Monday, May 27, 2013

Visions of the Past: A Body Hunters Prequel

The Body Hunters by Raven Newcastle

The Body Hunters: Paradise Denied by Raven Newcastle … the fun continues in the sequel.

Marcel Labouleaux leaned back in his office chair, putting his hurting feet up on his desk in his New Orleans FBI office. It was late in the evening but he wasn’t working; he was however contemplating his next move. His feet were still smarting from the punishing kicks he gave to the custom chopper that belonged to his young partner Lucian Tepes. His knuckles were bloody and swollen from using Lucian as a punching bag.
 Lucian’s crime was being caught with Marcel's only daughter the morning after she slept over, giving her virginity to him. She had just barely turned twenty and even though technically old enough to make her own decisions, Marcel was blindsided by the relationship. He felt betrayed by the FBI partner he treated like a son, feeling he took advantage of his daughter’s innocence with men. 
He was also not ready to admit that his headstrong daughter was no longer a little girl he could protect. Not that Danielle needed protection; she could kick the ass of any boy who tried to take advantage of her, as her prom date from high school found out. Danny, as she called herself much to her mother’s dismay, had been a teenage terror, defying her parents and especially her mother at every move. Her tantrums and outburst were met with his stern discipline usually to no avail. She was going to do what she wanted, when she wanted and now apparently with whom she wanted.
Marcel had dreaded this day for a long time. He wasn’t ignorant to the fact it would happen, he‘d just hoped he’d been long dead or she at least married first. An old fashioned idea he knew and he also realized when it came to Danielle he was wishing too much. He just couldn’t figure out what she saw in the dark haired white boy with the slight European accent and dangerous bike.  He smacked his hand to his head realizing he’d just answered his own stupid question. 
Marcel rubbed his short cropped graying hair feeling the bald spot he figured would turn into a horseshoe in a couple of years. Groaning at the thought he closed his eyes and smiled reliving the image of beating the young man on the ground watching him bleed from his cut lip, that pleasant memory over with his mind wandered back to his daughter.
She was in college taking police courses claiming she wanted to be FBI just like dad. Marcel didn’t take it seriously, knowing she was just doing it to give her mother yet another reason to fret over her choices. She seemed to take great pleasure in torturing her mother on a regular basis. 
An image of his beloved Julianna came into his mind. Danny definitely was her mother’s daughter. Her long black hair and high cheek bones were features that made both of them knock out beauties. Danny was a caramel brown copy of her. The only other distinguishing characteristic she carried from Marcel was golden brown eyes which were a family trait they shared with his mother. Like his mother Marie, Danielle's dancing eyes could turn into dangerous daggers in a heartbeat. 
The debutante balls and finishing school Julianna had enrolled her in drew Danny’s ire toward her mother. The battle of wills and wits between the two was enough to make him want to drink. The slamming of doors and the I hate you’s that spewed from Danny’s pretty mouth on almost a daily basis from the time she was fourteen to eighteen grayed him quicker than anything else.
 Then there was the talking to the dead thing. Danny tried to explain it to him that she was psychic like his mother Marie. Danny was very close to her grandmere and her influence on her was calming, but this ghost business was too much. He’d scolded his mother for putting those nonsensical ideas into her head. He believed in what he could see and touch only and had no time for ‘I see dead people’ craziness.
Julianna followed his lead on the subject much like she deferred to him in most things which pleasantly surprised him considering her temperament and upbringing. Julianna Benoit Labouleaux had come from the bluest blood in all of New Orleans and desperately wanted to impart some of her southern belle manners and gentility into her daughter. He never argued about her attempts in fact he secretly wished Danny was a little more refined and not a carrier of the trademarked Labouleaux temper.
His mind wandered now of the pleasant memory of his wife. The headstrong southern belle he fell hard for. She could charm and cut you all at the same time with her smile. He allowed his thoughts to float to a special time and place he knew they would be devoted to each other forever.
