Anonymous Soccer Mom

Musings from the Mundane to the Marvelous


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MURDER IN A-MINOR EXCERPT

Here’s a teaser for MURDER IN A-MINOR, available May 31 at http://amzn.to/246CEqH

 

(please note the following excerpt contains adult content)

MURDER IN A-MINOR

PROLOGUE

 The bullet grazes my cheek. My brain barely registers it. No time to worry about the sudden stinging sensation nor the blood trickling down the side of my face. My partner Sal screams my name as he lurches out of the sedan on the far side of the alley.  My heart slams against my ribcage. My breathing is shallow. I swing the barrel of my gun up toward my target.

Ten yards away, the man laughs maniacally and waves his gun in my direction. It looks like a snub-nosed Ruger from here, but I can’t tell, and furthermore, it doesn’t matter.

“Gotcha, bitch!” he screeches, then throws his head back and howls, “Got yoooooou!”

The man’s eyes are wild, his teeth bared, his brown flesh tinged with the sallow green of addiction. I’m guessing meth, but I could be wrong. Whatever he’s on, it’s not affecting his aim. Blood drips down my chin and splashes onto my shoes.

And suddenly, I’m pissed. Without hesitation, without thinking about the consequences or the idiocy of my actions, I rush toward him. Sal yells at me and gestures for me to take cover as the man puffs up his chest and points the Ruger at me. My vision tunnels down to the hollow end of his barrel, to his index finger as it squeezes the trigger. My entire body jerks backwards, and for a split second I think I’m hit. But as the man drops to his knees, I realize that what felt like the slam of a bullet was the recoil from my .44.

Again, I move forward. I bear down on the man, keeping the .44 trained on him because I can’t see the Ruger. His torso is folded over on itself, and his muted howls of anger assault my tender ear drums.

All of a sudden, he snaps his head up and growls with rage, then raises his arm and squeezes off two shots. I feel a burst of pain in my left shoulder, but it doesn’t stop me, doesn’t slow my pace as I stagger towards him and fire three rounds into his forehead. His mouth gapes open in surprise just before he falls face first onto the pavement.

As I stare down at the lifeless body, a feeling of sheer euphoria courses through me, momentarily overriding the fiery pain of my wounds. So powerful is this feeling that I almost fire another shot into the back of the bastard’s head. The only thing that stops me from pulling the trigger is the music that suddenly swirls through my brain. A song. A ghastly, grisly, wonderful song.  I lower my weapon and cock my head to listen as my partner races to my side.

 

(Key of A minor)
Hot lead hits the mark
Through his head, eternal dark
For human waste I feel no shame
In making haste and taking aim

 

 

ONE YEAR LATER

Orange County, California

ONE       

MONDAY

The problem wasn’t too much booze. The problem was too little coffee.

I heard the knock through a soupy haze, knuckles rap-rap-rapping a staccato rhythm on my front door. If I were capable of rational thought, I would’ve remembered why I support capital punishment, would have cheerfully administered the lethal injection to whoever was on the other side of my front door, doing his best Ringo Starr impersonation. Each knock echoed alarmingly inside my head.

A brief pause in the percussive solo made me question whether I was really awake. Then the knock came again. Harsher. More insistent, as if the asshole on my porch knew I was home, knew I was lying on my couch, where I’d passed out the night before.

My mouth tasted like the floor of a New York City pool hall. When I managed to pry my lids apart and was able to focus on my coffee table, I discovered why. Most of the ABSOLUT was gone. And apparently, I’d gone over my pack-a-day limit of Marlboro lights. Way over. The ashtray was brimming with butts.

I made an effort to move, suppressed the urge to heave, and reclined once more against the seat cushion. My head felt as though someone had crawled inside my ear and was now jack-hammering against the inside of my skull. God, I love vodka.

Another knock, this time accompanied by one word. “Sam.”

I recognized the low, just-got-laid voice immediately, hoped I was hallucinating but knew I wasn’t. I contemplated sucking the last drops of ABSOLUT from the bottom of the bottle.

“I know you’re home,” he called out. “Answer the door.”

