Monday, August 22, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? August 22, 2016


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's an opportunity to visit other blogs and to comment on their reads. And ... you can add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date. And here we are!

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We have had some beautiful weather lately and I spent most of Sunday morning sitting on the patio, reading. It was heavenly and so relaxing. Saturday was filled with family events and made for a long day and no reading time so it was nice to have that time Sunday morning. I hope you have a great week and are able to enjoy some nice weather, wherever you are. Happy reading!  

What I'm currently reading/listening to

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Out of Practice (Breakup Doctor #4)
by Phoebe Fox
Love this series!

An Ex to Grind in Deadwood (Deadwood #5)
by Ann Charles
(audiobook)
Wonderful to listen to.

What I recently finished

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The Beekeeper's Ball (Bella Vista Chronicles #2)
by Susan Wiggs
Book club pick and I really enjoyed it.

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Cold, Cold Heart: A Short Story
by Karin Slaughter
Very quick read, one of my must-read authors now. My thoughts will be posted on Wednesday.

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Eleanor & Park
by Rainbow Rowell
Awesome story!

What I am going to read next

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Between Heaven and Earth
by T.J. Rudolph
New to me author but the synopsis grabbed my attention.

I really love my reading life!

What are you reading this week?


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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Book Spotlight Giveaway! The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart


I have sooooo many books! I have a ton of print books and probably even more e-books. The Book Spotlight Giveaway feature that I post every Saturday is a way for me to clear my shelves and to share some of the many books I have. There are a lot of different reasons that I might be letting some of my books go, the biggest one is that when we moved a little over 2 years ago I discovered how many books I really do have. This feature is a way for my to cull my collection and to give someone else the opportunity to enjoy them.

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This is another ARC that I received from my daughter when she moved. I had never heard of this series, even though there are four books out. It's not really something I would read but it does look interesting. I am sure one of you will enjoy it! 

Good luck and be sure to stop back next week!

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The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict

The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict (The Mysterious Benedict Society 0.5) by Trenton Lee Stewart 
ARC, 470 pages
Published April 10th 2012 by Little, Brown and Company

Before there was a Mysterious Benedict Society, there was simply a boy named Nicholas Benedict. Meet the boy who started it all....

Nine-year-old Nicholas Benedict has more problems than most children his age. Not only is he an orphan with an unfortunate nose, but he also has narcolepsy, a condition that gives him terrible nightmares and makes him fall asleep at the worst possible moments. Now he's being sent to a new orphanage, where he will encounter vicious bullies, selfish adults, strange circumstances -- and a mystery that could change his life forever. Luckily, he has one important thing in his favor: He's a genius.

On his quest to solve the mystery, Nicholas finds enemies around every corner, but also friends in unexpected places -- and discovers along the way that the greatest puzzle of all is himself.


About the author

Trenton Lee Stewart

Trenton Lee Stewart is the author of the award-winning, bestselling Mysterious Benedict Society series for young readers, as well the adult novel Flood Summer. He lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Connect with Trenton

Goodreads | Amazon




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Friday, August 19, 2016

With Love from the Inside by Angela Pisel ~ My Thoughts

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With Love from the Inside

With Love from the Inside by Angela Pisel
Print and e-book, 320 pages
Published: August 9th 2016 by G.P. Putnam's Sons

Angela Pisel’s poignant debut explores the complex relationship between a mother and a daughter, and their quest to discover the truth and whether or not love can prevail—even from behind bars.

Grace Bradshaw knows the exact minute she will die. On death row for murdering her infant son, her last breath will be taken on February 15 at 12:01 a.m. Eleven years, five months, and twenty-seven days separate her from the last time she heard her precious daughter’s voice and the final moment she’d heard anyone call her Mom. Out of appeals, she can focus on only one thing—reconnecting with her daughter and making sure she knows the truth.

Secrets lurk behind Sophie Logan’s big house and even bigger bank account. Every day when she kisses her husband good-bye, she worries her fabricated life is about to come crumbling down. No one knows the unforgivable things her mother did to tear her family apart—not her husband, who is a prominent plastic surgeon, or her “synthetic” friends who live in her upscale neighborhood.

Grace’s looming execution date forces Sophie to revisit the traumatic events that haunted her childhood. When she returns to her hometown, she discovers new evidence about her baby brother William’s death seventeen years ago—proof that might set her mother free but shatter her marriage forever.

