Midweek Tease: Hello Again Continued

MWTease15Good morning and welcome to this week’s Midweek Tease, the weekly log hop made possible by Angelica Dawson and a gifted group of writers, all will different styles and genres to entice and entertain you. This is an open blog hop, so, if you would like to be part of it, mention it in  your comments.

Today, I will introduce the third main character in Hello Again,  my paranormal, romance, suspense, based on a Native American myth. Shirley is a feisty old lady who sees far more than most of us can. Enjoy!

HelloAgain-ebook-smallBill stood in front of Shirley’s sod house, trying to talk some sense into the feisty old woman, wondering if perhaps her memory was failing. He was here because of her, dammit, and he needed her to remember that. The storm was getting closer by the minute.

“Listen to me, Shirley,” Bill said, hoping to convince her to put down the shotgun she kept poking in his face. “Emile said you asked for us. He sent me out here to talk to you about that biker gang. You aren’t in any trouble, I swear, but you can’t go around threatening an RCMP officer with a weapon like this.”

“The hell I can’t,” she said, with just enough bravado to make him agree with her. “But, I’m not threatening you, Sergeant.” Her voice was wheezy in the heavy, humid air, but she lowered her shotgun. “I welcome all my visitors this way. An old woman living alone can’t be too careful. Just because you’re driving a fancy police car,” she continued, emphasizing the po, “doesn’t mean you’re who you say you are. No need to talk to me as if my brain’s addled. Now that I’ve seen you, I know exactly why you’re here. Besides, this damn thing isn’t loaded. I emptied both barrels into the air to scare those thieving hoodlums away, but I can’t find the box of shells to reload it. I haven’t used the thing in years. Glad it worked and didn’t blow my fool head off, but those bikers took the bison calf and ripped up my garden something awful.”

Bill looked around the small farm. Shirley’s home, a modernized, one story, sod house, built using large, thick rectangles of prairie grass, covered with wheat-colored stucco for durability, blended seamlessly into the landscape. The tin roof was flat, and someone had painted the metal to prevent corrosion and eliminate glare. The front of the house boasted two windows set deeply into the thick walls. He’d seen a few of these soddies when he’d been stationed near Lloydminster. They were well-insulated and inexpensive, and from the wires running to it, he knew she had electricity. The small building, with the crescent moon cut into its door, on the far left near the back of the house, in front of what appeared to be a small hill, and the water pump on the other side of the house near the garden, suggested she didn’t have running water. The only other building, a ramshackle barn that had seen better days, looked ready to fall in on itself. A large rain barrel on the right side of the house near the garden would collect water from the roof and was most likely used to irrigate the plants, but the garden itself was in bad shape.

The remaining stalks of corn were broken, the squash plants trampled. Green tomatoes mixed with ripening ones on the ground and half the root vegetables had been torn out. This food had probably been intended to supplement her winter diet, and now, most of it was ruined.

Anger burned in his stomach. This place was isolated. Where were the members of her family? Shirley Smoke had been an elder’s wife, was considered a medicine woman, so why wasn’t she being treated with more respect? It was dangerous for her to be alone out here, even if there weren’t any biker gangs terrorizing the area.

Tamping down his ire, he smiled. “You could’ve been seriously hurt,” he continued. Unloaded or not, he still didn’t like having a weapon pointed in his face.

“I was protecting my land and my property,” she said grudgingly. “That bison calf was a symbol of my people and our heritage. Allowed to mature, he’d have sired more of his kind, but to them he was nothing but meat on a spit. I hope they choked on him. Those vegetables were supposed to feed me through the winter. Now what am I going to do?”

“I know you get money from Aboriginal Affairs, Shirley, so don’t play that card with me…”

“There isn’t much left from that check after I pay my bills each month,” she grumbled. “Utilities cost the earth, and with the price of food, there isn’t enough for extras. My widow’s pension barely covers the wages I give the men who harvest my fields for me.”

“What about your children and grandchildren? Can’t they help out?”

“Our daughter, Winona, disappeared thirty five years ago. We had a fight … I thought she’d come back—call at least—but after she left, we never heard from her again.”

Bill swallowed awkwardly. Winona Smoke, Shirley’s runaway daughter, could’ve been his mother. No one knew who’d left the hours-old infant in a basket, wrapped in a woven blanket proclaiming his native ancestry, on the floor of the ER at the Calgary General Hospital, but his hair color and eye color along with his skin tone told its own story. There were few red-haired, green-eyed First Nation people, and despite the blanket, woven in a traditional Sioux design and several years old, none of the local tribes had claimed the child, so he was without status. You needed to know the lineage to claim the title First Nations, and he didn’t. The odds were his mother had been one of the many homeless people who’d found herself in dire straits and had decided giving him away would guarantee him a better life. He didn’t blame her, not really. Sometimes life gave you lemons, and you couldn’t even make lemonade out of them.

