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Detective Ellie MacIntosh is on the case of a double homicide in a celebrity's home. Is it a case of burglary gone bad or something fair more sinister?
This thrilling short story bridges the events in Kate Watterson's suspense novel, Charred, with the next book in the series, Buried.
BONUS: This short story includes an excerpt from Kate Watterson's next book in the Detective Ellie MacIntosh series, Buried.
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
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About the Author
Kate Watterson grew up on a steady diet of mystery/suspense novels. If it involves murder and intrigue, she is bound to be hooked. Kate also writes award-winning historical novels as Emma Wildes. She lives in rural Indiana with her husband, three children, and a temperamental cat named Poot.
Kate Watterson grew up on a steady diet of mystery/suspense novels. If it involves murder and intrigue, she is bound to be hooked. Kate also writes award-winning historical novels as Emma Wildes. She lives in rural Indiana with her husband, three children, and a temperamental cat named Poot. She is the author of Frozen, Charred and Buried.
Read an Excerpt
By Kate Watterson
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2013 Katherine Smith
All rights reserved.
They came in through the window.
Two of them, one dropping down and getting out of the way so the other could jump. The gleam of steel reflected the light from the one small lamp.
The story could have had a different outcome, she thought as she stood in the shadows, the .38 in her hand, her heart admittedly beating much faster than she anticipated.
Cool. Steady. Both hands.
The first shot went home, or so she thought, because the tall one jerked and stumbled. The second one didn't seem to know what to do, and when he turned, trying to finding the source, his face was set like soapstone, shiny with sweat.
Maybe he said something, but it was hard to hear since the first shot made her ears ring.
Finger on trigger ... it was easier the second time, more confident, the die cast already.
Right at the heart.
August 13, 10:10 A.M.
"This just came in. Double homicide."
Metzger slapped down a file on her desk and Detective Ellie MacIntosh looked up from her paperwork, pen in hand. The chief had his perpetually serious expression in place.
"Looks like last night." The chief was a burly ex-marine with a receding hairline and hefty shoulders. "I'm going to say right now I have no idea what is going on, but you and Grasso had better get your asses over there."
He leaned on his hand and said emphatically, "Pricey address near the lake ... it's going to be a political nightmare for me if you don't handle this right, and I have enough headaches, thank you very much. So go and do what you do, okay? Figure out what happened. Fast, clean, and as quiet as possible."
What did that mean? She nodded and picked up the report, registered the name of the person involved, and instantly understood. "Absolutely, sir."
"I'll let you fill Grasso in, and you and Carl keep me up to speed. This going to be volatile and I am uninterested in some sort of media event. Milwaukee was just all over the news with The Burner deal. Can we keep this low profile as possible?"
Her current partner in homicide was at his desk on his day off, but that was not her problem. Carl Grasso was nice-enough-looking, early forties or so, nondescript in a way, except he had the most striking gray eyes. They were full of intelligence and maybe even a hint of ruthlessness she wasn't sure would ever get used to. Grasso was a born hunter, pure and simple. It wasn't just reflected in his history with the department, but she'd known it the moment they first met.
Ellie walked over and said without preamble, "We have a double shooting down by the lake and Greta Garrison is involved, apparently. It's ours."
"Greta Garrison ... wait." He frowned as he signed out of his computer. "I know the name, but you'll have to help me here. Who is she?"
"Actress. Picture long curly red hair, a striking figure, and two Emmy Awards. She's the new darling of entertainment shows and tabloids."
"Okay ... yeah, I know who she is now. I don't watch too much television. What the hell is she doing in Milwaukee?"
"Actually, she's from here. When she's not filming, she's in town pretty often."
"Huh." He opened a drawer. "Learn something new every day."
True enough. A multiple homicide in the home of a celebrity was going to make the news, hands down. Ellie inclined her head toward the front of the building. "Want to drive, or should I?"
"You drive. I'll read the report on the way." He got to his feet with alacrity, taking a set of keys from his pocket and tossing them. "Let's take my car."
