Essence of Evil by Barbara Ann Derksen

Essence of Evil

 

About the Book

Evil pursues Christine, in this the second book of the Finders Keepers Mystery Series. Retreat is not an option but her move forward makes her vulnerable to the very evil that took her parents’ lives. Faced with yet another missing child, she embarks on a search that takes her out of her comfort zone to question her chosen career, her abilities, and her belief system as she helps stricken parents find closure.  Christine finds herself confused about her growing interest in Jeremy but she is distracted by the essence of evil that surrounds her.

 

Book Excerpt

Prologue

Christine Smith stretched her arms to touch her headboard, slowly opening her eyes to the bright sunlight streaming through the slats in her blinds. Her head sank further into the pillow as she arched her frame toward the warm, furry body at her side. A stroke to the soft coat of her dog elicited a grunt in response as she rolled to cuddle her best friend. “Come on, boy. Let’s go for a run.”

She gently shoved the large animal off the side of the bed. Chief, a search and rescue dog, landed with a thump, a whoosh of air indicating his lungs had connected with the floor. He continued to lay where he landed. “Good thing the distance is short. Come on, get up. Need to run.” Christine jogged in place by the dog’s side, reaching her hands toward the ceiling. “Do you know how long it’s been since the dream hasn’t interrupted my sleep? I feel as if I’ve slept for three days.” She peered out the window. “Such a beautiful day, too.”

Jogging clothes hung on the hook behind her bedroom door. Nightwear landed near the hamper as she tugged a sweatshirt over her head and stepped into fleece pants. “We’ll need to dress warm. There’s snow everywhere this morning.” Christine scrounged some extra heavy socks from her drawer. Chief, although on all fours, stretched his front legs by leaning as far backward as he could without losing his balance and then the dog performed a perfect lunge forward to stretch his back. “Looks like Yoga to me.”

She started to trot down the hall. “Maybe we need to pay a visit to Denny’s facility for a refresher today.” A cursory check at the peep hole in her front door indicated a clear path to the park … at least as far as I can tell. She moved toward a sofa table, popped the drawer open, and retrieved her spike, the weapon she used between her fingers … just in case. She never left home without it.

The code she pushed deactivated her alarm. Christine grabbed the remote to activate the yard system, and opened the door. She sucked in a deep breath of cold morning air as she quickly viewed her property and the street beyond. She grumbled, her voice low, to the animal as he nosed past her. “One day, I won’t need to be so careful.”

Two weeks had passed since she’d had a client. Not a concern, thanks to Mom and Dad’s legacy, I can be lazy once in a while. She started down the driveway. She jogged backwards a few feet and used the remote to activate the yard alarm. Just in case.

Turning forward again, she trotted after Chief who had already reached the park. He sniffed at everything above the ground, but his body language told her he knew exactly where she was at all times. He seems more protective now than when we began to search for Nathan Brent. I think he’s learned something.

Keeping a steady pace and her breathing deep, Christine continued to ponder the recent rescue of Nathan. A short visit yesterday confirmed that moving back with his mother … finally … had been positive. 

A smile crinkled the corners of her mouth. I love it when a plan comes together. She jogged in place for a few seconds, waiting for Chief to complete his mark on a nearby tree. Who’d have thought that working with Jeremy would be a good thing? For both of us.

Chief completed his task and the two of them took off, racing as fast as the slick sidewalk allowed. Her muscles warmed up and became as lithe as they always did when she took the time for a work-out. The cold air whipped by her face.

The sky had turned a clear blue. Her frosty breathe hung in the air. The absence of a breeze made the morning run a pleasant experience. Christine and Chief covered their two mile course before turning around to head home. Halfway back, she heard the caterwaul in the distance. Wonder who forgot to turn their car alarm off. She slowed to a steady jog, cooling down in the process.

The closer she got to home, the louder the wail. Her pace accelerated. Chief began to grumble, low in his chest. Can’t be. I wasn’t expecting anyone. She ran faster. The alarm grew shriller, startling the few remaining birds in the area. A neighbor’s glare greeted her as she exited the park gates.

Who’d set off her warning system? With her parents’ killer on the loose, searching for her, the added security had become a necessary intrusion in her life. She inched toward the stone wall at the park entrance, all the while scanning the neighborhood for an unidentified visitor. No one. The only other person in sight was the not-too-friendly occupant of the house across the street. Standing on his front porch, he shook his fist at her. “Shut that thing off. I need my sleep,” he yelled … as if I intentionally set it off.

Not another soul graced the landscape in front of her house, but a large box the size of a small appliance stood inside her fence. Someone’s been here. She continued to gaze from yard to yard and down the pavement, looking for anything to indicate who’d left the package. She slipped her hand into her pocket for the remote to turn the discordant sound off. He must have wondered why an alarm went off.

Chief walked closer to the container. He sniffed. His sorrowful whine filled the air around her. “What’s wrong, boy?” She glanced at the man still standing in his pajamas on his front porch. The scowl, fixed on her actions increased a sense of rebellion. She pulled the spike from her pocket and proceeded to pry the lid off the box. He’d better understand I can protect myself. The first flap loosened as well as the other larger one.

An unpleasant odor emanated from inside, combating the fresh, crisp air. She flipped the flap open. An involuntary scream erupted from her throat. She screamed again. Her body slumped to the ground. Chief stood beside her, his stance in protective mode. He emitted a vicious snarl at the neighbor approaching from across the street. Her awareness of anything other than the smell dimmed as a black coffin closed over her consciousness.

 

Barbara Ann Derksen

About the Author

With a plethora of writing under her belt and a variety of genres, Barbara Ann Derksen receives encouragement from 4 and 5 star reviews, the eager anticipation by readers for the next book, and a new reader discovering her existence.

Born in Canada, Barbara lived in the US for 12 years. There her writing surfaced as she worked under contract as a journalist for six years with over 2500 articles published in newspapers and magazines during that time. She began attending Colorado Christian Writer’s Conferences and each year, under the tutelage of great Christian writer’s like James Scott Bell, Angela Hunt, and others, she honed her skills and then published her first book in 2003.

With 18 books to her credit, one currently inactive and awaiting revision, each one surpasses the last, according to her readers. The new series has given them something to think about as she delves into the world of sex trafficking and pedophilia. Each book has its own message and seeks to instill in the reader a sense of purpose as it is lived out in the lives of the characters.

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