Monday, November 21, 2011

The Cast of COVERT REICH

I hope everyone had a great weekend! Mine was a bit crazy. My horse Will had a mild colic, which kept me from much sleep. I got up every couple of hours to check on him. I am happy to say that he is much better and all systems are working (horse people will know what I mean--if not, you probably don't want the details). I also worked like crazy to format COVERT REICH, which I have to admit has left me a bit drained. I write, not format for all of the various e-readers. It is not easy! My hats off to all the techies out there.

I am pleased to say though that release day is finally here. The Kindle version is up now for .99. The Nook, Ipad and print versions will be available very soon.

Now, for the fun stuff! When I write a book I like to think about who might play in the movie or TV show. Yes, I am aware that this is very wishful thinking but it is still fun. So, I have casted a few roles for COVERT REICH. I am still trying to figure out who would play Eric and Julio. See if you agree with my current cast of characters. And, I am posting Chapter Fourteen. If you have not had a chance to read the chapters that are up already I hope that you will, and that it entices you to get a copy. Kindle Purchase Links: http://www.amazon.com/Covert-Reich-ebook/dp/B006BHWSJM/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_t_2 and the U.K. Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Covert-Reich-ebook/dp/B006BHWSJM/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_t_1

Here is my all star-cast for COVERT REICH:


Dr. Kelly Morales--Jennifer Lopez













Detective Tony Pazzini
















Gem Michaels

















Peter Redding
















Detective Simmons

















CHAPTER FOURTEEN


Pazzini sat behind his desk, blinking eyes that had gone blurry. He attempted again to focus on the overload of paperwork. What a night. The murder at County was one he knew would be eating at him for a while. Bizarre cases always did. He suddenly felt much older than his forty-two years.

But being a cop was what he knew best. He lived for the job and his son, Luke. And the job took away from time with his kid. It wouldn’t be so hard if Anna were still here. But she wasn’t, and even with the help of his parents, he still felt he was in some way cheating Luke.

He took a large gulp of Coke and a sharp spear of burning acid shot through his stomach. Pazzini instantly regretted the decision to put jalapenos and onions on the hot dog he’d devoured earlier, after wrapping the hospital crime scene.

The stress of the job, plus the onions and hot peppers—which in all honesty, he could never get enough of—didn’t do much for the ulcer his doctor had warned him about. The burning sensation in his gut never left him alone these days. This morning it was much worse than usual.

“Jeez, Pazzini, what’d ya do? Hit Cotija’s Taco Shop last night?” Simmons taunted.

“Nah, wise ass. I had a dog with a heap of the good stuff on it.” He looked up from the paperwork and smoothed down his slightly wavy black hair, thinking he should probably comb it. He winced when his palms hit the back of his head. He could’ve sworn there had been more hair there a few months ago.

“Oh, man, that’ll do it every time. Wish I had some antacids for you. But I got a message instead.” Simmons winked at him, smacking on the tobacco chew Tony swore never left the side of his cheek. His stained teeth substantiated that theory.

“What’s that?” Tony asked, irritated by Simmons’ twang, which could only come from a cowboy wannabe. Simmons swore he was Texas born and raised. It was his story, but Tony knew the truth. He was really from Nebraska. Tony stared at the idiot for a few seconds, his annoyance growing at Simmons’ ridiculous overgrown goatee that was eons out of date. It wouldn’t hurt if he trimmed his shoulder length hair and took the earring out as well. Freaking Rhinestone Cowboy. Please.

“Boss man wants to see you, dude.”

“Dude? Seriously Simmons, you gonna catch some waves now?”

Simmons ignored him, “What d’ya do now, Paz?”

“Hey, dude, shut the hell up. Don’t call me Paz. It’s Pazzini. I can spell it for you if you like.”

Simmons held up his hands. “Hey, man, sorry. You know, no offense. Didn’t know it bugged you. Note to self.”

Tony nodded and slid out of his desk chair, heading toward his boss’s office.

“Dragging your feet a little, aren’t ya?” Simmons laughed.

That stopped the exhausted detective in his tracks. He faced Simmons. “Dude, this isn’t Texas, Nebraska, or Bum Fuck Egypt. This is L.A., and in case you hadn’t noticed, it’s you, not ya. And another thing, do you think you could lose the look? Your look? It went out with disco.”

Simmons abruptly stormed out of the room lined with desks and detectives. The place reminded Tony of a classroom, except it was far more cluttered, and instead of sweaty kids, it smelled of sweaty adults and stale air. At the moment, only a few actual detectives were sitting at their desks, mulling over reports, doing the tedious work. They had all stopped to watch the scene.

“Oh come on, Pazzini, sure the kid is an odd duck but do you have to be such a hard ass?” Barkley commented. He was an older detective who had been on the force for thirty years and was inching close to retirement.

“I just think people should be who they really are. FYI, Simmons isn’t even from Texas. He’s from fucking Nebraska!” Tony yelled back as he reached the chief’s office. Barkley was probably right. Maybe he was being too hard on Simmons, but he was exhausted and his nerves were on edge.

Standing outside Linden’s door, he couldn’t help the pang in his stomach, which he knew wasn’t entirely due to his earlier lunch. Pretty much every time he stepped into this office, his boss had a bone to pick with him. Usually, Tony had to admit, the chief was right. He had a hot button and had been known to rough up a few dope dealers and scumbags here and there. Linden always covered his ass, but not before he tore him a new one. But Pazzini couldn’t think of anything he’d done lately to warrant the usual warning…unless it had to do with Dr. Morales. He might have been a little rough on her, but he would have figured her too tough to call in a complaint about him. In any case, he’d just been doing his job. But had he pushed the doctor too hard? He didn’t think she was a killer, but those questions had to be asked. Then again, beauty could blind people from the truth. And Kelly Morales was definitely good looking.

He turned the handle on the door and peered inside Linden’s cramped quarters. The office reminded him of his grandfather’s fishing cabin up in the Sierras. At least in the way it smelled—musty, old.

Linden lifted his head up off his desk. His blue eyes were bloodshot.

“Hey, boss. Simmons said you wanted to see me.”

“Yeah. Sorry. I’m getting some shut-eye. Tired these days.” He rubbed his bleary eyes. “Think I’m fighting a flu bug. Carol is home with it.”

“That’s too bad.” Tony didn’t buy the flu thing at all.

“Anyhow, I wanted you in here because I need to know what happened at the hospital last night. I’m getting some heat from upstairs and from the mayor’s office. That sort of thing. Hospital people are upset, and the CEO over there is going nutso. I got some broad calling me every hour asking if there’s any news. I told her as soon as I know something, I’d give her a ring. And I don’t even want to talk about the media. That pain in the ass Gem Michaels from The Times has been calling about a statement and information.”

Tony tried not to smile. Gem was a tough as nails reporter, and she could be a pain but Tony liked her. She was honest. No hype. Just the facts.

“Not good, Chief.”

Tony sat down in the cracked vinyl chair across from his boss. Kind of a joke, really. The only reason the guy still had any real power was because his dad was good buddies with the commissioner. It wasn’t a secret Linden was burnt out. However, he still did merit some respect. At one time, he’d been one of the finest. He’d solved more homicides than anyone else on the force. But then he was shot while on duty and now could walk only with the help of a cane. That explained the ever-present alcohol—self-medication. He’d been put behind a desk and Tony knew it had nearly killed him.

“Any suspects?” Linden asked, the faint smell of whiskey wafting off of him.

Tony took note of the coffee cup resting on Linden’s desk and wondered what was really in it. “Nothing out of the ordinary. I’m checking into the usual things. The ex-wife, colleagues, friends, anyone associated with him who might hold a grudge. Nothing stands out at the moment.”

“No one saw anything?”

“No one coming forward, anyway. We’re still questioning people, obviously. This is going to take some time, sir.”

“We don’t have time, Pazzini. You’re telling me no one in that entire hospital spotted anything out of the ordinary? Some doc gets rubbed out in the middle of a busy hospital like County, and no one sees a thing?”

“He wasn’t in the middle of the hospital, sir. He was in the morgue, and I don’t think it’s quite as bustling as the rest of the building. I’m working on it. If anyone did see anything, they aren’t talking yet. Forensics is still over there this morning. I just received a roster of everyone who was working during those hours. But like I said, this is going to take time. We are questioning everyone. Then there were visitors in the building until eight o’ clock. We need to look at the sign-in sheets. At this point, the killer could be anyone. Oh, and we’re also checking all security cam footage.”

Linden rubbed his eyes again. He looked wiped out…or very hung over.

“What we know, or can surmise at this point, is the suspect was alone and locking up for the evening. The morgue is on the bottom floor of the hospital. The perp came from behind and zapped him with a silencer. Then slit his throat. Our big problem is how many people are in and out of that place daily—dead or alive. DNA is everywhere. It’s a hospital. The crime scene was contaminated before we even walked in the door.”

Linden nodded and leaned back in his chair. He folded his hands together and placed them under his chin. “You spoke with a woman doctor.” He looked down at some notes. “Dr. Morales? I understand she had a dinner date with the vic.”

“Yes.”

“Tell me about her.”

“Her story checks out. She was at the restaurant waiting for him. Busboy confirms seeing her. She claims they had some patients to discuss.”

Linden made a face. “What? This guy is the morgue man and she’s in the NICU. What patients could they have in common?”

“I would assume an infant...or mom. It happens. Maybe she needed to talk pathology with him. I don’t know. It seemed plausible to me.”

