EXCERPT TWO - Someone Elses Daughter (A Miranda’s Rights Mystery) - Book I

Her head pounded with the charges Lieutenant Erskine had rattled off in the interrogation room. Trespassing. Assaulting an officer. Resisting arrest. Kidnapping.… Murder?

She wiped her face with her hands. How could they charge her with murder? She was innocent.

She stared at the bars.

Innocent people got charged with crimes all the time. A rich girl had been killed. It was in the news. This was a high profile case. They needed somebody to blame. She had no one to vouch for her. No character witnesses. If the cops in Atlanta weren’t too picky about details, she could end up doing life—or worse.

She rose and paced to the wall, pressed her face against the damp, hard concrete. Frustration erupted inside her. “Damn.” She banged her fist on the cinder blocks.

She rubbed her arm. It still hurt from being bullied by Officer Reed. She squeezed her eyes shut. She could still feel the weight of that poor, dead child in her arms. Smell the damp decay on her body. Her mind raced. That girl couldn’t have been Amy. The dark spot on her neck wasn’t a birthmark. Or was it? Doubt stabbed at her heart. If they convicted her for murder, she might go to her death and never know.

Old memories flashed in her head. That horrible day she woke up and found Amy gone. Leon’s thick knuckles against her face. The violent slam of the front door. The cold softness of the snow against her cheeks. Her old life. Her old self. The weak, sniveling woman she’d struggled to escape for thirteen years. She’d made herself strong and fearless, but she hadn’t done much else with herself. A real career, a family. They weren’t for her.

But would her life end like this?

She banged her fist against the cinder blocks. “Damn,” she yelled, wishing she could knock a hole through the stone. “Damn. Damn.”

“I don’t think pounding will bring down that wall.”

With a gasp, she spun around and saw the figure standing at her cell door. The crazy investigator in the tuxedo.

Annoyance fisted in her belly. “What the hell are you doing here?”

“Visiting you.” He grinned at her with his too-gorgeous looks, exuding that confident ease he seemed to carry with him, even into a prison. He said he was going to see the DA. Must be a fast worker.

She bared her teeth. “Get lost.”

Sexy laugh lines formed around his eyes. “First my friend Hosea tells me to go to hell. Now you tell me to ‘get lost.’ What have I done to deserve such warm greetings tonight?”

Miranda curled a lip. “You showed up.”

He chuckled and casually rested an expensive-leather-shod foot on the lower rung of her cage. “I have a job to do.”

He was the best, the woman in the bar had said. “You’re investigating the murder.”

“That’s correct.” His handsome steel-gray eyes shone like the sharp glint of a Magnum, boring into her as if he could read all her secrets. Her secrets were none of his business.

She made a circle with her finger. “Well, Mr. Fancy Gumshoe, you can just turn around and go back where you came from. I don’t have to talk to you.”

He shrugged. “Of course you don’t. But I thought you might like some company.”

Company? That was a good one. She put a hand on her hip and glared at him in disbelief. A few stray wisps of his styled hair fell flirtatiously over his forehead, making the air suddenly crackle with the raw sensuality of a sophisticated, Southern male in a fine black suit. He shifted his weight, making the well-formed physique beneath the elegant cut of his fancy clothes all too evident.

“You think I want company?” He wasn’t getting any more out of her than the cops had.

“Wouldn’t someone to pass the time with be more pleasant than being alone?” His smooth tone dripped with sweet molasses.

She smirked out loud. “Like visiting a sick aunt? Here’s a news flash. I wasn’t born yesterday.” She took a step toward him. “Here’s another one. I didn’t murder anybody. So why don’t you go out and find the real killer?” She pointed down the hall.

He studied his fingernails a moment. “You needn’t be so defensive, Ms. Steele. I might be able to help you.”

Help her to the electric chair. She let out a huff and scratched her head. What did she have to do to get rid of this guy? Curiosity got the best of her and she gestured at his fancy tux. “What are you all dressed up for?”

“This?” He fingered the lapel of his dinner jacket. It’s the spring social season. I was attending a charity event when I got the call that Madison Taggart’s body had been found.”

Madison Taggart. The name sent a shockwave down her spine. “If you’re not going to find the killer, you should go back to your party.” <

“I believe it’s over.” He arched a dark, wickedly handsome brow. “Besides, I prefer your company just now.”

Was he trying to charm her? Arrogant jackass. If only he weren’t such a good-looking jackass. If only his words hadn’t just put a quiver in her stomach. “Look, I’m not talking. Not to you. Not to the cops. Not to anybody.”

Parker drew in a breath as he watched those lush, deep blue eyes glow viciously at him. They were fringed with the blackest of lashes. Lashes that pointed at him like sharp daggers over eyes gushing with vitriol. There were oceans of feeling behind those eyes. He studied the matted black hair, still damp from the rain, falling in knotted curls around her angled face. The clothes torn and streaked with Georgia clay. She reminded him of a poodle who’d been rolling in a tar pit.

And yet, the feisty woman produced a strange sensation in him. Curiosity, perhaps. Or fascination. Not an impression he normally experienced while questioning a murder suspect. The distraction annoyed him. He was certain she wasn’t working alone. She was an accomplice to the real killer. His usual tactics weren’t working on her, she saw straight through them. But he’d get the truth out of her.

If it took him all night.

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Someone Else's Daughter (A Miranda's Rights Mystery) - Book I

A woman can never make herself too tough, too strong, or too street smart.

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