The Last Witness

By: K.T. Roberts


NYPD detectives Tate Kensington and Zachary Gerard are convinced one killer is at work, but proving it seems an impossible feat until a pre-teen prank blows the case wide open.

Both detectives have their own pasts to haunt them - Tate's ex-flame is now her boss, and Zach's estranged father is counsel for the defense. Complicating things even more are death threats, witnesses going AWOL, and an increasing attraction neither of them can continue to deny. Can the pair put away a killer on a paper-thin case? Or will their disappearing Jane Doe prove to be...THE LAST WITNESS...





DEDICATION

To my wonderful sister, L. “Jessie” Esposito whose knowledge and expertise helped pave the way.

You’re the best!

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

As always, no book would be possible without the advice and encouragement of others throughout the process.

I thank my sister, L. Jessie Esposito, a former detective in the Port Authority of NY-NJ for her expertise in police work, the law enforcement officers over at Crime-Writers, former detectives John Bray, Skip Dorn, and Assistant State’s Attorney Megan Blade for answering my unending questions.

A heartfelt thanks to the Montgomerys for allowing me to use their two beautiful daughters’ names Tate and Kensington for my female character.




1

NEW YORK CITY

August 26, 2007

Run, Jessie, run. Her muscles screamed with pain and exhaustion. To stop was not an option—not now. She had to get away from whoever was chasing her.

Run, dammit, run. White-hot pain engulfed her lungs, and the dryness in her throat made her tonsils feel swollen. She curled her tongue and squeezed her mouth to create saliva, then swallowed. She ran up the hill and down the other side. The dirt shifted under her feet. She slid but managed to stay upright.

The wind kicked up, and Jessie coughed to expel the dust she’d inhaled, never letting up on her pace.

“Where the hell am I?” she screamed, unable to see what lie ahead. Her parched throat burned with every breath, yet she continued to run. She pushed the thought away.

His raspy breathing and the thunderous pounding of his feet told her he had gained on her. She must have slowed down without realizing it. The intensity of pain in her legs grew stronger, and she willed them to move faster, but they refused to cooperate. “Oh, God, please help me.”

She turned her head to look over her shoulder and saw him a few feet behind her. A surge of adrenaline took over, and she sprinted forward, then tripped over the uneven terrain and fell to the ground. She tried to stand, but a sharp blow to the center of her back caused her knees to buckle and sent her sprawling forward. Pain shot through her nose when her face struck the hard surface. She squeezed her eyes shut to block out the pain. Blood gushed down her face and into her mouth. The nauseating taste of copper made her gag.

When his evil laughter echoed in her ears, she knew it was all over. He was going to kill her. Fear, thick as the blood running down her face, froze her to the spot. She lay on the sparsely grass-covered ground helpless, and released a low, tortured sob, afraid to fight back.

He reached for her arms and pulled them behind her back. She could feel the sharpness of a rope cut into the skin on her wrists. A trickle of fluid ran down the side of her hand. Blood? Was it her blood? Or was it his sweat? The latter disgusted her and made her want to heave again.

“Oh God,” she gasped; her heart hammering out of control, so loudly she could feel the reverberations throughout her body. She whispered a silent prayer hoping whatever was about to happen would be swift.

He jerked her to an upright position, whirled her around, and forced her onto a large boulder. The black hooded cape he wore concealed everything except his piercing eyes. She focused on them trying to identify her assailant; if not for the police, for herself—so she’d know who was stalking her—know who wanted her dead.

The click of the hammer echoed in the still night. If she hadn’t already been sitting, her legs would have given out when he pressed the cold steel of a gun barrel against her cheek. One last chance for someone to hear me, she thought, and screamed at the top of her lungs.

Detective Tate Kensington jerked and sat upright in bed, drenched in sweat. Her hand clutched to her chest as she gasped for air, unable to breathe from the suffocating sensation that gripped her. She scanned the dark room as she gulped in mouthfuls of air. This was a dream, wasn’t it?

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