At the heart of every human being is the need—and the desire—to be happy. For many, happiness is elusive, but for one killer, it’s something to be created. But it’s not as easy as it seems at first, and this “creator” is determined to get it right at least one more time, no matter how many tries it takes…

Take a listen as I read from Chapter 23 of Blue Baby (or read the excerpt below the video).

 

Chapter 23

I JUST WANT TO BE HAPPY.

Words from his past kept replaying in his head, and they were getting impossible to ignore. He had been given this gift, and it was a shame not to act on its inspiration. It was what had brought him here, to this bar, and he’d spotted her immediately. She was seated at the counter.

The sadness radiated from her like a beacon—from the sheen of sweat on her brow, the excessive rouge on her cheeks, and the way she was flinging back tequila shots. Three men gathered around her, hanging on her and draping themselves over her possessively like a horde of barbarians. Over thousands of years, men had evolved little.

But he sensed the truth behind her drinking. Maybe it was the advantage of knowing the woman aside from this evening. Her scars were beneath the surface, and she was about to make another stupid mistake with one, or more, of these men.

Her name was Penny, and she didn’t realize her own beauty. She also failed to appreciate how her smile could light a room and draw people to her. She was a sincere, genuine, down-to-earth person. Her smile showed teeth but not in an awkward, unnatural way. It cast a spotlight on her.

His heart was pounding as he approached her. The men’s laughs and sexist remarks singed his ears and festered his bubbling anger. Two of them had arms around her—one on the left, one on the right. The third was flagging down the bartender for another round of shots.

She was laughing, but the sadness, it was there, tattooed in her eyes. Her expression of glee never touched them, having no power between the dulling of the alcohol and her heartbreak to do so.

“Penny,” he said.

She turned quickly, seemingly latching onto any hope presented to her in this pit of debauchery. She smiled and hopped off her stool.

The men sneered at their competition. What they didn’t realize was that he wasn’t the competition. He was the victor. She would be going home with him, not any of them. The familiarity factor, his charm, his gift, made it inevitable.

She touched his arm, initially a flirtatious endeavor, but it turned into a need for him to balance her. How many shots had she had?

He fed her arm through his, laying the palm of her hand on his forearm. “I’ve got you.”

She flashed another smile. This one reached the edges of her eyes.

“Why don’t we get you out of here?”

“Yes, please.”

The men let out moans. One’s head was small atop his wide shoulders, as if he had been inflated with a pump but the airflow was pinched off at the neck.

Tiny Head came at them and grabbed Penny’s arm. “Come on, baby, you don’t want to go with him.”

Anger swelled, adrenaline surged. His vision fixed on Tiny Head with laser precision. His hearing became clearer.

“Let go of her.” It took all his willpower to squeeze out the four words.

Tiny Head kept his grip on Penny’s wrist. “And what are you going to do if I don’t?”

She was writhing now, trying to break free of him. Her resistance, her unhappiness with his touch quivered through her.

“I will give you to the count of three,” he said.

One of Tiny Head’s friends came up from behind him. “Then what are you going to do?”

The third stood to his side cracking his knuckles. They were hungry for a fight, but they didn’t know at whom they were aiming their machismo. If they did, they wouldn’t have started this. They would have left well enough alone.

“I’m three drinks in with her. She’s not going anywhere.” Tiny Head gave her arm another tug.

Everything flashed white. His vision sharpened. His mind assumed control, instinct and raw power combining in a lethal elixir. He knew he was reacting. He knew he was putting damage on the three men, taking them down with little effort. He moved with stealth, reacting without thought, fearing no consequence as one sentence repeated in his head.

I just want to be happy.

You’ve reached the end of the excerpt, but Blue Baby is available from popular retailers. For links, visit Blue Baby’s book page on this website.

A hero has fallen, and hard-edged detective Madison Knight will stop at nothing short of finding justice—even if it means risking her own life.

Releasing 9.29.16

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