Book Review: “Memoir of a Mad Woman” by Vashti Quiroz-Vega @VashtiQV #RRBC #IARTG #writingcommunity

Book Cover Memoir of a Mad Woman

Hello and welcome to my book review of “Memoir of a Mad Woman” By Vashti Quiroz-Vega.

Meet Vashti!

Vashti bio pic

Vashti Quiroz-Vega is a writer of Fantasy, Horror, and Thriller. Since she was a kid she’s always had a passion for writing and telling stories. It has always been easier for her to express her thoughts on paper.

She enjoys reading almost as much as she loves to write. Some of her favorite authors are Stephen King, Michael Crichton, Anne Rice, J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling and George R. R. Martin.

She enjoys making people feel an array of emotions with her writing. She likes her audience to laugh one moment, cry the next and clench their jaws after that.

When she isn’t building extraordinary worlds and fleshing out fascinating characters, she enjoys spending time with her husband JC and her Pomeranian Scribbles who is also her writing buddy.

Book Cover Memoir of a Mad Woman

BLURB.

A novelette from the award-winning author of The Fall of Lilith and Son of the Serpent, Vashti Quiroz-Vega.

Who can explain how madness begins?

This is the story of Emma. Reared by a religious fanatic, orphaned at a young age and sent to a mental institution and an orphanage. Molested and betrayed by the people who should be watching over her…

Who can say that madness has no logic?

During a fight, Emma’s best friend punched her in the abdomen. Since then, Emma has believed there’s something damaged inside of her.

Every month… she bleeds.
She tries to fight it all her life, but the pain and the blood return twenty-eight days later… and the cycle begins again.

But Emma, even in her madness, knows how to take care of herself.
She knows how to make things right…

You may not agree…
But, who can reason with insanity?

Read this tragic but fascinating tale and traverse the labyrinthine passages of madness.

My Review ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Uncompromisingly brutal and utterly riveting.

In this uncompromisingly brutal novella, author Vashti Quiroz-Vega takes you on a jagged and painful journey. Many authors stop short when it comes to writing scenes of brutality, they tend to hint at the violence and not follow through. Not this author.

She gives us all the tools to explore the depths of Emma’s damaged mind. In order for the vengeance Emma undertakes to make sense, the horrendous acts perpetrated on her helpless body and soul allowed us an insight and an understanding into her motivation.

This author shows a deep empathy in her characterizations. An enviable understanding of the demons that drive us.

An insightful look into the darker side of humanity. Emma’s betrayal was absolute … so was her revenge.

The characterizations are superb, and well developed. The visual imagery is acute.

If you’re looking for a riveting and thought provoking read don’t miss this one.

Find the author;

The Writer Next Door website.

On TWITTER 

Purchase this book on Amazon.com

Thanks so much for stopping by.

 

 

It’s #ReleaseDay “Whatever It Takes” the new #Psychological #Thriller by S.Burke is #NowAvailable #RRBC #RWISA #IARTG

Whatever It Takes NOW AVAILABLE BANNER by EEVA

Hello everyone and welcome to the Release Day for my latest Psychological Thriller “Whatever It Takes”.

Whatever it Takes Book Cover for all posts.

BLURB:

James Kincaid had it all.

He’d made it to the ‘A’ list in Hollywood, a town that prized and idolized winners above all else. Three golden statuettes currently graced the mantle of his Los Angeles mansion. Next year’s Oscars held the sweet promise of more.

Then life began exacting a price that no man could be expected to pay as the people he cared about began dying and dying badly.

He couldn’t move on with his life or the dream without knowing why.

Andi O’Connor is the woman he’d hired to do ‘whatever it takes’ to find him the answers.

Could this disenchanted, street-hardened, ex-homicide cop uncover the truth without adding to the growing list of those already sacrificed on the altar of one besotted human’s insanity?

From Hollywood to New York, the body count continues to rise. Time is not on their side.’

#

Today I’m celebrating the release of Whatever It Takes by introducing you to Andi O’Connor.

I had such a marvelous time creating Andi.  She was both a challenge and a joy to breathe life into.

In Chapter 1 we first meet Andi. After much soul searching she has tendered her resignation as head of crack Homicide Investigation Team with the NYPD.

Say Hello to Andi the morning after her farewell celebration.

 

Chapter 2.