“Guy is taking her to Tuscany’s to talk business? He’s gonna fork over that kind of cash on a business meeting? I don’t buy it. He was looking to get a piece of ass.”

“I think he might have been looking in the wrong place,” Tony replied.

“Ice queen?”

“No. I think she’s respectable, is all. I think they were friends. Seems like there was a mutual attraction between them and if the poor guy hadn’t been killed, they may have wound up in a relationship. But at the stage they were at, it wasn’t happening yet.”

Linden studied him and clucked his tongue. “She must be a looker.” Tony didn’t respond.

Tony understood his boss’s implications. “Please. I am a professional. Dr. Morales answered my questions and was cooperative. That’s the bottom line.” He sighed and thought carefully about what he was going to say next. He wanted to prove to Linden he hadn’t been blinded by the doctor’s good looks. “I did get the feeling, though, that she could be hiding something.”

“Why do you say that?” Linden He picked up his mug and took a swig.

“Just a hunch, that’s all.”

“Yeah, well, you need to trust hunches. Sometimes gut reactions solve cases. Stay with her a little longer.” He sighed and rubbed his eyes again. “I want an arrest on this, Pazzini. And soon. My oldest kid just got accepted at USF. Place is not cheap. My youngest needs braces, and my wife wants to go on a European vacation. She seems to forget I’m not Donald Trump. And between us, I am ready to retire from this place. But before I do, I need to go out on a high note, if you know what I mean.”

“Right.”

“Get back to me as soon as you have something. I’ll make some calls, see if I can keep the politics at a minimum. You’re working with Simmons on this.”

“What?” Pazzini asked. “You’re kidding, right? You can’t do that to me. Come on…”

“Does it look like I’m kidding? You’re going to need a partner on this one.”

“I do my best work alone.”

“Not this time,” Linden said. “He’s a good cop. He’s a little different, but he’s sharp. You can tolerate his idiosyncrasies.”

Tony rolled his eyes and walked out of the office. “Damn,” he muttered under his breath. He had a front-page homicide with no real leads, and now he had to work side-by-side with the urban cowboy.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Chapter Thirteen of COVERT REICH

Since Thanksgiving is next week and I am already having issues with my jeans (I swear they must have shrunk in the wash), I am heading out to the YMCA where they are offering a ZUMBA class. I am sure I will be completely coordinated and and will not drop after three songs. I am positive. Wish me luck.

In the meantime, here is Chapter Thirteen of COVERT REICH

Have a wonderful weekend.

Cheers,
Michele

CHAPTER THIRTEEN


Kelly locked the house up behind her. She’d fed Stevie T and left a light on in the entry and kitchen since she planned to get home late. Her shift would start at nine and go for 12 hours. Leaving at 6:00am would give her enough time to visit her horse, and maybe get some perspective out on the trail.

The rich scent of earth, dew, and freshly cut hay hit her as she stepped out of her Land Rover. Nickers and whinnies echoed across the grounds from the equestrian center. It was breakfast time and the horses were definitely ready to eat. She knew her timing wasn’t the greatest, but it was the only time she had until the weekend to visit.

Kelly let out a low whistle as she walked down the barn aisle. A big bay mare popped her head out and turned to face Kelly. Sydney nickered a gentle hello. Kelly smiled. “I’m happy to see you, too.” In fact, she was more than just happy…she was relieved. Tears welled in her eyes. She was exhausted and reeling from Jake’s horrible death. This was the only place she could come and find peace, even if only for a short while.

“Hey big girl.” Kelly slid a hand down Syd’s face. She reached in her pocket and brought out the apple slices she’d prepped at home. Syd took it eagerly. “I hope this makes you feel a bit better about being late for breakfast.” Kelly knew it wasn’t kosher to take Sydney off her feed schedule, but she’d only be an hour behind by the time Kelly was finished with her.

She took Syd out, put her in the cross-ties, and quickly groomed her. After tacking the mare up and putting on her helmet and gloves, she led her out to the mounting block and got on. A few minutes later, Kelly and Syd were walking along at a leisurely pace on one of the back trails behind the equestrian center. Tree branches reached across the wide path, leaves blowing gently in the slight breeze. The sun shone strong overhead with only a puff of cloud here and there, dotting the powder blue sky. For the first time in 24 hours, Kelly felt like she could breathe again. And, more importantly, think.

In the 30 minutes it took her to arrive back at the center, Kelly had gone over the current situation multiple times. She needed to get a hold of the charts on the two other women who died like Lupe Salazar. Unfortunately, Jake had been her primary connection in the morgue. She really didn’t know the other pathologists well, and she had been out on the days those women came in. She may have a difficult time getting access to their charts. God she wished that Dr. Pearson was around. He was a far more amicable man to deal with than Pierce Brightman. Joe Pearson was a good doctor. He was nearing retirement so it was kind of surprising he was now on vacation. However, as a doctor and especially one who worked the NICU Kelly understood the pain one endured when a little one was lost, and Pearson had apparently lost two within a week.

She wondered if the chief had suggested Pearson take time off, as Eric had indicated. Brightman had been OBGYN on both Lupe Salazar’s case and one of the other young women. One thing was certain, she would need to speak with him. Amicable or not. Kelly knew she needed to have a chat with Brightman to get his take on all of this. Would he have the same strange reaction Jake had with her? The reaction Kelly was sure had gotten him killed. How much did she want to look into this? Paranoia was beginning to get the best of her.

However, there was right and there was wrong. And it was right to find out what had happened to Lupe so at the very least she could help Baby S. And then there was Jake.

Kelly played Jake’s conversation with her over and over in her mind. She thought about Lupe Salazar and Baby S and what the reports detailed. She would need to see if the other women and baby charts matched up in any way. Kelly sifted through her theories, most of which were conspiratorial and bizarre. But at the end of the trail, she was no further into making sense of anything, leaving her frustrated and confused.

She put Syd away and headed toward her car, when she spotted a familiar face—Dr. Tamara Swift, her vet. Tamara was tall, very thin with long blonde hair, which was always pulled back and tucked under a ball cap. She had warm hazel eyes and a golden glow, likely due to her time spent outdoors in the sun. If she hadn’t been a vet, Kelly was certain she could’ve made one heck of a volleyball player. The moment Kelly saw Tamara, an idea began to form. “Hey Tam,” she said, quickening her pace.

“Hey there.” Tamara took a step back. “Wow, Kel. You okay? You look a little…”

“I know,” Kelly said holding up her palms. “I can’t go into it right now. Um, but I need a favor.” Tamara had become more than just Kelly’s vet over the years, she was also a friend. Kelly had actually introduced the vet to her now husband who Kelly had interned with. She’d been in her wedding. They had barbeques together, drank wine, enjoyed each other’s company.

“Sure,” Tamara replied.

“It’s dicey.”

“How do you mean?”

“I need some blood work sent in for some tox reports.”

“Something wrong with Syd?”

“No,” Kelly replied.

“What are you talking about then?”

Kelly sighed. “Okay, I can’t go into details here, but if I can get you the blood, can you help me?” For a second she started to rethink her request. Could she get her friend into any trouble? Or worse, would she be putting her in any kind of danger? She shook her head. “You know what, Tam, never mind. It’s silly. I never…” Kelly closed her eyes and fought back tears.

Tamara put an arm around her. “Hey, hey, Kelly? What’s going on? It takes a lot to make you cry. Hell, I remember last year when you broke two of your ribs after Syd dumped you going over that double oxer?” Tamara pointed to the jump arena. Kelly couldn’t help but laugh. “No tears then, right? I mean you kept saying how you were fine and you could get right back on, until you nearly passed out.”

“That hurt like hell.” Kelly smiled.

“Okay, so what’s this all about?”

“I don’t really know to be honest with you.”

“Let’s start with why you want the tox reports.”

Kelly knew if she was going to ask Tamara for help on this, she owed it to her to tell her everything she did know.

“So, your friend Jake, the pathologist, he was murdered after he basically warned you there was something sinister that caused this girl’s death?”

Kelly nodded. “Yes.”

“What about the police? Did you tell the detective who interviewed you last night about any of this?”

“I told him we were going to meet and discuss some patient cases.”

“I don’t understand. Why didn’t you tell him about this?” Tamara asked.

“Because it sounds crazy, doesn’t it? The detective was kind of, I don’t know…not a jerk, but also not exactly gentle. I mean he was prying and asking things about my sex life.”

“Why?”

“He thought I was hooking up with Jake, I guess. Look, I know I need to tell the police, but I needed a sounding board first to hear me out and let me know if it is as crazy as it sounds.”

“It does sound a bit strange, but you’re a grounded person, Kelly. You’re a good and respected doctor. The police might find it odd, so I can understand where you’re coming from.”

“Do you see why I want some kind of proof there is something behind the deaths of these pregnant women, something that got Jake killed?”

“And you think the tox reports may show something more?”

Kelly shrugged. “After hearing Jake talk about this, I don’t know if I can trust the tests that were already run, and I don’t know if everything was done thoroughly. I mean inconclusive means simply that.”

Tamara nodded. “I’ll do it for you.”

“Please be careful. I have no clue what we’re dealing with.”

Tamara gave her a hug and said, “Hopefully, we’ll find out.”

