Charlie relaxed in her all white, sanitized kitchen, the only room in her apartment not purposely sprinkled with the color red. Red was her favorite color and not only because red was such a daring color, but more importantly, it was her sister's favorite color. She read through the pages of her inspirational book, This is Your Life, renewing her positive spirits with each sentence. Her blue funnel of despair was trying to tell her something: that she needed to do something, something different, no matter how outrageous. It was her recent session with Dr. Kern that offered her a new perspective. Somehow, it was during the time in his presence that new ideas came to her, and suddenly, her life didn't appear as dismal as before. She found it strange how an idea, even without all the necessary details, could stir so much excitement in her and award her so much hope.
Charlie poured herself some red wine from the bottle on the table, and just as she drew the glass to her mouth, she heard the voice of her sister, Sandy.
Charlie slammed the glass down, almost breaking it and raced into the front room. "Sandy?" Charlie stood before the hall mirror and right before her eyes, she saw the image of her beautiful sister, Sandy.
"How are you, Charlie?"
"I want you to come back, Sandy. I miss you."
"I wish I could. But I can't. Besides, you don't need me anymore."
"Yes, I do."
"You only think that you do."
Charlie was silent for a moment, soaking up the presence of her sister. "I've been thinking a lot about you. And mom. I never got a chance to tell mom how much I loved her."
"She knew you loved her," Sandy said.
"She did. She always knew."
"I will never forgive dad, though, for what he did," Charlie said. "Never."
In the midst of enjoying her sister's company, Charlie was startled by a knock at the front door. And as mysteriously as the image of Sandy appeared, it soon disappeared.
"Sandy? Sandy?" Charlie called out.
But Sandy was gone.
Again, a knock at the door echoed throughout her apartment before Charlie could reach it. Her first thought was that it might be her good friend, Lee, because anyone else would usually ring upstairs first for entrance into her building. Though her lobby door remained locked, Lee managed to always find a way upstairs without calling up first, something that remained a mystery to her.
Upon opening the door, Charlie saw no one. Instead, she spotted a pint of her favorite Vanilla Haagen-Dazs ice cream at the foot of the door and a warm smile flashed over her face. "Come on out, Lee," she said, as she picked up the ice cream.
From around the corner, Lee trotted, as only he could do, so sneakily. He was thirty-three, slightly shorter than Charlie and sported a dark Kangol hat.
Lee had been engaged to marry Charlie's sister before she passed away, and in the aftermath, he and Charlie continued to maintain a sweet and platonic friendship. Though there was much chemistry between the two, Charlie felt at odds with carrying on a relationship with someone who was once engaged to her sister. And there was something else. Though she hated to admit it, she had major reservations about dating someone shorter than she was. She would forever keep that to herself, however, the same, it was the cold hard truth.
It was her sister's engagement to Lee that connected them, and it was her sister's death that would forever keep them intimately apart.
"Hey, Sunshine," Lee said, carrying a beautifully wrapped gift box. It wasn't uncommon for Lee to bring gifts with him whenever he came to see her. Though she always welcomed his cute gifts, she found herself more concerned with his Houdini ability to bypass the security door in her lobby.
"How is it that you always manage to get up here without calling up first?" she asked him.
"There's always someone coming in or out. This is a very busy building."
As he shed his leather jacket, he kissed her lightly on the cheek.
"I didn't expect you until this weekend," Charlie said.
"As cold as it is here, I missed this city, and I missed you."
"And how is your father?"
"Fantastic as always."
Charlie sat across from Lee at the oval-shaped kitchen table, and dipped her spoon into her ice cream.
"So how have you been?" he asked her. "Have you been doing all right?"
"You act like I'm a basket case or something. I'm fine, just bored as always."
A faint, sneaky smile appeared on Lee's face. "You need a husband. That's what you need."
She licked the back of the spoon and swallowed the ice cream in her mouth. "Is that what I need?"
"It's exactly what you need."
It was no secret that she charmed him, but she never assessed his feelings as anything more than harmless flirting. After everything she endured, Lee was a good friend; a much-welcomed delight, and she didn't dare tamper with perfection.
"Well, you know what I think?" she asked him.
He slid his hand on top of hers and gently stroked the back of her hand. "No, tell me what you think."
