So I wrote not one but TWO mafia romance novellas. Before you go any further, if you haven’t read TRAPPED BY THE MOB, you really should. It’s an awesome book and the excerpt you’re about to read below will make hella more sense once you’ve finished the first book in the Detroit Mafia series.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you…
Anyway, FREED FROM THE MOB released on March 28, 2019. Spoiler alert for book one: Antonio, Phoebe, and Margot and her daughter, Nina, are all safe and have gone into hiding from Margot’s mafia boss ex-husband.
They think they’re safe.
But is anyone really, truly safe from the mob? Guess you gotta read FREED FROM THE MOB to find out!
In case you need incentive, here’s an excerpt…
HE’S JUST A COP
Margot half-filled two glasses with red wine and handed one to Antonio. “He’s a cop.”
“A detective,” Antonio corrected, accepting the drink and lifting it to his lips. “Who was definitely giving you the eye.” He waggled his brows.
“The eye? What in the world does that mean?”
Antonio motioned with the glass. “You know. The ‘I’m interested’ look. Or have you really been out of the dating game for so long you’ve forgotten what it’s like when a guy expresses interest in you?”
She took a gulp of wine. “Well, since I was married to your brother, I think you know the answer to that one. I’ve been on one date since I divorced Gino four years ago, and we all know how that ended.”
He nodded. “Here in Nowhere, New Hampshire.”
Actually, the town was named Sleepyville.
There were less than five thousand residents in this town, and most were friendly but not nosy. Two years ago, she, Nina, Antonio, and Phoebe fled Detroit in the middle of the night to escape the mob, and found this perfect house with plenty of room for all of them and a top-notch elementary school two blocks away. Antonio and Phoebe had a quiet wedding ceremony on the beach, and Margot joined the PTA and started volunteering at a nursing home two days a week. Phoebe recently began her tenure as president of the Sleepyville Gardening Club. Antonio continued to hold Gino’s money hostage and scoured the internet for information regarding his brother’s illegal empire.
So far, all had remained quiet since they walked away from Gino Sarvilli’s world.
“I love my life,” Margot said. “I don’t want to disrupt it.”
“By considering dating again? Gino’s in prison, Margot. And I’ve got his money under lock and key. He can’t get to it, which means he can’t get to us. So you’re free to finally have a life.”
“Maybe you’re right. But not with a cop. Sorry, detective. Which is even worse. Think about Proctor.”
“I’d really rather not.” Antonio wrinkled his nose and frowned. The detective from Detroit had been relentless in his pursuit of Margot’s ex-husband. He’d also been an ass to Margot and obnoxiously rude to Antonio, and probably everyone else in his life. He definitely wouldn’t win any personality contests.
Not like Detective RJ Karney. He’d been polite and a little bit awkward. Not to mention breathtakingly handsome.
“But he’s still a cop.”
“Sure. I mean, I assume he is. He closed the biggest case of his career two years ago. Why quit the force at that point?” Antonio mused.
“Not Proctor, silly. I’m talking about RJ. He’s a cop, which means it’s a bad idea for me to even think about his gorgeous blue eyes and all those muscles and that charming personality.”
“Sounds like you’ve already done a lot of thinking about him in the”—he glanced at his watch—“five hours since he left the house.”
She wrapped one arm around her stomach and wandered over to the window overlooking the backyard. The deck was surrounded by flowers, courtesy of Phoebe’s green thumb. They lined the driveway, too, and overflowed the planters attached to the wooden fence. A swing set and a trampoline were set up in the middle of the riot of sunny colors.
“This place is starting to feel like home,” she said. “I don’t want to take the chance of screwing this up.”
“Screwing what up?”
Margot glanced over her shoulder as Phoebe stepped into the room. Her hair was wet; she’d just taken a shower after playing outside in the dirt all day. She hugged Antonio from behind and dropped a kiss on his neck before pouring herself a glass of wine at the counter.
“Our life,” Margot murmured.
Phoebe shot a swift glance at Antonio. “Did Gino figure out how to get to his money?”
He shook his head. “Nope. All’s well on that front. But Margot met a guy earlier, and now she’s all stressed out about the idea that he might be interested in her.”
