Elements of Mystery takes chemistry to a new level in the ongoing series of mystery novels by author Terri Talley Venters.

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Deleted Prologue from Carbon Copy

Abducting a newborn topped Hilda’s agenda. At midnight, she entered the birthing suite at Manhattan’s Mercy Hospital where Alexandra and the birth mother bonded. How sweet? Hilda smirked.

“Excuse me, Mrs. Montgomery, I’m here to take your blood pressure,” Hilda said. She approached the patient’s bed and prayed her nerves didn’t show.

“I’m so sick of being awakened all of the time,” Alexandra’s mother said.

“Well, I’m, sorry to bother you, Mrs. Montgomery, but I’m just doing my job,” Hilda said, even as she wished she no longer had to do this job. Why Tom-Tom insisted on abducting newborns from a hospital rather than from a house or a park irritated her.

This new mother sounded rude. But it made Hilda’s upcoming task much easier. She’d learned years ago the necessity of distancing herself from her emotions, and she stopped giving a rat’s ass about the patients a long time ago.

“Well, how about you do your job and get me medication to help me sleep, I’m exhausted,” the woman said.

“I have just what you need. This should help you sleep,” Hilda said. She handed a container of white pills to Mrs. Montgomery and poured her a glass of water.

“This won’t affect my breast milk will it? I know my milk hasn’t come in yet, but I plan on nursing my precious Alexandra,” the woman said.

“I assure you, Mrs. Montgomery, Alexandra will be just fine. I’ll change her diaper for you, so you won’t have to worry about it for a while,” Hilda said.

“Thank you, I appreciate the gesture. My husband, the useless piece of shit, went home to sleep. Can you believe his nerve?” Mrs. Montgomery asked.

Hilda nodded her head sympathetically. Most new mothers acted cranky, due to the abrupt change in their hormone levels. Everyone and everything got on their nerves and they believed their husbands proved totally useless. Many referred to this as the “I-hate-you phase.”

Relieved about the absence of Alexandra’s father, she turned her back to the birth mother and approached Alexandra’s bassinet. Hilda’s wide girth obstructed Mrs. Montgomery’s view of the baby.

Hilda gazed upon the tiny, helpless newborn, a Carbon Copy of a newborn she abducted twenty-five years before. Hilda recalled helping transition the baby the night before. Shortly after babies are born, they are taken to the nursery. This is where the baby is washed, weighed, measured, and given numerous tests. Hilda, the nurse who fastened the security tags on Baby Montgomery’s wrist and ankle, intentionally left Alexandra’s tags looser than normal.

Hilda grabbed a diaper and some wipes from underneath the bassinet. Before she removed the soiled diaper, Hilda slowly removed a tiny medicine dropper from her sweater pocket. She administered several drops of liquid into Alexandra’s tiny mouth. This baby will sleep well tonight, too.

Hilda slid off both of Alexandra’s security tags and wrapped them in the dirty diaper. She tossed the soiled diaper into the trash can and wiped Alexandra’s bottom. Hilda put a fresh diaper on the baby and tightly wrapped up the baby girl in a blanket. Alexandra now resembled a large burrito.

“Sleep well, Mrs. Montgomery, I’ll see you in the morning,” Hilda said. She turned to look at Alexandra’s mother, who had already fallen asleep.

Hilda unbuttoned her sweater to reveal the baby sling. She picked up Alexandra and placed her in the sling. She buttoned her sweater and looked into the mirror. Perfect, she thought. Hilda’s sturdy frame and overweight midsection provided the perfect camouflage. No one would suspect her wide girth or her bulging sweater concealed a newborn.

At least Tom-Tom stopped making her steal twins like she did twenty-five years ago. But back then, hospital security barely existed. Now this particular hospital utilized cameras in every nook and cranny of the maternity ward. Everywhere, except in the birthing suites.

Hilda walked slow down the hall and pushed the elevator button. She took out her cigarettes as the elevator door opened. A young doctor exited the elevator as she got on.

“You shouldn’t smoke,” he said.

“I know, I know, I’ve been meaning to quit. But I’m a New Yorker, what can I say,” Hilda said.

Once on the ground floor, Hilda headed toward the exit and nonchalantly stepped outside. She paused and lit up the second she could. She inhaled several puffs and looked up towards the sky. She meandered around the side of the building, just out of range of the security cameras.

“You got a light, Miss?” A very large man asked as he placed his own cigarette between his eager lips.

“Sure,” Hilda said. She retrieved her lighter. “Here, let me light it for you.”

Hilda stepped close to the large man and attempted to light his cigarette. The lighter didn’t work. “I’m sorry, sir. This is one of those cheapo lighters which apparently do not work very well,” Hilda said. She continued with several more failed attempts at lighting the man’s cigarette.

“I’m in no hurry, Ma’am,” he said. He reached under Hilda’s sweater and found the newborn tucked into the baby sling. He removed the precious cargo, opened his jacket, and tucked the baby into his baby sling.

“There we go,” Hilda said, as the flame finally accomplished its task.

“Thank you, Ma’am. It sure is getting cold out here,” he said. He buttoned up his overcoat.

“It’s supposed to get down into the teens tonight, or so I hear,” Hilda said. She puffed on the last of her cigarette.

“Winter will be here before we know it,” the man said. He puffed away on his cigarette like an addict.

“Well, I better get back to work,” Hilda said as she stomped out her cigarette.

“Thanks again, you have a good night,” Pauley said. He walked away with baby Alexandra Montgomery carefully hidden underneath his overcoat.

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