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To whet your appetite, dear readers, I present...a sample from The Wrath of Dimple. It has everything -- hospitals, angst, Ghostbusters. Enjoy!
THE WRATH OF DIMPLE
The tall doctor whipped off her no-nonsense glasses with one hand and held a chart with the other. "Ms Lytton, I'm Doctor Mehta," she began in the grave voice one delivers spider-strewn news with, "I'm afraid your husband-Mr Ballitch?-is-"
"Dead!" yelled Ellen.
"Oh my God!" My knees buckled, and I collapsed into the chasm of horror that had suddenly replaced the floor.
"What? No!" The doc knelt down to my pathetic level.
I whipped my head up, hope flaring in my fluttering heart.
"Don't worry-he's just in a coma!" she finished with a smile.
They helped me into a plastic waiting room chair, and the doctor said more words to me about Sam. My brand new husband. We were supposed to leave for a honeymoon tomorrow, but now he'd experienced a 'blow to the head', had been 'found in the street', and lay in a coma-Just a coma! No big whoop!-induced by the doctors to reduce swelling in his brain.
Damn it, I loved his brain. It was one of my favorite parts of him.
"His name is pronounced 'Ball-itch'," lied Ellen. The witness protection people had a wonderful sense of humor.
"So, it's not a natural coma," Ellen said to me in the faux-happy tone one might use with a deranged cat. She petted my hair. "It's better, because the professionals are controlling it. Right, Doc?"
Dr Mehta made noncommittal utterings designed to not get herself sued when things took a catastrophic turn for the worse. I'm pretty sure that doctors nowadays refuse to verify anything whatsoever, including their own existence on this plane.
What she'd said finally began to seep into my synapses. No. No, no, no. Sam and I had a good life together now. No more criminals chasing. No more doubts nagging. And we had a cat. A beautiful black cat named Captain Taco. "I don't want my Taco to be raised in a single-parent household." The sobs came now like a tsunami.
Dr Mehta pursed her lips and stepped away from me and my wailing. "Do you need a sedative, Ms Lytton?" Her voice became softer, simpler. "Are you confused?"
My bestie waved her away and held me in her arms while I cried. The world had become a black hole, and its vast emptiness loomed on every side. I clung to Ellen, and she let me get mascara all over her cashmere sweater-that's love. She cuddled me close for what seemed like hours, until my body was an empty, aching husk. It was like Jesus had punched me in the soul with a fist made of tanker trucks. I told Ellen that, and she said it sounded like a country song.
After the crying had trickled, and the dry heaves had stopped, Ellen rubbed my back. "The doc says you can see him in a little while. The neurologist is with him now."
I pushed against Ellen's shoulder and swiped at some of the snot on my face. "Why did you say it that way? 'Dead!' Like you just won the Sam-hating sweepstakes?"
Ellen had always disliked my ex-art thief, and not just because she didn't enjoy penises in general.
"I mean, sure, I dreamed of this day," Ellen began with a swish of her long, brown hair.
I fell over onto the bank of waiting room chairs.
"Don't put your face on those! Or your hands. Ugh, Lytton, come here."
She held me again and said, "I'm kidding, of course. I don't want Sam to-"
I stiffened, and she didn't repeat the horrible 'd' word.
"-be in a coma or anything else. I want him to continue screwing up your otherwise ideal life for decades to come."
My life had been ideal for the last two years. My film career was amazeballs. I'd become a superhero with my own spoofy franchise-The Ovarian Hellion: The Sword of Cockmore. It had debuted this past summer with record-setting box office and fabulous reviews. Sam-now on the straight and narrow-and I had lived a blissful life free of criminals, men with guns and stolen art. I brought home the bacon, and he'd rediscovered the painting he'd given up long ago. And he was good. Damn good! Kind of in the Kandinsky or Pollack school-all strong lines, splatters, wild colors and passion. He would come to me from an afternoon of painting, covered in smudged rainbows and sauntering all sexy, frustrated artist-like…
Fresh tears sprang to my burning eye sockets. "He was trying to get a gallery show for the spring." I slid back down, my muscles physically incapable of doing anything but twitch and regret.
Ellen let me lie there this time-she patted my hip and wondered aloud where the bar was.
After a couple of hours, during which I stared into space, and Ellen tried not to act bored by cracking dumb jokes at me, they finally let me see him. Hope and dread combined in my gut to form a confusing new emotion that felt like kittens bathed in sewer sludge.
