Don't Cry

Acknowledgments

I owe a special debt of gratitude to Lt. Tim Carroll, Commander Major Crimes Division, Chattanooga Police Department, for his invaluable assistance.

In an effort to help me get my facts straight, Tim answered numerous questions and gave me an officer’s view of police work and of the brave men and women who risk their lives on a daily basis to protect the citizens of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Any errors are entirely mine, either because I assumed I knew something that I didn’t or because I didn’t ask the right questions.

In several instances, I used a writer’s prerogative to alter minor facts, but it is my hope that I have written a realistic fictional novel.

Contents

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Dear Reader

Prologue

Thirty years ago

The Humpty-Dumpty night-light cast a soft, honey-white glow over the nursery, from the 5' x 7' Mother Goose rug on the wooden floor to the fluffy clouds painted on the ceiling. A large Raggedy Andy doll, with a mop of red hair and a perpetual smile, sat atop a brightly decorated toy box in the corner. Billowy blue and white gingham curtains covered the double windows that overlooked the backyard, and a matching gingham quilt, neatly folded, lay at the foot of the baby bed in the center of the small room.

Humming quietly, Regina Bennett sat in the white spindle rocking chair, her precious little Cody asleep in her arms. Even in sleep, he still clutched his favorite toy, a little yellow teddy bear. Earlier that evening, he had been terribly fussy, crying incessantly, the sound of his pitiful gulping sobs breaking her heart. But after she had given him his medication, he had gradually quieted and gone to sleep.

But for how long? An hour? Two hours? The medication’s effects seemed to wear off more quickly with each passing day. Eventually, the medication wouldn’t ease his pain.

She brushed aside his damp blond curls, leaned down, and kissed his warm forehead. Before the chemotherapy treatments, his hair had been thick and shiny, but the new growth was thin and dull. “You won’t suffer anymore, my precious darling. Mommy promises.”

Rocking back and forth, she cuddled Cody protectively against her breast. Still humming “Hush Little Baby,” an old Southern lullaby, Regina slid her hand down to the side of the rocker and grasped the small pillow she had placed there earlier that evening.

“Mommy loves her little boy. Mommy’s going to do what’s best for you.”

Regina lifted the pillow off the floor.

Rocking.

Humming.

Smiling sadly.

Tears misting her eyes.

Singing softly.

“Hush, little baby, don’t you cry.”

Regina laid the handmade pillow over her son’s nose and mouth. Tears seeped from the corners of her eyes and cascaded down either side of her face. She pressed her hand in the center of the pillow and held it in place until she was certain Cody was at peace. She lifted the pillow, tossed it aside, and looked at her tiny two-year-old son.

No more pain. No more suffering.

Chapter 1

J.D. Cass listened to his breakfast date’s end of the telephone conversation and knew it was bad news. In his profession, bad news was the norm, as it was in Holly’s, so he wasn’t surprised. When a guy was dating an assistant district attorney, even in an on-again/off-again relationship, he became accustomed to their dates being interrupted by business. Of course, it worked both ways. How many times had one of Holly’s meticulously planned romantic evenings ended abruptly when he’d gotten