I'm very happy to be able to showcase this talented author on my blog today. I'm a huge crime fiction fan, and this lady's series is addictive - crime done right. There aren't many indie crime authors out there, so i was thrilled to come across Carolyn's work.
Check out her latest release, Violated.
VIOLATED (BRANDON FISHER FBI SERIES)
by Carolyn Arnold
Published by: Hibbert & Stiles Publishing Inc.
ISBN (e-book): 978-1-988064-71-0
ISBN (print): 978-1-988064-70-3
Approximately 250 pages
Sometimes the past should stay there…
The murder is one of the most heinous FBI agent and profiler Brandon Fisher has ever seen. But that’s not why he and two members of the team are rushing to California. The Bureau is interested because the prime suspect is one of their own, Paige Dawson.
But Paige didn’t go to Valencia to kill anyone. She had set out on “vacation”—her new lover in tow—only to confront the man who raped her friend twenty-some years ago. While the hands of the law are tied, she wants him to face the fact that he destroyed a young woman’s life and know that, as an FBI agent, she’ll be watching his every move. Yet, instead of accomplishing her goal, she wound up in the back of a police cruiser.
Now Paige must face off with a hard-nosed detective determined to stick a murder charge to a fed. But with the trained eyes of the FBI on the case, it’s becoming more and more obvious that the evidence lends itself to a serial killing, not an isolated incident. And as long as the local authorities are focused on Paige, the real murderer is still out there, possibly waiting to strike again…
CAROLYN ARNOLD is an international best-selling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has four continuing fiction series—Detective Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher FBI, McKinley Mysteries, and Matthew Connor Adventures—and has written nearly thirty books. Her genre diversity offers her readers everything from cozy to hard-boiled mysteries, and thrillers to action adventures.
Both her female detective and FBI profiler series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining, leading her to adopt the trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.
Carolyn was born in a small town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower.
She currently lives just west of Toronto with her husband and beagle and is a member of Crime Writers of Canada.
Connect with CAROLYN ARNOLD Online:
Website - http://carolynarnold.net/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/Carolyn_Arnold
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCarolynArnold
And don’t forget to sign up for her newsletter for up-to-date information on release and special offers at http://carolynarnold.net/newsletters.
Excerpt from the Prologue
MONDAY, AUGUST 24TH, 11:10 PM PACIFIC TIME
CANYON COUNTRY, CALIFORNIA
THE MARK WAS IN HIS FORTIES, had no kids, and worked a white-collar job. Average height, average looks. Nothing was truly memorable about him except for his uncommon first name, and that was only because it belonged to a character from a popular eighties movie.
She had followed him to some honky-tonk in Canyon Country, an unsavory location at any time of day, but factor in the late hour and it was even worse. But Ferris had chosen this dive as his hunting ground. Women were easier to lure in with a little chemical persuasion, and that was easy to pass off around here.
He entered the bar with head held high, his back straight, the tease of a smirk on his lips—the end of the evening a foregone conclusion in his mind. He was sipping on his first bourbon, though he was acting as if he was on his third by slurring his words and talking loudly. He’d even thrown a sway into his swagger. Somehow he always managed to make his eyes look bloodshot, too, furthering the charade. And the women would come. And the women would fall for his tricks.
Tonight, she’d be that woman, but she’d be his last. He had to learn there was a price to pay for his actions.
She was sitting down the bar from him. Occasionally, he’d pass her a look—the predatory kind that made her blood boil. She smiled at him, doing her best to convey carnal hunger with her gaze, smearing on a seductive curve to her lips. She dipped her finger into her manhattan and sucked on it—the cherry juice sweet, the whiskey bitter.
Ferris was off his stool and sidling up her to within three seconds.
The ruse worked every time. It also helped that she exploited what nature had given her—a slender frame and shapely legs. High heels accentuated her well-defined calf muscles, and men stared when she walked into a room. When she paired even higher stilettos with a short skirt and crossed her legs, men’s mouths tended to fall open. She utilized all these virtues tonight.
She flashed another sultry smile, and he lifted his glass toward her before tilting his own back and draining it. He set it back on the bar and knocked on it to get the bartender’s attention.
“I’ll have another on the rocks and—” he rolled his head toward her “—get the lady whatever she’d like.”
Time to feign innocence and flattery.
She waved a dismissive hand in his direction. “I really shouldn’t.”
