Dying Grace

If you are new to Darlene’s Story, here’s the gist:  Darlene Whitman always heard that you can pick your friends but not your family.  She realizes the lie in this statement when nosy eighty-two-year-old neighbor, Myrtle Crawford, insists on helping unravel the mystery behind the disappearances of her husband and father.  Darlene discovers her father’s involvement in illegal cancer drug testing, which is also linked to her husband’s courier business.  Her ties to Myrtle are more complicated than she thought, and now, she must piece together the truth before it’s too late to save either of them.

Oh, and Jeff was Darlene’s father’s business partner and pseudo uncle until he faked his death several years ago.  They have had several encounters since his “death.”

And now, for the next segment in the story:


As Darlene ate her smothered burrito, she moved Myrtle’s letter to the side so she wouldn’t drip red sauce on it.  Her eyes settled on the words for a third time.


I know you lied to me- you have what you needed all along.  You must be scared and confused, as you should be.  Time is running out for me, and there are a few more things you have to know.  The mind is our body’s ultimate protector.  To do what you’ll need to, you have to first believe who the monster is and what he’s capable of.  Research the owner of his employer.  Peruse your mother’s medical records.  (Mine will be available to you upon my passing.) Striking similarities…

I believe the suits are insiders on the scheme.  Of course, I can’t prove it, but it’s a strong gut feeling.  If you need someone to confide in, Jeff is on our side.  I’m sure you’ll find it hard to believe, but justice is what he wants, too.  Everything you need is in your hands.  Every piece is important.

Above all else, please know that I loved you.  My heart aches to say goodbye without you at my bedside holding my hand, but I’ve made amends with God and understand this is how it shall be.


Tears welled up once again.  Myrtle loved her?  Why?  Questions tugged at her heart.

She startled when someone slid into the booth seat in front of her.  When her gaze traveled up the elbows on the table and saw Jeff Weissman’s face, she choked on her burrito. She dislodged it from her throat with cough and a long swig of Diet Coke.

He leaned forward.  “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”  He grinned.

Darlene stifled her shock and faked a smile she hoped exuded the grace of someone who possessed more confidence and courage than she’d ever mustered.  Myrtle.

“Haven’t I?  You’ve died so many times; I suspect you’re not of this world.”


This is my response to the Trifecta weekly challenge, which is to write a 33 to 333-word response (mine is 332) using the following word/definition:  GRACE: (noun) –(a) a charming or attractive trait or characteristic; (b) a pleasing appearance or effect : charm <all the grace of youth — John Buchan>; (c) ease and suppleness of movement or bearing

If you want to read other responses, or try the challenge yourself, click here to view Trifecta’s site.  Happy writing (and reading!)

Once again, this is a community-voted challenge, which means that readers have the opportunity to vote on their three favorites by visiting Trifecta’s site after the challenge closes on Thursday, at 8PM Eastern time.


This continuation of Darlene’s Story is still in Darlene’s point of view.  Click here for Darlene’s Story page if you want to read the entire piece.  Thanks for stopping by!


67 thoughts on “Dying Grace

  1. Debbie September 2, 2013 / 9:59 AM

    Ooh, Jeff surfaces again! What a good mystery letter Myrtle left Darlene. So filled with clues and innuendos! Such a good progression you’ve got here, Janna.

    • jannatwrites September 2, 2013 / 7:48 PM

      Thanks, Debbie! I appreciate you reading it 🙂

  2. atrm61 September 2, 2013 / 11:04 AM

    Am so thrilled to see that the story continues & still the plot is unraveling:-)Janna I have to tell you,you are really evolving into a world class writer-the letter from Myrtle is so beautiful & this piece read like a pg from Robin Cook!Loved the small details & the line you wove the prompt word into,just took my breath away with its finesse!

    • jannatwrites September 2, 2013 / 7:52 PM

      You are so sweet, Atreyeee! I’m glad you’re back and are able to jump back into the story 🙂

      • atrm61 September 3, 2013 / 1:10 PM

        Janna,am not sweet at all,lol! It’s just that you write so well-u inspire me,so thank you :-)Glad to continue reading the story-was afraid it was over 😛

        • jannatwrites September 3, 2013 / 10:53 PM

          I do appreciate you reading, Atreyee. Thanks 😀

        • atrm61 September 5, 2013 / 3:07 AM


  3. nrhatch September 2, 2013 / 11:06 AM

    Jeff has some smooth moves. Here’s hoping that the 2 of them can right some wrongs. Write on!

    • jannatwrites September 2, 2013 / 7:56 PM

      Darlene is still unsure if she should trust Jeff. She will figure it out soon, I hope 🙂 Thanks so much for reading, Nancy!

