Excerpt From “Love and Not Destroy” by Sandra Carey Cody

A baby is found in a basket on the grounds of a small-town museum during their annual Folk Festival. Twenty-two years later, a homeless man is murdered in exactly the same spot. Connection? Or coincidence? Peace Morrow, the foundling, now an adult working at the museum, is haunted by this question and thus begins a quest that explores the nature of family, of loyalty and responsibility. As she tries to reconstruct the victim’s history, his story becomes entangled with her own search for family roots, a journey that leads her through the dusty boxes in the museum’s basement, to the antique markets in the northern part of the state and, ultimately, to the innermost reaches of her own heart.

EXCERPT:

Peace Morrow surveyed the crowd from the hill’s summit, reflecting on her first experience of the Folk Fest, an event she knew only through the telling of it and by the yellowed clipping her mother had saved for her. How odd to have so little knowledge of the happening that had determined the course of her life. It was a life blessed in many ways. She knew this and was grateful, but still felt incomplete, as though there were fissures in her being, waiting for the missing pieces to drop in. The conviction that she’d located the first and perhaps most important piece sent a shiver, half hope, half dread, down her spine. Tomorrow. She vowed to ask him tomorrow. Today–

Eddie, one of the cops on hand for crowd control, interrupted her reverie. “Looks like your festival’s a success.”

The words “your festival” prompted another shiver, this one of pure delight. The Folk Fest had been a part of every spring of her twenty-two years, but this was the first time she’d had a share in making it happen. She hugged herself, spun in a giddy half circle that sent the long, homespun skirt swirling around her ankles and almost collided with the stilt-walker. “Omigosh! You okay?”

“Steady as a stone. Takes more than a slip of a girl to topple me.”

She laughed and blew him a kiss, then watched, holding her breath, as he teetered off toward the funnel cakes.

A team of majestic Clydesdales pulling a wagon filled with wide-eyed children clopped by. A little girl waved from the back of the wagon. Peace waved back and curtsied to her, then headed toward the sheep shearing, always a hit with the family crowd.

She joined the circle of onlookers, more interested in the families than the shearing, captivated by the interaction between parent and child, especially father and daughter. A chubby toddler with a fluff of flyaway hair bounced with excitement, restrained from rushing to the animal only by her father’s firm grip. Older children watched too, awe-struck by the strangeness of the process, the fleece unreeling in a continuous blanket. A middle-aged man on her left kept up a running commentary, apparently intended for the lanky teenager beside him, but audible to everyone in the circle of onlookers. “This guy’s good,” he said. “Look at the sheep. I don’t think he even feels the shears.”

No sooner were the words out than the ram let out a piteous bleat and a thin red trickle appeared on a naked flank. The crowd let out a collective gasp. The teenager shot an oh-yeah grin; the man grinned back and shrugged. The shearer went on with his work, ignoring both the animal’s distress and his audience’s reaction.

Peace turned away, unwilling to let anything mar this perfect day. Where next for her? There were plenty of choices, all of them tempting. Pseudo soldiers, outfitted in ragtag Colonial gear, paraded by. Nearby, a juggler seemed to defy gravity, his air of nonchalant elan as much a part of the attraction as his dexterity. Strolling musicians winked and flirted with the crowd, making up in personality what they lacked in genius. A jaunty banjo tune called from the north lawn. Giggles from the puppet theater pulled her in that direction.

And then – a different sound – one that changed everything: a scream split the air and hung, an almost tangible presence, obliterating both music and laughter, stilling movement, transforming the tableau into a bizarre still life. Finally, the hysteria lessened and Peace was able to make out words: “Blood! All over him.”

She turned back toward the shearing area. The sheep looked fine. The shearer stood as though frozen, his clippers held aloft. The crowd shifted, exchanged nervous glances and, when the scream faded, surged toward its source: the carriage shed behind the museum. Peace half-covered her face with her hands and watched individuals merge into a tight clot at the north end of the shed.

The cop, Eddie, dashed past, yelling into his phone.

An emergency vehicle parked on the grounds roared into life.

Eddie held the phone in one hand and signaled gawkers to make way with the other. The ambulance inched through. The crowd closed in behind. Someone stepped on Peace’s skirt, jerking her sideways. She grabbed the edge of a table, righted herself and joined the throng rushing toward the shed.

“Yo!” A bruiser of a guy in a Phillies T-shirt yelled at her.

