Sunday, 19 February 2017

Don't Mess With Me

It was the worst cappuccino she'd ever tasted. Not one to bottle up her displeasure, she made sure she told them, as succinctly as her nature and current mood allowed her to. 

Gia Savvas was not one to take any bullshit. Ask anyone who knew her. They could entertain you for hours with stories that would leave you either chuckling at her audacity or cringe at her blatant rudeness. But the message, that screamed out loud and clear after any story, was if you need anything done, talk to Gia. She would guarantee that you got a positive outcome.

I always wondered if she ever thought of doing things differently. If she had tried a different approach, like calm and polite instead of obnoxious and with no care what so ever for the other person's feelings. I mean, wouldn't it be a better for your blood pressure to approach any conflict, with a level head and with all the facts? Surely,  you can get your get your point across without coming across as a bully and being inconsiderate to the other person!

Like today, all Gia wanted was a half-strength medium cappuccino. What she got, tasted like hot milk with no coffee flavour at all. That's exactly what she told the barista.

She marched right up to the girl, thrust the coffee over the counter and said, "I asked for half strength cappuccino, not hot milk. If I wanted hot milk, I would have asked for it. If it's that hard to fathom how to make a half-strength coffee, then you're not the person for this job. How hard is it to make a half-strength coffee?"

Taken aback, the poor girl just stood there in shock for a moment. Before she could utter a single word to defend herself, the cafe manager appeared. He nudged her to the side. Ready to take on the irate customer before things got even more heated. After all, a happy customer is good for business. Right?

The manager had no chance. Gia was on a roll. He got steamrolled big time as Gia gave it to him with both barrels. It was her ringing phone that calmed the situation somewhat. Her focus shifted as she answered the call, speaking to whoever was on the other side, with animated hand movements. 

Taking advantage the situation, the manager instructed the barista to make another cup but to add more than half a shot of coffee. While it was being made, he kept one eye on Gia. He looked like he was praying that the call kept her occupied till the coffee was ready.

If he was praying, he was in luck. Just as he placed the freshly brewed coffee on the counter in front of Gia, she hung up. She gave him a look while she reached out for the coffee cup. Her gaze remained on the now nervous looking manager as she took a tentative sip. Still keeping him anchored by her look, she took another sip, before curtly thanking him. 

As she walked away towards me, as one, the manager and barista let out the breath they were holding and moved on to serve others with a smile. Gia and her attitude were pushed to the side, as they continued to serve the waiting customers. And when they had a break, they would relive the moment and vilify her till they felt better.

It was these mannerisms that drew me to Gia or rather her ability to achieve an outcome. I needed a solution to a long-standing issue. No matter how many times or however many different approaches I used, to solve the problem I had, there never seemed to be a resolution. So, I had approached her and over coffee asked for her help. She asked a lot of questions, got the facts and the bare bones of the situation and then agreed to help me out.

Within two weeks my problem was solved. I was happy and Gia got to unleash her displeasure, so in a way, she was happy too until the next time she was crossed!

Copyright Tia J. Lee 2017
All Rights Reserved.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Book Review: Murder On Moonshine Hill by Joan C. Curtis

Jenna Scali is back with a new mystery to solve!

In Murder on Moonshine Hill by Joan C. Curtis, Jenna reluctantly accepts to attend a friend's wedding, after coming across a cryptic message tucked inside the invitation. This friend, Marcy, was her best friend when they were younger. They were inseparable but drifted apart after a tragic incident.   The fallout still affected Jenna and if it hadn't been for that message, she would have given the wedding a miss.

Not expecting anything untoward, Jenna along with her good friend Quentin head off to Moonshine Hill.  Upon arriving at the inn, she meets various characters that make up the wedding party. Her reunion with Marcy raises more red flags that Jenna's curiosity is unable to dismiss. A murder sees Marcy being the prime suspect which prompts Jenna to discover the truth.

Murder on Moonshine Hill is a suspenseful, gripping and well-written story. The plot is fast paced, well thought out and will keep you wondering right to the very end. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I for one, can't wait to read another Jenna Scali mystery.

Monday, 1 August 2016

No Regrets

"I think I want a tattoo." I blurted out while we lay there in sweaty post-coital bliss.

When silence greeted my announcement, it unnerved me. For the last two years, since we hooked up, John, always had something to say, be it a light-hearted joke or even a snide comment. Remaining silent was not his thing. So the silence unnerved me. Maybe the mind blowing sex caused him to black out? He'd fallen asleep perhaps?

Drawing what little energy I possessed, I turned my head and squinted up at his face. He was awake. His eyes focussed on a spot on the ceiling. His chest rose and fell quickly as he regained his breath after our wild ride. A ride so wonderfully satisfying that perhaps his ears were still ringing from all my yelling? Yup, all those 'oh God's' and 'harder' must have short-circuited his ability to take in anything I said. 

It could be the reason for his lack of response. So, I turned to my side and poked him. "Did you hear what I said?" I poked him again and repeated slowly, "I want a tattoo."


