Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Mystery
Publisher: ThomasMax Publishing
Publication Date: June 1, 2017
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A young woman has been murdered at the Savannah Rapids Pavilion and Lieutenant Jim DeLong realizes at first sight this case will be the most difficult one of his career. DeLong is immediately swept into the memories of his childhood and dark secrets he’s longed to forget.
The victim is his sister-in-law, and old thoughts he’s fought to delete will be resurrected whether DeLong likes it or not. He and his brother have been estranged by unhappy times in their youth. With no clear motive, DeLong questions his ability to remain objective.
DeLong closed the garage door and went inside the house. He heard soft murmurs floating from the living room. He knew his six-year-old daughter, Bella, was in school, so he guessed Samantha was probably watching television. DeLong was glad to be with his wife, even for just a few minutes. After coming onto the scene and seeing his brother’s wife, he just wanted to hold on to Samantha and never let her go. It was nothing but a harsh reminder that in the blink of an eye, everything can go wrong. The memory of Bree was etched in his mind and continued to haunt him. Seeing her in the water left him feeling empty.
Samantha liked to tell him that everything happened for a reason. But there was no reason for women like Bree DeLong to be murdered. She was a kind-hearted young woman who wanted nothing more than to help those less fortunate—particularly children.
“Honey, I’m home,” DeLong called out. Draping his jacket on the back of the kitchen chair, he let out a long yawn. His eyes felt heavy, and his stomach rumbled. But despite his hunger, he didn’t feel much like eating. He would opt for a quick nap, but he wasn’t sure that would happen either.
“Jim, we’re in here, honey.”
Was someone here?
Remembering the urgency in Samantha’s text resulted in his stomach churning. DeLong grabbed a Coke can from the refrigerator and stepped into the living room.
Though deep down it didn’t come to a surprise to him, DeLong almost dropped the can when he saw his brother sitting on the couch next to his wife.
“Sully.” He blinked a few times as if he were trying to stop imagining things. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m sorry to come here like this.” Sullivan glanced over at Samantha, then back at DeLong. He looked as though he wanted to say something and then shook his head. Sullivan pushed to his feet. “Sorry, Sam, I can’t do this. I really should go.”
Samantha put a hand on his wrist to keep him from moving away.
“You’re always welcome here, Sully. Right, Jim?” She shot her husband a look of warning.
“Of course,” he stammered.
Samantha pulled Sullivan back to the cushions. DeLong studied his older brother for a good five minutes, taking in every sadness, every anger. He seemed to have aged a few more years since DeLong had seen him at the morgue. His eyes were hollow, and he looked as though he hadn’t slept for a week. He wanted to say something consoling to him, but what could he say? There were no words to ease someone in this time of grief. If there were, he wasn’t aware of them.
“How are you doing?” He sat on the edge of the coffee table. Sullivan only shook his head. His eyes began to water, a single tear sliding down the corner of his eye. He bounced his knees and set his head in his hands.
“I didn’t have anywhere else to go,” Sullivan mumbled. “Ally’s in school. I-I went there to tell her what happened, but I just couldn’t.”
“We’ll figure this out. It’ll be OK.” DeLong cleared his throat, pressed his fingertips to his eyelids, and then leaned in toward his brother. “Why don’t you go ahead and tell me everything you know? Start from the last time you spoke to or saw Bree. What she was doing, where she went, who she spoke to…don’t leave anything out.”
Sullivan looked at DeLong, then Samantha and back again. “The last time we spoke was yesterday morning. I think around six or so. It was before she took Ally to school.”
“How did she seem?” DeLong asked.
Sullivan shrugged. “Normal.”
“Do you know what her plan for the day was?”
“I think she was going to that center she runs—Protecting the Lord’s Children. After that…” Sullivan trailed off. He seemed to be thinking about what he wanted to say next. Finally, he replied, “After that, she was supposed to go home.”
“But she didn’t go home?” DeLong pressed.
