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Authors: Cheryel Hutton

Tags: #Paranormal, #Fantasy, #Contemporary, #small town

Secrets of Ugly Creek

BOOK: Secrets of Ugly Creek
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Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

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Thank you for purchasing this publication of The Wild Rose Press, Inc.

Secrets

Of

Ugly Creek

by

Cheryel Hutton

Ugly Creek Series, Book 2

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.

Secrets of Ugly Creek

COPYRIGHT © 2014 by Cheryel Hutton

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press, Inc. except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

Contact Information: [email protected]

Cover Art by
Debbie Taylor

The Wild Rose Press, Inc.

PO Box 708

Adams Basin, NY 14410-0708

Visit us at www.thewildrosepress.com

Publishing History

First Faery Rose Edition, 2014

Digital ISBN 978-1-62830-311-7

Ugly Creek Series, Book 2

Published in the United States of America

Dedication

To Ricky, my real life hero. I love you!

 

Chapter 1

Sweet home Ugly Creek.

I marched, heels clicking on the cracked sidewalk, toward the portable stage near the front steps of the three-story, red brick, historic courthouse of my quirky little hometown. On the courthouse grounds, around the area of the stage on which the ceremonies would take place, the mayor and other dignitaries shuffled, shook hands, and slapped each other on the back. The good old boys were in all their glory.

I was dressed professionally in my gray Theory suit, white blouse, and my new red Jimmy Choos (I got them on sale. Score!). Now if I could just get somebody to listen to what I had to say.

Just then, a big, inflated, toy UFO came flying out of nowhere and clocked me on the head. I stepped backward, my heels sank into the ground, and in seconds I was sprawled on my back in a puddle of cold, squishy, yucky mud. Welcome home.

A tiny dog came out of nowhere, leaped onto my chest, and looked into my eyes. “Good, you’re finally here,” he said, then jumped off and scrambled away.

Did that dog just talk to me? This had to be a dream—or nightmare. Maybe I’d hit my head.

“Are you all right?”

I looked up toward the voice, afraid of what I’d see, relieved there was a human leaning over me—until I realized who he was. His handsome face was familiar, thanks to all the news photos I’d seen of him. I gotta say, flat on my back and covered in mud was definitely not the position I wanted to be in when I met him.

“I’m fine,” I said. My smile probably wasn’t great, but it was the best I could do under the circumstances. Gibson “Mac” McFain was a tall man with black hair and a five o’clock shadow that was probably deliberate. He was dressed in khakis and a dark blue polo shirt, and, yeah, he was handsome. More the good looks of an actor than a producer of documentaries.

He held out a hand, and I had little choice but to let him pull me to my feet. The sucking sound as I disengaged with the mud had my face going hot. He didn’t seem to notice, though. He just stood there holding my hand and smiling at me. I could feel the strength in his grip, and he’d lifted me out without difficulty. He was well-built, but then he probably haunted the gym. Most in-the-public-eye types did. “Thank you, Mr. McFain,” I said.

“Please, call me Mac.”

“Madison,” I said. “Madison Clark from
Capitol Spy Weekly
.”

He abruptly let go of my hand. “Oh good grief, why would they send a reporter from
Capitol Spy Weekly
?”

Cold mud slid down the back of my expensive suit, increasing my irritation. McFain knew damn well why I was there. I managed a smile. “
Capitol Spy Weekly
readers want to know what you’re up to. After all, you’re the guy who blew the lid off the Carson corruption scandal.”

“And you’re never going to let me forget it.” He turned and walked away, leaving me standing there wondering what got into his undies.

McFain had never shied from the spotlight. In fact, he’d spent his career being front and center.
Men
. I sighed.

To one side, I saw Ace Ellison, local photojournalist and devoted rescuer of animals, scooping up the little dog that had been on my chest. I glanced down, and sure enough, there were muddy paw prints. Not that it mattered, since there was mud all over my back and arms, squishing between my fingers, and caked in my long hair. But then, how I looked didn’t matter, it was what I had to say that counted.

I looked toward the front near the portable stage, and quickly spotted the man I needed to speak with. My plan had been to present a professional image in an effort to be taken seriously. That plan was shot. Still, as rough as I looked and felt, I was on a mission that wouldn’t wait. Even though my back and arms were covered in mud, I pulled up my big-girl thongs and hurried over the sidewalk to get to my target before the proceedings started. “Mayor Stump, I’m Madison Clark. Do you remember me?”

His eyes lit up. “Of course I do, you’re Virgil Clark’s little girl.”

I forced a smile. “Not so little anymore.”

He took in my disheveled appearance. “Bless your heart. What happened?”

“I slipped.” I smiled for all I was worth and willed him to ignore the mud. “Do you have a minute?”

“Sure, what can I do for you, honey?”

Not call me honey
. “I have some concerns about the effect this documentary will have on our town.”

“Oh heavens, don’t be concerned.” His lips widened in a condescending smile. “This movie to-do is going to bring tourists with money to spend. Our little town will grow like kudzu.”

