Friday, September 30, 2022

Read an Excerpt from Jorden by Taylor Lee

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JORDEN, Book 3 in USA Today best-selling author Taylor Lee’s provocative new series, The Justice Brothers. JORDEN, the oldest Justice Brother, is unquestionably the most distinguished. But underneath that sophisticated persona is a sexy, challenging lover.

· An Assistant US Attorney fights the legal battle of his life. This time Jorden’s on the defense and his children are at stake.

· An accomplished psychologist and coach revered by all, Mac discovers she can’t outrun her past. She can only hope her righteous lover will forgive her.

· An evil woman isn’t about to let her children and former husband go without a fight. And this woman fights dirty!

· A family drama that calls for the best and the worst of the two passionate lovers. Unfortunately, Jorden and McKenna discover that Justice—like Love-- isn’t always fair or easy.

WARNING: Romance so HOT it singes the pages. HOT, tough, explicit. Not for the faint at heart. Definitely bring a fan!


Excerpt: 

Striding to the table where the two women were waiting, Jude hollered out to the waiter
who was standing attentively to the side.
“Denny, my man, bring us another glass and be ready with an additional bottle of that
first rate Scotch Ms. Hughes has turned us all onto. My aloof brother has deigned to join us pub
crawlers for the night instead of drinking alone the way he always does. You never know how
much those solo drinkers can put away.”
“Sure thing, Detective Justice,” the gangly waiter with the Dead Head tatts decorating the
back of his neck and both forearms, said with a grin. Nodding to Jorden, he added, “Good
evening, Mr. Justice. Would you like a menu or do want what all of these guys ordered?”
“Uh, thanks, Denny. I think I’ll add to my outrageous brother’s portrayal of me as a
raging alcoholic and stick to the Scotch. In addition to being a private lush, I’m also a wuss. It
would take me a week to digest Ms. Hughes’ chosen finger food, a double bacon burger with
extra cheese. Although, I will tempt the Jude’s derision and Skylar’s chagrin and have a side of
your deep fried vegetables to go along with my bottle of Scotch.”
“Right on, man. I mean, Mr. District Attorney. If you change your mind about the
burger and French fries, just let me know.”
Intercepting what was sure to be an over the top introduction to the woman sitting next to
Skylar, Jorden strode past his brother and bussed Skylar on the cheek then extended his hand to
the redheaded woman he’d been admiring earlier in the gym.
“Good evening, Ms. Durant. In addition to being this outrageous guy’s older and
definitely stuffier brother, I’m the father of one of the most beautiful almost sixteen year olds
inhabiting the earth.”
Ms. Durant’s voice was as melodic as the tempting laugh he’d heard earlier. The sound
that he admitted had been powerful enough to draw him into the pub rather than escape to his
empty house.
The confident woman shook his hand firmly. “Good evening, Mr. Justice. And may I
say that your descriptions of the people who surround you are on target.” She grinned at Jude.
“Detective Justice tops the outrageousness Richter scale, and you definitely have a lovely and
talented daughter.” She turned to Skylar with a smile. “As for this one hundred and ten pound
pixie that could eat all of us under the table, let me just say that I am green with envy. If I ate
half of what Skylar does, you would have to roll me out of this pub strapped to a gurney.”

