Tag Archives: contemporary romance

Aussie Romantic Thriller

kangaroo-3d

Kangaroo review 1

Chapter 1

 Blake Malone’s house was right over the road from The Ascot bar. On the corner of James and Pendington, it was a place he frequented almost as often as his house. It was Saturday night, just after eleven, he was leaning on the bar looking over his half full beer glass at three women sitting at a table. The blond one glanced and returned his smile. It wasn’t the first time she had done it. She shook her head, giggling and blushing as her eyes rolled away.

Blake had a permanent smile. At twenty-eight he easily passed for a 35-year-old, due to his laugh lines and a smattering of grey in his short dark hair. But his smile had a boyish quality. It was game in the face of adversity and cheeky on a Saturday night out hunting skirt.

He didn’t know the blond, had never seen her before. He had slept with both of her girlfriends separately, on just one occasion about a year apart. He wondered whether they had conferred with one another on the matter. They each glanced his way a few times and may well have referred to him in their discussion. There was a dance floor and music. He was seated too far away to hear what they were talking about.

Blake’s phone buzzed, a text from his boss. He read it and put the phone back in his pants pocket.

Checking the girls again, he saw Jolene take Elle by the hand and lead her to the dance floor. It was the first time in the half hour the blond had been left alone. He took his beer and strolled over, her gaze flashing past him then returning to meet his. Her smile lit up.

“I’m Blake. How ya going?”

“Fine, thanks.”

Blake cocked an ear questioningly.

The woman’s blush deepened. “Lisa.”

“Hey, Lisa. I’ve been trying not to stare. Sorry.”

“That’s okay. Stare all you want.”

Blake leaned on the back of a chair. “I’ve actually gotta go but didn’t want to leave without saying hi. I noticed you smile a few times. Maybe if I see you here again we could have a drink?”

She frowned. “Oh. You have to go?”

“I do, well, in a minute, anyway. How do you know Jolene and Elle, from work?”

“Yeah. I just started this week. We’re having a get-to-know-each-other night.” Lisa tilted her head, her eyebrows rising. “They called you a shark.”

“Who, me?” Blake chuckled, feigning innocence. “They must have me confused.”

“No, I don’t think so. You look kind of sharky.”

Blake looked down at himself, arms spread. He wasn’t properly dressed for a Saturday night out, cargo pants and a t-shirt. His hair was ruffled and he hadn’t shaved that morning. He looked back up, grinning. “How’s this sharky? I’ve got nothing on all the other guys here, fine cut and slick looking. I just stopped in for a beer before bedtime.”

“Bedtime? Really?”

“Yeah, I’ve gotta work in the morning, a Sunday ‘n’ all, conscientious as I am.”

“Your work isn’t even open on Sundays.”

“How do you know where I work, Lisa?” Blake edged onto a seat. “Do you mind, just for a minute?”

“That’s fine. They told me where you work. We were just talking about you.”

“Aahh, all good, I bet.”

“That’s hard to say. The difference isn’t always clear.”

Blake nodded. “I agree.” He had a sip of beer. “So, you’re in accounts as well? Is Jolene still working on her law course, she going ok with it?”

Lisa smiled a little with a blush. “She just finished.”

“Cool. And Elle, did she ever break away from that dickhead ex? I remember she said he was hassling her online. I hope she had him dealt with.”

“I don’t know. She hasn’t said anything.”

“Well, that was six months ago. Hopefully all sorted,” Blake said.

“Yeah, but you remember. They said you um, well, that you weren’t exactly a good listener.”

“Jolene has a brother, Parker, and sister…” Blake clicked his fingers, thinking. “Mary! And Mary was pregnant and pissed off with her husband about his gambling. Elle is from down south, a small town near Tamworth. She moved here to Brisbane when she was twelve. Her parents divorced not long after, and she hasn’t seen her dad since. As I recall, those were the main things going on a while ago. But what about you, Lisa? Did you grow up here in Brisbane?”

“Yeah, pretty much, the north side.”

“Cool. A local girl. Local boy,” Blake said, tipping his beer in salute. She met his smile. He looked left and right. “It seems local girls are usually the prettiest around here.”

She blushed. “Thanks, Sharky.”

Blake chuckled. Elle returned and sat beside him. “Hey, Blake.”

“Hey, Elle, how’s it going?”

“Fine. What are you doing, trying to chat up Lisa, are you?”

“I was but wasn’t getting anywhere, unfortunately. Someone tipped her off.”

“What’s he want?” Jolene asked. “That’s my chair!”

Blake leaned back, smiling up. “Sorry. I just saw you left poor Lisa sitting here all alone and thought I should offer to keep her company until you got back.”

Jolene scoffed. “Yeah, right. That’s okay, don’t get up.” She slipped onto Blake’s lap.

