Southern storm, p.1

Southern Storm, page 1

 

Southern Storm
 



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Southern Storm


  Books by Terri Blackstock

  Emerald Windows

  Cape Refuge Series

  1 | Cape Refuge

  2 | Southern Storm

  3 | River’s Edge

  4 | Breaker’s Reef

  Newpointe 911

  1 | Private Justice

  2 | Shadow of Doubt

  3 | Word of Honor

  4 | Trial by Fire

  5 | Line of Duty

  Sun Coast Chronicles

  1 | Evidence of Mercy

  2 | Justifiable Means

  3 | Ulterior Motives

  4 | Presumption of Guilt

  Second Chances

  1 | Never Again Good-bye

  2 | When Dreams Cross

  3 | Blind Trust

  4 | Broken Wings

  With Beverly LaHaye

  1 | Seasons Under Heaven

  2 | Showers in Season

  3 | Times and Seasons

  4 | Season of Blessing

  Novellas

  Seaside

  ZONDERVAN

  SOUTHERN STORM

  Copyright © 2003 by Terri Blackstock

  All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of Zondervan.

  ePub Edition June 2009 ISBN: 0-310-86413-5

  Requests for information should be addressed to:

  Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Blackstock, Terri, 1957–

  Southern storm / Terri Blackstock.

  p. cm. — (Cape refuge series ; bk. 2)

  ISBN-13: 978-0-310-23593-4

  1. Missing persons—Fiction. 2. Police chiefs—Fiction. 3. Kidnapping—

  Fiction. 4. Georgia—Fiction. I. Title.

  PS3552.L34285S68 2003

  813'.54—dc21

  2002156134

  * * *

  All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

  All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other—except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.

  Published in association with the literary agency of Alive Communications, Inc., 7680 Goddard Street, Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80920.

  * * *

  05 06 07 08 09 10 11 • 21 20 19 18 17 16 15

  CONTENTS

  COVER PAGE

  TITLE PAGE

  COPYRIGHT

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  CHAPTER 1

  CHAPTER 2

  CHAPTER 3

  CHAPTER 4

  CHAPTER 5

  CHAPTER 6

  CHAPTER 7

  CHAPTER 8

  CHAPTER 9

  CHAPTER 10

  CHAPTER 11

  CHAPTER 12

  CHAPTER 13

  CHAPTER 14

  CHAPTER 15

  CHAPTER 16

  CHAPTER 17

  CHAPTER 18

  CHAPTER 19

  CHAPTER 20

  CHAPTER 21

  CHAPTER 22

  CHAPTER 23

  CHAPTER 24

  CHAPTER 25

  CHAPTER 26

  CHAPTER 27

  CHAPTER 28

  CHAPTER 29

  CHAPTER 30

  CHAPTER 31

  CHAPTER 32

  CHAPTER 33

  CHAPTER 34

  CHAPTER 35

  CHAPTER 36

  CHAPTER 37

  CHAPTER 38

  CHAPTER 39

  CHAPTER 40

  CHAPTER 41

  CHAPTER 42

  CHAPTER 43

  CHAPTER 44

  CHAPTER 45

  CHAPTER 46

  CHAPTER 47

  CHAPTER 48

  CHAPTER 49

  CHAPTER 50

  CHAPTER 51

  CHAPTER 52

  CHAPTER 53

  CHAPTER 54

  CHAPTER 55

  CHAPTER 56

  CHAPTER 57

  CHAPTER 58

  CHAPTER 59

  CHAPTER 60

  CHAPTER 61

  CHAPTER 62

  CHAPTER 63

  CHAPTER 64

  CHAPTER 65

  CHAPTER 66

  CHAPTER 67

  CHAPTER 68

  CHAPTER 69

  CHAPTER 70

  CHAPTER 71

  CHAPTER 72

  CHAPTER 73

  CHAPTER 74

  CHAPTER 75

  CHAPTER 76

  CHAPTER 77

  CHAPTER 78

  CHAPTER 79

  CHAPTER 80

  CHAPTER 81

  CHAPTER 82

  CHAPTER 83

  AFTERWORD

  ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  ABOUT THE PUBLISHER

  SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

  This book is lovingly

  dedicated to the Nazarene.

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  I’ve been writing professionally for over twenty years now and long ago realized that it never gets easier. The truth is, each book is more difficult than the one before it. Fortunately, I have people in my life who help me. I’d like to thank some of them now.

  Thanks to my dear friends (and family) of ChiLibris, a group of Christian writers who hold me accountable and constantly challenge me to grow as a writer and as a person. Writing can be a solitary life, but ChiLibris keeps me connected to others with the same passions. I also owe a debt of gratitude to James Scott Bell, lawyer-turned-writer, for answering all of my legal questions with such patience. And again I thank Dr. Harry Kraus Jr., surgeon-turned-writer, for choreographing medical emergencies with me and helping me figure out how to write my way out of them.

  A special thank-you to those at Zondervan for their excellent work in getting my books into the stores. I owe more to Dave Lambert, Sue Brower, Lori VandenBosch, Bob Hudson, and the others on the fiction team than I can say.

