Yesterday’s Mysteries Continue!

Sam Cheever has added another great book to this fun, unique series. A fascinating mix of historical, paranormal and cozy mystery, the Yesterday’s books are unlike anything you’ve probably read before. Here’s what readers are saying about Sam’s latest installment:

“…this is the fourth one of this series and they just keep getting better as they go. Sam is able to keep it fresh and that is one of the things I love about her writing. You SHOULD try it.” Amazon reviewer

“Wow what a mystery! Loved the characters and the story line! Sam has done a great job as always!” Charity Chimni Reviews

“Another AMAZING book from Sam! …a great murder mystery. It was very creatively written with enough twists to keep me guessing until the end. We’ll done Sam!!!” Amazon reviewer

Excerpt

Yesterday, 1850

The grand parlor was done up in its usual, breathtakingly spectacular fashion, with candles twinkling from every surface, silver silks draping the massive tree in the very center of the huge space, and the familiar scent of pine coming from yard upon yard of fresh pine boughs decorating the room. The boughs were wrapped in red velvet ribbon and sparkled with thousands of glass beads that captured the flickering candlelight and turned it into fairy magic.

Young Elizabeth Nelson hid behind the banister of the upstairs walkway and watched through the wide double doors as the graceful beauties in the ballroom swayed and flirted behind delicate lace fans, their dashing dates fawning outrageously. She sighed, her eyes tearing up with happiness at the sight.

Someday she’d be a lovely dancer, with a slender frame made perfect under the auspices of whalebone and strapping. She wouldn’t even mind the discomfort of having her innards compacted, as her beautiful cousin Charlotte liked to lament. Lissie’s nine-year-old waistline had a ways to go to even become compact-able. Eyeing the elegant dove gray silks, burgundy-toned sashes, and emerald satins on the women swaying to the waltz far below, Lissie knew she’d be the Belle of the Ball one day. The thought made her smile, despite the moisture in her eyes that made stars dance around the candles.

There was a commotion near one of the veranda doors and she turned to find Papa returning from a smoke in the gardens with several older gentlemen of a certain wealth and status. The men had rosy cheeks and were even more animated than usual, no doubt nurturing the brisk December air in the center of their well-padded breasts.

Lissie watched her Papa with a regretful gaze, knowing that if she were down there with him he’d wrap her up in his big strong arms. He’d smell of crisp clean air and his favorite pipe. She’d love nothing more than to sit on his substantial lap and watch the dancing from only a short distance away…to experience the music as the dancers were…a beautiful memory in the making.

The thought made her sigh wistfully.

A servant ran up to Papa and whispered in his ear. His handsome round face folded into a sudden frown and he nodded briskly, quickly addressing his friends before hurrying away to attend to whatever the servant had revealed. Lissie returned her attention to the dancers, her small chin propped on a pale, pudgy fist.

She was so entranced by the people and the music the first scream didn’t quite register in her mind. It wasn’t until a moment later, when one scream became several and the music stuttered to a halt, that Lissie finally turned to see what horrible consequence had occurred to mar the annual Nelson Christmas Ball.

A beautiful young woman Lissie knew all too well stumbled out of the downstairs hall and fell against the banister. She was white as a sheet and her beautiful dress was covered in a glossy splotch of vivid red blood. Lissie leapt to her feet with a gasp as she realized the woman was mortally hurt. She was ready to run down the stairs. To help in any way she could.

But then Papa ran from the shadows, his face pale as paper and his big hands covered in blood. In that moment Lissie realized her comfortable, beautiful world might have been irretrievably lost. That was when she screamed. When the nine-year-old saw a version of her much-anticipated future she didn’t want to see. And when Papa’s haunted gaze lifted to hers, it was the reason Lissie ran sobbing away from him, instead of into his once comforting embrace.

 

Present Day

Pratt’s big hands clutched the steering wheel, capturing Anna’s attention and holding it as the sun caressed the bleached blond hairs along his strong forearms and burnished his short-cut dark brown hair. She smiled, feeling lucky to be in the company of her two favorite men, heading for a party.

Pratt turned at her perusal and fixed his wide, golden brown gaze warmly on her. “You okay?”

She nodded, feeling excitement churning in her stomach as Pratt turned into the long, winding driveway. “I’m perfect.”

“Yes, you are.”

She bit her lip to squelch a pleased grin and turned toward their destination. “Oh, look at the lights!” Up ahead, perched on the top of a hill and burnished by what looked like a thousand strands of silvery lights, Nelson Hall looked like something out of a fairy tale. “It’s beautiful.”

Pratt threw her a smile, nodding. “Duncan has really done some work on the old place.”

It was true. The last time they’d visited the big, historical Hall it had been in a terrible state of disarray, with overgrown trees and grounds, a broken gate and crumbling structures everywhere. Duncan himself had been broken, a lonely man who’d given up on life. But things had changed for the better at Nelson Hall and Anna knew she and her friends had had some small part in that.

Not the least of which was returning one of Duncan’s ancestors to the fold to keep him company. With that thought in mind, Anna turned to observe the overly quiet passenger in the backseat. Joss had his trademark cowboy hat pushed back on his head and was perusing the spectacle on the hill with a slight frown on his handsome face. She took a beat to enjoy the view, taking in his long, muscular legs, thick dark gold hair and broad, chiseled jawline, complete with a permanently etched stubble that made him seem a little bit dangerous. A useful thing in a ghost from the 1800s. “Penny for your thoughts?” she offered with a smile.

Joss didn’t notice the smile, he was laser-focused on their destination. “The place brings to mind Gotham City in its day.”

She turned in her seat, giving him her full attention. “You’ve been to New York City?”

“Not directly, no.” He finally looked her way, fixing her with an intense, dark-blue stare. “Old friend of mine went there once. He described it in a post card and this here’s exactly the way I pictured it in my mind.”

Pratt eyed their friendly specter in the rear-view mirror. “I’ll bet Lissie will be glad to see you.”

Anna saw the quick concern darkening Joss’s handsome features before he quelled it. She wondered at its cause. He’d had a similar reaction every time they’d mentioned seeing the sweet but troubled ghost again. Even though he’d worked hard to hide it from her. “Are you glad to be seeing her?” she asked softly.

“To be honest, the prospect does make me a mite all-overish. The gal was a bit unpredictable the last time we saw her. I just hope she don’t hit the ether runnin’ when she finds out poor Bessy couldn’t come as promised.”

Bess. Anna sighed. The long-dead saloon girl had always been …difficult…but she’d been uncharacteristically morose all week since realizing she wasn’t going to be able to attend the party with them. “I’m at a loss as to what’s holding her to Yesterday’s,” Anna said. She glanced at Joss. “You know I’d find a way to bring her if I could, right?”

Something in her tone must have reached through Joss’s weighty thoughts and yanked his attention, finally, to her. “Don’t you worry yourself about it, darlin’. I reckin’ I’ve just grabbed a rattler by the tail one too many times of late. I’m a bit horse-shy.”

Pratt chuckled. “I know the feeling. That’s why this outing will be perfect. The Apple Blossom Ball is behind us. All that ugliness is shoved into the past. This will be good for us.” He gave Anna a gentle smile. “It’ll be fun to just enjoy the holidays with friends.”

