The Game of Life or Death (A Detective Series of Crime and Suspense Thrillers)
Detective Jacob Hayden is back in another heart pounding adventure that takes him on the most turbulent emotional rollercoaster ride of his life.
Detective Jacob Hayden gets the call that the Rule family has been murdered. He’s known them his whole life and is devastated by the news. Upon arriving at the scene, he’s tormented at the sight of their slain bodies and vows to relentlessly hunt for their killers. But when it’s discovered that a thirty year-old videotape may hold the secrets as to why they were executed, Jacob will learn that not everything he knew about this family was real. Even more puzzling, he needs to understand why the Russian mafia will stop at nothing to get their hands on the same videotape.
As Jacob takes to solving the Rules’ murders, he has even more to contend with. The mystery man who has been sending him threatening letters makes his reveal. He goes by the name, The Game, and he wants Jacob to play the game of all games. The game is very simple: the last man standing wins with his life…
Excerpt - Prologue
I had just fallen asleep or thought it felt that way. My bed was cozy and warm. The air conditioner remained at seventy-five because of the humid August night. Henry, my chocolate Labrador Retriever, was lying on the floor at the foot of the bed, sound asleep. The lights were off. The house was peaceful and quiet. My body felt like it was becoming one with the mattress. My mind raced from image to image before it finally slowed enough to allow me to fall asleep. Before I closed my eyes, the clock on the nightstand read 11:33 in bright red numbers.
Then I was woken up.
A voice whispered in my ear, “Try not to scream, Detective.”
My eyes shot open.
I was lying on my back.
My hands were tied to the headboard.
My feet were tied to the footboard.
My mouth was covered with duct tape.
My shoulder screamed with pain.
The room was dark, but there was no mistaking that a person stood over me. I tried to yank my hands free but they were tightly secured.
“Detective,” the voice whispered again, “obviously you didn’t take my letters seriously.”
My pulse quickened and sweat rolled off my forehead. My heart felt like it was going to pound through my chest. I pulled at my hands again, but they wouldn’t budge.
“No use,” the voice said again. “You can’t get free.”
I yanked my legs, but they were tied too tightly. My mind raced. Thoughts darted in and out. How could I get out of this alive? I was tied to a bed with no means to defend myself. I was exposed to whatever brutality this madman had in mind. I yanked my arms and legs harder, but the only thing I was doing was exerting energy. I finally stopped. I was now drenched in sweat and breathing heavily through my nose.
“Are we calm yet?”
The dark figured moved from my bedside toward the bedroom door. I thought for a second that he was leaving, but then the light came on. He stood near the door with his back facing me. He wore a black T-shirt and blue jeans. His shoulders were broad and his back was wide, like that of an amateur bodybuilder. He had long, dark hair that was pulled back in a ponytail. The cop in me tried to see any distinguishing marks or tattoos on his arms, but they were bare. When he turned around, I was startled. He wore a mask that, at first glance, made it appear as though he didn’t have a face. I couldn’t make out what he looked like.
“That’s good, Detective. I can see that you’re already trying to identify me.”
He looked to the floor, bent down, and petted Henry. I moved my head just enough to see that Henry wasn’t moving. That wasn’t like him.
Then he stood up and walked closer to the bed. He leaned over and let the nose of his mask touch my left ear.
“I’m not going to kill you, Detective,” he whispered again. “At least not tonight. But I wanted you to know the seriousness of the game. I wanted you to know that I can reach you anywhere you are. You need to be sharp. I need you to be at your best. That’s the only way the game will work. So keep your eyes and ears open because the next time you see me, you will surely die.”
He then placed his left hand over my face, and seconds later my eyes closed.
Henry’s wet tongue tickled my nose. I opened my eyes to see Henry’s head resting on the edge of the bed. He’s a big dog weighing close to sixty pounds, but he’s still considered a puppy, being only nine months old.
The morning sun was up, flooding the bedroom with light. Henry’s eyes bored into mine, and I knew he was telling me that he needed to go out. I must have overslept. I looked over at the clock and saw that it was nearly ten in the morning. I should have been up hours ago for work. Did I forget to set the alarm? Then I remembered the dream I’d had. It seemed all too real. I sat up and swung my legs off the bed, looking around the room and wondering why my wrists felt sore.