This fifth book in my Malice series has been a very slow endeavor. It will be listed for sale on
Amazon.com any day now. Here are a couple initial chapters for you to preview:
Aisle of Malice
by Marla Madison
Mikayla pulled at the warped screened door, the sharp creak of its old hinges attacking her nerves like nails on a blackboard. Adding to the eeriness of the scene, the light over her entry door at the back of the old house was burned out. Beyond the backyard was a thickly wooded area, which added to her feeling of isolation. She reminded herself how she’d immediately fallen in love with the unique charm of her tiny apartment, which was small compensation at the moment with her fear factor pushing her heartbeat to a rapid pace.
Darn. She should have watched to be sure her date had driven away before she’d rushed from the car and headed behind the large four-story home where her private, isolated entry sat above a five-step cement porch. Their time together hadn’t gone well, culminating in him asking, “We won’t be seeing each other after this, will we?” Mikayla had answered with an honest “No.” So there’d been no escort to her door when the date ended, and she’d had no desire for him to escort her.
And there was no reason to be afraid that he would follow her uninvited. Not really.
The screen door bounced off her rear as Mikayla quickly turned the key in the lock of the inner door and hurried inside, grateful she’d thought to add a deadbolt when she’d moved in.
Gerald Paltrow had seemed nice enough at first. Mikayla worked part-time at the mall in a large sporting goods store, and they’d met in the food court as they were waiting in line for Chinese food. She hadn’t met many people in Eau Claire and had easily acquiesced when he’d asked for her phone number.
A few years older than Mikayla’s nineteen, Gerald had been patronizing and annoying on their date. All he could talk about was sports and cars. They had nothing in common, and the conversation had quickly come to a boring halt. With an unsaid agreement not to extend the night, he’d driven her home right after they had finished their food, skipping the movie they’d planned to see.
The tiny kitchen Mikayla entered from the back door barely held a few cupboards, a small sink, a table for two, and a four-burner stove. Disappointed with how the night had turned out, she pulled a soda out of her dorm-room-sized refrigerator.
For some reason, she still felt uneasy. She peeked out the window over the table, which faced the backyard. In the moonless night and without the light over her door, the darkness held no surprises. There was nothing to see.
She left the kitchen and moved up a narrow staircase to the nine-by-twelve-foot living room. Her bedroom, located off of it, wasn’t much bigger. Her apartment was an odd setup but had a lot of what she liked to think of as vintage character. A mansion in its day, the turn of the previous century, the house had been unprofessionally divided into eight apartments. Hers, the ninth, had been fashioned out of leftover space.
On about the fifth step from the top, Mikayla froze in place when she heard what sounded like footsteps above her. She had a fleeting thought that noises didn’t necessarily mean footsteps and reasoned there was no need to panic because the old house had many unusual sounds.
She heard it again. These weren’t merely house sounds—someone was in her apartment. Heavy footsteps were coming toward her.
Mikayla’s body remained paralyzed. Before she could force her body to move in either direction, a dark figure bolted down the stairs and pushed past her to the bottom of the stairway. Totally panicked, Mikayla lost her balance when the intruder shoved her and tumbled down the stairs in his wake.
Detective Kendall Halsrud gathered the silky fabric above her head and slid it over her body. Her image in the dressing room’s mirror no longer represented her as a police detective. Her long sandy-brown hair graced her shoulders, and the totally feminine, ankle-length, column-like dress fit perfectly. Today’s fitting was only to adjust the hemline.
“Keep your weight balanced,” Patty reminded her. “This is the most important part, and it had to wait until your fit was perfect.” She stepped back and evaluated the wedding dress. “The fit couldn’t be better. You tall gals really show off a wedding dress.”
Kendall assumed a rigid posture and tried to focus on the matter at hand. Her wedding was only weeks off. Adam Nashlund, the love of her life, had expressed his desire to have a formal ceremony in the Episcopal church in downtown Eau Claire. Ironic that he was the one to want a big church wedding since he’d been married before with all the trimmings, unlike Kendall, who’d never made that trip down the aisle.
Patty was the wardrobe maker for Kendall’s friend Nat’s theater group. Nat had offered Patty’s services to make Kendall’s bridal gown because, Kendall suspected, Nat didn’t trust her to buy one on her own. Nat had even designed the dress. When Kendall had accepted Nat’s offer to design it, she’d warned Nat that she would refuse anything too girly—in other words, no lace, bows, beads, feathers, trains, sequins, or ruffles—forcing Nat to get creative.
Kendall had forgotten to say, “No fur.”
Nat had come up with a simple floor-length, sleeveless sheath topped by a cape of the same fabric edged with white faux fur artfully crafted to look like fox. Nat had told her she could flip up the fur-edged hood at the altar, as it took the place of a traditional veil. Kendall had approved the sketch. The dress was beautiful and simple, just what she’d asked for, although she had her doubts that she could do it justice, despite Patty’s constant flattery that Kendall’s height pulled it off perfectly.
Before Patty had even half of the hem pinned in place, Kendall’s phone chimed. “I’m sorry, but I do need to take this.” She really didn’t, but dress fittings were not Kendall’s thing. Being a detective was, and she hoped the call would get her out of her fitting, or at least put it off for a few days. It was unlikely the call was work-related, however, since she was on days that week and it was nearly ten p.m. She stepped down from the fitting platform and pulled out her phone.
“Kendall, it’s Courtney. I’m sorry to bother you, but a friend of mine is in trouble.” Courtney was a young woman who Kendall had met when she and her partner had been searching for a killer. Since then, Kendall’s partner, Ross Alverson, had embarked on an on-again, off-again relationship with Courtney. Kendall wasn’t quite sure where it stood at the moment. Most likely off, since Courtney was calling her with a problem and not Ross.
“What’s the matter?” Kendall asked.
“I don’t know if Ross told you, but I moved into a different apartment a few months ago. I’m on the second floor, and my friend Mikayla has a place in the back. She had an intruder tonight.”
“Didn’t she call the police?”
“She did. Right after it happened,” Courtney said. “But they didn’t stay very long, and she wasn’t comfortable talking to them. She called me after they left.”
“They were both men, right?” Kendall knew that many female crime victims felt intimidated by male law enforcement.
Courtney confirmed her suspicion. “They were. But there’s more to it. She told me she thinks she’s being stalked.”
“Didn’t she tell them that?”
“No. She was too shaken up. They kept insisting that she go to the ER, but she refused. She felt okay physically.”
“Did the intruder hurt her?” Kendall asked.
“I don’t think so. He pushed her down the stairs, and I’m trying to talk her into getting checked out.”
Kendall sighed. She wasn’t sure the situation met the requirements for getting a detective involved. She did have the option of calling the station to see who was on duty that night and ideally find the girl a female officer to talk to. Then she pictured the girl with Courtney, frightened and scared of what would happen to her next. Kendall’s hemming would have to wait. “Give me the address. I’ll be right there.”
I hope these two chapters were exciting enough for you to want to read the whole book. The ebook will be at an introductory price on Amazon for only the first few days. Grab your copy now!
Thank you for reading,