Bonus content!

It’s crazy. Our enrollment at the college is down somewhat, but I’m busier than ever. How does that happen?? 😀

Stacked to Death is on its way; the publishing date is October 15. If you haven’t pre-ordered it, you can do that here.

And, Stacked to Death will come with a bonus! A short story that takes place right after Stacked to Death, on Christmas Eve. Sort of a “Christmas coda” for Pete and Jamie. It’s called High Desert.

Here’s a snippet:

“What are you doing in there? We’re not meeting the president.”

Pete wasn’t normally a bathroom hog, but this morning he’d been in front of the mirror for a good fifteen minutes. He mumbled something back, but I couldn’t catch what he said through the closed door. “What?”

He opened the door and glared at me. “I said no, we’re meeting someone way more important.”

We were driving up to Pete’s dad’s place in Lancaster for Christmas Eve. Pete’s brother Steve would be there.

And so would Pete’s nieces, whom he’d be meeting for the first time.

Pete’s sister, Christine, had contacted him back in the fall for the first time in twenty-four years. Their mother had been in hospice and had requested that the children gather at her bedside. Pete hadn’t gone. The last time he’d seen his mother, when he was fourteen, he’d told her that he was being sexually abused by their parish priest and she’d called him a liar. Pete’s dad had taken his sons to live with him, and neither Pete nor Steve had ever seen their mother again.

Christine had sided with her mother at the time, but a few years later she’d met her husband, a third-generation Mexican-American, and the mother had turned her away as well. Christine had two teenage daughters. Stephanie was fifteen, a violinist in her school orchestra and a math whiz. Samantha was fourteen, a soccer star and aspiring writer. And Samantha was gay.

Steve and Christine had gone to see their mother, with predictably poor results. But now she was dead, and there seemed to be some potential for healing in the family. I was hoping that the spirit of Christmas would help mend some of the damage done.

Christine’s husband had come with her and the girls. I was looking forward to meeting him as well. But Pete was nervous for some reason.

“What are you nervous about?” I asked.

“What if they don’t like me? I don’t know anything about teenage girls.”

“You don’t have to know anything about teenage girls. Try thinking of them as people. You get along fine with Colin and Gabe.” My nephews were eleven and nine.

“Yeah, but they’re younger.”

“I know teenagers are tough, but they are still people. And your nieces sound delightful.” Steve had been spending some time with Christine and her family. He and the nieces were getting along well. Pete’s dad had met his granddaughters once, when he visited Steve back in the fall. Pete was the only one left.

“Yeah.” Pete sighed. “I’m sure it’ll be fine. I don’t know why I feel like this.”

“You told me once you can’t help how you feel. Be yourself. They’ll love you.”

“Yeah, okay.”

“Good. Now can I get in the bathroom?”

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