Stacey Carroll's Thriller Blog
So, I have been busting my ass to get the word out about my new thriller/suspense/romance novels over the last week. To say it's been a trying experience would be an understatement. Over the last two days, I've gotten more than 10,000 tweet impressions on Twitter and 10 to 15 link clicks. I think I am finally starting to get somewhere. However, I have narrowed the field to Twitter and Goodreads. Those appear to be the only things that really work. Twitter works well because if you turn on your analytics, you can see an amazing amount of information. Goodreads only works if you can figure out how to get OUT. And that is extremely difficult. I've only just now began to go beyond people who happen to trip over my Goodreads profile. The good news - I am finally getting somewhere. My metrics are looking great.
And now for that avia i excerpt
Adult content, turn away if you have innocent eyes or are underage
onward to the except
“What’d you say Stephanie was doing?” Brian asked.
“Going to the bank,” Avia said. “I would guess that she found out she doesn’t have a bank account and her millions are gone.”
“And crashed,” Brian said. “Well, that makes our lives easier.”
“She can’t think if she’s in a coma,” Avia said.
“I had the okay to shoot her if she suspected us,” Brian said as he walked over to Avia.
“Damn,” Avia said as she watched him. “Did you want this chair?” She stood.
“I do,” Brian said as he sat down in the chair. He grabbed Avia’s free hand and pulled her into the chair with him.
“Didn’t Benton get pissed at you for this?” Avia asked.
“He did,” Brian said. “But he’s not due here for hours, and I don’t think you’re going to talk about it.”
“There’s a lot of things we don’t talk about,” Avia said. She took another drink from her glass.
Brian sat his glass on the table next to the chair. “And how long have you know him?” he asked as he sat her glass on the table.
“Since I was six,” Avia said.
“And he’s content with things as they are,” Brian said. He unzipped the back of her dress.
Avia shrugged as she reached down and unfastened his pants. She pulled out his cock and began stroking it.
Brian pulled her dress down. He kissed her as he brushed his hands over her breasts.
Avia sunk herself onto his cock with a gasp. “Aroused?”
“Very,” Brian said. He shifted lower in the chair to give her more lap room.
Avia rode him, feeling his cock slipping in and out of her as they became more excited.
Brian grunted as he started thrusting from beneath her. He could hear Avia panting and moaning as his eyes started to roll back in his head. He let out a harsh groan seconds later as he came.
Avia gripped his shoulders as she started riding him faster. All of a sudden, she orgasmed with a scream.
Brian kissed her deeply as she relaxed against him. “I am not the only one who needed that.”
Avia smirked. “Maybe not.” She slipped out of his lap. “I need a shower. My bags are still in the trunk.”
Brain stood and zipped his pants. “I’ll get it.”
Avia tossed him her keys before walking into the bathroom. She turned on the water to the shower then undressed, leaving her dress on the floor. Reaching over to the towel bar, she grabbed a washcloth before stepping inside the shower. Avia stood in the back for a moment while the water heated. She stepped forward and rinsed herself then grabbed the soap.
Need more? You can get Avia I and Avia II right here!
you all know I love a good deal.
I think $2.99 is a good deal on an ebook. However, I've just discovered something rather amazing. While I was playing with the Gift the Book features, I clicked on "download a sample". Interesting. So, I didn't have the Kindle app on my phone. I downloaded it and logged in. Then I searched "stacey carroll" to find my books. It worked. You can find them on your Kindle phone app by searching my name.
I clicked on Avia I. When I did, the app notified me that I have $3 in kindle credits. Well, to my knowledge, I've never ordered a kindle book. I happen to prefer hardcopies, and no hard feelings for anyone who prefers hardcopies. I get it.
So, if you are looking to get the Kindle version for free! You may just have $3 in credits in your Kindle phone app if you've never had the app or used those initial free credits.
And here's the official text I got in the email.
s a thank you for downloading the Kindle app, we've added a $3 Amazon.com promo credit* to your account. Your credit will be automatically applied to your next qualifying purchase (including Kindle books), and expires in 14 days (see terms and conditions below).
You will also get more kindle credits for every other ebook you purchase.
Flight, flare, suspense and a dash of forbidden
Stacey's Carrolls new series Avia promises a good time and a great read. If you're looking for a new set of novels, these are the ones we recommend. Readers just can't get enough of Avia and Benton as they bungle their way through a 50-million dollar heist, navigating cops, criminal charges and personal problems while trying to make a fast buck.
What are readers saying?
what will you say about the book?
Avia I - Thunderstorms and .45s - Available on Kindle
1. Login to your Barnes and Noble account or create a new account if you do not have one. Barnes and Noble does allow you to use Facebook and Google to log into your account.
2. Go to the Thunderstorms and .45s NookBook Page.
3. Add the book to your shopping cart
4. Go to your shopping cart. If you have not signed in, you will need to sign in now in order to checkout. Once you are signed in, you will be able to pay with a credit card, your bank card, your checking account or a PayPal account.
5. Complete your transaction! The book will immediately be available for you to read.
6. Make sure you have the Nook App on your phone, computer or tablet.
90% of the people i personally know do not have bank accounts or credit cards. I get it. bank accounts are iffy, credit cards can get you in FINANCIAL trouble.
Well, there's a problem if the only payment method you have is PayPal. You won't be able to buy the book on Amazon. I just researched this when it was brought to my attention. It never occured to me that Amazon does not accept PayPal. Wow. So, where do you purchase Thunderstorms and .45s if all you have is PayPal. There are a lot of industries that are now running their payroll through PayPal. It's fast. It's not terribly expensive, and if you have a PayPal debit card, you can use it anywhere you would use a normal CC or bank card, but if you don't have that PayPal card, which takes a real credit card to get (visa, mastercard), you can't buy things on Amazon. Well, that's 90% of my customer base. They use PayPal.
paypal is accepted at barnes and noble
If you have a paypal account, you can purchase Thunderstorms and .45s on Barnes and Noble. They accept PayPal.
paypal is accepted at kobo
Thunderstorms and .45s is also available at Kobo, and Kobo accepts PayPal.
Are avia and benton the next romeo and juliet or bonnie and clyde?
Everyone wants to Know. Only You Can Decide.
Thunderstorms and .45s
If no one has told you lately that what you do and what you write are valuable, let me be the first – YOU ARE VALUABLE. What you have written is WORTHY! Your time, your effort and those hours of slaving away at your computer churning out words instead of doing something else are valuable!
You Are Worth It
It doesn’t matter what you’ve written. It doesn’t matter how long it is or how short it is. Your writing matters.
Writing is hard work!
You have slaved over the keyboard to write down your most important thoughts – whether they are fiction or nonfiction. You had an idea, and you had the determination to see it through. You finished that book. GOOD JOB!
You Deserve Recognition
You deserve recognition for your hard work. You deserve to see your book in print or as an ebook, and you can choose to go traditional or independent. That choice is up to you. So, if you haven’t submitted to any agents, editors or publishing houses, go for it!
Get out there and get your voice heard!
Thunderstorms and .45s - A break from all that hard work
CHAPTER 1--AVIA AND BENTON
Avia coughed, choked and gagged before hanging her head over the hotel toilet and vomiting. Once her stomach was empty, she laid with her back across the stone tiles and looked up at the ceiling while she tried to catch her breath.
In the other room, she could hear her cell phone screaming, alerting her to the fact that she needed to shower, dress and get the hell out of the door so that she could fly to Texas. She groaned. The noise did nothing for her heroin and alcohol-induced headache.
Avia crawled out of the bathroom and grabbed her cell phone off the bedside table before pressing every button to get it to shut up. She then yanked open the bedside drawer and fumbled for her pack of cigarettes.
After pulling one out, she checked the end. Avia barely remembered turning half of them into coco puffs before shooting-up and drinking far too much whiskey. She fumbled the lighter, nearly dropping it before she finally lit the damned thing and inhaled deeply.
Her lethargy and mental fogginess dissipated immediately, having been replaced with the chemical alertness offered by cocaine.
Avia picked herself up off the floor and looked around the hotel room. She was alone. For half a second, Avia couldn't remember why. Then, she remembered the argument. Benton had stormed off to get a separate room under the guise of sleeping.
“Fuck my life,” she muttered before turning and exiting the bedroom for the bathroom.
She needed to shower, dress, pack and get to the airport. She doubted Benton would show. Knowing him, he'd book a commercial flight and arrive in Texas hours after her just to avoid traveling with her.
As she stepped into the shower, Avia decided it was fine. She'd fly by herself. It'd make things easier since she wouldn't have to explain the condition of the Seneca or why it wasn't fixed.
Going down to Texas meant dealing with L, and Avia was not in the mood. Being ordered to travel down there today put her in even less of a good mood. There was a vacation in her immediate future, and she was tempted to take it by herself.
Avia finished showering. She wrapped a towel around her hair and one around her body before walking into the bedroom. Her suitcases were on the floor. She lifted the largest one onto the bed and opened it. Jeans. T-shirts. Socks. Underwear. Avia opted for a light summer dress and sandals. She tied her hair back in a sloppy ponytail and called it good enough. She wasn’t going to a party. She was flying a beater Seneca for 13 hours.
After dressing, she packed her clothes and took one last look around the room for anything she had forgotten. Her black zippered case was inside the bedside table drawer next to the hotel-issued Bible. Forgetting it was not an option.
She reached for it. Avia was 90 percent certain Benton would take a commercial flight. However, the 10 percent chance that Benton would join her stopped her from opening it. Instead, she slid the black zippered case into her bag. If he didn't show, she'd shoot-up in the air after setting the autopilot.
Avia grabbed her bag and walked out of the hotel room. There was no line at the front desk. Avia slid her card. Normally, Benton would have paid, but Avia didn't see him in the lobby and when the elevator doors opened, two elderly couples exited, embroiled in a debate over the best pain relieving muscle cream.
“The gentleman in the room with you?” the desk clerk asked.
“He rented a different room last night,” Avia said as she signed the credit card slip with the name that appeared on the card – Tasha Quade.
She crumpled and trashed the receipt on her way out the lobby doors. The weather looked good. It was still slightly chilly but nothing intolerable. By the time she arrived in Texas, it’d be 80 degrees.
Standing under the carport, Avia scanned the lot for the car before it occurred to her that she'd arrived with Benton. The car in the lot was Benton's, and if she stole his $80,000 Corvette, he’d kill her the next time he saw her.
Avia rolled her eyes. It occurred to her to call a cab to drive to the Dodge Stratus she'd left on the side of the highway, but that was weeks ago. If no one had bothered to steal it, it was impounded somewhere, which was fine with Avia. If it was impounded, no one would find it for years, and it was guaranteed the tow yard would eventually auction it to recoup their storage fees.
Avia walked out of view of the hotel cameras. Most of the cars in the lot were new, which meant automatic, preinstalled, car alarms. None of those would help her this morning.
She started to set her bag on the ground when a 1991 Chevy caught her attention. It was located at the back of the lot but closer to the street than she would have liked. At least, it was dark.
Avia stepped off the curb and walked across the lot, paying attention to any footfalls that might be behind her and sounds of the lobby doors opening. She didn’t hear anything as she approached the car.
She tested the door handle, betting the car was so old the door locks no longer worked. Avia grinned when it opened and tossed her bag into the passenger's seat.
Now, she needed a screwdriver. There was one in her airplane, but it didn't help her here. Avia opened the glove box. Car registration. Pen. Miscellaneous paperwork and a metal nail file. The file would work in a pinch, but she preferred to have the durability of a screwdriver, especially if she had to crack open the underside of the steering column. The nail file was more likely to break in the ignition than start the car.
