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Cruel Irony (Detective Logan Cooper Book 2)

Cruel Irony (Detective Logan Cooper Book 2)

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Synopsis

If karma doesn’t get you, someone else will.

Three bodies. One secret that changes everything.

 

Judge Emmet’s climb up the professional ladder was fast, but his fall was even faster. The brutal murder of the local judge sends shockwaves throughout the community. Detectives Logan Cooper and Reggie Hawkins are on the case. Evidence leads them on a chase full of pulse pounding twists and turns. As the body count climbs, the detectives are under increased scrutiny from the higher-ups. They’re desperate to find the killer. The truth they uncover is deeper and more shocking than anyone could have imagined.

Book 2 of the Detective Logan Cooper series.

If karma doesn’t get you, someone else will.

Three bodies. One secret that changes everything.

 

Judge Emmet’s climb up the professional ladder was fast, but his fall was even faster. The brutal murder of the local judge sends shockwaves throughout the community. Detectives Logan Cooper and Reggie Hawkins are on the case. Evidence leads them on a chase full of pulse pounding twists and turns. As the body count climbs, the detectives are under increased scrutiny from the higher-ups. They’re desperate to find the killer. The truth they uncover is deeper and more shocking than anyone could have imagined.

 

★★★★★ "This book got me at the beginning and kept me spellbound until the end!"

★★★★★ "Couldn't put the book down! In this second one, I didn't figure the killer out, kept me guessing!"


Look Inside

Prologue:

I glance in the rearview mirror three times. Exactly three times. That's the magic number I come up with to assure myself that it is safe to exit the car. It's bad today. Worse than usual. The shrinks have such a neat, tidy three letter acronym for it. It works well I suppose for those of us suffering from it. Three letters, always predictable, always in the same order. But the true affliction was more like the actual name, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, a long, discordant parade of syllables that jammed easily in the throat. Three words that never rolled off the tongue. 

I step out of my Mercedes and place my feet down, one on each gray paver. I double check that my front tires are lined up exactly with the horizontal grout lines on the driveway. It's all part of my routine, a routine I rarely break. So rarely, it's been two years since I took a vacation. I finally committed to taking five days off, and it is making me more anxious than if I had a docket of fifty cases waiting for me. The wrought iron gates snap shut behind me. It's a noise I expect, but it startles me. I'm wound too tight, but I know how to remedy that.

The sun hovers just above the horizon, threatening to douse the beach in darkness. The tall junipers cast menacing shadows across the beige façade of the house. The architect promised me symmetry, and he delivered. Each angle a perfect ninety-degree bend, the smooth walls interrupted only by precisely placed windows. Down below, the ocean plays its rhythmic music, slapping gently against the shore as the tide retreats to wherever it goes under the moon. The sound of the waves used to provide comfort, a meditational background for my cluttered mind, but no longer. The OCD is too strong. It picks at my brain, letting me know that the rhythm is not precise enough. The interval between waves plays along with Mother Nature but not with the rigid timing my mind requires. 

An autumn breeze scatters three fiery orange maple leaves across my slate gray driveway. People derived such ridiculous pleasure from the sights and sounds of fall. I found the entire season a nuisance, a flurry of unwanted leaves and debris. The leaves are from the neighbor's house. My landscaping is sparse and evergreen. I never have to deal with fallen leaves. I've argued with the neighbor more than once about his leaves. Now he just avoids me. Like all the other people in the secluded nook of custom beach houses. I am pleased about it. I deal with people all day. In the evenings, after I've discarded my judicial robes, much like a snake sheds its skin, I prefer to limit my human contact. Even my housecleaner, Louisa, knows she must be gone long before I drive up. She is off for the next five days. The last thing I want is my housekeeper flitting around the house, whistling and humming and vacuuming. 

When it's bad, when my mind is locked in its iron gibbet, it takes me an eternity to reach the front door. My feet land purposefully, carefully on the same trail of pavers, the shortest distance to the front steps. Today my steps are thrown off by the bright orange spot on the front stoop. It blots out everything else and draws my focus so tightly the orange is burned into my retinas. The housekeeper somehow decided that the house needed a pumpkin on the front steps. Louisa works hard, does a good job and, most importantly, she knows too well that her visa depends on her secrecy. She understands that once she leaves my house, she never utters a word about the Honorable Judge Lowell Emmet or his lifestyle to anyone else. I leave behind my honor with the judicial skin I shed in the courthouse. Somehow, those same robes keep my OCD in check too. When I'm on the bench, I'm another form of myself. I'm Judge Emmet, Emmet the Executioner, as I've been called since my first year as a judge. It is a nickname I accept proudly. My sentences are harsh for a reason. Humans, once fallen, cannot be rehabilitated. We all have inherent flaws that can never be erased. Some of us just hide them better than others. My judicial philosophy was simple. Scum who committed crimes deserved no mercy. 

I pick up the pumpkin. It is heavy and unwieldy. I would leave Louisa a note about it on Monday. I punch in the key code and the door opens. The pumpkin, heavy and unbalanced, has thrown off everything. I place it on the floor as the front door shuts behind me. I want to kick it clear across the room. For a fleeting second, a bright crooked grin mocks me as if the stupid thing has been carved into a jack-o'-lantern. It's taunting me, teasing me like the assholes that teased me at Rainsford Prep. I'd begged my parents not to send me to a school of rich, entitled snobs, but my father's job as head custodian at the prestigious prep school came with a perk. His own children were allowed to attend for free. My classmates were all too aware of why I was allowed to sit amongst them. They reminded me of it every fucking day. It was torture, but my father grinned like the fool he was every time we passed each other in the hallway. I tried to pretend we weren't related, even knowing it hurt him, but my life there was hard enough. The last thing I needed was an attaboy and smile from the school custodian. In the end, Rainsford Prep helped a boy with middling grades get into a good college and law school. Now I was a judge. Now they knew. Now they all knew that they were no better than me. 

I tap the key code for the front closet and slide my briefcase inside. I remove my coat and hang it up carefully, checking that there are no wrinkles in the black cashmere before I place it on the rack. My fingers fiddle with the other coats to make sure each one is an inch apart then shut the door. 

A glass of brandy will help take the edge off, but more than anything this evening, I need punishment, glorious, dark punishment. Thank God it's Tuesday. All part of the routine. I walk to the kitchen. It sparkles brand new, hardly touched. Light gleams off the marble backsplash, the leaded glass cabinet doors and the pristine steel appliances. I can count on my hand how often the stove has been used. Still, I insist Louisa scrub it top to bottom once a week. 

I punch in the code for the top kitchen drawer. Not everything has a code entry, only the places I don't want the housekeeper to go. The burner phone, my third this month, is sitting on top of the notepad. I send a text. 

"I've been a bad boy. I need my sweet, ruthless angel. Seven?"

I hold the phone a long moment waiting for a response. The orange spot comes at me from the corner of my eye, a blot in the otherwise clean white lines of the living room. The furniture is a monochrome pale gray, with peach colored lamps as a nod to color. But the pumpkin has upset the landscape. Louisa would be hearing from me. I smack down the phone. No response yet. It was time for a new companion. This one was getting old and complacent. 

I march to the living room and yank the pumpkin by its long, curled stem. Briefly, I allow myself the pleasure of imagining that I'm pulling a long hank of golden hair, and the woman at the end of it is enjoying the pain. I carry the squash to the glass doors, angrily punch in the code. Rather than wait for the door to open automatically, I override the technology and slide it open. I mean to push it open fast and hard, but the same technology slows down the momentum. I want to heave the stupid squash over the balcony, but the neighbor, the maple tree owner, a stuck up sonavabitch who spends his day hunched over a computer writing novels, is on his deck. He waves. I ignore him and refrain from heaving the pumpkin at him. The next time Louisa brings a pumpkin to the house, I'm going to make her carry it all the way back to Colombia or Venezuela or wherever the hell she's from. 

I place the pumpkin on the floor of the deck and head back inside. The room looks better without the orange splotch. The phone buzzes against the marble countertop. 

"About fucking time. You can be easily replaced too." I lift up the phone. "I'll be there at seven… bad boy." I pretend she's being flirty, sexy, but she's just playing the game. I'm just another client to be patronized, toyed with. If I didn't need it so badly tonight, I'd tell her to fuck off. Instead, I smack the phone down on the hard counter and head across the living room to the bar.

The sultry, smoky scent of brandy fills the air as I remove the crystal stopper. I pour twice my usual amount and savor the first few swallows, letting the intoxicating essence soothe my hot head while the liquid burns a trail down my throat. I lower the glass, swirl the amber liquid around once more, then toss back the rest of it. 

The sun is setting fast now, leaving behind only an orange swirl of clouds. The color reminds me of the stupid fucking pumpkin. My feet leave marks in the lush, thick carpeting as I stomp back to the glass door. The door slides open with a tap on the keypad. It's still there. I don't know why I thought it would be gone. Just wishful thinking but it's there, fat and round like my court clerk's bottom. I wondered briefly if her bottom was orange too under the layers of nylons and girdles and tight skirts. 

I glance over at the next balcony. The idiot has gone inside. Something down below on the sand catches my attention. I walk to the railing. A figure whose top half is covered mostly with an oversized hooded sweatshirt strolls along the sand, hands in pockets and face concealed by the hood.  

"Hey you, down there!" My angry tone echoes back at me. The trespasser ignores me. 

"Private property. Get off now or I'll call the police!"

The person stops. Their shadow leans toward the house, fading quickly as the sun disappears. 

