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Lorelei Confer: Coming April 16th — Deadly Lessons
Sunday, April 14th, 2019

This one’s out on Tuesday! Check out Lorelei Confer’s Deadly Lessons!

Deadly Lessons

Lexi Morris, late to a Human Trafficking awareness seminar at her job and distracts Luke Miller, the presenter, an FBI Special Agent on the Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force/Coalition in central Pennsylvania. Their eyes meet and an instant connection occurs.

After a long day, Lexi walks to her car in a dimly lit parking lot while texting plans for a fun weekend but her weekend comes to a crashing halt when she‘s abducted with the intentions of being sold into sex slavery.
Luke, at his cabin in the woods for the weekend, observes suspicious activity at his late uncle’s cabin. When he investigates, he finds Lexi held captive and rescues her but not before engaging in a shootout with traffickers. He sets off on foot in a snowstorm, Lexi in tow, seeking the safety of his own cabin with her kidnappers in hot pursuit.

But is it simply coincidence when Lexi finds money, lots of money, in his jacket pocket? Is Luke her buyer and not her liberator? What will it take for her to trust him? Can he really protect her from a life of sex slavery?

Buy Links:

About the Author

Lorelei Confer lives on a peninsula in the mid west coast of Florida with her high school sweetheart, now husband, and AJ, her longhaired Chihuahua.

In the fourth grade, she wrote her first story—something about getting a shot at the doctors—that was produced by the teacher for parents and students in an assembly. When she was older, she spilled her guts in a journal every night and wrote long newsy love letters to Viet Nam.

She is a multi published hybrid author of romantic suspense with two series: the Deadly series and the Saddle Creek series. She also has written numerous novellas and short stories.

She loves to hear from her readers so if you want to stay “in the know” visit her website, sign up for her newsletters and contact her.

Amazon Author Page

Real Life Celebration!
Saturday, April 13th, 2019

Quick news! Won’t keep you long. After all the sad news lately, we needed a reason to celebrate. Yesterday, my lovely SIL graduated from the police academy! Here he is for a celebratory pic! Congrats, Dex and Kelly! And you know, I’ll have to start a new series about small town cops in the rural South now that I have the inside track… 🙂

Kate Hill: Horror Movie Romance
Friday, April 12th, 2019

One of my favorite hobbies is watching horror movies. I like all kinds, from silent black and white classics to the latest releases. I like the suspense, the often unbelievable characters and plots, and the creepy atmosphere. One of my favorite parts of the horror genre is the romance. Though not all horror movies involve romance, some of the best fictional romances are from horror movies. I have a long list of favorites, but these are three I would like to share and recommend to those who like romance with horror.

Mutants – In this movie, a wife tries to save her husband who has been infected with a zombie virus. The love between the characters is obvious and touching, even when things get really ugly.

Crimson Peak – This movie is really more dark romance than horror. It has appealing characters and a dangerous love triangle or two. It’s also one of the most visually beautiful horror movies I’ve seen.

Bone Tomahawk – This mixed genre movie has more than a few unbelievable moments, but the idea of a guy with a severe leg injury crossing a desert to rescue his wife from cannibals made this work for me. It satisfies my taste for both horror and romance. The biggest plus was the ending. Few horror romances are ultimately this satisfying.

Are you a horror movie fan? Do you like romance with your horror? If you do, what horror romances do you recommend? I’d love to know so that I can add them to my watch list.

Demon’s Grotto

Dark Fantasy, Paranormal Romance

Ben wants Laura to reconsider staying overnight at Demon’s Grotto, and he has information about the club’s history that should convince her. He tells her three creepy love stories, hoping she will change her mind.

Rise of the Creature – When a mad doctor brings a dead man back to life, only his beautiful assistant can make that life worth living.

The Demon Within – A man on the run stops to rest at a rooming house, not knowing that it’s the hunting ground of a gorgeous succubus bent on devouring handsome guests.

