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Bantering With Murder

Hired gun Julia Banter is accustomed to working alone and outside the law, but a series of suspicious murders find her forming an alliance with police detective Corey Van Baine. As the bodies begin to pile up and large sums of money go missing, Banter and Corey race to find out who’s the mole and who’s the murderer…and who’s destined for a happily ever after.

Age Rating: 18+


Bantering With Murder by SJ Wilke is now available to read on the Galatea app! Read the first two chapters below, or download Galatea for the full experience.



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Hired gun Julia Banter is accustomed to working alone and outside the law, but a series of suspicious murders find her forming an alliance with police detective Corey Van Baine. As the bodies begin to pile up and large sums of money go missing, Banter and Corey race to find out who’s the mole and who’s the murderer…and who’s destined for a happily ever after.

Age Rating: 18+

Original Author: SJ Wilke

Banter could feel her gun still strapped firmly to her back. It didn’t even shift when she executed one last cartwheel.

She had calculated the distance precisely and landed right beside the picnic table.

After two deep breaths to recover, she sat on top of the table with her feet resting on the seat. Three breaths later, the black stretch limo pulled up to the curb. She had been waiting for it.

“I don’t like you,” Banter said.

She stretched her right shoulder while she looked over the park, knowing she had to wait.

This was her favorite place to go to execute her parkour moves. There were several benches, nicely spaced, a few half-walls defining garden areas, and picnic tables she could use as obstacles to be navigated.

The park still had the old-style metal swings with the A-frame base that was fun to run up and climb. She liked to walk across the top like she was on a balance beam. This was her way of training to stay in shape and keep agile.

Banter rubbed her hands together to generate some heat and expend some of her exasperation.

She liked that her thin black gloves kept her hands warm with the added benefit of giving her enough feel should she need to pick a lock or someone’s pocket. They also prevented her from leaving fingerprints.

“Give me an opening. I’ve been after you for weeks. I’m getting tired of this. I need to use this gun and get rid of it.”

She adjusted her black hoodie, hoping that it would absorb a little of the sun’s warmth, but the late afternoon sun was already too low in the sky to do much good.

“I’m waiting, and you can’t see me. Take a chance.”

Banter didn’t know why, but a figure dressed all in black garnered no attention as if invisible.

Her clothing was all black, even down to her shoes, where she blacked out the logo with a permanent marker to keep herself as nondescript as possible.

“We have company,” she murmured under her breath as if she was alerting the gun.

A young girl that Banter guessed was about five years old ran to the swing set that Banter had climbed earlier. The child stood out, dressed in a bright red and yellow jacket.

A woman Banter knew was a hooker and probably the girl’s mother was strutting along the sidewalk where the limo pulled up. She looked a little cold wearing only a short tight red skirt and a white blouse revealing hefty cleavage.

“Right on time today,” Banter said while she adjusted her hoodie lower on her face.

“Limo’s sitting lower than normal, don’t you think? Bet he brought company. So what do you think?”

Her one idiosyncrasy, because of working alone, was to talk to her gun.

“I bet he brought two or three buddies? Can’t be more than three. He would be too crowded and wouldn’t have room for the hooker.”

The window rolled down when the hooker approached. Banter could hear the murmur of voices but was unable to pick out any words.

Then the window closed, and the door opened. A hand reached out and pulled the hooker into the limo. The door closed quickly behind her.

“I don’t think you know what trouble you’re getting into today, girl.” Banter murmured, knowing she needed to be patient and wait.

She rued the fact that the limo had bulletproof glass and reinforced doors. However, with multiple people in the back and one hooker, she was betting they would get sloppy.

The limo shifted just a bit from side to side.

“Someone’s having a little too much fun. Told you that limo was trouble, girl. Bet they are slapping you around and tenderizing you a bit. Those are not nice people.”

Banter counted out five minutes.

“Just about show time,” she said, stepping from the picnic table.

“Mommy? Mommy?”

The child looked a little frantic, having realized her mother was out of sight. She spun around to focus on Banter.

“Have you seen my mommy?”

The child trotted over to her.

It didn’t surprise her that the child saw her. Children seemed to see everything. However, she did think the child was a little too trusting, especially considering her mother’s choice of career.

She decided to take advantage of it.

“Yeah, she’s in that limo having sex,” Banter said, thinking the child would be a good cover. “Let’s go over and check on her.”

