Hello all and welcome back to the Midweek Tease. Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for making this weekly romp possible. Well, after hearing about it for many weeks now, today I bring you the first five pages of my new book, a psychological romantic thriller called No Good Deed. In honor of Canada’s 150th birthday, I set the novel primarily in Quebec.
Here’s the blurb–apologies to those looking for spice. I don’t rock that way. Maybe in the next one.
Psychological chills and thrills are woven around a heartwarming love story in this action-packed romantic suspense novel.
Escaping from her abusive fiancé, Alexa O’Brien pulls into a gas station only to walk in on an execution. She’s in protective custody until she can identify Nicoli Zabat, Montreal’s mob boss, at his trial. But her safe house has been compromised, setting in motion a dangerous cat-and-mouse game.
Lieutenant Mike Delorme on the Sûreté Du Québec has spent the last eighteen months undercover in narcotics to take down Zabat, the man he blames for the death of his wife and unborn child. He doesn’t have the interest or patience to babysit a woman whose memory isn’t clear—but he’ll carry out his assignment to show the brass he’s a team player.
As Mike and Alexa dodge danger, it appears she’s in deeper than merely being in the wrong place at the wrong time. When the mafia hit she witnessed is revealed to be just the tip of an international terrorist’s plot, they must rely on each other to survive—but only if they can learn to trust their instincts and let love map out their next move.
Sensuality Level: Behind Closed Doors
Here’s your teaser:
Alexa O’Brien white-knuckled the steering wheel, her foot barely touching the accelerator as she followed the taillights of the pickup truck ahead of her. She didn’t dare stay any farther back. If she did, she wouldn’t see the guiding lights at all and would end up in the ditch. Of course, if the truck went off the road, she would be up Shit Creek without a paddle.
She snorted, fluttering her lips. “Damn you, Mother Nature. You’re supposed to be on my side.”
The tires on the old wreck she’d bought were almost as bald as her stepfather had been. What a lecture he would give her if he could see her now. Another man who’d claimed he knew what was best for her. In this case, he was probably right, but he’d been wrong too many times to count. It was her life—her mistakes to make—and while some of them had been doozies, she’d taken control once more.
Pray God she didn’t have to brake suddenly.
She’d planned her escape so carefully, timed it to coincide with Richard’s trip to Africa, and now this. Where the hell had a foot of snow come from? It was the middle of April. Even in Canada, that meant spring.
The distance between her car and the vehicle ahead shortened. Alexa eased up on the accelerator. What was she doing? Twenty miles per hour? Maybe twenty-five?
The lights ahead turned a deeper red. She was coming up on the truck too fast.
She moved her foot from the gas pedal to the brake, pumping the pedal twice, but it didn’t help. She screeched. Like Bambi on ice, the car swerved, spun around twice, and then skidded to the right. Time stood still—the car didn’t.
Think, Alexa, think. What did you learn in that damn defensive driving course?
Heart pounding, stomach roiling, she took her foot off the brake and slowly turned the steering wheel until the tires of the car pointed into the skid, praying the damn things would grip.
Donuts in a parking lot were one thing, but they weren’t quite so much fun at night, on an unfamiliar road, during a frigging snowstorm.
She trembled, holding the steering wheel so tightly she was sure her fingerprints were embedded in the plastic. All she could see were the trees coming at her, but ever so slightly, the car slowed, straightened to face the direction she wanted it to, and stopped less than three feet from the pickup’s tailgate.
Her heart thundered in her ears, and she exhaled heavily. While she wasn’t directly behind the small truck, she was back on the road, no worse for the wear, even if she did feel like a cat who’d just lost another life. Shaking so badly that she had trouble shifting the car into park, she rested her forehead against the steering wheel, waiting for her heart to slow.
Someone tapped on her window, and she jumped.
Who the hell would be walking on the road in this weather?
A second tap, harder and more urgent than before, gave her no choice. Scraping away the frost on the inside of the window, she was blinded by the sudden brief flash of light in her face. Bile rose in her throat, and her heart resumed its frantic pace. Hand trembling, she rolled down the window.
“Excusez-moi, mais le 30 est fermé. Tu dois rester sur the 20.”
“I … I don’t speak French,” Alexa stammered to the police officer.
“There has been an accident,” the woman said, her th sounding like d. “This highway, it’s closed. Turn right at my car, and follow the 20 through Dorion. There’s a motel along that road. Not a good night to drive.”
“Thank you. I’m ready to call it a night.” Alexa rolled up the window once more, taking two deep breaths to calm herself before putting the car in gear and slowly inching along behind the truck.
Why had she thought it would be Richard? She’d made a clean getaway this time. It would be days yet before he realized she’d flown the coop.
After what felt like hours, her right shoulder stiffer than usual, her muscles cramped, and her head pounding, Alexa spotted the neon sign for Les trois érables and turned into the motel’s crowded parking lot. What would she do if the place was booked? Staying in the car wasn’t an option. People died that way, and while she wanted to escape from Richard and the hell that was her life, dying to do so wasn’t part of the plan.
Grabbing her backpack off the seat, Alexa trudged through the snow to the office. She should’ve picked up a pair of boots when she’d bought the winter jacket. Her feet were soaked. God alone knew how long it would take to dry her shoes.
She shuddered. Les trois érables was the kind of place they could’ve used to film Psycho. If there was an Anthony Perkins or Vince Vaughn lookalike in there manning the welcome desk, she would have to rethink her options, but only a fool would try to find an alternate route in a province where all the road signs were in a language she didn’t understand and the visibility was zero. She might be a lot of things, but she was no fool.
The bell at the top of the door chimed when Alexa stepped inside the small smoke-filled room. The woman sitting in front of the television set heaved her bulk out of the chair and lumbered up to the desk.
Alexa exhaled and pasted a smile on her face. It looked like she would be spending the night here after all.
“Tu veux une chambre?” the woman asked, her voice raspy from too many cigarettes.
Alexa coughed. “I don’t speak French. Do you have an empty room?”
“Eighty dollars, up front.”
“Eighty bucks?” Alexa repeated, her voice going up at least one octave.
The woman nodded. “Take it or leave it.”
Beggars couldn’t be choosers. Alexa reached for her wallet and laid the four twenties on the counter. The woman picked them up, shoved them in her bra, reached for a key hanging on a pegboard, and handed it to her.
“Number eleven, on the left. When you’re ready to leave, drop your key in that box.” She indicated a plastic bin labeled clefs. Flipping the old-style registration book around on the desk, she handed Alexa a pen. “Checkout is noon. Name, address, and license number.”
There was no way she could leave here at noon. That meant driving during the day. Besides, the way it was coming down out there, she probably wouldn’t be able to leave even if she wanted to. Reluctantly, she handed the woman another eighty dollars from her meager stash of cash. It vanished the same way as the first, and the woman hung a red plastic two on the pegboard where the key had been.
Alexa filled in the line, giving her mother’s maiden name as she had when she’d purchased and registered the vehicle, using her driver’s license and insurance. Sometimes, it paid to look older than you were.
After thanking the woman who’d grunted and returned to her chair, Alexa went out to find her room. Number eleven was the second-to-last room at the end of the building’s left wing. Unlocking the door, she flipped on the light and gagged. The room reeked, a combination of wet dog, mildew, ammonia, and years of tobacco smoke.
“God. This is … disgusting.” She raised her hand to cover her mouth.
The dirty, worn couch was threadbare, the sagging bed probably hosted all kinds of critters, and the tables sported water rings and butt burns.
She dropped her backpack near the door and turned to lock it, putting on the night chain. Since the brass links didn’t appear particularly strong, she pulled a filthy, stuffed chair in front of the door, removed her wet shoes, and headed for the bathroom.
In spite of her desperate need, Alexa took the time to toilet-paper the seat before using it.
“What a dump.”
Two years ago, she would’ve grabbed her bag and run as fast as her legs could carry her, but tonight, as dirty and unattractive as it was, it would do.
Rolling her eyes, she looked up at the ceiling. “Good thing you aren’t here, Mom. You wouldn’t last five minutes in this place.”
All of the bathroom fixtures were several decades old, and God alone knew the last time they’d been cleaned. Were those hairs in the bathtub? A closer examination suggested they might just be cracks in the porcelain. How did this place survive a health inspection?
“Eighty bucks for a night here? It should come with a tetanus shot.”
After changing her socks and propping her shoes up to dry, she used the entire purse-sized can of disinfecting spray on the bed before lying down, fully clothed. It was almost midnight, and the emotional toil of tonight’s drive through hell had exhausted her.
Instead of the sleep she craved, she tossed and turned, counting every lump in the flea-bitten mattress until she couldn’t stand it a moment longer. It was just after five when she gave up and rose. She rubbed the bridge of her nose. It was much easier to plan an escape than to execute one. Too many things could go wrong once you took that first step. This was her third shot at freedom. Either she would be three times lucky—which was what she hoped for—or she would strike out again. But she would never quit trying. She leaned back in the wooden chair, searching for an English channel on the television. It was going to be a long day.
No Good Deed releases on July 31st. It’s available for pre-order from:
Simon and Schuster: http://www.simonandschuster.ca/books/No-Good-Deed/Susanne-Matthews/9781507205631
Now, please visit the rest of this week’s teasers.