Chaotic Halloween Fun by Sam Cheever!

Magical chaos, old enemies, new adversaries, and danger around every corner…I HATE this time of year!

Okay, I’ll admit it, this is my least favorite time of year. Yeah, I understand the enchantment of the season…I get that…but most people don’t have jobs that involve wrangling magic. During the last three months of the year, magical influences run rampant. And that means a lot more work for me.

And this year is the worst of all.

Why you ask?

Because I’m not only trying to wrangle the out-of-control magic artifacts flying around all over the place. This year, I also have to try to keep a magical cat and a talking frog out of trouble.

Goddess take the wheel.

Things are about to get really ugly.

Sam Cheever Gives you Frog and Cat – Oh, and Mystery!

Apple Trees and Frog Pee

It isn’t every day that you find yourself staring at a frog’s squishy butt bulging from the underside of a sink drain. I would have felt better if I’d believed it would never happen again. However, because I appeared to be frog-cursed, there was a strong possibility I’d eventually end up lying on my back under the sink, eyeing the posterior region of Mr. Slimy again.

Sighing, I gave the squishy bulk a tentative poke with my finger, earning a forlorn, “Ribbit!” for my efforts. Something trickled downward, hitting my cheek and dripping down to the paper towel I had draped under my head to keep “under the sink” cooties off my hair.

I realized, too late, what had just dripped on me.

“Argh!” I shoved out from under the sink and bent over while grabbing frantically for more paper towel to wipe frog pee off my cheek. “I can’t believe it!”

The figure lounging against my refrigerator grinned. “You shouldn’t poke a stressed frog, Naida.”

I glared at the source of almost all my problems.

Okay, I know I previously said that about Mr. Wicked, my adorable kitten who was probably better at being an artifact keeper than I was. But I’d reassessed the players and decided Rustin Quilleran, former witch and current frog squatter, was definitely more trouble than my sweet little kitten.

I mean, Wicked was curled up on his pillow, purring happily.

Rustin was driving a fat frog bus that got itself jammed in my drain and peed on my face.

I’ll let you do the math.

“Not funny. You need to keep a better lock on the contents of your bladder.”

His grin widened. “I think you have a mistaken view of my ability to control your wedged friend,” he told me. “I’m just a passenger on that particular bus.”

Which, normally I’d be happy about. I mean, when Rustin had gotten stuck in the frog because of a spell his horrible family had performed, I’d felt terrible. We’d tried everything to get him out of there. But, in the end, the evil Jacob Quilleran had interfered, making certain poor Rustin didn’t escape the fate Jacob had locked him into.

I still hadn’t found out why Rustin’s Uncle Jacob had felt the need to lock him in a frog.

Rustin wasn’t being very forthcoming with the information.

I hurried past him, into my bathroom, where I put soap onto the wet paper towel and scrubbed my cheek until I was in danger of removing a layer of skin cells along with the frog pee.

“What are you doing here, then? Standing there laughing isn’t helping at all.”

Rustin shrugged. “I was bored. Your life is generally good for a few laughs. I’m happy to report that this morning has been no exception.”

I barely resisted zapping him with my almost worthless keeper magics. I pretty much had only enough oomph in my zapper to curl someone’s hair or make them pee themselves.

Trust me when I tell you I’d had enough of making stuff pee for the day.

Flinging the soiled paper towel into the trash, I glared at him. “I’m so glad I could entertain.”

“Me too.” His grin never wavered.

A part of me was happy to see it. I’d been so worried that Rustin would lose his humanity because of his enforced incarceration in the frog. But his cousin Maude and his very powerful Aunt Madeline had been working on reversing the spell. They hadn’t managed yet to free him. But they’d created a metaphysical barrier between Mr. Slimy’s ─ a.k.a. the frog’s ─ consciousness and Rustin’s so he could maintain his power, brain capacity, and humanity…basically his soul.

That was as good a result as we could have hoped for under the circumstances.

