It's up to Donna Stone to save a hotel filled with international dignitaries from terrorists whose usual demands are million-dollar ransoms. But this time, the price is much higher, and much more personal, for the housewife assassin.
Winners will be drawn from correct entries received before midnight on Saturday, August 23, 2014.
Detective Stevie Cavanaugh is one tough cookie...with a sexy but vulnerable secret...
Law enforcement royalty, Stevie Cavanaugh’s fate was determined before she was born: follow her father’s lead, retiring only after becoming Sheriff. But as capable and strong as she is, one man dared to awaken her dark sensuality, only to leave her aching for more. Now he’s back, the baddest cop in the whole damn town, distracting her from the most important case of her career—capturing the Cain killer.
For Special Agent Jack Thornton, like Stevie, police work is in his blood. So is Stevie, the woman he left behind after just one perfect night. Now he’s forced to work with her to catch a killer. Only he wants more of Stevie, too.
According to Stevie, she’s not interested. But Jack knows her deepest darkest sexual secret—that while she’s a woman used to giving command, she also takes great pleasure in submitting—to him. Despite how things ended seven years prior, Jack is determined to take Stevie to the next level.
When the fire between them becomes an inferno, they’ll both savor the burn…
Steven James Cavanaugh the Third had been born with ovaries, but her father refused to see her as anything but the son he would never have. From her name to her namesake’s omnipotent position as the Alameda County Sheriff, she had understood, from the cradle, that despite her being female, she would follow in the illustrious footsteps of five generations of Cavanaugh men to excel in a law enforcement career. Nothing less than chief or sheriff at retirement was acceptable. It had been drilled into her that as a woman she would have to work twice as hard for half the respect a man earned just by having a dick.
There was no margin for error. It would shame the name.
Despite his death five years ago, Sherriff Cavanaugh’s deep authoritative voice still droned in her ears. “Don’t be anyone’s gossip, Stevie.” “Never show weakness, Stevie.” “Never give anyone ammunition to use against you, Stevie.” “Identify your weaknesses and make them your strengths, Stevie.” And the hard, fast rule? The one to never break: “Never disgrace the badge, Stevie.”
A slow cynical smile cracked her serious face. How disgraceful would her father think her behavior was as she sat here watching a suspected killer jerk off through a high-powered video camera?
The smile faded. Not at all, because the shame would not be that she was watching a naked man pleasure himself, but that she had not made an arrest in one of Northern California’s most notorious murder sprees.
The pressure to make an arrest infused every facet of her existence. It hung around her neck like a thousand-pound yoke. No one pressured her more than herself.
Nervous she would get caught gawking, she pulled away from the camera she had been looking through, glanced over her shoulder and let out a small sigh of relief. The last thing she wanted was to give anyone, especially the men she worked with, a reason to rib her. She’d earned the Iron Maiden moniker because everything about the term was true about her. She was hard, cold, and impenetrable. And if anyone got too close? They felt the sharp bite of her resolve.
She’d worked her ass off, graduating as high school valedictorian a year early. She’d earned her bachelor’s before she was twenty. On her twenty-first birthday, she entered the police academy. Of course the sheriff’s daughter graduated top of her class. Nothing less was acceptable. She’d accomplished so much by graduation that she felt like she was eighty, not almost two years out of her teens. God, she had been so serious then, and for all of her knowledge and accomplishments, so very naive when it came to men.
She was smarter now. The scar tissue entwined around her heart was a reminder of the consequence of trust. It was the kind of scar tissue that resulted from giving yourself over to a man who had shone his light on the darkest part of you. A part of you that you didn’t know existed until he revealed it. A part of you that, once tapped, changed everything. The way you saw the world. The way you lived. The way you trusted. Or would never trust again. He had shown her the light only to take it away.
Stevie settled back into the camera and watched her subject stroke himself. She’d been accused of being frigid because she didn’t date, much less flirt.
Stevie wasn’t frigid. Jack had shown her she was far from it. She wasn’t antisocial either. She was simply not interested in any type of relationship. Even the most casual. For a relationship to work, she would have to expose herself once more. That would give people power over her. She would never hand over her power. Not again.
She sure as hell liked to tempt fate in other ways, though. Stevie lived on the physical edge of the tightrope of life. She got her rocks off jumping out of planes, climbing mountains, and chasing bad guys through the mean streets of Oakland.
But she didn’t do emotional. Jack had made quick work of that. Had she adhered to the Cavanaugh Commandments, her heart would still be intact. Yet, years later, despite what she knew, she still felt the sting of longing for the man who’d known what she’d needed even when she hadn’t, then left her in the middle of the night, taking her need with him.
