Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Hero In Camera - Chapter 5

Here's your last unedited sample chapter of Hero In Camera. This post had to be scheduled a week and a half ago because at the moment this posts, I'm taking a family member to the hospital for a scheduled surgery. I'm not a big "thoughts and prayers" person, but if you could give a tiny wish for a successful surgery and good health to my cousin Suzan (yes, there are two of us), I would appreciate it.

Hero In Camera goes on sale tomorrow!

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Harri punched in the number for Carol Inunza as soon as Susan closed the office door on her way out. The phone rang twice before the receptionist answered. “Inunza and Cervantes, how may I help you?”

“Good morning, Ngoc,” Harri said as she played with her pen. “This is Harri Winters. Is Carol in?”

“One moment, Ms. Winters.” Ngoc was nothing if not efficient.

The line clicked and Carol’s teasing voice blasted through the speaker. “I expected your call before the NSB’s, Harri.”

“I’m surprised I haven’t gotten a call from them yet.” She frowned. It was weird. Carol was listed as second chair on all the legal documents regarding Miss Purrception. Why did the NSB call her first?

“Don’t sweat it,” Carol said. “It’s probably because I was the last one to visit Miss Purrception at Mauvaises. If the NSB hasn’t called you yet, how’d you find out?”

“I got a nasty call from my ex-husband this morning.” Harri sighed. “Did you have any indication she planned something like this?”

“Probably about as much as you did. I brought up the fact she has a history of escaping custody with you at the beginning.”

“Like I haven’t gotten enough we-told-you-so’s from my partners and staff this morning. Shit.” Harri wanted to bang her head on her desk. “I really thought she was serious about turning a new leaf. This is going to break her family’s hearts.”

“I know it hurts putting your neck out like that,” Carol crooned. “But all you can do is chalk it up to lesson learned.”

“Did the NSB tell you who escaped with Miss Purrception?” Harri asked.

“Hard Knock, but those two are like peanut butter and jelly when it comes to jail breaks,” Carol said with a laugh.

“Is that all they told you?” Harri could feel something was wrong. Why would the NSB hold back information with Carol? Unless a Corvus ally was fishing for something.

“Harri, I’m too busy to play Twenty Questions and so are you.”

“Trubble and Black Death escaped with Purrception and Knock.”

There was silence at the other end of the line. Long enough, Harri said, “Carol, talk to me. What are you thinking?”

Carol muttered an obscenity. “I’m thinking Miss Purrception is in over her head, and we’re all in deep shit. Why the hell would she go off with that scumbag after everything he put her through?”

“She may not have had a choice in the matter,” Harri said. “What if Black Death threatened her?”

“With what?” Carol asked. “If he killed her inside the prison, there was no way he’d ever get free. He’d be sedated until the day of his execution.”

“We know we didn’t uncover all of Corvus.” Harri stopped tapping her pen. “If Trubble has been in contact with someone on the outside—”

“Threatening her family would be right up the bastard’s alley,” Carol finished. “Can you get them to safety? Do you need my help?”

“No, I can take care of it,” Harri murmured. “Thanks for your help, Carol.”

God knew Harri didn’t want to make this phone call but Rue Liberty needed to know what had happened. Harri also knew she probably should be doing this in person, but Kerry and Molly lived with their grandmother, and she couldn’t deal with the looks of disappointment on the young women’s faces. She had seen the same look in her own mirror every time Dad fell off the wagon.

Harri gulped some more cinnamon coffee before she dialed the home number for Rue Liberty.

“Good morning, Harri.” The retired superhero sounded as chipper as ever despite her advanced years.

“Hey, Rue. How’s everything going?”

“Just wonderful with your investment tips.” Rue chuckled. “Want to tell me the real reason for this phone call?”

“Honestly, no, I don’t,” Harri said. “But there’s something you should know. Monica escaped from prison last night. You may be getting a call from the NSB some time today.”

The silence on the phone carried on for so long Harri feared she’d given the old lady a heart attack. “Rue, are you okay?”

“I—” Rue cleared her throat. “I want to say I’m surprised, but I’m not.”

“I think we all wanted to believe Monica had turned the proverbial new leaf,” Harri murmured. “Are the girls at home?”

“Kerry’s at the Museum of Natural History with her girlfriend, and Molly’s just left. She needed to run an errand before she went to the Lechuza Building.” Of course, Molly was. Rey and Aisha hired Molly because they wanted another super to watch their baby, and Harri’s godson, Mitch for the four hours they were both at work.

