Today I am so happy to be helping out in the week-long, new release party for Kristi Cramer’s novel, Last Shot at Justice!
Detective Mitzi Reardon just became the prime suspect in a murder she didn’t commit. On the run from enemies and coworkers alike, Mitzi must put her trust in Blue Thomas, an old-school cowboy from Kansas. Against all odds, they must bring the real killer to justice.
As a trap closes around them, Mitzi devises a bold escape strategy that may just get both of them killed.
“Kristi Cramer knows how to keep the suspense pumping in this never-a-dull-moment thriller.” Calvin Dean, author of Curses, A Door Unlocked, and The Epitaph of Jonas Barloff.
“Stunning dialogue between the characters. Humorous and action-packed. Blue feels like a real person.” N.D. Taylor, author of The Spellbound Consortium series of Urban Fantasy.
Last Shot at Justice is A Thomas Family Novel, a series of suspenseful standalone novels featuring characters connected to the Thomas Family of Syracuse, Kansas. (Series was formerly titled The Boys of Syracuse, Kansas.)
Mitzi looked to see the cowboy holding his coat open, inviting her to step under it. “I’m all right,” she demurred.
“You’re wet enough,” he said. “Walk with me under here and you won’t get worse.”
She almost protested, then realized she might be less conspicuous outside if she accepted his offer. She stepped under his proffered arm and stretched one arm across his waist to latch onto his belt, the other pulled his coat close around her. He was so much taller than her that she fit right under his arm, and his coat formed a tent above her. Most important to her at the moment was the fact that he was warm, and big enough to offer real protection against the danger she was in—though it went against all her training to involve him.
In the moment before they moved, she studied his face again. Lightly tanned skin, high cheekbones, strong chin, straight nose. Fair-colored brows slightly furrowed above curious brown eyes that softened his otherwise angular face. His mild, vaguely bemused expression suggested she had nothing to worry about. From him.
Stepping out the door into the pouring rain, he guided her to the right. There was no one on the street outside the 8-Ball Tavern, and she breathed a sigh of relief before urging the man along. He looked down at her from beneath his cowboy hat and walked faster.
Lord, he’s a monster, she thought. He seemed pretty clueless about what was going on though. She figured he must be one of those more-brawn-than-brains football lineman types, which was just as well. He wouldn’t ask questions, and she could go on her way in the morning without worrying that he would get in trouble on her account.
A man in a gray raincoat rounded the corner, looking the other way, and bumped into them. Mitzi thought he looked like the man she hadn’t recognized at the murder scene.
“Pardon us, mister,” the cowboy whom the bartender had called Blue said, turning her aside to pass him. She tried not to physically shrink away.
The man grabbed her escort’s arm, and Blue turned.
Mitzi peered out from inside the coat as the man sized Blue up, then glanced at her.
“She all right?”
She tightened her arm around his waist, and Blue nodded slowly, spoke even slower. “My sister’s just a little drunk. I gotta take her home to Daddy or he’ll skin me alive.”
The man gave her another glance, then nodded. “Better take care of her, then.” His tone dripped with sarcasm that the cowboy didn’t even acknowledge.
“You can be sure, mister.”
The two of them walked around the corner and Mitzi suddenly found it hard to stand on her own two feet, much less walk. When she stumbled, Blue scooped her up as easily as she might pick up a bag of Mr. Tuggles’ cat food and carried her to a beat-up brown Dodge pickup.
Without setting her down, Blue pulled the passenger door open and set her inside. He peered at her briefly from under the brim of his hat, a small worried frown turning thin lips down. Then he withdrew and closed the door, shutting her inside while the rain poured down like bullets on the metal of the truck.
Shivering, she reached over to unlock his door only to discover it wasn’t locked.
He opened the driver’s door and slid onto the seat, glancing at her as he closed the door. Without a word, he turned the engine over and started driving away. She slumped down in the seat so she couldn’t be seen from outside and looked up to see him adjusting the heater setting.
“Is that your real name? Blue?”
He nodded without taking his eyes from the road. The wipers flashed across the windshield to sweep away the heavy rain.
“Where’re you from, Blue?”
“Kansas, ma’am. Close by Syracuse.”
“Well, thank you for doing this for me.” The truck had picked up speed after making a few turns, and she figured they were far enough away that she could sit up. It was nearly impossible to tell where they were, though judging by the increasing hills they were heading west, away from Mile High Stadium. “How well do you know Denver?”
“Not very. I’ve only been here a couple weeks.” He squinted out the window, searching for street signs.
“Do you know where we are?”
“Well now, I think I missed my turn a ways back.”
Headlights appeared in the darkness behind them, and Mitzi turned to look out the back window. The car was coming fast, and she let out a creative oath.
“I need to turn around,” he said.
“Do it later.”
“I’ll find our way to your place. Right now, I want you to lose the car that’s behind us.” She put as much authority in her voice as she could and hoped he would do as she instructed.
Before he could say anything, the car behind them turned on police lights and flashed headlights to signal him to pull over.
“It’s the police,” he said in surprise, starting to pull over.
She jerked the wheel back, sending the truck lurching away from the curb. “Don’t stop. Lose them.”
“Listen, I don’t have license plates; they’re after me.”
“No, Blue! If you pull over, I’m dead. You understand?” She tried to push her foot down on the accelerator.
“Come on. They don’t shoot hookers on sight. Just let me….”
The unmarked police car behind them bumped them lightly, and Blue gently but inexorably pushed her away from the driver’s side of the truck and pulled over under a street light. “Just sit tight,” he told her. “Nothing’s going to happen to you.”
“Blue!” she struggled against his restraining hand, but she could only move away from him—she couldn’t make him drive away.
Behind them, the passenger side of the police car opened up, and a man in a raincoat stepped out. She struggled harder as she recognized the man they’d bumped into. Instead of heading to Blue’s door, he headed for her side of the truck.
“Please,” she said, turning frantically to Blue. “He’s going to kill me!”