Even though that meant, as Mr. Slimy’s current foster parent, I was also the unlucky owner of the ethereally handsome and eternally snarky witch who was stuck inside the frog.

You thought I was kidding about the challenges of my life, didn’t you?

The bell jangled downstairs in my bookstore, and I glanced at my stuck amphibian.

“Ribbit.” Slimy’s sticky tongue snapped out and snagged a massive fly that had tried to make a break for the window above the sink.

Sucker.

I looked at Rustin. “Keep an eye on the squishy, green bus. I have to go see who’s downstairs.”

He nodded, casting what appeared to be an affectionate glance toward Mr. Slimy.

I shook my head. How anybody could be fond of a frog was beyond me.

Although, I realized as I bounced down the steps to the first floor, that I’d begun to form an attachment which transcended disgust. In fact, I almost dreaded the day Madeline managed to find a way to extract her nephew. I was going to miss him.

Unlocking the door that separated the bookstore from the artifact library behind me, I blinked in surprise.

Had I just had a Freudian moment? Was I going to miss the witch? Or the frog?

I shrugged, shoving the question aside for another time. It would probably be an easy choice.

I mean, one of them just peed on me.

Sam Cheever has a Fun New Cozy!

Come to Silver Hills. Where fowl plans can either mean dinner out, or the deadly designs of a chicken-livered killer.

When Vlad’s opponent for the Silver City mayoral race succumbs to fowl deeds, he seriously changes the pecking order in Vlad’s favor. But the victim’s death has made Vlad king of the roost, so the Silver Hills night manager quickly becomes the obvious suspect.

Plucky investigators Flo and Co. are certainly no strangers to Vlad’s evil ways. But they’re also not egg-xactly convinced he did it. So, when Flo learns that the victim, a wealthy local chicken farmer, had been trying to reach her when he was killed, she’s more than a little curious why.

Will their investigation shine a light on a killer’s fowl deeds before he flies the coop? Or will Flo chicken out when the villain threatens to go all cock-a-doodle-do on her bad self? There’s only one way to find out. And you already know what it is… Yep, Flo and Co. are goin’ in, tail feathers high!


Fowl Campaign is Book 8 in my fun Silver Hills Cozy Mysteries. For many of you, your first experience with a Sam Cheever book was Flo Charts, the series prequel.  Lots of things have changed since those first days when Flo and Agnes met and jumped into their first mystery together. New characters have appeared, old characters have grown and changed, and relationships have taken interesting turns. But one thing has never changed throughout this series. Flo’s and Agnes’s friendship. When all is said and done, I believe that’s what makes these books so much fun. Sure, it’s entertaining to see the new and different ways Agnes finds to get into trouble. And yeah, it’s educational to watch Flo navigate through all the challenges and personalities, using a strong intellect, pure old-fashioned stubbornness, and a dose of substitute teacher pluck to solve every problem. But I believe the real gold of the books is in the way the two women get along. Their affectionate ribbing. The respect they have for each other. And the way they have each other’s backs through even the murkiest problems. That’s what makes you feel good as you read the last sentence in every book. Because you know you might be leaving them behind for a minute. But they won’t be alone. And neither will you! All you need to do is turn the page of another Silver Hills book to be right there among friends again. I hope you’ll pick up a copy of Fowl Campaign and join the fun. And if you’re so inclined, drop a brief review on Amazon so that others will know it’s a good book to read. As always, I appreciate you! xx Sam

Mucky Bumpkin – A Fun New Cozy Mystery from Sam Cheever

 

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
“…characters you can’t help but fall in love with … an intriguing, many layered mystery with many twists and turns, and at least one surprising revelation…
I recommend this series and author to anyone who enjoys a good, cozy and fun mystery.”

 

She might be a country girl who loves short shorts and flip-flops, but her life is less defined by her countrified attire, and more by the way she hunts down a deadly killer.

