NO THROUGH ROAD: new book

Publish Date: March 14th, 2018

Wendi Radin wants to know how her famous husband died and she believes that a newspaper columnist can find the truth. William Fox has a past marked by one shining moment – he’s the one who found those kids when no one else could. His fame cannot protect him from falling in love with the alluring widow. The sex is amazing, but in the cold light of day, his doubts begin to haunt him. He has a decision to make, and that decision may see him lose everything he has worked for.

A Novelette by Terry R Barca

Published as an eBook only
Pre-orders available now.
iTunes iBooks
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/797828

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You’re the one who saved those kids

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He was different when he was dead, but while alive he was an idiot.
He needed money and of all the ways you can get some, legal and illegal, he chose to kidnap and hold to ransom a rural one teacher school — teacher and all. What a moron.
The minister for education volunteered to deliver the ransom — which took guts — no one considered him to be ‘just another politician’ after that. Before his phone went flat, THE KIDNAPPER didn’t turn up — couldn’t get the bus started — Miss Stephenson knew how to start the cantankerous machine, but she wasn’t about to help him. He got it going eventually, but by then the Minister and about a hundred well hidden, heavily armed police officers gave up on him and went home. THE KIDNAPPER didn’t have a plan B — didn’t have a phone charger either, so his phone died. He’d cut the school phone line — he probably saw that done on TV. With no way to contact the police, he panicked, not noticing the still functioning phone box outside the school.
He drove the bus towards the City until it ran out of fuel — parked it in a laneway and within an hour the area was awash with police. In the confusion, Miss Stephenson slipped away with five of the children. She would have gotten away with all of them but THE KIDNAPPER heard them, and she wisely left with the children she could save. He waived his rifle at her and the children, shouted at them, but didn’t fire. Miss Stephenson held her breath and didn’t look back.
The four kids I ‘saved’ were left behind. THE KIDNAPPER paced around the empty house and terrified the children before leaving by the back door when I banged on the front door — the rest has been well documented. That’s not strictly correct. You are one of the few people who know that I stumbled across the children.
Do you know how I pulled that off? The high point of my career? I was in the right place at the right time. I didn’t think they were there. I was banging on that door because someone had hemmed me in — parked so close that I couldn’t move my car. I was tired and pissed off, and I guess I sounded angry. The fuckwit must have thought I was the police and he legged it out the back door. When the front door came open, and that little face looked up at me and said, “Have you come to save us?” I just froze. I expected to get a shotgun pushed into my chest, but the kidnapper was gone. The kids were all scared and tired and grubby, and except for the boy who opened the door, they were very quiet.
I sat on the old vinyl couch with the kids and waited for the police to arrive. I’m not sure that the switchboard operator believed me when I rang it in. I left the front door open to show that we were in there and we were okay, but it didn’t stop the Special Response Squad from bursting in with the familiar sound of ‘Armed Police, get on the ground.’ I still have that fuckers knee print on my back.
They caught Stanley James Smith a few houses away, and I got a curt apology for being roughed up. ‘You know how it is Mr Fox. We can’t be too careful. Sorry about arresting you and all the rest.’
‘What’s your name again?’ I said.
‘Commander Wilson. I was in charge of the search.’ He put his hand out to shake mine — for the cameras.
‘Fuck you very much, Commander Wilson,’ was my reply — or words to that effect.
The Commander smiled at me and said, ‘Fair enough.’
We both produced our best smiles for the camera.
About a year later I won a Walkley Award for my series of articles on the Cameron Street Primary School kidnapping. The story stretched over four Saturday editions — about twenty thousand words and not once did I mention the kidnapper’s name — didn’t give the fucker what he wanted — fame.

