Sunday, October 14, 2018

Gothic thriller!

Just in time for the spooky season, here is a new Deirdre O'Dare story that sticks pretty close to the classic Gothic themes of a mysterious dark hero and a remote castle or estate with dark secrets to hide. However instead of the normal spunky but innocent heroine, we have a similarly spunky and driven young man who takes a post as tutor for a recently deceased nobleman's orphaned children. Arriving there on what is truly a dark and stormy night, Martin soon finds himself immersed in a complex tangle of events and falling in love with the children's enigmatic guardian.

Get Dark and Stormy hot off the presses to get warmed up for seasonal reads. Here is a link for now, right on JMS Books front page. http://www.jms-books.com/  It is on sale right now for 20% off since it is a new release. After that it will be $3.99 (novella length) and you can locate it on my page:
http://www.jms-books.com/deirdre-odare-m-191.html?zenid=kjLYFWnbTbz7xDr14bKF2

Here is the evocative cover so you can spot it quickly!


Sunday, September 2, 2018

Coming Soon! New M/M romance from Deirdre

I can't believe it is September already.  That means 2/3 of 2018 is in the rear view mirror. I had to run off to Arizona on some personal business related to the Walton side of the family and have been trying to gather escaping worms from the hugnormous can I seemed to have opened.  But that is not relevant here.

What is  turns out to be the next new tale coming from JMS. Rez Dogs and Scooter Trash has not been billed as a canine cupid tale but with dogs in the title, you can bet they are a future in the story. I also pay a visit to a region that holds a special place in my heart and touch on the conflicts when men from two totally different cultures and backgrounds clash and connect. This one will release on September 8 and you can grab it at JMS http://www.jms-books.com/  It will be on the front page very soon for pre-order; the holiday may slow that down just a bit since. the September 1 releases still show there.

Mike grew up in the south, in poverty, and under the hard thumb of his abusive Biker Gang father. He fled, tried the military and decided that was not the life for him. However, some experiences led him to the often thankless task of animal rescue which in turn took him to a reservation in the high desert of Arizona. Needless to say, he has a near phobia about "bikers." When one rolls up almost to the door of his brand new animal rescue site...

Adam,  Navajo and Kiowa, is a born rebel. He shows the world a bad-boy image with his lacquer black Harley decorated with native art and his habit of riding it hard and fast when he is upset. Feeling deep remorse over his younger brother's death while he was in the military, he's working hard to develop and improve a youth center to steer more of the local kids away from drugs, gangs and tragedy. When an outside group buys a vacant store he'd hoped to use for some more facilities, he has to go check it out. A  small animal rescue? On his reservation?  Are they crazy?

So let's see them meet:

