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Thursday, August 28, 2014

{Blog Tour} THE NIGHTLIFE: SAN ANTONIO by Travis Luedke

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

{Cover Reveal} BENEATH THIS MASK by Meghan March -- with giveaway

We are excited to share with you the cover for Meghan March's newest book BENEATH THIS MASK, scheduled for release on September 29th!
Make sure to add it to your TBR list and enter the giveaway below! Good luck!!!
beneath this mask

Synopsis
My name is Charlotte Agoston, and I’m a runner. Not the ‘let’s go for a jog and slap a 26.2 sticker on your bumper’ kind of runner; I’m the kind of runner who takes off when her father is staring down the barrel of a guilty verdict that carries a 175-year sentence for perpetrating the largest fraud in the history of the world. That’s right. Bernie Madoff was an amateur compared to Alistair Agoston.

Faced with living under a cloud of suspicion and constant questioning by the FBI, I ran. I’m making a new life in New Orleans as Charlie Stone. I traded my future in New York high finance for tattoos, booze, a few friends who don’t ask questions, and one giant mutt named Huckleberry Finn. Everything is simple and uncomplicated until Simon Duchesne—former hotshot Navy fighter pilot, NOLA’s favorite son, city councilman, and rumored congressional hopeful—walks into my life.

The flashing cameras he attracts threaten to expose everything I’m hiding, but I can’t seem to stay away. Why are the most dangerous ideas always the most seductive?

In trying to get lost, I found myself. And then I found Simon. He loves me, and he doesn’t even know my real name. I’m going to break his heart, but mine will shatter right along with it. This is our story.

Will we be strong enough to face the consequences of revealing what’s beneath this mask?
Trailer
beneath this mask Lying Coward

Excerpt
“What are you doing here?” I asked. My tone was less than welcoming. If he let me run him off, then I’d be saved from the temptation that was Simon Duchesne.

“You called me.”

“I shouldn’t have.”

“I’m glad you did.” He shifted, as though annoyed by the bars between us. Sorry, Simon, I thought, even without the bars, there will always be impenetrable walls.

A thought struck me. “Are you drunk?”

“No,” Simon replied with a laugh. “Are you?”

“A little.” At least I could be honest about that.

A provocative smile spread over his face, and I caught a flash of dimples. Damn. Come on world, throw me a bone.

“Are you going to ask me in?” He punctuated the question with a raised eyebrow.

“I shouldn’t.” To myself I added, I really, really shouldn’t.

“You don’t look like the kind of girl who doesn’t do things just because she thinks she shouldn’t.”

I looked down at the uneven cobblestones beneath my feet. “Don’t pretend like you know me.”

“I want to.”

“Why?” It was a question I desperately wanted answered. I was still trying to sort out all of the reasons for my attraction to him. Maybe he could articulate whatever this crazy thing was between us, and solve the mystery for me.

He reached through the bars and tucked a flyaway strand of hair behind my ear.

“Honestly, I have no idea. You’re just … there’s something about you.”

Dammit. I took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, giving myself a moment to think. Ultimately, it was his honesty that decided it. We were equally off balance here. I was probably going to regret this, but … what the hell. I twisted the lock and opened the gate. For some reason, it didn’t feel wrong. I thought of Yve’s advice. One night. Get him out of my system. I never had to see him again. I could steal this night and emerge unscathed.

AboutTheAuthormeghan march
Meghan March is a Michigan native who has spent a good portion of her life buried in a book. Case in point: she read the entire romance section of her small town public library by age fourteen. Even after growing up (sort of) and getting a law degree, she never lost her passion for a great story, twisty plot, epic romance, and amazing characters. When she’s not writing, she’s probably reading, target shooting, drooling over fast cars, playing with her crazy mutt, or hanging with her very own sexy bad boy.
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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

{Spotlight} J.S. Scott --- with giveaway



 Jason Sutherland is a billionaire investor who has it all: good looks, billions of dollars, and every expensive toy a man could ever want. What he doesn’t have is the one thing he wants the most: Hope Sinclair.
Unfortunately Hope, the little sister of his best friend, was off limits. But when he finds out that she’s getting married, he decides that he’s staking his claim before it’s too late, and it will take more than a little deception and risk to accomplish his goal. Hope could end up hating his guts, but after spending one forbidden night with her that he can’t forget, he knows he has to try to make her his forever.

Hope Sinclair was born into money, but being rich has never made her happy. The one thing she wants is a man to care about her and not her bank account. The closest thing she’s ever found to real happiness was the magical, passionate night she’d spent in the arms of Jason Sutherland…until that night turned into heartbreak. So when he unexpectedly comes back into her life in the strangest of ways, Hope is determined to resist her attraction to him.


