Friday, March 24, 2017

The Dead Celeb

Have you read The Dead Celeb? If you haven't here are the first two chapters for you to enjoy over the weekend. I have something exciting coming Monday for you. If you've read it and lpved it, share with your friends!

Have a wonderful weekend.



MY NAME IS EVIE PRESTON and I hang out with dead rock stars. Oh, and the occasional dead movie star or two. I’ve learned quite a bit about those who live on the other side over the past few months. For instance, they aren’t all ghostly and transparent. Oh no. The ones I see are almost always in full- color and 3-D except when they exert, ah … certain energies. Then they go a bit hazy. Oh, and they prefer to be called spirits.
Yeah, I know … I sound completely insane. Like, “commit me” insane. But honestly, I am not crazy. Believe me, the first time I saw Bob Marley in my place (well, technically not my place, but I’ll get to that) in the Hollywood Hills, getting high and singing “Buffalo Soldier,” I thought I was either dreaming, hallucinating, or, yes, completely nuts. Thankfully, it was none of the above. In fact, Bob is a very real, very dead guy who likes to hang out with me, along with a handful of other deceased, famous rock musicians (and a few who never quite made the charts, one of whom I’ve recently developed feelings for—more about him later). So, not only do I hang out with dead rock stars, I also think I am in love with one, or at least in lust… which makes me totally screwed up. But I am not crazy. I swear.
Before I go any further, though, I need to take you back a few months to the day after my twenty-eighth birthday. Welcome to Brady, Texas—population 5,500—and, according to the sign on the main road into town, “The Heart of Texas.” Truth be told, the signs were everywhere. Signs, that is, telling me to get the hell out of Brady.
I was at Mrs. Betty LaRue’s place. Her house smelled of Tide, home cooking, and mothballs. Betty was comforting me over the dismal turnout of my Mary Kay presentation—my latest attempt at becoming an entrepreneur—which she’d kindly hosted.
We were drinking apple-cranberry tea, with her Lhasa Apso, Princess, curled in a ball under Betty’s chair, and my dog (of indeterminate breed … possibly part-coyote and part-lab, with a dash of border collie in there), Mama Cass, across my feet. I loved how Betty always let me bring Cass in the house. My dog went everywhere with me, but not everyone was as gracious about her presence as Betty.
“I really thought this would go much better,” I said, bringing the warm cup of tea to my lips.
Betty smiled sympathetically, the fine lines in her eighty- something face creasing deeper into her skin, “Oh, honey, I don’t know what happened to my girls today. I am so sorry. I thought there’d be at least ten of us. They all love my snickerdoodles. But you know how some of us old gals are; we forget things.” She twirled a yellow-white wisp of curled hair around her finger. The rest of it was pulled up into a loose bun (or chignon as Mama calls it). She’d obviously been in to see my mother that morning for her weekly hair appointment.
I nodded. “It’s okay, Betty. Thanks for hosting anyway, and the cookies were delicious. Three isn’t such a bad turnout.” Thing was, only Betty bought anything. Her friends, Margaret and Hazel, came for the cookies and samples. “And I made about ten dollars, so that will buy me a couple of meals. You’ll love that anti-wrinkle cream, by the way.”
Betty ran a hand over her face and laughed sweetly. “Child, ain’t nothing gonna work on this face now. And I’m proud of these lines. I earned them.”
I laughed back. “So you only bought the cream because you felt sorry for me?” Cass’s ears perked up and she lifted her head to peer at me.
Betty sighed. “Evie Preston, I have known you since you started kicking up a fuss in your mama’s belly.” She winked at me. “I’ve watched you try so hard to be exactly what your mama and daddy wanted, especially after all that bad business. And there was that unfortunate situation with—” She paused. “What was his name?”
She brought her cup to her lips, her hand shaking ever so slightly. I sighed, knowing exactly what bad business she was referring to. As for the unfortunate situation, he was the star quarterback my senior year and the lucky recipient of my virginity. Sadly, he was also the jerk who then decided to share the news with the entire town. Thank God my mother was able to intercept that little tidbit before it reached my father’s ears.
Betty waved her free hand in the air as if to brush the painful thoughts away. “I know you were hoping to be a good Texas girl and marry a good Texas boy and have babies and run a family like your folks did, not because you really wanted it,” she said, shaking a finger at me. “But because your parents wanted it for you. And now, my dear,” Betty leaned over and gave me one of her rare, stern looks. “It’s high time you stopped pretending and started living!”
“What do you mean?”
“You got a God-given talent. You need to get out there and do something with it.”
She tried to set the tea cup down on the side table and almost missed. I grabbed it and set it down for her. Betty beamed at me. “Thank you, honey! Always so polite.”
I looked down at my dog, licking the unpolished toes peeking out of the only pair of high-heeled sandals I owned. “Fact is, Betty, I know I’m good, but there are a lot of good musicians out there.” I dejectedly twirled the ends of my long, baby-fine hair. Mama always said God hadn’t been paying close attention when it came time to give me hair. It was stick straight, dark brown, and silky. I couldn’t do a darn thing with it, except put it into ponytails.
Betty waved her hand again. “Nonsense!” Placing her hands on the sides of her chair, she slowly pushed herself up to a stand and ambled over to the white brick mantle. She grabbed an envelope and handed it to me.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“Your birthday was yesterday, wasn’t it?”
“You remembered?”
She frowned. “I may be old, Evie, but I don’t forget birthdays. Especially when they’re for people I care about.”
“That is so sweet of you.” I was flattered and grateful someone seemed happy to have me around.
“Oh honey, you know you’re one of my favorite people. You got spunk! Had it since you came out ass-backward, showing the world what you thought of it.”
“Thank you, I think.” I couldn’t help smiling. Betty was the only one I knew who spoke the truth without holding back. Betty was authenticity at it’s finest.  She didn’t tiptoe around stuff like my family. Tiptoeing was what we did best.
“Open it! I don’t have all day. It’s about time for my nap.”
I tore open the envelope and found a check inside for five thousand dollars, made out to me. I gasped.
“Betty! What…” Cass jumped up, her huge ears pricked forward, tail wagging, watching me like a hawk. “It’s okay, girl.” She lay back down but still alert.
“I was twenty-eight once too, you know, and I had dreams … big dreams.” Betty’s blue eyes glazed over for a moment. “I wanted to be a movie star, and I could have, too. I was damn good, like you are at what you do, and, believe it or not, I used to be good looking.” She winked at me again, but there were tears in her eyes. I knew about Betty’s dreams from long ago. I also knew there was a part of her life that hadn’t been so good.
“But then my folks, like yours, had other ideas and I decided to play by their rules. I don’t regret it … well, maybe I do a little. Thing is, young lady, you can sing like a nightingale and you can play the guitar like nobody’s business. You need to get the hell out of this town before you wind up like every other girl here—knocked up, changing dirty diapers, and cleaning up after some idiot male who spends his nights with a beer in one hand and a TV remote in the other.”
I frowned. I’d already seen almost every girl from my high school graduating class living the life Betty had just described. The lucky ones skipped town and went to college. I hadn’t been quite that lucky for a variety of reasons. I had the grades and the desire, but life had other ideas. On the positive side, which is where I like to go, I’d at least not had the misfortune of marrying some guy who didn’t appreciate me, expected his dinner on the table when he got home from his shift at Walmart, and wanted his wife and children to obey, just because he said so.
“Betty, I really do appreciate your vote of confidence but still, I can’t accept this.” I held the check towards her.
“Yes, you can, and you will. Go live your life, Evie Preston. Pack up that van of yours, your guitar, and Mama Cass, and head west. You sing your heart out in every bar, every café, every church—I don’t care where you go, but go and sing. I know one thing: you have what it takes to be a star. Forget all about them cosmetics you’re trying to pawn…”
“Mary Kay,” I interrupted. “It is a really good line. Mama swears by it.”
She frowned and waved that hand at me. “Just forget all that, because you and I both know it won’t get you nowhere. That kind of thing is for people like Shirley Swan up the road trying to make an extra buck to take care of those four kids of hers. Take the money, cut your losses, and run. You gotta stop living for your mama and daddy. You didn’t cause what happened and you can’t never change it.” She shook her head vehemently. “Go on and live life. Do it for me. Humor an old woman, please?” Her blue eyes watered, the creases crinkling as she choked back emotion.
How could I refuse after a plea like that? I tried one last time, for the sake of courtesy. “But my daddy—”
Betty dabbed at her eyes with a kerchief. “He’ll get over it. And your mama is gonna secretly be cheering you on. It’ll be hard on them, but this’ll be the best thing for all of you.” She sighed heavily. “Especially you, Evie. Trust me.”
So I did. I trusted Betty LaRue.
The next day I packed up my 1974 VW bus, a suitcase of clothes, my Rosewood Gibson acoustic guitar, and Mama Cass. I pulled out of my parents’ driveway while Daddy waved his arms wildly in the air, yelling, “You’re gonna ruin your life out there, Evangeline!” (He’s the only one who ever calls me by my full name.) “Los Angeles isn’t the city of angels. It’s a city of heathens and devils!”
I knew he was just scared. I’m pretty sure if I looked closer, I’d see tears in his eyes. But Betty was right. This was something I had to do.
I could see tears for sure in my mother’s big hazel eyes, the same color as my own, as she mouthed, “I love you.”
I rolled down the window, choking back my own sobs. “I love you, too! I’ll call. Don’t worry. I’ll be fine.”

