Authors: John C. Dalglish
Tags: #Christian Books & Bibles, #Literature & Fiction, #Mystery & Suspense, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Mystery, #Cozy, #Religion & Spirituality, #Christian Fiction
John C. Dalglish
Other Clean Suspense Books
John C. Dalglish
WHERE’S MY SON?”
Det. Jason Strong -
Det. Jason Strong -
FOR MY BROTHER
Det. Jason Strong -
TIED TO MURDER
Det. Jason Strong - #5
ONE OF THEIR OWN
Det. Jason Strong - #6
Det. Jason Strong - #
And a new Christian Fantasy series
The Chaser Chronicles-#2
The Chaser Chronicles
Jim Nolan took a quick look at his watch. Nine-thirty, his shift ends in half an hour. The tall guy with surfer looks used the part-time job at the Circle K convenience store to scratch together just enough money for
him and Mandy to have a night out every once in a while. The job also paid for her ring.
Jim smiled to himself as he remembered asking Mandy for her hand in marriage.
He’d even got down on one knee. Mandy had done her best to look surprised, but she helped pick out the ring, and had known the proposal would be coming eventually.
He had one year of college left
, and the tiny apartment they shared took all the money from her job at Target.
Pulling his long, blonde ponytail back again, he re-
secured the rubber band as a customer came up to the counter. A tall woman with dark hair pulled up inside a hairnet, Jim knew her well.
, Tiffany. What are we playing tonight?”
was a cook at the nearby Denny’s. She came in every evening, on her way home, and got five or ten dollars in lottery tickets. Usually, she’d take the tickets and scratch them while standing off to the side of the counter. If she won, she’d cash the winners in right then and buy some more tickets.
“Oh, I don’t know.”
Her hand went to her mouth as she tried to decide and then pointed at the glass.
“Let’s play three ‘Lucky Sevens’
, three ‘Sevens are Wild’, and four of the ‘Highway 77’s.”
Jim tore the tickets off as she called them out
, and scanned them into the register.
“Ten bucks, lady. Sevens lucky for you tonight?”
“Sure, it’s July seventh!”
“Of course, I should’ve caught that.”
Tiffany handed over a ten-dollar bill and moved off to the side to scratch her tickets.
From the back of the store, Levi Anderson called out to Jim.
“Jim, you guys out of
couldn’t help but laugh. Levi was a retiree somewhere in his seventies, and couldn’t care one bit what folks thought of him.
“I’m not sure, Levi. Check the shelf on the back wall.”
The bell on the east door jangled, announcing an attractive brunette coming into the store. Jim didn’t remember seeing her before.
“Can I help you?”
Jim pointed to an opening in the west wall.
“Over there, between the coolers.”
Jim watched her walk toward the bathroom door. She was probably late twenties, with a nice figure, enhanced by short shorts and a tight t-shirt. Jim chastised himself for looking too long, and turned toward Tiffany as she walked up.
“Just two, free ticket and two bucks. Let me have three more of the ‘Lucky Sevens’ and I’ll have to go.”
Just as he pulled the three tickets loose, the door jangled again. This time it was the west door, and as Jim looked up, his heart started to pound.
“Get away from the counter, lady! You, ponytail, gimme the money in the register!”
didn’t see the man, just the gun. His eyes focused on the end of the barrel, large and black, almost expecting to see a bullet come at him in slow motion.
“Move! The money!”
Jim snapped out of his frozen stupor, and moved to the register as the man shoved Tiffany out of the way. She fell back against a rack, knocking bags of chips all over the floor. Jim pushed a button to open the drawer and started pulling money from the register.
At that moment,
he saw Levi Anderson coming up the aisle behind the gunman.
“Hey, what’s going on…
The gunman turned and struck the old man in the temple with the butt of the gun, crumpling him to the floor. The gun swung
back around to Jim again.
Jim finished filling a paper bag and slid it across the counter. The man grabbed it and ran for the door.
Through the window, Jim spotted Officer Dave Connor pull up. The officer made a regular coffee stop about this time every night. The gunman came out the door to see the cop getting out of his car. He fired once, striking the officer in the leg. Jim watched in disbelief as the officer returned fire
, and the front door glass exploded. The gunman ran back into the store as Officer Connor fell behind his car door.