Banter adopted a slow pace while she crossed the park, knowing the child would follow. The child would become a blind for a killer on the move.

Banter slid out the gun from her holster. While keeping it hidden under her hoodie, she pulled out her silencer from another pocket and twisted it onto the gun.

It was a small annoyance that the gun didn’t fit the holster with the silencer on. She had to keep them separate.

When Banter came within fifteen feet of the limo, the door opened. It looked like they had kicked out the hooker with some force.

The woman landed on the concrete face first. Her bare ass was showing because of her skirt being hiked up. A perfect red bite mark adorned one ass cheek. One shoe was off. Her splayed legs prevented the door from closing.

Voices and loud raucous laughter radiated from within the limo, letting Banter know the men weren’t paying attention to what was happening outside the windows.

She made her move, prepared for the worst-case scenario: four men in the back, a driver, and a man riding shotgun. Narrowing the distance, she deftly switched the gun to her left hand, getting the right angle and shifting her body to be out of the path of the ejected shells.

She shot twice through the open door: one head shot at her target and one shot at chest level.

Then she quickly shifted the gun to her right hand and changed the angle and shot twice more, hoping she hit whomever was sitting across from the back seat.

The driver’s door opened, but Banter, still moving, anticipated this and fired one shot into the driver. He slumped over the steering wheel while she continued toward the front of the limo.

The man riding shotgun looked like he couldn’t get out fast enough. He already had his door open enough and his gun hanging out in hopes he could get her to hesitate.

Banter knew the windshield protected her and the fact he didn’t have enough of himself out of the door to get the right aim. She kept moving, firing a shot at his hand, taking off a finger.

Losing his finger caused him to lose his grip on the gun.

He stumbled when he tried to recover his stance. The gun, now slick with blood, was foiling his attempt to renew his grip. It wasn’t helping that he was also trying to keep track of her position.

With a second shot, she caught the man in the head, between the eyes. It was a clean shot, and he dropped like a rock, out of sight. There was the sickening thud of his head hitting the pavement.

Banter turned around and returned to her original position. No more doors opened. No more windows rolled down.

She knew the driver and the man riding shotgun were dead. She knew her main target was dead since he had been the first one she shot. With that head shot, he was definitely a goner.

“Ah… gat de fuck out of here, ya bitch,” Banter said using a low voice with a bit of an accent, talking tough to the hooker on purpose.

The hooker had yet to recover from her landing on the sidewalk, seeming to be afraid to move for fear she was next. Her child was crying beside her, tugging on her mother’s arm.

Banter’s tough talk caused the woman to gain control of herself and to rise. She pulled down her skirt and grabbed her child’s hand. Her nose was skinned and bleeding.

The woman avoided looking at Banter as if she knew it wasn’t a wise thing to do. She limped off with her child in tow.

Banter did a quick look around the area before she returned to her picnic table. She took off the silencer and replaced the gun into her back holster, then put the silencer into her pocket.

There wasn’t a single person around, and she knew it was safe to wait. She wanted to know how many people were in the limo without the risk of sticking her head in to find out.

“Damn. I should have asked the hooker. Why didn’t you remind me to ask the hooker?”

The hooker was no longer in sight.

“Oh, well. At least it’s pretty quiet around here. Far enough from buildings. Lots of trees to hide us.

“I would say they parked that limo in just about the perfect place. Far enough from those pesky traffic cameras that spy on everyone.”

She gazed around the park again.

“Yes, you’re right. A perfect place. No witnesses. Well, yeah, there’s the hooker, but she’s not going to tell anyone. She would be afraid of retribution aimed at her kid. Yeah, kid, today was your mother’s lucky day.”

The child was the only reason that Banter hadn’t included the hooker in the hit.

“Amazing what a guy will do for sex. I bet he spent a fortune, too. Don’t you think?”

She shifted her shoulders as if nudging the gun for a response.

“This isn’t the usual spot to pick up a hooker. Too nice of a neighborhood. Yeah, I would agree with you. Sex was his addiction. A different hooker here every day. Prearranged, definitely.”

A bird landed on the swing set, then flew away.

“Do you think he got a quantity discount?”

She chuckled.

“The joys of fast sex. In and out in minutes. Never gave us an opening. Until today. He brought pals along for the ride. Gave me enough time for my approach.

“Yeah, I would say he got sloppy. Bet they gangbanged that hooker and never even paid her.”

There was a siren in the distance, but it faded.