He’d been raised as a crown ward, given his name by the doctor who’d found him, and placed in a foster home, but never adopted. He’d stayed with them until he’d aged out of the system. Now, they were both gone, and he was as alone as he’d been as an unwanted infant, as alone as Shirley was. He’d talk to Emile. Surely the council could do something for her, something that would keep her pride intact.

“You should’ve called 9 1 1 and someone would’ve come out here right away,” he said, forcing the uncomfortable thoughts out of his mind and getting back to the topic at hand. “Cattle rustling is a crime as is the destruction of property. We’d have arrested them on the spot.”

Fat raindrops fell on his cap. He’d been so involved with Shirley that he’d forgotten the storm. The heavy, black clouds were almost upon them.

“No time to talk about what I should’ve done now,” she said. “We’ll be safe in the house.”

Lightening split the sky, and Bill followed her inside.

Hello Again, and many of my other books are available to read for free through the Kindle Unlimited Program.

Now, please take a moment to check out the rest of this week’s teasers.

#MidWeekTease September 19, 2018


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Midweek Tease: More from Hello Again

MWTease15Good morning and welcome to this week’s Midweek Tease. After a trio of cold days to remind us of what’s ahead, the heat and humidity are back for a few days–summer’s swan song. Thanks to Angelica Dawson who makes this weekly hop possible.

This morning, by request, I’m posting from Hello Again, my paranormal, romance, suspense, based on a Native American myth. Enjoy.

“Sergeant Murdock,” Emile said. “Superintendent Anderson called and said you were coming. Nice to see you again.” He held out his hand. “Hot enough for you?”

Bill chuckled. “Definitely, but I’ll take it over a miserable freezing January any time. You’re looking well, old friend. I heard you had a little trouble last winter.”

HelloAgain-ebookHe shrugged. “The body wears out before the mind. The doctors in Regina fixed me up and put three stents in my heart, but this old man gets tired, especially in this heat.”

“I’d have thought you’d retire from the council and spend your days fishing with your grandsons.”

“I do that, too,” he said and chuckled, “but today, even the poor fish are having a hard time keeping cool. Besides, Sandra tells me we’re in for a very bad storm, but we’ll be safe here. My wife is right far more often than the weather forecaster in Regina.”

“Well, if that’s true, I’d better get your statement and get the hell back to the city.”

Severe weather like that could wreak havoc, and it was always all men on deck when that happened.

Glancing over at the flower beds in front of the building, their various native plants—including Saskatoon lily—all in bloom, Bill smiled.

“I see your granddaughter’s green thumb at work here.”

“The land speaks to Laurie as it did to my ancestors.” Emile raised his hand and pushed his headdress off his forehead. He motioned to the other men standing around.

Bill didn’t miss their barely suppressed anger, nor the fact that they stared daggers at him.

“You know my fellow chiefs?” Emile asked.

“I do, but something tells me they aren’t happy with me.”

Emile chuckled. “They aren’t happy with me, either. I’ve been an obstinate old man all morning. I’m the one who insists this matter must be handled by the RCMP. Others feel we should take care of it ourselves.”

“Murdock,” Lavallee spoke loudly, his voice filled with anger and frustration. “If you can’t stop those damn bikers, we will, and they’ll face Nakoda justice regardless of their skin color. We won’t let them terrorize our women, hook our children on drugs, or scare off our herds. Those men are evil. Mark my words, people will die.”

The other chiefs nodded their agreement, but didn’t say anything.

“I hear you,” Bill answered, knowing it wouldn’t take much to set off the powder keg caused by the heat and the exasperation Lavallee and the others felt. Hell, he felt it, too. When the biker gangs moved in, they inevitably brought drugs and violence with them. His hand instinctively moved to his chest, and he forced it down before anyone noticed. He’d had one close call with those sons of bitches. He wasn’t looking forward to another.

Want to read more? Hello Again is available on any Amazon site and is free to read with KU! https://www.amazon.com/Hello-Again-Susanne-Matthews-ebook/dp/B01FGN88I6

Don’t miss the rest of this week’s teasers:


 

Midweek Tease: Continuing with Hello Again

Welcome to September and this week’s edition of the Midweek Tease. Thanks to Angelica Dawson and all the wonderful ladies who make this weekly blog hop possible. This morning, I bring you another snippet from Hello Again, my paranormal/suspense/romance based on a Native American legend.

Here’s the blurb:

For Charley Winters love means loss and pain. She’s spent the last five years struggling with her grief. Existing, not living. Drawn to Saskatchewan, she travels west take the job she’s always wanted. But life gets complicated when she’s rescued from a vicious tornado by her dead husband’s double, a man who makes her feel things she hasn’t in years. Add to that a native myth, a shaman, a green-eyed wolf, and her husband’s ghost … Can she lift a millennia old curse and find joy and love again?

