Clemency, A Novel in Progress: Chapter 18

The following novel in progress is based on a real crime, but is largely a work of fiction.  I started this novel in 2008 and stopped after just a few chapters.  I will post those chapters here, and (hopefully) finish the remainder of the novel during NaNoWriMo.

Chapter 17 is here.


Sheriff Cooley sat in the dark trailer, listening to palmetto bugs scurry across the linoleum floor, mosquitoes buzz about his head. His back started to itch and he wondered how many colonies of fleas were living in the smelly sofa he was sitting on. The floorboards creaked and he looked up to see Billy James enter the living room. The young man was zipping up his jeans. Something glistened on Billy’s hands and Cooley assumed it was blood. Although there was no love lost between him and Melody, Cooley hadn’t really enjoyed listening to Billy have his way with her. And it hadn’t sounded like she enjoyed it either.

The trailer was the usual spot where their drug transactions took place. Once Cooley had called to let her know Billy was there, ready to deliver, Melody wasted no time in coming over. Unfortunately she came without any money. She had stumbled over to the trailer long after Sarah and Michael took off. Cooley grinned to himself. Now that was fun, scaring the shit out of those two. Billy had been real disappointed that Michael showed up, ruining the fun he had anticipated having with Sarah. Billy had told Cooley that he wanted to see if her hair was as red at the other end as it was on her head. He thought that was so funny, the fool was still laughing about it when Sarah pulled up. Cooley had had to clamp his hand over Billy’s mouth to keep him from giving them away.

And then there was Michael. And Billy would have killed him if Cooley hadn’t scared them away. He never intended to kill either of them. Just scare them enough to get them out of Oyster Point. He wanted Michael to go back to Iraq and step on an IED. He wouldn’t mind having a little fun with Sarah himself, but he knew it was better for her to go running back to wherever she had come from. He’d heard that Lucas was in bad shape. Without either of them, Misty’s petition would miss the deadline and the little skank would spend the rest of her life in prison.

“You gonna track them down?” Billy stood in front of Cooley, close enough that Cooley could smell sweat and semen. Even Cooley had his limits and he stood up, forcing the young man to quickly step back.

“Hell, no, I ain’t going after them. What kind of stupid fool are you, Billy? Ain’t it enough you sliced up an attorney, for god’s sake. We just need the clock to run out on them. Nobody needs to be cut up or raped or killed. At least, no one whose not asking for it.” He knew Billy could argue that Sarah and Michael were asking for it.  He was getting tired of covering up for Billy. Edna paid him well, but Cooley was starting to feel like there was no sum of money large enough to make him want to keep going on like this. He was getting too old.

Billy tossed back his stringy hair and sauntered into the kitchen. Nothing worked in the trailer, of course. It was just a broken shell, a place to do business. The few trailers that were occupied were way on the other side of the lot, and those people tended to be deaf, blind and dumb when it came to the occasional altercations that occurred at this trailer. Billy bent down and flipped open a cooler of beer.

“Want one?” He held out a bottle of Colt 45 to Cooley, but the fat man shook his head.

“Someone’s got to keep a clear head, Billy. You know, that could be you from time to time. It doesn’t always have to be me.” Cooley jabbed a half-spent cigar in his mouth and walked down the steps of trailer. He heard Billy come up behind him and knew that if he turned around, he’d be eyeball to ball with Billy’s crotch.

Cooley thought he heard a whimper come from deep inside the trailer, but he tried to ignore it.  He wasn’t interested in ramming Melody after Billy had had his way. He didn’t like the smell of another man’s cum on anyone he was fucking. Back in the day, when he used to pay for it, he’d make the women take showers while he watched, making sure they cleaned themselves real good. But that was way back, when he was much younger and preferred to go over the bridge for his pleasure, keep things on the down-low. It was also way back when Jimmy and Billy were little boys and the James’ had just made him Sheriff and life was simple.

He’d had a thing for Edna back then. And she had been pretty damn good-looking with her blond hair long enough to graze her fine ass. She’d had legs that wouldn’t quit and breasts that practically begged to be touched. Cooley rubbed his eyes. Damn, he had been so hot for her he even helped set up her husband’s death. Just another driver falling asleep at the wheel and there he goes off the side of the road, down an embankment and into the river. It was sure convenient being sheriff then.

