BOOK EXCERPT: "Cold Scheme" - urban fantasy/romantic suspense

"Cold Scheme" - available in e-book format, fictionwise, mobipocket,AllRomancebooks and Cambridge Books/ebooksonthe.net - coming out in paperback early 2008.
E.A. Petrick

Plot Premise: When Meg Stanton, a Baltimore homicide detective, stops at a convenience store and five minutes later walks out to find a dead man sprawled across the hood of her car, she assumes he's been shot. The reasonable assumption is the worst one she's ever made in her ten-year career as a cop. In the next twenty four hours, Meg's carefully constructed identity as a cop and mother start to crack. She
is a cop without a past, a name she'd picked out of a phone book and a ten year old daughter who's threatening to run away.

Most parent-child struggles are about control. Meg's daughter, Jazz, wants to know her roots…but it's hard for the mother to talk about a man who abandoned her a week after their wedding. A few days later, a waiter assigned to the CEO of the third largest national bank drops dead while serving the banker. Meg realizes that both victims were executed but can't even guess at an organization that's behind such bizarre crimes. The FBI is called in, and Meg is shocked to discover that the FBI agent on the scene is her "missing-in-action" husband. She starts to feel that the victims are links in some kind of scheme but she has no idea that she is its key element.

Cold Scheme - Excerpt

The phone rang again.

I picked it up. "Yes?"

"Don't hang up."

"There is nothing to talk about." My voice must have told
him that the connection was about to be terminated.

"If you hang up, the next sound you'll hear will be your
doorbell."

It was the last thing I wanted. "What do you want?"

"An explanation, that's all."

I held the phone away, frowning. Explanations were needed
on my side, not his. "Of what?"

"Who are you? What are you doing? What happened?"

"I'm a police officer. At one time I may have wanted to
know what happened ten years ago. Tonight, I'm no longer curious. It's
late. I'm going to have a busy day tomorrow. I need to rest. Good
night."

"Don't! Why aren't you a Tavistock?"

"My partner told me that you're going to visit the
bank tomorrow. Ask the Chairman."

"We've already talked. He told me you decided that our marriage would interfere with your studies, your political career; that it was a mistake, and you were just momentarily confused. He explained why our relationship would be a disadvantage and what it would cost you, in terms of your future."

"When did you talk to my father? Where? How? What are you up to, Field? What's this about?" I wanted to hang up. Suspicions and anger coursed through me. His sudden reappearance, in my work environment was not by chance. It had to be another one of my father's schemes, to bring me back into the Tavistock fold. I didn't want to be a point of it.

"He came to see me in Potomac Hospital. He delivered your message. Later on, he came to reinforce it, when I was in Meade Naval rehab."

"When?"

"Ten years ago, when you left."

The cordless phone slid out of my hand. I heard his voice in the receiver. He was shouting. With great effort, I picked it up again.

"Meg, are you there? Meg! Dammit, don't hang up! I'm sorry. I didn't mean to...just wanted to know...all these years, why? I deserve to know that. I would have understood. I don't blame you. I don't hold it against you... Meaghan, are you there?"

"What is it you don't blame me for?" I asked carefully.
Hell, these last couple of weeks, every day was more complex than the one before.

"Not wanting our child, not wanting to be married - wanting to finish your studies, working on your career."

"Ah, those pesky details!" I have always believed that in my darkest hours, someone from beyond draped me in humor. It was my coping tool. "What else did my father say?"

He was silent for a long time. I wondered whether this was where we would leave the issue, another deadly cliffhanger.

"Just that you would always be a Tavistock and what that meant, along with your final message," he replied slowly, carefully.

"How did I send my message?"

"What?"

"On paper, recorded, through a process server, chiseled into a stone tablet, rolled in a bottle – written in sacrificial blood on a scroll?"

I didn't hear him breathe. He had to be holding the phone away, wondering about my mental state.

"Did you send a message, Meg?"

"You listened to it – and believed it. The messenger must have impressed you very much. You took his word for gospel."

"You signed the annulment papers. You asked me to release you from our mistake."

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