Elizabeth O'Toole has finally gotten her life where she likes it. She plays harp for the local symphony. She shops high fashion labels at vintage stores. She'd recovered from a tragic past and she has her close friends Catherine and Alan to thank. After suppressing her extra sensory perception with intense study of her harp, she finds her music is suddenly connecting with a new audience; particularly a young girl, Emma Brady, who has been murdered. With each ghostly visit, the hauntings grow more intense and more terrifying. Investigating the case is ruggedly handsome Detective Mike Flannery. Known for his fast thinking and bravery on the force, he has his own past and reputation he's trying to keep at bay. Coming from a rich and powerful family, he's out to prove he can fight for justice by being a good cop rather than moving up the ranks through nepotism. Mike and Elizabeth's paths collide at Emma's funeral. The daughter of a Senator, the family wishes the investigation done quickly and quietly. Mike can't close the case because some of the pieces just don't fit together. Elizabeth holds the key to the murder mystery but will he believe her and her unusual connection to the dead victim? Will she and Alan find a way to help the dead tell their own stories? A novel that spans two worlds. Two time periods. One part science fiction. One part paranormal mystery. All romance. Intertwined is a love story of the most unlikely couple. A killer is on the loose and both of them are on the hit list. If they work together, Mike just might solve the case before more people fall victim. But he can't do it alone. He'll need the help of Elizabeth as she connects her living world to that of the dead. She'll need Mikes protection and he'll need the talent and bravery of The Harpist. Get your copy
I’m A Double Agent For Love
I have a secret. I live in two worlds. Half the people who know me from one world, don’t know my other life in my alternate reality. Vice versa, the same is true. In all actuality, its far more glamorous than it sounds. By day, and on weekends, I teach and perform as a harpist. At night, I burn the midnight oil writing stories about paranormal love and romance.
I do my best to keep my worlds apart.
Music is extremely competitive. When I once mentioned to a parent that I wrote a kids book, they looked at me stern concern. “I hope this won’t effect your dedication to your students.” A similar experience happened when I was in a marketing meeting with a music promoter. I talked about adding a short story I’d written to my website. His words cut through me, “People don’t let anyone in the public eye be more than one thing at a time. It’s just not natural. You’re going to have to pick a muse and stick with it.”
But I don’t want to pick. I love writing. I love playing the harp. And sometimes, just sometimes, a day like yesterday happens. Since we are approaching summer break, some of my students are away on vacation. I was basking in the delicious freedom of a late morning cup of coffee and a large block of writing time when it happened.
My female character, Elizabeth had just revealed her secret ability to help solve murder cases. In the scene, she is afraid and has left herself feeling vulnerable and open to the leading man, Detective Flannery. Like any good, red headed woman, she deals with vulnerability by being quick witted and silver tongued. Flannery falls deeper in love with each sassy attempt she makes at deflecting her feelings. He doesn’t want to fall in love with her. The timing is inconvenient (he’s in the middle of a case, for God’s sake!). His boss is breathing down his neck. The press is trying to squeeze him for a comment on the high profile of the victim. To make things worse, all clues lead to suspect that will rip the city apart with controversy. Alas, none of that matters to Flannery. He wants nothing more than to comfort Elizabeth who’s paper thin armor is coming apart at the seams.
While my writer mind typed away, my inner composer suddenly gathered together an entire harp orchestra. A soft, beautiful theme glides into the story from the other side of my brain. Flannery and Elizabeth’s finger’s brush against one another. Then, they are holding hands for the first time. Both of them begin to breathe a little quicker…or not at all. Suddenly, the writer in me puts on the brakes.
What just happened?
I listened in the silence; hushing the two potential lovers on the screen in front of me long enough to playback the soundtrack in my head. I asked myself what every musician asks at the moment of eureka. Is this melody my own or have I heard it before? I played it again in my head. Thankfully, I was writing in my music studio yesterday morning. It’s only two steps from my couch to the wooden seat next Aiden, my harp.
