Time for an excerpt. You can read the first chapter of the book on amazon.com by typing Deadly Reservations, click the cover of my book. It will take you to its page. Then click on the kindle version for an on-screen or on your kindle sample. Or just read what’s below. The book is available in hardcover, kindle, of course, and soon trade paperback.
Read on and hope you are dying to read more:
in High Places
David battled demons for centuries in endless wars. Now a new
enemy had cast his shadow on the face of the Earth. Its name
was Mathias, who had long ago abandoned his rank among The
Powers and fallen from grace.
Thirty years ago, David emerged in mortal time on Earth, his soul born as a human named David Giovanni. His new mission was to protect the Archangel Michael’s own daughter, who also had come to Earth born in human form as Zoe Montgomery. Specifically, David’s orders were to protect Zoe from Mathias.
By day, David worked among those that served justice. In a northwestern suburb of Chicago, he served as a homicide detective, located only one building away from where Zoe worked as the lifestyles editor for the Mt. Lisle Times, located in an historic 1940’s renovated post office building.
Cloaked by invisibility, David watched Zoe from a rooftop, following her departing down the steps from her newspaper office toward the Mt. Lisle National Bank. She had no idea what path destiny chose for her nor David’s role in her own divine mission.
Teleportation landed David in an alley inches from a stray cat. It ran away the moment he reappeared into the visible world. Ignoring the frightened cat, David walked the short distance to the front entrance of the bank. Zoe was pulling open the door as he fell in behind her. His hand reached for the handle on the cold glass pane, holding the door as she entered the warm foyer. Zoe smiled and thanked him before walking toward the service desk.
“I have a ten o’clock appointment with Michael Sinclair,” Zoe informed the female bank attendant. “Can you please tell him I’m here?”
“We’ve been told to expect you and Detective Giovanni,” she said, then dialed Sinclair’s extension.
Zoe turned toward David. Her blonde hair rested on her shoulders. Her blues eyes were questioning, but not cold.
“Michael never mentioned that a detective would be in the meeting.”
David replied, “Nor did he inform me that he invited the press.”
Zoe thanked the attendant and together they walked down the corridor to Sinclair’s small but adequate office. He opened the door, shook their hands and then sat back down at his cherry wood desk.
“Please, have a seat. I promise not to keep you too long. I know what your schedules are like,” he said. Sinclair picked up his Mont Blanc pen and began nervously tapping it on his legal pad.
The action annoyed David and distracted Zoe.
“Is this off the record or do I have your permission to inform my boss about it?” Zoe asked.
He dropped his pen on the pad.
“No, it’s off the record,” he said abruptly. “I’m already being threatened. I shouldn’t even involve you both, but I don’t know who else to turn to.”
“I’m obviously not here to cover an After Hours program for the Times or to assist in the recovery of a lost person through my agency,” Zoe said. “What’s making you so nervous that you can’t sit still?”
“If this is to report forgery or armed robbery you need to speak with the FBI because this is a federal institution,” David added.
Michael shook his head. His frustration was evident. “The agent I spoke to called me a conspiracy theorist. These damn threats I’m getting are telling me I’m not insane.”
Zoe reached over the desk and set her hand on Michael’s. A twinge of jealousy coursed through David.
Zoe was genuinely concerned. “Michael, you know I’ll help you in any way I can. I’m just not sure if I’m qualified.”
Sinclair stood, nearly knocking down his empty coffee mug in the process. He walked toward a matching cabinet and poured himself a new cup. “Would either of you like a cup of coffee? It seems to be the only thing that helps me relax these days.”
Zoe shook her head. “No thanks, I only drink tea.”
David barely raised his hand. “I’m fine.”
Two sugar cubes were dropped into the steaming beverage along
with a teaspoon of powdered creamer. Sinclair briefly stirred. With careful steps, he walked back to his desk, lowered his cup to the coaster and sat back down.
