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NeteraLong before I knew what it meant to be a writer, I thought that completing a manuscript with characters you can relate to and an impressive plot was all there was. I was wrong. That’s only half of the mission.

In writing “The Guardian,” “Altar of Freedom,” and “Deadly Reservations,” I realized that if I could give one gift to my characters it would be to make them more than dimensional, to give them emotions. More than fear of the unknown, the sadness of loss, anger of injustices. Depth. To make them give a damn and not to be afraid to show how they felt.

Never one to create your average mortal character, I have always been drawn to more powerful paranormal heroine. At first LeaNetera, the Goddess of Nature, in my Crusader books. She was interesting to write as she had to deal with many levels of equality, first as a human and then as an immortal. Then came Zoe Montgomery who can be best explained as a human with an angel’s soul. Her challenge and emotions are based on her enhanced paranormal abilities. She always knew she was different, but until a certain local detective came into her life, she really didn’t know the truth of it all. Everything in my life is based on intuitive thinking. Creating my characters is based on that same level of thinking.

71qeI-KlfiLBelow is the preface and first chapter of “Deadly Reservations” before editing. The preface was edited out and the book was changed to base it more in reality. But I thought it best to show you what happens when you give life to your characters and set them free. The edited version of the book is still available on Amazon. I would love to see it purchased. It’s available in hardcover, trade paperback and kindle. I’m writing the second book now, but more sales of “Deadly” will help make the second book in the series a reality. It’s a time travel. You can find “Deadly” on Amazon.com here.

Prologue

Archangel Michael stood in the Pantheon’s eternal garden dressed in military garb. His silver hair was tied back with a strip of leather. His gaze centered on the Holy City raised up beside the snow covered mountains a day’s ride away.

As David neared his commander, he viewed heaven’s deep green grasses, which captured weeping cherry tree petals. The mated swans, content in their pond, were the only signs of peace in the sector of the Powers. Across the vast universes, mortal unrest did not allow time for personal meditation. Like earth, David’s current assignment, there was always a sense of urgency to handle situations before they grew out of control. Strategic planning allowed the Powers to wage a new war, one of foreshadowing, action and love.

David’s commander did not turn to see his approach. A being of his standing was aware of your presence when you teleported into the sector. Archangel Michael was troubled; David sensed it by his stance, hands crossed behind his back.

“She is in love with you, even though you have never met,” claimed his Superior. “Have you intruded into the realm of her dreams, general?”

“I admit my indiscretion, sir. Patience has never been my virtue,” David confessed, as he swept his hand across his white uniform.

The ancient one turned. His silvery brow rose. His expression stern, but controlled, no doubt he was considering David’s honesty.

“You have served under me since the Dawn of Ages, followed my directions even when your soul was nearly drained. But now you walk a path I can not guide you?”

“I have never known love, until now, sir,” he admitted. “I find it extremely difficult to accept what must be so that lives can be saved.”

A northern breeze swept across the land, an omen of danger for the empathic.

“It is her fate and she accepts it and so must you,” declared  Michael. His hand now rested against the marble column, one of many supporting the Pantheon.  “You must not alter what is already in place. Allow it to run its course and it will set in motion that which is necessary to save thousands of lives.”

David nodded and then used his mind alteration abilities to replace his uniform with his mortal attire. Being a homicide detective in Mt. Lisle, Illinois wasn’t the same as commanding a battalion of angelic warriors. Still, the mission was the same: see that justice was served. Though now he wouldn’t stand alone. An angel had just walked into his life.

 

Chapter 1

The Eye of the Storm

A single vision was about to alter Zoe Montgomery’s life forever. Every detail of the detective’s murder was going to blast into reality and damn if she was going to stand by and let it happen.

A gun pressed against Zoe’s temple as she stood near the customer service desk having just entered Mt. Lisle National Bank. Her heartbeat pounded in her ears. Chaos replaced normalcy. She could taste death as the bile rose in her parched throat.

