TGIF Excerpt from The Housewife Assassin’s Handbook: “Artful Women”

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Memorial Day weekend means you'll have plenty of time to catch up on your reading. So what are you waiting for? Download a FREE copy of THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK. 

In this scene, my heroine, Donna Stone, is on the hunt for a large shipment of stolen plutonium. A hot lead sends her to a posh Beverly Hills art gallery. Just because the owner is sleazy doesn't mean he has anything to hide–

Or does he?

Donna finds out–the hard way.

Speaking of works of art, here's another angry housewife painting from one of my favorite artists, Kelly Reemtsen. You can catch her work here on her website, and also at Skidmore Contemporary Art in Santa Monica, David Klein Gallery in Birmingham Michigan, or DeBuck Gallery, in New York.

The subject is wearing the perfect frock for a the start of summer, don't you think? And who'd a thunk an ax would make such an eye-catching accessory?

TGI Holiday Weekend,

— Josie

 

Excerpt

“It’s a Larkaro,” Armand Fronsdal hisses in my
ear. “Arresting, is it not?”

Yep, that’s exactly how I’d describe an art
installation made up of a video projector playing a short film in which three
big-breasted nymphs cavort in the woods. But hey, what do I know from art?

One thing I do know: this man’s breath leaves a
lot to be desired.

But when I turn to face him, I’ve already set my
lips into a come-hither pout. “I’m looking for something a bit more… je ne sais quoi? Ah! Romantique.”

Having one-upped his Lounge Lizardeese with my
high school French has scored me major points with this jerk. He crooks a
finger at me to follow him.

He is too tall and too slight: think Ichabod
Crane in Goth. If his ponytail is supposed to cover up the fact that he’s got a
bald spot, he’s failed miserably. He’s wearing more eyeliner than me, which is
saying a lot, because I laid it on thick this morning.

Albeit no thicker than the crap he’s laying on
me now. “Has ma’amselle been complimented for her resemblance to John Singer
Sargent’s magnificent painting of Mrs. Waldorf Astor?”

I shrug. While it is flattering, we both know
it’s a stretch. Edvard Munch’s The Scream,
maybe…

“Ah, well, perhaps we shall find some petit amusement, oui?” I murmur. Playing
the bored art patroness has meant dressing up in a shiny ass-grazing red
leather dress that zips up the front, black fishnet stockings that end in
four-inch Louboutin thigh-high boots, and a veiled chapeau perched atop my
French twist. What with the tightness of the dress and the tiny heels of the
shoes, keeping up with his long strides is a bitch.

The gallery is really a warehouse broken up into
several rooms. He doesn’t stop until he reaches the one farthest to the back of
the building. One wall is made up of medieval pitchforks in a lattice pattern.
Near another, a seven-foot hot pink and purple polka-dot penis rises, thick and
proud, among two humongous blue balls.

Ouch.

The center installation is made up of abstract
mirrored balls of varying sizes, hung from the ceiling. They are dripping some
substance the color of blood.

If this is his idea of romantic, I’m guessing he
doesn’t go on many dates.

Voila,”
he purrs in an accent as bad as mine.

C'est magnifique,”
I whisper as I stare up at the mirrored balls.

“This is my private atelier,” he hisses proudly.
“Everything in here is my own creation. If this piece speaks to you, I’m sure
we can come up with some arrangement: say, forty thou? That’s a third off the
catalog price.”

“Such a steal. Almost wholesale.” I tilt my
head. Unconsciously I straighten the seams of my stockings. In truth, I am
taking aim with the toe of my right bootie. It is loaded with truth serum. The
sooner I take this guy down, the better. This place gives me a bad case of the
creeps, and I want out of here fast—

Ah, darn! His cell phone just buzzed. I wave him
off as he excuses himself to answer it.

In one of the mirrored balls hanging from the
ceiling, I see that he is almost at the door when he freezes. His back
straightens. Then slowly he turns around.

He has a wary look on his face. He doesn’t think
I see him as he plucks one of the pitchforks from the wall. And steps up behind
me—

But I’m too quick for him, swinging the largest
of the mirrored balls toward his skull.

It knocks him down but not out. The pitchfork
skitters on the slippery floor. As I lunge for it, he grabs my ankle, and I
fall hard—

Damn. These. Heels…

Copyright © 2011 by Josie Brown. Published in May 2011 by Signal Press. All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Author.

————————————————-



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Murder. Suspense. Sex. And some handy household tips.

 
The Housewife Assassin's Handbook
(Book 1) 
Signal Press 

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Special Memorial Day Excerpt, from The Housewife Assassin’s Guide to Gracious Killing

Prince-harry-with-shirt

With Memorial Day weekend right around the corner,  I thought you'd enjoy this excerpt from the second book in my Housewife Assassin series, Guide to Gracious Killing. It's a perfectly tasty little morsel because it includes a bit of military derring-do, along with a visit (appropriately timed) by Great Britain's Prince Harry.

Enjoy,

— Josie

Chapter 1
Breaking Bad Hostessing Habits

 

Every woman wants to be
the perfect hostess and frets over her inadequacies when it comes to the
gracious art of entertaining. Pshaw! A little forethought and a few hours of
planning make it as easy as cherry pie!

There is, however, one
ironclad rule every hostess must follow:

Make all your guests
wish they never had to leave.

Especially in a coffin.
With a bullet lodged in their heads.

 

“You’re quite a saucy minx!” Prince Harry’s ale-slurred
come-on can barely be heard over the techno-vibe emanating from a
starship-worthy console of the Ivy Lounge rooftop’s head-bobbing deejay. “What
say you give me a peek as to where your tattoo ends?”

His head is cocked downward, as if it might give
him the ex-ray vision he’ll need in order to see the rattle on the faux-tatt’ed
snake drawn from my belly to nether regions that lay under my thong bikini.

“You’re a cheeky sod. I do have a face, you
know.” I snap my fingers in front of his nose, in order to draw his eyes
northward.

I’ve succeeded, sort of. But come on, already.
The diplomacy born and bred into the Prince of Wales can’t beat two millennia
of innate urges and four pints of Guinness.

His eyes linger below my neck, albeit above my
abdomen.

When, finally, our eyes meet, I lean in and
whisper, “You show me yours, and I’ll show you mine.”

I’m lying, even if he doesn’t know it—yet.

His outright laugh is accompanied with a shake
of his head, and a tug at the waistline of his briefs. “No tats under these
trollies, I’m afraid. Sorry to disappoint.”

I finger his briefs longingly and then sigh.
“I’m sure you’ll make it up to me somehow.”

His smile is his vow not to disappoint.

God save the queen…

It’s no secret the prince has been stateside
with his Royal Air Force unit, learning the latest tricks and treats of the
AH-64D Apache helicopter: his vehicle of choice for his upcoming tour of duty
in Afghanistan. The soldiers completed their training today. Tomorrow they head
home. To celebrate, the soldiers are here, in San Diego, which is just a couple
of hours west of their training base, the Naval Air Facility at El Centro.

Seems some chatter, intercepted by MI6, has led British
intelligence to deduce the prince is the latest target of “the Leprechaun,” a
notorious assassin affiliated with the Irish terrorist cell known as 32CSM. If
the Leprechaun succeeds in picking off the spare to the throne, then once again
the always-thin strand of peace between Ireland and Great Britain will be
ripped to shreds.

If it happens on our side of the pond, the U.S.
will have mud on its face, not to mention the bluest of blood on its hands.

So yep, I have to stop the Leprechaun before he
gets lucky.

My employer, the freelance black ops agency
known in the field as Acme Corporation, paid big bucks to the club owners so I
could be up close and personal with the prince. My goal is not to shag, let
alone snag, Harry the Hottie. It’s to save his adorable hide from a possible
assassination attempt.

The prince leans in, close enough to ask in a
seductive albeit ale-sodden growl, “Want me to sign your bikini?”

I look down between my breasts. “Oops, forgot my
pen. But you seem to be carrying one, in your pants pocket. Or maybe you’re
just happy to see me.”

He’s laughing so hard his last gulp of Guinness
goes down the wrong way.

“Prince Charming has a one-track mind.” Jack
Craig’s snarl comes in loud and clear through the tiny microphone in my ear. As
the team leader for this Acme mission, he’s close by, but far enough away no
potential assassin can spot him.

Trust me, there is a hitter lurking nearby.

Jack is also my main squeeze, which is why he’s
growling about my having to play the coquette while under deep cover (in this
bikini, I’m talking figuratively if not literally) as one of the nightclub’s
VIP bottle girls. More specifically, this is one mission he’d wished I hadn’t
accomplished—become Harry the Hottie’s pick-up du jour.

Needless to say, the club’s real bottle girls
are pea green with envy. They can’t figure out how this newbie became
Cinderella of this Century.

If I told them my aim and my first-degree black
belt status had something to do with it, would they believe me? Probably not.
All they see is that I’m just this side of Cougarville, which means Harry is
less discriminating than they had hoped.

For once, I’m glad Jack isn’t here, in the
cordoned-off VIP section. One involuntary muscle flex and prince’s all-too-obvious
brawny goon squad—three of his Royal Air Force mates—would be on top of Jack,
like suds on ale. 

At MI6’s behest, we’ve kept the fact he’s a
target from Harry, for now, anyway. This, I’m sure, is why he feels so
cocksure. This mission wouldn’t have been so hard if the prince weren’t so
insistent about partying “like an ordinary surfer bloke,” is how he so
preciously puts it.      

Until now, the natives have been awed as much by
his regular dude personality as his title. But just as the deejay ratchets up
the hip-hop club mix, six drunken sorority sisters stroll our way. One of the
girls, a Kate Middleton lookalike, pierces me with a jealous glare.

I stare back and smile, as if to say, Take the
hint. Get lost.

Her eyes shift from me to one of Harry’s RAF
buds. She waves coyly at him, and he’s smitten. Smirking back, he nods her
over. She squeals and grabs the hand of one of her girlfriends.

In no time at all, she and her besties have
jumped the red velvet rope. They toss themselves onto the prince’s entourage,
who don’t seem to be fighting them off too hard.