Murder is sinking its hooks into the quiet countryside and dredging up ugly secrets. Deer Hollow is still a quiet little town steeped in Americana and known for its delicious country fare. But being named a top ten place to live just might have inspired an assassin to make the quaint country spot home.
As Joey searches for a killer, her past is dragged from the murky darkness where she’s hidden it. And secrets she never wanted to discover are rising like the stink of manure on a freshly fertilized field.

Excerpt

I’ve always been perfectly aware of my shortcomings as a person.

Mostly.

I consider myself generally a good person. With good instincts about people and a desire to be kind to others unless they’re unkind to me.

But I do have an aversion to pushy people. Which has put me on the wrong side of salesmen of all kinds more than once.

My second least favorite of these is Realtors. Not that being a Realtor is innately bad. It’s just that the act of buying or selling a house is way too much like dealing with used car salesmen for my taste.

Which brings me to my first least favorite type of salesmen.

Fortunately, it wasn’t a car salesman standing on my porch that sunny, cool-ish fall day in the rural area just outside of Deer Hollow, Indiana.

But it might as well have been.

The woman standing in front of Caphy and me had lipstick on her teeth and hair that looked as if squirrels might have built it on her head for nesting. Lucky for her my dog was much more tolerant than I was. Even when she was being none-too-subtly dissed by said lipstick-teethed intruder.

“Oh my! You should chain that beast up.”

The hand on Caphy’s collar tightened briefly as I fought to contain my instant rage. Cacophony, Caphy for short, was about the sweetest animal that ever lived. She was more than my best friend. I credited her with saving my life when I’d gone into the deepest depression imaginable after my parents were killed in a plane crash on our property.

She was also a Pitbull.

And that was all some people saw when they looked at her.

Caphy smiled at the woman, her muscular tail whipping painfully against my leg. She whined softly, quivering with friendly excitement.

“She’s fine,” I told the woman with the squirrel’s nest for hair. “She lives here. Whereas you…” I let my statement trail away, allowing my uninvited guest to gather my inference all by herself.

The woman frowned slightly, moving a purse the size of her extra-large backside in front of her like a shield. “Oh…um…okay. Well.” She extended her hand a few inches in front of her, a white rectangle stuck between two short fingers. “Here’s my card. My name is Penney Sellers. I was wondering if you’re interested in selling your house.”

I blinked several times. “Not in the least.”

As I responded I realized it was true. When I’d initially learned that I’d inherited the family home after my parents’ death, I’d thought I wanted to sell it. Too many painful memories lived within its familiar walls. I still thought I’d sell eventually. But I wasn’t quite ready to make that decision.

I glanced down at the card, grimacing at the obviousness of the woman’s name. “Is Penney Sellers really your name?”

In response she gave me a slightly snotty smile. “I can offer you a premium price. There aren’t many homes in this area of this quality.”

“Not interested. You do know there’s a huge subdivision going up on the south side of Deer Hollow, right?” Of course she knew that. But I was making a point.

“Those houses are fine. But they don’t have the…” She swung her arms toward the pond and the trees. “Ambiance. The setting here is truly spectacular.”

“Thank you. But I’m not interested in selling.” I backed into the house, tugging gently on Caphy’s collar. Her gaze locked onto the other woman who’d taken a step toward the door as if she was thinking about pushing her way inside. A low growl emerged from Caphy’s throat and the hair in front of her tail spiked.

Penney Sellers stopped dead in her tracks, her gaze shooting to the endlessly sweet creature who was giving her fair warning.

But Caphy’s warning didn’t stop the realtor’s mouth from moving. “Do you own all those woods over there?” The woman asked. Her expression was perfectly innocent. But there was a gleam in her eye that I didn’t like.

“Yes. All the way to the big stone marker on Goat’s Hollow Road. 100 acres.”

The gleam flared, making her look positively demonic. “A hundred acres! My goodness. I’d love to talk to you about subdividing the property. We could build a dozen homes and still have sizeable properties.”

“Not interested. Thanks for stopping by.”

“But…”

I slammed the door in her face and locked it. Pressing my ear against the warm wood, I listened for her to climb into her car and drive away before I took a full breath. A soft whine drew my gaze to Caphy. “It’s all right, girl. She’s gone.”

