Hi, everyone, I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and your loved ones!
I’ve been in my writing cave during the holiday season and will be in there for quite awhile, but of course will come up to blog and chat with you all when taking breaks.
I wanted to share the first chapter of my soon to be released (I’m hoping February time frame), DECOY IN STILETTOS.
Decoy in Stilettos is a romantic comedy, with splashes of mystery and a heavy dose of suspense and of course steamy scenes, romance, love and arch enemies.
Here is a sneak preview of the first chapter, I hope you enjoy it!
Decoy in Stilettos
All Rights Reserved
I’ve also posted the excerpt on my website, as it may be easier to read because it’s formatted more like it would appear in a book.
If you’re like me, in denial about your eyesight and like bigger fonts (which I can’t do on this blog, haven’t mastered that skill yet), then hop on over to my website and you can read the excerpt there. CLICK HERE to get you there.
DECOY IN STILETTOS
“Leave the gun. Take the cannolis.” Clemenze, The Godfather
There are a few things a gal is never fully prepared for—a trip to the emergency room to mend a bite on her ass on her thirtieth birthday, and her lunch date dropping dead mid-sentence.
“I can’t believe he keeled over like that.” Ryan buried her face into the pillow on the gurney. She lifted her head and let out a dramatic loud sigh. “Gawd, what if I’m responsible for his death?”
The confession brought an instant hush inside the hospital room.
Brenda, the attending nurse and Ryan’s second cousin twice removed, broke the silence. “What did you do? Whine the putz to death?”
Ryan swallowed the get waxed retort, figuring it wasn’t in her best interest to make fun of Brenda’s five-o’clock upper lip shadow while lying face down, ass up. “It’s Agent O’Flanagan to you.”
“Agent?” asked the doctor.
Ryan turned her head to the side, and watched the attractive doctor as he examined her throbbing butt—an injury in the line of duty, a damn dog bite.
Brenda walked around the gurney, stood in front of Ryan, and handed the doctor a tube with gloved hands that wouldn’t be out of place on a construction site. “She’s a rent-a-cop.”
“I’m an agent and president of Rambo Decoy Agency.” Ryan sprang—not literally, because she was sore as hell—to her own defence.
Okay, so maybe she wasn’t an agent exactly, but she owned a private investigative outfit, in her opinion everyone who worked in the agency was an agent.
“Agency?” Doctor Hottie asked. “What kind?”
“P.I. agency for women.” Ryan ignored Brenda’s guffaw and recited the tag line from her website. “Our mission is to assist women who want to catch their cheating husband or lover. The agency gathers hard core evidence for our clients.” Her agency utilized unconventional methods—decoy mistresses—to the snag the philanderer.
“Rambo?” The doctor applied cold gel that stung like hell all over her left butt cheek. “Interesting name.”
Brenda handed the doctor strips of gauze. “That’s what she’s been calling herself since high school.”
“Uh-huh,” he said.
“It’s my nickname.” Ryan bit down on her lower lip while the doctor taped the gauze against her skin. “I don’t have a Stallone fetish if that’s what you’re thinking.” She winced as he continued to patch up the bite. “The initials of my given names spell out Rambo.”
“Uh-huh,” he said.
“My grandmother did some sort of old wives test on my mother when she was pregnant. She tied my mom’s wedding ring on a string and dangled it over her belly. It swung in a circle, which meant Ma was having a boy. Granny Abigail insisted the first born O’Flanagan male had to be named Ryan.
“I made an appearance sans son parts, so they saddled me with Ryan Abigail Maria Benetti O’Flanagan to please both sides of my parents’ families.” Her father’s Protestant Irish side and her mother’s Catholic Italian side. Using the initials to spell out her alter ego appealed to Ryan’s quirky side. “Of course Ma and Granny blamed my dad since he bought the wedding ring in a pawn shop.”