Don’t Cry, Wolf – An ad for a maintenance man at a bed and breakfast is answered by a former soldier who is harboring a hairy secret. The business’s lovely co-owner becomes involved with this sullen hunk who’s more than she imagined possible.

After hearing these stories of love and murder, will Laura decide to spend the night at Demon’s Grotto?

About Kate Hill

Always a fan of romance and the paranormal, Kate Hill started writing over twenty years ago for pleasure. Her first story, a short erotic vampire tale, was accepted for publication in 1996. Since then she has sold over one hundred short stories, novellas, and novels.

When she’s not working on her books, Kate enjoys reading, working out, spending time with her family and pets and running the Compelling Beasts Blog, dedicated to antagonists, antiheroes, and paranormal creatures. She also writes under the name Saloni Quinby. Connect with her online at,, and

Brent Archer: Loss, The Village, and Saving Parker
Thursday, April 11th, 2019

Over the last year and a half, I’ve developed an intimate relationship with grief and loss. Among several passings of family, friends, and colleagues, my family lost our beloved grandmother last year, and my amazing uncle at the end of last month. A few evenings ago, I attended the memorial for a friend who we lost to cancer at the end of February, and I was struck by something one of the speakers said. Our friend had been a long-time and well-known member of the folk dance community in Seattle. The speaker talked about the “village” coming together to help the family both financially and in any way to help ease his journey to whatever was next for him. Up until and through the night he died, the village came out to sing, play music, and bring food and relief to him and his family. Her comments reminded me about the village I had for each loss. Our family rallied around both our grandmother and my uncle as they declined and left us. Friends in the acting community came together to offer support to each other for the fairly sudden losses of two of our colleagues in the last year. And the village came together to throw one hell of a wake for our dear friend in the dance community. He said to “Dance every day,” and that evening, we danced in his honor.

Over the course of the last year, I considered the loss of my grandmother and the impending loss of my uncle while writing Saving Parker. Our protagonist, Parker Rice, is dealt a difficult hand. His father died a hero in the military when he was eight, and his mother never got over her husband’s death. Parker further deals with the loss of his mother, first emotionally when she refuses to protect him through a parade of physically abusive men culminating in the worst of them, Earl, taking her away physically. Alone and closed off, he has a hard time trusting anyone. As the novel continues, Parker suffers more losses, but he finds a village of people ready to lift him up. People who would do anything for him and believed in him even in his darkest hours. Parker discovers the mechanisms to deal with each loss and push forward to improve his life and situation with the help of his friends and the man he finds to love.

The fifth installment of the Rain City Tales, Saving Parker, is now available for download on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo. Saving Parker follows Parker Rice, an abandoned and abused thief who needs a second chance, and the attorney with the unconventional family, Anthony Swifson, who falls hard for him but can’t reconcile the eleven years between them. Stay tuned for Rain City Tales Book 6: Song of Salvation due out in July 2019.

Saving Parker

You can order the first Rain City Tales story, The Officer’s Siren, here, Rain City Tales 2, Past Secrets Present Danger, here; Rain City Tales 3, I’m Yours, here; and Rain City Tales 4, The Wedding Weekend, here. Checkout Brent’s website for more details on upcoming books.


Sunlight streamed through the open blinds of the window, shining against Parker’s closed eyelids. He turned and opened them with a groan. The events of the prior evening flooded his thoughts, and he endured another round of shivers. Even with Anthony’s assurances, Parker didn’t believe for a moment Earl wouldn’t be back.

With a deep breath, he collected his wits and pushed himself up to sit, dangling his legs off the bed. He stared out of the window, taking in the blue sky and the clouds pushing their way across. A cool breeze blew in through the open window, and Parker tugged the blanket around his shoulders. He rose and closed the window, staring across the lush, green lawn to the guest house. A few windows stood open, but he saw no sign of Anthony.