Huh? Was that all he could say? Agreed the sex had been spectacular but even so, his lack of commentary unsettled me.

I poked him again. Harder. And finally, I got a rise out of him as he swung round to face me, swearing and swatting my hand away.

"What the fuck! Quit with the poking you fuckhead! I heard you the first time."

"Well then, respond you dumb fuck! How the hell will I know if you heard me or not if you don't answer!" I yelled back in anger.

The sated and relaxed bliss of a few minutes ago, now morphed into a tense and angry state of affairs. Okay perhaps this wasn't the best time to broach such a topic, but common, I don't think I had done anything wrong. Or had I?

Was I wrong to blurt something totally random and ruin a lovely and tender moment between us? Surely not responding and calling me names was a bigger no-no?

"I was thinking!" he muttered.

"Thinking? About what?"

"About why you want to ruin your skin. You have beautiful skin. So smooth and silky!"

If his voice hadn't sounded disgruntled and pissed off, I would have totally melted at his words. Who was I kidding, I melted anyway.

He may not be all smooth and suave like other men, but he always says it how it is and never bullshits. Like the time I asked him if my bum looked big in a pair of new jeans, he said yes! Oh yes, he did! His answer stunned me stupid for a few seconds before I got ready to lay it on him. But before I could utter a word, he muttered something about how the alignment of the pockets made my arse appear large when it wasn't. That comment like this one fizzled all the anger out of me and made me all gooey and mushy inside.

I couldn't help but inch closer to him. His arm came around to hug me closer to him. After a moment's silence, I asked, "What about a small, cute and very feminine tatt."

This time, he grunted. Ah well, at least it wasn't silence. I let the one-sided conversation lapse as I listened to his heart beat and tangled my leg with his.

Lulled by his warmth, I drifted off to sleep. I dreamt of cute little tattoos.  Tattoos which then morphed into monsters as they grew and covered every inch of my beautiful, smooth and silky skin.


As the days flew by, the idea of getting a tattoo would not dissipate.  I spent my spare time online, scrolling through pages upon pages of tattoos. I read up on the various techniques used and I even read a few stories of horror and regret.

After a few months of research, I knew what I wanted and where I wanted it. Armed with a collage of ideas, I set out to choose my preferred tattooist.

From a list of ten highly rated tattooist, I selected the one who I felt most comfortable with. His rough sketch at our first meeting captured the essence of what I wanted. I had no doubt he would transform a part of my skin into a piece of art and without any hesitation, I locked in a date. 

I still hadn't told anyone of my intentions. As much as I wanted to tell John and all my close friends, I also had this huge urge to keep silent about it. My friends were like John. From past conversations, I knew they would react in a negative manner. I would get no support from them, of that I was sure. I would just do it on my own and surprise them all.

Yup! That's what I would do, surprise them. It was a shame really as I would have loved to share the whole experience with someone. Getting a second opinion about the design work or even just to be there and hold my hand if the pain got too much.

Keeping it all quiet was a feat in itself! It helped that John had to travel for work a lot. His company was rolling out a new accounting software and the testing process along with the training saw him in a different city each week.  I felt terrible, but there was never a good time to spill the beans.  The few days he spent at home he spent re-charging and doing fuck all. In all honesty, it made it easy for me to hide my intentions.


D-day came around way too quickly. With equal emotions of excitement and trepidation, I made my way to the tattoo shop.

As I sat waiting on a plastic covered chair, I watched Greg, my tattooist, prepare his work area. His worktable including the tattoo gun was covered in plastic. Sudden visions of blood splatters everywhere and my lifeless, butchered body made me wish I hadn't been so secretive. Right about now, a friend to lean on and to re-assure me would have been nice.

Finally, Greg was all set. He had little pots of ink before him, an opened tub of vaseline and a variety of other bits and pieces. When he looked up at me, I gave him a shaky smile. He had already prepped my skin. He shaved the area, so it was free of any hair and applied the stencil. With his foot, he tested the tattoo gun, and the buzz made me jump.

"You ready?" he queried.

"Yup! As ready as I will ever be. Let's do this." I replied with false bravado.

"Okay. Here goes. Stay as still as possible. Understand?"

I nodded my head in response, grit my teeth, closed my eyes and tensed up all over.

"Relax a little and enjoy the experience."

That was easy for him to say. Apart from his face, it looked like his whole body  had intricate artwork. He obviously enjoyed the experience more than once! But as he did this for a living and seeing he had gone through the process many times himself, I tried to do as he requested. I didn't get far.  The buzzing sound of the tattoo gun as he started it again amped my fear. I locked up all over again.

When he actually started, it didn't hurt as much as I thought it would. It felt like when a cat scratches you but only more painful. As he progressed, the vibrating needle felt like it was being dragged through my skin but the pain subsided or perhaps I got used to the sensation.

With my eyes now open and my body less tense, I watched Greg complete the outline. Standing to stretch his back, he asked if I needed a break. I said no and thus began the next stage, the shading.

He dipped the tattoo gun into various ink pots every so often and in no time, he was wiping the area clean. He then led me to a ceiling to floor mirror, and I had my first proper look at his masterpiece.

I was speechless. In silence and in awe, I scrutinised it from every angle. Though small, it was beautiful.  It looked so delicate and appeared to belong on my belly. I loved it! Absolutely loved it!

Greg started to talk about aftercare and I forced myself to focus on his words and not stare at my belly. When he was confident I understood what I needed to do, I went home eager to show off my butterflies.

Once I got home, I realised John was back. His schedule must have changed as I hadn't been expecting him for another two days. I now had butterflies in my belly. No seriously. I'm not talking about the new addition to my body but the ones fluttering inside. I was suddenly extremely nervous.

I paused when I saw John's smiling and relaxed face. My nerves stopped playing ping pong in my belly as calmness settled over me. I had no reason to be nervous. He may disapprove or feel I went behind his back, but it was my skin and if I wanted to mar it then so be it. He will have to live with it and so will I.

Copyright Tia J. Lee 2016
All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Book Review: All We Left Behind by Ingrid Sundberg

When Marion Taylor, the shy bookworm, meets sexy soccer captain Kurt Medford at a party, what seems like a sure thing quickly turns into a total mess. One moment they’re alone in the middle of a lake, igniting sparks of electricity. The next, they’re on dry land, pretending they’ve never met. But rather than the end, that night is the beginning of something real, terrifying, and completely unforgettable for them both.

As Marion and Kurt struggle to build a relationship from the fractured pieces of their pasts, every kiss they share uncovers memories both would rather keep buried. Marion desperately wants to trust Kurt and share the one secret she’s never told anyone—but some truths aren’t meant to be spoken out loud. Kurt is also still haunted by his mother’s death, by the people he hurt, and by the mistakes he can never take back.

Explosive together and hollow apart, Marion and Kurt seem totally wrong for each other—but could they turn out to be more right than they ever thought possible?

All We Left Behind by Ingrid Sundberg is a story about first love, but it is not your traditional love story. This story is gritty and raw. It touches on loss, addiction, abuse.

This is a story about Marion, who is a shy girl and who has a huge secret. Fearing that it would ruin everything if it came out, she has kept it to herself. Not even telling her father or her best friend, Lillith. As her complete opposite, Lillith challenges Marion. She keeps pushing Marion's safe boundaries one of them is to have sex.

When Marion meets the popular soccer captain, Kurt at a party, sparks fly; they have a connection. However, coming from dysfunctional families, they both need to come to terms with the secrets of their past. As the story progresses, you can't help but wonder how the two can move past their personal tragedies  and make their relationship work.

Ingrid Sundberg's writing is detailed and the storyline was engaging. Through her writing, she showed the complications of teenage or first love especially if tragedy is involved. 

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Book Review: Stolen Fate by S. Nelson

This isn’t your typical story about boy meets girl then they fall in love and live happily ever after. No. This is a story about deception and betrayal at its finest. This is a story about hatred and attraction which does everything in its power to destroy two people.

Essie Horton is a woman who has lived through unspeakable things during her short life and when a prime opportunity presents itself, she dives right in, only concerned about herself and her objectives.

Drayden Warner is a man used to living the good life, bedding every beauty in sight, masking an empty existence, and hiding from a tragedy which happened years ago. Little does he know, his life will change forever when he meets the one woman who will possibly destroy him for good.

Stolen Fate is S. Nelson's debut novel. It is impressive, well written and the storyline made it hard to put the book down.

The story had it all - suspense, drama, deception, betrayal, heartache, lust, chemistry, and love. With a myriad of feelings within the book, it was an engrossing read.

Essie Horton has a plan. A plan that would set her up but like all well thought out plans, things go wrong. She hustled the wrong man. She hustled Drayden Warner.

Drayden is rich, handsome and a playboy. He may be every woman's idea of hotness but when crossed, he does not let anyone walk all over him. Not even Essie.

The events that follow made me wonder about the sanity of the characters and if they will ever be able to trust and love again. The way the author portrayed the characters drew me in and I felt all their emotions. I can't wait to read more of S. Nelson's work!

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

To Buy OR Not To Buy

I have a dilemma. A good friend has asked for my help and I can't say no. She wants to buy a property, and she needs me to put my name on the mortgage paperwork so she gets approved for a loan. By doing so, I am liable for part of the loan.

When she first approached me, I was more than happy to help out as a part of me wanted to make her lifelong dream of owning her own house a reality. But now, I have to put a stop to it.

What started out to be a small loan has now ballooned to half a million dollars. This is for a tiny apartment on the outskirts of the city. And I will be liable for approximately one hundred thousand dollars. This is way, way more than what I am comfortable with. More so as she is over 65 years of age and is currently unemployed.

"Don't worry!" She says whenever I raise my concerns. "It is only for twelve months and then I will remove your name from the paperwork."

