Read the First Chapter of Dead Messages

Read the first chapter of Dead Messages

Dead Messages, a paranormal cozy mystery with a hint of the paranormal, hits stores in less than a month. Check out the first chapter below to see if it’s something you’d like.

Dead Messages Cover

Chapter 1: People are trash, especially Glenda

Sydney was cooking dinner when her phone dinged. Turning down the heat on the stove top so her tomato sauce wouldn’t splatter everywhere, she picked up her phone and glanced at the new message.

Glenda

I need you to come in tomorrow at 7.

Oh heck no. Sydney’s muscles clenched tighter than when she’d gotten her first body piercing, and her thumbs darted across the screen as she typed a reply.

Sydney

Tomorrow’s my day off, remember?

I requested it a month ago. You approved it.

Glenda

Change of plans. Last-minute wedding order.

I need you to come in.

Sydney

Have you checked with Marissa or Javier?

Glenda

They’re already coming. All hands on deck.

Sydney

I can’t make it. It’s my sister’s birthday.

We’re going camping. We have reservations.

Glenda fired off texts like she was shooting bullets and Sydney was a zombie she wanted to ensure never rose again.

Glenda

If you’re not willing to pitch in and help, then maybe you shouldn’t work here anymore.

This is a huge order, and I need everyone to do their part.

I don’t think you realize how much work it takes to keep this bakery in business, and I can’t do it without support.

We’re a team at Summertime Sweets. If you’re not a team player, then I don’t see you having a future with us.

Sydney leaned back against the kitchen counter and groaned. She wasn’t a slacker. She worked her butt off in the bakery, so shouldn’t she be entitled to use her vacation days? One of these days, she’d give Glenda a piece of her mind—when she had another job lined up, which wasn’t today.

Sydney

Fine.

See you tomorrow.

Sydney paced up and down her apartment. Long and narrow, it was a good space for pacing. The rooms lined up one after the other: bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and living/dining room. It ended with a balcony she could only use five months out of the year because Michigan was a barren winter wasteland. Boring cream-colored paint covered the walls, the carpet an even duller brown. She’d done her best to personalize the place, mostly with framed concert posters and potted plants that gave her something green to look at in the aforementioned barren winter wasteland.

She should’ve just told Glenda no. Sydney had been told she was intimidating—mostly by people who didn’t like her tattoos and blue-dyed hair. Five feet seven and pale from lack of sun, she didn’t feel intimidating, but she wished she could channel some of that menace and get Glenda to back off.

Sighing, she texted her sister.

Sydney

I’m so sorry. I’m going to be late tomorrow.

We can’t carpool. You’ll have to drive up on your own.

Alex

Oh no! Everything okay?

Sydney

Fine. The Frosting Führer is ordering me to go in. I freaking knew this was going to happen.

Alex

Didn’t you request it off?

Sydney

Yes. A month ago.

Alex

I’m sorry.

Sydney felt a fond warmth in her chest, looking at the message. Her sister had a bad habit of apologizing for things that weren’t her fault. She was pretty much the sweetest person ever; sometimes it made Sydney doubt they were related.

Sydney

Don’t apologize. I’m the one who’s screwing up your birthday party.

Alex

You’re not screwing it up. You can still come, right?

Sydney

Yeah, I’ll drive up as soon as I get off.

Alex

👍

I just feel bad. You don’t seem like you’ve been happy at work lately.

Was it that obvious? Sydney’s pacing took her to the living room, and she flopped down on the couch.

Sydney

I like what I do. Nowhere else around here is going to pay me to make galaxy unicorn cupcakes or a cake that looks like a human brain.

It’s just the hours suck and Glenda’s a demanding control freak.

I dunno. Maybe I should ask Caleb about that restaurant he went to work at after he quit last week.

Alex

No.

Don’t talk to Caleb. I thought you two broke up?

Sydney

We did. That doesn’t mean we can’t talk.

Alex

When you talk, it ends with you hooking up.

He’s trash.

Sydney

All men are trash.

Alex

Not true.

Sydney

You’re right. Let me fix that:

People in general are trash.

Three dots appeared on the screen as Alex typed, and Sydney waited. Was her sister composing an essay for her reply?

Alex

There are nice people out there. You just don’t meet them because you’re spending all your time with the walking dumpster fire that is Caleb. And if you want to give me the best birthday present ever, delete his number.

