Monday, October 20, 2008

All right you romantic suspense lovers, here's hoping I can "pique" your interest with a sneak pique at my latest WIP!

A Walk of Faith by Elizabeth Ludwig


Blood trickled a fiery path down the side of Isabella’s face.

“Help!” Her cracked voice rang foreign in her ears. “Please.”

Stretching out her hand, she reached for the shadowy figure splitting the white light searing her eyes.


Her heart sped. Is that what happened? A car hit her? She swallowed a sudden rush of saliva and did a quick check. Pain wracked her limbs, back, and sides. Her head. . .

She blinked, forcing the fuzzy edges of her vision to clear and mentally beat down the panic gripping her chest and stomach. “I’m alive,” she whispered, pleading. Instead of drawing near, the figure paused, hovering inches from her grasping fingertips, and then retreated. Tires squealed. Acrid exhaust and burnt, smoky rubber filled her nostrils.

Tears mingled with the hot, sticky dampness covering half her face. The throbbing in her temples intensified. “Don’t go! Don’t leave me.”

The silent night air mocked her. She was too late. She couldn’t move, could barely breathe, and she was all alone.


“Nice to see you again, Detective Malloy.”

Wynn grimaced. “Right, Alex. Always a pleasure.” He snapped on a pair of latex gloves, adjusted a paper mask over his mouth and nose, and stepped closer to the table. “Whatcha got?”

Alex Marion, Jefferson County Medical Examiner, bent over the pale form lying on the examination table. “Adult male, approximately thirty-five years old, good health.” He motioned to a chart where he’d already recorded the victim’s height and weight, and posted the results of an x-ray. “He’s been dead awhile.”

Wynn nodded, trying not to breathe as Alex finished the visual inspection phase of the autopsy.

Alex redirected the bright light attached to a band encircling his head then picked up the victim’s hand. “You said they found him in a dumpster?”

“Yep.” He dropped the copy of the case file Alex had requested onto a gleaming metal countertop. “Everything’s in there.”

“Good.” Alex lowered his chin and spoke into a microphone attached to his shoulder. “Indentation around left ring finger indicates wedding band. Possibly recently divorced.” He went back to scraping gently under the victim’s fingernails.

“He doesn’t look unhealthy enough to be a drug addict.”

“No he doesn’t,” Alex agreed in a soft whisper. “So why murder him, I wonder?” He straightened, laid a glass slide alongside an already long row of slides, and moved to the victim’s head. “No clothes on or near the body when he was found?”


Alex mumbled to himself, sometimes speaking quietly into the microphone, other times, shaking his head as he worked.

Well familiar with the routine, Wynn leaned against the counter to wait, redirecting his gaze when Alex began his internal examination. In his fifteen years of law enforcement, Wynn rarely missed the autopsy of a victim in a case he was working. He loathed the sterile process, the meticulous method with which Alex performed his duties, yet recognized the absolute necessity of the task. Plus, he appreciated Alex staying late to see it done. The clock on the wall said it was well past quitting time.

Several hours later, Alex put the closing remarks on his notes.

Wynn straightened. “Well?”

“We’ll need dental records to ID him. If that doesn’t work, we might compare his photo to our list of missing persons.” Alex clicked his pen and slid it into the breast pocket of his lab coat. “Toxicology will take a couple of days. I’ll let you know when I hear something.”

Anxious to be finished with the examination and away from the smell, Wynn stripped off his gloves and dropped them into the trash alongside his mask. His clothes were a different story. They’d go into the wastebasket at home.

“Initially, it looked to me as though the victim had been strangled.” He grabbed the manila folder off the counter and following Alex down a hall lit by humming fluorescent lights.

Alex nodded, peeled off his gloves and apron, and dropped them into a bin next to his office. “Foam in the throat and back of the mouth, contusions on the neck, it all seems to bears that out. I’ll let you know for sure once I’ve compiled the information. Got the case file?”

Wynn handed him the folder. “I’ll work on getting an ID so we can contact the next of kin.”

“Sounds good.” Alex gestured to the paperwork. “Once we establish his identity, the rest of this should be routine—cause and manner of death, mechanism, time,” he waved his hands, “all that.”


An internal tremor shook Wynn’s spirit. Cut and dried. Just your typical, everyday murder. He scowled as he swung through the glass doors of the county morgue into the humid Texas air.

Uh-huh. Routine. Tell that to the family.


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