He thought after that, he and Edna would marry. He had anticipated how lovely it would be to have her to himself every night. The only problem was she hadn’t seen it that way. Once her old man was gone and the insurance money came in, her favors to Cooley became less and less while her demands became more and more.

An empty bottle of malt liquor flew over Cooley’s head and smashed against an old concrete block. The shards of glass glittered and actually looked pretty for a moment. Cooley sighed.

“You sticking around, Sheriff? You want a turn with Melody? She’s awake now.”

Cooley could hear the evil smile in Billy’s voice. For a moment, he regretted calling Melody, letting her know where Billy was. But he knew that Michael had been to her place, and that she had always had a soft spot for him. She needed a reminder to keep her mouth shut, or things could get much, much worse.

“No, I’m going on.” He looked up at the night sky. It was so full of stars, out there in the dark and silent trailer park. As a boy he used to love to study the stars. When he and his father would go camping in the summertime, his dad would always take the time to point out the different stars and planets that danced overhead. Cooley’s favorite was Vega, in the Summer Triangle. He could usually pick that one out right away, and his dad would always give him a pat on his back when he did. It gave him some comfort that even now, decades after his father’s death and the death of his childhood, he could look up and see the Summer Triangle, and in particular Vega. It made all the heat and humidity and bloodsucking bugs worthwhile.

“Whatever you want.” Billy sighed, like he was tired of Cooley just standing there, some old fool, looking up at twinkling lights. What a stupid thing to do, he thought, as he stepped back into the trailer and slammed the door.


A Brief “Happy Dance” Break from the Author of Clemency, A Novel in Progress


Enuf said.  Happy Turkey Day or Tofurkey Day, everyone!

I finished at 50,132 words.  Thanks to everyone who hung in there with me!  And thanks to the team at NaNoWriMo!

And, yeah, I’m getting me one of these:




Clemency, A Novel in Progress: Chapter 17

The following novel in progress is based on a real crime, but is largely a work of fiction.  I started this novel in 2008 and stopped after just a few chapters.  I will post those chapters here, and (hopefully) finish the remainder of the novel during NaNoWriMo.

Chapter 16 is here.


Sarah woke up in a heavy sweat, her heart pounding, adrenaline buzzing through her body. The room was dark and worse, it wasn’t her room. She sat up and froze, afraid to move, to make a sound while she tried to get her wits about her. She blinked several times, trying to adjust to the darkness. She was on a bed or rather a mattress on the floor. Two small windows had dark curtains over them, blocking out what little light there might be. The only light in the room was coming from the digital clock next to the mattress. It was eleven pm.

Sarah started, her body turning toward the sound outside the window above her. It sounded like something was being rustled about, like someone walking through tall grass. She could only see darkness through the door leading out of the room. She took a deep breath. The air was tinged with salt and then she heard another sound. Waves breaking.

She ran her hands through her hair and sighed in relief. She was at Michael’s trailer. Now she remembered. But was it Michael outside? Maybe it was Cooley? Maybe he had tracked them down.

“Michael?” Sarah got on all fours and started to crawl to the doorway. Michael had said he would sleep on the couch. If he was there, then who was outside?

“Michael?” She wanted him to hear her, but she was afraid of raising her voice too much. She made it to the living room. The front door was also wide open. Her eyes had adjusted to the dark and now she could see. Michael was not on the couch.

“Bastard.” She stood up and tiptoed to the front door. If he just walked out on her, left her alone in god-knows-where. She hadn’t paid close attention to where they had gone when they escaped from whoever had been shooting at them.

She peeked her head out the door and there, against the pale beach and swaying beach grass, stood a man gazing up at the sky. Sarah looked up and saw stars. Just stars. But Michael was slowly turning around, his head bent back, as if he was trying to find something. She stepped down onto the cool sand and went to him. She didn’t call out to him. When she was only a couple of feet from him, she stopped and waited. She wanted to ask him how the hell he could just leave her alone in his trailer like that, with the doors wide open for anyone or anything to come in and savagely kill her. But she didn’t. Somehow she thought her question would destroy the ambiance.

