Friday, July 27, 2012

"Kissing Natalie" by Paige Aspen (Novelette)

Genre:  Erotica

Type of Short Story:  Novelette

Summary:  Abby and Natalie work late one night to discover an intense sexual tension, something Abby never expected. Both happily married find these new feelings too much to fight. Lucky for them their husbands are open minded and accept this new friendship allowing Abby and Natalie an opportunity to explore and play.

Natalie, are you sure your husband won’t mind you staying late to help me finish up?

Natalie shrugged, “No, he’s out with the guys on Friday nights, he won’t even know I’m not home.”

“Okay, just know that I really appreciate you staying, I hate being here alone at night. This place gets really creepy.” The building we work in was used as a hospital for the criminally insane in the 1920's. It’s a two story building with a basement that was a morgue. I’ve never seen anything out of the ordinary, but old buildings make sounds, creepy sounds.

Natalie shrugged again, “It’s only creepy if they scare you. I like it, being here after dark, hearing them, catching a glimpse, is like proof that they were here.”

“You’re crazy, I said it was creepy. I didn’t say I believed in ghosts. I just get a little uneasy being here alone.”

Smiling, Natalie vowed to protect me and added her reassurance by brushing her hand across my back. I was a little taken aback at that, goosebumps and all. I had never been flirted with by a woman before. But I know what flirting is and I know that Natalie was flirting. And just to be clear, Natalie is exactly the woman I would want flirting with me. She has this way about her. She's feminine in all the right places and athletic.

Buy this story on Amazon.

Friday, July 20, 2012

"The Last Confession" by Ethan Jones (Short Story)

Genre:  Suspense

Type of Short Story:  Short Story

Summary:  Justice comes for a bedridden New York mobster during his last confession.


The police officer shook his head at the reporter’s question. “Sorry, Brook. Don’t have that information. Besides, even if I knew who shot the bastard, I couldn’t tell you.”

Brook looked at the entrance to the Intensive Care Unit. The subject of her story, a New York mobster, lay somewhere behind the door guarded by two police officers. He was shot earlier that morning. With three bullets in his chest and life support a necessity, there was little hope he could beat death.

She pursed her lips and played with a slightly out of place blonde curl. “Tony, can you tell me something more than the chief’s press release?” Her voice turned softer and warmer as she stepped closer to him. “Leads on the shooter? Suspected motive? Something I can publish tomorrow.”

Her jasmine perfume was overpowering, but Tony shook his head again. “Look, I can lose my job over this. Check tomorrow with the chief and he may have something. Good day.”

Brook frowned. She turned and began walking away. “I thought you were my friend,” she shot over her shoulder.

“Friends don’t get friends fired.”

“Piece of work, eh?” Mikey, the other police officer, said. He pointed at Brook’s lean figure and her swinging hips. “Pretty, smart, and ballsy.”

“Yeah, she is. A word of advice, Mikey: never get involved with someone from the press. Ever.”

“Will do, Tony,” the young police officer replied, flipping his paper to the sports section. He was sitting in a chair by the entrance to the ICU, while Tony was standing.

“I’m gonna get me some coffee.” Tony gulped the last sip from his paper cup. “Want something?”
“Get me a large one too.”

“Sure thing. Hope Brook doesn’t come back.”

“No worries. I won’t let her or anyone else get in.”

“That’s my boy.”

Tony turned his large body around and headed for the elevator. He passed a group of men in shiny suits and greasy hair. They were the mobster’s associates, waiting for their friend to wake up.

Mikey was halfway through the baseball scores when he heard approaching footsteps. He glanced at a man neatly dressed in a black suit. A briefcase hung from his left hand. He could be a banker or a lawyer. Mikey suspected a banker wouldn’t be meeting a dying mobster. Definitely a lawyer then.

“I’m here to see my—” the lawyer said.

“No visitors allowed,” replied Mikey without looking up.

“He’s my client, and I’m his lawyer, appointed by the Mancini famiglia, so I nee—”

“You deaf or something? I said no visitors allowed.”

“You can’t stop me. It’s within his rights to see a lawyer.”

