KISS OF DEATH
My girlfriend's son was seeing a girl and one of her friends was out with a group of five of her girlfriends one night. They were at a club when a guy came up to her friend and they began talking and having a good time together. She was really attracted to him and eventually he gave her a kiss. They began to kiss off and on during the night. Late into the night, he asked her to leave with him and go to his place. He continued to try to get her to leave with him. She thought about it and decided she would go with him because she really liked him. She went over to her friends to tell them she was going to go home with him. They said, "No, you shouldn't go home with him! Don't do it!" They kept trying to talk her out of it. She finally agreed with them that it wasn't a good idea. She didn't go.
A couple of days later, she began to break out with sores on her lips. At first she thought that it was a fever blister she must have caught from him. But then she broke out with more sores on her lips and all around her mouth too. Then it started spreading up the side of her face. She knew she had to get to a doctor as soon as possible.
She went to the doctor and the doctor ran some tests on the sores. She was sitting in the doctor's office waiting for the results to come back. Finally, the doctor came back in to talk to her. He had a person with the Infectious Disease Control with him and also the POLICE!
Her doctor told her that the particular type of bacteria she had can only be contracted from someone who eats HUMAN FLESH! She was horrified. They began to ask her questions and determined that she had met and kissed a guy that the police have been after for a long time. He was wanted for murdering his wife and eating her body parts! They told her he was a CANNIBAL! He had been on the run and avoiding the law by moving from state to state. The police knew he was in the area but hadn't been able to find him.
With her help, the police located him and arrested him.
No telling what would have happened to her if she had left the club with him that night. She might have become another one of his victims. He might have murdered her and eaten her just like he did his wife!
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I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.
A lifetime ago, a young naval aviator took the Oath. Tom McGuire, now a San Francisco PD Homicide Inspector, hadn’t thought about the Oath in years. That was all about to change.
A famous San Francisco newspaper columnist has been murdered. Some would say “executed”. Shot through the head, her arms tied behind her, knotted together from shoulder to wrist.
McGuire feels an eerie chill of recognition. After being shot down over North Vietnam, he suffered seven years as a Prisoner of War in the infamous Hanoi Hilton, enduring rope torture many times – his arms tied in exactly the same way.
A lifetime ago, another young naval aviator took that Oath. He also was shot down over North Vietnam, and joined McGuire as a POW in Hanoi. Almost forty years later, their lives were about to intersect once again.
This time with explosive consequences.
Branimir emerges from the Netherworld as a living legend and learns the Ash Tree is still in danger from the cursed dagger, kaelandur. An old friend compels Branimir to finish what they started at Melkorka. Once again, the former slave must keep kaelandur out of uncertain hands, while struggling to separate heroes from villains and friends from foes.
Why read 7 short stories?
7 is a special number for people all over the world. There are 7 days in a week; 7 deadly sins, 7 virtues; 7 colours of the rainbow; 7 Wonders of the Ancient World – and, of course, the 7 year itch!
These 7 stories are special, like the number itself.
Why an extra ½?
We all like a little extra and this extra comes with a bonus.
You get to decide how the last story ends. ‘The Night Before Christmas’ leaves Emily with a choice – and it’s not an easy one! Read her story and go for what you want to happen. Wonder what you’ll decide.
Grimly he shuffled forward a decisive five centimetres. Nothing was ever going to change the world or his place in it. Just one second of courage,then it would be over. He would be over, on his way to the pavement and certain death.
Hearing the Voices of the dead is something Gracie Charles has endured her entire life. When the power grid suddenly fails across the globe, she finds herself alone and facing a dark and dangerous journey through an unforgiving landscape, in hopes of finding sanctuary with friends who share her gift.
In the middle of the night, Claire flees her abusive, alcoholic husband Scott, taking their four-year old daughter along with her. Seeking some long-needed peace, Claire goes to her sister Annie and her family, hoping she can at last begin the process of healing.
As she embarks on this new life she meets a family friend. Buck, who seems to be everything any woman would want-successful, handsome, charming. Claire wants to let him in, but how could she be ready to love again?
And can they even survive when Scott will not stop until they are where they both belong?
