Noted Psychologist Sebastian Cork has lived a life full of zest and splendour. At the pinnacle of his career, all should be well, but he finds himself at a loss with no explanation and no desire to fight his way out of it. With his enthusiasm lost and his vitality lacking, Sebastian is unwittingly ejected from his melancholy and at the centre of a murder investigation. Ripped from the safe confines of the place he calls home. Sebastian is surrounded by the slum and the detritus of a life so far removed from his own. Now, he must find a killer before the killer strikes again or worse, finds him. Can Sebastian outwit and outrun a sadistic killer or is he completely out of his element?
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Benito then crushed his cigarette out on the pavement. I noticed it was half lit and still smoking. "When someone steals my property, I get very agitated. I can't sleep, break out in a rash and then I am uncomfortable. When I become uncomfortable I become unreasonable and you don't want me to be unreasonable." "No, I don't." I said. "Good just let me know what State he is in and I will find him. You will be off the hook. I know he is your friend but he is a rat and a low life. Now what State is he in!" He was now digging his hand into my left shoulder. I felt his grip, he was very strong. I loved Cliff like a brother but this was not my battle. "He is in New Jersey" I screeched. "Okay let's go Dobbs, have a nice day kid." I watched them walk across the street and get into a gray Corvette. As they drove away I felt my hands sweating. I got off easy. It wasn't me they wanted but I was the weak link. I also tried to convince myself that I didn't give up Cliff because I didn't pinpoint his location. I really did not know where he was and I think they knew that. They knew Cliff was smart. I told them he was in New Jersey but New Jersey is a big state. I must admit I was still frightened but I was more frightened for Cliff. I did not want anything to happen to him. I really believed these guys would hurt him.
"Hey Johnny, this is my only phone call so listen up. I have been arrested. I have killed Dobbs and Marquez." "What!" I said. "Yeah they came after me like you said they would. They worked me over pretty good. They beat me up but I was able to crawl over to my truck as they were leaving and pulled my dad's rifle out of the truck. I shot and killed them both as they were walking away."
Only a vampire can solve these crimes--a vampire private eye named Samantha Moon...
Private investigator Samantha Moon is working undercover for the Fullerton Police Department’s new top-secret Vampire Crimes Special Unit (VCSU).
With the increasing number of supernatural-type crimes in and around Orange County, Detective Sherbet needs Samantha’s special talents to help solve and prosecute the real and growing threats to the citizens of Fullerton. People are dying—and some of them are already undead.
Sam’s first case for the VCSU threatens to expose her life as a vampire. When a 200-year-old mummified corpse turns up on the grounds of an Orange County mission with a note addressed to Sam, she needs to protect herself, as well as solve this case before something worse happens.
The more Sam digs into the case, the more evidence she discovers of the mission’s grisly history and scandalous past. But will there be a price to pay? What if the only way to save the people of the present from the people of the past would be to expose the truth to the public? A truth that could take down a mission that is the very foundation of a community.
To solve the mystery in the present, Samantha Moon must first solve the mystery of the past. It’s a good thing she’s a vampire. A very good thing. She’s going to need those skills…
MOON HUNT is April M. Reign's first novel in the Vampire Crimes Special Unit series, her series set within the licensed Vampire for Hire Kindle World created by J. R. Rain, bestselling paranormal mystery author.
Two souls, united for a brief moment in war-torn western Europe during World War II, is more than a coincidence. Major Daniel Humphrey, a former high school teacher, is injured while on a reconnaissance mission for General Patton’s Third Army at the start of winter in 1944. He is transported to a hospital in Nancy, France, where he meets a pretty American nurse named Cassandra Burns. For him, it is love at first sight, but it is only temporary. The next day she disappears, and he is told she never existed. However, the rose she left on his pillow tells him otherwise.
After the war ends the following spring, Daniel confirms Cassie’s existence but she did not return to the states. Fearing she died or is missing, he visits the place where they first met and unknowingly opens a Pandora box of intrigue that changes his life forever.
Cassie is an American spy and married to one of Hitler’s most notorious spymasters for the Eastern Front — Oberfuhrer Erik Bauer. Now, armed with information about Bauer’s plans to destroy the West’s restructuring efforts, Cassie is on the run.