Turning away, he let the blanket fall. He pulled on the boxer briefs next to the bed. Shuffling into the bathroom, his feet met the cold, tiled floor. With a flinch, he stepped onto the small rug and stared into the mirror over the sink. An angry, purple bruise adorned the spot between his collarbone and the left side of his neck. He turned and found four more between his neck and shoulder where Earl’s fingers had dug in. The rest of his bruises from the prior week’s kicks had largely disappeared, but the fresh marks heightened Parker’s anxiety that his mother’s boyfriend would return to exact revenge for the arrest and the injuries.

A soft knock at the door drew his attention. Anthony’s voice filtered into the bedroom. “Parker? Are you okay?”

“Fine,” he called and shuffled back to the bed. He grabbed the T-shirt he’d worn the prior evening and pulled it over his head. “You can come in if you want.”

The bedroom door opened to reveal Anthony in a long-sleeved pullover and jeans. “How are you doing this morning?” He stepped inside, but kept his distance, his gaze raking over Parker’s legs.

Parker sat on the bed, staring at the floor. “I’m fine.” He felt the wall of his defenses go up. Even if Anthony never laid a hand on Parker, he would still abandon him like all the others. He fidgeted with his fingers.

“You don’t look okay,” Anthony replied, his voice soothing and patient. “Want to tell me what you’re thinking?”

With a shake of his head, Parker pushed onto his feet. “I should get a shower.”

“Parker.” Anthony’s voice hardened. “Please sit down and tell me what’s going on.”

The tone brooked no argument, so Parker returned to the bed. He continued to stare at the floor but said nothing.

Anthony stepped across the room and sat on the edge of the bed. Though within reach of Parker, he kept a respectful distance between them. “You’re thinking about Primack, right?”

Parker nodded, not wanting to discuss the situation but also not wanting to lie. After Anthony had stuck up for him and decked Earl, Parker had enough respect for the attorney not to withhold the truth.

“I’m not sure how to convince you that he can’t hurt you anymore, but can you trust me to follow through on my promise?” Anthony’s calm voice and soothing tone broke a hole in the brick wall Parker had erected.

A breath caught in Parker’s throat. “Trusting guys hasn’t worked out for me.”

With a sigh, Anthony brought a hand to his shoulder, the now familiar gesture adding a modicum of comfort. “I understand. It takes time to build up trust, but I think we’ve both gotten off to a good start. You saved my life last night.”

Parker hazarded a glance at Anthony. “I couldn’t let him hurt you.”

“Why not?”

Hesitating, Parker considered why he’d rushed to Anthony’s defense instead of fleeing the house. He’d never been able to protect himself, but the thought of Earl hurting Anthony stoked an anger he’d never experienced before. This man who hadn’t turned him in to the police, who’d fussed over his bruises and had taken him to the hospital, and most importantly, who’d defended him from his abuser. Anthony cared like his dad had cared.

But even his father had abandoned him.

The barrier he’d erected sealed again, shutting Anthony out, and Parker dropped his gaze. “You’re a nice guy. It wasn’t a big deal.”

Anthony frowned. “Yeah, it was. You put yourself in danger for me. Like it or not, you’re stuck with me, at least until we can get you into college.” He removed his hand from Parker’s shoulder. “In the meantime, I’ve made us breakfast.”

Parker’s traitorous stomach rumbled its approval.

With a chuckle, Anthony strode to the door. “Come down when you’re ready. I’ve got biscuits and gravy with poached eggs and link sausages. Sound good?”

After another stomach rumble, Parker sighed. “I’ll be down in a minute.” Once Anthony had left the room, Parker tugged off the T-shirt and moved to his duffle. He couldn’t trust Anthony not to abandon him. Just finish your sentence and move on. Story of your life.

About Brent

Brent Archer began writing in 2011 at the nudging of his cousins. His first story sold, and he was hooked! Keep up with Brent Archer and his current releases at his website, and follow him on Twitter: @brentarcherwrit.

J.A. Kazimer: CUFFED — A Detective Goldie Locks Mystery
Wednesday, April 10th, 2019

When I started writing CUFFED: A Detective Goldie Locks Mystery I had a picture in mind for an adult version of Goldie Locks, based on the fairytale character, with long flowing blonde locks and an impulsiveness that gets her in constant trouble. But finding just the right hero proved harder.