“Fast sex. For good reason. There’s the patrol car for the neighborhood.”

The patrol car hadn’t even reached the limo when it turned on its flashing lights and stopped.

“I bet a dead guy by a limo is a big hint that something’s amiss. Especially since he has a hole in his head.”

She chuckled to herself, waiting with interest to see how the scene would play out. Remaining at the crime scene had a minor risk, but she knew she didn’t fit the stereotype of a gun-for-hire.

She pulled off the hoodie, revealing her dark hair, which was short and sassy. Her eyes were a deep brown. However, her complexion was pale, making her eyes stand out.

Her eyes could catch a lot of attention whenever she needed to bait a guy. She was only a few inches over five feet and petite, which caused most people to misjudge her age and think she was much younger.

She closed her eyes, thinking about the hit. It was worth three hundred thousand. That is going to be a good paycheck, she thought, opening her eyes.

She knew she was pretty good at what she did, despite that her slender frame made it tricky when it came to hiding weapons on her. Strapping her gun to her back was her only option.

“Here comes backup.”

Two more police cars arrived, blocking the other side of the road which hemmed in the limo, securing the crime scene. None of them were using sirens, but they turned on their flashing lights.

The officers exited their vehicles to converge on the far side of the limo. Ten minutes later, two unmarked police cars arrived and parked on the grass of the park.

The crime scene investigators arrived in their van moments later. Soon, tiny orange markers appeared around the limo.

“Let’s see,” she said to herself. “Seven markers for seven shells. Yep. I fired seven times.”

A technician was now walking around taking pictures of the markers and the limo.

She knew they had checked the interior of the limo through one of the doors on the side away from her, as well as through the door on her side that was still open.

An ambulance arrived. It was also not using its siren. They weren’t even using their flashing lights. There appeared to be no hurry by anyone to remove the bodies.

Banter felt confident that everyone in the limo was dead. Quiet ambulances usually meant there were no survivors.

Banter pulled out her phone, which was another ploy to remain invisible. No one would pay attention to a person absorbed in their phone.

She pulled up a special email app. Her account only allowed her to send email and not receive. She sent an email claiming that the hit was complete.

A shiver ran up her back. The day was cooling, and she was getting chilled from just sitting there.

Movement caused her to look up. Three suits and one police officer had grouped by one of the unmarked cars.

Banter figured this was the policeman who had first arrived, and the meeting was about him giving the details of his discovery.

After a fifteen-minute meeting, two of the suits and the policeman walked off toward the limo. The third suit scanned the area and spied her, which surprised her since none of the other officers seemed aware of her.

Banter enjoyed watching the man approach her. He was a good-looking guy that she guessed was in his thirties.

Even through his suit, she could tell he had a toned body. He had black hair, brown eyes, and a handsome face. It wouldn’t surprise her to find out he was Italian or some other import.

Banter smiled and spoke to him first.

“You married?” she said, putting a little huskiness in her voice.

She could tell she had caught him off guard.

“Good afternoon,” he said, finessing through a slight breakdown of his composure.

Banter decided he had a nice voice too.

“Did you by chance see what happened?” he said.

“Just sat down. Watching the show.”

She nodded toward the limo.

“What’s your name?”

He had a way of giving her his full attention while maintaining vigilance around himself. Banter was a little impressed.

“Depends. You married or not?”

She couldn’t see his left hand to tell if he had on a ring.

“Sorry. Married,” he said. “So now what’s your name?”

“People call me Banter. My mom calls me a pain in the ass. My dad calls me Annie. What’s your name?”

“Detective Van Baine. Anyone else around when you came?”

He was working to take back control of the conversation despite her efforts to derail him.

“Nope,” she said. “How many dead?”

“Don’t know yet. Anybody you know?”

She knew he had to be aware of the body count, but typical policeman behavior wasn’t giving out any information.

“I can’t see from here,” she said. “You have any pictures?”

He gave a quick smile and shook his head.

“Not yet. But you think you might know?”

She shrugged.

“I’m not exactly a jet setter in the limo crowd. Chances are pretty slim that I’m tight with whoever is in there.”

“You come here a lot?”

“Not regularly, no. As I said, I just sat down to watch the show.”

“Live around here?”

“Nope, just came up the walking path,” she said with a shrug toward the path.

She could tell his eyes noted the path.

“Here’s my card. If you do remember seeing or hearing anything, let me know,” he said.

