Thursday, June 25, 2009

Starting Over

I have decided that it is really time to get my butt in gear and begin really writing again. I don't know how often I'll post but I'm hoping to write about my journey from unpublished to well, hopefully published novelist!

Currently you can find me writing at:

Two Kids plus Trips!

Tightwads with Triplets

and as a contributor at Multiple Bliss on Blissfully Domestic

Here I plan just to write about writing :) Currently I am working through one of my favorite writing books: First Draft in 30 Days

I haven't gotten very far - right now I'm just working on the character portion but I hope by recording my progress and writing thoughts here that I will get myself in gear!

My main character is Ashley Parks a Forensic Psychologist who counseled abused and traumatized children. She preps child witnesses before they testify. In this series she interviews children who have witnessed murders and then through her expertise helps to solve the cases.

I think she is an interesting and fun character and I can't wait to see how the story develops.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Repay No Evil Chapter 2

“Did anyone touch the body?” Detective Christopher Bailey set foot onto the front lawn of Sarah Markus’ home. The grass obviously needed trimming, the trees obviously needed pruning. Shingles on the front of the house were in desperate need of paint. Detective Bailey counted no less then twenty cracks in the sidewalk as he made his way carefully to the front door.
“The officers claim no one has touched the scene. The ME is on his way. We’re waiting for you.” Isabelle’s heels clicked along the same pavement Bailey walked. Her black hair was pulled back in a pony tail as it always was. Somehow it managed to shine in the sun. Bailey couldn’t figure that out. What did women do to their hair anyway?
“Do you believe them?”
“I do, Bailey. Why do you always ask that?”
“Because if I don’t then I won’t know for sure if it’s true. And you never know when they’ve pulled a rookie cop to rope off my crime scene.” Bailey waved his arm around the neighborhood. “You see that? We already have a crowd and my tape isn’t back far enough.”
Isabelle rolled her eyes. “The tape is never far enough back for you. If you had it your way you’d rope off the entire neighborhood.”
“Keep away the onlookers.” Bailey flashed his badge to the officer guarding the door of the Markus home. Guarding wasn’t the right word. The man was just standing there glancing at badges. Bailey would bet the Easter Bunny could walk by this man unnoticed. But it didn’t matter. There was a second officer standing outside the perimeter tape keeping a record of everyone who entered and exited the crime scene. This officer was just a second measure. Suspects were often known to return to the scene of their crimes and who’s to say that one of them didn’t try to slip in through the front door. Bailey was a man of complete order. That and covering his ample backside. No defense attorney was going to be able to question his police work. Especially not on this case. If there was any chance that Solomon had struck again Bailey wasn’t going to leave one stone unturned, one hair out of place, one shred of doubt in a jury’s mind that they had their man. And they would have their man.
But when was the question.
Bailey slipped on a pair of paper booties over his black dress shoes and stepped through the doorway of the home. The inside was more kept then the outside with maple wood floors and area rugs everywhere. Like many homes in Northern Virginia there was a living room on Bailey’s left and a dining room on his right, each room contained its own area rug as did the hallway he was standing in. A carpeted stairway led upward in front of him. A second hallway led away from the foyer on his left and a third hallway was on his right. Bailey assumed one led to the kitchen and the other to a home office or small bathroom. Architecture in this area didn’t vary by much.
“Where was she found?” Bailey asked a small, balding Asian man as he entered into the foyer of the home. The Asian man wore a black vest with yellow stripes. When he turned Bailey could read the yellow words on the back, “Crime Scene Investigation”.
“She was found upstairs in the master bedroom same as the others.”
“Were you at any of the other crime scenes, CSI…?” Bailey did not know the man’s name so he couldn’t have been at a previous crime scene. Bailey would not forget a thing like that.
“CSI Phong, sir and no, I was not at the other scenes. I was transferred here a month ago.” The man’s heavy accent laced his words but Phong spoke perfect English and Bailey had found no immediate reason not to trust him.
“After you then.” Bailey motioned for Phong to lead them up the stairs and Phong scurried to obey.
“No one has touched anything since the medical examiner has yet to arrive, sir. This is just as we found her.”
“Who found her?” Bailey said as his feet hit the plush carpet that defined the master bedroom. The homeowners must have upgraded from the standard hallway carpet to the more padded master bedroom.
“I don’t know.” Beads of sweat formed on Phong’s brow. Bailey looked down on the small man who nervously pushed his eyeglasses closer to his face.
“Then how did we know there was a body in here to be found?”
“We got an anonymous call saying we could find the body here.” It was not Phong speaking. Bailey looked across the bedroom until his eyes landed on Captain Jackson Scranton. “Officers responded to the call and receiving no answer they entered the home.”
