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Pierced: The Pierced Series, #1

Pierced: The Pierced Series, #1

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Pierced: The Pierced Series, #1

ratings:
3/5 (1 rating)
Length:
328 pages
4 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Apr 12, 2013
ISBN:
9781301403110
Format:
Book

Description

Imagine the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo meets Betty Crocker.

That's Pierce in a nutshell.

Pierce has been on the run for two years from the man who held her captive in a vampire compound for almost a decade. Life on the run would be a lot simpler if she didn't think she suffered from several social disorders and 'quirks,' have a ten-year-old brat in tow, as well as have two characters from a 1945 classic film living in her head and guiding her at every turn.

Publisher:
Released:
Apr 12, 2013
ISBN:
9781301403110
Format:
Book

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Pierced - J. C. Mells

PIERCED

Book One of the Pierced Series

By J. C. Mells

Text copyright © 2013 by Justine Mellows

3rd Edition

––––––––

Pierced is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.  Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

For more information about the author or the series, please visit:

www.jcmells.com

––––––––

PIERCED SERIES

Book 1: PIERCED

Book 2 (novella): ESCAPED

(this is a short story/novella meant to be read after

Pierced.  It is not intended as a stand-alone piece).

Book 3: PINKED

Book 4: PERFECT

Book 5: (novella) NAPOLEON

(Napoleon is a stand-alone in terms that it can be read

and enjoyed without having read Books 1-4. Having said that,

events from this novella will be referred to in Book 6)

Book 6: KIDNAPPED

Also by J. C. Mells:

HEAVY (New Adult, Contemporary Romance)

For Ma.

––––––––

Also a giant THANK YOU to my peeps at the former CG

– you know who you are – for hashing out plot points during pre-shifts,

listening to me drone on and on about characters and ideas –

and generally putting up with my ranting and one-track-mindedness

as I obsessed over this idea to write a book...I love and miss you all!

TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER 1 – People find it hard to look at me.

CHAPTER 2 – Steak and kidney pie.

CHAPTER 3 – Memory for me goes something like this.

CHAPTER 4 – I’d always known I was different.

CHAPTER 5 - Bloody Alley.

CHAPTER 6 – How much trouble are we in?

CHAPTER 7 – Crazy is just crazy I guess.

CHAPTER 8 – Mia always comes first.

CHAPTER 9 – All I know is that Dorian was all I knew.

CHAPTER 10– Hello Pretty Girl.

CHAPTER 11 – I'm not Monk or Howard Hughes.  I don’t think.

CHAPTER 12 – What. The. Fuck?

CHAPTER 13 – I don't feel obliged to anyone...yet.

CHAPTER 14 – What’s in it for them?

CHAPTER 15 - She had been just what I needed.

CHAPTER 16– Can we trust you?

CHAPTER 17 – Where exactly are you taking us?

CHAPTER 18 - Jake’s house.

CHAPTER 19 - We have to leave.  Now.

CHAPTER 20 – Your house is amazing.

CHAPTER 21 - Did I mention he was naked?

CHAPTER 22 – How many did you take?

CHAPTER 23 - It’s not all bad being a schizo, I decide.

CHAPTER 24 – Isabelle’s.

CHAPTER 25 – Reading between the lines between the lines...

CHAPTER 26 –There have been worse ideas I suppose.

CHAPTER 27 - May I present his Excellency Virendra, Meenakshisundaram, Narayanswami, Singh.

CHAPTER 28 – ‘Sorcerer.’

CHAPTER 29 - Mind over matter.

CHAPTER 30 – Playing chicken with a Hummer H3, maybe not one of my better ideas.

CHAPTER 31 – Wait, why am I in the mind-lounge?

CHAPTER 32 – Snickerdoodles.

End Credits.

CHAPTER 1 - People find it hard to look at me.

The swish, swish sound of mop against tile has a soothing effect on my jittery body and I’m soon lulled into a rare and unusual state of inner calm.  These moments are so few and far between, that when they do happen it’s like a different type of high than the chemical one I’m now so dependent on.

I pause in my industrious mopping of the restroom floor of Mickey’s Lounge and survey my reflection in the mirror.  It doesn’t matter that my appearance has been like this for the better part of a year now; it still gives me an inward start.  It isn’t as if this look is that new, it’s just that it’s not really me or rather not who I used to be. 

That’s the point though, isn’t it? 

