Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Shallow Graves - Sneak Peek

Vultures swirled overhead announcing death to anyone who cared to look above the treetops. Kendal McNally didn’t need them to tell her what lay ahead. The fetid odor of rotting flesh reached her half way across the field. The smell, combined with the hum of flies, made her thankful she hadn’t eaten breakfast before making the hour long drive to Ripley.
She picked her way around cocklebur weeds standing knee high and cow created potholes dotting the abandoned pasture. Her head jerked back as she swatted at the buzzing insects intent on attacking her face. Dry clumps of dirt pushed out of the ground, the handy work of crawdads. Deep ruts from a tractors tire and long blades of intertwining grass acted as nature’s trip wire. A minefield she stumbled through despite wearing sensible shoes and work pants.
The humid summer morning air gave a feeble gust, but didn’t budge the tendrils of chestnut curls stuck to her forehead and neck. The dark blue of her shirt showed signs of heat where damp patches clung to her back and sides.
She glanced up to see how much further. Almost there.
Two local officers stood, hands on their respective gun attached hips, watching her progress across the field. Neither of them called out a greeting or smiled.
She flashed her badge when she got close enough for them to see. “Kendal McNally, FBI crime scene,” she muttered, feeling overheated and irritated.
She ignored the curiosity that lit their faces. Whether from the name or the FBI, she didn’t know or care. She set her scene kit on the ground, unlatched, and opened the lid. Taking out the Vick’s vapor rub, she applied a swipe under each nostril, sighing in appreciation for the hot, minty cover up. Taking pity on the two officers, she handed them her Vicks.
“Didn’t realize they were calling in ID on this. You got here fast.” This came from the younger of the two officers, handsome despite the frown creasing his brow. He wasn’t happy about her presence, the locals usually weren’t, but that wasn’t his or her call. He extended his hand, surprising her. “Kyle Davis, this here’s Haywood.” He gestured toward his older, pudgier sidekick.
“Nice to meet you, Kyle. Haywood.” She shook Kyle’s large, rough worked hand, nodded at Haywood. “Who was first on scene?”
“We came together.” Kyle’s brows lifted in question.
She sighed. “Who found the body and called in the report to you?” She made a quick scan of the area. How much evidence had already been lost due to carelessness and ignorance of the officers who had yet to secure the scene?
The grave lay just at the edge of a wooded area, giving plenty of coverage for someone to hide a body. So why at the edge of woods? Why in the open?
“Hank, the farms owner. Actually, his dog found the body.” Haywood chuckled then appeared to realize the inappropriateness of his response. “Damn dog started digging and tugging at the blanket there.” He pointed.
Kendal refused to look directly at the body. Not yet. She needed to steel herself against the shock. Prepare not to react.
“Who removed the dirt from around the body?” She failed to keep the irritation out of her tone.
“The dog, I guess.” Kyle shrugged his shoulders. “We didn’t touch it.”
It? Kendal wanted to scream. It was a little girl.
“Have you been walking the area?” She gestured to the numerous footprints and trampled weeds.
“Yeah. We looked for evidence.” Haywood glanced at Kyle for confirmation.
“Why is the FBI interested?” Kyle folded his muscled arms across his thick chest.
“We’ll be helping with the collection of all physical evidence,” she stated, moving the strap of her camera so that it hung around her neck rather than off one shoulder.
“We collected evidence the last time and we’ve already searched here. What are you going to do that we can’t?” Haywood sputtered, tossing his hands in the air.
Two grave sights found on the farm in the past year with no person of interest identified seemed answer enough for Kendal. This time someone called in specialists.
She thought about ignoring Haywood’s question, but answered out of courtesy. “We need enough evidence to identify a POI.” Realizing what they needed to hear, she looked up from her camera and flashed what she hoped was a charming smile. “I’m sure you men have enough to deal with without adding a detailed scene investigation to the mix. We’re here to assist you, not take over.”
