Author, Fiction, Indie Author, mystery, Paranormal, Romance, villains, women

Heartless

For your reading pleasure, here’s an excerpt from the fourth book in our series, The Body Hunters.  Titled, The Body Hunters: The Lazurus Effect, this is the opening chapter. You can expect it to hit Amazon within the next few months. As always we’ll keep you posted. Enjoy!

”Well, if you’re not willing to send us a payment, Mrs. Avery, we will have no choice than to pursue further legal action; up to and including garnishment of your wages.” Swiveling in her office chair, Jesse faced the backdrop of downtown Savannah. Still talking on her headset, she turned, watching the denizens of the city scurry about like ants.
“But I told you.” The woman on the other end of the phone wailed. “I’ve been out of work for a year and I just started another job two weeks ago. I haven’t received a child support payment from my ex-husband in months. My kids need food. Just work with me.”
Jesse smiled as she soaked in the euphoria of having dominion over her clients. “I truly sympathize with you, Mrs. Avery, but I have a job to do just like you. My hands are tied.”
The desperate woman on the other end unleashed a ragged breath. “I-I guess I could send something. I’ll see what I can do.”
“I’ll be expecting a payment in the next two days or we’ll be forced to proceed legally.”
“There’s a special place in hell for people like you, you heartless bitch.” The woman told Jesse before clicking off the line.
Smiling contentedly, she pulled the headset off, tousling her long mane of vibrant red hair. She’d rose above the common call center agents several months ago.  Jesse’s debt negotiation skills had afforded her several promotions and a corner office at ACS Collections. Her supervisor had once boasted to his colleagues that she could draw blood from a stone and gave her the moniker of the grim reaper, because she was good at closing accounts.
Her fairly new appointment had also scored her leagues of haters. Most of the catty women at the office couldn’t stand her, though she could care less about what they thought of her. She hurled a scowl at one of the office tramps who strolled by looking at her like she was on display at the zoo.
“Can I help you?” Jesse’s voice confronted the woman.
The tramp kept walking on those stilts she called legs, squinting at Jesse as if the sun was in her eyes.
“You’d better keep walking.” She muttered under her breath.
That distraction out of her face, she returned to the Avery case, leaving detailed notes that the client had promised to pay in two days. There were several avenues Jesse could have taken, other than threatening to garnish the woman’s check, but she didn’t care. The woman accumulated the debt so she had to pay it, besides, the other avenues wouldn’t have helped Jesse’s numbers. This job was about revenue, not coddling customers who couldn’t pay their bills.
Typing up her notes, Jesse glanced down at the framed photo on her desk. The man who was the subject of the photo had no idea the snapshot of him even existed. She’d caught him unawares on the street in the downtown area and took advantage of the photographic opportunity. She sighed, reflecting on his gorgeousness.

“That bitch has a lot of nerve taking my man!” Jessie fumed under her breath.
Earlier that day, Jesse had been following, not stalking like her friends so often pointed out, the man she cherished, Aiden Stone.
She and Aiden’s whirlwind courtship had begun several years ago in Washington D.C. at a nightclub. Sitting at a table with her girlfriends, she’d seen him the moment he walked in.
To say the man was fine wouldn’t do him justice. He was six foot four of raw masculinity and muscle, with stunning blue eyes that could make even the strongest woman swoon. His features were exotic, with traces of Polynesian, African American, and Irish, ancestry blending together in perfect harmony. A native of Hawaii, his skin tone was the soft brown of damp sand on a Hawaiian beach.
Once she saw him, she knew she had to have him. And have him she did. They spent one night together in reckless abandon and it was the best lay of her life. When her eyes opened the next morning, he was gone without leaving any way to contact him. He just seemed to vanish from the face of the earth.
Fate intervened a year ago, when she found him licking his wounds in a bar in Savannah, Georgia, over his ex-girlfriend, Danny. The fact that she went by a boy’s name was a clue that the witch was wrong in the head. Seeing her man in distress, Jesse fed him and provided him shelter in his hour of need.
Her friends told her she was a fool, that he was on the rebound and would go back to his girlfriend given the chance, but they were just jealous. They wanted him for themselves and that wasn’t going to happen. She and Aiden were soul mates.
Things between her and were Aiden fine for a few months, though he couldn’t get him to stop talking about his ex. No matter what she did for him, everything that came out of his mouth was ‘Danny this’ or ‘Danny that’. Jesse’s friends of course had to stick their noses in saying that he wasn’t over his ex, and he was just using her to make the woman jealous, but she wasn’t interested in what they had to say.
Just as her friends had forecast, the day did come when the witch decided that she wanted him back.
Try as she might, Jesse couldn’t break the spell the voodoo witch put on him. Things escalated out of control when Jesse confronted Danny at the wedding of one of her snooty friends. The skank couldn’t even fight her own battles, siccing her blond bimbo of a friend on her while she watched from the sidelines. Two months later Jesse was still sore from that brawl. Worse yet, Danny had gotten the police involved.
After a couple months of laying low and staying away from her beloved, Jesse was back to her previous routine. She made a point of driving by their house at random every day, just hoping to get a glimpse of him. Last night, she got an eyeful.
He and that tramp were apparently just coming back from a date. That viper slithered up to him and practically had her forked tongue down his throat. Seeming for some reason to enjoy it, he swept her into his arms and carried her into the house.
Thankfully, her job as a call center debt collector was there to take her mind off things. There was nothing like a customer begging for mercy to get her out of a funk.
A full day of work behind her, Jesse was ready to call it a night. With a bucket of ice cream to drown her sorrows and some trashy reality TV to take her mind off her man problems, she’d be just fine.
“Jody!” A concerned Jesse called for her roommate as she entered the apartment. Jody was supposed to report to work that afternoon, but never made it. It was out of character for her friend, since she hadn’t even bothered to call in.
Mostly a solitary creature, Jesse had let a down on her luck coworker move in a month ago. She and Jody got along harmoniously since she was quiet and tended not to judge Jesse’s personal life.
Jesse slipped out of her heels at the door, flexing her exhausted feet on the plush carpeting. With only the light from the adjacent living room to guide her, she headed toward the kitchen.
“Jody! Are you okay? Why didn’t you call into work? They were looking for….”
Her bare heel slid on something warm on the linoleum and she smacked her butt on the floor. “Damn it, Jody! Why didn’t you clean up this mess you made?”
Still yelling at her roommate, she washed her hands in the sink.
“What did you drip meat all over the kitchen?” She asked, watching the red swirl down the drain.
Huffing, she swung open the refrigerator door, perusing the shelves. In the center of the fridge was a large glass jar filled to the brim with cloudy red fluid. In the bottom of the container was a large chunk of red meat the size of a fist.
“Jody what the hell did you put in my…”
The door was slammed on the back of her head, knocking her out cold.
Pinpricks of light in a starburst pattern formed behind Jesse’s eyelids as she awakened. The back of her head was aching like it wanted to detach itself from her body and crawl away. Her limbs were heavy for some reason and she wasn’t able to move anything but her neck.
“What the hell are you looking at?” Jesse slurred, drool dribbling down the corner of her jaw. “Stop looking at me.”

