So I’ve been working away on the next Kate Jones thriller, and wanted to try something new and give y’all a taste of what’s coming. As of yet I don’t have a title or a cover, although I’m working on the first, and Deranged Doctor Designs is doing the latter. Since it’s from the first draft, it’s possible that this scene won’t survive the editing knife, but I thought I’d post anyway to see what you guys thought. Comments and/or suggestions are welcome 🙂
One more thing: CARGO, the 4th Leine Basso thriller, is free through Monday. Here’s a link to the book’s page on my website where you can get the details: http://dvberkom.com/book/cargo-leine-basso-crime-thriller-4/ Enjoy!
EXCERPT from the next KATE JONES thriller:
I stood in the dark hallway, going over what Angie had taught me. The knife blade had heft, a last-minute gift from my mentor. I knew all the moves, had practiced them with relentless determination, unwilling to make a mistake when I did the deed.
Committed the act.
Went off the rails.
What are you doing, Kate? Whispers from my good girl-self, long-buried all these years, echoed through my head.
Shut up and let me do what needs to be done. I’ll deal with the fallout later.
But isn’t that how you’ve always done things? Act first, ask questions later?
This is different.
Be quiet. I’m in no mood to argue.
Angie had delivered her last lesson that morning. The memory came galloping back with a force that was difficult to comprehend.
I’d been lucky to survive.
My gaze cut to my right arm, as though I could see through the darkness and under the bandage, at the angry red wound it covered.
Angie didn’t dick around. I asked her to help me, had been shocked when she agreed.
I shouldn’t have been surprised. Money dictated her loyalties. With no current contract connected to my death, she couldn’t have cared less if I was standing in front of her at point-blank range, handing her a gun.
In her world, Kate Jones had ceased to exist.
But wave a bundle of crisp, hundred-dollar bills at her? Why, yes ma’am, what can I do for you this fine summer evening? Her southern red-head turned so fast, I was afraid she’d get whiplash.
A relief, really. After all those years of running, of looking over my shoulder, waiting for Angie or one of the others to strike.
One minute I’m scanning restaurants and street corners for suspicious activity, and the next, nothing. Nada.
From what I understand, it’s a lot like giving up smoking. All of a sudden, you have so much extra time on your hands. You’re at a loss, really.
And so it is with normal life. No more running. No more death threats.
No more fear.
But then again, there’s all that muscle memory. The fight-or-flight response that’s hardwired into our brains.
Kind of like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Maybe exactly like PTSD.
What else would explain my over-the-top reaction to, say, a book falling to the floor? Or a backfiring car? Or my obsessive situational awareness? Put me in a room and I instinctively move away from windows to the best vantage point in the space, eyes on the exits and back to a solid wall, checking out every person present, wondering if they’re a threat.
That’s no way to live when no one’s trying to kill you.
The bedroom door opened, and I moved deeper into the shadows. Soft footsteps padded along the corridor to the bathroom. The silhouette confirmed my suspicions.
It was time.
My good girl had evidently left the building, her recriminating voice finally silenced.
I crept toward the bathroom, my feet whispering silently along the polished wood floor. I was glad I’d used the disposable booties like Angie suggested. Not only did they reduce evidence left behind by my sneakers, but they silenced my footsteps as well as if I’d worn only socks.
What if Sam finds out?
There she was again.
I thought you left. Good girls need their sleep, right?
Not gonna happen, Kate. You know me. I’m tenacious.
Yeah, probably because of that damned “Minnesota Nice” I could never quite lose. There’s something to be said for growing up in the Midwest, although I can’t remember what. Polite is my default—even when I’m up to my neck in it and can’t see daylight.
It does have its uses.
Kind of like Angie’s southern charm. She may be a paid assassin, but she’ll give you a sweet smile as she pulls the trigger.
Or knifes you in the back.
The idea of Sam finding out that this was my doing gave me pause. A cop-turned-private I, Sam Akiaq was a long-distance runner, martial arts master, and the most accurate marksman I’d ever met. He was also an enigma, as he lived by a spiritual code I couldn’t begin to understand. It most likely had something to do with his Native Alaskan heritage. Either that, or it was all a ruse to get me into bed.
If so, it worked.
Being involved with a private investigator was the reason I crouched in the dark hallway of a remodeled Craftsman in a funky Seattle neighborhood, holding a wicked-looking knife and about to commit an act that badly needed to be committed. Although, if you asked Sam, he’d never believe I was capable of going through with it.
Me either. Except…
At the familiar sound of a flushing toilet I snapped back to the present and sprinted along the hallway to the open bedroom door. I’d surveilled the house long enough to know that my target didn’t do sleepovers, and that no one else was inside.
At least not tonight.
My sister Lisa’s face sprang unbidden into my mind. My cheeks flushed warm and my respiration increased, tightening my chest and giving rise to a mini-panic attack. I took a deep breath and slowly released it, just like Angie taught me to do, and the bands around my chest loosened. The assassin’s ability to remain calm under pressure still astonished me, although I don’t know why. She was a stone-cold killer with the personality to match.
You shouldn’t be here. Go home to Sam, now.
Ignoring the good girl and wondering where the hell my bad girl had gone—because I really could have used her at that moment—I crossed the room, skirted the queen size bed, and slipped inside the closet, leaving the door cracked open while I waited. The smell of cedar laced the air as I kicked a pair of shoes out of the way.
The bathroom door creaked open, followed by the sound of feet scuffling into the bedroom. I gripped the hilt of the knife and waited as the occupant kicked off their slippers and sat down heavily on the bed. The sound of covers being thrown back and a faint sigh as they settled in told me it was time.
Knife in my right hand, I stepped into the room.