Haywood took the bait, puffing out his barrel chest with importance. Kyle didn’t sway so easy.
“You’re going to do this on your own?” Kyle asked.
“No. Another team member should be arriving….” At the sound of a car door slamming in the distance, they all glanced in the direction of the barn and farmhouse. “That’s probably her now.”
Kendal wondered how Amy would fair crossing the pasture and hoped she’d heeded her warning about wearing sensible shoes. She couldn’t help but glance over her shoulder until Amy came into view from around the barn on three inch heels and studied the situation.
Kendal smiled as she turned back to the scene and squatted down to remove numbered markers and surgical gloves from her kit, but she would wait for Amy to begin processing the scene. She needed to do a quick sketch of the area and document what she had learned so far. Interviewing the farmer, Hank, was top priority.
Taking a deep steadying breath, she took her first look at the body. Kendal surveyed the grave with the remains of the child lying within its shallow dirt walls. Ignoring the low burning sensation in her stomach, she brought the camera up to her face and focused for the first of many pictures.
The men stood there appearing confused as to what to do next.
“Holy cow shit,” Amy exclaimed, coming to an unsteady stop beside Kendal. “Literally.” Amy grabbed hold of Kyle’s arm to steady herself as she slanted backwards when her spiked heels sunk into the ground.
“I warned you.” Kendal shook her head.
“Yes. Yes you did.” Amy swung her sparkling blue eyes on Kyle and squeezed his meaty arm before letting go. “Nice.” She smiled. Kyle’s face turned beat red.
“Lets get to work.” Kendal pulled on gloves, snapping them against her wrist. She began setting numbers near the young girl’s body. A baby really, six years old at the most. Kendal shut off her thoughts, focusing on the job and let the camera capture the scene. Bruises circled the neck and the arms. Scratches. The tattered clothes. The quilt partially wrapped around the lower half of her body.
How much of what she saw had the dog disturbed with his tugging on the quilt, from digging in the dirt? Had the body been completely covered?
While she worked, Amy opened her own case, put on gloves, grabbed a prepackaged test kit, and waited. When Kendal finished, she replaced the lens cover on her camera and squatted down across the grave from where Amy knelt. A car door slammed.
“Coroner?” Amy questioned while painstakingly brushing dirt off the body, never taking her eyes off the pale, marred flesh.
“Should be.”
But it wasn’t the coroner. Kendal stood when the man approached. He was tall and shockingly thin. The police uniform hung on him as if the weight loss were recent and sudden.
“Chief, these two ladies are with the FBI,” Kyle explained as his brows furrowed over a face grown tense.
“I didn’t call in the FBI.” The chief’s gravely voice held contempt.
“Someone did,” Kendal stated. “We’re here to help. My supervisor…”
He stopped her with a harrumph and a shake of his head. “Yeah, I already spoke to him.” Riley’s Chief of Police spit a long steam of brown juice, which touched down inches short of Kyle’s shoe. “Don’t you boys got something better to do?” He snarled at his two officers. Even Kyle seemed to shrink. The chief’s authority giving him more weight than his body demanded.
“We have no problem working with the locals. We can either assist or lead the investigation.” Kendal kept her voice steady, but her insides quivered like the beginnings of a volcanic eruption.
“I don’t think so. I’ll tell you what I told your supervisor. I don’t want you here.” He jammed a finger in her direction. “You’re on your own and when you screw this up, it will all be on your head.” The chief turned and left with his men.
She watched him go, part of her falling back to the nagging insecurities that had been her companions since her teenage years. She screwed everything up just like her mother. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Kendal clenched her jaws to bite off that line of thinking. Her mother had made mistakes, yes, but she’d had help making them. Kendal shoved the thoughts away and noticed Amy staring up at her.
“What?”
“A friend of yours?” Amy asked.
“No.” She glanced again at the retreating figure. “My father.”