It was when Zoe’s hand slid down to her wrist that David got a
glimpse of an unusual-looking wire bracelet. Instinct whispered that it wasn’t what it appeared to be.
Michael leaned forward in his desk. “You’re aware of the fact that I’m this bank’s manager and a Mt. Lisle alderman. What you don’t know is that there have been a number of executive sessions held of late, and what’s going on behind those closed doors is highly unethical.”
“Was it the mayor’s idea or the city council’s?” David asked.
“It was Mayor Morelli’s recommendation. It wouldn’t appear to be anything out of the ordinary until you scanned the Internet and noticed a nation-wide movement to redevelop small towns. Simply said, all properties that are regarded antiquated and not registered as a historical landmark are being condemned and a real estate developer is offering what’s purported to be a fair market price. Now, for two months, an associate of mine and I have attempted to trace the paper and electronic trail of the developer doing this. Not even with my connections in mortgages were we able to identify the individual. When I brought it to the mayor’s attention, he told me I had a lot to lose if I leaked such information.”
Zoe asked, “Why not just deny the fact that he was aware of the situation at all? He clearly admitted his involvement.”
“He obviously doesn’t find you as a threat,” David said. “Though I have to ask you, have there been any unusual situations that you were concerned about?”
“Let me see if I can remember them all,” Michael said sarcastically. “Harassing phone calls in the middle of the night. My tires have all been slashed. And my garage burned down.”
And that’s when the vision came.
Zoe’s attention veered past Sinclair, or perhaps through him. She was staring at the cabinet where the coffee machine was. Her head tilted slightly and then returned to the desk. Suddenly her expression became a mask of pure fear. She abruptly knocked the hot drink out of Sinclair’s hand mere seconds before his lips touched the rim of the mug. She screamed as the coffee poured down her hand and sleeve.
“Why the hell did you do that?” Michael yelled.
Furious for not reacting sooner, David shifted into medic mode and rushed Zoe over to Michael’s small office sink. The best thing he could do to help relieve the pain inflicted by the scalding hot coffee would be to run cold water over her hand.
“There’s poison in the creamer, Michael. I saw you die,” she choked the words out as the searing pain in her hand grew more intense. She shook her head, tears rolling down her cheek as she silently endured the pain.
Michael gazed down at his stained desk blotter clearly in shock as a security officer and David’s secretary entered the room to investigate the situation.
Michael’s office quickly turned into a crime scene. David scanned the scene in front of him, forcing himself to calm down and mentally drafting the appropriate procedure. He first had to deal with Zoe’s injury, then notify the appropriate authorities, and finally to calm down the bank staff and patrons. Achieving all of that without panic would be nearly impossible.
“Don’t touch anything, please try to keep calm, and listen carefully,” David told the secretary and security guard. “We have reason to believe that a crime has been committed in this office. I have to call it in. No one leaves the bank until Chief Matthews arrives and gives his approval.”
“We’ve been here all morning. The only thing questionable was her scream,” the middle-aged security guard said.
“And that scream is the reason your boss is still alive,” David mumbled. “Get out there and get everyone seated in the lobby. You don’t say a word about what I’ve told you,” he ordered.
The secretary and guard left to do as requested.
“Michael, I don’t want you touching anything on your desk. Just come over here and keep Zoe’s hand under the cold water for me,” he demanded firmly.
Sounds of distress and anger began filtering into the room. David ignored the natural response, flipped open his cell phone and called 911.
Because the police station was only a block away, the arrival of squad cars and an ambulance were heard in front of the two-floor white-marble bank in a matter of minutes. Car doors banged closed. No doubt the media was a car-length behind after being alerted to it on their radio scanners. EMTs and a mass of blue uniforms could be heard entering the lobby.
Seconds later, Chief Matthews entered the room with Detective Sean Reynolds and Special Agent Matt Jameson at his side. Reynolds thought he knew everything and Jameson was an FBI agent working on a special case with the chief.
“What evidence do you have to warrant a lock down and scaring
these people half to death?” asked the chief, who could intimidate even a veteran officer.