She realized she’d elbowed the man, called, “Sorry,” over her shoulder, but did not slow down.
Another policeman joined Eddie. Together, they waved the crowd back. Two jumpsuited figures emerged from the shed, half-carrying, half-pushing a wheeled gurney. Over shoulders and between heads, Peace saw a scuffed sneaker, its frayed laces held together by a series of knots. The emergency workers shoved the gurney into the ambulance and banged the doors shut. The bulky vehicle jockeyed an awkward turnaround, then eased between trees and over the rolling terrain on its way to the street.
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. It doesn’t have to be him. But deep within, in the place she thought of as her soul, she knew it was. She turned and raced toward the opening in the temporary fence that enclosed the grounds on Festival weekend. Halfway there, she collided with her boss, Fran Walters, the museum’s site director, who grabbed her arm and shouted in her ear, “What happened?”

Peace twisted away, her fear intensified by this departure from the older woman’s usual cool demeanor. “I’m going to the hospital to find out.”

“Call me when you know something.”

“Sure.” She answered on the fly, already jogging up the hill. She tripped and cursed the cumbersome attire which only minutes ago had given her such pleasure. The ambulance passed, siren wailing. She lifted the skirt above her knees and raced toward her car, parked at the curb in front of her apartment, just two short blocks from the museum, a distance that at the moment yawned as wide as the Sahara..

* * * * *
At the hospital, she went directly to the emergency room and asked the woman behind the desk, “Where’s the man they brought in from the Folk Fest?”
The woman was calm and infuriatingly slow to respond. “Are you a family member?”

“I work at the museum.”

The woman looked her up and down, taking in the homespun dress, the apron, the cap. “Through those doors. Ask someone back there.”

“Thanks,” Peace glanced at the plastic tag above the woman’s pocket and added, “Bonnie.”

The use of her name drew a smile for the first time. “I hope he’s okay.”

Peace didn’t take time to voice her own fervent hope, but dashed off in the direction indicated.

A sharp antiseptic smell caused her nostrils to pinch when she passed through the double doors. Most of the cubicles were vacant, with open curtains exposing empty beds. She headed for the one with the curtain partially drawn. Three white-jacketed figures stood between her and the bed. They leaned forward and spoke in monotones. Desperate to see, Peace crowded in behind. One of them darted a scathing look over his shoulder.

She backed up, found a chair shoved against the wall close by and perched on its edge, all without taking her eyes off the activity around the bed.

One man, older than the others, seemed to be in charge. He looked at them and shook his head.

Peace placed her hands between her knees to steady them.

A woman stepped out.

Peace stood and nodded toward the cubicle. “Is that the man they brought in from the Folk Fest?”

The woman nodded back, but didn’t speak.

“How is he?”

“Dr. Michaels will see you in a minute.” She spoke briskly, avoiding eye contact, then scurried down the hall.

The older man walked away from the bed, toward Peace. The other stayed behind and pulled the curtain closed.

“Dr. Michaels?” She heard the tremor in her voice and took a deep breath before she went on, “I’m Peace Morrow. I work at the museum.” She looked toward the seam in the closed curtain. “Is that . . .”

“Yes, I’m Dr. Michaels.” His voice was gentle, his eyes even more so. Thick, silver hair fell in a slant across his forehead. He pushed it back, then placed his hand on Peace’s elbow and steered her toward the end of the corridor. They entered a small, windowless room. Dr. Michaels pulled out a chair for her and, after she was seated, he sat on a corner of the desk. “Peace Morrow, right?”

“Yes.” She wished he’d skip the niceties and get on with it. “How is he?”

Instead of answering, he asked, “Your relationship to the patient?”

“Uh . . . none.” Instantly, she saw that answer would get her nowhere. “He doesn’t have any relatives. He’s homeless.” She realized she didn’t really know if it was him. “At least I think that’s who it is. I just saw his shoe before the ambulance doors closed. It looked like Jack’s shoe.”

“Jack?” Dr. Michael’s brow furrowed. “So you know him?”

“We talked. Almost every day.” She could stand it no longer. “Please, can I see him? I need to know if it’s my . . . my friend.”

He gave her a long look, then rose without speaking and headed toward the closed curtain.

Peace followed, stopped for a moment when the doctor pulled the drapery aside.

A white cloth covered the narrow form on the bed, concealing even the face.

Nausea threatened, but she managed to get out the words: “He’s dead then?”

“Yes.”

She looked away, but still saw it all too clearly, registering details that had escaped her at first. The sheet tented upward in the area where the chest would be. A red stain made an irregular circle like a badly-drawn target where the cloth touched down.

She swayed and gripped the gurney’s edge.

Michaels put a hand on her shoulder. “Are you all right?”

No! She turned and focused on the doctor’s eyes. They were gray, fringed with short, dark lashes and held such sadness it would be easy to think he’d never had to do this before. Aloud, she said, “Yes,” then, “Is it okay if I look? I mean, so I know for sure?”

