I’m here to kick off a brand new feature on this blog — Free Fiction Thursdays.
Why Thursdays? Well, poor Thursday isn’t hump day and it isn’t quite Friday. It’s this placeholder day that gets Monday-through-Friday people one day closer to the weekend. Okay, so it’s also the day The Big Bang Theory airs on CBS (yes, I’m a fan; you should see my cell phone cover), but I thought that Thursdays around this blog should have a little something special going on all their own.
Why now? Well, I’m celebrating. 🙂
The fine folks at Thunder Valley Press are publishing a bunch of my backlist of short stories plus some brand new stuff as e-books. So far I have three stories available on both Amazon for Kindle and on Smashwords.com in a variety of e-reader formats. Take a peek at the E Books page on this website for descriptions and links.
My Free Fiction Thursday stories will be available for one week, then they can be purchased at either Amazon or Smashwords. The plan is to put up a different short story every week.
The first Free Fiction Thursday story is a brand new holiday mystery featuring a couple of my favorite characters – private detectives Dee, a human precog, and her grumpy but gorgeous elf partner, Diz. Here’s a short excerpt. Follow the link at the bottom for the complete story.
The Case of the Missing Elf
Published by Thunder Valley Press
Copyright 2010 by Annie Reed
I was having a non-argument argument with my partner about whether we should get a Christmas tree for the office when the front door opened and a whole passel of elves piled in.
Up front, I should tell you that my partner is an elf. A tall one. Broad shouldered, pointy-eared, strong jawed, and with the most drop dead gorgeous blue eyes I’ve ever seen. You might be thinking Legolas from those movies, but Diz is more The Rock than Orlando Bloom. He even has The Rock’s glower. The cinnamon and marshmallow-colored mullet, though — that’s all Diz’s own.
Yeah, I know. A mullet. But considering how great the rest of him looks, who am I to complain?
Together, Diz and I run a private detective agency called D & D Investigations out of a former bakery in a rundown neighborhood on the mainland side of Moretown Bay. I’m Dee, the other D in D & D. I’m not an elf. Or a dwarf. Or a fairy, or any one of a hundred other kinds of magic folk who call the area around the Bay home. I’m a plain old vanilla human with curly brown hair that tends to frizz when it’s humid, which is just about all the time. I also have a touch of precognition I’ve yet to learn how to control any better than my hair.
“You find missing people?” the nearest elf in the pack said.
I looked down at him. Unlike Diz, who’s a good foot taller than my medium height, these elves were all way shorter than I am. I counted seven of the mini elves. They all wore variations of the same outfit: forest green pants, red and green shirts that were more tunic than shirt, and red, green, or white scarves. The elf who asked me whether we find missing people had curly salt and pepper hair peeking out from beneath a red knit hat with a white pom-pom on top. They made the office look like a seasonal munchkin convention.
“Uh, yeah,” I said. I resisted the urge to point to the lettering beneath the agency name on the plate glass window of our office — Missing Persons Are Our Specialty. We’d paid extra for that, but no one ever seemed to read it.
The elf behind the guy with the red knit hat elbowed him. “I don’t care what you say, this can’t be the right place,” he said in a stage whisper I could hear fine even though his voice sounded like he’d just taken a hit of helium. “Just look at it.”
The rest of the elves nodded and muttered among themselves. Except for the elf with the red hat, they all sounded like helium addicts.
I glanced over at Diz, expecting to see his everyday glower amped up to a killer scowl. My partner and patience aren’t even on a handshake basis. Diz was born without that sense of serenity that’s second nature to most wood elves. Stuff gets to him. He left his clan’s home on Marlette Island years before I was even born. Life among the trees probably drove him batty. Lord knows why he puts up with me, not that I’d complain about that either. I know when I’ve got a good thing going.
One of the things Diz can’t stand is a client who won’t get to the point. Between the scowl and the lack of patience and the elfly strength, Diz can be flat out intimidating. That’s what made him such a kickass interrogator when we were both with the cops. Now that we’re detecting on our own and can’t afford to scare potential clients away, I do most of the initial interviews. I can be kind of a smartass, but at least I’m nice about it.
Most of the time.
But now, instead of having to deflect Diz from going into full scowl mode, I caught him in a near-grin.
“You’re smiling,” I said to him.
The grin disappeared. “Am not.”
I lifted an eyebrow. I’m not sure why my partner doesn’t like to admit when he’s having a good time, but far be it for me to let him get away with it.
“Right,” I said. “And I’m Santa.”
Immediately, all the pint-sized elves in the office went quiet.
“What?” I said to the group who were all giving me the evil eye.
“You are not Santa,” the elf with the red knit hat said.
“No!” chorused the rest of the little elves.
“You don’t even have any Christmas decorations!” said the little elf behind Red Hat.
The elves all nodded in agreement.
“I have this.” I pointed toward the sad-looking little miniature pine tree in a candy-cane striped pot I’d picked up at the Asian store next to the office. The tree had little red ornaments wired to its spindly branches, and a red bow stuck on one side of the pot. Even I had to admit it was lame as holiday decorations went.
That’s why I wanted to put up a Christmas tree. Diz had pointed to my sad little potted pine as a prime example of why I shouldn’t be allowed around plants. I’d pointed out to him that Christmas trees were already pretty much dead, so anything I did to it couldn’t possibly be worse. That’s when his latent wood elf rose to the surface. Diz told me he refused to have a sacrificial tree ensconced — ensconced, mind you — in his office.
Did I tell you that back when we were both cops, I was the only one who could put up with him for more than a week at a time?
Of course, he was the only one who could put up with me for more than a week at a time, too. Maybe that’s why we’re still working together, although I’d like to think there’s a little more to it than that.
“That,” Red Hat said, pointing an accusatory finger at my poor potted pine, “is not evidence of the true Christmas spirit.”
“What’s the Christmas spirit got to do with why you’re all here, anyway?” I asked.
“How can you find Santa if you don’t have the Christmas spirit?”
I blinked. “Come again? You want us to find Santa? The Santa?”