Kacie Clement’s New Release: Mississippi Moonshine: A Kamira Jackson Mystery.

I am proud to announce the first book in The Cold Case Chronicles: A Kamira Jackson Mystery is now available for pre-sale.

It was a fun book to write. The characters a joy to build. I especially like Willie Mae Gordon, Kamira Jacksons aunt. Willie Mae at eighty-eight years old is a Traiteur. A healer. She has her own specialized herb healing garden out back of her kitchen, and many people come to Willie Mae to be healed. Willie Mae does not take money for payment, as you will see when she answers the door to greet Kamira, holding a live chicken.

Read more for the description of Mississippi Moonshine.

Forty-six years ago, two brothers were killed and thrown in the Wolf River. Can a troubled detective surface the truth before her own life is at risk?

Atlanta cop Kamira Jackson can’t forgive herself for getting caught and held captive for ninety days. Feeling unworthy of her job, she flees to Mississippi only to be confronted by a police chief who isn’t happy with his jurisdiction employing a Black policewoman. And she fears she’s being set up to fail when she’s given a decades-old murder assignment, and only six months to crack the case.

Vowing to beat the challenge and with the help of a retired veteran, Jackson retreads the slaying of two men shot point-blank and found floating in the isolated swamplands. But exposing an almost half-century conspiracy implicating too many powerful suspects might be fatally hazardous to her health.

Can the traumatized investigator overcome her nightmares and solve the cold case?

Mississippi Moonshine is the gripping first book in The Cold Case Chronicles crime thriller series. If you like fast-paced action, determined heroines, and unexpected twists and turns, then you’ll love Kacie Clement’s thrilling mystery.

Buy Mississippi Moonshine to open a can of dark truths today!

Pre Order your copy today! Release date: November 1, 2020

Well, I must get back to writing Book Two, A Shooting, A Drug Deal and a Trail of Ants.

Interview With Author T. J. Jones

I had the privilege to sit down with Minnesota Author, T. J. Jones, to talk with him about his journey as a writer, and his wonderful Slater Mystery Series. I have read T. J.’s entire mystery series, and recommend this series as a must read, if you enjoy intriguing mysteries.

What inspired you to write?

I learned to read at an early age. Our family lived on a farm several miles from town and we had one channel on the television. Books became my obsession, and naturally I wanted to emulate the people who wrote them. The stories of far-off lands, gunslingers, and a man raised in the jungle by apes fascinated me. I was surprised to learn that people managed to make a living just by putting words to page, and decided early on that it was something I wanted to do. Would do. It’s taken a long time, but I’m finally giving it a shot.

What comes first plot or characters?

I’m not sure why, but all my fiction starts with characters. I do my best to be sure that the people in my books always react consistently and stay in character. Not to say that they can’t evolve, but there needs to be a reason for it. After I know who my character is, I start throwing them into situations that will challenge them, or change them somehow, hopefully for the better. I think the basis for all fiction, written or otherwise, is conflict and resolution. Sometimes the conflict takes place in the world around the character, and sometimes it comes from within. I never outline, but I sometimes jump several chapters ahead and write a scene, then work toward that point. I rewrite a lot, which is fine. Sometimes I find things, whole chapters, even whole new people that I hadn’t considered the first time around.

How much fun was it to develop Slater’s character, and how many books are now published in the series?

I wanted Eric Slater to be extraordinary, but not too much so. He’ll never take on a room full of bikers or hang from the side of a 747; but he does have certain talents, a good sense of humor, and an honest affection for the people around him. His relationship with Maggie wrote itself, and their bond will continue to grow throughout the series. In each of the books he learns something about himself, and the reader learns something about his strengths and his faults.

There are currently four Slater Mysteries, with one more in the works. Depending upon inspiration, the Corona virus, and the vagaries of fate, there may be many more. We’ll see.

What advice would you give a new writer before starting out?

Since you asked, Kacie, I will volunteer what I have learned not to do as a new writer. When I started my first book, Callie’s Secret, a second cousin who is in the publishing business gave me some advice. She told me to do my best work, rewrite until I was happy, then put it away for three months. Then, if I wasn’t happy, rewrite it again until I was satisfied.

Did I listen? No. Do I wish I would have? I’m really not sure. Getting that first book out as fast as I could was incredibly satisfying, and thanks to the wonders of self-publishing, I was able to do my rewriting after the fact. But my advice to others? Listen to my second cousin and take your time.