And your tease:

HelloAgain-ebook-smallHanging up the phone, Bill Murdock put on his regular day-to-day-uniform, grateful he wouldn’t be melting in Red Serge, tossed his Kevlar vest over his arm—no need for that at the moment … it hadn’t helped him last August anyway—and headed out the door. After visiting his favorite drive through for coffee and a chocolate chip muffin, something he’d become addicted to since the shooting, he pulled into the RCMP parking lot at exactly twenty-five minutes before shift change.

“Murdock, I thought you were on vacation?” Greer, the dispatcher who usually covered his shift, asked.

“I was. I am. I should’ve gone north yesterday, but the guy I was supposed to go with couldn’t get the time off after all. So, since it’s just me … It’s hotter than Hades out there this morning, and it’s not even seven. I was going to go fishing, but even my tough old hide would burn to a crisp in this. Without air conditioning, I’d rather be here.”

“Tough old hide, my ass. You’ve got the sun-bronzed skin of a native god and the abs to match,” she said and chuckled. “Although why you do considering the sweet tooth you’ve developed this past year, is a mystery. But as far as the AC goes, don’t get too excited. There’s a big storm coming in, and we’ve had brown outs twice since I came on at seven last night. We had to turn down the AC so the lights would be bright enough to see. I hate that reduced power even more than a black out—at least then the emergency generator kicks in. I changed shifts with Kellerman, so I’m out of here in an hour. I’m heading to the cottage for the next ten days, where I intend to immerse myself in Lost Mountain Lake as long as I can. You’re welcome to join me.” She batted her eyes at him.

“Yeah, I’m sure that partner of yours would like that.”

“Well, if you change your mind … Lucy and I have a cord of wood that needs to be split and stacked.” She batted her eyes suggestively.

Bill laughed. “Ah ha! The truth comes out. You just want me for my muscles.”

“And they’re damn fine ones. A woman can appreciate roses even if she prefers lilacs.”

He shook his head. “I don’t think I’ve ever been called a rose before. It’s a little hot for that kind of work right now, but once the weather breaks, I’ll take a ride up there and do it for you. Might pitch a tent and do some fishing if that’s okay.”

“And I’ll fry that fish up for you just the way you like it. I’ll get Lucy to bake you a chocolate cake and throw in a case of beer if you’re going to stay.”

“Sounds like a plan. The way to this man’s muscles is definitely through his stomach. I’ll be in touch.”

He waved and headed down the hall.

Kathy Greer was at least twenty years older than he was and as committed to her life partner as he’d ever seen anyone. Lucy had suffered a stroke last winter, but was on the mend. Love was love regardless of gender. It pissed him off when people belittled it. He’d give anything to find the forever kind of love they had, but so far, it wasn’t in the cards for him.

He’d dated, had done the horizontal mambo with some delectable ladies, but he’d yet to find a woman who shared his interests, wouldn’t resent the demands of his job, and could look beyond his hazy background. He’d tried dating another officer, but between shift work and distance, since they couldn’t be in the same detachment, it had been more work than pleasure.

When it came right down to it, women wanted to know everything about their chosen mates, and most women would find it hard to accept the reality of a man who had no idea who his parents were or where he’d come from, let alone one whose job took as much time and involved the level of risk his did, as the scars on his chest and back pointed out.

The most excitement his libido had had in years had been the drug induced hallucinations of the gorgeous brunette he’d seen while he’d been in that coma last August. She might not have been real, but it had certainly felt that way. His body reacted to the memory. The imaginary sex had been out of this world, but it had been more than that—they’d shared a connection of some sort. It was as if he were reliving past life experiences, and since he didn’t buy that mumbo-jumbo…

Want to read more? Hello Again is available from any Amazon site and free to read with KU.

 

#MidWeekTease September 5, 2018


Midweek Tease: Continuing with Same Time Next Year

MWTease15Good morning and welcome to this week’s Midweek Tease, made possible through the generosity of best-selling author Angelica Dawson. This is a great place to gt a taste of an author’s new book or even one from their back-list. I’m continuing with my latest release,  a second chance at love romance, Same Time Next Year. This book within a book is a look back at the summer of 1967, when two people fell in love but were torn apart by circumstances. As Twyla writes her memoirs and Michael remembers the past, will they overcome the obstacles before them and find one another again?

Here’s your tease:

Chapter Two

Same Time Next Year“Mother, you can’t be serious,” Billie all but shouted, glaring at Twyla. She paced the room, wringing her hands hard enough to peel off a layer of her sinfully expensive hand cream. “And when were you going to spring this on me?”

“I’m dead serious,” Twyla said. At the stunned look on her daughter’s face, she amended her words. “I’m committed to this, sweetheart, and nothing you say will change my mind. As far as telling you, I was going to do it on the weekend, after Lana’s graduation. I knew you would get upset.”

“Upset? I’m not upset … I don’t get it. You say you need a break, ‘alone-time’ as you put it, but really? You’re alone most of the time now. This is insane. It’s barely been four months since your surgery. I lost my father twenty-five years ago. I don’t want to lose you.”

Closing her eyes and counting to ten, Twyla took a deep breath. The poor girl had lost her father long before that; she simply didn’t know it. She sighed, praying for the courage to follow through and not cave in again.

