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07/22 – MICHELLE MONKOU’S TROPICAL ROMANCE

Sunday, January 24, 2016

A Series by Any Other Name...

Available February 1
from Windtree Press, Amazon, B&N
When I started writing Styrofoam Corpse, I had no intention of writing a series, but a funny thing happened on the way to “The End.” As is the case with many authors, a secondary character got into my head and demanded his own book.  Presto: the second novel in my Corpse Series bubbled into being. Styrofoam was actually my very first novel (recently rewritten) and seven years ago, the series wasn’t the thing.  Thus my plan was to have a character from book one have starring role in another stand-alone book.

Fast-forward to today, where a series is pretty much essential.  I had two books set in a mythical North Carolina suburb with recurring characters, so all I needed was a series name and complimentary titles. Easy, right? I hear you authors laughing hysterically. Prepare to laugh harder, because my books (at that time) were titled Styrofoam Man and Love in a Burning Car.

Fortunately, I had gotten feedback from entering Styrofoam Man in contests; readers expected a Sci-Fi novel, thus that title had to change.  You’d think the leap from Man to Corpse would have been easy, but for me, not so much.  When my muddled mind finally made the transition, the word Corpse opened up a whole new avenue of titles. The victim in Love in a Burning Car is discovered in the torched vehicle and became Six-Speed Corpse. In the third book, the body is discovered hanging from a university clock tower, and voila, Seven-O’clock Corpse.

More important, all three novels feature heroines in the precarious situation of being the obvious killer. Perhaps I should subtitle my new series, “You’ve got the wrong girl.” 

Below is an excerpt from Styrofoam Corpse.  Many thanks to the Genre-istas for allowing me to share this with you.  I have you enjoy it.


Chapter One

“Not again.”

The acid in Derrick’s tone caused Casey Randolph to halt the tedious task of stirring his coffee. Both the deputy’s nostrils and his biceps flared as he stared at the caller ID.

His second-in-command jerked the handset from its cradle. “Sheriff’s office… Look, Welch.”

Welch? Every muscle in Casey’s body seemed to cramp in unison. The involuntary clenching of his right fist shifted his mug, sending droplets of coffee sloshing across his pristine, starched shirt.

“Damn.” He wiped at the specks on his shirt, hoping the caller wasn’t that Welch—the voyeuristic freak who lived behind Shannon, the new woman in his life who might be the one. Even if he hadn’t been able to share his good news.

He forced his fingers to loosen the grip on his cup and leaned over to look at the address on the display. Shit. It was that Welch.

The deputy grimaced and crossed his eyes. Translation: another crazy. “I’ve already told you once today, there’s no noise ordinance outside the city limits. We…whoa.” Deputy Derrick Johnson stopped rolling his eyes and sat straighter. “Slow down. Say that again?”

The deputy glanced at Casey, his expression a mask of tension. “If this is your idea of a joke… Okay, okay, we’re on our way.”

The deputy put the phone back into its cradle and scrawled the address on a yellow sticky note. “Guy claims someone got stabbed in a swimming pool.”

“Stabbed?” Casey’s stomach lurched upward, pushing all the air out of his lungs. The address scribbled in Derrick’s almost illegible handwriting, 615 South Run, belonged to Shannon.

Holy hell. What if it wasn’t a crank call? “Was the vic male or female?”

Derrick pushed himself upright. “Welch didn’t say.” The deputy donned his aviator glasses and tugged on the collar encircling his eighteen-inch neck. “So much for enjoying my cheeseburger. Wonder what time that loser started drinking.”

“I’m driving.” Casey grabbed his hat and checked his weapon.

Derrick stared at the coffee stains on Casey’s chest as he pulled the address off the pad. “I got this one, boss. You go change your shirt.”

“What the hell’s wrong with you? We get a call about a stabbing and you stand there jawboning about my uniform?”

“Well, Mr. G.Q., I know how finicky you are about your uniform and—”

“I said I’m driving.”

“Suit yourself, but what if there really is a body? You forget about your necrophilia?”

“Did you forget to keep your mouth shut?” Casey glanced over his shoulder to make sure no one else had entered the office. Derrick wouldn’t intentionally betray him, but he talked too loud. “And the word is necrophobia, you moron, not necrophilia. I hate dead bodies. I certainly don’t plan to hump one.”

“You’re running for sheriff when you’re scared shitless of corpses and I’m the moron?” The deputy made a sputtering noise as he buckled his equipment belt.

“Get your ass moving,” Casey ordered, refusing to debate the wisdom—or stupidity—of his bid for the sheriff’s star.

