Lily leaned on the steering wheel and squinted at the tall figure in her headlights. She eased her foot off the gas pedal and watched as the figure dragged something off the road. “Did you see that?”
“It could’ve been road kill,” Morgan said.
Lily slowed down. She pulled the truck off to the side where she peered at an object lying on the pavement. “It’s a cellphone.” Throwing the gear into park, she hopped out.
“Wait a second. Let me call it in.”
Lily squatted down next to the cellphone.
Morgan came up next to her. “They’re sending out a car.”
Lily put her hand up. “Backlight’s going out. Phone was just used.” She stood and scanned the cornfield. “Someone’s out there and most likely in trouble.”
Lily’s heart raced as she ran back to her truck, collecting her gun and badge from underneath the seat. She placed her gun in her hip holster and clipped her badge on the opposite side onto her belt. “That wasn’t an animal.”
“You’re not going out there,” Morgan said.
Lily grabbed the flashlight from the side pocket on the door and sprinted over to spot where the figure had disappeared.
She turned on the flashlight and drew a circle using the light rays near her feet. “It looks like drag marks.”
“Back-up is coming. It’s dark. No way we’re going hunting in some damn cornfield.”
Lily sighed. Morgan was right, but whoever had been hauled off was in trouble and running out of time.
A piercing scream erupted in the distance. Lily took off toward the sound, using her flashlight and the dull glow from the city lights to guide her.
In a matter of seconds, her feet pounded the soft soil leading away from the safety of her truck.
She glanced over her shoulder and saw her partner running parallel with her, but staying closer to the road.
On the other side of the fence row, footsteps matched hers in beat as they trampled the pile of fallen leaves scattered among the field. Lily picked up her pace, running hard and fast, tussling with buck thorn branches as they swatted her face and throat.
Strings of hanging barb wire nipped at her clothes as she dodged several leaning fence posts. The chilling wind penetrated her torn clothing and lapped at the slits in the fabric on her thigh and calf.
A few seconds later, a prickly burn in her leg forced Lily to stop. It felt like thin shards of glass sliced into her raw flesh, imbedding themselves into the jagged gashes. She hiked up her pants leg and shined the light on the wounds. Thosedamnbranches.
Lily’s chest heaved with exertion as disappointment overwhelmed her. The footsteps tapered off into the darkness. Hewasgettingaway. She fell to her knees and clutched her injured leg in agony.
Lily glanced over at the road. It was silent. And she was alone. Where did Morgan go? The terror that lay beneath her bold judgment to rescue someone had surfaced.
Then, several yards away, Lily saw an outline walking towards her. Instinctively, she reached back, gripping her nine millimeter, giving her the reassurance she still had control. “Stop! Police!”
The outline continued toward her.
Lily unfastened the holster and the person stopped, sheltered by the trees. She could tell by the masculine build it wasn’t Morgan.
“Get down on the ground and put your hands behind your head,” Lily demanded.
“Lily?” Morgan shouted, coming up from the rear.
Relieved to hear the voice of her best friend, Lily exhaled, but kept her eyes front, ready to pull her firearm and shoot if he dared to make one move in her direction.
As Morgan approached, the unidentified man turned and fled in the other direction.
“Are you all right?” Morgan offered her hand.
As Lily and Morgan made their way out to the road, they heard movement near the fence. Lily stopped, aimed her light and followed the beams over a pile of clothing, then upon a woman’s face.
The victim moaned and threw up her arm to shield her eyes from the light.
Morgan jogged over to the young lady and stooped next to her to ask a few questions.
Exhausted, Lily limped to a grassy patch and sat down. She could still see Morgan. For the moment, that was all that mattered.
Lily looked at the stretch of road she’d traveled on several occasions; one of those occasions jabbed at her memory like nails being pounded into hard recycled wood.
A snapping sound brought Lily out of her thoughts. She looked toward the hazard lights flashing on her truck and saw a yellow strip flapping in the wind a few feet away from her.
She rose, took a couple more steps, and squinted at the bold black lettering printed on the tape, which kickstarted her heart.
County Road K.
She was near the crime scene.
