Keeping Secrets II: No More Skeletons
“And now you found her on Facebook.”
“It was easy. She spells her name with an ‘ie’, instead of a ‘y’. Abbie Rae Kolbeck. I searched it, and there she was.”
“Dude, how is it that she doesn’t know it’s you? You don’t have any photos on?”
“No, I have photos. Like I said, she knows me as Johnny Moretti. And when she knew me, I was this skinny little geek with big, wavy hair, bad teeth, zits, green eyes and big-ass glasses. Now, I’m four inches taller, about 50 pounds heavier, my hair is short, and I have the mustache and goatee. Oh, and I got my nose fixed. And I have brown contacts. And I had braces.”
“You got a nose job?”
“Yeah. Before I met you.”
“Yeah. You didn’t look like that when I met you.”
“That was the idea.”
“Hmm. So why did you send her the friend request?”
“I want to see her.”
“I want to see her.”
“Greg, you’re drunk. Let’s talk about this when—”
“No! I haven’t been drunk for the past 15 years! I’ve never stopped loving her, and I’ve never stopped wanting her.”
“But Greg. You said you’ve done something that could get you’re ass thrown in prison. What’s the statute of limitations for rape down there?”
“In Florida, there isn’t one.”
“What? You mean, for the rest of your life, you have to worry about going to prison?”
“I guess. I’m not sure the law’s reto…retroactive, but that’s Johnny Moretti. I’m not Johnny Moretti.”
“Greg, do you hear yourself? You need to go home and sleep this off, and in the morning, you’ll see how crazy this is.”
“I didn’t come up with this tonight, Mark. I’ve been thinking a lot about it on and off for the past few years.”
“Mostly off, I hope.”
“No, mostly on. And I think I can pull it off.”
“Look, going to a new place and starting over as someone else is one thing. But going back to where people knew you before and pretending to be someone else is a different thing entirely.”
“I’m not pretending. I am someone else.”
Greg reached into his back pocket. He pulled out his wallet and started going through it. There in the back, under some business cards, was a picture of an unattractive, skinny boy with shoulder-length, big hair, a huge nose, bad teeth, and big, ugly glasses. He showed Mark the picture.
“Does that look like me?”
Mark studied the picture, then looked at Greg. “No. Not at all. Damn!”
“See what I mean?”
“Okay, but what about your voice? Surely, your voice isn’t different from when you were in college.”
“That’s the only thing I’m a little bit concerned about. But back then, I was a southern boy. Now, I’m a full-on New Yorka. Fuhgetaboutit! Ya know? I’m a completely different guy, other than maybe my voice sounds a little like someone she used to know.”
“Yeah, someone who raped her! If you weren’t drunk, you’d realize how ridiculous that sounds.”
“Hey, I’ve thought this through when I was sober, and I know it’s a big chance, but I think it’s something I have to do. It’s a chance I have to take, Mark. She’s the reason I can’t, and don’t even want, to get close to anyone else. I still love her!
Abbie went to The Coffee Break for a while, and then met Angela at the restaurant. When they met, they hugged as if they hadn’t seen each other in years.
“Are you okay?” Angela whispered, her pretty, grey eyes looking down into Abbie’s.
“Yeah. I’ll be so happy to get this stupid brace off my arm. It gets on my last nerve.”
“When can you take it off?”
“I can take it off any time I want, but I have to keep it on for another few weeks, if I want the bone to heal the right way.”
“Well, leave it on and deal with it. What I meant was last night.”
“Oh! He held my neighbors prisoner last night, watching my house.”
“Yuh-huh. When I got home, I noticed a black Suburban in their driveway, and my neighbors don’t ever have company at night, so it worried me. So I called over there, and Martha answered and sounded really weird. When I asked her if she had company, she said it was her daughter, and she doesn’t have a daughter.”
“Right. Thank God, I knew that! But I didn’t know what to do, so after we hung up, I went and looked out the window. I saw him leave, so I went over there.”
“It’s a good thing, I did! They were taped up with duct tape in their closet! If I hadn’t gone over there, they would’ve probably died ‘cause they don’t have any children, and they hardly ever have any company.”
“And it was him.”
“Oh, I forgot to tell you!”
Abbie reached into her purse, pulled out the note, and handed it to Angela, saying, “Check this out.”
Angela opened it up, read it, and gasped.
“It was him!”
“Yep. The Townsends were talking about how polite he was. Ang, he even made sandwiches for ‘em and let ‘em eat! And look at that note. He was concerned about me—protecting me!”
“He made sandwiches for his kidnappin’ victims? Oh, how precious! You’ve got to get back together with him!” Angela said, eyes wide, shaking her head.
“Stoooop,” Abbie whined. “You know how hard this is for me. I love this guy.”
“Abbie, you were only with him, what? Three or four weeks?”
“So how are you so in love with him?”
