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Murder by Hair Spray in Gardenia, New Atlantis (MF)

New Atlantis Trilogy, Book 1

Siren-BookStrand, Inc.

Heat Rating: SIZZLING
Word Count: 106,613
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[Siren Classic: Erotic Futuristic Paranormal Romantic Suspense]

In 2051, Atlantis is no longer a legend. The risen antediluvian land has been colonized by rebels who battled for freedom against the Global Elite.

New Atlantis Sheriff, Kalypso Sun Wing, has survived the sterile fifties' suburbs, the revolutionary turbulence of the sixties and the disco guru seventies. After the suicide of the man she loved, Kalypso barely survived the designer eighties or the fast-forward nineties. Watching Atlantis rise from the ocean she realized her destiny.

Zerculeon, Zryphus Vasquoz, chose an enforcement career with Earth's Federal Union. He is fascinated with primitive worlds and wants to make his own way outside the family heritage. Once he gets an eyeful of the beautiful Sheriff, as they investigate the Hair Spray serial murder, Zryphus knows he's found his one woman, despite her cold disinterest.

When the Hair Spray Killer stalks Kalypso, Zryphus won't let her out of his sight, or his bed. They realize those controlling the Killer's leash will use every evil to win world dominion.

A Romantic Times American Title IV Finalist

"I first heard about Atlantis, the legend of a mighty land lost to catastrophe, as a kid. The name Atlantis was like a magic breath pouring into my body. I couldn't wait to discover everything about the antediluvian realm. With the benefit of hindsight, I believe writing about New Atlantis, and the love story of Kalypso and Zryphus, was destined." ~ Savanna ~
 
A Siren Erotic Romance

Professional Reviews

4 BLUE RIBBONS: "Savanna Kougar has a style all her own comprised of a vivid imagination, a complex plot and snarky dialogue. Kalypso and her fellow inhabitants of Gardenia moved to New Atlantis for freedom, so it’s no surprise that they’ll do whatever it takes to avoid a takeover. Kougar pokes fun at many generations from Kalypso’s past, but not so far in the past for readers and fills the plot with over-exaggerations that amuse, but at the same time point out the lengths to which people will go for power. She handles the relationship between Kalypso and Zryphus deftly. While not being love-at-first-sight, they spend 24 hours a day together during the investigation, so it’s logical they end up in bed. Kougar uses her erotic scenes judiciously as well: they’re stimulating and exciting but don’t over shadow the plot. If you’re in the mood for a madcap adventure with some suspense and romance thrown in, the MURDE R BY HAIR SPRAY IN NEW GARDENIA, NEW ATLANTIS will serve nicely. Kougar has created a nice balance of serious and comic in this tale, and I hope she writes a sequel soon." -- Katherine, Romance Junkies Reviews

4 ANGELS: "The quirky futuristic world Savanna Kougar has created in Murder by Hairspray in Gardenia, New Atlantis makes for one fun read...Murder by Hairspray in Gardenia, New Atlantis was a Romantic Times American Title IV finalist, and I can see why. A book of epic proportions, I loved the verbal scrapping between Kalypso and Zryphus as they vied for dominance...The mystery and suspense intrinsic to the story worked to draw me in and kept me reading, all the way to the very end. And what an end it is! I'm hooked and will definitely read the sequel." -- Merrylee, Fallen Angel Reviews

Excerpt


STORY EXCERPT



The evil cloud of hair spray dominated the air in guest room 666 at Gardenia’s only motel, The Eternal Magnolia—so named because it was surrounded by a park-like acre of Magnolia trees, saved despite the cataclysmic weather, wars and land changes on Earth.

“Reminds me of seventh grade, after gym class. When I avoided the noxious fumes of spurting hair spray,” Sheriff Kalypso spoke to her deputy.

“We sure can’t go in yet. Till some of this evil stuff airs out,” Deputy Anna agreed. Holding up her Video Multi, she stood in doorway, scanning the room before they entered.

“Lucy,” Sheriff Kalypso yelled, her voice aimed toward Gardenia’s only enforcement van, parked near the bottom of the steps. “You got International linked up yet?”

