Are you nuts? That’s the premise around my PINKED series. I manage community associations and I can TELL you without a doubt that you see some of the worst in people of any other profession, including when I was a caterer. They all think they know better than me. So I decided to bring you stories that are actually some based on truth and I just kick them up a bit so I can kill people creatively. So in honor of Rebel Ink Press’ HUGE two year anniversary celebration, all of our titles are 25% off at ARe – All Romance e-books. What a better way to start the collection. I just had a release with one of the heroes of the story – Through the Eyes of a Golden – and a Golden Retriever is a main character throughout. See what you think…
Where community association living is dangerous to your health
When Community Association Manager Nicky French received a call about one of her communities in the middle of the night, she knew something serious was up. Finding the developer of Leopard’s Pointe impaled on the iron pool gates surrounded by a sea of inflatable pink flamingoes, Nicky was stunned to find bonfires raging and the community rejoicing. William Barrington was the brilliant designer of the upscale multi-use community, yet apparently everyone wanted him dead. And there were too many suspects to name including every single homeowner in the community and his two sons.
For rough and tumble Detective Tyler Deverall to be called to a scene of a murder in the middle of the night was nothing unusual. And given the only thing keeping the owners from partying all night long and celebrating thus hindering his investigation was Nicky French’s tough stance, Tyler was intrigued.
As Nicky and Tyler set out to find the murderer, builders begin to drop like flies with each murder becoming more horrific and comical than the last. Set against the backdrop of Chesterfield County, Virginia, enter the realm (and sometimes nightmare) of one very special homeowner’s association – where living can be dangerous to your health. As Nicky and Tyler delve into the wild world of spray painted flowers, kinky sex, neon signs and a tango with the mafia, they soon learn that their understanding of humanity will never be the same. Who knew a glue gun could be such an effective murder weapon?
“Nicky! Your God damned beefcake hotshot developer has managed to get his fat ass impaled on the pool gates. Now I’ve got blood everywhere and people screaming. What are you going to do about it?” The gravelly chastising voice bellowed like a bull in a china shop, insistent and imploring. The man was cranky as hell.
And it pissed the bejesus out of her. “Who the hell are you?” Nicky French fumbled in the dark trying to make sense of why in God’s name she had answered the phone at all in the middle of the night. She sat up. The blood bammed against her forehead so hard it was like tiny and very noisy munchkin men were inside her brain beating to the tune of Michael Jackson’s Beat It.
She thrashed in the direction of the phone and her hand slamming into something. The crash was loud enough to wake the dead. “Holy fuck!”
“What do you mean who is this? Get a grip girl! Do your job! This is Ray!”
Nicky struggled with the covers that had captured her like a prisoner of war, tumbled out of bed and fell directly onto her face. “Ray who?”
“Your God damned Board President. That’s who! You know, the one your lousy firm works for?”
Nicky fought her way to the bathroom, cordless phone still in her hand. Ray Switzer. Oh yeah. Famous in his mind anyway. The cranky old guy ran — and she merely thought the words with a chagrin on her face — ran the Board at Leopard’s Pointe, the Premiere Community Association in Chesterfield. Yeah right. She growled. “Ah…Ray. Why exactly are you calling me again in the middle of the night?”
“Are you deaf, girl? The damn developer’s down here on the top of the pool gates. Fucker’s dead as a damn doornail. Causing quite a stir too I might add. Shit woman, I think a party’s ready to break out. Hold on! Marge – stop that. You can’t take pictures with a dead man for Christ’s sake!” Huffing and puffing rumbled through the phone.
Nicky heard muffled excited voices that had to be hovering directly behind Ray. God, the man drove her absolutely nuts. No, the freaking community drove her nuts. That’s because only nut cases lived there. Yep, her favorite saying remained in the forefront of her mind. You move into a community association, check your brains at the door. Hush girl! Association Management is your chosen profession. Remember?
“No! It won’t make good newsletter material! Sorry Nicky. Damn these women drive me crazy!” Ray huffed.
