Deadly Deception PAPERBACK
Kate Lomax travels to the Midwest during that one perfect time of the year, after the last snowfall but before the first mosquito attack. She’ll be attending the third wedding of her friend, Elizabeth Fox and reconnecting with her childhood pals. Kate barely gets to town, when first one, and then another of the women is murdered. The survivors ask Kate to help them uncover the killer. While investigating the deaths, she meets Adam Womack, a local newspaperman. They are instantly attracted to one another. Together they uncover the trail of Deadly Deception to reveal the killer.
Frustration, pain, and anger all collided in my chest in a hard ball that I couldn’t contain. I threw back my head, opened my mouth, and howled like a wolf with his paw caught in a trap. Rain poured into my mouth and down my face, mixing with salty tears. I cried for my lost friends and my lost life. For the first time since Ted’s death, I realized that I was totally alone, and I was terrified. No Pop to wipe away my tears, no husband to come to my rescue. Both big brothers were hundreds of miles away and busy taking care of their own families. I had to stand on my own two, very wet feet.
Trembling and wretched, I shook myself. “Well hell. I’m a big girl. I should be able change a stupid tire.” The pep talk calmed me somewhat. I gave the tire a kick to show it who was boss. Then I wiped my nose on the back of my jacket sleeve leaving a snail trail of snot down the sleeve. Sloughing through ankle-deep water around to the driver’s side of the car, I reached in, turned off the engine, and took the keys out of the ignition. Fumbling around, I inserted the key in the trunk and yanked it up. There was a jumble of tools, but no spare tire. Acid bubbled up in my gut. I felt pain as my fingernails slashed crescents into the palms of my squeezed fists.
A spurt of lightning brightened the sky and I saw something more useful. A flashlight and two cans of tire-inflate-sealant to refill the tires of stranded ladies who had no clue how to change a tire. Illumination still spilled out of the gas station, so at least I’d be able to see the valve stems. I grabbed the flashlight and threw it and one of the cans into the car.
Sharp pebbles dug into my knees as I knelt, making me cry out again. I sniffled and shifted a bit, water squishing around my calves as I felt around and located the round tube of rubber. A jagged piece of metal jumped out and slashed my finger. I sucked on the wound and the metallic taste of blood almost made me vomit. I swallowed hard, wrapped a soggy piece of tissue on the cut, and kept going.
As I finished unscrewing the cap, a huge clap of thunder nearly knocked me over. The lights in the filling station flickered once and went out. Now I was in total darkness. I wanted to curl up in the puddle of water and give up. Let them find me in the morning, dead among the debris. Then I remembered Elizabeth alone in that massive house.
“No.” A spurt of energy flowed through my body. I would not quit. Narrowing my eyes to clear them of water, I smacked the side of the car with my fist. Pulling open the passenger door, I snatched the flashlight, pushed the button, and aimed the beam at the tire. The light was bright, clear, and steady. I took this as a sign that my luck had changed. I pushed the plastic hose onto the stem and heard the hiss of air as the tire rose and began to inflate.
In a few minutes the can was empty and the tire nearly full. Use the second can? Or save it for the trip home, just in case? I struggled up, threw the empty can over my shoulder and scrambled into the car. I decided to hold on to the second can of stuff. I didn’t want to take a chance of getting halfway to Pine Bluff and having another flat.
The car rumbled to life on the first try. Things were definitely looking up. Depressing the clutch, I put the car in gear and eased up to the highway. I looked carefully in both directions and then got the giggles.
“Kate, Kate, Kate! You’re the only idiot on the road tonight. You fool.” I sneezed and turned west. Ahead of me, a rogue garbage can danced out of the trees, clattering and banging as it paraded along the road. The rain still came down in sheets and the wind continued to nip at the car. I fumbled in my purse on the seat beside me for a dry tissue to wipe my face. I shivered. If this little car could keep going, then by God, so could I.
My fingers forged a death grip on the steering wheel as I hunched forward, my nose inches from the windshield. I could see only as far in front of the car as the end of the headlight beams. Twigs and branches cluttered the road and I prayed no animal would come out of the woods and into my path. After a few minutes, I realized that the intensity of the storm had slackened. I relaxed and tried to make sense of what Chip had said.
The inside of the car started fogging with moisture, so I cracked the window. The cool breeze felt good against my hot cheeks. Great; now I was probably getting sick on top of everything else. I thought I saw a star shining through the licorice sky. My foot got heavier on the pedal and the car jumped forward.