Jorden joined in the laughter and sank into the chair between the two women across from
his brother. Ignoring Jude’s ‘I told you so expression’, Jorden responded to the woman to his
left, deciding for the moment that he’d try to ignore her enticing fragrance.
“We’re in agreement on all counts with one clarification. My name is Jorden. It’s bad
enough when two of my brothers, Jude and Jared, are routinely referred to as outrageous, while
Jake and I’m known as the uptight ones. So please, hold the “Mr.’s” and any other titles and call
me Jorden.”
As he spoke he allowed himself to see that in addition to her thick red hair streaked with
gold and tied in a casual pony tail, the gorgeous woman had stunning dark brown almost black
eyes shadowed by dark brows and lush lashes. Her pale, smooth skin was heated by a soft rosy
glow that spoke to her healthy lifestyle. In addition she had one of those full pouty mouths that
demanded to be kissed, slowly and well. Startled by his untoward reaction to her, Jorden forced
himself to concentrate on her response to his request that she call him by his first name.
Meeting his focused gaze, she responded pleasantly, “I’m pleased to do so, Mr….I mean
Jorden. If you will call me ‘Mac’ like everyone else does.”
At his questioning expression, she explained. “My irrepressible Irish father dealt with his
disappointment that I was born sans what he considered necessary equipment, by naming me
McKenna and shortening it to Mac when I was two days old. In a sop to my outraged mother, he
agreed to change what he’d decreed to be my middle name from Liam to Leanne as long as I
would always be called ‘Mac’ Durant.”
Jorden frowned. “Wait a minute. Don’t tell me that Lucky Liam Durant is your father?”
Mac laughed again and said with an expressive sigh, “One and the same. And yes, my
love of basketball was bred into me before I was born. Thanks goodness, he overruled my five
foot two inch diminutive mother by contributing the lion’s share of my height genes. Which gave
me a fighting chance to become a decent basketball player. Not in the NBA, as he was, you
understand…”
Jude interrupted. “Don’t sell yourself short, Mac. No pun intended…. Playing in the
2008 Olympic games in Beijing should have been enough for any overbearing father, even an
Irish NBA superstar.”
Jorden shook his head in agreement. “Wow that’s impressive. You father must have been
ecstatic.”

“Yes, he was. And he was gracious enough to give my mother the lion’s share of credit
for helping me keep basketball in perspective by insisting that I pay as much attention to getting
my PH.D as I did playing ball. My mom insisted that my brain was as important as my body.
Although I agree with my dad that basketball is one of the most intellectual sports there is.”
Jorden studied her wondering when he’d seen a more impressive woman who was
beautiful to boot. He tried not to gush, rather to speak from his perspective as a parent.
“You’re luck Mac that your patents balanced each other out. Now that I am a father, I can
understand the desire to give your offspring every possible advantage even if those advantages
are more about your own sense of legacy than theirs. One can only hope that you’re humble
enough to acknowledge that your children may choose an equally honorable path even if is not
the one you chose for them.”
He glanced at Skylar and nodded acknowledging her overbearing genius father who had
done his best to ruin her life and continued. “For example when my parents were murdered, my
grandfather, the Judge, resigned from the bench and decreed that none of the four of us brothers
would follow in the legal footprints of my dead father and himself. The Judge wanted to ensure
that we would live peaceful lives as far from dangerous pursuits as he could engineer for us. He
was determined that we would be educators or inventors or financiers. Anything but lawyers or
cops or special agents. Need I say that was all the incentive we each needed to enter the law
enforcement arena after serving as special operatives in the most dangerous infernos we could
find.”
At the surprised silence greeting his offhand reference to his parents’ brutal deaths and
casual acknowledgement of the dangerous lives he and his brothers had chosen, Jorden was
saved by Denny’s arrival. Aided by another lanky server, their attentive waiter unloaded the
groaning trays of food placing all but his vegetables in front of the three heartier eaters. Jorden
sucked in a breath and didn’t bother to glance at his brother. He didn’t have to. He already knew
the expression he would see on Jude’s face. He thought with a silent snort that would teach his
interfering brother to try to break him out of his self-imposed loner shell by inviting him to share
a casual meal.
As usual, Skylar intervened with an astute and gracious response.
“You have an advantage over the rest of us, Jorden. It’s easy to criticize our parents’
goals for us, even when we agree with them. It has to be challenging to step back and let your

