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In her latest book, Cynthia Hepner, author of Love’s Journey Home, has created tender yet powerful stories that will not only captivate you, but guaranteed to touch your heart as well.
Return to Mayfield:
Jackson Barrett left home as a young boy never planning to return, but when the letter came from his mother that his father had died and she needed his help, he said good-bye to his bride and hopped a bus to Mayfield.
Jack finds that the trip back home turns into more than he anticipated as he confronts the demons of his past and comes to grips with his feelings for his father.
Murder in Mayfield:
Chief of Police Jackson Barrett loves his job…that is until the body of a young woman is found in the local cemetery. In a town with virtually no crime, Jack finds himself looking at his long time friend as a possible suspect.
Could Jeff possibly have killed this girl? That is the question that Jack is determined to answer.
1st 2 chapters from Return to Mayfield:
Standing outside the bus depot, he read the letter that he held in his
hands over a dozen times. His dad was gone. There wasn’t going to be a
funeral, just a few words said at graveside.
His mom asked if he would come to help her settle things, but said not to hurry, that everything will be just the way Dad had wanted it. So, by the time Jack received the letter, his mom already had his father buried.
That angered him. Although, when he thought about it,everything about his dad seemed to anger him.
The last time he spoke with his dad they had argued and now…well, now he is gone and there is no way to take those words back.
Why was it every time Jack thought about his dad he got angry?
Every time he spoke to his dad in the past few years, they fought. It did not matter what the subject was; they fought about it. Jack always felt he could never measure up to his father. He wanted to please his dad, but never seemed to.
Every conversation always ended the same way; voices raised and things said that hurt them both. Now his dad was gone and he would never talk to him again.
The driver called his bus. Grabbing his bags he gave his wife one last
hug and with a hushed voice said in her ear, “I love you, Sarah; I will call you when I get to my Mom’s.”
“I love you too, Jack. Be careful and have a good trip. I’ll be
waiting for your call, and please tell your mother how sorry I am,” Sarah
“I will, Sweetheart.” Not wanting to let go, he continued to hold his
As the driver stepped onto the bus steps, he called over his shoulder
to Jack and said, “If you’re riding on my bus boy, let’s go!”
Jack let Sarah go with a sigh and one last kiss. Reluctantly, entering the bus, he found a seat next to a window and looking out and finding Sarah, he continued to watch her as the bus pulled out of the terminal.
Sarah stood there and watched as the red rear lights faded in the
distance before she turned and headed towards her car for the drive
Sarah hoped that this trip back home might help change his feelings about his father and about the farm where he grew up, but sincerely doubted that it would.
The bus turned off the freeway for one of the many stops they would
be making and Jack settled in for the long ride to Mayfield, the small town
where he grew up.
The new passengers coming on board went unnoticed as Jack found himself staring out of the window, thinking about the last time he had spoken with his father.
Looking back, he could see what a dumb argument it had been. He did
not live in Mayfield anymore. With a good job as an officer in the Seattle
Police Department and a new wife, Jack could not be bothered with the
farm any longer.
His dad just never seemed to understand what Jack wanted. City; that is what he wanted. People; he wanted people on every street corner so there was always some one to talk with. He wanted to live in a place where you locked your car when you got out. Excitement! Yes,excitement is what Jack wanted and he got it all in Seattle.
To Jack, his father thought only about the farm, and how one day he would take over for him. Jack wanted more for himself and his family. It was a mute point now though, wasn’t it?
“I’m sorry, Dad.” Jack softly said to no one as he continued to stare out
of the window.
The bus ride to Mayfield from Seattle was a long one and he was not looking forward to it much either, especially for the reason he was going. The last time he had been home was the day he left, seventeen years ago.
He had seen his parents when they came to visit him once every couple
of years and he called them every weekend to keep in touch and to see
how they were getting on.
It had seemed strange to him that no one was home last Sunday when he had tried to call. He shrugged it off telling himself he would just try later, but as things would have it, he got busy and never did.
If he had reached his mom last Sunday, he would have known
about his father in time to make it home for the services.
Jack slept little as the bus pulled on and off the highway at every town
on Interstate 5. Bits and pieces of his childhood memories kept flooding
back. He was unable to stop the pictures that swept through his mind as
the wheels of the bus hit every pothole and rut on the road back to
“Dad, Wait for me!” Jack yelled to his father as he ran down the driveway. He had to catch up to him before he took Speckles out to the pasture to bury him.
