biracial, Chicklit, daughters, diversity, Drama, family, fathers, Fiction, friends, ghosts, Indie Author, manners, mothers, Multicultural, Paranormal, supernatural, women

Danielle’s Halloween

Here’s a fun treat. This is a prequel of sorts to the yet unpublished third book in The Body Hunters series. Call it a Halloween treat! Enjoy!

“I promise honey, this is going to be the best Halloween/Slumber/Birthday party ever.” Danny’s mother, Julianna happily announced as she hung the Happy Birthday banner.

The Labouleaux family’s living room had been set up as party central with everything a six year old little girl could want at their party; every six year old girl except Danielle Labouleaux. Danielle or Danny as she preferred did not understand the need for all the hoopla surrounding her birthday. She’d practically begged her mother not to invite any of girls in Danny’s first grade class other than her two best friends.
“Not it’s not!” Danny protested. “The other girls in my class hate me.”
Julianna beamed a smile down on the daughter who was her spitting image, except for her golden eyes and golden complexion which was inherited from her father. “Honey, they don’t hate you. They just haven’t taken the time to get to know you. That’s what this party is about; getting to know your classmates and making friends.”
“Whatever.” Seeing that her mother still wasn’t listening to her, Danny stalked off in search of the candy she’d been forbidden to eat.
Danny was different, she knew that. First and foremost, she was psychic, able to communicate with ‘ghosties’ as her Grandmere called them. That fact was a secret that only she and Grandmere shared. Her grandmother warned that Danny would become a powerful psychic, because she was chosen to be born on November 1st, or what was called The Day of the Dead. The Day of the Dead was when the veil being the living world and the spirit realm was lifted. On that day, Danny would be a beacon for those ghosts who craved attention and wanted to pester her with their selfish requests. As she got older, the ghosts’ would be more and more demanding for her attention.
Danny also had a stronger connection to the spirit realm than most psychics, even those born on November 1st. Just a few months ago, she underwent emergency surgery to correct a heart defect. While she was on the operating table, the doctors lost Danny for several minutes before they were able to revive her. This phenomenon deepened her connection to the spirit plane.
Unlike the kids at the school whose parents were either both white or both black, Danny’s father was black and her mother was white.  She first noticed that her parents were different during Open House when the school year first started. Though her parents didn’t seem to be aware of it, Danny saw the stares and the whispers from the other parents. She put it in the back of her mind, until the kids in her class started to tease her about her parents, calling her an Oreo.
After punching her classmate Jasmine’s lights out on the playground, Danny went home with the question of why they would call her a cookie. Her father, Marcel Labouleaux lovingly pulled her into his lap as he and her mother told her the fairy tale of how she came into being.
They explained how her mother, the beautiful, violet eyed princess, defied the wishes of her rich family and eloped with the handsome Creole man she’d fallen in love with. Much to the young couple’s delight, Julianna had a bun in the oven. When Danny asked how her mother got the bun in the oven, Marcel quickly changed the subject, recommending that she not get into any more fights.