“You met a guy?” Phoebe asked. “That’s great. Isn’t it?”
“It would be, if he weren’t a police officer,” Margot replied. “What if he gets nosy and starts digging into our past? We’ve all had this last name for only two years. A detective can find that stuff out.”
“Why would he?” Antonio asked. “He has no reason to connect us to something that happened in another state two years ago. Margot, Nina, and Antonio Sarvilli, plus Phoebe Cavanaugh all disappeared off the face of the planet. They don’t exist anymore. And there’s no connection between them and us.” He dropped a hand onto Margot’s shoulder and gave it a squeeze. “Quit worrying, Margot, and start enjoying yourself.”
The next afternoon, Margot headed up to the school to walk Nina home. As she passed a gray Challenger waiting in the pickup lane, the window rolled down and a masculine voice said, “Hey there, Margot.”
She bent slightly to get a better view of the person…RJ sitting in the driver’s seat. His dark hair was disheveled, as if he’d been running his fingers through it, but his pale blue eyes and smile were warm and friendly.
Maybe a little more than friendly.
“Er, hello, RJ.”
He climbed out of the car and ambled over. She hadn’t realized yesterday just how large the man was. He was as broad shouldered as Antonio, maybe even a little more so. Did he have a flat stomach under that polo shirt? Six-pack abs? That positively delectable V-shaped muscle over his hips?
Why the heck was she even wondering? Okay, yes, she was lonely, and yes, he was attractive, but he was also a cop, and despite Antonio’s reassurance last night, she wasn’t convinced the idea of dating someone in law enforcement was a good one.
“I’m guessing our daughters didn’t get into trouble today,” he said. He shoved his hands into the front pockets of his jeans and leaned against the car.
“That’s good. Nina’s usually a good girl. I’m not sure what provoked the pad flushing incident.”
RJ shrugged. “Curiosity, probably. And to be honest, my kid’s not a great influence. You probably don’t want yours hanging out with her.”
Margot stared at him. Was he serious? Did he really—?
“I’m kidding.” He lifted his hands, palms out, like he was surrendering.
“Oh. Right.” She ran her fingers through her hair. “Sorry. I mean, they are only eight, right? They’re going to get into trouble sooner or later.”
“Yeah, our job as parents is to do our best to show them the right path and hope to hell they’re absorbing what we’re teaching them.”
The bell rang and, as if someone opened a dam, kids poured out of the building and raced every which way. Nina and Hillary came running toward them, hand in hand.
Nina wrapped her arms around Margot’s waist; Hillary gave her dad a high five.
“Ready to go, kiddo?” RJ asked.
“Can Nina come over and play for a little while? Please?”
“Yeah, can I, Mom? Can I? Please?”
“Er…” This was the first time Nina had asked to go to another child’s house since they moved to Sleepyville. He’s a cop, Margot. He isn’t going to hurt her. He isn’t going to kidnap her. He isn’t going to…
She cleared her throat. “Sure. Um, that’s fine.”
“It’s only because they want to ride in the back of a cop car,” RJ said. “I live in an apartment, so I’m sure your house is way more fun.”
“We’ll come to my house tomorrow,” Nina piped up.
“Oh,” Margot said. “Okay.”
“I’ll feed them dinner and bring her home around seven,” RJ said. “Does that work?”
She nodded. He ushered the girls into the back seat of his gray car. “All right, I’ll see you later.”
Margot nodded. Did he sound hopeful?
“Wait,” she blurted.
He paused in the act of opening the driver’s side door.
“Are you…are you married?” Why was she asking? He wasn’t wearing a ring, but that didn’t necessarily mean anything. And what did it matter?
He smiled. “Nope. Divorced for five years now.”
And then he hopped into the car and took off.
Margot walked home in a daze. As much as this new, warm fuzzy feeling in her chest felt, well, good, she was equally afraid of it. The first time she was attracted to a man since Gino and he was a cop. Oh, the irony.
Oh, the frustration.
“Where’s Nina?” Antonio asked when she stepped through the front door. He stood in the arched entryway to the dining room, holding a bag of chips in one hand and a glass of water in the other.