Sophie must quickly decide if her mother is the monster the prosecutor made her out to be or the loving mother she remembers—the one who painted her toenails glittery pink and plastered Post-it notes with inspiring quotes (“100 percent failure rate if you don't try”) all over Sophie’s bathroom mirror—before their time runs out.


My thoughts about With Love from the Inside ~~

(I love to note the first lines of the books I'm reading. First lines can really grab a reader's attention and I love seeing where the author takes the reader after their first line.)

First line—'The police took 'normal' away from me the moment they came rushing into William's hospital room. They dragged me from his crib while my helpless baby lay hooked up in his crib, struggling to breathe, needing his mother. I have been to doctor after doctor, but no one would listen to me when I tried to tell them something wasn't right.'

This book grabbed me from the very first chapter and I found myself not wanting to put it down. I was torn between the life Grace was living now, life on death row with other murderers and the life she lead before, as a loving wife and mother. How can this be the same person? Is she really the monster that everyone says she is?

And then there is Sophie, Grace's daughter. She is leading a secret life, so ashamed of the mother who she thought loved her. No one can know that her mom is a baby killer, not even her husband. With Love From the Inside was a story that quickly captured my attention and I devoured it. I can't wait to read more from Angela Pisel.

Thank you to First to Read for a copy of With Love from the Inside in exchange for my honest opinion.

About the Author

Angela Pisel

I love to write. When I don’t have my laptop or iPhone in front of me, I transcribe the pages of my day-to-day existence in dramatic detail that I (usually) keep confined to the few inches that live between the sides of my mostly straightened hair.

I decided to write my first novel after my obsession with TV trials led me to research women on death row. I didn’t find what I thought I’d find—how people end up where they end up continues to mesmerize me.

I was born in the Midwest, but have set up homes across the country after marrying my love who happened to be an Army physician. We have chosen to call North Carolina home.

The word I hear the most and adore more than any other is “MOM.” I have four kids who have the extraordinary gift of making me giggle, sniffle, cover my ears, and melt my heart all while attempting to get through our evening meal. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Connect with Angela


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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Release Day! Good Things Anthology by 10 Amazing Authors #GoodThingsBlast


Good things come from unexpected places...

Magic and mayhem. Vampires and gods. Cops and werewolves. The binding thread of mysticism in the modern world and acts of kindness, small and large, random and focused. Join these ten authors as we travel through their worlds.

All of the author proceeds from the sales of this anthology will go to the Random Acts Organization, sponsoring kindness throughout the world. This is not official Random Acts merchandise, but is a fundraising project under permission from the charity.

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publication Date: August 18, 2016
Charity: Random Acts of Kindness


Available in digital and print on Amazon!

Join the GOOD THINGS release day party on


happening August 18-20!


A. STAR (DIANTHA JONES)

Diantha Jones loves writing fantasy books filled with adventure, romance, and magic. She's the author of the Oracle of Delphi series, the Mythos series, and the Djinn Order series (as A. Star). When she isn’t writing or working, she is reading or being hypnotized by Netflix. She is a serious night-owl and while everyone else is grinning in the warmth and sunlight, she’s hoping for gloominess and rain. Yeah, she’s weird like that.


ANGELA B. CHRYSLER


Angela B. Chrysler is a writer, logician, philosopher, and die-hard nerd who studies theology, historical linguistics, music composition, and medieval European history in New York with a dry sense of humor and an unusual sense of sarcasm. She lives in a garden with her family and cats.

In 2014, Ms. Chrysler founded Brain to Books: the marketing promotional engine and online Encyclopedia for authors. A passionate gardener and incurable cat lover, Ms. Chrysler spends her days drinking coffee and writing beside a volume of Edgar Allan Poe who strongly influences her style to this day. When Ms. Chrysler is not writing, she enables her addictions to all things nerdy, and reads everything she can get her hands on no matter the genre. Occasionally, she finds time to mother her three children and debate with her life-long friend who she eventually married. Her writing is often compared to Tad Williams. Her influences are Edgar Allan Poe, The Phantom of the Opera, and Frankenstein.