The rest of the world needed a hero that week, and cynically, I cashed in on their need. I thought it would be good for my career. The truth of it weighed me down over time. It certainly did help my career, but it did nothing for my heart.
I interviewed Miss Stephenson for the series of articles I was writing. In a sane world, she would be the hero, but she made one mistake — she chose wisely and left with as many of the children as she was able — but not all.
THE KIDNAPPER walked into the well kept little one teacher country school on a bright Spring morning. Strangers are noticed quickly in rural communities, but although he was new to the area, THE KIDNAPPER didn’t raise suspicion. His appearance and demeanour made him look like any rural worker. His battered utility, just like a thousand others. Even the rifle he was carrying was not out of place in this environment.
People worry about their kids, but never in their wildest dreams would they expect them to be involved in a ransom attempt.
It didn’t take long for the press, of which I am one, to work out that Miss Stephenson was not going to sell newspapers beyond the usual five-day window — she wasn’t interested in being famous. “I was just doing my job. The parents entrust their children to my care, so I was doing my best to keep them safe and get them home to their parents.”
When I asked her how she kept the gunman from hurting any of the children she said, “I treated him like one of the children. I spoke to him firmly but gently and reminded him that people would not be happy if anything happened to the children.”
“Weren’t you frightened?” I asked.
“Yes, but I had a job to do, and if I showed fear, it was only going to escalate the situation.”
What a woman.
THE KIDNAPPER had a predictable background which was laid out in minute detail by his defence counsel at trial. His father beat him regularly, which caused some brain damage and he didn’t do well at school — which had nothing to do with his decision to hold an entire school to ransom, apparently. His defence team worked hard, but in the end, he was found guilty of kidnapping and a bunch of other stuff — all window dressing, the main charge was the big one. The sentence didn’t surprise anyone — life in prison, which meant that he would be out in about thirty years as long as the government of the day didn’t see the need to make some ‘hard on crime’ mileage and keep him inside.
In the end, it was all academic, as they say. THE KIDNAPPER got into a discussion with a big bloke who had kids — lots of them. The big bloke wasn’t allowed anywhere near his kids, for obvious reasons, but that did not stop him from striking a blow for parents everywhere. The resultant blow ended THE KIDNAPPER’s life after a few days in a coma.
His death was front page for a day, and my paper reran the series of articles I had written more than a year before and I became ‘the bloke who saved those kids’ all over again.
I never visited THE KIDNAPPER’s grave, and I never mentioned his name in print.
I don’t know where Miss Stephenson is these days although I believe that she got married and moved to a warmer climate. I’ll bet the children in her classroom will remember her and so will the parents.
Me too, if it comes to that.
She got her quiet life back, I got to be famous, and THE KIDNAPPER got to be dead — he was different when he was dead.

Bullet Hole: a SECRETS KEPT teaser

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Every time I arrive at Barry’s office, I notice something new.

I’d long since stopped asking him why his office is a table in the corner of the public bar at the Rising Sun Hotel in Richmond. “Convenient, centrally located with a well-stocked bar.” The well-stocked bar consisted of three different sized beer glasses with the vague possibility of a bottle of scotch, Most likely Black and White, and in recent times, “just in case one of these jokers brings his missus in here,” there is a bottle of Pimms.     

I’ve had all the necessary inoculations, but even so, I’ve never chanced my luck by having a drink at the bar.

“Get ya a drink girly?” was Barry’s opening line, as I arrived for our meeting. The neatly typed pages were folded into my handbag, and the public bar looked different. The familiar smells were the same — stale beer and a not unpleasant aroma of very old dust — a strong memory trigger from my childhood, fetching my dad from the pub so he could have his dinner — my private moments with the most important man in my life.

On certain days, you can taste the dust, but it is never visible. For visibility there would need to be sunlight and sunlight never penetrates this dingy room.

On this day, the room was bright — almost festive.

“What’s with the bright lights?” I said as I waved off Barry’s lethal offer of a drink.

“Boris and the staff are getting ready for the celebration. You need light to celebrate and to clean up a bit in order to celebrate,” said Barry with an air certainty.

“This place has staff?” I asked.

“You don’t think that Boris does everything on his own, do ya?” said Barry.

I glanced at Boris wiping the bar. He had one eye almost closed, and I resisted the urge to dig deeper into the complex running of the Public Bar at the Rising Sun Hotel.

“What’s the occasion, why the celebration?” I said.

“Ancient Ivan is getting out tomorrow. It’s going to be a hell of a welcome home party. Of course, most of Ivan’s contemporaries have carked it, but all the young ones will be there. Ivan’s a fuckin’ legend. He pretty much ran this town even after they banged him up. Tiny little bloke — knew everyone — had something on everyone, including me. Not a bloke to be messed with — fuckin’ legend,” said Barry with the sort of enthusiasm he reserved for attacking a beef roll with extra mustard.

“Be sure to give him my best wishes,” I said.

“Wouldn’t do any good. He doesn’t know who you are and let’s keep it that way, besides, the bugger’s deaf as,” said Barry.

“Jesus Barry, is that what I think it is?” I said. Our conversation had taken place with me in a standing position as I scanned the room for the signs of the aforementioned improvements. I’d given up due to lack of evidence and was about to take a seat at Barry’s table. I reached for a chair — the room was populated by a large collection of identical wooden chairs, all in various stages of decomposition. The chair I reached for had a bullet hole in the back of the seat — just about where a person’s heart would be. I’d assumed that everything stayed the same in this mysterious room, but not so. I’ve sat at Barry’s favourite table many times, and I haven’t noticed this chair before.

