Well, here it is, Jan. 5th of the new year and it is extremely cold. Tem is 14 with a high of 21 today. Oh jolly. I am forced to go out to the grocery store as I am out of coffee creamer and if I don’t have the right kind this afternoon, when I am ready for a cup, there will be war somewhere.
I spent the weekend trying to print A CIRCLE OF MURDERS for editing (AGAIN.) I don’t know what I did, but I managed to print the first 76 pages twice. When I came in the office this morning,
the corrected version lay on the printer. I love good ghosts.
Now it is almost 11:15 and I am not dressed yet. Sister will be calling and I have nothing to tell her, so I shall get dressed, fun to the store, mop my kitchen floor, then start reading the rest of the book.
You all take it easy and be good to yourselves. Till next time, 1/2/DHL




Well, it’s over. Got a whole year to prepare for it again. Christmas, that is. I’m not looking forward to New Year’s Day. Florida State plays Oregon, and needless to say, I am very concerned about that game. But, back to Christmas. My daughter insisted I bring everything to her house and cook dinner over there. You should have seen my car, loaded with standing mixer, et al. My son-in-law wanted dinner about three, but there was so much to cook that it was after four before we sat down at the table. Of course, everything was delicious and there were plenty of leftovers for everyone.
Sister is working on The Hangman. unless her mind takes off in a different direction and she starts working on another title or blurbs or some other thing that has nothing to do with The Hangman. I would say she is an Aries, but I know she is a scorpio. it’s just that her mind is sometimes scrambled like a bowl of eggs. My mind is small. It can only concentrate on one thing at a time. Right now, I am in
the process of editing A CIRCLE OF MURDERS for Smashword. It must be pristine for them. Not one single error. I thought we had it perfect, but several people have told us they found a couple of errors when they read it. Once again, I am going through it line by line.
I hope you all had a great Christmas and 2015 is better than the last year. Keep writing and above all, KEEP EDITING.
Be sure to read THE STONE KILLER and let us know what you think of it.
Till later, 1/2/DHL



DON’T FORGET:  March 15 to 18, CREATING KATHRYN CROWN, on sale for $.99. Then returns to its price of $3.99.  amazon.com/dp/B00G8JYD64

OF MURDERS, is on sale for $.99 and then returns to its regular price of
$2.99 amazon.com/dp/B00CCE7NGQ

Well, it’s a gray cloudy day here in the Springs and one of the few days in Colorado that the sun doesn’t shine.  I really can’t complain.  It’s just that I hate gray cloudy days.  Anyway, I discovered why my brain has been in such a fog.  It’s a side effect of one of my blood pressure pills.  I stopped taking that one yesterday and I already feel better.  I was actually able to work on THE STONE KILLER last night adding to several scenes.  I am thrilled to be able to write again.

I hope everyone has a great day.  Take care of yourselves and get rid of the stress in your lives.  Stay safe my friends.  Until we talk again, the best to you and yours.  Keep writing.


Well, it’s been awhile, but I finally got around to doing a blog.  Sister’s computer crashed and she is about to pull her hair out.  I’m sure she is dying to know what I’m doing on all our sites.

A couple of things the world needs  to know.  I say the world because I like to think big.  #1 is that we have changed the name of the detective in THE STONE KILLER.  Doesn’t JONAS BLACK sound better than JOHN T. HUNTINGTON?  JTH sounds like one of those pot bellied men who sit on the board of corporations.

#2 is that we are going to have a sale of our books.  A CIRCLE OF MURDERS will be on sale from March 14 thru 18 for $.99, then reverts back to the regular price of $2.99.

CREATING KATHRYN CROWN will we on sale from March 15-18 for $.99, as well.  Then reverts back to the regular price of $3.99.

Got up to snow this morning.  Another vortex coming.  High today of 22 deg.  I think I’ll just crawl into a hole, but I’m sure there would be snow in it.

Gotta go now.  You all stay safe and warm and be good to yourselves.

1/2 DHL




June 6, early morning

For Northern tourists, Half Moon Bay was a haven from winter snow and ice.  Fourteen miles wide, the peninsula was attached to Florida’s mainland by a natural land barrier called Raider’s Bridge.  During September and October, the population doubled from fifty to one hundred thousand or more.  Also famous for its white sandy beaches, it offered easy access to all the tourist spots from Orlando to the Florida Keys.

The Bay, as the locals call it, was an easy town to navigate.  All the avenues ran east and west and streets north and south.  Lined with palm trees, white wrought iron lamp posts and benches placed under shady oak trees, Central Avenue cut through the downtown area from the Bay to the Gulf.

Central Avenue also divided the wealthy from the working class.  On the north side, the wealthy residents lived on erotically named streets such as Le Cafe’ Boulevard, the Isle of Shells, Treasure Lane, and Captain’s Row.  The houses began in price from a paltry nine hundred thousand and went up from there.

