I am thrilled to announce my first horror novel, Reclamation, which is now available by clicking here:
touts herself as an E.R.E.: Essence Reclamation Expert. Together with her twin
brother, Parker, the computer wizard of the duo, they grift across the country,
scamming the bereaved by faking hauntings and then reclaiming the disembodied
souls, all for a hefty price.
arriving in the small, southern town of Forest Haven, Arkansas, to swindle the
family of Jared Kendal, recently deceased, a sense of doom swirls inside her
mind as strange events unfold. She’s portrayed the role of an essence reclamation
expert for years, toying with people grieving for lost loved ones, conning them
for cash when they are at their most vulnerable stage in life, feeling no shame
or sorrow for the pain she causes the naïve fools, yet she now worries the lies
have wormed their way into her psyche.
As they prepare
to con Jared Kendal’s widow, Clara, Mandy’s worst fears come to fruition as she
discovers there is a high price to pay for leading such a deplorable life, and
when fate calls, she cannot run or hide.
While walking toward the parking area, Mandy enjoys the
festive decorations plastered on the streetlights and storefronts. Santas,
reindeer, elves, holly, bulbs, Christmas trees, snowmen, and countless nativity
scenes are everywhere she looks. Stopping at the display window of an antique
store, her lips curve into a sneer while staring at an old wooden dressing
table adorned with a silver hairbrush and unopened bottle of White Shoulders.
The items bring back unwanted and
unwelcomed childhood memories.
Inhaling the crisp air to rid herself
of the stench of her youth, she takes in the sparkling, multi-colored lights,
blinking in time with Christmas music drifting from hidden speakers
strategically interspersed throughout downtown. She loves the cooler weather,
especially landscapes peppered with vibrant orange, sunny yellow, and
eye-popping crimson foliage. It’s a shame all the gorgeous leaves fell off and
died. The twisted, bare limbs appear as gnarled monster hands reaching into the
night sky, searching for prey to dismember.
Earlier in the day, energy from the
hustle and bustle of people obsessed with the minutia encompassing the
celebration of Christmas electrified the air. The streets are empty now that
Black Friday sales ended. A few stragglers scurry around like panicked ants,
bumping into each other in their quests to snag the perfect gift before the
stores close. During the hours-long shopping excursion, she’d witnessed several
arguments resulting in loud shouting matches and twice, fists flew.
As evening approached, most folks
rushed home after emptying the shelves, fearful of the predicted snowstorm. She
understands the urge, though for a different reason. Southerners are
notoriously poor drivers in pleasant weather. When faced with slick roads, they
are horrible and dangerous. She can handle driving in winter weather, but
certainly could not control the stupidity of others. The last thing she needs
is a cop summoned to an accident scene asking nosey questions.
A gust of frigid wind blows tendrils of
auburn curls out from underneath the beanie and across her face. Something
sticks to her boot. Bending down, she picks it up, realizing it’s a flyer.
We opened early. Bring this card and
treat yourself today with a free Peppermint Mocha at Gerald’s Java! Happy
The enticing aroma of roasted coffee
beans and cinnamon catches her attention. Turning to gaze up the block, she
notices a neon sign blinking “Open” above the entrance of the coffeehouse.
“Huh. Guess I passed right by this
morning and didn’t notice they opened. Oh, my lucky day!”
Snagging a free drink before heading
home to meet with Parker sounds fantastic. After spending hours tromping
through stores, she craves a jolt of something hot with a stiff caffeine kick.
Maybe a wheat bagel, too. Necessary fuel to recharge her dwindling battery and
a chance to rest tired feet. There are several details to finalize before
completing their new job next week. Plus, she wants to show him the items
purchased on sale.
Shoving the paper into her pocket, she
smiles while walking. Free coffee and a somewhat healthy snack are exactly what
she needs. It isn’t Starbucks, but it will have to do.
Opening the door, a bell tinkles, a
jingly signal to the lone barista a customer entered. A wave of heat slams into
her as though standing in front of a blast furnace. The interior is stifling.
On instinct, her sharp gaze sweeps over the newly remodeled space, making sure
she doesn’t know any occupants inside. The shop is cute, artsy, and whimsical,
with a vast array of decorations stretching from the 40s all the way through to
the 90s, and the best part is no other customers, which means no wait time and
no one to concern herself with who might recognize her face.