“It’s getting late, Danny. Go upstairs and put on your costume.” Her mother advised. “Your guests will be arriving soon.”
“But mom!” Danny protested.
“Do what your mom said.” Marcel commanded in his booming voice, just walking in from the market with refreshments for their overnight guests.
Rolling her eyes, Danny made a point of stomping up the stairs as loudly as possible. She’d be glad when this night was over.
The costume she’d picked out was draped across her bed. It’d been a knockdown drag out brawl, but Julianna finally relented and let Danny pick out her own costume.
No frilly pink princess costume for Danielle Labouleaux. She knew that she wanted to be a superhero, but not Wonder Woman or Supergirl like the girls in her class. Danny wanted to be a superhero that looked like her, so she showed her mother of picture of Storm from the X-men cartoon.
Proud of her selection, Danny put the white wig over her dark hair and hopped into the black jumpsuit with the matching cape. Liking what she saw in the mirror, she started hopping on her bed, the black cape billowing around her.
“Danielle! Your guests are starting to arrive!” Julianna called from downstairs.
Exhaling sharply, Danny slowly descended the staircase, meeting the familiar and friendly faces of her friends, Emma and Felicia. Emma was a white girl with dark brown hair pulled into pigtails. Felicia was a black girl with freckles and braids. Emma’s costume was a bloody zombie princess, while Felicia was disguised as a glamour girl, with a tiara and feather boa.
They squealed and giggled like little girls do, frolicking through the house. The three best friends played to their heart’s content, until the five invited girls from their class started to file in with their blankets and sleeping bags. Fresh from an evening of trick or treating, they were still in costume.
Julianna, ever the gracious hostess whether the guest were young or old, had plenty of Halloween treats and activities planned for the girls. The party went well, with Danny’s classmates enthusiastic about the Halloween games. The girls’ nastiness toward Danny was temporarily forgotten as they stuffed their faces, danced to silly songs and competed for Halloween themed prizes.
After the festivities were over, the living room was set up as the girls’ campsite with an assortment of kid friendly Halloween movies playing on the television. The girls changed out of their costumes and into their pajamas.
Tammy, the alpha dog of Danny’s tormentors at school pointed at her as she buttoned the top of her pajamas.
“Look! The Oreo is about to turn into Frankenstein!” Tammy’s horde of flunkies giggled as Danny hastily finished buttoning her top.
The zipper scar that bisected her chest was what remained after Danny’s life saving surgery. Getting teased about it was almost a daily ritual at school. She’d been following her father and Grandmere’s advice about using her words, not her fists, but she was nearing a breaking point.
“Leave me alone!” Danny shouted back.
“Oh, Frankenstein gonna cry.” Tammy mocked, bringing her balled up fists to her eyes. “Wah, wah, wah. Crybaby! Are the Oreo’s tears made of cream filling?”
The other girls laughed at the amateur comedienne.
“I said knock it off!” The infamous Labouleaux temper was ready to break free.
 