Avia slid the switch on the dash for the trunk and heard it pop open. She stepped out of the car and walked around to the back. Opening the trunk farther, she noticed it contained a set of jumper cables, an emergency flashlight that plugged into the cigarette lighter, oil, antifreeze, windshield washer fluid and no immediate sign of a toolbox or a screwdriver.
In a car this old, there had to be a screwdriver. Even a rusty one would work. Avia dug a little deeper in the trunk and found a small box. When she reached to grab it, her hand was immediately assaulted by grease, spider webs and God knew what else. Avia gagged as she moved the box to the front of the trunk. She flipped the lid and immediately found the screwdriver she desired.
Avia closed the trunk and walked back to the driver's side of the car. She slid in and closed the door. She had two choices. She could jam the screwdriver into the ignition or break apart the underside of the console. She decided jamming the flathead into the ignition was the better option. Avia turned the screwdriver and listened. The car cranked once. Twice. Three times before the engine roared to life.
Someone was going to miss this later today. She wiped her nasty hand on the passenger’s seat, put the car in gear and backed out of the parking space.
The airport was a 30-minute drive, and soon she was walking around her Seneca with a flashlight, performing a needless preflight. These checks and tests were designed to ensure the plane was safe to fly. Avia already knew it wasn't. They were going to crash in the middle of a tumbleweed and cactus field. There would be an FAA investigation to determine the causes of the bullet holes and other suspicious damage. Technically, Avia needed a ferry permit for this mess, but she didn't want to deal with the paperwork or the fucking A&P who would sign off on it.
Avia walked back to the car. She pulled out a roll of duct tape out of her bag and started retaping the holes in the sheet metal. They didn't call it 500 mile an hour tape for nothing. When she was finished, she checked her watch. It was 4:30AM with no sign of Benton.
She pulled out her pack of Pall Malls and lit one, taking a deep drag. When she felt the rush of cocaine, she dropped the cigarette onto the tarmac and crushed it. She wanted to calm down not amp up. Avia made sure the second one was plain before lighting it and inhaling deeply.
She still needed to fill the hydraulic lines with a bottle of water. She had a second bottle for the landing. While gravity was great for getting the main gear down, it almost never locked the nose wheel into place, and Avia wasn't in the mood to wait for new propellers when she spun hers into the ground.
Avia crushed the half-smoked cigarette under her sandal and picked her bag up off the tarmac. She threw it in the aft cargo hold and put the bottles of water on the front seat. She was ready to climb in when she saw headlights coming towards her from across the tarmac. Avia hoped to hell it wasn't a cop or airport security. Though, she was confident she could talk her way out of both situations by showing her pilot's license or offering a blow job. She didn't care which. Whatever got them off her back and onto someone else's.
As the car approached, Avia realized it wasn't a cop. It looked like Benton’s new Corvette, but under the haze of the airport lighting, she wasn’t certain. Avia stepped down off the wing and walked around to meet the individual in the car. She was alone out here. There was no way they were here for anyone else.
When the man stepped from the car, she realized it was Benton. He hadn't opted for a commercial flight after all. Avia couldn't decide if she was happy or angry.
“Where'd you get that?” Benton asked as he stepped out of the car and motioned towards the 1991 Caprice.
“I wasn’t going to walk here,” Avia said. “And since you decided to leave last night, I didn’t expect you to be here.”
Benton sensed a continuation of last night’s argument and decided to avoid it. If she pushed the point, they could stand here and argue, but arriving in Texas at midnight was not preferable. “Is the plane ready?”
“Yeah,” she said. “If we want to land in Texas at some point today, we need to take off now.”
Benton nodded and walked around to the copilot's side door, which was misleading. It was the only door that led directly into the cabin. “Up and in, Captain.”
Avia stepped onto the wing with a butt-boost from Benton. She slid into the pilot's seat and started her preflight checks as Benton made himself comfortable.
Once the door was closed, Avia started the engines and taxied towards the runway. Since it was an uncontrolled runway, all she needed to do was make sure no one was landing behind her or at the other end of the runway. She also needed to stay below 1,500 feet, or she'd have to talk to ATC at the controlled airport.
Avia saw nothing ahead of her or behind her in the night sky or on the runway, so she pushed both throttles forward along with the propellers and stood on the breaks until the engines reached full speed.
She released the brakes. They were in the air and climbing 20 seconds later. Avia set the autopilot and leaned back in the seat. “Get comfortable. It's a long flight.”
“Shorter than a commercial flight,” Benton said.
“Just because there are no layovers,” Avia said. “The flight time is longer.”
Flying was notoriously boring at night. There was nothing to look at but lights. Small lights in straight lines and predictable curves indicated highways. Large batches of lights were towns and cities, and over the years, they had simply grown larger. Avia remembered when Indianapolis and Plainfield were two different sets of lights. Now, they were continuous, and the map indicated it.
Like most pilots, Avia found flying to be a serious exercise in not falling asleep interjected with moments of mortal terror, and given the status of her plane, she expected terror at some point along this flight. She hoped it wasn't until they crossed into Texas.
As they traversed across the early morning night sky, she could see Benton glancing at her periodically, but he wasn't saying anything. Avia didn't want to talk. What she wanted to do was keep an eye on the gauges, listen to the engine and pump crap through her veins until she passed out, but Benton's presence made the latter impossible.
To her surprise, the Seneca flew well enough. It wasn't perfect, but the autopilot seemed to be able to compensate for the increased drag and other factors that kept their airspeed low and the engines revved high, but Avia couldn't complain. They weren't crashing, and they were almost to L's ranch.
Landing at L’s didn't fill Avia with exuberance either, but staying in the air was not a possibility. They had flown the entire flight without refueling, and the extended tanks were almost empty. She'd get one, maybe two attempts to land before the engines shuddered and choked from lack of fuel.
Avia lined up her black and maroon Seneca for the straight approach into L’s private runway – airspeed 70 knots, flaps 10 degrees, gear down.
