It’s a mystery!
Today, I thought I’d treat you to an excerpt of my latest release, Dead Ruby Slippers. It’s my first attempt at a mystery, but I’ve thrown in a paranormal element to it that’s pretty interesting. I hope you enjoy!
Blurb: Dancing may be hard…but no one expected it to be murder.
When sexy tap dancer Abigail Carlton, a.k.a. Ruby Slippers, is found dead and arranged in an artistic fashion on her coffee table, it’s up to Special Agent Quentin Banks to solve her murder.
But nothing is ever as it seems. Not only is Quentin a FBI career man, he doubles as an officer for the Institute of Magical Instruction…and the dancer’s death has super natural energy written all over it.
Quentin must find who murdered Abigail, and he only has 24 hours to do it before it’s taken over by his superiors.
Excerpt from Chapter One:
He wished investigating murder was easy because it certainly wasn’t fun.
Special Agent Quentin Banks glanced at the white, waxy skin of the high-end housewife and wondered yet again what would possess someone to kill. What sort of zeal motivated a person to pull the trigger? To snuff out a life?
Sighing, he gestured to the forensics team to start the investigation. At least this was a cut-and-dry case. She had been bored, the husband came home and found her with the gardener, killed her in a fit of rage. Eventually, they’d catch up to the man and track him down.
At least magic wasn’t involved. That paperwork alone could take days.
Quentin swung around to see a young cop standing in the doorway of the palatial entryway, the motion sensor lights creating macabre shadows on his gaunt face. The rookie had followed him around for the bulk of the night. Quentin didn’t have the strength or the interest to be a mentor.
“What is it?”
“Will you return to the scene this evening? We should have prelim results by then.”
“No, I’m going home. Haven’t been there much in the last two months.” Quentin winced when the rookie’s hopeful expression crashed into disappointment. Well, the pup would just have to find a new role model. “Fax any pertinent information to Sarah.”
“Will do, sir.”
With slumped shoulders, Quentin flung himself behind the wheel of his black Dodge Charger then navigated out of the ritzy neighborhood, the vehicle’s headlights illuminating the wrought iron gate of the exclusive community. Did having a big house, expensive cars and wealth make a life complete?
An image of the dead woman flashed in his mind. Maybe not.
Twenty minutes later, Quentin sailed into downtown Indianapolis and pulled cleanly into the lot of his condominium building. As soon as he parked and exited the car, his cellphone rang.
“Banks.” The word was sharp and short.
“Now is that the proper way to greet your overworked, underpaid secretary?”
A grin curled his lips as he walked across the lot. “You’re not just my secretary, Sarah.” It was true. She had worked for him for at least ten years, maybe more. Through all of his moves around the country, she remained the one constant. “You’re my right-hand woman, my moral compass.”
“You can prove it to me by bringing me flowers next time you’re in the office.”
He made a mental note. “What do you need?” Quentin slipped through the exterior door to the high-rise and pushed the button for the elevator.
“Oh, besides your six-foot, two-inch, one hundred eighty pounds of pure molten, muscled heat?”
Quentin knew the tips of his ears turned red at her blatant flirting. Even though she was old enough to be his mother, she had the power to make him feel like a geeky freshman in high school again. “Sarah, please.” He stepped in the elevator when it arrived, grateful the car was empty.
“Please what, baby?” Her thick Southern accent sounded more exaggerated than usual. This struck him as funny because Sarah grew up in central Ohio and only recently moved to Virginia.
She had never been to his local office in Indianapolis. “Please let me run my fingers through that thick chocolate hair? Or how about charmin’ me with those baby blues?” She huffed into the silence that followed. “All right. You’re not in the mood for my little jokes today.”
“Oh, no problem, just a notice from the League.”
Stifling a sigh, Quentin closed the door and tossed his key ring onto a low table in the entryway. The Magical Enforcement League was his real job. The FBI gig was only a cover, albeit an interesting one. “What now?” In his capacity as an enforcement officer, Quentin’s job entailed keeping a check on practitioners of magic. If they got out of hand with their power or attempted to use their magic for personal gains, it was his responsibility to issue citations. If the warnings went unheeded, he had the authority to revoke their magic license or, in a worst-case scenario, drain their powers.
“The usual. The League wants to remind its officers it will be closed for two days in observance of the Founder’s Day celebration. If you should be called out on a case within the next forty-eight hours, you’ll be without backup for awhile. They also remind you to use whatever method you see fit in solvin’ a case.”
“Great.” He rifled through the basket in his entryway. Once a week, the woman who cleaned his place collected his mail for him. Nothing caught his eye so he moved into the living area. Quentin purposefully kept his condo streamlined, clean and aloof. No personal effects, no cheery mementos of happier times and no photographs. Nothing gave away a hint of his personality or mindset. He preferred it that way. Less hassle. Less mess. “Anything on the docket then?”
“Not a thing, honey, unless you wanna come down and keep an old girl company durin’ the slow hours.”
Quentin rolled his eyes. “Not today. I figured I’d spend some time at home.”
“At your depressin’ condo? At least adopt a dog.”
He heard her fingers race over her keyboard, the simple act making him grin because it meant she was busy working a case. “A dog? I don’t even have a plant. Don’t have the time between both jobs.”
She clicked her tongue. “You work too much. What you need is a good woman to take your mind off things, soften you up. You’re starting to get prickly around the edges.”
“You know why I can’t date.” He moved into the kitchen and grabbed a cold bottle of beer from the fridge. “How would I explain the double life?”
“Who says you need to? What if you find a woman who’s got a secret too?”
“Don’t you have anything better to do than poke around in my personal issues?” Quentin dropped into a black leather recliner in the living room then frowned at the chrome-and-glass coffee table. Nothing in his home could be construed as a memento. He didn’t want to be reminded of what he’d lost. “Not that I don’t appreciate your enthusiasm.” He grunted with satisfaction as the first sip of liquid coated his throat. The simple things in life were best.
“Now, stud muffin, don’t get your boxers in a bunch. I’m only lookin’ out for you.”
Another sigh. “When I find a woman that interests me, you’ll be the first to know, all right?”
He rubbed a hand over his face. “Call me if there’s a change in the case load. Until then, I’m gonna sleep in my own bed for the next couple days.”
“You wouldn’t have to sleep alone if you would hurry up and find a girlfriend. Maybe you’d crack a smile every once in a while too. It won’t kill you.”
“Good night, Sarah.”
Quentin snapped his phone shut and took another pull on his beer. He had to hand it to his secretary. She certainly made life a bit less lonely. Remote in hand, he clicked through the TV channels. He quirked an eyebrow as a commercial’s colorful images flitted across the screen.
“For three nights only, don’t miss your chance to see the incomparable Ruby Slippers perform on stage! Tickets on sale now!” At the close of the blurb, a slender blonde did a sliding sort of step, a pair of ruby red tap shoes on her tiny feet.
“Not in this lifetime.” With a frown, Special Agent Banks switched off the TV and stared morosely at the darkened skyline.