Death’s Curses Release Date

Editing for Death’s Curses is finished! I’ve gone over my editor’s comments and have applied some minor changes. It’s done! Now, I’m working on all the formatting involved to make the paperback and ebook look and feel like books that were traditionally published. It’s not hard work but it is time-consuming. I have even more respect for all of the wonderful people involved in this part of the publication process.

I’ve set a publication date for June 1st so anyone who is currently in possession of an eARC, please be prepared to post your review during that week. Anyone who posts a review will be receiving a custom made bookmark as a thank-you.

ARCs are still available to anyone interested in a free ebook in exchange for an honest review on Amazon or Goodreads. I have epub, mobi, and PDF versions.

In other news, the ebook and paperback will be marked down for a limited time after publication because it will be participating in the Kindle Storyteller Contest. So, if you’d rather wait until after publication to get a copy of this book, it’ll be on sale until August.

Death’s Curses Excerpt

Hey everyone!

I’m hurting for some good feedback.

As you know, my sister and I have been working on a young adult urban fantasy type story about Charlie and Jasmine (a pair of twins that were cursed by Death), and a tough-as-nails rebel from Boston named Esmeralda. The story is told from all three perspectives, with diary entries from a third mysterious party thrown in (it all comes together in the end, trust me). This is the first time my sister and I have tried writing something together as opposed to just brainstorming story ideas or giving each other suggestions for our current works in progress. The genre is also something neither of us has tried writing.

Naturally, we’re a bit self-conscious and uncertain about the quality of the story. I think we’re doing pretty good considering our inexperience, but that doesn’t really matter. What matters is what you guys think! Your feedback is invaluable to our process. Won’t you let us know how we’re doing?

Some things we want to know: Does the story make sense? Are the characters likeable, relateable, semi-believeable? Are there any cliche parts? Can you hear four different and distinct “voices” while reading or does one character’s “voice” sound too similar to another? Is the plot engaging? Is there anything you want to see more of (dialogue, setting description, etc)?

Keep in mind that this is a first draft. We’re more than willing to change things that don’t work but we need to know what those things are first. Here is the first diary entry and the first chapter to get you started. Enjoy!

**A note to my more conservative readers: Esmeralda is a complicated kid. She smokes, swears, and behaves disrespectfully. She might come off as offensive or abrasive at first but she does mature and find healing by the end of the story. If you’ll bear with her, I’m sure you’ll come to love her, jagged edges and all.**


April 11th, 1718

What is time? Is it merely an instrument to dictate the passing of years? Is it the friend that reminds us of who we once were? Is it the soothing doctor who erases deep hurts and covers them with protective scabs? Or is it something far more sinister?

I have been dwelling on the question of late. I thought I knew the answer once. Now, there is no way to tell for certain.

I’ve lived longer than I look. I was born when time was recorded differently. It has been too long since we visited our roots. Our home no longer exists, for our people died out centuries ago. Even the land itself has changed. We are all that survived that race, my Jerebald and myself. Adelina and Zebded still live as well, but they have forgotten where we came from. They have new aliases to hide their heritage. They are always amalgamating with the passing time. Meriabey and Frases only laugh whenever we mention home. They don’t realize how truly wondrous it was and how foolishly we discarded it.

The only reason I am recording my thoughts at all is because I no longer feel safe confiding in my comrades. Jerebald understands, for he has always understood me. The others used to, but in this last decade or so, I have noticed the change. My friends are not who they once were. Sometimes I look at them, listening to the words they utter, but find no trace of my beloved friends anywhere. Our views differ where once they were akin. It frightens me to think that we may not last together another decade.

We all chose this life. We all made the pact. We all swore an oath to be together forever. But forever has taken a toll on us. I fear it will be our doom. Us; the immortals. Our greatest desire, our greatest triumph, could be our undoing.

Again, I return to the question. What is time? It is the handler of change, a force of destruction, like a river beating relentlessly against an immovable stone. Our friendship, once immovable, once strong, once indestructible, has met its match.

….

Esmeralda

I threw the door open to the boys’ restroom, skidded to a halt just inside, and fell back against the door. Straining my ears to hear over the pounding of my heart, I bit back a smile.

“What kind of sicko hides in the boys’ bathroom?” Randi said, her voice warped with disgust.

“She can’t stay in there forever,” Karen said. “Let’s wait around. A boy’s bound to go in and kick her out.”

“We’ll see about that.” I glanced at the guy standing at the urinal, giving me an incredulous look over his shoulder. “Hey. How’s it going?”

Despite his surprise, his voice was calm. “I was trying to take a piss before some girl decided to come barreling in.”

“I’m not some girl. I’m Esmer.”

The boy scoffed. “What kind of name is that?”

“The name a couple of gypsies thought would be cool,” I said with barely suppressed annoyance. “What did you get saddled with?”

The boy sighed heavily and zipped up his pants, apparently giving up. “Charlie.”

I rolled my eyes. “Congratulations. You’re one of the lucky few with an average name these days.”

Charlie flushed the urinal and turned. He was shorter than I was but not by much. He was pale, with brown eyes, thick lashes, and dark skater hair that curled out from under his backwards ball cap. There was a skateboard strapped onto his plain black backpack.