Harri squeezed her eyes shut. She just needed to hide in her office until Molly went up to Aisha’s loft. No, that was a chicken shit way to deal with the problem, and it sure to hell wasn’t fair to Molly Reinhold, AKA the superhero Nix.

“I’ll tell Molly what happened when she arrives.” Harri hesitated. The last thing she wanted to do was ruin Kerry’s date. “Do you know when—”

“I’ll tell Kerry when she gets home.” Rue sighed. “Provided the NSB doesn’t pick her up before I can tell her.”

“I’m sorry to lay this on you—”

“Harri, you tried your best,” Rue said.

“Yeah, but obviously my best wasn’t good enough,” Harri replied bitterly.

“It’s worse when you’re Miss Purrception’s mother.” Rue’s laugh was equally bitter.

No sooner had Harri hung up the receiver when Patty buzzed her.

“I’m a little busy, Patty. Can you take a message?”

“Harri, Special Agent Wilbur Nesmith of the NSB at the door.” Patty’s voice shook. “And he says he has a search warrant.”

“Be right there.” Harri resisted the urge to throw her phone and gently set the receiver in its cradle. For a Tuesday, this was beginning to feel like the worst Monday on record.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Hero In Camera - Chapter 4

I'm racing to finish this book before I head to a neighboring state. COVID makes travel fraught, but when a family member needs a bit of assistance, one must respond. Plus, I have plenty of PPE from the emergency trip down to Texas.

Therefore, here's another unedited sample to indulge you. Only one more before the book drops!

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Aisha sat at her desk and inhaled deeply in an attempt to compose herself. She hated to admit this to the others, but Miss Purrception’s actions felt like a very personal stab in the back. Especially after everything they went through together last year against Professor Paranoia in Japan. She’d backed Rey and Captain Takashi Takeda of Japan’s Superhuman Enforcement Bureau on releasing Miss Purrception because of her help. When Harri said Monica wanted to turn herself in, Aisha thought maybe Rey’s pep talk had gotten through to the supervillain.

The little light on the Line 1 button blinked at Aisha accusingly. She had been thoroughly deceived, not by Miss Purrception, but by her own wishful thinking. That couldn’t happen again. Not if she really wanted to continue as the Ghost Owl.

She released the lungful of air, picked up her receiver, and tapped the button on the phone set. “Good morning, Nella. I’m assuming you want an official statement concerning Miss Purrception’s escape.”

The change of dialogue threw off the Action 12! News producer from her stammering. “Uh, y-yes. Are things that bad, Aisha? You usually make me dance a little bit before giving me the sound bite.”

“Is that what you want? Me on camera for the statement?”

Nella chuckled. “You know I always want you on camera, girl! Do you have any idea how much our viewership goes up when you make an appearance? People in this city like you. In fact, I was hoping to have lunch with you this afternoon if you’re free.”

“Lunch?” Aisha could feel a hole about to open up beneath her feet. “May I ask why?”

“The station would like to offer you a job as an on-air legal commentator,” Nella said.

“What?” The word exploded from Aisha’s mouth.

“Come down to the station at eleven. We’ll film your statement about the Mauvaises escape for the noon news segment. Then we’ll discuss what the station would like to do.”

“What happened to Howard Dewey?” Aisha’s former boss had been the station’s on-air legal commentator since she had been in high school.

“His contract was up,” Nella said. “The corporate overlords want someone younger and more representative of the citizens of Canyon Pointe.”

“Uh-huh,” Aisha drawled. “What really happened?”

“The asshole got handsy with Essie.”

Rage surged through Aisha. Essie Morales, the evening co-anchor, was a sweet kid and damn good at her job. “Is Essie okay?”

“She’s fine. Nothing a swift kick in the sack couldn’t handle.” Nella chuckled.

“You know he’ll sue the shit out of the station for assault,” Aisha said.

“He threatened to.” Nella laughed some more. “Until we sent him a copy of the tape. Bob hadn’t turned off his camera and caught the whole damn incident. Anyway, you were the first lawyer I pitched to our station manager as a replacement, and Mark said yes.”

The silence dragged on for a second or two before Nella added, “The tab’s on the station for lunch, and I told them I’d have to take you someplace nice like Nolan’s.”

Aisha glanced at the little clock in the corner of her computer monitor screen. “You’re not giving me much time to prepare a statement.”

“We both know what you’re going to say, Aisha,” Nella chided. “Hell, I could write your press release for you if you want. But I have a second favor to ask.”

“I’m still not sure about the first favor.”

“Can you get the Ghost Owl to make a formal statement on behalf of the supers’ community about what they’re doing to find Miss Purrception?”