J. KIM MCLEAN

Kim’ love of reading came after her mother introduced her to Tolkien and the Hobbit, followed by Lord of the Rings. She also lovingly blames her mother for her love of Science Fiction and Fantasy, thanks to being raised on Star Trek. Kim has always had a vivid imagination, but it wasn’t until she finished with graduate school (where she earned a Master’s of Science in Geology) that she found she could focus her imagination into creating her own characters and stories. Much of her writing has been for various play by email or forum role play universes, though Kim does hope this will be the first of many more stories she writes for publication.

When not writing, Kim can be found snowboarding, hiking, or doting on her furry beasts.

DARIEL RAYE


Dariel Raye is an award-winning author of powerful IR/MC (Interracial/Multi-cultural) paranormal romance and dark urban fantasy with alpha male heroes to die for and strong heroines with hearts worth winning. Her stories tell of shifters, vamps, angels, demons, and fey (the Vodouin variety). Dariel is currently writing three series: “Dark Sentinels” (wolf shifters), “Orlosian Warriors” (Vampire-like Nephilim), and “Gateway” (a crossover erotic paranormal suspense with romantic elements).
For more about Dariel, follow her blog or visit her website. She also publishes a new release newsletter. If you enjoyed this book, please post a review on review sites. You can also follow her and contact her on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest.


MIA DARIEN


Born a Connecticut Yankee in nobody's court, Mia Darien grew up to brave snow and talk fast. She started reading when she was three and never looked back, soon frequently falling asleep with a book under her cheek. (Something she still does, though these days it?s her Nook as often as a paperback.)

At eleven, she discovered Night Mare by Piers Anthony and entered the world of grown-up fantasy fiction and it was all over from there. She started writing at fourteen, then met vampires as a teenager and the concept for what would become Adelheid was soon born. Epic fantasy remains her first love, but she enjoys writing whatever stories come to mind in any genre.

Now she loves both writing and helping her indie community with her freelancing. A geek till the end, she enjoys role-play by email games and World of Warcraft when she has the time. Married to her very own Named Man of the North, she lives with him, their mini-tank (also known as their son) and pets, who usually act more childish than the child.


ABIGAIL OWEN


Award-winning paranormal and contemporary romance author, Abigail Owen was born in Greeley, Colorado, and resides in Austin, Texas, with her husband and two adorable children who are the center of her universe.

Abigail grew up consuming books and exploring the world through her writing. A fourth generation graduate of Texas A&M University, she attempted to find a practical career related to her favorite pastime by earning a degree in English Rhetoric (Technical Writing). However, she swiftly discovered that writing without imagination is not nearly as fun as writing with it.

CRYSTAL G. SMITH

Born a small town Missourian, Crystal grew up in a time where reading was used for her escape from the everyday worries of a young girl. She then began developing ideas of how she would write a book and what she would do with her characters. Soon, idea came to typewriter and then thankfully computers.

Her love of reading is not centered on one specific genre, but with her writing, she has a tendency to stay with the romance genre. Whether it be modern day romance or paranormal romance, and a lot of steamy, she enjoys writing a story where characters find love in one another no matter how twisted their lives.

She has written several stories for charity to date and continues to write novellas and novels. She is an indie author with a large imagination and even larger heart. She is married with four children, (even though two of them have four legs). She works full-time as a pediatric nurse and when she isn’t acting goofy with family, you can find her reading or writing.


KAT JAMESON

Kat Jameson has been having just plain wicked thoughts for about as long as she’s been writing, so it seemed like a very natural progression that the two would end up together. She is a woman who seems perfectly average on the outside, but believes in a great capacity for the power of love and the joy of sex and thinks constraints should be put on neither so long as everyone involved is happy. So that’s what she writes about.


CHRISTI RIGBY

Christi Rigby lives in Colorado with her husband and her two teen boys, rounding out the group is a bernese mountain dog and an old orange cat that can't seem to sleep in the morning past the need for some kibble at 5 am, then returns to the bed after it has been vacated but the owners. She has written a number of short stories for publication and is working on her first book to be published. When she is not writing at a keyboard she is always writing in her mind, so to say writing is her real life over the job she holds would be a fair representation. An avid guide along the path to geekdom for her children and friends, she is a fan of comic books, any number of Science Fiction/Fantasy television shows and movies, computer and console gaming, and just about anything Scandinavian or British Isles in nature. One day she hopes that her choice to make writing her life will lead to a visit to the Isle of Man.

