Tuesday, October 29, 2013

FRISKY BUSINESS - Cover Reveal!!!!

Here it is!

Yay!  Finally!

Here's the cover for 
(coming very soon!)

I wanted something similar in style to the previous books.  

I'm happy with the image, the font and the colouring, plus to me it matches what's inside.  YAY!

Here's the synopsis for 

Two months ago, Kitty Vixen, a porn star with a history of drug abuse, was found beaten to death near a Toronto construction site.  No one knows why she was killed, but since she was a worthless nobody, the cops aren’t making her case a priority.

However, Kitty’s roommate and former co-star Raven Greywolf wants answers, so she hires Private Investigator Sasha Jackson to find out just how dirty the adult film industry really is. 

As Sasha traipses through the back alleys in the world of adult entertainment, she realizes that a worthless nobody can be quite valuable after all, and that both dreams and ambition are priceless.  

FRISKY BUSINESS will be available on AMAZON on December 1st.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Chapter Fourteen: FRISKY BUSINESS

Tuesday 1:42 pm
Mick dropped me off at Raven’s. I was glad to finally have another chance to sit down with my client, given that I had hardly connected with her since Saturday when she came into my office to hire me.  As fast and convenient as modern communication methods are, texting, voicemail, web chats and so on are no substitute for good old fashioned face to face.   I had so many things I wanted to ask Raven about - money and drugs and Corey and dealers and XRatedCon among them.  But I wasn’t planning to tell her much.  At least not yet.  There was no reason for her to know about the phone call or the break-in, which is why I hadn’t mentioned them to Mick this morning either.  No one needed to know – whether by accident or design, whether in confidence or on the record – that I was feeling a wee bit scared.
“Can I offer you something?” Raven asked, clearing her sketchbooks out of the way.
“Maybe just a glass of water,” I said, seating myself on the worn beige sofa.  The living room had been tidied up since my visit yesterday, although the coffee table was covered with crumpled sketch pages, charcoal sticks and a rainbow of pastel pencils. 
She disappeared into the kitchen and came back with a couple of bottles of water, a big bag of Ruffles potato chips and a container of onion dip.  She plopped down on the other end of the sofa, ripped open the chip bag, and placed the snack on the cushion between us.
“You’ve been busy drawing,” I said, nodding towards the sketchbooks.
“Yeah.  I woke up thinking of a couple great designs and wanted to get them on paper while they were still in my mind.  I’ll show them to you when I’m done, if you want.”
“That’d be cool.”
“So what’s happening?” she asked.
I gave her a brief update while she munched, and then started in with my questions.  I noticed that since her hands were busy with the chips, she wasn’t chewing her fingernails today.
“You said before that Kitty wanted more money and better working conditions.  Exactly what did you mean, or I should say, what did she mean, about working conditions?”
“It’s not really concrete, I mean, yeah, she wanted us to have sick leave and stuff like that.  But she really just wanted us to be treated a little better, like with respect.  Like for Pete’s sake, after filming all day we’re feeling pretty gross.  There are showers in the change room, but there’s never any towels, or at least not usually, and not clean ones.  I mean, can’t they just give us some fucking clean towels?” 
“That doesn’t seem like too much to ask.”
“And we should have a drug plan.  Seriously.  We all get checked regularly, but still, people catch things.  Keep in mind, we don’t use condoms. No one will download a flick with rubber in it.”
            “You’ve got to be kidding.  There should be a law requiring that condoms be worn,” I said.
            “Actually, there is, but only in California, and that law is pretty recent.  No laws like that here.  It’s one of the reasons that filming pornos in Canada is so busy these days.”
            “That’s unbelievable.  It’s so dangerous...”
            “Anyhow, like I said, we get tested for STDs, but that doesn’t really mean anything.   I know lots of girls who’ve caught stuff.  I have, too. Luckily it’s all been curable.  You think we could have a drug plan since, like Kitty said, it’s an occupational hazard.”
            “You girls are taking your lives in your hands. No amount of money could make me take a risk like that.”
            “That’s kind of what Kitty’s point was, that the risk increases when there are multiple partners, and that’s why I usually just did girl on girl if I could.”  She nibbled on a few chips before continuing.  “Shooting certain types of movies, like gang-bang ones, are especially bad.  It really wears you out, literally.  I know a couple of girls who had to go for stitches afterwards.”
“You’re kidding...”
“No.  I’m not.  But that kind of really hard-core movie usually goes to the girls who are most serious into drugs.  They won’t say no if they need money for a fix.”
I took a moment to digest all of this. 
I had known at the outset that this was a shitty business, but I hadn’t known just how shitty. 
“The topic of drugs keeps coming up.  Who’d Kitty buy her pot from?”
“Just about anyone at Triple A can help you score.  Two or three of the male actors sell a bit, and so does Portia, plus Bongo usually has a stash on him and he’s there all so time, so a lot of us often bought dope from him.” 
Could he be selling enough pot to have bought a Ferrari?  That would take a lot of reefer... 
 “I see.  By the way, how did Kitty meet Corey?”
