SNEAK PEEK Karen M. Bryson’s Suicide Blonde

IMG_4792I am thrilled to have been invited to participate in the “Death & Damages” box set anthology with a stable of talented bestselling authors like the one you are about to meet.

These amazing writers have graciously agreed to let my blog readers share in an exclusive interview AND get a sneak peek at the book they have contributed to the Death & Damages box set – 25 stories for 99 cents!

Today, we sit down with Karen M. Bryson, author of Suicide Blonde.

DAN: Tell my readers about the story you are contributing to the Death and Damages anthology:

KAREN M. BRYSON: Suicide Blonde is part of my Angry Girl Crime Stories series: noir mysteries with a dash of romance. These are not typical mystery novels with “good guys” who fight crime. In this Florida Gulf Coast town, the cops are more dangerous than the criminals.

In each Angry Girl story, a woman who has been wronged by the law and is seeking revenge is assisted by one of the Donovans – drug dealers and hitmen who rule the city’s seedy underworld – in her quest for justice.

What inspired this story?

A few years ago, I stumbled upon an article online about sugar babies and their sugar daddies. It was a fascinating world in which young woman (many of them college students) would date older men in exchange for gifts and money. While it’s not technically prostitution, the practice seems to straddle the line between what’s legal and illegal. I knew immediately I wanted to incorporate that concept into a mystery novel. I just wasn’t sure how.

I’ve always loved the Law & Order series (Law & Order SVU was a particular favorite). I got the inspiration for Kate Parks, the main character in Suicide Blonde, when I wondered what would happen to an actress who spent decades playing a detective on television after her long-running show ended. Would she be as hirable in her mid-forties as she was in her twenties? Would she be typecast? They say in Hollywood women in their forties start to fade away. By the time they’re in their fifties, they’re nearly invisible.

After years of being in the limelight, Kate Parks isn’t ready to fade into the woodwork yet.

When I combined my Kate Parks character with the sugar baby concept, Suicide Blonde was born.

Kate Parks believes her sister Layla is a struggling graduate student studying anthropology. After Layla’s death, Kate discovers her sister was a sugar baby and her sugar daddies were some of the wealthiest and well-connected men in the city.

How long of a piece is it?

It’s a novella of about 40,000 words.

Tell me a little bit about you. Where do you do your writing?

I have a home office. When I’m not teaching online, I’m usually writing!

What does writing success look like to you?

When a reader asks me when the next story in a series is coming out because they can’t wait to read it.

Do you ever collaborate with others?

I have a writing partner who I work with on TV and feature film scripts.

Tell me a little bit about your process. What is the path from idea to finished story? Do you use critique partners? Do you have a favorite editor?

I don’t believe in using critique partners. I don’t allow anyone to read my work until I have a finished and polished product. Then I go through the editing and proofreading process with my editor and proofreader.

What do you do for your cover? It’s always hard to find a good cover. How do you find yours, or the artwork?

My husband is my cover designer. He’s been working in graphic arts for many years and has designed over 100 book covers for our publishing company, Short on Time Books.

What about your blurb and tagline?

She’s not a police detective, but she played one on TV.

For two decades Kate Parks played a detective on the hit television series Murder is My Beat. But when her show gets cancelled and her sister dies unexpectedly, Kate reluctantly agrees to go back to Florida – even though she vowed she’d never set foot in the Sunshine State again.

The police have ruled her sister Layla’s death a suicide, but Kate has her doubts. She believes Layla was murdered.

Layla’s former boss Paddy Donovan does everything in his power to dissuade Kate from digging deeper into her sister’s death. He knows that Layla was involved with shady characters on both sides of the law.

But Kate is too stubborn to let sleeping alligators lie. And when she starts looking for her sister’s killer, she finds herself caught between the Irish mob and the city’s corrupt police department, with both sides willing to do whatever it takes to keep her quiet.


Suicide Blonde


Chapter One

“You look like that actress from Murder is My Beat. But older.” The teenager standing behind the counter stares at me with bulging green amphibian eyes.

She looks about eighteen or nineteen. The older I get the harder it is for me to guess a young person’s age. She’s most likely a college student. The coffee shop I’ve stopped in isn’t that far from the Big State University campus.