“Interesting.” The doctor was a drool-worthy visual aid and a nice distraction from the pain, but his monosyllabic responses grated on Ryan’s already traumatized nerves.
“Interesting isn’t a word I’d use for that side of the family,” Brenda said, tapping Ryan on the shoulder. “You can sit up now.”
“We’re versatile,” Ryan said to the doctor as she pushed herself up carefully and sat, leaning on her right side. Glad the stupid dog didn’t chomp down on her right butt cheek and disfigure her winking duck tattoo.
“Versatile?” Brenda snickered. “Sending kids rejection letters from the tooth fairy and—-”
“You’re exaggerating.” Ryan had used denial as an excuse for a few of her bad choices in her life, it also came in handy as a defense mechanism.
“Right.” Brenda’s bottle-blonde head bounced up and down like a basketball. “So, Agent, you mentioned you could be responsible for this guy’s death. How did you do it?”
“With. A. Blow job.” She wasn’t normally this crass in front of men, but Brenda pushed her buttons on an already bad day.
The doctor cleared his throat, turned and washed his hands in the sink. “Oh?”
Ryan thought she saw Brenda smile. Nah, it’s probably gas.
“I guess Dr. Pepper wasn’t on tap?” Brenda’s forehead remained still as she wiggled her over-plucked eyebrows. Good grief, the woman should ease up on the Botox. It was time to stop when one looked permanently frightened. “Still trying to shock me? Still not working.”
The doctor nodded. “Ah.”
Ryan had ordered the Irish Cream, Kahlua cocktail known as a Blow Job with every intention of using the innuendo to test Boris Petrov’s—her client’s husband—fidelity.
“Can I get dressed now?” Ryan asked.
Doctor Hottie nodded and scribbled on a clipboard.
Brenda and the doctor left the room. Ryan slipped out of the backless hospital gown and dressed quickly. The humiliation of her naked business exposed to them and her tactless loose tongue had now seeped in, and the bite wasn’t the only thing burning. Her face probably matched her hair color.
After twenty minutes, there was a knock on the door. Brenda asked if Ryan was decent—with a sarcastic emphasis on decent—and if they could re-enter.
Ryan stepped into her stiletto boots and zipped them up. “Ready.”
The doctor and Brenda entered the room, leaving the door open.
“Thanks, Doctor.” Ryan said, finger combing her hair as she headed toward the door. “You too, Brenda—”
“Not so fast.” Brenda motioned to the bed and slipped on a pair of surgical gloves. “Hop back on there.”
“I’m feeling better, I don’t need to sit.”
“No problem,” Brenda said. “We can do this standing up,”
“This?” Ryan turned to the doctor. “What is she talking about?”
“Says here,” Doctor Hottie flipped through the paperwork on his clipboard, “your tetanus shot isn’t up to date.” He laid a manicured hand on Ryan’s shoulder. Was that clear polish on his nails? “Don’t worry, Ms. Rambo…I mean, O’Flanagan, this won’t take long.”
Ryan took a deep breath and concentrated on staying upright as she watched Brenda twist a mean looking syringe, drawing air into it, and pulled what looked like a miniature plunger. Ryan decided it was safer to sit on the bed.
Brenda swabbed Ryan’s upper arm with alcohol.
Ryan had no problem with needles; it was the look of evil pleasure on Brenda’s face that made her queasy. She grabbed her purse, lying beside her on the bed, dug into it, slid the unloaded Smith and Wesson out and mustered a practiced G.I. Jane rasp. “You hurt me and I’m gonna hurt you.” She paused and narrowed her eyes. “Real bad.”
“I’ll take that,” a familiar deep voice, with a slight Queens drawl said, yanking her 9mm out of her hand.
For a six-foot guy, Gabe was damn stealthy.
“Oh look, it’s the dick,” Ryan said to Detective Gabe Castellani another nemesis from her past and the man who was trying to shut her agency down with a vengeance. “I didn’t realize NYPD’s finest investigated bites on—-”
“Pains in the asses. You better have a carry permit for this concealed.” Gabe gave her his default cop glare. “Christ, Ryan, what the hell were you doing in BrightonBeach—?”
“I vanted a shot of vodka vit blini. Iz good idea, nyet?” She tried to bat her eyelashes but the burning pain behind her eyeballs created a twitch instead. She waved toward the door. “Now, dasvidanigya, comrade.”
“Smart ass.” He blew out a loud breath. “Do you have any idea who you were playing decoy with?”
Not until the police arrived. What Ryan hadn’t known until an hour after Boris Petrov dived head first into his beef stroganoff via a heart attack, was that her client’s husband was also rumored to be The Butcher. The nickname said it all.
“Well,” Gabe said, “were you aware of his reputation?”
“Do I look clueless?”
“Not going to answer that.”
“Bite me, Castellani.”
His mouth twitched a fraction. “From what I hear, another male beat me to it.”
Brenda and the doctor chuckled. Ryan decided not to get suckered into this juvenile banter, granted she may have started it.
She stuck her nose up in the air a-la-Diva style. Although, she was sure she hadn’t pulled anything resembling a confident diva off, considering her ripped stockings, and with her horizontally challenged hips wrapped in a black leather skirt, she most likely resembled an overstuffed sausage. “Of course I knew about my client’s husband.”
Lying was part of being a decoy mistress, although Ryan was certain Meryl Streep wasn’t in any danger of losing her Oscars, given the way Gabe’s dark brows met his hairline. “I do research all my clients.” Though, not always. Her agency was thriving beyond her expectations and she hadn’t had time to hire a research assistant.
She crossed her legs and swallowed a loud, damn that hurt. “There’s no shame in my game, we don’t discriminate or judge. We’re an equal opportunity catch-a-cheater agency.” She shifted her aching butt to the edge of the bed. “And I’m not answering any more of your intrusive questions.”
“Hold still,” Brenda said.
“In the name of the Soprano’s and The Godfather, this better not leave a mark.” She emphasized her words, going for the evil eye look. Ryan had seen Nonna Mary do this quite effectively. “My family knows people.”
Perhaps she had insulted and stereotyped Italian descendants worldwide, and she most likely deserved the here-goes-the-drama-queen look Gabe shot her. Dramatization was a decoy mistresses’ occupational hazard.
Brenda pricked her arm with the needle. “Yeah, yeah, we’re all scared.”
Ryan’s inner voice screamed, Oh, the trauma of it all. Being of Italian descent, not only had she experienced the phenomena of thirty people fitting into a nine-hundred-square foot house for a ten course dinner, but it was her birth right to have at least one irrational outburst. Two on a bad day.
She tried to hop off the bed, but Brenda eased her back and put her hand up. “Not so fast. Much as I enjoyed this reunion you have to stick around for twenty minutes to make sure you don’t have an adverse reaction to the shot. And I don’t think you want to come back with an infected behind.”
Ryan continued sliding off the bed. “I’ll handle that end of things, thank you.”
“Nurse Brenda is correct.” Doctor Hottie motioned for Ryan to sit back down. “We’re not done. Your wound was deep but it wasn’t necessary for stitches, however, there are some steps we need to discuss with you to ensure you don’t get an infection.”
“The antibiotic cream you ordered should be on its way up soon,” Brenda spoke to the doctor, beaming at Gabe.
Brenda beamed at Gabe so much so Ryan thought the Minnie Mouse images on Brenda’s scrub top would melt right off. Even Doctor Hottie beamed at Gabe—his expression looked like he’d willingly drink Gabe’s bath water. Not that Ryan judged the doctor, but for crying out loud she was in excruciating pain. The least these professionals could do was to give her some sympathy and let her get the hell home so she could be humiliated in private.