Andi grabbed her ringing iPhone and smiled as her best friend Keiko’s number came up. She tried not to give away how hungover she was as she answered. “G’mornin, sunshine.”

“Sunshine is it? How’re you shaping up this mornin’?”

“I’d like to say great, but, it’s not pretty. Just how much did we drink last night?”

“You don’t want to know, trust me.”

“I vaguely recall a couple of the guys pouring me into a cab. Did I do anything I should have been arrested for?”

“Not unless murdering karaoke is now a capital offense. That was some farewell, girlfriend.”

“Oh, God. Really? Karaoke?”

“Well, the guys actually voted for pole dancing. I figured karaoke might be easier to live down.”

“It didn’t end well, did it?”

Keiko spluttered, “Last I saw, two of the uniformed guys went searching for duct tape.”

Andi laughed before she remembered how fragile her head was. “Oh, hell. You know I actually caught myself getting into work mode just before you rang. Then reality kicked back in.”

“You need to get away for a while, Andi. Get your head sorted.”

“Yeah. Yeah, I do. You know I’m gonna miss it. Well, some of it.”

“Have you thought through your options? You could always use that Harvard degree, girlfriend.”

“Oh hell, Keiko, I know. I need to give that a lot of thought. I always have that as an option whatever I decide to do now.  I just don’t know which direction I’m headed in yet.”

“Whatever you decide to do, you know they’ll welcome you back here with open arms.”

“Thanks, hon, but I can’t see me ever doing that. I’m not good at traveling backward.” Andi closed off discussion on that topic, “Anyways, are you on shift today?”

“No, thank God. My stomach couldn’t handle a homicide scene at the moment.”

“That’s what you get for being so good at your job.”

“Anybody can read a camera image, Andi.”

“Not everybody can find the things you find in those images. I wish I had that skill.”

“Yeah, and I’d love to head a team the way you do. Did. So let’s just admire each other’s brilliance and get on with it.”

Andi laughed, “I’m already missing you, smart-ass.”

“We’ll catch up next week. Doug’s back in town on Thursday, but that’s the only night I won’t be free for a couple of hours.”

“I’ll give you a call.”

“Okay, hon. I’ll talk to you then.”

###

Thanks so much for stopping by to help me celebrate my release day. I hope you enjoyed this very brief glimpse into Andi O’Connor.

Contact the author.

Whatever It Takes Now On AMAZON for $0.99

Twitter:   @pursoot

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/StaceyandSuzie

Blog/Website:

Welcome to the World of Suzanne Burke

 

 

Welcome the #RRBC Spotlight Author for May 2019. Charles W. Jones @ChuckWesJ #RRBC

Thank you for joining me as we celebrate the Rave Reviews Book Club Spotlight Author for May 2019.

Please welcome and congratulate Charles W. Jones on his well-earned place in the Spotlight.

Let’s meet Charles.

Charles Jones bio pic for SPOTLIGHT BLOG TOUR

Hi, my name is Charles W. Jones, and I’m a horror author, but just because I write horror or thrillers, it doesn’t mean that it’s the only thing I read or watch. I enjoy many other genres, even romance, but please don’t tell anyone. When I write, I don’t go into thinking that this is going to be pages upon pages of gore. It would get boring quickly if that’s all there was to it.

There’s so much more to my stories than the horror aspects; I think so anyway. I like to incorporate other genres while attempting to maintain a layer of darkness to give a fuller reading experience.

I watch people’s interactions in real life as well as movies and TV shows to get inspiration. Walking the streets of LODO (Lower Downtown Denver) is always great, seeing people walking hand in hand, or the sketchier ones lurking, trying not to be obvious that they are up to no good. Even taking a walk in the mountains gives me visions as I enjoy the fresh air with my husband when we try to get away from the congestion of the city.

When I experience my muse’s touch evaporating from one story, I can usually find something else to write that keeps the creative juices flowing. I experienced this when I started writing World Circus. I ended up writing three books that weren’t part of the Circus Tarot Trilogy; well, one has nothing to do with the trilogy, the other two have characters who found their way into World Circus. The importance is to keep writing even if it means working on something else.

Thanks for stopping by today to check out today’s post.