"Go on now. Get off this beach!" I yell for good measure.

The head lifts and the hood falls down. I stumble back at the sight of the medieval executioner's hood. My heel smacks the pumpkin. My arms flail wildly as I reach frantically for the back of the lounge, desperate to find something that will break my fall. My hand grabs the edge of the lounge. It slows my fall, but I land hard and pull the lounge down on top of me. Pain shoots through my ass and up my spine. The pumpkin sits perfectly still, once again mocking me with its perceived grin. I shove the lounge off of me. It scrapes the deck and stops against the dining table. 

A low groan rolls up from my chest as I push to my feet. My back hurts, and my heart is pounding. Death threats are part of the job, but this was too specific, too near. I race toward the railing using my hands as brakes. They slam the edge of the railing. I lean over far looking both left and right. The lights from the houses provide enough illumination that I can see a few hundred yards in either direction. There's no sign of the hooded figure. Is he on his way to my house? He's seen me now. He knows exactly where I live.

Again, I don't have patience for the long, luxurious slide of the glass door. I force it open and stumble inside. The door slides shut. I immediately punch in the numbers to lock it. The balcony is on the second story, and it juts out over a steep cliff, but I can't take a chance. 

My tailbone aches from the fall as I march to the hallway. I step into the master bedroom. I lift the oil painting off its hook and place it on the ground. It falls over. The sudden fright has knocked the heavy episode of OCD right out of me. Everything has an electronic keypad, but the safe is still the good old fashioned spin to the right and left dial. It is a small piece of the past I prefer to hold on to. The safe was moved from my first house into this one once it was built. It is an old friend. It protects the one true treasure I own. 

The tiny mechanism in the lock falls into place, a click follows. I unlatch the heavy door and open it. My fingers graze the old Polaroid camera, a present from my father on my fifteenth birthday. He was beaming from ear to ear as he handed me the box. The cameras that instantly spit out a picture were a huge hit. You were nobody if you didn't own one. I pat the camera to remind it of its importance in my history. Beneath it sits the envelope with the photo, the photo that changed my life. It was faded now, but even with the colors muted, it carried with it more value than all of my properties and bank accounts put together. 

My back seizes up from the fall as I reach to the back of the safe. My fingers land on the cold barrel of the handgun. I never cared for guns, but my job makes it a necessity. I lift it from the safe and check that it's loaded. 

The weapon feels heavy, deadly in my hand as I carry it across to the front door. The gates are still closed. The tall white wall surrounding my property has sensors that let me know when someone has breached the security barrier. I swing open the door, holding the gun in front of me like I see them do in the movies. I stand out on the stoop, not daring to go much farther from the house. I scan the area for several minutes, but there is no sign of an intruder. Just a prankster, no doubt, someone who wanted to see the judge squirm. 

It's getting late. I need another shot of brandy. Maybe this time a scotch on the rocks. I'll make it a double. I stop in the bathroom and open another locked drawer. The little blue pills are waiting for me, each tiny capsule holding the promise of a firm erection. I'll need it tonight after the incident. At least I am no longer counting my steps or worrying that my pillows and framed artwork aren't straight. A bad bout of anxiety can get in the way of a good fuck. Not tonight. I need this badly. 

The bed is welcoming as I let the booze and the pill take effect. A text wakes me from a quick nap. It takes me a second to shake off the grogginess. If she is cancelling, then she'll never step foot in this house again. I pay her too well for her to back out of our night. But it's not a cancellation. It's better. I read the text out loud knowing it will make me hard. I plan to stay hard for the next hour. I don't care that she's just playing along for a bonus.

"I'm almost there, bad boy. Open the gates and door. Get entirely naked, and you'd better be on your hands and knees. I'm going to leave marks tonight."

My hard-on is like steel. It almost hurts when I walk out to disarm the gates and the front door. I head back to the bedroom and pull the whip and handcuffs from the locked box under the bed. The handcuffs are tight on my heavy wrists. They cut into my flesh just the way I like it. My knees wobble on the bed as I secure myself to the headboard. I'm in my favorite submissive position, ass high, hands shackled. My head is spinning with the glorious pain to come. The earlier fall left tenderness that would only add to the thrill. The front door opens. I nearly ejaculate at the sound of footsteps in the hallway. No heels. I'd dock her pay for that. She knew I expected, I wanted, heels.

Cool air washes over my naked skin as the bedroom door opens. 

"I'm ready and make it good. We'll talk about the heels later," I add.

There's a long enough pause that I turn to look over my shoulder. My hands instinctively pull at the handcuffs. The headboard bends and snaps back, leaving a dent on the wall. 

"Who the hell are you?" I twist around, painfully, awkwardly. There's no place to hide, no way to evade the long silver blade as it slices toward me. There's pain. The worst I've ever felt. Not the pain I crave. The pain of death. Of my death.

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