She gazed down at his hand on hers, then flashed him a warm smile. "I think you want a wife."
The pin in Charlie's hair slipped out, and she grabbed the back of her bun. "Who would want to marry Ms. Plain Jane, anyway?" she asked, referring to herself.
"You would be surprised. He may be closer than you think. Besides that's one of the things I like about you─your natural beauty."
For a moment, she considered telling him about the visit from her sister, but fearing he might not understand, she chose not to, having shared that incident with her doctor was enough.
She smiled and admired him staring across the table at her as it was always flattering.
"You have to give it time," he said.
She didn't have a clue to what he was talking about. "Give what time?" she asked.
"Your situation, the sadness."
"Things are never comfortable at first."
"Is that what you have learned from your thirty-three years of living?"
"This is what I know because I speak from experience."
After showing incredible restraint, Charlie glanced at the psychedelic gift box on the table, and her curiosity set in. "What's in the box?"
Lee slid the box in her direction. "Open it and find out."
A warm smile lit Charlie's face as she grasped the box, thinking that it was a shame to ruin the beautifully wrapped package. Upon unwrapping it, she uncovered a red glass alarm clock with polk-a-dot numbers. "This is beautiful, Lee. Thank you."
This was an unusual gift. Having grown accustomed to the red tulips, chocolates, desserts, and even books, she couldn't help but wonder what significance a clock held. Then again, maybe it wasn't supposed to mean anything. What mattered most was that Lee had mastered the ability to make her feel so special.
Charlie lifted the clock from the box and set it on the table. Not only was it a special gift, but it was her favorite color─red. And that made it even more special.
"There's something else," he said.
Charlie gazed inside the gift box and underneath the red and white designer papers was an immaculate red-faced watch with a black leather band.
Charlie's eyes lit up with joy. "This is gorgeous."
"I know you don't wear a lot of jewelry, but this is special."
"And what makes it so special?"
"Because it's from me to you."
She didn't quite know what to say because it was such a unique collection of gifts, a clock and a watch. There was obviously some type of symbolic meaning behind it, no matter how subtle.
"Is this watch supposed to mean anything?" she asked him.
"Not really, just a gift from one friend to another."
She was no dummy. There was much more to that watch than Lee led on to believe, and though she couldn't quite figure it out that day, eventually it would all come out.
Charlie studied the watch, not certain whether to accept it or not. "It's just a friendship gift, right? It doesn't mean anything other than that?"
"Nothing else," he said.
"Well in that case, thank you." She leaned across the table and kissed him on the lips. Though it only lasted a second, it was the first time she ever shared a kiss with him on that intimate scale.
She found herself flirting with the idea of someday possibly being more than just friends with Lee, but she and Lee shared a dynamic friendship. And she didn't want to change a thing. So many other things had changed in her life, and what she valued and needed most was consistency, which would soon end if they moved in a more intimate direction.
Charlie always lacked the tolerance for intimate relationships, which explained why none of her previous relationships lasted longer than a few months. At the first sign of trouble or imperfection, she would bail out, and she didn't ever want that to happen with her and Lee.
They would be friends forever.
THREE beautiful redheads – THREE Motives – ONE Murder
Tapping into the common wish to be someone else, if only for a short time, this suspense drama explores what happens when a woman, bored with her humdrum existence dyes her hair red and takes on the persona of her late sister.
After the murder of her beloved sister, a quiet and warmhearted legal secretary, Charlie Weiss, who works for the prestigious Whitley & Austin, is in search of an escape. A few sessions with her psychologist propel her to the realization that the excitement that she seeks is in a new life, the life of her late sister.
With a daring wish to continue the wild life of her late sister, she colors her hair red and dares to reinvent herself. And with this new persona comes a different type of experience, including becoming one of three redhead suspects to a murder.
“This whodunit suspense drama will keep you guessing until the last page.”–Elance book editor
Parker Paige has been writing fiction for several years with a passion for creating eccentric characters. She is fascinated with true stories and for that reason, she is drawn to the network Investigation Discovery like a drug. She is the author of “The Color Pink” and “Whitley and Austin.” She is not completely insane, maybe just a little bit crazy. She lives in Los Angeles.
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Genre - Romantic Suspense
Rating – PG-13
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