TITLE: Tsar Bomb
After the murder of his mentor and dissolution of his family, Preston Wilford gave up catching killers. Now his former boss wants him back in the field--and so does Hope, a ghost who may be one of the victims. Preston goes back to work, but when he falls for Hope, he fears catching his killer might mean losing another loved one.
Preston reached for his toes and tried to ignore the pain in his back. He stood and pulled his right foot up toward his bottom, squeezing his white running shoe in one hand. The bulge of his belly peeked out beneath his tee-shirt, and Preston looked to make sure he was alone. He stretched the other leg, shook them both, and then bounced on his feet.
The day was going to be a scorcher, just like yesterday and the day before. The morning air still smelled like rain, though the sun had burned away the clouds and now pressed his skin like a hot iron. The street was a fresh asphalt ribbon. Preston lurched forward into a run.
His back flared immediately. Ignore it, he thought. The doctors said you can do this. His stomach was next to complain, and it was more persuasive, sending up a warning shot of morning coffee and stale beer. He'd run through hangovers. Once upon a time, he'd run through anything. But that was before.
He told himself to stop thinking, that it hadn't been that long ago. A stitch settled in his left side like a dagger. His calves were tight as fists. He hadn't made it three blocks yet.
Then again, how could anyone tell? There weren't actual blocks in Florida, just street and trees and grass—and the canal, of course. Preston wondered if there were alligators that morning, and whether an alligator would eat a jogger.