Thrown together by Jason’s deception and with their passion still burning hot, can the two of them survive after the billionaire is unmasked?

18+ only. Not suitable for children and teens under 18.






More after the jump!

{COVER REVEAL} Night of Pan by Gail Strickland

Night of Pan, by Gail Strickland - Cover

Night of Pan, by Gail Strickland
Genre: young-adult, historical-fantasy
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Date of Release: November 7, 2014
Series: Book One of The Oracle of Delphi Trilogy
Cover Artist: Ricky Gunawan

Add Night of Pan to your Goodreads 'to-be-read' list.

Description:

The slaughter of the Spartan Three Hundred at Thermopylae, Greece 480 BCE—when King Leonidas tried to stop the Persian army with only his elite guard—is well known. But just what did King Xerxes do after he defeated the Greeks?

Fifteen-year-old Thaleia is haunted by visions: roofs dripping blood, Athens burning. She tries to convince her best friend and all the villagers that she’s not crazy. The gods do speak to her.

And the gods have plans for this girl.

When Xerxes’ army of a million Persians marches straight to the mountain village Delphi to claim the Temple of Apollo’s treasures and sacred power, Thaleia’s gift may be her people’s last line of defense.

Her destiny may be to save Greece…
…but is one girl strong enough to stop an entire army?


Gail Strickland, Author, Mythology, Ophelia, Night of pan
About The Author:
While studying the Classics in college, Gail Strickland translated much of Homer’s ILIAD and ODYSSEY, Herodotus’ prophecies and THE BACCHAI by Euripides. Living on the Greek islands after college, she discovered her love of myth, the wine-dark sea and retsina.
THE BALTIMORE REVIEW and WRITER’S DIGEST have recognized Gail’s fiction. She published stories and poems in Travelers’ Tales’ anthologies and the San Francisco Writer’s anthology. Her poetry and photography were published in a collection called CLUTTER.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Gail grew up in Northern California. She raised her children; was a musical director for CAT children’s theater; taught music in schools; mentored young poets and novelists and introduced thousands of youngsters to piano and Greek mythology. Gail is passionate about bringing the richness of Homer’s language and culture to today’s youth.
Find Gail Strickland Online:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Google +

Monday, August 25, 2014

{Spotlight} LUCKY CATCH by Deborah Coonts -- with giveaway and excerpt!

Book Title: Lucky Catch
Author: Deborah Coonts
Publisher: Cool Gus Publishing
Publishing Date: August 26, 2014
Length: 230 pages
Book Five in the Lucky O'Toole Vegas Adventure Series by National Bestselling Author DEBORAH COONTS

Trouble always comes in threes.

At least that’s what Lucky O’Toole, the VP of Customer Relations for Las Vegas’ primo Strip casino/hotel, the Babylon, has heard for years from her mother. So, tonight, when Teddie, her former lover shows up at her office unannounced and very unexpected, her father offers Teddie a job at the Babylon, she is called to deal with a pig in residence at one of the hotels most exclusive and opulent suites, and Lucky’s current lover, Jean-Charles Bouclet stops answering his phone leaving Lucky to handle his five-year-old son, Lucky figures she has tonight’s compliment of chaos covered.

As usual, she is a tad optimistic.

With a cadre of celebrity chefs with the maturity of teenagers in Vegas for a televised cook-off, a prized Alba truffle in the Babylon’s care, and her mother’s pregnancy racing toward the inevitable, what could go wrong?

When the truffle is stolen from the walk-in in Jean-Charles’ gourmet burger joint at the Babylon and a young chef apparently killed with a smoking gun is found in Jean-Charles’ food truck on the back lot, trouble takes a sinister turn.

And Jean-Charles still isn’t answering his phone.

Another body is discovered. This one stuffed in an oven at Jean-Charles’ eponymous restaurant and set to broil.

Desperate to put a lid on the body count and more than frantic over her AWOL lover, Lucky uses her Vegas contacts to search in places and in ways the police wouldn’t or couldn’t. Teddie insists on riding shotgun. Lucky hasn’t the time nor the resolve to say no. She’s never been able to resist Teddie … not really. With danger dogging their heels, Lucky finds herself falling once again under his spell as they traverse Vegas, being drawn deeper and deeper into the highly competitive world of high-end eateries and the battle for the very rare, most highly prized gourmet foodstuffs.
Would somebody really kill for a truffle?

In a heartbeat.

And when Lucky’s path crosses the killer’s… will her goose be cooked?

I am proof positive that sex sells…and persistence pays off. After fifteen years learning the craft of writing, I am now officially, an overnight success. And it’s been a long road to get here…
My mother tells me I was born in Texas a very long time ago, but I’m not so sure—my mother can’t be trusted. These things I do know: I was raised in Texas on barbeque, Mexican food and beer. I’ve lived in every time zone in the U.S.; the most memorable stint being the time spent in Las Vegas, where I currently reside and where family and friends tell me I can't get into too much trouble...silly people.
The only constant in my life (besides my family, who deserves hazardous duty pay for sticking with me) has been change (my mother is still waiting for me to grow up). Silly woman.
But all of this career ADD made me incredibly unemployable. Hence the whole writing thing.
Actually, I’ve known from a young age that somehow stories would be a large part of my life, but my path to telling lies for a living (okay, not lies per se, but variations of the truth, for sure) has been circuitous. If someone had just told me when I was a kid that I could actually be paid to daydream for a living, life would have been soooo much easier. But they didn’t. And I never saw a ‘daydreaming’ booth at all those Career Days I attended.
So, initially discouraged when unable to locate anyone willing to pay me to read books, go to the movies, or attend the theatre, and in need of providing for the best child in the world, my son Tyler, I spent years being someone else—an accountant (blech), a business owner (pretty fun), a lawyer (loved law school, hated practicing law), a pilot (giddy and terrifying at the same time). But through it all, I wrote. Along the way I wrote the world’s worst novel, a slightly more well-crafted but equally as poorly plotted novel, several non-fiction feature articles (my first sales!), multiple humor columns for a national magazine (more sales!), and, finally, the novel that sold, Wanna Get Lucky?, the first in a series to be published by Forge Books. The series is a Sex and the City meets Elmore Leonard in Vegas kind of thing, if you can imagine that. Okay, have several glasses of wine, then think about it…makes imagining easier. Anyway, the books are sexy, wry, romantic, and slightly naughty mixed with a little murder and mayhem—shaken, not stirred—then illuminated by the bright lights of Las Vegas—one of the truly magical cities in the world.
Many of my friends have asked me how in the world I came up with the Lucky series. The way they asked led me to believe they thought mind-altering substances might have been involved even though they knew the worst I do is a glass of fine Pinot-Noir. The answer to their question is actually very simple: let your fifteen-year-old male child pick where you live, follow his dream to Vegas, then keep your eyes open.
Hey, it worked for me!


CHAPTER ONE


Love and lust—two four-letter words men often confuse. 
More specifically, a certain man . . . the man standing in my doorway. 
Teddie. 
My heart tripped, then steadied.
Thinner than I remembered, he still had that tight ass, those broad shoulders, spiky blond hair, soulful baby-blues, and a sippin’-whiskey-smooth voice that could warm me to the core, despite my best efforts to douse the fire.
Teddie. 
Despite serious reservations about turning a platonic friendship into something . . . not platonic . . . I had let him lead me into the deep, dark waters of love. And being an all-or-nothing kind of gal, I’d done a half gainer off the high dive and things had not gone swimmingly. 
He left.
And now he was back.
As I looked at him and tried to compose myself—it just wouldn’t do to let him see the splash his return made—I wondered how I’d ever get my heart back. The empty hole in my chest echoed with longing, leaving me winded. 
My office phone jangled, giving me an excuse to avoid Teddie for a few moments longer. I grabbed the receiver. “Customer relations, Lucky O’Toole speaking. How may I help you?”
“We have a problem.” Detective Romeo with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department started in without preliminaries—not a good sign. 
“What’s this we shit, Kemosabe?” I tried to make light. Apparently I failed miserably.
Romeo’s tone hardened. “Dead body. Back lot. Somebody wrapped her head in plastic and killed her with a smoking gun. You’re going to want to see this one.”
“Dang.” I rubbed a hand over my face. “I never want to see that kind of thing. You know that.” I looked up and locked eyes with Teddie, who stared at me, his eyes dark and troubled. 
“Trust me on this one.” He took an audible breath, then let it out slowly. 
“Okay. Give me fifteen minutes. I’ve got to take Christophe Bouclet back to his father.”
“I’ll meet you there. This one’s bad.” 
As if they all aren’t bad. “Meet me where?” My only answer was the hollow echo of a disconnected line. Romeo had hung up—he knew how much I hated that little bit of rudeness.
Men.
I narrowed my eyes at the prime example of the Y chromosome set standing in front of me. 
Teddie knew me well enough to take a step back. “Romeo?” he asked with a forced lilt to his voice.
I set the receiver back in its cradle, but refused to let Romeo and Teddie get me all worked up. Problems, I could handle—as the vice president of Customer Relations at the Babylon, Las Vegas’s most over-the-top Strip property, problems were my job. And, if I can say anything about myself, I’m good at my job.
Now, to the most immediate problem. “Teddie, why are you here?”
Ignoring my glower, he continued, sounding like an old friend stopping by to reminisce. “Your office door was open,” he began in a casual tone, as if the earth still rotated on the same axis. “I expected to find you in your old office. What are you doing back here in this construction zone? Not VP digs. Congrats. By the way.” Teddie paused when his eyes came to rest on the young boy in my lap who clutched a crayon and concentrated on the drawing in front of him. I saw questions lurking in Teddie’s eyes. Thankfully, he didn’t voice them, choosing instead to give me a tentative grin. 
A dagger to the heart. 
A frown was the only response I could muster as my pulse pounded in my ears and I struggled to remain outwardly calm. 
“This early in the morning I expected to see your staff out front,” he continued, ignoring the fact that this whole situation was fraught with possibilities of homicide. “But the desks were empty. Since you and I are . . . friends . . . I didn’t think you’d mind me wandering back here to find you.”
What was I going to say? “Get the hell out” seemed a bit extreme. And “no, we’re not friends” would have been too hard to admit. Offering to shoot him the next time he wandered in unannounced also seemed a bit aggressive. Maybe. I opted to duck-and-weave. “If I minded, would it matter?”
Teddie’s smile dimmed and he jammed his hands in his pockets as he shifted from one foot to the other, his shoulders hunched around his ears.
I took a deep breath and blew at a strand of hair that tickled my forehead. “To be honest, you were the last person I expected to darken my doorway this morning. Weren’t you just in Prague or Moscow or someplace half a world away?”
“I quit the tour and jumped a plane.” 
Taking a step inside the doorway, he was brought up short by the look on my face. His arms wide, pleading, he said, “I had to see you.” 
I wasn’t buying it. He always was a bit of a drama queen which, now that I thought about it, went with the whole female impersonator gig—I’d just never noticed it before—or it had never bothered me before. 
Ever the performer, he adopted just the right tone—pleading without the whine. “You won’t take my calls. You won’t answer the messages I send you. You haven’t even acknowledged the song. What did you expect me to do?” He let his arms fall to his sides.
“Expect?” My voice was flat, hard, pounded thin by the hammer of his insensitivity. And the song he mentioned? Every time I heard the thing, he bludgeoned me anew. Didn’t he understand that? “Teddie, I expected you to stay gone.” 
Hurt flashed across his face as we stared at each other and time slowed to a crawl. He looked like he wanted to explore the subject further, but wisely altered course. “Got a new friend, I see.” He nodded toward the boy.
Christophe squirmed under Teddie’s scrutiny, then leaned back and looked up at me. While I counted to ten and prayed for self-control and a noninflammatory response, I bent down and gave the boy a kiss on the head. He smelled like baby soap, and with good reason—last night we’d used a gallon of the stuff. 
That was before I’d spent the night with his father.
“Christophe Bouclet.” My eyes found Teddie’s, then skittered away and back again. Knowing me, I had “guilty as sin” written all over my face. But, Teddie’d been the one to leave. So why did I feel guilty?
Life had just gotten way more than complicated.
I had absolutely no idea where to start or what to do. To be honest, I wasn’t 100 percent sure that, once started, I wouldn’t finish by grabbing Teddie by the neck and squeezing the life out of him. As it turned out, I needn’t have worried. My cell phone sang out at my hip, saving me from a long future making license plates at the invitation of the great state of Nevada. Actually it was Teddie doing the singing. In a weak, masochistic moment, I’d installed as my ringtone a snippet of a song he’d written not only for me, but about me as well. Yes, that song . . . the one he’d mentioned and I’d avoided. He’d titled it “Lucky for Me.” 
Apparently he loved irony. 
At the first few notes, Teddie’s eyebrows shot up. I hastily reached for the device and silenced it with a stroke of my thumb. I gave him a steely stare, challenging the surprise that widened his eyes. Never wavering, I pressed the phone to my ear. “O’Toole,” I barked.
“How do you make a thousand turkeys disappear?”
“What?” I held the phone in front of me and squinted at the display, trying to bring into focus not only the tiny digits, but life as well. The number belonged to Jerry, the voice belonged to Jerry, but the question came out of left field—even from the Babylon’s head of Security. “Jerry, this really isn’t a good time.”
“Tell me about it.” He chuckled. “I got turkeys down here—the real things. A thousand of them.” Chaos in the background filtered through the connection. “You know anything about them?”
I glanced up at Teddie—turkeys seemed to abound today. And to think, Thanksgiving was still a few days away. 
“Lucky, girl, are you there? We could sure use your help.”
As the Babylon’s chief problem-solver, turkeys like the one standing in my office doorway were my specialty. However, my expertise did not necessarily extend to the feathered variety. 
I put the phone back to my ear. “I’m here, but I’m confused. Where are you? And, just for clarification, what kind of turkeys are we talking about?” 
Jerry replied in a rushed voice, “The basement, Level Two. Your mother . . .”
The light dawned. “Oh God, she didn’t?” 
“She did.” This time he burst out laughing. “Mona, she is some piece of work. Better get that woman down here. And tell her, if she plans on feeding the hungry on Thanksgiving, she’d better bring her double barrel and a shitload of buckshot.”
“Some people are alive solely because it’s illegal to shoot them.”
Jerry laughed. “Your mother . . .”
“. . . is their fearless leader,” I said, finishing his thought. “But, you aren’t seriously considering turning a pregnant woman loose in the basement with a loaded shotgun, are you? Remember what she did to the sheriff?”
“Any other ideas?” Jerry’s voice sobered a bit.
“Fresh out.” I glanced up at Teddie—a frown creased the skin between his eyes as he watched Christophe, who was working intently on his drawing. “And since answers on this end seem to be in short supply, I’m invoking one of my three vice president lifelines and am phoning a friend. That would be you, by the way.”
“But I called you,” Jerry reminded me. 
“A mere technicality that is not enough for a get-out-of-jail-free card. Mother is your problem. I’ll get her down there. You figure out what happens next. If you kill her, just let me know where to send flowers.” I flipped the phone shut, terminating the call before he could guilt me into more. My vintage Versace suit and Loubous were hardly turkey-taming attire. And I didn’t really trust myself around Mona right now, especially with a gun within easy reach. 
Today was Monday . . . in every way.
My eyes met Teddie’s and my heart tightened. Would I ever be over him? Christophe stilled in my lap. 
“It’s okay, sweetie.” I gave the boy another hurried peck on the top of his head. “Ignore the man in the doorway. He’s leaving.” With both hands under Christophe’s arms, I lifted him, slithered out from under him, then deposited him back in the chair. “And so are we.”
The boy wiggled his legs underneath him. Kneeling, he bent back over the picture he had been drawing when we’d been so rudely interrupted. “I’m drawing a picture of you and Papa and my happy-face pancakes.” He gave me a look designed to melt my heart. God help womankind in another ten or twelve years. “See?” He pointed to one figure. “ You have Papa’s shirt on.”
I sighed. Like I said, a Monday in every way. “That’s wonderful, dear. It was fun, wasn’t it?”
“Tomorrow we will make pancakes again?” A demand framed as a question—his father had the same habit.
Allergic to authority, real or implied, I don’t know why it didn’t irritate me. Maybe it was the French accent. Who knew? I smiled and ruffled his hair. “Of course. Now, I’ve got to take you to your father.” I rounded up wayward crayons and stuffed them back in the box. Then I eased the paper from his grasp and carefully tucked it into a drawer. “Let’s finish this later, okay?” Turning, I presented my back. “Climb aboard.”
He jumped in exuberance, his legs encircling my waist. Holding a bit too tightly around my neck, he choked off the air. I loosened his arms and settled him on my hips. “Good?”
He nuzzled in, his mouth next to my ear. “Oui!”
“We’re off, then.” My eyes, full of challenge and probably a bit of hurt, met Teddie’s as I moved to brush by him. I could see in his face the warning had registered. He opened his mouth to speak. I put a hand to the center of his chest to move him out of the doorway—the connection hit me like a sucker punch. I struggled to keep my composure. “Don’t.”
Clamping his mouth shut, Teddie did as I asked and stepped aside.
I let my hand drop. Why had I touched him? I knew every curve and angle of his body by heart. Closing my eyes, I could remember the feel of him, as real and immediate as if we’d never stopped. But we had stopped. Well, he had stopped. Apparently my heart, not to mention other parts, hadn’t gotten the memo. Pulling air into my lungs in a vain hope that some would find its way to my head, I opened my eyes and gave a half-smile to the man who had stolen my heart. Then I eased past him, careful not to touch him again.
My old office, which was adjacent to my new one but lacked the whole construction zone motif, was empty, as was the outer office. The bird still slept under the nighttime cage cover. I’d never been so glad to find my staff absent and my foul-mouthed feathered friend muzzled for the moment. 
Teddie followed me.
“Go away.” I threw the words over my shoulder as I burst through the outer door, then turned and hurried down the hallway toward the stairs.
“Giddy-up!” Christophe shrieked.
Teddy was hard on my heels. “We need to talk.” He reached for my elbow.
His hand fell away as I stopped. Taking a deep breath, I turned. Christophe fisted a hand in my hair. 
“What do you want, Teddie?”
“Is that boy the new French chef’s?”
“His son, yes.”
An emotion, one that didn’t look pleasant, pulled Teddie’s lips into a thin line. “You didn’t waste much time.”
I rolled my eyes. “You know me, never let a warm bed cool.” Turning, I resumed my stalk down the hall. Teddie knew me well enough to know that wasn’t even close to being true. The sad truth was, he probably knew me better than I knew myself, which put me at a distinct disadvantage. 
“Lucky, you shut me out.” Teddie dogged my heels. “Would you stop for a minute?”
“Go away, Teddie. Leave me alone. I don’t want to talk to you.” I tossed the verbal arrows over my shoulder. “I have nothing to say.” Okay, that was a lie—I had a ton to say, but now was not the time, especially with a five-year-old on my back. Besides, I didn’t like to be ambushed.
Apparently my verbal darts had finally penetrated his thick skull. When Teddie spoke again his voice held a quiet, plaintive tone. “I couldn’t stay away.” 
With Teddie I had never known where the act ended and sincerity began. I still didn’t, but I’d built up immunity to the whole show. “Pity.” My phone rang at my hip, but, with both arms full of little boy, and my thoughts gyrating wildly, I had more than I could deal with already, so I ignored it. “Lucky for Me” jangled into the sudden silence. Thank God ringtones were only a few seconds long.
Christophe laid his head on my shoulder, his fingers entwined in my hair. The poor kid had traveled halfway around the world from his grandparents’ farm in Provence, arriving last night, then had been too excited to sleep for long. 
“Especially when your father called.” With pitch-perfect comedic timing, Teddie could deliver a punch line better than Jerry Seinfeld. 
I threw on the brakes mid-stride—Christophe didn’t move. “What?”
Obviously taken by surprise, Teddie skidded to a stop. He stepped in front of me, then, at the look on my face, took a step back. Everyone in my sphere knew, when my eyes got all slitty it usually meant “run.” Foolish man, he stood his ground. He even squared his shoulders. “Your father called.”
“I heard you the first time.” Teddie couldn’t be lying, could he? That would be way too stupid, even for him. “Why did he call you?” I left the last word hanging, poised, like a wrecking ball beginning its arc. 
“He offered me my old job back.”
“Really?” I tried not to let him see the effect of that low blow. Betrayed by my own father and blindsided by Teddie—could life get any better today? My father was the owner of the Babylon and, as such, complicated my life immeasurably, but usually not quite this boldly. I chewed on the inside of my cheek. “And?”
“We’re working out the terms, but I think we have a deal. He made his offer contingent on your approval.”
“So that’s really why you’re here, to get my blessing.” 
Careful not to upset the resting boy, I stepped around Teddie and strode to the elevators. I angrily poked the down button, even though I knew the speed with which the elevator would appear bore an inverse relationship to the fervor with which I punched. Teddie’s perfect reflection eased in beside my rather ordinary one. Light brown hair, blue eyes, high cheekbones, angry scowl, a hint of hurt under a layer of homicide—not my best look. 
“That’s not why I’m here.” Teddie’s voice held a softer tone, inviting, cajoling. 
Reeking of self-serving insincerity, his plea was too little, too late. I cocked a disbelieving eyebrow at his reflection.
He shrugged, apparently deciding that truth might be the salve to soothe the wound—he was wrong. “Okay, it’s part of the reason I’m here. But you are the main reason.”