“He showed up at a party once.  One of the actors brought him.  It might have been Dixon...?  Actually, yeah, it was Dixon.  He met Corey when he bought a bike from him.”
Interesting that Corey and Dixon knew each other, since one had disappeared and the other refused to talk to me. 
Hmm... Curiouser and curiouser.
“I got the impression that Corey and Kitty didn’t really have much of a relationship.”
“I guess you could say that.  He’s cute, but a bit of an asshole.  Wasn’t what you’d call real attentive.” A blob of chip dip landed on the sofa cushion.  Raven grabbed one of the crumpled up sketch pages and dabbed it up.
“Why did they break up?  Who was the dumper and the dumpee?” I asked.
“He’s the one who called it off.  Said that dating a porn star who wouldn’t fuck him was an insult.  Kitty didn’t seem to care.  I think she was kinda glad, actually.” 
If he had initiated the break-up, then my spurned lover theory was out the window. 
“If that’s the case, then I wonder why he’s so anxious to avoid me?”
Raven shrugged her shoulders in reply.  I dug into the bag for another handful of chips.  
 “Actually, you mentioned Dixon a moment ago, and I’m curious about him.  Kitty made a lot of movies with him, she met her ex-boyfriend through him, and then she’s killed and he takes off to Florida.  Any thoughts?”
“Never really considered it.  It’s probably no big deal that he moved away.  Triple A, or even really any other companies in this type of business are kinda like revolving doors.  People come and go all the time.  It’s not like you can gain anything by sticking around.  Seniority isn’t an advantage.  Actually, it’s kinda the opposite: get old, get out, make way for the newcomer.”
“True.”  I munched another chip slathered with onion dip.  “I’m also really puzzled by XRatedCon.  Antonio told me that he didn’t ask Kitty to go because he thought she was a bit stressed out after the break up.  He didn’t strike me as a particularly considerate guy.  Besides, she’s obviously money in the bank for him, especially at an event like that.”
“Are you serious?  That’s what that fucker told you?  That he gave her a pass on the convention?  What a load of shit!  He had a fit when she told him she wouldn’t go; they had a huge fight about it.  As a matter of fact, he’d already booked hotel rooms for her and everybody else that was going, and he’d bought the plane tickets, which are a business write-off anyways.  That fucker’s full of shit. He bitched and moaned about Kitty would have to reimburse him for the trip.  She told him to go fuck himself.”
“That’s really interesting,” I said.  But like much of the other info I’d gleaned so far, I had no idea what it signified or where to go with it.  It didn’t seem like the cost of a hotel and a flight were valuable enough to warrant foul play.  “Who all went?”
“Let’s see, Frankie and Antonio, of course, plus Clint, and Misty, Devondra, and Crystal.”
“Why didn’t you go?  Didn’t he ask you?”
“Hah!  He did, but I didn’t want to.  I got out of it by telling him I can’t travel to the States because I have a criminal record.  For drugs, I said.  He dropped the subject as soon as I told him that.”
“Is it true?”
“Hell no.  If it were, it would screw up my plans for Parsons.”
My cell phone bleeped, and I saw Derek’s number on the display.  I hit the ‘silent mode’ button, and then reached for another handful of chips.  I couldn’t deal with Derek right now.  The case was occupying my mind, which was just as well, because otherwise I’d have to resort to the ostrich way of handling things, and I knew from experience that it wasn’t terribly effective. 
“I don’t want to pry into your business, but I’m a little curious about you.  You’re obviously smart and really focused on Parsons and your future.  What’s your story?  How’d you end up doing film work?  It seems like you could be doing so much more.”
“I will be.  Eventually.  As for my story, well, there’s not much to tell.  I was born on a Reserve up north to a single mother.  She was fifteen when she had me.  She had a lot of problems, I guess, and I was put into a foster home.  She died when I was three, so I don’t even really remember her.  I just hopped around from one foster home to another.”
“What about your father?”
“Birth certificate says ‘unknown’ and that’s probably just as well.  Anyhow, that’s the long and short version of my story, and how I got into this business.  Social services pretty much cuts you loose once you turn eighteen.”
“Isn’t there some kind of support from the First Nations?  Anything at all?”
“Not really, not if you don’t live on the Reserve, or at least if you don’t have ties to the Reserve.  Doesn’t matter, anyways, because even then, they would never cough up enough for Parsons.”
Listening to her story, I recognized once again how very lucky I am.  Even though my mother did a Houdini when I was still in diapers, Shane and I had been raised in a loving home.   I wouldn’t say that we were spoiled, but dad gave us pretty much every creature comfort.  More important than that, though, he’d given us a solid sense of values and unflagging support.  I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for him.  For many years, I gave dad cards and some embarrassing piece of spray painted macaroni artwork on both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. 
I remembered the card I’d made him when I was in the second grade.  Dad found it howlingly funny and had it framed.  To this day, it hangs in his office behind his desk, much to my embarrassment.  I’d made it made with light blue construction paper and various colours of crayons.
H – is for making me happy every day
A – is for being amazing and awesome and aardvarks
P – is for see below
P – is for the pepperoni pizza you order for dinner
Y – is for you because you’re the best dad in the world

