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Category Archives: Round Robin

From Zumaya Thresholds – Lights, Camera, Ali!

Lights, Camera, Ali!
by Christine Marciniak

If it isn’t one thing, it’s another.

Ali Caldwell figures her fifteen minutes of fame have expired, and she is ready to ditch the TV cameras. That’s hard to do when she has to spend Thanksgiving with her mother in Malibu, where they’ll be filming the Christmas special for their reality show.

Then her little brother disappears while she’s in charge of him, and and everyone in the world is watching and blaming her, including her mother. Ali is determined to find him and make everything right, but life is ever that simple.

Purchase the trade paperback from Amazon as well as in ebook for Kindle and NOOK.

ISBN:    9781612712147

Also available in ePub, Mobi, and pdf at the ZP eBook Store.

Sample Chapters

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2013 in Round Robin

 

Round Robin Episode 11

I knew the old lady was bluffing. She wouldn’t get her answers if she shot Jackie, and I was pretty sure she knew I was a bystander in this crazy game. I couldn’t muster much interest for the goings-on anyway, even with a gun pointed at me and the mention of a multi-million deal.

All I could think about was Riane—who had morphed from human to alien in the blink of an eye—and the message she’d given me before she’d dissolved into a puddle of slime, most of which I was still wearing.

—Kill my son.

Not an every day request, although the last whispered words had sounded more desperate than any I’d ever heard. Even if I were to agree with her appeal, I had no idea how I’d go about it. I knew her first name, and that was it.

From the way she’d dissolved, I knew she wasn’t from Earth but I was still a newbie when it came to identifying alien species. Yeah, I’d met more than most of the residents of the third planet from the sun, but it was amazing how full the universe was, let alone our own galaxy.

“Are you listening, Jack?”

“Huh? Sorry.” I look at Jackie, who was trying to send me a message with her eyes. “You’re on your own for that one, sweetie. I got problems of my own.”

I heard twin gasps, from Jackie and from the old broad wielding the gun. Both had their gazes fixed on the center of my body, which was beginning to become heavier. I looked down and gaped too.

Slowly, the goo that had coated me when Riane had melted was reconstituting itself into a head, a torso, arms and legs. In the space of a few seconds, she stood beside me.

“God, I hate when that happens. Now, where were we?” She brushed her hair away from her face. “Ah, yes. There’s this matter of disposing of my offspring.”

M. D. Benoit is the author of the Jack Meter Case Files series and of the SF Thriller Synergy.

Look for her upcoming SF Thriller, Catalyst, this August.

Follow her on Twitter: @mdbenoit2

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2010 in Round Robin, Zumaya Publications

 

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Round Robin, Episode 10

Well he will be when I get my hands around his throat, Jackie thought. Then the lights in her head snapped on, and she whispered, “Robbing Peter to pay Paul?” This old bag knows a lot more than she is letting on.

“Listen,” Jack said, “I’d love to stay and chat over a cup of tea with you all, but I’ve got places to be.” He began to walk towards the next roof over, hoping  he could somehow make an escape without being noticed by the police downstairs.

“You’re not going anywhere until I find out what the hell you were doing here tonight,” Jackie said is a most unlady-like bark.

He kept walking.

She tried to bluff, “Take another step and I’ll blow your brains out.”

Jack lifted the middle finger of his right hand as he kept walking towards the next building.

Good God, Jackie thought, a man with balls as big as mine. How long had she waited for someone like him. How long had she put up with that whimpering ex, praying he would somehow grow a pair. And true to form, when he finally did, he went completely overboard. But this man, Jack, was something else, someone who was a match for her. She wasn’t about to let go of that. She took three quick paces and fell into step behind him.

“You’re not shaking me until I know everything,” Jackie said.

Harriet pulled a Glock from her handbag, snapped the safety off. “Hold it right there, both of you.” When they both ignored her, she fired a round into the roof, just two feet in front of Jack.

Jack jerked back and turned. Jackie could only follow his lead.

