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Jesse Watson Mystery Series Excerpts:

   What You See  (Book #1)


I lay there for what seem like an eternity. The air was hot and humid from the late afternoon rain. My knee was throbbing and the cut on my forehead was still bleeding. I held my breath as I crouched down, hiding in the damp leaves and the tangled mass of underbrush. Coming here alone was a stupid mistake…possibly the last one I would ever make. There was a killer on the loose in the woods and he was searching for me.

Then I heard a twig snap…

Page 34

I fixed a cup of coffee and walked over to the bay window in the dining area. The sky was gray against the green trees and a yard bursting with the color of spring. Small raindrops had begun to fall, as I sat down at the table. I began to read the newspaper, scanning the want ads. I need a job. This time last week, I thought my life was going into the crapper, and it probably was, but now, I had found myself a man, lived in a great house, and would eventually find a good job. I was so happy.

I searched the want ads until I had decided it was hopeless. Every job I came across was either something I couldn’t do, or wouldn’t do. I guess Athena could sense my frustration, because she came over and lay down under the table beside my feet. I reached down and patted her head.

“Not to worry, girl. We’re going to do fine. We have each other and a good home. How lucky can we get?”  I gathered my wits and continued my job search, trying to put Cole out of my head. I was just about to give up, when an ad caught my eye.

Help Wanted. Office girl. Billy Blackhawk Investigations.
200 Greenbriar Road, Charlottesville. No phone calls.

The ad was appealing. I can do this, I told myself. I hope the job hasn’t been taken. I bet working for a private eye could be exciting. Yet, deep in the back of my mind, I kept remembering that old saying…Be careful of what you wish for…

Page 229

Billy and I were about to embark on another adventure. I could see it coming… jail was just a footstep away.

   South River Incident  (Book #2)

Page 56

I drove away with a good feeling in my heart. I was about to embark on another one of my adventures on the road of life. It could only get better, or so I thought.

Page 80

"Oh, Lord," I said out loud as I picked up my clothes, one at a time and piled them on the bed. A pain shot through my back all the way down to my calf. "I'm going to burn in hell for this one." I had really fouled things up this time. What was I thinking?

Page 109

I threw a couple of logs on the fire, switched on the television to keep the dogs company, and then headed to the bathroom for a well-deserved soak. I grabbed a couple of candles off the dresser and was ready to relax. I'd just about dozed off in a sea of warm bubbles when Athena came up to me and barked. "What?" I snapped to attention. "What is it, girl?" She yelped and pranced around in circles, her nose high in the air. Suddenly she stopped, twisted her head to one side, and then jumped on the tub with her front paws. She was silent until I went to pat her head. A chilling howl came out of her mouth that could have awakened the dead. I knew she was trying to tell me something. "Back up and give me a minute," I said to her as I reached for the towel on the toilet seat. I jumped out of the tub, dried off quickly and wrapped the towel around me. Athena turned and ran. By the time I reached the living room my heart was racing. My hair was wet and the water dripped down my back. I stood frozen in shock, staring at what she was trying to show me. A picture of a skull and crossbones flashed on the computer screen. At the bottom, a message appeared: STAY OUT OF MY BUSINESS OR DIE!

Page 251

A pain shot through my skull like a sledgehammer. My vision blurred as I fought to maintain control of the car. But it was too late. The car careened off the road, bounced in and out of a ditch, and then slammed into a tree. My last conscious memory was of us hitting the tree and that poor girl flying through the windshield. Blood splatter was the last thing I saw before passing out.

   A Crying Shame  (Book #3)  

Page 29

The crash pounded in my ears at first, and then I could barely hear anything at all. I kept fading in and out as the rescue workers placed me in the ambulance. Billy was by my side, holding my hand and telling me over and over that everything was okay as he held a blood-soaked rag against his head. Finally, overwhelmed by the pain, I closed my eyes and succumbed to the darkness.

Page 184

When Claire and I walked out the door, I had no idea that this simple plan would turn out to be not so simple after all. I should've known better.

Page 218

The snow was coming down so hard that I could barely see the lines in the road. The windshield fogged up as I fumbled to find the defroster switch while still trying to keep my eyes on the road. I was scared. My sister was going to die at the hands of a murderous psycho if I didn't do something fast.

The tires on the Explorer were still spinning even though it had come to rest in the ditch. I slammed on my brakes and fishtailed to a stop, just inches away from the drop off. I got out of the car and walked over to the edge of the embankment. Snow pelted me in the face as I looked down. The first thing I saw was a shattered windshield covered with blood and a puddle of blood outside the car in the snow. I fell to my knees and screamed out Claire's name. My voice echoed through the trees.

