Death By Proxy – Free Short Story

This is a short story I wrote for a Halloween contest. Thought I’d post it here for anyone’s viewing pleasure and to help gear you up for Halloween!

It was pitch black. Cory couldn’t see a thing. But she could smell the dirt,  feel the biting chill. She didn’t know where she was, only that it was cold.
Her clothes were gone. She wished that she could move, but ropes around her wrists and ankles kept her prostrate on the hard ground. A cloth was stuck in her mouth with duct tape over her lips. The last thing she remembered was a hooded shadow jumping out and jabbing a syringe in her neck. She had no idea how long she’d been out.
There were no sounds to indicate her abductor in the vicinity.
As if to contradict her thoughts, there came a sliding movement near her leg. Cory held still, not wanting to alert the other presence that she was awake. Suddenly, another movement came from the other side, this time brushing up against her hip.
She recoiled at the sensation of cool, reptilian skin brushing against hers. Cory hoped it wasn’t what she thought. A small hiss by her head confirmed the fear. Snakes were with her. Breathing rapidly through her nose, she closed her eyes and tried to stop trembling.
The snakes would be attracted to her body heat, but she hadn’t done anything to antagonize them, so they shouldn’t bite her. As long as she held perfectly still, they would simply absorb her body heat and leave her be… right?
A heavy, leathery sensation slithered over her bare stomach and Cory couldn’t keep herself from jerking. Snakes seemed to slide over her from every direction. She wasn’t sure how many were on her, but she felt their considerable weight on top of her chest and both arms. There had to be at least three gliding over her legs.
Tears leaked down the sides of her face and soft whimpers escaped her throat.
A sudden, sharp pain exploded in her right thigh. Acidic burning bloomed through her upper leg. She grunted through her gag. Another bite in the soft flesh of her upper arm made her scream, though it was muffled.
Then the biting was everywhere. Needle points of pain hit her on her toes, her chest, even her neck. Cory could feel her body start to swell as the venom worked its way into her system.

“Trish.” It was Detective Holdman’s voice.
Large, warm hands were on her shoulders, gently shaking her. Trish blinked, but everything looked blurry. The light was blinding after the vision she’d just experienced. Swaying her head from side to side, her eyes were able to focus on the blond man leaning over her, his brows drawn together with concern.
“Sna-“ Trish coughed before she could get her words out. Detective Holdman had a glass of water ready for her.
With trembling hands, she accepted the drink and sipped at it while glancing around the conference table. Valerie Clemmings, an FBI profiler, was studying her with interest while Holdman and Crandle sat on either side of Trish with silent support. They were used to Trish’s visions, as she’d been working for the local police department for five years now.
Taking a fortifying breath, Trish cleared her throat. “The latest victim was in some kind of pit with a bunch of snakes.”
Holdman grimaced and his blue eyes looked at her with sympathy. “Is she still alive?”
Licking her lips, Trish shook her head and rolled her office chair closer to the table. “I didn’t get much from the vision, except that she was tied up and stuck with those snakes. They had venom that caused a burning sensation as soon as their fangs made contact.” She took another sip as an excuse so she could keep her tone composed. “And the victim couldn’t see anything. No stars, no shadows, nothing.”
Everyone at the table seemed to mull over her words and were taking down notes.
Trish’s heart rate calmed as she waited. The visions were always so intense, so vivid. It was the only time she experienced such strong emotions. Sometimes it was hard to believe that she had been sitting in the fluorescently lit room at the police station that whole time.
Valerie broke the silence. “So, if Miss Pyper is correct with her vision-“
“She is,” both detectives said in unison.
Trish pulled some of her dark hair over her shoulder to hide a smile. The FBI agent could check the records for all the cases she’d helped close. The only one they hadn’t caught so far was the Ghost.
“Anyway,” Valerie waved a hand. “Her vision would prove that Cory Miller is another fatality of this serial killer.” The profiler picked up the missing person report on Cory Miller. “That would make ten victims that we know of.”
Detective Holdman glanced at Valerie. “And we’ve got nothing on our UNSUB.”
Frowning, Valerie shrugged. “I’m still working on it. All I can say now is the typical – we’re looking for a white male, age could be anywhere between twenty to forty. Obviously, this guy has some issues with brunettes with a similar build. My guess is that his mother has similar features.” Her eyes narrowed in thought. “I’m thinking this guy isn’t the average serial killer, though. There’s something I can’t seem to pinpoint.”
“I still say the UNSUB is a sexual predator,” said Crandle. He was sitting to the right of Trish, picking at his yellowed teeth, like he always did when craving a cigarette. “We can probably find him through those kinky chat rooms.”
Shaking her head, Valerie said, “I disagree. I don’t get any sexual vibes from these crime scenes.”
Frowning, Crandle flipped through some files until he found the one he was looking for. “What about this one? The victim was stabbed five times in her vagina.”
Closing her legs, Trish was glad no one could see her movement. The memory of that vision was still fresh. She continued to have nightmares about it even though the vision was months ago.
“No, I don’t think that was sexual.” When Crandle scoffed, the profiler explained. “My bet is that it has something to do with power. All of these murders are different. It seems to me that the UNSUB is… exploring different ways to kill a woman.”
Nodding, Holdman looked at the other man. “She’s right. If the victims didn’t all look similar, we probably wouldn’t even be able to link these killings.”
“Let’s move on.” Valerie pulled another folder from her briefcase. “This is the last missing persons case we’re going to have you look at tonight, Trish.” She pulled out a clear baggie holding a small wallet. “This was found in Debora Helstrome’s car. She was reported missing a week ago.”
Trish stared at the bag that Valerie pushed in front of her. The last vision had been more than unsettling. She wasn’t mentally prepared for another.
“We can push this off till tomorrow,” Holdman said, watching her.
Blowing out softly, Trish shook her head and pulled out the wallet. She felt the soft texture of leather between her fingers…