“Boris rotates the chairs every now and then — not mine but. My bum is nice and comfy in this chair. People tend to sit at the same tables, and the chairs start to come apart, so Boris rotates them. Gets a longer life out of a set of chairs that way. Bright boy, that Boris. Just like rotating the tyres on your car,” said Barry and I shot a look at Boris who was still rubbing the same spot on the bar — one eye was now completely closed. “That chair could tell a story or two,” said Barry.

“How long have these chairs been here?” I asked.

“Bloody long time,” said Barry.

“And that bullet hole?” I said.

“Interesting story that,” said Barry and I winced. Barry’s stories are often hair-raising and a tad too graphic for my tender sensibilities.

Barry launched into an exciting tale of gunplay, jealousy and sudden death.

“He got his revolver out and squeezed off a couple of rounds, but it was mostly muscle memory. He was fucked the moment the bullet hit him. Shouldn’t have been giving the big bloke’s missus one behind his back. We don’t normally allow gun play in here — it tends to attract the chaps in blue — but everyone understands affairs of the heart. We banned the big bloke from the Public Bar for a year, and it broke his heart. All that was years ago now. No one has been shot in here since. A few blokes have waved their shooters around a bit, but nothing serious,” said Barry.

“Was anyone else hurt while all this was going on?” I asked.

“Na, the bullets lodged in the wall over there. Holes are still there — bullets as well. We stuck that painting over them before the cops arrived. We told them he shot himself, being all broken hearted and stuff. I don’t think they bought it, but apart from the usual hassle, we didn’t hear any more about it. Case is still open but. Coroner brought in an open finding, so it is just hanging there waiting to drop on some poor bugger who the cops don’t like, just like that sword thing,” said Barry.

“Damocles,” I said.

“Yeah, that bloke,” said Barry.

“Not exactly the same thing, but what would I know?” I said.

I produced the typed pages, and Barry read them carefully.

“Bloody hell. How did you get her to tell you all this?” said Barry.

“I have charms you know nothing about,” I said, feeling very pleased with myself. I recognised the opportunity, acted on it, formulated a plan and carried it out. I’m not sure it gets much better than this.

“I’ve got a feeling that there will be more, but the stuff in there should do the trick,” I said with the air of someone who had done this type of thing all their lives.

My grandmother flashed into my mind, and I imagined her behind enemy lines, making instant decisions and risking her life.

Barry ordered another beer and tried once again to tempt me. “We should celebrate. I could get him to make you a sheila’s drink?” said Barry.

“No thanks Barry, I’m driving,” I said.

I stood up and my finger traced around the bullet hole in the back of the chair, and I tried to imagine the scene on that night. I must have been standing there for a while because Barry said, “Are you, alright kid?”

“Right as rain,” I said, gathering up my handbag.

The drive home left me time to think, and even the idiot who drove right up behind me most of the way could not dampen my high. Susan Smith, industrial spy. I would love to read that on a business card. I’d like to hand it to some would be Casanova who tried to chat me up at one of my husband’s work parties — it isn’t going to happen, but a girl can dream.

 

Version 2

Coming soon

Why I Won’t Be Entering The Ned Kelly Awards This Year

I’m currently a member of the Australian Crime Writer’s Association and as expected, I received notification that entries are open for the Ned Kelly Awards. This is the top award for Crime and Spy novels in Australia. This is one of the genres that I write in so I enter most years. The idea was to get shortlisted (winning was a long shot as some awesomely talented writers have won this award and I’m not quite in that category just yet). Being shortlisted would give me a bit of exposure and hopefully lead to a few sales.

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The Genre I write in — crime.

I began to feel like I was wasting my time when I entered my most recent novel (at that time) and didn’t get a sniff. Naturally, I was disappointed (the book is very good). I did a bit of research and read all of the shortlisted books and found (naturally I’m a bit biased) that none of them was any better than my book — a bit strange I thought. I was expecting writing that blew my work away — not so.

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The shortlisted books didn’t blow me away — none were better than mine.

Then this article came out and I did a bit more research and discovered that publishers don’t see any boost in sales when a book wins an award (the Miles Franklin and the Stella are exceptions). So why was I knocking myself out?

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Why was I knocking myself out?