How could it have come this far? She had sworn it would never happen again, and yet here she was, climbing the stairs into the open air at the top of the building. It was nighttime, cool, still, and starlit. She followed, hand trapped in his—if she could only find some strength, pull him down and watch him
tumble to the landing, she could step over him and go home and forget. She was here, she told herself, of her own free will. This would be the last time, and it would be easy to say so.
They stepped out onto the roof. He put his arm around her, nuzzled his face in her hair, and then led her toward the wall at the perimeter. He leaned her against it and moved up behind her, close, his face in her neck as she looked out over the blazing lights of Westwood. They were directly up two flights from her apartment, fourteen stories from street level. His arms crossed in front of her and his hands cupped her breasts under her robe. How did this happen? I despise this person! Yet she shifted her shoulders to accommodate his embrace from behind. She had liked him once. With reservations, yes, but he had been so charming.
He had helped her when, without even knowing it, she most needed help. She felt his left hand slide down past her belly, grazing the soft hair with his fingertips. He placed his right foot between her feet, prompting her to set them farther apart. A finger curved and found its mark—she gasped and realized she was moist, betrayed by her own body as it reacted, as if in pleasure, in spite of her feelings.
Her hair was still wet from a bath. He liked her freshly bathed for these sessions. Our little times together, he called them. As if they were lovers, but without the love. She concentrated on the rough texture of the stucco wall. He withdrew his hands and turned her around, then lifted her so that she sat on the wall. This is the last time, you son of a bitch.
Absentmindedly, she placed her hands on his shoulders as he parted her robe and bent to brush his lips high against the inside of her thigh. The wall was narrow and uncomfortable to sit on. Behind her, LA’s affluent Westside stretched all the way to the ocean. It had all seemed so thrilling when he first brought her up here—the danger, the craziness of it—she had convulsed in orgasm before falling into the safety of his arms and weeping in relief.
Now she felt nothing, not even fear. Just an odd detachment, like staring out a window into the rain, or waiting in a long line at the market. Soon she would simulate an orgasm so that it could all be over.
There was a pressure at her stomach and she felt herself tilting backward. It happened so suddenly she lost hold of his shoulders, and now she felt the sharp points of the stucco scrape the backs of her calves.
Falling, she thought of her brother, Jeff, and the time he saved her life. They were teenagers, bodysurfing at Santa Monica Beach, and he plucked her out of the ocean after a wave tumbled her for so long she thought her feet would never find the sandy bottom. Her last thought before she hit the ground was of the man on the roof. How clear, how perfectly clear, that everything they had done together had always pointed relentlessly toward this.
Jeffrey Fenner found out about his sister’s death while waiting for a plane to take him home. By the time he arrived at San Francisco Airport it was almost midnight, and now he had to decide between a nearby hotel and the redeye special. He needed a drink but the airport lounge was closed. He opted for the flight back to LA. He bought his ticket and headed for the men’s room. Locked in a stall, he sat on the toilet seat and put his briefcase on his knees. There was over an hour to wait, plus forty minutes on the plane, then the taxi ride home meant another forty minutes—it all added up to at least a half-gram of coke required for the duration. He opened the briefcase and pulled out a bank deposit bag, inserted the key into the lock, and pulled the zipper. Inside were a variety of neatly labeled vials and plastic bags. He located the bag marked “personal” and the orange vial that said “Valium.” From the bag he pulled a flake of soapy white crystal the size of his thumbnail.
Resealing the bag, he took out two Valiums, placing one in his mouth and the other in his pocket. He fished in his left shoe in the hollow of his arch and located a small amber glass vial. Using the vial, he mashed the piece of cocaine into powder and scooped it onto his driver’s license, which he then bent into a curve as he tapped the powder into the mouth of the vial. When the vial was full, he capped it and replaced it in his shoe. He transferred the rest of the coke on his license to the back of his left hand and lifted it to his nostril, inhaling sharply.
Refreshed, he closed up his briefcase, checked his nostrils in the mirror, and went back out to the lobby. The lighting was grim and everything looked dingy. The people had an equally grim look, as though lost or sentenced to an endless purgatory for travelers. It occurred to him that he hadn’t eaten in a long time.