He hesitated, studying her. “We do need someone to identify him.” He grasped the edge of the sheet and looked at her, asking with a lifted brow if she was ready.

She nodded. Her mouth refused to form words.

He pulled the sheet down, exposing the face slowly, respectfully.

At first, she thought it wasn’t him. Jack’s face was animated, a canvas filled with a constantly-changing series of expressions. This face was . . . Death. This is how it looks.

***

Sandra Carey Cody grew up in Missouri, surrounded by a family who loved stories, whether from a book or told on the back porch. She’s lived in various cities in different parts of the country, but wherever she’s gone, book have been the bridge to new her new community and new friends. She now lives in Bucks County, PA http://www.sandracareycody.com

Love and Not Destroy is an ebook available at: http://amzn.to/wxIV81

Advertisements

Excerpt From “A Dead Red Oleander” by R.P Dahlke

When a late in the season emergency forces Lalla Bains to accept a greenhorn ag pilot for her dad’s cropdusting business, she sighs in relief . After all, he comes highly recommended, his physical is spotless, and with a name by Dewey Treat, what could possibly go wrong?

Then her quirky relatives arrive from Texas and things go south in a hurry: Dewey Treat drops dead, his tearful widow claims he was murdered, clobbers Sherriff Caleb Stone with his own gun, and makes a run for it. Lalla, convinced the widow is innocent, sets out to prove it—against the express wishes of fiancé Caleb Stone.

Feds, local law, suspicious ag-pilots, nutso relatives, and her daddy’s new sidekick, Bruce the goat, make life a living hell for Lalla. Will her nosey nature solve the crime and save the day? Or put them all in mortal danger?

EXCERPT:

The world is flat. I know it is, because for the last five hours the view has been exactly the same. Only the sun has done any traveling, working its long shadows through straight lines of harvested cotton. A few crows shop the furrowed rows for worms, weevils and grasshoppers. One hops over to inspect the truck I’m lying under, cocks a beady black eye, probably attracted to the shiny metal police-issued handcuffs, my hand in one of the cuffs, dangling from wrist to arm, and finally down to me, Lalla Bains, aero-ag pilot, sometime busybody, meddling where I shouldn’t—again. I’m dirt smeared and sweaty, thinking if I get out of this alive, if the killer doesn’t return to finish me off, I’ll foreswear all future sleuthing. My dad, Caleb my fiancé, my best friend Roxanne, and half of Stanislaus County will be pleased to bear witness to that promise.

I will, this time. Really, I will.

I waggle my grubby, unpainted and unadorned fingers at the crow. Too bad I didn’t have on my engagement ring, maybe I could get him to peck at the lock mechanism and open it. Yeah, right, and while I’m hallucinating, maybe get him to bring me a nice cold Pepsi.

I never wear the ring when I’m working, and I’d worked today, starting at three a.m. as I usually do during the long hot season of flying cropdusters. I spread chemicals over cotton fields like this one to keep the aforementioned weevils from devouring the plants. Today was my last flight, and probably my last job as an aero-ag pilot, since my dad’s business will soon be absorbed by another, larger outfit in Merced.

The crow is unimpressed with my status—after all I’m the one recumbent under a truck, unable to move. His sharp black eyes take in the cuff and then my hopeful face. Any interest he may have had at my predicament is answered with a fluff of wings, and I swear—a wink. Then he flaps up on to the hood, and his sharp claws rat-tat-tat across the top of the cab. He lands in the empty bed of the truck and a quick, sharp, whistle says he’s found that wadded up McDonald’s bag from yesterday. Yesterday, when I still had a life that didn’t include murderous suspects. He fusses at the paper bag for a few more minutes until it’s agreed there’s nothing left but a greasy wrapper. I hear his wings flap again, and wheels up he flies off to the freedom I can only dream about.

I roll onto a shoulder so I can look out from under the truck. North. The truck is facing North where I’ve been hooked up and alone for most of the day, without water, a cell, or hope.

I follow the tracks as they rolled over the berm, cutting twin ruts in the banked up earth, the crazy, jigsaw pattern of my reckless descent. Tops of trucks whiz past. Trucks and cars with drivers intent on dinner, home, family—me too.

Someone could notice. I think. There are those lines leading down through the harvested cotton and finally to me under the truck. That is, if the driver in one of those big semis took his eyes off the road, and turned his head for a quick glance at the flattened, dry and totally unappealing two-hundred acres. I’m sure he would see the truck down here where it wasn’t supposed to be. I sure wouldn’t give it a second glance.