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Chapter Twelve of Covert Reich

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week! Here is Chapter Twelve. Also, if you didn't get a chance to click over to the YouTube link to watch the book trailer, no worries. I have posted it here today. Those of you who know me, know that many of my books include a horse or two. Thisbook is no exception. :) Here it is:CHAPTER TWELVE video

Stunned, Kelly mindlessly flipped through the channels on her TV trying to find a distraction. But the only thing that seemed to help was her cat, Stevie T (short for Stephen Tyler). He was curled up on her lap, purring away. Kelly stroked the long yellow fur on the tabby whose only purpose in life was to sleep, eat, and soak up attention. She scratched behind his ears. “Wish I was you,” she said. The cat opened his green eyes slightly and let out a soft meow, likely in protest that Kelly had spoken. “Sorry.”

She finally settled on HRTV to watch some horse racing. Horses were in her blood. She had been around them all her life, and even had one—Sydney, a mare—that she kept at the LA Equestrian Center. She tried to ride at least three days a week, when her busy schedule permitted.

Kelly had been born in Puerto Rico where her father worked as a groom and breezing race horses in the hopes of becoming a jockey. An opportunity came along when she was three and Raul moved his family to Lexington, Kentucky. In Lexington, he was able to work his way up from grooming race horses to training them. Now he trained and managed his own small stable. With any luck, he could end up with a future winner in his barn.

As a teen, Kelly breezed horses on the track before dawn. She’d thought long and hard about vet school vs. medical school, but in the end, she knew healing humans would be easier on her than trying to heal animals. She’d always formed attachments more easily to animals than people. However, as she’d grown in her role as a pediatrician, she realized being a human doctor was as tough as she’d thought being a vet would be. Emotions were emotions and they could get the better of her if she let them.

This train of thought led her right back to Baby Salazar lying in the NICU, and then to Jake. She tried to focus on the race—mud flying everywhere under pounding hooves, spraying like bullets into the eyes of the jockeys and horses.

Jockeys were an interesting lot. They worked so hard to make weight. They did everything from working out, starving themselves, taking diet pills, and even using cocaine to sharpen their focus and reaction time. Cocaine addiction amongst jockeys was high. It was one of the things her father did not like about racing. He’d recently fired one of the best jockeys to come through his stable for drug use.

Addiction. It would have been so easy for Kelly to piece all of this together if Lupe Salazar had been addicted to something. Kelly could treat addiction. She would know exactly what she was dealing with and how to handle it.

She needed to figure out the missing pieces. But as the emotions of the day finally caught up with her, she began to shut down. As she listened to the announcer and pounding hooves on the TV, she dozed off. Tomorrow she would see what she could figure out. She would do what she always did when she needed answers—make an early morning visit to the L.A. Equestrian Center, and, if time permitted, take Sydney out for a short trail ride before work. Syd had a way of helping her see things in a different light. Now it was time for sleep.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chapter Eleven COVERT REICH

Here is Chapter Eleven of COVERT REICH my friends. This chapter involves one of my favorite characters in this book--Gem Michaels. To me Gem is savvy, fun, and the kind of woman I would want to be friends with. I hope you enjoy! Have a great Wednesday!

Cheers,
CHAPTER ELEVEN


Georgia Michaels—Gem for short—ran her fingers through her pixie cut, wondering how many grays were hidden beneath the Clairol Golden Blonde she’d been using since she was twenty-one and first spotted one of those nasty buggers. That was eighteen years ago, and she had no doubt the stress of raising two teenage boys—not to mention the strain of her job—had turned her hair snow white by now. There was a time, before she’d had the boys, when she’d wanted to become an international correspondent. But her hopes and dreams of interviewing and producing stories for CNN were dashed when her first son came along. She’d taken mothering as seriously as she’d taken anything in her life, and although Austen hadn’t been planned, she’d fallen in love with him at first site and loved being a mom.

But kids grow up, divorces happen, and finances dwindle. For the past few years, she’d gotten back into reporting and her dreams were alight again with possibilities for the future. Probably too middle-aged and not pretty enough to be on television, but she still had brains and brawn, and could sniff out a good story and hunt down information like nobody’s business.

Gem stared at the computer screen in front of her. Deadline, deadline, deadline. Jesus, it’s just another homicide. Write the damn thing, and get it to Stu before he hunts you down.

But God it was hard getting back into the swing of things. Gem had just returned from a week in Puerto Vallarta. Finally! Vacation. With a handful of forty-something divorcees drinking a shit-load of margaritas and eating way too much good food. Five pounds heavier and craving salt, lime, and tequila…the last thing Gem wanted to do right now was her job.

Homicide, schmomicide. They were all the same. So-and-so was killed at such-and-such location, by whomever using whatever—if they even knew that much. At least this one had some intrigue to it. It wasn’t the typical boy-meets-girl, fall in love, girl falls out of love, boy goes psycho and blows her brains out story. No. This time one of the top pathologists in the state had been offed right in the middle of County Hospital. Whoever toasted this guy was a total nut job or at least had some real balls. Or was some kind of hired hand. Maybe the doctor owed the wrong people some cash? Could be anything.

Gem was checking into the ex-wife. From what she’d heard, the split between Dr. Hamilton and his ex had been messy. The wife made off with most of his money and was living large. Of course the death of her ex meant those alimony checks were going to stop rolling in. On the other hand, if she had an insurance policy on the doc, or if he had failed to change his beneficiary over on an existing policy, well, then…that could certainly be reason enough for murder.

Or maybe it wasn’t about money. Gem had done enough checking into this thing to discover Dr. Hamilton had eyes for a pretty pediatrician who ran the neo-natal intensive care unit at County—a Dr. Morales. Gem wondered who had instigated the divorce between the Hamiltons. The ex could have a whopping jealous streak.

She looked at the blank screen that stared unforgivingly back at her. One would think this wouldn’t be a problem to write. This was her place, her people. Noises from the newsroom, people dashing about, crazed writers high on caffeine or nicotine (or both) typing away as their minds raced at a clip their bodies could certainly never keep up with, always poised to pounce on the next big story...Jesus, she should be able to write this story in her sleep.

Big story. This one had the feel to it, like a lion hiding in his den waiting to come out for the hunt. The photo of the guy was really all she had at the moment other than the usual rumor and conjecture from a handful of hospital employees—all filled with speculation. She had insiders at the police station, but the strange thing was, no one was talking. At all. The cops had given a brief statement, and that was it. Detective Pazzini, who Gem thought was a decent cop and a helluva good-looking one, told the media once forensics was finished investigating, the press would receive clearance from the hospital and get a detailed report. Great. A lot of good that did her right now.

Her phone buzzed and snapped her back to the here and now. “Yeah?”

“It’s Goldman.” She cringed. It was her boss, Stuart Goldman. “How’s your story coming? About finished? It’s a front pager. We have to go to press in a couple of hours.”

“Just about. Without the police saying much, it’s a little on the light side.”

“Well, you have to give me something. This guy was an important member in the community. Loved and respected. Go on that.”

“Right,” she replied, holding out her hands and looking at the light pink, chipped polish on her fingernails. The call from the boss was the motivation she’d needed. Gem turned off everything else around her and went to work, pounding out the best story she could. Once finished, she opened up her e-mail and attached the story to send to Goldman. She buzzed his office and let him know it was on the way.

Before heading out for the evening, she figured she’d better take a look and see if she had anything interesting in her inbox. She really was back now. E-mails aplenty. Her numero uno rule while down in Mexico was no computer and no cell phone.

Ah. L.A. was too far from Puerto Vallarta.

She scrolled down and saw the typical story pitches, lots of forwards from her book club friends, who she had consistently asked to stop sending her those damn jokes and chain letters. There was a short e-mail from her mom reminding her to make reservations early for her and the boys to fly back to New York for Christmas. The usual stuff. Except…one e-mail caught her eye. It was from ChemMadderhorn@gmail.com. At first she figured it was one of those skanky ads for Viagra or Cialis. God knew she received a ton of those, even with the filters on, but it was the subject line that grabbed her. “Your Neighbor, Chad.”

She opened the e-mail and read the short note. Watch your neighbor. Three years ago, San Diego, Ca., Petersen family.

“Oh my God,” she heard herself whisper. “What is this?” She knew about the Petersen family. Everyone in Southern California and pretty much in the U.S. had heard of them. And Gem had met her neighbor, Chad. But there was no way he’d been connected to that grisly, horrible crime. No way. She went to delete the e-mail, thinking it was some sick joke, but something held her back—her gut, her instinct, her sixth sense. She wasn’t sure what, but she closed her e-mail and opened her documents on the Petersen family.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Chapter Ten of COVERT REICH

I finally finished the book last night! I am sooooo happy. Right now I have three readers doing a read through for anything I missed or messed up on. I know I keep moving the date back on releasing the book but I want it to be as good as it possibly can be (especially after some of the lashings I received in UK amazon reviews for Mommy, May I? Yeah--remember that bad? When I uploaded a first draft version by mistake. Face palm! Big time! Word to the wise--when you name your files make sure it's really clear which draft it is.

So, until I get the book out I am continuing to upload chapters. Hope you are enjoying.

DISCLAIMER * This chapter (book) is rated R and is not suitable for audiences under 17. :)

Have a wonderful Tuesday.

Michele
A.K. Alexander



CHAPTER TEN


Mark Pritchett loved watching the pretty doctor. Everyone loved watching pretty Dr. Morales. But he was by far the most skilled at watching without her ever knowing. Hell, he’d been watching her long before he’d gotten word only a few hours earlier to keep an eye on her.

That’s who he was—a watcher.

He couldn’t wait until he got the go-ahead to take care of her. They would want that, wouldn’t they? The Brotherhood wouldn’t just want him to keep an eye on her and then do nothing about it.