Mikey put his paper away. “No, it’s not,” he spoke softly and slowly, as if talking to a two-year-old child. “Silvio Mancini is not under arrest. He’s under doctors’ care. Their orders are for the patient not to be disturbed by people like you. Or anyone else for that matter.”

The lawyer smirked at Mikey. “Huh, people like me, huh? And doctors need the police to keep lawyers away from Mr. Mancini?”

“We’re here to keep away the killers who didn’t finish their job in South Bronx. No one sees the patient without a doctor’s order and a DA’s authorization. Period.”

The lawyer raised his voice. “I can’t believe this. You want me to see the district attorney just to have a word with my client? Unbelievable!” He waved his arms. The contents of his briefcase rattled.

“You got something illegal in there?” Mikey arched one of his eyebrows, trying to hide his grin.

The lawyer snorted. “This ain’t over.” He stormed away.

“Have a nice day, counselor.” Mikey returned to his paper.

A couple of minutes later, Tony arrived with two large paper cups and a brown paper bag. He was chewing on a chocolate glazed donut. “Want some?” he asked, handing Mikey his coffee.

“No. Those things are gonna kill you, man.” Mikey took his coffee and nodded toward Tony’s large belly.

“Uh-huh. Stress is gonna kill me,” Tony replied between big bites. He washed them down with coffee. “Anything happening here while I was away?”

“Some jerkface of a lawyer wanted to see the mobster. I told him to take a hike.”

“Slimy weasels,” Tony groaned. He finished his donut. “Guess who I saw downstairs at the cafeteria?”

Mikey looked up at Tony, who was still standing. “Who?”

“Father Moretti.”

“Don Francesco Moretti? What’s he doing here?” Mikey didn’t hide the confusion in his voice.

“He was talking to some of the mobster’s associates. The Mancini family attends his church.”

“Yes, I’ve seen them a few times, the bastards.” Mikey shook his head.

“When? You haven’t been there in a few months. I go every Sunday.”

“I know, but ever since Stacy got pregnant, she doesn’t feel well in the morning. And then these Mafiosi coming and going as if they own the church. They really think they’re religious and their sins can be forgiven?”

“You’ll have to ask Father Moretti about that.”

“He’s gonna come upstairs?”

“I’m sure he’s here to see the mobster. He’s a large contributor to the church.”

“You know… Father Moretti has this strange sixth sense. He can sense death.”

Tony frowned. “What do you mean?”

“If Father Moretti is here, that means Mancini’s hours are numbered.”

Tony shrugged. “The man has three holes in his lungs. It didn’t take much to assume he might die at any moment. And Father Moretti likes to do the last rites in plenty of time. That’s what I’ve heard.”

“It could be true, but I wouldn’t be so sure about him dying. When you were at the washroom, I overheard one of the doctors talking to a nurse. He was saying Mancini’s breathing better and he’s stable.”

“So what’s Father Moretti doing here then?”

“I don’t know. Why don’t we ask him?” Mikey pointed at the approaching figure.

Father Moretti wore black pants and a black shirt. A small white square rested under his chin, and a small well-worn Bible was in his left hand. He carried his fifty years with an aura of solemnity and grace.

“How are you, my sons?” he asked the police officers.

“Great, we’re doing great, Father,” Tony said.

“How are you doing, Father?” Mikey said. He rose in respect.

“Well, very well. Visiting the sick and the afflicted. How’s Stacy doing?”

Mikey avoided Father Moretti’s piercing eyes. “She’s… she’s doing well. Sick in the mornings and weak during the day. That’s why we haven’t been around much. But we’ll come back soon.”

“We have a special mass this Sunday for new couples. And I’m looking forward to the baptism when the baby is born.”

“Oh, of course, we’ll bring the baby for baptism, for sure.”

“That’s very good, my son. And how’s your family, Tony?”

“Mama’s not doing that well, Father. It’s difficult for her to walk and sometimes even stand up. The rest of the family is doing great.”

Father Moretti nodded. “Tell Mama she’s in my prayers. May God’s hand rest upon her.”
“Thank you, Father.”