A car slows and rolls to a stop. A door slams. My heart quickens and in the heat of late summer a feathery light shiver of fear runs across my skin. I lie waiting. I hear dirt clods tumble as footsteps make their way through the ruined plants, a curse as one sticks to his pant leg. A pair of brogues—black, with enough shine on them to reflect part of a tan pant leg with a navy blue stripe. His knees pop as he squats down to follow the cuffed wrist to the bumper, and finally down to me, snuggled in between the row of cotton under my dad’s old farm truck. He removes the California Highway Patrol cap, and I notice stripes on his sleeve—a sergeant, maybe someone bright enough to figure out I’m not a criminal.

My blonde hair, which usually counts for a few points with most men, is presently adorned with cotton stems and fluffy balls. The rest of me, is streaked with dirt. Not my best look.

We stare at each other for a minute. I’m parched. My lips are cracked, my tongue is dry, and it sticks to the roof of my mouth. I need that Pepsi, maybe a rum and Coke, before I can possibly say a word. I swallow, thinking nothing will come out.

But then he does the one thing guaranteed to fix my pipes.

“So,” he drawls, “What’s your story, little lady?”

***

R.P Dahlke fell into the job of running a crop-dusting business when her dad decided he’d rather go on a cruise than take another season of lazy pilots, missing flaggers, testy farmers and horrific hours. After two years at the helm, she handed him back the keys and fled to a city without any of the above. And no, she was never a crop-duster.

Link to book on Amazon/Kindle: $2.99 Amazon link: http://amzn.to/LigY4E

Link to my amazon page w/digital images and bio: http://tinyurl.com/6hdg3bf

Print will come out later this year

Excerpt From “InSight” by Polly Iyer

Psychologist Abigael Gallant fought her way back from her ex-husband’s brutal attack that killed their daughter and left her blind. Now she “reads” audio books, runs with a guide at a local track, and has a thriving practice that specializes in treating the newly disabled. The last thing she needs is another man in her life.

Enter Detective Luke McCallister, a cop forced into counseling a year after a gun blast during a meth lab takedown robbed him of his hearing. Luke is fighting hard to stay on the force, but computer work and fingerprint analysis are not what he has in mind. Initially reluctant to Abby’s therapy, Luke’s barriers tumble because Abby sees deeper into him than anyone ever cared to.

Though Luke’s lip reading is excellent, he refuses to “listen” to Abby’s warning that his romantic overture jeopardizes her professional ethics. But when break-ins and threatening computer messages escalate into a physical attack on Abby and her guide dog, Luke walks a fine line between cop, protector, and lover. Unable to deny their physical attraction, Abby and Luke tiptoe around their personal baggage and enter into a delicate relationship.

Then Abby is kidnapped. While Luke puts his life at risk to find her, Abby discovers the ghosts of her past are back to haunt her, and the man she once loved was as much of a victim as she.

Excerpt:

The complaint still weighed on her mind, and she worked late into the evening, burying herself in current files to free her mind. Stressed and tired, she almost fell asleep at her desk. Time to call it a night.

She called for Daisy, who’d been in the back yard for the last hour. “Come on, girl.” She waited, leaning against the doorjamb. “Come, Daisy.” Abby was dead on her feet and wanted to go to bed. She whistled and cajoled, but still no Daisy.

A noise in the far corner of the yard drew her attention. She never ventured past the chairs on the patio but knew the grassed area stretched almost thirty feet deep, enclosed on three sides by a high wooden fence attached to both ends of the house. A locked gate on the right side let the yardman enter with his key. The sound persisted, now identifiable as Daisy’s whimpering. What happened? Abby felt her way along the boxwood hedges bordering the house until she came to the fence.

One foot in front of the other. Working her way around, she followed Daisy’s mewls as they grew louder.

Thirty feet to the left corner. A splinter from the fence slivered into her finger. She barely felt it as she continued along, hugging the slatted enclosure. Daisy rustled in the grass, her whines more pronounced.

Movement on the other side of the yard. Daisy expelled a warning growl and shifted in what sounded like an attempt to rise, followed by a grunt and a thud as she dropped to the ground.

“I’m coming, Daisy. I’m almost there.” Then, another sound from farther back.

“Who’s there?” Abby cocked her head to listen, but all she heard was her own heartbeat thundering in her ears. The fine hairs on Abby’s arms stood erect like sentries warning of impending danger, exactly like the day in her office building.

Footsteps in the grass advanced toward her.

Slowly.

Deliberately.

She stood pinned against the fence, ears pricked to the sounds.

“Please answer me,” she said, her words no more than a whisper. “Why are you doing this? Tell me. Maybe we can solve the problem. If it’s something I’ve done…”

But what? What can I do to make it right? Is that what I should say?

