I’m Shooting Cupid – A Fun Valentine’s Day Excerpt

SSUCv3H4sIAAAAAAAEAJ1SsW6DMBDdK/UfkGeUQiA0dGylzpU6dKgyGHwCK4ZD2KSgiH+vjSE4UhRV3Xzv+b27s9/58cHzSEYlz8mLdzaVrrkQnVQtVRxrDQf+jAPjCltOhQENNk4MkYqqToI0FjOUUwWFvmvBWb/0+ba1txATqRWaIh+AjQDiO4zsMsN8YQU1WfDRv2PyCrRTw9M7laVZ4YbZm0BV8rpY/ezhsOxKC6jzYR3ePItUmB+bEhW6S2jmqsNVEfRJn8abcHdpdLjQhLVAK6l4BX/2C5+jW04ZL/4x3Cf0w+b6WR3PBmu2u+eVJqvMHkYnFC0IoDYUswOJ4u2ksE3I8UdBW7mpOXEG6NS0YxydAJ0wp8IIIqdRrrOKlaNiOnvmj8Mo2CdxmoTbfZhEaZyYecdfxxMWg/MCAAA=

“It’s done.” Riley slumped down into the chair across from her boss’s desk without waiting for an invitation. She ignored the look of annoyance on his face. What was he going to do? Fire her? She was the best he had and he knew it. She knew what she could get away with.

“Riley Evans,” he said with a sigh, “Just the girl I needed to see.”

“Rick and Pam are a done deal. I want that promotion you promised me. You owe me, Frank.”

“You’ll get the promotion.”

“I sense a ‘but’ here? I don’t like when there is a ‘but’.”

Frank sat forward in his desk folding his hands as he looked at Riley with his serious expression. She hated the serious expression. It meant there was something on his mind she wouldn’t like.

“I’ll walk out that door right now if you don’t give me what you promised.” Riley indicated the back of the door which was partially opened. On opaque glass was black letting spelling out the letters C.U.P.I.D., the special top secret government agency for which Riley had worked for far too long already. She wasn’t sure what waited for her on the other side of that door but she’d put up with Frank’s B.S. long enough to know she was ready to make good on her threats. “It’s in my god-damned contract.”

Frank might have caved except he also knew how much Riley depended on that paycheck. She watched him suspiciously as he sat back to open his top drawer and pull out the little slip of paper with her name on it. She silently cursed under her breath for not signing up for direct deposit when she’d had the chance. She hated giving anyone power over her, especially one with morals as scrupulous as Frank.

“The thing is Riley. You have skills and we need that. And as I understand it, you need us as much as we need you.”

“Spit it out, Frank. What is it this time? You know I deserve that promotion. You’ve been dangling it in front of me for too long now. If there is a reason you’re holding back then I need to hear it so get on with it already.”

“Victoria has made unexpected progress this month.”

“Victoria,” Riley grumbled. Victoria had been a thorn in her side since the moment she walked through that office door. She was the only agent whose skill and tenacity even came close to Riley’s. “Victoria started a full year after I did and I’m better at what I do. I don’t care if she’s learned how to shoot hearts out her ass. That promotion is mine. You promised me.”

The promotion is yours as soon as you carry out this one last assignment,” Frank said with a sigh.

Riley laid her head back and stared at the ceiling as she tried to keep her frustration in check. Killing Frank, albeit satisfying as it may be, would not get her where she needed to be.

“I’ve heard that before.”

“I mean it this time. Handle this one and the promotion is yours. I will even throw in an extra bonus on top.”

That got her attention. She lifted her head to peer at her boss, trying to determine whether the asshole was telling her the truth this time. Unfortunate for Frank, he was a pretty easy read. He tugged at the neckline of his collared shirt, beads of perspiration on his forehead, both good indications that Frank was involved in something he didn’t like.

“This is important to you,” she said.  cupid

“Yes, and it should be important to you, if you value your career.”

“So what’s the deal Frank? Get into bed with the wrong bimbo again? Her husband threatening to end your existence once and for all unless you set things right in the world, starting with their loveless marriage?”

“No,” he said, clearly annoyed with her accusations. She nodded, noting that he didn’t exactly deny it either. As far as bosses were concerned, there were worse in the world than Frank but she sure as heck wouldn’t want to be married to the scum bag. She often wondered how his wife of thirty years had put up with him for so long. No doubt his profession had a little helping hand in that respect too. “Not this time.”

“Uh-huh,” she said completely unconvinced. “So what is it then?”

