You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
Tyora Moody's debut novel, When Rain Falls, is the first book in the Victory Gospel series. She owns and operates Tywebbin.com, a design and marketing company. Her company’s niche is assisting authors with branding and developing an online presence. As an avid bookworm, she manages two book blogs, WrittenVoicesBlog.com and ChristianBookwormReviews.com. Tyora has also served as a judge for the Christy Awards. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and American Christian Fiction Writers.
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“Why does God keep taking away the people I love?” This is the lamentation of widow CANDACE JOHNSON when her best friend is brutally murdered. Ensnared by a deep-rooted bitterness, seeping her faith day by day, Candace is determined to seek justice.
Detective Darnell Jackson is in need of clues fast. The police captain is coming down hard on him and his partner to find out who murdered Pamela Coleman, the daughter of a high profile judge.
Darnell confers with Candace to get the inside track on events leading up to the murder. As the investigation heats up, his growing attraction for Candace plays havoc on Darnell’s judgment.
Little does she know, Candace’s quest to find the truth has led her straight to the killer. She’s already lost loved ones. Now Candace must choose to completely trust God with her own life.
List Price: $14.95
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Urban Christian; Original edition (February 28, 2012)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
WHEN RAIN FALLS
by Tyora Moody
RELEASE DATE: March 2012
Bronx, New York, 1981
Twisting her torso around, the girl strained against the seat belt to peek through the police car’s back window. Lights burned from several nearby houses, creating an eerie glow against the damp night sky. A number of sleepy-eyed neighbors lined the street, their attention focused toward a small white house, now decorated with yellow tape around the yard.
The front door opened, spilling bright lights onto the tiny porch. Two police officers walked out with a man between them. The cops were tall, but not nearly as tall as the handcuffed man, whose arms were muscular and huge. The girl tensed, her eyes drawn toward the man’s white tank top, which revealed more than his furry chest. Bright and dark reds merged into a strange starburst pattern around his middle.
He turned his head in her direction, his narrowed eyes hunting for her. The flashing blue lights danced across his face, highlighting his light brown eyes. His lips parted, showing off perfect white teeth. He’d found her. Like always, his smile stopped at the curves of his mouth, never reaching his eyes. She never knew if he liked or hated her. Sucking back air, she ducked below the window. A whimper escaped between her ragged breaths. She didn’t want him near her. Not ever again.
A wave of warmth, then cold, rippled through her body, causing her to tremble. She rubbed her hands up and down her arms, feeling tiny bumps on her skin through the thin pajama top. The cheeseburger and fries she’d eaten hours before gurgled in her stomach, threatening to be released. Without warning, one of the back doors opened. She screeched and pressed into the corner of the seat, believing her worst nightmare had broken free.
Instead, a cop leaned into the car and asked, “Hey. Are you all right in here?”
No, I’m not all right. Can’t you see I’m freaking out? But her mouth wouldn’t cooperate with her brain.
The cop poked his head back out of the car. “Hey, where’s the social worker?”
A man with a rough voice yelled back something, but she couldn’t understand what he said. Staring at the cop, she pulled her legs up to her chest, resting her chin on her bony knees. Wait, something didn’t feel right on her face. Lifting her right hand, she touched the side of her face. The skin felt ragged and sore. When she pulled her hand away, she saw dark stains on her fingers. Was that her blood or . . . ? She dug her nails into her palm, hiding her hand behind her back.
Outside the police car, someone walked up behind the cop and handed him a plastic grocery bag. He didn’t pull out food. Instead, he pulled something gray and furry from the bag and extended it to her. The cop frowned. “Looks like you have an injury there. We’ll get someone to take a look at it. Right now, I think you could use a little buddy. I have a daughter. Got a room full of these things.”
Man, I’m not a baby. She’d always been too small or too short, and the cop must have thought she was a lot younger than her twelve years. She took the stuffed animal, anyway, not really sure what to do with it. The cop shut the back door and then jumped in the front seat. As the car engine cranked to life, she examined the fuzzy stuffed animal. With its round ears, it could’ve been a bear or a mouse. She didn’t really care.
Slowly, she opened her fist, almost expecting the stains to be gone. They weren’t. Her face grew warmer as she wondered what would happen now. Turning to risk another look at the house, she sniffled. Two men walked inside, rolling a stretcher between them. Tears clouded her vision.
The cop said something from the front seat, but she wasn’t listening. Using the back of her sleeve, she wiped away the wetness crawling down her cheeks. She wanted to scream. Again. Bringing the stuffed bear or mouse closer to her face, she squeezed with both arms and hid her face in the soft fur. As the car pulled away from the house, her head throbbed. She could still hear the screaming and shouting.