Michael set another bundle of wire panels on the floor and dug a bandana out of the back pocket of his jeans to wipe his face. The wind had wolfish teeth, but he was still sweating as he humped load after load of cage parts and other gear into the building. This was going to take a lot of work, a hell of a lot of work.
Oh, the basic structure was sound, but it had been designed to be a retail store, not a shelter for dogs and any other critters he might be able to collect and save. There was a restroom--which would have to suffice for his needs for the time being. Some moveable partitions served to wall off a living area and a facsimile of an office. The technician was supposed to be here later today to install his Internet and telephone. He set up a battered iron cot and stacked the few boxes of his personal stuff in that same corner. A microwave, an ice chest, and a card table would serve as his kitchen and dining room. Maybe in time he could afford to rent a place, but living here would have some advantages as he worked to get the facility up and running.
As he stumbled back out the door again, he began to wonder how he'd crammed so much stuff into his old van. Maybe the stuff had reproduced as he drove west from the IFPCA offices in Illinois. Tomorrow, a bigger truck with yet more stuff was due in, so he had to get the van unloaded today and at least start organizing things.
Something made him look across the unpaved parking lot to the south side of the building. Later on he planned to fence part of the area and maybe develop some space for larger animals like horses, sheep and goats or cattle, but that would have to wait a while. But now, although he had not heard the machine approach, his gaze fell on a powerful black-lacquered Harley rolling slowly toward him decorated with tribal motifs in scarlet and gold.
The bike was impressive, but its rider even more so. The man had to be well over six feet for he straddled the bike and did not stretch at all to place both his booted feet solidly on the ground on either side. Everything about him seemed to carry a threat of power and violence, at least to Michael's perception. Memories of the father he'd feared until he'd finally left home swept over him, memories that still had him mentally cringing. He could feel the slam of a heavy fist, a metal-studded belt slashing across his ass or a backhand slap that sent him flying. Folks in his hometown had called them scooter trash, trailer trash and worse because his mother had been half black and his father a leader in the most bad-ass biker gang in the area.
The uptown kids didn't respect the wrong-side-of-the tracks folks, no matter how tough they were alleged to be, it seemed. They sure didn't fear bullying the "trashy" kids anyway. And Mike's dad would not defend him. "It'll make you tough," he'd always said. "Man up, boy."
While the stranger did not resemble the senior Dufrane in any way other than his black garb, Michael's gut clenched. Who was this guy--apparently an Indian--and what did he want?
Even behind the reflective lenses of the biker's sunglasses, Michael could feel the force of the man's stare. He stood there, one hand negligently resting on the left handlebar where a helmet hung, clearly seldom used. After a moment, he lifted that arm and crossed both arms across his powerful chest, his face impassive as if graven from the region's ruddy stone.
"So," he said, after a few silent seconds, "who the fuck is IFPCA and what are they or you figuring to do here?"
Damn it, I am not going to let anyone bully me or back me down. There are animals out here that need help, and I'm going to do the job. Michael set his burden down and took a step in the biker's direction. He paused, barely aware he'd adopted a similar stance, feet apart and braced as he folded his arms across his chest. It wasn't as impressive a chest as the other man's, but Michael was no ninety-pound weakling. He had muscle and wiry strength. He'd even been the boxing champ in his middleweight class in his army platoon. No Indian biker with an attitude was going to send him running with his tail between his legs.
"IFPCA stands for the International Foundation for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The foundation's bought this building, and I'm going to be opening a shelter for abused and neglected animals, especially dogs, and care for them until they can be adopted into good homes. I plan to help educate people about taking care of their pets, too."
The biker gave a harsh laugh. "Good luck, buddy. We don't have that warm and fuzzy tree hugger philosophy out here on the Rez. It's enough struggle for most folks to keep a roof over their heads and a little food on the table. We're overrun with dogs. Some get a little care, while most just run wild and snag what they can. Hell, it's hard enough to keep the kids fed and clothed, much less every stray canine. Booze and drugs and a lot of prejudice to be overcome, poverty and... Oh shit, why waste my breath? But we don't need any more do-gooders trying to tell us how to live."
Michael recognized a subtle hint of despair and pain behind the other man's hard words. He knew about poverty and the ravages of drugs and alcohol himself--first hand. "I know things aren't easy," he said, keeping his tone mild and even. "That's true a lot of places. Still, I've heard about conditions on the Rez. Pretty bad. I guess it isn't much, although if I can save a few dogs, maybe I can start a change. Every bit of caring and kindness helps. It's never wasted. Someone sees how you make things a little better and gets inspired to try their own effort. Maybe some of the kids could benefit from taking responsibility for caring for a pet."
The Indian shrugged. "Do what you will. By the way, I'm Adam Bolt. Just wondered who'd got hold of the old Dollar Store here and thought I'd take a look. We were thinking of trying to rent it cheap for the youth center, to give us some more space, but looks like we got beat out."
"Sorry, but this is a good purpose, too. My name's Mike Dufrane. I just got here yesterday. Lots of work to do. When you believe in something enough, though, that's no barrier. It'll take me a couple of weeks, but I'll be open for business as soon as I can. I'd appreciate it if you'd spread the word; tell folks they can drop off an unwanted or injured dog here. Even call me to come pick it up. I'll have a few cages set up today and I've got food and some basic medical stuff."
"You're swimming against the current, Mike, but good luck anyway." The other man throttled the bike up to a smooth purring roar and wheeled around, scattering a bit of gravel as he turned onto the paved road that went by out front.






Friday, August 17, 2018

Ready for Two More?

I am not sure which books came out when from January through July but I'll get something about each of them before I am done! Today I'll get back to the dogs with Burrito Belle's Gringo Guy and Doggone Love.

