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The Major's Wife

The Major's Wife

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The Major's Wife

Lunghezza:
412 pagine
19 ore
Pubblicato:
Oct 20, 2014
ISBN:
9781935883562
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

The Major's Wife

Diana King is a psychiatric doctor, working closely with military families. Her marriage to a major in the US Army may not seem anything out of the normal except that her husband is an African American man. She is a white woman from the rural south. Her father makes it very clear that he is not supportive of the relationship. The drama explodes when King and family are reassigned to Fort Rucker, Alabama, where Diana's family resides as original settlers. King is called up for duties in Iraq, serving couple stints in the Gulf War. While he is away, his wife continues her psychiatric care and post-combat treatment counseling for soldiers returning with issues from serving in the war.

She meets her former lover from high school. Now a sergeant with the post-combat syndrome (PTSD), he tries to get extra counseling sessions between the sheets. Both are married, and an extramarital affair occurs between them. After King's heroic return to Fort Rucker, he is ambushed and is senselessly killed.

In a town of old bigotry, this murder awakens racial tension. The local police, led by Detective Sharkey, try to solve intriguing murder. Diana and her father are prime suspects, King's father, a military man himself, relies on an old friend to help solve the mystery of his son's demise.

Provocative and riveting The Major's Wife reveals some real experiences directly from the combat zone. The author, Anthony Whyte, relies on his military background to capture the arduous, fascinating, exciting grind of a soldier's life.

From start to an inevitable sensational dramatic finish, The Major's Wife is a compelling read.
Pubblicato:
Oct 20, 2014
ISBN:
9781935883562
Formato:
Libro

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The Major's Wife - Anthony Whyte

UNHEEDED...

CHAPTER

1

Diana King frantically threw the files down on her desk and hurried out of her office. Moving faster than her feet could go, she ran down the stairs. Her svelte, five-ten frame came stumbling out the building. Kicking off her heels, Diana went running at top speed across the street. Suddenly her strides slowed before she completely froze. Her breath coming in gasps, Diana stared, trying to wrap her brain around the entire situation. Astonished, her eyes widened with her every step she took.

Nervously approaching the unmoving body lying beneath the shadow of the Boll Weevil Monument, Diana’s mouth gaped. She was now able to recognize her husband’s body, and her legs slowly started to move. Diana broke into a slow trot. Her hands were covering her mouth, and Diana’s breathing was labored.

Oh no, oh no…no… she sobbed.

Gasping for air, she ran to where Vaughn’s body was lying. As she got closer, Diana saw that he was bleeding, and a blood-curdling scream escaped her throat. Launching herself to the ground, she wept while kneeling by the side of her husband’s bullet-riddled body. Then Diana gently raised his head and was uncontrollably sobbing while cradling him in her arms. A small crowd gathered and stared in sympathy at her grief.

Someone call nine-one-one, please! Diana screamed, pleading.

The police are on the way, ma’am, an onlooker said. I already called.

We saw him lying there. Look like he had an accident or— another person said.

He’s bleeding badly, a person in the said.

Is he dead? another onlooker asked.

Looks like someone must have tried to rob him, huh…? an onlooker asked.

Diana King didn’t answer, hugging her husband, she sobbed, Vaughn, please don’t die, honey. An ambulance is on the way. Don’t die…

A flash of lightning followed by a thunderous roar, and the sky opened. The downpour of rain brought brief relief from the high humidity of the evening. King’s lifeless, leaking body left bloodstains on Diana’s khaki Capri pants. Sobbing loudly, her white blouse turning crimson, she held her dead husband’s body beneath the giant statue of a woman holding a boll weevil. Rain added to the macabre of a spectacle.

Sirens blared in the distance. Enterprise emergency services received the call. Diana knew that any real chance of saving her husband might just be too late. She held Vaughn’s body in her arms and felt his life slipping away.

Please don’t die. Oh, God… Diana sobbed.

