Can’t wait for January 6 to catch up with Nichelle and the gang? Here’s a little preview of chapter one:
Near-bottom on my list of ways to spend a Saturday night: going to work dressed like an extra from Flashdance. Criminals have such little respect for reporters’ social lives.
I ducked under crime scene tape and glanced around a decaying concrete building, the holes left by missing sections of wall offering moonlit views of the colossal boulders of Belle Isle.
Boulders I was out of breath from scaling in heels and a miniskirt. And it looked like I wasn’t through climbing yet.
“Did I miss a memo about Halloween moving to June?” Aaron White, the Richmond police spokesman, called from ten feet above my head.
“Aw, c’mon, Aaron—all the cool kids are wearing Lycra and leg warmers.” I put one Manolo on the bottom rung of a circus-length extension ladder. “One step at a time, don’t look down,” I muttered. Ladders and stilettos aren’t really meant to mix.
“I’m firmly out of the loop on two counts, then—no one’s called me a kid in at least a decade.” Aaron chuckled.
“One count. You’re the coolest not-kid I know.” Stepping into the loft, I shot a bracing hand out for the graffitied wall when my foot slid under me. “Do I want to know what I’m walking in, here?”
“Not blood. I make no guarantees beyond that,” Aaron said, a snicker slipping through his teeth as RPD floodlights illuminated my racing-stripe plum blush and the cloud of White Rain and frizz surrounding my head. “What are you supposed to be? You look like a h—”
“Shut up,” I said, shooting him a warning glare that’d probably be more foreboding minus the four layers of neon eyeshadow. “No, don’t. But lay off the costume—haven’t you ever seen Flashdance? I bailed on my best friend’s eighties night in the middle of her margarita-fueled performance of ‘Material Girl’ to come out here and climb rocks in four-inch heels.”
“You match the scene, anyhow.” He walked down a narrow hallway lined with tiny stalls, waving for me to follow. “This looks like something out of an eighties movie. Just not one with dancers.”
The coppery tang of blood—a lot of it—smacked me in the face as I followed Aaron around a corner. My stomach tightened around bites of hors d’oeuvre, making me wish I was back at Jenna’s house. Two sips into my Midori sour, my scanner had started squawking. Combine the body-discovery chatter with Aaron’s text (come across the rocks—have exclusive for you), and the party didn’t stand a chance.
I paused when Aaron turned back, his wide shoulders blocking a brightly-lit corner of spray-paint-tagged loft. I’d worked with him long enough to know that look. Probably a good thing I didn’t have much in my stomach.
“Stay back here,” he cautioned. “Forensics is still working. I’ve got a uniform out by the bridge keeping the cameras at bay, but I wanted you to get a look at what we’re dealing with here.”
“At the risk of getting myself thrown out after I played Frogger across the rocks in this getup, why?”
His lips disappeared into a thin white line. “People who won’t talk to us will talk to you. We need your help, Nichelle.”
He stepped to one side and ice washed over me in the balmy summer air, a scream sticking in my throat.
“Evil. Evil is the only word I’ve got.” Aaron’s low voice barely crossed the blood pounding in my ears. “I’ve been a cop for twenty years, and I’ve never seen anything like this.”