Special Blackout Excerpt!

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Luke

 

New York whirled around us, people bustling to get to where they were going. JFK had been packed, but we managed to hail a cab and get ourselves to the loft in Manhattan, where we would be staying. It was easy to get to Theatre Row, our undercover location, from the high-rise building. Our backstory was simple. Rae and I were from a company out in California, and we were looking to move to New York. We wanted to try out a couple locations before deciding to make a permanent decision.

Rae insisted we maintain that we were friends, so as to avoid complications. Hell, our friendship was complicated already after New Orleans, but whatever made her feel comfortable. I flung down my bag on the queen bed in the sparsely furnished room. The Bureau made sure we had the necessities, so that was nice.

“There’s a tech meeting at the theatre tonight.” Rae leaned on the doorframe with a sigh. “Certainly not the Ritz, huh?”

I chuckled. “Nope, but it works. You okay?”

She raised and lowered a shoulder. “Usual zone. Feeling more uneasy about this one than I was when Madame Evangeline was telling my future.”

I had to admit, I missed Sabine’s grandmother. I missed New Orleans. I missed…well, I missed holding and kissing Rae. “Heh.”

“Should we get something to eat first? I’m sure there’s a pizza place.”

I loved how Rae knew when to break obvious building tension. “Order in?”

She smiled and walked to the olive green kitchen. “Geez, you’d think they’d make some decorating changes since the 70s.” She thumbed through a stack of takeout brochures by the fridge, settling on one and placing an order for a large pepperoni pizza and a bottle of Coke. I hated this on duty crap. Pizza and Coke just wasn’t the same.

I slumped into the sofa, sinking into the middle. Clearly they were trying to keep us in the façade that we were struggling theatre people. “Damn,” I groaned, adjusting my position. “Hey, Rae, wanna experience true torture?”

Rae laughed, crossing her arms and watching me shift uncomfortably. “Nope, I’m good.”

“Aww, come on. Cuddle up with me on the couch of death.” I patted the empty spot.

She huffed and walked over, sitting down with a small scream. “What is this? I think a spring just poked me. Undercover, or not, we’re replacing this monstrosity tomorrow.”

“And that’s why I love you, Rae.” As soon as the words left my mouth, I coughed, realizing what could be implied. “I mean, in the platonic sense. Hey, let’s see what’s on TV.” I grabbed the remote from the side table drawer and turned on the old set, my heart longing for my flat screen at home. I found an old Friends episode, and we lapsed into uncomfortable silence. Shit, I thought. You sure put your foot in it this time, Thompson. But, I did love her. Maybe this time around she’d finally let me in.


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Catching Up! Plus a BRAND NEW Blackout teaser!

Hi everyone!

I know most of my recent blog entries have been promoting others, but I’m going to take a moment to catch everyone up on some of the things coming up for me!

First of all, Bitter Bonds is DONE! Yay! It’s off to the editor *bites nails* and then it will be released on Friday, May 13th (spooooooky!). It is currently up for PREORDER at 99 cents/99p for the duration of release week, and then it will go up in price, so grab a copy while you can!

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Next, I’ve just started sign-ups for my NEWSLETTER! *puts on her big girl author pants* When you sign up, you get a FREE copy of Hubris, Luke’s Story, AND when I send out my first newsletter, I’ll be giving away a signed copy of The Fairest of Them in paperback with the shiny new cover! Squee!

Hubris blurb teaser


Finally, I’m working on Blackout, the next (and possibly final) Rae Hatting novel! I know, I know, sad times, but I want to move on to some other crime novels with new, awesome heroines. I know it’s a long wait, but Blackout will be out this October. I would have had it sooner, but…I’m going to California for three weeks in July and I plan to do NOTHING!

Blurb:

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely…dead.

Reeling from their time in New Orleans, all Special Agents Rae Hatting and Luke Thompson want to do is recover, and try to understand their budding attraction. However, there is no rest for the weary. New York calls this time, with an incipient serial killer enacting horrible vengeance on the thespian community. As bodies drop onstage, audiences are none the wiser that they are witnessing murder. Will Rae and Luke discover the culprit, before it’s ‘curtain down’?

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So, as always, happy reading, please sign-up for the newsletter, and I can’t wait to share Bitter Bonds with you all!

Bitter Bonds Excerpt

A sneak preview of my upcoming historical romance. Enjoy!


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Chapter One

May, 1834

Jefferson Parish, Louisiana

“A commoner? Father, you do realize our family can be traced back to the echelons of European royalty? You still correspond with relatives in England and France.” Francine Beaumont was hardly ready to lay down her virginity for a man who bought his way into high society.

“What a despicable thing to say about a man you do not know. Besides, he can offer you a large plantation, slaves, and wealth. We are faltering, my dear. Certainly you have seen how household expenses have been cut in the past year,” Lord Arnaud Beaumont admonished his eldest daughter.

