Thank you for joining us on The Writers Revolution. This week we are celebrating the upcoming release of Conviction (book 3 of the Detective Ryan Series). We are 2 days away from the release and release party. Join us each day as we bring you more from the Detective Ryan Series, including teasers, reviews, and even an excerpt.
(Book 2 in the Detective Ryan Series)
(Book 2 in the Detective Ryan Series)
What do you do when your biggest case has come to an end? Stuck with mandatory desk duty, Detective Ali Ryan's life as she knows it, is over. Six months without any action brought out a hunger to get back in the field. What she got, was much more than she bargained for. The body of Blake Ambrose, one of the best defense attorneys in Dutchess County, has washed up on the shores of the Hudson River. Is this the case that will get her back on her feet? Or will it end up being her last?
This action packed thrill ride will leave you on the edge of your seat.
The metal folding chairs scraped across the wooden floor as the group convened. A tall clean shaven man in an expensive suit entered the small room. He grinned widely at the group and waived happily at the people that came to listen to him speak.
“Evening folks; sorry I’m late,” the man said as he removed his suit jacket and placed it on the back of his chair. He beamed with delight as he saw the eager faces. With a quick flick of the wrist, the gold on his Rolex was prominently displayed for the others to admire. “Shall we get this meeting started?”
This wasn’t some sort of intervention meeting or addicts anonymous, although it did appear as one. No, the people gathered in the room were there to find happiness; to find their confidence to go after what they really wanted in life. The man at the podium had great success with thirteen previous students. The rest have either fallen back into their old habits or chosen a different path to take.
The crowd clung to every word he spoke as if it would magically give them the answers they craved. One of those students had attended every meeting for the last three months, although anyone that knew Claire could never understand why. Claire Cain had always excelled in life. She was valedictorian of her high school, made the Dean’s List and had a 4.0 average all through college, and completed medical school by the age of twenty-four. Many considered her a perfectionist, so it would be complete shock if anyone she knew saw her in a self-help group.
But Claire had a secret buried deep inside of her, a secret that no one knew about. The group never knew why she was there. She never said hello to others and mostly kept to herself. But once the speaker entered the mix, her eyes were heavily focused on him. The last few meetings she attended were a complete blur. Instead of listening to him, she thought how much she liked him. There was something about him that she was drawn to, but could never put her finger on it. Was it his passion for helping others? Was it how driven he was to be successful? Or was it that he was just drop dead gorgeous?
Time seemed to fly by quicker when she stared at him. Her eyes drank in every inch of him; his milk chocolate skin, his toned muscular body, his chiseled good looks. Damn even the way he dressed turned her on. She hadn’t thought about another man like that in six months. Usually the idea of some guy even touching her made her sick to her stomach, but not this guy.
Claire remained in a dreamlike state until she heard the scrapes of the chairs against the floor. Everyone was standing and gathered their belongings. She quickly rose to her feet and fussed with her purse, hoping no one saw her blunder. A hand closed in on her shoulder.
Claire spun on her heel and swatted the hand away. She had a closed fist aimed for the man’s nose, but retracted when she realized who was behind her.
“That’s an interesting way to say hello,” the man said.
Claire could smell the strong scent of his cologne. She inhaled deeply. The fragrance had a hint of cinnamon to it and was utterly intoxicating. It made Claire forget what she was doing and replaced her petrified look with a playful smile.
“Sorry, you um, caught me off guard.”
“I should be the one apologizing. I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“It’s-it’s all right.” This was the first time Claire had spoken to the man, who in her mind exuded sex appeal. She was nervous. She was never nervous around a guy she liked before, but she was around him.
His eyes scanned her face and skimmed the pieces of blond hair that dripped over her forehead. There was something off about it that made him give her a second look. His thick fingers traced the hairline and brushed the blond locks away. The rest of her hair moved as well.
The man’s eyes flashed with anger. His hand reached for Claire’s shoulder. His grip was a little tighter than it should’ve been. “You mind telling me why you’re wearing a wig?”
Claire ripped her arm away from him. “I really don’t wanna talk about it.”
“If you don’t tell me who you are and why you’re really here, then you’ll have to leave and will be forbidden to return.”
Claire swallowed hard. Even though she hadn’t participated much or been as active as some of the others, she felt like the group had helped her make progress. “It-it’s complicated.”
“Then un-complicate it for me. At least tell me who you are.”
“My name is Dr. Claire Cain.”
The man loosened his grip on her shoulder. The anger in his eyes softened and had a more curious look to them. “Okay Dr. Cain, why are you here?”
“I was attacked six months ago and well…”
“You feel like you lost a part of yourself.”
“Yeah,” Claire replied.
“Then why the disguise?”
“I just- I just don’t want anyone to recognize me.”
