HARMFUL INTENT: Murder. Betrayal. Sweet, askance romance, warm intimacy. Sophisticated themes presented tastefully
Betrayal runs in private investigator Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels’ family. So, why is she surprised when her husband of one year cheats on her? The real shock is his murder, with the local lawman pegging her as the prime suspect.
Ronnie Ingels is a Brooklyn bred private investigator who travels to west Texas, where her cheating husband is murdered. As she hunts the killer to clear her name, she becomes the hunted.
Deputy Sergeant Dawson Hughes, a former Army Ranger, is a man folks want on their side. Only he’s not so sure at first, he’s on the meddling New York PI’s side. As the evidence points away from her, he realizes the more she butts in, the more danger she attracts to herself.
From chapter one…
I usually begged off on out-of-town assignments, but with Mark away, I had taken the surveillance on Long Island. So why was my scowl mocking me in the mirror above the bureau? “Okay, he’s always on the road… so just suck it up.”
After disregarding package directions and downing four Extra Strength Excedrin, I picked up the gold-framed wedding photo of Mark and me. There we were, on a glorious spring day, locked in an embrace. Smiling, we gazed into each other’s eyes on the granite steps in front of the arched, red doors of my mother’s church in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. My blond hair was in a French twist adorned with baby’s breath, not the high ponytail I threw it into for work. And, my dream dress… a Battenberg lace sheath with a sweetheart neckline and a flutter train… had transformed me into something elegant.
I did a quick two-step with the photo clutched to my heart. One year later and it felt as if we were still on our honeymoon. If only Mark didn’t travel so much.
I pulled the Glock pistol from my conceal and carry shoulder bag and took the clip out, opened our closet, knelt and retrieved the gun lock-box from the far corner. Time to put the weapons away and morph into my wifey role. I’d make a trip to the supermarket and pick up a couple of steaks to have on hand when Mark came home. Then a stop at Henry Schwartz Tobacconist for Mark’s favorite, a couple of Arturo Fuente Anejo cigars.
I was about to unlock the box when I spied one of Mark’s shirts crumpled in the opposite back corner. It must have fallen off the hanger ’cause Mr. Neat would never have dumped it there.
I snagged it off the floor with the tip of my Glock, gave the garment a good shake, and was about to return it to a hanger when I spotted deep-red lipstick on the collar. My hand trembled. I wore soft pinks or muted pinkish-browns, if I bothered with lip-color at all.
“No.” Deep in the reptilian part of my jaded private investigator’s brain, I knew the signs. I walked stiff-legged toward my bedside lamp and switched it on.
“Can’t be.” I examined the shirt. Definitely lipstick and there was a heavy musky scent as well. Not at all like my signature ocean-breeze cologne. I sniffed again, willing it to smell like my light scent. No such luck!
DEADLY DESIGNS: Fast paced whodunit with international intrigue. Dry humor. Sweet, romance, warm intimacy, sophisticated themes presented tastefully.
Private investigator Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels teams up with Deputy Dawson Hughes to find a geeky radio broadcaster’s missing wife and young daughter. They fear the woman and child were taken by Islamic terrorists as revenge against the husband’s pro-Israel, conspiracy theory broadcasts. The investigation takes Ronnie and Hughes from a manicured Connecticut estate, to interviews with an elitist A-List society crowd, and run-ins with cranky local police detectives. Then they plunge deep into the seamy, drug-riddled underbelly of the fashion world, with the specter of international terrorism hovering.
Hughes has recently been promoted to lieutenant in the Taylor County, Texas Sheriff’s Department. He’s on leave on a special assignment with Authorized Operations (AO), a clandestine, quasi-government agency operating out of a sea-side mansion in Hither Hills, NY. The only thing is, many powerful politicians, and government big-wigs claim Authorized Operations doesn’t exist.
Ronnie is furious at both Hughes and the broadcaster for waiting thirty-six hours to start the search. She knows the longer it takes, the less chance there is of finding the child alive. The problem is, radio talk-show host Ed Harper has been hoping-against-hope that his pot-smoking, model wife is on one of her ‘esoteric experiences’ and has simply taken the child while she romps for a few days. He doesn’t want to seriously consider the other, more hazardous possibility… that his radio broadcasts have angered some very dangerous people.
From Chapter Two
Day One, Friday, Early Afternoon
Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels, Private Detective
What was wrong with Hughes? As a lawman, he had to have known better. He should’ve called in the local police a day and a half ago. What was he thinking? In a missing child case, time was essential, and they’d wasted a whole lot of precious hours.
