You can’t fight intolerance with more intolerance.

Okay, enough is enough. As Waleed Aly said last night, it’s time to stop the cycle of outrage.

People are so fast to get ‘offended’ and tear down anything they don’t agree with or don’t understand, thanks, in part to the internet age where we can sledge from behind the safety of our computer screens, and also thanks to the modern ‘media’ who pounce on anything click bait in their desperation to avoid reporting on any actual news.

I’m not saying that recent comments reported in the media are right or I agree with them, but the simple fact is, fighting intolerance with more intolerance is never, ever going to work.

If someone says something we don’t agree with, the majority now spare no time in name-calling and tearing ‘lessers’ down from our moral pedestals. We call them stupid, or ignorant, or racist, or liars, or uneducated. I have also been guilty of this. We all have been, because this is the most basic of human behaviour. We react from a place of anger and call people names without really thinking about what it is we’re trying to achieve – a constructive dialogue. A dialogue in which opinions and ideas can actually be exchanged, explored, and maybe even –gasp- changed.

The world needs a hell of a lot more dialogue and a fuckload less judging.

To facilitate a fluid exchange of ideas, free speech is a must. No matter how distasteful what some people are saying might be, you cannot stop people from having ideas and opinions. You cannot simply shut down the conversation. The second we do that, we are no longer a free society. The second we stop people from being able to express their ideas, we cease to be a democracy and we become a dictatorship. We send people and their maligned beliefs and opinions underground, where nothing ever changes. We cannot control what people do; we can only control our reactions to it.

When you decide to be offended (and it is a choice to be offended) and call people names because you don’t agree with whatever they are saying, you are, in that moment, ending the dialogue. There is no way a constructive conversation can start from a place of name-calling and derision. All that is achieved is a further entrenching into separate belief systems.

Haven’t we outgrown this basic reaction by now? Haven’t we figured out that personal attacks get us nowhere as a species?

When we feel attacked, whether that be through terrorism, or gun violence, or immigration, vaccination, religion, name calling or whatever it is that pushes your buttons, we all sink into the most basic of our emotions, fear. This basic fight or flight fear response causes people to lash out. It’s very basic human behaviour. Isn’t it time to change this? Basic human reactions can be changed through understanding and communication. It’s actually pretty easy to rise above the basic and engage on a more logical, tolerant and loving level, if effort is made to do so.

The fact is, if someone says something ill considered or inappropriate, and you react by calling them names and derision, then you are guilty of the same behaviour as they are. It’s the same intolerance in a different party dress.

The only way to fight intolerance, is with tolerance. The only way to fight hate is with love. The only way to fight violence is with peace. Think about it.

“You needn’t be calling for the incarceration of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, to act destructively. While it feels good to choose destruction, right now I think we need to try construction. I’m not saying you should be silent in the face of bigotry. But when you do engage with someone you disagree with, I’m talking about assuming the best in people, showing others radical generosity in the face of their hostility. Which is the much harder choice because it demands much more restraint, patience, and strength.” -Waleed Aly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abuse, misogyny & ‘lying bitches’

So I try to stay out of celebrity gossip, mainly because I have a life. But I have felt compelled to write about the Depp/Heard allegations on several websites’ comment sections, after reading some of the nasty shit being levelled at a woman who was courageous enough to come forward and speak about abuse at the hands of a beloved hollywood star.

I wrote this on one such board:

‘Imagine a utopian world where women feel safe enough and strong enough to report abuse because they are automatically believed by the society in which they live. Rare false claims would soon enough be proven false, but imagine how many more battered and abused women would come forward because there would be no victim blaming or shaming, no questioning of their motives or bank accounts, but instead an acknowledgement of the courage and and strength it requires to come forward and say ‘I was abused by the man I chose to love and it’s not my fault.’ How lucky would we be to live in a society that doesn’t automatically look to blame the woman for the abuse, or just flat out disbelieve her because we don’t want to admit this happens in our oh-so-civilised society and if it does happen it makes us feel better to believe she somehow did something to deserve it. Imagine that crazy world, hey?’

