KAREN’S KILLER BOOK BENCH: Welcome to Karen’s Killer Book Bench where readers can discover talented new authors and take a peek inside their wonderful books. This is not an age-filtered site so all book peeks are PG-13 or better. Come back and visit often. Happy reading!
Echoes of the Past Book 5
BY RACHEL TRAUTMILLER
If seeing is believing, then forget what you know…
Prison Chaplain Dexter Knight is determined to move past one horror-filled December day—in fact, he has. He’s even forgiven the woman responsible for his near-death.
Now if only he could shake the empty void in a place he knows was not always that way. If he could remember a woman well beyond her importance in his life, beyond the figment of his imagination his family assumes he created post-trauma, and the fragmented dreams he swears are real.
Internal Affairs Agent Charleen Davis wants nothing more than to fade back into her behind-the-scenes life. A string of undercover ops have left her with an entourage of concerned and overly involved friends, a sudden vested interest in Knight’s Rescue Mission, and a therapist salivating over the thought of ending life as Charleen knows it.
But the information is already in the wrong hands and silencing Charleen is the beginning to an absolute end, where taking down innocent people is a foregone conclusion.
Hiding out is no longer an option. If Charleen hopes to beat this phantom, she’ll need the one man who might dislike her more than the woman who nearly took his life. Because he—and his mysteriously absent wife—might be the only thing standing between her and death.
Between her and those dreams that aren’t what they seem, because they aren’t dreams at all.
Some secrets must be guarded. Some heroes aren’t born.
Echoes of the Past Book 5
BY RACHEL TRAUTMILLER
© 2017 Rachel Trautmiller
Charleen was the most stupid person on the planet. The truth buzzed inside every fiber of her being. This lifestyle wasn’t new, her cautious and evasive nature a well-worn habit that she never veered from.
Apparently not where Dexter was concerned.
So, how did you know, Charleen?
She flicked through the camera feed inside the Internal Affairs video lab. Rewound it, then watched the video again and tried to drown out Dexter’s seemingly simple question. Her not-so-simple answer.
The words had tumbled out so quickly, her mouth moving faster than her brain—a problem she couldn’t afford. Not with anyone, but especially Dexter.
He saw too much. Heard it with his heart instead of his ears. Was interested in digging deeper.
How was she supposed to explain that she’d known because she’d witnessed the bloodshed? No, she’d seen the direct aftermath. Been there—too little too late. That she’d traveled more consecutively than ever before. With no warning.
Dexter wasn’t going to get any of it. He wasn’t going to grasp the role he’d played through at least two of those absorptions—not only in her scope of reality, but connected to her in a way that had never happened before.
Was she supposed to blurt that out in one rush? Mosey away as if sunshine and roses ruled the day?
Beth made a long and high-pitched buzzing sound from where she sat next to Charleen inside the video lab. “Wrong conversation, Vi.” Beth propped her feet on the desk in front of her. “You start these conversations slow. Same as when you’re interviewing a suspect. Start simple. Work your way up.”
“Uh-huh. So you keep advising.” Charleen froze the old feed from last summer outside of the crime lab. “You’re forgetting the fatal flaw. I’m already on bad terms with Dexter.” She hit play. The vehicle came into view, the trajectory in line with her when she’d pulled her car out of the parking lot. There’d been no slowing. If anything, the van appeared to speed up. And then it sandwiched her Toyota between a tree and its metal before reversing, nearly running Amanda down, the latter conveniently off camera before disappearing out of sight.
None of the five angles had a clear picture of the man inside the vehicle and no distinguishing features that set it apart from any other Fords in the area, except the dent in its front bumper.
“Says you.” Beth moved her feet to the floor and leaned forward. “You’re not going to find anything on this old footage. You and Amanda already scoured it last summer. If there had been something to find, one of you would’ve found it already.”
“Searching for every Jo or Elliot isn’t exactly opening any doors either.” There were too many combinations. First name. Last name. Nickname. Children. Adults. Teens. Unless she could find a connection. A way to whittle the list down. Until then, these men were a blur of faces and nationalities. The process had led her down a ridiculous rabbit hole.
“It’s not stupid to care for someone, Vi. So you called up to Raleigh and asked for all available sign-in rosters from the rehab center the day of the explosion. You either find what you’re looking for or you don’t. No big deal.”
It was. She’d find answers on his mysterious wife, and then Dexter would be gone. That would be it. Problem solved.
A whoosh sounded in the quiet as the automatic doors to the lab opened.
“Should have known I’d find you here.” The deep masculine voice grated down her nerves with knife-like precision, an onslaught of emotions popping into her mind. Anger. Annoyance.
“Oh, goodie.” Beth crossed her arms over her chest. “Showdown number eighty-seven for the day. Featuring Mr. Bad Date. Wonder what he wants this time.”