Now that she was standing next to him, she could see what must have brought him out. Without the street lamps of the inland cities and towns, the sky was littered with stars. If she stared up for too long, she got dizzy. She wanted to lay down.

“I love the stars.” Michael took Sarah’s elbow and pulled her backwards. There was a blanket on the beach, a large dark rectangle barely big enough for two people to lie side-by-side. Michael dropped to the blanket and cradled his head as he continued to gaze upward. Sarah dropped to her knees.

“When I was in Iraq, the one thing that kept me going was the night sky. Being able to look up and see the stars, know that millions, billions of other people were maybe looking up at the same time and seeing the same thing. That kept me sane, you know? It made me feel like there was, like there is something bigger than us out there. Something constant. Something true.”

Sarah shivered. She didn’t want Michael to start proselytizing to her. She had had enough of that when her parents died in the car accident and she didn’t, enough searching for “Why?”, enough counseling on survivor’s guilt, enough dabbling into metaphysics, the meaning of life, the meaning of death. When she finally moved to Florida and started law school, she had promised herself she wouldn’t put herself through that kind of psychic torture again.

Michael kept talking. Sarah thought back at their conversation in her attic office, when it had been growing dark. It seemed like Michael opened up when darkness fell.

“I don’t know if there’s a god with a capital G. Or if there’s more than one. Or maybe none. The kind of stuff I saw overseas, well, it makes you wonder if any god could exist except that mean, jealous one of the Old Testament or maybe those crazy Greek and Roman gods.” Michael turned over on his side. Even though it was dark, Sarah could tell that he was looking directly at her. “What kind of god would allow people to go that crazy? I saw people do things that even animals wouldn’t do, sometimes just out of plain boredom. We could go days and weeks with nothing happening and my buddies would start getting antsy, start looking for trouble instead of staying out of it. I’m no angel. It was hard for me to resist, but I had to. I wanted to come home with my conscious clear.

“Whenever I thought I was leaning toward the dark side, I would just find a quiet spot and look at the sky. It wasn’t easy. Believe me, there was plenty of peer pressure to do things I hope I never have to hear about again.”

“How did you manage to get discharged, Michael? I’m not saying, you haven’t served enough, but …” Sarah looked away. She’d heard of troops serving upwards of ten tours, barely getting a break in-between. It seemed like as long as you were able-bodied, they kept you in as long as they could. It didn’t matter what condition your head was in, just could you point and shoot, throw a grenade, run for your life.

Michael dropped his hand lightly onto hers. “Let’s just say I know where the bodies are buried. Literally. I’m not proud of myself, Sarah. I should be ratting on some people. But I just wanted out. When I heard about Misty, well, I made a deal. It was arranged for me to leave with an honorable discharge as long as I promised to keep my mouth shut.”

Sarah wanted to pull her hand away. How could he just lie there and admit he knew of atrocities but he’s not going to do anything about it. How could he live with that knowledge?

“I know what you’re thinking. Like I said, I’m not proud of myself. But, you know what? You know the irony of it?” He moved away his hand and cradled his head again. “The officer I made my deal with, the one I should have taken down, as soon as I got stateside, I heard that he killed himself. Of course, that’s not the story the Marines are giving it out. Killed in action, they say. But other people know better. So now I guess I got that on my conscious as well.”

“Oh, Michael.” Sarah stretched out her legs but stayed propped up on her elbows so she could look at Michael instead of the night sky. “Oh, Michael. You can’t fault yourself for wanting to be here, for wanting to help Misty. You can’t fault yourself for the actions another person takes. No one can judge you, Michael.” She felt his arm come up and around her shoulders, and she yielded to the pressure, leaning in close to him and resting her head on his chest.

“Thank you.” She felt him lean forward and kiss the top of her head. He gave her shoulders a slight squeeze and then released her. Sarah moved to lie on her back beside him.

“Up there, see that bright star and the two near it, looks like a triangle?”

Sarah leaned her head closer to Michael, her eyes following up his arm and his pointed finger, straining to see the three stars amongst the many.

“Well, that’s the Summer Triangle. You only see it in summer.”


Michael poked Sarah with his elbow. “Shut up and listen or I’ll evict you from the beach.”  Sarah knew he was just teasing. She leaned in closer.

