Nora Bella, Maggie’s literary agent for the Raven Ridge Mysteries, sat behind her Manhattan office desk relieved that the contract with Pendleton Books for Dane Slegers thriller series was officially finalized. Both Nora and Pendleton Books were optimistic about the success of his upcoming books, anticipating millions of dollars from them and the optioned movie deal.
It was a Tuesday afternoon and she debated whether to call it quits for the day and celebrate with her assistant, Yani, at Italia Cuisine and Cocktails across the street. First, she would straighten her desk and clear it of unnecessary stacks of papers, that way she could start fresh on the next contract in the morning. Unfortunately, she would be dealing with Pendleton Books, they wanted out of the contract with Maggie because she was not producing and was not satisfying the agreement, and that meant money lost.
“Damn it, Maggie,” Nora said to herself as she stood. “Why did you have to go all nuts on me?”
She lifted the first stack of manuscripts and took them out to Yani, setting the pile on the corner of her desk. “Can you sort through these and organize them?” Nora began to walk away, then stopped and turned toward Yani. “Then we’ll go next door and have cocktails in celebration of our success today.”
Yani looked at the disheveled papers. “I can’t believe you manage to get anything done. It looks like this paperwork was shuffled by a whirlwind before it decided to play a game of fifty-two pick up.”
Nora laughed and began walking back to her office. She stopped when she noticed an envelope on the shiny marble floor. She picked it up. It was the letter Maggie had sent her a back in June, back before she went to the loony bin. She took it back to her office and sat at her desk. “I suppose it’s about time I open this.”
She opened the letter and began reading:
It is June 13 and I’m writing you this letter because I trust you. Recently I’ve found out that my best friend, Jessica Pinter, had been having an affair with my husband. And I discovered that our will was altered and that valuable jewelry from our safe was missing, including the gun.
This may sound crazy, but I’m being made to look crazy, like I need psychiatric help, but I’m as sane as anyone. There are predators pursuing me, wanting to harm me.
Unfortunately, I’m also having weird dreams, like I’m somebody else from another time. In the dreams, I’m a nurse in this very same building when it was Lake Shore Sanatorium and Psychiatric Hospital; back in 1969. During that time, I was setup by a nurse named Deborah and a Dr. Hancock for the death of a young girl, who was a patient in the hospital. But I did not cause her death. In a strange turn of events, all three of us ended up dying in a boat explosion out on Lake Michigan. I don’t believe in reincarnation, but there are so many coincidences it almost seems to be true.
I don’t have the evidence I need to defend myself. When I get the evidence I need, I will move out of Sandpiper Bluff.
Please don’t think I’m crazy. I’m being pursued and I don’t know where to turn. But I wanted to write this as a record of my side of the story, and I trust you.
Nora was flipping her pen so quickly between her fingers that it flew across the room.
“Oh . . . my . . . god,” Nora said, running out to Yani. The clicks of her high-heeled shoes, on the marble floor, echoed through the reception area. She put the paper on top of the disarrayed stack that Yani was already sorting. “Read this.”
“What’s wrong?” Yani said, picking up the letter.
“It’s from Maggie McGee, read it.” Nora watched Yani unfold the paper and begin reading.
When Yani had finished, she looked up in shock. “It was dated three months ago. You just now opened it?”
Nora shushed Yani’s comment with her hands as if she could divert the words floating through the air. “We have to do something.”
“You should call the police,” Yani said, handing the letter back to Nora.
“What police? I don’t know who to call,” Nora said, pacing in the reception area.
“I’ll look it up. It should be the police department where she lives.” Yani looked up Maggie’s address and then got on the Internet. “I’ll dial the Black Water Police Department; they should be able to help.”
“Do it,” Nora said, clenching the letter.
Yani dialed the number and handed Nora the telephone receiver.
“Black Water Police Department, Deputy Clark speaking. How may I help you?”
“My name is Nora Bella and I’m a friend of Margaret McGee, actually I’m her literary agent here in Manhattan and I have come across some relevant information regarding her. Did I call the right place?”
“I believe Detective John Becker in homicide is handling her case,” Dep. Clark said. “I’ll transfer you over.”
Moments later a female answered the phone. “Homicide, this is Detective Wanat. What can I do for you?”
“I need Detective Becker; I believe he’s following Margaret McGee’s case. Is he there?”
“You’re in luck, he just walked in. What did you say your name was?”
“Nora Bella, Maggie’s friend and agent,” she said, speaking quickly.
“Johnny, you have a call from a Nora Bella, she said she’s a friend of Margaret McGee’s. I’ll transfer her over,” Det. Wanat said.
Det. Becker picked up the phone. “Detective John Becker.”
Nora’s words were rushed. “My name is Nora Bella and I just found a letter that Maggie McGee sent me back in June and I . . . well . . . just now opened it. It sounds like people were out to get her and . . . I think you had better read it. I’ll overnight it to you.”
“Do you have the envelope it was mailed in?” Det. Becker asked.
“I do, and I’ll send that, too,” Nora said. “I feel so bad for just now opening the letter, but I hope it helps her. I’m overnighting it right now.”
After a short conversation with the detective, Nora hung up and handed the letter to Yani. “Overnight this immediately. And forget about that pile of papers, we’re going for that cocktail right now.”