Cassie wants out of the espionage game, but what price will she pay for leaving? Can Daniel find Cassie before Bauer and his band of Hitler loyalists find her first? Is Bauer the only threat to Cassie's safety, or is someone more sinister hiding in the shadows?
THE PUMPKIN ORB
As I entered the room, my grandson was jumping on my bed. He was laughing, playing and having a good time. The weather outside was awful. It had been snowing most of the morning. He was telling me to take a picture. I assumed he wanted a photograph taken of him. I couldn't have been more wrong. He pointed out the window at a very large bright orange orb floating across the yard. I was stunned, almost frozen in time. I took a couple of photographs as the orb continued to move out of view. When reviewing the photograph, I was in complete shock at what I saw. Now confusion is all that remains as I try to figure out what we just witnessed.
By: Chris King, Paranormal Researcher
Oklahoma Paranormal Research Agency
A woman in Johannesburg returns home from a trip to Belgium. Her dark blue suitcase is mistaken for an extremely similar suitcase belonging to a man travelling to Botswana. Just before going to bed the woman, Aziza, opens the suitcase to find it is not hers, but sees on top a brown paper package containing a box of chocolates. She knows it is not her suitcase but she cannot resist opening the box and eating a chocolate.
Her body is found the following morning when she does not go to work having died from extreme cyanide poisoning.
The police realize that the suitcase has just come on a flight from London, and they trace the other suitcase, her suitcase, to the man in Botswana who traveled on the same flight as Aziza to Johannesburg. He is naturally concerned as he has just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and following a visit to an Ayurveda clinic in Edinburgh has just started on a course of treatment with apricot pits, which contain minute traces of cyanide, and in his briefcase he has a half kilo bags of apricot pits!
The police contact Scotland Yard in London, who realize that there may be some connection with the recent theft of cyanide from an agricultural company in Cambridge, with the cyanide eaten in chocolate by the woman in Johannesburg.
The following joint investigation produces several “Red herrings” principally from the players in a string quartette playing in several locations in the east of England, until eventually it is narrowed down to a family in Lincoln, when they learn who purchased the fatal box of chocolates, and then they find a partial fingerprint on the sealing cellophane. But they still cannot determine a motive for the murder, and their problem is how the fatal box of chocolates managed to get into the man’s suitcase when the cities of Cambridge and Lincoln are one hundred miles apart.
Inspired by her grandfather and the lore of her last name, Katherine Pendragon set out to be the greatest scholar on Old England, King Arthur, and the Knights of the Round Table, she could be.
Research Librarian Katherine Pendragon always had the fantasies that her name inspired. So she traveled to England and became the worlds leading most expert in King Arthur and the Knights of the Round table. But that was all history. Until, faced with a gruesome fate she inadvertently summons the sword of legend, EXCALIBUR. Now armed with the magic blade she prowls the streets of London dispensing healthy doses of justice. But is there another reason for the mystic blades return. Find out as Lady Excalibur and her friends face an ancient evil.
A young man was hunched behind the wheel of an older, white Toyota Camry while it sat idling at a suburban curb. The car was in oddly good shape considering its age and the man was wearing a chimpanzee mask. It wasn’t the good sort that goes over your whole head, it was the cheesy type that’s pulled against your face by the elastic thread so hard it hurts where the sharp edges of the eyeholes dig into your skin. He didn’t look particularly dangerous - but he certainly did look weird.
It was one fifteen on a Thursday afternoon and Chimp Face’s animal friends were inside a nearby bank robbing the place. This particular branch of the big, national chain had been chosen as victim from the many around the city for several different reasons. One was its position on a quiet street without too much traffic but the most important factor had been its lack of any obviously stringent security measures. There were only a couple of security cameras pointing haphazardly in apparently random directions, a simple alarm system with a panic button that nobody could reach and unfortunately one old, more or less token security guard.
