Graveyard Shifts: A Pat Wyatt Novel

BOOK: Graveyard Shifts: A Pat Wyatt Novel
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Copyright © 2012 Laura Del
All rights reserved.

ISBN: 1-4800-8844-7

ISBN-13: 9781480088443

eBook ISBN: 978-1-62347-996-1

Library of Congress Control Number: 2012919288

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform,

North Charleston, South Carolina

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Prologue

They say that the graveyard shift refers to a time when doctors didn’t know whether a person was dead or just on the line between life and death. Because of this mistake, people used to tie strings to a corpse’s wrist, connected to a bell aboveground, so that if the person was alive, they could dig them up. How would they know? Well, they had a man watch the graves, so that if a bell rang they could spring into action.

Of course, this is an urban legend. People like to be scared. But the scariest thing of all is that I’ve had dreams about being the person who dug up the graves, only to find that I’ve come face-to-face with a sleeping human being. And with a closer look, I see that it’s me.

This is when I find myself being buried alive, trying to claw my way out of the coffin. And as scary as it seems, no one can wake me up from this nightmare, and no matter how hard I scream, no one ever hears me.

Then one day I found someone who would dig me out of the hole in order to push me into another nightmare entirely.

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chapter

ONE

I’ve been told that I’m a woman of many words and phrases.

I pretty much have to be, considering I’m a freelance writer.

Oh, excuse me for being so rude. I should have told you my name first. It’s Patricia Anne Wyatt, but people who know me well call me Pat.

Now that I told you my name, I can tell you that I am not really freelance as I said before. What I actually am is a fill-in magazine article writer, but freelance always sounds so much nicer. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my job. Most of the time. However, what I really want I do, what spins my wheels, is writing
real
news, not just “Ten Things You Should Look for in a Guy” or “How to Make Your Boobs Look Bigger.” And when I first started writing, that’s what I did for my hometown newspaper. I wrote actual news, not crazy things for blogs or advice, but actual draw you in a grab you news.

My career started in my hometown Danville, which is a small town in Pennsylvania. The news wasn’t too deep or important to the rest of the world, but to the people in town, it was their world. As for me, well, I was their go-to high school sports gal, and about a month after I started, my boss told me that I should expand my horizons. So I took her advice and sent my articles to some of the top newspapers and magazines in New York City. Then as if by some sort of magic, I got a phone call from a magazine editor asking me to write an article about my small-town existence.

I had always considered my life and everything in it to be small town, so I was willing and able to write anything they wanted, just so long as I got away from a place where everyone knew whom I did and did not sleep with. After my article was published, another editor called to tell me that he wanted me to write for his magazine, but first I would have to move to New York.

I didn’t care if I had to write obituaries for the rest of my life. When the opportunity presented itself, I lunged at it.

I guess you could say after that a star was born. Every editor wanted a piece of me, and I wanted a place in the news. However, what I got was a call every now and again asking me if I could substitute for their major “how to” writers.

Over four years and two-thousand-plus articles later, I’m almost twenty-seven years old and proud to call myself a New Yorker. The loudness, sights, and musty smells of this magnificent city get better every day. As Gene Kelly once sang, “New York, New York, it’s a wonderful town.” And how much better can it get when you wake up to a car alarm in the middle of the night or hear someone across the street screaming at his girlfriend in a drunken stupor? Even then, it’s all worthwhile, and it helps that my job gives me great hours and I don’t have to work in a beige cubicle.

With all that being said, when the editor I wound up working with, Joseph Stiles, called on an unseasonably hot Sunday night in October asking if I could do a piece on the best diners in the state of New York, I was all too willing to oblige. Joey’s a pleasant sort of fellow, and I like working for him, so if he wanted me to travel, it wasn’t a problem. Just not alone. That was a “nope, no way, uh-uh, was never in a million years going to happen” moment. That’s when I called my designated best friend, Christina Iglesias, who is lovingly known as Tina to me but Chrissie to everybody else.

We had met around the same time that I moved to the city, which was good considering I didn’t know anyone. It was a miracle that I had gone to the YWCA and found her flyer looking for a roommate. It was also seer unadulterated luck that I was the only one who called. Therefore, I was the one to get the room. After that, of course, we became fast friends, and our relationship has blossomed into what it is today: nearly sisters. Besides that, she is the only one who is allowed to call me Patty, and I’m the only one who is allowed to refer to her as Tina.

We know everything there is to know about each other. Like the time that my sister put gum in my hair and I had a bald spot for two weeks or the time that Tina jumped off a jungle gym and broke her arm because she thought she could fly. To get to my point, we know each other like the backs of our hands. She means the world to me, and I like to think that I mean the same to her.