“Oreo! Oreo! Oreo!” The girls in Tammy’s clique chanted.
“How about you take your heart out so we can see it, Frankenstein?” Tammy jabbed again with her sharp words and her pointy finger into Danny’s chest.
She pounced on Tammy like a jungle cat. The assault took the bully by surprise as Danny pummeled her from one end of the living room to the other. The pink Barbie play tent Marcel had erected so the girls could pretend they were camping collapsed under the weight of the grappling duo. The other girls screamed trying to get out of the way for fear of being the next victim of Danny’s fury.
Having heard the girls chanting ‘Oreo’, Marcel and Julianna were already on the way to the living room, knowing there was trouble. Expecting to find their daughter outnumbered and in need of a rescue, they were stunned to find her holding her own.
“Take it back.” Danny growled, slapping Tammy’s reddened cheeks.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry I called you an Oreo!” Tammy wailed.
Despite his urging his daughter not to fight, Marcel felt a little fatherly pride that she’d given the bully exactly what she was looking for. He pulled Danny off Tammy and into his arms.
“Enough, Danny, enough.”
“I tried to use my words, but I couldn’t help it.” She sobbed, tears falling on his neck. “They wouldn’t stop calling me names.”
“I know, sweetie, Daddy knows.”
Julianna turned her motherly rage on the five instigators. “Is this how your parents taught you to behave? You come to Danny’s house, eat her food, play her games, and you mistreat her? What kind of spoiled brats are you?”
Danny’s enemies flinched under Julianna’s glare, muttering apologies.
Danny was still clinging to Marcel’s neck. “I’m about to start calling their parents because I’m about one minute from whupping their behinds myself.”
One after another, Marcel called the parents, pulling no punches about their children’s racially charged behavior.  Upon their arrival, some of the parents tried to defend their children’s antics, blaming Danny, but Felicia and Emma were there to provide their eyewitness account of events. The parents then went from defensive to super apologetic.
“You know racism is learned in the home. It’s a shame that kids pick that up from their parents.” Marcel remarked dryly to one mortified mother, who hastily dragged her towheaded daughter out the door.
“So I guess the next thing is to wake up with a cross burning on my lawn.” He matter-of-factly stated to a humiliated couple as they whisked their daughter away.
“Give me that candy!” Marcel snatched a bag of treats from one girl on her way out the door with her shame faced mother.
After the antagonists were gone, Marcel left to take Emma and Felicia home. He’d already called their parents, who expressed concern for Danny. Marcel thanked them for their worries and let them know he’d be dropping the girls off shortly. Before leaving, they gave Danny a supportive hug.
“Are you mad at me, mama?” Danny asked as Julianna tucked her into bed.
“Mad at you? Why would I be mad at you?”
“I ruined the party.”
Julianna sighed, sitting beside her on the bed. “I’m not mad at you. Who I’m mad at are those atrocious little snots and their equally atrocious parents!”
Danny giggled at her mother’s version of harsh language.
“I can never be mad at you, my love. Now go to sleep, sweet dreams.” Julianna kissed her on the forehead.
“That’s horrible.” Cassie cried out as Danny continued her tale.
It was over twenty years after that fateful birthday and the two best friends were sitting across the kitchen table from each other. It felt like a lifetime had passed since then, Danny’s parents and her Grandmere lost to her over the years. The now adult Danny went to the coffeemaker for the carafe and refilled their mugs.
“Dad was pissed. He was so aggravated with the situation that he joined the PTA.”
“Why would he join the PTA? What would that have to do with anything?” Cassie flipped her blond hair over her shoulder.
“He joined the PTA so he could have an excuse to see those girls’ parents every few weeks.” She laughed. “My dad was very ornery and he couldn’t resist an opportunity to make those parents feel even worse.”
Cassie joined in the laughter. “What about Tammy and her goons?”
“I never had problems with bullies after that. They didn’t even cause me any problems in high school, so I guess they learned their lesson.”
“I know I learned mine.” Cassie and Danny weren’t always friends in fact they started off as bitter enemies. Having been the recipient of a Danielle Labouleaux beat down, she didn’t blame the bullies for not bothering her again.
“You know I’m still sorry about that.” Danny said remorsefully.
“I don’t know why. I was acting like a stuck up biotch and I deserved it.” Cassie acknowledged. “I still don’t understand why you don’t want to have a birthday party. So what if you had to beat up Tammy?”
“Like I said my birthday being on The Day of the Dead leaves me vulnerable. After that ruckus during the slumber party, I fell asleep and woke up to dozens of ghosts reaching out to me.”
“Yikes!”
“Exactly. Dealing with my gift is hard sometimes, even as an adult; imagine turning seven years old and having ghosts fighting for your attention. I woke up screaming and luckily Grandmere was there to calm me down. On my birthday, spirits are drawn to my raw emotions, so she taught me a few exercises to keep them at bay.”
“Danny, I’m so sorry your birthday is so traumatic.”
“It’s no big deal. Now you know why I don’t celebrate my birthday. It’s just too much drama and too much of a hassle. So don’t bother planning a birthday party for me. I’ll be just fine.”
“When was the last time you actually celebrated your birthday?” Cassie asked out of curiosity.
Danny shrugged. “It was the year before Grandmere died.”
Cassie was horrified. Danny’s grandmother had been gone for close to ten years.
She watched as her friend dumped the contents of her mug into the sink and left the kitchen. Visions of streamers, balloons, and birthday wishes took root in Cassie’s mind, despite her friend’s protests. She was going to give Danny a birthday extravaganza whether she liked it or not. She just needed a partner in crime and she knew just the man to help her.
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Author, Chicklit, Fiction, indie authors, life lessons, Uncategorized, writing