Doggone Love was actually the first of my Canine Cupids group before I realized they would become a theme series. It grew out of a trip to the vet to put my late husband's sweet old Lab-Setter to sleep so she could go join her master and her canine buddy, Butch. They had both crossed over on the same day, almost three years earlier. The new vet at my regular clinic was a short husky blond who did have a  slight attitude and a few weeks later he morphed into Eric Vann. Once I had the vet I needed the guy with an animal requiring urgent care and here came Damon, racing to town with his injured Dixie Belle.

Now the odd thing is, I had acquired one Aussie (Australian Shepherd) almost two years earlier to be Sadie's companion. Rico and she never bonded as she had with Butch but it helped her depression some to have a canine companion. Well, after she was gone and after this story was submitted or even released, I got another Aussie to be Rico's partner. What was her name? Belle! I later added to that calling her Belle Starr for she was a food bandit par excellence! Are there really coincidences?  ~ (my Latina shrug) Who knows!

Anyway Doggone Love was a quick hit and a best seller at Amber Quill. I am so happy to have it available again.  I am not finding the post but I could swear I did do an excerpt and back story on it here. Oh well. Here is the cover, anyway. Dixie Belle is described as a red merle Aussie but the connection between the guy and the dog is perfect in this picture! At right is a closer likeness to my vision of of  Dixie Belle.



Burrito Belle's Gringo Guy is one that basically grew out of a quirky title idea. It was Taco Belle at first but not wanting to get in trouble with that chain, I switched to Burrito. LOL I actually like burritos better anyway!  Of course border crossings and international drug dealing are major issues everywhere but especially down here in southern Arizona and New Mexico which share a whole bottom border with our southern neighbor. Somehow Juan just popped into my mind, a young man, running desperately but not too harried to rescue an abandoned little dog as he flees north toward kin in Albuquerque. By that act already one of the good guys, he is going to need a guardian, a kind of angel when the drug cartel thugs come after him. Voila, enter Troy, a business man in Albuquerque's bustling down town. Of course it's that now feisty little Chihuahua who plays cupid! Here you can meet Juan and the puppy who becomes Burrito Belle.




Excerpt:
Prologue
Cuidad El Paso, USA
Late spring
4:30 A.M.
Juan Pablo Garcia y Calderon crept along the dark alley. He moved as quietly as his feline counterparts who haunted the place. They slipped off ahead and aside, silent as shadows, granting a fellow traveler passage. If the saints and Mother Mary were kind, he’d evade those who pursued him. Approaching dawn tinged the eastern horizon with the faintest hint of color, but in El Paso’s bleakest barrio, the only colors were shades of gray.
A slight sound halted his progress. A whimper, a whine, the merest whisper of distress? Where? What? He stopped to listen with total concentration. Again, there, just to his left. Close. He stooped to reach with a careful hand, mindful of hidden dangers. Rags, tattered papers, and trash were all his questing fingers found. Then…Wait…softness and a trace of warmth. He groped deeper in the litter, finding a small body, merely thinly furred skin stretched over fragile bones, but it stirred and gave off a trace of living heat.
The creature did not resist when he scooped it up. The fading darkness and his night-tuned vision let him discern the color—pale tan—and the shape, head too big for the small body with stick-like legs and large ears. A Chihuahua puppy by the looks of it. He tucked the shivering little shape into his sweatshirt and cradled it there with one hand as he pressed on, moving faster now under the spur of urgency. He needed to be far from here before sunrise.
No time to dawdle now. Albuquerque and the relative safety of Tio Tom├ís’s home were still far away. Juan broke into a trot, trying to steady the small dog against his body. He still scanned the area around him as he loped along, alert for hazards and danger, but eager to leave the ugly reality of the border city as far behind him as he could. He’d made it this far, and with luck, he’d never return to Cuidad Juarez and its war-torn streets again. His brief time there had almost cost him his life. He’d learned it had taken his brother’s. Pedro had been working for the Federales undercover and someone had caught onto him—that was the only thing Juan could figure.
The puppy didn’t move as they headed toward safety. At the moment, he was not even sure of the gender of the pup he’d found but its shivering had stopped. Still he could feel the slight flutter of breath and heartbeat and knew the little dog was alive. Saving it became almost as critical a need as saving himself. They were two of a kind—throw-away refugees, devalued by the unforgiving society that had made them outcasts and judged their lives of no worth. Juan was tough. If the pup were equally so, they would make it.
Sunrise found him in the northwest quadrant of the city, moving along the Rio Grande, between it and the humming busy-ness of Interstate 25. Following those two arteries would lead him eventually to Albuquerque. It was a long way to walk, but he’d already come a longer way. A few more kilometers, even many, were not too far to go for safety and a chance at tomorrow.


