Buried: New Excerpt

Buried by Kate Watterson
Buried by Kate Watterson
An excerpt of Buried, the third book in the Detective Ellie MacIntosh series by Kate Watterson (available December 31, 2013).

Two cases vie for Detective Ellie MacIntosh’s attention—a sudden rash of seemingly unrelated cop killings and the discovery of an old, hidden grave on her grandfather’s property. The clues to the recent murders leave a confusing trail of corruption, drug running, and possible political intrigue. The hidden grave reveals a skeleton—literally—in Ellie’s family closet. She attempts to juggle both cases with help from her temporary partner, Carl Grasso, and her former partner, Jason Santiago, who is restless on medical leave. Did Ellie’s grandfather know the grave was out there? Could the ruthless killer of Milwaukee’s finest be one of their own? Ellie doesn’t know who she can trust, and she’s just become the killer’s next target.

 

Chapter 1
SEPTEMBER 1957

She was cold. Shivering. Her body reacted to every sound in the creaky old house. The wind was rising, whistling through the eaves, and the old birches outside groaned and protested in a primal whine.

The one board in the parlor always complained when stepped on just right and she made that mistake, the protest loud and damning.

No.

The floor was chilly, but she was freezing already, so it didn’t matter.

This wasn’t perfect, but she didn’t want perfect, she just wanted it over. Lies were tiresome, there was just no two ways about it. A burden, something to cart around with you all day and take to bed at night. Her mother had always said so, and she was beginning to agree.

Around the corner there was an oak sideboard, massive, with pretty dishes and an engraved silver coffee urn, looming in the filtered light. There was an old sofa, a carriage lamp, and the smell of roses lingered from a vase full of blooms from the garden, but the flowers were starting to wither, so the sweet odor was tinged with decay. Accidentally she bumped the table and a few of the petals fell, whispering against the polished wood.

The knife was in her hand. Not heavy—a lightweight steel made for fileting fish, curved, the blade Finnish, something she’d gotten actually from her father, inherited when he died. There was a hint of rust along the edge because she didn’t oil it like he had, but it was still as sharp as death.

And death was part of this chill night.

SEPTEMBER, PRESENT DAY, ONEIDA COUNTY

The day was cold and Detective Ellie MacIntosh winced and adjusted her collar in the mist. Raindrops were even gathering on her lashes. So much for Indian summer. The entire week before it had been in the seventies, but that party seemed to be over. The leaves were starting to take on just enough color to indicate summer was going to fade before long. It looked like it might be an early fall.

“What is it I need to see again?” The question was reasonable because it was hardly the right weather for a stroll through the woods. Damp, too cool, the pine needles underfoot slippery, the trees dripping.

“A hole.” Her grandfather stopped as if he wasn’t entirely sure where he was going, and then veered off a little to the left. “Over here.”

That didn’t really fill in the blanks. She carefully stepped over a fallen log with fungus the size and shape of human ears on the side. “Excuse me, but, we are out in this to look at a hole? Can you be a shade more specific?”

He glanced back. His face was reddened by the crisp breeze and his pale eyes direct. The cold wind ruffled his white hair. As usual, he wore a plaid shirt, a tan coat over it, and his jeans were so worn they must have been three shades lighter than when he originally bought them. His boots were covered in mud, but it was wet out. “Just follow me, Eleanor.”

Fine.

She disliked her given name, but could hardly tell him that since she’d been named after his mother, so she instead glanced around the wooded hill. At the bottom of the slope there was the same lake she’d swam in as a child so many times, and right now it held a flotilla of fallen maple leaves, starting to gather in a circle thanks to the wind, the water swirling. The trees were turning early, not a good sign. It had been awhile since they’d had a truly frigid winter by Wisconsin standards.

Mystified, she watched her grandfather tramp between a ridge of white pines and slender birches and followed.

What is this?

Her first glimmer of what was really happening made her stumble over a small rock. She was no longer paying attention to the terrain, her foot sliding on the hill before she caught her balance with one hand behind her, skidding on the fragrant pine needles.

What was in front of her was not a hole. Well, it was, but it was roughly square and reminiscent of something grimmer than that generic label.

The partially revealed outline in the moist soil was of a human skull, and one fragile, broken hand didn’t help the situation. The grinning skull had a missing tooth, and a wash of horror swept through her despite a career in law enforcement and experience with more than a few gruesome sights.

Not a hole.

A grave.

