Dawn Hudson: Awakening Series 1
AVILABLE ON JANUARY 31, 2023
C.A. Michaels invites you to the new Dawn Hudson Awakening series in this new exciting debut series novel. You'll get to explore another part of the Starling Police Department. This time featuring Lieutenant Dawn Hudson of the Burglary, Crime, & Property Scene Unit.
Dawn Hudson, Starling PD Lieutenant of the Burglary, Crime, & Property Scene Unit, is a single mom who needs just one lead to find her missing love. Jacob Anthony Malone, her husband, vanished without a trace, four years ago. This left her and her son, Austin, heartbroken, confused, and lost. To make matters worse, those close to them call Jacob a deserter, a traitor. Assigned to a new case, she discovers a foe so big, she only scratches the surface. She may have the lead, but it might cost her something more precious to her than her husband's reputation.
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October 27, 2022, 5:35 am
Billowy, white clouds mixed with some black and brown, moved swiftly across the darkened sky. The sun revealed itself in a white, yellow ball of fire as its warming glow glistened over the lake. As the gleam of the outer yellow continued to rise, the dark brown, almost black sky began to brighten just a bit. However, it seemed much darker this past year than the other years she visited this place. Starling PD Lieutenant Dawn Hudson of the Burglary, Crime, & Property Scene Unit stood on the shoreline of one her favorite spots with the heaviest of hearts.
Even though this was their corny little place of their world, up here at Lakeside Circle was just a favorite past time she shared with the love of her life. Sure, all their friends and family razed them that this wasn’t going up north, but to them, it was. She stood between the mortgage financial building and a rehab center. They were granted permission to use this spot by both businesses as Dawn was somewhat famous in this town.
She didn’t hear the birds chirping as there was one thought on her mind. The frogs creating a rhythm with their gurgles didn’t register either. The flies buzzing around weren’t bothering her like they normally did. Nope, today marked the fourth-year anniversary that stunned her world. And her heart hurt to where she couldn’t even describe how it felt to others. She rubbed the tears from her eyes with her forefinger and thumb.
“Where are you, Jacob? Please, please come home!” she said.
The air up here was a little thicker than normal, it seemed today. Even though she was only five and a half miles from her home. There was a sweet but slight iron aroma that barely tickled her sensitive nose. She noticed the difference though. Was it because of her sadness or was something going down somewhere?
Her mind moved more to the significance of this day. Four years ago, October 27, 2018, her husband vanished without a trace. After countless tries of investigating every lead, she got just led to false hope. There were countless more false hopes from the FBI. Many declared her husband, Jacob Anthony Malone, dead, a deserter, and even a traitor. But he didn’t serve in the military, he was just a regular joe who wanted nothing more than to provide for his family he fought so hard to get. Dawn refused to believe what those people said about him. When they all stopped investigating, she took it upon herself to continue. Not just for her, but for her thirteen-year-old son, Austin.
Her phone rang, it was a private number. She blew a frustrating breath. Still, after all these years they continued to taunt her. She couldn’t stop them. After checking the voice mail, it was the same old line.
“Now you know how it feels, Hudson.”
In that same digital voice, she couldn’t decode. No matter how hard she and her squad worked at it.
As she watched the sun come up, she thought more of her husband out there alone, scared, and wanting nothing more than to come home. After the sun rose, she decided to turn on her police radio. She always carried it with her even though today was a personal day. Her three older sisters always razed her that she could never take a true personal day.
“All officers, we have a 10:31, 10:32, and a 10:35 in progress at the Trailhead entrance of Clinton River Park. All officers please respond!”
Damn, I guess I owe my sister’s fifty bucks. She chuckled to herself.
A 10:31 was a crime or criminal act and that was her specialty. 10:32 meant gun/firearm, and 10:35 was a major crime alert. At a park, she thought. She rubbed her mouth and blew out a few breaths.
She swallowed hard and closed her eyes for a few moments. After pulling herself together, she grabbed the blanket, the tea tumbler cup, and picnic basket, she saw her team rolling right up to her SUV.
“We knew you’d be here.” Marcie smiled.
“Yeah?” Dawn asked. “Why aren’t you guys heading to the scene?”
“Dispatch sent us to find you,” Choo said.
