Archives for the month of: May, 2015

M4M BK EXPO FLYER

Hello everyone.  This Saturday is the Brooklyn Expo Creative Show at Prospect Place.  This is going to be an amazing event! There will be live music, artwork and crafts for sale, and , well….me! I will be there, selling and signing copies of “Fortune’s Wing” and “Valentine”, as well as “Allan & Mac” and “Valentine 2”.  Plus, 3 people will receive a free A.R.C. of “Our Lady of Righteous Rage”.  I’m really looking forward to being in the presence of my fellow musicians, writers, artists, and other creative people.  There’s still time to purchase tickets, so please check out https://bkexpocreativeshow.eventbrite.com. I hope to see you there!

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I’m currently working on the sequel to Our Lady of Righteous Rage, titled Your Fame Will Destroy You.  Amy and her friends are about to learn the high cost of fame.  The higher you rise, the harder people want to see you fall.  Here’s a sample from a chapter I’m working on:

 

 

Chapter (?)

Amy

 

 

 

The calls from record labels and potential managers were endless…and exhausting. People simply don’t know how to take “no” for an answer. We did interviews with local magazines and newspapers, and even a few bloggers. The media wanted to know why we weren’t moving our careers forward. Nic always gave the best response. “We are moving forward,” he’d say. “We’re just doing it our way. Our fans don’t have a problem with it, and neither should you.”

And it was true. Our fans were extremely supportive of our decision to remain on our own label. Mike was still our manager. The best thing about him: he couldn’t be turned down. If a club or studio didn’t want to hire us, he’d whip out his I-pad and show them all of the things fans were saying about us online. “If you don’t book Our Lady, it’ll be your loss, not theirs.” Sure enough, we’d play the venue, and the owner would make crazy-ass money, just because we were there.

Then, there were the parties. All we had to do was show up, and any lack-luster event would immediately explode. Aidan found a little bar with a private room called Decklin’s. We invited our long-time friends and Erin from the Urban Collective to come and hang out with us. We used the private room at the back of the bar. So many people kept trying to sneak back there and sit with us, we ended up giving one of the bar tenders two hundred bucks to act as our bouncer. We finally let a few of our fans in, at Erin’s request.

“They’ll post photos online and it’ll be great for the band’s image,” she said.

Two hours and I don’t know how many drinks later, it was a party.

Aidan, Dee and Rob sat on a burgundy half-moon shaped couch in the corner, along with some of our fans: a young guy and a young girl. At first, they seemed nervous; star-struck. After a few minutes, when they realized Aidan, Dee and Rob were just normal people, they relaxed, and loosened up.

Over in another corner, I decided to join Erin and Nic, and more of our fans. We were huddled together in a booth. One of the guys was an NYU student. He nervously drank a beer and told me how much he loved my band. I patted him on his back and told him to relax. He smiled, and shook his head. “Sorry,” he said. “You’re the first celebrity I’ve ever met. I was at your last show in New Jersey.”

“I’m glad you could make it,” I said.

Erin was tipsy and rattling on about the guys she loved but would never be able to marry. Last week it was Brad Pitt. Tonight, it’s Colin Farrell.

“And it’s really a shame,” Erin said. “Cause he’s Irish, and I’m half Irish. We’d be so good together. My Dad’s Irish, so he’d be happy.”

“I thought you were in love with Brad Pitt,” Nic said.

“No, that was last week,” I said. “And before that, it was Liam Neeson.”

The college student next to me sipped his beer, and raised a curious eyebrow. “Liam Neeson?”

Erin smiled proudly and nodded. “Yep,” she said. “Have you seen Taken? If I ever get kidnapped, I know he’d rescue me.” She finished the last of her beer.

I giggled, and slid out of the booth. “I’ll be back,” I said.

“If you’re going to the bathroom, use that door next to Aidan’s table,” Nic said. “Remember: you’re famous now. If people see you, you’ll never make it in there in one piece.”

I smiled and said, “Right, right. The last thing I need is someone taking pictures of me coming out of a stall in the ladies room.”

Erin nodded in agreement. “Because the photograph kills,” she said. “So be careful, or your fame will destroy you.”

I paused, and stared at her. “What did you say?’

“I said, your fame will destroy you,” Erin said.

“What does that mean?” I asked.

Erin shrugged. “It’s a line from a song. A song by Russell Crowe…another guy I’ll never be able to marry.” She sighed. “Ignore me. I’m drunk. Go. Go pee.”

I shook my head and headed towards the bathroom. Sure, she’s drunk, but her words were stuck inside my head. Your fame will destroy you. I suddenly had the feeling I needed to worry about that.

 

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Greetings, everyone! I’m currently working on the third installment of the Valentine series, titled “Valentine 3: Queen of Hearts”. At least, that’s the title I’m working with now…it may change in the very near future.  Anyway, I wanted to share a little sample of what I have so far.  There’s going to be a lot of action in this third book, and our hero Val is going to learn a dark secret about her family.  Plus, you get to officially meet Allan and Mac Avery! Enjoy.

Chapter 2:

Right Car; Wrong Girl

Veronica woke up early the next morning, and wandered into the bathroom in the hallway. She stood in front of the sink and turned the knob for the hot water. She let the water run for a few seconds before she cupped her hands under the faucet and collected a handful of water, and splashed it on her face. She shook her head vigorously and blindly felt the towel rack to her right for her towel. When she found it, she dried her face, and gave a happy sigh. It was the first morning, the household felt whole. Her uncle, cousin, sister, and friend were together under one roof. Things could be normal again. She finished drying her face, and returned to the sink, and looked at her reflection in the mirror mounted on the wall. She leaned forward, and noticed her brunette roots were peaking through her fuchsia dye. She wondered if she should bother to dye her roots to match the rest of her hair, or if she should remove the fuchsia all together. There was no need to decide now. She could ask Val for her opinion, when she woke up.

There was movement down the hallway. She heard a door open, and the footsteps walking down the hall. It was Vincent. He noticed Veronica standing in front of the sink, and paused. “You’re up early,” he said.

“Yeah, couldn’t help it,” Veronica said. “I guess I couldn’t sleep. Want some breakfast?”

“Sure,” Vincent said. “But maybe we should wait for the others to get up?”

“No need,” Veronica said. She smiled and walked out of the bathroom, and followed her uncle down the hall and into the kitchen. “The smell of food will draw them out into the open.”

After Melinda and Victoria had left for school and Vincent had left for work, Val and Veronica were alone in the apartment. Outside, it was dreary and overcast; the weather forecast was calling for snow. Veronica stared apprehensively out the kitchen window. “It’s gonna snow,” she said. “I was planning to go to the store.”

“You might want to go now,” Val said. “Before it starts. Want me to go with you?”

“Nah, it’s okay,” Veronica said. “I’ll be right back. We just need a few things.” She ran her fingers through her hair and turned away from the window. “Say: do you think I should dye my hair, or just go back to my natural color?”

Val was busy drying the dishes in the dish rack and putting them away in the cabinet. “You want to be a brunette again?” she asked.

“I’m thinking about it,” Veronica said. “I don’t know. Let me get going so I can get back before the snow begins to fall.” She walked back to her bedroom and went into her closet. She pulled out a denim jacket and a black baseball cap with the band name My Chemical Romance embroidered on the front in white letters. She slid into her jacket, and found a bobby pin on top of her dresser, and used it to pin her hair up. She put the cap on, and grabbed her handbag. As she headed down the hall and towards the door, she called over her shoulder, “Need anything while I’m out?”

“Nope, I’m good,” Val replied.