children who you deeply love and want to protect choose their own futures, their own ways to
fly.”
Jorden gave a short laugh devoid of mirth as he took the bottle of Scotch from the table
and without asking refilled all of their glasses.
“Thanks, Skylar, for stepping in to cover for my lack of witty repartee.” He nodded to
Mac who was studying him with a thoughtful frown. “Please, eat. Ignore my untoward
references to murder and mayhem and enjoy your food.”
At the silence from his companions, he held up his plate and said with a strained grin.
“Vegetables anyone?”
Jude laughed and speared a cornmeal encrusted piece of broccoli and put it on Skylar’s
plate then grinned at his brother.
“Hey, bro, don’t apologize for introducing roughage to the table. I’ve even convinced the
sprite to occasionally add something green to her diet, like a vegetable.”
Munching on a cheese laden French fry, Sky shot him a dismissive shrug. “So, potatoes
aren’t considered vegetables, Detective Justice?”
“No, Ms. Hughes. As you well know I’m referring to the green varieties. You know, the
ones that have leaves and stems. And that are not smothered in grease and four pounds of
cheese.” When Skylar tilted her chin and gave a saucy smirk, Jude’s lip quirked up in a
salacious grin.
“Careful there, Squirt. Raise that sassy chin of yours another inch and I may have to
make good on one of my threats. That is to sit you on my lap and feed you…”
Skylar blushed when Jude shot her a wicked wink letting the rest of his threat go
unspoken. From the soft smile quirking Mac’s lips, Jorden saw that the dark eyed, redheaded
Irish woman appreciated Jude’s intended sexy overtone to his threat. Deciding that the sudden
tightness in his trousers confirmed that it had been too long since a woman had piqued his
interest, Jorden allowed himself to imagine holding Ms. Durant, make that Mac, on his lap and
feeding her tidbits of food. That image coupled with the surreptitious assessments he’d made of
her ass as she’d strode up and down the sidelines of the basketball court almost made him forget
his clumsy oration that had brought their lively conversation to a halt. That moment was cut
short by Mac’s attempt to change the conversation.

“Speaking of your beautiful daughter, Jorden, Chloe told me about the sixteenth birthday
bash that you’ve planned for her.”
Jorden demurred with a smile. “I can’t claim the credit or the blame. The bash, as it is
rightly being called, is the brainchild of my doting grandfather. The Judge, who loves
entertaining, insists that a party to end all parties is the only way to celebrate his adored great
granddaughter’s coming of age. If I had my way, we’d be going to the park to play on the swings
and have a Princess cake like we did when she was eight.”
Mac laughed. “Well, whoever is planning it, Chloe is giddy with anticipation. Of course
the fact that she and her mother are planning a shopping spree to buy what Chloe described as a
‘killer dress to end all dresses’ has something to do with her excitement.”
Jorden stared at her then dropped his fork and rose to his feet knocking his chair to the
floor with a loud crash. Mac reared back in her chair her eyes widening with surprise. Seeing her
consternation, Jorden tried to explain but his desert dry mouth was incapable of forming and
spitting out words.
Mac stared at him in dismay.
“I…I’m sorry. Did I say something wrong, betray a confidence? If so, I apologize…I
…didn’t…”
Jorden held up his hand stopping her. He knew he was glaring at her but the rage flooding
him made it impossible for him to soften his expression or speak in a normal tone. Instead his
harsh words and equally hard tone made his anger clear.
“Don’t apologize. This has nothing to do with you. You did nothing wrong.”
He sucked in an audible breath and made a clumsy attempt to explain.
“The problem is that Chloe and Emma have not seen or talked to their mother for over six
years.”
Shooting Mac a grim stare, he didn’t mask his cold anger and added,
“Oh and I have a restraining order in place preventing their mother from being within
fifty yards of the girls without supervision and my express permission.”
He closed his eyes for a moment fighting to calm the outrage that was threatening to
choke him. Reaching for his wallet, he threw a hundred dollar bill on the table and nodded to his
brother.

Assuming the dispassionate tone he relied on when he addressed the court, Jorden said,
“Thank you for a nice evening. I enjoyed ….”
The words stuck in his throat unable to get by the baseball sized lump in his throat. He
met Jude’s acknowledging frown and emitted a heavy sigh. Turning back to Mac who was pale,
her expression strained, he said flatly, “Look, I’m glad you are in Chloe’s life. She needs a
positive female role model.”
He turned and strode to the door without a backward glance at the three silent people
staring at him.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

DEADLY REFLECTIONS (BEHIND CLOSED DOORS: FAMILY SECRETS Book 4) by Regan Black

$3.99 or FREE for Kindle Unlimited Subscribers

Amazon

One family's long-buried secrets could be the key to solving a shocking murder...

