Copyright © 2011 by J.T. Ellison, Alex Kava and Erica Spindler
All rights reserved. Prairie Wind Publishing
Cover art byBecky Hicks
Hoffman Miller Advertising
Compiled and Formatted byDeb Carlin
Prairie Wind Publishing
J.T. Ellison by Chris Blanz of Cabedge
Alex Kava by Deb Carlin of Prairie Wind Publishing
Erica Spindler by Hoffman Miller Advertising
Excerpts reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Table of Contents
THE MISSING AND THE GONE by Erica Spindler
BLOOD SUGAR BABY by J.T. Ellison
COLD METAL NIGHT by Alex Kava
GET TO KNOW THE AUTHORS
WHERE ALL THE DEAD LIE-J.T. Ellison
WATCH ME DIE-Erica Spindler
INTRODUCTION BY ALEX KAVA
July 2010 Erica Spindler, JT and Randy Ellison, Deb Carlin and I went out to dinner at Remy’s in New York City. It wasn’t the first time we had all gotten together. By now we were more than colleagues. We were friends. Sometime during dinner Deb asked Erica, JT and I if we’d ever consider writing something together. Of course, we said we’d love to. But as writers we spend a good deal of our time alone. We need to climb inside our minds and inside our characters. Rarely do we collaborate and when we do, it’s usually to contribute a short story that we’ve written alone but are including in an anthology.
Thankfully Deb continued to pester us. She volunteered to be the architect, to put together and format the book, to keep us on deadline, and to cheer us along. I mentioned to Erica and JT that it would be fun if our protagonists had to deal with the same serial killer, each in her own city. From there we started developing our killer including his MO, the weapon he used, even the victims he chose. Then we decided who had to deal with him first, second and third. And that’s the order the stories were written, so that we could respond to each other.
SLICES OF NIGHT is the result. We have had an incredible experience working on this together for all of you, our readers. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we have enjoyed writing it.
To DEB CARLIN,
You pulled this together, an insane, thankless task.
But you did it with grace, aplomb and good humor.
Lady, you're amazing!
Erica to J.T. and Alex:
Without you this business would be a lot more difficult
~and a lot less fun.
THE MISSING AND THE GONE
Until today, N.O.P.D. Detective Stacy Killian figured she was made of relatively tough stuff. She'd weathered some horrendous shit, including being shot, kidnapped, and betrayed on the most elemental level. She'd figured she had seen it all when it came to pain and suffering, both hers and that of her fellow human beings.
She would never be cocky again. Never think she was so big and bad.
She'd lost the baby.
The one neither she nor Spencer had planned for. The pregnancy. Her first reaction to it had been Hell, no. Not now, not yet.
But then it had begun to change her. Everything from the way she viewed her body to the way she made love to her husband. She was going to be a mother. She and Spencer had made this little boy or girl with their love.
Nine weeks later, all that was gone. And she was left empty, feeling lost and broken.
She wanted to weep. To wail and rage. If she allowed herself that luxury, she feared she wouldn't be able to stop. The pain, the sense of loss, went so deep, it had burrowed into her bones.
"I'm so sorry sweetheart."
She shifted her gaze to Spencer, perched at the side of her bed. She took in his strong, handsome face. Her husband. Her best friend.
Brokenhearted. Family was everything to him. The Malone clan was as big and close knit as they came. Seven siblings, five in law enforcement, fiercely loyal to one another.
He had been so excited. So proud.
She had to be strong for him.
"I'm okay," she said. "We'll be fine."
He frowned slightly at that. "Of course we will." He took her hand, laced their fingers. "We'll have other babies."
A knot of tears formed in her throat. But she had wanted this one. It had become real for her.
"It's good we didn't tell anyone," she said. "We won't have to deal with everyone's pity."
Again the frown. "The family needs to know. So they can help --"
"At least your sister? Jane will --"
"No," she said again, softly. "This is good. I'll get back to work, and no one will know."
Stacy worked the New Orleans Eighth District. The Eighth stretched from Howard Avenue to Elysian Fields, which included party-central --The French Quarter. The Quarter saw lots of drunk and disorderly, pandering and prostitution, drug offenses and thefts. Murders too. Though they typically killed each other after they left the party.
Dawn broke over the spire of St. Louis Cathedral. She lifted her gaze to the spire, then moved it slowly across the landscape. The Cabildo. Jackson Square. The Pontabla. Picture postcard perfect. Tourist central.
Marred this evening by emergency vehicles and crime scene tape stretched across the Cabildo's impressive colonnade.
One of the most historically significant buildings in the United States. The location of the signing of The Lousiana Purchase. Rebuilt twice. Now a museum.
Hell of a place for a murder. So not P.C..
Apparently the perp hadn't gotten the memo.
She tugged on the brim of her ball cap and glanced at her partner. "Ready Patterson?"
He yawned. "As I'll ever be."
They crossed to the scene officer, signed the log, then ducked under the scene tape.
Shadowed. Ten degrees cooler. Oddly removed from the twenty-first century French Quarter, coming to life behind her.
Stacy could almost believe she'd stepped back in time.
Except for the vic.
She and Patterson stopped just behind the pool of blood. This woman had not been in the Quarter to party. Homeless, the cardboard placard around her neck announced. Please help.
She wondered how many folks had walked by this spot without seeing her? Or noticed her but thought she was sleeping there, like so many of the homeless across U.S. cities did, in doorways, alleys, and parks.
She shifted her attention back to the victim. Ragged blue jeans. Battered denim jacket. Long sleeve shirt under that. Wearing a Saints ball cap, ponytail poking out the back--same as Stacy. Frayed backpack on the walkway beside her. Zipped. Robbery hadn't been a motive.
Stacy glanced at her partner. "Wonder how she avoided our sweep?"
"Must have been hunkered down somewhere. Came out after dark."
She nodded. The NOPD routinely herded the homeless out of the Quarter, dumping them at various shelters around the city. They were particularly thorough when big conventions were in town, like the medical convention currently visiting the Big Easy.