Of course this attracted the usual trolls claiming that every bitch who ever dared make a complaint about a man, particularly a rich, powerful man, is a lying, money grabbing whore bucket. Because we all believe, deep down in our tiny little hearts, that the movie star/director/boss/friend we love wouldn’t possibly ever do such a thing, and therefore we shall rationalise any icky thoughts away and the fastest way to do that is to blame the victim.

So let me make myself clear. I have no idea what transpired between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard and likely never will. But I won’t give up my wish that, one day (perhaps when the world is less populated by assholes) women and children will be automatically believed when they report abuse, instead of being viewed with suspicion and downright hostility as is the current sad-as-fuck situation.

Yes, some people may make false accusations. But such false accusations are a minuscule drop in the whopping great big bucket of actual domestic abuse that goes on in the world today right under our ignorant noses.

But false accusations ruin men’s reputations! come the cries from fuckwits everywhere.

Guess what? Making abuse allegations hardly enhances a woman’s reputation does it? All the money in the world does not make up for the victim blaming, character assassination, the shaming, and the calling into question of your mental health. And all this awesomeness is after you’ve managed to muster the courage to report the abuse in the first place and finally break free of what is a terribly damaging situation both physically and emotionally. Just ask Mia Farrow how well that went for her. While Woody Allen enjoys his continuing legendary status in Hollywood, she is painted as a lying mad woman who was bitter he left her for another woman, so she made up allegations of child abuse and brainwashed her children into believing them (amazing what the right publicist will do for you, hey?). Meanwhile he’s married to his own stepdaughter for fucks sake I mean HOW MUCH MORE EVIDENCE DO YOU PEOPLE NEED? And why all of this victim blaming? Simply so we can enjoy his movies guilt-free.

If women were automatically believed when they made abuse allegations, not only would more victims come forward, but the men involved would also be able to get the mental health assistance they need. Because you don’t abuse women and children without being a pretty fucked up individual in need of masses of help.

So instead of looking for reasons why this woman is lying, how about we as a society support her, and the other brave souls out there, who have stood up in the face of a shitstorm of abuse and cried out that this behaviour is wrong and cannot continue.

But that won’t happen, because, you guessed it, false claims and men’s reputations.

Therefore, it comes down to this: we live in a society that is more concerned about protecting men’s reputations than it is about protecting women from abuse. And that, my friends, is misogyny.

Last Day of Xmas Giveaways!

My family has always been a little … off.
So, our Christmas traditions were off as well. For us, Christmas Eve was the
big day. In the evening, we would go to the children’s service at church. I am
the middle of three girls so one of us was usually singing in the choir for the
service. Afterward, our parents would drive us around looking at Christmas
lights. By the time we got home, my mother’s parents and my father’s mother
were there enjoying some adult eggnog and talking about their encounter with
Santa. Before opening presents, we’d give my Papa Charlie our undivided attention as he went over point by point his conversation with Santa. It was the highlight of the year. We lost our Papa Charlie when I was 14. But every Christmas Eve, I think about all the
stories he told and how much we all loved them. It is a memory I will always
cherish.

 
 
Daniel Digby is cursed by his good looks. After years of sexual
harassment, he’s convinced wearing a wedding ring is the answer to fending off
unwanted attention.
CiCi Newport is cursed by her family’s money. When men look her
way, all they see are dollar signs. After two years, her “no dating” rule is
still in place. 
After a chance meeting, they’re entwined for the holidays. What starts as attraction might just be the holiday cure they’re looking for.
 
Two broken hearts embarked on a holiday season in a way they
never had before. Divorced.
Mitch had been badly burned by love, but was willing to take a
chance . . . with the right woman.
Hannah had lived everyday with the grief love had brought her
and followed her everywhere.

Can two hearts find love and heal each other during the most difficult season of
the year?
 