Francine had spurned nearly every suitor placed in her path, but now it was time to marry off the bane of his existence. How had something so vicious spawned from such a gentle-born woman as Francine’s mother? If only she were living now. Perhaps genial Marie would have been able to calm their daughter’s ire.

“It is tantamount to selling me off to the highest bidder, Papa!” Francine attempted to use the childhood endearment so often uttered by her much more pliable sister.

“The matter is settled!” Lord Beaumont pounded his fist on the top of the polished desk, causing Francine to flee the room in tears, past her younger sister, Adrienne. She watched the retreating form of Francine for a few moments before creeping into her father’s study.

Arnaud was relieved to see his sweet, patient daughter appear in the doorway. Her pleasant face was encircled with golden ringlets, her clear, blue eyes full of love and concern. Adrienne, his pride and joy, so much like her mother in every way, would never have protested an arranged marriage. She would have considered it her honor, and duty, to oblige. She was the opposite in every way to her tantruming sister.

“Papa, you mustn’t let Francine trouble you. Remember your constitution…” Adrienne had always been aware of the troubles plaguing her father. They had caused him to suffer horribly with stomach pains, only recently diagnosed as ulcerous. She knew Francine had no idea, nor would she care.

Ma petite, you are too kind. If only it were you who Henri Du Cormier sought.”

Seventeen-year old Adrienne was already well-versed in the matters of arranged marriage, knowing though she had more chance of marrying for love than her titled, elder sister. Francine looked upon Adrienne with contempt, envying her freedom, however minute.

“Papa, if I could, I would gladly take her place. Why does Monsieur Du Cormier seek a bride with a title? Surely such things do not matter here anymore.” Louisiana was a part of the United States. The French Revolution had dispatched with the monarchy, and the British held no control over them. Titles were obsolete relics of the past.

Arnaud rubbed the bridge of his nose, removing his silver-rimmed spectacles, and closing his doleful chocolate brown eyes. His greying, dark brown hair only betrayed his age. “I wish I knew, ma petite. He came into this money suddenly, only able to buy St. Esprit through sheer luck! I wish it were different. My title, therefore Francine’s, is useless.”

Adrienne crossed the room, kneeling at her father’s side, no care that she wrinkled her carefully pressed silk gown. “Mayhap we could speak to him? Surely he would not want such a wife as Francine, once he sees her ways.”

“Francine would never disgrace herself by behaving poorly at a public function, especially with the height of society attending.” Arnaud shuffled some papers aside. “It would alleviate my anguish greatly if you were to find a husband, someone to make you completely happy beyond your wildest dreams.”

Smiling warmly, Adrienne gazed up at her mother’s portrait above the fireplace. Her mother, Marie, was captured in the prime of youth and beauty. She saw her mother’s features in herself, knowing this was why her father favored her so. “You mean like how you were with Mama?”

Arnaud lifted his gaze, peering up at his beloved. They had grown up in a tumultuous world in pre-revolutionary France, hiding their aristocratic upbringing. When Arnaud had prospered in the shipping business, the young couple made their way to the French owned Louisiana territory. How they celebrated when the United States bought it, knowing their daughters would grow up in a free country.

Adrienne was three when their mother passed away from consumption. She vaguely remembered the tender-hearted woman who soothed her nightmares with soft, French lullabies. Often, her dreams were full of the music, as she twirled her small fingers into the woman’s blonde ringlets. She felt cheated not to have spent more time with her mother, but guilty for those feelings at the same time.

Finally, Arnaud spoke, “Yes, like how I was with Mama. I wish she were here. She had a way with Francine. Francine would throw the most violent tantrums, sending nannies and maids running from the nursery. Marie walked in, composed, and quieted the storm.”

Before melancholy could descend over the pair, Adrienne changed the subject. “Helene says everything is prepared for this evening. All the silver is polished, and the ballroom floor has been swept and cleaned. She wanted me to ask your approval on the canapés for the hors d’oeuvres.”

Patting his daughter’s hand, Arnaud left the final touches to Adrienne. “I am sure what you decide will be scrumptious. Is she preparing a full course meal, or a buffet?”

“I believe she thought it best to provide guests with titbits of food right in the ballroom. It’s very new-fangled. I believe I will ask for the salmon and dill. It is my favorite, after all.” Adrienne rose, brushing the fabric of her pale pink dress.

“I leave it all in your more than capable care, ma petite. Now, hurry along and reassure Helene. I am sure she will be beside herself, wondering what my decision shall be.” Arnaud winked and stood, placing a doting kiss on his daughter’s brow.

“I will, Papa.” Adrienne exited the room in a rustle of skirts, her heels clicking delicately on the wooden floor.

