Release date is still set for October 1 for Kindle and Paperback.
To share the love, here's the prologue to the story... Enjoy! And if you like it, go preorder your Kindle version on AMAZON
Saturday, October 12
Somewhere along Route 6, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
The speeding car slowed its pace a fraction allowing the back door to push open. She tumbled into the darkness, her body weightless as it flew through the pitch-black, down into the shallow ravine. Luckily, she landed on something that cushioned her fall. Not that it’s ever lucky to be thrown from a moving vehicle in the middle of nowhere.
But still, she thought. It’s the little things.
Surprisingly, she didn’t feel any physical pain… Just dazed. Disoriented. She put a hand to her forehead, trying to remember why she’d been in the car in the first place. Nothing. No memory of why she’d been in the backseat or who drove the car that was now red tail lights fading in the distance.
The last thing she remembered clearly was leaving her lawyer’s office, phone to her ear talking with… someone. Arguing, but she couldn’t remember about what. Another gap in her memory. She felt restless, as if she needed to be somewhere else right this minute, but at the same time she had no idea where that “else” might be. Or why she needed to hurry.
She put her hands down on the grass and attempted to stand but her body felt strange. Her legs didn’t want to respond. “Not surprising, given the circumstances.” Her voice sounded small and hollow, like it was afraid to echo into the surrounding darkness.
Cars and trucks whizzed along the two lane road several feet from where she was, headlights offering enough ambient light for her to make out the surroundings. Finally, she convinced her legs to try again and stood on the grassy bank to look around. Tall trees fenced in both sides of the road, with no billboards or storefronts or houses or signs of any kind to help her know where she was or even what state she was in. A line of those three foot yellow road dividers rose from the middle of the road to keep the traffic going each way separate from the other. Something about it seemed familiar, but she couldn’t quite put a finger on why.
She looked down at the large black trash bag near her feet, the one that saved her from even more pain. A small rip in the thick plastic revealed a few fingers, their chipped nail polish nearly obscured by dried blood.
She covered her mouth, suppressing an involuntary scream as she backed away several steps. Her knees buckled and she sank to the ground, unable to tear her eyes from what she now knew was a body. A woman’s body. Who was she? Why was she here by the side of the road like so much garbage? She lowered her head into her hands, the sadness devastating but no tears came. She’d witnessed so much tragedy in recent years that she couldn’t say she was truly shocked to find an abandoned corpse by the side of the road.
But the idea of someone getting away with murder weighed on her.
When she looked up again, the rising sun brightened the sky and her outlook. She gazed up at the nearly cloudless expanse, vowing to seek justice for the dead woman lying so close to her. But first she needed to find help for herself. Funny that she didn’t have her cell phone in her pocket; she never went anywhere without it. She rose slowly to her feet and thought about flagging down one of those cars zooming by. Would anyone stop?
An oversized white van pulled off the highway onto the grass, coasting to a stop several yards from where she stood. Yellowish lights flashed on its roof, giving it the semi-official look preferred by most highway departments. The side door slid open and several passengers jumped out into the grass, all wearing matching orange jumpsuits and reflective neon vests. The men carried trash bags and pointed sticks. A state trooper with a sharp-edged hat emerged from the front seat of the van and stood watching as the jump-suited men slowly shuffled through the grass.
“Barnstable County Correctional Facility,” she read from the side of the van. Now the familiar-looking yellow dividers made more sense. She must be on Cape Cod, on the infamously narrow stretch of Route 6 known as “Suicide Alley.” She’d been here before. Well, she’d driven down Route 6 in the past. She never sat on the grassy side of the road with a corpse before.
She raised her arm to wave down the trooper and his charges, but no one seemed to notice her. Perhaps the prisoners were instructed not to interact with motorists? One of the guys headed her way, walking straight toward the black trash bag. He must see me, she reasoned. He looked right at her. And then he focused on the trash bag at her feet.
Taking a few steps closer to the bag, she wondered how to explain why she was here by the side of the road with a dead body, something even she didn’t understand. The sunlight reflected on gathered dew, the bag holding the body shining like a treasure. Wait until he discovers what the treasure is, she thought, grimacing. And what happens to me? Will I be joining them in lockup? She shuddered, thinking of the complicated circumstantial evidence. She’d been in court enough times to know situations like this were hard to explain away.
Wait, why am I familiar with lockup and courtrooms? Am I some kind of criminal? Something tickled her mind, but she couldn’t quite grasp the thought. Just tell the truth, she told herself, taking a deep breath. What’s the worst that can happen?
“Hey,” she said as the skinny man in the orange jumpsuit approached. “I know this is strange, me being here without a car and all. Someone dumped me here, believe it or not. The same way they dumped her.” She pointed to the bag.
He stopped short, his eyes riveted by the fingers poking from the hole. Thrusting his pointy stick deep into the grass, he turned away from the body. “Marvin! Bubba! Get the trooper. We got a problem.” He turned back toward her. “Now who’ve we got here?” His beady eyes focused on the trash bag.
