Interpol

On how Romulus convinced Scarlett to sign the contract

In The Caregiver Series 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.

This vignette takes place before Book 1, after Vignette #3 & #5

Read Vignette #1 , Vignette #2 , Vignette #3, Vignette #4, Vignette #5

Book 1 is FREE today and tomorrow! (Nov 1 & 2)

Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Detective Inspector Romulus Moretti awaited Rafael Cisneros’ and my arrival at Heathrow. Our flight was delayed by a couple of hours and even when I called him to tell him we could hail a taxi when we got there, he insisted on picking us up himself, no matter how late it got.

It had been two weeks since our meeting in Miami and we’d kept in touch both by phone and email. He was more than okay with me asking questions and wanting more information, and he answered every one of them with enough detail to make me feel better about this.

Only thing was, I preferred his written answers. Our phone calls were lengthy. Too lengthy. And strayed towards more personal subjects every now and then.

I must confess there was something about him. Something I still couldn’t pinpoint and that made me feel a little queasy.

It’s probably that he’s a cop. I kept telling myself. Even if you’ve always dreamt of becoming one you have to accept the fact that you were raised not to trust them.

Baggage claimed, Cisneros lead the way to where Romulus was waiting with his police officer stance and a smug smile on his face.

“Cisneros.” They shook hands before Romulus turned to me, his smile softening to an almost tender one. “Miss Lang. Welcome to London.”

The moment we stepped out into the cold my stomach started doing somersaults. This was it. The one opportunity I’d been waiting for my whole fucking life. The chance to put my past behind and start anew. Bonus points for it to be in a different city also.

“Are you hungry?” Romulus asked as he held the passenger door of his car for me.

I stared at him for a bit longer than normal. “A bit.”

That was, apparently, the answer he was waiting for because he grinned and said, “There’s a pub near the hotel you’ll be staying. We could go there.”

Did I fail to mention he booked a hotel room for me? I always stayed at Cisneros’ while in London, yet he wouldn’t have any of that. I wasn’t in a position to protest, nor did I want to start an argument with the one that was only a John Hancock away from becoming my boss, so I said yes to that.

And yes to leaving Cisneros at his house before heading for said hotel.

And thanks but no thanks when Cisneros reminded me he and Bobby were only a call away if I needed anything.

What could happen, really? It wasn’t as if I hadn’t killed men double Romulus’s size.

We were off and the first thing Romulus did was sigh.

“What?” I asked.

“Rafael is always so stressed. Pissing himself all the time.”

“Only when there are cops around. Ever been to one of his parties?”

“No.” He drawled. “He’s never invited me to one. Are they any good?”

“Good? They’re the best. Nothing but champagne and cigars.”

“You smoke?”

“Depends on the occasion.”

A sideglance, a cocked eyebrow. I was getting some signals from this guy I didn’t really know how to interpret.

Or was it that I didn’t want to interpret them at all?

I wasn’t a naïve little girl. I knew where this could go if I let it.

Getting a good look at his hands I noticed he didn’t have a ring, nor did his ring finger show a lack of sun exposure over the last knuckle.

“Do you have any children?”

My inquiry took him by surprise, to the point of making him scoff. “Yes. Three.” I nodded, letting him be consumed by his thoughts about why I brought that question up, when he asked back. “Do you?”

Didn’t he know everything about me already?

“No.”

Now he nodded and said nothing more.

It takes two to play this game.

“Here we are.” He announced once we arrived at the hotel.

He took my luggage, checked me in, and escorted me to my room. “Everything’s paid for and if you incur in any other charges during your stay the agency will cover it.” He stood by the closed door while I inspected my surroundings.

“I haven’t signed anything yet.”

“It’s a risk we’re willing to take.”

I swung my bag over the bed to cover what my eyes were doing, which was studying him. He looked more relaxed than at the airport, although his arms were crossed over his chest.

His looks were more than agreeable, I must confess. A strong build, sweet dark eyes, and the grays in his hair really suited him.

“Do you need anything? Should I come by later?”

“Nah, it’s okay.” I glanced at my watch and it was late, but not too much. “Is that invitation to the pub still on?”

“I can give you some time to deal with the jet lag.”

“Nothing a couple of pints can’t take care of.”

He sent me a half-grin, uncrossing his arms and turning for the door. “I’ll wait in the lobby.”

I stared at the door as it shut behind him and didn’t notice I hadn’t moved until my mobile vibrated inside my jacket’s pocket. Bobby. I wasn’t picking that call up so I texted him I was okay before checking my makeup and heading down to where Romulus was waiting for me.

