Mother’s Day? Father’s Day? Why Not Brother’s Day?

A FREE short story by Colin Devonshire, here and on Anchor.fm

“Why the evil eyes, what’s the matter with you two?” a cheerful Mum asked her two sons.

“Keep smiling Mum, at least there is one lucky person, unbowed by grief. I haven’t seen Andy’s cheerful mug for weeks,” smirked Mart.

“I’m sick of the sight of you if you must know, Mr Perfect, ha, nothing goes wrong with your life?” said Andy.

“Big brother is not happy. I do not know what I’ve done to upset him?” said Mart, looking at his mother.

“You two, please settle down, let’s have dinner with no more arguments. It’s so nice to have you alone to myself,” said Gracie. 

The mother shook her head. The boys continued glaring and grunting nothings. She stood, smoothing her frock as she started to the kitchen to collect the roast beef.

“Yeah right, so our wives don’t start too rucking too?” called Andy after her.

“Where are the ladies tonight?” asked Mum from the doorway.

“My wife is busy with church work. How about yours, Andy?” sneered Mart.

“Mind your own business. Forget the food, Mum, I’m off.” 

Andy snatched his jacket from the back of his chair and stormed out.

“Now look what you’ve done,” she looked at Mart, her eyes boring into his skull.

Gracie slumped back down, head in hands.

“Oh Mum, you know what he’s like, he’ll be back when he realises his wife isn’t home,” Mart grinned.

“And how do you know she is not home?”

“Because she is with my wife, at the church.”

“What is this all about? You weren’t religious before, and neither was Peggy.”

“Let’s just say, we’ve seen a revelation. How about dinner? Come on, it will ruin.”

His mother returned with two plates piled high.

“I made enough for five, so eat up there’s plenty.”

“Lovely Mum thanks, Peggy is a superb cook, but she can’t match your roasts.”

“Don’t let her hear you say that. When are you two going to start a family?”

“No rush is there. We’ve all the time in the world,” smirked Mart.

“You don’t know that, look what happened to Andy and Ann,” said Gracie.

“I’m not like my brother and Peggy is not like his wife.”

She dished rhubarb crumble and custard as Mart’s phone chirped.

“Really? Okay on my way.”

Mart hunted his coat, “Sorry Mum, got to dash.”

“What about your pudding?”

The front door slammed, a sports car outside roared into life. Gracie left her dish untouched on the table as she flicked on her ageing computer.

“Now how do you do this Google thing?” she mumbled.

She tried all the names, the address and any details she could recall about ‘the church’ which seemed to break apart her family.

“Nothing? How come?”

Mart carefully locked his car, sneered at his brother’s van, and marched to the terraced house with the tiny logo on the door.

“What’s all this noise in the Lord’s house,” screamed from the hallway.

Peggy came running to her husband.

“He has gone mad. He thumped his wife. I couldn’t stop him,” panted Peggy.

“Is Ann okay?” as Mart marched towards his brother.

“Why do you care about her? Don’t tell me you fancy her?”

“Andy, you know me better than that,” tempers were rising, the fat fryer was bubbling.

“Why suddenly an interest in her then?” Andy’s face appeared ready to burst. He swept his hair out of his eyes, chin jutting.

“Let’s all calm down, shall we? Where is Ann?”

“I squared up to her, that’s all, and she ran up there,” he said pointing behind him.

“He hit her,” squealed Peggy.

“If Peggy goes and gets her, do you promise not to hit her again?” said Mart.

“I never hit her, it was more a push. I’ll never hit my wife,” broke Andy. Shoulders slumped, he sat on the floor.

Peggy moved past him. He remained motionless.

A tearful Ann joined the others.

“Are you okay?” asked Mart.

“Yeah, yeah, more of a shock. He has never raised a hand to me before,” said Ann.

“It’s all your fault,” Andy pointed at his brother.

Hands-on hips, Peggy stood up close and leaned across the sitting man, “We wanted to help you two have a baby, that’s all,” she hissed.

“You know damn well that’s impossible,” breathed Andy. “We’ve had all the tests, the lot. Our doctor said there was no chance, not now, never.”

Mart walked up, crouched, and hugged his brother. The girls were cuddling; they were all crying.

“Come on, all of us, let’s sit on the pews,” said Mart, as he handed around some prayer books.

“Andy, Ann, we know how stressful this has been for you both. That is why we wanted Ann to join us in worship at this church,” said Mart.

“Yes, and what good will that do?” asked Andy.

A chill blew down the quiet aisle. Only Andy seemed to feel it. He shivered. The subdued lighting seemed to dull, only Andy looked around.

“Our Lord can provide,” whispered Peggy.

Ann clutched her sister-in-law, they both had brilliant smiles lighting the gloom, Mart playfully slapped his brother’s thigh.

“Shall we pray?” he said.

Arms encircled shoulders, as the mumbling began, not the four family members, the sound bounced from the ceiling; the noise rumbled louder and louder, surrounding them.

“Oh Lord above, help us in this hour of need,” shouted Mart, as he prayed loudly for a new family member. A child he could worship as the Lord’s son.

The main door burst open, light from streetlights illuminated the bleak aisle, the overhead chanting quietened. Momentarily silence reigned, then a hissing sound as if from a giant snake whirled around their heads. Andy covered his ears and fell to the floor.

Mart, Peggy, and Ann turned to face the doorway light. Shielding their eyes.

“Out now, all of you,” bellowed, silhouetted Gracie as she stormed in.

A bed instantly transfixed Gracie, oddly positioned at front of the church. She ran forward and tipped the trestle on its side. A hard pillow bounced to an upside-down cross.

“Get out now, all of you,” she screamed again.

Red eyes, laser-sharp, beamed from the church’s darkest corner. The black-clad man stretched slowly forward and crushed her head with his bare hands.

“I only wanted a nephew,” said Mart as he dropped his keys outside the door.

The END

If you need proofreading drop me a line with your needs, Colin at write.right.okay@gmail.com

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Stuff It!

A FREE short story by Colin Devonshire, read here or listen at Anchor.fm

“I’ve known you for months now, you’ve taken me out to gorgeous restaurants, we’ve seen wonderful shows together, and you have even met my parents, so why have you never invited me to your place?” asked Annie.

Annie pushed down with her chubby fists into the small pockets of her baggy cardigan. Chris wondered how the knitting didn’t fall apart. Her habit was one of the many quirks she fascinated him with. 

“My house is a mess, you wouldn’t like it,” Chris answered. He aimed to take her, but only when he was ready, not before.

“Do you know what my Mum said?”

“Oh, doesn’t she like me?” asked Chris.

“Just the opposite,” said Annie, “She thinks you are too good for me. What a thing to say to your daughter, can you believe that?”

“I’m sure she wasn’t being serious,” answered Chris.

“Am I too plain?” she asked.

“Not at all, you are just right,” he said, eyeing her, judging her measurements.

“What are you looking at? Are my boobs too big or too small?”

Chris laughed, “I want to buy you a new outfit.”

“It’s not my birthday. Are we going somewhere special?” queried Annie.

“You asked about my house, but you haven’t asked about my hobby,” said Chris.

“And new clothes? Are they linked to your hobby?”

“I want to take you to an exhibition. We should dress smartly, but not over the top. I have to meet someone there,” said Chris.

She flicked her mousey hair out of her eyes, her ponytail was working itself loose, she studied him lopsided; he was tall, slim, handsome, intelligent and wealthy.

“Why are you interested in me?” she asked.

“I won’t lie to you, you are not the prettiest girl I’ve ever dated, I just love being with you.”

She studied his face, trying to pick the untruth, and failed.

“Not everyone understands my hobby, I hope you can grow to love it,” he carried on.

“You haven’t told me what it is?”

“No, you will soon see at the exhibition. You will witness art, nothing less, things that I and others achieve with our skills,” he said proudly before carrying on. “Put on your business shoes, we are going shopping, I need to match the new outfit with your footwear, or do we need new shoes as well?” he grinned, she melted.

“Tomorrow we have a man to meet and terrific art to judge,” Chis slid his coffee cup to the centre of the table. He stood holding out his tanned hand leading her back to his car.

At ten-fifty the following day, Annie was rushing, she had the iron set too hot, and scorched the back of her blouse, “Oh, well, no one will see it under my new jacket,” she chuckled.

“You look wonderful,” Chris said as he admired the new suit.

Annie gave a twirl before she jumped in the gleaming blue BMW.

Forty-five minutes later they parked under the exhibition hall. It was only when Annie spotted the direction arrow, ‘To Taxidermist Show’, did she have any clue where they were going.

“Is that what we’ll see?”

“Yep, does that bother you?” asked Chris.

“Not at all, great, lead me to it, let’s see what they’ve got.”

A beaming Chris led the way up.

“Welcome sir, this way please,” he guided them through to the main hall.

A number back slapped him as he led an amazed Annie to the stage.

“Here he is, great to see you again, are you ready?” said the event chairperson.

“Always ready for my fellow taxidermists, what time do you want me to speak,” asked Chris.

Annie’s jaw dropped.

“You will be our last speaker, then I’ll wrap things for another year,” said the elderly chairperson.

Chris and Annie sat at the front while speakers explained new skills, showed off their lifelike pets and summed-up new techniques.

“And now, our star speaker, who needs no introduction…” the chairman waffled on.

Chris bounded up the steps to the stage, flapping his hands to quell the applause.

“I won’t bore you with a long speech, but first like to introduce my favourite lady, Ms Annie…”

Annie blushed, half stood and gave a timid wave behind her. Chris continued for twenty-minutes, even a novice like Annie understood the gist of it.

Clapping and hand-shaking went on for longer than expected, drowning the chairs’ farewell speech.

Servers handed glasses of crisp white wine out, as people viewed exhibits after thanking Chris for coming.

“So, Annie, what do you think of my hobby?” asked Chris.

“Er, it was, er, surprising. I did not expect that. Are any of the exhibits yours?”

“No, not here, I’ll show you mine later. At my home, if you want to see them?”

Annie smiled inwardly. She wanted to view his bedroom, forget the stuffed creatures.

On the way back Chris was quiet, “What’s wrong Chris, did I do something wrong?”

“No, dear, I’m thinking that’s all.”

Annie placed her hand on the leg of his immaculately creased trousers. She gently squeezed. He rewarded her with a stony stare. Hastily she rubbed her chin.

The BMW crunched gravel as they swept to the front door. Slipping the key in the door’s lock, his arm on her back, he led her in.

“Wine, or a coffee?” he asked.

“How about both,” she said as she slipped off her jacket. Quickly changing her mind as she remembered the scorched scar.

“Make yourself at home,” said Chris as he went to the kitchen.

Annie peered about her. He displayed his forest animals in glass cases; they looked so lifelike, as if they needed cages, not glass boxes.

“Admiring my efforts?” as Chris handed the wine and placing the coffee on the table.

“They look so… real,” she stammered.

“They are real, do you mean alive?”

“Yes, that’s what I mean, as if they could jump out,” she said.

“That’s the idea,” said Chris.

“No wine?” she asked.

Chris smiled at her and shook his head.

“Don’t worry about driving, if that’s why you are not drinking? I could… stay here, if you like?” she said.

“I’m not worried about driving,” he smiled. “Finish your drinks, I’ve more to show you.”

“Oh, goodie,” she whispered, wondering when he planned to show her upstairs.

“Before we take the evening further, I’d like to show off more of my hobby and then the workroom where it’s all done. Is that okay with you?”

He pushed open the next room’s door. She guessed it was a dining room, but now it was an exhibition room boasting larger and rarer animals.

“Where did you get a monkey? Oh my God, there’s a tiger,” gasped Annie.

“Keep what you’ve seen to yourself, I don’t let just anybody in here you know.”

“Were they dead when you got them?”

“That’s an odd question,” began Chris, “Do you think I’d kill protected species?”

“Um, it’s all so new to me,” wishing she’d kept her mouth shut.

“I’ll get the wine and join you in a glass next door,” said Chris.

He opened the door and pointed the way in. An odd aroma escaped, causing Annie to crunch her nose.

“Is that formaldehyde?” she wondered.

Tools were all arranged neatly, knives and various blades according to size, a wooden mallet and a smaller metal one took pride of place.

Chris returned with two glasses of France’s favourite tipple.

“Cheers Annie, have you enjoyed your evening? Maybe you’d like to work on my next project?” Chris asked.

“It’s been enthralling, I’d love to keep seeing you, but I’m not sure if I could skin an animal.”

“That’s a shame, a great pity. You are a natural for taxidermy,” he breathed.

She looked around, studying the equipment closer. 

“Make-up? Stage make-up? Why would you need that?” she whispered?

Her legs shook, she fought the drowsiness sweeping between her ears.

“Make-up is necessary for a simple reason, human skin discolours, human skin also stretches far more than animal pelt. So, I need all my skill, especially for a plump little creature like you!”

