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Tenderloin - In the dystopian near future, there are two classes of people—the users and the used.


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I'm a recovered drug addict. But now teens in New York are disappearing, so I have return to my dark past to find out why. My hunt leads me down into an even darker place. And I don't know if the strange psychic experiences I'm having are real or all in my mind.

My hangout was the Tenderloin in New York. An underage dance club where runaways met people who gave them drugs, food, and shelter in exchange for sex. Now I’m a counselor in a clinic for recovering teen addicts. But my new life is about to change. I found out that young people from the clinic are disappearing.

Strange visions are pointing me to the kidnapper and the disturbing truth about what’s really happening. So I have to go back to the Tenderloin Club and into the past I want to forget.

Time flows in a different way now too. I’m having weird mental experiences, but I don’t tell anyone. It’s hard enough to convince people I’m not crazy.

I can’t let anyone stop me from looking for the missing teenagers, but a hot but wrong guy keeps distracting me.

Excerpt from Tenderloin

The queasily dangerous sense of the man I stalked grew stronger when I walked into the Tenderloin Club. I knew he was at the bar. He was waiting for me, but there was uncertainty in his mind. I’d angered him or turned him off with my persistence. I knew I’d have to play this pickup carefully, but I didn’t have a clue how to do that.
Luckily, I didn’t have to know. As I began dancing randomly among the crowd of other paired and solo dancers, the driving force in my mind pushed me back into that fuzzy watching place and took over. I was there, but I was just going along for the ride.

Other dancers tried to connect with me, but I moved closer and closer to the bar where the big man sat. Again, he faced away from the bar, toward the dance floor. This time, my former client Stella sat on the stool next to Claude. But most of her was leaning onto him.

There’s no way she’s going to leave here with him tonight. I told myself. Even if have to inject her in this bar—or him.

Claude sat accepting Stella’s attention but not returning it. He sipped his drink and stared with dark hooded eyes at the crowd. Watching for me, I knew. But not willing to show any sign of it.

Farther down, Steve sat at the bar too. He faced the dancers but showed more interest. Smiling. One leg bent with the foot resting on a rung of the bar stool. The other straight out with the foot flat on the floor.

I made my sinuous way over to Steve and got up close. I was careful not to look at Claude, but I sensed his attention turn like a spotlight in my direction.

“Myrna!” said Steve. “You’re still around!”

He threw his arms around me in a tight hug, and I hugged him back. Because he was sitting, and I was standing, it was an amorous kind of hug with his face pressed into my breasts.

I felt the change in Claude’s energy from several seats away. Anger and desire mixed.

It wasn’t normal physical desire, I realized. The feeling was predatory. Feral and hungry. As if I were prey to be devoured.

I would have been terrified if the mental change in me wasn’t numbing me, calming me unnaturally as it took over my thoughts and actions.

But I was still there. I pulled back from Steve and sat on the stool next to him without his invitation. Then I leaned over close and spoke into his ear.

“Steve,” I said. “It’s great to see you. Can you buy me a drink, so I can pretend to drink it?”

“Sure thing,” he said.

We both turned around toward the bar, and Steve leaned forward and waved a hand at the bartender.

***

More books (on the lighter side) by LD Marr:

Have Teeth, Will Bite - a cozy vampire mystery

In the 1880s, attracting the wrong type can be undeadly.

When Roz is reported to a witch hunter for talking to her cat, the prim and proper Salem librarian leaves town in a hurry. She doesn't have many options, so she takes a job as a dance hall girl in the wild west.

One of the girls is murdered, and Jonah, a reserved but hunky deputy, suspects the local vampire. But Roz knows it wasn't him. She was with him at the time being turned into a vampire against her will.

Roz wants to get closer to Jonah. But to find the real killer, she'll have to cozy up to the saloon's rough and rowdy customers instead. Being a vampire might be some protection from the murderer if the method of death wasn't a stake through the heart.

***

Under another pen name, Trisha McNary, LD Marr also wrote the science fiction space opera series Xeno Relations: Alien Pets (book 1), hypnoSnatch (book 2), Bonded in Space (book 3).

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