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Book on the Bright Side
By M.L. Guida
Genre: Contemporary Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Passion in Print
Date of Publication: August 18, 2012
Number of pages: 279
Word Count: 79745
Scythe tracks his demon brother to Serenity House, a drug and alcohol treatment center. His brother wants to destroy the director, Heather Bowen, but Scythe is shocked to discover she is his angel-mate and now, he must not only save his brother’s soul, but stop him from killing the woman he loves.
Betrayal by ML Guida
In her pink nightgown and barefoot, she stood on a rough pebbly ground. A harsh male voice said, “Now, you’ll know what true pain is.”
The red-eyed man glared at her with undaunted hatred. Her foot rooted on the black tar pavement. Her legs trembled. She shrunk from his glare and wanted to hide, but couldn’t move.
Sweating and moaning, twenty-five year old Heather Bowen tossed and turned on her queen sized bed. The dream faded, and she woke with a start. Perspiration drenched her night gown, and tears streaked her face. The sheets wrapped around her legs. Her thighs throbbed. The iPod alarm clock read three a.m.
She scanned the room, but there was no sign of the red-eyed man. She sighed, but her relief was short-lived. What did he mean by she would know true pain? Was he kidding? Seriously? Her life sucked.
In her dream, there was something familiar about the bright and buzzing green, red and white flickering lights. But what? She frowned. Gas. She had smelled gasoline in her dream. Oh, shit. 7-Eleven. The bastard was with Rosemary.
She flicked on the lamp and snatched her phone and dialed Rosemary’s cellular. Answer, answer, answer, but a recording came on-- “The number you have reached is…”
“Damn it,” Heather said. Why did Rosemary have to have such a piece of crap phone?
She called information.
“This is information,” a bored female voice said. “City and State, please.”
“Westminster, Colorado for 7-Eleven on Seventy-Second and Lowell.”
“I’m sorry I don’t have a listing for that address.”
“I’m sorry, ma’am,” the operator said, “but there’s no listing.”
“Fuck,” Heather slammed the phone onto the oak nightstand.
She jumped out of bed. She tore off her Minnie nightgown and gasped. Three long scratches marred her inner thighs. She winced and wobbled to the bathroom and wet a wash cloth, and dabbed the bloody river on her legs. How the hell did that happen? God, her legs looked like Freddy Krueger swiped her with his razor fingers.
Within minutes, she slid into her gray Pathfinder. “Ouch!”
The damn cloth seats pulled on her thighs that still pulsed from the antiseptic. She stepped on the gas. The street lamps glowed in the darkness, and the abandoned street stretched forever as her tires ate up the pavement. She glanced at the clock. Three fifteen. She gripped the wheel and turned on Kipling Street and roared down the road. At the stoplight, there were no cars, including cop cars, so she gunned the pedal. “Hang on Rosemary. I’m coming.”
Except for her speeding SUV, the dark houses remained quiet on the empty streets. With his fluffy tail curved around his body, a red fox sat on the sidewalk and watched. She shook her finger at him. “You stay there.”
Maybe this was a good omen. In animal symbolism, a red fox meant passion and desire and, God knows, she wanted her sister alive.
She peeled onto Seventy-Second avenue, running another stoplight. Huge green cottonwood trees reached for the sky along the way. Lilium, orange pixie lilies, and long ornamental grasses with whitish plumes lined the vacant street. At the end of the street, a streetlight darkened at Majestic Park. Hidden in the shadows was a car. As she sped by, red lights flashed on.
Out of the black shadows and thick trees, a dark car pulled out of a parking lot. A siren screamed into the night. A red light flared in her rearview mirror. Her stretched nerves wailed louder than the siren. For a split second, she thought about outrunning the cop, but that only happened in television.
She parked next to the curve and reached into the glove compartment and fumbled for her registration and insurance card. She yanked out her driver’s license and rolled down the window, but no movement came out of the cop car behind her. “Get out asshole.”
She slapped her information on the wheel and glanced at the clock again--three thirty am.
A dark clothed policeman got out of the police car and sauntered over to Heather. His hat hid his features. He put his hand on the top of her car. “Ma’am,” he said. He had a baby face, clean shaven, and looked like he’d just graduated from high school. “Do you know how fast you were going?”
He stood and puffed out his chest. “You were going sixty miles an hour in a forty mile zone.”
“This is my first ticket in a long time.” She gave him her sweetest smile. “I promise I won’t speed anymore. I’m in a…”
He scowled at her and in a cold voice said, “Uh, uh. Driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance card, please.”