“Okay,” Veronica said. She exited the apartment, and went downstairs and outside, to her car, a Honda Civic. She climbed inside and put her key in the ignition. The engine sputtered for a moment, then shut off. Veronica cocked an eyebrow, then tried again. She groaned, and tried one more time. The engine struggled, but shut off once more. She looked towards the apartment, and saw Val coming outside. Veronica smiled, took her key out of the ignition and stepped out of her car.

“I heard it struggling,” Val said, nodding towards the Honda. “Take my car, and I’ll take a look at yours.” Veronica smiled gratefully and she and Val exchanged keys.

Veronica opened the door to Val’s 1967 Ford Mustang. “It’s going to be kind of weird, driving your car,” she said. “Are you sure you’re okay with this?”

“If I can’t trust you, who can I trust?” Val said.

Veronica grinned, and climbed into the car. As she started the car, the roar of the engine gave her a strange sense of satisfaction. She waved to Val as she pulled off.

A silver Camaro followed Veronica as she turned onto her street, on her way back from the grocery store. She parked Val’s car in it’s usual spot, across the street from the apartment. The silver Camaro parked two cars behind. When Veronica climbed out of the car, she didn’t see the man with dark blond hair walk up behind her, with a pillow case and a strip of packing tape in his hands. She wasn’t prepared for the tape coming over her head and landing across her mouth. She wasn’t prepared for the pillow case (which had been doused with chloroform) to suddenly slip over her head. Within seconds, she went from normal, to kicking and muffled screaming, to relaxing and falling asleep. The blond man lifted her up, and carried her over his shoulder. He opened the door to the Camaro, and slid her body into the car, laying her across the back seat. Then he climbed into the driver’s seat and drove away.

As he turned a corner, his cell phone rang. He answered the call, and put the phone on “speaker”. “Yes?”

“Hey Allan!” a female voice said. “Are we still having dinner together tomorrow?”

“Of course,” Allan replied. “Can I call you back later? I’m a little busy at the moment.”

“Okay,” the female said. “I’ll talk to you later.” The call ended, and Allan continued driving.

 

Allan carried his victim into his apartment building through a rear entrance the janitorial staff used. He used the staff’s elevator, and went up to the sixth floor, to his apartment. Once inside, he gently set her down on the couch, and sighed. “Okay,” he said. “I’m going to remove the sack. I need you to be quiet, okay? No screaming, or kicking, or anything like that. Nod if you understand me.”

She nodded her head.

Allan smiled. “Good.” He reached over, seized a handful of the pillow case, and pulled it off of her head. Her baseball cap came off as well. Her long fuchsia hair fell down. His smile quickly faded. “Oh,” he said, quietly. “Oh….oh boy. You’re not Valentine.” He reached over a second time, and peeled the tape away from her mouth.

“No, I’m NOT Valentine,” the girl said.

Allan put his hands on his hips. “Damn,” he said. “I can’t believe I grabbed the wrong one.”

“Who are you?” the girl asked. “And what do you want with my cousin?”

“Your cousin?” Allan asked, raising an eyebrow. “What’s your name?”

“Veronica,” the girl said. “And you are…”

“Allan,” Allan said. “Jeez, I’m sorry. I meant to grab Valentine. I saw the Mustang, and I figured you were her, and…oh boy.”

“So, you meant to kidnap my cousin?” Veronica said, narrowing her eyes at him.

“Well, yeah,” Allan said. “You know, when you say kidnap you make this sound worse than it is.” He sighed heavily, and shook his head.

“Why am I here?” Veronica asked.

“I was hoping you could help me get my ex back,” Allan said.

“That’s a stupid plan,” Veronica said.

“Yeah, in hindsight, I guess it is,” Allan said. “So, your name is Veronica?”

“Yep.”

“I’ll bet everyone calls you Ronnie, eh?”

“Only my cousin calls me Ronnie.”

“Oh,” Allan said. “Right. Of course. So, I assume you have a cell phone, right?”

Veronica reached around and dug into her back pocket, and retrieved her cell phone.

“May I?” Allan asked, holding out his hand.

Veronica rolled her eyes and handed him her phone. He scrolled through her contacts until he found the name Val. “Val?”

“Yeah,” Veronica said, flatly.

Allan pressed “send”, held the phone up to his ear, and waited.

There was a knock at the Entienne door. Val answered it, and let Lola inside the apartment. “Hey, Lola,” she said. “Have you heard from Veronica?”

Lola stared at Val in confusion. She looked over at Melinda and Victoria, who were sitting side by side on the couch. “No,” she said. “Why? What’s the matter?”

“I’ve been trying to reach her,” Val said. “I called her cell, but there was no answer. My Dad hasn’t heard from her, either. It’s not like her to just ignore my calls.”

Lola furrowed her brow. She looked over at Melinda and Victoria again. “You two are home early.”

“Half day at school,” Melinda replied.

Suddenly, Val’s cell phone rang. She pulled it out of her pocket, and looked at the screen. Veronica’s picture and phone number appeared.

“Is that her?” Lola asked, hopefully.

Val nodded, and answered the call. “Ronnie! It’s about time. I was worried about you.”

“I’m actually not Ronnie,” a voice said.

Val paused. “Who is this and why do you have my cousin’s phone?”

“Hi. My name is Allan,” the voice said.

“Hi,” Val said. “Where’s Veronica?”

“She’s with me,” Allan said. “Don’t worry: she’s safe. I made a little mistake. It’s a funny story, really. But, anyway, she’s with me. You can have her back, I just need to meet with Lola Vencent.”

“You want Lola?” Val asked. Lola gave her a puzzled look.

“Incidentally, is she there with you?” Allan asked. “Can I speak to her?”

“Yeah, sure,” Val said. She handed her cell phone to Lola. “He wants to talk to you.”

“Me?” Lola asked. “Who the hell is it?”

“Allan,” Val said.

“Allan?” Lola said. “Oh, my God.” She accepted the phone, and held it up to her ear. “Allan? Allan Avery?”

Allan smiled. “You remember me!” he said. “That’s awesome. How have you been, Lola? I’ve missed you.”

“Allan, why do you have Veronica?”

“I needed an excuse to get you to talk to me.”

“That’s a stupid plan.”

Allan sighed. “Veronica said the same thing. So, listen: I’ll let her go if you agree to meet with me.”

“Where?”

“Remember that diner we used to go to in Bayside? In an hour?”

Lola shook her head. “Fine,” she said. “One hour.”

“Awesome,” Allan said. “See you there.”

Lola ended the call and handed Val her phone. “Don’t worry about Veronica,” she said. “He won’t hurt her. I’m going to go get her back.”

“So, you know that guy?” Val asked, sliding her phone into her pocket.

“Yes,” Lola said with a sigh. “He’s my ex-boyfriend.”

Melinda giggled, and Victoria said, “Interesting.”

“I’ll be back,” Lola said. She turned, and left the apartment.

Val turned to Melinda and Victoria and asked, “What just happened?” The girls only shrugged their shoulders.

Lola entered the diner and looked around at the booths and tables. When she spotted Allan sitting alone in a booth, he waved her over. She sighed, and made her way through the dining room to his booth, and sat across from him. “Hello, Allan,” she said.

Allan flashed her a smile. “Hello, Lola,” he said. “You’re looking well.”

“Thank you,” Lola said. “So, why am I here? What do you want?”

“You,” Allan said, simply. “I want you. I want you back in my life, and I want to be back in yours. I wanted to show you, despite what happened today, I’ve changed since the last time you saw me.”

“And you thought kidnapping Veronica would help you achieve your goal?” Lola asked, raising an eyebrow.

“I meant to grab Valentine,” Allan said. “But, yes, I did.”

“Well, I’m here,” Lola said. “So, in a way, your plan worked.”

