Sam dashed out from between the trees and ran across the deserted
street. Streetlights flickered across the damp pavement, illuminating
the road with a slick glow. The rain was coming down so hard the sewers
couldn’t handle the overflow. A puddle the size of a small river stood
between her and the sidewalk. Gritting her teeth, she leapt to the curb,
catching her heel on the concrete slab. She stumbled forward, pain
shooting across her ankle, ducking out of the way as a tree branch
snapped, crashing inches from her feet.
This wasn’t the way she pictured the evening ending.
Up ahead the flashing blue and red lights of police cars shimmered in
the rain. The wailing sirens and frantic lights added to her sense of
urgency. She focused on them, twisting thick blonde hair into a damp
knot, and quickened her pace.
Officers scattered in all directions, radio’s squawking as they sealed
the area off. Sam unsnapped her evening bag, pulled out her badge, and
pinned it to her rain splattered dress, slinging the delicate chain over
A silver haired cop waved her through, eyes lingering on her legs. This
was why she hated being called to a scene on her night off. She wasn’t
dressed for cop work, and she didn’t have her damn umbrella, not that
it would have done much good. The high winds would have turned it inside
The weather gods must have heard her. The rain stopped as suddenly as it
started. She stared down at her ruined dress and muddy shoes before
glancing up at the sky. The storm was moving out over the lake, leaving
the heat and humidity behind.
“Damn microburst.” Sam fanned herself and leaned against a concrete
planter, digging a Hersey’s kiss out of her bag. She popped the candy
in her mouth, scanning the area for her partner.
Alec Winters hopped out of a black sedan without a drop of rain on him.
He stuck his head through the car window, lingering a moment, and then
strolled towards her, wearing a black t-shirt, tight faded jeans and a
wide grin. Sucking on the tiny chocolate, she watched as every female
officer within spitting distance turned her head to look at him.
“Hey,” he crossed his arms, leaning on the planter next to her.
“You got one of those kisses for me?”
“Here you go, Romeo.” She frowned, and tossed him a candy.
“For a dead body in Lincoln Park Zoo? Ready as I’ll ever be,” he
She glanced at the sky in time to catch a flash of lightning as the
storm hovered over the lake. Sam shuddered, overwhelmed by a feeling of
déjà vu. It was a night very much like this one when her sister,
Melanie, vanished almost five years ago. Sam felt a stab of pity for the
family of tonight’s victim, but at least they’d have closure,
something she and her family might never have.
They flashed their badges to the uniform stationed at the gate. Sam
paused, taking a minute to get her bearings. Lincoln Park was the
city’s largest public park, attracting millions of visitors a year.
Containing the scene, once the zoo opened in the morning, was going to
be a logistical nightmare. The mayor would be breathing down their necks
as soon as he caught wind of the murder — if he didn’t have a
“Where the hell is the lagoon?” Alec asked, eyeing the tree-lined
“This way I think,” Sam led the way, glancing over her shoulder.
“By the way, you might want to rub the lipstick stains off your
He rubbed his face, glancing at his hand. “Yeah, good idea. Pink
isn’t really my shade.”
“Very funny.” Fallen twigs crunched beneath her feet, courtesy of
the earlier storm.
Sam looked around, leading them down another path. The zoo felt
different at night. Without the milling crowds and laughter of children,
it possessed an almost savage quality. She pulled a flashlight from her
bag, shining it ahead. The beam caught a pair of golden eyes, rousing a
tiger. The angry roar sent a shiver down her spine.
“Maybe we should have brought them some food,” Alec joked, glancing
at the restless animals prowling in their cages.
Realizing that the flashlight was agitating the animals, Sam lowered it.
There was something unnerving about being here after midnight. Up above,
a seagull screeched, the sound had a mournful quality to it, as if the
bird sensed something wasn’t right.
“Let’s make this quick.” She picked up the pace, hurrying past the
zoo attractions without sparing them a glance.
“You’re not afraid are you?” he asked.
Sam sent him a withering stare. “I’m a city girl, okay? Not real
crazy about the whole lions and tigers and bears thing.”
“I hope you’re good with ghosts since we’re coming up on the
“Huh, I forgot that was here.” Shadows from nearby trees danced over
the Couch Tomb. It was an eerie reminder that in the 1800s the park had
been the city’s cemetery until worried citizens, concerned about
disease and decay leaching into Lake Michigan, petitioned to have the
Sam shivered. Tonight the park held one more body, joining the Couch
family in death.
They reached the lagoon a few minutes later taking the route past the
concrete steps. The water churned dark and murky beneath a thin layer of
clouds, a layer of steam rising above it. A far cry from how it looked
during the day when it was filled with canoes, and happy families,
enjoying an idle summer day.