Harriet said, “Now that I have your attention, there are a few things I need to know in order to ensure that the money Jackie’s mother raised is handed over to the women’s shelter. You might not think twenty-three-million dollars is worth fighting for, but I can assure you I do.  And let me also say, unlike Jackie, I don’t bluff. If I don’t get what I came for, they will carry all of you off this roof on gurneys.

Twenty-three million? Christ, Jackie thought, can this night get any more bizarre?

Go on to Episode 11

Alan Chin writes gay fiction. Visit him at http://alanchin.net

or http://alanchinwriter.blogspot.com and http://twitter.com/alanhchin

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2010 in Round Robin, Zumaya Publications

 

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Round Robin Episode 9

Harriet’s Aunt Beth stood over the prone figure at the top of the stairs. You need to watch where you’re going, mister. You ran right into a broken vent pipe. Looks like you’ve got a nasty bump on your head, but I think you’ll live.”

“Who’s there?” Jackie called across the roof.

“My aunt and I,” said a voice that was much closer than Jackie expected. A flashlight flicked on and flashed her face. Jackie held her hand up to shield her eyes.

“How did you get up here?” Jackie asked. “You were supposed to be talking to the police.”

“Well, while you and this guy,” Harriet pointed at Jack, “were doing gymnastics on the fire escape and that clown,” she pointed to the man by the stairs, “was climbing ten flights of stairs and performing a do it yourself lobotomy, we took the elevator.”

“Why are you following us?” Jack asked. “This isn’t your business.”

“If you two are trying to steal the money Jackie’s mother raised for the women’s shelter, we’re making it our business; even if you are stealing it to fund the animal shelter.” Aunt Beth said.

“What on earth gave you that idea?” Jackie asked. This night was getting weirder by the minute.

“We talked to the guy across the street,” Harriet said. “You know– the big guy in the black coat– the one you left for dead. Turns out he wasn’t quite as dead as you thought.”

Go on to Episode 10

Arlene Sachitano – Author of the Harriet Truman/Loose Threads Mysteries and The Harley Spring Mysteries

http://www.arlenesachitanosblog.blogspot.com

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2010 in Round Robin

 

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Round Robin Episode 8

…kiss him?  kill him?  I didn’t know what she’d do.

I knew I shouldn’t get involved.  It wasn’t like this was even close to my jurisdiction–southwest Louisiana may as well have been on a different planet.  Still, I couldn’t just wander off knowing I might have prevented another person’s death.

Besides, she wasn’t bad looking.  And she climbed the fire escape without hesitation.  Not many women I knew could do that.  She wasn’t the woman I’d traveled so far to locate, but I felt compelled to find out more about her.  I’d waited ten years to follow Grace; I could wait a few more minutes.

When I was fairly sure I knew where these two were headed, I crossed the street and slipped into the massive building.  A stairway waited behind the first door I tried.

Flashing lights from the street below gave the night an unreal quality as I stepped out onto the roof, reminding me of the swamp gas that sometimes rose from the marsh in ghostly glows on winter nights.  Gravel crunched beneath my boots and I froze.

It took a moment to find the voices in the dark, and even longer to ease silently toward them.  Judging from their exchange, I was now fairly sure they weren’t working together.

“Look,” the woman said, “there’s a lot more at stake here than you know.”

“Oh?”  The man huffed a quick laugh.  “And I thought the stakes were already high enough.  What is it you’re not telling me?”

I suddenly felt a presence –a large, menacing presence.  I hadn’t heard anyone approach, but I knew someone stood right behind me.  And I had a strong suspicion that person wasn’t going to be friendly.

Damn, I knew I shouldn’t have left my thirty-eight in the hotel room.

As I turned, something smashed into the side of my head and I went down hard.

“What was that?”  The woman sounded farther away than she should have, but at least I was still conscious.