“He doesn’t seem so bad,” Lisa said.

“Huh! Of course he doesn’t seem bad.” Jolene squeezed his cheeks. “He seems like a nice guy. Don’t you, Mr Slick?”

“But I’m not—” Blake started.

He was cut off by Elle. “Yes, he seems all sweet and innocent, but he has a lair.”

“A lair?” Blake looked from one smiling face to another. “Sharks don’t have lairs, do they?”

They all laughed at him.

“Alright, that’s it, I’m not gonna sit around here being insulted.”

“Aaw, poor Blakey,” Jolene cooed, squeezing his cheeks again as he slipped from beneath her.

“You ladies have a nice night, Good to see you again, Jolene, Elle, looking fine. Hope you got rid of your stalker. Lisa, lovely to meet you.” Blake offered his hand. When she accepted it he lifted hers and kissed it. “Truly lovely,” he added, holding her eyes as she blushed.

“Oh my god!” Jolene cried.

Elle was mouth agape, shaking her head.

Blake bowed to them and departed, resisting a glance back as he left the bar.

He crossed the street and entered his building. He was on the fifteenth floor. The elevator was waiting. Aside from the message from his boss to show up at work in the morning, he was quite tired and not up for a lady visitor, anyway.

He stripped off and had a quick shower. It was a balmy late spring evening. He poured a dash of Cognac and took it out onto his balcony overlooking the city. He rocked back in his favourite chair and spread his toes on the cool chrome rail, the sounds of traffic and voices of people filling the air with a familiar buzz that was relaxing to Blake.

He turned on his phone and scrolled back through his texts. He didn’t have a number for either Jolene or Elle but eventually found an old text from Elle. He smiled to himself and typed: u girls r hot… He pressed send and turned off his phone, rocking back again with his Cognac.

*

The next morning, a little after ten, Blake strolled into his work building three blocks away. The executive offices of The Brisbane Mail were all but empty. He found his boss at her desk talking on a headset. She waved for him to sit.

Blake took out his phone and checked for emails. He wondered how Sandy was going. Sandy was a brunette he had seen a few times lately, nothing serious, but he was feeling rested now and up for some fun on his day off.

His boss put her headset aside. “Morning, Blake. Thanks for coming in.”

“That’s alright, Amanda. What’s up?”

Amanda Stone was a career news magazine editor. She had a narrow face and hard features. She ruffled her long red hair, it was sweaty. She wore a white tennis uniform. After fixing her curls in a band, she leaned down to a bag on the floor and pulled out an envelope. She tossed it across the desk to Blake.

He used his smile. “What, am I fired?”

“You wish, or you will shortly.”

Blake extracted a folded page from the envelope. It was faintly ruled notebook paper. The writing was by hand: Who is buried on Warburton Station?

He looked to his boss. “I give up, who?”

She rested back in her chair and folded her arms. “About twenty years ago, I did a story about the murder of a woman from Warburton Station. Have you heard of Clive Petrov?”

Blake thought for a moment. “I remember reading something about him, something recent.”

“Yes, there has been a body found down the south coast somewhere, linked to him. There’s a task force looking into the guy right now.”

“Okay…” Blake held up the note. “So, where did you get this?”

“I found it in my post box yesterday. There’s no post mark. Looks like it was hand delivered.”

Blake checked the envelope. “So, twenty years ago you did a story, now you get a note. What’s it mean?”

“I don’t know. I’ve not had reason to think about the case since the story was published. It was left open, a strangled nurse and an unknown perpetrator. It’s only this recent information that has linked Petrov. I suspected him at the time but there was no proof. I never actually mentioned him in the story, just in my notes, which I can’t find now. I searched half the night. You’ll have to start from scratch, Blake.”

“I will? Me?”

“Yes, you. Consider yourself assigned. Here are the keys to the new Jeep.” Amanda slid them across the desk.

Blake caught them. He chuckled. “Cool. I like the Jeep.” He twirled the keys. “Where am I going, boss? What’s this, a railway station somewhere? Warburton. Where’s that?”

Amanda Stone smiled, her lined face smoothing somewhat as her eyes sparkled with mirth. “No, playboy, Warburton is no railway station. It’s an outback cattle station. Waaaay outback,” she said with a sweep of her arms. “Better pack your big suitcase and a sandwich.”

“Oh, shit!”

READ ON

The Trelor Sect Killings…

childrens-2

He was saving them. He was gathering them unto his spiritual flock, and he would shepherd them there. He was protecting them from the evil materialism and godless destruction of nature that had become the modern world. How long would it be until the end of humanity was brought about in nuclear devastation? This was the way to peace and salvation, Warren Trelor reasoned as he depressed the trigger and discharged a bullet into the back of Star’s head.