Mark wanted so badly to prove himself to The Brotherhood. He was tired of being a peon. He was worthy of so much more. He could do so much more for the cause. He knew he could. If only they’d give him the chance.

For now, Mark would bide his time. It wasn’t as if his assignment was a bad one. Keeping an eye on certain docs was easy, and he’d been doing a damn fine job of it. Watching them and reporting back in. Smooth as silk. He knew he should be happy they trusted him. There were not many of them who had been placed in a position like this. Out of all of the guys who could have been chosen, they’d chosen him.

There had been a handful of doctors on his list to watch, and then he was told to watch Dr. Morales. Closely. He’d about split a nut. She was gorgeous. But an ice-cold bitch. Like they all were. Women. From his mother to his fat-assed sister to the ex-girlfriend he should have killed for being the most annoying, pain in the ass on Earth.

Then there was Dr. Morales. Kelly…

Damn, he would have loved to see her face when the bad-ass detective told her about Hamilton. Priceless. He wondered what Hamilton had done to get himself iced. One thing he knew for sure was when you fucked with The Brotherhood, they didn’t mess around. Obviously.

Mark snuck inside a supply room and stuck his hand inside his elastic-waist pants, wrapping his palm around his already hard cock. He looked down. The tattoo above his navel made him smile—his identity.

Everything that swastika stood for, he stood for.

Thinking about the various ways he would destroy Dr. Morales excited him. He tightened his grip and moved his hand faster. Little Miss Big Shot doctor. Now that would be something, wouldn’t it? That would really be proving himself. Death. Murder. Yes. With the good doctor, he would look right into her eyes. He would make it a slow, torturous. A begging-for-mercy kind of thing. He would so enjoy that.

He thought more about Dr. Morales and the things he was going to do to her. It was pure ecstasy. He leaned against the wall, slid down to the floor, and finished himself off. He couldn’t wait much longer. But waiting was a must because Mark knew no matter how bad he was, the people he worked for were far worse.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chapter Nine of COVERT REICH and New Book Trailer

Happy Monday! I think there should be three day weekends. Two days is just not enough. But it is only two days, so I am back to work and I am sure you are as well. I have the draft of the new book trailer of COVERT REICH now available. Hope you will check it out and let me know your thoughts. Here is the link. Once it goes permanently live I will cut and paste into the blog and on my site. http://youtu.be/iGkcXr8og-c

And, here is Chapter Nine of the book. As I promised, I will keep uploading new chapters until the book becomes available. At this rate you might get the entire book before I can have it exactly the way I want it. Just kidding. It will be out before Thanksgiving and I am hoping readers will purchase for their e-readers or order the paperback. As mentioned before this book is an adult book! There is a lot of violence, a lot of swearing from some very evil characters, and it is never my intention as a writer to offend. Therefore, if this kind of thriller is not your thing then please pick up a Nikki Sands book or my novel Happy Hour. They are all light, fun, and with no real violence, swearing and all that stuff.

Have a wonderful Monday.

Cheers,
Michele

CHAPTER NINE


Redding sat back in the plush leather seat inside the chartered jet, waiting for take off. He swirled the ice around in his scotch and soda. He was headed back home, his work done in Germany. Hopefully. Something worried him about Horner though. He couldn’t put a finger on it. Other than the chemist still hadn’t produced what they wanted. They were on a timeline. Next year was an election year and it was vital to stay on schedule. Would Horner be able to get the job done? Redding sensed the guy was struggling. Maybe losing it. Peter sighed heavily. There were always going to be problems with a project like this. It was staying on top of the problems that mattered. Staying organized.

He remembered his father—Tim Redding. The Reddings had adopted him when he was three –years old and George had loved him and been an amazing teacher. He was the one who had explained the order of things. “You have to keep your soldiers in line, Petie. Here is the thing: when fighting a war—and trust me, we are fighting a war—you have your minions down on the bottom. Now they may not seem all that important. But they are. They’re like fleas—they can be disposed of and most easily replaced within the ranks. But the problem is, they can also be broken down the easiest by the enemy. They will almost always talk when push comes to shove, so it’s very important to be sure you have a solid foundation.

“Next are your henchmen. These guys recruit the minions. Minions do little jobs. You can control their minds. Henchmen do more difficult jobs. They have to be discrete, trustworthy. Then there are the helpers. They are your confidantes and partners. Then there’s you—the leader, son. You are a leader.”

Peter took a sip from his drink. “Yes, Dad, I am,” he muttered. His cell phone rang. It was a henchman calling. A very important henchman with very important connections. Connections who put a lot of money into Frauen Pharmaceuticals and Peter’s back pocket.

“Our little problem taken care of?” Peter asked.

“Yes, sir.”

“Good.” He leaned back in his leather chair and sighed. “And the girlfriend?”

“I don’t think she knows any more than what we heard, but we can’t be too sure.”

“No, we can’t. No loose ends. I want to know her every move.”

“Anything else, sir?”

“No. Money will be wired to your account. Good work.”

“Thank you, sir. Good night.”

Peter hung up the phone. The jet engine roared down the runway. Hamilton. The good doctor. A minion. Not one who believed in the cause, though. A minion by force, just like Horner. There were only a few of those who Peter kept a close eye on. They could ruin everything he’d worked so hard for. Everything his dad would have been so proud of. Men like Hamilton and Horner scared him, but he needed them—or guys like them. Hamilton was easy to dispose of. Dumb fuck should’ve realized his office would be wired. Horner was another story. Once the job was finished on the chemist’s end, Peter would feel much better when they’d gotten rid of him.

He took another long sip off his drink. He didn’t like setbacks and these bumps in the road were definitely setbacks. This Dr. Morales better not be a problem. He didn’t want to have her killed, too. He didn’t need a body count adding up. Body counts alerted cops and cops sniffing around anything was never good. The Hamilton case would never be solved. The henchman who had taken care of the doctor was good at taking care of problems. He’d proven it when he had been involved with the Petersen fiasco. The young man had orchestrated the whole thing. A job well done.

But God how Redding had hated all of that bad business, however, he’d soon realized that when Andrew Petersen had blown him off that he would need to make a strong and definite impression on his next victim—Dr. Horner. Yes, the young man had done a nice job there, and now with getting rid of Hamilton he’d once again proven he had the grit to get things done. His name was Chad Wentworth and he was vital to the cause at the moment. He had connections Redding had tapped into. Nice political connections. And to think Chad had been discovered guarding the double doors outside The Brotherhood meeting in Valencia only four years ago. He had come a long way. And so had Chad’s major connection. Redding smiled and held his drink in the air, cheering himself.

“So fuck it,” he said aloud. “Fuck it! This little setback is good for the character.” However, Redding knew any setback—minor or major—was not good for this project. Peter hated problems and loose ends. Hopefully Dr. Morales would keep her nose out of things. She would be much better off that way. The lights flickered from the city below, growing more distant as the plane reached cruising altitude. The alcohol began to ease tension from his shoulders and from his mind. But he couldn’t relax completely. He knew too many casualties would quickly alert the calvary, and the goddamn calvary was not invited to this war, because Peter Redding was determined to win.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Chapter Eight

Today Alex and I race up to LA (the word race should make you laugh if you know Southern California Freeways at all). It typically takes us three hours up and three hours back on a Friday. It just is what it is. However, the good news is that he is doing very well. The bad news is, I am still trying to finish the last minute edits on the book. Should be next week.

Here is Chapter 8 of COVERT REICH. Hope you enjoy!

Kelly was now following the man toward a private room to talk. Following the detective. Tony Pazzini. Her heart raced and every nerve pumped adrenaline. He still hadn’t told her anything other than he needed to speak with her in private. However, her gut told her what was coming.


This was about Jake. It had to be.

As they headed down the hall, they passed an orderly who dropped a handful of charts. Kelly bent down to help pick them up. The detective grabbed her arm. “I think he can handle that.”

“I was only trying to help.”

He touched her shoulder. “I understand but what we need to discuss is important.”

She turned to him, hands on her hips. “I’m not going any further until I know what this is about.” She needed to know. She needed to hear it.

“Look, I just need to ask you some questions. I’d like to do it in private.”

Anger, fear, and confusion stirred a vicious brew inside her. Kelly was terrified of what he was about to tell her. She nodded.

“Follow me.”

Once inside the doctor’s lounge, she turned and faced him, crossing her arms. “Okay. Now can you tell me what is going on here?”

“Did you have an appointment with Dr. Jake Hamilton this evening?”

“I did. We were supposed to have dinner together.”

“He didn’t show up,” the detective stated.

Kelly closed her eyes for a second. “No. I was on my way downstairs to see him when you came off the elevator.” Beads of perspiration formed on her top lip.

“I am sorry, but Dr. Hamilton was found murdered about an hour ago.”

Blood drained from her face as her stomach twisted into a knot that made her want to vomit, leaving a sour burn in the back of her throat. She gagged from the wine that came back up. Her hands shook, and a cold descended upon her, chilling her whole body. The detective reached out and took her elbow as she collapsed onto the yellow sofa. She put her face in her palms, too stunned to cry. Too stunned to think.

Only one thought came to mind: She was the reason Jake was dead.

She knew that with the most painful certainty.

The detective poured her a glass of water. “Do you think you can answer a few more questions for me?” he asked. “I’m sorry to do this now, but it’s necessary.”

She nodded. “I’ll try.”

“Okay. Thank you. So, you did plan to meet with Dr. Hamilton this evening?”

“I did.” She was tearing up again.

“What time was your dinner set for?”

“Seven-thirty,” she answered, barely audible.

