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Table of Contents



  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


The Rayburn Mysteries



New York




Cover Design by Fiona Jayde

This book is a work of fiction.  The names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.  Any resemblance to actual events, business establishments, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

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, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the publisher.  The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law.  Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials.

Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

Published in the United States of America by

Soul Mate Publishing

P.O. Box 24

Macedon, New York, 14502

ISBN: 978-1-64716-176-7


The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

A big thanks to my online gaming friends in

The Tavern on RuneScape,

whose murderous nature inspired the plot of this story.

In the infamous words of a clanmate . . .

“We should hunt down and kill that dude

who left us and present their bones to our leader.”

As we writers say, we get our inspiration

from the unlikeliest of places.


This novel would not have been what it is without my amazing editor, Ericka Cooper, and the hardworking team at Soul Mate Publishing. I also want to thank Fiona Jayde who hits the nail on the head for every one of the covers in the Rayburn Mystery series. She has a canny knack for capturing not only Josephine’s likeness but her determination to catch the bad guys as well.

Chapter 1

Josephine ‘Jo’ Rayburn eyed the two unrepentant young adults. She hated bullies, and these two were worse than any others she’d come in contact with.

“My dad knows the mayor. We had dinner with him last month and a round of golf at the club two weeks ago. So these charges won’t stick.” The girl leaned forward a sly grin spread across her lips. “But then again, maybe he can talk to the mayor for you, give you a leg up . . . if you’d be willing to drop all the charges.”

Rage poured into Jo. Years of being on the job had taught her to keep her expression neutral as she allowed her lips to curl the edges of her mouth. “Well, as appealing as that bribe sounds, I can’t take it. It’d be nepotism, and that just wouldn’t fly.”

The girl slammed back into the chair. “Yeah right, no way is the mayor related to you. He’s black, and you’re whiter than white.”

Jo shrugged. “So? Maybe I’m adopted. But you’re right-the mayor and I aren’t directly related. His wife is my cousin. I could go get her for you, she’s next door in a meeting for a fundraiser for a youth center. Then again, it won’t do you any good.” Jo’s tone frosted as the next words fell like shards of ice from a jagged height. “Because we don’t take bribes and we don’t do favors for criminals and bullies. So you keep digging that hole deeper while your lawyer tries to pull you out of the sewage drain you’ve flushed your life down.”

A knock at the door distracted the girl, preventing her from going off the rails. One of Jo’s detectives, Webster ‘Maker’ Schumaker, stepped into the room. The black blazer, white button-down, and dress pants looked odd on the man. Normally he wore jeans, a Henley, and a blazer. Due to his testimony today, he’d been forced into dressier attire.

Arching her brow in question, Jo sat back from the file she’d been flipping through.

“The attorney they requested is here,” Maker stated, coming into the interrogation room and taking up an entire corner with his massive frame.

“Thanks, Maker.” She wanted these two nailed to the wall. As these two had targeted Arabelle’s babysitter, a girl Jo liked, she was out for blood. She was out for their freedom and any tears they felt the need to shed along the way was a bonus in her book.

She could feel her partner’s gaze like an itch on the back of her neck. Sullivan was still pissed that Jo vetoed him coming into the interrogation with her. It was his daughter’s babysitter that’d been targeted. There was no way Jo would let Sullivan anywhere near these two if she wanted the DA to get a conviction. Knowing her partner, he’d do something that might get the entire case tossed out. None of them wanted that. Even though he wasn’t in the room with her, Sullivan was watching and listening to every piece of this interview. The overdone mirror behind Jo was too clichéd, but cheap and effective as it allowed detectives to observe this. The ‘monitoring closet,’ as all the cops affectionately called it, was nestled between the two interview rooms with big mirrors in both.

Before Jo could give in to the urge to shoot Sullivan the bird, a well-dressed man in a suit that cost more than Jo made in a year barreled into the room as if he owned it. Detective Karma Zwart tipped her chin before closing the door to the hallway. Jo had asked Karma to stand in front of the door and make sure Sullivan didn’t barge in.

“Thank you for joining us, Mr. . . . ” Jo trailed off, waiting for the lawyer to fill in the blank.

“Bradley. And these two are coming with me . . . now.”

The young

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