Who knew the girl who spent most of her Saturday nights watching
Doctor Who marathons with her best friend would end up becoming a reality
television star? Not Emma MacLean.
Emma tried to leave the nerdy girl behind as the Vice President
of Operations for billionaire venture capitalist, Terrance Hunt, on the hit
show Hunt for Life. When double tragedies occur on the same day, Emma is out of
a job, but the cameras and a nation of fans continue to follow her.
Rob “Bobby” Breyer lived and breathed the professional
wrestling circuit for five years. Rob happens to be a devoted Hunt for Life fan
due to a chance meeting with Emma while in high school. When he reaches out to
Emma in her time of crisis, he never imagines how much it will change his life.

After twelve years, their attraction still sizzles and this time, Rob’s not letting
Emma get away. As the cameras roll, Emma’s new career and Rob’s quest for glory
are in the spotlight. When the heat is on, they’ll need all the support they can get from the Nerdy Girl Nation.

Lindsey Gray typed her first complete novel at the age of twelve and dreamed of making her writing into a career. When her eighth grade class wrote a twenty year reunion story, casting her as a mystery novelist, she wasn’t sure she could make it a reality. After years of writing off and on, she decided to make a go of it. In December of 2010 she finally made her dream come
true with her first published novel, Lies Inside. Five years and thousands of written words later, Lindsey released her seventh published work, Nerdy Girl
Nation, in October 2015.
When Lindsey takes a break from writing, she spends time with her husband of thirteen years and their two children, reading all kinds of romance novels, and hosting her own weekly radio show, Gray Matters, on TMV Cafe Internet Radio.
 

In honor of the release of Episode VII and the importance the series has to the main characters in Lindsey Gray’s Nerdy Girl Nation, she is offering a grand prize
pack. Answer each question with the correct character name to be entered
to win. All the ballots with the correct answers will be entered into a random
drawing to pick the winner. Contest ends December 19th, 2015 at 12:01 am CST.
Lindsey Gray will contact the winner on December 19th, 2015. Winner must
provide valid mailing address to receive prize. Prize includes Star Wars themed
toys, socks, and more, plus a paperback copy of Nerdy Girl Nation. Good luck! May the force be with you.

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Day 11 part II!

Senator Maxwell Joseph has it all—money, power and
good looks—the trifecta when it comes to attracting the ladies. He even has women willing to be tied up, spanked and fucked all while calling him Daddy,
fulfilling his secret fantasy. On the night of his thirty-fifth birthday he finds a goddess waiting for him in his hotel room. She is beautiful, sexy and very willing, yet the fruit she offers is very forbidden. Not only at nineteen is she barely legal, but she is the daughter of his best friend and political advisor.
Mackenzie Wade has had a crush on the senator for
years, and when an overheard phone call affords her the opportunity she needs to make her fantasies a reality, she jumps on the chance offering herself as a birthday gift.
Throwing caution to the wind, Max gives in to temptation and gives them both what they have been yearning for—a night filled with ropes, floggers and toe-curling sex. Although satiated, one night of passion wasn’t enough for either of them, and they began a clandestine affair.

The solid ground on which he’d built his career now began to shift as his wants and dreams for the future began to change. In what he can only describe as a landslide, Max hold on tight to the only thing that he can, Kenzie, and goes on the ride of his life, knowing all along that in the end, he may have to make a choice between the woman of his fantasies and his career.
 
Rebecca Summers enjoys pleasing herself with the curtains open. When a mysterious stranger calls to tell her that he is watching, fantasy becomes reality as she begins to perform for him. Following his instructions
over the phone while he watches from afar, she finds herself craving more.
Oliver Durant has always been drawn to humans to
exert the dominance and control his kind needs to feel alive. While secretly observing her and calling nightly, he can’t seem to get enough of Rebecca, whom
he refers to as butterfly. His urges with her are stronger than the need to dominate, as he is driven to possess her in every way.

Both of their worlds are turned upside down when they finally meet and she agrees to enter into a Dominant/submissive relationship with her Midnight Caller.
 
