From the Eden Falls Series
Excerpt from Finding Eden
Colton McCreed peered down at the approaching ground as a shimmer of fear worked its way up his spine. The Cessna jolted and his stomach dropped. He’d landed at a lot of small airports, but never on such a tiny strip of asphalt. Would the pilot be able to stop before the plane plunged into the very cold looking lake on the far side?
He glanced at the burly bear of a man sitting in the pilot’s seat who sported biceps the size of hams. The guy looked more like a wild mountain man than pilot.
“Your name is Beam?” Colton had asked at their introduction.
“Because I like my Jim.”
“But…not before you fly. Right?”
A crazy gleam flashed in the man’s eyes before he covered them with reflective lenses. Not the response Colton had hoped for.
“Are you sure you have enough room to land?”
“Pretty sure.” Beam raised his sunglasses and squinted at the runway as if seeing it for the first time. “There’s a lifejacket under your seat, just in case we slide into the drink. You’ll want to put it on quick before the temperature of the water sends you into hypothermia.”
Great. “Shouldn’t you be reassuring your—?” Colton lost his train of thought when the plane jolted, again.
Beam grinned and turned his ball cap backwards.
Colton’s business manager suggested he fly, rather than drive into this small town. “You’ve never lived in rural U.S.A. If you want your story to be believable, you’ve got to integrate yourself into the community, live as the natives do. Attend town meetings and celebrations.”
“Why can’t I drive my own car?”
“You won’t mix with the population driving around town in a Maserati.”
“How rural is this place?”
“Eden Falls, Washington, has all the amenities you’ll need. The crime rate is non-existent, so the residents will have an inherent sense of unity and trust, which is exactly the setting you wanted to portray in your next murder mystery.” Jorge had held up his hands as if framing a movie screen. “Just imagine a serial killer moving unseen through a town idyllically named Eden Falls. Not a fictional place, but a real town. Mingle with the folks, visit the local tavern…”
For your sake, Jorge, there better be a tavern.
Colton held his breath as he zeroed in on the advancing patch of tarmac. One quick flash of a fire-blazing death shot through his mind, but he pushed the image aside—too dramatic. He used slow, calculated methods of demise in his novels.
Every muscle in his body tightened when the wheels of the single engine Cessna touched down. The pressure of the seatbelt strained across his chest as the pilot applied the brakes. Still braced, Colton’s hand fumbled under the seat for the lifejacket and came up empty. He opened his mouth to yell at the pilot when the plane suddenly veered to the right. He exhaled a groan as his tight muscles dissolved.
Beam maneuvered close to the only building around, a white aluminum shed just big enough to hold the small plane. They jerked to an abrupt halt. “Didn’t need that lifejacket after all, huh, city boy?”
He waved his enormous hand. “There’s your welcome party.”
Colton had been too preoccupied with his impending polar swim to notice a girl standing beside a rusted Jeep.
Beam popped his door open and climbed out before Colton could unbuckle his seatbelt. By the time he swung his own door wide, the bear of a man had engulfed the girl in a hug that took her feet off the ground. He frowned in their direction as he stumbled from the plane. Jorge told him Eden Falls was thrilled at the prospect of becoming the setting for Colton McCreed’s next novel. He also said Mayor Alex Blackwood would be here to greet him. Instead, this pea-sized town had sent a girl.
As Beam unloaded Colton’s bags and guitar case from the plane, she came forward and held out her hand. “Welcome to Eden Falls, Mr. McCreed. I’m—”
“Not Mayor Alex Blackwood.”
A look of confusion passed over the girl’s face and she retracted her hand.
“I was told he would be here to meet me.”
The girl glanced at Beam who grinned as he swung Colton’s bags into the back of the Jeep. Her eyebrows lifted over a pair of eerie green eyes. “Mayor Blackwood extends his apology. An unavoidable emergency came up.”
Colton glanced from the pilot to the girl. “He was supposed to show me around Eden Falls.”
She flashed a smile that didn’t quite make it to her eyes. “I’ll be happy to show you around town and answer any questions.”
They were in the middle of nowhere with mountain peaks surrounding them. There was no way out unless he wanted to fly with the maniac, again. He should have known Jorge would distort the truth, lead him to believe there would be a welcome party awaiting a recognized author’s arrival. He hadn’t expected a parade, but at least the mayor could have shown up. He blew out a resigned huff. Jorge had accomplished his goal. He’d gotten Colton to this remote setting to write the story that had been tripping through his brain for several months—the story that wasn’t coming together. For the first time in his career, he was experiencing writers block. That fact alone set him on edge.
Hands on hips, Colton turned to the girl. “I guess you’ll have to do.”
“I guess you’ll have to do.” Who does this guy think he is?