“I can’t tell you how happy that makes me.” Sarcasm dripped from every word. “So, being a rock star wasn’t enough? Now you have to come back here to mess with my magic?” 
His voice dropped. “I love you.”
“Low blow.” Thankfully, the elevator doors eased open. I stepped inside, then turned and put a hand out, stopping him from following me. Unwilling to be singed again, I pulled my hand back before it made contact. 
“Not now, Teddie. Maybe not ever.”
Maybe? Where the hell had that come from?
The doors slid shut, saving me from further humiliation as tears welled in my eyes. 
“Damn!” I shouted, the word echoing in the empty elevator. Christophe’s head popped up and his body jerked in surprise. “Sorry, honey.”
 “I don’t like that man. He made you mad.”
I took a deep breath and calmed myself down as I dabbed at the corners of my eyes with the knuckle of my forefinger and sniffed back further emotion. “He’s a nice man and he didn’t make me angry. I had expectations he didn’t live up to—my fault, not his.” Saying the words was easy, believing them, not so much. 
The boy’s quizzical look reflected back to me in the polished metal doors. His face peering at me over my shoulder reminded me of an angel whispering in my ear. Stranded in the quicksand of my own confusion and ambivalence, I wished he had words of wisdom, but he was just a boy.
“Maybe he is like a puppy who has been scolded—he bites even though he is the one who has been bad.”
 Wow. That stopped me for a moment. My experience with children had been limited, but I guessed that whole out-of-the-mouths-of-babes thing had some truth to it. “You’re probably right.” I hitched him higher on my hips. “Teddie can be quite charming. You’ll like him . . . everybody does.”
“But you don’t?”
“I like him, but with us, it’s a bit more complicated.” I rolled my eyes at myself. Relationships. I totally sucked at them. Pasting on a smile, I contemplated who to kill first—my father, Teddie, Mona—I wasn’t sure the order mattered. Of course, I could line them up and rid myself of the lot of them all at once—a Thanksgiving Day Massacre. Tempting. 
“Ms. O’Toole,” a disembodied voice asked—the eye-in-the-sky, our omnipresent security system, “Mr. Jerry asked me to find you. He said you weren’t answering your phone.”
“One can run but one can’t hide?” I asked the voice.
“No, ma’am, I’m afraid you’re screwed,” the voice said, then paused awkwardly. “That probably isn’t how I’m supposed to talk to a vice president, is it?”
“Well, since this vice president just yelled a not-so-nice word to an empty elevator in the presence of a youngster, I’d say you were well within propriety.” The elevator stopped and the doors eased open. A middle-aged couple stood there, waiting to enter. 
I stayed where I was. “Now, did you want something?”
At first the couple looked taken aback, as if I were talking to them. Then they leaned forward slightly and glanced around the empty elevator. 
“Yes,” came the voice. “Mr. Jerry is apoplectic. He said to tell you that your mother is not answering her phone.”
Stepping to the side and holding the door, I motioned the couple inside. At first they hesitated, but then they moved past, eyeing me as they did so. “What floor?” I asked them.
“Twelve,” the lady responded.
I punched the appropriate button, then answered the voice. “Tell him I’ll be on my way after I make a quick stop in the Bazaar, and I’ll bring Mona if I have to shoot her with a tranquilizer dart and throw her over my shoulder.”
“Yes, ma’am.”
Letting loose the doors, I stepped out. As the elevator closed, I overheard the man say, “A tranquilizer dart. I wonder if she would do the same to Irene?”
<#>
            I paused for a moment staring at myself in the elevator doors, gathering my wits, or what was left of them. Irene? The man’s comment to his female companion certainly triggered an interesting visual. 
Vegas, where two is a date and three is . . . an even better date. 
Carefully, I shifted the boy on my back. Once again Christophe’s head had sagged onto my shoulder, his eyes fluttering, then remaining shut. The ability to sleep anywhere—if only I could bottle some of that.
Thanksgiving was three days away—an eternity in my world. The holidays were supposed to bring families together, to let bygones be bygones, giving us a chance to relax in the presence of folks who—short of homicide—couldn’t get rid of us. 
I wasn’t feeling the magic.
Apparently I was the lone lump of coal floating in a sea of the milk of human kindness—or I was the only sober one in a sea of well-oiled humanity. Excited voices swirled around me as I turned and strode through the lobby. As they waited for the next check-in clerk, travelers in their Bermuda shorts, sundresses, sandals, and goose bumps rubbed their bare arms, some cuddled against the chill. Most swilled the free champagne passed by cocktail waitresses in their barely there togas with gold braid belts, strappy Gladiator footwear with five-inch heels, pearly smiles, and other Vegas assets properly displayed.
Vegas’s location in the middle of the Mojave Desert fooled most folks into thinking summer was a year-round season. Not true. Winter could be windy and chilly. Today was a perfect example—a cool breeze wafted in each time someone pushed through one of the multiple sets of double-glass doors forming the Babylon’s grand entry, letting in a taste of the out-of-doors. To be honest, I welcomed the change in the weather—while my life kept me teetering on the brink of insanity, twelve months of hundred-degree days would shove me right over. 
For a moment I let myself absorb some of the crowd’s energy and enthusiasm. Glancing at the ceiling, I smiled at the Chihuly blown-glass hummingbirds and butterflies arcing in flight. A dozen skiers bombed down the indoor ski slope sheltered behind a wall of Lucite on the far side of the lobby. Multicolored cloth tented above reception. Equally colorful mosaics decorated the white marble walls and floors hinting at the Babylon’s Persian motif. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a problem to solve—everything hummed with precision. Darn.
Guess I had to deal with Mona and her turkeys.
Then a dead woman and a smoking gun, which sounded like the perfect recipe for a migraine. 
I eased Christophe to one hip as he slumbered, freeing a hand. With a practiced motion, I grabbed my phone from its holster and flipped it open. My thumb found Mona’s button. After the fifth ring, I started to ring off when she answered, her voice breathless.
“Lucky, honey. This isn’t a good time. Your father and I . . .”
“TMI, Mother.” I stifled a shiver of revulsion. No matter how old I got, how worldly I became, there was just something so . . . disturbing about picturing my parents inter-coitus. “And, come to think about it,” I grimaced at the unintentional pun as I once again shifted the boy who clung to my back like a monkey, “are you supposed to be having S-E-X in your condition?” 
“S-E-X? Why are you spelling? And what are you talking about? We’re hanging pictures.” She stifled a giggle.
“Right.” I shifted the phone to my other ear, holding it with my shoulder, then put a hand on my hip, nearly taking out a cute Marine as he dodged around me.
“Sorry, ma’am,” he said as he shot me a grin.
Even though the “ma’am” thing rankled, I allowed myself a moment to admire his ass as he hurried on. “Mother, Jerry needs you downstairs. Basement Level Two.”
“Honey,” her voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper, “can’t it wait?”
I tried to picture Jerry, his well-armed staff, and a thousand turkeys. “No, I don’t think so. Jerry needs your help with the turkeys you ordered.”
Mona’s voice turned brusque. “Oh, well, I already had the staff clear enough room in several of the walk-ins. I don’t see what he needs me for.”
“I think he wants to blindfold you and stand you against a wall.” I started laughing; I couldn’t help it. “Seriously, Mother. I know your heart’s in the right place. But couldn’t you at least have ordered the turkeys already dressed?”
“But Chef Omer said he would make the dressing.”
The sea of humanity in the lobby flowed around me as I let my head drop forward. My emotions, ragged and somewhat irrational, burbled up. I didn’t fight them. Instead, I relinquished myself and laughed until I cried. It was the only non-self-destructive antidote to Mona and a day that, with Teddie’s sudden reappearance and Romeo’s little bombshell, had taken a hard turn toward abysmal. And to think, it had started so well. Warmth suffused me as I pictured my chef in his shorts and a smile. “Mother,” I managed to squeeze the words out with what little air was left in my lungs. “‘Dressed’ means plucked, gutted, and ready to stuff.”
There was a pause on the other end of the line, which gave me time to compose myself somewhat. I wiped my tears on the shoulder of my blouse—I never did like the color of this one anyway—then I bit my lip as I fought down another burble of laughter. 
“You mean they’re . . . alive?” Not the sharpest knife in the drawer, Mona apparently still had a bit of an edge.
“Mmmmm.” That was the only sound I trusted myself to make.
“Oh, my!”
I took a deep breath. “Mother, at your behest, the press is coming tomorrow. And you’ve given the go-ahead to Crazy Carl to invite all of his fellow storm drain dwellers for the big feast on Thursday. The staff is ready to go, but I feel pretty sure they’ll mutiny if you expect them to behead, gut, and pluck a thousand turkeys.”
“But what should I do?” Her voice sounded small, imploring . . . like a child’s.
Wise to her game, I refused to play. “You need to get down there ASAP. After that, I haven’t a clue. You wanted to campaign for an appointment to the Paradise Town Council. You wanted to ‘change the world one homeless person at a time,’ which I believe were your exact words. You wanted to run this show. Well, run it.”
“Lucky, you’re not being very helpful,” she harrumphed.
“I know.” As I terminated the call, I couldn’t wipe the gloat off my face. 



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Deborah Coonts Lucky Catch Blog Tour Stops

8/24/2014            The Literate Kitty Blog
8/25/2014            A_TiffyFit's Reading Corner
8/25/2014            Deanna's Tidbits
8/26/2014            The Book Bag
8/27/2014            Lesa's Book Critiques
8/27/2014            Patti's Pen and Picks
8/28/2014            Literary Nymphs
8/28/2014            Fallen Angel Reviews
8/29/2014            You Gotta Read Reviews
8/29/2014            Authors & Readers Book Corner
8/31/2014            Sizzling Hot Books
9/1/2014              An Avid Readers Haven
9/2/2014              Chick Lit Plus
9/3/2014              Stacy Alesi's BookBitch
9/4/2014              Wicked Lil Pixie
9/5/2014              Socrates' Book Reviews
9/9/2014              Ramblings of a Daydreamer
9/11/2014            Lisa's World of Books
9/18/2014            Bookfan

9/19/2014            Bless Their Hearts Mom