Poisoned Promises, the first book in my new series The Prairie Crime Thriller Series. An engaging thriller mystery with some interesting twists. Enjoy!
Poisoned Promises Book Blurb
It’s not only illegal… it’s lethal.
Bryana has only come home to find someone to work with her disabled mother. She soon discovers however that she still has a burning anger at her father who abandoned them years before. It’s time he pays with his precious company, Pratner Fertilizer.
Lee hates Pratner Fertilizer. They killed his father and now, almost his uncle. Going undercover he uses the heir to get a job with the company.
Bryana believes she can use Lee to get answers and to take down her father. Only she discovers there is a whole lot more to his company than making and selling fertilizer. Her father has been developing a deadly chemical for years and has made millions off of it. How are they going to stop a man who has paid off government officials? Who knows how to play the game?
Poisoned Promises a new novel in The Prairie Crime Thriller Series.
Below, read the first few chapters.
“Doctor, what is going on? What happened?” Meredith demanded. Or tried to but her voice was somewhat garbled. Wilson Sr. pressed his hand to her shoulder, trying to calm her. She’d been in that hospital bed for five days. In and out over the last year, but this time it looked like her health had taken a turn for the worse. The first few days were spent saving her life but, now that she seemed to be out of the woods on that score, the questions were starting.
The doctor looked barely old enough to be out of college, but he was well respected in his field. Or so they’d been told.
“You’ve had a stroke.” That seemed to be the doctor’s response any time Meredith tried to talk. He didn’t seem to think she’d comprehended that fact yet.
“How? I’m not even forty years old? It’s not normal, right? I can’t feel anything on my left side. Will that come back?”
Wilson winced at the sounds coming out of Meredith’s mouth. His once very articulate wife was struggling to make sense. Taking a stab at what she had tried to say, he asked, “Any news on why this happened? Will she gain anything back or is this it?” He kept his eyes from straying to her basically dead left side. She didn’t seem to be able to move or feel anything there.
The doctor looked down at the clipboard he was holding. “We’re going to do some more tests. It is unusual but not unheard of for someone your age to have a stroke.”
Meredith burst into tears. She’d been doing that a lot. That part of her body still seemed to work just fine. Wilson squeezed her hand. He was in shock, too. His beautiful wife had changed almost overnight. Her health issues had been that she’d seemed more tired than normal. She’d had an upset stomach. She’d had headaches. She’d had tingling in her fingers. That had been one thing, but this? Unlike the doctor, though, Wilson had a good idea what had brought this on. Not that he was going to share it. But it would change everything. He’d been hoping he was wrong. In fact, he’d even tried to convince her not to go to work for a while.
His wife continued to cry ugly tears. Her face, at least the right side, was blotchy and scrunched up. The left side was untouched. Unmoving. It wasn’t a pretty sight.
She started speaking but whatever she was saying came out like a growl that was all garbled. “What can you do about it? I’m too young for this? What kind of treatment is there? Why? Why me? I have children. How can I raise them like this?” With her right arm, she picked up her left arm and let it drop. It flopped back onto the bed, like a dead weight.
“Can she have something to settle her down?” Wilson asked the doctor, ignoring his wife’s garbled vehemence, probably telling them she didn’t want anything. “Shh. It’s okay. Let me talk to the doctor.”
“What are we going to tell the kids?”
All he understood was kids, but he was quite sure he knew what she was asking. It was something he didn’t know. Their children were a tweenager and a teenager, so they were in that mixed stage of needing her and wanting her to give them space. He wasn’t home much; he had a business to run that took up almost all of his waking hours. His wife had spent hours there too, but only when the kids were at school or sleeping.
Meredith kept blubbering on. He held her hand but really couldn’t help but look at his watch. He’d already been at the hospital for a few hours. The business could run fine without him, but he wasn’t sure he could run fine without it.
“Mom. Mom.” Eleven-year-old Bryana came bounding into the room and immediately sat on the edge of the bed. She peered at her mother with youthful curiosity, not quite understanding what was going on. She’d been asking a ton of questions and demanding to see her mother. “Are you okay?”