“The operator’s comin’ on shortly,” Deputy Lucy hollered up.

“Track down the Agent-slash-agency that’s in charge of the Hair Spray Serial Killer, will ya?  Anna, you finished scanning yet?”

“Almost, Sheriff. Large number of odor pixels installing now for later analysis at the lab. Looks like two males so far. One she entertained, sexual wise, that is—nothin’ kinky I can pick up, though.”

“Too bad. The Tribune needs a sensational story,” Sheriff Kalypso half-joked, half-mocked.

“Murder by hair spray isn’t kinky enough?” Anna drawled. “Hell’s little bells, Marzzie would dance one of her jerky bar jigs on top of her news table.”

“We’ll give her whatever exclusive we can. But I gotta feeling the Federals are gonna request some private investigation time. Unless it’s a copycat? Other than who she was with, any of our people been in the room since our victim occupied?”

“Naw—only with her and trace genes from before. Elsie’s cleaning crew looks like.”

“When exactly did Elsie’s assistant click on the room camera?”

“Barb got concerned when the guest, now victim, didn’t ring down for breakfast. She’d been here for an old-fashioned week, and always rang at eight. Waffles with fruit, rice milk and dark chocolate souffle. Barb clicked on at about eight thirty. Took her a time to find the body on the floor. Medical monitor never chimed emergency. She did a med scan immediately, then called us.”

“Yeah, our poor victim is stiff as a board with hair to match, apparently.” Sheriff Kalypso carefully stepped into the guest room, gazing around for any detail the Video Multi couldn’t retrieve. “Go ahead, deputy. Video her body as is.”

“This hair spray stench is demonic, I swear. One can of the stuff is by the body, Sheriff. Looks new. But this nasty crap hasn’t been made for several decades.” With meticulous precision the deputy scanned the face-down victim, inch by inch. “She was gone in sixty seconds. Death by hair spray asphyxiation.”

“Any chance of a blast from the past? That stuff is highly flammable. I remember reading it on the back of the cans.”

“Don’t light a candle for her,” Anna suggested, her tone pure irony. “She was definitely here to have a private good time. Multiple sex partners. Most of them male. Earth human or hybrid human.” Anna inhaled sharply. “Oh my Goddess! She was with child. Twelve days since conception.”

“Still viable?” Sheriff Kalypso moved toward the corpse.“Checking status.”

The hair spray victim was a small slender woman with  mother-of-pearl skin. She wore an early sixties Jackie O blue shift and pumps, with the hair style to match.

“Shellac for the hair,” Sheriff Kalypso commented. Kneeling, she sat back on her haunches, observing the body. “Shiny and not one strand has moved.”

“We have a two hour window, if we can round up the proper womb incubator.”

“Sheriff,” Lucy hailed from the doorway. “Head Agent Vasquoz will be here by portal, to quote ‘soon as I’m shaved and down a cup of coffee’.”

“I take it Vasquoz is male and didn’t mean his legs. Lucy, get Dr. Victoria up here now. We need her expertise. Tell her we have a viable twelve day pregnancy. Then go meet ‘Head Agent Vasquoz’ for me.”

“Sure as shootin’ fish, Sheriff.” Deputy Lucy athletically ran down the steps, already signaling Dr. Victoria with her Handheld.

“You know Georgia’s been seeking a viable fetus. She’s in the mood for motherhood again. And she’s the best.” Deputy Anna completed her corpse scan. Leaning back on her calves, she studied the results as they appeared on screen.

“She is the best. I didn’t know she was seeking again. Though, I hate to put her through the process if there’s another claim on file. You know how heart-vulnerable she is.”

“Yep, she is. Let’s see what Dr. Victoria recommends. Sad, haven’t had a murder in over a year. And the last case was a boundary dumped body...an escaped rapist.”

“Yeah, nothing to mourn there, except his soul and his family.”

Sheriff Kalypso frowned. “Our Jackie O’s real identity hasn’t even popped yet. We may not own the time to find out who she is.”

“Sheriff,” Anna crooned with excitement, and absolute surprise, “the fetus is Venutian hybrid, female. Someone wanted our victim pregnant.”