Accepting Imperfection

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This week I started reading through our debut novel The Body Hunters for the first time in nearly a year. Come to think of it, I just realized this is the anniversary of the day we published it, weird. We’ve been working on a script adapted from our book, so I needed to read through it again and make the necessary changes as far as the adaptation was concerned. In a script, you can’t have  paragraphs explaining what’s going on, that’s something that has to be discussed between characters or otherwise shown in the film. There’s no need for flowery prose in a script, all that has to be streamlined, leaving the skeleton of the story. Though we’ve gotten good reviews and positive feedback from those who’ve read our first book, some of the mistakes we made as first time authors stuck out to me.

With the script it’s been sort of a Body Hunter 2.0. Now with a fresh pair of experienced author’s eyes, I’ve gone in and changed what never should have been, including one reality television subplot that never really went anywhere. In the screenplay, there’s a better introduction to our hero, Aiden Stone and the villain is even more of a monster, if that is at all possible. And like our latest works, the voices of Von and I assimilate into one and you can’t tell where my writing starts and hers begins. Still, looking behind me, I’m tempted to pull a George Lucas and go back and make changes to the first novel to satisfy that egotistical author in me who’s looking for perfection. But I know I can’t do that. If I’m stuck looking back at the past, how can I concentrate on the future?

Every mistake we make with any project, not just our first is an opportunity to grow and learn as writers. Sure being an artist, you want it to be perfect, so you change this word and that, and you spend hours editing trying to get it just right. But sometimes that search for perfection does more harm than good. You stall and procrastinate, obsessing over the littlest thing, moving paragraphs around until you’ve done nothing but made yourself crazy. That is something our editor, Reggie, told us from the start. She forced us to make a deadline and stick with it, which is a policy we still go by nearly four novels and a year later. We’re only human, so we have to accept that we can’t be perfect all the time.

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audience, Author, biracial, black women, Chicklit, diversity, Drama, Fiction, ghosts, Indie Author, Paranormal, Romance, starting anew, supernatural, Uncategorized, women, writing

Starting from Scratch

For nearly a year and a half we have been living in the skin of our characters, Danielle Labouleaux and Aiden Stone, stars of The Body Hunters series. We know these characters and their supporting cast so well, we know how they would react in certain situations and can even complete their sentences. Right now the third book in the series is with our editor Reggie and we’re in the midst of writing the fourth book. After we release the fourth book, tentatively titled The Lazarus Effect, we’re taking a break from Danny and Aiden and starting another series. That’s where the problem lies.

One thing we’ve taken note of from our readers is that even though they love the mystery and paranormal aspects of our series, they love the drama between our characters even more. Therefore, we decided to delve into something that was strictly drama in a real world setting. We can promise that there will be plenty of twists and character conflict. The dilemma lies in creating characters who are not just Xerox copies of the cast from our first series. We’re not going to cut any corners and we’re not taking the easy way out.

Our new protagonist is a biracial young woman and that’s where her similarity to Danny Labouleaux ends. We’re purposely making her an edgier character who would do things to accomplish her goals that Danny would shudder to even consider. It takes a little work to take your brain out of one character and transplant it into another, especially when you’ve been in their mindset for so long. We’ve had a long time to develop Danny and figure out what makes her tick, now it’s time to devote that same love and attention to another protagonist. While Danny and company feel like home, these new characters and scenarios have us in uncharted territory where we are free to start over from scratch.  It may be a daunting task, but it helps us grow as writers.

Now we’re not leaving The Body Hunters permanently, there’s still a lot more stories to tell, as well as a prequel, and the movie script that’s currently in the works. One day I’d love to see Danny and Aiden on the big screen. We’re just taking a little time outside our comfort zone to develop something else and challenge ourselves. If it’s not a challenge is it even worth doing?

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call center, coworkers, finances, life lessons, manners, money, Uncategorized, workplace

The Workplace Cash Grab

For some odd reason, my co-workers always find a way to finagle me out of money. Yesterday was Boss’ Day. The team I’m on works parallel with another team and each team has its own team leader.

