Book Cover Reveal: The Reckoning Squad by S. Burke @pursoot#thriller

Today I have the privilege of participating in a cover reveal for a very talented author, Suzanne Burke.

I’ve read several of her books and have become a fan! The details on her new book, The Reckoning Squad, are given below. If you like what you read, please consider pre-ordering her book from the link provided at the end of this blog.

I’ll let Suzanne take it from here.

Hello, and welcome to the Cover Reveal of my New Psychological Thriller.

“The Reckoning Squad.”

 

the-reckoning-squad-cover-reveal-banner.

Available to Pre-Order NOW.

Release Date:  Monday FEBRUARY 24th, 2020.

Mystery>Psychological Thriller & Suspense >

I have many good friends sharing this cover across the blogosphere today and tomorrow, so you’re likely to see it pop up in various places. Thank you to everyone participating in my cover reveal splash, and to everyone dropping by to share in my excitement. Here’s my new baby . . .

With much gratitude to Eeva Lancaster at The Book Khaleesi for the cover creation.

Cover Created by Eeva Lancaster at The Book Khaleesi

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BLURB:

The Reckoning Squad was the new name being whispered in the darkened corridors of the powerful in Washington. The name was whispered with awe, and the whispers grew louder.

Twenty people had been carefully vetted and recruited to undergo specialized training. Training engineered to break them utterly, intended to shatter everything they once believed themselves capable of surviving. Only the best of them made it through the twelve weeks of hell. They now formed a cohesive black-ops unit, known as The Reckoning Squad.

Their facility is breached, and the team’s numbers are decimated. The survivors know that they’re in a fight for their lives. They have been betrayed from within. Trust has now become a rare commodity. They want answers.

The betrayers don’t understand just what they’ve unleashed.

But they are about to find out.

The Reckoning Squad are coming, and they have just rewritten the rules.

Here’s an extract from the Prologue.

Prologue.

New York: November 8th, 2003.

Chastity Adams checked the time, ran a brush through her long blonde curls and hurriedly grabbed her school books. She shoved them into her backpack and slipped on her gloves. One quick look from her bedroom window was enough to tell her just how windy it was outside. The last of the fall leaves still clung bravely to the branches all the while knowing it was futile. The others swirled in small angry spirals across her backyard. She grabbed her coat, pulled on a beanie, and loosely draped a scarf across her shoulders. Chastity was unaware of how pretty she looked with her long curls falling in a soft curtain around her. Her mind was too busy to cloud it with vanity.

She suddenly recalled a decision she’d made yesterday.

Chastity hurried down the hallway to her brother Nathan’s room and knocked on the door.

Nathan stood looking down at her from his 6ft 3ins, rubbing his eyes and leaning on the wall. “What’s up, squirt?”

Chastity ignored the nickname, she’d be thirteen in a couple of days then she’d ask her big brother to quit using it, “I was just wondering if you had some gloves and maybe a beanie or scarf you don’t ever wear.”

“Why would you need them?”

Chastity flushed a deep shade of pink, “There’s this boy at school, he kinda always looks cold. He’s still wearing the same stuff he was wearing back in June. It’s way too cold now for shorts and a tee-shirt. So, I figured maybe his folks just didn’t have enough money to buy him some warmer stuff, you know? I mean he could have one of mine, but he already gets picked on enough and adding bright girl colored stuff would just make it worse.”

“You off on another one of your missions to save the world, squirt?”

“I’m not! But it just doesn’t seem right that some folks have too much and some folks never have enough. That’s all.”

Her brother looked at her closely and nodded. “Okay. I guess I have some stuff I don’t really need.”

His sister flung her arms around him. “You are the best brother ever! You wouldn’t maybe have an old hoodie as well?”

Nathan knew he’d lose an argument with his kid sister. He had never been able to deny her anything. And the little minx knew it.

His eyes followed her as she left the room with her donated bootie. He tried to shrug off the thought that his friends may start looking at his kid sister a little differently, and soon.

Then he grinned and was comforted by the knowledge that the squirt was capable of laying them out flat on the ground, courtesy of the karate lessons she’d undertaken since the age of five. If she didn’t dissuade them they’d have to come through him. That wasn’t about to happen. This whole big brother thing had suddenly altered in a way he hadn’t anticipated happening quite so soon.