With the holiday season in full swing, Paige Coker is planning a surprise party for her father's retirement when she finds troubling documents that indicate she might not be his daughter at all.

Her search for answers is derailed when the event caterer is killed and she becomes the prime suspect. Her alibi is weak, and the police have surveillance footage of a woman at the scene - a woman who looks exactly like Paige. Desperate to clear her name, she reluctantly agrees to cooperate with the private investigator hired by her father.

As a Guardian Agency protector, Carter Oakes has worked his share of sensitive cases. Upon meeting Paige, it's obvious she's hiding something and distressed over far more than the death of the caterer. Earning her trust is a slow process, one that's thrown into overdrive when someone tries to kill her.

With her life hanging in the balance, Paige and Carter must unravel the impossible mystery of these DEADLY REFLECTIONS.


Don't miss any of the standalone books in the BEHIND CLOSED DOORS series, from the bestselling authors of STORMWATCH and BREAKDOWN!
THE LIE Debra Webb
BLOOD STRANGERS Vicki Hinze
SAVAGE BEAUTY Peggy Webb
DEADLY REFLECTIONS Regan Black
FATAL DECEPTIONS Cindy Gerard

 

Chapter 1

Paige Coker stared at the bustling activity behind the uniformed police officer at the front desk of the station. The flurry of voices and movement struck her as chaotic, though that couldn’t really be the case. Several men and women were seated at desks, islands of calm surrounded by the constant, swirling hum of activity.
“Can I help you?” the officer asked.
“I’m Paige Coker,” she replied with a smile. “Detective Lewis asked me to come by.”
The officer lifted his chin toward the chairs lined up against the wall. “Have a seat.”
She sat down to wait, her mind wandering. She remembered visiting this same police station on school field trips through the years. They’d come by in fourth or fifth grade the first time. Years later, her high school criminal justice class toured this station, as well as the courthouse, in order to observe the system in action. The detective she was meeting today had been a classmate and friend on that trip.
Those visits had left her feeling proud of the people who served her community and several of her peers had been inspired to study law or go into police work, like Ronnie. Paige had known she would need to find a different way to contribute. The front lines weren’t the right place for her, an only child groomed from the cradle to take the safe and secure path through life.
Not that she didn’t crave her share of adventure, she just chose her battles carefully. The daughter of wealthy parents who often hosted or headlined the guest list of elite Charleston, South Carolina events, her dreams were carefully analyzed and moderated for risk factors. Anything that had the potential to stir up scandal or, more importantly, to upset the delicate emotional balance at home was set aside.

 

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Read an Excerpt from Twist of Fate by Linda Wisdom

 $3.99

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Diner waitress Allie Walker dreamed of grandeur, but even she never fathomed of being switched into the body of Brianne Sinclair, the world's most beautiful heiress. Dreams come true? Not for long. For when Allie came to as Brianne, there was a dead fiance at her feet--and she was holding the smoking gun!

Only struggling private investigator Pete Hackette believed her innocence. As Allie, she'd had a fierce crush on him, and now, as Brianne, she'd finally made Pete fall in love with her. But which woman was he really in love with? And which woman would survive when the real murderer was finally revealed?

 

 

Excerpt:

Allie tasted the coppery flavor of fear as she spied the knife in his hand. It seemed to move in slow mo­tion toward her. Before she could utter a word, she felt a sharp pain in her chest, then a cold feeling in­vade her body. Just as suddenly the cold disappeared and a damp warmth flooded her skin.

She looked down to see her blood flowing freely down her chest. She looked back up at Whit. She was too stunned to react. For a moment, his anger receded and fear took over. Just as rapidly, it disappeared.

"Now maybe you'll know I mean business," he said cockily, although white lines appeared at the edges of his mouth when he realized how serious her injury was.

"No!" she whispered as she saw her surroundings seem to grow foggy and eventually turn black.

This isn't fair! she raged as the darkness surrounded her. He shouldn't be allowed to get away with this. Please, don't let this happen!

