Wednesday, November 1, 2017
#BookQW word is second. Excerpt from #Tirgearr #RomanticSuspense
The Book-Quote-Wednesday word is second. Do you enjoy insider conversations? the scene below containing #BookQW (second) is from Unholy Alliance, the 2nd book of the Donahue Cousins series. The discussion below is between lawyer, Grady Fletcher, and his older private investigator, Maeve, a secondary character who brings his attention to a murder similar to the one that framed his client, Tori, the heroine.
The midmorning sun burned bright when Grady returned from his second Starbucks run. His cellphone pinged, but he didn’t answer it. Hard enough to juggle two coffees while opening the door. “You’re here…finally.”
Inside, Maeve paced about the office. “Yeah, don’t say it.”
He already did. “Was it work or pleasure?”
“More like volunteer work. I started a missing person website for Tori’s cousin, Vivienne Rourke.”
“Aka Vivienne Valentine.” His ambivalence over Tori’s dedication pressed down on him like a leaden weight. His plan of action was to do nothing. “Do you know what’s weird about these websites?”
“I do. Some people make a strange hobby of following cases like this. Messages from well-wishers are downright eerie. Religious people send prayers. That’s nice. Were you thinking something else?”
On his lap he clenched his hands into fists. “Vivienne might not want to be found.”
“What do you know that I don’t know?”
“When I worked Tori’s case, I bumped up on her cousin’s rebellion. She ran away from the boarding school. Had an older boyfriend. Got into dark stuff. My point? Vivienne herself is a bad element.”
“If McGinn kidnapped her, don’t rule out the Stockholm syndrome. Strong emotional ties develop between two persons where—”
“—one person intermittently harasses beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other. If the abuser lets up, the abused takes it as kindness,” he said but didn’t buy into it.
“Anyway,” Maeve said, “getting up the website is my excuse for looking like hell.”
She mustered up her sense of humor. “Other news. Tori drove her pickup to a cemetery and dug up her gun.” The PI took a moment to explain Tori’s friendship with the owners of the funeral home. She’d taken up Mick Coley’s offer to hide a few of her belongings in the smallest casket he had. “I saw her wince with regret at the insensitive use intended for a precious stillborn. Anyway, it’s buried above Thomas’s vault and contains her gun and as many beanie babies as could be stuffed inside.”
“A gun and beanie babies, crazy combination.” A red flag went up over the gun, but he ignored it. He thrust a coffee cup at Maeve, keeping the other for himself. “Let’s start again. Good morning.”
“Good morning, Grady. Say hello to our new case.” Maeve slapped down paperwork, the beginnings of a new murder book. His private investigator had seen it all. Homicides, suicides, assaults, and no amount of horror surprised her.
He slid onto his chair in front of crime photos. “This can’t be.” His heart pounded like a wild animal bursting to be free. “Victim has broken teeth, lodged in her throat.”
“The pattern mirrors Irene Brennan.” She scowled.
“Who’s our new client?”
“A handyman. Samuel Peterson repaired a leaky toilet at the Winter’s home yesterday afternoon. He left prior to the murder of Rose Winter.”
“A rose on ice,” he said, referring to this morning’s headline on the front page of the Los Angeles Globe. The body of the victim, found on her white marble floor, lay at an odd angle, arms and legs flung out like Raggedy Ann. Her shoulder length hair of dyed burgundy surrounded her head in a puddle of her own blood and scattered long-stem roses. “Rose Winter’s features were smashed.”
“Beaten to a pulp,” Maeve said.
“Her husband, Dr. Joseph Winter, is missing.” Joseph Winter, Ph.D. taught a class in urban planting at Cal State Long Beach, but more importantly conducted research for the department of agriculture. “Dr. Winter and his laptop hold secrets vital to national security.”
“Maybe Rose Winter held back his location.” She removed the lid and sipped coffee from the cup.
He sank in his chair staring at the white board where she scrawled key events.
Maeve said, “Maybe her assailant enjoys torture for the heck of it.”
He squeezed his panic into iron fists. “Did Rose write our client a check?”
“Yes, and then Sam Peterson left.” As if it were an everyday occurrence, Maeve adjusted the purple scarf around her neck. “Mrs. Peterson phoned us. Assured me her husband has no hidden talents. Sam isn’t a secret novelist or computer nerd. He’s a struggling black handyman supporting a family of four.”
A text message pinged again. This time he read it aloud. “Tori Morningstar. Says her food truck is open for business.”
“Great, team up. You’re both on Seamus McGinn’s tail.” Maeve gathered her purse and two four-inch binders.
“You’ve got Irene Brennan and Rose Winter in those murder books. Off getting a warrant?”
“I am. When victims struggle for their lives, they put talons out. Scratch their assailants. I want to compare tissue caught under their fingernails.”
He nodded his approval. “Could be a match.” Medical examiners clipped a victim’s nails to see if DNA from trapped tissue matched any sample in the DNA database. Even without one, a new technique known as phenotyping revealed the assailant’s eye, skin, and hair color. “All is good for Samuel Peterson.”
“At Tori’s truck, go light on the fried stuff.” She winked and lugged notebooks to the door.
“And you go light on those jaded detectives.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. I make them care.” She elbowed her way through the door.
His temples throbbed. Taking stock of the kidnapping of Dr. Winter and the national security risk it entailed, he phoned his cousin, Finn, and explained the case against his client.
“You’re up against organized crime,” Finn said. “Sucks when you realize how small and defenseless you are.”
“Wormhole.” Ah, the ties that bind. “Will you pretty please give up your contact at the FBI?” Grady gripped the arms of his chair until his knuckles ached.
“You are one lucky asshat,” Finn gloated. “I’ll phone Gary Guhleman, tell him you’ll be in touch. You’ll like him. He’s an amped up hound dog. Hang up. I’ll text you his number.”
“Don’t face-plant on goose poop.” Grady chuckled at the memory, saved the agent’s number, and then texted it to Maeve with the message they’d hooked up with FBI Agent Gary Guhleman.
Next, he texted Tori. “I’m out the door, walking to your truck.” It took superhuman power not to ask her out. His dick knew she appealed to him. Down, boy. It’s good I’m wearing loose pants. She’s a client, and this isn’t what he was here for. Attracted and fear of the attraction doubled his ability to be a jerk.
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