“Sure thing. So, you have a good marriage?” she said, taking the card.

He smiled as if he found the comment amusing and walked away.

She laughed silently to herself while she carefully watched him make his made way back to the crime scene. She typed on her phone, keying in the license plate number of the unmarked car he used.

“You are one good-looking guy,” she muttered while she slid his card into her back pocket.

More curious bystanders gathered to gawk, but the police already had the area they needed taped off. She knew the police needed to hurry to get things wrapped up before rush hour when there would really be a bunch of gawkers.

“About time,” she said to herself.

Someone had decided to bag the bodies.

They took her target out on the side she was on, but she noted the door on the other side was also open and they were taking out another body that way. It looked like her first two shots took out her target and a man sitting next to him.

Then they opened the other door on her side and took out one more body. She must have hit that man with either her third or fourth shots.

The last two bodies were the driver and the man riding shotgun. Five total bodies.

“What happened?” a man said while he approached her from the walking path.

Banter turned to find a man dressed for jogging. She shrugged. The man walked away to ask someone else.

The EMTs loaded the bodies into the ambulance and the doors shut. One of the unmarked cars pulled out and left. Then one of the marked police cars left.

Those who remained were working quickly to clear the crime scene. A technician picked up all the orange markers, and, she suspected, the shells as well. A tow truck appeared and all the doors to the limo were closed.

A muffled alert dinged on her phone.


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Banter looked at her phone. She recognized the alert. It was a notification that they had transferred the money for this hit into her account.

“Damn that was fast. Someone’s monitoring the police scanners.”

The request for this hit had an “ASAP” rating, but it had taken her almost two weeks. Usually, she could complete a hit in a few days.

However, with the man practically living in a bulletproof limo with a bodyguard riding shotgun and his house a regular fortress in a gated community, he had been a hard man to get close to unless you were a hooker.

There was no way she was posing as a hooker. She had a feeling he prearranged his hookups anyway, and there was some secret password.

The good-looking detective got into his car and left. Banter rose. She had the information she needed and didn’t need to hang around anymore.

More people were coming and hanging out by the walking path to see what was going on. She felt annoyed by their chatter. Banter cartwheeling over a bench and left the park.

While she jogged toward home, she thought about the job. It had been a tough one; she’d known it would be from the beginning.

In fact, she had passed on it the first time she saw it. However, they posted it a second time. She figured the original person who took it had failed or given up.

The job sat for over a week with no takers. That was unusual and presented a challenge that she found hard to pass up, so she decided to have a go at it.

The job was originally a two hundred and fifty thousand dollar hit, but she noted they bumped it up to three hundred thousand. She figured someone was trying to tempt the better guns-for-hire.

She stopped at a corner to wait for the light. Rush hour traffic was now heavy. It was a long light that allowed her to take the time to access her special bank account app.

She initiated a transfer of the money to a small savings and loan. That was where she liked to send her hit money because they didn’t always follow the banking rules.

Once the money was in that account, she could legally move it wherever she wanted. She planned on taking some out in cash to put into a safe deposit box. That was her rainy-day fund.

The rest would sit, but she had a scheduled transfer set for every two weeks, as if she was getting paid from a job, going into her checking account.

Her checking account was at a real bank that annoyingly followed the rules, making it difficult to move large chunks of money.

“I need to give myself a raise someday,” she said with a chuckle to herself.

The light finally changed in her favor. She jogged across the street and kept jogging until she was a couple of blocks farther. This was where she slowed to a walk.

She was now entering what she called her home court: a two-block radius around her apartment.

This was where she began her approach protocol, keeping a keen eye on who was watching or possibly following her. She wouldn’t put it past the police to send an undercover after her since they saw her at the crime scene.

So her approach protocol protected her from this, even though she knew it was rare. This was key to keeping her place of residence unknown and herself safe.

Banter never kept to the same approach pattern. Today, she went through an apartment building that had two front entrances.

She entered the building through one door, taking off her hoodie, revealing a blue sweatshirt.

While she stuffed her hoodie beneath the sweatshirt, she exited out the door at the opposite end of the building that also functioned as a front entrance.

This was her way of changing her persona. She crossed the street and ducked down an alley, heading toward her apartment building. As always, she was watchful for people in cars or people lingering around.

Today, as usual, no one was paying her any attention.

“Home, sweet home,” she muttered under her breath when she entered a side door.