Arnaud sat down again, pressing his hand to his stomach to find some relief from the gurgling sensation building there. He slid open a drawer in his desk, and took a dose of the prescribed laudanum. Reclining back in the chair, he waited for the pain to recede, praying to his long silent God that Francine would do something for the family, for once in her life.

~

“Helene?” Adrienne poked her head into the kitchen, breathing in the smell of freshly baked honey bread. “Mmmm!” She crept over to the place where the bread was cooling and reached to break off a chunk.

“Mademoiselle Adrienne! That is for the midday meal! I have a fresh pot of stew bubblin’ away.” Helene bustled from the pantry, wiping her hands on her worn apron.

Snatching her hand back, Adrienne smiled warmly at the old cook. Helene had been there as long as she could remember, with her kind, brown eyes and work-worn features; always stern but kind. “I am sorry, Helene. Papa asked me to come down and say the salmon and dill will be fine for the canapés.”

“Well, it’s about time! I’ve been frettin’ for hours! Now, shoo. You’ll want to have a rest before the guests descend on us like a holy plague!” Helene ushered Adrienne out of the kitchen, but not before slipping a fresh, honey bread roll into her hand. “Don’t you say I’m never good to you, missy!” Her eyes crinkled as she smiled.

Adrienne felt the warm confection in her hand and ascended the stairs, only to be met at the top by Francine, green eyes red-rimmed from her heart-wrenching sobs. “What were you doing down there?”

“I was delivering a message from Father about the hors d’oeuvres for tonight,” Adrienne spoke carefully, knowing her sister was quick to anger. She still felt the sting of many hair pulls from their childhood. She secreted her prize in the folds of her skirt with subtle movements, knowing Francine would steal it, if given the chance.

“Tonight? You mean the evening where my life comes to an end? Where I am forced to marry a man I know nothing about?” Francine, ever the expert in dramatics, slumped delicately against the wall.

Drawing in a shaky breath, Adrienne strove to soothe her sister. “Have you met him yet? Perhaps he is devastatingly handsome.”

“How could he be? He is not from our class of people!” Francine flounced off down the hall, punctuating her flight with more sobs.

Adrienne shook her head. Francine would surely bring the entire mood of the house to a head. Everyone would be on edge, worried about upsetting their volatile charge. Bringing her treat once more back into sight, she pressed her nose to the top, breathing in the sweet smell and biting into it, letting the flavors fill her senses. Maybe this marriage to Henri Du Cormier would be good for all of them, if it got Francine out of their lives.

~

The evening arrived swiftly. Adrienne stood proudly by her father’s side as hostess, as Francine was too sulky to perform the duty. Her new dress was the color of the midnight sky, lit by a full moon. It fell in soft waves down the full skirt, accented by white lace. Her gloves were of the best quality, and her hair was styled meticulously. Despite the financial troubles, Arnaud always managed to dress his daughters to their standing.

Francine was a contrast to her sister, choosing a low-cut bodice, almost daring. Her emerald dress mimicked her disagreeable personality, and she chose black accents, instead of the more delicate white. Her ebony hair upswept in corkscrew curls around her pinched face. There was no persuading her otherwise. She maintained her position in the ballroom, away from the arriving guests, seething in silent rage. When was this Du Cormier meant to arrive? She pondered this question over and over, wanting to do something to dissuade him, but not wanting to ruin her name in the process.

“Francine, darling! You look…divine!” Rosalind Denis floated towards her in a divine creation of burgundy.

One of Francine’s only friends, the woman was quick to confide in her. “Rosalind, darling, something horrible has happened!”

“Oh my, do tell.” Rosalind flicked open her fan, surveying the entering guests, and attempting to discern who the eligible bachelors were. Her hazel eyes scanned the room eagerly, using a free hand to gently puff her blonde coiffed hair.

Francine drew her attention back, exasperated at the lack of sympathy from her friend. “I am to be married.”

“Married? But isn’t that wonderful? You will have your own household and expenditures. It will be divine.”

Francine opened her mouth to protest, but then pressed the full lips together. She had not considered this. Du Cormier had come into money; a great sum, if rumors were to be believed. “Oh, I did not consider this.”

“Of course not, my dear. You were thinking with your heart. Foolish really.” Rosalind returned to her perusal of the men.

Francine balked at the accusation. “Foolish? My heart? I fear you’ve confused me with Adrienne.”

“Who is your betrothed then?”

“Nothing is formal yet. It is Henri Du Cormier though.”

Rosalind’s eyes went like saucers, and she snapped her fan closed. “Oh my, aren’t we the lucky one? Did you know he recently bought St. Esprit, with all the slaves, and money to spare? The previous owner, sadly, was a gambler. I don’t blame him. His wife ran off with some merchant.” She prattled on about the scandal, but Francine was no longer listening. She had to make Du Cormier love her, no matter what.

