Today, we have the third entry in our First Look Friday feature. This excerpt comes from Eyes Closed Tight by Peter Leonard, author of national best seller Voices of the Dead. Eyes Closed Tight will be published on March 4. Enjoy the first 500 words!
O’Clair got up, put on a pair of shorts and a T-shirt, glanced at Virginia’s cute face and naked shoulder sticking out from under the covers, and went outside. It was seven twenty-five, big orange sun coming up over the ocean, clear sky; looked like another perfect day. O’Clair had moved to Florida from Detroit three months earlier, bought an eighteen-unit motel on the beach called Pirate’s Cove; it had a friendly pirate on the sign surrounded by neon lights.
The motel was at the corner of Briny Avenue and SE Fifth Street in Pompano Beach. Four-story condo to the north and public beach access immediately south, and next to that, a massive empty lot that a developer was going to build a twenty-five-story apartment building on.
The idea of living through two years of heavy construction had O’Clair concerned, but what could he do about it?
He’d brought a paper grocery bag with him and walked around the pool, picking up empties, a dozen or so lite beer cans left by a group of kids from Boston University who’d been staying at the motel the past three days. There were nine of them, three girls and six guys. They’d caravanned down from snowy Massachusetts a week after Christmas.
He fished a few more beer cans out of the pool with the skimmer, picked up cigarette butts that had been stamped out on the concrete patio, and threw them in the bag with the empties. O’Clair straightened the lounge chairs in even rows, adjusted the back rests so they were all at the same angle, and noticed one of the chairs was missing. He scanned the pool area, didn’t see it, glanced over the short brick wall that separated the motel from the beach and there it was, twenty yards from where he was standing.
O’Clair kicked off his sandals, opened the gate and walked down three steps to the beach. As he got closer, he could see a girl asleep, stretched out on the lounge chair, one leg straight, the other slightly bent at the knee, arms at her sides. She was a knockout, long blonde hair, thin and stacked, wearing a white T-shirt and denim capris, early twenties. He didn’t recognize her, but figured she was with the group from Boston. She looked so peaceful he didn’t want to wake her. “You should go to your room,” O’Clair said, looking down at her.
The girl didn’t respond. He touched her shoulder, shook her gently. Either she was a heavy sleeper or something was wrong. He touched her neck, felt for a pulse, there wasn’t one. Her skin was cold, body starting to stiffen, definitely in the early stages of rigor. He looked at the sand around the lounge chair, surprised it was smooth, no footprints. Glanced toward the water at the joggers and walkers moving by. O’Clair went back up to the patio, wiped the sand off his feet, and slipped his sandals on.
Virginia was standing behind the registration counter, yawning, eyes not quite open all the way, holding a mug of coffee.
“What do you want for breakfast?”
“There’s a dead girl on the beach.” O’Clair said, picking up the phone and dialing 911.