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Wednesday, October 26, 2022
To celebrate the little, but very important, victories, here's the next unedited sample chapter of Death in Double Mocha.
“Mom?” Dani couldn’t catch her breath. She couldn’t deal with both her husband and her mother coming back from the dead on the same night. At least, Penny’s mother-in-law Laura had the grace to climb out of her grave and arrive at the Hudsons’ home during daylight hours.
“Hijo de puta!” Yep, that was definitely Mom screaming the background.
“Dad! Tell Mom I want to talk to her!”
Mark dropped the saucepan he’d retrieved from the dishwasher and stared at her.
“Dani, you need to come get me.” Mom sobbed through the receiver. “Please, I beg of you. I cannot believe your father brought a whore into our wedding bed.”
“Mami, listen to me,” Dani said. “I need you to walk away from Dad. Go to the living room and sit down.”
“Dani, please come get me.” More sobbing. “He tried to kill me.”
“Was he the one throwing things at you?”
“He left me in a grave!” Mom wailed.
Could this night possible get any worse?
“Mom, I can’t leave Mark alone at home.” Dani sucked in a deep breath. “I’m going to call my friends Penny and Francine. Do you remember them?”
“Y-yes,” Mom said between hiccupping sobs.
“Hold onto the phone. I will call you right back. I promise.”
Dani clicked off the call and took another deep breath.
Mark picked up the saucepan. “Is that really Abuelita?”
“I’m afraid so.” Dani released the air from her aching chest. “However, I can only deal with one dead family member at a time, kiddo.”
She punched the speed dial icon for Francine’s number. After four rings, the signal rolled over to voicemail. Nope, she couldn’t let this one go. Mark had done the right thing by sending Penny over to Dad’s, but both Penny and Wila were already overloaded with their own dead family members at their houses. She tapped Francine’s phone number again.
This time, Francine picked up on the second ring. “I was asleep. The Devil himself better be on your doorstep.”
“It’s almost as bad,” Dani said. “Heath showed up at my house tonight.”
Francine muttered an obscenity. That girl had developed a potty mouth over the last two months, but becoming the Four Horsemen was bound to drive the sanest person crazy.
“That’s not the big problem,” Dani added. “Mom showed up at Dad’s tonight, and she’s trying to kill him.”
“As bad as Penny’s in-laws and the girlfriend?”
“Worse. Mom knocked out Pierre. Mark texted Penny, but—”
“Gotcha,” Francine said through a yawn. “You need a place to stash Olivia since Heath’s already at your house. Let me get dressed and grab a spare demon hunter from Saint Michael’s if Pierre’s down for the count.”
“Thank you, Francine.”
She laughed. “You owe me a couple of boxes of Long John’s for this, girl.”
Dani ended the call and collapsed on the closest kitchen chair. She couldn’t deal with any more insanity.
“Is everything okay?”
Dani looked up. Heath stood in the doorway to the living room. His short blond hair was damp from the shower and curled around his ears. He wore his old sweatpants and his favorite UC-Oakfield jersey.
Dani’s heart threatened to quit beating. She wanted to seize this moment and not let go. Heath standing there was like the last six years had never happened.
“I dropped the pot, Dad.” Mark carefully scooped Dani’s homemade cocoa mix with the measuring cup and dumped it into the saucepan. “Mom, maybe you should call Uncle Marty. Francine can turn a little scary if Abuelita loses it with Papa again.”
Heath frowned. “What’s going on with your parents?”
“Mom went to their house tonight.” Dani blinked rapidly to keep the tears from falling. “Just like you came here.”
“Olivia…died, too?” Disbelief darkened his blue eyes.
Dani swallowed hard and nodded. “Last January. She had a heart attack.”
“Do we need to go over to their place?” Heath asked.
“Penny and Francine can handle Mom, but Mark’s right about Marty helping them.” Dani picked up her phone and tapped the icon for her brother’s home number.
“Hey, little sis! What’s up?” came Marty’s cheerful voice over the receiver.
“Can you go over to Dad’s?”
“Now? It’s almost eleven.”
“Mom showed up at the house tonight.”
There was a long pause before Marty said, “She came back?”
“Yeah. Unfortunately, Carmen is there, and Mom went ballistic. She knocked out Pierre with a frying pan.”
A suspicious snort came through the receiver that sounded more like her brother stifling a chuckle. “No offense, but wouldn’t this be a Soccer Mom matter?”
“Penny and Francine are on their way, but Mom could use a friendly face.”
“Dani, what’s going on? This isn’t like you to avoid—”
“Heath’s here,” she blurted.
“Yeah.” She looked at her husband. She wanted to laugh and cry at the same time, but she couldn’t. Not in front of Mark. Her son need her to keep her own shit together.
“Is Wila on her way to your house?”
“No. I’ve got this. Don’t worry about me.”
“I’ll always worry about my baby sister.”
“I need you to worry about our parents, Marty. Call me when things are settled over there.”
“No, I’ll call you in the morning. And you’re taking tomorrow off.”
“No arguments,” Marty bit out. “I’m the boss.” His voice gentled. “Let me do this for you, Dani. You’ve got enough on your shoulders.”
She sniffed. “All right. Thanks.” After she ended the call, she reached for another tissue.
