Here we go . . .
If today’s your first day at the blog, we’re celebrating tomorrow’s release of my fourth novel in the Monastery Valley series, Standing Our Ground. I’ve been sharing the opening scenes to give you a taste of the book. If you want to review scenes 1 & 2, they’re available in the previous two days’ posts.
You met Deputy Andi Pelton in scene 1, where she’s notified of “shots fired” in town. In scene 2, you watched Andi’s “step-girlfriend,” Grace Northrup (Ed’s adopted daughter), packing to leave for her first year of college. You saw a bit of Ed’s and Grace’s relationship. But now it’s time to meet the shooter. Here’s scene 3 from Standing Our Ground:
Andi pulled up at 206 East Cedar Street, lights flashing, siren screaming. Xavier’s squad sailed around the corner just behind. As her tires screeched, braking in front of the darkened house, she switched off her siren. Xavier pulled up fast, his own tires squealing. His siren died. Both flashers stayed on, spraying red and blue lights around the dark neighborhood. Scanning the shadows, she made sure her body armor was secure and, cautiously opening her door, stood behind it. Jefferson had never put streetlights in its neighborhoods, but the flashing lights illuminated a figure in the deep shadows near the house. No lights inside. She drew her weapon as Xavier climbed out of his squad, staying behind his door, gun drawn.
“Identify yourself,” she demanded of the shadowed figure.
Raising its hands to shoulder height, then higher, the figure replied, “I’m Daniel Essex.” His voice carried on the cooling air. “This is my home.”
“Did you hear shots?”
“Of course. I fired them.”
What the hell? she thought.
“Mr. Essex, I want you to keep your hands where they are. I’m going to approach, and my weapon is drawn. I will not shoot unless you move suddenly. My partner will come toward you from the side. Are you good with that?”
“Sure, Officers. Come on.”
She glanced at Xav. He nodded and moved off to the side, flanking her.
As she approached Daniel Essex, she said, “Are you alone?”
Coming closer, her eyes adjusted to the dark, and the red-and-blue flashes from the squad cars showed a bulge at Essex’s hip. “Mr. Essex, are you armed?”
“Of course, Officer.” He started to lower his hands.
“Freeze, sir.” Oh, man. Don’t make me shoot. She was ten feet from him. A few feet to her left and a bit behind, Xavier had his weapon trained on Daniel Essex, but that didn’t slow her racing heart. Essex froze, hands high.
“Sir, please turn around slowly, keeping your hands in the air. Don’t do anything fast.”
“Sure. Whatever you say, Officer.” His tone was cool, almost friendly. When he turned, Andi approached, saying, “I’m going to disarm you, so please be still.” She patted him down, found the gun, and took it. She stepped back. “Do you have any other weapons on your person, sir?”
“Just that one.” His voice sounded less friendly. “And I want it back.”
She moved a step back, holding out the weapon grip-first to Xavier, who took custody of it. “One thing at a time, sir,” she said. “You’ll get it back once we straighten all this out.” Which could be a long time. “You can turn around, but please don’t make any sudden moves.”
“I won’t hurt you, Officer.”
“Glad to hear it. And please, call me ‘deputy.’” The guy must be new to the valley, she thought. Doesn’t know we’re deputies, not officers. “Sir, you fired the shots a few moments ago?”
“Like I said, yes.”
Andi noted that his voice remained friendly, but his words were clipped, exact.
“Why did you fire, sir?”
He pointed toward the open garage. “He’s in there.”
“The intruder who invaded my home. I stopped him.”
Andi’s chest tightened. She said, “Is he all right?”
“I doubt it, Officer. I’m a good shot.”
She moved toward the open garage. “Mr. Essex, Deputy Contrerez will wait with you while I look in the garage.”
When Essex nodded, she glanced at Xavier. He nodded. “Go.”
She holstered her weapon and moved toward the garage.
She heard Essex say to Xavier, “Contrerez? Name like that, you must be Mexican.” He no longer sounded friendly.She smiled faintly as she heard Xavier say, politely, “No, sir. Born and raised in Billings.”
Did you like it?
I would deeply appreciate your letting me know your thoughts about these scenes. I realize that reading them on a blog is not the same as sitting in a comfortable chair and opening a new novel with the anticipation that fiction lovers feel as they begin. But perhaps you have some response–positive or negative–that can help me improve my writing for book 5 of the series.
You read that right: There’s a book 5 in the works! Meanwhile, I’ll be exploring, in this blog, some of the challenges in writing a psychologist as the protagonist. There are plenty! Hope to see you back here soon . ..