Would her perfect happily ever after be with Beau White or Jack B. Nimble?

Beau White checks all the boy-next-door boxes. While being the fairest man in all the land, he loves Goldie beyond compare, and even had earned the respect of the Bears, her adoptive parents.

Though her history with the tarnished Jack B. Nimble, as well as his bad boy looks, made him a dark horse. Whereas he professes his desire for her, can Goldie trust a man who spent the last fifteen years of his life running cons across all five kingdoms? After all, he’s had one too many faked spills down hills for Goldie’s peace of mind.

If only I had a fairy godmother like that snobby Cinderella to help me choose…

Which romantic hero appeals to you most?
The Boy-Next-Door or the Bad Boy?

CUFFED: A Detective Goldie Locks Mystery


Detective Goldie Locks isn’t looking for just the right bed. Or any bed for that matter.

She’s on the hunt for a killer.

When she discovers the fingerprints of a once-upon-a-time lover, a man who jumped over a candlestick and out a window to leave her facing some serious trespassing trouble alone, at a crime scene, she vows to see him in handcuffs.

Jack B. Nimble has other ideas.

He threatens her adoptive family if Goldie doesn’t help him clear his villainous name, much to the chagrin of her current boyfriend and quite possibly the next mayor, Beau White, the fairest man in all the land.

Trying to prove his innocence turns out to be harder than she expected, especially when Jack refuses to aid in his defense, and instead, starts a campaign to ‘win’ her back. Goldie might be a blond, but she’s far from dumb enough to fall for his charms a second time.

Or so she tells herself every time his lips meet hers.

The deeper she plows into the rabbit hole and Jack’s soul, the more she learns about his motives for returning to the city—Destroying her perfectly crafted life.

About the Author

J.A. Kazimer lives in Denver, CO. When she isn’t looking for a place to hide the bodies, she devotes her time to playing with a pup named Killer. Other hobbies include murdering houseplants. She spent a few years stalking people while working as a private investigator before transitioning to the moniker of WRITER and penning over 15 titles. Visit her website at and sign up for her THIS LITTLE PIGGY WENT TO MURDER Newsletter.


Reminder! These contests are still open!
Wednesday, April 10th, 2019

This is just a quick note to remind you to enter these three contests before they close!

  1. Roxanne D. Howard: When You Close Your Eyes (Contest)
  2. Getting back into the swing…? Not so much (Contest)
  3. Flashback: Lost Souls (Contest)
Flashback: Lost Souls (Contest)
Tuesday, April 9th, 2019

Maybe you only know me as a writer of action-adventure/military heroes/cowboys — Uncharted SEALs, Montana Bounty Hunters, Texas Cowboys, etc. — but I also write paranormal romances. They are, in fact, what I love writing most. I began with my Night Fall vamps and weres, moved on the write more vamps, weres, and ancient demigods in the Dark Realm series, and have written witches coupled with various forms of shapeshifters for my Beaux Rêve Coven series, but the two stories I feel are my best in the genre are my Caitlyn O’Connell stories, Shattered Souls and Lost Souls.

Today, I’m introducing you to Lost Souls. Here’s what it’s about…

Private Investigator Caitlyn O’Connell is tapped by Memphis PD to discover who has been using a Memphis hotel as his killing ground. Women are going missing, and their bodies are found inside the walls of the hotel. But the bodies themselves? They appear to have been murdered in the distant past. With ghosthunters and cops crawling all over the crime scene, Cait and her detective ex-husband Sam Pierce race to find the demon responsible before he kills again.

Now, that doesn’t even begin to describe a book that delivers one of the biggest shocks I’ve ever written. Enjoy the excerpt below!

Comment for a chance to win a download of one of my
Caitlyn O’Connell stories!

