Here is a excerpt from my latest book, Just Relax. Psychological Fiction.
The consul with Karen and Chad went as well as to be expected. Karen asked the normal questions like where did Blair grow up? What do her parents do for a living? Where did she go to school? How many siblings does she have? Why the move to Winter Park? How long has she worked at Goldie? What is her role there? Then came the unwonted, intrusive questions like when did she become sexually active? How many boyfriends has she had? Why did they break up? Had she ever been in a volatile relationship? How many sexual partners has she had? Blair at one point stopped Karen holding her hand up asking. "Why is this important and any of anyone's business?" "I understand Blair but the defense will scour through your past to find anything they can possibly use to discredit you. It's not fair but it's allowed." After Blair answers all the history interrogations, Karen eases into the night in question, July 11th. Grace places her hand in Blair's holding it tight. This is her way of letting her know, it's okay. "When was the first time you met Daniel Holloway and where?" "Uh, I met him I believe last fall for the first time. I don't remember the date but it was at Goldie. Soma had been a client of Goldie's for about a year at that time." "Who introduced the two of you?" "Howard Simmons, the owner and CEO of Goldie." "Goldie Advertising Firm?" "Yes." "Mr. Simmons and Mr. Holloway are friends outside of business?" "I'm assuming they are because Howard said he's known Mr. Holloway for years." Karen continued. "The night you went to dinner with Mr. Simmons and Mr. Holloway, who else joined you?" "Sandy Simmons, Howard's wife and Delia Korbin, a top executive at Goldie." "Was it normal for you to attend client dinners?" "No." "Who asked you to go?" "Howard." "Did that strike you as odd?" "Yes and no. I was taking on more responsibility so I figured this was part of that." "You told Ms. Aman you rode to the restaurant with Delia. Is that correct?" "Yes." "What was the name of the restaurant?" "Flemings." "Was business discussed?" "Not much. Mr. Simmons and Mr. Holloway talked sports most of the dinner." "Where did Mr.Holloway sit in regards to you?" "He sat next to me. We were in a large round booth. He arrived after us so I don't think it was a strategic move. I was at the end. Howard was at the other end." "Was there anything abnormal about Mr. Holloway at dinner?" "Really only one thing stood out. He put his arm across the back of the booth and at one point touched my shoulder with his arm." "Mr. Holloway put his arm around you?" "No not around me but on top of the booth where I was seated. When he touched my shoulder, he raised his arm back up to rest on the booth seat again." "So did that appear to you as an accident?" "Yes at the time but now no." "Okay we can revisit that later. So you wrap up for the night and then what?" "Then someone mentions, I believe Sandy that Delia had to drive me back to Goldie. Mr. Holloway spoke up and offered to give me a ride back so Delia could head home. She lived in the opposite direction of Goldie." "Did that make you feel uncomfortable at the time?" "Uh, no not really. He was Howard's friend and Goldie's client. I guess like most, I surmised I was safe." "Okay, then what happened next?" "Oh yeah I forgot to tell you but he asked everyone at the restaurant if they wanted a to go cup for the remainder of their drink. I got one and Sandy got one. Delia and Howard were driving so they declined." "Lets go back. What were you drinking and how much did you have to drink?" "I had only one glass of red wine and I didn't finish it ergo the to go cup." "Go on." "We got into Mr. Holloway's car." "Do you remember the make and model of the car?" "Yes, it was a black Tesla but I don't know what model." " Two doors or Four doors?" "Four doors, the inside was also black. He started driving towards Goldie." "How far away was Goldie?" "Less than fifteen minutes. The conversation was normal. He asked me about my family. He asked why I moved to Winter Park." "What did you tell him about why you moved to Winter Park?" "I told him jokingly to get away from my mother. Now looking back I know that made me even more vulnerable. He asked if I minded if he stopped for gas. He was driving back to Miami the next morning I said no I didn't mind." "Did he go into the store?" "No but he did ask if I wanted a bottled water but I declined. He pumped the gas and then got back into the car. It was only minutes before I started to feel drunk." "Can you expand?" "What do you mean?" "So you felt fine when he pulled into the gas station but when he got back in the car and started driving, you felt like you had too much to drink?" "It was more than too much to drink. I felt wasted but not in a sick kinda way. Like no control over my body or my mind." "Do you think he drugged you at the gas station?" "I think so." "Where was your to go cup?" "In the center cup holder." "Do you remember having anymore to drink after you pulled into the gas station?" Suddenly something clicked for Blair. "No, but now that we are retracing that night. I bet he drugged me on the way to the gas station." "How, without you seeing?" "He was showing me buildings on the way. You know pointing to them and telling me the history." "So you think when you turned to look at the buildings, he slipped the Rohypnol into your wine?" "Yes and