Chapter One excerpt — Love Christmas Collection — Do You Hear What I Hear by Patricia Rosemoor #mgtab

DoYouHearWhatIHeara Detective Shelley Caldwell “Hot Christmas” Novella

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. Now Christmas is just around the corner, and Shelley and Jake are in a cold war of their own…

Chapter One

Four days before Christmas

Sleet hit Chicago like an icy whip early this afternoon, the Christmas gift that just kept giving. I love snowy Christmases, but getting pelted in the face with icy needles was sheer misery, reminding me of my current relationship with my live-in love, Jake DeAtley.

Putting him out of mind so that I could concentrate on the job, I carefully negotiated the ice-laden pavement and took a quick look at the Uniforms in charge of crowd control, the EMT guy at the body and the gathering spectator herd outside the yellow tape taking their damn selfies with the dead guy behind them.

“Nice one for the holidays.” Detective Mike Norelli shook his grizzled head. “Great last minute Christmas cards.” He glanced back at me. “C’mon, Caldwell, let’s get this over with. I actually got a hot date tonight.”

“Right,” I muttered, wondering what kind of a woman would go for the sarcastic cop. “I should rush to the scene and kill myself, too.”

Norelli snorted as he ducked under the Crime Scene tape. “That’s what you get for wearing killer boots.”

I wasn’t a fashionista like my twin sister Silke, but I had my moments. These knee length suede boots with high heels I’d seen in Westbrook’s windows had done me in. Or would do me in, I thought as I slid toward the dead man in the middle of the street. I regained control just in time to prevent myself from tripping over him.

“There’s the reason he’s dead,” Norelli groused, pointing to the tree on his other side. “Too into the Christmas spirit to get out of the way of traffic.”

“Nobody’s ever accused you of having too much spirit.”

But some kind of spirit was making my hackles rise. Sorrow…mourning…despair. A faint whisper in my mind froze me where I stood. This psychic thing had started between Silke and me when we were little kids and had grown into our being able to talk to each other without actually speaking. Now Jake and I could read each other’s minds, as well. Too bad I couldn’t change his when it came to Christmas. Whatever was going on here at the scene hit me in the gut. I took a good look through the gathered crowd but saw no one in tears or appearing distraught. Still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was on the edge, no matter how much I wanted to believe otherwise. I recognized woo-woo the instant it hit me.

“So did someone really run him down on purpose?” I asked the EMT, who was kneeling by the body.

“Don’t know for sure.” He got to his feet. He pointed to a small knot of teenagers behind him. “Those girls witnessed it. At least one of them picked up footage on her phone.”

“I’ll go talk to them,” Norelli grunted.

He left me staring down at the poor middle-aged dead guy spread out next to a gorgeous pine tree unlike any I’d ever seen before. There was something magical about it, because just looking at it warmed me inside. I steeled myself against showing any emotion, though, because there was nothing positive about his death. I didn’t want anyone to think I didn’t have the proper respect. Poor guy probably had been bringing the Christmas tree home for his wife and kids. Oh, Lord, I hoped I wasn’t the one who’d have to share the bad news with his family. Worst part of the job.

“The county medical examiner’s van is on his way to take him to the morgue,” the EMT told me. “Ah, crud, I forgot to call Streets and Sanitation to remove the tree.”

They would not only remove the beautiful Christmas tree, they would destroy it, run it through their grinder to make mulch. Something kept me from wanting that to happen, at least not while it was still alive. The van to take the body away was already pulling up to the crime scene.

“Don’t worry about it,” I said. “You take care of the victim. I’ll take care of the tree.”

And then I would have to deal with Jake when I brought it home.

***

“I thought we agreed on no Christmas tree,” Jake said the moment he laid eyes on it.

He wore nothing but an angry expression, the black diamond in his right ear and a towel low around his hips. I swallowed hard and tried not to admire what I couldn’t have. Not an early riser unless a little something erotic was involved—and there had been none of that in my reality since I’d insisted on decorating my half of the apartment for the holiday—he’d been dead asleep when I’d left for work that morning. Not literally dead, despite the vampire blood he’d inherited from his mother.

Sarge and Cadet were already circling the tree, no doubt wondering how long it would be before they could climb it.

“No!” I said a little too harshly. Sarge fell back on his haunches, his expression hurt and disbelieving, and scaredy cat Cadet ran behind the couch.

“I’m waiting for your supposed explanation.”

“I caught another woo-woo case. Really bad vibes.”

Jake rolled his eyes. “That’s your explanation for bringing home a Christmas tree against your sworn promise?”

“I’m telling you, there was something weird going on. I felt it right away.” Of course that’s not why I’d saved the tree from the chipper. “All right, then if you don’t believe me, don’t think of it as a Christmas tree. Think of it as a beautiful mountain pine that didn’t deserve to be destroyed while it was still alive. It’s just here temporarily to make the apartment smell nice.”

“Right. Justify it all, why don’t you?”

“I didn’t do this to hurt you, Jake. I won’t even decorate it. I promise.”