 The evening soirée was the highlight of the social season. Everyone who was anyone in the Parish was in attendance, private invitation only. The light orchestral music floated in the late January night from the stage set around potted pink and purple orchids.  Tuxedoed waiters greeted the throngs of guests arriving to take their seats amongst the white linen tables. The silverware was real and the goblets were made of the purest crystal. No expense was spared for the twentieth anniversary dinner of Jeannette and Louis Benoit at their exclusive and not so inclusive country club. The demanded attire for the evening was evening gowns and tops and tails. Rounding the club’s circular driveway was the white horse drawn carriage that held the guests of honor. They made their grand entrance to the polite applause of the standing guests as they took their seats at the head table. Missing was their nineteen year old daughter Julianna, who snuck away while pretending to get dressed for the affair. Julianna had a special surprise for her parents, who to her were more acquaintances than parents having been brought up and taught more about life by nannies and the house staff.
Julianna planned to bring a special date, her newly minted husband she secretly eloped with just the day before. The young, handsome man with the dangerous grin that made her melt into a puddle every time she saw him waited for her outside her window nervously twisting his hands. This was going to get ugly, Marcel Labouleaux mused. He was not a blue blood, he had no money, and most of all he was black. That fact alone, he had warned her before they took their vows, would get her disowned by her family. She didn’t care, he was all she could think or care about, that and their precious baby growing inside of her.
He placed his hands on her hips to steady her as she descended the ladder. He hoped they were undetected by the house staff that was under strict orders to report her whereabouts immediately, especially if she was seen in the company of him. He turned her around and gave her a quick kiss. “Are you sure you want to do this tonight?”
She gazed lovingly at him. “No time like the present.” She smiled that charming but dangerous smile. He knew there was no talking her out of it.
They quickly snuck off the grounds and into Lucille, his 1970 cherry red Camaro, the only thing of value Marcel owned and the second love of his life. Peeling away down the tree lined street with the throaty engine roaring, he watched her being carefree, almost giddy as she sang along to Ray Parker Jr.’s  Ghostbusters .
The crowd parted as Julianna stormed past the Maître de with Marcel in tow after being told only she could enter the country club.  Flutes of champagne and food trays were overturned as she pushed the unfortunate waitstaff out of her way. The club’s elder trustees tried to stop her march toward the dining area where her mother and father were now alerted to their daughter’s presence.
“We’ve contacted the police Mr. Benoit.” The silver haired club trustee advised to an astonished Louis.
“Yes Daddy, please have us arrested! I’d love nothing more than to spend my honeymoon in jail!” Julianna spat out as the crowd gasped surrounding the young couple.
Marcel tried to match his new wife’s resolve standing tall wrapping a protective arm around her.
“Honeymoon?  You better not be telling me you married…him!” he pointed his finger at Marcel. Jeannette feigned a swoon.
“Oh mother really! And yes daddy! I believe you know your new son in law!”
He did indeed know his new son in law; Louis Benoit had hired him as a porter few months back for a car dealership he owned. It was there in Louis’s office that Marcel first laid eyes on the young temperamental Julianna, filing papers, falling head over heels for her. He was fired and threatened with great bodily harm by Louis after being discovered making out with his daughter in the back of his Camaro. No daughter of his was going to date let alone give herself over to a black boy he told her as he grounded her for the umpteenth time.
“Julianna we’ve had enough of your foolishness, you’ve made your point now please come here!” Jeannette reached for her daughter’s arm having made a miraculous recovery from her sudden case of the vapors. “And you young man had better leave before the police arrive.”
“Get your hands off me mother, this is for real we are married and you’d better get used to it!” Julianna yelled swatting her mother’s hand away.
Marcel upon hearing the sirens closing in, prayed for a miracle as images of police batons across his head tortured him. “Honey maybe we should go now.”
Louis snarled back. “Yes Julianna maybe you had better listen to your husband and leave, but know this, as long as you are with him, you do not come back home!”
“You want me to leave just like your other family daddy? How are your sons doing daddy!  You know the twins? I hear you’re sending them to a boarding school in Spain. They should fit in perfectly with their brown skin!” Julianna’s trademarked smile betrayed to her father she knew much more about his secret love affair than she was even disclosing now. She was playing a dangerous game of chicken with him.
“I…I don’t know what you are talking about! Stop making up lies Julianna!” Was all he could stammer. His own eyes showed his guilt as Jeannette slapped him across the face.
“So it is true!” Jeannette cried as she fell back into her chair. “You’ve been lying me all these years! Those are your sons with Vivian, how could you?”  Jeannette pushed him away as he tried to reach out to her.
