Sharing another excerpt of the new Seasons Mystery, Desperate Season. I’m doing a final edit, then I hope the book will be ready for a publishing home.
Sarah Kingsly eased back to a comfortable lope a quarter of a mile from home, then slowed to a walk for the final block to cool down. When she’d headed out for her run at seven that morning, it had been cool. Now it was already hot. When was she ever going to learn? It wasn’t as if she was new to Texas and didn’t know how hot it could get in early spring. The big joke around the department was that there were only two seasons in Texas, hot and cold, but most of the time it wasn’t that much of a joke. There was none of that slow slide into spring that she remembered from her childhood in Tennessee. In Texas, you could be freezing your ass off one day and boiling the next.
Of course, if she’d come straight home instead of stopping for coffee at the convenience store, she would have missed the worst of the mid-morning heat. But then she would have missed the neighborhood gossip from Hussein who owned the gas station. He spoke excellent English for an Iranian immigrant, and he liked it when Sarah hung around, even when she wasn’t on duty. He’d once told her she just looked like a bad-ass cop even in her jogging clothes, and that was enough to keep the bad guys away. Of course, he politely called her Miss bad-ass cop, the mix of formality and slang always making her smile.
Pulling the neck of her tee-shirt up, Sarah wiped sweat from her face, then dug the key to her apartment out of the pocket in her shorts. She reached out to insert the key in the lock and the door moved slowly away from her. She immediately went on high alert, easing through the opening and glancing in. It took a moment for her eyes to adjust from the bright sunlight to the dim interior of the entryway, and in that moment, she mentally scrambled for a reason the door would be open that didn’t involve some maniac waiting for her. Since she had nothing for protection except her bare hands and a few keys on a key ring, she tried to convince herself that nothing was wrong. Perhaps she had inadvertently left the door open.
As soon as that thought formed, Sarah dismissed it. There was no way she left the door unlocked. Inadvertently or otherwise. She had never in her whole life forgotten to lock a door. Her mother had instilled the importance of security in Sarah the child by pointing out the crazy man on the next street who liked to go into people’s houses and take things. It was rumored that he took more than things, but her mother had never elaborated on that.
Then there was the number one safety thing they were taught in the police academy – locked doors do deter most thieves. Although in practice, Sarah had found that thieves who were determined did not let something as minor as a lock stand in their way.
Thankful that her apartment was small, Sarah did a quick visual sweep of the living room and kitchen. It was hard to tell if anything had been disturbed. She wasn’t the neatest of housekeepers, so the living room always had a “tossed” look to it. A second look around and she noted that her TV was missing, and something else registered. She didn’t hear Cat. He usually came running out of the bedroom when she returned from her morning run. He knew it was time to eat, and not much stood between the cat and his food.
The silence grated on her nerves. She couldn’t decide if it was good that she couldn’t hear anything. That meant that whoever had been in her apartment was gone. But it also meant that Cat was gone…or… She didn’t want to think about “or”. She didn’t care about the TV, but if someone hurt her cat, they’d pay for it.
Sarah slipped quietly into the kitchen and grabbed the big butcher knife from the wooden block on the counter. She’d rather have her gun, but that was in the drawer in her nightstand in the bedroom. No way was she going in there armed with just her keys. When the ring tone sounded on her cell phone, Sarah almost dropped the knife. Damn. She scrounged the phone out of the pocket in her shorts and answered in a whisper.
“Kingsly?” the voice of her boss responded. “What the hell are you doing?”
She resisted the impulse to ask him what the hell he was doing calling her on the first Sunday she’d had off in weeks. “I’m checking out my apartment.”
“Someone took my television.”
“Did you call 911?”
“Why? I’m already here.”
She heard Lieutenant McGregor release a long breath. She worried that she might be the death of him yet. “Have you cleared the premises?”
“One room to go. On my way.” She disconnected, then dropped the phone back into her pocket before pushing through the bedroom door, making it slam into the wall and anyone who might be lurking behind it. A quick scan of the room showed her nothing had been disturbed. Odd that someone would break in and just steal a television. Wasn’t even a high-end set. She quickly retrieved her gun and cautiously opened the closet door. Nobody hiding there, and nobody in the bathroom.
But still no sign of Cat.
She’d never considered having a cat, or any other living thing depending on her for that matter. No pets. No houseplants. Nothing. But she’d become quite attached to the little orange tabby who’d arrived cold and starving on her doorstep right after John’s death. Had it really been already over a year?
Yeah. Closer to two years.
Now she imagined the cat outside somewhere, frightened. Or had the someone who’d broken in taken Cat? What on earth for? Heaviness settled in her stomach, and she sat down on the bed, trying to hold back tears that warmed her eyes. She swiped at the wetness. Get a grip, woman. It’s just a cat for heaven’s sake. But crying had come all too easy since John. He’d been her first and only partner after she’d gotten her shield fifteen years ago. Losing him, and then having to kill the kid who’d shot him had been the lowest point of her life. Sometimes she felt like she was still down there in that deep black pit.
Shrugging off those dark thoughts, she reached out to put her gun back in the drawer and something nudged her foot. “Holy crap!” She jumped up, heart racing, and lifted the edge of the sheet that had slid part-way off the bed. There was Cat, huddled in a shadowed orange ball. Sarah got down on her knees and held out her hand. “Hey there. You want to come out?”
His eyes were huge, the orange of his iris almost obscured by the black pupil. A sure sign he was terrified. Sarah waited, not wanting to reach in to pull him out and risk getting scratched in the process. Then her phone rang again, and the noise startled the cat. He let out a yowl and ran deeper under the bed. Sarah leaned back on her heels and answered the phone.
“Is everything okay, Kingsly?” McGregor asked after she said hello. “I’ve got units on their way to—”
“Not necessary. Nobody is here. And nothing is missing, except my television. I found my cat.”
“Never mind. Call off the cavalry.” Even as she said that, she could hear sirens in the distance drawing near. Damn. “Could you at least tell them to kill the sirens?”
Start reading the series with Open Season, only 99cents for Kindle. And enter this giveaway for a chance to win a new Kindle ereader, and a paperback copy of Open Season. Contest ends tonight at midnight. Please let me know what you think of the excerpt.