Tuesday Tales: From the Word BATTERY

NEW TT BADGEWelcome to this week’s Tuesday Tales. This week’s word prompt is BATTERY. I continue with The White Dahlia. Enjoy! WARNING! IMAGES MAY BE UNSETTLING!

The White Dahlia

“Sergeant Reynolds?”

The woman peeled away from the wall, her spine straightening as she pulled the vestiges of her professionalism around herself like a cloak. She was young for a detective sergeant—or maybe she was just one of those women who hid their age well. Reaching for his outstretched hand, she shook it and released it.

Unexpected energy raced along Al’s nerves at the slight touch. When had shaking a woman’s hand produced a sensation like that?

“I did.” She aimed a battery-powered mini-light at the corpse. “Sorry to drag you out near the end of your shift like this, but I’m pretty sure I’m right. I figured that, despite the shape of the body, you could still ID her for me.”

He nodded. An average of fifteen thousand people went missing each year in the city. While the majority were found within days, others never were. Some wanted it that way, others? Was Sylvia still alive? He didn’t want to give up hope, but the odds weren’t good.

Beth Reynolds indicated the body and the woman beside it. “This is Dr. Michele Smith, one of the city’s new coroners who’s been getting more business from this side of town than anyone likes. Show him what we have, Mitch.”

The coroner stood and moved out of the way, giving him his first clear look at the body.

“Mother of God, what the hell happened to her?”

No wonder Reynolds and the rookie had lost it. He was just about ready to join them. He’d seen floaters pulled out of the Hudson in better shape and less pungent than this one.

Naked, the white girl, an anomaly in this primarily black neighborhood, lay on her back, her eye sockets empty. Beneath the blistering corpse was a pale blue sheet like those he’d seen used in hospitals. No doubt she’d been wrapped in it. Her long blond hair was matted with blood, but given the gaping hole where her internal organs should’ve been and the relatively small amount of blood present, he doubted she’d been killed here.

“She’s been gutted like a fish and then frozen. I can’t tell you for how long yet,” Mitch began. “Whoever did this meant to toss the poor thing into the dumpster now that he no longer needed her, but something stopped him from doing so. The accelerated decomposition is thanks to Mother Nature’s quick thaw method.”

That’s it. Stay safe and don’t forget to check out the other Tuesday Tales.

Tuesday Tales: From the Word WIN

NEW TT BADGEWelcome to this week’s Tuesday Tales. Meet the hero of the piece. The word prompt is WIN.

The White Dahlia

When Al Foster left St. Louis three years ago, he’d hoped he would leave behind the jaded homicide detective he’d become, but that hadn’t been the case. Too many of the missing people he sought ended up dead, murdered at the hands of pimps, johns, and anyone else who had a grudge—and then there were others, like Sylvia, who’d vanished four years ago, leaving no clues behind as to what had happened to her.

Finding his ex-wife had been the reason he’d left his hometown—not that the promotion and higher salary hadn’t been an incentive—but until he discovered what had happened to her, he would never, could never, rest. So far, he hadn’t found any answers. Now, perverse creature that he’d become, he prayed he wouldn’t find any tonight.

Calls to Brownsville, New York City’s deadliest neighborhood, never boded well. Within less than a square mile rose more than one hundred publicly owned apartment buildings, almost nine hundred stories of misery. Good people might live there, but the violence never ended. It was the original no-win scenario. Gangs, dealers, and assorted scumbags were never far away. If you wanted to disappear, it was as good a place as any for some, but others would stick out like sore thumbs. Since he’d been called here at this ungodly hour, the sergeant not giving him any details, the odds were one of his missing persons wouldn’t be making it home for the Columbus Day weekend.

Al pulled his gray sedan to the curb and turned off the engine. It was almost five, still dark out, but soon the sun’s glow would brighten the Eastern horizon. Already the humidity had the air feeling well over eighty. The weather station had issued another heat advisory. The temperature could climb above one hundred and four again today. Not good news for the people living here, many of them without so much as a fan to cool down. He liked the warm weather as much as the next guy, but enough was enough. By now, he’d expected cool autumn air. Tempers flared when the mercury rose. Was this morning’s victim an example of that? Had he or she pissed off the wrong person and paid the ultimate price?

That’s it. Stay safe and don’t forget to check out the other Tuesday Tales.

