30 October 2013

Revenge Fantasies, Anyone?

This month's theme is Digging up Bones: Releasing our Ghosts through Writing. Though I write paranormal and fantasy romance and am about to release my first urban fantasy, I'm not a supernaturally inclined person. I'm not much of a believer, though worldbuilding and researching various phenomena remains fascinating, and I certainly don't knock people who have different beliefs than me.

But releasing ghosts through writing could also refer to stress or memories. Or journaling, as pointed out by A Catherine Noon (http://paranormalauthors.blogspot.com/2013/09/dem-bones-dem-bones.html). Me, if I have ghosts I need to release, it's probably all the dad gum revenge fantasies that occasionally play in my head like movies.

I don't know that this is a particularly writerly trait--perhaps just a surly, mean one--but it does give rise to some interesting situations in my writing. I won't say whether or not any scenes in my books are taken directly from real life, but the feelings of frustration, the fist shaking at the lack of justice in the world, and the way difficult situations frequently turn out for the worse are things we can pour in stories if we choose.

Things we can even rectify, in a way real life doesn't allow.

Anybody else out there enjoy a good revenge fantasy?

***

On that note, I'd like to share the first couple pages of my very-soon-to-be-released urban fantasy, THE WHOLE TRUTH (http://jodywallace.com/books/the-whole-truth/) , where our heroine, who can see lies but has never met anyone like herself, realizes that her real life is about to change. To find out what wrongs she gets to rectify in the course of her story, I hope that this book will go live on Amazon and Smashwords in the next couple days!


*** EXCERPT FROM: THE WHOLE TRUTH ***

Chapter 1
I see shadows. But not dead people.

When they found me, they weren’t ninjas, just garden-variety men in black. Excuse me, people in black. The frustrating part wasn’t that they invaded my home but that I should have been expecting it. After all, I’m the only person I’ve ever met who can do what I can do. Besides write advertising copy. Anybody can do that as long as they have a penchant for buzz words and hyperbole.

No, as far as I know, I’m the only freak like me in existence. I should have been ready for this to happen. I should have had a bag packed, with stylish travel wear and airline-friendly cosmetics.

But I didn’t. They caught me completely unaware. I’m stupid that way, even if I can discover any truth by asking the right questions.

I got home from another late night, after a normal week at work, if there is such a thing. I unlocked the door, cursed it when it stuck, and had almost kicked it shut when I noticed them.

A man and woman I’d never seen before were in my living room watching my newest indulgent purchase. Wait, technically that would be my new Kate Spade purse. While it’s sparkly, it doesn’t do any tricks worth staring at. They were watching my widescreen TV.

The man rose when he noticed me, as if he always stood when a female entered the room. He inhaled audibly but made no sudden moves.

Had I surprised their….illicit TV viewing?

“What the hell are you doing in my house?” I asked from the safety of the foyer. I would have taken off without asking questions, but they didn’t seem aggressive. I mean, they’d been absorbed in Andy Griffith.

The man’s lips parted slightly. Then he gave a sharp nod.

“Cleopatra Giancarlo?” he asked, smoothing the lapel of his expensive suit.

“Maybe.” I propped the door open with my toe, tensed to run. “Maybe not.”

“I see you were working late again, Miss Giancarlo,” he said.

“Working late isn’t a crime.” Unless you were a mobster or something. When the man didn’t respond, I continued.

“Who are you people?” Let them try to claim they were friends. Let them try to lie to me. I didn’t step away from the door.

The man glanced at the woman. She shrugged.

“My name is John Arlin. This is my partner, Samantha Graves. We’re happy to meet you, Miss Giancarlo.”

Their actual names, and they were honestly happy to meet me.

Samantha reclined against the arm of my sofa with my cat—my cat!—in her lap. I hoped Boris got hairballs all over her spiffy tweed.

She smiled at me. Her teeth were unnaturally white. “Shut the door,” she said. “You’re letting in mosquitoes.”

I backed onto the porch, only to notice a gigantic man in a dark suit step out of a vehicle at the curb. He was nearly twice as tall as the car. He waved.

Safer inside or outside?

Outside lurked their giant. Inside I could see their masks if they lied. I went in, closed the door, and held my keychain at the ready. I’d read somewhere you could stab people in the eyeball with your key to incapacitate them. Provided you had the guts to do so.

“Please don’t feel threatened. We just want to talk.” John adjusted a sleeve and glanced at his watch. His dark jacket parted to reveal a crisp white dress shirt and…

Did I see a holster?

“You’re in my house without my permission. I feel threatened.” I inched into the room, toward the phone, my cell having disappeared in the depths of my work satchel three days ago. I knew it was there because I could call myself. I just couldn’t find the damn thing.