Gabe leaned against the sink across from her, and she noticed he was either still off on disability from his shooting incident or he was assigned to an undercover operation. He wasn’t wearing his standard detective suit and tie. His hair—black as neat espresso—was longer than his usual military style cut, curling around the collar of his brown, dog-eared leather jacket, zipper opened, showing off a dark blue T-shirt, stretched across his chest, flattened against his abs and tucked into low riding, faded jeans, fitting him perfectly all the way down to his open laced Nike’s.
The doctor was the same height as Gabe. With the doctor’s wavy brown hair, hazel eyes and dimpled cheek, his boyish good looks and sweet charm would be a shoe-in for a romantic comedy movie. Gabe would never be cast in such a movie, unless an intimidating, brooding male lead that looked like he was ready to rearrange someone’s face was called for.
Gabe annoyed her, however, she had to admit he had many attractive parts—even though some of those parts were not in their original condition—his nose had been broken more than once from his teenage bad-ass days, a hockey skate to the face produced a thin scar on his chin and his roughened hands were a result from his stint as a carpenter. His gaze had a woman wondering what really went on behind his navy blue eyes. His chiselled jaw that could slice pastrami paper thin made him pan-searing.
Lucky for Ryan she could overlook all that and not be affected by Gabe who packed an extra wallop of pheromones. Well, she assumed he had more than his fair share of pheromones, if the rumors were true about the dedicated puck-bunnies, stampeding the men’s dressing room to catch his attention after the NYPD’s charity hockey games.
He had no effect on her whatsoever. She was merely speculating and comparing him to Doctor Hottie. She licked her dry lips, swallowing hard.
Damn room was stifling, don’t they ventilate this place?
“What are you doing here anyway?” Ryan asked Gabe.
“They,” Gabe nodded toward the door, “asked me to come down to check things out.”
Ryan turned around as her parents walked into the room. “Damn. That’s all I need.”
“Ryan Abigail Maria, don’t swear,” her mother said from the doorway. “Brenda, nice to see you. Your parents must be so proud of your nursing career.”
“Who called you?” Ryan asked her mother. “And for cripessakes, why would you tell him of all people?” Her parents held onto grudges from the past the way a vulture hung on to a fresh kill, and they never liked Gabe.
Her mother shook her head, adding a loud tsk tsk. “Such language. Your sister called me, because you never tell me anything.”
“I’m going to kill her.”
“Don’t talk like that in front of a detective.” Her mother smiled at Gabe. “Gabriel came into the store when we got the call.”
“You don’t shop in that neighborhood,” Ryan said. “What were you doing—?”
“And you know where I shop because….?”
“I have friends in high places.” Actually, one friend who used to live in the apartment above Gabe and had kept tabs on him for Ryan.
She wasn’t stalking him, she only wanted to ensure he was doing okay after his shooting. She had a few specs of guilt over his injury. Okay, perhaps more than a few specs, but guilt or not, he still pissed her off for trying to shut her agency down and for the embarrassment he put her through on her sixteenth birthday.
Fast forward fourteen years later and here she was again humiliated on a milestone birthday.
Her parents took their coats off and bombarded the doctor with questions.
Ryan leaned back on her hands, putting her weight on her right side again, to ease the pain. If only she could do the same for the pain standing in front of her. “So what were you doing at their store?”
Gabe lifted the corner of his mouth, which was as close to a sincere smile Ryan had ever seen, and for a second, she forgot what she wanted to know.
“Your parents,” he said, walking closer to her, giving her a quick once over, from the top of her messed hair to the tips of her aching stiletto boots, speaking low for her ears only, “produce great melons.”
Ryan’s arm buckled and she jerked on the bed, causing a sharp pain to travel up her spine. Ouch. “Damn it.”
Her mother shook her head and addressed Brenda and the doctor. “Please excuse my daughter’s bad attitude and language. She’s obsessed with movies and gets these crazy ideas from those shows. Especially that Charlie’s Angel movie.”
“And that movie about the girl who joined the Seals,” her father said. “What was the name of that?”