Travis Wilson shivered as he stepped outside and hurriedly locked the front door behind him. The baggy shorts and tee-shirt he was wearing gave him no armor to fight off the cold November wind. He steeled himself to brace it, picked up his violin case and hurried to catch the school bus.

He climbed on and made his way quickly down to the back corner and grabbed the window seat. He spoke to no one and kept his eyes averted, but he couldn’t shut his ears off from hearing the nasty comments from the other kids that sat nearest to him. “You going away to a beach somewhere, freak? Don’t much like your choice of swimwear.”

The guy had secured himself a good laugh with that one.

Then the other comments started. Kids seemed to grow braver when they formed a pack. Travis knew they weren’t all cruel, not normally, but the need they had to belong trashed all over their distaste at what they were doing. Driven by the desire to be considered popular inspired them to be as cruel as they could be. Their words lacerated his already damaged soul and Travis felt his face darken with the shame of it. He didn’t respond either by word or action, knowing they’d soon become bored with their bullying of him and move their spiteful tongues on to some other kid they deemed to be weak and an easy target.

He looked out the window and sighed with relief when he spotted Chastity Adams and her best friends readying to climb onboard at the bus stop. Chastity was different from the rest of them. He always felt a little better about his day when she’d seek him out and give him a smile. He looked across at her then, just as she turned. He knew she had caught the wistful look on his face. She simply smiled across at him and turned back to her chattering best friends.

He caught the smile and burned it into his memory. He would remember it when the darkness descended again. It would help keep him warm.


Purchase The Reckoning Squad on Amazon.com

Again my grateful thanks to the generous folks sharing my Cover reveal with you today.

I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

Suzanne Burke Amazon Author Page

On TWITTER.

My Blog

Guest Post: Self-Publishing, by Mark Bierman

Not too long ago, I had the privilege of being hosted by talented blogger, DA-AL, on her wonderful blogsite Happiness Between The Tails. I encourage everyone to visit her site, there is a variety of topics, it’s well crafted and there’s something for all! Thank you again, DA-AL for this opportunity.

Human trafficking occurs in every country, including Canada and the U.S. In light of this, Ontario novelist/blogger Mark Bierman dedicates 50% of profits from his book, “Vanished,” to organizations that help victims of this terrible crime. He first guest posted on Happiness Between Tails here. Read on for what he’s learned about self-publishing…

“Self-Publishing” by Mark Bierman

It’s 5a.m. as I climb out of bed and begin to brew the cognition ignition potion, or coffee if you wish to go by its scientific classification. The percolation underway, I pad off to my writer’s den, or the “spare bedroom,” as some in this house call it. The computer is poked awake and generates particles of light that spread across the mahogany desk until they reach the ‘bills to pay’ file box. A tiny shadow figure climbs into the box, and peers malevolently up at me.

“Karl Jackson, if you wish to pay my bills, that’s fine, just be sure to hop back into the story when you’re done.”

If anyone can afford to liberate us from debt, it’s the villainous King of the Klondike. I keep my voice calm to hide my concern. Oh, he goes on these forays almost daily but has never before managed to enter our world until the file marked, ‘trimmedprodigalson,’ has been opened. Hmmm . . . I must look into upgrading the firewall. The filename is not the title for the new book but rather denotes the concept. The ‘trimmed’ portion is the result of my cantankerous nitpicking of the original manuscript. I can’t speak for every author, but for me, a book is never really finished. I’ve yet to reread my first novel, Vanished, for sanity’s sake.

It’s a Wednesday, and I’m off from my survival job as a Correctional Officer. That means I have a full two hours of novel writing before the rest of the house is awake and the nineteenth-century morphs back into the twenty-first. When the clock chimes seven, my role as an author ceases, and I put my parenting hat on. There are kids to feed and drive to school, after that, chores, a workout, and whatever else the day brings. I try to squeeze in marketing between it all and combine it with other tasks. Instagram is often dealt with while riding the stationary bike, what else am I going to do, count the tiles in the basement ceiling? Twitter, best posted on between the hours of nine am to three pm, can be done at lunch, Facebook too. I’m careful not to crow about myself, too often. The rule of thumb is to focus 80% on others and 20% on yourself. So far, that formula has worked well for me.

