Thanks are due to all of you who download, shared, liked, and helped me spread the word of my books’ free promotion.
THE CAREGIVER was downloaded 372 times and managed to push its way up to #45 in the Mystery & Thriller>Suspense of the US Kindle Store Top 100 Free category and #61 in the UK. I went to bed earlier than I wanted because I was exhausted from writing the final paper of the semester while running the free promo and all the ads, but there was a smile on my face. And I owe you all a big one for that!
Today I woke up to AT THE CORNER OF MARS AND NEPTUNE having jumped to #28 in Crime and #32 in the Short Stories category of the US Kindle Store Top 100 Free. It will remain free all day today so be sure to share it with your friends! It’s a punk romance that I’m very proud of, since I enjoyed writing it (my editor loved it, and she’s not easy to please!). You can read the unedited first chapter here, of course the edited version is way better, but you’ll get the idea!
Update: As I wrote this post AToMaN climbed to #18 in Crime and #29 in Short Stories!! Woot woot!!
So there you go. Maybe I’ll write a post to recap the whole venture after it’s over. But for the time being, THANK YOU. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did writing them, and keep your eyes peeled for TORN (Book 2 of The Caregiver Series)!
Scarlett Lang always dreamt of becoming an Interpol agent. When her hard work pays off and she’s given the chance to work as an undercover agent with London’s biggest drug lord, Armand Sayer, she can’t help being ecstatic about it.
She’s employed by Armand’s sister (to aid in his recovery from a gun attack) as both caregiver and bodyguard. Her resourcefulness in both areas helps her win much more than Armand’s trust, to the dismay of both his right-hand man and her ex-boyfriend / colleague.
As she makes her way into the business she swore to help tear down, she’s faced with the dilemma of choosing between being loyal to her profession or her heart. And we all know it can’t be both.
At the Corner of Mars and Neptune (Stories About Love)
Lena is a female drug dealer. Noah is a police detective trying to solve a murder case to which Lena is the only witness. Thing is, she can’t remember a thing, and her life is too much of a mess for her to care. He cares, though. A bit too much. Enough to think that he can save himself by saving her. But the streets always claim what’s theirs.
“Come on, scumbag. Blow that motherfucker’s head off!” My grandfather’s voice was always grave, always loud.
The famous Adrian Lang couldn’t drop the attitude for nothing.
I pulled the machine gun’s trigger. Ratatatatatatatatatatatatatatatat. Clickclickclickclick.
I shot him a glance. He was standing close behind me, sucking on a cigar as he walked towards the card and studied it.
“You know better than talking to me like that.”
Anger made my face go red. For a moment I thought he’d stride to my side and slap me across the face, like he usually did. This time he stood his ground.
“You’re not quite there yet.”
The machine gun felt hot in my hand. I looked down, saw my distressed jeans, and realized I was no more than sixteen years old.
He shifted towards me on the balls of his feet, his hand making a fist. Here it comes, I thought. However, before I knew it, the machine gun went off again. I couldn’t stop it as it shot a whole round directly into his belly, cutting him in half. Blood splattered the card and the floor as both his halves slid to the ground.
“Nice one.” A voice came from behind, one that made my knees wobble.
Ferdinand —my ex-boyfriend, coworker at the Interpol, and messenger of my guilty conscience— was standing behind me, his eyes fixed on me.
“Ferdinand? You’re dead.”
“You just can’t help hurting the ones who love you.”
“He hated me. You knew that.”
He shook his head slowly. “Not at all, Scarlett. Not at all.”
Then the machine gun went on again and…
I woke up with a jolt, gasping for air. I frantically surveyed the place with my eyes. It had been a week already and I was out of the intensive care unit and in a private, more comfortable room.
“What the fuck?!” I tried to sit but my left wrist was bound to the bed.
“Whoa!” Johanna jumped to my side. “You’re all right.”
“I am not! I’m tied to this…” I trailed off as another face came to view, one that made me frown.
“You were pulling on your bandages in your sleep.” Jimmy stood at the feet of the bed, one hand on his hip, pulling his suit jacket back and giving me a clear view of the gun holstered inside.
“How long have you been here?”
“And hour maybe? You were already bound so don’t go thinking it was my idea.”
“I was worried you’d actually rip it off.” Johanna hastened to release me.