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Sex, Lies & Murder

Sizzling romance. Killer instinct. Which wins out in the end?
Four top-selling authors create a perfect escape as they take love to the edge of suspense and back, risking life, death, and emotional warfare. Sexy, edgy, and gritty, these four romantic suspense novels will keep you turning the pages, as plots rarely go according to plan, and dangerous situations delay the stories’ coming to climax.

This boxed set includes the full-length romantic suspense novels: According To Plan by Madison J. Edwards, Coming to Climax by Bobbye Terry, Emotional Warfare by Christina Wolfer, and A Perfect Escape by Maddie James.

ACCORDING TO PLAN by Madison J. Edwards


Shelby Stewart's been hired to find socialite Harrison Grant. That's good. Her ex-partner, Tank, is on the hunt for him as well. That's bad. Shelby will do anything to stay one step ahead of her uber sexy ex-lover, even play a tantalizing game of strip pool to knock him off his game. Everything should work out, According to Plan.

According To Plan is a solid erotic romantic suspense with humor, mystery, action, a hot ALPHA man and feisty, sassy, kick ass woman. ~Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews

Fast paced with great emotional quality, this story keeps you on the edge of your seat with lots of plot twists and scorching love scenes. Shelby and Tank's physical chemistry is off the charts sizzling. ~ Long and Short Reviews

Madison J. Edwards All-Romance Bestseller, award winning author who loves writing a whole log of spice into a relationship. Her stories are filled with alpha heroes and the feisty woman who keep them on their toes.

COMING TO CLIMAX by Bobbye Terry

Margaret Palmer returns to Climax, Virginia, where Southern charm hides long-buried secrets and evil lurks just beneath the surface of the daily routine. Margaret’s long-guarded secret now threatens to be exposed; but, will that no longer matter when a psychotic killer’s target is Blue Moon, the one true love of her life?

Double Finalist in Central Florida Romance Writers’ Touch of Magic and Yellow Rose Romance Writers’ Winter Rose contests.

Bravo! Well, done!! I loved it! ~ Blue is absolutely fascinating! I am in love!

Bobbye Terry is a bestselling contemporary romance writer with multiple awards for her contemporary romance, historical romance, romantic suspense and romantic comedy.

EMOTIONAL WARFARE by Christina Wolfer

When highly classified military parts go missing from Libby Aerospace Technologies, Dana Porter is sent to Wyoming to resolve the issues. The further Dana digs, the more dangerous things become, and when an ex-employee ends up murdered, she suspects someone is illegally exporting the goods.

Dana's past marital issues were handled competently and her romantic feelings fro Nick added to the emotional warfare... the emotional push-pull of the protagonists is where Ms. Wolfer shines. ~Amazon Review

Wolfer Understands the human condition and breathes life and realism into her characters ~ Amazon Review.

Christina Wolfer writes the spectrum of contemporary romance, from modern day westerns to murder and suspense. She'll keep you guessing until the very end.

A PERFECT ESCAPE by Maddie James

Megan Thomas is running for her life. Smyth Parker is running from his. Their perfect escape to the solitude of uninhabited Portsmouth Island might temporarily solve their problems, but Smyth soon learns he doesn’t need a complication named Megan Thomas—especially when she brings more danger to his life than he could have imagined.

What a tangled web! An intricate plot of mystery and suspense. James deftly combines romance and suspense, so hop on for an exhilarating ride. ~ 4 Stars, RT Book Reviews

A Perfect Escape is a well-written story that delivers great range of emotions, intense action at its best, and a great plot. Ms. James knows how to pen stories that engage the reader. ~ Fallen Angel Reviews


Bestselling author Maddie James is the author of nearly 30 novels/novellas. Her books have received numerous 5 Star and Top Pick reviews. She is frequently listed as a Top 100 Most Popular Contemporary Romance Author at Amazon.

Tell me what intrigues you about the above listed novels to be entered for a FREE boxed set give-a-way and $10 Amazon gift card. Be sure to leave an email address in your comment. Winner will be announced Thursday, May 22nd.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Set Free only $0.99 cents

Julie Ludlow rested the rifle over the top edge of the brick apartment building, peered through the scope and sighted in her target.
She inhaled deeply to steady her shaky hands and pulled the trigger, dropping Ricky Parker to the ground on The Coffee House steps.
Seconds ticked by as she shoved another round into the chamber. Her shoulder throbbed and her ears rang as she pumped the trigger again, dropping Ricky’s younger brother, Randy, down beside him.
Julie rolled to the side, shifting the gun away from the ledge and pressing her back against the wall. With the rifle lying across her thighs, she shuddered out a breath as screams for help lifted up from the street.
Trembling, she placed the rifle in its case, and clicked the latches closed. Hunkered low, she dashed toward the stairwell and bounded down two flights to the third floor. She glanced up and down the hall to make sure no one watched as she exited the stairwell and made a quick dash to the janitor’s closet. She closed and locked the door behind her. Nausea churned as sweat beaded along her forehead and ran down between her breasts.
She’d done it. Holy shit. She’d really done it. She squeezed her eyes tight for a heartbeat of a second. No time to stop now.
She stowed the rifle case behind the large metal cabinet and grabbed her backpack from the same location. She took a deep breath, held, and let it out slow and easy. Sirens whirled in the distance as she stepped into the hall. She debated whether to take the stairs, but decided doing so would appear suspicious, so she headed for the elevators as if she did so everyday.
As she reached the first floor exit, police burst through the apartment entrance. She shrunk into a darkened doorway as they charged past and up the stairs, then she slipped out the door unnoticed. Outside, chaos reigned.
Not wanting to draw attention, she mingled among the gathering crowd, slowly making her way to the alley where she’d parked her dad’s brown Buick. Julie climbed behind the wheel and with an unsteady hand turned the key. The old beast shuddered to life. She rammed the gearshift into place and headed out of town.
With hot tears streaming down her cheeks, she left Mulsboro, Ohio behind without looking back.