Nothing she’d ever done merited this intrusion on her life. She wouldn’t beg, and she’d be damned before playing the role of victim again. She wanted to scream. But as she stood frozen, a Pompeii victim in her own yard, her vocal chords were as paralyzed as her body.

The steps in the grass came closer.

A shift in the airwaves. That indiscernible feeling someone sighted doesn’t notice but a blind person is conditioned to sense. To hear. The difference between a closed room and wide-open spaces. Whoever invaded her home came with a purpose, and he stood right in front of her. She felt his heat.

And she smelled cloves.

She wanted to push him aside and run, but who was she kidding? One thing running on a track with a guide, another on unfamiliar, uneven ground. Before she could say anything, a gloved hand reached around her throat and squeezed, trapping her words inside her. She pushed his hand away and started to scream, but he grabbed hold again, snickering under his breath. His other hand pressed hard against her mouth.

“Shhh,” her tormenter whispered. “Shhh.” The force of his body crushed her to the fence. Evil radiated from him, surrounding her like the devil’s fire. She looked straight at him, conjuring up an image of his height and the mass of his body, but not his face. Never his face. How safe he must feel knowing she saw nothing more than the blackness of night.
She tried to wriggle away, to raise her knee into his groin, but she couldn’t move, her strength no match to his. His hand tightened around her neck, cutting off her air supply. She drew a ragged breath into her lungs. Not enough to scream.
His breathing rose and fell like someone in a deep sleep whose heart beat half the rate of hers. The pungent smell of cloves made her want to gag.

She lunged at him, pushing her body off the fence with as much force as she could muster, but lack of oxygen rendered her light-headed, and her body went limp. Breathe. She was slipping away. It can’t end like this. Not like this. Breathe, Abby, breathe.

He released the pressure on her neck enough for her to suck in a breath of air.

Whispering, he said, “Shhh, or your dog is dead. Understand?”

She nodded, and he slid his hand from her mouth. She gasped another pocket of air. Then another. He stroked his fingers over the contour of her chin and neck, over her breasts, and down the front of her body. She shoved him away, shivering. He snorted.

Neither moved until he backed away, one step at a time. The fading sound of his footsteps retreating into the house.
Then nothing. She tried to cry out, but her voice came out in a raspy sob. She didn’t doubt for a second that if she screamed, Cloveman would return and kill Daisy with pleasure while she listened helplessly.

The front door opened, then slammed shut, and the night’s silence roared once more. She took a step but lost sense of her surroundings, as if she were levitating in space, her internal compass devoid its magnetic field. That hadn’t happened since the beginning, when space was a black hole, swallowing her into its emptiness. She reeled from the alien effect but regained her balance when she heard Daisy’s pitiful whine.

“Daisy, talk to me, baby. I’m here, talk to me. Tell me where you are.” Still lightheaded, she took tiny, careful steps toward her dog’s whimper, wishing she had her cane. About five feet inside the backstretch of fence, her foot touched Daisy’s body and she fell down beside her.

The hair on her dog’s neck felt warm and sticky. “Oh, my God, Daisy.” Abby patted her way to what felt like a gash on the side of Daisy’s head. “It’s all right, girl, it’s all right. I’m going inside to call the police. I’ll be right back.” She rubbed her friend’s neck, backing off, afraid of aggravating a wound she couldn’t see.

Retracing her steps along the fence, adrenaline pumping, she reached the sliding glass door. What if the door slamming was a ploy and he waited inside? But why? He could have killed her outside if he wanted to. Why didn’t he go out the way he came, through the garden gate? She couldn’t think about that now. She didn’t care. She rushed through the patio door to the phone and punched 911, explaining the situation and begging them to send someone immediately.

***

Polly Iyer was born on the coast of Massachusetts. After studying at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston, she traveled to Italy, lived in Atlanta, and now resides in the beautiful Piedmont region of South Carolina in an empty nest house with her husband and a drooling mutt named Max. Writing novels turned into her passion after careers in fashion, art, and business. Now she spends her time being quite the hermit in comfortable clothes she wouldn’t be caught dead wearing on the outside, while she devises ways for life to be complicated for her characters.

You can find Polly’s books at:  Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/7secr4s and Barnes&Noble http://tinyurl.com/6qa3jg8

Click here for an interview with: Polly Iyer, Author of  “InSight” and “Hooked”

Excerpt From “Hooked” by Polly Iyer

Tawny Dell, a high-priced call girl with a PhD in art history who decides to give up the life. Unfortunately, while the FBI was looking into overseas accounts of a mob boss, one of Tawny’s ex-clients, her hidden account came up. Enter the NYPD sex crimes investigator, Lincoln Walsh, who received a call from a now-dead prostitute who mentioned Benny Cooper. Benny is an ex-Wall Street tycoon who runs a high-class bordello. Linc offers Tawny a deal: Go undercover at Benny’s brothel to find out if he’s the murderer and Tawny will avoid going to jail for cheating Uncle Sam. But the best laid plans don’t always work out.

