Dying BrandA close friend once shared his belief that two kinds of people enter our lives: those who accompany us on the long journey, either always with us or weaving in and out of our lives with ease, and those who were meant only to touch our lives for a short time and then be gone. The former, he reasoned, are granted doorways into our lives. Old friends, the kind you lose touch with for long stretches only to reconnect with as though no time had passed, have doorways. On the other hand, those who intersect with us for just a brief period, even if the impact is strong, have only been given windows into our lives. Windows, he said, are not forever. And once these “window” relationships are closed, that’s how they should remain.

In retrospect, he was right. Windows should never be reopened. I learned that the hard way.

Things had been too quiet for too long, so I should have known trouble was brewing. The Fates don’t much care for peace, do they? It was the first Saturday of autumn, and the leaves in eastern Pennsylvania had long since fallen, replaced by a chilling, austere landscape of bare branches and browning lawns. I woke up that morning unsuspecting, sandwiched between Jason and Brutus, a harsh rain tapping the window. Brutus, my incorrigible Boxer, had shimmied his way up the mattress until his great, jowly head was on my pillow. I opened my eyes to find him staring at me. My yawn brought about a series of tail thumps and unsolicited kisses. Smiling, I wiped my face.

“Brutus, you’re not supposed to be in the bed,” I mumbled. I swear he laughed at me. We both knew that was a pointless rule.

“Mmm,” Jason said, rolling over. His hair was tousled, his eyes sleepy, his broad shoulders bare under pale yellow cotton sheets. A slow grin slid across his face. I moved in closer. “Let’s make pancakes,” he whispered.

Pancakes, huh? I nudged Brutus off the bed.

An hour later, we made pancakes. Then Jason left for the District Attorney’s Office—he had a few hours of work to finish up before Delvar’s award ceremony—and I did the same.

I found Vaughn already at First Impressions, my image consulting firm, reading The Wall Street Journal, a distracted look on his dark, handsome features. I squeezed his shoulder and placed a cup of black coffee in front of him. Vaughn’s a clean living kind of guy these days, but he’ll make an exception for coffee. He thanked me and smiled, but his smile didn’t reach his eyes. I should have asked him what was wrong, but I didn’t. Jason’s embrace still on my mind, I walked back to my office without another word. Mistake Number Two.

At my desk, I glanced at the day’s schedule. Intake for a new client at ten, a lunch discussion with a local women’s group at one, and then I could get ready for Delvar’s award ceremony. The designer had been in my life for years, first as a mentee and later as a friend, and now he was not only a world-class clothing designer but a philanthropist. Delvar was an inspiration to many, including me, a true “rags to riches” story, only Delvar never forgot his roots. When the invitation to attend the ceremony honoring his new charity, Designs for the Future, had come, I’d canceled a speaking engagement to be there. I’d later realize that was Mistake Number One.

But that Saturday, sitting in my office in Villanova, a rainy morning slowly giving way to a sunnier afternoon, I had no idea the domino effect one change in plans would have. I figured the rest of the day would wind down quietly the way it had begun: with Jason, Brutus and Vaughn, the constants in my once-again predictable life. That wasn’t meant to be. A window would reopen, one that I should have slammed shut and bolted forever.


You can read more about Alison in Dying Brand, the third book in the “Allison Campbell” mystery series, published by Henery Press. The first two books in the series are Killer Image and Deadly Assets.

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About the author
Wendy Tyson is an author, lawyer and former therapist whose background has inspired her mysteries and thrillers. Wendy has written four published crime novels, including Dying Brand, the third novel in the Allison Campbell Mystery Series, which was released on May 5, 2015. The first in the Campbell series, Killer Image, was named a best mystery for book clubs in 2014 by Examiner.com. Wendy is also the author of the Greenhouse Mystery Series, the first of which, A Muddied Murder, is due to be released just in time for spring 2016. Wendy is a member of Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers and she is a contributing editor for The Big Thrill, International Thriller Writers’ online magazine. Wendy lives on a micro-farm just outside of Philadelphia with her husband, three sons and three dogs. Visit Wendy on Facebook or at: www.WATyson.com.

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