Sample from “Jo Fuentes: Project Sleep”

I‘m currently working on three new books. One of them is Jo Fuentes: Project Sleep. This is the fourth book in my Valentine Apart series, and it a sequel to Jo Fuentes: The Black Queen. Yes, my ass-kicking Marine turned hitwoman is back, and I’d like to share a small sample from the first chapter. Enjoy! 

            Remember why you are here. You are here to serve your country…

            It was the inside of a white classroom. Six of them stood in a row, guns drawn and pointed at the mannequins at the other end of the room. The idea was to shoot the mannequins, at center mass. The six of them fired at once. When they were finished, they lowered their guns, and awaited further instructions. This had been a simple task, with no real challenge. Using a handgun was easy enough. The real training would begin, when they learned how to use inanimate objects. There was a rumor going around, they would be trained to kill using something as common as a number two pencil…

            So you can shoot a handgun. Big deal! What would you do if a gun wasn’t available? What else would you use? It was always the same voice, barking from behind them. No matter how good you are, you can always be better! Let’s start with Fuentes!

            Jo’s eyes suddenly shot open. She stared up at her ceiling, furrowing her brow and trying to get a grasp on where she was. She slowly turned to her left, and recognized her alarm clock, sitting on her nightstand. She took a deep breath, and released it. Her room, in the same apartment she’d grown up in. The white classroom from her dream had faded into memory. She sat up and swung her legs over the side of her bed, and scratched the back of her head. It was Saturday morning. There wasn’t any place she needed to be today, so the day was all hers. She stood up, and stretched all five feet and eleven inches of her, and yawned. “First order of business,” she said out loud, “A shower.”

 

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Preview for “Biologicals”

I recently released my 21st published book, Righteous, which is the fourth book in the Our Lady of Righteous Rage series. This book follows the band on their tour across America, as they go from city to city, state to state, playing shows and meeting new fans…and narrowly avoiding fights with Mick, David, and the rest of the band, Stereotype. When I wrote the final few chapters, I developed an idea for yet another book.  This time, I decided to focus on Jon, Amy’s son. During the story in Righteous, Jon’s birth parents contact him, much to his alarm. He doesn’t want anything to do with, but he decides to be diplomatic and try to spend time with them. My next book, Biologicals, will focus on Jon’s attempt to reestablish a relationship with his birth parents, aka his “biologicals”. Here’s a sneak peak from the first chapter:

  1. The Delivery Room, The Couch, and Onward

            “It’s a boy!”

            I imagine that’s what the doctor said in the delivery room, on the day I entered the world. I can picture myself, tiny and naked, and silent, until that first smack on the ass, which caused my lungs to open up, giving me the opportunity to take my first breath. I’m sure I must have started crying. Then I guess the doctor or the nurse handed me to my mother, so she could count my fingers and toes, and give me a once-over, just to make sure she hadn’t given birth to some freak show kid.

            But, like I said, I can only imagine all of this. I don’t remember any of it, because I was just too young. The memories I do have of my birth parents, aren’t the most pleasant memories I have. To put it frankly, my birth parents—or biologicals, as I prefer to call them—are assholes.

            Yep. I just did that. I called my biologicals assholes. That’s what they are. You’re probably wondering why I feel that way. Sure: most teenagers hate their parents. Most of their reasons for hating their parents are completely unfounded: not being allowed to go to parties, drink, stay out past curfew, etc. My reasons for feeling the way I do, are totally legitimate.

            When I lived with my biologicals, I didn’t have my own room. I didn’t have any brothers or sisters to compete with; I just didn’t have a room. My room was the living room, and my bed was the couch. I lived with Michael and Leora, my biologicals, in a one bedroom apartment. So, naturally, the one room went to them. This was interesting, especially when they had company. They would quickly clean up the area known as “Jon’s space”, and pretend we were a normal family. Bullshit artists.

            They managed to pull this off, until my uncle told them, he was going to take steps to have me taken from them. I was eventually sent to live with my cousin David, and his girlfriend (later, wife) Amy. I had been spending time with David ever since I was two. He would babysit me whenever my biologicals went out (which was often). Amy was the best. She was the only one outside of my family who was allowed to pick me up. When I was really little, David started seeing this girl named Gina, before he and Amy were dating. I hated Gina. She smelled like she had soaked herself in an entire bottle of perfume, and not even a good fragrance. And, she was a bitch. To this day, I have no idea what David saw in her.