We walked over to the pub, sat at a table away from the windows and were quick to start on our beers, and plates of chips.

“Tomorrow we’ll visit Spring Gardens so you can meet your coworkers, get acquainted, see the premises.”

“And what is this about? Getting acquainted with the boss?”

He leaned back in his seat, giving a look around before staring straight into my eyes. “I know you’re not used to having someone supervise your work. I promise not to be the obtrusive kind.”

“What do you know about my work anyway?”

He pushed himself forward, elbows on the table, and drew his face as close to my side as he could. “I know all I need to know: that you’re the best. And, between you and me, I believe that, very soon, you’ll be surpassing your grandfather. A great feat for a 24-year-old.”

“You said my contract would start and end with you.”

“It will. You’ll work under me since the moment you sign to the moment you call it quits. In the rare case that I may have to be the one who ceases to work with the project, you’ll be free to decide if you want to stay working with us or not.”

“Us. That’s something you still haven’t explained.”

“You sure ask a lot of questions.” He was resting on his arms over the table now. “I wonder if you’d be so eager if it were you on the other side.”

Some guttural cat-like sound threatened to come out of my lips.

“Try me.”

He ordered another round and waited until we were served.

Ready. Steady. Go.

“Last job.”

“Two weeks ago.”

“For whom?”

Raised eyebrow. “A friend.”

“Where?”

“Monterrey, México.”

“Any other jobs in your agenda?”

“Not yet.”

“Do you have a concealed weapon with you right now?”

“Yes.”

“Is it the one you used for that job?”

“I use rifles for my jobs.”

“Who was the unlucky bastard?”

Pause. “A shop owner.”

“Shop? What kind?”

“Pawn shop. Arms trafficker.”

“How did you kill him?”

“Waited until he got into his car and shot him in the head from a building across the street.”

“Witnesses?”

“Nope.”

“How did it feel to pull that trigger?”

“Like always.”

“And how is that?”

I leaned over the table to join him midway. “Better than sex.”

“Is it?”

“Very.”

“I beg to differ.”

“Then you’ve never had a rifle in your hands and a target in sight.”

“I have.”

“Then you know it is.”

“I find many differences between both acts.”

“Like what?”

“I’m the one asking the questions.”

I sat back, my eyes not leaving his, and raised my hands to my sides.

“Shoot me then.”

“No.”

“Oh. Forgot you London police can’t walk around with guns.”

He pushed back the side of his jacket, reaching for something in one of his trouser’s pockets.

A pair of handcuffs.

And set them on the table between us.

“I don’t think I’ll need a gun when it comes to you.”

I sipped from my beer.

He tapped a finger on the metal contraptions, a half-grin etched on his face.

“I don’t think so either.”

When I went for the handcuffs he snatched them. “Not so fast. You sign the contract first.”

“So they sent you to dine me and wine me while sweet talking me into signing?”

“None of that. I’m just trying to make the process smoother. Everybody’s scared you’ll refuse our offer.”

“I should. Not only am I not used to being supervised, I’m not used to people denying me of what I want.”

He pushed the handcuffs to me as he gulped the last of his beer. I hastened to do the same, taking the cuffs in my fist and following him out of the pub and back to the hotel.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Liked this vignette? Then you’ll love the books!

Book 1 is FREE today and tomorrow!

Check out Book 1’s Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.

The Caregiver

Available here: Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk

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R-Day has come!

R-Day as in Release Day!

Cover for Torn, The Caregiver Book 2

When she pulled the trigger on her supervisor, Scarlett thought she was saving the life of the man she loves while at the same time freeing herself from her duties with the Interpol. She couldn’t have been more wrong.

Now a new boss has stepped in, assigning her to a mission that will reveal the truth of her recruitment with the agency and forcing her to fly to Puerto Rico to meet with her grandfather, world famous hit man, Adrian Lang.

For Armand, it’s the perfect wedding destination and an opportunity to help her mend her relationship with her grandfather. For her, it’s an open invitation for both friends and foes from the past to drag her back into the hell she fought so hard to leave behind.

Yet one question troubles her the most: Will her relationship with Armand remain unchanged after her past is exposed?

 

Now available for Kindle. Get it while it’s hot!

