Exclusive Excerpt From Time of Justice – Coming January 2020!
Copyright © 2020 – Robin James
She’d been found at the river’s edge by a fisherman. She was caked with blood, her face battered and bruised. Her legs were at wrong angles. As he went to her, he saw the ropes around her wrists and two more around her legs. At the end of one of her feet, he saw the block of cement tied to the other end of the rope. It was then Denise Silvers opened one, swollen, blood-caked eye and managed to mouth the word “help.”
God had watched over Denise as she lay broken and dying. He’d guided that fisherman to her. Today, twenty years later, I had another miracle to bring her. I hoped.
Now Denise sat in the corner of her home, stick-thin legs poking out beneath a black and red Afghan she’d knitted herself. Her hands worked at a furious pace, her knitting needles a blur as she produced another. This one made of yellow, white and purple yarn.
“Sit down,” Denise said. “You have that look on your face. Something’s wrong.”
I smiled. I met Denise Silvers the first week after I got hired as a Maumee County assistant prosecutor. I’d been warned about her from day one. Our oldest cold case, the monster who’d assaulted and nearly killed her had never been caught. She called monthly, for two decades making sure no one ever forgot about her.
I don’t know how anyone could. Denise had a kind face, deep-set green eyes. Her once blonde hair had gone almost white even though she was just forty-one years old. Her hands were gnarled like a much older woman’s as well, with deep purple veins webbing over her knuckles.
I’d seen pictures of her as a younger woman. She’d been a vivacious girl with a knock-out figure and ready smile. The was still plenty left of that wonderful girl. But, Denise’s eyes had dulled from the horrors she’d experienced.
Other photographs I’d seen of her often came to the forefront of my mind. I saw her in a hospital bed, her face barely swollen and beaten beyond recognition. The bones around her left eye had been crushed, her lips torn.
Deep, cruel ligature marks cut through her wrists. Each injury had been carefully documented and filed away. Her attacker had taken her from behind, covering her mouth with a cloth as she kicked and screamed.
He’d thrown her down an embankment. Her spine cracked at the base along the way. She didn’t feel it though. She told me she never felt it. She only felt cold and alone.
“Denise,” I said. I reached for her. She stilled her knitting needles.
“How long have we known each other?” I asked.
“Eight years,” she said. “And you’re the only one left who will put up with me.”
That got a laugh out of me. “Well, I mean. You can be a lot.”
She waved me off. “I’ve only ever gotten up to a five with you, Mara. I save eight through ten for your boss.”
Oh, I’d seen Denise at a ten. Once, she’d rammed her wheelchair into my boss’s shins right as he was about to field questions from the press.
“Denise,” I said, swallowing hard. I’d played this moment in my mind a million times over the years. I made her promises we both knew I shouldn’t.
“Don’t,” she said, her voice breaking.
“We got him,” I said. Then, I repeated it, my voice even harder. “We got him. Are you hearing me?”
She shook her head no.
“Yes,” I said. “Your attacker. His name is Neil Shumway. I told you I submitted the DNA from your rape kit to a genealogy site over a year ago. Well, we finally got a hit. There’s no doubt. It’s a match, Denise. He’s been arrested and charged. It’s happening.”
Silent tears fell down her face. Denise exhaled. I had the sense it was a breath she’d been holding in for twenty years.
She reached for me, gripping my shoulders. Though she could never move her legs again, Denise’s hands were mighty.
“Promise me,” she whispered. “Swear it.”
“I swear,” I said.
“I knew you’d be the one,” she whispered. “From the second I met you. I just knew. So go do it. Let’s nail that bastard to the wall.”
I hugged Denise. A fisherman had delivered the first miracle when he found her by the side of the river and saved her life. Now, it was up to me to deliver the second and make her monster pay for what he’d done.
To Be Continued in Time of Justice – Coming January 28, 2020!
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