I promised a scenelet. Here it be.

A while back I asked if anyone wanted a sneak peek at Ghost Town, my new work in progress. Y’all said, “Yes,” so I of course did nothing for ages. Until now.

TL;DR version of context: She’s new on the job. He’s been dead over a century.  Together they solve crimes.

The longer spiel: Deena Davis fled her wee Illinois hometown as soon as she was old enough to enlist in the Army.  Now she’s back in Gridley as the newly-appointed police chief, just in time to catch Gridley’s first murder case in decades.

Her great-great-grandfather Fletcher was Gridley’s mayor during his lifetime. Since his death he’s been the mayor of the town’s ghostly population. He was a big fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and he has the ability to make himself seen by his descendants.

He is keen to help Deena solve this murder whether she wants it or not.

Also, Deena owns a retired military working dog named Bazel. (Because I wanted to write a dog, that’s why.) That’s why there’s a pic of a Malinois at the top of this post.

     Fletcher caught up to Deena while she was on her way to talk with the county clerk’s digital specialists. One minute she was checking the road behind her before changing lanes, the next, her rear view was blocked by the ghost’s smiling, whiskery face.

“Hello, granddaughter!”

Deena’s startled flinch nearly put them in the ditch before trained reflexes kicked in. The car rocked on its wheels, and gravel crunched under the right front tire, but she settled the swerve.

“Not funny!” she snapped as she regained control. “Don’t ever pop up like that when I’m driving, not ever.”

“When you’re—oh.” Fletcher took note of the scenery flashing by, and his face fell. “I didn’t think to check the physical plane ‘afore visiting. I’m right sorry, Deena. ”

His contrite expression looked sincere, but the man had been a politician. Deena wouldn’t trust him as far as she could throw him. “You’d better be sorry. This partnership will come to an abrupt and nasty end if I slam head-on into a semi.”

Bazel nosed irritably at the mayor, who was occupying much of the same space in the back seat as he was. Fletcher ignored the dog’s intrusion, his expression thoughtful in a dangerously familiar way. Deena had seen that look on her father’s face more than once when he got to yearning for grandkids.

She shouldn’t have mentioned dying. At least the ghost couldn’t set her up on blind dates. He could nag, though. Better cut that off before it starts. “And don’t even think about telling me I should settle down and start popping out kids.”

The ghost stroked his mustache and slid to the other seat to get away from the dog. “No idea what you’re on about,” he said cheerfully. “Ain’tcha going to ask why I’m here? Lemme tell you. I made inquiries last night, and I have news.”

“That’s grand,” Deena said with maximum insincerity. Just as she’d suspected, the mayor was going to hover over her and get in the way. The tires squeaked as she turned hard into the office parking lot. She found the building number and pulled into a spot nearby. “I have to interview a digitizing specialist. Learn anything relevant to that?”

“I don’t reckon so. Not even sure what that is.”

“Then wait here—or if you won’t do that, at least stay out of my sight and keep your mouth shut so I don’t look like a lunatic.”

“Hold on one goldarned second.” Fletcher did his instant-move thing to appear at Deena’s shoulder as she opened the rear door to retrieve Bazel. “Is that any way to talk to your partner? Listen here—”

“No, you listen.” Deena unlatched Bazel and looked down at the dog to avoid the talking to thin air issue. “I can’t drop everything any time you decide to show up. Maybe you have all the time in the world, but I don’t, and there is no box for ‘ghost evidence’ on the reports I have to file. This comes first.”

She looked up at the end. Fletcher met her angry gaze for long seconds. “You don’t have to be so hurtful,” he finally said.

She had been harsh. Much too harsh. She let out tension in a heavy sigh and rubbed her aching neck. Sun beat down on the pavement, and reflected heat rose up through her boots. Her ancestor looked cool and collected. Must be nice to not melt in the heat. “I’m sorry, Fletcher. You scared the daylights out of me. That gets my temper up. No disrespect. I do want to hear you out. Just—not now. Please.”

“Well, all righty. That’s a pretty explanation, and I might have a temper myself.” The ghost mayor regarded her Ford Interceptor with a thoughtful frown. “These carriages keep getting bigger and more complicated. How’s about you take me for a drive around town in it? I can give you all the news and show you the sights, and you can show me how fast it goes.”

“That’s—not a bad idea.” Nobody looked twice at drivers talking to themselves. Deena gave Bazel a quick ear scratch and straightened to see a figure at the office window duck out of view. Looked like her witness was getting nervous. “We’ll do that soon. Now go poof or whatever it is you do and let me get to work.”

“Poof?” Fletcher said. “Poof?”

She gestured extravagantly with both hands like a magician. “Poof!”

He was still sputtering when he disappeared, but he was smiling too.

Weekly Snapshot: Heartwood

Big surprises are in store for everyone.



Jack decided against smiling. His teeth scared people. “Jack Coby,” he said, extending his hand. “Nice to meet you. Any friend of Elena’s is a friend of mine.”