Excerpt

The hotel was booked solid due to a writers’ convention, so that left Linc without a room. He needed to get his overnight bag from his car so he could shower and change. He trusted Tawny not to run a disappearing act on him. She said she wouldn’t, and she hadn’t lied so far. Maybe he was being conned, but he gave her the benefit of the doubt. She wouldn’t be hard to find if she skipped.

“I’ll be here,” she said. “There’s no warrant for my arrest, is there?”

“No. We thought we’d try the quid pro quo approach first.”

“You mean I screw over Benny Cooper so the IRS doesn’t screw me over, is that it?”

She sure had a way of nailing it. “Something like that.”

“Then if Cooper gets off, he gets his shot at me.”

“That won’t happen.”

She scoffed and pulled a bra and panties from the dresser drawer. “I know how these things work, Detective Walsh. I’m the pro in quid pro quo, remember?”

“Take your shower. If you don’t mind, I’ll take one after.”

She blinked in surprise. “Are you moving in with me?”

The thought stabbed Linc in the gut. “Just for tonight. No rooms in the inn. I checked. I could pull the cop thing, but I’d rather keep a low profile.” He pointed to the other room. “Sofa bed. I’ll even take you out to dinner to explain what we want you to do.”

“Then your office can pay for the night’s hotel charge. I don’t do anything for free. Remember that too.”

“You drive a hard bargain.”

She pulled her wet dress over her head and stood naked in front of him. It was the second time she’d done that, and each time the sight of her magnificent body had the same effect. He watched her gaze lower to the swelling inside his wet pants.

“Seems like you’re the one with the hard bargain, Walsh.” Then she turned and strolled into the bathroom, leaving the door wide open. “Key card’s on the dresser.”

Fuck! Fuck! He left the room and hustled down the long corridor to the elevators. His rain-soaked pants clung to his legs like packing tape. Goddamn uncomfortable. What was wrong with him? The woman was a hooker, and he was a sex crime investigator. That’s supposed to be like oil and water, but it felt more like accelerant and match. Get hold of yourself. Take a Valium or whatever you can find that makes stubborn dicks behave.

Ignoring the stares, he stopped in the bar and ordered a double vodka. He’d anesthetize himself. That would keep everything in place. He always called the shots when it came to women. This one had him tied in knots. All he could think of was getting her in bed. Maybe he should call the captain. No, he couldn’t do that. Wouldn’t.

The drink relaxed him and the walk to the car helped. Exercise. That’s what he needed. And a cold shower and another drink. And a five-fucking-mile run.

***

Polly Iyer was born on the coast of Massachusetts. After studying at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston, she traveled to Italy, lived in Atlanta, and now resides in the beautiful Piedmont region of South Carolina in an empty nest house with her husband and a drooling mutt named Max. Writing novels turned into her passion after careers in fashion, art, and business. Now she spends her time being quite the hermit in comfortable clothes she wouldn’t be caught dead wearing on the outside, while she devises ways for life to be complicated for her characters.

You can find Polly’s books at:  Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/7secr4s and Barnes&Noble http://tinyurl.com/6qa3jg8

Click here for an interview with: Polly Iyer, Author of “Hooked”

Excerpt From “Over Her Dead Body” by Karen Vaughan

 

Take one beautiful vindictive woman….she’s 1 part bimbo and 2 parts lethal gangsta- gun moll.

Watch her try and hold onto her 84-year-old husband by having his octogenarian paramour knocked off. Sometimes greed and jealousy lead to the last resort . . . MURDER!

Laura, Gerry and Gibbons try to stop her from also killing her husband, without getting them selves knocked off in the process!

CHAPTER ONE

I lay in bed, hopelessly trying to peel my eyelids from my eyeballs. I gazed at the clock, barely seven. Rolling to my back, I nearly choked on my own spit as a blood curdling shriek split the morning air, forcing me bolt upright in the bed. I nudged my fiancé Gerry, who hogged the blankets next to me.

The shriek sounded from the apartment directly above in Ethel Peterson’s place. Poor old soul probably found a mouse and got scared to death.

I turned to my significant other. “Can you go up stairs and see if you can grab the poor rodent before Mrs. Peterson slaughters it, or hurts herself trying?”

We had just celebrated Thanksgiving dinner with my family the night before and once again; it was Monday morning; Thanksgiving Day to be exact. The October air was crisp and the trees were changing. However before the day was through there would be very little to be thankful for.