US: http://www.amazon.com/Torn-Book-Caregiver-Series-ebook/dp/B00D3T7YKO/

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Torn-Book-Caregiver-Series-ebook/dp/B00D3T7YKO/

DE: http://www.amazon.de/Torn-Book-Caregiver-Series-ebook/dp/B00D3T7YKO/

FR: http://www.amazon.fr/Torn-Book-Caregiver-Series-ebook/dp/B00D3T7YKO/

CA: http://www.amazon.ca/Torn-Book-2-Caregiver-ebook/dp/B00D3T7YKO/

IT: http://www.amazon.it/Torn-Book-Caregiver-Series-ebook/dp/B00D3T7YKO/

JP: http://www.amazon.co.jp/Torn-Book-Caregiver-Series-ebook/dp/B00D3T7YKO/

ES: http://www.amazon.es/Torn-Book-Caregiver-Series-ebook/dp/B00D3T7YKO/

BR: http://www.amazon.com.br/Torn-Book-Caregiver-Series-ebook/dp/B00D3T7YKO/

 

Thank you all for your support!

On how Scarlett thought the ‘becoming an agent thing’ over

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 a BONUS! In this one we meet a very important character from Scarlett’s past that will appear in Book 2: Roberto Cisneros.

Enjoy!

Read Vignette #1 , Vignette #2 , Vignette #3, Vignette #4

Want to have them all together with a nice cover to read later? I’ve compiled these five vignettes in eBook format!

Get your FREE copy at Smashwords!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The red leather booth in the diner couldn’t contain both me and the colony of invisible ants that was crawling up and down my flesh. The memory of the meeting with that English dude and the other two agents seemed more and more surreal every time I replayed it in my head.

Cisneros hadn’t been very talkative afterwards. Not that we talked much anyway, only the necessary, which was mostly professional stuff: who to kill, where to do it, how much was in it for me… Except, of course, for the times where we’d all sit around his study talking through a cloud of cigar smoke, having a laugh over a bottle scotch or wine.

It was a whole other story with his half-brother, though. Roberto and Rafael had no blood ties, since Roberto was adopted by Rafael’s father after he married his mother. I often thought: had they been blood brothers, they wouldn’t be as close. They were as different as night and day, from their nationalities (Rafael was of Colombian ascent; Roberto, of Cuban), to their lines of work (one was a drug dealer; the other, a police detective).

Sitting with a clear view of the door is a must for everyone in a position like mine. And when the man with the brown suit, gun holstered under his jacket, badge pinned to his belt, pushed the door open, I was the first to see him. His olive eyes locked on me, and he smiled as he approached me.

“So,” he gave me a kiss on the cheek before sliding into his seat, “what’s this mysterious thing you can call me about but can’t tell me over the phone?”

“Well, hello. I don’t remember sleeping with you last night.”

His eyes shone over his sly smile. “Say the word and I can change that.”

“How’s the new wife doing?”

Jane, the old woman that waitressed there, cut in before he could reply. “You two having the usual?”

“Yes, Jane, the usual.” Roberto flashed her one of his smiles and made sure she was out of earshot before combing his dark brown hair back with his fingers and taking a deep breath. “She’s pregnant.”

What. The. Fuck.

“C-Congratulations.”

Jane brought us our coffees, giving me some time to process the news. No, I wasn’t emotionally involved with Roberto. We had something. Past tense. Not anymore.

Get a fucking grip.

“Thank you. If it’s a girl I’m naming her Scarlett.”

“The world doesn’t need another fucked up version of me.” I swirled the sugar in my drink while he poured a considerable amount into his.

“I wouldn’t say that. But we’re not here to discuss that. Are you going to tell me what you called me for?”

“I’ve been offered a job at Interpol.”

He choked on his coffee. I was quick to hand him a napkin, and pushed his arm away before he wiped his mouth with his sleeve. “Oh, come on! You’ll ruin your suit.”

“Interpol?” He dabbed the corners of his mouth with the napkin, his eyes wide. “Seriously?”

“Did you know your brother is an informant?” He frowned, casting his eyes down without a word. “Of course you did. I bet it was you who cracked him.”

“I did know. But it wasn’t me.”

“And neither of you told me.”

“No need to, you’re perfectly safe as you are.”

“You two treat me like a child sometimes.”

“Never.” He took another sip of his coffee before gently setting the cup down. “Now, about that job offer of yours…”

“This English dude came all the way from London to offer me ‘a deal.’ To work for some program they’ve come up with, go on missions for them, and, after all is done, whatever record I have will be erased, and I’ll be free.”

Jane arrived with Roberto’s pastrami sandwich, the red basket overflowing with french fries, my philly cheese steak with their signature onion rings, and two tall glasses of coke to wash it all down.

“That’s bullshit, Scarlett.”

“I’m not kidding.”

“Give me your wrist.”

I rolled my eyes before extending my arm over the table. “Sure thing, human lie detector. The dude’s also a detective, you know? Detective Inspector. They’ve got funny names for policemen there.”

He set his fore and middle finger on the underside of my wrist, taking a glance at his watch for a moment before proceeding. “When did this happen?”

