I opened the door to find two Ottawa police officers standing on my stoop.
“May we come in?” the one on the right asked.
No. You may not. Jack wasn’t home yet, and he should have been home hours ago. I wanted to slam the door and run. Instead, I stood there, smiling at them, being polite. What an idiotic time to smile. I took one careful step after another into the living room, trying to slow time. I must have looked as if I was walking the line of sobriety.
“Are you Kalin Thompson?”
Get out of my house. “Yes.”
“Your husband is Jack Thompson?”
I hated these two strangers standing in my living room. The guy had sweat on his brow. From the oppressive heat that day or from what he was about to tell me, I couldn’t know. The woman’s cheeks flushed, and her eyes avoided contact with mine. She examined the photos of Jack and me on the mantle, shuffled her feet and waited for her partner to speak.
Jack and I were supposed to be sitting in an air-conditioned theatre, fingers intertwined, watching the latest James Bond movie. I didn’t have time to talk. Maybe he was waiting for me, ticket in hand, shaking his head at how unusual it was for me to be late.
“You’re husband was riding his bike on Bronson Avenue when he was hit by a car,” the man said.
Okay, that’s not so terrible. He’s at the hospital. I’ll go to him, and he’ll be fine. Except what if he was paralyzed. He must be seriously hurt if the cops were here, otherwise he would have phoned me himself.
I picked up my car key. “What hospital is he at? I’ll go now.”
“He’s not at a hospital.”
“I don’t understand. Then why are you here?”
“I’m very sorry to tell you, but Jack died in the accident.”
I kept breathing, but I’m not sure how. My body still functioned when my mind wanted to shut down. I backed into the living room wall but had nowhere to go. If only I hadn’t answered the door.
“Who hit him?” I asked, like that mattered.
“We don’t know yet.”
“You mean the driver didn’t stop?” Bronson Avenue was a block away from our home. Jack had been minutes away from our driveway. Minutes from opening the front door, burying me in a hug, and taking me out for the night.
“Have you been driving your car this afternoon?”
“We’d like to have a look at your car,” the man said.
I handed my key to the officer, then sagged onto the couch. “It’s in the garage.”
Two years later when I looked back at this scene, I still didn’t understand how something so dreadful could have happened. I couldn’t believe I might never know who killed Jack.
I quit my job and accepted a new one. I’ll be the human resources manager at Stone Mountain Resort in the Purcell Mountains. It’s almost as far west as I could travel and still be in the same country. A big change was the only way for me to survive.
I knew leaving wouldn’t kill the pain of losing Jack. I knew I’d never get over him. But I also knew I had to live. I wasn’t thirty yet.
I got on a plane and flew to Calgary. From there I took the bus to Holden, BC. I took a taxi to Stone Mountain Resort and life began again.
If you want to find out what happened next in my life, Descent is the first in the “Stone Mountain” Mystery Series followed by Blaze, both published by Imajin Books.
When Kalin Thompson is promoted to Director of Security at Stone Mountain Resort, she soon becomes entangled in the high-profile murder investigation of an up-and-coming Olympic-caliber skier. There are more suspects with motives than there are gates on the super-G course, and danger mounts with every turn.
Kalin’s boss orders her to investigate. Her boyfriend wants her to stay safe and let the cops do their job. Torn between loyalty to friends and professional duty, Kalin must look within her isolated community to unearth the killer’s identity.
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Meet the author
Kristina Stanley is the best-selling author of the Stone Mountain Mystery Series. Her books have garnered the attention of prestigious crime writing organizations in Canada and England. Crime Writers of Canada nominated Descent for the 2014 Unhanged Arthur award. The Crime Writers’ Association nominated Blaze for the 2014 Debut Dagger. Her short stories are published in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and Voices of the Valleys Anthology.
Before writing her series, Kristina was the director of security, human resources and guest services at a resort in the depths of the British Columbian mountains. The job and lifestyle captured her heart, and she decided to write mysteries about life in an isolated resort. While writing the first four novels, she spent five years living aboard a sailboat in the US and the Bahamas. Visit Kristina at www.KristinaStanley.com