Looking into her daughter’s concerned blue gaze, eyes so like his, didn’t make her small show of defiance any easier either, but it did increase her determination to go on with her plans.

“Darling, I love you, but you’re suffocating me. You may think I’m alone, but ever since I got out of the hospital, you’ve spent more time here than when it was your home. You’ve been watching me so closely that I’m beginning to think I should be getting measured for a shroud rather than a dress for Edythe’s big party in September. This is my life, for whatever time I’ve got left, and my heart’s set on going back to The Colonel’s Inn and starting a new book. I’ll only be gone a month.”

“A month! Have you lost your mind? Mom, that place is over a hundred years old. Wouldn’t you prefer something more modern? How safe is it there? You’ll be alone…”

“Billie, for heaven’s sake, relax. I’m not checking into the Bates’ Motel. The place is a popular tourist resort with locks on the doors and windows should some Freddie Kruger wannabe decide he wants to add a woman my age to his casualty list.”

Billie rolled her eyes. “Mother, you aren’t taking this seriously. What happens if you fall or get sick? Who’s going to make sure you get to the hospital on time? Is there even a hospital there?”

Had Billie always been so melodramatic? Strange that she should have so many of William’s characteristics and none of hers.

“They have electricity and everything. I’ll be fine. Caprice thinks it’s a great idea. She’s even offered to come up and check on me.”

“Don’t get me started! Caprice is your agent,” Billie answered through clenched teeth. She huffed out a frustrated breath. “Of course she thinks it’s a great idea. You haven’t written anything in over a year now. Why if you had a relapse while you were writing, she’d seize the opportunity to use it for publicity. You’re her best client. Your books buy those Malone Souliers she’s hooked on, and she isn’t ready to go back to no-name pumps.”

“Don’t be crass, Billie. Caprice isn’t the only one with a fetish for designer shoes. I saw the price tag on those Jimmy Choo’s you ordered last week.” Twyla shook her head. “I didn’t make this decision blindly. I phoned Doctor Rainier and discussed it with him, and he has no issues with it. The resort is just over an hour from Ottawa and one of the best heart institutes in the world. Should there be a problem, and he’s confident there won’t be, I’ll be close enough to get first class medical care.”

Billie harrumphed. “So you say.”

“Just this once, can’t you try to be objective?” Twyla asked, knowing this need to be in charge all the time came from William. “Ontario in the summertime has moderate temperatures and tons of sunshine. My pacemaker is working well, blood is flowing through my stents, and the bypass was a success. In short, I’m as good as new, and if I want to stay this way, I have to be active. You’ve been mollycoddling me long enough. It’s time you got back to interior decorating and living your own life. I appreciate your concern and I love you for it, but you have to let me breathe. I’m only sixty-seven years old. There’s plenty of life in this old girl yet, but if I just sit around waiting to die, that’s exactly what’s going to happen.”

Same Time Next Year is exclusive to Amazon and free to read in KU

Please check out the rest of this week’s teasers!

#MidWeekTease August 22, 2018


 

Midweek Tease: From Same Time Next Year

MWTease15Good morning. Thank you Angelica Dawson for making this blog stop possible each week.

I’m back from vacation out west, but it’s taking time for my body, thanks to Global Warming and Mother nature who seems intent on baking us all this summer, to adjust.  This week, I’m leaving creepy killers bent on revenge behind for  a bit to introduce you to Twyla, the heroine in my newest novel, Same Time Next Year. This is a new venture for me. Here’s the blurb.

Same Time Next YearA novel within a novel.
For three short weeks, Twyla Lancaster was the fairy tale princess who’d found her prince, but just like that, reality ripped them apart. Now, fifty years later, she needs to know why the only man she ever loved broke his promises. As she writes her memoir and learns more about that summer, she realizes things were not what they seemed.
Hormones raced, promises were made, but Twyla left Michael Morrison high and dry, and within weeks, married someone else. Grieving the loss of his parents and her betrayal, he turned his back on love, focusing on his military career. Now, goaded by his sister, he agrees to attend a wedding and reunion, knowing Twyla will be there. It’s time to find out why she lied to him all those years ago.
The moment the star-crossed lovers see one another, love blooms between them, but when Michael discovers Twyla’s secret, he’s devastated. Is love enough to erase fifty years of pain and betrayal? 

Here’s your tease:

Twyla Wilson scaled the last step up to the attic and blew out a relieved sigh, grateful she didn’t have to climb any higher. Who knew having her chest cracked open would take so much out of her. It had been a month since her heart surgery, and while she was getting stronger, right now she had less energy than a newborn kitten.

“Take your time, Grams,” Lana admonished, her voice filled with concern. “I’m not convinced this is a good idea. Despite the sunshine outside, it’s cool up here. If you catch cold and can’t make it to Easter dinner or Mom’s birthday party next week, she’ll kill me. There has to be someone else in Newark with memorabilia from the sixties who can help.”