“The brightest is Vega. The other two are Deneb and Altair. You know, Vega is only 25 light years away from us.”

“As the crow flies?” Sarah giggled as Michael poked her again.

“Aren’t you the comedian tonight?”

“How do you know all this?”

“For a while, my mom was seeing a guy who had these huge binoculars and we would all go out to the beach, to this spot, in fact, and he would talk about the stars and planets. I think he might have been an astronomer. We only saw him during the summer so all we ever learned was about the summer night sky. I had to teach myself the rest.”

“Was he your father?” Sarah felt sleepy and struggled to keep her eyes open.

“I have no idea.” Michael fell silent for awhile. When he started to talk again, Sarah was already drifting far away, riding on the backs of crows to Vega.


Ten Things Not to Do While Staying Overnight with Friends


Plan to stay with friends or family over the holidays? Check out this list of Things Not To Do by John Howell!

Originally posted on Fiction Favorites:

a overnight guest

This list has been inspired by numerous friends staying overnight and sad to say doing one or more of the things on the list. Since this week is Thanksgiving I thought it would be a good idea on posting some tips on behavior in case a visit to friends is in the cards. (Oh, I know you would never do any of these)

Ten Things Not to Do While Staying Overnight with Friends

10 If you are staying overnight with friends, do not ask “what’s for dinner?” if you do, at best you will come off as pretty a demanding guest.  At worst, your host may send you out for fast food. (by yourself)

9 If you are staying overnight with friends, do not get sick in their bed. If you do, at best the stay will be very short. At worst, you may wake up in the backyard with…

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Clemency, A Novel in Progress: Chapter 16

The following novel in progress is based on a real crime, but is largely a work of fiction.  I started this novel in 2008 and stopped after just a few chapters.  I will post those chapters here, and (hopefully) finish the remainder of the novel during NaNoWriMo.

Chapter 15 is here.


Sarah almost dropped her flashlight as a large hand came out of nowhere and clamped over her mouth. Someone’s breath was hot on her neck.  But she recognized  his voice.

“Keep quiet. Cooley’s at the back of the trailer, waiting.” Michael dropped his hand and turned Sarah around to face him. He was a dark gray ghost in the deep evening light, but she could see that he was angry.

“What the hell are you doing out here by yourself?” He kept his voice low, but Sarah was still stunned by his anger. Too stunned to tell him that his grip on her shoulders was starting to hurt.

“Cooley said to meet him here. He said he would turn over Jimmy’s arrest records to me.” Sarah swung her arms up, breaking Michael’s grip on her. Her hair had fallen when he grabbed her, and she wanted to pin it back up. She was determined to not let the sticky summer heat break her will and force her to cut her hair. Her mother had loved Sarah’s thick, long hair, brushing it for her almost every night when she was a little girl. She would never cut her hair. She pulled out the pins, coiled it on top of her head, and secured it before Michael had a chance to snort out a response.

“Woman, didn’t they teach you anything in law school? Like not coming out alone, on a moonless night, to a vacant trailer where you don’t know who or what is hell is waiting for you?”

Sarah gripped the flashlight tighter. This former Marine, this jarhead was getting on her nerves. He may be Misty’s brother, and he may really want to help his little sister, but Sarah was getting tired of how he kept turning up and interfering with her.

“I don’t need you to tell me how to run an investigation. This isn’t Iraq—“ Sarah stopped. The squeak of an aluminum frame door caught her ear, and she realized that Michael and she had raised their voices. She moved toward the sound, thinking it was Cooley. Michael grabbed her arm and pulled her to the ground on the other side of Sarah’s car just as a shot rang out. Sarah would swear later that she felt something hot just glance her shoulder as she dropped.

“It may as well be,” Michael said as he pulled out a gun. Sarah could barely make out the shape as he positioned it at the side of his head. The sweat on the back of Sarah’s neck turned icy and for a moment she wished she had worn long pants and a turtleneck instead of her linen shorts and sleeveless cotton blouse. She began to tremble.

Michael suddenly stood up, fired off a shot that ricocheted off something metallic and then dropped down again. Sarah started to move forward, but, again, Michael grabbed her, this time by the back of her shorts. She turned hot with anger.

“Get your hands off me.” She slapped at Michael’s hand, but he hung on.