“Get down from there.” Wilson grabbed her and pulled her off the bed, despite his wife’s mewling protest. As soon as the girl’s feet hit the floor, she turned and hugged her mom as best she could and then laid her head beside her mom’s.
“Give your mom some space.”
“She’s fine,” Meredith said as she used her good arm to hug her daughter. “Where’s Wil?”
Bryana seemed to understand her mother’s words. “He’s hiding by the door. It’s okay, you can come in.” Bryana waved at her older brother. Reluctantly, her thirteen-year-old brother made his way to the bed. Their father watched it all with a sense of dread. Glancing at his Rolex, another day lost or part of a day. All because his wife was lying in this hospital bed.
A throat clearing sound caught his attention. He turned. His least favorite person, his mother-in-law stood there looking defiantly at him. Clamping his jaw shut, he stepped out of the way, letting the rest of the family get near his wife. The nurse finally came back to give Meredith a sedative. Leaving his kids with his wife, he went in search of the doctor. He was standing by the nursing station.
“Any ideas what happened?” Wilson needed to know what they knew.
The doctor mentioned pretty much what he had said in the room. While he talked, he lifted his right hand and moved his fingers as though it helped with his explanation. All Wilson got out of his explanation was that so far they really had no clue but would do what they could to find out. Wilson gave a silent internal sigh of relief.
“Will she get the function on her left side back?”
“We really don’t know how much she’ll gain back, but we have seen a lot of progress in individuals who have ischemic strokes. Which is the type we believe she had. The blood flow to the brain becomes obstructed. It’s most likely due to a blood clot.”
“But she’ll never ride a bike? Or run? Or even walk normally again, will she?”
“Some of that depends on how much of her brain was affected by her stroke. We’re monitoring and doing more tests. She’s young, so there is definite—”
“It’s okay, Doc. I don’t need to hear the same things you tell my wife to make her think she’ll get better. We both know that isn’t true.” Wilson sidestepped the doctor and made his way to the fourth-floor offices. As he got out of the elevator, he smiled at the receptionist.
“Mel. Hi. Is Martin in?”
“Let me see.”
Wilson knew he wouldn’t have long to wait. As one of the biggest and regular contributors to the hospital, he was pretty sure Martin would drop everything to see him. While he waited, he moved to stand next to a window so he could look outside. A sunny and bright day. So in contrast to what he was feeling.
“Hi. If you want to follow me, his office is right this way.” He followed the receptionist down the hall to Martin’s office, the hospital administrator. As he entered, Martin got up from behind his desk and came around it with a smile and an extended hand.
“Will. What brings you by?”
“You know about my wife?”
“Yes. I am sorry to hear that.”
“Well, I need you to stop them from doing any more tests as to why. I want the diagnosis to be something that is normal for a stroke victim.”
“Ischemic stroke accounts for about 87% of all strokes.”
“Good. Put that on her chart. No more tests.”
He could tell he’d caught Martin off guard, but he got the slight nod that he needed and a request for some specialized equipment. Expensive but worth it. Finding out why she’d had the stroke would change nothing. He’d put some money into her rehabilitation. Maybe there was some hope there.
First, though, he had to find out how many people knew what happened. With where his thoughts were going, thinking he’d have to eliminate some people, and not just figuratively, he realized he was more like his old man than he thought. Business always came first. The man had taught him something besides hate.
Making his way back to Meredith’s room and making excuses to his family that there was an emergency at work, he made his way to his office at Pratner Fertilizer. He’d barely sat down before his phone rang.
“What are we doing with this product? Are you going to stop because Meredith is ill?” The man’s tone was insulting.
“There is a slim chance that this chemical is responsible. Which you also know. So don’t get all high and mighty with me.” He sat back and looked out of his window. The view always calmed him. “Keep testing. Keep doing what we’ve been doing. No change. Except, figure out how to make this safer. Buy some new safety gear. And make it more lucrative.”
“It’s already lucrative. The government is paying you millions in grants.”
“Yes, but I want to turn that into billions.”
