Friday, February 17, 2012

Welcome back D.M. Webb!


Prologue

The squad car radio blared its announcement and caused Sergeant Jeremy Boyette to dribble coffee down the front of his uniform. Nine o’clock at night with four more hours to his shift, Jeremy needed the extra caffeine kick to stay awake. He swiped at the wet spots and scowled.

The radio blared again, asking for J forty-three to contact dispatch. Jeremy reached over to turn it down. Same-o, same-o. A quiet May night. The flickering neon light from the movie theater's sign beat a tempo against the hood of his car. He had parked his Jasper City squad car by the building and decided to enjoy his rare Jack's Express coffee, taking a much deserved break. His only battle was the one he waged against the jumbo jet mosquitoes.

His phone belted out Journey's Don't Stop Believin'. "Yo, little brother."

"You sleeping in the squad car again?"

Jeremy grinned at his brother's teasing. "Naw, just taking a break. It's quiet tonight. Where are you?"

"Fire Station Three."

"Thought you were off tonight."

"I am. Figured I would play a hand with Sam and Toby before heading home. Oh, Rebecca wanted me to give you a message."

Jeremy leaned against the headrest. "And that would be?"

"She doesn't care if you are on duty or not. You cannot weasel your way out of a fitting." David's laughter boomed across the phone. "She said you better show up at Mike's for the final fitting tomorrow because she will not have an ill-fitted best man at her wedding. Her words."

"You told her I was working?"

"Yup. But she said, and I quote, 'I don't care. It only takes five minutes, and if he wants my cheesecake on Sunday, then he'd better show up tomorrow.' End quote."

Jeremy laughed. "Okay, I'll go. I'll go."

"I know you will. Sarah said she would drag you in there by your nonexistent hair."

"Hey, hey. Low blow." Jeremy removed his cap and ran his hand over the stubble. "I didn't mean to lose the bet."

"Yeah. I told Rebecca that I would probably need to shave my head so you wouldn't feel like a total fool."

"I bet she liked that."

A crash sounded in the background. "Hey, the boys got the table down from the attic. I'll call you later."

"Later." Jeremy closed his phone and slipped it back into the holster on his belt. "Yup. A quiet night."

Another announcement squawked. "All units, a report of a two-vehicle accident at intersection of Fifth and Terrence Drive. All units respond."

Jeremy cast the dregs of his coffee out the window and threw the empty cup to the floorboard. He grabbed his mike. "Dispatch, show four nine responding."

He hit his lights.

The blue strobes battled with the flickering neon sign as he pulled away from the sidewalk.

"Forty-nine, be advised there is entrapment. Fire and Rescue are responding."
"Copy that, dispatch."

Jeremy peeled around the corner and zoomed past the brightly lit strip malls. A couple of blasts from his siren edged vehicles out of the way. Up ahead, a thin line of smoke climbed into the air. Not good.

Jeremy raced down Terrence Drive. His tires squealed as he jammed the brakes. He jumped out of the car, leaving the engine running. Onlookers stood on the sidewalks and gazed in morbid fascination as he ran to the scene. A man sat doubled over on the opposite curb. Blood at his feet.

The twisted remains of a Chevy Silverado meshed into a silver Ford Taurus greeted him. Oh, no. Rebecca's car.

Jeremy hurried to the side of the car and peered in. Her head lolled against the headrest. Her hands still gripped the steering wheel. Blood flowed from a deep laceration to her forehead.

"Rebecca? Can you hear me?" Jeremy reached through the smashed window. He detected a faint and thready pulse through the sticky warmth of blood.

Damage assessment. The truck had wedged the steering column against her legs. He tried the door, but it was crushed in at all angles like an empty beer can. He hit his mike. "Dispatch, one victim. Single, white female. Trauma to head and legs. ETA on Rescue?"

"ETA three minutes."

Jeremy leaned in as far as he could and gripped her hand. The edge of the door pressed against his mike. "Rebecca? Listen to me. You will be fine. Stay with me now. You have a wedding next week."

Dispatch came back. "All units mike check. Open mike on the channel."

Jeremy cursed under his breath. Maybe David wasn't listening to the radio chatter. He removed his mike from the vest and attached it at his collar. Then, he sniffed. The ozone stench of an electrical burn wafted through the car. Panic beat at his chest. Rescue needed to hurry.

"Rebecca, you hang in there."

More squad cars arrived. Two officers leapt from a car and cordoned off the area. Two men from the other cars rushed to him. Jeremy released Rebecca's clammy hand.

"Markston, the other driver is over there on the curb. I want his statement. Baers, with me. We got to find a way to get her out."

They tugged at the passenger door. It refused to budge.

