Friday, July 1, 2022

No Such Thing as Goodbye by Karmen Špiljak - Book Tour

No Such Thing as Goodbye

A spy with a criminal past. A dark family secret. Freedom at the cost of betrayal.
To escape her mobster family, Toni fakes her own death, but before she can start anew in Mexico City, she’s pulled into a world of spies and deadly secrets. Her new life crumbles when she discovers her boss is keeping secrets of his own.
When word gets around that Toni’s brother is on his way to Mexico, she fears the worst -  he wants to hunt her down. Cornered and with nowhere to turn, Toni must decide: will she run once more, or will she risk her life for a chance of freedom?

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The official at the civil registry did not appear amused. His fat finger rubbed the thick fluff of his beard, as he measured me with cold curiosity. He then turned back to the medical certificate on the table and examined the paper against the light.

‘Yesterday, you say?’ He leaned back in his chair. ‘What’s the rush?’

I tried to remain composed, despite the fact my knee was twitching. As the official glanced at my leg, a slight tremor sneaked into my voice.

‘It’s the family, Señor. They want to hold a ceremony.’

The official raised his eyebrow, sending pinpricks down my spine.

‘Without a body?’

This is a mistake.

Pushing doubts aside, I said, ‘As the certificate explains, the body is too damaged to be transported. It has to be buried here.’

A long pause as he skimmed over the certificate. Once. Twice. Three times, as if he was searching for something.

He knows it’s a fake.

He put the certificate on the table and leaned back.

‘Hm, yes, an unmarked grave,’ he said in a strange tone, crossing his arms over his chest. ‘You’re sure this was your friend? Not some stranger?’

My tongue stuck to my palate and I eyed the glass of water on the table. The electric fan didn’t do much to cool down the room, it only added a nervous beat that sped up the rhythm of my heart.

‘Her phone, Señor. I was the last person she talked to, so they called me. Her passport was found at the site with some of her belongings…’

‘She burned but not her phone?’ he asked.

‘The phone fell out, Señor.’

The official stroked his beard, his eyes absent, as though he’d already made up his mind and he was only listening to check if I’d come clean. He glanced at the phone on his desk, then back at me.

‘What was she? Italian?’ he asked.

‘Dutch, Señor.’

His eyes narrowed. What if men like him couldn’t be bribed? What if he was only dragging out to get proof. Once again, he glanced at his phone.

Is he recording?

He held my gaze. Beads of sweat trickled down my buttocks.

‘I suppose you need this for the consulate?’

I nodded.

‘The family authorised you to make arrangements?’

Another nod.

He uncrossed his arms and picked up the certificate from the desk, rubbing the paper in his hands as if checking its thickness. Then, he took his phone and scrolled through the screen. He started to type something and grinned as he did. He turned back to me with a slightly dazed expression, almost as if he’d forgotten I was there.

‘I doubt this certificate will be… sufficient,’ he said.

My head thudded. ‘How come?’

He’s just stalling till the police arrive. Make an excuse. Get out.

He tapped his fingers on the desk. ‘I assume the consulate will need more information. More paperwork. This means there’ll be calls, inquiries, additional costs.’

Is he asking for money?

I struggled to read his face because he displayed no particular emotion. The next moment would be crucial. If this was a trap, I’d be walking right into it. Then again, what choice did I have?

‘Could I contribute to cover some of those costs?’ I asked, meekly.

His face remained stern, only the forehead wrinkled. Then he cocked an eyebrow. ‘Contribute?’

My stomach shrunk to the size of a marble and the thumping in my head felt like a giant drum that someone was hitting with both hands.


The whole plan crumpled like a piece of plastic thrown into a bonfire. Back home, bribing was easy. A few transfers here, an inflated fee there, a double transfer now and then, as if by mistake. Jimmy took care of whatever needed to be handled in cash.

The chair squeaked as the official stood up. He walked to the window and looked outside.

He’s checking for the police.

I couldn’t move. It was as though my limbs had stuck to the seat. The official raised his hand.

He’s giving them a sign.

Any time, the police would storm in and arrest me for fraud and corruption. The consulate would contact Jimmy to tell him I was in jail. Once Jimmy found out I’d tried to trick him, he’d make me suffer, way more than I could ever imagine. I’d never get another chance to get out, not unless it was in a coffin. In the end, Jimmy would get what he wanted.

After what seemed like many minutes, the official returned to the desk and opened the drawer. Tiny, blurry dots danced in front of my eyes.

‘Ten thousand.’

He said it so fast that I wasn’t sure I’d heard right. I took out my wallet and put the notes into the drawer. The last of my money.

‘And the certificate?’ I asked.

‘We’ll send it by the usual channels,’ he said.



Pushing down nausea, I unpeeled myself from the seat and stood up. My head was light and still throbbing, as though I was both drunk and hungover.

Now what?

Author Bio –

Karmen Špiljak is a Slovenian-Belgian writer of suspense, horror and speculative fiction.

Her short fiction has been awarded and anthologised. Her thriller, ‘No Such Thing as Goodbye’, was shortlisted and received an honourable mention at 'The Black Spring Crime Fiction Prize 2020'.

She lives in Sao Paulo with her husband, two mischievous cats and an undefined number of literary characters.

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