“I don’t know. I went fishing with an old friend.”
“From what time to what time?”
Sullivan narrowed his eyes at DeLong. “What does that matter?”
“I need to build a timeline,” DeLong explained. “That’s all.”
Sullivan squared his jaw, reminding DeLong of how their father always looked when he was forcing himself to remain calm.
“Ten that morning to five in the evening. We went to Clarks Hill Lake.”
“What’s your friend’s name?”
“James Simmons. We used to work together.”
“Where did you go after fishing?” DeLong asked slowly. He motioned for Samantha to hand him a pad from the end table. He began writing the information down.
“Are you implying that I killed her?” Sullivan snapped. DeLong looked up to see the hot anger flash in Sullivan’s eyes. He opened his mouth to say something else, but before he did, DeLong held up his palm. He was used to spouses getting flustered by the police as they attempted to weed out suspects. His brother was no different.
“I have to ask these questions, Sully.”
“I wouldn’t hurt her. I loved my wife. We had a good marriage. I can’t…I can’t believe you’d actually think I’d….” Sullivan trailed off and rose to pace the room.
DeLong remained silent, watching. Samantha glared at him. DeLong shook his head slightly to warn her to stay out of it.
“We were happy,” Sullivan continued tautly. “She didn’t leave me, and she wasn’t having any kind of affair. We were happy.”
“Good. Did she have any friends that wanted something more from her? Something she wasn’t willing to give him?”
Sullivan shook his head with conviction. “No. I mean, everybody loved her. You know that. That goes without saying. People loved her, but not in any romantic sense.”
“Did she seem upset at all? Like she was worried about something?”
“No. I mean, I don’t think so.”
“And you? Is everything good with you? You don’t have anything to worry about? Anything that’s upsetting you?”
DeLong watched as his brother gazed at him. It looked as though he wanted to say something, but couldn’t decide what it would be. Finally, he put his head in his hands, sighed and looked back at DeLong.
“Why don’t you go ahead and say it, Jim.”
“What are you talking about? I need to ask you these questions. I’m just covering all the bases, Sully.”
“These questions are pointless!” Sullivan sliced his hands in the air. “How is whatever it was I did going to help find my wife’s killer?”
“Why don’t you just answer my questions, Sullivan? Let me do my job.” The words come out gruffer than he intended, which resulted in his wife hissing his name.
Sullivan gaped at his brother, frowning, arms tightly crossed against his chest. Finally, he shook his head in agitation.
“No. I was wrong to come here. What was I thinking? I mean, I need someone capable enough to find out who murdered my wife.” A mixture of undeniable anger and pain flashed in Sullivan’s eyes. “I need someone that I can trust.”
“You can trust Jim, Sully,” Samantha interjected, eyes wide, glistening with tears and worry.
Sullivan let out a scoff. “Him? Jim DeLong? Are you kidding me? No offense, but my drunk little brother could fly off the rails at any moment. You of all people should know that.”
DeLong squared his jaw in an effort to stay calm. He remained quiet as Samantha stammered.
Sullivan shook his head and cursed. “Forget it. This was a mistake, and I’m out of here.”
Before anyone could respond, Sullivan flew out the door. DeLong frowned, well aware that Samantha was glaring at him.
“Go stop him!” she hissed through her teeth, jabbing her index finger toward the door.
Obliging, DeLong chased after his brother, calling his name. He knew it was a fruitless effort, even before he saw Sullivan climbing in his car and pulling away, tires spinning hotly on the cement.
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Equipped with a professional writing degree from Augusta State University, Angela Kay is a southern lady who spends her days and nights dreaming up new ways to solve dark murders of normal people.
Angela Kay was one of 23 across the United States to win a 2009 playwright contest for her one-act entitled “Digging Deeper.” Because of this, she was able to spend a week in Atlanta at the Horizon Theater Company.
She lives in Augusta, Georgia with her crazy calico, Maggie.
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