“I learned Silvio Mancini is not doing very well, is he?”

Tony shrugged. “We… we don’t know. He got popped really bad in the South Bronx.”

Mikey nodded.

“I see,” Father Moretti said with a frown. “His family asked me to administer the Anointing of the Sick. Mr. Mancini needs to confess his sins so he is ready for eternal life.”

Mikey shook his head. “Father, we’re not supposed to allo—”

“Of course, Father,” Tony said. He moved out of the way and gestured toward the door.

“Thank you,” said Father Moretti. “This is not going to take long,” he said to Mikey.

“OK,” Mikey said.

Father Moretti opened the door and entered the ICU. Tony closed it silently behind him.

“I don’t know if that was such a good idea,” Mikey said.


“What if he tells Father Moretti a secret? Something he wants him to give to his associates? Information, an order.”

Tony frowned. “No way. Father Moretti’s not a Mafiosi.”

“I know, but what if it’s a sort of a last favor? A last will and testament so to speak?”

Buy this story on Amazon.

Friday, July 13, 2012

"Carved in Memory" by Ethan Jones (Short Story)

Genre:  Spy Thriller

Type of Short Story:  Short Story

Summary:  When Justin Hall, a Canadian Intelligence Service agent, is captured by terrorists in Libya during a rescue operation, he is left with only his mind games to escape certain death.

Carved in Memory is the prequel to Arctic Wargame, a great Canadian suspense novel. The first two chapters of Arctic Wargame are included with this short story as bonus content.


I opened my eyes. Water dripped from them. My world had turned upside down. It took me a moment to realize I was hanging by my feet and tied to a large hook fastened to the dungeon’s ceiling. My hands were cuffed behind my back, and I was stripped of most of my clothes.

“The infidel’s waking up,” a guard shouted in Arabic, a language the guards didn’t realize I knew.
He got up from his chair and left, slamming the iron door behind him.

It was strange for him to leave. Earlier, after throwing a bucket of cold water on my head to bring me back to my senses, the guards continued to interrogate me, punching me in between questions. Not this time.

I looked around the dungeon. A dim lamp on a small desk lit the area. The smell of urine and vomit overwhelmed my nose, summoning swelling nausea in my stomach. Pools of brownish liquid stained the floor. Whom did they torture here before me? How long had I been there? I remembered when they dragged me to this place, after the rescue operation to free the Canadian hostages went wrong. Was that last night? Two nights ago?

The door creaked. A small man walked in, followed by two large guards. He helped his limping leg by leaning on a walking stick. A metallic briefcase glinted in the hand of one of the guards, ominous. I remembered the pain he caused me with his knife and I clenched my teeth. And I remembered the guard’s name too. Tarek.
“Hello, Mister Unbreakable. Nice to meet you,” the small man said in English. “My name’s Ali.”

“The pleasure’s all yours; the pain’s all mine,” I managed to say between winces.

I hadn’t told them my name, Justin Hall, or that I worked for the Canadian Intelligence Service. I hadn’t given them anything. That’s why this man, Ali, was here.

I stared at his face, but in the dark cell I couldn’t discern any features. He stepped closer to the light, and Tarek placed Ali’s briefcase on the table. Ali’s hook nose became visible, along with his steep brow and thick, gray moustache. He looked older than in the photo in our office files. Ali Akbar Hassani, the leader of the Armed Islamic Front, an Algerian terrorist group, sat in the chair with a small sigh.

“How are they treating you here?” he asked.

I grinned. Ali was playing the good interrogator. The one that “cared” about you and wanted to gain your trust. His dogs told him torturing me was going nowhere. Still, I didn’t think they played the good cop, bad cop routine in Libya. In Afghanistan and Iran, two places where I had seen the inside of a jail cell, there were only torturers. And they were not bad; they were evil.

“Pull him down,” Ali barked at the guards. “Gently.”

They untied the rope and dropped me to the floor. My face stood inches from the brown stain. Blood. My own blood.

Four large hands lifted me up and placed me in a chair across from Ali.

“That’s better, isn’t it?” Ali asked.

