#5 Wounded Hearts
This is the long-awaited sequel to my popular Wounded Hearts series. Many readers have asked about the missing DEA Agent, Maggie Holt, who was captured by sex traffickers.
This is her story:
I’m currently working on a contemporary novella for a box set coming out in the spring of 2017. The set will include stories set around the world of gambling.
The premise for my book is set around a father who gambles away the wedding ring passed down through generations and the bargain made between the winner and the bride-to-be.
Gardener looked at the ring and shrugged. “It’s been in my wife’s family for generations. My daughter is getting married next weekend and has always wanted this to be her wedding ring. I brought it to be cleaned but got sidetracked by this game. She’s going to hate me if I don’t have it to pass on to her husband.” He tapped his cards confidently. “Good thing I don’t have to worry about that, right gentlemen?”
The Arab crossed his arms and gazed back and forth between them, obviously getting as much enjoyment out of this turn of events as he did the game he’d just lost over a hundred-fifty grand playing.
Matt wavered between doing what he knew was right—his momma had ingrained the life lesson into his head—and grabbing the money and getting while the getting was good.
He couldn’t do it. Fair was fair.
“Throw it in there,” he grumbled, ignoring the Arab’s chuckle.
Gardener wheezed out a relieved sigh and dropped the ring on the pile seemingly without a thought to its legacy.
“Call,” he quipped, triumphant. He flipped his cards over in a fan proving why he’d been so damn sure of himself—a full house, jacks high.
He rubbed his chubby hands together and reached out to pull the winning pile his way.
A euphoric sense of accomplishment twisted Matt’s lips into their first true smile of the night. “You might want to hold up there, partner. You haven’t seen my hand yet.”
Both men leaned forward. One with interest. The other with a growing look of dread.
Matt displayed his cards one by one.
Queen of hearts. Queen of spades. Two of clubs. Queen of clubs.
Even the crooning Bublé went silent in anticipation.
Queen of diamonds.
Four of a kind.
Matt was now the proud owner of a diamond ring.
The Lady Said No
This is a cozy mystery I’m working on. The premise actually came from another book I wrote, Silver Bells, in which the hero is a bestselling writer of mystery novels set around a bumbling police investigator. (Think shades of Columbo :))
I’m having fun researching this one. The fashions in the 50’s was amazing!
Gus pulled up behind the sheriff’s car and nodded to the officer guarding the front door. Sheriff Tromley wasn’t going to be happy to see him. He tended to be territorial over his cases, but the chief had insisted, so here he was.
He took his time, gathering the leather briefcase that had been a gift from his ex-wife, his keys, a spare pen, and his trench coat in case the weather turned, rolled up the window and opened the door. Except now his hands were full and he couldn’t get out of the car. It took a few moments, some cringing when he inadvertently hit the horn with his elbow, but Gus finally managed to exit his Buick.
“Need any help, sir?” The young officer glanced doubtfully at the steep staircase leading up to the double entrance doors, then at him as though he were an old man in need of a walker.
Gus straightened his tie, darn near giving himself a shiner with the corner of the briefcase, and shook his head. “I can manage, thank you. Can you tell me where the sheriff is?”
“Out back, sir. Talking to the widow.”
That made sense. It was an established fact that in eighty-eight percent of murder cases, the killer was someone who knew the victim. He waited until the officer pointed which direction he should go, then Gus trudged down the walk, reviewing the case in his head.
Dead male, approximately forty-five years of age, found on the floor in his den with a pair of shears sticking out of his chest. The McMillon family were fourth generation horse breeders, and even had a colt who won two of three legs in the Triple Crown. Gus heard the horse was making the McMillon family more money now as a stud than he had racing. Nice way to retire.
He rounded the corner of the house, avoided the giant rose bush reaching out to grab his clothes, and sought out the elusive sheriff. There he was, on the other side of an Olympic-sized swimming pool, complete with waterfall. A gazebo provided both shelter and privacy from the house, but Gus could see just fine. And what he saw pulled him up short.
The sheriff had his arms wrapped around a woman who barely cleared his chest. Raven locks spilled down the back of her crimson red robe as she tilted her head to gaze into his eyes.
