It's our pleasure to welcome Kathy Bennett to our blog. I've known Kathy for several years through the Crime Scene Writers group. She patiently answered all of the questions writers like me had about police procedure. She is sharing once again, this time her new novel, A Dozen Deadly Roses. If you like this post, kindly leave a comment when you finish reading.
A perfect blend of relationship and chilling suspense. Well done! Christine London, Author of Hog Wild
What Kathy is Saying....
Kathy Bennett says she is no stranger to murder and mayhem. As a twenty-one year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, her authentic crime experience results in arresting stories.
Kathy's career was spent working patrol in a black and white police car. Prior to retirement, she was assigned as a Senior Lead Officer, with approximately five square miles in the San Fernando Valle. Her responsibility was crime and quality of life issues. Kathy also served as a Firearms Instructor at the LAPD Police Academy, a crime analyst in the ‘War Room’, a Field Training Officer, and worked undercover in various assignments. She was named Officer of the Quarter twice, and Officer of the Year once.
She’s married to a Los Angeles Police Officer and they have one daughter and one granddaughter. Kathy has written two romantic suspense manuscripts and is currently revising her third book – a suspense novel. Her first novel, A Dozen Deadly Roses was released in June 2011.
Back Cover Copy:
Los Angeles Police Officer Jade Donovan is being hunted. There’s the lieutenant who’s out to get her, the psycho who’s stalking her and leaving dead roses at her door, but most frightening of all, she’s been assigned to partner with her son’s father, Mac Stryker. Mac doesn’t know he’s Donnie’s dad, and Jade will stop at nothing to prevent him from finding out and possibly taking away her son. She will protect and defend him at all costs.
Mac Stryker is a cop with something to prove. Five years ago, he’d been forced to resign the police department in disgrace when he was too drunk to take action during a shooting. Now, Mac is sober, back on the force and back working with Jade Donovan, the rookie who’d saved his life. Worse, he finds himself attracted to Jade and her precocious son, Donnie. But Mac is through with love. The violent death of his wife and daughter turned him into an alcoholic, and he won’t put his job or his heart at risk again. He will protect and defend them both at all costs.
But when the deadline looms on Jade’s dozen deadly roses stalker, will the two partners manage to put aside their differences in order to save their son?
Excerpt Prologue and Chapter One
The red and blue rotating lights on the police vehicle cast circling shadows in the inky, early-morning darkness of the Los Angeles residential street. In front of the patrol car a battered sedan pulled to the curb.
Probationary officer Jade Donovan dimmed the light bar to a stationary red. Adjusting the spotlight to reflect into the rear view mirror of the violator’s vehicle, she blinded him to the movements inside the police car.
Jade’s partner stirred in his seat, one bleary eye squinting open.
“Whatta ya doin’?”
“He’s got a headlight out.”
“You’re waking me up for a burned out headlight? Christ!”
Mac Stryker pulled himself from his slouched position, glanced at the street signs, gave the dispatcher their location and opened the car door.
Jade approached the left side of the stopped vehicle. Looking in the side mirror, she observed the driver: a young male with a shaved head and block letters tattooed on his neck.
He twisted toward her bringing his right arm to window level. A chrome semi-automatic handgun bucked in his hand as he fired several shots in Jade’s direction.
“Gun! Gun!” Jade yelled, drawing her firearm and returning two shots in quick succession.
The kid’s head snapped back and he slumped across the center console.
Jade pressed the transmit key on her radio. “Officer needs help! Shots fired, Erwin and Whitsett!”
Holding her gun on target, she slowly moved closer to the suspect’s vehicle. The shooter’s super-sized white T-shirt displayed a spreading stain of crimson. A dark divot dimpled the left side of his forehead. His heavily tattooed arms were flung above his head as though anticipating Jade’s next command.
“Let me see your hands!”
The gangster didn’t move. His face presented the slack-muscled tone of a corpse.
Remembering her partner, she glanced to the sidewalk, where academy training had taught her partner should be standing. She saw nothing but empty space. A moment of uncertainty overcame her. Where the hell was Stryker? Had he been shot?
Sirens blared in the distance. Jade held her position, the muzzle of her gun pointed at the suspect. Tires screeched and the odor of burning rubber filled the air. Help had arrived.
The first officers on the scene called to Jade to confirm she was all right. Then they yanked the shooter’s lifeless body from his car and, per Department policy, handcuffed him. Additional arriving officers called for an ambulance.
