I'm happy to report that getting back to my normal routine this week has also included work on the sequel to Move. Frankly, I have two things driving me crazy right now - the lack of a title, and the fact that I'm stuck on how I'm going to get Macy/Ruby from Scottsdale, Arizona to Tanger Falls, Tennessee! I have the first three chapters written, and I have some ideas of how things will progress once I get her back in Tennessee - it's just a matter that I have this plot gap of how to get her from where she is to where I need for her to be. I'm trying not to fret over it too much. I remember that I didn't have the title for Blurry until half of the rough draft was written, and getting stuck on these "bridge chapters" isn't uncommon either. I'm sure it will work out.
In the meantime, I'd like to share another excerpt from the manuscript. This is actually Chapter 2, where Detective Claire Barnes has remembered everything that was wiped from her memory, and she's trying to explain to her boss why she believes Macy and Ruby are the same person, and they need to find her. Remember that this is a rough draft, and it no doubt needs some sprucing up - but it gives you an idea of where this is going.
"You can’t be serious,” Captain Frank Nellins said, rubbing his brown eyes. Claire knew how he felt, even before he came walking in her office with his short, grey hair mussed and deepening lines on his face. He had been Captain of the Tanger Falls Police Force for three years, and the Simone Dawkins case had been a thorn in his side the entire time. She felt sorry for him, but not as sorry as she felt for herself.
“Look, I know it’s crazy. All I’m asking is that you give me a chance to check into it.” She spread ran her hands through her own shoulder length brown hair. “Let’s face it, Captain. My testimony is thin. The evidence isn’t as conclusive as we thought, and this might help.”
“Or it might make us look as crazy as Simone.” He poked at the file. “How can this help? You’re basically asking to reopen this investigation with only two weeks to spare chasing a wild goose!”
Claire’s jaw tensed, and she took a deep breath to calm herself. “Sir, Simone never backed down from her story about Ruby Josen. We assumed that she was referring to this Macy Anvil that worked for her for eleven years, but what if she was right? What if Ruby Josen does exist? If she does, she could seal the deal for this case.”
“In what way?” Captain Nellins asked. “In the court of public opinion, Simone Dawkins was responsible for two deaths – one of them a member of our own police force – to hide her affair with the first victim’s boyfriend. The circumstantial evidence against her is overwhelming, and we have physical evidence to back it up.”
“The physical evidence was only good enough to lock her up,” Claire said, her green eyes flaring. “I have to take the stand and explain how a Swiss Army Knife and hair clip with what turned out to be inconclusive DNA evidence linked her to the murders of Millie Banks and Phillip Wesson.”
“It matched her blood type. That’s all we really need.”
“She’s Type A Positive. That’s the most common blood type in the world.”
“It’s enough. That plus her ruby ring and the circumstances that she’s already admitted to will seal the deal.”
“A ruby ring that’s half a size too small, and that her son and ex-husband claimed she never owned.”
Captain Nellins laughed. “That’s right, the ring was planted. This Ruby character planted it on her. Isn’t that her claim?”
Claire sighed. “Before you give me the ‘she could have squeezed it on and it cut her when the firefighters pulled it off her finger in the office fire’ logic, I doubt it. Maybe if it were January, like it is now,” she said, gesturing to the overcast day outside her office window, “but not when we arrested her. It was late May. It was ninety degrees. Her fingers would have been too swollen from the heat to squeeze that ring on, no matter how hard she tried.” She stood and paced. “It’s coming undone, Captain. We need to find something more to tie it together or she’s going to walk. Remember, it’s not a jury here in Tanger Falls that will hear the case. They’re pulling jurors from Nashville because of the extensive media coverage.”
“So you decide to go back over the evidence and interviews we did in the cases for Millie Banks, Phillip Wesson, and the Goodard Graphics office fire to what? Plump up your testimony? And you find this Ruby Josen and decide to follow this lead now? Why?”
“I never let it go. I just stumbled upon a couple of things that reopened it for me.” Claire sat back down and pulled out the case file, removing some papers. “Remember when we had that hacking incident nearly two months ago, when somebody got in our database?”
“How could I forget?” Captain Nellis said, rubbing his head again. “I get a headache just thinking about it. People are still screaming over it.”