Once my hand was free I rubbed my wrist. The bandage around my right shoulder didn’t lend me much mobility, but it didn’t hurt as bad anymore. My left arm, on the other hand, didn’t hurt at all. The bed was already in an almost sitting position, so I just pushed myself up with my left hand while keeping my right arm close to my torso.
“What time is it?”
“Almost noon.” Jimmy answered before Johanna could even look at her watch. “I don’t have much time.”
“I’m starving.” I said under my breath as I tried to pull the blanket over my chest.
“I’ll see what I can do about that.” Johanna grinned at me, but I could tell Jimmy’s presence was unsettling for her.
“That would be very nice of you.” I smiled back, trying to ease her. “Mr. Gordon won’t be here too long. Right?”
“Not at all.” He looked annoyed.
Johanna nodded at him and scurried away.
Jimmy waited until the door was completely shut to stand on the spot Johanna had vacated and speak. “Got yourself a lackey?”
“They let you bring your toys in here, Jimmy?”
“I’m an agent. Remember? Heard Armand made it out alive. Is that true?”
“So they say. I bet you knew about Romulus’ plan.”
“No. I didn’t. Never thought he’d try to get Armand killed.”
“Some people don’t take blackmailing lightly.” I avoided his glance and proceeded. “Are you here to arrest me or something? Bet the hospital is surrounded.”
“It is, but, no. I’m not here to arrest you. Still undercover. Desmond is alive and giving orders from jail.”
“Is that so?”
“We’ve already had to deal with a lot of fallen men. But you wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?”
“Not a thing.”
He scoffed. “Armand’s forgotten about you so quickly? You’ve been here what? A week?”
“He’s just waiting for the right moment to get me out of here.”
“What makes you so sure?”
I twisted my head towards him and, even through the pain in my shoulder, held his stare. “What makes you think he won’t?”
“Come on, Scarlett. You can’t possibly think he’s in love with you.”
Now that made me angry. “What the fuck, Jimmy? What did I ever do to you?”
“I’m not here as a cop or as one of MacGowan’s henchmen.” His tone turned grave as he spoke through his clenched teeth. “I’m here as Ferdinand’s best friend. You hurt him, Scarlett; never forget that. He worried about you even when he knew you didn’t love him as much as he loved you. I’m here because he made me swear I’ll protect you if he was gone. He knew he’d die, he felt it coming. And even then, he only thought of you, of your safety. Is this how you repay him? Killing Romulus so you can run away with that bastard?”
“You better not talk about Armand that way ever again.”
“What are you to him, really? Any female agent we sent into that mission would’ve ended up in bed with him. Haven’t thought about that, have you?”
“Fuck you, Jimmy. I don’t need this.” I tried to hit him with the back of my left fist but he caught my wrist midair.
“No, Scarlett. You have to wake up. You’ve fucked yourself and I can help you.”
“Fucked myself? More like saved myself.”
“You have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“We’re expendable, Jimmy. Never forget that. Romulus was a piece of shit.”
I tried to free my arm from his grip but before I could do anything the heel of his other hand connected with my right shoulder.
“Aaaagh!” The pain made my eyes water as I jerked back, gasping for air. “Fuuuuuck!”
“To this day I still ask myself what the hell it was Ferdinand saw in you.” He rummaged in his pocket for something, produced a photo, and held it to my face. “This is what he was saving you from. This is the reason MacGowan wanted to abduct you. And this is the reason you’ll be dead soon enough if you don’t accept my offer.”
I recognized Cisneros’ and MacGowan’s faces in the picture, yet it was the third one that made my insides churn, making me want to run for the bathroom and puke my guts out. Only that getting on my feet wouldn’t be an easy thing to do and I knew I wouldn’t make it on time if I tried. Measuring my options, I opted for swallowing hard.
“That’s right.” Jimmy shoved the photo back into his pocket. “Xavi Pontevedra is in London and he’s here to kill you.”
This changed everything. Xavi Pontevedra, the man who had held me captive in a brothel during the Gibraltar mission, was out of jail, seeking revenge, while I was bound to a hospital bed.
“There’s so much you don’t know, Scarlett.”
“And you’re going to tell me?”
“All in due time.”
“Fuck off then!”
Jimmy left, leaving me huffing and puffing both from the pain and the desperation that overcame me.