“What the hell?” She hadn’t meant to blurt that out, especially in front of a man she revered, so the question was quickly amended. Her grandfather was more than a little old-fashioned. “I meant: What on earth? When did you find this?”

“This morning. And I didn’t find it.”

Her grandfather was breathing heavily enough that she felt a flicker of worry. “Are you all right?”

The nod he gave was curt. “The storm must have washed it out. That rain came through like a runaway locomotive.”

No doubt a correct conclusion. When the front swept in, it had arrived with a vengeance as the temperature plummeted a good forty degrees. It would warm up again, but not today.

She certainly felt cold through and through. A frigid droplet trickled down her neck.

“It looks old to me.” He stared at the skeleton, but stood a few feet away.

If he meant those brittle bones, it looked 100 percent, extremely dead to her. The age would probably have to be determined by a forensic anthropologist, but impossible to gauge on a wet hillside half covered in dirt.

But definitely in the dead category.

“It obviously isn’t new, but old is a relative term. At a glance a buried skeleton is not in your provenance of expertise or mine either, for that matter.”

That was putting it mildly. He leaned on a walking stick he often carried but never used. “So, what now?”

The phone call that had summoned her up north hadn’t exactly prepared her for this, but he had never been a talkative man, which was why she had dropped everything and made the drive from Wausau where she’d been visiting her sister. Jody had agreed. If Robert MacIntosh called, it was urgent. That he’d specifically asked Ellie to come alone made sense now. If he wanted help, he needed it, and this seemed to bear out that conviction. She managed to ask calmly, “Have you called the police?”

“I called you.”

“Not quite the same.”

He looked at her, his face not precisely amused, but still the corner of his mouth lifted. “You are still a detective for the Milwaukee police, right? Big-city law enforcement. The only person I know who has shot more than one man. So who else should I call? You are the police. So technically, I have called them.”

The testiness in his voice was a surprise, but maybe he was more rattled than he cared to admit. The reference to two recent cases and the way they’d been handled made her experience a moment of chagrin, but it had been all over the television so she knew he’d heard about it. She didn’t really think he was being critical as much as asking for her help in a roundabout way.

It was a little interesting to her they had never discussed what happened. How was that conversation supposed to go anyway? Hey, Grandpa, did you hear about me shooting a serial killer?

Not her style, and actually, not really his style either. They were politely close, if such a thing were possible. She adored him, but the affection was implied since he didn’t wish to talk about it, so she didn’t bring it up.

It was hardly as if she’d never seen a dead body, but the outline of the half-turned skull got to her. It was maybe more the lonely spot and the bleak, gray day. “I am a detective, but this is not my jurisdiction either. How about 911? Lots of people use it, especially when they find the evidence of a crime.”

“Do I have evidence of a crime?” The shrug he gave was pragmatic, but she thought he looked a little pale except for his cheeks being reddened by the sharp breeze. “Make them all rush out here for what? There is no one to be saved and it seems to me time doesn’t really matter much to those old bones. Waste of tax dollars to have everyone come with screaming ambulances when it is obvious whoever is buried here can’t be helped.”

There was validity to that logic—though she didn’t agree completely. Her job as a homicide detective was to help, even if it was to only obtain justice for the victim. They both stood for a few moments staring at the half-exposed skeleton. “No, he or she can’t be saved. I’ll concede that.”

The trees wept, her coat was soaked, and this situation was beyond the scope of her experience, even as a law-enforcement officer. She was far too used to blood and death, but this was not her usual kind of case.

Not her case at all, in fact.

Ellie let out a slow breath and reminded herself that he was eighty-plus years old and maybe he didn’t realize that since she now worked in Milwaukee this was not going to be her investigation. She unclipped her phone from her pocket. “Let me get the sheriff’s office and they will have someone here as soon as possible. It will probably be just a deputy at first and then the coroner as soon as he can respond. At that point, they can decide what to do next. I can’t really do more than that.”

It took two transfers but she finally got through to the correct department once she explained the situation, and the dispatcher promised to send out an officer. Since it wasn’t exactly an emergency, Ellie just gently pushed the button on her phone when the call was done and moved a few steps closer. “Any ideas?”

“About what?”

“Who it is?”

Crouching down, her grandfather frowned at the skull as if he could possibly recognize the person, his face pallid in the late afternoon light. “Don’t think so. This is land our family has owned for many, many years.”