I groaned, then dragged myself off the couch and groaned again. Every muscle in my body ached. I caught a glimpse of myself in the hall mirror and saw that the seam of the couch pillow was grooved into the left side of my face from temple to chin, my wavy brown hair looked like I’d gone a round in the dryer, and my eyes were like the Fourth of July. Red, white and blue. It crossed my mind that a good tooth-brushing was in order.

“Sam!” A note of impatience. Fuck the toothbrush, I thought, and slowly made my way to the door.

“Who—?” I coughed and cleared the sofa lint out of my throat. “Who is it?”

“It’s Jack,” he said, playing along. He knew I knew exactly who it was.

“Go away,” I returned. This was not a joke. The last person I wanted to see was Jack Hudson.

“Open the damn door.”

I did. He gave me a bored expression, as though he’d just seen me yesterday, as though it hadn’t been four months since I’d laid eyes on him.

He grinned. “You look like shit.”

“So do you,” I replied. It was a lie. He looked gorgeous, as usual. I hated him. Sandy-blond hair perfectly tousled, features that looked as though they’d been chiseled by Rodin, and a cleft chin so deep you could swim in it.

“It’s 7:30 in the morning, jerk.”

“Can I come in?”

“No.”

He looked past me into the living room. His gaze lingered on the coffee table as he took in the evidence of last night’s spree of self-loathing. I pretended not to notice. I turned away from the open door and headed for the kitchen. I needed coffee. And water. And I needed to get away from Jack Hudson and his knowing green eyes.

I shuffled to the coffee maker and reflexively lifted the can of Yuban sitting beside it. My heart dropped as I shook the weightless can. I thunked it against my forehead and cursed.

This had been my ritual of the past week: I’d wake up in a state of alcohol-induced agony, sightlessly make my way to the kitchen, grab the coffee can and realize it was empty. I’d satisfy my aching need for caffeine with the leftover Coke from the previous night’s pizza delivery while promising myself that I would drive to the nearest 7-Eleven and buy whatever brand of coffee they had in stock. But ultimately, my day would be sucked down into the miasma that was now my life without me ever stepping outside.

And still, each morning I was surprised when I discovered not a single ground of coffee in my kitchen.

I cursed again, because it seemed like the right thing to do, then felt my way to the sink and groped for a clean glass from the dish drain. Finding none, I fished through the dirty glasses in the sink, found one that was relatively free of scum and filled it with tap water. I guzzled half the glass, took a breath to keep from burping it back up, then polished it off. I raised my eyelids to their full height and regarded the empty glass. I wished it were a bottle of beer.

Jack walked into the kitchen and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. God. Even my eyeballs hurt. “Are you still here?”

“How are you, Sam?”

It was a cheap shot and he knew it. I chose not to answer, instead busied myself by rooting around my junk drawer, hoping to come across an aspirin or an Advil, or perhaps, God-willing, a Valium.

“What do you want?” I asked. My hand closed around a travel pack containing two Excedrins which had expired three years ago. With any luck, they’d kill me. I ripped open the package and popped the pills, swallowed them dry, then turned to Jack.

“I need your help,” he said simply.

I squinted at him. Squinting is a habit I’ve had for as long as I can remember and I do it when someone says or does something that I can’t quite wrap my mind around. Or when someone is being particularly stupid. Or, generally, when I can’t believe my friggin’ ears. Jack was familiar with my squint, had been on the receiving end of this unattractive trait more times than anyone else on record.

“I’m serious,” he said evenly. “We’ve got another D.B.”

My shoulders tightened and my neck spasmed in response.

Kick him out, I told myself. Use whatever strength you can muster and shove him out the door, slam the deadbolt into place and go throw up.

I wanted to do it, except for the throwing-up part since I hate to vomit. But I didn’t move, just stood there and stared at Jack. Because that part of me, that morbid, twisted, sick creature inside of me that lived for murder was suddenly alert. I’d tried to kill the creature with booze and endless hours hiding in the matrix of the Internet, thought I’d succeeded in destroying the beast, but realized I was mistaken when he spoke those two initials. D.B.

Dead Body.

“It’s John Randall’s daughter.”

