Snippet Sunday 03.08.15 - The End

This week's snippet comes from my romantic suspense novel The End.

Sometimes the end is only the beginning.

Almost a year after her husband dies, Ellie Marston opens the file for Tab’s last manuscript, a thriller so compelling it reads like a true story. His manuscript needs an ending, so Ellie writes the obvious conclusion. The same morning she types The End, her career as an assistant district attorney falls apart. Accused of throwing the high profile Patterson case, she resigns in disgrace.

The only friend Ellie has left in the criminal justice system is Det. Paul Santiago, a man she has worked closely with on numerous cases. While she was married to Tab, she squashed her growing feelings for Paul, determined to make her deteriorating marriage work, but circumstances after Tab’s death draw Ellie and Paul closer.

Together Paul and Ellie attempt to uncover a conspiracy in the District Attorney’s office, the set up that forced her to resign. The key to the mystery is hidden in the pages of Tab’s manuscript. Paul and Ellie come to the correct conclusion—Tab’s manuscript is a true story and Ellie’s added ending is the only logical outcome. Danger swirls around them as they step further and further into the conspirator’s trap.

Here's the snippet:

I stuffed the last three queries into the box and turned to walk toward my front steps. That’s when I noticed the man hovering in the shadows outside the door to the vacant basement apartment in my building. He quickly extinguished his cigarette. Was he the same man who loitered near the light pole earlier? I quickened my pace, hoping to reach my front door before he made a move. If I could just get inside, the door would automatically lock behind me. I glanced up and down the street. No one was out except the man with the cigarette and me.

My fingers trembled as I inserted my key into the lock. A hand wrapped around my wrist and I spun to face him. Dark eyes stared at me. A nasty scar graced his upper lip. I gasped. A puzzled frown creased his mouth. He lifted a strand of my hair and studied it before he dropped it back onto my shoulder. “Red. No black roots.” His raspy voice twanged every one of my nerves.

I jerked my arm from his grasp and he stepped away from me. “What do you want?” Maybe he was one of those snoopy reporters, but he didn’t look the type. Media types usually didn’t wear leather jackets, and they didn’t mess with a woman’s hair. He seemed too much like a tough guy. I clung to my false hope anyhow. “I’m not answering any questions, so if you’re here to—”

“Take it easy.” He retreated another step. “I was looking for someone, but you’re not her. Your hair’s too short and too red. I’m looking for a tall woman with dark hair.” His cool smile sent a chill up and down my spine.

I wrapped my fingers around my wrist where the heat of his touch still warmed my skin. “Did you try the bar across the street?” My sarcasm rang in the night air.

He acted as if he was suppressing his amusement. “Sorry to bother you.” With those words, he disappeared into the night. Gone before I could catch another breath. I didn’t believe in coincidence. The man’s presence in my neighborhood just after Patterson was released from custody was significant. Obviously the freed jailbird had sent someone to stalk me or rattle me or both. He was too much of a coward to do his own dirty work.

What could I possibly know that would send Patterson back to jail? He couldn’t be retried under the old indictment. He’d have to be charged with another crime. But what?

My insides were still wobbly when I raced up the stairs and into my apartment. I leaned on the door, my hand pressed against my chest. In my bedroom, my cell phone vibrated with the ringtone I reserved just for Tab. I hadn’t heard that tone in a year. My heart nearly stopped beating.

It ceased ringing for a while and then began again. I stared in the direction of the noise, hoping to shut it off with a mean glare, but it continued its insistent summons. I took my time walking across the scarred wood flooring to my bedroom. The ringing stopped again and then began for a third time. Someone wanted my attention really bad. I wrung my hands in a vain effort to dispel some nervous energy. With a deep gulp of much-needed oxygen, I picked up the phone and answered.

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