“Put the fucking gun down or I’ll blast her to hell!” demanded the bastard in a black leather coat as his arm forced her body against his. Zoe didn’t think of the gunman with the black-tinted sunglasses and a shitty attitude.

Her gaze sought out the man in her recent visions, Mr. Dark and Handsome, and damn if her earlier vision wasn’t on mark. The Italian homicide detective was an arm’s length away. She could smell his strong cologne and the metal of the armed robber’s deadly weapon threatening her entire existence. Terror quickly intensified in the mothers, seniors and a few of her favorite tellers.

“They’ll give you twenty years for armed robbery. Murder means life,” warned the dark haired detective she had seen at the cop shop but never spoken to. His brown eyes never left the bastard’s as he lowered his gun to the hardwood floor.

Zoe forced air into her lungs while the gunman kicked the pistol out of the detective’s reach. She heard a thud, but the gun didn’t go off.

“Get in front of the teller!” he ordered everyone. “You,” he motioned to the detective. “Stay the hell where you are! Everybody get on the damn floor and stay there! Keep your hands above your head! If any one hits the silent alarm, a bomb is going to go off in my safety deposit box!” He aimed his weapon at the sixty-something security guard next to her and the five tellers in front of them as they sat on the floor against the high service counter. Cries from female staff and customers rose like a warped chorus. The gunman’s head turned back to the detective. His grip loosened and his left-hand slid over the lock of his leather attaché case. A click sounded, the gold lock flipped up and the case opened. He reached in, grabbed a roll of duct tape and pressed it into Zoe’s hands. “Get the guard’s gun. Tape him, all of them, and then get your ass back here!”

Zoe rubbed her neck with one hand and grabbed the duct tape with the other. She saw the gunman reach in his jacket pocket. He pulled a set of handcuffs out and cuffed the detective before she even tore the tape. Only a few steps away from the security guard, another God blessed paranormal vision filtered into Zoe’s mind. She mentally observed a blond-haired toddler clinging to her mother as they walked in front of the bank. She sensed a bullet’s trajectory sizzling through the October air like a shard of glass, blasting through the child’s back and into the back of another pedestrian.

Reality returned as her vision ended abruptly.

One movement, as if choreographed by the devil himself, kindled an explosive turn of events. The security guard drew his revolver from his holster, pushed her down to the ground, and shot the gunman in the right shoulder. In a rage, the gunman returned fire, shooting the security guard in the chest. As the guard collapsed, wayward bullets shattered the glass entrance doors and lodged into the wall. The mother was one step away from being shot in the forehead, her child in the back. Zoe had no other alternative. She reached for the security guard’s revolver, which had slid in front of her on the floor. She aimed for the gunman’s leg before his finger squeezed the trigger that would kill the mother, her child and another person rushing to meet the train. Driven by frustration, the armed robber ran up to her and blasted the butt of his revolver into Zoe’s forehead. Her body banged backward against the wooden service counter. She struggled to recover as he neared her, his gun aimed to kill. As he began to pull the trigger, she watched him turn toward the detective, whose cuffs now hung from one wrist. How the hell that was possible she didn’t know. The gunman screamed as a bullet, at point-blank range, tore into his left shoulder.

Dizziness overcame Zoe and blackness rushed in. As the weapon dropped to the ground, a single bullet fired off into a cubicle.

 

Detective David Giovanni stared in disbelief toward his fallen angel. He feared this would happen. He was having a bitch of a day and it was only noon. In a matter of minutes all hell broke lose because a wise ass decided he wanted to rob the bank. As always, his angelic visions foretold what would be. Now, three people were down­, one either dead or not far from it, Zoe was unconscious and the third bleeding to death and screaming every obscenity in the book.

David shoved the armed robber’s gun out of reach, screamed for someone to call 9-1-1 and grabbed a baby blanket out of a customer’s stroller. Ignoring the kid’s screams, he tore the material in half, wadded it up and pressed the two sections against the shoulder wounds of the would-be robber. He threw off his brown leather jacket, took off his shirt and tied it around the gunman’s leg wound.  He had already lost a lot of blood.