Tuesday Tales: From the Word SKINNY

NEW TT BADGEIt’s time for another round of Tuesday Tales, brought to you today by the word prompt SKINNY.  I’m continuing with The White Dahlia. Enjoy.

The White Dahlia

“Whoa!” Her eyes watered. If she worked too many of these cases, it would be a cinch getting into those skinny-assed jeans of hers. Who could eat after smelling this?

It wasn’t that the aroma of decay was new to Beth, but she usually got to the bodies when they were fresh kills. The last time she’d smelled something like this had been in Boston, but even there, the cloying scent of lilies had masked some of it. How long had this one been here? Why hadn’t someone noticed the stench earlier? Nearing the body, she pinched her nose.

The corpse lay on its side on a metal dolly. So, not a child’s toy as she’d assumed but a means of moving the cadaver. Most likely this was a murder, and Riley had been right to requests someone from Homicide. The dolly implied a body dump. Someone had been interrupted and had taken off leaving everything behind. With a little luck, he or she had left fingerprints and DNA as well.

“Hi, Mitch. Sorry you got dragged out of bed at this unholy hour. What have we got?” The pinched nose didn’t help with the scent, but gave her voice a nasal quality.

“Not a winner, that’s for sure.” The young doctor shook her head. “All bad. The last time I saw anything like this was the first case I worked with Amos Flynn and even then … This is definitely one for the books. God, I hope it’ll be the only one.” The coroner shook her head, her lips pursed tightly.

Beth looked down at the naked corpse on her side, the flaccid, marbled skin, showing signs of slippage. There was an unusual tattoo on her left shoulder, hard to see given the body’s color, but unmistakable. Was that a name under it?

“I’ve seen that tat before,” she mumbled. “Yes!” The pieces fell into place. “She was in the missing persons’ report I looked through earlier.”

The poor girl must’ve gotten involved in the sex trade and pissed off her pimp. Why did so many of them end up dead before anyone could rescue them?

She squinted. “Is that a brand on her ass? It looks like a horseshoe.”

Mitch bent and examined it more closely.

“It’s not a tattoo … Could be a brand … Some pimps stamp their whores. I’ve seen stars, crescent moons, but never anything quite like this. There’s a number under it.” She peered closer. “Looks like an eight.”

Beth shuddered. Eight could well mean seven before. How many after?

That’s it. Stay safe and don’t forget to check out the other Tuesday Tales.

Tuesday tales: From a Picture

NEW TT BADGEThey say a picture is worth a thousand words. In Tuesday tales, it’s worth 300. Welcome to this week’s edition of Tuesday Tales. I;m continuing with The White Dahlia. Here’s the image I chose. Enjoy!


Blocking off the alley was Officer Chou’s suggestion. People were coming around. We didn’t want gawkers. Whatever did that isn’t human.”

If any of the yellow journalist got wind of this, they would be down on them in no time, and the tabloids would have a field day. Werewolf in NYC wouldn’t be what the Commissioner wanted either—not with a full moon this weekend. God alone knew how many drunks might get shot, mistaken for one supernatural creature or another.

She and Riley moved aside for the coroner’s car. The van wouldn’t be far behind. The window came down. Apparently Mitch Smith, the new kid on the block so to speak, had drawn the short straw. Beth had worked with her briefly before leaving Boston.

“Evening or should I say morning, Sergeant. Where’s the body, not that I can’t smell it.”

Beth nodded her response to the greeting, then turned to Riley and canted her head to the left. Lane ways between tenement blocks in this part of the city usually stunk to high heaven—one reason why there weren’t any windows on the lower floors—and the hot spell wasn’t helping.

“Between the second and third dumpster down. You can’t miss it,” Riley said.

“See you there.” Mitch raised the window and drove down the alley.

“It’s as if some wild animal went after her,” Riley continued.

Beth frowned and shook her head. “Whatever you do, don’t repeat that. We have enough crazies in the area, and the damn press can sniff out weird stories. Whatever this is, we don’t want it to make the morning news. Right now, until we know any different, this is simply a body found by a dumpster. It may not even be a crime scene.

That’s it. Stay safe and don’t forget to check out the other Tuesday Tales.

Tuesday Tales:From the Word LONELY

NEW TT BADGEWelcome to September. When I was teaching, I always saw this date as the end of my vacation. Now that I’m retired, it’s just the start of a month with more of the same. This week’s Tuesday Tales is based on the word LONELY. Today, more than ever, people are isolated, alone, and lonely. I continue with The White Dahlia.


