“If you are a fan of The Walking Dead then you should really enjoy this book.” — 5 Stars C Thrasher, Stephanie’s Book Reports Blog
“The epitome of a great zombie apocalypse novel!…I loved so much about this book. The storyline. Our strong female lead. Our hero who is much more than he seems on the outside…highly recommend!”–5 Stars Christy Wilson, Christy Herself Blog
“Acadia’s Law by Tracy Ellen has an awesome storyline that will keep you flipping the pages. Can’t wait for the next one!” –5 Stars A. Brantley, A Girl and Her Kindle Blog
Acadia’s Law–book one in an exciting thriller on the eve of the zombie apocalypse. Acadia King is a wealthy, young widow nervously planning to meet her first date in years at a hotel cocktail bar. But instead of a date, Acadia’s about to meet her inner badass, along with a hot football player and his clingy groupies, when a viral epidemic that turns people into homicidal crazies begins to sweep across the nation. Acadia and her new pals are caught in the terrifying panic when the infection erupts at the hotel. When greed, betrayal, and lawless chaos start to rule, Acadia finds out being tough is one thing, but does she have the skills and strength to be the leader their small band needs to survive? Or will she be the next victim of ruthless, relentless predators in a world gone crazy overnight? Acadia’s Law, a gripping zombie tale written with intelligence, wit, and the added twist of an intense sexual attraction that couldn’t happen at a worse time. Don’t miss this first book in a killer new series!
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I discovered the brand new world of indie authors a few years ago when I received my first Kindle and became hooked on reading zombie/apocalyptic books. Whether they’re novels based on the military fighting screaming hordes, or ordinary, everyday people frantically trying to survive, the stories in this subgenre of sci-fi / horror are a rush of nonstop excitement. I love excitement. Next, I volunteered to help edit another indie author’s zombie books. Soon after, I realized I wanted to write my own books, not simply edit.
I popped my self-published author cherry under my first, and longest, book-genre love by writing a series of contemporary romances under the title of “The Adventures of Anabel Axelrod”. After self-publishing my third book in the Anabel Axelrod series, I was incredibly grateful to be able to quit my day job and write full time.
Rubbing my hands together in glee, I dove into writing my long-awaited zombie book. The result was Acadia’s Law: Book One, Undying Love Series. I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I did researching and writing the story of Acadia and friends. (I even scared the sh*t out of myself one night when home alone and writing!)
Look for book two, Acadia’s Revenge in the summer of 2015 and book three, Acadia’s Apocalypse next fall.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I was driving behind a SUV and idly noted it was GMC Acadia. I said the word ‘Acadia” out loud and liked how it tasted. I then said, “Huh.” I thought a woman with that first name could only be razor-sharp intelligent, witheringly sarcastic, maturely practical, black-haired, silver-eyed and small-breasted, and potentially, an all-around badass zombie slayer. Thus, Acadia King was born.
Rod “Ram” Ramaldi, the half Italian-half Norwegian pro quarterback football star sprang from God knows where in my imagination. I only knew going in that a hot man much younger than Acadia was going to horrify her by relentlessly pursuing her butt in front of man and country, zombie apocalypse or no zombie apocalypse.
Acadia’s Law: Book One, Undying Love Series
“Man is the hunter, woman is his game. The sleek and shining creatures of the chase, we hunt them for the beauty of their skins; and they love us for it, and we ride them down.”–Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Wednesday, October 15, 2014 around 11:30 PM at King Farm…
It was a blur exactly when, but I’d kicked off my heels somewhere along the line tonight when the massacre began back in the hotel bar. Now running up the main staircase of King House, my bare feet made sticky slapping sounds on the hardwood treads. My heart pounded double time in concert with my feet. Terror clawed deep in my gut.
Inside, I screamed my denial at the unbelievable turn of events. “THIS was how my lame attempt at starting a new life will end before it even begins? Being chased up the stairs in my own house by Minnesota’s new starting quarterback–and he’s out for my blood?”
Speaking of blood, the front of my torn and ruined black cocktail dress was drenched in the stuff. Pumping my arms and climbing as fast I could, the strapless bodice stayed glued against my chest thanks mainly to the encrusted gore of a dead man. That fact didn’t help my hysteria level. With each running step, I felt clammy air on my exposed backside, or maybe it was the breath of the man after me.