Attempting to move, Jessie found that her hands and feet were bound to the bed. Her arms were almost painfully stretched above her head.
Her head listed to the side, Jesse’s focus was on the woman with the dark eyes who was blatantly ogling her. For some odd reason the woman was in Jesse’s room, hiding in a corner that was filled with shadows.
“I wouldn’t worry about her.” A man’s voice entered the room.
Dressed in black, he grabbed the staring woman by the hair and brought her face out to the light. Her brown eyes were lifeless, a jagged red streak across her pale throat. The young woman was devoid of a shirt or bra a gaping black hole had been opened below her ribcage.
“J-Jody! What did you do to Jody?”
He threw her back into the corner like an old rag doll. “If it’s any consolation, I regret having to dispatch your roommate. You were the intended target after all.”
Jesse’s anger bubbled to the surface. “You’d better get me out of here you sick son of a ….”
The man continued talking as if she hadn’t uttered a word. “But your roommate did give me a chance to perfect my method.”
He proudly held up the jar that had been in her fridge and thumped a finger against it like it was an aquarium. Sitting in the bottom of the jar was Jody’s heart.
Jessie’s eyes registered pure horror. “Oh my God! Help somebody help me! This psycho is going to kill me!”
Irritably shaking his head, the man covered her mouth with duct tape.
“As I was saying before I was rudely interrupted; when I tried to remove the heart from my first victims, it took more time than I was comfortable with and of course the noise from the saw attracted too much attention. I finally realized what I was doing wrong; the secret is to make an incision here.”
The man pointed to where his diaphragm would be. “And reach upward. That way you avoid the ribcage and you retrieve an undamaged specimen in mere seconds.”
Mascara streamed down Jessie’s face as she begged for mercy behind the tape.
He paid her no mind. “Now your friend’s heart, I’ll be adding to my collection. Your heart on the other hand I’m going to give as a gift.”
Reaching into a duffel bag, he extracted a syringe filled with a clear fluid and a pair of scissors.

“I’m giving you a local anesthesia so you won’t feel a thing.” He told her before stabbing the needle into her abdomen.
Her howl was muffled, sobs wracking her body.
“Now, now. It will all be over soon.” He soothed. “You should be honored. I think your heart will be the perfect present for her.”
While the pain killer snaked its way through her veins, the man used the scissors to cut through Jessie’s blouse and bra at the same time. Once he made his symmetrical cut through the material, he ripped it apart, exposing her naked ribcage. Going back to his duffel bag, he brought a sinister looking blade to the bed.
“This isn’t really personal.” He said over Jessie’s weeping as he made his first incision. “I’m just a man who believes in symbolism.”
Not satisfied with the way the blade was cutting he dipped his blood soaked hands into the bag and pulled out a knife with a serrated edge.
He got back into his gruesome work, sawing through her torso. “The girls I killed. They’re symbols of what she did to me. Oh, she hurt me, she really did; the pain was excruciating. She practically ripped my heart out of my chest and stomped on it. Now I wouldn’t stomp on a perfectly good heart, but you get what I’m saying. Giving her your heart is my way of showing her how I really feel.”
After carving a hole big enough for his hand to slip through, the man reached into the cavity. Jessie thrashed on the bed as he reached upward.
“Ah, here we are.” He whispered, biting his lip.
He grabbed the still beating organ and twisted. Her brain still functioning, the last thing Jessie saw was her heart beating in his hand. Whether from delirium or her approaching death, she found it humorous that she really was a heartless bitch after all.

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Drama, Fiction, ghosts, money, Murder, mystery, Paranormal, Romance, supernatural, women

The Body Hunters: Dirty Secrets, Naked Truth Excerpt-Alistair Brogan’s Murder

Enjoy a sneak peek at the first chapter in the third book in The Body Hunters series. The Body Hunters: Dirty Secrets, Naked Truths by Raven Newcastle http://amazon.com/dp/B00GOZ7ULC/

Alistair Brogan’s eyelids cracked open a little after one in the morning. Through sheer stubbornness he continued to lay there, willing himself to fall back to sleep. After nearly an hour of watching the digital digits on his alarm clock mark the passing time, Alistair gave it up. At the moment sleep wasn’t going to allow him to escape the mess of his creation.

He forced himself to sit up. He ran a hand through his tousled grey hair, which stood straight up like muddy icicles.  The space in the king size bed beside him was empty; a few blond hairs on the pillow the only trace of the high priced call girl with whom he’d spent part of the evening.  Obviously his meter had run out and she’d gone off in pursuit of the next paying client.

Alistair winced as the soles of his feet touched the frigid bedroom floor, the wood cut from some rare tree from the Amazon.  He slipped into a pair of handcrafted silk slippers, monogrammed with his initials.  He was considering not even bothering with a shower, until his own body funk assailed him.

