Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Tangled Web - Excerpt

Zoe Hamilton, owner of a small day spa, thinks her life is pretty good. She's got a thriving business and good friends - the only dark spot is the lack of a man to share it with. However, once she meets Rhett Archer, her life takes a sudden change. Her business is robbed, then burns to the ground and someone is stalking her. Her friend Roger, a police officer, and Rhett vow to protect her. In this scene, she's at her mother's home when shots are fired outside & a couple of police officers are hit, apparently by rubber bullets. Roger goes out to investigate.

Roger was puzzled by the apparent lack of deadly force. If this woman wanted to kill Rhett, she certainly wasn't going about it very systematically. He had been less concerned about his own safety and more worried about Zoe, taking chances himself more than once. The mystery woman wanted something else. Before they could stop her, they had to figure out her motivation.

The search of the woods around the Hamilton home produced little. There was an area that was somewhat tamped down, a few twigs broken, enough physical evidence to indicate that someone had waited there. However, she left nothing behind. Roger stood looking at the small area begging it to reveal a secret – something, anything!

Talk to me, dammit! Tell me what you want! His cell phone rang. His personal phone, not the one he used for work. The number was blocked. Thinking it was the typical marketing call, he almost didn't answer, but something made him slide the phone open.

"Catch me if you can, baby." The woman's sultry voice sent a shiver of fear down his spine.

"What do you want? Maybe we can negotiate."

"What I want you can't give me," she said. "Although you're a pretty one, I'll give you that. Prettier than Rhett. But he's the one that rocks her world, isn't he? She couldn't even wait a whole day without bedding him. Bites hard, doesn't it? Knowing you're the lesser man in her eyes?"

"Lady, you aren't going to play me that way. I'm more than enough man for you or anyone else. What do you want? If I can't give it to you, who can?"

"You're too young for me anyway, sweetie, but you're dreamy. I'd have loved you in my younger days. You're the kind of man who'd get a girl in trouble just by looking at her. I always had a thing for handsome, well built, dark haired men. " She proceeded to talk dirty to him, making him shiver at the thought of what she could do to him if he let her. It was agonizing.

"I assume by now you've found my little nest? Great spot, isn't it? I like the irony of the grassy knoll."

"I'm still waiting to hear what you want, baby."

"Impatient, aren't you? He was impatient too. But it doesn't matter. I caught up with him in the end and I'll get what I want eventually."

"That being?"

"Oh, didn't I say? Tell Rhett, I want his father."

"His father's dead, lady. He died ten years ago."

"Did he? Did he really? Be very sure of your facts before you make blanket statements like that, lover. Those presumed dead often find a way to come back. And back they come. Wasn't it Mark Twain who said, 'The reports of my death...."

"....have been greatly exaggerated.' Yeah. So?"

"So, who else is missing and presumed dead? You've so many to choose from. Think carefully, handsome boy. You'll miss me if you don't. Meanwhile, I'm going to go somewhere safe and fantasize about you. Does that excite you?"

"About as much as a tazer to the balls, baby."

A vicious laugh echoed from the phone as she hung up. Was it his imagination, or did he still hear the laughter in the woods? No, he was sure! Following the sound as it faded away, he ran deeper into the woods. A late model, blue Ford disappeared around a curve in the makeshift road. He couldn't see the license plate, but did call in a description of the car. An evidence team could look at the area more closely, but he really doubted they would find anything. Whoever she was, she was smart – smarter than he was, and knew how the police worked.

She had let something slip, though he was sure it was on purpose, she was thought to be dead. How many people in this fiasco of a case were supposed to be dead? Heading back to Zoe's, he started ticking them off on his fingers.

There was Zoe's real father, Patterson. He was dead – most definitely. Roger had witnessed part of the autopsy. If he was faking, he did a damn convincing job. There was Zoe's adoptive dad, Tab Hamilton. He was also dead.

Rhett's mother was dead, he told Roger that himself. Had he seen her die? What about her body? He hated to ask those questions, but he would if he had to. His father was dead, or was supposed to be. That was another thing the mystery woman had told him. What was it she said? Those presumed dead often find a way to come back. And back they come.

Was she Rhett's mother bent on revenge? It seemed impossible. Was there another woman in all this? If so, who? What could she want and why? If she was Rhett's mom, why would she want to kill his father? Confusion wrapped itself around him. He couldn't shake the feeling that he was missing a simple, vital clue.

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