I chewed off what was left of the pink polish on my thumb nail, gunned my Chevy Cruze Eco, and moved into the left lane on Interstate 95. In a time that now seemed distant, my late husband noted the car’s topaz-blue metallic finish matched my eyes. Of course, he’d been staring into another’s eyes, and I was the last to know about it.
When I resurfaced from my self-depreciating musing, New York State was behind me, and I-95 had become the Connecticut Turnpike. I hit the gas pedal again, but then changed my mind and slowed down. If I got pulled over for speeding that would waste even more time.
After another forty-five minutes, I bore down on the exit for Dunst. Following the instructions of the female voice on my GPS brought me to Main Street of this working-class village. It wasn’t exactly run-down, but could use some renewal in places. But, then, who was I to pass judgment? I lived in Brooklyn where the pigeons were as large as some single-engine planes and the subway rats even larger.
I made a turn onto Pequot Street and three houses later pulled into the driveway of a quaint, gray salt-box house, with miniscule front windows and a tiny garage. I parked behind a black Ford Explorer rental, and a tricked-out Harley Davidson motorcycle.
After grabbing my conceal-and-carry shoulder bag, I got out of the car, and clicked the key fob to lock the doors. When I’m driving long distances it’s more comfortable to have my Glock in a handbag than in a clip-on holster, sticking me in the side mile-after-mile.
I rang the bell and a geeky guy with squarish horn-rimmed glasses opened the door. Dawson Hughes stood several feet behind him.
A shadow passed over the man’s eyes and they narrowed. I couldn’t determine if it was confusion, or guilt and remorse. He took a faltering step back. “Um, come in, won’t you?”
I did, and marched directly to Hughes. “We’re thirty-six hours into a missing child case. Why haven’t the police been called?”
BLOOD SPEAKS: Taut, compelling detective story with a clandestine twist. Dry humor. Sweet love story warm intimacy, sophisticated themes presented tastefully.
The inn’s wake-up call jostled me out of a dream where Dawson kissed me at the altar. The insistent ringing was not at all welcome. I wanted to linger in the dream, remaining in Dawson’s arms.
With eyes shut tight, I clutched the bedclothes to my chest. The phone continued harping at me. Reluctantly, I kicked the bedding away and swung my feet off the bed. I sat there a moment, opened my eyes and allowed them to focus, then grabbed the receiver.
Realizing it was an automated call, I hung up and stomped all the way to the bathroom fussing under my breath. “The least they could do was have a cheerful, live human make the wake up calls.” Okay, that demand was silly. I was beginning to sound like Mrs. Mitchell.
It didn’t take long for my stomach to start talking to me about breakfast. I threw on my robe, marched into the living room/dinette, and knocked on both of my roommates’ doors. They gave me the expected grumbles and assurances they were getting up.
We quickly showered and dressed, wanting to get to breakfast early enough so we could make it to the Commemoration Ceremony. We’d all decided to wear jeans and flannel shirts. Sandra and Bertha slipped into leather work boots sewn so tightly they were waterproof. I laced up my Gore-Tex hiking boots. We threw on outerwear and were good to go.
As I pulled the door closed, my stomach rumbled. “I’m so hungry I could…”
“I know…eat a bear.” Bertha laughed. “Dawson told me he always finished that sentence for you. I thought I’d do it for him in his absence.”
“That’s cute.” Sandra sighed, and a dreamy countenance overtook the exotic brunette’s almond shaped eyes.
“What won’t be cute is me if I don’t get some food.” I trotted ahead, then abruptly came to a stop. If my years in law enforcement didn’t persuade me the reddish-brown drops on the sidewalk were blood, the man’s snow boots protruding at an awkward angle from behind an evergreen shrub did. I turned back to my companions. “Someone’s hurt. Call 911.”
I hurried around the shrub with Sandra right behind me. Bertha made the call.
Coagulated blood clung to the edges of the cap covering the man’s head. Not good. Although his face was buried in the snow, because of his size, I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I gently turned his head to the side so I could make sure his air passages were clear, but it was obvious there was no need. I checked for a pulse anyway and shook my head.
“George Delman,” Sandra said.
“I called for help.” Bertha caught up to us and looked down at the body. “Oh, my. Oh, no.”
“I’ll go to the front desk and let them know.” Sandra hurried away.
“How could this happen?” Bertha covered her mouth with her hand.
I could think of two individuals who didn’t care much for him: Congressman Marvin Mitchell and Loretta Lawrence. Maybe there were others. We really knew very little about this man, except he had poor social skills. If that was reason enough to murder, I’d have been six-feet under long ago.