“The past ain’t inclined to stay there, Puke,” Joss grumbled. “Me and Bessy and Lissie are proof of that.” Still, when Pratt pulled around the newly repaired fountain to the base of the wide front steps, Joss did perk up and look a bit happier.

Anna shoved her door open and stepped outside, her gaze drawn immediately to the happy fall of water from the large fountain. The naked woman at its center carried a stone vessel on her shoulder and the water sprouted from the top of it, cascading over the pocked form of the ice-covered statue and splashing in silvery sparkles into the deep basin at her feet. Red and green lights, fixed on the inside lip of the basin, bathed the woman’s form in Christmas colors. The last time they’d visited Anna remembered the basin had been full of leaves and it had been dry. Certainly, there had been no cheery lights.

“I’m surprised Duncan has this thing running right now. It’s likely to be a giant popsicle before we leave.”

“I’m glad he does,” Anna told Pratt, smiling. “It’s such a happy sight and sound.”

“Much better than before,” he agreed with a nod.

“There you are!”

They turned to find Duncan smiling at them from the open door. “Come on in before you freeze to death.”

Placing a hand in the small of Anna’s back, Pratt leaned close and lowered his voice. “Dangit, I was hoping to get to use the Ebeneezer Scrooge door knocker again.”

Anna chuckled softly. “We’ll come back out and give it a pound or two later, when Duncan’s not looking.”

“If you don’t mind, darlin’, I’m gonna pop off and find Miss Lissie.”

“Of course, Joss.” She started to reach out and touch his arm, stopping just before her hand found his to avoid the snap of electricity her touch would create. “Tell her I said hi, will you? I’ll look for her later and we can have a nice chat.”

Joss inclined his head and, after throwing Pratt a look filled with meaning Anna couldn’t decipher, he disappeared.

She would have asked Pratt what the look had been about, but Duncan was frantically ushering them inside. She made a mental note to ask Pratt later. It wouldn’t be the first time the two men made a plan behind her back. Usually it involved ensuring her protection. She didn’t mind the fact that they cared about keeping her safe. It was the implication that she needed protection at a Christmas party that was making her stomach tighten.

That thought threatened to put a damper on her day. Fortunately for her the dire thought was chased completely away when she stepped through the door.

And found herself smack dab in fairy land.

~SC~

Duncan’s eyes sparkled as she stood before the thirty-foot Christmas tree, its graceful branches dipping under the weight of candle-shaped lights and silver silk. “What do you think?”

Anna shook her head, too filled with emotion to speak. “It’s beyond amazing.” She looked around the huge ballroom, taking in the rich green of the draped evergreen boughs wrapped in the vibrant red of fat cranberries, and the abundance of spluttering white candles in polished silver holders. “Everything is gorgeous. I can’t believe this is the same place I visited before.”

He nodded, clearly pleased. “I’ve tried to make it as much like it used to be as possible.”

“It looks very authentic.”

“I had an expert help me.”

She skimmed him a look and found him grinning widely.

“Lissie?”

Duncan nodded. “She’s been such a joy, Anna. I can’t thank you enough for bringing her to me.”

A ponderous knocking sound filled the space, halting Anna’s response.

Duncan held up a finger. “Hold that thought. I’ll be right back.”

She watched him hurry toward the door, noting the bounce in his step and the way he held himself. He truly did look healthier than the last time she’d seen him. She wondered if it all had to do with Lissie or if there was something else…

“Duncan seems changed,” Pratt said from behind.

Anna turned to look at him. “Yes. He’s apparently enjoying having Lissie here.”

“Well, that’s good…right?” Pratt fixed her with a speculative look. “You don’t look happy.”

Anna checked herself, realizing that he was right. She’d been frowning thoughtfully. “I am. I was just thinking…”

“Gird your loins!”

Anna rolled her gaze around to Joss, standing at her other side. “Excuse me?”

He cocked a hip, shoving his hat back on his head as he gave her his trademark lop-sided grin. “Nothin’ good ever comes from a woman’s wool gatherin’, darlin’.”

“You should talk.” She glanced behind him. “Didn’t find Lissie?”

“Oh, I found her all right. The gal’s in a rare pucker. She’s backin’ and fillin’ like the world was perched on her shoulders.”

“Maybe she just didn’t want to talk to you,” Pratt said unhelpfully.

“Shut pan, Puke. ’Sides, I ain’t no coot. I cotton when to skedaddle.” He shook his head, clearly insulted that Lissie hadn’t been happy to see him.

“She’s probably just feeling the pressure of the party. Apparently, Duncan has relied pretty heavily on her to make this event just like the ones his family used to hold here.” She twisted her fingers together before she gave in to the desire to touch him. All that would create was pain and sparks. Not exactly comforting. She’d have to rely on words. But they didn’t seem enough. Ever since she’d temporarily lost him due to a murderer’s scheming, Anna couldn’t seem to stand the thought of him being, even slightly, unhappy.

Not having him around had made her realize more than ever that she loved the handsome ghost more than she should. “Maybe you could offer to help,” she said softly. “Lissie is very proud. She probably doesn’t know how to ask. But if you offered…”

Joss scrubbed a hand over his square chin, seeming to consider her suggestion.

“I guess it wouldn’t hurt none ta ask.”

“Good luck,” she told him on a smile as he popped away.

A brisk wind filtered past as Duncan held the door open for his new arrivals. Anna shivered, rubbing her arms. Something dark slipped through her consciousness and she had a moment’s panic that the cold was more than a gust of outside air.

“I should get our suitcases,” Pratt told her, frowning. “You’re cold.”

“I’m fine.” Anna touched his arm. “They can wait until later. But thanks for offering.”

“Hey, the ghost isn’t the only one who can be gallant.”

She laughed.

“Hi, Miss Yesterday.”

She turned at the familiar voice, which squeaked just a bit at the end of her name. Pierce Johnson shoved long fingers into his unruly red hair and grimaced, quickly patting the shiny curls back into place. He was dressed with his usual tidy perfection, in ruthlessly creased charcoal slacks, which were too short as usual and showed striped red and white socks beneath the cuffs. The socks were folded an exact and careful inch from the top. He wore a red button-down shirt whose sleeves were also creased and the tails were tucked with manic precision into the usual white belt holding his trousers around a narrow waist.

The eighteen-year-old autistic man seemed uncomfortable in the new place, his gaze downcast and his fingers twining nervously together.

“How are you, Pierce? You look very festive today.”

“I’m festive every day, Miss Yesterday. But I’m a little discombobulated. I had cranberries in my oatmeal this morning instead of banana.”

“That’s his new favorite word,” a woman laughed, coming up to him and giving him a quick hug that he shrugged off with a frown.

“It’s a good word, mother. I like good words.” He plucked at his shirt, gazing around. “There is no dirt in this place. Mr. Nelson is not negligent with his duties as a homeowner.”

Heather Johnson took her son’s rebuff and quick change of subject in good form. She was no doubt used to it. Her son didn’t like being touched. “How are you, Anna? Pratt? Isn’t this place amazing?”

“It is. I can’t believe how much Duncan’s done since I last saw it.”

“He didn’t do it alone,” Heather told her. “Scarlett’s been helping him.” She frowned. “It’s really too bad Ellie couldn’t be here. I think she’d definitely approve.”