Satisfied that her father had enough trouble on his hands at exposing his scandal, Julianna turned on her heel and led her husband out the front door and dared the patrolman to stop her.
Marcel took a deep breath as he drove Lucille away from the pretentiousness of the club. “Um…Honey? Is it true? About your dad I mean.”
Julianna answered him in her best southern drawl. “Yes darling it is. I do declare daddy was diddling the cook. She threatened to expose their illicit affair to mother if he didn’t pay her off. He got her another position after she had my half brothers and I’m sure out of guilt he’s agreed to take care of them financially.”
Marcel was stunned. “How long ago was this?”
“They are ten now I think. I’ve only seen them once at a park with Vivian. I confronted her a few years back after I found some pictures of them with daddy in his desk drawer. She said he barely acknowledged them but has consistently paid for their education, keeping this fact away from mother of course.” Julianna curled into Marcel’s arm as the headlights from oncoming vehicles passed them in what seemed like to Marcel slow motion.
“Girl that is some crazy shit!” Marcel laughed as he turned down the street leading to his mother’s restaurant. “Mama will be waiting for us, she’s probably been by the phone the whole time worrying we’re in jail or worse. You don’t mind living with her for a while, do you?”
Julianna squeezed his thigh. “Anywhere with you baby!”
“Back at ya baby but you keep squeezing me like that we’re never going to make it past the back seat.”
Julianna laughed. “That back seat is what got us in this situation in the first place.” She patted her belly laughing. “Do you think we’ll tell Danielle about it someday?”
“Daniel you mean! It’s a boy I can just feel it.” Marcel grinned. “I plan on giving this car to him when he’s old enough to take care of it so maybe we keep that information of where he was conceived to ourselves.” Marcel grinned. 
Julianna sang along under her breath to Prince’s The Beautiful Ones. Marcel didn’t know what the future held for them but he knew it would always include her by his side.
 Marcel awoke at two am practically falling out of his office chair. The yellow street light illuminating a rain soaked lonely street outside. He heard the whir of a vacuum cleaner in the next office. The cleaning staff must have arrived. He never really thought about who emptied his trash can, it was just always ready for another days paper waste when he arrived in the morning. His reminisces and dreams of days long ago over made him temporarily forget why he even escaped his home.  The familiar bruised figure in his doorway refreshed his memory.
“Taking your life in your own hands Lucian.” Marcel barked.
“Please Marcel we need to talk.” Lucian Tepes dared Marcel’s gaze as he carefully walked over to the chair in front of Marcel’s desk.
“God help me tell me you love her and she’s not just a fuck to you.”
“I love her with all my heart Marcel, I…we never intended to hurt you or Julianna I swear. I want to marry her.”
Marcel took his gun out of his desk and held it in his hands inspecting it. “That’s noble of you, does she know this?” He said sarcastically.
Lucian licked his dry lips watching Marcel inspect the bullet chamber. “She doesn’t know that’s what I want. Not yet anyway.”
Marcel pointed the gun at Lucian. “Do you really think this is wise telling me this at two in the morning after the night we just had? Is this a special brand of Romanian stupidity?” He said referring to Lucian’s nationality and homeland.
“I just wanted you to know how I feel; she’s not just another girl to me.” Lucian closed his eyes waiting for a bullet to explode his skull.
Marcel leaned back and drew a deep breath; he put his Glock back in the drawer and locked it. Rubbing his chin looking out the window he could see the reflection of the beat up young man and himself, except his mind’s eye kept seeing himself on that fateful day at the country club.  
“Take this under advisement Lucian, should my daughter do you the honor of becoming your wife, you’d better elope and never let me catch wind of it before hand. If and it’s a big if, she decides to do such a stupid thing with you, I can guarantee you my reaction will be ugly, but I won’t beat you down again for her sake and Julianna’s. For some reason Julianna likes you.  You will take a few days off and heal, and then when you come back you will make up some excuse to be reassigned to a new partner, got it?”
“Yes sir.” Lucian nodded his agreement as well.
“Do not tell my daughter or my wife you were here tonight or that we talked or I’ll call in all the favors I have and have your sorry ass assigned to some remote outpost in Alaska. Hear me boy?”
“I mean it when I say I love her.” Lucian said as he got up leave.
“I don’t doubt you do but I’m going to make you prove it at every level son.” Marcel stood up and held out his hand for Lucian to shake. Hesitantly Lucian took his hand in a firm grip.
“I would expect nothing less.” He said as he left Marcel in his office and to his thoughts.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Danielle and the Jewel Thief