Alistair shuffled to the bathroom with its heated tile floors, his worries heavy on his shoulders.  He gazed at his nude form in the bathroom mirror.  He didn’t look too bad for a chap well beyond the half century mark.  His eye sight had been corrected with laser surgery so he no longer required the grandfatherly glasses he used to wear.  His hair was expertly cut by a stylist known to have clipped the hairs of U.S. Presidents and heads of state.  His fingers pinched his waist, finding no trace of the love handles that had plagued him for years, his belly flat and taut like a fashion model half his age.  His unforgiving personal trainer had seen to that and the man’s exorbitant fee had been money well spent.

A personal shopper made sure that his walk in closet was overflowing with fine garments and shoes that befitted a man of his wealth and stature.  A fleet of fine automobiles filled the garage of his mansion, while a handful of servants waited on his every beck and call.  When Alistair talked, people paid attention.  Everywhere he went people knew him and wanted to be around him.  To the outside world Alistair Brogan was the picture of power and influence, but why did he feel so hollow inside?

When Alistair looked at himself in the mirror all he saw was staring back at him was the face of a con man and a thief.  Alistair Brogan, CEO of Capital Securities Associates or C.S.A. was guilty of running a Ponzi scheme.  He’d duped corporations, charities, middle class workers, and little old ladies out of billions of dollars.  Over the years, he kept telling himself that he’d go on the straight and narrow and clean up the mess he’d started, but as the years went by he only got deeper and deeper in the tar pit of his own making.

Just a few months ago, Alistair had developed a plan that would allow him to pay off all his investors back in full. The plan would take time to pay off, precious time he no longer had. Unfortunately, there was no more sand in his hour glass and two weeks ago the whole house of cards came crashing down.

A legion of FBI agents in their windbreakers descended on C.S.A.’s headquarters in Savannah in search of a paper trail.  The SEC had been investigating him for years and finally had gathered enough evidence for a warrant.  Like buzzards swooping down on a carcass, the media was all over the story.  Cameras and microphones were shoved into the faces of clueless C.S.A. employees and Alistair’s equally clueless friends and family.

Alistair was exiled from his circle of friends as soon as the news broke.  He’d gone from a VIP to the most hated man in America in mere days.  His victims now paraded outside the gate of his mansion with their torches and pitchforks, calling for the head of the monster.  His former friends treated him like he was poisonous, avoiding any contact with him.  Alistair felt like he didn’t have an ally in the world.

The arraignment was mercifully quick and his hot shot lawyer was able to get Alistair released on bond and put on house arrest.  Thankfully he was able to avoid wearing one of those awful tethers, since the lawyer negotiated the surrender of his passports.  Alistair was now confined to his luxurious seven bed room, Savannah, Georgia mansion.  With the house empty since he fired his staff, the mansion was even more like a prison.  Save for the occasional call girl, Alistair was in solitary confinement with no other human contact.

As he stood in the shower letting the steaming jets of nearly scalding water work over his exhausted muscles, Alistair reminisced over his past transgressions and his pitiful existence.

He’d never been much of a husband or father. He knew now that he was never worthy of his first wife, his one true love, Cindy Good.  She was truly a saint who’d put up with his lying and cheating for years, but even saints have their limitations.  She’d taken their children and had been living happily ever after for years.

Wife number two was a conniving temptress who was only after his money.  She’d abandoned him as soon as she’d gotten word of the charges against him and the possibility of losing everything of which she’d grown accustomed.

The disappointment in his eldest son’s face whenever he looked at him was enough to kill him. It was a wonder that Alistair Jr. didn’t change his name to avoid all association with his fallen father. Luckily he was spared the judgment of his daughter who lived in Europe with her husband and children. It was one thing to be a bad father, another to be publicly branded a crook.

How ironic that the one child he could truly lean on at this time was his problem child, his youngest son Carl, by his second wife.  It was Carl, the former drug addict, who comforted Alistair with words of wisdom and encouragement. While he was never charged with anything as serious as running a Ponzi scheme, Carl had seen the inside of a jail cell on several occasions in his relatively short life and knew what they were up against.

Ceasing the ruminations on his children and turning off the punishing spray of water using the digital touch screen panel, Alistair stepped out of the glass enclosed shower.  The scent of his musky imported body wash and shampoo lingered on his skin.  Donning just his silk bathrobe, he headed downstairs, taking in the things he’d accumulated over the years.

As he passed the baby grand piano in the living room, he reminisced on the items he’d acquired.  There was the antique Persian rug he’d acquired in Morocco, the antique vase from Malaysia, a collection of hand blown glass ornaments from Italy.  These items he cherished would soon be auctioned to the highest bidder to cover the losses that his clientele had suffered because of his schemes.  His bank accounts were already frozen and it was only a matter of time before his property was seized.

His breath caught in his throat as if he could feel the walls of justice closing in on him.  His lawyer insisted on pleading not guilty, but Alistair knew that his days were numbered.  He was guilty as sin and he was going to spend the rest of his earthly existence and part of the afterlife in a federal prison.

Trying to shake off the stress, Alistair arrived at the room containing his indoor pool.  The combination of the chlorine and the heated water made the room hot and the air hard to breathe.  Shrugging out of his robe, he stepped into the warm waters.  He swam laps around the pool until his arms and legs felt like they’d been injected with lead.  The dull pain helped to lower his anxiety level.

“Nice day for a swim, huh?”  A masked figure dressed in black emerged from the shadows, a gun gleaming in its hand.

“Wh-who are you?”  In near panic, Alistair quickly cinched the robe around his waist.

The intruder never answered, letting the sound of the gunshot speak for him. A jet of red black blood sprayed like a fountain from Alistair’s perfectly tanned neck.  He fell to his knees, his hands around his own throat, desperately attempting to stop the bleeding as his life flowed through his fingers.  Alistair’s voice was replaced by thick garbled static, the blood in his throat nearly gagging him.

The dark figure stood less than a foot from Alistair’s crouching form and pulled the trigger again.  Grey matter and blood spatter made a mess of the white tile.   Alistair collapsed in a heap.   Death overrode any modesty as his robe fell open, leaving his naked body fully exposed.  The intruder fired two more rounds into Alistair’s skull before kicking the dead man into the pool.

A murky red cloud surrounded Alistair as he floated on top of the water like an overfed goldfish.  Satisfied with their handiwork, the intruder fled the room, carefully avoiding the blood on the floor.