There’s only one word to describe me now – unnerving.  My inner Veda Pierce approves of this look, my inner Mildred Pierce doesn’t. 

Then again it is rare that all three of us Pierces can agree on anything. 

My short gel-spiked, pixie-cut hair is a sharp peroxide blonde, which looks almost white against my caramel-colored skin tone.  Despite my Indian heritage I'm very light-skinned, probably further diluted from a possible Caucasian father? 

Well, the name Pierce, although technically my middle name, has to come from somewhere, right? 

In other words, just as with my mother before me, it can be difficult to pinpoint my exact ethnicity.  This is especially true with my hair in its current white-blonde shade.  When I have darker hair I can pass for either Hispanic or light-skinned Indian, although my dark blue eyes always seem to throw people for a loop when they are interested in ascertaining my origins. 

My current pinched look is further accentuated by the sheer amount of metal currently embedded in my face.

Starting with my ears I’ve a collection of four to five piercings on either lobe, silver rings and studs.  The cartilage on the top of my left ear has two more rings, while my right has a silver bar across the top.  Three ringed eyebrow piercings over my left eye and two metal studded bars over the right.  There are four piercings in my nose, starting with a ring in both the left and right nostrils, then a bar through the bridge of my nose, and a horseshoe-shaped ring through my septum.  It doesn’t stop there, and to quote from a British expression:  I certainly don't do things by halves...

I have a stud directly under my nose, called a Medusa, one about two inches to the right of that in my lower cheek called a Monroe, and a matching one in my labret or chin area.  Two rings in my lower lip and one in my upper complete the look.  I kind of like the way the lip rings click when I talk. 

Inner Mildred reminds me, her posture rife with disapproval, about my tongue ring. 

I shrug at her and tell her to go bake a pie or something. 

My name is Pierce and it sure does fit me now; now that I don't use it in any legal identification capacity, that is. 

Trust me when I say the irony is not lost on me. 

The sheer amount of silver in my face is not the only unnerving aspect to my completed look.  The right side of my visage has a slightly wilted appearance to it.  My right eye is half-closed and my cheek swollen from a badly set break from years ago.  By badly I mean a break that was never set at all. This permanent and slight droop on the right side of my face is coupled with a loss of smell, yet another side effect from several years of hard knocks and concussions, or as I now refer to them - the Dorian years. 

The plus side to this countenance is that people find it hard to look at me. 

The down side is that it poses limitations in terms of the types of employment I’ve been able to secure over the last year or so.

Couple that with my occasional manic episodes, panic attacks, or what we refer to as Little Crazies. 

Although it’s pretty rare that I have a Little Crazy hit me these days, I’ve been let go from two jobs in the past for having them.  This is more of an inconvenience due to the fact that I live by the motto, new job, new town.  Getting fired means moving, which is a pain in the ass, but hey, whatever it takes to stay under the radar. 

I’ve worked as a restaurant dishwasher, late night office cleaner, and now as a janitor and daytime cleaner of sorts for this Goth style bar called Mickey’s.  All jobs that either accepted my face armor, my weird personality quirks, or ones that kept me away from the public eye.  The latter are the ones I prefer.

Hello pretty girl...

After all this time I can still hear his voice in my head.  At least I'm now absolutely certain I’ll not hear those exact words again in person.  No one could ever accuse me of being a pretty girl any more. 

Anyway, who cares about Dorian’s voice when I have my inner Pierces to contend with? 

Ah Mildred and Veda, can’t live with you, can’t live without you.  They have been a part of my head for a very, very long time now.  I think they are here to stay. 

Hey, being a schizo is only a disease when it prevents you from performing day-to-day functions.  I'm functioning quite well, in my honest opinion. 

Or rather in our honest opinions that is.  Mother and daughter Pierce always get to put their two cents worth in when they get the chance.

CHAPTER 2 – Steak and kidney pie.

I may clean toilets for a living, but I love to cook.  I mean it, I fucking love, love, love to cook.  My specialty is pies.  My inner Mildred Pierce approves.  Before I came to work today I got up early to make one of my favorite concoctions: the steak and kidney pie.

Now the steak and kidney pie has its origins in British cuisine with one of its earliest mentions appearing in a Dickensian text, Pickwick Papers, if memory serves me – which it usually does.  England is of course a country famed for its pie-eating culture and home to other culinary delights involving pastry such as the Cornish pasty, the pork pie, or if you’re prone to reading historical romances, the venison pie. 