            But, Amy and David got married, and adopted me. I wasn’t sure of what to call them: Mom and Dad, or Amy and Cousin David. David went out of the country when I was younger, and left me and Amy alone for the first time. I came down with a case of pneumonia. I was a little nervous, but Amy kept it together. She was barely eighteen, and acting just like a mother. She took me to the emergency room, got my medicine, and took care of me. From that day forward, she wasn’t Amy. She was Mom.

            But, David, on the other hand, couldn’t handle the whole Dad-thing. Mom can sing and play the guitar, and she and her friends were in a band. David was jealous from the very beginning.  He started criticizing Mom and her friends, saying she needed to focus on being a wife and a mother instead of a rock star. But I was watching her juggle both with no problem! At no point did I ever feel like she was neglecting me.  I was sad when they got a divorce…I was even sadder when I had to go and live with David. We’re biologically related, so the judge gave him custody of me…asshole. Mom is a fighter, though. She went back to court, and got custody of me. So, I got to go and live with the one person in this world who truly loves me.

A little something from “Righteous”

I’m still working on Our Lady of Righteous Rage #4: Righteous. Here’s a little sample from Chapter 62. Enjoy!

           “Think about it,” Nick said. “If it wasn’t for Our Lady, would any of us visit Kansas City or Chicago? Albuquerque or Scottsdale? Would any of us even venture out this far? We were just kids in New York, learning to play guitars and writing songs here and there. Now look at us! We’re playing gigs across the country. We’re just a little indie punk band, and people in Arizona and California and Illinois actually want to pay to hear us play! How’d that happen?”

            We were silent. It made me think about where I was, just a few years ago. Graduating from high school. Moving around with Mom. Homeless and living in a hotel room. Then, working in a bookstore. Working at Urban Collective. Making friends with rock stars. How did that happen?

            “It happened because it was meant to,” Mike said, standing up from his chair. “I don’t want to get too religious and freak anyone out, but I believe there’s a plan for everyone. Call it God, or the Divine, or the universe, or whatever, but there’s a higher power out there, that creates a purpose for all of us. I didn’t really know what my purpose was, until you asked me to be your manager. I didn’t think I could do it. But you had faith in me, so I just put my best foot forward, and did what I thought was the right thing. We’re here, because we’re supposed to be here. You feel me?”

 

Preview: Valentine 5: The Queen’s Fold

This is it, folks. This is the end of the Valentine series. Book 5 will be out within the next week or so, but in the meantime, here’s a preview from the second chapter. Enjoy!

 

Chapter 2:

The Morning After

 

 

            Val wandered into the bathroom and closed the door, and stood restlessly in front of the sink. She raised her right hand and used the heel of her palm to rub the sleep away from her eyes. It was the morning after the meeting she had asked Kelly to arrange behind her office. The morning after she and her family and friends had reached a unanimous decision: John Rafferty needed to die.

            She stared at her reflection in the mirror. Her blond roots were making their presence known within the tufts of pink dye in her hair. Dark circles were developing under her eyes.  She sighed, and twisted the hot water knob on the faucet. It always took the hot water a few seconds to become hot. Val leaned forward slightly, and pulled the collar of her t-shirt down, just far enough to see the scar below her shoulder. The scar from her bullet wound…

            There was a sudden knock at the bathroom door. “Val? Are you in there?”

            Val looked over at the door and gave it half of a smile. “Hey, Ronnie,” she said. “Do you need to come in?”

            “Kinda,” Veronica said, through the door.

            Val walked over to the door and opened it, and a grateful Veronica stepped inside. “Sorry,” she said. “I really need to go.”

            “Go for it,” Val said. She closed the door and returned to the sink. The water was hot now. She pulled the lever for the stopper, and reached for her wash cloth on the nearby towel rack. As she wet her face, and lathered it with soap, she asked, “Did you sleep well?”

