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Old 03-10-2018, 08:42 PM
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Jerry D Young Jerry D Young is offline
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Default JDY Fiction - A Penny For Your Thoughts



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My most recent.

Due to contract obligations, I will have to take this story down in a couple of weeks. I cannot have a story up anywhere in direct competition with the Kindle and print versions. But as it is a draft, I can put it up for a short time.

Since it is pretty long, I had to do an attachment, otherwise it would have been nearly twenty posts.

And just as an FYI:
I will be taking down some of the other stories here, as several more of them are now available through Amazon and in Print in the programs where I cannot be in competition with those versions.

I will leave A Penny For Your Thoughts up as long as I can without getting into trouble with the publisher.

Jerry

Well, I am afraid I have to take the story down to meet my contract obligations. I am posting the start of the story in case anyone would like to check it out. If you like it, you can PM me and I will send you the complete story as a .pdf.

A Penny For Your Thoughts
Copyright 2018 by Jerry D Young
All Rights Reserved

The following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual names, persons, businesses, and incidents is strictly coincidental. Locations are used only in the general sense and do not represent the real place in actuality.

A Penny For Your Thoughts - Chapter 1

The shock that Horatio Billings received immediately upon entering his office when he returned from his two-week business trip was only the first he would receive that day. And those shocks came fast and furious.

“Uh… Hello?” Horatio said when he saw the long copper hair of a female stranger sitting at the reception desk in his modest attorney’s office.

The woman spun the desk chair around, the copper hair catching the sunlight from the window, causing it to shimmer. Despite the pixie face surrounded by the hair, Horatio’s eyes were suddenly looking around the reception area. “What happened here? Who are you? Where is Kimmy?”

“Oh. Hi. Hm… Where to start…” The woman’s soft tones brought Horatio’s eyes back to her. But he could not see her eyes. They were studiously locked on the surface of the desk.

A desk that, Horatio noticed, was devoid of any of the mess it had held when he had departed two weeks previously. And the old wood gleamed with a shine like he had never seen.

The woman’s eyes cut up, under her long lashes, but dropped back down immediately. “I should explain…”

“Uh… Yeah? That would be nice. Just who are you and why are you in my office, sitting behind my receptionist’s desk?” Horatio asked, his voice rising slightly by the end of the question. He stood with hands on his hips, all six feet two of hard muscled body quivering with impatience.

“I’m Penny. I am… well… sort of filling in… for a while…”

Sudden alarm shot through Horatio and he paled. The gasp that escaped him brought the woman’s eyes up to his face. Horatio felt his eyes widen slightly. The woman’s eyes were an astounding shade of green. Clearer and more pure than emerald even. They put him in mind of a tsavorite gemstone he had seen on the very trip from which he had just returned.

He shook off the shock of seeing those eyes in that pixie face and quickly asked, “Is Kimmy okay? Did something happen to her? Tell me!”

The woman lifted her hands, palms forward. “She’s fine. She’s fine,” her eyes on Horatio’s more emerald green eyes. But her eyes dropped quickly. “Physically anyway.”

Horatio could barely hear the words; they were so soft and low.

“Physically? What does that mean? Physically?” Horatio found himself leaning forward, his hands on the desk.

His shadow cut across the desk and the woman looked up and a faint gasp escaped her naturally soft red lips as they formed a tiny O.

Horatio noted that she did not scoot the chair back in fright, but just met his gaze for a moment before dropping her eyes again. Horatio quickly stood up and took a step back. He had learned from the past that his size and demeanor could intimidate people, even when he did not intend to. When he did want to, it was quite an advantage.

He took a deep breath. “Let’s start this over. What is your name again?”

“Penny. Penny Arcade.” Her voice trailed off as she looked at Horatio again, holding out her right hand. When his left eyebrow lifted in curiosity, she put her right hand down and clasped her left with it, on top of the desk.

Her eyes cut down, but immediately back up, fascinated by the look on his face. It came out without thinking. Which did not surprise her at all as soon as she said it. “How do you do that? That eyebrow thing?”

Horatio looked stunned. “Eyebrow thing? What are you talking about?” He was totally at a loss.

Penny lifted her eyebrows, but lifted her right hand and pushed down her right one. “Like this. Just your left eyebrow went up. I’ve never seen anyone that could do that before.”

Both of Horatio’s eyebrows went up with that.

“Okay. So, it isn’t a droopy eye or anything,” Penny said, sounding pleased. “That is good.”

“Penny. Penny Arcade,” Horatio said, taking a half a step forward, his voice going lower, and in what sounded even to himself like an ominous tone,” continued, “How is Kimmy?”

“She’s kinda angry. Well… Truthfully, she’s very angry.”

“Angry? About what?” Horatio asked. The fact that Kimmy was angry did not surprise him all that much, but why Penny knew was beyond him.

