Hello again, gang!
I’m looking for a few folks to check out my new murder mystery novel called Double Blind, part of the “Death and Damages” box set.
All month I’ve been positing sample chapters from the other authors; now YOU can read my full book as a beta reader!
If you are interested, CONTACT ME and I’ll send you over a copy.
HERE IS A SAMPLE – THE FIRST TWO CHAPTERS!
TITLE: Double Blind
TAG LINE: Two detectives hunt a serial killer. The killer’s hunting them.
DESCRIPTION: A lone trucker is ambushed, shot, and brutally stabbed. A tourist meets the same fate while out for a jog. Facing two crime scenes that could have come from a horror movie, Detectives Carly Sanderson and Sergio Martin search for the crazed serial killer. Five more attacks happen in a week, launching the entire city into a panic, causing the mayor to throw all of the city’s resources into stopping the rampage. But while the detectives work around the clock, they don’t know the killer has upped the game—by making them his next targets.
The killer clutched and re-clutched the big knife, his heart pounding as he eyed his prey.
Twenty feet away, a lone, paunchy truck driver, his shirt wet with sweat, wheeled a third dolly of boxes onto a desolate loading dock. In the distance, past the dark warehouses and empty train cars, a boat horn blared. It cut through the foggy night, signaling another departure from the Port of Tampa. Maybe tourists heading to the Caribbean, maybe car parts heading to Mexico.
The killer didn’t care.
What concerned him as he crouched behind the warehouse dumpster at McClain Oil was his first victim—and how he would proceed with the murder.
His .38 would do the job the fastest, but the noise might attract attention. He glanced around. There was not another soul on 22nd street. But a gun was less satisfying. He’d learned that with raccoons and stray dogs. And you never know; some brown-noser accountant might be working late in one of the warehouse offices.
No, it needed to be the knife. He wanted it to be the knife.
He lifted it and gazed at its long, serrated blade, flipping it to admire the smoother, sharper other side. The honed edge glinted in the warehouse lights. Through his latex gloves, he gripped its thick hilt and ran his thumb along the small metal hand guard.
Beautiful craftsmanship in such a large knife.
Using the knife would be more . . . personal. He’d feel the blade go in, piercing the trucker’s shirt, sliding through the soft fat and dense organs; then he’d feel the warm, thick wetness of the blood.
Bliss. The very thought of it made him shudder in anticipation.
He licked his lips, peering over the edge of the rusty blue garbage bin.
With some effort, the truck driver bent and slid the dolly from under the boxes, pausing to wipe his brow. He pulled a cell phone from his back pocket, his considerable belly heaving as he pressed the button.
With each passing minute, the killer’s hate of this man—this stranger—grew, intensifying into a rage so he could summon the courage to go through with his plan. He needed to hate this man, to despise this stranger enough to kill him, stabbing and stabbing—and then instantly switch it off . . . and enjoy the bliss. The serenity, as the trucker kicked and clawed, fighting for his fading life.
The killer squeezed the knife handle, breathing the hot night air in quick gasps. Sweat formed on the back of his neck.
He would not chicken out. Not this time.
“Dispatch, put me through to O’Connell.” The trucker rested against the dolly, his phone pressed against his ear. He moved his head back and forth, looking skyward as if trying to get a better signal. “Mac? I decided to unload the freight myself.” He closed his eyes and covered his ear with his other hand. “I don’t care about procedures or contract rules right now. I’m three hours late as it is. The dock workers will be here in twelve hours and I need to be in Tallahassee in ten, so what do you suggest?”
He nodded. “That’s what I thought. Look, there’s nobody here and nobody comes to these warehouses after hours. If some petty thief happens by and wants to boost three palates of car parts, I say let ‘em.”
He ended the call and shoved the phone back into his rear pocket. “Moron.”
The man grabbed the dolly and tipped it backward, rolling it off the loading dock and onto his vehicle. Inside the truck, the light of a single caged bulb illuminated the plywood enclosure and a few stacks of boxes. He scribbled on his manifest, snapped shut the steel lid of his clipboard, and reached toward the light’s pull chain.
