Chloe knew she was giving up the quiet life when she married Hollywood A-lister, Jason Vanderholt. She expected harassment from paparazzi but not from the writers of Blood Ritual, a television crime drama that brought national attention to a tough case she is trying to solve as a forensic scientist. While she and the rest of the Albuquerque Police Department once collaborated with the show, now relations have gone sour, and details that the police are trying to keep secret in the investigation are cropping up in episodes watched by millions.
If that weren’t enough, everyone in Chloe’s life seems to be going through a rough patch, from her best friend, Lori, who is trying to plan a wedding, to her niece Kyra who is upset about Jason’s choice of television roles, to Jason himself who is inexplicably moody and withdrawn. None of this drama is the type of thing Chloe knows how to resolve.
She is trained to do one thing: hunt down the big bad wolves of the world. But with her connections to fame compromising her work, she may not even be allowed to stay on the case. The clock is ticking as law enforcement agencies across the country try to find a serial killer before he strikes again. Chloe is faced with a choice, to help catch one of the most evil criminals in history, or provide support to the friends and family who have always been there for her. Either way, she feels she might make the mistake of a lifetime.
Kenji got me onto the set of his show at night, after everyone had gone home. He told only Jason, who came with us. The security guards gave us curious looks, but our presence didn’t seem like a big deal to them. We acted nonchalant so that they wouldn’t be too curious.
This ensured that no one else knew that we were poking around. I’d had enough time beforehand to get the supplies I needed.
The set at night was an eerie place to be. I was used to seeing it crawling with people and activity. I scanned this week’s crime scene carefully. It was a convenience store that had been firebombed, so it was all charred and looked as if it should reek of chemical fumes. Since the charring had been done with paint, though, there was no real ash. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted it. At the back of the store, in a place where it might not even appear in any of the shots, was a box of crackers standing by itself.
That had been in the final Esperanza Dominguez crime scene. Same brand, same size, same everything. I tiptoed over to it, knelt down, and began to dust for prints.
“Why that?” asked Jason.
“It may look like nothing,” I said, “but it could be a taunt. Someone messing with me.”
Someone Else’s Fairytale Series, signed print copies
Emily Mah Tippetts writes science fiction as Emily Mah and sweet romance as E.M. Tippetts. A lifelong New Mexican, she lives with her family in Santa Fe, though she’s been known to spend years at a time in the UK, her second home. Aside from being a writer, she’s been a lawyer and jeweler, and is currently a stay at home mother, polymer clay artist, book designer/formatter, and owner of E.M. Tippetts Book Designs.