Authors: Shannon Curtis
For readers of Stephanie Bond and Darynda Jones, fairy tales as you’ve never seen them before. The debut in a series that mixes suspense, sex, and just a sprinkle of fairy dust.
Once Upon a Crime…
Melanie wants to get incriminating information on her evil stepfather and she’ll get it – even if it means giving in to an odious toad’s demands. Cole is undercover, and when the opportunity arises for him to get closer to the criminal he’s investigating using the man’s beautiful stepdaughter, he grabs it.
Esmerelda is a Fairy Godmother Enforcer charged with getting the Frog Prince fairytale back on track. But fate has saddled her with a partner, and Rumpelstiltskin – with his sexy bad boy swagger – has a hidden agenda of his own.
In the Fairy Isle, nothing is as it seems…
Shannon Curtis has worked in diverse roles such as copywriter, business consultant, admin manager, customer service rep, logistics co-ordinator, dangerous goods handler, event planner, switch bitch and betting agent, and decided to try writing a story like those she loved to read when she found herself at home after the birth of her first child. Her books have been nominated finalists for Favourite Romantic Suspense for 2011 and 2012, as well as Favourite Continuing Romance Series by the Australian Romance Readers Association.
Now she spends entirely too much time daydreaming about hunky heroes and malicious murders — for her books, of course! She loves reading, loves writing, and loves hearing from her readers, so visit her at
and say hi!
I’m so blessed to have friends who don’t think I’m weird, disturbed or in any way deficient when I start plotting murderous fairy tales. Thank you to my sisters-in-crime, my fellow plot stirrers—the writers’ coven (TWC). Your encouragement to write the tales
wanted to write is so very much valued and appreciated—as is the sounding board coffees that morph into wines when particularly sexy, dark deeds need to be discussed!
For Heather and Erin,
because you should always believe in magic —
and the power of a good round-house kick.
Melanie rifled through the papers on the desk. It’s got to be here, damn it. She’d searched everywhere else. He had to be hiding it somewhere in here. She opened each draw, quickly, silently, peering inside at the contents before closing it again and moving on to the next.
Would he really leave it lying around, though? She eyed the laptop sitting quietly, mockingly, on the desk. She chewed her lip. Her stepfather was at a meeting across town, she had a little time before the man was due to return to his office. She’d left the tap running in the ladies room, and had made an anonymous call to his secretary, so she had a brief period to find something in here and then get the hell out before anyone knew she was here.
Not wanting to waste any more time on what was turning out to be a fruitless search, she raised the laptop screen and switched the computer on. Her fingers drummed against the walnut-timbered desk. Come on, damn it. She shifted her shoulders. She was beginning to perspire, would love to peel off her jacket, but didn’t dare.
Finally, the screen came to life. While she waited for all of the applications to load, she searched through her handbag. She was sure she had a flash drive in here somewhere. She rummaged around within the bowels of the handbag, shoving aside her wallet, keys, tampons and God only knows what else. There! She pulled the device out and smiled. It was a novelty drive, and looked like a tube of lipstick.
She removed the lid, twisted the bottom, and the flash drive appeared. She inserted it into the port on the laptop, then went on the hunt.
Tapping rapidly on the keyboard, her eyes scanned the screen as she searched through the files. There were all sorts of documents—he didn’t seem to back up very often—and the clock was ticking. She licked her lips nervously. There had to be something here that proved—wait. There. Fairy Meadow. She was sure she’d overheard him talking to Robert about the Wollongong suburb.
She clicked on the folder and started scanning the documents. Proposals, tenders, budgets, forecasts—it all seemed standard information for the property developer. She read the name of one file and frowned. Robert. She made a face. Robert was her stepfather’s ‘friend’ and business partner, and she disliked the crude, vulgar man. Lionel would joke and call him Jupiter to his Mars, two formidable leaders, and friends-at-arms. She’d had enough interaction with Robert to know he was rude, chauvinistic and arrogant, and he had the worst attitude towards women.
She opened the file. It was a list of addresses and nothing else. She frowned. That’s it? Well, it would do, for starters. She saved it to her drive, along with the rest of the files in that folder.
Voices outside the office door had her shutting down the folders and pulling the flash drive out with shaking fingers. Oh, God, he’s back. She’d hoped to be out of here and long gone before his return. Damn. She slammed down the lid of the laptop and jumped out of the chair, heart pounding as she clicked the lipstick cover on and dropped it into her jacket pocket.
She slung her handbag over her shoulder and was halfway to the door when it opened. Crap.
Lionel Lowry stepped inside, his dark eyebrows rising when he noticed his stepdaughter.
“Melanie, what are you doing here?”
She swallowed, trying to hide her panic. “Oh, uh, I was in the area and I thought I’d pop in.” Except she never popped in. She did her best to avoid the smarmy, evil man whenever she could. “For Mum,” she added.