The END

You may like Stephen King’s If It Bleeds.

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Uncover the twisted tales that inspired the big screen’s greatest screams.

Which case of demonic possession inspired The Exorcist? What horrifying front-page story generated the idea for A Nightmare on Elm Street? Which film was based on the infamous skin-wearing murderer Ed Gein?

Unearth the terrifying and true tales behind some of the scariest Horror movies to ever haunt our screens, including the Enfield poltergeist case that was retold in The Conjuring 2 and the serial killers who inspired Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs.

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If you’ve read this far, you have read my short story, would you like to try a full length thriller?

Not Far Enough From Worries (No Worries Book 1) by [Colin Devonshire]
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A drug lord fathers his lesbian niece’s child, but not in the usual way! 
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When Cold Sets In

A FREE short story by Colin Devonshire – http://www.dark-novels.com anchor.fm

When Cold Sets In

“Did you shut the door?” asked Joe.

“Of course I did, do you think I’m stupid?” answered Greg.

“It’s bad enough having to work on a night like this.”

“Did you drive in?” asked Greg.

“Yeah, I would not walk,” said Joe.

“You live near enough, I didn’t have a choice,” mumbled Greg.

“Aargh, look, the light is on in the accounts department.”

“That’s Polly, she’s new,” Greg’s eyes lit up.

“How can they force a girl to work on a night like this? Especially a new member of staff. A brilliant manager she has,” said Joe.

“She messed up an order from a new advertiser.”

“How come you know so much?” asked Joe.

“Yesterday I took her out for a drink,” grinned Greg as he waved to her through the glass dividing wall between accounts and the editorial department. “Her name is Polly if you are interested?”

“I’m more worried they have changed my alterations as marked. Hopefully, all is correct. And you must get on and finish the last empty slot, the quicker you get writing, the quicker we can file this lot at the printers!”

“And then, feet up for a day or two?” asked Greg.

‘The Advertiser’, boasted it hit the streets every week, without fail, even during World War II. Tonight would test that. Snow piled across the main street of the small town, the weather forecast promised more. The local paper had celebrated its one-hundredth year in publication earlier that summer, to great fanfare. Joe had worked there for eleven years he was now senior editor, and Greg, births, marriages and deaths reporter, just two years.

“I couldn’t get into the underground car park. The security guy said it would be okay to park outside, ‘no one is stupid enough to work in this weather’. He is mad, that guy, you know?” said Joe.

“He is odd, I agree. At least he turned up!” laughed Greg.

“You had better get that marriage story finished, then we can all go home,” said Joe.

“Can you believe it? The groom is seventy-two, the bride is twenty-five,” laughed Greg.

“Yeah, and he owns seven of the newsagents that sell our rag. So make it complimentary,” said the editor.

“Have you seen the state of him?”

“Yes, I have met him. Obnoxious man, but runs a profitable business,” said Joe.

“He must be well and truly minted, how else could he get a girl like her,” Greg passed the wedding photo across the desk.

“Just get on with it… What the hell?”

The normally noisy heating system suddenly silenced.

“Great, now we’ll freeze,” said Greg.

“I’ll check with security,” Joe buzzed the internal phone. “No answer?”

“He’s probably gone to check the boiler,” said Greg.

“Now what? The lights are flickering. Don’t say the power will go off?”

“Can I sit with you guys? My room is dark and my computer has gone off,” asked Polly.

“I’ll see security,” said Joe as he marched to the door.

“I was going to make you a hot drink, but your kettle is not working,” said Polly.

Greg flicked the switch, “No power.”

The key lights went out. Security power kicked in and a dim orange glow illuminated the office.

“How romantic, pity we can’t share a bottle of wine,” grinned Greg.

“Stop it, I’m scared,” said Polly, pushing Greg’s roving hands away.

“No sign of that bloody man,” moaned Joe as he burst back in.

“Where can he be? Did you check the toilets?” asked Greg.

“I’ve been to his guard’s cubicle, I’ve checked the boiler under the building, and yes, I even shouted for him in the bog,” answered Joe.

Greg tried the office phone, “Dead. Anyone got his mobile number?”

They shook their heads.

“Let’s get on, do what we can. I’ll read through these proofs, while you two search the building. Okay?” ordered Joe.

“Is the light good enough for your proofreading?” asked Polly.

“It’ll do, when the power comes back we can finish and go home.”

Joe pleased with himself as he had already printed out all the articles, he still preferred the old ‘blue pencil’ for marking literals and grammar mistakes. Head down, he started flicking through papers, hunting errors.

He was losing track of time, checking his watch, “Where have they got to?”

The door creaked, slowly opening, Polly tumbled through and collapsed to the floor, blood splashed the tiles.

“My God, what has happened?”

Joe rushed to her.

“Mmmur muublrrr,” she mumbled.

Joe held her gently, checking for wounds.

“Where does it hurt?” he asked.

“Eee,” she made no sense, couldn’t get a word out.

“Whose blood is this? You are unharmed,” said Joe.

Polly curled into a ball and wailed.

Joe looked around and nervously crept towards the door. Polly grabbed his leg. Hugging with all her strength, forcing him to remain with her.

“Polly dear, we can’t stay like this. Come with me, we must find Greg.”

Shaking her head and holding him tighter.

“I must go, are you coming or not?” he asked again.

Slowly she released her grip, he helped her up, now crouching and arm in arm they moved towards the door. Joe opened it and peered left and right. He took a step into the corridor, Polly collapsed and curled into a ball rolling up against the door.

“Stay there then, I’ll look around,” said Joe.

She was quivering and mumbling incoherently. Joe stepped towards the stairs. He pointed up; she nodded.

He needn’t ask as blood splattered each upward step, Joe nervously moved on.

Peering over the handrail and looking down, he gasped.

“Oh, no!”

He rushed down to the crumpled body of the security man. He was upright and on his knees; the joints unnaturally broken, the man’s calves were flat on the ground in front of him, feet pointed upwards.

“My God, whatever happened?”

The guard’s arms were broken at the elbows, like his legs they were at an impossible angle. Joe then looked at the man’s head, the right ear was on his left shoulder. Joe tasted acid puke in his throat as he gagged before running up the stairs.

“Where is Greg?” he asked himself.

Slowly he moved up and up. Step by step. He listened for the slightest sound, nothing, silence.

“Greg, where are you?” he whispered as he reached the end of the bloody trail. A step further, the blood continued under a door. He stood outside the MD’s office, the lock smashed. Joe breathed deeply, then pushed the door open. Something was stopping the wood. He pushed harder as he looked in. Greg’s head rolled across the carpet.

Staring open-mouthed, Joe felt stuck in time and place, motionless for a moment.

Shaking with fear, he forced himself forwards, towards the stained soggy mess of the carpet. Greg’s body bent in two, stuffed under the desk. Gripping the edge of the desk, he gawped at his friend.

Suddenly, without warning, Joe felt lifted then slammed onto the floor. His teeth shattered like a starburst as his head bounced like a basketball on the gym floor. The sounds of flesh ripping and bones cracking failed to stop Joe thinking of next week’s lead story.

‘What Happened At The Advertiser,’ the headline flashed in his mind. ‘Full details in next week’s edition’ ran the sub-head, he would edit no more.

The END

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The Invited: A Novel by [Jennifer McMahon]

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I Told You I’d Remember!

FREE short stories by Colin Devonshire here or Anchor.fm

I Told You I’d remember!

“Beautiful day,” said Dr Pinkly.

“I’m so glad you decided not to keep us inside today,” answered Pauline.

“Sun shining, fresh air, what could be better?” he said.

“I could name a few things,” she answered.

“Please don’t think of this as part of your treatment. Relax and enjoy,” he said.

“What? How can I think of it any other way? It’s not as if we could be mates, is it?”

“My job is to make you feel better within yourself.”

“And my job is to make you work for your money,” she laughed.

They strolled on, bees were exploring the fresh growth on bushes, buds fighting to burst their colour. A boy clad as Thomas the Tank Engine rattled his bike’s trainer wheels on the walkway. His mother pretended she couldn’t catch him. Their love showed in shared laughter. Both psychiatrist and patient smiled at the sideshow.

“Would you like a coffee?” asked Dr Pinkly, pointing to a kiosk.

“Please, no sugar, I’m sweet enough,” the smiles continued.

Pauline sat and waited, deep in thought, trying to remember why she was there.

“Thanks, doc,” she said. The smile had gone.

Pinkly sat, crossing his legs, Pauline noticed how he attempted to keep his creases straight. She considered how ‘normal’ was that?

“Are there any memories tapping at your brain trying to break free, something you feel you should know?” he said, trying to keep the mood light.

“I even tried a local hypnotist, he advertises on Facebook. Still nothing,” she said.

“I did not recommend hypnotherapy,” he grimaced.

“Yes, I know, but I want to prove to you, I’m trying my hardest to remember.”

“Your memory will come back without needing to force things,” said Dr Pinkly.

“Did you know the police pestered me again?” she asked.

“They did not tell me, but I’m not surprised.”

“Really? What more do they want from me?” said Pauline.

She lobbed her paper mug into the bin. Looking at Pinkly’s hardly tasted, she asked, “Not up to your standard? Not as good as Miss Sexy Legs makes at your office?”

He grinned and finished his drink. They walked towards the lake.

“The police have a task to complete, they have a missing man. A man with a history of violence against women, where has he disappeared to? That man attacked you and your mother. The police need to discover what happened.”

Pauline hid a smile, covering her mouth with a tissue. 

“Why is that funny?” she thought.

“Your father attacked you. Do you have any feelings for him?”

“I feel nothing. He was not around when I was a kid. He showed up on my eighteenth birthday, turning up from nowhere, expecting Mum and me to welcome him back,” said Pauline.

“Tell me about your party?”

“It was a typical teenager’s bash. Mum laid on sandwiches, a bowl of punch and a gigantic cake. My Dad turned up at nine, in one of his vintage motors. He hadn’t remembered my special day, he was only there to pick up one of his tools. Do you know why they bought that house?”

The doctor shook his head.

“Because it boasted an inspection pit in the garage. Letting my Dad repair his dream cars. Anyway, it was clear he couldn’t join the party or even go to the garage. Some lads blocked his way, so he left. Mum went out at ten to meet her mate. He set upon her in an alley before she got to her friend’s place. She lost her handbag, but we all suspected my Dad. The police arrested him and released him without charge,” she said.

“You thought it was your father?”

“I’ve told you many times, yes! Why is that so difficult to believe?”

“Why did the police release him?”

“They had no firm proof he attacked Mum. He crept up from behind, so she saw nothing.”

The tense feeling left them as they laughed at a father knee-deep in the lake attempted to recover his son’s toy yacht. He fell in; the boat drowned.

Fighting off the smile, the doctor asked, “How do you feel about your Dad now?”

It was as if he had slapped her. Now her face froze, anger petering on the explosion, a volcano fighting to spread lava on anyone near enough to get barbecued. Shaking the dread clear, then as if a switch flicked, she smiled once more, “He’s my father, of course, I love him.”

“Why do I not believe you?”

“You can believe what you like,” she said, shaking her head.

“I am on your side, I aim to help. But you need to remember. What happened then and what happened to your Mum recently.”

He stared into her eyes, nothing.

“Are you planning on returning to work?” he asked.

“I will. But first I must get my head straight. A month ago my Dad disappears, okay, I can live with that, but Mum? Where the hell is she?”

Changing the subject, “How are you managing for money?”

“I live in Mum’s house, so no rent to pay, I’ve got savings and I use Mum’s credit cards,” she sniggered. “I will earn cash soon enough, so no worries.”

They started back to Dr Pinkly’s office. A ‘bleep’ sounded from his jacket pocket. “That is ‘Miss Sexy Legs’, it must be important, she knows not to disturb me when I’m with you.”

He read the message. His sun-pinked complexion now a frosted grey.

“We must go back, the police want you.”

“Have they been in the garage?” 

“I don’t know, why?” he asked.

“Maybe they have lifted the cover on the pit?” she said.

“Why?” he asked, stopping and gripping her shoulders.

Gazing into his caring eyes, “They will find Mum and Dad,” she said.

“What are you saying?”

Memories struck like a team of baseball players swinging for home runs. Each connecting, her head bounced from hitter to hitter. Her knees buckled. He led her back to the bench.”Please tell me, go on. Is it coming back?”

“I heard my Mum’s raised voice in the garage, I went to see who she was talking with. It was my Dad. He had crept into the garage to get his tools. My Mum was begging for his forgiveness. I couldn’t believe it.”

Pauline’s hands clasped her head to stop the uncontrollable shakes. 

“I hit him with a wrench,” she whispered. All shaking stopped.

“She swore at me! Can you believe that? She had never done that before. She was protecting him, defending him. Christ, all the abuse and pain he had caused,” she said.

The psychiatrist knelt in front of her, “We must see the police, I can tell them what you’ve been through, explain your mental state.”

