We’re less than two weeks away, my friends! I can hardly believe it. I hope you’re as excited as I am!
I write a lot of series that have standalone books. What I mean is that, for example, Everything But is appreciated a whole lot more when you read Tangled Web first, but you won’t be completely lost if you read them out of order. My Nicki books are not like that. For instance, you might enjoy any one of the books between Got the Life and Lies, but you’re not going to fully appreciate what’s going on–and you might be lost when it comes to some of the plot points. That wasn’t my complete intention when I started the series (envisioning at the outset that Nicki would be much like a modern-day adult version of Nancy Drew), but it soon became clear that it was the direction I was heading in. Unlike a series like Nancy Drew, Nicki grows and learns and changes as she goes, and past events influence present situations. If you’ve read the books, then you know what I mean, and the deeper you get in the series, the more evident it becomes.
I bring that up because I don’t think the first chapter of the latest installment will entice you if you haven’t read the other books. I don’t think it will hurt anything for you to read it (no huge spoilers!), though, so don’t let me stop you if you’re curious anyway. 😉 But now, without further ado, I give you the first chapter of the next Nicki book!
Dead Bodies Everywhere (Nicki Sosebee #11)
THE WHOLE NIGHT was beginning to feel surreal. Nicki Sosebee had never really followed an election before, let alone cared about the results, until the one this year. It was a Tuesday night and, in spite of the fact that the offices of the Winchester Tribune were smaller nowadays, a good chunk of the staff had gathered there that evening to follow the election and see what voters had decided.
Even Nicki had voted that year.
Neal Black, the Tribune’s editor, had bought pizza and plenty of soda, and most of the reporters had chosen to gather together. Even though nowadays the paper was being printed in Colorado Springs and hauled up the mountain for early morning deliveries and —most of the time—there were earlier deadlines, several reporters had volunteered to write for a special election edition. Not only were several local offices up for election, but there were a few ballot issues voters had to weigh in on. Nicki tried to act interested in most of them, but the truth of the matter was that she was mostly worried about one particular voting item: Did Gina McCafferty, one of puppet master Cecil Montgomery’s toadies, win the city council seat?
The polls had closed at seven PM but the Tribune staff was waiting around to hear the results from both the local and state elections. A lot of stupid people in her town had been enamored of McCafferty, making Nicki fear for the future of Winchester. The woman was clearly a puppet and a dumb one at that; Nicki wondered why she herself was the only one who’d seemed to notice it.
She had her hair pulled up into a ponytail and, having been bored for a couple of hours, had written her article already. There were only so many shiny charts and graphs she could take, especially since she was less interested in the national ballot. Locally, there were two main candidates, one sure to win, even though there were also one Libertarian candidate and two running as Independents. Nicki wasn’t too stupid to know that, even in a town like Winchester, most votes were polarized in favor of Republicans or Democrats, and most people felt that if they voted with other parties, they might as well not have voted. Whatever the case, McCafferty and her opposition had been running neck and neck, and there was no way the other also rans had a chance. So, at Neal’s suggestion, Nicki had written a loose article for each scenario and was just waiting for the results to come in. She’d tweak the details once the winning candidate was announced, and she also planned to call the winner for a quote—she knew she might have to talk to a PR person (whom she’d quote in the article as a “spokesperson”), but she’d take whatever she could get. The quote would be the last part she’d plug in.
Neal walked past her in the break area where they’d all assembled. The TV was on, showing the national and state polls, and the entire staff was absorbed. Neal seemed a bit preoccupied but not much different from usual. He was running his hand through his brown hair as he passed, and Nicki asked, “Did you want to glance at these articles or—?”
“Nope. I trust you. I’ll read the completed version. Half the work, kiddo.” He winked at her and said, “I have dozens of those I’ll have to skim before arranging them before they go to print,” and he made his way out of the room before she asked a follow-up question. Just like the staff, Neal was doing extra work as well. While he often read or skimmed through all the articles in the paper (and sometimes changed details), he wasn’t the guy who formatted the paper…but working on this edition was purely voluntary, and the two people who did that work had opted out.
Damn it. She’d been hoping to have Neal’s brilliant advice guide her before she added the finishing touches, but maybe that was a sign that she’d grown as a writer. He was treating her like the rest of the gang. Allowing herself a moment of pride, she then got up and stretched, standing in the cluster of fellow reporters huddled around the TV. Cliff Hogan, an elderly guy who mostly reported local news, was standing close to the television, his arms crossed over his chest. He glanced over at Nicki and said, “Conservative, liberal? Doesn’t really seem to matter. They all have an agenda, but I don’t think we little guys even register on their radar anymore.”