Please enjoy another short story on our heroine from The Body Hunters and The Body Hunters: Paradise Denied.
The Body Hunters by Raven Newcastle

The Body Hunters: Paradise Denied by Raven Newcastle … the fun continues in the sequel.
The glaring red and blue flashing lights of police cars are out of place in this neighborhood. It's one of those communities where people always say 'that kinda thing doesn't happen here', usually said after that ‘thing’ that couldn't happen, does happen. The Garden District of New Orleans' is known for its lavish mansions and high society living. I ought to know, I have estranged relatives living in this particular neighborhood somewhere.

I've never laid eyes on them since they disowned my mother after she defied them and married a man not only of Creole-Haitian descent, which in their eyes was already sinful, but also a man below her station, which was to them downright societal blasphemy. I’ve never even met my maternal grandparents, not by my parent’s choice but theirs and if they had a coronary about her marrying him, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't be happy to see the biracial child produced from what they considered an unholy union.

I push away the annoying memories of forced debutante balls and frilly gowns as we approach the crime scene. I let out a deep breath and get my mind focused on the task at hand. You see, there's something you didn't know about me; I'm psychic.

This ability has run in my family for generations. My father’s mother, my beloved grandmere Marie, trained me how to use my gift, just like her mother trained her. My ability to communicate with the dead allows me to witness the last few moments of a victim's life.

You don't need to be psychic to find this the address because the emergency lights are like a beacon filling up the sweltering New Orleans night. That cynical part of me wonders if there would be this kind of police presence if this shooting happened in the seventh ward or any of the other bad neighborhoods, but I shove that thought aside, a victim is a victim.

I pull the New Orleans Police Department issue Crown Vic into the circular drive a little too fast for my partner, Charlie Robinson's taste.

Unlike me, a New Orleans native, Charlie is a transplant from Detroit. With the economic downturn in Michigan, he left the Detroit Police Department and headed down to New Orleans where good officers were needed.

He’s built like a pro wrestler, over six feet tall and burly. I tease him all the time about how his bald head looks exactly like a giant milk dud. Charlie was my mentor when I first made detective and he’s like the big brother I never had. I also school him on all things N'awlin's, so we learn from each other, which makes our partnership work.

"I swear Labouleaux, are you trying out for NASCAR? Next time I'm driving!" He complains, releasing his gripped fingers from the dashboard, but I know he doesn't mean it. He gets out of the car wobbling like he's getting off a roller coaster. “This is not your Camaro.”

“Sorry gramps but we needed to get here before the turn of the next century. You know you drive like you're driving Miss Daisy!” I rag him on his grandfatherly driving skills. He just scowls at me and growls under his breath, something about ‘damned kids’.

I laugh at him as I pull my black hair into a ponytail. It's hot and sticky out here and it's driving me crazy clinging to my neck. At the moment I'm giving serious thought to chopping it off again, but that fact that my mother liked my hair long makes me reconsider.

My attention is drawn to the ambulance, which is stationary and not rushing away from the scene. That doesn’t bode well for our victim. Our initial call of ‘shots fired’ is probably a homicide at this point.

