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!
Angel Falls Series Book 3
BY TESS THOMPSON
When Detective Dominick Flores’ ex-wife disappears, he must find her to put his two sons’ minds at rest. He puts his trust in Kris Eastman, a private investigator whom he met the year before while he was investigating one of her brother, Roddy Eastman’s clients. Attorney Roddy Eastman has faced off with Dominick in court many times as they each tried to do their jobs fairly. The two men bear grudging respect for one another.
After the case turns into a homicide, Dom is accused of murder, and the evidence against him mounts. Kris calls on Roddy to help, and Dom agrees to let Roddy represent him. Kris puts her life and her reputation on the line to save Dom and flush out the real killer.
When the killer kidnaps Dom’s boys and takes them to a campground in the snow-covered Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Dom goes after them. Somehow, Kris must find a way to rescue the man and his children who have stolen her heart.
Cold January air blew through the open door into the small office, scattered the papers stacked on Kris Eastman’s desk, and sent a chill racing up her body. “Damn,” she mumbled and backed out from under the credenza where she had been plugging in her computer.
Kris turned to see the ridiculously handsome man, with short black hair, a five o’clock shadow, and chocolate brown eyes, standing in the entrance and frowned when she said, “Shut the blasted door, will you? It’s cold out there.”
“Sorry. I wasn’t sure I was in the right place.”
Kris watched his eyes travel across her body and realized she was doing the same thing. She hadn’t seen Dominick Flores in months. Not since her friend Pepper’s kidnapper had been identified. She stood, brushed off the dust from the tile floor, and held out her hand.
“What brings you here, Detective?” Then she slapped her head and let out a sarcastic laugh, “I know, you came to congratulate me on opening up my own business.”
“I did hear a rumor, and a good PI is hard to find.”
“Are you giving me a compliment?”
“Do you mind if I sit down? I’d like to talk to you, and yes, I guess I am giving you a compliment. You did an amazing job helping bring Pepper’s kidnapper to justice.”
Kris pointed to a folding chair holding several boxes and said, “Move that stuff aside. You want coffee?”
“Yes, please. I guess you’ve done pretty well for yourself. No more all-night stakeouts?”
“The publicity from Pepper’s case got me a lot of business. I’m not rolling in the green stuff but was able to lease this office space and move out of Roddy’s house.”
“How is your brother doing?”
“Good. I’m sure you’ve run into each other at the courthouse a couple of times these last few months.”
“No, actually, we haven’t. Maybe in passing, but I haven’t been a witness at any of his trials, thank goodness. He’s one tough defense lawyer.”
“He and Pepper have moved in together, and I’m renting her house. It’s not too far from Roddy’s, and I’m able to get there most days to take care of my horses.”
“It doesn’t bother you, living in a house where a man was murdered?”
“I never thought about it, but now that you’ve mentioned it, I’ll probably not get a wink of sleep all night long.”
He laughed as his eyes took in the room and then came back to rest on her face.
Kris looked at him while waiting for an explanation, and when he remained silent, she blurted out, “All right. The suspense is killing me. Why are you here? It’s not like we’re bosom buddies or anything?” She placed a mug of coffee in his hand and moved toward her desk.
Dominick’s lips curved into a crooked smile. “I want you to find my ex-wife. I’ll pay the going rate plus your expenses.”
“What?” Kris said, plopping down in the rolling chair behind her desk. “You have a wife?”
“Ex-wife, and I knew this was going to be a mistake,” he said as he set the coffee down and started to rise.
“Sit down. Take it easy. I’m sorry. Talk to me and tell me what’s going on.”
“It’s not that I need to find her, but my kids do. She sort of disappeared, and my boys are pretty upset.”
For the second time that morning, shock flashed across Kris’s face. “You have kids?”
“Yes, I have kids. What? You think I wouldn’t make a good father?”
“No, not at all.” She shook her head and said, “Frankly, I have no idea. You’re a cop, and from working with you, I know you’re a good one. I don’t know how you have the time to have a family if you’re divorced, but then I guess your ex has custody.”
“No, I do. I have since Carter was two. He’s my youngest.”
