“The Burning Spiral” – E.A. Petrick – coming soon from Ellora’s Cave.
Plot Premise: On a cold April morning, a suburban commuter stumbles over a body in an empty stretch of land used as a parking lot in one of Chicago’s small suburbs, Park Ridge. Detective sergeant Caroline Osych of CPD must deal with the difficult strange case at the worst possible time in her life. She’s struggling to regain visitation rights to her children, taken away by her manipulative ex-husband, she’s broke and has no idea how to start dating again because she spent the last fifteen years raising a family and using her job as a stepping stone for her husband’s political ambitions. However, the bizarre murders investigation brings into her life the least likely man she’d have thought of as a new partner. Ben Lejeune is a career soldier, a widower with two teenaged sons alienated from him since their mother’s death.
Caroline slowly realizes that the fate of her children – those
living with her ex and those yet to be born – rests in her hands
because the murder of the young Park Ridge commuter connects her to a brilliant criminal who won’t or can’t reveal himself, and that
she will kill her existing family and the father of her unborn child, if
she doesn’t figure out the fiendish plan and stops him.
EXCERPT – The Burning Spiral
I should have jumped back into the bathroom for my gun the moment it registered that I wasn’t alone but I froze – in mind and body.
“I’m sorry about what I said back in the parking lot. I didn’t mean to be so harsh. Where did you go? Are you all right?” Lejeune kept moistening his lips with the tip of his tongue as he spoke,
hands moving in uncertain circles. It was just after six a.m., and
though he probably went to work even earlier, he couldn’t have been on his way to the lab now. He wore a blue windbreaker over a white t-shirt and jeans, not exactly executive attire, and definitely not his uniform.
I started to raise my hand in a preamble to speaking, and realized that while this motel provided towels, these were not bath-size. Any significant hand motion would see the towel, barely wrapped around me, fly off.
“It’s Monday morning, and I’m wearing a dish cloth. Do I look all right?” I managed to inject a hint of fury into my voice.
“It suits you.” His mouth moved from side to side.
I growled and shook my head, but even that slight motion upset the inadequate strip of cotton. I had to grab it at the top. I tried to pull it around me as tightly as it would go, and without
looking at him walked carefully, on tiptoes, over to the bed where I had left my clothes. I should have run, because tiptoeing gave him time to block my path.
“Get out of here, Lejeune, and leave me alone,” I mumbled, leaning to the side to see whether I could reach my shirt with one hand, while the other had to keep on holding that large bandage. The moment I
stretched my hand to sneak around him, his arm sprang to block it, like a wall. I was leaning to the side. Had he not grabbed me with his other hand, I would have toppled forward onto the bed.
I’m not sure what happened after that, but steadying me on my feet was not his only aim. Had it been, he would not have needed to put his arms around me, holding so tight I was practically wearing his windbreaker.
“I’m sorry,” he murmured and didn’t give me a chance to say that I was in no mood for apology. My hands were trapped against his chest. To free them meant I would have to struggle, and then the towel would slide off for sure. By now I had more to worry about than just the towel. It was uncomfortable to keep my tightly balled fists against his chest when he kissed me, so I unclenched my hands and slid them – upwards and around his neck. I told myself it was the only place they could go. By the time there were other places for my hands to settle upon, it was too late to run.
This time the ground didn’t just spin under my feet but disappeared altogether. And while my mind was in freefall, when it landed back in my body, there was another hard, muscular presence with a mind of its own, challenging my mental faculties. I had no idea how he managed to take off his clothes, because he never stopped kissing me, but by the time our bodies settled on the bouncy bed, neither wore anything, not even a shadow.
“Caroline….” he whispered when his mouth parted slightly from mine.
“Another apology?” I moaned and let my hands briefly rest on his shoulders, then moved them under and down along his sides, and upward until I held him as I couldn’t remember holding a man in a very long time.
“A different kind this time,” his hot breath scorched my cheek and then it was back to the challenge. He gave my mouth space to make sounds that were neither pure pain nor pure pleasure but a burning mixture of both. I think what flashed through my body in that first
minute when he started to make love to me was fear. However, it was the kind of dread that’s mixed with anticipation and pleasure. I don’t think I had relaxed at any point when our bodies and mouths waged war, but the tension didn’t diminish the passion. I expected some thoughts to arrive; the type that would make me question everything I was doing, but strangely enough, none came. By the time the twisted urgency, that kept tying my stomach into knots, exploded and vaporized the rest of me for all I knew, nothing could have found root in my totally empty, relaxed mind. He rested his forehead against my temple and started to plant exhausted kisses on my ear and cheek then moved down the side of my neck.
“I wish there were another one of you to do that to my other side,” I craved that kind of balance.