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Kimberly Shursen Shares an #Excerpt from HUSH @KimberlyShursen #Thriller #AmReading #Goodreads

Minneapolis, Minnesota - August 21

Twenty-eight-year-old Ann Ferguson covered her ears to avoid the imminent, deafening roar.

“Pass the salt, pass the salt, pass the goddamn salt!” the crowd shouted, waving hands overhead as Buffet’s “Margaritaville” resounded through the speakers.

Just another typical Friday night in downtown Minneapolis—the lighting in Donita’s Pub dim, the air thick with pheromones while blenders zapped ice, lime, and tequila into margaritas.

“Feisty crowd tonight,” Jess said to Ann, pushing her long, naturally curly, strawberry-blonde hair behind one ear.

“Always is.” Ann took a sip of white wine.

Stiletto heels, form-fitting jeans, lips lacquered in hot pink or ruby red mingled with Brooks Brothers’ suits, dress shirts, and silk ties. Looking for soul mates or one-night stands—all the hoopla bored Ann.

“This thing tickles.” Ann lifted up the sticky-backed, fake hair and scratched under her nose.

Noted for their creative fundraisers, tonight the money collected at the door of the bar to purchase faux moustaches would go to prostate cancer research.

Ann leaned back against the paver brick wall of the renovated warehouse. Standing room only, members of generation X and younger were squashed shoulder-to-shoulder, rear end to rear end.

Ann pushed her bangs back off her forehead. It was only last week that she’d held her breath as her thick, dark, shoulder-length hair was cut into a pixie. Dark eyes raking the room, she wished she was home curled up on the couch, watching a movie.

Jess cocked her head to the side. “You need to get out more.”

“And you need to find another playmate.”

Ann and Jess had lived together for three years, and though polar opposites, they’d become best friends. Growing up in a small town in southern Minnesota, Ann offered the pragmatic side of the friendship while Jess added the excitement. At five feet two, Ann was small boned and petite. Jess, with her full hips and robust breasts, towered over Ann by a good six inches. Unlike Jess who enjoyed showcasing her breasts with low-cut, scooped necklines, Ann was comfortable in her faded jeans and tank tops.

“Picture, ladies?” A roaming photographer asked, decked out in a white shirt and red bowtie.

“Absolutely.” Jessica squished her cheek against Ann’s, a margarita glass clasped in her hand. 

“Photographer from Minneapolis-St.Paul Magazine,” Jess whispered.

“Great,” Ann said sarcastically, “my parents will be so proud to see their daughter in a bar.”

“Hey.” The deep voice startled her, and Ann turned around quickly. “I hope you don’t think I’m too forward, but you look familiar.”

Jess tapped Ann’s knee nonchalantly.

Ann stared at the handsome man blankly. “I don’t think we’ve met.” However, there was something familiar about him. Dark hair parted to the side, a few strands fell casually over his forehead. He grinned, giving way to a dimple in his right cheek.

“You come here often?” he asked.

“Second time.” Men had come up and struck up a conversation when Jess had dragged her to a bar before. But, just like the others, once this hunk found out Ann wasn’t into one-night stands, he’d move on. Ann took a sip of her wine, and the phony moustache toppled into her wine glass. “Oh no.” 

Feeling her cheeks grow warm with embarrassment, she quickly reached into the glass and pulled out the sopping wet hairpiece. She wrinkled her nose. “Disgusting.”

He grinned, his dark eyes settling into half moons. “Oh…so, that isn’t real?” he asked poker-faced.

She shook her hand until the small fluff let loose of her finger and fell to the floor. “I forgot I had it on.”

“Whoa! There’s my song,” Jess said excitedly and started to shoulder her way through the crowd to the strobe-lit dance floor.

Ann watched Jess disappear, knowing she’d purposely left her alone with this stranger. She wasn’t good at this and, again, wished she were home.

“Ben.” He offered Ann his free hand, the other wrapped around a Samuel Adams.

Ann pointed at her ear and shook her head, signaling she couldn’t hear.

He leaned into her. “Ben Grable,” he said over the noise.

“Ann,” She slipped her hand into his, eyeing him. Suit coat draped over an arm, his tie hung loose around the open collar of his light blue, dress shirt.

“You wanna dance or—” He got out before someone shoved him, spilling his beer down the front of his shirt, droplets falling to Ann’s sandals.

“Whoa”—she picked up her foot—“that’s cold.”

Ben took a few steps back, brushing the beer off his tie. “Sheesh, I’m sorry. You okay?”

Where had she seen him before? She waved a dismissing hand. “I’m fine, but this noise is a killer. I think I’m going to call it a night.”

“Wanna get a burger or something?” Ben blurted.

“If you’re asking if I will go with you in your car,” she said, raising an eyebrow, “the answer is no thanks.”