At least he won’t get to me here with the police guarding this goddamn place, I thought as I pressed the nurse’s call button.
I woke to the sensation of something stuck inside my throat. I wanted to pull it out but my right arm was bound and when I tried to break free, it felt as if a knife went through the upper right side of my chest.
“Easy! Easy!” A woman’s voice came out of nowhere. “You’re all right.” She soothed me. “I’ll get that for you.”
I coughed out the feeling of the tube being pulled out through my mouth, trying hard not to puke. It felt as if there was an anvil resting on my forehead. Breathing was hard, and I had to blink a couple of times in order to focus my sight on the nurse looking over me. She was pretty, with dark hair and caramel eyes.
“Be calm.” She interrupted me when I was about to speak. “Your throat may hurt. Do you want to sit?”
Yeah, shutting up was probably a better option. I nodded and she helped me get into a sitting position before securing a nasal cannula around my head and under my nose. She then rearranged the blanket around my chest.
There were tubes and monitors all around me. A nice-looking, disinfectant-smelling intensive care room if you asked me.
“I’ll get Dr. Williams.” Her smiling brown eyes shone under the dark fringe.
I managed to peek through the door when she walked out of the room and saw a man standing outside, dressed in black. I figured it would be a Met officer. The whole place must been flooded with Met, Interpol, SOCA… the whole lot.
All of a sudden everything was coming back to me. Armand being handcuffed, shooting Romulus… I felt my face get hot and had to blink back the tears.
“Good morning, Miss Lang.” A doctor strode into the room, clipboard in hand, followed by the nurse. He was tall, with auburn hair tied back into a ponytail. “How do you feel?”
“I’ve been better.”
“My name is Dr. Williams and this is Johanna. She’ll be your nurse all the way through your stay here.” He checked my drips. “Are you in pain right now?”
“A bit, yes.” I tried to push myself up but my left arm protested. “How long have I been out?”
“A little over forty-eight hours. You were shot on your left upper arm, your right leg and the right side of your chest, where the bullet went through, exiting through your back. Both your left arm and right leg wounds will heal promptly since the bullets tore little muscle. The one on your chest is another story.” He and the nurse stood on each side of the bed. “Thankfully, it was a small caliber, but it did fracture your clavicle and shoulder blade. You were lucky it didn’t hit an artery.”
He took a pen out of his pocket, scribbled something on a paper, detached it from the clipboard, and handed it to me.
“Let me take a look at your stitches.” He crossed me, eying the piece of paper in my hand.
Armand is alive and well. He asks for you to be patient.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. I turned to the nurse and she smiled.
The heat came back to my face. He was alive.
The doctor had set his clipboard on the bed and was looking intently at me, awaiting my answer.
“Yes. Sure. Okay.” I let him uncover my wounded shoulder.
I reread the note before Johanna took it and threw it in a rubbish bin.
“He’s one of our top donors,” the doctor whispered to my ear. “Funded most of our pediatrics burns centre.”
Armand the philanthropist. I can’t say I was surprised.
The instinct to turn my head towards him spiked a sting-like pain that rode from my shoulder up to my neck.
“Ow.” I breathed.
“Try not to do that. And keep your arm in the sling at all times. It’ll take some time to heal completely.” He replaced my bandages and set the sling back in place. “Your leg and arm will take less time.”
I bent my right leg at the knee and, yes, it didn’t feel as bad.
He grabbed the clipboard. “You will be transferred to a private room. Johanna will take good care of you.” He scribbled something on his clipboard again, this time it wasn’t for me to see. “Get some rest now. I’ll see you again tomorrow.”
As soon as he walked out of the room, Johanna produced a syringe from one of her pockets.
“This will make you feel better in no time.” She said as she injected its contents into my IV.
“What about George?” I bet she knew.
“He’s with Mr. Sayer.” She disposed of the syringe before getting back to me. “Now try and get some sleep.”
They were both alive. The thought of it made me feel so much better. Or was it the meds?
I closed my eyes and tried not to think about anything.
The sneak peek you’ve all been waiting for! This book is being edited by the lovely Stacia Rogan (check out her website, she rocks!). This isn’t the final version of the text but I know I’ve kept you waiting for too long, so here it is. Enjoy!