F – is for fucking fantastic because that’s what you always say
A – is for another thing I’ll write down when I think of it
T – is for terrific
H – is for hamburgers and hot dogs on the barbecue
E – is for making me feel extra special every day
R – is for Romeo and Juliet, whoever they are
S – is for super sweet and special and for shit I can’t find my keys

D – is for being a delightful dorky dad
A – is for applesauce and aardvarks again
Y – is for yellow submarine which is a song you like

Home may feel a bit crowded sometimes nowadays, but in the grand scheme of things, maybe that’s not so bad.
“I know I’m prying, but I have to ask: How do you deal with it?  Everything you’ve told me about the industry is just so awful.”
“I used to just shut right down emotionally as soon as I walked into the studio, and do the same now when I’m with a client.  I completely detach myself from what I’m doing and try never to think about it when I’m not there.  It’s a means to an end.  When I finish my degree at Parsons, I’ll be able to say that it was all worthwhile.”
“Cheers to that,” I said, tilting my water bottle towards her.  I really hoped someday she’d make it big as a designer.  “Something else I’ve been wondering about.  Your roommate Athena.  She just started working there a few weeks before the murder, and moved in here afterwards.  I know you quit working at Triple A because of what happened to Kitty.  How come Athena’s still working there?  Did you suggest to her that she get out?”
“Yes, and no.  I mean, I casually mentioned to her that maybe she should bail too when me and Crystal and Trinity did, but she was still pretty new and still thinks she’s get rich and famous.  I don’t think the hint even registered with Athena, and besides, who am I to tell her what to do?  She has to figure it out on her own.”
“Hmm...”  In that, Raven was absolutely right.  “Do you think or did you think that any of the girls at Triple A were in danger?  Did any of them think they might be a target?”
“Not really.  I firmly believe Kitty’s death had to do with Triple A, but I could be wrong.  Maybe she really was mugged on her way home.  Who knows?  But if it was indeed Triple A, then I think she was targeted because of the money thing, and if it was a mugging or a random thing, then Triple A isn’t a dangerous place.”
  Actually, it is, I thought, but in ways different from what Raven was talking about.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Chapter Thirteen: FRISKY BUSINESS