Not bad, I couldn’t help but think.

Charlie gave me the once over with a quizzical look on his face. “The fact that I’ve never seen you before suggests you’re new but your clothes tell me you’re a native.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” I said, pushing away from the door. The black cotton skirt I wore ruffled lightly around my ankles as I moved.

“Does your shirt really need a vest?”

My eyes narrowed. “Who died and made you the fashion police?”

Charlie shrugged and went over to the sink to wash his hands. “I’m just trying to figure out how the ensemble works in your mind. The combat boots are a little out of place, if you ask me.”

“Nobody did ask you, but if you must know my dad was a marine. He gave me these.”

Charlie paused for a moment, eying my boots through the mirror. “Okay, that’s pretty dope. Any particular reason you’re here or do you just enjoy making strangers uncomfortable?”

“Who doesn’t enjoy making strangers uncomfortable? Watching them struggle for words is hilarious.”

Charlie shook off the excess water from his hands and then reached for a paper towel. “Who’d you piss off?”

I snorted. “Some chick named Randi. I didn’t know I needed to be initiated into her gang before I could smoke with them. I thought it was a pretty stupid rule and told her that her haircut made her look like a dude. I guess she didn’t appreciate my constructive criticism.”

Charlie chuckled. “Yeah, the boys’ bathroom is probably the safest place for you right now.”

“I figured.” Opening the door a crack, I dared to peek out.

One of the security guards was talking to Randi and her posse. Randi pointed at the boys’ bathroom.

“Shit.” I hurried away from the door, messenger bag slapping the backs of my thighs.

Charlie watched me with mild curiosity. “What’re you doing?”

“I’m not here!” I walked into a stall, locked the door, and stood on the toilet seat.

The security guard came into the restroom several moments later. “Curnble.”

“Sir?” Charlie said.

“Have you seen a girl come in here? She’s about 5’10, has short orange-red hair and a nose piercing?”

“No, sir. It’s just me in here.”

The security guard must’ve believed him because he soon left.

I unlocked the stall and came out. “Thanks.”

Charlie backed out of the room with a smirk. “Welcome to Green Bay Prep.” Then he was gone.

I glanced at my reflection and ran a hand through my fiery red hair. Heavy eyeliner and eye shadow made my green eyes pop.

Yeah, he thought I was hot.

Another guy walked in and froze when he saw me. “Um…This is the boys’ restroom.”

I frowned. “I am a boy.”

The stranger blinked several times before slowly backing out. I chuckled to myself and followed.

 

I ate lunch outside the library. The fact that I was eating my cheeseburger like a Neanderthal discouraged anyone from joining me on the bench. War and Peace sat in my lap. People gave me strange looks in passing, but those were easy to ignore. As the new kid in a small private school, I knew I was going to attract attention. At my old public school it had been easier to blend in. There were more freaks, Goths, and wanna-be gangsters to hide behind. There was just Randi and her gang, and a group of skaters who got together behind the cafeteria at this place.

How’s a girl to survive in this preppy purgatory? I thought with a sigh.

The sound of skateboard wheels along the sidewalk made me perk up. What were the chances that was Charlie? So far, my pit stop to the boys’ bathroom had been the most interesting part of my day. Maybe he could rescue me from this boring book I was pretending to read. Unfortunately, it was just one of the guys from the skateboard clique, trying to impress a group of giggling girls huddled together in the courtyard. I slumped back against the bench and frowned down at the book.

I might not be so desperate for good conversation if I had my phone. Man, I miss that thing!

The school was small enough. I was bound to have at least one class with the only guy worth talking to at this place…

 

And I did. Seventh period art class. Charlie rushed in five minutes late and had a brief conversation with the teacher. He looked irritated and a little worried. The teacher’s brow furrowed, but she nodded and assured him that he wouldn’t lose his place in the class. Charlie thanked her before rushing out of the room.

I watched the exchange with rapt attention. Getting permission to skip out of class on the first day of school? This guy just got more interesting.

Now that he was gone, the teacher proceeded to introduce the class to the projects we’d be doing this year. What a snore fest.

The only reason I signed up for this class was because I needed one more elective to graduate and my options had been limited. My move to Seattle had been very last minute; most of the classes had already been filled by the time I got here. It had been this or choir. I thought I had chosen the lesser of two evils. (I loved listening to music but I couldn’t sing to save my life.) Now, I was starting to think I was wrong. Fifty minutes later, the bell rang and I was free.

Well, not really…

Great Aunt Dinah’s graying Cadillac was waiting for me just outside the school’s main entrance.

If I cared about what my rich, spoiled peers thought of me, I might’ve been embarrassed.

“Not that I give a damn, but how was your first day of school?” she barked once I’d opened the door.

Aunt Dinah was the crotchety cat lady that darkened her neighborhood. She didn’t just frown; she scowled. She was too proud to wear glasses. Her squinting made her look like she disapproved of everything and everyone, which wasn’t far from the truth. She always wore her white hair in a bun. I doubted she even let her hair down to sleep. Oh, and she never left the house without her fluffy pink slippers.

I slammed the door closed, dropped my book bag by my feet, and said nothing.

“Sorry to hear that,” Aunt Dinah said as we pulled away from the school. She didn’t sound very sorry. “There are plenty of chores waiting for you at the house to take your mind off of things.”

