audience, Author, biracial, Chicklit, Drama, Fiction, Indie Author, writing

Build Your Mythology

Readers, myself included don’t like cookie cutter, cardboard cutouts as characters.  If a character is boring or not dysfunctional enough, I’m putting the book down.

As a writer I learned that the more layers a character has, the better your audience receives the character. That character’s bio doesn’t have to be explained in detail in the book, but it may be something you want to keep in the back of you head as you’re writing.

What’s their favorite food? What are their hobbies? What was their relationship with their parents? Do they have tattoos? Did they serve in the military? What type of movies do they like? Who’s their best friend? Where did they grow up? Do they have money? If so how much?

The answers to all those questions and everything else you can dream up for your character will influence every challenge they have to face, just like what you faced in the past affects who you are today.

For example, our main character in The Body Hunters, Danielle Labouleaux or Danny as she prefers to be called is biracial and grew up in New Orleans where she had a somewhat antagonistic relationship with her parents in her teens and early twenties. She was bullied as a child, not only for being biracial and also for a zipper scar that bisects her chest from heart surgery when she was six. She has a penchant for hot rods, especially her candy apple red Camaro, named Lucille. She loves to cook, which she learned from her Grandmere and she hangs on to friends for dear life because they were few and far between during her childhood. She also has a thing for buff, tattooed bad boys, who are really diamonds in the rough.

This is how we started our main characters and as Danielle’s story progressed, we added layers and layers of back story, fleshing her out as a character. Before long we knew what she’d say and how she’d react in any given situation.

The same technique can be used for the universe your characters exist in. It’s your universe, you make it up and mold it any way you want to.

Is it post apocalyptic? If so how did it get that way? Who’s the President? Is this the future? What happened twenty years ago?

The more believable your story and character are, the more invested your readers become in your story.

 

 

 

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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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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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Author, biracial, Chicklit, Drama, family, Fiction, ghosts, indie authors, Murder, mystery, Paranormal, Romance, supernatural, supernatural, women, writing

Excerpt from The Body Hunters: Paradise Denied-Meeting with the Cartwright’s

Here’s an excerpt from Book 2 in our series, The Body Hunters: Paradise Denied. In this snippet, our psychic detectives Aiden and Danielle meet with the grieving family of Jason Cartwright. Enjoy!

The JTC Technology Corporation campus occupied several hundred acres of San Jose real estate. The driver dropped Aiden and Danny off in front of the company’s headquarters. For a few seconds they stood gaping at the sharp inclines and daring angles of the building’s structural design which looked like some futuristic spacecraft from a science fiction movie. Security officers awaited them as they stepped into the expansive five-story complex. After signing the two of them in, giving them guest badges, and taking Danny’s laptop out of her messenger bag and giving it a once over before giving it back to her, they were allowed to pass into the lobby.

Stepping into the headquarters was like entering a time machine into the future. The building’s interior consisted of polished chrome, black marble and mirrored glass. Twin, glass enclosed elevators were located in the middle of the first floor, while a staircase that looked more like a glass art sculpture offered access to all levels of the building. The sun was nearly blinding, reflecting off the polished tile floor of the lobby. Since it was around lunch time, the atrium was hectic with activity. Mixed among the mundane sea of neutral office attire were what Danny assumed were the more relaxed creative geniuses in their brightly-colored classic cartoon and superhero T-shirts.

A man, no older than thirty of Asian descent was standing in the lobby near a large bronze sculpture of a hand holding a globe. His thin body was pretty much built like a stick figure, his polo shirt and khakis a couple sizes too large, hanging off his lanky frame. The smile he greeted Danny and Aiden with was as inviting as a bathtub full of ice cubes.

“I’m Carter Wu, lead software developer for JTC Technology. Welcome.” He said boringly as if they were stopping him from doing more important work. “If you come with me, I’ll give you a tour of the facility.”

“I thought we were supposed to meet with the Cartwright’s?” Aiden spoke up as they started to follow.

Carter sighed and rolled his eyes, his tone of voice condescending. “Unfortunately, their board meeting is running a little late. By the time our tour is over they should be ready for you.”
Carter didn’t sound very enthused to be doing what some would consider babysitting. With as much heart as an automaton, he gave them the abridged history of JTC Technology.
The company started in Boston, where Jason Cartwright a technological prodigy, was attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or MIT at the age of fifteen. He had programmed his first computer operating system at the age of sixteen. That same year, with his parents insistence he had started JTC Technology out of the family’s garage.

Eight years later JTC was a highly successful Fortune 500 company. Though they were successful in the private sector with their computer programs and consumer gadgets, the bulk of the company’s profits came from their contracts with the United States Defense Department. JTC did everything from create simulators where military recruits could enact crucial combat situations to supply electronics military personnel used on the battlefield.

They were given a full tour of the grounds, which included the Research and Development building located east of the main complex and the programming wing where computer programs were born. With the tour completed, Carter took them to the fifth floor of the headquarters where the board meeting was just ending. Sullen-faced board members were filing out as they approached

“Your guests, sir.” Carter snidely announced to Tim Cartwright, CEO and the victim’s father. “Would you be requiring anything else?”

Tim seemed to narrow his eyes on Carter as if silently reprimanding him and his unpleasant attitude. “It’s alright, Carter, we can take it from here.”