Fear clouded by her despair gripped the slender body of the therapist. A mixture of emotions ripped her thoughts apart like the bullet holes from the killer’s gun. Her husband was lying still, and Diana continued to hold his lifeless body close to her buxom. Onlookers shook their heads in empathy, carefully watching. The notion that her husband might be already dead never seemed to cross her mind. Diana refused to give up hope. A wave of emotions rippled through the crowd like a bolt of lightning. Some of the sympathetic onlookers appeared overcome by this horrible scene. Wiping Vaughn’s face, Diana was crying and pleading.

Don’t leave me, Vaughn. Just hold on. The ambulance will be here soon, Diana grieved.

Captain Vaughn King survived many tours in the Gulf War. He was a hero of both Desert Storm and Operation Freedom and was a leader of an elite aviation unit known throughout Fort Campbell as the Black Angels of Death. The Cobra unit earned its wings performing search and destroy combat missions in the Gulf region. BAD was the unit’s call sign, and its members reigned terror on enemy tanks and mobile units. During the ongoing Gulf War, King’s military contingent participated in over three hundred missions with minimal loss. Eventually, accolades started pouring in from all quarters, including the White House. Four weeks ago, King’s unit returned stateside after another successful tour of duty in the Gulf. Their notoriety had spread far and wide, leading to promotions and new leadership assignments for the unit’s members.

A highly decorated soldier, Captain King, was reassigned to Fort Rucker for advanced aviation training. He was poised to take command of another army cobra outfit. These plans appeared derailed. Her husband’s life was leaking away with each passing second. The combat vet was bleeding badly in the arms of his weeping wife. She heard him gasp then felt the coldness in her husband’s limbs. Death came calling.

No, Vaughn. Don’t die! Diana shrieked.

Glancing up at the sympathetic look of the faces looking down at her, Diana seemed struck by the show of emotions but felt hopeless. Deep inside, she knew it was all in vain. The lethal injuries caused by the bullets left Vaughn’s body feeling cold. Diana held him close, cuddling him, seemingly not wanting to let him go. The falling rain pelting the streets added to the macabre of the scene. Rainfall washed his stilled body, mixing with tears streaming down Diana’s face. They met while the young King was involved in initial flight training at Fort Rucker.

While King rocketed up the military ladder ranks, Dr. Diana King made a name for herself working passionately as a clinical therapist. Assisting soldiers and dependents affected by the stark and very violent realities of overseas combat duties, Dr. King was a very busy, diligent, and respected for her work. Holding her husband and crying, Diana was now face-to-face with the harsh reality of death.

Cradling her husband’s body, she sobbed loudly. Diana never seemed to notice the rainfall or effects of stormy winds swirling around her due to her emotions. Flashing lights lit the night sky, and wailing of sirens announced the arrival of emergency vehicles. Ambulances and a couple of police cars with uniformed officers were on the scene.

The officers immediately sprang into action. Rushing from their cruiser, they ran to where a grieving Diana was holding King. While one tended to Diana and the stilled body of Vaughn King, the other was radioing for assistance.

Minutes later, crime scene investigators and detectives crawled through the area like the infestation of boll weevils that hit the region’s cotton crops. Back in 1918, the insect pest destroyed most of the cotton farms in Coffee County. With hope for better results, uniform officers fanned out, covering the perimeter of the crime scene. A seasoned homicide detective led the investigation. Sharkey, with ten years of police work under his belt, was on his walkie-talkie. The constant squelching sound chirped amongst the sirens and flashing lights.

This is Detective Sharkey... The victim is a forty-year-old military officer. A black male shot multiple times. The uniform guys who responded reported that it appears that he’s the victim of a botched robbery. He’s gone. It doesn’t seem like anything else is missing. Have to talk with the spouse. There are several onlookers and prospects, but so far, no actual witnesses to the crime. Spouse, a white female, is here. Yes, run her name, Diana King. She’s either a psychiatrist or psychologist. McAlister’s currently with her...she appears to be unhurt, but terrified. She may have been the last person to see him alive…

Immediately after getting off his horn, Sharkey spoke to a few uniformed officers. They walked away and began canvassing the small crowd in search of witnesses. Sharkey walked to where another detective was talking to the distraught Dr. King.

