When Stormi's nephew asks her to help him stop the abuse to a friend of his, Stormi is more than willing to step in. What she finds is worse than anything she imagined. No amount of research prepared her for a group of men so evil, Stormi must dig deep inside herself and call on God to rescue the man she loves.
This is the fifth book in the Nosy Neighbor series. While still fun to write, the characters took the story in a direction I hadn't planned on while plotting out the book. I was as surprised as I hope my readers will be. Enjoy the exerpt!
I retrieved my dog and spotted the skittish teenage girl from before getting out of yet another car. She flashed a grin at someone inside before turning as looking as forlorn as a boy who had lost his dog.
She kicked at a rock on the sidewalk, thrusting her hands into shorts barely long enough to be called decent. It wasn’t until I took a good look at her face that I noticed the ruby lips and smoky eyes of skillfully applied makeup.
As was normal for me, curiosity reared its head and I decided to follow her.
She ducked between the bakery and the bookstore, now with new owners. I hurried across the street after her.
She turned right at the alley, back toward Oak Meadows Estates, but stopped behind the drugstore. My nephew, Dakota, stepped from the shadows and pulled her into his arms.
Very interesting. He hadn’t said anything about having a girlfriend. I pressed against the building, keeping a hand on Sadie’s muzzle to keep her quiet.
“I thought you were never going to show,” Dakota said.
“I had a hard time getting away,” the girl replied. “I only just now snuck out.”
“Your foster parents shouldn’t keep such a tight rein on you.”
The girl was lying. I’d seen her leave her house an hour ago. I wasn’t naïve enough to believe teenagers didn’t lie, they did, but why would she lie to Dakota?
I averted my face when they started an embarrassingly heavy make-out session. After what seemed like an eternity, they kissed one last time and parted. The girl ducked back between the buildings and Dakota continued in the alley. This time I actually jogged as I caught up with him.
He glanced over his shoulder and scowled. “Are you spying on me?”
“Nope.” I held up my coffee. “Jogging and drinking. Who is your friend?”
“Heather Miller. She’s new to the neighborhood.” His eyes narrowed, glittering under the street lamp as we stepped onto the sidewalk. “You were watching me.”
“Completely by accident.” I wrapped my lips around my straw so I wouldn’t say more than I should and get myself into trouble.
“We need to help her,” he said, his young face hardening. “Her foster parents are horrible. They hardly let her out of the house, and I’ve seen bruises on her arms and thighs more than once.”
“Have you told anyone?”
“I’m telling you.” He stopped and faced me. “As your investigating assistant, I’d like this to be our first case.”
No one actually said he was my assistant, but he wouldn’t hear otherwise. “We can look into it if you think she’s being abused. What about the other kids? Have you spoken to them?”
“I’ve only seen them. There’s two other girls. One black and one Mexican. Heather said her foster parents only take in girls. She won’t talk much about her home life. If I mention the bruises, she changes the subject.”
It definitely sounded like abuse to me. “I’ll talk to Matt and see what he has to say.”
“We can’t get the police involved!” Dakota shook his head. “And you call yourself an investigator. Just ask some questions. Make friends with her mother. Do your job.”
“My job is writing books. My PI license is to give me leeway when investigating.” I held up a finger as he opened his mouth to protest. “But … I will look into this. My way. And you will remember your manners when speaking to me.” I gave him a stern look and strolled away. Yes, strolled. Jogging hadn’t done anything that night other than cause me more work. Besides, I didn’t want to risk spilling my drink.I wasn’t making light of his friend’s plight. To the contrary. Abuse of any living creature did not sit well with me. I’d be knocking on my new neighbor’s door come morning.
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Multi-published and Amazon Best-Selling author Cynthia Hickey had three cozy mysteries and two novellas published through Barbour Publishing. Her first mystery, Fudge-Laced Felonies, won first place in the inspirational category of the Great Expectations contest in 2007. Her third cozy, Chocolate-Covered Crime, received a four-star review from Romantic Times. All three cozies have been re-released as ebooks through the MacGregor Literary Agency, along with a new cozy series, all of which stay in the top 50 of Amazon’s ebooks for their genre. She has several historical romances releasing in 2013, 2014, 2015 through Harlequin’s Heartsong Presents, and has sold more than 300,000 copies of her works. She is active on FB, twitter, and Goodreads, and is a contributor to Cozy Mystery Magazine blog and Suspense Sisters blog. Her and her husband run the small press, Forget Me Not Romances, which includes some of the CBA’s well-known authors. She lives in Arizona with her husband, one of their seven children, two dogs and two cats. She has five grandchildren who keep her busy and tell everyone they know that “Nana is a writer”. Visit her website at www.cynthiahickey.com