Debbie’s eyelids felt heavy. She didn’t want to open them, but knew there was something wrong. She needed to wake up. Forcing herself to open her eyes, she saw a single light bulb hanging from a string on the ceiling. It didn’t produce much illumination.
Debbie was lying on a bare mattress on the floor. Only wearing underwear, her skin felt a little sticky and it gave off a strange, sweet smell.
Through growing hysteria, her memory clicked into place. Kidnapped. Scanning the bare, windowless walls, she spotted a door with a removed doorknob. Getting up slowly, she walked over to inspect it. The place where the knob should have been was filled with cement.
Debbie tried to push it open, but it wouldn’t budge. The hinges were on the other side, and getting out looked impossible.
A sob escaped from her and the brunette stepped back. A sickly crunch echoed throughout the empty room as she felt something squish under her foot.
Debbie squealed and hopped onto her other foot. Glancing down, she saw the large brown spider that she’d killed. Realizing that the poor lighting didn’t allow her to see into the corners of the small space, she swallowed and moved closer to the light.
Rubbing her arms, her eyes watered with desperation.
Wiping away some tears to clear her vision, Debbie saw four large spiders crawling by her feet. Giving a small screech, she ran over to the mattress that was against the wall. When she felt little butterfly caresses on both her shoulders, she screamed and brushed the spiders off.
Turning to look at the wall she’d backed up against, she saw that it was covered with all different kinds of arachnids. The smallest was the size of a nickel and they varied in colors. They were pouring out of a vent from the ceiling.
Panic seized her. Small feet pattered over her ears and neck. Debbie frantically smacked at her face and ran over to the door, stepping on several spiders in the process.
She kicked and clawed at the door. “Please let me out! Please! I’ll do anything!”
Spiders were crawling up her legs now. Through her terror, she could feel some of them biting her. One spot on her neck particularly burned.
Never had Debbie thought she would die in such a terrible manner.