 
 
Oliver Durant finally feels complete. With his
butterfly now wearing his collar, he begins to introduce her to his world, taking her to his BDSM club and introducing her to his family. Things progress
rapidly and she feels safe and welcome with them and his species. The longer they are together, the more she starts to become like his kind, offering him hope that he will be able to be with his mate for the rest of his life.
While Rebecca Summers is new to the BDSM lifestyle,
she adapts quickly and serves her Master well, giving him everything he asks for. She loves pleasing him and spending time with his family, who has given her the sense of belonging she’s yearned for since her parents’ tragic deaths.
She can’t imagine denying Oliver anything, and even asks to undergo the genetic transformation to become one of his species. Days before the event, they are
given some news that changes everything.
Can these two find their happily ever after? Or does fate have other plans?
 
 
Calla Moretti married her college sweetheart, Bill.
Married life was great at first, but as his career had her dropping out of college and moving away from her family and friends, Calla struggled with her
role as a wife and homemaker. Stress, due to infertility and Bill’s affairs, had the marriage on the brink of failure.
When she drives home in the middle of a
thunderstorm and spots first a broken down motorcycle, then the sexy rider, she decides to take a chance and offer him assistance. Realizing fate brought her together with a man who could give her the one thing her husband couldn’t—a baby—Calla decides to take a chance.

One romantic night, one big lie, will it save her marriage or fill her heart with more emptiness? Will this be the answer to her prayers? In life, are there truly second chances?
 
 
Em Grayson had everything she wanted: the perfect
life, the perfect job, nothing to hold her back. Or so she thought until she attended a BDSM convention in Las Vegas that turned her world upside down and
had her questioning everything. Approached by an old friend about a business opportunity in Reno, she’s forced to look at her current situation and make
life-altering decisions.
Violet Jennings is a quiet submissive who longs for
acceptance in her life. She begins to find an inner peace while working as a receptionist in a BDSM club. When she meets the mysterious M, she’s driven by a
need to serve more than ever before.

Together, will these two be able to find the happiness that has eluded them? Will the need to dominate and serve be enough? Or will they find more than they were looking for?
 
 
 
 
Mary Jennings hit rock bottom. A stripper and brand
new mother in New York City, she’s offered a reprieve by her sister to move to Reno for a fresh start. Deciding to go for it, her life takes a drastic turn
when she offers to help out a friend.
After a car accident leaves Colton bed ridden, a
surprising offer of assistance turns into so much more. Driven by his need to dominate, sparks fly in the most unexpected way.

A natural submissive and a professional Dominant—what happens when they spend every waking minute together? Will she be able to resist? Or will she give in to the urge and submit to him completely? Find out in this
page turning sequel to Yes, Mistress.

 
 
 
 
Zachary Russells is one of the hottest, sexiest
male celebrities of all time, and he is only twenty-one. In an alternate world where humans are property, Zachary finds himself wanting a companion, and a
human pet seems the perfect choice. Much to his surprise, the day Zachary walked into a pet shop to buy his new human pet, he didn’t expect rebellion and
independence coming from his purchase. In a hot, steamy, sexy, story where dominance is favored in public, submission is a given, and punishment is handed
out, can his new pet, Megan, adapt to her new owners wants and needs?
Warning: Intense bondage, aggressive sex, human
trafficking.
Bonus: Serving Mistress Quinn by NJ Cole
NJ Cole shows her support for this new author by giving readers a bonus short story. Serving Mistress Quinn is a 6,500 word one shot. Mistress Quinn has been living the life of a vampire for centuries. When she happens upon an older Native American, she plans to torture him, and then have him for lunch. Much to her surprise and pleasure, she learns that he enjoys the pain and the two of them embark on a new journey in which she finds
herself having a very willing pet.

Serving Mistress Quinn does contain BDSM and sexual situations, but all relations are consensual.
 
About
N.J. Cole

NJ Cole is a witty, mid-western girl with a kinky side. She works by day and writes by night, all while being a mother to her wonderful boys and serving her Sir. Unlike many of today’s authors, she chooses to write in first person, allowing the readers to experience life through the eyes of the unique characters that live in her head. Her love of those characters and respect for their stories come through loud and clear in her writing.

