Shifting the car into park, I let my head thump back against the cool leather of the seat.
My phone bleated another text arrival, and I knew without looking it was Aaron White. The last three messages he’d sent skated through my thoughts.
Not your average Saturday Night Special murder vic. Meet me at the old power plant at Belle Isle.
Where are you?
This new one was probably less polite than the last.
I put one hand on the door hitch and pulled, the hot dogs we’d grilled for dinner roiling in my gut. I didn’t want to see the murder scene that would freak White out.
I loved being a cop. Almost everything about it—from never knowing what the day would bring to the sense of having done something good for the world when a conviction came back on some dirtbag I’d hauled in.
The gore, I could do without. Twenty minutes ago, I was listening to my kids laugh while they blew bubbles on the back deck.
Now I was trying to gather motivation to go see a corpse.
Some Saturday night.
The phone buzzed again as I climbed out of the car and I sighed. “Coming, boss.”
I picked my way through the woods, past a gaggle of reporters—vultures, always at every body dump—and into a building that would give Freddy Krueger nightmares. I glanced through the holes in the walls at the eerie play of the moonlight over the water and rocks and shivered in the summer air.
What the hell were we into now?
“Jesus, man, what took you so long?” White called from overhead. I looked up to find a hole in the ceiling, him looking down through it at me and a fifteen-foot extension ladder.
“Sorry, boss. Got here as quick as I could.” I hauled in a deep breath. I hate ladders.
Not my day.
I put a foot on the bottom rung and started up toward White.
“This is going to be a mess,” he said as I climbed. “Caucasian female, fairly young—coroner says early twenties.”
“Cause of death?” I focused on his words, clicking bits of information into holes and refusing to look down.
My head snapped back. “Come again?”
“You heard me.” White’s mouth disappeared into a thin white line, and he offered a hand to help me off the ladder. I took it, then ran my fingers through my hair and shook my head.
“Where?” The room we were in was bare, save floodlights that belonged to the department and some graffiti on the walls.
“Back here,” he motioned for me to follow him down a narrow hallway.
I swallowed hard when I smelled the blood.
Harder when I saw the altar.
Thirty seconds of looking was enough to make me question my career choices. Another thirty, and I was ready to go after whatever psycho could do this to another human.
I turned to White. “It looks like freaking Charles Manson has been here.”
He nodded slowly. “What if it’s a serial, Landers? Tell me it doesn’t fit.”
Except he knew it did.
“Damn. Who called it in?”
“Couple of street kids. They were pretty shaken up. Ambulance came to take them to St. Vincent’s about fifteen minutes before you got here.”
“Hurt?” I furrowed a brow.
“Not that I could see. Just in need of a shower and a bed and maybe some sleeping pills.”
“I’m on my way.” I bolted back for the ladder. Anything was better than standing still while there was a nutcase on the loose.
I sped to the hospital, rushing up to psych and back to the rooms where they’d put White’s witnesses.
And got nowhere. The guy wouldn’t even look at me.
I texted White and tried the girl again. Not a word. That I could understand, anyway. She was crying too hard to talk.
I strode back into the hall to keep from yelling, banging a fist into the wall. My phone buzzed.
“I’ll be home in a little while, baby,” I said as I pulled it out.
But it wasn’t my wife. It was White. Telling me there was a reporter on her way up to try to get something out of these people.
And not just any reporter. That nosy broad from the Telegraph.
What a day.
You can read more about Chris in Devil In The Deadline, the fourth book in the “Headlines in High Heels” mystery series, published by Henery Press. The first book in the series is Front Page Fatality.
GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 p.m. eastern on February 19 for the chance to win a copy of Devil In The Deadline. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes.
About the author
LynDee Walker’s award-winning journalistic work has appeared in newspapers and magazines across the nation.
Her debut novel, Front Page Fatality, is an amazon and Barnes & Noble #1 bestseller, and was nominated for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. DEVIL IN THE DEADLINE is the fourth in LynDee’s “Headlines in High Heels” mystery series. The fifth arrives October 2015.
LynDee adores her family, her readers, and enchiladas. She often works out tricky plot points while walking off the enchiladas. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, where she is either playing with her children, working on her next novel, or admiring beautiful shoes she can’t wear.