Forty-five seconds until touchdown.
She flipped the landing light switch. It flickered. Something was sizzling in the dash. Under ordinary circumstances, she would have turned off the lights, but L’s runway contained zero runway lights, and after a 13-hour flight, the sun was setting.
“The minute this plane lands, L is dead,” Avia said.
“You can’t kill him,” Benton said.
“There’s a 45 under your seat,” Avia said. One headshot was all it would take.
“No,” Benton said.
“Then you kill him,” Avia said as she compensated for the crosswind and added a second notch of flaps while checking the hydraulics’ gauge. Zero pressure. She had the water bottles, but it was too late to fill the reservoir.
“We’re not talking about this right now,” Benton said as he watched her. She was staring at one of the gauges. He couldn’t determine which from his angle.
“We are,” Avia said.
“Land the damned plane,” Benton said as he looked out the windscreen. The runway was approaching too fast and too crooked for his liking.
“It's a crosswind,” Avia said. “Be glad it isn't covered in tumbleweeds.”
She trimmed the plane for 60 knots, pulled the throttle back and watched as the airspeed decreased to 55kts. She pushed the throttle forward. Pulled it back. Fucking wind. Fucking short runway. Ground effect was not her friend this evening, and Avia watched as half the runway disappeared behind them.
Finally, the left wheel touched down followed by the right. Avia pulled the throttle all the way back and pulled the yoke to her chest in an effort to keep the nose wheel off the ground for as long as possible.
She suspected it was down but had no way to determine if it was locked.
The short runway had her slamming on the brakes much sooner than she would have liked. The nose of the plane dropped. Avia cringed, waiting for the nose down angle and grinding and shuddering that indicated her propellers were being destroyed by asphalt.
When it didn't happen, she breathed a sigh of relief. Avia kicked the right rudder peddle and revved the
engines, spinning the plane around and back-taxiing to the hangar. She turned the engines off for the last 10 feet.
They rolled to a silent stop in front of the closed hangar doors. The mechanics had long since gone to their cabins for the night. Avia was tempted to take a Jeep out to see if any of them were still awake. It wasn't that late – not yet.
Avia turned her head when she heard the door open. Benton was getting out. Avia was tempted to grab the 45 under the seat but knew Benton would confiscate it.
She moved over to the copilot's seat and waited for Benton to get off the wing-step. Avia was halfway out of the plane when she felt his hands around her waist, lowering her onto the dull-gray asphalt tarmac.
“They need to repave this,” Avia said.
Benton slid an arm around her petite waist as they walked toward the Jeep. “Money he doesn't want to spend.” He cast his gaze to the Jeep near the hangar. No driver. That was typical. The keys were under the floor mat. He’d drive.
Avia glanced at the hangar. “I need to talk to the mechanics.”
“Yes. Tonight,” Avia said. “It needs parts. They have to order them.”
“We need to talk to L and get settled. Do it tomorrow morning.” Benton tightened the arm around her waist and guided her towards the waiting Jeep.
Avia broke away from Benton’s grip. “It'll take days to get the damned parts if they don't order them tonight.”
“And just how are they going to do that?” Benton asked. “It's almost 8:30PM. None of our suppliers are open.”
“They can order them online, and the supplier will see the order in the morning,” Avia said.
“There's no online order form. They have to call. The guys have to pull the parts, and we have to pick them up,” Benton said. “There's no UPS in our line of business.”
“That is bullshit.” Avia opened her own door and stepped into the Jeep, making herself as comfortable as possible on the barely padded seat. Both doors slammed in unison. “Then, what are we doing here?”
“Probably that damned run L keeps talking about,” Benton said. “But seriously, whatever the fuck he wants.”
“You have got to be kidding me,” Avia said.
“Not kidding. The sooner we get this shit done, the faster we can leave.”
Avia grumbled and leaned back in the seat. “Fine.”
Benton resisted the urge to roll his eyes. It was a damned argument every time they came down here.
“What the hell is wrong with you?”
“Let's just get to the damned house,” Avia said.
Benton watched her cross her arms and shook his head. She was mad because he didn't want to fuck, left and got his own room. “Sometimes, people need to sleep. Your overactive sex drive can wait.”
“Then, we can wait the entirety of this trip,” Avia said. “I'm sure that would make L happy.”
“You're impossible.” Benton downshifted and turned the Jeep off the dirt road. If they were going to have this discussion, they were doing outside the view of the cameras and any patrols.
“What are you doing?” Avia asked.
Benton gave no answer as he parked the Jeep behind a line of trees. He grabbed the emergency brake and yanked. This was far enough from the mansion to avoid the cameras. It was outside of the patrol areas, and L seldom ventured out back.
Benton slid his seat back with one hand and unfastened his pants with the other. “Come here.” He grabbed her waist and spun her into his lap. His level of frustration was enough to give him a raging erection.
“Benton!” Her right leg slid between the door and the seat. The other settled somewhere near the emergency brake.
Benton silenced her protest with a deep kiss as he dropped his seat back. He clenched her hips and thrust. He expected a tight, angry membrane that would leave his cock sore for days. Instead, she was damp and yielding. “Ride it, and calm down.”
Avia shifted her hips. The feel of cold steel was not comfortable. “Buckle.”
Benton pulled it out of the way.
He lifted and lowered, sliding her along the length of his erection. They needed to remain somewhat controlled. The summer-ready Jeep offered no cover or sound protection.
Avia panted. He needed to thrust harder. “Benton.”
“No screaming.” His words were a whisper.
Her hands clenched his shoulders, mirroring the tension between her legs. Avia moaned, pressed down and undulated her hips until she could feel the head of his cock deep inside her.
Her eyes rolled to the back of her head. A tingling sensation spread through her body moments before every pleasurable nerve simultaneously fired. Avia screamed.
