Vengeance: A Reece Culver Thriller - Book 1

Free Vengeance: A Reece Culver Thriller - Book 1 by Bryan Koepke

Book: Vengeance: A Reece Culver Thriller - Book 1 by Bryan Koepke Read Free Book Online
Authors: Bryan Koepke
yellowing newspapers and an assortment of white plastic trash bags. He didn’t care to guess what the trash bags contained, but figured it was dog poop.
    He pressed the doorbell, and heard its echo through the small single-story home. Reece took a deep breath, preparing himself, and the faint smell of mold came to him. He was pressing the bell a second time when he heard someone fumbling with the knob. It seemed like whoever was inside the home wasn’t exactly sure how to open the front door. An elderly woman with a nasal cannula shoved into her nostrils and threads of stiff white hair sticking out at odd angles from beneath a yellow scarf popped out. She stood staring at him with deep-set gray eyes as if he’d been the first to ring her bell in years.
    She began to look ill, and then a slow billow of smoke rose from the corners of her mouth. In the fingers of her vein-covered purple paw she held a long cigarette with two inches of ash about to drop at any moment.
    She brought the cigarette to her lips and sucked until the hollow parts of her cheeks drew in toward her mouth. The sight caused Reece’s throat to constrict, and made him feel like coughing.
    “What do you want?” the woman hollered in a voice louder than warranted.
    “Mrs. Fletcher, my name’s Reece Culver,” he said, holding out his private investigator’s license.
    “You’re from Colorado. What do you want with me?” she said, more observant than her physical demeanor indicated.
    “I’m investigating the disappearance of Tracey Roberts. She listed you as her emergency contact at the hospital in Tulsa,” Reece explained, hoping she’d invite him in. The woman stood looking at him, like she was trying to decide what to do next. She took another drag on the cigarette, and he watched the ash break off and drop onto the toe of his shoe. Finally, she retreated backwards into her home, waving him in.
    Most of the furniture was covered by dull yellow sheets with a thick covering of dust. The walls were decorated with brown striped wallpaper, and the air smelled like a mixture of cat urine, cigarettes, and something sweet that he couldn’t identify. The woman parked a green oxygen tank by a gold recliner covered in cat hair. As she slowly sat down, she displaced a small cloud of dander.
    “Take a seat, Culver,” she said, pointing to a matching recliner. Reece sat down amid a huge cloud of rising dust as he sank into the worn chair. He fought off a sneeze and realized the noise he’d heard when he’d first arrived was coming from a television set on its loudest volume. Noticing it at the same time, the woman dug the remote control out from under a stack of used cigarette packages and lowered the sound.
    “What was it you were looking for, Culver?” she asked in a sarcastic tone.
    “I’m working on a missing person’s case,” he answered. “I’m looking for Tracey Roberts.”
    “After all these years, why bother? If she’d wanted to be found, she would have called,” the woman said in an annoyed tone, blowing smoke from both nostrils. “Who’s turning that stone back over? Let me guess: it’s got to be Crystal.”
    “You know Crystal Thomas?” Reece asked.
    “Is that what she calls herself these days?” the woman asked. “That damn child never could let anything alone.”
    She took another deep drag of smoke. “That Crystal has had more men than I have cats. What’s that silly child looking for now?”
    “Did you spend much time with Crystal when she lived in Oklahoma?” he asked, getting the feeling that if he didn’t change the subject he was going to waste half a day listening to what she thought of Crystal.
    “No, not until she got into boys. She used to come for the weekend and stay with me. I liked her company at first,” the old woman said.
    “Did something happen to change your mind?”
    “She met a boy from another school. He was two years older than her, and I wondered what a sixteen-year-old boy would want with

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