“A Different Kind of Monster” – Excerpt from NOBODY’S BABY (Guardians, Inc: Witch Hollow)

I know a lot of people think Romance is about hearts and flowers and mushy stuff. For some people, that might be just fine. Personally, I think love that can prove itself despite the odds against it is the truest measure of its real strength, and I believe that love is a real-world emotion, and should be given the respect of a real-world environment in which to either flourish or wither. This is why I don’t write light and airy Romance. I write hard, gritty reality. What gives the Romance in my work strength is all about the characters — they are the ones who are ultimately responsible for where their relationship goes, and I never really declare a story “over.”

Nor do I shy away from subjects that impact the real world, and explore some of the darker areas of our world. Without the darkness, how would we ever learn to appreciate the light and healing love has to offer?  From the moment I started this series, nearly two decades ago, I knew it would either be enthusiastically embraced or completely attacked. I’m willing to take that risk, because I believe in these characters that much. I only hope you are as intrigued and touched by them as I continue to be.

“A Different Kind of Monster” – Excerpt from NOBODY’S BABY (Guardians, Inc: Witch Hollow) —

It was late. That was why she swore she still heard a soft, child-like voice speaking out of the darkened corners of the Bunker’s autopsy room/morgue. The occasional whimper further unsettled her, but she told herself it was her fear talking. She owed Jonathan the truth, but she just couldn’t find the words to tell him. How did one even bring up a subject so personal? She didn’t have a clue.

“You still here?”   The sound of his voice startled her, and she dropped the forceps she’d just picked up with a clatter of metal on metal, whirling toward him.

“Don’t do that to me!” She closed her eyes and forced her breathing back to normal. Inside, her heart raced in her ears. Oh, God, what did she do, now?  This was getting so awkward.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Jonathan eyed her dubiously. “You don’t usually jump at shadows.”

Faith swallowed hard, and turned back to the corpse on her autopsy table. She wasn’t about to admit it wasn’t shadows making her jumpy. “I’m fine. And I think I found cause of death.”

She sensed, as much as heard, him move up beside her, and steeled herself against the urge to shift away. If she did that, he’d know something was up.

“I thought you said she died of exposure.”

“I did. Initial indications at the scene supported that hypothesis, at the time. But this child wasn’t just dumped behind that building, Jonathan. She was tortured, first.”

She caught movement in her peripheral vision, and turned to see Jonathan tensed, his expression grimly angry. “Who tortures a baby, for God’s sake?”

“I don’t know, yet. But there’s significant sharp force trauma to the skin on her thoracic region, and evenly-spaced, antemortem bruising consistent with some kind of heavy pressure applied to her upper thighs and forearms. Could be some kind of restraints.” Faith fought to keep her voice steady. People who tortured anyone infuriated her, but to do this to a baby…

“All right,” Jonathan’s voice snapped with anger she understood only too well. “Linda got her sketch to the media, and we’re searching Missing Persons right now. We’ll figure out who she is, and the identity of the bastard who did this to her.”

Faith sealed her lips over her own doubts. She had no proof, but every ounce of her training told her this was a crime committed by someone whose job it was to protect this beautiful little girl. And that was the worst part of her job – knowing that someone could do something so unspeakable to someone so innocent. A child they claimed to love.

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