Saturday, August 11, 2018

Like Meanwhile Back at the Ranch...

Okay, let 's go back to some of the stories that have been released in between Dude Ranch Nights and Homeless in Heaven! I did not realize just how out of the loop I had been--much closer to merely existing than living for awhile with the issues I went into more over at the 4Ds blog. (http://deirdre-fourds.blogspot.com) That's just my chatty one with memoirs, poems, family history and all sorts of other stuff that may or may not interest readers here. Anyway back to Deirdre O'Dare's republished gay romances!

I am not sure of the release dates on these but they are all on the JMS catalog now and can be found on my page, http://www.jms-books.com/deirdre-odare-m-191.html?zenid= 62b9tECQvobSJ2QiUg6qd1

The Chap in Chaps
 In 1910, Charles Smythe inherits a ranch from his late uncle. With some misgivings about leaving his life in England, he finally arrives in Arizona Territory only to meet one of his employees, an experienced hired hand named Sombra. In Sombra, Charles finds not only the perfect man to teach him all he needs to know about ranching, but also the masterful lover he has always craved. Can he build a real relationship this time, especially with a man so different?

As a youth, Sombra fled his New England home in disgrace when his first homosexual affair become public knowledge. Upon arriving in Arizona, he found employment with Dabney Darwin, Charles's uncle, and the kindly English expatriate fashioned him into the son he never had. But when Dab's nephew arrives to assume ownership of the property, Sombra is not sure how to take young Charles. Yet he soon discovers that "taking Charles" is exactly what they both need ... and desperately desire.

I'm not sure where this one came from to be honest. Again I think the title was the trigger that got my mind into that 'what if" loop.  So that means the "chap" was the first character to step out and introduce himself, voila, Charles. I have a sort of fascination with 'men in black' somber, grim and slightly mysterious men, so Sombra emerged soon to let me know he was the right man to teach young Charles the western ways. BTW Sombra is "shadow" in Spanish which is not quite my second language but one very prevalent in New Mexico and Arizona. Although Sombra is not Latino, I do often have Latino characters; they are part of the scene here. This is a spicy one and also filled with some outdoor adventures. Are those not Deirdre's stock in trade? BTW I love the cover, another of Trace Zaber's great ones. The background is perfect and looks just like the actual area in Arizona that I used to set the story.

                                     Wrenching:  
Mal has not had an easy life. He’s struggled to overcome a lot of roadblocks and hardships as he built himself a life as a mechanic, despite a serious handicap. He’s admired rancher Dan from afar but never dreamed events would play out to land him in the amazing spot of being able to do a real service for his secret hero. Can he maintain his cool and a safe distance when they’re sharing a house and working to resolve a dangerous mystery?

Dan says he does not have employees but friends who help him run the ranch he inherited from his father. Challenged by his younger step-brother and facing dangerous sabotage to his truck, he enlists a young mechanic to help solve the puzzle. He’d always wanted a real brother or a partner he could trust but his step-brother is not the right guy to fill that role. How about Mal, who brings some fine but rare qualities to the Flying W?

This one started as part of a themed set we did at Amber Quill long ago, all somehow linked to a garage! Love stories in a garage? Are mechanics romantic figures? So the challenge was to make it work!  Mal appeared first, the mechanic for the story and let me know about his tough youth and his injury. I had to admire his spunk, determination and grit. It was no stretch that he might hero-worship a good looking well-off man who was a customer of his boss's shop. A 'cowboy' or in this case a rancher who turned out not to have the ideal life Mal imagined. They both talked to me as the story unfolded--danger, adventure, a bit  of mystery and a slowly building case of attraction and sexual tension! To get the mystery solved and find how it all ends, read the story! As to the cover, who can resist a good looking young man with a big tool??