This is my partner, Detective Sharkey, the young detective said.

Shoulders hunched, Dr. King lifted her head, acknowledging Sharkey’s six-foot frame. Unkempt, long sandy hair hid his cold, blue stare. Diana was still in the depth of her sorrow, and her eyes drifted to the ground where her husband’s bloodstain remained. She didn’t appear to be holding up well. Sharkey silently watched her slipped into quiet gloom. Diana was weakened and seemed unable to deal with the situation. Sharkey steeled his blue eyes on her and decided not to push too hard.

I’m sorry about all this, Sharkey said, waiting for Diana to look at him. She didn’t, and he continued. Bad things sometimes happen to good people with no feasible explanation. But I promise you that my partner and I will do everything to get to the bottom of this.

Thank you, detective, Diana said, finally looking up at Sharkey.

Tears were running down her cheeks. Sharkey nodded to Diana King. Then he turned to his partner. Pulling McAlister out of Diana’s earshot, Sharkey asked, What do we know so far, Jim Bob?

Jim Bob McAlister, a twenty-six-year-old, athletically built man, grew up in the Ozark area. The proud local, McAlister, was a family member considered upper class in this region of the southeast. With only three years under his belt in the Enterprise police force, McAlister earned a promotion to detective in less time than others in his grade. McAlister’s rise to homicide division tied him to his family’s political connections. He walked over to where Sharkey stood and related Diana’s statement.

She said they were at the golf course in Ozark, and it started to rain. They stopped to get a file. While upstairs in her office, she was alerted to noise outside, McAlister said.

Yes…but why did they stopped? Sharkey asked, staring intently at his younger partner.

A chirping sound of his radio distracted Sharkey, and he took a couple of steps away then listened. Keying the walkie-talkie, he said, Go ahead…

The grimace on his face tightened when he learned that there were no eyewitnesses to the shooting. The onlookers noticed the body and the SUV doors were left open, but the ghost-like attacker was long gone. No one had seen anyone running from the scene or knew who had perpetrated the horrendous assault. The search was continuing, and the police established a five-mile radius.

Keep looking and make sure you guys check all the garbage cans back and forth. Let’s leave no stones unturned, Detective Sharkey said.

Then he turned and stared at his partner standing with the bereaved wife. The crime scene investigative unit cordoned off the immediate area with yellow tape and scoured the outer limits for whatever evidence or witnesses they could find. Investigators found no weapons, empty cartridge, or any other evidence in the crime scene’s proximity. Members of the investigative unit widened their search.

A few hours later, the authorities were stumped. The police had no further information regarding the crime because there was no eyewitness. Detective Sharkey realized that the last person to see her husband alive was his wife. At this time, she appeared too distraught for any type of interrogation. Wavering whether or not to take her statement, Sharkey kept his gaze on her.

The coroner’s vehicle pulled up close to him. Medical technicians were in the process of removing King’s body from the crime scene. Diana stood by looking on with a saddened gaze on her face.

Sharkey said, Dr. King, we’ll have to keep your vehicle as part of the evidence.

Diana King turned her head in Sharkey’s direction and nodded without looking directly at him.

While the police impounded King’s SUV, Sharkey’s keen eyes saw a certain familiarity between his young partner and the grieving spouse. It was the way that Detective McAlister stood next to her. Sharkey dismissed it but was surprised when the detective offered the still visibly shaken Diana a ride home.

Dr. King, you better ride with us, the younger officer suggested.

Something about the way they stared at each other stayed in Sharkey’s head. He filed it away in the back of his mind for further use. The detectives escorted Diana to an unmarked car. Sharkey drove, and his younger partner rode shotgun. Sirens blared while a saddened Diana sat silently in the backseat.

Through the rearview mirror, Sharkey kept his eyes on her. A sad look clouded her while tears rolled softly down her cheeks. Glancing at each other, the detectives decided to hold off on questioning the spouse. Instead, they engaged in what seemed like idle chatter that was initiated by Sharkey.

