Fiction

I write suspense fiction--much of it taking place in Africa.

"Strange Place for a Date"

This story appears in CEMETERY PLOTS, an anthology from Capitol Crimes

"Mary winced at the strength of Ed’s grip as he wrapped a weather-worn hand firmly around the neck of the wine bottle. He held the bottle against his chest and stabbed firmly with the corkscrew, forcing its sharp end into the soft cork. Nerves in overdrive, Mary’s mind shot in a dark direction: She didn’t want to think of the bottle as her own neck, or the cork as her chest, but once she’d let the images seep into her mind, heck if she could erase them.

Sweat trickled and itched every which-way across her skin, and the red and green plaid wool blanket she sat on wasn’t helping. Thank goodness it wasn’t August; at least in late September, the oven that was the Central Valley dialed it down to a bearable temperature by late afternoon.

A flurry of honking drew Mary to squint at the searing sky. A small team of ducks, in perfect V formation, headed in for a landing in the slough far down the sloping hill upon which she and Ed sat. Enveloped in the shade of an ancient valley oak, she exhaled with the ducks’ descent, trying to relax into the moment while still debating with herself at this late stage whether this date was a good idea." 

Get CEMETERY PLOTS here

"Manny's Angel"

This story appears in AVENGING ANGELENOS, an anthology from Sisters in Crime Los Angeles.

"It had been a hell of a week: old acquaintances dying, an inexplicable parade of tarantulas through my house and then I saw Manny Peña lounging in the sun outside Starbucks in Old Town Pasadena--just as if he hadn't been burned alive back in 1994 after all.

 

Spiders always made me remember Manny--and what happened that winter--so he'd already been creeping around the periphery of my mind. It's what helped me convince myself, that first time I saw him, that my mind was playing tricks on me. Still, I slumped down into a nearby patio chair and focused on remembering how to breathe until my body stopped shaking. By the time I pulled myself together and looked up across the street again, he'd gone.

 

The Northridge earthquake of 1994 conjured similar memories for everyone in the Los Angeles area: the dozens of deaths, the collapsed buildings and freeway interchanges, the gridlocked commutes for months afterward. People don't remember the fires and explosions--in trailer parks and other pockets around the city--as much. They didn't make the headlines because they weren't as widespread. For me, though, one trailer park fire remains seared into my mind--not only for the young man who died in it that morning but for what happened to him deep in Monrovia Canyon Park several days earlier."

 

Get AVENGING ANGELENOS here.

"The Water's Edge"

This story appears in FAULT LINES, an anthology from Sisters in Crime NorCal

"After lunch, we returned to our rooms for a siesta. It’s too hot in the middle of the day in Stone Town to do anything else. I rested under the ceiling fan, staring at the wall—and started noticing animal shapes in the plaster: an elephant, a giraffe, an antelope.

 

They reminded me of last week on safari, when we’d come upon lions eating a wildebeest. At first, I’d gagged at the sight of all that blood on the lions’ faces and the wildebeest’s fur. I looked down at my hands, and for an instant, I saw them covered in blood. 

 

Then I noticed my dad, and the expression on his face almost made me laugh: His realization of the absolute inappropriateness of this vacation—out in the wild African savanna, 'kill or be killed' and all that—had come a tad too late."

 

Get FAULT LINES here

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