Frank got up and went over to a safe he kept hidden behind a picture frame. Riley rolled her eyes. The man was a walking cliche. But her attention was piqued. Most of the files ended up in the filing cabinets outside his office, under the not-so-great watch of his secretary, Betsy. Only the top tier, super important ones found their way into the safe. Someone didn’t want anyone to find out about this particular job. Whatever their reasons, Riley didn’t care. There were so many anti-C.U.P.I.D. protest groups nowadays that she had a feeling secrecy was going to start being the new norm anyway. The important part to her was the fact that top secret usually translated into top pay.

He slapped the file down on the desk in front of her and she reached over to take it. Before she could pick it up, his hand came down over hers. She felt her skin crawl at his touch.

“This is between you and me,” he said, “You breath a word of it to anyone else and there will be consequences. Dire consequences. Am I clear?”

“Crystal,” she said wrinkling her nose. She’d say anything to get her hand back.

His smell filled his nostrils. The man needed a bath and an entire stick of deodorant under each arm pit.

“One more thing.”

“Yeah?”

“I’m assigning you a partner to help with this case.”

“No, Frank. You know I only work alone.”

“Yeah, yeah, but this time you’re making an exception. Like I said, you have skills and it’s about time you begin sharing those skills with our less experienced agents. Just last week I handled five end-of-love cases all because new agents are screwing up.”

“That’s not my problem. No exceptions, Frank. Whatever this is, I can handle it. You know that. I don’t need help and I don’t train newbies. They’ll just get in my way.”

“I’m sorry, Riley, but it’s either accept the terms or I’ll have to give it to someone else.”

“Someone else?” she said raising her eyebrows and yanking her hand free from his. As if there was anyone else he could trust to carry out this mission. “Fine. Do that. Give it to Victoria for all I care.”

“Come on Ri. Don’t leave me hanging here. This one pays better than any job you’ve done for me before. You need the money. You need that promotion.”

“That’s not fair, Frank. I’ve earned that promotion. You can’t take it away from me just because I won’t make an exception.”

“Last time I checked, it was my name on that door, which makes me the boss. I can do whatever the hell I want.”

Riley got up to leave. One thing she refused to do was bargain, especially with the likes of Frank.

“Fine,” she said, feeling the weight pull down on her shoulders, “Have it your way then. No deal.”

“You walk out that door and I call Victoria right now with the good news.”

“What?”

She spun around on her heels, ready to leap on the loser and pound some sense into him with her fists if she had to.

“You heard me. The promotion is hers. Victoria is willing to do a hell of a lot more to earn it.”

Riley felt her skin crawl again at the implication. She happened to know for a fact it was true. She’d already caught Victoria and her boss together once. It was an image she’d have forever burned in her mind despite all her attempts to erase it.

“You’ve got a lot of nerve after all I’ve done for you. After all I’ve done for C.U.P.I.D.”

“Don’t go getting all emotional on me now. You and I both know you need the money and I need you to help guide a wayward agent who happens to show great promise. You’ve got to help me out here, Ri, and I’m not playing games.”

Riley turned back to the door but when she went to grasp the handle, she couldn’t bring herself to do it. She thought about Charlie. What would happen if she couldn’t keep the money coming? She shuddered and realized like it or not, Frank had her bent over with her pants down. She couldn’t afford to tell him no. If nothing else, her ego wouldn’t let her give slimy Victoria the upper hand.
When she turned back to him, he was smiling. Damn it if he didn’t know he had the upper hand, too.

She snatched the file off the desk and thumbed through it. Nothing about it struck her as particularly remarkable or difficult. She shrugged. There were probably a million and one questions she could ask about why this particular case warranted such extreme measures but she’d already wasted enough of her time in Frank’s presence and she was tired and in need of a hot bath and a bottle of wine.

“I’ll leave you to sign off on the paperwork with Betsy,” he told her, “And she’ll give you the arrangements to meet with Madison, the trainee.”

“Just this once,” Riley said forcing her blood to stop boiling, “because I don’t need no stinking sidekick.” She could almost feel the steam coming out of her ears like the Saturday morning cartoons she’d watched as a kid.

“Just this once,” Frank agreed. He put out his hand to shake which she did reluctantly. “And Ri, you won’t regret this. I’ll make sure of it.”

“Yeah, yeah” she said turning her back on him. “And don’t call me Ri.”