Tell us about your new release coming out.

The next Slater Mystery will be titled “Slater’s Game” and will probably drop around Thanksgiving. Happy reading everyone.  T.J. Jones

You can find T. J. Jones amazing Slater Mystery Series on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Sisters-Detective-Slater-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B07KVQS669/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=tj+jones&qid=1598611368&sr=8-3

Interview With Best Selling Author Carissa Andrews.

This week I interviewed Best-Selling Author Carissa Andrews. Not only does she tell us about her up-coming new book series, “The Windhaven Witch” series, but she shares advice for new and upcoming writers and authors as well.

What inspired you to start writing?

Originally, it was simply the love of reading. I would dabble with short stories and poetry when I was a kid. But when I was 14, I had a really vivid dream that felt more like a past life memory. For whatever reason, I had to write about. At the time, I was really into Fear Street novels by R.L. Stine, so I decided to write a story similar to that. It was the first time I wrote a novel. While that version will never see the light of day, the idea behind it was resurrected just this year.

But more recently, I began writing again in 2010, thanks to the nudging of my long-time best friend, Sherry. I had been struggling with trying to compete in the graphic design market space in our small town. She encouraged me to start writing again. At first, it started with a blog. Then, she gave me a story idea she always wanted to read. This was back in the day of Twilight, so having a strange romance was on her mind. She wanted a ghost story where the woman fell in love with a ghost. What ended up happening instead, was an entire new world downloaded into my brain and the Pendomus Chronicles was born. And no, there’s not a single ghost in that one. HA!

What comes first plot or characters?

For me, it’s a combo. I have some books that were solely developed based on the characters first. The Pendomus Chronicles and Oracle, namely. Their stories developed because I loved the characters and then I gave them a story to go with them. But others, like Awakening, Love is a Merciless God, and even my Windhaven Witches series were more plot driven. I knew what I wanted to share and cover and then I fit those characters around it.

How do you come up with the titles to your books?

Some of them come to me on their own. I knew the first book in the Pendomus Chronicles would be Pendomus because it was an introduction to the world, and since Pendomus is the planet’s name, it just made sense. Polarities came about because my main characters were split up on the planet. And Revolutions has a few meanings. Oracle is pretty self-evident if you read the book. Diana Hawthorne is the world’s most powerful psychic, but there’s more to it than that. Other titles, like Love is a Merciless God came about by searching for quotes on the internet. For that one, I searched forbidden love sayings. The title was a bit long for my taste, but it worked. Then, later I realized the acronym for it is LIAMG – and Liam is one of the main characters. So, it totally worked. And the G even does, too… if you think about it. With the Windhaven Witches, I was working with NYT Bestselling Author Rebecca Hamilton and we knew we wanted to develop a series of books that went together and were easily distinguishable. So, we bounced ideas off each other to create a pattern – Secret Legacy, Soul Legacy, Haunted Legacy, and Cursed Legacy.

What advice would you give a new writer starting out?

Learn to love outlines. We all start out with the love of a story, and there’s nothing wrong with it. But outlines will keep you from getting stuck. Especially if you plan on doing this as a career. I started out as a pantser, but ultimately transformed into a hybrid plotter. I’ll develop my storyline, my overall arc, and get as much detail as I can, then I start writing and let the story dictate whether or not I was on the right track. Typically, big elements will stay in place, but it’s the smaller things – how a scene is laid out, who’s in it, etc. that might change.

Tell us about your new release coming out?

My newest release is Secret Legacy, Book 1 of the Windhaven Witches. It comes out on September 15th, 2020. But the remaining 3 books rapid release through the remainder of the year – each a month apart.

Remember when I said I wrote that book when I was 14? Well, Secret Legacy is the resurrection of it. I took the dream and the original concept for the story and mapped out four books to tell the whole tale. Even now, I can still remember the dream like it happened yesterday.

The series itself revolves around a supernatural academy, various supernatural witches and beings, and delves into the darker realms of death, rebirth, and resurrection. Go figure, right?

Book Blurb:

☆☆~~ 50% of Royalties Donated to the American Cancer Society! ~~☆☆


Nestled in the woods of Windhaven, Blackwood Manor waits to unleash a dark and deadly legacy…

When Autumn Blackwood shows up at Windhaven Academy for the Witching Stick Orientation, she hopes to find out what dormant powers she could possibly possess to have been accepted to the elite supernatural school. Instead, the academy is in chaos as everyone frantically hunts for two missing girls.

