#FREE “And Then She Vanished (The Joseph Bridgeman Series Book 1)” by Nick Jones

book cover

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He only looked away for a second.

Still haunted by the disappearance of his little sister, Amy, over twenty years ago, Joseph Bridgeman’s life has fallen apart. When a friend talks him into seeing hypnotherapist Alexia Finch to help with his insomnia, Joseph accidentally discovers he can time travel. His first trip only takes him back a few minutes, but his new-found ability gives him something he hasn’t felt for the longest time: hope.

Joseph sets out to travel back to the night Amy went missing and save her. But after several failed attempts, he discovers the farther back he travels, the less time he gets to stay there. And the clock is ticking.

With the help of Alexia, Joseph embarks on a desperate race against the past to save his sister. Can he master his new skill and solve the mystery of Amy’s disappearance before it’s too late?

Previously released as The Unexpected Gift of Joseph Bridgeman, this updated version includes extra chapters, new plotlines, and even deeper character development. It makes way for an expanded vision of the Joseph Bridgeman Series, with the first four books released in 2021 and 2022.

FREE at all online digital retailers thru 3/18/22!

Amazon

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#NewRelease “Darkness Stirring: A Troubled Spirits Novel” by J.R. Erickson

 

Darkness Stirring cover

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Inspired by an eerie true story.
Lorraine Hicks is fourteen-years-old when she watches her best friend, Beverly climb into a tree in the forest and never come back down. It’s a mystery that haunts her small town and embeds itself in Lorraine’s life.

Fifteen years later, Lori is a grown woman, doing her best to move on from her troubled childhood. She reluctantly agrees to a night of camping, despite her secret terror of the woods. As she sits by a roaring bonfire, a man stands and tells the story of two fourteen-year-old friends who walked into the Manistee National Forest-only one of them walked back out.

The story is hauntingly similar to Lori’s own, and she embarks on a quest to discover if the two disappearances are linked.

As she unravels the truth behind the vanishings, she unearths a malevolence that forces her to question if evil truly exists.

Don’t miss this chilling paranormal murder mystery.

Kindle Unlimited

Amazon

~~~

#Excerpt “Foul Deeds Will Rise (Backstage Mysteries Book 2)” by Elizabeth Ireland

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By 1875, Lillian Nolan believes she has successfully shut off any connection to the spirit world. That winter she is thrilled when she wins the role of Ophelia in a new production of Hamlet in her home town of Chicago. Everything changes when the body of the managing director is found sprawled across the steps of the dress circle and all the investors’ money is missing. Lillian fears, once again, her career is over before it begins.

After her dearest friend is arrested for murder, Lillian commits herself to discovering the truth. Her search is complicated by a strange man who is following her, the romantic overtures of her co-star, and a reunion with an old nemesis. But nothing is what it seems. What she does find puts a member of her own family at risk and leads to the unmasking of the killer with lethal consequences for herself.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

Amazon US

~~~

THE BACKSTAGE MYSTERY SERIES

Tagline: Life upon the wicked stage can be deadly.

Set against the backdrop of the Gilded Age, the Backstage Mystery Series stars Lillian Nolan, an unconventional member of Chicago’s upper class who dreams of a career of fortune and fame in the theatre. Talented and ambitious, she possesses a hidden skill which she is extremely reluctant to use—the ability to communicate with those who have died and now live in the world of “The Beyond.”

The series chronicles her adventures in which she continually becomes enmeshed in solving mysteries which often require her accessing the realm of the paranormal. Filled with an incredible cast of characters—factual, fictional, and sometimes non-physical—who either help or hinder her quest for the truth, the stories take place during a a period considered to be the golden age of both acting and spiritualism in America.

EXCERPT

In 1875, Phillip Kincaid, managing director of Ellicott’s Theatre, disregards the odd physical symptoms he has been having when he goes up to the dress circle to watch the end of a performance of Hamlet, starring up and coming actor, James O’Neill.

Arthur looked over the audience of the theater and saw that almost everyone was focused upon the stage. O’Neill was an actor with substantial talent and ability and he was using every ounce of it to his advantage in the scene. He performed Hamlet’s sword fight with the actor who portrayed Laertes with grace and great athleticism.

