A couple of weeks ago I decided to share the opening of each of my stories with you. For me it’s a way to give you a little taste of what the adventure is about in an effort to draw you in.
Think of it as going to a vineyard and sampling the different wines. Maybe this one is too sweet. Or it’s too dry. But sooner or later, you’re liable to find one that’s just right. One that dances across your palate and makes your taste buds jump up and say ‘right here! Bring some more of that right here!’
So with that in mind, today I’m featuring “Vanishing Act” the second book in the Jamie Richmond series.
This book marks the first appearance of Linda Davis, Jamie’s best friend since childhood. In typical Jamie fashion, there is a mixture of a little romance with the mystery. I hope you enjoy it. And I'll throw in a couple of photos of what Linda might look like.
Malone was going to kill me.
There wasn’t a doubt in my mind. He was going to kill me.
I knew it in my heart, in my soul—right down to the marrow of my bones. From the top of my wavy red locks to the bright, red polish on my toenails, I knew without a doubt that it was a sure thing.
Malone was going to kill me.
That was provided I got out of this alive, of course.
He’d warned me time and again to mind my own business. Why couldn’t I listen to reason? How could it be that less than four months after I narrowly escaped certain death at the hands of a psychotic bikini-bar waitress, I found myself in another situation where chances of my survival were so slim? Only this time, it was not just my life on the line. I had somebody else counting on me.
Now it was up to me. I needed to figure out a way of getting us out of here, fast, because right now, time was rapidly running out on me. Make that us. There was no way I was leaving alone, but there sure as hell was no way I wanted to stick around. Right now, all I really wanted was to be back in my cozy little home, curled up on the plush sofa I affectionately call “The Jewish Aunt,” waiting for Malone to come home from work. But I knew that was not going to happen.
We were trapped. And waiting on the other side of that wall was someone who would rather see us sliced open on a coroner’s slab than walking out the door. And to help them make that wish come true, they were setting the wall on fire.
Malone may have to wait in line to kill me.
It was the day after Christmas when my cell phone rang. I flipped it open without even a glimpse at the screen. “No refunds, no exchanges,” I said.
“Jay Kay, where the hell are you?” a sultry voice demanded.
“I’m standing here in your apartment building, freezing my cute little ass off. And your door is locked. You never ever lock your door.”
“When did you get back in town?”
“Two hours ago. Logan and I couldn’t wait to see you. So where are you?”
I gave her directions to the new place. Linda was on her way.
Someone far smarter than me once told me that if we’re lucky, we’ll get to have one true friend who will always be with us, no matter what’s going on in our lives. They may not be in attendance each day, and there may be months when you don’t speak or get to see them face to face, but deep down you know they will always be there for you. And you’ll be there for them. Turns out, I found my true friend when I was six years old.
Linda and I met in the first grade and we became inseparable. A teacher once remarked that we were ‘twin daughters of different mothers’. I honestly had no idea what she meant. It was years before I took it as a compliment. Linda and I bonded. We cried on each other’s shoulders. We flirted with the same boys, all through elementary school, high school, and college. I was her maid of honor when she tied the knot, and the first person she called when she was getting divorced. We never bothered with pinkie swearing, a blood oath, or the spit-in-your-palm-before-the-handshake routine. We didn’t need it. We just knew.
As I ran from room to room doing a quick clean up from the sexual romps Malone and I had enjoyed before he went to work his shift at the State Police post, I realized Linda and I had a lot of catching up to do. On my way past the bathroom, I grabbed a damp bath towel.
In early October, Linda had taken a leave of absence from her job as a history teacher at the high school in Northville. Her mother, Gracie, had fallen and broken her hip. Years ago, Gracie moved to Raleigh, North Carolina to get away from the Michigan winters. Gracie had no desire to live in Florida, an area she considered nothing more than ‘God’s waiting room’, but she liked the warmer climate of Raleigh just fine. Knowing that her mother would need assistance following her surgery, Linda hadn’t blinked twice about taking the time off to be with her. The school agreed to her absence. She was due back at the blackboards with the first classes in January.
I heard the thump of a car door and a great deal of noise. Opening the front door, I was nearly bowled over by Logan. His enthusiastic greetings can be overwhelming. Kneeling in the doorway, I wrapped my arms around him as he covered my face with wet, sloppy kisses.
“Logan, baby, I’ve missed you.”
