The Lair: A Mallory O'Shaughnessy Mining and Manufacturing Mystery: Volume One

The Lair: A Mallory O'Shaughnessy Mining and Manufacturing Mystery: Volume One

by Paula Rae Wallace

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781490773216
Publisher: Trafford Publishing
Publication date: 05/21/2016
Pages: 404
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.83(d)

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The Lair

A Mallory O'Shaughnessy Mining and Manufacturing Mystery: Volume One


By Paula Rae Wallace

Trafford Publishing

Copyright © 2016 Paula Rae Wallace
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4907-7321-6



CHAPTER 1

MORGUE


Alexandra Hunter's manicured hands flew to her mouth against her will! Bracing for the grisly corpse she needed to view, she was unprepared for the accompanying stench! Gagging, she fought tears!

Pathologist Edna Evans had little use for the delicately beautiful Colorado newcomer, but she was forced to give her grudging credit for handling the gory scene better than some seasoned law enforcement personnel!

"Told ya you don't belong in here! Seen enough to satisfy your morbid curiosity? If you hurry, you might make the parking lot before you wolf your cookies!"

Gray eyes flickered across her briefly before dropping to study the mutilated remains! "You~you don't know who she is?"

"No ID, no clothing, no wallet! Another Jane Doe for now! Why don't you go home and let your husband keep you in the loop? Not that she was found in the National Forest's jurisdiction!"

Stormy gray eyes met the tired ones of the Medical Examiner, "Yeah, Doug wouldn't like me being here!" She tried to control the trembling of her hand as she pointed, "Is~is that a little bit of red tattoo ink?"

Training her magnifying lens, the ME studied the speck carefully! "Good eye; yeah, maybe so! I'm not sure it's even enough to test~"

"I~I think I know who she is~well~who her parents are~Her her organs were harvested; weren't they?"

"What?" Edna's voice, incredulous! "Where you getting that from? It's wild animals! Looks like mostly birds~they always go for the eyes and soft tissue of the organs~ Who are her parents? Is she from around here, local?"

"Alexandra? What are you doing here?"

She whirled to face Doug, and to her utter dismay, his top boss, Trent Morrison, in from DC was beside him!

"Your wife told me she knows the identity of the victim, Agent Hunter!" Hand on hip, Edna demanded, "How would she know that? There're hardly enough remains for me to say if there was any foul play! Maybe just a lost hiker~"

Alexandra's voice, soft and insistent, "It was foul play! They killed her and sold her organs on the black market! That's what they do, even though the victims have been heavy drug and alcohol users, and the organs are compromised! They don't care! They still make a lot of money!"

The ME scoffed, "My, but don't you have the imagination? If there's no silver up there in that mine of yours, maybe you can try writing scary crime-thrillers! I could even give you a few plots from my cases here over the years!"

Trent Morrison stepped forward authoritatively, "I'm sorry, Doctor Evans, but I'm taking these remains into Federal custody~"

"Because of her wild-eyed, hair-brained theories?" She waved a dismissive hand in Alexandra's direction! "These remains were found on Mrs. Hunter's land, and now she comes invading my morgue! Why does she know so________ much" The doctor's question punctuated by profanity and sudden suspicion! "And since she claims to know who the victim is, and is so dead-sure it's a murder, maybe she did it!" More vulgarity made Doug cringe! "And here come all her high-powered friends to her rescue again! Snatch my body and get rid of the evidence! Like you manufactured evidence when her explosives got 'stolen', to prove her innocence! And our fine local sheriff, Bill Cassidy, was suddenly the one being investigated!"

"Hunter!" Trent Morrison's soft order as he pulled his phone free and stepped into an adjoining corridor!

Agent Hunter stepped forward authoritatively, "Please step away, Dr. Evans! Looks like he's calling in a Federal forensics specialist! I know you do a lot of service to the community, but this one's now out of your hands!"

"We'll certainly see! I'm gonna go call Judge Fredericks! You got rid of San Juan County law enforcement! Now everything's The Federal Government trampling our rights up here! And Miss Alexandra Faulkner, or Mrs. Brad Maxwell, or Mrs. Douglas Hunter, or whoever she is this week, has done nothing but make trouble for good, honest, local people, since she came here!"