Instead, his eyes met a .38 caliber pistol pointed at him.
His jaw dropped as he backed away, raising his hands. “I don’t have a lot of money. About two hundred dollars in the cab, but it’s yours.”
The killer glared at the steel clipboard, raised high in his victim’s trembling hand. The truck driver followed the killer’s eyes, glanced at the steel case, and opened his fingers. The clipboard clattered to the floor.
The driver swallowed, his eyes wide in the dim glow of the overhead bulb. “Okay?” his voice quivered. “Two hundred bucks, and it’s all yours. It’s right up front in the—”
“You misunderstand.” The killer stepped forward, impressed with how calm his voice sounded. “I’m not here for your money.”
The man’s eyes darted about the space, his breath coming in gasps. “The freight? It’s not a big load but – but it’s yours. Hubcaps.” He swallowed hard. “Nice stuff. I’ll—I’ll even help you unload it.”
“Nope.” The killer took another step, shaking his head. “Not that either.”
“Then . . .” The blood drained out of his face.
“Are you from Atlanta? That’s what the sign on the side of your cab says. Messenger Freight, Atlanta.”
The rush came upon the killer, welling in his gut. This was no raccoon or stray dog. The tension of glorious anticipation swelled in his neck and shoulders as he moved forward, closing the distance between him and his terrified prey.
The gun had done its job. He dropped his other hand to his belt and slid the knife from its sheath. Its beautiful power mesmerized him, but only for a moment. His gripped it firmly, eyeing the man he intended to kill, smiling as he eyed the man’s soft torso.
The trucker stepped back, shaking his head, stumbling over the few remaining boxes in his vehicle. “Don’t do it. Please, just take the stuff.”
“Or are you based out of somewhere else? I’d like to keep this local if I can.” The killer’s voice was calm and even, not displaying an ounce of his desire to jump and slash.
“Please. I have a wife and kids. I have a little girl.”
The killer eyed the knife, admiring it. “That’s a shame. To think of some other guy raising your kid. Smacking her in the mouth when she gets out of line. Or maybe worse.”
The man whimpered, dropping to his knees and clasping his hands together. “You don’t have to do this.”
The killer snapped upright. “Don’t tell me what I have to do!” His voice boomed loud, blasting off the plywood walls. The trucker flinched, turning his head. The raw hatred of the killer was boiling upward, ready to become unleashed. “You don’t know what I have to do!” He screamed, his mouth turning into an ugly grimace. “You don’t know!”
He stepped back, almost staggering. Taking a deep breath, the killer steadied himself.
He raised the knife, staring past it to the truck driver’s eyes. “Only I know what I have to do. Oh, and I do know. I do.”
The itch that couldn’t be scratched, the impulse that churned within him, the adrenaline, it was all becoming too much. He wiped his forehead with the back of his hand, trying one last time for control, savoring the moment, not wanting it to pass too quickly.
“Would you . . .” His voice fell to a whisper. “Like to say a few prayers?”
The trucker groaned, unable to form words. “I—”
“Too slow.” The killer lifted the pistol and leveled it at the man’s torso. “Do you believe in fate?”
The shot was deafening inside the closed area of the vehicle. The noise of the blast bounced off the plywood walls as the flash from the muzzle turned the killer’s vision white.
The trucker fell backward, shrieking in pain, kicking and flailing as he held his gut. He crashed onto an empty wood palate, sending a bounce through the vehicle’s floor. Blood appeared on his fingers.
The killer chuckled, the release of energy surprising even him. The rush was upon him now, an uncontrollable energy that owned his every move. He fought it, wanting to go slowly, forcing himself to not leap upon the man and cut him to shreds.
“Now,” the killer shuddered. “The knife.”
He raised the blade slowly, his hands shaking with anticipation, his eyes fogged with delight.
The trucker opened his mouth to scream.
Instead, clutched his hemorrhaging gut, kicking in pain. A gob of spit swung from his mouth as he writhed and groaned on the dirty plywood floor.
