Val walked up to the old Victorian house, and the gun-carrying man by the door nodded at her as she went inside.
The interior looked the same as always: old-fashioned patterned wallpaper, decorative molding on the ceiling, and useless stuff everywhere. Fancy chairs that no one sat on were placed next to side tables holding vases of flowers. An antique cabinet of polished wood displayed knick-knacks of porcelain, stone, and glass. Oil paintings of scenes from the Civil War hung beside antique photographs and mirrors in gilded frames. You’d think the place looked exactly the same as it had a hundred years ago, and in fact, Val only remembered one thing in it ever changing. The old burgundy carpet had been replaced with hardwood floors. Probably because it was easier to clean up bloodstains that way.
Val found a maid engaged in dusting, which was probably a full-time job. “Where’s he at?”
“Out back, ma’am.”
Val went out the back door to the patio and pool. The landscaping made it look like a tropical rainforest was encroaching, and the pool itself was an enormous affair complete with a fake stone waterfall and a little bridge that led to a small island. Val had no idea why her father had it. He never went swimming. Maybe he liked the smell of chlorine.
His wheelchair was parked next to a table under a large umbrella, situating him in his own private shadow. He was dressed in the most casual, summery outfit he ever wore: a button-up white shirt, crisp khaki pants, and a vintage hat. A glass of iced tea sat on a coaster on the table, and his right-hand man, Joey Giordano, lurked only a few yards away.
He glanced up from the book he’d been reading when Val approached. “Val. Have a seat. It’s a lovely day outside.” Continue reading
Eddy’s job involved a lot of travel. It was one of the perks of the gig. He enjoyed the chance to see new places and meet new people, even if he had to dump some of those people in a shallow grave before he went back home. His goal was to visit each of the fifty states at least once. He’d been to thirty-eight so far and was collecting souvenir magnets.
At the moment, he was driving through the great state of Wyoming. It was one of his more pleasant drives, and not just because he didn’t have any cops chasing after him. The scenery for the past few hours had been nothing short of spectacular: grassy green fields, lush forests, and distant snow-capped mountains. It was the kind of place where a guy could get some real peace and quiet.
“That a new dress?” he asked his companion.
Irma Grimaldi, one of the scariest damn women Eddy had ever met, glanced down as if to remind herself what she was wearing. She was gaunt and graying, and Eddy had always secretly thought she’d look at home in a witch costume. But today she wore a pale purple dress and matching flowered hat, looking for all the world like she was on her way to Sunday mass. Oddly appropriate, since the two of them were heading to see a preacher.
“Yes,” she said. “Why? Is this a compliment? I think I might die of shock.”
“You know you’re gonna get blood on it.”
“Not if we keep this quick and clean like we’re supposed to.” Continue reading
After the dinner ended, JB found himself pulled out of the restaurant and bundled into a car. Nobody talked to him, and he wasn’t stupid enough to ask where they were taking him. Blueblood must have ridden in a different car, since JB couldn’t smell his cologne.
JB wanted to go home, to wear his own clothes instead of this scratchy suit, to lie in bed and listen to his favorite CDs for a while. He’d even settle for sitting on the couch and listening to The Price is Right reruns on TV with his parents, something that normally bored him to tears. Basically, he was up for anything that would give him a break from this constant fear. Daydreaming about home wouldn’t get him any closer to it, but it was better than dreading what would happen when he got to wherever he was going.
They ended up at a hotel. JB realized it when he heard suitcase wheels squeaking and a voice checking in at the front desk. His escort marched him through the lobby, dragged him into an elevator, and then finally pushed him down into a cushioned chair inside one of the suites. His own room? No, probably not. Blueblood’s cologne hovered ominously in the air.
“Thank you for coming, Mr. Dupree,” Blueblood said as if JB had freely chosen to visit. “I wanted to go over what our arrangement will be.”
A glass clinked, followed be a light sound of liquid splashing, and Blueblood settled into what must have been a chair in front of JB.
“I want you to use your abilities to foresee threats to myself and alert me before they happen. That sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?” Continue reading
The kiss was electric.
The moment their lips touched, it was like opening floodgates of emotion. He was so responsive, his lips soft but unyielding. He leaned into Val, and his hands went to her hips. The touch made her shiver. He tasted like coffee and other wonderful things, and her hands brushed faint stubble on his cheeks as she pulled him closer, but not close enough. Nothing could be close enough. She wanted to touch all of him at once.
How could a simple kiss feel so good? They hadn’t even started any of the really fun stuff yet. If his lips and hands affected her so much, then what would the rest of him do to her? She moaned, unable to wait to find out.
Dave stiffened. His hands fell from her waist, and suddenly it felt like Val was kissing a rock.
She pulled back. His face looked pale and shaken.
“I’m sorry.” His voice was hoarse. “I can’t.”
Val quickly gathered up all her emotions and shoved them into a small steel box.
“Right,” she said, and immediately regretted it. She needed to say something sarcastic and casual to show it didn’t matter. Continue reading
If you’re interested in hearing me gush about gothic romance and explain the inspirations behind Ghost Machine, I’ve got a guest post up at The Silver Petticoat Review about just that. Check it out here.
Also, in case you missed it, Hero Status won the shiny 2016 standout award you see below from One Book Two Reviews. They’ve got a great review of the novel on their site.
Moreen clenched shut her eyes as the Illusionist made a flash bomb.
It was a handy trick, and one Moreen had told her beforehand to use the instant they entered the house if things turned hostile. Yuna’s powers were an ability to manipulate light. Most often, she bent it to create her illusions, but she could also remove it to create pitch darkness like she had earlier. Or she could do the opposite and create a quick, blinding burst of it. Moreen’s eyelids couldn’t completely block the brightness, and when she opened them, a red afterimage swam across her vision.
Men were scattered around a cozy-looking living room, covering their eyes and swearing. Moreen’s team moved in. They tackled the blinded Kurodas, knocking away weapons and wrenching arms back into handcuffs. Moreen stayed near the wall, gun out but trained on the floor as she surveyed the chaotic room. Where was Yasunaga? She scanned the wrestling bodies, aware Yuna was doing the same thing.
A figure came in through the sliding glass door on the opposite side of the room. Moreen took one look at his stylized headphones and green costume and raised her gun.
The supervillain, Howl, attacked faster. Continue reading
Another year, another round of new year’s resolutions. Those of you who read my post on this topic last year may remember that one of my resolutions was to publish the third book in the White Knight and Black Valentine Series, Almost Invincible, in the second half of 2016. Thanks to starting a new job that turned out to be much more stressful and time-consuming than I anticipated, that didn’t happen, and I apologize. (But I did achieve my other resolution, which was to start running Fight Crime! (A Love Story) weekly on this site. So I’m not a complete failure.)
I haven’t forgotten Almost Invincible, and I made some good progress on it over Christmas vacation. My new resolution is to publish it in the second half of this year. As a bonus, I’ll be putting out a prequel short story in the White Knight and Black Valentine Series by the end of February.
I also want to write a side story in the same universe as Ghost Machine (I’m thinking of something starring Captain Melek, because she’s awesome.), but I’m prioritizing Almost Invincible for now. I have a dozen ideas for new stories, and my hope for 2017 is that I’ll be able to carve out the time to write them all.
Happy (Belated) New Year, everybody!