“I’ll do the cinnamon toast.” Heath sauntered across the kitchen to the counter where Mark had already laid out plates, and he picked up a knife.
For a spit second, Dani had the urge to grab Mark, carry him out to the garage, and toss him into Verde. She sucked in a deep breath. It’s just a table knife.
Maybe she should ask Wila about accompanying her to the Buddhist meditation classes she took.
Heath eyed her as he spread butter over a slice of bread. “So, who are Carmen and Pierre?”
“Pierre’s a demon hunter,” Mark said enthusiastically. “He’s awesome!”
“Demon hunter?” Heath’s right eyebrow rose as he looked at Mark, then Dani, and back to Mark.
“He’s a risen dead like you.” Mark set the burner on low and stirred the milk and cocoa mix. “He was part of the Vatican taskforce in the eighteen-hundreds. He died during the Franco-Prussian War. Now, he’s Papa’s bodyguard.”
“All of the immediate family members of the Soccer Moms have one.” Mark shrugged. “Father Rodriguez is mine. He picks me up after school and stays here until Mom gets home from work. Besides, having a bodyguard is way cooler than having a babysitter.”
“I take it the father isn’t as cool as Pierre?” Heath asked.
“He’s…depressed is the best thing to call it.” Mark stared at the contents of the saucepan. “Father Rodriguez would never admit it to me, but Father McAvoy said he was tortured and executed during the Spanish Inquisition.”
Dani frowned. This was the first time she’d heard Mark say anything remotely derogatory about Father Rodriguez. And why hadn’t Father McAvoy mentioned Father Rodriguez’s past to her before assigning him to Mark? She need to look into the matter tomorrow since she had the day off.
Heath glanced at Dani before he said, “If you’re uncomfortable with Father Rodriguez, I’m sure your mom would make arrangements for a different bodyguard.”
“Father Rodriguez isn’t bad.” Mark waved the spoon for emphasis, and Dani winced at the chocolate milk splattering all over her clean backsplash and countertop. “If I had a choice, I’d want Justine’s grandparents, but she needs them way worse than I need a different bodyguard.”
“Who’s Justine?” Heath asked.
“She plays on the Tiger Sharks with me.” Mark continued stirring the hot chocolate. “Her mom is Pestilence. Her dad’s parents were demon hunters before they had kids.”
“Wow.” Heath automatically reached in the same place in the cupboard she’d kept the sugar and cinnamon shaker since they moved into this place. There were a few times in those early years cinnamon toast was all they could afford for breakfast besides eggs.
“They sound like pretty cool grandparents,” Heath continued.
“Oh, they definitely are.” Mark nodded emphatically. “They’ve been teaching us all kinds of stuff about how to hurt and kill demons.”
“Let me guess,” Heath said. “Your water soaker is filled with holy water?”
“Yep.” Mark laid the spoon on the spoon rest, turned off the burner, and set aside the pan of hot chocolate. “And I’m learning the exorcism prayer. Grandpa Ed says I’ve got the best Latin pronunciation.”
Dani clenched her teeth to keep from saying anything. She didn’t like the fact Mark and the other kids had to learn this stuff. Edward Hudson was adamant the kids not take on a demon themselves. In fact, he told them bluntly to run and call their moms when they found a safe haven if they spotted someone they suspected was possessed.
The guys chatted while Mark carefully poured the hot chocolate into three mugs and added mini marshmallows and Heath stuck the bread slices in the toaster oven.
At a knock on the front door, Heath frowned. It was terribly late for anyone to drop by unannounced, but their house was warded against demons. Dani manifested her scythe and charged into the living room.
After a quick check through the peephole, she put away her scythe and jerked open the door. “What are you doing here?” White teeth flashed against Wila’s dark skin. “I got tagged for babysitting duties. And if Mark and the guy behind you sprays me with holy water, I will shish kebab the both with my flaming sword.”
Monday, October 17, 2022
My cover artist came up with three versions of the cover for Queer Eye for the Super Guy. So I need a little help in picking one.
Tell me what you think in the comments below, or you can send me a private message through the CONTACT ME! tab above.
Thanks for your help!
Wednesday, October 5, 2022
Amazon allows indie authors to only postpone a pre-order once a year. I'd already had to postpone one of my spring books when my father-in-law fell and broke his hip. I never dreamed both he and my mother would pass within a few months of each other. Between being sick and traveling back to my hometown for the funeral, I lost over two weeks of productive time, and I knew I wasn't finishing Death in Double Mocha in time for its pre-order's release date.
I spoke with an Amazon rep yesterday and explained my situation. She allowed an exception considering my situation, but I had to cancel the Death in Double Mocha pre-order and re-enter it in order to keep the other pre-orders alive. (Yes, it's weird, but the rep could have easily told me to go screw myself, so I'm counting my lucky stars she didn't.)
However, I'm not going to re-enter the pre-order until I finish the first draft of the book. I admit I've opened the file a few times since I got the text from my brother. Sometimes, the words come in little fits and spurts. Sometimes, I stare at the screen, and the black marks make no sense.
When this happens, I usually jump to another project to loosen the stranglehold my critical brain has on Subconscious. That's what I'll do today.
Because the last scene I wrote before I got that text was the one where Dani's mom comes back from the dead.
Yeah, I may have some issues. LOL