Gerry grumbled and got out of bed, swearing under his breath that I owed him huge sexual favors later on and a cup of coffee. He was thankfully clothed so no one would be offended. My part in coming to Mrs. Peterson’s aid over with, I lay back down and tried to get some sleep.

However, it wasn’t long before I heard Gerry’s exclamation of holy shit through the floor.

Beside the bed, the phone rang.

I answered it.

“ Call the meat wagon!, This was Gerry speak for “something is dead.”

“What?” I said, still sleepy, “that must have been some mouse.”

“Laura, sweetie you’re a bit dim in the morning, it was more than a mouse. Just 9-1-1 and come up here”. He clicked off.

I did as he instructed, summoning help, and got my cute little ass dressed and up the stairs A-SAP. What could have happened now? I wondered. I decided I really didn’t want to know as I took the stairs. Like it or not there I was, rushing into another emergency.

The source of the entire frazzle was in Mrs. Peterson’s apartment directly above us. It seems Mrs. Flannery, one of Ethel’s neighbors, had wandered past her unit on the way back from taking the garbage to the Shute down the hall. Mrs. Peterson’s door was open a crack and when Mrs. Flannery peeped through the door to check on her neighbor she found Mrs. Peterson was facedown in her Shreddies. I could see by the looks of things that no rodents had been involved.

“Holy sheep shit, what the hell happened?” I was standing beside Mrs. Flannery, who was trembling in her slippers. “Is- she dead dear?” Mrs. Flannery inquired of Gerry.

Gerry had felt for a pulse. Finding none, he nodded. “Oh I would have to say she is truly beyond this realm Mrs. F.,” he told her.

With that, Mrs. Flannery fainted.

I managed to catch her, before she hit the hardwood. At the same time, I was trying to compose myself and keep calm. That is, I squelched the urge to hurl before I took care of the woman in question. It was the second time in six months that I’d seen a dead body in the building. There was a lot more blood at this scene though. Last May somebody had been kind enough to deliver the remains of a former co-worker to my apartment. What I saw now was different though, and somewhat more heinous. Someone had taken violent liberties and left an innocent octogenarian with the back of her head bashed in and swimming in cereal. I was becoming a seasoned witness to death whether I liked it or not.

I stayed with Mrs. Flannery, who was coming around. Once she was capable, I escorted her from Mrs. Peterson’s unit; Mrs. Peterson was still soaking in her milk. I would have done something to remedy that but I knew from watching the multitude of police shows I enjoyed, disturbing the scene was a major no-no. Let the Crime scene unit handle it. I had to get the older woman away from the scene.

Flora Flannery lived two doors down and across the hall from Ethel Peterson. She was a creature of habit who took out the trash everyday at the same time. After the brief walk down the hall, she usually knocked on Ethel’s door for a tea and a good ole fashioned chinwag. More like a hen cluck party as Mr. Scanlon would say. Mr. Scanlon had come out of his unit to see what the excitement was about. There was not much in that gone on in the building that Harry Scanlon didn’t know. “Go back to your apartment Harry.” I said with my arm around Flora’s shoulder.

We got into her apartment and I escorted her to the sofa. Flora sat down; I got her some juice, and sat beside her. I asked her what she had seen. Was there anything strange about Mrs. Peterson’s door being open at that time? – I knew the police would ask her the same questions because I had been through a similar situation last May.

I heard the sirens and soon, bedlam was in full swing with firefighters, EMTs and the police all over the building noting that there was no fire, the engines left first followed by the EMTs. The Coroner’s wagon was called in to collect Mrs. Peterson.

Gerry peeked inside Flora’s apartment, and motioned me out in the hall. I followed.

“What’s going on?” I asked him.

“Well,” said Gerry, “from what I heard in the room, Mrs. Peterson had a little help checking out.”

“Murdered?”

“Apparently so, seems someone took liberties with a bat. The weapon of choice is missing but the crime scene crew did find a sliver in her hair. They are assuming it’s a bat but it could be a two by four.”

“It’s amazing what I can hear from the hall while doing traffic control in the hallway”, he said, “I was trying to hold back the rubberneckers. Gibbons has been called”

Inspector Gibbons had been the Chief Homicide officer on the Hodges case and we had become friends; chiefly because he brought Timmy’s and we had built up a good rapport over many a takeout coffee. Seriously, Gibbons was a good person. He treated people fairly and was not common to profile according to certain factors. If there was enough evidence to nail a perp, Gibbons would do the right thing.

With that, Gibbons showed up. He greeted us.

“I should have known it was chaos central, given the address,” he said coolly. Gibbons had developed a black sense of humor when it came to our ‘domicile of death’. Given that, he had spent quite a few hours here investigating Hodge’s death, and fishing our butts out of the fire. The inspector was prepared for anything when visiting.