Allan smiled proudly. “We were good together, you and I,” he said. “We could be good together again.”

Lola sighed, and looked away. “Allan…”

“Come on, Lola,” Allan said, sweetly. “I’m not the man I used to be.”

Lola returned her gaze to him. She snickered, and shook her head. He was still cute and sarcastic. She was happy everything about him hadn’t changed. “Okay,” she said. “We’ll give it a try. Now, where’s Veronica?” She paused for a moment, then asked, “She’s not in the trunk of your car, is she?”

“Good Lord, no!” Allan said. “She’s back at my apartment. I wouldn’t do that to her.”

“Good,” Lola said.

“Since we’re here , do you want to order something?” Allan asked. “Their burgers are still good.”

“No, I really should get going,” Lola said. “And I’m going to need Veronica.”

“Okay,” Allan said. “Follow me.” He stood up from the booth and waited for Lola to stand up as well. She followed him out of the diner, to the parking lot.

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In “Fortune’s Wing: Second Flight”, Fortune Oyama and his friends return home…for a short time.  Adam arrives to send Fortune on his second journey, or “second flight”.  The fate of the world still hangs in the balance.  Here is Chapter 1 of “Second Flight”.

1

A Second Flight

 

 

 

Fortune Oyama tossed and turned in his bed, clutching his bed sheets and mumbling something inaudible in his sleep. In his dreams, he was running down a desolate street, where cars had been overturned, buildings had collapsed, and humanity ceased to exist. He called for his sister, Haverdy, but didn’t get a response. He turned a corner and continued to run. Every street he came upon was the same. He slowed to a halt, and stood, catching his breath. “Haverdy?!”

A female voice finally answered. “She’s gone, Fortune. They’re all gone.”

Fortune looked all around him. “Who said that?” he asked. “Where are you?”

You had a choice to make, and you chose to end it all. Now you must live with your decision.”

“What choice?” Fortune asked. “What are you talking about?”

            “You chose to end it all, Fortune.”

Fortune ran from building to building, searching for the source of the voice. “Where are you?!” he demanded. “Where’s Haverdy? Where’s my sister?”

“You chose to end it all…”

At that moment, he woke up, and sat up in his bed. Looking around, Fortune realized he was in his room. However, the images from the dream were still fresh in his mind. His dreams were changing; becoming more intense. At first, the dreams had only been about a ruined world. Now, a voice was telling him about a choice. And Haverdy—where was Haverdy?

Fortune had only been home for three weeks since his first journey to find the Right Wing. Some days, he wondered if any of it had been real. Then he would look at the golden Wing Pendant in the top drawer of his dresser. The memories of Adam, the black ship, Breaker Island, the Golden City and the Tower of the Wings would resurface. He’d realize, they were more than just memories.

Fortune climbed out of his bed, and walked over to his window. He looked out at the street. He wondered about Adam; where he was and how he was. He said he would return when it was time for Fortune to begin his second journey. When would that be?

He opened his window, and let some of the hot July air inside. Today, he would spend time with his sister and their friends. Today, he would put his thoughts about the Wings and his dreams aside, and just be a normal teenager. He showered, got dressed, and went downstairs to the kitchen. His family was seated around the kitchen table. Haverdy was sitting with her arms folded on the table, her chin resting upon them. She looked up at her brother with an expression which said, “save me”.

“Good morning,” Fortune said.

“Good morning, son,” Mr. Oyama said, taking a sip of his coffee.

Mrs. Oyama sighed. “Morning,” she said, dryly. “Maybe you can talk some sense into your sister.”

Fortune cocked an eyebrow. Haverdy rolled her eyes.

“I just wish you would dress more like a girl,” Mrs. Oyama said.

Haverdy looked down at her baggy jeans and white polo shirt. “What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?” she asked.

“Nothing,” Fortune said, quickly. He walked over to the refrigerator, opened it, and took out an apple. He took a bite of it and said, “Ready to go?”

“Definitely,” Haverdy said. She stood up from the table, and followed her brother out of the kitchen and out of the house. “Thanks, Fortune,” she said, once they were outside.

“No problem,” Fortune said.

“You know what Mom and Dad think of me,” Haverdy said.

Fortune shook his head. “Don’t worry about what they think,” he said. “You know who you are, and I know who you are. That’s all that matters.” He smiled, and put his arm around his sister.

The Oyamas walked to a nearby park, where their friends were waiting for them. When Tony saw Haverdy, he laughed, and said, “Look who’s here! Fortune and his little brother!”

“Ha ha,” Haverdy said, narrowing her eyes at him. “You know, you really should consider a career in stand-up comedy. You’re just so funny.”

“I know, right?” Tony said.

“Ignore him, Haverdy,” Esrieve said.   “What are we doing today?”

“Movie!!” Ringo declared. “The AMC has the best air conditioning.”

“But we’ve already seen everything that’s out,” Fortune said.

Haverdy shrugged her shoulders. “Then I guess we’ll have to see something twice,” she said. “Only trouble is, that place doesn’t open until eleven.”

“So we have to kill two hours?” Esrieve whined. “That sucks!” She bounced over to Fortune and hugged his arm. “What are we gonna do for two hours?”             Fortune didn’t respond. He was staring at a small, elderly gentleman, dressed in a suit, standing across the street. Suddenly a bus drove by, and after it had passed, the elderly man was gone.

“I think I just saw Adam,” Fortune whispered.

Narumi stepped forward, and stood beside him. “I saw him, too,” she said.

“That old guy really freaks me out,” Ringo said.

“That had to be him,” Fortune said. “If he’s here, then that means—-”

“It’s time for your second journey,” Haverdy said, looking at her brother through worried eyes.

Tony sighed. “So much for seeing the Fourth of July fireworks,” he said.

Fortune and Haverdy didn’t get home until later that evening. They came in through the front door, and casually called “hello” to their parents. They were about to head upstairs, when Mr. Oyama called to them from the living room.

“Kids?” he said. “Can you come in the living room, please? There’s—–there’s something we need to talk to you about.”

Fortune and Haverdy exchanged worried glances as they entered the living room. Their parents were sitting side by side on the couch, with stern looks on their faces. Haverdy looked down at the coffee table and gasped softly. She nudged her brother with her elbow. Fortune looked down, and noticed his and Haverdy’s swords, lying side by side.

“I found those in your rooms earlier today,” Mrs. Oyama said. She folded her arms. “I was about to do the laundry, and I was looking for dirty clothes. Those things were under your beds.”

“Where did they come from?” Mr. Oyama asked. “And why do you have them? Why do you have swords?”

Fortune gulped, and Haverdy looked away. He felt her hand slip into his, and squeeze it. Haverdy turned to Fortune; her green eyes wide with fear. He wondered how he could possibly explain the swords. How could he make his parents understand?

“Fortune Gregory Oyama?” Mr. Oyama said. “I want an answer.” He leaned forward a little. “Say something!”

Mrs. Oyama leaned forward, too. “Haverdy? Well?”

“Perhaps I can be of some assistance,” a voice said.

Both Fortune and Haverdy stepped aside, and a small figure entered the room. He was dressed in a dark brown suit, and his silver hair was neatly combed back. Fortune smiled thankfully. “Adam,” he said. Mr. and Mrs. Oyama sat back and stared at Adam. Mr. Oyama cocked his head to one side, and said, “Dad? Is that you?”

Adam slowly nodded his head, and uttered a single word: “Sleep.” Both Mr. and Mrs. Oyama closed their eyes, and their heads slumped forward. Adam turned to Fortune and Haverdy. “You needn’t worry about them,” he said. “They’re asleep.   When they wake up, they won’t remember any of this.”