I glared out at the window at the cars and buildings we passed. “I have a lot of homework to do.”

“Which you can do after your chores. You’re a smart girl. I’m sure you’ll manage your time wisely.”

I slouched in my seat because I knew it would bother her. “You give me too much credit. I was banished to live with you for the year after all.”

“Sit up straight. You might have made poor decisions in your personal life, but that doesn’t mean you’re incapable of balancing two projects.” She struggled with her turn signal. “Oh, I almost forgot. Your mother called this morning just after I dropped you off.”

I rolled my eyes. “Oh, yeah? What did she want?”

“To wish you a good first day and to send her love.”

I chewed on my lips, picturing the look on my mom’s face the night she had decided she’d had enough.

With exhausted tears in her eyes, she’d turned to her husband and said, “All right, Hunter. I give up. Deal with it your way.”

My stepdad had been more than happy to send me to his aunt in Seattle. He’d been itching to get rid of me since he moved in. He told my mom that Aunt Dinah would be able to teach me “a thing or two about discipline.” He assured my mom that I wouldn’t come back home the same “rebellious, stubborn child” I had been since my dad died. And that was all she’d needed to hear.

Despite the ache building around my throat, I forced a snort. “The guilt has probably settled in by now.”

“Your mother made the right choice,” Aunt Dinah said with confidence. “There is nothing for her to be guilty about.”

“Uprooting me from the only place I’ve ever lived just before my senior year of high school and forcing me to come to the other side of the country to live with a relative she’s never met doesn’t sound the least bit wrong to you? For all she knew, you could’ve been crazy, or an unstable old lady with Alzheimer’s, or a super neglectful person who would’ve let me starve to death!”

“Have some faith in your father, Esmeralda,” Aunt Dinah said, exasperated. “He wouldn’t have sent you to live with anyone who couldn’t handle taking care of you.”

I shook my head. “Hunter is not my father.”

Aunt Dinah pursed her lips. “He’s married to your mother, isn’t he? He deserves your respect.”

“The last time I checked, respect was earned.”

Dinah sighed as she pulled into the driveway of her ridiculous mansion. “I have my work cut out for me it would seem.”

I looked up at the house, dread making my stomach knot.

This monstrosity of brick and mortar had two stories with five bedrooms, three bathrooms, a sitting room, a library, a kitchen separate from the dining room, a foyer large enough to comfortably fit a Hummer, and the biggest wooden staircase I had ever seen. Not to mention the attic and the wine cellar could have passed for third and fourth stories. The exterior sported ridiculous Corinthian columns and a second story porch with a wrought iron balustrade. The clapboard cladding had been painted blue years ago but was now so pale it was almost gray. The grounds were lush and green, having been trimmed and watered by Dinah that very morning. It was more space than anyone would ever need and it annoyed the hell out of me.

“Why can’t you live in an apartment in some retired folks’ center like a normal old person?”

“Not that it’s any of your business but this is my family’s estate. I’d rather it stay in the family.” She climbed out of the Cadillac and shut the door none too gently.

I followed my aunt up the walkway. “You didn’t think to hire a maid?”

“Maids are expensive. Aside from being mentally taxing, you’re free.” Aunt Dinah opened the front door and scowled over her shoulder at me. “Well, come on! It’s not going to clean itself.”

I gritted her teeth and suppressed a groan. I hate my effing life.


Interested in reading more? Click on the link below!
https://www.inkitt.com/beccafox

A sequel to my scifi novel

Hey everyone!

If you’re wondering why I’m suddenly only blogging once a month, I apologize. I should’ve given you guys some notice. I came to the point several months back where I was just really overwhelmed and burned out. With the addition of a newsletter, it just seemed like I was repeating myself a lot and struggling to come up with new material. It doesn’t help that my life has slowed down considerably with the coming of summer. Nothing big and exciting has happened in a while. All I have right now are my new writing projects. So, for those of you still following religiously, expect to hear from me once a month from now on (unless something changes; then I’ll let you guys know what my schedule’s going to look like).

In other news…I FINISHED THE SEQUEL TO MY SCIFI NOVEL! Maybe this doesn’t seem like a big deal to some but it is to me. I finished this draft in three months; that’s a record. Usually it takes me somewhere between six months to a year. The Andromeda’s Ghost took me a year and four months to complete! I’m not saying this sequel is perfect (it’s a first draft after all) and I know I have days of editing ahead of me, but I’m taking a moment to celebrate. It was so much fun to write, and so easy! I’m thinking this was probably due to the fact that I was writing through the points of view of three different women, all of which had varying personalities, but were still female. I don’t mean to brag but I’m pretty good at writing in girl voices. Finding and sticking with Taren’s voice was a challenge. It also helped that I had an outline and a clear vision of where I wanted this book to go, two things I certainly didn’t have when I started writing it’s predecessor.

Here’s the blurb:

Chaos followed the untimely end of the marriage union between Princess Kylee and Prince Maju. Queen Miyako is too worried about her daughter’s safety to blame the princess, but she can certainly blame Taren Platinum. When a recording device full of diary logs is found in the princess’ room, however, the queen starts to wonder if perhaps she’s been wrong about the couple this whole time.