"But I can't help it. You should think of retirement. Your plan at this stage of your life is to retire or semi-retire if you want to keep working. The plan shouldn't involve blowing your hefty savings on a mortgage. At your age, you shouldn't be thinking of full-time work either. Don't you want to spend time with your grandchildren, friends and enjoy life?"

I could tell by her expression it wasn't worth the argument. I was wasting my breath. She had made up her mind.

A part of me hates her for putting me in such a position. Don't get me wrong, I want to help her, but for fucks sake, how about meeting me half way and not borrow half a million? Not only that, there would be implications for me too. It will impact me both financially and with the tax office. But from her expression and past conversations, she wants what she wants.

When she had first approached me with the request, my partner was in agreement. He thought, as did I, that she would have a small mortgage. It made so much more sense especially for her. But from the way this conversation was going, and the look in Marion's eyes, it remained clear I was wasting my breath. Just like the other dozen or so times. This situation also created tension at home and is another reason why I tried to get Marion to see some sense.

"Sam, I have it all worked out. I will be fine. There is other money coming my way. I just need you to sign that paperwork."

"What do you mean other money?" I queried, taking a deep breath to calm myself as my anger spiked. This was new.  I thought back to all our conversations, and not once was it mentioned. "How come you never mentioned this before? Surely, you would disclose this information to me? I do have a share in this albeit in name only."

"Don't worry. I will be fine. Sign the paperwork and in three months time, your name won't be on the paperwork."

We were going in circles! Like all the other times, this conversation would not go the way I want it to. She continued to ignore everything I said to her. I was getting seriously pissed off at her but at the same time, I felt guilty for my attitude especially as she saw it as being negative.

All these factors combined, made me lose sleep. My insomnia was at a record high. As a result, my work suffered, along with my interactions with other people, particularly with my partner.

I didn't know what else to do or say. Marion had just recently got into the habit of not listening to any words of caution. The minute she heard something positive, she clung to it like it was a lifeline and ignored everything else. 

Being positive is well and good. But when there is a lot at stake, such as a huge debt, her sanity and her welfare. I would not let her get into this with only half an eye open.

Letting the size of the loan slide to the side for the moment, I shifted my focus to another element of her promise. She first said twelve months, now suddenly it was three months? What was all that about? How come in a space of a few minutes, she is promising that I would be free from any obligations in three months?

Racking my brains, I couldn't discern how that would be the case. Was she going to come into even more money? And even if this extra money shaved off a good portion of the balance, she would have to prove to the mortgage provider of her ability to service the loan. Now, I was no finance expert but I am pretty sure that having a job goes a long way to prove that she can be the sole buyer.

"So, what will the process be in three months time?" I finally asked, unable to leave it alone. I had to ask. I had to get it clear in my head and hers so that there were no surprises down the road.

"I will get your name removed. It might even happen in just a months time." She promptly responded.

"I don't understand how. Can you explain the process?"

I could see she was struggling to explain as she got more and more flustered. Finally, she gave up and asked me to talk to Brad. 

I would do just that and made a mental note to make an appointment to talk to her Financial Consultant. I needed to get clear answers. The way Marion was talking, everything was rosy and easy but my gut and past experiences told me otherwise.

My ringing phone and subsequent dash out the door to pick up my son from the train station ended the conversation. Once I had a bit more information, I would hash this out with her. Again! She had to understand what she was getting into and stop living in fairyland.

My chat with Brad cleared the air somewhat. It wasn't as easy peasy as Marion had made it out to be. As I suspected, she had to prove that she could service the loan. To do that, she had to have a full-time job and show evidence she would not be living on air. She would have to provide three months worth of payslips to prove her ability to service the loan. If the mortgage company did not like what they saw, it would take longer before she became a sole owner. Which made one year more realistic than the three months and it would definitely not happen in a months time.

There were other factors I, as an investor, would have to take into account. But I had enough information and facts to talk to her again. And I did. I made her cry, but she said nothing negative. She muttered, at one point, that she just wanted to own a house. Hearing that, I felt guilty all over again. I know I was doing the right thing, but I couldn't help feeling like I was letting her down.

So now, she has also made peace with the fact that she might never own her own property. She is hoping to work part-time as full time retirement is not for her. A part of her is also on the look out for a property with a smaller mortgage. Hopefully, she finds something soon and ends up fulfilling her dream.  

Copyright Tia J. Lee 2016
All Rights Reserved.

Photo from: Images_of_Money

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Book Review: e-Murderer by Joan C. Curtis

e-Murderer is a psychological suspense thriller, written by award-winning Joan C. Curtis who also wrote The Clock Strikes Midnight. It is a story about Jenna Scali and her determination to find a psychotic killer.

It all starts with a disturbing email. Assuming it was spam, Jenna thought nothing of it, until the news of a murder is published.  With each incoming email, the media report another murder, and it is not long before Jenna comes to the realisation that she is the next victim. She embarks on a sleuthing mission to find the killer before he strikes again.