“Yes,” the killer said. Twirling the big knife in his fingers, he smiled as blood seeped over the trucker’s hands. “I think . . . in here. What do you think?”
The trucker gurgled and coughed, spitting blood.
“Yes.” The killer lowered himself to the floor, crawling forward to the dying trucker. “Yes, you’re right. It’s time.”
The rush returned. His pulse throbbed in his ears as he squeezed the knife and plunged it into the trucker’s belly. Past his hands, past his protests, into his warm, soft guts. The trucker’s screams filled the air as the killer pushed the blade in deeper, warm blood meeting his waiting fingers. The serrated edge rumbled across tendons, sending vibrations up the killer’s arm. The sensation electrified him. He yanked the blade out and plunged it in again, shouting in ecstasy over the cries of his victim. The sensation was fantastic, each nerve ending alive. He thrashed and swiped, sending small wet chunks of flesh to the plywood floor as the carving continued. He was enraptured in his task. Each thrust of the knife gouged out new and bigger pieces in his bloodlust-filled rage.
The excruciating moans of the trucker were met with joyous cries of his assailant. Faster and faster, the killer chopped his way into his victim’s torso, spilling blood and kidneys and intestines in a thick, frothy soup. He raged again, screaming as he plunged the knife one final time, driving it as hard as he could inward and upward into his victim. His arm disappeared up the elbow, coming out soaked in thick, warm blood.
Sated, the killer sat back, pushing himself to rest against the plywood wall. His chest heaved as he caught his breath, blood covering his arms and abdomen. Splattered bits of his victim stuck to his cheeks and shirt.
The trucker lay as a mess on the floor, wheezing slowly as death came over him. His hand reached outward, clawing at anything. At nothing. At life.
The killer swallowed, drawing a deep breath. “You were good, my friend. A worthy first.” He sniffed, throwing his head back, clearing a stray hair from his eyes. “In fact, I want to remember this occasion.”
Exhausted, the killer crawled over to the dying man, placing his face next to his victim’s. “A souvenir, I think.”
The trucker groaned and clawed, twisting his face away.
Nodding, the killer patted the man’s shoulder. The dying eyes never moved, the open mouth dripping blood and drool.
“An ear, you think? Is that a good commemoration?”
The eyes stared into space, unfocused but not yet dead.
“No? Not an ear? A finger, then.”
The killer pushed himself to his feet and bent over to grab the dying man’s hand. He brandished the knife and let all but the last limp finger slip from his grasp.
A low moan escaped from the trucker’s lips.
“Why, thank you.” The killer smiled, firmly holding the pinky, and brought his knife under the man’s palm. He forced the blade through at the knuckle, slicing. It caught for a minute, jerking the hand upward as it snagged on the joint. A few solid pulls and a bit of rough sawing, and the finger came free. The killer held it up to the dying man’s eyes.
“I’d have rather had an ear, I think. But this will do.”
He strolled to the rear of the truck, admiring his souvenir, rolling it back and forth in the palm of his hand. His rush relieved, calmness came back to him.
“I didn’t see a wedding ring, either, you liar. And I bet you don’t have any kids. But that’s okay.” He chuckled. “It was my first death, too. Neither of us knew what to expect.”
He jumped off the back of the truck, peering back into the plywood crypt. “It was a good death. For me, anyway. And even though your pretend wife and daughter won’t miss you, you’re about to be famous.”
The faint gurgling lessened until the man fell silent. A final weak twitch from his leg, and he was done.
Sweat brimmed on the forehead of the killer, his pulse returning to normal. “Thank you.” He shuddered, releasing a final sigh of satisfaction. Straightening himself, he took a deep breath and walked into the darkness. “Thank you very much.”
Sweeping his hand over her cheek, Sergio Martin tucked a strand of soft, amber hair behind the woman’s ear, bringing his face close to hers.
The phone in his pocket buzzed.
He winced. “Do you believe that crap?”
The beautiful redhead pulled him close, brushing her nose against his. “Ignore it.”
“Yeah. Can’t.” He dud into the pocket of his blue jeans. “Duty calls.”