            “Not really,” Veronica replied. She stood up, and flushed the toilet. “I kept thinking about our meeting yesterday. I don’t think everyone there fully comprehended what we decided to do.”

            Val used her wash cloth to clean her face. “Why do you say that?” she asked.

            “Because the concept of it is absolutely crazy,” Veronica said. She watched Val wring out her wash cloth, then drain the water from the sink. Val stepped aside, and Veronica washed her hands. They reached for their towels simultaneously.

            “It’s crazy to anyone who isn’t involved,” Val said. “Or, to anyone who isn’t part of the Syndicate. But for us, this is normal. Would you rather we let Rafferty live?”

            Veronica sighed. “No,” she said.

            “The only other option, is to let him kill me,” Val said. “His beef is with me, more than any of you.”

            “I don’t want that either!” Veronica said. “It’s just that, we’re talking about killing someone! That’s not normal.”

            “It’s normal for this family,” Val said.

            They walked out of the bathroom, and down the hall to the living room. Victoria and Melinda were already awake, and in front of the TV, watching Cartoon Network and eating bowls of cereal. They looked back at Val and Veronica and smiled.

            “Good morning,” Victoria said, through her mouth full of Cheerios. “Uncle Vincent already left for work.”

            “Okay,” Val said.

            There was a knock at the door, and Veronica was the first to make a move to answer it. When she opened it, she was surprised to see Jo on the other side. “Hey, Jo,” she said, as Jo entered the apartment.

            “Morning, pretty,” Jo said. She chuckled when Veronica blushed. “Hey, ladies. I brought donuts, but I see you’re already eating cereal.”

            “We can eat both!” Melinda exclaimed.

            “I haven’t had anything yet,” Val said, eyeing the Dunkin Donuts shopping bag in Jo’s hand. “Thanks, Jo.”

            “No problem,” Jo said. She set the bag upon the counter.

            “Hey, I know what I want to do this summer,” Melinda said. “I heard someone at school talking about the Pride Parade in June. I wanna go!”

            Veronica, Val and Jo all turned to her in surprise. “The Pride Parade?” Val asked.

            Melinda set her bowl on the coffee table and nodded enthusiastically. “Yes!” she said. “Can we go this year?”

            “Uh, sweetie, do you know what the Pride Parade is for?” Jo asked.

            “Sure,” Melinda said. “It’s about celebrating who you are, and being proud of yourself and your friends.”

            Jo turned to Val and Victoria and smiled. “She’s so innocent, it’s too adorable,” she said. She turned back to Melinda, and said, “Well, you’re not wrong. Pride celebrates the LGBTQ community. It reminds people to be tolerant and open-minded, and embrace everyone’s differences. It helps the community be more aware of people like me.”

            Melinda blinked at her in surprise. “What, do you mean, like, other Marines?”

            Jo raised her eyebrows. “You’re really adorable, do you know that?”

            Melinda beamed, and picked up her bowl of cereal. “Thank you.” Victoria leaned over and whispered something into Melinda’s ear.

            Jo smiled at Val and Veronica. “This year, she should lead the Pride Parade.”

 

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Preview: The Witch of Fulton Lane

 

Greetings, good readers! I’m working on a new book, The Witch of Fulton Lane. This will be my first supernatural story, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you. In the mean time, here’s a little preview from the first chapter. Enjoy!

 

She had never been on an airplane before. She had only seen them in the picture books and magazines her mother provided for her, in order to fuel her imagination. In her books, the planes looked big and shiny, and the people on them looked so excited. They were flying to new lands; new destinations. Why shouldn’t they be excited? Planes went anywhere and everywhere. A few days ago, she boarded a plane for the first time ever, to visit the south. Today, her plane was flying both her and her mother home to New York, from an art festival in South Carolina.

The festival had lasted five days, and took place in a public park. Rue Maycriss and her seven-year-old daughter Dylan had flown in and arrived in time for the beginning of the second day. Rue was an artist, among many other things, and was selling some of her abstract paintings at the festival. Her husband, Marcus, had declined to join them on their trip. Instead, he had taken them to the airport, and agreed to pick them up upon their return.

At the terminal, Rue and Dylan sat side by side, watching the other passengers as they walked by. Rue looked over at her daughter and smiled. “Can you believe we sold all of our paintings?” she asked.

