In my last blog post, I mentioned that I’ve spent the last 2 years rewriting and revising Interview. I hope I’ve made April’s story a better read. I’d love to have beta readers. I didn’t bother asking for Beta- reader’s last time and I’ve regretted it since. I’ve also regretted not having a development editor. The editor I used only did proofreading and was 2 months late. Live and learn, I guess.
I’ll post the first 3 chapters here and turn comments back on, but I’d rather you signed up for the newsletter. I get a ton of spam comments on here. I rarely send out a newsletter like I rarely put out a blog post.
Chapter 1 New & Hopefully Improved
The corpse of Eden Bateman
The girl in the dumpster wasn’t exactly as cold as a corpse. She wasn’t exactly human either. No matter how much I try, I just can’t escape the dead. Maybe I shouldn’t have chosen a career with the police.
“God, what a smell,” Kris said. Special Agent Kris Anderson was handsome, looked like he was eighteen and had short black hair with an easy, inviting smile. His expertise was interviewing suspects. We’ve worked together on several cases in the past.
You have no idea. There are two reasons I’m not a homicide detective. A werewolf’s sense of smell is overwhelming when it comes to decay. I was also born with a magical talent to communicate with spirits, and I’m afraid of them.
Hidden behind the stench of death was the faintest hint of burnt plastic.
“Evening Val,” I said. Dr. Valerie Stuart, the forensic pathologist, crouched down to begin the preliminary examination of the body. She glanced in my direction and gave me a curt nod. She inserted a digital thermometer into the liver and examined her, starting with the top of her head.
Val was an African American woman in her mid-fifties. Her short curly chocolate hair was silvering, or maybe she was due for a color. She usually wore scrubs that hid some of her curves and plain black slip-resistant shoes common among hospital staff. She wore pale yellow disposable coveralls that didn’t exactly bring any cheer to the gloomy night.
Detective Paul Johnson, with the Forensics Investigation, or as I like to call them, F squad, stood by her side, writing as she spoke. NYPD has detectives with special training in forensics who take care of the crime scenes. He was at most thirty. He had olive skin with close cropped dark brown hair, deep-set eyes, full lips and towered over most of the crew. Only Sergeant Graham equaled him in stature.
Val watched as Paul and another detective carefully opened the two contractor bags while the rest of us observed.
The dead girl would have been stunning if she was still alive. She was a Caucasian female with short platinum blonde hair that looked natural. She wore skinny blue jeans with black ankle boots and a purple down-filled coat over a black chenille sweater.
Her swollen tongue was purple and protruded past a split lip. Her belly was bloated. There was blood on her face and her hair was sticky with it. She had two black eyes, but one eye was missing. Her skin sounded like shoes on bubble wrap. Where had they been keeping her, a greenhouse, or somewhere just as warm? She’d been dead for a while and someone had beaten the crap out of her. She wasn’t Lauren Regan.
I took a step back, intending to continue my way home, when a lingering hint of magic emanated from the body. Her magic caressed my skin like a soft breeze. It was neither warm nor cool, just enough to caress the fine hairs. I could not feel what her talent was, though. I tried as much as possible to not breath through my nose.
I’ve been a detective for the NYPD for the last six years. I’ve been part of the missing person squad since I left SWAT. Lieutenant Cook has been trying to get me on the homicide squad for the last eight months.
“Any luck with those finger prints yet?” I asked.
The scanner dinged a positive match. No. I didn’t make the scanner work faster. “Who is she?” I asked.
“Eden Bateman,” Kris said.
Val looked up and met his gaze. “Ah, yes. The girl from Brooklyn. Her roommate reported her missing six days ago. She was a twenty-seven-year-old college dropout with priors for petty theft and identity theft,” Val said. “I was wondering when I’d meet her.”
“She came in from Brooklyn?” I asked. “I thought my commute was long.”
“Says the woman from small-town Nebraska,” Kris snarked. “How long does it take to drive from one end of town to the other?”
“Ten minutes depending on where you’re at in the street light cycle.” We had four lights. “Don’t knock small-town life until you try it.”
“Are you giving up the job and moving back?” Kris asked. He finished removing the fingerprint scanner from the plastic bag. He then wiped it with a disinfectant and placed it back into the special case. In reality, it was a glorified smartphone with only one app.
“Not on your life.”
“Agent,” said Paul. He held up a ladies’ wallet and phone in a zip-top bag.
Kris took the wallet and phone. I looked past his shoulder as he opened the wallet and another detective took photographs. Eden wasn’t the person on the I.D. The woman on the I.D. was Lauren Regan.
“Damn it,” I whispered.
“Who is Lauren Regan?” asked Paul. “How did Bateman get Regan’s phone?” he asked, mostly to himself.
“That would be my case. Her friend reported her missing yesterday.” I sighed. “New Jersey Fish and Wildlife found her car in Wharton State Forest earlier today. I’d spent the day with the manhunt scouring the miles of wilderness.” And my inner wolf really wanted to hunt for her on four feet instead of two.
Even if nothing happened inside the bank, Kris was definitely sticking around for a while.
“How did her stuff get here?” Paul asked.
“I don’t know, but I intend to find out,” I said. Could they have the same friend?
“Where are Eden’s belongings and why does she have Lauren’s?” Paul asked.
“Another good question. You should be with the homicide squad.”
“Coleman doesn’t want me.”
“Coleman has wanted me on homicide for a while. I keep declining.” Deputy Inspector Coleman is the supervisor for the homicide squad.
Val stood up slowly and flexed her knees. She was already documenting her findings.
Across from her stood a man wearing a worn chocolate polyester three-piece suit. He scowled at her, then looked down at the body. He looked like he came from the set of Starsky and Hutch. I wondered what thrift store he might frequent, but I knew without a doubt his clothes were what he died in. He touched the body without gloves and he wasn’t wearing a mask or a disposable coverall. No one else seemed to notice him. I could see the wall behind him. He gave me goosebumps.
Fuck. I stepped back and pivoted to walk away. No way was I having anything to do with ghosts. A cold sweat trickled down my back. I rubbed my hands on my arms, pretending to be a little chilled from the weather. Usually, I took a deep breath to calm myself down, but the smell was atrocious. I swallowed my fear and focused on the job.
“Are you okay?” Val whispered.
“I’ve never seen you like this at a crime scene before.”
I’d have been much happier reading a paperback in my chair at home than dealing with a body or a ghost in an alley.
I had so many questions. I added them to the Regan word processor file on my phone. How long has Eden been dead? My guess is about four days. How did Eden get Lauren’s stuff? Did she simply pick Lauren’s pocket? Was she involved in Lauren’s disappearance? Why is a dead white woman in a dumpster in East Harlem? I think they chose East Harlem to lead us down the wrong trail.
“April, why are you here?” Val asked, standing back from the corpse.’
Thank you for reading this so far. Check out the next two blog posts for chapters 2 and 3.