From the New York Times bestselling suspense author Jan Burke comes a brand-new e-short story with the added bonus of three short stories from the Eighteen anthology.
Apprehended is a mini-anthology containing a brand new short story from Jan Burke: "The Unacknowledged," which features the fan-favorite investigative reporter Irene Kelly, back in her journalism school days. Also included are three short stories from the previously published Eighteen: "Why Tonight," "A Fine Set of Teeth," and "A Man of My Stature."
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I made sure we were alone. That was actually the hardest part. After realizing that no restaurant in the city would be free of people who might know Donna, I ended up inviting her over for dinner on a night when I knew Lydia had an evening class. Until two months earlier, Lydia and I had shared the place with another roommate, but she had married over the summer. We had been putting off finding another renter, but tonight I was glad for the lack of a potential eavesdropper, enjoying the emptiness and quiet that usually had me thinking that I was going to have to move back home again.
Donna and I made small talk until after I cleared the dishes. She seemed a little down. All the same, she was an easy person to talk to. I was fighting some very cynical thinking about that as I pulled out some photocopies I had made.
I had thought of going all Perry Mason on her ass, cross-examining her until she wept and admitted her crimes. I couldn’t do it. The truth is, I liked her.
“I had a special assignment given to me this week,” I said. “Do you know who Jack Corrigan is?”
She shook her head. My tone must have hardened, or my look, or—somehow I tipped her off that the nature of our little dinner party was about to change.
“Well, I suppose that doesn’t matter. I have a feeling that you do know who Cassie Chadwick was.”
She, who blushed so easily, turned pale. She looked at me with such desperation that, for a full minute, I wasn’t sure if she was going to cry, run away, or punch me. But she just nodded yes and looked down at her hands.
“If she hadn’t harmed so many people,” I said, “I could almost admire her cunning, not to mention her nerve. After running a number of other scams, she marries a naive doctor from Cleveland, just happens to convince him that they should visit New York at the same time a man from home is there—a man who is a high-society gossip in Cleveland. She asks that man to give her a carriage ride, and has him wait for her outside the home of Andrew Carnegie, a wealthy, confirmed bachelor. She goes into the house, comes out thirty minutes later, and—this part really interested me—trips as she’s getting into the carriage. Drops a promissory note for two million dollars—a note that appears to be signed by Andrew Carnegie, whom she blushingly claims is her father.”
She stayed silent.
“Too bad promissory notes aren’t what they used to be. Planning to borrow millions based on phony documents, and cause a bank or two to fail?”
“I didn’t think so.” I let the silence stretch for a time, then said, “Who told you about Cassie Chadwick?”
“Aunt Lou, my great aunt. She grew up hearing stories about her. Aunt Lou claimed to ‘admire her brass’ as she put it. Aunt Lou doesn’t think women ever get a fair shake in this world.”
“Is Donna Vynes your real name?”
“My married name, yes.” She was tracing patterns on the tablecloth with one of her perfect fingers, still not making eye contact.
“So you’re really a war widow?”
The finger stopped moving. She looked up at me. “Oh yes. And my mother is dead. John, my husband, sent home all of his pay—a little over a hundred and fifty dollars a month at first. It was up to about four hundred when he was killed. Just about everything he saved for us got spent on my mother’s medical needs. But John also bought some life insurance through the service. So I had ten thousand from that.”
“That’s where the seven thousand comes from?”
“Yes.” She sighed. “There was this neighbor of Aunt Lou’s in Cleveland. Her daughter was about my age. Despite all my other faults, I’m not like Eldon, so I won’t name her, if you don’t mind. Anyway, at the end of last semester, she dropped out of school here. Looking back on it now, I think she was just really homesick.
“But what she told me was . . . well, once we got to know each other, she said the reason she left was because Eldon Naff slept with her and then told the world about it. She said she had been working as an assistant for Mr. Langworthy, or rather to someone on his staff. She said it was Mr. Langworthy who fired her, mostly based on Eldon’s gossip. I don’t know if that’s true, but I learned a lot about Mr. Langworthy from her. Including the fact that in early September, he was going on a Mediterranean cruise.
“And I couldn’t help thinking about Mr. Carnegie and Mrs. Chadwick. Especially because I never knew my dad. My mother always said my father died while she was pregnant with me, but I think she was lying. Aunt Lou all but confirmed that my parents weren’t married. So I am illegitimate, just not the child of a rich man.”
After a long silence, she said, “God, I don’t know how you did it, but I’m glad you figured it out. It’s a relief.”
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Jan Burke’s fourteenth book, Disturbance, is the latest entry in the Irene Kelly series and a sequel to Bones, which won the Edgar for Best Novel. Her novels include Flight, Nine, and Bloodlines. She also wrote The Messenger, a supernatural thriller.
Her books have been on the USA Today and NY Times bestseller lists, published internationally, and optioned for film and television. She is also an award-winning short story writer. She has been the GoH at crime fiction conventions. A forensic science advocate, she founded the nonprofit Crime Lab Project. She cohosts “Crime and Science Radio” with D.P. Lyle, M.D.
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