Little Miss Somebody by Christy Lynn Abram

bookblitz banner

LMS-ebookFourteen-year-old Nikki’s world is turned upside down when her mother makes an impulsive move to Missouri. Having left everything she knew behind, Nikki is left to fend for herself from her mother’s vicious cycle of abuse and abandonment while living at her grandmother’s house amidst her mother’s drug addicted siblings. Feeling unloved and more than ever like a burden, Nikki seeks to find a missing piece to the puzzle of her life- her father. Along the way, she unravels more layers of family abuse and pain causing her to feel helpless. But she won’t give up. Not yet, Not Nikki. Not until she finds what she is looking for. Will Nikki find the love she so desperately needs?

 

 

Available Today at:

Amazon   BN   Goodreads

 

About the Author:

After enduring years of childhood abuse and struggling with depression and PTSD, Christy Lynn Abram embarked on a journey to self-healing using holistic wellness as her guide. Now, as a Wholistic Muse (guide to one’s self), author and creative entrepreneur, she teaches others how to live by design. Christy is trained in eight healing modalities, including: a Reiki, EFT, reflexology, massage therapy, and a crystal healer, all of which aided in her discovery of how to heal herself naturally. These life-changing skills also served as the foundation to helping others love themselves healthy. In her book Chakra Wellness: 7 Ways to Renew the Total she dives into the seven chakra centers from a mind-body-soul perspective. She has been recognized for her knowledge of the chakra system (by best-selling author of the Chakra Bible, Patricia Mercier), gemstone healing, and energy medicine. She contributes to several online publications on the subject of holistic healing and offers talks and insightful guidance to encourage others on their journey toward a better, fuller life. Although Christy has faced adversity in her life, she continues to see the world in a myriad of color and squiggly lines. In 2014, Christy decided to pursue her lifelong dream of being an interior designer. She is now the founder and principal designer at Happy Buddha Interiors, a full service design boutique, which applies a holistic approach to interior design. In her latest release, Little Miss Somebody, Christy wears her heart on her sleeve and delivers a poignant tale of love and sacrifice. Christy’s other activities include partnering with Pongo for Teen Writing, a Seattle based non-profit organization that offers expressive writing to teens who are in jail, homeless, or leading difficult lives. To learn more about Christy and her mission visitwww.christylynnabram.com.

Connect with Christy on Social Media:

Facebook     Twitter

 

 

Who Am I and Why I’m Here…

close up of typewriter vintage retro styledHello, World!

It’s Monday morning and everyone is back to work and school after a fun, but lazy, eleven days off together. I enjoyed it immensely and I’m sad to see the holidays end and the dreariness of true winter begin. We even woke up to snow this morning which was a real shock to the system after the warm December we’ve had.

The kids were shocked when I told them we wouldn’t be driving to the bus stop in the car. “You mean we have to walk in the snow?”

Yes, and believe it or not… we lived to tell the tale. Better get used to it, as well, because I suspect we’ll be seeing plenty more of that before spring comes.

Anyway, now that I’m back to quiet time on my own, as part of the new year, I am setting new goals for my writing. (You may have already got a glimpse of this in my earlier post.) I’ve committed to writing at least 1,000 words per day by joining the 365k club and I’ve also signed up for WordPress’ Blogging 101 online course.

Okay, so I’m not exactly new to WordPress or to this blog, but I have certainly struggled with figuring out what to blog and to sticking to a consistent routine in doing so. Maybe I will learn something new. Maybe I won’t. It never hurts to give it a try.

First assignment, of course, is to introduce ourselves and talk about why we are here. I suppose that’s a good question! For those who have only just stumbled across my blog for the first time, my name is Stephanie Ingram and I write fiction. Paranormal is my favorite but my stories border in the fantasy realm, too. I originally started this blog in order to share my writing news. I have also used it to talk about daily life from time to time, and I’ve shared samples of my works-in-progress.

Beyond that, I’m not really sure why I’m here and that is probably half my problem! Over the coming weeks, I will think about my focus for blogging and see where it takes me.

I can imagine myself exploring my interests related to writing, books I have enjoyed, and topics related to the paranormal. That is a good place to start.

In the meantime, there are Christmas decorations to take down and put away and a mess to sort through to get the house back in order again. Let’s not forget the exercise routine that I put aside in favor of family fun and yummy treats. I need to restart that, too. Ah, January, you’ve never been my favorite month. But Christmas brought me a brand new laptop and as I learn my way around Windows 10 (after using a machine that barely functioned and ran Windows XP), I look forward to writing and sharing much more…

Happy Day!