Lost Souls

Darkness sank as murky as the sultry summer air, as heavy as a blanket pulled over a child’s head to hide the monsters lurking in a shadowy closet. Street lamps popped and sizzled, darkening then lightening, but failing to flare bright enough or long enough to chase away deep pockets of inky black. Cait was creeped out, since all she had were glimpses of silvery light from a full moon rimming buildings and casting deeper shadows to cloak alleyways and doorway stoops.

Another full moon. An event she was acutely aware encouraged monsters, both human and supernatural, to come out and play. Edgy and beyond bored, she almost wished for something out of the ordinary to happen, but then quickly changed her mind. The last time her job had given her a real challenge she’d battled a demon in an attic while a wraith latched its freezing fingertips around the man sitting beside her, slapping him around like a rag doll.

For just a second, she relished that last memory. At least Jason had been awake.

For the umpteen thousandth time that night, Caitlyn O’Connell sighed. This time exaggerating the sound. Loudly. Actually, more of a groan than a sigh. A sound that invited Jason Crawford, lying back in the seat beside hers, to wake up and keep her company. She was bored as freaking shit. Surveillance was the one part of her job she truly hated. In fact, she thought she might like having her ingrown toenails cut better than sitting in a dark alley waiting for something to happen.

The weather irritated her even more. Although she’d stripped down to a tank top and jeans, the insides of her boots were damp from the oppressive summer heat. Not a trace of a breeze stirred, and they’d shut off the sedan’s engine to be able to hear vehicles approaching, so the AC sat silent.

What good was having magic if she couldn’t even muster up a spell to start a breeze? She’d tried waving, punching, wiggling her nose, but nada. Worse, she’d tried to come up with a poem to appease The Powers That Be, but hadn’t found a line that sounded even remotely elegant with “wheeze” tacked on the end.

She supposed she’d used up her last favor asking for intervention with Worthen’s monstrosity, the Civil War–era demon resurrected in his tomb, for which she’d had to beg The Powers and a certain sorcerer for help defeating. Or perhaps they didn’t like how she’d ignored Morin since she’d fought the demon and won. Whatever. She was a PI, not a witch. And right now, she had a job to do.

So why couldn’t she and Jason be watching the Peabody Hotel? Or any of the nicer hotels in the downtown area? The Deluxe Hotel was anything but deluxe. The marquee above the entrance was missing a few letters and read, DELUXE HO, which on second thought appeared apropos for the sleazy dive.

The whole area had an aura of neglect. Trash overfilled bins and cluttered the gutters. Worse, a small tattered sign was taped to the hotel’s glass door: AA MEETING, 9 PM SATURDAY.

Mocking her. The very thing her ex-husband, and now sometimes boyfriend, had been nagging her to locate.

And worse yet, the car she sat in reeked of stale onion-and-anchovy pizza. If she didn’t know him better, she might have thought her partner had ordered it on purpose. But he’d munched away happily, while she’d chosen to drag in the scents from the overfilled bin they’d parked beside. Better unknown trash than fishy-smelling onion breath.

Her cheeks billowed around another harsh exhalation. How the hell could Jason sleep through all the noise she’d been making? She aimed a scowl his way, caught the quick lowering of his eyelids and a twitch at the side of his lips.

She gave a grunt and turned back to watch the entrance of the seedy old hotel where Mrs. Oscar Reyes was scheduled to meet up with her boy-toy. Or so Mr. Reyes had informed them this morning after hacking into his wife’s Facebook account.

“Get me pictures of the bitch,” he’d said, clearing his throat when Cait had given him a narrow-eyed glare. “I won’ believe it ’til I see.”

She’d eyed his oily hair, brushy mustache, and stocky frame and wondered why he was so surprised his wife had sought the attention of a lover who called her his “mariposa rubia.”

“Blonde butterfly,” Jason had translated under his breath since Cait’s Spanish was limited to curses.

Oscar Reyes was the typical slimy client they attracted—spouses seeking ammunition for divorce court, employers wanting an employee followed for proof they hadn’t been injured badly enough to warrant workmen’s comp.