But as school begins with Autumn no closer to figuring out her powers, strange occurrences start to follow her everywhere. Even at home, Blackwood Manor keeps many secrets, and Autumn can’t escape its haunting past.

New friends urge her to learn more about her family’s history in order to unlock her powers and make sense of what’s happening at Blackwood Manor, but Autumn’s not so sure. Once an accident brings Autumn face-to-face with death, however, she realizes her gifts are tied to a legacy that can either save or doom them all…

Fans of Kelley Armstrong, Joe Hill, and Jennifer Armentrout will love The Windhaven Witches!

Link: https://www.carissaandrews.com/secretlegacy-amc/

You have taken your writing experience to a new level, can you tell us a little about Author Revolution?

Absolutely! Through my company, Author Revolution, I teach budding authorpreneurs how to craft stories that resonate and how to get them out in the world with a rapid release indie publishing model. Author Revolution started officially in 2019, but I’ve been teaching indie authors how to write and publish their books since 2015 or so. My background in publishing is pretty extensive. I’ve worked in the front-end at multiple bookstores, I’ve worked for publishers, printers, marketing firms, and I have a degree in graphic design. There isn’t much I haven’t learned about the world of indie publishing at this point and I love taking that knowledge and sharing it with others. I have taught both online and in-person courses.

Author Revolution has a weekly podcast, 3 online courses currently available, and my flagship course, Rapid Release Roadmap is in the process of being built now.

You can learn more about Author Revolution by going over to: www.authorrevolution.org

What Are You Researching?

Who has spent entirely too many hours researching their newest novel? I know I have. Sometimes to the point I can spend an entire day watching how to build a pipe bomb video. Yes, I do believe one day the FBI will show up at my front door at which time I will award them with free books of my mystery and thriller crime novels. Note to self: keep fresh cookies and coffee on standby.

I have found self-discipline seems to be the key. I often found I was getting sidetracked by minor research as I was writing. Which ended up in my loss of consistency in writing. My advice to new writers is, keep your inner perfectionist under control, be practical in your research. I am a Virgo. Therefore, I am a perfectionist.

I have finally developed a plan for researching each new book I write. I break my research down into two categories. The first category being, before writing research and the second category, after the first draft research. I keep my research organized, using Evernote. It is a magnificent tool for research.

My before writing research consists of researching the locations I am using as a reference. Right down to location, culture, history, plant life, etc. I try to visit that location if my checkbook allows. If not, the internet allows you to travel to that destination and research key points.

From that point, I am developing my major character arcs. For example, one of my characters in my new upcoming series, The Cold Case Chronicles, is a Traiteur. A healer. I researched everything I could find on Traiteur’s, building it in to her character arc.

Once I finished my character development, my story outline, and scene progression. I then start to write my current book. Which brings me to step two in my research development. Researching after the first draft. This is the simple part. When writing, when I come to a part in which I need more research to make my story more interesting, I insert (Research) and highlight it in yellow. It is as easy as that.

After the first draft, I go back and make notes on what added research needs completion, and why. I then conduct my next step research and start my second draft.

Remember, always put your story first. Often authors feel a lack of research and feel they need more and more research. That can often be nothing other than a lack of confidence. Be Bold! Self-discipline is the key. Many hours of research can cause authors to become sidetracked by minor research while writing. Some writers spend so much time researching, they never quite get around to writing that next best seller. So go forth, be bold and write your next best seller!

What are your tips for researching? Leave a comment below.

NEW RELEASE: ARCTIC EAGLE

It has been a joy to write this book. Though the publishing has been challenging. I am including the first two chapters. I hope you enjoy the sneak preview and will consider buying.

I will reward a FREE E-book version of Arctic Eagle on June 12th, 2020 to one lucky new subscriber!

I am excited to announce starting Saturday, June 13th, I will share a weekly three part short-story with you! Giant by Nature. The story of friendship, between a sea turtle and a little boy.

Now on to your sneak preview!