A baby-faced sergeant placed his hand on Jade’s shoulder. “Officer Donovan, you need to holster your gun.”
Mechanically, Jade obeyed. “I don’t know where my partner is,” she blurted. “I couldn’t see him after the shooting. He may be injured.”
A look of disgust crossed the supervisor’s face.
“He’s fine – for now. We found him sitting on the curb behind your black and white. He smells like a brewery.” The sergeant motioned toward another police vehicle where Jade glimpsed a slumped silhouette – presumably her partner.
“Your first shooting, right?” asked the sergeant.
“The way it works is I take you back to the station where you meet with the shooting team from Force Investigation Division. They’ll take your statement.”
“What about my partner?”
The sergeant shook his head. “Your Training Officer, Mac Stryker, is royally screwed.”
Five years later…
Dear God, not again!
Jade Donovan clenched her fists at the sight of the gold florist’s box leaning against the front door of her apartment. The delivery taunted her, flaunting the fact her skills as a police officer couldn’t help her catch whoever was leaving the boxes.
“Mama got another present. Can I open it?” Jade’s four-year-old son Donnie eagerly stomped up the stairs to the landing outside their apartment.
“No, honey, I’m sorry. This present is for Mommy only.” She hurried to get to the box before her son, struggling to keep fear and dismay from her voice.
Donnie thrust out his lower lip. “I never get to open any presents.”
“Sweetie, don’t pout,” Jade said, grabbing the foil container. She tucked the package under her arm. The thin cardboard lid gapped, and the musty smell of dead roses invaded her nose. Reaching under her sweater, she pulled a nine-millimeter semi-auto handgun from the holster at her waist. She unlocked the door and entered with her son trailing behind. She set the menacing box on the kitchen table. “Stay in the kitchen, Donnie.”
“Why, Mama? Are bad guys here?” The slight tremble in Donnie’s voice tore at her heart.
“Just do as I say.” She glanced at her son and gave him what she hoped was a reassuring smile. “Everything’s okay, but I need you to stay here,” she said softly.
Holding the gun at a low ready, she purposefully advanced through her two-bedroom apartment. She made quick work of the living room, then inched down the hall.
Whipping open the door to the hall closet, Jade jumped a little as garments moved in the resulting draft. No one hid in the depths of jackets and the vacuum. The bathroom was clear and after checking the bedrooms, including under the beds, she was satisfied no one lurked in her home. She exhaled in relief.
But that relief was short-lived. The fact that each delivery contained one less dead rose was terrorizing. What would happen when there were no flowers left? Whoever was leaving the flowers was serious about intimidating her – and it was working. She returned to the front room.
Donnie had shrugged out of his fire engine red jacket and stood at the forbidden carton. Chubby fingers pushed the cardboard sides of the box in an attempt to see inside.
Jade quickly re-holstered the gun and pulled her sweater back over the weapon.
“Donald Tyler Donovan, get away from that box!”
Donnie jumped and his brown eyes filled with tears. “I wanna see inside.”
“I’ve already told you the package is for Mommy. You wouldn’t like it if I opened your birthday or Christmas presents, would you?”
Donnie shook his head solemnly. “But...I always let you see my presents. You never show me what’s in the pretty gold boxes.”
Jade’s heart crumbled at the hurt in his voice. “I’m sorry, Sweetie. I’d show you what’s inside if I could, but it’s a big girl present.”
“Well, I’m a big boy. I’m almost five.”
“I know, Donnie,” she said, bending down and wrapping her arms around him. “You’re growing up, faster than I can believe.”
Her son hugged her back. “Who’s sending you presents, Mama? Is it your birthday?”
“No, honey, it’s not my birthday. I don’t know who’s leaving the boxes at our door.”
She placed the deceiving carton, wrapped with a blood-red bow, on top of the refrigerator. Wondering if the boxes she received were related to what she’d witnessed a week ago, she shuddered. If her boss, a captain of police, were involved with sending the flowers, the implications were intimidating.
Brushing her hands together as if wiping the cardboard container’s ominous presence away, she turned to her son with a sigh and forced a smile. “Now young man, let’s see what we’ve got for dinner.”
Jade knew one thing for sure. No psycho bastard was going to ruin time with her son.
