Murder on the Mountain
(Marshall Brothers Book 1)
By Carolyn LaRoche
Emma Thomas hasn’t been home in years. Only back in Staunton for a few months, she plans to put her investigative reporter skills to use in exposing the trafficking group using her peaceful, idyllic hometown to move drugs. But when she stumbles onto more than drugs, bullets start flying and she has to ask the one person she left Virginia to avoid for help.
Detective Adam Marshall has been working this cartel case for months. On the precipice of breaking the organization wide open, he can’t believe the one woman he’d never been able to get over now holds the key to closing his case. His head warns him to steer clear, but his heart won’t let him walk away when Emma’s life is on the line.
Thrown together by chance after so many years, Adam and Emma work together to break the biggest case of both of their careers and heal some old wounds in the process. Falling in love wasn’t on the docket for either of them, but things don’t always go as planned.
·Can you remember if there was a moment when you decided you wanted to be a writer?
Before I begin, I’d like to say thank you for having me here for a visit today. I am excited to connect with your readers and hope they enjoy our chat as well.
Way back in my younger days I worked as a research assistant in a chemical engineering company. I spent all day, every day alone in my lab watching whatever mixture I had created that morning do its thing. Every hour, I recorded the temperature and pH for around six hours. I couldn’t leave it alone for any length of time because chemistry unattended chemistry experiments can often go very, very wrong! One day, as I sat on my stool watching the mixer spin, I starting brainstorming an idea for a murder mystery. I jotted the ideas down on a legal pad and before I knew what was happening, it had become a chapter. Every day I wrote on that legal pad and then at night, when my husband worked, I typed it up. Eventually that became my very first full length novel. It has never been seen by anyone but I still have it.
·What inspired you to write your first book?
My absolute favorite kind of story is mystery/suspense with at least a touch of romantic tension. I also studied forensic science and criminalistics in graduate school so when I decided to write the first book, it was only natural there would be a serial killer in it. I can’t say I was inspired to write a certain book, since the process sort of evolved out of too much time on my hands but the genre most definitely came from my interests in all things crime investigation.
·How did it feel to finish your first book to a publisher? What was the most terrifying thing about submitting your first book?
I’d been writing for several years prior to subbing to a publisher. I had self-published a couple of books before self-publishing became a real thing. The idea of an actual publisher came about when I received an email newsletter listing several small presses that didn’t require an agent. I’d just finished a romantic suspense book titled Witness Protection whim and a prayer I sent it off to one of them.
The most terrifying part of it was having someone that wasn’t a friend or family member actually read my book and make a decision on whether or not other people would pay to read it. Until this point, writing had been a hobby and stress reliever. When I received that acceptance email for the first time…well, there are no words to accurately describe the feeling. Now, three publishers and a dozen books later, I still get that same feeling.
·Was it easy to tell your friends and family that you were writing romance? What was their reaction?
Well, my sisters assumed I wrote porn and my mom was afraid for my soul because sex is a sin…
I’m totally serious!
It took them all a while to realize that there are so many levels to romance and that there is so much more to it than sex. My books don’t tend to be overly sexy, I sort of let the story and the characters decide but I like happy endings. Romance is about love and support and feeling cherished. Sex is just the cherry on top.
·Is it still just as exciting to have a book accepted? Why do you think that is?
Yesterday I received the box of paperbacks of Murder on The Mountain. It was just as exciting to see my name on a book cover and my story on the pages as it was the very first time. The novelty never wears off and I have no idea why.
·If you were going to prepare a meal for the man / woman of your dreams, what would it be?
I cook for the man of my dreams every single day. We just celebrated our twentieth anniversary a couple of days ago and I’d do it all again. Our favorite meal to share is steak with sautéed onions and mushrooms, baked potato and salad. I didn’t even know I liked steak until we were dating and he cooked me dinner one night. And I had absolutely no idea how to cook it properly. He’s a good man because he has never once complained about a botched meal ever, even when I knew how bad it was.
·If you were given one wish, what would you do with it? (No, you can’t cure diseases or solve world peace… but for the rest… go nuts).