Page 300

"DNA will get you every time," I said. "There's no getting around it. Trace evidence is always left behind. I hope he gets the death penalty. I say they should fry his…"

   Middle River Murders  (Book #4)


Even though the mushrooms weren't the real cause of Pat Johnson's death, Daisy Clark thought they were. Her attitude about life changed in an instant. A seed had been planted and a killer was born.

Page 20

The blow to the head had not been fatal, but it rendered her unconscious long enough for the poison to do its job. Another member of the Stanardsville Social Club was no more.

Page 246

Athena stood up on her haunches and started barking. She didn't stop until we reached the end of Middle River Road. I should've known right then she was trying to tell us something.

Page 268

A terrible storm played havoc outside as the hours slowly passed. By nightfall, she knew the end had come. A dog's bark was the only true sign of life outside the walls that confined her. She closed her eyes and waited for her Lord to take her home.

   Greene County Killer  (Book #5)

Page 71

The land of pleasant dreams is a place where we can find comfort, solve everyday problems and then awake feeling refreshed. At least, hopefully, most of us have a place like that we visit occasionally when we sleep. And then, there's that other place—the dark side. The dark side of dreams is where evil lurks and our worst fears are imagined. The most horrible thing that can possibly happen in life will happen in that place. Demons lurk there, and death is only a footstep away. I know. I've been to that place many times. Tonight, I had a long, ugly visit.

Page 240

Furious, I screamed, "You won't live long enough for that, punk-liar!" I pulled the gun from my coat pocket, aimed it directly at his chest, and squeezed the trigger.

Page 250

With that said, we jumped into our vehicles and headed down the road. Jonathan and Cole went chasing after the bad guy, while Billy and I headed to my mother's house to see what we could find in Savannah Kelley's book. I had no idea how much worse it was going to get, but I was about to find out.

   Death on the Bella Constance  (Book #6)

Chapter 2

We watched as Norfolk and the surrounding cities became a blur on the horizon. All we could see was the blue of the open sea. It was breathtaking.

It was a little unsettling that we had been at sea barely two hours, and already there had been a death on board. What did that say about the next six days and twenty-two hours? People weren’t supposed to die on a cruise. This was a time for fun and relaxation, not death and sadness.

“All right,” I said. “But I don’t want to be shot at, kidnapped, or beat up. I want to have a good time. Of course, if a little snooping has to be done, we’re the ones to do it.”

Chapter 11

Maggie jabbed at her sore repeatedly, smearing blood across her lip as she did. She raised the bloody fork, turned, and ran toward Peter Dawson. She barreled into him with the force of a linebacker, grabbing his arm, and then snatching him around to face her. She raised her hand higher, and then plunged the fork deep into the left side of his chest. Peter Dawson fell to the floor—the fork still in his chest.

Savannah seemed to be coming unhinged. She shuddered as she began to rant. "A crazed passenger stabs another one with a fork… at the buffet table… no less. What next? A shooting? We all know everyone on this gun-free ship has a gun.” Her voice was getting louder by the second, and tears spilled onto her cheeks. “I have one!” She turned and asked a passenger, “How about you? Are you armed as well?” She looked back at the captain, demanding to know, “And when are we going to dock? There’s a storm out there that’s sure to kill us if some psycho on board doesn’t get to us first!”

Chapter 16

“I don’t trust him,” Savannah said. “But I thought it was just me.”
   “No, it’s not just you,” I said. “He’s not what he appears to be. He’s a fake. I think we’re going to see the real side of him very soon.”
The beast was about to come out of hiding, changing Loukas and Bella’s life forever.

Chapter 18

We followed Loukas’ advice and maintained close contact within the group. We snuggled together like a bunch of penguins protecting their young eggs from the frigid cold in Antarctica. We even walked like them. Savannah was the first to laugh. By the time we got inside the building, everyone was laughing. How silly we must’ve looked—people bleeding and laughing.

Chapter 22

Death was surely coming to get Dorothy Berdinski.

   All About the Money  (Book #7)

Chapter 1

“I’ll be right there, Savannah. Are you alone? Where’s McCoy?”
    “He’s not here, but I’m not alone either. I have a body in my garage!”

Chapter 2 

I flipped on the camcorder and watched the scene play out while Billy talked. “The buy went down without a hitch, and then the police swarmed the area. Jones panicked, pulled a gun, and the next thing I knew, he was laying on the concrete with a bullet in his head.”
    “What was the mistake you said you made? You worked with the cops to bring down this guy. You didn’t have to. All you had to do was get pictures for the insurance company. You could’ve stopped there, but you didn’t. You helped take a drug dealer off the streets. What’s the problem?”
    “The mistake I made was to ever trust the cops.”

Chapter 5 

 “That was strange,” I said as I climbed up into the passenger seat. “I thought she wanted us to snuff him out. Murder-for-hire isn’t part of my job description.”