“Just hold on. I only fired a warning shot. Let’s get into your car—but stay down—and get the hell out of here.” Michael gave her one hard look. “You don’t know what you got into here.”

Sarah started to retort when another shot rang out, hitting the ground just front of Sarah’s Volvo station wagon. Without another word, Michael opened the car door and pushed Sarah inside, moving in after her.

“Give me your keys. Stay down!” Sarah pulled her keys from her pocket, almost dropping them before shoving them into Michael’s open palm. Keeping his head low, he jammed the keys in and started the ignition. Sarah peeked out the passenger window in time to see a burst of light in the darkness where the trailer stood. Michael put the Volvo in reverse and slammed on the gas, spewing gravel as the car careened backward.

“Get down!” Michael yelled, pushing Sarah down away from the window. Without thinking, she flung out her arm to hit him and hit the stick instead. She thought she heard Michael laugh as he shifted the car into Drive.

“Damn it!” Sarah crouched over her bruised hand. Looking up as they passed under a street lamp, she saw a slight smile on Michael’s face.

“You can get up now,” he said in a cheery voice. “We’re out of range.” Sarah crawled back up onto the seat and glared at Michael.

“What the hell was all that?” She pulled the hair out of her eyes, giving up on trying to keep it tidy. “Why would Cooley be shooting at me?”

“We don’t know it was Cooley, although he must have something to do with it.” Michael pulled the car into the highway and drove quietly. Sarah huddled against the passenger seat. She felt exhausted, confused, and in desperate need of a bathroom.  Michael turned off the highway and went down a narrow two-lane road, heading toward the bay.

After a few minutes, Michael stopped the car alongside an old Airstream that had been set up on blocks. Sarah’s heart sank. She would probably have to pee outside.

“Are you okay?” She turned to see Michael looking at her, the porch light throwing his face into soft relief.

“Yeah, I just have to pee. I don’t imagine you have facilities in there.” She pointed to the Airstream and Michael laughed.

“Oh, that’s one thing I don’t miss about Iraq—shitting in the sand. No, I’ve got facilities in the trailer.” Sarah slipped out of the car and followed Michael into the trailer, where he promptly flipped on a switch. The bright light caught Sarah by surprise.

“You don’t think we were followed, or that anyone is going to try and track us down?” She squinted at Michael. He was gesturing toward a narrow hallway.

“The toilet’s down there, second door on your right.” He turned toward her.  “And, no, I don’t think anybody is going to bother us. They just wanted to scare you.” He walked up to her and put his hands lightly on her shoulders. “And I hope they did.”

Sarah gaped at him and then pushed him aside as she made her way down the hallway. She was trying to help his sister. That’s all she was trying to do. She couldn’t understand why he didn’t help her. She slammed the door shut and managed to get situated on the toilet before her bladder gave way.


A Word from the Author of Clemency, A Novel in Progress

Hey, everybody, I feel like I’ve been so deep in NaNoWriMo land and posting the progress of my WIP, Clemency, that you all may have forgotten what I look like.

Photo on 11-23-14 at 1.58 PM

Yes, I now have blue hair as well as pink.  In the right light, my husband says I look patriotic.  It’s just a streak of blue, but it goes well with my favorite bathrobe, don’t you think?  Oh, and this is what my hair looks like when I don’t use a flat iron.  Kind of all over the place.  Amazing how much work I have to put into my appearance just to be able to leave the house.

Okay, enough about my hair (although it is my favorite subject).  The point of this post is to let all my steadfast readers of Clemency–all five of you–know that the last chapter will be posted on December 2.  And, yes, all will be revealed for those of you who keep insisting that Mrs. Whitebread is guilty.  She’s guilty, but …  enough said.

A word of warning:  You may feel like you’ve missed something once you get to the end.  And, yes, indeed, you will have missed quite a bit because I am not posting the whole novel on my blog.  Yup, whole chapters are being left out.  Why?  Here are my excuses reasons:

  • I didn’t want this WIP to go on indefinitely. I have other things I want to write about beside the novel that threatens to go forever.
  • I’ve tried to keep the posts to 1,000 words or less, but obviously (that is, if you’ve been reading), that’s been near to impossible.
  • Even more truthfully, posting these chapters have seriously cut into my writing time, more than I thought it would.