I’ve had numerous British influences on my life – both good and bad – over the years, and I take the entry of the steak and kidney pie recipe into my cooking repertoire as one of the good.

One of the secrets to a really great and deliciously tender steak and kidney pie filling is to prep it at least four hours before serving.  In my case, I’ve started my day today at five, just to be able to do that.  Sacrificing some sleep for a little pre-work baking has never been a problem for me. 

My inner Veda Pierce hates to get up this early, but when Mildred and I are in a cooking mood, there’s nothing she can do about it. 

Yeah, I have Mildred and Veda Pierce living in my head, so what?  My name is Pierce and it makes sense to me, and that’s all that matters. 

Would anyone really care that I have two characters from a 1945 classic black and white film masterpiece talking to me in my head and guiding me at every turn?  I mean with all the other stuff I’ve going on with me on a daily basis, does it really matter in the bigger scheme of things that I chat with two fictional movie characters from time to time? 

I didn’t think so.

The secret to any pie is, of course, in the crust.  Now I want to make it quite clear that my pie dough recipe is absolutely not one handed down to me from generations of Singer women or my mother or anything.  My mom ended up as OxyContin-addicted vampire pabulum, someone who never cooked a thing in her life that could not be sucked into a needle before being self-administered intravenously. 

She was also of Indian descent and probably not too partial to the whole steak and kidney thing...but I digress... 

My pie crust recipe, like everything I make, comes from reading and trial and error.  I read cookbooks like some people read novels.  While some are obsessed with Facebook.com, I have Foodrecipe.com.  There are so many great recipes on the Internet, and I just mix and match a few of them until I come up with something I consider worthy of the Pierce kitchen. 

Now, most websites will tell you that the food processor has revolutionized the making of the great pie crust today, but we, Mildred and I, disagree with this statement quite strongly.  We like to get our hands dirty.  I love the feel of the flour and shortening between my fingers – which admittedly is weird given my current hand-washing neurosis.  One of the secrets to successful dough is making sure it doesn’t become warm through over-kneading.  I usually run my hands under the cold tap for a few minutes to make them nice and cool and then only lightly touch my ingredients. 

The second secret to good pie crust is vodka.  Including a shot of vodka into your liquids will almost guarantee a delicious, flaky pie crust.  The vodka will eventually cook off entirely preventing a gluten formation, the end result of which is a light and flaky crust firm enough to sustain a high moisture filling.

Now for the filling. 

Lightly coat your steak and kidney with flour, salt and pepper.  Braise the meat in batches in a casserole pot using several tablespoons of olive oil.  Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and temporarily set it aside for the time being.  Next you throw some mushrooms, onions and some tomato puree into the warmed, meat juice and oil-coated casserole.  Cook for about three minutes.  Deglaze with about a cup of Guinness stout and then add in the steak and kidney mix.  Add stock, bring to a boil, and then put the whole thing into the oven to bake for about one and a half hours.  The final step is to take it out of the oven and then place it on a medium flame to reduce it to the desired consistency for a pie filling.

Transfer your well-simmered stew to a dish to cool until it’s ready to be placed in the now chilling pie crust base.  The rest of the chilled dough will be rolled out for the top, brushed with egg yolk, and the whole kit and caboodle will be baked in the oven for about forty minutes or until golden brown.  Tonight when I get home from work I’ll make some creamy cheddar-mashed potatoes to go with this steak and kidney pie.  Yum!

Cooking. Cooking with a penchant for comfort food.  Yep, it’s the last thing you would expect when you look at the walking horror show that is me.

CHAPTER 3 – Memory for me goes something like this.

As I continue my mopping, I notice one of the tiles under the row of sinks has cracked.  This means I’ll have to redo today’s count.  I know I could take the count I just finished and subtract one – but I convince myself I might have made a mistake.  It won’t take long to do it again.  As I mop and count, I think about my mother.

I remember the last time my mother and I had an actual conversation. 

Let me clarify. 

I mean I remember the last time my mother and I actually had an exchange that went beyond the normal one-to-two short sentences, where not only was the focus on me for a change, but also where she uncharacteristically initiated the conversation.

By remember I don't mean I recall it being a sunny morning about fifteen years ago. 

Memory for me is a tad more detailed. 

Memory for me goes something like this: 

It was a Saturday morning, June fourteenth to be precise, the day after a Friday the thirteenth. As I'm not superstitious, I doubt this fact had any effect on the subsequent conversation and the events to follow it. 

