Sunday Read – Excerpt and #Giveaway

The “Breaking Bad Giveaway” that I’m sponsoring at BookSweeps with twenty other suspense and mystery authors is winding down. Two more days to enter, so once again I’m sharing an excerpt from One Small Victory. It’s one of the books that can be won along with titles from the other authors, as well as some fun memorabilia from the “Breaking Bad” television series. I’ll admit I was a fan. Entering is really easy, so if you like suspense novels, give it a whirl.

The following excerpt picks up after the one I posted a week ago Friday when Jenny sees the drugs being sold close to the school. When I originally wrote that scene, I remember smiling at the exchange between Jenny and her teenage son, and I still smile when I read it. 🙂 Hope you did, too.

If you’re not familiar with the story, Jenny’s oldest son was killed in a car accident and drugs were involved. The first few chapters cover the death, funeral, etc. Steve is the detective in charge of investigating the culpability of the driver. This is the second time they have met in person. Enjoy the read:

“I want to join this task force.” Jenny dropped the newspaper on top of an open folder on Steve’s desk.

“Wha—”

“This.” Jenny pointed to a headline CITY LAUNCHES DRUG TASK FORCE.

Steve glanced at the paper then raised his eyes to meet hers. They appeared to burn with intensity. “You can’t”

“Why not? Aren’t the police always complaining about lack of cooperation from the public?”

Steve regarded her, noting the defiant tilt of her chin. “This isn’t what we’re looking for.”

“I’ve been watching them for two weeks.” Jenny threw a notebook down on top of the paper. It opened to reveal a page dotted with scribbles of numbers and notations. “They’re out there like the freakin’ ice-cream man.”

Jenny didn’t realize how her voice had risen until Trudy popped her head in. “You okay in here, Steve?”

He held Jenny’s gaze. “We okay?”

She released a deep breath and nodded. He waved the other woman off and motioned to a chair. After Jenny perched on the edge of it, he rocked back in his and regarded her. “Do you have any idea what you’re asking?”

“No.” She let a smile touch the corner of her mouth.

The smile looked good, and that realization startled him. Not that he was immune to a pretty woman, but this… “Civilians have no place in this kind of operation.” He tapped the news story with the tip of his pencil.

“I’m not just any civilian. I’m a woman with a great deal of emotion-driven energy. You ever see what a bit of anxiety can do when it comes to cleaning a house?”

He leaned back in his chair and studied her. Jenny wasn’t sure if he was considering her request or trying to sort out her example. Finally, he sighed. “I hardly think—”

“Are you the final authority, or is there someone else I can talk to?”

The interruption seemed to rattle him and he glanced around quickly as if looking for backup. When he faced her again, he tapped his cheek with the end of his pen. “You’re not going away, are you?”

“No.” Again she allowed a small smile.

Steve sighed and stood up. “Come on.”

Grabbing her notebook and the newspaper, Jenny followed him out of the office. They went down the hall and paused in front of a closed door. Steve knocked, then opened it when a voice inside said, “Yo.”

The Hispanic man behind a large, pristine desk looked at Steve, then at Jenny, then back to Steve. He raised one bushy eyebrow in question.

“Mrs. Jasik,, this is Chief Gonzales.”

“It’s Ms. Jasik.” She stepped forward and offered a hand. “But you can call me Jenny.”

Gonzales sent another questioning look around her, and she turned to see Steve leaning against the wall with an impassive expression. He spoke to the Chief with a brief nod in her direction. “Ms. Jasik is the one who lost her son in that accident a while back.”

“Oh.” Gonzales spoke softly and gave her a look that she interpreted as sympathetic. “My sincere condolences.”

“Thank you.”

He continued to look at her as if waiting for her to get to the point of this impromptu meeting.

“She wants to join the task force.” Steve said.

“Oh.” This time the intonation was different, and Gonzales wiped at his stubble of beard.

“I told her we don’t use civilians,” Steve continued.

“That’s right.”

In the face of his steady gaze, a wave of uncertainty washed over Jenny. What the hell did she think she was doing? Extreme frustration had driven her to the station this morning, but did she really think they’d accept her. It wasn’t like she was brimming with qualifications. A florist? A mother? A woman?

But even as the mental debate raged, Jenny’s heart told her she couldn’t back off without a bit of a fight. Scrapping was second nature to her. Anyone who wondered just had to ask Ralph. For all his faults, she was big enough to admit that she didn’t always make it easy to live with her.

“This is highly unorthodox,” Gonzales said.

Jenny resisted the urge to say, “Sure. Sorry I bothered you.” She forced herself not to fidget under the force of his gaze.

Gonzales leaned back and cradled his head in his hands. “What makes you think you can do this?”

“Determination.” It was the first and only thing that came to mind.

“Determination’s good,” Steve said.

“I was thinking in terms of practical experience,” Gonzales said. “Something that would catch my eye on a resume.”

Jenny stifled a laugh. I can arrange a mean centerpiece.

Gonzales released his hands and sat forward. He studied her for a long moment, then sighed. “Tell you what. Pass the fitness test and I’ll consider your request.”

Fitness test? A picture of Marine boot camp training flashed through her mind. How the hell could she pass a fitness test? Was this the moment she should say, ‘thank you very much’ and take her leave? “What exactly do I have to do?”

The man seemed as surprised by her question as she was. “A modified form of our cadet requirements.”

“Which are?”

“Run a mile without passing out. Twenty-five sit-ups. Twenty-five push-ups. A few more things I can’t recall. It’s been a while since I looked at the training manual.”

Jenny kept her feet planted firmly in place despite her inclination to run like hell. She couldn’t even remember the last time she’d done a sit-up. “How long do I have to get ready?”

Gonzales seemed to consider her slight frame for a second longer than necessary. “Four weeks.”

Driving home, Jenny’s mind whirled with the effort of trying to sort out the complications she’d never considered before making that brash decision to storm the police station.

Not the least of which was keeping everything a secret.

Gonzales had explained that the only way they could make this happen—if she passed the physical challenge-was to run her as a confidential informant. That meant not telling anyone. “Not your kids. Not your mother. Not even your dog can know where you go or what you do.”

That had struck her as funny at the station, but now as she approached her driveway anxiety tore through her. Her whole relationship with the kids had been built on honesty. How could she lie to them? And hide things from her mother, or Carol? There was a good reason Jenny never played poker.

After the car rolled to a stop in front of the house, Jenny killed the engine and sat for a moment. Through her open window she heard the chatter of a blue jay that was worrying a robin in the elm tree. As she watched the birds, she couldn’t help but notice that the branches of the tree dipped dangerously close to the roof. Pretty soon they’d be scraping across the shingles.

Something else to fix.

Maybe she should just forget this nonsense and take care of her house. Take care of the family that she had left. Forget the drugs and forget-

No.

She couldn’t just forget. Otherwise there would be no way to make any sense of Michael’s death. And somehow there was this burning need for reason, for order, for retribution.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to enter the contest. Good Luck!

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