So I went ahead and wrote the ending, put it up on the scheduler and then just filled in with what I think are the most crucial chapters.

So in the remaining chapters, if you are reading along and find yourself exclaiming, “WTF. When did that happen?,” just know that it’s not you, it’s me, it’s the work in progress.  Besides, if I posted the whole novel, would there be any reason for anyone to buy it if and when it gets published?  “But, Marie,” you cry, “you’re giving away the killer’s identity!”  Yeah, so?  Some readers (myself included) don’t mind knowing the end as long as we have fun getting there (especially if your idea of fun is reading about people being tortured and killed).

Also, after Clemency has been raked over the coals by a series of revisions and an editor or two, the writing should be much better and, who knows, the killer’s identity might even change.  It would be just like me to do something like that.

I hope you enjoy the remaining posts on Clemency.  Looking forward to seeing you all on the other side.

P.S.  I’m past the 40,000 mark in NaNoWri as of this moment. Still a ways to go but I can almost taste the sweet finish.

Clemency, A Novel in Progress: Chapter 15

The following novel in progress is based on a real crime, but is largely a work of fiction.  I started this novel in 2008 and stopped after just a few chapters.  I will post those chapters here, and (hopefully) finish the remainder of the novel during NaNoWriMo.

Chapter 14 is here.


Mrs. Whitebread followed Sarah and watched through the kitchen window as Sarah propelled her old Volvo across the gravel parking lot. She slowly shook her head and patted the small pistol that she had slipped into her dress pocket. She suddenly felt all of her seventy-two years, although she had thus been able to fool nearly everyone into thinking she was much younger. Stay out of the sun, she told anyone who would listen, and take all things in moderation.

Well, all but shoes, she thought as she gazed down at her stilettos. She’d always had a soft spot for shoes and felt that one “vice” wouldn’t send her to Hell. But ratting on Sarah and Lucas might. Read the full post »

Clemency, A Novel in Progress: Chapter 14

The following novel in progress is based on a real crime, but is largely a work of fiction.  I started this novel in 2008 and stopped after just a few chapters.  I will post those chapters here, and (hopefully) finish the remainder of the novel during NaNoWriMo.

Chapter 13 is here.


Before the sound of Mrs. Whitebread’s steps fully faded away, Sarah had tapped out a text message to Michael. She mentioned Lucas but not the black SUV that had taken off as soon as Mrs. Whitebread had turned away from the window. She dropped the phone and rubbed her face, massaging sweat into her skin. She wanted to go back to her cottage, take a long shower, and then curl into bed and sleep until the deadline for Misty’s clemency petition had passed and there would be nothing they could do for her.

What a bitch, she thought to herself, of herself. What a pathetic, scaredy-cat bitch. What kind of lawyer would I be if I run away from every hard, every dangerous case. She hadn’t studied law to work on real estate transactions or trade agreements or copyright infringements. She hadn’t studied law to make money. She wanted to make a difference in people’s lives, people who didn’t have anyone advocating for them because they were poor or the wrong color or the wrong ethnicity. She wanted to advocate for the disenfranchised, people like Misty who didn’t have the means or the savvy to obtain a good defense. People who pled guilty even they weren’t guilty. They were just scared by a system that seemed to have nothing but contempt for them.

Her phone buzzed. It wasn’t Michael returning her call. It was the same caller as before, the one she had gotten just before Mrs. Whitebread’s strange visit. This time she took the call.

She froze when she heard the voice. She could almost smell the cigar smoke.

“Miss Mansfield. This is Sheriff Cooley. I believe I have some information that might help Misty’s case.”

“What information?” Sarah managed to sit down but every sense in her body was telling her to put the phone down and run.

“Well, actually, it’s something her half-sister Melody wants to tell you. Could you drive over here now, to Oyster Point?”

“Now?” Sarah glanced outside the window. It was getting dark. The faux-19th century street lamps were slowly coming on, making the natural light darker than it would otherwise be. Still, by the time she could get to Oyster Point, it would be dark. And she didn’t have any protection. She had never liked guns. Her father had given her target lessons when she was a teen-ager, which she had hated because of the noise and the recoil that her small frame always struggled with. But he had been persistent about it especially after one of her classmates was raped and murdered in her own home while her parents were on a weekend trip. It didn’t matter to her father that it was the young girl’s boyfriend who was the murderer and that Sarah never had a boyfriend and that her parents never left her alone overnight. It didn’t matter. What mattered to her father was that she’d know how to use a gun. The problem right now was that she didn’t have one.