Celebrities regularly came to perform at the Arts Center, but if they wanted to party, it was at Crooks Castle.  The big pink hotel had the best rooms, dining, dancing and was close to the Performing Arts Center.  Legend had it that the original builder was the second son of an English Duke who had turned to piracy to make his fortune, then settled in Florida and built his fortress on the Gulf.  The building had been a private home, a hotel, and stood empty for too many years until it became an eyesore for the town.  Luckily a wealthy investor purchased the building and all the land including the marina.  Currently, it had been successively refurbished and converted back into a pricey hotel, with extensive additions to the north side.

South of Central, where the local working class residents lived, the homes were compact masonry ranch style dwellings with two or three bedrooms and were substantially less expensive.  The streets were lined with oaks, poor man’s orchid, crepe myrtles or other exotic flowering trees.

Some parts of town were not so nice.  On Highland Street, in the poorer section, there was an abandoned, two-story derelict monster where rotting drapes prevented the sunshine from penetrating the shadows of a dank interior.  The heavy odors of dust and mildew emanated from the building like the smell of rotten food.  Outside, the front yard was a jungle of weeds that grew around an old refrigerator that had been dumped next to a rusting Pontiac parked in an unkempt gravel driveway.  A dirt path led from the rickety front porch steps, past a rotting clothesline to an equally overgrown rear yard that backed up to a deep drainage ditch.

Dawn was barely breaking across the hot morning sky when Homicide Detective Jarrett Blackwell parked his restored 1976, burgundy El Camino truck behind a new gold Toyota Camry.  The Camry belonged to Harvey Coleman, the Medical Examiner.  He could see the big man through his front windshield and wondered how Harvey’s short three hundred and twenty-five pound bulk was handling the heat and the humidity.  Not too well, from the looks of the underarms of his white, short sleeve shirt, the sweat stains clearly visible.  Harvey’s tan trousers looked just as rumpled.

The M.E. stood resting his thick forearms on the open car door of the Toyota.  As a white and red striped ambulance pulled up and parked behind the El Camino, Harvey closed his car door and turned to wait for Jarrett.

Six blue and white police vehicles were parked at the end of the street behind a red Fire Rescue truck.  Yellow crime scene tape had already been put up to mark off the large overgrown triangular lot.  Tall cabbage palms lined the street side of the lot, and a large oak tree-shaded the front of the house.  No breeze at all.

Jarrett saw a familiar black Chevy sedan parked in front of Harvey’s car.  He glanced around but did not see any sign of his six-foot-four partner.  Caruso Jones must be canvassing the neighborhood for other witnesses and information.

“Is Forensics on the way?” Jarrett called as he got out of the vehicle and then retrieved his large yellow flashlight from behind the driver’s seat.  “Damn it,” he muttered.  Was there ever going to be a break from the heat, even at this hour of the morning?

The odor of wood smoke permeated the morning air, at times strong enough to burn the insides of his nostrils.  He was not sure if the smell was from a local fire or a carryover from other fires that kept erupting up and down the state.  The drought was so bad that the Governor had banned all sales or individual use of firecrackers for the entire state, other than for specific scheduled Fourth of July events.  Florida’s west coast had been lucky so far, but Jarrett had plenty of other problems to keep him focused.  Young girls were turning up dead, one each month since January.  So far, they had few leads and the bodies kept piling up.

He removed his jacket and tossed the garment on the front seat.  After stripping off his tie, he unbuttoned the top two buttons of his white cotton shirt.  Sweat had beaded on his back and now was trickling down to soak the waistband of his lightweight tan slacks.  Even his deck shoes felt hot on his feet.

“Forensics is here.” Harvey said as Jarrett joined him.  “They’re down in the ditch with the body, and the paramedics just got here.  I was waiting for you to show up before I take a closer look.  I didn’t want to chance falling down that bank.”  Harvey added with a chuckle, “Don’t think you or the boys are in the mood to haul my ass back up!”

“No, I don’t need to give myself a hernia, Harvey!  Besides, it’s too damn hot to be hauling anyone up from some ditch.  What have you got so far?” Jarrett asked, slapping at a mosquito buzzing around his face.

“I have the crime scene unit snapping pictures, taking video and checking for evidence.  It’s a bad one.  The girl looks to be between fourteen and sixteen.”  His tone changed.  “Her face looks like ground hamburger, Jarrett.”

“How many more young girls have to die before we catch this bastard?” Jarrett muttered.

“So far, the patrolman who was first on the scene has thrown up three times,” Harvey said with relish.  “I think this is his first body.”

Jarrett gave him a dirty look.  “What are you doing here, Harvey?  You rarely come to a crime scene.”

“I just happened to be over at Bay Memorial when the call came over the radio.  Thought I’d come see you guys in action, so to speak.”  He changed the subject.  “Heard you took a trip to Kentucky.  Was it related to this case?”

“No, just a personal matter.”  Jarrett shrugged off the question.  “Who’s the Reporting Officer?” he asked.  He would never discuss anything personal with a gossip like Harvey.  Everyone in the department would know his business within hours.  Besides, it had been a wasted trip.

