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Authors: Emily Kimelman

Tags: #Mystery: Cozy - P.I. and Dog - Manhattan

Emily Kimelman - Sydney Rye 02 - Death in the Dark

BOOK: Emily Kimelman - Sydney Rye 02 - Death in the Dark
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Emily Kimelman - Sydney Rye 02 - Death in the Dark
Sydney Rye [2]
Emily Kimelman
CreateSpace (2012)
Tags:
Mystery: Thriller - P.I. and Dog - Manhattan
NOVELLA
Joy Humbolt is hiding, not only from the law, but also from her past and the mistakes she's made. Living this isolated life doesn't last long, though, when a visit from Mulberry brings Joy to accept her new identity as the private detective, Sydney Rye.
To complete the transformation, Joy must learn to control her emotions as well as her giant aggressive dog, Blue. With the help of an expert trainer, Joy learns to fight with her mind as well as her body. However, when the daughter of a close friend is brutally murdered in the desert, Rye turns away from her mentor to seek revenge. Sydney's quick temper and deadly intentions lead her into a trap where she will need all of her new skills to survive.

Death in the Dark

 

Emily Kimelman

 

 

 

Copyright © 2012 Emily Kimelman

All rights reserved.

Cover Illustration by Autumn Whitehurst

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For my parents, who are always there for me.

 

 

 

Books by Emily Kimelman

 

Unleashed
(A Sydney Rye Novel, #1)

Death in the Dar
k
(A Sydney Rye Novella, #2)

Insatiable
(A Sydney Rye Novella, #3)

 

 

 

To learn more about Emily and her Sydney Rye series visit
www.emilykimelman.com
or get in touch on twitter
@ejkimelman
and
Facebook

 

 

 

LIES, TRUTH, AND DARES

 

 

“Wait!” My voice strained against the wind blowing off the Sea of Cortez. I pushed through the sand, running after him. My dog, Blue, stayed by my side, his gait lopsided. Mulberry was a slow-moving figure several yards ahead of me. Solid looking in the hazy light of dusk, he took his time crossing the sand.

He didn’t turn until I grabbed his arm. “Wait,” I panted. “You’re right. I need your help.”

Mulberry grinned, pushing his crow’s feet into sharp relief as his yellow-green eyes brightened. “I know,” he laughed. “You’re such a fucking mess.”

Mulberry wrapped me in a hug with one strong arm around my waist and the other across my shoulders. He buried his head in my hair and pulled my face into his chest. At first, in that dark intimacy, I felt like I was suffocating. Almost immediately, though, I felt relief wash over me. I was not totally alone in this world; my only companion a limping mutt.

Blue yelped, excited by our embrace, and circled us, churning up the sand. Mulberry smelled like clean laundry, sea salt, and carried an unmistakable odor that was all him. Pulling away, he left his hands on my shoulders and looked down into my face. While Mulberry was only a little taller than me, it seemed like he was so much bigger, so much stronger and smarter, and under control. I felt like a blurry image next to his stark silhouette.

“Come on, I’ll buy you dinner.” He threw his arm around me and we walked back toward the Oyster Farm. I’d been living there for months, ever since we’d crossed into Mexico. I’d come for the oysters and had stayed for the isolation.

“So, where’ve you been?” I asked. “It’s been what? Four months?” After turning our treasure into money, which made us both rich, Mulberry left, and I stayed at my Oyster Farm, despite his begging for me to come with him. “You went to Paris, right?” I asked.

The sun was beneath the sea now, and the deep blue of the sky was turning black at the edge. “Yeah, Paris, then London. Like I said, I’ve been setting up a business.”

Back at my plastic table, a couple of oysters sat in their half-shells, waiting to be eaten. I righted the fallen bottle of tequila, but did not take a sip. The passport was there, too; dark blue and embossed with the American seal, it sat waiting for me to pick it up and become a new woman: Sydney Rye.

“Go on, take it,” Mulberry said. “You might get carded at the bar.” He laughed at his own joke, and I smiled.

“Yeah, right. That will be the day.”

But I didn’t pick up the passport. It suddenly felt like a betrayal to take on a new identity. I was, and should always be, the-fuck-up Joy Humbolt. Didn’t I deserve the sentence I’d meted out to myself? Could a new name—a new life—change the darkness that lived inside me? It was the same darkness that haunted my every movement, and drove me to the brink of despair.

I laughed out loud.

“What?” Mulberry asked.

“I just don’t know when I got so damn morose.” I swiped at a tear that was suddenly moving down my cheek.

“You don’t have to be, Joy.” We waited in silence, listening to the gentle waves lapping at the hard-packed beach. A bird called out its final goodnight, stars popped out in the sky above us.

