Free Fiction Thursday – The Case of the Missing Elf

Missing Elf webThe Case of the Missing Elf

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.

(end of sample)

 

# # #

The Case of the Missing Elf

Copyright © 2014 Annie Reed

This story can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and Smashwords.

If you liked The Case of the Missing Elf, check out these other Diz and Dee Mysteries!

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Free Fiction – The New Year that Almost Wasn’t

Welcome to the special holiday edition of Free Fiction Thurs… er, Saturday. *g*

Thanks to the fine folks at Thunder Valley Press, who’ve been more than patient with me while I’ve been crunching this deadline, I’m happy to announce a brand new Diz & Dee holiday mystery, “The New Year that Almost Wasn’t.”  This time around, Diz and Dee are hired on Christmas Eve to find the missing and very pregnant mother of the next Baby New Year.

“The New Year that Almost Wasn’t” will be free to read throughout the holidays.  I hope you enjoy it!  Merry Christmas, everyone.

baby new year cover ebook small

 

The New Year That Almost Wasn’t

 Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

© Copyright 2012 Annie Reed

Cover Art © Nadezda Postolit | Dreamstime.com

 

The last person I expected to see walk through my office door on Christmas Eve was one of Santa’s elves.

Merry was all of three foot nothing tall.  She had green eyes and a cute button nose, and her brown curls had grown out since the last time I’d seen her.  When we first met, I hadn’t realized she was a girl, but there was no mistaking her for a boy this time around.  In my defense, back then she’d worn one of the unisex tunics like the rest of the elves wore.  Today she was dressed in a sleeveless red frock and a red Santa hat, and she had cute little gold earrings in her ears.

Merry had been one of a group of elves from the North Pole who’d hired D & D Investigations to find Santa’s missing stand-in, Norman. I’m Dee, the human half of D & D Investigations.  My partner Diz, the other D in D & D, was out buying a Christmas present for my cat. Diz and I had agreed not to buy presents for each other this year since the agency was barely staying afloat, and besides, I had no idea what to get a grumpy elf who had everything and always refused to give me a wish list.

“You’ve got to help me,” Merry said in her high-pitched, helium-addict voice. “I’m in big-time trouble.”

“Don’t tell me Norman’s missing again,” I said. We’d found Norman easily enough the last time.  Finding missing persons was, after all, our specialty, like it said on the sign on our office window, but I had a feeling that if Santa’s stand-in had decided to take a powder – again – he’d  make himself really scarce this time.

“No.” Merry’s mouth turned down in a sad little pout. “Baby New Year’s mother.”

Baby who’s what?

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Thief

Good morning, everyone!  Happy July 5th.  For those in the U.S., I hope you (and your pets) survived the holiday and all the associated fireworks.

On this first Thursday in July, I’m happy to announce that my publisher Thunder Valley Press is participating in a month-long promotion over at Smashwords.  What does that mean for my readers?  Half-price novels and story collections!

To celebrate, this week’s free fiction Thursday story is from my brand new collection IT’S A CRIME.  “Thief” marks the first appearance of private detective Abby Maxon back when she was still Abby Preston, college student.  If you enjoy “Thief,” you might also enjoy my novel PRETTY LITTLE HORSES, the first in my Abby Maxon Mystery series.

Happy reading!

THIEF

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Cover art Copyright © Gualtiero Boffi |Dreamstime.com

Cover and layout Copyright © 2012 Thunder Valley Press

The Frisbee missed the top of Abby Preston’s head by a mere inch, if that.  She ducked, even though by the time her head moved, the Frisbee was already skimming the green grass of the quad behind where she sat trying to concentrate on her Sociology 101 assignment.

“Hey!”  She looked up at Ryan in mock annoyance.  “Watch where you’re throwing that thing.”

Ryan leaned down and kissed the top of Abby’s head.  “That’s not what you said last night,” he murmured just loud enough for her to hear.

Abby felt the heat rise in her cheeks.  She’d only been dating Ryan for a month and sleeping with him for two weeks, and she wasn’t quite comfortable yet with the newness of their relationship.  College life was tough enough without complicating it by throwing a boyfriend into the mix.  Then, of course, there was the whole “don’t worry, dear, you’ll find someone to settle down with in college” thing from her mother.  That, more than anything else, was why she’d resisted Ryan Maxon’s attempts to flirt with her for as long as she had.  The last thing Abby wanted to do was fulfill her mother’s expectations.