Adrienne glanced over her shoulder, watching Francine conspire with Rosalind. Each was as bad as the other. The sound of her father’s rumbling voice uttering a familiar name had her turning her head. The new arrival did not go unnoticed, as a hush fell over the room.

“Monsieur Du Cormier, such a pleasure to see you again. May I present my daughter, Adrienne?”

Henri Du Cormier wasn’t like any knight in shining armor. His features were plain, intensified by high cheekbones, and a square jaw. He had long, black hair pulled back in a queue, and dark grey eyes that seemed to pierce her very soul, bringing a blush to her cheeks.

“Monsieur, welcome to our home.”

Henri took the delicate beauty’s hand, pressing his lips to the back. “A pleasure, mademoiselle.”

Francine huffed in indignation from across the room. She was not going to let Adrienne steal this man’s attentions. She pranced over, pushing her sister aside. “Monsieur! So sorry I was detained. I am Francine Beaumont.” She held out her hand expectantly, carefully perusing his appearance. She did not care much for the facial hair, but that was something she could easily change, once they were married.

Adrienne wisely chose the moment to retreat, leaving the perplexing man to her sister. She did not want a husband she had to decipher on a daily basis. Simple, loving, and kind was more than enough for her.

Saturday Night Treat: Misfortune CH 1

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Tease? I think not!
Preorder here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B014AI54JE
Available on all Amazon Marketplaces!


Chapter 1

Rae

“No way. I don’t believe in any of that stuff.” Luke shook his head as we studied the crime scene photos splayed across the desk.

“I thought you were all about spirits and nature.” I teased, flipping through the reports by local law enforcement.

Luke flopped into a chair, “That’s different, Rae. That can be explained. I think most of these people are just taking advantage of the naïve.”

Our first case together, and he was already skeptical of everything. Great. “You do know if this is going to work, we have to associate with these people, right?”

“Yeah, not by choice, Rae.” He flicked a picture my way.

There certainly was a clear MO to the crimes. All the victims so far had either been positioned like tarot card images, or dumped somewhere that exemplified the meaning of the cards. I wasn’t saying I believed in fortune telling either. The latest victim was clearly positioned like The Hanged Man.

I read a portion of the report aloud. “‘The Hanged Man typically means sacrifice, or giving up on something important. Traitors in Italy were punished by being hanged in this position.’ That’s downright creepy.”

Luke had gotten up by this point, disappearing out of the conference room and heading to the kitchen. I swore under my breath, irritated that he had wandered out while I was reading him something possibly pertinent to the case. When he reappeared with two mugs of coffee, I was tempted to forgive him. Almost.

“Could you please try to focus? I really would like to remain in this division.”

He placed the cups down, and sat again. “Sorry, needed some fuel. Are we travelling for this one?”

“A little, yeah. The majority of body dumps are happening in D.C.” I breathed in the aroma of the coffee, colored perfectly with the right amount of creamer. He was learning, I supposed.

Chuckling, he spun the file away from me again. “Fitting. Loads of traitors in that part of the country.”

I tucked a strand of my auburn hair behind my ear and narrowed my eyes. His flippant attitude was starting to rub me the wrong way. “Hey, mister, we have a job to do. Uphold the Constitution, protect from all enemies, etc., etc.?

Ruffling his own blondish brown hair, Luke fixed those stormy eyes on me and sighed. “I’ll try to behave. Just let it be known I hate those charlatans.”

“Duly noted.” I swiped it out of his hands and buried my head back into the file. All was silent for a few moment until Luke broke my train of thought…again.

He was rocking back and forth in the chair. “So, when do we leave?”

I gritted my teeth. Was he really this annoying before? “Tomorrow morning. We will meet the Metropolitan Police Department as soon as we get there.”

“Right.”

Unable to really sit there any longer, I got up and wandered back to my desk, dropping the folder on the surface. Luke had settled into the division very well. He already made friends with most of the agents. I was baffled by his sudden change in attitude, but attributed it to finally letting go of Melinda.

I smiled briefly up at the agent dropping off a manila envelope with our travel information. I opened up the package, reading over the information for the man in charge of the investigation to this point. Detective Mark Samuels was a career man, no family, divorced twice, and still relatively young by department standards. It was he who pushed for FBI involvement.

“Finally, someone sensible.”

Luke appeared out of nowhere. “Who, Red?”

I scowled. “Don’t call me, ‘Red.’”

“Lighten up, Rae. Now, who is sensible?” He sat on the edge of my desk, thumbing through the papers.

I snatched them away. “Detective Samuels, the lead on the case, and our sole contact while we’re in D.C.” I put everything away and grabbed my bag. “You should go home and pack. I don’t like to be late, Thompson.”