Dismissing the software developer,Tim took Danny’s hand in his own and kissed it. Aiden glared. He didn’t approve at all! Jealousy reared its head in him, and all he could do was to keep glowering at the man. Tim Cartwright failed to notice.

Tim smiled widely showing off a set of teeth worthy of a tooth paste commercial. He was rakishly handsome, the type of man who only looked better with age. He was a few inches shorter than Aiden. His height and wide-shouldered build hinted at a previous athletic career, evident in his stance and the graceful way he moved. His dark hair was surrendering to gray with strands of silver mixed throughout.

He led them into the conference room where Barbara, or Barbie as she liked to be called, was waiting. She and Tim looked to have coordinated their attire, both of them dressed in black power suits. With the shake-up at the company and with their son the brainchild missing and presumed dead, Danny assumed they were trying to keep up a united front for the stockholders.
“Thank you so much for coming.” Barbie welcomed them, offering them a seat at the oblong mahogany table. She took a seat at the table’s head with Tim to her right. Introductions were made all around with the Cartwright’s insisting on being addressed by their first names. Danny and Aiden also offered their condolences.

“Do you have a picture of Jason?” Danny asked.

Reaching into his jacket pocket, Tim produced a picture of his son and slid it across the table to Danny. Jason smiled back in the photo which apparently was taken on his graduation day from MIT since he was wearing his cap and gown. He was a good looking kid, a scrawny carbon copy of his father.

“Is it OK if I keep it?” She asked.

“Of course you can.” Barbie said with a nod.

“We really hope you can help us.” Tim’s jovial expression had softened, his hands clasped in front of him. He looked to be on the verge of tears, worry lines creasing his brow.

“We’ll try our best, Tim.” Danny sincerely offered.

“You two come highly recommended. What is your experience with cases such as this?” Barbie asked.

“Well I worked with both the New Orleans and the New York Police Department along with my brief experience with the FBI as a consultant. I also worked as a contractor with the Federal Government solving cold cases.” Danny said, offering her references.

“I served with the Marines for three tours in Afghanistan. After that I worked with the FBI for two years in their Criminal Investigation Division.” Aiden informed them.

“You were the one with Cassie when she was kidnapped by Gerard right? Weren’t you his fiancée?” Barbie asked Danny. Upon hearing Gerard’s name, she took a deep breath to answer, but Aiden spoke up before she could get a word out.

“Yes, she was, and I was the agent that rescued them.”

“Well then it looks like we’re in good hands.” Tim observed, nodding to his wife. “Hopefully you can help us track down that woman our son was fool enough to marry.”

Danny looked confused. “I thought we were also trying to locate your son? He’s still missing isn’t he?”

Frowning, Barbie waved her hand indifferently. “At this point it’s more of a recovery operation than a rescue. The authorities were only able to recover two bodies from the yacht’s wreckage. They say we may never find Jason’s body.”

“You try to protect your kids, but sometimes they just won’t listen.” Tim hid his reddened eyes with the palm of his hand and started bawling. Supportively, his wife clenched his other hand.
Vengeance blazed in Barbie’s eyes. “Whatever it costs to find that murderous bitch, we’ll pay it. We’ll give you access to our private jet, and we’ll provide you a company credit card to cover any expenses you may incur. Whatever you need, name it and it will be provided to you.”

Danny and Aiden considered the offer to be quite generous, and they were able to come to agreeable terms with the Cartwright’s as far as their fee for their investigative services.
Curiosity got the best of Barbie. “Tell me, you two are working together, but are you lovers as well?”

Danny gave a sharp intake of air, the sound similar to someone suddenly letting the air out of a balloon. “What?”

Aiden stepped in for her, his tone stern and reproachful. “With all due respect, whatever our relationship is, it’s between us. Danielle and I have worked well together in the past, and it will in no way affect how we work on finding your daughter-in-law.” Just because they were rich and paying for their services didn’t give them the right to pry into their personal lives.

Barbie apologized profusely. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to offend or be so forward. Since that business with Gerard and hearing that you were her rescuer, well there just seems to be a certain kind of chemistry between the two of you.”

“Please don’t mention that monster’s name again. It’s over and in the past now.” Aiden said.

“Please accept our apologies. I can see that would be a very horrible memory. We didn’t mean any harm, right honey?” Barbie nodded in agreement with Tim’s statement.

“Apology accepted, Now if we can get down to business let’s just focus on finding your daughter-in-law.” Danny changed the subject and opened her laptop ready to take notes. “What can you tell me about her?”

“She’s a gold digging, white trash bitch. How’s that for a start?” Barbie spat venomously.

“Ah OK, let’s start with where did she and Jason meet?” Aiden clarified the questioning.

Barbie turned to Tim, and he shrugged. “I think they met when she was still married to Jason’s friend. What was his name?” Tim snapped his fingers repeatedly as if it would help him remember. “What was his name…Winston? Eric Winston. I know for a fact Eric met her at a strip club where she was performing.”

Danny and Aiden exchanged a look. They weren’t privy to that particular nugget of information.

“She was a stripper?” Aiden asked.

Tim nodded grimly.

“She killed him, you know. Shot that poor boy to death and left him in the woods. The animals had devoured him before his body was found.” Barbie informed them, snatching a handful of tissue from a nearby box and blowing her nose. “My poor son. We don’t even have a body to bury. I swear she’s going to pay for what she did.”