The White Dahlia

Given the time of night—or day—traffic was light. Beth reached her destination within ten minutes. A dozen people stood within a few yards of a sanitation truck up on the sidewalk, blocking the alley. Why were they even here? It was true that New York was billed as the city that never slept, but seriously, these ghouls should be in bed.

She shuddered. Hadn’t it been the same in Boston? The possibility of a fresh kill always drew the wraiths and vultures, people who got off on the misery of others, lonely souls who relished someone else’s worst luck. This person might’ve been murdered, but whether they had or not, they deserved some sympathy and respect.

Someone had to move that truck for the medical examiner’s van to get by—assuming the truck hadn’t hit someone dumpster diving for a late night snack.

After flashing her badge at the uniformed officer and the sanitation men standing with him, she scowled. They were pale, but given the intense aroma, she could understand why. Decomposing flesh was hard to mistake for anything else, but mixed with garbage like this, even her own stomach rebelled, reminded of previous gruesome acts. Glancing around, she couldn’t see Riley’s training officer. Where was Chou? It was her job to secure the scene.

“Sergeant Reynolds, Homicide. And you are?”

“Phil Carmichael and Gus Hernandez.” The shorter of the two men answered. “Gus is legal but his English ain’t as good as mine.”

“I see.” She pulled a small black notebook and pen out of the fanny pack she wore at her side, flipped the cover open and wrote down the names as well as the sanitation truck’s license plate and number. “Who’s got the keys to this thing?”

“I do, signora,” the taller of the two men answered.

“Did you hit the person?” Was that why the truck blocked the alley?

Madre de Dios, no. We found her here,” he struggled to speak English.

“I’ll take your cellphones.”


The men handed over their cellphones without argument. Glancing through the photos, recent texts, and social media posts, she verified they hadn’t taken any pictures—if there was anything really to take a photograph of—and handed the devices back.

“Don’t talk to anyone about what you found,” she ordered. “Pull the vehicle over there.” She indicated the curb a few feet away.

That’s it. Stay safe and don’t forget to check out the other Tuesday Tales.

Tuesday Tales: From the Word BARK

NEW TT BADGEWelcome to another Tuesday Tales. This week, the last one of August, gives us another look at The White Dahlia.  Fear is an odd thing. Some people go to movies to be frightened. I don’t. My imagination can come up with tons of scary stuff all by itself. This week’s post is based on the word BARK. Enjoy.

The White DahliaMorelli, never one to keep his big foot out of his even bigger mouth,  a man whose bark was worse than his bite, claimed she was either damn lucky or cursed. Even she had trouble trying to decide which one it was. She thought of the three dahlias—one for Colin, one for Saul, and one for Ben—three partners she’d lost. The last thing she wanted to do was add to the bouquet.

Killing a man was easier in simulations and training exercises than it was in real life. During her ten years on the force in Boston, including two seconded to the FBI, she’d never been injured nor had she fired her weapon in the line of duty. Five years in New York, and she’d been shot twice, had wounded one man, and had killed another. That didn’t bode well for the future.

While it was true she hadn’t initiated the first deadly conflict, she didn’t really know who was to blame for the second. The scene replayed itself every time she closed her eyes—another reason why she couldn’t sleep. They’d been like gunslingers in an old Western movie, her screaming at him to drop his weapon as Ben bled out at her feet, while the punk had cursed her, his eyes filled with hatred, his mouth spewing soul-destroying venom. He’d pulled the trigger once, twice, three times, or had it been four or more? She couldn’t recall. One of the missed shots had winged a tree, stinging bark reminding her that her head was unprotected, but the vest had shielded her heart.

The elevator dinged, and Beth stepped into the car, pushing the button for the garage level. Grabbing a set of keys from the night watchmen, she headed toward the dark blue SUV, mindful of the fact she was heading to an active crime scene unarmed. She would be lucky if Lieutenant Harris didn’t rip her head off for this, but honestly, one more day of nothing but paperwork, and she would scream. Maybe Papa Tom was right and it was time to move on—again. But running away from Boston hadn’t solved anything. There were some things that followed you wherever you went, and fear was one of them.

That’s it. Stay safe and don’t forget to check out the other Tuesday Tales.


