On a rainy October morning, Mallory Petersen, private detective and martial artist, discovers the corpse of her boyfriend, Bobby Furillo, in front of her office in Des Moines.
Bucking police authority and continually attacked by unknown adversaries, Mallory uncovers Bobby’s devastating secrets. Each new revelation puts Mallory in deeper peril from powerful and dangerous people.
And just what are those enigmatic RSVP cards that keep showing up in Mallory’s mail?
– “We want more Mallory, Lawrence, Darren, and Harry Reznik. PLEASE.” – Kathryn D
– “This is an intriguing story with plenty of action and surprises. The author’s use of flashbacks to tell the story keeps you focused and wanting to know more!” – Ashley Dawn, author of “Shadows of Pain”
“Tell me a story.”
I glance up and behind me at the man who spoke and he offers me an anticipatory smile. My eyes need a moment to adjust from the firelight to the face the flames illuminate. Between shifting shadows, admire his strong chin, kissable mouth, the reflection of the fire in his deep chocolate brown eyes. One errant sandy lock dangles sexily over his forehead.
I’ve been nestling in his arms on the couch, our legs covered by a blanket. The wind howls around the corners of the house. A week before Christmas, Iowa’s bipolar weather has decided to shift toward the polar side. Snow began three days ago, light and feathery at first, but you couldn’t miss the ecstasy upon the television meteorologists’ faces as they cheerfully predicted how much worse it would get. My capital city became a bull’s eye for the slow moving arctic front slogging through the state. Five to seven inches depending on where one lived with a possibility (oh, how the forecasters wrung their hands with glee and their eyes glistened in delight) of up to ten or twelve inches in select areas.
The dreams of a white Christmas looked to be a reality.
Lawrence Cameron, Quad Cities cop extraordinaire, fabu-lishious hunk of man, and my boyfriend, had braved the ice and snow choked interstate to spend a weekend with me. Since next Saturday is the holiday and we will be spending the time with our respective families, we thought we’d spend a little time together this weekend. Granted, driving around the metro probably isn’t on the agenda, but cuddling indoors is just fine, especially with as fine a specimen as Cameron.
We met a few weeks ago when I, in my role as a private investigator, worked a case where I traveled around Des Moines, down to south central Iowa, and finally to the Quad Cities. Lawrence played chauffeur for a day as we searched for a kidnapped little girl and in the end I helped shut down a child pornography ring.
I’d been attracted to Lawrence at first sight and what sane woman wouldn’t be? He possessed cool, calming inner and outer strength and reciprocated the attraction.
As much as I would love to drag him to my bed and ravish him for hours, I have been cautious and hesitant in our relationship. The miles between us are a big factor. We squeeze in a day here and there, a dinner date in Iowa City, roughly halfway between our hometowns, and a slew of conversations via email and Skype.
He has his Special Case Squad buddies, his parents, and siblings. I have my private investigator’s cases and my martial arts school. Building a relationship with everything going on…well, I’m just happy Lawrence is courteous and respectful and caring enough not to push for the role of Alpha Male.
Physical distance isn’t the only reason I don’t feel like hopping between the sheets or pushing commitment. Yes, I’m comfortable in his arms in front of a crackling fire on a dark and cold December night, but a wall still exists, blocking me from allowing my heart to go deeper. He’s just pressed against that wall.
Throughout this evening, we’ve been quietly discussing some of Lawrence’s adventures as a metro police detective. Having met his co-workers and partners in the SCS, I understand better how they tackle cases as well as the empathy felt when the seriousness of the crime is at the forefront.
Now, he has lobbed the ball into my court. I could regale him with taekwondo tournaments or the list of more than my fair share of goofy clients. What pops to the forefront, however, is the other reason for my hesitancy in our relationship.
My mood, once content, turns somber. My body, warm and comfortable, tenses ever so slightly, yet Lawrence notices the change.
“Mallory Petersen,” he purrs in my ear, “what tale of daring do are you keeping from me?”
I smile at his attempt at levity.
“Come on,” he urges, “out with it.”
“I…don’t know,” I stall. “It’s a long story.”
He inhales audibly and turns his wrist toward me showing me a nonexistent watch.
“We have all night,” he says. “Unless you’d rather go outside and build a snowman.”
“No, thanks,” I reply. I pause a moment more, then snuggle a little deeper into his body. “Okay, you asked for it.”
I close my eyes, collect my thoughts, then I tell him about Bobby Furillo.
Murder takes but a single bullet.
I later learned a .45 caliber ended the life of Bobby Furillo, but I could have provided a reasonable guess upon seeing his body. I stood on the sidewalk under a dirty white protective awning as
the October sky dumped enough rain on which even Noah would have commented. I did not envy the score of officers, forensics experts, and paramedics moving quickly, trying to protect both the corpse and the crime scene from the elements.
Dressed in jeans and sweater under a Sam Spade trench coat and hat, I shivered, horrified, but I couldn’t stop staring as it all unfolded before me.
Bobby’s body lay crumpled upon the wet asphalt in the parking lot next to my office building. Blood from the massive exit hole in the back disappeared in thin colored streams. Red tinged water saturated and darkened his jeans, a leather jacket, and a striped button down shirt. The expression on the once handsome face showed a combination of surprise and shock, blended together to form an image too tragic for anybody to want to remember, but one I’ll never forget.
I also couldn’t stop looking at the half dozen roses thrown aside at the moment of death. Rain battered mercilessly, detaching petals at random, sending them swirling into the gutter and on down the street to disappear in a soon to be overflowing sewer entrance. Bobby had stopped by my office to take me to lunch and he wanted to bring me flowers.
Instead, when I drove into the parking lot, I’d discovered he’d brought me death and heartache.