He didn’t understand why Claire felt ashamed to be at one of his meetings. He was there to help her. His chocolate malt ball eyes pierced her with lust and assurance. “You have nothing to fear here.”
The rest of the group already exited the room leaving Claire and the speaker alone. “You don’t get it. I’ve always been the best at everything. I’ve never needed help from anyone before. If anyone saw me here…”
“They’d think you were human like the rest of us.” Claire tried to shield herself from his gaze. He took his finger under her chin and raised her head. “I don’t want you to ever be afraid of anything, not here and not with me.” He stared hard into her eyes. His hand slid the blond wig from her head. Claire’s dark brown hair fell to her shoulders with a few red highlighted streaks. “Bold choice for a doctor.”
“It was something I always wanted to do when I was younger but always thought it was too stupid or reckless.”
“No, not at all. You were taking control of your life. I think you need to do more of that and less worrying about what others think or expect from you.” The man smiled which turned Claire’s cheeks a bright shade of pink. “If you want something, go after it and don’t let anyone or anything get in your way.” He dropped his hands from Claire and stepped away from her.
Claire took his words to heart and decided it was time to go after something she really wanted. “Mr. Lewis,” Claire called from her row of chairs. The man turned his head in her direction. “Do you want to go out for dinner some time?”
The man slipped his suit jacket off the chair by the podium. He beamed an award winning smile at Claire. “I’d love to. How about tomorrow night?”
Claire spent weeks getting her life back in order. The first thing she did was reduce the amount of time she worked out of the hospital and spent more time working out at the gym. She had lost ten pounds of fat and toned up her body. She was looking fierce and started catching the eye of men all around her. That’s how she snagged Mr. Lewis. After their date, Claire decided it was better to focus on her instead of on a relationship. But that one date had her feeling more empowered than she ever did before. It was a feeling that had he believing she could take on the world.
By late June, Claire’s workout regimen created a physique that was built to be entered into fitness competitions. She constantly found herself in front of a full length mirror admiring her new body. It wasn’t a vanity thing. Claire just liked to admire how much her hard work paid off. Getting dressed was her favorite time to check herself out, although she never seemed to go anywhere. But that was all about to change.
Her friends convinced Claire to meet up with them one night after work. It was something she hadn’t done in several months, but was running out of excuses. After finally giving into their pleas, Claire decided it was the perfect time to show off her killer bod.
She strutted to the full length mirror in her bedroom and watched her reflection flex its muscles. This was Claire’s routine every night before bed. She spent a half hour flexing and posing while admiring her body. Her eyes watched the muscles in her back tense and relax when her phone began vibrating loudly on the nightstand. She strutted across the room and picked up the small device. The name Becky scrolled across the screen.
Claire beamed with delight as she answered the phone. “Hey girl, are you on your way?” There was a hint of hesitation in her voice.
“Hey,” Becky said hoarsely before letting out a violent cough. “I’m sorry sweetie; I can’t make it tonight.”
“What? No, what’s wrong?”
“I’ve been coughing up a lung since lunch. I thought I’d get better, but I feel like shit right now.”
Claire thought this was Rebecca’s lame attempt at ditching her because she had another date. “Come on; this was my first time going out in...” Claire paused and tried thinking about the last time she had gone out to a club. It was actually something she tried desperately to forget. “Let’s just say it’s been too long for me to remember.”
“I’m really sorry. I’ll make it up to you; I promise. Next week we’ll go out and paint the town red. Drinks are on me.”
Claire’s suspicions were growing. Rebecca only promised things when she did something her friends would be mad about. “He better be good in bed.”
“Who better be good in bed?”
“The guy you’re standing me up for.” Rebecca hesitated in her response which confirmed Claire’s theory. “Busted,” Claire laughed.
“Okay fine; I’m not really sick.”
“So you’re standing me up for some guy. You realize you can get laid by any guy in the bar tonight; right?”
“I don’t think any of them can compare to this one. He’s absolutely gorgeous. He can pass for a Calvin Kline underwear model.” Rebecca was sounding more like a giddy school girl the more she talked about her date.
“Great, so when you’re out having mind blowing sex with Mr. Pecktastic, I’ll be sitting home alone watching crappy reality shows and stuffing my face with popcorn.”
“Oh stop it; you don’t need me. Go out on your own and find your own hunk to hook up with.” The idea of meeting a guy at a bar scared and repulsed Claire. The last time she met a man at a bar, Claire had the most traumatic experience of her life.
It was a night on the town with her girls, Becky and Sheila. They joined Claire at the bar celebrating her speaking at a conference. The drinks were flowing heavily that night, despite Claire’s attempts at waving them off. Before long, her friends found guys to dance with and Claire was left to watch from the bar. She didn’t mind. She was doing her job of keeping an eye out for them. That was always what she did when they went out. She was the mother figure of the group which even led Claire to offer a job to Sheila as her personal secretary when she went into private practice.
