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Laurel Lamperd - Writer
Short Stories
Short Stories
The Battle for Boodicuttup Creek
Wind from Danyari
Crossroads at Isca
Murder Among the Roses
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The Ink Drinkers
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Substitute Bride

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My friends used to say I had one of the best cooking jobs in the world. And I suppose I did. What could beat working as a chef to the rich and famous on the big game fishing boat, the sleek and beautiful White Witch? She had ten luxury cabins and two large staterooms for paying guests. Painted white, she looked a shining jewel on a turquoise sea when I first saw her.

I will always remember the trip chartered by Nelson Blackman, the well-known millionaire. You really get to know people in the small confines of a boat, not that the White Witch was classed as a small boat.

Nelson Blackman turned out to be one of the biggest blackguards I had met. I had begun a friendship with Bart, a young university student who was one of the deck hands. Nelson Blackman in a fit of pure nastiness, blamed poor Bart for losing a fish off the line that Nelson Blackman had managed to hook and gave it to Bart to bring it in. Blackman flew into a rage, mouthing obscenities at poor Bart and insisting the skipper sack him when we arrived back in port. The skipper had no option, but to agree. For Bart it was a disaster. He was trying to earn enough money during the holidays to help him through the next university semester.

“It’s my bet he hadn’t caught a fish,” Bart said while we stood together under the brilliant black sky and the Southern Cross constellation. There wasn’t a fish on the line when I took over. It was very slack. I'd push the bastard overboard if I could get away with it.” The lights of the well-lit boat reflected against the surface of the water while the sea surged along beside us.

I offered to lend him some money, but he refused, saying, “You’ll need all your savings while you write your cookbook.” I had told him about my ambition to put the recipes I had perfected while on the White Witch into a book. “I’m halfway through towards being a civil engineer so I should be able to get another job.” Bart’s chin nudged the top of my head

The person I really felt sorry for was Ann Maree, the musical star and singer. I had come across her weeping her eyes out and asked her if there was anything I could do.

She shook her head, then she told me how Nelson Blackman was blackmailing her into staying on the White Witch after her new husband, Martin Letterman, was returning home to make preparations to play in the Australian Open.

“Why don't you go with him?” I didn’t know why she put up with Nelson. She was a big star and had played in England and on Broadway in New York.

“I daren't. Nelson can be very vindictive. Martin would be terribly upset if he knew Nelson and I had once had a relationship.”

To say I was stunned at this information was putting it mildly. She had made the mistake of having an affair with Nelson Blackman when she was nineteen. “Now he says he’ll tell Martin if I don’t help him out with entertaining his guests.” Ann Maree sniffed and wiped her eyes with the tissue I handed her. “I suppose I owe Nelson something. He got me my break by putting money into a musical and persuading the director to give me a small part. I thought he was wonderful. He was like a father figure to me and I lapped it up, then I met Martin and the stars exploded. I told Nelson I wanted to break off our relationship. It was then I discovered his nasty side.”

I suspected Nelson Blackman planned to inveigle her into sleeping with him again. She was such a gentle natured girl with a huge talent. Just as well she was married to Martin who looked like he would make sure no one took advantage or her. That is, if he knew what Nelson Blackman was up to. I toyed with the idea of telling Martin, but pushed away the thought for now. Martin mightn’t believe she and Nelson Blackman hadn't continued their relationship. It had been Ann Marie who had accepted Nelson Blackman’s invitation for them both. I could see how she detested him. I suppose Ann Marie had dug a hole to bury herself. I wanted to advise the poor girl to let Blackman do his worst and go back with Martin. If Nelson told Martin about his and Ann Maree’s affair, I hoped Martin would give him a bloody nose and throw him overboard.

“I’d like to kill him and throw him overboard... Read the rest in mysteries, ?Dreams and Darkness Anthology


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Coming of Age – excerpt

It had taken all morning for Sarah to find courage to tell her mother, Vanessa, that her application into nursing college had been accepted. She waited until her Vanessa had her morning shower, dressed and put on her makeup, then she said in her most casual voice, "They've accepted me into nursing college, Mum."

If it were funny, she would have laughed at her mother’s shocked expression. Vanessa sank in a heap on the dark red velvet lounge. "I thought we'd agreed it wouldn't be suitable for you to be a nurse."

You had agreed, thought Sarah. Not me. She shook her head. "No. I said I was going to apply to the college. And I did. And they accepted me."

“What will Paul say?”

"I’m going to release him from our engagement. It wouldn’t be fair to expect him to wait four years before we married.”

"Why can’t you marry Paul and also train to be a nurse, though why you want to, I’ll never know. Paul earns more than enough to support you."

Her mother would never understand, Sarah thought. She didn’t want her mother’s life: marrying rich men, and then divorcing them and receiving large marriage settlements. Her mother seemed to have turned it into a career, though she couldn’t blame her mother for the ending of her last marriage. Her husband was away more often than he was home, travelling the world, making even more money. “I’ve always wanted to be a nurse."

Vanessa stopped accusing and became persuasive. "It's not a suitable job for you, darling. You're much too delicate. You'd faint at the first sight of blood."

Sarah hadn't fainted when she was twelve years old and the little boy next door had cut his foot and blood had spurted everywhere. She bandaged the child’s food with a length of clean white sheet and persuaded his near hysterical mother to drive him to hospital.

"You’ll never get anyone like Paul,” Vanessa warned. “A successful young lawyer like him won’t wait around for you. There’s plenty of women ready to snap him up."

Sarah knew that, but she also knew if she gave up her ambition to be a nurse and married Paul, she would always regret it... continue reading in Romance of My Dreams

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