I did a bit more research and found that self-published works have NEVER been shortlisted. There is an obvious bias towards big publishers as you can see in this quote:

“Asked how the system could be improved, publishers suggested lowering the fees, or removing them for small presses; reducing the number of categories to focus attention and cut fees; accepting digital copies, possibly without the author’s or publisher’s name to reduce a perceived bias towards big publishers; announcing shortlists and winners earlier so books are still in shops, and promoting those lists better.”

Then there is the question of cost. I have to pay a fee each year to be a member of the ACWA so I can enter, and then there is an entry fee. Things have improved a bit because they accept electronic entries which cuts out the cost of postage and the cost of supplying paperbacks.

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Then there is the question of cost.

Let’s face it, I’m a very small fish in a huge pond. I’m doing all the things the hip little articles tell me about ‘promoting my work’ and ‘marketing my books’, but the reality is that I will probably have to live another hundred years before my books are seen by more than a few hardy fans (love you guys).

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A recent shot of all of my readers in one spot — love you guys.

So, for now, I’m not going to be lining any pockets associated with awards — it’s just not cost effective, especially as there is a sneaking suspicion that the major publishers are all that the judges look at.

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Let’s face it, I’m a very small fish in a huge pond.

Here are a few quotes from the article I mentioned, just in case you cannot be bothered reading the whole thing:

“The returns from our very substantial investment every year in shortlisted and winning entries and the minimal sales results from our winning entries tell us something about the way awards and prizes operate these days.”

Terri-ann White, the director of University of Western Australia Publishing.

“When Geoffrey Lehmann’s Poems 1957-2013won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for poetry in 2015, the author received a generous $80,000 but White says, “We saw no results whatsoever [in sales].”

“Publishers agree that in Australia only the Miles Franklin Literary Award for a novel ($60,000 prize money), the well-promoted four-year-old Stella Prize for women writers ($50,000), and the Children’s Book Council of Australia awards significantly affect sales. As well as an $80 entry fee ($60 for early-birds), the Stella asks publishers to pay $500 for each shortlisted title to support the marketing that increases sales.”

“Asked how the system could be improved, publishers suggested lowering the fees, or removing them for small presses; reducing the number of categories to focus attention and cut fees; accepting digital copies, possibly without the author’s or publisher’s name to reduce a perceived bias towards big publishers; announcing shortlists and winners earlier so books are still in shops, and promoting those lists better.”

“In short, you don’t do it for sales, you do it for your authors, and for the reputation of the publishing house. Since we do it for our authors, we can hardly ask them to pay for it – they are less likely to be able to afford the fees than we are, and statistically speaking, it is most likely to be a waste of money for them. So that is where I disagree with Terri-ann. The prize organisers and sponsors should allow free entry for small publishers.”

Ivor Indyk, publisher at Giramondo Publishing.

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I’m feeling a bit discouraged — I need a hug.

Some links worth following:

http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/the-hidden-costs-that-threaten-australian-literary-awards-20161202-gt32wc.html

https://www.bookdesignmadesimple.com/book-award-contests-are-they-worthwhile/

http://publishing.artshub.com.au/news-article/news/writing-and-publishing/brooke-boland/small-publishers-get-a-prized-break-253084

Money For Old Shoes

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One day, the world will stop using paper money as a currency, but until that day thieves will target where the most substantial amounts are kept.
Banks are a favourite target for obvious reasons.
It’s been my job to catch those that see robbing banks as a shortcut to the easy life. I’ve worked my way up to inspector, and I’ve served my time. In a couple of months, I will retire on a full pension. I haven’t the slightest idea what I will do with my time, but I’ll worry about that when it comes. For now, I’ve got more significant problems.
It comes as no surprise to me (although everyone else seems thoroughly shocked) that a long-serving, high ranking police officer decided to inform on most of his former corrupt colleagues to avoid going to gaol for what remained of his life.