His dark gaze cut through the room, half of which was already decorated with boughs of holly and strings of lights and candles everywhere. I’d set out bowls of ornaments, most of which I’d bought one at a time, each with special meaning for me. Plus there were those from Silke’s and my childhood. “Santa” (Dad) had always brought a few for each of us along with our other presents.

“By the way,” Jake added, “that ‘not a Christmas tree’ is on my side of the room.”

The barren side.

Grunting, I tried lifting the tree to appease him, but I swore it had gotten heavier every time I moved it. Or maybe I just needed the meal I’d never gotten around to eating. “I suppose you wouldn’t consider helping me.”

In answer, he crossed his arms over his bared chest and raised one dark eyebrow.

My heart fluttering despite the tension between us, I did the best I could, dragging it, inching it along, finally leaning it against the wall next to the couch. At least I didn’t have to go down to the storage area and find the stand. I’d brought it up with the rest of my decorations, also with no help from Jake. How the heck was I supposed to lift such a heavy tree into the stand myself?

Jake and I stared at each other for a moment, and I swore I read regret in his expression before he turned away.

“I’ll be in the shower,” he growled as he made for the bathroom.

Normally, that would have included an invitation to join him.

What exactly did he regret? For disappointing me? Or because he couldn’t shake the memories of a horrific childhood when none of his Christmases had been anything to celebrate?

The mother who’d loved him as best she could had been pregnant with Jake when she’d been turned by a vampire against her will. Amazing that he’d turned out pretty normal other than having tremendous speed, strength and hearing. And an appetite for very rare, very bloody beef—couldn’t forget that one. From what he’d told me, he’d been as normal a kid as was possible, but his mother’s uncontrollable urge to feed on human blood came even before his needs at times. Definitely before Christmas. So after he’d spent holiday after holiday alone, no one to take him to Christmas services at midnight, no one to read him a Christmas story or to sing a Christmas carol with him, he’d given up celebrating, both religious and secular.

But now that we had found each other, had fallen in love, had bought a condo and moved in together, I’d convinced myself he would be open to something with such meaning for me. Until our Dad had died on the job, he’d made every Christmas special for Silke and me. I honored his memory every holiday. I’d told Jake that. I’d hoped that he would at least try to celebrate with me.

I’d been wrong.

And too stubborn to let it go.

So I’d come up with a compromise. “My half” of every room in our new condo would be decorated as I wanted. Same with “his half.” I’d thought that maybe, just maybe, he would loosen up a bit. Instead, while he’d agreed I could hang my lights and set out my candles and ornaments on my side, the biting part of the bargain was that there was to be no Christmas tree. I had reluctantly agreed.

Now this.

Saddened, I ran a hand along a branch of pine needles and it struck me again even harder.

Sorrow…mourning…despair.

I stood there for a moment staring at the branches, trying to discern exactly what was going on. The depth of feeling didn’t let up until I let go. And then I realized I hadn’t gotten the woo-woo from someone in the crowd earlier.

I’d gotten it from the tree itself.

 

Research Makes It Real

One of the most common questions I get as an author is where do I get my ideas? Once upon a time there was no Internet, but the Sunday Chicago Tribune had a great magazine with articles that provided me not only with ideas but with the research I couldn’t get elsewhere. Research that helped make those stories feel real for me. I based several early novels on the terrific information I found in that magazine.

Ticket1000.1500

Today is release day for Ticket to Nowhere, the digital version of my backlist romantic suspense based on an article about carnivals.

A carnival is the temporary home/workplace of Chick Lovett and the refuge where Eden Payne hides to save her life after she is witness to a murder cover up and recognizes one of the men involved, who recognizes her in return.

Here are some fun facts I learned about carnivals, valid at least back when I originally wrote Ticket to Nowhere:

Chick is a jointee running a joint or game booth. There are three basic types. Slums give away slum or cheap merchandise like floating ducks. A hanky-pank is where kids and moms play, something like one-ball or basketball. And flat stores display expensive prizes but try to settle by offering an inexpensive one.

Chick runs a one-ball, a joint where you try to knock down a pyramid of three milk bottles with one soft ball, impossible to knock all down unless at exactly the right angle with the right amount of force. He “works the play” – that is, he sells the game, sets up a cadence, a rhythm, a flow and keeps it going.

To get the feel of being among real carnies, I found the following information useful:

Marks are anyone without carny blood.
Ride jocks are the people who operate rides.
Office men own most of the rides and a string of joints and more or less run the carnival.
A sucker job is any non-carnival work, especially a 9-5 job.
Going to the barn means going to winter quarters.
40-milers are carnivals that don’t travel long distances. They usually work shopping centers and neighborhood festivals.
A doniker is a portable toilet.
A cop shop is a police station.

TorchJob1000.1500

 

I hope this information helps make Ticket to Nowhere a fun read. It certainly made it fun to write. Ticket is the first in the Double Trouble duo — Eden and BFF Taffy Darling of Torch Job play parts in each other’s stories.

Both Ticket to Nowhere and Torch Job are available at Amazon only for now, and Ticket to Nowhere is only 99 cents for a limited time.

