Sampler: The Rain Man Murders by N.E. Brown
May 13, 2020
The clock was ticking. Time was running out. Death came with the rain, and it was stalking Dallas.
1972, DALLAS, TEXAS
Pounding rains flooded the rivers, streams, and lakes in Dallas, Texas, depressing the city, darkening the days, and leading to murder. Detective Mark Wilder had been weathering some storms of his own for a long time. The loss of his beloved several years ago remained stained deep into his heart. Detective Wilder was good at his job and then the storms came. The first body was found on the banks of the Trinity River, the rain wiping away any hopes of clues to the murderer.
One morning at a café, Mark meets Sarah Mason, a legal secretary, and is instantly drawn to her. Is it a coincidence she leads him to his first key piece of evidence? Before he can find out, another corpse is found on the banks of Bachman Lake. Again, the evidence is washed away by severe thunderstorms the previous night.
Sarah’s volunteer work at Calvary Baptist Church’s thrift shop connects her to the case. Her co-worker at the thrift shop may also, but Mark’s concern has more to do with the man’s abusive background and his unholy fascination with Sarah. Is he the man stalking her?
Although his and Sarah’s relationship deepens, and sparks fly, he can’t completely rule out her involvement. Especially when a third murder occurs on another rainy night, and more evidence is discovered at the church.
Mark must solve these murders. He must stop whoever is murdering members of Calvary Baptist, and he must still the storms in his heart. He’s convinced of the first two, but even he wouldn’t bet on the last one.
Sampler: The Rain Man Murders
Sarah Mason sat in her 1970 Chevrolet Impala and prayed the storm would pass. The lights in the diner blinked off and on when a streak of lightning struck overhead. She waited, hoping for a momentary pause in the blistering rain. Several minutes passed as she contemplated starting the car and returning home. Her fingers trembled from the cold as she tried to put her key back in the ignition. Suddenly, the pounding rain on the car roof lessened to a steady flow of raindrops. It’s now or never. I should go. She clutched the worn, grey umbrella borrowed from the shelter where she volunteered.
As soon as she opened the car door, she became engulfed in not only an avalanche of heavy raindrops but also a billowing wind that immediately tore the partially open umbrella away from her wet hands. She retrieved it and ran to the café. I hope this blind date is worth all the effort.
Her best friend, Marcie Edwards, had pestered Sarah for over a month to get out and meet someone and this potential coffee date at eleven o’clock on a Saturday morning was the best Sarah could do. By the time she made her way inside the small diner on Harry Hines Boulevard, she was saturated. Her freshly-washed and curled hair was plastered against her smooth, unblemished skin in clumps. Taking a deep breath, she walked farther into the café and tried to put a smile on her face.
The café was almost empty except for two couples and a lone man who was wearing a raincoat, hunched over a cup of coffee at the counter. He seemed to be entranced with the local newspaper. Sarah saw her reflection in the mirror behind the counter and gasped. She looked a mess and hurried towards the ladies’ room.
She winced after seeing her reflection in the bathroom mirror. It was worse than she thought. The long-sleeved, white sweater clung to her curvy body, and her plain white bra exposed her shapely breasts. Pulling a hand-full of paper towels from the rack, she attempted to dry herself. After using several towels, she gave up. She couldn’t help but laugh. If my appearance doesn’t scare away my date, maybe there’s hope.
Sarah returned to the front and placed her umbrella under a coat rack. She made a quick turn and lost her balance causing her to slip and fall forward. A waitress carrying a small tray of water and a cup of hot chocolate stopped Sarah from falling, causing the hot chocolate to splatter into her hair and sweater. The hot liquid penetrated her clothing and bit at her flesh. She froze as the waitress apologized and ran to fetch some towels. All eyes were on Sarah. When she finally looked up, she stared straight into the sympathetic face of the man who was sitting at the counter. He had neatly combed blackish-brown hair, day-old stubble, and a deep dimple in the crevice of his left cheek. She felt his dark cocoa eyes dance over her body.
“Are you all right?” the stranger asked.
It took a moment before she could answer him. “Uh, yes. I’m fine, thank you.” Their eyes met, and he stared curiously into hers. His lips curved into a sheepish smile causing Sarah’s heart to flutter.
The stranger’s partially opened raincoat revealed a shoulder holster and gun. For a lengthy moment, his translucent brown eyes probed the dark depths of her soul. His smiled widened, as he offered her a clean napkin. Sarah took it and excused herself, heading back to the ladies’ room.
Sarah’s interest was sparked by the handsome man’s attention to her. He was quite a looker. She felt a momentary connection to him. A close look in the bathroom mirror made Sarah feel small and out of place. Why was she so scattered? He was probably a cop, and she would never see him again. All she wanted to do now was disappear and never come back, but she had to go back through the café to leave. After a few minutes of dabbing at her clothes and hair with paper towels, she thought it best to go home.
As she walked back through the café, she stopped to apologize to the waitress and then turned to the stranger. “My name is Sarah. Are you a police officer?”
Another broad smile enveloped his wide, bronzed jaw. His eyes twinkled as he pulled out his badge. “Detective Mark Wilder. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Why is this man dismantling my composure? Noticing several splatters of the brown liquid on his coat, Sarah bit her lower lip. “I’m sorry, but I’m guilty of getting hot chocolate all over your raincoat. I’ll be happy to pay for the cleaning if you send me the bill. I work on Saturday afternoons at the Calvary Baptist Church Outreach Center on South Zang Boulevard in Oak Cliff. Excuse me.” Sarah hurried towards the door and crashed into another stranger who was closing his umbrella and using his hand to wipe the rain off his raincoat.
“Watch where you’re going,” he said gruffly. “You idiot.”
“I’m sorry. I’m …so sorry.”
“Get out of my way,” he demanded.
Detective Wilder stood and approached Sarah. “She said she was sorry,” he told the discourteous stranger in a monotone voice. “Can’t you see how upset she is?” Mark’s six-foot-three-inch body towered over the short, slim man who stood between him and Sarah.
Embarrassed, humiliated, and overwhelmed, Sarah turned and ran outside to her car.
“Sarah,” Mark called after her, but she kept running.
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