With blurred eyes, Mama Cass’s head in my lap, a Patsy Cline cassette in the tape deck (thank God for eBay—you have no idea how hard it is to find cassette tapes these days), I headed west to the City of Angels. For the first time in sixteen years, I felt like I could finally breathe again. I was leaving behind the only two people I knew who I had never been able to heal even a little bit, and I didn’t think I ever could.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Cooking by the Book

The first book that I ever had published was MURDER UNCORKED. It wasn't the first one that I ever wrote, but it was the first one that an agent wanted to represent and that was sold along with two other books in the series. If you've read about Nikki Sands and her eccentric friends on the vineyard solving murder mysteries, eating great food and drinking wine, then you know that first book turned into a series of seven with two short stories as well. Readers of the series also know that there are recipes and wine pairings in the books.

Readers have asked me through the years if I would put the recipes and wine pairings in one compilation. I have now done that and am happy to say that it is permanently free on Nook, iBooks, Kobo, etc. You'll find the recipes from all of the books and you'll also learn where the ideas came from and some of my personal journey while writing each book in the series. The best part is that it is FREE! I've also made MURDER UNCORKED permanently free! If you have a Kindle and want to receive the books free, please e-mail me at and I'll send you the PDF. Hope you enjoy!


Saturday, December 3, 2016


Remember when you were a little kid and you could play all sorts of games, fantasies, adventures that you created in your head? I sure do. I can remember playing Charlie's Angels with my friend Jill...there were only two of us, so we pretended a third one was there. We just imagined her. I can also remember going out on riding trails with my friends on our horses and we could create some amazing adventures about cowboys and Indians, and being bad guys...or good guys. We had a blast! I feel grateful that my imagination has continued to inspire me. I may not play dress up with my friends any longer so-to-speak, but I create pages of stories that I have so much fun doing.

Thinking about imagination and writing...and childhood, got me thinking about a program I developed several years ago and worked with kids in schools. With the season's chill upon us and many families finding themselves indoors over the next few months, I wanted to share with you an idea to help any little ones you have in the house that might spark their imagination. If you've got kids who like to create stories, and I think most kids do, then this is a fun exercise you can do with them. This is really geared toward the little ones. I'll add some exercises over the month for older kids who are aspiring writers that you can share with them, or even use yourself.

So, with the little ones I worked grades pre-K-1st I made worksheets that we later turned into a picture book (get out the crayons).  The story I made up was...If I were an animal, I would be a (blank...they'd fill in the blank), and on that page they'd draw that animal in any way they wanted to. The next page was: My name would be (blank). I'd go on an adventure to (blank), and I'd meet a (blank). You get the idea. Each sentence was a page for them to fill in the blank and draw their picture. It opened them up creatively and they were learning how to spell words. It's a lot of fun and if there are so many ideas you can do. You can create a holiday book, an alphabet book, a book about their favorite thing to do... If you want any ideas or further help in doing this with your child, feel free to e-mail me a and I'd be happy to help you and your child(ren) create their own story, which can also be a pretty neat gift to give to their other parent, grand parents, teachers, etc...

On a side note, for your kids ages 8-11 who love to read, I want to share with you that my children's book The Clover Siblings and the Evil of Desmal is now permanently free on iTunes, Nook, Kobo, etc. It's still showing $2.99 on Kindle, but I am working to get that changed to free as well.

I hope you're enjoying the holiday season and that you take time for your family and friends! Many Blessings!

To check out The Clover Siblings and where you can download for free, visit:

Friday, December 2, 2016

Conspiracy Theories

Let's face it...we're living in some very different times. There's a lot that feels unsettling these days and so much divineness around the world that I think many people are questioning their values and thoughts. I know that I certainly am and as a writer my brain is running rampant with all sorts of book ideas.

