I hope you’ll enjoy these first six pages from my upcoming mystery novel, The Killed Conscience.
If you’re interested in being part of a blog tour or giving my book a review, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Killed Conscience
The phone call came at midnight.
Tucked away in her home in one of the suburban areas outside Dallas, Emilee Weathers sat cross-legged on her sofa, listening to the soft crackles of a fire burning away in the fireplace. Fall weather was just beginning to fade into early winter, and the temperatures outside said it was time for her pink fuzzy socks, thermal pajama pants, and hooded pullover sweater. Long sleeves. Always long sleeves. Her finger traced over the trackpad of the laptop heating the tops of her legs.
She scrolled through the homepage of her blog, Emilee’s Cold Corner, reviewing her posts and trying to find an answer to the question, What should I write about next?
All her posts thus far were articles covering sets of cold cases throughout various areas of the United States, some of which may have been linked. She was always looking to push the bar, to expand and try new things. In her own personal way, she did—but she was also wise enough to stick to what she knew. Having just surpassed five-thousand followers, Emilee had built a cozy little space in her own small corner of the inter-web. So, she figured she’d keep giving the people what they came for. But still, she couldn’t help wondering if there was something more out there for her.
There on the coffee table were two small pieces of dark chocolate. Emilee grabbed a piece, unwrapped it, and set it on her tongue to melt. For a moment, she thought about making a cup of coffee—a thought that always came to tease. It was already well past six in the evening and too late for more caffeine. The thought rebounded to a cup of hot chocolate. That one sounded good. Sadly, she was already nestled under the blanket, and ten steps to the kitchen required a bit too much effort.
Emilee’s phone began buzzing somewhere in the throw blanket across her lap. On the screen was a number with an 865 area code. Out of state. She sat the phone down and went back to staring blankly into that computer screen. But something was pecking at her. It wasn’t until she actually thought about it that she remembered. When she did, she felt like smacking herself on the forehead. No wonder that 865 seemed so familiar—it was the area code of that place she’d once called “home” fifteen years back: Knoxville, Tennessee. A barrage of memories of life up until the age of ten all fell on Emilee at once. She remembered Ball Camp Elementary, the Tennessee mountains…then she remembered her best friend, Sebastian.
Emilee scrambled to answer the phone before it stopped ringing. “Hello?”
“Hi, is this a Ms. Emilee Weathers?”
She hadn’t spoken to Sebastian over the phone in years, but from what she remembered, that didn’t sound like him. Whoever that was, he sounded older, with a timber country accent.
“This is she… Um, who is this?”
“My name is Todd Nichols. I’m a detective here with the Knoxville Police Department. My apologies for the time. We’re on different time zones but I know it’s still late there. Hope I’m not waking you.”
Emilee threw the blanket off her, put her feet on the ground, and sat up straight like the detective could see her and she needed to look professional. “No. Not at all. I was just… What can I do for you, Detective Nichols?”
“Well I’m in a bit of a situation with this broken, pathetic excuse for a legal system over here. Might you be familiar with the VDK case?”
Oh, only if he knew how silly of a question that was. Emilee was very familiar with the Valentine’s Day Killer. Somehow more familiar than any other civilian could’ve been. She’d written not one, but two blog posts over the monster—one before and one after his capture back in 2012. The whole case had really stuck out to Emilee; not just because it took place in her hometown, but also because she found herself staring into the mirror, thinking about how she looked an awful lot like those girls whose bodies they’d found.
“Patrick Liftmen? Yes, of course.”
“Might you also be familiar with the appeal he was just granted?”
“Oh my, God… No. Wh—for when?”
“I don’t know yet. Sometime early January, maybe. Now, the reason I’m calling, Emilee, is ‘coz I think you might be able to help me. I’ve looked into you; you’ve done some good work for the American Association of Investigative Reporting, and your blog clearly demonstrates you know your way around some cold cases. What I need is someone trustworthy—thorough—that can help me find some evidence that’ll keep this guy in prison.”
“And you want that to be me?”
“Thought I already said that, but yes.”
While honored, Emilee couldn’t help but feel there were some unanswered questions standing behind her. Like, how did he find her? How did he know she worked for the A.A.I.R.? And why would he specifically ask her? There had to have been countless other journalists much closer and much more qualified. She wanted to turn and ask but feared shedding light on something she didn’t want to see. At least not until she had to; when those questions were there in her face—a moment that, in due time, would come.
“Well, Knoxville’s pretty far, and I do have things I should take care of over here…” she said, feeling stupid for not just screaming Yes.
“I will gladly pay for all your traveling expenses. I’m sorry, but I thought you journalists ate up stuff like this.”
He was right. A case like that was exactly what Emilee had been aching for since she was a kid. For those last few days, it was exactly what she’d been praying for, relentlessly. For a moment, she feared it might never happen. But there it was being handed to her on a silver platter. It was hers for the taking, and all she had to do was take it. Yet all she seemed to do was stare at it, hesitance in her twitchy fingers. Why did it seem too good to be true?
Emilee looked up to the framed glass enclosure on the wall, which held something so precious to her, and yet so meaningless to the one person who she desperately wanted to be proud of her: her degree in Journalism from U.T. She stared at it like it held all the answers, just like she did every night. As she’d come to learn, it didn’t. Still, she mouthed to it the words Thank you.
“Emilee? You still there?”
After composing herself with a breath, Emilee tried sounding very calm and professional as she spoke into the phone and said, “Yes. I’ll do it. But only on one condition: You have to get me an interview with Patrick Liftmen before his appeal.” There was a pause. Emilee let it hold until she began wondering if maybe her connection had been cut. “Detective?”
“I’ll see what I can do.”
Before Emilee had time to say anything back, her phone beeped as the call ended.
As of right now, I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing. I want to publish traditionally, but also want to stay independent.
At this point in the process, I’m no longer looking for beta readers. I’ve had a few, done a few swaps, and I’m at a place where I don’t think I can be happier with my little polished piece of work. I am, however, looking for some kind bloggers to help with a blog tour and maybe reviews. There’s a few people helping me with each, but I feel you can’t have too many here.
If you think you’d be interested in helping with a blog tour or book reviews, please email me.