HEA shares an excerpt from romantic suspense Beneath the Surface by Lynn H. Blackburn, arriving tomorrow.
About the book:
After a harrowing experience with an obsessed patient, oncology nurse practitioner Leigh Weston needed a change. She thought she’d left her troubles behind when she moved home to Carrington, North Carolina, and took a job in the emergency department of the local hospital. But when someone tampers with her brakes, she fears the past has chased her into the present. She reaches out to her high school friend turned homicide investigator, Ryan Parker, for help.
Ryan finds satisfaction in his career, but his favorite way to use his skills is as a volunteer underwater investigator with the Carrington County Sheriff’s Office dive team. When the body of a wealthy businessman is discovered in Lake Porter, the investigation uncovers a possible serial killer—one with a terrifying connection to Leigh Weston and deadly implications for them all.
Dive into the depths of fear with an exciting new voice in romantic suspense. Award-winning author Lynn H. Blackburn grabs readers by the throat and doesn’t let go until the final heart-pounding page.
“She okay with us being here?” Anissa asked as soon as Ryan returned to the dock.
“Great with it. No problems.”
“Good. How do you know her again?”
“She grew up here in this house. Her brother, Kirk, is one of my best friends. He and I were in the same class. She was a couple years behind me.”
Ryan ignored Anissa’s speculative look. Nothing romantic had ever happened between him and Leigh. He’d be willing to bet Leigh didn’t know Kirk had made it clear to anyone and everyone that she was off-limits.
“She’s a nurse, right? How can she afford a place like this?” Anissa turned in a circle on the dock. It was a beautiful home on a prime piece of lakefront real estate.
“Nurse practitioner. And she’s not a suspect.”
“I’m not saying she is. I’m simply asking a question.”
It annoyed him that Anissa was so logical about this, but she didn’t know Leigh and her question was valid. “Her dad was a lawyer and then a judge here in town. Both parents were in their late forties when they decided to adopt. Kirk from Bolivia. Leigh from China.”
“Mr. Weston passed away five years ago. Heart attack. Mrs. Weston passed last year. Cancer.”
“Leigh lives alone?”
“I assume so. I haven’t heard anything about a roommate. She moved back to town around Christmas. Kirk called and asked me to keep an eye out for her.” Leigh probably didn’t know that either. Or that Kirk had told him about the stalker that had prompted her move back to Carrington.
Anissa nodded. “How well do you suppose she knows the security system here?”
Based on her motivation for moving home, he’d guess quite well. “Why?”
“Looks like there are a few security cameras pointing in this direction. Wondering if we could get some footage of a boat out on the lake.”
“It’s a long shot,” he said.
“What’s with you? It’s like you’re looking for the most remote possibilities and we haven’t even explored the most logical ones. Are you ticked Captain Mitchell gave me the case?”
He was on call, so the case should have been his anyway, but he’d caught the last couple of big cases and there’d been some speculation that the next big one would go to Anissa regardless.
“No. Not at all.” Her quick denial seemed genuine. “I’ll be happy to handle the underwater aspect of the investigation and leave the rest of it to you. It’s just …”
She sighed. “This one feels like it could go cold in a hurry.”
He bristled at her remark. It was too soon to go there. They’d found the body only a few hours ago.
“We’ll find the killer.” He had to believe that.
Anissa didn’t respond. Just checked her watch and turned her gaze to the lake.
“Who’s under?” he asked.
“Adam and Lane. They should be coming up soon.”
“Have they found anything else?” They’d already found weights, chains, and a piece of plywood, all stuff that could have been used in the dumping of the body.
Anissa’s face darkened. “No.”
The helicopter made several passes over the lake. Probably the news crew getting some B-roll for tonight’s newscast. Or maybe they were live. He tried to ignore them as he waited for Adam and Lane to resurface.
It had taken a while to return the body to the surface. Recovering someone from that depth was something all of them had practiced but had never done with a real body. Their training and adherence to procedures had paid off. The recovery had gone smoothly and safely.
The body was missing not only his head and hands but also his feet. The depth and cold temperatures of the lake water had slowed decomposition, but the medical examiner, Dr. Sharon Oliver, was going to have a forensic anthropologist come out on Monday to take a look at the body anyway.
The good news was Ryan liked the anthropologist. She was a brilliant woman who had a great working relationship with the sheriff’s office. The bad news was that it meant he wouldn’t have any sort of identification until Monday afternoon at the earliest.
Adam and Lane resurfaced, and the team assembled on the end of Leigh’s dock.
“What do we have to do to make the chopper go away?” Gabe asked no one in particular. Ryan patted him on the shoulder. “Just keep your head down, man.” Gabe had issues with having his picture taken. Working undercover would do that to a man.
“Fine.” He stared at the dock. “I’m game to go back down, but I’m not sure we’re going to find the rest of this guy. Why bother cutting off his extremities if you’re going to dump them nearby?” Gabe said. “The murderer tossed them somewhere else.”
“Or kept them,” Adam said.
A collective groan rose from the group.
“What?” White-collar crimes investigator Adam Campbell refused to back down. “You may not want to say it out loud, and I know”—he held up a hand toward Anissa as she was about to interrupt him—“I know we don’t have any evidence yet. But if someone goes to the trouble to cut everything off, then truss him up with that much weight and throw him overboard in one of the deepest parts of the lake? That takes planning. We can’t ignore the possibility that the killer might be a collector.”
No one argued the point.
Because no one could. It didn’t take an FBI profiler to know whoever did this was seriously messed up.
But a collector? Could they have a serial killer running loose in central North Carolina?
“Could be a gang,” Gabe said. “I can think of at least three that could be behind something like this. Although I didn’t think they’d gotten a foothold in Carrington.”
Vicious gangs or serial killers? Either way, something bad was going on in his town. Ryan reined in his thoughts. All of this was conjecture. They needed proof. “We’ll start with the facts and follow them wherever they lead.” He looked at each person on the team as he continued. “We’ll explore every possibility. For now, let’s finish searching the grids we laid out earlier. I don’t want to find out later that there was a clue and we missed it.”
The huddle disbanded, and Ryan and Gabe prepared to descend again.
“How was Leigh?” Gabe asked.
“Fine.” He checked the gauges on his tanks.
“I bet she was,” Gabe said under his breath.
“Wait a minute. How do you know Leigh?”
“I’ve seen her around.”
“Emergency department. Church. She’s exquisite. Especially if you like girls with long black hair who move with the kind of confidence and grace she does. She patched me up a few times. Her hands are quite delicate.”
Ryan didn’t respond.
“Your silence only makes me think that not only do you agree with me, but you don’t like me talking about it.”
Excerpt used by permission from Beneath the Surface by Lynn H. Blackburn, copyright 2018 (Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group).
Lynn H. Blackburn
Lynn H. Blackburn is the author of Hidden Legacy (Love Inspired, June 2017) and Covert Justice, winner of the 2016 Selah Award for Mystery and Suspense and the 2016 Carol Award for Short Novel. Blackburn believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists, a gift from the Truest Love. She’s passionate about CrossFit, coffee and chocolate (don’t make her choose) and experimenting with recipes that feed both body and soul. She lives in Simpsonville, South Carolina, with her true love, Brian, and their three children.
Find out more at lynnhblackburn.com.