Trish came to and realized that she’d been screaming. She was lying on the floor with both Holdman and Crandle holding her down. Glancing between them, she saw their determined faces shiny with sweat. How long had they been holding her down? How much had she fought?
Holdman helped her sit up. “Crandle, get her water.” The other detective complied and had a glass for her in a few seconds.
Trish tried to take it, but her hand was trembling too hard. Finally Holdman grabbed the glass and held it to her lips. After a few sips, she was able to get her shaking under control.
The detectives helped her into her seat and Trish tried to appear professional as she relayed the details to her team, but was certain her face was too pale to pull it off. Two visions in one night was unusual. She felt overstimulated from such intense emotions that had flowed through to her from the victims.
“It was probably a basement,” Crandle said. “I’ll see if we can find any homes with basements in the vicinity.”
Valerie nodded. “As far as I’m aware, there aren’t too many in this part of California. Report back to me if you find anything. I don’t care how late it is.”
They all stood and Holdman turned to Trish. “I’ll walk you to your car.”
Nodding, she followed him out into the hall after Trish said goodbye to Crandle and Valerie.
Once they were in the parking lot behind the station, Holdman asked, “Are you going to be alright? That last one looked like it really got to you.”
Forcing a smile, Trish pulled her keys out of her purse and spotted her car in the darkness. “’It was probably just because I had two visions so close together. I was pushing myself.”
They reached her Mazda, but the detective looked like he had something to say. “Have you thought about my offer?”
Sighing, Trish looked up at Holdman. “You’re very sweet, but I don’t think it would be a good idea to stay with you.”
Color rose to his cheeks. “It doesn’t have to be me. But I think it’s a bad idea for you to live alone right now.”
“I’ll be fine.” She opened her door.
The detective held it open as she got in. “But you’re a perfect match for the victim profile. Dark hair, medium build, light eyes.” He placed a hand on her shoulder. “I’m worried.”
Biting her lip and looking into his blue eyes, Trish felt a tingle of emotion. She quickly pushed it away and looked down. “If it’ll make you feel better, I’ll see if I can stay with my dad for a while.”
Squeezing her shoulder before letting go, Holdman nodded and closed the door.
Driving out of the parking lot, Trish berated herself for being so soft toward the detective. Whenever she had strong emotions, it sparked too many visions that would eventually make her lose her mind. She’d almost lost sight of reality when her mom died. Since then, she hadn’t allowed herself to get close to anyone, or feel anything, if she could help it.
The only time she felt anything at all these days were when the visions came upon her.
Pulling into a grocery store, Trish got out and entered to grab some dinner for the night. As she walked down the frozen food section, she passed a woman who looked similar to her. As well as all the other victims of the Ghost. Could she be looking at the next victim?
Shaking her head, Trish went back to picking out frozen dinners and hurried to the register to pay for them.
In the deserted parking lot, Trish saw the brunette again. The woman was just about to finish loading her groceries. Trish’s heart rate went up a notch when she noticed that her hair was almost the exact same length as Trish’s.
Clenching her jaw, Trish went to her car and put her bag in the back seat. Glancing over, she saw that the woman was closing her trunk and heading to the driver’s side. A compulsion forced Trish’s steps in the stranger’s direction.
“Excuse me,” Trish said as she approached. “I think you dropped your credit card.”
The woman looked down at her feet where Trish pointed.
Trish took that moment to pull a syringe out of her purse. Moving quickly, she plunged the needle into the woman’s neck. The brunette instantly sagged and Trish picked her up with a practiced strength.
Trish moved mechanically as she deposited the body into her trunk and drove to the next place she’d scoped out last week. This time, she wanted to see what it would be like to die from hundreds of shallow cuts made by a drill bit. She’d seen it in a movie and was curious what it would feel like. What kind of emotions someone would feel during such a torturous death.
There was no one around as Trish moved the girl into the abandoned warehouse. This area was deserted with no bystanders to hear what they’d be doing.
Trish was in her full gear, complete with a head visor, coveralls, and gloves, when her victim began to stir.
“Don’t worry,” Trish cooed. “It will be over soon.” She went over to the table and picked up the drill. “Actually, I don’t really know that, but we’ll soon find out.”
Walking over to her victim, Trish saw that the woman was not quite awake yet. It was the perfect time that Trish liked to converse with her victims.
“If you’re thinking, why me, I’m sorry to tell you that it really has nothing to do with you.” The sound of the drill whirred loudly when she pushed the trigger. “I’m not really killing you, you see.” She pushed the tip into the tender flesh of the woman’s right foot. “I’m killing myself.”
The woman’s screams were the loudest that Trish had heard yet.

