In the Heat of the Tropics
by Christina Elliott
GENRE: Romantic suspense
Amid a sweltering Miami summer, a serial killer is haunting the city. Reporter Ingrid Sorenson is assigned the story and her primary source is brusque detective Rick Gonzalez. The pair clash, but sparks of passion ignite. They risk their jobs to give in to their desire, but mistrust of each other’s career motives wedges them apart. Then Ingrid gets a tip that leads her into the killer’s lair. She and Rick must choose between saving themselves or rescuing their love.
The sky darkened again as if a dimmer switch had been thrown. Rick flicked on the headlights. “I don’t think we’re going to beat the rain,” he said. “Do you want to turn back?”
Worry crossed her face. “No way. I’ve got a deadline to meet,” she said. “I’m not afraid of getting wet.”
He gave her an assessing glance as they pulled up to a stop light. She was plucky, he had to give her that. And smart. The light changed and he turned his attention to the road. He had to keep his guard up. She was a reporter, first and foremost. He had to remember that.
“Have you found witnesses who might’ve seen a suspect?” she asked.
“I can’t discuss specifics of the investigation. The killer chose his times and locations very carefully, which suggests a lot of pre-meditation. These weren’t spontaneous homicides. He went to different areas known for prostitution pickups each time because johns would be scared to go to the place where one had just been murdered and the hookers would be on the alert, but they were all in this general North Miami area. He staked out lonely streets to direct the customer to drive to commit the sexual act and likely had his vehicle parked nearby to make a fast escape.”
Ingrid was avidly taking notes. He paused to wait for her to catch up, and wondered if he was saying too much. As long as he focused on details about the killer that someone would recognize, he couldn’t get in trouble.
By the time he pulled up to the scene of the third killing a mile away, fat plops of rain were sporadically splattering the windshield. They soon increased to a steady drumbeat battering the roof.
“Crap,” Ingrid said.
“There’s not much to see, honestly, just another side street.”
“I still think I should see the actual spot,” Ingrid said.
He would have to end up with a super-thorough reporter. “I have an umbrella here somewhere,” he muttered, foraging under the seat.
Holding the umbrella, he jogged to the passenger side and opened the door. Necessarily brushing shoulders to fit side-by-side under the small shelter, they walked down the street to an alcove of an abandoned building.
“Victim three was found parked outside this doorway, Saul Martinez,” Rick said.
The sky cracked as if it were splitting apart, unleashing a torrent of water.
“I love these midsummer thunderstorms in Miami, don’t you?” Ingrid said.
Lightning illuminated her face with a bright halo. Her cheeks shone where the rain had caught them, her forehead framed with tendrils of damp hair. Drops glistened on her eyelashes like tiny tears. He felt himself gliding toward her.
She blinked and the raindrops fell from her lashes. He halted himself.
“You’re getting wet. Let’s head to victim four,” he said brusquely. He turned toward the car without waiting for an answer.
The crime scene was a side street ten blocks west. This time they didn’t get out of the car. Rick pulled up and reconstructed the scene, restraining his urge to lean over her, just to breathe in her slightly sweet powdery scent, as he pointed from the window.
By the time they pulled back into the station parking lot, the rain had tapered to a dancing sprinkle and fingers of sunlight poked through the clouds, sending an eerie, hazy wash over the atmosphere.
He parked. Ingrid handed him her business card. “If you think of anything else, call me. My cell’s on there, too.”
Rick tucked it in a pocket. “So, what are you going to write?”
“What you told me, plus I’ll call some serial-killer psychology experts.”
“Just don’t get me in trouble again.”
Ingrid gave him a hard look. He’d meant it as a joke, but it hadn’t come out lightheartedly. She’d taken it as a rebuke. Damn.
“Thanks very much for your time, Detective.” Her tone was frosty. “If I have any other questions, I’ll call Major Montoya.”
The slam of the door buffeted the vehicle.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Christina Elliott is a former Miami newspaper reporter and editor. She now writes spicy romantic suspense novels from Los Angeles, where she’s glad to report there are far fewer bad-hair days but sadly far less Cuban coffee. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America.
Interview with Christina Elliott
Where do you get inspiration for your stories?
I was a newspaper reporter for many years so that’s definitely influenced my fiction writing. That’s why Ingrid in In the Heat of the Tropics is a reporter! Among many other topics, I covered crime, cops, courts so I know that arena. Although I still have to do research to get grounded in the details, but my background certainly gave me a good headstart. Other than that, I’m always interested in the quirks of human nature, which sometimes prove to be the seed of a character or a plot. I have a notebook where I jot down things that spark my attention. Some things I use, some I don’t.
How did you do research for your book?
Research is one of the fun parts of writing novels. Since I worked as a print journalist, I had Ingrid’s character covered. I had to do more research on both serial killers and police procedures. Luckily, I’m fascinated by forensic psychology so over the years I’ve gathered a lot of general knowledge about people who are compelled to kill. I was able to draw on that to mold the character of Tucker. As for police, I covered plenty of crime stories over the course of my career. I’ve also dated two cops (!) and took a citizens police course that was offered by my local police department. For the setting of Miami, I lived there for five years so I knew the area quite well. But with everything, I still had to look up details, double-check and verify. With Google, it’s quite easy these days.
Do you have another profession besides writing?
I was a newspaper reporter for many years so you could say my profession has always been writing. Being a writer was all I ever wanted to be since I was a child and a voracious bookworm. Besides writing fiction, these days I write for a public relations agency, writing corporate speeches, press releases, op-eds, and I edit dissertations and book manuscripts. Writing is really my bailwick.
If you could go back in time, where would you go?
Many periods in history fascinate me but since I particularly love British history I’d go back to Elizabethan England. Called the Golden Age of England, it dates from 1558 to 1603. It was the time of Shakespeare, of new colonies being formed in the New World, of explorers and adventurers such as Sir Francis Drake roaming the seas, pirates pillaging the Caribbean, fights and competition with Spain for territory. It seems to have been an exciting era.
What is your next project?
Another romantic suspense, titled “Angel’s Lust.” It’s set in Los Angeles, where I now live, and it’s another sexy setting. It’s the home of Hollywood, of course, but it’s also the epicenter of the adult entertainment industry. I found this pretty interesting so the latter forms the backdrop for “Angel’s Lust.” The love story is between two homicide detectives competing to solve the suspicious death of an executive that is linked to the adult entertainment industry. The case deepens into sex trafficking and an unsolved murder.
Christina Elliott will be awarding a $15 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
Follow the tour here: http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2017/11/vbt-in-heat-of-tropics-by-christina.html