“I need two people to hold down the blanket. I don’t care who you are just get over here,” he demanded, scanning the room around him.

A male teller rushed over to him and followed his orders. They probably wanted the jerk dead, but in a civilized world you save even the criminals. “The innocent die and creeps live forever,” the teller mumbled.

“Someone check the stats on the security guard?” he yelled across the room. A well-dressed bank rep was at the man’s side checking his wrist for a pulse. Another had his hand just above the older man’s mouth.

“There’s no pulse,” and “He’s not breathing,” they reported in unison as squad car and ambulance sirens screamed out in front of the two-floor white-marble bank smack in the middle of downtown Mt. Lisle, Illinois. Car doors banged closed a million times. No doubt the media was a car-length behind after hearing it on their Bearcats. EMTs and a mass of blue uniforms flooded the lobby to take control of the situation.

Screaming over the broken glass door and yet another senseless crime, Police Chief William Matthews entered the 50-year-old bank with a number of police officers. He quickly scanned the scene in front of him, forced himself into calm mode, and mentally drafted every order he could think of.

“Don’t touch a damn thing. Leave the wounded to the EMTs,” Chief Matthews ordered the civilians. Pointing to various officers, he demanded, “Bag the weapons, and separate the victims, suspects and witnesses. No communications between them. I don’t want their statements rehearsed. We want to prosecute the criminal so record the course of events to the detail. No one leaves the scene. Drummond, where the hell are you?”

“Here, sir,” said the burnt-out veteran officer behind him.

Matthews turned to the gray-haired fifty-something man. “Find out who called dispatch and where the hell is the bank president? I want signed statements from everyone as soon as they’re able to talk.”

“Yes, sir,” Drummond voiced and moved on.

“We couldn’t trip the alarm because he said he had it rigged,” David stated, while his mind worked its way out of stress mode.

Matthews gave him the once-over. No shirt, cuff marks on his wrist, blood splattered on his shirt and jacket. His gaze swept over to the unconscious blonde dressed in a long beige sweater, velvet skirt and chocolate brown cowboy boots.

“You said you were headed for lunch. Hell if this looks like McDonalds. Does it look like McDonalds to you, Reese?”

“No, sir,” piped a young recruit. He stopped taking the receptionist’s statement to observe a photographer shooting pictures of the crime scene.

The Chief, a big man in stature, and attitude, turned back to David as the Metra train’s whistle shrieked its arrival. “Damn, that whistle! I’m talking to you, Giovanni. This isn’t a freaking food joint. You’ve got some explaining to do!”

“I needed to cash my payroll check so I came here instead.” David reached over to the unconscious woman’s quilted purse near his foot. He picked it up and checked the wallet for her driver’s license.

“You couldn’t wait until after your shift to cash your check?”

“My parents need the money today,” David admitted. He had nothing to hide.

Matthews nodded in the downed woman’s direction. “You don’t know who she is and you call yourself a detective.”

“I haven’t booked her, called on her as a witness in a homicide or run into her at the grocery store. Never seen her before,” he lied.

“You don’t read the paper, either. That’s the Mt. Lisle Times Society Editor. You know the newspaper office down the street in that old brick building?” he rubbed in.

David sucked in his irritation, thumbed her yellow press pass, and took a close look at a wallet-sized family photo. A distinguished politician dressed for a black tie affair stood with his arms around Zoe Montgomery. Being that it was Randall Montgomery, a candidate for vice president, she must be the daughter no one spoke about for the past ten years. Nice little paradox that a journalist didn’t even talk to her parents.

“I think our little city just made the national headlines,” David declared, as a brace was adjusted around Zoe’s neck.

Paramedics positioned her on a transfer board and placed her on a gurney. At the entrance of the bank, the media sharks battled with microphones in hand to get the first quote for their newspaper or television station, and the coroner’s van awaited its passenger.