The robbery had been carefully planned as a takeover-style heist months before and so far it was working out just perfectly. The three thieves inside the bank were wearing shapeless black, baggy jumpsuits, white cotton gloves and their faces were covered by a variety of similar animal masks. They were doing their best to come over as ‘methodical, efficient and firmly in control’ the way their gang-boss had told them but their nervous energy made them seem almost clownish in some way. But only almost clownish - the harmless fun was being knocked off the circus thing by the large caliber weapons they were all waving around.
The few customers who’d been in the bank when the robbers stormed in were lying face down on the floor shaking beside a couple of bank employees. They were all being covered by slim-built Cat Face who wielded an older M1 carbine, maybe an ode to Patty Hearst herself, while short, round Elephant Face had been assigned to guard the doors and the weapon he was pointing around so threateningly was a Remington, pump-action shotgun. Dog Face himself favored a military issue M16 that was ridiculously mounted with a laser sight and the red dot terrified those on the floor that understood what it was when it fell on them and bewildered those that didn’t have any idea.
One of the people lying on the floor was the old security guard, Larry Kitman. For most of his working life Larry had been a janitor at Rothman Junior High but budget related cutbacks in the city’s unified school district had forced him into early retirement despite the fact that he wasn’t ready for it . After a year of struggling to find his rent and the exorbitant sums of money needed for his heart medication he’d managed to talk himself into this job and he was happy to have been given a badge, a uniform and virtually no training whatsoever.
It was big built Dog Face who thought he was in control of the gang at this point. He grabbed an older, near hysterical woman who worked at the bank as a teller and yanked her to her feet. “You,” he barked at her as he pulled her behind the counter with its apparently useless, Plexiglas security screen, “open this cash drawer.” Shaking with terror she found the key which had been stupidly left hanging on a hook for all to see but her trembling hands couldn’t get it in the drawer’s keyhole fast enough for him so Dog Face grabbed her tighter, not really trying to hurt her but wanting to make her feel scared - maybe secretly needing to make her feel as scared as he was. Cat Face’s eyes narrowed in a disapproving frown at Dog Face’s unnecessary bullying.
“I said open the damned drawer and get a move on,” Dog Face went on with a snarl.
All that did was make the teller’s hands shake even harder and the keys dropped from her fingers onto the floor. She stared down at them not moving a muscle but looking like she might just pass out from the terror of the whole thing any second. Before things could get any uglier Cat Face scampered behind the counter and grabbed the keys holding them up to her so the teller could point at the right one. Without any more fuss the drawer was opened and Dog Face tossed a well-worn Adidas sports bag at the shaking bank employee. “Put the money in there and hurry up about it.” The poor woman did her best but her still trembling hands let the cash slip through her fingers, as so many people seem to do, and most of the money went cascading out of her reach. Dog Face locked up anxiously at the ticking wall clock. “Now what the fuck.”
With a low, angry-sounding sigh in his direction Cat Face again moved to save the day before Dog Face could get any nastier and quickly helped the woman do what she was being told. After a lot of fuss some of the banknotes somehow ended up in the smelly, old gym bag.
This was all taking a lot more time than had been planned for. As sweaty anxiety levels crept up Cat Face tried to save some more of those precious seconds by scooting over the top of the counter and, with cash bag in hand, landed on the floor close to the guard with a surprisingly clumsy sort of little hop. Nobody else moved or even dared to look up from their prone positions but Larry decided to do something brave in his meaningless life that might somehow make a difference. He waited for the right moment and when it presented itself, in his mind at least, he leapt to his feet and lunged at the robber closest to him. Chaos. The resulting struggle was brief, intense and disastrous because as Cat Face stumbled backwards from the heavy smack in the head the mask got torn away. Everybody froze for an ugly, long second - then everything changed for a lot of different people in a lot of different ways.
Nobody else in the bank could see Cat Face’s exposed, very human and horrified expression but while the mask was being yanked back into place Larry stared at the face in front of him. As far as he was concerned he was cleverly making sure he was getting a good look so he’d be able to give an accurate description of the robber later. The problem was he was too slowwitted to hide what he was doing and Elephant Face caught on. With an intimidating grimace he shoved the barrel of his Remington into Larry’s crinkly old cheek trying to make him look the other way.
