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STONE COLD CASE
Rock Shop Mystery, Book Two
BY CATHERINE DILTS
Rock shop owner Morgan Iverson’s discovery of human remains reopens a cold case and unhealed wounds in a Colorado mountain town, while her find of a rare gemstone sparks a dangerous treasure hunt.
What reviewers are saying:
Mark Baker from the Carstairs Considers blog says:
The mystery was interesting and compelling with many twists and turns before we reached the exciting climax. I was actually intending to stop reading for the night so I could get some other things done, but when I hit the climax, I couldn’t stop. I had to see how everything was going to work out.
Glenda Bixler from Book Reader’s Heaven says:
If you enjoy playing amateur sleuth, I highly recommend you consider Stone Cold Case. It is intriguing enough to hold your attention, yet, light enough to not get too deep into dangerous situations…at least it was until the climactic ending! Enjoy!
From J Bronder Book Reviews blog:
Although this is the second book in the series, you can easily read it as a stand-alone. If you like mysteries, look no further. The Rock Shop Mystery series is one that you have to check out.
Tiffany from A TiffyFit’s Reading Corner said:
This is a wonderful mystery with a lot of stories going on underneath the main storyline. I loved getting to know the characters and the little intricacies that made them stand out as real people.
STONE COLD CASE
Rock Shop Mystery, Book Two
BY CATHERINE DILTS
Morgan wiped off her cell phone. It was undamaged, but there was no signal. Her classmates had attempted several times on the hike to makes calls, with no success. They had lost contact with civilization shortly after leaving the trailhead parking lot.
Morgan rested her hands on her hips and forced herself to breathe. Think. Trevin may not be worried right now, but soon he would realize something was wrong.
Morgan cupped her hands around her mouth. “Hello! Trevin!”
The forest muffled her voice, soaking it up like the rocky earth absorbed the rain. Morgan thought a person had to do spectacularly stupid things to get lost in the wilderness, but apparently all it took was losing your footing.
Trevin wouldn’t panic and run through the forest looking for Morgan. He had more woods-savvy than that. No, it was more likely that he would return to the parking lot to get help.
For now, the dull light of a cloud-shrouded sun illuminated the pine forest, but soon it would drop behind Temple Mountain. Morgan studied the cliff. Crumbling earth rose above her. Even dry, it would be difficult to climb. Rain saturated, it might be dangerous. The geology class had crossed a bridge during their multi-vehicle caravan up the dirt road, carpooling to the small trailhead parking lot. If she followed the stream, surely it would lead her to the forest service road. Morgan scrambled alongside the cascading water.
When she glimpsed blue through the brush, she dared hope it was a windbreaker worn by one of her classmates. Morgan abandoned the bank of the stream. She trotted across a patch of open ground, where a rock campfire ring corralled rusting tin cans.
“Hello!” She stopped abruptly, her boots skidding on the damp gravel. “Oh.”
The blue was the remnant of a tarp, faded by exposure to the elements. The shredded plastic covered a low, narrow door. If Morgan had not noticed the blue contrasting with the greens and browns of the forest, she might have hiked right by the structure.
Prospectors’ shelters dotted the Colorado mountains in varied forms, from crude sod huts to finely constructed log cabins. This dugout was somewhere in between, and in better shape than the crumbling ruins Morgan had seen. From the front and both sides, it appeared to be a rough-hewn log cabin, while the rear butted up to the hillside. If she had to spend the night in the forest, the dugout might keep her dry. The wood-shingled flat roof, layered with pine needles and fallen branches, seemed intact.
Flowers in neat mounds framed the doorway. Morgan stooped to squint at them. Rows of tiny elephant heads lined up along the stems. No one would believe her, if she survived the night to tell about them. Maybe fear was making her delusional. Morgan snapped a photo. The flash probably frightened off any woodland creatures in the increasingly dark forest. Either that, or it alerted potential predators.