“Are you sure?” She leaned back on the couch, placing an elbow on the armrest and winding a finger into her hair. “Things were getting interesting.”
Sergio stood, patting his pocket. “I’m pretty sure I can’t ignore this one. It’s my work phone.”
“Would there have been a good time to interrupt this?” He pulled the phone from his pocket and mashed a button. “Detective Martin here.”
Plucking an empty wine glass off the end table, the woman sauntered across the living room to the small kitchen.
Sergio pressed the phone to his ear as he flicked on a lamp. “Warehouse district south of Ybor.” He scribbled a few notes on a pad. “22nd street. Got it. How many bodies?”
His date leaned on the counter and took a sip of her wine.
“Okay.” He shoved the pad in his back pocket. “Can you call Detective Sanderson for me? Tell her I’m leaving my house right now and I’ll be there at the scene in about fifteen minutes.” He ended the call and slid the phone back into his pocket.
“Okay if I let myself out?” The woman swirled her glass, turning its contents onto a tiny, bubbly whirlpool. “I’ve had a few drinks and don’t feel like driving.”
“Stay as long as you like. Finish the bottle.” Sergio grabbed his gun and wallet. “My wife won’t be back until tomorrow night.”
“You got yourself a deal.” She picked up the bottle of Asti and refilled her glass. The golden bubbles raced upward but the foam didn’t go past the rim. As Detective Martin picked his car keys up off the end table and headed for the door, she raised her drink and winked. “Hurry back.”
He smiled. “Lady, you’re about to see record-speed police work.” Yanking open the front door, he darted out, pulling the door shut behind him.
* * * * *
The blue strobe lights of half a dozen police cars flickered off the fronts of the warehouses on 22nd street. As Sergio stepped out of his sedan, he waved to the attending officer.
“Lieutenant Breitinger is up there, detective.” The cop pointed to a raised loading dock.
“Thanks.” He clutched his notepad and glanced at the cop’s nametag. Fuentes. Sergio made a mental note. “How’s it look?”
“Messy.” Fuentes shook his head, pointing to a truck. Messenger Freight was stenciled on the door. “The body’s inside there. I wasn’t the first one here, but I got a look. Never seen anything like it.”
“Nope. Talk about hacked up. It was brutal. I’m happy to be stringing police tape tonight.”
Sergio rubbed his chin. Fuentes looked shaken by what he saw; his face was a little pale. “Okay. Sounds like a long night ahead. I’ll see about getting some coffee to you guys in a bit. Let me know when—”
Light spilled onto the scene as the rumble of a big engine approached. Detective Martin lifted his notepad to shade his eyes from the car’s headlights. A burnt-orange Camaro with black hood stripes bounced over the patchwork asphalt.
“—when Detective Sanderson gets here.”
Fuentes chuckled, recognizing the car. “Looks like she’s here.”
Carly Sanderson put down the passenger window as she drove up to the men. “Good morning, Marty.” She nodded to the cop. “Morning, Officer Fuentes. Or is it still night? I’m not really sure.” She lifted her wrist and glanced at her watch.
“Twelve thirty goes either way, Detective.” Fuentes said.
Sergio leaned on the car door and spoke through the open window. “The boss is over on the loading dock, and the vic’s in the big truck over there.” He patted the orange roof of the car. “You can leave the General Lee right here, Daisy Duke.”
Sanderson got out of her car and gathered her dark hair into a ponytail. She eyed Sergio’s sedan. Even in the dim lights of the warehouses, the dent in the rear panel was visible. “Right. My car’s the one to make fun of.” She strolled past Sergio and Fuentes. “There’s half a dozen coffees in the back seat, Carlos. You and the guys can help yourselves.”
Officer Fuentes smiled. “Thanks, Carly.”
Sergio lifted the crime scene tape for them and walked with Carly across the parking lot. She was dressed up. White silk top and black slacks.
No high heels; her shoes were practical flats—all cop.
Guess she swapped them out in the car.