The story drew me in from the start. Like Jenna, I work in an office and check my emails regularly throughout the day. Just the thought of getting emails which describe a murder, is chilling and nerve-wracking.

I thought I had figured out who the killer was. But as the story progressed, the tension and danger also intensified. Some of the other characters started to come across as guilty and this challenged my theory, keeping me guessing right to the end.

I can see how e-Murderer won first place in the Malice Domestic grants competition for new writers, as I thoroughly enjoyed this well-written story. I totally recommend it and I look forward to another Jenna Scali mystery.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Book Review: Obscured by Tara Sue Me

Obscured by Tara Sue Me is an intriguing and suspense-filled story. It is a story about secrets, hate, and desperation making the truth hard to see.

It is a story about Athena who, as a naive 16-year-old, gets lured into a world of prostitution and abuse by a man, she thought, she could trust. After ten years of trading her body for survival, she is desperate to get out of this lifestyle, yet she has no-one to turn to. Everyone appears shrouded by secrets and nothing is as it seems.

Tara Sue Me skillfully leads you through events in a very realistic manner.  As you manoeuvre through all the darkness, deceit, intrigue, and suspense, you try to figure out where the truth begins and where it ends. With every word, you connect with the characters and their flaws. You feel Athena's anguish, desperation, and hope.

Obscured is a well-written, fast-paced story which I enjoyed immensely.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Mini Vacation Washout

Having got to work, only an hour ago, I  impatiently looked at the time. Less than a minute had passed. Time crawled. I wanted out. I wanted to go home.

I spent some time contemplating my options. I didn't have any guts to head home now which meant sticking around for at least half the day. Maybe I could head off after the end-of-quarter staff lunch? Which happened to be at least three hours away. Till then, I would have to do something... anything to make the day go by quicker.

It's not like I had nothing to do. On the contrary, I had plenty. But, today happened to be my last day at work before starting my mini break and this holiday fever had me restless and my attention scrambled.

My phone rang. I pounced on it, eager to talk and perhaps shave off a few more minutes. I noticed the number on the display panel and silently groaned. My manager wanted an urgent report. His request brought an end to my procrastination.

I immersed myself in the task and got right into it. Once complete, I seamlessly moved to my to-do-list. On a roll, I nearly didn't hear the knock on the door. Looking up, I noticed James, a colleague, standing on the threshold.

"Sorry to interrupt you, but are you still able to help with the lunch?"

I wasn't able to. In fact, it was the last thing I wanted to do at the moment. But this morning, to make my day go quicker, I offered to help and now James stood at my door, to remind me of that offer.

"Sure", I replied. After saving my work, I left my office following him to the kitchen. I grabbed the salads and did anything else that the lunch organisers wanted me to do.

After lunch, the rest of the day seemed to fly by. Before I knew it, the time to clock off and start my holiday.

The plan was to spend the next few days by the beach. Sun, sand and my hammock with my Kindle and lots of sleep. My aim, in short, to be totally and completely lazy. Bliss!

Yea right! Nature was conspiring against me as it rained for the next six days. Not a shower or two, but a steady downpour. I did not see the sun and no lazying about on the beach. Instead, I found myself stuck indoors. Which wasn't a bad thing as I'd still be able to catch up on my reading and be lazy. But I couldn't seem to stop from staring gloomily out the window, praying that the rain would ease up. It didn't.

It wasn't meant to rain, especially now. Traditionally all we saw this time of the year was the sun and with it unbearable heat. It got so hot that it felt like you were baking in an oven.  But this year was a total let down with the weather being more monsoonal and out of character. The cause being a cyclone on the other side of the country.

Before I knew it, my holiday was over and work beckoned. I may not have gotten any colour, but I whittled down my reading list and caught up on everything I had to watch. And if I was being honest myself, it had been a relaxing time. Though the sun and warmer weather would have been the icing on the cake.

Copyright Tia J. Lee 2016
All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

I'm Hank Marvin (Starving)

The smell of grilled meat permeated the air. The aromatic marinades, enhanced by the smoky scent made my mouth water and my stomach rumble. It wasn't a small, quiet sound, this rumble had no intention of ever stopping... or being quiet.

I placed my hand over the embarrassing noises, merrily churning out, applying pressure, but it did nothing. Absolutely nothing!

I had hoped that the pressure of my hand, combined with the clenched stomach muscles, would stop the sound, but it was to no avail. The rumbles continued. One rolling into the next and with each new rumble, I swear, the volume got louder.

Shit! I sensed myself turn red. It felt like the whole street stared at me. But I refused to investigate. I mentally berated myself for not sparing five minutes to eat something... anything, like the apple sitting on my desk at work.

As much as I hoped that no-one had heard the off-key symphony, the rustling of a bag, right behind me, put a downer on that thought. Somehow, I knew that the rustling bag had to do with me.

What if they placed it over my head to shut me up?

Before I let that thought fester, a gnarly hand shot out, holding a bread roll. Mortified, the heat in my face intensified further. Fuck! 