“Her houseboat sank.” There was the tiniest pause, but Horatio noticed it. “For one thing.”

“For one thing? That mansion on a boat sank? How?”

Horatio thought Penny might giggle at his reference to Kimmy’s houseboat as a mansion on a boat. But she did not. Her eyes dropped again.

“It is… was… a humongous thing, wasn’t it? Two stories and a roof deck, and what… one hundred feet long?” Penny asked, taking a quick peek at Horatio.

“Hundred twenty. Twenty-four wide.” Horatio closed his eyes and shook his head. “Kimmy would be more than angry. She’d be furious. Do you have any idea what happened?”

Horatio saw Penny wince, and her shoulders slump, her eyes not on the desk any longer, but on her lap, where her hands seemed to be wringing together, though he could only see where her forearms went below his line of sight.

“Penny?” Horatio questioned, his voice firm.

“Well… She thinks I kind of sank it…”

“You kinda sank Kimmy’s houseboat?” His voice was at least three octaves higher now. “How the bloody… How could you have possibly sunk that battleship?”

At least his voice had dropped lower again. Penny was thankful for that. “I… uh… Sank probably is not the correct word, actually,” Penny’s voice was soft. But she was a stickler for the truth. Sort of.

Horatio let out a relieved sigh. “Thank God. What? It just settled down, there at the dock?” Even as he said it, he was already sure that was not what Penny had meant.

“No…” The word was rather drawn out. “When the bass boat ran into it…” her words faded away.

This time Penny’s eyes stayed on Horatio’s ever more incredulous widening ones. “Uh… The bass boat hit it going pretty fast… Full throttle, actually… That pointed bow punched a hole… a really big hole… in the side of the houseboat hull almost right in the middle. The bass boat kind of disintegrated, and left a hole that went under the waterline.

“The houseboat hull began to fill pretty quick and listed, throwing Kimmy and… and someone else on the top deck into the water, and then the thing turned turtle and settled on its sun roof and support arches. I am sorry. So sorry.”

Penny had finished in a rush, and her eyes went back down to the top of the desk. But her hands were still on her lap. Horatio was sure he had seen tears bead on her lashes.

“Lord! She must have been livid! Wait! You said she went into the water? She can’t swim!”

“No. I know,” Penny replied promptly. “When she did not come up immediately, I went under the water and felt around until I found her. When I got her to the surface she was able to take a breath okay. And then she started screaming. Kinda in general at first.

“Then at the guy. He had waded ashore and took off running. Kind of funny actually. Running down the marina naked. Oops.”

The touch of a smile that had formed on Penny’s lips for a scant moment disappeared as quickly as it had appeared.

“Naked man?” Horatio asked, unable to take that fact in quite yet.

Penny had both her lips sucked in, her teeth biting on them. She nodded, and took a quick look up at Horatio. Quickly she went on with the tale. “I got Kimmy to shore. I had some of my things on the dock and that included the big skirt and peasant blouse I sometimes wear on research trips in one of my bags. I got her dressed before anyone else showed up. It was kinda short on her and tight, but… anyway, she was dressed when people started to show up.”

It suddenly hit Horatio like a blow. “Wait. Kimmy was naked, too? With a naked guy?”

Again, the double lip bite. Penny nodded. “Fortunately, they were on the top deck going at… Uh… At least they were on the top deck and were thrown clear so they were not trapped in the houseboat when it turned turtle.”

Now quick nervous glances brought Penny’s eyes up to Horatio’s face. His eyes had a distant look in them. He looked hurt. Quickly she said, “I’m sure…”

“What else happened?” Horatio asked, cutting her off.

“The guy driving the bass boat was already headed up to the marina office to get help. Fortunately, he’d been wearing the seat belt and PFD when he hit the houseboat and did not get hurt. He was able to get on the dock.

“Then… Uh… well… when Kimmy got a good look at the houseboat… and then me in the lights from the dock lights… she sort of lost it, then. She assumed I was driving the bass boat I guess. You know. With me being wet and all…”

Horatio’s eyes went to Penny’s hand when it rose to touch her left cheek and rubbed it gently. When he looked closely, he could see the now faint marks on her face, despite the light makeup that Penny had tried to cover them with.

“She hit you?” Horatio gasped out. “Kimmy hit you?” He was just as angry at the fact that he was not surprised when Penny nodded as he was that Penny had, indeed, nodded.

But Penny was already saying, “Not with her fist, of course. She just slapped me.” Then more softly, hand still on her cheek. “A couple of times. She just lost control. It could happen to anyone.”

Horatio noted the slight protest. “Kimmy has a temper, all right.” Horatio stepped up to the desk. “Wait! You weren’t driving the boat that hit the house boat?”

Penny shook her head.

“What happened then?”

