Police Chief Luke Johnson, widower and parent of twin boys, struggles to restore law and order when confronted by abductions and murder in
Four individuals independently arrive in
Three attractive women in Somerset vie for Luke Johnson's affection: Amelia Conroy, CEO of the small city's largest company, often invites him to escort her to company dinners and dances, hoping to spark his interest in her; Marci Stewart, twin sister to Luke's deceased wife, wonders if he will ever fall in love with her; Lauren Hubble relies on Luke's congenial nature, and her lack of familiarity with Somerset, to win him over. Luke is hesitant in each instance. He believes he has not yet recovered from his wife's death four years earlier.
Mark, one of Chief Johnson's twelve-year-old twin sons is kidnapped. Luke receives a ransom note: "Got your kid. You will never see him alive again. Vengeance is mine!"
Moses Feltner, an old man living on Sugar Creek, sees a man acting suspiciously in Pine Hills Forest Preserve and reports it to Chief Johnson.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.92(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Vengeance Is MineA Novel
By Larry Williams
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 Larry Williams
All right reserved.
Chapter OneWaco, Nebraska
Cold, dreary overcast skies; winter wind gusted, rattling window panes, forcing its way in through loose moldings.
"Shut up, bitch! You talk when I say and not until then."
Ethan slammed her head against the bathroom wall. Her eyes glazed over and then rolled back. She slid to the floor, head tilted forward. Blood trickled down her cheek and mixed with tears before forming indistinguishable patterns on pale green glazed tile.
"Stupid bitch! Why can't she ever learn? If I wanna' drink beer, I'll drink beer. If I wanna' screw another broad, I'll do it. Stupid cow lost her job. How am I gonna' buy gas and beer now? All she's gotta' do is cook, and clean the house, and be here when I need her. Not my fault P & L let me go. They fired me 'cause, ... just 'cause they can."
He staggered into the small drab kitchen and grabbed a bottle of Bud from a noisy, paint-chipped, yellow-colored Amana refrigerator.
"Gonna' watch a game and get some rest," he mumbled, grabbing a remote as he plopped down in a stained, frayed Lazy Boy lounge chair.
Lauren's consciousness faded in and out. Her vision clouded, and then cleared, then clouded again.
Who's voice am I hearing? Where did he go?" She touched a raw spot on the side of her head and winced in pain.
"What's this gooey stuff on my face?" She pulled her hand away and saw blood.
"I don't dare make any noise," she thought.
Lauren grabbed onto the bathroom sink and pulled herself up to look in the mirror, squinted, and recoiled at her image. Matted hair and bruises reflected back; blood still sticky, but no longer dripping.
"Why are my hands shaking so badly? What's that vile smell?" she asked herself before noticing that Ethan had not flushed the toilet. Putrid, dark-colored excrement and stained toilet paper filled half the bowl.
"I don't dare push the handle for fear Ethan would know I'm awake and come back into the bathroom.
"Where are those voices coming from? Is someone here with him? Did he bring another woman here, or a drinking buddy? Maybe it's just the TV, loud."
With trembling hands she quietly closed and dared to lock the bathroom door.
"I've got to get out of here. His beatings are getting worse. What made me think I ever loved him? At first he was fun to be around. But the drinking ... he can't control it. Since he lost his job, the drinking has worsened. He blames me for everything, even his weight gain. He scares me. I've had enough. The only good thing is at least we never got married."
After patting her face with a damp wash cloth to remove as much of the matted blood as possible, she quietly opened the bathroom door, tiptoed into the kitchen, and peered around the archway leading into the living room. The TV blared. Ethan sprawled on the Lazy Boy, snoring loudly, a bottle of beer tipped over, contents pooling on the floor, staining the carpet. The room reeked with stale cigarette smoke, rancid farts, and spilled beer.
Ethan emitted a loud belch; Lauren jumped backwards and grabbed onto a kitchen chair to keep from falling. She held her breath, hoping Ethan did not awaken.
Lauren slipped into the bedroom, found her purse and stuffed it with good jewelry. She grabbed a stash of money, a few hundred dollars, from under the mattress, and located the keys to her car. Lauren picked up a photo album from under the bed and slowly exhaled. Leaving everything else behind, she slipped through the kitchen to a screened-in back porch and exited into the back yard.
Lauren opened the driver side door of her aging Dodge Neon, dreading the loud squeak that always accompanied the act. Slipping behind the wheel, she pushed the clutch in and coasted down a small hill in the back alley leading to a street. As soon as the hill bottomed out, Lauren slammed the driver side door, started her engine, and sped away.
"I don't know exactly where I'm going, but it will be to another city miles away from Waco."
During the past few weeks, as her relationship with Ethan deteriorated, Lauren checked on shelters for battered women on web sites and sent for brochures from a few of them. She was lucky. Ethan never bothered to collect the mail. The only correspondences he received were duns for unpaid bills. She had hidden the brochures underneath utensils in the bottom of a kitchen drawer.