I gave no indication that I recognized the name, but any resident of Orange County knew of the ex-Mayor, even a recent transplant like myself. John Randall had left office amidst a roiling sea of controversy. ‘Mismanagement of funds’ and ‘inappropriate behavior’ was the whitewashed version. Embezzlement and extortion was the truer name, not to mention the old Clinton-esque “it wasn’t sex” philandering. His daughter Millicent was an undergrad at UCI. I’d seen her photograph in Orange Coast magazine; too-blonde curls framing a heart-shaped face, bright white smile reminiscent of a toothpaste commercial.

I thought better of the beer, turned and headed for the fridge and pulled out a Heineken. I used to have a rule about not drinking before noon, but that was back when I gave a shit about my life. I offered a bottle to Jack. He grinned and shook his head as I popped off the cap and took a long swallow. The jack-hammering in my head mellowed considerably. I took another swig, grimaced, then finished off the bottle and tossed it into the trashcan.

“Same M.O. as Hannah Linklatter,” Jack continued.

I stifled a belch, then steadied myself against the counter. Hannah Linklatter’s murder had dominated the media several weeks ago and her killer was still at large. I tried not to read the articles about the case online, but couldn’t help myself.

“Millicent Randall,” I said, more to myself than to Jack. “The ex-Mayor’s having a bad fucking year.” I could relate. I glanced at the clock. “You’ve already been to the scene?”

Jack shook his head. “First on scene is some rookie, thinks he’s on CSI. Gave me chapter and verse on the body, like he was writing a damn book. Even announced her name on the air, the moron.  Anyway, it sounds like a match to Hannah Linklatter. Strangled, stripped, body dumped in the nature park behind Harbor View.”

”I think you’re mistaking me for a cop,” I said tersely. I went to the sink and ran the cold water again, splashed some on my face, reached out blindly for the towel that hung over the oven handle. I felt rough terry cloth under my fingers, grabbed the rag and pressed it against my forehead.

“Sam. I really need your help.”

I peered at him around the corner of the towel. The expression on his face was one of quiet desperation. I’d never seen it before.

A few seconds later, he forced a grin. “I’ll throw in a Starbucks on the way.”

Over the course of our long history, I’d never been able to turn Jack Hudson down. I realized that today would be no different.

“Give me five minutes to change my clothes.”

He glanced at his watch. “Make it three.”

 

 

My Spring Seven

Okay, so Spring sprang a while ago. Butterflies are fluttering through the air, the sun is shining, the sky is a brilliant blue. If I had my druthers, I’d while away my days relaxing on a chaise lounge soaking up the prose of brilliant authors whilst soaking in rays (and sipping a margarita made with ruby red grapefruit juice).  But alas, since I only have so much time in the day, instead of the Spring Seventy I dream about, it’s the Spring Seven.

The following are the seven books that have stood out to me over the past several months. I going to tell you why I liked/loved them, and if you want more detailed descriptions, just click on the book.

(BTW, for the sake of honesty, I’ll admit I read some of them in winter, but I couldn’t find a number that started with a W. The only alliteration option is My Winter One. Which would be a very short post.)

 

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  1. The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth: I loved this book from the very start. At its heart, it is a love story. The characters are beautifully drawn and Sally Hepworth handles the multiple POVs deftly. She also manages to mix humor and compassion when dealing with the issue of Alzheimer’s disease.41jTPkXy43L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_
  2. Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner: I’ve said it before, when I grow up I want to be Jennifer Weiner. I love all of her books, but this one–about a boy and girl who meet in their youth, then spend decades finding their way back to each other– spoke to me. It was funny, touching, heartbreaking and lovely, and I was engaged from the first page to the last.2016-02-01-1454357880-2655414-NoOrdinaryLife_cover2
  3. No Ordinary Life by Suzanne Redfearn: I read Suzanne’s first novel in one day, and not just because I was recovering from a back injury and couldn’t move. Her second novel is equally good. I connected with the main character’s plight as she tries to make the best choice for her children, her family and herself while succumbing to the lure of fame and the financial security that can come with it.download (3)
  4. Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. I don’t read much nonfiction. Some of it is dry and sterile. This book is not. It is rich with information about the creation of the 1893 World Fair in Chicago, the men who made it happen, and the serial killer who was on the loose in the city during that time. But unlike other historical nonfiction books it reads like a novel. I found it hard to put down.download
  5. The Memory Painter by Gwendolyn Womack: Womack weaves tales of the past into the present as she delves into the former lives and many incarnations of the main characters. Strong prose throughout, a clear thread through each of the lives, and a story that is both suspenseful and romantic.download (1)
  6. Deception by Jonathan Kellerman: Perhaps because I’m releasing the first book in my Musical Mystery Series next month, I’ve been reading some of my favorite series characters. Child psychologist turned sleuth Alex Delaware never fails me. If he were real, I most certainly would be in love with him. Is it any wonder that my real husband’s name is Alex…?download (2)
  7. X by Sue Grafton: What will we all do when she gets to Z? I love Kinsey Milhone as much now as I did when I first read A is for Alibi. And I am always amazed at an author like Grafton who can come up with absolutely unique plot lines and characters after so many books.