“Johnson called it in, but didn’t touch anything.  It was hard to see her at first. So he aimed his flashlight beam over the bank, and then proceeded to throw up.”  Harvey said, slapping at a mosquito biting his neck.  “According to the kid, the old woman who made the call said she was up and heard a car door slam.”  He pointed in the direction of a one-story masonry house next door that was in desperate need of repair and a paint job.  “She said it sounded as if it was in front of her house.  At three in the morning that worried her, because she knew this house was vacant, having been foreclosed on.  So she left the lights off and peeked out the front windows.  That’s when she saw a big dark car parked in front of this rat trap.

“No one she knows in this block owns a big shiny car like that.  Then, she sees someone haul this big bundle out of the trunk and carry it around the back of this house.  She couldn’t see too clearly because it was so dark, and she didn’t have her glasses on.  Anyway, she thinks it was a man. . .  She goes back to bed and gets up two hours later to let her cat out.  The big car is gone, but she gets this bad feeling that something bad had happened.  So she called the police.  Better late than never, I guess.  Anyway, her backyard runs parallel to this one,” he added.

Jarrett spotted several uniformed officers standing in a group near the front of the house.  Across Ninth Street, he could see television trucks parked near the intersection with their antennas stretched high above the street.  Like vultures, the reporters had heard the call over the police band and now hovered, eager for a glimpse of a body, or an interview with a cop about the crime, trying to get a jump on the story.

He didn’t like reporters, and with good reason.  After his mother’s murder, they had made his and his father’s life miserable with their relentless and invasive pursuit.  Knowing it was futile he hoped they would go away.  But, they rarely did.

The fat man started walking behind the paramedics across the damp grass.  “Let’s go see what we got.”

Jarrett followed, pointing the flashlight beam ahead, trying not to destroy evidence they might miss in the near dark.  They stopped at a spot near the crest of the trench.  From what could be seen in the light’s beam, the victim appeared to be a nude young girl.  As Harvey had said, she was young and appeared fragile, a small, skinny little thing.  She had been dumped at the bank’s edge and rolled into the ditch.  Grass stems bent in one direction showed the path the body had taken down the slope.  Her descent had been stopped by a bush ten feet down the steep embankment.

The girl lay on her stomach, her upper back to her waist partially hidden by green branches.  Two paramedics carefully made their way down the bank and moved to bend over her checking for vital signs.

Jarrett pointed the light at her head.  The left side of her face was visible, and even he had to fight the bile rising in his throat.  From what he could see of her profile, her face was badly beaten and resembled ground meat just as Harvey had described.  A great black bruise surrounded the left eye and there were wounds heavily clotted with blood and dirt high up on the cheek.  Her mouth was so swollen it was difficult to tell what was left of her lips.

Rage rushed through him.  The kind of animals that killed and robbed young girls of their innocence deserved the same kind of bloody fate, he thought.  And, just as infuriating, cops spent countless hours busting their butts to solve such cases, only to see many of the criminals walk away on some minor technicality or through a plea bargain.  For those who received a prison sentence, jail time was a comparatively easy trip.  He felt that the punishment should fit the crime, especially in cases involving children.  However, that was not up to him and never would be.  All he could do was track down the monsters who committed these atrocities and leave the punishment to the courts.

Jarrett knew the system was far from perfect.  His own father’s death had proven that.  Anger still raged inside him over the injustice of that whole mess and the waste of his father’s life.  He kept it tightly locked down where it festered deep inside.  But at times like these it took all his strength to maintain his control.

He had become a cop so that he could do everything in his power to stop such insane brutality.  But, far too often, some sadistic bastard shoved it in his face, and then, at times, he was forced to watch the perpetrator walk free.  The only way he could help this child now was to find her killer and enough evidence to nail him down.  He backed up a few paces and took a deep breath to cap his temper and clear his head.

In front of him, Harvey squatted on the lip of the ditch and tried to make a visual inspection from there.  The M.E. was trying hard not to lose his balance and disturb the crime scene by falling over the wooden rail and rolling down the bank.  Flashes from the photographer’s camera blinded him for a second.

“Ah, damn.  I can’t see a thing,” Harvey yelled, blinking as spots danced before his eyes, aware that he would have to wait to fix the exact time of death.  Even with the sun coming up, he was having trouble seeing.  “Son of a bitch,” he exclaimed and huffed as he pushed upright and stood rubbing his eyes.  He picked his way to where Jarrett waited.  “Her face is pretty mangled, which may make identification difficult.  I can’t say definitely until I get her on the table and, from this distance, I can only guess, but I’ll bet she was strangled and raped just like the others.  She’s young like they were.”

Taking his handkerchief from his pocket, Harvey mopped the sweat from his eyes and beefy face and then blew his nose.  “It’s a piss poor world anymore, Jarrett, when children are brutalized and tossed away like so much garbage.  It’s a damned perverted waste.”  He eyed Jarrett and shoved the handkerchief into his back pocket.  “As soon as I finish the autopsy, I’ll get the report to you.” Then, “God, I wish we’d get a break from this heat.”  He patted Jarrett on the shoulder and started to walk toward the road, then stopped.  “How many does this one make?”