The woman’s bloodied hand slipped from the door handle, and her body slumped with her head coming to rest against the door frame at an odd angle. Her eyes were wide but life had abandoned them. Her mouth was open, and there was a strained gurgling sound, then her body convulsed softly in a final nervous spasm.

Trelor met the eyes of his daughter as they lifted from the woman’s face. “She’s in a safer place now, Summer,” he said. “Lock the door now and wait till I come for you.”

Summer didn’t quite close the door. She watched through a tiny crack as the woman’s body was dragged away. There had been sounds of fighting and screaming, and there had been other gun shots. She understood that the adults were being executed. She had been told to stay in the room with the children, and they were all huddled on a bed in the corner with tears dripping from their faces and snot dripping from their noses. They were past crying, though. She had soothed them, and they were all calm in their trust of her.

There had been single gun shots at short intervals. The massacre had been in progress for only ten minutes. There had been two more shots in the time since Summer had closed the door. There was another, and then another that sounded like it came from the back of the house.

She peeked from the curtain to see Joel Dixon lying in the doorway and her father stepping over his body and stalking away toward the kombi van.

Summer knew what was planned. She needed to get to her aunt and make her stop her father from killing the children. She snuck from the door, tip-toeing along the edge of the narrow hallway to avoid stepping in the trail of smeared blood. She looked in the living room where the adults were all lined up against the wall, dead. She saw her Aunt May sitting on the floor in the kitchen. Her head was slumped forward, her arms by her side. Her hand moved, and she made a sound with her head lifting a little then rocking forward again.

“Aunty, you have to wake up!” Summer implored. She was on her knees beside the woman. “You have to wake up and stop him! You have to stop Daddy,” the young girl pleaded, crying and trying to hold her aunt’s head upright.

There was a loud yell from outside. Summer recognised the voice of her friend Bert Dixon. She crawled past the prone man lying in the doorway and snuck with her back pressed against the side of the house until she could see around the corner. It was her father fighting with Bert. She watched the two men thumping and trying to strangle each other, hoping and praying Bert would win, but her dad was strong.

***

It had been only a week since Summer’s eleventh birthday. There had been a party where the women had dressed her up. They were all dead now, those women. They were lined up against the wall in the living room covered in blood with their eyes and mouths open. Summer could smell the blood. It was a thick, syrupy smell like sour milk and lemons.

The men had all bathed and combed their hair for her birthday party. They were nice men. They played guitars and sang. They were all dead now too. They were all lined up against the wall with their eyes and mouths open and blood all over their shirts.

“Summer! Now put that down!” Trelor commanded, but Summer depressed the trigger of the rifle she had picked up off the ground and discharged a bullet into her father.

She had been taught how to use the rifle by her aunt. She had been shooting targets since she was eight.

She fed another bullet into the chamber and worked the bolt forward and down. She pulled back the hammer until it caught. Then she lifted the rifle to her right shoulder and looked through the sight on top of the barrel.

Her father was sitting on the ground holding his stomach. He looked up from his bloodied hand and met his daughter’s eyes. Bert Dixon staggered to his feet and swayed there against the kombi van. He held out his hand to Summer, motioning for her to give him the rifle.

“It’s okay now, Summer.”

His voice was strange. He was struggling to breathe, but it was more than that. It was as if he was in another dimension or something, and Summer didn’t believe him—that it was okay now.

She aimed the rifle at her father’s chest, at the left side, imagining where his heart would be, and she depressed the trigger, discharging another bullet that made his eyes pop open and seem to focus on the far off distance.

The rifle was then taken from her grasp and she was led back into the house and into the room with the children. She was told to stay there, and she did. She waited until she heard someone sneaking along the hallway, and she peeped out to see her aunt edging along the wall toward her room. And a while later there were police lights and people everywhere. And Summer made sure to collect her shoulder bag as she was taken out through the back of the house and placed in the police bus.

In her shoulder bag she had her makeup and jewelry, her small beaded purse with her money, and a bone handled hair brush that she took out to brush her hair….

****

The Children’s Room is a romantic suspense novel featuring two of the children who survived that massacre. The setting 35 years later…

Preview 

Slow burn with plenty of heat

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BOOK REVIEW: This is one of the better romances of this kind I have read. It’s a letdown when the hero is a shallow playboy type and the heroine allows her attraction to him to overpower her better judgement. The mix here has the heroine not being overpowered at all. Maggie is a terrific character – her strength not wavering until the final scene, and even then we have to wonder who it was that lost control and succumbed to the attraction – or indeed whether they both did. There is a depth of honesty and realism in these characters that handles the tryst between the powerful bad boy and intrepid good girl way better than some bestselling books of late…. This is a fast read but not a quick fix story. It’s sexy and highly entertaining.

Preview on Amazon