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Most of the time, Heather McNeil loves her job as assistant to the director of the Washington DC Market Show Center. Because she’s a good listener and even better at solving problems, her boss assigns her to handle a lot of the day to day issues that arise during the shows, exhibits, and conferences being held there.
The Business Technology Exposition at the Market Center is set to open with a major new product announcement from one of the biggest companies in the computer electronics business. Before that event, though, the president of industry-leader MegaComp has a very public argument with a man who accuses the company of stealing the concept for a technical process from him. The announcement goes off without a hitch. But when the accuser returns a phone call from Heather, she becomes an unwilling audience to his murder and later finds his body in a private section of an exhibitor’s booth.
Heather is more than happy to leave the investigation to the police, but she’s the person everyone talks to and she soon learns more than she wanted to know about the victim and all the people who really didn’t like him very much.
WIRED FOR MURDER
Market Center Mysteries Book 2
BY KAREN McCULLOUGH
I let out the breath I’d been holding as the man silently snapped his pictures while Thomas Hovey rambled, demonstrating with images on the huge screen how “amazingly awesome” this new device was. He wound down by listing a dizzying array of technical terms and numbers. I heard a collective gasp from the audience, so maybe the new widget was a groundbreaker. Finally Hovey thanked everyone for coming, the lights came up, and people in the front rows dived for the door, shoving past anyone who got in their way.
I stepped back and let the first wave race by me, before I joined the crowd heading out of the room.
My stomach still hadn’t completely untwisted itself, but I couldn’t decide if I was relieved or disappointed. Maybe neither. As I reached the exhibition floor I realized I was still keyed up, still uneasy and nervous.
There was one message on my phone, from Janelle, asking me to check in at a booth near the far side. They’d had some trouble with the electrical connection there and she wanted me to be sure it had been fixed.
I was halfway across the floor when the phone buzzed again. I ducked into a corner of a booth, out of the mainstream of traffic when I saw the caller was Chase Markham.
His “hello” in response sounded impatient. “You wanted to talk to me?”
“Yes, I need to—”
“Wait. Hold on a sec.”
I heard muttering on the other end and made out the words “early” and then “What are you—?” but they were cut off abruptly by a crash that sounded like something large, heavy, and metallic hitting against something else, maybe a hard floor. Then another noise so loud it had to be the phone itself being dropped. Chase’s voice still came through, but muffled and distant when he said, “Hey, what’re you doing? Wait! What? No. No!” A brief pause, then more scuffling, and the same voice said, “Stop! Why? Help!” That was almost a scream, then another yell, cut off.
A gurgling sound followed. Heavy breathing and another, even more horrible gurgling. More shuffling and scraping, a muffled thud. And then silence. A dreadful eerie silence that was the worst sound of all.
“Hello?” I said, hoping, hoping, hoping someone would answer. “Chase?” My hands were shaking.
Nothing. No sound at all now.
I almost screamed, “Chase? Is someone there? Anyone? Please, God, answer.”
No one did. It was a terrible silence.
Karen McCullough is the author of a dozen published novels and novellas in the mystery, romantic suspense, and fantasy genres as well. She has won numerous awards, including an Eppie Award for fantasy, and has also been a four-time Eppie finalist, and a finalist in the Daphne, Prism, Dream Realm, Rising Star, Lories, Scarlett Letter, and Vixen Awards contests. Her short fiction has appeared in several anthologies and numerous small press publications in the mystery, fantasy, science fiction, and romance genres. She has three children, six grandchildren (plus one on the way) and lives in Greensboro, NC, with her husband of many years.
Links to Karen’s website, blog, books, etc.
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