Want to find out what happens next? To buy click here
Available for Kindle only

Friday, December 13, 2013

Mistletoe Madness Blog Hop






















I love traditions, especially around Christmas time. It keeps us rooted in what is important. Reminds us that there are many who came before us and that we have a legacy to leave to those who come after. Even the silly little traditions can mean a great deal later down the road, typically triggering joyful memories.

Here are a few of my favorites Christmas traditions. It wouldn’t feel like Christmas without them.
  • Every year, for the last 16 years, my mom and I have gone to Metamora, IN., a small village of shops.
  • Christmas Eve, those of us who don’t have other extended family obligations get together and go out to eat at Red Lobster. This is 40 years running. 
  • Watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. 
  • Making cinnamon rolls Christmas morning. 
  • Mid-night mass. 
  • Christmas music: Silent Night, White Christmas, Drummer Boy… 
  • Sitting at night with just the Christmas tree lights on.
  • Baking
  • And most importantly, spending time with family and friends. 
Share below some of your favorite family traditions or things you love about Christmas to be entered to win a copy of my latest release, DESIRE FOR REVENGE. Please include your email address in your response.

Also, be sure to visit http://pjschnyder.com/blog/contests/ to enter to win the Grand Prize. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

EMOTIONAL WARFARE

When highly classified military parts go missing from Libby Aerospace Technologies, Dana Porter is sent to Wyoming to resolve the issues and negotiate a new contract with the United States Navy Defense contractor. But first, she’ll have to figure out why the parts are disappearing. The further Dana digs, the more dangerous things become, and when an ex-employee ends up murdered, she suspects someone is illegally exporting the goods.

Despite General Manager Nick White’s resentment of Dana’s presence, he cannot afford to lose the contract and knows she is his best bet in making sure that doesn't happen. He left Indiana over a year ago to get away from her. Now, she is scrutinizing every aspect of his business, finding inconsistencies he can’t explain and awakening old feelings he thought long gone.

Together, they will race against time to stop the illegal exports and secure the contract, but with hearts and lives on the line, not everyone will walk away unscathed.


World News Report: A plan to attack the U.S. embassy in Sudan was thwarted Wednesday night when an unmanned aerial vehicle was shot down by U.S Military forces stationed in the area. Government officials stated that The UAV, carrying launch missiles, was spotted hovering near the embassy and identified as an immediate threat. No terrorist group has stepped forward to lay claim to the attempted attack.

Prologue 

Khartoum, Sudan
Khartoum’s New Islamic Alliance Military Compound 

Zufar was dead.
The words like a mantra repeated in Rustan Hasan’s head, mocking his very existence.
Zufar was dead. Zufar was dead.
It should have been me. The thought roared through him like a freight train, the painful truth suffocating. Not Zufar.
The pressure in Rustan’s chest built, closing off the air in his lungs as the commander of the Khartoum’s New Islamic Alliance fraction told them of the attack against the United States. Blood had been spilled in accordance with the Quran. But Rustan, with his heart breaking, did not care about advancing Islam, about Allah’s law or the overall goal of the mission. He wanted to drop to his knees and scream out the rage tearing at his insides.
His legs trembled, and his stomach convulsed. A loud howling filled his head drowning out the words of his commander, but not the pain. The thought of his mother and sister pierced his heart. His shoulders shook beneath the olive green of his military uniform as his mind flipped back in time of two skinny boys playing along a dirt road. Makeshift swords of long twigs gripped in their hands as they fought an imaginary foe.
“One day,” nine-year-old Zufar had claimed. “I will fight and kill the real enemy.”
Rustan pulled away from the memories, snapping his shoulders back to quiet the trembling. He would not humiliate Zufar’s memory by falling apart in front of his comrades. He would not disgrace his family.
Zufar had been brave, and the Muslim Brotherhood would glorify his actions. Allah would reward him in the afterlife. Zufar had lived and planned for the day he would commit jihad against their enemy. His day had come, but to Rustan, it was without victory. The enemy had won. They had succeeded in killing a great man—his beloved brother. 