Bryana stood at the entrance to her office. It could have been anyone’s. There were no personal items in it or on the surrounding cubicle walls. When she’d taken the job she’d promised herself it would only be temporary. Could two years be considered temporary?
Depressed at that thought and at being there, she hung her coat on the back of her chair, put her phone on her desk, and sat down. She logged onto her computer and signed into the company’s app. There were forty help requests already. The good thing about arriving early was that she got the pick of the good ones. She sifted through them, choosing nine. It was way more than she needed but also knew that others would be coming in soon.
Working for the customer service department for WeWin Software Ltd. was an okay job but a dead-end one. The company had developed an online program to help people organize their work, their company files, and their day. The app allowed for collaboration, file sharing, and working teams.
It was great in theory but had some flaws. Ones that, if she got the promotion she was expecting, she could fix. She had some ideas that would make the company well respected and sought after. A lofty goal that would take some time.
Complaints and help requests flooded in a lot. After four years in business, the company should have fixed the bugs. Instead, they’d hired drones to convince people they needed to buy more.
Bryana was one of those drones. She hated it but needed the money. The throbbing at the base of her skull intensified. Coffee would help but her coworkers were starting to arrive. Two minutes before they were to start work. Typical. Not wanting to talk to any of them, she hid in her cubicle for fifteen minutes waiting for them to settle down and at least pretend they were working. Normally, she’d have gotten busy answering emails and answering phone calls But she just didn’t have the energy. The stress of everything was getting to her. Being at a job she hated but needed and hoping that she was getting a promotion was just the tip of her stress. The extra money would alleviate some of the bills she had to pay for her mother.
More work. More pay. More stress.
Almost as though she’d conjured her, Bryana’s phone rang. The ringtone let her know who was calling and she wanted to ignore it. She was always waiting for that one call… the one that might tell her, her mom was worse. Picking up her phone, she answered it.
“Bryana. I’m calling because I know you’ve been working hard. I want to uh—” There was some muffled talking in the background.
“What’s going on?” Her mom rarely called her. Unless she needed something. “I have to work.” She started to pull her phone away from her ear but before she could hang up, her mom started talking again.
“Wait. I, uh, want to give you something.” More muffled voices. “I’m buying you a vacation. For two weeks. Or would you prefer a month?”
“Did you win the lottery?” Bryana rolled her eyes. Since she was paying half of her mom’s bills, Bryana knew she couldn’t afford it. It was so random and definitely bizarre.
“No. But I know you’ve been working hard. I’m booking you on a cruise next week. It runs for ten days. That will be great, won’t it?”
“Don’t. Just don’t. Bye.” Bryana hung up amidst her mom’s protests. Her mom’s call felt like a dripping water pipe on her head. It reminded her she had a lot of responsibilities and wasn’t meant to forget them. No matter how much she hated them. Had her mom called to ruin her big day on purpose?
Pushing away her thoughts, she listened for the noise of computer keyboards clicking away. It meant everyone was working. Or doing something. She wasn’t in the mood to chitchat. If things went as planned, this day was going to improve her life. She got to her feet and made her way to the staff room, unheeded. As usual, though, no one had made any coffee. Which was good because then she could make it the way she wanted—not too strong and not too weak and with a dash of cinnamon and salt. No one liked it but her.
With a fresh cup of coffee, she beelined it back to her desk. At work, she was a beacon of light and help, but didn’t want to hear about her coworkers’ binge drinking weekend or the illicit things they’d done. Besides, she was pretty sure they were rubbing off on her. She was thinking of doing things out of character for her—drinking excessively… having a one-night stand with some stranger… She chuckled to herself as the reality of her doing either of those things was almost zero. But she needed something new, something different…
Like a vacation.
The thought of what it would cost her to take her mom’s out-of-character charity made her insides revolt. Her computer dinged. Grateful for the distraction, she quickly got to work answering emails. Most were simple fix issues with the program. She directed the customers to a webpage she’d created with videos and images showing what they needed to do. It saved so much time. Not that she got credit for it. The company was okay with it but wanted her to re-do them so they included how the customers could upgrade. They wanted their staff to sell. Sell. Sell. She hated that part. It was sleezy. The irony was that she often did manage to get her customers to buy something else without saying anything. She had so many customers requesting her the company had opened an exclusive message board just for her.