“I’m so sorry for your loss.” Danny offered, patting Barbie’s hand.

Barbie sniffled and dabbed at her eyes. “It’s OK darling.”

Tim had since composed himself. “She killed the Winston kid on their honeymoon. Good kid that he was. Jason felt sorry for her and offered to pay for Amanda’s legal defense. The prosecutors didn’t have enough to bring her to trial so they dropped the case. Next thing I know Jason is hanging around with this girl, and last week we find out they’ve eloped.”

“Eric didn’t put her in the will as his beneficiary so his family contested her inheriting his millions. She didn’t follow through with the legal battle because she got her hooks in another rich victim; my son.” Barbie said.

“I think the wise thing to do is start where it all began and track her from there.” Danny said to Aiden. “It’s only been a few days. She hasn’t gone that far.”

He nodded, turning to the Cartwright’s. “You said they eloped to Hawaii?”

“Yes. They were secretly married two days before the boat explosion.” Tim said.

“Jason and the girl used our private villa in Hawaii before the explosion. The police weren’t able to find any leads there and have given it the all clear. You two are welcome to use it. I’ll have it prepared for your arrival.” Barbie said, taking her smart phone and rapidly sending a text message.

“That’s fine. It may take a day or two, though” Aiden agreed. “We need to get back to Georgia, touch base with our government contacts and go from there.

After another twenty-five minutes of ironing out the details and arrangements, both of them caught the waiting Town car back to the hotel.

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Author, biracial, Chicklit, diversity, Fiction, Indie Author, Multicultural, Paranormal, women

Constructing Danielle Labouleaux

When we started writing The Body Hunters we wanted to create a believable heroine and one you could easily imagine as your best friend.  Out the window went the whiny damsel in distress archetype, who can’t think without a male present or the weak female being dominated and controlled by the male ‘hero’.  Our girl is strong, confident, and smart.  She can ask for help, but she can definitely handle things on her own if need be.

When we conjured her up within the depths of our imaginations, we kept in mind those butt kicking females from movies and literature.  Danielle or Danny has a gift, the ability to communicate with the dead, which she uses to help people who’ve been wronged. She’s independent, feisty, and doesn’t dumb herself down to fit in with the crowd or current trends.  She’s also got somewhat of a rebellious streak and likes to do her own thing regardless of what anyone has to say on the matter.

Along with those good traits, Danny is deeply flawed and she doesn’t always make the best decisions. The girl has issues to say the least and she’s far from perfect.  She’s scarred both on the outside and on the inside, like a lot of real people. She’s biracial, white and Haitian-Creole, which couldn’t have been easy growing up in New Orleans and it’s something that we’ll touch on in the third book of our series.

As our series has progressed, we started to pull back the layers to reveal why she behaves the way she does.  I don’t see her dysfunctional qualities as imperfections, but something that makes this character all the more human and believable.  She’s a fun character to write, so hopefully you’ll enjoy her as much as we do.

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biracial, Chicklit, daughters, Drama, family, fathers, Fiction, Indie Author, relationships, Romance, women

Visions of the Past: A Body Hunters Prequel

The Body Hunters by Raven Newcastle http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009X971ME/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_N6xQrb13R6TGQ …

 

The Body Hunters: Paradise Denied by Raven Newcastle http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CODG81Q/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_r7xQrb0RWBN1N … … the fun continues in the sequel.

Marcel Labouleaux leaned back in his office chair, putting his hurting feet up on his desk in his New Orleans FBI office. It was late in the evening but he wasn’t working; he was however contemplating his next move. His feet were still smarting from the punishing kicks he gave to the custom chopper that belonged to his young partner Lucian Tepes. His knuckles were bloody and swollen from using Lucian as a punching bag.

 Lucian’s crime was being caught with Marcel’s only daughter the morning after she slept over, giving her virginity to him. She had just barely turned twenty and even though technically old enough to make her own decisions, Marcel was blindsided by the relationship. He felt betrayed by the FBI partner he treated like a son, feeling he took advantage of his daughter’s innocence with men. 

He was also not ready to admit that his headstrong daughter was no longer a little girl he could protect. Not that Danielle needed protection; she could kick the ass of any boy who tried to take advantage of her, as her prom date from high school found out. Danny, as she called herself much to her mother’s dismay, had been a teenage terror, defying her parents and especially her mother at every move. Her tantrums and outburst were met with his stern discipline usually to no avail. She was going to do what she wanted, when she wanted and now apparently with whom she wanted.

Marcel had dreaded this day for a long time. He wasn’t ignorant to the fact it would happen, he‘d just hoped he’d been long dead or she at least married first. An old fashioned idea he knew and he also realized when it came to Danielle he was wishing too much. He just couldn’t figure out what she saw in the dark haired white boy with the slight European accent and dangerous bike.  He smacked his hand to his head realizing he’d just answered his own stupid question. 

 Marcel rubbed his short cropped graying hair feeling the bald spot he figured would turn into a horseshoe in a couple of years. Groaning at the thought he closed his eyes and smiled reliving the image of beating the young man on the ground watching him bleed from his cut lip, that pleasant memory over with his mind wandered back to his daughter.

 She was in college taking police courses claiming she wanted to be FBI just like dad. Marcel didn’t take it seriously, knowing she was just doing it to give her mother yet another reason to fret over her choices. She seemed to take great pleasure in torturing her mother on a regular basis. 