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Blogs are the hardest and most time-consuming. I commit the sin of failing to post regularly, I know better. To truly grow your audience, you need to be consistent. Many bloggers post daily and have themed days. It’s something I’m working on, but time is not my ally here.

So, how did this all begin? How did someone in my profession decide to become an Indie Author? To tell you the truth, my job is precisely the reason. The pay is great, and with twenty years in, I have plenty of vacation days and a pension at the end of it all. Sounds great, right? Well, those perks come at a cost. The toll on your mental health can be overwhelming. Five years ago, I decided to find a positive outlet for my creative side, a place to share and bond with people who are focused on a dream and appreciate the work you do. The one positive thing I will say about my years in law enforcement is my vast collection of story and character fodder. Oh yes, there’s plenty of that in the good old Big House.

So why Indie? Are you not good enough to find a publisher? The truth is, I tried, but only twice. I waited six months to be rejected by both. I’m too impatient for that. Plus, I’ve heard stories of publishers changing parts of storylines or characters, nope, I wanted to control my own material. Of course, this may not apply to all publishers. Please don’t get me wrong, if you wish to pursue the traditional route, go for it! It’s a personal choice.

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Whichever path you choose, I highly recommend using Beta-Readers and professional proofreaders. No one wants to get those Amazon Reviews that call in to question the author’s level of grammar comprehension. Some of the best reads I’ve come across are Indie, others, not so much. However, I can say the same about traditionally published works. Remember, tastes vary, and some will cry for more chocolate while others prefer vanilla. Don’t expect a romance junkie to read your thriller through the same lens. You can’t write for everyone, find your niche, and build your fan base.

One last thing, before I go, find your ‘people.’ By that, I mean your support crew. Be it fellow authors, bloggers, reviewers, those in the industry, and in the know. They will help you become a better writer, offer constructive criticism, encourage and open doors for you.

I love this gig but writing and marketing a novel is a herculean task. This may sound silly, but I liken it to pushing a giant boulder that resembles a half-moon. The flat side remains motionless until heaved onto the rounded side. There may be a brief reprieve as you watch it roll for a short distance, but then it lands on the flat side again. If you leave the stone too long, moss grows on it. Yes, you can keep hoisting that stone in solo fashion, hoping that the flatness wears into a curve, but you’ll probably end up overworked and discouraged. Wouldn’t it be nice to have loyal and encouraging people to help keep that sucker moving? You will, of course, do likewise for them. I’ve been fortunate to find such a community. This includes da-AL and the members of Rave Reviews Book Club. Rave Reviews, founded by author Nonnie Jules, is an online community of both Indie and Traditionally Published writers, of all genres, all walks of life, and from around the world. I’ve been part of this family, because that’s what it feels like to me, for several years.

I found them by accident one day, as I was searching for more book clubs to join. I had been a member of several at this point, but something drew me to Rave Reviews, they are genuine and committed to helping. Currently, it is the only book club I’m involved with. They have helped me grow as a writer. Yes, there is an expectation of paying it forward. While that does take you away from your own project for a brief time, just remember, others are doing the same for you.

 

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There is a catalogue that includes books written by members. Everyone is encouraged to pitch in and do their best to support their fellow members by answering questions about writing, providing feedback about works in progress (Beta Reading), as well as advice and support on social media platforms. They have great programs such as, ‘Books of the Month,’ which feature member’s and their works, podcasts that allow a member to discuss their work, and even emotional support. I’ve personally been a ‘Book of the Month’ author and have also been featured on several podcasts. I once had a question about a book I was working on, whether or not to publish it as a series or as a single book. The problem was I had too much story for a single book, but not enough for a third. I was unsure and posed the concern to the group. Within a half-hour, I received advice that two-book series are acceptable. What a relief!

I highly recommend joining. You can find out more about Rave Reviews here.

Thank you, da-AL, for having me as a guest on your wonderful blog! I also want to thank you, the reader, for taking the time to visit this post. I wish you all the best in your writing career, or whatever you choose to do in life. Follow your passions, and take heart that setbacks are usually temporary and often the greatest teachers. Now if you’ll please excuse me, Karl Jackson is drinking my coffee and using my tablet to play Minecraft. It’s time to write him home.

