Authors: Jullian Scott
Had a great fall
By: Jullian Scott
Had a Great Fall
A serial killer is on the loose in Chicago.
When Dani Jeffries wakes up in a dark cell, she learns that she is about to become the latest victim. As a shadowy figure comes for her at night, she finds herself face-to-face with an unimaginable monster.
Olivia Thompson has recovered from her physical injuries, but she is still haunted by memories of things that go bump in the night. When an emergency brings her back to her home town, she finds herself facing a past that refuses to stay buried as she dredges up even more painful memories.
In Chicago, the serial killer’s victims start popping up all over town and Detective Tucker finds himself in a race against time to find the other missing girls before it is too late. But Nate isn’t just searching for the latest murderer in Chicago. He’s also still desperately trying to solve the cold case of Rosie Thompson. His investigation has stirred up buried truths in the small town of Mercy and it quickly becomes clear that small town secrets are the most dangerous kind.
Had a Great Fall
will keep you guessing until the very end.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Copyright © 2016 by Jullian Scott
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Kindle Edition, License Notes
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There were certain days in the city when you either had to give into the craziness or lock yourself inside your home. Some such days include the Cubs making the playoffs, St. Patrick’s Day, Mardi Gras, and Halloween.
Dani Jeffries wasn’t a big party girl. Normally, any of those days would be a good excuse for studying in the library all night. But this Halloween was different. Her best friend, Madison Lee, was in town. Maddy had stayed behind in their hometown when Dani had left to study at North Chicago University two years earlier. Maddy was a quintessential party girl, and there was no better place for her to party than in Chicago.
“You’re not even trying,” Maddy yelled over the music, surveying Dani’s costume. “That’s just your regular clothes.”
“I already told you that I am not dressing up.” Dani stepped around her friend to turn off the radio. “You’re going to freeze in that outfit.”
“Drinking and dancing with boys will keep me warm,” Maddy said. She flicked a strand of pink hair over her shoulder. “Smile, Dani. We’re going to have so much fun tonight.”
The campus was buzzing with activity as young adults bounced from party to party. You could practically smell the alcohol in the air. Dani was still a few months shy of turning 21, so the girls had decided to stick to house parties rather than try to sneak into a bar. It wasn’t like they had to look hard for a party.
“Ladies!” They were greeted by a young man dressed like a soldier. He stood in front of a house that was practically vibrating from the loud music blasting inside. “Please tell me that you are planning to grace our presence with your beauty.”
Dani rolled her eyes while Maddy swooned. “You’re a charmer, aren’t you?”
“I’m the one who’s been charmed.” He smiled, flashing a dimple. “Ladies drink free…”
Maddy looked at Dani hopefully and batted her eyes. “Pleeease, Dan.”
“Fine.” Dani sighed. “Let’s go in.”
“Have a wonderful time, ladies,” Soldier Boy said.
Maddy faked a salute. “We will, Private.”
She put extra emphasis on the word private. Dani grabbed her arm and pulled her toward the house. “Subtle, Mad.”
“It’s called flirting. You should try it sometime.” She looped her arm through Dani’s and strode through the open door.
It was the last time Dani would see her friend for the next two hours. They were separated the second they stepped inside. The crowd was dense and chaotic. Dani found herself being carried in the direction of the party room. Every time she tried to leave the room to find Maddy, something or someone stopped her. First it was a drunk girl that needed help getting to the bathroom. Then it was a conversation about Russian history with a guy from her International Studies class.
By the time she was able to make a full pass through the party, almost two hours had gone by. Dani was ready to find her friend and go home.
“Hey.” She grabbed the arm of the fake soldier they had met outside. “Have you seen my friend? The girl that I came with?”
He looked at her blankly. “Friend?”
“The girl with pink hair wearing a skanky outfit?” she clarified further.
“Oh right. She just left.” He pointed in the direction of the door.
Dani hurried to the door, shocked that Madison would leave the party without her. That wasn’t like her. She was worried that something had happened to her friend. She caught up with Madison halfway down the street.
“Maddy!” Dani nearly tripped over a large tree limb that had fallen on the sidewalk. “Wait up!”
Just as she was about to reach her friend, Madison tripped and fell.
