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Authors: Lorrie Unites-Struff

Gypsey Blood

BOOK: Gypsey Blood
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Gypsy Blood

 

by

 

Lorrie Unites-Struiff

 

Born to Romany Blood, Book 1

 

ISBN: 978-1-927476-24-6

 

Published by:

 

http://bookswelove.net

 

Books We Love Ltd.

192 Lakeside Greens Drive

Chestermere, Alberta, T1X 1C2

Canada

 

Copyright 2012 by Lorrie Unites-Struiff

 

Cover art by Michelle Lee 2012

 

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

 

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

Detective Rita Moldova peeked around the corner to make sure the hallway was empty. Making a quick right turn, she slipped into the autopsy lab to have a few minutes alone with the body. She tucked her white shirt tighter into her jeans and zipped her windbreaker to stay warm in the chilly room. The harsh odor of formaldehyde hit her nostrils and stung her throat.

Her heart twisted at the sight of the young, auburn-haired woman lying on the stainless steel table. A white sheet covered her to the navel. Bruises blemished the once pretty face. Contusions marred the pallid skin from elbow to shoulder. The gash on the front of her neck gaped, exposing open veins and torn tissue.

Rita flipped her thick, dark braid back over her shoulder, snapped on one latex glove, leaned over the corpse, and peeled back an eyelid. In her bare hand, she clasped a star-shaped crystal hanging from the gold chain around her neck, the endowment from her maternal Roma bloodline. The crystal heated in her palm. Warm energy pulsed up her arm to her shoulder. The face captured in the victim’s eye coalesced and stared back. Rita drew in a sharp breath. Bobby Driscoll! She had known him since high school, and now he worked as a uniform in her precinct. What the hell was going on?

“You know better than to touch the deceased before I’ve completed my examination, Rita.”

She jerked upright and looked straight into the age-lined face of Doc O’Toole. The chill of the laboratory did nothing to stop the hot flush creeping up her cheeks.
“Um, sorry.
Just checking the eye color.
You know how antsy I get waiting for your report.”

O’Toole ran a hand through his thinning hair. “I’m waiting on the results of the samples I sent to the
County
Lab
in
Pittsburgh
.” Doc motioned for her to follow him into the large glass-walled cubicle next to his examining room.

When Doc turned, Rita quickly tucked the crystal hidden in her palm back under the lace of her bra. She snapped off the glove and trailed him into the enclosure.
“Same M.O. as the other two prosty murders?”

He nodded and went to the computer sitting on a small desk. O’Toole sank onto the metal chair. The screen brightened. “Yes. Here it is. I’m sure this will sound familiar. The specimen results haven’t been verified yet. And, as you know, there was very little blood found at any of the scenes, just a drop or two on the victims.”

Rita nodded.

Doc read from the screen.
“Body completely exsanguinous.
Time of death between eleven p.m. and one a.m.”
He looked up at Rita and pushed his glasses higher on the bridge of his nose. “Like the others, this woman was alive when the killer began extracting the blood from her jugular. Once drained, he excised the vein with a sharp instrument, post-mortem. Why does he bother?”

Rita shrugged. “He’s performing some sort of a ritual,
then
taking a trophy. Doc, I still think the women had to be unconscious or bound while he took their blood. Any rational woman would fight, or run like hell.”

“The evidence disagrees. There are no ligature marks on the wrists or ankles of any of the bodies. The bruises on the arms indicate a frontal assault, as if they were pinned or held still. Other than the bruises, no needle marks were apparent, no drugs in any of the stomach contents, no contusions on the heads to indicate they were unconscious until the loss of blood weakened, then killed them. Lack of tissue under the nails also
indicate
they didn’t struggle at all.”

“This doesn’t make any damn sense.” Rita shivered, imagining the women awake, not fighting, as the life drained out their bodies.

Doc rubbed his jaw, shook his head. “And, no matter what weapon I come up with, nothing matches the excised wounds. All evidence so far suggests the killings took place elsewhere,
then
the bodies were moved.”

“That’s what my gut is telling me, too.” She glanced through the glass at the woman on the
table,
the Y incision was puckered and ugly under the harsh lighting in the examining room. “The jogger who found this one on the river path yesterday freaked.
Can’t say as I blame her.”

Rita had become familiar with a few of the prostitutes during a previous case and found the women to be friendly and open, once they knew she wasn’t there to hassle them. When she had inspected the first victim, the dead woman’s eyes reflected another working girl Rita had met before. Carmella.

Carmella told Rita that she had bummed a cigarette from the woman before a black van pulled to the corner. Her brief glimpse as the interior light of the van flashed on revealed a dark-haired man with a noticeable bump on his nose. Carmella didn’t bother to look at the plates. The woman who had entered the van turned up dead in an alley a day later. Rita had confirmed Carmella’s alibi.