Only on rare occasions did she use the front entrance. There were two side doors and one back door that were preferred since they were less exposed to the public view.

If anyone was lurking at these doors, she would continue on by. On one occasion, she came down from the roof, having jumped over from another building, testing to see if it was even possible.

She added it to her many ways of entering the building but didn’t think she would do roof jumping that often.

Banter enjoyed the quiet of her building while she trotted up the stairs to her second-floor apartment.

“Finally. That was a pain in the rear hit,” she said to no one after she shut the door.

Her words almost echoed in her apartment. She hung up the hoodie on a hook by the door, then pulled off the blue sweatshirt to hang that up beside the hoodie.

She normally didn’t carry any keys since she had changed out her apartment door handle with a keypad unit.

A couple of small hooks by her door contained keys. One was for her storage locker in the basement that she never used. The other was for her car, which she only used for personal trips, not hits.

If she needed a car for a hit, then she would borrow one.

“Although, I think the police might consider that stealing.”

She usually managed to return the cars before anyone realized they had gone missing.

She also removed her wrist wrap that held her tools for picking locks.

The wrap was custom made with leather stitching, making it look like a wide bracelet that the younger punks were wearing these days.

She unstrapped her gun holster, putting it on her kitchen table.

“I’m finally done with you,” she said to the gun, sliding it out of the holster.

It was rare that she used the same gun on more than one job.

“I’ll put you in the box to await cleaning.”

She removed the magazine and cocked the gun to remove the bullet in the chamber. Then, she dropped the gun into the box, which was in a kitchen cabinet.

In the box was a towel. She unwrapped it to reveal another gun.

“Well, hello there. You are my new gun for a while.”

She slid in the magazine, then slid the gun into the holster.

Only then did she remove her gloves, putting them on the table by her front door. Relieved of all her equipment, she was eager for a hot shower to warm herself up.

While she dried her hair, she turned on the TV to see if the limo shooting made the news, but the six-o’clock news had nothing.

She fixed herself some hot tea and settled on her couch with her laptop and phone. She left the TV on with the volume low so she could catch the late news.

The time was six-thirty. While she sipped her tea, she wondered about the good-looking detective. She pulled out his card. Corey was his name.

“You are definitely a looker. Damn.”

She had a special app on her phone that allowed her to be anonymous and used it to dial his phone number.

“Hello. Detective Van Baine. How can I help you?”

She smiled, enjoying the sound of his voice.

“I think I can help you, Corey,” she said with a slight seductiveness to her voice.

“And whom am I speaking with?”

“Banter. Remember? In the park.”

“Yes, Banter. I remember you. How are you doing this evening?”

“You home with your wife, yet?”

Banter took a sip of her tea. Corey took a moment longer than he should to answer.

“Is this a personal call? Or do you have helpful information about the limo incident?” he said.

She noted how he kept his voice even, not giving anything away.

“Both,” Banter said. “I would guess that you’re still in the office. You usually work this late?”

“And what do you have about the limo incident?” he said.

Banter read between the lines. By not answering her questions, she knew he was still in the office and that he did work this late.

“All I have is stuff you already know. But perhaps, I shouldn’t know,” she said, being a tease.

She heard the faint tick of static that her app made when someone on the other end was trying to trace the call. She smiled, enjoying the game.

“And what do you know that you shouldn’t?” he said.

“Seven shots. Two head shots,” she said. “And no one heard a thing. That means a silencer.”

“Are you good at your job?” he said, somewhat surprising her.

“Very good,” she said.

“Perhaps we should meet and talk about this.”

Banter laughed.

“Yes, we should.”

“When were you thinking?”

“You still married?”

He chuckled.

“Yes, I’m still married.”

“Well, then, we’re not meeting too soon.”

Banter deciding that was enough for the night. She had already gone too far that he had met her and now knew what she was. But again, where was the evidence?

“I’d like to discuss what you know,” he said.

“I’m sure you do. Very nice talking with you. We’ll talk again. Good night,” Banter said, ending the call.

She already knew that his tracing equipment would place her somewhere in India and that his call recording software couldn’t pick up her voice.

Banter checked her tracing app to find that it placed him at police headquarters.

“That’s a nice building with lots of options. Maybe I should give you a visit, sweetheart.”

Banter stayed on her couch, amusing herself on her laptop until the ten-o’clock news. There was still no mention of the limo incident.

She was a little surprised, thinking for sure they would put some spin on the shooting and make everyone hysterical about using parks because of the increased risk of getting shot.