Doug spoke softly, "That's fine, Ma'am; go make your call!"

She huffed around, gathering possessions from her desk and locker, "Oh, I will, Sir! Of that you may be certain!"

* * *

Esteemed Geologist, Daniel Faulkner, sat in his private office at GeoHy, Corporation, thoughts soaring beyond the perfect dome of blue past the plate glass! Beautiful day! Beautiful life! He briefly contemplated inviting Gray Prescott, his brother-in-law whose office was located a story below in The Sullivan Building, to lunch! Then thought better of it! Although Gray sometimes knew and shared information with him about his eldest child, Alexandra, and how she fared; he could also be a real downer! Instead he opted for his favorite menu item from the first-floor bistro delivered up! He frowned as Amy Dumont slapped an armload of folders onto his desk! After years of giving her chances, he was at a loss! She seemed less satisfactory with every day! With the salary she earned which far surpassed her abilities, he was amazed she could have such an attitude about finding what he needed!

"Anything else?" She stood snapping chewing gum!

"That's all, and loose the gum! We've discussed that before!"

She turned and exited, muttering about chewing gum to curb her appetite for her diet! She was thin as a rail, and all she ever talked about was dieting and her figure!

* * *

Trent made the necessary arrangements and stepped back into the morgue, now empty except for the body on the gurney! After years at this, and even with his assurance of Salvation, gory human remains still affected him profoundly! He needed Hunter to stay on site until the requested transport arrived! Doubtless, he was someplace nearby with Alexandra! He sank weekly at Dr. Evan's desk! Part of him was infuriated at Alexandra for having weaseled her way in here, while at the same time he felt relief at her observations! Observations not necessarily agreed upon by the local coroner! Inexperience? Like former Sheriff Bill Cassidy, whom Evans had lamented, was she just eager to tie up a case, sign off too quickly? The locals had attempted to do that the previous year when someone stole dynamite and blasting caps from Alexandra's mine! Why was Alexandra suspect for everything with the locals, simply because she was a newcomer?' He scoffed, 'Make that a well-to-do newcomer! That seemed to be where the rub was with people!"

He glanced up as Hunter entered, apology on his lips, "I'm sorry, Sir!"

"No problem! Your wife okay?"

"Well, who can tell? She's definitely worked up! She doesn't think it's an accident that this particular victim ended up on the mine property! We have twenty-four hour a day security up there! She keeps repeating over and over that, 'This is a message to her'!"

Trent sprang to his feet, "How on earth could I have missed that? Good grief! Where is she? Hunter call every agent in the area and get them on site!"

"Well, yes Sir, but like I tried to tell her, Hardy Johnson and his band of hooligans are all dead~"

"Where is she?"

"I sent her home to the mine!"

"Call her and tell her to turn around and come straight back! And to use her gun again if necessary! In the meantime, you drive up to meet her! I'm calling Agents Lloyd and Harriman to go secure your children and Janni Anderson! Call Faulkner and tell him we're sending them home for the time being!"

He snapped a picture of the body on an impulse, and Hunter frowned!

"Not exactly according to Hoyle, Hunter; I know! But I don't have time to wait on pictures from forensics! I'm forwarding this to Erik Bransom at the FBI and Ivan Summers who's with the Arkansas Bureau of Investigation!"

He glanced up with annoyance, "Why are you not on the horn to your father-in-law?"

Doug's face reddened, "Er, sorry, Sir, but would you mind making the call?"

Morrison's eyes shot proverbial sparks! "Yeah, I'd mind! I told you to do it!"

* * *

Alexandra pulled off onto a dirt road marked for Forestry personnel use, although bike tracks indicated others used it! Cutting the engine, she dashed to the cover of brush and lost the contents of her writhing belly! One reason for taking the detour! The other's being that she thought someone was following her! Maybe Doug was right! Maybe she was making too much of the incident! She could wish! But no! Of every square acre of land in the continental US, this woman was dumped on her scant few? No! She wasn't overreacting!