Jim was still standing behind the counter when the gunman looked at him with wild eyes.
“Did you hit the alarm?”
Without waiting for a response, he fired the gun twice.
Jim fell back against the cigarette counter and slid to the floor. He clutched at his chest, his white Circle K uniform rapidly turning crimson.
From his spot on the floor, he could see Tiffany lying next to the scratcher stand, blood coming from her mouth. She
Everything began to slow down as Jim felt his life slipping away. He heard the gunman yell at someone, realizing
it must be the woman who was in the bathroom.
Into his view came the foggy image of a man pushing a woman in front of him, gun at her back, as they moved to the west exit. Headlights from a car pierced in from the west door as it opened and Officer Brad Winston came in to meet Dave Connor
Face to face, gunfire erupted down the tiny hallway. The noise was deafening. The woman fell in front of the gunman
, and Officer Winston fell back out the door.
Jim began to see things in clips, like an old TV with a skip in the picture. He saw the gunman slide down the wall, the bag of money lying next to him in a pool of blood. The gunman put his own gun up to his temple. Jim heard rather than saw a gunshot. He thought of Mandy and the ring. He was so tired. He closed his eyes.
Detective John Patton and his partner, Detective Chuck Peters, arrived on the scene fifteen minutes later. The parking lot was awash in headlights, mixed with blurring blue and red flashes. To his left sat an ambulance and Officer Connor lying on a gurney. They popped the rolling feet, and hoisted him into the back of the transport.
Patton got out and stretched his long frame. He’s a big man who works out religiously, and it shows. At forty-five, he was in as good shape as any of the younger detectives, and in better shape than many. His hair had started to recede, and he wore a Panama hat to avoid the wisecracks of the younger detectives.
He walked over, stopped at the
open ambulance, and stuck his head in.
“How ya doin
The officer gave a half-smile to detective.
“Had better days, John.”
The detective smiled back and turned to the EMT sitting next to
“He gonna be okay?”
“Should be. The bullet hit him in the thigh, but looks like it missed the femoral artery. Whole other story if it hadn’t.”
The detective looked back at Dave.
“Guess you must be living right, Dave.”
Detective Patton stepped back as the ambulance doors closed, and spotted his partner coming toward him.
was twenty years his junior, but he’d already shown a lot of promise, and John had been glad to take him under his wing.
“What have you got, Chuck?”
“It’s a mess, John. Five dead, including the gunman, and two officers on scene were shot.”
“Two? Who’s the other?”
“Brad Winston arrived just after the shooting started. His shoulder was grazed, but he’s okay.”
! Make sure he goes to the hospital. It started as a robbery?”
“It appears so. We found a blood-soaked bag of money next to the gunman.”
“Anybody else hurt?”
“No. Officer Lisa White was riding with Winston, but she never got out of the car. She was finishing a report while
Brad went inside.”
. Let’s secure the surveillance video, and start breaking down the events.”
As Peters walked away, Patton saw his lieutenant pull up.
Lieutenant Jesse Garza got out and walked toward him. He’s in his early fifties, average height and build. Jet-black hair and dark eyes, announcing his Hispanic heritage, gave him the look of someone ten years younger. He’d been with San Antonio PD since before Patton had joined the force.
Patton filled his lieutenant in on what he knew. When he was done, Garza pointed at the press beginning to gather
with a few civilians behind the flapping, yellow crime tape.
“You want me to handle them for you?”
“You’re the best. Thanks.”
The lieutenant headed towards the reporters as John Patton went to get his first look at the crime scene.
Dave Connor sat holding a cup of coffee
, staring at the headline of the San Antonio News.
CITY REMEMBERS TEN-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF CIRCLE K MASSACRE.
Dave hadn’t been able to forget it. The bullet he took to the leg that day had changed his life. He was now a ‘Desk Sergeant,’ and while he still loved being involved in the day-to-day activities of the precinct, he missed the days of being on the street. Still, he had been lucky that day.