Dylan’s face lit up. “Everybody wanted one!” she exclaimed. “Your paintings are really good, Mommy.”

“Our paintings,” Rue corrected. “You helped me paint most of them. We should take the money we made, and open a savings account for you.”

“Can we really?” Dylan asked.

Rue nodded. “I think it’s a good idea,” she said. “Of course, we’ll have to ask Daddy, first.”

Dylan frowned. “Daddy won’t like it.”

Rue placed her arm around her daughter. “We’ll just see about that,” she said, with a wink.

Their flight was announced, and they stood up from their seats. The first class passengers boarded first, followed by unaccompanied minors. The coach passengers were next. As Rue led her daughter onto the plane and to their seats, she felt a sudden sharp pain in the pit of her stomach. Dylan noticed her discomfort, and placed her little hand over her mother’s. “Are you okay, Mommy?”

Rue nodded quickly. “Mommy’s fine,” she said. “I think I had too much ice cream yesterday.”

“That’s okay,” Dylan said. “When we get home, you can take the pink stuff.”

Rue smiled. When we get home, she thought.

As the plane drove out to the runway, Dylan looked out her window, and watched the other planes take off. A flight attendant passed through the aisle, checking to see if everyone was buckled in. As the plane made its way down the runway, gaining speed with every second, the sharp pain in Rue’s stomach returned. Damn it, she thought. Not here! Not like this!

            Dylan had turned away from her window and was staring at her mother. “Mommy?”

Rue tried to smile, but Dylan was an intelligent child, and she couldn’t hide anything from her. “Dylan, baby, do you remember what Mommy taught you? Do you remember how to hold things together?”

Dylan shook her head vigorously. “Yes, I remember. Why?”

“You’re gonna have to do that, very soon,” Rue said. “There’s something wrong with—”

The airplane suddenly shook violently. The lights flickered on and off. Passengers began to look all around, and the flight attendants stepped into the front of the aisle, trying to reassure everyone, it was only turbulence. Then the plane shook again. The cabin of the 747 suddenly went black, and a few people screamed. The captain was speaking over the intercom, stating it was just a little turbulence. What he hadn’t mentioned, was the 747 was having engine trouble.

“We’ve only been in the air for less than five minutes!” a man near the rear of the cabin shouted.

Rue shut her eyes, and took a deep breath. She held the silver pentagram, which hung around her neck on a black cord. Maybe, I can do it, she thought. Maybe I can fix it, and Dylan won’t have to…

            The lights inside the cabin turned on, and the plane stopped shaking. The passengers began to settle. Rue opened her eyes, and looked around, and found Dylan smiling at her. “You made it better, didn’t you, Mommy?” she asked.

Rue gave a sigh of relief. “Yes, I think I did,” she said. “Let’s just hope it holds.”

 

 

Forty minutes into the flight, the plane began to shake again. This time was worse than before. This time, oxygen masks dropped down from their compartments in the ceiling. People began to scream. The flight attendants were powerless to calm anyone down. Dylan looked out her window, and noticed thick black smoke, coming from one of the engines. Without turning her gaze away from the window, she reached out and tugged on her mother’s sleeve. “Mommy,” she whispered.

“I see it, too,” Rue said. “Dylan, it’s time. I need you to help me. I need you to help me hold this plane together.”

Dylan trembled as she nodded her head. She and her mother joined hands, and closed their eyes. Rue grasped her pentagram, as both of the plane’s engine shut off. The 747 began to descend, rapidly.

“Ladies and gentlemen!” a flight attendant shouted. “Please put your oxygen masks on, and fasten your seatbelts!”

“Just concentrate,” Rue said. “Don’t listen to the other people, or the noises inside the plane. Just focus on holding the plane together. Picture the outside of the plane, and hold it, really tight, with your mind.”

Dylan nodded her head and concentrated as hard as her seven year old mind could.

The other passengers were screaming and yelling; some were saying the plane was about to crash. The flight attendants tried to keep everyone calm, but even they knew they were in danger.

“Hold the plane, Dylan!” Rue shouted.