“Here they go again.” I mutter under my breath when I get the email, which shows up in the middle of our pay period. The folks on the other team want to collect money to get gifts for the two team leaders. They’ve even made a list of the possible Detroit Tigers ties they want to get for the male team leader, i.e. their team leader. Oh and they’ll get something nice for our female team leader too, treating her almost like a second thought. I know the game they’re playing. The gift they want to get him is expensive, so they think they’ll involve our team to get more money.

Now I don’t have a problem with the team leaders, I like them both and they’re good people. I don’t understand why they feel the need to collect money when passing an appreciation card around will do.  My coworkers ask for money more than PBS.

A month ago, we had finally had our pot luck, which had been delayed probably about five times. Now me, I go to work to work. If I want to bring a snack or something to munch on, I do that. I work a 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. shift, so I don’t like eating anything heavy, otherwise I’ll be sleepy and miserable for the rest of the evening. I’m also funny about pot lucks. Unless you let me come over and inspect and clean your kitchen, I more than likely don’t want to eat your food. I’ve seen too many of my co-workers walk out of the bathroom without washing their hands and how do I know if you don’t have animals at home that walk all over your kitchen counters? Call me a kitchen snob or anti social, but it’s just me. Anyway, I was able to get away with not participating in the pot luck and I thought I’d have a reprieve before I was hassled for money again.

Over the past year several members of my team have lost loved ones, including Von’s father and my grandmother. Our team has the routine of passing the sympathy card around and giving it to the bereaved when they return to work. Now the other team had a member who experienced a death in the family and they wanted to go all out collecting money for flowers and giving the remainder of the funds to their teammate. The members of the other team participated, but most of our team refused. No one collected money for us, so why should we give her money? Not trying to be funny, but the truth is the truth.

Earlier in the week, I got stopped by a couple people on my own team who want to have a Stuff Your Face At Work Day in the next couple weeks. These are the hungriest people I’ve ever met. We just had a pot luck only a few weeks ago. The only difference is that this event will only include our team. Why are we planning yet another meal at work? I don’t come to work to hunt up food and I’m not really interested. I use a stall tactic and say I’ll think about it and I quickly disposed of the emails pertaining to the event. Today I discovered the Stuff Your Face At Work Day falls on my off day, so they can eat all they want and I don’t have to spend a dime. Though I know that the holidays are approaching and they’ll be trying to set up yet another Stuff Your Face Day before the end of the year.

Getting back to Boss’ Day; I ignored the emails concerning the gifts hoping they’ll leave me in peace. Unfortunately they sent one of their bounty hunters out to gather more funds. I know how the game goes; I refused to participate in the pot luck, so she asks me face to face to pour on the pressure. They might as well have sent two mafia wise guys to pay me a visit because it’s the same effect. It’s one of those situations where if you refuse to cooperate, you’ll have that stigma of being antisocial or uppity, not that I care what they think anyway, but I gotta work with these people everyday. Submitting to peer pressure, I say yes, but I won’t have the money til payday.

Now before the money was collected, we got emails with all the details. Today when I come in, there are no mentions of the gifts, or what was even bought for the Team Leaders. Now I’m pissed. You take my money but you can’t send a simple email telling me what I actually paid for? They got what they wanted from me so they don’t need me any more.

Let me set the record straight; in no way am I cheap, I in fact have very expensive tastes. But it’s my money and I like spending it on what I want to spend it on. I don’t like feeling pressured that I have to spend my money on some stupid event at work, just to avoid being ostracized or fitted with the label of ‘doesn’t work well with others’. Yeah, I don’t care what they think about me, but I want to get along with the people I work with. Like everybody else, I’ve got bills and other stuff I’d rather spend my money on. I know one thing: whatever they cook up for the holiday season, if I have to pay for it, they can count me out.

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black women, cultural awareness, cultural understanding, daughters, life lessons, manners, Multicultural, women

Women of Color on Television

I don’t have to have to tell you that there are a multitude of bad stereotypes out there concerning women of color. Those bad stereotypes are only perpetuated by what we see in the media. Just five minutes ago I turned the channel past MTV and there’s somebody’s daughter twerking in a pair of Daisy Dukes for the entertainment of some dread locked rapper with a gold grill. We’re assaulted with those negative images on TV of the Housewives fighting over a man who isn’t worth two dead flies and the ghetto girls in the videos gyrating for fame and a couple dollars. What about the toothless street urchin who can barely string two words together who seems to be a magnet for a local news microphone? Somebody finds these shows entertaining for some reason so they continue on, season after season. To me the bad behavior is cringe inducing and I can’t stand it.