* * *

Daniel prayed over his lunch, always careful to mention Doug, Alexandra, and his two granddaughters in every prayer he uttered! Maybe when he finished lunch he should give Al a call! She never seemed to mind; just always on the fly! Then, to his total consternation, his cell buzzed with a call from Doug! This could bode no good! Forcing a mouthful of dry sandwich past a sudden lump in his throat, he accepted the call!

"Wh~whadaya mean? As soon as you can find her?" Even as he gulped again, he decided it was a good thing Diana wasn't here with her professional, hypertension-measuring eyeballs! "Yeah, yeah, it's fine, of course, for y'all to escort Janni and the girls here! I'll~umm~head home, and give Diana~a heads up. Maybe I'll call our security company to come update our system with all the latest upgrades! You~uh~said Erik and the FBI are in the loop? Doug, where do you think she is?"

* * *

Accustomed to the high altitude, and in good shape, Alexandra moved quickly, gaining elevation rapidly! Even in her haste, she warned herself that caution was paramount to speed! Having once broken an ankle in her haste to outdistance assailants, she hoped she was wiser! And besides, this time she was the hunter and not the hunted! She shivered! The tables could turn in a heartbeat, though, and she needed the Lord's help!

* * *

"Get a chopper in the air! Why didn't you tell me you couldn't locate her?" Trent Morrison was sympathetic toward his agent whose wife was in imminent danger, but exasperated to find it out from Faulkner! Again!

Hunter flushed and shrugged guiltily, "I guess I'm in denial, hoping she'll just walk back in! Or at least answer her phone!" His gaze dropped before his superior's hard stare!

"Listen, Hunter, I need you to go home to the mine~"

"What about the chopper search?"

"I'm on that! You go interview everybody at the mine, including Porter and all the security guys! FBI's getting sat photos! Get everything from your security cameras you can!"

"We already did that! However the body got there, there's nothing on film~"

"Right! I'm thinking from this morning! Maybe you can get an insight into what Alexandra was up to!"

"What~"

"Well, we're jumping to the conclusion that she's already been abducted! I pray that's not the case! Maybe she had a plan beyond showing up at the morgue with her suspicions! Like if she couldn't convince us, she'd take matters into her own hands~"

Doug considered! Not totally out of the realm of possibilities! Alexandra could be pretty resourceful! Sudden hope infused him~

* * *

Arkansas Agent Ivan Summers groaned! Pretty sure he didn't want to see the picture that opened in vivid color on his mini iPad! 'What? The Feds are under the mistaken impression again, that I work for them?'

He pulled over to conference call the Forestry and FBI agents! "Yeah, similar to the ones here! But those were years ago, and credited to Martin Thomas, a crazy person, now deceased! You're thinking copycat?"

"We're not knowing what to think!" Erik Bransom's characteristically gruff tone! "We were never positive that Thomas acted alone! Our suspicions were that he murdered at the behest of the Malovich twins, one of which died in custody! The more sinister of the two, Otto, has disappeared off everyone's radar! I've had reasons to suspect that he's deceased also! Now I'm not so sure!"

"Okay, but at least you don't think they're still active here in Arkansas? That's not why you're reading me in?"

Trent started to reassure the guy, but Bransom interrupted, "Sadly, I think they're still active everywhere! And I think they're still after the same targets they've always been after! As well as any other targets of opportunity that present themselves!"

Summers' heart sank! Maybe he should still just take early retirement! Until then, he needed to circle up through Murfreesboro and beyond, to The Anderson Ranch!

* * *

Doug could hear the racket of rotors as Morrison answered his call, "Any sign of her?"

"What did you find?" Trent's own question in place of an answer!

"Well, no one saw anything out of the ordinary with her, but if she had a scheme going on~ The only thing the cameras caught was her exiting the property at a little after nine! Makes sense; because we caught her at the morgue about eleven! Her backpack's gone, her archery artillery, guns, knives, and ammo! What could she have been thinking?"

Morrison considered, 'There was no point in divulging that they had found Alexandra's car on one of the Forest Service roads! She wasn't there, all of the equipment mentioned was gone, and his best tracker was at a loss for determining which way she had taken!' "Sit tight there; we'll keep you in the loop!"