Augustus cleared his throat and the woman jumped, freeing herself from the sheriff’s embrace. Tromley glared across the distance, hands fisted at his sides, while the woman, Gus was sure it was the widow McMillon from the description he’d been given, spun away, tightening the belt on her bathrobe. As Gus neared she picked up a pack of cigarettes with trembling fingers and lit a smoke, took a long drag and exhaled, a blue cloud forming a nimbus around her head.
“What are you doing here, detective?” The sheriff crossed his arms over a barrel chest and scowled.
“Well, sir,” Gus started, then tripped over a step and almost went sprawling. He straightened and cleared his throat. “The, ah, chief asked me to come out and offer a hand. He’s worried what the press is going to do with this one. Mr. McMillon is… I mean was, sorry ma’am,” he said as the woman let out a soft cry. “Mr. McMillon was a prominent member of the Lexington community.”
“We’re aware of John’s standing in the community, Detective Grant,” the sheriff said. “There’s no need for you to be here. I just finished my interview with Mrs. McMillon and will have a report filed by this afternoon. It was clearly an accidental death. These things happen.” He glanced at the widow and his expression softened. “Trudy has been through enough. She found her husband in the den.” His gaze hardened as it returned to Gus. “I’m sure you’ll understand if she needs some space right now to gather herself.”
Gus hesitated, then nodded to the missus. “Sorry for your loss, ma’am. Take all the time you need. Mind if I step inside, maybe have a look at the crime scene? Question your staff?” He ignored the sheriff’s soft curse. “It’s just that it’s the chief’s orders and all. I won’t be long…” He waited while she made eye contact with the sheriff, and when she began to shake her head, he added, “Or I could start with you, ma’am, if you would prefer?”
“Grant,” the sheriff warned.
Mrs. McMillon sighed and stubbed out her cigarette on an elegant cut-crystal ashtray in the center of the table. “It seems you are determined. Go ahead then, question my staff. But don’t get in their way. They have jobs to do, same as you.” She sank into a deeply piled armchair and crossed slender legs, making no effort to stop the robe from sliding open dangerously high on her thigh. And of course she caught him looking. A feline smile temporarily chased the shadows from her eyes. “Anything else, Detective?”
A cold shower maybe?
Gus cleared his throat and fumbled with his briefcase. “Uh, no, thank you, ma’am. Appreciated.”
He turned and stumbled down the same dang step he’d tripped on earlier. He couldn’t imagine any man voluntarily giving her up, but you never knew what happened behind closed doors. He’d have a quick look-see, talk to a couple staff members, and be on his way. Case closed.
Except—it kind of bothered him. Shouldn’t she be a little more heartbroken at the loss of her husband? Shock triggered different reactions depending on the person, of course, but she’d seemed more worried about the staff getting their jobs done than getting to the truth. And what was going on between her and the sheriff?
He glanced surreptitiously over his shoulder and caught what seemed to be a heated exchange between the widow and the lawman. Obviously, they weren’t strangers. In fact, if he wasn’t mistaken, he’d have to say they had a history.
Question was; how recent?
I love the romantic suspense genre and Navy SEALs (who doesn’t? :)) and wanted to combine the two with another favorite, motorcycle clubs.
The premise of this story is that a woman disappears and her shy, geeky sister seeks help from the only man she thinks will be invested in her case- Reed McLaughlin.
Emma Stone knew the moment she entered the Twisted Sister it was a mistake. The biker bar was as rough on the inside as it was intimidating on the outside. If she weren’t so desperate she would’ve turned around and gone home the moment she saw the long line of bikes parked in front of the dilapidated building.
The noise from cheap speakers pumped way higher than their tweeters could take competed with rowdy laughter, the slap of pool cues striking balls, and the stench of unwashed bodies blending with spilled beer.
Em stood just inside the doorway, blinking like a lost owl. The scene in front of her bemused eyes was like something out of one of those thriller novels her sister enjoyed. She prayed Rose hadn’t ended up like one of those victims.
A burly guy in a leather vest covered in badges bumped into her, almost knocking her out with his breath. Hope he didn’t plan on driving.