A bleached blonde, wearing very little
clothing for such a chilly evening, leans against the counter, pecking away on
her phone. No wonder it is so hot. The girl is practically naked.
The barista looks up from the cell in
her hand and smiles. A set of enormous doe-eyes rimmed in black eyeliner and
framed with extremely long eyelashes stares without blinking. The amount of
rouge slathered across her cheeks is comical. Clown-like. Searching for any
sign of recognition, Mandy contains a sigh of relief. The only familiarity in
the face stems from the makeup tricks favored by her mother, which makes her
skin crawl. “Hi.”
“Evening. Welcome to Gerald’s Java. I’m
Emma. What may I get started for you? Fair warning, we’re outta peppermint
mocha, so no more freebies.”
The thick accent sends waves of
irritation grinding through Mandy’s teeth. She hates hearing a southern drawl
and abhors speaking with one. It sounds, and feels, like nails down a
Mentally salivating over the
ridiculously large cinnamon rolls dripping with creamy icing, she fights the
urge to order one. Taking a deep breath, she drawls, “Oh, too bad. I was
looking forward to peppermint and chocolate. The combination is my favorite.
How about a venti caramel macchiato with an extra shot of espresso and a wheat
bagel with low-fat cream cheese?”
“Oh, I think we’re out of those. Let me
Emma ducks behind the counter.
Kitchenware rattles as she pilfers through the cabinets. “Sit anywhere you
like. Rush is over, but I’m still trying to catch my breath! There wasn’t a
place to set a shopping bag down about an hour ago. When I ran out of
peppermint mocha, I had one angry mob of tired lady shoppers on my hands, all
demanding free drinks. Wish the owners woulda bought more, and hired extra help,
but I guess they didn’t know we’d be this busy on opening day. I mean, this is
a small town, right?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Shoot, we’re outta bagels and cream
cheese. Sorry.” Emma pops back up. “Wow, your eyes are such a beautiful shade
of green! Contacts?”
“Oh, of course. Redhead. Duh! Dang,
listen to me prattle on while your cheeks are redder than that pretty hair.
Meemaw always said ginger curls make fragile girls. Pale skin’s thinner and
gets colder faster. Know what I’m saying?”
Rather than scowling at the rude
comments, somewhat stunned by the speed and cadence of Emma’s words, Mandy
keeps her features neutral while nodding. Hearing a southerner speak so fast is
like talking to someone from California high on meth with a southern drawl.
The girl obviously cannot tell the hair
is a wig. Mandy always buys the best. Emma missed the fact that if Mandy was a
natural redhead, she’d have freckles.
Emma puts on an apron. “Thank goodness
the weather forecast changed. Ain’t no worries about slipping and sliding all
the way home.”
“Yep, no snow, only freezing temps.
Storm didn’t dip down far enough to affect us. It sure is cold up here in the
mountains. Dealing with my first winter almost makes me regret moving. Temps
don’t get this chilly where I’m from. But I’m a love-struck goose, so wherever
my Kevin goes, I follow. Of course, it didn’t hurt that he inherited a free
place to live, so how could we turn that down?”
“In this tough economy, how indeed?”
“His aunt Aileen died a few months ago
and left him a big old house over in Forest Haven on Mercer Drive. It’s
gorgeous and overlooks the river. Even has a red-tiled roof! My drive to work
is stunning, so I don’t mind the two-lane road and all those curves. Well,
except if there’s ice. We southern gals don’t do well on ice, do we?”
Emma winks with such force the eyelash
“No, we surely don’t.” Mandy returns
the gesture, wondering why so many southerners feel the urge to share their
entire life stories with complete strangers.
“Kevin wants to get hitched and start a
family. Got it in his head to fill up the place with the pitter-patter of tiny
feet. I told him I’d marry him but ain’t ready to pop out little ones. I’m too
young to give up my figure. The women in my family have a long line of wide
hips and big backsides magically appearing after childbirth.”
Emma chortles at her joke.
Mandy flashes a fake smile, wishing the
annoying girl would stop yammering. Her stomach growls. She hadn’t eaten a
thing since breakfast, which was only half a piece of toast. Hunger combines
with the sweltering heat, making her feel woozy.
She knows exactly the house Emma means.