“Ms. Montgomery believes someone tried to poison Mr. Sinclair. She knocked the coffee cup out of his hand after having one of her visions. Ten to one you’re going to find traces of it in the creamer,” David informed them.
Chief Matthews shook his head. “Get the security tape, Reynolds. Jameson, call your boss. Ms. Montgomery has been commissioned to work with us in the past. I don’t understand her gift or visions, but I respect it. The agency is justified in assuming the case.”
When Agent Jameson shot a look toward Zoe, David knew she was
surely in the center of the investigation. Special Agent Brian Novelli’s presence at the police station, reviewing police reports and tracking the mayor were obviously for the same reason—i.e. they were all searching for Mathias. They didn’t know who he was, or where he was, only that there was a change in the course of national enterprise and it had criminal
overtones written all over it.
Agent Jameson flipped his phone closed. “He’s on his way with an Evidence Team. I’m to escort her to the ER for treatment and then hold her for questioning.”
“I’m going with you,” David announced as he reached for Zoe’s coat and helped her get it on.
“I have this horrible feeling this is only the beginning,” she said. “You need to find out who Michael’s associate is and get him or her in the witness protection program immediately.”
Jameson’s cell phone rang. He answered it quickly, spoke briefly and hung up.
David heard Novelli’s voice. Mentally scanning through the last two days of time he already knew the identity of Sinclair’s associate. She wasn’t among the living anymore. That meant this was a double hit.
Sinclair had now involved them in his investigations. It was all on record and soon to hit every television station. No doubt Mathias knew, if he was the one to order the hit.
Jameson reported with very little emotion, “I’m sorry Mr. Sinclair, but your associate is dead. Martha Elliott’s car stalled on the tracks last night in Southern Illinois. She probably didn’t know what hit her.”
Sinclair’s strength seemed to collapse. If it wasn’t for Captain Matthews, he would have dropped to the floor.
Zoe observed, “Wait a minute. The chief here admitted Jameson is FBI. So, I take it that means the police and the agency were aware of the mayor’s actions and Sinclair and Elliott’s research. And if so, then why weren’t they protected early on? Why would you wait until one of them is killed? Her car didn’t stall on the tracks. She had to have been pushed there when that train was coming through town. That’s murder and
now Detective Giovanni and I are right in the middle of it.”
“I think you’re going to be dodging more than bad guys, Ms. Montgomery,” Jameson noted, and then added. “The agency is fully aware of who you really are.”
“Hell of a time for confessions,” said the chief.
They were all looking at her as if she were the criminal. The truth was, Zoe was the daughter of an influential senator. For twenty-five years, David had known. The FBI only started tracking her when she left her parents’ home in Virginia.
Zoe stood her ground, even in pain and under their scrutiny.
“Yes, my father is running for Vice President of the United States, and I’ve been keeping a low profile. How would it look if everyone knew his daughter was a psychic?”
“Had to leak out sooner or later,” the chief told her. “As sure as there are taxes, the press is going to have a grand old time now that you’re involved in this. You saved Sinclair’s life and how many others, Ms. Montgomery?”
“I was just doing my job like you do yours,” she insisted.
“The next obstacle will be getting her past the media,” David said. “The bank only has two exits. Sheila Robbins is probably posted at one of them. She’s determined to beat her competitors and break the story first.”
“Senator Randall Montgomery’s daughter being revealed as a psychic is a hell of a lot more interesting than late campaign news,” Jameson added. “My car is out front. Let’s get her to the hospital.”
Police officers were taking statements and calming bank patrons when they entered the lobby. Digital cameras flashed and questions were directed their way the minute they observed Zoe being escorted out of the bank. A single step onto the sidewalk led to a television mic shoved in front of David’s face. A brunette in a tight white blouse and tailored navy business suit blocked his path. She wasn’t going to let them pass unless Jameson pushed her back. A middle-age cameraman saw her advance in front of the crowd and made his move.
