Deep In Death
(A Shelby Nichols Adventure #6)
By Colleen Helme
Running “errands” for her mob-boss employer, Joey “The Knife” Manetto, often ends with Shelby in trouble, making her cautious about continuing her association with him. Instead, she focuses on a new client who hires Shelby to find her missing mother. What seems like a routine case turns into something more sinister and deadly than she ever imagined. In the meantime, Uncle Joey has summoned Shelby to his office, where she runs into her former nemesis. Shelby inadvertently hears something that makes her fear for the lives of Uncle Joey and his hit-man, Ramos. This time, Uncle Joey is not sure he wants to involve Shelby in something he knows could get her killed. Keeping Shelby’s involvement to a minimum has disastrous results, sending Shelby on a dangerous path. As her investigation unfolds, Shelby finds death at every turn, and soon realizes she is in over her head. Can she escape from danger in time? Or will she find herself deep in death?
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“I’m investigating a missing person’s report.” I pulled out
my file and opened it up.
“Her name’s Darcy Shaw, and she went missing about
six years ago. Do you think I could look at your files and see if there’s
anything I could use?”
Dimples frowned. “From that long ago, it’s probably
downstairs in the dead files room. Come on, I’ll show you where they are.”
I followed him to the hall and down two flights of stairs to
the basement. He opened the door to a room and flipped on the light.
Wall-to-wall filing cabinets filled the room, and a stale, musty odor permeated
the air. From the smell, I’d guess no one had come down here in a long time,
kind of how I imagined it would smell visiting a mausoleum. It seemed colder
than normal too, and I realized that all of the files belonged to real people
who had disappeared and were probably dead, and no one knew why or how.
“Go ahead and take a look,” Dimples said. “They’re filed
“Um…yeah, okay.” I hesitated, not wanting to venture further
into the room. It was so cold and dank that it kind of gave me the creeps. But
I only needed one file.
“When you’re done, come on back up and I’ll fill you in on a
case I could use your help with.” Dimples was thinking he was anxious to leave
me to it, not because he had a lot to do upstairs, but because the room had
kind of a weird vibe that he didn't like.
“You’re leaving me here alone?” I blurted.
“What? You’re not scared are you?” He scoffed. “It’s just a
room with files in it.
There aren't even any guns or crazy killers down here.”
“Oh fine,” I said, still hesitating in the doorway and
wishing I hadn't heard that part about the weird vibe.
“You want me to stay?” He folded his arms and raised his
brow in challenge.
“Of course not,” I said. “Like you said, I’ll be fine.”
“Good. Hey…if one of those files attacks you…I’m right
up-stairs if you need me.”
He chuckled and left. I shook my head and hurried over to
the cabinets. As I found the cabinet with “S through T” on it, the door clicked
shut behind Dimples, sealing me in. It was deathly quiet. The only sounds in
the room came from me. My breathing and the shift of my feet echoed from the
walls, magnifying each tiny breath and movement I made.
An unexplained sense of urgency rolled over me. I was alone
in an enclosed space that seemed to get smaller the longer I stood there. A sudden
stab of dread tightened my stomach, and my hands shook a little. It was mostly
thoughts of the lights going out and leaving me in total darkness that did it.
If Bates knew I was here, I wouldn't put it past him to do that to me, and I
wanted out of this creepy place as fast as I could.
With renewed effort, I scanned the labels until I came to
the right drawer and yanked it open. I quickly leafed through the folders and
caught my breath to actually find the file. I swallowed with relief and pulled
the bulky file out. Pursing my lips together, I set it on top of the other
folders and opened it up checking to make sure it was the right one.
A larger version of the same picture I’d received from
Tiffany stared back at me. Her eyes held a haunting mixture of sadness and
foreboding, and goose bumps broke out along my arms. A sudden chill ran up my
spine and my heart picked up speed. All at once, it felt like I wasn’t alone,
and someone was standing right there beside me. I froze. I didn’t believe in
ghosts, but I didn’t dare look either.
My mouth went dry and I hardly dared to take a breath.
Glancing back down at the picture, I felt something cold and feather-like brush
against my cheek. I inhaled sharply. It came a second time and I jerked my face
away, hunching my shoulders to my neck with fear. “I…I’ll try and find out what
happened to you,” I croaked. The chill intensified, then suddenly fell away in
a cool breeze, leaving the scent of flowers behind, which I recognized as the
distinct smell of gardenias.
With my heart racing, I grabbed the file and slammed the
drawer shut, then raced out of the room as fast as I could. In my haste, I left
the light on, but I was too scared to go back and turn it off. The smell of
gardenias stayed with me all the way up the stairs, but disappeared as I
entered the office. With my chest heaving, I hurried over to Dimples’ desk and
sat down, rubbing my cold arms.
About the Author
A long career as a wife and mother while juggling several part-time jobs gave Colleen the ambition to dream of being a published author, where she could put her imagination to good use. Now instead of making up stories to tell her children, she writes books they love to read. Hopefully you will too. She is the author of three romantic fantasy novels, Songbird, Flame of Destiny and The Relic. Her Shelby Nichols Adventures include Carrots, Fast Money, Lie or Die, Secrets That Kill, and Trapped By Revenge coming soon!
You can find Colleen here: