Tuesday, August 18, 2015

April Grey at Times Scare

I'll be reading my short story "I'll Love You Forever, But..." from my collection of that name at the HWA NYC chapter.

Night Terrors at Times Scare Kill Bar, Thursday, August 20, 7 p.m., http://timesscarenyc.com/
The roster for this night of readings is now full!

  • Daniel Braum and James Chambers will be hosting and asking trivia questions.
  • Reading in the first set will be Marc Abbott, Amy Grech, Teel James Glenn, Alp Beck, and Robert Masterson.
  • Reading in the second set will be April Grey, Oliver Baer, Trevor Firetog, Kathleen Scheiner, and Steven Van Patten. 
  • Marc Abbot will be showing two of his short films.
The very generous folks at the Kill Bar, a cabaret style bar attached to the Times Scare haunted house attraction, have agreed to let us host this event.

Hope you can join me there!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

2015 Stoker Awards and World Horror Con

I had a terrific time at the Stokers and at the WHC. The panels were excellent, in fact, too good because then you'd have to choose between two or three panels happening all at once.  And then there was exhaustion and just needing to take a break.

Of course, the Atlanta Marriott where we were staying was a bit weird.

Sort of like being inside a leviathan. You can see its spine and ribs. The elevator made me queasy as it rushed up and down the spine.

And what better break than an absolutely wonderful indoor-outdoor pool?

I also had a great time at the Dead Dog Party, and let's not forget the Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading. I read my short story, I'll Love You Forever, But... while the other Broads read from novels.

I was missing my DH and DS the whole time, but I wasn't missing the housework I came home to.

Well, it's off to the Steampunk World's Faire in a couple of days.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Chasing The Trickster Reboot

Murphy's law. My laptop dies just as I release the Amazon version of Trickster. typing this on a 5 year old iPad--doesn't  time fly? Oh well, happy about getting it done.

Chasing the Trickster

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Welcome to 2015!

Oh wow, where did 2014 go?  It's like I just woke up and here we are in 2015.

Last I remember it was September. My son was doing college applications all summer for admission to college this spring. (He got in at City College-Hooray!)

October went by in a storm of activity with me at the HWA table at NY Comic Con, and then heading off to the Stanley Writers Retreat in Colorado. On the last day of October I formatted the e-book version of Perdita (my latest urban fantasy novel)...

Then I fell off a cliff. The virus I had fought all October got the upper hand and in November it was bed rest and oblivion. I managed to survive Thanksgiving, but that's about all I did that month. The rights for Chasing the Trickster came back to me but I did little to prepare for it's re-release.

DS was getting ready for college in December while I prepped for Christmas.

And now it's over. I survived the holidays and am finally coming out of my long stupor.
I need to get all my little duckies in or row (more like herding cats).  

There's Chasing the Trickster to be re-released in e-book and print. It's sequel, St. Nick's Favor, needs to be released in print. Perdita and it's sequel, Return to Perdita also need to be proofread and sent out into the world.

Then I can get back to writing. I have endings that need to be written for two very patient novellas, and there is a WIP novel, for which I received editorial notes last year, that needs to be re-written.

So, welcome 2015, my plate is loaded.

How is your year shaping up?

 PS. Thinking of the above for the new cover to Chasing the Trickster. Feedback welcome!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Stanley Hotel Writers Retreat

Yesterday I arrived in Colorado and spent the night in Estes Park at the Silver Moon Inn.

Today I'm at The Stanley Hotel, sharing a room with two other horror writers. Time to get down to writing. I've set a 1,800 word daily goal.

I'm going to try and meet my goals but with such amazing views it's difficult to believe that I'll be able to tune out my surroundings and get down to work. Crossing fingers.

I guess the place that inspired Stephen King to write The Shining should be able to inspire me, then again, isn't inspiration overrated. Writing is a matter of doing, sittting down and writing, then inspiration comes.

This morning I woke up at the Silver Moon and there was a weird sound coming from outside. It was like the whistle of a whale song. I looked through the window. Elk, a whole herd of them. Milling about across the stream from the inn. Some called to each other, most were grazing on shrubs and bushes. It was the most amazing and magical sight.

I took some pictures.
Unfortunately the sun was at a weird angle so they are partial in shadow. I'll have to work on them later.

