Kindle Author Sponsor: Karen McCullough
A Question of Fire
“If a reader desires a good suspenseful read, with much adventure, and a little romance, this book is sure to deliver…. This is a well-written story, full of detail and action that will keep one entranced from beginning to end, and wishing the story could go on forever. Ms. McCullough proves again that she is a rising star in the writing world, and this reviewer eagerly awaits her next work.”
—Kelly Hartsell, CK2S Kwips and Kritiques
An action-packed romantic suspense novel, leavened with dashes of humor. Catherine Bennett witnesses a murder and hears half of a dying man’s secret. It’s enough to get her in trouble with a gang of ruthless criminals, but not enough to get her out of it again.
Book Excerpt from A Question of Fire:
The word slithered from the bushes behind her, startling Catherine Bennett out of the few wits she'd managed to recover in the peace of the dark, quiet garden. Thready strains of violin music and the buzz of voices drifted across the lawn from the open door of the house. In the light spilling out, she could distinguish a couple of people sitting at a table on the deck. Cathy measured the distance with her eye. A good, heavy-duty scream would be heard, even over the party noises.
"Please, miss!" Tense urgency drove the voice as it called again.
She didn't need this. The evening had been disastrous enough already and a man hiding in the garden spelled trouble with capital letters. She got up and backed away while turning to face the source of the call.
"Don't run away, please," he begged. "I won't hurt you. I promise. I just want to ask you something."
A ring of sincerity in his pleading tone kept her from sprinting straight back to the house, an action the more cautious part of her brain urged. Cathy strained for a look at the person in the shrubbery. The voice was male and adult, though probably not very old. "Come out where I can see you," she demanded.
"Shhh!" he ordered in a fierce whisper. Leaves rustled, and a slender shape detached itself from the bushes. In the darkness, she couldn't distinguish his features.
A light breeze in her face set her shivering. "What do you want?" She backed another step away. They both jumped when a particularly loud laugh rang across the yard.
He turned to face the house. "You been at the party?"
At it, not of it, Cathy thought. She didn't say so; the young man wouldn't understand the distinction. "Yes," she answered.
"You know a guy named Peter Lowell?"
"Yes," she admitted, wondering where this was leading.
The young man's in-drawn breath sounded almost like a sob. "He's in there, ain't he?"
"Could you ask him to come out here?"
"I don't know. We just met tonight and I... I don’t think he likes me very much. He might not come.”
"Please. It's real important. You gotta try." A quiver shook the young man's body and voice. Tension or fear—or both? Whichever it was, he sounded near the breaking point.
"All right. Who should I tell him is here?"
The clouds drifted apart and the moon emerged from their shadow. A sliver of light fell across his cheek and glinted off the sheen of perspiration there. "Tell him... Tell him it's Bobby. He'll come, I promise."
Cathy sighed. "All right, I'll try. Wait here." She turned toward the house when another noise came from behind—the crackle of twigs or dried leaves underfoot.
Bobby's head jerked toward the bushes, then he called again, "Wait!" There was no mistaking the sheer desperation in his voice now. "Please. Wait." He looked from her face to the shrubbery and back again. "I better give you the message. Tell this to Mr. Lowell and no one else. Promise you won't tell anyone else?"
Cathy went back to him, found one of his arms, and pulled him into the shadow of a large boxwood. The arm she held was trembling. "All right,” she said. "What's the message?"
The young man looked around the yard and took a couple of quick, shallow breaths. "Tell him Danny was framed. I got the proof. Tell him—"
Another rustle shook the bushes, followed by a sudden, sharp crack which reverberated for a few seconds afterward. Bobby groaned and collapsed, sagging against her. The abrupt burden of his weight drove her to the ground, where she found herself half-crushed by the young man's bulk. She moved out from under him, a rush of adrenaline sharpening her senses until she heard, over Bobby's ragged breathing, the squish of a footstep in the shrubbery and the churning of leaves and branches fading rapidly as the gunman retreated.
Cathy stood and started toward the brush to follow the noise, then changed her mind when a choked groan from Bobby called her back. He sprawled motionless on the ground where she'd pushed him when she stood. The moonlight provided little illumination, but a new, large smudge stained the young man's light shirt. "Please. Tell Lowell—" He choked on the words.
Cathy found one of his hands and tried to tell him to be still, to be quiet, she'd get help. His breathing was harsh, rattling, and difficult.
Bobby moved his head in a bare negative motion. "Tell Lowell..." He worked for a breath. "God, please..." He tried again. "Danny..." He paused and the hand she held clenched. "In the air..."
Breath and strength deserted him at the same time. The fingers clasping hers went slack and slid out of her grasp.
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