“The marina people grabbed her and hurried her off, and the fire department showed up, and then the police. I explained what happened and when they were distracted by Kimmy up on the parking lot I sneaked back into the water and recovered what I could of my stuff and took off. The bow wave of the bass boat, and then the house boat turning turtle washed some of my stuff off the dock and into the water.”

It suddenly struck Horatio that Penny had mentioned the dock lights. And she had snuck back into the water. His eyes widened again and he nearly shouted, “This was at night? You were in that freezing water, at night? With all that stuff that had to be there after the houseboat went over and the bass boat?”

“Uh… Well… Yes. I had to get it before the fuel caught… uh…” Penny saw the concern flash in Horatio’s eyes, and then the anger. “It was no big deal,” she quickly said. “I see really well at night, and I’m a very good swimmer.”

Horatio’s face went pale. Alarmingly pale. Penny jumped up from the chair. “You okay? You want a glass of water?” The concern on her face and in her voice cut through Horatio’s shock. And then he noticed that she had stood up. It was kind of hard to tell, since her head was not all that much higher than it was when she was sitting down.

He leaned forward and looked over the desk. There was a thick pillow on the seat of the chair. Horatio cut his eyes over to Penny and saw her turn red. “How tall are you?” he asked.

She straightened to stand as tall as she could. Horatio looked over the desk again, this time at Penny’s feet. She had on remarkably tall heels. “Without your heels?” His eyes went to her face. The red was fading from it, but there was still color in her cheeks, and a stubborn look on her face.

“Four nine… almost.” Her eyes dropped again. The “almost” was barely audible.

Horatio closed his eyes and sighed. He opened them and saw the concerned look still on Penny’s face. “I’m fine. I do not need any water.”

Penny slowly sat back down as Horatio looked around the office. His gaze snapped back to Penny and she winced. “Okay. Kimmy is okay, at least. And angry. Still does not explain why Kimmy is not here, and you are, and what transformed this office.” Horatio decided he would think about and deal with a naked Kimmy and naked guy that was not him on her houseboat. In private.

With a deep sigh, Penny spoke again, “Well… since I guess I distracted the guy in the bass boat, it was sort of my fault… And… And I overheard Kimmy telling someone named Maddy, that had come to pick her up at the marina, that your office would just have to stay closed until you got back because there was no way she was going to go to work with what had happened…”

Horatio blanched. Kimmy was his paralegal as well as girlfriend. He had scheduled clients in for the time he was gone, for Kimmy to work with to get things ready for action.

Penny saw the reaction. “It’s okay,” she said reassuringly. “I came in the next morning… Saturday, and found the appointment calendar and read up on the files after I found them and… and… well… Got all the appointments taken care of, and new appointments set for the next few days so you can get back on track with everything.”

Again Penny’s words had been fast and furious as she completed her statement.

Horatio knew he must have looked livid. Because he was. “You can’t do that! That is confidential information! And you cannot give legal advice! Even Kimmy can’t give legal advice! Only an attorney can do what you did! I could get disbarred!” His shoulders slumped.

“It’s okay! Really!” Penny said, standing again, looking at Horatio again, sincerity in her eyes. “I’ve worked as a paralegal before. I know the rules. I am just acting as a temp until you straighten things out with Kimmy.”

The last sentence was again a soft one, with it being obvious to Horatio that Penny was feeling sorry for him about Kimmy and the naked guy.

Horatio began to breathe again. “You’re a paralegal?”

“Well, for the moment. Just for this situation. I don’t really like the work and decided to pursue something else after I got my degree and worked for a while.”

Horatio loved being an attorney. He could not fathom anyone with legal training to not love doing it. His disbelief showed when he asked, “You don’t like being a paralegal?”

“Oh, it was all right. I thought about going ahead and becoming an attorney, but it just isn’t for me. There are some other things I want to do.”

Her earnest words convinced him. But it was still hard to accept. He decided to get back to the subject at hand. “How did you get in here? I have serious doubts that Kimmy would have given you the code, considering.”

“Um… The… Uh… The back door was unlocked when I checked. I thought a cleaning crew might be here and I could get in when they weren’t looking.”

Horatio was shaking his head. “Cleaning crew comes in Wednesday nights. Kimmy left the door unlocked again?”

“She’d done it before? It really surprised me that it was unlocked and no one was here.” Penny said. “I thought I would have to pick…” She shut up quickly. Horatio seemed not to have caught the last part.

With a sigh Horatio flopped back into one of the chairs facing the reception desk. “Yeah.” He ran a hand through his auburn hair. “Bone of contention. She has problems with responsibility.”

Horatio cut his eyes quickly to Penny. He was not about to get into his relationship with Kimmy with Penny. It was none of her business. Suddenly he calmed himself down. Penny had not brought it up. He had.

When the phone rang, and Penny picked it up, Horatio took a quick look at his watch. It was just after nine. He refocused his attention on Penny. She was talking to one of his clients. His left eyebrow lifted again, as he listened to Penny’s side of the conversation.

