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CRIME & PASSION
Three Short Stories
BY FRANCELIA BELTON
Love and betrayal–the ingredients in any crime of passion. But how dangerous can desire be? For the women in these tales, falling in love may prove to be deadly.
In “Lewenda Gets Married,” a cold-blooded killer questions if happily ever after is possible for someone like them.
In “Sorry, Wrong Address,” a mix-up in house addresses gives pause to immediate revenge.
In the never published before “Collateral Damage,” a railyard robbery gang member will learn if blood is truly thicker than water.
Philosophers and playwrights say, “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” but will these women find their better angels and learn to live and let live?
Read Crime & Passion: Three Short Stories to find out.
The elegant, tightly written stories in Francelia Belton’s collection Crime & Passion slip under your skin with the ease and suddenness of an assassin’s knife. The takeaway? Beware a woman scorned. She’ll unman the villains, clean up the mess, and be on her way before the bad guys know what hit them. Readers who love strong women and terrific writing will applaud this anthology.
–Barbara Nickless, Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon Charts bestselling author
CRIME & PASSION
BY FRANCELIA BELTON
Jocelyn laughed when her brother said everything was fine. At this particular moment, things were anything but fine. She first tensed and then relaxed her muscles against the rope wrapped around her upper torso and arms. The coarse fibers scratched against her rain dampened skin but otherwise didn’t give.
Things were definitely not fine.
Unperturbed by his sister’s dismissive derision, Josh continued. “This all has to be some kind of misunderstanding.”
Jocelyn didn’t think so. In fact, she had a feeling things were about to go from bad to worse.
Maybe, one of these days, she would appreciate Josh’s ever-present, ever-annoying optimism. But today wasn’t that day. Being a realist kept her from having that luxury. A trait she developed when she and Josh were twelve years old and had to learn to take care of themselves.
The rat-tat-tat of raindrops ricocheted against the corrugated metal roof of the warehouse she and her brother were currently imprisoned in. Dank and dusty, it was one of those long-abandoned facilities south of the old city rail yard—a remote site she and Josh often went to after the initial unloading of the cargo containers at a secluded rail siding. Nothing unusual about that. She and Josh were regularly in one warehouse or another most nights. It was part of the job, supervising and inventorying the latest haul.
But, on this late spring morning, they were caught off guard by two strangers, and now found themselves tied and bound to some long-forgotten chairs in one of the empty offices. A ten by fifteen, windowless box.
The vibrations of the 5:00 a.m. freight train chugging past reverberated through the floor. Cinder block walls muffled the blare of its horn. Ordinarily, she’d be on her way home by now, merchandise counted, sorted, and stacked on trucks being delivered to their respective destinations with no trace of their crew ever having been there.
She flexed and twisted her wrists in the rope. Still having no luck loosening the rope, she clasped the armrests of the wooden chair and spat out a stale piece of chewing gum. It landed a couple of inches away from a cracked plastic pen casing. If she and Josh made it out of this mess, and that was a big if, they would really have to consider a career change. This line of work did not lend itself to living until retirement age.
Josh continued to strain at his bindings. The metal legs of his rusty aluminum chair creaked and groaned as he struggled to escape.
It was no use.
Even though Jocelyn and her brother were twins, they were nothing alike physically or in personality. And since Josh was a towering six feet three inches with a linebacker’s build, the two assholes who had walked in on them took no chances with him. They’d trussed him up as though he were an Egyptian mummy, trapping and burying him in a vortex of mildewy rope. Only the calves of his dark wash jeans and Air Jordan 1 sneakers were visible. Jocelyn, on the other hand, apparently posed no threat in their minds, with her petite frame of five feet three inches and ballerina’s build. They limited her bindings to her upper body.
She shifted her butt in the hard wooden seat and moistened her lips. The taste of sweat and cherry lip balm mixed together on her tongue.
The outer warehouse door squealed. Soon, approaching footsteps crunched on the dirty concrete floor. After a minute, whoever it was paused on the other side of the office door.
Jocelyn and Josh froze, sharing a glance.
The door handle creaked and they returned their attention to the opening door.
In strode Peter, sinewy and lean, with that delicious smile on his face.
A surge of heat pulsated through Jocelyn’s body. Oh man, she did not need this right now. She and Peter had agreed a couple of months ago that they should go back to being just friends. And she told herself she was fine with that. It had been, after all, a single passionate interlude in their lifelong friendship
Peter shut the door and passed under the blinking bulb in the overhead ballast. Raindrops glistened in his hair, across his brow, on his black leather jacket. Dark, wet spots pocked the satin sheen of his gray Hugo Boss dress shirt. His mud-splattered eel skin boots left footprints on the grimy concrete floor. The tread of his footfalls was in tune with the rattle of train wheels on the track: smooth, rhythmic, hypnotic.
Josh let out a whoosh of air and sagged in his seat. Well, not exactly “sagged” considering the way he was wrapped up. He said, “Hey buddy, it’s good to see you.”
Jocelyn loosened her grip on the scratched curve of the arm rest. She knew what was going through Josh’s mind, because she thought it too. Finally. Peter must have talked to the two jerks outside and explained the situation. They’d made a huge mistake, and she and Josh had nothing to do with whatever was going on.
And yet, in the time it took Peter to cross the few feet into the small office, the rush of warmth and good feelings that had flooded her body only a moment ago dissipated. A hint of indifference coiled beneath his easygoing gaze. He wasn’t there to save their asses. He wasn’t there to get his childhood friends out of a jam.
He wasn’t there for her.
Francelia Belton’s love of short stories came from watching old Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents television shows in her youth. Her fiction has appeared in various publications, with a new short story coming out in the upcoming Denver Noir anthology by Akashic Books. Her short story, “Knife Girl,” was a finalist in the 2020-2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Competition and a semi-finalist in the 2021 Outstanding Screenplays Shorts Competition.
Links to Francelia’s website, blog, books, #ad etc.:
Also: Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Google Play
You can read more of her stories at https://Francel.Be/Writing-Stories.
Social Media Links:
Special Giveaway: Francelia is giving away an ebook copy of her collection to up to three lucky readers who answer this question on her Karen’s Killer Book Bench blog: Tell me, what is your biggest new goal for 2022?
Thanks, Francelia, for sharing your story with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!