(Release Date sometime in August)
Excerpt (Unedited) ~
Aiden looked up at the building and made sure the address was correct that Maxine texted him. He locked his car and moved with long sure strides across the busy street weaving his way through the slow traffic. This Sonia Risen lived in a pretty decent neighborhood in Brooklyn right across the Manhattan Bridge on East fourth. The building was one of those kinds that had an eatery below it. The sign said Viola Italian Restaurant, he looked inside the window for a moment and wondered to himself how the food was. Right next to it was the door that led up to the upper floors where the apartments were housed. Four apartments, Aiden looked at the names and pressed the one for Sonia Risen.
Her voice came over the intercom soft but clear. “Yes?”
“Hey I’m Aiden O’Neil. Detective Maxine Brighton sent me.” Aiden said.
“Let me get her on the phone and make sure please,” Sonia replied.
“Listen… ” He sighed and pushed back his irritation. She was a girl who just saw two friends killed so checking to make her feel secure he’d just have to deal with it.
She spoke again. “Detective Brighton says to tell me your badge number.”
“Seven- nine-two-six,” he replied instantly. That was engrained in his memory, being a cop was his life for fifteen years.
Silence and then Aiden heard the sound of the intercom and her voice again. “Ok come on up.”
The door clicked and he took the stairs two at a time to the third floor and knocked on the door. The woman that opened it was stunning, Aiden sent her age at around twenty-seven and African American. Her skin was light brown reminding reminded him of beige satin. She was wearing a hunter green jumpsuit that was cuffed at the heels. Dark strappy heels and a silver heart shaped pendant on her neck. Her hair was cute pixie cut and she was immaculately dressed.
“Ms. Risen?” Aiden asked.
“Yes, thank your being patient, come on in,” she answered with a small smile.
She wore pale lip-gloss on her full lips. He looked at her, assessed her and looked at her deep brown eyes. Even though she was friendly her gaze and her body posture showed fear. Sonia Risen was a woman who was terrified for her life.
“Did I catch you on your way out?” Aiden asked as he stepped in.
“No why?” Sonia asked, looking puzzled.
“You’re dressed up,” he pointed out and assessed apartment. Her apartment had one main entry, fire escape, large windows facing the alley and two facing the street.
“Nope this is how I usually dressed,” Sonia answered. “Call it, me being conceited but I like to look good.”
“You do,” he agreed.
“Thank you, can I get you some coffee or maybe green tea?”
“Coffee, black is fine, I don’t know what green tea taste like but it will never past my lips,” Aiden answered.
She walked to the kitchen. “Its really very good for you antioxidants and stuff.”
“I’ll take your word for it,” he replied as he walked around her apartment.
It was tastefully decorated with small things that women collected, knick-knacks on the mantelpiece, artsy things on the wall. No pictures of family but some of other people, he noticed the woman Dana that was killed in one picture. Her face was all over the news so you couldn’t help but recognize her. It seems her friends were her family. Aiden wondered what her backstory entailed. In New York every one had a backstory.
“Here you go, hot and black,” She handed him a mug with a mustache. He raised an eyebrow and she smiled and teased. “It separates the male from female mugs.”
“Funny,” he sat down and she did as well. “So tell me about what’s going on.”
“Well its all over the new, I think me and my friends are targeted,” Sonia said. “Detective Brighton seems to think so too if not she wouldn’t have recommended I hire you.”
“Have you had an incidents to make you feel you’re in danger?” He asked.
“Not but I found Willa yesterday.” He watched as her eyes filled with tears. “She was the baby out of all my friends and what that sick person did.”
“Tell me about your friends,” he said trying to draw her attention away from the gruesome scene probably engrained in her mind’s eye.
Sonia smiled. “Willa was the gypsy, bohemian and artsy, Nathalie likes facts , she’s going to be a reporter in Portland, she’s there now. Chanelle and Serena and wealthy and kinda of into the status of what money can buy. Chanelle has problems in her marriage. Serena is a trust fund baby but still hangs on to Chanelle’s coat tails. She has more connections, more parties and the likes. Dana she was the one thing that bridge us all together and when she died, the haves stepped way from the have-nots.”
He looked around. “You seem to be doing pretty ok for yourself. Tell me about Sonia Risen.”
