Yep, that’s right. I got more chapters of Fatal Connections for you here!
So, ready or not, here they come!
I sat in my car and contemplated the horror I had just seen inside the house. Whereas the upstairs was neat as a pin, the basement had been torn apart. As for the Harcourts, they had been treated similarly. The result was two dead bodies and an ungodly mess. The sort of scene that brought back nightmares from my previous life.
Outside, the wind blew in gusts, and yellow crime scene tape stretched, flapping, around the entire property. I shut my eyes but couldn’t unsee the Harcourts’ bruised and bloody bodies, throats cut. Nor could I shut out the memory of Marian Harcourt’s voice on the phone.
It looked like a burglary, like the perp had torn through the basement seeking something. But burglars usually don’t kill people or use them as punching bags.
As for the bodies, having the heat on in the well-insulated basement would no doubt play hell with the medical examiner’s findings. Had I not been awakened just a short time before, I could imagine how quickly the Harcourts’ remains would have started to deteriorate. Let’s hear it for energy-saving houses. Not only will your utility bills be lower, but you’ll biodegrade faster if someone breaks in and whacks your ass.
Three raps on my window startled me. I opened my eyes to see a uniformed officer standing beside my driver’s side door. From the way she held her hand up, I assumed my look was less than friendly. She said a few words that I could make out well enough through the window. Words like “detective” and “statement.” She pointed toward the house and made what I assumed to be a request or an order to get out of my car. OK.
The officer, a young woman, maybe in her mid 20s, with just enough creases around the eyes and mouth to suggest she had more experience than your garden-variety millennial, seemed relieved. “Detective Gordan would like to ask you a few questions.” I nodded in agreement and she added, “Follow me, please.”
Together, we ducked under the tape and approached a man wearing a wrinkled gray suit, surrounded by a clutch of crime techs. Made me glad I had taken the precaution of stowing my gun in the back storage area of my car, sans bullets, which I placed in the glove compartment. The detective stopped talking to the techs long enough to tip me off that he was watching us.
“Thank you, Officer McNab,” he said. “And thank you for waiting, Ms . . . .”
“Jensen,” I said. “Erica Jensen.”
The man in the wrinkly suit thrust a hand toward me. “I’m Detective Thomas Gordan. This won’t take long.”
So you’re a detective and a fortuneteller? That’s what I wanted to say but didn’t.
A woman, mid to late 30s, in a stylishly cut suit, came out of the house and joined us. Detective Gordon of the Wrinkled Suit gestured toward Ms. Stylish. “My partner, Detective Meredith Sully.” Sully nodded. I did likewise.
“What brought you to the Harcourts’ house today?” Gordan asked.
“They were my clients. Ms. Harcourt called me a couple hours ago and asked me to come by.” I phrased the statement with a barely detectable question mark at the end.
Gordon gave me a hard look. “What time did Ms. Harcourt call you?”
“Uh, it was almost five. Right around five ay-em.” Only an hour ago. Oh five hundred. Military time was drummed into my brain. Switching to the “normal” system was just another adjustment I hadn’t quite made to civilian life.
Gordan, unphased by my unspoken thoughts, returned to scribbling notes. “What business are you in?”
I fished a business card identifying me as a “freelance researcher” from my shoulder bag and handed it to him. He gave it a glance. Sully peered at the card from where she stood. One corner of her mouth turned up.
“What sort of research were you doing?” Gordan asked.
“Background checks,” I said with what I hoped was a breezy air. Which was absolutely true. Just not the whole story.
Gordan gave me the cop’s standard x-ray stare. I was spared the same look from Sully. Other than the suits, these guys were pulling a twins act. Gordan opened his mouth slowly as if his jaw hurt. “Can you think of anyone who might have done this?” The way he said “this” emphasized the total depravity of the perp’s actions.
I shook my head. “No one in particular, but the victims were . . . what? Internet famous? And there are all sorts of sickos out there.”
“So you understand our problem,” Detective Sully said in her low alto voice.
Movements on the periphery caught my eye. The street fronting the house had turned into a circus of cars and vans, police and civilian. And now, the media was moving in. Several robed or half-dressed people loitered outside the crime tape, holding phones and of course taking videos. At that point, the detectives brought our little exchange to a halt. Not that I could have helped them much. Before we parted, both detectives handed me their cards.
“We may need you to come in to the station later,” Gordan said. “We can reach you here then?” He held up my card.
“Sure thing,” I said, sounding more chipper than I felt.
I pushed past the throng of onlookers and headed straight for my car. When I got inside, I started it up and made tracks, but not too fast. I found another place to park far from the crime scene. I figured I owed Nick, a friend who was also my sponsor, a heads up, since he’d referred the Harcourts to me.
I’ve also posted the first few chapters on Substack for free, but to read the whole book there and get access to community chat plus the audio versions of my Sam McRae novels, you gotta pay to play. 🙂
You can get that and more if you become a Patreon patron!
PS: I have no plans at this point to run a bunch of ads and promos or have a big launch party or whatever I’m supposed to do, okay? 🙂
Because … really! 🙂