Free Fiction Thursday – Strike Two

Good morning, everyone! Happy Thursday!

When I was a kid, I had a love/hate relationship with September. I was a bit of a television junkie, and September meant the start of the new season for my favorite television shows. That was a cause for celebration. The hate part? Well, September was also back-to-school time, and that I didn’t like so much.

September also means the start of the NFL pro-football season, a reason for hubby to celebrate, and the winding down of the season — playoffs and the World Series — for baseball fans. This week’s story features a hardcore baseball fan who also happens to be a pickpocket in Las Vegas. Only in Las Vegas, a thief has to be careful who he steals from, because strikes mean a whole different thing when you’re playing on the other side of the law.

I hope you enjoy “Strike Two.”

 

STRIKE TWO

Annie Reed

Copyright © 2011 Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Cover and layout Copyright © 2012 Thunder Valley Press

Lenny Masterson knew better than to ply his trade with kids in groups, but sometimes life threw a curve ball so sweet it would have been criminal not to take a swing.

These kids, three girls barely legal enough for the round of drinks lined up on the casino bar in front of them, never spared Lenny a second glance as he brushed by behind them.  Women usually didn’t.  Most men would mind being treated like that.  They’d run out and spend a fortune on hair plugs and a personal trainer, but blending in was part of what made Lightfinger Lenny so good at what he did.

The other part?  Practice.

Lenny’d lived in Las Vegas for a couple of years now.  The place was thick with tourists and southern California transplants who walked around The Strip all googly-eyed, trying to take in the sights and sounds all at once.  Most of them never gave a second thought to the scrawny guy who bumped into them by accident, especially not if Lenny gave them the glassy-eyed stare of a lifelong alcoholic on a serious bender.  When he was working, Lenny drank only enough to put the smell of alcohol on his breath.  He could fake the look of a true souse when he needed it.  He’d spent years of his life drowning his sorrows in a bottle.  All that practice had to come in handy sometime, right?

Thanks to the school of hard knocks, Lenny had two rules he never broke.

One: No working kids in packs.

(read the rest of the story here)

 

Free Fiction Thursday – Ella and Mo

Good morning, everyone!

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of The Walking Dead. Yesterday I got a peek at Entertainment Weekly’s four covers for The Walking Dead’s third season. Wow! I can’t wait.

Since I’m in a walking dead frame of mind, here’s one of my own zombie apocalypse stories about one tough little girl. I hope you enjoy “Ella and Mo.”

 

ELLA AND MO

Annie Reed

Copyright © 2011 Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Cover art Copyright Igor Shmatov | Dreamstime.com

Cover and layout Copyright © 2011 Thunder Valley Press

I met Ella when me and Jimbo come outta one of them flat-top houses a couple of miles off The Strip.  Jimbo had his arms full of stupid shit he thought he could sell.  Me?  I had a couple of cans of tuna somebody left behind because they was dented.  These days, tuna’s worth more in Vegas than blurays and TVs and jewelry, but there was no telling Jimbo that.

Ella got the drop on us ’cause we wasn’t paying close enough attention.  See, those sick fuckers that want to eat everybody don’t come out much during the day.  Too damn hot in Vegas for ’em.  Too damn hot in Vegas for everybody now that the power don’t work right half the time and the AC ain’t on, but I’d rather be hot than hungry, and Jimbo, he’d rather be rich than anything.  So we always did our business during the day when we didn’t have to worry so much about something that used to be alive wanting to eat us.

I don’t know what Ella was doing that day.  She never said and I never asked.  All I know is that one minute me and Jimbo was walking past some old lady’s garden gnome sitting as pretty as you please in the middle of a stand of  cactus in her front yard, feeling pretty proud of ourselves even though the sweat was pouring off us, and the next minute I see this kid with a gun standing next to my car.

She never said a word before she pointed her gun at Jimbo and blew a hole clean through his left shoulder.  Jimbo screamed, and her next shot hit him in that open maw of his mouth.  He quit screaming then and fell to the sidewalk like a sack of raw meat, smack on top of all that worthless shit he’d been carrying.  That was it for Jimbo.

Then that little kid pointed her gun at me.

“I want your car,” she said.

Anybody else might have yelled or run or laughed at her.  ‘Cept for that gun, she wasn’t much to look at.  Even before the creepers—that’s what Jimbo called those sick, dead fuckers—turned the world upside down, nobody took a little kid wearing a Red Riding hood cape and carrying a gun half as big as she was seriously.  Me?  I’m a survivor.  My old Mustang and me might have logged a lot of miles together, but a car’s just a car, so I said, “Yes, ma’am,” and held out the keys.

(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 – Thief

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

This year I have lots to be thankful for, not the least of which is the publication of my novel PRETTY LITTLE HORSES, an Abby Maxon mystery.  Woot!   PRETTY LITTLE HORSES is currently available at Amazon and Smashwords, and will be available shortly at B&N and the Apple iBookstore.