One thing was clear, silence by suffocation wasn't on the cards today. But if the bread roll was anything to go by, everyone had got a load of the ruckus. How could they not hear? It was impossible to miss as it sounded like a train approaching a crossing or the station.

For a moment, I contemplated running away from the situation. If I ran a few blocks down, I might still catch my bus? Who was I kidding? I was as fit as a rock heading to the bottom of the sea. As much as I wanted to walk away from the embarrassing situation, the hour long wait for the next bus curbed any other crazy ideas.

The roll drew my attention again. It was hard not to miss such an offering. If anything, my stomach acknowledged it with another loud drawn-out rumble. Hunching over further, I tightened my already clenched muscles, all the while screaming silently to myself to shut the fuck up. I don't know why I even bothered to do that as it had no impact whatsoever.

I willed my eyes to focus anywhere but at the tempting morsel, focussing instead on the hand, as gaping at the food encouraged my belly to sing loudly, for it wanted a taste. The skin on the hand appeared transparent, making the blood vessels stand out like a road map. A map that led you through the many wrinkles, discolouration, right to the bread roll. The whole hand appeared old and tired, but the roll looked fresh and scrumptious.

The roll shook before my eyes.

Or was that my vision, or my hunger making me see things? Nope, the roll continued to move in an up-down motion as if to say, "Take it and stop making such a racket!"

Something prodded me in my back. As the 'prode' appeared to be in in sync with the motion of the hand, I assumed it was the same person, urging me to take the offering. Before the surrounding people decided to knock me to the ground and forcefully feed me, I reached out and took it, muttering my thanks.

Another loud rumble, followed by another sharp poke, made me abandon any further acknowledgement of thanks in favour of stuffing the roll into my mouth. Mouth full, face red, I chewed furiously, trying to get something down to appease my angry stomach.

A few seconds later, my bus arrived. Thank God! I couldn't wait to get away. As I got on, swiped my card and found a seat, I noted that no-one else got on which prompted me to glance out the window.

I expected to see a huge crowd but instead, only one other person stood at the stop. An old woman. Her snow white hair bowed down as she hunched over her walking frame holding a bag of rolls. As the bus began to pull away, she looked up and straight at me, her weathered face lit up with a smile. Her eyes kept mine captive for a moment and I raised my hand to wave.  The bus turned left, breaking my contact with her as she disappeared from sight.

The next day, I stood at the same bus stop holding a bag of rolls. I arrived early and waited for the woman to show up. She didn't. I waited for her every day for a month, but she didn't show up. Instead, each day, as I saw my bus approach, I took out a roll and snacked on it all the way home. 

Copyright Tia J. Lee 2015
All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Book Review: The Clock Strikes Midnight by Joan C. Curtis

The Clock Strikes Midnight by Joan C. Curtis is a heart-wrenching story of two sisters and how tragedy, betrayal and secrets tear their family apart.

The events and trauma of the past are overwhelming and to escape it, Janie runs away. Once she left the town, she never looks back. Instead, she starts a new life and in the process abandons her sister.  Marlene stays in the same town and tries to make her life work. But, she has issues. The release of their stepfather from prison and a ticking time bomb causes Janie to set things in motion and the sisters meet after twenty long years.

The suspense and mystery was a page turner and had me hooked. With every small revelation, I asked myself questions, one of them being, "Why would the mother marry a person like Ralph?" But as I kept reading, I formed my own conclusions, which turned out to be correct.

The characters draw you in. Their emotions, fears and secrets, slowly unravelling as the story progresses. Their past is hell and tragic. Their current situation is sad. Janie may have become a successful business woman, but her past haunts her; she has secrets. Marlene has issues of her own. Depressed, she also feels let down by her sister for leaving her to deal with the aftermath. Her emotions spiral out of control. One thing leads to another as she gradually loses control of herself.

Alternating between past and present, the story builds a picture of what the girls go through. The different points of view is clever. You get a deeper sense of the anguish and secrets that surround the two sisters. The mother's point of view is an eye-opener. The glimpse into her life is certainly interesting and worrying.

I loved everything about this book. It had a gripping storyline, elements of suspense and mystery.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Book Review: Zeke by Wodke Hawkinson

Zeke is a psychological thriller and is a very chilling and disturbing read. It is a dark story of sexual obsession, twisted motives, and evil. There were elements about it that made me cringe in horror.

The story is about Sue. A young and insecure woman who meets and is seduced, quite cleverly, by a handsome man, Zeke. Zeke seems to have it all. He is charming, confident and good looking. From the onset, it's apparent that he is up to no good. He is dangerous and cunning as he plays with the emotions of lonely and vulnerable people.

As the story progresses, his psychopathic personality comes to light. Everything he does is scary; the things he makes Sue do and how he manipulates her is chilling.

In the case of Zeke, beauty is skin deep. He is truly a scary and disturbing character. At times, I had to stop reading as the scenes were too gruesome. I felt I couldn't abandon Sue, and I kept going till I got to the end. This well-written story is certainly not for the weak-hearted. 