As if her heartfelt plea had been heard, the darkness seemed to fade to a misty gray fog. She still couldn't see anything, but she sensed a presence with her.

Do you want another chance? the presence asked, the unisex voice seeming to come from inside her head.

Yes.

You may have to take on a problem even greater than your own.

I don't care, she heard her own voice answer as an echo inside her head.

Then it shall be.

 

"Brianne. Brianne! My God, what have you done?"

When Allie opened her eyes, she instantly knew that something was very different Not just with her sur­roundings; her body felt different too.

First of all, she didn't feel any pain in her chest, only in her head, which ached abominably. Next she realized she was kneeling on a very soft carpet. That alone told her she wasn't in her apartment. The beau­tifully dressed woman standing next to her, wearing a shocked expression, wasn't anyone she knew. Then she felt cold metal in her hand and looked down. That was when she saw the lethal-looking handgun. She was not only holding a weapon, but lying at her feet was a man dressed in a tuxedo. What caught her at­tention was the bright blossom of red flowering on his chest. There was no doubt in her mind that the color wasn't there because he'd spilled catsup on himself.

"Brianne!"

Allie realized the woman was talking to her. She unsteadily rose to her feet, and when she turned, she saw a mirror on the wall behind the woman. The re­flection staring back at her was more than a surprise. It was a shock that shook her to her toes.

She felt like Allie. She thought like Allie. The trou­ble was, she didn't look like Allie.

Instead of glossy black curls flowing to her shoul­ders, ash blond hair was pulled back in a French twist, with tendrils straggling across her pale cheeks. A white-and-silver, strapless gown covered her slender body instead of a pink polyester waitress uniform that had seen better days. She was positive she could see her own reflection in the mirror, but it looked like a faint mem­ory in the background.

What the hell was going on?

"Brianne, what happened here?" The woman grabbed her arm and pulled her around. "What have you done?"

 

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Stone Of Heaven, Book One in the Carswell Adventure Series by L.A. Sartor

So many people ask me how I come up with my stories (btw, thank you for asking.) And the answer is usually they are based on a “What If” drawn by something I see or think about as I people watch.

Stone Of Heaven was different. My husband was reading an article about a new anthropological find in Guatemala. An incredibly rare Blue Jade Roadway had been uncovered by a recent Hurricane.

LIGHT BULB moment.💡

But I needed more than just a blue jade road. Luckily, we’d already booked a cruise to the Caribbean, and I added a tour of the Tulum ruins and Xel-Há.

 

Truly, I walked through the stone gateway of Tulum and knew this was the place. I could have spent all day there, but there wasn’t time. Not to be to woo-woo, I’ll tell you that I stopped by the main temple’s ruin and just let it soak into me. Xel-Há added the cenote experience.

And I had my story.

This book was first written as a screenplay which won a top slot in the prestigious Scriptapalooza screenwriting contest. The assistant of a production company, a woman, told her boss to read it. He loved it, but was currently incredibly busy with other projects for pretty darn famous person. Yes, I’m trying hard here to be discrete.

So, then I wrote the book.

And it became a bestseller. (Hey RRader, still interested?) This was probably the most fun I’ve had writing a book and readers tell me that it shows. Adventure driven by myths (that I researched) and the story came to life like the movie was playing in my head. Creating a new world basically, was a blast.

I hope you enjoy it.

Blurb:

A treasure hunter goes missing in the Yucatan jungle. Her inexperienced city-girl twin rushes to the rescue. What could go wrong?

Content with her simple life creating jewelry and living on a train, Tori Carswell is nevertheless edgy. Her adrenaline-junkie sister’s promised check-in call is overdue.

Treasure hunting is in Reid Hunter’s blood and if he finds this fabled prize, he’ll be a rock star, able to pay his bills and salvage his reputation. But plans go horribly wrong, as the blue jade is more powerful than imagined.

Rescuing her sister involves conquering fears Tori can’t face, let alone act on. She must rely on her twin’s Southern gentleman without-a-conscience, ex-partner Reid for help. 

Will he put riches before life…and love?