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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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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, Chicklit, Drama, Fiction, mystery, Paranormal, supernatural, supernatural, Uncategorized

Building a Hero

When we went about creating our hero for our first novel, The Body Hunters, we wanted him to be different. The white guy with the unruly hair and the roguish countenance had been done to death and we were tired of the sparkly vampires. Our guy had to be exotic and a man all his own. When Danielle saw him for the first time, we wanted her to be like ‘Whoa!’. I wish I could get a mental picture of what our readers fantasize about when they read about him. I know who we looked to for inspiration when we created him.

Like Danielle, Aiden is psychic, what we call a physical medium who can access the memories stored in objects. Danny may be a prodigy with her abilities, having been formally trained by her Grandmere, but Aiden needs work. She has to teach him how to use his new found psychic powers.

Our male lead had to be an alpha male foremost. It would suit him well since he would be Danielle Labouleaux’s friend, lover, confidant, and protector. Making him a former military man was no question, which would eventually lead to his career as an FBI agent. Though Danielle or Danny as we call her is headstrong and feisty, he needed to be her voice of reason during her emotional crisis.  He’d give her so much leeway to misbehave, before reigning her back in.

We also needed him to reside on 64 Gutter Lane. A hero is no fun without the bad boy edge, so Aiden definitely has a one track mind that runs right into the gutter. His flirtatious comments always make Danny blush and make for some fun banter and situations between the two.

Though he may sound like the perfect man, we also wanted to ground him in reality.  Aiden isn’t perfect, in fact he’s far from it. He’s bad with money and spends it like there’s no tomorrow. He also has a bad temper and can sometimes be a slob. That’s where Danny comes in to help him where he’s weak, while he does the same for her.

Our readers gravitate to him like bees to honey.  Though we wanted women to love our hero, we didn’t think they’d love him to the point of taking his side in arguments and blaming Danny for all their problems. In creating Danny’s soul mate, we may have just created a monster. I’m pretty sure that Aiden Stone would be happy with that.

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Chicklit, Drama, Fiction, Indie Author, Murder, mystery, Paranormal

Lucius Johnson

 This is a short story featuring one of our, supporting characters, Lucius Johnson, from The Body Hunters. In this story he’s 16 years old and not quite the uptight g-man he is in the book.  Enjoy!

“Lucian Tepes, the headmaster will see you now.” The pretty blonde secretary  sitting politely at her desk is waving me into his office. I know I’m  in trouble, I  have once again pissed off the headmaster and now I’m apprehensively  walking into his office where my uncle Miroslav waits.

 He goes by Mike  now since living in America.  I am surprised to see him and I know that I  must be in real trouble for him to fly all the way to England. He is pissed.  I have broken curfew and disappeared for 3 days. I’m not  telling them I was on a bender in Paris. My parents are dead and it falls to Uncle Mike to look after me. He has  wasted no time squirreling me away to boarding schools all  over Europe. Every time I get kicked out of one school he puts me in another.  He has the money to do so having made his fortune in paper  products in America. I don’t care about him or his money. He really  doesn’t want me around and I don’t want to be around him.

 A few minutes  later and I am packing my things under the watchful eye of the  headmaster and Uncle Mike. Kicked out of yet another boarding school.  I must be setting some type of world record.  With  my shoulder bag and suitcase I am led out the door to the waiting  oversized Black English taxi. This is not going to be a fun ride to  Heathrow.

Uncle Mike is staring me down, he starts to yell in Romanian at me, I yell  back at him to speak English; I refuse to speak my native language. He  gives me a stern look “OK.” he says. “If you want English then we will  speak English, but you boy, will listen and listen well if you know what is good for you.” 

The cabbie seems to be snickering at my predicament. I nod my agreement to my uncle and wait to hear what heavy handed  sentence he plans to lay down on me this time. Another boarding school?  Perhaps Switzerland this time? Maybe Germany? I have been to one in Italy and  two in England already. Why doesn’t he just take me to the States?  I am sure he is afraid I will really act out like the American teenagers he sees  on television.  My uncle is glaring at me, daring me to say something stupid. “You are going to get your wish.” He says to me. “I’m taking you to the U.S.”  I am ecstatic. Finally! 

“Military school?” I yell out and the whole plane turns to look at me. Uncle Mike is hushing me. “You can’t be serious!” I ignore his hushing and yell. In my imagination of what my American life will be, military school was not in the picture.

“You need the discipline.” Uncle Mike says  ignoring his own voice level. The female flight attendant sidles up to  our chairs and squats down asking us to please lower our voices. I see  several people staring at us. Her smile is false and she is giving us a  tone reserved for unruly children. I look away from her. Uncle Mike  reassures her we will be quiet and she leaves us alone. He doesn’t speak to me much after that and when he does, it’s in Romanian. I put the headphones into the armrest jack and  listen to music to ignore him. It’s going to be a long flight.

We arrive at LaGuardia, where my Aunt Helen and their young seven year old daughter Susan are waiting for us. Auntie as I call her is far happier  to see me as she kisses me hello and hugs me tightly. Susan eyes me  warily as if I have antennas on my head as she hides behind her mother  trying not to make eye contact with me. Auntie does most of the talking  on the way to their home in upstate New York. They live in a gated  community surrounded by wooded lands. I’m secretly planning my escape till I see my uncle reading my mind. He mentions something about my visa and  something called the I.N.S. I see it’s not going to be as easy as I  thought. My little cousin is in the back seat with me playing with some of her dolls she calls Barbie. Her sweet blue eyes look at  me suddenly as she asks “Are you going to be my new brother?”  My uncle practically runs the car off the road.

I smile sweetly at her and take hold of her hand. “We are cousins.” I  tell her. “Would you like me to be your big brother?” She nods yes and  fingers the ring on my right hand.

“I know this ring. Daddy has one just like it, but he doesn’t wear it.”  Her little fingers are running over the small ruby eyes of the dragon  head in the ring.

“Yes, I know, I got this from my father, your Uncle Josef. Do you know what  the dragon means?” I am talking really low to her, but not low enough it seems.

“That will be enough!” Uncle Mike barks out.