“You mean GI Jane?” Brenda supplied.
Her father snapped his fingers. “That’s the one. She watched that movie a lot.”
Brenda snickered. “I remember hearing through the grapevine that Ryan had shaved her head. All makes sense now.”
“Oh, please don’t remind us of that,” her mother all but screamed. “I still light candles every Sunday, praying she wouldn’t put us through that again.”
Her father lowered his head. “Bald, doing sit-ups like her brothers, wearing black sleeveless t-shirts that summer.” Shaking his head, he looked at her mother. “Women.”
Gabe took a few steps back, leaned against the counter and linked his arms across his chest. “This is getting good.”
“Doctor, will she need surgery?” her mother asked, her words tumbling out faster than Ryan’s racing heartbeat. “I’ll stay the night and take care of her—”
“Ma, I’m fine.” Ryan resisted the urge to give Gabe an Italian hand salute; instead she focused on the doctor’s dimples and sweetened her voice. “It wasn’t serious. This wonderful doctor took good care of me. I didn’t even need stitches. You can go home now. I’ll call you later.”
Brenda inched her way beside Gabe and stood next to him, obviously settling in for a front row seat for an episode of her family’s drama.
Her mother turned to Gabe. “Does the police department need a secretary? Maybe you can put in a good word for Ryan.” She swung around and pointed at Ryan. “You have a run in your stockings. I hope they’re silk at least. Did anyone we know see you dressed like that?” She smiled at Brenda and lowered her voice. “Brenda, our bella cousin, you’ll keep this between us, right? Even though we never get together, we’re still family.”
Turning back to Ryan, her mother clasped her hands together as if in prayer mode and raised her voice. “And on a Sunday of all days. I think you went to work today to get out of your birthday dinner with the family. I cooked all your favorite vegetarian food for three days.” She made the sign of the cross. “God forbid you eat meat.”
Her mother then turned and scowled at Gabe. “Ever since your sixteenth birthday was ruined you won’t let us celebrate.” The scowl magically turned into a frickin’ charming smile as she patted Gabe’s shoulder. “Oh, well, it’s all in the past, Gabriel. We don’t hold grudges.” She giggled. Her mother actually giggled. “A misunderstanding, that’s all it was.” She then turned back to Ryan. “Your blouse is too tight.” She whipped off her silk scarf and wrapped it around Ryan’s neck. “And that plastic skirt is much too short.”
“It’s leather, Ma,” Ryan said through clenched teeth.
“It doesn’t matter. We bought you a gift certificate to Macy’s for your birthday. You can buy a whole new wardrobe. We drove all the way to Jersey to get your favorite cake. Of course, we’ll have to run interference with all the questions the relatives are bound to ask. Don’t worry, we can think strategy on the way home.” She made the sign of the cross. “We are so thankful that it wasn’t serious and you’re healthy and safe now.
“By the way, blue eye-shadow does not complement your green eyes. You lost one of your false eyelashes, makes you look lopsided. I hope you stocked up on good quality cleanser to remove that drug store make-up you piled on your face. And since when do you paint yourself up like that? Such lovely skin you inherited and you’re ruining it. Ruining it, I tell you.”
Pow. Pow. Pow. Obviously turning sixty last month hadn’t had any effect on her mother’s machine gun style critiquing.
“You should have joined the police academy if you want to work at this thing you’re doing,” her father said. “Police women do real work. They’re not mistresses.”
“Mistress?” Her mother yanked out her mother-of-pearl rosary beads from her Louis Vuitton oversized pocketbook, which was sure to include cookies, sandwiches and a hunk of provolone cheese. Her mother was shocked to discover the FDA recommended people eat three meals a day and not eight. “What must people think of this business of yours, if your own father thinks you’re a—”
“A kept woman,” her father clarified and pointed at Ryan. “You need a new job.”