Since Oscar had already done the legwork and found cyberproof of his wife’s infidelity, Cait wondered why the hell he’d hired them to snap the shots. A $500 retainer plus their hourly fee would rack up quite a bill in no time. But she’d refrained from asking him.

The nice fat check they’d gotten from the Memphis PD for helping find her first partner’s killer and three young women who’d been kidnapped by a demon hadn’t lasted long. So she and Jason were back hustling for smaller fish.

Which reminded her again of the half-eaten pizza in the backseat.

Ready to pitch the box into the trash bin, she paused when headlights flared as a car turned onto South Front Street. A low-slung sedan stopped in front of the hotel.

Cait waited for the beams to extinguish, and then raised her camera with its night-vision lens and took a look. Just as Oscar had predicted, Sylvia Reyes stepped out of the car, her bleached-blonde hair neon bright in the viewfinder. She wore an ass-hugging mini-skirt, four-inch heels, and a top that rode the curves of her full breasts.

Cait clicked off a couple of shots of the woman entering the hotel, then reached out and backhanded Jason’s belly. “Time to move.”

“Mmm, wha’?” he said, pretending to waken from a deep sleep.

She rolled her eyes. “Like you’ve been sleeping? It’s Reyes’s wife. Let’s follow and see if we can catch her with her boyfriend.”

“Sound grumpy.” Jason flashed her a smile. “The anchovies gettin’ to you?”

She shrugged, pretending the stench hadn’t made her slightly nauseous. “It’s your car. The smell’ll be here for a week.”

With quiet moves, they opened their doors. Cait quickly replaced the special lens and hung the camera on her shoulder before jogging to the entrance. She pushed through the grimy glass, lifted her head in a vague nod to the clerk at the reception desk, and walked to the elevators, eying the red digital numbers above the doors. There were two elevators. Only one was moving, and it stopped and held at floor three.

She elbowed past two men and a woman laden with cameras and equipment bags. One held out a device Cait thought might be a light meter, but she changed her mind when a red light beeped on the top and it clicked like a Geiger counter.

“Do you see that?” the chubby man with a Fu Manchu said, elbowing the skinny dude beside him. “We’ve got something here.”

“Told you there’s lots of activity in this old place.”

Activity? She eyed them again, read the logo on their bags, and rolled her eyes. REEL PIS: PARANORMAL INVESTIGATORS. As if. She stuck her finger in the elevator button, doing her best to ignore the morons. She hadn’t heard so much as a whisper or a wail since she’d entered the hotel.

“Faster goin’ up the stairs,” Jason said, pulling her arm with one hand and pointing toward the stairway door. He flipped the door handle and pushed through. “After you,” he said with a flourish of his hand. His grin said he knew how much she disliked racing up three flights.

She gave him the stink-eye and started the climb. When she reached the third-floor landing, she glanced through the door’s rectangular window, saw no one in the hallway, and opened the door.

The corridor smelled as bad as it looked—urine to complement the yellowed beige walls, mildew to enhance the brown-and-green plaid carpet.

Gasping to catch her breath, she looked left, then right, and caught a flash of impossibly blonde hair a moment before Sylvia Reyes turned the corner farther down the hallway. Cait hurried after her, on the scent of a woman about to cheat on her husband. She turned the corner, entering a hallway marked by a door frame for a double door that no longer existed. The corridor was empty. No room doors along the short hall closed to indicate where their target had gone.

Jason drew up beside her, his eyebrows rising. “What now? Listen for moaning?”

Giving him a shove, she took a step past the hallway door frame, and then halted, some instinct keeping her from pushing forward. Or maybe what stopped her was the yellow police tape covering one of the doors. Not something she had time to ponder right that moment because a strange hum sounded. A bulb popped, plunging the hallway into darkness. The hairs on her arms lifted a second before electricity arced from a light switch, sending out a bolt like lightning that shot toward the ceiling, then turned, traveling toward her, hitting doorways as though searching for ground. The jagged dagger of electricity darted, then blinked out, but not before she saw a figure, one in four-inch hot pink heels, her eyes rounding in terror—a figure she could see straight through to the piss-yellow wall behind her.