“Well, looky here,” he slurred. “Aren’t you in the wrong church, sister?” He stuck his head back and roared, thoroughly amused at his obvious wit. Emma ducked her head and wished herself back home curled up on the sofa with her tortoiseshell cat, Thomas. He slung a beefy arm around her neck and tugged her under his armpit. “Sugar, what’s a girl like you doing in a place like this?”
Emma’s heart beat frantically as she pushed ineffectually against his chest. “Let me go. I need to find a man.” The words barely left her lips before she cringed.
He grinned down at her with teeth stained from tobacco and Lord knows what else. “Lucky you, you found one.” His moist lips puckered and his head lowered and Emma did the only thing she could—lifted her knee and caught him square between the legs.
His arms loosened, his face turned an alarming shade of green, and he dropped like a sack of potatoes.
Emma was feeling a little woozy herself. She’d seen it done on TV, but the women there stood over their fallen assailants with satisfied expressions and handcuffs. She had no cuffs and was terrified. What if his friends noticed? They’d probably shoot her on the spot.
A quick glance around showed her no one was paying them any attention. Relieved, she edged around the groaning mound and inched her way through the crowd up to the bar. A busty brunette in a too-short jean skirt and a black t-shirt with the words, I Really Feel Like Going for A Ride, emblazoned across her chest gave Emma the onceover before grabbing a couple of longneck bottles of beer dripping condensation from the counter.
“You’re in the wrong bar, honey,” she muttered, slipping off the high stool. “You better leave—while you can.” She sauntered over to a table in the corner. Emma could just make out a set of masculine jean clad legs stretched out and crossed at the ankle. The moment the woman got within range, arms, one covered in a sleeve of tattoos, reached out and tugged her onto his lap. She shrieked, but not in fear as Emma had done. This was more of a hello, baby, proven when she buried her lips against the stranger’s neck.
Embarrassed, Em turned away. It wasn’t that she was a prude, it’s just that there was a time and a place and public displays were neither. In her opinion romantic encounters belonged behind closed doors. Some people—her ex-boyfriend for one—would say it was an antiquated ideal, and maybe they were right. But, there weren’t half as many divorces in the days of courtship as there was now with the modern generation’s loose morals.
It took forever before the bartender noticed her. He made sure everyone was happy then worked his way down, laughing and chatting with the locals. He wiped his hands on a surprisingly white apron tied around a lean waist and leaned an elbow on the counter, arm bunching with impressive muscle. His bald head and a gold hoop dangling from his ear gleamed under the fluorescents. A tattoo of an eagle’s talons peeked out from the arm of his shirt.
“What’ll ya have?” he asked, eyeing her like she was an anomaly. Which she probably was, around here anyway.
“I’m, ah… looking for someone. Reed McLaughlin.” Emma caught the quick glance over her shoulder. She turned, but no one was there. “Do you know him?” she asked, not sure why the name would elicit that suspicious look she was now receiving from the previously friendly bartender.
“Maybe. What do you want him for?” He straightened and crossed his arms over a rock hard chest.
This was such a bad idea.
“I have a proposition,” she whispered.
He cocked his head. The earring flashed, mocking her. “Speak up, missy. This is a bar, and I can’t hear on the best of days.”
Emma twisted her hands, then grabbed deep for some courage. “I said, I have a proposition for Mr. McLaughlin.” The words rang loud and clear into the silence between one song and the next ear-splitting tune.
Someone laughed, and then the catcalls and wolf whistles began. Emma groaned, her face flaming as only a redhead’s could. She looked to the barkeeper for help, but his face was stoic. Despair brought a tear that she wiped viciously away. These people didn’t need to see her misery. No one cared.
She swung around to blindly head for the door, and practically rammed her nose into a man’s chest. Her distraught gaze climbed to an uncompromising jaw, firm, yet supple lips—her heart fluttered—a nose with a slight bump on the side like it had been broken at one time, and eyes that glittered almost black in this lighting.
Her knees gave out, but before she could slide to the ground in an ignominious heap a firm male hand gripped her arm and held her upright.
“My place or yours?” A voice like a cat’s contented purr rumbled in her ear.
So there really was a devil, and he was in Cincinnati.