Anna didn’t comment, knowing Duncan’s sister could have been with him if she’d considered family over her own desires.

“I didn’t know Scarlett was back,” Pratt offered. “After what happened at the Ball, I assumed she’d get as far away from Crocker as she could.” He smiled when he said it, but Anna knew the sentiment was real and she shared it.

Heather chuckled. “That was a mess wasn’t it?”

Anna thought it a weird way to refer to murder. She frowned, remembering the terrifying events. Despite the fact that she and Pratt had taken a big step in their relationship, she still had trouble sleeping and found herself jumping at the slightest thing. “I think it will affect all of us for a long time to come.”

“I brought some of my famous apple cake, Miss Yesterday.” Pierce’s gaze spun around the room, carefully avoiding being caught by anyone else there. “You have to promise not to eat it all. You know you tend to be kind of an oink around my baking.”

“Pierce Adam Johnson, you apologize right now,” Heather scolded in an urgent whisper.

He shrugged, finally skimming a quick look over her face. Anna saw the humor in his eyes and barely kept from smiling herself. “No, he’s right, Heather. I think I ate three slices at the fair. My jeans definitely suffered for a couple of weeks afterward.”

Pierce nodded, his lips turning up at the corners.

Pratt dropped a hand into the small of Anna’s back. “Your jeans fit just fine, Boss. Don’t let this rascal tease you for enjoying his delicious cake.”

Pierce plucked at his shirt and skimmed a look past Pratt’s face. “Where’s the cowboy? I need to speak to him about the pudgy lady. She’s yelling at everybody and making them nervous.”

Heather sighed. “He has such an imagination.”

Anna’s gaze locked on Pierce, willing him to look at her. “Where is the pud…erm…yelling lady?”

Avoiding her direct gaze, Pierce pointed toward the curved staircase in the center of the big room. Anna didn’t see Lissie. Or any other ghosts for that matter. The realization bothered her and she glanced at Pratt. He shook his head as if he could read her mind.

He couldn’t see her either.

“Is she there right now, Pierce,” Pratt asked softly.

“Of course. Are you needing glasses, Mr. Pratt?”

Heather looked like she was going to pass out. “Young man, you apologize to these wonderful people right now or we’re going home.”

Pierce grinned before he could stop himself and shrugged again. Anna realized that was exactly what he wanted. She de-tensed as she had the thought. He’d probably made up the whole Lissie sighting just to get his mother riled up. The autistic teen liked all his ducks in a row and he craved familiar things. Nelson Hall, as beautifully as it was made up, was definitely outside his comfort zone. “It’s all right, Heather. He’s not used to being here.”

“That’s no excuse for rudeness,” she told them, reaching into her purse for her keys. “Let’s go, Pierce.”

Pratt winked at the teen before he turned away, feigning unhappiness at being dragged back home.

Anna barely contained a smile and was glad she had when Heather turned back suddenly. “I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t be silly, Heather. It’s all good.”

“The boy’s fine,” Pratt agreed. “Don’t be too hard on him.”

She shook her head and gave Pierce a little shove on the shoulder. “Let’s go, young man. I’m very disappointed in you.”

Pierce let himself be pulled toward the door and then stopped, resisting his mother’s enticement to leave as he turned back to Anna and Pratt. All traces of the smile were gone. “Tell the cowboy to watch out for the pudgy lady. She’s stirring up trouble and nothing good’s going to come of it.”

His words were swallowed up in the arrival of another small group of guests, but Anna felt their impact like a punch in the gut. Anna’s stomach clenched around a sudden jolt of fear. She tried to pull air into her lungs and discovered that it wouldn’t come. Her world spun and she reached out with one hand, feeling for one of the gilded, upholstered chairs Duncan had placed in conversational groups near the tree. Pratt grabbed her as she stumbled, easing her into a chair.

He leaned down as her chest started to heave under a wave of certainty that things were going to go horribly wrong again. She knew he was questioning her, trying to soothe. But she couldn’t hear a thing beneath the roaring in her ears.

Only two little words rose above the cacophony. Surging from the chaos in her mind to cause her knees to weaken. Not again. The words throbbing with fear.

Please god, not again. Don’t let her start the ugliness all over again.

Buy Links

Amazon.com: http://samcheever.com/blog/yulesofyesterday

Amazon.ca: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B078M452YV

Amazon.uk: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B078M452YV

Amazon.au: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B078M452YV

iBookstore: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1328414200

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/yules-of-yesterday-sam-cheever/1127709089?ean=2940158866708

GooglePlay: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Sam_Cheever_Yules_of_Yesterday?id=l2VEDwAAQBAJ

Kobo Books: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/yules-of-yesterday

 

From the Author

The best books yank you into their world, wrap you in a warm gauze of pleasure, and set you free to bobble upon the surface of a rich and immersive story-line. Hopefully, at the end of that experience you emerge energized, satisfied, and ready for more fun. But there are soooo many books to choose from. And you have limited time in your day for reading. You need to choose carefully. So why choose a Sam Cheever book?

  • Fascinating, three-dimensional characters you can’t help relating to
  • A unique plot that plays across your mind like a fine symphony
  • Witty, firecracker dialogue
  • A distinctive mix of humor, romance and adventure that will keep you turning pages well into the night

So, why don’t you take the plunge? Indulge that adventurous spirit. Treat yourself to a little harmless fun. You’ve certainly earned the right.

NEWSLETTER: Join Sam’s Monthly newsletter and get a FREE book! You can also keep up with her appearances, enjoy monthly contests, and get previews of her upcoming work! http://www.samcheever.com/newsletter.html

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ONLINE HOT SPOTS: To find out more about Sam and her work, please pay her a visit at any one of the following online hot spots: Her blog: http://www.samcheever.com/blog; Twitter: http://twitter.com/samcheever; and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SamCheeverAuthor. She looks forward to chatting with you!

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Sam Cheever has a fun new Paranormal Mystery!

Independence is the most important thing to LA…but can she live with herself if her freedom ends up costing her family their lives?

She’d watched a friend succumb to the smothering control of another magical user. She’d made a promise to herself it would never happen to her. For centuries her family has worn the badge of Familiar proudly, serving a long line of powerful Witches and becoming as formidable as the ones they served. But LA doesn’t believe she needs a Familiar alliance to be strong.

Until people she cares about begin disappearing…turning up dead.

Until a powerful and handsome male Witch walks into her life and forges an inadvertent magic bond while trying to save her life.

Now she finds herself in exactly the position she never wanted. But she quickly realizes she can’t save her friends and family alone. So it comes down to losing her independence or watching everyone she cares about die.

Will LA find a way to keep her independence and still save the people she cares about most? Or will her burning need for freedom be the cause of their deaths?

###

“Look, whatever your name is…”

“Deggart Kincaide. My friends call me Deg.”

I gave him an assessing look just to make him uncomfortable. It was a flaw I had. When faced with someone who thought he might want to be my master, I showed him my hard ass b-eye-itch to convince him otherwise. The tendency might actually have something to do with the fact that at the ripe old age of twenty-nine I was already a crazy cat lady with split ends.

Unfortunately for me, my assessing look seriously backfired. My victim was six feet two inches of deliciousness, with dark brown hair that fell across his forehead in a messy fringe, wide, full lips and dark silver eyes.

