As do most wise people, I don't celebrate myself, but those I appreciate.
That's where you come in.
This excerpt is for you, folks.
As the seconds count down on in thislast day of this beautiful Spring month, I've put up a new excerpt from Book 2 of the Housewife Assassin series, Guide to Gracious Killing.
I put so much of myself into my books, which is why I want to share with you.
This ones got a real hot button: a host behaving badly, to the point where he almost rapes my heroine, Donna Stone. Don't fret. She can hold her own against anyone, including this well-connected manslut.
If you enjoy it, I'm glad I put a smile on your face. Hopefully, you'll go ahead and purchase it, which will add to my birthday joy. (And your joy, too, since it's cheaper than one of those fancy cups of java down at your local Starbucks).
The dining room isn’t one at all, but a library, which is supposed to be “cozy,” despite its football-field-length, wall-to-ceiling books, two-story-high ceilings, and a fireplace large enough to hold three men and a little Bentley.
The table is round, which allows for optimum placement of the eight guests between the host and hostess. I’m seated to the right of Breck, and Franz is next to me. On his right is Felicity, with Rutherford beside her. That puts Babette to his right and directly across the table from Breck. Jack sits to Babette’s right, and Edwina on the other side of him, with Garrett on her right. Hans is sandwiched between Garrett and Breck.
Franz and Hans, who sit opposite each other, speak perfect English to everyone else, but hold side discussions in their native language. My earrings are embedded with an audio feed that allows Ryan to whisper sweet nothings into my ear. He promises to do so, should the bugs Arnie has planted in the flowers that adorn the table and the rest of the room pick up anything Jack and I should be warned about. It will be interesting to hear the translation between Franz and Hans. Even if their phrases are seemingly innocuous, I wonder if any codes will be detected.
For the most part, the conversation is polite, the service by a phalanx of butlers is attentive to a fault, and the meal is perfect. How can you go wrong with piquillo gazpacho as your first course, followed by a chilled Dungeness crab salad, roasted Pacific Northwest salmon with a vegetable ragout, and lime meringue pie topped with mango and raspberry ice sorbet? And of course, each course served with white and red gold-medal varietals.
In social settings, what is said isn’t as important as what you see. Even before the appetizer was served, Edwina had shifted her body away from Garrett, as if to avoid him and to focus on Jack. I can’t blame her. The guy gives me the willies, too.
Jack is gracious enough to answer her questions about the community and his role in his investment firm, but he’s smart enough to share his remarks and attentions with Babette.
Garrett’s placement must be ideal for him, because he’s practically fawning over Hans. Even when I compliment her on her dress, Felicity ignores me and does the same to Franz. Once snubbed, twice considering slipping a roofie into her wine glass. What am I, chopped liver?
No. Apparently, I’m presumed to be Breck’s playmate du jour.
This is made obvious by the leer and wink he gives me after I try to broach the topic of Great Britain’s LIBOR debacle and its affect on American banks. I have to bite my tongue to keep from telling him that it’s me, not my breasts, speaking to him.
Right as the main course is served, Jack looks over at me. Feigning concern, he asks, “Donna dear, you promised Trisha you’d bring her teddy bear. Have you given it to her yet?”
“Oh! No…I have it in my purse.” I glance over at Babette. “If you don’t mind, Babette, I’ll just walk it down to the nursery.”
Babette nods. With a slight wave, she summons over one of the butlers. “Jamison will show you the way.”
Trisha is happy to get a kiss, a hug and her teddy bear, but she makes it clear that she’s not ready to go home by putting her arm around her new pal and burrowing under the blanket they share. Nothing like bonding over ice cream in bed while Brave plays on a screen that takes up one whole wall of the nursery.
Ah, the good life.
Jamison has already scurried back to his post, having been assured I can easily find my way back.
I can, but I don’t. Instead, I take a detour into Breck’s office and go to work.
The room is simple and elegant. Over a credenza is a John Singer Sargent portrait of a young wasp-waisted Victorian beauty. On another wall, a crowd meanders through a Parisian market through the surrealistic eyes of Georges Seurat.
Breck’s desk is large, glass, and empty. Where the hell is his computer?
Then I see it: a laptop, on the credenza.
Quickly, I remove a thumb drive from my bracelet and insert it into the computer. While it does its thing, I lean over the desk for a better look at the Sargent…
“Beautiful, isn’t she?”
Breck’s voice sends a trickle of dread down my spine.
I lift my lips into a smile before turning around. “I saw it first a few years ago, when you loaned it to the Getty. It is one of my favor—”
Before I can finish my sentence, his tongue is down my throat, and his hand is on the lower part of my back. He has me leaning so far back that I’m practically horizontal across the credenza.
Sure, I could bite his tongue until he squeals in pain. And yeah, I can yank his arm out of the socket so that it hangs helplessly at his side. But if I do that before another two minutes is up, I’ll blow our mission to hell.
So instead, I try not to gag as he cups me on the ass and grinds into me. I moan as if I like it. In truth, this horizontal boogieman has me pressed up against something sharp. I reach behind to pull it out—
Hmmm, a sterling silver letter opener, engraved with his initials. As he conducts a more thorough incisor exam than I’ve gotten from my dentist, I try to guess how far his blood would spurt if I follow through on my urge to stab his jugular with it…
Out of the corner of my eye, I notice the thumb drive is blinking. It’s my cue to kiss him hard, and grab it fast.
I reach over slowly. Unfortunately, this means I have to inch closer to Breck. He takes it as a cue to fumble with his belt and zipper.
Um…. No. No way in hell—
I whip out the thumb drive. Then, as I push him away, I gasp, “I—I can’t do this! I love my husband too much!”
His smile fades. He stares down at me, as if deciding if I’m serious, or just a tease.
In any event, he’s still intrigued. I know this because he bruises my lips with a long kiss, then murmurs, “You can. And you will.”
He takes my smile as tacit understanding that he’s right.
Wrong. I have to force myself to drop the envelope opener, before I do something I’ll regret.
He zips up, and then straightens his jacket and tie. “In the meantime, feel free to hang out with Babette during the summit. I want you two to get to know each other well. That way, when you give up your pathetic attempt at propriety, she won’t suspect a thing.”
Without a backward glance, he walks out the door.
Jeez. Seriously? Whatever happened to “ladies first?”
The man needs a lesson in good manners.
Accompanied by a horsewhip.
(c) 2012 Josie Brown. All rights reserved. This excerpt may not be resold or redistributed without prior written permission from Josie Brown or Signal Press Books ([email protected]).
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Donna and Jack are in the kind of hot mess that can cause an international incident:
A nuclear arms summit, hosted by a politically-connected American billionaire industrialist, provides the perfect opportunity for a rogue operative to assassinate of the newly-elected Russian president on US soil. Acme operative Donna Stone's mission:
Seek and exterminate the shooter, before all hell--and World War III--break loose.
Also on Donna's to-do list: file for divorce.
Throw in a couple of play dates and a few naughty neighbors, you've got a whole lot of fun.