Nope, she made damn sure she wasn’t anyone’s water cooler hot topic. Since her promotion three years ago to detective, she didn’t have time for a relationship anyway. Her job served her personality well. She liked the structure, the physicality, and the brain stretch. The best part was justice for all. She was black and white when it came to right and wrong. Smiling, she focused back on her subject who was getting quite comfortable with his naked self. But she was not so black and white in her tactics. She was never above the law, but neither was she below bending the rules.
Her subject, Mario Vito Spoltori—or as he was known on the BDSM boards she haunted, The Edge, for his penchant for edge play—had turned to fully face her. The blinds had been pulled open over the large window of his bedroom so she had an excellent view of what God had so benevolently bestowed on the man. Spoltori portrayed himself as a quiet conservative stockbroker, but in reality he was a vicious misogynistic killer. This entire scenario playing out before her was a complete 180 from his regular “I’m Mr. Normal” behavior.
“What are you up to, Mario? Why the show?”
Spoltori’s known body count was three. All three women had been wives of prominent Oaklandites, the sitting mayor’s largest campaign donors. Each victim had been kidnapped exactly one week before the impending full moon. Each body was found the morning after the rise of the full moon, wrapped in Saran Wrap, mummy style, with only their genitalia exposed, and bloodless. It was the cut patterns that had caused the blood loss that had led her through the dark underbelly of extreme BDSM to The Edge.
In the underground dungeons where he slithered, the cut patterns were his signature. But there was no DNA linking him to any of the bodies and he had airtight alibis for each murder. It didn’t matter; Stevie always listened to her gut, and it was what made her such a good cop. Her gut screamed he was the killer, so she set her sights on him while her team worked the streets.
She’d been watching Spoltori like this, through a video camera, sitting in a stuffy ten-by-ten room from across the street, for nearly a month with nothing to show for it but the monotony of a normal working Joe’s life. He was good at acting like a Boy Scout though he was far from it. Today he proved it. After tedious hours and days of watching the paint dry, she was awarded a peek at the man’s assets.
Stevie wolf-whistled as he stroked his swelling penis to an impressive size; couldn’t really blame the women and the men who waited months for an hour of this notorious Master’s time. Spoltori was in excellent physical shape and not hard on the eyes. She suspected that to command such demand, he was very good at what he did.
Warmth pooled within her belly. But the build was not for Mario. It was for the only man she had ever slept with, the one who’d ignited the fire in her seven years ago. She would have followed him to the ends of the earth . . . but after the culmination of months of cat-and-mouse sexual tension so powerful it became painful, followed by one perfect night of surrender, he’d never called.
“Prick,” she seethed, still not over it. Mentally she berated herself for her foolishness, although she’d been doing that for years. Shame at losing her rigid control and being sucked in by him was hard to set down and walk away from. She’d managed to keep the one-night-stand from her father. She would have lost his hard-earned respect. His perfect daughter was not so perfect after all.
That would have made an already bad situation unbearable.
So, yeah, Jack Thornton had done her wrong and if she weren’t an officer of the law, she’d hunt him down, cut his balls off, stuff them down his throat, and watch him choke to death. But she was sworn to uphold the law, not hunt down Lotharios like Jack.
Shaking her head, Stevie leaned in closer and gave the self-entertaining Spoltori her full attention.
Apparently it didn’t matter that he was standing in front of a fully exposed window with an unobstructed view of Broadway, a busy Oakland boulevard, in the middle of the day.
He closed his eyes, tipped his head back and in long languid strokes he manipulated himself. Highly unusual behavior in light of what she knew about Spoltori’s public persona. If she didn’t know any better, she’d swear he knew he had an audience.
Impossible. While his windows were transparent, the small office she’d begun to loathe had reflective film with the exception of one small square cut out for her ever-watchful lens. The only way he could possibly know he was under surveillance was if he had gained access to this room, which he hadn’t. The security video feeds were reviewed daily. There had been no breach. Dismissing the thought, she continued to watch his show.
His long tan fingers squeezed his burgeoning erection. Stevie winced. He was enormous. She knew from the gossipy chatter among the subs that The Edge never penetrated his client/subs with his penis. Nor had he had intercourse with the victims, yet all three victims had been penetrated with something.
Slowly, provocatively, he began a slow grind. When he bit his bottom lip and splayed himself against the window, Stevie shook her head. “Jesus,” she breathed, unable to drag her eyes away. If she got caught . . . She glanced over her shoulder again, making sure no one had slipped in while she was so preoccupied. Exhaling a relieved breath, she leaned back into the lens for the denouement.