In fact, they’re snapping their fingers at me
with drink orders for their new arm charms.

“Not good.” Jack’s warning in my ear is just
loud enough for me to here.

“Tell me something I don’t know,” I mutter back.

“How about this?” Jack is now shouting into my
earpiece. “You’ve lost Prince Harry.”

He’s right.

The prince seems captivated by a petite, busty
blond beauty. Even in heels, she barely reaches his chest. She had pulled him
out onto the dance floor for a throbbing sex-drenched hip grinder, Andree
Belle’s “Go Go Gadget Heart.”

The strobe lights and smoke machine make it hard
to follow them in the crowd. Then I see them, against one wall. The buxom
little tart drapes her arms around his shoulders and hugs him close, as if
she’ll never let him go.

Apparently, too close. I shove my way through
the crowd until I’m close enough to hear Harry’s woozy cry. “Blimey, you’re no
bird! You’ve got a wanker!”

Before I can pull him away, the prince is pricked
on the neck with something his partner has pulled from her cleavage. Harry’s
groan is loud. I smell smoke, and then the lights go out. But not before the
last strobe catches the triumphant look on his partner’s face.

 “Oh my
God, Jack! The woman with Harry—she’s—not a she! She’s—”

“I know! I saw it, too! The Leprechaun!”

Proof it pays to hit the M.A.C. counter before a
night on the town.

 And to
hang out where the lights are always low.

Everyone is screaming and shoving their way to
the exits, leaving me room to follow the Leprechaun, who is dragging Harry in
the opposite direction up against a wall.

“It’s too dark to see where they went,” I shout
to Jack. “Does anything show up on the club’s security cams?”

“I’m looking now. In the meantime, check the wall
for a hidden pocket door. The schematic of this club shows a few of them on
every level. I’m sure the Leprechaun had his exit scoped out in advance.”

While Jack scans the feeds from the security
cameras, I skim the walls with my hands. Finally, I find it: a tiny catch,
waist high.

I pull it open it just in time to see the
Leprechaun heaving Harry down a long corridor.

He may not be used to running in heels, but I
am. If only I wasn’t running in a bikini, too.

“Too many wobbly bits,” I mutter under my
breath.

It’s inappropriate for Jack to be laughing now,
but he can’t help it. “Just two. And they’re a sight to behold. Prince Charming
will be upset he slept through it.”

The thought of Harry in the French-manicured
hands of an assassin who can start the United Kingdom and Ireland down another
bloody path of un-neighborly relations has me picking up my pace. Unlike the
Leprechaun, I’m smart enough to ditch my high heels. But I’m still not fast
enough to reach them before the Leprechaun rolls him into the backseat of a
dark BMW and screeches off.

I can hear Jack slapping the wall with his fist.
“Aw, damn! We lost them!”

“Nope, I slipped a GPS tracker in the prince’s
trollies.”

“You did what… in his—what?”

“Oh, don’t worry, I didn’t peek. I’ll meet you
around the corner.”

What’s a little white lie between fake husband
and wife?

Before he can say another word, I snap off my
earpiece and run down the block.

 * * *

The naval base’s commanding officer is cussing
up a storm, something about blue-blooded playboy flyboys and horny co-eds.

When, finally, all the steam is out of him, Jack
says in the calmest voice possible, “It looks as if they’re headed for Mexico,
and they’ve got the jump on us. They’re changing vehicles every ten or so
miles, which indicates they don’t know about the tracker. Not yet, anyway. We
can catch them in a 64D, sir.”

Before the CO can let loose with yet another
tsunami of swear words, I hand him my cell phone. His nods and mutters, indicating
he’s heard Acme’s client—also his boss—loud and clear:

Put whatever we need at our disposal.

We grab Charlie Harcourt-Smythe (he’s the
soberest of the RAF pilots) and head to the airstrip. Because of the
sensitivity of the mission, we’ll keep it to that: no FBI, no CIA, and
certainly no local law enforcement. The prince has had enough photo ops for one
visit.

I’ve traded in my bikini for a snug
wind-resistant flight suit. He never did sign my bikini. Maybe later. If it’s
not too late already. 

(c) 2012 Josie Brown. All rights reserved. This excerpt may not be resold or redistributed without prior written permission from Josie Brown or Signal Press Books (info@signaleditorial.com).

 


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TGIF Excerpt: Scotty is dying. Time for Martin to cross the bridge into the 21st Century.

KirkWithPhaser
My husband, Martin, isn't one of those men who must have the latest/greatest in technology. Nor must he demonstrate his manliness with boy toys that are always the biggest, and therefore presumed the best (phallically speaking).

Which brings me to the death of Scotty–an appropriate topic, now that the latest Star Trek Movie ("Into Darkness") is in movie theaters.

No, I don't mean Scotty, the good ship Enterprise's engineer (thank goodness, because I really really love love love Simon Pegg in the role). 

I mean Martin's cell phone, a relic he calls "Scotty," as a quaint reference to the phasers carried by the Star Trek crew. You see, his phone is that tiny.

And it ispossibly as old as the original TV show itself.

Okay, certainly it's not THAT old. Besides, back then there were no cell phones, not to mention the first ones were attached to suitcases, so that would defeat his purpose of carrying the tiniest phone he could find.

In fact, his current cell is so tiny that texting on it (yes, at least it allows him to text, but only predictively) is a tribulation, despite his opposable-thumb dexterity. (He's right up there with the apes and chimps, so my mother was wrong about him.)

And the darn thing certainly ain't "smart." He can't get The Internets, and the pictures it takes look like they were pulled out of an elephant's ass.

Bottom line: Scotty is dying.

It's showing its wonkiness by asking to "Please Insert Sim Card" when it already has one. Or sometimes the screen goes white (yes, at least, originally it was in color). Other times, the message shows appears upside down.

"Honey, Scotty is dying," I tell him in a soothing tone.

"But I hate the new phones! They're too big," he whines "Much too bulky for a man to carry in his pocket."

"Too bad," I respond. "It's dying. That's okay. It lived long and prospered. But if you're waiting for another cell the size of a Star Trek phaser gun, youve got another thing coming. If you need something to carry it in, I'll lend you one of my purses."

Needless to say, this is not the answer he's looking for. 

If he could, he'd wait it out, until cells got small again. Until then, he's still got to reach out and touch someone with something that receives messages that aren't smoke signals, so down to the Verizon store we go.

Speaking of dying, I've got a great excerpt for you today. It comes from Book 2 of The Housewife Assassin series, Guide to Gracious Killing. In it, my heroine, Donna Stone, is charged with protecting  the Russian president from assassins while he's the guest of an American billionaire. Of course, both an assassin and the billionaire make their appearance at exactly the wrong time: while Donna is trying to take a shower.

Awkward.

 
HAH-2-Book-Set (4)Enjoy it. And if you do, feel free to buy it. 

In fact, if you haven't yet read Book 1, The Housewife Assassin's Handbook you can get it free right now, either by itself, or along with Book 2, in The Housewife Assassin's Killer 2-Book Set.

 

EXCERPT

I’ve just clicked on the dryer again, when
there’s another knock on the door. I crack it open to find a maid standing
there, with an armful of towels. “Shall I take them into the bathroom, Madame?”
Her accent is slightly British, which is par for the course around here.

“No, that’s okay. I’ll take them.”

She smiles and hands them to me.

That’s when I see it—a small tattoo of a wolf on
her left arm.

Her eyes follow mine. She senses I know who she
is.

Her arm comes up toward my face. I block it with
my forearm, then kick her in the gut. She falls back, slamming into the
dresser. This stuns her, but just for a second. She reaches behind her and
yanks the dryer from the electrical socket. In no time at all, she’s got the
cord wrapped around both her wrists and arms.

“You won’t stop me from killing him.” Her vow is
soft, but deadly. “With what he’s done to others like me? That pig does not
deserve to live!”

“Trust me I get it. But it’s not happening here,
or now.”

We both know I can’t talk her out of her mission
anymore than she can talk me out of mine: to save Asimov’s sorry ass.

We circle each other warily, assessing each
other’s weaknesses: She’s got more bulk than me, but she’s also slower. I’m
taller, too. Best yet, I’m now up against the dresser. Obviously, she considers
this a weakness because she charges me.

Even with the cord wrapped around my neck, all
it takes is one squirt of my spray cologne in her eyes to blind her.

She stumbles into the bathroom, dragging me with
her into the shower, where she turns on the water, full force. She’s hoping to
wash the sting out of her eyes.

What she doesn’t count on is my ability to kick
her into the shower.

She bangs her head against the marble wall.
Before she comes to her senses, I untangle myself from the cord, plug the dryer
into an electrical socket, and throw it into the tub.

Wolverine’s death mask stare and the smell of
her frying skin sends me gagging from the room followed by a shower of sparks
as the electrical system shorts out.

I shut the bathroom door, then lay down on the
bed to catch my breath.

This time when there’s a tap on the door, I
throw it open, to let Jack in.

But no. It’s Jonah Breck.

I pull my robe tightly around me. “My husband is
out right now.”

He smirks. “I know, dear. That’s why I’m here.
Don’t worry, we’ve got all the time in the world. He’s with the Japanese
defense minister, who is somewhat long-winded.” From behind him, he pulls a
bottle of Tattinger’s and two champagne glasses. “I presume you’re finding your
accommodations to your liking.”

“In all honesty, there’s a short in the
bathroom’s electrical system—”

Before I can say another word, he has backed me
onto the bed. When my robe falls open, he whips the sash out from around me.
Before I know it, he’s flipped me onto my stomach.

“I could use that drink right now,” I gasp, as
he binds my wrists with the sash.

“We’ll celebrate afterward.” I hear him fumbling
with his zipper. “You will, anyway. Trust me, I’ll have you begging for more.”

Promises, promises.

I struggle and try to sweet talk him some sense
into him, but no use. He’s got me pinned. I’ve just about given up any hope of
the Calvary coming when there is a sharp knock on the door.

“Mrs. Stone?” Both Breck and I recognize
Edwina’s voice. “Mrs. Stone, your daughter requests you come immediately.”

“Answer her.” Breck’s hot breath sears my ear.

I shout, “I’ll—I’ll be right there.”

“I’ll have to escort you. The girls are eating
in the south wing media room tonight, and with security as tight as it is… Well,
you can just imagine.”

Breck mutters a curse as he rolls off me. Even
as he unties me with one hand, the other gently follows the curve of my ass—

When he smacks it hard, I swallow the urge to
cry out.

“A love tap. There’s more where that came from.
You’ll love the tour of my dungeon.”

He’s got a dungeon? His corporate bio doesn’t
mention a sadistic streak, but yeah, okay, makes sense. 

I leap up and grab my dress, which is hanging
over the chair.

Breck smiles as I struggle into it. “Allow me to
zip you up.”

I suppress a shudder at the thought of his hands
anywhere on me. Instead, I nod.

He presses the zipper into my skin as he inches
it up, ever so slowly. When he’s done, I feel his lips grazing my neck. They
linger there as he breathes in the scent of my skin, sweat, and disgust.

How I long to smash that champagne bottle over
my host’s head, but seriously, what kind of guest would that make me?

And besides, I can’t deal with the disposal of
two dead bodies tonight.

Before I leave, I flip off Elvis Costello.

I can just imagine Ryan and Arnie’s shock and
awe at seeing Breck slithering out of the room.

I don’t even want to think about Jack’s
reaction.

Let alone what he’ll say about the fried maid in
the shower. I guess I have a lot of explaining to do.

c) 2012 Josie Brown. All rights reserved. This excerpt may not be resold or redistributed without prior written permission from Josie Brown or Signal Press Books (info@signaleditorial.com).

 


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Guide to Gracious Killing 
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Hump Day Haiku: “Verbal Smackdown”

Crying

 

His words hit, like stones.

I pummel him with my tears.

 Yes, it's true. Love hurts

– Josie

 

 


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To celebrate the launch of 
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I'm giving away a $100 gift card
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Click here for details…

 

 

 


TGIF Excerpt: What do you do when your car goes into a lake?

Woman-floating
I've had three near-death experiences in water. The third one occurred when I was fifteen. I drove my boyfriend's car into a lake.

To top it off, I can't really swim.

Thank God for the dog paddle.

The lake was deep, but small enough that I could make it to the side–with the help of my boyfriend. Thank God he was smart enough to jump in the back seat and kick out a door before the water pressure made it impossible. I was an idiot. I thought the damn car would float, like the ones in the Volkswagen ads.

He had a Chevy Impala.

I guess I channeled that experience in this excerpt. It's one of my favorites from The Housewife Assassin's Killer Christmas Tips.  'Tis not the season. Then again, Death never takes a holiday.

— Josie

EXCERPT

Zoran is a chatterbox. He hasn’t quit talking
since we pulled out of the garage. Having dropped his fake British accent, his
sentences slip and slide over Slavic pronouns and badass claims.

I make it easy for him. I can’t talk, let alone
move. In other words, I’m a captive audience, both literally and figuratively.

Lucky me.

“I would have liked to have given you a truth
serum first, to find out who sent you. The Muslims? The Croats? Surely it
wasn’t my old friends, the Serbs? And it can’t be the Mexican government. They
have bigger worries than the disappearance of a few grape pickers. If only the
injection I gave you allowed you to nod at my questions, but it won’t wear off
for a couple of hours.”

Nod? I wish I could reach up and pull the tongue
out of his head. We’ve been in the car for at least an hour now, and he’s been
giving me a science lesson on what to expect while on his operating table.

He describes his favorite instrument: a Blue Max
eighteen-inch 45 cc Heavy Duty gas chainsaw. He uses it to chop up the bodies
after cutting open his victims and removing vital organs, while they’re still
alive of course. He explains that, like me, they were first given a
neuromuscular block to paralyze them. But he’s such a sicko that he skips the
anesthesia that would block their pain.

“We should be at my ranch in another hour.” As
if reading my mind, he adds, “The drug won’t wear off before we get there. And
by the way, any friends who may come looking for you will be disappointed. You
see, the cabin is not in my name. It belonged to a now-deceased fellow whom I
met while fishing on Big Bear Lake. The lonely old hermit died of a sudden
heart attack while feeding his hogs! They ate him too. Can you imagine that?
You see, to those animals, human flesh is a delicacy, compared to the garbage
they ate before I came along. As you can imagine, I keep them well fed. Tonight
they will be feasting, ecstatically I might add, on your leftovers.”

Not if I can help it.

Seems I’ll have some help with Los Angeles’
typical late Friday afternoon traffic. As the I-10 crawls east toward San
Bernardino Valley, every now and again Zoran looks back at me in the rear-view
mirror. I keep my face totally still. The whole drive I’ve been memorizing
turns, and looking out the window for glimpses of expressway signs.

I vow to get back to my children. My
twelve-year-old daughter, Mary, and my ten-year-old son, Jeff, need to be picked
up from basketball practice. And before after-school pickup, I was going to
stop at a toy store in East South Central, which, I’ve been told, still has a
few Furbys on the shelf. I have every intention on watching five-year-old
Trisha squeal with delight when she opens one on Christmas morning.

And of course, Jack knows Ratko was on my to-do
list today. If I don’t show up, he’ll be frantic. From the day of Trisha’s
birth and until before Jack came into their lives, I’d lied to my children and
told them their father had gone away, “on business.”

Did it stop them from feeling deserted? No.

If Ratko has his way and I disappear into the
gullets of some hogs in the middle of nowhere, once again they’ll be
devastated.

This resolve drives my desire to move any
appendage. By the time we turn onto State Road 330 going north, I’m able to
bend a random finger, to curl a single toe. Twenty minutes later, by the time
he has veered left onto State Road 18, I can finally flex my ankle, and then my
wrist. Now, if only I could move my arms…

I can, just barely.

“Almost there,” he chortles gaily. “By the way,
the hogs love the sound of the saw. To them, it’s the dinner bell. When I turn
it on, you’ll hear them squealing with delight. Then again, maybe not, since
you’ll be screaming even louder.” He pauses, as if a new thought has just
struck him. Too bad it isn’t a hammer instead. “Tell me, Mrs. Pitt or whatever
your name is, are you a drinker? No problem if you can’t nod. I guess I’ll know
soon enough. The telltale sign is any swelling of the liver. If so, I won’t be
able to sell it. That’s okay. I’ll enjoy it myself, with grilled onions, and a
hint of dill—”

The thought of being the main course in Ratko
Zoran’s dinner propels me upward.

Between the crux of my elbow and the driver-side
headrest, Ratko is in a headlock from which he cannot move. He chokes and
flails, but I refuse to let go. Although the car swerves all over the road at
sixty-miles an hour, I hold tight. Then, on the count of three I wrench his
head fast, to the right, until I hear the snap that tells me I’ve broken his
neck.

Only after he chortles his last gasp do I look
up. Before my death grip, Zoran had steered the car onto the Stanfield Cutoff,
a sliver of a road that unites both sides of Bear Lake at its narrowest
juncture. The car sidles off the unprotected shoulder and into the lake.

There is no time to jump out before it nose-dives
into the lake.

The BMW sinks below the lake’s cold, choppy
waves. The water pressure against the doors keep it sealed, like a tomb. With
the electrical system dead, I can’t open a window, either. Soon the oxygen will
be exhausted. I can hold my breath for three minutes, tops.

Still, I’ll be damned if I’m going to be found
in the bottom of this lake with this war criminal. Not with Christmas just
around the corner.

I’m pounding on the window when it hits me. My diamond.

Immediately, I etch around the back window with
my ring. Then I brace myself on the back of the front seat before kicking it
out with both feet.

The force of the kick pushes out the glass, and
me with it. As the water flows into the vacuum of dead air I leave behind, I
feel myself being sucked into the dark, frigid abyss. I force myself to open my
eyes, to look for light, anywhere.

Finally, over my head, I see something. My lungs
burn as I kick with all my strength, toward the brightness.

I burst up out of the water like a buoy submerged
too deep, for too long. I cough out water and fear while bobbing in the gentle
waves of the lake.

My teeth chatter as I swim to shore. I don’t
care that I look like a drowned rat. I’m still alive.

When I reach the road, I head west, the way we
came. I’ll keep running until I come across a store, or someone with a cell
phone, so that I can let Jack and the kids know I may be late, but that I’ll be
home, soon.

They must be worried sick about me.

*

“Mom! Where have you been? We’ve been waiting
here since basketball practice ended two hours ago!”

Jeff’s way of saying Thanks, Mom for picking me up, and boy do I miss you and love you and
can’t live without you
leaves a lot to be desired.

Yes, admittedly, I’m late for my turn at
carpooling Jeff and his two pals, Morton Smith and Cheever Bing, from
basketball practice.

Hey, that’s what happens when a hit doesn’t go
according to plan.

I would have been much later, too, if a trucker
hauling artichokes and Roma tomatoes from the Central Valley hadn’t been kind
enough to give me a lift off the side of a lonely two-lane blacktop.

But just my luck, I hitched a ride with the only
trucker in the world who sees no need to have a cell phone when he's got his
trusty old Cobra CB radio, so I had no way to call Jack and let him know the
mission was accomplished, sort of.

When I hopped in the trucker’s cab, he warned me
he could take me only as far as downtown Los Angeles. But he changed his mind
and dropped me across the street from Ratko’s office in Beverly Hills when he
realized I knew every song on his Best of
Bonnie Raitt
CD.

He sighed and wiped away a tear as I finished
the last mournful stanza of “Not the Only One.”

“It’s as if Bonnie is sitting right here beside
me.”

“Thanks for the compliment,” I said, nodding
shyly. I may not be a redhead (at least, not today) but the raspy voice was
natural enough after that frigid dip in Big Bear Lake.

Little did the trucker know how much that
particular song means to me. Only recently I found out about Jack’s unresolved
feelings for Valentina.

To put it bluntly, I’m not his “only one.”

No doubt he’d claim the same about me. Not only
did my ex, Carl, let me in on Jack’s little secret in the hope of breaking us
up, he’s also made it clear that he plans on staying in my life, despite my
telling him to get lost.

Even his position as number three on every
terrorist watch list hasn’t kept him from wooing me, threatening me, and
shooting me.

I know he’s a crack shot, so it must be true
that love is blind.

Considering how many of my bullets have just
grazed him, I guess I have a few unresolved issues as well.

Now that I’m on dry land and within arms reach,
does my son even notice that I’m sopping wet from head to toe?

Nah. That would mean he’d have to look up from
the video game he’s playing on his cell phone.

Okay, I can play a game as well. “So sorry! I
was out Christmas shopping.”

His anger dissipates when he hears this. I can
tell by the silent shrug that accompanies his quick glance into the back of my Honda
SUV.

To dodge the fact that there are no store bags
anywhere in sight, I ask, “Why didn’t you call you father?”

“I did! But when I told him you weren’t picking
up your phone, he sounded sort of worried and hung up fast."

"Call him back and tell him I'm here."
The last thing I need is for Jack to worry about me, now that I'm safe and sound.

As he hits Jack's digits, Cheever pipes up. “And
my mom should be here any minute." Then he adds with a smirk, “But she
sounded pissed. You know, she schedules her mani-pedi when it’s your turn to
drive, so she can gossip with Mrs. Swift and Mrs. Cockhead… um, I mean Mrs. Coxhead.”

Cheever’s deliberate faux pas gets the desired effect. Morton snorts the last of his Red
Bull through his nose and almost chokes on it.

I wince when I hear this. Not because Morton
might suffocate on my watch (frankly, a loss of oxygen to his brain may calm
down the kid’s libidinous fantasies), but because it means I’ll get yet another
tongue lashing from Penelope Bing for showing up late to carpool.

There’s still time to beat her fair and square.
If he’s already at our house, and I fill his belly with a nourishing bowl of
Campbell’s tomato soup and Kraft grilled cheese sandwiches, she’ll have nothing
to bitch about.

I drill the boys with my best do as I say look. “Jump in! Now! I’ve
got a pot of hot soup and sandwiches waiting—”

“What about Mary?”

“Oh!” How could I forget my eldest daughter?
Thank goodness Trisha, my youngest, had an after-school play date with her pal
Janie Breck, whose mother owns the largest McMansion in Hilldale. “Well, where
is Mary? I asked her to wait here, with you.”

Cheever chortles like a hyena. “Making out under
the bleachers with Trevor Smith—”

Both Jeff and Morton slap their hands over his
mouth. “Shut your piehole, Cheever! They paid us a buck each to keep quiet,
remember?”

His bites to their palms have them yelping.
“Yeah, well, I warned them. Anything under a fiver, I have a selective memory.”

Mary’s crush on Trevor Smith, Morton’s brother
and the lead forward on Hilldale Middle School’s Varsity Wildcats basketball
team, grows exponentially with every three-pointer he makes. The last thing I
need to hear is that Mary and Trevor’s ongoing attraction for each other has
gone from shyly flirtatious wordplay to outright foreplay.

I jump out of the car and run into the gym. It’s
empty, but I hear moaning, and pain has nothing to do with it. I move quickly
but silently under the bleachers until I spot them huddled together on the
floor, eyes closed and lips pressed together.

By her fierce concentration, my guess is that
it’s not the first time she’s been kissed.

This realization is both sweet and bitter for
me. While your first kiss is a rite of passage that every girl dreams of, every
parent contemplates it with both angst and pride. Yes, we are proud that
someone sees the beauty in our child. But we dread the thought of her
experiencing heartbreak, or that she may grow up much too fast, and much too
soon.

When Mary fell for this guy, where was I? Doing
laundry? Watching Trisha attempt pirouettes in ballet class? Saving the world
from terrorists?

Wherever I was, it certainly doesn’t matter now.
Neither do my feelings about it. She has a right to grow up, fall in love, and
make her own mistakes.

Within reason! My goodness, she’s still twelve
years old.

And in time, she’ll understand she has nothing
to hide from me, that she can always share her celebrations with the one who
loves her as no one else can. She will realize I welcome every rite of passage
on her life journey.

Had my mother felt the same way about me? I’ll
never know. She died of cancer when I was only eleven. I guess that’s why I see
no reason for chastising Mary for keeping this very special memory a secret.

But I’ll break every finger on Trevor’s hand if
it reaches its final destination, her breast.

“Ouch!” Trevor cries, as I yank his pinky finger
as far back as it will go. “Mrs. Stone?
What are you doing here?”

At the sound of my name, Mary’s eyes pop open.
When she sees me, she practically leaps straight up in the air.

“Mom! I didn’t expect you—”

“Obviously not.” I give Trevor’s hand one more
hard twist, behind his back, and point him toward the exit. “Get in the car,
now. Both of you. Trevor, I’m dropping you and Morton at your house.”

“No, Mom! Trevor was going to help me with my
math homework!”