“This morning.” I answered without hesitation. He’d always do this when he thought I was lying.

“And you say he was English?”

“Yes. Very. His name’s Romulus, said he works for the Metropolitan police and the Interpol. A bit of a douchebag, if you ask me.”

“And what kind of deal was it?”

“I already told you.”

“Scarlett…,” he chided me.

“Work with an interagency program that is seeking recruits with… how did he say it? Contacts. Yeah, that. They give agent status to people who are in the business but want out. A new life, a clean slate. The chance to put everything bad behind me. At last.”

His face dropped, and he let my wrist go from his grip. If anyone knew how much I’d been through in my still-short life, it was him.

“Never heard of such a program.” He scooped a half of his sandwich, “Why bring someone all the way from England?” and bit into it.

“Your brother deals with some London people.” I took off the top of my sandwich and put a couple of onion rings inside. “And the dude said they wanted me to work away from where I’m known. I’d be travelling around, not necessarily to England, maybe some other countries. Also, he said I’d be Interpol because he’s Interpol, but that there are others with different agency credentials.”

“I don’t know, Scarlett. Doesn’t sound right to me. Interpol doesn’t recruit people that aren’t already working in some agency or police department, much less send people on missions around the world.”

“I told him, and his answer was that the credentials were mostly for travel and payroll purposes.”

“Still doesn’t make sense.” He was attacking his food with a passion, as if channeling his emotions by biting and chewing on it.

“What did Rafael say?”

“That he’d been working with them for the past year.”

“See?” He picked a french fry and pointed it at me, “I didn’t know that,” then shoved it into his mouth. “I’ll have to talk to him about it. Did he know the guy that talked to you?”

“Apparently, yes. The dude knows Adrian and had even talked to him prior to our meeting.”

Roberto rose in height at my statement, taken aback. “What?! He spoke to Adrian about recruiting you?”

“Told me Adrian tried to talk him out of it, that I was no good. Oh, and he still hasn’t let go of the Scarlett the Scumbag thing.”

“Fucker.”

I finished the first half of my sandwich, took a large gulp of soda, and set my hands flat on the table. “I want out, Bobby. I- I don’t know if I can go on with this for much longer. There’s no life in this business. There may still be time for me. I’m twenty-four, you know?”

“You saying that makes me feel like a pervert.”

“Why? You’re only forty-six.”

“Only?” He chuckled. “Thank you. That’s the nicest thing you’ve said to me in a while.”

“I think I’ll be taking the offer.” I went on eating the second half of my sandwich; it was too good to let it go cold. “What’s the worst that could happen? That it’s some bogus program and I end up having to kill them?”

The last bit of his sandwich hovered in front of him, midway to his mouth. “Probably.”

“I’ll always have you to cover my ass for me.”

“You’re in luck, then. I’ve also got a job offer.” He finished his food and wiped his hands clean. “CIA.”

“Whoa. You’ve been wanting that for some time now.”

“Yes, I have.” He leaned over the table. “I’ll always be there for you, Scarlett. I appreciate you calling me to talk this over.” His eyes trained on me, I could hear the truth in his words. With Bobby, emotions were always only skin deep. “I’d advise you to think it through, even though I know you’ve already made your mind. If this is, indeed, a way out, then I’m all for it.”

I cleared my plate before pushing it aside.

“You know I’m always a phone call away.” He continued. “If there’s anything I wish is for you to leave all this behind.”

“Step into the light?” I crossed my arms over my chest and leaned back.

He pushed himself forward. “But never let it blind you.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Liked this vignette? Then you’ll love the book!

Check out Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.

Or buy it, it’s only 99¢ (£0.77, €0.89)!

The Caregiver book cover

Available here: Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.es, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Diesel

On how Scarlett got into this mess in the first place… (The Caregiver Series vignette #3)

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!

Read Vignette #1 here.

Read Vignette #2 here.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.

Decisions. Decisions.

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.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Liked this vignette? Then you’ll love the book!

Check out Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.

Or buy it, it’s only 99¢ (£0.77, €0.89)!

The Caregiver book cover

Available here: Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.es, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Diesel

On Inspiration… Books and Movies Edition

First, some words of wisdom from someone I admire and take inspiration from:

“I think anything involved in telling stories is not just worthy, it’s crucial. Otherwise, how the hell do we find out who we are unless we explain ourselves to each other via books, or cinema, or theatre, or journalism, or documentary, or whatever? If we’re just parading egos around, or acquiring stuff, and we measure ourselves by that, then we’re lost.”

