Next on the free chapter list is the first chapter of my thriller Window Pane. You can find the whole novel at the following links:
https://www.books2read.com/u/mK9BBZ and https://www.amzn.to/1u92UUj
The rain streaked the window pane against the pitch black night. Thunder rumbled far away; it echoed the emptiness she felt within her soul. Where was she? Why did they leave her here? She stared at the image reflected in the window. Who was this strange woman staring back at her? She had no recollection of how she got here, who brought her here or why. The image distorted in the waves of rain running down the window.
The harder she tried to understand what was going on the more frustration swelledwithin her soul. How could the old crone’s reflection in the window be her? She raised her fist to smash the image and stopped in horror. The fist was age speckled and the skin hung loose on the bony fingers. She twirled around to flee this horrible nightmare but her body creaked and groaned in protest. Nothing she saw was familiar. The furniture in the small room was pleasant enough, but held no comfort. The walls were painted in pale beige. The pictures on the walls beckoned to her, yet the people were not identifiable. Where were the matching pair of wingbackchairs she cuddled up in under the soft quilt watching the flames flicker in the fireplace?
She hobbled to the door. Hospital stench bombarded her senses as she pulled the heavy door open. The lights were very dim in the narrow hallway, making it nearly impossible for her to see where she was going. She held her shaky hand out in front of her as she shuffled her feet to keep her footsteps as quiet as she could. If only she could get out of wherever this was, maybe she could findher way home.
She passed door after door, hearing low moans along with whiffs of obnoxious odors coming from behind the doors. She finally reached the end of the hall. It emptied out into a larger corridor that had seven other hallways branching off just like the one where she stood. In the middle of the corridor was a central desk. The only light in the corridor was a dim light from a computer screen sitting on the desk. On the other side of the desk above a double set of doors blinked a neon red exit sign.
She crept towards the doors. The exit sign beckoned to her to hurry as there was not much time for her to escape to freedom. The nearer she came the harder it was to breathe. Her heartbeat started pounding in her ears. Her legs were trembling by the time she arrived at the door. She leaned against the door, closing her eyes. The cool wood felt good to her feverish cheek. She drew a breath deep as she could muster before she tried to stand straight. Tiny shards of colored lights danced in front of her eyes as she grabbed the lever door handle. She shoved it down with all her weight.
She heard a click as the door latch came free. A second later, a loud alarm sounded. She pushed the door as hard as she could, trying to squeeze by the heavy door. Rain splashed against her face as she wedged her body in the small opening.
Heavy footsteps rumbled above the sound of the rain as she felt the door move outward. Just as she freed herself, a firm gentle hand caught her by the arm and pulled her back.
“Hey, what do you think you are doing trying to go out in this rain storm?” The large orderly swept her up in his arms and pulled the door shut. He set her in the wheelchair that was by the desk, and then reached over the desk, shutting off the alarm. He knelt by the chair, placed his mammoth hand over the fragile shoulder. “You know I cannot allow you out this late at night in the midst of a downpour. Let’s get you back in your room and in dry clothes. I may even be able to find a little bit of cocoa to warm you from the chill.” His eyes sparkled with kindness as he gently lifted her feet up on the wheelchair foot rest.
The wheelchair squeaked as the small front wheels wobbled severely. He had a hard time keeping the chair going in a straight line. “Looks like I’m going to have to get the oil can out again.” He gave a sigh as he bumped the door to her room open with his foot and backed into the room. He wheeled her over by the bed then went and got a towel, draping it over her shoulders. He then got a gown out of the dresser, laying it on the bed. “Here is a nice warm gown for you to change into while I finish making my rounds, then I will get you a cup of cocoa.” He lifted her out of the wheel chair and sat her on the bed.
He folded the wheelchair as he gave her a warm smile, then he was gone. She looked down at the gown and then over at the rain streaked window. Even though he was nice, she did not want their cocoa. It always had a bitter after taste. It made her groggy and she could not think straight for hours afterwards. She changed and threw the wet gown in the hamper.
The door across the room opened, admitting a tall, elegant, mature man carrying a covered tray. He smiled at her as he set the tray on the small table. “Figured the storm would wake you, here, sit down. I made you a nice cup of French vanilla mocha cocoa. I even swiped extra marshmallows for us.” He gently guided her to the chaise before sitting beside her, removing the cover, revealing an array of delicious petit fours with two steaming mugs of cocoa. “Thunder always upset you.”
She kept an eye on his every movement as he prepared the mug of cocoa with marshmallows for her. His mannerisms and twinkling gray eyes gave her a small comfort in this sterile environment. The gray hair over his ears added to his charm as the laugh lines crinkled at the edges of his eyes.
He held out the mug toward her. The delicious aroma won her over and she carefully took it wrapping her thin fingers around the mug. Its warmth spread through her fingers up her slender wrists traveling to her heart. There, it slowly wiped away the hollowness and filled her with hope. She watched as he sat back and sipped his cocoa and popped a petit four in his mouth. He closed his eyes as he chewed. A satisfied grin spread across his face.
She sat there, sipping from the mug, as she kept a cautious eye on the man’s movements. There was something strange about how he knew she would like this cocoa. It was as if he could reach into her mind and pull out things prohibited to her. She wanted to throw the mug against the wall and scream questions at him.
He sat up and handed her a petit four before snatching several more and popped them into his cheeks. He looked like a chipmunk gathering nuts for the winter. He turned and tried to smile at her. The chocolate covered teeth and crooked grin broke down her resistance and she gave a small giggle.
He washed the petit four down before joining her in the giggle. “I love to hear you laugh. It lightens your soul and heart when you do.”
She sat the cup and petit four down. “Do I know you? I cannot remember anything any more. I do not know where I am or how I got here. Please help me.” A tear gathered in the corner of her eye.
He set the cup down and reached into his pocket withdrawing a large embroidered monogrammed handkerchief and dried the tear. He handed her the handkerchief as he gently pulled her to her feet and into his embrace. There she felt comfort, peace, and fulfillment.
He caressed her hair as he leaned his chin on the top of her head.