LAUNCH PAD Contest: Boosting You Out of the Slush Pile is on a mission: to search the galaxy and seek out a new Grand Prize winner.
Today we're orbiting above the planet Suspense/Crime/Mystery/Thriller (weird name for a planet, huh?) and have discovered a category winner there.
One judge said, "This is definitely a book I would keep reading... I was drawn to the characters..." The other called it a fast-moving story with a well developed plot, observing that even the synopsis was riveting. Both judges liked the Memphis setting and the fact that the protagonist is with the ATF rather than being a city cop or detective, as is usually are found in crime stories.
But I won't keep you in suspense any longer (that was supposed to be a pun, in case you hadn't picked up on that): the first category winner of this year's contest is Fatal Assignment, by Loretta Eidson of Byhalia, Mississippi. Please enjoy the opening chapters of her story:
Two punks emerged from an alley blocking her on the sidewalk. The waistlines of their jeans
“Hey yo pretty mama, where ya going with them hot drinks?” The guy with the missing tooth reached for the coffee carrier. “Sho will warm us up.”
Special Agent Angie Drummonds turned it away from his reach only to face the taller one with the green coat. “Sorry guys, these are taken.”
Green coat leaned into her face. His body odor mixed with sour breath was deadly. “And we’re doin’ the takin’.”
She squared her shoulders back and clenched her jaw in anticipation of an attack. Her self-defense training at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms served her well.
Green coat jerked the coffee carrier from her, while missing tooth pulled the sack from her grip.
Take that kind of crap from these punks, no. A firm swift kick to the groin sent green coat to the ground. She spun, catching the coffee while pulling her weapon. Missing tooth threw the sack at her feet and tossed his hands in the air.
“Back off. I won’t be so nice next time.”
“We’s cool.” Green coat moaned as he stood. Continuing to hold their hands up, they inched backward. “We’s just foolin’ with ya.” When they reached the broken concrete of the alley entrance they ran and disappeared around the back corner of the downtown liquor store.
Angie slid her pistol back into her purse. A small crowd of tourists wearing matching Elvis t-shirts cheered her as they dispersed. Smiling, she scooped the sack off the ground.
Drawing attention wasn’t her idea of being inconspicuous. Let some punks get the best of her? Not after that attack in Chicago. Heading straight to the stake-out van would have to wait until the crowd was gone. She leaned against the liquor store’s brick wall until everyone was gone. New faces strolled past without a glance in her direction. It was safe to continue her journey.
Raymond’s Electrical Service van with Mechanical Engineers written in yellow under the title was parked at the curb. Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Billy Decker had cleverly disguised his mobile undercover surveillance office. She approached the rear door of the van and lightly tapped as Decker instructed when she called about getting in on more of the action. He eased it open.
Decker looked younger than she’d expected, but her coworkers at the hotel warned her not to challenge his genius IQ. Baggy blue jeans, plaid flannel shirt, and Nike tennis shoes allowed him to blend in on the streets.
Her eyebrows lifted. “Agent Decker.”
“Agent Drummonds. Saw you walk up.” He pointed at the short circuit camera. “Thought you’d never get here.” He shuffled papers and trash, clearing the extra chair.
“Just call me Angie. Sorry about the time. I had a slight delay. Two young thugs thought the coffee was for them.” She climbed inside the van and stepped over the piles of trash at the foot of both seats.
Decker pushed the lock on the van door. “Just now? Which way did they go? Would you recognize them in a line-up?”
“Forget it. I handled the situation. Here, we still have breakfast.”
“From now on call me Handyman. I’ll come up with a name for you when I decide if you’re a fit for this job.” He opened the sack and smelled the delicious aroma. “I’m starved, thanks.”
She pressed her lips together. Working her way out of that desk job and finagling her way to a surveillance position put her another step closer to working the streets again. Aiding an undercover agent posing as a homeless man sounded intriguing and dangerous. Flirting with death didn’t bother her. She had nothing and no one to live for.
[to continue reading, click here.]