“Are you sure?” Haverdy asked.

“That was you I saw earlier, in the park, wasn’t it?” Fortune said.

“Yes, it was me,” Adam said. “I’m here, because it’s time for you to begin your Second Flight.”

“What?” Fortune said.

Adam smiled at him. “Your second journey,” he clarified. “The one which will determine the fate of the world. I trust your friends will accompany you?”

“Of course!” Haverdy declared. “When are we leaving?”

“Right now,” Adam replied. “Pack your belongings and grab your swords. We’ll go pick up your friends, and be on our way.”

Fortune nodded, then looked over at his parents. He wished he could tell them where he was going; what he was doing.

“I know what you’re thinking, Fortune,” Haverdy said. “But they wouldn’t get it. They barely understand me , so they definitely won’t understand the fact that you’re going to save the world.”

Fortune smiled at his sister. “You’re right,” he said. “Let’s go.”

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FW1

“Fortune’s Wing” is the story of a young man who learns he is part of a prophecy to either save or destroy the world.  The fate of the world can only be decided by the one person who bares the Wings.  When Fortune’s Left Wing grows, he must go on a journey to find the Right Wing and complete the set.  Here is Chapter 1 from “Fortune’s Wing”.

1

The Prophecy of the Wings

Was it a dream or was it reality?

There he was, standing at the edge of a cliff, looking down at a cold, lifeless world. Buildings had crumbled and fallen. Vehicles lay upon their backs; their drivers nowhere to be seen. The streets were filled with debris. Thick black smoke blocked out the sun, and darkened a once clear blue sky. Everything was in ruins. It was so quiet, so still, as though death had waved his hand over everything in sight. Had there been an earthquake? A tornado? No, it looked like something else. Something unnatural…

Was it a dream or was it reality?

He suddenly awakened, covered in perspiration and surrounded by darkness. He reached over and switched on the small beige lamp that rested upon his night table. Looking around, he realized he was still in his bed, in his bedroom, on the second floor of his family’s house, on the same street he had lived on since he was a child.

He managed to climb out of the bed and walk over to his window. In the still of the night, he could see by the light of the street lamps, that the world he had known before he fell asleep had not changed. He breathed a sigh of relief, and flopped onto his bed. There was an unexpected knock at his bedroom door. “Yes?” he said.

The door slowly opened, and his younger sister stuck her head into the room. “Hey, Fortune,” she said as she attempted to suppress a yawn. “I was on my way to the kitchen when I noticed your light was on. Are you okay?”

“I’m fine, Haverdy,” Fortune replied. He forced himself to smile; despite the fact the images from his dream were still fresh in his mind.

Haverdy shook her head in disbelief. “You can’t lie to me, big brother,” she said. She clutched her robe and opened the door the rest of the way. “What’s up?”

“It was the dream again,” Fortune said with a heavy sigh.

“The one about the end of the world?” Haverdy asked.

“Yeah,” Fortune replied. “It’s always the same. Me, standing on a cliff, looking down at a world I couldn’t save.”

You couldn’t save?” Haverdy asked as she sat on the end of her brother’s bed. “Do you think you’re supposed to save the world?”

Fortune laughed half-heartedly and looked up at the ceiling. “I don’t know,” he said. “Every time I have that dream I always have this strange guilty feeling. It’s like the world ended and it was all my fault. And now I have a feeling something big is about to happen to me.”

“Something big is about to happen to you,” Haverdy said, as-a-matter-of-factly. “You’re going to be eighteen in two days, remember?”

“Yeah, I remember,” Fortune said. “And then, school will be out for summer, and I’ll be able to leave eleventh grade behind forever. But, that’s not it. I feel like it’s something bigger.” He sighed, and shook his head. “Enough about me. Let’s talk about you. Are you going to let your hair grow this summer?”             Haverdy laughed and ran her fingers through her short, dark blond hair. “And make Mom happy? Heck no!” she said, almost in a whisper. “It’s my trademark. I can’t help it; I’m a tomboy. Sometimes I feel as if I should have been your brother instead of your sister.”

“Haverdy, do me a favor,” Fortune said, thoughtfully. “Don’t ever change, okay?”

Haverdy blinked at her brother in surprise. Still, she smiled and said, “Okay, Fortune. I won’t.” She stood up from the bed and yawned. “Try to get some sleep. Don’t let that dream bother you. Okay? It’s just a dream, nothing more.”

Fortune nodded. “Okay. Good night, Haverdy.”

“Good night, Fortune,” Haverdy said.   She excused herself from his room, and returned to hers. Fortune turned off his light and rested his head upon his pillow. He sighed and whispered, “Just a dream.”

In the morning, the Oyama family had breakfast together, before separating and heading off to either school or work.   Haverdy and Fortune came to the table in their school uniforms: for Fortune, black pants, a white button-up shirt and a black tie. For Haverdy, it should have been the black sleeveless dress with a white short-sleeved shirt underneath. Instead, she was wearing the boys’ uniform. When she took a seat at the table, Mrs. Oyama shook her head in disapproval.   “It’s the end of the school year, Haverdy,” she said. “I hope you’re planning to wear the girls’ uniform next year.”

“We tried that already, remember?” Haverdy said, scanning the food on her plate (waffles, toast and bacon). “It doesn’t work for me. I like the boys’ uniform better. It suits me.”

“Sweetheart, you’re a girl,” Mrs. Oyama said. “More importantly, you’re becoming a young woman. You belong in more feminine clothes.”

“I think she looks cool, Mom,” Fortune said. He gave his sister a wink, and she smiled.

Mrs. Oyama turned to her husband for support. “Well?”

Mr. Oyama looked from his wife, to his daughter, then down into his mug of black coffee. “As long as she keeps her grades up, I don’t care what she wears.”

Haverdy smiled gratefully.

For Fortune Oyama, school had become a means of killing time. He had managed to maintain an A-B average throughout his high school career. Still, school didn’t interest him at all. The highlight of his day, were his friends. He always met with them at the front of Timberland High School, and they usually spent the rest of the afternoon together.

“Old man!” Duringo shouted as Fortune exited the building along with

several other students. Fortune laughed and Duringo playfully punched his arm. “I can’t believe you’re finally going to be eighteen. So, how does it feel to be an adult, Fortune?”

Fortune chuckled as he walked with his friends. “I’m not an adult yet, Ringo.”

“I don’t think adulthood should be defined by age,” Narumi said.

“Leave it to Narumi to say something profound,” Ringo said.

“Shut up, Duringo,” Esrieve said, gently shoving her older brother in the back. “I love the way Narumi talks.” She beamed with childish delight. “Say something else, Narumi.”

“There’s a piece of lint in your hair,” Narumi said. She reached over and plucked a piece of lint from Esrieve’s red bangs.

“Oh,” Esrieve said. “Gee, I wonder how long that was there.”

“Esrieve should have been born as a blond,” Ringo said. “That would give her an excuse for being so slow!”

“And what is that supposed to mean?” Haverdy asked as she scowled at Ringo.

“Haverdy, you’re an exception to the rule,” Ringo said, patting Haverdy’s back. “You too, Fortune.”

“Haverdy is an exception?” Tony said. The six of them laughed as they walked away from the school.

Fortune looked around at his companions. There was his girlfriend, Esrieve Fullerton, a hyperactive redhead who was in the tenth grade with Haverdy. Ringo, Esrieve’s brother, was in one of his classes and had been his best friend since elementary school. Narumi Hime, a raven-haired half-Japanese girl, was the most intellectual person he knew. And then, there was Tony Morales, the group’s comic relief. School, family, friends, and normalcy: this was all he needed.

“Fortune Oyama.”

