The Wheels of Change (LA Cops Series Book Three)

The Wheels of ChangeThe Wheels of Change grips you from the first page and doesn’t let go until the very last, leaving you gasping as you read the surprise ending. Appleyard proves that she has the talent to keep you guessing, and to teach some life lessons along the way.

-Chanticleer Book Reviews

About the Book

Simon Cross is a type-A personality advertising executive, who has a penchant for sleeping with married women. When one lover’s husband learns of the affairs, Simon finds himself at the mercy of a madman.

The advertising executive develops a very different view of life and the people around him, but not before things are radically changed in ways he never dreamed possible.

As Simon’s world is turned upside-down, police are hunting for a murderer. Soon afterward, Simon is paid an unwelcome visit by the killer. The maniac demands Simon to do the one thing he can’t do…or die.

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Excerpt:

Mark took the last bite of his sandwich, listening to the police radio chirping quietly from the other side of the room. He had just wrapped up a case and promised his wife Shelley this would be the last supper he would miss for a long time.

Richard, his partner in crime, popped his head in the door. “Finished all the paperwork?”

Mark nodded, swallowing. “Yep. You?”

Richard saluted a goodbye and turned to Lisa, his wife and Mark’s assistant, who was locking up her desk for the night.

Suddenly the dispatcher’s voice came on the radio. “We’ve got shots fired on Delta Ave. South of the freeway. All officers on deck. Repeat. Shots fired on Delta Ave. All officers on deck.”

Another voice chimed in. “Copy that. This is Nelson. I’m on patrol a couple of blocks from Delta. I’ll check it out. Requesting backup.”

“Copy.”

Richard glanced at Mark, already adjusting his gun in the holster and sliding his jacket over his shirt, bloated from his bullet proof vest. “My car or yours?”

Mark closed his office door. “Whichever is closest.”

Sliding into the driver’s seat of his patrol car, Mark switched on the overhead lights and activated the siren while Richard fired up the laptop.

The police radio chirped, “Copy. This is Noonan. I’m approaching Delta Ave.”

Mark lifted the receiver to his mouth. “Noonan. This is Chief Tame. Is Hobbs with you?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good. Nelson and Wendell are already there. Stand fast until Officer Matthews and I arrive. ETA three minutes.”

Richard mumbled, “Not the way you drive.”

Mark glared at him.

“Copy that, Sir.” Noonan replied.

A few minutes later, Mark squealed the tires as he turned onto Delta Ave., parking crooked yet swiftly across the driveway, adjacent to Constable Nelson’s patrol car.

Mark lifted his eyebrows. Richard frowned. “Not bad for an old timer.”

“Smartass.”

The house sat on a quaint street. There were no dead cars parked on the lawns, no smell of marijuana and no screaming babies. Neighbors were peeking out their front windows while some stood on their porches, chatting quietly. Overall, this wasn’t the type of neighborhood you’d suspect to have gangs or drug dealers. There was no reason for shots to be fired there.

Mark approached the front door with his right hand firmly on his holster. The door was slightly ajar; he gently touched it with the end of his boot. Richard stood behind him, mirroring his stance.

“Drop your weapon!” Constable Nelson shouted. Mark and Richard entered, readying their pistols to fire.

The man standing in the center of the room dropped his gun on the floor, hands shaking. “Don’t shoot!” he yelled as his hands rose above his head in surrender.

There was another man lying in a pool of blood on the floor, his neck had been slashed. The murder weapon, a knife, lay askew a few inches away.

Richard kicked the man’s gun away, “Identify yourself!” he demanded, holding the gun near his face.

“I…I’m Rick Cranston. I live next door.” he nodded to his left.

Richard quickly patted him down unnecessarily, since the man was standing in boxer shorts and a tank top. The only place he could hide another weapon was in his dark blue sport socks.

Satisfied Rick was unarmed, Richard put his gun back in the holster. “What happened here?”

“My neighbour…um…Jake Campbell,” Rick gestured to the victim. “I heard him yelling and there was banging. Jake’s a quiet guy, so it was unusual.”

Mark checked the victim’s pulse and rose, frowning. “He’s dead.”

“Did you see who killed him?”

“Yeah. I’d have shot him if it weren’t for the damn safety sticking. Talk about a delayed reaction.” he looked at the floor and lowered his hands.

“Would you be able to describe him to a sketch artist?” Mark asked.

“Sure. He was tall, slim and dark haired.”

“Did you see his vehicle?”

“No, but there’s a catwalk behind the house, it runs onto Steeple street. He ran that way.”

Mark shot a look at Noonan and Hobbs in the doorway. “On it.” Noonan said.

“Go on.” Richard prompted Rick.