“They entered the home? Without a warrant?”
“It was possible that the woman was still alive and in need of rescue.” Jackson stared down Bailey almost daring him to answer.
Bailey was not intimidated. “No, it wasn’t. He makes sure his victims are dead before he leaves. There is no room for doubt. He called it in. He wanted us to find her. If your men messed with anything Captain…” Detective Bailey looked at the young woman laying on the bed. Her body was contorted while her eyes stared at the ceiling. They were open. He would not have shut them. Her arm hung over the side of the bed, blood stained her forearm and her hand. A pool of blood stained the otherwise perfect carpet. Sarah Markus was fully clothed but Bailey knew she had been redressed. Her killer took everything from her. Physically, emotionally, sexually. He left nothing out.
“My officers didn’t know that at the time. They entered the premises and as they were clearing the premises they came upon this. They called it in immediately, they touched nothing. They called me, I called you.” Jackson turned his steel blue eyes from Bailey to the corpse. “You think it’s him?”
“I just got here. I haven’t examined the body…”
“But do you think it’s him?”
“Probably.” Bailey stepped closer to the body watching his step as he went. Every inch of this room was potential evidence and Bailey was not about to ruin it. Bailey pulled latex gloves out of his back pocket and pointed towards the girl’s neck. “Here. The incision is deep but not deep enough to kill. Same pool of blood next to the body. I’d bet she bled out just like the others.” Bailey leaned in closer. Something glinted in the light. Small traces on the girl’s lips reflected the sun coming in through the master bedroom window from the other side of the room. Some sort of film.
Bailey stood and looked at Isabelle, “There’s film on her lips, same as the others.”
“What does that mean?” Jackson couldn’t help but insert himself in the investigation. The man was here for one reason only, the media, the publicity. News reporters were already camped on the front lawn. Darn journalists and their police scanners. But Bailey was sure Jackson didn’t mind. If Jackson could be commended for solving this case he could easily be selected to run for public office.
“We’re not sure. We’ve found it on the last three girls. The techs have identified it as wax paper but we don’t know what it means. Clearly he isn’t suffocating them.” Isabelle answered Jackson’s question.
“What about DNA?” Jackson asked.
Bailey stood and looked at Jackson again. “This isn’t like TV, Jackson, there was no DNA on the wax paper left behind on two of the victims that did not belong to the victim herself. On the third there was so little that the only information we could gather was that our perp is male but guess what? We already knew that.”
“Fine, I get it. What else do you know?”
Bailey glanced at Isabelle. He didn’t have time to brief another officer, even if he was a Captain, on an ongoing investigation. At this rate his superiors were considering bringing in the FBI. Bailey was working hard to keep them out of it. This didn’t need to go federal.
“Sir, why don’t we step outside and I’ll fill you in. Let’s give Detective Bailey some space to work.” Isabelle motioned for the door silently requesting the Captain to follow. Jackson followed Isabelle into the hallway. Despite his need for attention, Bailey was certain Captain Scranton wanted these murders solved as much as anyone else. No one in law enforcement wanted a serial killer on their doorstep.
Bailey turned his attention back to Sarah’s body. He had just moments before the medical examiner arrived. A few moments with Sarah before she was poked, prodded, examined and then carted away to a cold hole in a wall. It wasn’t the place for a beautiful girl to end up.
“How many more are you going to take Solomon?” The answer scared Bailey to his core. An avid believer he knew the Old Testament he knew who Solomon was. He knew how many wives and concubines the Biblical Solomon had. At the rate this Solomon, or the Beltway Killer as the media had dubbed him, was going he may very well catch up.
Bailey could not touch the body but he could search the scenes before he called the technicians into process it. Bailey scanned the room, nothing caught his eye. It had never been in the same place twice but it was never in plain view. Bailey squatted down next to the bed to scan the floor.
“Did you find it yet?” Bailey recognized Isabelle’s voice.
“No. Maybe when the ME gets here and he moves the body.”
“He’s here, are you ready for him to examine the body?”
“I need some photos of the Sarah and then he can roll her. The note could be under the body.” Bailey stood and looked down at Sarah. Why her? After three other victims they had yet to come up with a connection between them. Each one looked different, lived differently, two were married, two were not, only one had kids. What did he see?
“I found it.”
Bailey followed Isabelle’s voice to the master bedroom window. With a finger she pulled the curtain back. A piece of paper stuck to the window. From where he stood Bailey couldn’t read it but there was no mistaking Solomon’s blood red signature on the bottom of his note. “What does it say?”
“It’s another verse. Says it’s from Proverbs 12:4. ‘An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones’….” Isabelle’s voice trailed off at the end of the verse.
“Anything else?”
“This time he added something…”
“Well, what is it?”
“He’s added, ‘This one’s for you Detective Bailey.’”

