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Britney King LLC

Mail Order Bride: A Psychological Thriller (Ebook)

Mail Order Bride: A Psychological Thriller (Ebook)

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A vicious and suspenseful tale of love-gone-wrong.

About The Book

When Joel answers an ad in the back of the Farmers’ Almanac that promises to deliver the perfect wife, he isn’t sure what to expect.

For sure, it isn’t Gina.

Gina was aware she possessed secret powers—that’s what her father called them—from a very young age. He always told her she would make a perfect bride. So that’s exactly what she became.

She knows she’s not supposed to use her “powers” for evil and destruction, but Pine Lake is a small place, and Gina has big dreams—plans, in fact. She also has charm, beauty, sex appeal, and intelligence.

Only two things stand in her way: the social norms of 1953, and her new husband, Joel.

The solution may call for desperate measures. But, then, if anyone can get away with murder, it’s Gina.

However, there’s something Gina has yet to realize. That handsome groom of hers? He’s a serial loner for a reason.

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Prologue

July 1953

The animals are acting strange. Somehow, they’re always the first to know. They can sense his moods better than I can, and believe me, I’ve gotten pretty good. 

“Smells amazing!” he exclaims as he steamrolls into the kitchen and plants a peck on my cheek. 

My hands shake, but I keep on keeping on. Meaning, I stick to the plan. I’m flustered still, which pretty much sums up the state I’ve been in since my eyes landed on him, but more on that later. 

Trust me, it’s a lot to digest. 

At the moment, I’ve got a pretty full plate. 

“And you look amazing,” he tells me as he washes up at the sink. “Remind me—how did I get so lucky?” 

I shrug and offer a fake smile. The devil has his ways. 

Never mind that he’s going to kill me six ways to Sunday. Good thing it’s only Friday. I still have time to get myself out of this calamity, otherwise known as the fight for my life. On the bright side, I’ve done it before. 

I’ve changed his mind. 

I’m sure if I concentrate hard enough, I can do it again. 

Unfortunately, having any sort of coherent thought feels next to impossible. It’s stifling outside, and it’s even hotter in here. The humidity is unrelenting and oppressive, like this town. And if the heat of a thousand suns weren’t enough to bear, Mary Baker showing up here unannounced was the nail in the coffin.

It’s such a shame. I swear, if her face is the last I see before I die, I know for sure I’m going to live in eternal hell. They say you recognize your friends when things get rough, and I am finding that more and more true.

When Mary called this morning, I told her not to bother, and yet, here she is. Betrayal is always painful. No matter how cynical you are, it hurts. Mary, like most women in this town, is very focused on maintaining her status. Part of that is what people think about her. As such, she must comply with demands.

Now, he’s going to kill me and her both. What does he care?

He could wait until she leaves, but knowing him, he’ll do it just to prove a point. Look at me, look what I can do. They should have seen it coming. Why didn’t they see it coming? 

Oh, I did. 

I do. 

That’s how I ended up here, standing with this metaphorical gun to my head. Everything is some sort of competition with him, only he never lets you know what game you’re playing. 

And rules? Forget about rules.

This gives him the advantage, which he doesn’t want to admit he desperately needs. 

But I know better. 

If only Mary did. 

She doesn’t, so he plays the perfect gentlemen, forcing my hand. He offers her the tea and shortbread. “That’s for the Forresters, remember, dear?” I say with an amiable smile.

“I’m sure they won’t mind if there’s a little missing.” He takes a cookie and stuffs it in his mouth. “How can I resist?”

I move the plate away. “Try.” 

“Come on now,” he says through a mouthful. “Is there anything you do that isn’tirresistible?” 

Mary sighs wistfully. “Newlyweds.”

I watch as she shoves a shortbread wedge in her mouth, while he covertly spits his into a napkin and I ball my fists. This is not how this day was supposed to go. 

“I hope you don’t mind my dropping by,” Mary says, gulping her tea. 

He crosses the room, leans back against the counter and folds his arms across his broad chest. His hair is damp with sweat and his skin is glistening, and why does no one tell you the devil can look this good? When he flashes his dimples, she’s putty in his hands. “Not at all.” 

Mary looks at me. “It’s just when I heard you were under the weather, I thought I might pop over and see if there was anything I could do.” 