“She, uh, went to a friend’s house. She’ll be home after dinner.”
“That’s great. I was getting a little worried given how long it seemed to be taking her to make friends here.”
“It’s RJ’s daughter. That detective.”
“Even better. Maybe you can both make a new friend.” He winked. “And by friend, I mean—”
“I know what you mean, and it isn’t happening.” No matter how many flips her belly did when she confirmed that he was a bachelor. A handsome and friendly bachelor, who, like Antonio said last night, had definitely been giving her the eye.
“Hey, take my word for it: the good ones make great marriage material.” He winked again and wandered into his office.
Later that evening, RJ dropped off Nina as Margot hovered at the base of the stairs, wringing her hands. God, why was she so damn nervous?
“Did you have a good time, kiddo?” Antonio asked.
Nina nodded vigorously. “RJ let me pick hard shell or soft shell tacos,” she announced. “He didn’t make me eat whatever you choose to make.”
“It’s time for your bath,” Margot said.
“I’ll get her started,” Antonio said far too cheerfully, and before she could protest, he herded her little girl up the stairs.
RJ watched them until they disappeared at the top. “This feels a little like a set up.”
Margot started to run her hand through her hair but stopped when she realized she’d pulled it back into a bun. Ugh. Hopefully, she hadn’t tugged out the strands so that they were standing up every which way. “Um, he’s, um…”
“He just wants Margot to be happy,” Phoebe said, striding into the room with her arm outstretched. “I’m Phoebe. It’s nice to meet you.”
He shook her hand. “RJ Karney. Nice to meet you, too. I take it you’re Antonio’s wife?”
Phoebe nodded and grinned. “Yep. Almost two years now.”
“So does that make you two…?” RJ waved his finger between them.
“Sisters,” Margot blurted.
Phoebe furrowed her brow and Margot plastered a wide, fake smile on her face.
“Yep, we’re sisters.”
“Um, on that note, I’m going to head on upstairs,” Phoebe said, and she beat a hasty retreat, once again leaving Margot alone with RJ.
He pointed at the door. “Can we go outside and talk?”
Oh God. “Um, I guess.” She reluctantly followed him out onto the front porch.
“I’m getting some pretty weird vibes here. Like this strange combination of interest and fear,” he started. “Is there something you want to tell me?”
“Wow, you can seriously tell that?”
He shrugged. “I’ve been in law enforcement for fifteen years. Lots of training associated with reading people. So, you want to tell me what’s going on?”
Not really. “Um…”
“Because I’m interested in you, too, Margot. But it feels like you’re afraid of something. Is it because I’m a cop?”
Actually, yes. “No, it’s just…It’s not you, it’s me.”
Hu chuckled. “Don’t usually get that until I’ve been dating a girl for a while. Certainly not before I’ve even asked her out on the first date.”
Margot wiped her suddenly sweaty palms on her shorts. She needed to scare him off. But how?
Wait. Tell him the truth. Not all of it, of course, but there were certainly plenty of tidbits to choose from that wouldn’t lead him to the biggest and scariest truth of them all: that she had once been married to the mob. She just needed something to convince him that asking her out was a bad idea.
Especially since she was afraid she might say yes if he did.
She cleared her throat. “Nina was kidnapped two years ago. It was a very harrowing experience, as you can well imagine.”
“Holy shit,” RJ said, his eyes widening. “I’m glad you got her back safe and sound.”
“Me too.” She toyed with her necklace. “So I have lots of trust issues.”
“Not surprising. I take it the cops didn’t handle the case the way you wanted them to?”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because your trust issues are directed at me, the person in the profession that’s supposed to protect kids from the experience you and Nina went through.”
Sort of. “I mean, at least we got her back, right?”
On Friday afternoon, Margot left the house with her hair styled, her face made up, and wearing a cute yellow sundress. She’d considered the red one, but it had felt a tad too sexy for something as basic as picking up her daughter after school.
“Where are you off to?” Phoebe asked from her perch in the flowerbed next to the front porch.
“School. To get Nina.”
Phoebe glanced at her watch. “School doesn’t let out for another thirty minutes.”