She wasn't positive she wanted to drive his expensive sports car, but on the other hand, she hadn't cleaned out her four-wheel-drive in a couple of weeks, so she nodded. "Fine."
The sleek BMW was not representative of a cop's salary, so she guessed the gossip about his parents leaving him pretty well-off when he was just twenty years old might be true. He'd never discussed it, but then again, they had just been assigned together.
She slid into the car, started it experimentally, adjusted the seat, and was about to back up when her phone beeped. She pulled it out, pushed a button and read the text, said dryly, "That's from Metzger. Seems like we already have media there, blocking the street. Welcome back to homicide, Lieutenant."
There were television trucks when they arrived, completely in the way, like that was okay ... sometimes Ellie wondered what these people were thinking. "We should have them arrested."
Grasso got out and asked neutrally, "I've handled this situation before. Want me to take care of it?"
She did. Completely. Ellie unclipped her seat belt. "Help yourself. It won't hurt my feelings at all."
* * *
The scene wasn't pretty.
Carl Grasso was itching to get his hands on a real case again. Not the bullshit dead-addict-in-an-alley-with-a-needle-still-in-his-arm — that did not particularly require much detective work — but something like this that was different.
There was blood splatter and lots of it on the walls, the window still open. Two bodies were sprawled in the mockery of death, one victim on the floor on his back, eyes still open, his dark shirt soaked in blood. The other one sat against the wall, as if he'd been thrown back by the impact of the bullet and slid down, which from the dark vertical stain must have been the case, like a snail leaving a slimy trail. This was obviously the dining room, with tall windows that overlooked a terrace, a long table with ten chairs, a crystal chandelier that illuminated the whole mess, and an obviously expensive oriental carpet that would never be the same.
The new medical examiner was busy taking notes. Grasso hadn't met her yet, and he had to admit she handled the scene in a capable fashion, her voice clipped as she gave instructions, her dark hair drawn back in a slick ponytail. Dr. Hammet glanced up as they approached and acknowledged their brief greeting and the flash of their badges. "Hello, Detectives. Word of warning, this is an interesting one. As usual, I'll be able to tell you more once I've got them back at the morgue and do a thorough autopsy, but on the face of it, we have both of them shot with the same weapon, from a fairly close range. Your perpetrator has excellent aim. They both went down with one shot to the heart. From their position, I am going to say it happened in rapid succession, for it doesn't look like either one of them had a chance to try to run."
First clue. A marksman. Not easy to do.
MacIntosh crouched down and stared at the first victim. "I've never seen him before, but I'm almost as new to the department as you are, Doctor. Were they carrying identification?"
"I think so." The ME snapped off a glove. "This one's front pocket is partially pulled inside out. "Whoever shot him probably took it, or that would be my interpretation. If you want ID, it isn't here."
"Well ... that's a disappointment." Carl meant it, looking at the victims. They were both maybe average height — was hard to tell on the one who was sitting up — white males, in their twenties, probably. One had slightly darker hair than the other, but was otherwise not very distinguishable from about a million other men in the state of Wisconsin.
Ellie laughed and when they both looked at her, she just smiled ruefully. She was a slender, pretty blonde that had come from a county sheriff's department up north, and she'd been assigned to homicide thanks to a serial murder case where she'd tracked down a killer that had been terrorizing that area for over a year. "I worked with Detective Santiago on my last multiple homicide case. Let's just say his language would have been much more colorful. I'm still adjusting back to working with normal human beings."
There might have been a glimmer — just a hint — of a smile on Dr. Janis Hammet's face. She rubbed her cheek with her ungloved hand. "I'm new and I've already been warned Santiago is somewhat of an acquired taste. Anyway, I'm sorry I can't give you more, but it isn't here. I am not going to say it is a professional hit necessarily, but I am going to say the shooter was prepared. It looks to me like they cleared the window, and he took them down one by one. Bang-bang and done."
When Carl surveyed the sprawled bodies and crime scene tape, it looked like that to him too. "I agree. They are both armed and it wasn't a firestorm, but an execution."