CHAPTER ONE

The spring breeze pushed past her sundress as she opened the door to the Estes Park Coffee shop. Gliding up to the counter, Dana, the owner of the shop, already had her order waiting. One large café Mocha and a Cranberry Scone. Dana smiled as she watched Cindi “Higgy” Higgins breeze through the door. “A wonderful Monday morning to you Higgy, I have your order ready.” “You know me so well, Dana.” Cindi said. Dana laughed from behind the counter, saying, “I do Higgy, I just added it to your tab.” As Cindi walked to her regular table, in the back corner of the coffee shop, she thought, Higgy, what a nickname to have. Laura Henderson is to blame for that nickname. She missed Laura. She missed the activity of playing with Laura’s kids. Cindi was honored to be the godmother to all three of Laura and Tom Henderson’s children. She would call her tonight, and they could catch up.

Sitting at the table, she opened her laptop to check her email, as she did every morning before walking a block over to the White Hat Risk Assessment office, where she worked. Taking a sip of the hot Mocha, her eyes grew wide, her heart raced. Flaming Feather? That was a name she thought she would never hear again. Staring at the screen in wonderment, she thought it has been ten years since she talked to Danny Davis, aka Flaming Feather. Why would he be contacting her now? Opening the email, the message read,

                          Arctic Eagle, if anything happens to me, you know where to look.             

Confused, she read it a second time. Not sure what to do, Cindi sat back in the chair, her thoughts drifting back to her childhood, her past, Danny Davis. Flashes of memories raced through her thoughts, their teenage romance, their arrest, and their conviction under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Looking back at the laptop screen, to read the message again, she found it was no longer there. Blinking her eyes rapidly, Cindi moved closer to the screen of her laptop. The screen was blank, the message gone. Did she imagine it? Confused, she searched her email. There was no record of it ever existing. If she did not get moving, she would be late for work, Cindi hastily closed her laptop and packed it in her messenger bag. Grabbing her cup of coffee to go, she walked down the block to start her day at work.

Briskly entering the offices of White Hat Risk Assessment, Cindi walked to her office, saying good morning to her co-workers as she passed by their desks. Reaching her office cubicle, Cindy sat down. She had a new account to work on today. A Bank whose security system needed to be tested. Turning on the computer on her desk, she stashed her messenger bag underneath the nearby shelf in her cubicle. She spent the next few hours before lunch hacking into the Banks system, finding multiple ways to gather their client’s confidential information.

Stretching, Cindy was startled when she heard her co-worker Mary Stewart say, “Hey Higgy, want to go get some lunch?” Turning in her chair to find Mary behind her, she said, “Not today, I am just going to get some air before I start the report for the bank. It was a breeze getting into their system this morning.” Laughing, she continued, “It is going to take two weeks to get their system secured. Your grandmother could have hacked into that system.” Mary giggled, saying, “I am not teaching my grandmother the tricks of this trade. I will see you after lunch Higgy.”

Cindy stood, grabbing her messenger bag. She walked outside to downtown Estes Park. Feeling the sun’s warmth, and taking a breath of the fresh mountain air, she looked down the street. Tourist season had not started yet, the streets filled only with local patrons. Sitting on her favorite bench around the corner from the office, she gazed up at the surrounding mountains, amazed that even though it was warm for a late April day, there was still snow on the mountain tops. Opening her laptop, she again searched for the email she thought she received that morning from Danny. Nothing was there. Closing her laptop, her thoughts went back to her teen years.

As children, Cindi and Danny were raised in the same foster home. Shortly after Cindi turned 16, the FBI arrested her with a group of five others called the MiamiLink Club. Besides her and Danny, the other three kids were also foster children in various homes in the city. In Miami Florida, they used coffee shops, libraries, and internet cafe’s as their location for hacking into first the local phone company giving them the ability to make free long-distance calls and listen to customers’ calls. They then moved on to hacking into corporate networking systems, as a challenge to see if they could. The Club would have contests on who could break into a company the fastest and do something crazy like implant a worm or change their client’s personal information. Then Chen Williams, one of the club members, the weak link in the club, decided it would be fun to infiltrate the Pentagon network. He never was very smart. That is when they were arrested. Cindi’s code name was Arctic Eagle. Her best friend and boyfriend at the time was Danny Davis, code named Flaming Feather. He was the one who taught her how to hack. 

Cindi remembered the trial, and how terrified she was. Convicted under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, she was sentenced to two years in a juvenile detention center, with three years of probation, and a fine. During her time in the Juvenile Detention Center, Cindi received her GED. With help from a guidance counselor at the center, she became certified as an Ethical Hacker.