She saw the quick look he gave her glass before meeting her eyes again. “Nonsense. Please, it would be my treat.”
If she stripped his voice of its candy-coated tone, his words were pushy and controlling.
“Well”—she angled her glass, showing how little of her drink she had left—“only if you’re sure.”
If she had actually been given a chance to prove her acting skills, she could be living in a sprawling mansion by now.
“Absolutely. What will it be?” Ferris asked, a grin teasing his lips as he tugged down on his left earlobe. It wasn’t hard for her to figure out what was going on. Ferris was asking for something “special” to be added to her drink—the “special” being some kind of date-rape drug.
She lifted her glass to the bartender. “Another manhattan.”
“Coming right up.” The tender left to make their drinks, and she watched him, taking the time to calm her heartbeat and flow of adrenaline.
“I like a woman who can handle her whiskey.” Ferris was looking quite comfortable beside her now. He was fully facing her, his left elbow perched on the counter, and he wasn’t discreet about his drifting gaze, which gravitated to her thighs.
“What can I say? I’m a little whiskey girl.” The words from the country song rolled off her tongue, cinching her gut, but she had to do what was necessary to pull him in.
“Toby Keith,” he said.
“Toby Keith.” He pointed to a speaker on the ceiling. “The singer who sings that one.”
“Ah, yes.” And here, she thought she was doing well by knowing it was even a country song. She smiled at him again. He truly thought of himself as a woman’s man.
“Have I seen you here before?” he asked.
She dipped her head.
“I knew it. I never forget a beautiful face. So what’s your name?”
“Names really aren’t important, are they, baby?” She extended her hand, her long, narrow fingers bowing before him in feminine elegance.
“Oh, she’s mysterious. I like it.” He kissed the back of her hand, and she was proud of herself for not rolling her eyes.
The bartender returned and placed their drinks in front of them. “Here you go.”
From her observations, Ferris seemed to keep a running tab here. Rape now, pay later?
Oh, and Ferris would pay…
“You never told me your name,” she said, falling into her role.
“Oh, I can tell you mine, but you can’t—”
“Uh-huh.” She sucked on the tip of her finger again.
“Ferris.” He still held onto her other hand, and she pulled it back shyly.
“Are you from around here?” she asked, resorting to the necessity of small talk.
“I just fly in from time to time for business.”
“Ah.” She’d have to call upon her acting skills for this performance. She knew he lived less than three miles away from this place. “What business?”
He tapped his jacket pockets, then slid a hand inside one. “How embarrassing. I don’t have any cards with me. Besides, I don’t really want to bore you. Why don’t we talk about you?” He leaned toward her and lifted his rocks glass. “To a fun night.”
“To one we won’t remember.”
They toasted, and he took a long pull of the amber liquid. She pressed her own glass to her lips and pretended to take a sip.
Excerpt from Chapter 1
“Agent Fisher.” I had answered without checking the caller ID, but the ensuing silence on the other end of the line had me pulling back the phone and consulting it now.
SANTA CLARITA V.
That tells me nothing…
“Hello? This is Special Agent Brandon Fisher. Can I help you?” I looked for Zach, but he was gone again.
There was no verbal response on the other end of the line, but I heard a distinct exhale, followed by more deep breaths.
Santa Clarita… Where was that? It sounded Californian.
And I knew only one person in California.
There was a jagged intake of breath. A sob, maybe?
“Oh God, Brandon.” It was Paige, and she was definitely crying. And Paige didn’t cry. I’d witnessed the odd tear fall when our relationship had ended, but this was different. Something was very wrong.
I leaned on my desk and looked around, but no one was nearby.
“What’s going on? Are you okay?” I asked. I gave her a few seconds to respond. She didn’t. “Where’s Sam? Is he okay? Talk to me, Paige.”
“Shh. I don’t want everyone to know.”
“What’s going on?” I was starting to get annoyed that she was avoiding my question. She was the one who had called me.
“I’m in trouble,” she began. “Big trouble.”
“What kind of trouble?”
“I’m in…jail,” she ground out.
Her words struck me as a physical blow. I even stopped breathing for a second. I sank back into my chair. “You’re what?”
“There’s been a misunderstanding is all.”
I’d hope so…
“Where is Sam?” I asked again.
“Please, Brandon, don’t tell Jack or Zach.”