Next time we'll go to the dogs again as my beloved and always popular Canine Cupid tales, some part of the original group and some not, are making a new appearance. Happy late summer relaxing. Get a tall cool one and find a nice beach or a shady patio and start reading!


Sunday, August 5, 2018

A Brand New Release

I'm going to jump over several and give a shout out on my new JMS book that just came out this weekend.

This one  like many stories basically started from the title which just popped into my head and started the what if notions going. "Homeless in Heaven" The irony and the dichotomy got me.

I set it in Colorado where I lived two different times and a bit of Colorado Springs wound up in Eden, Colorado. I'm not sure where Merl came from although I do have a great deal of sympathy for vets who come home to bad news and do not get the welcome and care they deserve. Such men deserve a special angel and that's where Nate came in. He too just suddenly showed up and the two men proceeded to share their storiess with me and revealed how their two individual tales slowly merged and intertwined.  Homeless in Heaven is a heartfelt story for me.

It is on sale as a new release at JMS. Here is the link: https://www.jms-books.com/erotic-romance-c-29_94/homeless-in-heaven-p-2475.html?zenid=8iTSFd-aggFquZIOFj93g0

I like the cover. That is not Nate walking away but an example of how so many treat someone who is down and out. Merl would probably not hang his head in public but he was feeling very alone and even more needy than he quite realized when he met Nate. 



Last but not least, a short excerpt so you can meet both men!

Late November
Eden, Colorado
Merl Weishart hefted the lumpy black bag and settled it on his shoulder. About thirty pounds. Even at the current prices for aluminum, oughta be enough for a hot meal.
He’d collected soda cans for over a week to fill the bag. With the bite of the north wind ahead of an approaching cold front, a hot meal would be good, almost necessary.
Smartest thing would be to buy the food and fix it himself. Still, it would be nice to sit inside at a table to eat for a change. The makeshift stove in his camp cooked, but not very well, and he had no table, much less a chair. Juggling a tin plate on his knees made mealtime awkward. The tent and tarps he’d rigged for his shelter cut the wind some, but from now until spring, warmth was going to be a stranger to him.
Since this would be his second winter in the homeless camp straggling along Goldrush Creek, he knew what to expect: cold and more cold. There would be lots of days when all he could do was huddle in his old army sleeping bag and wait for the snow to stop and the blizzard winds to die down. Cold was bad, but wind and getting wet made it worse. A man could freeze. Some did. Several had died in the camp last year. Although he wasn’t sure why, he chose to survive if there was any way he could. Surrender, quitting, giving up, and death were not options.
Damned if I know what I’m living for, but life still feels better than death. Maybe someday I’ll figure out why.
He settled the bag into an easy balance and started off at a brisk pace. The recycle place down on VanAlwyn Street was a good two miles away, so no use poking along. The sooner he got there, the sooner he’d have a few dollars in his pocket and the means to get that meal.
* * * *
Nathan Bloom turned the furred collar of his down parka up around his neck against the biting wind.
I’m certifiable, coming out when I could be home in a cozy house. But the light today with these broken clouds is perfect. It’ll set off the starkness of the camp and the pathos of the situation. I ought to be able to get some great photos.
He shifted the classic Nikon and the Canon digital cameras that hung around his neck, gloved hands a bit clumsy in the effort. To actually use the cameras the gloves would have to come off, but he’d wait until he was ready to shoot before he removed them. Otherwise, his hands would be too stiff to operate the controls.
Looking ahead, his gaze probed down the path meandering along the creek under disordered platoons of towering trees, now leafless. The stark, barren shapes added to the bleak mood. He snapped a couple of fast shots in hopes of capturing the feeling. When he looked back at the path, he checked the stride he was about to make.
His gut clenched with brief anxiety at the sight of the man who approached him. The fellow looked like a grizzly bear or a gorilla in mismatched cold weather clothes. The first item was a hugely bulky parka, mostly red with patches of other colors scattered here and there. The pants might once have been blue, but now were a dull gray-brown, as if coated with grease and soot. A ragged wool cap striped in red and dirty white topped his head. Twigs and wisps of rich brown hair poked out from under it, hair that matched the tangled beard hiding most of the man’s face. He carried a bulging bag on one shoulder, probably one of those heavy-duty black construction-weight trash bags.
On second thought, the man really did not look threatening, just rough and very big. Nate drew his gloves off and readied a camera. When the man drew close enough, he spoke a greeting.
“Hello. Not the greatest day, is it? Would it be all right if I take your picture?”
The big man halted, a quizzical expression crossing the visible part of his face. “Me? Why would you want a picture of me?”
“I’m working on a photo-journalism piece about our local homeless camps and the people in them. You look like a unique member of the camp residents, maybe a leader? Not many of them display the vitality or size you carry.”
The big man shrugged. “Nope, hardly a leader. Kind of a loner, I guess. Oh, I’ll try and help if somebody’s being bullied by other campers or hassled by the cops, but mostly I keep to myself. If you want a picture, though, I don’t care.”
Nate raised the Nikon and snapped a couple of pictures, centering the man’s bulk against the glowering clouds piling up to the north. Then he got a couple of shots with the digital.
“What’s your name?” he asked, more to buy a few more minutes than from an actual desire to know.
“Merl.”
“Just Merl?”
The man shrugged again. “That’s all there is of it anymore. Used to have two names and even a title of sorts in front of them, but that was in another life. How about you?”
“My name’s Nate Bloom. I live here in Eden, about a mile to the west.” He held out a hand before he put his gloves back on. The big man wasn’t wearing gloves. He shifted the bag to his left shoulder and met Nate’s offered clasp.
“Pleased to meet you, Nate.” Although the big man’s hand felt cold, a strange sizzle of energy still zipped up Nate’s arm from the contact. He noted the other man did not squeeze hard, although the clasp felt firm and positive. Well, you wouldn’t expect a limp shake from such a bear of a man, would you?
“I need to be getting along,” Merl said. “Gotta get these cans sold down at Kardamian’s Recycling today. You be careful, Nate. Most of the folks here are okay, but there are a few rotten apples—they’d shove you in the creek to take your coat, maybe try to rip off those cameras to pawn.”
Nate saw what seemed to be genuine concern in the other man’s deep-set dark eyes. “I’ll be watchful,” he said. “I’ve been down here quite a bit and never had any trouble.”
He thought of mentioning he had a permit and carried a small handgun in a concealed holster, but decided against that. It was nobody’s business whether or not he could defend himself. Still, the big man’s advice and apparent care warmed him. The people he’d met here in the camp never ceased to amaze him, in ways both good and shocking. Few fit the stereotype of folks lacking ambition or education, maybe dragged down by drugs or alcohol. Oh, there were some of them, of course, but the population held great diversity.