Charles JONES TAROT COVER FOR SPOTLIGHT BLOG TOUR

Don’t forget to get your copy of Circus Tarot at Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00785VJIW

Find Charles W Jones at the following places

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChuckWesJ

Facebook: https://facebook.com/ChuckWesJ

Website: https://charleswjonesauthor.com

 

Welcome to “THE BUTTON” Blog Tour! @dlfinnAuthor #4WillsPub #RWISA #RRBC

Hello and welcome to “The Button” Blog Tour. Today, I’m delighted to be hosting talented author D.L Finn.

BOOK BLOG PROMO COVER THE BUTTON

RWISA PROFILE DENISE FINN

Meet The Author:

D.L. Finn is an independent California local, who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 relocated with her husband, kids, dogs and cats to the Sierra foothills in Nevada City, CA. She immersed herself in reading all types of books, but especially loved romance, horror and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, being surrounded by towering pines, oaks and cedars, her creativity was cradled until it bloomed. Her creations vary from children’s books, young adult fantasy, adult paranormal romance to an autobiography with poetry. She continues on her adventure with an open invitation to her readers to join her.

BOOK BLOG PROMO COVER THE BUTTON

Blurb:

Lynn Hill left a difficult childhood behind when she turned eighteen. The 1980s were going to be the beginning of a great life. Then what started as an ordinary evening out with her best friend, Stacy, turns into a nightmare. Lynn hears warnings: “Go!” “Leave!” Believing she is hearing things after partying too much, she goes back for one more drink before going home. That decision sets off a chain of events that nothing could have prepared her for. While humans and not-so-human beings are attempting to either help or harm her, Lynn risks everything to find the only person she trusts, Stacy. Who can help her? The stepbrother who shows up right when she needs him or the attractive, helpful bartender who gives her his phone number? Lynn must learn to trust again. Her survival depends on it in this paranormal thriller.

***

The Button Characters:

Was I as wild as Lynn and Stacy “back in the day”? That’s an interesting question. I suppose it depends on how you define the word “wild” and the time frame. 1980 was the year when I moved into my first apartment, but I was married in 1983. So, there were only a couple of years where I could tap into my limited knowledge and research to the story.

I might have a friend or two wondering if I’d bring that up. The good thing about that is we are the only ones that know whether I did or did not.

Lynn Hill is a survivor. She grew up in an abusive household. She lost hope at 14-years-old and tried to take her life, but she had angels watching over her. Now she’s a rebel with a button, a determination to take care of herself, and unsure whether she believes in love. I’m sure there’s a bit of me hidden in Lynn, the survivor. We were both hairdressers, too.

Kent Stuart works as a bartender. Lynn is immediately attracted to him, even with his goofy quotes, but he seems interested in her best friend, Stacy. Later when they meet again outside, Lynn decides she’s misjudged him and accepts the offered phone number. Lynn is unaware that there’s another side to him and another job.

Stacy Kelly has been Lynn’s best friend since they were kids. They’re roommates and like sisters. She’s a beautiful blond that’s full of herself but very loyal to Lynn. She’s the only person Lynn completely trusts. When Stacy goes missing, Lynn will do whatever it takes to find her.

Warren Stone is Lynn’s stepbrother. Newly released from prison he reaches out to Lynn when she needs someone the most. He declares he’s changed from his time in jail. Warren declares he wants to make up for not being there for her in the past. They both share the same abusive childhood, and she wants to trust him.

The Angels: Zelina, “This Second Chance” is training the angel Thomas, who’s had issues in the past. Zelina brought Thomas along when she spoke to Lynn in her coma. Zelina and Thomas are keeping an eye on Lynn until she needs them.

Dian the evildwel has a hold of someone near Lynn. She thrives and feeds off fear. Her current host satisfies all her needs, but she desires Lynn’s death.

The battle begins…will Lynn survive?

***

The Button Tour Giveaway:

2- “The Button” Kindle Format

$5 Amazon Gift Card

1-“The Button” Signed Paperback and Book Marker

D.L. Finn’s social media:

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Pinterest

Linkedin

Google

Links to purchase:

Amazon

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

Thanks so much for stopping by on an exciting day for Author D.L Finn, and a great time to be a reader of Paranormal. Please join in by leaving your comments.

To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the author’s tour page on the 4WillsPublishing site.  If you’d like to book your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please click HERE.  
Lastly, D.L. is a member of the best book club ever – RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB {#RRBC} and she’s also a member of the very elite, RAVE WRITERS -INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS {RWISA}! If you’re looking for amazing support as an author, or if you simply love books, JOIN US! We’d love to have you!

