I’ve received a lot of question about when and if there will be more books in the Goode-Grace series. The answer is a resounding “yes.” I’ve already started work on book 4, which will be called Grace Under Fire. I’ve also planned out the story for two additional books, Saving Grace and Good Graces.
To hold you over until the the book is finished, I offer this preview of chapter one:
“Deputy Grace, do you copy?” the voice said from far away. Bobby stared at his hand. It was rapidly filling with blood. His own blood, gushing like someone turned on a faucet. He tried to calm himself down. A rapidly beating heart would only pump blood out of the bullet hole in his shoulder faster.
“Bobby!” the voice said. “Do you hear me? Are you with me!” He’d managed to crawl back to his vehicle and call in his own shooting. On the other end of the radio, dispatch was showing signs of panic.
“I’m here,” he said.
At least for now. If he died it was his own fault for being stupid; careless and complacent just because he was back home where it was supposed to be safe. Add his name to the list of people who made it out of a combat zone without a scratch and then died tragically at home. Well, don’t put him on the list yet. There was still some time and help was on the way. The problem was that help was so far away. How in the hell did he get so careless? He’d seen the guy kneeling next to a car pulled over to the side the road. The left front wheel was on a jack and the man seemed as if he was trying to free a lug nut. He’d just gotten out of the patrol car, no weapon drawn. He’d not asked the man to stand or move away from the car. Like so many other crime victims he’d met over the years, Deputy Bobby Grace had been lulled into a false sense of security because he was out in the country. The sky was so damn blue today with clouds so fluffy and white he’d actually stopped to take a picture on his front porch that morning because it was pretty. Something to remember summer by when the gray Ohio winter set in. Bright green corn, blue skies, hanging baskets overflowing with red, white, and purple petunias. (Petunias didn’t come in blue, you had to settle for purple.) His wife, dressed all in black as usual, with glittering purple eye shadow the color of the petunias and dark red lipstick on her heart-shaped lips had kissed him on the lips and handed him his sack lunch. The birds were singing, the sun was shining. How could this day end badly?
He’d only gotten as far as saying, “Can I help you out there, Sir?” to the motorist seemingly struggling to change a tire by the side of the road. That was his first mistake. Thinking of someone you know nothing about as just a motorist instead of an unknown male subject. Then the man turned and opened fire. He fired three shots, at least one of which hit Bobby in his left shoulder. Bobby had gotten a few rounds off. He’d just kept firing, which had been enough to scare the assailant off. The guy drove right off the jack, so there likely wasn’t a problem with his vehicle at all. He was lying in wait. Bobby had cheerfully walked right into that trap. The best Bobby could tell dispatch was that the suspect was male, probably a white male, but he could have been any ethnicity. A baseball cap covered his hair, if he had any. Sunglasses shaded his eyes. The vehicle was a late model Ford. Black, super shiny like it had been recently washed and waxed. Definitely Ohio license plates, though. He’d had enough sense to notice that.
“Bobby?” the voice over the radio said again. Hallie Woodrow was on duty. Bree Adamson was off because she was attending a party with Deputy Dow Wilson. Bobby was all the way out here because Dow had taken a day off to celebrate the wedding of his cousin to Sheriff Wally Kane’s niece. Wally was there too. With his new position as the major crimes investigator and public information officer for the sheriff’s department, Bobby didn’t go out on patrol much these days. Boy, was the sheriff’s office out of luck. Shooting an officer was definitely a major crime and this would certainly call for a press release.
Thieves had been hitting the old Braxton fabrication plant out in what was left of Walker Township these days. The county had basically given the empty building to a company looking to start it up again. The building was now packed full of building supplies and thieves had hit it twice already during the past two weeks. Construction was shut down because the pipefitters had been delayed on another job. Junkies gravitated towards metal like the pigeons and squirrels in the Himmel town square did towards Bobby’s lunch. The sheriff’s office was checking in on the site daily. Some folks thought it was great that law enforcement was looking out for a new business that promised to bring in a couple dozen jobs and a little life back to Walker Township. Others complained loudly that the place should just hire its own security. Would Dow have made Bobby’s mistake? Or would Dow already be dead?
“Suspect has fled the scene. I’m lit up. Shouldn’t be hard to find,” he said. “I have to try to stop this blood.”
He thought of the bag of t-shirts on the passenger seat beside him. He’d stopped by Davenport Silkscreen and More to pick up samples of t-shirts for this year’s Battle of the Badges Blood Drive. Sheriff Kane had decided Bobby was just the guy to handle the details. The sheriff’s offices in three counties, along with local police departments, and fire departments competed to see who could donate the most blood. Not just from the first responders, but from citizens donating on behalf of their team. He’d stayed longer than he meant to at the store talking to Banks Davenport. The poor man had recently lost his wife of more than forty years in a car accident. Bobby patiently listened as the man vented about road conditions and the need for a traffic light at the intersection where Mrs. Davenport died. Young Ruby Davenport quietly bagged up the shirts while her grandfather spoke. She’d surely heard most of it before. She was getting big, a middle-schooler now with blue and green streaks in her hair, helping her grandpa out in his store.
“Ruby designed two of these shirts,” Banks said. “You’ll have to guess which ones.”
“The best ones,” Ruby said.
“Deputy Grace’s wife is an artist, too,” he said.
“I know that, Grandpa,” Ruby said. “Everyone knows.”
“That’s why I said okay to her having hair like a parrot,” Banks said. “Lucinda had her doubts, but I said ‘Look at Mrs. Grace there with her crazy hair and clothes. She’s a successful artist, that’s how they dress. And Lucinda saw my point.”
“You’re a successful artist, too,” Bobby said, because that’s what his wife, Trinity, would have said. “How many years have you designed shirts, hats, and logos?”
“That’s not exactly art,” Banks said.
“I sure couldn’t do it. And I know that typography is really important because my wife tells me so.”
Thankfully, he’d been too lazy to put the shirts in the trunk. Now he was using all five of them to staunch the bleeding from his shoulder. He’d put his personal phone on the passenger seat, and when he had the wad of shirts pressed as hard against his shoulder as he could manage, Bobby said, “Call my wife.”
Thankfully, she answered right away. “Hey, babe. What’s your ETA? I want to know when to take this out of the oven.”
“I love you,” Bobby said. He was verging on tears and she heard it immediately.
“I’m hurt,” he said honestly. “I’ve called it in. Help’s on the way. But I needed to tell you that.”
“Where are you?” Trinity asked.
“I’m pretty far out. Outside of Walker Township.”
“Don’t get scared,” he said.
“Bobby Grace, what happened?”
“I got myself shot,” he said. “Shoulder area.” He heard her exhale on the other end. Shoulder didn’t sound so bad when you couldn’t see the blood gushing from it.”
“You aren’t supposed to get shot,” she said.
“I apologize,” Bobby said. “I owe you a Coke.”
“Make it a rum and Coke.”
“Fair enough.” The strength was leaving his hand. “I’m sorry. I was so stupid.”
“It’ll be fine. I promise not to yell at you.”
“I don’t want to die.” He was afraid and he didn’t want the last things he ever said to her to be lies. “I love my life. Every day is perfect because I wake up and there you are.”
“You’re not going to die,” she said. “I forbid it.”
Try not to hate me. That’s all I have for now.