Cover Design: The Final Wrap
Photo: Wander Aguiar
Models: Colton Benson
Christie’s Hercule Poirot. It didn’t matter. The guy was a grade A prick.
one to back down.
opened the door for a new detective—maybe one who had her act together.
a second chance, or that he’d look even better than I ever imagined. Characters
die and everyone moves on—that’s the way it works. Sometimes it’s even necessary
for the story to progress.
that he’s just the man to handle the case. He vows to keep me safe in exchange
for his life.
usually get. Sit where you normally do. That kind of thing. Don’t get too
focused on looking for a suspect. That’s my job.” Jake hit his turn signal and
switched lanes. I was riding shotgun in the shiny black Raptor I’d written for
him and, any moment now, I was going to wake up back in bed, having dreamt this
entire thing. I rubbed my damp palms against my jeans and focused on my
know my schedule for a typical day. When I mentioned that I wrote at a local
coffee shop a couple of times a week, his eyes lit up. I was relieved that I’d
left out the fact that I worked at a salon in the afternoons and evenings
because there was not a chance in hell of me letting him tag along there.
studied me for a second, giving a slight head shake at my you’ve got to
be kitten me right meow, t-shirt. “This is the place?” He looked through
the windshield at the Cold Brews Co. sign and then back at me.
“It looks like a bar.”
to keep me safe did weird things to my heart, even if it was coming from Jake.
I fought the urge to pump my fist in the air while laughing like a lunatic.
get back home,” he finished with a pouty smirk.
gone forever once the handcuffs were off.
unbuckled and climbed down to the pavement.
pose as he held the coffee shop door open for me. “Like this.”
staring.” He hissed, glancing around.
over the espresso machine as the door jingled above our heads, announcing our
arrival. “The usual?”
joy and tranquility that tried to flee when Jake entered a room. “Yeah, that’ll
be perfect. Thanks, Damien. How’d Paul do on his test?”
with a dramatic eye roll. “Nailed it. Like he does everything else. I just have
to talk him off the ledge every time though. How’d I end up the motivator in
this relationship? I swear.”
good things life has to offer,” I reminded him as I selected a bottled water
from the refrigerated case
everyone’s life story,” Jake quietly taunted at my back, his body inches from
mine. A shudder worked its way down to my toes as the scent of campfire and
pine flooded my nostrils.
definitely detecting hints of clean laundry that had been dried on a
clothesline mixed with something.
while looking up at him adoringly. Just like I’d witnessed the younger couples
that frequented this place do on more than one occasion. But this time, it’d be
me experiencing something other than abject disappointment.
pinning me in place. I’d just bet that his fingers would curl in possessively,
marking me as his to anyone who dared to look. The cold air blasted around
bottles of juice and water, yet inside, I was sweltering.
straightened with a shaky exhale and carried my water over to the register,
doing my best to ignore my flushed cheeks and the giant I came in with.
mocha before noticing Jake. “Hey, you brought a friend,” he exclaimed in his
know this man.”
defile me in front of the poor beverage case, either, in case you were
stage-whispered, raising his eyebrows up and down suggestively as he snagged me
a cinnamon roll from the case.
personally think when excitement comes packaged like that, you thank the
universe and don’t ask questions. But, that’s just me. How’s Bootsy doing? Is
she still loving her holistic food?”
girls didn’t seem to be any different. Maybe check with the company—”
‘regular,’ if you know what I mean. Poor thing, uh, couldn’t get the job done
before. This food has really taken in her interconnectedness with her, um,
environment. She’s living her best holistic life now.”
counter with wide eyes and a what the fuck are you talking about expression
on his face.
Damien recommended. I went to the pet store with every intention of purchasing
the all-natural, chock full of vitamins and omegas, and completely
grain-free canned cat food until I saw the price. At six bucks a tin,
I decided that I would just let Bootsy continue her unwholesome lifestyle.
Unfortunately, Damien asked about it the very next time I was in, and instead
of coming clean, I told a little white lie. He’d just made it seem like letting
your fur baby eat anything else was bad pet parenting. And, it wasn’t like he
would ever know. He wasn’t going to show up to my apartment, demanding to see
the contents of Bootsy’s litter box.
for her. Oh, have you noticed how much more connected she is spiritually to you
now? I swear, I recommend it to everyone.”
the front pocket of my backpack. “Definitely. So… Zen. Well, I better get to
juggling the cinnamon roll and mocha as I made my way to the wooden table near
the back. It was the only table with an outlet that was out of direct
sugar. I found that it was the best seat in the house for eavesdropping, which
was a win-win for an author in need of a story.
walls and ceiling beams to the vintage signs and old produce case turned
bookshelf, it was the perfect place to let my creativity flow.
off a balcony at this very table. It held a special place in my heart.
in a low voice. Instinctively, I turned to where his voice came from just in
time to see him add sugar to his coffee.
keeping the other half in his pocket for his next caffeine fix. When I heard
the distinct sound of paper being folded, a victorious smirk spread across my
face. God, I loved being right.
appeared as if he was having a conversation with the various creamers.
What about this investigation is funny to you? See, someone shoots up my door,
I’m not laughing. Then again, I’m not trying to have a spiritual intervention
with my cat.”
retrieving my laptop from the backpack at my feet. “You’re just so—” What was
he? “Predictable. Everything you do is exactly the way I wrote it. Sometimes,
I’m even convinced that I know what you’re going to do next before you do.”
screen. Judging by how vigorously he was using it, I’d gotten under his skin.
after all, operating on an entirely different plane than the rest of the world.