“If I am asking you to go two doors down to grab a burger,” Ben asked with a sheepish grin, “what would the answer be?”

“Sure.” Her eyes lit up. “If it’s quieter than here, I’m game.”

Ben followed her through the maze to the dance floor. After Ann found Jess and told her she was leaving, Ben put his hand in the small of her back, sending a tingle up her spine.

Groups of men and women passed them on the sidewalk—their inebriated laughter echoing through the brightly lit streets.

A foot taller, Ben looked down at Ann. “You must think I’m pretty cocky just walking up and introducing myself.”

“Actually, I’m glad you did. Definitely not my scene.”

“Well, you looked as uncomfortable as I was.”

Ben opened the door of the tavern for her. Tally’s was crowded but not nearly as loud. Peanut shells speckled the black-and-white tile floor, and men wearing denim shirts and cowboy boots waited for a turn at a video game. A trio of middle-aged women with painted on smiles huddled together on the barstools, their puffy eyes darting from man to man. The aroma of burgers and onion rings filtered through the long, narrow space, making Ann even hungrier.

“Not much ambiance here,” Ben apologized as the shells cracked beneath their feet.

“But a much tamer crowd.”

Ben stopped at an open booth. “This okay?”

“Perfect.” Ann slid in.

“Want a beer or something?” Ben asked, sitting down across from her.

Ann thought for a couple of seconds. “I’d rather have a Coke.”

“Me, too. Diet or real?”

“Diet?” Ann made a face. “Yuck.”

“I’m with you.”

“What can I get you two kids?” a waitress asked, her weathered face giving away her age.

“Two real Cokes”—Ben glanced at Ann—“and this young lady is starving.”

“I would love a cheeseburger, American cheese, medium-well,” Ann said. “And is that onion rings I smell?”

“Yes, ma’am.” The waitress smiled proudly. She folded her arms over her red-and-white checked shirt. “Best in Minneapolis.”

“Great,” Ann said. “Oh…and ranch dressing on the side.”

The waitress turned to Ben.

“Exact same thing for me,” Ben told her.

Ann leaned back in the high-backed booth. “Most guys take their burgers medium-rare.”

“Not into E-coli.”

“Smart man.”

“So,” he said, locking his hands together and placing them on the Formica tabletop, “what’s your story?”

Ann waited for the waitress to put the drinks in front of them. “Do I have to have one?”

“Everyone has a story.”

No one had ever asked what her story was. For some reason, Ann didn’t feel as uncomfortable as she usually did when she first met someone. She tilted her head back, her eyes focusing on a stain in the ceiling. “Pediatric nurse. Raised in Worthington—”

“Ah…the turkey capitol,” Ben said casually.

Ann’s eyes grew wide. “How’d you know that?”

“Big turkey fan,” Ben answered with a straight face.

“You are not.”

“Love their combs.”

Ann giggled. “You’re putting me on, right?”

“I was in Worthington for a conference once.”

“There was a conference in Worthington?” she asked as she tore the wrapper off the straw.

“On that one, I’m not fibbing. Had to take a class.”

She raised an eyebrow. “In…”

“Law.”

Ann wrapped her hand around the soda glass, not taking her eyes from him. “You’re a lawyer?”

“Hello?” Ben grabbed his tie and waved it a few times. “Don’t I look like one?”

“Do they all look alike?”

“According to all the lawyer jokes, we do,” Ben said.

The waitress served the burgers and onion rings with two sides of ranch dressing. “Anything else?” 

The older lady put a hand over her hip.

“Mustard,” Ben and Ann said at the same time.


hush

Soon after Ann Ferguson and Ben Grable marry, and Ben unseals his adoption papers, their perfect life together is torn apart, sending the couple to opposite sides of the courtroom.

Representing Ann, lawyer Michael J. McConaughey (Mac) feels this is the case that could have far-reaching, judicial effects -- the one he's been waiting for.

Opposing counsel knows this high profile case happens just once in a lifetime.

And when the silent protest known as HUSH sweeps the nation, making international news, the CEO of one of the top ten pharmaceutical companies in the world plots to derail the trial that could cost his company billions.

Critically acclaimed literary thriller HUSH not only questions one of the most controversial laws that has divided the nation for over four decades, but captures a story of the far-reaching ties of family that surpasses time and distance.


*** Hush does not have political or religious content. The story is built around the emotions and thoughts of two people who differ in their beliefs.

EDITORIAL REVIEW: "Suspenseful and well-researched, this action-packed legal thriller will take readers on a journey through the trials and tribulations of one of the most controversial subjects in society today." - Katie French author of "The Breeders," "The Believer's," and "Eyes Ever To The Sky."

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Thriller
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with Kimberly Shursen through Facebook and Twitter

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