“Your father’s right.” Gabe walked behind Ryan and leaned in close to her left ear. “You do need a new job.” She lost all feeling in her toes—a result of wearing stiletto boots one size too small she was sure. His mint scented breath fanned her cheek. “Can you say, ‘would you like fries with that?’”
Ryan wiggled some feeling into her toes and took a second to let the woozy sensation that had crept into her head clear out—a result of the day’s ordeal of course. She opened her mouth to tell him where he could stick his advice, but her mother chimed in.
“Gabriel is right, luv.” Her mother tucked a strand of Ryan’s hair behind her ears. “A job in the food industry would be more respectable.”
“My agency is respectable.” With a confidence she wasn’t feeling, Ryan lifted her chin with pride. “We handle delicate assignments.”
“Assignments?” Gabe said as he walked back to the counter and leaned against it. “More like entrapment.”
“What the hell are you all talking about?” Ryan shot Gabe her best PMS killer glare. “It’s not entrapment, and I’m not a kept anything.”
Her mother turned her eyes heavenward. “For the love of all that’s good and holy, please stop cursing.” She produced a dainty sigh. “Call your ex-husband and work things out. Have a baby. The rumors are true, so we know his new partner, girlfriend whatever he calls her, can’t give him one—”
Her mother waved her hand as if she hadn’t let anything out of the family secret bag. “Stay home and stop getting yourself into these situations.”
Ryan was sure her molars were now ground into enamel dust.
“And,” her mother continued as if possessed by the mortifying-your-daughter-devil, “you should go and see your cousin Gina. She’ll give you a good rate to relax all those curls.”
Gabe smiled about as sweet as apple cider vinegar. “Right after your daughter comes down to the precinct for a statement.”
“Dressed like that?” Her mother wiped her forehead with the lace hanky. She turned to her husband. “Tom, you go in Ryan’s place. Go to the police and tell them she’s not herself since her divorce.” She turned to Brenda. “Is there a psychiatrist in this hospital that can help Ryan?”
“Mrs. O’Flanagan,” Gabe said. “The police need Ryan’s statement —-”
“You need sugar.” Her mother opened her pocketbook. “That’s what’s wrong with you young people. You don’t eat enough sugar.” Another dainty sigh as she pulled out a Tupperware container. “That’s why you get all these crazy ideas.”
Like the Tupperware sales pro she was, her mother popped the lid off the container, it burped, like she’d demonstrated to all the neighbourhood housewives. “I made these this morning.” She handed Gabe a cannoli. “You, with this bringing her to the police business.” She took two steps toward Ryan. “And you,” she said, taking Ryan’s hand and jamming a cannoli into it, “with this kept woman business.”
Ryan could tell Gabe was struggling to keep his cop poker face persona while her mother doled out cannolis to Doctor Hottie and smirking Brenda.
Doctor Hottie took the cannoli and with a nod, he said, “I have to check on another patient. I’ll be right back.” He escaped and Ryan wished she could jump on his back and piggy-back out of the Twilight Zone.
“She’s not under arrest,” Gabe said.
Ryan sighed her relief and tossed the cannoli into the garbage bin in the corner.
“At least not yet,” Gabe said, taking a bite out of the cannoli. “Mmm, good, Mrs. O.”
Her mother’s eyes widened. “What do you mean, not yet? You can’t arrest Ryan at any time. I told you about this because I thought you could help her out of this mess.” She ran her hands through her hairdo, compliments of cousin Gina, where the transplanted Jersey girl convinced Ryan’s mother that the higher the hair, the closer to God.
“Gabriel, you owe us,” her father said. “If it weren’t for us you’d be a convicted felon.”
“Really?” Brenda said. “That story never made it to our side of the family.”
“Because we made it go away,” her father said.
“Yes, yes, yes, that’s it. You owe us, Gabriel,” her mother said.