Most of them had a story, too. Maybe in time he’d get to know Merl better, enough to learn his tale. He sensed the big man had to have one because he spoke with an educated accent and reflected a quiet dignity, despite the total indignity of his present life.


Friday, August 3, 2018

New books since January 1

The last release I really discussed was Dude Ranch Nights, which came out back in 2017. Althogh it has not been quite one a month, a lot of Deirdre O'Dare tales are again available. I mentioned the Amazon Kindle effort last fall and this has continued. Most of the future releases will also be included in this program.

Guilty By Innocence came out on December 31, so it just barely hit in 2017. It tells the story of an unlikely pair, a vice detective in El Paso, TX and a young man who is found at the scene of a brutal mass murder, apparently the work of a drug cartel related gang. The young man, Gabe, has lost his memory but Jax, the cop, soon recognizes the likelihood he is guilty is very slight.

Here is the prologue which gives you a glimpse of this harshly realistic story although I guarantee it has a happy ending. It is a gay romance, after all! Here is the cover--very similar to the original.

***

Prologue
El Paso, TX
Late Fall
Cold. Pain. Floating and yet so heavy. Sensory details flooded his mind, but they only confused him.
Where am I? What’s happened?
He realized then that odors were the most insistent cue. Hot, metallic—the raw, thick scents of fresh blood and terror.
Holy Mother, what’s happened?
Sticky moisture seemed to coat his skin, growing crustier by the minute. The fingers of his right hand clenched around something hard, solid. His hand hurt, but he could not let go. He clutched it with unremitting urgency. Next, he heard a low, anguished moan followed by the building scream of sirens.
Then the scariest question of all entered his mind: Who am I?
He could not come up with a name or even a single trace of an identity. Before utter terror overcame him, he let the dark weight of silence close over him like water.