An image of his beloved Julianna came into his mind. Danny definitely was her mother’s daughter. Her long black hair and high cheek bones were features that made both of them knock out beauties. Danny was a caramel brown copy of her. The only other distinguishing characteristic she carried from Marcel was golden brown eyes which were a family trait they shared with his mother. Like his mother Marie, Danielle’s dancing eyes could turn into dangerous daggers in a heartbeat. 

The debutante balls and finishing school Julianna had enrolled her in drew Danny’s ire toward her mother. The battle of wills and wits between the two was enough to make him want to drink. The slamming of doors and the I hate you’s that spewed from Danny’s pretty mouth on almost a daily basis from the time she was fourteen to eighteen grayed him quicker than anything else.

 Then there was the talking to the dead thing. Danny tried to explain it to him that she was psychic like his mother Marie. Danny was very close to her grandmere and her influence on her was calming, but this ghost business was too much. He’d scolded his mother for putting those nonsensical ideas into her head. He believed in what he could see and touch only and had no time for ‘I see dead people’ craziness.

Julianna followed his lead on the subject much like she deferred to him in most things which pleasantly surprised him considering her temperament and upbringing. Julianna Benoit Labouleaux had come from the bluest blood in all of New Orleans and desperately wanted to impart some of her southern belle manners and gentility into her daughter. He never argued about her attempts in fact he secretly wished Danny was a little more refined and not a carrier of the trademarked Labouleaux temper.

His mind wandered now of the pleasant memory of his wife. The headstrong southern belle he fell hard for. She could charm and cut you all at the same time with her smile. He allowed his thoughts to float to a special time and place he knew they would be devoted to each other forever.

 The evening soirée was the highlight of the social season. Everyone who was anyone in the Parish was in attendance, private invitation only. The light orchestral music floated in the late January night from the stage set around potted pink and purple orchids.  Tuxedoed waiters greeted the throngs of guests arriving to take their seats amongst the white linen tables. The silverware was real and the goblets were made of the purest crystal. No expense was spared for the twentieth anniversary dinner of Jeannette and Louis Benoit at their exclusive and not so inclusive country club. The demanded attire for the evening was evening gowns and tops and tails. Rounding the club’s circular driveway was the white horse drawn carriage that held the guests of honor. They made their grand entrance to the polite applause of the standing guests as they took their seats at the head table. Missing was their nineteen year old daughter Julianna, who snuck away while pretending to get dressed for the affair. Julianna had a special surprise for her parents, who to her were more acquaintances than parents having been brought up and taught more about life by nannies and the house staff.

Julianna planned to bring a special date, her newly minted husband she secretly eloped with just the day before. The young, handsome man with the dangerous grin that made her melt into a puddle every time she saw him waited for her outside her window nervously twisting his hands. This was going to get ugly, Marcel Labouleaux mused. He was not a blue blood, he had no money, and most of all he was black. That fact alone, he had warned her before they took their vows, would get her disowned by her family. She didn’t care, he was all she could think or care about, that and their precious baby growing inside of her.

He placed his hands on her hips to steady her as she descended the ladder. He hoped they were undetected by the house staff that was under strict orders to report her whereabouts immediately, especially if she was seen in the company of him. He turned her around and gave her a quick kiss. “Are you sure you want to do this tonight?”

She gazed lovingly at him. “No time like the present.” She smiled that charming but dangerous smile. He knew there was no talking her out of it.

They quickly snuck off the grounds and into Lucille, his 1970 cherry red Camaro, the only thing of value Marcel owned and the second love of his life. Peeling away down the tree lined street with the throaty engine roaring, he watched her being carefree, almost giddy as she sang along to Ray Parker Jr.’s  Ghostbusters .

The crowd parted as Julianna stormed past the Maître de with Marcel in tow after being told only she could enter the country club.  Flutes of champagne and food trays were overturned as she pushed the unfortunate waitstaff out of her way. The club’s elder trustees tried to stop her march toward the dining area where her mother and father were now alerted to their daughter’s presence.

“We’ve contacted the police Mr. Benoit.” The silver haired club trustee advised to an astonished Louis.

“Yes Daddy, please have us arrested! I’d love nothing more than to spend my honeymoon in jail!” Julianna spat out as the crowd gasped surrounding the young couple.

Marcel tried to match his new wife’s resolve standing tall wrapping a protective arm around her.

“Honeymoon?  You better not be telling me you married…him!” he pointed his finger at Marcel. Jeannette feigned a swoon.

“Oh mother really! And yes daddy! I believe you know your new son in law!”

He did indeed know his new son in law; Louis Benoit had hired him as a porter few months back for a car dealership he owned. It was there in Louis’s office that Marcel first laid eyes on the young temperamental Julianna, filing papers, falling head over heels for her. He was fired and threatened with great bodily harm by Louis after being discovered making out with his daughter in the back of his Camaro. No daughter of his was going to date let alone give herself over to a black boy he told her as he grounded her for the umpteenth time.

“Julianna we’ve had enough of your foolishness, you’ve made your point now please come here!” Jeannette reached for her daughter’s arm having made a miraculous recovery from her sudden case of the vapors. “And you young man had better leave before the police arrive.”