Dylan concentrated even harder, as the plane came ever closer to the ground…

 

 

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Sample from “Valentine 4” (coming soon!)

. “Interesting,” Kelly said.  “Would you like Jo to shoot her for you?”

“I could,” Jo said.

Veronica came back into the living room. “What?” she said.

“Or one of us could do it,” Mac said.

“I’d be glad to do it,” Lola said.

“Why don’t we draw straws?” Jo asked.

Val looked around at the faces of her friends, laughed. “Oh my God,” she said. “All my friends are killers. How did that happen?”

Preview of “Rowdy”

“Rowdy”, part three of the Our Lady of Righteous Rage series, is coming out at the end of the month. Here’s a little preview: Chapters 1-2. Enjoy!

 

Chapter One

Amy

 

            I was sitting on the couch inside the recording studio at Urban Collective, scanning an article in Alternative Press magazine. If anyone had asked me what the article was about, I couldn’t have told them. I wasn’t reading it; not really. There were words and pictures on the page, but all I could see was red. I’d never been so pissed off in all my life. My friends and I had been busting our asses to make a name for our band, and my idiot ex-husband was working to destroy it all! Who the hell does that?

            “Did you know Kurt Cobain died on my sixteenth birthday?”

            I looked up from the magazine to see Aidan, sitting across from me on a stool, scrolling through his phone. He looked up from the screen and smiled at me. “That’s pretty trippy, right?”

            I shook my head and sighed. “I’m sorry, Aidan,” I said. “I completely forgot you were here. I’m still so angry about this whole thing with David.”

            “I know,” Aidan said. He slid his phone into his back pocket, and clasped his hands in his lap. “So, what are we gonna do about him?”

            “I don’t know yet,” I replied. “Nick said he wanted to talk to David, one on one. And Rob…well, Rob just wants to kick his ass.” I set the magazine down on the cushion next to me. “So does Jon.”

            “Well, you can add my name to that list, too,” Aidan said. “Piece of shit. What was he thinking?”

            I shook my head at the idea. “To think we used to be friends,” I said. “I mean, I always believed we would still have that, you know? I believed, even if we didn’t work out as a couple, we could at least hold on to our friendship. I guess I thought wrong.”

            Aidan smiled at me. “David never knew what he had when he was with you,” he said. “That’s why he’s so pissed off. He lost the greatest thing that ever happened to him.”

            “Aidan?” I said, feeling my eyes becoming watery. “Dude, don’t say stuff like that! You’re gonna make me cry.”

            “It’s the truth!” Aidan insisted. “Losing you fucked him up.”

            At that moment, Nick walked in, and plopped down beside me. “Hey,” he said, with a sigh. “What’s up?”

            “The ceiling,” Aidan replied. “What’s up with you?”

            Nick smirked at him. “Trying to figure out what to do about this David situation,” he said. “I could just have him killed, you know. The Lianetti name carries a lot of weight in Sicily, and all I have to do is make a phone call and pay for a plane ticket—”

            “Stop,” I said. “We’re not having anyone killed. We’re going to be rational adults about this.”

            “I don’t want to be a rational adult,” Aidan said, flicking his tail. “I wanna put my foot up David’s ass.”

            “So do I,” I said. “But that’s not the way to handle this.”

            Nick reached up and scratched the back of his head. “Yeah, you’re right,” he said. “What we need to do, is keep doing what we’ve been doing. We need to keep making music.”

            “We need to release another album,” Aidan said.

            Nick nodded in agreement. “I’m going to start working on some songs. If you guys come up with anything, let me know, and we’ll work on it.” He paused for a moment, then added. “I did try to call David, but he wouldn’t answer his cell or return any of my calls. I know he got my voice mails.”

            “Don’t worry about him,” I said. “Like you said, we need to focus on making music.”

Chapter Two

Nick

 

 

 

            It’s always the ones you least suspect, who screw you over. If a total stranger had been behind all of our problems, I could live with that. But my cousin? My own family? How am I supposed to feel about that?

            When I left the studio, I went home. Nyda wasn’t in yet, so I had the place to myself. With so much idle time on my hands, I figured I could get some writing done. We needed a new album; one that would blow all of our haters out of the water. I had a lot of work ahead of me.