“Yeah, the bio father wanted her pregnant. Or it never would have happened. Check the International missing partner list. Venutians are extremely protective.”

“Checking. Unless it was done by nefarious deception.”

“Absolutely on target, Anna, thanks. The perpetrators could have stolen the semen, treated it with the right bio hormones, then inseminated her.”

“Whoever she is. Her ID still hasn’t popped. She was taking whole-food pregnancy nutrients.”

“Why would a woman who knows she’s pregnant, using natural nutrition, even come close to decades-old hair spray?” Sheriff Kalypso stood, studying the woman’s body for a moment. “I’m looking around for any form of ID.”

“The Vid Multi picked up a  personal bag in the bottom chest drawer.”

Watching her step, Sheriff Kalypso moved to the small bureau.  “It’s not just her hair. She’s entirely coated with the stuff. But lightly, like an artist’s touch.”

“Like a death portrait. Great moons away. Some poor artist type gone round the bend for whatever good reason. And there are a lot of good reasons in this world.”

“Conform or it’s time for a psychological lobotomy. Could be. Or it could be the killer gene was stimulated, like during the Conflicts.”

“The super soldiers, bred to be killers, and hyped up on adrenaline. You had to blast their heads off to stop them,” Deputy Anna recalled.

“Sheriff,” Dr. Victoria hailed from the doorway. “How do I help?”

“Stay there. Anna will show you her results. We’ll go from there.”

“Sheriff,” Anna summoned. “Got an ID on one of the males in here. Brody...Lavern’s son.”

“Crap and snap! He’s only sixteen. Ring Lavern. Have her bring him to the constabulary office. I’ll get Woodson to talk with them. He can get the full story out of most anyone, the easy way, with no harsh chemicals involved. Woodson, that you?” Sheriff Kalypso spoke into her wrist vid unit.

“Yeah, Sheriff. What’s going on at the motel? The town’s buzzin’ like a beehive.”

“Keep it on suppression, deputy. Nasty scene. Need you to work your dialogue magic with Brody. He was here. Might have shared some saliva and seed. Keep it friendly for now. No use stirring up a hornets nest of feelings yet.”

“Will accomplish, beautiful. Let you know if I discover what you need.”

“Thanks, Woodson. Later.” Sheriff Kalypso slid on her working gloves, then used one finger to open the bottom drawer, just in case the vid scan hadn’t picked up all the evidence. The bag perfectly matched the woman’s pumps. Since it was unlatched, she gingerly opened it wider. She could see makeup, lipstick, and grooming accessories, all early 60's period reproductions. Then, as she leaned over peering deeper inside, she spied the piece of folded up paper, a rarity these days.  Especially because it didn’t look like a love letter reproduction, a trendy sentiment currently.

Nope, it was plain white note paper, the kind the Sheriff knew about. She’d had a recent birthday, turning one hundred years old. As a shared joke, one hundred cupcakes had been delivered to her from the people of New Atlantis, each with its own tiny candle. Actually, the pastel candles had been  miniature fireworks’ sparklers. She’d lit them all, one at a time, at the impromptu party her friends had insisted on.

“Anna, you and Victoria decide on anything yet?”

“We need to turn her over, Sheriff, for removal. Location of the fetus,” Dr. Victoria explained. “The vitals indicate survival in a temp incubator will be for thirty minutes, only.”

“Anna, did you talk to Dr. Victoria about Georgia’s possible availability?”

“We have Georgia on contact now,” Anna answered. “She’s willing. Understands the hybrid genetics. Says she’ll be a surrogate if necessary. But does want the child.”

“Let me check what’s on this piece of paper, in case there’s ID info.” Sheriff Kalypso unfolded the strip of paper, which had been precisely creased four times. There was only one handwritten word or name, Beatrice. “Beatrice,” Sheriff Kalypso spoke. “That’s it, all that’s written here. Go ahead, remove the fetus for Georgia.”

“Sheriff.” The man’s voice commanded first, and announced his presence second. “Sheriff Kalypso Sun Wing.”