Aisha’s heart skipped a beat. Did Nella know the truth about Aisha and her alter ego? Had someone at the NSB leaked the information? Was the Corvus mole at the federal agency trying to cause more trouble for her and Rey after Trubble ended up in prison?

She swallowed hard. “I would have to call and ask. Can I ask why the Owl and not one of our other clients?”

“Because the Owl polled the highest in trust by our viewers,” Nella said. “He’s carrying a lot of leftover goodwill from his predecessor.”

“But why?” Aisha protested. “The first Ghost Owl was a vigilante.”

“And people think the new Owl is following in his daddy’s footsteps,” Nella said. “A chunk of them also think the new Owl got away with murdering Doctor Liquidation.”

“The Ghost Owl did not murder anyone,” Aisha growled. Is this what the public really thought of her? Tim had deliberately let stories foster about him as the original Ghost Owl, but he needed the bad ass reputation since he wasn’t a super.

“Hey, I believe you.” Nella sighed. “But the general public has a tendency to make up their own shit. In a way, it makes sense. The original Owl was on the little guys’ side on the north side without following the normal rules of superheroing. So, in their minds, most the citizenry would believe the new Owl plays fast and loose with the rules, too.”

“I can’t hide this information from the new Owl, Nella, without breaching my duty to a client.” With her agitation between Miss Purrception’s escape and the information on how the public looked at the Ghost Owl, Aisha’s butt left her chair. She quickly hooked her toes under the roller arms of her chair, but even the chair wobbled, threatening to float into the air with her.

“Do what you have to, but if he won’t do it, Sparx is our next choice,” Nella said.

“I may be a few minutes late to the station with all the phone calls I’ll need to make.” Aisha grabbed the lip of her desk to keep her chair’s wheels on the carpet. Just when she thought she could open the damn blinds in the morning again.

“No worries,” Nella said cheerfully. “See you when you get here.”

The line went dead, and Aisha slowly replaced the receiver in its cradle. Harri was going to go ballistic when she heard this news. Aisha took a long drink of her luke-warm peppermint mocha. It had cooled quite a bit more than she realized when she had been in Harri’s office.

The intercom buzzed. Aisha set her mug on Tim’s warmer, and pressed the button. “Yeah, Patty?”

“Blue Racer is on line two,” Patty said. “And just to warn you, he’s pissed as hell. He wouldn’t tell me what it was about, but I can guess.”

Well, Mother Defiant didn’t waste any time bitching to her boyfriend.

“Thanks, Patty. I’ll handle it.”

Aisha concentrated before she stood and closed her blinds. This wasn’t going to be a fun conversation, and she didn’t need any passersby witnesses her powers if she lost her temper. She carefully sat on her chair again, lifted the receiver, and pressed the blinking Line 2 button.

“Good morning, Blue Racer.”

“Franklin, why the hell aren’t you taking Mother Defiant on as a client?” the superhero shouted. “I personally vouched for you—”

“Stop right there,” Aisha snapped. “First, she has been neither declined nor accepted as a client. Harri literally finished the intake interview an hour ago. Second, I told you from the start none of us can discuss any representation of her with you. If we do decline her, we will tell the reasons so to her face. Not to you. Third, we been a little busy this morning with things that have nothing to do with her or you.”

“Sorry, I guess—” Air whistled through the phone’s ear piece. “I thought it would be a slam dunk with me as a character witness.”

“Racer, you should have told us you were seeing her,” Aisha said gently.

“Oh, she told you about that?”

“Yes,” Aisha continued. “It raises ethically concerns for us as a firm. There’s also the fact she automatically assumed Susan Kennedy would want her back as a client. Plus, she walked into our building with all kinds of malware on

her phone, including a bug from Corvus.”

“I-I thought everyone from Corvus was in prison,” Blue Race said.

“Not all of them,” Aisha said crisply. “What exactly did Mother Defiant say to you?”

“Just that she thought she really boffed the interview and Ms. Winters didn’t seem to like her.”

“You know how Harri is, Racer.” Aisha pinched her leg to keep from laughing at the absurdity of the situation. “She isn’t going to play the bullshit game, and if Mother Defiant came in here with a diva attitude, you know Harri would shut her down. She doesn’t even put up with crap from Ultramegaperson. Mother Defiant isn’t going to get a pass. Hell, I’m going to have to tell Harri about this conversation, and that’ll be a checkmark against Mother Defiant.”

Blue Racer sighed. “Okay, I get it. I’m sorry I blew up at you, Aisha.”

“Apology accepted.” Aisha relaxed a little in her chair. “Was there anything else you needed?”

“No,” he said meekly. “I’ll talk to you later.”