The clouds released a deluge of cold, stinging rain, ending her botanical study. Morgan pulled the shreds of blue tarp to one side and peeked inside. The shelter was too dark for her comfort, but most likely perfect for spiders and centipedes. She could dig a flashlight out of her pack once inside, but for now she used the flash on her cell phone camera. A half dozen sturdy pine columns held up the roof. From the mounds of debris and expansive spider webs, she doubted a human had occupied the dugout recently. The shelter might be a disappointment in a dozen ways, but it was dry. She huddled inside the doorway, trying to think of what to do next.
Stay put. Wait for help. When the rain slowed to a drizzle, Morgan fought the urge to continue hunting for the road. Doing nothing was hard, but wandering around the forest would only make things worse. Morgan dropped her pack on the ground and unzipped a pocket, prepared for a long stay in the dugout.
Cracking branches sounded from the far bank of the creek. Morgan pushed the pack aside and peeked through the shredded strips of tarp, hoping to see Search and Rescue.
A dog barked once. A human voice muttered something that seemed to quiet the dog. Morgan strained to see through the gloom, but the sun had dropped behind the mountain, and gently falling rain muted what remained of the light. The noise of movement in the brush stopped. A step crunched in the rocky soil. Not a dog’s paw. A boot.
If Trevin or one of her classmates had found the dugout, surely they would call her name, not sneak up from the side. Through the curtain of misty raindrops, she glimpsed a bizarre combination of homeless person and mountain man, dressed in canvas, leather, and fur, creeping closer to the dugout. Definitely not one of her classmates. The dark form of the dog followed.
This had to be how Sasquatch sightings started.
Morgan edged deeper inside the dugout, groping for her pack. Footsteps crunched toward the entrance. Morgan took another step backward. Her heel landed on something hard, twisting her ankle despite her firmly laced hiking boot. She threw her arms out as she stumbled, her hands grasping nothing but spider web as she fell onto the hard packed dirt floor.
The footsteps stopped. Morgan watched the shredded tarp, knowing Big Foot had to have heard the racket of her tripping and falling. If not that, surely he could hear her raspy, panicked breathing. Silence settled over the forest. Morgan began to wonder whether he was still out there. Maybe the pounding of her heart had drowned out the sound of him leaving.
When she couldn’t bear sitting motionless any longer, her body aching with tension, she rolled slowly to her hands and knees. Her right hand planted firmly on the object that had tripped her. A blanket neatly covered the mound. If she had to spend the night here, at least she had a way to keep warm. She pushed herself to her feet. As she tugged the blanket up, a cracked leather hiking boot tipped to one side. Morgan squinted in the dim light. An aspen branch seemed to extend from the bottom of a jeans leg to the boot.
That can’t be right, Morgan thought. Why would someone put clothes on sticks?
Her mind stumbled through several explanations until the obvious answer slammed home. The rips and holes in the tattered jeans revealed bone.
To Catherine Dilts, rock shops are like geodes – both contain amazing treasures hidden inside their plain-as-dirt exteriors. Catherine caught mountain fever after a childhood vacation in Rocky Mountain National Park. Determined to give up her flat–lander ways, she moved from Oklahoma to Colorado. Her husband, a Colorado native, proposed to her as they hiked Barr Trail on Pikes Peak. Catherine works as an environmental technician, and plays at heirloom vegetable gardening, camping, and fishing. Her short stories appear in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. In her spare time, she attempts to lure wild donkeys to her property in the mountains.
Links to Catherine’s website, blog, books, etc.
Stone Cold Dead – Book One: Available on Kindle
Stone Cold Dead – Book One – hardcover: Amazon
Stone Cold Dead – Book One – hardcover or Nook: Barnes & Noble
Stone Cold Case – Book Two: Available on Kindle
Stone Cold Case – Book Two – hardcover: Amazon
Stone Cold Case – Book Two – hardcover: Barnes & Noble
**SPECIAL GIVEAWAY**: Catherine is giving away one hardcover copy of STONE COLD CASE to one lucky reader who comments on this Author Peek or Karen’s Killer Book Bench blogs. Thank you, Catherine, for sharing your story with us.
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!