She had responded with Harry Peterson’s name right after her initial greeting on the phone. He was rather impressed as Penny obviously answered some questions Peterson had about his case. From what she was saying, she obviously knew the legalese, and he had a feeling that she was giving correct answers to the questions.

When she hung up a couple of minutes later and saw Horatio watching her, color rose in her cheeks again, but she said, “You have an appointment in twenty minutes. The file and my notes are on your desk. You want some coffee while you get up to speed?”

“Um… Yes. Please.” But Horatio gave Penny what he hoped was a hard look. “But this discussion is not over. And do not think for a minute that you will be working here any longer than it takes me to find out what happened with Kimmy and she comes back to work.”

“Of course,” Penny said, standing again to head for the small employee break room down the hall past the restrooms.

Before she took a step, though, she looked over at Horatio again. “You know, you might want to call the police. I know this looks very bad. It would not hurt my feelings or anything if you wanted to go through legal steps… It is just… Well… I can call and have them send out a detective for you to talk to… And to questions me, of course… And…”

Horatio had watched, amazed at her suggestion. And notice how fast she was talking when her voice trailed off. He sighed. There was just something about the woman that made him feel like he could trust her.

He had good people reading skills, developed working with clients. Everything he was hearing, seeing, and feeling told him to trust her. At least long enough to get to the bottom of things himself, first.

Besides, the thought coming to him suddenly, he really did not want to bring Detective Logan into it. The man was a menace, and would dearly love to give Horatio a hard time. And complicate everything as much as possible.

“No,” Horatio said. “That is not necessary. But you and I are going to hash all of this out, just as soon as we get a break.”

Penny nodded, and headed toward the break room, as Horatio entered his office. When Penny returned a moment later with the cup of coffee on the saucer with two chocolate chip cookies she found Horatio standing in the doorway of his office.

“You did this?” he asked when Penny cleared her throat hesitatingly.

“Um… I kind of had a hard time finding things. I organized everything so I could find it more quickly.”

Horatio turned his head to look at her, but then turned back around and stepped into the office, headed for the chair behind his desk. He continued to look around.

Like the reception area, his office had been transformed from a messy, disorganized near disaster area, to a sleek, professional looking attorney’s office with everything clean, polished, shining, and looking like everything had a place and everything was in its place. Horatio picked up the file and read the set of sticky notes attached to the outside cover.

Horatio cut his eyes up to Penny as she placed the saucer with cup and cookies on the desk, near his right hand. He went back to reading the notes. They were all in line with what he had been thinking about for this case before he had left.

The phone rang then and Penny hurried back out to the reception desk to answer it. Horatio was too busy the rest of the day to think about anything but work. He ate the lunch that Penny set on his desk thankfully, while he went through the next file for his first appointment in the afternoon.

He could not believe the amount of work he accomplished. Before he had gone on the business trip, he would not have been able to complete the morning’s appointments, using the entire day, much less those in the morning and four more during the afternoon. And he had even eaten lunch.

At four o’clock, not long after his last appointment for the day had left, and he was getting things ready for the next day, based on the appointment calendar that Penny had provided, Penny showed up in the door to his office.

“I guess I’d better get my stuff out of the way and let you have your life back.” She turned to go.

“Wait. Penny.” Horatio stood and moved toward the reception area. Penny was bending over to get her purse from beneath the huge U-shaped reception desk and counter.

He could not help it when his eyes traveled from the black heels on Penny’s feet, up the length of her legs to the hem of the dress that rose up high on her thighs, to her trim waist as she straightened, and then when she turned the small bust in the modest bodice of the dress, and finally her pixie face, framed with copper hair. And those deep tsavorite green eyes.

“Look. Until I get things straightened out with Kimmy… Or get a new paralegal, would you hang around and help me out for a few days?”

“Of course. I didn’t mean clean out here. I meant at the… Oops.” Penny’s eyes and voice both dropped.

“Penny?” Horatio asked softly. “Oops what?”

Penny heaved a deep sigh and looked up at Horatio again. “There’s a bit more to the story…”

“Oh, really?” Horatio asked, not a bit surprised at the revelation, he realized.

“Um… Yes. I’m afraid so.” Suddenly she was rushing through the explanation.

Horatio decided it was a nervous habit of hers. To say anything she did not really want to say, quickly. Get it all out in a hurry.

“I just got into town and wanted to get my research done, and then all that happened and I didn’t have a place to live and since Kimmy said she wasn’t going to open the office and I had to take care of that and then found Kimmy was staying with her father and not at your place and I needed a place to live and your house was going to be empty for a while…”

Her words finally slowed down and trailed off. Horatio could not help it. He flushed, his fists balled up onto his hips and he stared at Penny for long moments before he bellowed, “You are living in my house?”