Aisha hung up, rested her forearms on her desk, and laid her head on top of them. Normal business things didn’t get to her, but today had been a huge exception. What she really wanted to do was start searching for Miss Purrception. Tim was creating a search algorithm to compare and contrast the four escapees, and hopefully analyze what their next step might be.

Instead, Aisha had more meetings to deal with as Miss Purrception’s attorney. And the first thing, she needed to do was inform her husband about the escape before he saw it on the news.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Hero In Camera - Chapter 3

Oops! I forgot to post the new chapter on Wednesday. Why? In a moment of fortuitousness and/or insanity (the jury's still out), we decided to buy a house.

DH and I had given up on looking. In our area of the country, reasonably priced housing goes in a flash. Plus, we have some specific requirements because we both work from home, and we have long before the COVID pandemic. We need separate offices, preferably on opposite sides of the house. As I've explained to several people, DH's customers don't need to hear me dictate a sex scene anymore than I want my recorder picking his voice explaining how to do a journal entry in the general ledger for the umpteenth time.

Well, we practically had a nearly perfect house fall in our laps, So, it's been fun trying to finish Hero In Camera while filling out all the paperwork and arrange things. I told the bank if they insist on taking the first-born, they needed to go to Texas themselves to retrieve him.

Anyway, enjoy this snippet! Hero In Camera will be out on October 15th!

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Aisha’s declaration worried Harri more than a little bit. Even Miguel and Arthur glanced at her partner with concern on their faces. Harri cleared her throat. “Why don’t the rest of you get back to work? Aisha, Susan, and I need to discuss some partnership issues anyway.”

Susan groaned. “Can I please get another cup of tea before discuss your client intake meeting?”

“I need a mocha, too,” Aisha added.

“Well, if you’re all leaving Aisha’s office to get drinks, we will have this meeting in my office,” Harri said. “Where my coffee is still sitting on my handy-dandy coffee warmer.”

They had a decent amount of revenue coming in on Tim’s little device. The pre-orders for Christmas were already good when they’d advertised the coffee warmer in several business magazines as the latest must-have for busy executives. After a top-rated women’s talk show claimed it was great for busy moms, too, the pre-orders shot through the roof.

Everyone walked out of Aisha’s office. Tim glanced at Harri, but she ignored him, charged back to her own work space, and plopped in her chair. She took a sip of her own, still warm, coffee. She simply couldn’t deal with him and his former fuck buddy.

So many emotions mingled in Harri she couldn’t decide which one to focus on. Yeah, she was jealous of the supervillian because Miss Purrception was older than her and hot as fuck. On the other hand, Miss Purrception had been screwed over by her baby daddy Captain Mojave and her daughters had been taken by Trubble, which was the reason she turned to villainy to begin with. But the thing that pissed Harri off most was all the work she put in negotiating Miss Purrception’s reduced sentence and fighting the extradition attempts by other nations.

The cinnamon taste of her drink helped sooth her scattered feelings. Patty was right. A spoonful of syrup in black coffee made the morning a little brighter.

Susan strolled in with her steaming giant mug of tea. “Should we separate the Owls? They’re in the break room discussing plans on how to capture Miss Purrception.”

Harri rolled her eyes. “Trubble’s the one that concerns me. What the hell was Miss Purrception thinking? He won’t hesitate to kill her now that she’s got him and Black Death out of Mauvaises.”

“But why?” A crease appeared between Susan’s eyebrows as she sat on one of the visitor chairs.

“Why what?” Harri asked.

“Why escape now?” Susan set her mug on Harri’s desk. “Trubble and Black Death have been in prison for nearly a year. Trubble and Miss Purrception hate each other. What would make the two of them join forces? And why do escape now?”

Harri leaned back in her chair. Those were very good questions. Why the hell would Monica Reinhold even consider working with Trubble after he did everything to her? Harri met Susan’s gaze. Time for a confession.

“One of my worries when Miss Purrception surrendered was she planned to kill Trubble in prison.”

“And if she killed him inside the prison, she’d be lucky to get a life sentence with her extensive record,” Aisha growled while she closed the office door and stalked across Harri’s office with her cup of pixie barf. Even worse, Aisha was back to wearing her designer stilettos.

“Therefore, get Trubble out of the prison,” Susan continued. “Kill him somewhere else and dispose of the body.”

“And how’s she going to do that?” Harri asked. “Black Death is tagging along as Trubble’s bodyguard.”

“That’s what Hard Knock is for.” Aisha sat down in the other visitor chair. “He distracts Black Death. Miss Purrception takes care of Trubble.”