"Whoever shot them knew they were coming." MacIntosh knelt by the closest body without flinching. "Waited for them. A .38 maybe. It would have to be decently close range to be this accurate. The real question is: where was Ms. Garrison?"
"Sleeping in her bedroom upstairs." A uniformed officer answered from the doorway. He offered a clipboard. "I have her statement. She heard the shots."
Carl had to lift his brows. "Is there some reason we are just being called now?"
The young man shook his head. "She says she went back to sleep."
"Yeah, I know. But she takes some medications and swears she thought maybe it was a car backfiring on the street."
MacIntosh straightened abruptly. "That must be some medication. It would sound like an atomic bomb going off in here. Twice."
"It's a big house." Carl should know. When his parents died, he'd inherited a virtual mausoleum of a place, and he could see if he was sound asleep and far enough away how he might not realize that a sound like that had come from inside. "Where is she?"
"Her manager took her to a hotel. She was really upset, and you can't blame her." The young officer was obviously upset on her behalf. A fan? Carl thought maybe so, or just maybe someone with an idealistic weakness for very pretty females in distress.
"Does he have that authority?"
"There was no residue on her hands, and she did call it in. Claims she does not own a gun nor has ever fired one. The crime scene unit hasn't found one either."
"Tell us where she is and we'll go talk to her." There was resignation in MacIntosh's tone. She looked around the expensive elegant room. "Doesn't this place have a state-of-the-art alarm system? How did these two get in?"
"It's disabled. The light says it is set, but you can open a door or window and nothing happens."
"That's interesting." MacIntosh exchanged a glance with Carl. "I suppose the real question is, who disabled it? The shooter? Or the victims?"
He raised a brow. "Let's go ask Ms. Garrison if she knows."
* * *
The young woman had obviously been crying, but her face was dry, white, and still. Ellie was sure no one could look beautiful after a serious jag of weeping, but Greta managed to pull it off pretty well. The hotel suite was impersonal, with white walls, a striped couch in tan and cream, and an armoire in the corner that hid the television. The actress sat with her hands loosely clasped and resting on her knees, and there was not one trace of makeup on her face. "I have no idea what happened."
Carl Grasso stood near one wall, almost leaning on it. He asked, "Do you have any idea who those two men are?"
"No." Greta shivered. "But I have to admit I didn't look too closely. I was shocked. Like really shocked, you know? My hands were shaking so badly I could hardly dial 911."
A quick search was easy enough using her phone, and Ellie knew Miss Greta Garrison was twenty-eight, had graduated from a local high school and gone for two years to Marquette before she headed off to Los Angeles, where she had landed some small parts in television movies until her latest role had pushed her into the limelight.
Ellie sat down on the edge of the coffee table and smiled with what she hoped was reassurance. "If you did not shoot those two men —"
"... then someone did. That someone was already in your house. Who stayed with you last night?"
"No one." Greta's voice cracked. She wore a pair of form-fitting jeans and a loose T-shirt, and quite obviously, no bra. She put her hand in her pocket as if searching for something. Her manager, a thickly built man in his mid-fifties named Jeff Sharpe, with a shock of silver hair and an expensive suit, said something under his breath and got up to go get her a tissue.
When he returned, he handed it over and his voice was brisk. "I know where this is going and let me say that if she says she was alone, she was. Greta does not lie."
Ellie gave him a level look. "Good to know, but we still have two dead men, Mr. Sharpe. In her home, and she waited hours after the shootings to call the police. I am sure you understand we have questions. That is our job."
She turned back to Greta. "Let me ask again, was anyone there with you?"
"No." The actress shook her head. "I went to bed fairly early. We just wrapped up shooting two days ago and I flew in, had dinner with my mother, and then came home. I just wanted to sleep."
Grasso stirred. "Who knew you were coming back?"