Tuesday November 15, 5:39 am
I hardly slept a wink all night.  Thoughts of Derek and of my current case kept the sandman at bay, and when I did doze off, I dreamed that I was wearing handcuffs and a bridal gown and had just fallen off a cliff and was careening towards a valley floor covered with multi-coloured glass fragments.  No Freudian interpretation necessary for that nocturnal imagery.
Around quarter to six, even though the sun wasn’t up yet, I jumped in the shower.  I turned the water on as hot as I could stand it, and scrubbed myself from head to toe with freesia exfoliating body wash.  Then I turned the faucet to ice cold water and stuck my face right in the shower stream.  I was wide awake and smelling good within seconds.
            The street was dark and quiet as I did the short walk to Pape subway station.  I figured that if I wasn’t going to get any sleep anyway, I might as well go to my office and try to do something productive.  As I paced up and down the platform, I wondered when the Bloor-Danforth line would get some of the spiffy new trains like there were on the Yonge subway line.
The train showed up a moment later.  Even though it was just past the crack of dawn, the morning rush hour was already well underway, and of course I couldn’t get a seat.  I stood shoulder to shoulder with a crowd of other bleary-eyed people who hadn’t yet had enough coffee.  At Bloor, I transferred to the Yonge line, which was even more crowded, but at least I didn’t have to go very many stops. 
I spilled out of the train at King station and made a bee-line for the nearest Tim Hortons.  The line-up at the coffee shop was almost out the door.  I looked at the people around me and wondered who they were and what they did for a living.  None of them were smiling.  Once again, I thanked my lucky stars that I wasn’t a nine to five office drone.
Armed with a take out coffee and bagel, I walked along Front Street to my office.  There was something kind of nice about being out and about as the city was just starting to wake up.
As I walked down the hall to my office, a very weird feeling came over me, sort of halfway between a déjà vu and a premonition.  I stood outside my door for a moment, trying to determine what was wrong.  The doorknob and key plate looked normal, with neither scratches nor scuff marks.  But as soon as I touched the door, it pushed open. 
Son of a bitch. 
My coffee fell right out of my hand, splashing hot java all over the floor and all over my shoes.  Some days you’re the pigeon, other days you’re the statue.
Double son of a bitch.
I knew I had I locked the door when I left.  Most definitely.
Who the hell had been in my office?
I did a quick visual inventory of the room.  On the upside, nothing appeared to have been stolen.  Same crappy desk.  Same crappy folding chairs.  Same low tech phone, fax, computer and printer.  Same grey filing cabinets.  I took a closer look at my filing cabinets.  Someone had definitely been rifling through them, but whoever it was had taken care to try to do so without being detected.  But for the fact they’d left my office door unlocked, I just might never have noticed.  A couple of the cardboard hanging files were off their grooves, random papers were sticking up out of their colour coded folders.  Although I’m not an over-the-top, O.C.D. neat freak, I generally keep my work records ordered and organized.  
I glanced over at my desk and was pissed to notice that the drawers were slightly open, and miscellaneous supplies on my desk were just a little out of place.  I put my stapler back in the corner where it belonged.  I was furious that an unknown someone had invaded my personal space.  What were they trying to find? 
I immediately shut down that line of thinking – it would only make me crazy.  I pulled out my smart phone and searched for the number for a twenty-four hour locksmith.  As luck would have it, the dispatcher said they had a guy in the area who was just finishing up a job and would come to my office right away.
Within an hour, I had a brand new deadbolt.

