(If you’re new to A Crimson Homecoming, CLICK HERE to start from the beginning or to catch up on the episodes you missed.)
Welcome back to A Crimson Homecoming – A Romantic Suspense Serial. I know it’s been way too long since we visited this story, and you guys have been amazing with your emails and requests for more.
So, what happened? Why did I stop posting episodes so abruptly?
There were two reasons, actually. I’m going to share one of them with you.
Deadlines Are No Joke
I schedule deadlines with my editor way in advance, and I try very hard to never change those deadlines out of respect for his schedule and out of respect for my own plan to put books out into the world. And, to put it simply, I got behind on getting both A Thief Revealed and A Thief Consumed done in time for those deadlines. And let’s face it, If I don’t publish books, I no longer make a living. So… I had to put all distractions aside for those two deadlines.
Then a busy summer happened. And a crazy fall.
But now? I have a renewed passion for getting A Crimson Homecoming done. I’ve even outlined the rest of the story… sort of.
What’s the future look like for A Crimson Homecoming?
At this point, I’m not sure how I plan to ultimately deliver A Crimson Homecoming to readers. Will I continue to post episodes (scenes/chapters) on the blog? Or will I blaze ahead and finish the entire story and publish it? Those are questions I’m asking myself right now as I’m writing.
For now, I’m going to post snippets and scenes on the blog, and I hope you enjoy them.
Here is the next scene in A Crimson Homecoming…
A Crimson Homecoming:
A Payne’s Creek Romantic Suspense Serial, Part VII
I awoke to the smell of bacon and coffee. I rolled over and stared at the ceiling. A ceiling fan was spinning quietly and at a lazy speed above me, generating just enough of a breeze to cool my body.
I was in Coop’s bed. He had insisted I sleep here while he slept on the couch downstairs. The other bedrooms in the house were either in at various stages of remodeling or being used as storage.
I sat up and looked around the room. It looked different in the morning light than it had the previous evening when Coop convinced me to stay instead of driving back to Bryn’s. I felt uncomfortable displacing him from his own bed, but neither of us were ready for anything more than the lovely dinner of lasagna, garlic bread, and red wine we’d shared while reminiscing over high school memories. And I couldn’t go back to my blood-drenched room at Grammy’s.
I ran my fingers over my lips, remembering the light kiss Coop had given me before I took to his bed alone.
Some things sure had changed. Coop certainly kissed differently. There was a calm maturity about him now. We weren’t the angsty teens we’d been twelve years ago.
But more had changed than the feel of his lips on mine. I was different. I was in trouble—the type of trouble I couldn’t drag my family and friends into. At least any more than I already had. And no amount of innocent necking was going to change that.
No. I needed to stick with the plan: get a name change, return to New York, and do my best to start over.
The sound of someone ringing Coop’s doorbell followed by an urgent rapping on Coop’s front door jerked me out of my thoughts. I heard Coop greet someone—two men, maybe. I scrambled from my bed and quickly changed from one of Coop’s T-shirts and back into the clothes I’d worn last night.
I stepped lightly down the stairs. Out the front windows were two vehicles from the sheriff’s office, emergency lights flashing through the front windows.
I made my way to the back of the house where Sheriff Daniels and one of his deputies were speaking to Coop.
“We were here all night,” I heard Coop say, but didn’t make out what Sheriff Daniels said next. “Of course I didn’t hear or see anything. Don’t you think I would have called it in?” Coop ran a hand through his hair. His frustration was palpable.
“We?” Sheriff Daniels asked.
The sheriff’s deputy spotted me as I appeared at the entrance to the great room. He cleared his throat and nodded in my direction when the other two looked at him.
“What’s happened?” I asked as the three men turned and faced me.
Recognition flashed across the sheriff’s face as he quickly jumped to the wrong conclusion, if I was reading him correctly. It was easy to assume Coop and I had picked up where we’d left off as teenagers.
“Hi, Lil,” Sheriff Daniels said, blushing slightly, then eyed Coop.
“Sheriff,” I acknowledged, then also looked to Coop.
Coop closed his eyes for a beat. When he reopened them, something close to regret flashed in them. He walked to me. I could tell by the way he looked at me, he wanted to touch me, but he refrained. “There’s been a murder.”