Jael wants nothing more than to return to her family, but Taren gave her an assignment before he was arrested: “Take care of the kids until I get back.” While babysitting and trying not to think about her feelings for The Andromeda‘s captain, Jael discovers that there might be more to family than blood.

Dr. Ezabrae Mortimer has lived peacefully among the Mirelings for years, despite the fact that she’s human and has glowing ocular implants. Then she’s given a new patient; the fugitive, Taren Platinum. The stories about him circulating the media never made sense to her, but she didn’t care enough to investigate until now. While discovering the truth about him, Ezabrae uncovers secrets from her own past. Can she ever go back to her quiet, ignorant existence on Palnach?

The Andromeda’s Captain is a new adult scifi/fantasy novel with romance, mystery, drama, and a bit of action to liven things up. Told from Queen Miyako, Jael, and Dr. Mortimer’s perspectives, this book answers the following questions: What was going on in Doeline while Taren was on the run? What happened to the kids after he was taken into custody? Was he truly alone during his trial?

Advanced warning: this book ends on a cliffhanger too. Mwahahaha! I know; I’ve become the very thing I once hated. (As a reader, I often cried in anger and distress when I finished a new book on a cliffhanger. I did not enjoy the wait that usually followed.) But, as an author, it’s a lot of fun. Plus, it makes readers keep coming back for more, right? Only problem is that there has to be a third book now and it has to be freakin’ amazing, otherwise you’re all going to hate me (even more than you’re going to when you read that ending! Hehehe. Sorry, I’m really proud of that cliffhanger).

Anyway, I’m taking a break from writing scifi to finish a young adult romance project I started a while back. Don’t worry; I have less than one hundred pages to write before I reach my goal. I’ll be getting back to the The Andromeda’s series as soon as I finish. And if this young adult romance project turns out to be as good as I think it is, I’ll share it with all of you. I promise.

For those of you who have already read The Andromeda’s Ghost, The Andromeda’s Captain is up on my Inkitt profile page. You can read it for free here. Let me know what you think! You can comment on individual chapters if you find typos or have questions about specific things, or you can leave a review at the end and tell me how you liked it overall. This will help me a lot when it’s time to do more edits. I always reply to comments and reviews, so it’s a cool way to connect too. 🙂

A second look at In the Dark

It’s been one week since my paranormal fantasy novel, In the Dark, was published. The first chapter is available on the book’s page here on my blog and also as a preview on Amazon, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Nook. So I thought I’d give you guys the chance to read chapter two.

If, after reading, you realize this is the best thing since sliced bread and you simply have to purchase the rest of the book immediately lest you spontaneously combust, there will be links at the end of the post. Thanks for reading!

 


 

Chapter Two

Considering the tornado cellar was a place a family would come to for safety in a catastrophe, there wasn’t anything useful. Avery found a few thin blankets, a rotting wooden table and chair, an old oil lamp, and a few bottles of water.

He cheerfully distributed the water. “Good to know our kidnappers don’t plan to kill us by dehydration.”

Lindsay propped the unconscious woman’s head up with a folded blanket and wrapped her up in another, hoping to make her more comfortable on the earthy floor. The woman stirred a little at being moved but otherwise remained unconscious. After the oil lamp had been lit by Avery’s handy lighter, the hostages emptied out their pockets and piled the contents before the light.

“These guys haven’t come to check up on us,” Bailey muttered, throwing a reproachful look up at the ceiling. “Either they’re too busy to make sure we’re still alive, or they don’t care if we all starve.”

Kyle’s stomach growled when he caught sight of the smashed Baby Ruth bar Bailey had added to their pile of supplies. Avery swore he had a stomachache from all the junk he’d eaten before being captured and Lindsay promised she wasn’t hungry, so Bailey and Kyle shared it.

“All right,” Avery said when the kids finished eating their meager midnight snack.
“Let’s see what we’ve got. Three cell phones—one dead, one broken and one having
no signal whatsoever—fifty bucks and forty-three cents, two pieces of squished gum,
a receipt for the Baby Ruth bar that has already been eaten, a small box of matches,
a pack of cigarettes. . .” He gave Lindsay a sideways smirk. “Now, Jules, really. A nursing student should know better.”

“Those are yours,” Lindsay said with a flat look.

Avery tried to smother a smile that was both adorable and infuriating. “You can’t prove that.”

“I’ve never smoked a day in my life and you know it.” Lindsay batted her brother’s hand away from the switchblade in their midst. “Don’t touch that.”

“But I’ve always wanted one of these.” Kyle sent a worshipful look Avery’s way. “Where’d you get it?”

“Now, that’s just stereotypical, little man. Not all BMX bikers carry switchblades. That could be Bailey’s for all we know.”

“Is everything a joke to you?” Bailey asked, her mouth twisting in annoyance.

“Pretty much.”

“What else do we have?” Lindsay asked, trying to be patient.

“We’ve got a comb and a piece of string, an MP3 player, two empty wallets, a driver’s license, and a note from a secret admirer.” Avery opened up the folded piece of paper. “Bailey, this is so junior high. How old are the people you hang out with?”

Bailey huffed. “Wrong again, biker boy. That MP3 player, the receipt, the comb, and the pieces of gum are the only things that I had in my pockets when I was taken.”