“She will find out eventually.” I snap back. My Auntie gives me a pleading look as my Uncle glares at me from the rear view mirror. 

“She may find out later, but not by you and not today! Do you understand?”

Susan has a confused look across her face. I tell her it’s just a dragon and that’s all.  My uncle is satisfied with my answer and my Auntie breathes a sigh of  relief. I pat little Susan on the cheek and she continues playing with  her dolls.

We reach the gated community and pull into the drive. The two story house  overpowers my sight as I try to take in its enormity. We enter into the  great hall and my Auntie ushers me into a room she has set up for me. I  am surprised to see how little furniture there is in such a big room;  just a dresser and a single bed. She shows me the closet that could  almost sleep a few more people and she puts my shoulder bag in it. She  sits at the edge of the bed and pats her hand on the mattress beckoning  me to sit next to her.

“Lucian, please while you are here, try not to anger your uncle.” She pleads. “He is not a patient man, you know this.”

“He hates me.” I say dryly. “And I really don’t know why.”

My auntie takes my hand. “Lucian, you know your father and he didn’t get  along and with all that mess in Romania, he just never expected to have  to take care of you. He blames your father for not looking out for his  family and leaving when he had the opportunity, choosing instead to  ignore his duties as a father and husband. He pushed his limits for what  he felt was his own righteous indignation with no thought to you or your mother. He sees in you the defiance  your father had. You just haven’t learned to channel it into something  productive.” Her eyes look weary and tired. “Please Lucian I can’t fight for you if you will not meet me half way.”

“He is sending me away again isn’t he?”

“Yes, he is, I tried to stop it. I begged him to just be a father to you. He  says it will end with you two killing each other. I’m not so sure he is  wrong.” She is now patting the back of my head. “You need a haircut.”  She laughs as she tugs at my locks. “Dinner will be soon, you may want  to freshen up. Lucian?”

“Yes Auntie?”

“Please remove that ring while you are here.” She touches my dragon ring.

“Why, is he ashamed of our family history?” I voice out angrily.

“Lucian, please for me.” I can’t say no to her kind eyes. I take it off and put it in my jeans pocket.

“Thank you.” She kisses me on the forehead before leaving my room.

After dinner Uncle Mike and I are in the living room by ourselves. On the  coffee table he has placed three brochures of military schools. “Pick  one.” He says. “I don’t care which one, just pick one.”

“What if I don’t choose?” I am pushing my luck and I know it. “What then?”

“I will pick for you, no matter what your aunt tells you, you are going to one of them. If you straighten out then maybe we will reevaluate your  situation, but you are sixteen Lucian.  You need to learn discipline and  to be a man.”

“I am a man!” I scream out.

He is screaming back. “You think you are a man, running away to Paris with some girl and being on a drunk for a few days?”

I am totally stunned. How could he have possibly known? I ask myself. “What if I run away?” I try to ask more calmly.

“You only have a  student visa. I will have it revoked and I will see to it you are  deported. So the choice is up to you.” His threat works. “You can take the  brochures to your room and give me your answer in the morning. Go now!” He waves me off with his hand and I decide I am too tired to fight with him.

I am trying to let this new reality sink in as I walk past my little  cousin’s room on the way to mine. The difference is stark. Hers is all  pink and purples, with stuffed animals everywhere. She is seated at a  small child’s table pouring imaginary tea into small cups talking to an  empty chair next to her. She catches my eye and invites me in.

“Lucian!” She joyfully leads me by the hand to the table. “Come meet Mr.  Vandermarliere, he lets me call him Mr. Van for short.”

I am staring at air. “Susan there is no one here. Is he your imaginary  friend?” A tea cup flies off the table and lands against the wall,  luckily it was plastic.

“You’ve made him mad Lucian.” She gets up and stamps her foot at me. “He is getting angry.”

I feel a chilling breeze pass by me. “I’m sorry, Susan, tell Mr. Van I meant no disrespect.”

She is talking to her friend and then looks back at me. “He says he wants  to know why you can’t see him; he knows you have a gift. What gift? I  didn’t see you bring in a present!” Susan is very confused now.

“It’s not that kind of gift.” I explain to her. “It’s like the same gift you  have to be able to see him and I don’t. Do your mom and dad know he is  here?”

“No.”  She says sheepishly as she looks at her feet. “You’re not going to tell are you? Daddy would be mad and send me away like you!”

I reassure her that no, I will not tell and they are not going to send  her away. Another tea cup smashes against the wall. “Please tell Mr. Van to stop throwing things or your parents will come up here and find out  what’s going on.”

“He says he wants to talk to you and you know how to do it.”  She playfully dances around my chair.

“He is right Susan, and if he promises to stop throwing things I will try. Can you describe him to me?”

“He is older than daddy and he wears a black suit with a black hat, he  calls it a fedora. That’s a funny name!”  She  sounds out the word. “feh door a.” She giggles as she continues “He has blood  down the side of his face.”  I am taken aback by  this. I have been taught that children can sometimes see spirits where  adults can’t. I wonder if my little cousin will end up with the same  gift I have.

“Tell Mr. Van I need something of his, did he live here at one time?”

“He did.” She tells me and runs to a knee wall in her room, she slides open the little door and brings me what I presume is Mr. Vandermarliere’s fedora. “Thank you Susan. Tell Mr. Van that I will try in my room. You must stay here, do you understand?” She nods yes and I leave her.

Back in my stark room, I close the door as I make sure no one else is in  earshot of me. I lie on the bed and hold Mr. Van’s fedora on my chest.  I’ve done this a few times now and I never know what is going to happen, but I know enough to be alone.

 Lights shimmer around me as I start to  get pictures, snapshots of Mr. Van. The images are in black and white at first. I am confused by this, but slowly they turn to color. They are  spinning faster like on a movie reel until I am in his presence and he is motioning to me follow him. I follow in earnest as I see we are in a  dark alley, the smell of garbage and old liquor bottles mixed in with  urine assault my nostrils. He points to a body and I kneel on one knee next to it. 