Although she had a lot to celebrate, Claire dwelled on the news she received when she got back to her house. One of her long time patients passed away. She was a sweet old lady that had several young grandkids that kept her active. Claire loved to visit her, to play cards with her, and talk about the woman’s life and her crazy summers as young twenty-year-old. The woman knew she didn’t have much time left, but her death came as a sudden shock to Claire. Sheila convinced her to go out that night.
“Don’t you dare stay home and mope around the house. She’d kick you in the ass if you did that.” Claire tried to put up a small argument in defense, but Sheila continued to add the pressure. “You know she would want you to go out and have fun tonight.”
Claire thought back to the woman’s stories and agreed; going out was exactly what the sweet old lady with the storied youth would have wanted. But the bar didn’t take her mind off the woman’s death. Not even the four shots and the two cosmos did anything to stifle the mourning.
“Can I buy you a drink?” a man asked as he sat down next to her. Claire wasn’t a fan of strange men coming up to her at a bar. She knew they only had one thing on their minds, and that was to hook up with as many women as they could. But for some reason that night, she decided to forget her rules and live in the moment.
“Sure,” she replied. A pink colored drink was pushed in front of her. She took a sip and put it down. That was the last thing she remembered. The next day, Claire woke up naked in a hotel room that was registered under the name John Smith and was paid for with cash. Her clothes were thrown around the room. She didn’t know what happened or who she had been with.
“Helllllooooooo,” Rebecca shouted into the phone. It woke Claire from remembering the worst night of her life.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I was just thinking about which movie to watch since my best friend decided to stand me up.”
“Stop it; just go out and have fun. You were planning on doing that anyway.”
Claire thought hard about it. She did have the night off. So what if she had no one to go with? She had a hot new body that would have every guy in the place eating out of the palm of her hand.
“Fine, go have fun with your new boy toy.”
“Thanks, I will.”
Claire hung up with Rebecca and marched herself over to the closet. A short black dress rested on a hanger begging to be worn. She took it with her and slipped the dress over her head. She chose a matching pair of seductive black peep toe heels that exposed her recently painted red nails.
She strutted over to the window one more time. She loved how hot she looked and was ready to make men’s tongues hang out of their mouths.
An hour later, Claire found herself at the Whiskey J’s Saloon. The name fit well as it had an old west appearance with wooden floors and bar stools. Blinding multicolored lights bounced off the bottles of liquor from behind the bar. It was tempting, but Claire knew she had to restrain herself. Men were eying her up like wolves stalking their prey. She could still have her fun, but she was not to let her guard down.
This was her first time coming to Whiskey J’s. A friend of Rebecca’s recommended the place to them and said they would have a time they’d never forget. Claire was skeptical from the moment she heard of the place. All she could think of was the old west with cowboys smoking cigars, playing cards while the women waited on them hand and foot. Then the guys would slap their waitress’s asses as they handed them another beer. She was pleasantly surprised to see it was nothing like that.
The Saloon had been divided up into two sections. One part of the bar still had that old west type of feel, while the other looked more modern and up to date. Claire passed one man with a wolfish grin.
“Hey baby, let’s dance.”
Claire held back her laughter as the man drunkenly gyrated in front of her with his hands tucked behind his head. She didn’t exactly know how to get out of it without using one of her girlfriend’s as an excuse. She was on her own with no one to bail her out. Claire let a smile slip. She couldn’t contain her laughter anymore.
“Sorry, maybe later.”
Claire pushed passed the drunken fool and made her way to the bar. There were a lot more men there than women, but most of the bartenders were men too. One in particular caught her eye. He was tall and ruggedly handsome. His muscles bulged out of his tight black t-shirt as he poured the drinks.
Claire bit her bottom lip and sashayed up to the bar. The bartender couldn’t tear his eyes away from Claire’s toned body and low cut neckline.
“What’ll it be?”
The bartender’s attention was firmly on Claire. He lost focus while checking her out. His eyes never strayed far from her face or the top of her dress.
“Hey buddy,” one of the patrons from the other end of the bar shouted as his arm waved in the air. “I’ve been waiting five minutes. Can you fucking come take our order?”
The bartender slid the martini towards Claire. His dark eyes exuded warmth as they stared at her. She took a sip and nervously smiled. Another shout emanated behind her. She turned and saw the annoyed patron standing next to her.
“Excuse me sweetie,” he said as he edged his way between Claire and the man sitting next to her. “Look buddy, I know she’s hot, but I need two Bud Lights, a lime and two shots of tequila.”