Interesting. The job for Aileen Reynolds is the one Parker wanted to take
instead of the one at the Kendals. She almost regrets overriding Parker’s
choice. It would have been fun to scare Emma into silence, even if only
“Would you like a cinnamon roll
instead? I saw you eyeing them.”
“No, thank you.”
“Let me know if you change your mind,
sugar. Those things are better than sex, and last longer too! Oops, gotta
remember not to say such things out loud. If Kevin heard me, he’d be three
shades of screwed up the next time we got naked.”
“Better than an orgasm, huh?”
“If I’m lying, I’m dying, and this
gal’s healthier than a prized racehorse.”
Cutting her gaze back over to the
delicious-looking dessert, Mandy’s stomach grumbles again. “Okay, you twisted
“I’ll bring your order over when ready.
I bet after all your shopping, your feet need a break. We’ve got magazines at
the end of the bar and each table has a newspaper. Sit, relax, and get yourself
unfrozen, darling! We’ll all see ya soon!”
Mandy’s brows furrow. Isn’t the
expression “y’all come back now” or something else equally stupid? The
butchered, improper pronunciation of the English language sends her nerves into
overdrive. She hates dropping the “g” at the end of words. Why did the southern
dialect do that? It was almost as annoying as people from back east and their
odd use of the letter “r.”
Being called sugar, sweetie, and
darling by a total stranger is beyond weird, hovering near creepy. Though she
can mimic countless accents depending upon which state they are in, when in the
south, she refuses to pepper phrases with such arcane language. Maybe in the
1950s, addressing people in such a manner was charming. In 2022, it is
offensive and condescending.
Reaching into her pocket, she removes
the last twenty, shocked at the ridiculous amount of money she’d spent in less
than ten hours. She places it on the counter as Emma busies herself preparing
the order. She doesn’t tip, but for some unknown reason, feels the overwhelming
urge to do so.
A familiar odor fills the hot, heavy
air. Mandy nearly gags. Despite the heat, chills ripple across her body, making
goosebumps sprout. “Is that White Shoulders I smell?”
“Yes, ma’am. Found it at Raney’s
antique store. It was my meemaw’s favorite foo-foo juice.”
Mandy stiffens. She hasn’t heard the
expression in over seven years. “Come again?”
“That’s what Meemaw called perfume—foo-foo
juice. She died when I was eighteen, so when I saw the bottle, I just had to
have some. Reminds me of my younger days.”
“It was my mother’s favorite, too, and
she used the same description for cologne.”
“Ain’t that something! You said ‘was.’
Did your momma pass on, sugar?”
“Yes. Several years ago. I was eighteen
“Small world, huh?”
“I never met my mother. Meemaw raised
me. I remember her saying my ma was an alley cat, always slinking around for
the next good thing, which apparently didn’t include me. Broke my spirit when
Meemaw passed on, but at least I’ve got my Kevin. Anyway, enough about my woes.
They got more White Shoulders over at Raney’s. It’s only two doors down. You
should go buy some to wear so you never forget momma.”
Mandy shivers again. There is no way
she’d do such a thing. She wants to erase the memories of her youth, especially
the ones of Patrick and Sharay Morgan, not revisit them. “Thanks for the tip.”
“Welcome. Now, like I said, sit
anywhere ya like. I’ll be done in a sec.”
The whir of the espresso machine drowns
out an acoustic version of “Jingle Bell Rock” playing softly in the background.
Deciding to sit near the window, Mandy takes off the beanie and heavy coat,
pushing aside the newspaper on the table. A thin sheen of sweat dots her
forehead. Should she ask Emma to turn the heat down? No, that will just invite
more mind-numbing conversation peppered with down-home slang.
Mentally cringing that she used the
phrase, “I reckon,” she stares out the window, beyond ready for the Kendal job
to be over so they could head back east for the next one. If she said or heard
‘y’all’ one more time, her brain might explode.
A memory bursts inside her mind of her
father smacking the backs of their heads each time one of them used incorrect
pronunciation or had a hint of a dialect other than the location they were
currently living in.
His growly voice follows the painful
vision: “Leave no crumbs for law enforcement to follow. No bank accounts or
checks or credit cards. Pay for everything in cash. Be ghosts. Blend into your
surroundings. Adapt. Never wear the same disguise twice. Never, under any
circumstances, do any business in the town where the job is. All transactions
are to be conducted in a neighboring city. Fly under the radar and then
disappear like morning fog on a sunny day.”
