by J.C. Martin
Genre: Thriller / Suspense
With London gearing up to host the Olympics, the city doesn’t need a serial killer stalking the streets, but they’ve got one anyway.
Leaving a trail of brutal and bizarre murders, the police force is no closer to finding the latest psychopath than Detective Inspector Kurt Lancer is in finding a solution for his daughter’s disability.
Thrust into the pressure cooker of a high profile case, the struggling single parent is wound tight as he tries to balance care of his own family with the safety of a growing population of potential victims.
One of whom could be his own daughter.
Fingers point in every direction as the public relations nightmare grows, and Lancer’s only answer comes in the form of a single oak leaf left at each crime scene.
While I would have loved some romance for this suffering soul, Oracle was satisfying all the same. I ALWAYS try to figure out who-dun-it and I'm proud to say I knew within that meeting-in-passing who Zeus' chosen one was. Yeah me!
Tense pacing kept me clicking pages on my kindle. That and the *clears throat* alluring MC. He agreed to sit down with me. Wanna meet him?
I walked into one of London’s Starbucks and the rich scent of coffee and chocolate muffins slammed my senses. I’d woken late for my interview with Kurt Lancer and barely had time to throw my hair in a ponytail, let alone have that much needed first cup of high test.
A quickie scan of the bustling shop and I saw him. Him. Even seated I could tell he’d be imposingly tall – head and shoulders above the crowd. He smiled and white teeth gleamed amidst skin warm and smooth as chocolate.
Super self-conscious I slunk to the tiny round table he occupied and slid into the empty seat. On closer glance he was even more alluring than a simple yum. He looked like David Haye. Yeah. That one. A few strands of gray twisted in the tight, black braids hugging his scalp. My throat went all dry-like, typical when I’m faced with speaking to hottttt men.
I tried swallowing. “Hi. I’m … uh ….” Moron.
“Yes.” I laughed like an idiot, praying my face didn’t flame. “Um … thanks for agreeing to meet with me. I know you’re super busy.”
The voice. Le sigh. Get a grip. I pulled out my trusty notebook and bic from my bag. “Sorry I’m late. I’ll get right to the questions.”
A smirk and single nod was all I got before he raised a steaming cup to his full lips.
I cleared my throat. “So Mr. Lancer. Even though you describe yourself as a big, intimidating man, a soft nature comes across clear in your words and thoughts. Considering your job and upbringing—not to mention the loss of your wife—how are you able to remain sensitive and compassionate? I’d think you’d be a very bitter person.”
That smile appeared again, but this time tinged with sadness. “Wow, you go straight for the jugular, don’t you?” He sipped his drink. “Soft? Sensitive? Me? Shh … just don’t let the guys on the Team hear you say that, OK? Besides, I’m only ever a big teddy bear when it comes to my daughter Meghan. She brings out the best in me. On a more personal note, I guess having to care for a younger brother when I was growing up instilled me with some sort of protector mentality. It riles me when cowards take advantage of the weak and defenceless.”
“I couldn’t agree more. Speaking of growing up,” I leaned forward, elbows on the table, “being of mixed race, did you struggle knowing where you belonged as a child?”
“Not so much in terms of ethnicity. Where I grew up, plenty of people were mixed race. It’s East London, innit?” He mimicked a Cockney accent. “A melting pot of cultures from all around the world. That said, I did struggle a bit with knowing where I belonged in terms of family. As an immigrant, Mom had no relations in the country, and I never even knew my so-called father. Being shuffled about from foster home to foster home, I eventually learned that my only family is my brother Reggie, and now Meghan. Sure, it’s small as family goes, but it’s all I got.”
“You’re blessed. Some people have no one.”
Kurt raised his coffee in agreement.
“Your line of work is dangerous – I’m sure you’ve thought about your own mortality on more than one occasion. Not having a gun strapped to your side must be tough when running through a corridor looking for a serial killer. Other than wishing for one, what goes through your mind?”
“The majority of police officers in the UK do not carry firearms. In most cases, this doesn’t bother me one bit. But on that one occasion, I did wish for a weapon more comforting than a mop handle. With all the adrenaline and excitement, the only things going through my mind were: one, catching the b******, and two, a nagging worry about what would happen to Meghan if something happened to me.”
“I have two young daughters myself, so I completely understand. What was the worst part about working undercover? Ever wish to go back to it?”
“I worked undercover when I was with the Serious & Organised Crime Directorate. My ‘usual’ role was as a low- to mid-level gang member, busting drug rings and small-time gangs. Apart from the incessant alpha male display rituals, the worst part has got to be the ‘what if’: what if I get rumbled? Anything can happen in those situations, and being found out is always a possibility. As much as it was a unique experience that helped me up the ranks, I don’t miss it at all. Besides, these days I’m a little too old to play the role of a drug-dealing hoodie.”
I held in my snort. “Old? Hardly.” I glanced down at my list of questions. “I don’t mean to pry ... actually, I do. I’d love to know how you really feel about Sam.”
“Erm, she’s a friend.” He coughed, but I don’t think anything was really tickling his throat. “A good friend. Nothing more, really.” He hid his face behind his mug.
My growing smirk couldn’t be contained. “Uh huh.”
The mobile phone on the table between us lit up, spewing out Kung Fu Fighting. Kurt glanced at the caller ID. His brow furrowed. “Lancer.” He listened, jaw clenched. “I’m on my way.”
“Work calls?” I ask, bummed the interview was so stinkin’ short.
He finished off his coffee with a tilt of his dark head.
“Any hint as to what’s next?” I asked when he didn’t answer.
“One word: Labirynth. Think of somewhere in the city of London that fits that description and you just might have an idea of the setting of this next case. It's going to be a doozy."
Kurt nodded and strode off, his gaze fixed, already on the scene he’d been called to.
I sat back and glanced around. More than one set of eyes followed him, drinks ignored.
Huh. I'd set my own eyes on him and had forgotten all about that caramel mocchiato I'd planned on.
About the Author: