Thursday, November 13, 2014

Teaser Thursday - Chaos Is Come Again

Chaos Is Come Again by Fiona Quinn & John Dolan
Buy it here!
Off balance, Avery Goodyear pushed her weight into her high heels and locked her knees. Her lips curled into a tight line as she willed herself not to sprint out the office door. Focus, she rebuked herself.
Her boss, Jerry Meyers, crossed his arms over his chest, stretched out his legs, and thumped his feet onto the corner of his desk. Always a bad sign. Things never went well after he struck this pose. “Travis Bishop has flown the coop,” he said.
“What does that mean?” Avery asked, not sure if she should move farther into the room to sit in the guest chair, or not. Jerry had positioned the chair precisely so the morning sun would catch his unlucky visitor in the left eye, blinding them. He was following a strategy from a book called How to Get the Upper Hand and Win. One of their competitors had read the manuscript first and beaten Jerry to signing up the author. Now the book was a New York Times bestseller, and all Jerry had to show for his efforts was rearranged furniture and absurd alpha-male poses.
“He’s hiding in London. The Notting Hill area to be exact.” Jerry said. “Apparently, there were one too many crosses nailed to his door, and the twenty-four-hour news-a-thons aren’t letting him get his beauty sleep.”
“You encouraged him to go?” Avery slid her hands into her pockets, but that didn’t feel right. She pulled them back out. She stood there, awkward and uncertain. Bishop wasn’t in her queue, thank God. She had nothing to do with him. Wanted nothing to do with him. Why was Jerry bringing him up?
“Not to London. He’s too inaccessible there. I can’t swoop in for a surprise visit. I was thinking more of a New England farmhouse down a long and private path where he could write in anonymity and get this damned sequel done already.”
“Why push him?” Avery asked, holding the sliver-thin hope that Jerry would tear up the Bishop contract and move on to something more. . . wholesome. Okay, wholesome was too big a stretch. Wholesome didn’t sell. Scandal sold. In today’s saturated book market, everyone was elbowing for a place. Avery closed her eyes and tried for a deep breath, but her lungs stuck at the halfway point, leaving her breathless. She lifted her gaze and caught Jerry smirking at her.
“Money. That’s why.” Jerry uncrossed his ankles and came upright, resting his elbows on the arms of his chair, steepling his fingers. Power pose number four. “Controversy makes PMT piles of money, which equals job security. And right now, in this industry, job security is everything.” He cocked his head to the side. “Don’t you agree? I mean, what would you do, Avery, if you lost this job? Huh?” His raised brows folded his skin into four straight lines across his forehead. “Where would your editorial skills take you? Do you know how many book agents are out there trolling the Twittersphere, looking for desperate wannabe writers who need editing at two dollars a page? Could you make your life work out on that kind of pay check?”
Avery swallowed past the lump in her throat. Jerry was positioning the sword of Damocles over her head. She’d have to say yes to whatever came next.
“Has Bishop given you an update on his progress?” Avery hoped to delay the inevitable. A rivulet of perspiration formed on her back, tickling down her spine. She reached back to pull her silk blouse away from her humid skin.
“Nope. I’m giving him to you as a gift. The updates are now on you.”
Avery stilled, reprocessing his words, hoping she’d misunderstood.
“Wheedle something out of him.” Jerry picked up his pen and jabbed it towards her, punctuating his instructions. “An outline, a first chapter, anything you can get. I want something on my desk by the end of this week.”
Pen jabbing. Power move number nine. Disdain bubbled in Avery’s stomach. He’s turning himself into a caricature.      
The phone buzzed against Avery’s thigh. She pulled it from her pocket and tapped it off without checking the readout. “Me? But…” Avery moved behind the chair, using it as a shield against all the ramifications of this conversation. “Please, I’m really opposed to this whole project. Maybe the intern would like to get this on her resume?” Avery threw out the Hail Mary with little hope of success; Jerry looked too smug right now to be generous.
“You. Bishop insists you’re the only person he’ll talk to.”
“But I’ve never met him.”
“Hank Harrison recommended you. End of story.”
Jerry’s PA came over the speaker announcing his wife was on line one. Jerry reached for the receiver and pointed at the guest seat. Avery dragged the chair away from the window and sat down to wait. She checked the number that had called. Lola. Shoot. Her best friend wouldn’t call her at work unless her mom was acting up again.
One crisis at a time. Being thrown into the Travis Bishop three-ring circus certainly felt like a crisis. Avery had received dozens of nasty letters from strangers, telling her that she’d damned her soul to hell by her involvement with Bishop’s last book, Nosferatu, the Lost Gospel. And she hadn’t been involved at all. What would happen now that she was going to be his principal handler? She needed to stay as anonymous as possible. She’d need to get a new phone number right away, an unlisted one.

Twitter: @FionaQuinnBooks

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Teaser Thursday - Dirty Deeds by Jenna Bennett

Dirty Deeds by Jenna Bennett

Book blurb

With hotels in downtown filled to capacity months in advance, real estate agent Savannah Martin decides to pick up some extra money renting out her empty East Nashville apartment. She’s living with her boyfriend, and the place is just sitting there, begging to be put to use.

But when her latest tenant ends up dead—strangled in Savannah’s bed by what might have been a paying customer—the promise of easy money quickly turns sour.

As the hunt for the killer leads to their shared hometown of Sweetwater, Tennessee, Savannah’s boyfriend, TBI agent Rafe Collier, is tapped to help with the investigation. But a familiarity with the town and the people in it isn’t necessarily a benefit when the main suspect in the murder is the man Savannah decided not to marry. The same man who has never forgiven Rafe for stealing her away... 


When the phone rings before seven in the morning, it’s rarely good news.
Although when the phone beside my bed rang at 6:28 AM on the last Sunday in May, the reason I usually worry was lying next to me, so at least I knew the bad news wouldn’t be about him.
Rafe was safe, curled up behind me in bed, with a possessive arm around my waist and a protective hand splayed over my stomach, where his son or daughter was getting ready to serve up my usual helping of morning sickness.
Rafe’s presence only helped momentarily, as I have plenty of other hostages to fortune. My brother, my sister, my brother-in-law, three nieces, two nephews, assorted aunts and uncles, and quite a few friends.
Not to mention my mother. We don’t always get along, but I’d hate it if anything happened to her, especially before she can come around to my way of thinking and embrace her future son-in-law.
And speaking of her future son-in-law... Rafe has a grandmother and a son of his own, along with a few friends who might also be the reason for this call. The list of potential victims just kept growing as the echoes of the phone rang in my ears.
“You want I should get that?”
Rafe sounded wide awake, although I knew he’d been asleep just a minute ago. That’s what ten years of undercover work will do for somebody: make him able to go from dead sleep to wide awake at the sound of a ringtone.
“No.” I reached for the phone. “I’ve got it.”
He didn’t argue, just settled back down, long fingers making circles across my rounded stomach. Going a little farther south with each sweep.
I knew where those fingers were headed, so I picked up the phone with the intention of getting rid of whoever was calling as quickly as possible. “What?”
There was a beat, and then— “Manners, Savannah,” a voice murmured.
Sheesh. “Mother?”
Rafe’s hand stopped making circles. Even he draws the line at trying to get into my panties while I’m talking to my mother. Or perhaps it’s simply that the thought of my mother acts like a bucket of ice on his libido.
He removed his hand and flopped over on his back with a sound that was halfway between a laugh and a groan.
“Yes, darling,” the phone said.
Yes, of course. I resigned myself to doing without any more of Rafe’s attention until I could get her off the line. “What’s wrong?”
“Are you alone?” mother inquired.
“No.” My voice was laced with a heavy dose of ‘duh,’ but of course I couldn’t actually say so. Not to my mother. “It’s six-thirty in the morning on a weekend. We’re still in bed.”
“You and...?” Mother hesitated delicately.
I took the phone away from my ear and looked at it before putting it back. Amnesia? Early onset dementia? She’s only fifty-eight, but I suppose stranger things have happened.
Probably it was just denial, pure and simple. I proceeded to remind her who I was sleeping with. “My fiancĂ©. The father of my baby. Remember?”
“Rafael,” my mother said, with that inflection of sour lemons only she can manage.
“That’s right.” And she had interrupted something—something I had every hope might go somewhere—so if she’d kindly just get to the point...?
But of course I didn’t say that, either. My mother raised a lady. Although I thought it, and trusted that the thought came across in my voice.
Except it didn’t seem to, because Mother didn’t speak. “What do you need?” I prompted, when I determined the silence had gone on long enough.
She sighed. “I thought perhaps Todd...”
Todd? She called me at six-thirty in the morning because she thought I had Todd Satterfield in my bed?
“I’m sorry,” I said. “Rafe’s not really into this sharing thing.”
And if he had been, Todd would have been the last person he would invite to join us.
Mother’s dismay rolled down the telephone line even before her shocked exclamation reached me. “Savannah!”
“Sorry,” I muttered, my cheeks hot, while behind me, Rafe made a choking sound. I glanced at him over my shoulder, and saw that he was struggling not to laugh.
I turned away. The sight of him—all hard muscles and golden skin outlined against the white sheets—was distracting, and I couldn’t afford to be distracted right now. “Why on earth would you think Todd would be here?”
Behind me, Rafe went still.
“I thought maybe you’d made up,” Mother said hopefully.
That we’d... what?
“Rafe and I are engaged, Mother. We’re living together. I’m having his baby. We’re getting married.” Just as soon as we could figure out the details. “There’s nothing for Todd and me to make up.”
Mother didn’t respond, and I tried my question again, using different words this time. “Did Todd say he was coming here?”
“No...” Mother said, making it sound like she wasn’t sure.
“Well, what did he say?”
She made a sound. Something like a sigh. “That he was going to Nashville to see a friend.”
“And you thought of me? Why?”
We were hardly friends anymore. Todd Satterfield had been my boyfriend for a year in high school, but that was eleven or twelve years ago, and much more recently, I had hurt his feelings and wounded his pride by saying no to his marriage proposal. And then I had added insult to injury by shacking up with Rafe, who—by all accounts, especially Todd’s and Mother’s—was totally unsuitable for me.
“We didn’t think he knew anyone else in Nashville,” Mother said.  
Why? Todd lived just over an hour away, and had for most of his life. It was very possible—indeed, likely—that he knew people in Nashville.
However, that didn’t answer the most important question. “I still don’t understand why you’re calling me to ask if he’s here.”
She did a sort of audible squirm, one I could hear through the phone. “He didn’t come home last night.