“Geez, you’re Superman or something. I have trouble making time for two horses.” She took out a legal pad and looked up expectantly. “Give me some background.”
“We weren’t happy, and we divorced about thirteen years ago. I have the kids and Jasmine’s career is an interesting one … well … she works nights.”
“You make her sound like a stripper.” Kris looked at his face and burst out laughing. “Oh my, you married a stripper.”
“I don’t think this is a good idea. You aren’t taking this seriously at all. I came here for help, but I can see that the situation is a big joke to you.”
Kris felt like an ass. She leaned forward and clasped her hands on the desk. “I’m sorry, Dom. I apologize. You’re correct. A missing mother is no joke. I’ll help you all I can. Tell me about Jasmine.”
“We met in high school. She was gorgeous then, still is. We were pretty hot and heavy, and she got pregnant our senior year. We got married and she moved in with me at my parents’ home.”
“It must have been difficult, becoming a father when you were a teenager.”
“It wasn’t a picnic. I’m the youngest of six, and my siblings were mostly grown and gone. I’d never been around babies, but being a dad, although scary, was the greatest feeling. Anyway, going back to Jasmine. After Carter was born, everything fell apart. I was in college and working part-time for my father. She supposedly had a job waitressing at night. I say supposedly. Turns out, she was working at the Candlelight Gentlemen’s Club.”
Kris wasn’t a prude or a do-gooder, but she had never understood how a woman could take her clothes off for men for money. But who was she to judge? “I guess that could be a dangerous profession.”
“She’s been living the party life for some time. She had a habit of disappearing for days at a time, but as frivolous and flighty as she is, Jasmine never missed any of the kids’ events, and she always remembered the boys’ birthdays and tried to be a part of their lives. Last week was Carter’s birthday. He turned fifteen. No phone call, no card. Nothing.”
“I can assume you tried to get in contact with her?”
“Sure. I called several times. Went to her apartment and her job.” He sighed and said, “Nothing.”
Kris got up and poured herself another cup of coffee and nodded toward Dom. “Not for me, thanks.”
“What do the police have to say?”
“Since she lives in the county and not the city, I can’t really throw my weight around. It’s not like I have any influence. I got in touch with the sheriff’s department and asked them to do a wellness check. Her apartment was neat and clean, with no sign of foul play.”
“Could she have taken a vacation without your knowledge? Gone to visit relatives and simply forgotten your son’s birthday?”
“Sure, that’s possible. But not likely.” He ran his fingers through his short hair and said, “I’ve got this feeling in my gut that something bad has happened to her.” He looked up, and Kris could see the pain in his eyes.
Did he still love this woman after so many years? Is that why he was still single? Kris liked Dom, perhaps a little too much, and she tried to not make her job personal. But sometimes it happened.
“I’ll take your case, Dom, but I’ll need more background information on Jasmine, including friends, co-workers, and I’ll need to interview the boys. They may know something that you don’t.” When she saw him start to object, Kris put up her hand. “You were a teenager once. Did you tell your dad everything when you were their age? I know there were lots of things I didn’t tell mine. They may not even know they know something.”
Thirty minutes later, Kris got up to shake Dom’s hand and smiled inwardly as the hand holding lasted a little longer than was necessary. As he walked out the door, she watched him until he reached an SUV parked a few cars down from her office.
“You sure made a mess out of that meeting, didn’t you, Kris?” she spoke softly to herself, and moved back from the window as his truck pulled out of the small strip mall parking lot. Why was it that he brought out the worst in her whenever they were together? Why did her heart beat a little faster as her mouth opened and spilled out the most hateful things? She didn’t want to work for Dominick Flores, but she found it impossible to say no.
Tess Thompson is a pen name for two sisters who combined their two last names into a pseudonym when they begin writing novels as a team in 2002. Charlene Tess lives in Colorado with her husband Jerry, and Judi Thompson lives in Texas with her husband Roger. The sisters collaborate by text message, email, cell phone, and whenever possible get together to plot a new novel.
Links to Tess’s website, blog, books, etc.:
Contact Tess Thompson
Thanks, ladies, for sharing your story with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!