Ginger Lightley and the entire town are shaken by the horrible accident.
But then the newly appointed police chief accuses one of Ginger’s employees of murder. Ginger rejects the crime scenario laid out by the young police chief and secretly determines to solve the crime herself.
Read the four-chapter excerpt…
“Here it is.” Navy threw it on the desk. “Now give me my money.”
“I don’t have it right now.”
Navy’s headache began to pound. It was only 7:15 a.m., but his brain cells were already screaming for caffeine. His eyes grew unnaturally large as his hands morphed into fists.
“Look, five thousand is a lot of money.”
“If you couldn’t pay it, you shouldn’t have promised it. That was the deal. And I’m gonna get my money one way or another—even if I have to beat it out of you.”
“No, no. Look, I didn’t know when you’d come. I don’t keep that much cash on hand. I’ll have to go to the bank. Come back at ten.”
“You better not be lying to me,” he said, beginning to grit his teeth.
“I’ll have the money for you at ten.”
Navy turned and stormed toward the door.
“Whoa. Settle down. How about a cup of coffee for the road?”
Navy stopped at the door and looked back. It would save him a trip to McDonalds. “Sure.” He took a deep breath. The money would not solve all his problems. But at least he wouldn’t lose his car. And he could take Kayla out for an expensive dinner tonight.
“Here you go. You need cream or sugar?”
“No.” Navy grabbed the Styrofoam cup. “See you at ten.” He walked out.
The alley was pitch black. How fortunate that the overhead light was burned out. He stood for a moment as his eyes adjusted to the darkness. Gradually the black Corvette began to materialize in the faint moonlight. He made his way around to the driver’s side and got in. Sunrise would come at any moment. He started the engine and carefully eased up on the clutch. The powerful automobile crept slowly through the alley.
Navy held his breath as he pulled onto the road. He looked around. No witnesses. He turned on his headlights.
Coreyville Country Home was two miles north of town. He hated the place. The name implied a peaceful setting with fresh air, colorful butterflies and shady trees. And it did have all those things—much like a cemetery. It was really just a place you go to die.
Navy Newcomb was born into money. Big money. Not that his mother had ever shared much of it with him. She had paid him to do well in high school. He’d never amount to anything, she always said, unless he got a good education. After graduating near the top of his class, he had no problem getting admission to The University of Texas.
But the summer after his freshman year he overheard his mother talking to the family lawyer. There was a trust fund waiting for him to turn twenty-one. His father had set it up before he was born. So, his sophomore year was all about partying. What was the point of a college degree anyway? Navy would never have to work.
After flunking out of college and goofing off for a couple more years, he turned twenty-one and took possession of his two million dollars. He had been disappointed that it wasn’t more.
That was nearly four years ago, before the sports cars, boats, hookers, gambling, and drugs. All he had left was the Corvette. And it was the only thing that made him feel cool. And even that wasn’t really his. Not until he paid off the bank.
But things were looking up. Now he’d have the money to pay off the loan. And sooner or later his mother would start to believe that he had changed. This volunteer work would convince the crazy old woman to give him more money so he could rebuild his life.
It was a little creepy though. Taking over the delivery job. The old man had been doing it for a couple of years. Then one morning as he was dropping off a tray of coffee cakes, he had a stroke. Right there in the kitchen. They rushed him to the hospital. A week later he was back at the nursing home—as a resident.
Navy took a sip of his coffee. Then he reached for one of the small coffee cakes on the tray that was sitting in the passenger seat. It was a Sweet Ginger Cake—his favorite. There was only one today. He unwrapped it and wolfed it down in ten seconds. Delicious. He wished the cakes were normal size rather than personal sized, as they called them. On the other hand, somebody might notice if a regular size cake went missing.
When he arrived at the nursing home, he drove around back to the kitchen entrance and got out with the tray.
He rang the bell, and one of the cooks let him in. She took the tray from Navy and began to move the little cakes from the tray to the counter. “You ate some of them didn’t you?”
“No, of course not. They’re for the residents.”
“Look, I understand. You’re a growing boy.”
“I’m not a boy.”
She eyed him as though he was still wealthy, and that maybe he would be interested in an older woman like her. She was sort of sexy—in a cafeteria-lady-with-a-hairnet kind of way.
She handed him the empty tray. “Before you go—you wanna taste one of my cherry tarts?”
He wasn’t absolutely sure she was talking about food, but he was still starving. “Sure. Why not.”
She went to get one and brought it back to him, smiling. “Hope you like it.”
He set down the tray and took the tart.
“Be careful—it might be hot.”
He took a bite. “Good.”
He stuffed the rest of it in his mouth and mumbled, “Very good.”
Her smile broadened. “Thanks.”
Navy began to choke.
“I’ll get you some water.” She ran to the sink.
His throat continued to tighten.
The cook returned with a glass of water, but Navy was gone.
He ran to his car and opened the passenger door. Then he popped the glove box.
It felt like there was a golf ball stuck in his throat.
Navy fumbled through the contents of the glove box. He yanked out the owner’s manual and flung it on the floorboard. Then a Dallas map, a pile of receipts and other paperwork. Finally the glove box was empty. Where is it?
Navy gasped for air. He would run back inside. They had nurses. They could help him.
He stood up and staggered toward the building. The cook ran out to help him. Everything began to swirl.
He passed out just before his face hit the pavement.