Not much of a TV watcher or team sports fan, I had no idea who Roderick “Ram” Ramaldi was until a few minutes ago in my kitchen. Nor did I care. I never knew the name of Minnesota’s old quarterback, much less the brand new one.
When I first approached Rod’s table in the cocktail lounge earlier tonight, I’d overheard a group of girls huddled at the bar gushing that Rod was the illegitimate son of a married Italian woman and a playboy Norwegian Royal. It had struck me a little odd they’d known such personal information about some random man at a bar, but I blew it off as idle gossip. That was easy to do because anybody from Minnesota knew the term ‘playboy Norwegian’ was an oxymoron. I hadn’t paid much attention to the girl’s chatter after that because, like football, the loins Rod sprang from were another thing I couldn’t care less about. My loins, however, were a different story and why I was there in the hotel. Rod was the sexiest man I had ever laid eyes on, bar none.
He’d introduced himself to me simply as Rod Ramaldi. I had presumed the two other men leering at the colorful array of women sprinkled around their table were Rod’s carousing wingmen. I learned they were indeed his carousing wingmen, and his teammates. Offensive linemen, I believe was the correct term.
The huge men sure had the offensive part nailed down. They referred to Rod as Ram. It goes to show you the state of my mind back at the hotel bar that I viewed Rod’s nickname of Ram as a positive. Coupled with his first name, I had hoped it referred to his bedroom prowess. That small spark of attraction I’d felt earlier was just what I needed to start my new life. Or save my life, depending on your perspective of my long bout of depression.
Instead, a couple hours later, here I was running up the stairs in fear for my life.
Rounding left at the first landing on the Y-shaped grand staircase, my frantic glance fell down to the open hallway far below. Crowding together with their heads pointing up, I got a quick snapshot impression of my friends and family. They stood there with their mouths hanging open, slack-jawed. I was simply grateful nobody else was following us up the stairs yet.
Chasing after me, Rod’s legs were like pistons and seemed twice as long as mine, eating up three stairs to my scrambling one. Luckily, I had enough of a head start on him and this was my house. Bounding up and over the last wooden tread, I gripped the bottom of the carved pineapple finial that topped the balustrade. As I had done countless times, I swung myself tightly around the post and propelled my body down the second story hallway of the family wing.
Flying past closed doors, I flung open the last one on the right. It crashed against the doorstop with a loud “boing” and was springing back when I ran across the threshold into my bedroom. Throwing the heavy door closed behind me, I whipped around to lock it. I caught a glimpse of Rod’s furious eyes and bloody face. He went for me just as the door clicked shut.
I threw my weight against the wood and quickly turned the deadbolt above the glass doorknob. Bending down, I lifted the cane bolt lock mounted vertically near the bottom edge of the door and then twisted, ramming home several inches of the foot long iron rod into the designated circular hole in the floor.
Leaning my sweating forehead against the secured door, I panted while the big football player pounded on the other side. The deadbolt was not some rinky dink hardware store model, but the best steel money could buy. The cane bolt lock made it nearly impossible to kick the door open without first destroying the door itself. Milled over one hundred years ago from a black walnut stand on the property near the lake, all the doors in King House were solid as rocks. Rod “Ram” Ramaldi could do his worst, but short of exploding the door off its hinges, he wasn’t getting in anytime soon. I was safe for now.
The sheer stupidity of that thought caused me to moan. I fell to my bare knees in drained exhaustion, shaking with delayed reaction. I fought the urge to throw up from the awful stench rising from my dress and suffocating me. Horrifying images flashed across my brain.
I had killed people tonight.
Now that I stopped running, flipping out may be next on the agenda. I feared nothing would ever be normal or safe again.
Scully: “On the old mariner maps, the cartographers would design unexplored territories by simply writing ‘Here Be Monsters’.”
Mulder: “I’ve seen the same thing on maps of New York City.”–The X Files
From the beginning…
I call it the cruelest example of Murphy’s Law, and most people could at least agree it is horribly ironic, that the hotel bar where I finally try to start a life again is the same hotel bar that may be ground zero to the end of the world.
Of course, I didn’t know any of this at the beginning of my evening.