Book Review: “Vanished” by Mark Bierman @mbiermanauthor #RRBC #IARTG #MustRead #Thriller

BOOK REVIEW COVER VANISHED BY MARK BIERMAN.jpg

Hello and a warm welcome to my latest book review.

BOOK REVIEW: “Vanished” by Mark Bierman.

Meet the author:

BOOK REVIEW PROFILE PIC MARK BIERMAN

Born and raised on a farm near Brockville, Ontario, Mark Bierman’s childhood consisted of chores, riding horses, snowmobile races across open fields, fishing trips to a local lake, and many other outdoor adventures. He is also an avid reader of both fiction and non. Mark enjoys the sport of River Boarding and thrives on adventure.

Transitioning towards adulthood also meant moving from the farm and into large urban areas that introduced this “country boy” to life in the big cities.

Drawing on his many experiences as a private investigator and later a Correctional Officer, Mark combines his unique experiences and imagination to create his stories and characters.

BOOK COVER:

BOOK REVIEW COVER VANISHED BY MARK BIERMAN

 Book Blurb.

Tragedy . . . heartache . . . how much more can Tyler Montgomery and John Webster take? This missions trip, the “healing” one, has only added fresh layers of pain. Construction of an orphanage in Haiti’s northwest . . . yes. But a doomed rescue operation, human traffickers, human anomalies, extreme personal danger . . . risk of death? They hadn’t signed up for those.
Turning their backs on the crisis, however, is unthinkable, it’s just not who they are.

***

 

My REVIEW: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 A Riveting insightful and moving reading experience.

Many authors shy away from the dark side of human behavior. Author Mark Bierman tackles it head-on. The breadth and depth of “Vanished” is astounding. The authors characterizations of the central protagonists bring them to life on the page. We as readers can see them, hear them and through the words of this writer we are granted an insight into both their dreams and their pain. Human trafficking will never be eradicated if we continue to close our eyes to its existence.  I salute Mark Bierman for his ability to shine a spotlight on it, while also allowing us to see into the hearts and minds of those that rail against it, and take action to help save a child caught up in the horror.

The pacing is fast, it kept me turning pages, eager to discover the ultimate outcome. The author has drawn widely on his experiences as a private investigator to bring us a book that shines and is resoundingly believable throughout.

If you enjoy a moving, provocative and emotionally charged reading experience then this is an absolute must-read.

CONTACT the AUTHOR:

On TWITTER

Purchase VANISHED on AMAZON.Com

On FACEBOOK

On Goodreads.

 

#Valentine’sDay #ShortStory “Shall We Dance.” #RRBC #IARTG #Romance

love is ommortal valentines day image

“Shall We Dance”

By

Suzanne Burke.

 

Valentine’s day was looming again and Candace resisted the temptation to rip the month of February from the calendar hanging on her kitchen wall.

She needed no reminder of the celebration. For so many, it heralded a beginning, a step into the future with a love that they were certain would last a lifetime.

For her, it had been both the beginning and the end. Mitch had proposed on that long ago Valentine’s Day. He’d taken her dancing that night. He’d danced her around a room filled with uniformed Marines and as they watched on he’d dropped to his knees in the middle of the dance floor and proposed. They’d all cheered as Candace had given him her answer.

The sad-faced pastor and Lieutenent Colonel Brian Henderson had arrived at her door on February 14th almost a year ago.  Her Mitch wouldn’t be returning from Afghanistan. What followed was now etched forever in her memory. The hushed voices of their friends as they’d rallied around her to offer their understanding support and comfort. The wives who had hurriedly blessed their own lives, grateful that their own men were safe, for now.

Candace had searched everywhere for comfort. The inside of a bottle gave her only a temporary respite from the agony of his absence.

She and her Mitch had refused to discuss the possibility of him dying in the service of his country. That knowledge hovered unspoken on the peripheral of their lives. Giving it life was unthinkable. The future unimaginable without the enduring love they’d shared for almost fifteen precious years.

They’d already mourned and accepted the fact that they couldn’t have children of their own. Mitch had been eager to explore all the other avenues now available to childless couples. It had been her choice to remain childless. For her, Mitch would be the only love she’d ever need in her life. Her decision came back to haunt her now in the desperate solitude of her days and the eternal emptiness of her nights.