Monday, 19 October 2015

Book Review: Shallow Waters by Rebecca Bradley

When the naked, battered body of an unidentified teenager is found dumped in an alleyway, post-mortem finds evidence of a harrowing series of events.

Another teenage death with the same MO pushes DI Hannah Robbins and her team on the Nottingham City division Major Crimes Unit, to their limits, and across county borders. In a race against the clock they attempt to unpick a thick web of lies and deceit to uncover the truth behind the deaths.

But it doesn't stop there. When catching a killer isn't enough, just how far are the team willing to push themselves to save the next girl?

Shallow Waters by Rebecca Bradley is a really great read. It is fast paced, has great characters and a compelling yet dark storyline. It is about Detective Inspector Hannah Robbins and her team who are on the hunt for a killer. A killer who abducts, abuses, and murders young teenagers.

The tension builds with each page. So does the anxiety. The pressure, the suspense, the emotions of the characters and what they go through, all drew me in. I read the book as if I was part of DI Hannah's team. As the urgency to find the killer intensified, so did my need to keep reading. When I got to the end, I felt relieved but, I also felt extremely sad.

This well-written and disturbing story had me hooked right from the beginning. I look forward to another DI Hannah mystery.

Copyright Tia J. Lee 2015
All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Book Review: Uncaged by Paige Notaro

From the description, Uncaged by Paige Notaro sounded dark and gritty. It didn't quite get there for me, but I did find the story entertaining.

It is the story of a naive young girl who along with her friend head into Mexico. She then finds herself drugged and sold all because she innocently believed and trusted her so called friend. As the story unfolds, she understands that she has to take care of herself if she wants to survive the situation she finds herself forced into.

Her 'Owner' has Cartel connections. However, I must have missed something when reading it as I could not figure out what the connection was. He does come across as slimy and like most villains, untrustworthy. He does like illegal cage fights and he takes Georgia to one, and that is where she meets Andre.

Andre who has his own demons and is a lethal fighter, sponsored by the Cartel. Of course, he is one sexy man. He helps Georgia get away from her 'Owner' and subsequently they fall in love with other.

In order to protect her from the Cartel, Andre requests the help of his brother Dennis and his girlfriend Maria and together they try to keep her safe.

I found the story sweet and action packed, with a fair bit of conflict.

Copyright Tia J. Lee 2015
All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Book Review: Only For You by Genna Rulon

Only For You is Genna Rulon's debut novel. It is a well-written story revolving around two friends, Everleigh, and Sam, who are at university. They fear for their safety as attacks on female students is on the rise more so when they hear that the women are raped. The fear intensifies as the assaults escalate to murders.

Only For You  has it all: mystery, suspense, humour and love. You can feel the deep love between the two friends and the budding romance between Everleigh and Hunter.

Everleigh is a strong and brazen woman. Her sassiness and her interactions with others and Hunter, in particular, are both funny and entertaining as she tries to establish an upper hand with their verbal sparring. Her friendship is honest and no matter what the situation she stood tall and strong.

Hunter is a mystery at the start, but it wasn't long before I guessed what he represented. He is sexy, sweet, a martial arts expert, muscles galore, and he genuinely cares not only for Everleigh but others too.

Only For You  is a standalone book. It does leave you wanting to know what happens to the secondary characters, Sam in particular. I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading Sam's story in Pieces For You and her next two books in the For You series.

Copyright Tia J. Lee 2015
All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Dealing with Mr F*ckwit!

Anyone who has worked in an office is familiar with self-important people. Such people  want everything but seldom give anything back. In fact, these people are everywhere and not just in an office environment. It is want, want, want with them. They are quick malign a person's credibility and whine and complain about how unfair the system is being to them.

My workplace is no different. It is full of self-important people. There is one, in particular, who brings out the worst in me and others. Let me tell you one thing, I am the most placid person on earth generally looking for the best in any bad situation or person and most times, I try to justify their behaviour. So for me to want to want to slowly and painfully torture someone is huge and Anthony, is one person, who can bring me to the brink of murder within two minutes of talking to him.

Let me tell you a little bit about Anthony. He is of European descent and is egotistical, opinionated, overly critical, never wrong and the biggest gossip in the department. He has to be aware of every little thing. When he doesn't get what he wants, he is sarcastic and rude.

Any conversation with him generally revolves around sports, food and gossip. He has his funny moments too, saying such outrageous things, that you can't help but laugh. But, his mood changes so quickly that you are in danger of getting whiplash! When stressed, you get to see him at his worst. He can't handle pressure making it a challenge to work with him. 

When he is at his worst, his rudeness is off the charts. He is aggressive, in your face and doesn't hesitate to swear at people but only at people who aren't managers or even supervisors. So much for professional conduct at work! 

To make things worse, he is a manager. A senior leader of the company. Isn't a leader meant to inspire and connect with his team and help them fulfil their potential? Does he do all that? Absolutely not! The word on the floor is that he is one arrogant prick who has anger management issues.