“She’s the seventh, assuming she’s connected to the other cases,” Jarrett told him harshly, scowling.  Even one body was one too many.  Seven young girls, between the ages of fourteen and sixteen had been abducted, molested, beaten and murdered.  Each had been someone’s daughter and, from what they’d been able to piece together, likely runaways and an easy target for a predator.  The girls had believed they were streetwise and safe.  Sooner or later, too many such kids frequently turned up as rape, overdose or homicide victims.  It pissed him off.  He was no closer to finding the killer today, with this girl, than he was with the first one.  And they could have been, if the woman next door had promptly called the police.

As Harvey continued walking towards his vehicle, Jarrett stayed to watch as the two paramedics continued to work on the body.  One of the men straightened, removed the stethoscope from the girl’s back, and looked at his partner with a puzzled expression.  “I have a faint heart beat,” he shouted.  Then, barely audible, a faint moan came from between her torn and swollen lips.  They all stopped, stunned, as a weak breath was gasped from the bloody mouth.

“My God, she’s still alive!”  One of the technicians called into his radio.  “We have a live one here.  Get down here with a stretcher, fast!”  He yelled.  “She’s alive, but not for long.  There’s a pulse, faint, but a pulse.  We have to transport now or we’ll lose her.”

Jarrett stepped aside as the ambulance driver and police officers raced to the aid of the paramedics with a Stokes basket stretcher and ropes.  Once they had the victim safely secured and up the steep incline, the EMT yelled ahead to the ambulance driver.  “Call Bay Memorial and tell them we’re on the way.”  The two men raced with the girl to the waiting ambulance where needed equipment waited.

Jarrett’s stomach lurched and knotted strangely as he caught a glimpse of long dark hair.  “My God, it can’t be!” he whispered.  “She’d be older, surely. . . .“  He shook his head to dispel the surge of dread, the sudden feeling that he was seeing . . .  “Harvey!” he shouted, and ran to stop the fat man from leaving.  “The girl just made a noise.  I don’t know how, but she’s still alive.  They’re taking her to Bay Memorial.  I’ll meet you there,” he yelled at the lowered window.

Harvey stared at him for a moment.  “My God, you’re kidding me!  I can’t believe it!  What luck!”  He grinned quickly.  “Okay, I’ll see you there.”  Starting his engine, Harvey pulled out behind the ambulance as it sped away.

Jarrett hurried to his own vehicle then followed Harvey to the emergency room entrance.  Arriving several minutes after the ambulance, they stepped into a wild scene as nurses and doctors rushed the stretcher into the Trauma Room just inside the automatic doors.

The doctor, a tall man with dark curly hair, dressed in green scrubs, his face obscured from view by a mask as he worked over the patient, was snapping out orders for IV’s, drugs and portable x-rays. As the medical staff sprang into action, the police officers and detectives were forced out of the room to stand outside the doors and wait.  This victim, Jarrett thought, could be their first break in a case that was giving them all ulcers and gray hairs.  All these months with relatively little evidence, here was their first real chance to stop the killings, if the girl survived.  If she did, could she identify her attacker?  All he could do now was wait and hope.

Other ambulances with patients arrived and were assigned to rooms.  Jarrett, unable to stand the waiting, stepped outside to catch a breath of fresh air.  He watched nurses, clerks and other personnel who were arriving for the morning shift change at seven.

This was the first time he had been to Bay Memorial’s Emergency Room since he had stopped dating one of the nurses who worked there.  His relationships were short affairs, mainly because he couldn’t bring himself to open up the way women seemed to want.  They dated him knowing he was, as he described himself, skeptical, reticent, and jaded.  Each one thought she could change him.  However, it was the woman who usually ended the affair after they reached a point where he could not, or would not become more deeply involved.

Jarrett stared at his surroundings without really seeing them, immersed in his thoughts.  He had believed in love once, had chased after it like the naive kid he had been.  It had proven to be an illusion that had cost him everything and everyone he cared about.  And, ever since then, he had refused to expose himself to that level of pain again.  That had not stopped him from dreaming of green eyes and a face that had driven him to what felt like the brink of a mad obsession.

It had happened eleven years ago at his parents’ Christmas party.  He had been young then and idealistically romantic.  He had had a beautiful fiancée and all the advantages of family wealth and close, devoted parents as well.  Then, he had watched as, coming up the steps near the front door of his father’s mansion on Long Island, New York, a young woman had slipped on the ice.  Because he had lunged to help, she had fallen into his arms.  The moment he had looked into those green eyes, he was lost.