“Are you going to make out with your girlfriend or play Frisbee?”

The question came from Jimmy Fisher, Ryan’s best friend.  Abby’s cheeks grew warmer.  That was another thing.  Dating Ryan didn’t mean just hanging out with Ryan.  It meant tagging along with Ryan and Jimmy while they did their ex-high school jock thing.  In their case, it meant watching them try to beat each other at whatever sport happened to catch their fancy. Today it was tossing a Frisbee around the University of Nevada – Reno quad.  The afternoon before, it had been killer tennis on the university courts.  The day before that, touch football with some guys from one of the frats.

“Both, of course,” Ryan said.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – My Cousin, the Rabbit

Good morning, everyone!

I can’t believe it’s almost Easter.  This year I’ll be spending Easter on the road while hubby stays home to take care of our high-maintenance cats.  I’ll miss hubby and the kitties while I’m gone, and I’ll also miss the cottontail bunny I see in my front yard almost every morning when I go out to start my car.

This week’s free story also has to do with bunnies and Easter, in a manner of speaking.  “My Cousin, the Rabbit” is a Diz & Dee fantasy mystery in which our intrepid heroes search for Dee’s missing cousin.  Enjoy!

My Cousin, The Rabbit

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2011 by Annie Reed

Cover art Copyright 2010 by Ljupco at iStockphoto.com

 

I was balancing my morning coffee and a bag of donuts in one hand and fumbling with the key to my office with the other when my cell phone rang.

I’m not a morning person.  I’m also not the world’s greatest cook.  Even though I live in the apartment upstairs from my office, I go out most mornings for coffee and something my mother would not approve of as breakfast food.  So when I recognized the ring tone I’d assigned to my mother — a snazzy little number that sounded like the music from Psycho right about the time Anthony Perkins goes gonzo on Janet Leigh with a knife in the shower — my first reaction was to drop the bag of donuts like a hot potato.

What?  Donuts?  Not me, mom.  I’m going upstairs to fix myself sprouts and granola right this minute.

Not that I had sprouts and granola in my apartment.  I barely had enough food for my cat.

The bag split open when it hit the sidewalk, spilling all that sugary goodness on the wet concrete.  So much for breakfast.  At least I still had my coffee.

I managed to get the office door unlocked and my cell phone out of my pocket before the call rang over to voicemail.

“Your cousin’s missing,” my mother said before I could even croak out a hello.

(read the rest of the story here)

 

Free Fiction Thursday – My Cousin, the Rabbit

Good morning, internets! How about we celebrate the Thursday before Easter with a brand new Diz and Dee mystery?

This time around our heroes are looking for Dee’s missing cousin, Harold. The Easter season’s been tough on Harold ever since a high school bully and budding wizard turned fifteen-year-old Harold into a six-foot tall white rabbit. The spell only lasted for a week, but the experience left shy, introverted Harold scarred for life.

Is Harold simply hiding out from an overload of bunny-themed holiday advertising? Or does someone have it in for the former rabbit? Someone who could turn Harold into the Easter Bunny for life.

My Cousin, The Rabbit

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2011 by Annie Reed

Cover art Copyright 2010 by Ljupco at iStockphoto.com

 

I was balancing my morning coffee and a bag of donuts in one hand and fumbling with the key to my office with the other when my cell phone rang.

I’m not a morning person.  I’m also not the world’s greatest cook.  Even though I live in the apartment upstairs from my office, I go out most mornings for coffee and something my mother would not approve of as breakfast food.  So when I recognized the ring tone I’d assigned to my mother — a snazzy little number that sounded like the music from Psycho right about the time Anthony Perkins goes gonzo on Janet Leigh with a knife in the shower — my first reaction was to drop the bag of donuts like a hot potato.

What?  Donuts?  Not me, mom.  I’m going upstairs to fix myself sprouts and granola right this minute.

Not that I had sprouts and granola in my apartment.  I barely had enough food for my cat.

The bag split open when it hit the sidewalk, spilling all that sugary goodness on the wet concrete.  So much for breakfast.  At least I still had my coffee.

I managed to get the office door unlocked and my cell phone out of my pocket before the call rang over to voicemail.

“Your cousin’s missing,” my mother said before I could even croak out a hello.

