A Snippet

I thought I’d share a short scene from POSED IN DEATH. Laurel Reagan finds her friend Maxine’s body arranged like the other victims of the Midlife Murderer. She learns that Maxine went out to supper with a freelance reporter, Nick Menas, shortly before the night she was killed. When Nick calls her and asks to interview her, she only agrees because they’re meeting in a public place and she doesn’t fit the type the Midlife Murderer always chooses. Then she learns he had an alibi for the night Maxine died, so when he volunteers to team up with her to learn more about the case, she feels safe.

On the drive home, Nick said, “This has been a nice day.  Thank you.”

“I’ve enjoyed it, too.  I needed something to cheer me up after finding Maxine.”

He grimaced.  “I don’t know which is worse, losing my wife to a random shooter or having a friend murdered by a serial killer.”

“They’re both horrible, but I can do something about Maxine.  I want to find her killer.  I won’t have closure until whoever did it is behind bars and hopefully never free again.”

He glanced sideways at her as he drove.  “You sound determined.”

“I am.  I lost my husband to a heart attack.  Stuart had always had cardiac problems, so I knew I’d lose him someday going into the marriage, but still, it felt random.  It came sooner than we expected, and there was nothing I could do to prevent it.  Maxine’s death is different, though.  It shouldn’t have happened, and if I find out who did it, I can make sure no one else has to die that way.  I’m going to do all I can to help Ralph find who killed her.”

“Ralph is on the case?”

“Not officially, and he doesn’t want me involved.  He’s warned me away.”

“But you’re still going to pursue it?”

“Yes.”

Nick glanced at her again.  “You’re serious about this, aren’t you?”

“I doubt if I make a difference.  The cops have more resources than I do, but if I can help, I’m going to.”

His dark eyebrows dipped in a frown.  “I was a crime reporter before my wife died.  Then I needed a break from it.  It hit too close to home, but I’m getting tired of human-interest stories.  I’d love to write in-depth, serious pieces again.  Not the everyday drive-by shootings, but this case would interest me.  I could work with you.  If you want a partner, that is.”

Did she?  Could she trust this man?  She didn’t know much about him.  “You’d help me dig for information?”

“I used to be good at it.  My wife’s case was wrapped up before I even learned that she’d died.  It made me feel useless, and I hated it.  I’d be able to do something this time.  I’m going to be in town a while.  I want to write my section of the book here, then if I need more information, it will be easier to get.  But it would feel good to be able to make a difference about a death, you know?”

“I do.” She surprised herself by how much she could relate to him.  “And the truth is, I’d feel safer if someone went with me when I visited people I want to talk to.”

“Then I’m your guy.”  He gripped the steering wheel, his expression earnest.  “I pester people all the time who don’t want to talk to me.  Give me a call when you want to visit someone, and I’ll be there.”

A worry niggled.  “This isn’t just about getting a scoop on who the Midlife Murderer is, is it?”

He pressed his lips in a grim line.  “Will that be a deal breaker?  I have to admit that’s part of it.  I’m sort of using you to get a toe in the door.  I want you to know that.  But we’ll still find Maxine’s killer.  And part of this, for me, is finding closure after my wife was killed.”

That was part of what was driving her, too.  She decided to find out how serious he was.  “I’m going to make a casserole to take to Maxine’s husband tomorrow.  I think he’s a worthless human being, but I want to see what he has to say about Maxine.  Want to come?”

“You’re still okay with me tagging along?”

“Why not?  I’d like to see the Midlife Murderer behind bars, too.”

“When should I pick you up?”

…..And that’s how Laurel and Nick become a team.

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