Patrick Russell Morgan had been a mean,
short-tempered bastard with no fatherly qualities. Sharay Nicole Morgan had
been a woman bereft of warm, maternal instincts or compassion. Patrick and
Sharay had been too busy planning out their next swindle to be parents to or
love their twins. Mandy and Parker had only served as bait in countless schemes
across the states.
If there is any sort of life after
death, and any cosmic justice, her parents are in abject misery.
Nipping the skin surrounding her left
thumb, the taste of copper fills her mouth. The nervous habit appeared in
childhood and never left. She frowns while wrapping a paper napkin around the
edge to stop the bleeding.
There isn’t a reason to be nervous.
Patrick and Sharay are long since dead. The upcoming job with Parker isn’t
their first rodeo. They had prepped and planned for every conceivable outcome.
The traffic light changes from green to
yellow to red. An SUV nearly t-bones a pickup. Tires squall. A few onlookers
whip out cameras, clicking away like tourists on their first trip to the U.S.
The driver of the truck screams obscenities out the window, face scrunching in
anger. The female SUV operator responds by flipping the bird before
disappearing into the night.
Why is she so edgy? The holidays?
Crazed shoppers? Disturbing memories of her parents? Hunger? The town?
No, despite its many flaws, she likes
the area. Quaint. It is close, but not too close, to Forest Haven, where they’d
been staying for the last two months. Crawfordsville, Arkansas, is clean and
full of old-school charm and nostalgia. Most of the original brick structures
built in the late 1800s still stand, cared for and updated by each new generation.
Homes dot the landscape with large, wrap-around porches and enormous windows to
give the occupants stunning views of the Ouachita Mountains.
If she settles down, which she never
would—repetition is her Kryptonite—Crawfordsville would be her choice. Friendly
people, yet not so over-friendly they are in the middle of everyone else’s
business. Well, except for a chipper clerk named Emma hawking caffeine and
sugar highs at the local coffee shop like a pimp enticing horny Johns.
She chuckles softly at the joke.
Unlike Crawfordsville, most residents
of Forest Haven are elderly and come from old money. Earlier research concluded
it had been a boomtown in the late 60s to early 90s, but after the gas pipeline
shut down, other businesses followed. The town’s population withered down to an
unrecognizable husk of its former numbers. Younger citizens moved away to seek
new lives in more vibrant and economically stable environments. Forest Haven is
dying fast, just like its elderly residents, which is exactly why the Morgan
twins picked the location.
Emma brings over the order, flashing a
big smile while setting the items on the table. “Enjoy! We close in
half-an-hour so I gotta start shutting things down. No rush, sweetie. Oh, and
here’s a little something special for when you get home. You look like you need
“What is it?”
“Consider it an early Christmas
Mandy opens the white paper bag. It
contains an extra cinnamon roll. Embarrassment floods her chest and cheeks.
“Welcome, doll.” Emma points to the
newspaper. “You got time to unwind and catch up on news, maybe even find a good
coupon or two.”
Watching a tight ass, firm thighs, and
svelte waist saunter away, Mandy understands exactly why Emma wants to wait for
She recalls one of Sharay’s favorite
digs said each time she looked in the mirror when her children were within
earshot: When you have a smoking body, don’t ruin it by having kids Mandy
almost laughs out loud. Her sugar levels must be low if she’s quoting Sharay.
After taking a sip of the drink and two
huge bites of the bun, she nearly swoons in the chair. Emma is right—the
decadent treat is better than sex. Of course, she’d never been intimate with
another, so not a fair comparison.
Emma cleans while humming a tune Mandy
vaguely recognizes. It sounds like “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC, which she finds
hilarious. Not a typical song to hum, especially during the holidays.
She takes another bite and then chokes
upon realizing they never found a trace of Emma in their research into recently
deceased Aileen Reynolds and her only living heir—Kevin Reynolds.
How did they miss Kevin had a
girlfriend, especially one serious enough to pack up and follow him from
Louisiana to Arkansas? There was not one picture or mention of Emma on all his
social media. Her presence could have been a tremendous problem.
No, not possible. She and Parker poured
hours and hours into their research before selecting the next target. They knew
about animals, friends, job history, relatives, favorite colors, movies, books,
food, spouses, children, and every other crumb of information combined to
understand the entire life story of the deceased.