Eye’s down, Penny nodded. Very slightly, but it was enough for Horatio to know it was a fact. “I do not believe this! How did you get in my house? I know I did not leave any door in it unlocked. And Kimmy doesn’t even have a key. I have the only keys!”

“Not really…” Penny said softly. “There is the one in the rock keeper…”

Horatio’s eyes narrowed. He remembered having bought the hidden key keeper that was made to look like just one more stone among many that lined the flower beds along the walk up from the sidewalk to his porch. “You found that key?”

Penny shrugged slightly. “Actually, it was kind of obvious.”

Horatio nearly choked. “Obvious? That stinking rock cost me forty dollars! It blends in with that rock border like one of the native rocks!”

Penny was shaking her head. “Uh. The shape and placement kind of gives it away.”

“That is just great! All this time and I thought that place was secure when I was gone.” Horatio sighed and shook his head again. Then he remembered what the primary discussion was about.

“You moved into my house?” He knew his voice was rising again and tried to calm himself down again.

There was that biting of her lips again. Horatio could not seem to take his eyes off them. She nodded. But then quickly said. “It will only take me a few minutes to get things moved out and loaded up. But… perhaps you should call the pol…”

Horatio managed to keep from shouting, but it was a strong, “NO. We do not need the police.” Then he frowned. “But moving out would probably be a good idea. I have to say I am more than a bit… uncomfortable… about anyone being in my home…”

“It is an intrusion. I know. I am sorry. I just…” Penny said, her words fading. She quickly started through what Horatio realized was a well thought out office shutdown for the night procedure.

The back door was locked, office equipment shut down, bathroom checked for paper and toiletries, the coffee pot turned off, coffee supplies checked, small refrigerator checked, and an organized reorder list marked. Penny set the alarm system and then hurried out the front door of the small office building.

Horatio was a bit befuddled by the tiny woman exiting his free-standing strip mall office building. The list of shocks that had started when he walked in, followed by one after another. And one more was added when Horatio walked toward his new Chevy Impala, while he watched Penny head for whatever she was driving.

That was when the shock occurred. She did not get into any sub compact car. Not a hybrid. Not a crossover SUV. He was more than a little surprised when it looked like she was headed for a Suburban parked at the corner of the next freestanding office building in the mall. What shocked him was that she walked right past it and stopped at the vehicle next to it.

He knew he was staring, mouth wide open, his chin almost on the ground, when the diminutive woman opened the left side saddle bag of a tricked-out Harley Davidson trike. At first Horatio thought it was trike, but then he noticed that it was a two-wheel conversion unit, flanking the rear drive wheel of an obviously custom Harley bike. A very big bike. Made even larger with the conversion.

Penny took out a set of brown motorcycle leathers, tall leather boots, and a helmet from the saddlebag and proceeded to put them on as Horatio hurried over.

She still had her back to him when she leaned over slightly to pull the brown leather pants on over her feet, hiking the back of her dress up probably more than she realized, causing Horatio to let out a squeaking breath at the sight of her trim, firm thighs before the pants were up to her waist and she was fastening them under the dress.

Penny whirled around at the sound and looked up at Horatio’s face. “You okay? You look… a bit strange…”

“I’m… I’m fine.” He knew it was probably more than a bit insulting when he asked Penny, as she shrugged into the heavy leather jacket, “You’re going to ride this?”

But she did not bat an eye. She was putting on the boots. She just said, “Yep. This is my day ride. I’ll meet you at the house?” she asked as she put her heels in the saddle bag. It came out more like a question than statement. She had her helmet on before Horatio could gather enough wits about him to nod.

Her helmeted head nodded in return, and she climbed onto the left side running board, threw her right leg over the seat, curling the leg behind to clear the backrest, and sat down on the low-slung seat. A scant moment later and the bike roared to life.

“Geez!” Horatio muttered as he ran toward the Impala, watching over his shoulder as Penny ran three gears, accelerating quickly toward the mall exit on the bike. She was long gone on the street by the time he bumped into the Impala’s rear end, recovered, ran around, and got in.

Horatio started the car and headed out after Penny. It was not until he turned onto his street that he saw her again. She was already parked to one side of the driveway, the bike facing the street, standing there, waiting for him, without the jacket, but with the dress still covering the leather pants.

Her hands clasped in front of her, eyes down, Penny told Horatio when he approached, “I will get the trailer loaded with most of my stuff. I’ll have to get the truck to get the rest. I’ll get it from storage and bring it tomorrow.”

She looked at him, twisting her head slightly sideways and tilting it as Horatio hurried past her, “I should have stopped here first…” Horatio was saying.

Penny already had the key she had been using in her hand to give to him when he whirled around after opening the door and stepping inside. He had got a good look around the living room before he spun around.

“Oh,” he said, taking the key absently. He pretty much glared at her. “You cleaned this place up, too!” It was an accusation.

