When acclaimed pianist Nicholas Kalman discovers his lover’s dead body, he sets out alone to find her killer. During his journey, he meets an unwitting female accomplice who soon becomes determined to help Nicholas wield his retaliation. Following a parallel path for justice, Steven Hawk, the deputy of a sleepy Southern county, is assigned to the case. Pursuing the investigation, Hawk finds himself entangled in a world of vengeance, greed and manipulation.
Performed against the backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, Staccato transports readers to a behind-the-scenes glimpse of professional musicians, the psychological twists and turns of its characters, and in the end, retribution that crashes in a crescendo of notes played at the literary pace of a maestro’s staccato.
Staccato is the first novel of the Steven Hawk/Inola Walela thriller trilogy.
No. It can’t be . . .
He didn’t have the courage to look at her closely, so he repositioned the body, then dragged the cloth sack beyond her shoulders.
The sweet scent of gardenias and rosewater hit him with blunt force. His gut churned, a lump formed in his throat, strangling his whimper.
Mind racing, he swept the hair from the corpse’s face. He cupped her head in his hands and bent inches from her. Blood slammed to his brain, ringing in his ears deafened him. He managed to utter a guttural growl.
God, no, not Elaine. The one person he trusted completely. She, who had unselfishly relished his triumphs and filled his days and nights with excitement and passion.
He could do nothing but stare at her beautiful, porcelain face, now turned ashen, expressionless. She had been his salvation. He mourned every time they were apart, rejoiced once they reunited. He would never see her again, be with her, love her.
Nicholas wrapped his shaking arms around Elaine’s body and rocked her. Tears coursed down his cheeks. He mumbled her name again and again. After a long time, he lifted her from the tumble on the floor, swept the bag from her body and crumpled the cloth into a ball at her feet. Placing her carefully in a seated position on the passenger seat, he smoothed her hair and took her limp head in his hands. He kissed his lover’s waxen forehead and released her limp body. Pulling the seat belt tight, he snapped her securely in place.
His entire body shook as he shut the door, then paced in front of the car and raked his hands through his hair. Thoughts of retribution filled his raging mind. Vows of revenge rocked the core of his being. He opened his arms and lifted his head to the misty sky. A wail of anguish emitted from deep inside him, rising in intensity until he expelled no more sound. He thrust himself forward and crashed his fists down on the hood of the Porsche.
The cacophony of sound echoed throughout the parking lot, mixing with his strangled sobs.
Deborah J Ledford is a three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize. Her award-winning short stories appear in the print publications Arizona Literary Magazine, Forge Journal, Twisted Dreams Magazine, AnthologyBuilder, and two Red Coyote Press mystery anthologies. Her latest stories appear in the Gulf Coast Writers Association anthology “Sweet Tea and Afternoon Tales” and the Sisters in Crime anthology, “How Not to Survive the Holidays.” A flash fiction piece is presented via podcast at Sniplits.
Click here to read the first chapter: Staccato