– Alan Rickman in an anterview aired 1/21/12 on NY1 network

Ah, soak on that for a bit.

I’ve been writing all my life, blah blah yadda yadda, stories archived somewhere in my parents’ house, why the hell would you like the smell of gasoline?, papers with fragments of stories scattered all over my room, put the knife down, missy!, never enough notebooks and pens, more blah blah, fast forward to now.

I wrote a book about a young woman named Scarlett who is an Interpol agent and then she gets hired as a caregiver for London’s biggest drug lord and she’s like tough and handy with guns and knives and all that awesome stuff you don’t want to miss.

However, this post isn’t to talk about what goes on in the book, but about what inspired me to write it.

I use a lot of movies for inspiration (bad writer! I blame @mikecane for most of the recommendations) because I come from an audiovisual background and believe they help a lot with rhythm when it comes to action scenes. So, here’s a little list I made for y’all:

Layer Cake, book by J. J. Connolly:

(Click on the image to go to Amazon’s Kindle Store)

I must say I really liked this book even though it took me some time to read it. The cockney accents, the action, the twists. There wasn’t a moment I didn’t like.

How did I get my hands on the book? I saw the movie, got the book, read it, and I don’t regret doing it (they work well as standalones). I recommend them both, separately.

Layer Cake movie

The trailer:

It’s a great movie, and these scenes deserve a special mention:

The opening monologue (NSFW):

The audio isn’t very good, but it’s worth it if you haven’t seen it.

And the awesome song + action mashup scene:

London Boulevard, book by Ken Bruen

(Click on the image to go to Amazon’s Kindle Store)

Ah, this book. I also read it after watching the movie and was pleasantly surprised because it has almost nothing to do with the film. They have so little resemblance, but not in a bad way. They both have their merits.

I loved Ken Bruen’s style, got sucked into the story and came out another person. Yeah, I did. My head was so full of ideas I had to sit down and write or I’d die of an idea stroke.

Check out the movie trailer:

Gangster No. 1 movie

I have lost count of how many times I’ve seen this movie, it’s that good.

And, oh yes, the Mr. Nice movie

Goodness gracious that movie! I was loving every minute of it, then it got all dark and scary, then it went back to being likable. A must see.

I think the vids speak by themselves. They can also give you an idea on what to expect of Book 1 and what will come in Book 2. *wink wink*

Also, that’s a triple dose of David Thewlis for you right there!

A Girl Cut in Two movie

This is one of my favorite movies. It gets into the more psychological stuff. The theme of a May December romance takes a dark twist in it, which I like, even though I wouldn’t go there in my own stories (or would I?). If you’ve seen this movie and read my book, you’ll know where the reference is.

And last, but not least, a song that was on repeat all the effing time (with an excellent mash-up to Casino Royale’s opening credits). I’ll make a post about my playlist later on, but I’ll leave you with this one for now:

Chapter 2 of The Caregiver (Book 1 of The Caregiver Series)

My first novella, The Caregiver: Book 1, is out!

Written by me (@artistikem) and edited by Diana Campo (@dianadhevi).

And here is chapter 2. Enjoy!

Chapter 2

My first evening in Sayer’s mansion passed quietly and without much trouble. Helga came back with his meds, repeated what seemed like a hundred times that his physician, Dr. Hart, had ordered to keep him in bed at all times, and showed me how he liked his tea made, for whenever George wasn’t available. Of course, Mr. Sayer didn’t comply with staying bed-ridden, so I let him be and went to sleep early.

On my second day, I met George, or should I say, I saw George’s frown float around the house without proffering more than a “Top of the morning” and an about-face. The man, with long arms and skinny fingers, wouldn’t talk or even look at me. At one point I tried to step in his way so he would have to at least stop one second and acknowledge my presence. However, it didn’t work. Nothing did. By nightfall, I had given up for the day, and when Helga came by and asked me if I had met him, I told her we had gotten acquainted quite well. If he didn’t want anything to do with me, I wouldn’t push him.

Late on the third day, Helga brought a list of errands for me, which Mr. Sayer dismissed the moment she was out the door. Finding myself without work in my new workplace, I retired to my room and went through my clothes, uniforms and the few things I had brought… for the hundredth time. This was going to be harder than I thought.

It was around ten in the evening, as I wandered around the house, when I saw that the lights in the office were lit. I walked towards it, drawn like a moth, and found Mr. Sayer sitting behind his desk, talking on the phone. As soon as he saw me, I tried to make my escape.

“Scarlett?”

He saw me. I froze, but then decided that, since he had called my name, I couldn’t ignore him, so I turned around. He hung up the phone and beckoned me into the room.