I think the reason he stopped for gas was to give the drug time to work." "Chad look up how long it takes for the effects of Rohypnol to take affect ." "What do you remember next?" "I don't know if this is even in sequence but I remember him leaning over me and telling me to just relax. I think we were still in his car but I honestly can't be sure." Blair looked over to Grace to make sure she was fine. Grace nodded for her to continue. "I remember stumbling down a hallway with floral wallpaper. It is the wallpaper in Grace's old home. The house he still owns here in Winter Park." "How did you put those two things together?" "We went to the house." "Who?" "Grace, Sophie and me." "What? How did you get in?" "Grace still had her garage remote and the garage door was unlocked. Didn't Diane tell you?" "Diane doesn't know this." "That's where we found more Rohypnol in his bedside drawer and Olivia's earring. The pair Grace had bought for her for her birthday." Grace confirmed what Blair told Karen. "We went there to see if the wallpaper was the same and to find my necklace." "What necklace?" "I was wearing a necklace that night from my friend's collection and when I got home, it was gone from around my neck. Mr. Holloway's housekeeper had found it according to her statement." "Okay, I will get all that information. Not to worry." "Then what do you remember?" " I fell into a metal trashcan that we spotted in his garage. The only other thing..." "What Blair, what is it?" Blair's head started to spin, the cut deep. "I, I, I, remember something." Tears pooled in her eyes as she looks to Sophie. "I remember him on top of me. I was exposed." "It's okay, take your time. This is good." Blair swallows hard. "My pants were off and my shirt was unbuttoned." "Anything else, anything." "He was laughing." "Laughing?" "Yes, like he was enjoying himself." Blair sprung to her feet and fled to the bathroom. Sophie ran after her. Grace stayed put with her head in her hands. Karen reached over and squeezed Grace's hand. "I'm sorry Grace." The room was quiet. "Why don't we take a break, maybe open the sliding glass doors and let some fresh air fill the room," Karen suggested. Blair composed herself and returned. "I'm ready, sorry. The only other thing I remember is waking up in his car, back at Goldie. He told me that I had fallen asleep. I got out of his car as fast as I could. I knew that was not true." "Chad, did you find out how quickly Rohypnol takes affect?" "Yes, it takes action in about fifteen minutes." "Does that sound about right to you Blair in regards to the time frame?" "No, it wouldn't have been working by then. He must have slipped it in at Flemings." "Blair when were you sure you had been sexually assaulted?" "That night I knew something terrible had happened but I only suspected. It wasn't until the next morning when I knew he raped me." "Were there visible signs, marks?" "No but I was very sore, you know down there." "Did you go to the doctor's?" "No, no I didn't. I was too ashamed. I was too scared."
The Tale Of Two Hollywoods
New project in the works
“Smile big,” they said. The lights were blaring and hot, sweat, snaking down my back. And I was shaking, as the actor, Hollywood royalty, playing my father was standing beside me discreetly caressing my butt. His middle finger casually sliding between my legs. He was forty-two. I was twelve.
Lesson one...what happens in Hollywood stays six feet under in Hollywood. It was an open secret that actors and industry people were involved in pedophilia, trafficking and other satanic practices that would horrify the average person. The person who longs to leave the world a little bit of a better place would fall faint over these terrible realities.
The symbolism of their sinister behaviors was in plain sight but most unsuspecting everyday people have no idea what lies beneath the surface.They aren’t awake. They have no clue who they are worshiping from afar. Why do you think they are called actors?
Merry, Merry was my first feature film starring two of Hollywood’s biggest movie stars, Thomas Caine and Juliet Rudy. I quite frankly stumbled blindly into this part. I had no professional training. No acting experience whatsoever. My mother took me to an open call for extras just for fun. It was exciting as a kid and magically every door opened for me. Voilà. Filmmaking is a cover for their abuse and it has been for decades. But at twelve you have no idea the threshold of hell you are about to step into.
“Cassidy Lee,” my mother called. “Come downstairs. I have the most exciting news for you. Hurry my darling.”
I was in my pink and black bathroom picking a piece of mozzarella cheese from my braces. I’d been walking around school for close to three hours with cheese stuck in one of my front braces from lunch. My mother had packed me pepperoni pizza from Pizza Hut. I could’ve died thinking about how Justin Harrow was staring at me in history. For a moment I thought he liked me but standing in that mirror I knew he probably was grossed out by the cruddy cheese. Life was hard at twelve. You were becoming, at least that was what your body was displaying but my mind hadn’t caught up with all the internal and external changes. I didn’t know yet who I was. Heck even now at forty-two, I still have some of those same lingering questions. Who are you? Where are you going? What are you doing? Those pesky little tugs are here with me right now.