Happy Reading!

 


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Who Needs Mistletoe?

mistletoe

I was watching a movie last night and there was this really great kiss, and it got me to thinking about all of my favorite screen kisses, and I thought I’d write a blog post about it. But then I thought, it’s the holiday season, you should be writing about blessings or the perfect side dish for Christmas dinner or the rampant catalog onslaught that happens this time of year or how to survive Target when they’re offering 50% off ALL holiday items.

But then I thought, no. I want to post about kisses. So I grabbed a picture of mistletoe off the internet, you know, to make this post seem more holiday-ish, and here we go:

specialist10. The Specialist: Okay, I know. Not the most spectacular display of film-making, but when Sharon Stone and Sylvester Stallone start snogging in her hotel room, wowie zowie! This kiss leads to a pretty hot shower scene, but my post is about kissing, not hot naked shower sex, so let’s stop right here.

 

still-of-russell-crowe-and-connie-nielsen-in-gladiator-9. Gladiator: Russell Crowe is chained to a dungeon wall. Connie Neilson is oh-so-fair in her Sister-of-Caesar garb. Russell might be dead soon, if daddy-murdering Joaquin Phoenix has anything to say about it. Yeah, baby, if ever there were time for a kiss, this is it!

 

fountain8. The Fountain: Now, here again, one of the two participants in the kiss is about to die, so there’s desperation and need. And also, there’s Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weitz, two of the most attractive people on planet earth, even if she is sporting short, cancer-treatment hair. And again, this kiss leads to bathtub sex, but the precursor kiss is awesome. As for the rest of the movie, um, don’t watch it unless you’ve recently ingested a whole crap-load of mushrooms. And I ain’t talking about shitake.

thomas crowne7. The Thomas Crown Affair: When I tell you it’s the Pierce Brosnan/Renee Russo version, you will need no other explanation as to why this kiss, on the dance floor with her in her see-through black sheath and him in his tuxedo shirt with the top buttons undone, is a very delicious moment in movie kissing history.

 

blue steel6. Blue Steel: The movie is about a very deranged and homicidal Ron Silver who is obsessed with fledgling cop Jamie Lee Curtis. Her boss is a very hunk-able Clancy Brown. After she almost gets Clancy killed by handcuffing him to his steering wheel (duh!), he takes her home where they unload all of the stress and danger and urgency and fear and anxiety of the day onto each other’s lips. This kiss leads to you-know-what, and after the what something really disturbing happens. If you watch this movie, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

WhenHarryMSally_172Pyxurz5. When Harry Met Sally: This is an example of ‘We’ve been waiting the whole movie for this to happen.’ We know it will lead to no good. Harry is a rapscallion. Sally is high-maintenance. But gosh darn it they belong together. We’ve been praying for it. It’s like two wrongs make a right. And the kiss doesn’t disappoint.

 

chocolat4. Chocolate: Again, we’ve got a couple of hotties. No one is going to see Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche lock lips and think “Yuck!” But it’s the way he grasps her face in his hands and the tears of angst sliding down her cheeks and the explosion of chemistry between the two of them that makes this kiss a real doozie.

 

bridget jones3. Bridget Jones’s Diary: I’m not talking about the kiss at the end of the movie between Renee Zellwiger and Colin Firth. That kiss is oh so vanilla. I’m talking about the kiss between Renee and Hugh Grant outside the restaurant when he’s trying to seduce her. The slow-mo kiss, with tongue and saliva, is yummy and made me root for Hugh, even though his character is a total douchebag.