Who the hell was he talking to? “So are you serious, Ray? Is there really a dead man’s body somewhere in the community?” Groaning, Nicky stabbed at the light. The florescent beams hit her squarely in the eyes. She winced and her head bounced to the moon. Damn! She shouldn’t have had that last fuzzy nipple or pink navel or whatever the hell Ruby forced her to have. Her best friend could make a party out of anything.
“Dead as a damn heart attack, girl. And you wouldn’t believe the rest of it. Get the hell down here now! Oh holy hell! I gotta go, Fred’s bringing out the cheese whiz. Jesus H. Christ! Fred…Fred!”
“Ray. Ray!” Snarling, Nicky realized Ray hung up. She dropped the phone with a thud and held onto the bathroom counter. The entire world swooned by her like a bad case of the heebie jeebies. What the hell is the crazed old fool talking about? Somehow she doubted William Barrington the third – and she was required to address the retired ex-New York judge that way — was somehow nestled into the closed pool in the middle of the night. But then again, she found two kids in the back of the bathroom doing the nasty just last week. And the damned pool had been open what, a week?
Inhaling deeply, Nicky balled her fists and glared at herself in the mirror. She was thirty-one going on a hundred, easily. The damn community had aged her just in the last year alone. There was nothing like two separate cases of raw sewage spewing into several condominium units around a given holiday to boil your blood. She turned on the cool water and splashed a handful in her face remembering she wasn’t on call, not this month. Yet Ray baby knew all of her phone numbers and called her outside of business hours on a regular basis.
Nicky, why haven’t the pool chairs come in?
Nicky, why aren’t we on budget for grounds care?
Nicky, I can’t stand the damn painter. Can’t you fire him and hire another?
The majority of the time Nicky felt like a battering ram for the entire community. Still, something was up. Ray wouldn’t call her unless something was going on in the melting pot of humans. The question was, was she sober enough to drive? She fumbled back into the bedroom and stared at the crimson bold-faced digital clock. Three am? How long have I been asleep, like an hour?
Why no officer. I haven’t had a thing to drink. Just going to visit the community I manage in the middle of the freaking night!
You betcha that excuse would fly. All the way to jail.
Growling, Nicky fumbled to find the clothes she slid out of barely an hour before. The lovely single nightcap turned into a round of heavy dirty dancing with some guy name Raul. Who the hell named their kid Raul and lived to talk about it? She was going to curse her Ruby Dettrix in the morning. She could still see the buxom woman batting her emerald green eyes and slicing her rich auburn hair over her shoulders as she pursed her lips, daring Nicky to join her. Just one drink girlfriend. It’ll be fun.
Four drinks later and a handful of phones numbers and Nicky was hot, horny and alone.
Realizing time was of the essence she threw on the same attire, a tight black leather skirt and scarlet polyester shirt that clung to every curve like a glove and shook her head. Boy, wasn’t she the picture of association management? Sadly, with three night meetings that week, she hadn’t managed to do laundry in a good ten days. Aarrgh! Huffing, Nicky brushed the golden strands back into a ponytail and rushed to put on a little make up, gazing at her reflection with disdain. “You look like hell in a hand basket.”
Giggling, Nicky imagined it was perfect for a murder scene. Jerking to a halt, she threw her hand over her mouth, frozen like a popsicle in Alaska. Murder? Was he serious? Not that she hadn’t thought about it before, given her profession, who wouldn’t? Still, murder in the community was unheard of. Had Ray said anything about calling the police? Shit, she could barely remember. She grabbed a bottle of water, her purse, keys and prayed to some God she’d make it from the West End to Chesterfield County in one piece.
THE FLAMINGO WRANGLER
Mick St. Simons thought his day couldn’t get any worse. Unwanted and God knew unneeded Leopard’s Pointe Board members suddenly appeared, drinking shots of tequila while the entire Virginia Beach Society of Harley Riders camped in the middle of his bar, The Flamingo Rustler. But when he heard the massive explosion across the street and his bar became an immediate association clubhouse, he knew his day had turned to shit.
For Nicky French and Tyler Deverall, it was just another day at the office. Blown to bits by sources unknown, the center of the community and the beloved clubhouse affectionately called the “Zoo”, the Board demanded answers and they had to come fast. As hints of a mafia hit showered the airwaves, the community is placed on edge and takes matters into their own hands. Keeping the peace wasn’t a problem. Keeping the owners away from guns, battery powered hedge trimmers, poison and fire extinguishers was.