 

 

Weekend Writing Warriors #8Sunday – Stepping Into Enemy Territory

wewriwa2HAPPY 2016!

Here’s to hoping your new year is off to a great start and only gets better from here. Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions? I’m not really one for resolutions but I do intend this post to be the first of an entire year’s worth of contributions to the Weekend Writing Warriors, a fun blog hop where a gathering of authors share 8 to 10 sentences of a current work-in-progress. Check the link at http://www.wewriwa.com for the full list of participants.

2016 will be a year of writing so it should be a great year for sharing!

At the end of December I shared a couple of snippets from Rise of Angerroots, a story I hope to finish soon. Max had just discovered his fiancee was alive but when he confronted her, he was surprised to find that she didn’t remember him. Today’s snippet moves to Sarah’s point of view (Max’s fiancee). She is lost in a world that stopped making sense and meeting with her new neighbor, Nathanial, to discuss strange animal attacks. Nathanial seems to have information that the authorities are lacking. It doesn’t hurt that she’s incredibly attracted to him. 😉

**

Sarah tried to suppress the feelings that madness would overtake her mind if she did not see Nathanial again. Her heart pounded in her chest as she knocked lightly against the oak door. She did not have to wait long before it opened it. When she met his dark lustful eyes, she lost her courage and with it, the ability to speak.

“Come in,” he said, “I’ve been looking forward to seeing you again.”

Her body trembled as she entered the dimly lit entryway. She was overcome with the sensation of walking into enemy territory. It was absurd, she thought, trying to shake off the unnatural fear.

“I hope I haven’t come too late,” she said softly as she followed him to the living room.

**

Thank you for reading. I look forward to reading your thoughts on this snippet so please feel free to share them. Be sure to check out the other authors on the official page and enjoy the rest of your Sunday. See you next week!

Happy New Year background

What’s Up, January 2016

snowmanJanuary is bittersweet. On one hand, it’s sad the fun leading up to Christmas and New Year’s is over and ahead of us we have plenty of cold and snowy days, but on the other hand, a new month in a new year holds so much promise. It’s no accident that January is a time for resolutions and making changes. After all, it’s a fresh start, a second chance to do something better, whatever that something may be.

I have a lot of hopes and plans for the new year when it comes to my writing and I look forward to sharing these adventures as the months pass.

For starters, I intend to make more of an effort to post on my blog regularly.

At the start of each new month, you will see a “What’s Up” post where I tell you about what I accomplished during the month just passed and what I plan to dive into for the new month beginning.

On Mondays I will post either thoughts on a topic of interest or something related to my latest release (a contest, a puzzle, things I learned while writing, etc).

Wednesdays I am especially excited about. I will be sharing a free short story each week roughly 1,000 words at a time.

Fridays I hope to open my blog to help support and promote my fellow authors. I will either have a special guest interview or I will post something related to a book I read and enjoyed. If you are an author and would like to visit me, please contact me at ingramsl (at) gmail (dot) com so we can set a date! I promise to keep it fun.

And last but not least, my favorite – Sundays I will continue participation in the Weekend Writing Warriors, a blog hop where several authors come together to share 8 to 10 sentences of a current work-in-progress. I started this in November and love the sense of camaraderie that comes with it. Even if I can’t keep up with all the other posts, I will stick with this one.

As needed, I will post announcements for new book releases and the details on where you can find them.

Secondly, and most important, I will write more! And I won’t just write, which in all fairness I did a lot of in 2015 – but I will actually finish the stories I start. It is my goal to publish at least three books in 2016. Sure, I wouldn’t mind accomplishing more than this but I figure three is a conservative and reachable goal.

On a personal level, I plan to read more than ever. I want to stretch outside my preferred genres and read all books. I have a library card and I’m not afraid to use it! I will also include several non-fiction books on my list, particularly those I feel will help me develop as an author.

As for my December progress… Well, most of my progress went into cleaning and preparing for the holidays! I made very little progress on my rewrites of my NaNoWriMo novel so this will be my main focus in January. When I finish a round of rewrites, I will put it aside and finish writing Rise of the Angerroots.

Also, the Short Story Competition begins on January 22nd. Look for updates on my progress in next month’s What’s Up post! Wish me luck. 🙂

Be sure to join my Mailing List if you want to be the first to find out about new book releases. You can find the sign up link HERE.

As always, you can find me on several social media sites including Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Overall, I’m looking forward to a great start to what promises to be a fun and productive new year.

Happy 2016! 🙂