Worry slithers up her spine, meeting
the rivulets of perspiration sliding down. Something is wrong. Edginess teeters
near the precipice of fear. She needs to calm down, not flip out, and think.
She cocks her head slightly, turning
enough to see Emma, wondering exactly what is going on. The girl stands by the
freezer, seemingly oblivious to Mandy’s scrutinizing gaze. Why did Emma mention
the newspaper twice?
Dread coils inside her gut as she
reaches across the table. Maybe Emma is in disguise and possibly a family
member of someone she and Parker fleeced during the past seven years? Were they
the prey this time and not the predators? Did Emma, or a cohort in crime, harm
Parker while she shopped? Kidnap him? If she flips open the pages, will she
find a ransom note?
If I do, you’re dead where you stand,
bitch. Dead. Dead. Deadski.
Fingers trembling from a mixture of
worry and anger, she snatches up the paper. Her mouth gapes open, unable to
form a single word, tongue shocked into silence. In her hand is the Minot
Daily News dated December 30, 2015, with the headline, “Man and woman found
dead in a local hotel from carbon monoxide poisoning. Police seeking public’s
help in identifying them.”
She takes in a ragged breath, unable to
find any plausible explanation why the Minot, North Dakota paper with the
article about the death of Patrick and Sharay seven years prior sits in a coffee
shop in Crawfordsville, Arkansas.
Fuck this. I don’t want to know. Leave.
She throws on the coat, smashes on the
beanie, picks up the packages, food, and coffee. Her gut instincts are never
wrong and right now, they scream for her to flee, swing by the rent house,
pack, and then get the hell out of Arkansas.
After only a few steps toward the exit,
a wave of dizziness slams into her so hard she stumbles. Black dots cloud her
vision. The stench of White Shoulders fills her nostrils.
“Have a great night! Tell Parker we
said hello. We’ll all see ya soon!”
The voice sends shock waves throughout
her entire torso. It is all wrong—impossible. Glancing back, Mandy gasps,
because the woman waving from behind the counter isn’t Emma.
It’s Sharay, dressed in the same slutty
clothes she had on the night in the hotel, skin cherry-red from the poison
circulating inside the room, and ebony hair in tangled knots.
Just like the night we…oh, shit.
The room spins. Waves of heat ripple
across her body, turning her legs into jelly. The walls undulate, synchronized
in time as though intakes of breath. Fumbling twice to push the door open, she
bursts outside. Frigid wind slaps her in the face, helping her regain full
control of all mental faculties. A light mist pelts the already damp ground as
she runs. She makes it to the antique store before slowing down to look over
Panic wells inside her chest. She
slides to a stop. Her head buzzes with the rapid thumps of blood whooshing with
each racing heartbeat.
Brown construction paper covers the
storefront of Gerald’s Java with bright red letters painted across, reading: Excuse
our mess. Opening day is January 5 at 6:00 a.m.! First 100 customers get a free
Looking down at her hands, she bites
her lip to keep from screaming.
No cinnamon buns.
Only the packages from the earlier
shopping trip, which she promptly drops.
She shoves her hand into the pocket of
the coat, pulling out the twenty. Digging faster, she searches for the flyer
but comes up with nothing.
Blood continues whooshing inside her
brain as she gapes at the money. “This isn’t happening. There’s no fucking
Spinning around, intending to head back
to the car, her boots lose traction on the slick concrete. Her body slams into
the cold ground. The impact knocks the wind from her lungs and her head bounces
off the surface with such force, bright stars sparkle behind her eyes.
Dead trees bob and weave, limbs arcing
downward toward her, branches opening and closing as though eager to snatch her
up. The wind howls, and for a brief second, she hears, “We’ll all see you
Dazed and in pain, she pukes.
After retching, she closes her eyes
while taking several deep breaths, concentrating on nothing but the cold air
entering her lungs.
“Ma’am, are you okay? Shall I summon an ambulance?”
Clawing up through the murkiness
swirling inside her mind, Mandy opens her eyes. The aging countenance of a
concerned man with thick, white eyebrows and beard stares back, hovering only
inches away. He looks like a slimmer version of Santa Claus.
Damn, how hard did I hit my head? My
rescuer is a skinny Kris Kringle? Great. Hope I don’t have to ride in a sleigh.
