Dead Right [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Brenda Novak
eBook Category: Romance/Romance
eBook Description: Twenty years ago Madeline Barker's father disappeared. Despite what everyone else thinks, Madeline's convinced her step-family had nothing to do with it. But the recent discovery of his car finally proves he didn't just drive away. Worse, the police find something in the trunk that says there's more to this case than murder. With no other recourse, Madeline decides to hire a private investigator--even if the cops don't like it. Even if her family doesn't like it. But when P.I. Hunter Solozano begins to uncover some shocking evidence, someone in Stillwater is determined to put a stop to Madeline's search for the truth. And that means putting a stop to her. Permanently.
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/MIRA, Published: 2007
Fictionwise Release Date: August 2007
18 Reader Ratings:
Was his body inside?
Hunched against the freezing January rain, Madeline Barker felt her fingernails cut into her palms. Standing with her stepbrother, stepsister and stepmother, she watched the police and several volunteers attempt to pull her father's car out of the abandoned water-filled quarry. Her head pounded from lack of sleep, and her chest was so tight she almost couldn't breathe, yet she stood perfectly still…waiting. After almost twenty years, she might finally have some answers about her father's disappearance.
Toby Pontiff, Stillwater, Mississippi's, police chief, knelt at the lip of the yawning hole. "Careful, careful there, Rex," he called over the high-pitched whine of the winch attached to a massive tow truck.
Joe Vincelli and his brother, Roger, Madeline's first cousins, hovered on the other side of the quarry, their faces betraying their anticipation. They spoke animatedly to each other, but Madeline couldn't hear them above the noise. She was fairly sure she didn't want to. What they had to say would only upset her. They'd long blamed her father's disappearance on certain members of her stepfamily—Irene, Clay and Grace—who were gathered around her now. Unfortunately, the fact that the Cadillac had been found in the quarry five miles outside of town would only convince them they'd been right all along. It'd certainly prove that her father hadn't driven off into the sunset.
The black seal-like heads of two divers who'd gone down a few minutes earlier popped up and, with a gasp, Madeline realized she could see the front grille of her dad's car through the murky water. With a sudden rush of tears, she instinctively moved closer to Clay, who remained as dark and silent as the surrounding rocks.
The car didn't break the surface. Rex hit a button that stopped the clamoring winch, halting its progress, and the silence made Madeline's ears ring.
Her stepmother, a short buxom woman with hair like Loretta Lynn's, whimpered at the sight of the barely visible car. Grace shifted to try and comfort her, but Clay didn't move. Madeline looked up at him, wondering what was going on behind his intense blue eyes.
As usual, it was difficult to tell. His expression mirrored the gray, overcast sky. Maybe he wasn't thinking. Maybe, like her, he was simply surviving the cataclysm of emotions.
It'll be over soon. No matter what happens, knowing is better than not knowing. She hoped…
"This is making me nervous," Rex complained. Short and wiry with the tattoo of a woman partly visible at his neck, he frowned as he joined Chief Pontiff. "What if we clip the rocks? The car could get hung up."
"It's not gonna get hung up," a police officer by the name of Radcliffe said.
The tow-truck driver ignored the unsolicited input, keeping his focus on the man in charge. "I don't think this is gonna work," he insisted. "I say we bring a crane in here, Toby, before someone gets hurt or we ruin my truck."
Toby, a slight blond man with a neatly trimmed mustache, had become Chief Pontiff six months earlier and was a friend of Madeline's. They'd grown up together; she'd been close to his future wife all through high school. He shot Madeline a sympathetic glance then, lowering his voice, he turned away from her.
Still, she could make out his words. "That'll take another few days. Look at that group over there. See the woman in the middle? The one who's white as a ghost? Her mother killed herself when she was ten years old. Her father went missing when she was sixteen. And she's been standing here since dawn, getting soaked. I'm not going to send her home until I get her father's car out of this damn quarry. We need to see if his remains are inside. It's already taken me a week to arrange it."
"If she's waited that long, what's another two or three days?" Rex asked.
"It's another two or three days!" Toby nearly shouted. "And she's not the only one with an interest in what's happening here, as you can tell."
Obviously, he was talking about the Vincellis, who'd been impatient with police for being unable to solve the disappearance of their beloved uncle. No doubt Pontiff didn't want them going over his head to the mayor again, as they'd done with the previous chief.
"My most prominent citizens are sitting on pins and needles," Toby said, his voice growing calmer. "I'm going to catch more grief than you can imagine if I don't put an end to it. Soon."
The man called Rex scowled and shoved his hands in the pockets of his heavy coat. Madeline had never met him before. A distant relation of Toby's, he'd been called in from a neighboring town when their local tow truck owner said his truck wasn't capable of getting the job done. "I'm sorry," Rex said. "But with all this water and silt, combined with the weight of the car, I don't wanna risk burning out the engine of my—"
"If we wanted to wait, we would've waited," Toby interrupted. "We wouldn't be standing out here in the cold, freezing our asses off. But we called you, and you said you could do it. So can we please get this damn thing out of the water? Your truck's powerful enough to tow a semi, for cryin' out loud!"
Madeline flinched, her nerves too raw to cope with the anxiety and frustration swirling around her. It had been an emotional seven days. A week ago, a group of teenagers had come here to party; a girl had fallen in the water and been too drunk to climb out. She'd slipped under the surface before anyone could reach her and the resulting search for her body, which police located as darkness set in almost twenty-four hours later, had turned up the Cadillac missing since Lee Barker disappeared.
Copyright © 2007 by Brenda Novak.