JESSICA NICHOLLS


Jessica Nicholls is originally from Northern Illinois. She lived in the Northwest of England for just over ten years, where she studied and had her children. Jessica still lives overseas with her husband and two school age kids. Running, reading and watching films are her favourite hobbies. She loves spirits, passionate love stories, vampires, shape shifters, mythology and almost anything historical. The most important thing for her is for a story to feel real, something to genuinely escape into. Writing the type of stories she would enjoy reading is a passion.


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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz


Ashley Bell

Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz
Series: Ashley Bell #1
Print and e-book, 560 pages
Published: December 8th 2015 by Bantam

The must-read thriller of the year: Featuring the most exhilarating heroine in memory and a sophisticated, endlessly ingenious, brilliantly paced narrative through dark territory and deep mystery, this is a new milestone in literary suspense and a major new breakout book from the long acclaimed master.

At twenty-two, Bibi Blair’s doctors tell her that she’s dying. Two days later, she’s impossibly cured. Fierce, funny, dauntless, she becomes obsessed with the idea that she was spared because she is meant to save someone else. Someone named Ashley Bell. This proves to be a dangerous idea. Searching for Ashley Bell, ricocheting through a southern California landscape that proves strange and malevolent in the extreme, Bibi is plunged into a world of crime and conspiracy, following a trail of mysteries that become more sinister and tangled with every twisting turn.

Unprecedented in scope, infinite in heart, Ashley Bell is a magnificent achievement that will capture lovers of dark psychological suspense, literary thrillers, and modern classics of mystery and adventure. Beautifully written, at once lyrical and as fast as a bullet, here is the most irresistible novel of the decade. 



My thoughts about Ashley Bell ~~

I am a huge fan of Dean Koontz. I used to read every book of his, as he published them. Then for some reason, I stopped reading his books. I'm not really sure why and it makes me sort of sad that I did. When I read the synopsis of Ashley Bell though, I knew I had to get reacquainted with one of my favorite authors. 

Ashley Bell was exactly the fantastic story that I remember Koontz writing in the past. It totally drew me in and I flew through the pages. And this book serves as a reminder to me of why I loved his books in the past. I will forever be a fan! 

And Ashley Bell is book #1. There will be more to come! Yay!! 

I received a copy of Ashley Bell from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. 

About the author


Acknowledged as "America's most popular suspense novelist" (Rolling Stone) and as one of today's most celebrated and successful writers, Dean Ray Koontz has earned the devotion of millions of readers around the world and the praise of critics everywhere for tales of character, mystery, and adventure that strike to the core of what it means to be human.

Dean R. Koontz has also published under the names Leigh Nichols, Brian Coffey, David Axton, Owen West, Deanna Dwyer and Aaron Wolfe.

Dean lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, their golden retriever, Anna, and the enduring spirit of their golden, Trixie.

Connect with Dean



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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Book Blitz: Sting by Sandra Brown, Chapter 1, and a Giveaway!



Sting

Sting by Sandra Brown
Published by: Grand Central
Publication date: August 16th 2016
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense


When Shaw Kinnard encounters the incongruously elegant Jordie Bennet in a seen-better-days bayou bar, it’s not love at first sight. He’s there to kill her. Instead, he abducts her, eager to get hold of the $30 Million her brother has pocketed from his badly bent boss. Now they are on the run from said boss—and the FBI.


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STING by Sandra Brown

CHAPTER 1

Three days earlier, Shaw had been sunning himself beside a sapphire-blue swimming pool, watching two topless girls cavort in the shallow end, catching a buzz from a tall, pastel drink from which a hibiscus blossom sprouted, enjoying the hedonistic lifestyle that could be bought with new money in Old Mexico.

He was a guest in a villa that sat on a cliff overlooking the Gulf. The white stucco structure sprawled atop a jungle-draped hillside that tumbled down onto the sandy shore. The palatial property belonged to the man Shaw would execute later that night.

However, that afternoon as he’d watched the girls play and sipped the tropical cocktail, he didn’t know that yet.

After the swimming party, guests had been given time to retreat to their rooms and change into their casual chic before reconvening for an extended cocktail hour, followed by a four-course dinner served by a deferential, all-male staff who wore white cotton gloves on their hands and carried black pistols belted around their crisply starched uniforms. For dessert each guest was offered his choice of sweet confection, after-dinner cordial, controlled substance, and senorita.

While making his selections, Shaw’s cell phone vibrated. He excused himself to take the call and left the terrace for one of the open-air rooms that accessed it. The study was opulently furnished. Too opulently. It attested to the owner’s youthful flamboyance and poor judgment.