“Where were you meeting?” He jotted a note down on his pocket pad.

“Tuscany’s.”

“Was this a date?”

“No. Dr. Hamilton and I were friends.” Her gaze fell to the ground. She didn’t want him to know she had considered the possibility of being more, but now…

“So you were not romantically involved with Dr. Hamilton?”

She hesitated. “No I just told you that it wasn’t a date.” She took a sip of her water and ran her fingers through her light brown hair. She eyed him. He’d hit a hot button. He gave her a weak smile. “We planned to meet for dinner because we needed to discuss some patient cases we were working on.”

“A dinner date to discuss business, then?” He decided to ignore the edge in her answer.

“Yes. Some patients, as I said.”

“Did you plan on going home with him?”

She frowned. “No. That actually had not crossed my mind, Detective.” Heat was rising in her face.

“Were you sexually involved with Dr. Hamilton?”

She frowned, her eyes narrowing. “I am not that kind of woman, and I don’t see the relevance to that sort of questioning. I told you, he was a colleague and a friend.”

“I’m working a murder case. Everything is relevant. I don’t judge what kind of woman you are, Doctor. Honestly. I am only trying to establish facts. Friends and colleagues can mean one thing to one person and a something else to another. And then once you quantify it as a relationship, we are at another level.”

“What are you, a detective or a relationship expert?”

This got a slight laugh out of him. “Well, actually, in my line of business you become a little bit of everything, I guess.”

She frowned. “I still don’t understand your questions.”

He paused for a second. “I’m gonna lay it on the line.”

“I wish you would.”

“When I have a murder case, I have to flesh everything out. I’m sure you can appreciate that. And the thing is, I can’t discount anything. Many times these cases wind up being crimes of passion or at least the victim knew the assailant.”

She crossed her arms, the frown on her face deepening. “Wait a minute, are you suggesting I murdered Jake?” She let out a soft cry. “Oh my God! As I said our relationship was a friendship and one of mutual respect. I liked him. I liked him a lot.” The tears welled in her eyes again. ”He was an excellent doctor and a decent man. He was also my friend.” She wiped her face with the back of her hand, and tried hard to contain her emotion. “We were not intimate. We’ve never been. I don’t know where things were headed, Detective. But what I can tell you is there is no way in hell I killed Jake.” She shook her head vehemently.

“Hey, I’m sorry if I offended you. I am only doing my job. What do you say we get back to the questions and I can let you go home?”

“Fine. Ask away.”

“Where were you between seven-fifteen and eight-fifteen this evening?”

“I left the hospital, drove to the restaurant, and waited there for Jake. When he didn’t show up, I came back here. I think you know the rest.” She stated it matter-of-factly and wiped the last of her tears away.

“Can someone verify they saw you at the restaurant?”

“I assume so. A hostess seated me. A waiter waited on me.”

“Okay, good.”

“Are we finished? I would really like to go home now.”

“Yes. I’ll probably need to speak to you again. Some time tomorrow. I may have more questions.”

“I will be here.” She left after that, holding back more tears, choking back emotion, feeling harassed, and convinced she had in some way caused her friend’s murder.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Waiting and Waiting...What Would You Do?

Have you ever been stood up? You know--you wait and wait for someone at a restaurant and the other person never shows. You might order a glass of wine to kill the time. You call the person's cell phone and they don't answer. Has this ever happened to you? If so, do you worry, get mad, feel miserable thinking that the person doesn't like you? Well, in this next chapter of COVERT REICH Kelly is waiting for Jake. If you read yesterday's chapter then you know that Jake is not going to show. He has been brutally murdered.

I am still tweaking and fixing and doing some revising to this book, but I will keep posting the chapters daily until I get the book out there.

Hope you enjoy!

CHAPTER SEVEN


Kelly finished her Chardonnay and glanced around for any sign of Jake. None. She wasn’t a big drinker, but after his strange behavior, she’d had a feeling the wine might calm her nerves. He was fifteen minutes late already, and her patience was running thin. A voice inside told her something was wrong, but she pushed the thought out of her mind and took another sip of the wine. She would give him ten more minutes. She’d called his cell phone twice already, but it’d gone straight to voicemail. Jake almost always picked up so either his battery had died or…something else had kept him.

She thought about their discussion earlier. He was a straight shooter—not evasive and not one to play games. But this felt like a game to her, and she didn’t like it at all. She would’ve never left the hospital to meet him for dinner if she’d known he was going to blow her off. It was so unlike him. And because it was so unlike him, she knew something was terribly wrong. The sinking feeling in her stomach worsened. Five more minutes ticked away, and she decided to pay for the wine and head back to the hospital. Once in the car, she tried to reach Jake again by cell phone. She drove by his house, only a few minutes from the hospital. No lights were on and his car wasn’t in the driveway. Good. Maybe he was still at the hospital, and he could explain what was going on. She wasn’t leaving until he told her everything. Whatever everything was. Clearly when he’d said this was dangerous, he’d gotten her attention. What the hell could be so dangerous it would cause him to be so adamant and upset?

She pulled into the hospital parking lot and scanned it before getting out of her car. Her days at USC had taught her one could never be too careful. Walking toward the building, she noticed there were several police cars out front. She shook her head. Must’ve been another gang-related shooting or something.

With steeled determination, she headed to the elevator. Jake was obviously avoiding her, and she wasn’t going to put up with that. He’d better be there because she planned to give him a piece of her mind. How could he drop a bombshell and not show up to explain everything?

She would find out why he had stood her up if it killed her.

There was a noticeable buzz filling the halls, a surreal tension. Something was out of whack. She spotted another policeman by the elevator. Kelly stopped an intern passing by who was reading over a report on his clipboard. “Hey. What’s going on? Why all the police? Something major happening in the ER?”

He studied her for a second, his silence indicating he was deciding whether or not she was entitled to know. She flashed her credentials from the chain around her neck. His eyes widened. “Oh sorry, Doctor. I didn’t realize you were staff.” She nodded. “No. It’s not in the ER. I don’t know exactly what’s up, but rumor has it there was a murder downstairs.”

“What? Downstairs as in the morgue?”

“Yes.”

Kelly’s breathing changed, her body tensing. “Who?”

He shrugged and looked back down at his clipboard. “Sorry, I don’t know. I have a patient waiting.”

“Yeah, sure.” Her racing thoughts took a giant turn for the worse. She tried hard to push them away, but they wouldn’t budge.

She headed toward the elevator. Before she could ask the officer what was going on, the doors opened. A man with dark hair and piercing brown eyes stepped out. He glanced at Kelly. He straightened his navy and teal striped tie against his button down. “Excuse me?” she said.

He looked at her. “Yes?”

“I’m a doctor here on staff.” She showed him her ID. “Could you tell me what has happened?”

“Dr. Morales.”

“Yes,” she said.

“You’re exactly who I’ve been looking for.”

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Chapter Six

I will be short and sweet today as I am working through last minute copy edits on this book! So, without further ado, I hope you enjoy Chapter Six of COVERT REICH.

Cheers,
Michele

CHAPTER SIX


Jake glanced at his watch. He was running late to meet Kelly. Shit. Why was he so easy to read? He couldn’t lie to her. She was so damn on top of it. It was one of the things he liked about her, but at this moment, her intellect wasn’t making things easy. She was involved now whether she knew it or not, and he’d have to find a way to protect her.

Well, he could just not tell her the truth. That was one idea. But then what would he tell her? And how would he convince her he wasn’t lying? Her bullshit meter was too sensitive for that. It was an impossible situation. There was one thing Jake knew for sure, though: the people behind all of this were bad. Really, really bad. What choice did he have? Kelly would be relentless until she got the truth out of him. He knew that. Hell, maybe he even needed her help. Letting her in might be a good thing. Maybe there was a way the two of them could work together, figure out exactly who these people were.

Figuring out what to do about it once they knew, however, would be another story entirely.

Jake picked up the picture of his daughter again and traced the outline of her face with his fingertip. “Oh Beth, what have I gotten myself into?” He remembered a time when his little girl had complete and total faith in him, trusted him implicitly. Daddy could do no wrong. But if she knew how much danger he had put her in, she’d hate him. No. He could not tell Kelly. He would have to think of something. Send her down a dead-end path. The threats they had made about what they would do to his daughter if he breathed a single word to anyone made him shake.

He set the photo down, determined to come up with a story to pacify Kelly. He took his coat from the back of the chair and pulled it on. He walked across the hall to shut the lights off in the morgue. Ty had already gone home for the day. He glanced around the room to make sure everything was status quo and flipped the switch. “My briefcase,” he said out loud. He couldn’t forget that. His mind was not working the way it usually did. He was consumed by the mess he was in. He had to find a way out of it. Get back on track. This place and this situation were going to eat him alive.

He had to find a way out.

He took another step back towards his office, totally unprepared for the blow to his head.

He hadn’t heard a thing, but now a warm sensation oozed down his back, the pain immense as he collapsed to the ground. A groan escaped from between his lips. His head smacked hard against the cold floor, making a loud thud. He tried to pick himself up, only to collapse again. The pain grew more intense with each labored breath. His vision blurred. He knew the warm blood trickling from the back of his neck would soon run cold.

They knew. God damn it. They knew he’d talked.

Oh God, Kelly.

His daughter!

He prayed someone would find him before he died. He had to get to her before they did. Impossible, though.

Footsteps along the floor, passing him. “Really fucking stupid. At least for your sake, we decided you are dispensable, my friend. If you weren’t, I’d be killing your kid right now. Lucky for her.”

