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Scroll down to read chapter 1 of Gail's exciting novel.
 


CHAPTER ONE

     They say blood is thicker than water. That was
all Theresa Clancy could think about that Wednes-
day morning when she opened the office door. What
she saw was sticky, clotted, drippy red stuff cover-
ing the desk, the files, the walls, and the floor of the
office of her boss, George Reilly, founder and sole
owner of the Reilly Investment Co.
     She was about to scream when she realized that
a body was nowhere to be seen and that the room
smelled suspiciously like a hamburger joint. She
sniffed and cautiously approached the desk. Stick-
ing up from the wastebasket was a bag from Burger
King. Further investigation revealed the remnants of
fries, onion rings, a Whopper, and lots and lots of
empty ketchup wrappers. KETCHUP? She breathed
a sigh of relief. Ketchup is thicker than water too,
but it was so much less ominous than blood. An-
noyance mingled with relief as she realized that the
prankster had struck again, but at least no one was
hurt.
     This was really too much. The gall of that idiot.
This was his third performance. It was bad enough
that he had defaced property. But then to have the
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nerve to eat his dinner here, too! Apparently the
prankster really believed in that Burger King slogan,
"Have it your way." Well, so far everything had gone
his way, but she was sure it wouldn't continue. Her
boss was smart and energetic. Sure, he had had some
problems lately, with clients losing money as a re-
sult of what turned out to be bad investment advice
provided by the firm. Theresa was not a betting
woman, but if she had been, she would have bet
that George Reilly would soon be back on top. And
it was only a matter of time before he would catch
the idiot who was wreaking havoc with his office.
     Theresa took a deep breath and willed herself
to calm down. She had worked for George a long
time and had cleaned up a lot of his messes. But
this was one mess she didn't plan to tackle. She
reached for the phone and called the cleaning ser-
vice. It was still early, so maybe there was enough
time to get the office cleaned up before the work
day started. If George came in and saw this mess,
he'd be in a bad mood for the rest of the day. Theresa
knew the man and his moods well. She had gotten
the job as his secretary on her twentieth birthday
and had been at it now for 33 years. George wasn't
the greatest boss, but he wasn't the world's worst,
either. He was somewhere in between.
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     Most things in Theresa's life were "in between."
She wasn't beautiful, but she wasn't ugly. She didn't
love her job, but she didn't hate it. Her boss could
be a pain, but the work was pretty interesting, at
least most of the time. She glanced at her reflection
in the full-length mirror behind the door and was
startled by how pale she looked. If only she had worn
a brighter color that day. Her navy blue dress was
slimming to her stocky figure, but it did nothing to
add color to her pale face. She hurriedly applied
some blush to her cheeks and gave her red hair a
brief comb-through. She noted with disgust that the
white roots were already showing, although it had
been only two weeks since her last dye job. Today,
however, the condition of her hair was the least of
her worries. She locked the door to the office from
the inside and sat in George's chair to await the clean-
ing service. Thirty-five people worked for the
investment firm, and she didn't want them to be
abuzz with gossip about the latest antics of the prank-
ster. That would only feed the frenzy and encourage
that idiot to do more damage.
     The scene at the Reilly Investment Co. that morn-
ing was like a dress rehearsal for what would come a
week and a half later. But then there would be a
body, and the sticky, clotted, drippy red stuff would
not be ketchup.
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This ends the excerpt from Gail Farrelly's novel, 
DUPED BY DERIVATIVES.

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