To accomplish my goal to begin the new ‘happier me’ chapter of my life, I’d sneakily researched days ahead of time for the perfect hotel bar on the 494 strip in Bloomington. The bar needed to meet my requirements of catering to a certain, classier clientele and my desire for anonymity.
I decided on the Radisson Blu Mall of America Hotel for its proximity to the airport. The newer hotel also had the distinction of being the only hotel connected directly to the Mall of America by a skybridge. Normally those would be reasons for me to avoid a hotel, but the Radisson Blu’s predominant clientele during the weeknights were travelling businessmen. Travelling businessmen happened to be my targeted demographic.
No matter how much fun it would be to place the blame on my three best girlfriends for forcing me to go out, my own procrastination to keep my word is what caused me to be at the Radisson Blu on the particular fateful night in question.
The weird stuff started happening while I was sitting in my car in the parking ramp of the hotel. Procrastinating again, instead of going directly inside, I was admiring my image in the visor mirror. I couldn’t stop staring at my exotically unfamiliar reflection. I rather liked the looks of the gray-eyed, blonde staring back. I have a secret fascination for slutty party girls in the way a lot of women do for their polar opposites, but I still felt awkward dressing like one.
As a jeans and boots woman; I rarely wear dresses and high heels. Walking in the ridiculously tall shoes without falling flat on my face would be challenging. The possibility of sitting down and forgetting to keep my legs together in my mini dress made me anxious. As for the cosmetics, I never wear makeup like it was slathered on right now, plus my hair has never been this…big in my life.
Thinking about my hair, I wanted to scratch my itching scalp. But God forbid I mess up one strand of the shining platinum masterpiece that was sprayed to within an inch of its life.
I delayed more by allowing my mind to drift over the issue of my hair. When my girlfriends had fussed over getting me ready in my bedroom earlier tonight, I’d complained most about the big hair.
Jane, single mom, boutique owner, and fashionista, had smacked away my hovering hands. “If you want to be stunning tonight then leave it alone.” I’d snorted while Jane sprayed even more crap on my head. She set the giant can aside and lightly chucked my chin with a finger. “Ah come on, honey, lighten up. Your hair’s rocking it.”
I eyed the long mass of shining curls in the dressing table mirror. I had serious doubts about that. “Yeah, if my name was Sugar and I hailed from 1980s Texas.”
My other friend, Liz snickered as she spun me around on the stool to face her. An ex-model, Liz specialized in marrying, but was currently between extremely rich husbands. Liz warned me on the threat of death to hold still while she expertly made up my face for my big night ahead.
I obeyed, but I wasn’t done about the hair. Like women across the globe, I can talk without moving my lips. “I bet with a good butt of this stiff helmet head, I could severely maim anyone that gets out of line tonight at the bar. Any takers?”
Jane huffed and Liz laughed, but my third friend, Deb had jumped at the offer with all seriousness. “Twenty bucks says you can’t.” Deb waved her wine glass. A frown of confused worry marred her brow. She was the mother hen of our group. “Wait a sec, isn’t the whole point of tonight that you act like a woman, not be maiming and head-butting?”
Aside from being a friend, Deb had run King House and was the resident chef for over twenty years. I offered, “I’ll match my twenty bucks against a pan of your Dauphinois potatoes. And don’t fret; our bet is on only if I have to get physical.” Jokingly, I’d added, “After all, I’ve been married since I was eighteen, Deb. How would I know what I may have to do tonight to defend my honor in a bar?”
That time both Jane and Liz laughed in experienced agreement about the pitfalls of the singles scene. Almost fondly, they reminisced over several incidents in bars in their pasts involving drunks, creeps, and assholes, or combinations thereof.
At the look on my face, Jane and Liz had stopped to reassure me that I was meeting a man for a drink, not going solo. Jane got me back about the hair by saying that even I should be able to avoid fisticuffs on a meet-and-greet first date. Liz knocked quickly on my dressing table and warned Jane not to jinx anything. They laughed merrily together and thought themselves quite cute.
Sophisticated Liz had then patted my shoulder. “Really, Acadia, meeting any man in a bar is the equivalent of taking candy from a baby.”
That was me, Acadia King, hick farm girl and the fourth in our quartet of friendship spanning the decades since grade school.