I entered the white room full of whirring machines and nearly buckled again. Sam's head was bandaged like Boris Karloff, his eyes framed by purple circles. The neurologist said he'd taken a blow from a blunt object to the medial cranial area, then landed in the street on his face not ten blocks from our apartment on the Upper East Side. I asked Dr Brains what the prognosis was, and he danced a soft-shoe, complete with spins- "Well, it's difficult to say-we hope that there may be some, perhaps, improvement of a sort-but, of course, dying and/or death might occur. We'll try to bring him out of the coma tomorrow-the apocalypse could happen is all I'm saying-no guarantees!"
I leaned over Sam, his beautiful hazel gaze shut away, giant tube things snaking out of his arm, his hair-what they hadn't shaved-as pointy as my insides.
"I'm the only one who's supposed to hit you, baby," I said. I had a long history of accidentally assaulting Sam. Most of the time, he deserved it.
Dr Brains did not find the humor in my joke. He shot me a stare of alarm and took that moment to tell me the cops wanted to talk to me.
Cops. Hospitals. How many times had I performed this scene? I needed to start burning sage to chase away evil spirits. Wait, I lived in New York now-I needed some damn Ghostbusters to get rid of whatever demonic wraith prevented us from being great. I thought I'd left my Lifetime movie days behind me. I opened blockbusters now! But being a movie star didn't stop the bad shit, it just helped the bad shit occur in a cushy, private room.
An Italian-looking older man shuffled in wearing a brown suit that I'm pretty sure was prized off Lenny Briscoe.
Right behind him followed, "Nicolette!" I cried.
Ellen ran to the room's doorway but stopped in her tracks at a pointed eye-flick from her fiancée.
"Ellen, Samantha," Detective Nicolette Fitzgerald said smoothly. "I'm sorry this has happened," she said directly to me.
This, naturally, caused my tears to bubble up. Her brown gaze shone with sympathy, and I couldn't believe that I'd be receiving the help of my-practically once removed or something-sister-in-law, the cop. She said, "This is Detective Pirelli, my partner. Joe, this is Ellen, my fiancée, and her friend, Samantha Lytton."
"That cock and swords movie was hilarious," Joe told me. "Made me want to run around in pajamas all day."
The Ovarian Hellion wears a sensible outfit of pajamas and sneakers to fight injustice in, because she was written by a woman. I wished I had that outfit right now-it's the uniform of everyone in a depression medicine commercial. "Thanks," I said. "What the hell happened to him, Nicolette?"
Nicolette sighed. "Well, a passer-by found him around midnight, just lying in the street, bleeding from the head. The assailant left Sam's wallet in his pants and didn't appear to take anything. I have a feeling-"
She laid on feeling because she knew that Sam used to be an art thief. However, she couldn't tell her partner that because Sam was in witness protection.
"I mean, I think this was personal." She paused, almost didn't shake her head, and asked, "Does Sam have any enemies?"
I laughed. She raised her eyebrows. I raised mine higher. A recounting of Sam's enemies would take all day and require a chart.
What was I allowed to tell her in front of old Joe here? Before she'd arrived, I'd called Sam's handler with the US Feds, but nobody had responded to tell me what the hell to say. "None that I know of currently," was what I told Nicolette now. That was as safe an answer as any. I told them he'd gone out to an art opening last night, alone, as I'd had a date with Ellen for her final wedding dress fitting. We'd had a private appointment with one of Manhattan's more snooty dress shops. My ass still had lip prints on it. When I'd gotten home, Sam hadn't been back from the event yet. I'd begun worrying around one a.m. when he wouldn't respond to texts. The cops had called at two.
Joe asked, "Do you have any idea why he'd have been wearing a ski mask?"
"What?" I tried to keep the suspicious shriek out of my voice. I failed.
His eyes narrowed. "He was found in a full ski mask. Is that normal for him to wear in the cold?"
"Yes." I smiled and nodded. Then I did it again, because that's normal, right? A fucking ski mask? "Yes, yes. His face is…delicate."
Nicolette seemed unconvinced of my husband's chap-prone skin.
The detectives wrote stuff down-not that I had much to tell them. If Sam had gotten into new trouble, I possessed no knowledge of what it might be. He couldn't have, though. He'd promised to leave his life of crime behind him. For me.
But why the hell had he been wearing a ski mask? There was one possibility…
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