He started to laugh. The jerk started to laugh! I was fuming as I stomped out of the office in a huff. Damn him. I didn’t like to feel so out of control! Well, I was ready to show him what Rae Hatting was capable of, with or without some cowboy cop! I slammed my fist into the elevator button, causing several agents nearby to jump and glance over. I shrunk into my jacket, slightly ashamed of my out-of-control behavior. Calm, collected, pulled together Rae Hatting. That was who I was before all this. I just had to find her again.

Unlocking the door to my house was the nicest feeling in the world. Placing my bag on the hook by the door, I shrugged out of my coat, and thumbed through the mail. “Grace? Are you home?”

“Yeah! Just finishing some homework.” My sixteen year old daughter came out of the bedroom a few moments later, tossing her blonde hair over her shoulder. I smiled, but it shrank from my face as she was followed by her current boyfriend, Seth. I knew I had to trust Grace, but having boys in the house alone still rubbed me the wrong way.

“Evening, Agent Hatting.” We had established early on my profession, and that I would take little grief from him. I should be kinder to him. He was a straight-A student, on the high school football team, and had two loving parents. I may have run a background check on him.

“Hello, Seth.” I tried my best to restore my smile. “Have you two had dinner?”

Grace looped her fingers through Seth’s. “No, we were going to see if it was okay to order pizza?”

“Sure. You know I’m going out of town tomorrow, right?” I went into the kitchen and thumbed through the menus.

Seth kissed Grace on the cheek and moved over to the TV, switching it on.

“Yes, Mom. I know I’m going to Cary’s.”

“Good, are you packed? I’m not sure how long I’ll be away, but I will let you know when I do.” I dialed the number, ordering two large pepperoni pizzas and a bottle of Coke.

Grace came over and wrapped me in a hug. “Yes, Mom.” She whispered up. “Seth asked me to the winter formal!”

I squeezed her back. “That’s great, sweetie. It’s not for a few months, so we can go dress shopping when I get back.”