Avery turned to Kyle. “Sandy wants to know if you ‘heart’ her and asks you to circle yes or no.”

Kyle snatched the note and shoved it into his pocket. “I wasn’t going to circle anything. I didn’t even know I still had it.”

“Uh-huh,” Avery said. “Well, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m pooped.”

“How can you think about sleeping at a time like this?” Bailey asked. “We could’ve been snatched by sex traffickers!”

Kyle shuddered and wrapped his arms around his knees.

Avery threw the boy a worried glance before he cleared his throat and summoned a lazy smile. “Believe whatever you want, Bails, but don’t go spreading your fear around. It’ll only make things worse.”

“Everyone else is thinking it,” Bailey said, crossing her arms.

“We don’t know that for sure.” Lindsay scooted closer to her brother and wrapped an arm around him. “They could just be desperate lowlifes looking for a pay
day.”

Kyle was too quick to smile. “Yeah. I’m sure you’re right.”

“Kind of gullible, aren’t you?” Bailey muttered.

The boy flushed.

“Let’s not turn on each other now,” Lindsay said, wrestling with her motherly indignation. What’s this girl’s problem? Why pick on Kyle?

Bailey snatched the MP3 player before crawling away. “Whatever.”

“Well, that was dramatic.” Avery stood. “I’m going to find a quiet corner to sleep. Peace out, homies.”

Lindsay rolled her eyes at him and pulled her brother closer to her side. “I’m sorry you have to be here, munchkin.”

“I’m sorry you have to be here with him,” Kyle said, scowling at Avery’s retreating back.

“I’m an adult, hon. I’m perfectly capable of handling my ex.”

“Does it hurt a lot?” Kyle asked. “Seeing him again?”

“A little.” She fidgeted with a loose string on her frayed jean shorts. “But I expected that. I didn’t expect to. . .miss him, though. Not like this.”

“Did you love him?”

Lindsay watched Avery’s silhouette settle back into the adjacent corner of the room. “I did once.”

“Is that why you came back home? Because it was too painful to stay in Laguna?”

Lindsay sighed. “Yes and no. You deserved to know why I ran away to nursing school so suddenly, why I didn’t visit, why I hardly ever called.”

“It was Dad’s cheating, wasn’t it?”

Lindsay gave him an incredulous look. “You knew?”

Her little brother shrugged, staring intently at the dancing flame. “Not right away. After you left, Mom and Dad started arguing a lot. They stopped whenever I walked into the room, but I listened at the door once and heard everything.”

“I caught him having lunch with the other woman,” Lindsay said. “I saw the way he smiled at her. I knew they weren’t coworkers or friends. I confronted him about it later that day, told him to break it off or I’d tell Mom. He begged me to keep his secret. He wanted me to lie to you guys and I just couldn’t do that.”

Kyle nodded. “I understand.”

Her grip around him tightened momentarily. “You okay?”

He scoffed. “Our parents are going to get divorced. Are you okay?”

“No. . .but I’m glad it’s out in the open. Maybe I’ll be able to stay with you and Mom once this is all over.”

If this is ever over,” Kyle said miserably.

“Hey, don’t say that. Mom and Dad will pay the ransom. We’ll be out of here in no time.”
I hope. 
When she woke up, there was light in the cellar and not just the glow from the lamp.

Two men with masks crouched by the fifth hostage, murmuring to each other as they wrapped a clean bandage around her knee and gave her some medicine. A third man stood directly below the opened trap door in the ceiling, guarding the rope ladder. A fourth man stocked a small cooler with ice not too far away from the corner Avery had retreated to. A fifth man tossed a few rolled up sleeping bags onto the floor and eyed Bailey, who slept in another corner. A sixth man pointed the barrel of a gun at Lindsay’s face.

She went cross-eyed looking at it. Then her gaze slid up to meet the bright blue eyes barely visible through the holes in the mask. The heat of anger spread down the length of Lindsay’s body. The beast within reacted. It wanted to kill this man, to tear him apart with its teeth.

The stranger put a finger to his lips and gestured to the gun.

“We could use some hot food and a couple of pillows,” she said. “A little light would be nice too. I get it; you’re trying to scare us senseless by having us wake up to darkness. You’ve accomplished your goal already. Now let’s be adults.”

“Shut up! This isn’t a hotel service,” the man said with only a hint of an accent. He turned to his lackeys. “Hurry the hell up.”

They rushed to do as they were told.

“Leave some extra bandages and painkillers. I’ll make sure your injured hostage doesn’t get an infection and die before her family pays the ransom,” Lindsay said. “I’m a nurse.”

“Didn’t I tell you to shut up?” He hit her across the face with the butt of his gun.

Her head jerked to the side, her neck popping painfully and her whole face throbbing. She slowly turned to look at him, pulling her lips back to expose her fangs. A growl filled the space between them, low and menacing.

The man stepped back. “Holy shit.”

“Jules?” Avery murmured groggily.

Lindsay reined in her anger and shut her mouth, willing the beast to retreat. It wasn’t easy. She was one day closer to the full moon. Pretty soon, she would have no control over it whatsoever. The thought made her stomach clench in fear. I have to get out of here!