“Get your hands off me mother, this is for real we are married and you’d better get used to it!” Julianna yelled swatting her mother’s hand away.

Marcel upon hearing the sirens closing in, prayed for a miracle as images of police batons across his head tortured him. “Honey maybe we should go now.”

Louis snarled back. “Yes Julianna maybe you had better listen to your husband and leave, but know this, as long as you are with him, you do not come back home!”

“You want me to leave just like your other family daddy? How are your sons doing daddy!  You know the twins? I hear you’re sending them to a boarding school in Spain. They should fit in perfectly with their brown skin!” Julianna’s trademarked smile betrayed to her father she knew much more about his secret love affair than she was even disclosing now. She was playing a dangerous game of chicken with him.

“I…I don’t know what you are talking about! Stop making up lies Julianna!” Was all he could stammer. His own eyes showed his guilt as Jeannette slapped him across the face.

“So it is true!” Jeannette cried as she fell back into her chair. “You’ve been lying me all these years! Those are your sons with Vivian, how could you?”  Jeannette pushed him away as he tried to reach out to her.

Satisfied that her father had enough trouble on his hands at exposing his scandal, Julianna turned on her heel and led her husband out the front door and dared the patrolman to stop her.

Marcel took a deep breath as he drove Lucille away from the pretentiousness of the club. “Um…Honey? Is it true? About your dad I mean.”

Julianna answered him in her best southern drawl. “Yes darling it is. I do declare daddy was diddling the cook. She threatened to expose their illicit affair to mother if he didn’t pay her off. He got her another position after she had my half brothers and I’m sure out of guilt he’s agreed to take care of them financially.”

Marcel was stunned. “How long ago was this?”

“They are ten now I think. I’ve only seen them once at a park with Vivian. I confronted her a few years back after I found some pictures of them with daddy in his desk drawer. She said he barely acknowledged them but has consistently paid for their education, keeping this fact away from mother of course.” Julianna curled into Marcel’s arm as the headlights from oncoming vehicles passed them in what seemed like to Marcel slow motion.

“Girl that is some crazy shit!” Marcel laughed as he turned down the street leading to his mother’s restaurant. “Mama will be waiting for us, she’s probably been by the phone the whole time worrying we’re in jail or worse. You don’t mind living with her for a while, do you?”

Julianna squeezed his thigh. “Anywhere with you baby!”

“Back at ya baby but you keep squeezing me like that we’re never going to make it past the back seat.”

Julianna laughed. “That back seat is what got us in this situation in the first place.” She patted her belly laughing. “Do you think we’ll tell Danielle about it someday?”

“Daniel you mean! It’s a boy I can just feel it.” Marcel grinned. “I plan on giving this car to him when he’s old enough to take care of it so maybe we keep that information of where he was conceived to ourselves.” Marcel grinned. 

Julianna sang along under her breath to Prince’s The Beautiful Ones. Marcel didn’t know what the future held for them but he knew it would always include her by his side.

 Marcel awoke at two am practically falling out of his office chair. The yellow street light illuminating a rain soaked lonely street outside. He heard the whir of a vacuum cleaner in the next office. The cleaning staff must have arrived. He never really thought about who emptied his trash can, it was just always ready for another days paper waste when he arrived in the morning. His reminisces and dreams of days long ago over made him temporarily forget why he even escaped his home.  The familiar bruised figure in his doorway refreshed his memory.

“Taking your life in your own hands Lucian.” Marcel barked.

“Please Marcel we need to talk.” Lucian Tepes dared Marcel’s gaze as he carefully walked over to the chair in front of Marcel’s desk.

“God help me tell me you love her and she’s not just a fuck to you.”

“I love her with all my heart Marcel, I…we never intended to hurt you or Julianna I swear. I want to marry her.”

Marcel took his gun out of his desk and held it in his hands inspecting it. “That’s noble of you, does she know this?” He said sarcastically.

Lucian licked his dry lips watching Marcel inspect the bullet chamber. “She doesn’t know that’s what I want. Not yet anyway.”

Marcel pointed the gun at Lucian. “Do you really think this is wise telling me this at two in the morning after the night we just had? Is this a special brand of Romanian stupidity?” He said referring to Lucian’s nationality and homeland.

“I just wanted you to know how I feel; she’s not just another girl to me.” Lucian closed his eyes waiting for a bullet to explode his skull.

Marcel leaned back and drew a deep breath; he put his Glock back in the drawer and locked it. Rubbing his chin looking out the window he could see the reflection of the beat up young man and himself, except his mind’s eye kept seeing himself on that fateful day at the country club.  

“Take this under advisement Lucian, should my daughter do you the honor of becoming your wife, you’d better elope and never let me catch wind of it before hand. If and it’s a big if, she decides to do such a stupid thing with you, I can guarantee you my reaction will be ugly, but I won’t beat you down again for her sake and Julianna’s. For some reason Julianna likes you.  You will take a few days off and heal, and then when you come back you will make up some excuse to be reassigned to a new partner, got it?”

“Yes sir.” Lucian nodded his agreement as well.

“Do not tell my daughter or my wife you were here tonight or that we talked or I’ll call in all the favors I have and have your sorry ass assigned to some remote outpost in Alaska. Hear me boy?”

“I mean it when I say I love her.” Lucian said as he got up leave.