Sam wiped the sweat from her forehead as they trudged past the
boathouse. Since the rain passed, it was feeling downright tropical. She
swatted a mosquito and sucked in a lungful of hot, humid air wishing she
were at home with her fiancé, enjoying a cold glass of crisp white wine
on the patio before heading up to bed.
“Up ahead,” Alec pointed, breaking into a jog.
“Really, Alec?” she shouted after him. “You expect me to jog in
“That’s why I wear flats on all my dates,” he winked, taking off.
Sam sighed, trying to keep up with him, but it was impossible. Her heels
sank into the wet grass, forcing her to yank them out with every step.
She was tempted to slip her shoes off, but quickly changed her mind, not
relishing the thought of mosquitoes feasting on her bare toes.
The responding officers already secured the area with yellow tape, crime
scene techs snapped pictures, and were combing for hairs and fibers,
looking for any clues the UNSUB may have left behind. Alec, Mark
Matsuda, the Medical Examiner, and one of the first responders formed a
semicircle near the end of the lagoon.
Their backs were to her. Sam joined the group, nodding to Matsuda.
“Detective Black.” He smiled. “Glad you made it.”
Her eyes flitted to the ground. A shoe protruded from a dirt patch, the
high heel pointing straight up. Frowning, she turned her gaze on the
officer. “What have we got?”
The uniform glanced at Matsuda, and dropped his eyes, shifting
uncomfortably as if he wasn’t sure what to say.
“What we got is a problem,” Alec said.
Sam’s eyes slid between the men. “No body?”
“Too many bodies,” Matsuda quipped in a wry tone.
“Too many bodies?” She looked around. “There’s more than one?”
“Never mind, bad joke.” Matsuda shook his head, reaching into his
pocket for a pair of latex gloves. Snapping them on, he turned to Sam.
“Let’s get to it. With any luck, we can all get back to bed before
“All right.” Hands on her hips, Sam scanned the area, shooting
Matsuda a curious look. “I see the shoe, but where’s the victim?”
Matsuda placed his hand on the small of her back, urging her forward.
Shaking her head, she held out her hand for a pair of latex gloves. She
pulled them on and settled into a crouch, examining the ground. Sam
glanced up at Matsuda with a frown. “This is it? An upside shoe jammed
into the dirt? Are you kidding me? Did anybody even bother to check it
out before calling us?”
Matsuda hunkered down beside her. “We were waiting for you before we
dug any further.” His shoulders shook as he tried to hold back a
laugh. Alec chuckled in the background.
Sam gave him a look. “Dug any further? Really? That’s lame Matsuda
even for you.”
He shrugged. “I thought it was kind of funny.”
“You’re warped, both of you.” Sam suppressed a grin, and got to
work, reaching out to touch the elegant high heel. It was an odd choice
of footwear for a day at the zoo unless someone was attending a charity
benefit. Her eyes drifted to the nearby café. Or a party, she corrected
herself, making the shoe suddenly a whole lot more interesting. A few
too many drinks, a heated argument, a jealous rage… any number of
things could add up to a dead body.
She poked it again, this time with more force. The shoe didn’t budge.
“I don’t suppose either of you Sir Galahad’s want to help me out
Matsuda turned his head, gazing up at the sky. Alec smothered a laugh.
“Hey, the loot put you in charge of this one.”
“Remind me to send her a thank you note.” Sam took a deep breath and
dug into the ground with gloved fingers, gently brushing dirt and grass
away to reveal a bloated foot. Maggots spilled out onto either side of
the shoe, dropping to the ground near her bare legs.
“Jesus.” She pulled her hand away and stood, covering her nose with
the back of her arm. Shaken, she turned her head, but not before Alec
caught the flicker of pain in her eyes.
He laid a hand on her shoulder, dark brown eyes filling with concern.
“Sure.” Hugging her arms across her chest, she looked at him and
nodded. “I’m good. Really.”
They both knew she was lying. It happened like that sometimes. The
sharp, swift stab of anxiety she felt before seeing a victim’s face.
The fear that one day, she’d look down and see Melanie’s cold dead
eyes, forever resolving the question of what happened to her sister.
Sam took a deep breath to quiet her nerves. She knew better. Her sister
wasn’t buried in the shallow grave, but she drew no comfort from that
fact. Someone had been murdered today, planted in a cold and lonely
grave, like trash, as if her life hadn’t mattered.
Exhaling, she squared her shoulders, and stared down at the grizzly
sight. “We need to start digging.”
Excerpted from "Deadly Consequences (Sam Black Suspense Novella) [Kindle Edition]" by Lori Gordon. Copyright © 2012 by Lori Gordon. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.