I remember the day when detective sergeant Wilson (now assistant commissioner Wilson) first handed me an envelope with my name on it. The envelope looked innocent enough, and the wad of fifty dollar notes made it look slightly pregnant.
“Don’t look at me like that you little piss ant. You take your cut and keep your expletive mouth shut.”
I didn’t take the envelope, but the angry DS dropped it on my desk, wiped his nose on his sleeve, tucked in his considerable gut, sneered at me and sauntered off in the direction of the exit which led to our local hotel — his other office.
I’d been in the squad for about five minutes, and the old members looked at me as a spy. I was way too young in their eyes. I had to be sleeping with someone or someone’s nephew. Either way, I wasn’t to be trusted.
It may sound like I was surprised by all this, but I wasn’t. I had a mentor who told me what to expect. My mentor was six feet five inches tall and almost as wide which was partly to blame for him being retired from the armed robbery squad and the police force in general. He was just too big a target. He’d been shot three times during his career, and the last bullet damaged his colon so severely that he was considered unfit for duty.
William Prentiss was a friend of my father. In fact, my father blamed him for my career choice.
“They’ll smear you with their dirty dealings, and you will have to decide very quickly how you are going to handle yourself. If you refuse to take the kickbacks, you are likely to find yourself on your own one day staring down the barrel. If you take it, they have you, and they know you won’t tell anyone because you will look as guilty as they are. The whole thing will unravel one day when some chunky bastard contracts something terminal and decides to get all his naughty deeds off his chest before he meets his maker. But until then, you have to work out how you are going to survive.”
It was a valuable insight, and a sane person would have resigned at that point, but I’m a stubborn bastard, and I liked the idea of hunting bad guys with guns.
I gave the whole situation a lot of thought, and I decided to take the envelopes (and bundles when things went decidedly well) and catalogue them. I wrote the time, and the date and the prick who forced me to take it and I wrapped it in plastic (mostly supermarket bags) and wrote the information again on the plastic. These bundles would then be stored in shoe boxes. The boxes ended up in a huge old wooden cupboard I bought at a government auction. This thing was monstrous and weighed a lot, but it served the purpose. It’s in my garage as I write and it is packed tight.
The Greenies will tell you that supermarket bags don’t break down over time — that bollocks. Many of the bags fell to pieces as the Rat Squad pulled them out which made me glad that I had written the details on the envelopes.
You may be wondering why so many decades went by without the truth coming to light.
When everyone gets paid there is a high degree of motivation for things to continue.
Behind the scenes, there were officers like myself trying to gather information to bring these creatures in front of a court.
We planted marked money in several banks over a period of years, but the robbers always managed to avoid the tell-tale bank notes.
We had all of the phones tapped but never did we intercept a call.
It turned out that most of the banks that were being robbed had an inside person — often high ranking. Whenever a crew burst into one of the banks where we had marked money, there would be a pair of shoes in the vault. The unoccupied shoes meant that the money was tainted so the robbers would stick to what was in the tills. Small pickings, but preferable to getting caught.
If we salted the tills, the bank employee would take his shoes off and stack them neatly together where the crew would notice them. If he were questioned later, he would say that the robbers made him do it and he didn’t know why.
Naturally, the newspapers had a field day.
‘SHOELESS JOE CREW STRIKES AGAIN.’
‘THEY TOOK ALL THE MONEY AND LEFT THE SHOES BEHIND.’
‘SHOELESS AND CLUELESS.’ this last one was a dig at us for not being able to catch the robbers.
It got to the point that customers started taking their shoes off during a robbery because they thought it was expected.
This led to a lot of confusion for the thieves, and they had to switch to a different signal.
They stole a lot of money, and a great deal of it went in payoffs. The insurance companies put their premiums up, and the general public paid the price.
All this came spilling out as evidence in the case, and several high ranking officers were arrested, and a few who had retired were scooped up as well.
When they knocked on my door one Sunday afternoon, “for a friendly chat”, I told them what I knew and showed them the cupboard and its contents.
“You’re a confident bugger,” said the painfully young sergeant who was probably serving his time in the Internal Investigation Squad because it would speed his rise through the ranks.
“You’re a confident bugger — sir,” I replied.
“Yes sir,” said the young man, who now seemed a few inches shorter.
“I never spent a penny of it. It’s all there and clearly labelled. You will have fingerprints and DNA to back up my labelling and you will all look like a bunch of ungrateful bastards if you charge me. My barrister will have a field day,” I said without the slightest hint of a smile.
The brighter ones among them knew I was right, but that didn’t guarantee my safety.
“You’ll have to testify, you smug bastard,” said the highest ranking officer and it was the first words he had spoken since they all arrived.
“It’s a little bit cramped in here,” I said. “Do you think that ten or twenty of you could step out and give me the senior officer a bit of air?”
No one moved.
“Go on piss off,” said the officer with the gold braid. My garage was soon empty except for me, and the gold braid and a shit load of yellow envelops strewn across the floor.
“I’ll testify, and that will sew this thing up tight,” I said. “I want early retirement — starting from today, no gaol time, no protective custody, and I keep my pension.”
“I’ll have to make some calls, but I’m reasonably sure I can get you most of it, but you can kiss your pension goodbye — they’ll never go for that.”
“Just put it to them forcefully, and I’ll live with what follows,” I said.
The ‘gold braid’ got on his phone, and before long, all the blue uniforms were gone, and I had my house back. They didn’t search the house, but they did bring in a truck, and they took the old cupboard away.
They didn’t search my toolshed either, which was just as well because it contained every fourth envelope I ever received. The nasty people who forced me to take them most probably didn’t keep records so how would they know after all these years?
I had spent some of it over the years, but there was still a small mountain of them unopened. If I did lose my pension, I’d still be okay.
“What was that all about Birt?” my wife asked as the truck with the cupboard drove up the street. She is an excellent copper’s wife — she stayed out of the way until I could explain to her in private. I know she wondered why other police families had boats and holiday houses and trips overseas while we chugged along on the basics, but she never complained — not once.
“A bunch of blokes who made my life a misery are about to get theirs, and I’m the one who is nailing the coffin lids shut.”
She knew there was more to it than that and she knew I would tell her most of it. We’d lie in bed and I’d unfold it for her. She’ll understand. Keeping secrets is part of the job, but not telling her — my best friend — all these years has been difficult. I’ve always tried to ‘not bring the job home with me’, but this was different. I wanted her to be genuinely shocked by the discovery of all that money if my plan went south. She’s put up with a lot during my career and I was not going to let these arseholes drag her down with me. The next few days will see if the brass sticks to our deal, but I’m not going to lose any sleep. Our new life starts today.
“I think it’s time to break out that bottle of bubbly that your sister gave us, but before we do that, there’s something in the shed I’d like to show you. I think you’re going to enjoy this sweetheart.”

