“Kelli Jae Baeli proves herself not just a fine storyteller, but one who’s highly skilled at her craft, both artist and artisan…It’s rare to these days to find a writer whose style is technically so nearly perfect, but who’s also a damned good storyteller… I would apply that comment to Baeli.” ~From Have Books Will Review, review of Also Known as Syzygy
This book sprouted from AKA Investigations, Book 3, when I discovered that the minor characters didn’t want to be minor. They sort of commandeered the book and began writing one of their own. So I pulled that material out of the book I was working on, and gave it its own place here, which made this book #3 in the series, and the one I had been working on, Book 4.
For fear of confusing the reader (never mind myself), I spent a great deal of time trying to figure out how to label this book and the next in this series. While Also Known as Syzygy is not a book strictly about AKA Investigations per se, nor its main characters (Jobeth, Phoebe, Ginger and Izzy), it is a book about the people on the periphery of both. This book (Also Known as Syzygy) is a spinoff of the story in Also Known as Rising & Falling (Book 4); it covers the same approximate time period, only from different points of view than what is found in Book 4. Rather than juggle terms like prequel and spinoff, I thought it might be simplest to just call this one Book 3 and the other one Book 4, so that the reader would know in which order to read them. Syzygy, therefore, should be read first, then Book 4 of the AKA Investigations series, Also Known as Rising & Falling. WTF? See what i mean?
An Understanding Alliance
Friday, 30 November 2012
She folded herself into the chair, one Prada-covered foot bouncing absently, as she regarded him, somewhat like a cat watching a goldfish in a bowl.
Doctor Bishop glanced down at the legal pad. “Okay. I didn’t catch your name.”
“I didn’t give it to you.” She pulled a lipstick case out of her purse and opened it, pulling the tube away and rolling out the point of Cranberry Diva.
He removed his reading glasses. “Is there a reason why you didn’t?”
“Yes, I want to be sure my privacy is protected before I speak to you.” She used the tiny mirror to apply the dark red to her lips. “How does that doctor-patient confidentiality agreement work?”
God, those lips. Was that a British accent he heard? Sexy. “I am legally and ethically bound to keep what we discuss between us. With few exceptions.”
“What are the exceptions?”
“I can only share information about you if I think you are committing a crime, or about to, or to prevent harm to anyone else.”
She snapped the lipstick case closed and returned it to her bag. “What if I used to commit crimes, but not anymore?”
“Are you planning to commit another crime?”
“No. I’m retired. But I need to know if I can count on your discretion. Because if not, I will have to bid you good day and deal with it on my own.”
“As I said, anything in the past remains confidential unless you plan to harm someone in the future.”
She rose from her chair as effortlessly as a cat, and moved toward the wall, looking at his diploma and certifications framed there.
“So, what shall I call you?”
His gaze went immediately to her shoes. “All right, Prada. Would you like to set up an appointment for later, or continue now?”
“An appointment,” she murmured, still looking at his wall of documents.
He got up and circled around to his desk, leaning over the scheduling book. “What days are you free?”
“I’ve never been free, Dr. Bishop.”
He frowned over at her, making sure of her meaning. “Am I to assume that you were a lady of the evening, then?” He picked up his pen and turned a page in the book, and she was on him before he had time to react.
The hand with the pen was suddenly wrenched behind his back, and she slammed him down on the desk, holding his arm high behind him, leaning into him, whispering in his ear. “I was no fucking whore, Doctor. Is that clear?”
He caught his breath. “I’m…I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you.”
She pushed his arm higher and he winced in pain. “I was the go-to girl, but not for carnal delights. I could give you a demonstration right now and you’d be a ghost before you even realized you were dying.”
Was she saying she was…a…a killer? An assassin? His mind reeled. In spite of the apparent danger, Garrison Bishop felt himself growing hard against the edge of the desk. She had mashed her hips flat against his ass, and he could sense her strength as she held him pinned. “I think you have made your point,” he strained out.
“Very good.” She released him.
He stood upright, moving his arm forward slowly, rubbing at his shoulder. “I’ll have to ask that you refrain from that sort of behavior. If we are to work together, I can’t feel as though my life is in danger.”
She turned to face him. “But it is.”
“Call it self-preservation. You will help me, and if you ever betray me, I will have a relapse and return to my old ways. I will make sure you live only long enough to regret it profoundly.”
His eyes caught on her slightly pursed lips. “You’re…you’re threatening me?”
“I don’t make threats, Doctor. Threats imply that an event may not happen. I guarantee you what will happen if you betray me.”
He touched his shoulder, kneading it.
“Do we have an understanding?”
He stared at her, still shocked by what had happened. Still aroused. “I…I understand.” What else could he say? No, I don’t think so, here’s your diagnosis, you’re a sociopath? “What exactly is it you need my help with, Prada?”
“Insomnia. I can’t sleep. Ever since I…retired from my job. I’ve tried everything. All the over the counter medications. Guided meditation recordings. Nothing works. Something is keeping me awake at night and I need to figure out what it is.”
“I would venture a guess…perhaps you feel guilty for the things you’ve done?”
She laughed. “If anything, I miss it, Doctor. No, guilt is not my problem. Maybe my problem…” She turned to face him. “is missing it.”
He cleared his throat. “Well, I guess we’ll work on…that…”
He moved away instinctively as she circled the desk.
“Let’s drink to our new alliance…” She opened one of the large drawers of his desk.
“What are you…I don’t have…”
“Of course you do, Doctor. Men like you always have a bottle of something hidden away—” She opened the bottom right drawer.
“Ah—and there it is.” She pulled out the bottle of Grey Goose and removed the lid, took a pull from it and set it down hard on the desk.
“Now,” she leaned over the desk, snagged his fountain pen and scribbled a phone number on the notepad.
He saw the red lipstick stain on the mouth of the bottle, and her ample breasts pushing out of her blouse, felt the twinge it gave him.
“Text me at this number when you have an available time, and I’ll see if it’s convenient for me. Identify yourself as…” She glanced at the bottle. “GreyGoose.” She tossed the fountain pen onto the schedule book, spun on her Prada heels, and was gone before he was even able to close his gaping mouth.
The doctor placed a hand on the edge of his desk and looked down at her precise handwriting. This woman could kill him whenever she wished. Of that, he was certain. How much would I love to put her to sleep? he mused.