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Repay No Evil Chapter 1

****Author's note - I've decided to change some things in this novel so what was true in the first one may not be in this one. Partly because I want Ashley's character to be a deeper character. I haven't decided yet whether or not this would become the first novel in the series or whether the previous one would. If it is this one then Nate and Ashley's relationship would start completely over. Just warning so no one is confused. Take this one as though the other one hadn't been written :) If you haven't read that one this will be easy!****

Ashley’s feet hit the pavement. One foot in front of the other. One more time around the neighborhood. Her legs were burning, the air was beginning to sting her lungs but she pushed harder. There was no one running against her. No one chasing her, at least not now, but still she ran. Her ponytail swished against her neck while sweat dripped down the side of her face. She wiped it away with the back of her hand. Music drummed in her ears through her IPod.
As she turned the corner onto her street, her house came into view. She should stop. Ashley had lost track of how long she’d been running but it didn’t matter. It could never be long enough.
“Ashley!” Even through her ear pieces she could hear her name. She stopped short and looked around. “Ashley!” With one hand Ashley pulled the headphones out of her ear.
Turning in a circle, Ashley searched the street but saw no one. Was it her imagination? Ashley stood still and waited.
“Ashley, over here!” Ashley followed the voice to her own driveway where her eyes finally landed on Ella Kingsbrook, her new good friend.
“What is it?” Ashley concentrated on slowing her breathing as she approached the front gate of her house.
“There’s been another murder.” Ella’s blue eyes were puffy and red. Black tear tracks ran down her face. Strands of wavy blonde hair fell in her face and she made no attempt to push them away. Something definitely was wrong.
“What? Where?” Ashley maintained eye contact with Ella while leaning forward to place her hands on her knees and catch her breath.
“I just heard it on the news. They found another girl. Another girl, Ashley. He’s killed again, I know it’s him.”
Ashley opened her front gate and made her way up the sidewalk to her front porch. She stopped short when she noticed two small kids sitting on her stairs. “Hi Drew, Paige.”
“Hi Miss Ashley.” Paige smiled at Ashley but Drew looked away. After six months of friendship with Ella, Drew had yet to say a word to her.
“Are you babysitting again?” Ashley bit her lip to keep the irritation out of her voice. Ella was an interior designer not a babysitter.
“You know I want to. It’s for Amy.”
“What about Wes?”
“He’s a friend too.”
“He’s going off the deep end, Ell.”
“His wife was murdered not even a year ago, what would you have me do?”
Ashley turned back to Ella and held her hands up in surrender. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to fight you. I just want to know if Wes knows how good he has it.”
Ella forced a smile, “He’d have it better if his wife hadn’t been murdered by a crazed killer and I’m telling you Ashley he’s killed again. This is the fourth girl in not even a year. What are the police doing?”
“Come on in, Ell, let’s talk about it while the kids play a game or watch a video.”
“Yea, yea, you’re right, I’m not thinking straight.” Finally Ella pushed the hair out of her face and wiped the tears with her fingers. “Come on Drew, Paige, lets get inside, Miss Ashley will let you watch a video.”
“Oh yea!” Paige jumped to her feet and ran up the remaining three stairs to the front porch. Drew slowly pushed himself up and followed his sister to the front door. Each time Ashley saw Drew she became more convinced that he had seen something. Whether he had seen his mother’s murderer was unclear and Ashley was having a hard time getting him to open up despite her best efforts.
When Drew and Paige were sitting on the couch watching Dora, Ashley poured Ella some iced tea and then poured herself some Gatorade to rehydrate her body. It was early June in Virginia, technically still spring, yet the temperature was already above 90. Ella and Ashley sat at Ashley’s round kitchen table. Ella had suggested the table for the morning room and Ashley had since enjoyed drinking her energy shakes and coffee at it and looking at the open land behind her house.
“It’s him, Ashley, I know it is.”
“You’ve said that. What makes you so sure?”
“I just heard they’ve found another body. It was another female in a suburban home. Her husband found her when he got home from his business trip.”
“But Ella, a lot of women die like that. It could have been anything.” Ashley took a sip of her Gatorade. She didn’t really like the taste of it but it was better for her then water after such a hard run.
“No, the police said they suspected foul play. One of the reporters asked if this could be the work of a serial killer. They asked if could be Solomon and I knew it was.”
“Did the police say it was?”
“No, they didn’t say anything. Didn’t say if there was a note or not.”
“Then maybe you shouldn’t get too worked up over it. Maybe it’s unrelated. The press likes to make a story out of anything and they could have been blowing things out of proportion.”