We approach the grand mansion’s large double doors that are guarded by two uniformed officers, acting as if they’re club bouncers than men in blue. After checking my badge, which hangs around my neck on a chain and Charlie’s which is on his hip, they allow us entry.
My eyes are assaulted by a riot of color, sequins, feathers, and rhinestones. The festive attire now seems out of place since most of the partygoers are in tears behind their masks or wearing looks of outright shock. The DJ has since stopped playing music, but the disco ball is still twirling, beads of light striking every possible surface in the room making the scene look like a surreal nightmare. Out of the hundred people in attendance, a few are quarantined to tables that once held refreshments as they give their accounts of the events to officers.
“Okay, tell me again what’s going on here.” Charlie requests, as he shakes his head at a shirtless man in a mask and sparkly pink tutu. We’re heading up the grand staircase to the bedroom where the crime happened.
“Oh Dear Charlie,” I begin in my patented snarky southern belle tone. “We are in the very mansion that belongs to Genevieve Lablanche. Every year for the past ten years, Madame Lablanche throws her summer masquerade extravaganza for the elite citizens of N’awlins.” I exaggerate the word extravaganza with a quick hand wave.
“She lets all these people in her house?” Charlie asked unbelievingly as he soaks in the mansion’s well placed but overpriced antiques.
“Yes, usually there are around one hundred people or more in attendance.” I provide in my normal voice.
“And every one of them is a suspect.” He says. His Detroit distrust is showing on his face.
We arrive in the bedroom of Genevieve and the first thing I see is red. It’s everywhere, on the white carpet, on the walls, just red everywhere. Genevieve is laying face up, a large blossomed flower of dark maroon spread all over her beautiful white sequined gown, her bottle blonde hair spread like a halo over the floor. There’s a large hole in her forehead right above her sequined mask and her dead eyes are open. Held in a literal death grip in her right hand is a diamond necklace, now splashed with dried blood.
“Shit.” Charlie mutters, stepping around the body.
“Gunshot wound to the chest and forehead.” I announce, not at all perturbed by the sight of a dead body. I’ve been trained since I was a child to use my psychic gift, so I’ve seen the ugliness of death several times over the years.
Getting our fill of the crime scene, we seek out the witness in the adjacent bedroom. Talking to a uniformed female officer with a wadded snot rag in her hand is Genevieve’s best friend, Bianca. Her dark hair is a tangled mess, like the cats have been sucking on it, as my grandmere would say. Her hands and dress are covered in the rusty red of dried blood. She’s shaking like a leaf and a road map of running mascara covers her face.
The female cop introduces us and leaves the room.
“Aren’t you a little too young to be a detective?” Are the first words out of her ruby red painted mouth.
“Aren’t you a little too old for that dress?” I shoot back.
She immediately looks down at the cotton candy pink garment, which looks like she got it on sale at Ho’s R Us.
“Uh, ma’am.” Charlie intervenes. “Can you tell us what happened to Ms. Lablanche?”
She recants the story of how Genevieve retreated upstairs for her third costume change for the evening, when she heard the commotion. Checking on her friend, to her horror, Bianca caught Genevieve tussling with an armed intruder over a necklace when she saw the man shoot her. She tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate her friend, but it was too late.
As she starts to describe the murder, she gets more and more hysterical. After asking for a description of the killer, which she can’t provide, we release her.
We question a few more witnesses and see the body off to the coroner. Charlie and I decide there’s not much more we can do until the crime scene team has gone over everything. Or rather, there’s nothing more Charlie can do.
Even though it’s nearly five in the morning, my grandmere is waiting for me when I arrive. She’s bundled up in her housecoat, slippers and an old lady scarf wrapped tightly around her head. She gives me a sleepy smile as I walk through the door. No matter how late I’m out working, she always waits up for me.
“What are you doing up so late?” I ask her as if I don’t know the answer. I kiss her with a light smack on the cheek.
“Now you know I can’t rest until I’m sure you’re home safe. What’s going on?”
She never tires of hearing my cop stories. “Somebody murdered Genevieve Lablanche.”
She wrinkles up her nose like she does when she’s thinking. “I knew her mama when I was coming up. She was a real nice lady. I can’t say the same for her daughter, though. Clara would be turning in her grave at some of the stories I’ve heard about her daughter.”
For years, Genevieve parties had been the talk of the town. Her mansion she inherited from her blue blood family had been turned into a den of debauchery. Her family fortune was often spent on wild parties and designer drugs for her so-called friends. The sterling Lablanche name was now tarnished and rusty, thanks to Genevieve’s actions. Now with her death, there would be no chance to redeem it.
But it wasn’t my place to judge her life. She was my victim and I was her advocate. After a few more words with Grandmere, I head upstairs to my bedroom.
I spill the minimal contents of the case file on my bed, but I’m not interested in the paperwork or the police reports. My doorway into the spirit realm is Genevieve’s photo, which I found at the house.
My eyes focus on the picture of the woman, just probably an hour before she made the transition into eternity. I let my eyes shut and I get that distinctive tingle in my back that feels like I’m being touched by someone with icy fingertips.
My eyes open and I’m in the middle of a party. Genevieve is standing beside me in that gorgeous white gown, only it’s not splattered with blood. She's my guide through the last moments of her life.
The chaos of a party is going on around me, but due to the limitations of my gift, I don’t hear a sound. It’s like watching a movie with the mute button on. It’s why I really concentrate on the visual details.
Around me the guests gyrate and bounce to the music I can’t hear. Their faces are concealed behind masks and I find myself searching their eyes for any sign of malice. It’s a little hard when there are people dressed as devils, demons, and grim reapers staring back at me.
After a little while, I watch as Genevieve ascends her staircase, never to return again. I follow, to the second floor, ignoring the drug use and x-rated acts that are going on in the other rooms. I’m standing in Genevieve’s bedroom, bearing witness as she pulls a glittery purple cocktail dress from her walk in closet. From the jewelry box on her dresser she removes the same diamond necklace she died holding within her hand.