In looks, Tina is top drawer. As for me, I would only go as far to say that I’m attractive to mostly weirdo’s and immature morons laughingly known as men. Anyhow, going back to Tina, she has a wonderful personality, which matches her beauty. Unfortunately, she doesn’t always know how to use it. But she
is
always good for a road trip. So when I called her to say I had a not-so-interesting assignment to do, she was into it.

“Oh my God, are you serious?” she asked very loudly over the phone. Her Brooklyn accent gets high and whiny when she’s excited. “Of course, I’ll go with you! As long as there’s food, I’m in.” You have to love her enthusiasm. I know I do.

I swear, sometimes that woman really amazes me. For example, she wins people over by telling them that she’s related to Enrique Iglesias, which is a total lie. Although, there was this one time she got us front-row seats and backstage passes to one of his sold-out concerts, but I digress.

Monday morning came around, as it usually does when you don’t want it to, and I pulled up in front of Tina’s apartment building around seven. She looked like she was going away for a month. The woman had three bags fully packed, knowing her they were probably all filled with makeup, and all of them one-of-a-kind Louis Vuitton.

I sighed, hanging my head. “Tina, we’re only going away for a day. What’s with armory?”

She threw her bags in the backseat of my small black Jetta, closed the door, and squashed her long, tan legs in the passenger side. “Oh, sweetie,” she huffed, shutting the door behind her, “you just don’t understand.”

When she put on her seatbelt, I noticed that her perfect body was clad in a low-cut top, short skirt, and the highest pair of heels, I’d ever seen. All were in different shades of pink, from the lightest shade of her top, to the darkest shade of her heels. It seemed as though she was ready for a date or something. She always did overdress.

I sighed. “You’re absolutely right. I don’t understand.” I pulled the car slowly into traffic, and I readjusted the subject away from my inexperience with feminine necessity. “Did you do something with your hair?”

“Yeah.” She turned in her seat, beaming toward me. “Do you like it?” She swung it around her shoulders for an extra effect.

“It’s…” I considered slowly and carefully. I didn’t want to offend her. “Blonde. But it sets off your beautiful golden skin, and it makes your brown eyes pop. Also, the layers hit your strong jaw rather nicely, and the side-swept bang brings out your delicate nose.”

She raised one perfectly waxed black brow at me. “Was that a compliment?” she asked, confused.

I nodded. “Yes. Yes, it was.”

“You’re such a writer.” She playfully pushed my shoulder. “But thanks.”

I shrugged, paying closer attention to the road. “Welcome.”

“So,” she said excitedly, “where to first?”

I rolled my eyes at her eagerness to ingest pie and hash browns. This wouldn’t exactly be fun, but it would be enjoyable. For the most part.

Our last stop of the night was a small diner right outside of North Jersey. I was so exhausted that I didn’t think I could get out of the car, let alone eat anything.

Tina sighed, pleased and dog-tired. “Thank God! I think I gained like ten pounds at that last place.”

“Stop it.” I gently hit her arm. “You are so skinny.” I paused, rolling my neck around until it cracked. “Besides,” I huffed, rolling my eyes, “I told you not to eat that second piece of cheesecake.”

“I know,” she whined, “but it was, like,
so
good! You didn’t eat practically anything all day. I’m
so
jealous right now.”

My stiff arm opened the car door, and I said, “That’s because I taste. I don’t inhale.”

Finally, we got out of my car, slowly making our way to the diner doors. Once inside, I noticed that the place was barren, so we were seated quickly. I would have thought a place like this would have been packed at midnight. Our waitress, whose nametag said Pam, was an older woman with gray hair piled high on top of her head and glasses on a rope. She was not happy that we were interrupting her slow night, so she just took our orders and wobbled out of sight.

All of a sudden, Tina pouted. “You know,” she said, “I think you should get married.” This was the sixth time today this woman had mentioned the words “you” and “married” in the same sentence.

I could feel my jaw tighten. “If I’ve told you once, I will tell you a million times,” I whispered heatedly. “No.”

“What?” she asked in her innocent baby voice.

“Don’t set me up,” I clarified. “Because I will kill you this time.”

“Last time wasn’t so bad.” She protested.

I took a deep breath. “Last time the man was an ex-con who tried to convince me into buying stock in a company that didn’t exist. You’re lucky I
Googled
him.”

She bounced up and down in her seat like a kid not getting her way. “Patty,” she whined, “come on! It was a fluke, and I’ve said that I was sorry about a million times. Please?”

“No, no, and, for the last time, no!”