  4. Annabelle September 2, 2013 / 1:10 PM

    Not sure how to feel about that Jeff…

    • jannatwrites September 2, 2013 / 7:58 PM

      You’re smart, Annabelle! Darlene doesn’t know how to feel, either 🙂

  5. philosophermouseofthehedge September 2, 2013 / 2:42 PM

    I really chuckled over the choice of meals; smothered burrito – and red sauce dripping on the side – whether planned or not – it’s perfect for the story.

    • jannatwrites September 2, 2013 / 7:59 PM

      Hahaha! I can see why that would be funny. Phil 🙂 It wasn’t planned, but perhaps my subconscious was in on this one.

  6. a spirit of simplicity September 2, 2013 / 5:21 PM

    this is the first time I’ve read but you have me interested in reading more.

    • jannatwrites September 2, 2013 / 8:02 PM

      I’m glad it captured your interest, asos. I hope you do decide to read future segments!

  7. Lance September 2, 2013 / 5:52 PM

    I like Darlene more and more and now the plot thickens with Jeff. How will Myrtle manipulate this?

    I’m very invested, so more, please.

    • jannatwrites September 2, 2013 / 8:05 PM

      Thanks for following the story, Lance! I hope like the future segments 🙂

  8. vishalbheeroo September 3, 2013 / 2:49 AM

    That’s something Jannat. I love the thrill and heart-pounding action:)

    • jannatwrites September 3, 2013 / 10:20 AM

      Thanks so much, Vishal! I appreciate you keeping up with the story.

  9. DonettaS September 3, 2013 / 5:08 AM

    This is a great story. Jeff ‘dying’ a lot would make anyone wary of him. She wonders why Myrtle loved her. This is an exciting story with a lot of questions and suspense. 🙂

    • jannatwrites September 3, 2013 / 10:22 AM

      Myrtle was a long-time neighbor of Darlene’s. She’d largely kept her distance (to protect her privacy) so Myrtle’s declaration of love was a bit surprising. Thank you so much for reading and sharing your comment, Donnetta!

  10. Brian Benoit September 3, 2013 / 9:53 AM

    This is turning into a great whodunit thriller, and the development of the characters still strikes me as the best part of all. Nice Janna!

    • jannatwrites September 3, 2013 / 10:25 AM

      Thanks, Brian! I’m glad the characters come through well. That was the main goal of these story segments because my main focus has always been plot…I wanted to “know” the characters better. I appreciate you reading and sharing your thoughts!

  11. theinnerzone September 3, 2013 / 2:18 PM

    My first time read too, “You’ve died so many times; I suspect you’re not of this world.” – i am hooked on that line.

    • jannatwrites September 3, 2013 / 10:39 PM

      I’m glad that line got your attention, Theinnerzone. I appreciate you reading this piece.

  12. Ivy (Mommy Dourest) September 3, 2013 / 4:32 PM

    Ok, I’m dying to know what’s going on with Myrtle. It seems as if she has a secret connection to Darlene that Darlene hasn’t uncovered yet. Am I on the right track? Huh? Huh? 🙂

    • jannatwrites September 3, 2013 / 10:41 PM

      You’re funny, Ivy! You’ll have to wait and see what happens 🙂

  13. Glynis September 3, 2013 / 6:53 PM

    I’m new to this story and like theinnerzone, I love the lines ‘You’ve died so many times; I suspect you’re not of this world.” I’ll have to catch up and find out what I’ve missed.

    • jannatwrites September 3, 2013 / 10:42 PM

      I’m glad it made you interested enough to want to know what has happened, Glynis. Thanks for reading!

  14. Sandra September 3, 2013 / 8:12 PM

    It’s amazing how you can work in a word prompt to your continuing story. Another intriguing episode of Darlene and Myrtle. I’ve suspected the complexity of their relationship before… Hmmm. 🙂

    • jannatwrites September 3, 2013 / 10:45 PM

      Since I don’t write ahead it’s a little easier to work in a prompt. If I already had the segment written, I think I’d get stuck more often. Thanks for taking time to read, Sandra!

  15. Imelda September 4, 2013 / 11:48 AM

    Jeff! The un-killable Jeff. I wonder if he will prove himself this time. What a suspense this is, Janna.

    • jannatwrites September 4, 2013 / 10:04 PM

      Thanks for reading, Imelda. I expect that we’ll hear more from Jeff next week (prompt willing, of course :))

  16. Diane Turner September 4, 2013 / 4:32 PM

    Loving the story. And, ah, Jeff. Don’t quite know what to make of him. I’m staying tuned…

    • jannatwrites September 4, 2013 / 10:05 PM

      If Darlene has learned anything, it should be to not trust too easily. Thanks for keeping up with the story, Diane!