I tensed. I darted my frightened eyes from Coop to the sheriff and back to Coop. “Who?” My voice shook, terrified it was someone in my family.
“Tricia? One of Bryn’s waitresses?” I asked and immediately felt guilty for only thinking of my loved ones.
“Did you know her?” Sheriff Daniels asked without confirming.
I shook my head. “Not really. I met her once at the coffeehouse. She’s not from around here, right?”
“That’s correct,” the sheriff said. “What time did you arrive here at Coop’s?” He pulled a notebook and pen from his inside jacket pocket.
“Around seven thirty or seven forty-five, I think.” I thought about it a second. “Closer to seven forty-five.”
I folded my arms across my chest. “Yes, I’m sure. Sounds a lot like you’re looking for my alibi.”
No one said anything for several beats.
I looked at Coop. “Tell me what’s going on.”
“Tricia was found dead in her car early this morning just outside the entrance to my farm. The second entrance leading to the barn,” he clarified.
“What? Did she run off the road?”
“She had two knives stuck in her,” the deputy blurted. “One to the heart. One to the stomach.”
Sheriff Daniels tossed a disappointed look at his deputy. Whether it was for show or not, I wasn’t sure. Did they really come here thinking Coop or I had something to do with killing that poor woman?
“She bled to death,” Sheriff Daniels said. He turned to Coop. “Any idea why Miss Kane would be on your property? Have you had a relationship with Tricia in the past?”
I carefully studied Coop’s reaction to that question. His jaw went rigid as he stared directly at Sheriff Daniels. “No. And no.” His voice took on a sharp edge.
“Where’s the knife that was stuck in the taxidermy rabbit sent to Lil earlier this week?”
I spun toward the sheriff just as Coop asked, “What?”
I straightened. “Why would you ask that?” But I knew why. “It was the same type of knife.”
Neither the sheriff nor the deputy confirmed my assumption.
“Locked in my vehicle,” Coop said. “We found no fingerprints on the knife. And after researching the manufacturer, I discovered that the knife was actually part of a set from the sixties. I was going to visit a couple of local antique shops to see if I could get some help tracing where someone might have purchased a set like this.”
“Can I see the knife?” Sheriff Daniels asked.
Coop turned and head toward the front door. The sheriff and his deputy followed Coop out to his vehicle on the side of the house. I, too, followed, but didn’t get too close. Coop unlocked the back of his truck and pulled out the evidence bag containing the knife.
“I’m going to need to take that,” Sheriff said.
Coop paused, holding the evidence bag at his side. “Are you removing me from this case, Stoker?”
I recognize the hurt in Coop’s voice immediately. He used the sheriff’s first name in a manner that showed everyone standing there just how personal their relationship was.
“Not officially,” the sheriff said. “But—”
“Good. You go on and ask every question you need to ask. Get a polygraph set up. Ask around about that knife and the knives in your murder. Do what you need to do to cross me off your suspect list. Because I will be helping in this investigation.”
Sheriff nodded. “Investigators will be on your property most of the day. Do they have permission to search your barn and house?”
“They have permission to get a warrant.”
“Very well.” Sheriff turned his gaze on me. “You’ll both need to make a statement.”
Coop said nothing more. I decided it was best if I remained silent, as well.
Sheriff Daniels and his deputy said nothing more as they returned to their vehicles and drove off. When they had pulled out onto the road and headed back toward the murder scene, Coop turned to me. “Get your purse. I’m taking you to get your things. You’ll stay here for now.”
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts about this scene in the comments below.
Also, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Facebook is changing how posts inside groups are seen (as in they’re not being seen in a lot of cases). Because of this, it’s more important than ever to sign up to receive email alerts if you’d like to be kept informed of posts like this one. I have a specific mailing list just for romantic suspense serial alerts. If you’d like to receive an email when I post new scenes from this story, sign up below.
And in case you missed the exciting news this week, Protected in Darkness (An In Darkness Novella) released on ALL retailers. This is the romantic and suspenseful sequel to Cut in Darkness. Be sure to click on the link to read the description and the first three chapters to this story. It can be read as a standalone, but would be best enjoyed after reading Exposed in Darkness and Cut in Darkness.