It was magical but hasn't brought any ideas to mind for dark fiction.

Then again, the clerk at the inn and I were chatting about the flood that happened in Estes Park last year.

Estes Park gets major flooding every decade or so. This most recent flood had uncovered objects that were covered up by mud in past floods. A few cars circa 1980's showed up. The people in charged warned the search crews to be respectful of any vehicles revealed because there could be dead bodies in them.

Wow. How's that for dark inspiration?

For over twenty years I've visited a town in the Catskills called Fleischmann's. A couple of years back they had their own flood. Part of a motel floated down the stream by the raging water and wound up in the backyard of the B&B we always stay at.  An elderly woman who was a holocaust survivor drowned.

But that's the makings of another story...

Tonight there will be readings by members of the Writers Retreat of their own works at the Estes Park Library. I'll be with them.

Do you know of any dark tales involving a mountain flood? Share it here.

Also, just a few more days for my October specials--see below.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Because I love October

For the month of October you can get free copies below of my two short story collections and the anthology which I edited.

 Click here and use Coupon Code EN73R

What is Love?

In the eye of the beholder or something more?

In these four dark tales, zombies, ghosts, ancient spells and modern crooks show us that love conquers all--even death and despair.

 Click here and use Coupon Code EB62E 

Sexbots threaten to destroy a marriage.

A half-alien embryo remains the only hope for the human race.

Tempting Cupcakes that aren't just bad for your waistline, but may result in permanent injury.

Welcome to the realm of April Grey.

 Click here and use Coupon Code EN73R

Six talented writers explore the various paths Evil can take when in Hell's Garden.

Featuring tales by Rayne Hall, Heather Holland Wheaton, Jonathon Broughton, Mark Cassell, Eric Dimbleby and Jeff Hargett.

Edited by April Grey.

Also, in the last post you will find the first chapter of my dark fantasy, Perdita. If you want more, e-mail me to join my mailing list and I'll send you a Smashword's coupon when it comes out later this month.

Perdita- First Chapter

"Fairytales can come true, and they can happen to you. And if they do, run!"