    • jannatwrites September 4, 2013 / 10:07 PM

      He is a wild card right now, Tina 🙂 Thanks so much for reading this segment.

  17. trifectawriting September 5, 2013 / 5:42 AM

    You’ve got quite the story progressing here. Look at all this interest on your page! A true testament to your writing ability. Thanks for linking up. Don’t forget to come back and vote for your favorites at the end.

    • jannatwrites September 5, 2013 / 9:18 PM

      I’ve been having fun working the prompts into the story. Thanks for that opportunity 🙂

  18. Valerie September 5, 2013 / 6:02 AM

    “Everything you need is in your hands. Every piece is important.”

    Well now-talk about intrigue! More please, and soon, Janna!!

    • jannatwrites September 5, 2013 / 9:19 PM

      I appreciate you reading this part, Valerie. I’m still sorting through what to reveal here and what to save for the novel, but there will be more to the story 🙂

    • jannatwrites September 5, 2013 / 9:20 PM

      Thanks, Diane! I appreciate you stopping by to read it!

  19. seablackwithink September 5, 2013 / 12:24 PM

    Well written…love the continuation.

    • jannatwrites September 5, 2013 / 9:22 PM

      Thanks so much for reading, Seablackwithink!

      • seablackwithink September 6, 2013 / 9:58 AM


  20. jwilliams057 September 5, 2013 / 1:38 PM

    I’m so sad about Myrtle. I don’t want her to die. 😦

    • jannatwrites September 5, 2013 / 9:31 PM

      It is a sad circumstance. Thanks for reading this part, Jennifer!

  21. joetwo September 5, 2013 / 3:27 PM

    This keeps getting better and better. Poor Darling.

    • jannatwrites September 5, 2013 / 9:35 PM

      I’m glad you’re enjoying the story, Joe. Thanks so much for reading!

  22. Michael September 5, 2013 / 3:59 PM

    Jeff has more lives than a cat!

    • jannatwrites September 5, 2013 / 9:36 PM

      Yeah, he does….but eventually, I’m sure his luck will run out!

  23. lovelylici1986 September 5, 2013 / 4:02 PM

    I really like those last few lines.
    Loving this serial. 🙂
    -Alicia Audrey

  24. KymmInBarcelona September 5, 2013 / 4:41 PM

    This piece has a different feel to it, more laid back? Taking a breath to say goodbye to Myrtle?
    And that Jeff… I’m rooting for him, though.

    • jannatwrites September 5, 2013 / 9:38 PM

      A few people commented on the last one that they wanted to know what Myrtle wrote in the letter, so I thought it would be fun to that. Thanks for reading, Kymm.

  25. Jen September 5, 2013 / 5:24 PM

    As a newbie to Trifecta I am totally enthralled, I’m going to have to come back and read this from the beginning!

    • jannatwrites September 5, 2013 / 9:40 PM

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Jen! I’m glad you enjoyed the story. I hope you do have a chance to read the rest of it…I’ve been writing it since January, so there have been a lot of twists and turns since then 🙂

  26. Anja September 5, 2013 / 6:39 PM

    Oh I love this…..looking forward to more. 🙂

    • jannatwrites September 5, 2013 / 9:41 PM

      I’m glad you liked it, Anja. Thanks for stopping by to read it!

  27. Joanne September 5, 2013 / 7:27 PM

    Sucked back in again…just like that. Each chapter weaves a new spell, and yet build on earlier threads. Suspense builds, but I still don’t trust Jeff.

    • jannatwrites September 5, 2013 / 9:45 PM

      🙂 At this point, it’s hard to trust anyone in this story! I’m glad you had a chance to stop by and read it, Joanne.

  28. Momo September 6, 2013 / 1:08 AM

    Like many others, this is my first read of your work. I love the detail and the characters are incredibly compelling!

  29. pattisj September 6, 2013 / 9:16 PM

    That burrito sounds good right now! LOL I like this segment of the story.

    • jannatwrites September 7, 2013 / 12:32 AM

      If you get a good red sauce, they are quite yummy, Patti 🙂 Glad you liked this part.

  30. Sarah Ann September 16, 2013 / 11:46 AM

    Love the use of the prompt. You fill this with so much sadness (Myrtle’s letter) and then bring in the gallows humour (Jeff and his ghost comment) to lighten the mood. There is so much in here. I don’t think I want this series to end.

    • jannatwrites September 16, 2013 / 11:33 PM

      Your comment is a gift Sarah Ann. For the last couple weeks, I’ve been contemplating if this has dragged out for too long. I’m glad that, at least for you, the story has not overstayed its welcome 🙂

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