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Jearl's books

A Dance with Dragons
The Death Factory
Gravity
The Footprints of God: A Novel
Winter of the World
The Hunger Games
Catching Fire
Mockingjay
A Game of Thrones
A Storm of Swords
Cross My Heart
Girl Missing
Bloodstream
Spandau Phoenix
A Feast for Crows
Odd Apocalypse
A Clash of Kings
Fall of Giants
The Art of Racing in the Rain


Jearl Rugh's favorite books

Scorpion Run

The only way she can find the balance between family and career is to stop the murderer determined to destroy both.



Early Reviews of Scorpion Run:


Although this is not always my genre of choice, I had a difficult time putting the book down. Definitely a page turner...

 

The climax ... had all the tension and fast pacing of an action movie and I had to stop from skipping ahead to see the conclusion... Definitely well done.


An excellent book and one that I'm sure fans of the genre will truly enjoy!


 

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See Chapter 1 below
Preview Chapter 1 here:

     “HEAR THE WAIL from the cage

     Lifting its clamor in a rage—”

     “All units, all units.”

     The dispatcher’s voice grating through the radio speaker in her cruiser drew Officer Kel Nyte’s eyes away from the text message on her phone. The disturbance less than a mile from her location on Seattle’s Elliott Bay waterfront, she triggered the microphone.

     “Unit three-zero-four responding.”

     The full text was still unread but, with a more pressing priority, she stowed the phone back in its belt holster. As she flipped the emergency strobe lights and siren into action, her eyes drew a quick glance right and left. Then, despite the red traffic signal’s caution, Kel pressed the accelerator to the floor.

     A half block later, she changed lanes with a quick jerk of the wheel to veer around a slow-moving container truck followed by an Audi SUV stretch. Kel turned her eyes to the time. Her mobile data terminal displayed 11:54, just minutes before her shift would have ended at midnight.

     She tapped the Bluetooth device in her ear. While she waited for an answer, she slipped a lukewarm vanilla hazelnut latte from the cup holder and took a long pull.

     In her ear, a halting voice answered and yawned with a sleepy groan. “’ello?”

     “It’s Mom, sweetie.” Kel returned her drink to the console. “Sorry I woke you.”

     “Hey ... Mom. It’s okay.” With the grunts Chrissie mumbled, Kel pictured her daughter stretching the sleep from her body. “Saul and I fell asleep on the couch ... Uh ... is that your siren?”

     “That’s why I called.” Kel had raised her fourteen-year-old daughter off and on over the last eight years as a single parent. She hated to leave Chrissie alone for too many hours but duty wasn’t always convenient and, when it called, it demanded respect. “I just got called out and it may be a long one. I probably won’t see you ‘til morning.”

     “Oh ... uh ... ‘kay.”

     “I can get Aunt Shelia to pick you up.”

     “Mom,” Chrissie said with a sing-song whine, “I sat for the Freeman kid over a weekend before. Just me and a six-year-old for two days. I think me and Saul can handle one night. We’ll be fine. Huh, Saul? Sure we will. That’s a good boy.”

     Saul, Chrissie’s Rottweiler, had been a good companion for her. Even more than the Neighborhood Watch Kel had helped start, she trusted Saul to protect her daughter while she served the city. “You two best get to bed, then. We’ll have breakfast, okay?”

     As Kel reached the intersection at South Washington and made a hard right, she said, “Love you.”

     “Love you more.”

     “Love you mo—”

     Chrissie’s click ending the call cut Kel off. “—most,” she said out loud. Chrissie, it seemed, overnight had started to mature into a young woman. Sadness, like a threatening thunderhead, darkened Kel’s mind as thoughts that another ritual, like evenings with Candy Land, or dressing and redressing one of Chrissie’s many dolls, might disappear forever.

     As she approached First Avenue South, she swallowed hard to loosen the tears wedged in her throat. There, two homeless men, caught in her headlight beams, stumbled in the crosswalk. She slammed the brakes and tugged the steering wheel to the left. The rear tires on the cruiser broke into a skid and the squeal of rubber biting asphalt sobered the men enough to shoot her a panic-filled glare. They lurched, arm in arm, to the relative safety of the sidewalk beyond. Kel grinned as the distraction cleared her mind for the task ahead.