Another aversion tactic. “I don’t know much to tell.” My concern for her was quickly morphing into irritation. “Where’s Sam?” I repeated a third time. Maybe I should record myself and just hit “play.”
Another deep exhale into the receiver.
“Talk to me,” I entreated.
“He doesn’t know.”
“What? How can he not know you were—”
“Shh! I can’t explain everything over the phone. I need you to get me a good defense attorney and send him to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station. Have them ask for Detective Grafton or Mendez.”
A good defense attorney?
“What are you suspected of?”
“I don’t want—”
“You called me, remember?”
She sighed. “Something I might be regretting…”
“I’m sorry, but you asked me to get you—”
Jack came up next to my desk. He ran a hand along his throat, indicating my call needed to end. Now. And based on the way he was staring me down, refusing him wasn’t an option.
“Where’s Zach?” he asked.
“God, is that Jack?” Paige whispered. “Brandon, you can’t say a—”
I cupped the receiver portion of my cell phone and held it away from my ear. “He’ll be back,” I told Jack. “He probably just went to the bathroom.”
“Hang up,” Jack demanded. He never tolerated personal calls on the job, but this was going overboard. Besides, this particular one wasn’t personal. Or was it?
And why did Paige call me and not Sam? Was it just that I was familiar, or did she not want to give the new guy a bad impression? I dismissed the idea of her still harboring feelings for me before I even considered it, but whatever it was, I wasn’t sure I was completely comfortable with it.
I got up from my chair and walked away from Jack, taking my cell phone with me. I had it pressed to my ear again and could tell Paige was still on the line. I could feel Jack’s eyes watching me, but so far, he wasn’t following.
“I will do what you asked,” I said into the receiver, “but it would help to know what you’re…you know.” I didn’t want to say being charged with, seeing as Jack was still within earshot.
“I don’t want to get into it with you, Brandon. Hell, I probably shouldn’t have even called you. I just thought I could trust you.”
“You can.” The words had come out of their own volition.
“Thank you. I just need a defense attorney who is good at getting the innocent off—” Someone spoke to her in the background. “Yes, I know… Fine,” she said, her voice muffled, probably from her hand over the receiver. Then back to me. “I’ve got to go.”
“I’ll get you someone.”
“Remember, Detective Graft—”
“Grafton and Mendez. I got it.”
“One more thing, Brandon. Please let Sam know I’m okay.”
“And what about the part where you were…” I couldn’t elaborate as Jack was now literally breathing down my neck.
“You can’t tell him I’ve been arrested.”
“Can I trust you or not?” she asked impatiently.
I nodded even though she couldn’t see it. “You can.”
“Sam’s at the Hyatt Regency, room 328.” Then she hung up. With the conversation over, I was left to face Jack, and based on his epic scowl, I was going to have explain why I didn’t hang up the second he had told me to.
“I need to make another phone call,” I said.
“Not right now you don’t,” Jack replied.
Zach came back to his desk, a confused look on his face when he saw the two of us, and Jack gestured for us to follow him into his office.
I was pacing in front of Jack’s door, not wanting to go in because I needed to get Paige that lawyer ASAP.
Jack gripped my shoulder with a firm hand. “Go inside.”
“Uh, yeah. On it.” I pressed on a smile and went into his office.
Jack shut the door and didn’t bother to take a seat. Neither did Zach or I, but the two of us kept looking at each other for a clue as to what this was about.
“Paige has been brought in as a murder suspect.” Jack delivered the statement as if it were any other case—direct, punchy, and succinct.
I swallowed roughly, my throat so dry I wondered if my mouth was even producing any saliva. I sought out one of the chairs that were positioned in front of Jack’s desk.
Jack’s gaze followed me until I sat down. “That was Paige on the phone with you, wasn’t it?”
“Yeah,” I choked out.
His jaw tightened. He shook his head. “Unbelievable.”
I wasn’t exactly sure what he was referring to—Paige’s arrest or my consorting with the…enemy?
Jack closed his eyes. “She just couldn’t leave it alone.”
“Leave what alone?” Zach asked.
Jack let out a heaving sigh, met my eyes, and then turned for the door. “Come on, we’re going to California. I’ll explain on the plane.”
Excerpt from Chapter 4
Paige blinked the tears from her eyes. It couldn’t be. She wiped her wet eyes, her gaze not leaving the necklace in her hand. The chain was a common style, but the heart pendant and the letter N…
Still, it didn’t mean this one had been Natasha’s…
Paige swallowed. But she remembered when Natasha had realized she’d lost it. She had dropped on the end of the hotel bed as if all the weight of the world were piled on her shoulders. It was the morning after the rape.