“Na’am, shukran.” A “yes” and a “thank you” in Arabic. “Sheikh Hassani,” I added. It was the coveted title Ali had been seeking for years.

Ali’s eyebrows arched. His jaw dropped. They weren’t expecting me to speak Arabic, and Ali didn’t think I would recognize him. Always know your enemy.

“You’ve done your homework,” Ali said with a nod, his face as still as a corpse. His eyes peered through me, staring at my bloody chest, where Tarek had carved his initial with a sharp knife. “What’s your name?”

“You can call me ‘the Canadian,’“ I said in a soft voice. “And I have some intel for you.”

A self-righteous smile spread across Ali’s face. He looked at the guards to emphasize it was him getting the intelligence out of me. Perhaps he thought his presence had broken me. It hadn’t. I was willing to talk to stall the terrorists and give the rescue team time. The information I planned to give to Ali would cause no harm to my agency or any other intelligence agency. The intel might even do some good if Ali chose to act upon it.

“Go on,” he said. He gave the guards a smile and nodded at me.

“The intel’s very sensitive. For your ears only.”

“I trust my men completely.” Ali’s voice rose to a shout.

“I have no doubts you do. But you need to hear this first.”

Ali glanced at his walking stick, then at the guards.

“I’m handcuffed,” I said. “I can’t go anywhere.”

He snapped open his briefcase. It contained the tools of his trade and resembled a field surgeon’s case: scalpels, knives, pliers, and scissors. Instruments of pain. Ali picked up a knife with a long, serrated blade and held it tight in his hand. He pointed it at me, then barked at the guards, “Outside.”

I waited until the door was shut before saying, “Thank you, Sheik.”

“What are the Canadians going to do?”

I shook my head. “Honestly, I don’t know. I hope they’ll send a rescue mission. But I’m here, and I can’t be sure.”

Ali raised his knife an inch and leaned forward. “So, what is it you have to tell me? Will the Canadians negotiate the hostages’ release?”

“I wouldn’t count on it. We sent in a rescue team, which failed. The second one will not.”

“This isn’t real intelligence and is not worth my time.” He shook his head.

“I’m not finished. I want to tell you about Farook Abazza.”

Ali fell back in his seat. “How do you know that dog?”

Abazza was a powerful Algerian terrorist mastermind and Ali’s archenemy.

“I know about him. And I know what happened.” I pointed at Ali’s useless leg.

“What do you know?”

“How it happened and more importantly, who did it.”

“You’re going to tell me it’s that dog who ambushed me?”

“I’m gonna prove to you it was Abazza who organized it.”

“I’m listening.”

“Your convoy was coming from Dellys to Algiers, when a bomb blew up the lead car. Your Mercedes wasn’t far enough away, so your leg was crushed. What you don’t know is that the bomb was placed under the car when the driver filled up at a gas station in Dellys. One of the men at the station worked for Abazza.”

“You want me to believe this?”

“No, not yet. I want you to check it first. The name of the station worker is Rafet. He’s Turkish. You’ll find him at one of Abazza’s safe houses in the suburbs of Algiers. The one with the swimming pool. He’ll tell you the exact same story, after a bit of persuasion.” I nodded toward his briefcase.

“OK. I’ll check it out,” Ali said. He didn’t sound very convinced.

“One more thing. Your new bodyguards, the Syrians. I would double-check their references. You’ll find out they worked for Abazza less than a year ago.”

“If this is true, how would you know all this about me and my enemies?”

“As you said earlier, I do my homework,” I said, keeping a patronizing tone out of my voice. “You deal in pain; I deal in intel.”

Ali nodded. “Guards,” he called.

The two guards barged in, ready for action. Tarek placed his large hand on my shoulder. I winced, so that Ali could see the distortion of my face, although I felt no new pain.

“No one lays a hand on him until I come back,” Ali ordered the guards as he climbed to his feet.

Tarek withdrew his hand and nodded with some reluctance. The other guard picked up Ali’s briefcase.
Ali nodded. “Clean him up, move him to a nicer cell, and get him some water.”

I smiled. Information is power. I thanked God for the files we received from our men in Algiers.