I don’t normally splurge on overpriced caffeinated beverages, but today I’m making an exception. I’m on my way to sort through my dead sister’s belongings. For a trip like that I need all the liquid comfort I can get.

“It’s amazing how much you look like…” She snaps her fingers in front of her like she’s trying to jog her memory. As if the snapping sound has mystical memory producing properties. “What is that actress’s name? The one who played the hot cop?”

“Kate Parks.”

“That’s it.” She stabs her finger in the air at me. “Kate Parks. She could be your daughter.”

“I get that a lot.” Usually from people who have only seen old reruns of the show.

“It’s crazy, right?” She continues as she pours hot chocolate into an extra-large cup. “What would a big star like that be doing in a place like this?”

I don’t know. Maybe I grew up here. Maybe I had to come back to town when my sister died because I’m her only living relative. Maybe my long running show got cancelled and there aren’t any job prospects on the horizon for an actress in her mid-forties who is no longer considered hot. Especially one who now looks like an older version of herself to teenagers who weren’t even born when the show first aired twenty years ago.

“Four dollars,” the young woman says as she pushes the hot chocolate towards me.

If they’re charging that much for plain old hot cocoa, I don’t even want to guess what they charge for those fancy mocha lattes with whipped cream and cinnamon topping.

I remove a five-dollar bill from my pocket and hand it to her.

She opens the cash register, removes a single and hands it back to me.

I toss the change into the tip jar.

“Have an incredibly awesome day,” she says much too cheerfully then gives me an outrageously large smile.

I’ve been jaded and cynical for so long I can’t remember what it felt like to be that youthful and optimistic.

Or maybe I never was.


When I left Florida as a wide-eyed twenty-year-old, I vowed never to set foot in the Sunshine State again. I was determined to do whatever it took to make it in Hollywood. I wanted to be better than where I came from.

Now here I am right back where I started twenty-five years ago.

Apparently that old saying is true: you can take the girl out of the south, but you can’t take the south out of the girl.

As I pull my rental car into the Swamp Angel Trailer Park all kinds of memories flash through my head. None of them positive. This is the place where my sister, Layla, and I grew up. The place where she apparently still lived. The place I couldn’t wait to escape from.

I rented a Jeep for one week. I don’t plan on extending the rental. My plan is to get my sister’s affairs in order and get the hell out of Florida for good.

While most of this booming bayside city has experienced a major revitalization, entering the trailer park is like stepping back in time. It’s barely changed in the last quarter century.

It’s still a festering sore in the armpit of the city.

Swamp Angel Trailer Park is right in the heart of Suitcase City. It’s a seedy part of town a few blocks west of Big State University. The rundown section of town was so named because many of its residents are so transient they never bother to unpack their bags. It’s the kind of place where nobody knows your name and people like it that way.

When Layla’s father died, she inherited the trailer we grew up in. I’d be surprised if it’s worth forty thousand. I can make that in a month renting out my beach house in Malibu.

As I pull the Jeep up to the front of the trailer, I notice there aren’t any other vehicles parked outside. Layla was a graduate student at Big State University. We’re a few miles from campus, not really close enough to walk. I wonder how she got to class without a car.

Seeing the crime tape over the front door feels surreal. You’d think after playing a detective on television for twenty years I’d be used to it. But when it’s stuck across the door of your childhood home it feels a lot different.

I don’t have a key to her place, but I do remember where the spare keys were hidden. One was underneath a garden gnome in a patch of weeds that was supposed to be the front yard. The other was under the upper left corner of the tacky straw welcome mat outside the front door.

The straw welcome mat must have bitten the dust because it’s been replaced with an even cheaper looking Wipe Your Paws fake grass mat.

With no spare key underneath.

Fortunately, the sun-cracked garden gnome produces the goods. The key is old and a little rusty, but it still manages to unlock the trailer door.

My plan is to sell anything that’s worth selling. Donate what’s still usable to a thrift store. Then toss whatever remains into the trash.

Armed with heavy duty plastic bags and a pair of rubber gloves, I charge into the trailer ready for action.

What I don’t find is much stuff.