Tears now fell freely down Paige’s cheeks. There was no doubt in her mind that the necklace she now held had been Natasha’s.
Paige cried as the past washed over her and continued to do so until rage replaced her sadness.
Somehow, she would make this son of a bitch pay for what he had done. She was past the point of keeping within the shades of the law and would circumvent legal means if that’s what it took to hold him responsible.
She clasped the necklace around her neck. Had Ferris kept it as some sort of sick notch in his bedpost? If so, that showed a psychology to him that confirmed he was a repeat offender. And if that was his mentality, prison wouldn’t have rehabilitated him, and that meant there were likely date-rape drugs here to prove it.
She stormed from the bedroom and toward the bathroom.
Beyond the point of caring anymore if she left her fingerprints behind, she emptied the contents of the medicine cabinet, and his toiletries now filled the sink.
She rushed back to his bedroom and tore it apart. The drugs were here somewhere. A man like Ferris wouldn’t stop raping…
Several minutes passed as she searched, and when she was finished, his bedroom looked like a tornado had struck. But still no pills.
Maybe she was being ridiculous, hoping to find something where there was nothing. And even if she found the drugs, what did she hope to accomplish? While possession of date-rape drugs was illegal, her means of getting them would make them inadmissible in any court. But she couldn’t stop. All she could see was her friend’s body in that casket—the way her face, even in death, showed her tortured existence.
She hurried downstairs to the kitchen. There was no way she was stopping now.
She searched each cupboard and drawer, pulling out items and rooting to the back. She had one place left to look, and as she opened it, she saw that it was a catchall drawer. Stuffed with anything and everything from a meat thermometer, to sandwich bags, to tin foil, to… She pulled out a sleeve of pills. She flipped them and read the stamp on the silver backing. Allergy pills.
She continued working through the contents of the drawer until she reached the last item. It was an Aleve bottle. That was an inconvenient place to keep a pain reliever… She opened it and looked inside. It was only the medication. She was still holding the bottle in her hand when she recalled the one on the counter. She exchanged one for the other, not about to give up. Just because the bottle was labeled one way… She twisted the lid.
Police sirens wailed somewhere nearby, and she paused. Her instinct told her to leave this alone and get out of his house immediately. But it was too late, the whooping sirens were on top of her now, and then the patio door slid open on the other side of the dining room. Two police officers entered the house, guns drawn.
“Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Department! Put your hands on your head!”
“What’s—” The strength drained from her legs, and her head spun. She was under arrest?
Oh God. That woman must have called the police.
“I said, put your hands on your head!” the same officer shouted.
Another officer went around behind her, stripped her of her gun, passed it off to the second officer, and proceeded to cuff her. “You have the right to remain silent—”
“This isn’t what it looks like.”
“It looks like you’re ransacking the house of a dead man.”
A dead man?
“I’m an FBI agent. I can explain—”
“You can do that down at the station.”
Excerpt from Chapter 6
TUESDAY, AUGUST 25TH, 9:30 AM PACIFIC TIME
PAIGE WAS TAKEN BACK TO the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station and tossed into an interrogation room after being carted through the station like a prized trophy in cuffs. They had a murder suspect in custody, and she was a fed. No one was talking to her; they talked around her. Her question about what made her a murder suspect had so far gone unanswered. She’d be able to provide an alibi, but they obviously weren’t ready to hear it.
The buzz of the fluorescent light dangling overhead droned steadily. The white brick walls begged for a splash of color, and the table was a veneer top with silver metal legs. There was a plastic bucket chair on each side of the table. She pressed her fingers to the tabletop as she took a seat, and the table wobbled. Shifting her weight, she tried to find a comfortable position, but it was impossible. The seat bit into the back of her legs, cutting off her circulation.
But she refused to stand and let the detectives witness her discomfort. She guessed there were probably at least three sets of eyes on her from behind the one-way glass—the two detectives from Ferris’s house and their sergeant. They’d surely be discussing how she was found in a dead man’s home. But it wasn’t like Ferris’s body was in his house. All she was really guilty of was trespassing. If they’d just listened to her, she could put this sordid mess behind her.