“Your mother worries too much. I promised Jim Harris I would give the theater group whatever I could find. I don’t break my promises; you know that.”

Except once, and she’d regretted it for the last fifty years. Not that she’d had much choice in the matter. People forgot how few rights or how little freedom a seventeen-year-old girl had in 1967.

“The boxes we’re looking for should be in that corner,” she indicated the far-right side of the room. “The light switch is on your left.”

Light flooded the attic and Lana giggled.

“This has to be the neatest attic in all of Newark. I’ll bet every one of those banker’s boxes is labelled and color coded.”

Twyla chuckled. “I haven’t been up here in years, but Mary cleans and dusts at least once a month. The fact it’s so organized will make getting everything packed up that much easier.” She wouldn’t regret leaving this mausoleum, but she would miss the woman who was more than a housekeeper to her. “Your grandfather was a bit of a pack rat.”

“Like some kind of tidy hoarder?” Lana asked, her head cocked to the side, her brow slightly furrowed. “Well, he was a lot neater than any of the people on that television show.” She crossed the room.

“William probably suffered from a mild, undiagnosed case of obsessive compulsive disorder. Everything had its place. That original Star Trek memorabilia I mentioned to Dillon should be over that way more. Your mother took some of it years ago, but there’s still a lot left.” She indicated the center of the room. Since some of it had been Ethan’s, she hadn’t wanted to part with it, but what difference would it make now?

Don’t lie to yourself, Twyla. That’s not why you kept it.

“Do you want me to carry the boxes over to you? Or do you want to come here?” Lana gestured beside her. “There’s a chair with a blanket on it.”

Twyla smiled, but the corners of her mouth turned down rather than up. William had spent countless hours up here, sitting in that chair, rereading love letters with Asian postmarks, and looking at old photographs. When he’d been too weak to climb the stairs any longer, she’d come up and retrieved his special box. It had been hard on her, but she’d read the letters aloud to him, the least she could do for the man who’d rescued her. After he’d died, as promised, she’d burned them, keeping only the photographs.

“I’m coming over,” she said, injecting what she hoped was enthusiasm into her voice.

Settled in the chair, the blanket wrapped shawl-like around her shoulder, Twyla indicated which boxes to open.

“This one’s full of clothes and cedar,” the girl said, wrinkling her nose. “It’s a little strong, but way better than mothballs.”

“Trent can have that whole box,” Twyla stated. There was nothing in it that she wanted to keep. “He can use what he needs for costumes.”

“Not until I go through it,” Lana argued. “Retro’s all the rage.” She removed a navy pea coat from the top of the box, followed by a few madras plaid shirts, a couple of pairs of bellbottom jeans with floral inserts below the knees, a navy pin-striped suit, and a jacket that looked as if someone had used upholstery material for it.

“Who shot the couch?” Lana snorted and reached for a second box. “OMG! I’m so keeping this one to wear to the prom. Dillon will love it.”

The gown she pulled out of its tissue was the jade green cocktail dress Twyla had purchased on her honeymoon.

“This is gorgeous. It’s a Dior!” Her eyes, so like her grandfather’s, were the size of silver dollars in her animated face. She stood and held her prize in front of her. “My God, do you have any idea how valuable this is? It looks brand new. Did you ever wear it?”

Twyla chuckled. “Only once. Your grandfather and I might’ve eloped, but we did have a formal reception.”

“You eloped?” The girl’s voice climbed two octaves. “That’s so romantic,” she cried, setting the gown aside.

Twyla blinked her eyes. She was so much more emotional these days.

“My mother wasn’t in favor of our marriage. William was twenty-seven and I was only seventeen,” she answered, weighing her words carefully, not sure how much of the truth to reveal. She’d hidden behind lies for so long. “We went to DC where the age of consent was lower. As it turned out, we probably could’ve married at City Hall since the families didn’t contest it. We honeymooned in Paris and had a fancy reception when we returned to Newark. If you want that dress, then by all means keep it. It should fit you, although on me it was mid-ankle. Given your height, it’ll barely reach your knees. I’ve got jewelry to match it, if you’re interested.”

“Definitely,” Lana’s grin split her face. “Let’s see what other treasures you have up here,” she reached into the pile of cartons, committed to the task now.

Twyla smiled. How long had it been since she’d been excited about anything? The heart issues had started last summer, sapping her energy.

Deeming everything else she pulled from various boxes as either too frou-frou or matronly, including the few items of maternity wear Twyla had kept, Lana repackaged each garment she unwrapped.

“Going through someone’s old underwear is just plain yucky, but I’m definitely keeping this,” she said, pulling a multicolored wool, shapeless pouch out of a box filled with Ethan’s old clothes.

Twyla’s heart lurched. She’d thought that bag lost fifty years ago when they’d moved from Hackensack.

“It’s got stuff in it,” Lana said, shaking the old shoulder bag. “I wonder what treasures we’ll find.”