“Dave, let’s go! We’re going to be late again!”
He stood up and scanned the living room for his keys. He’d misplaced them for the third time this week, and it was driving his wife nuts.
“Oh, Dave! Seriously? If you put them in the same place every time, this wouldn’t keep happening.”
He’d heard the same thing from Vicky many times.
“I know, I know.”
“I’m going to wait in the car.”
pulled a gray raincoat on over her five-foot, three-inch frame, and fluffed her red hair out from under the collar. A light rain fell on this Sunday morning, and the overcast sky matched her mood.
e watched as she left, slamming the front door behind her, leaving Dave to search for his keys. She hated being late, and he always seemed to wait until the last minute to get ready. Her temper often matched her red hair.
Vicky had bought him a key-finder
, which hooked on his key ring and, but he’d lost the remote control almost immediately.
Moving to the kitchen, he stopped again
, and looked around. He’d found long ago standing and looking worked better than rushing around checking each drawer and closet. Still no sign of the wayward keys.
headed into the bedroom as the rain started to fall harder. They were on their way to church, but at this rate, they’d be lucky to make it in time for service. He could picture Vicky sitting in the car, steam rolling off her head, as she stewed over how this happens all the time. He loved her, and they were inseparable, but he knew some things never changed, including his ability to procrastinate.
his keys on the bedroom floor by his side table.
Scooping them up, he hurried to the car. He stepped out onto the front porch as thunder crashed around him. Locking the door, he did a fast limp down the steps to the driveway. He had struggled with the limp ever since the shooting.
Toyota Camry, he pulled open the driver’s side door and dropped into the seat. He chastised himself for not parking the car inside the garage last night. Despite rushing, he was soaked.
“I’m so sorry, Honey. I know it drives you nuts when we’re late.”
He reached for his seat belt, and had it pulled halfway out, when he realized she hadn’t responded. Turning, he found the passenger seat empty.
He looked around the
outside of the car, rain blurring the view through the windows, but couldn’t see her. He reached up and pressed the button on the garage door opener. Maybe she got mad and took her own car, but as the door lifted, he saw her car was still there. Could she have gone back inside?
ain was still coming down hard, but he was already wet, so he got out and started back to the house.
On the way back up the steps, he heard something. A moan? He stopped. There it was again. Where? He struggled down the steps and around to the other side of the car. What he found took several seconds for his mind to identify.
Lying face down, next to the car, was Vicky. Protruding from her back was...an arrow! Blood ran from the hole in her coat, across the gray fabric, and onto the driveway. She moaned again.
He rushed to her, tried to roll her over, but the arrow prevented him from getting her onto her back. He rummaged around in his jacket pocket until he found his phone, and dialed 911. Panic gripped him as his wife grew paler by the moment.
“911, what is your emergency?”
“This is Sergeant Dave Connor with the San Antonio police; my wife has been shot with an arrow.”
I’m sending units now. Was it an accident?”
Dave looked down at his beloved Vicky.
Detective Jason Strong was enjoying his Sunday just being Jason. Weekends off were few and far between, and with Sandy being a schoolteacher, any weekend together was extra special.
’d gone to an art fair on Saturday, but the rain this morning was keeping them close to home. He was up early this morning and fixed sausage and eggs, something he rarely got a chance to do, and Sandy was just now finishing the dishes. He sipped his coffee while he watched her.
’s tall, almost the same height as him, with blonde hair and brown eyes. They’d met in college, and got married the summer after graduation.
He got up and filled his coffee cup as well as hers, taking both into the family room. The room ha
d beige walls, with an accent wall of burgundy at the far end, and thick, tan carpet; it was their haven.
At the back of the house and away from the street, they would spend hours there watching TV, reading or just talking. Joining them in the room, occupying her own couch-sized bed in the corner,
ny was a Great Pyrenees pup who’s the newest member of the family. Thick, white fur with giant eyes, she had pawed at Sandy’s leg during a visit to the Humane Society, and his wife hadn’t stood a chance. They began filling out the paperwork to adopt her right then.
Already, Jason could tell Penny was the smartest dog
he’d ever known. They’d trained her to go to bathroom outside in under a week, and she had a keen ability to identify their moods.