I’ll be across the room; try to act normal.”
that when you’re watching me from across the room?”
or going. Let me handle that. Tap your finger twice against the table if you
capable of saving the world. All she needed was her trusty laptop and some
He snagged a newspaper off an empty table and tucked it under his arm before
moving toward a table near the front. From there, he’d be able to see everyone
coming and going.
before pulling up my manuscript.
most upstanding citizens. It was unfathomable to think that any one of them
could’ve been responsible for the body lying in the street, but her instincts
told her that was exactly the case.
pulse of the cursor. I was simply rehashing what I’d already covered. In all
honesty, I had no idea what to do with Laura. Jake had pointed out her implied
elderliness more than once and now I couldn’t help but picture her as some
blue-haired granny with a cane.
chance of adding a love interest for friction. It was shit.
out of this story. She’d gotten roped into playing the main character after the
author killed off the other one. Laura didn’t want to be next.
Obviously, he was enjoying the drivel I was spewing out about as much as I was.
confirmed what I already knew. I needed a new main character. Someone who was
younger. Female. Maybe she’d been exposed to law enforcement by a former
boyfriend or family member. Just enough that she’d know her way around a crime
scene—oh my god.
rattling the plate containing my half eaten cinnamon roll. I just needed to act
for Plan A, which was for him to meet me in the bathroom. I was going to have
to go with Plan B. I walked over behind his table and looked out the large
glass garage door that they opened during the summer months.
my arms overhead and yawned loudly.
lowering the paper.
tried again, this time lowering my voice. “I have a question. About the book.”
about Laura—oh man, what a beautiful day it is! Sorry, I thought that person
was coming over here. We gotta stay discreet, right? So, I’m starting to think
that maybe she’s not the right character. I was wondering if maybe—”
from the table, the legs scraping loudly against the concrete floor.
spies. Although I really felt like I was starting to get the hang of it.
followed his gaze over to the counter where Damien was waving slyly at me.
through the front door.
all?” Damien carried a damp cloth in his hand, but he wasn’t here to wipe down
the table. He was here for the dirt.
guess.” I kept sneaking furtive glances toward the parking lot, hoping to catch
a glimpse of my surly detective.
most high maintenance thing in my life. I don’t have room for another. Would
you mind boxing up my cinnamon roll and getting me a to-go cup? I’m just not
feeling my muse this morning.”
there was no scenario where Jake suddenly developed feelings for me. He’d said
just as much before we came in.
consoling me with promises of what he’d do to Jake’s drink if he ever bothered
showing up again. By the time I made it outside, the air had turned cooler and
clouds darkened the sky. I walked around to the back parking lot.
greeting, as I struggled to climb up into the truck with full hands
cinnamon roll from my hands before helping me up. “Hi, Hayden. This will come
as a bit of a shock to you, but you stick out like a sore thumb.”
began to fall on the windshield. “You were about as inconspicuous as a beer
vendor at an AA meeting. And what the fuck was that cat food conversation?”
passenger side window.
operation failed miserably?”
exterior would’ve matched the interior.
parking lot. So, probably. Maybe. Alright, fine. Yes. There’s a very good
chance that if someone was watching, they probably saw us together. It’s mostly
oil spray.” His speech was slow and measured like I’d suddenly stopped speaking
English. “What does that mean exactly?”
morning, I am drained by lunch. You know, it gets way too people-y out there.”
station. “Hayden, I didn’t understand two words of what you just said. What the
fuck is an empath and how does oil spray factor into this investigation?”
know about oils and empaths?
measure. It blocks any energy attacks and keeps me running on a full tank. It’s
vital when I’m in writing mode.”
spray kept the stalker away?”
too. I swear, I didn’t even think about it being a problem. It’s just a habit
to keep them in my purse. I mean, it’s not like I typically go out in search of
safe from the bad people?”
you could really benefit from it. I’d start small. Maybe keep some black
tourmaline in your truck and house. Oh, amethyst would be a good one for you;
they work as both a protector and a stress reliever. It’d definitely make
things more bearable for you at work. Hematite’s another—”
world to make some people bearable. Do you catch what I’m saying?”
back of my eyelids burned and I knew that if I tried to talk, it’d just come
out as a sob. That, in turn, would just freak Jake out completely.
their minds. Me? I cried and babbled incoherently.
her, the majority of my emotions, including anger, were expressed through
tears. Aaris? She was in a separate category known as ‘dry angry.’ She
expressed her anger like anger—it both amazed and scared the hell out of me.
“What are you thinking?”
across the window to answer. “I was just thinking that thirty stories wasn’t
clever stories, usually to get herself out of trouble. Her mother was not
amused. In junior high, she began writing fractured fairy tales from the
villain’s point of view and that was the moment she knew that she was going to
use her powers for evil instead of good.
After some relentless stalking and a few well-timed sarcastic remarks, the man
eventually gave in to her charms and wifed her so hard. They welcomed a son in
2007 that they named after their favorite Marvel superhero, Spiderman.
every day, the three escaped back to the desolate landscape of the west Texas
desert in 2009. She welcomed her second son not long after and soon realized
that being surrounded by three men was nothing at all like she’d imagined in
she decided to pen a novel about the worst thing that could happen to a person
in order to cheer herself up. She’s twisted like that. Thus, From This Day
Forward was born and the rest, as they say, is history.
fondness for being stalked. Visit her at www.shannonshaemyers.com to
keep up with her latest schemes and shenanigans.