I reached out and toyed with the edge of the passport, peeking under its cover to look at the photo again. There she was, Sydney Rye: 5’6”, blonde hair, scarred face, steel gray eyes. It would be my first passport. I’d never left the country before coming here. Well, fleeing here. Mulberry waited patiently for me to put the thing in my pocket, to accept that it was my only way out; I was no longer Joy Humbolt. She was a mess. Sydney Rye was a detective. I pushed it into the back pocket of my torn jeans, and turned to Mulberry.

“I’m ready.”

At the bar, we were greeted by the owner, Andre. He was excited to see us again. “It’s been too long,” he called when we stepped under the awning. Andre, an Italian expat, hurried through the packed tables, his white linen shirt glowing under the soft lights strung above the patio. He shook Mulberry’s hand with gusto. Andre’s jet black hair, gelled into place, lay undisturbed by his large gestures. Spotting Blue, Andre reached over and scratched his ears vigorously. Blue accepted the petting gladly, and his eyelids drifted closed in pleasure.

Andre yelled at a waiter to clear a table near the front of the patio. “Margarita?” he asked me. “You must try my newest creation. And shall I bring you some food? Let me choose. I know what you love.” Turning to Blue, he asked, “Have you had dinner yet?”

“He would love some dinner,” I said. “And I’ll take whatever you think is best.” Mulberry nodded in agreement, and Andre hurried back across the patio into the small building where the kitchen pumped out steam, delicious smells, and trays full of food.

Blue settled himself under the table. A giant of a dog, his nose stuck out one end, while his tail stretched out the other. Blue had one blue eye and one brown, the markings of a wolf, the snout of a Collie, and the height of a Great Dane. All these traits added up to a strang looking creature… at least that’s how I see him. Other people—some might call them “sane” people—are afraid of him. Blue’s overly protective nature and sharp teeth, which he shows off at even the hint of danger, don’t tend to put people at ease.

Settled at our familiar table with Margaritas, chips, salsa, and several varieties of tacos on the way, Mulberry explained the plan. I was going to get some training down here in Mexico. “I know a great guy. He specializes in dogs. I met him at a conference about two months ago. I think you’ll like him.”

“Dog training?” I asked.

“Well, you guys are a team, right?” Mulberry looked at me over the top of his drink while he sipped off the dangerous top centimeters.

“Yeah, right, of course.” I’d never thought of us as a “team” but Blue had saved my life. The bullet that shattered his shoulder was headed for me when he jumped in front of it. And
I
di
d
pull him out of that pound in Brooklyn, so I guess we’d saved each other’s lives once. Why not keep at it?

“After you’ve got a couple of months of physical training, I’m going to send you to work with an old friend of mine who is taking care of our interests in London. You’ll love her. She’s in her 50’s now. Smart as a whip and totally brilliant.”

“Sounds great.” But really, I could not picture myself going through months of physical training, and then heading across the pond to work with some woman. It all sounded so unreal. But what was my life if not unreal? For most of the year, I’d lived in a haze of anger, sorrow, and regret. Maybe I could use a little fantasy.

“Remember the first time we came here?” Mulberry asked as our tacos landed.

“Sure. I think we had these shrimps then.” I pointed to a plate of giant grilled tiger prawns Andre had sent over as a gift. I picked one up, expertly peeled it, and took a bite. I closed my eyes, and, for a moment, just appreciated the sweet shrimp, with its salty finish and perfect texture.

“It seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it?” Mulberry said.

“Was it our first night in town?”

“No, it was our second, remember?” I thought for a moment, reaching back into my mind.

It was pouring rain, and my headlights barely cut the darkness when I rolled across the border between Arizona and Mexico. No one ventured out of the warmly lit hut serving as border control to check my I.D. They waved from the window at my RV to just keep driving. So I did. My relief was so intense that once the lights were no longer visible in my rearview mirror, I had to pull over. I climbed out into the storm, held my arms out to the side, and cried out into the void, “I made it!”

“What the fuck are you doing?” Mulberry pulled alongside me, leaning out of his open window, scowling. “Get back in the fucking RV. We’re not there, yet.” He rolled up his window and waited, looking straight ahead into the darkness. I climbed back into the sturdy old RV, and, soaked to the bone, started to drive again.

For three hours, we continued on the same road. Florescent-lit low buildings slid by in the darkness, advertising gas and tacos. My night vision made shadows into monsters, and the empty desert filled with motion. Part of it was the rain, so rare to that region that it seemed to delight in all the open space. Drops fell thick and straight, and then they came from the left, and suddenly from the right. My headlights, like a stagnant spotlight on a troupe of dancers, caught the movements in brief glimpses.

