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Eruca

An Andi Hayes Murder Mystery

by Xenia Melzer

Eruca - Xenia Melzer
Part of the Andi Hayes Mystery series:
Editions:Kindle - First Edition: $ 6.80
ISBN: B09QH6J93F
Pages: 344

When Detective George Donovan and his eccentric partner, Detective Andi Hayes, need a break from their gruesome job, a hike seems like just the thing.

Unfortunately, the job catches up with them when they find three dead men in a lake.

When the promising clues dry up, George and Andi turn once more to Andi’s “gift”—but this time things aren’t so easy. Andi’s mysterious talents are growing stronger, making it harder to block out the barrage of information and taking a toll on his physical and mental health. The cryptic clues his informants offer are even more bizarre than the case itself. And the more they discover about the victims, the more uncomfortable the investigation becomes.

Torn between catching a killer and serving justice, between George’s career and Andi’s sanity, the detectives have their work cut out for them if they’re going to solve these murders.

Excerpt:

Prologue

 

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The water was cool, but not too much, a soft current enriching it with oxygen, making it perfect to grow in, rich in plankton and algae too small to be nourishment but so fertile, the prey fat and plenty, little fish and tadpoles swimming around, so many of them, easy to catch, and the larvae of the mosquitoes, a banquet, life consisted of waiting and grabbing and eating and growing, the exoskeleton fitting tighter every day, and then the current became stronger, a maelstrom swirling up the silt and the little pebbles and the rotting leaves and everything became obscured and the hiding place was exposed and the maelstrom didn’t stop, became stronger, a second and a third one joining in, the water no longer nourishing but deadly, heavy, huge bodies falling, sinking, writhing, stirring, upsetting the balance with their thrashing, the larvae of the mosquitoes, precious prey, whirling around, out of reach, stones hitting the hiding spot, exposing the hunter to bigger predators, trout dashing through the browned liquid, snapping, chasing, collecting, the bodies causing smaller currents now, bubbles of oxygen drifting toward the surface, popping out of existence, the trout coming closer, no place to hide….

1.No Rest for the Wicked

 

“Come on, Andi, we’ve only been walking for an hour!” George sounded entirely too chipper for Andi’s taste. Why he had given in to his partner’s nagging and agreed to come on this ridiculous hiking trip on Swamp Fox Trail, Andi didn’t know. They wouldn’t be going the whole forty-seven miles, of course, just a few miles into it to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the swamps and then marching back, preferably before the mosquitoes had drained them. It was a nice morning in early fall, the solving of their first case by now almost five months ago. The wound in Andi’s shoulder had healed nicely, and he and George had deepened their bond as partners over a few minor cases they had cracked within days, much to the vexation of Chief Norris, who still hated Andi, seemingly on principle. It was okay, though, because Andi didn’t harbor any warm feelings for the chief either. In his opinion she was a career-driven greedy hag who put politics before victims, something Andi abhorred greatly, and he was here to relax, not get worked up about his stupid boss and her moronic prejudices.

Andi looked ahead to where George was waiting at a bend in the path, absentmindedly batting at mosquitoes—

Blood, lots of it, rich and good, promising nourishment for many eggs, with a sharp tang to it, repelling, but only superficial, the blood was fine, ready to be sucked, hunger, the need to lay the eggs, hunger, hunger, HUNGER!

—which were terribly unimpressed by the repellant they had generously sprayed on themselves, George promising, swearing it would work like magic. It didn’t, thank you very much, and there was nothing they could do because they were in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by swamps and marshland chock-full of insects of all kinds. How on earth George thought Andi should be able to relax here would remain his secret. There were so many different images bombarding him from all sides, Andi was grateful he hadn’t tripped yet. No more hiking trips with George. At least not when his partner was in charge of selecting the trail.