Ellie glanced around and immediately started processing the scene in her mind. It seemed like a strange place to bury a body. On a steep hillside? The slope was at least at a thirty-degree angle. Then again, it wasn’t easy to walk on either, so discovery would be unlikely. “You said you didn’t find it. Who did?”

“Kid fishing on the lake in a canoe stumbled across the skeleton trying to get off the water as the storm rolled through. Roger Bridges. You’ve met his parents. Stepped right on it, or so he says. Scared him half to death.”

Human remains had a way of doing that to you. She winced inwardly. She believed the part about him taking refuge on the shore, but that Roger had contaminated the scene would not help forensics when the team came in. It looked like maybe he’d cleared away some of the dirt with his hands too, probably because he couldn’t quite believe it. “Why didn’t he call the sheriff’s department?”

As if it made perfect sense, her grandfather explained, “Because it is on my property. His folks have a place across the lake. If it hadn’t started to rain so hard so fast, he would have gone back to their dock. This is closer. Roger came to the house, and when he told me about it, I really didn’t believe him at first either. Told him it must have been a dead deer or something. Once the weather settled down, I came out to look. Then I called you. I knew you would have a handle on how to take care of it.”

Exasperated, she searched for something respectful to say. Take care of it? That answer was easy. Try calling for local law enforcement, which is what should have been done in the first place.

Her grandfather straightened. “Should we go back to the house? Kind of wet here and I could make a pot of coffee while we wait on them.”

“I…”

She stopped in the middle of her sentence. Something wasn’t quite right.

Just the two of them. The wind eerily rustling the leaves, the water silver and rippling, and a very dead silence.

Ellie thought uneasily: You aren’t surprised enough.

It wasn’t anything in particular, but she knew Robert Lawrence MacIntosh, and she felt it. Part of her job was reading people and it was just there.

Whoever lay in that grave, he just wasn’t surprised. Felt the need to report it because this kid knew, but really hadn’t wanted to call it in.

What the hell?

He stood there, this strong, kind man she’d known ever since the day she was born, his gaze averted as he turned, a lock of white hair blowing across his brow.

Were it anyone—anyone—else, she would start a rapid-fire litany of questions, but she found she didn’t want to ask them.

“You are a police officer,” he said it as if it gave him some sort of anchor. “A detective. When something like this turns up, what happens next?”

The breeze made her shiver almost as much as the sight of those bleached, deserted bones. “When the deputy arrives he’ll ask about the victim. Do you know who it could be, that sort of thing.”

“Thought that might be it. Then what?”

“They’ll exhume the body from the makeshift grave. I predict there will be crime scene techs all over as they look for clues, but it also looks to me, from an inexpert view because I am not a medical examiner, that this body has been there a long, long time, so I doubt they’ll find anything. Most of the evidence will have deteriorated.”

She stopped, took in a breath. Because she was a police officer, and because this was not just her job but a sudden immediate problem she had never seen popping up on her horizon but was still there, staring her in the face, she weighed her next words. She tended to try to meet problems head on. “As I said, they are going to ask you, so let me ask first. Do you know who this might be?”

“I can’t say that I do.”

But he didn’t look her directly in the eye as he spoke. Instead he gazed out over the rippling water of the gray lake.

Dear God, one of the people she respected most in the world was lying to her.

She remarked very quietly, “I would love a cup of coffee.”

*   *   *

Detective Jason Santiago had been out of uniform for years now, but the rhythm of it came back naturally.

Officer Danni Crawford got the message from dispatch just as she was pulling out of the parking lot where she’d answered her last call, which proved to be simply a report on an unruly customer at a pharmacy. The man could not get his Schedule 2 meds filled for a few days and was starting to feel the pangs of withdrawal from a very strong narcotic if his erratic behavior was an indication. A few words with him and looking into those bloodshot eyes, Jason was reminded how little he liked the ramifications of addiction. The unruly customer was convinced finally that screaming at the pharmacist was not going to get him anywhere but into a jail cell and he’d left peacefully enough.

Job done. Problem solved, at least to the extent that Crawford did not have to haul anyone off in cuffs. Jason, just along for the ride because he was still officially on medical leave, was amused when she pleasantly asked the manager of the store—who was hovering uneasily and was the one who had called the police—who the hell thought twenty-four-hour places that could dispense narcotics were a good idea?

Corporate, he’d answered. Truthfully, he looked tired with his rumpled shirt and askew tie. Then he added, “And I couldn’t agree more with you, Officer.”