Find out more about Mark and his writing at his website here and his blog here.

What’s your publishing game-plan?

Partial Excerpt from Chapter 1 of my Upcoming Novel

Happy Saturday! It’s one of my rare weekends off from work and I thought I’d share a segment of Chapter One from my next novel. I refrained from putting the entire chapter on here because of spoilers. No, I don’t have a title for the book yet, I always seem to leave that for the end. It’s just a quirk of mine, I guess. Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoy!

 

Chapter One

Seattle, Washington

June 6, 1889

 

“The tide’s out! The stream won’t reach!” cried a firefighter from Engine Company Number One.

The steam-powered Amoskeag chugged on as it sucked the frigid water from Elliot Bay, before sending it smashing against the only flameless wall of the Commercial Mill.

“Just push the dang thing into the depths!” A bystander suggested. He pointed a beefy finger towards the black smoke that poured from the pumper’s stack. “It’s only making things worse!”

This was the end of the mill, it was obvious, even to thirteen-year-old Danne Stromgren. The place where he’d worked with his father, Albin, for the past year, would soon be ashes. Mother had once told him that hope was the best cure for despair, but there was little of the former and plenty of the latter on the faces of Father and the other mill workers. Some of them shouted bad words at the firemen, the kind that would have earned Danne a mouthful of soap. Danne added one or two but Father squeezed his arm hard. The pain was far worse than the taste of Sapolio.

“It’s not their fault! Look around! Half the downtown is on fire! There’s not enough water in the pipes! We must get your brother from school and hurry home! Do you understand?”

The question was not meant to be answered, that became clear when Father pulled him into the street. Removed from the cooling wind of the bay, the sudden blast of heat gave Danne a new sympathy for melting candles. Smoke wasps stung his eyes and built hives in his lungs, he tried to cough them up. They dug in with lengthy stingers.

Swarms of people raced through the downtown. They fled from stores and businesses that had made their final sales. Piles of clothing and food had grown legs. Mr. Rennalls burst from his barbershop, with his latest victim at his heals. Half of the man’s face was still covered in shaving soap and blood. A young woman crashed into Danne from behind. The cobbletones beneath him sparkled with hundreds of orange, red, and silver stars. She dropped to her knees and hastily snatched up the necklaces and rings as she muttered to herself about stupid, clumsy boys.

Guilt overcame the “clumsy” boy and he stooped to help. He was yanked to a stand.

“Not worth dying for! Keep moving!” Father commanded.

Another block flew beneath their feet, and yet the inferno remained one step ahead. Heated tongues lapped greedily at an unused wooden fire hydrant in an apparent attempt to destroy the enemy. Danne’s expectation that water would burst from the hydrant in a counterattack, went unmet. His father’s words about the lack of water pressure came back to him.

A familiar, though blurry, sign came into view. Danne wiped away his tears. Wallack’s Seamstress Shop! Erik’s school was a stone’s throw away! A silent prayer for his younger sibling’s life was cut short by a loud explosion. He was shoved to the ground. The impact, along with a crushing weight on his back, stole what little breath he had.

“Stay down!” Father shouted into his ear. There was little choice, Albin was a large man.

Danne tried to scream for release. He pushed against the cobblestones, attempting to lift himself high enough to breathe and when that failed, was reduced to slapping the street in helpless desperation.

“Get up!” Father’s strong arms hauled Danne to a stand. His deprived lungs sprang into immediate action, filling themselves to the bursting point. Their good intentions were punished for failing to distinguish air from smoke.

Father paid no heed to his son’s coughing fit and pulled him forward with the power of a locomotive. The boy managed a quick glance backwards and saw that a fiery fist had smashed through the wall of the liquor store.

“Don’t look back, Danne! Faster!”

They were almost at the end of the street when the liquor store exploded. A fiery storm rained over the entire block. Falling embers landed around and on the two of them, but they’d escaped the worst of it.

“Keep up boy!” Father snarled.