“Sheila Robbins, Channel 7 News,” announced the female news
hawk. She had killer legs, but was a real pain in the ass.
“Detective Giovanni, we just received word that Mt. Lisle’s Historical Society Executive Director, Martha Elliott, was struck by a train last night. Now we’re learning that someone may have just tried to kill Michael Sinclair. Is Ms. Montgomery, Mt. Lisle’s society editor, the alleged suspect?” asked Robbins, her gaze never leaving David’s.
“Out of my way,” David demanded.
Robbins ignored him. “Is it also true that Zoe Montgomery is in
fact Senator Randall Montgomery’s daughter?” she forged ahead, ignoring the other reporters.
David knew that how he responded could be used as evidence in a court of law. Criminal lawyers were naturals in redirecting guilt away from their clients. But the actual criminal they were trying to find wasn’t a mortal. This would therefore logically end in a paranormal confrontation.
“For the record, Ms. Montgomery is a heroine,” Agent Jameson replied. “Her brave actions just saved Mr. Sinclair’s life. Chief Matthews will make an official statement at the first available opportunity.” He ignored the barracuda’s glare as he pushed Zoe through the crowd to the passenger door of his car.
After the police pushed back the crowd, Agent Jameson’s Lincoln cut through the parking lot among the newly-renovated buildings. With little patience, they waited for the traffic light to change at the railroad tracks, each of them trying not to imagine the horrible last moments of Martha Elliott’s life. A glance behind them confirmed they were being followed. Ms. Barracuda and her cameraman were on the trail of a blazing hot story, intent that neither the police nor the FBI were going to stop them.
Jameson made a right onto Northpoint Road, passing the Polish deli staff in front of their brown-brick facade. Two buildings down the road, David could feel his mother’s gaze from the window of Mama Rose’s restaurant. No doubt she learned of Sinclair’s near-death situation from her circle of friends. Two more storefronts down would lead to the neck of the river and the residential area.
When David felt the cell phone vibrate, he knew who it was before looking at the caller ID. A flip of the phone and press of the talk button and he came voice-to-voice with his father. Angelo Giovanni had handled a lot of obstacles in his life, from a house fire, to one of his sons having a nervous breakdown, to the daily operations of their family business. But this was different. This was his youngest son in an office where death was only a sip away.
“God’s on your side, David, for you to walk out of there alive,” his father said with difficulty. The sounds of dishes rattling in the background meant he was in the kitchen for a moment of privacy.
“Tell mom I’m okay, just a little shaken – like a smooth martini.”
“ll vostro lavoro e troppo pericoloso,” his mother yelled out.
“The majority of the time my job isn’t dangerous. I’m called to the scene after the crime,” he said as they stopped at the next light. He scanned the road for signs of further danger.
“Your mother wants you safe and married with three children, Davy. How many times has she told you that?” his father reminded him.
“It happened so fast. Zoe Montgomery saved a life, but was injured in the process. We’re taking care of her now. As far as marriage, I don’t have time for it. My cases demand all my attention.”
“Love will find its way. It doesn’t make reservations. Come by later. See your Mama, okay?”
“Being an eye-witness, I’ll be questioned. I have to deal with that first,” he said as they pulled up in front of the Emergency Room.
“I don’t say it enough, but I love you, son.”
His father’s confession shook David to the core. The word “love” never crossed his father’s lips. Instead, it was experienced as a pat on the back when he came to dinner at the restaurant or when he offered him a draft beer after his shift.
By the time David flipped his cell phone closed, Jameson had pulled into an ER parking space. Robbins was running toward the car as fast as her high heels would allow. But this time she didn’t get far.
Another black Lincoln cut her off. Two dark suits got out of the car and immediately told her to keep her distance. One agent ensured that she remained where she was, while the other, a tall dark haired agent came over toward them. David looked within his soul for the nature of the agent’s being. This mortal was shrouded by secrets, technology and the supernatural.