Even after all these years, he vividly remembered the later image of her coming across the dance floor in a cream-colored, crocheted lace dress that had made his blood burn with desire.  From a distance, she had appeared nude beneath the dress.  All he had done during that particular party was to make an ass out of himself by following her from room to room.  Like an immature love struck school boy, he had pulled her aside and professed his love to a girl he did not know.  A stunning girl.  An illusion.  He had not known how evil she could be as he held her for a single dance.  That dance was followed by the destruction of all he had ever known.  That memory still tied his guts in knots.

Those experiences had not stopped his fantasies however.  Even now, at night, he still had dreams of the exotic, intoxicating fragrance of her, of long dark hair that made him wild with the desire to run his fingers through it, dreams of kissing her sensuous lips or making love to her.  Dreams in which he knew how her lips would taste and that her skin would feel like silk.

It was all nothing more than illusions.

He shook his head to dispel the images that fogged his brain and resurrected memories that were best kept buried since he couldn’t get rid of them.  Besides, Jarrett thought, he did not have time to get tangled up with anyone.  It was better to focus on the work at hand.  He and his partner had needed a break on this case and had finally gotten one.  Maybe the Captain and the Sergeant would get off their backs for a while and give them room to work.  The murders were considered a high-profile case and had generated a lot of public interest, so Captain Whitmore and Sergeant Angst were always pressing for the latest reports.

There had been little to go on until this morning.  The butchered and murdered girls always had long dark hair and pretty faces.  They were all teenagers, but their disappearances did not follow a set pattern.  Each had been abducted from a different location, at a different time on a different day of the month.  But, all had disappeared from Half Moon Bay.  Their bodies had been dumped in trash bins from one end of town all the way to the Bay, so far.  This girl was different.  Jarrett was not sure if this crime was connected to the others since this victim had been found in a ditch, but he would know soon enough.  Harvey, he knew, was good at his job.  He would take the information from the doctors and make a comparison to the other cases.  If there was a connection, the M.E. would find it.  Jarrett leaned back against the side of the building and took a deep breath.  He was thinking too deeply for this hour of the morning.

The sun was fully up, now.  It was not quite seven.  The steamy heat he could see rising from the pavement was caused by morning dew.  It was going to be another scorcher of a day, he thought.  He dreaded it, because the heat seemed to bring out the worst in people.  He would try to take a week off once this case was solved and the killer was securely behind bars or preferably dead.

He looked toward the Bay and watched the distant flashing of a white sail against the dark blue of the water.  Some people had all the luck, he thought, being out for a cool early morning run across the Bay then south to the Gulf of Mexico.  He missed sailing, especially those never forgotten daylong jaunts with his dad.

He shut his eyes, unable to avoid seeing, again, his last view of his father.  Matthew W. Blackwell, had been draped over the desk in his study with a small black hole in his right temple and a bright red bloody pool around his head.  He had died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, believing he had somehow murdered his wife while in a drunken stupor.

Those old memories dredged up too much pain, and so Jarrett tried to focus on the Bay and the sailboats instead.

When he had first driven into Half Moon Bay nine years ago, after two long prior years spent traveling from town to town, he was still searching  At the time he had not known if he was still looking for the girl involved in his parent’s death or simply trying to find his own way.  All he had known for sure was that he longed for one day that was filled with peace of mind.  He had parked his truck outside the Black Pearl restaurant and had sat for hours at a table on the deck, staring out at the marina.

Even then, the day had been hot and the large umbrella shading the table had been a relief from the sun.  Line after line of sailing sloops and several good-sized yachts had been moored in the marina, their tall masts swaying in time with the waves that rocked their hulls.  Great mountains of white cumulus clouds had floated above the horizon, intensifying the blue of the sky as sea birds rode the air currents over the water.

Behind him, in the tall palms that lined the roadway had come the screeching of Quaker parrots mixed with the chirping of sparrows.  Later, he would discover the parrots could be heard announcing their flight over the city at all times of the day.  Some claimed the birds had escaped after Hurricane Andrew tore up the southern tip of Florida and had never returned south.  On a dark stormy day, their racket was almost a guarantee that the sun was going to shine again.

As he had sat there, the pain that had ridden him hard for over eleven years had been eased by the smell of the salt air and the sound of the birds.  He had munched on a turkey sandwich, watching the gulls and pelicans which had perched on nearby pilings, waiting for a morsel of food to be tossed their way.  Signs along the deck rail had forbidden feeding them.  He had been tempted to ignore the warning.  The longer he had sat there, the more at peace he had felt.  That was when he had decided to stay.  It was that simple.  Within two days, he had found an apartment, notified his attorney to wire him money, and where to send the monthly check from his trust fund.

A whiff of wood smoke brought Jarrett back to the present as the sound of laughter was carried up from the street.  He glanced toward the corner of the hospital building in time to see the backs of two women, one with long red hair, and the other with dark mahogany hair cascading below her shoulders.  They were dressed alike in navy skirts and white blouses as they strolled past him and out of view.  His heart lurched and the old ache flared.

“No!” he muttered violently.  Up until this string of murders, he had found some sort of peace during his stay in Half Moon Bay.  He refused to let his obsessive search start all over again.