Danne was yanked around the corner and onto Marion Street. This street, for the moment, was untouched by flames, but the smoke was beginning to creep in. Madrone Elementary, a half block away, came into hazy view.

They reached the school and were met inside the main entrance by Erik’s teacher. Her name always escaped Danne’s memory, but it sounded something like sausage. That’s what he called her, Mrs. Sausage. Leave it to him to think about food at a time like this. He could be forgiven for her name, he’d skipped a grade due to his intelligence and extraordinary vocabulary. He’d left the school a year before she’d arrived.

At the moment, Mrs. Sausage was frantic. She white knuckled the handle of a large-cloth bag and spoke quickly. She declared that Mother and Charlotte had already taken Erik home.

Danne was jerked backwards by Father’s hand, twisting his torso and causing a momentary twinge of pain.

The door opened to a scene from Pompeii. Pillars of soot moved over the neighborhood, like ghostly serpents, dropping bits of ash onto gingerbread trim and turning greenery into slate.

The boy’s stomach wanted to empty. If it were not for the strength of Father, he would already be lying in a pile of vomit, gasping for that last breath. A two-legged fish in a hostile world that he once called home.

Unlike Pompeii, this volcano actually moved! And with freight-train speed! The boy dared himself to look back but refused his own challenge. There was no need for him to see it. The wall of heat that toasted his back combined with the crackle of wooden bones splintering was proof enough. There was no outrunning or avoiding an iron horse that required no track. All seemed lost until they reached the intersection of Abbey and Thorn. A quick turn onto Abbey and they’d arrived! Mother, Erik, and his younger sister, Charlotte, stood anxiously in front of the fourth rowhouse on the left. A two-storey Gothic-Style that had been home to Danne from birth.

“Thank you, Lord!” Mother cried in relief. She embraced them both.

There was little time for a happy reunion. Abbey street would soon be a memory.

“Grab anything of reasonable size and value. Put them on the front yard!” Father ordered, “I’ll be back soon.” During their dash through the chaotic downtown, Father had noticed people hiring wagon drivers to move belongings onto ships docked at the wharves. The idea had yet to be generated in this neighborhood. The patriarch rushed off, not waiting to ensure that his orders were carried out. There was no reason for him to do so, his commands were always obeyed.

This is only a segment of the first chapter. To include more would include spoilers.

 

It’s Great To Be a Passenger!

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Please don’t get me wrong, I love being an author! It’s great to play the role of creator, narrator, character, researcher, proofreader, and reader, all at once. 

Yet, to sit back and just read the written words of another, is so rejuvenating and relaxing!  It’s truly wonderful being a passenger and letting someone else drive the train!

To all of my fellow authors, readers, reviewers, and bloggers, I want to say a huge “Thank you!” 

Keep taking me on those journeys! 

Review of Emerging From Shadows, Poetry by Balroop Singh

The Blurb:

From darkness into light, from despair onto the wider ways of hope…life oscillates between sunshine and shadows. Emerging from shadows is a choice, which lies dormant, which can be gently inspired by self-talk. Each poem in this book banks on the hope of emerging stronger, saner, positive and resilient. Each poem in this book would talk to you, revealing layers of enclosed emotions. Each poem would divulge a secret path that could lead you into the world of poise and serenity.

When turbulences hit, when shadows of life darken, when they come like unseen robbers, with muffled exterior, when they threaten to shatter your dreams, it is better to break free rather than get sucked by the vortex of emotions.

My Thoughts:

In all honesty, for most of my life, I have not read much poetry, having preferred novels and short stories. This has changed since I’ve joined Rave Reviews Book Club and discovered the many talented poets who are part of this writing family. I include Balroop Singh to be among them.

This was the first, and it won’t be the last, book of poetry that I have devoured by this talented author. Each poem follows a similar theme of choosing to make those first, and sometimes painful, steps from inner darkness and pessimism to hope and optimism.

Poetry can often deliver a greater emotional impact using vivid imagery and flowery language, in a far more efficient manner than novels. I believe this is due to the liberty from the requirements of developing in-depth backgrounds for mutiple characters that must hustle through a plotline, while avoiding a backlog of too much detail. Poetry is truly a time-warp back to the Victorian-style of writing, and is a treat!