  Thanks also to Greg Johnson, my agent, whom God seemed to drop out of the sky for me eight years ago. He is evidence to me that when I follow God’s direction, I can’t go wrong.

  And finally, thank you to my husband, Ken, for brainstorming with me, encouraging me, and rooting me on when the deadline looms near and my creativity seems dried up. I appreciate your constant reminders that I panic on every book, and it still usually turns out all right.

  CHAPTER 1

  The Georgia Weather Bureau’s prophecy of fifty-mile-per-hour winds had been fulfilled and surpassed, much to Matthew Cade’s chagrin. As chief of the small Cape Refuge police force, Cade could do little about the ravages of the storm as it beat across the island toward Savannah. But the safety of the residents was always his concern.

  Though it was two in the afternoon, the sky looked as dark as nightfall.

  Lightning bolted overhead in a panoramic display of white-hot fingers, grounding on the island and splaying across the angry Atlantic. The thunder cracked in rapid crashes, and rain slatted down at an angle that made umbrellas useless and flooded some of the streets.

  Cade strained to see through
the windshield of his squad car. The rain pounding on his roof and his wipers slashing across his windshield made it difficult for him to hear the radio crackling on his dashboard. He turned it up.

  Fender benders had been reported at three locations on Cape Refuge, and a power line was down near the condos lining the north beach.

  If everyone would just stay inside, maybe they could avoid any more problems. But that never happened. On days like this, residents insisted on driving through the storm at the same speeds they used on dry, sunny days. Tornado watchers stood out on their front porches, watching the sky for funnel clouds. And the most reckless among the residents would brave the lightning and drag their surfboards out to the waves, hoping to catch a thrill in the tempest.

  Cade and his police force were left to clean up the messes and head off new disasters.

  The dispatcher’s voice crackled across the radio, and he picked up the mike. “Go ahead, Sal.”

  “Chief, there’s another power line down on a road over at the dock. Somebody’s going to get hurt unless you detour that traffic.”

  Cade sighed. “All right, I’m on my way.”

  He set the mike back in its holder and turned on his blue lights. Making a U-turn, he headed back around the southern tip of the island, then northbound toward the dock. He couldn’t have residents driving over live power lines. He hoped the power company would hurry up and get its trucks out here.

  The wipers swiped across his windshield, but the rain pounded too hard to give him much visibility. He strained to see.

  Most cars pulled to the side of the road to let him pass. He turned on his siren to alert the others, but three or four kept their course in the lane in front of him.

  “Get out of the way!” he yelled, pulling so close to the car in front of him that he knew one touch of its brakes would put him in the front seat with the driver.

  Fortunately, the man pulled over. The other cars ahead of him still hadn’t heard or seen him, so he moved up behind the next one, his siren still blaring. A block ahead, Cade saw a man standing on the opposite side of the road, seemingly oblivious to the rain pounding down on him. Passing traffic sprayed walls of water up over him, but he just stood there, watching the traffic pass.

  The car in front of Cade still didn’t move, so he punched his horn. The southbound lane with traffic coming toward him had cleared as drivers pulled off to the shoulder of Ocean Boulevard. He pulled around the car in front of him into the southbound lane and gently accelerated.

  The man on the side of the road still stood there, drenched and undaunted. Cade knew that, as he passed, his tires in the water would spray him. Why didn’t the man move?

  He kept his siren blaring and pushed his horn again as he drove northbound in the southbound lane. He pulled even with the car that had refused to move out of the way and looked across at the driver. The driver looked back, panic evident on his face—a teenager, probably a new driver with no idea how to react. The kid slammed on his brakes.

  Cade stepped on his accelerator and turned his eyes ahead again—just in time to see the pedestrian step out in front of him.

  Cade yelled and slammed on his brakes. His car slid straight toward the man. . . .

  Thunder cracked at the same instant as the impact. The man flew up over the hood and smashed into Cade’s windshield, shattering it . . . then, as if he’d bounced, he flew out in front of the car and landed in a heap in the middle of the road. Cade couldn’t move for a few seconds, then fumbled for the door handle and managed to get out. The rain flooded over him, and the wind almost knocked him back into the car. He rushed toward the man.

  Oh, dear God, what have I done?

  He heard yelling and doors slamming as other drivers got out and splashed toward him.

  Reaching the man first, Cade knelt in three inches of water. The victim’s eyes fluttered open, and his lips moved without sound. Cade grabbed the radio on his shoulder. “Sal, I need an ambulance just half a mile north of the Pier!” He yelled the words to make sure he was heard. “I need it right now! I just ran over a pedestrian!”

  “Right away, Chief.”

  Cade touched the man’s head, careful not to move it. Warm blood soaked his hand, but the pelting rain quickly washed it away.

  “Can you hear me, buddy?”

  The man tried to speak, but Cade couldn’t hear him. Thunder crashed again.

  He touched the man’s throat; his pulse was weak, erratic.