I was mulling over Liz’s snarky advice until I saw Deb avert her head. She tried to hide the tears the words about my years of marriage had brought to her eyes, but she wasn’t fast enough. My upbeat mood evaporated instantly. Liz had sent an annoyed frown Deb’s way and determinedly changed the subject.
Rex, my Australian Shepherd, who had been patiently watching all this girly stuff from his place on the foot of my bed, yawned in bored commiseration. I’d given Rex a fond scratch on his head in total agreement, and then dragging my feet, left for my “date”.
Now that I was alone in the parking ramp of the hotel with no friends peering over my shoulder, I continued leisurely examining my image in the visor mirror. Liz had outlined my eyes in smoky black. I looked downright sultry. The false eyelashes looked glamorous, but man, they blew to wear. All the way driving here I was afraid to blink. I worried they’d get tangled up with my lower lashes, blind me, and cause me to do a header into an overpass wall.
Puckering full red lips, I tried to smile flirtatiously. Failing that, I attempted an alluring expression. Flipping the visor shut with a snap, I decided to stick with my usual unsmiling face and hope for mysterious. The point of tonight was to be attractive, not chase a man off in fear. Men were notoriously frightened of clowns, which was what I felt I looked like when I smiled with all these cosmetics on.
Yes, I felt one part clown, one part cheating whore, and all parts a complete fool for ever agreeing to do this tonight, but I’d given my word to the girls.
I delayed more by mentally reconnoitering the route to the elevators and into the hotel. The second floor hotel parking ramp was jammed pack full of vehicles. Not that I bothered trying to score a space up close. Rather than drive my truck tonight, I’d borrowed Deb’s Toyota Prius. I purposely parked in the shadows of the emptier row along the back concrete half wall. My little sortie was all about remaining inconspicuous. I was going to keep my word to my friends in my own way and then get the heck back home.
This was when the weird stuff I mentioned before began. I spotted a sizeable group of people a couple of rows over stumbling towards the elevator area. It was another good excuse to stay in the car.
I may not personally enjoy all the trappings of fashion but I was still a woman, so I waited for the group to get a good lead while I judged their hair and clothing to pass the time.
Short hair slicked to the side from a straight part, the men all wore black dress slacks, black ties, and black oxfords. The women’s hair hung long and loose, and so did their black skirts. I was envious of their sensible flats. The entire group all wore buttoned-down shirts. I could smell the Clorox; every dress shirt gleamed so white.
What piqued my interest was the whole bunch appeared to be wasted. It didn’t jive with the dressed alike thing they had going on that brought to mind a doorbell ringing, religious cult.
“Must of drank too much of the Kool-Aid tonight,” I murmured. The more I watched them stumbling along while dragging suitcases and bumping into each other, the more convinced I became that all of them were drunk off their butts.
Idly wondering which one was vehicular homicide waiting to happen, I leaned forward to peer around. A Radisson Blu airport shuttle bus sat further down my row. It was parked rather sloppily on the horizontal across three spaces. The lights inside the shuttle were softly glowing through the open side door. I didn’t see a driver. Somewhat relieved, I figured the bus was how all the drunks arrived. I turned back to watch the group’s weaving progress.
I winced sympathetically when one of the men slammed his knee into the cement base of a support column. It was a pity he was so wasted. He was kind of cute from what I could see. He careened off in the general direction of the others, thrashing his arms angrily. Nope, he definitely wouldn’t cut it for tonight. It would have been great to save myself a trip into the hotel bar, but a belligerent drunk wasn’t attractive under the best of circumstances; James Franco’s doppelganger or not.
Deciding they would be long gone by the time I reached the elevator, I grabbed my black leather purse. Jane had tried to insist I carry a silver clutch that matched my shoes, but I laughed in her face. Those tiny purses hold squat and I never go out alone without my gun, especially near The Cities.
For ten o’clock on an October evening it was absolutely beautiful out, so I left the sweater shrug on the front seat where Jane had thrown it in irritation at my noncompliance. The silver fabric scratched and I hated the wispy thing almost as much as my big hair. Even Jane had to agree a bumpy rash on my chest would be a turn off for some pickier men.
In the tight, short dress, I maneuvered awkwardly out of the small car. I took a cautious step on the skyscraper high heels.
“Okay, okay, I can do this, think of a bike,” I muttered under my breath for the umpteenth time. “Act like a lady and don’t cuss. Just survey the bar, pick the target, and take the candy from the man baby.”