CHAPTER 2

HISTORY


Alexandra swished a sip of water around her mouth before swallowing! Nothing to intensify thirst like knowing water supply was limited! Pulling out small but powerful field glasses, she scanned the beauty surrounding her! Whispering Quakies against majestic Blue Spruce; a capricious breeze scudding clouds across the sun and bringing an unexpected chill! Lowering the glasses, she pulled her jacket tighter! After checking her GPS, she sat quietly, considering!

She tried not to worry about how mad Doug and Mr. Morrison were going to be! That was the least of her worries! If she survived, she'd be glad to face their displeasure! Glancing upward at the sun's position and surveying her surroundings, she determined camping here was her best option! Opening her backpack, she laid out its contents: .45 caliber pistol, extra clip and box of ammo; collapsible fishing rod, reel, and lures; water; MRE's; protein bars; knives in sheaths; lightweight, reflective thermal blanket; slingshot!

Just because she looked like a dumb blond, didn't mean she was one!

She leaned back against a rock face as her mind traveled back! First to the previous year where she and Doug had traveled to Washington DC to attend a Forestry Law Enforcement annual banquet! Most guys on Doug's low level didn't make the effort, probably not up for any of the awards! But she had insisted, wanting Doug to be successful at his chosen career!

It was at the close of the banquet, when they were eager to get on the road for the grueling two-thousand mile return drive, that the strange woman, obviously, a 'professional girl', had accosted her in the hotel lobby to request a favor! That event started a chain reaction which landed Alexandra, her two daughters, and their nanny, scurrying from safe house to safe house, courtesy of the FBI!

The agent in charge of her protective detail, Caroline Hillman, had deemed it wiser that Alexandra not contact the girl's parents as asked! Now she sat, sensing acute guilt! She still remembered the couple's names; but only earlier today, had she finally divulged them! Too late for them to ever see their daughter alive again! Reluctantly, she considered the remains in the county morgue! No coincidence that they had been discovered on her land! She considered! No way, either, that Jane Doe had been trying to seek her out again, gotten to the mine, only to be attacked and killed by~what~a flock of birds? Not exactly a nature specialist, but Alexandra was fairly certain that any animal large enough to attack and kill a woman, wouldn't nibble just daintily enough to cover evidence of surgical precision! And with nothing, NOTHING, noticed by her twenty-four hour, round-the-clock, security personnel, or captured by any of the cameras, she was forced to deduce that there were yet more tunnels!


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Lair by Paula Rae Wallace. Copyright © 2016 Paula Rae Wallace. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
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

Contents

Chapter 1: MORGUE, 1,
Chapter 2: HISTORY, 8,
Chapter 3: RESCUE, 17,
Chapter 4: COUP D'ETAT, 26,
Chapter 5: PROSPECTING, 37,
Chapter 6: COUNTER-COUP, 42,
Chapter 7: TRUST, 53,
Chapter 8: INTERIM, 64,
Chapter 9: BREAKOUT, 73,
Chapter 10: HEARTBREAK, 79,
Chapter 11: EVIDENCE, 89,
Chapter 12: HEALING, 97,
Chapter 13: ENLIGHTENMENT, 104,
Chapter 14: NORMALCY, 115,
Chapter 15: PANIC, 119,
Chapter 16: WAR, 129,
Chapter 17: AWE, 134,
Chapter 18: SUCCESS, 144,
Chapter 19: ARRESTS, 155,
Chapter 20: SITUATIONS, 166,
Chapter 21: IMPROVEMENTS, 180,
Chapter 22: NOOSES, 194,
Chapter 23: TORMENTS, 206,
Chapter 24: ROMANCE, 220,
Chapter 25: DAUNTING, 233,
Chapter 26: HOLIDAYS, 246,
Chapter 27: STORM, 264,
Chapter 28: RESTORATION, 275,
Chapter 29: SURVIVAL, 289,
Chapter 30: DESOLATION, 299,
Chapter 31: DELIGHTS, 305,
Chapter 32: STATEMENT, 322,
Chapter 33: THE CRUX, 330,
Chapter 34: RECKONING, 345,
Chapter 35: LIBERTY, 358,
Chapter 36: RESOLUTION, 368,
Chapter 37: REWARD, 380,

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