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Angel Falls Series Book 6
BY TESS THOMPSON
Is a serial killer walking the quiet streets of Angel Falls? Will best-selling author Peyton Patel be this next victim? Sheriff Jonas Clearwater is in a race with time to save the woman he loves.
Months earlier in a chance meeting on a lonely night, an instant attraction ignited between Peyton and Jonas, but both were hurting from personal tragedies and the timing wasn’t right. She had just buried her beloved grandfather, and he learned that his father has a fatal illness.
This time Peyton’s life is in danger, and Jonas realizes his feelings for her are real. Now, he’s in a race with time to keep Peyton from becoming the next victim.
Will the fire that’s been smoldering between them burst into flames again?
Peyton Patel closed her laptop, rubbed her eyes, and smiled. The grisly scene she’d written was good. Right up there with some of her best. She slipped her feet into her warm, fuzzy house slippers, moved from her office into the kitchen, and poured a glass of wine.
Peyton had found her calling in high school when friends at various slumber parties had practically begged to hear one of her stories. The gorier, the better. And she’d learned from the best. Her grandfather, Peter Patel, was a renowned author of horror fiction. She had taken up the mantle when he retired, and now, she wrote about ghosts, goblins, and evil government projects. She had learned to never take her work seriously because, after all, it was only make-believe. Monsters weren’t real.
Looking out her living room window, she took in the dark, swollen clouds and watched fat snowflakes fall to the ground as the temperature hovered slightly above freezing. This would be the first official snowfall of the season, but it wasn’t expected to amount to much since it was early November. She’d moved into her grandfather’s spacious home in the mountains above Angel Falls, New Mexico, to take care of him after he’d suffered a massive heart attack in September. A few weeks later, he peacefully passed away in his sleep. Much to her siblings’ dismay, he’d left his home and future royalties from his bestselling books to her. His sizeable bank account and investments had gone to his only son, Peyton’s father.
She had been Pop’s favorite grandchild, and as much as her mother had tried to guilt her into feeling bad about that fact, somehow, she couldn’t. She’d been the grandchild who had spent her summers in this big rambling house playing on the floor beside her grandfather while he sat at his desk as his nimble fingers flew across his computer keyboard.
Back then, after he finished his morning’s work, they’d take a walk on one of the many mountain trails as he rattled off the names of the flowers, trees, and bushes. They would end the day sitting bundled up in blankets on his porch, looking up at the stars as he made up exciting adventure stories. Her brother and sister had preferred to spend their time at summer camp or with friends and couldn’t understand why she’d want to have a b-o-r-i-n-g summer with Pop.
Peyton’s grandmother had died before she was born, and it had always been only Pop. He taught her everything she knew about his craft, and she had loved him more than anyone. They shared a special bond up until the day he passed away. Sometimes, even now, as she walked through the house, she could feel his presence, and she liked to believe he could hear her when she talked to him. And she spoke to him often.
Her phone rang, and as usual, she had no idea where she’d left it. Following the ringtone tune to her office, she found it underneath the clutter on her desk. She was messy when she was writing.
Her lips curved up in a smile as she answered. “Hello, Cecil. It’s been almost a week since we touched base. You must be really into it.” Cecil was Peyton’s good friend, probably her best friend and fellow author. His genre was true crime, and most times, the gore in his books was worse than anything she could make up.
“I’m sorry, sweetie,” he said. “You know how it is when you’re in the moment, so at George’s insistence, I took a couple of days off to unwind at that fabulous spa outside of Santa Fe. This book is turning out to be a real beast to write.”
Cecil was the epitome of the word nerd. He was slender and short, and his dark hair was always messy. Intelligent brown eyes peered through the lenses of his thick, black-framed glasses, and he had a perpetual smile on his lips even when they were closed.
He and Peyton had met through their mutual editor more than ten years earlier when they were both in their early twenties and hungry for success. They’d cheered each other on during the good times and held one another’s hand during the bad.
She’d invited him to come to stay in Angel Falls while he wrote his next book. He agreed on the condition that he rent his own place, insisting that he was much too temperamental to stay with anyone. And besides, he said, “Your grandfather’s house is haunted.” She thought he was teasing but maybe not. Maybe Cecil felt it too.