“Andi, what’s keeping you? Come on, there’s a beautiful little lake just over there!” George pointed excitedly ahead, reminding Andi of a puppy eager to play. The joy on his partner’s face was what kept Andi from making a sarcastic comment. George had only the best intentions, and Andi knew he had worried him the last few weeks. Late summer was always a difficult time; insect activity reached several peaks then, and Andi wasn’t always able to evade the thicket. Apart from the seemingly always present mosquitoes, the previous week had seen an infestation of love bugs on Stiles Point, where he lived, thanks to several of his neighbors not tending properly to their lawns and letting the thatch get too thick. Because of their neglect, Andi had spent most of the week trying to stay at the precinct as long as possible to not get completely buried under the frantic coupling and dying going on in the vicinity of his home. George had even offered to let him sleep on his couch until the worst was over. After seriously contemplating the offer, Andi had declined. He was grateful for George’s understanding and his attempts to make things as easy as possible for Andi, but Andi was still determined not to get too attached to his new partner. George’s days in Charleston were numbered, and Andi couldn’t afford to lose his ability to fend for himself. He was already dangerously close to dependency on George. He didn’t care if refusing George’s offer made him an idiot of the highest order; he had to cling to some semblance of independence or the blow when George finally left would be even harder to bear.

So why was he on this trip?

Andi reached George, who beamed at him as if he’d found a diamond in his Christmas stocking. “Look, Andi, isn’t it beautiful?”

Andi obligingly gazed in the direction George’s outstretched hand indicated. The view was indeed breathtaking, a small lake surrounded by marsh grass and cypress trees, little purple and light blue flowers Andi didn’t know the name of dotting the area, occasional rocks sticking out like crumbs strewn around by a giant, the water a rich brown color, the surface rippling gently in the soft breeze. Andi made a step forward, taking in the beauty of the place for a few heartbeats, before the incessant humming in the back of his mind took on a shape he knew only too well and he fell, dove deep into the water—

Temperature is perfect, getting colder the farther down he sinks, the deep brown strangely translucent, Andi can see farther than should be possible, but it’s not him seeing, it’s them telling him what is going on everywhere, larvae of mosquitoes and dragonflies, water beetles, pond skaters, providing him with an image in 3D, he’s on the water and in it and under it and he feels the current and the different temperatures and the little swirls caused by fish—predator!—and the hunger and how ready he was to climb up that piece of reed to finally leave his underwater shell, and there’s something in the water, something that doesn’t belong, lots of fish around it, taking bites out of it, too much, poisoning the water, taking up space and getting bigger, little chunks falling off, not of interest, no food, at least for most of them, some are feeding on it, a feast, too many fish, and then Andi sees them, three bodies, on the bottom of the lake, half sunk into the sediments of rotting leaves, the gasses leaving them disturbing the water, their hands bound with something heavy and metallic, a bit like blood, what was the name, yes, chains, bound with chains and weighted with stones, their hair floating around in the tiny currents the fish create with their bodies, other images of them falling down, crashing into the water, going under, the whole lake in uproar, it could have only been a few days, the bodies still look kind of good, for water corpses anyway, probably because the water is so cool, and there’s the mosquito larvae getting ready to leave their life underwater behind, Andi is dragged into the necessity of getting out of the shell, who is Andi, anyway, there’s water here, and food and getting reborn is important and so much information, all in one endless stream drowning him with knowledge he doesn’t need, doesn’t know how to use, he goes under and under and under—

“Andi! What the hell?” George’s voice was like a knife cutting through the veil around Andi’s senses, freeing him of the grasp the agitated insects had on him, and he clung to George’s arms like they were a lifeline in a troubled sea.

“Bodies. Three. Down there.” He pointed in the direction of the lake.

“Are you sure?”

Andi just lifted a brow. George sighed. “This was supposed to be a getaway, not finding us new work.”

 

 

 

 

COLLAPSE

About the Author

Xenia Melzer is a mother of two who enjoys riding and running when she's not writing stories. She doesn't like beer but is easily tempted by a Virgin Mojito. Or chocolate. Truffles are especially cherished, even though she doesn't discriminate. As a true chocoholic, she welcomes any kind of cocoa-based delight.

 

You can contact her through her website: http//www.xeniamelzer.com

Or befriend and follow her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/xeniamelzer/