Banter rose from her couch, deciding it was time for bed.

“Hold it, girl.”

She sat back down.

“When was that gun show? I can go to it now that I’m done with that hit.”

She opened up her email.

“Of course, you had to be tomorrow,” she said with a sigh. “Here I thought I would get a day to sleep in, but no. I have to go to this.

“I really want a new silencer. It would be great to have a spare in my car. Now if I could find one a little quieter…all the better.”

She chuckled.

“Hey, Corey. You want to approve my silencer?”

They controlled silencers by requiring them to be registered.

“I hear you can’t get a silencer legally when you don’t own a gun.”

She chuckled again at the thought of Corey approving the paperwork. That wasn’t going to happen because she didn’t want any record out there that she had a silencer.

“If you have a silencer, you have a gun, right? And what detective in his right mind would sign the paperwork allowing a hired gun to get a silencer?”

She mused over the idea, then frowned.

“If only the pawnshops carried them, then I wouldn’t have an issue. But no. It’s against the law.”

Silencers at pawnshops were nonexistent. Laws required any pawnshop to surrender a silencer if they got one.

And if they didn’t surrender it, then the pawnshop employees snatched them up for their own use or to sell to private collectors. However, most pawnshops refused them because of the legal mess that ensued.

Banter remembered getting her first silencer.

“Boy, that was a pain. I went to a lot of gun shows.”

Her problem wasn’t finding the shady dealer who had shady merchandise or even the shady dealer with the good stuff. It was avoiding the undercover cops posing as shady dealers.

Because of that risk, to go to a gun show, she couldn’t carry a gun. Especially a borrowed gun.

“That’s a scary thought. Being unarmed around a bunch of shady characters. I’ll have to bring my friend, the knife. But which one?”

She mentally stepped through her collection of knives, which made her think of what she was going to wear.

“I have to wear the right thing to hide a knife.”

She headed into her bedroom to browse through her closet. A little sex appeal always helped.

She pulled out an outfit that she figured would work, knowing she would have to resort to a push-up bra to get the cleavage she needed. There were tight jeans and a low-cut top that she would top off with a leather jacket.

The jacket had a built-in hoodie and lots of pockets to hide things. It would give her a little of a high-class look.

She took the jacket into the kitchen and set it on her table. There was a built-in hutch in her kitchen with a drawer where she kept her cash reserves.

She sorted through and pulled out five thousand in hundred-dollar bills. Shady deals only took cash.

The silencer wouldn’t cost her that much, but if she saw anything else she liked, she wanted to make sure she had enough money on hand. She rolled up the cash into a wad and put it into one of the pockets in the jacket.

Banter paused at the sight of her holster on the kitchen table.

“I need a new holster. One I can use with the silencer on the gun. It would be nice to not have to keep it separate or worry about it falling out of a pocket.”

She had to always be thinking and be proactive when she went hunting or had a target in sight. She always had to have the gun and silencer in hand and ready for the shot.

There was no quick draw to get a target. She couldn’t tell them to hold on a moment while she screwed on the silencer.

She chuckled at that thought while she removed the strap from her holster. The strap she would take along and use to try out new holsters. Her back strap was custom made to fit her body, but it could hold any gun holster.

“All set,” she murmured, feeling a little excitement.

There was a thrill in going to a gun show and dealing with the shady. It was even more of a thrill if she could find what she was looking for.

“Hopefully, there aren’t any undercover cops at the show. The shady dealers are good at spotting them and making their inventory disappear.”

That worry was in the back of her mind, but it didn’t keep her from falling asleep. However, it seemed only minutes had passed before her alarm went off.

Banter groaned.

“Way too early,” she muttered, but she knew she needed to arrive at the show as early as she could. She dressed quickly until she put on the bra.

“Damn. Come on. I got more than that.”

She checked herself in the mirror while she fiddled with the push-up bra. Nothing she did resulted in any more cleavage than what she had.

“I’ve been running too much this year. My pants are even loose.”

With a sigh, she left the mirror and put her shirt on. Then, she put her back strap on under her shirt since that was the easiest way to carry it. When she put her jacket on, she patted the pocket with the money.

“I need lunch money,” she said, pulling out some ones and fives from her cash drawer.

She slipped the money into her front pocket.

“Now we need a little protection.”

She moved over to the table by her front door to pull on her gloves. From within a drawer on the table, she took out a small pocket whip and razor string.

