Exclusive Excerpt: Wheelchair: Antarctica. Snow and Ice by Garrick Jones

Excerpt:

You can never judge an academic book by its cover. Simon Dyson, a quiet assistant professor, is a man of hidden depths. To the world he presents as a harmless, innocuous, shy and retiring intellectual. However, the man who lurks behind that public persona is far more interesting … and dangerous … and driven.

I shouted Marvin brunch at a cosmosexual café we both liked in the old kiosk of a park on the beach. It was outrageously expensive, but I felt guilty—well, not really, but every so often I liked Marvin to think I did. In fact, one of my crutches had tangled around his feet when he’d opened the bathroom door, and he’d tripped, cracking his head against the doorjamb.

We’d organised our guests for the night, and had just finished shopping for dinner and were loading up the car when I sensed someone standing right behind me.

“Hello, Simon,” the man said, leaning familiarly on the door arch of my opened hatchback.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you, Marvin,” another voice said.

“Too late, Cupper, I already pressed the emergency button. GPS will have the cops here in less than five minutes.”

I’d put two and two together quickly enough to reach for my crutches as soon as I’d heard Marvin say the man’s name. The tall blond man who’d spoken to me kicked them out of the way.

“That’s not nice, Felix,” I said.

Their quick glance at each other showed a moment of panic. I recognised the look. I’d seen it on the faces of punters ever since I’d fled to the streets when I was a child. It was the look of someone caught with their pants down. Shock at the realisation they weren’t as safe and anonymous as they thought they were. If we knew their names, it was probably pretty certain someone else did too.

Cupper, the short one who’d waved a gun in Marvin’s face on the day they’d come to ransack our house, went to grab my shirt collar. It was a very bad move. Even with my weight on one leg, I was still a fighter. I slapped his hand out of the way.

“Try that again and I’ll break your fucking nose,” I said. “Now, piss off before the cops get here.”

“Break my nose? Yeah, you and whose army?”

Unfortunately, some crooks had a more developed idea of their own mean streak than the reality. Neither of them knew how to look after themselves. I summed it up in a split second. Bodies angled wrong, tension in all the wrong places. They were used to using muscle and body weight, not combat fighting.

Felix hit the ground first—my signature shot, my powerful right hook, knocked him flat on his arse. If Cupper hadn’t reacted so quickly, I might have enjoyed the sight of the tall Scandinavian lying on his back, gaping, wondering what had happened. Instead, his friend, who’d taken objection to the suggestion I might break his nose, grabbed a handful of my hair and tried to land one on me before I could react.

Marvin tried to get between us, but I shoved him to one side. My knee came up between Cupper’s legs at the same time I headbutted him. He roared with anger and kicked my plaster cast violently, while trying to get a punch around my guard.

“Fancy-boy boxing is it,” he yelled just as I saw Felix rise into view over his shoulder. Cupper drew back his arm, clenching his fist—I couldn’t waste time playing games, so I slugged him good and proper. A short, brutal stab right on the bridge of his nose. I felt the bone crack. His eyes crossed briefly, and then he fell backwards like a ton of bricks onto the tarmac of the shopping centre parking lot.

There was a split second when all three of us realised Cupper wasn’t getting up in a hurry—I’d knocked him out. People who’d been coming out of the shops to their cars during the few minutes in which our altercation had been taking place started to gather around. A large man, around my own age, glanced at the cast on my leg and at the man sprawled motionless at my feet and called out, “Need a hand, mate?”

Felix drew back to throw a punch at me, but then realised he needed to save himself, and tore free from Marvin, who’d grabbed his upper arm. He smacked Marvin across the face, knocking off his glasses, and then fled down the central arcade of the shopping centre, the large man who’d offered to help in pursuit.

“My frigging glasses,” Marvin yelled after him. They’d been trodden on by either Felix or his pursuer.

“Are you all right, Marvin?” I was furious, but more worried about Marvin’s glasses than the ferocious pain in my leg. I glanced down. The wall of the side of the cast was dented—it looked as if it had been broken—and there was blood seeping over the top just beneath my knee.

“Simon …”

“What, Marvin?”

He was staring at the ground in front of me. A large spreading puddle had appeared behind Cupper’s head. It was then I realised his eyes were open, motionless, staring into the sky.

*****

“It was self-defence,” I shouted.

“I understand that, Mr. Dyson, but a man is dead because of your actions. We have to take you to the station to be questioned.”