Spoltori pumped faster, his eyes riveted straight at her across the street. The lens was so powerful that she could see the beads of sweat dampening his brow. His eyes narrowed and she knew he was about to come. She held her breath.
“Hello, Stevie,” a very deep and very familiar voice said from behind her.
Time stopped. Her spine stiffened as her breath lodged in her lungs. Her heart slammed hard against her sternum, the velocity shaking her to her core. And God help her, that longing ache that the sound of his voice had stirred all those years ago, stirred in her now.
Hers had been, from the day he touched her in her first defensive tactics class, a spontaneous physical reaction to him. And as they had then, her breasts swelled as her nipples tightened painfully, triggering every body part south into carnal chaos.
When she slowly turned around, the blood drained from her face as her worst fears were confirmed.
“Jack,” she breathed.
(c) 2014 Karin Tabke. All rights reserved.
To enter this contest for a chance to win one of three copies of Karin's book, answer this question:
What did the killer use to wrap his victims' bodies?
Winners will be chosen from correct answered mailed to
Seduction and intrigue are rampant on the campaign trail when a political campaign adviser discovers that Washington's power broker elite have embroiled his presidential candidate in a plot involving an act of terrorism on US soil...
Democratic political campaign consultant Ben Brinker can’t remember the last time he was excited by a candidate’s vision. He feels he’s lost his way, both emotionally and professionally. Worst yet, his show-me-the-money policy seems to have finally caught up with him. Two of his recent clients have been disgraced in one way or another: a senator is caught in lurid sex scandal, and a congressman is indicted in a kickback scandal. In no time at all the political pundits are calling Ben a "candidate cooler." Now Ben is desperate for any campaign gig he can get.
As luck would have it, Andrew Harris Mansfield, the charismatic junior senator from North Carolina and former Marine pilot, asks Ben if he wants to run his soon-to-be-announced campaign for president.
Little does Ben know what's in store for Andrew, or their country--
Nor does he realize that the key to saving both have been placed in his hands.
(c) 2005 Alex Steuart Williams (FLIP) and Erica Rothschild
I'm being serious.
Okay, here goes:
1. "I'd write, too, but I can't stand the thought of all the trees I'd be killing."
Yes, I've heard this one. My response back then was, "Don't worry. You won't sell enough books to raze a sapling, because your pub house won't push you that hard to begin with."
Today, I'd add, "And besides, most books are digital, so you can't use the tree-killer bullshit as an excuse not to write anymore."
2. "I'd write, too, but I just can't make the time."
Good. Stay busy. The world doesn't need anothor author. Here's a hint: It's not a hobby. It's a profession.
3. "Why don't you kill off your series' villian?" Because then I wouldn't have a series. And if I don't have a series, I don't have the rent money. I'll make you a promise: when and if he quits paying the rent, I'll quit writing about him.
4. "Honestly, what do you really do to pay the bills?"
I write novels and I'm proof that not all writers live a life of poverty.
Then again, I'm not JK Rowling, either.
If a writer is persistent and lucky, he or she will find that their income is somewhere in between minimum wage and unimagined wealth.
I'm not saying it's an easy way to make a living. It took years to crawl my way up beyond the government set poverty line. To make the rent, I wrote other things: game questions, greeting cards. magazine articles, even horoscopes. (No, I was not a licensed astrologist, just a mom with two growing kids who could go through money like the Pentagon).
5. "The best authors--like JD Salinger, or, say Margaret Mitchell-- only wrote one, or maybe a just few, books in their lifetime."
Oh, really? I guess that leaves out Dickens, Twain, Wharton, LeCarre, Dreisher, Trollope, James, Chandler, Christie, and Doyle, to name a few--all of whom are on my favorite authors list--along wtih Salinger and Mitchell.
And by the way, some of the worst writers only wrote one book as well.
I'd say the odds are with those who get the most chances at the plate. Don't forget, Babe Ruth broke records for hitting home runs and for striking out.
Not to mention, a writer's skill level rises each time up to bat.
6. "When am I going to see you on the New York Times Bestsellers list?"
Maybe never--and that's okay with me. A Times review won't necessarily pay the bills.
For that matter, a Times review won't necessarily be a good one. Just ask any author who has been scorched, panned, or ridiculed by one.
7. "When will I see your book reviewed in the New York Times?"
Again, maybe never--and that too is okay with me. I write commercial literature--romantic suspense, funny mysteries, contemporary women's fiction--and those books usually don't get a NYT review unless they're deemed such a cultural phenomenon that even the Times can't ignore them.