"…and Shem the Angry Unicorn kicked the Demon in the shins. Shem spat out, ‘I'm not afraid of you. I'm not afraid of anything in the land of Fae.’ He nodded his head, his razor-sharp horn slicing through the air. ‘I'll run you through as soon as look at ya!’"
Cindy's eyes opened wide. "What happened next, Daddy?"
"Well, what do you think happened? That stinkin' Demon turned his pointed little tail and ran for his pathetic little life, of course." Billy White planted a kiss on his daughter's head and stood up. "That's enough for one night, my little Princess."
Daddy's word was law, just like the king in his stories of Fae. "Aw...." Cindy stuck out her lower lip. She blew out her breath in a huff of resignation as her daddy turned out the light.
"I love you, Daddy."
"I love you, too." He pulled the door closed behind him.
Cindy slept soundly and dreamed of heroic unicorns and cowardly demons.
Saturday, November 14th. Twenty Years Later.
"What do you mean, ‘what hair?’ Are you blind?" Cindy White held up the offending strand, dangling it--long, golden and shining--between her finger and thumb. "What is this doing in your pubic hair?"
Josh Connery's face turned an unpleasant shade of red. “You're daft.  There's nothing there. Furthermore I'm as constant as the sun, and as faithful as a dog—"
"A dog, all right. A lying, dirty cur, a son of a bitch." Cindy hopped out of bed and slipped on her black thong underwear.
Josh pulled the sheet up over his lap. "I'm losing my temper. What has gotten into you?" He shook his head, voice bewildered. "I'm telling you the truth. What's going on?"
"Liar." Cindy pulled on her jeans. Searching through the clothing on the floor she located her bra and tee-shirt. Her face was aflame and welling tears pinched her voice. "You can't wiggle out of this by lying. Who was she?" She stopped and put up a hand. "Wait... I don't want to know."
Josh's voice took on a sullen tone as he spoke through gritted teeth. "For the last time—"
"Liar, liar, liar." Cindy slid her feet into her sneakers.
"What are you doing?"
"I'm leaving." She picked up her blue, flowered hoodie and tossed it on. She grabbed her tablet and cell phone off the nightstand.
"What? No, you're not. You're not going anywhere." Naked, he leapt out of bed and grabbed her wrist.
"Let go."
"Not until you calm down and stop this nonsense. You're killing me with these accusations. I'd never—"
Cindy yanked her arm and twisted out of his grip just as he released her. She went flying against the dresser and landed in a heap. As she rubbed her head her mouth formed an 'o.' "You did that on purpose."
"Did not."
"Now I'm definitely leaving."
Snorting like a bull, Josh found his jeans and pulled them on. "Oh, no. You're not leaving me. I'll toss you out first."
Cindy's eyes rolled to heaven. "You and what army?"
"Army is it?" Josh ran out of the bedroom.
Cindy stared, frozen, at his departing figure. She felt hypnotized as he returned, his arms loaded with paper shopping bags from under the sink. He dumped them on the floor, opened one and loaded it with the contents of her underwear drawer. 
Finding her voice, she said, "This was a long time coming. So how many actresses did you boink?"
His only response was a muted roar, yanking open the closet and grabbing clothes from her side.
"I must have been blind."
"Damn you, get out before I go as crazy as you." He filled another two bags and slipped his feet into his flip-flops.
Cindy, trembling with rage, got up to follow him as he raced through the apartment. "This is yours, this, this, this...." He filled the last bag with her cds and a couple of blue-rays.
Cindy had the presence of mind to hook her bag over her shoulder as Josh dashed out the apartment door with her stuff.  Not waiting for the elevator, Josh ran down the stairwell leading to the lobby. Cindy stood, torn between following him down the seven flights or waiting for the elevator. Her mind floated on a blood-drenched tide crashing against her sanity. A part of her watched in horror from a distance as her tidy life crumbled around her. Another part wanted to stomp, Godzilla-like, on the stupid thing that had been their love. A long time coming? What was she talking about? This tempest had blown out of nowhere.
As the elevator chimed, she stalked on and punched the ground floor.
Josh, his face a boiling red mask, got on as the elevator door opened at the ground floor and she exited. "Good riddance," he said, jabbing the Up button without giving her a look.
Cindy surveyed the lobby. Where was Mike the doorman? Where were her clothes? Her eyes travelled out the plate glass door to see her bags by the curb...in the rain. She ran out. Still no Mike. A peal of thunder neatly reflected the emotional turmoil of the past quarter hour.
Never mind. She rather die than retrieve her bags and go back inside to her, no his, apartment. I don't need anyone. She'd rather be wet and homeless. She lifted her chin and stepped out the front door, nearly screaming as the first cold droplets hit her ankles.
Homeless? Not quite. There was one place she could go. Without a glance back, she swept up her bags and looked for a cab.

