Happy Wednesday people! Fiona and I are so excited about our next submission! The lovely, Mary Waibel from over at Waibel's World, has dropped off her MC, and we're hoping you'll let her know if she's hook-up-able or not??? The MC, not Mary. Mary's really married, so don't get any ideas. As for her MC, I say Heck to the YES! Honestly, I found myself wanting to hold Mary's MC after reading this excerpt. But I'm slightly biased, considering Mary is one of my CP's and I love her already. But you can be the judge. Be brutally honest. CP's are one of the most important parts of the writing process. Their encouragement, and second set of eyes, are simply invaluable. But honesty is key. We can't fix things unless we know they're broken. I know this personally. If my WIP ever sees the light of day, it will be because of my CP's and the butt kicking they were willing to give me from time to time. So fire away. And thank you for participating!
ANGEL OF JUSTICE
By: Mary Waibel
Tapping my foot in time with the rock tune playing from the clock radio, I tucked the phone between my shoulder and ear and pushed through the clothes hanging in my closet, searching for the perfect outfit.
“Yes, I'll be ready on time, Liz. You ever know me to be late?”
“No, you're always on time.” Liz laughed across the line. “Remember, there's always a first for everything, Danielle.”
“Not this time.” I smiled as I pulled out a short, raspberry-pink skirt. Digging through my tops, I found a sexy, yet modest, black tank top. “There's no way I'm going to be late for my first girls night out.”
“What did your parents say?”
“Have fun. Be responsible. You know.” I shrugged and tossed the clothes on the bed.
Turning to my vanity, I picked through the bottles of perfume, looking for a scent that said sexy, yet fun.
“Yeah, the usual parent advice. What are they and Shawn doing tonight?”
“They're going to dinner and a ball game.” I made a face in the mirror as I pulled the elastic out of my hair, the long, caramel tresses tumbling over my shoulder. “Up or down?”
“My hair. Up or down?”
“Down. Definitely. With hair like yours, I don't see why you ever put it up.”
“Because if I leave it down, it hangs in my face while I'm studying.”
“Well, you won't be studying tonight, so leave it down.”
I ran a brush through my hair and was just about to hang up the phone when a chime pealed through the empty house. Groaning, I looked at my clock. The bright red numbers read five thirty.
“Amy's half an hour early.” I dashed out of my room. “Hang on while I let her in.”
I ran down the stairs and into the living room, my steps faltering as I stared at the man standing on the other side of the glass door.
“It's not Amy. It's a cop.”
“Make sure you ask for his badge, it could be a fake.”
A chill danced down my spine at Liz's warning. Why would a cop be here? Most likely he was lost, mixing up the house numbers. Brushing the odd fears aside, I fumbled with the lock, opening the door a crack, the phone still at my ear.
“Can I help you?”
“Miss Church? I'm Investigator Smith from the Hudson City Police Department.” He held his badge out against the glass. “May I come in?”
“Just a minute, please.” I pushed the door shut and spoke into the phone. “Liz, does your dad know an Investigator Smith?”
“Hang on a second.”
My heart pounded while I waited for Liz's answer, unsure whether I wanted the officer to be legitimate or not. It wasn't like I'd done anything wrong, and there was no way my parent's would have, so what could he possibly want?
“Dani? Dad said if he has bright red hair and green eyes, he's legit. You want me to hang up?”
“No. Give me a minute to see what he wants. I'd feel better knowing you can get help if I need it.”
I opened the door and motioned the officer to come in to the entryway.
“Sorry, I just needed to ask my friend about you.” I twisted a strand of hair around my finger.
His eyebrows rose in surprise. “Actually, that's a good thing to do. How did you know I was for real?”
“Her father's description of you.”
“Mmm hmm. Mr. Powers. He's an attorney.”
“Ah, yes. I know Mark.” He smiled for a moment, then his lips turned down, a look of seriousness taking its place. “Maybe you should have him come over before we talk.”
My stomach jumped. What could he possibly want to talk to me about that would require an attorney?
“Umm. Sure. Let me see if he can.” I lifted the receiver up. “Liz? Can your dad come over? The Investigator wants him here.”
“What'd you do?” Liz asked, giggling. “We'll be right over.”
“Okay. Thanks.” I clicked the phone off and waived a hand toward the living room. “They'll be right over. You can have a seat while we wait.”
He perched on the edge of the couch, hands dangling between his knees. I hovered in the doorway, wringing my hands, uncertain what to do. Fortunately, my wait was short. Liz lived just across the street, and in minutes, she and her dad were knocking at the door.
“Hi, Dani. What seems to be the problem?” Mr. Powers asked as I opened the door.
“I'm not sure, Mr. Powers. Investigator Smith wanted you to be here before he would say anything.”
Mr. Powers walked into the living room and held out a hand. “James. Good to see you. What brings you to our neighborhood on this lovely day?”
“I'm afraid it isn't anything good, Mark.”
I sat on the couch beside Liz, linking my arm through hers. “I swear I didn't do anything wrong.”
“I know,” the Investigator said. “I'm here because I have bad news.”
“What is it?”
“There was a . . . bombing today at a local bank.”
“I heard about that at lunch. It was quite terrible,” Mr. Powers said. “But what does that have to do with Dani? I mean, I realize she's a gifted student, finishing her second year of college at eighteen, but she isn't a criminal mastermind.”
“Miss Church isn't a subject of the investigation,” Investigator Smith said.
I shivered at the strained tone in his voice. “What? Do you think my brother did it?”
“No.” He leaned forward, and I shifted away, fighting a sudden desire to close my eyes and shield myself from what he was about to say. “Miss Church, your parents and brother were at the bank when the bomb went off.” He paused and looked me in the eye. “I am so sorry, but they didn't survive.”
I stared at him, but saw nothing. Heard nothing. The room began to dim, and I was vaguely aware of Liz holding me, her father rushing to my side, pushing my head between my knees and telling me to breathe.
My body shuddered as I took a deep breath. I shook my head, tears streaming down my face.
“No. That isn't possible. They can't be gone.” I looked at Liz. “What am I going to do? This is all my fault. I should have been with them.”
“No, Dani,” Liz said, framing my face with her hands, forcing me to look at her. “This is not your fault. You didn't do anything.”
I nodded, my face crumbling as a sob wailed up from deep inside. She pulled me close, holding me as I wept until the tears dried up and there was nothing left.
What seemed like a lifetime later, we wandered up to my room where I sat on my bed while Liz put clothes in my overnight bag. I heard a knock on the door to my room and looked up, tears coming again as I looked into the eyes of Liz's brother Jake.
“Dani, I'm so sorry,” he said as he crouched before me.
I swiped a hand over my cheek and whispered, “I know.”
He squeezed my hand then stood and looked at Liz. “All set?” She nodded. “Here, let me take that.”
He shouldered the bag, then held out a hand to me. I stared at it for a moment, then took it and stood, the room spinning slightly. Jake wrapped an arm around my waist, and I leaned into him.
“I got you.”
Together we made our way out of my house and across the street to theirs. Liz took over, ushering me into her room and tucking me into bed as though I were a sick child. I closed my eyes, my fingers clenching the bedspread she had pulled over me. This was the beginning of my worst nightmare.