“No what?” Harvey asked, coming up beside him.

“Nothing!” Jarrett growled.

Raising his eyebrows, the M.E. retorted, “Sorry I asked!”

Jarrett frowned and inhaled sharply.  “I saw a woman who reminded me of someone I met a long time ago, that’s all.  Not her, obviously.  Sorry for taking your head off.”  He had been thrown off-balance by the sight of all that dark hair, first with the victim, now with this other woman.  He had deluded himself into believing he had buried those tangled love, hate feelings, and that he did not care anymore.  It had all roared back all because of long legs, a shapely, slender backside and precisely remembered long curly dark hair.

Jarrett concentrated on blocking Harvey’s curiosity.  “What’s the word on the girl?” he asked.

“Comatose.  Dr. Corbett is admitting her to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.  He won’t know anything definite until tomorrow.  If she lives through the night, she may make it.  Otherwise, all we can do is sit and wait,” Harvey said.

Jarrett nodded.  “I’ll order a guard on her room around the clock.  No one is to know what happened to her.  As far as anyone here is concerned, she was mugged and is over twenty-one.  Keep all information on your end quiet.  I’ll control this end,” he finished and hurried back inside to speak with the doctor and to squelch any leaks to the press.

He had spotted the TV trucks parked on the street, which meant the reporters were still around and inside.  They had to be put off at all costs.  Once he established the routine concerning the girl, he leaned against the counter to relax for a moment, and wished for a cup of hot black coffee.  His shoulders sagging with exhaustion, Jarrett wondered what progress his partner was making at the crime scene.  Caruso probably had every person in the neighborhood up and interviewed, then had swept the area with the proverbial vacuum cleaner.

Any possible piece of evidence could point to the killer and it all had to be tagged, documented and processed as valid, or eliminated.  It took time, valuable time, before the next victim turned up.  First, they had to identify this girl.  Given that the assault had happened last night, maybe Missing Persons had a report that might be just now coming into the office.  He had little hopes of identifying the car.  The eyewitness had not been sure of the make and had been unable to see the license plate.  There were no tire tracks either.

Jarrett rubbed his eyes.  He had not slept well before getting the call at four-fifty that morning.  Now it was after seven.  He needed to go home and sleep for about three hours, but it was impossible.  There was too much work to do.  He removed the cell phone from his pocket and started to dial his office, but stopped, finger poised above the numbers, staring, as before him, coming through the door from the ER waiting room was, beyond question, the same woman who had destroyed his life.  Who had ever since haunted and filled his nights with turbulent dreams.  His mind reeling, Jarrett whirled and fled out of the glass doors before she could see his face.  Once outside, he leaned against the building with his insides knotting up and his heart pounding.

It was her. She was actually here in this town.  By sheer, freakish luck, his search was now over.  All he had to do was walk back through the automatic doors and confront the woman he had been obsessed with for the past eleven years. . .  Which was a bad idea, and he knew it.  He could not face her.  Not yet.  His feelings just had been ripped open by the sight of her.  He might lose control.  Besides, if she saw him, she might run.  If that happened, he might never get the answers he desperately needed.  He was not going to take that chance.  Their meeting had to be carefully planned.  And they would meet. . . .  Keeping that in mind, Jarrett pushed away from the building and headed for his truck.  He needed to find Caruso and proceed with this investigation.  But now, and amazingly, at last, he knew where to find her.


               Copyright © 2012 Dreamah H. Lockwood

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any form whatsoever without the written permission of the author.

This book is a work of fiction.  Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.  Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental.

                                             ISBN:  978-0-9892880-0-2

                                             ISBN-13: 978-0-9892880-0-2

   To all the missing children;  may they some day find their way home.

                                        To my mother, sisters and friends for all your        encouragement and support


 Eleven Years Earlier

He was dead.  The son of a bitch was finally dead.  How ironic, Sarra Gray thought, that the top of the Christmas tree lay within reach of his one outstretched arm, the hand reaching for the white tree top angel just inches from his fingers.  Maybe he was reaching for salvation, she thought bitterly.  But, only the devil would want Homer James.

There had been a knock at the door, and two men had entered the apartment to face Homer.  POP had come from the gun in the killer’s hand.

That was the only sound that she had heard from her hiding place behind the partially closed bedroom door.  Through the crack, she had watched as Homer dropped to the floor, his knees buckling first, the rest of his body twisting to fall backwards onto the beige carpet.  While the killers ransacked the living room, she had rushed silently to hide behind the false wall in the closet where Homer hid his safe.  There was nothing she could do but breathe as quietly as possible and pray the men did not find her.  If they did, they would kill her too.

Immediately after closing the door to her hiding place, she heard them enter the bedroom.  Drawers, jerked from the dresser, hit the floor.  The sound of ripping fabric was easily heard behind the thin plaster of the drywall.  She held her breath, terrified that if she could hear them, they might hear her as well.  Then, they were in the closet.  Voices muttered low, indistinguishable words.  The noise of hangers raking back and forth along the rod was far too close.  Sarra prayed and waited in terror to be discovered.