The new future danced in her nightmares. She’d stopped drinking when even the oblivion of alcohol had handed her no solace.

There had been no coffin proudly draped with their countries flag. No headstone to dignify his final resting place. A plaque on a wall was all that signified his passing. He was listed M.I.A and presumed dead along with two others from the Seal team he’d led with such utter devotion.

The bodies of his two team members had finally been located and identified. Candace had attended their funerals and wept along with their wives.

After shutting herself away for many months and drawing the increasing concern of her friends she’d finally begun to see a counselor. Yet as much as she’d understood the words he was saying, as much as her intelligence had accepted the innate wisdom of those words, she’d still steadfastly refused to accept the finality of Mitch’s death. How could he be gone when she could still hear his laughter? And on the long nights, as she lay in the darkness she’d smell the scent of his favorite aftershave waft through the room.

She’d reach for him in the darkness and moan his name, then cry for hours at the empty futility of her longing.

Candace dragged her mind back to the present. The sound of her cell phone had interrupted her thoughts several times in the past two days. She’d ignored the calls. Tomorrow was the anniversary.  She knew it would be folks ringing to check on her and offer up their kindness and willingness to help her in any way they could.  She’d hidden away from the repeated knocks on the front door that had been increasing in frequency. She couldn’t deal with the pats on the shoulder and the looks of sadness. Not now. Maybe not ever.

A car pulled up out front and a young Marine slid an envelope under the front door. Her hands shook as she picked it up, it was from the office of Lietenant Colonel Henderson and marked as extremely urgent.

Candace couldn’t bring herself to open it. She knew what it would be. This explained all the calls and the attempts to make contact. It could only be the acknowledgement that Mitch’s body had finally been recovered. Opening that envelope would leave her no choice at all but to believe he was gone.

It must wait till after Valentine’s Day tomorrow.  She gave herself permission to have this one last chance of disbelieving.

Candace sat on the sofa in the gathering darkness, she leaned her head back, closed her eyes and began humming Shall we Dance from the King and I. That was the marvelous music that Mitch had arranged to be played on the happiness fuelled Valentine’s night when he had proposed.

The memories swept her away for hours and she welcomed all of them. The day was beginning to dawn as she fell into a troubled sleep.  Today would be the final day before she was forced by facts to move on with her life.

Candace jumped with shock at the sound of someone pounding on the front door. She flicked a glimpse at her watch, “Jesus!  Hold on. Do you know it’s four o’clock in the morning!” She threw on her bathrobe and hurried across to the windows and pulled back the curtains. A base staff car with flags flying waited outside the house. “What the hell?”

Candace opened the door. The uniformed man stood alone in the semi-darkness. “Yes, Marine?”

“Candy.”

“That isn’t funny.”

“Candy, honey, it’s me.”

Nobody ever called her Candy … only … “Oh my God! Oh my God! Mitch?”

The man stepped into the light shining on the porch from the sitting room.

Mitch stood there holding himself erect with the aid of two canes.

“Darling, oh my darling, I knew it. I knew it. Hold me close before I believe that I’m dreaming again.”

The man leaned his walking aids against the wall and held out his arms. “It will be a little while before we can go dancing again, honey.”

Candy heard the hesitation. “Mitch, my dearest love. We now have forever to practice.”

All the explanations and questions could wait.

Their arms enfolded each other and they cried together in the joy of reunion.

Valentine’s day had now become their new beginning.

***

Valentine’s night. Five-years later.

Mitch Avery swept a bow to his wife and gave her his perpetually cheeky grin. “Shall we dance, m’lady?”

He held her in his arms and they moved in perfect unison around the dance-floor.

The poker faced Marines watching on cleared their throats as tears threatened, then they began to cheer.

Delighted whoops of joy from their two adopted six-year-old sons rang out as they ran across the dance-floor and threw themselves into the loving arms of their parents.

Candace had finally acknowledged that she and Mitch had more than enough love to share.

The future waited.

They walked forward as a family to greet it.

#

I have a further treat for you all. For those that know and Love “The King and I” Here is the original clip of ‘Shall we Dance” For those who may have never seen it I envy you the new experience.

 

 

 

 

“The Off Switch” A #Short Story #RRBC @pursoot … From my upcoming #Thriller #Anthology “Closure.”