“You shouldn’t be walking around the house this late, Mr. Sayer.”

“What other lies did my sister tell you? What else did she instruct you to prohibit me?”

“Pretty much everything that isn’t staying in bed the whole day.”

He chuckled, finding it amusing somehow, while I stood behind an elegant leather chair, my hands clutching the seams.

He walked around the desk. “As much as I love my sister, I can’t let her do this to me. She’s always been very possessive, but this has gone too far,” he leaned back on the edge of the desk, his arms crossed over his chest. “That’s why I asked her to find someone other than George that could take care of me. So I could get her off my back.”

“Whose instructions should I follow, then?”

“When Helga is around, act as if you’re following hers. But really, all I need is someone to be around so she stops harassing me about being ill and sleeping all day. You can do whatever you want, really. I have things to do and I must get back to them as soon as possible.”

“I understand.”

“Good to know that you do. Now, would you be nice enough to bring me some tea? I know I shouldn’t be asking you this, but George is out and won’t be back until early morning.”

“Yes, sir. I’ll be right back.”

I ran quickly down the stairs to the first floor and made the tea as Helga had instructed me. I took a lot of care on how I placed everything on the tray so it would all stay put through the flights of stairs back to Sayer’s office.
He waved for me to come in the moment I reached the door, all the while keeping an animated conversation with someone on the other side of the phone.

“Call me if you make arrangements for next Thursday, Max. See you then.”

“No wonder your sister is so worried about you. Making plans already?” I commented as soon as he hung up.

“You brought only one cup.”

“The tea is for you, Mr. Sayer.”

“Don’t you like tea? It’s very soothing. Helps me sleep when I’m stressed.”

“As a matter of fact, I do like tea.”

“Then,” he rummaged inside one of his desk’s drawers and took out another cup, “have it with me. It may be the first of many. How do you like this place so far?”

“It’s a beautiful house. I like it very much,” I felt so at ease as he poured tea into both cups and slid one towards me, that I was starting to talk to him like I would to a friend. I straightened my back in an effort to straighten my demeanor.

“Are you keeping the job? You know you can walk out whenever you want if you don’t like it.”

“I’ve been here for only three days. So far so good.”

“I do hope you stay. This house feels so empty sometimes it makes me want to get out running like a mad man. Sit down. You don’t want to drink your tea standing up.”

“Yes, Mr. Sayer.”

A noise came from the floor below, startling us both.

“It’s too early for George to be back.” Another noise and Mr. Sayer left his seat and went to the window. “Drunk kids in the street.”

He walked away from the window and back to the desk when another noise, this time louder and closer, was heard. We left the office together – I tiptoed while he tried to step very slowly so his shoes wouldn’t make a sound – and searched for the source.

We kept looking down from the third floor to the second but saw nothing, then I went into one of the bedrooms and saw a shadow by the window. Mr. Sayer tried to pull me back but I didn’t yield. I pulled a 22 mm gun from my pocket and quietly sidestepped close to the wall towards the window.

The silhouette of a man came to view and I pointed my gun at it, ready to confront whoever was outside the window and crawling around the walls of the house. I could feel my own heavy breathing, as if the whole room was beating along with my heart, as if it knew that my finger was tightening its grip on the trigger, little by little.

“Don’t shoot the glass, it’s bulletproof,” Sayer whispered to my ear.

I released the trigger but kept my aim on the window. There was silence for a moment and no sign of the shadow or whatever it was that made the noises. When I turned around, Sayer was right behind me, his whole body stiff, his hands in tight fists.

“The drunken kids, I believe,” I commented sarcastically as I lowered my gun.

“Where did you get that gun?”

Then came a bang on one of the back doors, and I rushed into my room, pulled my luggage from under the bed and took out another gun, my handy 9 mm. When I came out of the room, Sayer was emerging from the library with a 40 mm and was shocked to see me holding a different gun to my side.

The noise rang out again, and all shock was left behind as I hastened down the stairs. He stayed behind. Not that I cared. I had to check on whatever was happening before he did.

I strode across the hall into the kitchen and saw another silhouette through the glass on the back door. It froze, as if it was looking at me, before turning to run away. I shot once and the bullet bounced right off it, hitting a wall, a lamp.

“Fuck!” I ducked until it stopped. The whole house was bulletproof.

I opened the door and sped through the grass into the backyard while the silhouette fled in zigzags, dodging my bullets. Then a second silhouette appeared out of nowhere and I could see the shiny metal gun glinting under the lampposts’ light. Before I could shoot, he was dead on the floor. I instinctively looked up and saw Sayer shutting a window on the second floor. This was my cue to go after the other one, the one that had stopped to see the fall of his companion.