“That’s…” Harri stared out her window. Vehicle and pedestrian traffic had picked up along 6th Street over the past year. Rey had become a community leader in the Canyon Block neighborhood in ways Tim couldn’t in his grief.

Maybe she’d bought into the kid’s natural optimism. Part of her wanted to believe Miss Purrception was trying to change. Without her, Aisha wouldn’t have been able to save Rey last year. Professor Paranoia would have used Rey to kill Aisha and her unborn child.

Most of all, Harri wanted to believe for Rue Liberty’s sake. The retired superhero deserved to se her daughter become something other than a notorious supervillain. And Sourpuss and Nix needed their mother.

Harri turned back to her partners. “That’s a possibility. But what if something else is going on? Something bad enough Trubble and Monica would consider joining forces?”

“It’s a possibility—” Susan started to admit.

“Who cares!” Aisha’s voice rose, which wasn’t like her. “We should be thinking about the firm. We represented a supervillain who has escaped. Do you have a clue of what kind of PR nightmare it’s going to cause?”

“If we don’t figure out what’s going on and why, the lives of everyone in this building are danger,” Susan spat back.

“Do you want to quit?” Aisha’s eyes narrowed. “You knew what you were getting yourself into when we offered you a partnership.”

“Technically, you are my client, too,” Susan snapped. “I don’t want you going off half-cocked on a crusade to capture Miss Purrception when the real dangers are Trubble and Black Death. Or have you forgotten what happened at your wedding reception?”

Harri jumped to her feet and banged her fist on her desk. “Stop it! Both of you! It scares me when I’m the one being sane and reasonable and both of you are losing it.” She took a deep breath and released it while her parents were looking at her with their mouths hanging open.

“I’m sorry,” Susan said quietly. “You’re right.”

Aisha didn’t look half as embarrassed as Susan. Instead, she quietly said, “Fine. What do you suggest? We’ll be getting calls from reporters once this gets out.”

Harri relaxed and sat back down. “Tell Nella and whoever else calls we are cooperating fully with authorities, and how disappointed we are Miss Purrception choose this course of action. Susan, can you start making discreet calls to our other clients? See if they can shake any info from their street sources.”

Susan nodded.

“In the meantime, I’ll call Carol Inunza and see if she caught any hint of what Miss Purrception planned,” Harri said.

Susan cleared her throat. “Before we start dealing with the Miss Purrception mess, what did you say to Mother Defiant?”

“Only that I had to discuss taking her own with the entire partnership.” Harri made a face. “She was rather adamant about talking to you directly. She claimed she wanted to apologize.”

Susan folded her arms and looked at the floor for a moment before she raised her head with an evil grin. “Thanks for making the bitch sweat.”

“It was my pleasure.” Harri grinned back before she turned to Aisha. “If we take her on, she’s going to be a handful. Susan vastly undersold her bitchiness. And she’s currently dating Blue Racer.”

“Ouch.” Aisha winced. “If they break up, or worse, get hitched, that’s going to cause some major ethical issues. We already have enough of those on our collective plates.”

“No shit,” Susan muttered. “And I have no doubt she will use them against us.”

“What did she say about a change in branding?” Aisha asked.

“She was a little resistant to it,” Harri admitted. “She wanted to know if the suggestion was due to her faith.”

“I tried to talk her into rebranding two years ago,” Susan murmured. “I agree with Aisha though. Mother Defiant doesn’t get that people view her the same as pop singers who cavort nearly naked with religious imagery in their performances.”

“So, she really is that tone-deaf and not deliberately courting controversy?” Aisha asked.

“Yes,” Harri and Susan said at the same time.

Aisha looked over at Susan. “What if we give her that chance to apologize to you, but at the same time, we’re honest with her?”

“You mean get her to change her mind about us so it seems like she’s rejecting us?” Susan asked.

“If we coddle her now, she’s just going to keep pushing us,” Aisha said. “Tell up front, brutally if we have to, we’re not going to put up with any of her shit.”

“Are you suggesting a trial period?” Harri said.

“I wasn’t, but that’s not a bad idea.” Aisha looked at her thoughtfully.

“So a full partnership meeting with her?” Susan asked.

“It’s an excuse to write off a dinner at Nolan’s.” Harri grinned.

“All right,” Susan said. “But not until Wednesday. Make her sweat a couple of days.”

“I was actually thinking of calling her on Thursday,” Harri confessed.

The intercom buzzed and Harri pressed the appropriate button. “Yes?” Patty sighed. “Nella Lopez is on line one.”

“And that’s my cue.” Aisha stood. “I’ll call Blue Racer, too. See if I can’t get more of a feel for what we need to do to make any relationship with Mother Defiant work.”