I knew I was in trouble when I started to pant a little.

“LA?”

I frowned, slapping the hand away that had been waving in front of my face. “How do you know my name?”

“Brock?”

Argh! I was going to reduce that demon to fur and nails the next time I saw him.

“Well, it’s been…erm…nice to meet you, Deggart, but I’m really busy.”

I grabbed the edge of the door and proceeded to shove it against him, trying to get him to leave. Turns out a door won’t close over a hundred and eighty pound man.

“That’s actually why I’m here. I want to help you find them.”

It appeared the demon had been very talkative. “Thank you, Deggart…”

“Please. Call me Deg. Save me from my mother’s ill conceived idea of a name.”

I twisted my lips to hide a grin. “Deg. Thanks for the offer. But I got this.”

“I’ve heard about your special skill.”

Biting back a hiss, I fought for a conversational tone. Though it was really hard to speak through gritted teeth. “My special skill?” If Brock had told him things he had no right telling him…

“This place. It’s a sanctuary, isn’t it? I commend you for your work. It’s about time somebody did it.”

I stared at him, trying to decide if he was yanking my chain. “Um.”

“Really. I spoke to an elderly calico yesterday…”

Yeah, those weren’t words you heard often. “You spoke to a cat?”

“I did.” He smiled. “We all have our special skills.”

I frowned. “So you just, what? Meow and hiss at them and stuff?”

He grinned and my stomach went, kerplunk. “It’s better than licking my butt to put them at ease.”

BUY LINKS:

Amazon.com: http://samcheever.com/blog/familiarterritory

Amazon.ca: http://samcheever.com/blog/familiarca

Amazon.uk: http://samcheever.com/blog/familiaruk

Amazon.au: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/B0773T26QQ

Barnes & Nob le: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1127358867?ean=2940158995972

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GooglePlay: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Sam_Cheever_Familiar_Territory_Paranormal_Cozy_Wit?id=d288DwAAQBAJ&hl=en

Sam Cheever has a new Mystery!

Come to Silver Hills. Where age is relative and relatives can be deadly.

A skeleton under the floorboards…a long-hidden crime…and a nonagenarian WWII veteran who claims to have no knowledge of how the body got buried under her living room floor…

When their new friend, Scarlett, moves to Silver Hills, Flo and Agnes soon realize the crotchety veteran isn’t exactly a people person. Unfortunately, her acerbic personality isn’t helping her convince Detective Peters that she had nothing to do with murdering the dead guy beneath her floorboards. So the two sleuths, with a colorful array of the usual sidekicks, dive into the decades old murder and quickly learn it has a grip in the present. Can Flo and Agnes keep themselves above the fray? Or will they soon find themselves over their heads and swimming against the tide? If you’ve been to Silver Hills before you already know the answer to that. There’s really only one question left: backstroke or breaststroke?

 

Read a Never-Before-Seen Excerpt

The man standing next to the gravesite looked to be in his mid to late nineties. He stared at the coffin with a bit of a perplexed expression, as if he was surprised to find himself there and was wondering who was in the big, shiny box.

Flo didn’t think he even heard the words the minister was uttering. The single true mourner hadn’t looked up since he’d arrived and he stood, bent and frail, holding a daisy in one hand down by his side. He was dry eyed, seemingly beyond emotion, only the occasional pursing of his wrinkled lips betrayed the fact that he struggled at all.

Her heart broke as she looked around the site. If it weren’t for Maria Cooper and her merry band of mourners, no one else would have been there to say goodbye to the deceased, whose name was apparently Daisy, like the flower.

The minister’s words were vague, unexceptional, leading Flo to believe he either didn’t really know the deceased Daisy or he didn’t like her much. She wondered if it might be the latter, given the dearth of people around the poor woman’s gravesite.

In that moment, Flo adjusted her opinion of Ms. Cooper and her strange vocation. It would be horrible to be sent to Eternity without so much as a single wet-eyed goodbye from those still among the living.

Then again…

A long, wailing sob broke the stillness, its fulsome, alarming tenor enough to break through even the little old man’s stupor. He flinched once but, no doubt suffering under nine decades of emphasis on manners and how to behave in polite society, kept his gaze fixed on the casket in front of him.

However, the emitter of the wail was not to be ignored. Another hefty wail broke the silence and it seemed the sound broke something loose in the rest of the assembled mourners. Loud sobbing bubbled up to fill the previously mostly silent cemetery. The sound rose to match the wailing in loudness and, in one or two instances rose above it.

Not to be outdone, one mourner called out, “Help me Lord Ja-eee-sus!” Sounding like a good old fashioned television preacher working a crowd for money.

With that the stakes were raised. Never one to let someone beat her at her own game, Agnes let off wailing and, giving her competition a very un-Christian glare, threw back her head and screamed, flinging herself forward toward the unsuspecting deceased.

Unfortunately for everyone involved, Agnes caught her oversized sneaker on a blade of grass and toppled, arms akimbo, onto the surface of the casket.

Everything stopped. It was as if someone had been playing with a time machine and, seeing the pure entertainment value in that place and time, hit a giant ‘Pause’ button to savor the train wreck more completely.

Agnes lay on her belly, round boohind stuck up in the air, and arms splayed across the formerly pristine surface of the highly polished oak casket. The toes of her sneakers were dug in, as if by the very act of falling forward she’d hammered them into the dirt.

The minister cleared his throat.

The elderly mourner blinked a few times and began to tremble.

Agnes seemed to realize she sat…or lay as it were…on a perfect opportunity to bring her performance to standing ovation levels. To Flo’s unending horror, her friend began banging her head against the casket and sobbing hysterically. Her arms stayed out-flung on the shiny surface but her hands curved into fists no doubt meant to portray the heights of agony.

Wide-eyed and beginning to be frightened, the minister started to back away from the gravesite, his round face turning nearly the color of his starched clerical collar as he turned tail and started run-walking toward the Office building in the distance.

Flo realized he was probably going to fetch security to have Agnes hauled away. She quickly stepped forward and grabbed her friend’s arm, bending down to whisper into her ear. “Agnes Willard, you stop that right now. We need to go before security gets here.”

Agnes opened one eye and peered up at Flo. “Back off, Flo, you’re stepping on my lines.”

“I’m going to step on more than that if you don’t haul your wide backside off this casket right this minute and come with me. That minister just went to call security.

Agnes’s eyes popped wide and she jerked her glance toward the enrobed pastor, who’d given up acting like he was walking and had broken into a full out run, bible pumping like a marathon runner’s heart. She closed her eyes one last time and said, “Amen.” Then pushed off the casket and started toward the car, almost stepping on Flo’s heels.

In the distance, the minister had reached the building and was talking to a uniformed man who looked to be twice his size. His be-robed arms were cutting wide swaths of the air around him and every once in a while his head would drop back and a soft wailing sound wafted toward them.

“Good Lord, Agnes,” Flo complained as she hurried around to grab the driver’s side door. “You’re going to end up in jail for sure.”

“Missus?”

The voice was scratchy, so soft it barely pushed its way through the air to reach them, and Flo’s head snapped up as Agnes turned around. The little man was standing behind Agnes, a wide smile on his wrinkly face. He still clutched the Daisy but it was starting to look a bit wilted.