 

 

pretty woman2. Pretty Woman: Julia Roberts doesn’t kiss on the mouth. Too personal. Richard Gere doesn’t kiss on the mouth. Too personal. So when the two of them finally kiss on the mouth, the angels sing the Hallelujah chorus! I have to be honest here. This is not the most sizzling kiss. It’s not Against All Odds or An Officer and a Gentleman or anything. But it’s a moment so anticipated by the audience, we’re so rooting for them to get ‘too personal,’ that when it comes, we all sigh contentedly. This kiss delivers satisfaction.

catch-and-release1. Catch and Release: Jennifer Garner is pissed. Timothy Olyphant is caught in a lie he told to protect her feelings. Did I mention that she’s pissed? She slaps him across the face. He takes it. She tries to slap him again. He grabs her hand and pins it against the wall. She tries to slap him with her other hand (God bless her, she’s ambidextrous!) He grabs her other hand and pins it against the wall. They look into each other’s eyes. Then GAZINGA! This kiss goes on for a while. And it’s good. Really good. It’s rewind-and-watch-it-four-more-times good.

So those are my TOP TEN screen kisses. I have more. Maybe I’ll do another post at Valentine’s Day when I plan to release my first romance novel. But for now, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and keep the mistletoe at the ready to make your own top ten kiss!

Do you have any movie kiss favorites? Let me know for a chance to win a free copy of NOW AND THEN, my romance novel which will be out early 2016!


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Come See The Sexist Side of Sears

searsI don’t consider myself a feminist. I’ve never marched with Gloria Steinem or burned my bra or thrown out my pantyhose, although I have been known to ignore (read: misplace) my razor for weeks at a time. On the other hand, I’m not June Cleaver either. I don’t wear a frilly apron and wait on my husband hand and foot. I don’t call him Sire, or anything. I move my own furniture and kill my own bugs—except for spiders, which I remove from the house without causing any bodily harm, and not because I’m superstitious, but because that single spider has about three hundred siblings living right outside my front door who will storm my home and bite the crap out of me if I kill one of their brethren.

So, basically, I’m just an average Jane. I don’t take offense easily. I don’t have to make noises about how women are just as good as men because I secretly know that women are far superior to men and knowing that gives me a sense of peace that need not be shouted from the rooftops.

But, wait, I digress.

The other day, something happened to me that made me angry on behalf of all my sister-housewives across the land. I’d made an appointment with Sears to have one of their contractors come out to my home to give me an estimate on some kitchen remodeling. Let me repeat that. I made the appointment. While I was on the phone with the woman setting up the appointment, she asked for my husband’s name. I didn’t understand why she needed his name. I mean what if I was single? What if I was married, but my husband was in a coma fighting a flesh-eating bacteria? What if I had a wife instead of a husband? Wasn’t asking for my husband’s name somewhat presumptuous on the scheduler’s part?

Anyway, I decided to let that one go and gave up my husband’s name. To which she responded: “And will your husband be present when Sergio comes out?”

“Why, no,” I replied. “He’ll be at work. It’ll just be little ole me.” (That’s irony, folks, because I am neither little nor  ole.)

So, on the day of the appointment, Sergio called to tell me he had been double-booked and we would have to reschedule. He asked me to call him to chat about the kitchen. I did, but got his voicemail. He never called me back.

Now, my life has been busy, so I didn’t call Sears right away to reschedule. I figured I’d get to it when I could, or I’d hear from Sears sooner or later. And I did. Sort of. Wait, no. I didn’t. This is what happened:

Three days after the failed appointment, MY HUSBAND got a brochure in the mail saying: Dear Alex- Thank you for scheduling a free in-home design consultation…blah blah blah…etc.

Three days after that, MY HUSBAND got a post card in the mail saying: Alex, it’s time to reschedule your appointment with Sears Home Services…blah blah blah…etc.

Excuse me? Is it 1950 all over again? I’m sorry, but that is just totally bogus. MY HUSBAND did not make the appointment. MY HUSBAND had nothing to do with calling Sears. Had it been up to him, I never would have called Sears in the first place. And by the way, my husband supports the family, but I’M paying for the kitchen remodel. And do you know who I’M paying to do the kitchen remodel?

NOT SEARS!

Softer side, my ass.