Callie’s character has grown a lot since she witnessed her best friend killed and her mother die in an explosion aboard a boat. She’s arrived in Ridgeville, Texas, to start her college career. She’s barely finished her second month of classes when she gets involved in a drug bust and is thrown out of her job in the Science Department. It’s all happening so fast, as if someone has a plan for her and it won’t be good news. A local lawyer, Isaac Hawking, takes her under his protection after she is suspended from the university, and she begins to unravel a strange tale of police harassment, murder, and drug thefts. Here is a short sample.
I sighed. Nothing in life ever seemed easy. I had lifted up the heavy steel top on our dumpster outside Isaac’s office and discovered that some wretched person had decided to add their garbage to our trash. I could see the box I wanted, only now it had been shoved deeper and was partially covered with left-over fried chicken and what I sincerely hoped was cast out chili with beans.
I went back inside and poke my hands through the ends of a couple of plastic garbage bags, rubber banded the bags as high as possible up my jacket sleeves, and slipped on the new rubber gloves that I had purchased to use when handling the acid toilet bowl cleaner. Prudently armored against contact with stuff, I returned to the task of retrieving the information.
“Interesting. Every good investigator is a dumpster diver at heart,” I heard Isaac’s voice behind me. I was acutely conscious that my butt was up in the air and my head was down in the smelly confines of a green steel box. I’d seen dogs, Boo for instance, digging into buried fish heads with only their wagging tails showing.
“Paper work,” I shouted back at him. “There were some old files on Sleepy Hollow in the batch I threw out yesterday.” I started to pull back to ask him if he remembered what they contained. Unfortunately, I found I was overbalanced and couldn’t push myself out. “Damn!”
“Trouble?” Isaac’s voice was infuriatingly patronizing. I heard him chuckle.
“A little help, please!” I returned.
“Now, let’s see, where shall I grab hold,” he teased. I felt his hand close under my belt and I was yanked backwards before I had a chance to respond. “Better?”
“It’s hanging upside down,” I explained, feeling how red my face probably was. The lawyer was looking a bit out of place in jeans, a plaid jacket, and black watch cap.
Isaac ignored my blush, bending over to look at what I was trying to do. His nose wrinkled at the smell, and he jerked back. “I hope it’s important.”
“It might be,” I explained. “I just got raked over the coals by Kerry Barnes at Lehman House. She asked me not to come back to Sleepy Hollow. She said something about causing her problems. I don’t think she meant to act so mean. She ran off rather upset.”
“And you think there is something among my partner’s old papers that is pertinent?” Isaac sounded skeptical and rubbed his chin. I noticed that he hadn’t shaved today.
“I ran across it yesterday; I didn’t know I’d need it.”
“Mm? At least let me keep you from sliding into the possum spew.” He held my belt while I reached past the chili and beans and fetched the large wad of mildewed paperwork that I wanted.
“I thought it was chili and beans,” I told him as soon as was back upright outside the dumpster.
The third book of Callie Houston’s adventures is due out in June, 2011. An excerpt from Callie’s second adventure in Emerald Green is located on Fat Squirrel Publishing.