It was ten seventeen a.m. when she, my mother, sat me down at the kitchen table in our small one-bedroom apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York.  The south-eastern leg of that scratched and chipped wooden table, which had been painted a pale green by its previous owner, was propped up and held level with a copy of Homer’s Iliad, translated by Robert Fagles, a book I had read, and enjoyed, the year before.

The wall behind her, the one I was facing, housed one of the dingy apartment’s three windows.  The dusty, cheap venetian blinds were at half-mast on that day.  I remember wondering why she had lowered them.  Two pulls up and the three empty spaces where the now missing slats used to be would be hidden from view.  I remember exactly how much will power I exercised to not get up and make those two swift pulls.

The wall around the window was a dirty tan.  I assume the original color had been a cream or off-white, but with years of cigarette smoke and greasy cooking fumes, I was being generous by calling it tan. 

There was a large indentation to the right where my mother had thrown an empty vodka bottle at Hank - her current future ex-boyfriend at that time – and missed.  It’s funny how, despite my diligence when it came to cleaning, for at least six months after that particular event I was still finding shards of glass from time to time.

I remember to the left of the window there were four, almost evenly-spaced, chips in the paint where a poster had once been secured with blue tack by a previous tenant.  I knew it had been a blue tack and not Scotch tape because I remember the top left chip still had minute pieces of blue stuck in it.  I often wondered what the poster had been of and imagined a black and white movie still or an image of a famous painting from the MET – something with such intrinsic value it had been too valuable to leave behind when its owners had left. 

Of course, later I would change this to thoughts that it was probably of something obscene and salacious, and that our landlord had ripped it down before my mother and I had moved in.

To my left and behind me were the kitchen counters and cabinets.  The cabinet door nearest me, the one next to the fridge and under the sink, had a screw missing from the top hinge causing it to hang askew and not close properly.

I remember there were exactly one hundred and seventy three tiles in the kitchen backsplash. 

Whole tiles, that is. 

I never include partial or chipped tiles in a complete tile count. 

I did, however, remember there had been twelve half tiles and seven chipped tiles on that particular morning fifteen years ago.

I remember there were six steps between the table and the refrigerator. 

Adult steps, not my then steps. 

There were thirteen steps from the refrigerator to the moth-eaten sofa in the living room that the kitchen opened out into.

That was where I slept. 

I remember there were eleven steps to the bathroom, the door to which was right next to the sofa.  If I was in bed I could hear just about everything that went on in there from showering, to toilet-flushing to vomiting – which sometimes occurred in that exact order. 

The bedroom door was on the other side of the couch – eighteen steps from the fridge.  I remember how I heard everything that went on in there too.

By the time my mother spoke it was ten nineteen a.m.  I remember she had needed the two minutes after I’d sat down to freshen up her drink.  She had eleven minutes before she was due at work at the bar downstairs.  She was often late but no one seemed to really care. 

I remember clearest of all the words she uttered to me in the ensuing few minutes.

Do you know what Asperger’s syndrome is? 

She followed this question with a long drag of her menthol cigarette.  She had finally settled nervously into her seat – back to the window.

Yes. 

I should have responded with a "Yes Mater-ji" as a sign of respect, but when facing a woman seriously getting her drunk on at ten twenty in the morning, it was kind of hard to do. 

Oh yes, and I remember I was going through a sort of rebel phase that summer too.

Okay. Good. You have Asperger’s. 

She turned her attention to her glass, trying to fish out a floating piece of ash using her thumb and the finger next to her pinkie; her index and middle finger still gripping the cigarette where the ash had originated from.

I thought about this revelation for a minute.

I don’t think I have Asperger’s Syndrome.

My mother snapped her head up from her ash-recovery mission and narrowed her eyes at me.

Are you arguing with me, young lady?

No.  I again left off a respectful ma’am.

I didn’t think so. 

Forgetting all about the elusive ash polluting her drink, she sloshed the ice around once then knocked back the clear liquid in two quick swallows.  She wiped her mouth with her sleeve and continued on.

You have Asperger’s.  Repeat after me.  I have Asperger’s.

I paused for thirty seconds before I gave in.  I have Asperger’s.

I have Asperger’s.  This one came out with a slight slur that sounded more like apsergers.

I have Asperger’s.  I decided not to go there.