Ella ran her hands over her hair to smooth it into place. Wavy strands still managed to escape despite her best efforts. Ella’s face was more red then usual and it made her freckles stand out all the more. Ella was a small girl, at least six inches shorter then Ashley but she was just as thin. She wore rings on most of her fingers except for her ring finger on her left hand. She was not married and did not want to give the wrong impression. Ella had been searching for Mr. Right for a long time. Ashley wanted to tell her not to bother. The pain of losing a loved one was greater then not having them to love in the first place. There were many days Ashley wished she had never fallen in love with Donnie.
“I know you think that makes sense but I just know. Amy’s killer has struck again. He’s not going to stop. Why won’t the police get the FBI involved?”
“The FBI has to be invited into a case. And all of these murders have happened in different jurisdictions. The police can be slow moving at times. If this had been a child the FBI would have been there from day one but these are grown women and they’ve had good suspects.”
Ella grunted, “Wes shouldn’t be a suspect.”
“But he makes sense, Ell. He’s close to the first victim and serial killers like to start close to home. And the police always question the spouse.” Ashley paused and waited for Ella to reply. Instead Ella just sat quietly avoiding eye contact. “What has you more worried that Amy’s killer has killed again or that Wes is the one behind them all?”
Ella looked up at Ashley, “I don’t know. I can’t imagine Wes doing anything like that. He’s such a sweet guy. He’s good with the kids.”
“But he gets frustrated. He works long hours; he isn’t always there for them. Just like he wasn’t there for Amy.”
“He’s coping the best way he knows how.” Ella once again looked away from Ashley. She looked like she was working up the nerve for something though Ashley had no idea what. They had been friends for six months. Ella was the first person to introduce herself to Ashley when Ashley moved into the neighborhood. Even though Ella didn’t actually live in the neighborhood she was around all the time to help Wes with the kids. After her best friend’s murder, Ella had been looking for some female companionship. Apparently she felt that Ashley fit the bill. Ashley had not been looking for friends of any sort yet Ella continued to make herself available. After a while Ashley stopped fighting the invitations and found herself enjoying her time with Ella. But today was different. Today there was a strain that she couldn’t put her finger on.
“What is it Ella?”
“What if you talked to Drew again? He didn’t open up before but maybe he will now.”
“If Wes asks me too I can. You’re not his legal guardian.”
“Can’t you just talk to him casual like. He’s here now, maybe he’ll say something.”
“Ell, you know I’d love to get him to talk to me but this isn’t the place. If the court appointed me to look into his case then I would. If his father asks me as a friend I would but I can’t just interrogate a six-year old boy. He’s been through something extremely traumatic. He was only five at the time of his mother’s murder. Even if he saw something he may not remember.”
“But you’re trained to talk to kids.”
“I am but it doesn’t work like that. I can’t make him talk if he doesn’t want to.” Ashley gripped her Gatorade tighter and hoped that Ella would drop the subject. She liked to keep her job as a Forensic Psychologist separate from her personal life. She had already talked to Drew about the murder shortly after meeting Wes and Ella but Drew had not opened up about anything and Ashley was not going to push the issue with him. The boy needed counseling and that wasn’t Ashley’s job. The bulk of her work was spent interviewing children who had been abused by their parents and children involved with custody cases after which she would inform the courts what the best course of action would be for the child’s well-being. Very occasionally she was called in to talk to a child witness in a major case. She had been cleared to work with the FBI but had yet to be called as a consultant.
Ella sipped her ice tea and nodded at Ashley. “I know you can’t make him. I just want him to talk so badly. I swear he saw the man that did it and it’s locked in his brain of his. I just wish it would come out.”
Ashley placed her hand over Ella’s wrist. It was the friendly thing to do after all even if the physical contact made her cringe. “If he did see something then in time it will come out. I can promise you that.”
Ella nodded. The strange look of hesitancy remained on her face. Ashley said nothing. If Ella wanted to ask something she would. Sometimes the best way to get information was to say nothing at all. Finally, Ella opened her mouth to speak, “Can I ask you one more thing?”
“Sure Ell, what is it?” Ashley swallowed another sip of Gatorade hoping her face didn’t show that she meant the opposite.
“Would you call Nate? Would you ask him to get involved?”
Ashley almost spit out her Gatorade. In a moment of weakness Ashley had shared about Nate Zimmerman. Now Ashley regretted that moment even more. But Ella was right. If Solomon had indeed struck again then the FBI would need to get involved. And then Nate would once again be involved in her life. Ashley was pretty sure that thought scared her more then a serial killer on the loose who liked to prey on women in their homes.

