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Authors: J.S. Cook

Oasis of Night

BOOK: Oasis of Night
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Readers love

J.S. C
OOK

The Quality of Mercy

“This is a short and sweet story with a bit of mystery, a little suspense, tossed into a snowstorm.”

—MM Good Book Reviews

“JS Cook delivers with skilled, vivid, evocative writing that pulled me right in, had me reading to the end, and left me very moved.”

—It's About the Book

Famous Last Words

“Short, Sexy, and Steamy, that is what this book was.”

—MM Good Book reviews

A Little Night Murder

“...a wonderful noir-style read, perfect for a rainy afternoon.”

—Romancing the Book

Come to Dust

“Dark and intense, J.S. Cook will have you guessing until the very end.”

—Sensual Reads

By
J.S. C
OOK

But Not For Me

Come to Dust

Famous Last Words

A Little Night Murder

The Lovely Beast

Oasis of Night

The Quality of Mercy

Sixteen Songs About Regret

The Stranger at My Door

Valley of the Dead

The Winter Dark

Published by
D
REAMSPINNER
P
RESS

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com

Copyright

Published by

D
REAMSPINNER
P
RESS

5032 Capital Circle SW, Suite 2, PMB# 279, Tallahassee, FL 32305-7886  USA

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of author imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Oasis of Night

© 2015 J.S. Cook.

Cover Art

© 2015 Maria Fanning.

Cover content is for illustrative purposes only and any person depicted on the cover is a model.

All rights reserved. This book is licensed to the original purchaser only. Duplication or distribution via any means is illegal and a violation of international copyright law, subject to criminal prosecution and upon conviction, fines, and/or imprisonment. Any eBook format cannot be legally loaned or given to others. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law. To request permission and all other inquiries, contact Dreamspinner Press, 5032 Capital Circle SW, Suite 2, PMB# 279, Tallahassee, FL 32305-7886, USA, or http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/.

ISBN: 978-1-63476-132-1

Digital ISBN: 978-1-63476-133-8

Library of Congress Control Number: 2015905071

Second Edition June 2015

First Edition of Valley of the Dead published by Dreamspinner Press, 2013.

First Edition of Heartache Café published by MLR Press, 2009.

Printed in the United States of America

This paper meets the requirements of

ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992 (Permanence of Paper).

To my husband, Paul: Don't let the bastards grind you down.

Acknowledgments

 

M
ANY
THANKS
to Tricia, Linda, and Anastasia for their editorial expertise, and Sue and Camiele for making it look pretty.

Thanks to Elizabeth, and to Paul and Janet for the cover art.

Heartache Café
Prologue

 

 

I
T
WAS
freezing cold, with an icy wind out of the northwest and snowflakes swirling in the gusts—the kind of day that made you want to find someplace warm and stay there. I still don't know how I got where I was. I don't remember all that much about it, only the minor details, a few things here and there. It was like I'd been afflicted with some strange sort of amnesia. I'd been up all night—hell, I'd been up the past few nights, going over and over things in my mind, trying to make it come out different, but it never would. No matter what I did, it wasn't going to change, and for the rest of my life, I'd see it every time I closed my eyes.

My discharge papers lay where I'd tossed them, next to the empty whisky bottle and the ash tray overflowing with cigarette butts on the coffee table in the squalid little living room that sat to one side of the kitchen. I didn't have to read them to know what was written there; I'd always known it, just like I knew that I had brown eyes and brown hair, that I tended to put on weight around my gut and had to watch it, and that I couldn't play football worth a damn but I could drink my weight in whisky, no questions asked.

It hardly even mattered anymore. I finally had my fill, and when it got light enough to see, I got in my car and drove—anywhere, it didn't matter, and it wasn't like I had any of it planned. Maybe I'd just drive into the Delaware, or maybe find a nice dead-end street and ram my car into a cement wall—anything to make the pain stop, to get the goddamn voices and the pictures out of my head.

There was a smell in my nostrils, the ashy scent of something burning, or maybe it was blood. I'd been somewhere, somewhere else, and there was a woman there, and we'd had words.

I'll tell everyone you forced me. I'll tell everyone you raped me. You'd better help me or I will.

He wasn't even a doctor, not really. Maybe he'd been one once, but he'd long since lost his license and no longer had the right to even hang a sign. I drove her there and wanted to go in with her, but she wouldn't have it.

Let's not make this any harder than it has to be, okay, Jack?

So I waited in the car, but it seemed to take an awful long time, and while I was waiting, I had a little drink, just to pass the time. I had a drink, and then another one, and what the hell, I might as well finish the bottle, so I did. And then I fell asleep.

I fell asleep.

It was dark when I woke up, and the face looking back at me from the rearview mirror had a five o'clock shadow and then some. A little warning voice in the back of my brain told me this was bad, this was really bad, this was worse than anything, and maybe I shouldn't get out of the car, maybe I should just call the cops.

I didn't listen. I never do. I went up that filthy, stinking little alley and opened his office door, but I was much too late, and he was gone.

There was blood everywhere.

I stopped my car just before the bridge and walked on. The sun was rising, the first rays creeping over the city a little at a time. I looked up at the great steel span of the bridge and began to climb. The cables cut into my bare hands, and I was almost weeping with the cold, but I kept climbing. I'd climb so far that it would never touch me. I'd climb until I could forget that awful little room and the stink of blood and all the rest of this sordid mess. I'd climb up till I was free.

I stood there looking down into the icy water, wondering if the drop would be enough to kill me or if I'd drown first or die of cold. I saw the weirdest thing, a small sailboat coming down the river. A ridiculous little thing, no bigger than a minute, sailing down the Delaware like it had every right to be there and then some. I thought about pictures I'd seen of graceful feluccas
on the Nile River in Egypt, and as I watched the little boat tacking into the wind, something occurred to me.

I climbed down off the bridge, walked to where my car was parked, and drove away.

Chapter 1

BOOK: Oasis of Night
3.56Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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