Jeremy crawled onto the hood. Heat emanated from under the buckled metal. He took the glass punch from Baers and attacked the windshield. It spider-webbed from the impact. He and Baers folded it away from the dashboard.

Head first, he climbed into the car. Sirens wailed in the distance.

"Rescue Two en route."

Jeremy wormed his way over the steering wheel, keeping his right hand on the dashboard for balance. Smoke burned his nose and eyes. Heat seared his hands.

Her eyes fluttered opened. Thick clouds billowed up from the dashboard and choked him. Baers tugged at his uniform's vest. "Boyette, get off! Engine's on fire!"

Jeremy stretched further. His fingers fumbled at the belt's catch. "I almost got her."

"Get off!"

Rebecca's eyes, cloudy and vibrant blue, gazed into his, but then he slid away. Jeremy struggled as Baers dragged him off the hood.

Baers spoke into his mike as he pushed him away from the car. "Dispatch, we can't reach her!"

"All units, stand down and await Fire and Rescue." The calm voice contrasted against the chaos of the scene.

Orange flames licked out from underneath the hood. Oh, please, no! No! Rescue wouldn't arrive fast enough. Baers latched on to his vest and pulled him away from the car. Jeremy grabbed his mike. "Dispatch, please advise! Victim is still trapped! Car is fully involved."

Seconds ticked by. "All units are commanded to stand down."

Jeremy cursed. Orders were orders, but not this time. He strained against Baers. "I have to get her, Thad!"

Baers' arm wrapped around his neck. "Stop, Boyette. You can't get to her! Chief ordered us to stand down."

Jeremy bucked against his friend. His vision reddened as Baers tightened his hold.

"Jeremy, you can't reach her, man! Stop."

The fire truck arrived. Firefighters vaulted to the pavement and pulled hoses. A smaller truck barreled onto the scene. A man heaved a large, heavy tool out of the truck's side panel. The jaws of life, made to rip apart doors.

A black '65 Mustang slid to a stop behind the fire trucks.

David didn't need to be here. Jeremy strained against Baers' hold. "David's here. Let me go!"

Baers released him, and he hurried to his brother's side.

David's terror-widened eyes absorbed the scene. He plowed past the officer at the yellow tape. "That's Rebecca."

Jeremy pressed his hands against his brother's chest. Veins popped up along his arms as he strained to hold him at bay. "They're getting her."

David pushed past him. His long legs ate up the pavement as he raced to the fire. "You left her there? You left her!"

"David! Stop!" Jeremy caught his arm and spun him around. "We were ordered to stand down until Rescue puts out the fire."

Wild, unbridled anger lanced from David's face, and his voice broke. "You left her?" His hands slammed into Jeremy's chest. Jeremy stumbled, then righted himself and dove after his brother as David whirled around.

Jeremy grabbed a fistful of David's shirt. Fabric ripped out of his hands. "Baers! Stop him."

His mind cataloged every action like frames of a film. He tackled his brother around the waist, halting David's flight and bringing him to his knees. Firemen ducked back as orange flames shot into the night sky. He heard a strangled scream beside him.

The heat from the blast seared into him. The weight of the impact pushed at his chest. He fought and struggled to contain his brother's crazed flight.

David's arms and legs clawed and crawled across the pavement, dragging them both closer to the inferno. The fire's deafening roar filled his ears. Heat radiated against his face. A fist pummeled into him.

Pain exploded inside his head.

Other hands came to his aid. Markston and Baers hauled David to the curb. His brother fell to his knees. Sobs racked his body. Jeremy staggered and knelt beside David. Pain from his brother's eyes bored into him. Tears streaked both of their faces.

In the distance, men shouted. Water sizzled as it fell down onto the burning car. But nothing would ever erase the scream, erase the howl, that poured forth from his little brother's soul.


Chapter 1
The white gravel drive, with its mailbox reading Dean and Leigh Boyette, wound down to the stately brick Georgian house. David had never driven the familiar ride with such apprehension. He was the prodigal son returning home—minus the guilt.

Rocks crunched beneath the tires as he brought his old, beat-up Chevy truck to a stop. He sat there, hands on the wheel, taking deep breaths. Sweat coated his palms. It had been three years since he last sat in this drive. Letters, phone calls, and e-mails had kept him in touch, but now he was back in Jasper City for good. He was an adult, for crying out loud, and he did not need to be running home like a small child.

The door creaked, testimony of the truck's age, as he opened it and stepped out onto the driveway. His boots, like the truck, had seen better days. So had he.

Old possessions. Old clothes. Old beyond his thirty-five years. Just plain old.

David grabbed his duffel bag from the bed of the truck and trudged the few steps to the front door. He sidestepped the fat tomcat asleep on the porch's step. Fat Tom, big, yellow, and lazy.

