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:
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:
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.
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.