“I’m fine,” I say.

“She’s fine,” he agrees. “The heat makes my wife restless.”

Mary starts coughing then, and she takes a long time to stop. 

“Gina is always happy to have company,” he offers, refilling her tea. “She gets lonely out here—and you know what they say about lonely women.” 

Mary doesn’t realize it wasn’t a question. I know because between coughing fits, she says, “What do they say?” 

He looks at me quizzically, and I see murder behind those eyes. “Why don’t you tell her, darling?” 

I wipe the sweat from my brow and set about clearing the table. We made love here just this morning, and it was hot even then. “He’s being facetious,” I explain to Mary. “I could never get lonely out here. How could I?” I say, looking at him. “When there’s so much that needs tending to.”

His face shifts and his eyes cloud over. He’s growing bored, and it’s the worst thing for him to be. I’ve never wished we were alone more than I do at this moment. 

“If walls could talk,” Mary stammers. She’s not looking good. Her color has turned ashy, and her once rosy red lips now boast a blueish tint. 

No. No. No. 

I probably should have protested a little more, but the outcome was inevitable. Someone was always going to die, and that someone could still be me. 

“Yes,” he says, eyeing me. “If walls could talk.” 

I feel a story coming, and our guest does too. You could even say she has expectations. My husband likes to regale the men in town with tales of my prowess. I suppose that’s one way to put it. The nice way. Soon enough, rumors spread, and the wives began turning up at the front door to see what’s in the water. 

Nothing good, I’ll tell you that. 

This is his game. I’m just a player in it. Somewhat unwillingly, although, as they say, it takes two to tango. Remember how I said the devil has his ways?

It’s true.

He doesn’t get far into his story before our guest collapses onto the floor, clutching her pearls. She just kind of deflates. Her ashen skin turns pale, her eyes roll back, she convulses a bit, and then she is still. 

“Oh, look,” he says. “We got ourselves another one.”

I lean down and pat Mary Baker’s hand. Not because I’m trying to help. We’re well past that. I’d like to say this is my first time seeing a dead person, but I can’t lie. We’re well past that, too. 

He squats down beside me. “My wife is good at a lot of things,” he says, gazing into Mary’s empty stare. “Sad to say, cooking is not one of them.”

“They weren’t meant for her,” I reply bitterly. “Seeing as she’s the police chief’s wife.”

“Oh well. I never really cared for her. You?”

“Of course not. But that’s not the point.”

I stare at him for a long beat, expecting him to respond, but he doesn’t. He’s never this careless. That’s how I know he’s up to something. That’s how I know I’m about to die. Finally, he leans forward and wipes the sweat from my brow. “You look beautiful when you’re angry.” 

I don’t mean to flinch, but I do. I’ve seen how this ends. 

“Now, go strip yourself down,” he tells me. “I’ll leave what you need outside the door.”

“I’m not putting on a dead woman’s clothes.” 

He hands me a silk scarf from the rack by the door. His favorite. “You are,” he says. “And then you’re going to drive her car out to that spot I showed you. The one where we stopped to pick lemons on our honeymoon.”

“That was a day trip, hardly what I’d call a honeymoon.

“Strange. I recall you being rather pleased.”

I start to argue, but he says, “That’s the thing about women. You can never make them happy.” 

The phone rings. It’s Mona. I take the call in the living room and keep it short, but Joel knows I’m talking about him, because when I come back I see his eye on the ax he keeps by the door. “Let’s try to minimize distractions. We have a lot of work ahead of us.” 

He can say what he wants. This is not the time to disagree. “Great. While I’m playing dress up, what are you going to do?”

“I’m going to take care of the body.”

The way he says it—so nonchalantly, like we’re having a discussion about what’s for dinner, or the fence that needs mending. It might have gone on like that for a long time, but then we hear tires on gravel. “Expecting someone?” 

A knot forms in my throat. I shake my head. 

I hear him sigh, and I feel the remaining air being sucked out of the room, out of the town, out of the universe, before I understand the reason. His jaw tightens. “What have you done?” 

I’d speak if I could. Instead, I follow his gaze out the window. I watch as the police cruiser comes barreling toward the house, and I wonder if this could finally be the end.

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