The cops in the Roll Call Room sat silently while Lieutenant Callie Lasko scanned the typed line-up of officers working the day watch. "Stryker, your partner’s gonna be late.” Shaking her head with obvious disgust, she looked at Probationary Police Officer Mac Stryker for a response.
“Set up your car and stand by after Roll Call until she shows up.”
“Roger that, Ma’am!” Mac rolled his eyes. Perfect. Not only was his partner a woman, she apparently couldn’t get to work on time. He’d heard the Los Angeles Police Department had changed since he’d been away - obviously not for the better.
As the lieutenant read aloud off crime bulletins and extra patrol requests, Mac noted problem locations into his Field Officer’s notebook. He heard the scrape of a chair indicating a latecomer had arrived. He hoped it was his partner.
The lieutenant glanced toward the back of the room. “Nice of you to join us today, Donovan.”
“Sorry, Ma’am,” responded a female voice.
Donovan. He couldn’t be that unlucky. Mac hoped like hell his partner wasn’t Jade Donovan. He didn’t dare turn around and look. If partnered with Jade Donovan, he’d have to get out of it somehow.
After Roll Call Training on “search and seizure,” the lieutenant sent the watch on their way with a quick, “Be safe out there.”
Mac stood and tried to sneak a look at the back of the room, but other officers blocked his view. He followed his fellow probationary officers down the stairs and stood in line at the kit room. There they would pick up their patrol car keys, shotguns, Tasers, and radios.
Mac checked out equipment for himself and his partner. Slinging his war bag over his shoulder, he maneuvered his way to the parking lot.
The black and white patrol cars all looked alike. He checked the metal tag on the key ring for the car number and went directly to his assigned vehicle to load the equipment. Conducting the safety check on the shotgun, he grunted in satisfaction at the solid blend of wood and steel. The smell of gun oil and the spotless barrel indicated the gun had been recently cleaned. After loading the weapon, he placed it in the shotgun rack. A quick check of the light bar and siren assured everything was operational.
With his partner still unknown, he got out a Daily Field Activity Report and filled out as much of it as he could. Sighing, he tossed his clipboard onto the passenger seat and locked the vehicle doors, then headed toward the station in search of his training officer.
# # #
“Come in,” Watch Commander, Lieutenant Callie Lasko said. The scent of the lieutenant’s perfume hung heavy in the air, irritating Jade’s nose almost to the point of sneezing.
“You were late to roll call. How do you think that looks to your probationary officer?”
“Lieutenant, I’m sorry for being late, but with all due respect, I can’t work with Mac Stryker. I won’t work with him. Five years ago, he almost got us both killed.” Standing before her supervisor, Jade bit at the inside of her lip, uncomfortable with her rebellion.
Remembering the grilling she’d gotten from the Force Investigation Detectives back then, she was determined not to work again with the drunk who’d made her look like an idiot. They’d sneered at her apparent inability to discern the fact her partner had been drunk the night she’d shot and killed Vinnie Souza. Jade had wanted to shout at them that he was drunk every night, and everybody knew it – that’s why only proficient rookie officers were assigned to him. But, in order to provide for Donnie, her need to complete her probation was greater than her desire to expose her training officer as an alcoholic.
She’d feared the day Stryker might barge back into her life and today he’d done it.
Although the door to the Watch Commander’s office was closed, the walls were mostly glass. The static sound of employees being paged over the P.A. system seeped beneath the door. She wanted to keep this short. She didn’t want anyone to see her speaking in private to the Watch Commander.
Cops were the worst gossips in the world, and Jade didn’t want her co-workers to see her griping about working with Stryker. She didn’t want to be this week’s hot topic, although she was sure tongues were already wagging about her and Stryker being paired. The circumstances of Stryker’s separation from the department would still be fresh in many officers’ minds…even five years later.
Lasko sat behind a wide desk covered with various stacks of papers and folders.
“Donovan, I know it might be awkward, but work with me here. I’m in a bind. You and Luke Cates were the only training officers on day watch without a probationary officer assigned to them. Last night Cates broke his leg in a motorcycle accident, so it’s all on you.”
“Well, stick Stryker with someone else,” Jade snapped, crossing her arms.
Lasko shook her head. “I can’t take a probationer on his first day and put him with a less experienced cop.” The lieutenant swiveled in her chair and interlaced her fingers behind her head. “Besides, people seem to think you’re one of the best training officers in the division. Does a little hard work scare you?”
