So, in an effort to work with the “plan,” I’ve been working on some of the pieces that I need to get another book out there.
Mostly… I’ve been trying to come up with a summary for Nickel and Dime.
So far, my attempts have been:
Effie Lincoln owns a secondhand store and has a weakness for vintage clothes. Business hasn’t been great, and her habit of taking the best of the clothes for herself doesn’t help.
Her real problem has nothing to do with the store or her addiction to getting more clothes.
It’s her name.
She’s always hated it, but she never expected it to get her killed, either.
Which was a bit disconnected and everything, so I tried again with this:
Effie Lincoln has always hated her name, but she never expected it to get her killed.
Now, though, a case of mistaken identity has forced her from her home and beloved secondhand store. On the run for her life, her only protection a man who’s more dead than alive, what Effie would really like to know is why.
Who was this other Euphemia Lincoln, and what did she do that’s going to get Effie killed?
So now, feel free to give an opinion on either summary, and if you’d like to see more of the story, keep reading.
Pain didn’t lead to answers. They should have known that by now, but someone clearly hadn’t gotten the message. It would have been simpler if they had. It would have been nicer if they had. It wasn’t drugs. It wasn’t pain. None of that was going to get them the answer that they wanted—nothing would. He was sure of that. He could hold out beyond this. They were fools to think he wouldn’t. He had training. He had a high pain tolerance.
Most of all, though, he didn’t know the answer.
“Give us the location, and we will let you go.”
“I told you; I don’t have it.” It didn’t matter what he said. They weren’t going to believe him. He could tell them the truth; he could make up any of a dozen lies, but they weren’t going to accept that. He would still get hurt. They’d still think they could make him tell them more than he had. They were going to try and force that last bit of information from his dying breath, and what good would it do anyone? He couldn’t change their mind—and he was not going to last long enough for any of it to matter.
He was just a delaying tactic—he’d known that from the moment he got the assignment. He’d never really be in charge of this thing, but they wanted people to think he was. He was, simply put, expendable. He could make it all go away if he held out long enough for them to think that what he finally gave them was the truth, and then they’d chase after wild geese, right off into the sunset. He liked that idea, liked it a lot.
“You could make this pain stop.”
“It tickles, actually.”
“You do not impress me with your false bravado, Agent. It has come time for the truth. Only that location will allow you to live. If you do not give it to me, I will kill you.”
He knew that. He was fully expecting to die when this was all said and done. It was a waste, but if he was going to believe in a greater cause, in the greater good, he would have to believe that what he was doing was worth his life. The sacrifice was not that great. He would be okay with it. He wasn’t that great of a resource in the first place—lousy agent, lousy human being. “Sorry, I’ll pass.”
The interrogator grabbed him by the hair and jerked his head back. “You cannot hold out forever. You will see the need to end your suffering, and when you have, you will give me the answer I seek.”
“Yeah, sure. And I’ll tell you I gave it to my girlfriend.”
“Real piece of work. Kind of crazy. Touched in the head, I think. Makes for an interesting relationship,” he said, laughing. He didn’t have a girlfriend, but they were clearly desperate enough to hold onto anything he might say as a possibility. They’d go looking for a woman in his life, and they’d find only the old woman next door with all the cats.
“Give me her name.”
“Come on. I don’t have a girlfriend. I can’t believe you fell for that. Who has time to date in our business? Hmm? Or do you have a wife and kids back home?”
The blow that followed that remark almost knocked him out of the chair he was strapped to. They’d started with the drugs, but when that didn’t work, they’d gone for pain. It wasn’t working, either. He’d had worse, though they probably didn’t know that.
The man stepped on his fingers, and he heard them snap as he looked up. Nice. Well, he’d be dead soon enough, so fingers weren’t that important. “I still don’t know where it is. Can we just get this over with already?”
“Give us the name of the woman.”
“Weren’t you listening? There is no woman.”
They unstrapped him from the chair, took him to the middle of the room and chained his hands above his head. He stared at the bindings, aware that he was probably going to get very familiar with a horse whip soon. Lovely.
He lost count of the blows against his back, but they only barely outnumbered the amount of times that he was asked the same questions over and over again. He still couldn’t tell them where it was. He couldn’t give them a name. The woman didn’t exist. He really didn’t have a girlfriend. He should never have made that joke, clearly.
“You still refuse to cooperate?”
“You could get to the merciful part already and kill me. That would be fine. I keep telling you—I don’t know where it is. I don’t have it. And there is no woman.”
“Give me a name, and I will give you the mercy of a quick death.”
“Oh?” he considered for a moment. That had some appeal; he had to admit. He thought about it for a minute. “Okay. I can give you a name.”
He nodded. “Yeah. I will. And it’s a good one. Really.”
“Effie Lincoln,” he answered, giving them the name of a scandalous and long dead actress with a laugh. The blackness came almost before the next blow.