She wasn’t enthusiastic about her reassignment to this late shift, but beggars really couldn’t afford to be choosers she told Jason as they went out to get back into the squad car. Promotions required sacrifice.

“Don’t I know it.” Recently he’d taken two bullets in the line of duty.

Danni shot him a sidelong look as she started the vehicle. “Yeah, I guess you do.”

She was pretty enough, brown hair, pulled back at the moment in a no-nonsense ponytail because she was on the job. Danni was a little overweight, but there was nothing wrong with something a man could hold on to was always his attitude. Besides, though he doubted many people would believe it, he valued personality above physical beauty and she was, in short, a nice girl and a good cop.

Her radio sputtered and she answered.

The dispatcher said urgently without a hint of the usual boredom, “We’ve got a shooting and we think there’s possibly an officer down. The phones are lighting up. How close are you to KK?”

KK meant Kinnickinnic Avenue. Jason’s heart rate shot up. Officer down. Close, but it was a fairly long street … officer down?

“Minutes away,” Crawford said, her voice catching. “What do we have?”

“Shots fired at what seems like a routine traffic stop. We aren’t sure what happened, but we need as many officers to respond as quickly as possible.”

It was a Saturday, and the street would be busy. “Give me the address. I’m close. I’m already driving.”

Maybe it was just as well Jason had asked, out of sheer boredom, if he could ride along.

KK had recently become retro chic and there were nice but quirky restaurants and little shops where tourists and locals browsed. The sound of sirens shrieked everywhere as they sped along and it wasn’t hard to figure out exactly where they needed to be.

The man sprawled in the street in a spreading pool of blood was definitely in uniform, his hat lying a few feet away, one arm flung out, the other limp at his side. His patrol car was parked, but the door was still open.

“Oh God.” Danni’s voice echoed horror. “Jason, oh God. I think it’s Chad.”

She didn’t quite get the car in park before she was out and running. He did it for her, feeling the jerk as the transmission locked, a chill creeping over his skin.

She shouldered her way through the crowd, Jason following, and knelt by the side of the fallen officer. With shaking hands she sought a pulse as the sirens neared.

Jason also recognized him with a shock that froze his muscles.

No ambulance with even the most skilled emergency personnel was going to save him, he realized, looking down at his still face. The man was dead.

And Chad Brown and Danni had dated, for what? Four years now?

Jason reached down and touched her shoulder. “Hey.”

Danni started trembling uncontrollably. She crawled to the curb and vomited, her body reacting to her emotions so powerfully she couldn’t help it.

This is not happening, Jason thought numbly.

Chad Brown. Jesus, it was Chad.

Danni and Chad had never said they were serious, but Jason had seen firsthand how comfortable they were with each other. Lovers, friends, colleagues …

As she dropped her head, probably to keep from passing out, in the distance, someone said, “Ma’am—Officer—you okay?”

“I’ve got this.” Jason’s voice was curt but he was hurting too, in shock, a little paralyzed by what had happened. “Hey, hold on. Come on, Danni, he’d want you to keep it together.”

“I know.” She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and sat up, but she was starkly pale and trembling.

Definitely not fit to be in charge. He said quietly, “Stay here. This is a homicide anyway. Let me handle it. Right?”

He did. Producing his badge—no one needed to know he wasn’t officially on duty—firing off questions about witnesses, directing the other officers arriving on the scene to look for casings in the street, ostensibly taking over even though he really didn’t have the authority at the moment, but someone needed to besides the pale-faced officer who had just emptied her stomach into the gutter.

She crawled back to the body and touched Chad’s face.

When she looked up, her face was streaked with tears. “I’ve been trying to drop the weight, you know? I kept telling him no engagement until I lose twenty pounds. He always said he loved me just the way I am. To stop worrying about it so much. Why did I worry?”

Man, if there was anything he was bad at, it was a moment like this. Jason crouched down next to her and said the most profound thing he could think of.

“Whoever did this is fucking going down.”

 

Chapter 2

The creak gave away there was someone on the stairs.

It must have because she heard the movement above as the bedsprings groaned, and then the sound of feet on the floorboards.

The electricity was out, but that happened often enough this time of year and she had a kerosene lamp. There was dark, and then there was the utter black of the north woods on a night with no moon. Later she would light it, but for now she was content with the darkness. It served her purpose well.

Utterly still and pressed against the wall, she strained to hear.

Her fingers gripped the knife so tightly her hand began to ache.

*   *   *

The room was dead silent. Not even the rustle of a piece of paper.

