Thank you for stopping by That’s What I’m Talking About for today’s Mistletoe Madness spot. For a line up of all of the authors featured here and at The Book Nympho, and to enter the overall event giveaway for a free book (two chances to win!), please click on the image above or go to the kickoff post on November 26, 2014.
Today’s Mistletoe Madness author is…
Release Date: December 2, 2014
A short scene from Adam’s perspective in the Mindspace Investigations world.
The Twelve Days of Christmas
It was late at night, and I was tired. Bone-crushingly, terribly tired. It was Christmas Eve, and I couldn’t stop thinking of my mother, dead too many years now. I couldn’t stop thinking of Dane, my best friend who’d died too, also not too far from Christmas. Christmas hurt. Christmas had hurt for a long, long time.
The apartment building had a tree up, though I’d done my best not to put anything holiday in my apartment—at all—trying to avoid this moment. But it hadn’t worked. It never worked. And here I was, alone with my demons.
The Narcotics Anonymous group had a volunteer day set at the soup kitchen tomorrow morning. It would be a long day of back-breaking labor; with no cooking skills to speak of, I inevitably got put on pot-scrubbing and kitchen-scrubbing duty. That meant I had to sleep tonight. I had to. And I couldn’t get high, no matter how much I ached for it. I’d set this up months ago, knowing that they’d notice if I didn’t show up, and come after me. They’d keep me clean. And New Year’s… well, by New Year’s I’d be happy to be clean, a third New Year’s in a row, a happy day. I tried to think of that. Instead I thought of my mother.
I forced myself up and out of bed, turning on the lights again. I stood, in the small doorway between my tiny bedroom and my tiny apartment living room, standing cold in pajama pants and little else, rubbing my eyes.
It was late, and I was tired. But there was no way I’d sleep like this.
I lit up a cigarette, and got out some paper and a pencil, sitting down on the sofa in front of the coffee table.
Twelve days of Christmas, I wrote, more out of exhaustion than anything else. Twelve days of Christmas. Then:
- Something about a gold ring—I’d had my mother’s ring once, before I’d sold it. I wished I hadn’t.
- A partridge in a pear tree—nobody does this anymore, it’s just a stupid bioengineering trick. Nobody really wants a singing plant. They’re creepy.
- Two turtledoves—also sounds like a terrible idea from pre-Tech-Wars. Who would want a turtle-dove hybrid? I mean, really?
- French hens sound like a good idea though. Give them small fedoras. I was clearly tired, if I was picturing birds in fedoras.
I took another drag of the cigarette, and thought, for some reason continuing to write.
- Swartz said I should learn to be grateful. That’s why all the gratefulness lists. I’ll see him on New Year’s. Have to stay clean for that.
- I’m grateful for New Year’s.
- Do they really have piping pipers in the song? For kids? Think about it.
- Mom liked the red Christmas ornaments, the ones that came in that special box with the gold bow. She had me get that box out every year from the top shelf of the closet. Every year.
- Brian broke one once and she cried, and we spent all afternoon with the superglue trying to fix it. We glued our fingers together more than anything else. Mom hung it up proud, as broken as it was, but Martin—my father—threw it away. Not perfect enough for his tree, he said.
- Jamie let me stay with her on New Year’s that year, after the fight.
- I brought Mom the box of ornaments in the hospital. The nurses found me string, and I hung them up. That was the last day. I think she smiled. I hope she did.
- I hate Christmas. Cherabino should be working through this year instead of doing the family dinner thing. Or maybe I should have gone after all. Soup kitchens are lonely.
I put the pen down. I wanted with all my heart to fall off the planet, to use, to go get my poison and go back to that shimmery place where I didn’t care. There would be somebody who’d sell it to me, even on Christmas Eve after midnight. There’d probably be a lot of someones; the holidays were a bad time for a lot of people.
I sat there a long time, the smoke curling up over my head as I went through one cigarette after another. Then I called, finally, with the last bit of my strength.
Swartz’s wife Selah picked up. “Hello?”
“I’m sorry to call so late,” I said. Then a breath, and: “I changed my mind, okay? Can I still come over there tomorrow?”
A pause. “What time?” she asked me.
I calculated how long the soup kitchen would take. “Four?” I asked.
“We’ll see you then.” Then she added, “Merry Christmas, Adam.”
Then she put Swartz on the phone. I took a breath then, a real breath.
Nothing ruins a romantic evening like a brawl with lowlifes—especially when one of them later turns up dead and my date, Detective Isabella Cherabino, is the #1 suspect. My history with the Atlanta PD on both sides of the law makes me an unreliable witness, so while Cherabino is suspended, I’m paying my bills by taking an FBI gig.
I’ve been hired to play telepathic bodyguard for Tommy, the ten-year-old son of a superior court judge in Savannah presiding over the murder trial of a mob-connected mogul. After an attempt on the kid’s life, the Feds believe he’s been targeted by the businessman’s “associates.”
Turns out, Tommy’s a nascent telepath, so I’m trying to help him get a handle on his Ability. But it doesn’t take a mind reader to see that there’s something going on with this kid’s parents that’s stressing him out more than a death threat…
Alex Hughes, the author of the award-winning Mindspace Investigations series from Roc, has lived in the Atlanta area since the age of eight. She is a graduate of the prestigious Odyssey Writing Workshop, and a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America and the International Thriller Writers. Her short fiction has been published in several markets including EveryDay Fiction, Thunder on the Battlefield and White Cat Magazine. She is an avid cook and foodie, a trivia buff, and a science geek, and loves to talk about neuroscience, the Food Network, and writing craft—but not necessarily all at the same time!
In addition to fun blog posts, interviews, and exclusive excerpts, fans will have a chance to solve a mystery during the month-long VACANT blog tour! A “Clue-like” checklist is available to download from the author’s blog, to be marked off as readers visit stops along the tour schedule. Somewhere on participating blog posts will be clues (clearly marked) that will eliminate specific “Location”, “Weapon”, or “Suspect” options. At the end of the tour, a rafflecopter entry form will help Alex choose a grand prize winner amongst all who correctly guess “who dunnit?” based on the remaining options. There will also be individual blog giveaways for print, digital, and audio copies of Mindspace Investigations novels.
How To Play
Just like the classic game of CLUE, your job is to try to determine WHO committed a crime, in what SETTING, and with what WEAPON.
In our game to celebrate the release of VACANT, most of the clues will relate to the Mindspace Investigations world and characters.
At participating blog tour stops, you’ll find clues, clearly marked, that you can cross those off your checklist. At the end of the blog tour, you should be able to see who/where/what the culprit is by which items on your list are remaining. To be clear, the clues you FIND are not going to be the winning guesses… you’re trying to determine what is left at the end of the game.
Starting on December 20th, there will be a rafflecopter entry form on Alex Hughes’ blog to make your guess. A grand prize winner will be chosen randomly from the correct entries after the blog tour is over, on December 24th. What’s the prize, you ask?
Winner gets a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble, a signed copy of Marked, and a character from a future book named after him/her.
So be sure to check out all the stops on the VACANT blog tour and start solving the mystery!
Now, head over the THE BOOK NYMPHO to see today’s feature with Avery Flynn.