Gilead's Balm

Realtor Callie Henry wakes on the grounds of a museum with a bump on her head, but no memory of what happened. Cleaning her recently deceased mother's house, she learns her mother had a secret life and a son who will now go to any lengths to inherit. Even murder.

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Gilead's Balm

Callie Henry opened her eyes and blinked at the bright sunshine, wondering why she was on the ground, at the same time suddenly conscious of a raging headache. Reaching up, she felt a bump the size of a golf ball on the back of her head. She slowly sat up and looked around, confused, recognizing the carefully sculptured grounds of Bentley Castle, which wasn’t really a castle at all, but a vast, state-owned brick historic home and estate, just outside the city limits of the small town of Gilead, Missouri.

Gilead was the quintessential postcard-perfect small town, housing 6,000 residents, with wide and shady, tree-lined streets, vintage working street lamps, and many beautifully restored historical homes. Residents took pride in keeping America and Gilead beautiful, and it showed.

A glance at the surrounding brilliantly tinted foliage reassured her it was, as she knew, mid-October.

Sighing, she rolled her head on her neck, still feeling disoriented, with absolutely no idea how she had gotten there.

Sifting through memory, she tried to recall the last thing she’d been doing.

I was at the office, wasn’t I? It was a reasonable assumption, since that’s where she would’ve been on any normal workday.

As the owner and broker of American Dream Realty, a three-man office, she made her own schedule, so in truth she could have been literally anywhere. Even after wracking her brain, she could recall nothing definite after going to bed the previous night.

Glancing around, she looked for her tan calfskin handbag. It held her leather day planner, listing in detail, all her appointments and notes to herself. More importantly, it held her cellular phone and car keys. But the handbag was nowhere to be found.

She needed to find a phone. Getting carefully to her feet, she dusted off her silk pants outfit and made her way up the smooth, worn brick walk that led to the castle’s wide front door. A CLOSED sign hung on a hanger, announcing tours held Thursday through Saturday, after Labor Day. Today was Wednesday.

A downward glance revealed a wide scrape on the outside of her right low-heeled black shoe, making her wonder if she’d somehow been dragged on concrete. Feeling more confused than ever, she rolled her head on her shoulders, trying to work the kinks from her neck. Her watch told the tale. It was 1:30 P.M., and somewhere she had lost an entire half-day.


Scanning the area for her car, she frowned. No car.

She felt annoyed with herself, but the gap in her memory refused to yield an iota of useful information.

A single, successful career woman at age forty-nine, Callie had been the first in her family to graduate from college, where she earned a Master’s degree in business. Intelligent and capable, she found it hard to understand this present, ridiculous state of affairs.

Feeling stiff, as if she’d been hit by a car, she walked gingerly, heading in the direction of her office, which, fortunately, was only two blocks away.

Never one for daydreaming or flights of fancy, she was determined to get to the bottom of this immediately, applying the logic and critical thinking skills for which she had become well-known.

Only minutes later, the bell over the front door tinkled as she walked into the reception area of her office and saw Becky Lincoln, her secretary, talking on the phone, while simultaneously typing on her computer keyboard. Becky was one of those rare individuals who could do two totally unrelated activities at the same time without a single mistake. She was also very loyal.

Becky looked up, tilted her head in question and told the person on the line she’d have to call them back.

Becky had been with Callie for seven of the eight years American Dream had been in business, and Callie loved Becky’s kind, but no-nonsense approach to life. Fifty-year old Becky stood five-feet, six inches to Callie’s five-feet two, and had curly red hair she despised, a fair complexion in a perfect heart-shaped face, and arresting green eyes. With a mostly absent truck-driver


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