“Ain’t life grand?” Chief Matthews declared as the EMTs pushed their way through the crowd to get her into one of several awaiting ambulances.

“Chief, you better come here?” Drummond yelled from an open office door in the far corner of the bank. The grim look on his face said they had another situation.

“Ten to one that’s more trouble. Reese, keep them away from the office. You come with me, Giovanni. No doubt this is something you’ll be hearing about until New Years.”

David grabbed his leather jacket, put it on and told Reese to give the purse to the EMTs to take with Ms. Montgomery. He hoped her credit cards wouldn’t walk in the meantime.

Before David neared the office, his mind drafted a possibility. Had the gun that fired off a round killed someone? He remembered that it had fallen out of Zoe’s hand as she fainted. She hadn’t aimed it intentionally. It wasn’t self-defense or murder.

David shot a gaze into the conference room, a door from where Chief Matthews stood, looking impatient as always. The interest rates were barely a reality and yet the bank’s furniture looked expensive with every curve of modern ergonomic design. How the hell could that be fair?

“Ain’t that the way of the world,” he mumbled while passing the conference room and finally coming to a stop beside the Chief.

Chief Matthews pointed to the dead man. “That’s why the boss wasn’t seen during the robbery,” Matthews said. “He isn’t going anywhere but the morgue.” A second later he was calling the Medical Examiner into the room to confirm the man’s death.

Matthews was right, the office wasn’t occupied by the living. Slumped over a sleek cherry wood desk was 45-year-old Michael Sinclair face down on a pile of bound reports. There was a thin, metal gray cell phone in his right hand and a midnight blue executive pen in the other. Not a window, chair, framed motivational photograph or computer print out on his desk looked disturbed. No blood sprayed into ghastly patterns on the beige walls or pools of crimson on his desk pad. Cause of death appeared to be a heart attack, but that wasn’t always the blasted truth.

The Chief shook his head. “Hell of a way to start off a day,” he mumbled. “Get the security tape, Giovanni, and call Reynolds in here. This is his case now. You’re acting only as a witness. Get over to the station and write your report. Be prepared for the Shooting Review Board. I don’t want to see you until 9 a.m. tomorrow. If you were smart, you’d see a shrink because you’re going to need one.” He watched the criminal investigative team come to shoot pictures, take prints and look for signs of foul play in case Sinclair didn’t die of natural causes.

David knew the program about post-traumatic stress and every damn thing involved after a crime wedges into reality. It was time to call the security guard’s next of kin. What a bitch of a job it was going to be telling his loved ones that he was shot to death trying to be a hero.

That thought stayed with him as he walked back into the lobby. With the steady stream of movement from officers taking statements, calming down those in a state of shock and EMTs leaving with the wounded, David reentered the chaos. He caught sight of the second wave of insanity, which now filled the streets. The curious, the media hounds and relatives were being pushed away from the door. Digital cameras flashed and questions rained into the bank’s lobby. By now his mortal mother knew he was in the middle of it all. She had a way of finding things out through her network of restaurant regulars.

The simple request to acquire the security tape bought him a ticket out of the bank and into more familiar territory. First obstacle, though, was getting past the crowd without making a scene. After he wrote his report, he would head to the emergency room at Mt. Lisle General. There was a certain blonde he had to thank for saving his life.

Who I am…

Denise Fleischer resides in Illinois, but prefers to believe she can go anywhere in the universe. The majority of the time she can be found at home writing her next book or at the Journal & Topics Newspapers. She is the author of “The Guardian,” “Altar of Freedom” and “Deadly Reservations,” a paranormal thriller. Her work in progress is “The Sharp Edge of Truth,” a sequel to “Deadly,” with a time travel format. Denise’s interest in time travel and the paranormal began with “The Time Tunnel” and “Dark Shadows” television shows. When Denise isn’t writing the next Zoe Montgomery adventure, she’s reading cozy mysteries for review, watching historical dramas, working on Unforgettable Magazine, gottawritenetwork.wordpress.com and interviewing musicians on secondlife.com.

 

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