They watched enthralled. The crash of swords, the cries from those onstage, and the gasps from the audience members, forced them to place their complete attention on the play as one after another of the royal family of Denmark died onstage in a vision of Renaissance death that was loud, dramatic, and completely enthralling. Along with the rest of the audience, Arthur and Marion were mesmerized.

Phillip watched as well. Pleased, he knew he had made the right decision about O’Neill. Then all at once, a mind-numbing pain shot through the center of his chest and he found he could not breathe. His entire body felt as if it were clamped in a vise. Sweat poured down his face. Wrapping his arms around his chest gave him no relief. What the hell is happening to me?

He tried to call out, to reach out to Arthur but the noise from the stage was so loud and he simply could not form the words. Pain pulsed through him once again and he doubled over in agony. At the very instant he thought he could not take one more moment of it, the pain stopped, the vise miraculously released and he fell back into his seat and slumped over to the side. A long sigh escaped from his body and the world went dark for Phillip Kincaid.

~~~

Elizabeth IrelandAuthor Bio  

Elizabeth Ireland discovered her passion for theatre early. After receiving undergraduate and graduate degrees in Theatre, she accepted a teaching position in a vibrant performing arts department at a college in northern Illinois. For ten years, she taught, directed and ran front-of-house operations. American Theatre History—particularly that of the 19th century—has always been of particular interest to her.

She has been a quarter-finalist and a semi-finalist for the Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowship in screenwriting sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Two of her screenplays have been optioned but remain unproduced. Her nonfiction work, Women of Vision: Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives, was published in 2008. Her work has also been published in a collection of paranormal short stories, Paramourtal: Tales of Undying Love and Loving the Undead. She lives in metro Atlanta with her ever-patient husband, and two quirky dachshunds.

Social Media Links

Facebook     Website     Twitter

~~~

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#Excerpt “A Walking Shadow (Backstage Mysteries Book 1)” by Elizabeth Ireland

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In 1871, Lillian Nolan accepts a small role in Macbeth, and finally fulfills her dream of becoming an actress. That is until the renowned, but venomous, female star of the production is murdered onstage opening night. When her enraged spirit haunts the theatre, Lillian is shocked to discover she can communicate with her. Offered a Faustian bargain in which she will be given talent and expertise way beyond her ability in exchange for uncovering the killer, Lillian can’t resist.

Her quest for the truth causes her to descend into the Underworld, the den of inequity below the streets of Chicago. What Lillian finds soon embroils her in a battle between her passion for performing and control over her own body as it all plays out in a supernatural game of good and evil.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

Amazon US

~~~

THE BACKSTAGE MYSTERY SERIES

Tagline: Life upon the wicked stage can be deadly.

Set against the backdrop of the Gilded Age, the Backstage Mystery Series stars Lillian Nolan, an unconventional member of Chicago’s upper class who dreams of a career of fortune and fame in the theatre. Talented and ambitious, she possesses a hidden skill which she is extremely reluctant to use—the ability to communicate with those who have died and now live in the world of “The Beyond.”

The series chronicles her adventures in which she continually becomes enmeshed in solving mysteries which often require her accessing the realm of the paranormal. Filled with an incredible cast of characters—factual, fictional, and sometimes non-physical—who either help or hinder her quest for the truth, the stories take place during a period considered to be the golden age of both acting and spiritualism in America.

EXCERPT

  1. On opening night in the fall of 1871, Irene Davenport, the renowned star of Macbeth is strangled to death by her signature pearls during her final bow.

The applause started to slacken, but Irene did not leave the stage. The main curtain began to close. Taking one final deep bow, she lowered her head almost to the floor and then threw it back in a triumph-filled gesture. Her pearls, following the momentum of that effort, swung back behind her and caught on the scenery. The applause picked up one final time and she decided that now was the moment to leave.

She turned, but, as if caught by an invisible hand, she was yanked back. The scenery moved upwards and was lifted into the fly space. Irene was caught and pulled backwards. The knot in her pearls slipped toward her head and began to tighten around her throat. She felt herself being slowly pulled upward. The pearls dug into her neck and she felt the pressure of each one against her delicate skin.

At first, she was merely surprised and startled. What new disaster is this? she asked herself. She put her right hand up to her neck and tried to loosen the pearls which only drew tighter. All pretenses were then cast aside; she panicked and dropped the roses, as both of her hands reached up to grab the white, translucent noose around her neck. The roses hit the floor, sending several yellow petals floating up and then gently back down to the stage, where they softly landed, abandoned on the scarred floor.

The orchestra, which had been playing background music for the change, stopped abruptly. The applause completely died out, replaced by confusion. The audience watched as Irene’s feet rose from the stage floor, and still the scenery continued to move up and into the fly space. She pulled at her pearls. In blind terror now, she concentrated only on wrenching away the pearls, but was ineffective against the ever tightening noose. Her face lost its actor’s mask and now showed only raw fear. As she struggled and gasped for breath, the audience finally began to comprehend what was taking place. A woman screamed in horror and that was the signal for the entire audience to merge into the aisles in an attempt to exit wherever possible.