And when a much loved long term community leader ends up in the pool naked with a hooker and a bag full of drugs, well, all bets were off. As Mick struggles to regain his bar and Nicky and Tyler battle a possible drug lord, more bodies wash up literally. And then there’s the issue of pink silk panties. The clues are plenty and the suspects abound and somehow, the nights seem to grow wilder.
Nicky French eyed the Leopard’s Point Association Board of Directors and resisted using her purse in a dangerous fashion. But dear God she could see pummeling one or all of them for blatant disregard to intelligence. Why in the hell were they arguing in the middle of July about Christmas decorations? Sighing, she looked out the clubhouse window at the contention of homeowners romping in the pool and squinted before shaking her head and stealing a glance at her watch. It wasn’t quite eight thirty and the cusp of yet another humid evening was baring down on Chesterfield County Virginia but she could see clearly enough. There were naked men in the pool. “What the fuck?”
“What did you say, Nicky?” the man asked as he gazed down the length of the six foot table.
Nicky eyed Ray Switzer, the now somewhat infamous Board President of perhaps the swankiest and most well known community association in the entire state of Virginia, and gave him her best rendition of a naughty girl smile. There was something almost comforting about having naked people in a community pool while the zookeepers droned on and on about what she considered to be fairly useless details in life. But since they’d spent nearly forty minutes on arguing about the types of decorations that should or shouldn’t be allowed in the community she knew it was damn important to the five thousand or so homeowners living within the gated community. Right?
God she longed to flee the building before she turned into a pumpkin. They were halfway through the Board meeting agenda and she knew damn good and well the entire group could spend a solid hour on delinquencies alone. Nicky craved a drink, a good lay and a new job. And not necessarily in that order. Tapping her foot against the metal table leg she absently eyed the door that seemed so damn far away. Sadly between the five board members staring at her like she was fresh prey to the forty or so homeowners snuggling into metal chairs hugging the perimeter of the clubhouse living room there was nowhere to run to. “Nothing, Ray. Sorry. And you were saying?” Maybe another damn good murder with something like a weed eater or tree chipper would help the idiots think about anything else but their dying libidos and challenging every creative idea.
Oh yeah, she was dreaming of pink elephants again.
Before any of the Board members had a chance to give a smart retort the door burst open and Patricia Lonestar swaggered into the room in her floor length fur coat.
Nicky fought dropping her head to the table and beating some sense into her brain. If only she had a gun… Hell, that wouldn’t do any good with the crazies. There was something not quite right about the aging plump woman who had the personality of an alligator and the look of a shark. And wearing a fur coat in the middle of summer was nothing more than her way of shoving down the throats of all the little wannabe’s in the community she had money and they didn’t.
And she the woman couldn’t pay her association fees to save her life. Who the hell couldn’t fork out eighty dollars a month? Nicky knew it was more about her solidarity with something and no one wanted to get close enough with her to find out. Between pink flamingos flying at half staff in the community, a solid five percent refusing to pay their fees and the committees who enjoyed torturing… er tormenting people in the community Nicky was surprised anyone could smile. Narrowing her eyes, she stared at the ugly bulldog who somehow reminded her of Patricia. Same ugly demeanor. Same ugly scowl. Same facial structure. At least the dog’s fur coat was somehow better suited and better fitted.
“That lying bitch is going to die!” Holding out her shaking hand Patricia hissed as she foamed at the mouth and pointed directly at Nicky, her eyes full of rage.
Gasping, Betty Monroe, the Vice President and forty’s harlot wannabe chomped her gum and gazed down the table at Nicky. “You have yet another fan, Nicky.”
“Patricia, member voice is over,” Ray snarled.
“I don’t give a rat’s ass about protocol and you know it. I’ve come to deal with the nasty letters that woman continues to send me. You need to fire her.” Throwing her head back Patricia snuffed as she stuck her two fingers in her mouth and whistled.
“And not much couth either,” he said under his breath.