“What the fuck have you done?!” I heard Sayer shout in the distance, then the shuffling of hands over me.
I guessed they were the paramedics because I didn’t want to open my eyes again. I had killed the beast, whom, to everyone’s surprise, wasn’t the drug lord that was now being held back by a Met officer, but my supervisor at the Interpol. I had shot him down in order to save the man I loved. I’d become an Interpol agent gone rogue and that would ensure chaos.
“Scarlett,” someone whispered. “Scarlett! Open your eyes. Stay with me.”
I obliged and saw Patrick, the young man who’d become the drug lord’s apprentice, walking next to the stretcher I was being transferred in.
The first thing that came to my mind was to ask him where the fuck he had been while all hell broke loose. But the mix of blood and bile in my mouth didn’t let me speak–neither did the oxygen mask covering half my face.
I wanted to drift away into some fairyland filled with light, green grass, ponds, and birds chirping in the background. Or the fiery pits of hell, I didn’t really care which as the pain burnt my limbs.
“Armand?” I managed to spit some of the blood that threatened to drown me and someone removed my oxygen mask for a moment. “Where’s Armand?”
“He’s been taken in, but don’t worry, it’s all part of the plan.”
Oh, now he told me about the plan. He had refused to do so when I asked him, before it all went berserk and the rival drug dealer, Max MacGowan, and his men got into a shooting with Met and Interpol agents outside the church where the service for Sayer’s dead sister was taking place. All I knew about the plan was to let MacGowan’s men scoop me up and then duck when the bullets started flying. And yeah, that last part I made up myself.
However, I wasn’t expecting Romulus —my now dead supervisor— to want Armand dead. Or should I had come to that conclusion on my own given the fact that Armand had blackmailed him in order to keep me by his side?
It was all very confusing.
“No, it can’t be.” My speech sounded more like mumbling, but he seemed to understand. “That officer arresting Armand wasn’t… Aaaaagh!”
One of the paramedics applied pressure to the wound in my leg and I felt as if the life was being taken away from my body. Coldness overcame me and everything went dark.
Armand wanted to stay with her. He knew she was in pain and all his instinct told him to do was free his hands so he could hold her and, by some miraculous way, transfer it to him. His mind boggled at the thought of what she must have been going through.
Nonetheless, there were other things to worry about. He knew she’d be taken to a hospital under heavy police guard. It was better that she was treated there rather than find some surgeon to do it god-knows-where and under unsanitary circumstances.
He walked towards the police vehicle feeling like the weight of the world had landed on his shoulders, sadness making his chest tight. George welcomed him into the backseat with a silent nod, his features dark while his mind fixated elsewhere. His cane sat between them as a mute witness of their mutual preoccupation.
The officer that arrested George rode on the passenger seat while the one who handcuffed Armand drove them away, waving to his colleagues as they moved aside to let the car through. Once they were away from the scene, Armand stared out the window, his mind still on Scarlett.
“Mr. Sayer?” The driver interrupted his thoughts.
“Yes?” Armand watched him through the rearview mirror as he took off his cap and ran his fingers through his hair. He was probably around Scarlett’s age.
“That was Adrian Lang’s granddaughter, wasn’t she? Scarlett?”
The officer on the passenger side turned to his partner, confused.
Armand exchanged a glance with George before answering, “Yes.”
“I knew she recognized me as soon as she saw me.”
The other officer gaped at his companion. “What the f-?” Was all he managed to say before the driver shot him in the head.
The bullet shattered the window, blood covering everything around the man that now sat with his chin pressed against his chest, a hole in the back of his head.
“You’re not a cop.” Armand looked away.
“No, sir.” The officer-turned-killer rummaged for something, then handed George the keys to their handcuffs. “I’m a contract killer, trained by Adrian Lang himself.”
The sudden revelation was unsettling, but Armand had to keep his cool. “Who sent you?”
“Let’s say my employer was just murdered by your… wife?”
“Not yet.” He drawled. “So, the paying party in your contract is dead.”
George took off Sayer’s handcuffs and his employer did likewise for him.
“Is he?” The officer-that-wasn’t grinned through the mirror. “Where to, sir?”
“My house isn’t far from here, you can drop us wherever you find convenient.”
“Very well, sir.” He grinned, then added, “He never told us who our target was associated with.”
