Most of you know my preferred genre is adult romance, but in this my newest project, I stepped out of the box to try my hand at something different.
Dead and Alive is a paranormal/romance aimed at the NA market. Here’s your tease for the week.
Cassidy James, recent graduate and summer intern at the Newburg Police Department, turned slightly green as she stared at the corpse on the examination table. Special agent Steve Williams, a member of the new Unusual Crimes Task Force, a group put together ten months ago when the strange, inexplicable murders had started in Newburg, moved in for a closer look. Chief Medical Examiner, Max Landry, stood on the other side of the body, clipboard in hand, as he relayed the information from the autopsy.
“This is one for the books, Steve. I know we have had a lot of weird ones in the last year, but I have never seen anything like this. The cause of death is blunt force trauma to the back of the head, but everything else you see was inflicted post-mortem.”
Steve looked back at Cassidy, her eyes were focused on the corpse, and he saw her shudder. She looked like she was ready to give up her two burrito lunch. He doubted six weeks at Police Academy had prepared her for this. He suspected nothing in the mortal world would prepare any of them for what he was afraid had come.
He reached out his arm to steady her, and tried not to react to the sensations pounding through his blood stream that being this close to Cassidy always caused. After working closely with her for the past six weeks, maintaining his professionalism was becoming more and more difficult, and he knew that, sooner rather than later, he would have to do something about it.
He knew she wasn’t immune to him; even now she was struggling to control her response to his touch, but he had an unfair advantage; he knew just how affected she was. The code stated that he couldn’t do anything about it until she knew and understood everything. The connection between them needed to be acknowledged before he died from need.
He cleared his throat, tried not to focus on her scent, a mixture of musk and vanilla, a sweet mixture of pheromones more potent at the moment than the stench of the rotting carcass, moved closer to the body, and addressed the coroner. “So, just how much damage are we talking?”
“As you can see, the body was decapitated, probably by a shovel judging by the ragged cut, but what you don’t see is that there was a stone in his mouth.” He handed him a smooth rock in a plastic bag and he passed it to Cassidy.
“I can’t even speculate on the reason for that, but maybe you can get something from the rock – prints or DNA – although I don’t know if it will help.” He shook his head and continued.
“The chest cavity was opened with a sharp knife, but not by someone with any medical training, and the heart was removed – it’s missing by the way. His hands have been gnawed on by something, don’t ask me what because I don’t know, and finally, there are a dozen sharp needles pounded into the soles of his feet. Talk about overkill. Now, here is where it gets really strange; according to the amount of blood at the scene, I would have said the guy was a fresh kill, but the discoloration of the body doesn’t fit that. At first, I thought it was pretty severe post-mortem bruising, but I would say judging from the decomposition in the organs, that your man has been dead at least a year.”
Cassidy snorted. “No way! A year; that’s impossible.”
Steve shook his head motioning her to be quiet.
Frowning, Max glared at her and hunched his shoulders in that ‘how the hell should I know’ way, and continued.
“I’m not finished. There was considerable dirt embedded in the skin of his arms and face, as if he had been buried without a coffin, and when I checked the contents of his stomach, that’s routine in any autopsy, it was full of fresh blood and human tissue. As ridiculous as it sounds, I think we are looking at a demon of some sort.”
Cassidy let out an uncomfortable laugh. “Come on, Dr. Landry. Quit pulling my leg. Now I know there have been some strange deaths and disappearances around here lately, but you can’t possibly be serious. You’re a doctor, a scientist; demons, vampires and shape shifters exist only in the imaginations of writers; you’ve been watching too much television.”
“I have no other explanation, Cassidy. Things just don’t add up. Think about it – last month we had those two teens, both of whom had bled out from having their throats ripped open; the month before, we had three vagrants all partially eaten by some sort of animal that no one, not even the geniuses at the university can identify, and by the way these bite marks look a lot like those. Add to that the bizarre disease last spring that killed everyone on that farm outside of town and the unusual putrefaction of the bodies that the CDC is still trying to figure out, and the missing persons who seem to have vanished into thin air, and I just don’t have a logical reason. Why not a vampire a werewolf, or a demon? Nothing about these crimes is normal, and you know what Sherlock Holmes would say, if you rule out all the probable causes, then the improbable has to be true.”
“But demons, sir?” Cassidy turned to Steve. “Agent Williams, you’re with the UCTF, and you’re very quiet right now. Don’t tell me you buy this supernatural crap, or do you have another explanation? One that might make a heck of a lot more sense.”
Steve ignored Cass for the moment and turned to the M.E. Everything that Max had said confirmed his theory. The doctor was close, closer than he knew, but Steve had no idea how he would explain this to Cassidy any more than he knew how to tell her who and what he was without scaring away the one person who suddenly was as important to him as the air he breathed.
“Thanks, Doc. Will you send that tissue and blood to the lab for analysis? If we can identify it, we’ll have a better handle on all this.” He turned to Cassidy. “Let’s go back to the crime scene. I want to take a closer look at it. Maybe we can find something that will help make sense of all this.”
“Alright, but the Captain sent the forensic team there earlier and they would have been all over the place; I doubt there is anything left to find.”
“Humor me,” he said.
The thought of spending time alone with Cassidy was both thrilling and frightening. She made him feel things he had never felt before, want things he had never wanted, and from the erotic dreams he had been having about her lately, behave as he had never behaved. He wasn’t without experience, but he’d never felt like this about any female before. From her heightened color and heavier breathing, he suspected that she might be sensing the tail end of his thoughts.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of this week’s teases: