That time Author Linda Lael Miller Gave Me a Computer

Life just doesn’t more exciting than that, does it?

Answer: yes, sometimes it does, but you still have to admit that getting a free computer from a famous author is pretty cool.

Seventeen years ago I was having kind of an existential crisis. I was running a state licensed daycare and as much fun as I was having doing that, I knew my strength wouldn’t last long enough to do it for many more years. Neither would my hair because it was all falling out. I had said I’d go back to work when my youngest was in first grade but suddenly she was in seventh grade and I still don’t know how that happened. #timeisfunny

I was so jealous of my sister, who was a teacher with summers off to have adventures with her husband and children. Through my green envy I shared with her that I needed to do something besides daycare and she said, “Go back to school and get your degree in elementary education. You’re already spending your day with kids—finish off your degree. Plus, SUMMERS OFF!” I couldn’t argue with that logic.

Around the same time, I found a scholarship application online on the Linda Lael Miller website. She is one of my favorite authors. On her website, she was offering ten $1000 scholarships for women over 25 going back to school. All I had to do was write an essay about why I needed it, and she’d send me $1000 if I was one of the winners. I could use that $1000 to buy a computer. I had no computer at the time, so when I wrote my essay, I talked about how badly I needed one to do schoolwork on.

I couldn’t write the essay fast enough. I filled it out on a typewriter and mailed it off and waited impatiently, but never heard anything.

UNTIL.

One morning, I got a phone call from a number on my home phone (remember, this is the olden days) I didn’t recognize, and it was the secretary to Linda Lael Miller! She told me very kindly that I didn’t win the scholarship.

How odd, I thought. Why would someone call to tell me I didn’t win?

That’s because although I didn’t win the scholarship, Linda liked my essay so much that instead of giving me the scholarship, she just thought she’d SEND ME A COMPUTER.

silver imac near white ceramic kettle

Photo by MockupEditor.com on Pexels.com

In shock, I thanked the secretary profusely and cried grateful buckets when I got off the phone. A few days later, UPS actually dropped off a computer tower, big monitor, speakers, and at printer to my house. I can still see the black and white spotted Gateway boxes. I got a separate lovely letter from Herself with her email address asking if I liked it. I emailed her personal email immediately (ON MY NEW COMPUTER) and told her how much of a surprise it was, and how lovely it was that she did that, and thanked her probably a thousand times.

I did use that computer for my schoolwork and for many years after until I joined the 21st century and got a laptop—but I never ever forgot how generous it was for such a famous author to buy me something I needed when I needed it so badly. Thanks, Linda!!

Let’s Talk Vampires

According to Wikapedia, “A vampire is a being from folklore that subsists by feeding on the vital force of the living.” Also according to Wikapedia, they weren’t particularly attractive in the beginning: “they wore shrouds and were often described as bloated and of ruddy…countenance…”

My how things have changed.

Don't say no to a sexy vampire

Today, vampires are sexy. Thank God they’ve moved beyond “bloated,” because nobody wants a gassy hero.

Wikapedia also says this, in case you were looking for early (sexy) vampire reads:

“The charismatic and sophisticated vampire of modern fiction was born in 1819 with the publication of “The Vampyre” by John Polidori; the story was highly successful and arguably the most influential vampire work of the early 19th century.[4] Bram Stoker‘s 1897 novel Dracula is remembered as the quintessential vampire novel and provided the basis of the modern vampire legend, even though it was published after Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu‘s 1872 novel Carmilla.”

But enough about Wikapedia’s interpretation of vampires. Let’s talk about mine.

The first vampire movie I recall watching was Interview with the Vampire with Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. And thus a giant crush as only schoolgirls can accomplish was born. I loved them equally, although between this movie, Legends of the Fall, and Thelma and Louise, Brad most certainly and quite quickly became a frontrunner. Sorry, Tom.

Anyway, back to vampires. I also read Anne Rice’s book, of course, although I can’t remember which went first—book or movie. Probably book because I remember watching the movie on television, not in the theatre, and back then, I tended to pick up the book first whenever a movie was made from it. (Which, by the way, often led to disappointment, because it’s all too common for the book to be so much better than the movie. In the case of Interview with the Vampire, there was no disappointment because refer to beautiful men above and yes, I am shallow like that.)

Throughout my rather lengthy reading career, I’ve read plenty of vampire books, including the Sookie Stackhouse series (which admittedly I started reading because they were based near Shreveport, Louisiana, a place I called home for a decade). I also adore Katie McAlister’s Dark Ones, which I picked up because after devouring all of her dragon books I obsessively needed more and so became one of those fans who stalks an author’s backlist and snags everything she can get her hands on. And then there were the Queen Betsy books, and now, as I read back through this list, I realize there is a definite trend in my vampire reading material.

I like humorous vampire stories.

Hiding Shirts

Of course, I like sexy ones too, but hey, it’s pretty clear we can have both, right?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, anyone?

Buffy sexual tension meme

I suppose this reading and watching material explains why the vampires I write tend to be both sexy and funny. (Although, to be fair, all of my books tend to have humor woven throughout.)

Now that I’ve snagged your interest with those sexy and funny memes, here’s the plug: I’ve written two vampire novellas. They are a pair; you should read Resist first, then Eternity. And Resist is currently discounted to 99c for only a few more days, making it terribly easy and tempting to get started on these two books.

Here’s the quickie 411:

Resist – our heroine hates vampires, with good reason. Our hero is a vampire who happens to save her life – which was threatened by a couple of punk humans, by the way. Oh yeah, our hero is also starving, but refuses to feed from her in an effort to prove not all vamps are bad guys. Also, there’s lots of sexual tension, which makes not feeding even more of a challenge. Oh, and humor. Cam’s a pretty funny vampire, if I do say so myself.

Eternity – our hero (vampire) and heroine (human) fell in love during Resist, and at the end of that book, our hero cuts all ties and sends our heroine back to her human life because he wants her to be happy and live out her full human life, something he missed out on and has always regretted. She’s pissed because he’s making this decision against her will, so she takes off to go lick her wounds and try to forget…and ends up in some seriously hot water. Our hero needs to rescue her, which is a challenge because she’s trapped on a Caribbean island, which, you know, tends to be a bright, sunny place on the regular, with little options for places to avoid the sun’s burning rays. And yeah, there’s plenty of funny, as well as some seriously sexy moments in this book.

A little about the author: Tami Lund likes to write funny, sexy vampires, as we’ve already established above. She also writes about dragons and witches and the mafia and sexy neighbors and the list goes on and on. This is where you can see the full library: https://tamilund.com/. Happy reading! 

Tulip Takes a Class

Some of you may remember that four weeks ago, we drove in to Naperville and met the puppy that would be ours. In the car, we had a little laundry basket lined with a cozy red blanket, a pink heart dog tag with her name and address lasered onto it, just in case she was a runner like her beloved predecessor. Nestled on the blankie was a tiny leather piggie for her tiny little self to chew on.

img_20190210_110845

I am tiny. I am adorable. I have really sharp teeth.

We thought we were getting a 4 month old lab rescue puppy, and she is, mostly. I’d say 90 percent of her is a cuddly-wuddly puppy.

“She’s a lab mix,” said the foster mom. “I am not sure what she’s mixed with.”

selective photo of gray shark

Photo by GEORGE DESIPRIS on Pexels.com

I have some ideas. The other 10 percent is shark, or piranha, or crocodile—we haven’t quite decided which. Because I was so busy signing the adoption forms and Joe was so busy fending her off, we didn’t stop to check for gills, flat black pupils or number of teeth.

As part of the rescue process, we had to enroll her in a puppy class.

I got her all signed up and we took her to her first one this past Saturday. Once inside, Tulip promptly peed on the floor.

AWESOME. Great start. The trainer’s associate looked at us sternly. “Did your dog urinate?”

Urinate? She piddled, my good friend. PIDDLED. And she did it again when the trainer came in. Great start.

In a renovated barn, we sat in a circle with lots of other dog owners. Besides Tucker, a poodle who wanted smexy times with Tulip in the WORST WAY, there were five other puppies. All were much larger and beefier than Tulip. Joe said to me under his breath, “she’s the smallest one here. This can’t be the right class.”

Hold up, there, buddy. I spent all week sending emails and making calls and settled on the one puppy class that she’d fit into the best, and THIS WAS THE ONE.

Seconds later, we found out that all the dogs in our class were about five or six months, most of them were just as unruly as Tulip and just as inexperienced. “We’re in the right place,” I hissed back to him. “She’s just a runty little thing.”

We had been instructed to skip her breakfast but bring lots of treats and promptly learned how to get her to sit, bump our hand, and lay down. We were amused that after each success you’re supposed to quickly say, “yes” as you’re rewarding with a treat. After watching the trainer show an example, pretty soon all we could hear is a chorus of “yeses” and barking. Tulip soaked up the knowledge like a sponge. She’s super smart and in fact probably the smartest one there. Maybe.tenor

However, Tulip’s absolute favorite time in the class was when all the dogs were sorted into groups, much like Harry Potter and the Sorting Hat. Our small “Ruffyindor” was put with Dakota, a labradoodle and probable Ravenpaw, and Tucker, the high pitched barking poodle who was obviously a Hufflefloof. The three puppies ran around and play snarled at each other, and overall had a great time.

Although we did sit, bump hand and lay down, we did not do No Bite. Maybe that’s another class?

Tulip managed to stay awake until we got home, and then took several naps. We may have had a nap ourselves. After dinner, she promptly fell asleep again and slept almost the entire night—which was good because one of the handouts in our puppy folder was how to get your puppy to quit biting. Thank goodness.

I read that one out loud to her while she slept. Hopefully she’ll absorb some of that knowledge too.

How A Book Is Born

This isn’t about all that technical stuff, like uploading documents and JPEGs and choosing key words and all that not-exciting stuff authors have to deal with in order to bring you great reads.

Nope.

This is about the inner workings of an author’s mind.

This is about how the idea for a book comes about.

Fair warning: it’s not normal. It’s not typical. In fact, it’s probably a bit weird.

You’ve been warned.

So anyway, about five years ago, on a random Friday, I was heading into the day job later than normal. I can’t remember why, but if I had to guess, I probably worked really late the day before and needed an extra hour of sleep.

Anyway, this particular section of my commute is down a long, two-lane road that cuts through a swampy area. There are eight-foot cattails on either side of the street for about a quarter of a mile, then, on the left, there’s a dirt road, which is really just a driveway shared by a handful of houses. The house closest to the road is the largest, and then the ones behind it are smaller. I don’t know if it’s all one family or if maybe the big house sold the land at some point, but in my mind, I decided that the smaller house directly behind the big one was a cottage that the owners rented out to one of the key secondary characters in the book that was forming in my head.

On this day that I was late heading into work, there was a little girl standing at the end of that dirt road. She was kicking pebbles and her thumbs were hooked into the straps of her backpack, and I remember thinking, She’s young, like maybe kindergarten or first grade, and she’s standing next to this street where cars zoom past at 45-50 miles per hour. Seems like there’d be a parent hovering around such a small child.

And then a car slowed down and turned onto the dirt road where she was standing, and my overactive imagination kicked into gear.

What if that driver is about to kidnap that little girl? (For the record, that’s not what happened in real life.)

Okay, who’s the heroine? Will it be the mother? No, an innocent bystander. Someone jogging down the road. And if that person dives into the cattails for some reason, the kidnapper won’t even notice that he has an eyewitness.

What would be a good reason for a jogger to hide in cattails? Checking out animal tracks? Lost something?

Sick? Puking?

Yeah, it’s Friday, and lots of people start the weekend on Thursday, and what if our eyewitness-slash-heroine got drunk last night and decided to go for a jog to sweat it out and ended up getting sick to her stomach?

Okay, so now, why would someone kidnap this little girl? What’s the motive? And how is the jogger going to get sucked in?

I continued on my way, and probably about a mile and a half down the road, I passed a small row of shops, including a dry cleaner.

And while I was at work that day, a co-worker told me a story about her husband’s family, who own a dry cleaner.

Her husband’s family is Italian.

Another one of my co-workers is Italian, and he tells stories about his mom’s recipes (she makes an amazing tiramisu, for the record) and how he took his now wife to Italy to propose and how his family is very authentically Italian…

All weekend, this book percolated in my mind. I was still trying to work out the key details.

Who’s the bad guy? Why is he the bad guy?

Who’s the hero? How is he going to meet the heroine?

How does the little girl play into it all?

On Sunday afternoon, my husband lounged on the couch and binge watched The Godfather movies. I didn’t sit with him; by default I’ve seen them a hundred times anyway and I’m not one of those people who likes to sit around and watch the same shows over and over again. But it was on, and the voices drifted through my head and…

Monday morning, I drove that exact same commute, and when I cruised through that swampy area, there was no little girl waiting for the bus.

And I thought about this story idea that wouldn’t stop bouncing around in my head.

This road.

Little girl waiting for the bus.

Kidnapped.

Jogger sees it.

Little girl’s mother is angry but not frantic. Why?

Dad is the kidnapper. Why?

DAD IS A MAFIA BOSS.

Boom. That’s it. That’s the missing puzzle piece to pull it all together.

But I didn’t want the actual boss to ultimately be the hero; no, he needed to be the bad guy. Because mafia bosses have to be damned ruthless to keep and maintain their power, right? So someone on his crew or in his family has to be the hero.

His brother.

But I didn’t want the hero to be someone who kills or abuses other people. No, he needs to be someone behind the scenes.

The money man.

And they need a front, a legit business, behind which they can launder money and evade the IRS.

A dry cleaning chain.

Boom.

And the jogger, she’s going to be a random person, someone with a heart of gold, someone who would never, ever become involved with a man who is associated with a dirty business like the mob. Because of course, our hero is going to fall for her, and if she ever finds out he’s connected to the mob, well…

THERE’S OUR STORY.

And now it’s finally ready for your reading pleasure. Trapped by the Mob releases tomorrow, 2/28/2019. Buy it or read it in KU, your choice.

Happy reading!

AMAZON

Trapped by the Mob Cover

Tami Lund writes all sorts of romance. Suspense, romcom, shapeshifters, demigods, vampires, and now, mafia. Check out all those others on her website: https://tamilund.com/

See, I still care.

I have dark hair and have had to dye my hair since I was about 25 years old. Even when you can find someone who charges a reasonable sum for a cut and color, it’s still about $80 a pop, and I had to have it done about every six weeks. I’ll do the quick math for you—it’s about $680 a year. Do you know what you can buy for $680 a year? It was not an easy decision, the one where I decided to let my hair grow in gray. But I did it.

However, despite the cost, I didn’t want to look old. I played the game, going to the hairdresser as often as ever for a color, but noticed that within a week of going to get my hair done, I could already see gray roots. For some reason, those roots bothered me worse than the thought of going completely gray. Like I was too busy stocking my pill box with Geritol to bother with going to the salon.

In 2015, I stopped getting my hair colored completely. My hair was pretty long, shoulder length, and when I saw the gray coming in, I have to admit, I panicked. “I look so old,” I whined to my husband. “You have to be patient,” he said. “It’s going to look fine.”

Besides, that’s about two years after I became a grandma for the first time. Who better than a grandma to have silver hair?

I gritted my teeth and let it keep growing out. When I had grown out about four inches of gray, I took a picture of Carol from the Walking Dead (when her hair looked short and cute and normal, not like now, when she looks like a forest witch) into the salon and asked for “The Carol”. On the show, Carol has a wispy gray short cut. I still think it’s an adorable haircut, even when you are not facing a world of zombies who want to chase and eat you. The stylist did a great job, and I loved the haircut.

chrisjenjoe (2)

see? Not AARP-Y at all.

My hair was short and sparkly. Shiny. Silvery and glittery. I gleefully put clips in it and cavorted and lived my life like I was the cover model of AARP. I have literally had people come up to me and said how much they like it, how they’d grow theirs out too if it looked like mine, etc. At least no one used the word “brave.”

Fast forward to now. It’s four years later and I have four more grandchildren. If ever a time to have gray hair, it’s when you have five grandchildren. My silver/gray hair has grown out several inches. It’s about the same length as it was when I decided to grow out the gray, just a little disillusioned with the color and to that end, and had an interesting conversation with my sister last night, who also took the going gray plunge with me a couple years ago.

“I’m thinking of dyeing my hair,” she texted me.

“I’m thinking of doing the same,” I text back. “Not like all over, but maybe get some highlights. Or some lowlights. Something that says, ‘I’m relevant. See, I still care.’”

We agree that without the proper mind set, gray hair can make you feel a little dowdy. Or, in my case, a LOT dowdy. I need a change. I need that feeling of going to my hairdresser (Hi, Carly!) and being so excited about the way it looks that I can barely wait to get into the car to take a selfie.

What I’m saying, is I need the reverse “Carol” haircut. Something less apocalyptic. I’m not going to be getting chased by zombies, after all, but I am getting chased by a new puppy.

And that’s kind of the same thing.

Tiptoe around the Tulip

A couple months ago, our eight year old black lab Cooper had a seizure and passed away in our back yard. As difficult as it was to witness, my husband and I were so very happy that we were both home to talk to Cooper and soothe him. He was surrounded by the smells of his own back yard and the voices of his “parents” and we clung to that in our grief.

Fast forward a couple of months. We missed having a furry friend to greet us at the door and watch play in our yard. To that end, we submitted an adoption application in to the Chicagoland Lab Rescue (CLLR) for a puppy. Both of the labs we owned previously were rescue dogs; it’s the only ones we would consider. At any rate, things happened very quickly after that–we were approved for a home visit and lo and behold, on the CLLR Facebook page, there was a little female black lab named Winnie. She is five months old. I knew immediately she was going to be ours and we renamed her Tulip. (She wasn’t much of a Winnie.)  Last Sunday, we picked her up, and the fun began.

She slept all the way home from Naperville and made herself right at home in our house. We were thrilled at the way she seemed to settle right in…and that should have been our first clue.

Things I love about having a puppy: the puppy breath. Her tiny little eyes and equally tiny bark. The way she cocks her tiny head when she hears another dog outside. The way she belly crawls across the room once she’s let out of her crate because she’s so happy to see us. Her excitement at eating her dog food and her enthusiasm at the sheer volume of dog toys we have for her. The fact that we’re going to be able to teach her how to be the best dog for our family.

IMG_20190214_173639

I AM THE BEST DOG. LOOK AT HOW CUTE I AM.

Things I hate about having a puppy: the jumping up on the couch, the love seat, the kitchen table, me. The way she wakes us up at the butt crack of dawn because she has to go potty. The teeny tiny bladder she must possess because we are outside every half hour. The way we take her outside and march around the back yard in the snow for twenty minutes, only to have her pee on the floor the second she gets in the house. (We did NOT think that through–the fact that it’s like minus 500 degrees outside and we are trying to potty train a new puppy.) The fact that at night I’m afraid to even clear my throat too loudly so I don’t wake her up.

IMG_20190210_154318

me? pee in the house? never.

Then there’s the best of all–biting with those needle-like tiny teeth, which have alternately bruised me and bloodied my arm. There are SO MANY TEETH. It’s like the little guy with the sword from Trilogy of Terror is chasing me all around the house. We have used the trick of spraying her with a spray bottle when she nips but she just doesn’t seem to care–and in fact enjoys the water game. We end up having scarred arms and a dog with a wet head.

I suddenly understand why Tulip’s foster mom gave us a $30 crate to take him with us…I thought she was just being nice but now I understand it was more a matter of survival.

However, we went through this puppy stage with Sammy, then with Cooper, and now with Tulip. I will load up on band-aids and get her in a puppy training class. I know things will get better, eventually.

Won’t they?