“He won’t protect you forever,” Tarek muttered as he closed the cell door.

* * *

The next time I saw Ali, he was in a bad mood. A very bad mood.

As soon as they entered my new cell, he shouted at the guards, “Tie him up.”

“Why? What—”

One of the guards punched me in the jaw. My head slammed against the wall and I fell into darkness.

* * *

My world was upside down when I came back to my senses. I was in the dungeon, but this time blood dripped from my nose. Tarek stood in front of me, his fists and chest blood-stained.

“What the hell happened?” I shouted. “Ali, what the hell—”

Buy this story on Amazon and check out Ethan's blog for upcoming work details.

Friday, July 6, 2012

"The Sixth Wife" by Laura Lond (Novelette)

Genre:  Fantasy

Type of Short Story:  Novelette

Summary:  Adelia has no one to blame for her heartache. She’d been cautioned, many times and by many people. Everyone except her mother had told her it was folly to marry an elf, citing a host of reasons. Adelia knew their warnings were not unfounded. She knew he was very different from her and her kind, he was much older, and he’d had five other wives before her. She didn’t care. She had chosen her path.


Adelia was only happy when she was alone with Ametar. She could then pretend that they were an ordinary couple, with the husband perhaps just a few years older than the wife, living in their beautiful palace with magnificent gardens. He was always caring and kind, although a little reserved like all elves. He never spoke about love, but he made her feel certain that he accepted and liked her the way she was, with all her imperfections. Adelia could be herself with him, forgetting all worries. She could only wonder why he’d chosen her over so many impeccable elven ladies.

On their fifth wedding anniversary, Ametar had told her that he wouldn’t require her to leave at the age of fifty; he was dropping that part of their agreement. She still remembered how her heart had fluttered at the news. He didn’t elaborate on his decision, but she knew it could only mean one thing: he truly cared about her. Whether he’d taken those five years to test his own feelings or hers, or perhaps there was a whole different reason altogether, Ametar’s announcement had told her he was taking their marriage seriously. She thought herself the happiest woman in the world.

The happiness lasted until she began to age. He never said a word about it, but Adelia saw every little change—a new wrinkle, another silvery hair, some extra plumpness her figure never used to have—and knew it would only get worse, no matter how hard she tried to fight the effects of aging. She exercised, ate lots of fruit, used creams and oils, and bathed in the warm waters of the Calla stream. At fifty, she probably looked better than most human women of her age, but the difference was noticeable, especially when she stood next to her young-looking husband, who hadn’t changed one bit. She was only delaying the inevitable.

Adelia had been fifty-seven when her mother died. She’d traveled back to her homeland for the funeral, together with Ametar. Everyone stared at them there, of course. Katrina’s comment still rang in her ears:

“So how many young mistresses does he have, now that you look like you’re his mother?”

Ametar didn’t have any, and his treatment of Adelia had not changed, but she was growing uncomfortable. Upon their return to Rosendoll, she’d taken a long, honest look in the mirror and realized his original plan to separate probably made sense. She had become reclusive, asking to be excused from public events. Ametar seemed to understand and didn’t push her. He did, however, try to stop her gradual withdrawal from him.

“Is it all just because of your changing looks, Adelia?” he’d asked. “You do realize looks are deceiving, don’t you? I am not staying young, I only appear so. I am not younger than you are; I am much, much older, with all sorts of scars and burdens inside. My body may not show my age, but it’s there all the same. You don’t need to hide from me just because your body works differently.”

But Adelia couldn’t help it. She couldn’t stop seeing the difference or thinking about it. She had decided to leave when she turned sixty, and just be grateful for the extra ten years. When sixty had come, she didn’t have the heart to go. She’d changed the date several times since then.

At seventy-five, she no longer looked like his mother; she could easily pass for his grandmother. A couple of years ago, her health had begun to decline, too. Elves knew little about human aches and pains, especially those that came with old age, so they could offer no remedies.

It was time to leave. She did not want Ametar to watch her turn into a helpless creature, the sight of whom could invoke only pity or disgust.

Buy this story on Amazon or B&N.