Jake felt another sharp pang beginning on one side of his neck traveling across to the other. The pain numbed with the realization his throat had been cut. He attempted to bring his hands up to stop the bleeding. No chance.

He closed his eyes. An image of his daughter flashed through his mind.

Then nothing.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

If We Could All Just Get Along... &Chapter Five of Covert Reich

Hatred and intolerance is a world-wide evil. We don't live in a world where we all "just get along." Wouldn't that be nice? Think of it. If human beings allowed other human beings to be, as long as no one was hurting anyone. People and our governments around the world have been destroying various cultures and races since the beginning of time for either religious reasons, political reasons, greed, power, race, and sex. I know that I wake up everyday and am grateful that as a woman I was born in this country. I can not even imagine the duress that so many women in the world survive under.

It's this type of hatred and the people who govern and fuel it that the theme of COVERT REICH is based on. However, on the flip side the book is also about those people in the world ready to fight against ignorance and intolerance. It is a story that comes down to the basic good vs. evil. Here is Chapter Five. I hope you enjoy!

Cheers,
Michele

CHAPTER FIVE


After another sleepless night, Ryan decided to get up at 5:00 a.m. and head to the lab. If they were watching, they’d see how dedicated he was. And most importantly, they’d hopefully assume the brain washing had worked and he—good, all-American white boy—had truly joined their ranks.

He’d been watching his back. He had to. If The Brotherhood knew his background and his true feelings, Ryan knew what they could do. He had to act as if he had been converted.

How he hated these men and what they stood for. How he hated himself. He was a white man. A goddamned white man.

A goddamned white man raised in a good home by good people. His father was a teacher, his mother a nurse, and their best friends were the Martins. The Martins always had a little more money than the Horners, but that didn’t matter to Ryan or his parents because the Martins were cool, decent people who were gracious, kind, and fun to be around. And although they might have had it better than Ryan’s family, in some ways the Martins had it worse. The Martins were black.

Darnell Martin was Ryan’s best friend, and Darnell’s sister, Tonya, had been his first real girlfriend.

Then life happened.

The Martins moved to Aspen. The Horners stayed in Boston. Ryan went to BU. Darnell to UCLA. Ryan became a chemist and Darnell went into politics. They remained friends, but life carried them in different directions. Boy had it ever. Ryan shook his head as he sped down the immaculate four-lane highway, trying to erase the memories. He could never contact Darnell now. If he did, they would know.

And they knew everything. They had him by the short hairs. Ryan sighed heavily with memories of his old friend and his old life pervasive in his head. He pulled into the garage at Frauen Pharmaceuticals—a privately owned company based in Germany with headquarters in Los Angeles. Frauen had some very influential investors, and was an up and comer in the women’s pharmaceuticals market. They produced pills for menopause, anxiety, depression; they were even working on a Viagra-like pill that would heighten sexuality for women. But Ryan didn’t develop any of those drugs. Not by a long shot.

He parked the Audi and got out his pass key. After getting through security, he went up to his office, and then into the lab where he stopped in his tracks.

“Good morning, Ryan.”

It was Peter Redding. Redding was the CEO of Frauen Pharmaceuticals. He was also much, much more.

“Good morning, Mr. Redding. I didn’t know you were flying in.”

A crooked smiled spread across Redding’s face. His blue eyes held an unpleasant light. Ryan was pretty certain the man was Satan himself. He was handsome, by most people’s standards. Peter was of average height, but well built. He obviously spent a lot of time in the gym. Redding was probably closer to fifty than forty, but it didn’t show. His salt and pepper hair sparkled under the fluorescent lights. “I came to see you. Only you. Come with me.”

Ryan’s stomach sank. They had found out. They knew about the e-mail.

“What’s this about, sir?”

“I will explain in my office.”

Ryan’s stomach twisted. Wished he’d gone in and kissed the twins’ cheeks goodbye that morning. Oh God. The twins. Jeanine! What if they were there now, with them? What if they were hurting his family? Killing them? The memory of Frederick Färber holding a gun to his head while he witnessed the torture and murders of The Petersens vividly flashed in his mind. What if that bastard Färber was in his home? Sweat slicked his back. He thought he might throw up.

Redding opened two double-wide Mahogany doors and Ryan followed him inside. “Sit down,” Redding pointed to a chair at the conference table and picked up a TV remote, turning on a screen in front of them.

Ryan closed his eyes for a second, knowing what was coming next. His stomach sank.

“Do you see this, Horner?”

Ryan opened in his eyes and a wave of relief hit him. It was a baby hooked up to all sorts of IV’s and monitors. He nodded and with trepidation answered, “Yes.”

“And how about this?”

A young woman—a girl really—Hispanic…dead on a slab.

“Yes.”

Redding turned off the TV. “This is not what I fucking want! This is not what we want, Horner! We want aborted fetuses, we want sterile women. Dead women alert people. They make people scratch their heads and wonder why, why, why?! This is fucked up! Do you understand what we are doing here? Do you?!”

“Yes, sir.” He tried to keep his hands from shaking.

“I am not sure you do.” Redding turned the TV back on and now the screen showed his beautiful wife in their kitchen drinking coffee. Then it changed to show his five years old daughters eating cereal in front of the TV in his family room.

“No,” he whispered.

“No what?”

They had cameras throughout his house. Why was he even surprised by this? “Please don’t hurt them.”

“I don’t want to, Ryan. I really don’t. You have a lovely wife. Cute kids. I like you. I heard you were the best. That’s why you got the job. And of course, Petersen turned it down.” He frowned and it was obviously forced. Redding paused a beat, then his frown turned upward into a wicked smile. “Yes. I like you and I am going to give you another chance to make things right. Fix it. Fix the problem. I have a fucking race to purify, and I can’t have people asking questions about dead girls. Isolate and fix the problem so you can continue to go home every night to your lovely wife and cute kids. Do you understand?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good. You have two weeks. Start testing those fucking rats and monkeys of yours and get me the results I want.”

Ryan looked up at the TV as Redding turned it off. His wife. His daughters. Ryan would do whatever Redding wanted. He would find a way.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Chapter Four of COVERT REICH and a New Recipe

Happy Monday! A few things--thank you to everyone who has asked about Alex. We are home and he is doing very well. His sister and I baked him a batch of chocolate chip cookies yesterday, which I think eased the pains some. Nothing like homemade cookies to put a smile on the face. I just downed two cookies myself and now my stomach is saying, "Um excuse me--that will go to your ass, you know?" Whatever. I will exercise more. Sure I will.

On another note I came to a sort of epiphany this past weekend. I received three of the nicest e-mails from readers that I have ever received. They were gracious and encouraging and it helped me realize that even though my books are for pure entertainment and escape that my work does touch people. Not everyone, but I will take the few that I know for sure my books help take someone out of their day to day stuff and be entertained for a bit. To extend my gratitude I am doing a couple of things. The first is I am keeping the .99 cent price point on all A.K. Alexander thrillers through the holidays for Kindle readers. My hope is that if you like my books that you would consider gifting the readers in your life a copy. You can't purchase too many gifts these days for under a buck! I am also gifting everyone who is signed up for my newsletter an e-read copy of DADDY'S HOME. If you are signed up for the newsletter expect to receive this gift via Amazon some time this week. If you are not signed up for my newsletter, it's easy. Just go to my site at http://www.michelescott.com/ where you can sign up for the quarterly newsletter.

Next, I have not added a recipe here in a bit, so I thought I would give you one that I put together last night. It was rainy and cold, so my youngest and I thought Chili sounded good. We had to do it wothout beans though because my husband does not eat beans. I guess you could either call this beanless chili or really it can also be called a Mexican Stew.

Ingredients:
One Leek stalk washed and chopped
Three cans of diced tomatoes
One packet of Chili seasonings (Schillings or Lawrys)
One red bell pepper diced
One green bell pepper diced
2 pounds stewing beef
4 slices of bacon
2 boxes of beef broth
One cup of red wine
Dash of salt
Dash of chipotle powder
Dash of ancho chili powder
Emeril's hamburger seasonings
1 teaspoon oregano
1teaspoon sage
1/4 cup cilantro
sour cream
shredded cheese
limes
tablespoon of olive oil

Season and brown beef in olive oil over medium high with Emeril's seasonings (a few shakes) in chili pot. Dice the bacon and cook until crisp in separate pan, scoop bacon bits into chili pot. Pour in red wine, tomatoes, and broth. Sautee peppers and leek in bacon drippings until soft. Once veggies are soft (about 8 minutes), place into pot. Toss in chopped herbs and dashes of chili pepper powders. Blend and bring to a boil. Turn to low and simmer for two hours. Serve in bowls, squeeze a lime slice in the chili, top with a spoonful of sour cream and sprinkle with shredded cheese. It's even tastier the next day. This one is full of flavor.

Now here is Chapter Four of COVERT REICH. Sorry to say the book release date has been postponed by one week but that gives you a little more time to read on and decide if you want to continue when it comes out.
Cheers,
Michele

CHAPTER FOUR


The elevator doors opened silently and Kelly stepped out. The stale, cool air hit her abruptly. She shivered.

In spite of the charming Dr. Hamilton, this was not one of her favorite places to visit. She generally tried to avoid it if at all possible. She was all about saving lives. Dead bodies were a grim reminder things didn’t always work out.

The morgue hallway was long and dim. Four doors on either side led to various offices. Jake Hamilton’s was the last on the right. Kelly tapped lightly, but there was no answer. She turned the handle. It was unlocked, so she went in and waited.