 
 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Second last day of giveaways! Get in while you can!

Their love burned bright, white hot, and strikingly blue around
the edges.
Some thought them careless.
Some thought them crazy.
No one approved.
Taylor Barrett was looking for answers in a universe that had
abandoned him.
Jude Boehler flooded her dark world with charisma and mystery,
drawing everyone into her hurricane.
It was a most captivating of love affairs. They were shooting
stars, meteors in the sky, colliding to create a spectacularly wonderful
reckless romance, leaving them breathless and tethered.
 Their souls were exposed to the chaos, bare and vulnerable. Can these two star-crossed lovers survive the madness that is life?

 

About S.L. Scott
S.L. Scott is a former high-tech account manager with a journalism degree pursuing her passion for telling  stories. She spends her days escaping into her characters and letting them lead her on their adventures.
Live music shows, harvesting jalapenos and eating homemade guacamole are her obsessions she calls hobbies.

Scott lives in the beautiful Texas hill country of Austin with her husband, two young sons, two Papillons and a bowl full of Sea Monkeys.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

 

Day 10 of Book Nerdiness!

A Muslim Arab Prince with a heavy weight of responsibilities on his shoulders and a young Catholic American woman with a dark, haunted past
living inside her heart. Unexpectedly thrust together in a deal of betrayal brokered by her brother, the last thing she imagines when she goes to his wedding in a kingdom far away from her home, is to find out that it’s her own wedding, as well. 
A bright, independent CEO struggling to live this new life, where the traditions and rules are too numerous to keep up with, and an attractive, intelligent prince wanting nothing more than for his bride to find
the black keys. 
Fate steps in to teach the troubled new princess a few lessons about love, life, understanding and acceptance, while destiny forces the Crown Prince into allowing his beautiful wife to break a rule or two. 

Because when it comes to love, rules blur and traditions fade.
 
About Rose B. Mashal

Rose is a loved mother, wife, and a stay at home lawyer. Writing is her passion, and
reading is her obsession. Music is her best friend and sarcasm is her speaking
trend. One of her joys is bringing happiness to others and her biggest wish is
that they stay true to one another. Through her stories, she wants to spread
nothing except understanding, peace and love.

 
 
 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Want to win one of my books?

 

While exploring darkness in others, be careful not to
expose your own.
 
That’s what Chicago detective Alicia Raymond discovers when she’s assigned to investigate the torture and murder of a middle-aged trucker. 
Better known as Berg, Alicia is forced to confront her
darkness: her obsessive need to track down killers; her increasing craving for violence; and her potentially devastating feelings for her partner.
When she finds herself sympathizing with a sadistic killer exacting revenge for a decades-old crime, she realizes the most dangerous thing of all might just be her own state of mind. As Berg’s carefully constructed life falls apart, she faces a choice: surrender to the evil inside or finally acknowledge the brutal past she would rather bury.

The Enemy Inside is the first in the Edge of Darkness series, which challenges the
concept of justice, asks if vengeance sometimes justifies murder, and explores
whether you can ever heal from a broken past.