“Aisha?” Harri called.

She turned around to face Harri. “Yeah?”

“Don’t take off without letting me know.”

“If I get a lead, no promises.” Aisha whirled and stomped out of Harri’s office, which meant she was concentrating to keep from floating through the reception area. Flying had become her default setting since she got her superpowers.

Susan waited a few seconds before she said softly, “That’s a disaster waiting to happen.”

“If we end the day with only one actual disaster and one potential disaster, we’re batting better than usual,” Harri answered.

Susan stood and pointed at her fancy computer watch. “Girl, it’s not even ten a.m. yet. Given this firm’s past performance, we’ll be hitting a thousand for disasters by happy hour.”

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Hero In Camera - Chapter 2

Aisha scribbled notes on her legal pad concerning the contract proposal for Black Falcon’s endorsement of a security system when there was a knock on her office door.

“Come in!”

The door opened, and Patty poked her head around the corner. “FBI red alert.”

“Why the hell is Eddie calling her?” Aisha frowned. She handled matters between their clients and the Canyon Pointe FBI office because Sarah had some weird obsession Harri was trying to get Eddie back. Hah! Like that was going to happen when Harri had an ex-superhero warming her bed.

Arthur Drallhickey’s head appeared beside Patty’s. “Because there was a mass breakout at Mauvaises Prison before dawn this morning, including Miss Purrception.”

“What?” Aisha tried to wrap her head around their IT manager’s words. She couldn’t breathe. She and her husband Rey had gone to bat for the supervillain when she claimed she wanted to reform. Hell, they owed her after she helped them take down Professor Paranoia in Japan last year.

And pissed didn’t even describe what Harri would be once she heard—

A screech of rage came from the direction of Harri’s office. Patty and Arthur jumped into Aisha’s office and closed the door.

“Has this reached any of the news outlets yet?” Aisha said.

Both Patty and Arthur shook their head.

“How did you—”

Aisha’s office door opened again. Susan Kennedy, their third partner, and Miguel Esperanza, their maintenance man, slipped inside. Susan closed the door and locked it behind them.

“Please tell us Mother Defiant pissed her off,” Susan begged. “Or Tim did something stupid.”

Aisha shook her head. Besides, if Harri had a fight with her current boyfriend, they’d be on the fifth floor having loud, noisy makeup sex. Aisha had managed to snag a few boxes of the earplugs their client Nix endorsed for herself and Rey. She prayed little Mitch’s powers didn’t develop before she had to explain what Aunt Harri and Uncle Tim were doing.

Miguel stared at the ceiling. “Madre de Dios.”

Aisha sucked in a deep breath, eyed Patty and Arthur, and tried again. “How’d you two find out about the prison break?”

“When Eddie called and asked for Harri instead of you, I knew something was wrong,” Patty said.

“Patty told me, so I took a quick peek in the FBI computers—” Arthur started.

Susan jammed her index fingers in her ears and started yelling, “La-la-la-la-la-la-la!”

“Cut it out!” Aisha snapped. “Your fingers aren’t any cleaner than anyone else’s at this firm. Or do I need to bring up your little gift to Harper?” Both Susan and Aisha had contributed money for a fresh start to Doctor Liquidation’s former minion. The girl had a rough life before the supervillain rescued from the streets.

Susan withdrew her fingers from her ears. “Harper may have been a minion, but she was never formally charged with any crime.”

“But she did confess to the burglary at the San Francisco Federal Reserve.” Aisha waved her hand. “How is that any different than what Arthur does?”

Susan held up her hands in surrender. “All right. Fine. You’re right.” She turned to Arthur. “I apologize.”

“Thank you.” Arthur inclined his head to her before he turned back to Aisha. “This gets worse. Black Death and Hard Knock escaped with them.”

Aisha sat back in her chair. Her pencil shattered in her grip. This was why she had to give up ballpoint pens for every day work. Superstrength and anger resulted in two of her suits getting ruined by ink going everywhere.

“Any leads?” she asked coolly.

Arthur shook his head. “That’s why Eddie is calling Harri.” He and Patty exchanged nervous glances. Cade Wilson hadn’t been straight with Patty about his super status as Black Death. When he broke up with her, she hadn’t told him she was pregnant. By the time Cade learned about his daughter Grace, Patty and Arthur were living together. Cade hadn’t taken the news his ex was dating a former supervillain well, which was ironic considering he was Corvus’s top wetworks agent.

“Patty! Aisha! Where the hell is everybody?”

From their winces, everyone in her office could hear Harri without the need of superhearing.

