First, let me invite those of you who live in the Skagit/Whatcom County area of Washington State to join me and two other authors from the Skagit Valley Writers League at Village Books in Bellingham on Saturday, January 20, 2018, at 7 PM. Mary Ann (Mitzi) Schradi, Joe Vitovec and I will read from our books, then discuss and answer questions. Do come.
I will be reading from THE CAMERA’S EYE, my latest novel, a mystery/thriller set on an island Puget Sound.
It opens like this …
The crash sat Veronica Lorimer up in her bed. A second one, followed by a revving engine and spurt of gravel from spinning tires, sent her toward the stairs, pulling on a robe as she went. Half way down, she stopped, staring. Cold rushed in through a gaping black hole where the window had been, and a pair of rocks lay on the rug in a pool of shards, glistening in the porch light.
The next day …
She left Charlotte at the fireplace and went to the kitchen to fix them some soup. “Charlotte,” she called, still standing at the door, her hand on the light switch.
“Trix isn’t back. It’s past dinner time.”
Charlotte came up beside her. “She probably found her own.” Charlotte spoke without her usual conviction.
Veronica went to the back door. “Trixy!” she called into the night. “Come on, Trix! We’re home!”
But no whining bundle raced out of the night to throw herself into their arms.
. . .
But when they woke the next morning, the cat was still missing. They pulled on rubber boots and went in search. A half hour later they were staring in silence at the mound of orange fir only a few feet from the drive.
“I didn’t hit her,” Charlotte exclaimed. “I know I didn’t.”
“No. You didn’t, but did someone else?”
They studied the silent form. There was no blood.
“Look.” Veronica pointed to the foam around the cat’s mouth.
And then as they drive home after a community meeting they heard about …
Veronica watched the headlights light up the forest on either side of the road. Out over the bay, the moon rose, unperturbed. She opened the window and took a deep breath of sea-laden air spiced with evergreen, then leaned back.
“I’m glad we went,” she decided, as Charlotte turned onto the lane leading to the house. “It’s like learning how a perfectly good pot of soup can turn bad.”
“Or like what happens when you suppress resentments and fear for forty years and let them cook away without air.”
As Charlotte signaled and slowed for their driveway, a blast of a horn jerked them upright, and the dark shape of a vehicle barely missed their tail as they turned.
“Who the hell was that?” Charlotte breathed as the car roared off into the night.
“He didn’t have his lights on.” Veronica craned her neck but could see nothing through the dense screen of evergreens. There was little traffic on the island this time of night and even less in their lane.
“Who would drive these roads with his lights off?” Charlotte let out her breath, took her foot off the brake, and rolled toward the house.
“There was a car behind us, coming down the island. With lights. I didn’t think a thing about it.”
“You mean he switched his lights off when he turned into the lane?” Charlotte braked and cut the engine. “Someone who followed us from the meeting.”
At the threshold of the sun-porch the hound bolted for the back door, barking and jumping at the window. Veronica froze and scanned the yard.
“What is it?” Charlotte came up beside her.
Veronica shook her head. “I don’t see anything.” The dog was sniffing at the bottom of the door. “Has someone been here, boy?” She knelt, examined the floor, then stood up, checked the lock on the door and crossed the room to gaze at her work table.
“Not that I can see.” She turned back. “Come on, Morty, get your dinner, and we’ll go out and look around.” The dog came eagerly when she put the dish down.
As soon as they had hooked them up and opened the back door, the hound dashed for the garden shed, dragging Veronica behind him. Once there, he concentrated on the ground at one side, sniffing with great energy an area where the grasses and leaves had been trampled. Molly soon joined him, and they both huffed as they circled the spot.
“So we’re being watched.” Charlotte’s voice was flat.
“Looks like it.” Veronica shivered then took a deep breath. “Well, we need a fence anyway.” She pulled the hound away. “Come on fella, let’s take a tour.”
They circled the perimeter of the property without further incident until they reached the south corner, where the dogs wanted to pull them further into the woods.
Veronica came to a stop abruptly as the hound gave a bark and headed for a ring of charred wood—the remains of a campfire.
But who is targeting them and why?