Marcel

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When I met Marcel, I was wearing a slinky gown that reached to the ground. It hugged me in all the right places, and every penny I had spent on my spectacular body was on display. My breasts aren’t large, but they are pretty. My dress caressed them and exposed just enough. I wasn’t wearing panties or a bra because it would have ruined the fall of the dress —the dress I purchased only for this occasion.

One of my husband’s friends was receiving an award so the banquet hall would be full of uncomfortably dressed men imitating penguins and fabulously dressed women, all trying to impress each other while comparing their husband’s incomes.

When I first saw him, the dining hall was receiving its finishing touches. None of the bustling staff paid me any attention — one more weepy woman — what did I have to be unhappy about? An observant person would say my life looked perfect. The girls, earning minimum wage, while arranging crystal wine glasses, probably wanted to be me.

My husband disappeared into his career a long time ago, but he still expected me to adore him even though he’s a stranger. If he had found a woman who was prepared to play his game I’m sure he would have left me, but instead, we occupy the same house, and our schedules mean that we occasionally bump into each other.

Marcel was dressed like a penguin also, but he wasn’t a guest he was working — a hired gun, so to speak — an experienced chef moonlighting as a head waiter — just for the night.

“You are unhappy, beautiful lady?”

“Just a bit — nothing to worry about,” I said.

“Why are you alone?”

“I’m not. My husband is in the other room — networking.”

The anteroom was full of well-dressed people exchanging business cards.

“If you were with me, I wouldn’t leave you alone for a moment.”

I lowered my eyes as I smiled demurely. I searched for something to say, but his words took me by surprise. I’ve had men say such things to me in the past, but there was always an edge to their voice that made me uncomfortable.

I sensed a gentle sincerity in Marcel — he meant what he said. That’s not to say that he wasn’t trying his luck — trying to get into the pants that I wasn’t wearing.

He moved closer, and I lowered my eyes a little more. He leaned into my personal space, and I could feel his breath on my bare shoulders.

“You are very forward for a waiter,” I said as I finally found my voice. I didn’t move away from him as a married woman should have while spurning an unwanted advance. Instead, I looked up into his eyes and my rebuke held no venom.

“I am many things and a waiter for only one night. I am also a man who recognises an unhappy woman. I can make you happy,” he said with a devilish smile.

“I doubt that my husband would like to hear you say those words.”

“You are a woman who should be cherished. Your every wish should be granted. Your man should put his hands on you and show you what heaven looks like.”

“And I suppose that you are a man who can achieve that for a woman?”

His attention was arousing me. I didn’t see the harm in encouraging him; I wouldn’t see him again after this night — we come from different worlds.

“I would take you anywhere you want to go,” he said with that same smile.

I had butterflies in my tummy, and I was moist. A trip to the ‘ladies’ would be necessary before we sat down for dinner.

I went to find my husband to tell him of my cheeky adventure, but he was deep in conversation with a couple of penguins — he ignored me, once again, so I stood by until we were called for dinner.

The banquet hall buzzed with conversation. The food was good, and the wine was better than expected. The hotel staff hovered around the table and made sure that we were well looked after. Marcel found any excuse to service my end of the table. He smiled at me constantly. He made funny faces and caught my eye. No one noticed his interest in me, but I loved the attention even though I did my best to look as though I was discouraging him — he saw through me.