I highly recommend this book and give it a five star rating!

About the Author:

Balroop Singh, an educationalist, a poet and an author always had a passion for writing. She would jot down her reflections on a piece of paper and forget about them till each drawer of her home started overflowing with poetic reminders, popping out at will! The world of her imagination has a queer connection with realism. She could envision the images of her own poetry while teaching the poems. Her dreams saw the light of the day when she published her first poetry book: ‘Sublime Shadows Of Life.’ She has always lived through her heart. She is a great nature lover; she loves to watch birds flying home. The sunsets allure her with their varied hues that they lend to the sky. She can spend endless hours listening to the rustling of leaves and the sound of waterfalls. She lives in San Ramon California.

If you wish to purchase a copy of this book, or another written by Singh, you can do so by clicking on this link: Emerging From Shadows, Poetry by Balroop Singh

 

Review of The Cracked Mirror, Reflections of an Appalachian Son, by Billy Ray Chitwood

Hello again! It’s been awhile since I’ve posted on here but with the kids home for summer holidays and all the activities that come with that, my time has been limited. I also apologize for not keeping up with my reading of other blogs. I did, however, manage to write a guest post for a talented author and fellow member of Rave Reviews Book Club,  D.L. Finn.

But this blog is not about me, and I wish to move on with a review that is a well-deserved five stars. The synopsis is written just below, followed by my thoughts on the book.

 

Cracked Mirror

Synopsis:

When Prentice Paul Hiller enters the senior care facility he brings with him not only a hip surgery gone wrong, but a mirror of his past, cracked with the stress of all his memories: a family broken apart by their Appalachian circumstances and the ‘great depression’; a childhood tainted by a father’s abusive nature; an impetuous marriage and a sorrowful divorce; a subsequent search of ‘isms’ and for love and meaning in California bars; a tableau of horrible events, including a senseless murder and a desert survival.

THE CRACKED MIRROR, Reflections of an Appalachian Son, is a search for some semblance of legacy by PP Hiller as he feels the weight of aging and a perceived inconsequental life, In an Arizona senior care facility he bonds with Greta Fogel, herself a patient and a former clinical psychologist. Encouraged by Greta, PP writes of his life, his heritage, his mistakes, the events that have shaped him, and the demon within that he cannot dispel. He gives his passionate views on criminal justice, love, politics, religion, war, and his favorite writers. Greta gives her insight and support, telling some of her own life’s secrets. There is pain in the writing of his memoir, but there is also closure and a guarded inner peace. This short stay in the care facility brings more clarity to PP’s life and yet another memory to store away… to take with him to the ‘Sea of Cortez’.

“In the end my story must be like so many others, the story of a simple kid who grew up eating some emotional soup and spending a lifetime trying to digest it.”

My Review:

Prentice Paul Hiller is a deep thinker who has a strong opinion about everything. Aging and suffering from a hip injury, the man is forced to spend time recovering in a senior nursing complex. At first, he judges the staff he dubs, ‘the greenies,’ with a cynical mindset. He is plagued by painful memories and guilt over past mistakes, his view of life is pretty dim.

That all begins to change after he meets Greta, a temporary resident and former clinical psychologist who encourages Prentice to talk and write about them. The story runs in a dual narrative style, each chapter alternates between the distant past and his current life in the nursing home. I appreciated this style, as it linked his life experiences as the possible cause for his mental and emotional anguish. An abusive father, the murder of a beloved uncle, a failed marriage, and a child who developes a drug addiction, are only a few of the ghosts that haunt this poor man.

The reader cannot help but be drawn into the drama, joy, trauma, mischief, and heartbreak that makes up the life of Prentice. The personal growth and healing that takes place during his stay at the home is encouraging, and character growth is what makes a story great! He comes to an undertsanding, not only about himself, but others, as well. His abusive father had his own demons, and there is both dark and light in almost everyone and everyplace. He learns to forgive those who have trespassed against him, including himself. He sees the world with new eyes, including those meanie ‘greenies.’

The only issue, and it might be just a personal pet peeve, is the frequent use of parenthesis in the writing. It’s just not my thing, so others may not be as opposed.

