A Carol for Kent is the third book in a set of Christian contemporary romantic suspenseful thrillers from best selling inspirational novelist, Hallee Bridgeman. The exciting new SONG OF SUSPENSE series continues everywhere fine books are sold May 13, 2014 with book 3, A Carol for Kent.
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Olivia Kimbrell Press
EBook ISBN: 978-1-939603-27-2
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Olivia Kimbrell Press
The Back Cover:
A Ruthless Serial Killer Seeks to End a Love Song Eight Years in the Making.
Assistant Commonwealth Attorney CAROL MABRY heads up an investigation into a string of stranglings in Virginia’s capital. The serial killer known as Richmond Red remorselessly snuffs out beautiful young women with violin strings before ritually enshrining their lovely lifeless bodies inside a pentagram of blood red candles.
Country music superstar BOBBY KENT makes an unscheduled return trip to his Virginia home for the first time in years. To his shock, he discovers that he and Carol have a young daughter, Lisa. His parents have kept Lisa hidden from him her entire life while simultaneously deceiving Carol about Bobby’s interest in fatherhood.
Angry and hurt over the deception, Carol and Bobby strive to cope with this newly discovered reality. They struggle to overcome harmful secrets and years of lies to decide whether they have a future. Neither of them realize how every waking moment they move closer to the serial killer who harbors an unnatural and deadly obsession.
With the beautiful Carol locked in Richmond Red’s sites, the clock is ticking down to her destruction. Will the two find love, or is their sonata striking a dangerous final chord?
Excerpt from the Book:
“Afternoon. I wanted to let you know we got the lab results back. I know you’ll have the original in your office Monday morning.”
“Yeah, I have Lisa’s party today. So, I will definitely not be working.”
“Well, just so you know, she was drugged. She had enough sedative in her that it wouldn’t have mattered if the guy strangled her or not. She would have probably suffocated from the date-rape drug cocktail.”
Carol shut the door behind her. As she was stepping off of the top step, she heard her personal cell phone ringing from inside the house. She almost went back inside to answer it, but then changed her mind. She was already running late, and she had her work cell since she was on call.
“Anything similar in any open cases that you know of?”
“Not this particular combination. But we are definitely checking.”
“Okay. Thanks for calling.”
“Sure thing. Enjoy the princess’s party. Send her the wife’s love.”
Carol grinned. “I will.” She made sure Lisa was strapped in, then got into the front seat and started her car. She had fifteen little eight and nine year olds showing up at Lisa’s grandparents’ ranch in less than three hours and had Lisa’s birthday lunch in the meantime.
The birthday girl had selected her favorite pizza parlor for her eighth birthday lunch, as she had every year since she could pronounce the word, and brought Amy Bradford, best friend since kindergarten, along with her as she also always had since the day they met. The two little girls giggled and whispered as they ate green olive pizza with extra cheese, and Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Carol Mabry intentionally let go of the thoughts of the strangled CPA.
She forced herself to focus entirely on her daughter while they were in the restaurant. By the time they piled back into her Jeep, she had mentally left murder and autopsy reports behind, and transformed from A. C. A. Carol Mabry into just Carol, just Ms. Mabry, just Lisa’s mom.
The drive to the ranch took twenty minutes, and the girls sat in the back seat, continuing their whispered conversation. The whispers got louder until they were full-fledged yells, and Carol finally interrupted them. “Girls! What are you two arguing about?”
“Ms. Mabry, who do you think is cuter? Trevor West or Bobby Kent?” Amy asked. Carol felt her stomach tighten.
“I told you, Bobby Kent is way cuter than Trevor West. Besides, Trevor West is married and has like a dozen kids. Bobby Kent isn’t married, so that makes him even more cute,” Lisa said. “Plus, he has the same name as my grandma and grandpa. That’s even more extra points.”
“What do you think, Ms. Mabry?” Amy asked again.
Carol refused to get a headache on Lisa’s birthday. Sometimes, tension and stress built up so that she would get headaches that made her have to lie down in a darkened room and fight back tears of pain. But it wasn’t going to happen to her today, despite the pain she felt creeping into her temples. She would will it away. “I think you two should play rock-paper-scissors, and whoever wins is right,” she said, turning onto the drive that led to the ranch house.
The game brought on another bout of arguing, but by then, Carol enjoyed the beautiful flowering dogwoods that lined the stretch of lane that led to the ranch house. On either side, rolling hills with green grass stretched out beyond black fences, peppered with grazing horses.
As they pulled up in front of the house, she noticed the extra vehicle, but thought nothing of it. This season, the Kents often hired extra hands to help in planting the hay fields and prepping the kitchen garden.