Afterwards nobody could imagine why Larry would make the stupid mistake of grabbing at the muzzle of a shotgun and yanking at it as hard as he could. If he’d been trained at all he’d have known that guns have grips designed to prevent just such a thing from happening and this one didn’t come free from Elephant Face’s hands. Instead, the sudden force of the jerk tightened his finger on the trigger and the gun exploded into life from pointblank range.
Almost everybody looked away from the sickening sight as Larry’s old brains got plastered all over the walls and over some of the less fortunate people lying on the floor nearby. The deafening blast of a twenty gauge going off that close to everybody was followed by another long, stunned silence until Dog Face grabbed the killer by the throat growling at him ferociously. “Have you lost your stupid fucking mind or what?”
Cat Face stood rooted to the spot staring in disbelief at the bloody, virtually headless corpse on the floor while Dog Face went on ranting in a mindless fury. “Jesus Christ Teddy, why the hell would you want to do a thing like that?”
Feeling completely helpless he finally let go of the shaking gunman and chomped down hard trying to swallow his own, growing panic. “Come on,” he muttered when he’d gotten himself together enough, “we’ve got to get out of here. Let’s fucking go.” Money bag forgotten both of them charged for the plate glass doors but Cat Face still couldn’t move and went right on gazing at the horrific, bloody mess they were leaving behind. It was Elephant Face who ran back and grabbed Cat Face by the arm. “Come on for Christ’s sake,” he said not intending any pun, “this is no time for that pussy bullshit, the cops are on their way.”
There was defiance in it as the cat’s arm angrily twisted itself free from the elephant’s grasp but finally they all ran to the doors while nobody else moved.
Along with the impotent security cameras the shaken teller could only stand and watch as the gang dived into the waiting Camry and the doors slammed shut. A weird moment followed when the rising excitement went limp because, instead of pulling away with a squeal of tires like everybody expected, the car almost stalled stupidly. It had to grab a second bite of the clutch and over-rev its motor before it could finally peel away from the curb dramatically the way Chimp Face had been fantasizing about for the past couple of weeks.
Once clear of the suburbs the getaway car slowed down and drove through the city. It wove steadily and sure of its complicated and clever way through quiet side streets heading towards the docks. Finally it slipped into heavier traffic losing itself in the throng of thousands of other cars that weren’t worth a second glance - it was hiding in plain sight.
Inside, Chimp Face was concentrating hard on his driving but once he had time to think about it another concern leapt into his over-excited and usually dull mind. He tried to turn his head to look at the others but his mask kept sliding around stupidly on his face so the eyeholes didn’t line up with his eyes any longer. “What went wrong, where’s the money?” he wanted to know. Dog Face still had a nasty tone in his voice. “Just shut up. Keep your speed down and look where you’re going before you kill us all. Just follow the route we laid out and stay calm that’s all you’ve got to do.”
The escape had been planned just as meticulously as the robbery itself but that had gone so horribly wrong everybody was anxious the getaway was going to end in the same screwed-up way. The others didn’t need to see his face to know Dog Face was fuming behind his mask, he seemed to fume most of the time even under more normal circumstances.
“What the hell were you thinking? This is a war against capitalism and our weapons are the hearts and minds of the people. What part of that didn’t you get, how does shooting some old fart sway the populace in our favor?” Elephant Face understood well enough what a rhetorical question was but he wanted to answer it anyway. He was full of a desperate need to explain to the others what had happened, he was looking for some sort of understanding from them, maybe even forgiveness. “He saw one of us didn’t he? I thought trying to make him look the other way was the right thing to do, I wanted to make sure he couldn’t identify anybody.”
The only answer he got was an unconvinced grunt from Dog Face so he went on. “Anyway it was an accident, I didn’t mean to pull the trigger.” Chimp Face couldn’t believe his horrified ears. “You shot somebody? You dumb asshole! Now we’re all guilty of the same crime you know, that’s the law.”
He could tell from the way everybody else went completely quiet that the news was worse than that and even he was able to put that two and two together. “Wait a minute. You’re telling me he’s fucking dead, you killed somebody?”
Dog Face couldn’t take listening to any more of this panicking claptrap. “Just shut the fuck up, both of you.”
Beaten by their stupidity, or perhaps by his own, he pulled off his white gloves and then tore off his mask. “And get those stupid things off your dumb faces before anybody spots us.”