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Prologue

Blood dripped off her fingers and splattered on the floor in a small pool. He smiled as the pool grew bigger.
Her throat gurgled and her eyes bore into him. He could read them, of course. He knew they wanted help, but he wasn’t going to give any.
She coughed and blood sprayed out of her neck. It would eventually kill her but it would take a while, the cut wasn’t deep enough to kill her instantly. He was here to wait.
“Soon, my love, you will be my wife.” He smiled at her but she did not smile back. Instead she coughed again until she seized and couldn’t breathe. The trickle of blood on her arm ran faster to the floor until she laid her head on the pillow and slowed her breathing. He watched from his perch at the end of the bed as her eyes searched the ceiling.
Whether she was looking towards heaven or for help he could not tell. He licked his lips and tingled with anticipation. It was almost here. Almost the end. This was his favorite part, watching them go. Watching them realize that there was no escape, there was no help. Sometimes they accepted it and went willingly. Other times they fought till the end. Those were his favorite.
But he couldn’t really have a favorite.
They were all his wives. All a part of him.
His hands shook. His fingers touched the wax paper. He wished it didn’t have to be this way. Wished he didn’t need the paper in between them but he couldn’t take any chances.
Some people wanted attention, they wanted to be caught. But not him. He loved these women. Loved seeing their beauty as they died. Loved having this last moment with them. A moment no one else could have. Without this where would he be?
No, there would be no evidence at all. No evidence of their union or of the final kiss. He fingered the wax paper again. He smiled. That would be his alone.
Finally she was still; her coughing and spurted stopped. Her chest still heaved slowly in and out. He stood from his chair, still fingering the wax paper. He walked beside her and looked down at her. Her eyes grew wide as she once again struggled for breath but this time she would find none.
He placed the wax paper over her nose and her mouth. He grabbed both wrists with one hand while holding the paper in place in the other. She made little attempts to struggle. He leaned in and kissed her. With his hand over her nose and his mouth over her mouth she would be unable to breath. Death would come quickly and he would taste it. He would breath in her last and she would be his forever.
She was weak. Her body thrashed only briefly and then lay still. Her chest no longer moved. Her eyes were now glassy and had nothing to search for. He stared at her for a long time. This moment was bittersweet. The end had come but it had been over too quickly. He fingered the wax paper again. This time it was red from her lipstick.
It was time to go.
He didn’t want to leave her but he knew she couldn’t come with him. He didn’t want the cumbersome task of disposing of her body. There was too much evidence that could be transferred, too many clues to leave behind. No, this way was better. They could find her and know that they would no longer have her. That was more enjoyable for him. If they were to have to search for her, they would have hope. He didn’t want them to have hope.
She was his wife now.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Writing Resolutions

I can't believe it's been months since I've posted any writing here! I apologize for that - it has been a very busy few months - 3 consignment sales in October, 4 birthdays in November and then, of course, Christmas.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and a very blessed New Year!