Benton cringed, grabbed the back of her head and pressed her mouth against his shirt. He should have known better. She always screamed.
Benton tensed and grunted as he came.
After a moment of recovery, Benton kissed her. He slid his hands along her sides. She was content now, and he wrapped his arms around her body. It was a quiet moment, a rare moment in their line of work.
“You are horrible,” Avia said.
Benton felt a mock slap and laughed.
“I am a product of my environment.” He kissed her again even as his eyes scanned the surrounding area. He didn’t see any guards – yet. “Are you ready?”
“No, I’m not ready to deal with L’s stupidity. We just walked away from a murder trial.”
“I know,” Benton said. “We’ll just have to deal with it as best we can and leave as soon as we can.” He had a feeling they had bigger problems than L. They’d left Michigan sooner than he would have liked. He had wanted to make sure they had tied up all their loose ends, and he was certain they hadn’t. He just needed to remember what they were so he could make the appropriate phone calls to have it handled in his absence, which meant paying for it.
Benton looked around. Still no guards, but they needed to get moving. “Come on.” He patted the side of her bare thigh. “The asshole is expecting us.”
Avia slipped out of his lap and straightened her dress.
Benton reached into his bag and pulled out a hand towel. “Here.”
Avia laughed and deslimed herself as Benton started the engine and backed them onto the path that would lead them to the two-story house.
Sometimes in fiction, we read a passage and it’s so bizarre that we’re not quite sure what to make of it. In Thunderstorms and .45s, one of those scenes involves a Dodge Stratus. Why a Dodge Stratus? Dodge Stratus’ weren’t particularly good looking cars. They didn’t scream power, and they were only made from 1995 to 2006. In fact, their styling resembled the Saturn’s, which were available during the same timeframe.
The Dodge Stratus was manufactured as either a 2-door Coupe or a 4-door Sedan. It wasn’t a particularly expensive car, and it certainly wasn’t a luxury car. It got you from point A to point B fairly reliably.
Given the fact that we know Avia is wealthy, why would she drive a Dodge Stratus from Florida to Michigan? She has to have other vehicles that are nicer, more comfortable and get better gas mileage. Yet, in the opening scene, we can see her and Victor leaving a dodge Stratus on the side of the road.
Just why did she choose that car? Tell us in the comments. Better yet, see if you can figure it out in the text...
Amazon Kindle: $4.99
Amazon Paperback: $8.99
Barnes and Noble Nookbook: $4.99
Kobo Ebook: $4.99
CHAPTER 3 – THE SETUP
via rolled over to view the clock. It was after 10:AM. She jolted into a sitting position and looked beside her only to realize Victor was not in the bed.
“You didn’t oversleep,” Victor said as he walked toward the bed, fastening his pants. “I woke up at nine, went downstairs to the menswear shop, bought some clothes and showered.”
Avia stepped out of the bed and stretched. “Is the water hot?”
“Should be,” Victor said.
“Did you find out what room Stephanie and Brian are staying in?” she asked.
“Not yet. I thought you wanted clothes,” Victor said.
“I do,” she said.
“Then shower, I have your favorite car waiting downstairs,” Victor said.
Avia walked into the bathroom, turned on the shower and stepped inside. It did not take her long to wash her body and hair and rinse.
Once she was dressed in her new clothes, she walked out into the sitting room to find Victor lounged across the couch.
“You ready?” he asked.
They both walked out of the suite and down the hall to the elevator not seeing Brian or Stephanie anywhere in the lobby or outside the hotel. The driver already had the back door to the limousine open and waiting for them.
Avia bounced slightly when she saw the black stretch limousine. You did get my favorite car.”
“I told you I did,” Victor said as he helped her inside before joining her.
“Where are we going?” she asked.
“There’s a luxury mall up the street,” he said.
Avia sprawled across the backseat during the drive allowing Victor to massage her calves as they talked about the upcoming job.
“Have you actually spoken to Benton?” Victor asked.
“Benton should be in town later today or tomorrow, but I haven’t talked to him, just L and you,” Avia said.
“Well, we’ll meet up with Brian later,” Victor said as the car pulled to a stop in front of the Woodland Mall entrance. A moment later, the driver had the door opened and both Avia and Victor stepped out into the light drizzle.
“Does it ever stop raining here?” Avia asked.
“Springtime,” The chauffeur said. “It gets better closer towards summer.” He closed the door and walked back around to the driver’s door while Victor and Avia headed inside the mall.
“He’s going to wait right?” Avia asked.
Victor nodded as he led her down the large corridor filled with various shops. “Where would you like to go first?”
“They have a Marshall Fields in here, don’t they?” Avia asked.
Victor nodded and walked them over to a mall directory. “Yes, they do. It’s down this corridor.” He pointed out the location of the store and where they were before leading her down the walkway towards the large department store.
Avia was practically hopping along next to him as they walked. She didn’t relish shopping, but she liked new things. “I’m going check out the women’s stuff once we get inside.”
“That’s fine. I need to pick up a few new suits and some casual wear,” Victor said.
Avia headed for the women’s clothing the minute they entered the store and immediately picked up three new pairs of Joe’s jeans before heading over to the racks of shirts. She picked up a couple of black lace cameos, a few Nike fitted tank tops, and a couple of button down dress shirts. She was happy with the boots that were brought to her last night, and she wasn’t big on undergarments, so she didn’t pick up any of those. Instead, she met Victor at the cash register between the women’s and men’s departments. “Shit, we actually have to pay for this.”
Victor laughed. “We do,” he said. It was one of the few times where they actually had to spend their own money.
“Do I owe you for this too?” Avia asked.
“No,” Victor said. “Leave your cards in your pockets.”
Victor whistled and shook his head when the cashier read the final total for his and Avia’s clothes. It was over two grand. He slid his card. “Let’s hope that is the last of the expenses.”
“I hope,” Avia said as she grabbed her bags.