“That was my favorite purse. I’ve often wondered what happened to it. Hand it to me, will you?” Twyla asked softly, trying to control her voice and hide her shock.

With a trembling hand, she unfastened the button flap and opened the bag, revealing all the treasures she’d been certain had ended up in the trash.

Same Time Next Year will be released August 1 and is available for pre-order from all Amazon sites for only 99 cents USD. It will be available through KU, too.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FPWDH1T

Please check out the rest of this week’s teasers.

#MidWeekTease July 25, 2018


 

Midweek Tease: Another Taste of Fire Angel

MWTease15Good morning. Happy Fourth of July to all of those celebrating today. Welcome to this week’s Midweek Tease, made possible by Angelica Dawson. As I prepare to take a couple of weeks off, I leave you with the rest of the opening scene from Fire Angel, Book Two of the Vengeance Is Mine Series.

All of the books in the series are now available from all Amazon stores. 

Cracking open a third bottle of beer, he sipped it, alternating with drags on the cigarette, letting the smoke fill his lungs and the nicotine and alcohol add to the calming effects of the drug he’d taken. His two-pack a day habit was becoming problematic, especially with all the laws against smoking in public places. Hell, soon a man would have nowhere to smoke … not even in his own damn house. The worst taste in the universe—even worse than his mother’s cooking—had to be that nicotine gum he was forced to chew at work to keep his cravings in check.

As the fire burned, the tension within him slowly seeped away. Exhausted, he finished his beer and placed the empty in the back seat with the other two. Taking one last look at what was left of the cabin, he noted the fire beginning to shrink in on itself now that there was nothing new to consume. It would burn a while longer, but he was sated. Drops of rain splattered on the hood of the van. Right on time.

“Soon, darling, soon,” he spoke to the dying flames. “I’ll let you out to play again.”

Putting on his rubber gloves once more, he pulled the cellphone he’d used to set up the buy out of his jacket pocket along with Bandit’s, tossed them on the floor of the jerk’s van, then got in and started the engine. The smoke hung like fog in the darkness. It clung to his hair and to his clothes. He would dump the vehicle, go home, shave, shower, and do a load of laundry. He had to be at work early tomorrow.

* * *

Jake McKenzie dropped onto the sofa. Having the opportunity to prove to himself and others that he was as good as he’d ever been might be rewarding, but it was exhausting, too. After three weeks in a hotel, he was glad to be home, even if home was an apartment attached to an inn.

The flight from Regina to Toronto had been a long one, but the roughest part had been the commuter plane from Toronto to North Bay. The alternative, a flight to Ottawa, wasn’t practical since his sister-in-law would insist on picking him up. Making her drive the more than six hours to the city and back again was a bad idea, especially at this time of the year when the deer and moose were more active. Thank goodness his niece was spending the night at her friend’s house. He couldn’t deal with an exuberant five-year-old right now. The phone rang disturbing the silence of the room.

“Jake,” Minette called from the kitchen. “It’s for you.”

Picking up the receiver on the end table, he frowned. He’d barely been home an hour. Who could possibly be calling on a Thursday night at this time? It was almost nine.

“Hello?” he asked, leaning back on the sofa and propping his leg on the ottoman.

“Jake, it’s Ev Lewis. Sorry to intrude so soon after your arrival. How was Regina?”

Everett Lewis was Paradise’s Chief of Police. He’d been after him for months now to consider doing some freelance profiling for them.

“It was good. With my help, the RCMP arrested a man and closed three files. There are still far too many First Nation’s women missing, and that barely touched the tip of the iceberg, but it’s a start. They offered me a job. I turned them down. Maybe after David gets home and can take care of his family, I’ll consider it, but for now, I’m staying put.”

“That’s good. Listen, I know we’ve been down this road before, and you keep telling me it’s not something you can handle right now, but I really need your help. How much do you know about pyromania and arson?”

He frowned. “As much as any profiler, maybe a little more since arson often goes hand in hand with terrorist attacks.” He’d seen a few examples of that in Afghanistan.

“I think we’ve got one on our hands here, and he’s escalating. There’ve been six fires in a little over a year. The first three could just be coincidence, but my gut says the last three aren’t. Of those, the first one took place June third and the last one between August twenty-third and September fifth. Jake, I’ve tried to keep the wraps on this but there was a body found at that one.”

Damn. That could mean anything from an accidental death to premeditated murder.

“How did you keep Lynette from spreading that little tidbit?” he asked. The feisty redheaded dynamo who ruled the detachment with an iron fist and boxes of homemade cookies kept everyone on their toes, especially the chief. If there was something you wanted to know, all you had to do was ask Lynette. The only thing she couldn’t do was keep a secret, so if you wanted everyone to know something, you told her, and she would take care of the rest. She would’ve made one hell of a town crier.

“She was in Florida visiting her parents when it happened, and I’ve kept most of the information quiet, but others are privy to the news now. Did you see Willard’s article in yesterday’s In the Know?”

Ralph Willard was a self-proclaimed editor whose newspaper was devoted to what he claimed was exposing the truth.

