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No Exchanges – No Returns (An Excerpt)

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Deadly Bargain: A Colors In Darkness Anthology – on sale Feb 14th

An Excerpt from my story:  No Exchanges – No Returns

Victor stood off to the side as Sabrina approached the strange man and his table of curiosities. The dealer swept his dreadlocks to the side and turned on the full force of his freckles and wide smile. “Good afternoon, miss. My name is Henri.” He waved his hands over the goods. “See anything you like?”

A phony French accent and olive skin, Victor thought as he picked at his nails. That’s all it takes to impress college girls.

“What do you have?” Sabrina asked.

Henri pointed to a trio of thick red candles with gold symbols carved into them. “These are from Marrakesh. You light one as you meditate, and it will help you focus your energy on healing.” He drew her attention to a gold chalice. “I acquired this in Madrid. It’s rumored to be from the treasures hoarded by the Knights Templar. And this,” he picked up a crystal spray bottle full of amber fluid, “is perfume from Cairo.”

She picked up a faceless ragdoll. “Let me guess. From Berlin? Or a nomadic tribe on the outskirts of Algeria?”

“No.” Henri’s coal black eyes sparkled. “That’s from Pennsylvania Dutch Country.” They shared a laugh. “I’m a traveling man who picks up things here and there. No one can give you a better deal.”

Victor tuned out the conversation. Passing off dollar store junk as valuable trinkets. Got to give him credit though, he’s obviously wearing every stitch of clothing he owns and isn’t breaking a sweat. Dude is wearing three or four layers.

In the middle of a story about Stonehenge, Henri raised his arms and a brief flash of gold came from inside of his coat. Now, Victor was interested.

Sabrina stepped back and wagged a finger at the dealer. “Oh no, I don’t mess with anything from Stonehenge; I’ve seen Halloween III.” Her gaze shifted back to the red candles. “I have a friend who I think will be interested in these. Is it okay if I take a picture?”

“Sure, but understand I don’t put items on hold. If someone else comes to me with cash in hand…”

“Do you have a card? If my friend is interested, I’d want to call to make sure the item was still available.”

Victor was dumbfounded. She’s getting his phone number? She’s seriously making a play for this dude, this wannabe pirate?

“What’s your name, miss?”

“I’m Sabrina.”

Henri snapped his fingers and appeared to pluck a business card from the air. When he held it out to her, she caught a glimpse of his tattoos. “Sabrina, feel free to call about the candles or anything else you may be interested in.” He smiled slyly and winked at her.

Blushing, Sabrina turned to Victor. “I’ve got to get back. Are you coming?”

Victor shook his head. “No, I’ll be along in a few minutes.” He waited until she rounded the corner to take her place in front of the table.

What will Victor buy? How will it change his life?

Get your copy of Deadly Bargain to find out!

New Story: Karma Suture (Forever Vacancy)

My story, Karma Suture, is one of 13 horror tales in Forever Vacancy – a brand new horror anthology featuring characters of color – out today, Friday the 13th.

Get a taste of the terror in the excerpt below.

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Karma Suture excerpt:

“No photography allowed.” The husky voice came from the tall woman behind the front desk. She polished the mahogany wood, pausing to admire her reflection.

“I’d just like to take a picture of the fountain,” Stephanie said. She was annoyed at herself for not noticing the clerk before.

“No.”

Stephanie approached the desk, sizing up this new obstacle. Was this woman with warm, cinnamon-colored skin dressing too young or too old for her age? She imagined that the black head wrap concealed a tangled mass of unkempt curls. When the clerk tilted her head down to meet her gaze, the silver hoops lining her ears clashed and clinked against each other. Her eyes, black and pupil-less, revealed nothing.

Shaking off her discomfort, Stephanie focused on the woman’s t-shirt. “Dyke and The Blazers? Is that a movie?”

“Band. Way before your time.” The clerk’s smile had a touch of menace. “Can I help you?”

“My name is Stephanie Boston. I’m a location scout for Bombast Films.” She pulled a business card from her purse and motioned toward a door in the back. “May I speak to the manager?”

“You’re speaking to Sybline Kretcher. the owner.” She tapped the gold plate bearing her name.

“Is it possible for me to take a quick look at a couple of rooms, look around outside and take some pictures? Currently, we are producing a feature film and would like to consider the Kretcher for one of our sets.”

“Want a room? You have to pay for it.”

“Ms. Kretcher, I just need a few minutes.”

“Mmhmm. Get a room for a few minutes and call your boyfriend over to do your business. I know that scam. You want a room, you pay for the whole night.” She chuckled to herself. “Have as many friends over as you want.”

Rather than protest, Stephanie took note of the posted rates and took out her wallet. The misidentification amused her. When she got back to her real life, this was one of the stories she’d tell—how, despite her professional demeanor, the owner of a no-star motel thought she was a prostitute.

The reception had been more welcoming at the other motels she visited. Other managers had given her tours of the property. The men were eager to show off their southern charm to a Yankee.

Stephanie handed over cash and was presented with a guestbook. She signed it and received a silver key with the number 228 etched in it. Sybline leaned back, satisfied. “Elevator is to your right. Do enjoy your stay.”

While waiting for the elevator, Stephanie thought she could squeeze the front desk and the proprietor into a shot if she took a selfie. As she lifted her phone, Sybline appeared on screen directly behind her. She yelped and whirled around. Sybline was at the desk talking to another customer.

The elevator doors opened and Stephanie ran inside. The last picture taken was a blur of her palm.

Want to find our what surprises are waiting for Stephanie in room 228? Read Forever Vacancy.

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