Here is a snipit from the sequel to Salem’s Daughters yet to be titled. I’ve received numerous emails from readers upset that they feel Salem’s Daughters has ended.
So I’m including a chapter from the next installment to let you know the story is not finished (cats have nine lives) and Debbie Stevens will have her day.
Here is a teaser chapter. Enjoy and I hope to see you return for a number of new novels set for release in the near future. Again, thank you and enjoy!
Debbie Stevens stood at the end of the off-ramp that snaked its way from the ten-lane Interstate 94. What was once a lush countryside with small family owned farms was now transformed into sprawling housing tracts with cookie cutter houses, strip malls, schools and parks. Her memory of an agrarian time gone by was now replaced by fifty-square miles of planned concrete communities.
The off-ramp, paid for by investors of a world-class hangout for the rich and famous, directed visitors to Oak Hill Hotel and Resort without the inconvenience of a single red light or stop sign. The group anticipated every need of their entitled guests, including the annoyance of having to give the right-of-way to someone else.
The four hundred and eighty-eight room hideaway of pleasure, seven restaurants, an eighteen-hole golf course and world class casino easily consumed the twenty-five acres where her bed and breakfast once stood. Murcat Manor was the place she and her then husband and soulmate, Bob Stevens, would raise four children, have a source of income, and provide a house of residence.
Disheartened, Debbie huffed a sigh as she looked to her left, then right, imagining two-lane country roads peppered on each side by one hundred acre farms with hens clucking in the front yards and cattle roaming the fields. The names of the families who owned the properties for generations were painted on the roofs of giant red barns, shouting with pride to those driving by.
She shook her head clear of the thoughts. Her reality was a lost memory. She wasn’t sure what shot daggers into her heart more; the recollections she shared with Bob, or the beautiful serene countryside overran by a sprawling concrete jungle where buildings took the place of trees and people replaced animals.
Debbie was alone in this world. She was an outcast from a time gone by and forgotten by the collective human race. The only person on the outside she knew was Detective Darrowby, the menacing shadow following her, ready to send her back to prison for fifteen murders she did not commit.
Debbie quivered all over, freeing herself of thoughts she realized were leading toward depression and self-pity. Back to the present. She had to stay strong and overcome a familiar challenge where she was no longer on her home turf.
Debbie looked again at the slope leading up to the exclusive A-list celebrity retreat. Blue skies with crisp white clouds framed the spring day as the resort at the top of the hill stood like a beacon, calling out to those who’ve transcended ninety-nine percent of the population.
The property was more than a vacation getaway. It was an escape where individuals and families could slip away from their reality. Oak Hill Hotel and Resort was a landing spot for social celebrities, famous athletes and entertainers, and the corporate elite seeking to fly below the radar where no one would know they were there.
Not that she would recognize half the celebrities and dignitaries the Paparazzi would spend countless hours and dollars to photograph. The place was a self-contained haven. No one would have to leave the premises. Everything they needed the staff provided.
Debbie considered herself. Now, after twenty-seven years, she was paroled under circumstances she nor Darrowby could comprehend.
She was completely on her own. She had no family. No friends. No support group. All she owned was a small pittance of slave-labor earnings—remunerations for preparing gourmet food for the warden and staff. A small trade-off to keep her away from the general prison population and in a one-person cell or with a handpicked and non-threatening cellmate.
The clothes she wore were purchased from a Salvation Army store in downtown Battle Creek next to the one room attic in a garage she rented. It was small with minimal furnishings, but an improvement over the Cockroach Inn she’d been in the week before.
Her simple attire had a nice fit, although somewhat wrinkled and frumpy. She looked at herself and thought she could pass as a well-to-do homeless person or as someone who’d fallen asleep in her clothes from the previous day.
Herein lied the conflict: Debbie Stevens has a mission. She needs to destroy thirteen disembodied witches living inside the bodies of cats. They’ve killed three times in this their seventh life. And events are escalating.
But how does she get inside the resort? She’s broke and has no connections.
She’s not a loser, however. Debbie is an overcomer, confident she can move forward.
Money. I need money—and lots of it. She had one ace to play, and now was the time to play it.
Debbie, back at her humble garage dwelling, started instigating her plan. She contacted a handful of media groups from among dozens who, over her incarcerated stint, had begged for the high-in-demand story she had. For the better part of three decades she had declined to speak to everyone. The media. Best-selling authors. Top tier television screenwriters. Graduate students working on research papers that could result in award winning and lucrative books—their first big break into being renowned. After all, Debbie Stevens was the most prolific woman serial killer in recent memory, thanks to Detective Darrowby.
Within twenty-four hours the media groups all responded to her with pretty much the same generous offers; a cool one-hundred-thousand dollars. Some offered additional perks: first rights to any ensuing book and/or movie rights and various percentages of royalties they would pay. But whichever one she chose, she was assured of at least one hundred large—up front.
One stipulation she insisted on: she would give her story and get paid for an exclusive, but she demanded the story cannot be released for thirty days after the interview. Plenty of time to take care of Emily and her twelve demented followers without drawing media attention to her.
Satisfied she was getting her scheme well-funded soon, she went back to the resort. She stood once again, taking in the expanse of luxurious accommodations, musing over times and horrors long since past.
“Excuse me, Miss. Can we help you?”
Debbie’s thoughts were broken. She turned to see a security vehicle, black with blue highlights, hovering silently behind her two feet off the ground.
Where they behind me the whole time?
