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Authors: Erica Abbott

Tags: #Fiction, #Lesbian, #Romance, #Suspense, #Thrillers

Acquainted With the Night

BOOK: Acquainted With the Night
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Table of Contents

Cover

Title Page

Copyright Page

Other Books by Erica Abbott

Acknowledgments

About the Author

Dedication

Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Bella Books

Copyright © 2014 by Erica Abbott

 

Bella Books, Inc.

P.O. Box 10543

Tallahassee, FL 32302

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, without permission in writing from the publisher.

 

First Bella Books Edition 2014

eBook released 2014

 

Editor: Katherine V. Forrest

Cover Designer: Judith Fellows

 

ISBN: 978-1-59493-404-9

 

PUBLISHER’S NOTE

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

Other Books by Erica Abbott

Certain Dark Things

Fragmentary Blue

One Fine Day

Acknowledgments

My deepest thanks goes to my wonderful family and friends for their continued love and support. I would like to especially thank my niece and nephew for some helpful late night discussions on writing and the nature of art. I am also grateful to several fellow Bella authors for their helpful advice and friendship.

Thank you to my readers for their support and the many kind words I have received about this series of books about Alex & CJ.

Everyone at Bella Books has made the evolving process of becoming an author a pleasure. My thanks especially to my publisher Linda Hill and to Karin Kallmaker, Bella editorial director, for her friendship and her advice.

To my editors Katherine V. Forrest and Cath Walker, my thanks for their thoughtful critiques, sharp eyes, and the continuing discussion concerning the proper use of the comma.

Finally, to Kathryn, I am forever grateful.

About the Author

Erica Abbott was born and raised in the Midwest, and is a graduate of the University of Denver. She has been a government lawyer and prosecutor, a college professor, sung mezzo-soprano on stage, and played first base on the diamond. She likes dogs, cats, music of all kinds, and playing bridge. She also has a love/hate relationship with golf. She lives near Denver, Colorado. This is her fourth novel.

Dedication

To my love, always and forever

Prologue

The night was endless.

During the day the sunshine and doing things made it seem as if she were living a real life. She would talk to people and they would talk to her and she would work. The next day the sun would rise again and she could pretend that it was supposed to be like this all the time.

She knew she was only fooling herself, but it was all she had. So every day she would get up and go to work and smile and keep pretending.

But then night would fall and she was alone. The darkness opened over her like a black umbrella at a funeral.

She had never noticed how long night could be. During the day the hours advanced steadily, things to do, appointments to keep. At night time seemed to stop moving, no longer marching forward but swirling back and forth in a black and tortured chasm. She would sit awake looking out at the night, wondering if she would be there when the sun rose the next morning. At night she was only herself, with the pain and the grief and the aching abyss of her loneliness.

The night was endless.

Chapter One

It was drizzling an intermittent March rain as Alex Ryan ran to her truck after the school meeting. Almost all the other cars were gone from the parking lot, as she had stayed late to answer all the questions from those who had been reluctant to ask them during the meeting itself. As the Captain in charge of the Detective Squad, school safety was hardly her specialty, but she’d studied up on the initiatives enough to give a presentation as the Colfax Police Chief’s representative.

She slid into the leather seat of her SUV and punched the heater on low. The interior would warm quickly, a benefit of the expensive vehicle, a gift from her partner CJ St. Clair for Alex’s fortieth birthday. CJ, casual about money in a way only a woman with a trust fund could be, had actually suggested replacing it with a new one this year. Alex remembered arguing against it. “Just because you change cars every two years doesn’t mean I have to,” she’d told CJ.

CJ had responded, “I’ll make you a deal. I’ll wait until next year to buy you a new one if you promise not to try to talk me out of it then.”

“CJ, sweetheart, I do not want you to keep buying me new cars.”

“It’s for my benefit, too,” CJ asserted. “I have to ride in it half the time. And besides, I have a vested interest in keeping you as safe as possible. If you’ll recall, when I met you, you were driving a ten-year-old truck that had no passenger airbag and no anti-lock brakes.”

Alex couldn’t argue with that. She did appreciate that this sleek black model had six airbags and traction control. She clicked her seat belt into place and pulled out of the lot. When she had safely merged onto I-225 headed south, she used her Bluetooth link to call CJ at their condo.

“Hi, darlin’,” CJ answered.

“You obviously got home from the party all right.”

“I left not long after you did. How did your presentation go?”

“Fine. Fortunately, no one asked me a question I couldn’t answer. Chief Wylie owes me big-time for this one.”

“Enough for a three-day weekend, do you think?”

“I imagine so. What did you have in mind?”

“Nothing in particular. Glenwood Springs, maybe? A little soaking in the hot springs, a little walking around in the mountains, a lot of sleeping in.”