With a smirk on his face, Sharkey looked past Diana into the darkness. He saw the lights of Enterprise disappear in his rearview. This southeastern part of Coffee County, located in Dale County, was a place Sharkey migrated to ten years ago. Sharkey wanted to get to the bottom of this homicide, and he needed his only witness to cooperate. Sharkey wanted to find the reason why this man and who did it.

Sharkey was an out-of-towner, and since moving to the area, he was often made aware that the local folks showed tremendous fierce loyalty to the city. For them, like his partner, this area represented God’s gift. Transient residents such as soldiers and dependents didn’t give a damn. With this in mind, Sharkey played his hunch. He wanted Diana King to talk and set out planting the seed.

Jim Bob, you know when the town erected the Monument? Sharkey asked.

McAlister stared at his partner with a confused look on his face. Then went on to fumble the answer.

Ah…well…ah, I think around nineteen, ah, I know it symbolizes the prosperity the city felt the insect brought.

The idea for the Monument came into existence in nineteen-oh-eight. It was dedicated December eleventh, nineteen-nineteen, Diana said with distinct homegrown pride.

Enterprise was trying to make itself famous, huh? Sharkey quipped in a condescending tone.

I guess you could say that, McAlister said, sounding confused.

McAlister was wearing an unsure expression. Sharkey had to be aware of all the information he was seeking, McAlister silently reasoned. The locals were very proud of the region’s history. He soon heard his partner prying.

What’s your opinion, Doc?

Enterprise put itself on the map by erecting the only statue dedicated to an insect pest in the world, Diana added. Coffee County once found itself to be the leading producer of peanuts in the nation.

Jim Bob, this lady sure sounds like a citizen who knows her history. She’s definitely from around these parts… Sharkey said, encouraging Diana’s response. Oh, you are from around here then, huh, right, Doc?

I was born in Ozark, and from an early age, I’ve studied those facts in school. And you just don’t forget things like that, Diana said with a certain smugness. You sound like you’re from out of town, detective.

Oh, you’re right about that, Sharkey exclaimed.

Whereabouts, detective…?

Amarillo, Texas, Sharkey said and watched Diana fell into dead silence.

The classic grieving spouse syndrome, but he badly wanted to crack her façade. Diana King’s enthusiasm regarding the area where she was from did not surprise Sharkey. He had many times witnessed the same conceit in his partner. Nodding, Sharkey stirred the pot, hoping he was onto something. McAlister gave Sharkey a curious glance. Sharkey’s chitchat had piqued his interest. He listened in heightened curiosity as Sharkey made small talk.

Why do you think they build a statue to a pest? Sharkey asked, shrugging.

The pest devastated the cotton farms, and farmers nearly went bankrupt. They were forced to diversify or face economic ruin. So farmers began planting peanuts, and other crops offsetting damages and recouping some of the losses, McAlister answered.

So the boll weevil plague brought good results, and the town’s people honor that. Not really the insect but— Sharkey began, but Diana interrupted.

The politician did it in appreciation of what the people of Enterprise thought heralded their prosperity, she said.

See now… Still, it makes me wonder why this—talk about making something that’s bad into something good, huh? Sharkey said, scrutinizing her facial expression.

Yes, there was a disaster, but the economy thrived. And there was more prosperity gained than had ever been achieved from just dealing with cotton alone, Diana added.

Imagine that…and your office just happened to be located right next to the Monument? Sharkey quipped.

Yes. And close enough to a military base. The majority of my clientele’s made up mostly of army families, wives, and dependents.

So you have contact with lots of soldiers then, doctor?

Diana, you can tell us all about that when you come to the station in the morning, McAlister said.

I can say that I have a lot of contact with soldiers and their families, detective.

Are you speaking professionally? Sharkey asked.

Yes, in a professional capacity. I do see soldiers, and dependents because of the great amount of separation occurring between family and spouses—

Remember, Sharkey. The U.S. is at the height of this Gulf War— McAlister interrupted.