I can honestly say I’ve never considered twerking and never will. I’ve never bitch slapped another woman or been asked to leave a restaurant because I’m getting loud. Getting into a hair pulling and shouting match over some trifling man just isn’t in the cards for me. I’ve never lived in Section 8 housing or used food stamps. None of those images reflect who I am as a black woman and I know I’m not the only one who feels that way. But like in most cases, those who make the most noise get the most attention. So the Hip Hop wives and Video Vixens are thrown into the forefront, even though they don’t represent the majority of us.

That’s why I find some of the new women of color on television to be refreshing. It’s a breath of fresh air seeing Scandal’s Olivia Pope do her thing, even though she is a deeply flawed character. She’s educated and about her business and I’m pretty sure twerking isn’t in her agenda. This fall season we were introduced to Abby Mills the female counterpart to Ichabod Crane in Sleepy Hollow and there’s also Sasha and Michonne from The Walking Dead, who also break the popular mold. Hoping that Hollywood or whoever runs the show is paying attention, I go out of my way to watch these shows. Hopefully they’ll get the point that there is more to us than cat fights and gyrating body parts.

 

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Author, Chicklit, Drama, Fiction, ghosts, Indie Author, Murder, mystery, Paranormal, Romance, supernatural, supernatural, women

Excerpt from The Body Hunters: Paradise Denied-Eric’s Murder

Enjoy a snippet from the second novel in our series The Body Hunters: Paradise Denied. This is the murder of Eric Winston our suspect’s first husband.

Eric Winston expertly trekked soundlessly over the rugged Alaskan terrain of Denali State Park. Mount McKinley, the highest mountain summit in North America, was in the backdrop, its snowy peaks stretching into the early morning sky. With the plush clouds and fluffy snowcaps, the breathtaking skyline looked like it had been painted by the hand of God. Denali State Park’s scenery varied from lushly populated green forests to seemingly untouched icy tundra. Year round frozen glaciers jutted from the landscape like jagged shards of glass feeding into the cool channels and streams. Denali State Park was a nature lover’s paradise.

Opting not to employee a guide like some inexperienced novice, Eric left camp at daybreak to explore the park. Not satisfied with the nature trails that catered to the tourist population of the park, Eric decided to walk on the wild side, literally. The temperature was comfortable, in the mid 60’s, his sweat cooling off his body before it could accumulate. Eric was six foot tall, his body composed of lean muscle mass acquired from his active outdoors lifestyle. A mutinous mop of black hair covered his head and his eyes were the color of flint. His female fans on the blogs called him a heart throb. One zealous devotee even commented that he was a pretty boy, but the tangible type, not one of those Hollywood guys that needed makeup before they left the house. Eric liked the critique very much.

Today he was traveling light, dressed in loose fitting camouflage pants, a black long-sleeved t- shirt that clung to his upper body, and a hunter’s orange hoodie. His lucky, well-worn Timberland boots protected his feet from toothy rocks and the roughened topography. Over his back he lugged a backpack full of health bars, water, his digital camera, batteries, and other necessary equipment, while on his left shoulder was a quiver full of arrows. He held his newly purchased compound bow in his hand, ready for his quarry.

For the better part of the morning he had been tracking a large, bull caribou. Being mid-August, he was just in time for caribou hunting season, and he wasn’t going home empty handed. Eric kneeled, observing the fresh caribou tracks running along the stream. He cursed, having just missed the beast by mere minutes. The creature had stopped to drink from the stream before heading right back into the wilderness. Consulting his compass, Eric noted that the beast was headed east. He had been on the caribou’s trail for awhile and wasn’t going to lose him now.
Shifting the weight of his backpack and quiver on his muscled back, Eric followed the hoof prints. A stark white snow hare darted out of his path. Songbirds anointed him with their serenades as he entered the wooded area. Solid thickets of plant life impeded his travel, low hanging limbs from young spruce trees slapped him in the face, but he would not be deterred. This is the life he loved.