Along with the silver purse and the sweater shrug, refusing to wear pantyhose was about the only other decision I didn’t regret tonight.
I locked the car, hitched my purse strap up, and started walking. The tightness of the dress and the tall shoes caused my steps to be short and mincing. I felt like an idiot.
Short, uncomfortably tight dresses and heels like stilts; it would be a cold day in hell before men dressed this way to attract women. I pulled out my phone and sent a quick text to my gay cousin Sean. I conceded he was right in our recent debate when he stated that women were, by nature, martyrs and masochists. I looked up and my attention was snagged by a tall couple approaching the elevator. Half of the drunks were still milling around, waiting for the next car.
The tall couple, a man and woman in their late forties, had their arms around each other’s waists. They were talking and laughing, obviously having fun together. I saw the man teasingly tickle the woman in her side while she, laughing brightly, pushed his hand away.
The tall couple’s horsing around brought a small smile to my lips, but it also nudged the black hole that had taken up permanent residence in my chest where my heart used to be. I’d been fighting against the strong pull of this despair every day since my husband, Lawson King died over two years ago.
The people who cared about me in my life were predominantly fooled into thinking I was coping well with my loss and healing. It was because I was a good actress and a better liar. When I had to go out, I wore a composed mask in public. But over the last months, I’d begun avoiding dealing with people as much as possible.
I had tried burying myself in my work. I used to love my work and thrived under the hectic pressure of running King Farm with Lawson, as well as my own smaller businesses on the farm. Alone now, the enormous responsibilities of the huge farm were another burden weighing me down.
Besides, it didn’t matter how hard I worked myself into mental and physical exhaustion, or how many people cared about me, I couldn’t seem to give a damn about much of anything or anyone, least of all myself. Without Lawson, sad cliché or not, my life was empty and no longer had any meaning. I felt isolated, and that black hole of despair greedily consumed more pieces of me every day.
In other words, I was a walking poster child for clinical depression due to extreme grief, but way too hardheaded to see a professional or pop some pills. Every day I told myself I could ride it out one more day–people lose people they love all the time and manage to have happy lives again. If I got through just one more day, life had to start looking up somehow, sometime. That catechism went on week after week in my mind, and while life had trudged on, it never seemed to get much better.
Three people weren’t fooled by my mask. Liz, Jane, and Deb had been standing off on the sidelines, silently supporting me and respecting my grief. Still, you didn’t have to be an Einstein to read their faces, and the more depressed I became, the less silent they were. I finally admitted they were right to worry.
They persuaded me to agree I’d start trying to have a life again. The girls understood how devastated I was to lose the man I loved, they all loved Lawson, too, but they said my grief was unhealthy and had to stop. Logically, what they said was necessary for me to hear. Lawson spoiled me, but even he would be the first in line to tell me to cut the BS and get squared away.
I was thankful for my friends and intended to try harder, but a part of me resented them for interfering in my life. I knew I was being a bitch. Those pharmaceutical sponsored ads on TV that made you want to kill yourself, even if the thought had never crossed your mind, were right about one thing–depression hurts. When you’re hurting, getting a life was much easier said than done. I already had the perfect life with a great man. I didn’t want to let it go. I didn’t want to replace it with another life.
My friends were nothing if not relentless. It was a rarity given their different personalities, but when Liz, Jane, and Deb teamed up as a united front, they were some seriously scary women. I didn’t progress fast enough to suit them. Since I had barely left the farm after conceding I needed help, I guess they had a valid point when they cornered me again like a pack of jackals.
Once again, I refused therapy or medication, so they made me compromise. To get them off my back, I agreed to put myself out there and socialize. I had to begin dating again. When I objected that I had never actually dated or pursued a man before, Liz informed me that men were like bikes–once you got the hang of riding one, you never forgot how.
That made sense. Seeing me wavering, they had pounced again and gotten specific. I had to promise to have my first date before the weekend of the Fall Festival, held annually at King Farm in October. It was still summer then, so I’d blithely sworn I would. Now the Fall Festival was this weekend, two days away.
I got that my well-intentioned friends didn’t want me doing a swan dive out of the barn hayloft. Neither did they expect me to miraculously get over missing my husband, but they did want me on the road to somewhere near a happy place again.