My right hand found the melody. Eventually, my left hand found the accompaniment. My two hands, like the two young lovers in the chapter work together and yet play off of one another. The theme to their love song is born.
The conundrum before a writer harpist rears its ugly head. Time flies. When I looked up, it had been nearly five hours that have flown by. The song was solid in my head but not recorded or written down. Will I forget it? The chapter in my computer needed to be finished as the couple begs to be just a little closer to one another before I hit save and close the lid of the lap top.
That’s the problem with being a double agent for love. Sometimes it’s unclear who’s side I’m really on.
This short story by me, Michele Roger was originally published at 365tomorrows.com on March 17, 2018. I'm offering it here, for free. Please, please comment and share if you enjoy it. Thanks
Just Like Dolls
by Michele Roger
I make the coffee in the French press like I do every morning. Then, I regret it by the time I reach the City Freezing Works. A doubled edged elixir, the coffee rouses me from bed and then inspires uninhibited vomiting but the time I reach downtown. I can’t blame it all on the coffee. The Freezing Works is a place of immeasurable hope and devastating despair. I want to find him. Yet, I pray that I will never come face to face with his waxy stare.
As I walk the six blocks downtown, I think of myself at his age and the comics that consumed me. The technicolor, paper end of the world glowed with an intense inferno of nuclear devastation. Who could have predicted that the actual apocalypse would have been so silent, lethal? Plausible deniability enrobes governments in a blanket of stoicism while they all point the finger at one another. It doesn’t matter who released the virus-infused nanotechnology. Humanity is dying in new and confounded ways.
There is a sound of suction as I push open the doors. The one-time car factory is now another world encased in ice. A light precipitation falls gently like snow from the ceiling as I show my ID to the guard. While his movements confirm that he’s alive, this place, this frozen hell shows the toll it has taken on his soul. His eyes are as lifeless as the bodies inside. The sound of him flicking the switch makes my stomach lurch again. I swallow the juices erupting to the top of my throat and the water flooding my mouth. This factory that once built a shining city and carried a nation befittingly showcases its dead. Just like dolls, its citizen’s faces frozen in time.
Wrapping my arms around myself in an attempt to physically hold myself together, I enter the side conveyor labeled the children’s section. I tremble from cold and fear as I gaze into each little face. I want to brush back the tattered hair in their eyes. I want to tell them their mother is coming. I want to lie to them and say it will all be okay. One by one, I confirm none of the milky eyes that stare up at me resemble my own. A part of me exhales. He’s out there, hiding like a good boy.
At the end of the month, the factory will re-route the factory conveyor belt. The line will not return to the industrial freezer. Instead, the corpses will travel to the other end of the building where the City has installed an incinerator. I wonder when I too will join the line. Who will be left to claim me? What will the nano-bots feast upon when none of us are left?
While archeology tells us that the harp was likely "invented" when early human hunters played the string(s) of their hunting bows, that simple weapon-turned-instrument took on many metamorphoses along the Silk Road. Eventually the harp became popular in Irish society in the 12th Century. Due to it's technical difficulty and the young age that harpers needed to begin their training to reach professional status by adulthood, the harp and the education of harpers was coveted by Gaelic aristocracy of the era.
By the 19th Century, the harp was a metaphor for the poor and downtrodden of Irish society. In songs like, "The Minstrel Boy" and "The Harp That Once Through Tara's Halls" the harp is a symbol for a nation that has fallen into financial and political strife. Around the same time, the RIC (The Royal Irish Constabulary) embellished the their caps and uniforms with the Celtic harp and used it as a symbol of solidarity and national pride.
Presently, the Celtic harp is on the national coin and the government of Ireland's national seal. While many Americans will be celebrating St. Patrick's Day this March 17 (if not sooner,) I thought I would share just a little bit of history of my favorite instrument.