Sunday, March 12, 2017

Tea Time Excerpt: Murder Off the Books

Each Sunday in the new year we've been running book excerpts with matching tea. For today's Tea Time Excerpt, we have Evelyn David's Murder Off the Books. 

Here's a description of the book:

A retired Irish cop and a fast-food loving Irish Wolfhound search for the campus murderer while dealing with a scooter-riding senior citizen with dreams of trench coat adventures, a crazed exterminator looking for his ride, and a makeup artist whose mid-life crisis isn't any the less stressful because her clients never complain.

A half-million dollars has vanished and a college comptroller is dead. Mackenzie Sullivan, recently retired DC cop and newly-minted private detective, really has no interest in the murder. Mac just needs to find the embezzled money for the university's insurer. Finding the killer is a bonus
he's not sure he wants to earn.

Since Mac is a bit stressed out, we thought herbal tea would go best with this excerpt.

And now for the excerpt...


Friday Night
The sound of a human head cracking against rock was surprisingly loud. As the man fell against the wall of the clock tower, the killer unscrewed the silencer from the gun, musing about the number of details involved in planning and executing a perfect murder. And this was certainly not a perfect murder. Several loose ends were going to need to be tied. Next time a list might come in handy.


Sunday Night
Murder victims shouldn't have to wait. Discount store shoppers, people with broken dental crowns, drivers in the middle of rush hour. Those people deserved to wait. Expected to wait. But not....
She was tired of being last on everyone's 'to do' list.
Ten minutes. Way too long to be hiding in a closet. Way too long to be in the dark.
She really couldn't stand cowering in the dark. If she was going to cower, she'd do it in the light–just like always.
She clicked on the flashlight she'd grabbed in her frantic dash from the bed to the walk-in closet.
Much better.
The light was comforting. The light was… the light was…risky.
She hastily clicked off the beam and disappeared back into the shadows.
She left the closet door ajar. It was like everything else in her life–slightly warped. Once fully closed, it couldn't be opened from the inside. She'd be stuck in there until…until what? Who'd rescue her?
She wished again that she hadn't left her cordless phone downstairs.
She wasn't going to be able to run.
Her right foot was numb.
Rachel Brenner shifted, stretching out one bare leg, quietly trying to move her foot, thinking that at some point she might need to slip down into the living room and search for her second cordless phone, the one that fit into the charger on the kitchen wall and had been missing for a couple of days. It was probably under the sofa or between the cushions. That's where she'd look first–if she had time.
"Enough," she whispered. "Concentrate on something besides the damn phones."
Dust. The closet floor was cramped–and dusty. Stifling a sneeze, she decided she had some serious cleaning to do if she survived. If she didn't, well it would be someone else's problem.
She wiggled her toes until the feeling returned and then rose to her feet intending to open the closet door and listen.
Two steps. Her heart pounded so loud that she couldn't think, much less hear.
Looking around, she grabbed a twenty-year-old trench coat that had belonged to her ex-husband and rolled it into a ball. She pressed the material against her chest to muffle the sound.
Stupid. No one else could hear her heart. No one else could hear her. The coat's owner hadn't.
Thoughts of Charlie cleared the noise from her head.
She peeked through the crack in the door. And listened.
Nothing but the furnace and the sound of her own ragged breathing.
She held her breath and opened the door a little wider.
Nothing. She didn't hear....
No. There was something. Something…just…there. A shuffling sound–still downstairs.
Rachel carefully closed the closet door again and returned to her spot on the floor, this time sitting on the bunched trench coat, instead of hiding behind it.
She hugged her knees to her chest and stared at the bits and pieces surrounding her and wondered what would happen to all of her things when she was gone.
Sam would be the one to have to deal with selling or giving away her lifetime accumulation of clothes, costume jewelry, and mismatched china and silverware. Oh, he'd probably keep a few things. He might want some of the old family photographs she'd organized into albums. Thank goodness she'd gotten them labeled last year during one long, miserable night right after her divorce was final. At least Sam would be able to tell his children about her side of the family and put the correct name to the face.
Her brother wouldn't be of much help. Dan had his own problems. He was settling into a new job and a new life. She sighed and stretched out her legs. Rachel nudged a shadow in the corner with her toe. It was a well-used hockey stick–another remnant of her ex-husband's, something from his glory days.
She flicked on the flashlight again and played the wavering beam over the clothes, empty suitcases, and shoes. God, she had too many shoes. She glanced at the row upon row of neatly labeled shoeboxes lining the shelf above the clothes rod, and the additional stacks on the carpeted floor beneath. Setting down the flashlight, she picked up a nearby box and peeked inside.
Beautiful black leather pumps, $89 on sale. Never worn. She glanced in another box. All were purchased within the last two years and she'd never worn any of them. Her well-worn favorites were in a heap by her bed: Nikes, Reeboks, high-topped, brightly colored basketball shoes. The pumps, well, they were mostly just....
Rachel set down the box. They were a mistake. They were her way of trying to be more like the women Charlie Brenner had been screwing the last three years of their marriage. She frowned and put the lid back on the box. Like the woman Charlie was living with now. Tina of the perky breasts and four-inch heels.
Tina would love all those shoes. Charlie would probably give them to her too, Rachel realized. Help out Sam by taking them off his hands. Her shoes on Tina's feet. No way.
The spurt of anger and the loud sound of a closing door gave her the courage to act.
Rachel got up and grabbed a pair of sweat pants off a hanger and pulled them on. Picking up the hockey stick, she stalked out of the closet.

Tina could buy her own damn shoes.

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