Shaw answered his phone with a laconic “Yeah?”

A gravelly voice said, “You know who this is?”

Mickey Bolden.

Shaw had spent months trying to win enough trust to be granted an interview with the hit man. He finally agreed to a meeting with Shaw, during which both were watchful and wary . . . of their surroundings, surely, but mostly of each other. In carefully coded language, Shaw had provided Mickey with his résumé and the extent of his experience in their unique field of endeavor.

Something, maybe his subtlety and disinclination to boast, had convinced Mickey that he was competent. At the conclusion of their coffee date, Mickey said he would been in touch should the need for Shaw’s services ever arise. That had been six months ago. Shaw had almost given up hope of hearing from him.

“You still want a job?”

Shaw glanced out onto the terrace where the dessert course had deteriorated into a full-fledged orgy. “One-man show?”

“You partner with me.”

“Must be a special gig.”

“You want it or not?”

“What’s the split?”

“Fifty-fifty.”

You couldn’t get more fair than that. “When do you need me?”

“Thursday.”

That had been Tuesday evening, leaving Shaw very little time to wrap up his job there and get to New Orleans by the appointed time.

He’d had a hundred more questions for Mickey Bolden, but, the opportunity being too good to pass up, and figuring he would get the details of the contract soon enough, he’d put his curiosity on hold and told the man that he could count on him.

It had required some deft maneuvering and tortuous travel, but he’d finished his business in Mexico that night and managed to reach Louisiana with time to spare. He and Mickey had rendezvoused yesterday and then had driven together to the township of Tobias this morning.

They’d spent the day reconnoitering and developing a strategy for how best to go about killing Jordan Elaine Bennett, owner of Extravaganza, a much-sought-after event planning business in New Orleans. She was sister to and only living relative of Joshua Raymond Bennett, a much-sought-after crook.

He and Mickey had followed Jordie Bennett around town as she ran mundane errands. At a little after six p.m. this evening she’d returned home. They’d waited three hours, but she didn’t reappear. Believing their target had settled in to spend a quiet Friday night at home, he and Mickey had gone to a local diner for dinner. Over tough steaks and greasy fries, Mickey outlined a plan of attack.

Shaw had expressed surprise when Mickey had identified their target the day before. Now he questioned the expediency of the hit. “Why tomorrow?”

“Why not?”

“Seems rushed. I figured we’d watch her for a few more days, get a better feel for her routine, then pick the best place and time.”

“Panella picked our time,” Mickey said as he sawed into his T-bone. “And the customer is always right. He wants it done tomorrow, we do it tomorrow.”

“He’s under a deadline?”

“Looks like.”

Following dinner, they’d decided to wash down the bad food with a drink before making the hour drive back to New Orleans. This bar had been recommended by the diner’s busboy, whose standards obviously weren’t very high.

However, it had suited their purposes, because in no-name places like this everyone kept his head down.

Jordie Bennett sure as hell did. As Shaw continued walking along the bar toward her, she was concentrating hard on her glass of wine as though waiting for it to ferment some more. When he reached the end of the bar, he didn’t break stride, but walking right past her, he caught a whiff of expensive perfume. A spicy scent. Something exotic and elusive that would make a man want to conduct a sniffing search for its source along all sixty-six inches of her.

He didn’t stop till he reached the listing Wurlitzer against the wall. Standing in the multicolored glow of its bubbling tubes, he propped his forearm on the arced top. The stance put his body at a slight angle so that while he flipped through the song selection cards pretending interest, he could use his peripheral vision to keep an eye on Jordie.

She took a sip of wine with lips straight out of a dirty dream, then lowered the glass to the bar and left her hand resting there. Long slender fingers. No rings. Nail polish so pale Shaw wondered why she’d bothered to spend an hour in the salon that afternoon. Her wristwatch was a basic tank style with a no-nonsense brown alligator strap, more practical than pretty, but you could probably buy a good used car with what she’d paid for it.

A satin bra strap showed in the sleeveless armhole of her simple white top, and, with the slightest motion of her head, it was brushed by long strands of mahogany-colored hair that looked even more satiny. Her sandals were high-heeled and her jeans tight. Perched on the bar stool, her ass looked real sweet.