Her delicate look shoulders shrugged slightly. “Just picked up a little…”

Horatio stalked off toward the hallway leading toward the bedrooms. Penny was still standing just inside the door when he marched back into the living room and on into the kitchen. When he did not come right back out, Penny edged that way, meeting him at the doorway just as he was coming back.

Penny managed to stop, but Horatio did not, bowling Penny over so hard she landed on her rump and rolled backwards, feet and legs flying upward as she “Oomphed” loudly.

“Dang it!” Horatio muttered. More loudly he said, “I’m sorry.” He reached down and essentially picked her up with one hand and stood her on her feet.

“Wow. You’re even stronger than you look!”

A look of concern was on Horatio’s face now when Penny looked up from the bulging muscles of his right arm to his face. “Are you all right? Did I hurt you? Did the fall hurt you?”

“Naw,” Penny said, shrugging the incident away. “I managed to control the landing okay. No harm, no foul. I’ll get my stuff.” She spun on her heel and headed for the bedrooms.

“Wait a minute,” Horatio said, carefully controlling his voice now. He touched her arm gently, making sure not to grab it. As upset as he was he knew he could easily bruise her tanned arm without meaning to.

Again, her head was down, her eyes on the floor.

“Look at me.” Again, Horatio controlled his voice, both timber and tone.

Penny looked up hesitatingly. “Yes?”

“Picked up a little? This house is spotless. Laundry done, tub and toilet scrubbed to a shine, the kitchen is spotless. And the fridge is stocked with enough food to last a week.”

“Uh… You didn’t look in the pantry, did you?” Penny asked, managing to keep her eyes on Horatio’s face.

Horatio blinked once, spun, and went back into the kitchen. Penny heard the pantry cabinet door open gently, but close rather firmly. When Horatio returned he gave her another look, which she met. “Enough food for a month! For a baseball team!”

Penny shrugged again. Horatio was beginning to wish she would not do that. Every time she did his eyes would drop to her bust. There was not much of it, but it was very… jiggly. He was pretty sure she was not wearing a bra, but that the dress had a shelf bra built in.

He lifted his eyes hastily. Penny did not seem to have noticed the direction his eyes had gone. “A good pantry is just a good idea. Never know when something might happen and you might not be able to restock expeditiously.”

There went the left eyebrow again, Penny noted, when Horatio repeated the word.

“Expeditiously?”

“Un-huh. Like if the stores do not get their JIT deliveries for some reason.”

Again, Horatio repeated a word. “JIT?”

“You know. Just in time?”

“Just in time for what?” Horatio asked, truly and completely baffled.

“Just in time so the shelves don’t go empty.”

Horatio was shaking his head. “I have absolutely no clue what you are talking about. But that can wait. Are you going to tell me why you decided to move into my house in my absence?”

Horatio, though he was the one facing the door, was the one that nearly jumped out of his skin when the loud, angry words, “I would like to know that, as well,” came from the doorway. Out of an obviously angry Kimmy.

Horatio heard the sad sigh, and then the “Uh-oh,” from Penny as she slowly turned toward Kimmy, who was marching toward the two of them, murder in her eyes.

Quickly deciding that while discretion might be the better part of valor, Horatio stepped between the rapidly approaching Kimmy and the steadfastly standing Penny anyway.

“Calm down, Kimmy. I am sure there is a reasonable explanation for Penny covering at the office… And staying here…”

Kimmy’s angry gaze cut from the sliver of Penny’s face she could see behind Horatio’s broad shoulders, to Horatio’s face. The high-pitched voice went even higher. “She has been at the office? I did not open the office at all for the past two weeks!” she nearly screamed.

“Uh. Yes. I know,” Horatio said, trying for a calm tone, though her admission stung him and annoyed him more than a little. He carefully put his hands on her shoulders when she got close enough and was trying to get around him to Penny.

“Is she the one that changed…” Kimmy quickly closed her mouth.

“I will get to the bottom of this,” Horatio said. “Just calm down and we will hear Penny out.”

A low, but firm, “I will tell you. I’m not going to tell her,” came from behind Horatio.

Horatio winced when Kimmy’s screech hurt his ears. Kimmy tried to push past Horatio again, but even her tall, firm body did not even budge him.

“Calm down, Kimmy. This is not helping. I will find out what this is all about. Just give Penny and me a few minutes.”

“You are not going to be alone with that… that… pipsqueak!”

Horatio closed his eyes for a moment when he heard Penny mutter, “Sticks and stones…” and then fall silent behind him. It had been like a mantra. One she had probably learned as soon as it became obvious she was not going to get any taller than she was, Horatio decided.

“Now, just go sit down in the living room and I will take Penny into the kitchen and get to the bottom of this.”