My mother, Candace was my everything back then. She had a fearlessness that I admired and envied. “There is nothing stopping you Cassidy but you,” she’d say. Candace was a freed soul so I assumed back then. I’d come to the revelation later that none of us are entirely free in the sense we long for.
“You called mother? I laughed. “Oh, and no more packing pizza in my lunch!” She turned to face me, shrugged her delicate shoulders and said, “okay.” Candace didn’t need a lengthy explanation or one at all. If I didn’t want pizza, she respected my wishes. Done. “Guess what?” She said. “ Today in the paper was a small article about an open call for a big movie that is being filmed right here in Nashville. You meet the required age group. Would you be interested in going on Saturday?” Candace opened the oven, pulling out a roast that had been cooking. “For what? I asked. “I don’t act.” “I know but I thought it would be fun, something different, a new experience,” she smiled persuasively. I trusted my mother with every fiber of my being. She was always in my corner so if Candace said it would be fun, I was down.
“Sure, why not. What does an extra do, exactly?” “Well typically extras are sitting at surrounding tables in a restaurant or walking through an airport. Extras are like backdrops to a scene. They don’t act, they just help to make the scene look real. Who knows maybe we’ll see your face on the big screen.” My first thought was hopefully without mozzarella cheese stuck in my braces.
Justin Harrow was the most beautiful boy I’d ever laid eyes on. My first crush. He was taller than me by almost four inches, close to five foot, six inches tall. He had salty blonde hair and emerald eyes that could light up Iceland’s night sky. I’d purposely sit one row behind and chair over so I could gaze at his perfect profile. Every so often he’d look back, our eyes meeting for a brief moment, heat rising up in my face. I would break eye contact and scribble something like the word idiot across my notepad to look as though I was taking notes in class. I longed for Justin to like me without him knowing I liked him first.
When I turned twelve, Candace had set me down for the birds and the bees talk, her words not mine. “What do birds and bees have to do with it?” I asked. She’d laugh, head back, displaying her perfectly aligned white teeth. She never answered that question but she did plenty of others. “It’s normal for you to feel “tingly” when you like someone.” Check! She explained that any day my period would come and a week later, it did. She took me shopping to celebrate womanhood. Candace was an expert on removing stigma and fears. She stood outside her bathroom, cheering me on as I inserted my first tampon. She said to stay away from light colors during my cycle and always be prepared in advance,aka menstrual calendar. Candace walked me through this foreign world one small step at a time.
My father had died from an aneurysm when I was eight. He was forty three, just four years older than my mother. He died sitting behind his desk at his office. My father was the manager of Chet Rich, Dylan Ray, and Southern Tide. Three of country music’s biggest songwriters and hit makers. His funeral was like the Who’s who of Nashville. Right at the time of his death, they had been trying to get pregnant. My mother wanted me to have a sibling but it just wasn’t God’s plan, she’d say. I only remember seeing my mother cry a total of three times during that eerie first year. Death is a strange experience. In the mornings, my father would wake us up by playing the piano downstairs. The day after he died, we woke up to painful silence. Where did he go? I’d wondered. Is it possible he’ll come back to us. Everything was weird and frightening like a sink hole had appeared under our house or a Poltergeist lingered. His toothbrush remained in the holder. His cologne on the dresser. His clothes are in the closet. His guitar next to the fireplace. It felt incredibly morbid to keep his things and utterly cold to give them away. The wrestle is very real when someone you love is gone. Although we knew my father was in Heaven with Jesus, it still broke our hearts to pieces.
Four years after my father’s death and Candace still could not bring herself to date. “Dad is watching us. It would be like cheating on him and I would never cheat on your father, “ she’d say with a hurting smile. Another stellar quality in my mother, loyalty.
So I became her everything which looking back now was not healthy for either of us. It’s a lesson I have learned more than once. People, our people are just on loan and we don’t know for how long so hold everything with open hands. Steer clear from codependency. It will rob you of your identity.
Secrets make you sick
Do you believe in divine intervention or in just mere coincidences? Jennifer Holloway is at home recovering from her third miscarriage. She finds a small white pill between her husband's car seats. The sun shines through the windshield and spotlights the mysterious pill just so.
Blair Talise is invited to her first company dinner and offered a ride back to her office by the CEO of her company's largest client. Little did she know, he would inconspicuously slip a small white pill into her drink and sexually assault her.
While grappling with what to do and who to tell, Blair befriends her new neighbor, Grace. A single wall dividing their units, she can hear Grace crying in the night. Dark secrets will soon be revealed when Blair and Grace find out they have much more in common than just living at the historic Cloister.