The pibl’s tail snapped sideways once and then she nuzzled me, snorting softly. She was sensitive to my moods, and the alarm I was feeling was no doubt putting her on edge. I couldn’t have explained the panic tightening my chest if someone offered me a thousand dollars to do it.

It was an unreasonable fear. But undeniable.

Nobody could force me to sell my house. Nobody could make me give up my private little wonderland. It was all I had left of my parents.

It was also the place where Caphy and I had grown up. Where we’d run and played, where I’d climbed trees and learned to swim. But the new subdivision was affecting my life in ways I hadn’t expected. When I’d first learned it was coming it had seemed harmless. After all, the three hundred acre plot on the south side of Deer Hollow was miles away from me. The homes were supposed to be decent ones, built on quarter acre lots and not all exactly the same. I reasoned it would be nice to have some new blood in town.

Unfortunately, I hadn’t counted on the other stuff that came with those homes. The constant traffic through town from looky-loos. The noise, mess, and invasion of people who thought the town had been conjured up for their enjoyment.

And the realtors, builders and construction people who clogged the streets and turned the few restaurants Deer Hollowboasted into hotbeds of noise and inaccessibility at meal times.

Still, I could deal with all that.

It was the other thing that had my nerves thrumming like a banjo in the mountains of Kentucky.

The sense of impending doom.

 

BUY LINK:  books2read.com/mucky

 

Mourning Commute – The Funeral Fakers Clean Cozy Mysteries

 

It’s definitely curtains for May’s client. He’s exited Stage Left for the last time. May Ferth just wants to do a good job in her role as fake girlfriend. But there are strange goings on at the funeral. Shifty characters whispering secrets in shadowed corners, and a truly yummy advocate for the dead guy implying that May might have had something to do with his friend’s unscripted exit.

May might be a thirty-three-year-old ex-community theater actress on her second career, but she comes from a family of cops. And, despite her talent for acting, she has a lot more Detective in her than Diva.

The villain thinks he can threaten her and she’ll fold like last week’s panned play. Clearly, he hasn’t read the day’s script changes. May and her little dog Shakespeare are on the case. Though, they might take a little direction from the Private Investigator who believes that May’s client was murdered, and fully intends to prove it.

 

BUY Mourning Commute: https://amzn.to/2OzXQoa

 

I tucked the tiny bottle of fake tears more deeply into my tissue and sniffed daintily, scoping out the assembled crowd of mourners with a practiced eye. My baby blues caught on a handsome, dark-haired man standing back from the rest, and I did one of those embarrassing jerk-away things with my eyes, hoping he didn’t notice me noticing him again.

He totally noticed me.

He’d been staring at me since I’d arrived at the viewing an hour earlier. And his expression was anything but friendly. Somehow my eyes kept traveling to him, though I swear on the life of my spunky Pomeranian, Shakespeare, that it was pure accident.

I wasn’t ogling the mourners.

Really, I wasn’t.

Of its own volition, my gaze accidentally slipped over the spot where he’d been again, and I blinked.

He was gone.

To cover my surprise, I turned to the elderly woman next to me and let my bottom lip quiver. I gave a practiced little sob and squeezed the fake tears in my tissue just as a big hand landed on my shoulder.

I yelped, gripped the tiny bottle as if it was the only thing keeping me from plunging a thousand feet off a bridge to my death, and then yelped again as I shot a stream of faux sadness right into one wide blue eye.

Fake tears ran like the River Jordan down my artificially pale cheek. “Oh!” I exclaimed as I tried to deal with the mess.

I jerked around to eye the owner of the hand and forgot how to speak.

Across the room he’d been yummy, definitely an eight-star performance on opening night. But up close and personal, Mr. Hostile was a solid fifteen stars, with a good three-minute standing ovation added in.

Even with the glare on his face.

I couldn’t help wondering why he seemed so angry with me. Surely it wasn’t because I was ogling him at the viewing of the man who was supposed to be my boyfriend. I gave that one a few moments of thought.