“Yes, ma’am. I think Melody has a confession of sorts to make. She’s in distress right now otherwise I’d put her on the phone.”

Sarah hadn’t yet met Melody but nothing she had heard about the woman made Sarah feel she could trust her anymore than she could trust Cooley. Still, Melody had been at the scene of the crime when law enforcement arrived. One of the reports said that she had had blood on her, JImmy’s blood it was presumed, although no one bothered to test it to be sure.

“Okay. It will take me a couple of hours.”

“That’s fine, Miss Mansfield. I do apologize for the inconvenience, but I believe it will be worth your while.”

Sarah ended the call and stared at her phone for a few moments. Should she text or call Michael, she wondered? But he hadn’t yet responded to her text. Maybe he was busy with his “friend.” She didn’t know why it bothered her that he might have a female friend. It would probably be strange if he didn’t. Maybe he had more than one friend. Oh, damn, why did she care? He wasn’t her type. Too muscular. Too dark, not just in coloring with his dark eyes and dark hair (at least what little bit he left unshaved) and heavily tanned skin. He was all dark nature, like someone who would spend hours hiking through a forest but not even a few minutes reading a book. He was … sensual, not cool and distant like Lucas, like her dad, like the men she had been drawn to in law school. Men who tended not to return her interest once they learned that her student loans really were needed to pay her tuition and books, not to finance a fancy lifestyle.

She threw her phone into her messenger bag and slung the heavy thing over her shoulders. She didn’t try to be quiet as she ran down the stairs, her steps making an awful racket. Enough of one that Mrs. Whitebread appeared at her doorway, grimacing from the noise and the vibration Sarah’s clomping had set about her fine bone china teacups and saucers.

“Sorry, I’m in a hurry, Mrs. Whitebread.” She rushed past the woman, only momentarily wondering if she should stop and ask for the small unloaded pistol. But she decided against false confidence. Having a gun could be more dangerous than not having one, she thought as she practically flew out the back door to her car.


Final day for the Occasional Soulmates 99 cent countdown deal!


Snooze and you lose! Today is the last day to get Kevin Brennan’s Occasional Soulmates for only 99 cents! But if you’re really savvy, you’ll buy the paperback which allows you to have the Kindle version for free. Then you can give the paperback as a gift to your best friend and keep the Kindle version for yourself. A win-win!

Originally posted on WHAT THE HELL:

Blue gorilla

That’s right. If you’ve been fence-sitting on this thing, today’s the day you have to act. Occasional Soulmates is 99 cents until midnight PST.

It’s been a successful promotion, but only thanks to EReader News Today. On its own, a Kindle Countdown Deal doesn’t attract much attention, it seems to me; you need an outside push to ensure that lots of eyeballs see it. Luckily ENT isn’t terribly expensive, like a lot of them, but it’s effective.

To ignite one last flash of interest, I’m reposting here Cinthia Ritchie’s interview with me earlier this week on her blog. Hope you like it. Tell your friends. And, as always, thanks for your support on social media throughout this promotion.


Q: How did you come up with the idea for Occasional Soulmates? Did it pop inside your head suddenly or was it a slow tease?

A: It was a pretty…

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Clemency, A Novel in Progress: Chapter 13

The following novel in progress is based on a real crime, but is largely a work of fiction.  I started this novel in 2008 and stopped after just a few chapters.  I will post those chapters here, and (hopefully) finish the remainder of the novel during NaNoWriMo.

Chapter 12 is here.


Sarah sucked in her breath. Mrs. Whitebread didn’t look a like a killer, not with that fine string of pearls around her neck and her silver hair done up in a soft French twist and her feet still looking like they wanted to party in their Manolo Blahnik stilettos. The older woman turned her hand and held out the pistol to Sarah.

“Would you know how to use this? Do you have any protection?”

Sarah didn’t know whether to laugh or punch the old woman in the face or both. Read the full post »

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