Tuesday Tales: From the Word SLOWLY

NEW TT BADGEWow. Mid-August. Is there any normalcy yet? Welcome to this week’s Tuesday Tales based on the word prompt SLOWLY I continue with The White Dahlia.

Animal control had verified the presence of a couple of dozen coywolves, a coyote-wolf The White Dahliahybrid, in that area last spring. Maybe the animals had decided to move to Brooklyn. Why not? It seemed all the other predators had.

“What about his T O? Does she think this is a homicide, too?”

“I didn’t speak to Officer Chou. The original call came from a sanitation worker. They’re on site, and Riley’s secured the area with their help.”

Beth glanced around the empty squad room, as if doing so could make people appear. It was just after four. Much as she might like to, she couldn’t ignore the call and pass the case off to the day shift—those sanitation workers and that squad car couldn’t wait another four hours for an answer, not if there was a child involved. Hopefully, the scene wouldn’t be as bad as Kara implied. She’d seen terrible things in Boston and had no desire to go there again.

People would be getting up soon, making the crime scene harder to secure. If this was murder, the perp was long gone. Besides, with a patrol car there, she wouldn’t be alone—a moot point—but if she needed to justify herself, it was all she had. She could survey the scene, fill in the initial reports, and hand the case off to whatever squad it belonged to before she packed it in for the night. Easy-peasy. What could possibly go wrong? Exhaling slowly, she sighed.

“Fine. I’ll take a look. Let Riley know I’m on my way.”

“Thanks, Sergeant. Will do.” She paused once more. “He isn’t really a hothead. Some of those zombies were extremely well done.”

Beth sneered. “Yeah, but you have to believe in that crap to let it get to you. There are plenty of real monsters in this world. We don’t have to invent others. If an emergency call comes in, you’ve got my cell number.”

“I have. Thanks again.”

Beth hung up and automatically opened her bottom drawer to retrieve her gun. “Crap!”

She wouldn’t get her weapons back until she was cleared for full duty. While she’d requalified on the shooting range two days ago, she wasn’t scheduled to meet with the shrink until later this afternoon. Was it ethical to lie to a psychiatrist? Probably not, but she was prepared to try if it meant getting her old job back and adding some semblance of normalcy to her life.

That’s it. Stay safe and don’t forget to check out the other Tuesday Tales.

Happy Book Birthday! Sweet and Sassy Summertime 2 Now available in Kindle Unlimited.

Don’t you love birthdays? Today I have another book birthday. Sweet & Sassy Summertime 2 is now available from Amazon for only 99 cents USD, or free to read in Kindle Unlimited.

Sweet and Sassy Summertime

So what do you get for your buck? How about this?

SEVEN SWEET AND SASSY STORIES of SUMMER From International USA Today Bestselling, Award-Winning Authors.


Days filled with lemon yellow sunshine, nights of velvety warmth… summertime is the season of love. Romantic tales filled with memorable characters, these seven binge-worthy books will sweep you away like a summer breeze.


STILL WATERS: Alyssa Bailey, USA Today Bestselling Author: When city ideals meet country tradition, the summer heat is the least of their worries.


WEDDING BELL BLUES: Susanne Mathews, International Bestselling Author: The wedding may be canceled, but the honeymoon’s on!


MAEVE: Josie Riviera, USA Today Bestselling Author: He’s all business. She loves to laugh. When business conflicts with pleasure, what could possibly go wrong?


LISA: Denise Devine, USA Today Bestselling Author: When Lisa’s life crashes, she returns to Enchanted Island. Is true love waiting in this idyllic place from her childhood?


HOPE: Aileen Fish, USA Today Bestselling Author: Will Always Hopeful find her Sir Galahad?


JUDE: Taylor Lee, USA Today Bestselling Author: An arrogant, go-it-alone homicide detective and a quirky intelligence analyst team up to solve a murder during the Summer Solstice Celebration.


LADY IN DISTRESS: Katy Walters, USA Today Bestselling Author: Could he protect her, would she continue refusing him? Little does he realize the height of passion, or the depth of terror that lay before them.

Sweet and Sassy meme2

Here’s a bit more about my book, Wedding Bell Blues!