Nah. That couldn’t be it.

Hostile Hottie stuck the hand he’d accosted me with in front of my face, all but daring me to shake it. “Eddie Deitz.”

I blinked. “Huh?” Brilliant, MayBell. Oscar-worthy response.

My poor tissue was swamped with fake tears, and there were more of them trailing down one cheek. I couldn’t seem to get them under control. So, I decided to embrace the dramatic substance of the moment. I quivered my bottom lip and sniffled behind the lump of saturated tissue.

Accepting his challenge, I placed a limp paw into his and allowed it to be pumped. “MayBell Ferth. It’s a pleasure.”

Ugh! I wanted to kick myself. Who says that at a funeral? Jeezopete!

His gorgeous green gaze narrowed slightly, bringing my attention to the thick fringe of black lashes framing his eyes.

I’d do a year’s worth of PiYo classes to have lashes like that. And that was saying something because I hated PiYo with the power of a thousand suns.

“Is there something wrong with your eye?” he asked.

I mopped ineffectually at the fake tears with my soggy tissue. “Um, no, I’m just sad.”

Stupid, May. Stupid.

His expression told me he didn’t believe I was sad out of only one eye. I couldn’t blame him for his skepticism.

 

BUY Mourning Commute: https://amzn.to/2OzXQoa

 

 

USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author Sam Cheever writes mystery and suspense, creating stories that draw you in and keep you eagerly turning pages. Known for writing great characters, snappy dialogue, and unique and exhilarating stories, Sam is the award-winning author of 80+ books.

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A Series is Born – Book 1: Country Cousins by Sam Cheever

Releasing at $0.99 for a Limited Time!

 

She’s just a country girl who loves her dog. But her life is about to get less countrified and more…erm…homicide.

Deer Hollow is a small community built in a verdant, rolling countryside. The nearest big city is over an hour away and big city ways are rejected at the Hollow. Unfortunately, the big city isn’t the only place where bad things can happen.
Things like murder…which has a funny way of messin’ up a debutante’s day and turning a sunny Sunday in June right over onto its bucolic head.

The whole communication revolution thing is a mixed bag of wonderful and tedious. Things like cell phones are a revelation, allowing twenty-something women like me, who have trouble sitting still, to stay in touch with the important people in their lives while we go about our business.

But even the best innovations have their downside.

For example, a wise woman once told me never to answer a phone call whose number you don’t recognize. Answer at your own risk, my cousin Felicity proclaimed one rainy day in the arboretum.

And I’ve since witnessed the intelligence of her advice. Several times over.

Unfortunately, I’m apparently a slow learner.

“Hello?”

“Is this Miss Joey Fulle?”

I frowned, not liking the “I want to sell you a bridge” tone of the caller’s voice. “Nope, sorry. I think you have the wrong number.”

“Actually, I believe I have the right number, Miss Fulle.”

“You’re not right,” I said quickly and disconnected before the man on the other end of the phone had a chance to give me bad news. I had no idea what kind of bad news I was expecting. But I knew it was there, lurking like a vulture in a tree, ugly and ravenous.

I tugged the soft twisty off my shoulder length red-blonde hair and reached up to smooth the hair back into my favorite style, which was a high ponytail. Sweat dripped down between my shoulder blades and I was glad I’d dressed for the heat of an early June morning. Though my plain white tank top and cut off jean short shorts were already damp.

My dog, Cacophony, Caphy for short, bounded up and stopped in front of me, a clump of fur between her jaws. I grimaced. “Caphy, what did you do? Have you killed something again?”

A blonde Pitbull with gorgeous green eyes, Caphy bounced several times, her muscular haunches springing her several inches off the ground each time, and then barked happily and ran off again, tail whipping the air. I sighed, knowing I should follow her and see if I could save whatever she’d decided to “play” with.

My phone rang again. I hit Ignore and trudged after my dog. “Caphy girl, where’d you go?”

