She looked nervous.
That was my first impression as I watched her for a moment from the entryway of the Cherry Hills Country Club restaurant.
“May I help you, sir?” a hostess in dark slacks and a white blouse asked me.
“I’m meeting someone,” I said, then gestured at the woman, who was sitting near a window across the room.
“Ah, yes. Are you Reed Ferguson?”
“Mrs. Evans is expecting you.”
She escorted me to Mrs. Evans’s table, then said to her, “Your guest has arrived.”
Mrs. Evans thanked the hostess, then indicated I should sit down.
I introduced myself and she smiled.
“Call me Brenda.”
She discreetly sized me up, probably wondering how could this brown-haired guy with boring hazel eyes be a private investigator.
If my guess was correct, Brenda Evans was in her fifties. That was maybe ten years or so younger than my mother, but you wouldn’t have known it by looking at her. Her cream-colored pantsuit hung loosely on her thin frame, her cheeks were hollow, and her short blond hair had a strange quality I couldn’t put my finger on.
“I’ve met you before, but it was a long time ago,” she said.
“I’m sorry, I don’t remember.”
“When your parents lived in Denver, we golfed here at the club with them.”
I nodded, letting her ease into the conversation. A waiter came over and asked if I wanted something to drink. Brenda was sipping coffee, but that wasn’t generally my style, and I asked for a Coke. He nodded and scurried away. It was after one on a beautiful September day, and the restaurant was quiet, only a few other diners in the room. The murmur of their conversations drifted into the background as Brenda and I talked.
“I talked to your mother the other day on the phone and was telling her about my … situation,” she said, “and she suggested I contact you.”
I leaned in a bit. “I’m happy to help if I can.”
“Your mother speaks very highly of you. She says you’re quite the detective.”
“That’s nice to hear.”
And it was. My parents had been slow to warm up to the idea of my being a private investigator, but now that I had been in the business for several years, they were coming around. Brenda interrupted my thoughts.
“But she does say that she worries about your getting into dangerous situations.”
There it is, I thought. That was the one thing with my mother that wouldn’t go away. She always assumed that when I was working on a case, somehow I would end up getting hurt. I’m sure she was sitting on the balcony of her Florida condo right now, wondering what kind of precarious situation I was in.
Brenda smiled. “I assure you, there’s nothing dangerous in what I’m asking you to do.”
“Okay,” I said. “What do you need?”
“I want you to get a message to my daughter.”
I watched her twist a gold ring on a bony finger. The waiter returned with my Coke and asked if I wanted anything to eat. Brenda wasn’t eating, so I declined.
“We – my husband, Joel, and I,” she continued after the waiter left, “haven’t had contact with her in months. She barely talks to us.” Sadness spread across her pale face.
“What’s her name?”
“Sally. I don’t think you ever met her.”
I couldn’t recall if I had. “Tell me about her.”
About Nightmare Sally
Reed Ferguson’s latest case could be a nightmare!
When Brenda Evans asks private investigator Reed Ferguson to deliver a message to her estranged daughter, Sally, Reed thinks this will be the easiest case he’s ever had. Unfortunately, Sally has moved without leaving a forwarding address. When Reed finally finds Sally, she happens to be the prime suspect in a murder. Sally claims she’s innocent, and Brenda wants Reed to prove it.
Reed’s investigation leads him through the seedy side of Denver, involving ex-cons, a masked social media personality, and back to Sally, who has secrets of her own. One thing is certain: danger is at every turn as Reed hunts for the killer.
Nightmare Sally is a suspense-filled mystery, with a Bogie-wannabe detective, a lots of humor, and a clever homage to film noir. From the award-wining author of This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies. Great for fans who love a fast-paced, humorous read, without a lot of swearing or sex.
Published this week on Amazon.
About the author
Renée Pawlish is the award-winning author of the bestselling Reed Ferguson mystery series, horror bestseller Nephilim Genesis of Evil, The Noah Winters YA Adventure series, middle-grade historical novel This War We’re In, Take Five, a short story collection, and
The Sallie House: Exposing the Beast Within, a nonfiction account of a haunted house investigation.
Renée has been called “a promising new voice to the comic murder mystery genre” and “a powerful storyteller”. Nephilim Genesis of Evil has been compared to Stephen King and Frank Peretti.
Renée was born in California, but has lived most of her life in Colorado.
Renée can be found:
And follow her on Twitter @ReneePawlish.