A loud chime echoed through the room, three times. It wasn’t as loud as a high school bell, but it was annoying. It made her cringe, with that instant internal ‘ugh’ feeling. She was tempted to ignore it, but also knew she had to be there. It was a ‘get out of cubicle hell’ day. The job paid decently but knowing she’d be making more is what kept her there. It helped with the headaches that weren’t hers. Feeling optimistic that things were about to get better, she stood up.
Her first mistake.
“Bryana, hey. Didn’t know you were here. How was your weekend? Oh, mine was such a blast. Got so wasted Friday night. I think I was drunk all weekend.” The man laughed at his own joke. “I hooked up with this woman…”
Bryana smiled weakly as she pushed her way past the forty-year-old man who still acted like he was eighteen. He fell into step beside her, as though she had invited him. He kept talking about his exploits, and Bryana kept trying to get her ears to grow over or shut off. If it wouldn’t have been telling, she would have clapped her hands over her ears. Instead, she walked with her yappy coworker into the meeting room. Which was a joke. It was an empty cement room, with no frills and no windows. She shivered, grabbed a chair, and plopped it between two other coworkers whom she didn’t know. She felt relatively certain she wouldn’t have to listen to any more stories. The twenty or so other staff all grabbed chairs from the stack in the corner and set them down. The grating on the cement floor almost sounded like a horror show.
There was a tap on her shoulder. Her rambling cubicle mate obviously hadn’t finished talking. He was right behind her, leaning close. She turned her back on him but that didn’t deter him. The guy to her right glared at her, grabbed his chair, and moved to the far side of the room. She twirled her beaded bracelet around her wrist. It helped to ground her and distract her.
“Gee, thanks for getting him to move. This is so much better. Now, I can tell you all about what happened. Such a crazy weekend…”
If she ever had enough money, she was going to invest it all into teleportation. Or a device that she could instantly slap in someone else’s mouth so they couldn’t be heard. The images that came to mind kept her somewhat occupied and able to ignore the over-the-top story the man was shoveling.
You could always just tell him to shut up.
That was her goal, one day to be able to tell someone to leave her alone. To stand up for herself. For now, she sat and waited for her boss, who was going to be late, anyway. If she’d had the nerve, she’d do like everyone else and pull out her phone.
That would be rude, Bryana. Her mom’s voice in her head dug into her nerves like an eagle’s talons.
This day could only get better.
” Oh, my goodness!!!! What a page turner!! Could not stop reading…”
“Oh that was so good, I didn’t want to put it down. As usual I love the twists and turns of your writing. Another hit for the mystery genre…“
“An awesome book!! This is a great family story of hurt, betrayal and love.…“
Take an adventure beyond your fingertips...
Whether her thrillers are set in a real town, city, or countryside, or one made up from her imagination, Multi-Award-Winning Author Maggie Thom writes engaging suspense thrillers that delve into a family’s lies, ties, and deceit. They are rollercoaster stories featuring strong women fighting for what they know is right but having to wade through a maze of twists and turns. Maggie believes in happily ever after but will take you on one heck of an adventure to get there.
Buckle up, you’re in for quite a ride.
Maggie grew up in a house full of books, often making a weekly trip to the library to get more. Reading was her go to when it was too cold outside to play. She started experimenting with writing at a young age, letting her imagination take her away on many adventures. She has done many real-life adventures with her family – white water rafting, sky diving, traveling, mountain hiking, kayaking… Now, she writes to ensure that you get to go on a thrilling adventure as well.
Her motto: Read to escape… Escape to read…
"Maggie Thom… proves her strength as a master of words, plots and finely chiseled characters… she weaves a brilliant cloth of the many colors of deceit.”Dii - TomeTender
"Maggie Thom writes a fast paced thriller laced with romance that keeps the reader interested and on edge!" InDtale Magazine