Tami Lund Makes Mafia Romance Funny

Trapped by the Mob Cover

I posted this on my personal blog last week and decided to reblog it here… Enjoy a sneak peek at my latest release!!

~~~

Why yes, I did take a beloved trope and put my own spin on it. Because that’s what authors do, right? That’s why you keep reading; because we keep introducing new stories, new ideas, new ways to enjoy a storyline you’ve read before.

Such as the mafia. Or better yet, mafia romance. Like this one. Which is mafia romance a’la the Tami Lund special. What does that mean?

It’s means this book is gonna make you chuckle.

Here’s the premise:

TRAPPED BY THE MOB

Sure, Antonio Sarvilli is the money man behind his brother’s criminal empire, but that doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy. He’s not the one out there killing people. All he does is make greenbacks and enjoy the fruits of his labor.

That attitude changes when his brother assigns him to get to know Phoebe Cavanaugh, a Good Samaritan who witnessed something she wasn’t supposed to.

Now, all Antonio wants is to get out so he can be with Phoebe.

Except that’s not how it works when you’re part of the mob.

 

And here’s the first chapter, even before Amazon will offer it to you:

Chapter One

THE GOOD SAMARITAN

 

“I swear, I’ll never do that again,” Phoebe Cavanaugh muttered to her reflection, which stared back at her with mussed hair—and not the sexy bedhead kind, either—and bags the size of Lake Michigan under her eyes, accentuating a horribly pallid complexion.

“I am not a bad girl,” she added before shoving the toothbrush into her mouth and attempting to scrub away the cotton and lingering taste of tequila. Or maybe that was worm. God, the end of the evening was hazy, but she suspected her evil co-workers had convinced her to eat the damn thing when the last shot had been poured.

“Why did I think I could keep up?” She hadn’t been a heavy drinker when she had been in college, let alone in the five years since graduating. “And on a weekday, no less.”

She trudged back to her bedroom and huffed out a sigh. The digital clock on her bedside table flipped to 8:02.

Phoebe should have been to work an hour ago, and she hadn’t even showered yet. Hell, she was still wearing the jeans and boatneck, striped shirt she’d worn to the bar last night.

Not to mention the roiling in her stomach. Ugh. How the heck did one cure a weekday hangover?

She kicked a running shoe out of her way, and for the first time since dragging herself out of bed, something inside her body perked up. “I’ll sweat it out.”

She nodded, stripping out of last night’s clothes and reaching for her favorite pair of running shorts. “Thirty-minute jog, ten-minute shower, bare minimum makeup, and I’ll stop at McDonald’s on the way to work. I’ll be two hours late, but at least they won’t be able to say I couldn’t hang.”

Hell, she was feeling better already.

A swath of oak trees with massive, sprawling branches lined up on either side of a narrow, winding drive that separated Phoebe’s apartment complex from the main road. The natural barrier helped cut down on the city noises that slammed into her as soon as she hit the sidewalk, running along the road that normally took her to her job, the grocery store, the nearby bar she never intended to step foot into again.

She passed a gas station and hung a left, running along the gravel shoulder of a residential road that cut through a swampy area, which meant it was underdeveloped and thus much quieter with far less traffic. Lots of school buses, though. Usually she was already at work by this point, so she didn’t have to share road time with the big yellow vehicles with their flashing red lights and the stop signs that popped out from the side every time the gears ground to a halt to take on yet another kid.

The bout of nausea hit when she was jogging through a particularly quiet stretch. A wall of eight-foot tall cattails swayed in the gentle breeze to her left, and a gravel path jutted from the main road to her right. A two-story house with dust-covered, white siding stood sentinel, with a smaller cottage tucked behind it, like maybe it was a servant’s quarters or, more likely, a guesthouse. A dark-haired girl stood at the end of the dirt road, presumably waiting for the bus. She kicked pebbles while fiddling with the straps on her purple backpack.

“Oh God.” Phoebe’s stomach had about two seconds before she expelled whatever contents were left from last night, so she dove through the wall of cattails. She preferred to puke in private, thankyouverymuch. Her running shoes sank into muck as she bent at the waist and hacked up what looked like she might very well have eaten that damn worm from the bottom of the tequila bottle.

Sucking in deep breaths and wiping the snot from her nose with the back of her hand, she remained doubled over at the waist until the sound of a car door caught her attention. Glad for the distraction from the grossness at her feet, she gingerly pulled her shoes from the mud and separated the foliage with her hands so she could look out at the road.

A newer model black town car had stopped near the young girl still standing across the street. That was weird. Phoebe glanced up and down the road, but there were no other cars. Or buses. She didn’t see someone who might resemble a parent either. And that guy climbing out of the driver’s seat didn’t look like any father Phoebe would want. Not that she knew her own father or believed they all should look a certain way, but this guy, he would be a better fit in a mafia movie than in, say, a Disney princess book.

Unless the story was about kidnapper dads.

“Holy shit!” She stared through the gap she’d made in the cattails as the guy walked around the car, grabbed the kid by the strap of her purple backpack, and tossed her into the backseat of his car. Okay, maybe it didn’t happen exactly like that, but that little girl had definitely not intended to go with that guy. She was waiting for the bus, wasn’t she?