She glanced at the walls for a clock but there wasn’t one. How long had she been in here? An hour? Or did it just feel like that?
She knew what they were doing, as she often played the same game in her career. Delaying an interrogation was a tried-and-true method. Toss the suspect into a dank room for long enough, and even the innocent would start to doubt their innocence. But these detectives were foolish if they thought they could manipulate her. She had nothing to hide.
The door opened, creaking on its hinges, and she tucked the necklace beneath her collar.
Two men entered the room. There was a stark age difference between them, and the lead detective was easy to identify. He was in his fifties with silver hair, while the rookie was in his late twenties—tops—and had a thick mop of dark hair and bushy eyebrows.
She should ask for representation, but something about doing so would make all this more real. Surely, she’d have an alibi to provide. She just needed to know Ferris’s time of death and location.
She swallowed, wishing away any motive she’d have for killing Ferris. Maybe the time she had spent sitting in here actually was playing with her mind.
The senior detective slapped a file folder on the table and made a show of opening it while keeping his greenish-gray eyes on her. His gaze was cold.
The rookie walked behind her and stood to her right. He emitted a cocky assuredness that seemed fueled by the need to prove himself, and he would use her flesh to advance his rank.
Rule one, don’t speak first. It would prove that their tactic had weakened her, and she needed to retain all the power she could.
“I’m Detective Grafton, and that there is Mendez,” said the older one. The fine lines around his eyes seemed more dominant as he narrowed his gaze on her, and his wrinkled brow indicated a rough life. The leathery appearance of his skin suggested either a health condition or an alcohol dependency.
Grafton sat in the chair across from her, leaning back casually and clasping his hands in his lap. His eyes locked on hers, assessing, trying to get a read on her. But while he analyzed her, she did the same to him. She recognized the lick of flame in his gaze. He was hungry for a conviction—and to stick it to a fed probably only made her more appetizing.
After letting the static build between them for about a minute, Grafton spoke. “According to your background you’re an FBI agent. Is that correct?”
“Yes.” He had asked a question he knew the answer to, as he’d stripped her of her ID and badge at Ferris’s house. This was a detour, and she wanted to get things moving and get out of here. “I can explain why I was—”
Grafton held up his hand and settled farther back in his chair. The shift in weight caused the cheap plastic to groan against its metal frame. “I’m sure this was all a misunderstanding. You were at Hall’s house because he was the suspect of a crime?”
It didn’t surprise her that Grafton would approach things this way. It was probably another reason the detectives had taken so long getting into the room—they were debating strategy.
“But that wouldn’t explain why he was found murdered this morning,” Grafton continued. He gave it a few seconds. “Do you have anything to say about that, Miss Dawson?”
“Where was Ferris found? It obviously wasn’t in his home,” she said, trying to rush the detective along.
“Oh, we’ll get to that.” He was scowling now. “You weren’t there for a case.”
An expertly laid-out accusation to tempt her to speak. Dirty cops really ruined it for the good ones who fell into question. Like criminals, law enforcement officers accused of a crime were also presumed guilty.
“I can always call your supervisor”—he tapped his hand on the file—“Jack Harper.”
The threat was to elicit a reaction from her, panic or guilt or anything, really. And it almost worked… Her mouth fell open, but she snapped it shut.
“Huh, nothing.” Grafton directed the comment to Mendez, who was still standing behind Paige.
Paige glanced back at him. His face was relaxed, his features stoic.
Grafton smacked the table. Paige didn’t even flinch.
“What were you doing in Ferris Hall’s house?” Grafton barked.
“If you had listened to me earlier, you’d know his back door was already open, and I was concerned about his safety.”
“Come now, Miss Dawson, one LEO to another… You must have had a good reason to be at Hall’s house. Your record is impeccable.” He referred to the file. “A total of seventeen years with the FBI. I wouldn’t even guess you were old enough.” Grafton gave it about twenty seconds and then went on. “A total of eleven years with the office in New York, then one year as a training instructor at the Academy, and for the last five you’ve been with the Behavioral Analysis Unit.” He peered up from the report and met her eyes. He had managed to soften his gaze, as if he’d found some empathy for her, but she knew better than to accept this display as genuine.
“When was time of death?” she asked.
“You really do like getting right to it.”
“Last night between ten and midnight.”
Her pulse quickened as anxiety started to fill her. That was around the time she had followed Ferris. She’d have no alibi.