Title: The Visionary
Author: Jo Michaels
Genre: Urban Fiction/Apocalyptic Fiction
Editor: Tia Silverthorne Bach with INDIE Books Gone Wild
Publication Date: October 22nd, 2018
Hi, I'm Jo. Let's forget all the "Jo Michaels is blah, blah, blah" stuff and just go with it. I'm a voracious reader (often reading more than one book at a time), a writer, a book reviewer, a mom, a wife, and one of the EICs at INDIE Books Gone Wild. I have an almost photographic memory and tend to make people cringe at the number of details I can recall about them and/or their book(s). My imagination follows me around like a conjoined twin and causes me to space out pretty often or laugh out loud randomly in completely inappropriate situations.
I have a degree in graphic design, and my journey to the end was one few students who begin that program ever complete. However, this was one case where my memory and OCD tendencies helped me. Graduation was one of the most amazing days of my life. But, my most amazing day was when my now husband proposed. Every little girl dreams of being Cinderella someday, and he pulled off the proposal of fantasies.
At the risk of sounding cliché, I'm going to let it out there and say how much I absolutely adore the man I'm married to. Along with my children, he's my whole world.
I've lived in Louisiana, Tennessee, and Georgia, but I've had my feet in almost every state. Traveling is something I adore, and have plans to someday see the Mongolia I've written about in Yassa.
One of my favorite things is hearing from fans! You can find me on social media most any day of the week. Connect! I'd love to hear from you.
The Visionary: https://amzn.to/2RXtH4W
Chapter 1 ~ Charmed
Lily Conyers sat in her yellow BMW convertible and stared at the beach where her friends were playing in the surf. Kat fell down and came up with a red face and a scowl. Lily tossed her head back and laughed aloud; she figured Bea had tripped the girl. Those two were always going head-to-head. What silly things women do to one another out of a desire to win at nothing in particular.
After watching a few more minutes, Lily tilted her seat back and closed her eyes. She knew she led a great life. For her twentieth birthday, she’d attended no less than ten parties at various celebrities’ houses. There were a lot of people that would pay to have a model of her caliber show up at their parties, but she never accepted money for her appearances. Those shindigs were usually the ones where heavy drug use was the order of the night. There were often a lot of narcotics on hand at the cheaper parties as well, but she never partook, and no one seemed to mind. At the pricier parties, it was expected she’d use. That wasn’t her bag. She’d seen what it did to careers and wanted no part of it.
It was the people in the modeling business who weren’t successful yet that she loved being around most. They still knew how to have a good time without getting blasted out of their minds.
Being over five-foot-five was certainly an asset, but a girl didn’t have to be tall if she could project properly. Lily was considered above average with her five-foot-ten-inch frame, and she knew the other girls envied her face, hair, and body. That envy made her feel good about being Lily, but she was careful not to be a bitch about it.
Not that she didn’t work for it. She spent hours in the gym with her personal trainer every day and at least two hours a twice a month at the salon and spa near her beach house.
“There’s no such thing as natural beauty,” Denarius said every time she visited him. It had a ring of truth to it. A person couldn’t expect to put in no effort and just be fabulous all the time. Of course, the raw material had to be good to begin with. She had that in spades.
She hadn’t wanted to come to the beach, but something told her if she didn’t, she’d regret it later. So far it’d been a wash.
“Hey, beautiful,” said a male voice nearby.
Without even so much as a glance at the speaker, Lily flipped her middle finger in the direction it had come from. She didn’t need man trouble. Her boyfriend was a supermodel, too, and he’d hit the roof if he caught her with some low-life. Best not to chance it.
Figuring she looked tempting with one bare leg hanging out of the car, she pulled it in and shut the door. It was better to be incognito than invite trouble in and feed it cookies.
She sighed as she thought about Wilhelm. He had the whole package: intelligence, good-looks, loyalty, and he was in the same line of work. They’d done a number of campaigns together for high-profile clients. Every shoot was new in its own way, and they rocked their photographer’s world by coming up with interesting poses never before seen.
Wilhelm had been in her life for over three years. They’d met in their junior year of high school and had gotten their first job together not long after. Never thinking about dating him, she was surprised when he’d asked her out the day they graduated. It was a whirlwind romance, and he’d been by her side through a lot of tough times.
His mother kept asking when he was going to propose. They’d both usually blush and look away but never denied they were thinking of going in that direction. Even though he’d been great to Lily, she knew something was holding him back. What it was, only time would tell. Maybe he wanted to wait until after the two-year mark. After all, it hadn’t even been a year yet since they had that first date. She sighed and gazed for a minute at her left hand where an engagement ring might sit, imagining what a sparkly diamond would look like with her fabulous manicure.
Lily moved her seat to the upright position and stared at the waves with longing before hopping out of the car and running toward her friends in the water. They played and splashed in the surf for a little while until she started to feel the sun through her SPF sixty. She suggested they all get out of the heat for a bit by visiting their favorite restaurant on the pier, Scats.
Kat spoke up and sounded like an ambulance when she began to whine. “Guyyyyys. Noooooooooo. I don’t want go sit in therrrrre.”
Lily rolled her eyes; she hated whining. “Okay, Kat, calm down. What did you want to do?”
Bea turned away from Kat with an eye roll as well.
“I wanna go flirt with boys.” Kat had a wicked gleam in her eyes.
“No. We have that party later, and you’ll have plenty of guys to flirt with there. I can feel my damned skin melting off my bones. I’d think you wouldn’t want a sunburn on the day you’re gonna meet a bunch of, like, huge name photographers. Russell James is coming!” Lily threw her hands out to the sides to make her point.
Kat dropped her head and stuck out her bottom lip. It was that pout that landed her the modeling contract she had.
Lily wasn’t buying it; she’d seen it too many times before. “Stop that. Grow up.”
Kat shot a scathing glance, her pout turning from “poor me” to “screw you” in under a second.
Lily decided she was too tired to be at the beach anyway and begged off with the excuse she needed to rest before the late night so she’d look like the model she was. There wasn’t even a suggestion flung out for the other girls to do the same; she knew they would because they’d want to try and outshine her. After air kissing everyone goodbye, she dried off, got in the car, and pulled out of the lot.
She drove home in a good mood, listening to the radio full-blast and letting her hair get whipped around by the wind. One song later, and she pulled into the garage, closing the door behind her.
Her phone began to ring when she placed her purse on the island in the kitchen, and she scrambled for it, knowing it was Wilhelm.
“Hello, you sexy, sexy man!” she said by way of greeting.
“Hi, gorgeous; you comin’ to the party tonight?”
“You know it. I wouldn’t miss this one for the world. I just walked in. Long day at the beach with the bratty bunch.” She laughed at her own joke.
“I know what you mean. Those girls rub me the wrong way.”
For a split-second, she wondered if that was an innuendo for something else.
After sitting for an hour with her thoughts and watching the girl next door, Lily decided to do the decent thing, and she took her beach umbrella down, stuck it in the sand, and opened it over the girl’s sleeping form before stumbling back to the house. Grabbing the empty tumbler, Lily staggered through the door, put the container on the bar, and collapsed on the couch.
She was awakened hours later by the doorbell ringing. Her head pounded behind her eyes as she fumbled her way to the door, cursed the locks, and jerked it open to find the weird tattooed girl standing there.
“Can I help you?” Lily asked.
“Yeah, are you the one this umbrella belongs to?” The girl thrust the umbrella out.
“Well, thanks for putting it up out there for me. I would’ve been burned to a crisp if not for you.” She winked, stuck out her hand, and introduced herself. “I’m Markaza Turner. Nice to meet you…?”
The end sounded like a question, so Lily responded, “Lily Conyers.”
“Yes! That’s what the label said. Sorry.”
She then reached her hand out and took Markaza’s. A look crossed her face like Lily had used a stun gun instead of a hand. She tried to let go, but Markaza seemed to be in some sort of a trance or something and had one hell of a grip. When she finally snapped out of it, Lily withdrew her hand and shivered. Something about that encounter was strange, and she wondered what had just happened.
She narrowed her eyes. “Just put the umbrella on the back porch, please. Thanks for bringing it back.” With that, she backed up, shut the door, and ran to a window nearby to watch what Markaza would do next.
She stood looking at the door for a long moment, as if she were willing it to open back up, before tucking the umbrella under her arm and heading around to the deck at the back of the house.
Lily followed the movements from the inside to make sure nothing got stolen.