 A shadow in a corner of the darkened room comes to life, eyes intently watching her. The shadow moves and she drops her mouth. He approaches; a duffel bag dripping diamonds on the floor is slung over his shoulder. Their limbs tangle until the prowler has Genevieve in a headlock. The two of them thump against the bedroom wall as she fights back. In the struggle, Genevieve removes the burglar's mask.

He's Cajun, with stringy brown hair and dark brown eyes. I commit his facial features to memory.

Genevieve and the burglar are now tussling across the bedroom floor. Genevieve knees him hard in the crotch, crab crawling away from him and into a far corner of the room. Somehow she's still holding on to that necklace, her chest heaving heavily. Wobbly on his feet, the prowler stands up, holding his crotch.

Both their heads turn as the bedroom door opens and the lights flicker on. Wearing a look of surprise, Bianca enters the room wearing that tacky pink dress, shutting the door behind her. She looks first to the burglar before turning to her best friend. She removes her mask and saunters up to the man, her hand groping around his waist till she finds what she’s looking for. The gun she retrieves is obscenely large in her small hand.

Bianca handles the gun like a kid with a toy. She poses like one of Charlie's Angels before walking over to her best friend. The burglar grabs Bianca's arm, mouths no to her but she shrugs him off.  Her eyes are set on Genevieve and what I see in them I don't like.

She levels the gun at her best friend and pulls the trigger as easily as taking a breath. I rewind the scene and play it again as the muzzle flash illuminates Bianca's face in an evil light. After she puts the bullet into her BFF's abdomen, Bianca puts one between Genevieve's eyes for good measure. I rewind the scene and watch it play out five more times. It's not that I'm naive and can't believe it, I am a cop after all. It's just that this is so unbelievably cold blooded. Bianca and Genevieve have been besties since kindergarten.

I'm also curious as to how this cat burglar plays into things. What exactly is his involvement?

I rewind and playback the murder over and over until I'm mentally exhausted. I decide to finally call it night and drift off the sleep, though the murder still plays in my head whether I like it or not.

The ringing of my cell phone, desperate for my attention is what wakes me sometime around noon. Charlie is on the line saying that they've caught the killer and to be ready in ten minutes. I'm fresh out of the shower and dressed by the time the wheels of the Crown Vic touch Grandmere's driveway.

Before he can even put the car in reverse, I tell him that the burglar is not the killer. He gives me a look and nods his understanding. Though I have never gone into details about my abilities to Charlie, he knows that there's something going on with me and that most times my hunches are correct.

The Cajun cat burglar, Remy Fontaine, as his fingerprints identify him is waiting in an interrogation room with his court appointed lawyer. His hairy hands are shackled to the metal table.

Charlie goes in playing bad cop, threatening bodily harm and the electric chair if Remy doesn't come clean. Remy's lawyer advises his client to remain quiet. I tell Charlie to go take a break before he runs up his blood pressure and he goes into the hall.

"I know you didn't kill Genevieve." I whisper to the Cajun.

His eyes look at me questioningly to me as if this is some form of police trickery.

"I know who pulled that trigger and I need your help to put her away." I continue in that quiet voice. "Her fingerprints are on that gun, aren't they Remy?"

The lawyer hisses for Remy to remain silent, but the flood gates open.

With tears streaming down his face, Remy tells his sordid tale of seduction and collusion. Bianca was insanely jealous of Genevieve, ever since their girlhood. To her Genevieve was always more popular, prettier, and richer than she could ever be. Wanting to get recompense for her imagined slights, Bianca hooked up with Remy, a two time loser with a rap sheet for small time burglary. The plan was for her to leave Genevieve's window open so Remy could come in and pilfer her collection of diamond jewelry. No one was to be harmed during the burglary.