“Lieutenant, Mac Stryker worked the field for fifteen years. He doesn’t need a training officer. For crying out loud, he used to be a training officer. Put him on the desk or in the kit room.”
A frown appeared between the brows of Callie Lasko’s overly made-up face. “Donovan, don't make things difficult. Work with him today and I’ll see what I can do for the rest of the deployment period.”
“Thank you, and I’m not trying to be difficult,” said Jade. “Actually, I’ve got a bigger problem than Stryker.”
“And what problem would that be?” the lieutenant asked. She unclasped her hands and grabbed a crime report from a tray on her desk and began to read.
Jade wasn’t surprised by Callie’s disrespect and, in fact, welcomed her lack of interest. Jade’s personal life was none of the department’s business, but she was following procedure by notifying a supervisor.
“For about the past week, every day, someone has been sending me a florist box of dead roses.” Jade’s cheeks warmed, and she hated the flush she knew was spreading over her face. For Jade, disclosure of her private life at work was humiliating - especially to Lasko.
The lieutenant frowned and looked up from the report. “Who would do such a thing, and why?”
Jade shrugged. “I have no idea. But it’s hard enough for me to concentrate on my job without being partnered with a drunk.”
A muscle jumped in the Watch Commander’s jaw. “Mac Stryker has gone through physical and psychological evaluation. He’s been deemed fit for duty. I hope you’re not cooking up some story about dead roses to try to get out of working with him.”
“I am not ‘cooking up’ a story. Furthermore, I’m following proper procedure by notifying you of the problem.”
Lasko’s eyebrows rose in surprise, but she didn’t seem upset at Jade’s sharp tone. “And what exactly would you like me to do? Has anything else happened besides getting the roses? I’m assuming you’ve already checked with the florist.”
Jade shook her head. “They’re hand delivered to my apartment.”
The lieutenant waved her hand dismissively. “It’s probably a prank by some cop, or maybe a former boyfriend is getting back at you. Either way, you have a job to do and I expect you to do it. That includes working with Stryker.” Fluffing her peroxide-bleached hair with her hand, she said, “Besides, the guy’s hot. I don’t know why you’re making such a big deal out of being partnered with him.”
“Lieutenant, I’m telling you someone is trying to intimidate me. Don’t you think the situation merits investigation?” Jade knew the lieutenant would discount anything she said.
“Donovan, I’ll tell you what I’d tell any citizen. Leaving dead roses at your door isn’t a crime. In fact, you’re better off than most people because you carry a gun. Let me know if anything serious happens.”
Lasko picked up the report again. “Now get to work. Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes Ma’am,” Jade said evenly.
“Good. Now, go find your partner and hit the street.”
“Roger that,” said Jade, doing an about face, pleased that her plan had worked. Lasko disliked her so much, Jade was certain the lieutenant wouldn’t make any further notifications up the chain of command on the weird flower deliveries. Jade would handle the situation herself. Wanting to live up to the world’s image of an LAPD officer, she was more afraid of appearing weak to her fellow officers than being stalked by some psycho.
Opening the door to leave Lasko’s office, she nearly collided with Mac Stryker. His fist, raised to knock, whipped toward her face. Automatically, she grabbed his wrist before his hand connected with her cheek.
“Nice reflexes,” he said with a wry smile.
“Academy training,” she said matter-of-factly, releasing her grip. The heat of his skin still sent her heart racing. He was so damn good-looking and self-assured. The fact he could turn her life upside-down terrified her.
“It’s good to see you again,” he said. “Are you my training officer?” He gave her a smile worthy of a “B-list” actor on the red carpet, but his tone conveyed he wasn’t happy with the arrangement.
“Yes, she is,” Lasko interjected, “And I want you to tell me if she gives you any problems. Report to me at your end of watch.”
Jade saw a flicker of surprise invade Mac’s eyes. “Yes, Ma’am!”
She needed to get out of this office. There was only so much she was willing to take from Lasko. “Don’t just stand there,” Jade snapped as she strode past Mac. “Let’s get a move on.”
# # #
Her obvious anger pushed Jade’s strides fast and hard. Although a few steps behind, with his long legs, Mac had no trouble keeping up with her. He noticed that since he’d been gone, Jade’s rear end hadn’t gotten a “patrol car spread.” Her sable hair was tightly braided down the back of her head and fastened above the top of her collar. Medium in height, she looked taller in her uniform. She was definitely a fine-looking woman. He wondered if she’d married. If so, she hadn’t changed her last name.
