Crisscross by Ericka Scott

Autumn has finally arrived here in the high desert of California. Nights are downright nippy (as are mornings), holding a promise of the winter to come. While the afternoon sun warms the back porch and entices all the neighborhood kids outside to play. This is my favorite season of the year, with bonfires, football, and things that go bump in the night. Guess that's why most of the seductive suspense I write involves the paranormal (ghosts, psychics, werewolves, and all manner of beasties, including zombies).

My latest release is no different...except, it is. Set during the Christmas holidays, Crisscross is my first full-length sensual novel. The sexual tension is tighter and the sex scenes are softer than most of my other works. But for my fans who enjoy suspense, this book delivers it in spades.

Crisscross (noun): A web of deceit entangling a bestselling author and her small son, two ex-lovers, and a killer with a knack for cruciverbalism and a thirst for revenge.

A psychic, and skeptic, and serial killer… Lia Morgan has seen portents and signs since she was a teenager; however, few people believed her, including her own family. Although estranged, Lia travels across country to aid in the search for her missing sister, Sylvie. What seems to be a simple case gets complicated fast when Lia discovers her sister had a plethora of secrets, including a small son. Is her sister running from an impending paternity case like the police assume, or is her disappearance the work of a serial killer as her friends suspect?

An anthropologist and crossword puzzle fanatic, Jared Trimble is a packrat with a PhD. His world is grounded in the here and now, with no room for paranormal mumbo-jumbo. When Jared's asked to work as a consultant on a missing person's case involving a series of crossword puzzle clues, he's conflicted. One part's thrilled. The other part is suspicious; worried he fits the description of suspect more than investigator. All that is forgotten when he realizes his ex-lover, Lia Morgan, is the missing woman’s sister. While Lia follows signs and portents, Jared uses his wits and experience. When the two collide, nearly forgotten passions flare. As the final clue is revealed, the solution brings them both into the bull’s-eye of the serial killer's target.


What a nightmare!
Lia Morgan rubbed her temples. Of all the calls she had ever envisioned receiving about her sister, this one was not it.
When the police officer introduced himself and told her her sister, Sylvie, was missing, the words almost didn’t register. Missing? Impossible was the first word that came to Lia’s mind. But instead of opening her mouth to argue, she’d listened.
“Yesterday morning, Sylvie and her two-year old son, Deion, left their home at approximately eight-thirty. According to statements we’ve taken, they had planned to go to Pier 39, have lunch, and return home by five o’clock. When your sister’s friend, Margaret Fletcher, called at five, no one answered.” The officer stated.
He then went on to tell her Margaret had called at five-thirty and then at half an hour intervals until eight o’clock. When there was still no answer, and Sylvie couldn’t be reached on her house or cell phone, Margaret drove to the house. After she’d ascertained no one was home, she’d reported Sylvie missing.
As the story unfolded, Lia’s disbelief increased. Sylvie had a son? And what had happened between her and Margaret that they were no longer living together?
“When did you last see your sister?” The officer asked.
“Seven years ago.”
There was a pregnant silence on the line.
“My sister and I weren’t close.” Lia finally added. Now that was the understatement of the year.
“Then you wouldn’t know if she’d voluntarily left the area? Is it possible that she was coming to see you for a visit with the upcoming holidays?”
“No, I’m sorry. I wouldn’t know anything about her plans. But just up and leaving isn’t something my sister would do. You’re aware that she’s a bestselling author of a personal security book, right?”
“Yes, ma’am.” The officer intoned. “Right now, we’re considering all the scenarios.”
“Of course. Thank you for letting me know.”
“You’re welcome, ma’am. If you do hear from your sister…”
“I’ll be sure to let you know.”
Lia laid the telephone receiver back in its cradle. Her thoughts were so jumbled that the sudden loud ticking of the clock on the kitchen wall made her jump. Had time really stood still? Perhaps. Being as something else infeasible had occurred. Her staid and respectable, older and wiser sister had disappeared.
The thought still felt foreign. For ten years, Sylvie Morgan had worked as a security expert for some top secret government organization. According to the little Sylvie had been able to say, she had kept numerous presidents and foreign dignitaries safe by working behind the scenes. Whatever that meant. She knew the ins and outs, hell, she’d wrote the book on keeping your person and identity safe. Lia had bought it last year and taken it to heart. As a freelance photographer, she traveled a lot, and it was important not only to feel secure but to be safe. Even now, Sylvie’s book was a hot topic of discussion on talk shows and prominently displayed in every bookstore Lia frequented. So, what had happened to her sister?
Margaret? Lia conjured up a vision of her sister’s partner, or were they ex-lovers now? Margaret was as tall as her sister, and at times they resembled black and white bookends. Where Sylvie’s complexion was like ebony, Margaret’s lacked almost any pigmentation. They both wore their hair in short bobs, Sylvie’s black and Margaret’s pale blond. Both had curves and legs that seemed to go all the way up to their necks. Many men admired the women from afar; however, that was close as either of them would allow a man to approach.
There was simply no way she could see Margaret as having anything to do with Sylvie’s disappearance. In fact, according to the police, she was the one who had called in the missing person’s report.
Then, Lia focused on the other tidbit of information the officer had dropped. Sylvie had a son. Wow. That was a shocker. Sylvie had always professed never to want children and often joked that she didn’t have a maternal bone in her body. Well, something had changed.
Lia twirled on the kitchen stool where she’d perched to answer the phone. It was amazing that her small efficiency apartment could be so crowded and cluttered. The sink was overflowing with dirty dishes and, off to left, a pile of laundry mounded up the side of the washer. Luckily, she’d finished a photo shoot and submitted all the shots to her publisher, so she could take off at a moment’s notice. However, she’d probably better clean the place up a bit.
She picked up the receiver again. With her finger poised over the buttons, she was startled to hear a series of beeps, as if someone were already dialing a number. She hung up the phone and took a deep breath. Were the sounds real, or were they a sign she needed to pay attention to? Damn it, she hated when she couldn’t tell reality from a psychic impression. She picked up the receiver and again, the sounds repeated. This time, she left the phone off the hook. The dialing wasn’t real, for the call never connected, the tones simply repeated, two, perhaps three more times. Too bad she’d never memorized what sound went with which number. Perhaps if she hummed the tune, she’d remember it. She tried and then gave up.
Unexpectedly, tears flooded her eyes. Having unique psychic abilities weren’t good for anything if you couldn’t utilize the clues presented to you. “Dammit,” she shouted into her empty apartment. “At least give me something I can use.” She slammed the receiver down and slid off the stool. On one last hope of being able to call the airlines for a reservation, she picked up the handset. The now familiar tune played in her ear.
With a sigh, she put the receiver down. Gently this time. Laundry, dishes, then pack. She’d make reservations for California from the internet.

You can buy Crisscross at Write Words, Inc. where it's on sale for $5.50

It's also available at Omnilit, The bookstore on the corner of your digital neighborhood, for the full price of $6.50.

I hope you have a wonderful autumn season and when things go bump in the night, here's hoping they leave chocolate! LOL.

Ericka Scott

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