There are a few mismatched, coffee-stained plastic cups in the sink, but the kitchen cabinets are empty. The small fridge has a half-eaten jar of moldy pickles and a single can of diet soda. There’s a lone pink satin jacket hanging in her bedroom closet. And in the bathroom, there’s a Readers Digest from 1994 wedged between the back of the toilet and the fiberglass wall behind it.

That was the year that I left Florida. I had just turned twenty. I was eager to get to LA, but it took me several years of working low wage jobs to save enough money for the move.

Layla was only four years old when I took off. My biggest regret was leaving her in a situation that I knew would get uglier as she got older. Our mother never could give up the booze and ended up dying a few years later with a bottle of Jack Daniels in her hand.

But she wasn’t the worst of the problems at the Swamp Angel Trailer Park. That honor went to Layla’s dad, my stepfather. He was abusive in every way that a man could abuse a child.

I had no doubt that once I was out of the picture, Layla would become the target of his rage and violence.

I left anyway.

I never forgave myself for leaving Layla with that monster.

But I was twenty. I could barely take care of myself. There was no way that I could escape and take Layla with me. And I’m not sure her big daddy would have let me take her anyway.

I remove the pink jacket from the closet. That seems to be the extent of Layla’s belongings. At least the one’s in the trailer. If I was a detective, or if I still played one on TV, I’d say that Layla had another residence somewhere other than the Swamp Angel Trailer Park.

But where?

My sister and I were never close. And not just because of the sixteen-year age gap between us. Neither of us ever put much effort into maintaining a relationship. A yearly phone call at Christmas and cards exchanged for our birthdays. That was about it.

I know my hairstylist better than I knew my sister.

What I do know is that Layla was a graduate student in cultural anthropology. She was a server at a bar somewhere downtown. And she never left the state of Florida.

Even though I invited her to visit me in California every summer when school was out she never once took me up on the offer. Not that I blame her. If she had deserted me and left me with a monster like her father, I would have resented her too.

Layla was only twenty-eight years old. I doubt that she left a will. The police detective who landed her case said she didn’t leave a suicide note. I may have to hire an estate lawyer and have him figure out what to do with her trailer.

Once I’m back outside, I take in a deep breath of the heavy Florida air. One of the many things I hate about the Sunshine State is the humidity. Summer in Florida is like being stuck in a sauna.

I notice a Dodge Caravan pull up next to my rental car. The side of the white minivan is adorned with a bright red metallic sign that reads: DRT Transportation Services.

A young woman hops out of the vehicle and gives me a friendly wave like she knows me. I try not to stare at her hair, which is just as red as the sign on the side of her vehicle.

Between her bob cut and her freckle-filled cheeks, she looks like a Chucky doll.

“I’m so glad you made it.” She extends a hand for me to shake.

“Hi…” I’m sure she can hear the bewilderment in my voice. She seems to think that I know who she is.

“I’m Darby.” She adds as if that explains everything.

“I’m Kate Parks.”

She laughs. Hysterically. She sounds like a hyena that just inhaled helium. When she finally calms down again, she says, “As if there’s anyone alive who doesn’t know who you are. Five Emmys for playing Detective Phyllis Marlow on the hit television series Murder is My Beat.”

“I’m sorry, but I have no idea who you are.”

As she tilts her head from one side to the other her hair swings back and forth in the Florida breeze.

“Darby Ray Tucker. I’m Layla’s best friend. I mean…I was her best friend.” She chokes a little on the last part. “You must be devastated.”

Before I realize what’s happening, she embraces me in a hug.

I’m not a hugger. I’m not even a hand-shaker if I can help it. Truth be told, I’d rather not be touched by other people. Unless it’s explicated stated in a script and I’m being paid SAG rate for it.

“I see you found Layla’s jacket.” She points to the article of clothing draped over my arm. “It was her favorite. She wore it a lot when we were in high school. It was like her trademark.”

“My sister and I weren’t that close,” I explain.

“Seriously?” Her brow furrows. “She talked about you all the time. Like, dude, seriously. She mentioned you at least ten times a day.”

“Did Layla actually live here?” I gesture towards her trailer behind us.

She nods. “This is the place she called home. She didn’t spend a lot of time here though. She was too busy with school and work.”

“Where did she work?”