The cramped office was cluttered with stacks of files on the floor and half-opened cabinets. UCLA and Stanford degrees hung on the wall. The combined smells of mothballs, formaldehyde, and coffee stung her eyes. A photo of Jake’s teenage daughter in a cheerleading uniform stood on his desk. All photos of his wife had been discretely removed, due to their recent divorce.

Jake stepped into the room. “Hey, you!” His green eyes sparkled. Those eyes, nice smile, and sun-kissed blonde hair gave him the air of a pretty boy. But there was a definite edge to Dr. Hamilton. A slightly crooked nose, the scar above his right eyebrow—they were just enough to make a woman wonder what sort of trouble he got into in his spare time. If Kelly had to guess, the scar was an old one, probably from a fall off of his bicycle when he was a kid. “I didn’t expect you down here, but I’m happy to see you. What’s up?”

“What isn’t? Up, I mean.” Kelly smiled, aware of the chemistry growing between them. They’d been colleagues and good friends for years, and it was becoming pretty clear he was interested in her. But at the same time, he was fresh off a divorce and Kelly didn’t want to rush into anything just yet.

“Oh now you’ve piqued my curiosity. What brings you down to the depths of despair?”

“Curiosity.”

“Oh, yeah? About what?” He crossed his arms and leaned back against his desk, his eyebrows raised.

“You received a patient down here in the past hour. Lupe Salazar?”

“I did. I haven’t had a chance to process her yet. Ty is in with her right now prepping the body. I’m backlogged though. It’s been a crazy week.” He paused, tapping his fingers on the desk. “Why the interest in this girl?” He stood and walked over to his coffee machine and held up a cup. “Want some? I splurged and picked up one of those instant espresso machines. Delicious.”

“Yes, thanks. Some liquid fuel would help right now, I think.”

He fiddled with buttons and after 30 seconds of hissing, a freshly brewed cup of espresso streamed into a waiting cup. Jake deftly scooped a heaping spoonful of sugar into it, stirred, and then handed it over. She studied him for a second.

“You wondering how I knew how you liked your coffee?” She didn’t respond. “Because I pay attention, Kel. We’ve had coffee together a few times. When you like someone, you notice things, file them away for future use.” He smiled and raised his cup to her.

Kelly felt heat rise to her cheeks.

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to embarrass you.”

She smiled and took a careful sip of her piping hot, and perfectly sweetened, espresso. “No. Not at all. We’re friends.”

“Yes we are. So before I dig myself in any deeper, let’s talk about this patient.”

“She delivered one of my babies.”

“Tough stuff, I take it?” He took another sip from the small cup.

“Yeah. Strange. She came in here not even three hours ago, and now she’s dead. No family that we can locate. No boyfriend. Nothing. Of course, I start with the stereotypical train of thought, and I’m thinking she’s a runaway and is caught up in some bad things. Brightman was the attending, and he gets on the scene and tries to go chief on me. We were losing the girl, and the baby’s time was running out. I had no idea what we were dealing with since it all happened so fast the labs hadn’t even come back yet. My gut was telling me she’s addicted, got something running through those veins. It was the only thing that made sense.”

“You’re skilled, Kelly. If that was your guess, I’m sure it was a good one.”

“I know. But I’m watching this girl, looking into her eyes, and all I can think is something is off. Lupe wasn’t drugged out, Jake. It would have made sense based on the way she was acting, but she wasn’t. So the girl seizes, codes, and dies. Nothing was going to save her. I’ve never seen anything like this. From everything I can tell, we were dealing with a healthy teenager. Anyway, baby was failing. I had to get her out. We couldn’t bring the mom back. She was gone, so I took over and did a C-section. I’ve got the baby now in NICU with all sorts of problems. I don’t know what to make of any of this. I need that autopsy. Something is wrong here.”

“What are you saying?” Jake asked.

“That so far all of her labs have come back inconclusive for drugs, which makes me wonder if there is something new on the streets we don’t know about. She had no alcohol present either.”

Jake’s eyes widened. She noticed a tic in his left hand that caused his coffee to nearly spill over. He walked around to the back side of his desk and sat down in his chair.

“Are you all right?” Kelly asked.

“Yeah, yeah. I’m fine. It’s just that what you’re telling me sounds, well, unusual.”

“Tell me about it,” she replied.

“I’m not sure what I can do. I won’t have a report ready on this girl for at least forty-eight hours, maybe longer. And you know how long tox can take.” He absentmindedly picked up the photo of his daughter.

“Rumor has it this girl isn’t the only one. In the last week, it’s my understanding that two other women came in, delivered, coded, and died. Both had stillborns. The baby I have upstairs is the only one to survive so far. I haven’t had a chance to look into the mothers’ backgrounds or anything, so I’m only going off what I’ve been hearing in the hallways. I need your help here, Jake. Did you find anything in the autopsies on those other women? It might help me with the baby in the NICU.”

Jake didn’t say anything for a moment. He turned his head to the side as if trying to figure out what to say. He brought his fist up under his nose and looked at her. His eyes closed for a second and then he sighed. “I don’t know what to say. I don’t think I can help in any way.”

“Jake?”

He was quiet for a moment. “There was nothing odd about the autopsies. I mean, no strange chemical makeup or anything. I don’t know. I wish I could help, but…”

“But what? You’re telling me you don’t know how those girls died? Come on. Of course you know. Natural causes? Is that what you’re saying? How can the hospital get around that? Were the mothers healthy or not, Jake? That’s all I’m asking.”

“I can’t…I don’t…”

Kelly didn’t like the evasive tone in his voice. “Jesus, Jake. What is it? What the hell is wrong? You’re freaking me out.” She had asked him a simple question, and he was acting like this?

He grabbed her by the hand. Out of instinct she pulled back. He held on tighter and pulled her close to him, lowering his voice to a whisper. “You have to drop this. Leave this alone, Kel.”

She pulled back again, and this time he let go of her hand. “You’re scaring me. What’s going on?”

He put his hand to his forehead. He was visibly perspiring. “I can’t talk to you about these cases. They’re classified.”

“Classified? Classified?! I’ve got a baby in my unit with a slim chance of surviving, but I certainly can’t help her if I don’t know what I’m up against. If you know something, you need to tell me. I will take this to the chief and the board if I have to.”

He shook his head. “No. You can’t do that. Please. I’m begging you to drop this. You could get hurt.”

“What?” She was furious. And confused. And beyond disappointed. What the hell was wrong with him? He knew damn well she needed information from the autopsies in order to help the baby. It was his duty to tell her. This conspiratorial attitude of his was ridiculous. Not in a million years would she ever have imagined Jake acting like this. “This is insane, Jake. I’m going to save that baby’s life, and you’re going to help me do it. You know that’s the right thing to do, rules or no rules.”

He paused, breathing deeply. “OK. I’ll discuss this with you. Tell you what I know. But not here. It’s dangerous.”

Now Kelly held his stare. She saw genuine fear in his eyes. Oh my God. He’s really serious. There was something going on here, and it obviously involved the death of three pregnant women. But clearly she wasn’t going to get any more information out of him here.

His assistant, Ty, tapped on the door. “Dr. Hamilton, I need a hand. Can I get some help?”

“Sure. Be right there.” He looked at Kelly. “Tuscany’s at seven-thirty. I really wish you would drop this. Trust me.”

“I’ll be there. And you should know me better than that.” She walked out of his office toward the elevator, baffled by what had just taken place. Jake wasn’t just afraid, he was terrified.





 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Chapter Three COVERT REICH

I hope everyone has a great weekend. I won't be posting chapters over the weekend, but I will be posting all next week. It looks as if the release date of COVERT REICH needs a few extra days. I don't want to put anything out to readers until I am 100% confidant it's the best book I can do. I hope you are enjoying the chapters that I have been posting. Keep in mind that I will be running a little contest next week for those who read the blog. I'll post a handful of questions from this week's blogs and the reader(s) who get the most answers correct will receive a copy of COVERT REICH.

Another reminder: A.K. Alexander books on sale for .99 for Kindle this week through Tuesday. DADDY'S HOME reached #1 in ALL Kindle book sales this past summer in the U.K. and remained in the top 10 for two months. http://www.amazon.com/Daddys-Home-ebook/dp/B004FN2B1O/ref=pd_rhf_gw_cpp_tab0_p_t_1 I hope you will give one of the books a try. My personal favorite is THE CARTEL. http://www.amazon.com/The-Cartel-ebook/dp/B004PLNH64/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_4


Cheers,
Michele

CHAPTER THREE


“Clear!” Brightman ordered again. Lupe gave no response.

Kelly continued to watch the fetal monitor. “Pierce, we have to get this baby out now. There are no more options left. She’s gone. We’re wasting time.”

“Clear!” Brightman ignored her, acting as if he hadn’t heard a word she’d said.

The baby’s heart rate continued dropping. “Damn it, Pierce, call it or they’ll both be dead!” The helpless feeling she had seconds before was replaced with anger. Adrenaline coursed through her and lit every nerve on edge. Screw this guy!

“I’ll call it when I’m goddamn ready!” Brightman shouted.

She was hit by a surreal of out-of-body moment where she felt oddly detached from the scene unfolding in front of her—white walls, blue curtains, silver instruments, dead mother, dying infant, a frantic medical staff trying to fix the situation. Dr. Brightman was good. Kelly knew this. But she could see he was fighting a losing battle, and she hadn’t lost hers yet. She could save the baby if he would let her.

“Get the hell out of my way, Brightman, and call this patient’s time of death, or I will be the first in line to file a law suit against you.”