Chapter 1
A Few Minutes Later
Jackson Byrne “Jax” McDermott pulled his unmarked car to the curb, cut the ignition, and stepped out. 3150 Rincon Street was ablaze with lights and starting to swarm with action. The first responders had begun to arrive. He watched four EMTs led by their sergeant, Delia Maldonado, unload from their ambulance, which had pulled in behind his car.
Before they went to work, he needed to view the scene. From the sound of the call, they’d probably just be picking up pieces anyway. Two uniforms were already stretching yellow crime scene tape around the simple, boxy, typical tract house on the sprawling city’s northeast side. Jax stepped across one tape band and headed for the open front door, which hung off a single hinge.
Mickey Finnegan, one of the newest rookies on the EPPD, came charging out. He skidded to a stop and then puked into the arbor vitae to the left of the cement stoop.
Jax looked at the young cop with a trace of sympathy. He’d been there once. “Bad, huh?”
Micky coughed and gagged before he replied. “Yeah. Real bad.”
Edging past the green-faced rookie, Jax went inside the house. With ten years as a cop behind him—six on the street and four as a detective—broken by a tour in the Middle East with the National Guard, there wasn’t much he hadn’t seen. He’d deal with it. He stopped two steps inside, blinked, and began to breathe in shallow pants through his mouth. You could cut the stench with a knife—blood, puke, piss, fear and death. There might have been a place somewhere when he’d seen that much blood, but he couldn’t recall it. The whole room seemed to have been painted red. He counted six bodies.
Delia came up behind him. He held out a hand, halting her for a moment. “They look like coroner cases,” he said. “Give me a minute and then you can do your thing.”
He did a quick mental count—an older man against the far wall, a middle-aged woman two steps to the man’s right, a young woman with her arms extended toward a kid, apparently a boy maybe four or five. Gaping throats slashed open, still-seeping gashes on limbs and torsos. They all must have struggled, resisting to no avail. An infant, just beyond the boy. Whoa. Unbelievably, the kid moved and made a faint mew like an injured kitten.
Delia shoved past him. He let her. He managed to draw a fast sketch of the scene in his notebook to show the small form’s spot on the sticky floor as the EMTs worked. When his gaze skidded to the last body, he went dead still. From the blood-crusted face of an apparent corpse, two eyes stared at him, eyes holding a clear and unmistakable shine of life and awareness. No gashed throat on that one, either. He was definitely still alive. The eyes blinked shut, as if the man knew he’d been made. Jax grabbed his camera and snapped a couple of fast shots.
Delia and her team bundled up the infant to evacuate it. As she started past him, following one of her crew with the baby, Jax halted her.
“Del, that one’s alive, too.” He pointed.
She stopped. Her glance whipped around to the last body, apparently a young man.
Sixth victim? But wait, in one blood-painted hand, he clenched the rough wooden handle of a two-foot long machete, the wide blade streaked black with blood.
“You can take him as soon as I mark the placement of the body, but tell the ER crew he doesn’t go anywhere until they hear from me. He could be the perp, and I’m not taking any chances. Save his clothes, too, and anything else you or the ER staff find on him. I’ll get hold of Nat at the ME’s office and see if she can meet you at the hospital to get blood samples and anything else she can while it’s fresh.”
Del nodded. She knew the drill. These days, crime scene pickups were a regular part of her team’s routine. El Paso had become a war zone. Like Jax and a number of others on the force and in the first responders, she’d been in the military in the Middle East. None of them had seen anything worse while they were over there.
It only took a couple of minutes before the EMTs were back with a gurney. Eight careful hands lifted the young man’s body from the floor. If he was still conscious, he played possum like a champ, but the slow rise and fall of the bloody, tattered T-shirt across his chest proved he still lived.
Once the ambulance shrieked away, Jax took out his camera once more and began to snap pictures. There wasn’t much in the way of physical evidence to collect—except for the savaged bodies and blood. There was plenty of that. Jax knew two crime lab techs would be there any minute to go to work on the wet evidence.
When he finished at the house, Jax drove over to St. Martin’s Hospital. Not that he didn’t trust both Delia and Nat to do their jobs, but he’d learned better than to leave anything to chance. Over the years, he’d seen too many guilty fucking bastards get off on technicalities and sloppy police work. He’d be damned if one would skate because of his failures.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Arising from the Near-Dead?