“No one’s going to die from you guys, but I certainly like the shock and awe value of the razor string. You draw a little blood. Okay, a lot of blood.”

She hid them away in pockets, then strapped on her wrist wrap.


She headed back into her kitchen to pull open a kitchen drawer. There was a nice collection of knives.

She picked one out and slid it down the front of her shirt. She had already modified the bra to hold a knife. It fit perfectly and was hardly noticeable.

After one more pat of her pockets to take inventory, she grabbed her car keys and left her apartment.

Her building was still sleeping when Banter exited through the back door. She used no disguise but crossed through a building the same way out of habit.

She normally parked her car outside of her home court and approached it from a different direction than if she had come directly from her apartment.

“Hey, car. We’re going on a road trip.”

She unlocked the door with her key fob. Her car was the only car she started with a key. It was a nice black two-door sports car. It wasn’t extravagant. It was small, fast, and easy to park.

She used a couple of anti-theft devices in the car, mainly because of the equipment stashed in the trunk.

She unlocked and removed the anti-theft bar from the steering wheel, which was another reason she needed her keys.

While she placed it on the passenger side floor, she thought about the fact that her car didn’t fall onto the lists of those looking to steal cars for the parts market.

Her car was also not big enough or flashy enough to interest the teenagers who were looking for a joy ride.

“I like this car,” she said while she slid into the driver’s seat. “I’m looking forward to a little time outside the city. This should be relaxing. I haven’t been out of the city since February.”

She started the car.


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The Chamberlain Files

Detective Jack Chamberlain is Portland’s best cop and when he takes a case, you can be damn sure he’ll see it through to the end. When a crazed sniper starts killing women seemingly at random, he’s thrown into a deadly game of cat and mouse. He’ll need to act fast, before the bodies start piling up and the killer’s sights are set on him.

Age Rating: 18+

Mafia Entanglement

Shay is a beautiful young woman who works in a high-end night club with her best friend. Zane is a ruthless mafia leader with a terrifying reputation who always gets what he wants. When Zane sets his sights on Shay, she tries to avoid him at all costs. Will she see past his dangerous reputation and consider giving him a chance—even if it means her life will never be the same?

Age Rating: 18+ (Drug Use/Overdose, Extreme Violence/Gore, Homophobia, Kidnapping, Miscarriage, Rape, Sexual Assault/Abuse, Stalker, Torture, Violence Against Women, Violent Death)

The Vendeleer Brothers

Ian and Roderick Vendeleer don’t believe in ghosts, but this case in Pinnacle Gulch has them questioning everything. With people disappearing and ghost girls wreaking havoc, the brother enlist the help of a grumpy detective, a tech guy from ghost shows, and spiritual expert. Will they be able to solve the mystery and save the residents of Pinnacle Gulch before it is too late?

Age Rating: 16+ (Content Warning: Child Abuse, Violent Death, Racism)

The One She Always Wanted

Tori Martin was always in love with Jason McBride. The one time they were alone, things heated up, but Tori’s mother discovered them, tore them apart, and moved Tori out of town. Tori returns 9 years later, trying to escape a sadistic rapist who won’t let her go. Will Jason be able to get in the way?

Age Rating: 18+ (Content Warning: Sexual Abuse, Rape, & Violence)

Emily’s List

When seven people from the same town go missing, investigators come up empty. Around the same time, Emily Davis, a seemingly innocent girl-next-door type begins having nightmares that include eeries details about the murders she would only have if … she had been there.

Age Rating: 18+


Grace Miller is a normal senior in high school—she’s preparing for college and has a crush on her best friend. But when the diary of a missing classmate appears on her front porch, everything changes. As friendships unravel and secrets are revealed, Grace may now be in danger. Who can she trust? And what really happened to the missing classmate? And, most importantly…can Grace figure it out before she ends up facing the same fate?

Age Rating: 18+ (Content Warning: Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, Extreme Violence/Gore, Kidnapping, Violent Death)

The Zombie Prophecies

A bizarre disease is turning the world into zombies…but Donovan isn’t turning. He’s developing strange psychic abilities. And he’s not the only one.

Age Rating: 18+

The Coastal Killings

An elusive killer on the loose in San Diego is targeting young single women who live alone. When the crime scenes are found to be too clean, police begin to wonder if maybe one of their own could be responsible for these coastal killings.

Age Rating: 18+