Hot Tales

HOT TALES is a compilation of three Detective Shelley Caldwell shorts: HOT NOTE, HOT CORPSE, HOT CHRISTMAS

Homicide detective Shelley Caldwell and her half-vampire lover Jake figure out three murders deemed suicides are connected. But Shelley can’t suggest that powerful paranormal forces are at work to her department—one psych evaluation was enough, thank you very much. So she and Jake investigate, putting him at risk and leaving her with the task of figuring out how to beat the odds when fighting a supernatural force.
Detective Shelley Caldwell gets all the woo-woo cases. When bodies are found–rather skeletons of bodies–she knows the supernatural is involved. Not wanting another psych evaluation, she keeps that aspect hidden as she tracks down the killer in this short story.
(novella originally published as Do You Hear What I Hear?)
The song “Do You Hear What I Hear?” was written as a plea for peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis in the middle of the Cold War with Russia. Now Christmas is around the corner and live-in lovers Detective Shelley Caldwell and Jake DeAtley are in a cold war of their own. Shelley has all wonderful memories of Christmas, while Jake, born of a mother turned vampire while pregnant with him, has none. They’ve come to a compromise that she can decorate “her half” of every room, but there can be no Christmas tree. Then a case of hit-and-run leaves a dead body and a magical Christmas tree. With her woo-woo instincts ablaze, Shelley can’t resist bringing home the tree, heating up the war with Jake. There is more to the tree than either knows. Will it bring them back together or push them farther apart?

Excerpt from HOT NOTE:
Though the night’s storm abated, wind still blew in powerful gusts, chopping waves of lake water over the corpse face down on Oak Street Beach. Dawn had barely broken when an early morning jogger had called it in. I hadn’t been sleeping, but–worse–my cell phone blasting had torn me out of Jake’s arms…and he’d been using his best vampire moves on me. Now as Detective Mike Norelli and I surveyed the scene, an evidence technician snapped photos.
“Nifty swimsuit,” my partner said of the dead man’s charcoal striped suit. “Gotta get me one of them.”
“Yeah, Norelli, as if someone could pry open your wallet.”
“So I’m thrifty.”
I snorted and crouched down near the corpse. “No wound that I can see.”
“Just like the other two.”
I was thinking the same thing. Earlier in the year, two other men had washed up on beaches, the first on the south side of Chicago, the second farther north. I shot my gaze to the corpse’s feet. I could still see an indentation where his body had disturbed the sand as waves off Lake Michigan had pushed it to shore.
The evidence tech backed off, so I searched the dead man’s pockets and produced keys and a wallet, which I handed to Norelli.
“Just like the others,” he repeated as I stood. “Not a robbery.”
“What are the chances of three fully-dressed men walking into the lake and drowning?”
I didn’t believe in coincidence.
As Norelli checked the wallet, I signaled the team. Furthermore, I was getting bad vibes. My inner alarms started going off.
The EMTs rolled the corpse onto a stretcher, giving me a clear shot at the dead man’s face, which was contorted into what looked like ecstasy.
“Neil Larson,” Norelli and I said in unison.
He looked up from the driver’s license. “You psychic or do you have x-ray vision?”
Actually, I was psychic, at least with my twin Silke and recently with Jake, but no way was I going to admit that. “Yeah, Norelli. Like I know you recently had pasta with marinara sauce.”
He narrowed his gaze at me. “Last night. How did you know really?”
“The tomato stain on your lapel.”
“I meant the victim.”
“I recognize him,” I said. “Larson Gallery, River North.”

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