“Oh. Ah…” She smoothed the front of her dress.
Phoebe canted her head. “You’re hoping RJ will be there early too.”
“N-no.” Her shoulders slumped. “What the hell am I doing? Last night I tried to scare him off by telling him about Nina’s kidnapping, and now I’m dressing up to go pick her up from school because I know he’ll be there.”
“You told him about the kidnapping? About Gino?”
“I was vague on details. Didn’t mention Gino or how it happened, just that it did. I thought RJ would run away from someone with that sort of emotional baggage.”
“Wow, you’ve got scaring off guys down to an art form.”
“Clearly, I don’t, since it didn’t sway him. And now I’m all giddy about seeing him again when I should be avoiding him at all costs.”
“I don’t get why you’re trying to talk yourself out of this little crush you’ve developed. He seems like a nice guy.”
“A nice guy who happens to be a detective. And in case you forgot, we’re kind of sort of fugitives who illegally changed our identities so we could hide from the mob.”
“Well, when you put it that way… Or, you could just go with the flow and see what happens. It might not even go anywhere. After all, assuming he asks and you accept, this would be your first date in how long?”
Margot didn’t want to think about it. “Since the night before Gino kidnapped Nina. And that guy was a total loser. Not even worth all the stress Gino put me through.”
“See? You have a terrible track record. Why not let it run its course, since it probably won’t go anywhere?”
Phoebe shrugged. “I’m not the best person to dole out advice anyway. After all, I married a mafia moneyman.”
Phoebe returned to tending to the flowers, and Margot hurried down the slate pavers toward the sidewalk. She could see the gray Charger parked in the pickup lane from a block away. Had RJ arrived early in hopes of having a little extra time to talk to her?
“Wow,” he said when she arrived at the school. He clamored out of his car and hurried to the curb. “You look great.”
She glanced down at her frock and willed her cheeks not to darken. “Thanks. You know, yesterday when the girls made their plans, I should have told you that I could walk them both home and you didn’t need to make the trip up here to pick Hillary up.”
“I’m definitely glad we didn’t think of that.”
She caught his eye and smiled, and then lowered her lashes. The blush was definitely a full force now. Her face probably resembled a tomato.
“So this is going to sound weird, maybe, or, I don’t know, forward, or…” She watched as he struggled to formulate words that actually made sense. “Listen, are you single? Because Nina said her dad wasn’t in the picture and you aren’t wearing a wedding ring and you asked me if I was married yesterday and I’m rambling, aren’t I?”
She chuckled, her cheeks still warm, even as she glanced at the ring finger that had been bare for four years now. “Maybe a little. And you’re correct that Nina’s father is not in the picture.”
“That’s good. No, I mean, it isn’t. I don’t think. Does he have visitation?”
She shook her head. Don’t stress, Margot. He’s just making conversation. He’s a single parent, too. “No. He doesn’t see her at all.”
“Jessica and I share custody. Fifty-fifty.”
“Oh. Well, that’s good. An amicable divorce is always a good thing when kids are involved.”
“Oh, trust me, it wasn’t amicable. But we’re trying to be civil, for Hill’s sake. One of these days it might actually happen, too.”
She giggled—dear God, she actually giggled—and then pretended to focus on pulling her phone out of her pocket to check the time.
“So I don’t suppose you’d be interested in maybe getting together sometime? Outside of the pickup line here at school, I mean.”
Crap. Her ploy hadn’t frightened him away. Of course, she’d countered with her flirty outfit, coy smiles, and deep blushes. The man clearly liked complicated women.
And damn, he was good looking. And she was lonely.
He was charming. And she deserved to go out on a date or two.
He was funny. And those eyes were practically begging her to say yes.
What was the harm in one date? Like Phoebe said, it probably wouldn’t go anywhere. What could she possibly have in common with a small town cop? It would probably be dinner, a few cocktails, nice conversation, and they’d part ways and go back to their respective lives. But at least she could say she’d finally gotten back into the dating game.
It was time. Past time.
“Sure. I’d love that.”
I KNOW YOU WANT TO KEEP READING! It’s right here (PS – It’s in KU too!): AMAZON
Leave a Reply