“Is it you?” I ask and he mutters what  sounds like a yes. He points to the fedora and motions me to remove it. I do. One gunshot to the head and half his skull is gone. I start to feel a little sick and walk over to the dumpster and puke. The maggots have  already invaded his head. He is standing next to me and is pointing to  the name on the dumpster. Salvatore Rubbish Removal. He is insistent I  pay attention to this name. He is now pointing to a balled up piece of  newspaper and I go to pick it up. The date shows January 7th 1962. This murder is over 30 yrs old. I feel overwhelmed as I have had  only three other experiences and they were nothing like this or even  this old. “I’ll see what I can do. I don’t have a lot of time you know  that, you know I am being sent away soon.” I explain to my dead  companion. He nods yes and puts his hand on my shoulder. I look back at  the body and see a card sticking out of the jacket pocket. Van’s Barbershop it reads and the address is  visible. I walk to the end of the alley and onto the sidewalk. We are  directly across from the barbershop. I look up and my companion is now  dressed in all white suit complete with an all white fedora, there is an otherworldly glow about him and he is smiling as he disappears. The  scene spins in front of me and I wake up with a start. My head pounding  and there is a little blood trail running from my nose.

“Buna dimineata, Lucian. Te-ai dormit bine?” My auntie Helen asks in Romanian.

“Good morning auntie and yes I did sleep well. Thank you.” I give her a kiss  on the cheek as I head over to little Susan who is eating her eggs. I  kneel down and whisper to her. “Did you see Mr. Van again this morning?” She nods yes and whispers back to me.

“He says thank you.” She kisses me on my nose and I give her a little  laugh. My uncle has entered the kitchen and sits at what I presume is  his usual seat at the table. He eyes me suspiciously as I get up from my knee and  away from little Susan. My auntie places a plate of eggs and sausage in  front of him and motions for me to sit opposite her as she puts a plate  in front of me as well. It smells delicious but the image of Mr. Van and the maggots is staying with me and I am a bit put off by it.

“Did you decide?” he asks dryly and my aunt holds her breath. I decide to look him straight in the face.

“Yes.”  I sit silent. My uncle is staring at me for a few seconds before throwing his hands up in the air.

“Would you like to share your decision with me?”  He is getting irritated and  my auntie kicks me under the table. For her sake I decide not to  continue poking the bear.

“The one in New Mexico.” I say no more to him. I picked that one because  according to the map of the United States, it would be the farthest away from him.

“Good, I will call and make the arrangements. In the mean time you will be  going to work for me and I will hear no argument about it.” He picks up  his news paper and hides behind it. The conversation is over.

I am in the study after breakfast with the phone book. I look up  Salvatore Rubbish Removal. It’s unbelievable as I see they are still in  business. The yellow pages ad says family owned since 1948. Dean  Salvatore proprietor and owner. I must sneak out to use a payphone. It’s a Saturday and uncle is home from his business, but he leaves to run errands. My auntie is busy cleaning. I press little Susan into helping me escape for a little while undetected. 

She shows me the basement and the large  windows that I can climb out of in the back of the house and I do. I  have no idea where I am but Susan tells me there is a payphone a few  blocks away at a little supermarket she remembered seeing when she goes there with her mother. She says she will pretend she is playing hide and seek with  me if her dad returns before I get back. I am beginning to feel real love for this child now. I scramble out the window and run like mad reaching the  party store out of breath. I only have minutes and I have re-gain my  composure. Drawing a deep breath I dial the 911 number and am patched  through to a police detective. I give him the information I know on Mr.  Vandermarliere and Dean Salvatore. I refuse to  give him my name. I hang up and run back to the basement window as my  uncle is pulling into the drive. I am sweating like mad. My sweet little cousin is waiting for me in the basement and leads me up the stairs and to a back staircase in this large house, it empties into the second  floor rooms. I hear Uncle Mike talking to my aunt as I quickly dip off  into my room and lay on the bed wiping sweat away from my forehead with  the sheets. Uncle Mike is at my door.

“Get up off that bed boy! What now you are lazy? I have work for you to do.”

A few weeks later and we are at our usual breakfast seating arrangements, my arms are sore but getting stronger as my uncle now has me loading rolls of paper onto trucks for delivery all over the U.S. I am eating  my breakfast as my uncle unfolds his daily newspaper to hide behind and I see the secondary headline. Thirty year old murder solved. Dean  Salvatore charged in mob style killing. 

Apparently Mr. Salvatore was a  mobster before going legit and was demanding protection money from small businesses in the New York neighborhood where Mr. Van’s barbershop was. Mr. Vandermarliere, a Dutch  immigrant refused to pay and paid the ultimate price for not cooperating. The mob made an example out of him. The article said the murder investigation was given new life when detectives received an anonymous phone call.  I can’t help but smile.

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biracial, Chicklit, Indie Author, mystery, Paranormal, women

Danielle and the Jewel Thief-Short Story

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.

The glaring red and blue flashing lights of police cars are out of place in this neighborhood. It’s one of those communities where people always say ‘that kinda thing doesn’t happen here’, usually said after that ‘thing’ that couldn’t happen, does happen. The Garden District of New Orleans’ is known for its lavish mansions and high society living. I ought to know, I have estranged relatives living in this particular neighborhood somewhere.

 I’ve never laid eyes on them since they disowned my mother after she defied them and married a man not only of Creole-Haitian descent, which in their eyes was already sinful, but also a man below her station, which was to them downright societal blasphemy. I’ve never even met my maternal grandparents, not by my parent’s choice but theirs and if they had a coronary about her marrying him, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t be happy to see the biracial child produced from what they considered an unholy union.

I push away the annoying memories of forced debutante balls and frilly gowns as we approach the crime scene. I let out a deep breath and get my mind focused on the task at hand. You see, there’s something you didn’t know about me; I’m psychic.

 This ability has run in my family for generations. My father’s mother, my beloved grandmere Marie, trained me how to use my gift, just like her mother trained her. My ability to communicate with the dead allows me to witness the last few moments of a victim’s life.

You don’t need to be psychic to find this the address because the emergency lights are like a beacon filling up the sweltering New Orleans night. That cynical part of me wonders if there would be this kind of police presence if this shooting happened in the seventh ward or any of the other bad neighborhoods, but I shove that thought aside, a victim is a victim.

