Book excerpt

Last Whisper

Carlene Thompson

St. Martin's Press

Chapter One 
Fifteen Years Later
 
1
 
"I can't believe someone is actually thinking of buying this house," Mia Walters said. "How long has it been since we've even shown it?"
 
"You mean shown it to anyone who was interested, not just someone we dragged there on a tour of other houses?" Brooke Yeager shook her head, grinning. "At least six months. Certainly not since you started at Townsend Realty."
 
Mia peered from Brooke's car at the late-summer dusk falling on the South Hills section of Charleston, West Virginia. "I just wish we didn't have to be showing the place at night. I had plans."
 
"A date?"
 
"No. To color my hair. My dark roots are showing," Mia giggled. "And I insist on keeping my hair the same color as yours. Do you realize how lucky you are to have naturally wheat blond hair?"
 
"It's my German and Scandinavian heritage." Brooke paused, forcing herself to say brightly, "Both my parents were blond. They looked like brother and sister."
 
Mia, who knew Brooke's father had died young and her mother had been murdered, clearly didn't know what to say and began fiddling with the CD player. "You're listening to a country music CD? I thought you hated country music."
 
"Patsy Cline is in a class by herself. Besides, I do a rockin' version of 'Walking After Midnight.'"
 
"I've heard you singing at your desk, Brooke," Mia said dryly. "Remind me never to go to a karaoke bar with you."
 
Brooke burst into laughter. Mia was twenty-one and had been with Townsend Realty for only two months. The owner of the firm, Aaron Townsend, had assigned Mia to Brooke for training. The two had hit if off immediately. Brooke knew Mia looked up to her--she'd started dressing like Brooke and even bleached her light brown hair to blond--but Brooke liked the girl for her intelligence and sense of humor, not her blatant admiration. Brooke hoped that in a few more months Mia's confidence would grow and she'd begin to develop her own style.
 
"Aaron really should be showing this house," Brooke said of the boss she barely liked. "After all, it is night. Or it will be when we're trying to tour the place."
 
"That's why he assigned us," Mia said dismally. "He has plans. Real plans, not like coloring his hair. He and one of his snooty girlfriends are probably entertaining other snooty people, or going to the symphony, or eating snails or raw beef at some fancy restaurant."
 
"If I know Aaron, he simply didn't want to waste time showing this lost cause of a house tonight," Brooke returned. "Most likely he's home alone or with his sister watching television and drinking a bottle of those vintage wines he spends a fortune on. I don't think his life is half as glamorous as he tries to make everyone believe."
 
Mia smiled. "That makes me feel better. I hate to think of the rest of the world being out having a good time while I'm--"
 
"Stuck with me?" Brooke interrupted.
 
Copyright © 2006 by Carlene Thompson. All rights reserved. Carlene Thompson is the author of Black for Remembrance, Nowhere to Hide, and Don’t Close Your Eyes, among other books. She attended college at Marshall University and earned her Ph.D. in English from Ohio State University. She taught at the University of Rio Grande before leaving to focus on her writing full-time. Besides writing, she spends her time caring for the many dogs and cats she's adopted. A native West Virginian, she lives with her husband Keith in Point Pleasant, West Virginia.