“I really don’t know,” she admitted, following his gaze. “It’s a crime scene, though, so don’t touch anything.”
“I’d better not touch anything,” he agreed, nodding his head along with his words. “Don’t need no fingerprints of mine complicating things.”
She looked up to see the trooper and several other convicts in bright orange running toward them. She sighed with a kind of relief, feeling as if some burden had been lifted. She’d been found. She could go home. Even if she didn’t quite remember where home was.
“What’ve you got there?” The trooper’s voice sounded deep and gravelly, as if he wasn’t fully awake. “What’s all this commotion about?”
“Officer, there’s a dead woman in… ” she started, but the convict spoke over her.
“Saw this bag by the side of the road. Saw them fingers poking out.” He yanked his trash-collecting stick from the ground and used it to point at the tear in the bag. “I ain’t touched nothing,” he added.
“Everybody back to the van. Now.” The trooper’s deep, commanding voice brooked no arguments, and the crew turned as one to head back to the vehicle. He unclipped the radio from his belt. “Griff, I’m sending them all back to you.”
“It hasn’t even been ten minutes,” complained his partner. “What’s going on, Jack?”
“Looks like murder. Better call in the local cops for back-up.” Jack returned the radio to his belt, and slowly circled the bag, still refusing to acknowledge the woman standing next to him.
“Excuse me?” she asked, confused that he was ignoring her. As far as he knew, she could be the murderer, or at least an eyewitness. “Don’t you want to ask me anything?”
“What happened here?” His voice was low, not much more than a growl.
“I’m not really sure,” she started, realizing that her lack of answers would definitely make her sound guilty. “One minute I was on my phone, and the next thing I know I’m being thrown out of a speeding car.” She paused. “I remember bumping into someone on the sidewalk, and feeling like I was stung by a bee. Then, nothing until I woke up here.”
The trooper didn’t comment on her story. Instead, he kept looking at the bag and asked, “Who are you?”
That stopped her short. “I… I don’t remember,” she said, starting to panic. Why couldn’t she remember her own name? She felt light-headed as she wracked her brain to answer what should be a simple question. The sun was much brighter now, higher in the sky. She looked up at it and felt a tremor run through her. “I need to sit down,” she said and sank down into the rough-mown grass.
The radio crackled with static. “Jack?”
He unclipped the two-way and spoke. “Is back-up on the way, Griff?”
“E.T.A. seven minutes,” Griff answered. “The crew’s getting restless in the van.”
“There’s a dead woman here,” Jack snapped. “Let them sit. Tell ‘em it’s better than picking up garbage.”
“I think they’re worried this might reflect on them somehow.”
Jack grunted. “Reassure them. None of them are suspects.”
As she listened to the troopers talk, she closed her eyes. When she opened them again, the area was swarming with uniformed men and women, both state troopers and local police officers. “I must have dozed off,” she said out loud to no one in particular. No one seemed to be paying any attention to her, which she found curious. She was in the middle of a crime scene. How could they not notice her?
She stood and walked toward the man giving orders to the other troopers whom she recognized as the original guy on the scene. Jack. He was tall, with dark hair and piercing blue eyes, now that he’d taken off the mirrored shades. “Tell Griff to take those prisoners back. There won’t be any more trash picking today. I’ll get a ride with one of you guys.”
She raised a hand to shade her eyes from the glare. “Excuse me, officer? I’m the one who found the body...” Her voice trailed off as she watched the body turn in her direction when they lifted it.
Her own face stared back at her, brown eyes open but sightless.
“It’s me?” she whispered, unable to look away. “How can it be me? I’m not…” she looked back at Jack, still giving orders, and stepped directly in front of him, inches from his face. “Can’t you see me? Am I really dead?” She reached out to touch his arm, but he turned his back to speak with someone else.
“No ID on her,” one of the local cops said. “No purse or wallet in the bag either. Simmons thinks she was thrown from a car at high speed, but he says it’s hard to tell since the prison gang got here first.”
“The bag was torn,” Jack reminded him. “I want the officers checking the area thoroughly in case her wallet or phone slipped out.”
“Okay, MacDonald, we’ve got it from here.” Two older men in dark suits stepped in front of Jack. “Let the real detectives take over.”
“Pretty girl,” one of them said, staring at her body. “What a waste. Another junkie on the trash heap of life.”
She watched Jack’s whole body go rigid. “Sir, I don’t think she’s your average drug overdose. If you look at the clothes she’s wearing…”
“So she’s a well-dressed junkie,” the detective said with a smirk. “She’s still dead, isn’t she?”
“I’m dead?” she asked again, on the verge of tears. “That can’t be right. Can someone please explain this to me?”
The law enforcement personnel swirled around her body, unable to comfort the ghost they couldn’t see or hear.
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