Chapter One - The Man Across The Hall
Rain plastered Cindy's hair to her face as she stood on the brownstone stoop ringing the intercom.
Why today? She lifted one cold-numbed hand to brush the bangs from her eyes.
Ever try to hail a cab on a rainy morning in Manhattan? Fuhgeddaboutit! After a fruitless fifteen minutes she'd chosen to walk
The clothes on her would eventually dry and be fine. As for herself? 
She sneezed. Okay, maybe she wouldn't be okay. She'd catch her death if her friend Sadie didn't answer that intercom soon. She stamped her feet and shivered. She pulled out her cell phone to call her. It slipped between her fingers and went bouncing down the steps to land in a puddle.  She put down the paper bags, which were rapidly turning into paper mache, to zip down the steps. She retrieved the cell with its now cracked face. She pressed the front. Black, non-functional...Like her life.
She buzzed the apartment again to no response. She double-checked the address, and though the ink was running, she was quite sure she was at the right place.
While still standing there, feeling foolish, the door opened and a man in his mid-thirties came through. She put her foot in the door before it could close. The man did a double take.
I probably look like a drowned rat.
"For whom are you waiting?" he asked.
His speech had a weird lilt and was overly polite for one of the few run down tenements remaining in Chelsea. That's gentrification for you. Thank goodness he didn't tell her to get a move on.
"I’m looking for Sadie Angello." Her teeth chattered.
"You’re out of luck. She left." He started down the steps.
Yesterday was Friday the 13th--that should have been the unlucky day.
However, it was last night that she'd heard about the sublet. And here she was soaked to the skin and her clothing scrunched into paper bags by Josh. She and her stuff, put out on the curb ready for the trash collector.
What the hell? "What do you mean? I talked to her just yesterday."
"She left last night." He opened his umbrella.
"Oh fine." Letting go of the door, she sat down on the stoop. Soaked anyway, what did it matter?
He cleared his throat and looked around. "You aren’t going to just sit there?"
"Look mister, not that it’s any business of yours where I place my butt, I was supposed to be subletting a room from her and now I have nowhere to go."
He smiled, a lovely smile, sort of shy and self-effacing. "You’d better come inside with me. You’ll catch your death of cold out here." He walked back up and held the umbrella over her.
With some relief, she picked up her bags. Intimate pieces of apparel escaped as one of the bags gave up its battle for cohesion. Blushing, the man scooped up the lingerie that had landed on his legs and shoes. Cindy gave a shrug as she held on tighter to her shoulder bag and the remaining intact shopping bags.
He got out his key and opened the door. The building was dark with only a single bulb burning over the stairs, but it smelled clean. In fact, it smelled like earth and grass instead of the usual piney or floral disinfectant used by supers in tenements. Its narrow stairwell curled around itself and had fanciful wrought iron railings. The marble on the floors was well worn and pitted.
"Be careful, it's slippery when wet—" His warning disappeared in the sound of Cindy sliding and the final shopping bags tearing open.
Her rescuer was talented—he didn’t drop one item of apparel as they headed up the stairs. Cindy on the other hand was covered in wet jeans, tops and bras, looking like colorful seaweed. As soon as he opened his door, Cindy gratefully dumped her clothes all over his kitchen floor and sat down on a wood chair. She shivered and felt a profound gratitude to be out of the rain. Simple white curtains on the windows, white painted wooden countertops and old style cupboards lining the walls gave the place a farmhouse appeal. Cindy's sneeze turned into tears which she tried to hide by picking up the clothes she'd dropped.
"You could use a cup of tea." The man went to fill a copper kettle and set it on a small antique stove.
"I’m sorry. I’ve just really had a bad day."
"Well that rain hasn't been pleasant, Miss?" His brows knitted. "Could you tell me your name?"
"Oh, I feel like an idiot," she said still picking up stray articles of clothing. "Sorry, it's Cynthia White." Another chill ran through her. "Damn..." He lifted her up onto the chair. He brought her a quilt from the next room which he draped around her shoulders. "Thanks. And your name?"
He got some tea bags from a canister the counter. He put one bag in each mug and with a deft hand placed spoons and white cloth napkins on the small kitchen butcher block table. "My name’s Leo Rosen." The tea kettle sang and he poured the boiling water. "Here you go," he passed her a steaming mug of tea.
Cindy hated herbal teas, but it was hot and that made it acceptable. "Nice meeting you." She extended a hand and he shook it. Strong handshake.
"Cynthia, would you like to talk? Tell me how you came here?"
"No." She drew a long quaking breath. "I just need to figure out what to do...now...." She took another long shivering breath.
