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Payment in Kind by Roxy Matthews

April 24, 2019 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley tagged as , , ,

Last month in the Facebook Group, The Charmed Connection, members of Charmed Writers posted some flash fiction short stories in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Charmed Connection members voted for their favorite stories. The top four stories will be published this month on A Slice of Orange.

Roxy Mathews | Jann Says | A Slice of Orange

Our third story in this collection is by Roxy Matthews.

Roxy Matthews is the author of several self published novels, McBride’s Gem, Numb, and Second Time Sam, with several others due out this year. She’s also a contributor to Charmed Writers Presents: Flash Fiction 2019

In addition, you can read more about Roxy in the interview she did with Jann Ryan here on A Slice of Orange.

Payment in Kind

Nightmares were a thing Joey Scallone knew much about. His family was the toughest mob family in all of Chicago and surrounding cities. They were widely known and feared. Yet there were always those who thought they could outsmart and outgun a Scallone. He watched many a man perish gruesome deaths at the hands of his old man and two older brothers trying to prove themselves worthy. And they’d always left in body bags.

Joey never partook in the beatings or slayings, but he had dumped the tarp wrapped bodies when the smoke cleared, helped clean up any evidence that a Scallone had been in the vicinity. Because of his crimes, he’d been plagued with the visions of those unlucky men nightly. One in particular. Just the memories of the old man’s final words sent a shiver down his spine.

Joey tried to convince himself that he deserved what he’d gotten. Old Man Bishop could not ‘order’ his family, no one could. That big mistake would have dire consequences in the end. But his own excuses for his family’s actions did little to dissuade the nightmares that woke him from his sleep in a cold sweat, his sheets soaked, clinging to his bare flesh. Nor could it drive the old man’s words from his mind. “Since you won’t pay for the work I did for you, I’ll be back for that gold. Mark my words.”

Joey shivered, nervously ran his tongue along the three gold teeth Old Man Bishop had fit him with after a brawl with a local barkeep. His old man had promised to pay Bishop handsomely for the work and as far as Joey’d ever known, payment had been made. But with the old man’s words, Joey knew otherwise. In his darkened bedroom save the flickering lights of the bar across the street, Joey searched the shadows. His heart hammered in his chest, sweat gleamed on his skin, hands trembled at his sides. This was no way for a Scallone to act. To fear a dead man, let alone one alive was as blasphemous to the family name as beating your woman. Yet here Joey sat, on his stained mattress, arms wrapped around his legs, knees pulled up to his chest, fearing words of a dead man.

Joey scoffed at himself, lowered his legs, dropped back to the mattress, one arm beneath his head. “Get with the program, Scallone,” he cursed himself until his lids felt heavy, sleep inevitable.

As darkness began to take hold, Joey heard shuffling from the corner of his room followed by a soft voice.

“Where’s my gold?”

Joey bolted up in bed, eyes wide, breath held.

He looked left. Right. Nothing. Joey sighed. “Goddamnit, Scallone,” he cursed.

“That’s right, Scallone. Goddammit, give me my gold.”

Before Joey could comprehend how close the voice was, the mattress before him depressed and the outline of a hunched over old man came into view.

Joey gasped, jumped back until he was trapped between his cold bedroom wall and his visitor. He blinked several times, pinched his thigh all in the hopes of pulling himself from the nightmare. But he stayed in it. Eye to eye with a dead man. The wrinkled face surrounded by thick bushy grey hair leaned closer, he grinned a toothless grin as eyes as dark as a tarpit peered into Joey’s soul. Give me my gold, boy.”

Joey squeezed his eyes shut, shook his head. As much as he wanted to look his foe in the eye, battle the demons of his own mind, as his old man and brothers had taught him, he could not. “You’re not real, you’re not real.”

“Oh, you don’t think so, huh,” Old Man Bishop’s voice croaked, followed by a sinister laugh that turned Joey’s blood to ice.

Cold fingers reached for his lips, strength in the grip opened his mouth wide.