 

One Lifetime Was Not Enough

I have been endlessly fascinated if somewhat afraid of the supernatural. No matter the fear, I continued to be drawn to the supernatural in movies and books, and the first chance I had, I started writing paranormal and urban fantasy romances. WRITTEN IN THE STARS, co-authored with Sherrill Bodine, gave me a chance to explore the idea of reincarnation, something I love, love.

WITS.FB6I truly believe justice should be served, but as we know, that doesn’t always happen. Some people live a good life and don’t get what they deserve. Same with people who live a bad life. So I love the Hindu concept of reincarnation and karma. Basically, we reap what we sow. The reincarnated villain finally must pay for the evil he did in the past.

More importantly, Elizabeth and Will must be reunited again in new lives. Cordelia Ward follows their journey through the journal of her ancestress Elizabeth. To start, Cordelia is  the part of me that is a skeptic. But slowly, through the journal and precognative dreams, she begins to realize she might have a deeper connection than she ever suspected…

Excerpt from Written in the Stars:

The part of me which never dies will find Will at last. Know that if I combed the earth and searched through the galaxies for eternity there is no being I would want but this one. And so it shall be when once again passion beats between us like a living force.
I long for this with every breath I draw. Yet I have foreseen that once again Carlyle’s evil shall rip us asunder. Do not be so bewitched by enchantment that you believe all danger is past. For you and I are one.

Feeling as if she’d just seen The Celestine sink through Elizabeth’s eyes—a supernatural feat on her ancestress’s part that took away her breath—Cordelia set down the journal in the middle of her bunk. Her own abilities of having precognitive dreams and a brush with telekinesis were dwarfed by comparison.

Elizabeth had written: That future is for you to write for it is set firm in your stars. And: For you and I are one.

Had Elizabeth meant her specifically? Cordelia wondered. Was she the you in the journal? Was she meant to fulfill Elizabeth’s destiny and find her Will?
Or was it the Will, as in Will reincarnated? Was she Elizabeth reborn?

All along, the journal had drawn her closer and closer to the past. The dreams had taken her to another level, had shown her what she now believed to be true.
At first she’d been afraid to believe. Never having known that kind of love, she hadn’t been open to it. But that last dream had convinced her, had seduced her in new ways. She wanted its promise. Needed it. And only one man could give it to her. Which man? she wondered, hoping it would be the one who had her heart.

Open your mind and you will know what is true…

Had she really heard a woman’s voice? “Elizabeth?”

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Good reading!

Patricia Rosemoor

GETTING DOWN AND DIRTY

Skin.1000.1500Thinking there was safety in numbers, I made sure I didn’t go alone on my trip to a gentleman’s club as research for SKIN. In addition to my husband, I recruited a couple of other writers and another’s husband.
We had no idea what to expect.  Dark and seedy, perhaps? Poles on every table for table dances? Old strip club atmosphere?
To our surprise, the place looked like the night clubs I’d been to eons before. It was beautifully decorated, and the bouncers wore tuxes, the hostess and waitresses evening gowns. Along the walls were semi-private areas with luxurious booths for groups. But apparently those had been reserved ahead of time. We got to sit in the middle of the main floor at a long table with strangers. A little odd, but okay.
Many years ago, when I was in my early twenties, a group of us went to a couple of Rush Street strip clubs to see what they were like. Women weren’t allowed to be naked then. The wildest thing they did was twirl tassels that covered their nipples. But like everything else in the world, that certainly changed. In Chicago, “exotic dancers” have to wear g-strings if the club serves drinks – otherwise they can dance nude. This club served drinks, so they did have to wear g-strings, but that didn’t seem to matter to the sheer sexuality of the acts. Even more intense were the personal lap dances – and here I’d been sort of relieved there hadn’t been any poles on the tables.
It was really eye opening to see the intensity of the men who hired the woman for lap dances. And eye opening to see just how far those women would go for their tips. Men were not allowed to touch them, but I saw more than one woman whip both naked breasts into a man’s face while she was imitating the sex act straddling him.
The night took an amusing turn, however. The woman in our group who was alone had already been hit on by the hostess, who’d asked her if she wanted “company.” Of course, not being into women, she’d said no. That didn’t stop two of the lap dancers from soliciting her for dances. We all had a laugh about that one. And then the next act on stage started.
A more mature dancer, also a well-known “adult-movie” actress, did an old-fashioned strip routine, eliminating one piece of clothing at a time, including thigh high stockings that she rolled down her legs and then threw then out into the audience. Wouldn’t you know it – one of those stockings landed in my single friend’s diet coke. With a loud “eeeooowww” that got more laughs, she slapped it out of her drink. And then the guy next to me asked if he could have it. My friend said go ahead, and we all gaped as we watched him pick it up, smell it, then stuff it in an inner pocket of his suit jacked.
Eeeeooowwwwwwwwww!
An amusing end to the evening, one we all enjoyed. And one that provided me with a lot of ideas to realize the gentlemen’s club setting for SKIN.
I’ve said it many times – there’s nothing like personal research to make your story come alive 🙂

SKIN, a romantic thriller by Patricia Rosemoor

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