Despite this one quirk, I highly recommend this book. If you are into interesting life stories where the main character comes to personal growth and understanding, this is a must-read.

To purchase your copy, you can do so at Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome To The WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! #RRBC #RWISA With Suzanne Burke.

Watch Write Showcase Tour

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Welocme back!  If you haven’t been following our wonderful Rave Writers – International Society of Authors (RWISA) blog tour, you can view most of the former posts on this site. It began on July 1. Today I have the privilege of hosting Suzanne Burke.

 

THURSDAY’S CHILD

By

Suzanne Burke.

Copyright 2019.

 

She hadn’t really intended this to happen. Oh, sure, she’d thought about it often enough, but thinking about something didn’t make it a crime. A convergence of circumstances had prompted her choice. Regret was such an outmoded commodity.

She checked her latex gloves fitted well, and flicked her dark eyed gaze across to where Peter Cameron lay, still and silent. “You brought this on yourself, Peter. Did you think me a complete fool?”

Carol moved across to the edge of the bed and stood over him. She reached down and flicked the blonde hair back from his forehead, then gently rested her hand there.

“You’re cold. Shall I fetch you a blanket?” Her laughter soothed her.

The man’s eyes were now open, and Carol revelled in the fear she witnessed in their blue depths. “Ah, there you are. How do you feel?” She laughed again. “Oh, silly me. You can’t feel anything. Can you? Such a handy little drug, and no taste I believe, especially in your malt whiskey.”

Peter Cameron’s blue eyes registered the words and Carol watched on as he commanded his brain to activate his fingers, his arms. He had no control of his voicebox. His brain refused to obey. He remained still.

“Oh, don’t fret so, darling. You’re not going to die … yet. The paralysis will last just long enough for my needs. It’s all in the timing. You need to helplessly contemplate what I may have in store for your immediate future.”

Carol walked away from him, and headed for the bar, whistling happily in anticipation. She placed his used glass and the bottle of Glenfiddich into her handbag, then poured a stiff belt of burbon into a paper cup, and seated herself comfortably on the sofa in the large living room and admired afresh the warm ambience of her surroundings. 

“The best that all my money could buy.” Her voice brought her comfort.

She drained the cup and refilled it. When empty she crumpled it and placed it alongside the other items now concealed in the bag.

The wall clock reaffirmed that she had an hour remaining before company arrived. She nodded in satisfaction and rested. 

With twenty minutes remaining she stood and checked on her captive one more time. “Not long now.”

A low groan came from the bed. 

Carol gently stroked his cheek. “Are you terrified, my darling? Your eyes tell me you are. Good. That’s as it should be.”

Carol smiled in satisfaction and left the room, content to wait this out for a few minutes. At exactly 11.02p.m she heard the front door open and close again. A musical female voice called out, “Peter? Darling, where are you?”

Carol listened carefully from her dark space in the hallway. She held her breath as the woman came into view and she watched her enter the master-bedroom in search of her lover.

“Waiting in bed for me, darling? That’s different. I thought we were going to share a late supper.”

The woman sounded disappointed.

“He can be very disappointing. I agree.” Carol said from the doorway.

The woman jumped in fright and managed to say “Oh, my God. I’m not, that is, we aren’t, this isn’t.” She shut her mouth when her frightened eyes took note that her lover’s wife was standing in front of her wearing latex gloves and aiming a gun at her head.

“It isn’t what? An affair? Oh, please. Do you expect me to believe that you’ve come here to my home every second Thursday at 11.00p.m for 3 months to do something innocent?  Go ahead, enlighten me. I’m a reasonable woman. Convince me I don’t have a reason to hate you.”

“Please! I’m so sorry. It doesn’t mean anything.”

“Oh, no, Thursday’s Girl. It means everything. The others meant nothing to him, therefore I ignored them. Ah, but you, you’re different. Turn around, let me take a closer look at you.”

Carol walked across to the shaking woman and prodded her with Peter’s handgun. “I said turn around.”

The younger woman nodded and hurriedly complied.

“He does love a tight ass. Long legs too. That’s always a bonus.”

“He doesn’t care about me. It’s a … a fling.”

“Nice try.”

“I’ll end it and never see him again. I promise. I’m sorry, please. Let me go.” The woman was sobbing now.