Lionel closed the door behind him, and Melanie schooled her features into an innocent expression, maybe even pleased. Okay, well, maybe pleased was too much of a stretch. Her instincts screamed for her to run, dodge past the man and escape to freedom.
“Really?” Lionel asked quietly, stepping up close. Melanie forced a smile to her lips. Ugh. The man made her skin crawl. “And what does your mother want from me?”
He paused, too near for comfort. She wanted to step back, but she’d learned that any sign of fear was like catnip to this man. He craved more. So she remained where she was, fingers clutching the strap of her handbag, smiling coolly.
“Yes. She wanted to know what time the party started tonight.” She said the first thing that popped into her mind, and hoped she wasn’t getting her mother into trouble with the lie. It was so hard these days to figure out what Lionel’s triggers were, and how to avoid them.
Lionel sidled up to her, and she shifted, just a little, so that it was her arm he brushed, and not her chest. The guy really was a sleaze. “It starts at eight,” he told her. He lifted a finger to move a tendril of her dark hair off her face, but his touch lingered too long to seem fatherly.
“Join us.” It wasn’t an invitation, it was a demand.
God, no. “Uh, sorry, I have something on.” Her response was quick, automatic.
Lionel tsked. “Oh, I’m sure you can reschedule that. Your mother and I don’t see you very much these days. Come to the party. It’s a fundraiser for my re-election campaign. How would it look if my beloved daughter wasn’t there to support me?” His finger trailed down her neck, past her shoulder and down her back. She stepped away before he could grope her butt again.
I’m not your daughter. She hid her anger, her distaste. She’d learned long ago that her mother bore the brunt of any of her open rebellion.
“I’ll see what I can do,” she said, her voice even. She wanted to run, to hide, to wash his touch off her, but another part of her wanted to turn around and slug him, yell at him for touching her, for hurting her mum, for being pond scum.
Her fingers tightened on the strap that was now digging into her shoulder. Calm. Peace. Focus. She took another step toward the door, keeping that painful smile hooked into place. “I’d better get going, I’m due back at the office and traffic is hell on the M5 at this time of day, especially around the airport. I’ll tell Mum when to get ready.”
He let her walk away, eyeing her for a moment, before nodding. “Fine. I’ll see you there.” His tone was abrupt, final, as he continued toward his desk. She closed the door behind her and almost ran down the hall to the lifts. She needed to get the hell out of there.
Lionel Lowry set his keys and wallet down on the desk and frowned. His laptop was on. He was sure he’d turned it off before the meeting. Didn’t want prying eyes to see anything they shouldn’t.
He eyed the now-closed office door with consideration. What was Melanie up to?
Melanie strode across the business estate gardens, her face set. That…that—sleazy, manipulative, awful bastard. Ugh. She cast her eye up at the building. Glass and concrete, it was one of her stepfather’s successes, right in the heart of the commercial district of Hurstville. You couldn’t see inside the windows, and her stepfather’s office was on the tenth floor, so there was no way she could see him, but she could feel him, watching her.
He was always watching her.
The flash drive felt like it was burning a hole in her pocket, and she slid her hand inside, clutching the smooth case. She wanted to put it straight into her handbag, someplace safe. She wasn’t sure if she’d gotten anything worthwhile, but at least it was a start. She was going to get the goods on Lionel Lowry. She didn’t know what the goods were, or what she would do with them once she had them, she just knew it would give her some power over the evil man.
There was some construction going on in the lot next door, and Melanie had to step around scaffolding on the way to her car. She hadn’t really been lying—she was due back at work. As a real estate administration manager she had some leeway with getting away from the office, but the real estate agency was in Maroubra, and she’d have to hustle to get back before her boss started asking questions about her absence.
She walked along the planks the construction crew had placed over the footpath and looked down into the yawning pit beyond the chain-link gate as she removed the lipstick flash drive from her pocket. What a mess. Another one of her stepfather’s projects. When completed, another block of high-rise business suites would grace the southern Sydney skyline. As she opened up her handbag her heel caught on a join in the wooden planking and she stumbled, her hand whipping out to brace herself against the gate she was passing to stop herself from falling.
She watched in horror as the lipstick flash drive slipped from her fingers and through the gaps in the chain-link fencing. It landed on the ramp leading down into the hole, rolled to the side and fell into the muddy pit—out of sight.
“No!” Oh, crap. “Damn it, no.” She clutched the gate with both hands and peered down. She couldn’t see where it had fallen. She craned her head from side to side, trying to get a better view. Oh, please be okay. Please be there, somewhere.
“Help! Anyone? Please?” she called out, shaking the gate. “Hello! Anyone in there?” Great. Not a soul. Was it tea-break time? Lunch? Or had they knocked off early? She rattled the gate again. “Please, someone!”
“What’s up, Miss?” a deep voice shouted at her.
“Please, I dropped something. Could you pick it up, please?” She leaned on the gate, trying to push it just enough to see who she was talking to. A man stepped out from behind an earth-mover and Melanie stopped pushing on the gate.