“Um…like I said, I heard yelling and banging, like Jake and the guy were fighting. So I grabbed my gun and came over to look in the window.” He pointed to the small window beside the front door. “Anyway, I saw the guy coming at Jake with a knife, so I barged in and as soon as I pointed the gun at him, he grabbed Jake and sliced his throat like he was cutting a hunk of ham off a hock.” Rick sniffed, wiping his nose with the back of his hand. “Then he ran off like a bloody coward.”

“Did you call the police first?”

“Nah, I imagine that was Mary across the street. She’s the paranoid type.”

“What can you tell me about Jake?” Richard asked as Mark called the coroner on his cell phone.

Richard offered Rick a seat on the chair furthest away from the victim, as he pulled out his notebook.

Rick sighed as he sat, pulling his boxers up for slack, “Jake? He’s a good guy. Never been married, though. That’s all that’s strange about him.”

“What does he do for a living?” Richard pencilled in comments.

“I think he works at a bank? He’s always dressed up for work. Real professional-like. Works late and all. He’s not home much.”

“How long has he lived here?”

“A couple of years maybe?”

“Does he have any family?”

“Err…I think he does. Sisters…or maybe they’re cousins. Not sure. They’re always dressed nice like him though. Same age I’d guess.”

Richard’s brow lifted. “Not girlfriends maybe? Or colleagues?”

Rick’s face scrunched slightly. “It’s possible they’re colleagues. But this is a Christian neighborhood. There ain’t any funny business going on here.” he waved a disapproving finger at Richard.

Mark looked downward at Rick. “Then why the gun?”

Rick looked at Mark matter-of-factly. “That’s how I keep it Christian.” he answered pointedly.

Chapter 2

“Clara!” Max Dunphy yelled as he opened the front door of his modest home. His boots were caked with mud and his pants were lightly dusted with dirt. He removed his hard hat and placed it on the console table by the door. Removing his boots, he faced the street as he put them on the welcome mat outside. When he turned back around, he closed the door.

“Clara? You home?” He put his keys inside the tray on the console table, looking from left to right expectantly.

As he ran his hands through his greasy, sweaty hair, he trotted upstairs. When he opened the bedroom door, he found Clara lying on the bed. Her limbs were sprawled open, like she’d been pushed down. He smelled the alcohol on her breath and shook his head in disgust. She’d missed a button on her cashmere blouse. Her hair was dishevelled and her eyeliner was smudged. There was a trail of black mascara from the corner of her eye down to her ear.

She snorted and turned over, and as she did, her cell phone fell to the floor with a soft thud. He picked it up and looked at the screen. The blood drained from his face.

The text message said, “Fuck you, asshole.”

It had been sent an hour ago from Clara to a guy named Simon Cross. Max thought for a moment and recalled exactly who Simon was; a high profile womanizing advertising executive whose office was just up the street from the construction site where Max was currently working.

He scrolled up to the message history; the first message was sent two and a half hours ago to Simon from Clara. “My husband has slipped out for an hour. You wanna meet up? Same place?” His lips pursed as he continued reading. “Looking forward to it. See you in ten.” And the final message, “I can’t wait to feel your manliness, baby…I’ve missed you.”

His heard this heart beating in his ears. He placed Clara’s cell phone in his back pocket and grabbed a change of clothes from the drawer. As he showered quickly, adrenaline pumping in his veins, he contemplated his next move. Clara was still passed out on the bed as he dressed and headed out the door.

The ‘Mars Construction’ truck was too conspicuous, so he grabbed the toolbox out of the back of the truck and put it in the trunk of his car. As he slid into the driver’s seat, he engaged the seatbelt, thinking about his next step. He knew exactly where to go, and he knew exactly what to do.

He waited alongside a strip mall at the construction site. His destination was around the corner and he pulled up just before the driveway leading into Cross Advertising, praying that the building was as quiet as the side street.

Based on Clara’s message, if Simon left her less than an hour ago, there was a good chance he was back at the office. He pulled over to the opposite side of the street and watched a lady leave the building and get into her car. Her vehicle and only one other were in the lot. The remaining vehicle was a late model BMW, parked in a spot that said ‘Reserved for Simon Cross’. Max smiled sickly from ear to ear.

As the lady turned out of the lot, Max pressed on the gas and slowly pulled into the driveway of Cross Advertising. Craning his head into the glass entrance doors, he peeked into the building. You could have shot a cannon through it. There was nobody in the waiting room.

Make it fast. He coaxed himself as he exited the vehicle, pressing the button to pop his trunk. The toolbox was beckoning him as he loosened the hinges and opened the lid. He took what he needed and slowly walked over to the black BMW. Lying on his back, he took his small flashlight and pointed it at his intended target.

Within two minutes, he had done what he’d planned and hoisted himself back up, dusted off his pants and shirt, replaced his toolbox and closed the trunk. Pleased with himself, he walked to the office entrance and opened the door without looking back.

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