He wasn’t the only man in the place to have noticed. A guy, younger than her by at least a decade, younger than Shaw by twice that, was being egged on by his pool-playing buddies. Fueled by whiskey and goaded by guffaws, he sauntered over to the empty stool beside hers.

“You mind?”

Her small red handbag, no larger than a letter envelope, was lying on the bar, a silver chain snaking from it. She scooted it closer to her, granting the yokel permission to claim the stool.

Maybe Mickey was right, and she was cruising. But she hadn’t looked at the would-be Romeo with either recognition or encouragement, and Shaw wouldn’t place odds on him succeeding at anything except to annoy her.

Shaw looked toward Mickey to see if he’d observed that she now had company. He had. His porcine face had turned red and sweaty. He was talking on his cell phone. Shaw didn’t have to wonder who was on the other end of that call. No doubt Mickey was consulting with their retainer about how they should proceed now that Ms. Bennett’s surprise appearance had thrown a wrench into the plan.

Shaw returned his attention to the progression of the romance. As expected, Jordie Bennett was replying to the guy’s slurred come-ons with increasing impatience. He was young and drunk and out to prove his appeal to the fairer sex, but couldn’t he see that he was way out of his league? Not that Shaw faulted the fool for taking a stab at it. Shag her, have bragging rights for life.

Coming from his blind side, a hand landed heavily on Shaw’s shoulder. Automatically he reached toward his pistol.

“Relax,” Mickey growled, “it’s me.” He pointed to the song list. “They got any Merle Haggard?”

Shaw flipped back through a few of the song menu cards. “Who were you talking to on the phone?”

“Who you think?”

“What did he say?”

“Dropped a load of F bombs, then said this dive was getting crowded and we should split. Like now.” He subtly tilted his head toward the scene being acted out behind him. The drunk was leaning toward Jordie Bennett at such a steep angle, he was barely maintaining his balance on the bar stool. “What’re they doing now? What about him? You see anything that should have us worried?”

Shaw watched the couple for several moments longer, then shook his head. “He only wants in her pants.”

“You sure?”

“I’m sure.”

“Okay. Let’s go.” Mickey turned away from the jukebox and led the way to the exit.

Shaw fell into step behind him. He resisted the temptation to take one last look at Jordie Bennett.

As soon as he and Mickey cleared the door, he sucked in a deep breath to try and ease the tension between his shoulder blades and to clear his head of bar fug.

But the outside air was hot and humid, only a little fresher than that inside the bar. His shoulders remained tense as he followed Mickey to their car. They’d left it at the far edge of the parking lot, which was only a fan-shaped patch of crushed oyster shells in front of the tavern.

Mickey wedged himself into the passenger seat. As subordinate partner on this job, it fell to Shaw to drive. Which was okay by him. He hated riding shotgun. If and when a situation went tits-up, he liked having control of the vehicle.

He put the key in the ignition, but Mickey said, “Hold on. We’re not going anywhere yet.”

Shaw’s heart bumped. “Why not?”

“We’re doing it here.”

Shaw just looked at him, then, “You joking?”

“No. Panella said there’s no time like the present.”

“Hell, there isn’t,” Shaw hissed, gesturing back toward the bar. “We were seen in there.”

“Which is another reason why Panella said to go ahead.”

“That doesn’t makes sense.”

“Makes perfect sense.”

“Only if you want to get caught. Speaking for myself, I don’t.”

“So then don’t get caught.” Mickey grunted with the effort of extracting his pistol from the holster lodged between the folds of his belly. “Panella advises against it, too.”

“Easy for him to say. It’s not his ass that’s exposed, is it?”

Mickey gave him a sidelong glance. “First time out and you’re going soft on me.”

“Not soft, old man. Sensible. I don’t see why the fucking hurry.”

“I explained that.”

“Yeah, but tomorrow would be soon enough.”

“Not anymore. Panella has changed his mind. Small town like this, where everybody knows everybody? Word gets around quick that there’s two ‘strangers’ in town.”

“Okay. So we wait to do it till she goes back to New Orleans.”

“That could be days. She doesn’t go into the city on a regular basis. Works out of her house here a lot. Anyhow, it’s not our decision to make. Panella says get her done, especially now that we happened to be caught under the same roof as the target.”

Shaw understood the reasoning, but he still didn’t like it. Not at all.

Mickey kept talking. “Like you, Panella is scared that maybe her showing up here tonight isn’t a coincidence.”