“No. I don’t usually read that crap.” Min probably had one somewhere. Willard made sure to send a few copies to the inn whenever he published a new edition. “Save me the trouble. What’s he got to say this time?”

“He claims these fires are the work of the devil. Not blaming witches and warlocks exactly, and he’s careful not to name names, but he might as well. Apparently, the night of the fire, August thirty-first according to him, there was a rare celestial event—a blue moon. When I asked him where he got his info, he claimed it was an anonymous source, and went on and on about freedom of the press. Jake, the coroner couldn’t be that specific about the date, how could he?”

“Relax, Ev. You don’t know he’s right, do you?” Jake asked, trying to calm the man whose blood pressure had to be way up there. “What difference does knowing the exact date make? It doesn’t change the facts any. There was a fire and a man is dead.”

“I suppose, but you know Willard. Every damn thing he prints has a kernel of truth in it. Other than the son of a bitch who set the fire, who could be his source?”

“I don’t know,” Jake admitted, puzzled by the idea. “Maybe some Good Samaritan saw the fire, but doesn’t want to get personally involved. Think about it. Why would the arsonist want everyone to know the exact date? What’s the point?”

“To prove how dangerous he is? To create fear? Panic? You choose. I checked the calendar. If we accept he’s right and that fire occurred on the thirty-first, then two of the previous ones were on the night of the full moon, too,” Ev continued. “If you have an out-of-the-way place, you could be the next target. I sure as hell don’t believe witches and warlocks are involved, but if the moon means something in all this, then we’ve got just over a week to stop him. He’s got everyone in the department on tenterhooks. I don’t want to find another corpse next weekend when the moon shines bright. I need to know who I’m looking for, and I need to know yesterday.”

Fire Angel is available for only 99 cents USD or can be read free with KU.

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#MidWeekTease July 4, 2018


Midweek Tease: More From the Revised Fire Angel.

MWTease15Happy middle of the week. The cool-cold weather we’ve been having this week is supposed to turn hot, and I can’t wait. There’s something wrong with heating in late June.

Welcome to the Midweek Tease, made possible each week by Angelica Dawson. These past few weeks, I’ve been sharing snippets from my romantic thrillers, and this week, I continue with the opening chapter of Fire Angel, Book Two of the Vengeance Is mine Series.

Blurb:

Fire AngelEverything happens for a reason.
Criminal profiler Jake McKenzie returned from Afghanistan minus a leg, determined never to let anyone get close enough to hurt him again. When his old friend asks him to help with a serial arsonist case, he jumps at the chance to prove his worth, but as the bodies pile up, he realizes he needs help. He convinces the chief to bring in a fire investigator, stunned to discover that the woman is none other than the girl who vanished from his life twenty years ago.
Alexis Michaels fled Paradise and an abusive uncle only to almost die in a fire that left her scarred not only on the outside, but on the inside, leaving her with psychic abilities. With that gift, she’s climbed to the top of her profession. Her abilities may be the only thing that can find and stop the Fire Angel, a pyromaniac turned revenge arsonist serial killer who’s slowly turning a peaceful town into Hell on Earth. The problem is, to do the job, she has to return to the one place where she swore she would never set foot again.
Faced with confusing emotions and a killer who’s made it clear he wants her to stay out of his business, Alexis must deal with the past before she can move on. But things may get too hot even for her as the Fire Angel moves toward the final act in his revenge drama.

This Week’s Tease:

The young man snorted and patted his large beer belly. “No, but I can always make time for what’s important. But I can only have one.”

He chortled. “One’s all it’ll take,” he muttered, his heart pounding with anticipation.

Entering the cabin, he cracked open two bottles of beer, emptied the small vial into one of them, and handed it to the dealer.

“To your health,” he toasted, clanking his bottle against Bandit’s.

“Millhouse Organic. I’ve never tried that,” the dealer said, guzzling half the bottle in one gulp. “Not bad. You must be richer than I thought. Should’ve charged you more.” He tossed the paper bag he’d carried in on the table. “Here’s your stuff. Where’s my money?” He raised the bottle to his lips once more.

“Right over here.”

Before he could take a step, Bandit dropped like a stone.

Stepping over to the fallen man, he kicked him in the ribs as hard as he could.

“That’s for killing my dog,” he said.

Striking the match on the cover, he lit the small angel-shaped candle—there were only six left in the box his wife had purchased for the birthday party that never happened—settled it onto the Styrofoam plate in the center of the tinder he’d placed in the old fireplace, the sulfur filling his nostrils, and dropped the rest of the book of matches on the pile of sticks on the floor in front of it. Like the image on that poster his mother had kept in her room, he was the avenging archangel, his sword aflame, ridding this world of unnecessary vermin.

The candle burned quickly and soon the paper under it caught and then the tinder. The rest of the matches in the book ignited as one. Glancing over his shoulder, he saluted the body on the bed, and moved over to the safe spot he’d created near the door. He wanted to watch the action as long as he could.