“This is better than any reality TV,” Brenda said, gloat coloring her baritone voice. “Hey, what about reminding Gabe about what happened at the Winterfest prom—”
“Shut up, Brenda.” Ryan turned to her parents, pleading, “Ma, Dad, please. Both of you stop.”
Her mother nudged her husband’s arm. “We’ll even throw a few bucks your way.”
“Good idea,” her father said. “How much to keep Ryan out of this mess?”
Her parents bribed a cop? This cop of all people?
Oh. My. God.
My father has some form of dementia and my mother has finally lost her menopausal mind.
There was no other explanation. Their actions today were over the top even for them.
“I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that,” Gabe said, his tone taking on authoritative edge. “I explained to you both that she’d have to talk to the police and—”
Her mother swung her rosary beads like a lasso toward her father. “This is all your fault.”
“Me? Why?” her father asked.
“You got cable.” Her mother paced across the tiny room. “What will people think? It’s bad enough she’s a divorced woman. Nobody in our families has ever broken their vows. Oh, Lord. Dear, Lord.” She stopped and aimed the rosary at Ryan. “This is even worse than when you lived in sin with Julie—”
“What?” Ryan’s voice rose louder than she intended. “Julie was my platonic college roommate. We never lived in sin. You need therapy, Ma.”
“Two young girls, living alone with no supervision. I remember a time or two when I heard men’s voices and music in the background when I called. You must have sinned.” Her mother’s cheeks had turned a deep scarlet. “But this…this shameful agency you run, the way you dress, and now a man is dead and the police want to question you?” The blush now colored her whole face, perhaps it was one of her hot flashes. “With that attitude of yours, the judge will probably ship you off to prison and,” she gasped, “maybe be some bad woman’s—”
“Bitch?” Brenda said.
It was her father’s turn to gasp.
“Oh, no,” her mother wailed. “How will this look? Our family name. Reputation. And…and…this will surely ruin your life. End it. Done. Finito.” Her mother put her hands on her forehead and swayed—-a little to the right, a little to the left and had the right amount of moaning for the full effect. “This is a tragedy. A tragedy.”
“Ma,” Ryan said, blowing out a loud breath. “For crying out loud.”
And she did. Her mother cried out loud.
And people wondered why Ryan could be so dramatic at times.
Her mother wiped her tears, asked Brenda to step away from the mirror, and reapplied some lipstick.
Her father scratched his auburn head and turned to Gabe. “Since you won’t help her then I’ll have to call our family lawyer.”
Ryan pinched the bridge of her nose. “We don’t have a family lawyer.”
“Your cousin Liam has a law degree,” her mother said.
Ryan blew out a long, frustrated breath. “He’s a lawyer’s admin assistant.” Her ex-husband’s assistant, but in keeping with the dysfunction that was her life, it wasn’t so odd that her cousin still worked for Charles.
“Let’s call Charles.” Her mother looked at her father. “I know he still loves her. He’s a professional and he won’t let their divorce and her stubbornness stop him from helping her.”
Professional asshat is more like it. “Don’t you dare call him.”
“Like I told you more than once,” her mother plastered her on-a-mission expression, “all marriages have their ups and downs. We can fix this.”
Of course every marriage had their peaks and valleys, only Ryan’s marital bliss never hit the Himalaya’s, it had taken up permanent residency in Death Valley.
“You have to work at it, forgive and forget.” Her mother turned to Gabe. “Right, Gabriel?”
“If you say so,” he said.
Ryan’s jaw clenched of its own volition any time she was in her parents company. Good thing she’d had a tetanus shot and knew lockjaw wasn’t a possibility. “Ma, I’m begging you. Please. Stop.”
Her mother ran her thumb between Ryan’s brow. “Don’t glare like that. You’ll end up with a deep wrinkle there.”
Ryan dropped her head in her hands, and shook it side to side. Can my day get any worse?
Of course it could.
Ryan’s three nephews, two to six years old, darted into the room, laughing and chasing each other. Their mother, Ryan’s sister, Stephanie, out of breath, ran behind them. “Matthew, don’t touch that,” her sister yelled. “Anthony, put your boots back on. Lucas, don’t scream.”