“Oof.” She grunted as she hit the ground, rolling onto her side. “Dani? Is that you?”
“Jeez, Maddy. How much did you have to drink?” Dani laughed as she bent down to grab Madison’s arm.
“Who is that with you?” Maddison asked through slurred words.
Dani was about to let her friend know that she was seeing things in her inebriated state, but she heard someone breathing over her shoulder. She started to turn around to see who had come to help them, but something smashed into the side of her head.
Everything went black and Dani lost her balance, tumbling to the ground as she slipped into unconsciousness.
“You’re making me breakfast?” Olivia asked when she found Nate in her kitchen.
He turned from the stove and greeted her with a smile. “Morning’, beautiful.”
“Be still my heart,” she said, pretending to swoon as she dropped into one of the seats at the kitchen island.
Besides his killer smile, Nate was wearing nothing but a pair of boxer shorts hanging dangerously low on his hips.
“Am I turning you on right now?” he joked, waving the spatula at her.
Yes, in fact, he was. “If you give me some coffee, I’ll make love to you right on this island.”
“Done.” With a flourish, he placed a mug of coffee in front of her and leered. “Impressed?”
“Always.” She took a long sip of coffee. “I didn’t think it was possible, but I love you even more than I did five minutes ago.”
Nate leaned over the counter and gave her a long kiss. He tasted like coffee and something sweet. “I was going to bring you breakfast in bed.”
“That would’ve gotten messy,” she said with a smirk, his lips tickling her neck. “I think we both can agree that we already do enough dirty things in bed.”
Nate looked like he was about to protest when his phone began to ring. He kissed her quickly and said, “Hold that thought.”
Olivia reluctantly went back to her coffee while Nate took the call and turned to the stove to flip the pancakes. She was impressed by his multitasking capabilities.
“Tucker.” His voice sounded extra deep this morning.
In a matter of seconds, Olivia knew that a horrible murder had been committed. Nate’s shoulders always fixed themselves in a certain way when he was discussing a homicide. She watched him turn off the stove and pause, lost in thought. His eyebrows knit together in an adorable way.
They had only technically been together for a couple of weeks, but with a decade of friendship before the romantic stuff, Nate was more familiar to her than anyone else in the world. Yet he still managed to surprise her, like when he glanced over and caught her staring. He just stared right back and gave her a crooked smile that made her heart race.
“Alright. I’ll be there soon. Twenty minutes.” Nate hung up.
“Murder and mayhem?” Olivia said, trying not to sound disappointed. It was Sunday and they had plans to spend the day together.
Nate put a plate of pancakes in front of her. “Just a regular Sunday morning in Chicago.”
“You’re going to work?” This time the disappointment was evident in her voice.
“I’m sorry.” He put his hands on her shoulders. “Don’t hate me.”
“I was thinking we should probably break up anyway,” she joked, her hands moving over his disgustingly ripped abdominal muscles. “We had a good run.”
He groaned as she tucked a thumb into the waistband of his boxers. “I could probably stay a little longer. It’s not like the dead body is going anywhere.”
“Vince will be pissed if he has to wait for you because of me.” Olivia tilted her head back and let Nate kiss her long and hard. “You should go, Tucker.”
“Yeah…” His mouth lingered on her lips. “Maybe Vince can handle this one on his own.”
Olivia decided to take a stand. She summoned all of her will power to push him away. “Go. I mean it. Go now and I’ll reward you later.”
“You’re the best girlfriend ever,” Nate said, reluctantly pulling away.
While Nate went to take a shower and get dressed, Olivia focused on eating breakfast and drinking coffee. If she thought at all about Nate being naked and wet just a few feet away, there was no way she would be able to stop herself from joining him.
After she cleaned up the kitchen, she turned on the television to catch the morning news.
“Nater! Looks like the cat is out of the bag on the murder,” she called to him, eyes riveted to the broadcast.
He strolled into the room, looking official in his tailored suit and with his gun holstered at his hip. His eyes narrowed as he studied the screen.
“Sources have confirmed that a female body was found in the alley between Lakeshore Drive and Pine Grove. At this time, they are not able to say whether the woman died under suspicious circumstances.” The broadcaster frowned solemnly at the camera.