Joey’s eyes whipped open onto the spectral vision of the old man, a sinister grin on his thin lips. In his terror, he panicked, fought to pull himself free from the grip. Shaken hands reached to push the old man away, yet instead of his fists filled with the old man’s tattered dental jacket, they came away with nothing. The old man reached a wrinkled hand inside Joey’s mouth, gripped one of his gold teeth like a vise and yanked. Joey screamed, flailed about on sheets barely covering the mattress. Blood splattered in his mouth, dripped down his chin as one by one, the gold teeth were yanked from his jaw.


When Joey awoke several days later in the hospital screaming about his golden teeth, ripped from his jaw by a ghost seeking his payment in kind, the nurses could only shake their heads.

“The poor boy, such a young age for such a horrific incident,” one whispered.

“Yeah, to be the innocent victim of gang violence like that.” Another added, shook her head. “Those boys should be ashamed of the beating they gave him.”

The first nurse nodded her head. “I agree, thankfully they were able to reconstruct his jaw.” She paused, then added. “But his poor teeth.”

We hoped you enjoyed Roxy’s story. Check in tomorrow for Jaclyn Roche’s “Kiss Me, I’m Irish. While you’re waiting, you can also read Veronica Jorge’s Fiona Malone’s Fesh or Angela Pryce’s The Last Serpent.

Books by Roxy Matthews

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Roxy Matthews Talks About Her Pale Bay Series

November 2, 2018 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as , ,

Roxy Matthews is the author of several self published novels, Misery’s Companion, Tools of Terror, From the Depths, McBride’s Gem, Numb, and Second Time Sam, with several others due out this year.

For over fifteen years at the keys, she worked to hone her skills. She wrote her own column for a local online newspaper, www.sootoday.com titled ‘Stepping Stones’ before moving onto higher ground with a stint in Suspense Magazine’s 2010 edition. Over the years, she continued a steady trek through this difficult industry as she dabbled in short stories, earning a kudos and first place win with ‘Watery Grave’ and ‘Euphoria’. Those wins would seal the deal for her, confirming what she always knew…she could make it, she just needed more time. She has since entered several more contests throughout the years, taking any and all advice she could to move forward.

Today, you can watch her on her quest to best seller status with her upcoming releases ‘Numb’ and ‘Second Time Sam’, both releasing this year.
“One day, I will make my way in this industry, however it may be, but I’ll never step off the stones I began treading on over a decade ago. Instead, I will find my way across the path to where I was always meant to be.”


Jann: Roxy Matthews is here with us today to talk about her Pale Bay series, so let’s get started! Did you know you wanted to write a series when you started working on the first book?

Roxy: Actually no, I planned Numb, McBride’s Gem, and Second Time Sam all as stand alones. My first book in this series, McBride’s Gem wasn’t even the first I wrote, Numb was. Once I finished Numb I started on McBride’s Gem right away. With some help from my editor and publisher at the time, it morphed into the first story in the series, and a secondary story line that would link all three books together was created. Even through it all, I still doubted Numb so much, for so long that I almost shelved it and forgot it ever even existed. It took me many years of going through the story line, revising, editing, chopping, editing, revising some more to finally have the perfect story break through.

Jann: Tell us about the world you have created for the Pale Bay series. 

McBrides Gem | Roxy Matthews | A Slice of Orange

Roxy: Pale Bay is a piece of my heart. I based it off a little town along Lake Superior called Haviland Bay. When I dreamed the town up in my head, I gave it the likeliness of the area I lived in including the sub streets and Main Drive, but I expanded it to be more of a town then the one street existence that was Haviland Bay. I made sure it cupped the Lake, it’s people down to Earth, each with their own lives, their own secrets, just as the town was. But Pale Bay is unique. Hidden in plain clothes, mingling amongst the townspeople are a select group of three women and one man sent down from Olympus on the tails of three Gems, the Virtues of Life. They have spent centuries protecting them from the vengeful hands of Cronos, Zeus’ father. His plan, to use the powers of Life, Love, and Happiness to destroy mankind. However, the Gems have their own mission, and that is to find their pure soul mortal protectors.

Jann: In McBrides Gem, book one, you introduce Hawk McBride and Randi Ronin. What can you tell us about these two characters and the story.