He presented his identification to David and ushered them inside the hospital. Jameson followed behind them, clearly playing the role of watchman. Before they even neared the registration desk, Agent Brian Novelli pulled Zoe aside. David reined in his aggression knowing it was a meeting that had to be.
“You’re the real deal, Montgomery. And that means that from now on you’re working for your government. We’re going to see to your wound, and then you’re going help us work a case of a missing child. It’s time to see what makes you tick.”
“Sorry, but I’m an independent contractor,” she declared. “Last time I looked this was a free country.”
Novelli’s intimidating stance would have brought any mortal to
their knees, but Zoe showed no sign of backing off.
His eyes grew dark. “Montgomery, something dark and dirty has hit home. Instinct tells me that you’re the only hunter around who can take this bastard down.”
“I can’t control what I am,” she said. “I’m not a detective, a soldier or a government agent.”
“No, you’re not, but you have an amazing record for solving missing persons cases that’s unmatched throughout the nation.”
He leaned in a little closer. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say there’s just something about you, Montgomery, something that isn’t quite human.”
You never know who will interview you these days.
Rather than presenting a boring bio statement, I’ve requested that Charles interview me. For those who haven’t read “Deadly Reservations,” Charles is Zoe Montgomery’s companion. He is an artificial intelligence (AI) employed by my fictional FBI. His central processing system is located in downtown Chicago, but he has an operational device in Zoe’s home and on her wristband. He can follow her through town and time with a little heavenly intervention.
Charles: It is an honor to meet you. Logically, you are my original creator as your creativity conceived each of the characters in your third novel. Tell me, how did you get the idea for this book? This is a true departure from “The Guardian” and “Altar of Freedom.”
Denise: “Deadly Reservations,” is a whole new storyline for me, Charles. With my first two novels I was writing about Mother Nature as a defender. She was challenged by the Dark Lord of Intarius to make a difference in the lives of people during various mortal wars. Lea Netera actually moved through time and various universes. Zoe is a psychic who is really the daughter of Archangel Michael. Having written two books about Lea Netera, I was ready for new characters and challenges. I found both through Deadly Reservations. So the battle of good vs. evil continues.
Charles: How can Zoe be the daughter of an angel and of mortals?
Denise: I see it this way: Zoe’s spirit is that of an angel. She is continuing the work of her father since he can no longer come to Earth. I placed her in a mortal family with both national and international influences so she can help more people. She is learning about mortal culture so the angels can relate to modern mankind.
Charles: I am curious about the transition from Lea Netera who is the Goddess of Nature to Zoe who is a psychic and angel.
Denise: Not wishing to navigate away from the paranormal, I wanted to continue having a character with extraordinary abilities necessary for her to do her job. Where Lea Netera basically had every paranormal skill: creation, levitation, telepathy, telekinesis, time travel, manipulation of nature, invisibility, Zoe is able to astral project, speak to souls, envision the past or future and heal. When she learns her true heritage and reunites with her race, then her dormant abilities are allowed to surface. I also love the technological elements which can merge with her natural abilities. Think of the possibilities of finding more missing people, what Zoe does after her job at the Mt. Lisle Times.
Charles: Tell me about detective Giovanni and his role.
Denise: David is employed by the Mt. Lisle Police Department as a detective. He has the same mission as a mortal as he does as an angel: to see justice as the victor, even if he has to use his angelic powers to achieve it. He also is responsible for Zoe’s well being and offering her the love and life she deserves.
Charles: Is it possible for her to put an end to Mathias, her father’s enemy and now hers?
Denise: The possibility is there, but Mathias, who is a fallen angel is determined to achieve his own goals. While time moves forward for most individuals, he has few restrictions and that makes the playing field time itself.
Charles: I must cycle down to reserve my reserve system. May we continue this at a later date?
Denise: I would love that. Take care, Charles and please watch over Zoe and David for me.
By Denise Fleischer
On Sale: June 3, 2013
Hardcover / e-Book