 I pull the New Orleans Police Department issue Crown Vic into the circular drive a little too fast for my partner, Charlie Robinson’s taste.

 Unlike me, a New Orleans native, Charlie is a transplant from Detroit. With the economic downturn in Michigan, he left the Detroit Police Department and headed down to New Orleans where good officers were needed.

He’s built like a pro wrestler, over six feet tall and burly. I tease him all the time about how his bald head looks exactly like a giant milk dud. Charlie was my mentor when I first made detective and he’s like the big brother I never had. I also school him on all things N’awlin’s, so we learn from each other, which makes our partnership work.

 “I swear Labouleaux, are you trying out for NASCAR? Next time I’m driving!” He complains, releasing his gripped fingers from the dashboard, but I know he doesn’t mean it. He gets out of the car wobbling like he’s getting off a roller coaster. “This is not your Camaro.”

 “Sorry gramps but we needed to get here before the turn of the next century. You know you drive like you’re driving Miss Daisy!” I rag him on his grandfatherly driving skills. He just scowls at me and growls under his breath, something about ‘damned kids’.

 I laugh at him as I pull my black hair into a ponytail. It’s hot and sticky out here and it’s driving me crazy clinging to my neck. At the moment I’m giving serious thought to chopping it off again, but that fact that my mother liked my hair long makes me reconsider.

My attention is drawn to the ambulance, which is stationary and not rushing away from the scene. That doesn’t bode well for our victim. Our initial call of ‘shots fired’ is probably a homicide at this point.

 We approach the grand mansion’s large double doors that are guarded by two uniformed officers, acting as if they’re club bouncers than men in blue. After checking my badge, which hangs around my neck on a chain and Charlie’s which is on his hip, they allow us entry.

My eyes are assaulted by a riot of color, sequins, feathers, and rhinestones. The festive attire now seems out of place since most of the partygoers are in tears behind their masks or wearing looks of outright shock. The DJ has since stopped playing music, but the disco ball is still twirling, beads of light striking every possible surface in the room making the scene look like a surreal nightmare. Out of the hundred people in attendance, a few are quarantined to tables that once held refreshments as they give their accounts of the events to officers.

“Okay, tell me again what’s going on here.” Charlie requests, as he shakes his head at a shirtless man in a mask and sparkly pink tutu. We’re heading up the grand staircase to the bedroom where the crime happened.

“Oh Dear Charlie,” I begin in my patented snarky southern belle tone. “We are in the very mansion that belongs to Genevieve Lablanche. Every year for the past ten years, Madame Lablanche throws her summer masquerade extravaganza for the elite citizens of N’awlins.” I exaggerate the word extravaganza with a quick hand wave.

“She lets all these people in her house?” Charlie asked unbelievingly as he soaks in the mansion’s well placed but overpriced antiques.

“Yes, usually there are around one hundred people or more in attendance.” I provide in my normal voice.

“And every one of them is a suspect.” He says. His Detroit distrust is showing on his face.

We arrive in the bedroom of Genevieve and the first thing I see is red. It’s everywhere, on the white carpet, on the walls, just red everywhere. Genevieve is laying face up, a large blossomed flower of dark maroon spread all over her beautiful white sequined gown, her bottle blonde hair spread like a halo over the floor. There’s a large hole in her forehead right above her sequined mask and her dead eyes are open. Held in a literal death grip in her right hand is a diamond necklace, now splashed with dried blood.

“Shit.” Charlie mutters, stepping around the body.

“Gunshot wound to the chest and forehead.” I announce, not at all perturbed by the sight of a dead body. I’ve been trained since I was a child to use my psychic gift, so I’ve seen the ugliness of death several times over the years.

Getting our fill of the crime scene, we seek out the witness in the adjacent bedroom. Talking to a uniformed female officer with a wadded snot rag in her hand is Genevieve’s best friend, Bianca. Her dark hair is a tangled mess, like the cats have been sucking on it, as my grandmere would say. Her hands and dress are covered in the rusty red of dried blood. She’s shaking like a leaf and a road map of running mascara covers her face.

The female cop introduces us and leaves the room.

“Aren’t you a little too young to be a detective?” Are the first words out of her ruby red painted mouth.

“Aren’t you a little too old for that dress?” I shoot back.

She immediately looks down at the cotton candy pink garment, which looks like she got it on sale at Ho’s R Us.

“Uh, ma’am.” Charlie intervenes. “Can you tell us what happened to Ms. Lablanche?”

She recants the story of how Genevieve retreated upstairs for her third costume change for the evening, when she heard the commotion. Checking on her friend, to her horror, Bianca caught Genevieve tussling with an armed intruder over a necklace when she saw the man shoot her. She tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate her friend, but it was too late.

As she starts to describe the murder, she gets more and more hysterical. After asking for a description of the killer, which she can’t provide, we release her.

We question a few more witnesses and see the body off to the coroner. Charlie and I decide there’s not much more we can do until the crime scene team has gone over everything. Or rather, there’s nothing more Charlie can do.

Even though it’s nearly five in the morning, my grandmere is waiting for me when I arrive. She’s bundled up in her housecoat, slippers and an old lady scarf wrapped tightly around her head. She gives me a sleepy smile as I walk through the door. No matter how late I’m out working, she always waits up for me.

“What are you doing up so late?” I ask her as if I don’t know the answer. I kiss her with a light smack on the cheek.

“Now you know I can’t rest until I’m sure you’re home safe. What’s going on?”

She never tires of hearing my cop stories. “Somebody murdered Genevieve Lablanche.”

She wrinkles up her nose like she does when she’s thinking. “I knew her mama when I was coming up. She was a real nice lady. I can’t say the same for her daughter, though. Clara would be turning in her grave at some of the stories I’ve heard about her daughter.”

For years, Genevieve parties had been the talk of the town. Her mansion she inherited from her blue blood family had been turned into a den of debauchery. Her family fortune was often spent on wild parties and designer drugs for her so-called friends. The sterling Lablanche name was now tarnished and rusty, thanks to Genevieve’s actions. Now with her death, there would be no chance to redeem it.