The door slid closed as firm footfalls brought Detective Brent Harwood closer. He took the seat next to her, his large body taking up the space between their chairs. The sharp scent of his cologne incited an instant headache.
“Major Fritz is looking for you.” The words nicked over her like razor blades, hitting every raised piece of flesh along the way.
“Uh-huh.” She didn’t move. Didn’t let the prickle of anxiety covering her skin sink any deeper. Maybe if she kept her replies short and her focus elsewhere he’d leave.
“Keep dreaming, honey.” Beth’s hazel eyes were locked on Brent, his dark hair and chiseled face. The way he wore his uniform on the snug side. “He’s not going to get the hint. Your avoidance wasn’t a big enough sign. You gave chase.”
She’d accepted an undercover op. That was different. Not a chase she’d expected him to latch on to.
“From your perspective.” Beth smirked. “In his mind, you were right under his nose. Hurts the pride, honey. He’s a cop. He should’ve been able to find you, undercover deal or not. Now he’s a bad date that won’t go away.”
There had been a reprieve. At least before he’d shown up at Knight House last week.
Beth shook her head. “Because you jumped from that moment to a long series of undercover ops. Instead of confronting this issue and making it go away, you ran.”
Charleen ground her teeth together. The choice had been automatic, her decision leading to one extended mission she’d repeat.
“Which puts you right back here, Vi.” Annoyance dripped from Beth’s words.
Sent irritation through Charleen. She should’ve gone straight to the hospital. Tried to talk to Josiah. Checked in on Fay. Made sure the pair would have access to each other once Josiah came to Knight House.
Known she wouldn’t find anything of value in the Internal Affairs building.
Brent rolled a pen between his thumb and forefinger. “You hear about Hicks?”
She let out a breath. Maybe he’d shoot the breeze and leave. “Yup.” She didn’t know what to make of it. Had her words at their last counseling session hit that big a mark?
“They brought in an interim replacement. Some doctor that normally works with inmates.”
“I know.” She’d seen Dexter in Hicks’ office when she passed it and kept on walking. Pretended she’d never seen him. The image of Dexter’s tall form and violet eyes did stupid things to her stomach. “Thanks for the information.”
“Heard you made a big save today at that house on Avon Avenue.”
The slow ache building in her ribs wouldn’t let her forget. “Team effort.” Charleen flipped to another video, a scene that looked unfamiliar. She jotted down a few notes she didn’t need. Willed her hand to stop shaking.
“I didn’t realize you were back out in the field.”
She eyed him. “I wasn’t aware that you were in a position to be informed of my status.”
He leaned a forearm on the desk and moved closer. “That’s how this is going to go?”
What the…? She wasn’t backing away. Had already made that mistake today with Jo. Showing weakness had left her wide open for attack. “I guess since I have no idea what this is, yes.”
He shook his head. “I looked for you.”
She tried to keep her breathing even. She needed to get out of the room. Get out and not look back. “I wasn’t supposed to be found. That was the deal. No attachments.”
“We made plans. You disappeared. I thought something happened. Major Fritz wouldn’t give anyone any information.”
“Tell him to back off, Vi.” Beth stood. “It’s not complicated. You aren’t interested in anything with him. Period. End of story. Nothing personal, buddy. Your concern is appreciated.”
“Then you showed up on TV after the hospital shooting.” Harwood’s voice was quiet. “I’d like a chance to explain.”
Explain? She logged out of her browser and stood.
He followed suit and stepped closer. His hand moved toward her arm. The hair on her body stood at attention. If he touched her…
Rachel writes novels filled with murder, mayhem, and romance that leave her readers wanting more incredible twists and turns. SIDE NOTE: A nightlight may be required. Some bleary-eyed mornings have been known to occur. Coffee is recommended.
Rachel began weaving tales well before she could actually write. Those early stories included danger and mystery, Barbies and G.I. Joes, a few sensational heroes and their villainous counterparts. Sometimes the hero had to time warp through a hole in her backyard to save the damsel in distress and sometimes he only had to outwit the aforementioned villain. Nowadays, she leaves the Barbies to her Extremely Cute Toddler (follow ECT’s antics on Facebook) and when she’s not riveting readers with the chaotic and sizzling mess of her character’s lives, she can be found poolside with her husband, toddler, and a super snuggly dog. She enjoys football, reading, spending time with her daughter, and discussing the NFL draft with her husband. She also loves anything to do with the FBI, law enforcement, the military, and enjoying time with friends and family.
Links to Rachel’s website, blog, books, etc.
You can find (and follow) my mayhem on Amazon.
You can also stay up to date with what my characters are doing via:
Sign up for my mailing list here:
Thanks, Rachel, for sharing your book with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!