Review of The Wild Dead

The Wild Dead (The Bannerless Saga Book 2) by [Vaughn, Carrie]


The Wild Dead

The Bannerless Saga

Carrie Vaughn

Mariner Books

July 17, 2018

Blurb: A century after environmental and economic collapse, the people of the Coast Road have rebuilt their own sort of civilization, striving not to make the mistakes their ancestors did. They strictly ration and manage resources, including the ability to have children. Enid of Haven is an investigator, who with her new partner, Continue reading


Black Widow

Thanks to Rochelle for Friday Fictioneers!

Photo Prompt © Liz Young

Black Widow

“I think we may have misjudged the situation,” I say.

“Ya think?” Lindsey asks. Continue reading

Review of The Last Move


The Last Move

Mary Burton

Montlake Romance

May 19, 2017


In this gripping stand-alone from bestselling author Mary Burton, an FBI agent must catch a copycat killer. The only difference this time: she’s the final victim. Continue reading

Keep Your Head #amwriting


© A Mixed Bag 2009

Thanks to Alistair, as always, for hosting Sunday Photo Fiction. If you’d like to join in, click here.


Keep Your Head

I grew up thinking monsters were inhuman. They were the bogeyman in the closet, Pennywise in the sewer, and the unknown grab-monster under the bed. Continue reading

My Future on a Chain Gang?



I sit in a barren room for what feels like a very long time. Mrs. Eldridge brings me a cup of coffee, which isn’t bad at all. She tells me they have one of those Keurigs and you just pop in a little plastic cup and presto, unique coffee. I went to school with her daughter, Louise, who is now pregnant with child number four.

Mrs. Eldridge pats me on my hand and tells me, “I don’t think for one instant you’d murder anyone. You always talked big, but acted small.”

I feel my eyes widen. “Thanks.” I think.

There’s a window in the door so I can see people passing by. Several times Linc passes, but he doesn’t glance through.

My stepmother dead. My stepmother who gave me a gun to hold at the beginning of the week so that my fingerprints would be on it. Frankly it’s all confusing to me. Did she kill Ry? And then someone killed her? Did someone kill her and Ry?

Linc opens the door. He has a bunch of papers in his hand. He glances at me and then begins reading me my rights.

“Just a crazy assed second, Linc. What are you doing?” I ask.

“Rosie’s sugar was laced with digitalis,” he says.

“So? It’s a heart drug.”

“She wasn’t being treated. You grow foxglove.”

“Strangely I grow foxglove outside and anyone and everyone has access to it.”

“Your fingerprints were on the sugar canister.”

“My fingerprints are probably on a lot of things in that house. It’s my father’s house and I have been known to visit him. I even drink tea there and put sugar in it…from the canister.”

Linc leans his butt against the table, folds his arms across his chest and stares at me. I give him as good as I get.

“This is a set up. A frame, whatever y’all call it. Sooner or later you’re going to realize that.”

He shakes his head and leans down toward me. “Listen, Annie. I am in your corner, but everything points to you which makes being in your corner kind of like playing a losing hand.”

I am in a dire situation. I know that, but there’s something about looking in this man’s vibrant blue eyes that makes want to answer the call of the wild. Dammit. I need to focus instead of looking at those lips and remembering what they once made me feel during one of those intervals when we tried each other on. Maybe if we’d tried to stick I wouldn’t be sitting here like this today.

He finishes reading me my rights and the next thing I know I am being charged with three counts of murder. Linc’s eyes are veiled as they look at me. I get the feeling that maybe he didn’t think I’d killed Ry and that Shears woman, but now with Rosie dead, he isn’t so sure. I can’t blame him. If I didn’t know better, I’d wonder too.


end 4/2/2017

S. Darlington

What’s Luck Got to Do with It, Got to Do with It?

What’s Luck Got to Do with It?

Ever just had the feeling that your real life has become a carnival ride that just won’t quit? It’s not the fun kind of carnival ride either. We’re talking about the one that goes up and down and spins around until all of that cotton candy, fried Snickers, French fries, and fried you-name-it wants to make an encore appearance.

I am sitting in the back of Lincoln Bergstrom’s police cruiser with my hands cuffed together, singing “There But For Fortune,” while he drives me to the Sheriff’s office where I’ll no doubt be booked for a double homicide that I didn’t commit. I’m looking at the back of his neck where there’s a white line against his hairline a clear indication that he just had his hair cut. I sit forward and run my tongue along that line.

He jams on the brakes and I’m thrown forward, my face happily buried in his neck where I notice he smells like lemon and something woodsy. Hmmm.

“What the hell, Annie?” he asks, jerking his head around to look at me.

I shrug. “Never know when I’ll get an opportunity like that again, especially since you’re arresting me.”

“Would you take this seriously?”

“I am. Why do you think I was so forward? You taste nice, by the way.”

He shakes his head, removes his foot from the brake and we start forward again. I look out the window at the rows of cornstalks. Corn as high as an elephant’s eye.

“You handle any guns recently?” he asks.

“Nope. I told you. I don’t like guns.”

“No one gave you one to hold.”