She glanced at him, her eyes liquid with tears. "Obviously my mother. Jeff, the production staff for the show, whoever arranges my flights — I think her name is Stephanie ... a lot of people. I have a housekeeper who comes in to dust and keep the house up even when I'm gone. She knew too."
In other words, if a pebble was tossed into the pool, there were a lot of ripples to hit the shore. Narrowing it down to who knew and who might have told someone else, and of those who might have yet told someone else ...
Ellie blew out a short breath. "Any hate mail lately?"
"She doesn't read fan mail. Period." Sharpe shrugged. "Who needs the angst, and she doesn't have the time anyway. We have someone who goes through it and if she feels Greta should see it, she passes it to me. There are a lot of fans out there, and also some pretty sick people, trust me."
"Actually, I don't trust you at all, because I don't know you, sir." Ellie smiled with what she thought was reasonable civility. "Two men are dead, and I am going to assume, now that we have asked politely, you will get for us this 'someone' who reads Ms. Garrison's mail and let us know right away if there were any serious threats. Okay?"
"She would —"
"Maybe not take everything seriously." Carl sounded very reasonable as he interrupted, and in his thousand-dollar suit, looked like a very reasonable man. Unless a person knew his history. Ellie knew he'd taken out two suspects with deadly force in connection with an assault on a young woman who had a tie to his past, and he'd gotten clean away with it by claiming self-defense. If one of them hadn't been unarmed, there might not even have been an internal affairs investigation.
Since they'd starting working together, she'd wondered more than once if those two killings hadn't been calculated on a personal level. While she absolutely trusted his skills as a detective, she wasn't all that sure she trusted him as an officer who had sworn to uphold the law without giving it his own particular slant.
Grasso added with a slight smile. "Here's my card. We need to talk to her."CHAPTER 3
August 14, 9:00 A.M.
"Thank you for getting back to us." Ellie touched the pad on her phone to end the call and contemplated Grasso across the table. In the background, the coffee shop was busy, and silverware rattled. "Finally, news from L.A. She said most of the mail Ms. Garrison receives at the studio from male viewers involves sexual insinuations, but not all that many are threatening. Most of the mail from female viewers either gush over how much they enjoy her character on the show, or criticize her acting. There's been nothing virulent lately."
"Seems to be." She contemplated her empty cup of coffee. "But I have to say, as a robbery it strikes me as off, especially since someone else knew they were going to break in."
"That's obviously our angle." Grasso drank his coffee black, which somehow didn't surprise her. He contemplated his cup, and flicked a glance upward. "Forensics doesn't seem to pin Greta as the shooter. Shall we compare notes?"
"Oh, hell, I recognize that look. You've got something." With a grimace she reached for her cup of coffee. "Fine. The assistant in L.A. is a dead end. What did you find?"
"Ex-husband." He set a photo down next to an empty plate that had once contained a towering stack of pancakes but now just had crumbs and syrup. "He's a producer. He gave her a leg up, and she gave him a kick in the ass out the door about two years ago. That sounds simple, but the problem is there is a refrain to this story. While they were married he shot an intruder. Not exactly the same scenario, but it's definitely close. Guy came in the back door, and he says he heard it, went downstairs and ... pop, one shot to the chest. As it turns out, the alarm was disabled. Sound familiar?"
It did. Ellie thought that news brightened her day. "Alibi?"
"I don't know yet." Today Grasso wore a beautiful dark blue suit, and she could swear his tie was monogrammed. She'd chosen a somewhat rumpled shirt out of the dryer, and promptly spilled coffee on her knee when she sat down at her desk, so she felt less than perfect next to his always immaculate elegance.
"When will we?"
"LAPD is cooperating."
Excerpted from Bleed by Kate Watterson. Copyright © 2013 Katherine Smith. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
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.
Table of Contents
I. August 12,
II. August 13, 10:10 A.M.,
III. August 14, 9:00 A.M.,
IV. 3:00 P.M.,
V. 6:00 P.M.,
VI. 11:00 A.M. Next Day,
VII. One Week Later,
VIII. Three Days Later,
Also by Kate Watterson,
About the Author,