Gibbons began taking down the particulars about Ethel, next of kin and all that. I asked Flora if Mrs. Peterson had any family. Flora was able to recall a niece from her late sister; Adriana was her name. No children though, Ethel and Howard had never been blessed with kids of their own. Flora also remarked that Howard had been gone for ten years or so. I went in to the office to retrieve Ethel’s rental information to find any telephone numbers for Adriana. There was one, and I gave it to Gibbons. He hated having to contact family about a death, especially where homicide was concerned. I offered to make the call, but Gibbons said under the circumstances, he had to do the deed. Gibbons also needed to ask Flora some questions and wondered if she was up to it.

“I suppose I can” Said Flora, “though I don’t know much accept the fact that I found her with her face in her breakfast. I thought she had just passed out. I had no clue she was a goner ‘til I got close up. When I saw the blood that’s when I screamed. Who would do that? She was so nice; she’d never hurt a flea.

“When you were taking your trash out you didn’t notice anything odd, like a stranger in the hall?” Gibbons was taking notes.

Flora shook her head, and replied that Harry Scanlon was standing in his doorway when she was leaving her apartment. He didn’t say much about seeing anyone weird. Gibbons added this to his notes and said he would ask Harry himself. Gibbons also added that he could supply the services of a grief counselor if people needed closure around Ethel’s passing.

I said I thought folks might appreciate that. Gibbons went back into Ethel’s apartment to talk to the forensic team and his partner Matt Rush. Ethel Peterson was well liked, and would be missed. The coroner had taken her away, and quite a few of the tenants seemed distraught over her sudden and violent demise. One particular resident was ready to have the sorry S.O.B. castrated for killing such a kind soul. Gerry assured him that the Police would seek the appropriate justice. “Police my ass! Look what Laura had to go through last spring when that midget held her and the woman cop hostage… She had to have the little feller hog-tied before the coppers got here. I have no faith in the police.”

“Sam,” I told him, “I took a big risk in doing what I did, and besides Janice was very good in that situation.”

I took the time to go door to door to explain that a grief counselor was at our services to help deal with that morning’s tragedy. After that like, it or not I had to return to my regular duties within the complex. Gerry and I added the cleaning of Mrs. Peterson’s unit to our list, as soon as the police gave permission to proceed. Gibbons had called Adriana regarding her great aunt’s death. He informed her that the crime scene unit was almost done with thapartment and she and her spouse Michael would have to come to see what needed to be moved out.

Adriana and Michael showed up. They quickly perused the contents and matter-of-factly assessed what needed to be dispensed with. She appeared very cold and distant and I found it a bit discomfiting to see a relative be so detached about her aunts’ death and her belongings. Adriana didn’t seem to want anything of Ethel’s and stated that a truck would be by to move the stuff as soon as could be arranged and would call us about the time and day,

As noon approached in what was turning out to be a very long day, Gerry and I were cleaning one of the empty units. I couldn’t concentrate on what I was doing though. On the other hand, I wasn’t sure how to mention what was on my mind. Gerry decided the issue for me.

“Okay Laura, speak up.”

I looked at Gerry. He always seemed to know when something was bothering me. “Okay you got me,” I admitted.

“Ethel’s death bugging you?” he asked me.

“Well duh, yeah,” I said, “it’s bugging me the way it’s bugging everyone. However, it’s more than that. When Adriana was here, she was so cold, not the way a bereaved relative should act. If she was my aunt I would have been a little more sorrowful.”

“So, your point is what?”

I stopped what I was doing and looked over at Gerry. “I got the impression from Adriana’s demeanor that the two weren’t close. I remember her referring to Ethel as the “old lady” and her things as “this junk”.”

“Yeah,” Gerry chewed his lip. “That is cold.”

“What takes the cake is she immediately went routing through Ethel’s stuff looking for a Will, and asked me if I knew who her lawyer was. Then she got on her cell phone to a moving company to get a truck here to get the junk out post-haste.”

The mere thought of a relative going through my things so coldly and dispassionately made me so sad that I started to cry. Finally, the events of the day had gotten to me.

Gerry came over and hugged me. “It’s been a long day Hon,” he said gently brushing my tears, “why don’t you go downstairs and take a break”. I knew I needed to keep busy but Gerry was right, I needed a break.

”I’m going to go to the store and get some groceries,” I decided. “Are you okay?” I asked him. I wanted him to know I hadn’t forgotten I wasn’t the only person having a rough day.

Gerry nodded tiredly. “I will be,”

I kissed him and said I’d be back in awhile.

***

Click here to learn more about Karen Vaughan and her books: http://www.karenvaughanbooks.com