Armand shot another glance at the man that would’ve been his murderer, but this time the latter was focused on the road.
Scarlett, he thought, you’re just full of surprises.
“I’ll see that you are well compensated for this.”
The man parked a couple of houses down from Armand’s. George stepped out first.
Armand hesitated for a second before getting out. “Do you know where I can find Mr. Lang? He should know what happened.”
“He’s retired. Living in the Caribbean, I believe. I can help you with that if you’d like.”
Retirement. That was a word he might not hear again after this.
“I would be very grateful for that.” He was about to step out when he paused again. “I didn’t catch your name.”
“Miguel, but they call me Michael around these parts.”
“Thank you, Michael.”
Both men went into the house without uttering a word. George set to packing everything he could while Armand took out his mobile and started making calls on the way to his bedroom.
He rang Patrick first and was glad to learn Scarlett was taken to a hospital he knew well.
“What’s her status?” he asked as he took off his bloodstained jacket.
“She went into shock during the ride to the hospital. They thought they lost her, but she came back. She’s lost a lot of blood. She’s in the operating theatre and they’re trying to get the bullets out.”
Armand felt as if the ground was being removed from under him, so he held onto the dresser and took a deep breath before asking, “How many cops?”
“Loads. Met, Interpol, Scotland Yard… They’ve been asking a lot of questions.”
“Don’t worry if they take you in, I’m sending a lawyer to get you out.”
“Will do, sir.”
He hung up. A sense of despair overwhelmed him. He was the one who was supposed to be there. His was the first face she should see when she woke up instead of some doctor’s. But, alas, that wasn’t possible, so he had to make sure she was safe.
Searching through his mobile’s contacts he found the perfect person to call.
“Sayer?” George peeked through the door.
The call could wait. They had to get out of there before the police realized they never made it to the station. He handed George his mobile, took off his shirt, and searched in his wardrobe for a clean one. “I need you to contact Bradley and Ollie and tell them to head to the hospital to check on her. Make arrangements with the rest for when we can retrieve her.”
He trusted Bradley and Ollie because they were two of the most serious and clever henchmen he’d ever employed. They worked as realtors for his firm as a cover-up and they had surprised him with how good they were at it. Bradley, an Australian guy that didn’t talk much and whose specialty was hand-in-hand combat, and Ollie, a London native that, whenever he wasn’t making use of his IT and forgery skills, was cracking jokes left and right, were exactly who he needed at the moment to take care of Scarlett’s situation.
George went on to make the calls while Armand changed into a fresh suit. It had been a long time since he’d found himself in a situation like this. He’d never considered himself a gangster and the fact of calling out his men and getting them together didn’t suit him. But it had to be done or not one of them would make it out alive. He’d do anything for her, and if that meant becoming a fugitive and turning into one of those blood-shedding gangsters, so be it.
He pulled a bag from under the bed and filled it with clothes and some of his guns. Once he made it down, he turned on the fireplace and threw the bloodstained suit in it to burn.
“I packed her clothes too.” George brought some of the heavier firepower with him. “They are in the car.”
There was no time to waste. Sooner rather than later the police would start searching for them. They took the Bentley down the M4 and into the Financial District, parking inside the underground of a building near Paternoster Square. He had bought the two upper floors from a stockbroker firm that went bankrupt and had converted them into a luxurious flat as part of his retirement plan. Thinking of a near future that was now slowly drifting away from him.
A future where he had pictured himself happily married to a woman whose fate was now a mystery to him. And he couldn’t help feeling guilty about this turn of events.
We all know Scarlett’s choice will be her trusty rifle, or maybe her knife, or her Glock 17… Thing is, whatever you have in hand, hold on to it because Book 2 is on its way! A forced trip to the Caribbean will make Scarlett face the demons of her past while trying to keep her present and future together. Lots of action, new characters, and the dis-pleasure of meeting some downright mofo villains, oh, and don’t forget the famous grandfather, Adrian Lang. Revelations, explanations, confrontations. You don’t want to miss this.
I’ll start posting chapters soon, so keep your eyes peeled!
Oh, I’ve been a very bad blogger! It’s been almost a month since I’ve written a post thanks to life/mid-terms/new rescue puppy getting in the way. The dust is settling now, thankfully, and I promised I’d make a recap about the Emails to a Young Screenwriter blog series by Darlene Craviotto, so here it goes!
