Thursday, 15 April 2010

Excerpt Day - Tall, Dark and Deadly © Lorie O’Clare


“Copy that.” Lieutenant Grace Jordan held the two way radio to her lips while resting her elbow on the roof of her squad car. She lowered her gaze so she could concentrate. The longer she stared at the God-awful scene in front of her, the more her mind started fucking with her.

“There’s nothing on file,” Chrissy Briggs, the RPD dispatcher repeated.

Grace let her finger off the toggle button of the two-way microphone. The curly chord stretched to its limit where she stood next to the open driver’s side door. “I can’t believe there’s never been a rape before in Rockville, South Dakota.”

“Rockville is a small town. We might be in the Badlands, but that doesn’t mean we have a high crime rate.” Lieutenant Eugene Bosley paused at the front of her car. “All that means is that if there are any rapes, they aren’t reported.”

“Huh,” she muttered, pushing a stubborn strand of hair that wouldn’t stay with the others, behind her ear.

It was a bitch learning this antiquated system Rockville used. She knelt into her car, put the two-way back on its clip on the dash, and reached for her flashlight. Already the other officers were all over the crime scene, Grace wouldn’t let lack of technology blotch up her investigation though.

“Time to rely on old-fashioned intuition,” she ordered herself.

“Time to rely on what?” Bosley was right behind her when she straightened. His Clark Kent good looks were out of place in this morbid scene. “Stick with me. I’ll show you the ropes, sweetheart.”

“I’ve seen rape before.” She knew more about the despicable act than anyone in this town would ever know. “Have we gotten a hold of her parents yet?”

“They’re on their way now,” Bosley told her as he walked by her side over to the body lying behind the Dairy Queen.

Grace looked around the dark parking lot, and across the street at the courthouse. Amazing that someone could do something this horrendous in the middle of town and get away with it. Grace wouldn’t ever get the stomach for this—no matter how many grotesque things she’d learned humans were capable of over the years. She turned, putting her hand over her mouth and squatted in front of the young girl, lying partially naked on the asphalt.

“Looks like she was pretty,” she said, adjusting her latex gloves before reaching to move a strand of blonde hair from the victims face.

“April Monroe. Not sure of her age. Marla works over at Stop And Go. She’s locking the place up and should be here soon.” Bosley stood over her, his matter-of-fact tone so typical.

“Is she okay to drive over here?” Grace asked. She stared at the halter top strap that was pulled half way down the girl’s arm, and at her shorts, which were twisted around her ankles.

“The Stop And Go is just down the street.” Bosley patted her head. “But I think she’s got a ride bringing her.”

Grace nodded. Rockville wasn’t a big town, which was part of the appeal in accepting the position here. She would learn her way around soon enough. “Was April in high school?” She did know that there was only one grade school and one high school in Rockville.

“You think someone in one of her classes did this?” Bosley asked incredulously, like he didn’t believe it to be the case. He walked around April, standing and looking down at her and then the body on the ground. The radio beeped in the car and he walked over to answer it.

Grace trained her flashlight over April. It would be hard to speculate anything until after the autopsy. Not knowing anything about the teenage girl, other than she once was very pretty, Grace did know there wasn’t anything she could have done to deserve dying like this.

“Bruises on her right and left arms. She appears to have a fat lip, possibly a broken nose. Right eye is swollen shut,” she said to herself, making mental notes for now on April’s condition. She stood, walking towards the victim’s feet and then scanning the parking lot for shoes. “The bottom of her socks aren’t dirty. Maybe she kicked her shoes off in a struggle but he carried her.” She shot the flashlight beam around the parking lot, and then glanced towards the street when someone pulled into the lot.

Bosley got out of his car and headed towards the approaching vehicle. He spoke with the older man who got out of the car. An ambulance pulled up behind him, and then another patrol car.
Party time.

Grace glanced back at the young girl. “You shouldn’t have died like this. I’m sorry,” she whispered, guessing the amount of pain the girl possibly endured during her last few minutes of life.
The flashlight beam trained on a dark spot above the girl’s right hip bone. Grace walked around to the side of the girl and squatted once again as the others walked up to stand around her. She leaned closer, trying to determine what the circular mark was.

Her heart swelled and a painful memory constricted around it. She couldn’t be sure in the dark, and allowing her God-awful past to surface now wasn’t healthy. Grace closed her eyes, ignoring the voices around her.

Even if it were a cigar burn on April’s hip, it didn’t mean anything. The monster who tortured and abused Grace for years was dead. Dead and never coming back.

There were other monster’s on this planet. Too many, actually.
Grace stood, blowing out a breath and grabbing her wits when she focused on Bosley and the man standing next to him.

“Grace, this is Richard Starkey, our medical examiner. Grace just hired on. She’s from D.C.” Bosley rocked up on his heels, like he was proud of her or something.

Starkey nodded seriously. “A big city cop might be a good thing on the force. Would you look at this,” he said, done with introductions and all business. “What kind of jerk would do this to a child?”

“A very sick one,” Grace commented, returning her attention to April. “Looks like she was beaten pretty badly but the bottom of her socks are clean. Someone either carried her here, or was holding her and she kicked off her shoes.”

Bosley turned, walking away from them and scanning the darkness with his flashlight. Grace watched Starkey and the ambulance drivers who moved in around April. Another car tried entering the parking lot but couldn’t around the emergency vehicles. Grace guessed the mother had arrived when she heard the wails of a woman, and turned to see a lady running towards them.