  “Hang on! You’re gonna be all right. Just hang on.” He had to stop the bleeding, so he pressed against the wound at the back of the man’s head. But there was so much blood . . . too much . . .

  The man tried to rise up, and this time Cade heard his raspy voice. “You have to . . . please . . . out of control . . .”

  “Don’t move!” What did one do for an open head wound?

  He heard sirens blaring, voices calling. Someone opened an umbrella over them in a feeble attempt to shelter the victim from the storm, but the wind turned it inside out. Someone else threw a raincoat over the man. . . .

  Lightning flashed, thunder bolted. . . .

  “Cade,” someone said, “he just ran right out in front of you!”

  The blood was coming so fast. The man’s pulse weakened. Where was that ambulance?

  “I saw him. It was like he was in a trance or something.”

  “Is he dead, Cade?”

  The siren grew closer, and he prayed that people would stay off the road and leave the ambulance a path. It stopped short, and he heard feet running toward him. Paramedics knelt beside the body, and Cade moved back. “Head injury,” he yelled over the storm. “He bounced off my windshield.”

  As the medics worked, Cade backed farther away, his mind racing with the facts.

  I’ve hit a man . . . an innocent man. . . .

  He started to whisper rapid-fire prayers for a miracle. The man couldn’t die. That was all there was to it. Police cars were meant to keep people from danger, not kill them.

  “Call for a Medi-Vac, Cade!” one of the medics cried. “And clear us a path. He’s running out of time.”

  “The helicopter can’t fly in this! You’ll have to drive him.” He helped the paramedics get the man into the ambulance and then directed traffic as the ambulance headed out.

  He shook his head, trying to pull himself together. Somebody had to be in charge here. But what did the chief of police do when he was the one who had almost killed a man?

  He turned and saw some of his uniformed officers coming toward him.

  “J.J., detour traffic,” he yelled. “Keep it off of this block until we finish here. Jim, get over to the downed power lines out in front of the dock and divert traffic there. Alex, you take pictures and work the accident. . . .”

  “But Cade, are you sure you don’t want to work it?”

  “I’ve got to get to the hospital and see if he’s all right.” His voice broke. “Just write the report and treat me like any other driver who hit a pedestrian. Call my cell phone if you have questions. It should get a signal by the time I reach Savannah.” He walked back to his car and got in.

  Through the shattered windshield, he saw Alex looking back at him as if he wasn’t sure what to do. Then he turned away and began questioning witnesses.

  Cade closed his eyes and lowered his head to the steering wheel. That man could die.

  Why had he stepped out into traffic? He must have seen Cade coming. The squad car lights had been flashing and his siren was on. Even people in cars with radios blaring and air conditioners humming had heard him and gotten out of the way. How could this man have stepped into the path of a speeding police car?

  He felt as if a fist had punched a hole in his lungs. He found it hard to breathe, and his head had begun to throb.

  He reached for the keys hanging in the ignition, then realized that he couldn’t move this car until they’d finished working the scene. Besides, he couldn’t drive with a busted windshield.

  He got o
ut of the car and started walking through the rain.

  “Where are you going, Chief?” Alex asked him.

  “To find a ride back to the station so I can get my truck.”

  “I’ll take you, Cade!” Melba Jefferson, a little round woman who attended his church and made it her business to comfort those in need, stood nearby, fighting her umbrella with a distraught look on her face.

  “Okay, Melba,” he said. “Let’s go.”

  She led him to her car parked on the side of the road. He got into it, and she slid her round body into the driver’s side. “Honey, are you all right?”

  He shook his head. “It’s not about me, Melba. There’s a man dying.”

  She reached into the backseat and got a box of tissue. “Sweetie, your hand’s all bloody.”

  Cade looked at it. The man’s blood had stained it, though the rain had begun to wash it away. He pulled out several tissues and wiped the rest of it off.

  Melba pulled out onto the street, and Alex directed her so that she could turn around and head back to the station. When they were on their way, she stayed quiet, which Cade appreciated. Clearly, Melba knew when words were appropriate and when they weren’t.

  She drove him up to the station, pulled into the parking lot. “I’ll get some people praying, Cade,” she said.

  He nodded. “You do that. Thanks for the ride, Melba.”

  Cade jogged across the gravel parking lot to his truck, jumped inside, and was pulling out onto the street before Melba could get her car turned around.

  CHAPTER 2

  Is this some kind of April Fool’s joke?” Blair Owens leaned on the small conference table in the cramped library and tapped her pencil on her palm. “Because if it is, I need to get back to work.”

  “It ain’t no April Fool’s joke,” Morris Ambrose told her. “That woulda been last Thursday.”

  She laughed. “You people can’t seriously want me to run for mayor. That’s insane. It’s ludicrous. And I wouldn’t go around saying it out loud, Morris, or you might lose your seat on the city council. Folks will start thinking you’re showing signs of dementia.”

  Morris was undaunted. So were the other three who had come with him—Jerry Ann Shepp who ran the Cape Refuge Racquet Club; Matt Pearl, proprietor of the most expensive restaurant in town; and Gerald Madison, who owned Madison Boat Shop.

 
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