“I talked to the consultant from the IT company we called in to investigate it. A nice guy named Oliver. Tall, short blonde hair and green eyes. A real cutie pie, and smart as a whip.”
“And what did cute little Oliver have to say about it?”
Claire blushed, but composed herself quickly. “The only files that were accessed were the files for the Simone Dawkins case. Nothing was taken, but he asked me to help him go through the hard copy backups to make sure nothing was modified in the files. It’s probably the first time anybody’s looked at them since we arrested Simone.” She turned and tapped some keys on her computer. “The first thing I want is for you to listen to the digital recording from the interviews we did at Goodard Graphics the day after the Millie Banks murder.” She hit a few keys and the speakers started playing.
“Please state your name for the record.”
There was a brief pause and then a soft response. “Macy Anvil.”
She hit another key to stop the recording. “Fair enough, according to the recording, we were interviewing Macy Anvil.” She pulled some papers from her desk and turned them to Captain Nellins. “But according to my notes from the same time that recording was taken, look at who I noted.”
Captain Nellins sighed. “Ruby Josen.”
Claire nodded. “I found discrepancies like that throughout all of the files. But here’s what’s most interesting,” she said, pulling a folder off the desk beside her computer and opening it. “These are Phillips notes from the Millie Banks interviews. Look who he mentions in all of his notes.”
Captain Nellins picked up the papers and flipped through them. “Ruby Josen every time.” He laid them down and stared at Claire. “I’m surprised the State Attorney General hasn’t asked about this.”
“She never got it.”
Claire gathered up the file. “It was never added to our database. We sent all of the information to the Attorney General’s office digitally. They’ve converted to that new secure online system. In fact, according to all of our records and notes on this case, nobody has even asked for or about Phillips notes on the Millie Banks murder.”
“I wonder why?” Captain Nellins asked.
Claire shrugged. “I think it’s because we assumed Simone was guilty of all of these crimes. We’re trying her for two homicides and arson. But what if she’s right? What if there is more to all of this, and Ruby Josen is the answer?”
“I’ll admit it’s strange,” Captain Nellins said. “So where do we find her?”
Claire smiled. “Oliver might have helped me with that one as well. When he was checking our systems, he noticed that our office made a number of unanswered telephone calls to an out of state number between mid December and as recently as last week. He didn’t know what that was all about, but he’s checking into it.” She pulled some more papers from beside her computer. “But I didn’t feel like waiting. I called the number, but it always rang four times and cut off. No voice mail or anything. I thought that was curious, so I checked with the nationwide cell phone providers and got lucky.” She passed the papers to Captain Nellins. “That phone number is registered to Macy Anvil.”
“Simone’s subordinate that conveniently moved right before her arrest.”
Claire nodded. “I started to wonder. Between this and the discrepancy in our database and written notes, I wonder if Macy Anvil and Ruby Josen are the same person.”
Captain Nellins jumped. “How could that be possible?”
“How can it be possible that half our notes refer to Macy and the other half refer to Ruby?” Claire shrugged. “I don’t know, but with a lack of anything making better sense, it’s the only theory I’m left with that makes even a little bit of sense.” She leaned back in her chair. “That’s why I’m asking for your permission to open this back up, Captain. Please, I know it sounds crazy, but if Simone’s defense team gets ahold of this and we don’t have something better to explain it, then this case could fall apart and the judge could dismiss it without bring any answers or closure to Tanger Falls.”
“That would be bad,” Captain Nellins said. “We were never a big town, and people have been moving out since those crimes happened. They never really got over it.” He sighed. “Maybe you’re right. Maybe this Macy Anvil, or Ruby Josen, or whoever, can shed some light on it.”
“It’s worth trying if she can give us any answers that make better sense than what we’ve got.”
“Fine,” Captain Nellins said sharply. “Track down this Macy Anvil. It’s the one real name we have.”
“I already have, sir,” Claire said.
He nodded approvingly. “Where did you find her?”
“In the Valley of the Sun. She’s in Phoenix, Arizona.”
“Then pack your bags. You’re heading out west tomorrow.” Captain Nellins stood and shook Claire’s hand. “Good job, detective. Go find her. Bring her back here, if you can. See if she can nail this case for us, for once and for all.”
Claire smiled. “I look forward to it, sir.”