Sunday, February 13, 2011
Excerpt From The Gifts, A Jacody Ives Mystery
“Morning, Sheriff. I was beginning to worry about you.”
Sarah raised an eyebrow, looking at her favorite deputy, Joshua Cross, before glancing at the clock.
“It’s only eight-thirty.”
“Forget something?” Joshua raised an eyebrow, mocking her.
“Oh, shit,” she muttered. The toxicology report on Johanna Nelson. “Did they call?”
“About ten minutes ago. Doc Hawthorne says to call him when you get in. Got something on his mind.”
Sarah nodded. Doc Hawthorne had delivered Johanna Nelson, watched her grow up, and he’d been the one to tell her parents about her death. She was sure he had a lot on his mind. There were still unanswered questions about Johanna’s death, questions that would probably never be answered, as the case seemed no more than a tragic accident. Johanna had been drinking, lost control in the curve and hit a tree. Death had been instantaneous. And then there was what she had felt at the scene last night. Dammit, that was always the problem. She never knew when it was real. Had there really been someone else with Johanna?
Sarah hesitated, tempted to tell Joshua about her suspicion that Johanna had not been alone in the car. “Damn,” she muttered, grabbing a cup of too strong coffee as she headed for her office. And how would she explain her suspicions? Joshua, I have this gift, and it tells me things. She was sure that would go over great.
Grabbing the phone, she dialed Doc Hawthorne’s number. The sooner she made the call, the sooner Johanna’s parents would be allowed to lay their daughter to rest. Maybe Sarah could also lay her doubts to rest.
Five minutes later, Sarah grimaced as she slammed down the phone. The call to Doc had done no more than raise additional questions. Although Johanna smelled of alcohol, blood tests revealed she had not been drinking. Sarah knew there was something else. Something Doc had not told her. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but it was there. She’d have to go see him in person, take a look at the autopsy report, and find out what he was hiding. The knock on her door did nothing to improve her mood.
“Just fine,” Sarah muttered sarcastically. “Doc says Johanna wasn’t drinking.”
Joshua seated himself comfortably in the old armchair Sarah had purchased at a yard sale.
“Don’t surprise me none. Never knew that girl to take a drink.”
“Then what the hell happened out there, Joshua? What am I supposed to tell her parents?”
Joshua shrugged, chewing a toothpick. A habit he’d taken up when he’d stopped smoking three years ago.
“You’d better put something on that burn.”
Sarah glanced down at her hand. She’d almost forgotten about burning herself that morning. The skin was now a fiery red.
“It’s not that bad. Did you need something?” Sarah wanted to be alone. She rubbed her temples. Everything seemed to be off kilter.
“Just worried about you. You look a little pale. Maybe you should have Doc take a look at that hand.”
Sarah stopped rubbing her temples. Genius. A perfect excuse to pick the old doctor’s brain. “Yeah, I’ll do that. But I’m fine, really. Nikki hasn’t been sleeping well lately, so, of course, neither have I.”
“I’m afraid you’re not gonna sleep too well in the next couple of weeks, either.” Joshua tossed a mystery novel on her desk. “Know him?”
Sarah glanced at the novel. “G. C. McAllister?” She read the title, A Jacody Ives Mystery – Pool of Tears. “No, I’ve never heard of him.” She glanced from the book to Joshua.
“Got a reputation for being a pretty ruthless bastard. Fancies himself as some kind of private detective like his character. Travels around to small towns looking for secrets. Digs around until he finds a good story. Rumor has it he’s destroyed a lot of lives.”
Sarah frowned. “What does that have to do with us?”
“He just made a reservation at The Lodge. Be here two weeks from today.”
Sarah felt the blood drain from her face. She forgot about Johanna, forgot the burn on her hand, and the need to talk to Doc Hawthorne. The dying words of a tortured soul seemed to echo in the room.
He’s coming, Sarah. He wants to destroy you.
The Gifts, A Jacody Ives Mystery