Two police cars had arrived almost simultaneously, sirens blaring, lights flashing. I was on the ground at that point, clutching uselessly at my leg, almost screaming with the pain, and shouting at Marvin to call Squid, and after him Manny when Squid’s phone went to answering machine. “Tell Manny to get onto Mordecai Buttons,” I yelled through clenched teeth.

“No, you can’t handcuff me, I’m sorry,” I said to the police officer who was trying to restrain me. She’d tried to grab me forcefully by the arm to take me to the police car when I’d declined her gruff invitation to follow, but I’d shaken her off—admittedly, my reaction had been fairly aggressive. “You don’t understand. You can’t touch me. I have aphenphosmphobia … no, don’t touch me!”

She ignored me and tried to fasten one handcuff over my wrist—more aggressively than I thought appropriate.

Bad move. Instinctively, I punched her.

All hell broke loose.

Blurb:

Wheelchair is a slow burn contemporary psychological crime thriller about a man who suffers from both OCD and PTSD, a man who is unwittingly caught up in a cross-border war between rival crime gangs—a conflict that almost leads to his death, and more than once. It’s a study of compulsion and of disability, and of the many faces of emotional dependence and sexual compulsion. It’s about how some men cannot just love or make love because their hearts or their bodies lead them to it, but who can only connect emotionally and physically through self-imposed rituals which involve struggle or self-abasement. 

More About Garrick Jones – From the outback to the opera.

After a thirty year career as a professional opera singer, performing as a soloist in opera houses and in concert halls all over the world, I took up a position as lecturer in music in Australia in 1999 at the Central Queensland Conservatorium of Music, which is part of CQUniversity.

Brought up in Australia, between the bush and the beaches of the Eastern suburbs, I retired in 2015 and now live in the tropics, writing, gardening, and finally finding time to enjoy life and to re-establish a connection with who I am after a very busy career on the stage and as an academic.

Impressions: A Lesbian Detective Novel (Carpenter/Harding Series Book 8) by Barbara Winkes

Excerpt:

Mid-morning, Detective Maria Doss went on a coffee run and stopped by Ellie’s desk for a break and some conversation.

“So, do tell,” she said, taking the visitor’s chair. “How was the honeymoon? Didn’t you regret not taking more days off?”

Life had been busy leading up to those perfect moments, so Jordan and Ellie had agreed to take a prolonged weekend at a spa retreat rather than a longer trip.

“Oh, no, it was amazing,” she said. “Thanks, by the way.” She picked one of the hot beverages and opened the lid. “Caramel latte. It’s not so bad coming back to this—though I really loved it. The nature, and fireplaces everywhere…Even the naps were tantric.”

She didn’t notice her choice of words until Maria started laughing.

“Transcendent. That’s what I meant.”

“Still, too much information, and a bit cruel to the single lady.”

“I’m really sorry.”

“Don’t worry. I can take it.” Maria took a sip of her coffee. “You better enjoy the peace and quiet while you can. Cliff’s been grumbling the whole time…When he was actually present, that is. Funny how in his opinion, only the women have too much off time.”

“He said that?” Ellie frowned. “We had a vacation last year, and before that, I never took more than a couple of days at the time. I know Jordan did the same. What’s his problem?”

“The whole world,” Maria commented. “Anyway, I’m glad you had a good time. It’s been almost quiet…you know that never lasts long.”

“True.” After the past few days, Ellie felt fairly ready to face whatever was going to come her way. Besides enjoying the heavenly tranquility of the mountain spa, including sauna, massages and the hot tub, she and Jordan had talked, a lot more than during those days in Hawaii, when they’d still had so much healing to do. Many things had still been uncertain back then. Now they had a solid foundation that enabled them to look at everything that had led them here.

“Harding, where’s your partner?” She turned around to face Lieutenant Carroll who had left his office.

“I don’t know. I haven’t seen him today.” Ellie barely suppressed a wince when she saw the irritation in his expression.

“All right, then, Doss, you go with her.”

“Sir…I have a meeting with the D.A. in…” Maria checked her watch. “Seven minutes. I should be going.”

“That’s okay. I can go by myself,” Ellie offered. Much to his credit, Carroll only hesitated a brief moment.

“Sure. Arnold Robertson, the music producer, was just found dead in his condo by his bodyguard.”