Tuesday 10:51 am
Kumar had called in sick today, but the school had a substitute driving instructor available.  The replacement teacher was a humourless middle-aged Polish woman with pale blue eyes, a hairy chin, and limited patience.  I guess word had worked its way back to the other instructors because Marzena told me right at the beginning of the lesson that we were only going to do residential streets.  That was fine with me because after the way my day had been unfolding thus far, I was more than a little preoccupied.
            We poked our way around Leaside, going around thirty kilometers an hour, up and down the winding, tree lined streets.  The houses around here were lovely, with good sized lots and lots of character, unlike so many of the cookie-cutter generic boxes being built these days in suburbia.  As we rolled along, I noticed that several homes were already feeling the Christmas spirit.  It struck me as odd to see Christmas decorations out front, since it was only mid-November, and there wasn’t any snow yet.  It’s a bit of a disconnect for me to see Santas, snowmen, and sleighs when there’s no white stuff on the ground.
            “Watch your speed.  This is a school zone,” Marzena said. 
The two story red brick building housed Al Purdy Elementary public school, named after one of Canada’s greatest poets. 
I glanced at the speedometer and noticed that I was doing a shade over forty.  I slowed down to twenty-five clicks while trying to remember the opening lines of Purdy’s Listening to Myself.  Something about staggering, blocks of wood, snow, and—
 “Look out!”  Marzena slammed on the pedal of the duplicate brakes on her side of the car.  Some kids were playing ball hockey in the school yard during their morning recess.  The ball had rolled onto the street, and an eager kid darted out after it.  The car lurched to a stop about a foot and a half from a boy holding a hockey stick.  From the look on his face, I’d bet that he’d limit his future sports involvement to yelling at the television. 
“Man, did you see that?” he yelled.
“Wow, that was close,” said the kid who had just grabbed the ball.
“Everybody’s okay?” I asked as I lowered the driver’s side window. 
The boys all nodded and trotted off.  Even though they were okay, I most certainly wasn’t.  The argument with Derek last night, plus the threatening phone call, and the break-in at my office were seriously messing with my head, plus I’d only had about two hours of sleep.
“That was truly terrible,” Marzena scolded.   She got out of the car and walked around to the driver’s side.  “Why don’t we call it a day?  Where can I drop you off?” 
I gave her Mick’s address. 

Tuesday 11:54 am
My fingertips were frozen when I hopped off Mick’s Harley in the parking lot behind Thunder Motorcycles, a big showroom just a few blocks away from the Rogers Centre.  Only a die-hard biker like Mick was still riding in mid-November, and only an idiot like me would forget to bring gloves.  At least today was sunny and clear again, if chilly.
“So, what’s the story again?” Mick asked after taking off his helmet.
“You’re my boyfriend,” I said.  For about a nanosecond, I kind of wished it were true.
“Not unless I get more life insurance, and name anybody but you as the beneficiary.”
“Play along.”
“All right, so I’m your boyfriend.  Allow me to compliment you on your exceptional taste in men,” he laughed.
Mick is indeed pretty easy on the eyes: tall and taut, with scruffy chestnut hair and perfect features.  When we were dating, the chemistry between us was in the stratosphere, but it never lasted.  It took me a long time to start thinking with my head instead of my heart, and every now and then I get a little pang when I remember how good it was when it was good.  I vowed to myself that I’d never go down that road again.  But pretending is okay...
“Also, pretend I’m a porn star,” I said.
“From your lips to God’s ears.”
“Not sure God’s a fan of dirty movies.  Anyhow, say I made some movies with Kitty.  Is my hair okay?”
“Muss it up a bit and undo the top button of your blouse.”
I did as I was told, and then dabbed on a smack of Cerise Surprise lipstick.
“I’ll pretend that Kitty told me about her boyfriend working here, and say that I want to buy a motorcycle of my own.”
“I’m not sure I can keep a straight face for that.”  I was glad I hadn’t said anything to Mick about the fact I had started taking driving lessons.  “It’s easier to believe you’re a porn star.  You’re a disaster with four wheels, let alone two.  Couldn’t we go shopping for a go-kart or a toboggan instead?”
“Knock it off.  I just want to scope out the ex-boyfriend.  Let him think I was friendly with Kitty.  Follow my lead.”
“Only if you walk in front of me and wiggle.” 
I swung my purse at him.  Hard.