Victor picked his bags up and walked with her back to the limousine. “Me too, but we have to dress the part for this. Do you even own any new clothes?”
“No,” Avia said. “I fly shit from point A to point B and no one gives a shit what I wear.”
“Then, this was a good investment,” Victor said. “Especially if you plan to do this type of work more often.”
“I don’t know that I do, but the flights are few and far between these days,” she said as they stepped into the limousine.
“L’s losing his damned grip on the business,” Victor said. “That’s why Brian is up here. He doesn’t have shit to do either.”
“Hopefully, this will pay off,” Avia said.
“We’ll all walk away with millions,” Victor said.
Once they arrived back at the hotel room, Avia lounged across the couch with a glass of scotch. She fell asleep for a brief nap only to be woken by someone knocking on the door. Opening her eyes, she saw Brian was now standing in the room.
"Hi, how do you like your room?" Brian asked watching Avia sit up on the couch.
"It’s bigger than I thought,” Avia said.
“She rented me a suite, too,” Brian said as he glanced around.
“I thought you’d be in her room,” Victor said.
“Not yet, “Brian said. “But I do spend a lot of time in there.”
“How long have you known her?" Avia asked.
"A couple of years,” Brian said, stepping further into the room and away from Victor who seemed to be looming behind him.
“You’re doing this to a friend?” Avia asked.
“I don’t have friends,” Brian said. “I am a hitman, and we need the damned money.”
“Well, I guess I should thank her for the room,” Avia said, yawning and standing. She had had plenty of sleep. Victor had seen to that by exhausting her right before bed. That thought caused her to grin briefly as it had been quite awhile since she had orgasmed that hard with anyone. Then again, the man was quite skilled, and she caught her gaze traveling Victor’s suit clad body before stopping herself and turning her attention back to Brian. “What room is she in?”
“2003,” he said. “I can show you.”
Avia nodded. “We’ll be right back, Victor.”
They walked out of the room and stepped onto the elevator at the end of the hall, riding it up two floors to the 20th. Stephanie’s room was two doors down from the end of the hall, and Avia knocked gently on the door.
“Oh, hi,” Stephanie said, surprised after she had opened the door to her room.
“I just wanted to thank you for the room again,” Avia said. “I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t picked us up.”
"It was the least I could do. I saw all those cars slowing down and then passing you.” She paused. “Say, why don’t you come down to the hotel bar with me?”
Avia glanced at Brian then looked at Stephanie. “Sure. How late are they open?” she asked as she glanced at her watch. It was almost 6:PM, and she couldn’t help thinking that the day had gone by really fast.
“They stop serving drinks at two, but they only kick you out of the bar area.” Stephanie glanced backwards and then spoke again. “Let me change shirts real fast. Come on in.”
Avia entered the suite with Brian and looked around. It wasn’t any different from the one she was staying in. Averting her gaze and making idle conversation with Brian, she waited for Stephanie to change. “Double beds in this one.” That was the change with this room. Her and Victor had a King-size bed. Avia inwardly groaned at that realization. She was going to be forced to sleep with the man every night they were here. Of course, part of her mind was wondering if that was actually that bad. He was well endowed.
Once Stephanie was ready, they headed down to the lobby and through the hotel’s massive restaurant to the bar. It was still packed with people, and Avia glanced around looking for anyone she knew. Thankfully, she didn’t recognize anyone.
“Come on. My favorite table is open,” Stephanie said.
Avia and Brian followed Stephanie to a table in the back of the small bar and watched as a waitress greeted them promptly, asking for their drink orders. Avia ordered Vodka as she glanced around the room for the third time. She was wrong. She did know someone at the bar. The bartender.
Avia excused herself and walked over towards the twenty foot solid black oak bar. She sat down on a stool near the end of the bar.
The bartender walked over to her a few minutes later. "Well, if it isn’t my old pal. I thought you were wanted in this state.”
“Not this one,” Avia said. “We miss you.”
“No, do not even try to drag me back into your shit,” the bartender said. “And from the looks of it, you’re still causing a lot of it.”
“I am perfectly clean,” Avia said.
“I saw that police chase down in Florida yesterday morning. Rumor is, you had something to do with it,” he said.
“Wasn’t me,” Avia said. “I saw the same chase. I don’t own any Cameros.”
“They zoomed in pretty close. I thought I saw red hair,” the bartender said.
“It was black hair,” Avia said.
The bartender grabbed a bottle of whiskey and poured it into a tumbler. ““You have to drink.” He slid it to Avia. “What do you want?”
Avia took a long drink from the glass. “I was hoping you could tell me something.”
“For a price,” the bartender said.
Avia slid him a $100 bill.
“Ask away, tiny,” he said.
“What do you know about the woman over their next to the wall?" Avia asked. “Sitting with Brian.”
"Long time resident of the hotel. She’s been here four or five years. Stephanie Hook,” he said with a shrug as if he were simply remembering a name on a credit card. “Rumor is, she’s got a lot of money, and she has a hell of a drinking problem.” He looked at Avia “Why?”
Avia shrugged. “I like to know who’s buying my drinks. You know I don’t want to get stuck with the tab.”
The bartender laughed. “Oh yeah, I know all right. Did you ever pay for a damned drink down in Florida?”
She shook her head. “I don’t think so. I still don’t pay for them.”
“Who do you have paying for them now? Brian? Benton? Some old dude with a yacht?”
“Any of the above, depending on the night,” Avia said.
“All right. Well, I know your friends. I know your family, and I know what you guys do.” He leaned in close. “And let me give you some advice. You are not the first person to try and woo her from her bank accounts, and every son of a bitch Casanova and Romeo has failed so far. We place bets on that crap back here.”
“Well, if you place your bets on her this time, don’t come crying to me when you lose,” Avia said. She took another long drink from the tumbler in front of her.
"You need to take your friends and go on back to Florida,” the bartender said. “I’m not kidding. No one has ever succeeded, and I’ve seen at least four in the last three years.”