Her Final Watch
A Detective Blanchett Mystery Book 2
Speaking second-hand truths can be deadly …
Detective Lily Blanchette will stop at nothing to solve a murder. Her current case involves the killing of an undercover cop working to bring down the mob for prostitution and drugs.
But Lily's usual laser-like focus on the case has been disrupted.
Two weeks earlier, she learned she was pregnant by her murderous husband whom she'd killed in self-defense. Unsure whether to keep her baby or place the child of this cruel man up for adoption, Lily keeps the pregnancy a secret from her colleagues.
Under mounting pressure to solve the case, Lily arranges a sit-down with a local mob boss only to find out her suspect is also wanted by them. But before Lily can warn her team, she and her new partner, Jeremiah, are shot at, and another body is found.
When she discovers Jeremiah has a connection with the underworld, she is pulled into a conflict that swirls around the boss's son who's hell-bent on revenge.
To add to the complexity of the situation, Lily learns that her victim might still be alive if it wasn't for opportunistic Assistant District Attorney, Ibee Walters, who has a twisted vision of justice.
As Lily gets closer to finding the killer, she unravels ugly secrets that point to Ibee and Jeremiah - placing Lily's life and her unborn child in danger.
December 10, 2015 4:13 p.m.
Detective Ariel Weeks stabbed at the small block of ice until it split into several pieces across the counter. She tossed the jagged cubes into the glass and made her client a drink.
In less than twenty-four hours, Ariel would no longer have to use the name Jasmine and keep men company to protect her cover. All she needed to do was make it through this last night, and she’d be allowed to be who she was; a mom just doing her job.
After gathering evidence and recording all the data she had, it would be hard to detach. Towards the end, she’d learned things she’d wished weren’t true, leaving her stomach in tattered knots.
Back at home, there were two reasons Ariel would never take on another undercover assignment. Click.
Ariel ground her teeth as the door to Cabin D opened and closed. She could feel Mikey Surace, the mob boss’s son, staring at the backless white dress she wore at his request.
The man who smiled at the sight of blood was standing behind her, breathing heavily.
She turned and handed Mikey his drink. “Your gin and grapefruit.”
Mikey took the drink and pulled Ariel down on the bed next to him. His hand, smooth like velvet, traced over her dark brown skin, along the length of her arm and rested on her thigh. “I had a shitty day.” He loosened his tie, removed his gun and put it on the ottoman.
Ariel stole a glance at the weapon, thinking of ways to grab it before he did. Just in case. “Wanna talk about it?”
“I had my talk with Pop. He wants me to get married and have kids so I can take over as head of the family soon. He wants our family to be seen as more law-abiding than the other three families.”
“Nowadays, no one gets married to have a family. Would he accept a long engagement?”
“No way. My old man still believes in marrying now, ask questions later.” Mikey took a sip of his drink and sat it down on the nightstand table. “My father asked my mother to marry him on her seventeenth birthday.”
“I’m sure you’ll find a woman who’ll accept you for who you are, who won’t care about the lifestyle you lead, and who knows when not to ask questions about your business.”
“You always say the right things. Why won’t you let me take care of you?” he asked, planting a kiss on Ariel’s full lips. “This is my third time asking you to be with me.”
Ariel wanted to wipe off the lingering citrus taste from her mouth but didn’t out of fear. She had already been spotted by one of Surace’s men and couldn’t believe that she was still alive. Probably because Ariel, at any moment, could tell the boss things that the other person was doing, clearing herself from any suspicion and allowing her to keep her cover. Even that wasn’t a guarantee.
Drops of rain peppered the window facing out at the bare branches of a willow tree. Wind hissed against the cabin.
Ariel stared into Mikey’s almond-shaped eyes. The olive tint of his skin masked his fiery temper. Things were getting heavy and out of control for a first time U.C. like herself.
She undid the strap on her stilettos and let them drop to the floor. “Because your ex-girlfriend is in charge of my money and I need every penny. I wanna make my money and maybe one day get out. It’s a dream of mine to stop escorting and waiting tables at the club.”
“If you get with me, you won’t need money.” Mikey cupped Ariel’s chin and squeezed. “Why do you keep turning me down?”
“I’m not turning you down.” She pulled out of his grip and rubbed her chin. “I don’t want to ruin my friendship with your ex. She’s my bestie and the only one I can trust in this business.”