~~~

Elizabeth IrelandAuthor Bio  

Elizabeth Ireland discovered her passion for theatre early. After receiving undergraduate and graduate degrees in Theatre, she accepted a teaching position in a vibrant performing arts department at a college in northern Illinois. For ten years, she taught, directed and ran front-of-house operations. American Theatre History—particularly that of the 19th century—has always been of particular interest to her.

She has been a quarter-finalist and a semi-finalist for the Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowship in screenwriting sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Two of her screenplays have been optioned but remain unproduced. Her nonfiction work, Women of Vision: Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives, was published in 2008. Her work has also been published in a collection of paranormal short stories, Paramourtal: Tales of Undying Love and Loving the Undead. She lives in metro Atlanta with her ever-patient husband, and two quirky dachshunds.

Social Media Links

Facebook     Website     Twitter

~~~

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#Review “Out of Darkness” by Darcia Helle

Out of Darkness cover

on Tour March 1-31, 2019

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5/5 Stars!

Private Investigator Joe Cavelli has gotten used to hearing voices.

That the voices belong to spirits no longer among the living isn’t a biggie either. He knows a gift he’d buried in childhood has a purpose and is part of who he is and his own personal destiny. Joe assists ghosts (if you will) with solving the mystery behind their demise or tying up loose ends from their lives before they move on to the next realm. Sometimes tears are shed, and emotions run high, but Joe is left with a sense of satisfaction and peace.

His wife, brother and best friend are privy to Joe’s sideline… and life goes on. No pun intended.

Until Angus “Gus” Smith arrives.

Gus is rude, foul-mouthed, obnoxious, pushy, sarcastic… and just plain mean. He was guided to Joe by Max (spirit number one) but he has nothing else to tell Joe. How he died, why he died or where his body is.

Just that he keeps ending up the dark place.

With absolutely no trail to follow, Joe walks a fine line piecing together the life of Angus Smith. With each new bit of information Joe finds, bits of Gus’ memory return, making him even angrier.

But with the help of Everett and his endless game of Clue, the stern Leah and far-out and funky Martin, Mystical Matrix Magician Sebastian, harmonizers Avis and Siva, and even one of the men who attacked him, Gus comes to understand his anger is hindering Joe’s investigation, and his own ability to escape the dark place.

Gus’ new sense of acceptance and direction bring plot twists with them that are jaw-dropping. I’d finally gotten over (mostly) learning about Uncle Leo’s slaughtered meat… and the secret ingredient, to learn the root cause behind  Gus’ condition was even more evil and disgusting… and Gus wasn’t even aware of it.

Stellar writing and complex characters make this page-turner also a study in enlightenment—not new age or anything like that—but into ourselves.

We live with the premise things we say can and do hurt others, but Out of Darkness shows how we can do just as much—if not more—damage to ourselves with our own words and emotions.

Joe’s wife, Alexis, gets gold stars for being the supportive wife of the millennium. His assistant, Tia, is priceless and all too happy to join in the paranormal investigation, and I may even kinda, sorta like Det. Nolan… a little.

This read is definitely a wild ride with a fantastic ending I recommend to everyone.

All parties are guilty of something… just not what you think.

Enjoy!