His arched brows knitted again. "You can’t go back to where you came from?" He turned a chair around and sat down on it, resting his chin on the chair back.
Remembering the fight she'd just had with her live-in boyfriend, she said. "I’d rather not. No, that's not an option."
One eyebrow arched. "Say, I just thought of something. I’ll be right back."
Trusting fellow, he’s leaving a total stranger alone in his apartment. But he was back in seconds, carrying a small white envelope.
"I hadn't spotted it taped to the door, Miss White."
"Oh please, you’ve seen my undies, call me Cindy." Still shivering, but now able to feel her feet, Cindy felt that life was beginning to look up. She opened the envelope and keys dropped out along with a folded note.
"She's sorry she had to leave right away, but the "Weird Sisters" will take care of me. Weird Sisters?" She didn't want to be taken care of, especially not by the weird.
 "The Rutkowsky sisters, everyone calls them the Weird Sisters. They are the closest we have here to a concierge."
"Concierge, how continental!" Cindy sipped the tea. It tasted fruity and spicy. Not bad after all.
"Well, why don’t I show you your new apartment?"
He opened his door and stepped across the hall.
Taken aback, Cindy said, "You’re my neighbor?"
"Yes. Well, if you need anything don’t hesitate to knock. However, I must ask if you hear anything strange coming from my apartment, please don’t come over."
Say no more. New York City. It takes all kinds. Probably into noisy sex or something--though he looked the type to live with his mother. At this point, Cindy'd be happy to live next to a Sumo wrestling dwarf.
She used her new keys to open the door to her new apartment and her new life. Would a bottle of champagne to celebrate the inauguration into a life sans handsome, cheating ex-boyfriend be in order? She flinched as the thought struck a knife through her.  No, she'd just wind up with a hangover and more regrets than she already had. She didn't want to think about him, about the fight. Not yet.
Leo helped bring over her clothing.
The apartment was a pleasant surprise. Two bedrooms and a living room. Of course it was minuscule, none of the rooms larger than eight by ten. The front door opened into the kitchen and on one side was a living room and on the other side a bedroom, which directly opened up into another bedroom, leaving not much privacy. It was a typical tenement shotgun layout, rare now with most buildings renovated through gut rehab. But a sublet, and maybe share, priced at $700 per month, was laughably affordable. All alone, at least until Sadie returned. Sadie's letter hadn't said where she’d gone to or when she’d be back, but maybe she wouldn’t be averse to having a roommate when she did return? Or at least Cindy would have a chance to save up for her own place in her absence.
With Leo's help, Cindy spread the clothes out on the living room couch to dry. The kitchen was bold in cerise and yellow with matching print drapes. She turned around and bumped into Mr. Rosen. "Is everything satisfactory?" he asked.
"Yes, thank you! I really would be up the creek if you hadn’t come along!"
She hadn't paid him much attention before, too busy shivering. Leo had light blue, almost grey, eyes and thick, dark brown hair. He wore blue jeans and a plaid flannel shirt under his raincoat. Though dressed casually, he acted like he was wearing a tux. He was a few inches taller than Cindy. She admired his delicate heart-shaped face and his wiry frame. Was he gay? It would be nice to have a friend without being hit on.
"I guess I’ll be seeing you." He nodded, stepping into the hallway.
"Yes. Be seeing you." Cindy spied the bathroom through an ajar door in the corner of the kitchen. A hot shower would be perfect.
He locked his door and headed out to wherever he had been heading when she came along.
Alone. Time to figure out her life anew. It had been going nowhere for so long. She could do this, think about the future and not give into tears.
She stripped out of her wet clothes and ran a bath. In the note Sadie said to use up whatever was in the apartment. So be it. One of the old style cabinets revealed a collection of booze and there was soda in the fridge. With a medicinal rum and coke in hand, Cindy eased into the steaming tub.
A furious thumping on the front door roused her from her peace. Knocking? More like the men in blue had decided on an unannounced raid.  "Hold your horses." Cindy, wrapped in a towel, headed to the kitchen to find out who was making such a noise.
"Sadie, hurry up I got news," came a bass voice from the other side of the door.
"She's not here. What do you want?"
Silence for a long minute.
"Who in blazing hell are you?"
Well, with that attitude Mr. Voice could stay where he was in the hallway.
"I’m the sub-lessee. Now go away. You can ask the Weird Sisters what’s going on."
"You let me in this moment. You’re in danger and you’ve got to get out."
"Nice try, Buster. I’m not buying it." She heard footsteps leaving.
It was getting dark out, but the kitchen clock said it was only 4:10 in the afternoon. After getting dressed in a semi-dry tee and shorts, Cindy searched through Sadie's store of snack foods. The nacho flavored Doritos looked good.