Darby stares at me like I just asked if the sky is blue or if the earth revolves around the sun. “The Juice Joint. It’s like the happening place right now. All the rage. Invite only. You know the drill.”

“Not really…”

“It’s a speakeasy. You need a password to get in. It changes every night.”

“Like the bars from the Prohibition era?”

“Ding. Ding. Ding.” She places her index finger on her button nose. “We have a winner. You don’t have speakeasys in Cali?”

“In California? No.” And no one who lives there actually calls the Golden State Cali. “I don’t know. I don’t think so. Honestly, I don’t get out very much.”

And by not very much I mean not at all. I can’t even remember the last time I went on a date. When a woman in Hollywood turns forty she starts to slowly vanish. By the time she turns fifty, she’s completely disappeared.

“I’ll take you there,” Darby says way too excitedly. She sounds like a five-year-old who wants to show me the new toy she just got for Christmas. “You’ll totally love it. I mean totally.”


“You’ll love it.”

“I can’t wait.”

“Have are you eaten? You have to eat. I know. You probably don’t have much of an appetite. Considering…everything.” She gestures towards the trailer. “You should still eat though.”

I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone so utterly intrusive in my entire life. And I live in LA. That’s saying a lot. Yet, there’s also something incredibly endearing about Darby that I can’t help but like her.

“I haven’t eaten,” I admit. “But it’s not…”

Before I have a chance to finish my sentence she says, “I have to take you to lunch. Have to. I won’t take no for an answer.”

“Do you have any place in mind?”

She gives me a broad smile. “It’ll be epic. I promise. We can take my car.”

“What’s DRT stand for?” I point to the sign on the side of her vehicle.

“It’s my initials. Darby Ray Tucker. But it’s also an acronym for Dead Right There. That’s a term we use when someone’s toast. Dead right there; ain’t going anywhere. I’m in the body transportation business. I’m like a cab driver, but all my passengers are deceased.”

My eyes widen when I realize what she’s telling me. That she transports corpses in the back of her minivan.

“I see dead people.” She does a terrible impersonation of Haley Joel Osment. Then adds, “On a daily basis.”

“How did you get into that line of work?” As soon as the question pops out of my mouth I immediately regret it. I’m not sure I really want to know the answer to that question, but my curiosity got the best of me momentarily.

“It’s a family business. I guess you could say I was born to be a body mover.” She breaks into her hysterical hyena laughter. Again. I’m not even sure why that’s so funny.

“Maybe I’d better take my car. I’ll follow you.”


I park my rental Jeep right behind Darby’s minivan.

We’re a few blocks from Bayshore Boulevard, a scenic road adjacent to the waterfront that’s lined with expensive historic homes. If the west coast of Florida had an equivalent to Beverly Hills, this would be it. Bayshore Boulevard is the epicenter of the city’s high society social scene.

“Hope you don’t mind walking,” she says as she hops out of her car. “Parking’s a lot cheaper here.” She points to a parking meter. “Not that you can’t afford it.”

“It’s fine,” I tell her.

I’ve always been frugal despite the ridiculously lavish salary that I was paid to play Phyllis Marlow. Now that I’m unemployed it feels even more imperative to watch my pennies.

I follow Darby down a breezy sidewalk as she heads toward an old corner market, White Hand Foods. I forgot how windy this bayside section of the city can be. I have no doubt that my shoulder length blonde hair is already a mess. I knew I should have worn it pulled back in a ponytail.

“In here.”

When she ducks into the market I remain on her heels. If this is her idea of an epic place to eat, she’s even more frugal than I am.

I’m just about to ask if she wants me to pick out some food, when she heads over to the checkout counter.

“What’s up?” A young guy behind the register gives Darby the once over.

“Busy?” Darby asks.

“Isn’t it always.”

I do a quick glance around the market. Darby and I are the only customers in the dingy, run-down store.

“Peg Leg Lonergan,” the clerk says to her.

“Thanks,” she replies. Then she turns to me. “Let’s go.”

“What was that about?” I ask as we make our way out of the market.

“Today’s password.”

I raise an eyebrow. “For the speakeasy? Where Layla worked?”

There’s a twinkle in her eyes as she gives me a sly grin. “Bingo.”

“How did you know where to get the password?”