Very slowly, he lifted the hand with the flower and extended it toward Agnes. His eyes filled with tears even as his smile widened. “I want you to have this.”

Agnes took the flower but her expression was filled with confusion. “But why?”

The old man trembled so violently Flo started around the car to grab him in case he should fall. But she quickly realized he wasn’t having a seizure when he barked out a laugh, shaking his head. “I loved what you did back there. More importantly, my Daisy would have loved it too. She never was one for fine words and sentiment. But she’d have loved your bit on the coffin back there.” He dissolved into more laughter, holding his belly as he chortled.

Flo turned at the sound of a shout and saw the minister hurrying back, the security guard just ahead of him. “Agnes, we have to go.”

Her friend looked down at the daisy and then, with a big smile, walked over and gave the man a hug. “This flower is hers. But I won’t forget the sentiment.”

The man nodded. “Trust me, Missus. I won’t forget you either.”

“How could he?” Flo murmured as she yanked the car door open. “Agnes!”

“Go on now,” the old man told Agnes. “I’ll smooth things here.”

Agnes waved goodbye to the assembled mourners and received a cheer as a send off. She climbed into Flo’s sedan and, as Flo started the engine, Maria Cooper hobbled over, waving for Agnes to wait. “I want to get your name and number. I have two mourner deficient clients tomorrow. Can you come?”

Agnes opened her mouth to respond but Flo cut her off. “Agnes Willard, don’t you dare.”

“Why not?” Agnes asked, turning to Flo with a frown. “They loved me.”

Flo shook her head and put the car in gear. The back door of the car opened and Scarlett scooted inside, slamming the door. “Hit it, Flo. PoPo’s breathin’ down our necks.”

Flo didn’t waste any time. Because PoPo was indeed within neck breathing range. In fact, the guard slammed a palm on the roof of Flo’s car as she started to pull away, causing the inhabitants of the front seat to give off a startled yelp, before Flo hit the gas and put the enraged minister and guard in her rear view mirror.

 BUY Links:

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NEW RELEASE! Fun Romantic Cozy Mystery by Sam Cheever

Blaise and Dolfe have their own mystery series!

Murderous Craft final

Dead End Job: When the only thing on tap is death.

A corpse in the bathroom of a popular bar. An old acquaintance still nursing a mad-on from fifteen years earlier. And a cast of characters possessing secrets they’ll do almost anything to keep. It’s enough to make reformed (sort of) party girl Blaise Runa want to quit her dead end job. But in the meantime she fully intends to grab her sexy private eye fiancé and dig into the mess. Because she might be trying to adult, but that doesn’t mean she’s gotten any less nosy!

heart

If looks could kill, the woman across the bar would have already butchered Blaise and hacked her into a million tiny pieces. Something about her seemed familiar, but Blaise couldn’t put a name to the face to save her life.

She narrowed her gaze at the woman and picked up another freshly washed wine glass, running a towel over the clear glass to dry it.

“Who you glarin’ at brown sugar?”

Blaise held the hostile gaze across the room. “That chick’s been glowering at me. I’m just trying to figure out who she is.”

Tyrese Miller leaned an arm on Blaise’s shoulder and followed her line of sight to the spot near the door. “I don’t see anybody glarin’ at you, Blaise.”

Blaise slid the wine glass into the rack above her head. “That’s because she just left.”

Her boss lifted a dense, black eyebrow. “Mm-hm.”

She turned a grin on him. “I’m not lyin’.”

He chuckled darkly. “It was probably just some woman whose husband lusts after you, brown sugar. I wouldn’t pay her no mind.”

Blaise shrugged. “She seemed familiar but I can’t come up with a name.”

“Bronislava?”

Blaise frowned. “Huh?”

“That’s a name. Here’s another one. Shampooya.” His trademark grin widened, showing a full mouth of straight white teeth except for a single gold one on the bottom. “Am I ringing a bell?”

She snorted. “I think your bell’s already been rung. Those aren’t names, Ty. Those are letters you shoved together to create nonsense.”

He held up a hand. “God’s truth. I saw ’em in a baby names book. They’re real names.”

“What in the world were you doing looking through a baby names book?” She lifted her brows. “Is there somethin’ you need to tell me?”

Grabbing a frosty glass mug, Ty pulled a draft beer and settled it on the counter for the waitress swaying in his direction. “My brother’s expecting. Well…his wife is…and they’re having trouble picking a name.”

“Hopefully they’re not desperate enough to ask for your help.”

“They have and I’m coming through for them. They now have a long, long list of intriguing names to select from. Personally, I’m leaning toward Exaltacion.”

“Good Lord.”

“Hey, it’s biblical.”

“So was The Plague of Locusts. Equally catastrophic.”

The waitress reached the bar and grinned when she saw the beer sitting there. “Thanks, Ty.” She was petite, curvy and sported a thick nest of dark brown hair which she was currently wearing loose and wavy around her shoulders. The waitress winked at the bar’s owner. “How’d you know I was coming for that?”

He ran a cloth over a wet spot on the bar. “I’ve told ya a million times, Suz, I know all and see all.”

Suzie Whotsnoggin turned a bright blue gaze on Blaise, widening it comically. “The man’s delusional.”

Laughing, Ty moved down the bar to help a customer.

Blaise grinned at her best friend. “How you doin’ Suz?”

The waitress shrugged. “Okay. Tips are good tonight. But I’m dead tired. We didn’t get out of here until three this morning. I swear, something’s changed. We’ve never been this busy.”

“I know, right? It must be this new line of local beers. I think people like the idea of supporting the small breweries.”

“Hey, gorgeous, where’s my beer?” a masculine voice called across the bar.

Suz rolled her eyes. “Doodie calls.” She picked up the frosted mug of beer. “You want to go shopping tomorrow? It’s my first day off in over a week and I want to do something fun.”

“I’ll see what Dolfe’s doing. If he’s working I’d love to go. Mama needs a new pair of shoes.”

“Doesn’t Mama always?” Suz asked before swinging away. She swayed across the bar with the beer, large gold hoops in her ears dancing with her movement. Blaise watched, amused, as she deftly sidestepped her rude customer’s groping hands.

Shaking her head, Blaise fought the coil of discomfort in her gut. She’d loved the atmosphere, lights, music and fun of working at Tyrese’s Bar. But after six months some of the bloom was starting to wear off. To her ever-growing surprise, Blaise was starting to think she’d like to do something else. Something that would leave her nights free to spend with her honey, Dolfe. At least when he wasn’t scoping out some cheating spouse or elusive thug.

Dolfe Honeybun was a private investigator who worked closely with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department on the occasional case. He was darn good at his job and Blaise loved that he was that kind of guy. A big, strong man who carried a gun and an attitude and didn’t take any crap from anybody. But between his hours and hers, they didn’t get to spend nearly enough time together.

And since they’d only been affianced a few months. That was a serious problem.

“You’re Blaise Runa aren’t you?”

Blaise’s head snapped up and her pulse spiked. She hadn’t even heard the woman approach. “Oh my gosh! You startled me.”

The woman didn’t seem to care. She slid a hostile gaze over Blaise and frowned. “You don’t remember me do you?”