“Let me finish first.” 

She studied him as if they had reversed roles.

“I hit her too. She joined him on the floor like a marital bed,” she snorted. “I rolled them both into the pit.”

Now the doctor held his head in his hands. Bikes with trainer wheels, soaking fathers, and sunken boats were forgotten.

“I poured in petrol and torched them. When the flames died, I replaced the cover. And forgot what I had done.”

The END

You may like Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by [Lori Gottlieb]

$12.99

One day, Lori Gottlieb is a therapist who helps patients in her Los Angeles practice. The next, a crisis causes her world to come crashing down. Enter Wendell, the quirky but seasoned therapist in whose of­fice she suddenly lands. With his balding head, cardigan, and khakis, he seems to have come straight from Therapist Central Casting. Yet he will turn out to be anything but.

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Or Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow.

$6.61

   Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people do in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you. 

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Before Yesterday

A FREE short story by Colin Devonshire, read here or listen to Anchor.fm Dark-Novels

Before Yesterday?

“Eighteen today? A big boy now,” said June.

“Yes, mum, does that mean you’ll allow me out?” 

“Jimmy, we’ve been through this. You can go out, you always could.”

“I mean, on my own,” said Jimmy through clenched teeth.

“Open your gift. Do you like it?” his Mum asked.

“Thank you. It would be better if I had somewhere to wear it,” he answered, lobbing his new jumper onto the sofa.

“Have you any schoolwork to catch up with?”

“Most people my age have quit school by now. Why do I have to keep learning?” asked Jimmy.

“We’ve been through this too, you were a late starter, you need to catch up now.”

Jimmy started schooling at the age of just under five. Unfortunately, he stopped at nine. Fortunately, he didn’t know why.

“What are you doing, Jimmy?” June asked.

“Just researching my authors. The home school told me to,” he answered, closing his laptop.

“Let me see!” his Mum asked angrily.

Red-faced, Jimmy handed it over.

“When did you open a Facebook account?” she asked.

“I was just looking,” he stammered.

“You’ve had this for weeks, you’ve got ten friends already. Eight of them are girls. What are you up to?”

“Mum, everybody has Facebook.”

“Maybe, but it is no good for you. From now, you can only use your Apple when I’m with you.”

“Mum, I’m eighteen, I want to go out with other people my age.”

“Get your shoes on, we are going for a walk.”

June grabbed Jimmy’s hand as they rounded a corner, “Ah, how sweet, holding your Mum’s hand,” “What a pretty boy,” “Come and hold this,” laughed a gang of teenagers.

Jimmy ducked his head but smiled at one girl.

June pulled him harder as she pressed a doorbell. ‘Dr Siriwan, Hypnotherapist’, boasted the label. The receptionist showed them to the waiting room. June poked her head through the door and whispered.

“We need your help, doctor.” 

“The same problem?” he asked.

“Yes, and getting worse, I’m afraid.”

“Come and make yourself comfortable, Jimmy,” signalled Dr Siriwan.

Jimmy knew the routine. He slid across the leather seat until relaxed, laying back in the upholstery. 

When the session ended, “Sorry, but I must charge you more, it’s taking longer to get the message across. Also, I’m not sure if I can continue with this treatment. It is against all ethics,” said the Doctor.

“What am I going to do?” said June.

“Why not let him grow up?” said Dr Siriwan.

June shook her head, grabbing her son. Jimmy skipped home.

Jimmy had some cocoa and went to bed. June grabbed his laptop.

“Facebook… What has he been looking at?”

June deleted his new ‘pals’. She half-closed the top, then changed her mind.

“What’s this?” 

She scrolled through pages of home-schooling work, “What is this? Family search? That won’t help him. He doesn’t know I changed our surname,” she worried.

She suddenly bolted up, knocking her chair backwards.

“Please no, ‘Family Tragedies’, oh no, please, please, don’t let him find out,” she wailed. Tapping local news pages, flipping page after page, what other articles had he researched. “Thank God we moved,” she said.

She stormed upstairs to quiz him, bursting through the door, she stopped, “Ah, look at him, sleeping like a baby.”

Changing her mind, she returned and flicked the kettle on.

Upstairs a ‘young’ eighteen-year-old boy opened and closed one eye, then the other. He reached under the bed and pulled out three A4 sheets he had printed earlier. Rereading for the third time.

“Could this be me?” he asked himself.

The next morning toast was burning.

“You seem sleepy. Did you not sleep well?” his Mum asked.

“Funny dreams, that’s all,” he answered.

“There is bread in the toaster, can you manage? Don’t overdo it with the peanut butter. I must pop out,” June said.

“Okay, Mum.”

“And get on with your history lesson. I won’t be very long.”

Grabbing her handbag and snatching her car keys from the shelf, she left him.

He left the bread sitting cold; he sprinted upstairs. In her wardrobe was a metal box tucked under a selection of old shoes. It should be secure but wasn’t. Her son would never pry, would he?

He opened it. Studying the contents for an hour.

“I’m home, how are you getting on?” she called, noticing the bread untouched and, unusually, the top was on the Sunpat Peanut Butter jar.

“In here,” he called.

“That doesn’t look like school work?”

“No, it isn’t. I have a question, who is James Jameson?”

She collapsed into the chair. Slowly regaining her wits, she peered up at her son looming and leaning over her.

“And June Jameson?” he continued.

“Uh, I, I mean we,” she looked hopelessly at her son. “I changed our surname,” wondering how much he had found out.

“Yes, but why?”

“Would you like your toast now?”

“No, why did you change our names?”

“My dear, it was a long time ago, we had to move,” she said, realising he hadn’t mentioned moving. She bit her lip.

“So, we moved, did we? And you changed our names? Why?” he asked. He had never shouted at her before.

She studied him warily, trying not to say more.

“Well?” he screamed, clenching his fists.

“Have you taken your medication, dear,” she asked.

“Forget the pills, forget the toast. Just tell me,” his fists slammed into the coffee table. She was quaking. Old memories flooded back.

“Okay darling, okay, you had a… a kind of breakdown. We had to move away from our old house.”

This calmed him, but only briefly, he was thinking.

“Let me make you something to eat?” 

She nipped to the kitchen. Her hands shook as she opened a tin of beans. Suddenly, Jimmy stood behind her.

“Who is my Dad? Where is he?”

“Your father is no longer with us,” she answered.

“Did you change his name?”

Wondering why he had asked that question, she puzzled what had he read?

“No, I’m sorry he died.”

“Was he sick?”

“He had er a… an accident.”

“Oh, I wondered why you kept a newspaper clipping,” he sneered.

The beans hit the floor, spilling tomato sauce across the tiles. His slippers slipped as he grabbed her throat.

“I did it for you,” she cried.

“You killed my Dad? And my little sister?”

She could no longer speak as his fingers dug deeper. She shook her head as his grip eased.

“I read the newspaper, tell me the truth,” he said.

Rubbing her bruised neck, “Let’s sit down. I’ll tell you about that day.”

He kicked off his sticky slippers before he walked on the carpet.

“You are a good boy,” she said.

Behind him, she grabbed a plastic bag from the counter and flipped it over his head. This time it was her small hands gripping the plastic to his throat. She kept a tight hold even when his knees buckled. She moved with him. Right down onto the floor.

She put a cushion under his neck, as any Mum would. Leaving the bag tightly in its place. She sprinted to her bedroom, grabbing the yellowing newspaper, and jogged back to her son.

“You want to know what happened? I’ll read it to you.” Unfolding the paper, she cleared her throat, “Listen while I read, ‘A cold but dry evening last week saw a tragedy unfold in our small village. Mr Jameson had tidied up his garden. He lit a fire to burn leaves when an argument broke out between his children. ‘Dreadful it was,’ said his wife Mrs Jameson, who witnessed the event from her kitchen window. ‘My husband tried to stop Jimmy and his little sister fighting, Jamie was consoling Lulu when Jimmy struck him with a rock, my husband fell onto the flames. Jimmy grabbed a can, thinking it was water, and threw it over both Lulu and Jamie. I was too slow’ she said through tears. The police are unsure if the boy knew it was petrol or water in the can. They took Jimmy away for questioning’. So dear son, now you know what happened. You spent three years in a secure hospital, treatment and counselling. They said you could leave into my care. Goodnight, my sweet boy, sleep well.”

“No mother could have done more,” she thought.

The END

If you enjoyed my story you may like The Housekeeper by Natalie Barelli

The Housekeeper: A twisted psychological thriller by [Natalie Barelli]
$3.99

She’s a liar. She’s a stalker. She’s in your house.

When Claire sees Hannah Wilson at an exclusive Manhattan hair salon, it’s like a knife slicing through barely healed scars. It may have been ten years since Claire last saw Hannah, but she has thought of her every day, and not in a good way. So Claire does what anyone would do in her position—she stalks her.

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Or Samantha Hayes’ The Happy Couple.

The Happy Couple: An absolutely unputdownable and gripping psychological thriller by [Samantha Hayes]
$3.99

Me and Will. Will and Me. A perfect match. He said he would always be there for me, but it’s been a year since he drained his coffee, walked out the front door and vanished.

Did he leave me? Or did something terrible happen? I’m scared someone finally found out about what happened on the drive home that night…

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Day Nine

A FREE short story by Colin Devonshire, read here or listen to Anchor.fm

Day Nine

Day nine was Christmas Day, the family had all gathered; they decorated the table with holly and crackers. We were all smiling, Dad had been generous with gifts this year. Mum carried the turkey from the oven. Uncle Pete stood, pulled his Browning and shot his brother, my father. The bullet entered below his eye, killing him instantly. 

Mum dropped the bird and stood opened-mouthed. My sister screamed. Granddad pushed his chair back and started after uncle Pete. The door slammed. Uncle Pete fired the engine and screeched down the otherwise quiet street. The black Jaguar disappeared by turning left.

I jogged back inside. Granddad was coughing and bent double by the door getting his breath back, I passed him to check on my mum. She was crying, slumped in an armchair. My fifteen-year-old sister, calling emergency services, hammering number nine. My dad? He hadn’t moved after hitting a side-plate with his head. Oddly, I noticed the family framed photo behind him, glass shattered with a small lump of metal buried in mum’s face.

Dad was wearing his Christmas present, a light-blue button-down collar business shirt. He also sported a bulky bandage on his wrist. A thought struck me, “How come did Dad and Uncle Pete have the same taste in clothes. When Dad wore light blue, Pete wore a slightly different shade of blue. If Dad wore yellow, Pete would wear orange, if Dad wore burgundy, Pete sported maroon?” I also wondered, “Why does uncle Pete have a bandage wrapped around his head?”

Pete and my Dad would meet up most mornings, they planned their next robbery. In the evening they would share a few beers, sometimes here in our living room or down at their local.

“What happened?” I asked my sister.

“You saw what happened, don’t ask stupid questions,” she answered.

I asked my mum and anyone listening to the same question. The replies were grunts or shakes of heads.

Then the police arrived, followed by the ambulance.

The Doherty boys were well known to the ‘Old Bill’. The questioning went on for an hour. The police received similar answers to me. My granddad lost his temper, swore and threatened the police. They arrested him. They sent my sister and me upstairs.

Mum continued talking, but we couldn’t hear, even when we crept closer down the stairs. Janice grunted, “I’m going for a walk,” slamming the front door.

“Can I come?”

“No!” she yelled at me.

Day 1

“The Post Office offers such slim pickings these days, we should try something else,” said Pete.

“What have you got in mind?” asked my dad.

“I watched the employees at that Indian factory in West Road. Friday nights they check their pay packets as they exit the door.”

“You want us to knock a few foreigners over the head? And nick their pitiful wage?” asked my Dad.

“Because they are illegals, they don’t have bank accounts, so, all cash.”

“That means somebody has to pay in pound notes? Why not nick the lot? We are wasting our time by taking each worker’s salary. We’ll hit the boss,” said my Dad smiling.

Both Dad and Uncle Pete leaned back and fiddled with their neckties, Dad’s plain dark blue, Pete’s Paisley patterned royal blue.

Day 2

Sat in the Jag, they took it in turns to watch the factory. Taking snaps of everyone who entered the works. Most walked along the road, a few came on the bus. The first to arrive were in a newish Mercedes. A large turbaned man driving the passenger was a strikingly good-looking young lady in a silk sari. They sauntered through the main door.

“He must be the boss. Who is she? Too young to be his wife. Well-dressed for a secretary?” said Pete. “Christ, she’s beautiful.”

My Dad had given up trying to find a wife for his brother. He snorted, “Get a nice English lass. What’s wrong with you?”

Day 3

The staff must clock in at eight. The turbaned man and the good-looking lady were already in their office. Just after noon, a new van pulled up, the driver in smart casual clothes, flicked his ginger hair from his eyes as he breezed in. Five minutes later he left, after assisting a pair of men loading the van with bundles wrapped in brown paper. Dad and uncle Pete followed the buyer’s truck.