“I don’t know how to explain it, Ang. It’s like we’ve always been together—like we’re made for each other. We just fit together so perfectly. Seriously, I’ve never felt this way before. And I’ve never had anybody really love me before. You’ve gotta agree with that.”
“Oh, I definitely agree with that. As gorgeous as you are, you could have any man you want, and you attract assholes like flies on shit.”
“Ew! That’s just gross, Angela! And we’re about to eat!”
“Abbie, you need some serious help.” Then whispering, leaning across the tiny table, Angela said, “The guy is a fuckin’ murderer! He killed his parents! Does that mean nothin’ to you?”
“Of course, it means something to me. I guess I can’t wrap my head around it. It’s like, I can’t put together the sweet guy I know him to be, with the kind of person who could murder somebody.”
“I’m really worried about you, Abbie. You wouldn’t be with him again, would you?”
“Of course, not. I know what he’s done. It’s hard to believe, but I do know it.”
Angela said, “Oh, I went to see Phillip this mornin’, and he’s gonna find me a .38.”
“So he’s one of your friends in low places?”
“I didn’t know you had friends in low places.”
“I didn’t know you liked to date murderers.”
Abbie was shocked. Eyes wide, she said, “Witch!”
Angela sighed and hung her head. “I know. I’m sorry. I’m PMSin’. Abbie, promise me you won’t take up with that guy again.”
“Hell, Ang, how can I? He’s on the freaking lam!” Abbie said, arms flailing.
Simultaneously, they burst into laughter, cackling loudly. Everyone seated near them turned and looked at them. In their own little world, where friends in low places get guns for normally law-abiding citizens and murdering ex-boyfriends are on the lam, they didn’t notice anyone else around them. In that moment, it was all good.
When the laughter subsided, and Abbie and Angela noticed several of the people near them still looking, they both blushed and said sheepishly, “Sorry.”
“Where do you think he is?”
“I have no idea.”
“Well, at least, you don’t have to worry about the sandwiches,” Angela said, grinning.
Abbie bit her lip to keep from laughing. “You’re bad.”
“I know. But this is all so insane, you have to laugh at it.”
“Yeah. It feels a heck of a lot better than crying. I’m so sick of crying, I could puke.”
“Does he know about Taylor?”
“No, it’s okay. He won’t hurt Taylor. And anyway, he already figured it out before I told him.”
“How do you know he won’t hurt her?”
“I just know. He won’t hurt her.”
“You’re puttin’ way too much trust in this guy. I mean, if he can kill his own mother, and you’re afraid he could kill us…”
“Adoptive mother, who got drunk and read romances while he was being raped by his father in the next room…a woman he hated with every fiber of his being…”
“But nothing. Taylor’s fine. But I’ll call her, and you’ll see.”
Abbie called her, and a minute or so into the call, Abbie found that Taylor had seen Greg at the mall the day before.
Abbie ended the call, looking at Angela. “Did you get that?”
“Yeah, I got it. He’s stalkin’ your daughter.”
“She said she saw him at the mall, and he waved and smiled at her, and when she spoke to him, he said ‘hi’, and then he walked away.”
“You don’t really think that’s coincidence, do ya?”
“No, but I think it’s proof that he’s not gonna hurt her.”
“How the hell is it proof he’s not gonna hurt her?”
“Because he walked away from her.”
“Abbie, lean over here, so I can slap the shit out o’ you!”
“He’s not gonna do anything to her in public, where there’s security! Abbie, this is your daughter we’re talkin’ about here!”
“And his! And he knows it! I’m telling you, Ang, he won’t hurt her. He kept trying to talk me into telling her we were her parents. He wanted her to know that, and for us to be able to see her.”
“Abbie, you’re not seein’ this the way I am. To me, that sounds like all the more reason he would try to take her. Maybe not to hurt her, but to have her with him.”
“I told him that as long as he stayed away from Taylor, me, and my family, I wouldn’t tell the police anything about him killing his father.”
“Yeah, and that’s obviously workin’ out real well for ya! He’s stalkin’ you and Taylor!”
“Ang, I know it sounds crazy, and maybe it is, but I don’t think he would hurt either of us—especially Taylor. That’s his flesh and blood.”
“You need to be committed. I’m callin’ your mom right now.”
“I mean it, Abbie. Again, we’re talkin’ about a guy who killed his parents!” Angela whispered.
“Okay, call the crazy hospital and have ‘em pick me up.”
“You think I’m jokin’. I really think you’re losin’ your grip on reality, Abbie. There is nobody in the world that would see this the way you do.”
“Apparently, that psychologist thinks so, too. Hell, maybe I am crazy! How would I know?”
“Really. You’re not thinkin’ rationally. Last night when you were at my house, you were makin’ a lot more sense than you are now, and you thought you were bein’ crazy then. So did I. But the more I hear about this guy, the more I think he’s capable of almost anything.”
“When is that guy getting you the gun?”
