Mystery
Publisher: Tekrighter, LLC
Date Published: 1 March, 2020
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A spooky mansion in the Georgia mountains with an outrageous cast of characters. Spiders, snakes, meth-heads and serial killers, oh my! Venom! ain’t your average gothic mystery, folks.
But who would expect it to be when Natalie McMasters is involved? She’s fallen madly in love with two people—her wife, Lupe, and Danny, her partner at the 3M Detective Agency. Rather than choose one of them as her life partner, she’s decided to have them both, and roped them into a relationship retreat in rural Georgia to learn how to live as a polyamorous family.
But Nattie finds more than she bargained for in the sleepy town of Greypeak. A methamphetamine operation. A snake-handling preacher. A retired FBI agent hunting a serial killer. And a charismatic psychologist who just might have his own agenda for his clients.
Nattie ultimately finds herself in the most dangerous situation she’s ever faced, which may well solve her relationship problems by costing her life. Is this really the last book in the Natalie McMasters series?

About the Author

Thomas A. Burns, Jr. is the author of the Natalie McMasters Mysteries. He was born and grew up in New Jersey, attended Xavier High School in Manhattan, earned B.S degrees in Zoology and Microbiology at Michigan State University and a M.S. in Microbiology at North Carolina State University. He currently resides in Wendell, North Carolina. As a kid, Tom started reading mysteries with the Hardy Boys, Ken Holt and Rick Brant, and graduated to the classic stories by authors such as A. Conan Doyle, Dorothy Sayers, John Dickson Carr, Erle Stanley Gardner and Rex Stout, to name a few. Tom has written fiction as a hobby all of his life, starting with Man from U.N.C.L.E. stories in marble-backed copybooks in grade school. He built a career as technical, science and medical writer and editor for nearly thirty years in industry and government. Now that he’s truly on his own as a novelist, he’s excited to publish his own mystery series, as well as to contribute stories about his second most favorite detective to the MX anthology of New Sherlock Holmes Stories.
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Chapter 1

A wise woman once said that love is life’s true purpose. If that’s right, why does it hurt so damn much?

My name is Natalie McMasters. I’m twenty-one, short and blonde (OK, it’s bleached), formerly a pre-law student at State and a private detective trainee at my uncle’s 3M Detective Agency. And I’m totally ratchet because I’m in love with two people, and I have to give one of them up.

It’s been an unusually warm spring. It’s a fine, sunny morning in early May, and I’m driving my Z-car down a long gravel driveway through an oak and pine forest. As I enter a spacious clearing, a sprawling, modern home appears ahead, nestled in a riot of red-, white- and pink-blooming azaleas, rimmed by a border of electric blue hyacinths. I deeply inhale the heady floral aroma, as if the sweetness will somehow purge the bitterness from my soul. The upper windows of the A-frame overlooking the circular driveway are mirrored, so I can’t tell if Rebecca’s watching me.

She must be, because there’s a loud click as I approach the front door, and it pops open. The heat of summer hasn’t arrived here in the South yet, so the louvered windows on the first floor are open.

I haven’t been back to see Rebecca since I was shot in this house last year. Naturally, that makes me uncomfortable, because I’m not sure she even wants to see me. As I enter, her tinny voice comes from a hidden speaker.

“I’m in the office, Nattie. Come on up.” Her tone doesn’t tell me if she’s glad I’m here, but at least she didn’t order me out.

The house smells of hyacinths inside, too. On my right, an elevator in a glass and wrought iron tube in the center of a circular staircase gives access to the second floor. I sidestep it, taking the stairs instead. At the top, I turn into a spacious office, and Rebecca comes to greet me, her arms wide for a hug, her waist-length, coal black hair rippling and flowing behind her. She’s thirty-something, with high cheekbones and coppery skin from her native American ancestry, and her white doctor’s smock does little to hide her curves. She is absolutely one of the most gorgeous women that I’ve ever met—the sight of her always takes my breath away, like a fine work of art will do.

I can’t help but glance at the floor as I near her, but there’s no trace of bloodstains or other evidence of the tragedy that unfolded in this room last autumn. She must have hired professional cleaners. Moving to embrace her, I see a deep sadness filling her onyx eyes, and I know why it’s there. I was here when she got it.

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