Through the wonderful coincidence of dovetailing deadlines, over the past five weeks, I have had to edit /copyedit/proofread three novels (multiple times) and one novella. All told, with the multiple reading passes, I have been through 640,000 words of my own writing during that time. Needless to say, my brain has turned to mush, and I have the creative energy of a lump of clay. Which means this is probably a good time to share a snippet rather than trying to write a clever blog entry. “Pros and Cons” is a Nikki Glass e-novella (about 1/4 the length of a full novel), scheduled to be released February 25th. It’s set between Deadly Descendant and the upcoming Rogue Descendant, when Nikki decides to accept a new client despite all the turmoil that’s going on in her own life. You don’t have to have read the books to be able to follow the story, although you will obviously understand the world and the characters better if you have.
In the snippet below, Nikki is meeting with her potential client for the first time, learning the details of the case.
“Tell me what happened,” I prompted. Heather had, of course, laid out the basics of her case for me over the phone, but I wanted to hear it all again in person, when I might pick up clues from her facial expression and body language. “Be as detailed and specific as possible, and don’t leave anything out, even if it doesn’t seem important to you. Okay?”
Heather grimaced and squirmed in her seat. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to guess that the reason she’d ignored the discouraging message on my machine was that she’d had a hard time finding a P.I. who would take her case.
“Don’t worry,” I told her as gently as I could. “I know you don’t have a lot of details. Just tell me everything you can remember, and we’ll start from there.” I pulled a pen and a notepad out of my pocketbook.
She nodded and bit her lip, then swirled her coffee around in her cup and took a sip as if fortifying herself. She sighed and put it down, looking me squarely in the face.
“I went to the bar called Top of the Hill on the first Friday night of December,” she said. “I don’t usually go out to bars alone, but I’d just broken up with my boyfriend, and I wanted to, you know, take my mind off things.”
I nodded at her encouragingly. “Go on.”
She cleared her throat. “Well, I met this guy, Doug. He was really hot, and he seemed to like me. We flirted, and I drank a little more than I probably should. We really hit it off, and, uh, I invited him back to my place.” Her cheeks pinkened. “We drank more when we got there, and I guess I was really plastered. I swear I’m not the type to fall into bed with a guy on the first date.”
I held up my hands. “I’m not the morality police,” I assured her.
Heather nodded and started playing with her coffee cup again, her eyes downcast. “When I woke up in the morning, he was gone,” she said sadly. “He didn’t leave a note or anything. I never got a phone number. Hell, we never even got around to telling each other our last names. I guess we both knew from the beginning that it was a one-night stand. I’m usually really good about using protection, but like I said, I was pretty plastered.” She reached down and laid her hand on her belly self-consciously.
It was less than a month since she’d had her little fling, so it sure hadn’t taken Heather long to figure out she was knocked up.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” she said in a small, plaintive voice as her eyes shone behind a film of tears. “I can’t afford to be a single mom, but the only other option I’d even consider is to give my baby up for adoption.” Her voice hitched, and she had to take a moment to collect herself before continuing. “Obviously, I don’t know a whole lot about Doug. Not even his last name. But he’s the father of my baby, and I believe he should have some say in what happens to it.”
I leaned back in my chair and eyed her with what I had no doubt was an expression of skepticism. She sounded sincere, and the expression on her face was one of imploring innocence. Maybe she was telling me nothing but the truth, and she wanted to find Doug out of some sense of moral responsibility. However, I was familiar with Top of the Hill, and it’s a decidedly upscale joint. The kind of place where you can’t throw a dart without hitting a millionaire. (Well, I could, thanks to supernatural aiming skills, but you get my drift.) I suspected Heather wanted to find Doug in hopes that he would be her sugar daddy, but it wasn’t my job to make judgments on her motive. If I found Doug for her, and he ended up making generous child-support payments, that was his business.
“So,” I said, sidestepping the issue of the white lie I felt fairly certain she was telling me, “what else can you tell me about Doug? The more information you can give me, the more likely I’ll be able to find him.”
There was a hint of panic in Heather’s eyes, and I suspected this was the point where the other private investigators she’d tried to hire had balked. “I can give you a description,” she said, “but not much else. We were flirting, not sharing life stories.”
No wonder her case had been turned down. How do you track down a man with nothing but a physical description and a first name? A name that could be fake, for all I knew. He wouldn’t be the first man to use a phony name when trolling a bar.
“Pros and Cons” is available for pre-order in the usual places, including Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble. I suspect most of the regular readers of this blog already know this, but since I get asked about it regularly with my other e-books: you do not need to have an e-reader to read this novella. There are free Kindle and Nook apps available for your smartphone or computer.