Aisha sighed. “Let’s get this over with.”

Susan was closest to the closed office door. She opened it and yelled, “In here, Harri!”

The stomping got closer until Harri appeared in the doorway. Her gaze traveled from person to person, leaving Arthur quaking in his shoes, until it rested on Aisha.

“What the hell is going on in here?” she snapped.

“Our staff is hiding from you because they know how you get when you’ve been speaking with your ex-husband,” Aisha bit back.

Harri closed her eyes and inhaled deeply before she released the air. “I’m not angry at Eddie. Miss Purrception escaped from Mauvaises Prison.” A few heartbeats passed before she said, “Isn’t somebody going to tell me I-told-you-so?”

“I told you so.” Tim appeared in the doorway behind Harri. “What part of ‘Please don’t represent my former—’” His face turned red as he struggled to find a semi-polite term for the supervillain with whom he used to have sex.

“Feline fling?” Aisha offered.

“Boink buddy?” Patty suggested.

“Supervillain with benefits?” Susan chimed in.

“Party puta,” Miguel declared with a disgusted tone. “The furry skeleton in the closet.” Harri crossed her arms and glared at Tim.

He looked at Arthur. “Don’t you have an insult to fling?”

Arthur lifted his chin, which was nearly as pointy as his nose. “I may be a former supervillain myself, but I am not stupid enough to get in the middle of an argument between you and Harri.”

“Arthur’s right.” Aisha leaned her elbows on her desk. “This bickering isn’t helping the situation. Did Eddie give you anymore information than she escaped with Trubble, Black Death, and Hard Knock?”

Harri shot her a nasty look. “Were you eavesdropping on my phone call?”

“I didn’t have to,” Aisha said calmly. “Arthur and Tim have search programs running for any information regarding known Corvus operatives is an effort to trace the remaining members. Arthur was already exiting his office to let us know about the escape when Patty transferred Eddie’s call to you. It didn’t take a genius to put two and two together.”

“Oh.” All the ire faded from Harri’s expression to be replaced by guilt. “God, I was so stupid to believe she really wanted to rebuild her relationship with her mother and daughters.”

“You’re not the only one she fooled,” Aisha growled. “I thought she’d changed when she helped Ray, Steve, and me in Japan. I never would have agreed to represent her otherwise.”

“I think you two might be jumping to conclusions.” Susan stared thoughtfully at one of the prints on Aisha’s walls.

“What makes you say that?” Harri demanded.

“Two reasons.” Susan turned to face them. “First, turning herself in was the only way to get close to Trubble. She still blames him for losing custody of her daughters, but she’s not stupid enough to kill him on the prison grounds if what she’s really after is revenge.

“Second, what if Black Death threatened her or Hard Knock? From her dossier in the National Superhero Bureau database, she and Knock are pretty tight. Every time she’s escaped, she’s taken him with her. They part ways after the escape. She’s only ever double-crossed people who’ve either screwed her over or planned to. Whatever their real relationship, she does care about what happens to Knock.”

“So, it’s a question of which game she’s really playing.” Miguel scratched his beard.

“Miss Purrfection still broke her word to us,” Aisha growled. “And I want her head on a platter.”

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

New Releaase - Murder Most Fowl!

Murder Most Fowl is officially out in the wilds!

I had a lot of fun writing this story, and I really hope you enjoy it. Plus, it's only 99-cents!

So what's it about? A murder inquiry takes an odd twist over the possession of a prize rooster. Yep, a rooster

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Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Hero In Camera - Chapter 1

I'm finally getting caught up with writing and editing, so it's time to start posting sample chapters again. Just remember these are not edited yet.

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Harri Winters smiled across her office desk at Mother Defiant, who sat on one of Harri’s visitor chairs. The superhero’s white coif, veil and wimple were at odds with her skintight black unitard and shiny black boots. Everything happened exactly as Winters and Franklin’s newest partner Susan Kennedy had predicted a little over a year ago.

“I don’t understand why I can’t simply talk to Susan,” Mother Defiant said haughtily.

“Because I’m the senior partner.” Harri kept the smile plastered on her face though she really wanted to leap over her desk and smack the attitude from the superhero’s pretty face. “I do the intake interviews, but the entire partnership has a vote on whether to accept a new client.”

“But I’m not a new client!” Mother Defiant protested.

“You are to this firm.” Harri shrugged. “And frankly, we’ll be taking a very serious look at you. Especially after you dumped Susan for Dewey and Cheatham.”

Mother Defiant’s cheeks flushed bright pink. At least, she had the grace to be embarrassed. When she could finally meet Harri’s eyes again, she said, “I should have known they were only using me. The reason I want to speak with Susan is I owe her a very big apology.”