Once again my writing resolutions begin with:

1. Write a complete novel in 2009 - I had success in 2008 so I plan to continue for 2009. Be prepared - things are going to be very different and some of what was in the last novel may be re-written in the new novel. Just forewarning :)

2. Attend another writing conference. I had great success when I went in August and I am really hoping to go again - this time in Colorado at the American Christian Fiction Writer's Conference - all fiction - right up my alley.

3. Get published. I've had 2 articles published but I'd really like to work on more. I'm not tying myself down to a proposal a week or anything but I do plan to make the effort to get it done.

Pray for me in all this and thanks for stopping back by - I'm sorry it's been a while but I should have the new prologue and first chapter up soon. Seriously...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Chapter 1 Repay No Evil

I apologize for the delay - it has been a very busy week! I hope to have the second Chapter 1 in the next few days but forgive me if I don't :)

Ashley Parks’ feet hit the pavement. One foot in front of the other. Steadily moving forward. Her chestnut brown hair pulled back into a ponytail, the bottom of the tail swishing at her neck. She wiped the sweat off her forehead. It was a warm day for spring and it made Ashley long for the warmth of summer. It had been a mild winter for Virginia and for that Ashley had been grateful.
“Mama! Mama!” The screams came out of nowhere.
Ashley stopped mid-run and looked around. The neighborhood was quite. Large brick homes dotted the landscape to her left. To her right were trees waiting to be cut down and developed but no small children.
Breathing heavily, Ashley turned in circles to scan the area but came up empty. No screaming children anywhere. After a few more circles Ashley resumed her run. She ran by houses with brick fronts and houses with siding fronts. Some houses had porches and some did not. While the houses were not completely uniform Ashley knew they all came from the same builder therefore every third or fourth house was the same with a few minor exceptions.
Ashley had been in and around the neighborhood three times already. She felt most comfortable running close to home but needed the work out only five miles could give her. It was still growing on her. The idea that a suburb was now her home. The idea that she had moved from Maryland to Virginia and was living in a house, a real house. Currently it was by herself but she hoped that soon she would get to add a few more family members.
“Mama! Mama, help! Help Mama!”
Ashley stopped short.
The screams seemed so real but yet somehow they were only coming from her head. She scanned the area again. This time there were only houses, no trees but still no people. Where was everybody anyway? Ashley checked her watch. It was approaching mid-morning, the stay-at-home moms should have been out in their yards by now but yet there was no one.
Scanning the area and still finding nothing Ashley continued with her run. It had to be in her head. It had to be a reminder of the past. Though her son had not been old enough to talk when he died he still screamed for help in her dreams. Maybe her nightmares were haunting her during the day.
For once she was trying to find a way to move on with her life. Was it possible that she was wrong? Should she not try to leave Donnie and Aidan in the past? It has been twelve years since her husband and son were murdered on their front lawn. It had been six months since Ashley had decided to move on with her life and to move on with another man.
Nate Zimmerman was nothing like Donnie Parks. While they were almost equal in height at six feet the similarities ended there. Donnie had been an IT guy into computers and the internet and making money in business. He was low-key and mild-mannered. His blonde hair had begun receding at an early age but it hadn’t bothered Ashley. It had given Donnie a more mature look.
On the other hand, Nate looked more like a football player with broad shoulders, thick arms and muscular legs. His brown hair was thick and always well groomed. Ashley knew Nate kept it cut short because it would curl if it grew too long. His blue eyes were inviting but could also be cold when he was on a serious case. Nate was a Special Agent for the FBI and it had only been six months since she had seen how cold those eyes could be.
“Help Mama! Mama!”
No, she couldn’t be imaging things. She had heard something. And it didn’t sound like Aidan. No, this voice was older.
Breathless, Ashley paused her running again and leaned over with her hands on her knees. She took deep, slow breaths to force herself not to pant. In, out. In, out. With her breathing under control Ashley stood to look around again.
Expecting nothing she was surprised to see a small boy sitting across the street from where she stood. But he didn’t appear distressed. Instead he sat on the front porch of what Ashley assumed to be his home. He wore a red baseball cap with nothing written across the front. A matching red long-sleeved tee read “Cardinals” across the front. It looked like a baseball tee. His gray sweatpants were covered in mud mostly around the knees. His white socks were also covered in mud. He wore no shoes. Ashley couldn’t see his face.