I ran towards him and managed to close the distance between us before he realized I was on him. With his eyes still on the corpse, he pointed another shiny gun at me and squeezed the trigger once, missing me by inches. Not that he cared, because he was still standing in the same spot when I got dangerously near.

“Who are you? What are you doing here?” He didn’t answer, so I pressed my gun to his temple. “Answer me!”

He dropped the gun and took off the black mask that covered his face. His white skin stood out against the black of his suit. He was a young man, probably in his twenties. His nose tip was red, and tears were rolling down his cheeks.

“I’m new to this.”

“Who sent you?”

“I can’t tell.”

“For fuck’s sake, just answer the fucking question!”

“I can’t! They’ll kill my family.”

I chuckled. “They must be dead by now, and you’ll also be dead if you don’t answer me.”

We both heard the limping steps of Sayer as he slowly approached us.

“Scarlett, go back inside!”

“I’ve got it Mr. Sayer,” I turned to face him, “don’t worry,” but was startled as he shot the guy before I could. The kid had picked up his gun and was about to shoot me without my notice.

“Get in!” Sayer roared, grabbing me by the arm and pulling me back into the house.

His face was flushed, his brows were furrowed, and his eyes didn’t meet mine until we were in a study on the first floor. He pushed me into a chair, took my gun, placed it with his own on the table, and pulled out his mobile.

“George, we have two dead squirrels in the backyard,” he said before hanging up and turning back to me. “Who are you?”

His enraged eyes were gazing into mine and I could feel the trembling creeping up from my feet, through my legs and my body, down my arms and hands.

He took his gun back from the table, cocked it and pointed it to my head.

“My name is Scarlett Lang.”

“Who sent you?”

“I was recommended by Rafael Cisneros when your sister went to him searching for a caregiver.” I gulped before proceeding. “My grandfather owns the shooting range Cisneros uses to train his men.”

“Cisneros? You know Cisneros?”

“Yes. Adrian Lang is his name. My grandfather’s, I mean.”

The barrel of his gun cut through the thickness of the air between us, dispersing and redistributing it around the room, as he pulled it away from me.

“Helga,” he said to himself. “She means good, but in her effort she has exposed me. There is no doubt someone sent those kids because she’s being followed.”

My mouth felt dry and my heart was racing so fast I thought it would drill its way out of my chest.

“She knows that you handle guns, doesn’t she?”

“It was one of the requirements for hiring me, so that I could help protect you. After the attack on you and your family, she’s worried you’ll suffer another one.”

“That’s why I stayed here, to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Now tell me, are you even a real nurse?”

“Yes, sir, I am.”

“Well,” his face relaxed, and my trembling vanished. “Those two were young and inexperienced. It won’t help much to see what the security cameras recorded. We stopped them on time,” he said as he looked round, then turned to me, “and our tea must’ve gone cold. If you ask me,” he gave me my gun back, “it’s time for bed,” and limped out of the room.

“Night, sir.”

“You can keep the job, Scarlett,” his voice floated back through the hallway. “Couldn’t have found a better match for this myself.”

###

The Caregiver book cover

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.

The book is already available for purchase on:

Smashwords & Amazon

The Caregiver (Book 1 of the Caregiver Series)

My first novella, The Caregiver: Book 1, will be out later this month, so here goes a sneak peek!

Written by me (@artistikem) and edited by Diana Campo (@dianadhevi).

Chapter 1

“Do you know what you’re here for?” The woman with the English accent and stern eyes was peering at me, trying hard not to squint but failing.

“I am here to care for Mr. Sayer,” my accent was half-English, half-American, which made her wince every time I spoke.

I was standing in front of her with my hands behind my back to hide the nervous trembling that threatened to take over my whole body. My nurse uniform was wrinkle-free and my hair was neatly tied in a ponytail, thanks in part to a condescending taxi driver, at whom I barked – after he winked at me – “Addison Road. And you’ll be sorry if my uniform doesn’t make it unruffled!”

“You are young.” She stirred in her seat. “Why would you want to live inside this house, caring for an old man like Mr. Sayer, twenty-four hours a day?”

She would have said ‘young and pretty’ if that was the case. No, this isn’t about self-esteem issues. She just wanted it to be that way. She wasn’t going for ‘pretty’. She wanted someone that would be serious about her work whilst causing the least disturbance in the family. Simply put, she didn’t want Mr. Sayer falling for his caregiver.

“Caring for others is my calling, and I’ll be glad to do it twenty-four hours a day for the rest of my life.” That line would’ve made me puke in a normal situation, but this was rehearsed, of course. I thought it was a waste of time, but she didn’t give a shit about what I thought. It was her little play for the man in the adjacent room.