As I’ve said before, it all started with a contest held by Jennifer Owenby, which I found randomly thanks to a Facebook group for indie authors. I entered with some reluctance and, to my surprise, I won. It was awesome and scary at the same time. The contest was for a copy of Darlene Craviotto’s book An Agoraphobic’s Guide to Hollywood and a Q&A about screenwriting session with her. Of course, her being a professional screenwriter I didn’t want to fall into the silly questions gutter, nor did I want her to feel like I was some novice that had no idea whatsoever about what she was asking. I did take a screenwriting class during my bachelors and have kept myself busy reading everything I can put my hand on that has to do with screenwriting as well as creative writing in general, not counting the scripts I had written and filled the rubbish bin with in the meantime. We had Christmas right around the corner and I had finals, that gave me time to read her book in its entirety, think on it, and then ask my questions.
I recommend her book not only for people interested in screenwriting, but readers who are looking for a well written, appealing story. Darlene’s journey isn’t for the faint of heart. She’s persistent. She’s a fighter. She’s an extraordinary woman with a beautiful soul and an even more beautiful story to tell. One of the things that struck me about her when I read her book was that, not only did she have to fight the agoraphobia to keep up with the stressing job screenwriting is, she never stopped being a wife to her husband and a mother to her two children. Hollywood is known for destroying relationships and families, heck, writing itself has been base for many marital disputes, but she never faltered and that makes her a hero worthy of a thousand books. Also, the fact that she’s not afraid to share her knowledge with everyone willing to learn, of what her blog is proof. Nothing to do with the heartless monsters one thinks Hollywood is filled with, all holding some gold ring in their hands and whispering “my preciousssss” to themselves.
But my extraordinary adventure didn’t end in the anonymity of our email exchange. When Darlene asked me if I was okay with the idea of her making a series of blog posts about our session I was flattered to no end (what did I tell you about her sharing knowledge?). Her answers where so detailed and full of wisdom it was a crime to keep them hidden from the rest of the world. And then she went and talked so nicely of me in her posts I couldn’t stop blushing.
Thank you for the opportunity of a lifetime to both Jennifer and Darlene. This will be the foundation to many of my future projects and it’s a damn solid one!
Now let Darlene herself guide you the links to all the blog posts so you can read and enjoy them as much as I did (only I got to do it twice, haha!):
Years ago I used to do something that, deep inside, felt a little weird from my part. I’d be walking around a mall or a street full of people just looking into their faces, looking hard for signs of something else, maybe something grand. I don’t really know what I was looking for, but I do know what I found in almost all of them: conformity. And I had to ask myself “do these people have no aspirations? How can they go on with a dull existence?”
I’m not much of a horror reader, actually, I’m pretty easy to scare, so I often walk away from this genre. But Todd’s writing isn’t the senseless kind of horror that just gives you the creeps without an underlying message. His writing is neat, full of detail and, I must say, beautiful. It’s a pleasure to read what he writes, even if it’s about the Yawning (these huge monsters that can swallow you whole) or the Cretins (these little white dudes that speak in a reverse language and have attitude problems).
In the first book the protagonist, Donovan Candle, had a nice scare and a second chance to change his path and not flicker out of existence (The Spectrum) and into The Monochrome. Thing is, second chances don’t always go as planned and, even though he did change his ways and started to live a more fulfilling existence, he did give up on his dreams. And that’s a big No-No!
The Liminal Man, second book of the trilogy, takes us on a journey where Donovan is standing right in the middle of it. He’s changed, but not enough. In Aleister Dullington and Dr. Sparrow’s words: “You’re the insane one, Mr. Candle. You’re the cause of your own failure. The question is, what will you do about it when the time comes? Well, I will give you a hint –you need to act. [...] You have been charged with the sin of inaction.” Ouch. “You replaced mediocrity with a new addiction: complacency.” Double ouch.
What I loved about this second book was the addition of insights into other victims of The Monochrome, especially young ones. We all think conformity comes from years and years of that “inaction” and it was nice to see that it’s not so. Conformity can come at any age, just follow all those rules we’re imposed by society, give up on doing whatever fancies your creativity, and you’ll hit it face first.
Don’t, just don’t. Repeat after Donovan: “I WAS MEANT FOR MORE THAN THIS!”