“Don’t worry, asshole, you won’t find it cold in here tonight.” He laughed at his own joke. “And your boss won’t lay a hand on you either.”

Wrapping him in the turpentine-soaked blanket and pulling him up onto the bed had been a chore. Would anyone even see the poetic justice of it? A drug dealer, wrapped in a drug-soaked cloth, set alight?

The crackling of the growing blaze filled his ears as the infant fire moved through its tinder. As the flames and smoke increased, it didn’t take long before he heard the sizzle, crackle, and pop from the blaze—music to his ears. The only thing better was the whoosh as the conflagration grabbed the accelerant and lit him up like a torch. It wouldn’t take long before he would be able to hear the boiling of the sap inside the pine logs he’d brought in to help the blaze, but he would have to be outside by then.

It wasn’t only the killing and the sound of the fire that appealed to him. He enjoyed the various scents and aromas from the caustic ones created by the chemicals released as it burned man-made items, to the unmistakable, unforgettable perfume of burning hair and flesh, and finally to the familiar, friendly, nostalgic aroma of apple wood or pine. Each was an aphrodisiac in its own right, but it was the second odor that had him almost creaming his jeans—so much better than animal fur. Man, that bastard’s hair had been long, and he was close enough to get a good whiff of the pungent perfume before it was just a memory.

“Made you nice and comfortable for your trip to hell,” he muttered. “No one’s going to miss your sorry ass. Time for me to go.”

Carrying the beer bottles—he’d poured out what was left of Bandit’s on the floor—he exited the building and walked around it to make sure everything was good. Tonight, he would be the only witness, but soon others could enjoy his handiwork, too.

He pulled a joint out of the paper bag, flicked his Bic to set it alight, and took a deep satisfying pull. He was going to miss this shit when it ran out, but who knew how long that would take? There were several packages of the stuff in the back of Bandit’s vehicle, all of it his for the taking now. There would be some antsy customers and furious suppliers out there, but they weren’t his problem. Let them search for the elusive Mack Holden. They wouldn’t locate him—after all, he didn’t exist anymore—had barely existed back then, but he’d finally come in useful. Finding more of the date rape drug in the stash had been an unexpected bonus. He’d been afraid he would have to drive to Ottawa to score more, and finding a source had been a pain in the ass the last time he’d done it.

Leaning against the hood of the van, left hand tucked into his pants’ pocket, he let the joint dangle from his right as he watched the cabin burn.

The fire raged, and it was hungry. The more it ate, the more it wanted. Too bad Bandit hadn’t felt the bite of the flames as they devoured him. Maybe next time, he would use less of the drug and see what happened.

The roof collapsed as the blaze consumed the shack and its unholy contents. He smiled before taking another deep drag, holding the drug in his lungs as long as possible before exhaling. The blaze mesmerized him with the constant shifting of its multifaceted flames. He appreciated that color and temperature were codependent and knew just how hot things had to get to suit his purposes.

Fire fascinated him. He’d been burned a time or two, but wasn’t that the way with pets? Didn’t they always bite until they were firmly under control? Over the years, after that initial blaze, he’d learned to release its energy in a variety of ways—slowly like a serpent slithering and coiling itself around a branch, waiting for its unsuspecting victim to come within range before crushing the life from it, or quickly, striking like a cobra and claiming its prey swiftly and smoothly. Each method brought its own level of satisfaction. His creation, the essence of what he’d become, of what they’d forced him to become, molded in the image he chose—no rules, no overseers, nothing to hinder him in any way.

Fire was his mistress, a beautiful dancer writhing and gyrating just for him. Every single day, he went through the motions at work waiting until he could be alone with his one true love. She had a mind and personality of her own. Depending on her mood, she could be kind and helpful. At other times, she offered companionship and security, but when unleashed like tonight, she sterilized and destroyed at his command.

He dropped the end of the joint on the ground and reached up to rub the muscles at the back of his neck no longer as tense as they’d been earlier. While he’d like another, he would wait until he got home. He still had work to do. He had to get rid of the vehicle before any one saw it. The bog was the perfect place.

He pulled out his pack of cigarettes and took out another cancer stick as his mother had called them. What the hell did she know? She’d bitched his father into an early grave and blamed him for it, just as she’d blamed Mack’s accident on him, before she’d complained herself into a grave of her own. Too bad he hadn’t been able to build a pyre like this for her. Instead, after a little slicing and dicing, he’d placed her in a trash bag in the ground, under her precious petunias, flowers he made sure he “watered” regularly. Knowing the insects would ravage her was satisfaction enough. She’d always been Polly Perfect, complaining about this and that, threatening to tell people about what she called his illness. Let her go ahead. The worms and beetles wouldn’t listen to her either.

Want to read more? https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DLK8J6Q

In Plain Sight, Book Three of the Vengeance Is Mine Series will be available next week!

Now check out the rest of this week’s teasers.

#MidWeekTease June 27, 2018