WBB final coverRomance, mermaids, cursed treasure, and more.
MJ’s having a bad year. She’s canceled her wedding, but refuses to give up the honeymoon. When she arrives on Paradise Island, she discovers her ex has changed the reservation. Stranded, she has to rely on her first love, a man who sees her as his kid sister, for help. When Paul discovers the man behind her plight is the bully who made his own teen years hell, he gets MJ to agree to pretend to be his fiancée. Reluctantly, she agrees. Add in mermaids, treasure hunters, and Quimbois magic, and anything can happen—even falling in love.

Get your copy of Sweet & Sassy Summertime 2 featuring Wedding Bell Blues today!

Tuesday Tales: Picture Time!

NEW TT BADGEWelcome to this week’s Tuesday Tales. I’m continuing with The White Dahlia. Did you know that dahlias  symbolize, among other things inner strength, change, and dignity, all qualities Beth will need to get out of this plot alive.

Here’s the photo I chose.NY Skyline



The White Dahlia“Reynolds, Homicide.” She choked back a squeal as coffee dribbled across the back of her hand and set the cup down, using tissue to mop up the mess on her desk.

“Sergeant, this is Kara on switchboard again. It’s been a busy night, hasn’t it? This kind of heat just makes people bat-shit crazy. Apparently 9 1 1 has been lit up like a Christmas tree with everything from alarm failures to UFO sightings.”

The dispatcher’s voice conveyed her tiredness.

“I can just imagine. So what have you got for me this time? Another domestic gone bad?”

Beth sipped the hot coffee, hoping the caffeine would rouse her. There were still four hours to go before the day shift arrived. Maybe whatever this was could be checked by a patrol car. Not every dead body found in the district belonged to Homicide. It could be a case for Special Victims, Gangs, or Major Crimes. Hell, it might just be an overdose and Narcotics could look after it.

“Wish I knew.” Kara sighed heavily, her voice filled with concern.

Beth frowned. Since when did dispatch not know why they were calling? Since she’d been here, Kara had always been level headed and on the ball.

“I got a call twenty minutes ago from a 9 1 1 operator about a body near a dumpster off Blake Street between Osborne and Rockaway.” She paused and exhaled heavily. “The man claimed wolves had attacked someone.”

Righting the vase she’d knocked over, Beth choked on the hot brew. Bat-shit crazy might well be the right term for this caller.

“Seriously?” She rolled her eyes. And it was only September, even if they were caught in a heat wave. “Wolves in Brooklyn? I suppose the man claimed they were werewolves, too? The moon won’t be full until Sunday. He’s ahead of himself.”

That’s it. Stay safe and don’t forget to check out the other Tuesday Tales.

Now available in Kindle Unlimited!

#1 new release

Yesterday was the official release day for Unforgettable Sweethearts. Now you can buy the box set or read it through Kindle Unlimited.

This box set has something for everyone, all with incredible couples destined to be together. The book I have in the set is The Captain’s Promise, a historical novel full of intrigue, spies, and there’s even a sea battle. But most of all, there’s a love that transcends time and social status.

Here’s a taste:

“My father has purchased a commission for me. I leave for Marseilles in the morning to join my regiment. There’s been some trouble in the East, and we’ve been dispatched to take care of it. I don’t know when we’ll be back—perhaps a year, maybe more.”

She looked at him as if he’d struck her, all color seeping from her cheeks. Her titian hair framed the alabaster oval of her face, engraving it on his memory.

“No, Etienne, no,” she cried, jumping up, wringing her hands in agitation. “You can’t do this! Tell me you’re playing a prank on me like you used to do. Why do you have to join the army? Why go fight the Turks? What about all the plans we made?” she wailed, tears coursing down her cheeks. “You’ll be killed. How will I go on without you? You’re everything to me.”

Stunned by the fierceness of her emotions and her tears, he stood and reached for her, pulling her into his arms, holding her as the sobs racked her body. The words were the sweetest he’d ever heard, and yet, they opened a gaping wound in his heart which might never heal.

Mon amie, you’re speaking nonsense, and you know it,” he whispered into her hair. He held her close, at first tenderly, and then with the desperation of a man holding the woman he wanted and needed, but knew he could never have.

“Elle, you know all the grand plans we discussed were just impossible childish dreams. We’re adults now, not children. Look at you. You’re the daughter of a count. I’m the third son of a minor noble—I’ve no title, no fortune, and now I’m a soldier. A lieutenant isn’t always in the midst of the battle. I’ll be safe enough. I’ve no intention of finding myself in an infidel’s prison or an early grave.”

She trembled at his words, but raised her head, her gaze fixing his.