“I apologize for that. Time has become critical, and it was expedient to meet you in private, instead of making an appointment.”

Was it true? I squinted, trying to detect the shadow that formed around the faces of any liars in my line of vision. No darkening. He was being honest.

It occurred to me that John and Samantha could be the people who wanted to buy the house from my landlord. The old coot threatened to sell the place out from under me every time I complained about the parking lot, if you could call a ten foot wide section of rubble a parking lot.

John continued. “Dinner’s in the fridge. Pastrami and jack on sourdough.”

Good guess…but the sandwich put him out of the running for home buyer. “You didn’t break into my house to talk sandwiches. Why are you here?”

“We have some information for you about an opportunity,” he said. “Will you hear us out?” He had yet to display a mask, the shadow veneer that appeared in front of a liar’s face, which did ease my nerves. That didn’t mean I was going to let my guard down.

“Cut the solicitous crap. What do you want? My television?” I doubted it, because their car outside wasn’t big enough to transport it, but bravado seemed smarter than fear. “Take it, I have renter’s insurance.”

He stepped closer, and I became aware of the fact he was tall, not to mention built. I was short. Could I key-poke his eye or not? More like his throat. Wasn’t the spot between your collarbones vulnerable? I patted my non-key-holding hand against my breastbone to check, my heavy work satchel thumping my hip.

John picked up my cordless telephone from the bookcase next to the couch and extended it to me. “The minute we make you nervous, dial the police.”

“I’m nervous right now.” I pressed various areas on my throat to test which was most stickable. Nervous people did that, protected their throats, or their boobs. I guess they were protecting their hearts, not their boobs.

“Sorry.” He tilted his head down. “Would you prefer to eat first? You must be hungry. We got the sandwich from Mazio’s.”

How could they know my favorite eatery was a dive three blocks down on the east end?

An ugly suspicion rose in me. A nightmare of a thought. They knew all these things about me because they’d been spying on me. Watching where and what I ate, how late I stayed at work.

“I’d prefer that you leave,” I told him.

“We’ll leave as soon as we talk to you.” He stepped closer, still offering the phone.

“I think you should go now.” I snatched the phone but John held onto it, keeping me within arm’s reach. His nostrils flared and his pupils dilated, and for a minute I got the distinct impression he was smelling me.

“John,” Samantha warned. “You’re creeping her out.”

He shook himself. I returned to the relative safety of my foyer with the handset. Since Mondo was in the street, I could make a run for the neighbor. So what if he wasn’t home? They wouldn’t know that.

Oh, wait. They probably would. My fingers found the nine. I pressed it, then a one. John pursed his lips and fingered his Snoopy tie. Snoopy?

They waited to see if I’d dial a third number. If they meant me harm, would they give me the chance to call for help? Maybe I should hear them out.

We all stared at each other until Samantha said, “What a soft, fluffy cat. Is this Boris or Natasha?”

I contemplated the additional digit on the phone. “Why do you know all this stuff about me?”

“We know all sorts of things about you. That’s what we’re here to discuss.” The woman slid Boris off her lap and rose.

First thing I noticed was she was really short, too.

Second thing I noticed was she had on four-inch heels, Manolos, which meant she was actually shorter than me. Mine were two-inch kitten heels, the same rose pink as my tiered ruffle skirt and blouse.

You know, that thing about secret servicemen in black isn’t true. Samantha had on a tweed suit. I know tweed’s the new black, but I was pretty sure John’s Snoopy as the Red Baron tie wasn’t regulation at Ye Olde Agency.

“You guys aren’t from the CIA, are you?” I asked. “FBI? NSA? Homeland Security?” The main reason I’d kept myself to…myself was my inherent fear of the government and what they’d want from me if they found out. You could only tip off the cops so many times before they got suspicious, and pretending to be psychic only works on television.

Samantha Graves smiled, and her long-lashed, blue eyes twinkled as if we were sharing a joke. She had a perfect, shiny black bob without a hair out of place, and she couldn’t be more than a size three. I could hate a woman like that.

“That’s correct, we’re not from any of those places. May I call you Cleopatra?”

“Not unless you want me to finish dialing 9-1-1 for the murder I’d be forced to commit.”

I had yet to see a glimmer surrounding either of them. They had yet to answer any of my pertinent questions.

Shit.

They knew.

FMI and eventual buy links: http://jodywallace.com/books/the-whole-truth/

***

Jody Wallace
Author, Cat Person, Amigurumist
http://www.jodywallace.com  * http://www.meankitty.com  
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