Derrick groaned. “What’s the rush? Welch calls about some shit every goddamn week. Last week, he complained about the neighbor’s stereo. When we wouldn’t send a cruiser, he reported a prowler. Carmichael said Welch called twice yesterday about that same stereo.”

“Just get in the friggin’ car.” Casey rushed toward his cruiser, not looking back to see if Derrick followed. He started the engine and accelerated before the deputy got both feet inside the vehicle.

“Geezus.” Derrick braced one hand against the fake leather dashboard and struggled to close his door with the other. “Take it easy. I’ll bet you a six-pack of Sam Adams there wasn’t a stabbing. And if there is a stiff, we’d better call your shrink.”

“Not funny.” The deputy had been a friend since junior high, but Casey’s forebodings zapped his patience with Derrick’s good-natured ribbing. Normally, he gave as good as he got, but Casey hadn’t heard from Shannon all morning. He clamped his lips together to refrain from telling Derrick to shut-the-F-up.

His bad feelings about Shannon’s neighbor fueled the heartburn churning in his chest. He didn’t believe in any psychic, voodoo crap, but every time he got a bad feeling in his gut, something bad happened.

“Yo’, boss!”

“What?”

“You’re going almost eighty. Maybe you ought to turn on the damn siren if you’re going to play NASCAR. You think you’re Jimmie Freakin’ Johnson?”

Casey snorted. He trusted his driving skills, but to appease his deputy, he turned on the turret lights. He left the siren silent. He didn’t want Welch, or anyone else, forewarned of their arrival. Glancing right, then left, he tapped his horn and blew through a red light.

“That’s okay,” the deputy muttered. “Stayin’ alive is probably overrated.”

On any other day, watching Derrick execute a death-grip on the door handle and stomp on imaginary brakes would amuse him, but the very air seemed charged with anything but ordinary. The creeps crawled out of the woodwork on Halloween, especially when the temperature hovered near seventy degrees. Casey just hadn’t expected them to slither over to Shannon’s house.

He maintained his break-neck speed until he zoomed into her driveway. Slamming on the brakes, he stopped his SUV an inch from her hybrid. Music blared, but not at the glass-shattering volume he expected.

Crawling out of the vehicle, he ordered, “Check the back.”

Derrick headed toward the rear of the house. Casey knew the deputy couldn’t scale the eight-foot stone fence surrounding Shannon’s backyard. Her property was a virtual fortress, but diverting Derrick would allow him to get inside and assess the situation without the deputy’s scrutiny.

When Derrick disappeared from his line-of-sight, Casey raced up the front steps and jabbed at the doorbell, generating a series of ding-dongs. No response.

He pummeled the door with his fist. Still no response. “Dammit, Shannon.”

Fishing in his wallet, he produced the single key she’d given him, the key he’d never used. Holding his breath, he slid it into the lock. When the deadbolt turned, he exhaled. Shaking fingers punched in the code to silence the security alarm. He hoped he remembered the right numbers.

Beep, beep, beep. The system flashed a green light.

“Shannon!”

He waited for a reply. None came.

Apprehension sent a wave of indigestion pounding at his gut. He did a quick check of the living room and kitchen. Nothing.

He flung open the French doors leading to the patio. Shannon stood on the opposite side of the pool. Holding an evil-looking jack-o-lantern.

“Casey?” Her voice pushed aside some of his dread.

His muscles refused to uncoil. After scanning the surrounding area, he let his gaze resettle on Shannon, all five-feet four inches of her. A smile radiated from her serene face and the October sun glinted off her auburn hair. (Still,) The relief he expected evaded him.

What the hell was wrong? He summoned his inner lawman so he could respond to the call like he had a hundred others, but the fog encircling his brain immobilized him.

Shannon looked like an angel. If he ignored the red stains splattered on her body-hugging tee shirt.

Blood?

His gaze involuntarily returned to the pool. A body?

“Son of a bitch.” A floater drifted in Shannon’s pool.

The woman he might love smiled as though the day were ordinary. “I did a good job, huh?”

He took a deep breath, trying to stop the gurgling in his stomach. A sure signal he was about to get more coffee on his shirt. Previously consumed coffee.


Other Books Available by Robin Weaver:

  

4 comments:

Judith Ashley said...

Wow! Your excerpt sure had me holding my breath!!! BTW: Love your titles!

Diana McCollum said...

Great title and excerpt! I really enjoyed your blog post.

Sarah Raplee said...

Awesome excerpt!!! This is a must-read series for me!

Lynn Lovegreen said...

Got my attention! :-)