"Mornin', Fat Tom," David whispered.

Fat Tom opened one eye in greeting and then rolled over, perfecting cat arrogance. David cocked his head. The door knocker was new, outlandish, and bulky. Mom's idea. He lifted the clown and let it fall against the metal plating. Yep, that heavy clank would get someone's attention.

So he did it again. And again. And again.

Someone yelled. "Coming!"

The clown went up and then down.

"I said I’m coming!"

Again David lifted the clown and let it plummet.

"Coming!" This time the voice screeched.

The door jerked open, and the woman, plump, beautiful, and smelling of jasmine, screeched again. This time in delight. "David!"

His feet practically left the porch as his mother pulled his tall frame down to her, enveloping him in a strong hug. "Oh my goodness! You said next week, David! Oh my goodness!"

The mantra nearly brought him to tears as she kept him in a bear hug, rocking gently.

"I couldn't wait, Mamma." Her gray streaked hair muffled his voice. "I had to see you."

She finally pulled back. "Oh, I have missed you. You look tired. And shaggy. Look at that hair. You would think it was the 70's again." She pulled at him. "Come in, silly! Go put your stuff up and get to the kitchen. I got to fatten you up again." David bent to kiss his mother's cheek. "I've missed you, Mamma. And your cooking."
"Your sister will be here in a little while, along with Marty Junior. She will be so surprised to see you."

His mom practically skipped back to the kitchen as David climbed the stairs. Once again the familiar felt strange. Same pictures still hung on the wall. The handrail still wiggled. New rosy carpet covered the floor.

He turned right and stood in front of his bedroom. His dad had painted over the green stripes that he put on the door so long ago. He peered inside. A wave of sadness surged over him.

Same full size bed. Same curtains. Same old furniture. But none of his life before remained. When he left, he had screamed, shouted, hurled curses, and said he would never return. Now his room was a guest room. His things must have been packed away in the attic or the storage building out back–his things that had once occupied the new home that he would have shared with Rebecca, things that David had moved into this room before he left it all behind. He forced a swallow past his dry throat and blocked those thoughts.

The duffel bag bounced once when he threw it on the bed. He sat beside it and buried his head in his hands. Weariness, that old cliché, washed over him and entered his bones. He was too tired and too empty.

As exhilarated as his mother was to see him, and his father and Darlene probably would be also, he doubted Jeremy would welcome him back. Resentment, borderline hate, still flowed between them.

"Your things are in the attic."

That deep, melodic voice had never changed. It commanded attention and brimmed with affection.

David smiled at his father, who leaned against the door frame. "Hey, Dad."

"Come here, Son." His dad took two long strides and pulled David into a tight embrace. "It's so good to see you home, Son. Let me look at you." His dad held him at arm's length. "You look tired. Beat up."

"I am tired."

"What happened in St. Louis?"

David shook his head. "Nothing, Dad. Nothing at all."

"You needed home." His dad could read him just as well as that well-worn Bible of his.
"Yeah. I needed home."


Don't want to wait and see if you won? Purchase your copy now at www.dmwebb.com Any online store such as Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, Books-a-Million, Lifeway, Family Christian Bookstore, etc.


D.M. Webb is giving away a copy of Mississippi Nights. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

14 comments:

Charity U said...

Please enter me! I'd love to read it. :)

Patsy said...

Would love to read this book!

plhouston(at)bellsouth(dot)net

Linda Kish said...

I would love to win a copy of this book.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Jennifer said...

It's sad when pain has us blaming another instead of accepting that there was nothing his brother could have done, even though he tried. Senseless hate and blame doesn't bring a person back
jennydtipton@gmail.com

Jo said...

Sounds great! I would love to read this book. Thanks for the opportunity!

Blessings,
Jo
ladijo40(at)aol(dot)com

cjajsmommy said...

Tugging at my heartstrings already. I'm eager to read the book. Please enter mein the giveaway. djragno (at) hotmail {dot} com

Anne Payne said...

whoa! this looks good :) I'm in!

Marianne said...

i really love the cover for D.M.Webb's Mississippi Nights, as well as the excerpt. Thank you for the opportunity to win this one.

Teela said...

I would like to win and review this book! Thank you! Teelayoung@hotmail.com

Carol N Wong said...

This sounds so exciting. Love the cover.


CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

ann said...

I so would love to win this book. It is my kind of reading . Thank you : ]
amhengst at verizon dot net

Bethany said...

Yet another book I'm excited about! I'd love to be entered :)

cbus.blogger at gmail dot com

Laura J said...

Looks like a great read!

Laurelprincess12 at gmail dot com

apple blossom said...

my daughter would love this book thanks for chance to win

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

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