Despite my beauty and position in society, no one had shown me this kind of blatant interest. I swear he would have made love to me there and then if I had let him.

~oOo~

“Hello, Elizabeth. Are you still sad?”

I was going through my notes for the lecture I was to give the next day — I was glad of the distraction. I recognised his voice, but I made him work for my attention.

“I’m sorry, I don’t know to whom I am speaking.”

“It’s Marcel, from last night’s banquet. Tall, dark, handsome in an irresistible way. Marcel, the head waiter,” he sounded cheeky, but a bit disappointed that I did not immediately know who he was.

“What can I do for you Marcel the head waiter?”

“You can meet me for coffee.”

“Will you be wearing your Tux? I meet so many handsome men. How will I recognise you out of uniform?”

There was a moment of silence. Maybe he was trying to work out if I was kidding him or not.

“The Tasty Cafe at about three tomorrow. I know you will recognise me because I remember the way you looked at me.”

“I might be able to drag myself away — we’ll see.”

I hung up the phone before he had time to answer. I felt like a naughty school girl planning to cut classes for the day.

 

An excerpt from DOT, DOT, DOT …

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DOT, DOT, DOT … published

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The big day has arrived and the word PUBLISHED appears next to the name of this book on all of the sales outlets. A lot of work went into making the stories about real people having meaningful encounters. DOT, DOT, DOT … includes two novellas (actually one novella and a novelette).

Read all about ita newspaper columnist falls in love with a mysterious widow. His life will never be the same after he meets her at a glitzy reception — not his normal habitat. Will he make it out with his sanity intact?

Unexpected: a mature woman reaching for her chance at happiness. Her life had been comfortable and devoid of passion. Now, she must choose — a life of privilege or an adventure. Her lover shows her attention and reintroduces her to passion. Her lover has also to choose — will they end up together?

A string of short stories trace the awakening of a love affair between a newly married couple. Sam and Scarlett (the characters from my first novel The Long Weekend) are confronted with the difficulties of Sam’s recovery from a suspicious car accident. Sam’s head injury requires a long convalescence. His memories are returning slowly, but the most important memory is but a fog. Sam does not remember meeting and marrying Scarlett.

Over a series of stories, they rediscover their intimate relationship.

In other stories, an old woman remembers an encounter with her lover and a particular piece of furniture — an adventurous modern woman uses her body to obtain secrets — a woman writes a letter to her lover — a gambler reflects on his lucky escape and his possibility of carnal delights.

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The paperback version of DOT, DOT, DOT … and the eBook, and the AUDIOBOOK are all released on the same day — today. It took a bit of organising, but they all lined up nicely.

The paperback (Amazon and Blurb) the ebook (iTunes, Amazon and Smashwords) and the audiobook (Amazon, iTunes, Audiobooks.com and a bunch of others) are all available now. Please take the time to write a review on Amazon or Goodreads — it really helps.

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DOT, DOT, DOT … 4 days to release

January 31st, 2018 marks the release date for my latest book (number eleven). More than a year in the making (I know you are happy to wait as long as the end product is as good as it can be). Good erotic prose is difficult to achieve, so a lot of work went into making the stories about real people having meaningful encounters. This book includes two novellas (actually one novella and a novelette). Read all about it sees a newspaper columnist fall in love with a mysterious widow. His life will never be the same after he meets her at a glitzy reception — not his normal habitat. Will he make it out with his sanity intact? Unexpected sees a mature woman reaching for her chance at happiness. Her life had been comfortable and devoid of passion. Now, she must choose — a life of privilege or an adventure. Her lover shows her attention and reintroduces her to passion. Her lover has also to choose — will they end up together?

A string of short stories trace the awakening of a love affair between a newly married couple. Sam and Scarlett (the characters from my first novel The Long Weekend) are confronted with the difficulties of Sam’s recovery from a suspicious car accident. Sam’s head injury requires a long convalescence. His memories are returning slowly, but the most important memory is but a fog. Sam does not remember meeting and marrying Scarlett. Over a series of stories, they rediscover their intimate relationship.

In other stories, an old woman remembers an encounter with her lover and a particular piece of furniture — an adventurous modern woman uses her body to obtain secrets — a woman writes a letter to her lover — a gambler reflects on his lucky escape and his possibility of carnal delights.

The paperback version of DOT, DOT, DOT … and the eBook, and the AUDIOBOOK are all released on the same day. It took a bit of organising, but they all lined up nicely.

