Excerpt from Nine Days by Minerva Koenig, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Nine Days

A Mystery

by Minerva Koenig

Nine Days by Minerva Koenig X
Nine Days by Minerva Koenig
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  • Published:
    Sep 2014, 304 pages

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Donna Chavez
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THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 1

I

"Recognize this?" says the redhead, raising a nine-millimeter pistol to my husband's face.

It's late. We're walking the scenic route home after closing the bar. Joe stops, watching the redhead's partner come around on my left side. They're both under twenty years old, with stubbly heads and slow, mean eyes.

"Sorry, guys," Joe says, showing them his handsome fuck you grin. "We're dry."

"We don't want your money, guido," the redhead sneers. "It's too late for that."

A cop car ambles through the intersection at Twentieth and B, half a block behind the man with the gun, and a familiar dread tickles the bottom of my stomach. I'm not really here, but I've been here before. I know what's coming.

My hands jump to my ears seconds ahead of the shattering blast that takes half Joe's head off, and I brace for the two slugs that are coming my way. I remember that they won't kill me. The cops will make the far corner in four and a half seconds and save my life. Not Joe's. He's already gone.

God damn it. Living through it once wasn't enough?

II

"That's gotta be her," somebody said.

I surfaced from the dream and found myself beached on the rear seat of a black Chevy SUV, blinking at the back of some guy's head. We were parked in a dark loading bay next to a bus station. Through the plate glass window, I could see a big woman dressed in a gray button-down shirt and pressed navy twills coming in from the back.

The head—Kang, his name was—folded up yesterday's Washington Post and sat tense while his partner, Buford, traded identification with the woman inside the station. I don't know what the hell they were worried about. Black tactical boots, paramilitary swagger, dark hair pulled back tight—she might as well have been wearing a sign that said COP, for Christ's sake.

After a couple of minutes, Buford turned and jerked his thumb at us. Kang and I got out of the car.

Nobody had told me where I was going—security, they said—but we had to be south of the Carolinas. The air was warm and thick, with a moist, grassy smell. Florida, maybe?

It had been forty degrees and raining when we'd left Virginia on Tuesday morning, and I'd dressed for the weather. I took off my coat as we went into the bus station, shifting my travel bag from one shoulder to the other.

The woman was bigger than I'd thought at first—close to six feet and heavily broad, the smooth column of her neck rising from her shoulders like a mast from the deck of a ship. Her eyes were a nice golden brown, but they weren't friendly.

"I'm Teresa Hallstedt," she said, giving me a frank once-over. She seemed slightly puzzled.

"Want your money back?"

"No, but you might," she murmured. No pause, like she'd had ready.

Kang guffawed and swatted the Post into my midsection. As a parting gift, I took it away from him without breaking any of his fingers. He and Buford muttered some farewell platitudes, shook hands all around, and beat it. My ears did a little victory dance. The two of them had been yammering nonstop since Knoxville.

The Amazon headed for the door she'd come through, without any more talk. I followed, liking the way she maneuvered herself—plenty of swagger and taking up space like she deserved it; none of the shrinking, minimizing mannerisms that big women so often resort to. For about the millionth time since puberty, I wondered what it felt like to be tall.

Outside, I had to stop momentarily to steady myself. The night sky, no longer hidden by the loading bay roof, blasted into infinity overhead, impossibly vast and ending at a horizon that seemed very far away and too low. A weird lifting sensation, as if I were falling upward. It felt like a stiff wind could come along and blow me straight to Canada.

Excerpted from Nine Days by Minerva Koenig. Copyright © 2014 by Minerva Koenig. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Minotaur. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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