Nicky smiled and snuck a quick glance at the association’s Treasurer, Michael Jones. Somehow she longed for him to be in a garish leather get up instead of khaki’s and a polo. She had a feeling a Master Dom would stop Patricia in her tracks. “Patricia, what can we do for you?” Maybe going across the street to the local bar and grill, The Flamingo Rustler would be in order. A drink or five and a moment to flirt with the best looking Aussie in town would do her some good.
“You say I haven’t paid my bills!” Patricia snapped as she sashayed forward.
Here it comes. Nicky shook her head as she could see Ray opening his mouth to retort. Don’t do it. Don’t… But the man refused to listen to rules or anything else. As what could only be described as a chauffeur on steroids glided into the clubhouse she tried to envision being anywhere else like her OB-GYN with her legs spread wide or perhaps waiting in line, a long line at a Wal-mart. Wait, she’d never go into a damn Wal-mart. But still, anywhere and as she kinda heard the woman going off about how she could buy all of Richmond with striking a check and how she had more money than God and that Nicky was going to burn in hell for lying… Every day she asked herself the same question, why did she work so hard to achieve the highest designation of PCAM in the country?
Instead of professional community association manager the four simple letters should stand for premier crass asshole methodology. At least the thought gave her a smile. Glancing at the overweight woman foaming at the mouth, she resisted giggling. Inhaling deeply she pretended to write down everything the woman was screeching about but somehow the little man who was pouring what had to be a martini for his boss or perhaps dominatrix was a little distracting. Would jumping over the front aisle and ripping the drink out of the man’s hand be considered in poor taste?
“Just tell us what you want as we have a long agenda ahead of us and I know we would all like to get home before midnight at least,” Ray said as he nodded to the other board members.
Midnight? Nicky snaked her hand down and grabbed her bottle of water. She hadn’t won the debate with her inner wild child about replacing the sixteen ounces with vodka but next time she would know better.
“I’ve come to pay my bill. I can do that here, can’t it?”
There was something about the wry grin on the woman’s face that troubled Nicky. “Of course you can. We can certainly talk about this in private later and I’ll give you the total amount so you can write a check if you like.”
Swirling her drink Patricia grinned before licking the rim. “I have things to do later this glorious evening and I know how much I owe to the penny. Are you ready?”
There was no doubt in Nicky’s mind the evening was going to be long and drawn out. Before she could say anything Ray simply beckoned for her as he huffed.
“Bring it up and then we can get on with the meeting.”
Nicky glanced at Ray and closed her eyes yet she could hear Patricia chuckling. Why hadn’t she gotten the cat-scan earlier? As the bulldog woofed she opened one eye just in time to see the dog take a crap in the middle of the floor.
“Happy to,” Patricia breathed. “Oh Poo Bear! That wasn’t nice. Ricky, please clean this up.”
Seeing Patricia’s chauffer scuttle away like a rat gave Nicky pause. She sorted through her papers and attempted to look busy as other members of the association cackled in the audience.
“God damn it can’t you take care of that rat ass bastard?” Ray snipped.
“Your dog is here too, Ray?” Betty asked as she laughed.
“Un-fucking-believable,” Nicky said through clenched teeth.
Betty slapped her hand. “We have to laugh honey or we’d all go insane.”
Who was the woman kidding? They were already insane.
“Let’s get back to business. Now Nicky, can you at least get us two proposals for the Christmas decorations by next week? We can call a special board meeting to decide,” Ray snorted as he slapped the top of the table.
“Special board meeting? Are you fucking out of your mind? These are long enough at once a month.”
For once Nicky had to agree with Sally. Probably the most hated woman in the community, she rarely said anything but boy she took copious notes. “You’ll have three and we don’t need a board meeting as long as you all agree on the vendor.”
“Perfect. Then it’s settled. Let’s move on to the clubhouse painting contracts.”
Nicky groaned and concentrated on watching Ricky clean up the dog shit. The act was somehow so damn appropriate.
“Oh Ricky. Please get Poo Bear and I our chairs,” Patricia said as she wagged her finger. “And another martini.”
Nicky opened her mouth and was startled nothing came out. Had she lost her nerve? Or was she just mildly out of her mind?
Could you live here? I dunno
Hope you enjoyed and I have the purchase inks for you…