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The Elephant Bowl (A Detective August Miller Series) Short Stories

The new Detective August Miller series includes three suspenseful short stories with gripping twists and unexpected outcomes.

The Elephant Bowl, Detective August Miller finds herself in a heart stopping moment from an investigation that was closed over a decade ago.

The Endearment Diary, A hidden diary helps Detective Miller unravel the mystery of a missing teenager who disappeared years earlier.

Between the Trees, A psychopath with a taste for young women tries his best to taunt Detective Miller.

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Excerpt - Chapter 1


January 7, 2016




The first time I met Shelton Sewell in 2004, he was handcuffed to a table in one of our interrogation rooms. When he spoke, his voice was soft and tepid, and he was polite, calling me ‘ma’am’ after every question I asked. His answers seemed relatively forthright, with none of the signs of deception that so many others had shown in his position – perfect behavior, especially considering it was the first case to which I’d been assigned as a detective. Before that, I’d worn a uniform like every other cop fresh out of the academy. But I didn’t wear it for long. Three years into my career, I applied for the detective position and was accepted. The process was rigorous and seemed to take an eternity, but in the end I became the youngest woman to earn a detective’s badge in Montgomery County, Maryland. The Shelton Sewell case was my congratulations, awarded by my supervising detective.

Twelve years ago, now, but I remember meeting him like it was yesterday. We were similar in age and demographics, and I’d even heard of him before. He’d gone to Sherwood High School, a rival to my own high school, and had been the star linebacker for their football team. His name used to float from school to school, and paper to paper, as he was touted as the next star athlete to come from our area. Despite all that, I didn’t hear his name again until he became my prime suspect. His interrogation didn’t last long; he admitted his crimes quickly. When we were done, I asked him to stand and told him that he was being charged with the murder of Payton Wells. He nodded and looked down at the floor. His arrest was over a decade ago, and I hadn’t seen him since his conviction, but here I was about to see him again.

I sat with a dozen or so people, and light chatter bubbled around the small room. That stopped abruptly when two guards opened the door to the chamber and Shelton Sewell quietly walked in. He was smaller than I remembered; almost like he’d lost a part of himself over the past twelve years. The guards stopped him in front of a gurney, and he was visibly shaking. His head hung low, and it took him nearly thirty seconds to look up through the glass wall that divided us. Over the years since we’d last met, I’d grown as a detective and learned to harden my emotions, but knowing that Shelton wasn’t going to leave the chamber alive tugged at my heart a little.

Shelton’s eyes searched the room, and when he saw Payton Wells’ husband and daughter, his hands came together in prayer, and he nodded to them and mouthed, “I’m sorry.” At that gesture, Payton’s daughter began to sob. Her father placed his arm around her shoulders and kissed her forehead.

The guards motioned for Shelton to lie on the gurney. My heart began to flutter, my palms became moist and I had to take deep breaths to slow down the anxiety that was washing over me. The guards strapped Shelton’s arms and legs to the gurney, and as they did, a priest read a verse from the Bible. The doctor in the room said something to Shelton and he nodded. A few seconds later, he inserted the first needle into Shelton’s left arm. Shelton Sewell’s case was the only death-sentence case I’d been part of, but I knew that the state of Maryland administered three drugs to end an inmate’s life. This was the first; a sedative that the doctor slowly pushed in. Shelton’s eyes began to close. The second was pancuronium bromide, which induced paralysis, and the third was potassium chloride, which stopped the heart. Shelton coughed a couple of times and then his stomach stopped rising. The doctor looked at the clock and pronounced Shelton Sewell dead at 12:15 a.m.

The room remained quiet for a few seconds. I guessed that even though Shelton had been convicted of premeditated murder, there was a sense of respect for death. A minute later, murmurs started and people began to stand. I walked over to Payton Wells’ husband and shook his hand. He nodded and thanked me. I turned to her daughter, her eyes still red from the tears that stained her face.

“Thank you, Detective Miller,” she said softly.

“Please, call me August. And it was all I could do for your mother.”

We embraced for a moment and she squeezed me tighter than I’d expected.

“Thank you, August.”

“It’s finally over, now.”

“After all these years, it still hurts,” she said, her voice cracking, and I felt warm tears against my neck.


I looked through the glass as the guards pulled a sheet over Shelton’s lifeless body. I had to blink a few times as my eyes started to moisten. As I slowly pulled back from our embrace, I reached into my pocket and handed her my card.

“Call me anytime, day or night. Even if you just want to cry on the phone. I’ll be there.”

She nodded and turned towards her father. I took in a deep breath and canvased the room before I left. People hugged and shook hands with each other. That was the first time I’d seen a death sentence fulfilled, and I hoped it would be the last.