“It’s all in my head,” Ashley whispered to herself. She was once again projecting her past on to real life situations. This boy was fine.
But when he looked up Ashley wasn’t so sure he was fine after all.
Tears streaked down his face forming tracks in the mud that was caked there. Had the boy bathed in mud?
Ashley considered continuing her jog home but thought better of it. Maybe this little boy was calling her. Seemed strange but stranger things had happened. Ashley walked across the street and approached the boy slowly. While most homes in the area had fences in the back almost none of them had any in the front. Ashley easily walked up the driveway to a large house similar to hers except this one had a brick front and the front porch extended from the garage, around the front and partway down the back. The boy sat on the top porch step.
“Hey, buddy, you okay?”
The boy looked up at Ashley and now she could see his very large brown eyes. They widened as he looked at her but he said nothing. He was a cute kid, probably around six or seven. He had a small nose and ears that were a little large for his head. Small, brown tufts stuck out from under his ball cap.
“I saw you sitting here and I thought I would come and say hi. I just moved into the neighborhood and I haven’t really made any friends.”
Still no response. The boy looked back down at the ground.
“Are you okay? You seem sad.” As Ashley knelt down to get at his eye level the front door opened. A woman not much shorter then Ashley stepped through the door. Her brown hair was cut in a bob to just below her chin. Blonde streaks were layered with red and Ashley knew it was a professional job. Her nails were also recently manicured. She wore a swing top and jeans and the outfit had a very slimming effect. Her blue eyes registered shock at the sight of Ashley on her front lawn.
“Can I help you?” The woman asked revealing perfectly white teeth though slightly crooked in the front.
“I’m sorry, I was jogging and came over to introduce myself,” Ashley said. The shocked look turned to disbelief and confusion. “I’m sorry; I’m new to the neighborhood. Just moved in around the corner. This little guy looked sad so I came over to check on him.” Ashley flashed her widest smile hoping to prove her sincerity.
The woman looked down at the boy. “Drew, why don’t you go inside and find your sister. I’ll be in shortly.” Drew glanced up at Ashley, then back at the ground before slowly standing and walking towards the house. The woman placed her hands on Drew’s shoulders and directed him inside. Ashley expected the woman to follow Drew inside but instead she shut the front door and stepped closer to Ashley.
“I don’t know who you are or why you are here but we have been through enough and we don’t need strangers snooping around.”
“I’m…I’m sorry, what?”
“I assume you are a reporter.”
“No. No, I’m actually a Forensic Psychologist…”
“And you’re here to get information out of Drew?” The woman’s voice as accusatory. Ashley took a slow, deep breath and prayed for guidance. Though she’d only been praying for a few months it was becoming more natural in all situations.
“No, I’m not here for information. I was running across the street and I thought I heard someone calling me. When I stopped I saw the boy, um Drew, and I came over to talk to him. In my practice I work with children so it seemed natural to come and talk with him. Is he okay?”
The woman sighed then looked Ashley up and down as if to determine whether or not she was telling the truth. Finally she must have believed Ashley because she said, “His mother was murdered here six months ago. I’m a friend of the family. I’ve been helping out when I can. We get reporters calling all the time. Some have tried to be friendly to get information.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know that. My name is Ashley Parks and really, I just moved in around the corner. Off of Lariet Lane.”
“I’m sorry to be rude. I’m Ellie Johnson.” Ellie extended her hand and Ashley reached out to shake it.
“It’s fine. I completely understand. Is Drew okay?”
“He and his sister Laney were here the night of the murder. We think one of them may have seen the murderer but so far they haven’t said anything. In fact, Drew hasn’t spoken a word since the night of the murder.”
“Would you let me talk with him?”
Ellie again looked at Ashley slowly. Not that Ashley could blame her. She would’ve become suspicious in her situation as well.
Ashley continued, “I’m a Forensic Psychologist which means I interview children for the courts…”
“Not serial killers?”
Ashley smiled. “I get that a lot. No, I work solely with children; child witnesses, abuse victims and in custody cases. I may be able to help.”
“Really? I have been praying for someone to help for months. A maniac is on the loose. Who knows when he may strike again?”
“Why would you say that?”
“The brutality of the murder. I just can’t believe that this is the only time this man has murdered.” Ellie shrugged and Ashley let the comment go but she would certainly be following up with Nate.
“Then maybe I’m the answer to your prayers.” Maybe it wasn’t Drew that called her. Maybe it was God getting her attention. And if that were the case then Ellie just might be right. Ashley could only pray she could be of help before any more women lost their lives.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Are You Ready For More?