I’ve said before that I take a lot of inspiration from movies. Then I read this post at the Park Theatre blog and thought ‘yes, exactly, we can get inspiration from odd places/things/people/whatever and it doesn’t mean we’re copying or using them as they came.’
In order to celebrate those random bits of inspiration, I’ve decided to share with you some of the many clips that have been in my mind while writing book 2 of The Caregiver.
All of these movies/series are awesome and you should watch them if you haven’t already.
From Wild Bill
From Love, Honour and Obey
From The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
From The Bourne Ultimatum
From The Night Porter
From Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead (the whole movie, but mostly Lucinda and Jimmy during the first 4 minutes of this clip)
From Layer Cake (no, I never get tired of this one!)
In my first novella, The Caregiver, we follow Interpol agent Scarlett Lang through what would be the most important mission in her career so far: pose as caregiver for London’s biggest drug-lord, Armand Sayer. This vignette is about the day she met Romulus Moretti, the one that would become her superior at Interpol, years before the story on the book starts. It gives a glimpse of how and why she became an agent. Enjoy!
It was a fucking long corridor. I kept glancing at the backs of the two men walking in front of us, thinking how wrong all of this felt. The air conditioning was a nice change from the scorching Miami sun, that was for sure.
Their names were Douglas and James. They introduced themselves when we reached the lobby of the unidentified building we were in, right after we exchanged some of the most uncomfortable handshakes I’ve ever experienced.
Cisneros’s incredibly sober look didn’t help either. I was sure they were cops, it showed in the way they walked with their puffed chests and the permanent grimace in their faces. Why we were there was beyond my comprehension. All Cisneros told me was to trust him.
He’d never given me a reason not to.
But, as they say, there’s a first time for everything.
The officer by the name of James opened the door to an office and ushered us into a pair of chairs in front of a cheap-looking metal desk, then left. Douglas stood behind us in silence.
Cisneros was fidgeting with the edge of his jacket over his lap. I was starting to believe it hadn’t been a good idea to leave my gun in the car, like he asked me to.
James opened the door –apparently, he was the designated doorman– and a tall man, dark hair peppered with gray at the temples, appeared. We stood to greet him but he crossed us.
“No need for that.” His English accent struck me. “I promise this will be quite quick.”
He was the oldest of them all. Douglas didn’t look more than forty, and James could only be a couple years older than me, nowhere close to thirty.
Cisneros stirred in his seat. He had deals with some London people but they never came to the States, he always flew to meet them there.
“My name is Romulus Moretti.” He proceeded to sit behind the desk and place the folder he had been carrying on the desktop. “I’m a Detective Inspector from the Metropolitan Police in London, and do believe me when I tell you I’ve been looking forward to this meeting, Miss Lang.”
“Have we met?” As soon as I spoke, Cisneros gave a little jump. Odd.
“No.” He drawled, as he started pulling pictures out of the folder and setting them on the desk. “But I know more about you than you think. Come. Take a look at these.” I stared into his eyes and he gave me a half-grin. “I don’t bite.”
I don’t need to say that phrase didn’t make me feel any better about this.
I pushed myself forward and felt the color on my face vanish. An array of pictures lay between us. Pictures of victims I had murdered. Blown heads, bloodshot eyes, brain matter scattered on the pavement.
“What is this about?” I flashed Cisneros an angry glance that he didn’t meet. “What the fuck is this?”
“It’s OK, Miss Lang. We’re not here to prosecute you. We’re here to make you an offer.”
“Whatever it is, I’m not interested. Thank you.” I rose, but a pair of hands were immediately at my shoulders, pushing me down.
“Not so fast, Miss Lang,” Moretti barked, nodding at James, encouraging him to make sure I sat back down. “You can’t jump to conclusions if you haven’t even given me the chance to explain.”
I rearranged my shirt and stared angrily at Moretti, all the while shooting darts out my eyes at James.
“Good. Now that I have your attention, I can proceed by telling you that after being in contact with your grandfather for a while, we’ve decided to make you a deal. I’m currently working for the Interpol in the United Kingdom and have taken part in an interagency project that is seeking recruits…”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Moretti, but I think you’re mistaken.” My interruption drew a nice frown in his face. “If you know me as well as you say you do, and if you’ve spoken to my grandfather, you should know there is no way an agency like the Interpol would even consider hiring me.”