He wanted to be there, after all, it was his dog, and he wanted to tell Speckles good-bye. His dad waited for him and walking side by side, they went to the pasture and dug the hole that would be Speckles final resting place.
Samuel put his arm around Jack as he laid his dog to rest and held him close when he cried.
“Son, I know your hurting and in a few days it’ll get better,” he continued, “dying…well, son…dying is just a part of living. It
happens to everyone and every living thing. It’s a part of life that none of us can control.”
Jack wiped his tears on the sleeve of his shirt, and turned towards the house. Samuel let him go and took the shovel back to the tool shed next to the barn.
Thump! Jack’s head hit the window as the bus hit another rut in the
road and brought him back to reality. He had forgotten all about his old
dog; Speckles was his friend when he needed one most.
He sure wished his old dog were with him right now. Jack had the feeling he would need a good friend before this was all over.
1st 2 chapters of Murder in Mayfield
Jack walked into his office in town and sat at his desk. It had been three
years since Sarah and he had moved from Seattle to his father’s farm in
At first, when Jack went home to help his mom, Rose, settle his father’s affairs, he had no intentions on moving back, but facing the demons he thought existed and making peace with his father, decided to stay.
Jack and Sarah live on the farm with his mother Rose and their son, Sam. Sam is two years old and the love of their lives. Sam thrives on the
farm and never wastes a minute of the awe and wonder he finds there daily.
Sarah has adjusted well to the farm way of life, in fact, it’s as though she was born to live on the farm. She has learned to bake, garden, milk, and
put up the vegetables she and Rose grow in the garden.
Jack was surprised at the way she conformed to living in the country. It brought a smile to his face just thinking of the way his little family thrived in a place he had been
bound and determined to keep them away from.
As the days grew on, Jack had come to realize that he too loved the
farm and couldn’t imagine them living anywhere else.
When word got around that Jackson Barrett was moving back to
Mayfield, the Town Council held a meeting and decided to offer him the
Chief of Police job. They knew that Jack had been Military Police when
in the service and an officer for the eight years he lived in Seattle.
Jack wanted to work on the farm, but Sarah knew how much being a cop meant to Jack. She said they could hire some help for the farm and he could take the job doing what he loved to do. He argued for a bit, relented, and then took the Chief’s job.
He had grown up in Mayfield and outside of the occasional complaint
from Mr. Franks about young hooligans causing a ruckus, things were pretty quiet.
He didn’t come down too hard on the boys remembering all the
‘ruckus’ he and his best friend Jeff used to cause Mr. Franks when they
Jeff sat on the town council so Jack knew he had been the one to suggest that they offer him the job when Chief Taylor retired and moved to Arizona. It was a laid-back position as not too much goes on in a town the size of Mayfield.
Settling back in his brown leather chair, Jack took out a few folders and
set them in the middle of his desk. He wanted to look busy and secretly
prayed for a case with a little meat he could sink his teeth into. He was not fussy either, anything would be better than the piddley crap that he had been dealing with these past few weeks.
Mona, his secretary/part time
officer walked through the door and put another folder on his desk.
Looking up he asked her “What’s this one about, someone cross the
street in the wrong place?”
“Now Jack, let’s not get too cynical. I know this is not what you’re used
to coming from a big city like Seattle and all, and I know to you we are just
a bunch of country bumpkins, but that’s all we got. Just remember this is where you came from, big shot!” she told him smiling.
“It seems to me, you might like it better if we had all kinds of crimes for you to solve,” Mona stated with a raise of an eyebrow.
“Now Mona, don’t go getting your panties in a knot.”
“You just never mind about my panties, Jackson!” Mona scolded walking out of the office and closing the door behind her.
He loved to get Mona going. She was a real kick in the ass, literally! She
looked shocked at the mere suggestion he might be getting a bit bored
with the country way of life.
He could not let on that he secretly loved it; walking down town and talking to folks was the highlight of his job and the way everyone waved and yelled ‘Hi Chief’ was the best part.
Hell, that would ruin his rep as a real tough guy, now wouldn’t it…he thought with a chuckle.
Opening the file, Jack noticed the red light on his phone was blinking;
signaling another call was coming into the office. Before he could even
read the first line of the report, Mona opened the door again and by the
look on her face, Jack knew something was wrong.
“You’re gonna want to take this call, Jack, it’s Henry over at the
cemetery and he sounds real upset.”
She stood in the doorway as Jack
pushed the blinking, button and answered the call.
“What is it Henry?” Jack asked. He listened for a quick moment and
then said, “I’m on my way, and Henry, don’t touch a thing, we don’t want
to contaminate the crime scene.”