Today was a perfect example, as Penny was waiting for them in the family room
, peaceful and drowsy. She knew this was going to be a lazy day.
put his coffee down and ruffled the fur around her neck. She rolled her eyes up to look at him without actually moving.
Sandy had followed Jason into the room, carrying the newspaper.
“Sometimes I wonder who the top female in this house is!”
He grinned at her.
“You know very well who’s the number one!”
“Do I? You tell me.”
She stood there with her hands on her hips, a good-natured challenge in her voice.
Jason smiled and pretended to avoid her stare.
“Oh, you know, you know.”
“Uh-huh, that’s what I thought! You’re not fooling me, Jason David Strong!”
He walked over and kissed her cheek, which she pretended to brush off. His cell phone started to vibrate.
For a moment, the two just stared at it as if it might explode, but finally Jason walked over to it.
Picking it up, he looked at the number.
John Patton’s home number.”
got called to work on his day off. His lieutenant wanted his detectives to have a life outside of the police force, and he knew days off kept his detectives sharp. Besides, a call from the lieutenant’s home phone usually didn’t mean work. Jason pushed the answer button.
“Jason, sorry to bother you on your day off
, but I thought you would want in on this.”
lieutenant sounded serious, and even troubled.
, John. What’s up?”
“You know Dave Conner, works the sergeant’s desk?”
Jason’s pulse quickened.
“His wife was shot about an hour ago.”
Jason was stunned. Dave and Vicky
were his friends. His gaze went to his own wife as he tried to process what John Patton had just told him.
“She’s at San Antonio General in surgery. It doesn’t look good.”
Jason sat down.
“Apparently, she was shot outside their home. With an arrow. Dave found her by the car when he came out of the house.”
“That’s right, a hunting arrow with a broadhead.”
Jason knew broadhead
s were arrowheads made up of razor blades. He couldn’t imagine the damage it would do to a small woman like Vicky.
“Who’s working the case?”
“That’s why I called. I want you and Vanessa, if you will.”
“Absolutely! I’ll call
her; we’ll be there in twenty minutes.”
Jason hung up without waiting for a response.
Sandy was staring at him, waiting for an explanation. He gave her the gist of it as he dialed his partner, Detective Vanessa Layne.
Vanessa had just stepped out of a long, hot bath. Rob was watching their six-month-old, and she had been allowed to spend a good part of her Sunday morning soaking in the tub.
She stood in front of the mirror with her robe on, pulling a brush through her long, black hair. Despite
it being a little difficult to deal with, Rob loved her hair long, so she kept it hanging down to her mid-back, but usually wore it up in a bun when she was on duty.
She stopped brushing and examined herself in the mirror.
She’s five-ten, and thin, although she still had some baby weight on her. Rob said he fell in love with her blue eyes before he knew her name.
She smiled thinking about how they were no longer a couple
, but had become a family.
The vibrating of her phone on the counter interrupted her thoughts. She picked it up and looked at the number.
“Hi, Jason. What’s up?”
“Sorry to call you on your Sunday off
, but I’ve volunteered us for a case.”
“Oh? That was awesome of you!”
He didn’t react to her teasing, which told her something was wrong.
“What’s the case?”
“You know Dave Connor?”
“The desk sergeant? Sure, why?”
“His wife was shot outside their home this morning.”
Vanessa felt herself physically take a step back. She immediately saw a picture of Vicky Connor in her mind.
They’d met at a department function, and Vanessa was struck by how tiny she was in comparison to big Dave.
“How is she
“The lieutenant said she’s in surgery at SAG
, but it looks bad. He asked if we would take the case; I said yes.”
Vanessa began moving, getting ready to leave, even as she fired questions at Jason.
“Do we have a suspect?”
“Not that I know of.”
“When did it happen?”
“About an hour and half ago.”
“Do we know what the weapon was?”
“A bow and
Vanessa stopped in her tracks.
“Some sort of hunting arrow, that’s all I know. Can you be ready in twenty?”
She hung up
, and went downstairs to tell Rob their Sunday plans had changed.