“They sent us to find you before we got the call. Boss, we think it’s him, the Starling Stalker. The one you think might know something about Jacob.”
“Choo knew you’d be here. Plus, there’s no betting against this guy.” Beno laughed.
She laughed too and saw Beno handing Choo a twenty-dollar bill. “Today was supposed to be a personal day, that’s why they couldn’t reach me.”
“Ah,” Beno said.
“I’ll ride with the LT, we’ll meet you there,” Choo instructed.
“You should be sergeant.” Rohan laughed.
“I haven’t earned it yet,” Choo said.
“Let’s roll out!” Dawn said.
“There’s the line, Mrs. Transformers herself.” Sergeant Rohan laughed.
As they sped to the scene, she grabbed her tumbler cup that featured Baby Yoda. She had a few more sips and while attempting to put the cup back in the cup holder, it tumbled over onto her lap.
“Fuck!” she swore. “Holy shit, that’s still fucking hot!”
Choo glared at her choice of words.
“What?” she snickered at him.
He shook his head and sprang into action as he went to the glove compartment and grabbed a bunch of napkins. He tossed them to her and attempted to retrieve the cup from her lap without touching her privates. She loved how respectful and quick he was, but she had to pull over. She pulled over to the shoulder of the road and desperately wiped her pants with the napkins Choo handed her.
“Still not a morning person, I see.” Choo chuckled.
“That’s not true and you know it!” She grinned. “It’s just, well, shit always happens.”
“It frequently does with you.” He laughed.
She glared at him. He grinned at her. Dawn shook her head and chuckled.
Was it that or was it the fact that sleep wasn’t even kind to her. She grinned at that thought once more while wiping the hot liquid from her pants.
“I guess that’s as good it’s going to get,” she said. “What a Saturday already!”
After she finished, her eyes caught sight of the golden eagle charm with its wings spread that was attached to a solid gold rope chain, which hung from her rearview mirror. It was a gift she gave her husband. She gave it a quick kiss and hoped it’d give her better luck than she had already this morning.
“Boss, it’s been four years. I didn’t want to say anything but –”
“Then don’t!” she growled.
“But people are talking. They actually asked me to say something,” Choo said.
“Like what? The same old; move on Dawn. It’s clouding your judgement stuff? Really, I can’t just move on!” she snapped.
“We just care about you, boss. We know it’s hard.”
“You have no idea! How dare you all! I can’t move on until I know what happened to Jacob! Now drop it!”
“I'm sorry, boss.”
As she checked the road again, she pulled back out onto it. They were now only a half mile away from the park.
She pressed a button on the steering wheel to tell the blue tooth to hook to her phone and play It’s Tricky from Run-DMC. She loved all kinds of music, but this, this was the shit right here she thought. Choo rolled his eyes at her.
“Are you serious? What the hell is this?” he asked.
“Run-DMC! My older sis got me hooked on them,” she said.
“Ugh. You have any Kiss or Night Ranger?”
“My car, my music! I’m the boss.”
It was a bright and warm sunny day when they finally arrived at the Trailhead entrance to Clinton River Park. As they climbed out of her police SUV, shots were fired. She ducked and used the door of her car to help protect her. Choo did the same. Thankful for the shoulder mic, she called for extra backup. She also checked on the people in her unit.
“Sergeant Rohan Varma, check in!”
“Detective Beno Henson, Detective Marcie Peters?” Dawn checked.
“We’re good. This guy has us pinned down, boss.”
The gunfire continued all around them. Sweat stung her eyes like she hadn’t had enough sleep, which she didn’t but that was beside the point. Her parched panting tongue collected the dust choked air. As she coughed, she noticed the unusual air was intermixed with iron. The deafening pounding in her ears drummed to a ferocious beat.
The gunfire suddenly changed and was now drawn near her and Choo.
The constant ringing in her ears from the loud bangs of the gunfire made it nearly impossible for her to hear Rohan calling her name over the shoulder mics.
“Lieutenant!?” Rohan screamed once again. “Huds, answer me!”
“I’m good. Just loud over here. Where’s my backup!?”