“But.” I leaned closer and lowered my voice. “There are things outsiders don’t need to know about.”

He laughed. The crazy man actually laughed. “Honey, Ugly Creek’s been keeping secrets for almost three hundred years. I think we can handle a little documentary and the money it’ll bring.”

He turned to greet a state senator. With a sigh, my Jimmy Choos and I drifted back into the crowd. Well, that had worked well. The mayor had treated me with respect and listened to what I had to say. Yes, I’m sarcastic even in my own head.

Pull yourself together, you have a job to do
. Next on the agenda was to find a certain local photographer. I carefully headed toward him, watching out for random flying objects as I went. “Ace.” I stuck out my hand. “I’m Madison Clark; I contacted you about working with me.”

“Yeah, I remember. I’m not interested in working for tabloids.”

Irritation sprinted up my spine and kicked up my chin. “
Capitol Spy Weekly
is not a tabloid.”

He shrugged. “I’m not going to argue. I’m picky about the jobs I do, and I don’t want this one.”

The irritation grew claws. “Then why didn’t you get back to me to let me know?”

He shrugged again. This guy was getting on my last nerve. “I was busy.”

“Then why are you here?”

“Newspaper. I work for them.”

“You can’t use all the pictures. Give me a couple and make a few extra dollars. We can publish them under another name, if you want.”

“I really don’t think—”

“Please don’t leave me hanging like this. At least let me have something to go with my first report. Then, I’ll have a chance to get another photographer.”

“It’s not my fault you’re sans photo-person.”

“Ace, please.” I didn’t like the desperation in my voice.

He studied me for a moment. “Oh, all right. Two shots, that’s all.”

“Thank you.”

He turned and walked away.

A crowd was gathering around the stage, so I followed. As I waited for the speeches to begin, a strong breeze blew from around the corner of the building. The air was chilly for early September in Tennessee, and felt downright cold on my still wet—and muddy—clothes. Blasted humidity. Standing out here I’d be wet until April.

Slowly, the dignitaries gathered on the long, narrow stage. Ugly Creek’s not-so-illustrious mayor walked up to the microphone. “Ladies and gentlemen. Today we are fortunate to have with us one of the most talented documentarians of our time. It is an honor that he has chosen Ugly Creek to be one of the featured towns in his new work, a series of documentaries called
Corners of the Appalachians
. And now, I would like to introduce this fine producer and person, Mr. Gibson McFain.”

He smiled, and I felt my breath suck in. He
was
handsome. The rat.

“I don’t know that I deserve such high praise,” he said. “I simply want to allow the public to see places they’ve never seen and learn things they didn’t know before. With this series of films, I plan to select a few towns nestled among the hills and valleys of the Appalachian Mountains to highlight. My idea is to break stereotypes and show the beauty of both the scenery and the people of this area. I’m excited to be here in Ugly Creek for the next two weeks. I know many of you are interested in how documentaries are made, but please understand our people are going to be too busy to answer questions. I hope you will enjoy our stay.”

“Isn’t it true that all the other documentaries you’ve produced were exposés?” I asked. “The secrets revealed in the Carson film put her husband in a mental hospital and provoked a heart attack that almost killed the senator.”

McFain turned to look at me, adjusting black framed glasses as he did. His face revealed nothing, but I caught the flash of anger in his eyes. “My aim is to unveil the truth about the subject of my investigation. It isn’t my job to coddle the objects of scrutiny.”

I bit back the anger and concentrated on professionalism, a topic he could learn something about. “So you don’t care what you did to those people?”

His dark eyes searched mine. “Of course I care about the people, but what they did, they did to themselves. All I did was report what I discovered.”

The young female reporter from the
Ugly Creek Gazette
asked before I could. “Are you looking for some sort of dark secrets in Ugly Creek and the other towns you’re putting in your new documentaries?”

“No. This is a different type of film. I want to showcase a handful of odd, out of the way little towns that have personality and are fascinating all by themselves. There’s no need for secrets.”

“How is your film going to be different from a PBS special?” I asked.

“I’d be delighted to be featured on PBS,” he said.

“Really?” I narrowed my eyes at him.

“Yes, I would. To answer your real question, which seems to be what’s different about this particular series, my films aren’t going to be histories or overviews of large areas. My vision for the films is an in-depth picture of the sights, sounds, people, and culture of a select few places. I plan to highlight the similarities and differences both between the towns themselves and the stereotypical Appalachian rural landscape. I’d like to leave viewers with the feeling they’ve actually been to these places. That they were privy to things not normally seen or heard on a vacation trip.”

I didn’t believe him, but I didn’t push the issue. I’d wait until he made the wrong move, and then figure out what to do. Hopefully it wouldn’t be too late.

There were a few more questions, then the whole bunch of big shots hit the catered drinks and snacks while slapping each other on the back.

I wanted to head for home, but there was one thing I had to do first. “Ace.”

“Yeah.” He barely glanced my way.

“I’m holding you to your word.”

BOOK: Secrets of Ugly Creek
2.02Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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