~~~

Synopsis:

Out of the Darkness by Darcia Helle

Gus wakes up in a dark void with no memory and no body. Screaming and cursing does him no good. He’s trapped, until he learns about one man who can help.

Joe Cavelli is a PI who hears ghosts, solves their murders, and sometimes fixes their personal problems. Now he finds himself pestered by an invisible, impatient, and brash amnesiac.

Solving cases for ghosts comes with a unique set of circumstances. This time, Joe can’t even claim to be investigating a murder, since Gus’s body is nowhere to be found. Together, Joe and Gus delve into Gus’s past, uncovering clues that lead to a startling conclusion.

Book Details:

Genre: Paranormal Suspense
Published by: Indie
Publication Date: February 12, 2019
Number of Pages: 300
ASIN: B07KJGZY9F
Series: Joe Cavelli, Paranormal PI Book 2
Purchase Links: Amazon |Goodreads

~~~

 

Enter To Win!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Darcia Helle. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on March 1, 2019 and runs through April 1, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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#BookTour “Out of Darkness” by Darcia Helle

on Tour March 1-31, 2019

Synopsis:

Out of the Darkness by Darcia Helle

Gus wakes up in a dark void with no memory and no body. Screaming and cursing does him no good. He’s trapped, until he learns about one man who can help.

Joe Cavelli is a PI who hears ghosts, solves their murders, and sometimes fixes their personal problems. Now he finds himself pestered by an invisible, impatient, and brash amnesiac.

Solving cases for ghosts comes with a unique set of circumstances. This time, Joe can’t even claim to be investigating a murder, since Gus’s body is nowhere to be found. Together, Joe and Gus delve into Gus’s past, uncovering clues that lead to a startling conclusion.

Book Details:

Genre: Paranormal Suspense
Published by: Indie
Publication Date: February 12, 2019
Number of Pages: 300
ASIN: B07KJGZY9F
Series: Joe Cavelli, Paranormal PI Book 2
Purchase Links: Amazon |Goodreads

 

Read an excerpt:

Joe put the few dishes in the dishwasher, made himself another cup of strong coffee, and said, “Okay, Gus. Let’s see if we can figure this out.”

He walked out of the kitchen, Gus’s voice trailing after him. “Where are we going?”

“My office.”

Joe stepped into the room that was the smaller of the two spare bedrooms. He crossed over to his desk, opened his laptop, and switched it on.

“This is your office?”

Joe sat in his padded leather chair. “My home office. I have another, professional place, with an assistant. No need to go there, though, particularly since she doesn’t know about—” He waved his hand in Gus’s general direction. “—you. This.”

“She doesn’t know you talk to ghosts, is what you’re saying?”

“Right.”

“Afraid she’d think you’re crazy?”

“No. It’s just not something I feel like sharing.”

“You banging her?”

“Jesus. No.”

“Huh. I thought all guys banged their secretaries.”

Joe heard the dry humor in Gus’s tone, though the statement still irritated him. “No, all guys don’t. And I said assistant, not secretary.”

“Same thing, isn’t it?”

“No. But it doesn’t matter anyway. I’m a one-woman man.”

Joe opened a browser page, then the Tampa Bay Times website. He typed ‘Angus Smith’ into the search bar and clicked the Enter key.

“What are you doing?”

Gus had a gruff way of asking a question that made it sound more like an accusation. One minute Joe felt bad for Gus, and the next he wanted to punch Gus in the face. If he could see Gus’s face.

If Gus even had a face. Did ghosts have faces, or were they just invisible blobs of energy? Joe was too tired to deal with this.

“I’m trying to find out how you died,” Joe said.

“Why?”

“I don’t know, Gus. Because it’s a place to start? Figure out how you died and maybe I’ll figure out why you’re stuck in the dark? Unless you have a better idea?”

A huff, then, “No. I got nothing.”

Gus kept silent while Joe scrolled down and clicked a link. Gus’s photo stared back at him from the screen. Seeing the person for the first time was always an odd experience. He couldn’t help but form a picture of each ghost in his mind, based solely on the voice and the little he knew about who he or she had been. Sometimes he was way off. Other times, like now, he was pretty close.

“That’s a crapass picture of me,” Gus said.

Joe studied the grainy image accompanying the article. Buzzcut. Deep brown eyes. Tattoo snaking down the side of his neck, disappearing into his shirt. He seemed to be snarling at the camera. The article put him at 6’3”, 230 pounds, and Joe could see it was all muscle.

He didn’t address the quality of the photo, ignoring Gus while he read through the article. He double-checked the date on the article, then said, “You’re missing.”

“What d’you mean, I’m missing? I’m right here.”