Grinning like she had just won first prize in a contest, Grace went to the living room, curling up on the couch next to Seth. I sighed. Did all moms go through this? I went off to the bedroom to pack for the trip, trying to ignore the couple of hormonal teenagers in my living room.

~~~

Luke

I was left leaning on Rae’s desk, scratching my head in wonder. I got up and meandered back to my desk, pulling on my old, worn leather jacket. I missed my motorcycle, hoping I could get it shipped out soon. Frank was taking good care of her, or so he said. Shoving my hands in my pockets, I made my way to the elevator leading to the parking garage. The used blue Nissan was little substitute for my pick-up, but traversed the streets with ease. I got in, and turned on some Blake Shelton, rolling down the window and driving out, waving to the guard.

I wove through evening traffic, finally making it to the one bedroom apartment I rented. It was hard not to miss the quiet forest sounds, and I made a mental note to get a place as far away from the city as soon as I could. Steering into my numbered parking spot, I got out and climbed the stairs, unlocking the chipped door. Needing background noise, I turned on the TV immediately, finding Monday Night Football with a relieved sigh.

Tossing the remote on the leather recliner, I headed to the kitchen, my stomach growling. I had a carton of eggs and some miscellaneous vegetables. I muttered to myself, “Guess it’s omelette night.” No point in going to the store when I would be gone for a while. Pulling out a frying pan and bowl, I began to crack eggs when my phone rang. I put it on speaker.

“Hello?” I hadn’t checked the caller ID.

“Luke? It’s your mother. Since when do I not get a call from you?”

I made a mental count. Shit. It had been nearly two weeks. “Sorry, Ma. Just getting into all the procedure and that. We got our first case though.”

“And how’s that lovely Agent Hatting? She certainly is something.”

I raised my palm to my forehead, groaning as I got sticky egg white in my hair. I grabbed for a dish towel. “She’s a royal pain in the ass.”

“Language! Anyways, I wanted to see how you are. Are you going out of town?” There was a worried sound to her tone.

I grabbed a fork, whipping the eggs. “Yes, don’t worry, Ma. I’ll be fine. I promise I’ll phone to check in. How’s Frank?” I changed the subject.

“He’s fine! I went up to check on him, and bring him some fresh vegetables. I swear, that man lives on fast food!”

Nothing changes. “Yeah, that’s Frank.” I knew the divorce had hit him hard, so he was grateful to have my cabin now.

“Ginny Hatting has been up a couple of times. She’s so sweet.”

Ginny? Oh, right. Rae’s mom. “She has?”

“Mmhmm. Oh, look, I have to go. You take care, sweetheart.” Click.

I grumbled, grabbing a knife and the cutting board, sufficiently irritated now by the cryptic nature of my ma’s phone call. Finalizing the preparation for my food, the phone rang again. This time, I did check for the caller ID. It was Rae.

“What’s up, Hatting?” We were back to surnames now, based on her recent outburst.

“Just wanted to make sure you were going to be ready at 8am.”

She had forgotten to let me know what time we were leaving back at the office. Must have taken some nerve to call me now. I laughed to myself. “Thanks, Hatting. Hey, did you know your mom visits my ma?” Silence. “Rae?”

“Huh? Yeah, umm, I have to go. See you tomorrow.” Click.

I raised my eyebrows, staring at the phone. What was with these women? I shook my head in awe, finally able to get the eggs and vegetables into the pan. I hummed to myself as I cooked, glancing occasionally at the score. I scooped my monster omelette onto a plate, and took a cold beer from the fridge, sitting down in the recliner. The beer slid down beautifully, along with my hastily prepared dinner.

When I finished, I grabbed my laptop, keen to do some of my own research on this serial killer. There were a few newspaper articles about the killings with vague theories from over-eager reporters. Detective Samuels was tight-lipped, offering little or no comment on anything asked of him. Knowing Rae’s proclivity to take all the paperwork home, I had requested a back-up file before we left. I opened the attachments.

‘The Hanged Man’ was the third distinct body dump to date, but the fourth actual victim. There were a couple of suspected related murders, but nothing could be concretely linked to this killer. I scanned the images of the other victims. The first one was easily ‘The Lovers.’ Heck, I recognized it without the report, chuckling at my memories from Live and Let Die. Jane Seymour as Solitaire was a favorite of mine. Boyhood crush.

Snapping back to reality, I studied the victims’ profiles. There were two bodies, each identified as Georgetown University students, reported missing by their roommates. After investigation, Samuels noted that both were cheating on their respective partners. He interviewed several possible suspects, but none proved fruitful. Another dead-end for the dedicated detective.

I pulled up a web browser and typed in ‘The Lovers tarot,’ yielding a plethora of sites claiming to offer free and cheap readings. I waded through the crap to find the meaning of the cards. I was starting to find interpretations based on different schools of thought. I frowned, thinking finding the one specific to our killer would be a chore and a half. I glanced down, reading the computer clock. It was past eleven, and I hadn’t even packed yet. Reaching for my laptop bag, I stuffed the computer in and stalked to the bedroom.

My trusty duffle bag was waiting at the bottom of my closet. It had traveled with me from Dallas, to Mendocino County, to San Francisco, and then to Quantico. I pulled out the necessary items and stuffed them in, taking a trip to the bathroom to half-fill my toiletry bag. By the time I finished, the red numbers on my alarm clock flashed after midnight. I stripped, and fell into the sheets, setting my alarm for just before seven. I wanted to get in a run prior to leaving.

Waking up in a cold sweat was something I had gotten used to. The nightmares were especially vivid. I squinted over at the clock, noting it was just after five in the morning. Unable to settle my mind down, I went and splashed water on my face, staring at my reflection in the mirror. I turned on the shower and stepped into the spray. There was no point in going back to sleep now, as the demons would be waiting for me. Soon, I could replace the haunting visions with new ones, but in the meantime, I would cope with the old ones the best way I knew how.

Cover Reveal: Misfortune!

