Return With Honor

by Jane Carver

The death of Jud Longtree's best friend gives the local police chief reason enough to suspect him of murder. With the help of Lottie Amberville, they use both logic and creativity to find someone who may have murdered more than once.


Chapter One


Jud Longtree had the oddest feeling his life was about to change when a black-haired beauty passed him in a dead out run, headed toward two young men who’d just emerged from the door of a shop further up the sidewalk. From the looks of the two so intent on fighting, they wouldn’t even see her until one of them knocked her flat. Better to break up the fight than see the lady suffer. So he lengthened his stride and got to them as the first one took a swing.

His thought was to step between the guys and force the weaker one away. Less than thirty seconds into the melee, he realized that both knew how to box as well as wrestle. Jud ducked as a fist the size of a small ham swung at the light-haired shorter teen, missed and came straight for his jaw. His body swayed to one side, close but out of the line of contact.

The two ducked and swung, contacted, grunted and cursed fluently. The taller, but more slender boy got the other in a headlock and proceeded to batter his opponent’s head until blood leaked out of the visible ear.

The one in the weaker position jabbed the taller boy in the kidneys, each blow accompanied by bellows of fury. “Let go, Peter!”

“Quite arguing with me then, damn it!” Another blow caught him in the ribs. “Ow, Walter!”

While Jud stood back, now hesitant to interfere in local affairs, the woman had moved to the other side of the fighters, and she looked determined to break up the two. With those wide eyes, forehead wrinkled in worry and tight straight lips, she appeared as angry as the combatants. “Shit, this is gonna get ugly,” he muttered in dismay as she yelled at him.

“You knock them apart, and take Peter.” She pointed to the taller thinner boy. “I’ll take care of Walter,” she said, pointing to the one in the headlock.

“Are you crazy?” He could imagine her wading in between them like an eager puppy, ready to play, and being seriously injured. He wouldn’t let one of his men in Iraq do something like that, and he wasn’t about to let her either.

She had other ideas. “On my count.” She literally rolled up her sleeves and began a loud quick countdown. “One. Two. Three.”

Jud figured he had no choice. Help or pick up the pieces. Her willingness to become involved fascinated him at the same time it annoyed him. As she yelled three and pulled her shoulders back, he dug in his heels and tackled the taller boy. He and Peter went over, Jud landing on top, his weight heavy enough to break the boy’s concentration.

“Hey, mister, what the hell are you doing?” Peter tried to throw Jud off, but he flipped the kid over onto his stomach, caught both hands and held them in a tight grip. Other than his mouth—he cussed like a Marine—the rest of the kid was down for the count.

Jud looked for the woman just in time to see the boy she called Walter fly through the air. Tall, dark and beautiful had just thrown him over her hip in a classic martial arts move. The kid landed on his stomach, not four feet from Jud. Before he could whistle his appreciation, she ran over, put her knee in the kid’s back, caught his thumb and bent it back. A gurgling scream rumbled out of the boy’s throat, but he didn’t move.


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