“The deets aren’t important.” She waves away my concern like a pesky gnat. “I want you to see where your sister worked.”

I have to admit that I am curious. I do want to see where Layla was employed. But I also wonder what Darby’s not telling me.

I follow her down a small side street. For such a petite young woman, she’s got a long stride. It’s a challenge to keep up with her.

Or maybe I’m just old and out of shape.

She stops in front of an antique wooden door with a large white handprint in the center of it. It looks like someone stuck his hand in paint and placed it on the door while it was still wet.

When Darby rings the buzzer next to the door, a small window in the upper portion of the door slides open.

“Peg Leg Lonergan,” Darby says.

The window slams shut then the door swings open inviting us inside.

Stepping into The Juice Joint is like stepping back in time. The décor is a near perfect replication of a 1920s speakeasy. Everything from the dark wood and low lighting to a woman in the corner of the lounge playing jazz piano gives the feel of the Prohibition era.

Even though it’s well past the lunch hour, the place is packed. Not an empty table in sight.

“Let’s sit at the bar.”

We take the last two empty stools at the very end of the ornately decorated wooden bar. Two busy bartenders are dressed in a similar fashion: dark trousers, white shirts with sleeves rolled to the elbows and black suspenders. A nod to the era no doubt.

One of the men looks about my age, mid-forties, the other looks like he’s Darby’s age, mid-twenties.

As soon as the younger man spots us, he hurries over to greet us.

“What’s up, homegirl?” he says to Darby.

“This is Layla’s sister.” Darby gestures towards me.

“Sad days for all of us.” He shakes his head. “Her death was tragic.”

“I know, right,” Darby replies.

There’s a moment of silence before the young man continues. “So, you’re the hot shot celebrity Layla bragged about.”

“I wouldn’t call myself a celebrity, but I am an actor.” Or I was an actor. If you’re not actively engaged in the profession can you still claim to be part of it?

“I’m Kate Parks.” I extend a hand for him to shake.

“Aiden Donovan.”

The young man is a mountain of pure muscle. If he wasn’t so soft-spoken and polite, I’d be scared to death of him.

“Let me get you an Irish Derby,” he says. “On the house.”

I’m not much of a drinker. Before I have a chance to protest he takes off towards the opposite end of the bar.

When the middle-age man behind the bar notices me, he gets an odd expression on his face. Like he recognizes me, but he’s not sure how he knows me. I get that a lot. People who think they’ve met me before, but don’t realize it’s because they’ve seen me on television.

His piercing dark eyes don’t leave mine as he makes his way over to us.

“Is there something I can do for you?”

Why do I get the feeling that he’s not just talking about a bar order?

The air between us has turned electric. When I try to respond to his question, I realize all the air has been sucked out of my lungs.

The last time I felt this way around a man, it did not end well. I made a promise that I would never allow myself to be that vulnerable again.

I intend to keep that promise.

Fortunately, Aiden returns with our drinks and the older man’s attention is diverted away from my eyes.

“This is Layla’s sister,” Aiden tells the older man. “The Hollywood celebrity.”

“A real live TV star right here in my bar. Isn’t that a kicker?” When the older man turns his attention back to me, his penetrating gaze leaves me breathless again. Great. Just what I don’t need or want right now. To be attracted to someone.

Extremely attracted.

“I’m sorry about Layla.” He places his hand on mine sending shivers through my entire body.

When I jerk my hand away reflexively, he seems startled by the action.

“You must be in tatters,” he says. “Completely wrecked.” He points to the Irish Derby in front of me. “Drink up.”

I take a sip of the beverage and cough. It’s a lot stronger than I thought it would be. It burns going down my throat.

The older man gestures towards Aiden. “The kid must have slipped you a double.”

I push the drink away. “It’s strong.”

He leans in close. So close that I get a scent of his spicy aftershave. Then he whispers, “That stuff will put hair on your chest.”

The man doesn’t have an Irish accent, but there’s a hint of an Irish lilt in the way he speaks. Maybe he was raised by someone from Ireland.

“I’m Paddy Donovan, by the way.”

The grin he gives me is so charismatic, he could put half of Hollywood to shame. In LA we call a man with a smile like that a Panty Dropper.

