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By Carolyn Arnold
#2 EXCERPT FROM DEADLY IMPULSE, Chapter 3:
Her phone vibrated, notifying her of a text message. It was from Cynthia. Richards booked the autopsy for first thing the next morning. Madison shared this information with Terry, and although he nodded, his eyes seemed distant—a common occurrence these days.
Doctors had told Terry and Annabelle that their baby could be born with spina bifida, but they strived to stay positive.
“Are you thinking about the baby?” Madison asked.
“I’m thinking of him, yes.” He gave her a slick smile. Despite ultrasounds not revealing the baby’s sex, Terry was convinced it was a boy.
“How is Annabelle these days?”
“She’s excited, nervous. She wants him out.” He laughed, but the expression quickly deflated.
“Good. And I bet.” Madison was thirty-five and didn’t have a mothering bone in her body. If she thought pregnancy through to birth—all the bodily fluids and the blood—it made her squeamish and just sealed the fact she would likely never have a family.
“So if you get to ask about my life…” he teased.
“Oh, no, you don’t. My relationship with Matthews is off the table.”
“Matthews? Sounds rather formal and cold.”
Troy Matthews was head of SWAT for Stiles PD. She’d known him for years, but it wasn’t until a recent case that their friendship had turned into something more. Despite her initial resistance, some things cannot be stopped. The draw she had to him was one such thing. He was an alpha male and, as such, attracted women in droves. He was into working out and ripped. But he was serious-minded and interested solely in her—or so he kept trying to convince her.
Madison took a deep breath thinking back to last night—their bodies entangled, moving together… She had to wish the images from her mind. At least for right now. They were on a case.
“I can tell by the flush of your cheeks, things are heating up.”
“Oh, shut up.” She punched him in the shoulder and then smirked. Her relationship with Terry would never change. He was like the younger brother she’d never had.
“By the way, you’re looking good these days,” he added.
She narrowed her eyes, tempted to punch him again.
“What?” He lifted his shoulders, hands palms out toward her. “I just noticed. I thought women liked this type of acknowledgment.”
But she wasn’t “most women.” She wasn’t worried about what men thought of her. After being betrayed by her fiancé in her early twenties, she’d been somewhat bitter for the better part of a decade now. It didn’t help that he—Toby Sovereign—was also a detective and currently working with Stiles PD. The greatest tragedy was how she held what he had done to her against all men who had entered her life—up until now. She still dated, of course, but she never allowed anyone to get too close. No, her heart was hers and hers alone. With that state of mind, though, the loneliness was also hers alone. She had both Cynthia and Terry to thank for helping her to see that life was too short to sit around and mope. Even Troy deserved some of the credit.
“You must be working out,” Terry said, breaking her train of thought. “Does Troy have you on a program?” Terry snickered, evidently amused with his innuendo.
“Would you just—”
The elevator dinged, interrupting as it announced their arrival on the second floor.
She stepped out first. Not that she’d admit it to Terry, master of the treadmill, who ran ten miles every morning, but she was exercising. And eating healthier. Before her shifts, she’d walk Hershey, her chocolate lab, at a brisk pace for an hour. Thanks to the obedience classes she was able to fit in every other Saturday, he was a pleasure to walk. She had started with one block and kept building herself up.
She hated to concede that the new lifestyle had anything to do with Matthews—Troy. She still slipped sometimes, but it was beginning to get easier to refer to him by first name. She was doomed. Whenever she sensed the trepidation setting in, the hesitancy over accepting their relationship, she’d blurt out Matthews to establish focus again.
But life had taken her through a lot in recent months. She had almost died at the hands of the Russian Mafia and came close to being raped by one of them, too. Faced with the muzzle of a revolver to her head, she had promised herself that she would forgive past hurts and try to love again with a full heart. The latter was really tough. It equated to vulnerability, the very thing she always did her best to avoid.
#3 EXCERPT FROM DEADLY IMPULSE, Chapter 9:
I CAN’T MOVE MY WRISTS. The smell of blood is up my nose, in my mouth. The shadows looming in the corners shift and transform.
Anatolli emerges, holding a revolver.
My heart is beating like a piston, and my breath is labored as I struggle against the restraints.
He’s coming closer and there’s nothing I can do.
My head is locked in place, the clasp around my neck limiting my range of motion.
He’s pulling on my hair, yanking it so hard my vision goes to pinpricks of red with flashes of white.
“You are going to die.” His spittle mists my face, and he lowers to look me in the eye. But it is no longer Anatolli. It’s Constantine.
Madison jolted awake and bounded from her bed. Hershey let out a startled bark. He must have been dreaming, too. Madison hoped he’d been running through a field or eating a bone—something peaceful.
Hershey stretched out, worming his way to the edge of the mattress.
She rubbed his fur, waiting for her heartbeat to calm down. “It was a nightmare, that’s all.”
Was that all? It was so vivid. Her visceral reactions to the images were so real. She knew these men were dead, but Constantine was still alive, out there somewhere. And the simple fact remained that she had upset the Russians and there would be consequences.
Really, it was surprising that they had let her live as long as they had. Dimitre Petrov must have derived more pleasure from toying with and manipulating her than killing her.
She sat down on her bed, reality hitting her. The Russians would have tired of playing games. When they came for her next, they would be coming to kill her. Oddly, she found herself hoping they’d torture her first so she could find a window to escape. And if she got the chance, she’d shoot to kill this time.
Her breathing slowed. But would that be enough? The Russians would just substitute Constantine’s face for that of another hired killer—plenty volunteered their services for blood money.
And while Constantine was likely out of the country, this left her with another ally of the Russians—the former police chief, Patrick McAlexandar. The fact that he had relinquished his post at the police department and was staying out of the media spotlight these days did little to change her opinion of his guilt.
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