Read an Excerpt
By Beverly Jenkins
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2005 Beverly Jenkins
All right reserved.
The surprise snowstorm had reduced Detroit's early morning freeway traffic to a crawl. Lacy Green peered through her windshield, trying to catch a glimpse of the long line of cars ahead of her, but for all intents and purposes the wipers were useless. The thick blowing snow filled the cleaned glass just as soon as the blades swung back. It was 6:30 a.m., still dark, and the visibility was so bad she could barely make out the cars moving beside her. Last night's meeting in the city of Ypsilanti had run so late she'd opted for a hotel room. Now, she had to get back to her job in downtown Detroit. Lacy was from Atlanta and she'd never seen anything like this weather in her life. For the past week, the temperatures had been warm enough for the tulips in the pots on her balcony to break through the soil, but overnight a major storm had roared in out of nowhere, and this morning it was still blowing and screaming.
Concentrating on her driving, Lacy held the wheel tightly. This was her first Michigan winter, and she was still a bit shaky maneuvering on the snow, but she knew that the middle lanes were the safest places to be, so that's where she and her ancient Escort were. The far left lane, which on regular mornings funneled cars rolling at eighty to ninety-plus miles per hour, wasn't even cleared. The plows were using the lane to pile up the five inches that had fallen overnight. Schools were closed and the airport was reporting a three hour delay on departing flights. Today was the first day of April, and apparently Mother Nature had a wicked sense of humor.
On the radio, the traffic reporter was advising folks to stay home. Lacy clicked off the sound and kept her eyes on the road. The last thing she needed to hear was someone stating the obvious. Lacy, like the thousands of others commuters region wide, had to go to work.
The Escort's groaning wipers cleared the windshield just in time for her to see a snow-covered Grand Am merging too fast onto the freeway. The car did a 360 and spun tail first into the snowbank on the right shoulder. The driver was lucky. Had the spinout been in the far left lane, the car most likely would've gone down the embankment and into the mawlike ditch that served as the median on Michigan's main highways. Once in, the only way out was by tow truck.
In reaction to the Grand Am's dilemma, traffic slowed even further and brake lights twinkled like dull red flames in the whirling eddies. "Michigan, my Michigan," Lacy muttered sarcastically, quoting the state's motto.
A glance up at her rearview mirror showed a ghostly stream of headlights strung out behind her like jewels. At the very back of the pack was one set of lights that seemed to be moving back and forth as if the driver was weaving in and out of the traffic. The sight made her shake her head. Conditions were too dangerous to be trying to get anywhere in a hurry, so she prayed the idiot kept his or her distance.
Lacy grimly concentrated on the traffic ahead, but every few seconds glanced up at her mirror to gauge the lane jockey's position. The car appeared to be making progress, but in all of this traffic, they were looking for an accident, and would probably get their wish. She, on the other hand, just wanted to get to work in one piece.
Just as that thought crossed her mind, brake lights flashed ahead. The car in front of her began to slide. All around her other vehicles went on the defensive, angling and attempting to get out of the way of what looked like the beginning of a major pile-up. A tense Lacy downshifted and gently braked, praying she had enough space to stop safely. She did, and let out her held breath, but a quick look at the rearview mirror showed the lane jockey about to plow into her rear end. She opened her mouth to scream "Nooo!" but the solid impact threw her forward. The air bag deployed and the car began spinning like Kristi Yamaguchi in a death spiral.
Panicked, Lacy fought to turn the wheels in the direction of the slide, but the snowbank on the left shoulder was too close. The Escort spun trunk first, hard, through the piled wall of snow and rumbled down the snowy embankment. It hit the bottom nose first, flipped onto its hood, then flipped again and landed hard on its tires. That was the last thing Lacy remembered.
She came to lying flat on her back. For a moment she lay there on the horizontal seat listening to the furious thumping of her heart. As it slowed, she realized she was alive. Very gingerly she wiggled her toes inside of her boots, and the pain in her right ankle responded with a screaming aria. She bit her lip in reaction then did a quick check of her remaining limbs and appendages. Her neck was sore and would probably be worse tomorrow, but everything else seemed intact. Still reeling, though, she slowly fumbled for the seat button beside her. Upright again, she rested her head against the air bag and took in a deep shuddering breath. A look around showed the snow surrounding her and the faint lights of cars above her on the highway. She supposed she should have been wondering whether help was on the way, but right then all she wanted to do was breathe and savor the realization that she was alive.
Mayor Drake Randolph didn't waste time yelling at his driver for causing the accident; there'd be time for that later. Right now his only concern was helping the driver of the Escort. Throwing open the limo's door, he and his two bodyguards got out and headed down the hill.
Excerpted from Black Lace by Beverly Jenkins Copyright © 2005 by Beverly Jenkins.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.