Fortune stopped dead in his tracks; his friends halted as well.

“You are Fortune Oyama, aren’t you?”

The six students turned and found themselves looking down at a little old man in a tattered black suit and tie. His gaze was focused on Fortune. Fortune cocked an eyebrow. “How did you know my name?” he asked as he locked eyes with the tiny stranger.

“There is much I know about you,” the old man said. An unnatural breeze blew and lifted a few strands of his neatly combed silver hair. He squinted his periwinkle eyes. “It’s almost time.”

“Time?” Fortune said. “Time for what?”

“For your wing to grow,” the old man replied. “But excuse me. Grow was a poor choice of words. It’s been growing all this time. It’s ready to sprout , now.”

“My wing?” Fortune asked, a worried look forming upon his face.

“Let’s go, Fortune,” Haverdy said, as she gently tugged on her brother’s arm.

“Yeah, he’s just some nut,” Tony added. “Let’s go.”

“But he knows Fortune’s name,” Narumi whispered.

“You’ve been having strange dreams, haven’t you?” the old man continued. “Visions of a world you couldn’t save?”

Both Haverdy and Fortune gasped softly.

“It’s all part of the Prophecy of the Wings,” the old man said. “On the midnight of his eighteenth birthday, the chosen one’s Left Wing shall appear, and he will begin his quest to retrieve the Right Wing. He who possesses the Wings shall control the fate of the world.”

Fortune could feel a lump in his throat. How did this old man know who he was? How did he know about his dreams? And what was all of this nonsense about a prophecy and wings?

“I have to go,” Fortune said, suddenly. “Please, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Just leave me alone, please.” He turned and walked away. His friends stared at the old man for a moment, then followed Fortune to a nearby park. There, he found a bench, and sat down with his head resting in his hands.

Haverdy sat down beside him, and leaned forward a little to see his face. “Are you okay, Fortune?” she asked.

“What was up with that old guy?” Ringo asked.

“And what was he talking about?” Esrieve asked.

Fortune sighed. “I had the dream again,” he said as he picked his head up. “The one about the end of the world.”

“And that elderly man knew about it,” Narumi said. “Fortune, this could mean something.”

“Aw, forget about it,” Tony said. “I’m sure if you call the local mental institution, one of their older nut cases is probably missing.”

Esrieve giggled and leaned over the bench. She wrapped her arms and Fortune and said, “Let’s just forget all about it, okay? Come on! I could go for a Dr. Pepper right about now.”

Fortune couldn’t help but to laugh. Esrieve’s child-like sweetness always seemed to turn any bad situation into a good one. He kissed her cheek and stood up. “You’re probably right,” he said. “It’s nothing. Let’s go.”

They walked out of the park and across the street to a convenience store. Fortune tried not to think about the old man and his words, but they managed to work their way back into his mind. The Prophecy of the Wings. His dream about the end of the world. Even the old man had said it: a world you couldn’t save. How could he have known?

There was a sudden itch in the left side of his back, just below his shoulder blade. As he reached behind himself to scratch it, Fortune recalled something else the old man had said:

The chosen one’s Left Wing shall appear…

Fortune stopped scratching as he approached the cooler. He opened the door and pulled out a can of Pepsi. He had never discussed his dream with anyone besides Haverdy and his friends. How did the old man know? How could a complete stranger have known so much about him? He had to wonder about the prophecy: was it a dream or was it reality.

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VAL2CS

In “Valentine 2: The Patron Saint”, Val and her family try to move on and live normal lives.  However, their normalcy is interrupted by the arrival of a stranger, with a dark secret concerning a member of the Entienne family.  So, here is Chapter 1 from “Valentine 2”.

 

Chapter 1:

A Rose Grows in Trenton

It was after midnight. The street was quiet. A streetlamp flickered for a few moments, before shutting off completely. There were several cars parked outside of four apartment buildings at the intersection of Froman Street and Gent Avenue, in Trenton, New Jersey.   Every car was empty, except for one: a dark blue Ford Taurus. A man sat in the driver’s seat, staring up at a window on the fourth floor of one of the buildings. The window was dark, but he knew someone was up there, inside the apartment, watching him. It was a teenaged girl. She was crouching down, just below the window sill, peeking out at the man in the car. After a few minutes of watching one another in silence, the man finally started his car and drove away. The girl gave a sigh of relief, and stood up. She carefully made her way through the darkness, to the light switch on her wall, and flicked it on. The light mounted on the ceiling came on; the eco bulb made a soft humming sound. She walked over to her wooden dresser, and opened the top drawer. Inside, she found a tattered photograph of three people: a man, and two young women. They were standing in front of a brick wall, with the man in the center and the two women on either side of him. He had his arms around them, and all three of them were smiling. The girl smiled at the women in the picture. She had been told, they were her uncle, cousin, and sister. Obviously, the man in the picture was her uncle. But, as far as who was her cousin and who was her sister—that had never been made clear. One girl had long, fuchsia-tinted hair. The other, had short pink hair. The pink-haired girl, was the one she was the most curious about. She had heard fantastic stories about her; how people feared and respected her. The most recent stories, made the girl want to reach out to her. She protected women who had been abused by their husbands or boyfriends. She had driven across the country to save her father. She had even rescued and befriended a fourteen-year-old girl. People were calling her, “The Patron Saint of the Weak”. But her true nickname, was “Valentine”.

“Victoria?”

The girl looked up from the picture when she heard her mother call her from down the hallway. “Yeah, Mom?”

“Don’t you have school in the morning?”

Victoria groaned. “Yeah, Mom.”

“Then go to sleep, honey.”

Victoria sighed, and smiled at the picture again. She thought about the man in the Taurus, who had been staring up at her window, night after night. “Valentine,” she whispered. “I have to find you.”

 

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Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mothers out there.  I’m currently reading “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck.  I came across this passage in Chapter 8, and I wanted to share it in honor if Mother’s Day.  It’s a description of Mrs. Joad, the family matriarch.

 

“She looked out into the sunshine. Her face was full, not soft; it was controlled, kindly. Her hazel eyes seemed to have experienced all possible tragedy and to have mounted pain and suffering like steps into a high calm and a superhuman understanding. She seemed to know, to accept, to welcome her position, the citadel of the family, the strong place that could not be taken. And since old Tom and the children could not know hurt or fear unless she acknowledged hurt or fear, she had practiced denying them in herself. And since, when a joyful thing happened, they looked to see whether joy was on her, it was her habit to build up laughter out of inadequate materials. But better than joy was calm. Imperturbability could be depended upon. And from her great humble position in the family she had taken dignity and a clean calm beauty. From her position as healer, her hands had grown sure and cool and quiet; from her position as arbiter she had become as remote and faultless in judgment as a goddess. She seemed to know that if she swayed the family shook, and if she ever really deeply wavered or despaired the family would fall, the family will to function would be gone.”

 

Our_Lady_of_Righteou_Cover_for_Kindle

Hello again.  In keeping with this month’s theme on Woolaston Entertainment.com, Character Month, I wanted to share some of the song lyrics found in “Our Lady of Righteous Rage”.  After learning to play the guitar, Amy, the main character, begins penning the words to what would later become one of her band’s best songs.  So, here are the lyrics to “Come for the Wake, Stay for the Funeral”.  Enjoy.

All you spectators, please gather ‘round

The dearly beloved is barely in the ground

Did you come to mourn, or to grieve

All you care about is…..

What did he leave me?