The distant sound of barking drew me to a copse of old trees, their gnarled branches bigger around than I was and tangled together high overhead. It was behind one of these, an elegant old Elm tree whose knobby arms spread wider than the rest, that my dog was mostly hidden. I could see her butt wagging happily as she moved around behind the tree.

“Caphy, come!”

My sweet Pitty bounced out from behind the distant tree and grinned at me, her entire body vibrating with excitement. “What have you found, girl?” I murmured to myself. “Come on, Caphy.”

But she turned back to whatever she was exploring. That was when I realized she must have cornered something. I picked up the pace and hurried in her direction.

By the time I was fifteen feet away I smelled something rotting and knew that, whatever she’d found, I wouldn’t be saving it.

Real panic set in. “Caphy, you come here right now!”

My dog disappeared behind the tree and I growled with frustration. But a moment later she reappeared, heading in my direction with something hanging out of her mouth. “Ugh!” I fought an impulse to turn and run. Being corpse-woman was not tops on my list of favorite things.

In fact, I was pretty sure it wasn’t on the list at all. “Drop it, Cacophony.”

Of course she ignored me, her steps becoming bouncier and more excited the closer she came. Clearly she wanted to share her treasure with me. I didn’t know how to impress upon her that having a mangled, half dried corpse of a bunny or squirrel dropped on my shoes didn’t take me to my happy place. My usual response of shrieking and running screaming away from her treasure just didn’t seem to be doing much to teach her.

She was a very bull-headed pitty. I grinned at my pun.

Caphy ran up and dropped to her haunches a few feet away. She kept hold of the object, which I was trying hard not to look at, as if she was afraid I was going to take it away from her. She would be right about that. But it wasn’t going to happen until I had a bag or something to use so I didn’t have to touch it. I tried one more time to get her to let loose of whatever she was clutching between her jaws. “Drop it, girl.” If I was really lucky I could convince her to let go of it and I could drag her home.

To my shock she lowered her head and released the contents of her mouth.

I glanced down. My stomach did a painful little dance and my gag reflex kicked in. Caphy was watching me very carefully, letting the object lie there as if checking to see how I would react. I was glad it was out of her mouth.

In fact, I would have been elated about it.

But I was too busy shrieking and running away. It might not work for her…but it worked just fine for me.

 

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Sam Cheever has a Fun New Cozy Mystery!

“I was snorting into my pillow so much I sounded like my grand dog Nova. People this is a keeper. I went out and bought the paperback this weekend! You need to read this NOVEL it will cheer you up, make you get over the blues and damn will make you walk around with a smirk and half smile for awhile. These characters become you friends and family. I have a lot of people read Flo and Company! They are a treat.” Karen Frost Reviews

~*~

 

Come to Silver Hills. Where an old nemesis can lead to new trouble and murder is a line item in a business plan.

Vlad Newsome isn’t exactly known as a people person. He’s really more contentious than convivial.

But something’s changed with him, and Flo and Agnes are suspicious.

Vlad’s suddenly “peopling”. He’s shaking hands and even curving his thin lips upward at times in a terrifying imitation of a smile.

Could it be he’s turning over a new leaf? Is he facing a life-changing event that’s made him grow as a person?

Nah…

He’s up to something. And Flo and Agnes are determined to find out what.

When a woman who had a beef with the reprehensible creature of the night known as Vlad Newsome turns up dead in her home…Vlad appears to be the culprit behind her murder.

Silver City PD certainly believe he’s guilty. But Vlad insists he’s innocent. It’s going to be up to Flo and Co. to solve the murder and find the “real” killer. Unfortunately for everyone involved, the ladies aren’t totally certain Vlad isn’t the murderer.

Will Flo and Co. walk away…leave Vlad to defend himself? If you believe that you haven’t been paying attention.

After all, this is Flo and Agnes!

 

~~*~~

“Maybe somebody died,” Agnes offered.

Flo rolled her eyes and pulled a spiky branch up to cover her face. “I hope not, since they’re all laughing.”
Agnes’s round face folded into a frown. “In some cultures, death is celebrated.”