Ellie was already standing, keys in hand. “I’m on my way.”

Peace and quiet were over.

* * * *

Officers Chris Atwood and Samantha Potts were on the scene, and a perimeter around the building had already been established. Ellie had to make her way through a crowd of press and bystanders.

“You’re late,” Atwood said, and she barely refrained from rolling her eyes. Atwood was about the only friend Waters had at the department. While he was younger than Waters, his antiquated ideas were even worse than the detective’s. He didn’t like that Ellie had made this step up the career ladder, either.

At the front door, she showed her badge to a concierge who studied it for an inappropriate length of time, and on the penthouse floor, a guard quickly followed her.

“Ma’am, you can’t go in there.”

“I believe I can,” she said, flashing her badge again. “Thank you.”

The apartment stretched over two floors, with floor to ceiling windows. Ellie had no time to admire the view, her gaze drawn to the body in the center of the room. In another corner, Casey Lyons was talking to a burly man Ellie assumed to be the bodyguard, and ME Melissa Adams was taking pictures.

Now was not the moment to get nervous. She had proven that she deserved to be here, she knew what to do, and most of all, it wasn’t her fault if Waters neglected his duties to the point no one could ignore it any longer.

She walked over to Dr. Adams, grateful no one but she could hear her heart that was beating loudly all of a sudden.

“Good morning, Doc. What do we have here?”

“You’re aware of who it is we have here, right?” Dr. Adams asked dryly.

“Yes, of course. Arnold Robertson, the music producer. I’ve heard of him, but I didn’t know he lived in the city.”

“Well, someone who didn’t like him very much knew. By the way, there’s a woman in the other room they found holding this,” she held up a gun enclosed in an evidence bag. “Her shirt’s soaked in blood.”

For a brief moment, Ellie wondered if it could really be this easy. She looked down at Robertson who had been shot multiple times. How had that woman made it past the bodyguard? Unless…

“The how is pretty obvious, right?”

“I’d be surprised if those bullets didn’t come from this gun,” Melissa said.

“Okay, let’s find out.”

She knew Melissa would want to know if her team could move the body. Ellie saw no reason why not, given the rather clear circumstances of how Robertson died. She wanted to talk to the bodyguard, and see the woman before they brought her to the station, wishing she could do everything at the same time—wishing her partner would take the job more seriously. Still being the newbie in the Homicide unit, she couldn’t afford to make mistakes.

“That means we can go ahead? Detective?”

“Yes. Call me as soon as you know more.”

Ellie walked over to Casey Lyons and the man she was talking to.

“This is Raymond Owens, Mr. Robertson’s bodyguard. He found him earlier.”

“I also found the bitch that did it,” Owens said angrily. “Are you going to remove her from this house, or what?”

Ellie sent an imploring look to Casey who supplied the information she was looking for. “Her name is Brandi Gilbert. She’d been a guest of Mr. Robertson’s a couple of times before. Those visits passed without incident, Mr. Owens told me.”

“She’s a hooker, if you must know. It’s obvious that she was after money, probably to pay for drugs.”

“We’ll get to the bottom of this,” Ellie assured him. “In the meantime, I’d like to talk to you at the station, just so we can clear up some things.”

“What’s to clear up? I saw her with the gun in her hand.”

“She threatened you?”

He seemed almost offended at that. “I disarmed her, and then I made sure she stayed put until the police arrived.”

So that was what Atwood had meant when he said she was too late. Well, neither Atwood nor Owens would decide the next steps.

“Okay. I’ll meet you at the station. Thank you for your cooperation.”

In an office off the main living area, Brandi Gilbert sat, sobbing, the officer in the room with her shaking her head.

“Has she said anything?” Ellie whispered.

“No.”

“Ms. Gilbert? I’m Detective Harding. Can you tell me what happened here?”

The woman looked up at Ellie with so much despair in her expression she felt a chill run down her spine.

“Have you arrested him yet?”

“Who?”

“Ray…if that’s his name.” She sounded nauseated, but that might be from the blood soaking her shirt. It made Ellie think of her first case…Bloody clothes didn’t always mean someone was guilty. On the other hand, she might be trying to shift the blame.

“Are you saying that Mr. Owens shot Mr. Robertson?”

She cast a frightened look towards the door, then shook her head.

“I did it,” she said.

On her first day back at work after her honeymoon, Ellie was apparently having it all: The murder weapon, and a suspect confessing at the drop of a hat.