The paperback (Amazon and Blurb) the ebook (iTunes, Amazon and Smashwords) and the audiobook (Amazon, iTunes, Audiobooks.com and a bunch of others) are all available for preorder. Please take the time to write a review on Amazon or Goodreads — it really helps.

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Dossier

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The manila folder arrived with the morning mail and Mr Albertson — not his real name — expected the mail to be on his desk when he arrived — around 10:30 am.
His secretary didn’t particularly like her job, but she didn’t hate it either — her feelings, as she expressed them to her girlfriends over wine on a Friday evening, in the pub just off the High Street, were of a banal kind of acceptance — “Until something better comes along, or when Mr Right gets off his fat rear end (she rarely used bad language) and asks me to marry him.” Fortunately for her, ‘Mr Right’ was sitting at the other end of the bar watching her — every Friday night for the past two months. When she suddenly stopped coming on a Friday night after work, he went looking for her. Her sudden absence was the ‘spur to courage’ that he had needed.
As it happened, several manila folders were being delivered on this morning, but Mr Albertson — not his birth name — was the first to open his.
The silver and gold letter opener — a present from his mistress — cut through the thick yellow paper and when he tipped the envelope, a copy of the first page of his dossier fell out. On the bottom of the page were the words ‘ONLY THE FIRST PAGE’. A smaller piece of paper labelled ‘instructions’ fell to the floor. Mr Albertson — not the name he was born with or used during his collaboration with the enemy — picked up the piece of paper and read it carefully. He sat quietly for a moment in his government office with the pleasant view and shiny wood panelled walls. His next move was to press the intercom button and tell his secretary he was not to be disturbed and could she get him an outside line. The phone went click as she connected him and he dialled the number. The phone on the other end answered and a man said, ‘Hello’.
“They’ve found us,” said Mr Albertson. “I knew this day would come. Did you get an envelope?”
“Yes,” said the voice on the line. “What are you going to do?”
“I haven’t decided yet. I might pay them. I haven’t decided.”
Mr Albertson hung up the phone, reached into the top drawer of his desk, opened the chamber on his revolver. Satisfied that it was loaded, he put his keys and his watch on the desk, emptied the considerable contents of his wallet into a white envelope and wrote his secretary’s name on it with the words, “Don’t believe everything they will say about me.”
He had practised this move many times in his head, but now that the moment had come, he couldn’t decide — under the chin, on the temple or in the mouth.
The bang made Mr Albertson’s secretary jump. Several thoughts ran through her head as she sat in her chair. She didn’t think she was the kind of person who would sit in a chair after hearing an enormous bang, but apparently, she was.
The fog in her brain cleared and she rushed into her boss’s office. There was a lot of blood, and some of it mixed with what looked like sticky grey matter was sliding down the walls — Mr Albertson had gone for the ‘in the mouth’ option.
The secretary didn’t scream, she just stared. Mr Alberston was her first dead body. The blood-spattered envelope caught her eye, and she scooped it up and put it in her desk before she called for help.

In other parts of Paris and a few provincial centres, the activity was less dramatic.
Many large yellow envelopes were opened, many shocked expressions were given, many decisions were made, but only Mr Alberston, who had changed his name to hide his past collaboration, decided to take the fatal way out.
The amounts asked for were not large, but they were to be regular. The thinking behind the amounts asked was to make it easy for the person being blackmailed to see reason.
Some letters did not contain a ‘request’ for money. Instead, there was the strong suggestion that Farr and Dent should not be pursued lest the file falls into the wrong hands. These notes were delivered to those who had State resources and who were not frightened to use them to deadly ends — never poke the tiger.

The plan was well thought out and well executed. The result was a modest amount of constant income mixed with a bit of breathing room for the deadly Canadians.

You might think that one or two of the people who received the yellow envelopes would have tried their luck — called their bluff. That had been thought out as well.

That same morning, the most prominent newspapers in France ran the story of a bunch of wartime enemy dossiers being found, implicating several high ranking public servants and two successful industrialists. The President promised that there would be a full inquiry and “Anyone found wanting will be punished to the extent of the law.”
The enquiry did go ahead, but mysteriously, all those accused had been able to flee the country before capture. Another enquiry was ordered to investigate how this could happen.

~oOo~

When Daisy arrived home that night, there was a yellow envelope under her door.
Her little dog had chewed on the corner after it was pushed through, but the message inside was untouched.
“The piper has been paid. Just like old times — we work well together. Until the next adventure, keep your eyes open Daisy and thank you.
Judy and Christian.”