“I don’t doubt you do but I’m going to make you prove it at every level son.” Marcel stood up and held out his hand for Lucian to shake. Hesitantly Lucian took his hand in a firm grip.

“I would expect nothing less.” He said as he left Marcel in his office and to his thoughts.

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biracial, Chicklit, Fiction, ghosts, Paranormal, supernatural, supernatural, women

Danielle and Grandmere’s Afternoon

Here’s another short story featuring our heroine from  The Body Hunters

I head downstairs with a little extra pep in my step this morning.  There’s no school today and I get to hang out with my grand mere.  She has some special project she has to take care of and she asked me to come along.  She could have said she was going to watch paint dry and I would still be excited.  For as long as I can remember grand mere has been my parent, my teacher, my disciplinarian, and my confidante.  Even though I live with my parents, they’re not always around, but my grand mere is always there when I need her.

Other than being family, grand mere and I have something in common: we’re both psychics.  We both have the ability to communicate with the dead.  It’s a trait that’s passed down from generation to generation in the Labouleaux women from way before our family migrated to New Orleans.  My great-great grandmother trained grand mere how to use her abilities just like grand mere trained me.

At five years old I was diagnosed with a life threatening heart illness and while the surgeons were operating on me, I died on the table and was gone for a few minutes before I could be revived.  This event gave me a deeper connection to what grand mere calls the ‘spirit realm’; the place where we’re able to interact with people who’ve passed on.  Grand mere calls me a prodigy and promises that if I continue using my abilities like she taught me, I may be the most powerful medium in the world.  Mwah hah hah!  It’s a good thing I’m not plotting world domination.

I head to the kitchen where my egg and sperm donors, otherwise known as mom and dad are busy getting ready for their day. They have no clue as to my psychic abilities.  Sometimes the things that I’m able to see and do freak me out; so I know my logical father and prim and proper mother couldn’t handle it.

 I’m a product of a mixed marriage, dad is Haitian Creole and mom is white, her family coming from a long line of New Orleans aristocrats.  Dad is an FBI agent and mom is a high society blue blood trying to climb back up the social ladder.  With their busy agendas, it’s a wonder they ever fit enough time into their schedules to conceive a kid.

I follow my nose to the coffee maker where dad has a fresh pot brewing.  Mom is sitting across the table from dad who’s busy with his nose in some of his case file while eating a bowl of corn flakes.  Mom scowls at me, but I ignore her evil look and fill my mug with coffee and a copious couple teaspoons of sugar.

“Danielle, you’re only sixteen years old.  You have no business drinking coffee.”  She complains, peering at me with her violet eyes.

With my back turned I roll my eyes.  If she cares so much about what I have for breakfast the least she could do is have some semblance of food prepared.  Truth is she can’t boil water without causing a three alarm fire.

“I’ll be fine, mother.”  I tell mommy dearest as I stuff a Pop Tart into the toaster.  “I don’t think I’ll stunt my growth or anything.”

“What are you wearing?”  She moves to the next subject of my attire.  Unless it’s got a designer label or comes out of a boutique she doesn’t think it should be worn.  I on the other hand find nothing wrong with my dark jeans with the hole in the knee and my button up cotton top over my tank top.  I am not going to become a debutante, designer name dropping zombie like her so called friend’s daughters.

“What?” I ask.  “What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?”  Mom hates confrontation so I love pushing her buttons.

“Well, it’s atrocious.  You’re wearing sneakers, those jeans should have been thrown out long ago, and look at your hair.  You have that beautiful hair and you tie it up in a ponytail?  Really, Danielle how do you expect to attract a nice young man?”

“I already have mother.”  I say.  “Why just last week I gave Walter Brady my virginity.”

Mom just about chokes to death on her store bought croissant and dad is up in an instant patting her on the back.”

“Jesus, Danny!”  Dad grumbles, handing mom a cup of water.  “Are you trying to kill your mother?  Juliana honey she’s just joking.”

She looks at me for confirmation that her dear sixteen year old daughter hasn’t yet been deflowered and I’m barely standing I’m laughing so hard.  After I wipe the tears from my eyes I soothe her mind, letting her know I was just joking.

“Danielle you shouldn’t play games like that.”  She scolds.

“Okay, mom, I was just kidding.  Lighten up a little.”  I say, taking a bite out of my hot Pop Tart.

“I swear, you’re meaner than a snake some times, little girl.”  Dad complains, but I can see the laughter in his gold-brown eyes that are identical to mine.  “You bout ready?  I’ll walk you over to Mama’s.”

Luckily for me, Grand mere lives right across the street.  Whenever I needed her, she was never that far away.  As Dad opens the door to her house, the smell of her cooking immediately steps out to greet us as warmly as grand mere.  

She still lives in the same house that dad grew up in and we moved in across the street when I was just a baby.  Her house and decor has been seriously upgraded over the years though.  You see grand mere was a woman of color ahead of her time.  While my grandfather was a fisherman and shrimper, grand mere also had the entrepreneurial spirit, owning her own down home N’awlins style food restaurant.  Tourists would come from miles and mile to pig out on grand mere’s cooking. 

A few years after grandpa passed, a big corporation paid grand mere a pretty penny for her restaurant and her recipes for their own chain of restaurants.  Ever the shrewd businesswoman, grand mere made a ton of money off the deal, enough where she could retire early and still have money left over to take care of the next few generations of the Labouleaux family. 