Suddenly, everything went silent.  Not a whisper, not a sound did she hear to indicate the men had left the room.  Nor did a door slam to let her know they were gone from the apartment.  There was only the absolute quiet.  Trembling with fear, she waited what seemed like two hours before daring to emerge and peek into the other room.  They were definitely gone.

Hurriedly, she returned to the closet and grabbed a bag from the floor.  Slipping behind the wall, she worked the carefully learned combination.  Into the bag, she dumped the numerous stacks of one-hundred dollar bills, a stack of DVDs, several ledger books plus two large brown envelopes, contents unknown.  Even though the bag was heavy, she picked it up and returned to the living room.

Outside, the wind howled and whipped sheets of snow into dancing dervishes across the penthouse balcony.  Lamps, toppled from end tables, cast bright yellow oblong shapes across the floor.  Slashed sofa cushions were tossed in a heap before the balcony doors.  Books with ripped pages and bindings were everywhere.  Jerked from wall hooks, the back paper covers of the paintings had been slashed open.  Sculptures had been broken and tossed in pieces to land on any available surface.

Homer lay just as he had fallen.  A dark red stain had spread across the front of his white shirt and oozed in a widening circle beneath his body.  The crotch of his gray trousers was stained by urine and his bare feet looked pale next to the beige carpet.

She wasn’t sorry he was dead.  She knew all too well how he took people and twisted them into monsters, trapped them and drained them of all hope, then tossed them out like garbage.  “That bullet deserved a better target, you bastard,” she hissed.  “You got an easy death.”

She had to get out of the apartment.  It was only a matter of time before the killers returned to find what they were looking for.  Hurrying across the butchered living room, she stopped a moment to stare down at the body, stunned that she felt so little grief for the man.  She expected to feel something other than jubilation at his death.  After all, he had saved her from her father.  But, she felt nothing.  Not even a twinge of regret.

The odor of blood, sharp and coppery, mixed with the smell of evacuated bowels and bladder emanating from the body, made her gag.  Nauseated and repulsed, she crouched down and forced herself to search Homer’s pockets for the car keys.  She hated to touch his body, but she had to have those keys.  There would be two sets, one for the Mercedes and one for the old Chevy.  Cringing, she reached into Homer’s right trouser pocket.  Luck was with her.  The key ring was in the first pocket she explored.  Pulling them out, she flinched as the jingle of the keys sounded abrasively loud in the quiet room.  She clasped them tightly, then hastened to the front door and set the tattered blue flight bag on the floor.

Quickly, she jerked a jacket off a hanger from the coat closet.  Her hands shook so much she almost dropped the old Navy pea coat, but snatched it in midair and slipped her arms into the sleeves.  She pulled a black knit cap down over her ears and made sure every long strand of dark hair was tucked securely beneath it.  At this late hour, it would be bitterly cold and her clothes were not the warmest.  What she was wearing would have to do.  Time was too short.

A gray Angora scarf wrapped around her lower face and neck for added protection against the frigid night air, she stuffed the bottom of the gray wool sweater she wore into the top of her jeans and tugged the thick coat closer, buttoning it over the scarf.  Lastly, she put on her leather gloves, thankful for the cashmere lining.  Apprehensive, she cracked the apartment door, glanced up and down the long corridor then sighed with relief.  It was empty.

The hall lights seemed dimmer than usual, and at each apartment doorway the shadows looked darker and more menacing.  With a quick gulp of air to quell the fear knotting her stomach, she heaved the large blue flight bag over her shoulder and slipped out the door, closing it quietly.  She sprinted toward the red neon exit sign at the end of the hall and thanked God for the carpet that muffled the sound of her boots as she shot past paintings, potted palms and shadowed thresholds to the end of the hall.  No doors opened.  No one peered out to check.  The exit door opened silently.  With another prayer of thanks, her feet flying, she bounded down twenty-five flights of steps, her hand sliding along the railing to keep from falling.  She did not stop until she reached the underground parking garage and only then paused to catch her breath.  Her heart pounded in her ears and, inside the leather gloves, her palms felt sweaty.

The garage door was all that now stood between her and escape.  She hesitated for a second, and then cautiously opened the door.  Now was not the time for her to meet a neighbor returning home late from shopping, or a noisy security guard checking the garage.  Tonight, she was lucky.  The vast gloomy parking cavern was filled with cars, which meant that most of the building’s occupants were in for the night.  Still, she waited a few more minutes to make sure.

When she did not see anyone, she dashed to the far side where Homer’s white Chevy was parked beside his large black Mercedes.  Her hands were shaking so much it took three attempts before she succeeded in unlocking the Chevy’s door.  Tossing her bag into the passenger seat, she climbed in and started the engine.  As she backed out of the parking space, she cringed as she swiped the back fender of the Mercedes.  It didn’t matter.  The Mercedes belonged to Homer.  He would not be filing a police report.