“Somebody ran their mouth,” Nate said through a clenched jaw. “Let’s hope those are the only details that leaked.”
Olivia was still thinking about the poor girl that had died. She was still recovering from her own near-death experience, and this was striking a little too close to home.
“Hey, are you okay?” Nate looked at her in concern. “You look a little pale. Are you feeling okay?”
Her hand went reflexively to her side. She was still sore from where she had been shot. “I’m okay. You should go.”
Nate reached over and slipped his hand under her shirt. His fingers lightly grazed the raw scar that was still healing. His touch was better than any medicine a doctor could prescribe.
“Take it easy today,” he said, still worried. “I’ll be back before you know it.”
“I’ll be fine.” She faked a brave smile and reached up to straighten his tie. “I think I can manage a few hours away from you.”
“I’m sure you can.” He gave her a gentle hug. “Just…stay home, okay?”
She looked at him through narrowed eyes. “Stay home?”
Nate had been acting strange for the last few days. Ever since she had returned home from the hospital, he had been abnormally over-protective. He insisted on going everywhere with her, even driving her to work. While she appreciated that he worried about her, she felt like something else was causing his attentiveness. So far, she hadn’t been able to figure it out.
“Until we know more about this new murder, I don’t want you running around the neighborhood on your own.” He avoided eye contact as he stammered his explanation. “The body was found just a few blocks from here, Liv.”
“Not every psychopath in this city is secretly obsessed with me,” she said glibly. “I’m not that amazing.”
“Yes, you are.” He looked at her with love and hint of something she couldn’t decipher. “I’ll call you in a bit.”
She shoved him away. “It’s already been longer than twenty minutes. Vince is going to be pissed.”
“He’ll get over it.” Nate slowly moved toward the door. “Keep your phone close. If anyone knocks, don’t answer the door. I have my key.”
“Go!” she practically shouted.
“If you need anything, call me.” He opened the door. “Anything at all.”
Olivia held back a smile. “Get out of here, Tucker!”
“I love you.” He smiled sweetly as she came over to the door.
“I love you, too,” she said, meaning it with all her heart. Then she grabbed the door and said, “Leave!” as she slammed it in his face.
Olivia felt just a moment of satisfaction that was instantly replaced by emptiness. She didn’t like it when Nate wasn’t around. She’d grown used to him being there, annoying and pleasing her in equal measure.
“Barf. You two are so disgusting.” Rosie made a gagging noise.
“Did I ask for your opinion?” Olivia said to her dead sister. It was strange enough to have a conversation with Rosie’s ghost. It was even weirder to argue with her. “If you don’t like it, you can always go haunt someone else. How about our brother? I’m sure he’d love to hear your ghostly opinions on his life.”
“But Brian is so boooring. I get bored just listening to you talk about him and his perfect life.” She flopped dramatically onto the couch. “As a ghost, I need to live vicariously through other people. Right now, I’d like that person to be you since you are the one with the dead sexy boyfriend.”
Olivia picked up her coffee mug. “It’s really creepy that you watch us. Sicko.”
“I’m only watching him,” Rosie clarified. “Those abs… yum!”
“Can we talk about something else, please?” Olivia didn’t like to think about the things that Rosie was able to see due to her supernatural existence.
“Sure. We can talk about his pecks.” Rosie grinned wickedly and Olivia threw a pillow at her. It went right through her non-corporeal form. “Okay, okay. I’m done. Let’s talk about whatever you want to talk about.”
Olivia changed the subject to the one thing that was always on her mind. “Let’s talk about your murder.”
“Ugh. I should’ve known you would go there.” Rosie rolled her beautiful, dead eyes. “We’ve been over this a thousand times. I. Don’t. Remember. Anything.”
“Don’t get mad at me. I’m not the one that killed you.” Olivia was out of coffee and feeling anxious. “I need to go take a shower. Try not to be pervy and watch me.”
“I already enjoyed a shower scene this morning,” she said with a wink.
Olivia stormed from the room. “Stay away from my naked boyfriend, Rosie!”
“Solve my murder, Livvy!” Rosie called back.
Fifteen years later, they were still arguing like the teenager girls they had been when Rosie had breathed her last breath.