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New Release | Cause for Elimination by @TheScriptFixer #romanticmystery #romanticsuspense #bookboost
Title Cause for Elimination
Author Marla A. White
Publisher The Wild Rose Press
Reclaiming her life after a devastating riding accident, equestrian Emily Conners’ world shatters again when she discovers her friend and boss laying in a stall with a smashed skull. Now jobless and with a handsome cop underfoot investigating the case, she's torn between wanting the killer found and keeping her own secrets safe.
Detective Justin Butler always gets his killer, but this victim has a stampede of enemies and few leads to go on. Stonewalled by the tight-knit equestrian world, he looks to Emily for help, but she’s strangely reluctant. Is she hiding something, or is she afraid of their growing attraction?
As the search for the murderer heats up, their hearts become entangled and their lives at risk, forcing Emily and Justin to work together to find the killer before they strike again.
Justin Butler could have satisfied his need for a tall, strong drip coffee at any of the dozens of designer coffee shops he passed, but he was too irritated to enjoy a cup now. He normally stopped at the Brew House near the station where the tall, blonde barista with the slightly crooked eye-tooth worked. But no, he had to go to the Los Angeles Equestrian Center and talk to a drama queen who had demanded an investigation into what was an unfortunate accident. The disturbance to his morning ritual, which also screwed up his plan to ask the blonde out, left him cranky and sullen. Why him? As a member of L.A.’s elite Robbery-Homicide Division, he handled high-profile cases, not freakish mishaps. Why didn’t his boss, Lieutenant Placer, give the handholding/shoulder-to-cry-on gig to someone else? Someone who didn’t already have the murder of a city commissioner’s son on his desk?
He got why RHD caught this ‘death by horse’ case. Every movie producer, real estate mogul, and reality star who boarded their horses at the large equestrian facility had learned about the death minutes after the police, then woke up the mayor with frantic phone calls. Worried about the safety of their children/spouse/partner who rode at the Center, they demanded police action. Since RHD was the best, the mayor assigned the case to them personally. Justin suspected the lieutenant had passed the task on to him because Placer resented the way rich people got special treatment and considered Justin one of ‘those people.’ Sticking him with the case must have seemed like poetic justice.”
With a couple of half-assed centering breaths, he tried finding his calm, peaceful place his dojo master lectured him about as he turned onto the Equestrian Center’s tree-lined driveway. Instead of serenity, a growl of frustration rose as he realized he had no idea where in the seventy-five-acre park filled with dozens of barns and arenas he was supposed to go. Then he saw the black-and-whites parked in front of one of three huge wooden barns just off the driveway. Bingo. He pulled into a parking spot and stepped out of his car, only to squash a not quite dry pile of horseshit with his favorite pair of Italian loafers. Great, his morning was now complete.
Inside, one of the unis filled him in on the situation. “Sorry to call you in on this, sir, but the lady over there refused to let Animal Control take custody of the horse until she talked to a homicide detective.”
The cop shrugged, embarrassed by the whole thing. Justin dialed back his scowl. None of this was their fault. He peered down the dimly lit aisle of the barn and found the current bane of his existence, sitting on a large wooden box. What startled him was that she studied him right back. There was a shaken air about her. Could be the shock of finding a dead body, but her glassy expression struck him as odd.
“Ma’am? I’m Detective Butler. I understand you asked to speak to a homicide detective?”
He walked across the dirt floor of the barn to stand in front of her. The woman gazed up from under a mop of auburn curls, revealing the most amazing gray-green eyes he’d ever seen. All of a sudden, missing out on his barista didn’t seem like such a big deal. Her feet didn’t quite meet the ground from her seat atop the wooden chest, so she had to jump down to stand. All five feet four inches of her slender build reached his chin.
She offered her hand. “Emily Conners,” she stammered. “Sorry, this is my first…um, I’m not sure what the protocol is in this sort of circumstance.” Trying to ease the tension, he shook her hand. She was trembling. Why wasn’t she wearing a jacket?
“Ms. Conners, my condolences. This must have been quite a shock, finding your friend’s body.”
Emily pulled her hand out of his grasp with a weary sigh. She recognized the tall, arrogant type from the moment she saw him. He even draped himself in the same type of designer suit that her ex-husband favored. True, it looked a lot better on the detective than it ever did on Nick, but clearly the two of them were cut from the same literal and figurative cloth.
“You can save your smarmy charms for someone else. I’m not crazy. There’s no way that horse kicked Pamela to death.”
“No one is saying you’re crazy, Ms. Conners,” he explained in a tone which implied exactly the opposite. “I understand how difficult this must be for you, but as you must be aware, horses can be unpredictable. Isn’t it possible your friend—”
“Her name was Pamela Yates. I’m—was, I guess—her assistant.”
“Excuse me, ma’am, of course. Isn’t it possible Miss Yates startled the horse, and the animal kicked out as a natural response, injuring her and causing her death?”
Injured? Pamela’s brains were on the wall. On three of them, as a matter of fact. “Have you actually seen her body, detective?”
“I thought it would be best if we talked first.”
The man’s soothing voice made her want to scream. Instead, she fought to maintain a reasonable tone of her own. The last thing she needed was to antagonize him, erasing all hope of keeping Feneatha off the endangered species list.
“Why don’t we do this,” she said, keeping the you patronizing, pompous ass comment to herself. “Why don’t we take a look at the…at her…at the stall.” If it doesn’t put too much of a dent in your morning, detective, sir.
Emily clenched her fist so hard that her fingernails bit into her palm. “If after seeing her you decide it was an accident, I’ll move aside and let Animal Control do their job.”
“Fair enough,” the detective agreed and followed her down the barn aisle to an open stall.
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All Author https://allauthor.com/book/70256/cause-for-elimination/
Marla White is a story analysis instructor at UCLA and writing coach who lives in Los Angeles. She graduated from the University of Kentucky where she took her first horseback riding lesson. After dabbling in hunters, barrel racing, and weekly trail rides, she fell hopelessly in love with the sport of eventing. She conquered Novice level before taking a break to pursue novel writing but hopes to return to the saddle someday soon. Her first novel, “The Starlight Mint Surprise Murder,” was published in 2021 followed by the first two books in her Keeper Chronicles series. When she’s not writing, she’s out in the garden, hiking, or putting together impossibly difficult puzzles.
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