“Hello mate, what’s the food like in here?” said Dad to ginger.

“Yeah, pretty tasty mate.”

The pub was empty; the cooking smells wafted into the bar.

“What are they cooking, smells great?” asked Pete.

“They knock up a special, good job you’re here early. It gets packed at one when the factories shut for lunch. Sit with me if you like?”

The three men sat by the window tucking into the special lunch.

“Are you your own boss?” asked Dad.

“Yeah, I buy a bit of this and that. Hope to sell it for a tasty profit. Doing well with fancy rip-offs,” he chuckled.

“Really? That sounds good. Tell us more. What are you selling?”

“I sell fashion polo shirts, stuff like that. I get a good deal from that Indian ‘gaff up the road,” said Ginger.

“Indians, eh? Are they good to deal with?”

“Yeah, except they want cash up front. It was difficult at first, but now business is great.”

Day 4

The Merc arrived well before eight. Later, the silk sari flowed to Starbucks on the corner. Dad stayed in the car, while Pete decided they needed coffees too.

“She smells divine,” Pete mouthed silently, following the sari.

He rushed ahead and opened the door for her, “After you,” he said.

“Thank you, kind gentleman,” she said, brilliant white teeth flashed a shy smile.

He turned and opened the door for her once more. Coffee in hands, she walked back to work.

Pete made sure nobody saw him get in the Jag.

“We’d better park somewhere else, I’m worried they’ll get suspicious, us here day after day.”

“It wouldn’t be a problem if you hadn’t got out. You and your coffee? We have dark windows in case you’ve forgotten. Come on, that’s enough surveillance for one day.”

Day 5

Pete was busy Googling at six am, finding out all he could about Indian ladies. He wanted to learn about saris, in case he got another chance to speak with her.

Dad swapped his car for his mate’s Ford, “Just for a day,” he told Mum. She was proud to sit in the Jaguar and didn’t want to lose it.

Late that morning a ten-wheeler arrived, staff rushed a forklift to the doors. Soon bolts of cloth, blues of many shades, creamy white and bright yellows and oranges hastily shipped inside. The driver left, stuffing cash-filled envelopes into his cab.

“Come on, let’s nick that lot,” yelled Pete.

“Don’t be so hasty, young brother. They deal in cash, right? That means there will be a lot more. Just wait, we will be in for a bumper payout,” said my Dad happily.

Day 6

They parked the Jag in the opposite direction and further down the road. Dad had brought his binoculars.

He was jumping with excitement when he came home at the end of the shift.

“You should have seen the number of customers they had, in and out, all day.”

He was rubbing his hands as he told us about bundles and bundles being shifted.

Pete was strangely quiet as Mum served the dinner.

Day 7

Pete was late coming to our house that morning.

“Where the hell is he?” asked my Dad.

“Maybe he overslept?” answered my Mum.

“He never sleeps in when we are working,” said Dad.

Pete was not in bed, he was timing his walk to coincide with the Indians.

“Good morning, lovely day,” he said.

The turban grunted, “Good day.”

She chuckled as she ducked through the door.

“Where the hell have you been?” asked my Dad.

“I went to the factory early, to see what happens before the staff arrive.”

“Why?”

“You never know,” Pete said.

“Did anything happen?” asked my Dad.

“Er, no.”

“Don’t be late tomorrow. We’ll complete our business, then the day after we can enjoy Christmas.”

“What’s our plan?” asked Pete.

“They will stuff the office with cash, as all the dealers will try to hit shoppers on Christmas Eve.”

“Why don’t we go after the dealers as they arrive. We know they have cash?”

“That cash will all be in one place if we wait. It makes our job easy,” said Dad.

“Yeah, but we have to go inside,” said Pete.

“We used to go into the Post Office too.”

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

“You won’t have a bad feeling when we divvy up.”

Day 8

“Good, you’re early. Got everything?” Dad asked.

Pete showed my Dad his pistol, it was a newer version of Dad’s one. They bought them from a man they know down the pub.

“Taking the money is one thing, but I don’t want to shoot anyone,” said Uncle Pete.

“It has never bothered you before.”

“What’s the matter, Pete?” asked my Mum.

She rarely got involved in men’s business.

“It’s the Indian lady,” said Pete nervously when Dad wasn’t listening.

My Mum controlled herself after her unladylike raucous laughter, “What are you on about?” she asked.

“He’s in love!” grinned Mum when Dad returned.

“Come on, let’s do it,” said Pete.

Both men checked their weapons. Hiding them as they walked towards the car.

They watched the factory doors, no one in or out for thirty minutes.

“Okay, let’s go,” said my Dad.

Scarves hid their lower faces, hoodies hid the rest.

The factory was noisy. Machines clattered as the brothers walked to the office.

“Hands up,” Pete shouted.

“You, open the safe,” said Dad.

“Sorry sir, but I can’t,” said the man with the turban.

Pete walked up close, pointing the barrel inches from his chin, “And why not?” 

The man shook his head, “I do not know the combination.”

“Yeah right, your factory, your safe,” said Pete.

“Oh no, sir, it is not mine,” he said.

The graceful lady put her hand up, “It is my business, he does not know how to open it.”

“Your business?” asked Pete. “Who is he then?”

The turban moved like a cobra striking, knocking out Pete with one punch.

As he turned towards Dad, the Browning fired, the shot hit him in the leg, collapsing; he hit the floor.

“You open it,” said Dad, panting, the gun now levelled at the lady.

She glared and was in no hurry to move. Dad shook his gun under her chin.

Still, she refused to move. He turned his shoulders, keeping his eyes fixed on the owner. He shot the man’s other leg. At last, she slowly knelt and started twisting dials.

“Come on, we haven’t got all day,” he screamed at her.

The well-oiled door opened, revealing wads of used notes.

“Put it all in this bag,” Dad thrust the sack at her.

The turban rolled slowly and silently, pulling a blade from a hidden sheaf. He lay on his back then released the short sword, throwing with tremendous power. Blood spurted from my Dad’s wrist. The gun fired.

It fired again, this time aimed. The turban soaked in blood. Dad slapped Uncle Pete awake. Grabbing the sack, they ran for the door. Factory workers rushed to witness the puddles of blood. Dad waved his pistol at them, they retreated.

The injured brothers escaped with a sack of cash. Job is done!

Day 10

“Please, guys, give mum a break. Can’t you see you’ve upset her?” I said.

“Your father shot and killed a young business owner and her bodyguard, both in cold blood and in front of dozens of witnesses. That much is clear. What we are unsure of, is why Peter Doherty killed his elder brother?” 

“My Mum has answered all your questions, now go!” I yelled.

“Sit down and shut up, unless you wish to tell us more about your family?” the younger of the two officers reddened.

“What can you tell us about the budding romance between your brother-in-law and the factory owner?” asked the police officer.

“Pete hasn’t got a lady friend, hasn’t had for years,” Mum answered.

“We checked his email account, he sent four unanswered emails to Miss Sharma. The last one sent two days ago, ‘Darling, I can’t wait until we can be together. Please answer my letters. Your loving Pete.’ All his emails were unopened. What does that mean to you?” said the senior.

“Who do you know in India?” asked the young one.

“No one, why?” answered my Mum.

“Your brother-in-law landed at Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi, this morning.”

The END

Read my full-length thrillers, Amazon.com/author/colindevonshie Or you may like Smallbone Deceased by Michael Gilbert

$3.85

Horniman, Birley and Craine is a highly respected legal firm with clients drawn from the highest in the land. When a deed box in the office is opened to reveal a corpse, the threat of scandal promises to wreak havoc on the firm’s reputation―especially as the murder looks like an inside job. The partners and staff of the firm keep a watchful and suspicious eye on their colleagues, as Inspector Hazlerigg sets out to solve the mystery of who Mr. Smallbone was―and why he had to die.

BUY HERE

Or J D Weston’s The Spider’s Web

The Spider's Web: A British Detective Crime Thriller (The Harvey Stone Crime Thriller Series Book 2) by [J.D.  Weston]
$2.99

A man’s dying daughter awaiting a transplant in hospital, and a prison sentence hanging over him, Debruin can ill-afford to waste time. He has just one chance to prove his innocence and to save his daughter – he must find the killer before it’s too late.

But, with every step he takes, he uncovers a web of blackmail, lies and murder. He can trust nobody, not even his partner. The only way forward is to enter the web.

BUY HERE

Beat Stops!

FREE short story – set in Thailand

Beat Stops!

“Your seat, sir,” the air hostess cleaned some imaginary dust from its cushion.

The passenger looked around before answering, “Thanks, I’d like to sleep, so no interruptions.”

His crumpled Daily Mail hit the floor. The headline glared up at him, ‘Guitarist – Dead’.

“I know you,” wailed a girl sliding into a seat nearby.

Mr Giles Goodly tutted and glared at the hostess. The Thai Airways lady offered an embarrassed smile.

“You’re the drummer! I know you. Why have you cut your hair?” she continued.

The once bouncy black curls now styled as a grey crewcut.

“Excuse me, young lady. Please leave him in peace,” said the hostess. “We are about to take off, sit and fasten your seat belt.”

“Your hair didn’t fool me, I recognise your tattoos,” the young girl said sitting down.

Giles Goodly, better known as Beat-Em Up, or Beat for short, the drummer for chart-topping, ‘Forsaken’, an ageing band of hell-raisers, he was wearing a blazer and Levi jeans, his long-sleeved denim shirt covered his arms, his jacket now stowed above.

“You should have worn gloves,” laughed Amy, his neighbour for the long flight to Thailand.

“Next time, I’ll take your advice,” he grinned.

“You look good without the curly bonnet,” she noted. “Pity about Pots, I loved his voice, and how odd and sad about the guitarist, what was his name?” she asked, judging Beat’s facial reaction.

“Please let me rest,” he said, reminding him of his friend did not improve his mood.

“Sure, sure, I bet you are still upset? Half a band dead!”

He closed his eyes and hoped to drift to sleep without thinking about the group’s leader, with whom he’d had a love-hate relationship with. Once more he started visualising the Ferrari, spinning and smashing into an M4 barrier. 

“What happened to Jethro?” he wondered. That was news to him.

Beat’s relationship with the fastest fingers in London had been far friendlier than with their leader. He slept fitfully the rest of the way to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Amy rushed to join him at the exit, “Where are you heading?”

“A day in the city, then down to Phuket for a party. Are you alone? You are young. I hope someone is meeting you?” he asked.

“I’m fifteen, quite old enough, thank you,” she answered, almost stamping a young foot.

“Okay, be careful. Bye, have a wonderful trip,” Beat jumped into a taxi.

“I will,” she mouthed. “It will get better.”

“Follow that one,” Amy ordered her taxi driver. She felt like James Bond as she entered the hotel. Keeping back, she tracked Beat into the reception. She scribbled a hasty note on hotel headed paper, ‘Your bass player is dead too!’

Folding the paper in four, “Please deliver this to that man’s room,” she asked the receptionist, pointing to Beat as he entered the lift.

As soon as the porter left, Beat read his note then checked Google on his phone, “Oh no. ‘Bassist found dead in his bedroom. There was no trace of foul play. Police suspect he died following an overdose. Time of death approximately forty-eight hours ago,’ Oh God, oh God,” he said fighting back tears.

He went to the room’s mini-bar and downed all the spirit collections. 

“Should I go back to London?” he asked himself, before ringing his manager.

“There’s nothing you can do. Stay there, we’ve got a new release to sell. Imagine the sympathy sales we’ll get? Do it for the band,” said the manager. 

“Take me to the airport,” Amy said as she signalled the next taxi cruising to head the rank.

Checking all the following day’s flight times, she bought a ticket for the next plane to leave for Phuket. 

It took only two phone calls to hotel receptionists to discover which place was hosting the ‘Drummer Hammer Night’, an international gathering of the world’s renowned drummers.

Pleased that she needed only one further call to find if he was staying in the same hotel.

“Has Mr Goodly told you of his dietary requirements. As his personal assistant, I need to check that he keeps to his regime,” said Amy. Her spy skills did not reveal his room number, however.

“Are you press?” asked the receptionist. She disconnected the call.

She then checked in to the hotel herself.

Excited, she whispered to herself, “Not long now.” 

After a much-needed shower, she planned the next day’s activities, before sliding back the quilt to enjoy a refreshing night’s sleep.

“Good morning, madam, you’re the first in for breakfast,” grinned a server. 

Amy sat patiently waiting for Beat to arrive. She flicked through the pages of a pop magazine, whistling to herself.

“Khun Giles, welcome, welcome to our little hostelry,” gushed the manager. “I hope you find everything to your liking. We will do everything to make your stay happy,” continued the limp man.

Amy watched them enter the nearest elevator in a bank of four. The lit number said floor seven. She jumped into the next door lift, pressing button seven, she arrived as the grinning porter exited room number seven-one-zero pocketing his hefty tip.