#rrbc spotlight final blog piccie .masks coming off for acts of betrayal (2)

 

Thank you for joining me as I share a short story from an anthology I’m compiling for release later this year. I’ll be including a minimum of ten short stories all in some way reflective of the title … “Closure”

 

The Off Switch

By Suzanne Burke

From the upcoming anthology “Closure”

I doubt that too many humans don’t experience the need we appear to have and crave. You know the one? That urgent inexplicable flash of emotion that drives us to connect with someone, somewhere, someplace and at some time on this our journey through the unpredictability of life.

Jake Caldwell shrugged off the raw-edged sadness. He’d read about that need and smiled each time he witnessed it occur around him everywhere he went. He simply didn’t share that craving. He hungered for isolation now. His memory too overburdened with all his failures to connect. He’d tried all of it. Oh, he understood the logic of his species needing to feel part of something they perceived as greater and more knowing than themselves. They grasped desperately at the magic wand of belonging and clung to it long after the spell had been cast and had faded into oblivion.

Jake didn’t believe in magic.

He believed in only what he could see, touch, hear and smell. The peripheral flashes of humanity’s need had touched his life once. So long ago that is was now merely a whisper in his mind and one he refused to allow volume. He’d flicked his off switch as soon as he discovered he had one. He had been young then. It was a brief space in time when he’d still clung to the vague hope that anything he did would echo through time and instill his memory with someone. Jake now felt he deserved to be remembered for all the other things he’d managed to accomplish.

***

He watched his target carefully.

The young woman climbed from the taxi in heavy rain. She grabbed a bag from the trunk. gave a brief nod of thanks to the driver, then climbed the stairs to her second-floor apartment two steps at a time.

He was denied a clear visual confirmation that it was indeed her, as she’d crouched low in her concealing hoodie and entered the apartment without facing him long enough for him to access his facial recognition technology. He had so many available techniques now at his finger-tips to be certain that he had the right target. There were many times when he’d bemoaned that fact, as he’d enjoyed every moment of the hunt. Now … now it was just way too damned easy. The challenge had lessened and along with it his pleasure in an achievement hard won.

Today … it was just a job. It paid for his addictions and his recoveries. The cycle hadn’t paused.

Jake pulled his thoughts back to the present and waited. The sky grew darker and the storm shattered the oppressive silence and shifted the air in an attitude of waiting for the latent violence to cut loose.

He loved storms. He admired their fury and unrepentant volatility. This he understood. This he admired.

He took a brief moment to read his scheduled targets parameters again. He liked to be certain. Mistakes in his line of work would see him terminated. He understood and accepted that. It added to the excitement to know he could die at his first mistake.

Sandra Bartholomew was an attractive woman. A woman that others would follow with their eyes registering lust.

Jake happily acknowledged that. She’d be long accustomed to being watched. One more set of eyes wouldn’t flag her a warning.

She was around twenty-seven. Younger than most of his targets. In fact, this was the first in memory to be younger than his own thirty-year life span.

She had a crowning glory of gold curls that tweaked at his memory a little.

But her line of work ensured she was often featured in the press. That was where the memory was located,  he was certain of it.

He recalled feeling a vague admiration for her at some stage in the last few years. This woman was unafraid to take a stance against corruption. He admired it as much as he knew it was a pointless journey.

***

Night fell rapidly and he watched the lights in her apartment illuminate the area beyond.

At 9.00 P.M she exited and locked the door behind her. The leather jacket she wore would conceal for many that she was carrying a weapon. Unless of course, you knew what to look for. He reached into the waistband of his jeans and felt the reassuring comfort of his Beretta. There was no clear line of site available for him to utilize his rifle. He watched her clamber into the black SUV with assured movements. This woman moved sparingly, each step measured and assured.  A twinge of something distracted him and he forced his mind back to his current assignment with irritation.

He followed her out and into the flow of traffic, making certain that he remained at least three cars behind her. She swung into the parking lot of a bar down on East Broadway. He scanned the area and noted the numbers of CCTV camera’s recording every moment and movement.

Jake smiled at the challenge. He’d need to take her down elsewhere. For now, he’d watch on from inside the bar.

He spotted her sitting at a corner table. She sat alone yet her demeanor indicated she was waiting for someone to join her. He watched the barmen take her order and return with a bottle of red wine and two glasses.