When we reached Puerto Penasco, the rain was gone, though it left the city a mess. The major roads were paved, but many of the side streets, especially those that ran along the ocean, had turned to mud. Mulberry, in the Jeep, sped ahead of me, fishtailing on the slippery surface. I could almost see the smile on his face. I followed at a more reasonable speed, though with little more control. Mulberry turned into an RV camp, and I followed, nearly taking off a side mirror on the sign that read, “Playa de Oro RV Resort.”

Inside the park, a stucco building meant to look like a welcoming hacienda housed the office. I saw Mulberry talking to a woman behind the counter. I waited in the truck. All around me, RVs rested in the dark. This was a place where people came for extended stays. Most of the RVs had tables and chairs set out with sun umbrellas. In one window, I saw a TV playing an old black and white movie. Most of the people here were retired, spending the winter of their golden years on the warm beaches of Mexico.

Mulberry stepped back out into the night and paused to light a cigarette. He’d started smoking again in, I think, Tennessee… or was it Arkansas? Either way, the tip of his cigarette glowed as he approached. “Got us a spot right on the water,” he said. “I’ll show you where.” I nodded, and he moved off toward the Jeep. I couldn’t see the water, but I could smell it, and if I strained, I could hear it over the rumble of my engine. Mulberry turned down a lane lined with RVs, and waved me toward an empty space, sparks flying off the tip of his cigarette.

I pulled into the spot and found myself staring out into the blackness that is the ocean at night. Turning the engine off, I listened to the soft lapping of the waves. A lump formed in my throat and tears burned in my eyes. It was all too much. I was filled with relief but also terror. Where the fuck was I and what the fuck had become of my life?

The sound of Mulberry hooking the RV up to the power and water supply snapped me out of it. I wiped my tears with my still damp T-shirt. Mulberry came in the side door and looking at me said, “You should change into something dry then we’ll get something to eat.”

Climbing out of the driver’s seat, I passed through the living room and kitchen. Pushing aside the curtain that provided “privacy” for the bedroom, I smiled at Blue who was sitting up on the bed panting. Not exactly an amazing hiding spot for a giant dog, but we figured if Border Patrol boarded us, Blue was the least of our worries. I untied Blue’s leash and he jumped down headed for the door. I peeled off my shirt, kicked off my sandals and struggled with my wet jeans, tipping onto the bed. I was sitting on more than just a mattress and some sheets. Underneath me was millions of dollars worth of stolen treasure. Gold coins, valuable jewels all hidden away in the most obvious of places: under the fucking bed.

I pushed my pants off. “Come on, I’m hungry,” Mulberry yelled from the other room. Sitting up, I opened my closet and pulled out dry jeans and a dirty, though not wet, long sleeve. The only thing left in there was a rain coat. Funny, I thought, as I closed the closet door.

We took the Jeep back into the center of town and pulled over at the first restaurant we found. It turned out to be a tourist trap with nachos covered in iceberg lettuce and waitstaff that would rather be anywhere else on the planet. But we were delighted to be in Mexico. To be free of the cloying fear that chased us from New York across the country.

“It was some tourist trap right?” I asked Mulberry.

“Yeah, remember how horrible the food was. And Jesus, I’ve never had worse service.” Mulberry picked up his Margarita.

I laughed. “It’s amazing that the thing you remember most about that day is the terrible meal.” I don’t know if it was the Margarita, the stress, or that it was actually funny, but I laughed until I was no longer breathing.

 

***

 

Mulberry left the next afternoon promising that I wouldn’t be alone for long. “I’m not alone,” I smiled and rested my hand on the top of Blue’s head, who leaned against my hip in response.

Mulberry nodded. “I guess I don’t have to worry about you too much.”

“Nah, I’m good.”

“I know.” He turned and looked at the sun, it was still high in the sky but dropping west. Sweat lined Mulberry’s brow and dappled his T-shirt. His jeans looked heavy and hot in the bright day. Without a word he stepped closer to me and, wrapping an arm around my waist, pulled me into an embrace.

I put my arms around him and hugged back, resting against his solid form. It was hot and moist in his arms but it was also dark and safe. I pushed away before the tears welling in my eyes could escape. He kissed me on the cheek and I felt his stubble, just as much as could grow since the morning, it was the texture of fine sandpaper.

Mulberry got into his rental and headed through the dunes back to the main road. I stood in the sun with my hand shielding my eyes watching him go until there was nothing left to see but the yellow sand, blue sky, and circling sea birds.

BOOK: Emily Kimelman - Sydney Rye 02 - Death in the Dark
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