 
Excerpt from The Enemy Inside
The eighteen-wheeler’s headlights cut a path through the murky darkness,
illuminating the outbound Chicago highway in a ghostly glow, its rumbling
engine the only sound in an otherwise silent night.
Shifting in his sticky seat, the driver twitched and spat through the open window. It was well after midnight. He had been on the road for almost twenty-four hours straight, hadn’t slept for forty-eight, and was feeling stretched to the very end of his last frayed nerve.
He realized he should have stopped and had a break or a coffee before getting back on the tollway and heading out of the city, but it was too late now. The tollway was close to deserted as he sped west, the sprawl of suburbia thinning and being replaced by swathes of protected forests, expensive houses, and semi-rural property. There was nothing else for him to do but drive all night to northern Wisconsin, where another load and a lucrative
payday awaited him.
The highway was dull, the same as every other road he’d driven on over the last thirty years. He felt like his life was playing on some kind of endless, tortured loop. His was a lonely existence, punctuated by the odd burst of static on his CB radio and the occasional disembodied conversation with other drivers.
He shifted again and looked at the clock stuck to his dash.
2:00 a.m.
He was ahead of schedule, thanks to some homemade stimulants and a lack of rest, and again considered pulling over to get some food or maybe a few hours of sleep in his cab. While sleep sounded like something he should get, his cock throbbed, reminding him of other, more urgent priorities.
He needed a woman. Any woman.
He wasn’t an attractive man. He was heavyset, hairy, and balding with an array of amateur prison tattoos covering his body. Few women were willing to spread their legs for him. The only satisfaction he got was from the occasional truck stop lot lizard or cheap hooker when he loaded or unloaded in a city.
As the joyless decades passed, his need for more violent satisfaction had grown, and he had enjoyed himself immensely with a drug-addicted hooker last month. His erection strained painfully against his jeans as he savored the memory of the encounter: her shrieks of pain, thick, red blood mixed with slippery tears, and the muffled thuds of his fists
striking soft, pliable flesh. The memory excited him so much he thought he might explode right there in the cab. He needed to feel some battered flesh writhing under him again—and soon.
He grunted, then hocked up phlegm from deep in his throat and spat again. His personally manufactured stimulants had several unpleasant side effects, the main ones being an increase in libido, a frustrating lack of sensation, and a disgusting chemical taste in the back of his throat he could never get rid of.
The truck’s lights illuminated unexpected movement far ahead on the tollway shoulder. He forgot his desire for a moment as he shifted forward in his seat to get a better look at the solitary figure walking on the side of the highway.
He shifted down a gear, and the old air brakes hissed in protest as his lights settled on a petite woman with frizzy blond hair, her arm outstretched in the universal hitchhiker’s salute.
A gift from God.
He pulled alongside her.
Weighing perhaps one hundred pounds soaking wet, she opened the cab door and hauled herself and a small purse into the truck.
She must really need a ride. I only get the desperate ones or the ug-os that no one else will pick up.
He was excited to see she was pretty in an almost familiar kind of way, as if he had seen her before in a movie or on television. She had light blue eyes and distinctive tight, blond curls. He absentmindedly wondered if the carpet would match the drapes, and couldn’t wait to find out.
She looked exhausted, as if she’d been walking for a while.
“Thanks,” she said softly, flashing him a forced, nervous smile while she settled in the passenger seat. She quickly pulled across the frayed seatbelt and clicked it into place.
A safety-conscious hitchhiker? That’s a new one. “No problem,” he replied.
She clutched her bag to her chest like a life preserver.
As he eased the rig back out onto the highway, he smiled to himself. This’ll be easy.
Chapter One
“Are you prepared to be happy, Berg?” Detective Inspector Jay O’Loughlin asked his
partner, as he rushed into the dirty, overcrowded Chicago squad room.
Berg, in the middle of massaging her temples, looked up from her desk and brushed her long, wavy dark hair behind one ear. Buried deep in mounds of endless paperwork, the offer of a distraction sounded good. Her chair creaked as she stood to stretch and smoothed the wrinkles out of her suit skirt.
“How happy?” she asked. “Happy like I just found a great pair of Manolos in a half-off bin, or happy like I hit a moving target at two hundred yards?”
Jay flashed her one of his trademark, sexy smiles.
“Berg, I know target practice is your idea of heaven, but I’m talking happy like I’ve just had the best sex of my life and she voluntarily goes home afterward.”
“Wow, Jay. In your world that’s pretty fucking happy.” She walked out of the squad room and he followed. “So, where are we headed?” she asked, turning back and catching Jay’s lingering stare on her lower legs.
“What? Oh, to the morgue.”
“Gee, the morgue. Yay.” She stopped to face him. “I fail to see how that is going to make me happy.”
“You’ll see,” he replied with a glint in his cobalt blue eyes. “Think of it as an early Halloween treat.”
They walked down the corridor in a comfortable silence, pausing to press the call button for the elevator.
Berg, formally known as Detective Alicia Raymond, leaned against the wall and studied Jay. They had been partners for two years in the newest section of the Chicago Police Department’s Bureau of Investigative Services, the Special Crimes Unit.
Jay was one of the best cops in the district, and she enjoyed working with him, his constant need to check her out notwithstanding. He was tall—one of the few men in the station taller than she was—and handsome in that naughty Irish way, with blue eyes, an easy smile, and wavy, dark brown hair that was a shade or two lighter than her own.