“That’s what I said, but I was only mouthing off. Her coming here has gotta be a fluke. There’s no way she could know about us.”

“Well, whatever, Panella said to do it now, so . . . ” For punctuation, Mickey used the slide of his 9mm to chamber a bullet.

Shaw realized two things: His vote didn’t count, and further argument was pointless. “Shit.” He pulled his pistol from its holster and glanced back toward the door with the crackling neon sign above it. “So how do you want to do it?”

“We wait here till she comes out. If the redneck asshole leaves with her, you pop him. I’ll take care of her.”

“If she comes out alone?”

“I’ll do the honors,” Mickey said as he worked his hands into latex gloves. He passed a pair to Shaw. “You take her purse. Panella says to make it look like a robbery gone bad. A random crime.”

“With no connection to either him or her brother.”

“With no connection to anything.”

Shaw scoffed. “Like anybody will believe that.”

Mickey chuckled. “Not your problem who believes what. You’ll be far and away, enjoying your half of two hundred grand.”

“That’ll buy a nice boat.”

“That’ll buy nice pussy.”

“Your mind’s in the gutter, Mickey.”

He chuckled again. “Where it feels right at home.”

Noticing motion from the corner of his eye, Shaw took another look through the rear window. “Here she comes.”

“By herself ?”

Shaw waited to answer until the door had closed behind Jordie Bennett and no one followed her out. “Yep.”

Since the building didn’t have any exterior lighting, the parking lot was almost in complete darkness. A pale, slender moon was obscured by the moss-bearded branches of an oak that extended across three-quarters of the lot. There were no approaching headlights from either direction of the narrow state road.

Seizing the opportunity, Mickey opened his car door and got out, moving with more alacrity than Shaw would have thought him capable of. The fat man was jazzed. Mickey Bolden relished his line of work.

But so did Shaw. The tequila shots hadn’t given him near the rush that straight-up adrenaline did now.

Being as light-footed as possible, they followed Jordie Bennett as she wended her way through the parking lot. It was jammed with dented pickup trucks and salt-water-corroded heaps. Her recent model sedan was a shiny, sleek standout. She used a key fob to unlock the driver’s door.

Shaw captured another drift of that seductive fragrance as she suddenly did an about-face.

Apparently his and Mickey’s footfalls on the crushed shells hadn’t been as light as they’d thought. Or maybe animal instinct had alerted her to mortal danger. In any case, when she saw them rushing toward her, her lips parted on a quick inhale, her eyes went wide with alarm.

As Mickey swiftly closed the distance between them, his right hand snapped up from his side with precision and deadly purpose.

The sound suppressor on the pistol muffled the shot, but in the surrounding stillness, the spitting noise seemed as loud to Shaw’s ears as a fire alarm.

Mickey dropped like a sack of cement, his ravaged head hemorrhaging a red tide over the crushed shells.

Jordie Bennett watched in horror as a stream of blood funneled toward her sandals. Then she looked up at Shaw, who still held his pistol shoulder high and extended toward her. He said, “My half just doubled.”

About the author


Sandra Brown is the author of more than sixty New York Times bestsellers, including DEADLINE (2013), LOW PRESSURE (2012), LETHAL (2011), TOUGH CUSTOMER (2010), SMASH CUT (2009), SMOKE SCREEN (2008), PLAY DIRTY (2007), RICOCHET (2006), CHILL FACTOR (2005), WHITE HOT (2004), & HELLO, DARKNESS (2003).

Brown began her writing career in 1981 and since then has published over seventy novels, bringing the number of copies of her books in print worldwide to upwards of eighty million. Her work has been translated into over thirty languages.

A lifelong Texan, Sandra Brown was born in Waco, grew up in Fort Worth and attended Texas Christian University, majoring in English. Before embarking on her writing career, she worked as a model at the Dallas Apparel Mart, and in television, including weathercasting for WFAA-TV in Dallas, and feature reporting on the nationally syndicated program “PM Magazine.”

In 2009 Brown detoured from her thrillers to write, Rainwater, a much acclaimed, powerfully moving story about honor and sacrifice during the Great Depression.

Brown recently was given an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Texas Christian University. She was named Thriller Master for 2008, the top award given by the International Thriller Writer’s Association. Other awards and commendations include the 2007 Texas Medal of Arts Award for Literature and the Romance Writers of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

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