In the middle of the lounge was a fast food stand. He joined a line of ten or twelve people who stood, zombie-like and silent, waiting for a Middle Eastern-looking guy with a red-and-white striped cap and matching apron to microwave a new batch of chilidogs. The food looked plastic, like the permanent display meals at a cheap chain restaurant.
He stared ahead and listened until the sounds around him merged into an abstract buzz. He looked forward to getting back home, although in fact he wouldn’t be going home; he had to stop by Rich’s place first and make a delivery. At least he could relax, have a drink, while they weighed product and did the math. Then he could finally go home and go to sleep. Sleep—he hadn’t slept in three days.
Muscles in his leg twitched with exhaustion and toxins; he felt creaky and brittle, cranky, jumpy, and increasingly sour. From the background of babble, one particular noise seemed to be demanding attention. It had a red flag on it, like a loud knock in the middle of the night.
“You are wanting something, sir? We have veddy good chilidog. You are wanting how many chilidog?” He found that he was at the counter, oblivious to how he had arrived there. In a moment of panic he realized his hands were empty; he looked down and saw his briefcase on the floor, locked between his ankles.
“Two.” He held up two fingers to verify. The guy handed him a pair of paper boats containing long lumps covered with something that looked like steaming dog food. Jeff paid, scooped up his briefcase, and turned away.
The food was ugly, but he was surprised at how good it smelled. He devoured both dogs, wolflike, sitting in the row of hard plastic seats farthest from the other waiting passengers. Afterward, he headed back to the men’s room to wash his hands. It was large and very bright, but vacant, so he took a quick blast from the cap of the amber vial. There was still some time to kill, so he pulled out his cell phone and thumbed Rich’s number.
“Hello?” Rich’s girlfriend answered on the first ring.
“Hey Lilah, it’s Jeff.” His voice echoed weirdly in the bathroom stall.
“Where are you? Rich waited, but he had to go out.”
“I’m at the airport in San Francisco. Things got a little hung up but I’ll be there by two thirty.
Think Rich’ll be back?”
“I haven’t been able to reach him. Are you still coming by?” He pictured her, with her high cheekbones and pouty little mouth. Her crazy mess of hair. They had been friends for years, but someone else was always in the way. He went to a concession stand and bought mints and a paper, then went to sit by the terminal at Gate 5, where Southwest Airline Flight #3714 would be leaving for Los Angeles at 12:10 a.m.
It was in the Metro section of the LA Times:
SUICIDE IN WESTWOOD
Twenty-eight-year-old Marilyn Fenner, a research assistant at UCLA, was found dead Monday morning, apparently after jumping from her twelfth-floor balcony.
Shit, he thought, no way.
James 'Big Jim' Peck is a professional game hunter in Africa whose life has evolved from wartime encounters to hunting animals; but when a client is killed in a hunting expedition gone awry, he's forced to hang up his guns and retreat to his plantation in the face of an ongoing investigation.
When a rogue Cape buffalo whom villagers believe to be infused with an evil spirit terrorizes local natives, Big Jim is asked to track and kill the creature. With the help of his trusted friend and partner, Caesar Wilde, and American photo-journalist Mary Watkins, they embark on an adventurous journey through the African bush.
After a series of inexplicable deadly encounters the hunters soon realize they are up against a creature unlike any other they have hunted, and it will take all their combined experience and courage to destroy the beast...or be killed!
Can Charity be trusted?
She says her name change was to show her commitment to charity, yet she has a dark secret and darker purpose.
Ronald Foster sinks into her clutches after his memories have been ripped from his brain, when his whole existence is in meltdown – and she wants him.
To keep him close she calls on Susie and Dimple, but Ronald has a mission of his own. Faced with his obstinacy, these three women ruthlessly exploit his greed, pride and lust – driving him to murder.
Against the odds, Ronald persists in his quest for vengeance, totally unaware that he’s staked his life on a bet.
In the end, Charity is unmasked and Ronald forced to confront realities beyond his comprehension.
His response is to tell his story – to warn anyone who’ll listen.
'No! I refuse to get on any more of your merry-go-rounds. This has to be a dream … a nightmare.’
‘As you wish,’ she conceded too easily. ‘It’s all a nightmare. Your sleeping imagination has dreamed up a wonderfully elaborate charade, a whole series of charades. Soon you’ll wake up and be back— ah, but where? That really is a question.’
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