Upon her release, that same counselor helped Cindi get a job far from Miami in Estes Park, Colorado working for the company she worked for today. She had been a part of the White Hat group for the last eight years. After her arrest, she had never spoken to or heard from Danny Davis again.

Standing, she thought, that was then, this is now. She had a an excellent job, a cute apartment above the Coffee Shop, friends, and she was now an adult at twenty-six years old. It was time to leave the past behind, and work towards that promotion she wanted as a lead Computer Security Specialist, which would give her a decent raise and the chance to manage a team of four other Specialists. Cindi stood, going back to her office to start the report for the Bank account she had worked on that morning.

CHAPTER TWO

Six days later, on Sunday, Cindi sat at her small kitchen table eating the ham and swiss sandwich she had made for lunch, admiring the new soft yellow color of the walls, her and Dana had painted yesterday. Watching it rain out her window, she picked up her phone to call Laura Henderson, her friend and confidante. Waiting for Laura to answer, she heard Laura say, “Higgy! It’s been two weeks since we talked, hang on.” Cindi could hear Laura say, ‘Charlotte, get off that table before you fall. Tom lift her down and give me a few minutes to talk to Higgy.’ Cindi heard Laura’s husband yell in the background, ‘Hi Higgy!’ Laura focusing back on the call said, “Higgy, how are you? Did you get the kitchen painted? I didn’t see any pictures come through yet.” Cindi laughed and said, “Its done, Dana and I spent all of yesterday painting. I love it. How are the kids?”

Laura replied, “Well, as you heard, Charlotte was dancing on the table. At two years old, I wonder about her sometimes, she is always climbing up on things. Michael is doing fine in Kindergarten, his favorite part of the day is nap time, Kevin, who may not live till next month to turn four, is into everything as usual. Did you get the promotion at work?” Cindi laughing said, “I find out next week. I sure miss you at work, Laura. Though, I must tell you, I appreciate the queen-size bed in our bedroom here, rather than the two twin beds.” Laura giggled, and said, “I miss the quiet evenings, when we could sit and watch movies, eat popcorn, and drink wine. I have not had a quiet evening since Michael was born. When are you coming for a visit?” Cindi replied, “I have two weeks of vacation built up. Depends on whether I get this promotion. If I get it, I want to settle in and get my team together, if not, I will make the trip to cry on your shoulder.” Laura laughed loudly, “So what else is new Higgy? Have you met anyone yet?”

Cindi smiled, “I have no time for a man in my life, Laura.” Feeling a chill go up her spine, Cindi said, “Something happened, I am just not sure if I am imagining it or not.” Laura stood, saying, “Hang on, Higgy, I will get Tom to watch the children.” Waving at Tom to watch the children. Laura walked out to the patio in the back of their California home. Sitting on the chaise lounge she said, “I am outside now, it’s quieter. Tell me what happened?” Cindi replied, “Do you remember when I told you about Danny Davis and the story of my teen years?” Laura replied, “I remember, why?”

Cindi said, “I got an email last week from Danny. I have not heard or talked to him in ten years. All it said was if something happens to me you know where to look.” Laura, aghast, said, “What? That is cryptic. Did you reply?” Cindi said, “I was so stunned. The email came from Flaming Feather, his code name. When I went back to read it again, it was gone.” Laura, surprised, said, “Wow! He had to do some searching to find you Higgy, and then to find your current email, send the message and then make it to look like it never existed. What are you going to do?” Cindi replied thoughtfully, “I will do nothing. That part of my life is best left buried. I do not want to open that door again. It is too risky, and life is good. I cannot mess that up.” Laura replied, “That is probably for the best.” Looking up, Laura saw Tom standing at the door, with a crying red-faced Charlotte. Laura said, “Looks like Tom is having trouble with the baby. Text me some pictures of your kitchen and text me as soon as you hear about that promotion. I got to go, Bye Higgy, I love you girlfriend.”

Cindi stood from the table and put her dishes in the sink. Taking a few pictures of the kitchen, she texted them to Laura and then decided with the rainy afternoon, it would be a good idea to take a nap and read that new romance novel she picked up last week at the bookstore.