Downstairs, the drummers started arriving at the party just before eight o’clock; they were all seated around large circular tables with all chairs facing an enormous stage. They had positioned ten drum kits awaiting attention. Lights beamed and flickered as a spritely drummer leapt from one kit to the next as an athletic, warm-up act.

All seats occupied but one. The backing music quietened, guests turned to face the entrance doors, lights dimmed, a drum roll started, applause began, gradually increasing in volume as they saw their hero Beat, arms above his head, hands waving, he grinned at the attention given by his adoring fellow drummers. 

Young drummers took to the stage, banging out star favourite solos. Starting with, Buddy Rich, on to Ginger Baker, Phil Collins, and Ringo Starr, before ending on a twenty-minute tribute session to the late great Keith Moon, “Stars of the future, playing great oldies,” said their host as the applause rang out loudly.

“And now in a change to our published programme, a young lady, all the way from London, Miss Amy. Another big hand please,” the compere bowed out, as leather-clad Amy walked across the stage, throwing drum sticks spinning high in the air, beaming. Without looking up, she caught the sticks, one in each outstretched hand. Taking a hasty bow, she took her time adjusting her seat. She glanced around, then hammered out ‘Moby Dick’ in an exact copy of John Bonham’s 1970 Led Zeppelin performance. Silence. The stunned audience, speechless, the management unsure how to follow that. Time stalled. And then, cheers, claps and whistles rattled the ceiling for ten full minutes. With a tear in her eye, Amy ducked the congratulatory back slaps to dash out of the back door.

“That was the girl I met on the plane! Who the hell is she?” asked Beat.

Nothing but shrugs answered him.

Beat left without a word. The manager tried to get his show restarted; the guests were no longer interested; they had seen an unbeatable performance. 

“What could cap that?” he said in the mic, signalling to servers to deliver food and beverages. “Quickly, move, get the dishes out.”

“Where did the girl in leather go?” Beat asked at reception.

They pointed to the beach. Beat ran, looking both ways as he raced through the coffee shop out on to the moonlit sand.

“Stop, please stop,” he yelled at the black shadow nearing a rocky outcrop. She disappeared out of view. Beat searched, squeezing between rocks.

“There you are,” he said.

“Yes, I’m here. I’ve waited for years for you to talk to me.”

“What do you mean?” he asked. “Should I know you?”

“I am not one of the thousands of girls screaming your name. I cry in anger at the sight of you.”

“Why, I don’t understand?”

“You and your band killed my dad,” she answered, tears dropped in the sand.

Beat studied her face, struggling to see any resemblance to any man he had ever known.

“Who was your father?” he asked.

“He died because of your thoughtless behaviour? You never gave him a chance.”

“I’ve no idea what or who you are talking about?” he said.

Half sitting, half standing, leaning against a rock she bent forward and gripped her ankles, head on knees, she wept quietly.

“Oh, Dad, I miss you.”

Beat, unsure if he should hug her, and try to comfort the little lost girl. Nervously, he edged closer.

Striking, fast as a cobra, she had pulled stilettos from the cuffs of her trousers, flashing in the moonlight, the blades sliced behind his knees, slashing his hamstrings, left and right, he collapsed to his knees. Her hand clamped his mouth, halting the screams.

“Mr Drummer Man, how hard do you think it is to tamper with a sports car’s brakes? Flash git. Easy. How stealthy you have to be when adding poison to alcohol? And how difficult is it to doctor heroin for an addict? Easy, believe me. Especially when we have an alcoholic, a drug taker who likes solitude by hiding away for days on end. And now, Dear Beat, it’s your turn, the last member of Forsaken,” she smirked. “All superstar musicians who didn’t give my Dad a second thought.”

Beat’s jaw dropped as a distant memory glimmered.

“My Dad taught me to bang on drums, but he could do so much more. He was a genius with guitars, and my God was his voice sweet? Freddie Mercury learned from him. All he wanted was a chance. You laughed at him. He would have made ‘Forsaken’ the best band ever. All you had to do was listen, and you laughed at him. He died holding my hand. You will die looking at my feet!”

Amy left Beat pinned to the wet sand by the blades that slashed his throat.

She skipped along the beach, whistling the latest number one hit.

The END

You may like Ian Rankin’s A Song For The Dark Times.

Paperback $27.40

He wasn’t the best father – the job always came first – but now his daughter needs him more than ever.  But is he going as a father or a detective?
 
As he leaves at dawn to drive to the windswept coast – and a small town with big secrets – he wonders whether this might be the first time in his life where the truth is the one thing he doesn’t want to find…

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Or Catriona King’s The Dark

The Dark (The Craig Crime Series Book 24) by [Catriona King]
$6.99

When a woman dies unexpectedly at a Belfast theatre and only hours later another collapses at her office across town, the lack of obvious cause for either death confounds the region’s pathologists.

At the same time the Murder Squad offices are hacked; an inconvenience until a third woman dies and a strange connection emerges between the three women and a member of Craig’s team.

Methods of killing and gambling that the squad have never encountered before and a final victim that strikes close to home, lead to a showdown at gunpoint in the countryside and someone very unexpected saving the day.

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What Will? Who Will?

A FREE ‘dark humour’ tale, read here or listen to Anchor.fm Dark-Novels.

What Will? Who Will?

“What? Who?” Budgie asked.

“Yes, Mr Um… Budgie, it is strange, but I am only passing on instructions as requested by my client,” said Mr Paulson.

“Just call me Budgie, everyone does, no need for formality.”

“Um, no, I suppose not. Mr Kanom told me you are the man he wanted to turn his daughter into a ‘decent’ person.”

“Look boss, I don’t know why I’m here, I came because I thought you wanted me to quote on a building job.”

“My letter was quite clear, I needed to speak to you about a delicate matter,” said the aged lawyer.

“I assumed your girlfriend needed her room painted,” Budgie sneered.

The lawyer sighed, “I don’t have a girlfriend. He asked me to talk to you, and that is what I’m trying to do. Let me start again. Mr Kanom has died…”

“Oh, sorry to hear that. Who is Mr Kanom,” asked Budgie.

“It appears that Mr Kanom’s wife had some er, um, friendship with your father. Were they related at one stage?”

“What is her name? My dad was a sailor, he had many friends.”

“What was her name, you mean. She passed five years ago. Her name was Khun Wan. She owned the instant noodle business that made them wealthy,” said the lawyer.

“Wealthy? So, why am I here?”

“As I said, Mr Kanom was fearful about his daughter, her future and her somewhat wayward lifestyle. He named you as a beneficiary in his will.”

Mr Paulson now had Budgie’s full attention. The lawyer sighed and lifted the paper that had been waiting more patiently than the solicitor.

He started reading, “I Mr Superit Kanom, in full control of my mental faculties…” he read on. Budgie twitched in the leather chair.

“If it is proven that my daughter, Miss Jak Kanom, no longer uses drugs or alcohol and is in full control of her life, to Mr Paulson’s satisfaction, I bequeath my home in Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok, one-hundred million Thai Baht, all contents of said house and the three cars parked there to Mr Budgie Regar.”

“How much is one-hundred million Baht? Sounds a lot?”

“It is, somehow I guessed you would ask,” he said, shuffling through the Telegraph financial section.

“Today one UK pound is thirty-two Thai Baht,” he said, sliding the calculator towards him. As Mr Budgie was playing with his fingers.

“Three million, one hundred and twenty-five thousand pounds, said Mr Paulson.”

Budgie feinted, his head bounced on the highly polished desk.

“Jane, please come in with a glass of water and lean Mr Budgie backwards in his seat. Thank you.”

The secretary rushed in and gently slapped Budgie’s cheek as she pushed him backwards in his chair. She stared at her boss with questions in her eyes, then retreated as Mr Paulson’s weary eyes told her to leave.

“I’ll make some fresh coffee,” she offered as the door closed behind her.

Mr Paulson slid several photographs across the desk. A groggy Budgie’s fingers trembled as he looked at a Jaguar, a BMW and a sports Mercedes. Room after room filled with Asian antiques, with uniformed staff smiling in attendance.

“There is a twenty-metre pool, oh, and a well-stocked wine cellar,” said Mr Paulson.

“All mine?”

“Yes, but…”

“This is a prank,” he looked around for hidden cameras, waiting for a show host to leap out grinning.

“It is not a trick. Mr Kanom was a wealthy man, and he wants only the best for his daughter. He chose you to straighten her up,” he ran his fingers through his thinning hair, before whispering, “God only knows why?” he controlled himself, “Then, and only then can you take possession of the listed items.”

Budgie leant back, dreaming of holidays on Thai beaches, cocktail in hand.

“Do they have Singapore Sling in Thailand?” he wondered.

Eventually, he asked, “Who is the daughter and when can I meet her?”

“I thought you would never ask,” said Mr Paulson.

“Miss Jak? Hi, just to let you know, Mr Paulson and his client are ready to meet you at one. They will be in ‘The Club’ awaiting your presence,” said the secretary with a cheeky grin. 

“I thought my father was the client?” said Jak.

“Er, yes, technically,” Jane answered.

“Don’t worry, I’m only messing around. I’ll go as soon as they finish my nails.”

The Club, established in 1887, was busy. All diners wore suits, except Mr Budgie. The grandeur hushed the conversations. Servers wore tail-coats as did the bar staff.

“Yes, sir, are you ready to order?” said one of the long tails.

“We are awaiting a lady, we will order then. A small sherry for me, and my guest will…”

“A beer for me, mate, do you have Carlsberg?”

Budgie leaned back and grinned at those who tried to hide their gaze. Mr Paulson attempted small talk and failed badly. Budgie wasn’t listening, he was too busy dreaming.

A minor disturbance broke through the muted chatter. 

“That must be them,” a stylish Asian lady pointed a newly varnished nail at a central table. She marched in, leaving the Maitre De struggling to keep up.

“Hi guys, I’m Jak.”

Mr Paulson stood and delicately touched her hand. Budgie smiled but remained seated.

“Vodka for me,” she waved at an open-mouthed server. Sitting at the proffered chair. Mouse-like Paulson returned to his place.

The dishes were delicious; eating stunted the talk. Budgie was lost for words, Paulson uncomfortable hearing a young woman swearing. It all bored Jak.

“I’ve gone through Mr Kanom’s wishes, I trust it was all clear? May I suggest that you both exchange contact details? The quicker you can prove… follow your father’s wishes, the quicker I can ensure we tick each item. Good afternoon, I have other work that needs my attention.”

“Hang on, who’s paying for all this?” asked Budgie, grabbing Mr Paulson’s jacket.

Jak covered a snigger.

“I have an account here, no money needs to change hands,” said Paulson, stalking out.

“I didn’t know, did I?” said Budgie.

“Come on, let’s get ourselves a proper drink,” suggested Jak.

Hailing a cab, “Take us to Xteme please,” said Jak.

“Xtreme? What’s that?” asked Budgie.

A monster of a man with Maori facial tattoos opened the undecorated door.

“Is he coming in?” he said, nodding at Budgie.

“He’s my guest. Do not question me like that again.”

“Sorry mam,” he answered quietly.

The club didn’t open until ten pm, but the staff had to prepare, some days their boss would turn up early.

Beaming greetings to her staff on the way to a private office above the empty dance floor. Mouse-like Budgie followed speechlessly.

“Sit,” she ordered, pointing to a low leather chair.

Looking around nervously, Budgie did as he was told.

“I assume you expect to collect on my father’s will?”

“Um I, I..”

“I’ll take that as a yes. We will both collect if you follow my instructions, okay?” she breathed, crossing her legs, tight buttocks perched on the corner of her mahogany desk. Her guest did not realise her red-soled shoes cost more than he earns in a week.

Budgie looked at the lack of plaster on the bare brickwork boasting brass designs between modern oil paintings showing off a huge drinks cabinet.

“On my say so, you will mail a letter to Mr Paulson, saying that I joined AA and that you never saw me with white powder on my nose, etc, etc. In fact, please forget that I’ll write it myself, you just sign it,” Jak looked at him considering if he could read or write.

“Will he believe me?” asked Budgie. 

“He will.”

“Jane, could you bring my schedule in?” called a more relaxed Mr Paulson.

The secretary had a paper in one hand, something tangled the other in her wavy hair.

“Sorry, sir, could you help me, I’ve got my hair caught in my earring?”

Paulson grunted, unsure about how to approach this problem.

“You seem to have…” he started.

The top two buttons on her blouse popped open.

“Oh my goodness,” she fiddled, another came unclasped.

Jane pulled Paulson’s head between her breasts as she pulled her phone from her skirt. The mobile’s camera took its shots soundlessly.

“Come to my nightclub, I’ve some news you will be happy to hear,” said Jak to her mobile.

Budgie took less than twenty-minutes to change his jeans and search for a clean shirt.

“These are the keys to my little Merc, they park it in my Bangkok driveway.”

