by Carolyn Arnold
GENRE: Police Procedural, Thriller
Sometimes the past should stay there…
The murder is one of the most heinous Brandon Fisher has ever seen, but that’s not why it has his and his colleagues’ attention. The FBI’s interested because the prime suspect is one of their own, Paige Dawson.
But Paige didn’t go to Valencia, California to kill anyone. She had set out on “vacation”—her new lover in tow—only to confront the man who had raped her friend twenty-some years ago. While the hands of the law are tied, she wants him to face the fact that he destroyed a young woman’s life and know that, as an FBI agent, she’ll be watching his every move. But instead of accomplishing her goal, she wound up in the back of a police cruiser.
Now Paige must face off with a hard-nosed detective determined to stick a murder charge to a fed. But with the trained eyes of the FBI on the case, it’s becoming more and more obvious that the evidence lends itself to a serial killing, not an isolated incident. And as long as the local authorities are focused on Paige, the real murderer is still out there, possibly waiting to strike again…
MONDAY, AUGUST 24TH, 11:10 PM PACIFIC TIME
CANYON COUNTRY, CALIFORNIA
THE MARK WAS IN HIS FORTIES, had no kids, and worked a white-collar job. Average height, average looks. Nothing was truly memorable about him except for his uncommon first name, and that was only because it belonged to a character from a popular eighties movie.
She had followed him to some honky-tonk in Canyon Country, an unsavory location at any time of day, but factor in the late hour and it was even worse. But Ferris had chosen this dive as his hunting ground. Women were easier to lure in with a little chemical persuasion, and that was easy to pass off around here.
He entered the bar with head held high, his back straight, the tease of a smirk on his lips—the end of the evening a foregone conclusion in his mind. He was sipping on his first bourbon, though he was acting as if he was on his third by slurring his words and talking loudly. He’d even thrown a sway into his swagger. Somehow he always managed to make his eyes look bloodshot, too, furthering the charade. And the women would come. And the women would fall for his tricks.
Tonight, she’d be that woman, but she’d be his last. He had to learn there was a price to pay for his actions.
She was sitting down the bar from him. Occasionally, he’d pass her a look—the predatory kind that made her blood boil. She smiled at him, doing her best to convey carnal hunger with her gaze, smearing on a seductive curve to her lips. She dipped her finger into her manhattan and sucked on it—the cherry juice sweet, the whiskey bitter.
Ferris was off his stool and sidling up her to within three seconds.
The ruse worked every time. It also helped that she exploited what nature had given her—a slender frame and shapely legs. High heels accentuated her well-defined calf muscles, and men stared when she walked into a room. When she paired even higher stilettos with a short skirt and crossed her legs, men’s mouths tended to fall open. She utilized all these virtues tonight.
She flashed another sultry smile, and he lifted his glass toward her before tilting his own back and draining it. He set it back on the bar and knocked on it to get the bartender’s attention.
“I’ll have another on the rocks and—” he rolled his head toward her “—get the lady whatever she’d like.”
Time to feign innocence and flattery.
She waved a dismissive hand in his direction. “I really shouldn’t.”
She saw the quick look he gave her glass before meeting her eyes again. “Nonsense. Please, it would be my treat.”
If she stripped his voice of its candy-coated tone, his words were pushy and controlling.
“Well”—she angled her glass, showing how little of her drink she had left—“only if you’re sure.”
If she had actually been given a chance to prove her acting skills, she could be living in a sprawling mansion by now.
“Absolutely. What will it be?” Ferris asked, a grin teasing his lips as he tugged down on his left earlobe. It wasn’t hard for her to figure out what was going on. Ferris was asking for something “special” to be added to her drink—the “special” being some kind of date-rape drug.
She lifted her glass to the bartender. “Another manhattan.”
“Coming right up.” The tender left to make their drinks, and she watched him, taking the time to calm her heartbeat and flow of adrenaline.
“I like a woman who can handle her whiskey.” Ferris was looking quite comfortable beside her now. He was fully facing her, his left elbow perched on the counter, and he wasn’t discreet about his drifting gaze, which gravitated to her thighs.
“What can I say? I’m a little whiskey girl.” The words from the country song rolled off her tongue, cinching her gut, but she had to do what was necessary to pull him in.
“Toby Keith,” he said.
“Toby Keith.” He pointed to a speaker on the ceiling. “The singer who sings that one.”
“Ah, yes.” And here, she thought she was doing well by knowing it was even a country song. She smiled at him again. He truly thought of himself as a woman’s man.
“Have I seen you here before?” he asked.
She dipped her head.
“I knew it. I never forget a beautiful face. So what’s your name?”
“Names really aren’t important, are they, baby?” She extended her hand, her long, narrow fingers bowing before him in feminine elegance.