If you liked Romancing The Stone and The Adventures of Indiana Jones, then you’ll love Stone Of Heaven – Book One in the Carswell Adventure Series.

Buy Stone of Heaven for heart pounding danger and swoon worthy romance set in the exotic ruins of the Yucatan.

_________________________________________________

P.S. The audio version is coming soon. I’m very excited about it. And yours truly will be narrating.

Buy:

Amazon, B&N, Apple, Nook and most other retailers. Also available in foreign markets!

Book 2 in the Carswell Adventure Series is Viking Gold, and Book 3, as yet untitled, will be Alfred’s story…you’ll find out who Alfred is in Stone of Heaven. His name is an homage to Batman’s Alfred.

PIX Of Me

Please join my mailing list to get scoops, gifts (I love giving my readers gifts)

Bio:

I started writing as a child, really. A few things happened on the way to becoming a published author … specifically, a junior high school teacher who told me I couldn’t write because I didn’t want to study grammar.

That English teacher stopped my writing for years.  But the muse couldn’t be denied, and eventually I wrote, a lot, some of it award winning. However, I wasn’t really making a career from any of this.

My husband told me repeatedly that independent publishing was becoming a valid way to publish a novel. I didn’t believe him, I thought indie meant vanity press. 

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I started pursuing this direction seriously, hit the keyboard, learned a litany of new things and published my first novel. My second book became a bestseller, and I’m absolutely on the right course in my life.

Please come visit me at www.lasartor.com, see my books, find my social media links, and sign up for my mailing list. I have a gift I’ve specifically created for my new email subscribers. And remember, you can email me at Leslie@LeslieSartor.com

Monday, September 26, 2022

My Lady Mischief by Kathy Carmichael

$3.99

BUY HERE

Reviewers International Award Winner

Lady Thea has set her cap on a local farmer's son. When Hart, the Marquis of Hartingfield, arrives on the scene, he sends her wits reeling and her senses blazing. It's up to Hart, the catch of the London Season, to convince her that their union will be a perfect love match.

But if Thea was wrong about her feelings for the farmer's son, can she trust her growing attraction to Hart? She leads the dashing aristocrat on a merry chase through the English countryside and glittering London, setting the ton abuzz with the question: Will Hart succeed in capturing her heart?

"Warm and witty, a marvelous romp." ~ Karen Harbaugh, Award-winning Regency Author

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Get a Sneak Peek Into Murder in Stopover by Mary Hagen

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Murder shocks the citizens of a small town in Wyoming when a body is discovered in the city park. Townspeople speculate and gossip about who would kill Pat Sullivan, a respected member of their community.

Sheriff CJ Roberts and Beth Perkins, his assistant deputy, begin an investigation and find their skills quickly challenged. Hal Hansen, also a deputy in the department, immediately steps in and guides them on how to conduct the gruesome task. Threatened by his knowledge, Beth is torn between solving a murder, her own ambitions, and falling in love with Hal.

Step by inconceivable step, the three discover hidden secrets about the victim, his family and his business. They find themselves ill prepared for the atrocities they ultimately uncover.
 

Chapter One

 

 

When the call came in at nine a.m., I had just entered the sheriff's office. I grabbed the phone before I put my handbag and lunch on the table, my mind doing a double take as I listened.

"Beth, Zoe here." Her voice sounded raspy. "Oh my god, you aren't going to believe this." She drew in her breath as I waited for her to get to the point.  "Well, I was finishing my morning run around the park. There's a dead man lying right in the track. Pat Sullivan. I've never seen a dead man before lying right out in the open.  Oh my god, what'll I do?"

"Calm down. You've done the right thing. As soon as Sheriff Roberts gets here, we'll come to the park. It'll be a few minutes. In the meantime, can you wait?"

"Okay," she said the word with hesitation. My mouth was open. Pat Sullivan was one of our most respected and active men in town. "Are you sure the man is Pat Sullivan and he's been killed?"+

"Positive. " She drew in her breath loud enough for me to hear. " He has a bullet hole between his eyes."

Impossible. Not in Stopover. I struggled to regain my own voice.  "Don't leave. I'm hanging up to make some calls. We'll be there shortly,

"I'm not staying here. I'll wait at the top of the hill."