“I’m really trying to.” It probably wasn’t a good sign that the most memorable thing about the woman was her frown. “Did I…annoy…you in some way?”

“You could say that. If sleeping with my boyfriend can be classified as an annoyance.”

Kerplunk! The memory fell into place. Blaise leaned closer, narrowing her eyes at her accuser. The years since High School hadn’t been kind…but Blaise could almost see the pretty face she once knew beneath the bags and wrinkles. “Dierdre?”

The woman put her hands on her well-padded hips and glowered up at Blaise. “You admit you slept with him?”

Blaise couldn’t believe it was the same woman she’d been so terrified of. Voted most likely to irritate a rich husband. Head cheerleader. Came from a wealthy family who gave her everything she wanted. She seemed much smaller than she had back then.

Well…shorter anyway.

“I never slept with Roger White.”

“Of course you did!”

Blaise shook her head, cocking a hip against the bar and crossing her arms over her middle. “Nope. We were just friends.”

Dierdre Masterson slapped her hands on the bar top and leaned closer, wafting rancid breath that smelled like garlic into Blaise’s face. “You must have slept with Roger!”

Conversations all around them stopped. All eyes turned to Dierdre and, by proximity, Blaise. Fortunately Blaise didn’t embarrass easily. She chuckled. “I’m sorry to disappoint, Dierdre. I didn’t.”

“Then why did he break up with me!” she wailed.

The curious gazes slid quickly away, clearly unwilling to witness the train wreck at the bar. Blaise figured they’d hoped for salacious details but weren’t comfortable watching Dierdre debase herself.

“I don’t know the answer to that,” Blaise said softly. “You’ll have to ask him.”

“I was going to ask him,” the other woman said despondently. “But he stood me up.”

Blaise stared at the lumpy woman sitting across the bar. She frowned, and then felt anger finally rise. “You asked him here to confront me?”

Dierdre Masterson shrugged. “I figured I’d be able to tell from the expression in his face when he looked at you.”

“Good God, D, that was eleven years ago. You need to get over it.”

The other woman’s eyes filled with tears and Blaise instantly regretted yelling at her. “Would you like a drink? We have some really great local beers…”

Dierdre grimaced. “Not beer. I have enough of that at work.”

Blaise’s eyebrows shot upward. “You don’t say?”

Seeing her expression, Dierdre laughed. She swiped tears off her round cheeks, sniffling. “I work at Byerson’s Beers.”

Understanding flared. “Ah. Those beers are of our best sellers. Great stuff.”

Dierdre didn’t look like she cared. “Whatever.” She sat in silence for a long moment and then glanced at Blaise. “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I keep a man?”

Blaise panicked. The last thing she wanted to do was give counseling to a woman she didn’t even really like. “Um…”

“Can I get you something to eat or drink?” Ty asked Dierdre. He winked at Blaise as he approached, nudging her to the side and putting himself between the pathetic woman on the other side of the bar and Blaise.

She could have kissed him.

“I don’t want anything,” Dierdre told him. Then she blinked and grabbed her purse. “Actually, you can do one thing for me. Have you seen this man today?”

She slid a photo across the bar to Ty. Blaise looked over his shoulder and was shocked to see a picture of Roger White in his quarterback’s uniform.

“He’s older now, of course. That was in High School.”

Ty’s lips twitched and Blaise surreptitiously pinched him below the bar. “Ow! Erm, no I don’t think…” He picked the photo up, studying it more carefully. “Actually, I think I might have.”

Blaise barely resisted blowing a disbelieving raspberry. He was clearly just humoring the woman.

Dierdre’s scowl turned upside down and she looked almost pretty as she smiled. “Really? He was here?”

“Still should be,” Ty said, jerking his head toward the restrooms. “I saw him head to the Men’s a while ago.”

“How long?” Blaise asked. “I’ve been here an hour and I haven’t seen him.”

Ty glanced at his watch and frowned. “You’re right. It’s been a while. I hope he’s okay in there.”

“Did he seem ill?”

Ty thought about it. “He seemed fine when I saw him. He was even chatting up a pretty young woman a while ago.”

Grimacing, Dierdre climbed down from her stool. “I’d better go check on him.”

“You can’t…um…ma’am…” When Dierdre ignored him, Ty widened his eyes at Blaise.

“I’ll stop her.” She rounded the bar just as the door across the room opened and a short, balding man with a veiny nose staggered out, looking like he’d seen a ghost. He lifted round, brown eyes to Ty and flapped a hand. “There’s…oh God…I think that guy in there is dead.”

Get your very own copy now! books2read.com/murderouscraft

New Release – Romantic, Edge of Your Seat Thriller by Sam Cheever

survivinggabriella-1800

 

Gabriella has been hunted all her life by a madman who knew of her unique abilities even before she did. She’d been abandoned by one parent, abused by another, and the feelings of being alone and unloved had almost made her welcome the vividly cruel world she found herself in.

Then she met Mike Stanton.

And she realized her world didn’t always have to be cold and lonely. She finally recognized that she might be worthy of someone else’s love. But there was a problem. Her past wouldn’t let her go. And she was in danger of dragging Mike and everyone else she cared about into Hell with her.

Mike didn’t understand the power of the heart until he met Gabby…a woman who hadn’t had nearly enough love in her twenty-four, hellish years on earth.

Then he was told to protect her.

And he fell hard and fast for the woman whose instincts and actions kept urging her to fly away, like the beautiful falcon he’d named her.

Can they find the love they both seek before an ugly past and an intensely cruel organization rips them apart? Or will the future they seek only bring them despair as factions they can’t control try to destroy the feelings they’re just learning to cherish?

5 stars

“Surviving Gabriella: “What a GREAT BOOK AND PHENOMINAL ENDING !!!”

“…the author takes you through such ups and downs every page has something that makes your heart beat overtime or makes you cry or even makes you scream!”

She watched him from the shadows. His big frame was backlit by the soft sunshine threading through the broken window. She should have been angry with him but she couldn’t quite get there. Instead, she found herself smiling as he grimaced, his gaze sliding around the detritus of a once useful space.

She’d learned long ago to overlook the filth, the destruction, the stench of age and death. But he didn’t have her background. Unlike her, Mike Stanton had grown up in a sane, upper middle class home with parents who’d loved him and had given him every advantage available to a family of their income and place in society. She didn’t begrudge him that childhood. Or the respectable stint as a Marine he’d been honorably discharged from a couple of years earlier.

He’d done his part for the government and she’d done hers. But her efforts were cloaked in shadow, buried under secrets and lies. Because if anyone knew…

She shook off the thought and gave herself up to the pleasure of looking at him for a moment. He was a big guy, well over six feet, with broad shoulders, narrow hips and big hands and feet. His long, long legs were encased in snug denim, which caressed his trim, muscular body like a lover. His feet were covered in heavy boots, scuffed from time and wear. She loved a man who could wear boots like they were a part of him.

He’d worn his golden hair long for a while, tucking it behind his ears or gathering it at the back of his neck when he needed to keep it out of his face. Though she wasn’t a fan of long hair on a man, thinking it made them look too feminine, Mike carried the look well. So well, in fact, that when he’d recently cut it so that it lay close to his head in soft waves, she’d been disappointed. He’d rocked the longer hair, reminding her a bit of a hero from the historical romance books she’d die if anybody knew she read.