Chief of police Joe Metzger said slowly, “These are the events as we know them. Officer Chad Brown stepped out of the vehicle with the intent to approach on what he called in as a speeding stop. The driver didn’t move but the passenger engaged, getting out even after being asked to stay seated, and he hit Brown with three rounds to the chest before the officer could even draw his weapon. At this point, our perpetrator apparently got back into the vehicle and they drove away.”

Lieutenant Carl Grasso asked neutrally, “Witnesses?”

“We have a description of the vehicle from a person who was passing in the other direction, but that’s about it. A lot of people heard the shots and ran to look, but when I say fleeting, I mean fleeting. It was a flash in the night. Brown had called in the stop, but the car didn’t have plates, and obviously there was no chance to get the registration. Beige doesn’t really give us a lot to go on.”

Ellie frowned. The shooting was all over the news, but this was the first chance she’d had to hear details from an accurate source. “What about ballistics?”

“We rushed it through. It’s inconclusive that it is exactly the same gun, but it is the same caliber as the last one anyway. A .45 Glock. I don’t like the pattern similarities.”

“Second cop hit in two weeks.” Grasso didn’t precisely smile but his mouth curved in an ironic arch. He was in his early forties, a touch of gray at the temples, his history with the Milwaukee PD not exactly pristine. Once upon a time he’d been the division’s most successful homicide detective until he’d been transferred to vice for a suspicious incident. He’d recently been temporarily reassigned as Ellie’s new partner and she wasn’t positive she was thrilled about it. He asked in a cynical tone, “Coincidence?”

Metzger shook his head, but then he sighed and rubbed his cheek, slumping in the chair behind his desk. The chief was thickly built, a former marine who rarely cut anyone slack, and a decent politician. Ellie liked him with certain limitations. He didn’t handle media attention too well. It annoyed him, and it showed. He was no-nonsense, and abrupt if pushed, which was fine with her. She preferred the real deal to the smooth-over.

He said shortly, “A fluke, not a hit, if I had to call it, but I don’t know. That’s why we are having this meeting, just the three of us. I want to think I’m just fishing around. Maybe it is just two incidents that happened and are not at all related.”

Now that is interesting.

“I’d like to believe you’re right, but I have an ugly feeling this is a vendetta.” Grasso wore a thousand-dollar suit and a skeptical smile. He had his own money and didn’t do the job for the salary, so the clothes didn’t make the man necessarily. As of yet, Ellie hadn’t decided how she felt about him.

As distrustful as she was of Grasso, she had the same feeling about a possible revenge scenario. “We’ve had a department-wide very high mortality rate for the past two years, sir. I mean one of the highest in the nation. Might even get us first prize in a contest we never wanted to enter, much less win. We need to look at it.”

“Could be inside.” Grasso’s voice was even and pragmatic.

She didn’t agree. “Give me one solid reason why someone with the metro MPD would want to kill off random officers. Or better yet, give me something to connect the cases.”

Metzger placed his hands on the blotter in front of him, his chair creaking as he leaned forward. “Honestly, I know all the officers under my command pretty well and some of them better than pretty well, and I can’t see this is inside. That means it is outside, and we need to stop it right now. Cop killers are like suicide bombers—they just don’t care or they wouldn’t do it. If we catch them, they are going down, and they know it. When you have nothing to lose, you don’t care who you hurt. But it is well-known Fielding and Brown were friends. So we have two officers taken out under similar, albeit not identical, circumstances, and they are closely connected to each other. It makes me nervous. Do you know why? Because I don’t think the usual criminals concern themselves with the social habits of their targets. It just seems likely to me one of two things happened, and I don’t like either option. Care to hear them?”

Ellie would have pointed out that suicide bombers killed random people and perhaps this particular person was targeting cops, but she didn’t open her mouth. Grasso could be right.

There were times when it was better to sit back and stay quiet. “Yes, Sir.”

“Our first casualty was killed at home and off-duty. Whoever broke in shot him execution style and did not kill his wife or his son.” Grasso looked thoughtful. “He was undoubtedly the target, and whoever pulled off the hit did it smoothly and with a professional edge. The shooting last night was just as clean. Fast, probably planned, and they were out of there before we could as much as blink. Organized crime?”

They were still getting a measure of each other, but Ellie had learned Carl wasn’t shy about his opinions. Maybe she liked that, and maybe she didn’t.

Chief Metzger didn’t seem to agree. “Carl, it doesn’t feel right. This is my concern. They were both involved in something, and it got them killed.”