You know that meme that circulates every so often that asks if you could have an hour to sit on a park bench with someone who would it be? That would be my wish. An hour with my parents to tell them about all the things that have happened since they passed away. When I lost my dad several years ago, it was heart breaking but I still had my mom. Now that they are both gone, I find myself hoping that I’m still making them proud.
·If you weren’t a writer, what other artistic outlet do you think you’d have?
I used to play the violin. Maybe I’d play again. Or learn to play the guitar and piano finally. I’ve always wanted to do both. I’m not especially gifted in music but I did okay and miss my violin days sometimes.
·Do you have a secret skill that you can share with us?
I don’t have any super hero talents or anything like that but I really enjoy crocheting. I am self-taught and always have a couple projects going on at a time.
·If you could have one super power, what would it be and why?
So, if I were to have a super power, I’d want the power to be able to teleport myself from place to place. Need a loaf of bread from the supermarket? Done. Have to go to the bathroom but don’t feel like walking there? Got it covered. The applications would be limitless!
Emma clapped a hand over her mouth to stifle the scream that tried to escape. The shooter looked toward the window. Had he heard her? She turned to run, her boots instead slipping on some leaves, sending her crashing to the ground.
Heavy footsteps moved across the floor of the cabin, echoing in the quiet woods around her.
Emma scrambled to her feet and ran for all she was worth, crashing through the brush, no longer even trying to be quiet.
The door to the cabin slammed open as she sprinted for the pathway back down the mountain to her car. The air reverberated with the echo of several gunshots. Tiny hairs prickled on the back of her neck as a light whistling noise passed her ear.
“Stop! I’m warning you! Stop or I’ll shoot you!” The man’s voice echoed off the trees but she kept running. It was a stupid thing to say, since he had already tried to shoot her. Her gut told her there was no way she’d get out of this alive if she stopped moving.
Halfway down the mountain, Emma’s toe caught one of those roots again. The action sent her sprawling to the ground, and she began to roll down the mountain. Grabbing at branches and brush, she finally stopped herself and pulled her aching body up off the ground. Her knee burned where the fabric had torn and flesh had scraped against the ground. Footsteps and voices sounded behind her, but they were further away than she’d expected. Her little fall seemed to have given her an advantage. She pulled herself up, ignoring the pain in her injured knee, and ran as fast as she could.
The sun had almost completely become lost below the treetops; the darkness made it hard for her to navigate. Finally, Emma burst out of the trees, gasping for air and sweating like a fiend. Her old car sat quietly, right where she’d left it. She dug in her pocket for the keys, but they were gone.
She must have lost them on the way down! Running straight to the back of the car, Emma groped around up under the bumper. Her fingers grasped the small magnetic box and she pulled the hidden key out of its safe storage container, grateful her father had insisted on putting it there when she left for college. As she ran to the driver-side door, the back door window exploded beside her, covering her in tiny little pieces of glass.
Yanking open the driver door, she jumped into the seat, slammed the door shut, and jammed the key into the ignition. Just as the engine turned over and she floored the gas pedal, the man from the cabin ran out of the woods. Her tires ground into the shoulder, spewing a cloud of rocks and dirt. Eventually, she gained control of her car and took off down the mountain roadway known as the Blue Ridge Parkway. Clutching the wheel, she prayed she’d stay on the road.
All the way back to Staunton, she kept an eye on the rear-view mirror. When a dark-colored car came into view, she panicked, but it had a different shape than the one she’d seen and turned off a couple of exits later. As soon as Emma hit the Main Street exit, she drove straight through town.
Twelve years she’d stayed away from Staunton, avoiding her hometown and missing her parents, to not have to do the very thing she was about to do. Emma took a deep breath and steered her car onto the street that housed the Staunton Police Department. She had no other choice. There was only one man who could help her figure this out.
Science teacher by day, writer and baseball mom by night, Carolyn LaRoche lives near the ocean with her husband, two boys, rescue puppy and four cats. She loves crocheting, books, food videos and trying new recipes.
Twitter: @CarolynLaRoche https://twitter.com/CarolynLaRoche
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