But it wasn’t my place to judge her life. She was my victim and I was her advocate. After a few more words with Grandmere, I head upstairs to my bedroom.

I spill the minimal contents of the case file on my bed, but I’m not interested in the paperwork or the police reports. My doorway into the spirit realm is Genevieve’s photo, which I found at the house.

My eyes focus on the picture of the woman, just probably an hour before she made the transition into eternity. I let my eyes shut and I get that distinctive tingle in my back that feels like I’m being touched by someone with icy fingertips.

My eyes open and I’m in the middle of a party. Genevieve is standing beside me in that gorgeous white gown, only it’s not splattered with blood. She’s my guide through the last moments of her life.

The chaos of a party is going on around me, but due to the limitations of my gift, I don’t hear a sound. It’s like watching a movie with the mute button on. It’s why I really concentrate on the visual details.

Around me the guests gyrate and bounce to the music I can’t hear. Their faces are concealed behind masks and I find myself searching their eyes for any sign of malice. It’s a little hard when there are people dressed as devils, demons, and grim reapers staring back at me.

After a little while, I watch as Genevieve ascends her staircase, never to return again. I follow, to the second floor, ignoring the drug use and x-rated acts that are going on in the other rooms. I’m standing in Genevieve’s bedroom, bearing witness as she pulls a glittery purple cocktail dress from her walk in closet. From the jewelry box on her dresser she removes the same diamond necklace she died holding within her hand.

A shadow in a corner of the darkened room comes to life, eyes intently watching her. The shadow moves and she drops her mouth. He approaches; a duffel bag dripping diamonds on the floor is slung over his shoulder. Their limbs tangle until the prowler has Genevieve in a headlock. The two of them thump against the bedroom wall as she fights back. In the struggle, Genevieve removes the burglar’s mask.

He’s Cajun, with stringy brown hair and dark brown eyes. I commit his facial features to memory.

Genevieve and the burglar are now tussling across the bedroom floor. Genevieve knees him hard in the crotch, crab crawling away from him and into a far corner of the room. Somehow she’s still holding on to that necklace, her chest heaving heavily. Wobbly on his feet, the prowler stands up, holding his crotch.

Both their heads turn as the bedroom door opens and the lights flicker on. Wearing a look of surprise, Bianca enters the room wearing that tacky pink dress, shutting the door behind her. She looks first to the burglar before turning to her best friend. She removes her mask and saunters up to the man, her hand groping around his waist till she finds what she’s looking for. The gun she retrieves is obscenely large in her small hand.

Bianca handles the gun like a kid with a toy. She poses like one of Charlie’s Angels before walking over to her best friend. The burglar grabs Bianca’s arm, mouths no to her but she shrugs him off.  Her eyes are set on Genevieve and what I see in them I don’t like.

She levels the gun at her best friend and pulls the trigger as easily as taking a breath. I rewind the scene and play it again as the muzzle flash illuminates Bianca’s face in an evil light. After she puts the bullet into her BFF’s abdomen, Bianca puts one between Genevieve’s eyes for good measure. I rewind the scene and watch it play out five more times. It’s not that I’m naive and can’t believe it, I am a cop after all. It’s just that this is so unbelievably cold blooded. Bianca and Genevieve have been besties since kindergarten.

I’m also curious as to how this cat burglar plays into things. What exactly is his involvement?

I rewind and playback the murder over and over until I’m mentally exhausted. I decide to finally call it night and drift off the sleep, though the murder still plays in my head whether I like it or not.

The ringing of my cell phone, desperate for my attention is what wakes me sometime around noon. Charlie is on the line saying that they’ve caught the killer and to be ready in ten minutes. I’m fresh out of the shower and dressed by the time the wheels of the Crown Vic touch Grandmere’s driveway.

Before he can even put the car in reverse, I tell him that the burglar is not the killer. He gives me a look and nods his understanding. Though I have never gone into details about my abilities to Charlie, he knows that there’s something going on with me and that most times my hunches are correct.

The Cajun cat burglar, Remy Fontaine, as his fingerprints identify him is waiting in an interrogation room with his court appointed lawyer. His hairy hands are shackled to the metal table.

Charlie goes in playing bad cop, threatening bodily harm and the electric chair if Remy doesn’t come clean. Remy’s lawyer advises his client to remain quiet. I tell Charlie to go take a break before he runs up his blood pressure and he goes into the hall.

“I know you didn’t kill Genevieve.” I whisper to the Cajun.

His eyes look at me questioningly to me as if this is some form of police trickery.

“I know who pulled that trigger and I need your help to put her away.” I continue in that quiet voice. “Her fingerprints are on that gun, aren’t they Remy?”

The lawyer hisses for Remy to remain silent, but the flood gates open.

With tears streaming down his face, Remy tells his sordid tale of seduction and collusion. Bianca was insanely jealous of Genevieve, ever since their girlhood. To her Genevieve was always more popular, prettier, and richer than she could ever be. Wanting to get recompense for her imagined slights, Bianca hooked up with Remy, a two time loser with a rap sheet for small time burglary. The plan was for her to leave Genevieve’s window open so Remy could come in and pilfer her collection of diamond jewelry. No one was to be harmed during the burglary.

In the midst of the theft, Remy was shocked by Genevieve’s arrival, since Bianca was supposed to keep her busy. They tussled, with Remy trying to keep Genevieve quiet so he could make his escape, but the woman was frightened to death. Bianca arrived and using the gun Remy kept as a bargaining tool in case he was discovered, killed her so-called best friend.

I have him write out his story and get the prosecutor involved for negotiations. Remy’s testimony in exchange for a lighter sentence and the murder weapon. In his case, it’s the most he can hope for.

The crime lab goes over the gun and luckily we have Bianca’s fingerprints on file from a previous drunk driving arrest. Just as my vision and Remy’s confession indicated, Bianca handled the gun that killed her friend.

The look on Bianca’s face is priceless, as she’s leaving the country club and heading to her Porsche when the cops swoop in on her. I personally slap the cuffs on this treacherous society princess. It seems that Bianca just got the popularity she so desperately wanted

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