Avery sat up, going from sleepy to nonchalant. “Morning, gents.”

The men pulled out their weapons.

Avery held his hands up. “Whoa, calm down.”

Kyle woke with a start and huddled closer to Lindsay. She gripped his hand, heart skipping in her chest. Everything will be fine. Everything will be fine.

“You just scared us, that’s all,” Avery said.

None of the men in masks said a word. They backed away from their hostages, guns raised. It wasn’t until all the men had climbed up the ladder and had closed the trap door behind them that Bailey started crying. Lindsay hadn’t noticed the teen had awakened until Bailey sucked in a long ragged breath and sobbed.

Lindsay reached up to wipe the fresh blood from her face.

“Lindsay, you’re hurt!” Kyle gasped.

Avery scrambled to his feet and ran to her. “Those bastards!” When he was close enough, he reached out to tentatively touch the cut across her cheekbone. There was nowhere else to look but at his face, not crinkled in amusement, not lazy and indifferent, but open and vulnerable and real. It was like turning back the clock to four months ago, when they were still together, when she believed he’d never do anything to hurt her. Pressure built around her throat. The world blurred around his face and then tears cascaded down her cheeks.

“I’m sorry,” Avery whispered.

She could almost believe he wasn’t talking about her cheek. From the way he was looking at her, he could’ve been reading her mind and apologizing for breaking her heart. She turned away and hurriedly dabbed at her tears.

Avery let his hand fall back to his side, adopting a hollow expression. Before anyone could say a word, the unconscious hostage sat up and screamed. Avery dashed over to her. Bailey yelped. Kyle jumped with a girlish shriek. Lindsay stumbled to her feet, ignoring the pain that raced up her shin. It wasn’t sharp enough to send her sprawling but it did slow her down.

“Calm down. It’s okay, it’s okay,” Avery said soothingly.

Her face was frantic with pain. “My knee! Oh, God, my knee! Wait a sec…” She looked around, short hair bouncing. “Where’s Dev? Who are you? What’s going on?”

“D-Dev as in Deveron Bo, the actor?” Bailey raced over to join them. “You’re his girlfriend, aren’t you? Cordelia Ridge.”

“Whoa, Cordi Ridge the model? It’s very nice to meet you!” Avery said.

“Yeah, I’m Cordi. Who the hell are you?” She moved her hands as if to grip her knee, but then paused. Her teary eyes widened. “Oh, God, my knee’s killing me.”

“Just take it easy,” Lindsay said, kneeling beside her and holding out placating hands. “We’re not going to hurt you. Kyle, can you get me some ice?”

Her brother raced to the cooler to obey.

“I want you to breathe deeply and listen very carefully to what I’m going to tell you, okay?” Lindsay said.

The grimacing woman nodded and leaned back against the wall, biting her lip.

“My name is Lindsay Whittaker. I’m a nurse. I’m going to take care of you. We’re pretty sure we’re being held for ransom. Thanks, Kyle.” She took the ice cubes and placed them on the thin blanket lying next to Cordelia. “We should be all right if we keep our heads. Once the kidnappers have what they want, they’ll let us go. I’m willing to bet we’ll be home by tomorrow night at the latest.” Lindsay tore out the section of the blanket around the ice cubes and twisted the ends together. “Hold still. This might hurt.”

Cordelia recoiled from the ice. “Are you sure that’ll help?”

“It’ll make the swelling go down. I promise. ” Lindsay applied little pressure but kept the ice over the model’s knee. “Can you remember anything that happened before you were taken?”

Cordelia nodded. “I was with Dev. We had lunch and then he drove me home. Men in masks jumped out of the bushes as soon as he drove away. They. . .They grabbed me.” Tears streamed down her face. “I struggled. A neighbor tried to intervene, but they shot my knee and threw me over their shoulders before he could reach us. They shoved me into the backseat of a van, where a guy was waiting with a syringe. Whatever they gave me knocked me out and. . .well, now I’m here. What kind of monsters would—?” She noticed the kids and made a strange little sound of outrage. “You poor things! What’re you doing here?”

“Paying for our rich parents’ success, apparently,” Bailey said with an odd chuckle.

“But you’re. . .Kelly Dune’s daughter, right? How did you get kidnapped? Don’t you have your own security guards?”

Bailey sighed. “I have a boyfriend. My mom doesn’t know and neither do the guards. I go to Zumba three times a week and sneak away from the guards before the class is over to visit him. I was leaving his house when those guys with masks took me.” She scowled at her fellow hostages, suddenly defensive. “I wouldn’t have had to sneak around if my mom would trust me more.”

“Parents. They think they know what’s best, but just end up choking the life out of you.” Avery must’ve seen the questions on their faces because he adopted a tired smile. “Not a story you would want to hear.”

“Were your parents abusive?” Kyle asked, serious and curious all at once.

“Not unless you consider abandonment abuse.”

Kyle lowered his gaze. “Oh. Sorry. . .”

Avery forced a smile and stood. “Don’t sweat it, little man. It’s not a big deal. I’m going to go see what’s in the ice chest. Anybody want anything?”

Kyle and Bailey jumped at the opportunity to get some food.

“Bring something for me and Cordi, won’t you?” Lindsay asked, gently rubbing her shin.