“I’m not sure. It’s not like he’s goin’ to a gun shop. He knows a pawn shop owner that said he could get him one under the table, but I don’t know when.”
“Well, getting it for a Christmas present might be a little late. Time is of the essence, ya know?”
“What do you want me to do? Tell the guy who’s doin’ me a huge favor he’d better hurry his ass up?”
“Do you have the .357 with you?”
“No. That thing weighs a ton. If I put it in my purse, it would probably break my shoulder.”
“Don’t be a puss.”
“Now I’m a puss for not carrying a .357 Magnum in my purse? What am I, Dirty Harry?”
“Dirty Angie,” Abbie said, giggling.
“Yeah, that’s me.”
“I want you to be safe.”
“Okay. Now you’re makin’ some sense. Thank you.”
Why the middle initial? Well, with a name like “Kitten,” I was hoping the middle initial would give it a more serious, “grown-up” sound. And no, I was never a stripper, contrary to what the name might convey! LOL! My dad started calling me Kitten when I was only days old, so there was no pole dancer connotation intended there!
I wrote both Keeping Secrets and Keeping Secrets II in 2012. I then went back and edited and published the first book in December, ‘12. Then I edited and published the sequel on Smashwords on May 5th and on Amazon on May 8th of this year.
I’m from Muscle Shoals, Alabama (Roll Tide!). I’m in Wilmington, North Carolina now, homesick for my daughter, the rest of my family, and sweet home Alabama. For those of you who don’t know, Muscle Shoals was “The Hit Recording Capital of the World” back in the late 60s, through the 70s. Everyone from The Rolling Stones to Aretha Franklin, and lots in between came to that tiny town on the Tennessee River to record hits such as Wild Horses, Brown Sugar, Mustang Sally, When a Man Loves a Woman, and many more. And I went to school with the sons (great guys) of the man who started it all at FAME Recording Studios—Rick Hall.
My best friend is my little black and tan doxie, Peej. “Peej?” you might ask. Peej is short for PJ. PJ is short for Precious Jackson. Peej was my dad’s baby. When he died in 2009, she became mine. When I would tell people her name was PJ, they would say, “He’s so cute.” So I started calling her Peej, which just confuses everyone, but it’s okay. It fits her.
- Why did you want to be a writer?
I’ve always loved to write. It’s just who I am. But I’ve wanted to be a published author for as long as I can remember. But why? I think part of it is that I wanted to create something that could live beyond me. I guess I have a fear of being forgotten, and it makes me feel good to know that someday, after I’m gone, someone might actually read my books.
- What is your favorite genre of book? Which genre do you like the least?
My favorite genre is the same that I write—thrillers. I guess my least favorite would be the “sweetsie” romances or maybe hardcore horror.
- Have you ever faced writers block and what are some suggestions to get past writers block?
I haven’t ever experienced writer’s block. (Fingers crossed!) Hmmm… I suppose if I did get writer’s block, I would read or watch a movie. Not to copy anything, of course, but just to get the creative part of my mind in gear.
- What is your least favorite aspect of writing a book?
Choosing the title! I didn’t have the title for Keeping Secrets until right before I published it, when I was writing the description. That’s when it clicked for me. I went for months thinking of something I liked, then searching it and finding that it was already taken. I saw an “expert” asking for suggestions for a book title in a Facebook group. Someone gave a great one, and the expert said, “That one is already taken.” All the best titles are taken! You can’t copyright a title. But it’s best to find a title that hasn’t had another work recently released with it. I finally gave up on finding something original, and found something that fit perfectly, and I went with it.
- Are any of your characters based on anyone you know?
Yes. I’m a part of most of the characters, and a large part of who Abbie is in Keeping Secrets. Angela, Abbie’s best friend, is based on a friend of mine—Angela. Her personality is almost identical to my friend’s.
- Which one of your characters would you want with you on a deserted island?
LOL! Well, I think I would like to hang out with Abbie. But then, Greg is pretty hot! But he might be dangerous, so I’d go with Abbie.
- If your book(s) were turned into a movie, who could you see playing them?
Good question! I don’t know how many of you will remember Jason Patric from The Lost Boys, but I have someone with that sort of look in mind for Greg. As for Abbie, I think Kristen Bell would probably be good to play her part.
8. What makes your book different from others in this genre?
I’ve had several bloggers/reviewers tell me that it’s different from anything they’ve ever read because it puts romance and horror together. Not horror as in gory, slasher horror, but as in fearing for one of the characters’ life. And as for the genre—I’ve yet to figure out which category to put it in. It’s so many things, rather than one or two.
9. What advice would you give people wanting to get into writing?
Read everything you can get your hands on in the genre you’re interested in writing. And write every day. Practice makes perfect. Well, nothing is perfect but in most cases, the more you write, the better you write. And find out everything you can about marketing books, because no matter how good the book is, it won’t sell if no one knows about it.
Thanks for having me for this interesting interview and tour stop, Rachel. I’ve really enjoyed it!