I’m aware of that—

Then you’ve heard of combat—

I know we’ve been at war for years, Sharkey said.

No, what I was referring to is psychological injuries, like combat fatigue, McAlister said.

Oh, I’m sure if that’s a problem, it would be more in public view, Sharkey said.

Unfortunately, there are many side effects that aren’t very popular, or we can say politically correct to discuss, Dr. King said.

What do you mean by that, Dr. King? Sharkey asked.

Besides combat neurosis, many spouses are suffering from battle fatigue, and some suffer depression due to the separation caused by the war. Others have violent tendencies. I’ve been treating this population, and the numbers are drastically on the rise. So I do have to see a lot of them in a professional setting.

Is there anyone who would want to use your professional relationship to crossover to say…a more personal relationship? Say a person with a violent tendency? Sharkey asked, taking his eyes off the road for a beat.

Detective Sharkey, my job involves helping many military family members readjust to life after serving in a war. Of course, there’s an amount of violence, but nothing toward me personally. I also have to give testimonies in cases involving divorce, domestic violence problems. I don’t know anyone who wants to wish violence on me.

I guess in your line-of-work, you see all kinds…?

I see a lot of people who are having issues. This war has forced people to look at loved ones in a different light, Diana said.

What do you mean in a different light? Sharkey asked.

The soldiers deployed from Fort Rucker may escape death in combat, but they return with loss of limbs and… Diana’s voice was becoming emotional. Then it trailed.

We can continue the discussion in the morning, if you like Diana, McAlister quickly said.

Fort Rucker’s just north of town? Why did you wound up at your office on a Sunday evening? Sharkey asked.

There’ll be enough time for us to question her in the morning, Sharkey, McAlister hastily suggested.

He was definitely against putting Dr. Diana King through the unpleasantness of the inquest. Sharkey was after information, and undaunted by the surviving spouse’s circumstances, he pursued the questioning. Even though Diana King appeared stressed, she complied.

It was an emergency stop. ‘A pit stop,’ Vaughn called it. We left the army post headed for the Ponderosa, and… Diana said in a tone that was trembling uncontrollably.

Sharkey watched her green eyes tearing up. Her tears slid down her rigid cheekbones’ firm skin and formed at her full lips’ crest. Diana was a beautiful woman, and Sharkey lost control of his thoughts when his eyes followed a tear slipping quickly between her firm breasts. He licked his lips and couldn’t help but noticed that despite the waterfall of sad emotions that flooded her mood, there was a specific vibrant, seductive energy. Keeping her under his constant scrutiny, Sharkey noted Diana King’s every reaction. He felt like her cause was sucking him in. Was it just his imagination? Sharkey lowered his voice when he wondered out loud.

What’s most puzzling is that whoever killed King didn’t remove the wallet, and took the chance of driving away in a very nice car—

His partner immediately interrupted Sharkey’s loud musing and said, That car…now that’s a very nice ride. How much you think it cost?

Shoot, Jim Bob, I can’t afford anything like that, so I’d like to guess anywhere in the hundred thousand dollars out of my range, Sharkey laughed.

Yeah, I’d think like about eight-five or so. It was fully loaded, McAlister noted.

Well I’ll be damn, Sharkey whistled. The captain must have been loaded—

It cost eighty thousand dollars. My husband called it… Ah, an investment. He had it shipped from Germany, Diana said solemnly. It’s cheaper that way.

You’re sure about that, Dr. King?

Yes, Vaughn loved German cars…and you may call me Diana, she said.

Beneath her outpouring saddened state, Sharkey could see Diana’s beauty. She appeared shaken, but the conversation had lightened her blue eyes. Her previously paled face was slowly reddened on the sides, highlighting Diana’s sharp cheekbones. Even though he was driving, Sharkey’s eyes watched Diana King’s every twitch. The psychiatrist appeared emotionally shaken. A sudden realization of the loss of a loved one death could cause that. Sharkey thought as his reasoning took over. Feeling like he had done enough to crack her veneer, Sharkey decided to back off.