My panties are staying right where they belong, Mr. Donovan.

“Layla was like a part of our family,” Paddy says. “I don’t know how we’ll ever replace her.” As his eyes moisten, he blinks back the tears. Then he clears his throat. “Did you come for lunch? Our specialty is fish and chips.”

“I’m a vegetarian,” I tell him.

“Just the chips then?”

“Maybe a salad? Do you serve those?”

When he laughs, his cheeks turn rosy. “Not very often. I’ve heard you Hollywood types eat like rabbits.”

“I’ll have the fish and chips,” Darby pipes in. “Extra chips.”

Paddy taps a finger on the bar in front of Darby. “This young lady knows how to eat.” Then he eyes me. “You could take a few lessons from her. Put a little meat on your bones.”

“The salad will be fine,” I assure him.

I’m startled when my cellphone starts to buzz in my purse. I’m even more surprised when I see by the caller ID that it’s my agent phoning.

“I’d better take this.” As I hop down from the barstool and make my way outside, I answer the call. “Nina?”

Nina Reiner has been my agent since I arrived in Hollywood. She’s the one who landed me the audition for Murder is My Beat. I owe my career to her.

It was much easier for her to get auditions for me when I was a fresh-faced twenty-something than it has been for her to find me decent roles as a middle-aged actor. That’s why I’m so surprised that she’s calling.

“I know you’re tied up right now with the arrangements for your sister. Did you get the flowers I sent?”

“I did. Thank you. They were lovely.”

“I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m calling.”

The thought did cross my mind.

“I have a script I’d like for you to take a look at. They just sent it over. They really want you for the part. You’re their first choice.”

“But?” There’s always a but when talking to an agent.

“The show isn’t for a major network. It’s being made specifically for a new streaming service. It’s low budget. Based on a popular young adult novel.”

My initial excitement quickly fades as she gets into the details. “Let me guess. They want me to play the mother of the main character.”

“Her aunt. But you appear in every episode and your character is essential to the plot.”

“Why are there so few roles for women in Hollywood? When you’re not young enough to play the ingenue anymore, then you get relegated to playing her mother. Don’t women get to be anything else? A man can still be a kickass action hero in his forties and fifties, but I can’t even land a job as his sidekick or age-appropriate love interest? Men can age on screen and still be stars. Women are expected to fade into the background.”

“Let me email you the script. It’s a good show. All I’m asking is that you give it a chance.”

“They’ll get funded if I agree to take the part. That’s it, isn’t it? They need one big name signed on to get the project greenlit.”

“That’s part of it,” she admits. “You might as well use it to your advantage. If you want to continue working, these are the types of roles that are out there. Your other option is to retire from acting and do something else with your life.”

I’ve never done anything else. Acting is my life. Or it was my life for the last two decades. I don’t even know what I’ll do if I don’t act. “Fine. Send me the script. I’ve got to go.”

“I know you’re busy. I didn’t mean to bother you. Let me know what you think when you get a chance to read it.”

When I end the call, I realize that I don’t remember the password to get back inside the speakeasy.

I ring the bell and hope that the man will let me back inside anyway.

When the window slides open I stammer for several moments and end up not saying anything coherent. The window slams shut on me just as quickly.

Now what? I don’t even have Darby’s phone number.

I ring the bell again. This time when the window slides open, I say quickly, “Paddy Donovan knows who I am. Please. Ask him about Kate Parks. I’m Layla’s sister. I’m sorry I can’t remember the password. Something about a Peg Leg.”

The window slams shut again. I wait for several moments but nothing happens. Just as I’m about ready to head back to my car, the door swings open and Paddy steps outside.

“Don’t you actresses have to memorize lines? You couldn’t even remember the password?” He bites back a grin.

“I don’t think it’s funny.” I do my best to keep a straight face and not laugh.

“It’s a little funny. I had half a mind to bring your salad out here for you to eat.”

“Definitely not funny,” I tell him before I burst into laughter.

After a moment, he closes the distance between us. His demeanor has turned serious. As he whispers in my ear, I can feel his breath on my neck. It makes me tingly all over. “The password is Peg Leg Lonergan.”

“I’ll remember that,” I reply breathlessly.

