Star-E Nights” program! With the help of some amazing blog partners (our “Shooting Stars“), we’re sharing some deliciously decadent excerpts of these terrific novels. If you like what you’re reading, you can purchase the book via the buy links just below this post.

The following excerpt is from bestselling mystery author Jan Burke; “Apprehended” is one of six story collections from this master of suspense–don’t miss excerpts from “Tried” and “Convicted” this week as well. And the best part? Each of them is available for only $1.99!  Some of the stories in each collection are from her most recent book, EIGHTEEN, but these excerpts are all from the brand-new, never-before-published stories she wrote for this digital-first release. 

 Happy reading…

from “Apprehended”

“I’m sure it is. So you were thinking about Andrew Carnegie and Cassie Chadwick—”

“Yes. And I took a gamble. Bought some clothes and a bus ticket and went west. I just couldn’t be happy in Cleveland, living with Aunt Lou, hearing about this beautiful place from a neighbor girl who had no sense at all. There are some nice men in Cleveland, but I had too many bad memories associated with it, and going back to our small town—well, let’s just say that wasn’t an option. I couldn’t stand being under the microscope as John Vynes’s widow, with his mama harping on how it was my fault he’d been killed—which is just nonsense and the meanest lie, because I did not want him to go off to war! How we argued—” She halted, tears welling up in her eyes. She quickly brushed them away.

“So I applied to the college and got accepted,” she went on, forcing a smile. “You know the rest.”

“Not exactly. What the hell did you expect would happen when Langworthy returned?”

“I hoped for two things. I hoped that by then I’d have met some nice college guy who would marry me. The other was I’d get a chance to pay Eldon back a little. He’s the only person to whom I ever told that story about Mr. Langworthy. No one else has asked me directly if I am his daughter. If they had, I was going to deny it, and swear to high heaven that I didn’t have any seven thousand dollars, and that he made it all up.”

I shook my head. “He’s a jerk, and he gossips, but he’s not known for outright lying about his stories. People would probably be more likely to believe him than you.”

“Yes, I figured that out. I also figured a few other things out, but . . .” She swallowed hard, took a halting breath and said, “Anyway, I was hoping Mr. Langworthy’s staff would back me up.”

“What actually went on inside the Langworthy residence that day?”

“Oh, nothing, really. I asked to speak to the person my neighbor reported to, and told her that she thought the world of the Langworthy staff and had asked me to stop by and wish them well. Naturally, they asked about her and how she was doing, andeven said that Mr. Langworthy regretted firing her. Guess it has cost him some sleepless nights. They asked me to contact her to see if she’d come back, and I did, but she said she’s happier where she is.”

“You know what, I don’t give a damn about any of that. I don’t even give a shit about all those stupid male gold diggers who were trying to get into your panties over the last few weeks. There are only two people I’m really concerned about here. God knows how Mr. Langworthy is going to react when he learns what’s happened to his reputation. So that’s one. But—”

“Mark,” she said, looking forlorn. “I know you have no reason to believe a word I say, but it’s breaking my heart twice. I can’t stand hurting him, but I’ve realized for some time now that I made a bigger trap for myself than the one I built for Eldon. I hated hurting Mark.” This time, the tears flowed unchecked.

I ignored them—her use of the past tense was another matter. “What the hell have you done now?”

She looked surprised at my anger. “Didn’t he tell you? I thought you’d be the first person he called. I gave his ring back to him. I couldn’t live with myself if we married, knowing I’d tricked him into it.”

“So what’s the plan now, Mrs. Chadwick?”

“Don’t call me that!”

“What’s the plan? Do you go back to Ohio with your tail between your legs? Join a nunnery? Marry someone you don’t love in some act of martyrdom?”

She looked stunned. “I thought—I thought you’d understand.”

“Here’s an alternative you may not have considered: tell Mark the truth.”

“I have thought of that. Of course I have. But how could he ever trust me again?”

“If you ask me, whatever time and effort you spend earning that trust is bound to be a better penance than hurting him for the sake of your fear and guilt.”

She looked down at the tablecloth again. Her hands were shaking, but she said, “I’ll do it.”

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