“Mama, you sure have it smelling good in here.”  Dad says as he walks through the house to the kitchen.  The windows in the kitchen are fogged up because of the steaming pot she has on the stove.  Grand mere is at the sink, picking collard greens fresh from her garden.

My grand mere is pretty jazzy for an old chick.  She’s about my height at 5’ 5’ with a tiny waist and slender build.  She too is biracial, her dark hair now streaked with strands of grey and curled into spirals.  Her skin is a clear and flawless honey gold and she has the same golden eyes as me and dad, another Labouleaux trait. As always she’s wearing some of her colorful vintage jewelry, the type you see Liz Taylor wearing in those old movies.

“Thank you, cher.”  She tilts her head so she can accept Dad’s kiss on the cheek.  “Danielle, do your grand mere a favor and help me pick these greens.”

Obediently I follow her orders, washing my hands before separating the leafy greens from the stems and washing them.  Grand mere stirs the pot on the burner where she has a smoked turkey neck cooking for adding flavor to the greens.  She wraps the seasoned roast she has on the stove in foil before having dad put it in the oven.  As usual grand mere has been working her culinary wizardry in the kitchen.

“Isn’t this a lot of food for just you?”  Dad asks.

Grand mere smiles and pats his pot belly.  “Well you know I try to feed my son and his family every chance I get, cher.  I can’t have you starving to death.  You know that pretty little thing you married can’t cook to save her life.”

I smile to myself.  Grand mere has no malicious intent talking about my mom.  Her not being able to cook is a documented fact in our family.  Grand mere has tried to teach her to cook, but mom is just hopeless in the kitchen.  Training me in my paranormal abilities isn’t the only thing grand mere has taught me; I’m a mean cook. 

Dad leaves a few minutes later and grand mere walks him to the door.  I’m following grand mere’s orders, seasoning the greens and reducing the temperature of the big stainless steel pot. 

“What are we doing today, grand mere?”  I ask as she reenters the kitchen, taking off her apron.

“Consider today part of your training, child.”  She says cryptically.

We get in her sporty little Cadillac and head to the other side of town; the hood so to speak.  Grand mere pulls in front of nice little house that looks like it had been transplanted from a nicer neighborhood.  The two story house with the fresh coat of paint doesn’t seem to belong with the dilapidated housing on the block.

A Hispanic woman who looks to be in her mid-thirties is sitting on the porch in a white plastic chair.  On seeing grand mere she stands up, moving like she just lost a heavy weight bout.  Her eyes are red and by the balled up tissue in her hand she’s been crying.  Grand mere hugs her, whispers something in her ear and takes a set of keys from her hands.  The woman leaves and heads to a house next door and grand mere turns to me.

“What you are about to see is not like anything I’ve ever shown you before.  I don’t want you to be scared, cher.  But I want you to be prepared.  You understand?”  She says with a hand on my shoulder.

I nod dumbly, not quite sure what she means, but okay.  I’m game.

When I was a hard headed seven-year old, mom and dad forbade me from watching the movie Poltergeist.  I didn’t let their warning of the film being too scary bother me and I watched it anyway.  For weeks my immature seven year old brain was having day and nightmares about child eating trees and little girls stuck in the television. 

The scene grand mere and I encounter when we open the door to the house reminds so much of that movie.  It looks like a ghost is having a telekinetic temper tantrum.  Nearly every inanimate object in the room seems to have become animated and alive.  A kid’s collection of Hot Wheels cars have turned the wooden living room floor into their own personal race track and a Slinky moves down the staircase and back up again.  The living room chair is moving back and forth across the floor, while a pile of shattered porcelain lay on the floor.   Upstairs a voice calls for ‘Mama’ as if from the top of Mt. Everest, the voice echoing throughout the house.

“It’s okay.”  Grand mere assures me.  “He’s not going to hurt us.  He’s just scared and confused.”

As a butcher knife sails through the air, I silently hope grand mere is correct and whoever ‘he’ is he means us no harm.  

“Grand mere, what’s going on here?”  I finally get the courage to ask.

“Something bad, cher.  Something really bad.”  She says sadly.  “Are you ready to go into the spirit realm, Danielle?”

I nod my head and we sit together on the sofa, which thankfully hasn’t been brought to life.  She takes my wrist, her finger over my pulse.  We’ve done this before, her venturing into the realm first and me piggybacking on her ‘signal’ right behind her.  Grand mere is strong enough to slip into the spirit realm at will; I’m still learning so my gift requires a photograph to act as my bridge into the realm. 

I concentrate on her ‘signal ‘ and I get the chill that comes with entering the spiritual plane, that feels like someone dropping ice cubes down my back.  When I open my eyes again, we’re inside the house, but it’s not really the house, just a recreation of it.  As most times when I’m in the trance, there is no audio, so it’s important to pay attention to the minute details of the vision.  I’m standing beside grand mere and she silently nods to me; holding her right index finger is a little boy.

He’s probably about five and as cute as a speckled pup as grand mere would say, his big brown eyes looking at up at her.  In much the way I used to when I was his age, he’s tugging on her finger like he wants something.  He points up the wooden staircase; he something to show us. 