His only bad quality was that he’d slept with nearly every woman in a two-mile radius, both in and out of their district. There had been some station talk, early in their partnership, of a marriage fifteen years ago when Jay was a young cadet. But he point-blank refused to acknowledge whether the rumor was even true the one time Berg had mustered up the courage to ask. They never discussed the subject again. Since then, Berg
had lost count of Jay’s conquests.
Still, while everyone knows he’ll fuck anything that moves, it doesn’t stop the women
flocking to him like bees to honey.
Berg shrugged.
The elevator arrived and they stepped back to let a young female officer get out. She pushed between them, pausing only long enough to direct a malevolent glare at Jay before stalking off.
Berg laughed. “If looks could kill, you’d be dead a thousand times over. Don’t you ever get tired of picking up young officers, then discarding them like used tissue and spending the rest of your life avoiding their hatred?” Berg grimaced at her partner as he raised an eyebrow in response to her question. “You needn’t look so smug.”
“Seen her naked. So worth the death glares,” he said with a grin.
Despite her disapproval, Berg couldn’t help but smile as she contemplated his general appeal. Jay was impossible to dislike. Men and women were equally drawn to him for his easygoing character and self-deprecating laugh. A well-connected, third-generation cop, he was dedicated to his job and solved more than his fair share of cases with diligent work and deadly charm.
“You need to become familiar with the phrase don’t crap where you eat,” she said.
He chuckled. “Maybe if you ever had sex, you’d understand. There’s no need to live up to your nickname all the time, Iceberg. You need a good humping.”
Berg gritted her teeth and crossed her arms. “You volunteering?”
Jay stepped back and raised his hands in surrender. “Hell no! I mean, don’t get me wrong, you’re great to look at and all, and I’m damn sure the sex would be great, but I saw what you did to that veteran cop a couple of years back after he dared to pat you on the ass. You barely moved and the guy was on the ground faster than kids in an earthquake drill. What was that, kung fu?”
Berg raised an eyebrow. “Karate.”
Jay took another step back. “Yeah, well, whatever it was, I don’t plan on being on the receiving end of it, nice as the view may be.” He slowly raked his eyes down from her face to her body, lingering on her chest before looking away.
“We’ve been partners for two years—do you think you could keep the staring to a minimum?” She glared at him.
Jay winked. “I’ll work on it.”
They approached the morgue, barged through the two-way doors, and walked into the cold, sterile silence.
Jay crossed the white linoleum room with a few strides and pulled open a metal refrigerator drawer. “Ta-da!” He made an exaggerated flourish, sliding out a body covered with a sheet. “One dead scumbag.” He waved toward the covered body like a manic The Price is Right model.
Berg looked dubious as she wrinkled her nose and lifted the white sheet to view the corpse. “A dead fat guy? You better have something more for me than some dead scumbag, Jay. I got up from my desk for this.”
“What if he was a serial scumbag?”
Berg arched an eyebrow. “How serial?”
“Like the guy responsible for the missing hitchhikers?”
Berg’s heart lurched. They’d been working on the missing hitchhikers for six months. During a routine review of missing persons’ files, Berg had noticed an anomaly—five local women between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one had gone missing over the past two years without a trace. Missing persons were not all that uncommon; most eventually turned up locally or out-of-state, but these women had simply disappeared.
There had been something about the victims that got to her, so Berg dug a little deeper, talking to any available friends and family between working her regular cases. She had discovered that all the women were known hitchhikers. While many had come from broken families, they had no criminal record and no reason to disappear into the ether without a word to anyone.
Curiosity piqued, she had taken some DNA from the missing women’s personal items and family members. Then came a stroke of luck. During a CODIS, or a Combined DNA Index System, comparison between the Missing Persons’ Index and the Unidentified Persons’ Index, she’d gotten a match. Decomposed remains matching the DNA of one victim, Amelia Smith, had been found.
Then the trail went cold—no more witnesses and no new leads. Nothing.
While her hunches had generally panned out, with no hard evidence connecting the victims to each other or yielding a major breakthrough in the case, Berg had hit a wall. It was the most frustrating and mysterious case she had ever worked on. She had come up with squat beyond the one match, and she had to wonder if she’d seen patterns where there were none.
“You wouldn’t tease a girl, would you?” she asked Jay, now interested in the body.
Jay laughed. “I sure would, but not you, Berg. Name’s Danny Taylor, fifty-five, independent trucker based out of the city. The body was discovered three days ago, five miles from his truck on the tollway, near the Poplar Creek Forest Preserve. He had been tortured and dumped.”
Berg rubbed her arms free of the goose bumps that were emerging due to the frigid air drifting out of the open refrigerator drawer. “What does the ME list as cause of death?”
Jay looked through the medical examiner’s report. “Not sure yet, but the ME thinks shock or loss of blood. Hard to ascertain with so many injuries.” He nodded toward the man.
Berg studied the body critically. It was mottled with bruises, stab marks, and deep gaping wounds. Ligature furrows on his hands and wrists, combined with his blue fingers and toes, indicated he’d been tied up for a good length of time prior to death.
“Of course,” Jay said with a grimace, “he may have willed himself to die once his dick was cut off.”
Berg lifted the sheet a little higher and looked down to the ragged, gaping wound where the man’s penis should have been. “Ouch. Removed pre or post mortem?”
“The ME agrees it was done before he died, judging by the surrounding tissue trauma.” Jay said, looking vaguely ill. “Anyway, ME says there’s a lot more undeveloped bruising under those ugly tats, as well other injuries, so cause of death is still to be determined. We’ll know more tomorrow.”
“Okay, all this is kinda interesting in a gross way, but I’m hearing nothing from you about why you think he’s responsible for my girls,” Berg said, impatient.