I’m pleased to present the cover to the next Rae Hatting Mystery novel, Misfortune! It’s due out on November 21st, 2015 and will be up for preorder! Without further ado… Misfortune_Fulljpg ebook coverDeath is on the cards… There’s a new serial killer on the loose, dumping bodies in sinister relation to tarot card meanings, preying on his victims’ vices. With roving psychics, all claiming to have knowledge of the killer, to a mysterious Cajun woman, who just so happens to be related to Dr. Sabine Lawson, will Luke and Rae solve the case before another person ends up tempting fate and succumbing to an unfortunate mishap. Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25229054-misfortune


Misfortune joins The Fairest of Them and Crushed Gardenias in the Rae Hatting Mysteries series!

Women’s History: The First Female FBI Agent

 

Much like my post on Female Soldiers During the American Civil War, I like to give a bit of historical background to the novels I write. Female FBI agents are very prevalent in the United States today, making up 19% of the bureau’s special agents. This left me curious. When did women first start working for this elite agency?

As a tie in to my novel, The Fairest of Them, I decided to delve into the history of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, a.k.a the FBI. According to their website, the FBI stemmed from a special group of law enforcement agents, founded during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. He teamed with Attorney General Charles Bonaparte in 1908 to lay the foundations to what would later become the FBI. In 1918, with the end of WWI, the group of Special Agents was renamed the “Bureau of Investigations.”

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Alaska Packard Davidson

But this isn’t a history lesson on the formation of the FBI! I’m here to tell you about women in the FBI! The history on this subject is sparse, but one name I found was Alaska Packard Davidson. She served as a special agent from October 1922 to June 1924. She was 54 years old when she was appointed. When J. Edgar Hoover took over the Bureau, Davidson, along with several other female agents were dismissed.

Hoover is only known to have hired one female Special Agent during his entire term in office. That was Lenore Huston, an agent from 1924-1928.

lenore-huston

Lenore Huston’s credentials

After, according to the FBI’s website:

On July 17, 1972, the first two women of the modern era entered the FBI Training Academy at Quantico, Virginia. Fourteen weeks later they emerged as special agents. Over the next 40 years, women agents reshaped the Bureau, achieving leadership posts across the U.S. and around the world. This series looks at their roles, their challenges, and the rewards of a demanding career as a G-woman.

A pretty big gap in history! You can learn more by going to: http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2012/may/women-agents_051612/women-agents_051612

fairest-ebook-with-awardDon’t forget to look for The Fairest of Them, with my own Special Agent Rae Hatting.

Meet Special Agent Rae Hatting!

Rae Hatting teaserMany of you will remember Special Agent Rae Hatting from the short story, “Crushed Gardenias.” Response to this wee, stand-alone story was so great, I decided I couldn’t let her stay put! My latest work in progress brings Rae to the novel scene (yay!). The Fairest of Them will release later this year and I will keep you all posted about when that will be!

Special Agent Hatting finds her match in Detective Lucas Thompson, a transplanted Texan in California. The pair come together in a volatile match as Rae takes over an unsolved case involving strange circumstances. A serial killer is on the loose with a penchant for dressing up his victims as characters from fairy tales. Intrigued? Rae certainly is!

I thought I would offer a preview of the first chapter. This book will be comprised of three parts, the first being from Detective Thompson’s perspective (don’t worry, it will make sense when you read it!). I hope it will be the first of a series involving the pair, if I can keep thinking up creative crimes.


Excerpt from The Fairest of Them **unedited and subject to change**:

The trail led to a clearing surrounded by redwood trees. They provided shade from the harsh afternoon July sun, their shadows dancing on the ground. In the very center of the ring, a woman lay, her hands folded over her abdomen. Blonde ringlets framed her face and her vivid blue eyes were wide open, staring blankly into the abyss. The slender form was draped in a pink dress with lace accents at the sleeves. Over it, she wore a stark white pinafore. Hikers had stumbled on the eerily staged scene in MacKerricher State Park, and called in the authorities.

Yellow crime tape was wound around the statuesque trees. It was as if they were standing guard, tall and silent. Upon closer investigation, a slim book was discovered, poking out of the pocket of the starched pinafore. It was quickly bagged and tagged as evidence before the body, carefully sealed in a black bag, was transported to the coroner’s office. I remember turning my face upwards, gazing at the majestic trees and wishing they could talk. If they could, my job would have been infinitely easier.

I had come to the small town in Mendocino County, California, early in 2003 with no intentions of taking up another job on the force. My legacy was safely tucked away in Dallas, Texas, after I solved a series of prostitute rapes and mutilations. The newspapers lauded me as a hero. The whole situation made me feel completely sick, not good for a detective. We were meant to be impartial and I found myself blaming the working girls I had so often warned about the dangers of streetwalking.

The circumstances leading me to resuming a position as a detective with the sheriff’s department were not something I wished to discuss with anyone. I would simply change the topic when brought up in conversation. I supposed that it was some sort of calling, unable to let me rest until I helped as many people as possible.

I drove back to the station, radio off, the red-taped evidence bag taunting me on the passenger seat. I knew what it contained, but I was reluctant to confirm it. I turned the bag over to the technicians at the lab and returned to my office with an off-hand reminder to let me know what they found. The book would be swabbed, submitted to latent fingerprint testing, and returned to my desk with the same report as last time: no conclusive trace evidence found. As I predicted, it’s what happened. I retrieved the book, setting it down on my desk in the plastic covering.

