Sunday, August 14, 2011

Excerpt- The Gifts, A Jacody Ives Mystery

Sheriff Sarah Burns pulled off the road and parked near the site of Saturday night’s tragic accident. Unnatural deaths were rare in Glade Springs, and she couldn’t shake the feeling that she’d missed something.

An image of Morgana Nelson clutching the body of her daughter, her heartbroken cry echoing through the morgue, flashed through Sarah’s mind.

Maybe it was only wishful thinking. The Nelsons were good people, and Johanna had been their only child. The accident made no sense. Johanna wasn’t the typical eighteen year old. She didn’t run off to Edgewood or Richmond after graduation, looking for a larger city and more excitement. She didn’t stay out late. She didn’t drive fast. She didn’t drink. So why had she been here, driving so fast she missed the curve? The toxicology reports weren’t in yet, but the body had reeked with the smell of alcohol. The Nelsons had questions, needed answers.

Climbing out of the Explorer, Sarah walked toward the curve as she closed out the noises around her, traveling the path Johanna had driven. Emotions were strong here. She could feel the sadness—and the anger. Johanna was upset.

Sarah moved into the curve slowly, feeling the shift in the emotions surrounding her. Panic took over, quickly turning to fear. She retraced the path the car had taken as it skidded off the road into the huge oak tree.

Crouching near the point of impact, she placed her hand on the earth and closed her eyes. For a brief moment she felt physical pain and then all emotions ceased.

Sighing, Sarah stood up. She wasn’t sure what she had expected to find. Let it go, Sarah, she chided herself. Some questions have no answers.

Heaving another sigh, Sarah started toward her vehicle. She was tired, looking forward to a quiet evening at home. Last night’s dream had upset her. All day she’d been haunted by the image of the dark brown eyes filled with pain, the heart-wrenching cry that had jerked her from an uneasy sleep. The whispered message that had kept her lying awake, trembling as she listened to the sounds of the night.

She hated the dreams. Hated the feeling of helplessness they created inside her as the dying reached out, sending messages to loved ones, or crying out for vengeance against their attacker. Only this time the dream had been different. This time the message was for Sarah.

Sarah shook herself mentally, pushing away the memories, the fear. It was just a dream. And this was just a horrible accident. Accidents happened—especially when teenagers drank. Her foot touched the passenger tire track imprinted in the soft earth near the tree. A feeling of panic clutched at her, growing stronger, making it hard to breathe.

“Jesus,” she muttered as she stepped away from the track, breathing deeply.

Kneeling, she touched the earth, holding her breath, as emotions flowed through her fingertips. Unlike the driver’s side, the panic here continued to escalate. There was no physical pain, no ceasing of emotion. This was what had been bugging her. The something missing. Johanna Nelson had died almost instantly, but she hadn’t died alone. Someone else had been in the car with her when she crashed into that tree.

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