Not wanting to piss him off any further the other two jumped to do the same and Cat Face’s gloves came off slowly too but the mask stayed right where it was. Behind it a pair of deep, dark brown eyes hid themselves. They weren’t catlike in the least but instead seethed with a desperately human and angry shame that needed to stay hidden from the rest of the world.
While the Camry was making its slow way towards the docks Liam was finishing his lunchtime date with Margot. They’d been at it for the past hour or so but they weren’t eating a meal, they were only one step short of eating each other. Their lovemaking was crazy fun for both of them just like it always was which was odd considering the financial arrangements between them. When he made it to a very happy ending Liam buried his face in the perfume of Margot’s thick, red hair and he wasn’t surprised in the slightest when her back arched in her own ecstasy. She wasn’t faking it either, she never had to when she did it with him.
They lay in each other’s arms wallowing in that old ‘post-coital glow’ thing for a bit until he rolled over to look into her face. “Did you open that Eurozone brokerage account I told you about?”
She didn’t answer. She just looked at him blankly and listened with only half-believing ears at his sudden and maybe ill-timed change in direction. For some obscure and naïve reason he mistakenly took her silence as a cue to go on talking - so he did.
“The magic of it is, if you deposit American dollars they don’t convert the yield into euros until after the domestic tax has been paid. That means the tax rate is half of a percentage point less than it is on other accounts of the same type.”
He stopped talking when he realized she wasn’t paying any attention whatsoever.
“God, you and your boring banker’s brain,” she said poking playful fun at him and grinning.
He didn’t grin back. “It’s not about banking at all,” he argued pretending to be defensive, “it’s all about the magic of math, the poetry of numbers and there’s nothing boring about it in the slightest you fiscal Philistine.”
She knew how to stop him talking though. She pushed him over onto his back pinning him down then climbed on top of him beaming wickedly and spreading her perfect thighs. “Well then numbers nerd,” she purred impishly as she lowered her lush, unwaxed self down onto his quickly renewed enthusiasm, “work out the compound interest of this.”
Now it was her turn to be in charge and soon her skillful, rhythmical agility worked its magic making a poetry of its own.
When that round was over Liam reluctantly hauled himself out of bed. The condo they were in was clean and tidy but the furnishings were purely functional and not really her at all because she rented the place purely for business purposes - maybe that wasn’t really her either.
Liam was in his late twenties, small-built but athletic looking and almost handsome in a dark, boy-bandish sort of way. She watched him pulling on his clothes. “Are you leaving already? There’s still time left on the meter so why don’t you get back in here and use up that last quarter?”
He slapped her playfully on her bare ass and put some notes on the pillow beside her. “That’d be dead easy to do,” he said, “but I’ve got to go. Lunch time’s over and there are millions waiting to be diverted from somebody else’s bank accounts into ours.” She watched him lazily wondering why she found Liam just a bit strange, not strange in a bad way just very different from all of the other men who popped into and out of her life.
“You know,” she said, “you remind me of the boy-toys who played with the women tourists on the beach in Portugal. Your family must be Mediterranean or something.” That comment got close to a deep-buried nerve. He didn’t want to talk about his life or family to her or anybody else come to that which was why he came to a girl in her business to start with. So he wandered off into the living room and when he saw the open window he stuck his head out pretending to look at the view. The truth was he didn’t give a damn about the view - he was putting an end to the conversation. Not about to give up that easily however Margot crept quietly up beside him after a couple of minutes and leaned out the window too. “Hey, are you okay?” she asked.
She offered him the joint she’d lit. “Want some of this?”
He shook his head but not in a disapproving sort of way.
“Not good for an athlete’s lungs?” she said making light of it and taking another hit herself.
“It’s not that,” he told her, “plenty of guys on the team smoke now and then I guess. I’ve never done it much myself. Somebody I cared about screwed up real bad by doing too much of it.”
She took another hit but couldn’t ignore the darkness about him so she deflected the uneasy moment by picking up a small can and started sprinkling water on the potted plants that were wilting on the fire escape.