“I work for an advertising company in Manhattan, I like my job, I like to work for what’s mine,” she explained. “You appreciate what you have more if you work for, well that’s my opinion anyway. I read and play the flute but mainly I don’t want to die. Dana didn’t deserve it and neither did Willa.”
“You’re friend’s club seemed to cause someone to get pissed off, ever been there?” Aiden asked bluntly. “You know the wrong sex buddy could make a guy angry enough to kill. Ever fucked someone there and laughed about it, gossip, anything like that? Fetish clubs don’t always have the best element.”
Her eyes flashed angrily. “Let me make this cleat first off, my sexual partners and few and very far between. I don’t care if she was wearing a strap on and fucking men or women, Dana didn’t deserve to die for it. From what I’ve found out her place was tasteful and for people to open up in their sexuality. After what she had to live through with her dead husband I don’t blame her. None of us are whores or sex freaks Mr. O Neil and even if we were no one can take a life for some moral judgment handed down.”
Fire, nice, Aiden thought. “Gotcha still some one is targeting all of you.”
“I understand but don’t make us sound like perverts and it’s our fault,” she snapped. “Maybe you’re not right for this I don’t like anyone who snap judgments about me or anyone.”
“It’s all well and good to get upset and self righteous about yourself and your friends but it won’t stop a killer.” Aiden snapped right back. “Lady, if you want me to pat you on the back and dry your tears I’m not the right man for the job. But let’s be clear if I do take on this job, I’m not pussy footing around your delicate sensibilities. I’m here to stop your from dying a gruesome and painful death. What you think about me or what I think about you has nothing to do with it.”
“That’s very clear,” she said tersely and blinked furiously.
“You’d better get it through your head and dry up the tears welling up in your eyes,” Aiden snapped. “Fight or flight which do you chose, Sonia?”
“I chose fight, this is my life and no one has to right to take it,” Sonia straightened her back. “How much is your fee?”
“We’ll discuss that later…”
“No we’ll discuss it now, I like to know what I’m getting myself into from the start,” Sonia said. “Plus I want to hire you for something more.”
“Really what would that be?” Aiden asked.
“I want to investigate who killed Dana and Willa,” Sonia said. “You see I did my homework on you too, Mr. O’Neil and you were one of the best cops on the NYPD before the bullet that shattered your knee. I saw the small limp and I know the second bullet put you in the hospital for almost six weeks. So while I may not have the money Dana, Chanelle or Serena have I can afford to pay you and I would prefer it.”
He liked this woman, strong, good work ethic and grit. In a fight she wouldn’t crumble and beg for mercy. This killer would get off on it and she would take that from him. Now that he’d ever get a chance because Aiden decided then and there he’d help her. She met his blunt words with fire of her own and that impressed him. Still he low-balled her on the price, he had enough high paying clients. The cop that was forever part of him wanted to see this guy in jail facing multiple life sentences.
“Three hundred and fifty a day plus food and expenses, we can wave the retainer,” Aiden said.
“I’d prefer to pay it, what is it?” Sonia asked.
“Five thousand,” he answered.
Sonia stood and went into what he expected was the bedroom. She came out with her purse and in front of him wrote him a check. He wondered how much of a dent she just put into her bank account but didn’t say a word when she handed him the slip of paper. She had a lot of pride and savings, again her felt a sense of appreciation for this petite woman with a formidable personality.
“So when do we start?” She asked.
“I start by running down a few leads,” Aiden said and stood. “You stay here and you don’t go anywhere without me. I’ll be back tomorrow and we’ll figure out if you’re safe here or if I’m moving you to a safe house.”
“Didn’t I mention that I’ll be going with you while your investigating?” Sonia asked sweetly. “You took my retainer so now you work for me.”
Billie Arsceneaux is a transplant from Gentilly Louisiana to New York City. By day she teaches young women to dance and by night she delves into her writing. Being a creative free spirit it amazes even her that her muses tend to drive her books towards the darkness. With a vast knowledge of criminal profiling and behavioral analysis at her disposal, she creates characters with layers of complexities. One could only expect books that expose shadows in a dark corner and a killer lurking hunting for another victim. Billie weaves mystery and desire while her heroes and heroines fight for what they hold most dear. She invites you to enter her world and prepare for the ride of your life.