Brightman looked at her, took survey of the room, and then stared down at the girl on the gurney. Three seconds later he glanced at the clock and wiped his forehead with the back of his arm. “Time of death, sixteen hundred hours. The baby is all yours, Dr. Morales. And good luck.” He swore under his breath and slipped away behind one of the curtains, off to file his report.

The charge nurse from labor and delivery and the two nurses from the neo-natal intensive care unit waited for the Kelly’s next call. With their help, she went to work with quick and determined efficiency. “Sponge,” she said and wiped down the mother’s stomach with a mixture of alcohol and iodine. “Scalpel.” With proficient hands, she opened up Lupe’s abdomen, retrieving the baby within minutes. A girl. The doctor suctioned the infant’s mouth and nose clear.

The tiny infant resembled an extraterrestrial being, with her transparent skin and spindly limbs. A nurse placed the baby on a radiant warmer. Three others gathered around, gently drying her with warm towels. “Let’s get a heel stick stat and into the incubator immediately,” Kelly said. “This one is going to need to oxygen, among other things, I’m sure. Get her weight and length. What do we have?” She noted the baby’s weight on the scale as a nurse took the blood sample and hurried off. “3.2 pounds and 16.53 inches. She’s a little one.”

Kelly took the baby’s APGAR score to check how well she was doing after her traumatic birth. The score rated the infant’s breathing, heart rate, muscle tone, reflexes, and skin color. At only four, it was not good. She’d take it again in a few minutes to see if things improved.

Kelly and Eric Sorensen, the NICU nurse in charge, transferred the baby to the intensive care nursery. As they rolled the warmer down the hospital hallway, a lab technician came running after them. “I have the mom’s initial blood work back. Here you go.”

Kelly took the reports. “Thank you..” Once inside the unit, the baby was placed inside an incubator, likely her home for the next several days, if not longer. Eric began hooking up the monitors and leads onto the infant. There was a lot to be done: blood gas, chest x-ray, continuous cardiorespiratory monitoring, feeding tube…and a lot to watch for: apnea, anemia, jaundice, respiratory distress, underdeveloped lungs, infection. The list was endless. But Kelly could tackle all of that. She took a step back and opened the mom’s file, figuring she would find Lupe had some kind of drug in her system. What else could explain the scene back in the ER? The more Kelly knew, the better she could help the baby.

“I don’t believe it,” she muttered, shaking her head.

“What?” Eric asked, glancing over at her.

“Inconclusive for any kind of narcotics or alcohol. Nothing apparent in the mother’s system to indicate she was using.” She shrugged. “According to these preliminary reports they are inconclusive as to whether she was using any drug, legal or illegal, in her system. I was so sure. I mean, I have no idea what happened on that table in there. Obviously we have to wait for an autopsy report, but I don’t know what to think. These test results say we are probably dealing with a perfectly healthy sixteen-year-old girl who, for no explicable reason, completely crashed on us.”

“I don’t know what to say, but I need some help here, Doc. I’m having a hard time getting this IV started on her,” Eric said.

Kelly focused back on the baby, scanning her body. The poor thing let out a fragile cry, similar to a puppy’s whimper, as Kelly found a vein on the top of her head and inserted the tiny catheter. God, please help me save her.

The baby girl was hooked up to numerous monitoring sensors in order to regulate heat, oxygen, and carbon monoxide levels as well as her heart and breathing rates. “Okay, I’ll get the tube in, and then let’s get this little one a dose of surfactant,” Kelly told Eric. The baby’s underdeveloped lungs hadn’t had enough time to produce their own surfactant, but thank God Kelly could give it to her. Machines and drugs could do pretty damn well, sometimes almost as well as a mother’s own uterus.

Kelly expertly threaded a tube through the baby’s nose, down the back of her throat, and into her trachea. Eric then connected the tube to the respirator and started the machine, regulating the flow of air, oxygen, and air pressure in and out of the lungs. “Thank you,” Kelly said to Eric, who smiled back at her.

He had a great smile—perfect white teeth and dimples to boot. His grey-blue eyes matched the surgical gowns he wore. His black hair and superb physique caused many women to take second and third looks because the guy could easily have been a Calvin Klein underwear model. It was a shame he was gay. At least for all of those swooning women, anyway.

Eric was fairly private about his sexual preference. The only reason Kelly even knew was because of an embarrassing incident that had occurred at last year’s holiday party. Kelly had gotten a bit smashed and made a complete fool out of herself, telling Eric how hot he was, etc, etc. Frankly, this was pretty out of character for her, but after too many frozen margaritas... And then he’d told her he was gay, and she was mortified. When Monday rolled around, she could hardly look him in the eye.

At lunch time he’d sweetly taken her by the hand and said, “C’mon, Doc, let’s get something to eat.”

Over turkey sandwiches and Diet Cokes, she tried to apologize.

“For what? Are you serious?! First of all, I am flattered.” He leaned in closer, flashing his adorable smile. “Second, if I wasn’t gay, I’d do you in a heartbeat. I actually gave it some serious thought the other night. You looked good enough to eat in that red dress and I momentarily toyed with the idea of giving it a try. Maybe you could have converted me.” He’d winked at her, and they both burst out laughing, causing heads to turn in the cafeteria. From that day forward, their friendship was permanently cemented and they had one another’s backs come hell or high water.

There is no one Kelly would rather have by her side as she tried to help this nameless baby stay alive.

“She is a very sick little girl, isn’t she, Doc?” Eric asked, placing soft cotton bandages over the infant’s eyes, shielding her from the Bilirubin lights.

Kelly nodded. “I’m going to do my damndest to see she makes it. Right now, I’m just concerned with stabilizing her.” She frowned. “I don’t know what to think with the reports. From everything I saw in that ER room and seeing how sick this baby is, I would have assumed there were narcotics involved. I would expect to see some withdrawal signs in this one’s early weeks, but…well, now I don’t know.”

“Huh.”

“What?” Kelly asked.

“You heard about the other cases from last week, right?” Eric asked. They happened while you were off.”

Kelly frowned. “I had heard that a couple of maternity patients passed away, but haven’t had much of a chance to get the full scoop. What happened?”

“I worked both cases. I mean our team was called in for the infant but neither baby survived. They were stillborn. They had heartbeats on them up until a few moments before delivery, but once the mothers died there wasn’t enough time to save them,” Eric replied.

“Who were the attending OB’s and who was on for NICU those days?”

“Dr. Pearson was on both of the cases for NICU. Brightman was the attending OB for both as well.” Eric shrugged as he adjusted an IV. “It seems a little weird. Kind of coincidental, don’t you think?”

“I hear you. I think I’ll track Pearson down and see if he can enlighten me a bit. Something tells me that Brightman may not want to talk to me for awhile after our little showdown in the ER.”

“You may have to wait a while to speak with Dr. Pearson. I heard he left on vacation the day after the second baby died. Rumor is he was pretty distraught. He may have even been forced by the chief to take some time off while all of this was looked at. Someone said he took off for the Mediterranean.”

Kelly sighed. “Interesting…I suppose I could go and see what I might be able to pry from Brightman about the mothers and now what he thinks about this latest patient. He has to think it’s strange as well. God, but I really don’t know if I want to deal with him. Maybe I’ll go down and see Hamilton instead,” she said, referring to the chief pathologist and the only other man in the hospital corridors besides Eric to catch her attention. “Maybe he has some ideas. He can at least tell me what he found in those other women’s autopsies.”

“He might. Not a bad idea. But before you go, why don’t you take a load off and rest some? You look beat. What time is your shift over?”

“God, I don’t know.” Kelly ran her hands through her hair. “I don’t think I care anymore. I feel like I live here. Any time off I typically spend sleeping.”

“You need a life,” Eric said.

“I probably do.” She wiped the perspiration from her forehead.

“Go grab something to drink, take a few. I’ve got things here. I think she’s as stable as we are going to get her for now. I’ll page you if I need you.”

Kelly scrunched up her nose and shook her head. “Mhhm, I don’t know. I don’t want to leave her yet.”

“You can’t keep twenty-four hour vigil, Doc. Get a cup of coffee, think, and breathe for a minute. Regroup and come back. You can’t go very far, so if something goes wrong, I’ll have your ass back here in minutes. I insist.” Eric crossed his arms and gave her one of his no-nonsense looks. He’d make an awesome parent. He had the expression down pat.

“Fine. But page me if anything happens. I don’t care how minor. I mean, even if her lead comes off, page me. Promise?”

“Cross my heart.”

Eric was right to send her away. A lot of what they called “the waiting game” was starting now. There would likely be many stressful, difficult moments before they could envision a healthy future for Baby Salazar, and Kelly simply couldn’t be here for every single second. She needed to take a break and recharge to keep her head clear in case something else went wrong.

Kelly walked out the double doors of the NICU and stopped in front of the elevator. She decided to head down to the morgue first to see if she could speak with Dr. Hamilton. Curiosity had gotten the best of her, and her instincts screamed there was something peculiar about Lupe’s death.

The doors to the elevator opened, and she stepped inside. Kelly took her hair out of its elastic band, ran her fingers through, and pulled it back again, hoping she looked somewhat presentable. A quick glance in the mirrored button panel told her she looked like hell. Sleep was in order. When was the last time she’d had a good night’s sleep? Even when she had time for sleep, Kelly had a tough time turning her brain off. In the scheme of things, sleep didn’t matter as much as the lives of her little patients. Sleep could wait. What she really wanted right now were some answers.