Kyle nodded and jogged after Bailey.

Cordelia threw Lindsay a quizzical look. “Why do you think he’s here? I mean, if he doesn’t have a rich family. . .”

Lindsay had no answer for her.


 

To prevent spontaneous combustion:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B077XYDGKS/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=sl1&tag=tirgeapubli09-20&linkId=cb1f31cb67d0f46d8068e258f8860c5c

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B077XYDGKS/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=sl1&tag=kemberleeshor-21&linkId=2ddb60b7420ede928c9322fd1d39b5b6

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/764629

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/in-the-dark/id1321654138?mt=11

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/in-the-dark-94

Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/in-the-dark-daniel-fox/1123728398?ean=2940154642689

BBC’s Sherlock

All right, now that the series is over, I’ve been able to go back to Season One and watch it all the way through. I’ve had time to grieve and ponder the wonders of the show. And I have a few things to say about Sherlock.

  • I tip my hat to Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. It was a fun ride of interesting cases, with four unforgettable villains, plenty of sweet bro moments, nail-biting incidents, and plenty of laughs. The cast was well thought out; the actors and actresses did an amazing job. I loved the development of the characters, Sherlock, Mycroft, and Molly especially. Sherlock went from an antisocial, arrogant, selfish genius who couldn’t tell the different between being honest and being a jerk to an extremely observant man with a heart. Mycroft, similarity, grew in his relationship with his brother. Although, we didn’t see them hugging toward the end or developing inside jokes like normal brothers, they started showing more affection toward each other in ways only a few socially challenged intellectuals could. By the end of the series, I think it’s safe to say there isn’t anything they wouldn’t do for each other. Molly Hooper was still a little awkward and shy, but she gained some respect for herself and developed a boldness with Sherlock toward the end that made me respect her more. Of course, John and Mary Watson were always adorable together. It was heartbreaking that she had to die, but the growth that it produced in John’s character almost made it worth it.

 

  • I’m SUPER bummed that it had to end. With so many mediocre shows going on to their tenth seasons when they shouldn’t have lasted two, it seems a real shame that a great show should end after only four seasons. Of course, I understand that the actors have gotten busy working for Hollywood and becoming a part of the Marvel Universe. I can understand wanting to quit while one is ahead. But still they could have left us with some hope that the story of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson would continue if/when the actors had the available time. There was so much left undiscovered with Irene Adler and her complicated relationship with Sherlock. It was revealed that she still texted and flirted with him from time to time, and that he texted her back against his better judgement. She was definitely not good for him, but he would have totally been good for her if they had ever tried to make it work. But, of course, it could have never worked because Molly was so perfect for him. The last episode had her finally confess her love for Sherlock through a test Euros was forcing her brother to go through, and Sherlock destroyed a coffin with his bear hands afterward because he realized how much he hurt his friend the mortician. I would have LOVED to see how they made up after that incident. I might just create two characters in a story who are similar to Molly and Sherlock, just so that I can give them a proper ending.

 

  • Now I want to read the books. I know that the creators of BBC’s Sherlock modernized the show to appeal to this new generation and the books of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are set in…what, the 1800s? But I would love to compare the characters, the cases, and the villains to see just how accurate they were. Although, I think I can guess at the changes they made to Mary Watson’s character.

 

  • Euros was a stroke of genius. I’m sure everyone expected the Holmes family to have a third brother. Everyone was wondering about Redbeard and how it related to anything in the third season. Well, it didn’t relate to anything in the third season. The creators were just setting us up for the fourth season. I love it when people do that! It takes such planning, such foresight, to integrate clues like that into earlier works of literature or film. To the day, I’m still amazed at J.K. Rowling’s ability to take something small that she mentioned in the second book (Dobby, for example) and make it relevant right up until the last book. I find it hard to leave clues throughout a single book, much less seven! I still have much to learn about plot twists and important reveals it seems.

 

  • Despite the fact that all the secrets have been revealed, I’m pretty sure I could continue watching this show until the end of time. There are some shows that you can only watch all the way through, like, once or twice because there are certain eye-rolling parts or frustrating character choices or actor/actress changing or whatever. But there was nothing about this show that I would change, nothing that I wished would have happened differently, nothing truly cringe-worthy that could have gone more smoothly. That is so rare nowadays and for that, I repeat, I tip my hat to the creators of BBC’s Sherlock.

To love and to kill

Detective Victor Curnble leaned back in his swivel chair and rubbed his eyes. He’d been staring at his computer screen for hours, trying to wrap up the paperwork for this case. He was ready for this gruesome chapter to be over with, but the words wouldn’t come.

The detective sighed and lowered his hand. It was eerie, sitting among a sea of abandoned desks and chairs in the dark. His lamp and the ghostly glow of the computer screen were the only sources of light. Still more haunting were the contents of the evidence box sitting beside him. Detective Curnble peeked down at the three deceptively innocent teddy bears, each holding a giant red heart. The words, “I love you,” were written across the hearts in swirly white script. It all came back to him then, like a wave of dark images and grief-stricken voices.

 

“What have we got here, lieutenant?”

“Looks like a date gone horribly wrong. The victim was found tied to a chair before a dining room table set for two. There were flower petals, candles, and full wine glasses left behind, untouched. Along with this bear…”

“What seems to be the time and cause of death, Dr. Yang?”

