Friday, December 12, 2014

All The Difference: Romantic Suspense by Kaira Rouda

All The Difference: Romantic Suspense by Kaira Rouda

Everything isn't what it seems in the wonderful suburb of Grandville. ALL THE DIFFERENCE is the story of three women whose lives become entangled by the choices they make and how, ultimately, one of them turns to murder to achieve her goals.

Roommates Laura and Angie couldn't be more different. Laura is a local celebrity, the television anchor who is motivated to move out of small-time media markets and on to the big time, no matter the cost. Meanwhile, Angie, a luckless waitress, spends her time waiting for Mr. Right to save her from temporary jobs and a life spent making bad choices.

On the other side of town, Ellen abandons her life as a successful fundraiser for that of an isolated housewife in the country estate she shares with her husband, whose affairs become increasingly hard to ignore. When the city’s gossip columnist, Maddie, and restaurant reviewer, Dixon, become involved in the mystery, the unlikely duo stir up more than they intended. But will anyone be able to stop the next murder?

With her signature compassion and wit, Kaira Rouda once again takes readers on an entertaining journey into the heart of women’s lives in suburbia - this time with adultry and murder in the mix.

Friday, May 23
Tossing the script onto her desk, Dave told Laura, “Here, read this,” as he sped past. “The teleprompter is set, Sunshine. We go live in two.”
Thanks, Dave,” Laura said, not adding “you jerk,” although she wanted to. She hated Dave Robinson, producer for WCOL-TV5, and didn’t care that the feeling was mutual. Laura Mercer didn’t care about much except ratings, beating the local competition to a story, and looking like big-city-market material. Laura knew she was the latter. She looked like the girl next door and sexy at the same time. That’s what her adoring fans kept writing since she had leapt onto the screen in Columbus four years earlier. She was promoted from reporter to anchor of the noon and early evening news two years later. Already her name was a household word. Especially in households with male viewers.
Laura knew she was considered a draw at charity events. She agreed to lunches with local power brokers and marketing folks. Accessible, beautiful. And she was always perfecting her presence. Changing the tone of her voice, practicing inflections, tilting her head just a little farther left, or simply picking up a new adjective to drop into idle anchor babble. Laura was learning, absorbing, and mimicking everyone at the station. When the general manager asked her to do the news bulletin cut-in, she felt it was her big chance. Maybe this could lead to a network feed or even CNN Headline News pickup?
Eschewing a read-through for further primping time, Laura arrived in the studio with twenty-two seconds to spare, Dave’s script in hand. Clipping on her microphone, she smiled at the cameraman, Rob. Soon, the cameras would be automated robots, but until then, she needed Rob to like her. Glancing up at the booth where Dave sat hunched over the control panel, Laura sneered—but it could have just been a squint because of the lights.
Ready and three, two, one, music…”
We interrupt our regular programming to bring you a special news bulletin from WCOL-TV5,” the station announcer’s voice boomed.
Suddenly, Laura’s face popped into the middle of one of the station’s highest-rated shows, prompting hundreds of calls from angry show addicts. Laura’s hair was perfect—she was the brunette Breck girl. Her squeaky-clean image had boosted the number-three station in town to a tie with the perennial number-one. The soft orange and yellow backdrop complemented her skin tones. Set approval was part of her contract by now, and she exercised it.
This is Laura Mercer, News Channel 5, with a special bulletin,” she read from the teleprompter. “An hour ago, an explosion from unidentified causes ripped through a large home in Field City, five miles northwest of Grandville. Sources on the scene tell News 5 the two adult victims were airlifted to an area hospital in critical condition. We will have more about this story as information becomes available, and, of course, tonight on the eleven o’clock news. This is Laura Mercer. We now return to regular programming.”
And, we’re out. Nice job, people.” Dave’s voice boomed from the control booth above the studio. Hoping to cover the story first, and thus smack an early, crippling home run useful for self-promotion for months to follow, he had obviously decided to break into programming with a news bulletin containing little news. It was May, sweeps week, a critical time to lure viewers to the station. It wouldn’t matter to him how stupid Laura would look, interrupting a program to give no news.
Goddamn it! Heads are going to roll for this one,” Laura screamed after she’d removed her microphone. She held her breath then, waiting until Rob sauntered out of the studio. She needed him on her side until the studio was automated. The camera equaled power, since his choice of angles and camera position could make the difference between her nose seeming prominent or ugly. Someday she’d have the money to fix those faults, but not yet.
Is it too much to ask to have a few facts before we jump on the air?” she yelled to Dave, her invisible producer above. “I know this is TV news, but facts, some facts, are important!” Feeling better after the tirade, she walked out of the studio, back to her desk.
Over the speaker, Dave said, “Have a nice day, Sunshine.” Sunshine was the nickname he had given her two years ago when she arrived to save their sagging news ratings, fresh from a Dayton Fox affiliate. At first, he had seemed to like her. Six months later, he began complaining that “Sunshine” was raining on his parade.
The public loved her. Laura knew most of the staff at the station hated her as much as Dave did, but the station owners—the only people who mattered in the end—decided she was their “it” girl. Her ticket was written. She was biding her time until an anchor spot opened up in a bigger market at a sister station. Her departure could not come soon enough for Dave or the rest of the staff, Laura knew.
Once back at her desk in the center of the noisy newsroom, Laura thought, Today was intriguing. For once, the news registered. She’d actually felt something, deep inside, almost like a stomachache, as she read the story. It had to be his house, she thought. But who was the woman? Even now, Laura’s heart was racing, and she realized her fingernails were drumming the fake wood veneer of her desk. Fortunately, no one else seemed to notice her agitation.
Turning in her chair, Laura yelled, “Tony, call all the hospitals in town. They airlifted the victims, so they’re probably at Grant or University. I want the names of both people injured in that explosion, and I want their status. Now, Tony, move!” Laura knew the stone-faced assignment editor couldn’t tell the orders were a personal request; she always treated him in the same demoralizing manner. Consistency is key, she thought to herself as she watched him fumble with the computer keyboard at his desk.
For a moment Laura wondered whether anybody at the station would connect her to the explosion. No, she’d been discreet.
Hey, Mike, is Headline News interested in a feed?” she called out to another editor, before jumping out of her chair to hover over his desk. This could be big.

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