By: Rena Koontz
The call came in just as I was finishing my breakfast. It was my editor, telling me not to go to the office and, instead, to head to the scene of a shooting.
In a newsroom, the police scanner always runs and someone regularly has an ear tuned to it. After awhile, it becomes second nature, like the furnace or air conditioning that contributes to background noise you never really hear. It’s easy to tune out the routine minutia but the second emergency tones begin filling the airwaves, the scanner grabs your full attention. I jumped in my car and headed to the address my editor recited.
Yellow crime scene tape flapped happily in the morning breeze, incongruously at odds with the body that lay on the cement covered by a white sheet. Police cars surrounded the property, their flashing red and blue lights silently punching the stillness with colored energy. As the news reporter who regularly covered this particular city, I knew the detectives well and was allowed beyond the barrier tape, up close and personal, if you will.
There are certain life events that leave a lasting impression. This would be one of them for me, one that would ultimately be the basis for my newly released romantic suspense, “TheDevil She Knew.”
Her name is not important, although I remember it well. She was young and in love but, in a fit of rage, her boyfriend shot the life out of her. She lay on the oil-stained concrete with her eyes wide open, the surprised look ingrained on her face forever. She hadn’t been afraid of him – there was no fear in her brown eyes. They had argued and she had thrown a shoe at him, whacking him in the mouth and chipping his tooth. And so he killed her.
Those are the barest details of the real-life crime but they are recounted on the pages of “The Devil SheKnew,” where fact and fiction meet. It is this murder that my heroine, Cassidy Hoake, witnesses. In place of an angry boyfriend stands a reputed mob boss who decides to eliminate the sole witness to the crime. And so Cassidy runs for her life. She is hiding out in a small town in Ohio, aware that her only protection is anonymity. She can’t afford to make friends, least of all get involved with anyone.
Police Officer Clay Cestra presents a complication she can’t afford. He doesn’t know she is a fugitive on the run. He wants her to trust him. But she doesn’t know him, not really, And something her mother taught her once always stayed with her: Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t. She knew her demon. He was a killer and she was running from him. If she risks her life and her heart and trusts Clay Cestra, who was she running to?
“The Devil She Knew” was released May 13 by Crimson Romance and is my second romantic suspense. It is available electronically from amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, Apple iBooks, crimsonromance.com and other E-retailers. Here is an excerpt from “The Devil She Knew”
Excerpt: The Devil She Knew
Black rivulets swirled in the white porcelain sink, gurgling in the drain as it swallowed her old identity.
Her head under the faucet, Cassidy Hoake watched the waves of dark liquid fade while she continued to massage her scalp under the warm water. The box said to rinse until the water ran clear. Just a few more minutes.
She grabbed a towel, draped her head, and stood, rubbing vigorously with her eyes closed. Ready or not, she looked at her reflection in the mirror behind the sink. The new look surprised even her.
Gone was the thick, auburn mane her mother had often bragged about. She’d replaced the shoulder-length locks she’d worn since high school with a lustrous black, short haircut that she planned to spike up and out and fringe to frame her face. She stared wide-eyed at herself, then walked barefoot into the bedroom and retrieved a pair of burgundy-framed eyeglasses from the bureau. Thank goodness she’d discovered that year-round costume store. Buying items for a disguise was easy.
Standing in front of the mirror again, she took a deep breath and carefully edged the eyeglasses up her nose. Her eyebrows raised in surprise at the result. She barely recognized herself.
Surely, he wouldn’t.
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