Just as Pam came to fill our coffee cups, the door to the diner swung open, and in came a very tall, dark-haired man. He had to be over the six-foot marker (six-foot-three would’ve been my guess), with broad shoulders and a muscularly lean body. His skin was a silky olive, his face was that of a
GQ
model, and his eyes were of the brightest blue, which were only enhanced by the all black he was wearing, right down to his shoes.

However, the thing that really caught my attention was a 1950s leather jacket slung over his shoulder. I found that odd, considering how hot and humid it was outside. It had to be least eighty degrees, which seemed excessively warm for a jacket with a thick lining like that one.

“Wow.” Tina turned around following my gaze. “He’s
gorgeous
.” She had broken my concentration with her high-pitched squeal, and abruptly I looked away. But, of course, she had to stare at him until he sat in the booth right across from us.

I banged on the tabletop in order to get her attention. “Hello,” I said, the word coming out in an intense whispered. “Earth to Tina. Stop staring. He’ll think you’re an idiot, or worse, just plain desperate.”

“I heard that.” She turned, leaning in for more privacy. “But I’m not the only one that’s staring.”

“Oh, goodie for you,” I said with as much sarcasm as I could muster. “He wants to get in your pants.”

“Not mine,” she sung off key. “He’s staring at you.”

I rolled my eyes at the idea that he’d even noticed me. “No, he’s not. No man with a villainous face is going to stare at me. Not if I can help it.”

“You are
so
cynical,” she said. Then she turned toward him again, putting on her million-watt smile and batting her eyelashes, while she flaunted her low cut top in his direction. “He’s coming over here.” She bounced in her chair, smiling excitedly.

I circled my index finger in the air as if to say, “Woohoo.”

“Smile and be nice!” she hissed at me, and in the same breath she turned to him, saying, “Hi there.” She pointed her tanned breasts at him. “How may I service you?” she asked, and my eyes widened. I could not believe that a grown woman had just said something so idiotic. I shook my head, hiding my face in my hands. One thing was for sure: Tina just loved to embarrass me.

“It seems,” his deep voice sent a shiver down my spine, “my table does not have any ketchup. Would you mind terribly if I borrowed yours?”

Tina twirled her hair like a drooling teenager, saying, “You can have anything you’d like.”

While she stared at him like a drooling fool, I picked up the bottle and pushed it at him, and when his hand touched mine, our eyes met.

His icy blue stare was so intense it made my heart skip a beat, while his face was so handsome that looking at it was starting to hurt my eyes. That perfect nose, that straight-as-an-arrow jaw, and that bowed mouth, just made his face borderline perfect.

That’s when a silent warning went off in my head, and I broke the stare as quickly as I could. He turned slightly, giving Tina this pathetic excuse of a smile, with just the edges of his mouth tilted upward, which actually looked like it hurt. And when he backed away to sit in his booth, his eyes never left our table.

“Wow,” Tina squealed softly. “He’s so into you. At least smile at him.”

“Let me think on that.” I placed my chin on my fist, pretending to be in deep thought. “No.”

“Do it, or I’ll take the car and leave you here,” she threatened, but I knew she’d never do something so vicious.

I narrowed my eyes at her. “You don’t have the keys.” I tried to call her bluff, but she jingled them in my face. I was wrong about the vicious thing. My eyes widened. “How in the—”

“One of my many talents,” she gloated innocently. “Now smile!”

“Fine,” I hissed at her, turning the corners of my mouth up, trying to show a bit of my teeth. It wasn’t a pleasant look, but it was the best I had.

“Now turn so he can see it.” She gestured toward him, and I narrowed my eyes at her again. But she jingled the keys, so I did as I was told, nodding at him for an extra effect.

When he didn’t do the same, I wiped that ridiculous thing off my face and turned around. That’s when our waitress dropped off his food, and she left him beaming.

I waved her down. “Excuse me, miss?” She turned slightly toward me. “We ordered before he did, and—”

“Keep your shirt on, sweetie. It’s comin’.” Pam wobbled away, winking in his direction.

I grabbed my handbag off the back of the chair and stood in a rush. I was fuming. “I’m going to go to the hotel,” I hissed. “You take the car. Suddenly I’ve lost my appetite.”

Tina looked baffled by how annoyed I was. “All right, babe, will do.” And with that, I walked out.

Once outside, my mind went reeling. I needed a taxi, and fast.

Few past, and instead of hailing them, my thoughts somehow turned to him—that man. That strange man got to me. He had gotten under my skin, and I wondered why. “I am such an idiot,” I yelled at myself. Why did I think it would be different—because I actually felt something toward him? All men are alike. They flirt to get what they want while we have to beg. Finally, I managed to yell, “Taxi!”

BOOK: Graveyard Shifts: A Pat Wyatt Novel
4.14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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