“I mean, you were reported missing. Last Friday, so three days ago.”

“Missing? That makes no sense, since I’m dead.”

“No one appears to know you’re dead.”

“Huh.”

“Do you remember where you were when you died?”

“No.”

“Were you sick? In an accident? Traveling somewhere?”

“I don’t know!”

Joe leaned back and closed his eyes. He forced himself not to react to Gus’s abrupt tone. The guy had every reason to be upset, though this mess sure as hell wasn’t Joe’s fault.

“Who reported me missing?”

Joe opened his eyes and scanned the article. “Cat Loring.”

Silence. Joe waited a moment before adding, “Says she’s your live-in girlfriend.”

“Yeah.”

“Do you remember the last time you saw her?” Joe felt a cool wall of air pressing around him.

“Are you leaning on me?”

“I’m trying to read the article.”

Joe suppressed a shudder—barely. “It doesn’t say much. You left the house at your usual time on Thursday morning. You’re not answering your cell phone, and no one has seen you since.”

“I don’t remember.”

“What’s the last thing you remember?”

Silence.

“Gus?”

“The very last thing? Hell, I don’t know. I might’ve been at a bar with some buddies. I might’ve been driving my truck. Or having sex. It’s all a jumble.”

“Did you and Cat fight the last time you saw her?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think so. Maybe.”

“Could she have killed you?”

Gus snorted a laugh. “Cat? Kill me? That’s funny, Mr. Detective.”

“Yeah? Why is it so funny?”

“She just wouldn’t.”

Joe rubbed at his burning eyes. “Tell me about your relationship.”

“Why?”

“Maybe it’ll trigger a memory. Help me figure out where your body might be.”

“Well, shit.”

***

Excerpt from Out of the Darkness by Darcia Helle. Copyright © 2019 by Darcia Helle. Reproduced with permission from Darcia Helle. All rights reserved.

 

Darcia Helle

Author Bio:

 

Darcia Helle is a Massachusetts native, who escaped the New England winters to write in the Florida sunshine. She lives with her husband in a home full of spoiled rescue animals and an occasional stray lizard. She writes because the characters trespassing through her mind leave her no alternative.

Catch Up With Ms. Helle On:
darciahelle.com, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

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Enter To Win!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Darcia Helle. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on March 1, 2019 and runs through April 1, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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#Review “Into the Light” Darcia Helle

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5/5 Stars!

Thoroughly enjoyed this supernatural tale! This is my first time reading this author, but it won’t be my last!

Maxwell Paddington sucks at life. He’s teased and bullied as a kid, passed over for promotions several times as an adult, and his wife, Rachel, wants a divorce.

Then he’s murdered outside Chili’s.

Max is incredulous he’s now a ghost. Who wouldn’t be?

Convinced Rachel had him killed because he bought an expensive set of golf clubs, Max can’t prove it because no one can see or hear him until he encounters private investigator Joe Cavelli in Chili’s parking lot.

When a forgotten secret from Joe’s childhood is revealed, this unlikely duo forms a reluctant partnership to find out who killed Max and why.

Into the Light is appropriately titled and not just for the bright light at the end of life—even though Max’s grandpa and a host of familiar… and not so familiar deceased people all try to coax Max into the light—but because of the enlightenment both men receive as Joe interviews people from Max’s life.

Alive and dead, both men, so entrenched in their own convictions about people and life, come to realize living life in a vacuum isn’t living at all. Focusing on life will make you miss the moments that make up life.

Moments like: when Max meets a homeless man he once helped; when Joe meets Max’s parents; when Max is confronted by his deceased favorite aunt, and when Joe talks to Rachel. (Warning: Have tissues close by!)

Stellar writing makes this read a page-turner not so much to find out whodunit, but who said it, because whether it’s a snarky moment or emotions running high, the banter between Joe and Max is perfect. The men see a little of themselves in each other. Max takes it to heart, but Joe is a lot more stubborn… and heartbroken.

When the killer and his motive are revealed, Max isn’t as happy as he should be… because he still has unfinished business.

Into the Light is also one of those books that will linger long after it’s finished. It will lead you to consider if you’re consumed with the shoulda-coulda-wouldas of life or enjoying what you have with a heart of gratitude.

With its relatable characters and satisfying ending, I give Into the Light my highest recommendation. Download this one today!

Enjoy!