She slid an envelope across the desk, “First-class air ticket on tomorrow’s flight. Have fun.”

“You mean, Paulson agreed?” asked Budgie.

“Naturally, enjoy Bangkok,” she waved him off.

“Sir, are you okay?” the pretty air-hostess asked.

“I’m fine, maybe too much free champagne?” he stammered.

They whizzed him through passport control and into a waiting taxi.

“Ah, Khun Budgie, welcome to your Bangkok residence. I’m your butler, here to serve. Please let me take your bags. Which bedroom would you like?”

“I’ve got a choice?”

“Why, of course, the um… highly decorated one is Khun Jak’s, her mother and father had the biggest, as they no longer need them, may I suggest one of those?”

“Let’s have a look?”

“Follow me, I will hang your clothes. Dinner at seven? Would that suit?”

“Sure. I want to take the Merc for a runaround. I’ve never had a car like that.”

“Can I suggest later, the jams are worse at this time of day,” said the butler.

“Never mind, I can’t wait to give it a run.”

Budgie searched his pocket for the key.

The engine hadn’t run for a while, but it burst into action. Budgie felt at home in the bucket seats. He deserved it. He roared down the driveway, only to inch into Sukhumvit Road’s famous jammed traffic. He crawled two-hundred yards before a police officer jumped in front, his hand demanding he stops.

“This is a bus lane,” he shouted in Thai.

“What?”

“Let me see your license?”

“What?”

Often the pro-offered license discretely holds a five-hundred Baht note. The problem disappears. But Budgie was a ‘newbie’ on matters of graft.

The car impressed the police officer, “Nice motor,” he was expecting payment. When Budgie sat staring at him, the officer spoke on his radio.

A more senior man joined them, “Ni alay?” pointing at Budgies’ holdall containing his paperwork. 

“Oh, this? It’s my passport,” Budgie guessed, as they led him to a waiting vehicle.

“In,” he used the one English word the officer knew.

An hour waiting for processing, “What a joke, I can pay any fine they hit me with,” Budgie grinned.

“Sir, we have found class A drugs in your holdall.”

Budgie hadn’t learnt that they gave the death penalty for serious drugs offences. He never used drugs, beer was his vice.

“No way, they are not mine,” he shouted as the cell door slammed.

“I have a welcoming gift for you Jane,” Jak tossed the keys to the sports car to her.

“I’ve been waiting so long for this moment,” gushed Jane as the girls hugged.

The Thai girl led her wife upstairs to her father’s computer room.

Jak typed in the password, a part of her father’s bequeathment. A video film clicked into life.

“My darling daughter,” he said smiling, “I knew you’d gain control of the family’s wealth. Even if I made to work for it. I just wanted you to prove you could. To win the password, you had to be exceptionally clever, you did it. Now you are in control of everything your mother and I owned. The big prize? Well, the shares in the noodle company. Congratulations, and good luck running the business. One last thing, whatever you do, don’t marry that idiot Budgie,” he said grinning. She had never seen him so happy as she clicked the off button.

A tear slid down her cheek as the girls cuddled.

The END

You may like Carl Hiaasen’s Squeeze.

$11.24

When a prominent high-society dowager suddenly vanishes during a swank gala, and is later found dead in a concrete grave, panic and chaos erupt.

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Or Drive Your Plow Over The Bones of The Dead, by Olga Karczuk.

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead: A Novel by [Olga Tokarczuk, Antonia Lloyd-Jones]
$1.99

A neighbour, Big Foot, turns up dead. Soon other bodies are discovered, in increasingly strange circumstances. As suspicions mount, Janina inserts herself into the investigation, certain that she knows whodunit. If only anyone would pay her mind . . .

ANOTHER FUNNY THRILLER

Art of the Arcane at it Again!

Searching for your next favorite story?

Look no further! These bestselling authors have teamed up to offer a delightful selection of new books. Available for a limited time.

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Some evil is hard to erase…

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READ THE EXCITING OPENING CHAPTERS TO CHALK MAN, THE 8TH BOOK IN THE MILLIONTH SERIES!

When ten-year-old Charlie Hensen is reported missing in East Los Angeles, Detective Evan Parker begins a search that swiftly turns into a full-blown abduction case.   

Assisted by his dead partner, Detective Napoleon Villa, Parker follows the evidence until the trail runs cold. But mysterious chalk drawings begin to turn up in unexpected places with ominous warnings, and it becomes apparent to Parker that there are forces at work in the case that are not of this world.

As Parker and Napoleon push forward to do everything they can to solve the case, they soon realize that the question isn’t who has taken Charlie Hensen but what has taken him.

The answer will lead them over one thousand years into the past, to a creature who drew his sins and committed a crime so heinous that not even time could bury it.

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SIGN ME UP

In cosmopolitan Zagreb, Croatia’s Europe-centric capital, deep feelings of resentment and betrayal linger years after the bitter Balkan war. Tihana wants to live quietly, but within hours of a chance encounter finds herself on a dangerous path with no way out. British agent Rose Clarke should have everything under control, but events slip from her grasp with horrific consequences.

A dark, atmospheric story of oppression, mistrust and control.

A prequel of 8,500 words featuring Rose Clarke from the Clarke and Fairchild series of international spy thrillers.

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A drug lord fathers his lesbian niece’s child, but not in the usual way!

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Two Englishmen have dreams of setting up a business in the sun, but trouble follows them.

Their first brush with death came at Bangkok’s airport on Nick’s first day in the Kingdom.

Action, laughs, romance and tears follow as the story moves at a breathtaking pace. 

Violence and tender moments collide as the gullible pair meet a dodgy ship’s engineer, two lovely French girls more interested in dogs than romance, and a tall Welsh man, with a very chequered drug background who leads them all into more trouble. The last person they need to encounter is a lesbian newspaper reporter with a deadly family secret. 

The tale unfolds into an action-packed finale.

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Prequel to the Award Winning, Citizen Warrior – The 4th Branch… Now Being Developed for a Feature Film

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Would you break the law to protect the people and country you love?
Lessons learned by a young Carter Thompson growing up in post-World War II America teach him when to take a stand. 
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Detective Shelby Griffin is sworn to serve and protect the city of Los Angeles. That doesn’t mean that she has to like it.

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Actually, Shelby hates LA, and she can’t wait to get out of here and return to her hometown in Rhode Island. For now, though, she needs this job, and she works the streets every day with her partner Trevor Morris. There’s no shortage of cases, either. Shelby’s neighborhood is on the very brink of an all-out gang war, and it’ll take just one spark to light the tinder-dry atmosphere. That spark comes in the form of a dead gangster who might just prove to be the catalyst for a gang war that could kill hundreds and cause devastating collateral damage. Or does it?

When Shelby discovers that the murder is not what it seems, she’s determined to find the real killer, but a kidnapping turns the whole case on its head. The murder Shelby is investigating has led to a terrible choice. Either way, people die. And if she doesn’t find the killer and stop him, those people could include Morris. The vigilante roaming the streets makes life even more complicated for LA’s most reluctant detective as she fights back in this fast-paced first installment of a five-book series.

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The Devil is in the details, they said. 
A man driven by methodical madness, sitting out on his front lawn, chanting and singing the songs of old taught to him by shamans and witch doctors throughout the land. Each song inspiring the demon that lived inside him to awaken, to beckon him and end the suffering of those in need. 
In his mind, deluded chaos struck without contempt. He clung to a self-righteousness unknown to any. A proverbial goodwill that extended beyond life, beyond death, and whispered the virtues of a better tomorrow, while today he committed sins most foul. 
But when even he had no understanding of his unique state, his broken and deranged mentality, there were no measures to ensure the safety of others.

How can this burden be lifted?

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The Universe is a Tough Place

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In the future, as humanity spreads throughout the galaxy, the ideals of justice for all, integrity, and honesty are nothing more than outdated concepts to many who have benefited as members of the wealthy, elitist ruling class.

To the incorruptible lawman, Thomas Sullivan, these ideals are all he has left to cling to. Betrayed by those he respected and admired, the very institutions he served, Sullivan has paid a heavy price. The loss of his mentor, friend, and woman he loved are just the beginning.

In a shadowy future, where the dark ideals of greed, lust for power, and a sense of entitlement govern the choices of many, there are those who still stand for justice. Men like Thomas Sullivan.

With little more than a job he loves, Sullivan struggles to find his way in a universe that increasingly seems to have no place for him. Damaged by the events of his life and in conflict with himself, Thomas Sullivan is The Fractured Man.

Fans of classic crime noir stories and science fiction will love the cross-genre novella The Fractured Man. Mostly human and part cyborg, Thomas Sullivan is a classic noir lawman, tortured by his past and faced with an uncertain future. Betrayal, corruption, and murder await his every turn.

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Every beginning has a story. 

Every ending starts with a decision.

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This is Max before he was Max.

This is Max at the very beginning. Before he was on the run. Before he lost everything. Before he wanted revenge. This is Max when he was just a young man growing up in Boston as Michael Sullivan. His sister is sick. His brother is a screw up. His mom drinks too much. It’s an ordinary life. Most of the time.

But not all the time. Michael Sullivan has a secret and some special skills. It’s those skills that bring him to the attention of Carter, a dangerous man in the Boston underworld with even more dangerous ambitions. Carter has a proposal for the young thief. But Michael has his own plans.

Maybe they can help each other? But at what price?

Packed with lightning-paced action and twisting suspense, read the prequel novella to the Max Strong thriller series.

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ADA Alastair Maddox is at the top his game in Prohibition Chicago where mobs paint the town red with blood. Despite being beaten, shot, and almost killed by the mob, Alastair continues his war on the city’s criminal underworld.

But when his former police chief comes in asking Alastair’s help with what he call a “bizarre case,” Alastair can’t help but be interested.

The woman in the red dress sitting in the interrogation room is beyond beautiful. Confronting her feels like standing in the presence of a predator.

Alastair soon stares down the face of death, but he soon learns, death isn’t as permanent as he’s been led to believe.

Obsession. Lust. Murder. A dark thirst.

It all awaits in the lawless streets of Vampire Chicago.

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Don’t be SILENCED.

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This book is dedicated to all of you that are currently surviving that deafening family SILENCE.

…an inspired-by-true-events tale of Jesse a young boy growing up in Georgia’s rural Blue Ridge Mountains and burdened with

the “family secret”.

Jesse is pressured to keep the secret through intimidation, threats and violence but ultimately it’s the SILENCE that proves his most difficult adversary. Jesse begins his journey on his family’s farm during WW2 and winds his way through the bluffs, backroads and hollows of that nostalgic time searching for answers to questions he doesn’t know how to ask. All the while… wondering…doubting…seeking….

Jesse learns numerous lessons along the road a few the-easy-way but most the-hard-way. He encounters many friends

(Chameleons) but only few foes (Owls). It’s not until many years later he begins to learn that his youthful certainty was merely his inability to distinguish the Chameleons (foes) from the Owls (friends).

Join Jesse as he struggles to comprehend his FAMILY’S WAY while attempting to obtain (Owlness) or answers to his family’s secrets as he comes of age in this tragic tale of SILENCE.

     Find out how Jesse, an Owl at heart, becomes a Canary instead but for the SILENCE.

     Don’t be like Jesse.

     He can only wish that he’d spoken up…

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Is the evil lurking in Sunshine House human or something much worse?

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Once an exclusive Hollywood hotel catering to the likes of Rudolf Valentino and other great stars of the Silent Film Era, the Bockerman Hotel now is the Sunshine House, an assisted living home for seniors.   

And its residents are dying…in droves.

Sara Caine, paranormal investigator, couldn’t believe she got an invitation to hunt for ghosts in the most haunted building in all of Los Angeles, The Sunshine House. Her excitement turns to horror as the mysteries of Sunshine House reveal themselves to be more terrifying then she could have ever imagined.  

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Psychiatrist Grant Garrick had it all: a thriving therapy practice, a bright, loving, and beautiful wife, a 15 year-old son filled with potential, and a gorgeous home on acreage overlooking the Puget Sound. Life couldn’t get much better.

Then tragedy struck.

Read the novella, Book 1, the prequel to the Psychiatrist Grant Garrick suspense-thriller series.

Learn why he defies danger and adventures beyond the boundaries of his profession to help solve his patients’ problems.

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Sometimes the events of the past cast a wide arc over the present

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Nancy wants to be just like her mom, Sheriff Drew. Regardless of the ribbing she has taken about her name since she was five, Nancy can’t help herself from wanting to delve into her mom’s cases; particularly a serial killer that has victims that fit Nancy’s description. Will Nancy be as good as her mom? Or will the killer win?

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Ghost Stories – Anthology – Horror

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I hope you’re comfortable all snuggled up in the apparent comfort of your own home. Perhaps you are enjoying a crackling fire, a hot cup of cocoa, or maybe you’re wrapped in a warm blanket.