“Don’t you want to know how I know your special?”

The woman shook her head. “I’m not ….”

“Shut your stupid mouth and listen!” Carol barely controlled her anger and shoved the nozzle of the Glock into her rival’s chest.

She drew a deep calming breath and lowered the gun slightly. “I know, because he’s been happy. Happier than he’s been for many years. The only thing that’s different in his life since the advent of his peculiar behaviour is you!”

Carol fished inside the pocket of the coat she was wearing and drew out a small velvet box. “He brought you this little diamond trinket from Caliago. His jeweller of choice. It’s an engagement ring for you, Thursday’s Girl. The ring size is smaller than mine, and besides I only wear emeralds. My contact at the jewellers tells me it’s worth upwards of one million dollars. I do hope it’s insured. Give me your hand. Let’s try it on for size.”

The hand the woman held out was shaking. Carol nursed the gun, and held out the jewellery box. “Now place it on your finger. Don’t be stupid enough to flex your hand. Slide it on.”

The diamonds glistened as the ring slid into place perfectly.

“And lastly, should you think me presumptive, then don’t. You see our darling Peter visited our attorney to get the ball rolling for divorce proceedings. I can only wonder that he made such a stupid mistake. Our attorney was the one I recommended twenty-years ago. He earns every cent of the additional fees I pay him every month.”

Peter groaned again from the bed and his lover stood there watching on, too afraid to move.

Carol smiled. “How tragic love is. How very sad that you came here to end your relationship. Peter Cameron had never been denied anything in his life. He couldn’t take the rejection. He apparently decided that if he couldn’t have you, then nobody would.

The woman began to scream, and Carol laughed with pleasure. “Oh, yes, scream. Go right ahead! We do love living out here. There’s a righteous freedom in having no near neighbors.”

The woman was still sobbing as Carol sat next to Peter on the bed and shot her three times in the chest. She calmly watched as the body was flung backward by the impact and dropped to the floor.

Carol gazed down on her for long enough to see the faint hold on life vacate her eyes.

Carol checked the spandex gloves, satisfied that they’d worked as they should. She placed the weapon down for a moment as she removed the other things that she’d need from the bureau.

Peter’s arm felt like a dead weight as she wrapped the tourniquet around his upper bicep. The veins responded beautifully, and Carol inserted the syringe and watched in fascination as her husband’s body jerked several times. She watched him begin to foam at the mouth. She watched him die. “Heroin is so deadly, if you don’t get the dosage just right. I believe it’s referred to as a ‘hot shot’. 

She placed the Glock in his right hand and checked to ensure the trajectory married up with the bullet’s impact on his dead companion. Carol squeezed his fingers closed around the weapon with his finger on the trigger, then let his arm drop and the gun lay loosely in the dead hand.

Carol stood back and admired her handiwork. Content now she hurried outside.

She ran to her car secreted behind a tall stand of trees and drove it into her driveway, behind the visitors Porche. She let the car idle and punched in 911 on her iPhone.

“911. What is the nature of your emergency?”

“Please! Help me. I need help! Please!” The voice was frantic.

“I’ll help you, Ma’am, but I need you to calm down. Please tell me what is happening.”

“I heard a woman screaming! Then I think there were gunshots! Now I can’t hear anything. Please! Please, I beg you, please hurry, I think my husband is inside. Should I go in? I have to help him!”

“Please give me your address.”

Carol gave it.

“Do NOT enter the dwelling. Police and Paramedics are on the way. Stay on the line with me. Are you close to the house?”

“I’m outside in the driveway.”

“Please move away from the property. Stay away from the windows. They’re on their way.”

***

CNN breaking news.

“In breaking news! The body of United States Senator Peter Cameron has been found at his home. A crime scene now exists. Early indications from our sources indicate that another body has been found at the scene. Murder/Suicide has not been ruled out.”

“Tragically it was the senator’s wife who made the grim discovery. She is reported to be resting under sedation. In deep shock as these events unfold. Police at this stage don’t believe that a third party was involved in the tragedy.”

Carol listened to the excited broadcaster and smiled.

Then she settled down in her pristine hospital bed and drifted off to a contented sleep.

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