At the street exit ramp, she was forced to stop for traffic.  The flow of cars was not bumper to bumper as usual, but heavy enough to impede her getaway.  She froze in terror for a second, her gloved hands clenched on the steering wheel.  A dark sedan was parked against the curb across from the exit.  Her headlights illuminated the faces of two men in the front seat.  It was just a brief glimpse, but enough for her to identify the man behind the wheel as the one who had put the bullet in Homer.

She hunched down at once.  Her only chance depended on their not seeing her face behind the wheel or recognizing the vehicle.  She merged into the traffic as slowly and casually as she could so as not to attract attention.  The two men appeared to be studying the main entrance to the apartment building, and they did not so much as glance in her direction.  Body trembling, she drove away, praying she was leaving all her nightmares behind.

Once she crossed the river into New Jersey, she ditched the car in an alley then took a taxi to the Newark Greyhound Bus station.  There, she bought a ticket to California.  After the bus had left the depot, she leaned back in the seat and tried to relax.

Her freedom had come at a terrible price.  Three people had died so that she could escape.  Anyway, only three that she knew about, two women and one gutter rat.  All she could do was pray that no one else had been killed.  Death was an appropriate punishment for Homer, but her only friend, Rose Ann, had not deserved the death she had received.  Ro had been just as innocent a victim as the other woman.  Thinking about that made Sarra’s heart ache.

What punishment would be extracted for her part in all of it?  She didn’t know what it would be; but she was certain that somehow retribution would find her.  Her loss was nothing.  The others had lost everything.  Still, the giddy awareness of her freedom bubbled up within her and would not be smothered.  If that joy would always be mixed with pain and guilt, at least now, she was in charge of her life and future, and no longer being controlled by a madman.

One other thought nagged at her.  What if Homer’s body was not discovered until someone was attracted by the foul odor of his decaying corpse?  Maybe, a small spark of compassion still burned within her.  She decided she would telephone the police at the first stop.  It was a small act of redemption, but the right thing to do, she thought.

As the bus headed west, she gazed out at the moonlit, snow-covered landscape, passing homes with roofs outlined in colored lights.  Wreaths hung on doors, and decorated trees blazed in the windows of happy homes with normal families.  She felt a surge of envy for all the warmth those exteriors portrayed.  In three days it would be Christmas, and she was alone.

Still, she had reason to be grateful, and was thankful to be alive and to now have her freedom.  She knew, however, that although Homer was dead, the men who had killed him were still alive.  Because she now possessed the contents of Homer’s safe, she would always need to be on guard, no matter where she managed to hide.


SINGLE COVER, A C OF MStarting tomorrow morning, I will post chapters of our novel, A CIRCLE OF MURDERS, on the blog on each Tuesday and Thursday, beginning with the Prologue.

Our novels are available on amazon.com

We would greatly appreciate your emails at dreamah.lockwood@aol.com or comments here on the blog.


Enjoy.  Take care of yourselves and stay safe.


English: Colorado Springs downtown author: cpt...

English: Colorado Springs downtown author: cpt.spock on flickr source: flickr.com url: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cptspock/1807697720/sizes/l/#cc_license url for license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs

Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My friend Robin and I have been busy packing all my belonging for my move to Colorado Springs, Colorado.  I am selling most of the “stuff” I have collected over the years and will be glad to be rid of it.  It has been packed away and never used, so I don’t need it.  Of course all my writing book and such plus all my oil painting equipment, brushes, paints, canvases, easels and frames go with me.  Believe me, my art equipment is a lot.  So is my writing books and computers.

One of the main reasons for moving to Colo is that my house here in Florida has sold, and I have to go somewhere.  I lived in Colo before and loved it, so why not go back.  I love the Rockies and since the Garden of the Gods is the local for THE STONE KILLER, I can do more on the scene research and my friend with the Colo Spgs Police Dept lives there and will allow me to pick his brain for information.  I will miss my friends in Florida.  They are a great bunch, but email and Skype are available, also the phone works both ways and planes fly west.

I am excited about returning to the Springs.  I will arrive there in mid August and will get to see the mountains turn gold as the Aspen leaves change color.  This year, Thanksgiving and Christmas will be cold and more like they should be as the weather eases into winter.  I have family and friends still in Colo who are excited to see my return.  We all need to live where we are happiest.  For me that is Colo Spgs.  And as one of my sisters keeps telling me, it not the same place as when I lived there.  Of course not.  Every place changes over the years just as we all do, some for the better, some in the worst way.  I was in the Springs in 2008 and it has spread out, but the downtown is the same 8 square blocks.  So, folks, keep me in your prayers as I make the long drive from Florida to Colorado with my friend Robin and my “three cats” in my Chevy HHR.  Yes, three cats, so it should be interesting.

Don’t forget to read my novel A CIRCLE OF MURDERS.  It’s a good story and I think you’ll like my main female character Sarra Gray.  She has had a hell of a rough life.  Give it a read and let me know what you think.  I would love your feedback.

All of you have a great day and stay safe.