“I realize I’m an old geezer, but would you consider going out for a cup of coffee with me sometime?”

I frown. “You’re not old.”

“I’m forty-five. In my business, that’s ancient.”

“Try being a middle-aged woman in Hollywood. We’re like the black rhino. An endangered species.”

He hands me a business card. “I wrote my cellphone number on the back. We could get together tomorrow afternoon, if you’re not too busy?”

“Don’t you have to work?”

“I own the place. I can take some time off.”

“I don’t date,” I tell him.

He grins. It’s a smile of the panty-dropping variety. “Who said anything about a date?”

“Sorry…I didn’t mean to assume…”

“It’s just coffee.” I can tell by the glint in his eye that he wants more than just coffee.

A lot more.

And for some reason I find the idea very appealing.

I can’t remember that last time that I went out with someone who wasn’t in show business, or trying to get into the business, or attempting to get back into the business, and who was using our date as a pretense to get me to read his latest script.

“Tomorrow afternoon?” I tap my finger on my chin as if I’m giving his request serious consideration. “I have an appointment with Detective Reed first thing in the morning. Maybe we could meet after that.”

“Dale Reed?” he asks.

I nod.

“That guy’s a real can of piss.”

“That doesn’t sound positive.”

“Completely useless,” he explains.

“He’s the detective assigned to Layla’s case. He said he’s got a few routine questions. He seems convinced that her death was suicide.”

Paddy sniffles. Then he gives his eyes a quick rub. “We’d better get you back inside. It’s well past noon. You’re probably so hungry you could eat an Apostle.”

About The Author:

KAREN M. BRYSON writes romantic mystery and suspense stories. She is a winner of the prestigious RONE Award for Excellence in the Indie and Small Publishing Industry as well as the RWA Lone Star Writing Contest.

Karen is also an award-winning/optioned screenwriter.

When she’s not at her computer creating new stories, Karen enjoys spending time with her husband and their bloodhounds.

Karen previously wrote contemporary romance under the pen names SAVANNAH YOUNG, SIERRA AVALON, REN MONTERREY and USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR DAKOTA MADISON.

Gang, please join me in thanking Karen for sharing her authorly insights with us.

IMG_4791Click HERE to order your copy of Death & Damages TODAY and read the rest of Suicide Blonde when it is released in the Death & Damages boxed set!


Danger lurks around every corner as these courageous cops, adventurous agents, and daring detectives hunt for the answers to stop the crimes by vicious killers.

But what if the damage is already done?

Inside these pages, you’ll find 25 adventures full of captivating conundrums, hair-raising homicides, and suspenseful secrets from today’s USA Today & Wall Street Journal bestselling and award-winning authors.

Become a private investigator yourself when you inspect plots of deadly assassins, cold-blooded killers, and bone-chilling suspense inside the pages of DEATH AND DAMAGES, an enthralling mystery and thriller boxed set.

Fans of Lee Child, James Patterson, Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins, and John Grisham will devour these puzzling mysteries and gripping thrillers.

Including Stories From…

  • New York Times bestselling author Patricia Loofbourrow
  • USA Today bestselling author Pauline Creeden
  • USA Today bestselling author John Ling
  • Award-Winning author Alexa Padgett
  • Siera London
  • USA Today bestselling author Shereen Vedam
  • Multi-Award-Winning author, Deborah Shlian
  • USA Today bestselling author Kelly Hashway
  • USA Today bestselling author JB Michaels
  • Maggie Carpenter
  • USA Today bestselling author Tiana Laveen
  • Angela Sanders
  • Award-Winning author Karen M. Bryson
  • Aime Austin
  • Lisa B. Thomas
  • USA Today bestselling author Fiona Quinn
  • Kerry J Donovan
  • Jane Blythe
  • Bestselling author Dan Alatorre
  • USA Today bestselling authors Muffy Wilson and Dariel Raye
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  • USA Today bestselling author Terry Keys
  • Bill Hargenrader
  • Wall Street Journal bestselling author Judith Lucci
  • Award-Winning author Maria Grazia Swan

Published by Dan Alatorre AUTHOR

USA Today bestselling author Dan Alatorre has 50+ titles published in more than 120 countries and over a dozen languages.

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