Kimmy stamped her foot. But Horatio was glad to know that she relaxed slightly and began to draw away. But as she looked around at the living room she was screeching again. “You hired a cleaning lady while I was gone! I have been trying to get you to do that for ages! And you do it while I am gone? Who did you get? You better have hired…”

Her eyes suddenly narrowing when Horatio started to turn and look at Penny, she screeched again, “She did this? She cleaned your house? Why? What, are you sleeping with her, too?”

Kimmy gasped at the look that was suddenly in Horatio’s eyes. His eyes cut to Penny, who was now standing slightly away from Horatio, though still essentially behind him. “You told him something!” Kimmy looked at Horatio again. “She’s lying! I am telling you she is lying! Who are you going to believe? That little shrimp of a tramp or me, your girlfriend of three years?”

“I only told him about the office being closed,” Penny said quietly. “None of the other… Aw, shucks. Oops.” Penny sighed, and then muttered, “I have to learn to just keep my mouth shut completely.”

Horatio’s eyes quickly went back to Kimmy. He saw her pale to whiteness under her deep tan, and a look of panic show up in her eyes. “You will not believe her, Horatio! Do not believe anything she says! She’s out to get me for some reason. She sank my houseboat, for crying out loud! On purpose!”

There was color back in her cheeks, Horatio saw, but she was still pale otherwise. And staring daggers at Penny.

“Perhaps you better go and let me deal with Penny. On my own terms. We’ll discuss whatever we need to discuss. Later. Sometime later.”

Kimmy looked at Horatio’s stony face and decided it might be better to regroup, come up with a new story, and a new plan, and try again after Horatio got rid of the woman. Which she knew he would. He wanted her, Kimmy, not some little nobody. There was nothing the woman could say that would change Horatio’s mind about her.

She could not have heard much, if anything of that conversation with Maddy at the marina, beyond the not opening the office. She had been yelling at that point, she remembered. And there was no way she could know any of the rest. Kimmy spun on her heel and marched out of the house.

Horatio looked around. Penny was watching him, a guarded look on her face. He sighed, closed his eyes, and then took a deep, calming breath. “Okay. Penny. Please, sit down. Will you go over the whole thing again for me? I am having a hard time getting my head around all of this…”

Horatio shook his head. Penny could see that he was truly confused. “And no wonder,” she thought to herself.

So Penny went over to the sofa and sat down, putting her hands together in her lap as she waited for Horatio to take the chair near the end of the sofa where she sat. Then, without prompting from Horatio, she repeated what she had told him that morning.

Penny did not repeat the part about Kimmy and the guy on the top deck of the houseboat being naked.

“Wait a minute,” Horatio finally broke in, having listened right up to the point when Penny mentioned that she was assuming some responsibility for the accident because she had distracted the guy in the bass boat. “How can any of this be your fault? What do you mean you distracted the guy in the bass boat?”

Horatio saw Penny wince. “Well… you see… I changed out of my wet suit in my boat, out on the lake after I got out of the water after I had dived…” Penny saw the look on Horatio’s face.

“You were diving in the lake?”

Penny nodded. “Looking for signs of… well… that doesn’t matter. When I checked for other boats before I dove, and put out the dive marker, there wasn’t anyone anywhere around. I guess I didn’t look close enough when I got back in the boat. That bass boat was really compact and not very tall.

“I was a bit cold, so I stripped out of the wet suit and dried off before I put on my clothes.” Penny sighed. “I guess the guy in the bass boat had stopped and backed off quite a ways when he saw my dive marker.

“When I was dressed I heard the bass boat engine roar, and then finally saw the boat. He was coming right at me. That is when I figured out that he must have been curious because I think he probably had his binoculars on me when I came out of the water.”

Horatio noticed that though she had turned pink, and even red a couple of times during her explanation, she did neither when she admitted that someone had probably been watching her change from her wet suit to her other clothes. She just went blithely on.

“I didn’t really want to have to explain what was going on, nor talk to some guy that had just seen me change clothes right out in the open, so I headed for the marina before he got close.”

Penny cut her eyes over to Horatio when he said, “Some of those bass boats are fast.”

Penny nodded. “Yeah. I know. But I’d rented one that just happens to be faster. A lot faster, I guess. Because I was already at the dock and tied up when he came barreling in at full throttle, looking for me, I think. He saw me, and didn’t see the houseboat. It was already past twilight.”

“So that makes it your fault? That doesn’t make any sense,” Horatio said. “It was his fault.” Horatio suddenly went silent. “Where was the houseboat, exactly?”

Penny sighed. “At the dock just beyond the fuelling dock.”

“Kimmy knows she is not supposed to tie up there at night!” Horatio had his elbows on his knees. He put his head in his hands and groaned. “She’s been warned and warned about blocking the entrance to the rest of the marina with that thing. She likes to be close to the marina club house.”

Penny stayed silent. But then Horatio lifted his head and said, “Please continue.”

