Authors: Cheryl Bradshaw
Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Mystery & Detective
|Black Diamond Death|
|Sloan Monroe |
|Tags:||Fiction, General, Mystery & Detective|
The writing and editing are excellent, the characters are interesting, and the plot kept me hooked. The balance between action and detecting worked perfectly. The main character was a masterpiece. --Edward G. Talbot, Author of New World Orders
The tone reminded me of Robert B. Parker's novels, so if you're missing the likes of Spenser and Sunny Randall, I'd say that Cheryl Bradshaw looks to be a worthy successor. Highly recommended! --Chris Stout, Author of Days of Reckoning
While I've found most mystery/thrillers to be rehashes of the same old plot line, this novel was refreshingly new/original. It is a new twist on the PI murder-mystery with a few nice surprises along the way. --Jack Murphy, Author of PROMIS: Vietnam
Born and raised in Southern California, Cheryl Bradshaw became interested in writing at a young age. "As a child I made up stories for my sister. The most vivid centered around a boy and a girl who received a piece of gum for Halloween, and when they chewed it, they were transported to a magical land where they were granted unlimited wishes." In grade school Cheryl remembers reading the stories of Judy Blume. This was something her teacher was concerned about since she was reading at a level much higher than her own, but Cheryl didn't allow that to dissuade her. In High School, Cheryl signed up for AP English and Creative Writing and discovered not only a love for books, but a passion for writing short stories and poems. Her poetry was published in the schools Looking Glass. After graduating, she attended college where she first realized her dream to write suspense novels, but it would be almost two decades before she put pen to paper. In the meantime, Cheryl pursued other interests - earning a Montessori degree, obtaining a license in real estate and working as a copy editor for ten years. Being an editor gave her the nudge she needed to get back into writing. In 2009 Cheryl wrote her first novel, Black Diamond Death (the first book in her Sloane Monroe series). "The first book is a mystery that provides plenty of twists and keeps the reader guessing. My next book is a thriller and a lot darker." Sinnerman, the second book in the series, is currently being written and leads Sloane on a search for a serial killer where she's forced to face a past she's tried hard to forget. When she's not hard at work writing her next novel, Cheryl is an avid reader and loves to travel. "Every place I visit offers inspiration in one form or another which I draw from when I'm writing. I chose Park City as Sloane's humble abode because I lived there and have a fondness for the quaint little town which I visit often." Cheryl currently resides in Wyoming with her husband and their three children.
Black Diamond Death
Kindle Edition Copyright (c) 2011 by Cheryl Bradshaw
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, businesses, and incidents either are the products of the author’s imagination or are used in a fictitious manner. Any similarity to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and should be recognized as such.
First edition eBook March 2011
Cover Photo Copyright 2008 (c) barsik at bigstock.com
Cover Design Copyright 2011 (c) Julie Ortolon
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or transmitted, in any form, or by any means whatsoever (electronic, mechanical, or otherwise) without the prior written permission and consent of the author. www.cherylbradshaw.com
To Justin for believing I can do anything
And to Kylie for the miracle that you are in my life
And to Grandpa Butch—I miss you
You can fool all the people some of the time,
and some of the people all the time,
but you cannot fool all the people all the time.
The air was calm, but I was restless. I had a decision to make so I did what I always do when push comes to shove—I shoved back, but not in the way one might think. Skiing had always been my release. There was something about being surrounded by fresh powder in the clean, open air that reminded me what it felt like to be alive. I could stand on a mountaintop with a world of trouble on my mind, and it didn’t matter. Every care I had dissolved just like the snow soon would and the mountain would be reduced to tiny patches of white, mere remnants of a ski slope that once provided the town’s entertainment for the season.
In a few minutes I’d get together with Audrey for lunch and do something that didn’t come easy—tell her the truth. It wasn’t that I lied to her; I was a master in the fine art of keeping things to myself. I always thought it was better that way. But I was wrong to allow her limited access to my life, and I wanted to change that. So I’d explain it all to her, and once I finished I would reveal my plan and hope she’d understand. She just had to.
I rounded the last narrow pass on the slope and traveled downhill through the trees. My tongue had gone numb over the past couple hours and every time my teeth hit against it I felt nothing, like it wasn’t even there, and my throat felt like a strand of lit matches were pressed hard against it. I wondered if I was getting sick. That would explain the unrest in my stomach. The flu had made its way around town so it made sense that it would make it to me, but if it
the flu, why had I lost all the feeling in my face?
I ran my gloved hand across my goggles, but it didn’t help—even when I squeezed my eyes shut and opened them again the trail in front of me was a blur. With what little force I had left, I jammed my poles into the snow and tried to stop, but the slope was too steep and I couldn’t bend my hands or even move them for that matter. My fingers felt like long shards of ice and in one simultaneous motion they launched a mass of frozen liquid throughout my body.
What was happening to me?
In a panic I gasped for air, but there wasn’t any. I tried to cry out, but I was alone, and in my hysteria it hit me. I had felt a similar feeling before—like my body was giving out on me, and I knew what it meant.
I was dying.