~~~

Synopsis:

Max Paddington refuses to go into the light until he finds his killer. This presents a dilemma, since Max is even less competent as a spirit than he was as a live person. No one sees or hears him and he can’t manage to get anywhere or do anything on his own.

Joe Cavelli is a private investigator, living an ordinary life. Then one day he walks across a parking lot, gets yelled at by a ghost, and his life only gets stranger from there.

Max and Joe team up to find Max’s killer. In the process, they form an unlikely friendship and change each other’s lives in ways they never expected.

~~~

Book Details:

Genre: Paranormal Suspense
Published by: Indie
Publication Date: July 14th 2011
Number of Pages: 250
ISBN: 146364020X (ISBN13: 9781463640200)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Audible

~~~

ENTER TO WIN!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Darcia Helle. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on February 1, 2019 and runs through March 1, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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#BookTour “Into the Light” Darcia Helle

Synopsis:

Into the Light by Darcia Helle

Max Paddington refuses to go into the light until he finds his killer. This presents a dilemma, since Max is even less competent as a spirit than he was as a live person. No one sees or hears him and he can’t manage to get anywhere or do anything on his own.

Joe Cavelli is a private investigator, living an ordinary life. Then one day he walks across a parking lot, gets yelled at by a ghost, and his life only gets stranger from there.

Max and Joe team up to find Max’s killer. In the process, they form an unlikely friendship and change each other’s lives in ways they never expected.

~~~

Book Details:

Genre: Paranormal Suspense
Published by: Indie
Publication Date: July 14th 2011
Number of Pages: 250
ISBN: 146364020X (ISBN13: 9781463640200)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Audible

~~~

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1Divorce. She slid the word across the table like it was part of his breakfast. Here’s your toast and coffee and I want a divorce.

Max Paddington stared into his wife’s clear brown eyes and said the only thing that came to mind. “What?”

“I want a divorce,” Rachel repeated.

At least she’d left out the toast and coffee bit. Divorce hadn’t been a side order, after all. “Are you still mad about the golf clubs?” he asked. “I’ll take them back if it’s that big of a deal.”

“Max…”

Rachel said his name as if it left a sour taste on her tongue. Max swiped a hand through his damp hair. He’d been awake less than a half hour and already his day had turned to shit. Rachel, his wife of fourteen years—no, it was fifteen now—stood in front of him with her arms folded over her breasts. She wore a black camisole, pantyhose, and three-inch heels. And he was supposed to take her seriously?

“Rach,” he said. “You want to get divorced over golf clubs?”

“It’s not the golf clubs, Max.”

“Well, what the hell?”

“I need to finish getting dressed or I’ll be late for work.”

“So be late! You can’t tell me you want a divorce, like you’re telling me the weather for the day, then walk out the door.”

“I can’t be late today.”

“Or what? The world will implode because you don’t serve your boss’s coffee on time?”

Rachel glared. “I do not serve my boss coffee. I only did that for you and I won’t be doing it anymore.”

“I’m sorry, okay?” Max pushed his coffee mug aside, the object having suddenly become an obstacle between them. “I didn’t mean that. It’s just that you dumped this bombshell on me and you won’t even talk to me about it.”