“Yeah, that’s me.” Turning, Kalypso’s gaze gave no quarter, hard as diamonds on the outsider. “Agent...?” Dang it to hang, he was a tall and broad drink of water. She’d expected the usual tight-ass wimp, with grim lips and eyes that were mirrors, reflecting nothing but the orders the been given. No, this man burned with sheer vitality. His gaze assessed, a damn force of nature. She’d bet if she struck a match and tossed it toward his eyes, they would sizzle like her birthday candles, then explode at his will. Yep, he was definitely a whole load of nano dynamite, unlit.

“Agent Zryphus Dolen Vasquoz,” he answered. “Give me your evidence retrieval. I’ll take over from here.”

Audible gasps burst from Anna and Dr. Victoria at the man’s patriarchal and patronizing tone.

“No, you won’t, Agent Vasquoz. You’re here at my invitation. Only. You follow my rules or you don’t get to play ‘Find the Hair Spray Killer’. Do you understand?”

“Wowzi Powzie,” Deputy Anna whispered, watching her vid screen light up with the sparks flying between the Sheriff and the outsider Agent.

“It’s a Federal Union case, Sheriff. I have priority investigation.” The Agent’s gravelly deep voice filled the entire room.

“You have nothing, Agent. Unless I say so. You can turn around, hit the portal. Or you can cooperate. You’ll have full access. Anna will give you all she’s retrieved so far. If you want, I’ll even act friendly, let you ‘analyze’ this bag more closely.” Sheriff Kalypso approached, a lioness with no fear. “I’ll even sweeten the pot, Agent Vasquoz—let you do a quick exam of the body before we save the fetus. As they used to say, deal or no deal?”

“Whirlwind in the room,” Deputy Anna whispered to Victoria, who still watched her vid screen.

“Deal. For now, Sheriff.” Focusing his gaze like a cannon laser, the Agent straightened his over-large shoulders, his latent power obvious.

“Pull anything against my authority, Agent Vasquoz, and I guarantee you won’t like the results. Deputy, feed your vid evidence to the Agent’s data base, will you, please?”

Once Anna stood, he handed his data vid to her without looking. His gaze relentless, Agent Vasquez followed the Sheriff’s arm wave to the corpse. Moving easily in the small confines of the room, despite his size, he knelt with deliberate care, scrutinizing every detail of the body.

Sheriff Kalypso couldn’t deny his concentration was  impressive. She watched him turn the victim over with gentle precision.

Awed, her heart tripping rapidly, Sheriff Kalypso moved closer. “Even her face resembles Jackie O.”

“How do you know?” Agent Vasquoz demanded, not looking up.

“I was born in 1951. Check out your history data base, Agent.”

“Call me Zryphus.”

He stood, gradually moving around the corpse. His gaze never deviated until he halted, and faced Sheriff Kalypso. Immediately, she nodded toward Anna and Dr. Victoria. Kneeling, they worked as a team, rescuing the fetus.

“Got an ID on her, Zryphus?” Kalypso ignored his intense study of her.

“I know who she is. Vrilesa Corzinski. We’ve been looking for her ever since she disappeared. She fits the Hair Spray Killer’s profile. Before she discovered her ability to bear children easily, she was an elite prostitute. Baby-making is a  premium moneymaker in some circles.”

“Who reported her ‘disappearance’?”

“Her brother. He became suspicious of an ongoing vid relationship she had. He was worried when she just packed, and went on vacation, and wouldn’t confide where. He claimed it was unusual behavior for her, even when she was pregnant.”

“Then there would be parents for the fetus.”

“No one on official record. She may have just conceived, and decided to keep the pregnancy.”

“Twelve days ago. A Venutian hybrid is the father. That doesn’t add up to a ‘let’s have sex fun’ conceived child. Unless you know something I don’t.”

“Point accepted, Sheriff. May I call you Kalypso?”

With the fetus safe, Anna grinned and checked her vid. Sure as the sky, the Agent’s voice suddenly registered as masculine velvet.

Kalypso hesitated. Dang and wolf’s fang, was he putting the moves on her? “Why not? We try to stay friendly around here.”