We’ll get to know each other better in the morning, the seasoned detective said.

Staring at the widow, Sharkey couldn’t stop thinking about how King wound up getting killed. Was his grieving spouse upfront in her involvement? It was tough to tell. Questions were swirling in his head, and Sharkey drove while filing them away for future use. Diana’s soft but persuasive tone interrupted his thoughts.

I am right over there, detective. Thank you, Diana said, pointing to the quiet mid-sized house.

Sharkey pulled the car to a stop, and said, I have some more questions for you, Dr. King, but I’ll hold them until I see you in the morning. Goodnight…

Goodnight, detective. And thanks for everything.

She got out of the car. Sharkey watched his partner hurried from the car and walked Diana to her doorsteps. She was acting weak, but her athletically petite figure seemed strong as ever. Sharkey noted while lighting up a cigarette. After spending a few minutes smoking, the detective was still lost in his thoughts when McAlister came strolling back to the car.

That woman is the worse of her kind, Sharkey said when McAlister got back inside the car.

McAlister smiled at him and then asked, Just what would lead you to say something like that, Sharkey?

Jim Bob, she’s a beautiful woman with a brain, Sharkey answered with a smirk.

And just how does that make her the worse of her kind?

Her awareness of it, Jim Bob. She knows her mere presence will cause the bravest man to retreat into hiding.

Okay, I’ll agree, she’s a beautiful woman, and all.

They’re the most dangerous—

Meaning what?

She could be involved in her husband’s murder…

She’s the surviving spouse, and except for the killer, she was the last person to him alive.

My thinking exactly, young buck, and she’s got a nice pair of legs, Sharkey smiled.

Don’t mean she could’ve pulled the trigger and ran back up to her office…

A beautiful woman like that doesn’t have to pull the trigger herself. She can use all that sexiness the good Lord gave her to get some poor sucker to pull it for her.

I could see your theory…

Yes, but…? You sound unsure.

Not that she can’t do it, but she doesn’t strike me as the type of person to be doing that type of thing, McAlister countered.

You may be right. But remember, I’m going to concede Diana never pull the trigger herself. But a smart woman with all that beauty…

Okay, so your theory, after talking to her about the history of the monument outside her office building, and the little dribble about her job, is that she had her husband killed?

I don’t suppose you were listening when she said that it was her idea to make that so-called pit stop…? Maybe you were too busy being enamored by her good looks?

I heard what she was saying, Sharkey. She also distinctly reported that he was supposed to get the file from her office the day before. And the husband should’ve done it. Either way, a stop was made, and a man’s dead.

That’s right. And whoever called it walked away alive, Jim Bob. And we’ve got to find out why.

I get it, Sharkey, spouses, are in general, the number one suspect in murder cases like this. But I still insist she doesn’t fit the type—

What type is that?

A conniving woman who wants to have her husband killed.

Maybe…

That’s for the forensic psychologist to decide, but I don’t think so, McAlister said.

Maybe she’s not guilty of pulling the trigger, but I’m certainly not willing to go as far as ruling out her involvement. She’s, for now, our prime suspect, Sharkey said, contemplating. For all I know, she could be beautiful and more dangerous than a loaded shotgun in a baby’s hand. Still, you’re right. She deserves a second shot.

Sharkey drove while the detectives went through the information gathered. A black army officer was gunned down, and his killer vanished, erasing all traces of evidence. The crime scene experts investigated, and so far, found no clues. There were no spent shells left at the crime scene. Sharkey drove back to the area where the murder occurred. The detectives got out of the car and walked the perimeter of the crime scene.

Standing in front of a professional office building, Sharkey glanced up at the 4th-floor window. Then both detectives went upstairs to the location of Diana’s office. Pausing, they visually scoured the inside the lobby of the fourth floor. Two other offices were there. McAlister noted the name of the doctor and attorney sharing the same level. Walking to Diana’s office door, Sharkey stared at the prominent display of her name.