He didn’t verbalize a response, but I could tell he was happy to see me. Logan’s a golden retriever, the most well behaved dog I’ve ever known. I rubbed his coat with the towel, and then wiped his paws so he wouldn’t track snow or mud through the house. Once I released him, he scurried off to investigate.
“Jay Kay, you look fantastic,” Linda said as she swept me into her arms.
We hugged for several minutes without saying another word. Good friends can do that. At length, we went into the kitchen to make some tea. There was so much to talk about I didn’t know where to start.
On Christmas Eve, while Malone was at work, I had dismantled my cherry kitchen table and brought it from the apartment in stages. There was no way I wanted to have our first, true meal, Christmas dinner to boot, while sitting at a card table and folding chairs. Linda got cozy, shedding her scarf and winter coat, while I got the kettle boiling.
I took a good look at her. As happens every so often, a flare of jealousy flittered across my mind. I couldn’t help it. She was so damn gorgeous.
Linda is about five feet, five inches tall, which is two inches shorter than me. But there’s no mistaking the physical differences between us. Where I have a narrow body and very meager curves, Linda is blessed with both va-va and voom. She’s slender and curvaceous, a result of great genes, which makes her hourglass figure that much more incredible. Topping it off is a thick mane of curly, dark brown hair that rolls about her shoulders every time she turns her head. When the humidity is up, the curls just intensify.
If she wasn’t my best friend, I’d probably hate her strictly on principle.
But it’s Linda’s face that can stop traffic, or halt conversations in mid-word. Her features are the envy of fashion models. A narrow, aquiline nose, sparkling, baby blue eyes, and a Cupid’s bow mouth complete the package. There is nearly always a hint of mischief on her face, as if she’s in on a secret that if you’re really lucky, she’ll share with you. And her eyes can look right through you and touch your soul.
“Jay Kay, this is so unlike you. When we talked two weeks ago, you never said anything about moving.”
“What can I say? I suddenly had the urge to get out of the apartment.”
While the water was boiling, I gave her a quick tour of the house. Linda’s eyes widened when she saw the size of the master suite and the marble fixtures in the bath. Logan padded along with us, sniffing at everything that caught his attention. When we returned to the kitchen, he sprawled under the table. I set out a bowl of water for him within easy reach. Kicking off my slippers, I began to rub my bare feet on his fur coat. It was heavenly. We both enjoyed it.
Linda waited until we had our mugs of tea and a plate of Christmas cookies between us. Then she propped that lovely chin in the palm of her left hand, fixed those dazzling, baby blue eyes on me, and began the interrogation.
“I saw men’s clothes hanging in that closet, Jay Kay. There’s a razor on the sink and two toothbrushes. And you’ve been dodging my questions long distance about a new romance. But one look at you is all I need. You’ve been getting laid. A lot! So start talking.”
I felt the color rush to my face. Linda has always been direct. In some ways, she reminds me of my stepfather, Bert.
“Not much to tell,” I said, stalling for time. “He’s just some stud I picked up by the side of the road. He reminded me of Logan, so I couldn’t resist.”
“Logan’s a great dog, but he sleeps on the floor, not with me. I’m not buying this line of shit, Jamie,” she said with a gentle smile.
“Tell me about your mom,” I said.
Linda sipped her tea and took a miniscule bite out of a cookie. “Mom’s fine. Her recovery is right on schedule. She insisted we fly out early this morning, so I can get back to my normal life before school starts. I think she’s got a boyfriend and she wanted to get busy with him for New Year’s Eve. Now stop trying to change the subject and tell me.”
She looked so serious I burst out laughing. Linda threw the rest of her cookie at me. It bounced off my shoulder and landed on the floor by Logan’s nose. Before I could pick it up, he’d taken care of it.
“His name is Malone,” I said when the laughter faded.
“Is that his first or last name?”
“He only goes by Malone.”
Linda raised her eyebrows. “He sounds mysterious. I like him already. Tell me more. Tell me everything. I want to hear every juicy morsel, especially the sex parts.”
So I told Linda everything about Malone. It was dark when my story was done. I let Logan outside to do his business. We decided to drop him off at Linda’s place and go out to Mexican Village for the best Mexican food around. I realized we’d been talking for three hours, but there was still so much more to tell her.
Here are a few links where you can find "Vanishing Act"
Of course, there must be music. So here's a favorite track from Al Green.