Lauren drove for thirty minutes before she reached Interstate 80. She pulled into a BP station to fill her car's tank with gasoline. Then she used a relatively clean restroom before purchasing a Snickers bar and a cup of steaming hot black coffee. She continued toward Omaha and St. Mark's Home for Abused Women.
Twenty minutes later she exited the interstate and headed into the capital city. Following a stop at a CVS store for directions, Lauren parked in front of a large Victorian house on Conner Street.
She sat in her car and looked around. A sign out front told her she had reached her destination. Large oak trees lined the sidewalk as far as she could see.
"This is an old, well-established neighborhood," thought Lauren. "All these homes seem to be private residences except for St. Mark's."
Lauren locked her car and rang the doorbell.
After what seemed a long time, she heard someone unlocking the front door. A tiny, weathered woman with snow white hair pulled tightly into a bun peered at Lauren through scratched lenses setting low on her nose.
"May I help you?" Her voice matched her stature.
"Hello, my name is Lauren Hubble. I called about a place here."
"May I see some identification?" the woman asked, keeping the door partially closed.
Lauren fumbled around in her purse and finally extracted a driver's license from a billfold slot. She handed it to the woman.
The old woman held the driver's license up to her face, almost touching it with her nose. She peered at it for a long time and then handed it back to Lauren.
"Do you have a suitcase, dear?"
"No. I left in a hurry."
"Is that your car at the curb?"
"Please drive down this alley and park behind the house. I'll meet you at the back door. My name is Mildred."
Mildred closed the front door. Locks snapped back into place, and then Lauren heard the old woman shuffling away.
Lauren parked behind the house and stood on the back stoop until Mildred unlocked the door.
"Come in dear. I'll show you your room. Then we can have some tea."
The diminutive woman led Lauren to a room at the top of a dark, narrow, winding stairway. The room was wide enough for a twin bed, a bureau for clothes, and two feet for a pathway. A wrapped bar of soap and clean wash cloth lay on an antique oak stand beside the bed. On the other side of the bed was a ball and claw nightstand holding a Tiffany lamp. A picture of the Last Supper hung above the bed, and another of a lone wolf howling at the moon hung on the wall by the door. No chair.
"This will be your room, dear. I'll go fix us some tea. Come down when you are ready."
Lauren sat on the bed and looked around at the drab, dreary surroundings. Tears ran down her cheeks. She picked up a quilt from the foot of the bed and wrapped herself in it, hoping to quell her trembling.
Chapter TwoMay, 2009
Even though it was only four o'clock in the afternoon, daylight faded and drivers turned on their headlights. Lightning bolts flared to the ground before booming sounds of thunder ended and others erupted. Rain fell heavily and windshield wipers could not keep up.
A late middle-aged couple, missionaries in Ecuador home for their son's graduation from seminary school, drove cautiously along side streets in Washington Park on Chicago's South Side.
"Are you certain you have your lights on, dear? It's so dark. I can barely see at all."
"Yes, Margaret, how many times do I have to tell you? I have them on."
Raymond drove slowly. Surface water streamed as high as the curbs and pooled around iron grates leading to the city's sewer system.
"I think we missed a turn," she said. "We aren't on a main highway now. I don't feel comfortable with what I see. This neighborhood doesn't look too good. Where are we? How do we get out of here and back on the expressway?"
"I don't know, Margaret. The traffic was so heavy, and with this downpour, I had trouble seeing all the road signs. Apparently I missed a turn. But at least, the traffic flow isn't so bad now."
The street was almost deserted. The storm had driven people into unpainted homes. Pieces of cardboard covering broken windows quivered in the howling wind. Lights reflected inside only a few houses. The whole atmosphere was eerie.
"Raymond, you know Ryan told us to stay on the expressway, especially on the south side. I don't think it's safe to be where we are right now."
"Margaret, right now I have trouble respecting anything Ryan might say. We should stop and ask for directions."
"But, dear, we were cautioned not to stop in seedy looking neighborhoods."
"We're almost out of gasoline. I'll have to stop soon, or we will be stranded here. I might as well ask for directions while getting gas. This rental car certainly uses a lot of fuel."
"We're just unaccustomed to driving in the U.S. We've been gone too long. We certainly don't need to worry about that in Ecuador."
"I suppose not."
"There's a Shell station on the right. Shell stations are safe, aren't they? Do you think it will be alright to pull in there and fill up? Then you can ask someone how to get back to the expressway. And Raymond, please lock the car while you are doing those things."
"Yes, dear, I will."
He flicked on his turn signal, pulled up to the gas pump, and turned off the car's engine.
"There's only one pump," said Raymond.
"Pull your collar up, dear. I don't want you catching cold."
A second car drove onto the station lot. The driver pulled up behind them, but did not shut off his car's engine.
Remember to lock the door."
He stepped out of the car, shut his door, and locked it. He reached into his back pocket for his billfold, removed a Visa card, and pushed it into the slot on the pump.
Two men jumped out of the other car. One of them ran up to Raymond, placed a handgun against the back of his skull and fired two shots. Raymond slumped to the cement pad, blood pouring out of his wound, mixing with rain water, immediately fading from bright red to pale red and then disappearing altogether.