The showroom fairly oozed testosterone.  I couldn’t imagine a guy walking into this place and not getting a hard on.  I was immediately drawn to a very sexy, shiny black Triumph Speedmaster.
“Not even in your dreams,” Mick said.  “You’re not a Triumph kind of a gal.” 
“But it’s in my price range,” I whined.
The tag said $9999, which was about ten thousand dollars more than I was actually willing to pay for a bike of my own.
“Forget the price.  That thing weighs way over 500 pounds.  You need something that you can shove off yourself when you wipe out.”
“I’m not going to wipe out.  Geez.  Have a little faith.”
“What about a nice little Suzuki?”
“I want something cool, like a Harley or a  Norton. Or something red.”
“People will only go so far with their suspension of disbelief.”  Mick steered me towards the Ducati displays. 
“This would suit you,” he said, eyeballing a Ducati Panigale.  “It only weighs about 360 pounds.  It probably wouldn’t totally crush you.”
“Can I help you?” A sales clerk finally moseyed over to us.  His name tag said Corey Findley.  Seems that Kitty had traded up from Sam, at least as far as looks were concerned.  Corey  was probably twenty-two or twenty-three, about six-one, muscular without looking like a fire hydrant, and had steely blue eyes with lots of lashes. He looked like he should have been wearing designer briefs on a billboard in Times Square. 
“Time for my girl to get her own bike,” Mick said, patting me on the head.  I elbowed him in the ribs.  Hard.  Then I giggled.
Corey ignored the playful joshing.  “The Duc’s a good choice.  Easy to handle.”
“Yeah, but it’s over $30,000,” I whined.  I spoke in a pitch higher than my normal voice so that Corey wouldn’t recognize me from my two previous – albeit brief - calls.  “I can’t spend that much.  Not for my first bike.  Maybe something in the $20,000 range?”
“Let me show you the Multistrada 1200.  It’s priced around there,” Corey said.
“What’s it weigh?” Mick asked.
“Four hundred and change.”
Mick started to say something and I subtly swatted him.  Again.  “Piece of cake,” I giggled.  “Let me see it.”
After about half an hour of asking dumb questions, and hopping on and off bikes, we’d narrowed it down to three or four models.  Turns out, I can be really fussy about fake potential purchases. 
“They all have to be ordered in, you know, based on whatever options you add,” Corey said.
 “What kind of window are we talking about once she orders it?” Mick asked.
 “Usually takes about eight weeks,” Corey said.
I giggled again.  “By the way, I hate to ask, but do you give discounts for friends of friends?”
“We can work something out.  Who referred you?”
“I worked with Kitty.” 
Corey’s face changed and his body tightened right up.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
“My movie name’s Gigi Shazam, but my real name’s Reba McEntire.”  I giggled some more.
Mick rolled his eyes. 
“Yeah, well.  Kitty and I split up in the summer, a while before she was killed...”
“I didn’t realize that you guys had broke up.  I just remember Kitty kept talking about her boyfriend and motorcycles.” 
“I hate to rush you, but I’m due to go on lunch now.  I can’t throw the schedule out of whack, or the guy after me will be late for his break.”  He turned and walked quickly towards the back of the showroom.
 Mick and I strolled out of the shop. 
“So, Gigi, where to next?”
“That’s Ms. Shazam to you,” I said.
Mick chuckled.  “I’m jamming with Cole and the guys tonight.  Want to join us? The guys were just telling me how pumped they are to learn ‘The Night the Lights went out in Georgia.’  They want to add it to the next gig.”
My purse made a thwacking sound when it connected with his arm.
“By the way, Vicki Lawrence did the original,” I said.