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Truth Or Lies
By Kylie Brant
Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.Copyright © 2003 Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe dim spill of light from the nearby street lamp barely disturbed the oppressive shadows deep in New Orleans's City Park. Even the glow of the night's half moon couldn't penetrate the thick canopy of trees. Darkness held untold fears for some, but for others it provided a much-needed cover. Some business was best conducted far from the light of day.
"He's late." Detective Cade Tremaine checked his watch. "I thought you said he was dependable."
"Freddie's reliable as long as he hasn't been shooting up or snorting." Brian Hollister, Cade's partner, shrugged.
"If he's using again, I can't vouch for him."
Scanning the area, Cade said, "We'll give him a couple minutes." He wasn't thrilled with the idea of losing any more sleep. But the snitch represented a chance for a lead in a case that had been damn short of clues lately. And catching the dealer responsible for at least three deaths from overdoses was well worth the inconvenience.
He heard footsteps moments before a figure stepped out of the shadows. "Is that him?"
"Yeah." Hollister straightened, waited for the man to get closer. "You must have us confused with one of your junkie bitches, Freddie. We don't much like being kept waiting." The words were accompanied by a slap alongside the man's head.
Freddie flinched away. "Stuff came up, Hollister. You know how it goes."
Cade shoved the snitch under the street lamp, noted the pinpoint pupils, the glassy stare. "He's high," he said with disgust. Releasing the man's filthy shirt, he turned to his partner. "Let's go. We're wasting our time."
"No, hold on," the snitch said hastily. "You wanted information and I have some for ya." He gave a look around as if they were in danger of being overheard and lowered his voice. "That guy you're investigating? The one who's putting pure stuff on the streets? I can get you in contact with someone who knows him."
"Then start talking, Freddie, 'cause we're ready to walk," Hollister said impatiently.
"Okay, okay." The man turned to the side, dug in his pocket. "I got his name written right here on this napkin. Not the dealer, but the guy I told ya about. I can tell ya where he hangs out, too."
He'd finally managed to get Cade's attention. Not that he was ready to believe a hopped-up junkie, but a name would give them a contact they didn't have right now. Hollister stepped forward to snatch the creased napkin from Freddie, and while he unfolded it, Cade moved closer.
In the next moment, however, Freddie was backpedaling furiously, the words tumbling from his mouth. "Got you what you wanted, didn't I? So pay up, guys, pay up."
At first Cade thought the words were directed at them. Then he saw the glint of metal. "Gun!" Reacting instinctively, he reached for his own weapon. He'd barely cleared it from his holster when the first bullet hit him in the chest, the impact sending him stumbling backward. He squeezed off a couple of shots before the next two slugs hit him, knocked him to the ground.
After the first searing jolt there was no pain, only a cold numbness that seemed to spread from one internal organ to the next, shutting down physical functions. Distantly Cade was aware of more shots being fired, shouting, but he couldn't move. Couldn't feel. He could only lie on the sidewalk, cheek pressed to its gritty surface. It took every ounce of his rapidly draining energy to drag his eyes open. He saw the stream of blood eddying out from him to join an everwidening pool. Saw his partner's body crumpled in a heap next to his.
Cade didn't see his life flash before his eyes. Didn't see a powerful white light that drew him deeper into its center. Death was a yawning black hole that sucked the life from his body bit by bit until there was finally only darkness.
Then there was nothing at all.
Two months later
"Gunshot wound to the abdomen. Blood pressure is one-ten and dropping. His name is Jon LeFrenz." The paramedics helped transfer the moaning patient from the ambulance cot to an emergency-room cart. They ran alongside as the Charity Hospital E.R. employees rolled it through East Hall to triage.
"Room four is open," Dr. Shae O'Riley said to her colleagues. Then she addressed the closest paramedic.
"How're his sounds?"
"Lungs are clear. But we had trouble stopping the bleeding. That's the third pressure dressing. We already gave him a unit of O negative. He's lucid and responsive."
Nodding, she said, "Okay, thanks." She left the ambulance crew behind as the cart was rolled into the tiny trauma cubicle. The area was jammed with people and equipment. Drawing the curtain to separate the area into two separate compartments left barely enough room to move. "Okay, Jenna, type him and get a couple of units of blood ready." The lab tech nodded, reached for the patient's hand.
Shae looked up, saw the lines the ambulance crew had put in to replace fluids. Both IV bags were nearly empty. "Let's get another couple of bags in him. How's his blood pressure doing?"
The emergency room RN looked at the screen. "One hundred over sixty."
Not dangerously low yet, but dropping. "Roll him to his side." Shae leaned in and lifted the dressing used to staunch the bleeding on the abdomen. The bullet had torn through the flesh, leaving a relatively small entry. She looked up at Boyd DuBois, the emergency-room resident. "Is there an exit?"
He lifted the dressing on the man's back and nodded. Shae moved around the cart and looked at the angry gaping hole, which was oozing sullenly. "Wessels and Lyndstrom still on duty in surgery?"
DuBois checked his watch. "I think so."
Shae looked at the triage nurse next to her. "Could you give them another call, get someone down here for a consult?"
Excerpted from Truth Or Lies by Kylie Brant Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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