Chapter 7

    Digging out the seatbelt would soon prove to be a wise move. Barely a mile from our house, Billy slammed on the brakes, and then started yelling obscenities in his native tongue. I opened my eyes just in time to watch us fishtailing down the road before we plunged into a ditch. The truck bounced around and then slammed into something so hard it caused us to stop cold. The rear end flew up for a split second at the moment of impact, and when it dropped back down, the truck came to rest on its left side. The engine stalled, and smoke billowed from under the hood.

Chapter 8 

I punched in Flo’s number and the call went through this time. When I heard the first ring, I looked over at Billy and gave him the thumbs up sign. Before the phone had a chance to ring a second time, a gunshot rang out from within the Rhodes’ house. A second gunshot followed.
    Something bad had just happened.

Chapter 11 

A gunshot blasted and echoed throughout the house.
   In a flash, I jumped out of bed and ran to the kitchen, only to find it empty. I looked down at the floor and saw blood everywhere. There was even blood on the wall. It looked as if someone had just been brutally murdered. My heartbeat quickened and my pulse raced. Then I noticed the front door was standing wide open.
    “Where is everybody?” I cried out.
    There was no response. I looked around for a second, and then ran to the door out onto the porch. I stood there in the early morning light and looked around the yard. It was misty and overcast like it gets after a heavy storm, but there was no denying what I saw next. A woman's body was lying on the ground, covered with blood. She was motionless, her body limp like wet hair in the rain. I ran to her, trying to maintain control and not cry. The minute I bent down to check her out, someone came up behind me and smashed me over the head. I blacked out.

Chapter 15  

I laughed at his silliness, but my insides were shaking like one of those wobbly headed dolls. Would this simple task turn out to be not so simple? I crossed my fingers.

Chapter 17  

“Savannah’s going to drown in this mess, and when the truth comes out, it’s going to be nasty. She’ll be selling her books at yard sales.”

Chapter 19  

 Billy just shook his head again, and I knew right then and there, this wasn’t going to end well for us. A woman scorned… is a bad thing.

Chapter 20  

Billy and I stopped talking and waited. Our heads were on the chopping block, and the axe was raised.
   Then, Sheriff Hudson delivered the blow.

Chapter 20  

Billy pulled into the driveway and parked the truck. The long, summer night would soon be upon us. We had survived another day.

Chapter 21

Savannah was standing at the counter in her kitchen, pouring pills and booze into a food processor. She had a sadistic, evil look on her face as she blended, folded, and grated her concoction of poison. She poured the potion into a huge glass, and then walked over to McCoy, who was tied to a chair. Cole held McCoy’s head back as Savannah emptied the glass down his throat. Then the two of them started stuffing pills into his mouth. They stuffed and stuffed until the pills started falling out of the sides. Cole and Savannah picked up every fallen one, and shoved them back in. Suddenly, McCoy’s head exploded, and all that was left was a big pile of pills.

Chapter 22

Lu Ann confirmed my suspicion. “They almost always keep a memento,” she said, her voice coming through the speakerphone on Billy’s cell. “Whether it’s to remind them of how bad they’ve been, or to validate their accomplishments, they’d keep something. If she stole the pills and did what you said, she still has the bottle. It would give her comfort to know she got over on everyone. She’d take pride in her memento, and most likely, put it someplace special… like in a drawer… or jewelry box.”
    “That does it for me,” I said. “I’m ready to shake her down! Let's take out the trash, baby!"
    “Keep in mind that she’s unstable. When you confront her, she might not go along with your offer to let her turn herself in. She’ll fight back.”
    “And do what?”
    “Kill you in your sleep.”
    “Oh, come on, Lu Ann! She’s not a killer.”
    “That’s not what you’ve been telling me for the last ten minutes. Look, Jesse. It doesn’t matter how or why she kills. A killer is a killer.”

Chapter 24

    She was going to be the one that got away.


  Lunch Break Shorts


A collection of six short stories, including one alternate ending, for your lunch break reading pleasure. Approximately 27,000 words.  A quick read. Suspense, murder, and something a little different.

            Available on Kindle only.

*Encounter—A late night call sends Lila on a dangerous journey.

*No More—An abusive husband and a road trip turns deadly for Denise.

*A Gray Area—Lonnie faces the aftermath of his wife’s murder. Will he get revenge?

*A Gray Area 2 (alternate ending)

*Instincts—Sarah’s blind date goes horribly wrong.

*Bittersweet—Evidence of a cheating husband causes a wife to panic.

*The Irony of It All—Lois plans the murder of her husband.


 Afton Ridge Publishing 271 Entry Run Road Stanardsville, VA 22973 434-962-4380    

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