Prodigal Son by Kathleen Lopez

 

 

Between the Shades of Light and Dark

Samantha’s life is good, mostly. She loves her father deeply, but even daddy’s little girl finds the life of a military brat trying. Despite being the “new girl” too often, she soldiers on. Her mom could not. She lives for his life, but now wants one of her own. Helpless but to stand witness, Samantha’s life is once again packed up and shipped off, this time without her dad.

She now resides in the remote town of Columbus Cove. Saving her from the debilitating isolation was the cove’s latest resident, Channing Ashford. It’s as if he has stepped off the cover of a romance novel and into the sleepy little town. He is charming and handsome and Samantha’s sole focus. The reformed drifter reenergizes her and they find sanctuary within each other.

When a shocking murder claims more than one victim, the couple is blindsided. They find themselves embroiled in an investigation that threatens their newly found happiness. All their reserves of sanctuary are spent as the secrets that lay buried beneath the unpaved roads of Columbus Cove come to light.

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Prodigal Son

Sheriff Martin Shuller was good at his job. He had a reputation of being a very thorough and very honest investigator. It had not surprised anyone when he was tapped to help with an investigation in a small neighboring town with shocking high profile murder. Shuller, willing to help the quaint cove, readily accepted the challenge. Leaving his town in the safe hands of his deputy, Shuller traveled to Columbus Cove and worked the Steven Harrigan murder investigation. With the dramatic end to that case now behind him, Shuller returned to his seemingly normal and quiet town of Huntersville. He was glad to be back, despite only being gone for the brief time. A weight had felt lifted once he could return to his town, his routines, his life. He felt as if all the previous mounting stress left him as soon as he crossed into his town’s outer limits. Quiet and normal was what he was seeking. It certainly was not what he found.

Not long after returning home to his life and routine, a murder occurs, and it is too close for comfort for Shuller. Shuller, who always kept his personal life personal, now is faced with a dilemma as his personal life is now entangled in the spotlight of a murder investigation. Not wanting to taint the investigation, he is powerless to help and is sidelined, watching his officers work the case. His only solace he finds now is with Jeanie. Jeanie Jacobs is the dispatcher of the local fire house. His long suffering secretary, Susan, finally worked her magic and had gotten the two together. Shuller now regrets the times he pushed aside Susan’s match making attempts in the past as he now realizes Jeanie is all he can hold onto during the course of the investigation.

Shuller tries to come to grips with these revelations as those close to him worry for the embattled sheriff. As with most murders, there is more than just a single victim. Shuller had never thought that what had occurred in that house on Cedar Mill Lane would have uprooted what the reality he thought he knew.

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Excerpt from Prodigal Son

The cloudless summer’s evening was the perfect backdrop for a slow stroll to the diner.  A small faction of the crowd lingered about while others meandered to their cars.  A few also decided a trip to the diner was in order.  Several people wandered up the street ahead of them as they embarked up Emerson Street.  With the dissection of the night’s game behind them, the art of casual conversation seemed to elude Shuller.

As they leisurely walked along the street, their arms would occasionally brush against each other.  The casual chance contact would send chills up Jeanie’s arm to the base of her neck.  Shuller would practically freeze in what could be confused for sheer panic rather than the general thrill of a first date, which this evening had turned into it seemed.

Shuller did his best to keep the conversation going.  He sputtered on randomly about current events, trying to avoid work.  He didn’t think he’d impress her with cop shop.  The problem was he already ran the gamut of sports, what little politics he knew of, as well as the weather.  It killed about ten minutes.

“So, are you an action adventure kinda movie goer or a drama guy?”  Jeanie figured she would save Shuller from trying to carry the conversation.

“Hmm.  I have enough drama at work most days.”  He chuckled.  “I do enjoy a good explosion every now and again.”

“Typical guy.”  Jeanie laughed.

“Well, yeah.  I do like a variety of movies though,” Shuller continued.

“Let me guess.  Drama’s out, so I’ll say you typically go for action, mystery, suspense kind of movies.”

“Yeah.  Occupational hazard creeps in there a bit when it comes to my entertainment choices.  I do enjoy a good comedy and some sci-fi.”

“What, no westerns?”  Jeanie jested.

“Nah.  No westerns or martial arts either.  Not much of a fan.  I do like horror, but the best time of year to watch those is around Halloween.”

“Oh, I know.  Something about the cooler weather and a creepy movie,” Jeanie said.

“There’s nothing like freaking yourself out for no good reason.”  They shared a laugh.

“Alright.  So no westerns or martial arts flicks.  What about the tough guy killer, then?  Chick flicks.  What’s your opinion of rom coms?”

“Guys can like those,” he replied.  “Just not by themselves.  Those are kind of a date thing in my book.  That way you can say you were dragged to it despite wanting to see it,” Shuller said.

Jeanie gave him a swat on the arm and a smirk.  “So I’ll have to drag you to see one then, is what you’re saying?”

“That’s what I’ll tell people anyway.”  He snickered.  That sounds promising, he thought.

“Here we go,” Shuller said suddenly, trying to distract himself from the realization, she had started laying down the foundation for future dates.  They had reached the diner before he realized it.  He stepped forward and grabbed the door handle.

 

 

Sweet Child of Mine

It surprised no one when Sarah and Jack married right out of high school; not because Sarah was pregnant at 19, but because they had been inseparable since sophomore year. Sarah gave birth to twins, Mark and Julie, and a year later, Jacob. They settled in upstate New York, Jack a business manager and Sarah a Real Estate agent. They had the ‘mom and apple pie’ life.

Their picturesque dream life turned into a nightmare when on a warm summer’s day at the local park, the penny dropped. What would forever be referred to as The Incident changed their family forever.

Four years later, they welcomed Christian into their home. The foster child turned adopted son never understood why Sarah was overprotective, but dutifully obeyed all her restrictive rules. When he started acting out, the couple were desperate to find out the cause of their son’s bizarre behavior. However, when Christian tells them about his friend they realize just why they are suffering at the hands of their son.

When it comes to family, it’s the ties that bind…

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