I’m sorry, Mama. I’m so sorry.
“What’s going on?” Candace Johnson sat up in the bed and waited. Either the cellular company had dropped the call or her friend was on the line, probably twirling a lock of hair, her mind elsewhere. She fired off, “Pamela, are you still there?”
“I’m here,” Pamela shot back. Her friend let out a deep sigh. “There’s a lot I’m trying to process right now. It’s late. Let’s talk tomorrow.”
Tomorrow. “You’re kidding me, right?” Nothing rattled Pamela Coleman, but only a few minutes ago Pamela had called with a shaky voice, saying, “We have to talk.” There was no way Pamela could leave the conversation hanging until the morning.
“I’m tired, Candace. To be quite honest, I may not be thinking straight.”
Candace pulled the covers up closer to her body. It wasn’t unusual for them to talk until the wee hours of the morning, but she knew not to push her friend. “Where are you, anyway? Are you still at the art gallery reception this late?”
“No, I’m on my way home.”
“All right, girlfriend. I hope you get a good night’s sleep. There will be no excuses tomorrow. I expect you to spill everything.”
“I hope I can. You get some sleep, too.”
The dial tone buzzed in her ear for a few seconds before she hung up the cordless phone. Sleep. That’s a joke.
Out of habit, Candace slipped out of the bed and walked over to the window. She lifted one of the blind slats to peer out onto the street. It had been over a year and a half since the police department had provided protection for her family during the night. Now it seemed the police no longer cared. Other cases took priority, she guessed. Maybe it was all her imagination, overcome by grief and loss.
Rain pelted the roof and windows. The kind of rain that could coax a person into a deep, restful sleep. Candace wished. A full night’s sleep had become a lost luxury, but she would try to close her eyes. As she climbed under her favorite quilt, uneasiness settled over her mind. Again. Another long night awaited her.
She could blame her sleeplessness on the late-night pizza session with the kids, but she knew better. Even Pamela’s ominous call didn’t help matters. It was the past that kept her staring at the ceiling, walking beside her like a maddening visitor, just hanging around, with no signs of departure.
Stealing her sleep, her peace.
She gripped the quilt, hugging it close to her body. Her aunt always said, “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Candace didn’t care about being strong. She wanted answers.
She stared into the darkness, beyond the clock, to where the glow illuminated a man’s features. The photo was barely visible, but Candace had it memorized. In her mind, she could see
Detective Frank Johnson dressed in his uniform. Though his smile was serious, his deep dimples still made an appearance.
Almost seventeen years of marriage. Her protector.
Seemed like everyone these days told her the same thing. “Frank would’ve wanted you to move on.” How could she? Her Frank believed in justice. In the end, her husband received none. That haunted her.
She did need to get herself together. Her children had been through enough. She didn’t need Rachel and Daniel worrying about their mother. More than anything she wanted them to enjoy their youth. She didn’t want them to experience the pain she struggled through at their age from losing a parent.
So Candace meditated on the rain, willing her eyes to grow heavy.
Her eyes flew open, and then she smacked the pillow. Even as she resolved to put the familiar memory out of her mind, questions lingered. Why now?
Almost thirty years had passed since that night. It seemed like every now and then Mama decided to visit her in a dream. Images of the beautiful, troubled woman who birthed her often were like a bittersweet reunion. But sometimes he would show up, too.
Candace was no longer afraid of him. She’d made sure to track down his whereabouts after Frank’s death just to be sure her childhood bogeyman had not returned. She knew he wasn’t a threat to her anymore.
Still, she knew sleep would not come tonight. She refused to close her eyes. Like that night long ago, it felt like God had stopped by to shake her around like one of those snow globes. Where would the pieces of her life fall like those flakes? Candace wasn’t sure she wanted to know.
Candace focused her thoughts on the earlier phone call. Pamela, what do you have to tell me tomorrow?
I will never leave you or forsake you.
He made sure to park the car a distance away. Then he walked, being careful to avoid the streetlights, closer to the house. He was in a crime-watch zone. No need to make neighbors suspicious. The night’s events had put him on edge. All he wanted to do was bury the past and move on. But no, she had dug it all back up again, practically accusing him. He would deal with the situation soon enough.
For now, it was time to visit an old friend.
With the stealth that he’d used many times to break into homes, he crept forward until he reached the oak tree located parallel to the house. He peered around the trunk and looked up toward the window.
The house was dark, but he knew. She’s awake. Thinking about me.