     Seconds later, she parked the light metallic-blue sedan diagonally between the maple-lined canopy in the median and the cars along the curb, blocking any northbound traffic. She slipped her SPD ball cap over her head, pulled her shoulder-length brunette ponytail through the back strap and then jumped out into the warm July air. With her baton in its belt harness, she stepped onto the sidewalk near a bike racked at the curb. She carried not an extra ounce of fat on her petite frame, but, with the wail of sirens on approach, she hammered her size-seven boots on the concrete as she made her way to the street-level bar.

     The Pioneer Square watering hole stood at the foot of a four-story terracotta structure built at the end of the nineteenth century as a supply depot for prospectors on their way to the Alaska Gold Rush. A fixture in the community for more than twenty years, The Wishing Well had thrived on the success of the professional ball teams whose stadiums marked the skyline just a few blocks south.

     Kel pushed the door open and took a single step inside. One glance proved the raucous crowd required an officer-needs-assistance call but she didn’t trigger her radio’s shoulder mic. As the door closed behind her, a sudden break in the pounding beat spilling from the speakers by the stage introduced the whistle of air kissing a bottle’s mouth. She took an instinctive duck to the right. The missile whispered inches past her ear and shattered against the door behind her showering the back of her uniform shirt with icy beer. She couldn’t control the surprised gasp that poured the stench of flat beer—both leaching from the old paneled walls and spilled on the hardwood floor—through her nostrils. The suggestion of something else caught her by surprise. It was burned and stale but, even the whiff of coffee brought a craving for that latte she had abandoned in her cruiser.

     She shook it off, focused her eyes in the direction the bottle had come and dared the pitcher to meet her glare. When no one turned her way, she pulled her nightstick and scanned the room. Except for the missing piano player hammering a lively tune on a tinny upright, the overturned tables and fists launching into faces reminded her of the classic Western saloon fights she and her dad used to watch on TV. At least no one’s toting a six-shooter—my God, I hope not, she thought.

     “SPD,” she shouted over Pino Palladino’s lyric base line driving Melissa Etheridge’s "I'm the Only One.”  “Everyone hit the floor!”

     No one noticed.

     Kel pivoted to a man with a Grizzly Adams’ beard standing behind the dark oak bar. He stared back at Kel, shook his head, and threw his hands into the air. Frustration and rage converged on his face.

     “Shut that music down!” Kel shouted to him with over-articulated lips in case he, too, couldn’t hear her.

     When the music went silent, many of the patrons turned her way.

     “Leave your drinks on the table, and wait outside,” she shouted, addressing the spectators and cheerleaders on the periphery.

     Most seemed to honor the uniform and stood. Their heads shaking, they started a slow trudge toward the door. But two men at a ringside table held their seats. One glared back at Kel and, without balk, lifted his glass and took a defiant swallow.

     The color and the way his auburn hair rested limply on his shoulders wrenched a familiar yet disturbed memory to the surface. “Lance,” it whispered. The ethereal presence always showed up without warning and, most often, at an inconvenient time. She needed to close her eyes to banish the manifestation, but, with the wreckage still falling around her, she couldn’t take the luxury.

     She shifted her five-foot-five, muscular frame toward him and fixed her eyes on the insolent man. With a sharp snap, she slapped the nightstick on the palm of her hand.

     “Up. Out. Now,” she bawled and held his gaze.

     After a deliberate pause, he slammed the glass on the table top, Beer splashed over the lip. As he came to his feet, his chair toppled over behind him. “Free drinks,” he bellowed and skirted behind the table to join his buddy already near the exit.

     With the bystanders cleared, Kel glanced toward the fray. On the far right to the rear of the scuffle, one man gripped another’s shirt. The razor-wire tattoo wrapped around his right forearm snapped back and forth like a Slinky while he punched the face of someone she recognized.

     The white greasepaint smeared across his visage and the bicycle she had noticed as she entered The Wishing Well indicated that Marcel was on the receiving end. She didn’t know his true identity, and, for all she knew, no one did, but over the last couple of years, he had imprinted his eccentricity in the downtown culture with his bike and red-tipped cane for the blind. With the mime face, and since he never spoke, he had been dubbed “Marcel Marceau.”

     With the brawl between them, Kel couldn’t get to him—yet.

     “Everyone hit the floor, now!” Kel shouted and slapped the nearest table with her nightstick.