Since I have actually acheived my goal from the beginning of the year I figured I should keep write on going. BUT I have two novels in mind (I have more then that but I'm debating between a particular two right now) so the fun part is that you, the readers get to choose!

1. The second novel in the Ashley Parks series: Repay No Evil


2. A completely different and unrelated novel.

That's all the detail you're getting right now. I'm including the prologue for Repay No Evil right now (some of you may have read this one but read again - it's going to be completely re-written) and I will include the first chapter later - hopefully tomorrow.

Then I will post the first chapter of the second novel and everyone can choose. I can't promise how quickly I'll get stuff up because I do HAVE to work on the completed novel to actually make attempts at publication but with the big kids in school and the babies napping I have a little more time so I will do my best (with your encouragement and occasional kick in the pants!)

Prologue: Repay No Evil

He was on top of her. Suffocating her. She couldn’t move. Couldn’t breathe. Who was he? How did he get in? What did he want?
The children! No, she didn’t hear any noise.
He pulled the pillow away from her face long enough for her to catch her breath. She could feel a burning in her arm. His knife had nicked her. He moved himself to the edge of the bed next to her. She could only see the silhouette of him in the darkness. For a moment that seemed like eternity the man didn’t move. He just stood there as though he needed to gather himself.
Thoughts raced through her mind. She had to get away. She knew if she didn’t this man would kill her. He laid his knife on the nightstand next to her. If she could get to it she might have a chance. She inched towards the knife but immediately the man was back on top of her preventing her escape. His gloved hands wrapped around her neck and squeezed. The bulk of his body rested on her abdomen. No air was getting in. Stars danced in front of her eyes and she feared it would be over. She kicked her legs in an attempt to push him away but the man only clamped down tighter.
Oh, God, how could this be happening? Her thoughts screamed in her head. Two small children lay just down the hall. They needed their mom. She squirmed her right arm out from under the man’s legs and began to claw at his face. His hands let go of her neck to grab her free arm. She gasped for a small amount of air.
He held her arm fast with his left hand and kneeled over her. With his right hand he unzipped his pants; the sound of the zipper made her want to vomit. This couldn’t be happening. She strained against him. It felt like her insides were being ripped out. Maybe this was all he wanted. Maybe then he would leave.
But he didn’t leave. He stood next to her, looking at her. He retrieved the knife from the nightstand and waved it in front of him. The moonlight reflected off of the steel but still she couldn’t make out his face. Something was familiar about him but she couldn’t figure out what.
“My husband will find you,” she said softly, the words grating on her raw throat. “Leave me alone now and I’ll make sure he doesn’t kill you.”
The man scoffed and slapped her across the face. Blood seeped into her mouth. She moved her hand to wipe it away. As she lifted her arm he drove the knife deep into her abdomen. He ripped it out again. The nausea that had threatened to surface came out onto the bed. The taste of blood and vomit mingled in her mouth. Pain shot through her body.
He attacked again from behind, driving the knife into her back while holding her shoulder with his hand. She arched back and screamed. He drew the knife out and she felt the blood gushing. She turned to fight him but was too weak to hold herself up.
As quickly as the man came he was gone.
She was still alive though just barely. The phone. It was just next to her on the nightstand. She forced herself to roll over towards the nightstand but she was too close to the side of the bed and fell off with a thud.
She froze.
Had he heard her? Would he come back? Couldn’t think about that. She had to reach the phone. But could she move?
She reached up to the nightstand with her right hand, her left arm holding the wound in her abdomen to try and stop the flow of blood. Touching the phone with her fingertips she knocked it off the nightstand and onto the floor.
“9-1-1. What is your emergency?” A woman’s voice answered her call.
“A man…stabbed me…at home…children here.” Slowly the words came out. So few words; so much she wanted to say.
“Ma’am, where are you?” The woman’s tone now matched her urgency.
“I’m dispatching paramedics and police now. Stay with me, ma’am. Help is on the way.”
“Love my kids…Love my husband.” The phone slipped from her hand and her head fell to the floor. She couldn’t move. Couldn’t breathe. “Oh, God…take me home. Save Wes…and the kids. I love them.”
They were Amy Donovan’s last words.