While growing up, going to libraries felt like an adventure filled with mystery and wonder to Debra. The hushed tones invoked secrets, and the dusty, sometimes moldy scent of paper smelled like perfume. Leaving the library with just a single book never happened. Years later, her love of reading turned to passion for writing. Debra’s an award-winning artist who lives in southern Arizona where the average summer temperatures are truly hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk.
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one killer--who will die first?
one killer--who will die first?
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“Mother, what are you doing here?”
Anna stood at the edge of the foyer with her arms folded tightly across her stomach, panicking as she watched her mother straighten the photographs lining the top of the antique sideboard. Lee stood behind Anna. He would be witnessing firsthand one of Margo Wright’s obsessive sprees. Anna didn’t need to get any closer to know that each frame would be spaced evenly apart and facing in exactly the same direction, depending on which way the light was coming through the windows. If there were reflections on the frames’ glass, then she’d turn them enough to eliminate that glare. Anna didn’t have any pictures hung on the walls out of deference to her mother’s difficulty.
Without looking up or stopping her straightening, Margo said, “A city dispatcher called and said that someone broke into your house. I came to help you pack.” She brushed her hands together as she rushed to the kitchen sink, squirted soap into her palm, and scrubbed her hands under a fast stream of water.
“Mother,” Anna said as she walked farther into the family room, “I was going to call you this morning to tell you what happened—”
“Don’t bother!” Margo shouted, slapping the water faucet off. Anna recoiled at her tone. Her mother tore off a single paper towel and dried her hands without looking at Anna. The trash can had a sensor. With a wave of her hand, the lid opened, and she dropped the used towel inside. In a softer voice, Margo said, “Dirty frames. When was the last time they were cleaned?”
“Um . . .” Anna glanced over her shoulder at Lee. He was still standing in the foyer near the hallway leading to the bedrooms. It didn’t seem like the right time for him to meet her mother at the moment. She couldn’t blame him. “I let Ella go.”
“What? You fired your maid? Of course she fired her maid; she just said that.” Margo tapped the cabinet door handle, and then the next one, and then the next one, alternating hands as she went through the kitchen. After she finished, she washed her hands again. “I’ll send Vicky over after she gets through today.” She tore off another paper towel and dried her hands. Anna certainly didn’t want to have a nurse come over and clean her house. “Mother, you don’t have to—”
“Don’t argue with me,” Margo snapped. Anna stiffened and hugged herself tighter. She could tell by the outbursts and repetitive motions that her mother’s problems were getting worse. Margo threw the paper towel away before heading into the family room.
“How did you get in?” Anna asked quietly.
“The security boy let me in—what the hell is that?” Margo pointed at the wall by the foyer. Anna stood still, knowing she’d seen the bullet holes. Lee was gone. He must’ve ducked into the closest doorway. Margo then spotted the hole in the chair. “He shot at you? Why didn’t you tell me?”
Anna froze as her mother turned to her with her green eyes shining with unshed tears. “My baby,” she cried, sweeping Anna into a viselike hug. “Are you hurt? Are you shot? My baby!”
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