Roxy: Randi Ronin was the first person to come alive in McBride’s Gem. I sat at my desk one day and was like…what if I had a woman who was strong, independent, determined to make her way in the world, but she was soft, caring, loving, and wore polka dot panties under her business suit? Boom! Randi Ronin came alive. Her hair is cut like Cleopatra’s and just as dark, her strength in the face of adversity is unbound, yet her sensitivity, her past pains are too close to the skin.

Hawk McBride was always a force to be reckoned with in my mind. He was tall, built, and strong, yet sarcastic with a flair for being a jokester. He has a

Numb | Roxy Mathews | A Slice of Orange

big heart that was damaged once before and even though he’s instantly attracted to Randi, he fights the feelings as much as he can. But fate intervene’s as these two forces join against something much bigger then themselves or their pasts…and that is the fate of mankind.

Jann: Did you have book two, Numb, and the Johnny Tanzer in mind while you were working on McBride’s Gem, or did it come later?

Roxy: It was kinda the other way around. Lizzie and Johnny’s story was written first. But I struggled with how to portray Lizzie’s relationship with her brother without it seeming taboo. Their unique connection as twins was a tricky one to write, not to mention the abilities they have when it comes to each other. Because of that, Numb tortured me for some time. I think I rewrote Lizzie and her brother, Lucas’ scenes at least four times to get it right. Not to mention adding in the Godly element I incorporated in McBride’s Gem. If Numb was now going to be number two and carry that secondary story line with perfection, I had lots of work to do. That being said, Numb was the first story I wrote after a close to five year hiatus, so my skills were a tad rusty. It took a good amount of work to polish it up to what Second Time Sam | Roxy Mathews | A Slice of Orangeit is today but I am super pleased with the outcome.

Jann: In book three, Second Time Sam, was it easier or harder to write? Which character did you have in mine first–Sam Doucet or Gabriella D’Angelo?

Roxy: Oh Lordy, Second Time Sam was by far the hardest. I think the reason it was was because of the story line I had played out in my mind for Sam and Gabby. Second chances at love after the loss of a loved one. I envisioned them much older, in their 50’s, but just couldn’t wrap my mind around how to make them fall in love fast. How could someone be with someone for 20-30 years, lose them, and fall in love again so quickly, especially for the rest of the story line to work? Sure, it’s been known to happen, but I felt in my heart these characters wouldn’t. So, I adjusted their ages which morphed Sam and Gabby’s characters altogether. That was when the magic happened. Bing, bam, boom. Their love to loss to love story flowed through the keys. I then incorporated my Olympian Gods and some mayhem and the puzzle pieced itself together.

Jann: You’re currently working on book four, Drago’s Destiny. Can you give us any hints on this story?

Roxy: Ohhh, Drago’s Destiny really excites me because not only is it the fourth in the series but it could be the first or the last. This story is Sci-Fi/Fantasy and tells how the Gods of Olympus ended up in Pale Bay, protecting mystical Gems, searching for pure soul mortals to, once and for all, rid the evils of Cronos from mankind. You find out the Sheriff of Pale Bay’s wife’s lineage. Denise Doucet, in her mortal form, but Gaea, Great Mother Earth in her Olympian.Drago's Destiny | Roxy Mathews | A Slice of Orange
For this story, I created a whole new world on a planet in a different solar system, NAN. NAN is as unique as they come, with a select group of people meant to oversee the lands above ground and below, at the helm one chosen at birth as NAN’s warrior and protector, Drago Darkiel. But their world is like any, diseases have devastated their soils until finally eradicated from the planet by horrific means. When a hint of the disease shows up in one of Drago’s relatives DNA, he risks everything to find the cure and save his family lineage. But the task will not be without its own dangers, or a woman he loved yet pushed away hot on his trail. What neither Drago nor Raechel know is just how important they are not only to the people of NAN but a planet they have yet to touch feet on.
In the final book in this series, Destiny’s Warrior, we go back to Pale Bay, to a warrior now full grown, the gifts of the gods at her fingertips, and an army created by the Virtues of Life and all that is good in man.

Jann: Thanks Roxy for opening the door into your writing world. Looking forward to the Drago’s Destiny.


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