“So, tell me why this book is such a beast. Aren’t they all?”
“This one’s different, Peyton. Robert Wagner is different.”
“Is he the murderer?”
“Yeah, and I’ve got to tell you, he’s the best damn psycho I’ve ever interviewed. He’s got me scratching my head. I’ve got to do a little more digging, but I think this book will be an eye-opener. I can hardly believe it.”
“What do you mean? You’ve got my curiosity on overdrive.”
“We still on for dinner tonight?” he said as she noticed he expertly dodged her question.
“I wouldn’t miss it. Especially now. You will end my suspense then, won’t you?” She tried to sound angry but failed miserably.
“Yeah, I promise. I need to call a friend for some advice first, though.”
“I made my famous pecan pie cheesecake for dessert. George isn’t allergic, is he?”
“I, uh, honestly don’t know, but it doesn’t matter he won’t be able to make it after all.”
He sounded distracted or maybe a little upset and she quickly said, “Everything is all right with you two, isn’t it?”
“Oh, yeah. We’re fine. George has some work stuff to take care of and won’t make the drive up from Santa Fe. I think he’s punishing me for being so involved with this book.”
“He is obviously concerned about your health. Thus, the getaway to the spa. I’m sure his pout won’t last long. I’m looking forward to your telling me all about your trip to that fabulous spa. I read they have heated, natural spring-fed pools to soak in and massages. It’s been ages since I’ve had a good massage.”
“Looking forward to it. I’ve got to get back to work. I’ll see you in a little while. You won’t believe what I have discovered.”
Peyton pulled the cheesecake out of the refrigerator and slipped it into a plastic container for the short drive to Cecil’s condo. When they’d planned this small dinner party, Peyton had intended to bring someone, but that romance had fizzled out after the second date. The man was a financial advisor more interested in her pocketbook than in her. Now, it would only be Cecil and her, which was a good thing. Something was on Cecil’s mind, and she needed to know what it was.
It was full-on dark when she backed her Jeep out of the garage. She was a little disappointed that the snow had stopped and left only a small trace of white on the ground. This time of year was slow for the resort town, and she’d seen only one other vehicle as she drove farther up the mountain.
Cecil’s place was recently remodeled and had a large spacious kitchen towards the back of the condo. She assumed that’s where he was since there were no lights in the front windows. Either that or he’d lost all sense of time and was holed up in his office writing.
She heard the echo of the ringing doorbell and waited several seconds while tapping her foot. She shifted the container she was holding to one hand and rang the bell again. Finally, setting the cake down on the porch, she pulled her keyring out of her purse and used the spare key he’d given her to open the door.
“Cecil, what’s up?” Her voice was shrill and irritated as she walked into the darkroom. “Cecil?” she called again. A chill ran from her neck down her spine. She turned on a light and looked around the room. Everything was neat and orderly. A small light glowed from above the sink, but the space was empty. Did he go somewhere? Maybe to the store to buy something he forgot.
She opened the door to the garage, and when she saw his SUV, her heart jumped into her throat. “Cecil,” she cried out, “where are you?”
Depositing the dessert on the kitchen bar, she hurried toward the office. Peyton could see the back of Cecil’s head as he sat in his chair in front of his desk facing the window. “Cecil, you scared me to death. This is no time to take a nap. You have a dinner guest.”
Peyton laughed even as the unthinkable entered her mind. She touched him on the shoulder as the chair swiveled toward her. She stumbled backward with a scream on her lips as she took in his slumped and lifeless body. White pills lay scattered on the desktop and across his lap.
Charlene Tess and Judi Thompson are sisters who live over 1400 miles apart. They combined their two last names into the pen name Tess Thompson and write novels as a team.
Judi Thompson has been writing since her early teens. She lives with her husband Roger in Texas. She is a retired supervisor for special education in a local school district.
Charlene Tess is a retired writing teacher and writes educational materials for TeachersPayTeachers.com. She lives with her husband Jerry in Colorado.
Links to Tess’ website, blog, books, #ad etc.:
Contact authors at email@example.com.
Special Giveaway: Tess will give away an Ebook copy of any of the books in the Angel Falls Series to one lucky reader who comments on their Karen’s Killer Book Bench blog. Good luck!
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