Trinity, Indiana USA

The thrashing and groaning tugged Dana Porter out of a deep sleep. She bolted upright with the realization that her husband struggled with a muscle spasm. She jumped out of the king size bed and circled around to Ted’s side. His eyes squeezed tight against the pain, his fist clenched in a seized state. His sweat-slicked body scented the air with bitter pain. He tried knocking her hands away as she worked to roll him onto his stomach.
“Leave me alone,” he forced out between clenched jaws.
A part of her wanted to leave him to writhe in agony until he begged for help. But he would be stubborn, and she couldn’t allow the pain to go on that long.
She positioned herself, one hand at his shoulder, the other at his waist. Mentally, she counted to three, then lifted, and shoved at the same time. He screamed out as he rolled onto his stomach.
Tears stung her eyes.
“Okay, it’s almost over.” Climbing on the bed, she knelt over him and began to knead the knotted muscles of his back with the heels of her hands, ignoring the ache moving up her arms.
Dana consoled herself with the knowledge that things weren’t as bad as they had been right after the accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. The spasms had come weekly then, but over time had diminished to every six months.
He resented her help, but didn’t fight her with the enthusiasm he once had. Oh, he remained emotionally shut off, almost proudly so.
“That’s enough, Dana. The spasm’s gone,” he murmured, tugging her back to the present.
She climbed from the bed and helped him onto his back. The spasms always left him weak and unable to manipulate his way out of bed. He would need help, and the need would piss him off.
She pulled the blankets up to his waist and thought, as she often did, what a magnificent chest he had. His arms and upper body thick with rope-like muscles from years of dragging his lower body around. She had told him once how beautiful his body was, running her hands over his chest. He had looked at her in disgust and pushed her hands away. The memory kept her from touching him now, kept her from looking into those ice blue eyes.
“Do you want to get out of bed or sleep a few more hours?” She asked, bracing herself for his harsh response.
“What are you going to do?”
She glanced at him, confused by the quiet reply. “I’ll go ahead and get my shower, maybe head into work early.”
“I’ll just lie here a while longer.” He grabbed her wrist when she turned away. The voluntary touch surprised her. “Thank you, Dana.” His words stunned her.
She faltered. “You’re welcome,” she mumbled and then retreated behind the bathroom door.
Under the hot spray of the shower, she let the tears scald her cheeks while painful, silent sobs ripped through her body. Three years and it still broke her heart at how cruel fate had been to Ted, how brutal it had been to their love.