“Is she that smart?” Avia asked.
“No,” the bartender said. “She doesn’t know, but somehow the cops find out.”
“You have got to be kidding me,” Avia said. “Who’s ratting them out?”
The bartender shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s got to be someone in the hotel or close to her.”
“Are you?” Avia said.
“Do I look like I want a new decorative hole in the back of my head?” the bartender asked.
“If she tips well, you might,” Avia said.
“It’s not me. If you ask me, it’s either the dude sitting with her now or the hotel manager,” the bartender said.
Avia finished her drink. “Are you lying to me?”
“On my honor, woman,” the bartender said.
Avia nodded. “All right. Thanks.”
“Be careful or that spotless criminal record you and your family has could be tarnished,” he said.
“If you ever need a job, come back. We’d love to have you again,” Avia said as she stood.
“You’re dad’s fucking crazy. No way in hell,” he said.
“You never know. The offer is always open.” She walked back to the table with Stephanie and Brian.
She wasn’t terribly worried about what the bartender had said. After all, Benton was coming in to town, and she already had Victor and Brian. Turning her attention towards the table, she noticed Brian and Stephanie deep in a conversation. Avia simply sat down and took a sip from her drink. Another drink had already been brought to the table, and she noticed that three glasses were now sitting in front of Stephanie, two of which were empty, the third glass half empty.
"How long was I gone?" Avia asked.
"About a half an hour,” Stephanie said. "When the waitress came back she said you had a phone call."
"Yeah, it was a business call from the investors that stood us up last night. They said they had found a better investment after they had canceled our meeting." Avia said as she took another drink from her glass.
Stephanie glanced at her watch. “They called you this late in the evening? And how did they know you were here?”
"They gave me their home phone number and told me to call if I had any questions. After getting ditched last night, I had questions," Avia said before changing the subject. "What are you drinking?"
"Scotch,” Stephanie said. "I saw you took the hotel limo out today. Do you need a car?"
Avia blinked. “Well, I suppose a car would be nice, but I haven’t gotten around to getting a rental just yet.”
"Do you like Corvettes?" Stephanie asked.
"I guess,” Avia said. She glanced at Brian who shrugged.
"Well, how bout I take you out tomorrow around noon, and we take a look at a few?" Stephanie asked.
“No,” Avia said. “That’s ridiculous. You don’t even know me, and I don’t know you.”
Avia was now concerned. She didn’t think it was the hotel manager. She thought it was Stephanie. No one was this generous. Avia had the strangest feeling Stephanie was trying to reverse con her.
Stephanie started to say something when the bartender walked over to the table.
“Can I bother the red-head for a moment?” he asked.
“Certainly,” Stephanie said.
The bartender helped her out of her seat and walked with her toward the back room. “You looked like you were about to kill someone.”
“She just offered to buy me a car,” Avia said.
“What?” he asked.
“She just offered to buy me a car,” Avia said. “Is she fucking nuts?”
“She may be testing you. What’d you say?” he asked.
“I said no,” Avia said.
“Good. Well, the real reason I pulled you away is that there’s a poker game in the back. I thought you might be interested.”
“Has it started?” Avia asked.
“No, I told them I knew someone else that might want in,” he said.
“I’m in." Avia said.
The bartender led her to the back room to where seven other men were seated around a poker table. “This is the Tasha I was telling you about.”
"Is she any good?” one of the men asked.
“Better than you,” Avia said as she took a seat.
“We’ll see. Hope you brought your money,” the man said.
Another man began shuffling the cards and dealing them. "Five card stud, deuces wild."
"Ten in for the ante," the first man said and waited until everyone had placed their bills in the center of the table.
"I raise ten," the man said sitting to the right of the dealer. The raise was matched and everyone passed except Avia, the dealer and the man to the right of him.
Avia was looking at three Queens, a two and an Ace. “I raise fifty."
"I pass," the dealer said.
"Well, I don’t," the man said and raised it ten more. Avia matched his raise and called. She then waited for everyone to lay down their cards before laying her own on the table face up.
"I have three Aces," the man said confidently.
“I have a Full House,” Avia said and raked in the money... The waitress walked into the back room. "Can I get anybody anything?”
Avia ordered a shot of vodka while the rest ordered whiskey. When the waitress finally brought their drinks they were well into their third hand.
Three hours later the group broke up, and Avia walked out into the front room sitting down at the bar. "What time is it?” Avia asked, noticing that most of the patrons had cleared out of the bar.
"It’s just after midnight,” he said as he began wiping down the bar.
"When did Stephanie and Brian leave?"
"About thirty minutes ago,” he said as he rummaged under the counter. He pulled out a napkin with writing on it. “She said that she’d meet you in the lobby at noon tomorrow.”
Avia laughed, amused, taking the napkin and crumpling it. “Okay. Can I get another drink then, and has Victor been down?”
The bartender handed her a glass of scotch and shook his head. “I haven’t seen him all night.”
Avia sighed. “I swear all he does is hole himself up in the hotel rooms and doesn’t do any work.”
The bartender chuckled. “Perhaps you should go motivate him.”
The grin appearing on Avia’s face was all telling. However, instead of responding to him, she asked. “I’ll be seeing you later?”
“You know it,” the bartender said. “Now go get some sleep.”
She laughed as she exited the bar and walked out into the lobby. Taking the elevator up to the 18th floor, she walked into the suite a few minutes later and saw Victor asleep in the huge bed. He looked exhausted, and Avia wondered how that was possible since he hadn’t done anything all day except take her shopping.
Avia decided to take a quick shower and walked into the bathroom. When she came out Victor was lying on his side on the bed, staring at the bathroom door. "You’re finally back."
Avia nodded. "You were asleep when I in. I didn’t think you’d want to be woken." She paused momentarily. “And Stephanie offered to buy me a Corvette."
Victor sat up on the edge of the bed. “What did you say to that?