Now listen carefully, Pierce.  Are you listening?

I nodded slowly.

I remember she paused here to relight the dog-end of her cigarette.

Never show anyone what you can do.  Never.  If you slip up and anyone questions you about it, you tell them you have Asperger’s.  Do you understand me?

Yes. No.

Promise me, Pierce, promise me.  Do you promise me, Pierce?

I hesitated before answering.  Yes, I promise.  What?

I remember she reached into the bag hanging over the back of her chair.

Here are some books on the subject. 

She handed me a well-worn library book and a couple of pamphlets.  The last piece of ash fell from the cigarette butt hanging out of her mouth and landed on the table.  I remember I could not take my eyes off it as she handed me the literature.  The wind generated by her movements forced the ash nearer and nearer to the table’s edge – and towards me.  As I watched the ash flutter, all that I could think of was my mother was in a library?

Just remember all this, okay?  Promise me, Pierce.  Her slightly slurred insistence knocked me out of my reverie.

She smashed the cigarette butt into the recently cleaned ash tray next to her.  I remember I had just emptied the overflowing receptacle five minutes before she called me in here. 

On Monday you’re going to a special school, she continued.  One where some of your special talents can be explained by Asperger’s.  Do you understand?  Are you listening to me, Pierce?  Look at me when I talk to you.

Yes.  On Monday I'm going to a special school.  I have Asperger’s.

Very good, Pierce.  That man that was here last night, did you see him?

No.  But I’d heard their indiscernible and hushed whispers coming from the kitchen.  I had pretended to be asleep.

Well he’s going to take care of us now.  He’s going to pay for your school.  My grandfather died a few days ago and left him in charge of taking care of us.

I couldn’t help my sharp intake of breath.  The great-grandfather I’d never met but always imagined coming to my rescue, was dead.  How was I supposed to react externally to this devastating news? 

I went with my normal passive face, while inside I wanted to scream until I was hoarse. 

Don't cry.  Do not let her see you cry.

How could my mother not care about the death of her grandfather?  Why was she talking as if it was just another normal day?  I remember the effort it took to pull myself together and refocus on what she’d gone on to add.

Never let Dorian know what you can do. 

That must be the name of the man who was here last night.

My grandfather trusted him but he doesn’t know him like I do.  If he ever comes to talk to you, act like the people in that book.  He can never ever know about your talents.  Please tell me you hear and understand me, Pierce.

Don’t let Dorian know.  If he talks to me, I have Asperger’s.

Exactly.  Now remember the promise and go and do something constructive while I get ready for work.

I remember she got up and stopped off at the freezer to refill her glass with vodka before making the eighteen-step journey to her bedroom.

As soon as she was gone, I wiped the ash from the table into my hand and squeezed it in my fist as tightly as I could.  When I opened it a few minutes later, the ash was gone

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What people think about Pierced

3.0
1 ratings / 1 Reviews
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  • (3/5)
    What I liked about this book
    The main character - Pierce is smart, funny, and my kind of girl. She is also a drug addict and has Mildred and Veda Pierce living in her head. Her voice is unique, I think, and Mells writes her with verve. It takes guts to write a character like Pierce, and Mells pulls it off brilliantly. If you're sick of tall, beautiful women with no social skills and an inability to manage even the simplest household task, then look no further than Pierce. She has multiple facial piercings, and she can cook. I don't know whether Mells cooks, or just likes to eat, or is just that good a writer - but Pierce's love of cooking really comes through.

    The world - urban fantasy, as a genre, can get pretty repetitive. Mells obviously thinks so too, and has done something about it, because her vampires are not the gorgeous, all-powerful predators of most urban fantasy (and they don't sparkle) - they're more like parasites. There are other differences too, which make it clear that Mells has engaged imagination, rather than just treading the same road as every other author.

    The idea - I won't say anything more about it, but I liked it.

    What lost those two stars
    This had the potential to be a five-star book. However:
    Pacing - not that the pace was slow, but there was too much instant revelation right at the end. It would have been better to have had Pierce discover things more slowly.
    Editing - the writing was sometimes rather clunky.
    Typos - not many, but enough to be slightly distracting.

    Honestly, I wanted to give this five stars, but when measured up against authors like Jim Butcher and Faith Hunter, that just wouldn't be honest. But J. C. Mells is one to watch: I think she has the potential to reach the heights, and this is a book I would be happy to recommend.