15 MINUTES LATER
The car skidded across the road making an
sound, the kind of sound that propels people from their chairs and to the window to catch a glimpse of the train wreck taking place outside. Only I was on a lonely stretch of road with nothing but the spinning of pine trees as they swirled around me. In desperation I struggled to remember the words my grandfather told me:
Don’t slam on the brake, tap it. Don’t turn the wheel in the direction of the skid, rotate away from it
. Or was it to turn into the skid, and why couldn’t I remember?
The wheels gripped the road in an attempt to regain traction. I tapped the brake and fought off the urge to slam both heels into the pedal. The car lurched from side to side and then steadied and then it was all over. I regained control of the wheel and continued to wind around the tortuous road. A minute later I glimpsed the wrought iron entrance to the resort and breathed a sigh of relief.
A boy outfitted in padded black trousers, a black and white ski jacket, and gloves waved me over when I drove in.
“Hello ma’am,” he said. “Welcome to Wildwood. Valet?”
He lifted his gloved hand and pointed toward the resort.
“Drive around this corner to the round-a-bout and give your keys to Phil at the front. He’ll take good care of you.”
Wildwood, Park City’s newest ski resort, attracted a diverse group of guests from locals to celebrities. I entered through distressed cedar doors with hand forged pinecone door pulls into a marbled foyer. A chandelier cascaded over my head that mimicked the style of the door pulls. I glanced around the room and felt a sense of familiarity to the place. Sepia tone photographs adorned the walls of the Daily Mining Company circa 1890 and Historic Main Street before the fire scintillated in 1897 and destroyed over 200 businesses and homes. In other towns, a fire of that magnitude left a ghost town in its wake, but not here. Parkites were strong and proud, and they remained to build the city back up again.
In the corner of the room a fire beguiled me to absorb its warmth. I removed my gloves and stuck both hands inside. Across the room groups of skiers hustled back and forth through the hallway eager to reach the lift and soar to their destinations. I allowed time for my fingers to thaw and then fell in line at the front desk. After a short wait, a girl held up two fingers and summoned me. She wore a fitted red suit coat accented with little bronze buttons to match her little bronze nametag. Her not-so-natural bleach blond locks were pulled back into a tight bun and fastened with silver hairclips. She looked like the female version of a nutcracker. A couple bright pink circles painted on her pale cheeks were all she needed to complete the look.
“Well hi there,” she said. “Welcome to Wildwood Resort. What can I do for you today?”
“I’m here to see Marty Langston.”
“Do you have an appointment?”
She batted her false eyelashes at me and smiled.
“What’s the name?”
“And the last name?”
She picked up the phone receiver and pressed a few buttons and waited.
“Mr. Langston? There’s a woman at the front desk to see you by the name of Sloane Monroe. What’s that—oh, sure. I’ll tell her.”
“He’ll be right with you,” she said. “He’s in a meeting and said for you to sit tight. He won’t be more than a minute or two.”
I sat in an oversized leather chair and waited.
Marty emerged from a corner office a minute later dressed in a fitted suit and a loosened necktie. His rimless glasses matched his squared off jaw line. He extended his arms and pulled me close.
“Sloane my dear, it’s good to see you,” he said.
I reached for his tie and straightened it.
“How’s the new CEO?”
“On about two hours of sleep a night and all the coffee I can stand.” He ran his hand through his hair and turned his head back and forth a few times. “How do you like that? It’s more salt than pepper every day.”
“It looks great on you,” I said.
His eyes angled downward.
“You’ve got a coat on large enough to stow a small army in, but flip-flops, on a day like this?”
“Shoes are overrated,” I said.
He extended his hands out to both sides.
“So what do you think? Have you checked the place out at all since you got here?”
I shook my head.
“What about lunch, are you hungry?”
“I’ll take some tea if you got it,” I said.
“Let’s grab a couple drinks and I’ll show you around.”
The resort cafe included three sections: a quaint bar area, a much larger open dining section with tables and chairs in varied sizes, and a more intimate section with arched windows that was lined with tables for two. On the opposite side from where I stood were some angled windows that overlooked part of a ski run. From my vantage point I watched a skier schuss her way downhill.
“Black tea if memory serves?” he said.
He handed me an empty cup and signaled the waiter and then glanced out the window.
“Spectacular view isn’t it?” he said.
“Fantastic,” I said.
“So how about it?”
“How about what?”
With his finger he indicated in the direction of a group of people outside who appeared to be on skis for the first time.
“Say the word and I’ll make it happen.”
“I’m much more of a beach bunny than a snow bunny,” I said.
“It’s never too late to change.”
The bunny slope wasn’t my idea of a good time. It made no sense to me why anyone subjected themselves to zero-degree temperatures when they could appreciate the mounds of white from indoors while they nestled by the glow of a stoked fire. Cold was my kryptonite and yet I liked it here. Hell, I loved it even. From the moment my feet brushed the soil seventeen years earlier something inside me changed. It was like I had been transported to another place in time where I could leave the past behind and bask in the tranquility the ski town offered me.
The cafe was deserted except for one other person, a woman seated in the open dining section. She had long blond hair and knockers the size of grapefruits, my guess DD. Her shirt was tight enough to bounce a quarter off of it.
The waiter returned with our drinks.
“Don’t think for a minute I can’t see what you’re doing,” he said.
“And what’s that?”
A few more skiers whizzed by and I drank my tea and deflected in silence.