Darkness took the figure. Then another hissing arc flared from the light switch, brightening the hallway again. Sylvia Reyes was gone.

Jason grabbed her arm, pulled her back around the corner, and flattened her against the wall with an elbow digging into her belly.

The white bolt flickered past the corner, then dove to the floor, sparking out with a fizzle.

“Bad wiring?” he whispered.

She shook her head, shoved away his elbow, and stepped into the hall again. The faint smell of something burning lingered in the air. The hall was once again empty. And dark.

Cait held still, listening, and then she heard the sound. A soft wail. Like a distant echo. “Hear that?” she whispered.

“No. What do you hear?”

She swallowed. “Not anyone living.”

Then the faint sound of whispers rose, maybe half a dozen voices joining in chorus. Her hand dropped to the camera at her side. She flipped off the lens cap, raised the camera, and looked through the viewfinder. Nothing out of the ordinary, other than a really sleazy flophouse. Still, she clicked off a couple of shots. “Let’s go.”

“Don’t want to wait around until she leaves? A shot of the lady kissing her boyfriend good-bye would close this case.”

Cait shook her head, not wanting to voice what she suspected. Not before she was sure of exactly what she’d seen. “No. Let’s get back to the office. I have to look at something.”

Jason knew her well enough not to ask any more questions. The fact she was cutting the surveillance short told him they had a problem.

This time they took the elevator. The sooner she got out of here the better. Well, she’d gotten what she’d wished for. Something out of the ordinary had definitely happened.

Back at the Delta Detective Agency, Cait slipped the memory card from her camera into the slot in her computer. With a couple of clicks, she found the file of pictures and opened it.

There was Sylvia Reyes outside the Deluxe, her small cat-like features coated in too much makeup, her coarse blonde hair flattened to rest limply on her shoulders. Her expression was furtive, but excitement sparkled in her dark eyes. Another shot caught her too-tight skirt hugging her J-Lo butt. Then Cait clicked on the last two shots, unsure what she might see inside the third-floor hallway. Maybe nothing. Maybe something she didn’t want to see.

The shot showed an empty hallway. The photo was blurred, but the differences between the hall’s actual appearance and what was on the computer screen was startling. Gone were the yellowed walls and crappy brown and green carpet. In its place was wallpaper—a foiled gold-and-wine-colored paisley. The carpet was a solid blood red. The fixtures—lights, switches, brass plates on the door—were shiny and new.

“Where’d you take that?” Jason asked, hovering at her shoulder.

“At the Deluxe,” she said, closing out the file. She suppressed a shiver of dread.

“No kiddin’? How come I didn’t see that?”

She didn’t dare look his way. He’d see her shock and ask more questions. Questions she didn’t have any quick answers for.

“Tacky as hell, but—”

She gave a sharp shake of her head. “That’s not the way it is.” At last, she shot an upward glance.

Jason pushed out his lips. His gaze settled on her, waiting.

She knew he wouldn’t let her up from the chair until she gave him at least a clue of what was going on in her head. “It’s the way the hotel was.”

His gaze narrowed. “What do you mean?”

She rubbed a hand over her face. “I don’t know what I mean.”

A frown dug a line between his blond-brown brows. “I don’t think Reyes is going to pay us for those shots or our time since we didn’t get what he wanted.”

“Reyes is the least of our problems,” she muttered.

Jason groaned. “It was the anchovies, right? This is your revenge?”

Her mouth tipped up into a smirk. “You think this is all about you? Poor little rich boy.”

He shook his head, grinning, but the fine lines beside his hazel eyes deepened with worry. “Since this case looks like major woo-woo is involved, you have the lead. Where to first?”

Cait grimaced. Once again, she had no doubt they were headed straight down the rabbit’s hole. “I need to talk to Sam about that taped-off room.”