“I never got that from either of them,” Grasso objected.

“Neither did I. That brings up my second concern.”

They spoke like two longtime friends and she wasn’t in the club.

“Which is?”

“One of them got the other one killed in some way. What if the information came from one of us?”

“A police officer?” she interjected.

Metzger rubbed his forehead. “I don’t know. Carl is right on both counts about Fielding and Brown. I’d prefer if you proved me right about it being outside, but most of all, just come up with something we can work with, okay? I don’t want to hear on the national news that Milwaukee has a cop killer on the loose.”

Ellie couldn’t help it, she had to ask. “Is there some reason we are being given this case?”

And the private briefing?

“You aren’t being given this case. I assigned Hamish and Rays.”

She had to admit, she was a little confused and it must have showed.

The chief blew out a frustrated breath. “Here it is in a nutshell, MacIntosh. You haven’t been with the department long enough to have a personal vendetta, and Carl knows exactly how to investigate something like this.” His smile was thin. “Let me put it this way; I trust you to make sure he toes the line, and I trust him to babysit you through the process of an unofficial internal affairs investigation. No one gets a whisper of what was just said in this room, and I want it settled fast and quiet. You report only to me, and you work your other cases as usual. This is extra duty; I am not going to deny it. You’ll have to operate under the radar of everyone else in this precinct.”

Grasso stood. “I’m more than fine with it.”

Well, shit. No pressure.

“Me too.” She nodded. What else was she supposed to say?

“Okay,” Metzger said, his expression strained. “Just do me a favor and catch these sons of bitches quietly and quickly.” He didn’t bother to say good-bye, just left the room abruptly.

They walked out together, the hallway long and empty, though there were a few detectives still at their desks.

This wasn’t a complication she needed. The call from Metzger had come at an especially bad time; she’d had to leave before the coroner had finished the initial examination of the lakeside grave. It wasn’t like there was anything she could do in an official capacity, but she had worked up north before taking the job in homicide in Milwaukee, and even though her grandfather’s property wasn’t in the same county as her former department, she knew some of the officers.

What the hell was going on up there?

For that matter, what the hell is going on down here?

Grasso asked neutrally, “Should we go talk about this?”

What she really needed to do was call her grandfather.

Damn.

Quite frankly, the last thing she wanted was for her partner to get wind of the investigation up north, especially when she had no idea what to make of it herself.

The math was fairly simple. One skeleton on her grandfather’s property, no suspects, and no leads …

But still … there was now a cop killer evidently on the loose—or maybe the killings weren’t necessarily connected until it could be proved otherwise.

So she equivocated. “I’ve got something personal to handle. How about tomorrow? It’s getting late and I drove down all the way from Oneida County for this meeting.”

“We have a few issues to discuss, not the least of which is how we are going to handle this investigation quickly. We worked pretty well together on the Burner case. Let me buy you dinner, okay?”

Dinner out with Carl Grasso? No. She wasn’t at all in the mood to go someplace with the bustle of people everywhere, but maybe he was right, they needed to at least discuss strategy.

Last she knew, Bryce was making lasagna. She drew on the advantages of knowing she had a hands-down good dinner waiting. At the moment she didn’t even want to think about whatever was in that grave.

It wasn’t impossible. She could handle these two situations at once.

Or at least she hoped so, but she couldn’t handle sitting in a noisy restaurant trying not to worry.

So she asked abruptly, “Do you like Italian food?”

He shrugged. “My last name speaks for itself. What do you think?”

That actually won him a small smile. He was right; stupid question. “If we need to talk, I agree, let’s do it over dinner,” she said in resignation. “I appreciate the offer to go out, but I prefer a quiet table to a busy restaurant, and quite frankly, I’ve had an interesting day. If you want antipasti, stop and buy some. I’m officially inviting you to dinner.”

“Your place? Okay.”

“Not exactly.”

Grasso looked amused. “Where?”

“I’ll text you the address.”

“Wine?”

“Absolutely.”

“Sounds good.”

She reached for her purse and slung it over her shoulder. “Eight o’clock.”

 

Copyright © by Kate Watterson.

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Kate Watterson, author of Charred, Buried and Frozen, grew up on a steady diet of mystery/suspense novels. If it involves murder and intrigue, she is bound to be hooked. Kate also writes award-winning historical novels as Emma Wildes. She lives in rural Indiana with her husband, three children, and a temperamental cat named Poot.

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