Have you ever felt like you are being watched, only to turn and find no one there? Do you ever hear whispers and dismiss them as the wind? Footsteps in an otherwise empty house? The trail of fingers on your arm that sends shivers down your spine?

All of those feelings are real. We are there, with you.

We are called by many names; spirit, shade, banshee or phantom. Regardless, there is one thing we have in common – we have died and are bound to your plane, trapped between lives.

So, keep a light on while you read the stories of our mortal lives and what happened to our souls. Remember that wherever these pages find you, you are not alone, and not all of us play nice with others.

~ One of many

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“The fear he has created lingers, and it will do so for some time.”

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The once peaceful town of Little Green has been rocked by a series of murders. Three residents of the town have been killed, and the killer always chooses the 13th day of the month to commit his foul crimes. Soon after, another body is inevitably found. As the next 13th day approaches and the town braces itself for another death, residents are fearful. They ask: “who is the killer?” and “will I be next?”

For the residents of Little Green, the killings are both horrific and captivating. They spread their theories across social media, invoking everything from government conspiracies to urban legends. But 18 year old Shelley Matheson is certain those theories are wrong. No one believes Shelley, so she must search for evidence to support her theory; a search which will put her firmly in the frame as the killer’s next potential victim.

From international bestselling Crime Fiction and Murder Mystery author Laura Greene comes The 13th Day, a thrilling small town mystery that will keep you at the edge of your seat from start to finish.

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Disaster All Starts With HIM…

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The full book returns to Amazon January 2021. 

You know where it is, don’t you?….Oh my God, you do.”

Some secrets are better left with the dead. Especially the one Will knows.

William Heaton is a man of many secrets and a hellish past. A new life and a new name are not enough to stop a series of events that unfold after a mass shooting. Events directly linked to that secret.

How will he choose and what will he have to risk for those choices? Find out in this new romantic suspense that will keep you wanting to find out what happens next.

Find out in this new page turning suspense by author Lauren Schultz.

“The Last Consort was a fantastic read, as the author had me biting my nails from the first page right down to the last. The mystery in the book was so gripping that it had me desperately turning the pages to find out more. Furthermore, I must commend the author on her exquisite writing and her excellent use of dialogue. Indeed, some parts of the book felt as though I were in a movie, the writing so vivid and real.”

The Last Consort: Escape is a romantic and suspenseful work that details the story of a man with a complicated past who must prevent the wrong information from getting into the wrong hands. This book is highly entertaining and has very well developed characters. It was also extremely suspenseful and I didn’t want to put it down once I started. If you want an entertaining read, then I highly recommend The Last Consort: Escape

Download your preview copy of the first book of an engaging, page turning new series that will keep you wanting to find out what happens next! 

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Hero worship is not just for the masses…

Sister Jacobine has a secret. An incredible gift from God. It is also an incredible curse.

Sister Jacobine is also the Pope’s hitwoman. When Bishop McGinty gets out of hand with the altar boys, Sister Jacobine is sent to Philadelphia to deliver “greetings” from His Holiness.

In Philadelphia, she meets Rachel Rafferty and her world is turned upside-down. Now, her only possible confidante is Rachel’s brother, the Philadelphia Police Detective that has arrested her for murder.


A Nun With A Gun is a series of short stories and novelettes about Sister Jacobine, the Pope’s hitwoman. They are best read in order.

1.0 Feet of Clay
2.0 A Port in the Storm
3.0 Excommunication
4.0 Requiem Mass
5.0 Den of Lions
6.0 The Narrow Gate

Thriller Short Story

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A paranormal suspense novel

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A reluctant psychic.

A family secret.

A ghost who demands to be heard.


Cheryl reads tarot cards at the Starlight Cafe. When a regular customer asks her to help him get rid of the ghosts terrorizing his home, she takes the job.

Pulled into a web of family secrets and revenge, Cheryl must find out the truth to put the spirits to rest. Little does she know that helping them will complicate her own life in ways she could never imagine.

Follow Cheryl down a winding road of hauntings and paranormal events that change the course of her life.

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Chasing An Elusive Dream…Setting Up an Impossibly Far-Reaching Adventure.

Not Available for Purchase Anywhere!

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Blaine – A CEO searching for an elusive dream, bringing in a talented team, sets the wheels in motion for an impossible, far-reaching adventure.

 Amy – An MI6 agent assigned to a mission wrapped in so much secrecy she doesn’t even know what or who the target is, but is confronted with a life-changing decision.

 Elliot – A brainiac researcher, who once believed that his PhD would lay the world at his feet, is learning about the reality of the frustratingly slow-moving wheels of university grant approvals and funding. Hungry to prove his controversial theories, he stumbles into an incredibly unreal opportunity that might give him exactly what he needs.

Find out how their fates become intertwined in this prequel to ‘The Paradox Journals,’  A Best Selling Time Travel Series.

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He’s almost ready for Black Friday. Are you?

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The Merchandiser by Chad Schimke – When holiday decorations become an obsession, a merchandiser gives in to his longings. He’s at a loss yet second best will have to do, so he makes the most of it. Fear meets perfection in this chilling tale, set against a backdrop of stark film noir. Peek through the window frame, into the darkened department store, while a jingle rings out Merry Christmas… Read ‘The Merchandiser’ today!

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Let the Game Begin!

In a race to find the perpetrators of financial terrorism, the US sends its distinguished operative into a world that is not what it seems. From the strings that control the Presidency to the Cabal that controls the money, everything is hazy. The men in charge of espionage are also some of the most brutal killers, taking pleasure in the work they do. Some do it for flag and country, and others kill for personal pleasure.

In a race to save the sovereignty of the largest economy in the world, watch as the agents go about extracting information while playing a game of cat and mouse. The prize is not always about money, and it’s not always about power. It’s about both. The point where money and power collide is in the modern American Presidency.

The real mastermind stands back and watches as the rest of the world stumbles and falls at the whim of the master. This is such a story, where the clues to the game are found in every word and chapter. Will the truth eventually be revealed and the true mastermind uncovered? Espionage is a game of knowledge. It is the power the world is built on. Knowledge is the real of intelligence and intelligence is the trade of spies. It is evident as the players, the Thirteen, the Omnis, and the Szindikatus come together and set the world ablaze.

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A Small Town Crime Thriller

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Detective Johnson is a veteran on the police force. Loyal, smart and always gets his man. He and his partner, Detective Sally, were stumped when a man arrived at the lone police station of his small town. That man wanted to confess to the murders of nine local women.

After an initial investigation, Detectives Johnson and Sally find that all nine of those women are indeed very much alive, but, each had a strange interaction with the would be serial killer. That interaction alone was enough to put the confessor in prison for life. Detective Johnson knew there was more to the story, especially since the confessor still claim that those women are already dead.

Only Detective Johnson and Sally can find out what more there is to this case… But will they survive what they find?


Dying to Confess is a Novella length book that will be included with a 3 novella anthology thriller book to be released in 2021

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A missing person? A tormented sister. A deadly quest.

In this page-turning short story from bestselling author Nadia Siddiqui, aspiring cop Tori Whitfield deals with the aftermath of her missing sister. Cast into sudden darkness, Tori begins to suspect that someone close to her is involved and tries to set a trap before leaving for the police academy.

It isn’t long before the darkness she had escaped from in her hometown finds her. Tori is forced to rush out into a dark snowy night and race back to her hometown in order to save two innocent lives but is quickly greeted by the horrible truth.

Will Tori survive her nightmare or will she fall victim to the hideous truth that is determined to destroy her?

From bestselling author Nadia Siddiqui comes Preyed Upon, part of Dark Corner collection, a thrilling collection of short stories about a world full of crime committed by those who are good and bad. Follow each character’s journey in each story, which can be read or listened to in a single sitting.

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Action that hits like a roundhouse kick to the head!

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Trafficked by psychotic and abusive foster parents. Jessica escapes and vows to take revenge.

On The Run: With no money and no skills except the ones she’s aquired the hard way, she fights off enforcers and thugs while transforming herself from victim to avenger.

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Moonlight is hired to investigate the brutal murder of his lover. But he has blood on his hands. Her blood…

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THE THRILLER AND SHAMUS AWARD WINNING SERIES!

In MOONLIGHT FALLS, NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Vincent Zandri asks the question “If you knew your life could end at any moment, how far would you go to prove you murdered your lover? ” Albany, New York, is the dark setting of this paranoid thriller (in the Hitchcock tradition) about Richard “Dick” Moonlight, former APD detective turned private investigator, who believes he killed Scarlet Montana – his illicit lover and wife of his ex-boss, Chief of Detectives Jake Montana. Problem is, despite the blood on his hands, Moonlight doesn’t remember what happened.

From New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Vincent Zandri, comes the first in the Thriller and Shamus Award Winning series. For fans of bestselling hard-boiled mystery and suspense writers like Robert B. Parker, Michael Connelly, Lawrence Block, Don Winslow, and Charlie Huston.

The Number 1 Bestselling Series in Hard-Boiled Kindle
The Number 1 Bestselling Series in Private Investigators

“Sensational…Masterful…Brilliant.” —New York Post

“The action never wanes.” —Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinal

“Gritty, fast-paced, lyrical and haunting.” —Harlan Coben, bestselling author of Six Years

“Tough, stylish, heartbreaking.” —Don Winslow, bestselling author of Savages

“Non-stop action.” —I Love a Mystery

“Vincent Zandri nails reader’s attention.” —Boston Herald

“(Zandri) demonstrates an uncanny knack for exposition, introducing new characters and narrative possibilities with the confidence of an old pro…Zandri does a superb job interlocking puzzle pieces.” —The San Diego Union-Tribune

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A friend. A dangerous situation. A choice between life and death. What would you do to survive?

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On the surface, Jessica is your all-American woman—blonde, young, and pretty—but there’s something off in her subconscious, something that draws her to horror movies and true crime. Living with a mix of social anxiety and agoraphobia makes maneuvering the world outside of her mother’s apartment tough, but her job at the local grocery store is something she can manage.

That is, until she gets swept up in the crossfire of an active shooter. In order to survive, Jess must tap into the growing darkness inside of her and cross a line there’s no coming back from, committing her first murder. The experience teaches her one important lesson: murders are like potato chips. You can never have just one.

Warning: Contains scenes of violence that might be triggering to some

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An unpaid debt and a tanning pit of trouble

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Amid the backwaters of 18th century Essex, an outlaw is tasked with collecting an overdue debt. But tanneries can hold secrets far worse than they smell.

Samuel Shanklin has been putting fear in folk since the moment he learned that fear could put food on the table. When a current employer wants his unpaid rent collected from a recluse tenant, living a long ride from the stench of London, Shanklin and his sidekick seize the opportunity for some clean country air. But the air ain’t so fresh where leather’s being made, and the pair soon find themselves tasting a little of their own foul medicine.

Supply And Demand … twisted historical fiction at its finest.

Pick up this novelette now to unlock a dark secret best kept concealed.

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It’s never too late for love or suspense.

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The entire Stone family is home in Flint River for Christmas the first time in over ten years. Mary Stone couldn’t be happier. The holiday season brings her a new love as well, in the form of Elijah Jefferson.

Everything is as it should be until a young woman goes missing and there is a robbery at the Gem Emporium. Mary never imagined the events that took place over of the next several days, nor did she know how necessary her particular brand of wisdom would be.

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It’s 1987. Hair is big. Everything glimmers. A park ranger makes a gruesome discovery in Waterton National Park—the roots of an endangered plant plunging deep into the torso of an atomic tangerine corpse. Fresh off the first serial killer case to grasp his home town, Detective Mahoney is hurled into a series of murder scenes featuring human-plant creations. The corpses stack up. The similarities are undeniable. Mahoney attempts to blur the images of herbaceous-human concoctions crawling into the crevices of his mind with shots of bourbon at a glam rock bar in a dead-beat prairie town. Equipped with a firecracker criminal profiler and a meticulous medical examiner, Mahoney blends physical and behavioural science into his investigation. Does following his gut pay off, or does the garden of a horticultural madman with a passion for parasitic plants continue to flourish?

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They were born as enemies but bonded as mates. This is a Paranormal – Shifter Romance like no other!

As far as Crystal Knew, she was just a normal girl. Sure, there were some instances where she wondered if she were something more than human, but what more could she be other than a foster kid from Nevada? There’s no such things as vampires and witches…right?

After abruptly leaving home to study Zoology in California, Crystal runs into Alveya Tera, a beautiful, and, yet, dangerous member of the mysterious Josbryn family. After recovering from an almost fatal car accident she soon learns that there are definitely more than just animals and humans in the world. She also learns that the beast her mother died protecting her from wasn’t just a part of her imagination.

Neither was her unusual appetite for meat.

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Lock your doors. Bolt your windows.

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MANIAC ON THE LOOSE

An exceptionally dangerous patient has escaped from the local psychiatric hospital. 