Snapping on a pair of latex gloves, I ran my hand over the leather cover. It was a first edition, like the rest. I carefully cracked the cover and the black print stood out on the creamy ivory paper: Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Beneath it, penned in perfect cursive were the words: She should not have taken what did not belong to her. I slammed the book shut in frustration. The taunts were becoming more and more specific as time went on.

Throwing the gloves in my trashcan, I decided to take a walk and see if Dr. Sabine Lawson had found anything on the body. The glimmer of hope had long since faded that she actually would. The curvy, African-American coroner was meticulous in her reports, so I doubted she would be even down to the woman’s breasts at this point. I had to do something to settle my nerves, though, or I would snap.

The squeak of the metal swinging doors signaled my entry into the disinfectant-scented room. I grinned at the sight of Sabine in her element. She wore her hair in narrow braids, pulled back in a no-nonsense ponytail. Her skin was the color of coffee with cream. There were many days I lusted after Sabine, but she made it clear to me from day one she was committed to her job. There was no room for “torrid affairs with wild cowboys,” as she put it.

“Whatcha got for me, Doc?” I went through the motions of putting on another pair of gloves to avoid Sabine’s scowl.

“Nothing yet and you know it. You’re restless, cher.” The drawl of her New Orleans accent came out like liquid silk.

I leaned against the counter and watched her work. “Damn straight. I can’t wrap my head around this guy. He was sticking to the classics and now this jump. Why Goldilocks?”

Sabine was used to listening to my ramblings and offering her interpretations. “Perhaps, she merely fit the profile of that character.”

“He’s not like that though. He plans this all to the letter. Every detail. Stalks these women for weeks!” I jiggled my leg anxiously. The change in the killer’s modus operandi rattled me more than it should.

“Calm yourself.” She began to speak into a microphone positioned above her work station.

“Female victim appears roughly 20 to 25 years of age based on bone development and pelvic placement. She has never given birth. There are signs of sexual trauma, but no ligature marks on her wrists or ankles. A small needle mark indicates that the victim may have been drugged. Sending a sample of blood and urine to the lab for further analysis.”

I interrupted her. “No trace of semen, I take it?”

She frowned at me. “No, like the others.” Sabine carefully made her opening incision in the abdomen of the victim and drew back the flesh. She busied herself with the remainder of her work, and I knew I was dismissed without her saying so. Pinging the gloves into a bin by the door, I walked out.


Crushed Gardenias coverIn the meantime, if you can’t wait, check out “Crushed Gardenias” to get a taster of Rae!

The Accidental Stalker series

23379321Last week, it was my pleasure to review for Readers’ Favorite a novel by Celia Kennedy entitled “Charlotte’s Restrained.” Find it here.

Although the review not live on the Readers’ Favorite website, here is a bit from my 5-star review:

“It was truly a pleasure to read Miss Kennedy’s novel. I will admit to laughing out loud at some of Charlotte’s adventures as well as more than a few of Liam’s jokes. There was a particular one about “hallway sex,” but I will not give away the details! The novel was a fun and relaxing read. I liked reading about different places and people. As well as Charlotte, I was introduced to a group of her friends, who I hope will be featured in books very soon, as they all sound like incredible characters. Miss Kennedy has an eye for detail, right down to the designer brands of clothing each person wore. I could imagine their light interactions and joking conversations with little effort.”

IMG_1014The lovely Celia Kennedy has given me an ARC copy of her next book in the series, “Kathleen’s Undressed” (yay!) and some things to share with you! First, a little about this amazing author!


Author Biography: Celia Kennedy was born in Wurzburg, Germany on a military base. Her parent’s penchant for traveling has stuck with her, she’s lived in and traveled through several countries.

The imagined world has always fascinated Celia. She has studied Art History, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture, and Architecture. Her thirteen year career at UW in Seattle ended in 1996. Not wanting to be homeless, she left the academic world and worked as a Landscape Architect, married the love of her life, became a mom, has been PTA President, Girl Scout leader and Boy Scout leader.

The unimaginable wealth in her life is the most fascinating thing to her. Her love of travel, the designed and natural world, friendship, self-discovery, wine, chocolate, AND love are the foundation of her books.

Celia published her first book, Charlotte’s Restrained, The Accidental Stalker in December 2012, Venus Rising in August of 2013, Sugar It’s Cold Outside, Cupid on the Loose Anthology, April’s Fool, Fool’s Rush In Anthology, 2015 AND Kathleen’s Undressed, The Accidental Engima on February 23, 2015. Three other works are in progress.


Blank white book w/pathWhat you’ve all been waiting for…this is about her newest release, Kathleen’s Undressed! This is from the back of the book:

The ladies from Charlotte’s Restrained are back together! Joining Kathleen in Paris, France, for Fall Fashion Week, the ladies and their men mingle with celebrities, royalty, and the fashion elite.

Kathleen’s thrilled to have her friends in town, but what should be a week of camaraderie and fun is about to take a darker turn. Because Kathleen has secrets. Dark secrets her friends would be devastated to learn.

A special someone enters Kathleen’s life who urges her to reveal what she’s kept hidden. It becomes clear she will have to make a choice when the group reunites for an unexpected wedding.

Will Kathleen continue deceiving her friends at the risk of their friendship — or reveal the truth at the risk of herself?

To say I’m excited to read this is an understatement! Stay tuned for my review!


If you want to find out more about the awesome Celia Kennedy, you can find her on her social media sites listed below:

Website: www.celiakennedy.weebly.com

Blog: www.womanreinventsself.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMKAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KennedyCelia

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/celiakennedy/

Google +: https://plus.google.com/u/0/106475224814075459757/posts