Come for the wake, stay for the funeral

Come for the wake, stay for the funeral

Promise you, its gonna be one hell of a show

Come for the wake, but stay for the funeral

Well, its Grandma’s tea set

And her antique chest

And that rare coin collection you mustn’t forget

Now everyone’s sitting on the edge of their seats

So quiet you can hear your own heart beat

It’s the grand finale

The reading of the will

The room’s dead silent, everyone is still

Has your name been called?

Did you make the list?

Did you get everything you wanted to get?

Now the service is over

Everyone’s walking away

They really didn’t have a reason to stay

A loved one is dead and didn’t leave them shit

When you’re just a spectator

That’s what you get

You weren’t there in their life

But you’ll collect in their death

Like greedy little vultures feeding off of the rest

Spectators only come when there’s something to see

They just want the money

They’re not here to grieve

Come for the wake, stay for the funeral

Come for the wake, stay for the funeral

Promise you, its gonna be one hell of a show

Come for the wake, but stay for the funeral

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust

If the sadness doesn’t bring you,

Then the money must

All you spectators, please gather ‘round

The dearly beloved is barely in the ground

All you spectators, please gather ‘round

The dearly beloved is barely in the ground….

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Cover for the new edition of Valentine

Cover for the new edition of Valentine

Time for round 2 of the sample chapters! Today’s post come from “Valentine”, the forst book in the Valentine series.  Book one concerns Val’s road trip to California to save her father, followed by her first encounter with Lola Vencent, Rafferty’s Valkyrie. Here’s chapter one:

Chapter 1:

“I’d Rather Ride Solo” or “Road Trip”

It was early; around six in the morning. It was a good time to hit the road. Most people were still asleep, so the roads would be clear. The apartment was dark except for the light hanging above the dining room table. Veronica Entienne stood next to the table in her bath robe, with a mug of coffee in her hand. She watched her cousin Val stuff a few last-minute items into her black duffle bag. She was kneeling on the floor, forcing the zipper to close. When she accomplished her mission, she stood up, and slung the bag across her shoulder. “Okay,” Val said. “I’m ready.”

“Sure you don’t want any coffee?” Veronica asked. “It might help, Val.”

Val shook her head. “You know I don’t drink that stuff,” she said. “Besides, my adrenaline will keep me awake.” She sighed, and looked around the apartment.

Veronica set her mug down on the table. “You’re looking at this place as if you’re never going to see it again,” she said.

“I may not,” Val said.

Veronica shook her head. “Don’t talk like that,” she said. “You’ll come back. I know you will.”

Val smiled at her cousin. “Okay,” she said. “If you say so. You remember what to do, right? You’re okay with this?”

“Yes, yes, Val,” Veronica said. “All I have to do is take care of the rent and the bills, keep the place clean, blah blah blah. I can handle it.”

Val nodded her head. “Okay,” she said.

“Just make sure you do your part and call me every step of the way,” Veronica said.

“I will,” Val said. She placed her hand on the door knob, and slowly turned it. She opened the door, then paused and looked back at her cousin. “Gotta go, now,” she said. “Wish me luck.”

Veronica smiled sadly. “Good luck, Val,” she said. “Be careful, okay?”

Val smiled, and let herself out of the apartment. She walked down the hall, down two flights of stairs, and out of the building.   It was time for her to begin her solitary road trip. Her method of transportation: her 1967 Black Ford Mustang. Her route: the infamous route 66. Her purpose: to locate Vincent Entienne, her father. Val walked across the parking lot of the apartment complex, and walked around her car, to the trunk. She opened it, and dropped her duffle bag inside. She looked around the parking lot for any sign that she wasn’t alone. When she was certain no one else was around, she unzipped a side pocket of the bag, where she had tucked a pair of .38 mm black handguns, and extra ammunition. She sighed heavily, then zipped the bag closed and slammed the trunk shut.

Val climbed into her car and started it, and backed out of her assigned parking space at Lindsey Towers Apartments. It was going to be a long drive from Chicago to Los Angeles, but she was determined to go.

Vincent Entienne worked for a man everyone knew as Rafferty. Vincent never explained exactly what he did for Rafferty, but Val knew it wasn’t anything legal or legitimate. Vincent always came home with money, but never a paycheck. Whenever Val asked what he did for Rafferty, he simply said, “I work, I get paid, and I take care of you and Veronica.” But lately, he seemed to be tired of his “work”, and he even talked about getting of the business. In order to quit, he would need a good reason, and he would need to speak to Rafferty in person.

Vincent came home one night in a panic, telling his daughter and his niece he needed to go away for a few days. Something came up, and he had finally decided to quit working for Rafferty. He had to go to California to talk to him. He couldn’t give the girls any details—-he just had to go see Rafferty.

“You have to tell us something, Dad,” Val said as she watched her father pack a dark green back pack.

“I can’t talk about it, Vally Girl,” Vincent said. “Let’s just say, Rafferty asked me for something I can’t give him. I’ll be back in a few days…..I promise.”

But a few days turned into a few weeks. Vincent didn’t call, and he didn’t answer his cell phone. When he didn’t return, Val decided to go to California herself. She would either find her father alive and bring him home, or avenge his death.

Val followed the signs for Springfield and entered route 66. “Hold on Daddy,” she whispered to herself.  “I’m coming.”

Every few minutes, Val looked up at her rear view mirror, and saw a dark blue pick-up truck, one car length behind her. She first noticed it when she entered Springfield. Sometimes it would get lost behind another car on the highway, but it would always make its way back to her. It looked like the truck that belonged to her father’s partner , Jacob. Val had called Jacob after her father disappeared, hoping to get some information. Jacob didn’t answer any of her calls. Now, she was certain he was following her.

There was a sign indicating a train station was at the next exit. Val quickly changed lanes and took the exit. This caught the truck by surprise, and the driver missed the exit. Val laughed to herself as she rode around the curve. She drove to a traffic light and made a right turn, and went around another curve which took her directly into the parking lot of the train station. There, she found an empty space at the far end of the lot, parked her car, and turned it off. She gave a sigh of relief, and checked her appearance in her rear view mirror. She brushed away a few loose strands of her carnation pink-dyed hair that had fallen across her face, and got out of her car. She shook her head and stretched. Her journey had barely begun, and she was already being followed. Looking ahead at the station, she figured there had to be restrooms and vending machines inside. She could use the restroom, grab some chips and a soda and hit the road again. She didn’t want to stop again for another four hours, and she couldn’t afford to let anything slow her down.

Val entered the station and immediately found the ladies room. After using it, she walked around the lobby of the station, to a vending machine, where a dollar bought her a can of Pepsi. She popped it open and drank half of it down, and smiled. “Caffeine,” she whispered.

“I said leave me alone!”

            “So what?”

            Val searched the station’s lobby for the source of the argument, and found a young girl sitting in a chair about fifty feet away. Two teen-aged boys were standing around her. The girl was looking back and forth between them.

“Come on!” one of the boys said. “We’ll give you a ride.”

“I have a train ticket,” the girl said. “I don’t need a ride, so just go away!”

“You’ll have more fun if you ride with us,” the first boy said.

Val quickly finished her Pepsi and threw the can away in the closest garbage can she could find. She began to walk towards the two boys. “Hey!” she said. A few of the other people in the station looked up. The two boys looked at Val in surprise. The girl looked at her with gratitude.

“Didn’t she ask you to leave her alone?” Val asked. She stopped a few feet away from the boys.

“So?” the second boy said. “What’s it to you?”

“This isn’t any of your business,” the first boy said.

“Yeah, well, I’m making it my business,” Val said, calmly. “So, I suggest you guys leave that girl alone…..now.”

The first boy laughed. “Oh yeah?” he said. “Or else what? What are you gonna do?” He narrowed his beady brown eyes at Val. He took two steps toward Val, who grabbed his right arm and twisted it behind his back, and brought him down to his knees. The other boy backed away.