“No. April! No!” The woman screamed, and then stopped when she stood close enough to see April lying on the ground. Her wails turned to broken hearted sobs as she covered her mouth with her hands. “It can’t be. It can’t be,” she murmured.

Grace didn’t know anyone in Rockville, and by their actions, Bosley and Starkey knew April’s mother. Grace knew there wasn’t anything the men could say to ease her pain though.

Grace stared at the girl on the ground, at her lifeless body. It was like she could hear her final screams, feel the girl’s willingness to do anything—absolutely anything—to make her assailant stop.
She knew that level of hopelessness, of acceptance to whatever might be done to her. And she knew the despicable taste that came with submitting to a monster and willingly doing whatever he wanted.

The dark circle on the girl’s hip leapt out at her, pulling her into it like a doorway opening to her past. She prayed the mark wasn’t what she thought it might be. There wasn’t anything that compared to being burnt with a cigar. She cringed, swearing for a moment that she smelled the burnt flesh all over again.

“Whoever did this,” Grace heard herself saying, and wondered when she’d put her hand on Marla’s shoulder. “I swear to you I’ll catch him.”

Marla’s eyes were moist and glassy when she looked at Grace.
“Will that bring back my April?” she demanded, anger and hatred making her voice tight.

“No ma’am, it won’t,” Grace conceded. She wasn’t good enough to bring back the dead. She turned when the radio chirped, leaving Bosley to ask the standard questions about April. Grace heard the answers—suspect was sixteen, supposedly babysitting, a good girl who never gave her mother any grief. She reached the patrol car and slid behind the driver’s seat to answer the radio.

“Are you ten ninety eight?” Dispatch asked.

“Negative. We’re still here on sight, ten four.” Grace let go of the button on the radio handle and stared at the many tiny holes on it as she held the receiver in her hand.

“I need you en route to ten fifteen Ash, caller reported victim attacked. It’s an eleven forty one. I’m dispatching an ambulance now,” Christy said quickly, her excited voice chirping through the small speaker. “But it sounds like two in one night,” she added.

“And you’re telling me this is the first Rockville’s ever seen of these kind of attacks?” What had she done, jinxed the town by coming here to work?

“I’ll check in to that for you, ten four,” Christy said.

“I’ll give you an ETA in a few, ten four.”

Bosley drove over to Ash street ten minutes later, leaving one officer to scope the area behind the Dairy Queen and search for any clues that would tell why April Monroe was found back there with clean socks and no shoes. Grace wrote all clues she knew in her notepad, glancing up only once or twice while Bosley hurried across town.

“Two girls attacked in one night,” Bosley said under his breath.
“This is insane. What in the hell has descended on Rockville?”

Grace glanced over to find him giving her a pointed look. She shrugged. “You tell me,” she countered, refusing to allow her imagination run out of control. Like girls being attacked had anything to do with her accepting a new position with law enforcement here in town.

Grace needed out of D.C. Too many old ghosts lingered in that town. There was no way any of them followed her here, except for the ones still stubbornly buried in her mind. Years of counseling proved to her that those memories would only hurt her if she allowed them to. Well no one, ever, would hurt her again. And as long as she was in uniform, she’d do her damndest to make sure other women didn’t suffer the same pain and humiliation that she’d been through.

Although she was off to a hell of a start in this town.

“I thought the address sounded familiar,” Bosley said when he pulled up in front of Ten Fifteen Ash. “This is the Brewster house.”

“Brewster house?” Grace asked, staring at the plain looking track home that matched the other houses on the block shy of being painted a battleship gray while the house on its left was a faded green, and the one on the right a dark blue.

“Ralph and Candy Brewster. Last I heard I think they’ve got ten kids.”

“Ten kids?” Grace couldn’t imagine it. Taking care of her daughter was more than a handful at times.

Bosley rolled his eyes and pulled to a stop, curbing it with the tires as he parked. Grace jumped out, patting her gun at her waist when she immediately heard loud voices inside. Several neighbors stood out in their yard down the street, looking on curiously. They turned away, making a show of talking to each other, when Grace glanced their way.

“Police!” Bosley announced, reaching around Grace to rap on the screen door.

All right reserved © Lorie O’Clare

Read the rest of chapter one here

Tall, Dark and Deadly

Author: Lorie O’Clare

Genre: Romance Suspense

Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks;

Buy link

Grace Jordan is leaving her dark past behind. Having traded in her big-city badge for life in the slow lane in Rockville, South Dakota, Grace and her daughter were hoping to make a fresh, clean start. But crime is at large in small towns, too…and young women keep turning up brutally murdered. Before she knows , Grace has got a serial murder case on her hands - and the infuriatingly seductive FBI agent Justin Reece by her side.

Grace did not come to Rockville looking for romance. But she can’t deny the chemistry between her and Justin - no matter how much she might want to. Meanwhile, things keep heating up as more women turn up dead, and a disturbing pattern points to a killer who seems to be sending a message for Grace alone. But how could he know such secret, scandelous details about her past life? Unless he happens to be someone from the past she would kill to forget…


3 Speak To Me:

Chris on 15 April 2010 at 13:34 said...

Ok, this I can resist, it being m/f. :)

bittenbyromance on 15 April 2010 at 20:53 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bittenbyromance on 15 April 2010 at 21:28 said...

You think this one is good wait until you get to the third book Strong, Sleek and Sinful I just read it and it was exciting and HOT!

I just read that book you had on here Moonlight Menage and really liked it. I have your post when I am done with the review and post it I will ad your link to it. Thanks so much for letting me know about Stephanie she great! I will be getting that other book Deadly Shadows in this next month I cant wait to read that one:)