Conrad – Falling For the Gravekeeper – A Jane Ladling Mystery Read Online Gena Showalter

Categories Genre: Contemporary Tags Authors:

Total pages in book: 56
Estimated words: 51995 (not accurate)
Estimated Reading Time in minutes: 260(@200wpm)___ 208(@250wpm)___ 173(@300wpm)

Jane Ladling told her side of the story. Now Special Agent Conrad Ryan tells his.
Welcome to Aurelian Hills, a small town rich in history and community, and six feet deep in murder.

When a local playboy doctor is found dead in an unearthed grave, Conrad is on the case. But this loner by choice is ill prepared for the cemetery’s quirky owner. A beautiful brunette with a curious nature, a fascination with cats, hats and a talent for distracting him. Doesn’t help when she, well, tries to help, and constantly inserts herself into the investigation.
With suspects stacking up, wild theories flying and a would-be amateur sleuth giving him a run for his money, Conrad must do what he does best. Buckle down, piece together the evidence and save the day. What he won’t do? Fall for the enchanting gravekeeper. Not him. No way.

*************FULL BOOK START HERE*************


Make sure your knock is authoritative, to the point and certain. That way, people know who they’re dealing with before a word is ever spoken.

–A Gravekeeper’s Guide to Dating

Special Agent Conrad Ryan remained behind the wheel of his government issued sedan, parked in a lot with three other vehicles. The same spot he’d occupied all night. Morning sunlight framed the rat trap motel before him. An Atlanta staple often touted as The Full Monty. It was also the site of two upcoming arrests.

“If a suspect runs,” Tim Barrow said from the passenger seat, “you’ve got to do the chasing. It’s your turn.”

Conrad didn’t spare his partner a glance. He continued to scan the area, on the lookout for anything troubling. With a tone drier than dirt, he replied, “Funny how it’s always my turn.”

“Isn’t it?” The other agent shifted in a failed attempt to get more comfortable, then reached over to pat Conrad’s shoulder. “But you really can’t complain. You’re young and in the prime of your life.”

“What are you, forty? That makes you five years older than me.”

“I’m thirty-nine, but I’ve got a wife, kids and a mortgage. You gotta add a decade for each. The stress, don’t you know.”

Please. Tim Barrow adored his family. Something Conrad didn’t have and didn’t want. He’d rather solve cases than spend time with people. Any people. Although, yes, his days had become pretty monotonous. Climb out of bed, guzzle coffee, investigate a murder while marveling at the depths criminals sank, jog five miles, try and fail to sleep. Repeat.

“What’s wrong with these seats?” Barrow rubbed his lower back. “When will the warrant come in?”

“Any minute.” As soon as they received the go-ahead, they’d make the apprehensions, close a case, and finally head home. Unless one of the suspects left the motel room, thereby endangering others. Then Conrad had a legal right to kick into action, warrant in hand or not.

“Distract me from my aches and pains.” With a groan, Barrow shifted again. “Tell me how things went with Tonya last night.”

Conrad swallowed a groan of his own. Why had he ever mentioned the date? Seriously? Why? Sharing personal information only invited further inquiries about his life. Even at his best, he wasn’t exactly an open book. He possessed an inner circle of one—his foster brother Wyatt—and he had no interest in welcoming a second member.

“’Cause you know,” the other man added, “Margot has set her sights on a second chance with you.”

Oh yeah, that was why he’d mentioned the date. It had stopped a matchmaking attempt. Or so he’d hoped. Coworkers who played cupid were the worst.

“I’d rather not discuss Tonya and Margot.” Tonya, the beautiful accountant who’d treated a server like a servant, ensuring Conrad wanted nothing to do with her. And the perfectly pleasant Margot, a friend of Tim’s wife who’d been a poor fit. For some reason, Conrad had failed to relax in her presence.

Actually, he failed to relax with anyone but Wyatt.

A ding sounded from Barrow’s phone. He read the screen and whooped. “Guess who got that warrant?” He returned his gaze to the motel and frowned. “Perfect timing, too. The boyfriend is on the move.”

Sure enough. A male in his early twenties with scruffy hair, a wife beater tank, and a devil tattoo on his forearm exited room 214. A pair of shades hid his eyes. Stains littered his wrinkled jeans. He puffed on a cigarette before dropping it and stomping on the butt.

Two days ago, a distraught mother had showed up at Georgia Bureau of Homicide headquarters, claiming someone was demanding five hundred thousand dollars in exchange for her daughter. If she refused to pay, the young woman would die. Just like her roommate.

Hadn’t taken long to verify the college student’s disappearance and the roommate’s demise. But evidence hadn’t pointed to an abduction. No, the truth proved much more sinister. The daughter had poisoned the roommate, panicked, and tried to cover up the crime with a staged kidnapping via her boyfriend. The two planned to use the ransom money to fund a fresh start in another country.

“If the daughter exits, she’s all yours,” Conrad said, emerging from the vehicle. Oppressive summer heat enveloped him, baking him inside his suit. A sensation he’d lamented but accepted. What else could he do? Hand on his weapon, he stalked toward the suspect. “Troy Billingsley, I’m Special Agent–”

Billingsley jolted and sprinted off. With a sigh, Conrad gave chase. He dodged a series of crumbling speed bumps before tackling the thief to the pavement.

The guy didn’t go down easy. He fought, elbowing Conrad in the sternum. Sharp pain exploded through him, and breath gushed from his lungs, but his grip on Billingsley never lessened.

A shadow fell over them. “And that’s another reason it’s always your turn. I could have a major head start, and you’d still beat me to the finish line.” Barrow bent down and snapped the cuffs in place. “Troy Billingsley, you have the right to remain silent…”