He’d gone to the Watch Commander’s Office to confirm who his Training Officer was, although he had a pretty good idea already. In his gut he knew he was working with Jade Donovan. He couldn’t believe the department would intentionally put them working together. Sure, he’d been to the LAPD shrink and been deemed fit for duty and cleared to be a cop again. But were they right? Or was partnering him with Jade some kind of a test? They’d work together today, but maybe if he pushed some of her buttons, tomorrow their working arrangements would change. He’d have to be subtle, though.
It wasn’t that he had anything against Jade specifically. He just didn’t want a daily reminder of his previous inability to function as a police officer – the day he’d been put to the test and failed.
Lasko’s order to tattle on Jade if she gave him any trouble spoke volumes about how the two women got along. The lieutenant’s request was unprofessional and rude. Besides, Mac had never been a snitch in his life and if he couldn’t handle working with Jade, he didn’t deserve to be back on the job.
Jade turned toward the kit room.
Might as well get her worked up now. “I’ve already checked out the equipment and loaded the car,” Mac said with an innocent tone. “Because you were late to Roll Call, I didn’t have your serial number, or I could have logged onto the MDT.”
She spun around, her gaze blazing into his. “Listen, Stryker. You were a cop for a long time. I know you were a training officer because you trained me. I respect your previous time on the job. But things in this department have changed. It’s my job to see you’re trained the way we do things today. Got it?”
“Oh, loud and clear, Officer Donovan,” said Mac. “Just tell me what’s changed about loading the equipment and doing a vehicle check, and I’ll be sure to do it your way tomorrow.”
And little lady, you’d better lighten up, or I’m not going to be subtle about making your life miserable. He wasn’t any happier than she was about their working arrangement, but he wasn’t going to be her whipping boy for the next ten hours.
Jade took one look at his clenched jaw and narrowed eyes, and knew she’d better de-escalate the situation. Besides, she was taking her anger at Lasko out on Mac, and he didn’t deserve it. He was right. She’d been late to work.
She forced softness into her voice. “Well, nothing’s changed in checking out the car, but they’re calling the in-car computer an MDC: Mobile Digital Computer. You know the Department and their acronyms. The laptop shouldn’t give you any trouble – it’s not that different from the old terminal; just a lot smaller.”
They walked out to the car where she checked his preparations, loaded her equipment into the trunk, and then hit the street.
There had been no question she would drive and he would keep the books. Most probationers didn’t drive for the first two weeks on patrol so they could get a good handle on the computer and broadcasting on the radio. Jade knew Mac wouldn’t need much time at all to get back into the swing of being a patrol officer again. Heck, five years ago he’d been able to handle working in a black and white, even though he was hammered most of the time.
He sure looked better now. He’d lost about twenty pounds. Obviously he worked out with weights, and it showed on his tall frame. His badge gleamed on his uniform shirt where sharp creases enveloped his broad chest. Not an ounce of fat hung over his duty-belt holding his gun, radio, and other equipment.
His dark eyes, which always reminded Jade of caramelized root beer, were now clear and free of the watery redness caused by too much alcohol. His chiseled features were more pronounced, probably due to the weight loss. Robust coloring replaced his former sallow complexion. The fine lines etched around his eyes were payment for his years of hard living. Gray sprinkled the temples of his chestnut hair. Like most men, Mac had become distinguished with age.
She snuck another glance at him. His gaze surveyed his surroundings, just as he’d taught her to do five years ago. This is too weird. Now I’m his training officer. I wonder if he feels awkward, too? She decided to clear the air.
“I think we should discuss the shooting,” she said.
“What’s there to discuss? You were a hero, and I lost my job.”
“And you blame me for that?”
“No. But I don’t want to talk about it either.”
Jade bit her lip in frustration. “That’s just great. I remember how well it worked for you to hold in your feelings a few years ago.”
Her partner didn’t say anything, but instead focused his attention out his window.
Mac’s appearance may have improved over the years but he still solves his problems the same way, Jade thought. He ignores them. The last time he was so shortsighted, it turned him into a drunk. I wonder how long it will be before he crawls back in the bottle.