“Because we found a lovely hair belonging to Melissa Shipper on him.”
 
About Vanessa Skye
 
Vanessa Skye has always had a love of words and spent her school years writing poetry, speeches and fictional essays.
After completing a Bachelor of Arts in Print Journalism and studying Psychology at Charles Sturt University, Vanessa got a job at Rural Press—Australia’s largest publisher of regional and agricultural news and information—where she worked as a journalist in the Central West of NSW for four years.
Thousands of stories later, Vanessa decided to move back to Sydney and try her hand at public relations while studying a Master of Arts in Communication.
Skip forward a few years and Vanessa once again found herself joyfully studying various psychology subjects while managing a Sydney public relations firm. Enthralled with examining the motivations behind people’s actions, Vanessa realized what she really wanted to do in life was combine her love of words with her fascination for human behavior.
So Vanessa quit public relations to begin the significantly more impoverished life of a professional writer.
Inspired by a recurring dream, Vanessa wrote her crime fiction debut, The Enemy Inside, which challenges the concept of justice, asks if the need for vengeance sometimes
justifies murder, and explores whether you can ever heal from childhood abuse. The second book in this Edge of Darkness series,
Broken, soon followed. The third and final book in this series, Bloodlines, was released on January 15, 2015.
Vanessa’s first paranormal romance book, Koven, was released in May 2015. Vanessa is currently working on an erotic thriller, Evidence, and a young adult fantasy, Warrior.
In her spare time, Vanessa wrote a short story, The Piece, which was published in February 2012 by Dark Prints Press as a part of the One That Got Away dark fiction anthology.
Vanessa now works as a full time writer, lives in Sydney’s northern beaches and tries to immerse herself in salt water at least once a day.

 

You can find out more at www.vanessa-skye.com
 

a Rafflecopter giveaway