Whenever I get together with my friends, they always ask me for Anthony stories. After the first few times, I thought they would get bored hearing about him — same attitude but different scenario — but they proved me wrong. And did I have a beauty for them when we caught up this Saturday! At the moment, it didn't seem like a good story. It felt like a huge rock sitting heavy on my chest.

The whole incident came about when I emailed a request to the team to purchase an item. I used the process I had been following for the last couple of years. Two days later, I got an email response stating that I need to raise the request via the system and that Anthony would show me the new process.

A couple of hours later, Anthony saunters into my office. With his hands shoved deep into his trouser pockets, he stood there and grunted once, twice, in a bid to get my attention. He then walked further into the room till he could see what I was working on. Not bothering to greet me or apologise for barging in, he blurted out, "So you need to do purchase order requests from now on. Not my team. You."

My stunned look of disbelief at his attitude and his non-existent explanation as to why the process had changed, did nothing to detract him from his monologue as he went on to say, "Open up the program and I will show you what you need to do."

"Now wait a minute Anthony, what do you mean I have to do it?" I blurted out. "All other departments have a designated officer so how come I don't get that same support?" I needed to know what I had done wrong or when the process had changed. I didn't recall coming across a memo advising of the change.

He shrugged as if to imply that he didn't care to explain himself, but I waited him out, one eyebrow raised in query.

"You just have to! Now open up the program." He commanded.

"Now what sort of answer is that? What brought about the change of process, a process that has been working for the last few years. And, I was in the middle of something very urgent." I said, making a point of highlighting his rudeness.

As I looked up at him from my seat, I took in his scowl. This whole encounter was going to get unpleasant.

"It is what it is and you just have to follow the new process. Everyone else is, so I don't see what your fucking problem is."

Each word uttered were like bullets, rapidly fired out with loud aggression, shredding holes in me. Great! Now everyone will think that I am being passive aggressive or that I had done something wrong. I did not stop and consider that they were thinking that he was a fuckwit for the way he was presenting himself.

Silently cursing myself for submitting to his wishes, I clicked on the program in question.

"If it's not going to take long, show me what I need to do." I replied in a level and calm voice. I was anything but. My inner boil was on and I could feel myself getting angry at his high-handedness and at his behaviour.

The next ten minutes did nothing to calm me. He was all over the place. Did he even know how to use the system? He clicked on one thing, then went to another as he tried to find the right screen, the right options.

I stopped listening to him and made a mental note, to check with others and with his manager to see what the process actually was. Not only was he wasting my time as he tried to figure out where I needed to go and what I needed to do, he was confusing me with contradicting instructions. I had to put a stop to all this; I couldn't take any more.

"Anthony, stop! You are confusing me. Have you any experience with the system?"

"Of course I fucking have." His demeanour was defensive and very aggressive. "You can't proceed with this anyway as the supplier is not in the fucking system. Get them added in and then we will talk. Fucking waste of time this was."

What the fuck! The nerve of the man. The bid to stay calm was now an uphill battle. And I was losing the battle.

"Okay..." I said stretching the word out, barely hanging onto my calm. "As I am not in accounts or in logistics, I don't know what the process is to add a supplier into the system. In the past, I left it to your team to organise and sort out. But now that the process has changed. I am now meant to be involved in every single step, so don't give me attitude and expect me to grasp things straight away."

"Do I have to fucking hold your hand the whole way through? You have been here long enough to realise that the suppliers have to be in the fucking system before we can purchase anything from them."

"Yes, I am aware of all that, but..."

"But what? You fucking go to accounts and give them the fucking details and they set it up. Once you have done that, send me a meeting request and we will continue this."

With that, he was out the door, storming back to his hole all the while muttering something that sounded suspiciously like 'fucking moron' or was it 'fucking bitch'?

No way was I going back for more. Not after that. He could go shove his dick up his arse for all I cared. I would get my training through other means even if it meant that I sacrificed what little precious time I had to teach myself the software.

Thankfully, there was no need for any self-tutoring. Once the accounts team confirmed that the supplier details were in the system, I spoke to the accounts manager to better understand the different codes required to complete my request. He was kind enough to come to my office and talk me through the process. It took barely three minutes of my time now that I understood the process. After I successfully submitted my first request, I had this childish urge to walk by Anthony's office and flip him the bird.

A few hours later, I found out from the department's gossip queens, that his manager had overheard his diatribe and issued a final warning notice. I also found out that the process had changed giving every single person within the company the ability to raise purchase order requests.

I went on holiday two days later, putting Anthony and the whole incident behind me. When I got back a three weeks later, the inter-office gossipers were quick to tell me all about Anthony's transfer to another department. Apparently, the transfer had shaken him and brought him down a peg or two. The rumours circulating, indicated that he was struggling to find another job so for the moment, he was behaving himself and watching his language. 

Copyright Tia J. Lee 2015
All Rights Reserved.