Dr. Diana P. King. Clinical Psychiatry.

They walked inside a midsize office that opened up to a short corridor that led to two interview rooms. The detectives strolled from the waiting area to the window. Looking out, and glancing down Main Street, Sharkey made a mental note of the distance. Sharkey walked to Dr. King’s desk and stopped to examine it in great lengths. Sharkey picked up the case file lying on the counter. Then he walked back to the door.

Jim Bob, there’s one thing we know for sure. This killer did it too cleanly. Our killer had to be an expert.

I agree. And with the rainfall washing all trace evidence away, it sure seems like whoever did it couldn’t have chosen a better evening for a murder.

Leads directly to me asking this question. How involved was Dr. Diana King?

C’mon Sharkey. Do you think…?

McAlister waited for Sharkey’s response, but the lead detective’s focus was on the window. Sharkey appeared to be looking past the question. Without answering, Sharkey then shot McAlister a quizzical stare. They walked out of the office and went down the stairs in silence. Crossing the street, the detectives trudged toward the Monument. Officers fanned out, searching the perimeter of the crime scene. McAlister could feel Sharkey’s eyes trained on him.

Trust me on this one, Jim Bob. A woman with that much beauty and brain don’t come much deadlier, Sharkey said, watching the officers check the crime scene.

So, your early conclusion is that Diana King is somehow involved in her husband’s murder? McAlister asked.

My only question is how involved is she?

The detectives conducted a lengthy walk-through of the crime area. After a thorough examination, the police were unable to find any other evidence. They curtailed their search. It appeared that the killer was meticulous in covering all tracks and vanished into the Sunday night.

Well, I’ll be damn, another dead end, Sharkey said, walking back to the car.

Yes, as you said, this was cleanly done, McAlister agreed.

Too clean. I guess we’ll have to wait to talk to the good doctor for any leads.

I reckon… So far, Dr. King seems pretty open to answering the questions.

Sitting inside the unmarked Chevy, Sharkey glanced at his younger partner before starting the engine. Then he said, Jim Bob, from as way back as biblical times women have always ruled men. They’re the true rulers because they’ve got something we want…

McAlister stared at Sharkey in silence. All the time, he was aware of the badge of inquiry Sharkey wore on his face. His grip on the steering wheel tightened, Sharkey’s mind was going a hundred miles an hour, and he couldn’t put the brakes on it. An uneasy feeling passed between the two detectives. McAlister didn’t know what Sharkey had up his sleeve, but nothing surprised him. Before teaming up with Sharkey, others from the department warned him about the senior detective tendency to go off on tangents. McAlister shook his head and stared at the road ahead.

CHAPTER

2

Raindrops pelted the roof of his house. The early morning thunderstorm found General Dan Mason, a commander at Fort Rucker Aviation School, picking up his house phone. A commander of the U.S. Army Aviation School duties and responsibilities included informing next of kin about a loved one’s death. A daunting task, Mason hated to perform because it was emotionally grueling.

Due to ongoing combat operations in the Gulf War, soldiers were losing their lives, and these calls were at times appeared routine. Even though this was an ugly side of the war, and Mason executed the duty many times before, he was still dreading making the call. Colonel Mason would generally make a call of this nature from his office on base. However, things were very much different on this occasion.

During combat operations in Operation Desert Storm, Mason served with the victim’s father. They had served on the battlefront together. Dan Mason was a helicopter pilot back in Desert Storm, and King at the time was colonel and commander of a tank battalion. The two had collaborated on many missions. Being more than familiar with the deceased soldier’s family made this a nearly impossible task. Under the tearful scrutiny of his wife, Joanne, General Mason’s hands trembled as his shaky fingers began dialing. It was like this was his first time.

Home in suburban D.C., King sat reading, his phone rang. King picked it up and glanced at the time. An uneasiness in his stomach swelled. What was the emergency? Vaughn King thought when he heard the voice on the other end.

Hello…Vaughn…

An

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