"I said no,” Avia said. “I’m not letting her buy me a damned car.”
“Good,” Victor said. “That’s weird.”
“That’s what I thought,” Avia said as she walked over to the mini-bar and poured herself a drink.
“That’s not normal,” Victor said. “Sounds like she’s trying to play you.”
“Exactly what I thought,” Avia said.
“Does Brian know?” Victor asked.
“He was sitting right there,” Avia said.
“Good,” he said. “We’ll have to watch that. If she makes anymore of those offers, we may have to pull the plug.”
“Well, I haven’t seen Benton yet,” Avia said. “He may have some different thoughts.”
“He might,” Victor said. “It’s definitely cause for a team meeting. What are you doing later today?”
“I guess Stephanie wants to meet me in the lobby at noon,” Avia said.
“Keep that appointment,” Victor said.
“I was going to cancel it. I think that’s more of that car shit,” Avia said.
“Keep it. We need her to trust us,” Victor said.
“But I don’t trust her,” Avia said.
“You don’t have to,” Victor said. “You are trying to get her to trust you so you can get paid.”
Avia nodded. “Well, what were you doing all day?”
“Watching,” Victor said as he stood from the bed. “Follow me.”
Avia stood and followed Victor into the second bedroom. “Holy shit. What the hell are all those computer monitors?”
“Cameras,” Victor said. “I spent most of this time hacking into the security system. I can see every floor, the lobby, the bar, the elevators, and I even found the security cameras inside Stephanie’s hotel room.” He pointed.
“No wonder you looked exhausted,” Avia said. She suddenly looked around their suite. “Are there cameras in here?”
“They are just inside hers for some reason,” Victor said. “And the top penthouse on the 21st floor.”
“I didn’t count a twenty-first floor?” Avia said.
“It’s not visible from the ground. It’s located in the center of the roof,” Victor said. “Extremely private.”
Avia laid across the bed. “So what did you see?”
“Not much yet, but I’m also recording,” Victor said.
“That could be useful,” Avia said.
“I think so,” Victor said.
Avia glanced at the clock. “What in the hell did you do to me last night? I am far too exhausted tonight.”
Victor laughed. “I think that’s your body telling you that you can’t stay up for weeks at a time.”
“Bite me,” Avia said as she pulled out the money she had won during the poker games. When she finished organizing and counting, she had ten grand.
"Where did you get all that money?" Victor asked.
"I won it downstairs playing poker,” Avia said.
Victor looked at her. “Playing poker?”
“The bartender was our old informant,” Avia said.
“And we haven’t killed him yet?” Victor asked.
“He’s still useful,” Avia said. “And now we have money.” She handed him a stack of one-hundred dollar bills.
Victor laughed. “All right, but if he blabs, I’m killing him.”
“Fine,” Avia said. “I need another drink.”
“No, you don’t,” Victor said. He placed the stack of money inside a drawer and walked over to her.
“Yes, I do,” Avia said.
Victor lifted her off the bed and carried her into the master bedroom. “You need to sleep. You have to be awake and alert by noon.”
Avia sighed. “I am not interested in sleeping.”
“I know you’re not,” Victor said. “But it’s almost one in the morning. I’m exhausted, and I’m not allowing you to stay up all night.” He sat her on her feet next to the bed. “This is a serious job. You can’t be half asleep or drunk.”
Avia sighed. She undressed, tossing her clothes on the floor. “I’ll sleep in the other room.”
Victor undressed and slid into the bed under the covers. “I don’t care where you sleep just that you do, but you are going to be really cold in that other bed.”
“How am I going to be cold?” she asked.
“Go test that bed and come back here,” Victor said.
Avia rolled her eyes as she walked into the other bedroom. She moved the money to a drawer next to the bed and made herself comfortable under the covers. The sheets were freezing. After 30 seconds, she exited the bed and walked to the one Victor was laying in. She climbed under the covers and wrapped herself around him.
Victor smirked, but said nothing.
If you haven’t been influenced personally by someone with a heroin addiction or another type of addiction, consider yourself extremely lucky. I’ve have family members in the grip of opioid addictions, whether it be heroin or pain pills. Some of them function well to spite the incredible devastation to their health, and others don’t function quite so well. It is estimated that 2.1 people out of 100,000 will die from a heroin overdose, according to WebMD. According to Promises, heroin causes 12,982 deaths in 2015, which represents about 25% of the overdose deaths across the US. It’s a growing problem, and anyone can be affected. It’s also a topic I cover in my fiction thriller Thunderstorms and .45s, because I don’t believe statistics help, and while real stories can bring home the point, a lot of times, all people think is – OMG how horrible for them. Fiction, on the other hand, allows you to objectively view real problems in a new context that isn’t so emotional or overwhelming.
The main character, Avia, is a recovering and relapsing heroin addict, who works in the drug trade. This is very similar to a bartender who still bartends even though he or she is a recovering alcoholic. Why do addicts do this? Because they have to make money, no matter the risk to their mental and physical wellbeing.
Their addiction also affects more than just themselves. In Avia’s case, her addiction affects her ability to fly. It colors her thinking. It worries her partner, Benton. And she has enablers as well as those who are trying to help her quit. What you see is the struggle. Avia trying to work. Trying to fight the addiction, and some days she wins. Some days she loses. You also see her triggers, which are common for all addicts. All addicts have triggers. It’s just a matter of whether or not they can avoid them and/or walk away once they see them.
Some triggers are emotional. Some are physical, but if they can’t be ignored or avoided, they almost always result in a relapse. This is why getting help and staying in a long-term outpatient treatment progam, like group counseling and narcotics anonymous are so important?
Will Avia ever get all the help she needs to beat her addiction and be a productive member of society? Only time will tell, but you can check out the first novel in the Avia series at:
Amazon Kindle: $4.99
Amazon Paperback: $8.99
Barnes and Noble Nookbook: $4.99
Kobo Ebook: $4.99