His dark mood passed quickly enough. “You’re into plants?” he asked her finding the notion pleasing but a bit surprising.
“Sort of. I planted them because I spend a lot of time here so I wanted to make it a bit homey at least.” As he ducked back inside to finish pulling on his clothes he put another $100 bill on the coffee table. “Here, you need help then. Use this for classes at gardening school or something. At least get a book or two on how to take care of those poor plants you’re killing.” Margot knew she was good at what she did and men tipped her often but not like this, not simply out of kindness so she broke a cardinal rule of her business and kissed him. It was almost a real kiss on his lips but she fought off the temptation at the last second and kissed him on the cheek instead.
“Isn’t that against somebody’s rules or something,” he asked her with a mock frown, “showing affection to a John?” She smiled back easily. “No. If you pay extra you get extra of course.”
Still smiling she let go of him but, as he backed away from her towards the door, he stumbled over the edge of the curled-up carpet. She giggled at his clumsiness and the almost awkward moment of caring between them was over. Her smile grew into a grin as he opened the door. “Thanks for the delicious lunch,” he said, “see you again soon.” “Thanks for the generous tip,” she told him, “and I’ll be waiting. You can have the boys put you through to me direct anytime.” “And hey,” he added as a more serious thought occurred to him, “you should do something about that carpet before somebody trips over it and gets hurt.”
Then he was gone.
A few minutes later Liam was driving through the city in his new model Mercedes which oddly had an uncared for, rusting dent in its door and when he got to the business district he joined a sea of other, high-end German cars. He careened through the packed traffic without giving a toss or showing any sort of respect for all that shiny materialism and pissed horns honked at him but he waved back with a smile enjoying being a complete pain in the ass.
The Burnell International Bank building was a downtown ant farm of concrete and glass shining brightly with its own self-importance. An ugly sign screaming the bank’s name sat massively on the roof with the company’s motto beneath it - ‘Seize Life’s Opportunities’ it suggested.
Oddly enough Liam scowled when he saw the lettering and he turned into the private, underground parking garage. He stopped at the security booth where he hopped out and left the motor running for the valet as he ran to catch the executive elevator with a familiar wave to the impeccably uniformed guards.
In the meantime and despite being forced to make an unscheduled stop the robber’s escape had gone pretty much to plan. The Camry had made its way calmly through the heavy city traffic unnoticed to arrive at a rundown, disused factory. In its prime the place had served double duty as a warehouse but hadn’t been used in the last couple of decades and was now in such badly dilapidated shape it was lucky to be still standing even if it was as a derelict eyesore in the seediest part of old dockland.
There was a faded sign hanging over the rusting front doors that read ‘Montgomery Bath Wares Inc.’ and beneath this lettering there was a hand painted, cartoonish picture of a toilet. The Camry pulled up and stopped under it but before Chimp Face could turn off the motor Dog Face seized the opportunity to give him even more shit. “Have you really got a sack of hammers for a brain? You can’t leave the car here, it’s out in plain sight. Take it around the back and park it where nobody can see it.” The car started up again and crept slowly down the rough alley to hide itself sheepishly away behind the back of the building.
At the bloody scene of the robbery all police hands were already on deck. Outside the now chaotic bank uniformed cops controlled the lookyloos and swarming reporters while inside forensics guys took photos, fingerprints, DNA trace swabs and all that other scientific stuff. The coroner had carted away Larry’s brave, old body but his brains still clung nastily to the walls and floor and there was a glob of his cerebellum on the sole of more than one clumsy cop’s boot.
Back in a quieter corner a couple of detectives were interviewing the shaken witnesses which included trying to help the still-agitated teller remember the details of the things she’d seen. It turned out she wasn’t doing too well as a witness, the only thing she could remember clearly was the feeling that Cat Face seemed ‘far too nice’ to be a bank robber.
The officer in charge of the case was a seasoned veteran of the force, Detective Inspector Bob Willis and, as he always did these days, Bob had his sidekick with him. Detective Constable Charisse Vaughan was an attractive, young black woman with intelligent, almond-shaped eyes and, as she well knew, a sizzling hot body. She took her police work seriously enough but couldn’t stop her playfulness showing through by wearing her departmental badge on her belt the way a lot of detectives do but hers dangled on a leather fob so that somehow it drew attention, either by accident or design, to her tight waist and flat little belly.
