Welcome to this week’s edition of the Midweek Tease. This has been the early morning from hell! It took over two hours for Windows 10 to upload its updates, that will supposedly keep me safer online. Whatever!
My thanks again to Angelica Dawson and all the other fine writers who make this blog hop possible each week. They never cease to amaze me.
This morning, I would like to tease from one of my newest works. Some of you may remember I posted the opening scene a couple of months ago. Well, it’s finished and has been submitted to Kindle Scout. This is where I need your help. Sworn to Protect needs your nominations to earn a contract. If it gets one, everyone who nominates it gets a free digital copy as a thank you from Amazon for helping with reader assisted publishing.
Here is the link to my campaign where you can read the first chapter and a half of the story. https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/2SRDO9I5ANVW7
When Neil Copeland discovers his wife is the victim of a terrorist attack, he rushes to her side, determined not to let her down again. Evidence suggests the attack was actually a hit, and when a professional assassin tries to kill Nancy a second time, it’s clear whatever’s going on is more complicated than they think. When Nancy awakes with amnesia, trapped 6 years in the past, Neil must protect her from an unknown assassin and convince her that what they had once is worth having again.
Below is your tease which comes from Chapter 3:
“From your email last night, I gather you have enough to scare him into settling this our way,” Larry said taking a mouthful of designer water, his hand trembling slightly. “I’d love to go after him for everything we could get, but it isn’t in the cards. Melissa doesn’t want to cause trouble. We’ll ask for four thousand a month, with him covering the mortgage payments on the house, and leave it at that.”
“I don’t think that’ll be a problem.” She turned to look directly at Jackson. “What do you know about Claymore Investments? They’re based in Trenton, New Jersey, but they have an office here in Baltimore.”
The lawyer puckered his brow, the gesture making him look more haggard, and shook his head. “Nothing. I’ve never heard of them.”
“When I looked through Paxton Construction’s books, I found he’d invested heavily with them. In a quick online search, everything looks fine, but dig deeper and things get convoluted. There are two primary owners, both numbered companies with off-shore accounts. Paxton’s been doing a lot of business with them these last few years, more than you’d expect given the economy.” She turned to Melissa. “That company holds the mortgage on your house.”
“That’s impossible,” she stammered. “Our mortgage is with the bank. I signed the papers last year.”
“Then it’s got to be a second mortgage.” Nancy scowled. “To paraphrase Shakespeare, something’s rotten in Baltimore.”
“Will Ethan be able to give me enough to cover the bills?” Melissa asked. “I can’t lose anything else. This is hard enough on the girls as it is.”
“He should be able to, but there’s something you need to know. Your husband signed over control of the company three years ago.”
The tired woman frowned. “Why would Ethan do that? This company has been in his family for three generations.”
“There are a number of possible reasons. It could be used as collateral for loans, or it might be a way to hide his assets and make them untouchable. I couldn’t find what C.E.C. stood for anywhere, although I know I’ve seen those initials before, so that’s the first thing I’m going to ask him about. The other is the more than two million dollars that he put into Claymore Investments. I can’t get into Claymore’s subsidiary accounts in the Grand Cayman Islands, but I believe your husband has more than enough to give you what you need.”
“Two million dollars?” the woman’s voice betrayed her shock and dismay. “Where on Earth would he get that kind of money?”
“I don’t know. Frankly, I don’t see the business raking in that much profit, but he did do really well before the bottom fell out of the housing market. If it isn’t his money, then he’s hiding it for someone else, and he definitely won’t want me to go there. Since all you want is four grand a month and the mortgage paid, I think he’ll gladly settle.” She took a mouthful of wine, pleased with its crisp, clear flavor. “Do those initials, C.E.C., mean anything to you?”
Melissa frowned, but before she could answer, a loud noise erupted at the entrance of the restaurant. She gasped, and Nancy turned around to see four masked men armed with semi-automatic rifles. Her breath caught in her throat, her pulse hammered.
“Don’t move.” The voice came from the doorway. Nancy’s gaze fell on the young man she’d noticed earlier who looked as stunned as everyone else.
Chairs scraped along the tile floor announcing diners doing exactly the opposite of what they’d been told. Many dove under the tables. Nancy watched the hostess flee down the hall toward the bathroom, her phone pressed to her ear. One of the gunmen followed her.
One man stood apart from the other two in the doorway and laughed as he watched terrified people scramble for cover.
“I. Said. Don’t. Move.” He enunciated each word and fired a round into the ceiling. “You didn’t listen. You lose.” Gunfire erupted from the hallway causing many of the diners to cry out.
Numb with terror, Nancy watched two of the masked men lift their weapons and open fire on the diners. She couldn’t move, couldn’t look away, transfixed by the horror. Anguished screams and sobs filled the air as the men moved through the crowd, firing here and there. Like angels of death, they selected their victims, choosing who would live and who would die. They laughed at the men trying to protect their women and children. A fourth man, his weapon pointed at the floor, collected the wallets of those they’d killed, and tossed them in a garbage bag.
Trophies? Souvenirs? If this was a robbery, why not just ask for what they wanted? They were masked. None of the diners could identify them. But even as she thought that, she realized there were distinguishing features people might remember. The man in charge spoke with a Hispanic accent and had a strange tattoo on the side of his neck. Barbed wire? The second shooter was short and husky, with a slight limp, while the one who’d gone after the hostess had the rounded shoulders of someone who worked hunched over much of the time. The man collecting the identifications reminded her of a rooster as he strutted from table to table, collecting his bloody tribute.
The young man in the flat cap she’d noticed earlier pulled out a gun and shot at the killers, hitting the second shooter, but before he could get off another round, the assassin who’d followed the hostess returned, firing his semi-automatic weapon as he walked, shattering the window and sending the would-be hero’s body flying through it.
“Finish it now,” rooster man cried, reaching for his injured friend.
He was definitely American and from this region.
“We have to move.” The man who’d shot the boy spoke with an accent, maybe Eastern European? “I took care of the staff, but the hostess was on the phone. The cops are probably on their way.”
Nancy filed away each detail, knowing she needed to be able to recall as much as possible—if she survived. So far, it looked as if the dead were men.
The leader looked down at something in his left hand, looked around the restaurant, and moved toward their table.
“What’s the meaning of this?” Larry asked, standing and trying to shield her and Melissa.
“Nothing personal, senor,” the man answered. His deep brown eyes glanced at Nancy, dismissed her with a shake of his head, and focused on Melissa. He lifted the weapon and fired.
Larry fell backwards, Melissa’s face disappeared, and in seconds, the white tablecloth was red.
The gunman turned to her. “Sorry, chica, but you might know something, too.”
Spinning away from her killer, Nancy jerked against her chair as blinding pain tore through her and everything faded to black.
Please consider adding your support to my campaign and feel free to share with everyone you know. The more nominations I get, the better the chances are of earning a contract! Nominate here:
Now, please check out the rest of this week’s teasers.