Free Fiction Thursday – Love Stinks, Inc.

Annie HS cover webLove Stinks, Inc.

Annie Reed

1

Dyte glared at the black cat perched on the center of her desk. It couldn’t stare back at her since it was just one of the many wildly successful plush toys her company produced, but that didn’t stop her from hating its adorable little guts.

The cat held a puffy red heart in its front paws. The universal Don’t Do This symbol, a circle with a slash through the center, was printed on the red satin fabric along with the stylized logo for Dyte’s company—Love Stinks, Inc.

The plush cat was part of this year’s line of stuffed animals meant to appeal to chronically unattached women (and chronically unattached men confident enough in their masculinity to buy themselves a stuffed toy). Given her company’s more than healthy bottom line, the world contained about a bazillion single people who didn’t mind dishing out $9.95 for a fuzzy toy to cuddle with on Valentine’s Day just to make themselves feel better about being alone.

Just like Dyte was alone.

She leaned forward, planted her elbows on the smooth surface of her desk, and rested her chin in her hands so she could gaze at the cat at something approximating its eye level.

“What’s your secret?” she muttered at the cat. “Why do people love you so much?”

She should be happy the toys were so successful. A significant amount of her company’s research and development budget had gone into determining a perfect size for the plush toys (big enough to cuddle but not so big they would give a real cat or dog or skunk a run for its money), the length and thickness of their fake black fur (somewhere between shorthair and Persian, when measured in feline terms), and the color of their over-sized eyes (a washed out blue somewhat darker than the noontime sky uncluttered by clouds but not as deep as the clear blue of a high mountain lake). That still didn’t the ridiculous popularity of the things. Even the skunks.

At least the toys weren’t spelled. She’d put her foot down (metaphorically speaking) at the mere suggestion, even though both R & D and her sales department had lobbied long and hard for inclusion of a compulsion spell—a “minor” one, they had assured her—in the stuffing inside the red satin heart all the plush toys held.

As far as she was concerned, customers would either buy her company’s products because they wanted to, or they wouldn’t. The last thing she wanted to do was compel people to fall in love with a stuffed toy.

Compelling people to fall in love was her dad’s thing, not hers. It was hard enough to be taken seriously in business when you were the immortal daughter of Cupid and Psyche, and you had a ridiculous name like Dyte because your mom thought it would be a nice tribute to name you after your grandmother.

Like Aphrodite had ever given one whit about her granddaughter.

Which was fine with Dyte. From the stories she’d heard, grandmother had a vindictive streak a mile wide, just like a lot of the old gods in the family tree. Even though Dyte was an immortal like her parents, she was glad to stay off grandmother’s radar.

If only she’d managed to keep her private life off her dad’s radar.

(end of sample)

~~~

Love Stinks, Inc.

Copyright © 2015 Annie Reed

This story is no longer available to read for free, but it can be purchased at Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords, iTunes, and Barnes & Noble.

Be sure to check out the other stories in the Uncollected Anthology series!

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New Release!

Happy New Year, everyone!

To kick off 2015 with a bang, the third issue of the Uncollected Anthology releases today, and this time around the anthology welcomes its first totally awesome guest author — USA Today bestseller Kristine Kathryn Rusch!!  Woot!  (Can you tell I’m excited? *g*)

This issue’s theme is Heartspells, and my contribution is “Love Stinks, Inc.,” featuring none other than Dyte, the immortal daughter of Cupid and Psyche, who made her first appearance in my Diz & Dee story “Omens and Oracles and Eros, Oh My.”

Annie HS cover webIf you’re unfamiliar with the Uncollected Anthology, here’s the deal:

Each quarter all of the UA authors pick a theme and write stories to that theme.  This quarter’s theme is Heartspells.  Each story is published individually, so it’s kind of like going to a buffet–you only buy the stories you like.  Of course, we hope you’ll buy them all, and I think you’ll want to–they’re just that good.

Who are the other authors participating in the Uncollected Anthology, you ask?  Here’s this issue’s lineup:

Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Dayle A. Dermatis

Leah Cutter

Michelle Lang

Leslie Claire Walker

Phaedra Weldon

They’re fabulous writers, each and every one of them, and I’m a big fan.  In fact, that’s how the Uncollected Anthology started.  We’re all fans of each other’s work, and we wanted to read more of it.  I hope you will too.

Free Fiction Thursday – Don’t Touch

Good morning, everyone! And Happy Valentine’s Day!

In honor of Valentine’s Day, last week’s free story, “Love Among the Llamas,” will be up for another week. “Love Among the Llamas” is a traditional romance. This week we have a story about a different sort of love. I hope you enjoy “Don’t Touch”.

dont touch cover

 

Don’t Touch

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2013 by Annie Reed

You lift the curtain with the tip of one finger and peer out at the customers ringing the edge of the bar.  That’s all you can see through the glare of the stage lights.  Emma’s up now, dancing around the pole like it could rub her back and pay her mortgage and put her kids through school, and maybe it can because no man’s ever gonna do those things for her, like no one’s ever gonna do them for you, but it’s all you got, and you take what you can get.

The customers look the same as last night’s and the night before.  Middle-age losers, their mouths slack, hands cupped around their drinks, staring up at Emma with so much naked want in their faces, it makes you sick.  Cigarette smoke curls around Emma’s ankles like so many fingers pulling at her.  That’ll be you out there in five minutes once Emma’s done with her routine and she goes out on the floor so the men beyond the bar can stuff dollar bills under the elastic of her G-string and pretend that fleeting touch is enough.

How many of them would want to touch her if they knew she went home with you?  Would it matter, or would they pay more to watch?

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Omens and Oracles and Eros, Oh My

Happy Thursday, everyone!

You should know by now that I’m a big fan of The Big Bang Theory. A couple of years back when they introduced Amy Farrah Fowler as Sheldon’s girlfriend, I was skeptical. Sheldon Cooper with a girl? Sheldon was, as the characters themselves sometimes put it, a man of science, only unlike the other characters, he had absolutely no interest in girls.

Well, as it turns out, I think Amy was a great addition to the cast, as was Bernadette. The show is, at heart, a romantic comedy. Romantic comedies come complete with romantic entanglements of one version or another for their characters.  While Sheldon is still a man of science, now he has an equally odd woman of science to spend his time with, complete with relationship agreement.

All this talk about relationships leads me to this week’s free story, which finds Cupid, the God of Love, hiring our intrepid detectives Diz and Dee to find his missing daughter. I hope you enjoy “Omens and Oracles and Eros, Oh My.”

omens cover

Omens and Oracles and Eros, Oh My

Annie Reed

Copyright 2011 by Annie Reed

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.”

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Omens and Oracles and Eros, Oh My

Good morning, everyone!

Sleepy morning around these parts. One of our kitties slept in our room last night. She was pretty good, for the most part — at least when she wasn’t burrowing beneath the covers or curling up on my hair. She’s a very lovey cat though, so it’s hard to say no to her.

In honor of the upcoming holiday devoted to love — Valentine’s Day — this week’s story features the God of Love himself: Cupid, or at he prefers to be called — Eros. “Omens and Oracles and Eros, Oh My” is one of my Diz and Dee mysteries. Enjoy!

Omens and Oracles and Eros, Oh My

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2011 by Annie Reed

  

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.”

(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.