Table of Contents
Introductions seem to be in order
Even as Rory was jumping up from the couch, she was taking aim at the man in the chair. In spite of her trembling hands, she managed to keep him firmly in her sights. How could the shadowy product of her imagination actually exist in the harsh glare of the lamp? The bogeyman was never in the closet when you finally built up the courage to look. And the monster was never really under the bed, even if you were sure you could hear it breathing. So why hadn’t this shadow simply evaporated in the light, leaving her to laugh at her own foolishness? But there he was in her crosshairs, and what made it even worse, he seemed perfectly relaxed and comfortable in spite of her obvious advantage over him. In fact, she thought she detected a bit of a smile on his lips as if he were just fine with the way things were going.
Rory felt anger quickly overtaking shock. “Who the hell are you?” she demanded, her voice strong and steady even though her insides were quivering.
“Ezekiel Drummond,” he said, in a drawl that was a mixture of southern and something else she couldn’t immediately place. “Pleased to make your acquaintance, ma’am.”
“A police artist matches wits with the ghost of an Old West marshal as they work together to solve a double homicide, but it’s the chemistry between this modern woman and crusty cowboy that will draw readers in toSketch Me If You Can
. A spirited debut!”
—Cleo Coyle, national bestselling author of the Haunted Bookshop Mysteries
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
SKETCH ME IF YOU CAN
A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with the author
Berkley Prime Crime mass-market edition / August 2010
Copyright © 2010 by Sharon Pape.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
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eISBN : 978-1-101-18901-6
Berkley Prime Crime Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
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For Jason and Lauren,
children of my heart and soul,
this child of my mind.
A loving thank-you to my family for their help brainstorming plot issues.
Special thanks go to Vivian Sanzeri, dearest of friends. Your advice is always invaluable, your instincts always dead-on.
I’d also like to thank Suffolk County Detective John S. Majoribanks (Ret.) for kindly fielding my questions.
Any inaccuracies in the depiction of police procedure should be attributed solely to the author.
t was over in less than three minutes. The intruders went about their work with the spare efficiency of professionals. The taller man held the flashlight at exactly the right angle while his shorter companion applied the cloth steeped in chloroform to the victim’s nose and mouth. He held it there just long enough to prevent the man from awakening and resisting their ministrations. Then he placed the cloth in a zippered plastic bag and withdrew a hypodermic needle. The taller man refocused the flashlight, synchronizing it to his partner’s needs as if they worked with one mind. No high-wire act was more practiced, more seamless in its performance.
To ensure that the puncture mark would be virtually undetectable, the shorter man dispensed the contents of the needle into the underside of the victim’s tongue. Then he placed all the evidence of their visit back into the small duffel bag on the floor between them. The taller man turned off the flashlight and picked up the duffel.
As the two drew back from the bed, the clock radio on the nightstand crashed to the floor, startling them. After a hurried discussion they decided that one of them must have stepped on the wire, pulling the radio down. They continued on to the bedroom door where they planned to watch the results of their handiwork. But as they waited for the next act to unfold, the security alarm started wailing. Both men had the same thought—the system had not been engaged when they’d picked the lock and entered the premises. Of course, it didn’t matter how the alarm had become activated. All that mattered was that they would have to leave before seeing the grand finale.
They were already making their way down the stairs when their victim bolted upright in bed. His breathing was shallow and labored, his eyes wide with terror. He clutched at his chest with one hand and with the other grabbed frantically for the telephone on the nightstand. He managed to punch in 911 before losing consciousness. In the darkness of the room, he never saw the darker shape standing at the foot of the bed.
t was six o’clock by the time Rory finished with the elderly couple who’d come into Suffolk County Police Headquarters to report the theft of the woman’s purse. Rory should have been able to produce a reason-purse. Rory should have been able to produce a reasonable likeness of the thief in fifteen minutes, tops. Unfortunately, though, they weren’t able to agree on any of the details, from the length of the man’s hair, to the shape of his eyes, to the pattern of his shirt and endlessly on down to the type of shoes he was wearing. By the time she’d ushered them out the door, almost two hours had passed.
She made a few final adjustments to the sketch and dropped it off with Detective Leah Russell, who agreed to distribute it in-house and fax it to the other precincts. Then Rory dug her purse out of the deep lower drawer of her desk and grabbed her linen blazer off the back of her chair. On her way out, she took a minute to stop in the ladies’ room and freshen up for her meeting with Lou Friedlander, Mac’s attorney.
When she checked her image in the mirror, she was grateful that her hairdresser had talked her into going short so that her auburn hair framed her face and required little effort to maintain. There was no need to fix her makeup since she didn’t wear any. The hazel eyes that peered back at her were wide and canted up ever so slightly at the outer edges, a narrow, black line ringing the irises like the outlines in a child’s coloring book. At twenty-eight the only distinguishing mark on her face was the single dimple that notched into one side of her mouth when she smiled. The asymmetry gave her a disarmingly unfinished look, as if she’d been snatched away a moment too soon from the gifted artist who had created her. In Rory’s opinion, it just made her smile appear lopsided.
She splashed some cold water onto her cheeks, blotted it off with a piece of paper towel from the dispenser and headed for the door. If rush-hour traffic wasn’t too bad on the Long Island Expressway and no eighteen-wheelers had jackknifed from going seventy miles an hour two feet from the car ahead of them, she might still make the six thirty appointment.
The one benefit of having spent the last two hours trying to wrest a description from the elderly couple was that Rory hadn’t been able to dwell on the reason why she was going to see the attorney. Her uncle Mac’s death a week ago had been so sudden that even now it didn’t seem entirely real. One moment life was clicking along at its normal, often tedious pace, and the next, without any warning, the world dropped out of its orbit and started freefalling through space. How could a heart just stop? Shouldn’t there be a pain, an ache, a skipped beat necessitating tests, worried phone calls between family members, conferences with specialists, anxious decisions about the best course of action to take? Shouldn’t there be time for prayers? Time to say good-bye? A heart pumps for fifty-two years as reliably as the sun rises and sets, and then one day it just stops?