The bartender slammed the shaker on the counter and poured the tequila into the silver cylinder. He forcefully shook it, no doubt wishing it was the asshole’s head, and drained the contents into two shot glasses. He slid them along with the two beers to the man barking orders.
A twenty-dollar bill was slammed on the bar in front of Claire. There was something about the man collecting his drinks that sent a chill down her spine. Her eyes gravitated towards him involuntarily.
“So, what’s a beautiful lady like you doing in a dump like this,” the bartender asked. Claire ignored him. Her eyes remained locked on the man carrying the beer and shot glasses.
“What? Oh, sorry,” she replied. Claire peeled her attention away from the man long enough to see the bartender was checking her out. The attention sent a warm sensation throughout her body. It was nice to feel wanted, but she was not ready for a hook-up, even if he was a gorgeous bartender.
Claire took a sip from her drink and glanced back at the man with the drinks. He rested everything on a nearby table that could barely fit two people at it. His hand reached inside his pocket and pulled out a small clear tube. He moved quickly, but Claire noticed clear liquid dripping from the tube into one of the shot glasses. An overly excited grin was plastered the man’s face, reminiscent of a young boy that realized he was about to lose his virginity.
Claire knew he had evil intentions and that he planned on using that drink to score with some girl he would’ve otherwise had no shot with. She quickly chugged her drink and jumped from her chair as the bartender turned to help another customer. If Claire was going to do something, she needed to act fast.
She followed the man back to the other side of the bar where he placed the drinks next to a hot blond in tight fitting skinny jeans and a low cut blouse. Seeing the girl wrap her fingers around the shot glass forced Claire to relive the worst night of her life.
Blurred images of a man leading her out of a bar filled her mind. The cold night air stung her skin as they made their way to a car. She loosely remembered a firm hand rubbing her leg while she did her best to stay awake. The hand wasn’t forceful; it was almost loving as if the man believed what he was doing was consensual. But it wasn’t. She never wanted that and she was sure this girl didn’t either.
Claire came to her senses as she watched the woman raise the glass to her lips. She was out of time. Claire hurried over to the woman and tried her best to act like a bubbly air head.
“Oh my god, I love that bag. Where’d you get it?” The woman looked at Claire like she had five heads and slowly put down the shot glass. Claire’s eyes stared at the sparkling royal blue clutch that sat on the bar.
The woman shook her head and appeased Claire. “My girlfriend got it for me at the mall.”
The answer was meant to brush Claire off, but she took it as she needed to be more forceful. She inserted herself between the woman and the man who tried drugging her. There wasn’t much time before one of them asked her to leave and she needed to find a way to get rid of the drink,
Claire positioned herself in front of the man blocking his access to either shot glass. She rambled on about how that color blue was her favorite and would match a dress she’s been dying to wear. The idle chit-chat bored and annoyed both, but it provided the much needed distraction Claire’s fingers lightly traced the rim of one shot glass and moved it next to the one the woman tried to drink. Her hand switched to the drugged drink and inched it back towards the man.
Once the switch was complete, Claire excused herself and watched to make sure the devil took the bait. He downed the drink, not knowing what he consumed, and smiled at the thought of getting lucky.
Claire kept her eye on the less than happy couple. He was slurring his words after twenty minutes and was falling over himself. The woman he was attempted to drug left with another guy. Claire knew something had to be done about creeps like him. She thought giving him a taste of his own medicine would teach him a lesson, but knew he would inevitably strike again. Next time it could be her or Becky or Sheila.
Claire used the man’s vulnerability as her moment to strike. She hurried to his side before he fell off the bar stool.
“Hey there,” he said. His words began to slur again. “You looks ot. You wants to back house n fuck?”
His boldness surprised her. Claire wondered how much fight this guy had left in him and momentarily second guessed her decision. But knowing what he tried to do to the other woman infuriated her and finalized her decision “Sure,” she replied. “How about I drive?”
The man smiled as he threw an arm around Claire’s waist. “So what’s name?”
Claire thought about telling him the truth. But then again, if her plan didn’t work out, someone would know what she did. “Abby,” she lied.
The man cupped her face with his right hand. “Nice meet you. I Ambrose.” He leaned in and planted a kiss on her lips. Claire wanted to pull away. The thought of this low life’s lips touching hers repulsed her, but she needed to play along with it.
Nothing will get in your way of what you want, she reminded herself.
She didn’t have to act too much. Ambrose was ready to drop the moment he took a step forward. Claire helped him to her car and placed him in the backseat. He let out a low moan. She entered the driver’s seat and looked back at the crumpled heap that was once a smooth talker.
Now that Claire had him, she didn’t know what to do with him. What has gotten into you? An image of the man that drugged and raped her flooded her mind. He was the reason she was like this and she wasn’t going to let it happen to another woman. Claire started her car and sped off with Ambrose passed out in the backseat.