“You don’t trust me?”
“You’re a dangerous man.”
“I’m only dangerous to those who cross me.”
Ariel wanted to ask Mikey if he’d kill her but decided against it. It was best to redirect the conversation and talk about what he enjoyed the most. Him. “What’s it like to kill someone?”
Mikey pulled Ariel back on the bed and laid on top of her. “When I put my finger on the trigger, it’s like foreplay. With each pull of the trigger, that’s the build-up. Once my target is dead, I’m satisfied. For me, it’s a lot like sex.”
“Has anyone told you you’re crazy?”
“Yeah. They never lived to say it again.”
When Marguerite Ashton was in her twenties, she took up acting but realized she preferred to work behind the camera, writing crime fiction. A few years later, she married an IT Geek and settled down with her role as wife, mom, and writer. Five kids later, she founded the Crime Writer’s Panel and began working with former law enforcement investigators to create; Criminal Lines Blog, an online library for crime writers who need help with their book research.
She’s a workaholic who hides in her writer’s attic, plotting out her next book and stalking Pinterest for the next avocado recipe.
A member of Sisters in Crime, Marguerite grew up in Colorado, but is now happily living in Wisconsin and playing as much golf as possible. She can be found on Twitter and Facebook.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
That I love rewrites!
Rewrites- My writing mentor taught me to take the good and improve it, polish and even surprise myself with potential alternative endings.
What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?
Absolute Power by David Baldacci
Under The Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou
The Life of Elizabeth I by Alison Weir
The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson
Ruby by V.C. Andrews
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
(I have two new favorite authors that I can’t wait to read the complete series)
Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Catacomb by Madeleine Roux
What inspired you to write this book?
I came up with the idea to write Her Final Watch as I finished the ending for Promised Lies. It went through several rewrites until I was happy that this book would again, force Lily out of her comfort zone.
Her Final Watch starts two weeks later. When we meet Lily, we see a strong woman and a cop who prides herself on balancing work and family. But underneath she's hiding a lot of emotional pain. On top of everything else, Lily's learned that she's pregnant by her husband whom she'd killed in self-defense. So, what's supposed to be a joyous occasion has turned into a stressful situation. Now, Lily has a decision to make. Does she keep her baby or place the child up for adoption?
Then there's the case involving the murder of an undercover cop. That's when everything hits home for Lily. She's the lead investigator. Her victim is a colleague and a mother.
At this point, there's no turning back. Lily has to find her killer.
What can we expect from you in the future?
More Lily Blanchette crime novels. At the moment, I’m working on the third book in the Det. Blanchette series. The Parolee will be released in 2018.
I’m also writing a young adult mystery series. The first two, Shadowed Seats and Staged have been published. The third one, Cold Read will also be released in 2018.
Also, I just finished my first draft that introduces a new female detective who works on cold cases.
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?
Yes, I do! I’m looking forward to digging into their past and shaping them into what makes them the person they are today.
Where were you born/grew up at?
Colorado – home of the Rocky Mountains. It’s the one thing I miss.
I lived there for twenty-nine years before moving to Wisconsin for a fresh start, meeting my husband, combining and starting our new family. I am a stay at home mom this time around with five kids.
If you knew you'd die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?
I’d spend it with family. Then enjoy the rest of my time watching scary movies.
Who is your hero and why?
There are two women who’ve made an impact in my life. My grandmother and my mom. It was my grandmother who told me, “If you want to write books, then you go do it. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.”
My mom has been there for me when I needed her the most. At times, she just listened. Other times, she offered advice. No matter what, she stepped in to help me with my little ones so I could write.
I’m grateful to have had several personal talks with my grandmother before she passed away. This year was rough as I dealt with almost losing my mom during her fight with cancer.
As we get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving, I’m thankful that Mom’s here with the family.
Tell us about a favorite character from a book.
One of my favorite characters is Detective Lily Blanchette in Promised Lies. She’s got a lot going on. So, I’d like to think about what a day in Lily’s life would be like if her life weren’t in so much chaos.