Nothing was ever this easy.

More about author Barbara Winkes:

Barbara Winkes writes suspense and romance with lesbian characters at the center. She has always loved stories in which women persevere and lift each other up. Expect high drama and happy endings. Women loving women always take the lead.

A Friend in the Dark (An Auden & O’Callaghan Mystery Book 1) by C.S. Poe and Gregory Ashe

Excerpt:

Sam was digging into the potatoes, the over-easy eggs already broken open and soaking the home fries. He spoke in a low voice, his attention seemingly fixed on the food. “I hate this place. The city, I mean. I don’t like… people. I don’t like being touched. I don’t like loud noises. I shouldn’t have said what I did.”

“A hell of a place to come and investigate, then,” Rufus said as he pulled his own plate closer. His meal was a mirror of Sam’s. He actually never ate at BlueMoon beyond the occasional fried egg Maddie would slip him if he came in looking particularly pathetic. Rufus’s usual was coffee and sugar, so this was a hell of a treat. At the realization of his own words, Rufus’s hand froze where it hovered over his cast-aside utensils. “That’s what you’re going to do, isn’t it?”

Glancing up, Sam offered a small, bitter smile that seemed turned inward rather than at Rufus. All he said was “Yeah, I guess that’s what I’m going to do. Not very easy when Jake’s partner tells me he was shot in the forehead and has no gunshot residue on his hands.”

“Lampo’s a jackass,” Rufus muttered over the clatter of utensils being unrolled and falling onto his plate. He picked up the fork and licked butter off the tines.

“You know him? Jesus, maybe you can get a straight answer out of that dickbag.”

Rufus stabbed at his home fries. “Doubtful. What did Lampo say to you? Not about Jake’s forehead.” He stuffed the food in his mouth and talked around chewing. “I know about his forehead. I saw it. I tried to tell him, but Lampo wouldn’t listen to me—like I don’t know a thing or two about death.”

“I already told you: no gunshot residue. That’s it. Then somebody—his supervisor, I guess—came in. She must have put the fear of God in him because he wrapped things up and got me out of there faster than a twink with a hot douche.”

Rufus screwed his expression up, took another bite, and said, “You’re all class.”

“Have you ever had a hot douche? It’s like Satan himself is breathing up your bunghole.”

Jesus fucking Christ.” Rufus missed stabbing at a bit of potato, accidentally flicked it off his plate, and watched it land on the floor. He glanced at Sam again. “Lampo really told you there wasn’t any residue on Jake’s hands?”

“Yes. And he all but told me he thought it was murder too.”

“He said that?”

“No, that’s why I said he all but told me. He kept saying things weren’t typical—where he shot himself, the absence of GSR. ‘Pretty damn hard to shoot yourself and not have evidence on your hands’ were his exact words. He tried to say the case was open-and-shut, but when I called his bullshit, I think he might have agreed with me. Then his boss showed up, and I was out on the sidewalk with a scorched rectum.”

As Sam spoke, Rufus could feel a telltale prickle in the corners of his eyes. He sniffed loudly, blinked rapidly, and stared out the window. “I told Lampo. I told him that.” Rufus’s voice caught like he had a wedge of potato stuck in his throat. “Fucking Jake. Goddamn it. There was someone else there when I found him. The guy almost blew my head off. But Lampo—” Rufus made a fist and punched the sagging seat underneath him. The springs protested. “He’s never taken anything I’ve said seriously unless it’s filtered through Jake. And Jake’s dead, so he couldn’t say, ‘Lampo, you dumb fuck, of course someone shot me.’”

“What the fuck?” Sam said. “There was someone else there? And you saw him? Why the fuck didn’t you say something earlier?”

Rufus hastily wiped one eye and did his best to glare daggers at Sam. “I did. I told Jake’s partner. Who else is there—you? Fuck you.”

“Forget me for a minute. Lampo just ignored you? Is he dumber than shit? Lazy? What the fuck? And why were you even there in the first place? Were you supposed to be meeting Jake?”

Rufus stabbed at his home fries again. One bite, two, a third until his mouth was full and his tongue was burned. He washed it down with coffee and then cut a wedge of a pancake with the side of his fork. “Yeah,” he confirmed, voice low. “He had a job for me.”

“And what was the job?”

Rufus picked up a small container of syrup, the handle sticky. He drowned the pancake before eating the slice. “A pickup.”

