It’s ironic I crossed the fifty-thousand-word mark before the end of the challenge when it wasn’t my goal.
Remember, my project was to add 30K to an existing WIP.
Which now means… I have too many w-o-r-d-s.
The first draft edit will be epic. Darlings will be killed… or at least removed, to be reincarnated as blurbs and teasers somewhere down the line.
Time for another unedited excerpt from Sins of the Mother.
Exhausted and annoyed, Sally Bennett wanted answers.
Two hours after fighting a masked attacker for her life, three different detectives approached her three different times asking the same questions.
But no one would answer her questions.
Who was the attacker?
Had he been arrested?
How did he get inside the Ramirez home?
She understood they had a job to do but it didn’t annoy her any less.
Sally was comforted knowing Graciela was safe.
She interrupted the attack on Graciela before the intruder could do any real harm, but at Sally’s urging, the gutsy senior citizen allowed paramedics to take her to the emergency room at the hospital where Estelle worked.
Her adrenaline rush gone, Sally sat like a leaden weight on neighbor Nina Arrens’ sofa wrapped in a blanket.
The kind woman who’d pulled Sally and Graciela inside her home misread Sally’s earlier shivers for cold instead of fear and had been trying to keep her warm ever since.
Two of Sally’s interrogators stood near the door taking furtive glances in her direction as they spoke.
The embers of anger smoldered in Sally’s chest.
Calm down, Bennett. This is the job they do every day.
But violence in her life was something new to Sally and she didn’t appreciate being treated as though she did something wrong.
She wanted to go home.
No, that wasn’t true. Frankie was away and she’d be alone with her thoughts at home. She needed her husband, or one of her children, or at least one familiar face who knew her before the worst day of her life began.
A third detective joined the two watching her.
Sally didn’t recognize him, but he also stared at her while trying to act like he wasn’t.
Her jaws tightened as her anger grew.
He walked toward her, taking a pad and pen from his jacket pocket.
“Mrs. Bennett, I’m Det. -”
“No, I didn’t know the man. No, I don’t know how he got in, and no, I didn’t notice anyone watching the house earlier in the evening.”
She smirked at his surprised reaction.
“I guess my detectives have been pretty thorough tonight.”
“Only at asking questions. They suck at giving answers.”
Sally knew she was being rude, but her frazzled nerves were at the breaking point.
He sat down on the sofa next to her, resting his elbows on his knees.
“I’m Detective Sergeant Gavin Marks and I do apologize if it’s seemed like my squad is ignoring you, Mrs. Bennett. We’re still trying to sort things out.”
His apology did nothing to calm her.
“Well, the city’s been on edge ever since the attacks on elderly women began. At first glance, Mrs. Ramirez’s case fits.”
“At first glance?”
“Yes. While the other victims were alone in their homes, they were all senior citizens in poor health or recovering from illness or surgery. This case fits… except for your presence.”
“Me? What’s this got to do with -” She froze, realizing what he meant.
“So, you’re saying the attacker expected Graciela to be alone? But how? I was subbing for another woman from our service. And we were only needed because Estelle Ramirez couldn’t change her shift.”
Det. Marks considered her before continuing.
“That narrows things down even more.”
Sally let the blanket fall from her shoulders as she scrubbed her hands over her face. Confusion wasn’t mixing well with her fatigue.
Then she got it.
Her mouth gaped open at the thought. No, it wasn’t possible.
“Det., you think Graciela was targeted through Angels Assist? That’s crazy.”
“Like I said, we’re still sorting this out, but I’m trying to keep an open mind.”
“But there aren’t many men associated with the agency—no male volunteers, and all the male staff members are up in age too. They work as drivers and deliver meals.”
He made a few quick notes.
“No one’s mentioned that to me tonight. It’s worth looking into.”
Sally bit her lip lost in thought, trying to figure out the connections.
Marks cleared his throat.
“I’m sorry, Det., did you say something?”
“I’m sure you’re exhausted, ma’am, and I promise to get you home soon. But, please, walk with me through this to see if we’re missing anything. Okay?”
She exhaled roughly. “Okay. Fine.”
He glanced at his notes again before beginning.
“Estelle Ramirez made the eye surgery appointment for her mom twelve days ago. She also put in a request for the week off from her job the same day.
Human Resources approved her time off the next day, with the exception of the current shift because the other two charge nurses were already scheduled off. The HR department posted the shift on the hospital extra-duty website for three days, with no takers. Before committing to the rest of the time off, Estelle called the eye clinic to if it was possible to move her mother’s appointment. It couldn’t be done, but one of the nurses there told her about Angels Assist… and that’s where you come into the story.”
“Well, not me exactly.”
Marks frowned, puzzled. “I don’t understand.”
“I work part-time as a services scheduler for the agency. There are two of us. Mona Ingram set up Graciela’s overnight with Kristen, one of our volunteers. After the last attack, her husband insisted she quit. Her call was routed to me yesterday and when I couldn’t find anyone… I took the position.”
Marks was silent for several minutes, adding to his notes before continuing.
“You do that often, Mrs. Bennett… cover appointments?”
Sally shrugged. “Once or twice a month—depends on the workload versus personnel.”
Gavin Marks rubbed his brow, mulling over these new details.
“Is something wrong, Det.?”
“Remember I said this case fits the attacker’s profile at first glance?”
“Well, it’s a wide glance. After two months, we still haven’t found a connection in the first four attacks… or a lead.” He stood. “But I’ll get my people on this when the city wakes up.”
He signaled to a uniformed officer in the foyer. The large African-American man walked over standing next to Gavin Marks, acknowledging Sally with a nod.
“I know you’ve declined medical treatment, Mrs. Bennett, but I don’t think it’s a bad idea for you to go in and get checked out.”
“I’m fine, Detective, really. He didn’t hurt me. Just rattled my nerves.”
“Then I’ll let you go, but I’ll try to answer some of the questions you asked my detectives.”
“Your attacker was carrying no identification, so we don’t know who he is. Crime scene techs found the framing around the dining room window stripped away. He probably used a crowbar or screwdriver. And no ma’am, he hasn’t been arrested because he’s dead.”
Day 29 word count – 50,329