     Two women in their twenties pulled hair and ripped at each other’s clothes five feet away. The other brawlers turned toward Kel’s voice and began to take the position, but the two women didn’t go down. Their disregard irritated Kel like itching powder sprinkled on a weeping rash. She stepped forward and grabbed the shoulder of the closest one, ready to slap the knees out from under her with her stick, but the woman spun toward Kel. Her right breast fell out from her torn shirt. Braless raised her fists.

“Really?” Kel couldn’t resist a smirk. “Best think about your next move before you take on the SPD.”

Braless paused and shot Kel a hateful scowl. After several seconds, she dropped her hands and then went to her knees. The second woman followed. Kel’s eyes drew downward as the pair lay to their bellies and passed hateful glares between them. She glanced at the other bodies on the wooden floor. A dozen panting and wheezing drunks were sprawled at her feet.

     But Razor-Wire still stood statuesquely. He had dropped Marcel’s boney frame to the floor like a duffel bag of baseball bats. With the sweat glistening off his face and arms, he looked ready for the next contender. He connected a menacing glower, eye to eye, with Kel.

     She stepped around the two women toward him and shouted, “What part of ‘hit the floor’ didn’t you get?”

     Razor-Wire bolted toward the door. The pathway cluttered with prone bodies and toppled chairs, he jumped and staggered around them, but Kel stood in his way. She hardly had to stretch to plunge her nightstick into his belly. The sudden impact lifted him off the floor and he fell on top of Braless.

     “Get the hell off me, you son of a bitch,” she screamed and sprung to her hands and knees. She bucked him to the floor. Razor-Wire landed face-up at Kel’s feet.

     Kel looked at the man. He seemed small now and anything but threatening. His eyes darted back and forth as if they were trying to find something solid on which to focus.

     She placed the business end of her stick on his chest and barked, “On your face. Now!”

     He turned his head as a gag reflex washed over him.

     “No, you don’t—” Kel shouted, but before she could step back, he retched again and spewed his guts on her right boot.

     “Ooow, you piece of sh—” She stopped short as she realized he no longer listened. His eyes had turned to glass and rolled back in their sockets.

     With a shake of her head, Kel jammed the toe of her boot under Razor-Wire, wiped most of the putrid bile on his shirt, and forced him to his stomach. She drove her knee into his back and wrested his arms free. From her belt, she pulled out her handcuffs and secured his hands behind his back.

     “Hands behind your heads,” she shouted to the others on the floor.

     She glanced over the crowd to make sure they complied and then looked back to the bar. Behind Grizzly, two female servers peered out onto the scene through the twin portholes in the swinging doors which lead to the kitchen. They stepped from their hiding place and joined the barkeep.

     “What set this off?” Kel asked.

     “The guy you’re kneeling on,” said the dirty blonde with a nod, “asked Marcel what he thought about the Mariners losing four of their last six home games. When Marcel shrugged, that guy grabbed him and started throwing punches. Then the whole place just went to Hell.”

     As she finished, the barmaid’s eyes darted toward the door. Behind Kel, the scrape of the shards from the shattered bottle against the plank floor drew her glance over her shoulder. Two officers entered.

     “Looks like everything’s under control here,” Scott Nillson said and gave Kel a wink.

     “Hey, Scot-tay,” Kel said with a warm lilt to her voice. A dimple on each cheek gave her smile life.

     Scott had been her mentor when she was a rookie cop. They had ridden together as partners for her first two years on the force while she learned her way around the streets. She hadn’t seen much of him the last few years as, while she had continued to be assigned to West Precinct, he’d been sent to South. Those years had added a few pounds around his middle, and the gray strands of hair poking out from under his cap replaced the black hair she remembered.

     Kel flicked her eyes to the young female cop to Scott’s right. “Say, who’s your new partner?”

     “Valarie,” the woman said. “I’m just a rookie. Don’t mind me.”

     “That’s where we start, Valarie,” Kel said, “and look where it takes you. Give it a while and you’ll be kneeling in some drunk’s puke. Well,” Kel continued, looking back at the scene, “you guys might want to start hooking people up.” She stood and nodded toward Braless and her sparring partner, who now hugged the floor. “Start with them.”

     With two officers ready to clear the rioters, Kel walked over to the motionless heap known as Marcel. She kneeled again and reached to his neck.