Grace’s gaze moved from Heather to him and she reached out. Their fingers touched, and Jack’s nerves jumped hard.

He couldn’t see any sign of Grace’s power yet, but in the barest meeting of skin energy jolted through him, unexpected and disastrously uncontrolled. Challenge. Protect. Destroy—No! He snatched his hand away and smashed down his body’s reaction with every ounce of trained willpower and one overriding thought: NO. Pumping up nerves and muscle to battle readiness was the last thing this situation needed.

He retreated behind Heather, clamping iron control over the power surge as he moved. Energy bled through his skin as fast as he could channel it away. Heather’s feathers fluttered in an intangible breeze, and their soft edges lit up gold with shimmers of visible light. She snapped her wings open, curving them protectively forward around Elena and Grace, and aurorae sparkled like rainbow glitter in the air.   

Grace turned paler than pale and closed her eyes. Her lips moved silently—praying, it looked like. Jack couldn’t blame her.  If thinking what the fuck counted as a prayer, then he was praying too. He’d never felt anything like this in his life, and he never wanted to feel it ever again.

What he wanted was to get Elena away from it as fast as possible.



Spoilers will abound after this point, so I’ll be sharing more from other works for the next month or few. Bear with me.

BFFs: a bit from Flight Plan

I haven’t shared from this book yet. No idea why. Here’s one of my favorite scenes.


Naomi saw Serena’s feet first. A bare toe rubbed over the top step of the porch stairs beside her, and then Serena sat down while balancing bagels stacked on steaming mugs in each hand. She still wore nothing but the filthy camouflage sneak suit, and she smelled like garbage. Sleepy eyes gleamed at Naomi over a secretive smile. “I promised to go to bed,” she said. “But you’re on the way. Good morning.”

Naomi took a mug and let tears spill down her cheeks. “I love you so much.”

“It’s only tea, Naomi. It isn’t even good tea.”

“It’s more.” She wiped her face and sipped the perfectly acceptable black pekoe blend. “You don’t realize how much better you’ve been, the last few days.”

“Well, don’t get too excited. I’m still a moody bitch.” Serena wrapped her arm around Naomi’s waist. “I love you too, Bao-bao. You held me up until I could run again.”

Naomi put her head in the curve of Serena’s shoulder. “Whatever.”

Birds were peeping in the drooping evergreens somewhere, and the gray sky was lightening in advance of the sunrise. The breeze was light and cool. Naomi shifted the tea to one hand and took a bite of half-thawed bagel. While she ate, she went back to doing what she’d been doing before Serena arrived: wondering why Parker wasn’t freezing to death out on the lawn in nothing but a pair of cut-off sweatpants.

He squared his shoulders and flowed smoothly from one t’ai chi form to another. His balance never wavered as he pivoted to face them, but surprise came through: he hadn’t noticed Serena’s arrival. His attention went back to the exercise, and then he smiled.

Naomi couldn’t keep her lips from curving up, but she firmly put him out of her mind even as heat coiled through her. Boundaries were important.

“Why is ‘threesome’ the first thing every guy thinks when he sees us together?” Serena asked. She added loudly, “She doesn’t share, sorry.”

Parker came down flat-footed. Chest muscles and abs rippled when he took a deep breath, and his face flushed red. Serena hummed appreciatively.

Apprehension sputtered to life within Naomi’s heart as Parker turned away and got back on task. “Serena, I know you, and—please, let me have this? I can’t compete, you know I can’t.”

“No, no, no.” Serena kissed her on the ear. “Silly Naomi. Very much no.”

The cheerful emphasis was as confusing as it was a relief. Naomi went back to watching Parker. “Why not? You’ve been sniffing after him since you met.”

“Only because I could feel him, steady-safe like you at my center. Secure, not sexy. You and I don’t have sex.” A moment passed. “Together, I mean.” Another pause. “Except those couple of times way back when, but we were both stoned and drunk at once, so I don’t think they count.”

“Stop.” Giggles bubbled up. Naomi stifled them. “You are not helping.”

For a moment they were fifteen again, winding down from a night of harmless pranks and minor property crimes. They had been so young. So full of hopes and passion. Life hadn’t been perfect, but the future had been infinite. Their limitless reality had imploded, desperation had crushed them both into tiny futures with no room for dreams, and then even those unenviable lives had been torn to pieces.

This morning felt like rebirth.

Serena set down her cup to nestle closer, but her breath stank and so did the rest of her. Naomi pushed her away. “Dirty girl.”

“I am.” Serena was still watching Parker. “He is hotter than a chili pepper, and you haven’t even nibbled on him yet. What is wrong with you?”

Boundaries, Serena.”

“I can’t help noticing. He’s in the same place you are.” She rubbed a fist between her breasts. “Steady-safe, the pair of you. Like my heartbeat.”

“Notice away, but I will not talk about anything we do or don’t do. Ever.”

 


And because this one’s from a book that’s available for sale, the mandatory promotional link: mybook.to/Flightplan

Kindle, Paperback and Audiobook.

(audio available through iTunes, Audible.com and Amazon)