However, the book I want to write about today was the first book that I ever wrote--COVERT REICH, and the reason I wanted to blog about it is that for a book I wrote twenty-five years ago, there are some messages in that book that in a weird way I see taking shape in our real world today--maybe not to the extent of what I fictionalized a long time ago, but still...there's some messages that I put in the book that I think if we looked around today we'd find evidence of some of the scary plot I created way back when.

The premise of COVERT REICH is: A sect of the US government has devised a plan to rid society of those they feel are "undesirable" within the culture.

I developed the idea when my oldest son Alex was born. He was six weeks preemie and spent two weeks in the hospital. It was a very difficult time as a young mom to see him in an incubator where I could only touch him through gloves that I put my hands through on the side of the incubator. He was hooked up to all sorts of monitoring machines and receiving medication for his under developed lungs. This was obviously very upsetting for me, but a nurse showed me an infant that had been addicted to drugs and his mother had given birth and left him for foster care. This baby had no fight in him. He was pretty still every time I looked at him. My son, on the other hand did his share of crying, moving around, etc...and although it upset me to see him struggle and not be able to hold him, the nurse explained to me that he'd be fine because he had a will to survive, and the baby who was detoxing from drugs did not have the same survival skills. That disheartened me a great deal.

Two weeks later, my son was big enough, healthy and strong enough to come home with his monitors (I'm happy to say that he is a very healthy 25 year old now) and because I needed to be at home with him, I decided that I would try to pursue my dreams of being a writer. What would I write about? Well...I knew I always wanted to write thrillers and mystery because that's all I ever pretty much read.  As I was coming up with ideas, I watched a Sixty Minutes program about drugs, the impoverished, the government and the belief of their involvement in keeping the poor addicted to drugs, and also the sterilization of welfare recipients. Combined with Alex's stay in the hospital and seeing some very sick infants, along with that news story, I found my what if... and three hundred and some odd pages later, I had written my first book. I had originally titled it COVERT WOMB and when I finished it I went on to write more books.

A few years ago that original storyline, which hadn't been published kept nagging me to take another look at it. So I did and with the help of my Yoda (my editor Mile Sirota) we went back through and reviewed, polished and I self published it on Amazon where I've now sold a lot of copies.

More and more COVERT REICH reminds me of my beginnings as a writer, but lately it's made me think again about humanity and where we are in this day and we love our neighbors? And, if we don't, shouldn't we? We sure need to. Hatred, discrimination, prejudice, paranoia, manipulation and divisive words and actions will lead is away from positive growth and inclusiveness. In fact, it has the potential to lead us into a downward spiral of destruction.

In the hopes that each of us will reach out to one another in a loving manner with kind actions and words (especially during this holiday season), I'm placing COVERT REICH on sale for .99 for the month of December. Any royalties received on that book for this month will go to, which is a charity I believe in. I hope you'll check out the book.

Many blessings to all of my readers, your families, friends, and to all. Here is a link to the book on Amazon:

Friday, July 22, 2016

To Blog or Not to Blog?

Considering these kinda strange times, this question is lame. I'll admit it. Who really gives a rat's ass as to what I have to say?  I'm not even sure at times how much I care about what I have to say, but you know what? I'm going to say whatever I want here on my blog because I can and if you care--then great... I love that you think I have anything important to say. If you don't care...great. I probably will still like you if we ever meet. I like most people. If you love's guaranteed that I'll like you even if you're weird. I'm positive that if any of my kids are reading this right now that they are sufficiently embarrassed--at least the one under 18. The older two accept me for who I am at this point. They understand that changing me is highly unlikely without a lobotomy and I am sorry...but I'm not prepared to take enough Xanax to get me to that point. The youngest one should never read anything I write because I guarantee her mortification will be worse than mine at some of the lyrics I am exposed to daily via certain rappers that she claims she simply listens to for "the beat." Yeah, right??? The last time I checked, I was not born yesterday, but I am also not that old yet. I swear!!! There are just some things I don't want to hear.

Indulgent rant is now over. more grammar sucks, so on this blog expect all sorts of commas in wrong places, tenses might at times be off and there are probably a few dozen grammar  rules I'll break on a regular basis. However, I can craft a good story, but commas and all of that can get me, so bitch if you want about it, it's one of my faults--grammar...I am just grateful for a good editor and the fact that I can use (the three ellipses)... when I don't know what else I should do! So, ...!