Seriously, don’t text him.

Sydney had already closed the conversation with Alex and was scrolling through her messages to find Caleb’s name. Her sister’s next text popped up at the top of the screen.

Alex

You’re texting him now, aren’t you?

Sydney had no good way to answer that, so she took the coward’s way out and didn’t reply.

 *   *   *

Sydney

Hey.

Caleb

Hey, sexy.

Sydney

How’s the new job?

Caleb

Not bad. The manager’s cool. She leaves me alone unless I need help.

Sydney

I’m so jealous.

Caleb

I know, right?

Sydney

So what have you been baking?

Caleb

Nothing lately. I need to go grocery shopping.

Why? You want to come over for dinner?

He sent a GIF of a romantic-looking dinner, the table topped with candles and a vase of red roses. Sydney rolled her eyes. He’d never put that much effort into a dinner when they’d been together, and they’d dated on and off for two years, so he’d had plenty of opportunity.

She needed to make sure their breakup stuck this time. Alex was right. Whenever they talked, Sydney ended up hooking up with him no matter how hard she swore not to. And since they had worked in the same bakery, he’d been impossible to avoid. They would chat about something innocuous like the birthday cake they were baking, and he’d tell a funny story about how his last birthday had ended with him doing karaoke in a Spider-Man costume. Sydney would laugh, and before she knew it, they’d be going out for drinks after their shift.

On second thought, getting a job in the same restaurant as him was about as intelligent as an alcoholic starting work in a brewery. What if she fell back into old habits? Assuming she got hired, she’d have to keep busy and avoid talking to him. She could even schedule her shifts for when he wasn’t working as much as possible. But would that be enough, or was she setting herself up for another two years of bad breakups and even worse reconciliations?

It was his stupid face’s fault. She’d be able to resist him if he weren’t so good-looking—and charming. That charm was the reason it had taken her almost two months to realize he was a lazy, insensitive flake.

Sydney

No. I mean at the restaurant. What type of desserts do they have you making?

Caleb

Nothing. I just prep lunch and dinner—chopping vegetables and meat and stuff.

Sydney

I thought you applied for a pastry chef position?

Caleb

No openings.

Sydney

Dang it.

Caleb

Hoping I could score you a new job away from Glenda?

Sydney

Yeah.

Caleb

What’d she do now?

Sydney sucked in a noisy breath through her nose. She had to loosen her grip on the phone before she could reply, her hands clenched tight like she was trying to crush it. She should really buy a stress ball or something. All this pent-up aggression couldn’t be good for her.

Sydney

Alex’s birthday is tomorrow. She’s been planning a big camping trip for months.

I got approval to take the day off, but Glenda just told me to come in tomorrow or get fired.

Caleb

That sucks, sorry.

Want me to see if I can get you a job here anyway? You’d be a good waitress.

Sydney

Seriously? I’d be a terrible waitress. Too antisocial.

Caleb

Yeah, but you’re hot. Guys would leave you big tips.

He really didn’t know her at all, did he? And they’d dated for two years.

Sydney

Look, thanks for the offer, but I want a job that involves baking.

Guess that means I’m stuck with Glenda for now.

Caleb

Want me to cheer you up? I could come over.

Sydney

No, thanks. I gotta go in early tomorrow.

Anyway, we’re done, remember?

Caleb

You can’t blame a guy for trying.

Sydney

I’m going to sleep. Talk to you later.

Caleb

Later.

And hey, don’t let Glenda get you down. She’s a jerk to everyone, and people like that always get what they deserve.

Dramatic Music Gif

Dead Messages comes out on January 14th is out now, and I hope you’ll give it a try. Get it in ebook or paperback from your preferred retailer here.

Kristen's signature

Published by Kristen Brand

If Kristen Brand could have any superpower, she'd want telekinesis so she wouldn't have to move from her computer to pour a new cup of tea. She spends far too much time on the internet, and when she's not writing, she's usually reading novels or comic books. Icon by @heckosart.

3 thoughts on “Read the First Chapter of Dead Messages

  1. Sounds intriguing! I love how sweet Alex is, instead of chewing Sydney out for being in such a tough situation. It’d be easy to say “Just quit already!” but it’s never that simple, is it? Also, that last line is so great! 😈

    Liked by 1 person

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