Monday morning started as usual. Stopping at the Coffee Shop and walking to work. It was still raining. As Cindi entered the office, she closed her umbrella and moved to her desk. Looking at her in-box, she found three more files of new accounts. Placing them on her desk, Cindi sat down, ready to work on the new files. A few minutes later, Gina, her boss, stopped at her desk and said, “Great job on the Marshall Bank account. Can you stop in my office this afternoon? I would like to discuss your new job duties. Congratulations Cindi, the promotion is yours.” Cindi smiled and said, “Really? I got the promotion. Sure, I will be there promptly at one. Thank you, Gina.” Gina beamed, saying, “You deserve it Cindi. I will see you this afternoon.”  When Gina had walked away, Cindi swung her office chair in a circle in celebration of her new promotion. Picking up her phone, she quickly texted Laura, ‘I got the promotion!’

Setting her phone down, Cindi opened the top file on the pile she received in her in box and started working. Looking at her watch, thinking it was time for lunch, she would have just enough time to have a sandwich and go to her meeting with Gina. Hearing her cell phone vibrate, she looked to see a number from California calling. Answering, she said, “Hello?” She heard a man’s voice say, “Good morning, am I speaking with Cindi Higgins? This is Samuel Herschel; I am the attorney for Daniel Davis.” Cindi felt like her heart was about to stop. Trying to take a breath, she found it difficult. She said into her phone, “This is Cindi Higgins, what can I do for you?”  Mr. Herschel replied, “I am sorry to tell you this over the phone, Ms. Higgins, but Mr. Davis has passed and named you as the executor of his estate. I was wondering if you could come to Los Angeles in the next few days to settle the estate.”

Cindi whispered, “Danny is dead? I have not seen or heard from him in ten years. Why would he leave everything to me? How did he die?” Sam Herschel replied, “Mr. Davis informed me you were the closest he had to family, saying you would know what to do with his estate. I am sorry to inform you; they have ruled his death as suspicious. You have not heard from Mr. Davis in ten years? That’s odd.” Cindi felt the energy leave her body, saying, “Suspicious? What does that mean?” Sam replied, “All I can tell you Ms. Higgins is that his death is still being investigated.” Cindi, taking a deep breath, asked, “Mr. Hershel, do I really need to come to Los Angeles to settle the estate or can we do it by email?”  Sam Herschel said, “Mr. Davis has left you his house, and all his belongings, and a considerable amount of money. You will need to come to my office to sign the paperwork, receive the new deed and keys to the home.”

Cindi’s thoughts started flying a mile a minute. She had just received a promotion. Then her heart sank when she remembered the email, she received from Danny last week. Quieting her mind, she said, “Mr. Herschel, I will need to make some arrangements here at work, can I call you later this afternoon, with a time I can arrive?” Mr. Herschel replied, “Yes, that would be fine. I will email you my office location so you can make the proper transportation arrangements. I will look forward to hearing from you later today. Good day, Ms. Higgins.” 

Cindi set her phone down on her desk. Her eyes filled with tears. Danny was dead. Fear entered every core of her body. Danny’s death was suspicious and with the email he sent her last week, he knew what was coming. What the hell has he dragged her into now? There is no other choice, I will have to see this attorney. Feeling like her past was rushing back into her life, against her will, Cindi stood and walked out of her office to sit on her favorite bench outside. She needed some air; it was hard to breathe. Sitting on the bench, she was unaware of her surroundings. Her mind kept going over the email, Arctic Eagle, if anything happens to me you know where to look. She had no choice. She would have to go to Los Angeles. She would have to find what Danny wanted her to find. Forty-five minutes later, she entered the building. She slowly walked over to Gina’s office.

 Cindi knocked softly on Gina’s office door. Hearing Gina say come in; Cindi entered her office. Gina looked at her watch before saying, “Cindi, right on time.”  Cindi sat down in the chair across from Gina’s desk saying, “Gina, something has come up. There has been a death in what you would call my family, and I need to go to Los Angeles and close out the estate. I know you scheduled this meeting to talk about my promotion. Thank you for having the confidence in me to award me with the promotion, I appreciate it. I am sorry, but I need to use my vacation time to handle this.”

