FEEDBACK: Yes, please. I respond to everything except flames. Constructive. criticism is valued.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters. No profit is being made. It's all for fun. OH! Wait – I DO own Caroline, Frank and the fictional "Lancaster," Indiana, and everyone you meet from "there." Please don't take them (unless of course, you want to publish them and make the New York publishing houses regret not doing it and then… call me!)
Author's Note (Please Read this one): This is an experiment for me. Since a number of people mentioned enjoying my writing style I thought I'd do a little crossover between CJ and the characters from my series of novels. Feedback will be especially appreciated!
A/N2: POV will shift from third person mostly-omniscient for Jordan and first person for Caroline since my novels are written in first POV. Hopefully that won't confuse anyone
Part One: Opportunity Knocks
Garret looked in on Jordan and Nigel in Trace. He opened the door. They both looked up, Nigel holding a fiber in front of his face. Macy looked at Jordan. "I need to talk to you when you're done here."
Jordan nodded. "Um- yeah, okay. We shouldn't be too much longer."
Garret closed the door.
Nigel glanced over at Jordan. "All right," he teased. "What'd you do this time?"
"I have no idea!"
"Come on, Jordan. You can tell me." He grinned at her.
"Really, Nige, I don't know." She stripped off her gloves. "There was that – that incident last week-"
"The one that found you and our not-so-beloved Detective Hoyt screaming at each other?"
She grimaced. "That would be the one." She tossed the gloves away and swiped the back of her hand across her forehead. "But that was last week. Early last week. And he was wrong."
"A fact I doubt he appreciated."
"He doesn't appreciate much these days," she muttered. "You got the rest of this? If Garret's unhappy with something I've done, I'd like to find out what it is."
Nigel nodded. "Yeah, go."
Jordan walked down the hall showing a lot more confidence than she felt. She was fairly certain she knew why Garret wanted to see her and she didn't relish the interview. She tapped lightly at his door. Maybe he wouldn't hear her and she could head back down the hall, say she'd gone to see him and he hadn't been there and…
"Come in, Jordan."
"Damn," she breathed. She shoved her hands into the pockets of her jeans and nudged the door open with a toe. "What's up?"
He glanced up from the paperwork on his desk. "I think you know." She hung back in the doorway. "You'd better come in and close the door."
She did as told and took a seat across from him, perched precariously on the edge of the chair. "Okay, so I'm in."
For a moment, Macy said nothing. Finally he sighed. "Why, Jordan? Why?"
I strolled up from the mailbox, flipping through the variety of fliers, bills and other miscellany as a light spring breeze whistled through the new green leaves on the trees. This was the sort of day I didn't mind the half-mile round trip from the house to the mailbox and back. Our temps had topped out in the high seventies with a white-dappled blue sky overhead and sunlight that warmed without scorching. Besides the trees, our crocus, daffodil and tulip bulbs had started shooting up and the field behind the house was stirring to life. Another snowy Midwest winter was behind us and the humidity of summer was nothing more than last year's unpleasant memory. The house came into view and I remembered again I'd never trade Lancaster, Indiana anyway.
I'd moved here when I was twenty-two years old, a young wife and fresh-faced Latin teacher. My ex's family went back to Lancaster's founding and he was one of the town's blue-eyed boys (literally). When I couldn't provide him with the next Roman numeral in the family name (Peter Wilmot IV to be exact), he'd hedged his bets and gotten his girlfriend pregnant. Four years after my marriage began, it ended in a bitter flurry of accusations and publicity. I may have loathed the man by then, but his hometown had become mine, so I'd stayed. I'd become a little less fresh-faced, but I still taught Latin at Lancaster's exclusive Hampton Academy. I spent time with the best friend I'd ever had – Anne Marie Felton, whose family also went back to Lancaster's founding and who'd been friends with Pete her whole life until he did what he did. I dated, but avoided deep entanglements. Falling in love with a widowed police detective with two young daughters hadn't been anywhere in my plans. Then again neither had been dealing with the murder of one of our students during a Senior class school slumber party. The best laid plans….
I walked through the garage just as Frank opened the back door. "Mom called – she and Dad will be here a bit early."
I stood on tiptoe to kiss him. "That's fine. I just have to finish the salad." The first cookout of the season was something of an event around the Daniels household. I followed him into the house, handing him all the post except the most intriguing envelope. I slit the seal and pulled out an invitation. I opened it. "Frank!"
He looked up from his own perusal of the mail. "What?"
"Did you know about this?"
He glanced at the card in my hand. His brow crinkled. "Is it about Mel?"
"You did know! And you didn't tell me."
He gave me a confused look. "I didn't realize you and Mel were that close."
"You know I think she's great." I pouted. "Besides she's an amazing M.E. How can anyone ever replace her?"
He sighed in what I knew to be mock consternation. "Only my wife would be worried about the quality of Hamilton County's new chief M.E." He put his hands on my shoulders. "It'll be fine. And Mel's excited."
I read the invitation again and again couldn't believe my eyes. "About moving to Alaska?"
"She says it's beautiful."
He kissed my forehead. "Besides, Mellila, things seem back to normal around here. Traffic accidents, drug busts and fights – no murders."
He never learns… You never say stuff like that.
Jordan peered down at the body. She tilted her head. "Cause of death not really a question," she muttered.
"Nope. I may not be trained in forensics, but I'm pretty sure ramming a wrought iron garden stake through someone's heart is fatal."
Jordan looked over her shoulder. "Hi."
The man held out his hand. "Frank Daniels, Lancaster P.D." Jordan appraised him. Probably about six-four, medium build, with close cropped silvery-blond hair, a sturdy, square jaw and the most amazing eyes she'd ever seen – brown flecked with motes of gold and hints of green.
"Jordan Cavanaugh, new chief M.E." She gestured to the body. "You get this sort of thing a lot?"
Frank shook his head. "This is a pretty quiet place. Run of the mill crimes are traffic accidents and the like. Suspicious deaths we manage to avoid for the most part." He gave her a weary smile. "Of course, our last murder involved our police chief's wife. And she was stabbed in the throat with a shard of broken mirror."
"Nice," Jordan commented sarcastically. "So it's more quality than quantity around here?"
He nodded. "You could say that."
"So," she assessed him again and decided from the faint laugh lines around his eyes and mouth, he must have at least a decent sense of humor. "I'll get him back to the morgue, make the i.d., verify cause of death…."
"Oh, I can tell you who he is."
She drew her head back for a moment.
"Small enough town still. He's the local Jeep dealer's son. Steve Makeham."
"Okay. Well, that's gotta help." She pursed her lips. "I'll – uh – That is, the forensics team and I, we'll get what we can here and I'll get you a preliminary report as soon as possible." She glanced back at the body. "Any idea who might have mistaken him for some early tomato plants?"
He flicked up his eyebrows. Jordan decided he was really quite attractive. "I can think of about half a dozen people off the top of my head." He chuckled, somewhat grimly. "My wife could probably add at least another half dozen names to that list easily. Though she'd also probably then verify the alibis of at least four of them without batting an eyelash."
Jordan let out a mental sigh. Wife. Damn. Oh well. "Your wife's a detective, too?"
Frank Daniels laughed. "No, Dr. Cavanaugh, my wife is a high school Latin teacher with more curiosity than is often good for her and a sharp mind for figuring out puzzles."
Jordan just nodded.
END Part One