She gazed around with vague disinterest etched into her carefully concealed countenance. This was a player worthy of his undivided attention. He felt a thrill that had been absent for a very long while.

He ordered a double shot of Jack Daniels and swirled it in the ice that accompanied it three times before drinking. Funny how old habits linger without us being aware of them.

She poured another glass and drank it down hurriedly with an occasional glance around to check out how many hungry eyes were watching.

Jake jolted backward as their eyes made contact. “What the fuck?” He caught himself mutter as he looked hurriedly away.

The woman’s looked heralded recognition and Jake needed to move, and move fast.

He stood, swirled his drink three more times before finishing the contents and walked out of the bar without glancing once in her direction.

He hurried across to his car, climbed in and headed out of the area as fast as the night traffic would allow.

He drove for what seemed endless miles before he’d centered himself enough to park off the road in a secluded area many miles from the bustle of the city.

“That’s fucking impossible. It can’t be her. She’s dead, you moron. You saw her die.” He exploded aloud into the darkness as a long forgotten and hated memory surfaced despite his efforts to deny it.

Melinda was long dead.

He could see her lying in a pool of blood alongside the woman who had birthed both of them.

He couldn’t unsee her pretty ten-year-old face etched in shock and covered in blood as she lay broken and bleeding in the nightmare that their father’s insanity had unleashed.

The man they’d been afraid of since birth had shot them both. His mother and younger sister lay dead on the floor, and his father was still standing over the bodies muttering the vile last words. Words they thankfully would never hear. He’d placed his gun on the mantle and sat in the blood and brain matter to watch them bleed out.

“You’re mine” he’d screamed. “You can’t belong to anyone else. Not now.”

Jake recalled the look on the man’s face as he had entered the room unseen and reached without thought of consequence and took that gun from the mantelpiece.

“Father” he’d said as he’d opened fire. He didn’t wait for the first responders to arrive. At the tender age of thirteen, he’d known only to run. He’d stopped running eventually and took his need for revenge out on anything that he contracted to take care of.

How could it possibly be his sister? He’d seen her die, hadn’t he?

Jake climbed from the car and sucked in a deep lungful of air. She’d recognized him too. He knew it. He removed his concealed Beretta and lay it on the passenger seat.

His need for answers at last supplanted his need to stay safe and unconnected.

Jake drove back to her apartment, a little surprised to see her car already in the parking lot. He sat in all his uncertainty for a long time before his need to know had him climb from the car.

He felt the hood and it was cold. She’d clearly been back a while. The apartment was dark.

“Jakey! Put your hands on the bonnet and stay absolutely still. Don’t make me shoot you, big brother.”

“Sweet Jesus, Melinda. How? I saw you die. I saw you both die.”

“No, Jakey. Momma died. The paramedics got me to the hospital fast enough to revive me.”

“Oh, no. Oh, no … I didn’t know. I would have stayed. Please believe that.”

He heard her deep sigh and felt her uncertainty. “Why didn’t you check?”

“I don’t really know. I can only remember the blood and him kneeling there muttering his vile farewells. All I could do was make him as dead as I thought you both were. So, I shot him.”

You shot him?”

“Uh-huh. Yes, I did.”

“Then why was the weapon found in his hand?”

“Oh, Meli, I put it there. I wanted him to only ever be thought of as a coward. Too afraid to accept the consequences of what he’d done. I couldn’t grant him the option of being considered insane and misunderstood.”

He heard her breathe out a shuddering sigh of understanding.”Jakey, oh my, Jakey. Don’t you see? You carry it too … that gene that separates you from the rest of humanity.”

Jake nodded and his face revealed his final understanding. He reached for a gun that was no longer there and the deputy district attorney from New York fired her weapon.

Jake died where he stood.

It would take years for his sister to come to grips with the fact that he’d welcomed that bullet. His weapon had been disgarded in the vehicle. He’d been unarmed and deliberatly so.

That final acceptance was the only comfort she had as she’d moved through the ranks of law enforcement.

The price of closure came at great cost.

She paid the price and moved forward.

***

Jake Caldwell’s grave was isolated and the only visitor came late at night.

She placed no flowers there. But knowing that his poor damaged soul was finally at rest gave her a measure of comfort.

She spent her years searching for the others that had no such connection. She saught always to find them help if help wasn’t already too late in arriving.

 

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