Gina looked at Cindi quizzically. “Family? Cindi, when you came to work for me, I understood that you grew up in foster care. What has happened?” Tears rushed to Cindi’s eyes, “It was one of the other foster children in our home, Danny Davis. He has left everything to me, and his attorney has asked I come to California to settle the estate. His attorney asked that I come to Los Angeles to sign the needed paperwork. The attorney said there is a home involved. I need to find a real estate agent to put the house up for sale. As soon as I am done with that I will be returning.” Gina looking surprised said, “It wasn’t one of the boy’s you they arrested you with was it?” Cindi nodded silently, saying, “I haven’t seen or heard from Danny in ten years so I do not understand why he would do this. I do not even know how he found me. When your sister, Camila, made the arrangements for me to come here to start a new life, I know she did not tell anyone what she was doing and took great care in making sure no one would find me. So, I am as surprised as you are.”

Gina nodded her head. Remembering when her sister Camila called her about Cindi. She said she was one of the most talented hackers she had ever seen. A young girl tied into a group that could have destroyed her life. She thought Cindi was a decent girl who could make a difference in the world with her talents. So, she agreed to give her the start she needed, setting her up in an apartment over her best friend Dana’s coffee shop and giving her a job. Over the past eight years, Cindi had flourished and proved her worth to White Hat Risk Assessment.

Gina looked at Cindi and said, “I understand Cindi, take the two weeks and when you return, we will get you set up with your new team. I am bringing four new employees in from around the States. They are young, with similar backgrounds such as yours. I believe you are the one to guide them into becoming assets to White Hat. When are you planning on leaving?” Cindi replied, “I will make the arrangements to leave from Denver tomorrow. If that is okay with you.” Gina said, “Okay, give your new account files to Mary, and check in with me, letting me know when you will return. In the meantime, I will have your team settled in and ready to start when you get back. Why don’t you go home and get things settled to leave? I am sorry you have to deal with this Cindi.” Cindi gratefully looked at Gina saying, “Thank you Gina, I will call you soon.”

Cindi went back to her desk. Straightening her desk, she took her new work files to Mary, saying, “Mary, I have to leave for two weeks to take care of some family business, Gina asked me to give you these new accounts to complete.” Mary replied, “Sure Cindi, is everything okay?” Cindi nodded, and said, “Yes, just some unexpected family business to deal with. I will see you in two weeks.” Cindi went back to her office, got her bag, and walked back to her apartment, stopping into the coffee shop to let Dana know that she was leaving for a couple weeks.

Entering her apartment, Cindi sat down at her desk in the living room, opening her laptop. She quickly made flight arrangements to Los Angeles and organized a Lyft to take her to the Denver airport at nine am the next morning. Checking her email, she saw she had received the email from Sam Herschel. Cindi mapped out his office, finding a hotel within a two-block area. Making one night of reservations, she thought if Danny had left her his house, when she got the keys from Mr. Herschel, she could take a Lyft to the house and stay there. Emailing Mr. Herschel her travel arrangements, she informed him she would be in his office at ten a.m. the day after tomorrow.

Cindi went into her bedroom to pack her suitcase for her upcoming trip. Once completed with that task, she went back to her laptop finding an acknowledgement for the appointment time with Mr. Herschel. Closing her laptop, Cindi quickly reopened it. She conducted an internet search for Danny Davis. Finding nothing but the article of their arrest, she again closed her laptop. Going into the kitchen, she poured herself a glass of wine and settled into the plush deep brown couch in her living room. Taking a sip of the wine, she set the glass on the coffee table in front of her and picked up her cell phone without looking at it. She should call Laura and let her know she was coming. Staring at her phone for a few minutes, she thought better of it. She would call Laura when she got settled into Danny’s house, a house that was now hers. Picking up her glass her wine, she said to herself, if anything happens to me, you know where to look. With a deep feeling in her gut, she knew that her life was about to take an unexpected left turn; she downed the rest of her glass of wine, drew a hot bath, and went to bed.

The next morning, Cindi rose and quickly dressed, getting ready to leave. Carrying her suitcase down the flight of stairs, she walked out the door of the apartment and into the Coffee shop, where she ordered a large Mocha Latte and a Cranberry Scone to go. Seeing the Lyft pull up in front of the coffee shop, her coffee and scone in hand, she pulled her suitcase behind her out the door. The driver loaded her suitcase in the trunk while she settled into the back seat for the hour and a half drive to the Denver airport. Taking a sip of her hot coffee, she placed it in the cup holder next to her and pulled the romance novel she had started the other night out of her bag. Reading a romance novel would keep her thoughts of what was coming at bay.

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