Stephanie went to Ryan and with a worried expression, she asked, “Are you okay?”
“I was until you called them.”
“I had no choice.” Stephanie pulled Matthew out of the cupboard he had climbed into and handed him over to her father’s waiting arms. “Last time you ended up in emergency and I didn’t tell Ma, she threatened to never speak to me again.”
“And that’s a bad thing?” Ryan asked.
Her mother bent down to cover Anthony’s ears, and said in a hushed tone, “Your sister’s in big trouble.”
“How is she in trouble?” Stephanie said. “She’s the victim.”
“Aiden, Vito,” her mother said, as Ryan’s younger twin brothers walked into the already cramped room. “Thank God Stephanie got through to you. Ryan needs her family now.”
“I couldn’t understand Stephanie’s message.” Vito looked at Ryan. “Did you really get shot?”
Aiden shrugged, looking confused. “Stephanie told me that Ryan bit somebody.”
Her mother licked her fingers and combed Anthony’s cowlick down. “She wasn’t shot.” She cupped her hands over her mouth and stage whispered, “they’re going to arrest her for shooting the dog that bit her.”
Ryan’s family’s communication skills were as accurate as her grandmother’s wedding ring on a string test to predict the sex of a baby.
“What?” her sister and brothers all asked in unison.
Her family communicated entirely by rumor. Not one to usually lay dormant during one of their screaming love fests, Ryan sat this round out. She wondered how the hell she ended up in a cramped hospital room with some of the people who made up her existence. All born and bred in MiddleVillage, also known as Queens’s Little Italy, where the dad’s wore dark socks with sandals and kids were as tall as their grandmothers by the age of seven.
Doctor Hottie walked back into the room, maneuvering his steps as if he were walking through a labyrinth.
Ryan waved her hand at her family and looked at the doctor. “Would a blood transfusion release me from their bloodline?”
The corners of the doctor’s lips stretched sideways, although he reserved the beaming for Gabe. Come to think of it, in between Holy Mary’s and the critiquing, her own mother had even beamed at Gabe.
“Doctor,” her mother said. “Is there a plastic surgeon available who can remove that horrible duck tattoo she has on her—”
“Who told you about that?” Ryan was sure her voice drowned out the hospital’s paging system by now.
“I’m a mother, I know these things.”
Ryan glanced at her sister who wouldn’t make eye contact with her. “Stop talking to her.”
Stephanie shrugged. “It just slipped out.”
Aiden laughed. “Ryan got inked on her—”
“I’ve had enough,” Ryan said. “Doctor, I apologize for the mess my family made of this room.” She slid off the gurney, grabbed her purse, and held her wrists toward Gabe. “Cuff me. Arrest me. At least I’ll get some peace in jail.”
Gabe turned to the doctor. “Can you write a prescription? I’ll make sure it gets filled.”
“Sure.” The doctor took out a small pad and scribbled on it and handed it to Gabe. “I’ve included the instructions for taking care of the infected area.”
“My bite.” Ryan took the paper from Gabe’s fingers. “My instructions.” She pinned Gabe with a hard glare. “And now, I’m off like a prom dress.”
Gabe hiked his eyebrows. “Pun intended?”
“What do you think?” She nodded with a smile, waved and headed toward the door. “Ciao, everyone.”
“You’re not leaving without me.” Gabe reached into his leather jacket and produced a pair of steel hand cuffs. He took hold of Ryan’s wrists and cuffed her.
“What are you doing?” Ryan yelled. “I was joking.”
“I’m not.” With that, he wrapped his hand around her upper arm and led her out of the now silent hospital room.
“Oh. My. G-spot!”- Ryan O’Flanagan
…more to come at a later date….I hope you enjoyed this short excerpt.
Copyright Selena Robins – All Rights Reserved