“Hmm,” Alex pretended to consider. “Sounds dull. Maybe Vivien was right. We are getting to be a boring married couple.”

“Do not start agreeing with her!” CJ exclaimed. “There’s nothing boring about us. My other thoughts about the weekend are too lurid to communicate in a telephone call.”

“Lurid is good,” Alex remarked, changing lanes back to the right after passing a slow-moving pickup, the driver apparently freaked out by the wet highway. “Say more.”

“You want me to talk dirty to you while you’re driving at fifty-five miles an hour?” Alex heard the amusement in her voice.

“I’m considering the pros and cons,” Alex said. “I guess I can wait twenty minutes. I just passed Parker Road, so I’ll be home in…what the hell?”

“What?”

Alex glared at the bright lights in her rearview mirror, approaching fast in the left lane. “An idiot driver,” Alex said tersely. “Going eighty, at least.”

“Alex,” CJ said warningly. “Do not try anything. I don’t care if you’re in uniform. You’re in your own car and out of your jurisdiction.”

“Thanks for the reminder, Lieutenant. I…”

The driver reached Alex’s truck, then pulled just ahead, still in the left lane. Alex saw the brake lights, bright as rubies reflecting against the rain-slicked concrete.

“What the hell?” Alex muttered again. It was far too dark for the driver to see that she was in uniform, so the sudden braking didn’t make sense…

“Alex?” CJ asked sharply in her ear.

The driver cut over in front of her abruptly, clipping Alex’s front bumper. Alex tried to brake and turn the wheel away from the car at the same time, but her tires couldn’t hold the pavement. In the next second her SUV sailed off the road, and Alex’s world spun out of control.

Chapter Two

Many times over the past three years, CJ had consciously paused to fix a memory of Alex in her mind’s eye, taking an internal snapshot to freeze the image of her partner, so that she could later take the good memories out and look at them if she was lonely or troubled. Alex propped up on their couch, reading, bare feet touching CJ’s calves. A sudden smile at tasting something CJ had made for her in the kitchen. Her forehead wrinkled in concentration when CJ entered her office unawares. The sight of her blue eyes first thing in the morning, bringing color to CJ’s world again.

Now CJ’s eyes were taking pictures she didn’t want to have, memories being etched like acid on her mind. Flashing blue and red lights on the shoulder of the highway, visible from a mile away as she approached from the other side. The cluster of highway patrol, sheriff’s vehicles, paramedics and a fire truck gathered untidily on the pavement or pulled onto the grass.

She turned illegally across the median and got as close as she could. When she ran out of her car, her mind took the worst picture: Alex’s SUV lying at the bottom of the embankment, the roof half crushed from the vehicle rolling over, the terrible gashes in the grass, like scars.

Oh, God, a rollover.
She’d been sheriff’s deputy for eight years before joining the Internal Affairs Division of the Colfax Police Department, and she’d seen more fatal car rollovers than she could remember.

There were people gathered down around the vehicle, and many more up on the shoulder. She wanted to turn and scream at all of them to get down there and help, to get Alex out of that goddamned car.

One of the men in uniform broke away and approached her. CJ wanted him to come and tell her to go away so that she could yell at him that she had to be there, that it was her life lying trapped down there in the twisted metal and broken glass.

“CJ St. Clair,” the man said, and she recognized him, an old acquaintance from her days at the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s office. “What are you doing here?”

“I was on the phone with her, and I heard…I called it in. She’s…we’re…” She couldn’t form a coherent thought, much less a coherent sentence.

“Detective,” he said gently, using her former rank, and she remembered his name was Bernard something, Bernie.

“She’s my partner,” she managed, then realizing he would misunderstand, she choked out, “We’re married. Is she…”

There was no way to say the words aloud, no reality in which she would survive hearing the wrong answer to the question she couldn’t ask.

Bernie said, “They’re trying to get her out. She’s alive, I think.”

I think.
She didn’t know whether to fall into his arms weeping with gratitude or pound against his chest in anger for his uncertainty. She started down the hill.

He grabbed her arm. “Don’t.”

It gave her the excuse she wanted to scream. “Don’t you tell me what to do!”

He took her other arm and hauled back her up, saying, “Detective, you have to stay here and let them work. You can’t help, you’ll just be in the way.”

She tore her arms away from him, but knew he was right and hated him for it. “I’m sorry,” she panted. “I’m sorry, Bernie, I just can’t…”

“It’s okay,” he said. “Stay here and think good thoughts. She was wearing her seat belt, they said, and the airbags deployed. It’s a big, heavy car, she could be okay.”

BOOK: Acquainted With the Night
12.37Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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