“Your niece?” Ben sat back in his chair; his body language as open as possible to encourage her to keep talking. He liked Connie and knew she and her husband had worked hard to keep Izzie in school last year. “I didn’t know you had siblings in town.”
“I don’t,” she whispered. “That’s what’s so horrible. Sherida’s my sister’s girl from Winnipeg. Candice sent her up here for the summer to keep her away from some young guy they didn’t want her involved with, and now she’s missing, too.” She reached a shaking hand to grasp the water glass again. “Sherida’s a straight-A student. Never been in trouble before. And Candice trusted me to take care of her.”
When she turned towards him, he recognized Connie Baker, who ran one of the gift shops on Kelsey Boulevard. He put his hands flat on the counter.
“Hey, Connie. Everything all right?”
The woman stopped pacing and leaned her upper body on the countertop. “Oh, Ben.
I heard you’re back.”
“Wow, that got around fast,” he said.
Her swollen eyes were red-rimmed, and she grasped shredded tissues in one hand. She wiped her nose before speaking again.
Ben held Connolly’s gaze. He’d had two plastic surgeries already and figured he’d eventually deal with the rest of the scarring, but cosmetic surgery didn’t come cheap in Canada. Anyway, up here, it would be a badge of honour. If he’d taken a southern posting, people would have stared relentlessly, and working in the field would be insufferable.
Connolly broke away first, much to Ben’s satisfaction. “I’ve got something I want you to look into, a cold case from Winnipeg they want us to go through again.” He passed a thick manila file folder over his desk to Ben. “She was from here and turned up dead in Winnipeg three years ago. I figured you could reinterview the relatives, see if they remember anything new. Get your feet wet again.”
BEN ENTERED THE POLICE DETACHMENT through the front door and walked right into the morning briefing in the bullpen. No time to hit his locker in the building’s rear, and the new Corporal was holding court waving a fist full of CPIC—Canadian Police Information Centre—notices in his hand. Short and wiry, his white hair was brush cut short, his face wrinkled and acne scarred. His name tag read “Connolly.”
Why here, why now? He’d hoped he’d never see this guy again. Ben took his seat at the only empty desk in the bullpen. A new officer he’d never seen before sat at his old desk beside the front window. The new guy gave him a quick wave while still pretending he was hanging on the Corporal’s every word.
Excerpt #4 – Chapter 1: “What’s wrong with the policeman, Mommy?” “Nothing, honey. I just had to talk to him,” said Joy. She hung a right to go north and then a left at the Town Centre. Her ancient two-door sedan had nearly 110,000 kilometers on it. Up here, everyone...
In July, 2019, my husband and I headed up to Churchill, Manitoba, Canada so I could do summer research for my next book, NORTHERN PROTECTOR (Heroes of the Tundra Book 2).
That sign hangs in the Churchill airport. The citizens and Natural Resources Officers are quite serious about polar bear safety and the rules are meant for everyone. When we arrived on July 8, 2019 there had only been one polar bear spotted coming in from Hudson Bay’s coast. By the time we left at the end of the week, there would be five more sighted.
“Mommy. I’m gonna be late for day care.”
A small, dark head with long hair poked out of the turquoise car parked in front of
Ruby’s. The child waved at them. “C’mon, Mommy.” “Perfect timing,” Joy said under her breath.
“Nothing, never mind,” she said. “You sure you’re okay? You’re not feeling faint or anything?”
Ben took a deep breath, finally. “I’m good. Thanks for checking. Don’t know what happened there.” He put his sunglasses back on. Small comfort, but a mask all the same.
“Ben, look at me,” she ordered. That voice had a familiar ring to it. Bossy but comforting at the same time. He’d heard it before. “Let me see you without the sunglasses.”
He removed them without question, his heart slowing while sweat made his uniform shirt cling to his back. At nearly 6:30 a.m, no less. Or, what time was it now? He was inexcusably late. Not a great impression to make on the new Corporal.
The woman stood in front of him, her dark brown eyes concerned as she held him by his upper arms. He blinked twice and tried to get his tongue to work. Mortification brought a dull red flush to his cheeks. I should know her… Gah, why won’t my stupid brain work?
CONSTABLE BEN KOPER PULLED HIS POLICE truck over to the side of the road across from Ruby’s Café & Emporium. His first day back at work in nine months, and already he was running late. He slammed the truck into park and stared up and down Kelsey Boulevard, on high alert for any movement between the buildings.
Last November, a polar bear had attacked him in this exact spot. He hadn’t been back to Churchill since then. Goose bumps skittered along his arms. Rationally, he knew that bears had been spotted along the coast and probably hadn’t made it into town yet. But his anxiety and the acid in his stomach told his brain a polar bear could be anywhere, now that the sea ice had melted.
I'm thrilled to have on the blog today the prolific and talented Cathe Swanson! Cathe, please tell us a bit about yourself. Hi! After 40 years away, my husband and I recently returned to my childhood home in Minnesota. We are currently living in my parents’...
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