Fractured Sea is Available for Preorder!

It has been a privilege to be a part of the Fairy Tale Ink. Readers have absolutely loved Fractured Beauty and Fractured Slipper. I’m thrilled to be part of their next boxed set, Fractured Sea!

This boxed set of four different retold versions of The Little Mermaid is now available for preorder at an exclusive sale for only .99! When it releases on August 31st, the price will jump up to $4.99, so preorder your copy now and save.

The blurb:

The Fairy Tale Ink is proud to present these four retold stories of the classic, The Little Mermaid. A story for every reader from best-selling and award-winning authors!

The Academy, by Jo Schneider: Ariel thought going to The Academy would rid her of the shadow of five older sisters, but school isn’t all Ri dreamed it would be. Between a grouchy mage of a roommate and sisters who won’t mind their own business, Ri finds solace in a chance encounter with the human prince. He too lives in a shadow, and they become quick friends. But when he starts asking probing questions about Ri’s kingdom, she must find out what the prince is really after.

Sand and Sea, by Adrienne Monson: Prince Elex is in danger and the only one who knows of his intended assassination is Aria. But how can a mermaid save an innocent human from certain death? Luckily she knows a sea witch who just might have the answer to her dilemma. But will Aria be able to reach the prince in time?

Under the Moonlit Sea, by Teri Harman: As queen of the Moon Mermaids, Quila is responsible for keeping the tides flowing. Anson is a professional deep-sea diver, a dangerous sport few men survive. When Anson is trapped in a shipwreck, Quila defies the rules of her people to save his life. The rescue sparks a fevered attraction, but bridging the gap between land and sea comes at great cost.

Pua’s Kiss, by Lehua Parker: Kanaloa, the great Hawaiian ocean god, has only one kapu law for his daughter Pua: bear no Niuhi-human sons or die. Easy to obey in her Niuhi shark form, but Pua has an irresistible itch that’s relieved only by napping on the beach in the afternoon sun. When she meets Californian Justin Halpert, he’s perfect. Alone on his prepaid Hawaiian honeymoon, he wants nothing more permanent than a temporary tattoo. For the first time in centuries, Pua’s looking forward to a romantic interlude that doesn’t end in a bloody shark attack. But modern times bring modern complications. Too bad Justin has secrets of his own.

Fractured Fairy Tales

Fractured Beauty has gotten wonderful reviews!
“while this is a repackaging of Beauty and the Beast by four different authors, these are not novellas with shortcuts and rushed endings. These are full length, satisfying stories.”
“First off, I LOVED Adrienne Monson’s Arabella’s Story. It was a very cool way to re-tell Beauty and the Beast”

Fractured Slipper is also doing well!
“FANTASTIC read! I read it straight through getting to experience ALL the warm fuzzy feels of a Cinderella Romance”
” I was really impressed with the quality of writing and the variation in the stories. One retelling was modern-day and on a ranch, another was in a world of magic users, another was set in Hawaii. My favorite was The Wrong Foot by Adrienne Monson.”

Defiance is Back!

As of today, Defiance is back on the market! This second addition with the revamped (no pun intended. :)) cover and editing is once again available for purchase. It’s exclusively available through Amazon until the summer of 2017. Then it will be available where books are sold everywhere else. If you want to be updated of when this book will be available on other channels, please sign up for my newsletter. Click on the picture below or here to get your copy.


40 Books For Women To Read in 2017

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood


The makings of a true horror story: A dystopian world in which a woman’s only worth is her ability to breed. Read it before the new Hulu series starring Elisabeth Moss premieres in April. Buy the book



The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis


The famed Barbizon hotel takes center stage in this novel where a present-day journalist becomes obsessed with the secrets of one of the Barbizon hotel’s oldest residents. Told in alternating chapters of present day and 1952, The Dollhouse is a coming-of-age story, mystery, and love story, all rolled into one.