Willis had never seemed to notice her body much but if he had he’d never let on, he liked working with Charisse for far more important reasons than that he told himself and everybody else. He admired her ‘bright, ambitious and determined personality’ and saw himself as her mentor, not that she always agreed with his old school, somewhat unimaginative approach to policing, but he was a very experienced cop and Charisse was happy to learn from anybody she could. It wasn’t all about work for Charisse either since there were odd moments in most days when Willis could be fun to be around too and she sort of liked him.
But right then she was concentrating on Larry’s congealing grey-matter. “What a goddamned mess,” she said to her boss.
She looked around the bank taking in the details of the scene and couldn’t stop herself from building a preliminary theory of how she thought the job must have gone down. “These guys were a real bunch of clowns,” she said having no idea she was making a play on the circus theme. Then she looked up at the scattered security cameras. “Did anybody check those cameras’ hard drives yet? Let’s hope some bright spark in security broke with tradition and remembered to turn them on.”
Willis looked up at them too. “Cameras have got hard drives now?”
She frowned at him lightly but then added a more serious thought. “But what numbskull set them up with those dumb-assed fields of view?”
In the future, the only solution to mass overcrowding and dwindling resources is the lottery. A game where people are paid to play but, if they win, they legally become food. Two such lottery-winners, a suicidal teenager named Sammie and an impoverished middle-aged woman named Kim, find themselves 'purchased' by the upscale Bistro Viande which is run by celebrity Chef Nick Delano and his jaded sous-chef, Anne. In the few remaining days of their lives, Kim decides to make the best of her life in enjoying what few pleasures remain for her, while Sammie decides to make the best of her death in ensuring she is at her tastiest. Little does anyone else know, however, that Sammie hides a dark secret, one that could both save her life and destroy the Bistro.
Anne stalked in and shouted “What the hell are you doing!?” Sammie and Kim looked at each other. Sammie stammered and Kim said “What do you mean? We just did as you told us. We weren’t trying to escape or anything like that. Just sitting here.” Anne pointed at them and said “You took that shower and then put your grungy, dirty clothing back on!?”
Sammie nodded quietly “Yes ma’am.” Kim squinted at first, but then smiled. Kim said “Wait, you’re so pissed, that you’re going to send us back into that hot shower.” Kim chuckled and said “We should piss you off more often.”
Anne stared at her coldly and replied “It’s not cheap!” Sammie pulled off her shirt and said “…or legal.” Anne shot her a look and Sammie held up a hand “Not that I’m complaining at all. We really enjoy and appreciate it.” Anne smiled wryly “It’s a perk of being food. The law says using hot water to wash a person is an illegally wasteful practice.” Anne cocked her head to the side lightly and continued “But… you aren’t people anymore and the use of hot water in cleansing of food in its preparation is legally allowed.” Sammie’s jaw dropped “That’s freaking genius!” Kim started to unbutton her pants and said “But, you’re not allowed in, Anne, are you?” Anne shrugged “The only time I’m ever in there is when I’m force-shaving a runner chained to the wall. Trust me, I’m not enjoying the water during those times.”
Sammie said “But, you never, you know… when no one is looking, or maybe between shipments ever want to hop inside this thing and get an actual, nice shower as opposed to those two-minute ice-bucket pieces of crap we’re allowed to have?” Anne shook her head “Never.” Sammie cocked her head to the side and said “Really? I mean, aren’t you even tempted.” Anne replied darkly “It’s an instrument for cleaning food. All the women who shower in there, they die.”
Kim pursed her lips and asked “Is it because of too many bad memories?” Anne’s gaze softened, but only for a second. She shook her head and it was gone “Just rinse off and get ready.”
They both disappeared in while Anne waited outside. In a few minutes, giggles and splashing could be heard coming from the shower. Anne shouted “Hurry up!” Sammie called back, laughing, “I suddenly feel like running, Anne. Maybe you should take off your clothes and come in here to hold me down. Why don’t you bring a bar of soap in for yourself while you’re at it?”
