Hello everyone, and welcome back to another installment of The Murder Collection. Sorry for the delay in returning to the story! It was a close call in Part 2, with just over half of you wanting Dean to hide versus confronting the dangerous stranger.
The Murder Collection Blurb: Dean Stewart recently graduated from a prestigious art college in New York City. Riding the high of a major success that has put him in the spotlight of the art community, there’s tremendous pressure for Dean to unveil his next collection. The only problem is, he doesn’t have one. In fact, Dean hasn’t felt any inspiration in months, and the funds from his first major sale aren’t going to pay for his apartment and work studio forever.
Just when Dean can’t afford a single distraction, he gets noticed by homicide detective Jiro Watanabe, and not in a good way. Without warning, Dean is thrust into a world of mystery and murder, when all he wants is for Jiro to ask him out on a date that doesn’t involve the police station.
The art world just got a whole lot more cutthroat.
That seemed like an extremely sensible thing to do.
I turned and looked around the studio, scanning every nook and cranny I could shove myself into, but besides the water closet, my options were limited. It was an open floor plan with big tables and shelves of supplies.
Mob-Man Charlie smashed against the door again and the chair under the knob gave an ominous crunch.
I was a dead man.
Sweet Jesus. I was only twenty-two. I had student loan debt. I hadn’t been laid in six months.
What the fuck is going on?
Another crash against the door and I was running. I leapt onto a table in front of a window, reached up, and unlocked the top. I crouched down, shoved hard on the pane, and yanked it up just enough to wiggle out onto the fire escape. The cold winter air bit at my exposed hands and face as I ran along the metal support to the stairs, but something made me stop in my tracks.
What was Charlie going to do once he got into my studio?
Was he there for the soupy body in the closet?
If I ran now and didn’t find out what was going on, or at least know where the big dude went afterward, I mean… he could return at any point in my future. And it didn’t matter if I changed the locks, doors didn’t seem to stop him! If I couldn’t provide enough information, would the cops be able to find him?
I swallowed the nasty, sour taste in my mouth and hesitantly crept back. I ignored the fact that I was several stories above a busy New York street. Getting low, I glanced through the bit of open window in time to see the chair break and fly across the room as Charlie got inside.
He stepped over the threshold and looked around briefly, but the smell of decomp was kind of obvious, and he turned to the closet nearly immediately. Charlie tucked his gun into the waistband of his pants and walked to the far end of the room, back to me.
I leaned over a bit more, trying to get a good look at him around some supplies obstructing my view, but when I shifted my weight on the fire escape, something below me rattled.
I looked underneath, through the grates, and the lowest level’s ladder that drops to the street suddenly crashed down from its hold. The sound reverberated so loudly it made my bones shake. I looked back through the open window, and Charlie had spun around, meeting my gaze.
Crap. Mother fucking crap!
“Hey!” he shouted.
I scrambled to my feet and ran to the end of the escape, all but falling down the first set of stairs to the next level. Mob-man’s voice grew as he reached the window. Then the first shot rang out against the metal.
I think I screamed.
I’m not sure.
My life was condensed to tunnel vision. I saw nothing but the stairs to the last level. I lunged forward, slipping and sliding my way down. The fire escape shook as Charlie climbed onto it and chased after me.
Another shot cracked the air.
I swear the bullet whispered in my ear as it passed.
I reached the final ladder hanging down over the sidewalk.
Another shot. I ducked my head.
CHOOSE DEAN’S ACTION!
- Dean climbs down the ladder.
- Dean jumps to the street below.
Please leave your choice in the comments below, and I’ll see you in June with Part 4!
Down on his luck is Gideon Joy’s default state. He doesn’t know why he expected anything different on his cross-country trip, but not surprisingly, the hits keep coming—literally this time. Gideon strikes a moose with his car in New Hampshire, not only totaling his own vehicle, but damaging one belonging to local construction worker Silas Bright. He has no choice but to stay in Lancaster and take a job that’ll pay for the repairs. And in a town so small, Gideon’s always running into Silas. What starts as annoyance between them soon blooms into something much more romantic. But when Gideon’s notorious bad luck rears its head yet again, how many disastrous dates will Silas be willing to weather before realizing Gideon’s not worth it?
Despite Gideon’s desire to remain in the quaint community that has accepted him as one of their own, past fears of inadequacy threaten the very joy he left Los Angeles to discover. If he’s to find a happily ever after with Silas, Gideon must learn that sometimes it’s okay to not be the best. And true happiness might be waiting in a small town nestled among the great White Mountains.
States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.
She is a reluctant mover and has called many places home in her lifetime. C.S. has lived in New York City, Key West, and Ibaraki, Japan, to name a few. She misses the cleanliness, convenience, and limited edition gachapon of Japan, but she was never very good at riding bikes to get around.
She has an affinity for all things cute and colorful, and a major weakness for toys. C.S. is an avid fan of coffee, reading, and cats. She’s rescued three cats, including one found in a drain pipe in Japan who flew back to the States with her. Zak, Milo, and Kasper do their best on a daily basis to sidetrack her from work.
C.S. is a member of the International Thriller Writers Organization.