“Fake charm or real charm?” Dr. Victoria whispered.

“He’s for real,” Anna spoke near her ear.

“Now that I have new leads, Kalypso, I’ll research later, discover if there are waiting parents. Where’s the victim’s handbag?”

“Down in that drawer. I used gloves, and had a look inside. Found this folded piece of paper at the bottom.” Sheriff Kalypso handed over the evidence. “If the handwriting doesn’t belong to our victim, your resource base is larger than ours. I expect full knowledge of whatever you find out.”

“Mutual giving. It’s a deal,” the Agent purred, his meaning obviously beyond investigative cooperation. He gazed down at the unfolded paper, as if it could be the key to solving his case.

“Mean anything to you?” Sheriff Kalypso finally prompted.

“No. Not any connection to a ‘Beatrice’ that I’ve come across.”

“We have a volunteer surrogate for the fetus.” She arched a brow. “Do you object?”

“I can’t offer a surrogate soon enough. No, Kalypso, I don’t object. What autopsy methods do you have here?”

“Dr. Victoria, let me know how insertion goes, will you?”

“Sure, Sheriff. On my way.”

“We have machine autopsy. Holo program or real cutting. Our town butcher knows her way around the human body. She worked forensics in Chicago before the permanent break up of the United States. You got a preference?”

“Start with Holo. From my examination it looks like ‘the Hair Spray Killer’. Not a copycat.”

“Anna, give a holler to Deputy Lucy. You two take the victim to autopsy after you’ve scanned her clothing, and all her personal items. Once the Agent and I have satisfied each other on the collection of evidence, I’ll check in.”

“Sure as fire, Sheriff. Sorry, bad joke. No sparks allowed in here with all these fumes. Heck, the corpse could still explode from all that hair spray covering her. We’ll keep the ride real cool.”

“Lost several of our victims that way, Kalypso. One static spark before we arrived, the body burned,” Zryphus seriously stated. “Leave the hair spray can here. I need to do an analysis.”

“How many victims so far?”

“Twelve. If this proves out, it will be unlucky thirteen. Or lucky thirteen. I have a feeling you’re a very persistent woman.”

“Truth, justice. That’s our way here, Zryphus. Play it that way, we’ll get along. Once Deputy Anna finishes scanning, you can take her data, or follow in her footsteps, and get your own.” She eyed him, wondering if he was a wolf dressed in wolf’s clothing, as he appeared. There was no pretense of wearing sheep’s clothing that she observed. “Do you usually work alone?”

“Back up team for forensics, investigation. Yes, I work alone. No partner. You’re the exception, Kalypso. Let’s investigate the contents of her handbag together.”

“From what I can tell. the makeup and lipstick cases look like replicas of the early sixties era. We have lab verification and analysis, if you want use of it.”

“Let’s see what we’ve got first.” Agent Zryphus carefully dumped out the handbag’s contents. After scanning each item, he professionally murmured, “Just her prints and bio cells. Take a look at the lipstick. Is it the color she’s wearing?”

“Wouldn’t your scan data verify that?”

“Wrongly phrased. You’re the period expert. I wanted your impression of how real the lipstick and the makeup itself are to your recollection.”

Sheriff Kalypso uncapped the lipstick. “It’s been ages, but it looks real. Smells real. Not the same color she’s wearing.”

“The color of lipstick has been the same on each victim. Never found a container.”

“How could you tell on the burned victims?”

“Enough residue remained for holo reconstruction. Take a look inside the other cases,” he suggested.

“Why the nice treatment, Zryphus? I was dirt under your shoes when you first arrived.” Sheriff Kalypso did some burning of her own while she picked up the mascara wand. “Black, black. Just like I remember.”

“Sheriff,” Deputy Anna called out, “finished the personal item scan. Got the body ready for transport. We’re on our way. I’ll leave the door open. Keep airing the room out.”

“Thanks, Anna. You know where I am.” Kalypso picked up a compact case, solid rich elegance in design. Opening it, she studied the pasty heavy covering. “Looks real. But I never used this stuff. Couldn’t stand it. I used the sheer version they came out with, when I used makeup.

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