Sunday, January 16, 2011
Excerpt from The Gifts, A Jacody Ives Mystery
Ignoring the branches that slapped at her face, Sarah raced through the trees, lungs on fire. Somewhere ahead of her a madman had her little girl. She cried out in frustration, as the pain became unbearable. Holding her side, she hunched over trying to catch her breath. How far had she run? A mile? Two? The roaring in her ears drowned out all other sound, as sweat burned her eyes, blinding her. She had to stop. She leaned against a tree for support as she wiped the sweat from her face, slowing her ragged breathing. Dawn was breaking, and she scanned the forest in front of her. She’d broken her own rules, rushing in blindly. She didn’t even know where her own men were. What if she’d shot one of them? What if she’d shot Carl?
The roaring had subsided and she stood listening, straining her ears to catch the slightest whisper or breaking branch. The forest was silent except for her ragged breathing, pounding heart. Where the hell were they? Grief threatened to overcome her. She didn’t know if Juanita and José were dead or alive. The body count was way too high. Five little girls had lost their lives because she’d run away. Closing her eyes, she struggled for control; the image of Gavin kneeling beside his brother flashed before her eyes. She heard his anguished voice, “Find Nikki.” That was all that was important now. She swore softly as she straightened her spine. “No more, Williams. You’re not taking one more person from me.”
“Over here, Matt.”
“We’ve got somebody here.”
Sarah turned toward the sound, moving swiftly, but cautiously this time, her eyes scanning the trees around her. Matt and Jed approached her, carrying a huge black man, cursing and yelling. Blood flowed from the bullet wound in his left leg.
“Put him down.” Holstering her gun, Sarah knelt beside Carl, gently probing the wound. “Looks like the bullet went straight through. I need your belt, Matt.”
Sarah took the belt, fashioned a make-shift tourniquet, and stood up. “Take him to the house. I’m going after Williams.”
“Wasn’t Williams. And you’re too late.” Carl struggled to sit up, grimacing as the movement started a fresh wave of pain.
“What do you mean it wasn’t Williams?”
“Campbell. Bastard had a car parked other side of the woods. Heard him drive off right after he shot me.” Carl fumbled in his pocket for his cigarettes.
Sarah knelt again, her eyes level with Carl’s. “Tell me everything you know about the man who’s got my daughter.”