No wonder she was calling me at this ungodly hour.  Along with my partner, I run D & D Investigations, and as the sign on our front window says, Missing Persons Are Our Specialty.  Since my mother was calling me and not the police, I knew which cousin had to be missing.

Unlike a lot of people, I only have two cousins.  My cousin Stacy lives with her perfect husband and two perfect children in a perfect little house in an exclusive — and very expensive — neighborhood on the south end of Marlette Island.  I live across the bay in a dinky one-bedroom apartment on the second floor of my office building, which happens to be located in a not-very-exclusive neighborhood on the mainland side of Moretown Bay.  If perfect Stacy had gone missing, my mother wouldn’t be calling me.  She’d have called out the National Guard.

That left only one cousin.

“Harold?” I asked.

“Harold,” my mother said.  “Gloria’s a mess.”

Gloria is my aunt, my mom’s older sister.  Harold is Aunt Gloria’s son.  He’s ten years older than I am, single like me, but unlike me, he still lives with his mother.

I sighed and settled into my semi-battered executive chair behind my battered wooden desk.  D & D Investigations manages to keep its doors open — barely — but our furnishings are strictly second-hand, garage sale rejects.  Not that I’m complaining.  My chair may have seen better days, but it’s darn comfortable.

I peeled the plastic lid off my coffee and inhaled the aroma, trying not to think about the donuts melting into a gooey mess on the sidewalk thanks to this morning’s misty rain.  Our office building used to house a bakery, and it still smells sugary sweet when it’s damp, like this morning.  Well, like nearly every morning in Moretown Bay.  There’s a reason my hair frizzes more than curls.  Right now the ghostly smell of croissants past was making my stomach grumble, and coffee alone wasn’t going to cut it.

Not if my day was going to be spent chasing my missing cousin.

“Want to tell me what happened?” I asked my mother.

“He didn’t come home from work last night, so Gloria called Mr. Fistler.”

Of Fistler’s Fine Furnishings, where I’d bought my semi-battered executive chair.  The furnishings Frederick Fistler sold weren’t fine in the sense of rare or unique, but more in the sense of they’ll do fine in a pinch.  Old man Fistler had given Harold a job when no one else would, so that made him more than okay in my book.

“Mr. Fistler told Gloria that Harold left at noon yesterday,” my mother said.  “Harold said he had some errands to run and he’d be back late, only he never came back.  Gloria spent the night calling all Harold’s friends, only none of them had seen him all day and no one had any idea what kind of errands he was running.”

I pinched the bridge of my nose.  My mother and my Aunt Gloria tried to maintain the impression that Harold was just fine, that he had friends and a regular social life and ran errands like everyone else.  I knew better.  If Harold had more friends than I could count on the fingers of one hand, I was an elf.

I’m not an elf, by the way.  The elfly half of D & D Investigations is my partner, Diz, and a gorgeous elf at that, if in a grouchy, The Rock kind of way.  I’m a regular old mortal like my mom and my Aunt Gloria and poor, missing Harold.  Well, maybe not exactly like the rest of my family.

“Can’t you do that thing?” my mother asked.

That’s why she was really calling me.  “That thing,” as my mother calls it, is the bit of magic sight that sometimes lets me catch a glimpse of things that are about to happen.  My mother doesn’t have any great confidence in my abilities as a hit-the-streets, work-the-clues kind of detective.  She does, however, think I have a crystal ball inside my skull that lets me see the future.  She believes my ability to predict what’s going to happen as much as she believes in the spiritual advice she gets from her neighbor who reads tarot cards for all the women in Merlin Heights, the subdivision where my mother and father have lived for the last forty years.

No matter how many times I’ve told my mother that my precog ability doesn’t work that way, she still insists on telling people I’m her little fortune teller.

“I’ll make some calls,” I said just as Diz opened the front door.

He raised a cinnamon-hued eyebrow at me.   I mouthed my mother and pointed at my cell phone.  He placed a white paper bag on my desk and tiptoed into the back office.

Not that Diz has to tiptoe, precisely.  For a guy with a bodybuilder’s physique, he’s light on his feet like all elves I’ve ever met.  I’d threaten to make him wear a bell around his neck like the one my cat has on her collar, but have I mentioned that Diz is one strong elf?  I’m not sure why he puts up with me, but the last thing I want to do is rock the boat.  One of the perks of running my own detective agency, besides not having to wear a uniform like I did when I first starting working as a cop, is that Diz is my partner.