Val leaned in and whispered into the boy’s ear. “If you don’t leave her alone, I’m going to twist your arm off,” she said. She released his arm, and watched him stand up. He looked over at his friend, then the two of them turned and quickly walked away.

Val looked at the girl sitting on the bench. A smile spread across the girl’s face. She stood up from the bench and extended her hand to Val. “I’m Melinda!” she declared. “Melinda St. James. That was so cool!”

“Val,” Val said. “Val Entienne.”

“I can’t believe you saved me,” Melinda said.

“No problem kid,” Val said. “Are you here by yourself?”

“Well, yes,” Melinda replied. “I’m on my way to my grandparents’ house in Tulsa.”

Val shook Melinda’s hand. “Oh, okay,” she said. “Good luck, Melinda St. James. See you around.” She turned, and started to walk away.

Melinda gasped and turned to the bench. She grabbed the blue duffle bag she had shoved underneath her seat, and ran after Val. “Wait a minute!” she said. “You’re my hero! I have to repay you.”

“No you don’t,” Val said. “Its okay—-really.”

“Where are you going?” Melinda asked.

“California,” Val replied, dryly.

“Can I go with you?” Melinda asked.

Val stopped in her tracks and turned to face Melinda. “Aren’t you going to Tulsa?” she asked.

Melinda looked down at her feet for a moment. “Well, yeah,” she said, quietly. “But I don’t have to.”

Val sighed. “Look kid,” she began, “I’m traveling alone, and I have a schedule to keep.” She looked over at a corner of the station, and saw the two teen boys. Now there were three other boys with them. “Crap,” Val muttered. “They’re still here, and they’re multiplying.”

Melinda gave her a curious look, then turned and saw the boys. “Oh,” she whispered. “They’re back….”

Val stared at the boys and their friends. I can’t leave her alone here, she thought. Those boys are gonna mess with her again. And, Tulsa is on my way….

“Val?”

“Okay, kid,” Val said. “You can come with me. I’ll give you a ride to Tulsa. But that’s it.”

Melinda beamed with delight. “Great!” she exclaimed. “I won’t be any trouble—I promise.”

Val led Melinda out of the station and across the parking lot, to her car. “Give me your bag,” she said. “I’ll put it in the trunk.”

“This is your car?” Melinda asked. “Wow! It’s sooooo cool!”

“How old are you, kid?” Val asked.

“Fifteen,” Melinda replied, proudly. “Well, actually I’m fourteen, but I feel like I’m fifteen.”

“Oh Lord,” Val muttered. “This is going to be a long ride.” She unlocked the passenger side door, and Melinda climbed inside. As she walked around to her door, Val noticed the boys coming out of the station. They walked half-way across the parking lot and stopped. Val got into her car and started the engine. She rolled a few feet forward, then stopped, and revved her engine. The roar of the Mustang’s engine must have been intimidating, because two of the boys backed away. Val rolled forward again, then laughed as all five of the boys turned and ran back into the station. Val pulled out of the parking lot and smiled. “Idiots.”

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AMCS

Greetings, folks.  This week (and probably next week, as well) I’m posting sample chapters from my books.  First up, is “Allan & Mac”, from the Valentine Apart series.  This is a series that focuses on the lives of the people in Val’s life (I’m speaking of Val from the Valentine series).  Each book will focus on one or more characters; telling stories about their lives before they met Val, and what led them to become part of the criminal underworld known as the Syndicate.  So, here is Chapter One from “Allan & Mac”.  Enjoy.

Chapter One

What’s in the Trunk?

The dark blue Dodge Challenger pulled over and parked in front of an abandoned lot, covered with overgrown shrubs and bushes. The driver changed gears and put the car in “park”, shut the car off and pulled the key out of the ignition. She sighed. It was hot, and her air conditioner had stopped working weeks ago. She knew she needed to get it fixed; she’d been busy lately. It was quiet. Without the sound of the engine to muffle it, she could hear the thumping from the trunk a little louder now. She sighed, and used her index finger to trace the circular shape of her steering wheel. She began to hum a little tune she had just made up. She glanced over her shoulder, towards the trunk. She sucked her teeth, unbuckled her seat belt, and climbed out of the car. She slowly walked around the car, to the trunk. She slid the key into the lock on the trunk, and lifted it open. She stood with one hand on the lid of the trunk, and the other in the back pocket of her blue jeans. “I’m pretty sure we had an agreement,” she said, looking down at the contents of the trunk.

Inside the trunk, was a middle-aged man in a navy blue suit and tie. His hands and feet were bound with duck tape. He looked up at her through a pair of narrow gray eyes.

“We agreed,” she continued, “You would be quiet. I don’t think that’s asking very much, do you? So, are you going to be quiet, or are you going to force me to make a mess back here?”

The man nodded quickly. His mouth had a single strip of duck tape across it. She smiled, briefly. “Good boy,” she said. Then she slammed the trunk shut, and got back inside her car. Before driving away, she tilted her head to one side and cracked her neck. Then, she cleared her throat, and drove away.

A man in a button-down plaid shirt and jeans stepped outside of a deli, and stood on the sidewalk. He watched a dark blue Dodge Challenger pull up in front of him. He leaned down and smiled at the driver. “Hey, Mac,” he said.

The woman in the driver’s seat leaned across the passenger seat just enough for him to see her. “Hey, Allan,” she said. “Sorry I’m late.”

“No worries,” Allan said. He stepped up and opened the door, and climbed into the passenger’s seat, just as Mac sat up straight. “Busy day?”

“Sort of,” Mac said. “I had this thing I had to take care of.”

There was a soft thump from within the trunk.

Both Allan and Mac turned in their seats and looked back at the trunk.

“This freaking guy,” Mac whispered.

Allan chuckled and shook his head. “There’s a paint store down the street,” he said. “It’s been closed for a couple of months now. They have a parking lot in the back. Drive there and park behind the store.”

Mac nodded, and drove down the street. She had no trouble finding the paint store , located next to a struggling Chinese restaurant. There was a driveway beside the store, an she pulled up to it, and drove into the parking lot. The only thing there was a dumpster. She parked her car and shut the engine off. Then she and Allan climber out of the car, and walked around to the rear. Allan opened the trunk. He reached in, and ripped the tape off of the man’s mouth. “Hey there,” he said. “How’s it going?”

“You better let me go, you asshole!” the man in the suit shouted.

Allan and Mac turned to one another in surprise, then Allan slammed the trunk shut, and sighed. “Give him a minute,” he said. “He’s just worked up. He needs a minute.” Mac nodded her head. Allan looked up towards the sky, and watched the clouds as they slowly passed by. Then he looked down at the trunk, and opened it again. “You just met me,” he said.   “So I don’t know why the hell you’re mad at me. So, let’s start over, yes? What did you do?”

“What are you talking about?” the man asked. “I didn’t do anything!”

“Well, you must have done something,” Allan said, running his fingers through his dark blond hair.  “My sister isn’t in the habit of picking up random people and stuffing them into the trunk of her car for no apparent reason.”

Mac giggled to herself. “That would be kind of funny, though,” she said.

Allan smiled at her, then returned to the man in the trunk. “So, what did you do?”

“I didn’t do anything!” the man yelled. “And you’d better—-”

Allan slammed the trunk shut again. He and Mac stood in silence for a few seconds. They could hear the man cursing and yelling inside the trunk. Mac folded her arms and tapped her foot. Allan studied the palm of his hand. “We’ll just give him another minute,” Allan said, calmly. “I’m hungry. Aren’t you hungry?”

Mac cocked an eyebrow. “Actually, yes, I am,” she said. “Now that you mention it. I could eat. I could go for a taco.”

