Sampler: Creating Kathryn Crown by Dreamah H. Lockwood

Buckle up for a wild ride with an interesting cast of colorful characters and a puzzle that keeps you guessing to the end.

Wishing to be someone else is a fantasy for many women. For Kathryn, it is a nightmare. She awakes in a Colorado city, two thousand miles from home, with another woman’s face, and a husband she doesn’t know.

A cowboy, Justin Crown, insists she is his wife, Kathryn Clark Crown, and they have been married for over a year. She insists she is Kathryn Blanding and lives in Florida.

After a long-distance phone call to her supposed mother, Kathryn is blasted by Sara Blanding for playing such a cruel joke and calls her Kate. The women state emphatically her daughter died in an auto accident four years ago and slammed the phone down. Kathryn realizes she is missing four years of her life.

Now with nowhere to turn, in a strange city without money or means, she is forced to depend on Justin Crown for help in getting back home. Dr. Dan Otis convinces her to go home with the cowboy. She agrees but plans to somehow find or steal the funds to leave her nightmare behind. However,

Justin is just as determined to fight to keep the woman he married and loves.

Even the best-laid plan can have a wrench thrown in to destroy them. A mysterious man keeps calling with threatening messages for Kathryn to stay in Colorado. Florida holds only danger and possible death for her. Frightened, she is committed even more to prove her identity. Justin finally agrees to take her back home.

Kathryn’s journey back to Florida’s sunny shores and her struggle to prove her identity is thwarted at every turn. If she succeeds in substantiating her claim to be Kathryn Blanding, it could lead to her arrest for murder. Kathryn and Justin must establish her innocence, and solve the riddle of the creation of Kathryn Crown.

Dreamah H. Lockwood

 

Sampler: Creating Kathryn Crown

Prologue

The odor of death, hot and coppery, melded with the humidity and swept through the room, carried on the dense sea breeze.  A last ray of sunlight breached the French doors and cut a swathe across the beige carpet to illuminate a spot in the deep shadows.  In the fading light, the woman could see a body on the floor next to the brown sofa, abundant silver curls haloed in a pool of blood, the battered face half-hidden by the approaching night.  Bile rose in her throat, and she fought to keep from gagging.

Car keys clutched tight, she hid outside the room’s entrance, purse gripped tight, she hugged the door frame praying to remain unseen.  Just when escape appeared within reach, a dark form catapulted out of the gloom and charged across the floor.  She screamed, spun around, and bolted.  Each footstep echoed through the hall as she raced past a wall mirror, while the glass captured the shocked features of a young female with long dark auburn hair.

At the front door, she fought the brass handle, twisted the knob violently, and succeeded in jerking it open to tear down the flagstone steps to the Mustang parked in the curved driveway.  Thank God, the driver’s side was unlocked.  Once inside, keyed the ignition, and the engine roared to life.  Rubber tires squealed as the automobile barreled along the quiet street to the highway and toward the bridge.

Terrified, the woman kept glancing in the rearview mirror.  Twin globes of bright light were gaining on the Mustang.  Foot rammed down on the accelerator, the vehicle shot forward, speedometer climbing to eighty, then ninety miles per hour and continued upward.  One final quick look to check the closeness of the other car.  That was the last act she committed before the scream of metal against metal, and the world dissolved into darkness.

Chapter One

Jerked awake, the horror of the nightmare fresh in her mind, Kathryn raised up on one elbow, took a deep breath, and waited for the pounding of her heart to slow and calm the stark fear ripping through her.  Shaking and drenched in a cold sweat, with a handful of bedcovers clenched over her mouth to smother an outcry, she glanced around the darkened room.  With the edge of the cotton sheet,  she wiped her face and shivered against the terror, still gripping her mind. A dream, she reassured herself, another nightmare like the others.

Rubbing her chest, she licked her dry lips.  Pain arced across the top of her head and settled behind her eyes.  She clutched her head and moaned as a wave of nausea assaulted her.  Taking deep breaths, she fought against the churning of her stomach.  Nothing stopped the urge to vomit.  Over the bedside she leaned, knowing she’d never reach the wastebasket in time.  Strong arms gave support to her slight frame, and a deep male voice kept repeating the same soothing phrase.

“It’s all right.  I’m here.  I’ll stay with you.”  A calloused hand brushed the hair back from her face, and a warm damp cloth wiped her mouth.

“Robert?” she mumbled.  Her eyes refused to stay open.  “What happened?  Why are you here?”  No answer came as she drifted back to sleep.

In the wee hours of the morning, Kathryn awoke, mind a bit clearer, but with a bitter taste in her mouth.  The dream and the man forgotten, she lay quiet, not wanting to cause another headache.  But, there were things to be done, and one place she had to be, at court.  Today was D-day; her divorce would be final.  At last, she’d be free of Robert Cantree and could put her life back together.

Marrying Robert was not the worst mistake of her life.  No, not the worst, but it ranked near the top.  Her entire life was one mistake after another, creating a mountain of errors until there were times she couldn’t breathe from the memories.

Kathryn let her eyes remain shut and listened.  The sounds of a new day were always soothing, quieting the demons of nightmares and memories, giving her the courage to face whatever happened.  Today she heard nothing.  Not the raucous cry of the gulls winging their way along the shore, no papery sound of palm fronds swaying in the breeze.  No warm salty breeze drifted through the room from the screened balcony door.  Instead, a faint, sharp odor permeated the air.  She wrinkled her nose.  Unease furrowed her brow as she opened her eyes.  Puzzled, she focused.  This was not her bedroom.

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