Here's what my plans are for this blog--a little bit of everything. Sometimes, I'll write about life, my life, dog or horse's life, kids'  lives, my past life, my future life, your life, how I craft a story, or what wine I think you should drink with whatever recipe I conjure up. If there are five people still reading here, I figure I'm good.  Hang out. We might have some fun.

Tonight... while I sip a nice Chilean red blend, I just may turn serious--considering what I'm latest thriller. Ah...nah...I'll save that, because the week has been long and it's a Friday night and who really feels like being serious (I promise we will get to it, and deeper--serious shit, as if shit can be serious.) However, I do have some deep stuff to write about and I tend to be an open book.

Tonight, I just want to say, "hi," to my readers who I consider friends. I've been in and out as a writer for you over the past few years. A lot of that had to do with my dad's passing and some other family situations that needed my complete attention (that's as serious as I'll get for now)..., but I want you, my readers/friends  to know that I am back at the keyboard, taking notes on the legal pads, daydreaming of what ifs to put on the page and working diligently on providing you with the best stories I can create for you. I love you, am grateful for you and appreciate your patience in waiting for each and every book. You bring me joy and I hope that my stories take you out of any day to day stress you may be having and allow you to be entertained.  I've got a lot of stories to tell. I hope you'll join me! Looks like I've answered my own question--I'm blogging again.


Friday, May 29, 2015

Researching the Thriller

I get asked quite a bit about what it's like to write a thriller, or how do I write a thriller.'s a good question.  Out of all the genres that I do write in, I really enjoy writing a dark thriller the best. Not sure what that says about me, but it's true. I totally love 48 Hour Mysteries, Dateline, anything that involves a dark mystery.

When I sit down to write a thriller, just like anything that I write, I always start with the what if... Once I have that initial what if down, I create characters and a plot around the question. Creating a killer is daunting. Let's face it...murderers are really, really bad, heinous individuals--especially the ones that I write, and they can be exhausting to write. When I have a character semi-developed and a plot line moving along, that's when I bring in the experts. Let me just say that it is true that fact is stranger than fiction. While working on my new thriller The Preference, which is a part of the Holly Jennings series, I'm having the privilege of working with two experts. One of them is a homicide detective and I'm terribly afraid that he thinks I'm really disturbed, but every time I send him a scenario, he says, "Wow! Cool!" Okay, I'm good with that. He then challenges me as far as with questions I never thought to ask, or answers I need to really think on--things like considering blood splatter, DNA testing, how long it takes for lab tests to come back, toxicology reports, etc. I mean, sure I knew that in some ways. I couldn't have written the thrillers I currently have out there, but I want to go that extra mile with this book, and having a real homicide detective to work with is helping me make it that much more legit. Of course, it is fiction so it can't come close to fact. ;) However, the way the investigation is conducted can be as close to fact as I can possibly achieve--thus going to the experts!

I'm also working with a criminal psychologist on this book. Again--there's some really weird stuff going on out there. I mean, I thought I wrote real bad guys, but there is some evil out there that the doctor has told me about that has made me squeamish (I don't do squeamish typically) and even may have caused me to have a nightmare or two recently. Like working with the detective, the psychologist helps me see angles that I may not normally see. Killers have real patterns and reasons as to why they do what they do. She has helped me find the reason and the pattern of my current villain.

So...if you are looking to write a thriller, I strongly suggest doing the homework. Talk to the experts and make your novel the best possible book that it can be!

Look for The Preference this July! Available for pre-order now!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

It's Been Awhile....

Wow! So, I haven't blogged here since 2012! A lot has happened in three years! If you know me, then you know that. I am no longer a full time writer. The passing of my Dad in June 2012 prompted me to go back to work at our family business--Professional's Choice.

However, that has not meant that I've given up writing. In fact, I am still putting out two to three books a year, have worked with some co-authors including the great JR Rain, and try very hard to keep myself entrenched in the writing community.

I'm currently working on the third novel in the Holly Jennings series. It's titled The Preference and in a few days, I will be posting the first chapter here. The book will be out in July! Here is the cover, which I love.
For those of you who have not been in Holly's world at all, I'm going to share a little bit here. My international bestselling thriller DADDY'S HOME is where it all started, so for today, I'd like to give you a tidbit from that book. Here is the first chapter and I hope you enjoy it!

