Excerpt from Chapter 2 of Shades of Justice (Detective Madison Knight series)

“What’s up?” Madison asked her partner as she bunched up the empty wrapper and tossed it into a garbage bin. It bounced off the edge and then went in. Score: three points.

“Where have you been?” Terry’s face was flushed, his nostrils slightly flared, his eyes wide, his chest heaving. Even for looking unhinged, every one of his blond hairs lay perfectly in place. She, on the other hand, resembled a blond cockatoo most of the time.

“I’m waiting,” Terry pressed. He was certainly in a mood this morning, and he was coming across as if he were the senior detective. He was three years her junior. “I tried calling you five times, left two messages. Why weren’t you answering your phone?”

Crap. She’d been so focused on chocolate she’d forgotten to turn her phone’s ringer back on. She rectified that and saw the missed calls. “I had an appointment.”

Terry pointed to her phone. “You had your ringer off?”

“I had an appointment,” she repeated while shifting her weight to her right hip and jutting out her chin.

“While you’ve been off doing whatever, we had a double homicide land in our lap.” Terry tapped the paper he was holding, and it sank in that it was likely a search warrant. “Quite a high-profile case at that,” he added.

He already had her attention with “double homicide.” As a city of about half a million, Stiles saw its share of murders, but rarely were two bodies found together at the same time. “I’m listening.”

“A man and a woman. Don’t have an ID for him, but she’s Lorene Malone.”

The Lorene Malone?” The Malones were a wealthy family that founded Malone’s, a chain of furniture stores that catered to middle-income families. They had three locations—one in Stiles and two in surrounding communities.

“The one and only,” Terry said briskly. “Both were shot in the head and found naked at the bottom of the Malones’ indoor swimming pool.”

Naked? And we don’t know who the man is? Was Mrs. Malone having an affair?”

“Too early to say.”

“Who found them?”

“The Malones’ eldest, Kimberly Olson-Malone.”

“Does she live in the house?”

“Nope. She’s forty-two, divorced, and has two young kids.”

“What was her reason for being at her parents’ house this morning?”

“Says she was there to pick her mother up for a seven-thirty yoga class.”

“Early for yoga,” she said. “What time did she show up at the house?”

“Around seven ten.”

“Does the daughter know who the man is?”

Terry shook his head. “Claims not to.”

The picture forming in Madison’s mind wasn’t a pretty one. If Lorene Malone was having an affair and that was what had driven the murders, one person would have more motive than anyone. “What was Mr. Malone’s reaction to the murders?”

“Don’t know.”

The skin tightened on the back of her neck. “How can you not—”

“I can’t reach him,” Terry cut in. “Kimberly doesn’t know where he is but told me that her parents just celebrated their forty-seventh wedding anniversary.”

“That hardly excludes him as a suspect. We’ve got to find him and fast,” she said. “I assume that’s the signed search warrant you’re holding?” They’d need one before the house could be processed, as Lorene Malone wasn’t the sole occupant.

Terry lifted the paper in his left hand. “Yep. It just came through. I’m headed back to the Malones’ now, but thought I’d look for you first.”

A moody partner, a high-profile double homicide—oh, this week would be getting a whole lot worse before it got better. “Let’s go,” she said.