Well that didn’t work, but what did she expect? Flirting and acting like a vixen had never been her strong suit. Heather sighed and handed him the information.
“You don’t understand. I tried calling my sister’s cellular phone and she didn’t answer. This never happens. Something’s wrong.”
He put his hands on his narrow waist. “That doesn’t give you a right to speed, ma’am.”
He sighed. “Where is your sister?”
“She’s working at the 7-Eleven on Seventy-Second and Lowell. Could you call and check it out?”
He crossed his arms across his chest. “That’s Westminster, not Arvada.”
“I know what city it’s in.” She gripped the steering wheel tighter. “Could you give me an escort?”
He sighed. “So, tell me again why something’s wrong?”
“I had a dream and…”
He rolled his eyes. “A dream? You want me to radio Westminster Police Department, because of a supposed dream.” He unfolded his arms and leaned closer to the window. He sniffed. “Have you been drinking?”
“No, I haven’t. Please I need to…”
He stood. “You’ll wait here until I check this out.” He stormed back to his car.
Heather gritted her teeth. Sweat poured down her face and she wiped her forehead and temples on her arm. Asshole. “Please…”
“Wait, here, ma’am,” he said and sauntered back to car.
She looked in the mirror as the cop sat in his car and spoke on the radio. She should have lied about the dream and came up with a different excuse. Should have lied. She pounded on the steering wheel with her palms. “What are you doing? Sending my information to the FBI? Give me the ticket already.”
Heather snatched her cellular phone and dialed Rosemary again, but got the same damn message. “If you have reached…”
She threw the phone on the passenger seat. “Shit, shit, shit.”
The cop strolled over to her and handed her the information. He scratched on a pad.
“Did you call Westminster?”
“On a dream? No.”
At the finality in his voice, Heather shut her mouth and her shoulders slumped.
“Ma’am, despite your good driving record, I’m writing you a ticket. You can either mail in the fee or attend court. I need you to sign this.”
Heather took the metal board with her ticket on it. She scribbled her name and mumbled, “Thanks.”
“Slow down before you kill somebody,” he warned.
The cop ripped off the carbon copy and handed it to her. He ambled back to his car. Slowly, Heather drove away from the curb. At the next stop light, the cop pulled behind her. Her heart pattered, and she licked her lip. She drummed her thumbs on the wheel. Her shirt stuck to her like a second skin. Glancing in the rearview mirror, she groaned. God, was he going to follow her all the way to Lowell?
As the light turned green, Heather tightened her grip on the wheel, but kept her foot from slamming to the floor. The cop swerved around and did a u-turn--no doubt returning to the dark shadows waiting for his next victim. She glanced at the clock--three forty-five. Shit, fifteen minutes passed.
“It’s a coincidence,” she muttered.
When Heather couldn’t see Baby Face Nelson anymore, she floored it again and ran the light at Wadsworth. She sped and flew through more red lights. She didn’t care. Rosemary was in trouble. Luckily, she didn’t see any red lights twirling behind her again, but in front of her, her worst nightmare came true. Her heart skipped a beat. Cop cars, ambulances, fire trucks and a bus were all bunched together at Seventy-Second and Lowell. Red flares lit up the west-bound lane and only the east-bound lane was open, but no traffic approached the intersection at this late hour.
She swerved the SUV into a parking lot in a small mini mall. Tires squealed. She grabbed the gear shift and slammed it into park. The SUV lurched forward and banged into the white parking stop at Carol’s Donut Shop. She whipped open the door and ran around the building, but she caught a quick movement of a black flicker in the alleyway. For some reason, she was drawn to the shadows and stepped into the alley. The smell of fried dough and something overly sweet emitted from the trash bin next to the back door of Carol’s Donut Shop. She held her breath as heavy footsteps crunched on pebbles and glass. She put her hand to her throat as the dark haired man came around the trash bin behind the donut shop.
Her feet rooted her to the street. Fear prevented her from moving a single muscle.
His long, thick braid fell down his right shoulder. He put his hands on his narrow hips. His black leather jacket parted and revealed a chiseled chest. On his naked chest, a black cobra with red coral eyes appeared to stare at her with the same hatred as the man.
“You’re too late.”
With that statement, the man vanished. Heather blinked. She scanned the alley, but he was gone. He’d be hard to miss. She shook her head and ran her hand through her hair. Was she hallucinating? He had to be wrong. Rosemary was alive. She had to be, but for the first time, doubt crept in, crushing her last ray of hope.