My main character Lily is a workaholic like her dad, Collin. She works at a medium-sized police station in rural Wisconsin with her best friend and partner, Morgan. Between chasing leads—the coffee shop and McGinley’s Irish Pub is the local hangout for law enforcement professionals when they need to relax and blow off steam.
At home, she wakes up with her new husband. They are still getting to know each other’s personal spaces in their marriage. If her husband has time in his schedule, he tries to impress his wife with his culinary skills while she focuses on her latest remodeling idea for her Victorian home.
On Lily’s day off, she enjoys time with her dad, which is sometimes hard when their two schedules don’t match up. While enjoying their favorite pastime together, fishing along the banks of the Rock River, their conversation would be:
“Hey Dad, watch your pole you’ve got a nibbler.”
“Nah, the river is running fast near the bottom so it just looks like it. Crank up 2 reels off the bottom and you’ll see.”
“There’s more to the Bagdenol case. That wasn’t a suicide.”
“Lily, this is our time to relax our minds, and put a filet in the skillet for supper tonight.”
“Sometimes it’s hard to relax.”
“I understand. Just remember one thing, always go with your gut instinct. By the way, I agree with you about the Bagdenol case.”
“Thanks.” As Lily adjusted her fishing pole, she felt a firm tug. “Wait, get the net. I think I’ve got one.”
“Reel him in. I want fish tonight, not another meatloaf.”
Describe your writing style.
When writing my books, if an idea for another book hits me, I jot it down in one of my many notebooks. When it’s time to go over the notes, I talk it out with my husband. For the law enforcement side, I contact my cop friends to see if I can get away with the story line.
Sometimes I’ll be editing one manuscript, or working on the latest promo and the idea hits, and I write the scene. But it helps me to let it flow, then organize it later.
What are you passionate about these days?
The arts and becoming a foster mom for dogs until they find their forever home.
Advice they would give new authors?
Being a writer isn’t easy. Our job is to write every day and be prepared to repeat the process of creating a book over and over. My tip to writers is to give it your ALL.
A – Ask questions about yourself and your writing. Make sure that this is something you want to do.
L – Listen to the answers. Sometimes the reply is not what you’d expect or want to hear.
L- Learn from those answers. Then take the appropriate steps to master your art.
What is your writing process? For instance, do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?
When writing my books, if an Idea for another book hits me, I jot it down in one of my many notebooks.
When it’s time to go over the notes, I talk it out with my husband. For the law enforcement side, I contact my cop friends to see if I can get away with the story line.
Sometimes I can be editing one manuscript, or working on the latest promo and the idea hits, and I write the scene. But it helps me to let it flow, then organize it later.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
It’s a process…Writing Her Final Watch was tricky. I had to find a way to work Lily’s pregnancy in the story and allow her to work in the field. That’s when I turned to my friends in law enforcement. They helped me understand what my heroine, could and couldn’t do. After I did my research, I put myself in Lily’s shoes and focused on what would be important to her. No matter how much she loved her job, her motherly instincts would kick in. And I think I’ve managed to find a balance between the two.
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Addicted to avocados.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
For me, there was never that one moment. I had several. A lot of it had to do with my self-doubt as I tried to decide if I was making the right decision. My strong desire to write was something I felt from the inside. For me, I have to write every day. Even if it’s just making notes on another book or working on my blog.
If I miss more than a day, I start to get cranky.
The one thing that keeps me writing is David Baldacci. His story helped remind me that success can come with persistence and continual improvement.
How did you come up with the title of your first novel?
Coming up with a title for any of my books is a process. I’ve tried to make it easier, but I haven’t had any luck.
I write down the first words that come to my mind and start crossing out the ones that don’t work for me. If I run out of suggestions, I go to my husband or mentor. It took me three days to come up with Her Final Watch. Promised Lies took a year.
Who designed your book covers?
Endeavour Press designed Promised Lies and Her Final Watch. Judy Bullard is the designer for my YA mystery series.
Do you see writing as a career?
Yes, I do see writing as a career. It’s very important to me and the challenges that come along with it.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No, I wouldn’t change anything. In fact, it kept me focused on what to write in my upcoming book, The Parolee.
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Gabrielle Union as Detective Lily Blanchette.
Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I want to thank you for giving Detective Lily Blanchette a chance to invade your personal reading space.
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