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On the next episode of the Crime Cafe podcast, I’ll be interviewing David Putnam. He’s provided this week’s guest post and book giveaway.

David is giving away copies of his latest novel, The Reckless, to the first three people who email him at mary[at]DavidPutnamBooks[dot]com with the subject line: “I feel RECKLESS!” and your mailing address. So if you’re feeling reckless and act fast, you may win a print copy of the book! 🙂

Please share this post with crime fiction loving friends and family, too! 🙂

And, on that note, let’s check out this excerpt from David’s book, The Innocents (Bruno Johnson Thriller #5).

*****

“Sometimes bad people help you do good things.”

Chapter One

East Compton 1988

Millicent hesitated, cocked her head to the side.

I turned the water off in the shower and listened. “Shh! I think I heard it too.”

“Was it the door?”

The noise came again, a knock. Millie had been right: she’d heard it better than I did the first time. I’d been a little distracted.

“I better see who that is.”

“Ah, really Bruno, can’t you let it go for now? I mean really? I still need the conditioner or my hair is going to frizz.” She put her hand up on my chest. “You wouldn’t want a girl’s hair to frizz would you big guy? A real gentleman wouldn’t.”

I didn’t want to leave the beautiful, wet redhead wanting. Her lovely skin was littered with freckles; her green eyes flashed with anger over the interruption. She whirled around her back to me. “Damn you, Bruno Johnson, hurry then.”

I gave her a hug and kissed her on the neck. She turned and kissed me back.

I started to step out. She shoved me aside and went first. “What kind of gentleman are you to leave a lady hanging like this? Now I can see where your priorities are and where I fit in.” She grabbed a towel and turned her back to me.

I really couldn’t afford to make her angry. As the captain’s secretary, she had the absolute ability to influence him, whisper in his ear about a deputy who left a woman in the shower before the conditioner was applied. She faced the mirror and raised her arms to dry her hair with the towel. Her breasts bounced and jiggled. She watched my eyes in the mirror, knowing exactly what she did to me. I moved up behind and put my arms around her. I cooed, “Just let me get the door. I’ll be right back and I promise I’ll make it up to you.”

Then I yelled to the person at the door, “Coming.”

She turned in my arms and kissed me on the mouth. I groaned.

I pulled away then leaned forward and whispered in her ear. “I’ve just been assigned to a new team. This is the first day. It could be something important. I really need to answer the door, or believe me, I—”

She giggled. “I believe you, sweetie. Hurry and answer it, then get that cute little black ass back in here before I cool down.”

“I’m goin.’ I’m goin.’ You keep your engine runnin,’ I’ll be right back.” I grabbed the second towel off the rack and hurried into the short hall, angry now at the intruder ruining a near-perfect morning.

I tracked water as I wrapped the towel around my waist, my skin still slick with sweat from the exertion of the water sports. My feet thumped on the wood floor of my micro-small studio apartment that sat over the Anytime Dry Cleaners on Atlantic Avenue in East Compton.

I kept the curtains closed for privacy, which made the living room dark as pitch.

I jerked open the door. The bright sunlight blinded me. I brought my arm up to block the glare. My eyes gradually adjusted. A woman stood on the small landing at the top of the wooden stairs. She held something in her arms. At first I didn’t recognize her. Maybe my subconscious didn’t want to recognize her. No, that wasn’t it. When I knew her she’d always been smiling. She always had a smile for me. She didn’t smile now. She said nothing and tried to hand me the bundle she held in her arms.

My mouth sagged open. I stepped back from her. “Sonya? What are you—?”

She followed me into the small living room.

The baby in her arms squirmed and gurgled. Sonya looked half-crazed, haggard, her hair a mess, with dark circles under her eyes, her skin pasty. “Here Bruno, take her. She’s yours. I can’t handle her anymore.” Her voice held an urgency that scared me.

I staggered back. “Mine? That’s my child?” The room spun as I fought the dizziness from this new information, the sudden shock of it.

Millie came out of the bathroom in a rush, tracking more water, not concerned enough about her nakedness, the towel held loosely to her chest and not covering everything. “You have a girlfriend? You have a baby?”

Sonya looked at Millie and said, “I see you didn’t waste any time.”

“Sonya, you can’t be serious. That’s my child?” She tried to hand her to me again. I still couldn’t acknowledge my paternity, or accept her offering, and took another half-step back.

Millie stooped and grabbed her deflated dress on the floor, where we’d stripped it off her the night before. She turned her back and slipped it on over her head. The material clung to her wet skin. She grabbed up her black lace bra and panties, shoved them in her purse, and picked up her shoes. “You’re a real asshole, Bruno Johnson.” She moved around Sonya on her way to the door. She didn’t slow when she said, “I’m sorry. Really, I didn’t know. Good luck.”

With Millie gone, the room still felt overcrowded by one.

I backed up and sat on the couch. “I didn’t know you were pregnant. You never said anything about it. Why didn’t you tell me?”

She came over and stood next to me. Tears rolled down her cheeks. “You’re going to find you don’t know a lot of things, big guy.” She gently placed the child in my lap. “She’s all yours.”

The warm bundle smelled of baby powder and squirmed as if trying to escape her cotton cocoon. “Sonya, I can’t. Let’s talk about this, okay? Please?”

Sonya turned her back, her hands going to her face. Her body gently shook as she sobbed. “I can’t, Bruno. I can’t take her anymore. It’s too much. She cries all the time. She never sleeps. I haven’t slept in two weeks, not since she was born. I’m going out of my mind. I’m afraid of what I’ll do—”

She headed for the door.

“Sonya, wait.”

She froze, but didn’t turn around.

“Bruno, I killed a man. You were there. You warned me. You told me to be careful. I hit him too hard with that blackjack and I killed him. I don’t deserve a beautiful little girl like her. I’m having a hard enough time living with myself. There just isn’t any room for her in my screwed-up brain. Not right now.”

She started for the door again.

“How can I reach you?”

“You can’t.”

Sonya passed through the door onto the landing. A thousand words clogged my tongue, and I could only push out the less significant ones: “What’s her name? What’s the child’s name?”

Sonya’s voice came in through the door as she descended the stairs. “I didn’t give her a name. The County Hall of Records has her as Baby Girl Johnson. Go ahead and give her a name, Bruno. She’s all yours now.”

And Sonya was gone.

*****

Best-selling author David Putnam comes from a family of law enforcement and always wanted to be a cop. During his career, he did it all: worked in narcotics, served on FBI-sponsored violent crimes teams, and was cross-sworn as a US Marshall, pursuing murder suspects and bank robbers in Arizona, Nevada, and California. Putnam did two tours on the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s SWAT team. He also has experience in criminal intelligence and internal affairs and has supervised corrections, patrol, and a detective bureau. In Hawaii, Putnam was a member of the real-life Hawaii Five O, serving as Special Agent for the Attorney General investigating smuggling and white-collar crimes. The Reckless is the sixth in the Bruno Johnson series and the second of the “young” Bruno prequels. Putnam lives in Southern California with his wife, Mary.

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