• Shereen Vedam

Storytelling Time: Death Shifts Gears – Chapter 1 Part I

Genre: Urban Fantasy Mystery

Book: Death Shifts Gears


Finding out you’re a Grimm, with a legacy to uphold is pretty cool. Learning there are actual demons that want to kill you and innocents to protect? Well, that’s a little scary. But when you’re suddenly responsible for two little kids who need uniforms, are missing their mom, need food on the table every morning, noon, and night, and look up to you for guidance? Now, that’s terrifying!

In this next story, Abbie is coming to grips with her new role as a single parent, which includes finding the funds to care for three instead of just one, when a possible Grimm problem falls into her lap. Is she up for the challenges? Let’s find out.

Read the excerpt from Death Shifts Gears below to check out Abbie’s reaction to her latest dilemma. Oh, and also, her car needs fixing! Could you handle the stress of so many life changes rolling your way?


Excerpt from:

Death Shifts Gears

Genre: Urban Fantasy Mystery

(c) Shereen Vedam

Chapter 1, Part I

Matthew Robert Livingston, the late Earl of Ashford and Abigail Grimshaw’s new BFF and shadow, leaned on a walking stick as he pointed a ghostly finger across the street. “Isn’t that Constable Denby, Miss Grimshaw?”


“Yes,” Abbie said, as she exited the Chevening Parish Council Chamber doorway on Beaconfields. “Wonder what he’s doing here?”


Ducky Denby was stationed in her home village of Chipstead. Head down, he was currently standing on the pavement, reading on his mobile, and eating a taco.


“He is in uniform, so he is not here taking the air on his day off,” Robert added, sounding quite knowledgeable on the subject. Until the night he met Abbie at St. Michael’s graveyard, Robert had never met a “paid” policeman.


Volunteer constables, yes, even a Bow Street runner-for hire. Policemen, ones who were employed to work to solve crimes, had been a startling concept to an earl who had died before such modern practices were introduced in England.


Abbie lost interest in wondering why Ducky was here and searched the street for a sign of her brother Bran. He was due to pick her up here and take her to her kids’ school. She didn’t want to be late.


George Punai, her kids’ uncle, had given Abbie full guardianship of them after a shove from a furious goddess he’d wronged. Then, DCI Callum Radford gave a written endorsement of Abbie’s petition for full parenting rights and the family courts gave their stamp of approval, subject to regular reviews and certain conditions.


As Callum signed the court papers, he had warned Abbie that with his recommendation, there could be no possibility of them having a relationship other than a business one or they’d risk the courts believing he was biased. He’d glanced up with a crooked smile as he spoke, suggesting he was joshing.


She hoped so, for she fancied dating the handsome Scotsman. Each time she was tempted to call him, however, the memory of his quip had stopped her in her tracks.


A car’s roar drew their attention to a red Jaguar that sped down the lane before it slid to a smooth halt before Abbie.


Bran had arrived. He didn’t own expensive cars but he drove them well. This must be another one that belonged to his boss.


Ducky gave the Jaguar’s shiny bonnet an envious glance. Then he tucked his mobile away, tossed the empty taco wrapping into a public bin, and strode away with purpose. Within two steps, he jerked, in immediate danger of smacking into a tree. Flashing them a sheepish grin, he circumvented the trunk and carried on.


Robert glided in through the Jaguar’s rear door, while Abbie opened the low-slung vehicle’s front passenger door and relaxed into its cushy dark leather seat that hugged her bottom in a warm embrace. “Nice.”


“Morning, Abbie-girl,” Bran said in a cheerful tone, his coppery hair glinting under the morning light.


Ignoring that childish nickname, Abbie buckled herself in. A quick backward glance at Robert showed him settled between two children’s car seats. The presence of those seats in her brother’s car instead of hers meant one thing. Her rose-red Renault was not about to exit the shop today. Disaster. How long could it possibly take to do an oil change and checkup? “What’s wrong with Rosie?”


“She needs four new tires and new brake shoes.”


Abbie’s heart sank to the pit of her stomach and her cheeks cooled as blood abandoned her head. She could barely afford the oil change.


His gaze fixed with fascination on his ghostly back-seat passenger, Bran missed Abbie’s stunned reaction at his bad news. Robert did not, and laid a comforting hand on her shoulder. The gesture said, Buck up.


She took a deep breath and blood slowly returned to warm her cheeks. She would handle this. She needed Rosie so she would find the money to cover this cost. Somehow.