The Velvet Hours by Alyson Richman


A Paris apartment, abandoned for years, and the young woman who closed the door on it at the dawn of World War Two. Who lived in this apartment? Why would anyone leave it shuttered for decades? Richman’s latest novel, The Velvet Hours, is a beautiful novel about two women, the choices they make, and love in its many forms. A must read for fans of The Nightingale.

Dissension – Adrienne Monson


Vampire Leisha is caught in the middle of an eternal and bloody war between her people and immortals, an undying race sworn to destroy all vampires. It’s a different life from the one she had 2,000 years ago when she led a quiet life as a devoted mother. Leisha soon finds herself captured by the government, only to be saved by a mysterious human girl. Leisha and her newfound friend run for their lives while searching for the one thing that can bring an end to this escalating conflict–the prophecy child. Buy the Book

Beloved by Toni Morrison


Based on a true story, this haunting novel follows Sethe and her daughter Denver after they escape from slavery and run to Ohio. It’s tough to read twice, but once is mandatory. Buy the book

Lady Cop Makes Trouble by Amy Stewart


In the long-awaited sequel to Girl Waits With Gun on, Constance has to take matters into her own hands. Lady Cop Makes Trouble, based on actual events, is another irresistible madcap adventure featuring the Kopp sisters.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen


It’s perhaps the most knocked-off novel in history with material ripe for rom-coms. But you’ve gotta read the original. Buy the book

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett


One kiss is all it takes to change the course of history for two families. Marriages are crumbled, families are joined, and six children will grow up with a bond based on the shared disillusionment of their parents.

Commonwealth is a smart, thoughtful novel about the ties that bind us.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë


An exquisite coming-of-age tale that tackled controversial topics—sexuality, religion andclassism—way before it was cool. Initially, Brontë published the book under the male-sounding pseudonym “Currer Bell.” Buy the book

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan


Nina Redmond loves being a literary matchmaker, finding the perfect book for each person. As a librarian in the city, that’s what she does all day. But when she loses her job, she heads out to the country, where she sets up a mobile bookshop, driving from town to town, sharing her love of reading.

The Bookshop on the Corner is a sweet read for all bibliophiles.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë


This classic was also published under a pseudonym, but when Emily died a year later, her sister Charlotte re-edited the intense love story about a young woman and her adopted brother and included Emily as the author. Buy the book

Power Your Happy by Lisa Sugar


POPSUGAR founder Lisa Sugar writes her first book this Fall, and it’s got everything you could possibly want from the creator of a multimillion dollar media company: stellar advice, strong encouragement, and the tools you need to help you figure out what you truly want to do with your life and how to make it happen. Power Your Happy is told in Sugar’s signature style and will motivate you to figure out what’s working for you and what’s not, all designed to set you on your own course to happy.

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf


The account of a high-society woman planning a party unfolds over the course of a day. Although Woolf denied the connection, it’s often compared to James Joyce’s Ulysses—but a helluva lot shorter. Buy the book

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue


Eleven-year-old Anna O’Donnell hasn’t eaten in months and believes herself to be living off manna from heaven. When a nurse is sent to care for the child, she finds herself responsible for the child’s very survival: is she witnessing a miracle or a murder?

The Wonder is a haunting novel about good vs. evil from the author of the bestselling novel Room.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston


Initially rejected for its frankness about racism, the story of Janie, a black woman grappling with marriage, later became one of the most enduring works of the 20th century. Buy the book

Fractured by Catherine McKensie


Novelist Julie Prentice moves cross country with her family to get away from a stalker. She doesn’t know anyone in her new town, but then she meets a neighbor. When an accident happens on their street, she finds herself the target of unsettling harrasment once again. Fractured is a tense thrill ride that asks the question: do you ever really know your neighbors?

Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier


This chilling Gothic novel tells the story of a woman who marries a widower, but discovers that his late wife is still very much a part of their lives. Buy the book

Cruel, Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt


When 16-year-old Lucy runs away with her older teacher to rural Pennsylvania, she looks forward to her new life. But her decision will have far-reaching repercussions for her older sister, Charlotte, who she leaves behind, and for her, once she discovers the true nature of her relationship. Cruel Beautiful World is a mesmerizing story about love, family, and obsession.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee


OK, you’ve probably read this Pulitzer Prize-winning coming-of-age novel about racial injustice in the South. But read it again. Read it ten more times. Buy the book

Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple


Eleanor wants to do things differently today.