I shake my head. “Rosie had me hold a toy one at the beginning of the week.”

He looks at me in the rear view mirror. “You sure it wasn’t a real one?”

I bite my lip. “It could have been. I thought it felt a little heavy, but she said that’s the way they make them now.”

I squeeze my eyes tight. “I was being stupid, wasn’t I? It was a real gun. But you said Ry bought it. What would Rosie being doing with it?”

“She’s your stepmother, you tell me.”

I chuckle humorlessly and shake my head before meeting his gaze in the mirror. “You don’t think she was boinking Ry too, do you?”

His expression is sympathetic, which I don’t need. I do not need him pitying me. Pity parties aren’t my style.

“I was probably the only one not boinking him,” I say. “Did you know about him?”

Linc meets my eyes for a second, but it’s enough for me to see that he did know. I think probably everyone knew, but no one told me.

“Crap.” I kick the back of the passenger’s seat.

“Come on now, Annie. Don’t be like that.”

“Were there other fingerprints on that gun?”

“Nope, just yours,” he says. “Rosie wasn’t wearing gloves or hand it to you with a cloth or something?”

I try to remember the day. I don’t even remember what excuse she gave me for having a toy gun. Was it something to do with her real daughter’s boy? I just shake my head.

“I don’t remember. But it’s not likely to matter is it? Unless someone saw us, it would be her word against mine.”

We’re quiet for the rest of the way into town. I’m thinking about this mess and about Linc Bergstrom and whether my stepmom was boinking my dead husband and if the prison jumpsuits are really orange and how that color wouldn’t look good on anybody.

As Linc helps me from the car, Deputy Nunez comes up, looking more than a little upset. All I hear is: Rosie Campbell dead. Well, this crap just got really real.


end 3/30/2017

S. Darlington





He’s A Cheatin’ All Over Town

Part I Reality TV Presents: “Just Good Ole Boys”

Part II I Would Never Shoot The Sheriff


He’s A Cheatin’ All Over Town

Now you may call me a traditionalist, but I thought the one place where I would not face reminders of my husband’s infidelity was at his funeral. You’d think it would be sacred territory.

There were at least a half-dozen black clad, veil-wearing weepers clinging on the arms of others as if they had lost their husbands. They blew into their hankies and sobbed, some bereft almost to the point of vapors. It became immediately clear that Ry’s dingdong had been ringing a lot of doorbells.

Reverend Mayfield stopped at one point as the wailing became more than slightly overwrought and drowned out his sermon. He looked at me in sympathy, but I was stewing and almost glaring at the coffin. Seeing it on tv was bad enough, but suspecting that he’d has his own door-to-door welcome wagon with all of these women ripped apart my insides.

Back at the house my sister, Clarice, served beer, wine, sweet tea, and bourbon as well as donated casseroles of every size, shape, and content, and patted my hand at intervals. “Stiff upper lip, Annie. Our Granny didn’t raise limp rags.”

“I was just thinking any one of those women could have killed him.”

“More like any one of their husbands.”

“It’s a wide playing field,” I said, took a sip of the old fashioned she’d made me, and shook my head. “How is it possible I didn’t know?”

“Maybe you did and you subliminally couldn’t accept it,” Clarice said, raising an eyebrow at me.

I raised an eyebrow back at her.

“No. You’re right,” she said even though I hadn’t said anything. “You wouldn’t handle anything subliminally. You’d have made him wish he were dead.”

“Ladies and Annie,” Linc said as he came up to us.

“Nice one, Sheriff. Have you been practicing your standup comedy in front of the mirror again?”

Clarice giggled. She punched Linc in his upper arm. “You’re looking mighty fine in your uniform these days. And probably mighty fine out of it too, right, Annie?”

“I wouldn’t know,” I said somewhat huffily.

Linc cleared his voice. I noticed that he had turned a little red, which was cute for a thirty-year old man.

“My understanding is that there were more than a few upset women at the funeral?” he asked.

Clarice gasped. “Don’t you have any consideration for Annie’s feelings?”

“Not lately, no,” he said.

It was my turn to gasp.

“I’m not fond of being lied to,” he said.

“I didn’t lie to you,” I said.

“Ry bought a gun.”

“I didn’t know.”

“Your fingerprints were on it.”

“That’s not possible.”

We were in each other’s faces. I could see the flecks of amber in his blue eyes. My breathing was hard as if I had just kissed him again.

“I can’t speak to possibilities. I can only speak for what the CSI guys found. Your fingerprints on the gun that was used to kill Ry and that Conrad Shears woman.”

I wished at that very moment that I was a fainter. It would have been a better scene ending than asking Clarice to find Uncle Newman, my soon-to-be lawyer.

As she walked away, I frowned at Linc. “You don’t think I did it, do you?”

He shrugged. “I hope to hell you didn’t, but we go with evidence. Your fingerprints on the murder weapon is pretty damning.”

“I still didn’t do it.”

“And I still got to take you in.”

He pulled out his handcuffs and gestured for me to extend my hands.

“Do you have to cuff me?”

“Yep. Just not the picture I had in my mind when I thought about doing it.”


end 3/29/2017

S. Darlington