“Promise me you’ll come back to me, Etienne; you’re a man of your word.” Her cheeks were wet, her lips trembled, and her body quaked. “If you say that you’ll come back, then I know I can hold you to your promise.”

“I’ll come back; you have my word,” he said, knowing that it could be many years before he could do so.

Thinking of the oath he’d sworn to her father moments earlier, shook him. Was he doomed to betray his honor to them both? He couldn’t predict the future, and many soldiers did die in battle, some of them officers like himself. Only God knew if he could keep this promise.

Consoling himself with the knowledge that she would understand one day, forgive him, and in time, forget him, he continued to hold her as she wept for her lost dreams of adventure. But he would never forget her. She would haunt him for the rest of his life, and this promise, one he might never be able to keep, would damn him to the fires of everlasting Hell.

He cradled her in his arms, gently rubbing small circles on her back, his chest painfully aware of her young, firm breasts pressing into it. She lifted her arms and looped them around his neck, resting her head on his shoulder. He tried to move away from her, but she refused to release her hold. His rigid erection, pressed against the stomacher beneath her gown, was bittersweet agony. He crooned words meant to soothe, bent to kiss the top of her head, but she raised hers, so that his lips met her brow. It was his undoing.

He couldn’t fight his sudden need for her. He lavished delicate kisses on her face, tasting her tears, his lips trailing down the curve of her neck to her shoulders. Her skin was silky, sweeter than the sweetest honey, and smelled of the floral soap and scent she used. He raised his head and sought her lips, softly, delicately, and then with a purpose, like a starving man finally being fed.

He ran the tip of his tongue over her moist lips, and although untutored in the ways of the world, her mouth instinctively opened to him like a morning glory welcoming the sun. His tongue probed the sweet depths, tasting, wanting more, and devouring what was offered to him.

Danielle’s response to his kiss aroused him beyond the ability to think rationally. His hands left her back to travel along the side of her rib cage to cup the fullness of her breasts straining against her gown. He tore his lips from hers, and transferred them to the flesh above the lacy edge of her dress where he lovingly rained kisses on her mounds. She moaned and threw her head back giving him greater access.

With trembling fingers, he slid the dress lower, exposing her to his hungry gaze. Her mounds were swollen by her response; the dark pink nipples erect, waiting for his touch. He tenderly kneaded her breasts, eliciting a series of soft moans from her. His mouth replaced his hands as he suckled, causing her to whimper with need. He moved his hand lower rucking her skirt as he sought the hem of her dress.

“Mademoiselle Danielle?”

The sound of someone calling her name dragged him back to reality.

Mon Dieu! What have I done?

He looked at her, and couldn’t ignore the evidence of his lust. Her lips, swollen by the assault of his kisses, were slightly parted, and her dress continued to expose her breasts. In her glazed eyes, he saw wonder and hunger, and he recognized he’d done this to her. He’d taken her innocence, treated her like a trollop, and damned himself. Was this how he honored his promise to her father? He needed to protect her from the eyes of others.

Knowing she was too innocent to realize and understand what her eager response had done to him was cold comfort. With every scrap of decency he had left, he pulled her deeper into the shadows of the arbor, using his body to shield her from prying eyes, although the evidence of his hunger wouldn’t be hidden so easily.

When he was sure the servant had moved on, he turned to help her, but she’d already done what she could to put herself in order. He fought the urge to take her into his arms again, but the look on her face was almost more than he could bear. Tears streamed down her cheeks—tears of shame, tears of need, tears of accusation—tears he’d caused with his boorish and careless behavior.

“You can’t leave me now, Etienne, not after this. You love me. I know you do, just as I love you,” she accused, the words stabbing him as she uttered them. “You can’t leave me now!”

He didn’t look at her; he hung his head. “I’m sorry, Elle. I should never have touched you. I hope someday that you can forgive me. I’ll never forgive myself.”

Without another word, he left her in the arbor, fleeing the manor as if the Hounds of Hell were after him. Just as he reached the stables, a servant waylaid him, as if the man had known he would be there.

“Lieutenant Blouin.” The man spoke softly. “The Comte de Cherbourg asked me to give you this before you left.” He handed Etienne a note.

He opened it. Written on the paper were three words: Remember your promise. Etienne crumpled the message in his hand, mounted his horse, and rode away from the manor, guilt and shame spurring him on.


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