Trying to ignore the searing pain, I turned my head to look up at my attacker and found…

Go on to Episode 9

S. H. Baker writes the Dassas Cormier Mystery Series.  Visit her at www.SHBaker.com.

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2010 in Round Robin, Zumaya Publications

 

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Round Robin Episode 7

Help? Jackie needed a high profile lawyer and a giant shoe horn to get out of this. Or… She caught sight of Jack climbing the fire escape. Or one PI who could cough up some answers, like how he knew Matt and what he knew about her mother’s secret account. “Thank you ladies for your help, but I think you need to turn that quilt square over to the cops. Evidence, you know.”

“This isn’t our first murder, dear.” The two women looked at each other before easing toward the bar’s open back door. “Are you going to join us?”

Not in this lifetime. Inside, Jackie heard the police barging into the scene upsetting the already traumatized patrons. Red and blue strobelights sliced through the dark alley, tainting their faces in garish hues.

The woman on the left raised an eyebrow.

Jackie resisted the urge to cringe while slipping on her heels. Why is it that women of a certain age always managed to make her feel guilty with that look? “I just need to collect myself.”

Ignoring the body of her ex, Jackie tiptoed around the blood oozing along the debris strewn asphalt. She felt more than saw the two women head inside. Smiling, she ran to the lowered fire escape and set her hands on the cold metal rungs. When she caught up with Jack, she’d….

Go on to Episode 8

Linda Andrews writes romantic adventures with a paranormal twist

Visit her at http://www.lindaandrews.net

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2010 in Round Robin, Zumaya Publications

 

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Round Robin Episode 6

Jackie struggled to keep herself upright as she looked at the two women. “Robbing Peter to Pay Paul?  Interesting…”  Where was Jack?  And Matt?  She stood up, aching.  “There were two guys, fighting…”  Those who hadn’t run away were now setting tables back up, checking each other for injuries.

One of the ladies folded the fabric up carefully and placed it in her pocket.  “Who could tell, in all this confusion?”  She stood up and held out a hand.  “I’m Harriet, and this is my Aunt Beth. ”

Jackie held out her hand, looking at the two seemingly friendly faces suspiciously.  “Jackie.  I’m sorry but…this doesn’t seem like your normal hangout.  What brings you here?”

Harriet explained, briefly, about the quilt for the animal shelter.

“I approve of that cause…but since the cops are almost here, I think you’d both better get out while you still can.”  She strode towards the back door and threw it open.  She could hear the cars pulling up outside, but her head was clear, now…she could deal.  Now, to find Matt…

Finding Matt was the easy part…he was dead in the alley behind the bar.

“I think,”  Harriet said behind her, you’re going to need a little help.”

Go on to Episode 7

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Cindy Lynn Speer is the author of Blue Moon, Chocolatier’s Wife and Unbalanced.  More about her and her work can be found at www.apenandfire.com

 
 

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Round Robin Episode 5

“Honey, are you sure this is the place?” Beth Carlson’s brow furrowed as she looked at the wreckage in front of her.

“This is the address she gave me and look,” long arm quilter Harriet Truman pointed to the broken glass of the store front window. “It says ‘stones’. This has to be the place.”

“Why would Sarah’s cousin arrange to meet us in a bar, for heaven sake? We’re here to talk about the raffle quilt for an animal shelter benefit aren’t we?”

“It wouldn’t be the first time Sarah had things wrong,” Harriet said and pulled her aunt off the sidewalk and behind a large potted spruce tree just in time to avoid a large man in a black mackintosh as he pushed out the door and staggered across the street. She could hear the faint sound of sirens in the distance.

Harriet stepped to the door. “Wait here,” she said and went in. She followed the sound of a moan to an overturned table. A slender young woman lay on the floor at her feet, her eyes closed. Harriet kneeled and gently shook her shoulder.

“Are you okay?” she said.

Aunt Beth lowered herself on the opposite side of the girl and gently eased a black stiletto heeled shoe from the young woman’s clenched left fist, causing the girls eyes to fly open.

“Where am I?” she whispered.

A tall man with sand colored hair watched the trio from across the room, and when Aunt Beth had helped the injured woman to a seated position, he eased out the back door.

“What’s this” the young woman asked and dropped a folded piece of cloth from her right hand. Smaller sewn pieces formed a purposeful pattern.

