So glad to hear author Nicole Kurtz is back on the scene with a new release. I’ve known Nicole for a while now, having met at ConCarolinas several years ago. We share a love of speculative fiction, which has given us the opportunity to work together on a few projects for her publishing house, Mocha Memoirs Press.
In addition to her futuristic thriller series, Cybil Lewis, Nicole also writes horror and dark fantasy. Her novels have been named as finalists in the Fresh Voices in Science Fiction, EPPIE in Science Fiction, and Dream Realm Awards in science fiction. Nicole’s short stories have earned an Honorable Mention in L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future contest, and have appeared in numerous anthologies and publications.
It’s been some time since we chatted, but when I saw she had a new Cybil Lewis novel out, I applauded. So here’s the info. Get yourself a copy.
Cybil Lewis and her inspector-in-training, Jane, are back on the case. Hired to find the missing son of a prominent woman, Cybil is pulled into the District’s sordid political arena of a governor’s family with dark and dangerous secrets, and the determination to keep them hidden. Cybil will soon learn that anyone can be a little cozen.
Something about seeing someone smeared over Freedom Square with its historic quotations and long dead implications made me shudder. It wasn’t right.
The shiny moonlight revealed glistening drops that led off from the man’s body on to the impenetrable trees that dotted the pavement along the square. A reminder of a time when the United States wasn’t a jigsaw puzzle of territories, the vegetation had part of continuing Thomas Jefferson’s law to keep D.C. beautiful.
Now, no one even flew their vehicles this close to the ground unless landing.
“What the heck?” Without even realizing it, I’d drifted over to the violation scene once more for closer inspection. My eyes squinted as they tried to focus on the substance.
“Stop!” A regulator resembling a brick wall with a tan jumped in front of me just as I reached the liquid trail’s beginning a few feet from the cautionary beam. Between the beam and the brute, they’d managed to keep all citizens out of the violation scene. Beneath his uniform, muscles bulged against the fabric, threatening to rend the material.
“You’re not authorized to be here!” The monstrous regulator’s deep voice sounded like it had been modified from an audio file. Lips firmly pressed together and trunk-sized arms crossed over his chest, I knew immediately that my usual sweet-talking charm wasn’t going to melt his ice.
“Well, Regulator Tom said…” The lie formed on my tongue and slid off like a snake.
“I said what?” Daniel quipped from behind me.
I groaned. I needed to see those stains closer.
“She’s leaving, Ron.” Daniel frowned at my actions, no doubt. He grabbed my arm and directed me over to a somewhat secluded spot several paces away. “Are you trying to get me fired?” he asked heatedly once we were out of earshot.
“You invited me here!” I removed his hand from my arm. I turned slightly away from him. His fingers brushed my arm in a half-hearted attempt to reclaim it.
“If the captain finds you here…”
“I know. So why wake me up just to jerk my chain?” I didn’t want to argue with him. Daniel’s arguments could go on for eternity, even if I’d died midway through the debate.
“No, but go home. I’ll let you know when I get more.”
I didn’t quite know how to respond to that and retain my dignity, so I stood with my arms crossed and my face fixed at pissed.
“I needed you to ID him, all right? You keep telling me you don’t know who he is, though the look on your face tells me you do. Since you won’t make the identification, I’ve got to put you back with the citizens.”
With his hand on my shoulder, he moved me toward the crowd of hungry spectators. Perhaps it was more guiding than dragging. I seemed to gravitate to my wauto. I didn’t tell him or anyone about the inky dark spots. No doubt the regulators’ vioTechs would locate and misinterpret them. This wasn’t my case and I wasn’t getting paid. Home sounded better and better.
I paused before getting into the pilot’s seat. Behind the caution beam, doctors removed chunks of the body into a body bag and hauled it away on a levitating dolly. Flashes from digital cameras lit up the early morning sky. The cool air seemed to suck all the strength out of me.
No matter how often I saw it, regardless of what form it took, it made me reflect on just why I did this kind of work. The loss of human life always unnerved me. Well okay, not always. When someone is trying to silence you truly permanently, then no, I don’t weep for the bastard who eats the other end of my laser gun.
Yet, this accident dropped a sharp stab into my emotional soft spots, the ones I usually keep covered with my own internal Kevlar vest.
As I sank into my wauto’s leather seat, images of him swirled across my vision like contact lenses—suctioned on, refusing to let go until the tears washed them out. I didn’t cry, not then. I wanted to, but I couldn’t.
The body no longer resembled a human being, but a battered hunk of meat.
Once he had been handsome, healthy, and one hell of a lover.
His name had been Carlos Rodriguez.
Cozened is available now on Amazon. Follow Nicole on her social media outlets:
Goodreads: Nicole Givens Kurtz