She swallows hard, and blinks twice,
confused by the pain in her throat. “No, I’m fine but could use some help up.”
“Are you sure? Let me at least get you
some bandages and water from inside. I have some in the back.”
Scanning the area for her purse, she
finds it resting underneath the window display, inches away from her fingers.
She shakes her head while holding out an arm. “Positive. I just want to go
“Please, we’re closed, but since I’m
the owner, can open right back up.”
“Ah, so you aren’t Santa Claus. Mr.
He beams while tipping a black fedora.
“Yes, ma’am. I let my beard grow out during the holidays. I volunteer over at
the orphanage as jolly ol’ St. Nick. Kids love it.”
“How nice of you. All I need for
Christmas is to gather my belongings and head home.”
“Sure thing. Here, grab on.”
Once on her feet, she looks down the
sidewalk. Gerald’s Java is still closed. Instinct urges her to search for
cameras, so she looks up, dismayed to see one above the doorframe of the
antique store. She sways a fraction. Pushing past the dizziness, she re-situates
the purse as the scrawny Santa hands over the packages. “Thank you.”
“Welcome, ma’am. You’re bleeding, and
don’t seem too steady. Are you sure you don’t want to come inside?”
“I’m okay. My pride’s what hurts. Can’t
remember the last time I fell.” She nods towards the surveillance equipment.
“Please promise me you’ll delete the footage of me face planting before anyone
else sees it?”
need to fret, ma’am. The camera’s just for show, so it did not capture your
tumble, nor did any of the others.” Mr. Raney points across the street. “We
installed the fakes as cheap deterrents. We’re all small potatoes around these
parts, and none of us make enough profit to invest in such expensive items. So,
we banned together and bought ten fake ones online and split the cost. Best
twenty bucks I’ve ever spent.”
She lets out a long breath. The last
thing she needs is her image on camera, even if she is wearing a disguise.
“Good to know.”
“It’s all my fault you injured
yourself. I intended to put some salt out on the walk, but when the forecast
changed, I simply forgot. I’m sorry.”
“No need to apologize. Salt or not, I’m
a klutz. Appreciate your help. Have a good evening, Mr. Raney.”
“Same to you, ma’am. Be careful on the
roads. They’re wet, too.”
With slow, calculated steps, she makes
her way down the remaining three blocks to the car, wondering how long she was
out, and if anyone else saw her fall.
Once inside and engine idling, she turns on the overhead
light to assess the injury. It takes several seconds for her eyes to focus.
When they do, she does a double-take. She has in the brown contacts.
A thick rivulet of blood trickles down
her cheek, oozing from a thumb-sized gash near the eyebrow. Should she risk
going to an emergency walk-in clinic to see if the wound requires stitches? No,
the staff would ask too many questions. Parker can help her fix it, plus a real
scar might come in handy on jobs.
Dabbing at the blood, she notices her
forehead is on fire. Slouching back in the seat, she chuckles. “Okay, stop by
Walgreens on the way home and pick up some meds. Fever, dizziness, sore throat,
nausea, and chills. I’ve got the flu. A high temp makes some people
hallucinate. Seeing the White Shoulders bottle brought back terrible memories.
Obviously, my subconscious noticed Gerald’s Java when walking past it this
morning. I slipped, fell, and rang my bell. Imagined it all. Guess the holidays
reminded me of the night we killed Patrick and Sharay. That was not Mom’s
ghost back there. Ghosts are not real. I’m wearing the brown contacts. There
was no Emma, no Gerald’s Java, only a kind old dude who looked like Santa
Claus. Wait, was he real? Damn, I’ve got to take some medicine and soak in a
warm bath because my mind’s three shades of screwed up.”
She bites her lip hard enough to draw
blood. She can’t afford to be sick. Illness creates missteps.
The fever intensifies. Heat radiates
from her ears and cheeks. She must get home before passing out.
Pulling out of the parking lot onto
Grand Avenue, she turns on the radio, hoping some Christmas music will help
soothe her frazzled nerves. Instead of something merry and bright, “Highway to
Hell” by AC/DC blares through the speakers. Rather than change the channel, she
belts out the words along with Bon Scott.
While singing and driving, she hopes once the fever
breaks, she’ll forget everything about the evening—except for the terrifying
encounter at Gerald’s Java. She’ll relay all the sensory information to Parker
so they can use it for future reclamation jobs.