“Oh, she’s mysterious. I like it.” He kissed the back of her hand, and she was proud of herself for not rolling her eyes.
The bartender returned and placed their drinks in front of them. “Here you go.”
From her observations, Ferris seemed to keep a running tab here. Rape now, pay later?
Oh, and Ferris would pay…
“You never told me your name,” she said, falling into her role.
“Oh, I can tell you mine, but you can’t—”
“Uh-huh.” She sucked on the tip of her finger again.
“Ferris.” He still held onto her other hand, and she pulled it back shyly.
“Are you from around here?” she asked, resorting to the necessity of small talk.
“I just fly in from time to time for business.”
“Ah.” She’d have to call upon her acting skills for this performance. She knew he lived less than three miles away from this place. “What business?”
He tapped his jacket pockets, then slid a hand inside one. “How embarrassing. I don’t have any cards with me. Besides, I don’t really want to bore you. Why don’t we talk about you?” He leaned toward her and lifted his rocks glass. “To a fun night.”
“To one we won’t remember.”
They toasted, and he took a long pull of the amber liquid. She pressed her own glass to her lips and pretended to take a sip.
CAROLYN ARNOLD is the international best-selling and award-winning author of the Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher, and McKinley Mystery series. She is the only author with POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT.™
Carolyn was born in a small town, but that doesn’t keep her from dreaming big. And on par with her large dreams is her overactive imagination that conjures up killers and cases to solve. She currently lives in a city near Toronto with her husband and beagle. She is also a member of Crime Writers of Canada.
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My interview with Carolyn Arnold:
What do you think is the best way to publish these days?
I believe this is a personal preference. Being self-published definitely takes an entrepreneurial mindset if you want to meet with success. For some, the thought of managing their marketing and budget—just a couple key areas—can be very overwhelming. As a self-published author you need to make decisions about everything, each step of the way: editors, formatting, cover design, and the list goes on.
What are your favorite genres to read? Why?
I love reading mysteries and thrillers because I love the suspense that comes with the genre and I like to see if I can figure out whodunit.
Do your characters talk to you?
Yes, in a matter of fashion. Not in the “I’m crazy” sort of way, but their “voice” can hit me and then I need to write a certain scene.
How do you approach starting a new book?
At the beginning of the year, I set out a release schedule so I know what I have to write and when to reach that goal. This allows time, too, of course, for editing and working with a professional for a few rounds.
When it comes to sitting down to write the book itself, with my murder mysteries, I know how the person was killed and have an idea as to motivation. The who isn’t something I always know setting out. In fact, there have been times I thought I had only to find out it was someone else.
What is your writing process?
I write organically, meaning that I go with the flow. I write as if I’m watching a movie play in my mind. I pick the strongest point-of-view in which to share the scene to my readers.
There are times that I’ve sat down to write not even having an idea what the next scene would be, and like magic, the words flow.
What are your non-writing hobbies, or what do you do to relax?
Relax, is that something people do? LOL I find it so hard to “turn off,” but I love reading, going to the beach to hear the waves lap against the shore, watching movies, going out for nice dinners, traveling, and doing new things. Let’s not discount trips to the spa for a massage, manicure or pedicure.
What was your best date ever?
I’ll go with the first date—and only real date—I had with the man who became my husband. We’ve been married twenty years to-date and are still going strong!
We had known each other for about a year and half before the relationship changed to a romantic one. He took me to the CN Tower as I’d always wanted to go up and look down. We ended up grabbing lunch at the base of the tower and I chose Taco Bell. I ordered a burrito and they stuffed it so full, I took one bite and… You guessed it, the stuffing spilled out everywhere. What a mess! He rushed to get a handful of napkins. I don’t think either of us will forget that time.
Navy SEAL or cowboy?
Oh, tough and it would depend on my mood. Whether I was feeling bad-ass or down-to-earth. I definitely have a thing for a fit man in a white navy uniform.
Chocolate or chips?
Chocolate chips, can that be my answer? LOL Okay, gun to my head, chocolate.
If you could have a superpower what would it be? Why?
To operate fully and functional on no sleep. Can you imagine what a person could accomplish? How much of a difference they could make in the world?
Fancy restaurant or picnic?
I’ll go with fancy restaurant as I don’t recall the last time I had a picnic.
Beer or wine?
Again, depends on my mood. If I’m out at a nice restaurant or relaxing at home, usually wine. If I’m sitting on a patio or having a lunch out with hubby, a beer.
I have a few. To pick one right now, I’ll say Janet Evanovich.
Smooth or hairy?
I guess it would depend on what we’re talking about here! LOL I love some hair on a man’s chest, but I don’t want a rug on his back!
Carolyn Arnold will be awarding $25 paid through Paypal to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.