“What were you picking up?”

Rufus sucked syrup off his thumb. “If I knew, I wouldn’t have been rifling through Jake’s underwear drawer earlier.”

For a moment, Sam’s face was tight. Then he said, “That’s why you’re looking for his phone.”

“Jake has to have record somewhere of what the job was. I tried his personal laptop but that was a deadend. He did most of his business on his phone. I figured finding that was better than letting my bare ass flap in the wind.”

“The phone seems like a good place to start,” Sam said; it sounded like a concession.

Rufus cut another wedge of pancake. “Sounds like you intend to stick with me after we eat.”

Sam’s knife and fork hovered over the pancakes. Then, with a casualness that seemed exaggerated, he cut into the mound of fluffy deliciousness. “It would be helpful,” he said, the words in time with the slow rocking of the knife, “to have someone else with me. Someone who knew Jake from here, as a cop. Someone who knows the city.”

“You think you can buy me one meal and I’ll put out?”

This time, Sam’s smile was a grin, and it was directed one-hundred percent at Rufus. “A guy can hope. Those dainty wrists and all.”

Rufus couldn’t recall a single conversation in his adult life that had this much sexual innuendo and didn’t immediately end with some guy punching him in the neck for being queer. Even after getting food in his stomach, Rufus wasn’t sure what he thought of Sam. Besides the obvious, of course. Sam was gorgeous and probably knew it, confident in his masculinity, and frustrating in conversation. So the dickish personality was probably fairly true to his character and not something Rufus superimposed on Sam merely because he had hunger pains and little patience. Sam was also gay—maybe gay?—definitely, Rufus was certain. And that was, on the one hand, sort of nice—the casualness with which Sam embraced his sexuality, the teasing, the possibility of someone to flirt with—but on the other hand, Rufus wasn’t any good at that sort of stuff.

Rufus ate some more pancakes. “That next bullet might hit its mark. I don’t make it a habit of walking headfirst into danger.”

Sam’s smile snapped out, and he worked on the food for a while. When he spoke again, his voice had flattened back into its former tone. “Then you could at least tell me what you think might be going on. Where you’ve looked for his phone. Anything that might help.” Then, throwing down the knife and fork, Sam pushed away the plate. “You might not care about Jake enough to risk your life, but I do, and I want to find who did this to him.”

Rufus stopped chewing the mound of dough in his mouth and stared at Sam. “I do too care.”

Sam raised an eyebrow. “Nobody taught you not to talk with your mouth full?” Then, that smirk ghosting across his lips, “Except in certain cases, of course.”

Rufus swallowed. “Wow.”

“I might have somewhere to start, but I want to know the rest of it. Where else have you looked for his phone? If you had to make a list, right now, of who might have killed him, who are your top five? What don’t I know that I need to know?”

“You’re serious, aren’t you?” Rufus asked with a sort of disbelieving laugh. “Jake was a cop—a good one. Any criminal in this city would want him out of the way. Anyone he’s put on Rikers who’s got connections on the outside could have done this.” But Rufus held up one hand and began to tick locations off on each finger, starting with his pinky. “I checked his apartment. I checked his car. I checked his secret apartment.” He said that and gave Sam the finger. “I checked trash cans, a nearby park—short of going through his desk at the precinct, I’ve checked everywhere for his stupid phone.”

More about author C.S. Poe

C.S. Poe is a Lambda Literary and EPIC award finalist author of gay mystery, romance, and paranormal books.
She is a reluctant mover and has called many places home in her lifetime. C.S. has lived in New York City, Key West, and Ibaraki, Japan, to name a few. She misses the cleanliness, convenience, and limited-edition gachapon of Japan, but she was never very good at riding bikes to get around.
She has an affinity for all things cute and colorful and a major weakness for toys. C.S. is an avid fan of coffee, reading, and cats. She’s rescued two cats—Milo and Kasper do their best on a daily basis to sidetrack her from work.
C.S. is a member of the International Thriller Writers organization.
Her debut novel, The Mystery of Nevermore, was published by DSP Publications, 2016.

Contacts for C.S. Poe

DREAMSPINNER PRESS: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/cs-poe
WEBSITE: http://www.cspoe.com
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BLOG: http://authorcspoe.blogspot.com
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More About Author Gregory Ashe:

Learn more about Gregory Ashe and forthcoming works at www.gregoryashe.com.

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