“That is so weird!” Allan said. “I was just thinking the same thing. I haven’t had a taco in about a month now.” He opened the trunk again. “What’s your name, buddy?”

“Kirk,” the man said.

“Well, Kirk,” Allan began, “Let’s try this again. What did you do?”

Kirk’s face was turning red. “Look, pal, you’ve got five seconds to—”

Allan slammed the trunk shut, and sighed heavily. He turned to Mac. “So, do you want Qdoba or Chipotle?”

“I could go for Taco Bell,” Mac said, brushing away a lock of dark blond hair that had fallen across her face. “I know you’re trying to go for something authentic, but I’m partial to my Americanized tacos.”

Allan nodded. “I get it,” he said. He opened the trunk again, this time, more swiftly than before. “Look Kirk, I can do this all day. I don’t want to, because I’m hungry and I want tacos. So, just tell me what you did.”

“He embezzled funds from his financial firm,” Mac said with a weary sigh. “Sorry, but I really want tacos now, and Kirk’s wasting our time.”

There were beads of sweat on Kirk’s forehead. “How did you find out about that?” he asked nervously.

“Well, I didn’t find out about it,” Mac said. “The person who discovered what you had done contacted me and requested my services. It was Doug, your partner slash brother-in-law. He’s very upset with you.”

“Shame on you Kirk,” Allan said.

“I was only borrowing the money,” Kirk said, quickly. “I was going to give it back.”

“Lies, lies,” Allan said.

Mac sighed and shook her head. “Look, Doug wants his money back,” she said. “And if he can’t get it back, well, you’re already in the trunk, so you can probably see where this is going. That means we solve this problem one of two ways. One, is you return the funds you stole—-all of it—-and move out of the state. The other, is I pop you right here. Now, I’m all for quick and simple solutions. But, if I shoot you, I’ll have to get my trunk cleaned for the umpteenth time this year. I really don’t want to do that, Kirk.”

“Although your car could use a good cleaning,” Allan said, quietly. Mac nudged him with her elbow.

“You…you wouldn’t kill me,” Kirk said, trying his best to sound confident.

“She would,” Allan said.

“I will,” Mac said. “So, what’s it gonna be, Kirk? Are you going to return the money and move, or am I going to have to mess my trunk up?”

Kirk’s eyes rolled back and forth between Allan and Mac.

Allan looked over at his sister. “Have you tried that new quesarito thing at Taco Bell?” he asked. “I heard it’s pretty good.”

“Oh yeah?” Mac said. “I might try that.” She looked down at Kirk. “Let’s go Kirk!”

“Okay!” Kirk shouted. “I have the money in an account at Chase. I’ll give it back.”

“And move out of New York,” Mac added.

“What?” Kirk said.

“And move out of New York,” Mac repeated.

Kirk blinked at her. “But, I can’t—-”

“There’s a place out on Long Island where we could dump him,” Allan said. “Plus there’s a really nice car wash nearby. They do interiors. They’re great at getting out stains.”

“Okay!” Kirk said. “I’ll move! I’ll move!”

Both Allan and Mac smiled. “Good boy,” Mac said. Allan closed the trunk, and the two of them got back into the car.

“That went well,” Mac said, as she started the car.

“Are we going to drive him to Taco Bell with us?” Allan asked.

Mac shrugged her shoulders. “I guess.”

Allan leaned forward in his seat. “Mackenzie?”

Mac groaned. “Fine,” she said. “We’ll take him to the bank first. But then I want tacos.”

“Okay,” Allan said.

“And a Mexican pizza.”

“Sure.”

“And a Mountain Dew Baja Blast.”

“Okay.”

“And maybe some of those mini Cinnabon balls they have now. Have you had those yet? Those things are awesome.”

“Please drive, Mac.”

“Okay. Sorry. I get excited about food.”

Mac drove to the rear parking lot of a grocery store, where she and Allan got out of the car and untied Kirk, and allowed him to ride in the front passenger’s seat. Allan sat behind him, and reminded him not to do anything stupid. Their next stop was a local branch of Chase Bank. They parked a block away from the bank, and before getting out of the car, Mac gave Kirk a few instructions.

“I’m going inside with you, Kirk,” she said. “All you’re going to do, is withdraw the money you have stolen. I know the amount, so please don’t try anything that will force me to shoot you later on. You’ll withdraw the money, and put it inside a black bag. It’s under your seat.”

Kirk nodded and reached under his seat, and retrieved a small black duffle bag. He gripped it tightly as Mac continued.

“Relax,” Mac said. “You look too goddamn nervous. This isn’t a robbery, after all. You’re giving back the money you stole. Then, we’ll take you home, and you’ll move out of New York. If I see you around the Big Apple, I will put a bullet in your ass. Understood?”

Kirk nodded his head quickly. “Yeah, sure, okay,” he said.

Mac smiled. “Good boy,” she said. “Let’s go.”

The two of them got out of the car and entered the bank, while Allan waited outside. Kirk tried to smile as he approached the next available teller and informed her, he needed to make a large cash withdrawal. The bank’s manager was called over to handle the transaction. Twenty minutes later, Mac escorted Kirk out of the bank and back to her car. She even opened the door for him. Once he was inside, she climbed into the driver’s seat, started the car and pulled off.

“Two hundred thousand,” Mac said. “You stole two hundred thousand from a company your brother-in-law founded. He was nice enough to give your sorry ass a job, too. You really do suck, Kirk.”

Kirk rolled his eyes and looked away.

“What was the money for?” Allan asked. “Gambling debt? Prostitutes? Smack?”

Mac cocked an eyebrow. “Smack?”

“Drugs,” Allan clarified.

“It’s personal,” Kirk said.

“Well, whatever the reason, you had no business stealing that money,” Mac said.

Kirk glared at her. “Who the hell are you to lecture me?” he snapped. “You’re a hit man!”

Woman,” Mac corrected. “I’m a hit woman. And who am I? I’m the one with the loaded gun. I’m the one who’s going to shoot you if you don’t honor our agreement. So, shove it!”

Mac pulled up in front of a house in Manhasset, where she snatched the black bag from Kirk, and gestured towards the house. “It’s been a pleasure,” she said. “Get out of my car, and get out of New York.” Kirk muttered something inaudible under his breath as he opened the door and climbed out of the car. As soon as he closed the door, the Challenger sped away. Kirk stood on the sidewalk for a moment, looking up at the front door to his two-story house. The lights were on; his wife was home. He wondered if she knew….

Allan sat across from his sister inside Taco Bell, watching her tilt her head to one side in order to eat one of three tacos. And this was after the Mexican Pizza.

“I had fun with you today,” Mac said, chewing up and swallowing a mouth full of taco. “We should do jobs together more often.”

“Yeah, we should,” Allan said, taking a bite of one of his own tacos. “Say, how did you grab Kirk in the first place?”

Mac picked up a napkin and wiped the side of her mouth. “I was pretending to dig through my trunk,” she said. “I was bending over and he was staring at my butt. Then I looked up at him and smiled, and waved him over. As soon as he was close enough, I used the butt of my gun to knock him out. He fell into my trunk, and later, I taped him up.”

“Wow,” Allan said. “There were a lot of butts in your story.”

Mac giggled. “Yeah, yeah there were.” She began to eat another taco.

“You know,” Allan began, “if you keep eating like that, you’re gonna get fat. And you of all people do not want to get fat.”

Mac paused, taco in hand. “Why’s that?”

Allan smirked at her. “Because of the obvious nickname,” he said. “You’ll be bigger. Big Mac.”

Mac narrowed her eyes at him.

End of Sample