As a special treat to celebrate, this week’s free story is all about Abby’s very first investigation.  I hope you enjoy THIEF.

THIEF

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2011 by Annie Reed

Cover Art Copyright Esterio | Dreamstime.com

 

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 in 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.  He kissed Abby again, this time on the lips, then jogged over to pick up the Frisbee.  “See if you can catch this one,” he said to Jimmy.

Abby tried to refocus on her textbook.  Her Sociology text was thick and boring as hell, and she had sixty pages to read by tomorrow.  She should have stayed in her dorm room, but the first warm snap of early spring had drawn her outside along with what looked like half the student body.  The quad was loaded with students sprawled out on blankets or simply sprawled out on the grass, backpacks overloaded with books by their sides, out enjoying the bright northern Nevada sunshine.  It was a wonder that Ryan and Jimmy weren’t tripping over people and books with every throw of the Frisbee.  Lucky for both of them, they had the kind of natural charm that together with their competitive natures and striking good looks equaled charisma out the wazoo.  Why someone like Ryan would be interested in someone like Abby was beyond her.  She knew she wasn’t ugly, although like most of the women in her dorm, she would have changed parts of her body in an instant if she could.  She’d just never dated anyone like Ryan before, and he really seemed to like her.  They had a spark, or a connection, or whatever you wanted to call it, but it was something special.  Abby didn’t want to mess whatever it was up before it got a real chance to grow, so when Ryan suggested she take her studying outside, she said yes.

Only Sociology wasn’t nearly as fun as watching Ryan enjoying himself.

Abby closed her book and crossed her legs, yoga style, and let herself enjoy watching her boyfriend.

She never even saw the guy who lifted her purse from the blanket behind her until he was halfway down the sidewalk leading to the engineering building.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Strike Two

Happy Thursday, everyone!

This week I’m celebrating the release of my newest story collection, EIGHT FROM THE SILVER STATE, which is available as an e-book from Amazon and Smashwords, and soon to be available in print. The eight stories in the collection, including this week’s free fiction Thursday Story “Strike Two,” are all set in my home state, Nevada. Enjoy!

STRIKE TWO

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press
Copyright 2011 by Annie Reed
Cover art copyright Sly5800|Dreamstime.com
Cover layout by Thunder Valley Press

Lenny Masterson knew better than to ply his trade with kids in groups, but sometimes life threw a curve ball so sweet it would have been criminal not to take a swing.

These kids, three girls barely legal enough for the round of drinks lined up on the casino bar in front of them, never spared Lenny a second glance as he brushed by behind them.  Women usually didn’t.  Most men would mind being treated like that.  They’d run out and spend a fortune on hair plugs and a personal trainer, but blending in was part of what made Lightfinger Lenny so good at what he did.

The other part?  Practice.

Lenny’d lived in Las Vegas for a couple of years now.  The place was thick with tourists and southern California transplants who walked around The Strip all googly-eyed, trying to take in the sights and sounds all at once.  Most of them never gave a second thought to the scrawny guy who bumped into them by accident, especially not if Lenny gave them the glassy-eyed stare of a lifelong alcoholic on a serious bender.  When he was working, Lenny drank only enough to put the smell of alcohol on his breath.  He could fake the look of a true souse when he needed it.  He’d spent years of his life drowning his sorrows in a bottle.  All that practice had to come in handy sometime, right?

Thanks to the school of hard knocks, Lenny had two rules he never broke.

One: No working kids in packs.

A kid by herself, her attention on her cell phone, why not?  Lenny would be long gone by the time she ended her call, and even longer gone by the time she noticed her wallet was missing.  But groups of kids were dangerous.  Gangs especially — nobody messed with the gangs that were taking over more and more territory outside The Strip.  Those kids would pull a knife on you for no reason, much less if they caught someone like Lenny in a middle of a job.  Lenny steered clear of any kid wearing gang colors or sporting a dead-eyed stare.  Lenny knew his limits.  He was no fighter.  He’d cut his losses and turn tail if he had to in order to save his skin.

Rule number two grew out of rule number one:  Steer way clear of anybody connected.

That meant stay away from anybody who was anybody who mattered to one of the guys in charge.  The city fathers might want the tourists to believe that Vegas was all cleaned up these days and the wiseguys were all gone.  But guys like Lenny who worked the shady side of The Strip knew that while the old-style wiseguys might be gone, they’d been replaced by guys who made the old school mobsters look like Tinkerbelle.

The tall kid at the bar, the brunette, she had one of those designer bags that cost more than a week’s rent at the no-tell motel Lenny currently called home.  That particular brand of purse was Lenny’s favorite, not for any esthetic value, but because the thing was basically one big, open bargain bin ripe for the picking.

(read the rest of the story here)