Today Will Be Different. She will do better with her husband. She will do better with her son. She won’t swear, and she will shower. But then life happens. From the acclaimed author of Where’d You Go, Bernadette comes a smart, laugh-out-loud funny, and thoughtful novel about how we reinvent ourselves and how we need to face the truth about our lives before we can truly change.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou


Angelou’s screed about literature’s power to overcome racism and trauma was on TheNew York Times best-seller list for two years. It’s that good. Buy the book

The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang


The Wangs had it all: a cosmetics empire and a huge fortune, but the financial crisis ruined all that. Now Charles Wang is taking his family on a road trip across America so that he can get his children safely stowed away and start his life anew in China. The Wangs vs. the World is a funny and touching novel about what it means to belong in America.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath


It’s an emotional read, but this courageous novel based on Plath’s own experiences made it OK to talk about depression. Buy the book

The Guineveres by Sarah Domet


“We were the Guineveres, and we could do anything we wanted.” Four girls named Guinevere, all dropped at the doorstep of The Sisters of Supreme Adoration during wartime. When four soldiers come to the convent in need of care, the Guineveres dream of getting out, falling in love, and finding their old families. The Guineveres is a beautiful debut literary novel by an author to watch.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker


Yes, the movie and the Broadway musical are good, too, but actually read the story of Celie and Nettie, OK? Buy the book

The Mothers by Brit Bennett


It all begins with a secret. Nadia Turner, a senior in high school, is mourning her mother’s suicide when she starts seeing the pastor’s son in secret. The Mothers, the elders from Church, weigh in on what they hear, what they see. Time passes, and we see how young love and secrets can change our lives. The Mothers is a gorgeous, layered novel that I couldn’t put down, one that you won’t want to end. Perfect for book clubs; the book everyone will be talking about this Fall.

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan


Consider this 1989 best seller an artful, character-driven introduction to mahjong. Buy the book

Hungry Heart by Jennifer Weiner


We love Jen Weiner’s fiction, and we love her op-eds for The New York Times. For the first time, Weiner releases a collection of essays, and they are just as warm and funny as you’d imagine (and want) them to be. In Hungry Heart, she takes on marriage, love, parenthood, and that one Summer that she was called “the fat Jennifer” with grace, humor, and intelligence.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion


Read this heartwarming memoir about the unexpected deaths of Didion’s husband and daughter with a box of tissues. Actually, two. Buy the book

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult


Jodi Picoult is never afraid to take on hot topics, and in Small Great Things, she tackles race and discrimination in a way that will grab hold of you and refuse to let you go. Meet Ruth Jefferson: she’s the best nurse in the labor and delivery ward of a Connecticut hospital. Meet Turk Bauer, he’s a new father, and also a white supremacist who does not want Ruth, who is black, touching his baby. When the hospital grants his request to keep Ruth away from his child, this decision will have far-reaching implications that change both of their lives. This page-turner is perfect for book clubs.

The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict


We all know about Albert Einstein and his genius, but history has forgotten another great mind with the same name. In The Other Einstein, we take a look at the life of Mitza Maric, Einstein’s wife, who was a brilliant physicist in her own right, whose contribution to the special theory of relativity has been debated for years. Is there room for more than one genius in a family?

The Boy Is Back by Meg Cabot


Scandal brings Reed Stewart back to his hometown, a small town he’d rather forget. But once there, he encounters the one who got away, his first love, Becky Flowers, whom he hasn’t spoken to in 10 years, since prom might. Told through emails, text messages, and journal entries, The Boy Is Back is Meg Cabot at her best — giving us her trademark humor and heart while tackling sensitive issues like aging, hoarding, and fraud.

Paris For One by Jojo Moyes


The fabulous JoJo Moyes is back, this time with the short story, Paris For One, about a woman who finds her way in the most romantic city in the world. It’s paired with a collection of sweet short stories that are sure to satisfy.