Friday, March 9, 2018

Excerpt from Dead in a Pickup


I have been working on the next Leah Norwood mystery. I really got behind in February. I’m only a little over 15,000 words. I was hoping to be close to 30,000 by now. March has to be more productive!

Here’s a little excerpt:
Normally, I don’t mind staying late. I love my store, my employees, and my customers. Scents and Sensibilities belongs to my two best friends and me. Gabe Weston, Olivia Graham, and I meet in collage. Gabe and Olivia married and moved back to Gabe’s home town. With no other prospects, I followed. I fell in love with Reed Hill but was working a dead-end job. Olivia was bored at hers, and Gabe had just been handed the reigns to his family’s manufacturing business. One night of a little too much wine and our dream store was born. Olivia is a chemist. She mixes and designs our fragrances, Gabe’s company produces them, and I sell them. For the last couple of years, we have turned a nice profit, and we were all happy.
But tonight I was anxious to leave. I hadn’t seen Griggs for almost two weeks. During the shutdown of the Cantono’s drug operation in December, the involvement of one of the local police captains had come to light. Raymond Hunter was still in prison, but his arrest had left a hole in the police department. Griggs had quickly replaced him with an officer by the name of Megan Ross. She was smart, competent, and willing but lacked any real experience as a detective. Griggs had to spend a lot of time training her. She had been thrown into the deep in end on her first case which had been the murder of a distant cousin of mine. That was the case that had brought Griggs back into my life.
Hunter had been the mastermind behind the drug operation, but he wasn’t the only police officer involved. It had taken Griggs several months to weed out the rest which had left his department short-staffed.
If that had been the only thing in our way, Griggs and I would have found time to get together, but at the end of March, the flu arrived in town. It was late for a flu epidemic so everyone was surprised and unprepared. It started in the schools but quickly spread. Emma, who has three young children, had to take off the whole first week of April. Normally, that wouldn’t have been a problem as one of my other employees could have stepped in, but Myra, who is a retired teacher, had been helping out at the high school because so many were out sick. Our other option for help was Oliva, but two of her boys had caught the flu as well. Kara and I were the only two left standing. Working a lot of hours didn’t really leave me much time for dating.
Just about the time, my employees returned to work. The flu made its way to the police and fire departments. Having emergency services short-staff was not anything anyone wanted. Griggs stepped in when Megan went down, and several other officers clocked a lot of overtime.
My phone rang as I walked into the backroom of the store. My heart sank when I saw it was Griggs. He wouldn’t be calling unless he had to cancel. With a quiet sigh, I answered.
“I’m sorry,” he said immediately. His deep, smoky voice sent a shiver down my spine – the good kind of shiver.
“It’s okay,” I replied as I sat in the chair behind my desk.
“No. It’s not,” he said sharply, “but I can’t do anything about it. I just found David in the bathroom throwing up.”
David Reddish is the other captain on the Reed Hill force. He’s in his late fifties, attractive, and has a crush on Myra. He is also one of the most competent officers I have ever met as well as being a really good guy.
“Flu?”
“Yep. He wasn’t even going to tell me.”
“He knows you need the time off.”
“Yeah, but…”
“It’s okay. I understand.”
“I’m really sorry, Leah.”
“I know.”
“Listen, Megan is supposed to be back tomorrow. I’ll brief her in the morning, and then we can grab some lunch. Do you think you could get the afternoon off? We can make a day of it.”
I leaned back in the chair with a silly grin on my face. “I think I can arrange that.”
“Great.” I could hear the smile in his voice. “I’ll call you in the morning.”

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