“Ohmigod, he’s kidnapping her!” Phoebe leaped from her hiding place, waving her arms and shouting, “Stop! Stop! Help! Police! Somebody call the cops!”

The kidnapper’s head snapped up, and for a second she was afraid he was about to pull out a gun and aim it at her. Maybe she watched too many movies. Except the guy was kidnapping that kid, for crying out loud!

Instead of shooting her, he hustled around the car and hopped into the driver’s seat, the tires spinning and kicking dirt and pebbles at her as she raced across the street like she thought she was going to be able to stop him.

“Nina?”

Phoebe jerked her attention to the woman jogging toward her on the dirt road. She must have come from the smaller house tucked behind the big one. The woman wore a pale pink, scoop neck T-shirt and a pair of khaki capris. Her hair was dark, pulled back into a ponytail, and her features were dainty and elfin. Just like the little girl who was speeding away in the backseat of a black sedan with some creepy mob guy.

“Nina,” the woman said again when she reached Phoebe. “Did the bus come?” She sounded on the edge of panic, like she needed Phoebe to lie to her.

“Some guy just kidnapped her,” Phoebe said. “At least, I think so. That was your daughter, right? Dark hair, purple backpack, looks just like you?”

The lady twisted her head back and forth, looking up and down the road. “Yes. Nina. What do you mean, some guy just kidnapped her? Who?”

Phoebe tugged her phone from her shorts pocket and dialed 9-1-1. “How the hell do I know who he was? But I can describe the car and him, although damn it, I didn’t think to get the license—hello? Yes, this is an emergency. I just witnessed a kidnapping. Yes, I’ll—”

“No!” The woman jerked the phone from Phoebe’s hand and pressed the red button on the screen to disconnect the call. “Don’t involve the cops.”

“Don’t what? Are you crazy? Some mafia-looking guy just kidnapped your daughter, lady.” She enunciated the words the way people did when they were speaking to someone who didn’t understand English very well.

“Which is why you can’t involve the police.”

Phoebe’s phone rang. Emergency dispatch flashed on the screen. She took a couple steps away from the crazy lady and answered the call. “Yes, hello? Yes, I did just call and yes, I did witness a kidnapping. I’m at” —she glanced up at the street sign—“the corner of Hiller and Dirk Avenue. Yes, I’ll stay here until the police arrive. Thank you. Uh-uh. Bye.”

She disconnected the call and glanced at the woman who was now frowning at her like she’d done something wrong instead of try to help her get her daughter back. “Are you going into shock? Is that the problem?”

The lady flung out her hand and stormed away, heading down the road that, now that Phoebe got a good look at it, was actually a long, winding driveway. The mother of the year muttered as she walked. Something about ruining everything and now Gino was going to be a complete ass and probably punish her even though she wasn’t the one who called the cops and why couldn’t people just mind their own damn business.

“Hey,” Phoebe said, chasing after her. “If I hadn’t noticed that guy taking your kid, you wouldn’t even know she was gone until she didn’t get off the school bus this afternoon.”

The lady sighed and turned around. “Yes, I would have. I’m sure Gino will call, probably within the hour. He didn’t take her because he actually wants to see her; he took her because I went out on a date last night. Apparently he can screw anyone he damn well pleases, but I can’t even go on one lousy date. And that’s the best part: It was a lousy date.”

Phoebe canted her head and furrowed her brow. “What are you talking about?”

The lady flapped her hand again. “Gino. My ex-husband. I’m sure that’s who took Nina. Well, one of his minions, at any rate, since he never does his own dirty work.”

“Oh. I take it he’s her dad?”

“Of course he is,” she snapped, like the answer was obvious.

“So he won’t hurt her?”

“Doubtful. I mean, I’m pretty sure Gino isn’t actually capable of love, but whatever passes closest to it in his mind is what he feels for Nina. So no, he won’t hurt her. He only did this to torment me.”

“Yeah, you said that. Because you went on a date last night. But didn’t you say he’s your ex-husband?”

“Yes, thank God.”

“Then how is it he has any say over your life whatsoever?”

“Trust me, once you get caught in Gino Sarvilli’s web, you never truly get out again. Even though he granted me the divorce two years ago, the ground rules were clear. I’m only allowed to do whatever Gino says I can do. And having a life, enjoying the company of another man, isn’t on that list.”

“That makes no sense.”

She shrugged. “It does in Gino’s world.”

“You make the guy sound like a dictator or something.”

“You said it,” she said as a police cruiser slowed and turned onto the dirt road, inching toward them. “And this”—she pointed at the cop car— “just made it ten times worse.”

Thanks to an unfortunate situation last fall—which, by the way, hadn’t been her fault—Phoebe had lost her job as a wedding planner. One career change later and she wasn’t quite to the ninety-day mark in her current position. Now she had no idea if she’d even be able to make it in today.

Not the way to impress the new boss.

~~~

And here’s the link to keep reading when it releases on February 28, 2019: PRE-ORDER. 

PS – It will be available in KU!

PSS – The sequel, FREED FROM THE MOB, is scheduled for release on March 28, 2019.

Happy reading!

Tami Lund Headshot 2014

Tami Lund writes all sorts of tropes, from dragons to witches to demigods to contemporary suspense and romcom. All all sexy, all are funny, and all will satisfy your need for a happy ever after… https://tamilund.com/