As for those authors who are waiting for some news outlet to review their books, all I can say is, good luck. Even the best New York publishing house publicist rarely scores a major newspaper review for a mid-list or debut author, let alone a segment on the Today Show. Now, if you're willing to change your first name to Snooki, or your last name to Kardashian, you may actually get that review, or some air time.
It's just the way of the world: a ghosted celebrity can garner more air time for a mediocre book than a gifted author will receive for a notable work.
So suck it up.
Better yet, don't reach for the stars when that is not the lasting definition of success. You're better off working the crowd instead of waiting for the crowd to come to you. In fact, I know many authors whose books have gotten better--and substantially more reviews--than those I see in the Times--
Rude awakening: many major newspapers have done away with book reviews--and book reviewers--altogether. That being said, the voices that are ever more important to authors are avid readers, especially those readers who are willing to write a review on the websites of the bookstores (both online, and brick-and-mortar) where they buy their books. Even better is when they chat up your books to friends.
In today's book market, a four-plus star reviews by hundreds of readers on an online bookseller's site can generate more sales than a few kind words in a Times review on any given Sunday.
Bottom line: word of mouth means everything.
8. "You can write more than one book a year? Hmmm. You're not an artist. You're not even a craftsman. You're...a hack!"
Here's the scoop. Even painters have to produce more than one painting in a lifetime--let alone a year--in order to eat, pay rent, and pay for their kids' braces.
The same goes for musicians. They have to play more than one gig. And songwriters have to write more than one song.
No one wants to be a one-hit wonder.
In fact, even one hitis akin to winning the lottery.
As for being a craftsperson: the proof is in the satisfaction of the buyer.
I'm very proud of my body of work. Every book has received an average of four or more stars. And every day, I get letters from readers who were kind enough to take the time to tell me how much fun they had with my books, or how much they love my characters. I love to hear that it kept them up at night (it certainly did for me when I was writing any one of them!) or that they laughed so loud that it woke their spouses.
That, my dear friends, is satisfaction.
9. "It must be nice to be able to set your own hours."
I write at least ten hours a day.
Believe it or not, some chapters are written in my sleep.
When I'm not writing, I'm plotting. Or researching.
The creative process is the most important aspect of my profession. But the marketing of my books are just as important. That being said, when I'm not writing, plotting or researching, I'm concepting covers, going over edits from my proofers and editors--
And promoting, promoting, promoting.
In any regard, I'm thinking about my books twenty-four/seven.
None of it is easy. But it can certainly be rewarding. I guess that's what makes it a "job," and not a hobby.
10. "It must be great to have such a fun job."
I wouldn't be doing anything else. And I'll do it, as long as I please my readers--and myself.
But like any job, it's not always fun. Sometimes it's frustrating. Sometimes I disappoint myself with how slow I am at it. It takes time to craft a sentence, let alone a paragraph, a scene or a chapter.
Then you have to do it time and again, until you have a cohesive story. Creating a work that even you enjoy, despite having read it so many times, you want to scream.
I remember the reaction my sister had when I told her I'd sold my very first novel. "In fact, the contract is for two books," I proclaimed proudly.
This was met with a look of horror. "You mean, they can make you write another?"
"God, I hope so," I declared.
Eight years and seventeen novels later, I still feel that way.
And, now a bonus comment...
11. "I've got a great idea for a book! Why don't I give it to you, and we can split what you make, 50/50?"
Ha ha! I get this one a lot! I've even gotten it from my sister.
Thank you, but I respectfully decline your offer. You see, I have so many ideas already, that I wonder if I'll have the lifespan in which to write them all.
And besides, at best, a concept is a one-liner (at the most ten words). Even if it's the best book concept in the world, but then you're leaving me with the heavy lifting--that is, coming up with the other eighty thousand words that makes it a book.
You see, a book may start out as a high concept, but it needs a beginning, a middle, and an end. That's a lot of sweat equity--especially if the concept doesn't resonate enough with you to (a) spend the time to research the era or topic, or (b) create characters who go through the motions to bring it to life--and make readers laugh, cry, or write you to tell you how much your words meant to them.
That being said, go ahead and write it, as only you could do.
And let me know when it's published. I look forward to reading it, and supporting you, just like you read and support me.
Darcy and Bingley banter about the pressures on single men--particularly wealthy single men--to marry. But while Darcy is disgusted by it, Bingley's attitude is more benign--perhaps because he is already in the throes of enchantment with one of the local beauties, Jane Bennet.
THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK 978-0-9740214-0-9