The frown melted into a sardonic smile. “That’s exactly why this is a deal and not a job proposition. You see, Miss Lang, this project requires both expertise and… connections. We’re not looking to recruit sheltered young men and women that dream of becoming agents just to put a spice in their lives. We’re looking for people that have been there, and – literally – done that. Young people like you, with the skills and the desire to get out of that life.”
“Get out?” A sideways glance confirmed Cisneros was looking intently at me.
“Yes.” He leaned forward, his hands steepled over the desk. “Get out. We are aware of the tension that has permeated in your relationship with your grandfather. And Rafael here has told us about your intentions to leave the murder-by-contract business as soon as you finish studying. You will not be removed from the life you lead, all you will have to do is pick up the phone when we call and be available to go on missions when we ask you to.”
“Missions? Military kind of missions?”
“There will be some akin to military jobs. Undercover work may also be necessary. You’ll have a steady paycheck and agency credentials. In your case, since you will be working under my supervision, we would be arranging for you to have Interpol credentials.”
This didn’t make any fucking sense.
“I’ve been working with them for the past year.” Cisneros spoke like someone that had broken a vow of silence. “Scarlett, I know how much you want to leave all this behind you.” He turned to me and some of the nervousness had slipped off his features. “It’s not too late to change paths. At least not for you.”
“What if I refuse?” I switched to Moretti. “What if I don’t want any of your shit?” I spat out that last word in utter disgust.
Moretti snorted, then looked at me from under his eyebrows. “When was the last time you spoke to your grandfather?”
I narrowed my eyes at him. “Six years ago?”
“He’s never shown any repentance from the things he did to you, or has he?” He was staring at me, searching for whatever sign my face was giving away. “He still regards you with that nickname he had for you. What was it? Scumbag?”
Oh poker face, don’t forsake me now. “Yes.”
Again, Cisneros was looking intently at me. Fuck this psychological shit.
“This doesn’t make sense at all. They could’ve sent someone from the Miami Police Department, not you from the other side of the Atlantic.”
“It is in our interest that you work far from where you’re already known. I was randomly selected to recruit you. As I said, this is an interagency program, so you will be working with other agents with Interpol credentials, as well as from other agencies. It really doesn’t matter as long as we can guarantee that travel won’t be a problem.”
“What’s the catch?”
“There is no exact catch. Just the fact that you will be working for us, all under my strict supervision. You will have to travel, and it may be required that you spend some time in London, but that hasn’t been decided. Other than that, you will receive, as I said, a steady paycheck, while having the liberty to go on with your current job.
Once your work with us is done, your record will be clean. You’ll be given a clean slate, a new life, Miss Lang. Away from the world that has hurt you, from those that have deserted you. The same world that took away your parents and forced you to live a life of misery and loss. Isn’t it time you took your knowledge and used it for good? We are giving you what you crave, a second chance in life. We don’t give this out to just anyone, you know?”
I rested my eyes on Cisneros and, when he faced me, it was with a solemn plea in his eyes. He was mentally setting his hand on the small of my back and pushing me, ever so gently. Like a father would.
Like he always did.
“I’ll have to think about it.”
“Take all the time you need, Miss Lang.” Moretti rose from his seat, collecting the pictures and putting them back into the folder. “We will be in touch.” He strode to the door, where James was, already waiting for him. “This is James, by the way, but we all call him Jimmy, and that is Douglas.”
Cisneros and I were standing next to our chairs. “Yeah, they introduced themselves.”
“Great. After you, then.” He gestured us to the open door and when I had crossed it, he cut between Cisneros and I to set his hand on my back while leaning into my ear. “Your grandfather told me you were no good. That I would be disappointed.” He then shifted to step in my way. “I beg to differ.” His teeth gleamed through his smile. “And I would love to prove that old man wrong.”
He patted my shoulder and started down the corridor, an air of casualness in his stride.
I looked at Cisneros and he held my gaze.
“Please?” The porter called James nicknamed Jimmy interrupted, beckoning us to follow him out.
I rushed towards Romulus’s receding back. “Hey!” He paused, waiting for me to reach his side. “What if I say yes?”
He raised an eyebrow and cocked his head to one side. “Then I swear I will make it worth your time.”