We follow our tour guide to what’s the doorway of an adult’s room.  Inside is another representation of our young chaperone and another child about the same age.  Grand mere and I watch the scene unfold as the boys are playing with action figures on the bed.  After a few minutes one of the boys grabs a chair and starts rummaging around the top of the closet.  I’m holding my breath as I see him pull down a shoebox. 

The two boys hover over their prize and pull the lid off the box; inside is a shiny handgun.  Grand mere and I watch the scene unfold, wishing we could change it, but there’s nothing that we can do.  Our little guide’s future is already set in stone.

The two boys toy with the gun, playing cops and robbers or army men, whatever little boys at that age play.  All too soon the gun goes off.  It’s surreal watching it happen with no sound, like watching a silent movie.  The gun muzzle flashes, the brief flare momentarily lighting the room like someone’s taking pictures.  One child drops the gun, his expression one of horror.  The other boy falls to the ground, a blossom of red slowly spreading all over his white tee shirt.  There’s red now all over the carpet, so much red. 

The woman who we saw on the porch is in the room now and I realize she’s the young boy’s mother.  She drops to her knees, cradling her son to her chest, rocking him back and forth.  Grand mere and I are still observing as the paramedics come, pronounce our little friend dead and take him away.  Even though I knew how his story ended, I still was hoping for a better ending.

We step away from the vision and the little boy is crying, still holding on to grand mere’s finger.  Grand mere takes him and wraps him in a hug like she used to when I was little.  She wipes his tears and I’m standing there at a loss, unsure what to do, feeling totally powerless.  This scene is beyond the scope of anything I’ve ever done as far as my gift.

A nearly blinding light opens in the spirit realm, right where the bedroom door should be.  Grand mere walks him to it, but doesn’t step thru it.  On her knees one more time, she rubs his head, kisses his cheeks and hugs him one more time.  I watch as the child walks into the light, looking at us one more time as an older Hispanic man with short grey hair and kindly brown eyes appears and takes his hand. I am instantly understanding this is his grandfather who passed before him. The older man smiles and then they are gone, evaporated in smoke. I feel a couple of tears drip down my cheeks.

My eyes open in my reality and all the movement in the house had ceased.  Things are back to normal or as normal as this broken family can get.

“You okay, cher?”  Grand mere asks as I shake my head, loosening the remnants of the startling scene I’ve just witnessed.  With my gift, I’ve seen death, but never one so young.

“I’m fine, grand mere.”   I say.

We head back outside where the mother is waiting, her eyes nearly overflowing with unshed tears.  Grand mere takes the mother into her arms and the woman breaks down.  My grandmother whispers words of sympathy and encouragement into her ears.  She tells the woman that her boy is finally at peace and she needs to stay strong and keep living.  After a few moments, the woman stands up, her teary eyes and red nose the aftermath of her broken heart.  With a final goodbye, grand mere heads back to her car, but not before promising to call and check up on the mother from time to time.

As we’re headed back home, grand mere tells me what was really going on in the house.  The little boy’s death was so sudden, that he’d been stuck in transition from this world into the next.  His spirit had been acting out, desperate to break through the spirit realm and get to his mother.  Grand mere had to step in and help him move into the afterlife, something she is hoping I will be able to do in the future. I may not she says, I may only be able to help them in their immediate issue but not actually open the door for them to move on. Either way grand mere says I have to heed whatever my gift allows me to do. She explains that just the act of righting a wrong may allow them to go to the afterlife on their own. Some come and go between the earth and the spirit realm several times at will just to have a wrong righted or give a warning at a particular time and place. She is also promised to teach me to discern which spirits really need help and which ones are just trying to get attention for attentions sake, otherwise she says I may go crazy with the visitations.

Coming home, we enter into her kitchen, the roast is now done and the house smells heavenly. It’s close to 2pm and Marcel and Julianna are heading from our house across the street. Mother of course looks perfect with her long brushed shiny black hair and yellow sundress, her sunglasses hiding her sparkly violet eyes. Dad is wearing his plaid dad shorts that come down to his knees and a white polo shirt. What a pair! He is holding her hand as they cross onto grand mere’s lawn. Ugh, now he’s kissing her. Grand mere is watching this hideous display of affection through her dining room window smiling at them. I stick my finger down my throat mocking the scene. Grand mere smacks me on the arm and warns me to behave. Dad opens the door and lets mother go through first. We are having an early dinner because apparently it’s the alien pods anniversary.  Dad settles into a chair in the kitchen after kissing grand mere on the cheek. Mother follows suit.

“Mama that smells wonderful, we about ready to eat?” Dad is patting his belly. “Where did you two go today?” He looks directly at me hoping to catch me flinch. I know his interrogation techniques and I’m prepared to put on my game face.

Grand mere answers. “Cher, we just went to the mall, why are you always so suspicious?”

Mother speaks up on his behalf. “Danielle did you tell your grandmother we caught you sneaking out at night twice this week?”  She’s boring holes in my head with her stare. I have to quickly defend myself.

“It’s not that big of a deal, I just had to give Amy her homework, she’s been out sick. I didn’t want to disturb you and dad fooling around on the couch.” Dad spits his sweet tea all over his shirt as I burst out laughing. Mother is hiding her face behind her hands.

“Danny!” Grand mere admonishes as she smacks me on the back of the head as I pass her to get plates. “Child, I swear you are going to be the death of me!” For the moment the subject of my escaping the prison is forgotten as we set the table for my parents anniversary dinner.

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