Bag in hand, she froze when she heard a key in the lock. Too late, she ran to put the chain on the door. He was in. And oh my, he was a big one! He looked like an escapee from World Wrestling. She grabbed a frying pan and held it over her head with the bag of Doritos clutched to her breast.
"What are you planning to do? Poison me?" He nodded at the Doritos. He was taller than Josh's six feet one. And he had about 20 pounds on Josh, all in muscle. His black tee displayed rippled biceps. His reddish gold hair with a mustache and sideburns made him look like a cross between a Confederate Rebel and a 70’s musician. She held the frying pan higher. He slid past her. "I don’t know what you are planning to do with that, but I like my eggs over easy." A comedian.
"Get out!" Cindy waved the pan.
"We need to talk. I don’t know what Sadie told you, but this place isn’t safe and she shouldn’t have involved you."
Cindy stayed near the open door still holding her weapon.
"Go ahead, talk." Cindy put down the bag of Doritos on the kitchen counter only to have them snatched up by the stranger. He ripped them open, winked and ate. Taking the bag with him into the living room he sat, practically taking up the entire couch.
"How much did Sadie tell you?" He said through with a mouthful of artificially orange colored crunchy corn triangles.
 "Thor, she doesn’t know anything." Cindy whipped around to see her neighbor, Leo, standing in the hallway.
"Tor? Like a granite outcropping?" Cindy asked.
"No, Thor like the god!" The intruder smirked.
"Mr. Rosen, could you please explain to Thor," she over-pronounced the ‘th’, like in the cartoons on television as to avoid any confusion with a pile of rocks, "that I am here quite legitimately."
"Please call me Leo. Actually, I was going to bring that up at our tenant’s meeting tomorrow morning."
Thor's mouth drooped open. "Tenant’s meeting?"
Leo flashed him a hand signal. "Yes. Our usual Sunday morning tenant's meeting. All subletting must be approved by the Tenant’s Council."
Thor still had a blank look on his face.
Cindy knew a ruse to get rid of a poor homeless girl when she saw one. "Leo, can we put aside the charade? Thor isn’t getting it."
"It’s pronounced ‘Tor’ not ‘Thor’. Thor Solveig. It’s Norwegian. My family is from Norway." Thor's eyes flashed.
"We do have a weekly meeting, which Mr. Solveig almost always misses." Leo gave Thor a stern look. "The legitimacy of your tenancy will be discussed tomorrow morning. It may be that Sadie won’t be returning anytime soon."
"The girl doesn’t belong here." Thor said, emphasizing it with another Dorito.
Leo cleared his throat. "Miss White may have every reason to be here and it behooves us to investigate further." Leo put a strong emphasis on Cindy's last name. "She had informed me that she has nowhere to go and so it is an act of charity to allow her to stay."
Thor shot her a look. Tossing the Doritos bag on the kitchen counter, where they spilled all over, he said,"See you later, Leo."
"Sure thing. Later," said Leo, something meaningful but unsaid in his tone.
Thor clunked downstairs. A door opened and slammed shut.
Leo looked around as if trying to come up with a good subject. His eyes drifted to the snack food and he beamed. "It’s still raining. Would you like to share supper with me rather than go out for food?"
Rescued twice in just one day. Leo was turning out to be quite the knight in shining armor. How many times had Josh ever done that for her? She warmed to the idea. "Fine. What time should I come over?"
"Seven-ish? It’s nothing fancy just pasta primavera and a bottle of red."
"Sadie has some Rocky Road in the freezer."
"I love ice cream. Until later then."
Cindy closed the door and did a happy dance. Maybe he was straight. Okay, rebound, it was a rebound reaction to not wanting to face being alone.
Just decompressing. The day had started out rotten, gotten better, and--what was that about a tenants' meeting? They didn't mean to throw her out?
It was Sadie's apartment. They couldn't do that. Sadie, her best friend since college, had never invited her over to her place. In view of the weirdness with Thor, no surprise.
Cindy emptied the cooling water in the tub, and washed her hair in the shower. She wore her hair short, framing her pixyish face. Drying her hair was a snap. Showing off one's face was important for an actress, even one who never got jobs. She used just a touch of mascara. Her nearly dry green dress would bring out the green in what was usually a muddy mix of hazel eye color.
She tried her cell phone again. The glass was cracked and it wouldn't respond. She'd have to take it to the store tomorrow.
Maybe Leo would help her move things from the apartment she'd shared with Josh? There wasn’t a lot. She had her tablet with her. And her wallet with other important stuff she habitually kept in her shoulder bag.  What was left to retrieve was a box or two of books and her laptop. She ignored another pang and threatened bout of tears. It was all unreal anyway, it would take time to sink in, and then she could mourn her lost relationship. She clung onto the anger that would keep her strong.