Anne threw a hand to her mouth to stifle the laughter that yearned to raise from her mouth. She clenched her jaw tight and squinted her eyes hard. She whispered to herself “They’re food, not friends. Food, not friends.” She leaned her head back against the wall and whispered to herself “Come on, Anne. Don’t make the Mary Jenson mistake again.”
Anne closed her eyes and remembered Mary. Over Mary’s short stay at Bistro Viande, her and Anne had grown incredibly close. She had a hard time remembering, between Mary and herself, who cried harder when she eventually loaded Mary into the oven. But, the end result lay seared in Anne’s mind…
Anne had to live on knowing herself to be Mary’s killer.
Anne took a deep breath to force the growing emotions away. Anne whispered “Die inside. Live outside.” She closed her eyes and pictured herself dead until the waves of memories and emotions passed. She reopened her eyes once more…
She remembered who she was. A consummate professional fully capable of a job that required her to kill two people per week.
Her face returned to its normal cold stare.
Approaching the boulder, Tempest jerked his head up in alarm. He pawed the turf and snorted. “What’s wrong?” Donovan trusted an animal’s instinct for danger. His eyes roamed the rocks with his hand poised over the hilt of his sword. A black shape moved out from behind the boulder. Donovan dismounted and held Tempest steady.
It was not a wolf of earthly variety, but Donovan’s mind labeled the creature a “wolf” in honor of the animal it most resembled. The lean well-muscled canine body looked similar to its cousin. The head looked long and narrow with alert golden eyes and pricked ears that shifted with each new sound. The eyes displayed an intelligent depth of expression.
He noticed a marked difference between this wolf and its earthly cousin. The creature stood on its hind legs, easily the height of a healthy grizzly bear. Although it was more slender than a bear, its muscled limbs looked formidable. With almost scientific detachment, Donovan noticed elongated front paws as the wolf extracted a deadly blade from a sheath strapped to its rib cage, a challenge on any world.
Donovan met the wolf’s steady gaze, his thoughts racing. An intelligent species, this wolf looked ready to fight. What rotten luck! I wish I could communicate. How can I avoid bloodshed?
“Greetings friend,” he said in a nervous croak.
The sound caused the animal to shift its stance. Donovan thought he saw curiosity in the alert eyes. If any creature on this world had the right to be called king, this regal animal was the one.
We accept acknowledgment of our superiority and spare your life. The message formed inside Donovan’s head, not in words, but mental impressions that he translated into words.
The wolf sheathed his blade and “spoke” again. We are Kriegen, leader of the Forest Guardians. The wolf lowered his body to all fours. Donovan sat—a fortunate choice as he later learned since a standing position offered challenge. To avoid battle a weaker creature observed a subservient posture.
A Novel of Murder. Mystery. Faith. Hope. Redemption
Bestselling Religious Mystery recommended for readers of Dan Brown.
The Lazarus Succession is a modern-day thriller with a medieval mystery attached to it. The discovery of which could change mankind forever.
According to legend, Annas Zevi, an artist who witnessed the raising of Lazarus, was told by Christ to paint what he saw. Over the centuries, his completed works has vanished, along with every other painting depicting Lazarus' resurrection. They were rumoured to be sacred icons with miraculous powers.
Broderick Ladro and Ulla Stuart are hired by a disgraced High Court judge, Sir Maxwell Throgmorton, to locate a long lost medieval painting by Spanish artist Francisco Cortez. Like Zevi, his work is said to be divinely inspired.
Throgmorton's client, a wealthy Spanish Condesa, is terminally ill and the icon is her last hope. She will pay and do whatever it takes to find the missing work of Cortez. Unbeknown to the Condesa, Throgmorton seeks to make a vast personal fortune from the discovery of the paintings, and plans to use it to reclaim his place in society.
When Ladro and Stuart learns of Throgmorton's deceit, they begin a battle to stop his plans. In the process, they discover a secret that changes their lives forever. Just as it changed the lives of everyone it touched across the centuries.
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author: Allyson R. Abbott name: Judy average rating: 4.80 book published: rating: 5 read at: 2017/09/20 date added: 2017/09/20 shelves: review: Allyson Abbott's new book