Fine and dandy, but I didn’t want any candy, or babies, or bike riding. You could keep the candlelit dinner dates, the sharing and sweet handholding. I didn’t want love because I had none to give. However, theoretically, the idea of some good old-fashioned, belly-bumping lust–sex that I could walk away from without looking back—was not too repellent. Two years was a long time to go without my man’s arms around me at night. Lately, I had found myself missing a penis that knew its way around a woman, batteries not required.
Somehow that theory had evolved and brought me here tonight.
Pimped out like a clown-ho’, I walked forward on the torture devices Jane called CFM shoes. I was putting myself out there and meeting a man like I promised the girls. And yes, I was hoping and dreading that the CFM shoes would live up to their name. I didn’t have a “date” actually lined up yet, and it was not my fault if the girls assumed that I did. But if I was the candy and a man was the baby, like Liz promised me, then finding a fuck buddy at the hotel bar should be easy.
My plan was that nobody in my real life would be the wiser about my definition of dating. I should be in and out of my hotel room within an hour or two. Hopefully, I’d have a screaming orgasm to send me home with a big smile on my face before crying myself to sleep in my big, lonely bed. It was a start anyway.
The background laughter of the tall, fun couple morphed into frightened shrieks that jerked me out of my sad reveries. The tall couple had converged at the elevators with the bombed bunch just as the elevator doors dinged open.
I slowed down while taking in the bizarre scene unfolding twenty feet in front of me. Swaying drunkenly, the rest of the white shirt group elbowed their way into the waiting car, all except for James Franco’s doppelganger. Unprovoked, he latched onto the tall couple woman’s arm with two hands and was violently shaking her while making dog noises.
The shrieks were the tall woman’s, and I’d be screaming too because that had to hurt. Drunken white shirt guy seemed intent on yanking her arm out of its shoulder socket. He was snarling louder than Rex when worrying a meaty bone.
From her other side, the tall man shouted in furious disbelief, “Hey, what are you doing! Let her go!”
Doppelganger James ignored the tall man and continued shaking the crap out of the woman. The tall lady wasn’t just standing there; she fought back. She kicked out wildly and smacked him in the head with her purse to get free, but to no avail. The tall man got a hold of crazy James’ arms and was trying to pull him off her.
I’d be bummed later I didn’t think to reach for my gun, but reacting then on my first impulse, I started running towards the fighting trio.
I say running, but the reality was I got maybe four feet taking Mother-May-I baby steps with my legs flapping out from side to side. Frustrated, I felt like a geisha girl doing the Charleston, so I stopped and bellowed out as loud as I could, “Leave her alone, James Franco!”
I was shocked at how loud my voice was as the ear-piercing echo reverberated throughout our area of the parking ramp. It must have also shocked the struggling threesome. In response, they froze for a split second to look my way.
The tall man recovered first. He slammed the heels of his hands into the drunk’s chest. The tall woman pulled her arm loose while the white shirt man grunted and stumbled from the blow. Tall man followed up with a fast, hard shove to the drunk’s shoulders, and he fell back into the pile of his friends already in the elevator.
As if choreographed, the doors smoothly closed with a chirpy ding.
The James Franco doppelganger and the last of his inebriated cult members were gone as if they’d never existed. After that sudden violent outburst, the silence was deafening in the parking ramp.
Hobbling, I finally reached the couple. They had retreated cautiously back a few yards from the elevator. The man held the woman in a protective embrace while she cradled her left arm close to her chest. He nodded briefly to me, but all of our heads swiveled to watch the elevator lights signify it was moving downward. We wanted to be sure those drunks were gone for good.
Once the coast was clear, I asked the woman, “My God, are you all right?”
Her face was chalky, but she answered in a strong voice, “Yes, I think so.”
To the man, I held up my phone. “Can I help? Should I call 9-1-1?”
“I’ll take care of it; I’m a doctor, but thanks for yelling when you did.” The man carefully took the woman’s arm and grimaced in concern at the long, red scratches near her wrist. He shook his head. “Can you believe that just happened? Jesus… did you see his eyes? Was that guy nuts or what? I need to notify hotel security before he tries to hurt someone else!”