As they got out of the vehicle she looked around, but it didn’t look as if anything had been done to prepare for the party. Harriet was so efficient that Carol usually had nothing to do by the time she came over. She remembered her phone ringing right before lunch and immediately worried that something had happened to Robert. She turned to the girls as they got out of the Jeep. “Lisa, go look in on the new foal Lightning dropped last week. I’m going inside to see what grandma’s up to.”
“Okay, Mommy. Come on, Amy,” Lisa said, then they took off at a run toward the horse barn.
“Don’t go inside the stall without a grownup. Just look if Daniel isn’t in the barn!” Carol called to them, then turned to go in the house. She had her hand on the door when Harriet opened it and stepped out onto the porch. With the older woman’s red rimmed eyes, pale skin, and scraggly hair, Carol immediately knew something was very wrong.
“Carol,” Harriet greeted with a hitched breath, then she stopped.
“What’s the matter, Harriet?” Carol asked, taking the older woman’s arm and guiding her back to the door. “What happened? Is Robert all right?”
Harriet put her hand over her face and burst into tears. “Oh Carol. I’m so sorry.” Carol steered her through the door and into the kitchen. Harriet collapsed into a chair at the table and buried her face in her hands, her body wracking with sobs. Carol looked over and saw Robert seated at the table. He looked so frail, like a strong wind might just break him to pieces. He reached out to take his wife’s hand.
“Robert, what is it? What happened?” she asked. She started feeling really frightened.
“Carol,” he whispered, then cleared his throat and stopped. He cleared his throat again, then said in a stronger voice, “Whatever happens, whatever gets said, you have to know that we are truly sorry. Don’t let this spoil Lisa’s birthday.”
“What’s going on?” Carol demanded, her teeth set. “Tell me right now. Right this second.”
UNOBSERVED until this moment, international Country Music superstar Bobby Kent studied Carol Mabry from the doorway of his parent’s kitchen. The anger at his parents burned through his system slow and low, like an underground lava flow. They’d decided to tell him about two hours ago.
His mind rejected the fact that he had a daughter; an eight-year-old daughter. It was too much to fathom at one time. How could two people who professed to love him have kept that information from him? He hadn’t been able to get an explanation out of them yet. Both of them had been too upset to make any sense. But he assumed it had something to do with money. It nearly always did. He figured the woman standing over them at the table could shed some light on the subject for him.
For obvious reasons, he’d known who they were talking about before they’d even said her name. The moment she spoke, every memory of her became vividly pronounced. They’d met in a classical violin class during a summer semester at the University of Georgia four weeks before he received the call about his demo and packed his bags to leave. He had been amazed with her musical skill and impressed with her in general. He had asked her out and they had shared some lunches and a dinner and gone to a movie together on a double date.
The night he got the call, they had celebrated. They’d sat on the tailgate of his truck and eaten too many Krystal cheeseburgers washed down with way too much celebratory champagne. The celebration had gone until dawn. Bobby assumed Lisa arrived a scant nine months later.
He wanted to turn his anger to someone other than his parents, but he couldn’t find it in him to force it onto her. The one thing his father, Robert, had been very clear about was that they had misled Carol all this time. All these years.
Carol believed that Bobby knew all about his daughter, Lisa. So Bobby ran his hand through his hair and prepared himself to face her righteous wrath. He had a feeling it would take some time to convince her that he wasn’t the bad guy here.
He stepped fully into the kitchen, his boot hitting the linoleum, causing a sound that reverberated through the room. Carol stiffened, as if she knew whom she was about to see, and turned to face him. He watched the recognition come instantly, and suddenly her hazel eyes filled with burning rage so powerful he almost wished he hadn’t made his presence known.
“Oh, of course! Should have known,” she bit out through gritted teeth. “Exactly what are you doing here? Today of all days?”
He didn’t know how to begin, so he decided to start with his defense. From the look on her face, though, he wasn’t sure she would even hear his words. “I didn’t know, Carol.”
Carol put a hand to her temple as if warding off a headache. “What are you doing here, Bobby? Why are you here?” she repeated in a weak voice.
He took a step toward her. “I swear to you, Carol, they never told me. They lied to you. They lied to both of us.”
He heard the sound of two pairs of feet running across the porch at the same time that a panicked looked flashed across Carol’s face. She spun around as the screen door flew open. “We have fifteen kids and their parents showing up in less than an hour. I can’t deal with this right now,” she declared over her shoulder through gritted teeth.
He watched as she kept her back to them and intercepted Lisa before she made it completely into the kitchen. Bobby had a chance to see a flash of hair and the toe of pink sneakers, but Carol blocked the rest of his view. It took every single ounce of willpower in him to keep from shoving her out of the way and giving him full access to his daughter.