Nicki blinked twice. That sounded almost like something Sean would say. Sean, her best friend and ex, a gorgeous guy who owned a motorcycle repair shop, was often at the top of her mind…and their relationship, if Nicki labelled it anything, was “complicated,” to say the least. In spite of all that had happened over the past few months, though, Nicki held out hope that maybe they would work out.
They had to.
But, in the meantime, Nicki was marveling at how an older guy like Cliff, someone she’d always pegged as conservative, sounded closer to an anarchist. No, not true, but definitely a dissatisfied citizen who wanted change. “Seems that way sometimes.” Honestly, Nicki just didn’t give a huge shit about politics, even when she knew she should. And she sure as hell didn’t trust any of the people holding an office. Sean had planted that idea in her head, but it had only grown, thanks to her dealings with politicians in her fair city.
Close to ten o’clock, Neal joined the crew again, holding a yellow legal pad in his hand. “Who wants to know the results?” Nicki would have thought she was at a baseball game and the home team had just gotten a home run with bases loaded. Everyone was eager to hear how the local elections turned out, and Nicki knew Neal would be glad to have them finishing up their articles, sharing them with him so he could do whatever it was he had to do, and they could lock up. She knew Neal didn’t update the site any more than he ran the actual presses (and there would be no online version of this edition), but she was pretty sure he was the main person manning their Facebook page and Twitter account in addition to his other duties.
She still couldn’t figure out why the Tribune needed a Twitter anyway, but one of her coworkers, a gal in sales, had said people often tweeted news story ideas to them. “Totally worth it,” she’d told Nicki.
Well, as long as she didn’t have to deal with it…
Shaking her head, she smiled at Neal and raised her hand. Like everyone else, she was excited to hear. He went down the list, pointing to the reporter whose story the election result hinged on and barking out a name or result before moving to the next reporter. Finally, it was Nicki’s turn and she was sure she saw a gleam in Neal’s eye, because he knew exactly how she’d felt about one of the candidates. And he confirmed her worst fear. “McCafferty.”
She nodded her head and took a deep breath before heading to the tiny table equipped with a phone and her laptop that she’d brought along. She could have used her cellphone, but the paper’s landline also revealed caller ID, just in case McCafferty and her crew were screening calls. Nicki didn’t hesitate, because she’d been fearing this moment all night. But it was done, and there was nothing she could do about it. Thousands of voters in Winchester had decided that Gina McCafferty was the best candidate for the open city council seat. And now she was going to have to prove it.
First, though, she was bound to be celebrating, and Nicki was going to interrupt all that. The phone rang twice before a male voice answered. “Team McCafferty. What can I do for you?”
“Hi. This is Nicki Sosebee with the Winchester Tribune, and I realize Ms. McCafferty is probably celebrating her win, but I wondered if there was anything you folks wanted to say? I’m writing an article for tomorrow’s edition and would love to add anything you’d like to share.”
“Actually, Ms. Sosebee, I think Gina would be thrilled to speak with you. Just a moment.”
Nicki almost laughed. Did this guy know who she was? As she waited—hearing the din on the other end of the line while Team McCafferty partied for her victory—Nicki thought maybe Gina knew, in spite of her own personal opinion, that Nicki would report fairly. An editorial was one thing, but an article was quite another. Nicki could almost hear Neal’s voice in her head: Just the facts, rookie.
Yeah. Just the facts.
Gina’s voice finally came on the line. “Hi, Nicki. You got the news that I won, I take it?”
“I did. Congratulations. I just wondered if there was anything you wanted to say for the article I’m writing for tomorrow’s edition?”
Nicki could hear the enthusiasm in McCafferty’s voice. She knew one thing—if attitude alone could make a good councilwoman, maybe Gina could make it. “I sure do. I’d like to say that tonight the American people made the right choice. They’re putting the right person in office. McCafferty Can Do!” Gina threw in her campaign slogan, and Nicki typed while the woman spoke, stifling a giggle. Most “American people” had no clue who McCafferty was. Hell, Nicki would guess that not even all of Winchester had paid enough attention to know. But those who did? Well, Nicki didn’t need to make Gina McCafferty look stupid. The woman did just fine on her own.
“Can I print that?”
“You bet you can.”
“Thanks, Gina. Congrats again.” Nicki was going to quote it. All of it. And it might take a few years, but maybe printing the woman’s words verbatim would be the death of her political career.
But it was likely going to seem like forever…
~ ~ ~
Want to read more? You can! Dead Bodies Everywhere releases on Friday, May 19, but you can pre-order it now. Oh, and if you do, you can also get a free bonus. Details here.
Would you prefer a little more info first? Details can be found here.
If you’re new to Nicki, maybe you didn’t know the first book is free everywhere online! Get your copy of Got the Life and catch up before the next one goes live!
In the meantime…let the countdown begin! May 19 will be here before you know it! 🙂