Soothingly, she patted his arm. “I’ll be fine, Gary. You were wonderful.” The tall man, Gary, reddened at her praise. “You’re right, though. Go ahead and hurry that call. Do you have the hotel number in your phone?” When he nodded and walked a few steps away to place the call, she turned to me and offered her right hand. As we shook, she went on, “That’s my husband, Gary Knutson, and I’m Karen. Whew! Thank you so much for your help. I couldn’t tell if that crazy man was drunk or high, but he needs to join a program! My arm burns a little but,” she added firmly with a small smile, “it’s nothing my husband and a very large beer won’t cure.”
By their surname and graying blonde looks, the attractive couple was most likely of Scandinavian descent. It took a lot more than an attack by a violent drunk to get the better of a couple of tough, stoic Swedes.
I chuckled. “My name’s…Mary Jensen. You’re welcome, although I couldn’t do anything but yell,” I ruefully motioned to my silver shoes, “while trying to run in these contraptions. All his growling was freaky. I’m relieved you’re okay.”
Karen glanced at my high heels and snorted. She blew out a deep, steadying breath while taking a tissue out of her jacket pocket and dabbing at her sweating forehead. Snorting again, she tossed the tissue into a nearby trashcan. Suddenly folding over, she burst out laughing. Concerned, I wondered if maybe she wasn’t so tough and was experiencing a delayed reaction.
Still bent over and busting a gut while hugging her waist, Karen gasped out between laughs, “I keep seeing it in my head over and over.” I reached out gingerly to pat her shoulder when she continued, “I’m sorry, but you looked so funny trying to run in those shoes! I’ve never seen anything like it!”
She went off on another peal of laughter. I snatched back the hand of comfort. The woman didn’t need consoling if she had time to notice me running in these shoes when some freak was trying to tear her arm off. Karen apologized profusely for being rude, but that didn’t stop her from continuing to whoop and slap her knee with her uninjured hand.
Gary hung up and vigorously shook my hand next. “Thanks again. Hotel security is sending someone up here to escort us. They’re also meeting the elevator in the lobby to detain that man.” Eyeing his guffawing wife, he asked in bewilderment, “What’s up with Karen?”
I mouthed, “PTSD.” Nodding sagely at his raised brows, I started walking. “Okay then, looks like everything’s under control here.” Spotting the stairwell, I wasn’t looking forward to a trek in these shoes, but it was better than getting mauled in the elevator or held up by hotel security. “Good luck to you both.”
I was on the first stair when Gary raised a hand in a stop gesture and frowned doubtfully. “You’re a witness. Don’t you think security will want to talk with you?” He scowled suspiciously. “Wait a minute; didn’t I hear you call out the man’s name? Do you know him?”
I was hoping they had forgotten that part. It was going to be hard to remain anonymous Mary Jensen if I got roped into sticking around and giving statements. “Really, I’ve never seen the man before in my life, but he looked exactly like James Franco, the actor. It just popped out.”
Karen came up for air and laughingly agreed, “You know, now that you mention it, he really did resemble James Franco!”
I gave a little wave. “Sorry, I have a meeting and need to run.” This set Karen off yet again and I shrugged innocently at the still frowning Gary. “Please let them know I’m staying in the hotel. Security can contact me for a statement,” I pointed towards a single camera mounted near the low ceiling at the elevator, “if it’s even necessary.”
Gary held up his phone. “I’d feel better if we at least exchanged numbers.”
Seeing the stubborn tilt to his chin, I quickly gave in and we traded phone numbers. I then said, “Bye now and enjoy that beer!”
Karen called out a wheezing goodbye and Gary looked like he still wanted to object, but I didn’t wait around to hear. Leaning lightly against the metal railing for support, I took the stairs down to the lobby as fast as my wobbly feet could go.
Tracy Ellen was born in Indiana to middle-class parents, the third out of five hellions. She often used her supernatural powers to force her family members to listen to her talk and tell stories. When that tough crowd laughed of their own free will, Tracy knew the world would someday, somehow be her stage. Now she’s a full-time writer living her dream. Tracy’s lived in the Midwest her whole life–in a small town, on a farm, and in the big city. Currently, she lives in the suburbs of St Paul, Minnesota with her husband, family, and various pets running underfoot. Stay in touch by signing up for Tracy’s occasional newsletter to keep posted on new books coming your way. She also has a fetish about giving fun surprise gifts to exclusive members every edition.
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