The sleek and graceful machine, shaped like a low-rider golf cart built for speed, inched its way next to her. Inside were two young men. The driver was squat and sported what looked like a homemade crewcut. His partner was so thin Debbie was sure his pants would fall to his ankles if he stepped out of the vehicle.
Crudely Cut Crew Cut leaned out the window. “Miss, what are you doing? Can we help you? Are you lost?”
Although stunned, Debbie quickly recovered—a trait she learned early in prison life. Her physical appearance must have triggered a red flag with security.
Debbie knew how to assess people in seconds. She glanced at their laminated name badges: Cruise and Jones. Police wannabes on a part-time, low benefits salary. Twenty-seven years in prison can teach a person to react and change from a defensive position to offensive.
She gave an innocent smile. “How much does it cost to stay here for a three-day weekend?”
Laughter filled the security vehicle followed by fist-pumping. Debbie now saw two juvenile assholes. Crew Cut’s comments confirmed her assessment.
“Lady, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.”
Skinny Bones Jones leaned over and pointed a pale, boney finger. “Now turn around and leave. Or we’ll have to ticket you for loitering and report you to the local police.”
This would violate her parole. She could see Darrowby’s arrogant smirking grin as he visited her in prison, his voice echoing in her mind: I knew you’d be back.
“Okay. I’m leaving. You have a wonderful place here. Thank you.”
Crew Cut opened his door and swayed out, dropping the two feet and not missing a step as he tried in vain to impress her. “I think I need to make sure you’re not a threat.”
Debbie fought to hold back a laugh. Hilarious, these punks trying to give her a difficult time because of her appearance. God help them if either tried to touch her.
“Hey, relax big guy. My name is Debbie Elaine Stevens.”
He gave her the stink eye. “Are you from around here?”
“Born and raised.”
Jones stepped out as he made sure his belt was on tight, pulled out what looked like a hand-held grocery scanner from when she was a free woman, and waved it over her right eye.
Three beeps confirmed her identity.
“Hey Mick, she’s who she claims to be. Debbie Elaine Stevens. But get this. She was released from the Southern Michigan Correctional Center last week.”
Cruise’s smirk dropped to disdain. “A parolee? Really?” He grabbed for his handcuffs. “I should arrest you right now.”
Debbie reached out to rub the back of his neck, then slapped him twice softly on the cheek. “It’s okay, handsome. I’m the original owner of this property. You know, before it was developed for this palatial estate, where you now work for meager wages and crappy benefits.”
Cruise’s disdain now changed into to rage. “Oh, you think you’re real funny? A parolee, who’s probably homeless and mentally ill, wants to go one-on-one with me?”
Jones grabbed his belt and pulled up his security-issued dark blue pants. “Hey, get this. She was recently paroled, even though she was suspected for fifteen murders.”
Debbie could only respond with a wicked smile. “That’s right, gents.”
Jones raised one eye at Debbie. “Whoa. Fifteen deaths.”
“Fifteen?” Crew Cut took three steps back.
Jones pointed at Debbie but continued to look at his hand-held device. “That’s not all. The previous two properties burned to the ground as did hers. Nineteen people in all died.”
Crew Cut took a slow moment to consider. “That’s thirty-four dead people total.”
Debbie widened her sideways smile. “You’re not giving me enough credit. Three people died here since the grand opening. Looks like my legacy proceeds me. Make that thirty-seven.”
Jones looked to Debbie then to his partner. “Screw this. I’m quitting. I remember hearing stories these grounds are cursed. I have an associate degree in accounting from Kalamazoo Community College. I can do better than this.”
Cruise mocked his partner. “Get a grip. And pull up your pants. No one believes in curses anymore. That’s ancient superstition that cannot be tolerated in today’s world of modern physics and technology.”
Jones took off his laminated name tag and tossed it into the hover mobile. “I’m out. Take me back to Human Resources so I can get my deposit back on this uniform.”
This brief but timely distraction was what Debbie needed to walk away. “Hey guys, I’m leaving.” She gave a flip of her hand as she walked away. “See you around.”
Debbie spun on her heels and walked away at a brisk pace. She knew her world had changed. Science now ruled the day while religion and anything that could not be observed and quantified in a Bunsen burner was discarded like an empty fast-food cheeseburger wrapper.
But this faithless world would be the wild card she would use where no one else would recognize it. Debbie fiercely guarded her faith. She had refused to allow prison to kill her spirit. She had not just kept in shape. Debbie had worked out vigorously with cardio and weight training. She even had an inmate with world-class skills teach her basic self-defense and combat training.
She’d also made the most of her time in the kitchen; lifting bulk boxes of food and hustling rather than doing the least amount of work possible as did most inmates. Another fringe benefit of having the job of gourmet cook for the privileged was that she could eat well and healthy.
As a result, Debbie had combined her physical, mental, and spiritual talents to develop herself into a killing machine whose sole mission was to destroy this cursed generational evil.
Debbie surveyed the property and its physical layout, standing far enough outside the grounds’ perimeter to be safe from being hassled. Her first thought; how would Rebecca burn as much of the resort as possible into smoldering ashes? And she was certain not only had Madelyn brought the group up to speed with the latest in technology, but they would use this to better utilize their supernatural gifts.
She’d need to find a copy of blueprints for Oak Hill Hotel and Resort and memorize the schematics. In a few days she’d have one hundred thousand dollars cash to fund her mission against Emily Livingston and her four centuries old coven.