I did not realize how long it has been. Turns out I have taken a much longer sabbatical than I planned or anticipated. I was going to do a short break in my usual down time from around December 1 until that midway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox which falls in early February. As the Scots poet Burns put it, "The best laid plann of mice and men gang aft aglee." Mine sure did!

Right after the first of January, we had to have our oldest dog put down. She was really my brother's but we share a home and she'd been part of my clan for quite awhile since I moved in with them on April 1, 2009! We think Beebee had some kind of internal cancer but she had been failing for awhile and attempted  treatments were not doing much good. When she stopped eating and got 'that look' in her eyes, we knew it was time. The other four moped and missed her for a bit but soon closed ranks and moved on.

Our next issue was a really nasty case of the flu. Despite having had the shots--they finally admitted the vaccine was less than 40% effective!--we got sick, majorly sick. Never had to go to the hospital but took every home remedy in the book and drank lots of hot lemonade and rum toddies to dampen the awful croupy cough enough to sleep some. It hung around for a good month and left us feeling totally trashed. Then as a follow up, I got some kind of a digestive problem and ate little to nothing for about three weeks and did not dare get too far from the facilities. Peppermint oil finally calmed my innards and I've used it ever since as it also keeps my intermittent IBS at bay quite well.

So now it is March and I go for my belated annual eye exam. Yes, I am still battling the dry eye and allergy eye issues but I also learned that I was ripe for cataract surgery! My doctor tried valiantly to ease the dry eyes as much as possible with a variety of ideas--more time passed--but the surgeon finally decided to go ahead so I had the two eyes done on May 3 and May 17. That was an adventure also. My right eye did fine and is now 20-20 except for close up, the normal cataract removal 'cure' for myopia ,but the left one was worse on both myopia and astigmatism so I find I still have to have correction there. Actually I do not mind--trying to keep track of readers and get used to no close vision was driving me nuts! I got my new glasses in mid June and then had a really bad allergic conjunctivitis spell. Finally as the summer rainy season started with an increases in humidty, I can actually see clearly most of the time!

That being the case I have crawled out of  my den like the groundhog and looked around. What, it's summer? You mean 2018 is over half gone? Yikes! Anyway, despite my semi-absence, things have been moving along.

My wonderful new publisher, JMS Books, has been steadily reissuing my favorite stories from the old Amber Quill library. Loose Id, which had begun to reissue my popular Canine Cupid tales in groups of two republished with one new story announced their closure early this year and my rights were returned in late spring so those also will now be at JMS. I've got lots of new covers to share and I'll be doing that shortly.

One more installment in my "Perils of Pauline" year was the total crash of my computer about three weeks ago. With all the other issues I had failed to do the backups, even had not copied a lot of things to my flash drives, so I lost a lot. We're shopping around some of the data recovery firms to see if we can find one that I can afford and maybe send the old hard drive away and hope I can get a bunch of photos and writing projects back in a usable form but no guarantees. Among them were the first scenes for two new canine cupid stories, one historical and one contemporary. I am trying to reconstruct them in my mind and then get some words down again but it is like pulling hen's teeth.

Anyway, more than enough whines. Actually I am not whining as I know the old hippie saying is true. Yes, shit does happen! Sometimes it just comes in bunches like grapes and you have to deal with it, meanwhile hoping the current run of catastrophes has finally reached the end!  Please join me in a fervent prayer to whatever Deities you trust and put faith in that this will prove true!

However you cannot keep an ornery and feisty old Welsh-Irish tale-weaver down so stay tuned and I will do my best to provide regular installments on the creative endeavors of me and my alter ego. Yes, Gwynn Morgan is still around too and trying to resurrect the idea to getting her novels out in new forms via Smashwords and bringing  her long-delayed Copper Stars of Cochise trilogy to an end with the third never completed tale!

What, no pictures? Hmm. Okay--my two canines deserve a view since they are part of the inspiration for future Canine Cupid stories. Behold, Rojito and Ginger in repose. And the late Beebee, about a year ago before her decline was too serious
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