"Okay."

As soon as I was off the line with Zoe, I punched in Jim Black's number at his veterinarian clinic. His assistant answered the phone.

"I… Cher, this is Beth Perkins at the sheriff's office. I need to speak to Jim immediately."

"He doesn't like being bothered when he's on his rounds," Cher answered. "I'll have him call you back."

"I need to speak to him, now.  We have a murder on our hands," I shouted into my cellphone as though she was hard of hearing.

"A murder? Oh, come on, nobody ever gets murdered in Stopover."

"We've got one now. Get Jim on the line."

"Okay, okay. You don't need to yell at me."

In a few minutes Jim picked-up the phone. "Hi, Beth. Don't you think it's in bad taste to report a murder in Stopover?  We never have a murder here."

"It's not a joke. Zoe Martin found the body of Pat Sullivan in the park on her morning run. Get over there. CJ and I'll be right there, too."

"Pat Sullivan? I played golf with him on Sunday. You must be kidding."

"I'm not. You're the corner. See if you can figure out what happened. Now, I've got to call the highway patrol." I hung up before he could say more and placed my call to the patrol.

Sheriff Roberts walked in as I hung up my phone. His first words to me were the same as usual. He didn't need to say anything. I knew them by heart. "Bring me coffee with two teaspoons of sugar and one teaspoon of cream." He placed his briefcase next to his desk and swung his hat onto a hook.

"The coffee is not made. We've got a dead man in city park, Pat Sullivan," I said.

CJ turned and faced me. "What? Pat Sullivan? Did he commit suicide? Why? He's healthy as a horse."

"I've called Jim and the highway patrol. They're on their way. I told him we'd be right over."

For a minute, CJ stood and stared at me in disbelief before saying, "Grab my briefcase and the keys to the Jeep and lock the jail. I'll call Beatrice and she will fill in for us. I want you with me." He headed out the door, glanced at me and added, "Call Hal. He's on his way to the Gilbert ranch to check on vandalism to his mailbox and gate."

In addition to the sheriff's items, I grabbed my new handy little one and a half pound thirteen-inch computer I'd purchased with my own money after the town board turned down my request. It meant taking money out of my savings intended for getting out of Stopover, but I loved it and I could take notes.

As we drove to the city park, I called Hal and gave him the message. I heard his wheels screech and gravel hit against metal as he turned his car around. Before hanging up, he said, "A murder in Stopover. I can't believe it even if I'm new to the area."

The man was my nemesis.  I admit, I resented him. He got the job as CJ's deputy, the job I wanted, but I was passed over because I was a woman. Since my mother passed away, I'd worked as CJ's assistant, dispatcher and whatever needed doing and went with him on the usual calls we received.  If we were busy, his wife, Beatrice, filled in for us while we were gone. Our calls usually involved disturbing the peace after football games, drunk driving accidents, and occasionally domestic disputes, but never murder. I did reluctantly admit he was better trained.

The closest thing to murder occurred some thirty years ago before I was born when two ranchers, Lou Smart and Bob Curtis, got in a dispute over right of way passage. They shot at each other but missed and the problem was solved by our town lawyer, and our judge, Hubert Booker. We still have the same judge, but Bill Smith is our town lawyer now. The citizens of our small town will have something new to talk about.

CJ is lazy so the job of sheriff in Stopover is perfect for him. He does wear his uniform that is always pressed and his shirt starched because of the efforts of his wife.  He spends a good part of most of his days snoozing in his swivel chair in his office.

As we drove to the scene of the crime, CJ kept shaking his head in disbelief. I knew exactly how he felt.

Stopover is in the middle of the short-grass prairie country fifty miles from the nearest big city, Cheyenne, Wyoming. We have one hill in our town and the park is located at the bottom of it on the east side. A small pond is to the east of the park and shaped like a football field. CJ stopped the Jeep near the coroner's vehicle, a van painted with a dog, cat, horse, and cow at four corners around his name, Jim Black, Veterinarian Large and Small Animals.  The patrol had not arrived.

