An Excerpt from HER LOST ALIBI
HER LOST ALIBI is an Amber Cross Thriller Novella coming January 2021 as a part of the Dead Silent boxed set.
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Prologue — Blood in the Street
The cracked pavement radiated hot, sticky steam in the afternoon. The drain just outside of Sal’s Diner exhaled the rancid breath of urine, vomit, mold, and countless decaying animals unable to escape its rusty grasp. Streetlight’s beams darting through the fog reflected in the freshly pooled water washing down the street. Late night tourists and a few hardy locals wandered up and down, crossing the lane trying not to step in anything that would ruin their shoes.
Cars parked along the curb nestled impossibly close to each other turned the passage between them into a one-way affair. Eric Torres pulled his green, thrift store raincoat up over his shoulders, tucking a six pack of Modelo under his arms and jogged out of the bodega on 14th. He put his free hand on the trunk of a silver Toyota and rubbed past the bumper, drenching his jeans in the process. He muttered a curse under his breath as he leaned over to brush away the excess moisture. When he stood back up, the gun shot shocked him.
It was so close, his ears rang like church bells through balls of cotton. In a haze, he looked down to see that two of the bottles in his hands were shattered. The cold beer was soaking into his clothes. And then his hand went numb and the rest of the six-pack tumbled to the ground. He opened his coat to see that the shot had gone through the bottles and hit him in the side. Upon seeing the blood pouring out of the rip in his shirt, the pain stabbed him. He lurched sideways against the silver car. His left leg gave out and he fell to one knee. He clutched at the hole in his side and a red river gushed out. He was hit bad.
He opened his mouth to scream, but nothing would come out. Or maybe he just couldn’t hear it, his ears still refused to open up. Somewhere in the distance a siren wailed, but it didn’t sound like it was coming his way. He tried to look around for the source of the gun shot. His vision sloshed around like he was underwater. Behind him, the small grocery store was miles away. The normally busy street was suddenly quiet, no one was around. He couldn’t be sure if all the people had run away at the sound of a shot being fired, or if it had been empty when he came out of the store.
He crumpled to the ground, on his knees, his hand covered in dark, red blood. The pain was excruciating, but he thought if he could keep pressure on the wound, there was a chance someone would happen along and call an ambulance.
Call, his mind latched onto the word. Call. His phone was in his left pocket, but he dare not move his hand, he might bleed out in seconds. He reached across with his right hand and a fresh knife of pain lanced through his abdomen. He pulled it out to see the screen was smeared with dark, oily blood. Tears began to stream down his face as he wiped it over and over on his pants, but there was too much and he couldn’t get it clean. He tapped the screen and told the virtual assistant to call 9-1-1. Nothing happened and he realized, at the end of a long day of video-chatting, his battery had gone dead.
A figure, silhouetted in the misty glow of the streetlights next to Sal’s, bent down. Eric had no strength to protest as a hand reached up and pushed the hood of his bargain bin raincoat back off his head. His vision was beginning to dim and he wondered if he was going to make it much longer. To his horror, he saw the figure who had squatted in front of him, held a revolver, almost casually, like a cigarette, or a ring of car keys. Smoke still wafted from the barrel and he realized that it had only been a few seconds since he’d been shot. Time had slowed … here at the end.
“I told you to stay away from her,” the man’s voice said, just above a whisper.
The malice and hate in the statement chilled Eric and he began to whimper as the man raised the gun. He placed the barrel against his forehead, between his eyebrows. Eric tried to scream, but his strength was gone. He wondered why the man would shoot him again, he’d be dead in seconds anyway. Another siren wailed, but it was too far away.
“Please,” Eric gasped.
A flash of light. An impossibly loud bang. Then … nothing.
The killer tucked the gun away and stood. He glanced around. The street was still empty. He walked past Sal’s as a server in a grungy white apron pushed through the door carrying two trash bags on the verge of exploding. The kid never looked up at him as he stepped off the curb and disappeared into the night.