“I don’t understand why you’re so surprised.”

“What? I should have been expecting a divorce with my breakfast?”

“Think about it, Max.”

With that, she turned and strode from the room. He watched her ass, naked beneath the pantyhose. Divorce. What the hell?

~ ~ ~

Max took his miserable attitude to work at the local Publix, where he’d been assistant manager for nearly five years. Before that, he’d been the assistant manager at Winn-Dixie. Always the assistant. Never the boss. And now his wife wanted a divorce because he’d bought expensive golf clubs. How had he managed to earn such a low rank in life?

He took his misery out on the new stock boy, a skinny sixteen-year-old with pockmarked skin and the grace of a five-thousand-pound elephant. The kid was close to tears by the time Dan, the manager, caught wind of the bad karma in the air. Max muttered an apology to his boss, said he was having a bad day, and wandered out to the stockroom. While sorting through overstock, he knocked an open case of olives onto the floor. The green ones in the glass jars. Four of the jars shattered. Little green eyeballs rolled in a puddle around his feet. One of the stockers helped him clean the mess with only a minimal of razzing.

Max hid his embarrassment behind a gruff attitude, then ducked into his office. He poured himself a cup of coffee and promptly spilled some on his tie. Next, he slipped on a newly waxed section of floor and did a fancy skid that landed him on his ass in the middle of the aisle. After that, he gave up on even pretending to work and managed to steer clear of everyone until quitting time.

He cursed his Honda Civic for not being a Mercedes, then cursed the traffic for getting in his way. His house mocked him with its dark silence. The coffeemaker mocked him from its place on the counter. Would you like a divorce with your morning coffee? A sweep of his arm sent the machine and its glass carafe sailing across the room. Leftover coffee exploded with the glass.

Was Rachel even coming home? Max watched the coffee form a river between the floor tiles. He cursed at the mess on the floor and the mess that was his life. Think about it, she’d told him. As if he could think about anything else!

He grabbed his keys and slammed out the door. Stupid to sit around sulking on the off chance that Rachel would come home soon. She was probably humping her boss on his fancy desk in his cavernous office. Damn lawyers. If the guy wasn’t overweight and bald, that thought would bother him a lot more.

Max brought his attitude to Chili’s, where he ate a burger and drank two large Cokes. Rather than one of the cute waitresses, he got stuck with a twenty-something waiter with a hundred-watt smile and perfect hair. The kind of guy who got threesomes on a regular basis. The kid’s name was Carlos and Max hated him on sight.

The noise level in the place had Max chewing on the edge of his glass. An entire building full of couples and families, all talking to each other, smiling and happy. He sat alone, being waited on by the pinup boy for Playgirl, looking like the true loser he’d become.

Would you like a divorce with your order?

Max left Carlos what was likely the worst tip the kid had ever received and stomped back out to his car. He’d been forced to park in the bank’s lot next door. That should have been a sign for him to stay out of the place. The food, liquor, noise and Carlos’s perfect white teeth only managed to further sour his mood.

Maybe Rachel would be home by now and be willing to talk. As he yanked his door open, it occurred to him that he should have gotten her some food. What if she hadn’t been avoiding him and had only worked late? What if she was waiting for him now, in their kitchen with the glass and the coffee river?

He spotted someone standing in the shadows, twenty feet from his car. A thin man, maybe a woman. Couldn’t tell with that stupid ball cap pulled low, half hidden behind the palm trees where no lights fell. Why the hell was the guy standing there in the dark? That was the thought Max had when the bullet ripped through his left eye, tore through his brain, and exploded out the back of his skull.

***

Excerpt from Into the Light by Darcia Helle. Copyright © 2019 by Darcia Helle. Reproduced with permission from Darcia Helle. All rights reserved.

 

Darcia HelleAuthor Bio:

Darcia Helle is a Massachusetts native, who escaped the New England winters to write in the Florida sunshine. She lives with her husband in a home full of spoiled rescue animals and an occasional stray lizard. She writes because the characters trespassing through her mind leave her no alternative.

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darciahelle.com, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

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