She let her gaze rest, finally, on his handsome face. Chiseled perfection, from his broad forehead to his high cheekbones and dimpled chin. Mike was always clean-shaven, though she’d seen him once with a full beard, right after getting out of the Marines. It was the day he’d come to DeVitis Manor to apply for a security job. Even then, watching from a distance with her heart full of pain and longing, she’d been able to appreciate the lithe grace of the big man, who’d clearly spent a lot of time sneaking up on people and was very good at it.

A soft sigh left her and his head snapped up. The sound she’d made had been gentler than the touch of a butterfly wing on the air. But he’d somehow locked onto her location and turned, a grim smile showing straight, white teeth through the dimness. “Come on out, falcon. I know you’re there.”

She hesitated, glancing back toward the labyrinth of discarded refuse that cluttered the basement room. Maybe she could make it back upstairs, to the roof, and she could fly…

Heat suddenly infused her space and a large form pressed closer. Gabby gasped, back pedaling until she ran up against the mildewed wall behind her.

Mike placed a hand on either side, effectively boxing her in. “Hello, pretty falcon.”

She forced herself to lift her gaze and meet his eyes. They were lost in the darkness, with only a tiny spark of reflected light to let her know they were focused on her. “Why are you here?”

He moved and suddenly he was pressed against her from thighs to chest, his touch a drug that shot through her system like flame to gasoline. Gabby tried to press away from his delicious heat but she had nowhere to go. He lowered his head, the sweet warmth of his breath brushing her face as she turned her head away. She was terrified that if he kissed her she’d be lost. Helpless. His lips touched her ear, fracturing her control and turning her into a trembling mass desperate for escape. But he didn’t move away. His sexy lips parted and his whisper sent another ripple of awareness through her quivering form. “Don’t you remember, Gabby? You asked me to come.”

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Bad HairCult – New Cozy Mystery by Sam Cheever

BadHairCult_large

 

If you were a “mature” individual with a mighty fine bouff, would you consider shaving your head to solve a case of possible murder? That’s the million dollar question for Flo and Agnes as they find themselves neck deep in missing Satanists, scheming cultists, and a long string of seriously bad hair days. But what’s a sleuth to do when the queen of the night comes to them pleading…erm…threatening…ahhh…pleatening them for help? If you know Flo and Agnes you already know the answer to that question. They’re goin’ in!

“This novel needs a spew alert on the cover; drinking a beverage while reading is not recommended.”

“The suspense and humor keep the pages turning. I started reading this book the evening I received it and didn’t/couldn’t stop till the end in the late hours. Well worth it. Ready for book 4 !!!”

“OMG Ms. Cheever has done it again. She has written another hilarious book, in her unique style, involving the crazy antics of Flo, Agnes and their friends at the Silver Hills Senior and Singles Residence. I laughed until I had tears rolling and my sides hurt at this zany addition to the Silver Hills Cozy Mysteries series or as I like to call them, the Wacky Adventures of Flo, Agnes and the Gang! 2 Thumbs Up for a highly recommended suspenseful yet funny read!”

Flo pumped her arms and blew air out in a gust as she neared the top of the hill. She had a decidedly unladylike sheen on her face but she was starting to feel like she might actually survive the walk.

Unfortunately, not too far behind her, an exercise failure of epic proportions was happening. In fact, as she threw a look over her shoulder to make sure the sounds she was hearing weren’t actually from a buffalo giving birth to a rhinoceros, she realized the failure had already happened. She stopped and turned back to Agnes, hands on hips. Her friend was draped over the hood of somebody’s car, her round belly heaving and quivering as she tried to force air through her lungs. “Agnes Willard, you’re in terrible shape.”

Agnes didn’t lift her head, but if her neon red face was any indication, she was at the end of her endurance. “I don’t care what the stupid doctor says, I hate walking.”

TC hailed them from a couple blocks up and Flo waved her off, realizing the rest of the group would have to go on without them. “Your blood pressure is too high, Agnes. If you don’t want to stroke out you need to get in shape and bring it down.”

Agnes shoved off the car and bent forward, her skinny legs quivering as she panted for air. “That’s what they make drugs for, isn’t it? I’ll just take bigger pills.”

“Not a good plan, fool.” Flo frowned. She was actually worried about her friend’s health so when TC had suggested they join the thrice weekly walking group she’d jumped at the chance. Unfortunately, she hadn’t counted on her friend’s rabid resistance to the idea. “You lift weights and use the treadmill. I don’t understand why walking is such a chore for you.”

Agnes fixed a bloodshot eye on Flo, her graying brown pageboy sticking up around a wide hairband that was dark with sweat. “Lifting weights only requires muscles. I have those in abundance.” She patted her well-rounded behind as if presenting evidence of muscle. “But these here are fast twitch muscles. They’re for strength more than endurance.”

Flo eyed the “muscles” her friend indicated, one eyebrow creeping skyward with skepticism. “There’s definitely some twitching going on back there, but I’m not sure it’s muscle.”

Agnes blew out a breath and limped toward Flo. “What I’m trying to tell you is that I’m a sprinter rather than an endurance runner. I’m out of my league with this long, drawn-out walking stuff.”

Flo slid her gaze down the street to the Silver Hills Senior and Singles Residence, the other eyebrow creeping northward to join the first one. “You know we’ve only gone a block, right?”

Get your copy here: books2read.com/badhaircult

 

USA Today Bestselling Author Sam Cheever writes romantic paranormal/fantasy and mystery/suspense, creating stories that celebrate the joy of love in all its forms. Known for writing great characters, snappy dialogue, and unique and exhilarating stories, Sam is the award-winning author of 50+ books and has been writing for over a decade under several noms de plume.

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Romantic New Thriller Suspense by Sam Cheever

pursuingelena-1800

Praise for Pursuing Elena:

“This remarkable book will take you on a journey of pain, hope and LOVE from beginning to end.”

“…twists I never saw coming with a suspenseful story line that kept me on the edge of my seat.”

Get your copy now:books2read.com/u/4DA0zg

Excerpt:

Erik pulled Elena across the office and shoved her behind a heavy, burgundy velvet curtain, pushing in behind her just as the office door opened. Elena stiffened as he wrapped his arms around her waist and lowered his head, whispering. “Not a sound.”

She barely allowed herself to breathe. Every time she pulled air into her lungs, his clean, male scent entered her system and ran amok, creating a pool of need in her belly that was hard to ignore. Elena closed her eyes, her usual balls-to-the-wall style failing her as her body became almost painfully aware of every hard line of his tall, sexy frame pressed against her. She grew slowly cognizant of a sharp pain in her back, like something hard digging into her. She shifted slightly to get away from it and was punished with a big, warm hand spreading over her belly, pulling her more tightly against him.

Then another hardness started to bother her. She closed her eyes and prayed the guard would leave soon. Because Erik’s hand was making slow, deliberate circles over her belly and need was becoming a tight coil in her sexual core.

Beyond their velvet and lust prison, the guard’s footsteps were soft thumps on the thick carpet, his flashlight playing across the chaotic remnants of Phillip Osgood’s office. They could watch him move through the office from his reflection in the window glass. He was a short, roundish form with nondescript features, but he held a large flashlight in one hand and a radio crackled on his waistband.

