~*~*~2011 EPIC AWARD FINALIST~*~*~
Dusty has always been the hothead in the pair -- her twin, Nick, he was the calm, cool and collected one. But now Nick is dead, found murdered in their local cemetery, and Dusty, on forced leave from her job as a Chicago police officer, goes back to her childhood home to attend the funeral.
It becomes quickly apparent to Dusty that the local authorities aren’t being straight with her, or anyone else, about what’s been going on in the little Midwestern town she grew up in. The detective in her kicks in and she decides to find out what--or who--has killed her brother, so she moves in temporarily with her father and stepmother, takes a job in a local bar, and starts asking questions.
Her focus soon fixes on Shane, her brother’s best friend--the town bad boy and bad seed. The tension between the two of them has always been palpable, and nothing has changed. Sparks fly as they collide, and while Dusty finds herself sinking in deeper with Shane, the mystery of what happened to her brother--and an ever growing list of victims--grows even stranger.
Dusty finds her past haunting her everywhere she goes as she continues to dig deeper into the circumstances of her brother’s death, and her future looms large as her fate as a police officer is about to be determined back in Chicago. With everything coming to a head, she focuses on one thing: What happened the night her brother was killed in the cemetery? She’s sure Shane knows... something... and she’s determined to find out what it is, one way or another.
“Did you know that Joe was found hidden under a porch in the train station, covered up with boards?” Will puffed on his pipe again and the smell wafted toward Dusty. “Can bobcats do that, Mike? Even smart ones?"
Dusty didn’t hear any answer. Her own mind was racing.
"If we didn't have kids who like to play out there and explore the great unknown, we never would've missed old Joe. Probably would've even forgotten him. What do you think about that, Mike?"
“The papers didn’t mention that.” Mike sounded angry, and Dusty knew how he felt.
Will chuckled. “Come on, now. Buck Thompson is up for re-election this year, and we’ve got that new mall going in near the south end of town. Supposed to be as good as the Second Coming, right? Bad publicity, Mike. No one wants that, do they?”
Dusty was cold. She was beginning to feel sick again, and it was getting worse. Part of it was cramps, but most of it was just all the bells and whistles going off again.
"And what about Nicky Chandler?” Will asked.
“What about him?”
“You know where they found him?”
“Cemetery,” Mike replied, stating the obvious and taking another step down Cougar’s well-lit path.
“Uh huh.” He puffed on his pipe again. “But they might not have found him at all, you know, if the Clinton Grove boneyard didn’t have such a tidy caretaker.”
“What do you mean?” Mike sounded impatient now, growing tired of Cougar’s game.
“John Evans told Deputy Matt he found Nick while he was sweeping out one of the mausoleums,” Will said. “Those doors are shut tight, Mike. You know a bobcat who can open doors?”
"Well.” Mike cleared his throat. “Maybe Nick ran from it? Opened the mausoleum door himself, went in there to hide?”
“Could be,” Cougar agreed, puffing on his pipe again. “Sure could be.”
For some reason, Dusty found herself thinking about Shane.
It was quiet for a moment, and then Mike said, "Well, thanks for the ammo, Will. I appreciate it."
"No problem," Will replied. "Just remember— sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry."
"I get you," Mike said. "Take care, Will."
Will responded, "You take care, too—living all the way out there on Arcada road. Whatever it is, it's got an awful big appetite."