Margaret screamed and tried to open her car door. A second man appeared outside her door and fired three shots. The right side of Margaret's head disappeared into a muddle of blood and brain tissue. She slumped forward and bled onto the floor mat and car seat.
The gunman retrieved Raymond's credit card from the gas pump. Both murderers jumped into their car and drove away.
Chapter ThreeSomerset, Indiana
A Month Later
On a sunny day just a little past noon, Luke Johnson, Chief of Police, pulled up behind a green Dodge Neon with its emergency lights flashing in an alley off of Pike Street. He noted a car with faded paint that needed some body work, but appeared reasonably clean. Luke called in the Nebraska license plate number to Danielle Smith, his dispatch officer.
Then he stepped out of his brown Crown Vic cruiser and walked up to the small Dodge. A woman rolled the driver side window down about six inches.
"I'm Chief of Police Luke Johnson, Ma'am. Are you having a problem?"
"Yes, my car died and won't start."
The woman looked around to see if any other people were in the vicinity. Seeing no one else, she hesitated for a moment, and then cautiously opened the car door. She stood and turned toward Luke.
"I don't know what's wrong with my car. It just died right here and won't do anything."
Luke stepped closer to the woman and saw she was exceptionally pretty with shoulder-length dark brown hair. Around five-feet seven inches tall and slender, she was dressed in an attractive off-white skirt and a light green silk blouse.
"Would you like me to see if I can help?"
The woman was reluctant to ask for assistance from a stranger, but at the moment saw no other option.
"Oh, that would be most welcome, sir."
"Please call me Luke, ma'am. What's your name?"
"I'm Lauren Hubble."
"Do you live here in Somerset?"
"No, sir. I came here for a job interview. I just pulled into this alley, looking for a shortcut to Allen Real Estate, and my car died. I've been trying to start it for over fifteen minutes. It won't start, won't even act like it wants to start."
"Let's take a look under the hood. You don't mind, do you?"
"No, sir. Not if you think that would help."
Luke heard a squeak as he opened the driver's side front door. He popped a latch, walked to the front of the Dodge, and lifted the hood. Everything looked O.K. No loose or broken belts. No steam due to overheating. No obvious oil leaks. He fiddled with a few wires and closed the hood. Luke slipped inside the car and turned the key. Nothing. Dead as a doornail.
Even though he knew the battery was still good since the emergency lights were flashing, Luke turned on the radio. Soft rock music played. "Good taste in music," Luke said to himself.
"What do you think is the problem?"
"I'm just a poor servant of the people, Ms. Hubble, not a mechanic. I think you need to get this auto to a good mechanic and let him see what's wrong. Do you know anyone in Somerset?"
"No, not really. I came here in answer to a job placement notice I found on the internet. Christine Allen at Allen Realty is someone I spoke with over the telephone about the position, but I don't know her."
"Will you be working at Allen Realty?"
"I don't know for certain. She seemed interested in my sales background and knowledge of real estate law, and invited me to come for an on-site interview. I've been out of work for a while, and money is growing short. Not short really. How about totally gone? Unemployment in Waco, Nebraska, is widespread; nothing for single women unless they're doctors or dentists. I drove here hoping to find work. Now my car has died."
"If you don't mind, why don't I call a wrecker service to pull your car to their repair shop, and have them take a look at it?"
"I don't know what else to do, but I really don't have any money to cover wrecker service and mechanic work."
"Well, let's not worry about that just yet. We have a very reputable mechanic in Somerset. His name is Johnny Weaver. I'll call him to tow your car, do an inspection, then let you know what's wrong, and how much it will cost to fix it."
"That would be very kind, but money will still be an issue."
"Somerset is a friendly community and we don't make a practice of abandoning people in distress, leaving them to fend for themselves. If you end up working at Allen Realty or some other place in Somerset, you can pay the bill in installments. I can make certain that will be arranged."
"But what if I don't get a job here?"
"We'll worry about that later. Let's worry about one thing at a time. O.K.?"
"That's very kind, but I don't know how I will ever repay you."
"You don't owe me anything. Part of my job is helping people. What time is your job interview?"
Actually," said Lauren as she looked at her watch, "I am about fifteen minutes late right now."
"O.K.," said Luke, "I'll drive you to Allen Realty and then call Johnny Weaver to tow your car. I'll make arrangements about the service charges."
"Maybe I can walk if it's not too far. If you give me directions, I'm certain....."
"Nonsense. It is not a problem. Christine Allen is a friend of mine. Here, take my cell phone and call her. Tell her my name, Luke Johnson, and ask if it's O.K. to let me drive you to her office."
"No, no, that's not necessary. I'll let you drive me there. That is way beyond being kind and helpful," said Lauren.
"My mother taught me to treat all people as I wanted to be treated. Now, leave your keys in the ignition, grab your purse, and anything else you want or need from your car, then jump in my cruiser."
Excerpted from Vengeance Is Mine by Larry Williams Copyright © 2011 by Larry Williams. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.