“Not really much left,” Penny said. “The authorities took everyone’s statement that was there. I… loaded up my stuff and…” Penny dropped her eyes and fell silent.

“And?” Horatio prompted.

“It… well… it kind of gets complicated from there…” Penny said softly.



PM me for the complete story, or it can be found on Amazon as an e-book or as a trade paperback book. It can also be ordered through most bookstores.

Thank you all for understanding.

Last edited by Jerry D Young; 08-17-2018 at 04:18 PM.. Reason: Have to take the story down.
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Old 03-11-2018, 04:32 PM
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Thank you very much. It's been awhile since I've read a JDY story and I have to say, this is your best yet. Very timely and a new possibility for SHTF that I've not seen. Much good food for thought and consideration. I'll be buying this one for sure.
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Old 03-11-2018, 04:41 PM
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I am reluctant to start reading as I usually can't put down your stories and end up finishing in one sitting. I have stuff to do! I am not even much of a reader but relate to your style of writing and have turned at least a couple people onto your work.Thanks JDY.
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Old 03-11-2018, 07:43 PM
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Wow, Just wow. I remember some sort of show about subliminal advertising never thought about it as a weapon.
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Old 03-11-2018, 08:09 PM
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Thank you once more Jerry. I was having fits waiting for a new story
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Old 03-11-2018, 09:28 PM
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Another imaginative entry from a dystopian master.

I hold you responsible for me going to bed at 2A and my wife holds us both responsible for my lack of productivity today.

Well done and thank you. I will buy it and leave a positive review on Amazon.
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Old 03-11-2018, 09:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Redneck life View Post
Wow, Just wow. I remember some sort of show about subliminal advertising never thought about it as a weapon.
Max Headroom. I think they were called blipverts and they made people explode.

Subliminal messages were also used in the movie Serenity (Firefly) to trigger one of the characters.

Jerry's approach was interesting as multiple media types was used.
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Old 03-12-2018, 03:25 PM
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Max Headroom. I think they were called blipverts and they made people explode.

Subliminal messages were also used in the movie Serenity (Firefly) to trigger one of the characters.

Jerry's approach was interesting as multiple media types was used.
What is scary, I think about my daughter's behavior after binge watching tv or playing minecraft. She back talks, gets defiant and just plain nasty when we make her get off of it.
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Old 03-12-2018, 06:45 PM
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Great story Jerry. I like the Rufus reference I'm not quite done yet but it is great. How long before it gets to the Kindle?
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Old 03-12-2018, 06:53 PM
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YAY! A new story. Just finished it. Very hard to put down.
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Old 03-12-2018, 07:27 PM
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Thanks for the story!!
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Old 03-12-2018, 08:16 PM
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Thank you for sharing all your stories with us . I have your USB drive but my computer was too old to access anything on it so I really enjoy reading on here Thank you again.
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Old 03-12-2018, 09:41 PM
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A JDY story I haven't read before!!!!

Almost half way through and still trying to think is it based north of me or south.
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Old 03-13-2018, 12:38 AM
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Another great story! Sure do hope there's a sequel to it. Thanks so much!
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Old 03-13-2018, 01:38 AM
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This is a really interesting story line, a new take on prepper fiction. Without saying too much, you have put your finger on something that is really happening. Notice that the school shooters all have been violent video game aficionados? Any other thoughts or stories on this would be most welcome.
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Old 03-13-2018, 09:47 AM
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I just finished your story. It was very good. I will be looking for more of your work to purchase. Good story, I hope the saga continues.
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Old 03-13-2018, 10:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redneck life View Post
What is scary, I think about my daughter's behavior after binge watching tv or playing minecraft. She back talks, gets defiant and just plain nasty when we make her get off of it.
Throw the TV out.
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Old 03-13-2018, 11:17 AM
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Throw the TV out.


Plan on it as soon as we move.
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Old 03-13-2018, 04:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry D Young View Post
My most recent.

Due to contract obligations, I will have to take this story down in a couple of weeks. I cannot have a story up anywhere in direct competition with the Kindle and print versions. But as it is a draft, I can put it up for a short time.

Since it is pretty long, I had to do an attachment, otherwise it would have been nearly twenty posts.

And just as an FYI:
I will be taking down some of the other stories here, as several more of them are now available through Amazon and in Print in the programs where I cannot be in competition with those versions.

I will leave A Penny For Your Thoughts up as long as I can without getting into trouble with the publisher.

Jerry
Jerry, not to nitpick, but you need an editor. I noticed many spellings mistakes and missing words.

Just thought you should know
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Old 03-13-2018, 06:13 PM
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Yep. Four different people edited it, and then I did another before I sent it off. Just cannot win for losing, seems like.

My publisher is putting it through another professional edit. Hopefully that person will get the rest.

Thanks.

Jerry
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