Sunday Sampler: Doubletake by Maryann Miller and Margaret Sutton

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In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Caleb and Linda Pirtle has launched a new series featuring writing samples from some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Sunday’s Sampler is an excerpt from Doubletake by Maryann Miller and Margaret Sutton. If you’re looking for an award winning police procedural mystery, this is the novel you don’t want to miss. As one reviewer said: Never saw the ending coming – that always makes for a good book.

Doubletake was a semi-finalist in the East Texas Writers Guild First Chapter Book Awards.

The Story

In this police procedural mystery, death sneaks in the back door of the peaceful town of Twin Lakes, Texas and nothing is ever the same again.

Homicide detective, Barbara Hobkins, is thrust headlong into the investigation. A product of the “new direction” in law enforcement, her strength comes from a degree is psychology and an intuition that has served her well. But will that be enough when up against a sadistic killer?

Her partner, Keith Reeves, wants nothing more than to solve this case so he can have one normal night at home with his family. He fights the pressure to nail somebody, any somebody, to satisfy the powers above.

The suspect, Royce Wertco, is a teenage punk; capable of the numerous petty crimes he’s been convicted of in the past, but not murder. Barbara knows this with every fiber of her being, but can she prove it?

Convinced the real killer is also responsible for a series of murders in Dallas, Hobkins tracks him to his seedy hidey-hole. There, her investigation turns into a chilling race for her life, and she almost becomes a victim of “Doubletake.”

First Chapter

Monday, October 4

Maryann Miller
Maryann Miller

          Susan Delgrave woke and rolled over to look at the clock on Tom’s nightstand. Five forty-five. What on earth was she doing awake at such an ungodly hour? Some strange sense of unease had brushed across her like a chill wind, bringing her fully awake, but she couldn’t pin down the source. She lay listening for something, anything, but the house was quiet.

Almost too quiet.

Only Tom’s soft steady breathing convinced her she was being silly. Everything was all right.

Still, there had been something.

Another chill made her shiver and snuggle deeper under the blanket, seeking the warmth of her husband’s body. As she brushed against his back, he stirred and rolled toward her. She softly traced a pattern across the smooth surface of his chest and felt her own body respond, marveling at the almost mystical bond they shared.

The magic started from the first moment she’d met him in an English Literature class at Baylor and hadn’t diminished since. A man of tender sensibilities, Tom was the final ingredient for Susan’s total happiness. Recalling what measures she’d used in order to convince him of that, brought a smile to her face.

Leaning closer, she whispered, “Tom! Are you awake?”

“Who wants to know?” He opened dark brown eyes and grinned at her.

“The upstairs maid.”

She moved her hands further down his chest. He drew in a sharp breath. “If you don’t stop that in exactly three hours, I’ll tell your mother.”

Susan laughed. “She warned me that you might not respect me after. Guess I’ll just have to risk it.”

Tom slipped the straps of her gown over her shoulders, revealing breasts already eager for what was to come. He touched one peaked nipple and leaned over to kiss her. First her eyes. Then her cheeks. Finally her lips, creating a surge of passion that drew her so close she thought she could enter his very soul.

Then his lips were everywhere, searing into her chin, her neck, and her shoulders. Passion thundered through her body until it reached a fever pitch.

Oh! It was so good just to touch, to feel his hardness pushing urgently against the tiny mound of her belly.

His hands trailed fire across her whole body, caressing, teasing, urging, until…

***

“My, God, it’s almost seven.” Susan struggled free from the tangle of blankets and Tom. “Remember, I have to use your car again. Wish you’d call the garage. All I get is, ‘sorry, Ms. Delgrave. We’re still waiting on parts.’”

“For a small fee I might consider it.” Tom stretched his large frame across the bed.

“Okay, Smarty. While you’re considering, consider this. Shower alone with no hot water.” She pulled free and ran to the bathroom, closing the door in his face.

Tom smiled, grabbed his robe and went to make coffee.

They pulled in front of Twin Lakes High School at seven fifty-five and Tom gave Susan a long, lingering kiss. She pushed him away. “What would Mrs. Temple think if she saw us now?”

“She’d probably say, ‘My, my, my, that Susan Delgrave is one lucky lady.’”

“You’re a mess,” Susan said as Tom stepped out and slammed the passenger door.

He walked around the car and leaned through her open window where he had a clear view of her open coat and the lush roundness of the top of her breasts. He reached in and pulled her coat together, caressing her at the same time. “Watch it, kid,” he said in an affected Bogart voice. “You’ll incite some poor bum to take advantage of you.” He kissed his fingers then touched her cheek.

She smiled. “Better hurry or you’ll be late.”

Walking up the pitted sidewalk to the front of the school, Tom decided he had to be the luckiest man alive. He greeted the gray-haired Mrs. Temple with a bright smile. She tightened her lips and narrowed her eyes. He continued toward his classroom, making a mental switch from lusty thoughts to the assignment he’d give the English Composition students.

***

         The feeling of unease returned as Susan pulled the Buick into the garage. A faint, niggling little fear prickled the hair on the back of her neck, making her feel slightly foolish.

What kind of mother will I be if I’m afraid of bogeymen and sounds that go bump in the night?

She smiled at the prospect of motherhood. There was no doubt in her mind that life was growing inside her. All she was waiting for was the final confirmation this afternoon. Tom had no idea. He didn’t even know she was taking the day off to see Dr. Wallace. It would all be revealed in a surprise she’d planned for tonight.

After a dinner that would make Martha Stewart proud, Susan would give Tom the news. She knew he’d be delighted, even though it was a bit sooner than their timetable. But no way would he not want this baby as much as she did.

She reached for the sliding glass door, and her hand faltered when she noticed the door was open a scant inch. Were we in that much of a hurry? Should I be afraid of what might be waiting for me?

That thought brought an urge for laughter. No more Stephen King novels for you until after the baby’s born.

She gave the door a tug and it rolled smoothly on the runner. Then she pushed the heavy drape aside and stepped into the den. It took a moment for her eyes to adjust to the dimness, and in that time of near-blindness she felt a breath of that indistinguishable fear again.

Something’s wrong.

She stopped by the side of Tom’s recliner.

Yes. There it is again. A faint whisper of sound. Whisper or rustle?

She whirled as something dark and heavy descended on her. It happened so quickly, she only caught a glimpse of a figure before she was engulfed in darkness. Some coolly impassive part of her mind registered a familiar flash before an oppressive weight, along with her own terror, pulled her to the floor.

“Oh my Go-” She tried to scream but the dusty odor of the blanket consumed her breath. She felt her stomach lurch. The sour taste of vomit filled her mouth and nose. A cold knife of fear twisted inside while her mind frantically searched for some reason.

Why is this happening? Is he going to kill me?

No! I don’t want to die.

She heaved her body violently, struggling for breath and struggling to dislodge the terrible weight.

Hope died when a terrible pain exploded in her head. Another blow smashed her face, filling her mouth with the acrid taste of the blanket mixed with her blood.

The certainty of her fate hit her as hard as the physical blow, and she tried to scream again.

But all sound was lost as a final darkness, a final shroud washed over her.

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  • Maryann Miller

    Thanks so much for the feature for Doubletake. Every time I read this chapter I cry for Susan.

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