“While I realize being a vampire could be considered another culture…I doubt any of Vlad’s victims or their families would celebrate death by fang.” Flo ducked, pulling the branch with her, as the goth version of a night manager skimmed a look her way. Regrettably, her movement totally exposed her fellow stalker.

Agnes gulped loudly as Vladwick Newsome fixed his black, deadly gaze on her, clearly miffed. “He saw me, Flo.”

Another man approached Vlad and, unbelievably, the usually unfriendly night manager offered the tall, tough-looking man his hand. They shook vigorously and Vlad actually leaned close, whispering something to the other man that made him smile.

“What the?” Agnes stood up, glaring across the street until Vlad turned her way. Then he said something to his new friend and started toward them, his dark eyes flashing with anger.

Flo grabbed her friend’s hand. “Come on. It’s still daylight. His powers are weaker when the sun’s up.”

Snorting, Agnes let herself be dragged toward the street. “I almost wish he really was a vampire so that would be true.”

Flo sighed. “Me too.” They hurried across the street and headed toward home. “I think we just witnessed Vlad’s attempt to foil our plans.”

Agnes shrugged. “To tell you the truth, I’m okay with that. I really don’t want to be a weekend manager.”

“Why not?” Flo asked. “I’ll admit the pay’s not great but it would be nice to have a little extra income, wouldn’t it?” Agnes didn’t actually have any income at the moment. She was able to live at Silver Hills because of an inheritance from her parents, which was just enough to pay for her apartment there and not much else.

Her friend shrugged. “It’s just…”

“Hey!” The snotty, strident voice assaulted them from across the street.

Flo grabbed Agnes’ hand, pulling her into a faster walk. “Don’t look back.”

“We can’t just ignore him,” Agnes said as she began to turn.

Flo jerked her around. “Don’t! He’s just going to threaten you and Tolstoy with eviction again.”

“Flo, you know he’s going to do that anyway. He’s going to be mad if I put my name in the hat for the manager’s position.”

“But if you get the job he won’t be able to threaten you with that ever again,” Flo reminded her.

She saw the moment the realization hit. Agnes’ round, expressive face brightened in a smile. “You’re right.” To Flo’s horror, Agnes stopped and turned as Vlad hurried closer. “What up, vamp?”

The cranky night manager curled his lip and oozed to a stop deep inside their comfort zone.

Flo took a step backward, glaring at him. “Vlad.”

He gave her a smug grimace. “Annoying woman from the second floor.”

Flo fought irritation. The man knew perfectly well who she was. He just liked to pretend she was so unimportant he couldn’t remember her name. She clamped her lips down on the desire to give it to him again. It wouldn’t make any difference and would allow him a win.

She was all about not giving Vlad Newsome a win.

He turned a piercing, nearly black gaze toward Agnes. Flo saw her friend twitch, her eyes widening as if she couldn’t look away.

“He can’t compel you with his gaze, Agnes.”

Agnes chewed on her bottom lip. “Are you sure? I’m feeling kind of woozy.”

“That’s because you stopped breathing.” Flo touched her friend’s thick wrist. “Drop your eyes and breathe, fool.”

Agnes didn’t blink. Her eyes were so big Flo was afraid they might be stuck. “Agnes, a bug’s going to fly into your eyes if you don’t blink.”

Agnes’ mouth opened into a horrified “O”. She hated when that happened. “I can’t Flo, he’s got me.”

Vlad chuckled darkly, clearly enjoying Agnes’ hysteria.

Flo reached out and punched him in the arm.

“Ow!” His smile died as he rubbed his skinny arm. “That hurt.”

Fortunately, when he looked away, Agnes broke the spell she’d put on herself. She glared at him. “You won’t stop me with your vampire ways,” she told him angrily.

He shook his head. “You people are idiots. There is no such thing as vampires.”

“That’s exactly what a vampire would say when it was about to be outed,” Agnes told him smugly.

 

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