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A woman's mangled body found on the shoulder of a highway bypass near the small town of Astrick, Oklahoma, is mistakenly identified as 28-year-old Memory Smith. The town is aghast. Was Astrick's favorite daughter murdered or the victim of a grisly hit-and-run?
Baffled by the initial reports, Astrick's Assistant District Attorney and Memory's former bad boy classmate, David (Mac) McCann, knows exactly where Memory is, and it's not lying dead beside a highway.
While investigating the wild rumor of her death, and several subsequent foiled assaults on Memory, Mac and Memory stumble onto clues from another long-ago questionable death. Can they be connected to the mysterious woman on the highway? Better yet, can Astrick’s former hellion and the town's sainted miracle child find true love amid the chaos and confusion of a bumbling kidnapper and a town where everybody lies?
Page Count: 322
Word Count: 78510
Mac glanced at the digital clock at the bedside. Five-fourteen a.m.
“No. I didn’t call the police, but so help me, if you show up here, I will.” She listened again as the rosy color of sleep drained from her face. “Don’t use that language with me. You’ve had too much to drink.” She trembled and fumbled the receiver. Mac took it out of her hand, put it to his ear and listened.
The man’s words were vile suggestions of sexual stimulation he would use to excite her to performing certain lurid acts with him. His words were lewd and very specific.
“Hey, Ressler,” Mac said, cutting into the vivid description, “I don’t care where you beat your meat, buddy, but you’re disturbing my sleep. If you’re that bad off, run over to Barbarella’s and buy yourself a couple of rounds with one of the girls.”
The voice on the other end of the line bellowed like an injured animal. A large one. “McCann? What’re you doing there?”
“I was sleeping. And I’d like to get back to it. I’m really surprised you’re this kind of desperate, Quint. Aren’t you the guy who’s always bragging about how much action he gets? I thought you had to beat the women off with sticks. Maybe I can help spread the word. Find you a willing woman.” Mac lowered his voice to a threatening tone. “But this one’s not.” He glanced at the pad marks on Memory’s face and her tousled hair. She looked like a little girl. “This one is taken. Do I make myself clear?”
The caller hung up.
Mac leaned across Memory to cradle the phone. “Quint’s been defending criminals and riffraff so long, he’s picked up some colorful street lingo. It’s just bad boy talk, Memory. The guy’s still a wuss. Don’t put up with it. Not that you did, but…” He couldn’t help smiling. “I still scare the hell out of him, like when we were kids. If he bothers you, threaten him with me. I broke his nose once and blacked his eyes several times. I might need to remind him how tentative our relationship is—his and mine.”
Memory lay back stiffly, clutching the covers to her throat. “Thank you, I think.”
“He’s not in any position to blab about our being here or my threat.” He paused a moment, then threw back the end of the bedspread which he had wrapped over him sometime in the night. “I’ll go get your clothes from Mrs. Flanagan.”
Waking up in a bed beside Memory Smith was something David McCann might have dreamed but would never have imagined. He needed to hurry, not get caught up in a lot of nonproductive fantasizing.
He went into the bathroom and returned fully clothed and shod. He grabbed his blazer off the back of the chair then darted out and jogged through the early morning stillness to Flanagan’s office. The thunderheads were gone, replaced by feathery clouds drifting over a pink-streaked sky, heralding the dawn. He rang the night bell several times before Mrs. Flanagan shuffled to the door tying her robe at her waist as she came. At first glance, he thought her eyes were red-rimmed from sleep, then realized the woman was crying.
“Is something wrong?” He put the professional tone in his voice, hoping to make the question sound less invasive.
“Oh, yes, David. Everyone in town’s just sick about the news this morning. That precious Memory Smith is dead.”
“What?” He choked on the word and blinked to focus.
“Killed right out there on the highway, she was. Run over. They found her body not two miles down the way.” She indicated the highway in front of the motel. “The poor, sweet thing. She was so tore up, they figured it must have been one of those eighteen-wheelers that got her.” She mopped her nose with a tissue. “Tore all to pieces, they tell me, layin’ right there by the side of the road. That precious, precious child.”
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