At the knock on Harri’s office door, she yelled, “Come in.”

Tim Canyon sauntered in with Mother Defiant’s cell phone in his hand. “I’ve cleaned off the spyware and added extra protection. No one will be tracking you anymore.”

“Tracking me?” Mother Defiant looked appalled.

“Was it the source of Susan’s infection last year?” Harri asked.

“Definitely.” Tim held out the phone to Mother Defiant. “You’re clean now, but you might want to inform any superheroes you’ve come in contact with over the last year. I’ll clean up their devices free of charge.”

“What?” Mother Defiant looked wildly at Harri and Tim, totally flabbergasted. “Who?”

“Corvus used you to get a bug into our office last year,” Harri said.

“I wasn’t a part of that crap!” Mother Defiant protested. “Not to mention they’re all in jail now.” Her eyes widened as she put two and two together. “Dewey and Cheatham were part of Corvus?”

“We don’t know anything for sure at this point,” Harri said as evenly as she could. While the Winters & Franklin staff suspected a link between the rival law firm and the out-of-control black ops group, the last thing Harri needed was a slander lawsuit against her fledgling business.

“If you need anything else, buzz me.” Tim winked at Harri before he sauntered out of her office, closing the door behind him.

“I still can’t believe your head of security is Tim Canyon.”

Harri smirked at the superhero’s comment. “He was acquitted during his murder trial, and the Ghost Owl exposing Corvus proved Seismic Shift killed Tim’s wife and son.”

Mother Defiant sagged in her chair. “Is that why I can’t talk to Susan directly? She thinks I set her up? That I was part of the Corvus conspiracy?”

Damn. Harri hated even thinking about those assholes. But she would be naïve to believe the FBI sweep captured all of Corvus’s allies. While she wanted to give Mother Defiant the benefit of the doubt, Harri couldn’t risk the lives of everyone she loved.

“As I said, the entire partnership will discuss whether or not to take you on as a client,” Harri said firmly. “My question is why do you want a firm outside of Hermanville.”

Mother Defiant took a deep breath. “I’ve been dating Blue Racer. Once Dewy and Cheatham charged me for every little thing, I barely have enough from my licensing contracts to live on, and I’m tired of ramen noodles every night for supper. Blue said he was super happy with what your firm did for him, and when I found out my old attorney worked here, I decided to change representation.”

Harri nodded. “All right. I’ll start calling your references this afternoon. Assuming everyone gets back to me right away, you should hear from me in two days.”

“Thank you for considering me as a client.” Mother Defiant’s smile was weak. She obviously figured this was a lost cause, but Harri still planned to follow through. Even if she did want to inflict a little payback for how Mother Defiant treated her firm’s newest partner.

They both rose from their chairs, and Harri escorted Mother Defiant to the front doors.

After the final good-bye with the superhero and she left, Harri walked back into the reception area, the original foyer of the Lechuza Building. She was still impressed how good their building manager Miguel Esperanza made the original Art Deco design look when his team renovated the place.

As she passed the reception desk, their assistant Patty Ames winced and put a call on hold. “Harri, your ex-husband in on line 1.”

Now, why the hell was Eddie calling her? The new Mrs. Lewis had thrown a major hissy fit about him talking to Harri. It didn’t matter that things were long over between them, or how much Eddie adored Sarah and their two kids. She was one insecure woman. Therefore, if Eddie was calling, it was business-related.

“Thanks, Patty.”

Harri strode into her office and sat down to compose herself before she picked up the receiver on her phone set and jabbed the button next to the blinking light. “Hey, Eddie! Does Sarah know you’re off the leash?”

So much for any composure.

“Not funny, Harri,” he snapped. “This is business.” Of course.

“And what can I do for Canyon Pointe’s FBI office today?” she teased as she leaned back in her chair.

“Have you spoken to Miss Purrception lately?” Eddie said.

“Not since last month,” Harri answered. “We’re still fighting the extraditions to France and Brazil. Why?”

“Are you sure?” Eddie sounded more tense than usually.

“Eddie, out of all our marital problems, I’ve never out-and-out lied to you,” Harri said. “Either spit out why you called, or hang up.”

“Miss Purrception escaped from Mauvaises Prison last night.”

“What!” Harri bolted upright.

“It gets better,” Eddie added. “Byron Trubble escaped with her.”

Harri’s heart lodged in her throat. Retired general Byron S. Trubble. Former head of the secret black ops organization known as Corvus.

And the one person who wanted Harri dead more than any other supervillain in the world.

Monday, August 31, 2020