Eric Winston was the Wildman, or so he was called on his internet viral videos. He had started off filming some of his outrageous outdoor adventures and daredevil stunts, and the videos had become so popular he was nearly a household name. Taking advantage of his Harvard Business degree, the twenty-eight-year-old turned his love of the outdoors and extreme sports into a lucrative multimillion dollar enterprise. His was the face that graced bottles of sports drinks, outdoor equipment, and sportswear. His agent was even working out a deal for an MTV reality show. He had literally become his own brand. He was living the American dream.

A year ago he had finally met the woman with whom he wanted to share that dream. Amanda McDuff, or Crystal Rose as she was called during her stripping days, was now his wife. He had first met Mandy when he was out partying in Boston and visited a topless bar with some of his randy friends. As soon as Crystal Rose took the stage, Eric was immediately mesmerized and had to have her. Model tall with coffee brown, shoulder length hair and topaz brown eyes, Crystal Rose seemed to be looking right into his soul. The woman knew how to captivate the room, leaving every male in the bar drooling and ready to leave their wallets and credit cards with her. With her stunningly perfect breasts and even more perfect backside, Crystal Rose was exactly what men’s fantasies were made of. With her first twirl around the pole, Eric was ready to throw her over his shoulder and lock her away in his apartment.

Instead, he waited around for her until the club closed. Sitting on the hood of his Porsche he was biding his time for her. At first she turned him down when he asked her out. But after three consecutive weeks of him showing up at the club on the nights she performed, Mandy finally relented.

Amanda was a Boston Community College Student, a computer programming major, stripping to pay her way through school. When they got engaged, Eric insisted that she give up her college aspirations to help with his career. She’d remained hard headed about the subject, refusing to give up her schooling, but things were about to change.
Two days ago they made it official and finally tied the knot. After a lavish private ceremony, he had spirited them away on a private jet to Alaska. To say that she didn’t appreciate their honeymoon destination was an understatement.

At first she complained that she didn’t want to sleep in a cold tent, let alone spending their wedding night making love on an air bed. After having to rough her up a little, Mandy let him have his way. She woke up complaining about the cold, and he was forced to get her straight again. Now that they were married, he wasn’t going to be putting up with her nagging. She was going to do things his way, or else.

On his way out to hunt, she whined about bears and wolves in the woods, so he decided to leave her with his hunting rifle. The gun was probably too cumbersome for her, but it would stop her bellyaching. Besides, if any wolves or bears came around, she would probably be toast anyway.

Eric tried on a wry smile at the thought of her, the typical city girl, trying to survive an animal attack. He stopped short, spotting his prey in the next clearing. Like a ghost, Eric silently plucked an arrow from his quiver and pulled it back against the bow string, all in one fluid motion. He was envisioning having the caribou’s head mounted on his office mantle as a wedding gift to himself.

A crack of thunder sent the startled caribou back into the woods. It was funny because the weather forecast hadn’t predicted any rain at all. Eric started to look up and realized he couldn’t move, but there was an agonizing pain in his back, like someone had ripped it open with a crowbar. Slowly he touched his fingers to his chest, to find them slick with blood.
There was another crack of thunder and he was face first on the forest floor, slowly slipping out of time and into eternity. The assailant stood over Eric and emptied two more bullets into the back of his skull for good measure. Stepping carefully around the body, the attacker headed back out of the forest.

Eric was dead, steam escaping from his body and dissipating into the cool, morning air. The scent of blood drew carrion crows who began feasting on the body. The crows scattered when a rogue grizzly bear approached. The bear nuzzled the body, before grabbing it by the leg and dragging it to its den.

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