Holly Jennings wanted to get this son of a bitch. She needed to see him stretched out, strapped down on a gurney. She yearned to watch the hypo hooked up to his veins, releasing the venomous fluid that would flow through his body, causing it to gradually shut down. Better yet, Holly wanted to take her nine-millimeter Glock, put it to his temple, and pull the trigger.

Blow the monster’s brains out.

She slid down the steep incline, brushing off the leaves as she got to her feet, and took a pair of Latex gloves from her black bag, smoothing them over her hands. Even after four years of working the Crime Scene unit for the San Diego P.D., Holly still hadn’t gotten used to that acrid rubber smell and the puff of powder that flared out as the gloves snapped into place. It was like a wake-up call to her body.

Here we go again, Holly, grit your teeth. Even her years of experience with death scenes never made the next scene easier. No matter how many times she had faced smells so foreign to the average nose—even those not so average, like Holly’s—the vile aroma always hit her hard. That first breath in ignited visuals of violence—visuals so completely opposite of anything normal, like a plunge into the depths of Hell. Then, too, there was always something about each victim, each situation, that caught a detective, or herself anyway, off guard. Each victim had been a real person with a real life, and within a matter of days, hours—or hopefully for their sakes, seconds—they became a statistic.

Sickening. Yet, in spite of the shattered bodies and the putrid odors, Holly had to admit it was a job she almost relished.

Holly stepped along the perimeter of the taped-off crime scene, walking in line and with trepidation, hands behind her back—not an easy task while also carrying her bag, but a necessary one. Holly played by the rules. Keep the crime scene intact, and don’t fall on your ass. The boys are watching. She glanced back and saw both her partner, Chad Euwing—who she could screw up in front of and laugh about it over a shot of tequila—and Robb Carpenter—who she wouldn’t even think about messing up in front of; he’d run straight to the higher ups, who would love to demote a skirt if given a chance. So much for equality.

Robb was full of stupid one-liners like, “Didn’t you miss your nail appointment?” Or maybe, “We’re a little hormonal today?” Asshole extraordinaire.

Holly reached the little girl first. She knelt down, and the natural instinct to touch her gave Holly an intense head rush. Shut down the emotions. Do your job. What kind of freak would do this to an innocent child? Only two weeks earlier she’d been in this exact position where a child and his mother had been violently slain. Was she dealing with the same killer here? Focus. Think. Work. Examine. It was again time to examine the UNSUB’s heinous work. The Unknown Subject of an Investigation. The killer. The savage. She pulled out a small recorder from her coat pocket and pressed the record button. “Time of day: ten hundred. Tuesday. Approximately fifty-five to sixty degrees, clear weather, post rain. Victim 1: Female Child. Approximately age four. Blonde hair. Eyes closed. Wrapped in cellophane. Starburst wound at base of left temple. Entry: UNSUB is left handed. Looks like someone braided her hair, put ribbons in it—UNSUB?”

She leaned in closely. The smell of decay and death wafted past, nauseating her. It always did—another thing she knew that she’d never get used to. Hold on. What was this? She pocketed the recorder and took her magnifier from her bag. Gold links. He took a necklace from you, didn’t he, sweet girl? She scanned the wrapped body and face closely. There was a smudge of brown next to her lips. Not blood. What is that?

“He’s a collector,” she yelled up to Chad. “Did we find anything missing on the Collins’ little boy or his mom? You talked to the grandparents about jewelry?”

“Yeah. No one said anything about any jewelry being gone,” Chad shouted back. “We know what he took at that scene.” The grave tone in Chad’s voice didn’t go unnoticed.

“This one took something from the kid, too. Got your camera?”

“Right here.” Chad held up his 35-millimeter.

“Then come on down. Let’s get some pictures.”

Holly looked back at the child, whose facial color held a greenish-purple tinge. She’d been out here for at least forty-eight hours. Luckily, it had been cold and rainy, preserving the body far better than if this had been a typical Southern California week.
Looking again through the magnifier, she noted that both maggots and beetles were prevalent. You certainly took some care here, didn’t you? You wrapped her up nice and tight. The time and obvious care the UNSUB had taken, wrapping up the child in the plastic wrap, had also helped to keep her body intact. Maybe you’re still on her. Your cologne. Your hair. Something you wore. I’ll find it, you bastard. If you left something, anything, I will find it.