“Very well,” the woman eyed my resume, holding it with both hands close to her eyes, “it would be nice to have someone full of life in this house for a change.”

“Thank you.”

She cleared her throat, “Armand will have the last word.”

The trembling in my hands moved to my legs when she stood up and nodded for me to follow her into Mr. Sayer’s room.

There is a typical odor in the rooms of the sick, as if death came to visit them from time to time and left its stench in its wake. However, Mr. Sayer’s room was so full of flowers that it wouldn’t smell like death even if The Reaper himself were among us.

It was dark inside, there was only light enough to see one’s way around the bed. Mr. Sayer was sitting on the bed, and the moment he tried to reach one of the curtains to open it, the woman interfered.

“No, Armand, I’ll do it for you,” she opened it only enough for us to be able to see each other’s faces, “you shouldn’t move.”

“For fuck’s sake, woman! I can move, I’m not paralyzed.”

“But you shouldn’t, Armand. And don’t talk like that, there is someone here to meet you.”

He raised himself with his hands and turned to me. I can’t deny how scared I was to have him look at me from head to toe, as if measuring me up before opening his mouth to speak.

“And you are…?” he drawled.

“I’m…”

“Her name is Scarlett, she’ll be your new caregiver.”

“Oh,” he cocked an eyebrow towards me with a sarcastic smile, “welcome.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Now, now, Armand, you must rest. I have to go fetch your meds and run some errands. Will you start today, Scarlett?”

“Yes, I’m ready to start today.”

“Good. Let me show you to your room. Follow me.”

We went into the next room, but even as she showed me around and explained things to me, I didn’t see anything. My mind was running so fast I couldn’t concentrate. My attention snapped back abruptly when she asked me if I was all right.

“Excited to be here, that is all.”

She closed the door to what would be my private bathroom.

“You can stay here while I’m out. Today is George’s free day – he’s the butler – so if you need anything, go ahead and help yourself.”

Butler? I think he’d be insulted if he heard her call him ‘the butler.’

“Yes, ma’am.”

“You can call me Helga,” the stern façade had melted away and was giving way to a friendlier one, one that smiled before shutting the door behind her.

Alone at last, I gave a quick look around the room before going back to Mr. Sayer’s.

When I stepped into his room I noticed he had rolled to one side and pulled the blanket up to his ears.

“Is she gone?” he asked from his hiding place.

“Yes, sir, she’s gone.”

He pushed the blanket off, kicked it to the feet of the bed, and sat on the edge.

“Thank goodness…”

“But, Mr. Sayer, you shouldn’t be up…” I went to him but he stopped me, holding out his hand.

“What did she tell you?”

“Excuse me?”

“What were the instructions she gave you?”

“That you needed twenty-four-hour care because of your condition.”

“And what is this condition of mine?”

“You were shot thrice during a violent assault.”

“I was shot twice in my left leg and once in my right arm, yes. However,” he paused before proceeding, “that was over a month ago. I’m fine, I don’t need to rest so much, I should be out there having a stroll, for god’s sake! And these curtains…”

Before he was finished I was on my toes opening all the curtains and letting the room flood with light. He breathed in deeply, as if to smell the aroma of pure sunlight for the first time.

“What was your name again?”

“Scarlett, sir. And I must tell you I’m more forgiving than your wife.”

“She’s not my wife, she’s my sister.”

“Oh,” I breathed, letting some fake amusement slip through my parted lips. I already knew all about him, long before I applied for this job.

“I need to make some phone calls, if you’ll excuse me.” He got on his feet, stretched his back, and started for the door with a very noticeable limp. “Also,” he stopped at the threshold, “can you do something about the flowers? I’m neither sick nor dead.”

“I’ll do something about them.”

“You can burn them for all I care…” he turned away, then back to me, “just don’t get rid of all of them at the same time. Helga will notice and you’ve seen how she is.”

“Yes, sir, I’ll be disposing of them one at a time.”

He turned to exit but paused again. “Burning them isn’t practical either. The neighbors will notice…”

“It’s OK, Mr. Sayer. I’ll take care of everything.”

He nodded, grinned, and left the room.

I was left on my own in a room filled with so much sunlight and flowers it looked more like a garden than a bedroom. As I picked out some of the smaller arrangements to be thrown out, I started pondering about Mr. Sayer – hair completely gray, in his late sixties, tall, handsome – and I wondered if there were business cards in his office that read:

 ARMAND SAYER

Drug Lord

###

It’ll be available in ebook format through Smashwords and Amazon.