Her confusion deepened with a different reflection in the eyes of the second dead prostitute. The pizza delivery boy remembered seeing the woman at the Ridge Motel, but his alibi also proved solid.

She should see the last person the victim’s eyes captured--the killer’s. Damn. The crystal had never failed her before. She rubbed her arms to ward off a feeling of dread creeping over her skin.

Rita glanced at her watch.
A little after twelve.
She had time to find out how good ol’ Bobby Driscoll fit into this scenario.

She jumped when Doc nudged her elbow.

His thin lips tightened into a scowl. “I’m still trying to determine the gouging tool. We’ve made the impressions, but nothing matches. Tell the Chief I’ll fax what I have to him in a few hours. You know, he’ll want you on the task force.”

“Yeah.
He already set up the meet.”

The only ones who knew of the crystal’s abilities were Chief Lipinski, Rita’s mother, and her uncle. Her gift had spooked the Chief, but he had sworn to keep her secret. If the others found out, she may as well have “Freakazoid” stamped on her forehead.

Rita patted Doc’s hand. “Thanks, I really appreciate the heads-up.” They left the cubicle. She looked at the dead woman again and sighed. “Damn it, Doc, we need to nail this dude’s ass fast. The newspapers are already calling him ‘Keyport’s own Jack the Ripper.’”

 

Rita drove her battered Range Rover across town to the three-story brick shoebox that housed the precinct. Parking spaces in front were jammed, so she wheeled around the corner to the back lot. Small stones pinged against the undercarriage as the wheels rolled over the gravel. The engine coughed to a stop. Rita stepped out and unzipped her windbreaker. The early fall weather had turned to Indian summer and the sun beat hot on her head. She noticed Nancy, Bobby Driscoll’s wife, sitting in a red Ford parked in the shade of an oak tree near the back entrance. A phone was wedged against the petite brunette’s ear. A toddler slept strapped into a safety carriage on the back seat, sucking his thumb.
Nancy
’s lips twisted into a scowl as Rita closed the gap, heading for the back entrance.

“Gypsy Girl, long
time
no see.”
Nancy
clicked off the cell and set it on the dash. She laughed in the same high-pitched tone that had always made Rita’s scalp itch when they were in high school. “How’s the big-shot detective doing?”

Rita offered her a cool smile. She hated the nickname the kids in school had tagged her with, and
Nancy
knew it. “Just peachy,
Nancy
. Is Bobby on his way out? I need to ask him something.”

“You’d think he could have a few hours off-duty to spend with his family without being bothered by someone in the department.”
Nancy
glanced into the rear view mirror and tucked a stray lock behind her ear, then ran her pinky under her lip to erase a slight smear of lipstick. “But, without a husband and kids, you wouldn’t understand. I hear you’re still a loner.”

Rita hunched closer and looked
Nancy
square in the eyes. “Hey, smart woman go to college. Not all of us are content to be dependent on a man these days.”

“Well,”
Nancy
huffed, her eyes narrowed. “You’re still a somewhat attractive woman in that dark gypsy way, though a little meat on your bones would help. ‘Course, maybe a man isn’t your preference.”

 
“Oooh, tired of Bobby already?” Rita winked. “Are you coming on to me?”

Nancy
’s cheeks mottled with pink. “It’s no wonder you live alone. You’re still the same crazy, trailer-park-bitch you were in school.”

“Damn, some people just never change. Is Bobby on his way out, or not?”

“There’s my husband now.”
Nancy
leaned forward. “Tick-tock, Gypsy, you’re not getting any younger.” She picked up the phone, punched in numbers, and turned her face to the opposite window.

Rita smothered a nasty comment and stepped back. She berated herself for letting a slimy slug like
Nancy
dredge up those old outcast feelings.

When Rita’s parents had grown tired of migrant work, traveling from state to state and living out of a small camper, they decided to give up their nomadic lifestyle. Her father acquired a permanent job as a carpenter. They left the clan before Rita’s eleventh birthday and settled into a used, three-bedroom trailer.

Three years later, after her parents’ car accident leading to her father’s death, Uncle Dragus arrived from
Romania
to live with them. His small bakery helped with the living expenses. Her mother pitched in to keep them a step up from dirt-poor by telling fortunes in their trailer.

Rita’s family had been looked-down upon, considered an oddity by the town folk. But, she never let that intimidate her. She was damn proud of her Roma heritage.

Spotting Bobby, she made her way across the loose stones of the lot, her western half-boots sliding on the coarse pebbles. Rita took a long, slow breath trying to shake off those teenage memories. The smell of freshly mown grass, mingling with a damp earth scent, wafted from the small park across the alley. The leaves had turned to shades of mustard and pumpkin and magenta. Soon, all the vivid colors would wither, fall away, and strip the trees to a bare ugliness--much like the world in which she worked.

BOOK: Gypsey Blood
12.07Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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