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       Courage Begins: A Ray Courage Mystery Novella, p.9

           R. Scott Mackey
 
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questions than that. Afterwards, he might have suspected something, but we never talked about it.”

  “I could check the airlines to see if he booked a flight down here, before and after the awards ceremony.”

  “Don’t bother. I was way ahead of you on that. He drove down.”

  “You’re a sociopath. You’re proud of what you did. Look at the smug look on your face.”

  “Bitch had it coming.”

  I leaned my face to within inches of his. “I’m going to the cops with this. They’ll go after your ass. Even if they don’t, Tiffanie’s parents will have enough for a wrongful death lawsuit. The burden of proof there is much less than in a criminal trial. The publicity alone will destroy you.” I backed off and let that sink in. “But you’re lucky. Because I’m willing to keep my mouth shut about everything. About your twin brother and the switcheroo, all of it, for a measly fifty thousand dollars.”

  “You can’t be serious. You don’t have shit. I’m not paying you a dime. Those security cameras at the hotel have me in that hotel that night. And my friends will testify that I was with them up until that point.”

  “I have to admit, that was pretty clever. Jake saying he was too drunk to drive and had to stay at a hotel. Just so he could be caught on the security cameras to establish your alibi. Brilliant.”

  “Thank you. I thought so, too. He was sleeping in a nice two-hundred-fifty-dollar hotel room, while that bitch was dying with her lover boy.” He laughed to himself, no doubt picturing his wife’s lifeless body.

  “About that. How could you be sure he was inside the house that night?”

  “I didn’t know if he’d be there at all. I was just trying to kill her. But the fact he was there was a bonus. He had it coming.”

  “One thing I haven’t figured out is where you spent the night. Did you stay up in Tahoe?”

  He shook his head. “No, I drove up early that evening, went in and did my thing on the furnace when they were out to dinner, and was back in Sacramento by ten that night. I parked my car five blocks from my house and snuck back home. No one saw me.”

  “You knew the police would look for a hired hitter, didn’t you? That’s why you sent Tiffanie’s rings to her parents. So they couldn’t speculate that you’d sold them to pay your hit man.”

  “Just being thorough. I would like to have sold off those rings and had a nice vacation. That would’ve been sweet justice, but it was more important to cover all my bases.”

  “I still want my fifty grand, or I’m going to the police.”

  “You’re a pain in the ass. And you’re not getting squat.”

  “Are you sure about that?”

  “Yeah, dead sure. And a word of warning—I may have failed last night. But it won’t happen again. You’d better look over your shoulder from now on.”

  I started to smile, even affecting a chuckle.

  “What’s so funny?”

  I reached into the breast pocket of my shirt and pulled out my cell phone. “These things are amazing. You can take photos with them, send texts, e-mails, and do pretty much everything you can do on a computer. Ten years ago, none of this was possible. I remember when you had a home phone and a television with five channels. Now, you can carry a thousand times more than that in your pocket. Amazing. Hell, you can even transmit and record entire conversations.”

  “You recorded this?” He pursed his lips and brought a hand up to his mouth.

  I nodded.

  “Doesn’t matter.” His composure returned quickly.“ Nothing I said can be used against me.”

  “You didn’t hear me. I didn’t just record it. I was transmitting it to someone. Someone with a court order.”

  “You’re bluffing.”

  Beyond his closed door, we could hear loud voices and a woman yelling. A few seconds after the commotion started, Garrett’s door burst open, and the office filled with cops.

  I held Garrett’s gaze, his eyes filled with hatred, when the police cuffed him and read him his rights. He finally broke eye contact with me as a cop patted him down.

  “Have a nice day,” I said to him, and I walked out of the office.

  Twenty or more employees stood in hallways, cubicles, and at office doors in stunned silence, watching the events unfold. I saw Royle approaching.

  “Did you get everything?” I asked, holding up my phone.

  “Yep. Once Sac PD books him, they’ll transfer custody to us in a couple of days.”

  I walked out to the cold grayness towards my car. Inside, I dropped my head into my hands and rested my forehead against the top of the steering wheel. I stayed like that for more than an hour, letting the afternoon fade away until the outside cold seeped inside my car, chilling me to the bone. I started the engine and drove off. Tomorrow would be different for me. It wouldn’t be different and better, or different and worse. It would just be different.

  The past four days became a scrambled mess in my head, as if someone had put all my thoughts and emotions into a blender and turned it on high. I knew better than to try processing it all as I drove. It couldn’t be done. To get a sense of what had just happened, and its far-reaching effects on me and everyone else, might take weeks or months. Or I might never know what I felt about bringing a killer to justice while his victim still lay dead.

  The only thing I knew for sure was that there was no turning back.

  The End

  Want more Ray Courage? Get a Free copy of the full-length novel Courage Matters

  Acknowledgments

  My thanks go to Jennifer Oberth from Indie Books Gone Wild for her terrific job editing this book. She helped me refine the story, fixed some awkward constructions and outright errors, and generally improved the manuscript from start to finish.

  I would also like to thank cover designer Karen Phillips, who took the time to create a terrific design that reflects the character, story, and setting of my novel. Thank you for helping me create a better experience for my readers.

  Also by R. Scott Mackey

  In the Ray Courage Mystery Series:

  Courage Matters

  Rookie Private Investigator Ray Courage is asked by "Stockbroker to the Stars" Lionel Stroud to investigate an employee who's been acting suspiciously. Ray soon learns that not everything is as it appears at Stroud's firm. When his investigation uncovers a possible Ponzi Scheme orchestrated by Stroud himself, two people are murdered and Ray becomes Suspect Number One. Ray needs to find answers fast to avoid prison ... or death at the hands of the killer. Complicating his efforts are threats from a Mexican drug lord, hostility from a millionaire with a penchant for strippers, harassment from a cop bent on putting Ray away for life, and a rekindled love affair with Stroud's daughter

  Courage Resurrected

  Ray Courage’s wife Pam died thirteen years before in a car accident. Or did she? Ray receives e-mails from someone claiming to be his dead wife, accusing him of attempting to kill her and vowing revenge. As he deals with the possibility that his wife is still alive, he tries to find who’s behind the threatening messages. As he does, Ray must outrun the police and elude a murderous predator.

  Courage Stolen

  Ray is asked to help a team of scientists at Granderson University retrieve a stolen project that’s worth billions of dollars. Little does he know his work will put him in the crosshairs of a dangerous Asian gang and violent eco-terrorists. When a businessman with tenuous ties to the project is murdered, Ray must work fast to figure out who’s behind it all before another murder happens. Gripping and fast-paced with vivid and colorful characters readers have come to expect in the Ray Courage series.

  About the Author

  Scott Mackey lives in Northern California, where he writes both fiction and non-fiction. His first book, Barbary Baseball, achieved critical acclaim from baseball historians for its quality research and writing. He followed that with two young adult novels. His acclaimed Ray Courage Mystery includes Courage Begins (A Novella), Courage Matters, and Courage
Resurrected. Courage Stolen.

 
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