“How long will she need to be in?” she asked.


Robert leaned back as Bran pulled away from the kerb with a rev of his engine. “With my boss away, we’re backed up. I can have her back in two days.” Bran drove at speed toward Chipstead.


Two days to find hundreds of pounds. Her gut quivered. Even if Bran donated his labor, how could she cover the parts? She prayed the grant she’d requested from the Chevening Parish Council to hold first aid courses on weekends would come through or she would be in danger of shorting next month’s mortgage payment to cover the cost of her car repairs.

She couldn’t carry on for long without a car. As it was, Bran was giving her a lift to go pick Nica and Jimi at school today since Rosie was in the shop.


“How are your kids?” Bran asked.


“Fine,” she replied, though the question startled her. It hadn’t fully sunk in that Jimi and Nica were now her kids until this moment when Bran asked about their welfare. The delightful reminder put her current financial problems into a better perspective.


Her family court custody agreement that allowed her to keep her kids had her next review set for three weeks from today. So, fulfilling their first condition – find full-time employment – had been her top priority for the past few weeks.


She already had a part-time ambulance services EMT job lined up, and yesterday, she had put in an application to work as a clerk at a nearby grocers. Together, those hours would almost equal full-time employment. Her first aid classes would fill in the rest.


All three jobs together would only bring in half the salary she had made while living in London. She gladly took that hit to gain the kids and live at St. Michael’s, her favorite spot. The church, the surrounding graveyard, and the cottage on the grounds were all hers now because her father had gifted her the down payment.


“Both kids adjusting well?” her brother nudged as he drove as if her “fine” hadn’t been answer enough.


“Jimi’s loving kindergarten,” she elaborated. “His teacher says he’s a fast learner and absorbs new concepts well.”

“And Nica?”


Abbie shrugged. “Not so much. She’s acting up in class, talking back to teachers.”

“That’s unlike her,” Bran said with a frown. “What’s she upset about?”


“Not sure. It could be growing pains to new living conditions. I wish she would talk to me but every time I ask how she is, she closes up.” She gave Bran a worried glance. “Jimi whispered to me the other day that she said I’m not their mother, so they shouldn’t treat me as if I were.”


“Harsh,” Bran said with sympathy. “They lost their whole family this past summer, Abbie-girl. Being older, Nica might have been jarred by the changes more than Jimi.”

“I have spoken to her,” Robert put in. Leaning back with eyes closed, he was enjoying the rush of speed. “No success.”


“How’s everything at your end?” Abbie asked Bran.


He gave her a side glance now as if to see if she wanted to hear the answer.


She had been busy since coming home and forming the Standard Bearers club, a secret society that investigated supernatural crimes that norms, like DCI Radford, never even realized were occurring in his policing neighborhood. It was part of her Grimm legacy.


Bran’s ex, Constable Judith Chan, had turned out to be a supe, a supernatural. In Judith’s case, she was a full-blooded witch from a long line of Chinese witches. She was back in Chipstead now and an essential member of Abbie’s Standard Bearers. Could her SB club have made Bran’s life more awkward? “Is it Judith?”


He turned away but not before she saw his pain.

She waited. They were nearing the children’s school. Little time left for a heart-to-heart.


“It’s Yousef,” he finally said. At her questioning glance, he added, “My boss.”

“I know who he is.” Yousef Kanaan had been the Standard Bearer’s prime suspect on their first case this past summer. “What about him?”


“This is hush-hush, Abbie-girl.”


She crossed her heart and mimed sealing her lips.


“He’s been having time lapses.”


“Explain.” Robert leaned forward; his interest caught. His closer proximity brought a chill breeze that fought against her seat’s warmth.


His interest was understandable. He must surely have wondered if he would remain awake forever. Doomed to repeatedly love and lose those whom he chose to befriend as time marched on. Or could there be a means of bending time? To a two-hundred-year-old ghost, talk about the passage of time would be of great interest.


Bran gave his back-seat passenger a nervous over-the-shoulder check before returning his gaze to the road. “Yousef doesn’t recall traveling to places. His doctor’s checking the medical angle. He’s getting an MRI right now.”


“Pray tell, what is an MRI?” Robert asked.


“A scientific way to photograph a person’s brain without opening up the skull,” Abbie explained. Good to cross off physical causes first. “Let me know how that goes.”


Bran nodded but added, “It might be more up your Grimm alleyway than a doctor’s office.”

 

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