The bullets sailed through the air all around her. But she realized the person wasn’t aiming to kill her. Why, she questioned? Then her eyes widened. It was indeed the Starling Stalker. She needed him alive. She knew that he had answers for her.
“SWAT is on its way along with Homicide!”
“Thank you, sergeant. Wait, homicide, why them?”
“Not sure, but he seems to be focused solely on you. Want us to move in to take him out?”
“No. We need him alive! He might be the Starling Stalker!”
The shots stopped for a few moments.
“He’s reloading Lieutenant! Get out of there!” Sergeant Rohan said.
Just as Dawn attempted to move from the door, more shots came her way. Damn it. This guy had her pinned.
“Lieutenant, I have Scorpio,” Sergeant Rohan said.
“No! We need him alive!” Dawn stated.
After the second clip emptied in her general direction, SWAT and Homicide arrived.
“Lieutenant, SWAT and Homicide are here!” Sergeant Rohan said.
“Lieutenant, this is SWAT Captain Derek Hannigan, I have the perp in my sights.”
“Don’t take him out! We need him alive!”
With the continuing gunfire surrounding her, Dawn prayed that this was the lead she needed. But at what cost? And in the moments of her thoughts, the deafening silence of the mid-morning took over. She rose from the squatting position and checked across the parking lot to the main trail entrance of Trailhead.
“Officer down! Officer down!”
She heard Homicide Lieutenant Rick Cane scream into his mic. How the hell did that happen? Who was shot? As she saw SWAT heading over to the trail, she saw Derek had the perp in custody. She ran over to where Rick was and the others to help.
“Eric, stay with me buddy. Come on partner, stay with me!” Rick cried.
Dawn bent down to them after pulling a handkerchief from her back pocket. She saw that Eric was bleeding out from his neck where it met the shoulder.
“Here, let me help!” she said.
Dawn held the handkerchief tight to Eric’s neck. Eric Mason was Rick’s partner. They’d been partner’s for four years now.
“Come on Eric!” Rick screamed as he almost choked on newfound tears.
Dawn continued to hold the handkerchief just as the ambulance arrived. But Eric was fading fast. He closed his eyes and choked on blood. She pressed harder on the wound but no matter what she did, Eric never opened eyes as the paramedics rushed over to them.
“Eric!” Rick screamed.
Dawn wiped the tears from her eyes with her fingers.
“Sir, you need to give him to us, sir,” a young female paramedic said.
Rick refused. He glanced over to Dawn who took the handkerchief away from Eric’s neck. The older man growled at her and forced her hand back to Eric’s neck.
“He’s gone, Rick, I’m sorry, but he’s gone,” Dawn said.
“This is your fault! Damn you! Damn you!”
Dawn cringed as Rick’s nails dug into her flesh. Even though he groomed them, they still seemed sharp to her. The two paramedics fought for another full ten minutes to pry Rick’s hand from Dawn’s wrist and Rick finally let go.
They took Eric from him and helped him off the ground. As Dawn turned to Derek, she felt a wind pick up just above her head.
“Look out!” Derek altered her.
She ducked. When she turned around, Rick was about to lunge at her, but Rohan and Choo grabbed Rick’s arms and held him back.
“Let me go! This is her fault!” Rick screamed.
Dawn walked up to him and nodded at the officers to let him go. When Rick lunged at her again, she grabbed him and held onto him.
“I understand what it’s like to lose someone close to you Rick. You want to put blame on everything and everyone else before facing the facts. This wasn’t my fault,” she said.
“You had every chance to take him out! It was your call! You failed lieutenant. I’m reporting your failure!”
He shrugged his shoulders and that freed him from the light grip she had.
“It’s obvious that your missing husband is still clouding your judgement.” He glanced down at her pants and shook his head in disgust. “You show up to a scene like that? Get out of my crime scene!”
She glanced down at her pants and shook her head as well but not in disgust. It was an accident. But she wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of telling him the truth. He was nobody to her really. Not like he was her boss.
“Your crime scene?” she checked.
“It’s mine now. There’s bodies. Three victims just beyond the trail and now my partner! You’re relieved, pending investigation.”
Rick walked away from her. He had to bring up her husband in this. Jacob had nothing to do with this. But did he? His disappearance over the last four years had truly almost ruined her. Was it still playing with her judgement?