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Clip From Book

I called Leroy on the radio. "Where are you?"

"My ETA is about five minutes," he said.

I knew him well enough to know when he said "about," he'd be here in ten. "I'm heading in the front door. I want you at the backdoor as soon as you get here."

"Kate, I said I'd be there in five!"

"Good. Take the back." I wasn't waiting. I drew my gun.

The unlocked front door didn't surprise me. A lot of people left their doors unlocked in this small town. Just inside was a foyer with a fireplace that looked as if it hadn't been used for years. I stopped and listened. Silence, except for the hard thumping of my heart. I swallowed. I was scared, but I was more scared about Janie. A small prayer flashed through my mind and I again started forward.

The smell of old brass fixtures mingled with that of pristine upholstery on stiff parlor chairs. I stopped on a large oriental rug that looked new and unused, and listened carefully to the quiet for any telltale signs of someone lurking in the shadows. I watched for the slightest movement. A light shown from a hall at the far end of the living room. The hardwood floors made it a challenge to step silently.

I heard each breath I took as I made my way toward the illumination I was fairly sure led to the kitchen. I rounded the corner and froze. I could see strands of auburn hair on the tile floor next to a broken teacup and saucer. I forced my next step. The rest of the body came into view. Ethel Gregory lay sprawled on the tile floor. One hand leaned against the leg of the kitchen table. Her face was an antique white. I was relieved the victim wasn't Janie, but I was concerned about who or what had killed Ethel.

I scanned the kitchen. No one else was in the room. I bent and touched Ethel's neck. Cool flesh tingled at my fingertips. Her pulse had long ago faded. This was the first time I'd touched a dead body. As I withdrew my fingers, they still felt an unnatural numbness. I wondered if I'd ever get used to the feel of death.

A noise rustled from behind. I jerked upright. My grip tightened on my gun as I spun around.

 

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