She booted her tablet to send Sadie an e-mail. No Wi-fi. She'd have to find where in the neighborhood she could pick up a signal. She missed Sadie's shoulder to cry on. It would have been good to talk it all out with her. Over the years they had drifted a bit, mostly because she didn’t like Josh. Boy, she won’t she be happy that Cindy took her up on her offer? She drafted an e-mail to Sadie saying she was at her place and to get back to her.
At a few minutes to seven, she took one last look at herself in the bedroom mirror, grabbed her keys and headed out the door.
After Leo proved beyond a doubt he was a great cook, they sat on his couch eating ice cream. She told him about her family, how her father died last year and her mother moved to Arizona shortly afterwards. He said he was all alone as well.
A sharp rap on the door led Leo to excuse himself before he went into the hallway. Leo had left his front door ajar. Almost everyone in the building did, it was more like a dormitory than a tenement he’d explained over dinner. She couldn’t hear Leo’s voice, which was, as usual, soft and gentle. Thor, on the other hand was quite audible.
"She looks human to me," Thor said.
Well, thanks. Clean living, good food and exercise, regular chiropractic and dental care and anyone can look good.
Leo mumbled quite a lot that she couldn’t hear and then Thor said, "Well, I suppose we’ll find out at the meeting." His footsteps shook the floor as he walked away.
Leo came in looking like he'd been punched in the gut. Thor had done something to ruin the mood.
"So what did the Thunder God want?" she asked.
"Just some building business. You will be coming tomorrow? It'll give you a chance to meet all the others."
"I wouldn’t miss it for the world." No one had the right to send her back into the cold.
"That’s good." Leo yawned. "Well, it’s been a terrific evening."
"Okay, what did the dufus really say to you?"
"We were having a great time, he comes in and now you look like you’re at a funeral. So what did he say to you?"
"He's not a dufus...he's an artist. You don’t know Thor. He’s really quite bright, you just saw him on an off-day, temperamental, all artists get like that." Leo continued under her silent glare. "He had just woken up after taking the night shift, and was rather upset to find that Sadie was gone."
"And so he took it out on me?"
"Yes...no. He was...he can be very pleasant when he chooses. He’s an artist, right I just mentioned that. You really should see some of his works. Splendid work, he really is very talented." Leo obviously wanted to paint his friend in the best possible light.
She blinked.  "So are you two are an item?"
Leo laughed. It was a good laugh, a tension-relieving laugh. He stretched out a hand and patted her knee. "I like you, Cindy. And no, he’s just a neighbor. And I'm straight." He took his hand away.
She scooped the last couple of tablespoons of ice cream from the bowl. "Thanks for the scrumptious meal. I really appreciate it. You do a wonderful job of being a one-man welcome wagon."
"Have I said something wrong?"
"No, no, I just didn’t want to overdo it tonight. It was such a crazy day."
He walked her to her door, just across the hall. He came close enough for her to smell his cologne, something musky and woodsy. Her body tightened. She felt like a complete fool when he pecked her on the cheek because she didn't know what she wanted or was expecting. She wasn't the type to just fuck some guy she'd met. But wouldn't it have been nice...to not think about Josh or feel his loss? No, that wasn't a reason to throw herself at the new neighbor no matter how kind or good a cook.
Just twenty-four hours ago she had talked to Sadie on the phone and been offered this apartment if she should need to get away from it all. She had gone to bed with her lover of over five years. Now she was sleeping alone. Damn you, Josh. Damn your lying, cheating hide.
She cried herself to sleep.
Josh tried the cell phone number again. Where was she? Cindy had gone nuts this morning. She accused him of infidelity, what the hell?
But then what had happened? He shook his head, trying to clear it from the buzzing gnats inside. He'd gone mad as well. Throwing her out, was that possible? They had had fights in their years together, but never like this.
His phone rang. With a leaping heart he answered, "Cindy. Oh my God, where are you? I'm so sorry."
"Josh, it's Jennifer. Look honey, you got the audition. Now get your butt on the next flight out to LA. I've got a good feeling about this one."
"Right. Next flight out is a bit dicey, personal stuff. How about a later one?"
Her voice revealed the steel hidden in the velvet, "Do you want this or not? The competition is hot for this role. Tell me now if you're not committed."
"I'll be there." He clicked off the phone and got his overnight bag. He'd contact Cindy later while in the cab.
Sadie turned to White. "It worked. He went for it."
"I'm glad." White's eyes lacked the triumph of his voice. "And so it starts."
"Yes. My visions are rarely wrong. I wouldn't do this if I didn't believe it was right."

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