How very exciting! Go find it here at Resplendence Publishing.
If you'd like a taste of it, here's the first bit.
“Okay, everybody, stand back. I said stand back! Nothing to see here. Move along.” Jake Harrison elbowed his way through the gathering crowd. He had to squeeze his large frame between two hysterical women, and he grimaced as he struggled through the front row of bystanders who jostled each other mercilessly, trying to get a better look at the beautiful cyclist sprawled out on the pavement. Her bike lay crumpled on the other side of the road.
It appeared to be a typical hit and run.
“Stand back. I’m police.” Even without his uniform, Jake knew he sounded authoritative enough to keep the crowd at bay.
His breath caught in his throat when he saw her. Andrea Wadsworth wasn’t just any beauty. The flaxen-haired socialite was an icon in this part of Illinois. Though quiet and seemingly shy, her betrothal to the mayor’s son nearly six months ago had put her in the headlines all the way out to Chicago.
Her fiancé, John Waters, had kept her there with his glad-handing and ambition. He was thought to be making a play for the Senate and, at least once a week, Jake saw pictures of the couple splashed all over the society pages of the local paper. They cut ribbons, attended galas and lent their gravitas to charity organizations. At every public event, Andrea was glued to her fiancé’s side, silent, smiling and demurely dressed.
So where was he now? Jake looked up, scanning the crowd methodically. He found no trace of the slicked-back politician-to-be.
That’s odd, Jake thought. Surely, with all Waters’ connections, someone had contacted him right away. Jake had been on the scene for at least fifteen minutes. Where was Waters?
The girl on the ground moaned softly and shifted her left leg.
“Don’t move,” Jake whispered, leaning in to her. “I’m calling for help.”
He dialed the police station’s main line from his cell phone. Though he had been on administrative leave for about a half a year now, he still knew the number by heart. Before he’d even gotten through, he heard the sirens in the distance. Someone in the crowd must have called.
Jake shook his head. Something was off, but he couldn’t put his finger on what. He turned his attention to the girl who was slowly coming around. He shushed her as she tried to raise her head.
“Quiet now,” he said. “You’ve had a rough time of it. We’ve got people on the way. Lie still.”
Her blue eyes appeared dazed then froze with worry. “Who are you?” she said in a croaky voice. She tried to boost herself up on her elbows.
“Hey,” Jake whispered. “Don’t move. You’ve had quite a jolt. Rest. Help is coming.”
“Where am I?” she asked, her voice quivering and soft.
Jake wanted to reach out and smooth her tangled blonde hair from her brow, but he resisted. As frightened as she was, the contact would do neither of them any good. He’d learned the hard way not to react emotionally to victims, no matter how beautiful they were or how vulnerable they appeared. If he wanted back on the force, he’d have to be very careful.
“Don’t worry,” he said. “Officers and medics are on their way.”
She acknowledged his words with a half-smile and visibly relaxed.
While he waited for backup, Jake’s professional eye raked over her body, trying to assess the extent of her injuries. Andrea Wadsworth was about five-foot-nine, tanned and in top shape. The papers said she was about twenty-five years old. Dressed in a fitted T-shirt and jeans, she wasn’t properly attired for cycling. She wasn’t even wearing a helmet. A red, racing bike sat crumpled on the other side of the road. It was a hit and run.
A shout from the crowd broke through, and Jake turned his head.
“Jake, hey Jake!” The whiny voice was irritatingly loud against the murmur of the other onlookers. Jake wiped his hair from his forehead. The stale, late-summer air kept the hardtop steaming even as the sun set low in the sky. Within seconds, a wiry man wearing squared hipster glasses had him by the elbow. “What’s the story here, Jake?”
“You should know, Burt,” Jake said with a sigh. “You’re the news, not me.”
“Aw, come on, Jake. Throw me a bone. This crash is going to take me hours to shoot, and my wife’s about to kill me for working so much overtime. Couldn’t this broad have gotten herself run over during business hours?”
Jake blanched. Shop humor, but still, so tasteless. The only people more hardboiled than police officers were news reporters.
“If you want a story, go track down Waters. Don’t you have eyes? This is his fiancée.”
Burt shook him jocularly as if they were old friends. Jake stepped away. Burt Bellows was no friend of his. Not anymore.
“That ain’t my angle,” Burt said. “I’m just here to take pictures of the scene and write five-hundred words about it before deadline. And I’m lucky I got here so quick. One of my guys called in with a tip.”
“Good to know we’ve got bulldogs like you to sniff out the story.” Jake rolled his eyes.
The ambulance had arrived, and officers were making their way to the scene. Jake watched silently as four men fitted the blonde for a neck brace and gingerly placed her onto a stretcher.
“Jake, you there, bro?” Burt tapped him on the shoulder, the motion filling Jake with annoyance. “Just give me the basic details, and I’ll be out of your hair, my hand to God.”
“I only know what you know.”
“Bullshit.” The reporter snorted, his greasy curls bouncy around his shoulders. “First of all, you know what I need. What time did this happen, what happened, how long is the investigation going to take and where’s she going?”
“Don’t mess with me. I’m hungry. And since I can tell you’re so invested in this girl, I’ll tell you a secret as soon as you’re done.”
“I’m not invested in her.”
“Then why protect her privacy? You know the chief’s just going to make a statement anyway. Save him the trouble. I won’t use your name.”
Jake rubbed his eyes as the ambulance doors slammed shut and the siren started to wail.
“Her name is Andrea Wadsworth. It looks like she was cycling down Main when a car must have hit her. That must be her bike over there. No helmet. Looks like a hit and run. The investigation will go on for as long as it takes, and she’s probably headed to St. Mary’s. That’s all I know.”
“Okay, great. Thanks, pal.”
Jake waited, his eyebrows raised.
Burt laughed at him and said, “See, I knew you were invested. Word back at the paper is that this was a suicide attempt. But you didn’t hear it from me.”