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Monday, May 7, 2012


Writers do a lot of interesting, and sometimes unusual, things in the process of creating a story. For my newest release, TO TOUCH A THIEF, I prepared for the opening scene with a bit of practical research. 

Here's the excerpt:

A Seance, Secrets, and Spreadsheets


Jayne Hunt

It would end her career as a forensic accountant. She knew the arrest was going to happen, had helped to plan it, participated in the fine tuning, and even requested they handcuff her before the “event” so she’d know what to expect. They’d refused. Insisted it needed to be a virgin handcuffing to keep her response authentic.
A slippery column of sweat trickled along her spine and pooled at the small of her back. The detective held the yellow plastic handcuffs loosely, almost as if they were a toy or an ingredient in a sexual fantasy. But they weren’t. This was all too real, right down to the newspaper reporters and the snarly, disgusted twist of Parker Steele’s mouth. Perfect lips should never wear such an ugly expression.
The detective snapped the handcuffs in front of her face, sending a ripple of fear to her belly. “Jayne Hunt, you’re under arrest for theft, grand larceny, and fraud.” And then he read her the Miranda warning—so rote on television, so terrifying in real life. Chief Hayes better have her back on this, or…
The detective’s meaty hand circled her upper arm, and panic clouded her senses. She focused on the anger and loathing in Parker’s glare to keep her from screaming when the plastic cuffs tightened on her wrists, and flashes from the reporters cameras blinded her.
A uniformed officer stepped to her other side, grabbed her arm, and together they fast-walked her to the waiting cruiser.
Bars and locked doors.
A glimpse at her future.
The officer put his hand on her head, just like they did on the small screen, and pushed. She landed on the hard seat with a thud, pain shooting through her wrists. A wash of heat stained Jayne’s cheeks. She’d never allowed anyone to manhandle her. Not ever. It was positively tawdry to be arrested. And being photographed in handcuffs was worse—a permanent testament to her sins.
The cruiser door slammed. She wanted to hide, or maybe evaporate. But when she inhaled, the sickly smell of sweat and fear with a whiff of stale alcohol coated her nose and throat, making it impossible to do anything but accept the reality of her situation.
Nausea churned in her belly, and chill bumps covered her arms and legs. They could have picked her up in a clean vehicle. Really, they could have.

Well, I needed to get into Jayne's head, to learn what it was like to be handcuffed. Fortunately, I have really cool friends who were happy to help out. I will refrain from mentioning their names to protect the innocent, er, or maybe the not so innocent. 

The men arrived at my house separately, each driving an SUV.  Guy cars built for North Dakota winters. I hesitated before walking outside to meet them. Did I really want to do this? The answer was yes, but that could have been  to avoid the embarrassment of explaining that I'd changed my mind. 

They approached me, one from either side. And there I was surrounded by two hunks, one dangling a pair of shiny metal handcuffs from his fingers. If I wrote erotica, this would have been a killer scene. But alas, I don't. So rather than sexy, the cuffs looked...uncomfortable. The men suggested we go inside, away from my neighbor's picture window. 

Did they know something I didn't know? Surely my neighbors knew me well enough that they'd know this was, um, planned. Right? I scuttled inside, leading the way to the front room. Within a single minute, or maybe it was seconds, my hands were securely fastened behind my back, one hunk holding on to the chain between the cuffs. I. Wasn't. Going. Anywhere.

He let go and I walked around for a while, getting the feel of the cuffs. They were snug, dug into my skin with a sharp bite. I sat, wanting to know what Jayne would feel when she was stuffed into the squad car. And then tough guy pulled a little white card from his wallet, and read me my rights. 

I wasn't expecting it. Hadn't planned for it. Tingling trepidation crawled over my skin, and I couldn't stop the first blossom of panic building in my abdomen. I knew he wasn't arresting me. Not for real. But there's something about those words that locked around my heart and wouldn't let go. If I ever had thoughts of being lured into a life of crime, they evaporated in that instant. 

 When he took the handcuffs off, my wrists were sore, red pressure dents clearly delineated on my skin.  And I'd only had the handcuffs on for ten to twenty minutes. My imagination ran wild with images of being arrested for murder, for something that kept me cuffed for a long time, and maybe later convicted and jailed.  Nope. Not gonna happen. 

So, gentle readers, have you any personal experience with handcuffs--aside from recreational situations, of course? How did it change your life? Inquiring minds would love to know. 

L. j.


  1. But the recreational uses are fun. :)

    Nope, never been real handcuffed. I can now say I've been stopped by a cruiser since I got a ticket a year or two ago. Bleh.

    Your heart pounds and you mentally go through all the scenarios about what could possibly be wrong. And then you have to explain to the child in the back seat that he needs to be quiet while mommy talks to the nice police officer. Fun fun fun.

    1. Hi, Beth.

      I've only been in cars that have been stopped, but so far haven't been the one stopped...well, except for that one time at the airport when I went over 5mph. They get real persnickety about that.

  2. Wow, that had to be a scary experience, even though it wasn't real. I've considered doing that, but better not. I still can't put both hands together behind my back after shoulder surgery, and besides, I'm a little claustrophobic. I'm sure my cop tech advisor would accommodate me, but I think I'll opt out - maybe.

    I recently dreamed I was arrested while on a trip to my old home town (Chicago). It better not be a precognitive dream.

    Love your book.


    1. Hey, Joan. You could always have them cuff your hands in front of your body, just to get the experience.

      You'll have to let us know if the dream was precognitive...

      I'm so glad you like the book. This one was a real challenge to write, so I always breathe a sigh of relief when someone likes it.

  3. I've been handcuffed - numerous times! I was in the police academy and it was part of our training. We'd handcuff each other so we knew how to do it. Other than training, I've never been handcuffed.

    Those handcuffs are just the first of many liberties you lose when you're arrested. And invariably, as soon as they go on, that's when your nose starts to itch.

    1. Hi, Kathy. I'm so glad you stopped by, especially considering your training. Losing your liberties is a lot more disturbing than I had realized until I had this experience. I'm really glad I did it. And doubly glad my nose didn't start itching!

  4. I loved the book and am looking forward to the next installment.
    I'm curious as to whether you have any experience with the lock ties? That seems to be what's being used on the crime shows these days. Do you know if they are used very often in real life too? I'd rather not find out on my own :-)

    1. According to the law enforcement officers I worked with the lock ties aren't used as often as television depicts. Apparently they're easier to escape from. I think there are some that work, but they're used in the larger cities. The officer who "cuffed" me didn't have any available for me to try out!

      L. j.