“You don’t think… ”  My mother left the rest of the thought unspoken, but I knew what she meant.  While Harold didn’t have many friends, he did have one enemy.

“I’ll check that out, too,” I said.  “Tell Aunt Gloria she should try not to worry.”

My mother let out a humorous laugh.  “What’s to worry about, right?  It’s probably just the time of year.  Harold never did like Easter.”

I suppose if I’d been turned into a six-foot tall white rabbit when I was fifteen years old, I might not like Easter too much either.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free fiction Thursday – Omens and Oracles and Eros, Oh My!

Happy Thursday before Valentine’s Day!

Just in time for the big day, private detectives Diz and Dee are back with a case involving the God of Love himself, Cupid. Here’s a sample. Follow the link at the bottom to read the whole story, which will be available for free for a week.

Omens and Oracles and Eros, Oh My
Annie Reed
Published by Thunder Valley Press
Copyright 2011 by Annie Reed
http://www.annie-reed.com

It’s not every day a Greek god walks through a girl’s front door.

My partner and I run a detective agency out of an old storefront half a mile from the ferry landing on the mainland side of Moretown Bay. The neighborhood is rundown urban with a touch of whimsical eclectic. The shop next door sells everything Asian, from manga to anime to imported CD soundtracks side by side with things like shrimp chips and lichee jellies. The masseuse across the street has her front door decorated with purple glitter and glow in the dark stars. Every time one of her customers opens that door, enough aromatherapy candle smoke escapes to engulf the neighborhood in a cloud of calm. Or passion. I’m pretty sure on those days she provides more than a simple massage. I don’t intend to find out. She seems like a nice enough woman, but I’m not that starved for affection. Not yet.

I didn’t recognize the guy who walked in my office like he owned the place, not right away, anyway. Who’d have thought you’d find a god wandering around a neighborhood like this? The sidewalk in front of our office looks like concrete accordion pleats, and I’m pretty sure a family of four is living in the panel van permanently parked at the back of the municipal lot at the end of the block.

Plus, the guy wasn’t dressed in a diaper and carting a bow and arrows. Even a detective needs at least a couple clues.

“You find lost people?” he asked, his tone more than a little upper crust.

“We do.” I resisted the urge to look at the plate glass window at the front of the office. The name on that window was D & D Investigations, and underneath: Missing Persons Are Our Specialty.

I’m Dee, one half of D & D. Diz, short for Dizzy G, is the other half. Diz is an elf. I’m not. I get along with most people. He glowers. He’s also built like The Rock, and that makes him more than a little intimidating. Which is why I’m the one who meets with potential clients. If I let Diz do the meet and greet, we’d both be begging the police department for our old jobs back.

“I need you to find someone,” the guy said.

I smiled my most competent, professional detective smile. “Have a seat.”

The guy sat, rather gingerly, in one of the two client chairs in front of my desk. The chairs were straight back, fake leather armchairs, comfortable but definitely not high rent. Nothing in our office was high rent. I had no doubt the guy’s tailored suit cost more than the monthly rent on my office-slash-apartment, and I could have eaten for a couple of weeks at the best restaurants Moretown Bay has to offer on what he must have spent on his shoes.

“Who’s missing?” I asked him.

“My youngest daughter,” he said. “Dyte.” He pronounced it DIE-tee. “She’s named after her grandmother.”

Dyte. Unusual name. Really unusual name.

Wait a minute.

I’m not a detective for nothing. The guy in my client chair had the kind of ethereal beauty that marked him as something other than a mere mortal like me. He had an angelic face, and tight little ringlet curls hugged his head. Strip away the fancy suit, slap the guy in a diaper, hand him a bow and some heart-tipped arrows, and oh yeah — he was the absolute personification of every cheesy Valentine’s Day card I’d ever gotten as a kid.

So when he said his daughter was named after her grandmother, did that mean Dyte as in Aphrodite?

Holy shit. I had an actual Greek god sitting in my client chair. I wondered where he stowed his wings.

“You’re Cupid?” I managed to choke out.

He sniffed. “Eros. I prefer Eros. Cupid is so–” He made a vague gesture with one hand. “–common.”

Read the rest of the story here.