In the midst of the theft, Remy was shocked by Genevieve's arrival, since Bianca was supposed to keep her busy. They tussled, with Remy trying to keep Genevieve quiet so he could make his escape, but the woman was frightened to death. Bianca arrived and using the gun Remy kept as a bargaining tool in case he was discovered, killed her so-called best friend.

I have him write out his story and get the prosecutor involved for negotiations. Remy's testimony in exchange for a lighter sentence and the murder weapon. In his case, it's the most he can hope for.

The crime lab goes over the gun and luckily we have Bianca's fingerprints on file from a previous drunk driving arrest. Just as my vision and Remy's confession indicated, Bianca handled the gun that killed her friend.

The look on Bianca's face is priceless, as she's leaving the country club and heading to her Porsche when the cops swoop in on her. I personally slap the cuffs on this treacherous society princess. It seems that Bianca just got the popularity she so desperately wanted.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Trials and Tribulations of Publishing

This was a very eventful week, the release of the second novel, The Body Hunters: Paradise Denied in our series. It's been an exciting week and I feel like a little kid who got what the wanted for Christmas. One of our Superfans is nearly done with the novel and she is loving every bit of it. She's started a chain reaction with our other fans who are just as excited to get their hands on the book and I can't wait for their reactions as well. There is nothing better as an author when someone loves your work and is as enthusiastic about the characters as you are.

 Though we anticipated a release of maybe January or February 2013 initially, due to a few challenges, it was released a bit later then expected.

After our editor sent us her final changes, my co-author, Von did her final read through before sending it on to me last Thursday. I started on Thursday after work, with my personal deadline of Monday at the latest. I had a pretty normal weekend, all the while going on with my final edit. I was two-thirds of the way through in the wee hours of Monday morning, when I had the brilliant idea to close my laptop and move to another room.  Big mistake.

When I got to the other room and started my laptop again, the screen was completely black. No problem, I told myself, I had this little issue before. Like I learned when I had this issue over a year ago, you just hold down the power button, pop out the battery, pop it back in, turn on your computer again and voila! Wait a minute. Let me try it again. Hold the button down, take out battery, put it back in, hit the button, and....
Okay, what the heck is going on here?

Needless to say, my laptop monitor was completely dead to the world. Nearing panic mode, I decided to put my computer repair class knowledge to the test. I open up the thing, take a look around, and still can't get the monitor to work. Ready to throw the dang thing out the window, I put all 1,099 screws back where they belong and decided to just hook the computer up to my tv and use that as my monitor. But I must have rearranged something when I put it back together because now the power button isn't even working.

I'm tempted to text Von and rant to her, but I remember that it's not even 8 o'clock and she has to work today. Borrowing my mother's laptop which has none of my work stored on it, I start looking for computer repair places in my neighborhood. I can't do anything until the computer place opens so I decide to take a nap.

My rest is kind of broken because the computer is on my mind and that's what's plaguing my dreams. How am I gonna get the book out without my computer?

I wake up a few hours later and text Von since it's now a decent hour. I tell her the devil is messing with us, since when you're close to your breakthrough, he has a tendency to throw a few road blocks and spike strips in your path. For some reason, someone was conspiring against us getting this book published. I call my mother and tell her the same thing, she tells me not to give the devil any power and put him under my feet.

I get to the computer store and whine about the issue I'm having and what I'm trying to do today. The clerk sells me a little box that holds my laptop's hard drive and allows me to continue my work while my computer is in the shop. Ecstatic, I spend the rest of the day finishing my edit.

I did have some other internet issues, but late that evening or early the next morning, whichever you prefer, I was able to finally submit our book to Amazon. Exhausted and giddy at the same time, I finally crawl into bed while the digital book and paperback novel are being published by Amazon.

Whenever I decided to get out of bed the next day, the first thing I do is check on our books progress as far as Amazon. The first thing I notice is the size of the file. Take a wild guess as to how many KB made up our file. Go ahead, take a guess. No, go on and guess. Nope, you got it wrong.

Our book was exactly 666 KB. No, I'm not lying. A story this crazy you cannot make up. I told Von and she had the same reaction I did. Somehow weirdness has a way of following us. Knowing there was no way in the world I was going to live with that number, I republished the novel, throwing in a few of our blog short stories for good measure. Now our story is at a robust and healthy 706 KB.

When somebody throws road blocks and road hazards in front of you, just push on through. You never know what's on the other side.