Every time I saw Jim my heart went into triple time, I got all mushy inside, and I could feel heat rush up the length of my body. I knew my face turned red. I couldn't help myself.  He was my idea of the perfect lover and I had a crush on him. His black hair was thick and he wore it down to his collar. I could imagine running my hands through it. His eyes were deep brown and he was tall, one of the few men who made me feel short. I'm five feet nine inches. Unfortunately for me, he had his sights on our beautiful, petite librarian at our ancient Carnegie Library.

I pulled my rushing heart and mushy interior under control and walked with CJ to view the body. CJ took one look at the man and said, "Looks like a suicide to me."

Jim got to his feet and tugged at the gloves he had put on to check the body. "Afraid not. It's murder. Got shot right between the eyes. No sign of a struggled, no gun powder residue so I think he was shot from a short distance by someone he knew." He towered over CJ and me. "How you doing, Beth? How's that dog you found?" The sound of his deep voice almost made me melt into a puddle right at his feet.

CJ pulled on his earlobe. "You certain?"

"Absolutely."

With sirens blaring, the ambulance from our small hospital arrived on the scene and two medics jumped out. They opened the back doors and pulled out the stretcher and rolled over to Jim, CJ, and me.

The two stopped short of running over Pat Sullivan. "My God, Pat. Dead. Can't believe it," Eric Green, one of the medics, said.

CJ nodded his head. He glanced at our other medic, Virginia Sites who squatted next to the body and stared saying nothing for several seconds. When she spoke, she said, "Geez, a murder in Stopover and none other than our esteemed Mr. Sullivan. Can't believe it."

I was ordered to run yellow tape around the murder scene while Eric and Virginia bagged the body.  CJ was trying his best to act the part of a seasoned investigator and that included taping off the crime scene.  I thought he was out of his element, but all of us were. That is, until Hal Hansen roared down the slope, slammed on his brakes and came over to us.

He asked to see the body. Reluctantly, Virginia unzipped the bag and Hal studied the corpse. Before touching the body, he took gloves out of his pocket and put them. He poked the body a few times before turning to Jim, "We'll need an autopsy. How soon can you get it done?"

Jim's mouth dropped open showing his beautiful white teeth. I took in my breath.

"I've never done an autopsy on a human body. Besides, we'll need to talk with Pat's wife. Get her permission," Jim protested. He glanced at CJ for backup.

"We don't need her permission. This is murder. You've done animals. You can do a human." As usual, Hal would not take no for an answer. "Any idea of time of death?"

Jim shrugged his shoulders. "Not until we've done the autopsy. Doc Olivas may give me a hand."

While the medics loaded the ambulance with the body and the three men, CJ, Hal, and Jim, shifted their weight from one foot to another, I walked in ever widening circles around the crime scene in search of clues. That is until Hal barked at me, "What the hell are you doing? Disturbing the ground."

I resisted the temptation to snarl at him, "Go to…" You know where. Instead, I answered sweetly, "Looking for clues," without adding "you jerk."

Hal was almost as tall as Jim but not nearly as good-looking. He wore heavy rimmed glasses, both dark and clear. At the moment, his dark glasses were pushed up on his forehead and he was frowning.  Before he arrived in Stopover, the town's newest residents were the Sullivan's who came five years earlier followed by George Blackmore who was Pat's friend. We didn't have a deputy.

With the increase in tourist traffic, the town council decided we needed one to help with crime that might occur in our park.  In the wisdom of the council, they had authorized the establishment of three RV campsites with hook-ups at the end of our park for travelers to and from our national parks. The RVers could stay three nights free before they had to move on. It was hoped they would spend money in our fair "city" and I guess they did. The season was almost at an end with the start of schools around the country.

Our new deputy had retired from the Army. He had been in special forces, fought in Afghanistan, and been with an elite investigative group. He was such an egotist he made me puke. I had no doubt, he was aiming for CJ's job as sheriff of our large county in central eastern Wyoming. I did have to admit, he had nice blue eyes and light brown curly hair I would die to have. Mine was as straight as a spike of wheat.

 

 

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