Dropping the receiver back into the cradle, grabbed his hat and jacket,
sailed through the front door, and yelled back to Mona to mind the store.
Getting into the squad car, with lights on and sirens blaring, Jack made
his way up the road to the local cemetery.
Jack parked the squad car on the hill opposite the cemetery office and
got out. He looked around for Henry and found him sitting on one of the
stone benches that the Town Council splurged on last year. They were
part of the ‘beautification of the city’ plan they thought would be a good
idea. They were definitely an improvement.
Henry had lived in Mayfield his whole life. He was a nice man with a young boys mind and did a lot of the gardening at the cemetery now that Mr. Johnson left to live in San Diego with his son’s family.
Henry did a fine job and the town was appreciative of his help, but Jack was afraid of what this might do to him. He could tell that Henry was very upset by the way he was standing there
wringing his hands.
“Hey, Henry,” said Jack “What have we got here?”
Henry was afraid to look up for fear of seeing the body again so he kept
his face down and spoke to Jack.
“It’s a girl, Chief. I think she’s dead. I called to her to get up, but she just stayed there and didn’t move or nothing. She’s dead, huh?”
“Yes. Henry, I think you’re right. Did you touch her or anything at
“No, not a thing, I found her and went to call you right off. Mona
answered the phone and told me to hold a minute and then you got on the
phone. After we hung up, I came back here and waited for you. I didn’t
touch a thing, Chief, not a single thing,” Henry finished.
Seeing how upset Henry was, Jack wanted to find a way to get his mind
off the dead girl quickly if at all possible.
“Henry, I would like you to do me a favor. Can you do me a favor, Henry?” Jack asked.
“Sure, Chief. What do you want me to do?”
“I want you to go home, and not say anything to anyone about this.
Can you do that for me, Henry?”
“Sure, Chief. I can do that. Is that all you want me to do? You don’t
want me to get anyone for you or call anyone for you. I can go to your
headquarters and help Mona or I could…”
“No, Henry,” he said stopping him, “I need this to stay quiet. I do not
need the whole town up here messing with the crime scene. Promise me
you are going to go straight home and not say a word to anybody.”
“Okay Chief,” promised Henry. Turning, he quickly walked towards his beat up old pick-up, got in and drove away.
Jack put on a pair of the white latex gloves he never thought he would be using here. Stooping down, balancing on his heels, Jack looked at the body of the girl laying face down in the dirt next to a freshly dug grave.
The girl was tall, very tall. She was missing a shoe.He quickly looked around and saw that it was resting atop the dirt pile the diggers made earlier in the day which told him she had not been dead long.
Her jean skirt was short and hiked up on one side just barely covering her underpants. He lifted the edge of her skirt with his pen checking to see if she had some on and was relieved to find that she did.
He noticed she wore two tops. One was a snug navy tee shirt and on top of the tee shirt was a little flowered ruffled blouse. He couldn’t figure out why all the young girls now-a-days took to wearing two tops. He thought it looked kind of grade school, but Sarah said it was the style. No matter, the sleeve was tore on the shoulder, which told him she put up a struggle.
Who would do this to you? Who ever it was, you can rest assured I’m going to find him, and when I do, he will pay for hurting you. He silently swore his oath to her.
His eyes moved upward and took in the red hair…very red hair!
Oh no! Please don’t let it be…he prayed and quickly lifted her up a bit, so he could see her face.
“Damn it! Damn it to Hell!” Jack swore aloud.
The dead girl lying face down in the mud was Jenny Sue’s niece. He first met Jen’s niece on the trip he made home when his father died.
The bus driver had given them 45 minutes to get something to eat so he
stepped into the bus stop café for a sandwich. Jen’s niece waited on him
and they had a nice talk. She was a real friendly and pretty girl with a kind smile. He’d never forget that red hair of hers.
When he got into Mayfield and told Jenny Sue he had met her niece,
she informed him that her niece was studying to be a hair stylist. Her plan
was to open her own shop. Jen had said she was going places and would
be someone someday.
“Well, it looks like you didn’t get too far now did you young lady?” Jack
There were questions that needed answering and he was going to get
the answers, by God. He would get the guy that did this to her.
He took his radio off his belt and called the office.
“Mona, get the State Police out here. Tell them we need their Forensics team,” Jack added “and Mona, call Jenny Sue and tell her I will be out to her place to talk to her in a bit.”
“What’s going on Jack? What have we got?”
“It’s Jen’s niece…she’s dead.”