****
One month later.
Trinity, Indiana, USA

Dana stared at the computer screen, but didn’t see the spreadsheet displayed. She was thinking back to earlier that morning. She and Ted had made love, if she could call it that. It was the first time in ten months. At twenty-eight years old, she was lucky if it happened twice a year. And Ted was capable of more but the need had to build to the point of breaking before he would touch her or allow her to touch him. Even then, he only tolerated her climbing on top of him to complete the act.
No kissing. No hugging or words of affection.
On some level, it made her feel dirty. On many levels, she wondered what was wrong with her, why her husband didn’t want her? Was he no longer attracted to her?
Dana rubbed at her eyes to push back the tears.
A meeting reminder pinged as it popped up on her screen. Dana grabbed a pad of paper and pen, glad for the distraction, and headed down to the conference room.
Nick White’s face lit up the minute she walked in, lifting her spirits. She circled around to sit next to him.
“You look pretty. That’s a good color on you.” His eyes lingered. “Is that a new top?”
Pleased that he noticed, Dana felt the warmth glide over her cheeks. “Yes. Thank you.”
“Are you going out with us Friday after work?”
“I’m planning on it.”
A group of them made a point to go out a couple times a month. Most of them single and still hitting the party scene, but Dana enjoyed spending time with them away from the job. They kept her feeling young.
Paul Nickels, the production control manager, rushed in at the last minute. “Sorry folks for the delay. I know we’ve all got a lot on our plates, so let’s get working on this month’s sales and manufacturing plan.”
The day flew by.
It was after six when she pulled into the driveway at home. The housekeeper they had hired to cook and clean three days a week was still there, which was odd. Mrs. Hodges normally left by five thirty to get home to her own family. Thinking something might be wrong with Ted, Dana rushed into the house and was greeted by laughter.
Setting down her purse, Dana followed the sound of voices to Ted’s office. She stopped outside the open door and listened.
“Ted, these are fabulous. When did you take them?”
“The summer between high school and college. A buddy and I where on a rock climbing mission, to climb as many mountains as we could. I took pictures everywhere we went that summer.”
Dana heard the smile in his voice and the wistfulness.
“You loved the photography as much as the climbing,” Mrs. Hodges stated matter of factly.
“Yes. I did.” Ted chuckled. “Look at this one.”
Dana leaned against the wall and squeezed her eyes closed against the burning tears and the ache in her chest. He was sharing something good, his happiness with Mrs. Hodges.
Why won’t he share that with me? Anger simmered below the surface.
“That bag up there, could you get that down for me. It has my old camera in it.”
Dana stepped into the doorway as Mrs. Hodges reached for the bag on the second shelf of the closet—one Dana could have easily reached for him.
“I could have gotten that for you,” Dana said.
Ted turned his head to look at her, the smile vanished, and the coldness slithered into his eyes. He put the lid back on the box of photographs.
Mrs. Hodges set the camera bag down beside Ted’s wheelchair. “Oh, Mrs. Porter, you should look at some of these photos.”
“No,” Ted said sharply.
Silence filled the awkward space.
Dana watched Ted. His jaws clenched as he refused to look at her.
Mrs. Hodges clasped her hands together. “I should be going. Dinner is warming in the oven.”
Dana turned away and walked down the hall to the bedroom. She changed clothes then forced herself to the kitchen where Mrs. Hodges had already set out plates and utensils. Dana removed the food from the oven and placed it on the table. Ted wheeled himself into the room and took his place.
They ate in silence as they always did.
On Friday evening, Dana met up with the group from work at the local watering hole. Nick was nowhere around. She shook off the sense of disappointment as she sat and ordered a beer.
She and Paul were in the middle of a debate about the Indianapolis Colts when Nick showed up. Her lips lifted when their eyes met. He grabbed a chair from a neighboring table and made no bones about asking everyone to scoot down so he could pull up along side Dana.
“Sorry, I’m late. My dad called to inform me that he and my mother are coming to visit next weekend.”
Despite the roll of his eyes, Dana could tell the prospect of seeing his parents made Nick happy.
“You can’t wait.”
Nick laughed. “No, I can’t.” He lifted his hand to get the waitress’s attention and ordered them both another beer. “I wish you could meet them. You would like my mom’s sense of humor.”
“Who are you most like?”
And as they talked, one by one the others left. Before Dana knew it, she and Nick sat alone talking and laughing. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sneak peek at SET FREE

Julie Ludlow rested the rifle over the top edge of the brick apartment building, peered through the scope and sighted in her target.
She inhaled deeply to steady her shaky hands and pulled the trigger, dropping Ricky Parker to the ground on The Coffee House steps.
Seconds ticked by as she shoved another round into the chamber. Her shoulder throbbed and her ears rang as she pumped the trigger again, dropping Ricky’s younger brother, Randy, down beside him.
Julie rolled to the side, shifting the gun away from the ledge and pressing her back against the wall. With the rifle lying across her thighs, she shuddered out a breath as screams for help lifted up from the street.
Trembling, she placed the rifle in its case, and clicked the latches closed. Hunkered low, she dashed toward the stairwell and bounded down two flights to the third floor. She glanced up and down the hall to make sure no one watched as she exited the stairwell and made a quick dash to the janitor’s closet. She closed and locked the door behind her. Nausea churned as sweat beaded along her forehead and ran down between her breasts.
She’d done it. Holy shit. She’d really done it. She squeezed her eyes tight for a heartbeat of a second. No time to stop now.
She stowed the rifle case behind the large metal cabinet and grabbed her backpack from the same location. She took a deep breath, held, and let it out slow and easy. Sirens whirled in the distance as she stepped into the hall. She debated whether to take the stairs, but decided doing so would appear suspicious, so she headed for the elevators as if she did so everyday.
As she reached the first floor exit, police burst through the apartment entrance. She shrunk into a darkened doorway as they charged past and up the stairs, then she slipped out the door unnoticed. Outside, chaos reigned.
Not wanting to draw attention, she mingled among the gathering crowd, slowly making her way to the alley where she’d parked her dad’s brown Buick. Julie climbed behind the wheel and with an unsteady hand turned the key. The old beast shuddered to life. She rammed the gearshift into place and headed out of town.

With hot tears streaming down her cheeks, she left Mulsboro, Ohio behind without looking back.