“Where did it come from? It’s not mine.”

Harriet smoothed the square of multicolored cloth.  “Looks like a quilt block,” she said.

“Let me see,” Aunt Beth said and held out her hand. She studied the pattern.

“This block is called Robbing Peter to Pay Paul.”

Go on to Episode 6

Arlene Sachitano writes The Harriet Truman/Loose Threads quilting mystery novels as well as The Harley Spring Mysteries. You can find her at

http://www.arlenesachitano.com or

http://www. arlenesachitanosblog.blogspot.com

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2010 in Birthday, Round Robin, Zumaya Publications

 

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Round Robin Episode 4

…stood Matt, still holding the smoking gun. He took three steps closer to Jackie as his arm stretched towards her, Moses-like, and his lips widened into a sneer.

“This is it, you condescending bitch.” Matt’s voice was cold as death. “You’ve cheated on me for the last time.”

Jackie felt a bolt of electricity race up her spine and burst in her head. How could he have known? She had always been too clever for him, or so she had thought until now.  Her mind was spinning fast. She knew from the compassionless tone in his voice that pleading wouldn’t help.  She tried to swallow but her mouth had gone bone dry.  She croaked, “If you kill me, what will happen to the shelter? You’ll be killing all those animals too!”

Matt stood perfectly still. It was too dark to tell if his eyes were softening. She didn’t even know if he had heard her over the sound of the music and the other people screaming. But then she noticed a ray of hope. She saw Jack slowly rising from the floor, like a tiger ready to pounce.  She had to give him time.

“Matt, you got this all wrong. I’m here on business.”

Over the thump of LL Cool on the sound system, Jackie heard the wail of sirens in the distance.  Help was minutes away, but minutes might as well be years. That unwavering gun was pointed directly at her forehead. Screw this, she thought. Her body tensed as she made ready to jump.

In what seemed like super slow motion, she saw Jack lunge at Matt, arms stretched, pain twisting his face. She leaped at the same time, not at Matt, but to the side. A gunshot roared so loud in her ears it sounded like the ending of the world.  Pain screamed in her mind.

A moment later she lay on the floor, looking up at…

Go on to Episode 5

Alan Chin writes gay fiction. Visit him at http://alanchin.net

or http://alanchinwriter.blogspot.com and http://twitter.com/alanhchin

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2010 in Round Robin, Zumaya Publications

 

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Round Robin Episode 3

Jackie registered the broad shoulders under a black mackintosh before noticing the smoking barrel swinging Jack’s way. “Get down!”

Jack’s attention swiveled her way, but unlike most men she’d known he actually listened. Hitting the floor before the dead bimbo, he upended his table and ducked behind it.

Glasses shattered, sending a trail of glittering shards across the stained concrete floor. The businessmen at the oak bar shrieked like school girls before melting off their stools to cower near the brass footrest.

Taking her own advice, Jackie pressed inside the curved side of the bar. Her tight jeans cut across her belly as she kicked off her stilettos. Well this certainly hadn’t gone the way she’d planned. Palming the heels, she wielded the makeshift weapon. Three inches of Chinese plastic against bullets, not if she wanted to get out of this alive. Time for plan B.

“Stand up and face me like a man, you son of a bitch!” Another pop and the lampshade over the pool table exploded.

Jackie’s tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth. Could she make it down the hallway to the bathrooms?

Two more shots echoed around the bar.

Wood chips from Jack’s table sprayed the floor. “Jenner, is that you?”

Jackie mentally cringed. Maybe it had been a blessing that the PI hadn’t returned her call. The man sounded too damn relaxed for someone being shot at. Inhaling a calming breath, she looked for an exit. Matt would have to understand. Becoming collateral damage wouldn’t help fund the animal shelter and she didn’t have that much life insurance.

Jackie peered around the edge of the bar and her heart stopped beating. There, just beyond Jack’s table…

Go on to Episode 4

Linda Andrews writes romantic adventures with a paranormal twist

Visit her at http://www.lindaandrews.net

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2010 in Round Robin, Zumaya Publications

 

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