By Gae-Lynn Woods
Book 2 in the Cass Elliot Crime Series
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THE QUIET MAN IN the cowboy hat walked down the hospital’s corridor, nose twitching at the stinging antiseptic scent. With barely a glance, a janitor pushing a floor buffer moved the whirring machine from his path. Hitch carried on, golden eyes watchful.
It was nearing midnight. Visiting hours were long over and the nurses were updating reports and watching the late news. The police guard stationed outside Detective Cass Elliot’s room had either been reassigned or was on a break. Either way, Hitch was grateful. He peered in the window of one room; the bed was empty. In the next, a man put his fishing magazine down and struggled to reposition himself, fighting his leg cast and the apparatus that held it suspended.
Hitch moved on, seeking the flame-headed woman. The old man had sent him to the emergency room to hear firsthand what had happened out at the little farmhouse. It had taken several hours for an accurate picture to emerge of who was alive and who was dead. Hitch had stayed in and around the ER waiting room eavesdropping, trading one tattered magazine for another, drifting through the clusters of officers and the few reporters, and sipping dreadful coffee until the information flow stabilized and repeated itself.
Once people began drifting away, Hitch stepped outside and called the old man. After Hitch delivered his update, the old man’s pipe clacked against his teeth in a way that Hitch had come to recognize as satisfaction. He allowed himself a brief moment to wonder why the old man was so interested in these people, and then pushed the thought away. The old man told him to head home, that his work was done for the night.
But Hitch hadn’t left. Instead, he’d waited and watched until the last of them had gone. A nurse stopped by occasionally to ask if he needed anything, and he would shake his head with a smile. It was only now, when the hospital was as silent as hospitals ever got, that he looked for her. It was a compulsion he didn’t understand or question. Hitch simply needed to find her.
He checked the last two rooms, then turned and walked back along his path on the opposite side of the hall. He found Detective Elliot three doors down. A lamp shone from one corner, its outer edges providing scant illumination. But it was enough. She was sleeping, deeply from the look of her breathing. Hitch checked the hall and then pushed into her room, crossing silently to the bed.
Her red hair was a dark mass against the white pillowcase, lustrous in the low light. Her skin was pale but her features were peaceful despite the bandage near her eye, and her long lashes lay like soft wings against her cheeks. A corner of gauze was visible from beneath the sheet and Hitch was filled with an intense longing, an emotion he had never felt before. It made him want to cradle this woman, this stranger, in his arms. To offer healing, protection. Reaching out a finger, he stroked her cheek. She frowned and her mouth twitched.
Squeaking footsteps hurried past and Hitch stole to the door, peeking through the window and checking the corridor. It was empty. He turned back to the beautiful detective and wondered why she attracted him so. He allowed his gaze to travel over her features one last time, then Hitch settled his hat on his head and trod quietly to the exit.
His thoughts were troubled as he moved across the quiet parking lot. Detective Elliot was the one who had uncovered the old man’s cult back in the spring, and she had enough tenacity that without the break due to her suspension from the force, he suspected she would have found him. The old man wasn’t done with Hitch and his unique gifts, and therefore he would cross paths with this woman again.
The old pickup’s engine purred to life and Hitched slipped onto Forney County’s dark back roads. With the sensation of longing still strong in his heart, he gazed through the windshield up at the sparkling sky, and wished upon a star that he wouldn’t have to kill her.
About Avengers of Blood
A deadly game of cat and mouse is playing out in Forney County…
Detective Cass Elliot is still on suspension after killing a fellow officer and Sheriff Hoffner refuses to sign her release papers. But when four people are murdered in one night, one with the exceptional brutality of a lynching, the Medical Examiner side-steps Hoffner to hire Cass and loan her to Forney County’s overstretched police department.
As Cass and her partner investigate, they realize that three of the murders were committed by the same person but find no connection between the victims. Their frustration intensifies when another victim survives and disappears instead of coming to the police.
Sheriff Hoffner is frantic about anonymous letters claiming one of his star officers is dirty, and Cass suspects a link to the current crimes. The pieces fall together when she uncovers the true identity of the man who was lynched, revealing connections between the victims, the killer, and an unpunished crime committed nearly fifty years ago.
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Is vengeance ever justified when the legal system fails?
About the author
Gae-Lynn Woods is a Texan who has traveled the world, lived overseas, and come back home. She and her husband, British jazz guitarist Martyn Popey, share a ranch in East Texas with a herd of Black Angus cattle, one very cranky donkey, and The Dude, a rescue kitty with attitude.
Gae-Lynn writes the Cass Elliot Crime Series. When she’s not playing the roadie, tending to cows, fixing fence, or digging post holes, Gae-Lynn is working on the next Cass Elliot novel and the next Companion Novel featuring Maxine Leverman, Cass’ best friend, who makes her debut in Avengers of Blood.
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