Elena watched as the bright arc of light skimmed over the desk and stilled, the light illuminating the small drawer she’d laid on top.

She silently scolded herself for her carelessness. She’d assumed that, with all the other mess in the room, the guard wouldn’t even notice.

Judging by the movement of footsteps across the room…directly toward them…she’d been wrong. The radio crackled and a voice came over the line. “Everything okay, Ed? I was expecting you to check in five minutes ago.”

The flashlight swept the floor behind the desk, slithered over the chair Elena had shoved back, and danced inexorably toward the curtain where they hid.

Moving as slowly as she could with discovery breathing down their necks, Elena pulled her feet back and all but held her breath.

Erik’s hand slipped around to his back, where Elena had no doubt his gun was holstered.

The guard moved around the desk and stood looking down at the drawer. His labored breathing scraped through the silence, so close Elena expected to feel it on her face. He breathed with a wet, raspy kind of resonance which told Elena he was out of shape and that he was either a smoker or was coming down with a cold.

Either way she figured she could take him before he could report them to the voice on the other end of the radio. Her eyes on the guard’s form in the glass, she tightened her grip on her gun and then stopped, pulling air into her lungs and forcing herself to relax. She began to picture her attack in her mind.

A glide sideways, emerging from the curtain on the outside, away from Erik. She’d lift her gun and point it at the guard as she moved closer, demanding that he take his hand off his radio. Then with one, swift motion, she’d take the radio with her free hand and clock him over the head with the other.

The only fly in the ointment was Erik. And he was a big, damn fly. Because she knew he’d never let her risk a direct confrontation. He’d take a bullet himself before he allowed that. Her suspicions were confirmed as his arm around her waist tightened, snugging her up against him even as his other arm extended toward the edge of the heavy drape.

In the glass, the guard reached for his radio, pulled it free and lifted it toward his face.

The snap of controlled electricity broke the silence, the flashlight beam shot toward the ceiling and then slammed downward, and the guard jerked twice before falling, his radio flying out of his hand.

Erik stepped from behind the drape and reached out, snagging the radio with his right hand as he shoved the Taser back into his pants with the other. “Let’s go. The other guard will be here in about two minutes.”

They ran toward the outer office and ducked back through the glass doors. The up arrow beside the elevator down the hall lit up as they hit the stairwell at an all-out run. They sprinted down the stairs to the third floor. After checking the hallway to make sure it was empty, they emerged from the stairwell and tore down the hall to the office they’d originally breached. Elena stepped quickly through the window onto the ledge and started moving toward the front of the building. Erik emerged behind her. She could hear the soft scrape of his boots against the concrete.

A bright light came on below and an alarm sounded inside the building.

Elena forced herself not to panic as men with guns spilled from the front door and spread out around the grounds to the sound of shouted orders. She stopped and pressed back against the wall, just out of range of the security light that spread a golden cocoon over the front entrance.

Erik did the same, his broad chest heaving from the effort of running down the narrow ledge without falling.
She turned to him, shrugging slightly. “Oops.”

He shook his head but she noted the slight twitch of his wide mouth that told her he wasn’t totally unamused. “I don’t suppose you had a Plan B when you decided to do this?” he whispered.

She grinned, shaking her head. “I rarely need more than one plan.”

His brows lifted. “And yet…”

“This was your fault. If I’d been alone I’d have been fine.” The guilty memory of a misplaced desk drawer and chair swept through her mind but she pushed them aside. A soldier never second guessed her mission. The only option was to move forward and complete the operation.

Erik pulled something black from the waistband of his jeans and she frowned. Surely he wasn’t going to try to use the Taser from three floors up. Even if he hit one of the dozen men running around below them, they’d still have eleven guards with guns to deal with.

Elena tried to remember how many bullets she had left in her gun. Had she remembered to reload it before leaving home?

She jumped as Erik’s voice sounded next to her. “Intruders spotted on the south side of the building,” he said into the radio. “I repeat, intruders spotted running toward Elm Street on the south side of the building.”

He shoved the radio back into his jeans and jerked his head toward the corner. “Let’s move, DeVitis. There’s a piece of chocolate pie and a cup of coffee waiting for me at the diner down the street.”

Elena peered around the corner and saw that all but one guy had taken the bait and fled to the South side. It wouldn’t take them long to discover the ruse and they’d be back. She would have to take her chances with the one guy.

Slipping around the corner, Elena ran along the ledge, keeping an eye on the bulky guard standing on the outside edge of the light. The orange glow of a lit cigarette flaring into the night told Elena all she needed to know about the guy’s attention span. He was taking a break while his buddies chased down the bad guys.

She smiled, knowing his break was about to turn bad.

She quickly descended from the third floor, using the uneven bricks at the corner of the structure. As soon as her feet hit the ground, she crouched down, watching the guard as Erik slipped down behind her.

When Erik’s feet hit the ground he whistled softly and they tucked themselves into the shadows as the guard’s head jerked up, the cigarette bobbling between his lips.

Elena could envision cartoon bubbles above the man’s head as he considered what he should do next.

What’s this?

Who’s whistling at me?

Maybe I should investigate?

The guard’s head swiveled as if he were looking for someone else to do the job and then, when no cavalry appeared on the horizon, he reluctantly dropped his cigarette butt and ground it out before heading their way. The beefy guard held his pistol down by his side, his gaze narrowing as the shadows began to obscure his view of the ground around the base of the building.

He stopped a few feet away as if he sensed they were there and, as he reached for his radio, Erik shot him with the Taser. Elena and Erik pulled the guard’s twitching form into the bushes and took off running toward the fence. If they were really lucky Elena’s makeshift ladder would still be in place.

If not, well, Elena would have to use her yummy assistant as a ladder.

A not altogether unpleasant option.

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Have you read Book 1 in the exciting La Fortuna DeVitis series? It’s only $0.99 now:

revealingnicola-300 Nicola is just minding her own business, out for a fun night with her friends, when a man with a bedroom voice and deliciously broad shoulders decides she’s someone she isn’t. A heartbeat later, before she even has a chance to make sense of being called by another woman’s name, she finds herself flung over one of those broad shoulders and thrown into an existence that includes a lot of running for her life, dodging bullets, and realizing she’s the victim of a lifetime’s worth of secrets.

Franco has a very difficult job. He’s supposed to protect a strong willed heiress from the conspiracy that has plagued her entire life. Unfortunately, in pursuit of that goal, he accidentally grabs the wrong person. A woman whose feisty nature and insistence that she’s not his heiress have him on edge and off his game.

With menace nipping constantly at their heels, bullets flying and bodies showing up all over the place, Franco and Nicola must quickly put aside their differences and forge an alliance to stop the shadowy group which pursues them. But circumstances might build something much greater than an alliance between them, as distrust turns to affection and need transforms into something neither one of them is prepared to ignore.

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IMG_7837_120x180USA Today Bestselling Author Sam Cheever writes romantic paranormal/fantasy and mystery/suspense, creating stories that celebrate the joy of love in all its forms. Known for writing great characters, snappy dialogue, and unique and exhilarating stories, Sam is the award-winning author of 50+ books and has been writing for over a decade under several noms de plume.

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