The sound of crunching leaves underfoot, as well as Chad’s humming of “Sunshiny Day,” announced his arrival. She used to hate it when he did that. But humming helped Chad to get through the scene. Every investigator had a tactic. Hers was to get as deeply into the killer’s head as possible when confronted with a victim. She had to detach herself in order to solve the crime. Later, she could think about the victims as they once were—living, breathing human beings.

“The gunshot to the head was at close range. At least she didn’t suffer.” Holly shuddered. “Well, let me rephrase. I don’t think she suffered at the moment of death. Who knows what occurred beforehand. Look here.” Chad bent down next to her. “Soot around the wound.”

“He didn’t wipe her clean?” Chad brought the camera up to his eye, focused, and started snapping close-ups.


“Like the last kid.” Chad lowered his camera.

“Exactly like the Collins boy. And I don’t think this is about him being in a hurry. There’s more to it. He feels responsible somehow. In his sick way, empathetic. The gunshot wound offends him. I’ll head over to Psych later and see if we can’t get some help with the profile. My initial impression is that he doesn’t like killing the kids.”

“Then why bother with the kid? Why not find a single female vic? What is it with the kids?”

“Well, assuming that we’re dealing with the same UNSUB, I don’t know. We could be dealing with someone totally different from the last scene. We’ll know soon enough when we check out the mom.” Chad gave Holly a knowing look. “Here, get a snap of her neck. See that?” Holly pointed to the few lengths of chain around her tiny neck.

“She wore a necklace?”

“Yep, and he took it. He carried her down here. Then yanked off the necklace. Any footprints?” Holly asked.

“With the rains we’ve had over the last couple of days? No.” Chad shook his head, and started clicking the camera again. “What’s that caked on the side of her face?”

“I don’t know.” But the word cake did ring true—chocolate maybe. Mark Collins had had peanut butter cookies in his stomach contents. “Maybe this bastard gives them goodies first. A real compassionate type, huh?”

“Twisted, Holly. This is one of the more bizarre cases I’ve seen. ‘Here kiddo, let’s have cake and ice cream before I murder you and your mom.’”

“We’re not dealing with your average psycho here.” After Chad was finished snapping away, Holly bagged the bit of chain. “Let’s check out Mom.”

They walked another five feet down and to the right before reaching the woman’s naked body, face down, a blue tarp tattered but still taped to her. “He didn’t take any time here,” Chad noted. “Looks like he basically dumped her and got the hell out of here.”

“I think you’re right. My bet is he was extremely angry with her, or whomever she represents to him. He doesn’t care about her. He’s pissed off, and she’s the root of his anger. He didn’t bother carrying her down. He tossed her like a bag of trash.”

Chad snapped several photos of the body in that position. He then rolled her over with his gloved hands. “It’s possible she’s a mother figure to him.”

“That’s one train of thought. Or a wife, girlfriend, even a sister. Someone else besides a mother may have raised him. Could be a grandmother. I don’t know. But his hate is deep-seated, and it’s directed at the women. This isn’t really about the children, by what I’ve seen so far. That is, if he is the same killer who murdered Patricia and Mark Collins.” Holly shook her head. She was frustrated at the dead end that particular murder investigation had led her to. The killer on that case was meticulous and left nothing at the scene. The similarities, however, were frightening.

The Collins case was another single mother and child pair. They’d been taken late at night from their Hillcrest home. No one had seen a damn thing. Patricia Collins was the quiet type, not very social, and a dedicated mother. The only lead they’d had was that she had belonged to both the local gym and a dating service, neither of which had turned up anything.

Patricia had only had one date through the service, and the man had checked out completely clean. Holly had the police chief breathing down her neck, and these new murders, if they linked up to the other family, would have him in even more of a tizzy. Holly didn’t like dealing with Tom Greenfield in a tizzy.

Holly nodded at Chad who pulled back the blue tarp covering the mother. “Oh my God!” Holly gasped, bringing her free hand up to her mouth. She had to look away momentarily. Her heart pounded hard against her ribs.

“Yeah. I guess you could say he was pissed,” Chad muttered before firing off shot after shot of film.

The woman looked to be in her early thirties. Presumably the child’s mother, she had been badly mutilated. Anguish and fright splashed across her face, her eyes frozen wide open. Holly’s gut said the killer had done the mutilating before he killed her. The woman had suffered quite a bit, whereas he had killed the child quickly. Oh, God. Had she witnessed the brutality her mother had endured?
“Why would he cut off her breasts?” Chad asked. The tarp was torn open enough to see the horrid wounds the killer had inflicted upon the woman. Holly shook her head. Stay in his head. What are you so angry about? Why her? Holly sighed. “Anger combined with wanting to either strip her of her womanhood or of her motherhood. I don’t know. He’s one sick fuck.”