Fearing that he’ll lose his job if word gets out, the head of the hospital, Dr. Franklin Grimm, secretly sends his mysterious head of security on a mission to apprehend the deranged psycho before anyone can gain knowledge of the escape. 

Meanwhile, a small town is clueless that an infamous serial killer now walks among them, seeking his next victim. 

Will Dr. Grimm’s devious plan work or will blood be on his hands as a slaughter ensues? 

Terrifying, eerie and incredibly unpredictable, Maniac on the Loose will keep you up all night gripping the blankets in suspense! 

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The serial killer been out for nearly 10 years killing kids and the police department does not know… Who will save the many lives?

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The book was written in continuity of book “THE STRANGE WATCHER”

Lynn Adams’ husband has spent almost 10 years in prison for the murder of their only child, Tasha. Lynn became a cop after her husband’s conviction and had to solve a similar case like her family’s. A father was on the run for the murder of his son and she must arrest him and bring him before the law. Lynn doesn’t believe the father is responsible for the son’s death but can’t prove it. As she continued on the case, she soon realized there was more to the story that had her husband in jail. The city of Houston has a serial killer on the loose; he’s been out for nearly 10 years killing and the police department does not know. The case is bigger than they know. One mistake and thousands of inmates will be bombed. She must fight the painful memories accompanying the case if she must solve and save thousands of inmates and bring one of the city’s longest serial killers to book 

There’s only one person that can help her prove her right to uncover the truth and save the many lives all caught up in one case; the Watcher.

Would Lynn be willing to work with a vigilante as a cop?  

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A lab experiment gone wrong creates a virus that can change the world as we know it…

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Follow Sally as she investigates dark activities happening in Absolute System`s labs and how one night visit changed her life and life of many more. When people try to put evolution into their hands, it can cost them more than they have ever imagined…

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Katie Boles finds her life turned upside when she finds a dead body on her driveway. The mysterious death is reminiscent of the work of a serial killer who terrorized Katie’s hometown five years ago. The police arrested Katie’s brother for the murders, but the trial and her brother’s behavior left her with plenty of questions.

After a second killing nearby, Katie is afraid that the Shock Killer, the man who had forced her into hiding, was back to involve her in a second round of murders. Even more frightening is the fact that Katie might have to come face-to-face with her brother and learn the truth of the murders.

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Exploring the ocean is scary. It’s much worse when something is stalking you down there.

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Being in a plane crash is traumatic, but what if you survived the fall only to find yourself in an unfamiliar forest, with something stalking you and your fellow survivors?
What if you moved to a new apartment that had a locked storage door, but every night when the door opens on its own, you see that doesn’t lead into a storage at all?
What would you do if you applied to work as a night guard, but upon arrival to your new job, you see a list of irrational and strange rules to follow?
Or if you got an emergency alert on your phone, but the more you listened to the sounds outside, you realized that this was no weather warning?

Immerse yourself in ten award-winning Nosleep stories which are guaranteed to keep you at the edge of your seat with their unpredictable twists and compelling storytelling.

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One woman’s journey from oblivion to recovery

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A troubled relationship, a damaged past and a bottle of wine mixed together make a volatile cocktail for Sophie.

Her journal documents the destructive descent into the grips of alcohol addiction. Full of suspense, as life takes its toll. Is she too trusting? Can she save her friend in time?

Sophie Brown likes to work hard and play hard. Trapped in a relationship she can’t escape from, alcohol becomes her only companion. Unable to accept she has a problem, she becomes increasingly dependent on booze. Full of remorse and afraid of her own behaviour, Sophie finally agrees to accept help and enters rehab, where the road to recovery begins. Hoping for a safe haven, not everyone is as they seem. Then one of her friends disappears, and Sophie is up against time to find and save her.
Sometimes harrowing, sometimes poignant, this funny yet sad novel shows you a real glimpse into what happens when the life of a promising, talented young woman spirals out of control. 

The whole collection for only $0.99

APPLE

AMAZON

In most stores from January 21st

The Sour Cake Murder

A cozy killing by Colin Devonshire, read here http://www.dark-novels.com or listen at Anchor.fm

“I suppose you expect to win the Christmas cake competition again this year?” asked Patty, the radio news reporter.

“I don’t like to brag, but, well, you know. I am the best baker in the village, so, I guess I’ll win… Again,” answered a grinning Gino.

The listeners did not notice the raised eyebrows of Patty and Steve, her sound engineer.

“It is well-known you always add something ‘extra’ to your recipes? Can you tell our listeners, what the secret is?”

“I could, but then it wouldn’t be a secret. Stupid girl,” said Gino, his grin turned to a sneer.

“We’ve heard Patricia Puffs Cake Shop fancy their chances,” said Patty.

“Interesting, is Patricia any relation of yours?”

“In the fairness of accurate reporting, I am proud to call the owner of Patricia Puffs, my auntie Pat.”

“Not surprising that you give her a free advert. I pay for adverts on this station weekly.”

“We’ll take a brief break with the Christmas number one, take it away Liverpool Lads.”

Patty clicked her mic off.

“No need for that, Gino. I’m trying to give a newsworthy report.”

“You may struggle to hold on to your job, but I am aiming at keeping my name as the top baker for miles.”

Patty pulled at her engineer’s sleeve, “Okay, get on with it.”

“We are standing outside Gino’s bakery shop, Gino is handing out leaflets to passers-by. Gino, excuse me, is there anything further you’d like to say?”

There was a lot he wanted to say. Steve, the engineer, waited for thirty-seconds before he turned on the adverts. Gino rattled on.

Patty and Steve then packed their equipment. Deciding they needed a coffee, they wandered into Patricia Puffs Coffee and Cake Shop.

“Patty, darling, come in and sit down. Hi Steve,” auntie Pat gushed. Brushing flour from her apron, she handed them menus.

“Two caffè Americanos please aunt,” said Patty.

A pretty six-year-old skipped in carrying two plates.

“Careful Jen, you will fall. Why no school today?” Patty asked.

“She’s been under the weather, and with the Christmas holidays next week, I thought it better if she stayed home. Plus, she is a great help to me.”

Gino was peering through the window, spotting Patty, he burst in.

“What was that all about?” screamed Gino.

“What do you mean?” asked Patty.

“You cut me off mid-interview. I’ve cancelled all my ads with your tin-pot radio,” he said as he stormed out.

“What a rude man,” said aunt Pat. 

Steve chuckled behind a napkin.

“I don’t know why you are laughing, we could both lose our jobs,” said Patty.

“Well, what happened?” asked aunt Pat.

“I cut him short, I thought people would rather hear adverts than him waffle on about how great he is,” said Steve.

They all laughed as Patty’s mobile rang.

“The boss wants us in his office now,” Patty said.

Jen cleared away and cleaned the table.

Gino was busy in his kitchen, he checked the back door was locked, looked in his large walk-in cupboard to make sure no staff was malingering in there, the last check proved no one was watching before he pulled a large glass jar from the back of a shelf hidden by fridges and freezers. He then carefully placed it next to the ingredients of his extremely popular Xmas chocolate cake and rubbed his hands.

“Ding dong merrily on high…” 

“Oh no, not bloody carol singers,” he cursed, slamming down a heavy spoon.

Pulling out his wallet, he thought again, then searched his pockets for change, deciding on some coins. He opened the front door.

“Here, now clear off, I’m busy.”

He slotted a few pound coins into their box.

Turning, he dropped his cash and swore in Italian as he heard glass shattering from the back.

“Mamma Mia!” he screamed.

Treading on the broken glass he fell wailing, “Where has it gone,” quickly looking under the table. “Where is it!” he screamed.

He collapsed to his knees, ignoring the pain of shards of window cutting through his trouser cloth.

“Police, and quickly, I’ve been viciously robbed, and yes, I’m bleeding,” he answered the telephonist.

Gino searched the kitchen for his prized jar as the police arrived.

“Come through,” he showed them the way.

“You reported a theft with violence, they injured you, you said you were bleeding?”

“Yes, look,” he lifted his trouser leg.

“Ripped clothing does not count, sir,” said the younger officer.

“We can see they broke the door, what did they take?” said the other officer.

“I’ve lost something very important to me,” said Gino.

“What exactly?” asked the impatient young police officer.

“Uh,” answered Gino, deep in thought.

“Well? Have they taken anything? You called in an emergency and reported injuries and grand theft.”

“I admit, I caused the cuts, I was looking for something on the floor,” said Gino.

“Are you now telling us, that there was no violence and you don’t know if anything was stolen?”

“Err, yes, and no.”

“Christ man, get on with it.”

“I am Gino, a famous baker. Everyone wants the secret to my cakes,” started the chef.

One police officer had taken notes. He slammed the pad back into his pocket.

“We’ll be in touch,” said the senior officer as they strode to the front.

Gino boarded up the door as best he could, all the while talking to himself.

“It must be her. She is the only one jealous enough to brazenly break-in, I was only away for seconds.” 

He crawled into bed muttering and planning.

After a sleepless night, he struggled downstairs. Picking up his trusty rolling-pin, he held an in-depth conversation with it.

“Do you want her dead?”

“Yes.”

“How?”

That required some thought.

“Push her under a train?”

“I do not know when she’ll need a train.”

“Push her in front of a car?”

“People will see.”

“Steal a car and run her over?”

“I’ve no idea how to pinch a vehicle.”

“Shoot her?”

“Where will I get a gun?”

“Use my rat poison and lace a cake with it?”

“Would she accept a gift from me?”

“Stab her?”

“Err, no don’t fancy that.”

Ideas bounced around in his head all day.

In another part of town, a young girl quietly shut the door and put up the ‘closed’ sign.

“Thanks for working so hard in the shop today. But, we have not finished yet. We are going to make the best Christmas sponges. You wait in the kitchen, I’ll cash up. See you in a minute,” said her mother.

She stepped outside to move the sandwich board indoors. She bent, folding the wooden advert together.

From the shadows, an arm crashed a rolling pin into her head. She slumped dead to the pavement. A youthful scream shattered the silence.

Next door’s light went on, more lights illuminated the shops, people ran to their doors, within minutes a police car skidded to the scene.

They hurled questions at all onlookers.

“What happened?” a policewoman asked the young girl shaking in the doorway.

“Somebody hit my mum with a rolling pin,” Jen said through tears.

“Red or white?” Steve asked Patty as he noticed flashing blue lights flash past the window.

“Are we celebrating losing our jobs?” she answered. “We are the only ones unhappy. Wait a minute, why are you laughing?”

The wine bar was full of people enjoying a pre-Christmas drink, carols rang out above the laughter and jollities. 

“How much do you think Gino will pay to keep his secret?”

“What do you mean?” asked Patty.

Steve pulled a plastic bag from his pocket.

“What is this?”

Patty spread the off-white contents of the bag onto her plate. Poking around with a fork, she smelt it, then tasted it. Her face lit up, trying to control her voice.

“It’s almost worthless as an ingredient. But priceless as a secret!” she burst into laughter.

“What is it?”

She controlled herself enough to say, “It’s… Oh wait a minute, my phone is ringing.”

She gathered her belonging and called for the bill.

“Come on, we must go. There has been trouble at my aunt’s.”

Several people surrounded the doorway.

“So sorry about your aunt,” said one neighbour.

The senior officer led her into the back room. Blanket-clad Jen was weeping.

“Your aunt struck on the head once it seems, and she died instantly. I’m sorry for your loss. Her takings are on the counter, so it was not a robbery,” she stated. “Something doesn’t add up. Young Jen said she witnessed a person using a rolling-pin. It seems an unlikely weapon?”

Steve and Patty called out, “Gino!”

Police radios crackled.

The sound engineer then admitted to the police what he had done earlier, and instantly handcuffs were clamped to his wrists.

“Sauerkraut, she stole my sauerkraut,” Gino called as they bundled him into the back of the police car.

Patty held Jen close. Between tears, Patty tried to explain what had happened, “Gino killed your mum because he worried she would tell everyone he used a war-time trick to add flavour and give body to cakes when ingredients were scarce,” she cried. “All because of cabbage and salt. What a sour way to go.”

The END

You may like Can’t Judge a Book by its Murder. Amy Lillard.

$16.15

As Sugar Springs gears up for its all-class high school reunion, Mississippi bookstore owner Arlo Stanley prepares to launch her largest event: a book-signing with the town’s legendary alum and bestselling author, Wally Harrison. That’s when Wally is discovered dead outside of Arlo’s front door and her best friend is questioned for the crime.

BUY HERE

Or Spare Room, by Dreda Say Mitchell.

$3.49

Lisa, a troubled young woman with a past, can’t believe her luck when she finds a beautiful room to rent in a large house. The live-in owners are a kind and welcoming couple. Everything is fine until she finds a suicide note hidden in her room. But when the couple insist this man didn’t exist and that Lisa is their first tenant, Lisa begins to doubt herself.

GET IT HERE

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