When they reached the worn concrete steps of the loading dock, Sergio shoved a hand in his pocket. “How’s your Friday night going?”
“Probably the same as yours.” Carly climbed the stairs and waved a finger under her chin. “You have some lipstick on your . . .”
Sergio wiped his face with the back of his hand, then quickly followed his partner up the steps.
A few cops lingered at the back of the truck. They parted as Lieutenant Breitinger stepped out and moved past them onto the loading dock. He put a hand on the truck frame and shook his head. Behind him, camera flashes filled the van with blasts of light like a summertime electrical storm.
Breitinger glanced at the detectives. “Good morning. Nice of you to join us.” He pulled a handkerchief out of his suit pocket and wiped his mouth.
Sergio raised his eyebrows. “Is it that bad in there?”
The lieutenant took a slow, deep breath. “Worst thing I’ve seen in twenty years.” He sniffled, wiping his nose with the hanky and glancing over the street of warehouses. “Some palm trees around here are driving my allergies nuts, the stupid things. It’s November. They should stick to blooming in summer like everything else.”
“Yeah.” Sergio eyed the truck. The uniformed officers there didn’t seem too happy at what they’d seen inside, either.
Carly pulled a notepad from her hip pocket. “Do we have a name on our vic yet, sir?”
“Yeah. Victor Franklin. Local short run driver. Shot once in the gut and then hacked to pieces with a long blade knife.”
Segio flipped open his notepad and slid the pen from its leather clasp. “Was it a robbery?”
“No, and I want you guys to pay attention to me on this. Over here.” The lieutenant placed his hand on Sergio’s shoulder, pointing to a spot on the loading dock away from where the uniformed officers stood. Carly and Sergio walked with him there.
Their boss lowered his voice. “Whoever did this is one sick individual. They didn’t rob the guy and they didn’t just kill him. It doesn’t look like the murderer got interrupted, it looks like . . .” Breitinger chewed his lip. “The killer took his time. He hacked the guy up like he was enjoying it.”
Carly nodded. “Think it’s part of something bigger?”
“Let’s hope not.” Beitinger grimaced, dragging the hanky under his nose again.
A young uniformed officer shouted from the far end of the loading dock. “Lieutenant, the coroner’s here.”
Breitinger waved at the cop, then turned his attention back to the detectives. “Stay on it, keep me posted, keep it tight. Report to me only, until we know what’s up.” He stepped away, walking backwards as he spoke. “Find this sicko. Fast.”
“Got it boss.” Sergio crossed from the loading dock to the truck. The vehicle floor swayed slightly with his weight as he stepped aboard. Carly followed, bouncing it again.
The bulb in the truck lit the gruesome scene, a picture right out of a horror movie. A middle-aged man lay prone on the floor, massive pools of blood surrounding him. His eyes stared at the ceiling, his mouth hanging agape and crusted with blood. His chest and abdomen were flayed apart, soaked red with blood to the point where it was impossible to tell where his shredded clothing stopped and his ripped body began. A small blowfly crawled over his forehead and across his eye, pausing briefly before crossing the man’s cheek and disappearing into his gaping mouth.
Standing in the back of the truck, Sergio exhaled sharply and forced himself to swallow so he wouldn’t gag. The streams of drying blood nearly reached all the way to his feet. The putrid stench from the severed intestines and hacked organs hung in the air, reeking like an overused porta potty on a hot day at the fair.
Carly held her hand over her nose and mouth. Nobody would be drinking any coffee at this crime scene.
She pulled on a pair of latex gloves and squatted, examining a bloody footprint. Large sole, with a pattern. A man’s running shoe. She raised her eyes and glanced at the walls of the truck. Blood splatter coated nearly everything. “From the looks of this mess, we’re in for a long night.”
“Yeah.” Sergio put his hands on his hips, sighing. “But our killer left behind a ton of evidence.”
“He’s new at this.” Carly glanced at Sergio. “Or he didn’t care.”
“Well, happy Thanksgiving, partner.” Sergio tucked his notepad under his arm and reached for his gloves. “Can’t wait to see what this maniac does for Christmas.”
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