“Liver temperatures suggest the TOD to be approximately six hours ago. The COD is definitely strangulation, although, these bruises along her forearms and hands are indicative of a struggle. Perhaps we’ll be able to find DNA under her fingernails.”

“Anything else to report?”

“The satin gown she’s wearing shows no signs of wear. The shoes also appear to be new and slightly larger than the victim’s feet.”

“So the killer dressed her in new clothes after he killed her?”

“It’s a likely theory I might be able to prove upon further testing.”

“All right. Let’s get her back to the lab. I want everything in this room bagged and tagged. Maybe our killer unintentionally left something behind for us to track him with. We’ll go door to door and see if anyone heard or saw anything peculiar last night.”

 

“Detective Curnble. We’ve found another date victim. Same MO as the young lady we found three weeks ago.”

“This guy was in the wind. We found no conclusive evidence to make an arrest. Why would he risk exposing himself by killing a second time?”

“I don’t know, but we can only hope he left us something at this crime scene.”

 

“Nothing. Just the same damn teddy bear and other useless props. How is he doing this? Why is he targeting these girls? What do they all have in common?”

“Vick!”

“Gina? What are you doing here?”

“It’s Chelsea. I-I think she might be in trouble. She said she was going to meet someone for a first date last night, but she promised to call me after to tell me how it went. I fell asleep while waiting up for her, but when I checked my phone this morning, I didn’t have any missed calls. It went straight to voicemail when I tried calling her. I went by her apartment and she wasn’t there.”

“Calm down, sis. Did she tell you where she was going to meet this guy?”

“Y-Yes. It was a bar. The Golden Mare.”

“I hate to ask, but is there any chance Chelsea went home with this guy?”

“After one date? She would never! Vick, I raised that girl to have more respect for herself than that.”

“I had to be sure. I’ll go check out the bar and see if anyone saw her.”

 

“Yes, I recognize her. She was sitting in that booth last night. She kept checking the door and the clock, like she was waiting for someone. She received a phone call around midnight and left. She looked relieved. I thought it might’ve been the person she was waiting for.”

“Did you see where she went?”

“She took a cab around the corner. That’s the last I saw of her.”

“Did you catch the cab number by any chance?”

 

“Yes, hello. My name is Detective Curnble. I’m with the Seattle Police Department. Last night around midnight, you picked up a twenty-year-old girl with dark hair and green eyes from a bar called The Golden Mare. Do you remember? Good. She’s gone missing. Can you tell me where you dropped her off?”

 

“Open up! SPD! Hello? The door’s unlocked. I’m letting myself in. Hello? Anybody home? …Oh, God. Chelsea.”

 

 “I’m sorry, Gina. I’m so sorry. I’m going to find who did this and make sure he never sees the light of day. I promise you.”

 

Victor gruffly wiped his eyes and turned back to his screen. He had fulfilled his promise. The serial killer, nick-named The Romantic, was serving a life sentence at a maximum security prison. No one else would die at his hand.

A door slamming shut caused the detective to leap to his feet and reach for his gun. A light had come on in a room across the way, probably while he’d been reminiscing. Abandoning his desk, Victor crept around the empty desks to the light. It was coming from the interrogation room. His eyes flickered from side to side as he reached for the doorknob. Just what in the world was going on? He pushed the door open. The gun shook in the detective’s hand.

The table was set for two. The wine glasses were full, the candles lit. There was a woman dressed in a satin gown tied to a chair. Her head lulled to the side, her foggy, unblinking eyes seemingly fixed on the floor. Sitting across from her was a little teddy bear holding a heart in his paws.

The door shut behind the detective. He spun around with a curse and twisted the doorknob. Of course, it was locked from the outside. He tugged with all his might, but the door wouldn’t budge.

“Oh, crap,” said a bored voice over the intercom. “You’re in a bit of a situation, aren’t you?”

Victor shuddered and looked over at the two-way mirror. For a moment, he could see himself reflected there; a middle-aged man with blonde hair, wearing jeans and a polo shirt, gun drawn, blue eyes wild with fear. Then the lights in the interrogation room shut off, and a light behind the mirror turned on. A young man in a flannel shirt and jeans stood there with his hands in his pockets, brown hair askew, amber eyes half-lidded.

Victor gripped the gun until his knuckles ached. Rage and terror churned within him. “How?”

The young man shrugged, the tiniest of smiles pulling at the corner of his mouth. “Doesn’t really matter, does it? What matters now is that Detective Curnble is trapped in a room with a dead body that appears to have been murdered by the same serial killer he put away.” His eyes widened in false surprise. “Could it be that you were The Romantic all this time, and you arrested an innocent man to avoid prison time?”

Victor let out a harsh laugh despite his trembling innards. “No one will ever believe that.”

The Romantic tilted his head to the side, his eyes traveling to the ceiling. Suddenly, Victor heard it; the sound of cars skidding to a stop just outside the building and doors being shut.

The young serial killer flashed a devilish grin. “Are you sure?” He gave Victor a lazy salute and began to saunter out of the room.

“Why don’t you stick around and find out who’s right?” Victor shouted.

The young man chuckled and kept walking. “Good luck, Vick.”