Then a horrible thought struck her. Now that he was apparently sober, what if he’d remembered the other thing that happened five years ago? What if he’d returned to the LAPD to tear her life apart?
She inhaled sharply as her hands tightened on the steering wheel.
Don’t panic, if he knew anything he’d have pounded on your door a long time ago.
“Okay,” she said, with irritation filling her voice, “if you won’t discuss the shooting, the first thing you need to know is citizens make complaints against cops for absolutely nothing. You wouldn’t believe some of the crazy accusations that are made. Worse yet, Internal Affairs is required to open an investigation. I know some desk officers who got a personnel complaint because a woman alleged the officers had removed one of her kidneys while she talked to them on the phone.”
“You’ve got to be kidding,” Mac said.
Jade shook her head. “I’m not. But with obvious bogus complaints they write the paper, then close it out. Oh, and I.A. is now called PSB, Professional Standards Bureau, but everyone still calls it I.A., except the brass.”
Mac let out a slow whistle. “No wonder morale stinks.”
Jade shrugged. “The police union is working on the disciplinary system, but it takes time.”
Mac pressed buttons on the car computer checking out what each screen was for.
“What a joke,” Mac complained.
Three tones from their radio indicated an emergency call was about to be broadcast. Mac’s heart rate increased, wondering if they’d be assigned the call.
“15A21, 15A21, handle the traffic collision at Whitsett and Vanowen. Vehicle overturned with a person trapped inside.”
Mac keyed the mic. “15A21 roger.”
“Handle the call Code Three,” the dispatcher ordered.
“15A21, roger on the Code Three response.”
Not taking her eyes from the road, Jade reached down and flipped a lever on the center console activating the black and white’s emergency lights and siren.
Sunday traffic, lighter than on a weekday, pulled out of their way. Minutes later they arrived on the scene.
A single car had jumped the curb, flipped and slammed into a telephone pole. Contents from the car were strewn on the ground. The stench of gasoline filled the air.
A woman, bleeding profusely from the head, sobbed while sitting at the side of the road next to the wrecked vehicle. Mac jumped from the black and white and, as he ran toward the overturned luxury sedan, yelled to a male bystander to grab one of the clean disposable diapers that had spilled from the vehicle and place it on the woman’s wound.
“Dexter,” the bloodied woman screamed pointing at the wreckage. “You’ve got to get Dexter! He’s just a baby!”
Jade rushed toward the injured lady and the other citizens milling around. As Mac sprinted to the torn and twisted metal, he heard his partner use her radio to request an ambulance and the fire department for a wash-down of the street.
“I need everyone to move away from the vehicle. It’s leaking fuel,” she ordered.
Blood pounded in Mac’s ears as he dropped to hands and knees to find the child. The car was eerily silent. Looking in the rear of the vehicle he expected to see a child’s car seat. Instead, the compartment appeared empty.
Mac turned back and shouted to the injured woman. “Was he in a car seat? Where was he sitting?” As Mac turned his head to look in the vehicle again, his adrenaline leapt and his heart jumped into over-drive. Smoke coiled from the engine area of the car.
“Jade! Get those people out of here! The car is on fire!”
Jade dropped any pretense of being nice. “I need all of you people to move down to the parking lot at the corner. Do it now!” she barked. The group of on-lookers began to shuffle down the street. She offered her hand to the injured woman. “Ma’am, if you can walk, you need to move away from the car too.”
“I’ll help her, officer,” said the man holding the makeshift bandage to the driver’s head.
“You’ve got to get Dexter,” the woman screamed as Jade turned and ran to help Mac.
Mac, flat on his belly, low crawled into the vehicle. “I don’t see the kid or the car seat anywhere,” he yelled. “Do you think he got thrown clear?”
“Keep looking inside. I’ll check around the car!”
The smoke from smoldering car parts mushroomed. The front of the vehicle was bent around the phone pole like a horseshoe. Mac put out of his mind the thought that his daughter, Ashley, had died in a similar car accident.
“Come on Stryker, focus! You don’t have a lot of time,” he whispered to himself. “Dexter, where are ya, bud?”
There! A small sound. Mac held his breath. Dragging himself on his elbows he crept deeper into the core of the car. The noise came from the front floorboard of the vehicle. Reaching to his equipment belt Mac grabbed his mini flashlight and clicked it on. The bright beam cut into the smoke-filled interior of the car. In anger, Mac punched the dashboard and swore.
# # #
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