Gasping for breath, she dashed passed the alley and headed for the convenience store. Firemen, cops and plain-clothed men wandered in the parking lot. At the edge of the 7-Eleven parking lot, an oversized cop with short, cropped blond hair stood with his palms facing her. With his huge muscles, broad chest and towering height, he was definitely a long lost cousin of the Hulk. “Hold it right there.” The streetlight shone on the man’s don’t-mess-with-me look.
Heather peered around him, but only glimpsed the tires of a black Continental. Sheer panic hit her at the make and the color of the car, but dark splotches of red paint stained the cement next to the tires. The doubt grew larger. “Please, what happened?”
“You need to calm down and stay back, Miss,” he said in a gruff voice.
“No, you don’t understand. My sister, Rosemary, works here. Is she all right?”
He sighed. “Ma’am, you need to stay here.”
“Like hell I will.” She plowed her shoulder into him, but bounced off his chest like a Nerf ball. “Get out of my way.”
Digging his fingers into her flesh, he grabbed both of her shoulders and halfway lifted her off the ground. She peered into his granite face. He narrowed his eyes.
“If you calm down, I’ll find out, but if you don’t, you’re going to be sitting in my car. Got it?”
She swallowed and nodded. As he walked over to a plain-clothes policeman, she paced back and forth and bit her nails. Only uniformed cops patrolled the aisles inside the store. Rosemary was nowhere to be seen. A foul taste of dread formed in her mouth. She shivered as if spiders crawled down her arms and legs. She folded her arms to ward off the chilling cold gripping her.
In the midnight sky, a red line circled the white moon--a blood moon. Forget what that means. Her stomach hurt as a ball of fear settled inside her.
Heather bolted around the policeman’s side, but he grabbed her arm and whirled her around. His fingers dug into her arm. She stared at his pissed off face. “I said you need to stay right here.”
“No, please. I don’t see her. Where is she?”
“Officer Ramsey,” a male voice said.
Ramsey turned around, but his strong fingers tightened. “Detective?”
Heather strained to see who approached. Wearing a gold corduroy jacket with brown patches on his elbow and dark navy pants, a bald, paunchy man strolled towards them. “What’s going on?”
Ramsey aimed his thumb at the convenience store. “This woman says her sister works here.”
The other man scrutinized her. “Release her.”
He stuck out his hand. “I’m Detective Ronald Hewitt. You are?”
She clutched his chubby hand. Surprised, she winced at his strong grip. “Heather. Heather Bowen. My sister is Rosemary Bowen. I’ve been trying to reach her, but haven’t been able to get ahold of her.”
Detective Hewitt released her hand. “Can I see some identification, ma’am?”
Heather fumbled in her purse and handed him her driver’s license.
Hewitt glanced at it and her face. He pulled a pen and small black notebook out of the inside of his jacket. He scribbled on his pad. He handed the license to her. “When did you try calling her?”
“I started calling her about forty-five minutes ago. I’ve been trying to call her about every fifteen minutes, but she never answers.” At his stoic face, the ball of fear doubled in size in her gut. Bile darted up her throat, burning it. She swallowed. “Where is she?”
“She didn’t answer?”
“No and then I tried calling the store, but couldn’t get an answer.”
“I see. Why did you want to call her?”
She wetted her lips. “I had a premonition and wanted to make sure she was all right.”
He cocked his eyebrow. “A premonition?”
“Um, yes. Something happened didn’t it?”
“What does your sister look like?”
“She’s got long black hair down to her butt…” Ramsey and Hewitt gave each other a knowing look. Heather pretended not to notice. At their secret glance, she balled her hands and dug her nails into her palm. Her words faded. “…brown eyes and about an inch taller than me.”
He flashed his green eyes over her. “How tall are you?”
“Um five four.”
Ramsey stared at his shoes. Hewitt straightened his shoulders. “Ma’am, I’m sorry to inform you that there has been an incident.”
“What? No!” Heather swallowed. A scream died on her lips.
“Your sister killed a customer and then stepped into the front of moving RTD bus.”
“How do you know that? Do you have any proof? Rosemary wouldn’t do that.”
Hewitt cleared his throat. “We have the incident on tape.”
M.L. Guida, currently, writes contemporary paranormal romance and will be having a short story, Sinful Delight, releasing in October which continues the Angels of Death series. She is pursuing her Master of Art in Creative Writing through Regis University. Her favorite past times are taking her cocker spaniel, Sadie, for long walks, going skiing and scuba diving.