“So what do you think? Is he the same one who murdered the Collins boy?” Chad asked.

“He didn’t mutilate Patricia, except for the finger.” Holly stared blankly at the missing ring finger on this victim’s hand. “And, uh, yeah. He’s saved himself another ring finger. I’d say he’s the same killer. It adds up. Both kids shot in the head at close range. The medical examiner and ballistics will give us a better idea. The difference is in the mutilation here. Our other gal cooperated with him, maybe thought she would get out of it alive. He only severed her ring finger, and the M.E. believes that was done post mortem. I don’t think he did this after he killed this one, though. I think he tortured her.” Holly bent down next to the woman and picked up the woman’s stiff hand. “She fought back, though, before he cut it off. See the blood and skin on the other fingers and nail beds?”

Chad bent down and took Holly’s magnifier from her. “We’re gonna get DNA off this. Let’s hope he has a prior.”

Holly knew that was slim. Serial killers were usually very careful. You fought him, didn’t you? “You did good. We’ll get him, I promise you. I’m gonna find him for you,” she said in a barely audible whisper. She glanced back over at the body of the child. “Carpenter!” she hollered up to Robb. “Get down here. What the hell are you doing? We might have some fibers. Bring your kit, and let’s get some measurements and sketches drawn up. This scene isn’t going to stay preserved forever.”

“You okay?” Chad asked.

“I can’t stand that asshole. And you know he can’t stand me, especially if I’m running the scene. He’s still bent that he didn’t get promoted to my position.”

“You earned it. Ignore him. That really gets under his skin.” He winked at her. Holly was fully aware of her title as Ice Princess around the department. She’d even caught a whiff of rumor about bets being placed as to who could get her in the sack.

She looked at her watch. It was almost lunch hour, and she had a forty-minute drive to make it to Chloe’s school. Her daughter’s second-grade class had plans for their Thanksgiving festivities. Damn. She had promised her that she would be there. She had already missed one dance recital and a school play this year. “Can you handle this from here? I promised Chloe I’d make it to her school assembly and Thanksgiving feast. Make sure Carpenter and the boys stay in line. I don’t want any mistakes. Our perp is good and careful, but he’ll screw up somewhere along the line. When he does, I want him behind bars until they’ve got him strapped to that gurney. I don’t want him out on a technicality because of something we got careless about.”

“Count on me.”

“Thanks. I know I can. I’d stay and hold the fort, but Chloe . . .”

“Go, for God’s sake. I can handle this.”

“Call me if you get anything new. I planned to take the rest of the afternoon off and spend it with her. This morning she sent a big guilty arrow through my heart about how I’m always working. I know I shouldn’t take off, and Greenfield would skin me alive if he knew, but that might hurt less than my seven-year-old’s therapy payments down the line.”

“No problem. Family first. You do what you need to, and I’ll plan to meet you at the medical examiner’s office in the morning.”

Robb Carpenter passed her. “What’s the matter, Holly? Your thong up your ass today?”

She kept walking. She heard Chad tell Robb to go fuck himself. Good friend. Behind the wheel of her Jeep, she pulled down the mirror and applied her tawny-colored lipstick, hoping to look more like a mother than a cop. She also put on some mascara, bringing her hazel eyes to life, and quickly brushed her short auburn hair back behind her ears. A little better.

Holly quickly got onto the freeway and sped down the I-8, heading west, noticing the whites of her knuckles as she gripped the wheel tightly. She hated admitting that she had wanted to leave the scene. It wasn’t something she would typically do, although today she did have a good excuse.

That poor woman, what she must have suffered . . . Her breasts. My God! She put a hand up to her breasts. He studies his victims, knows them or at least of them and their situation. What’s his motive? Why is he doing this?

He wasn’t some recluse, killing randomly. He had specific reasons for the women he chose. He carved up women just like her—young, single, and with a child. It was now up to Holly to track him down before he savagely butchered another family.

Interested in reading more? Stay tuned, I'll put up another chapter in a couple of days. If you don't want to wait, here is the link to Amazon. Tomorrow, I'll be posting about what it's like to jump back into Holly's world as a homicide detective. I'm currently working with a homicide detective and a criminal psychologist on the new book. It's fascinating an I'll share about it tomorrow. have a wonderful day!