“I think Trevor has taught you enough for one
day. Let’s get moving.”

Mary glowers, but she follows Trevor out the
door.

We’re too late. By the time we’re back outside,
Penelope Bing is already there. With her is her usual momtourage, Tiffy Swift
and the unfortunately named Hayley Coxhead.

“So you finally remembered you’d left the
children out here in the cold to fend for themselves.” Penelope’s glare could
melt ice.

Tiffy’s laser-sharp gaze sweeps over me. “My
God, Donna, you’re a mess! You look as if you took a swim in some lake!”

I’m envisioning what it would have been like,
had she been down in the icy depths of Big Bear, as opposed to me.

Or worse yet for her, with me.

The thought puts a smile on my face. “Sorry I’m
so late. I got caught in a flash flood, east of the city. Christmas shopping.
But now that I’m here, you ladies are welcomed to go back to your spa
treatments.”

“As if,” Hayley mutters. “Our pedicures are
ruined! See?” She arches a foot in my direction.

Her paint job looks fine to me. It’s even got
some jewel inlays. A whiff of Hayley’s breath confirms my suspicions. Not only
were they done with their mani-pedi’s, they had time to hit a happy hour as
well.

They’re lucky I’m in a holiday mood. “Yeah, your
foot is quite a mess. Let me make it up to you. Why don’t you ladies finish up
with your appointment? Penelope, I don’t mind Cheever hanging with us for
another hour or so. He can stay for dinner, too.”

Penelope purses her lips as she considers my
generous offer. The tilt of her head brings the others into a huddle with her.
If it were a full moon, I’d be convinced that I was watching the first scene in
Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Granted, I
don’t hear any chanting of Double,
double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Instead, they’re
debating the cons of leaving Penelope’s precious cargo in my obviously
not-so-capable hands with the pros of downing yet another pitcher of mojitos,
possibly delivered by a bow-tied but bare-chested waiter at their favorite
watering hole, the Hilldale Chippendales Club.

The waiter has nothing on Jack. This is
blatantly obvious when his Lamborghini comes roaring into the parking lot.

His deep green eyes scan every face, but his
boyish grin breaks out only when, finally, he catches sight of me behind the
children.

In a flash, he’s out of the car. His long,
muscular legs moves like pistons as he runs to me. Tall and broad-shouldered,
he arches down over me as he takes me into his large, strong arms. His deep, hot
kiss leaves me limp with the longing that comes with the realization that life
is too fleeting, and passion is its most precious reward.

Our love spell is broken by Morton’s hiccup.

When I open my eyes, I find Jeff and his friends
staring at me, as if I’m some sort of exotic creature. My son is still
fascinated that there is actually someone in this world who sees his mother as
an object of desire.

Mary’s look doesn’t waver either. It’s not the
wide-eyed grin of her brother’s, but a scowl. “Maybe you two should get a room,”
she mutters under her breath.

I know what she’s thinking. At least her display
of affection wasn’t quite so public.

She’s right. The sooner we get a hold of
ourselves, the better. Reluctantly, Jack and I resume the sort of practiced
nonchalance that comes as second nature to parents of tweens who are
embarrassed by every move we make.

It takes a moment for Penelope, Tiffy and Hayley
to pick their jaws up off the pavement. They still find it hard to believe the
neighborhood wet dream is married to me, the one woman who refuses to
acknowledge their superiority, let alone kowtow to the petty demands they make
through their fiefdom, the Hilldale Women’s Club. 

“Well… I guess it’s okay, now that Jack’s home,
too.” Penelope’s shrug is her way of showing me she’s doing me a favor. “Just
remember my rules, Donna. Only vegan! And it’s got to be all natural. No
preservatives and nothing genetically engineered or modified! And I presume
you’ve already forgotten that Cheever is allergic to thin-skinned fruit, dairy,
peanuts, and gluten. It’s okay, since I’ve got it all written down, somewhere.”
She rummages through her purse until she finds what she’s looking for. One of
the laminated cards she carries with her at all times and thrusts into the
hands of teachers and play date parents, per her attorney’s instructions.

With threats of a lawsuit hanging over one’s
head, is it any wonder the only thing Cheever’s hosts will offer him is a glass
of filtered water?

“That’s okay, Penelope. Cheever plays at our
home a lot. I’ve got several of those cards, remember?”

What I really mean is had. After the fifth one, I’ve gotten into the habit of tossing
them in the trash. Besides, if Penelope saw what Cheever gobbled down when he’s
out of her sight, she’d faint. But hey, she’s a mom, so short of tackling her
husky little guy, I’ll gladly follow her rules.

Besides, stating the menu up front covers my
ass. “I was planning on serving tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.”

“No to the sandwiches, since they contain dairy
and gluten. But he can have the soup. Feel free to double his portion.”

As portly as Cheever is, I’m guessing he’ll ask
for seconds, no problem.

Despite recent Collagen injections, Tiffy
attempts a frown. “Can he, really? Aren’t tomatoes a fruit? And if so, aren’t they
thin-skinned?”

“Oh my God! Great point, Tiff!” Penelope tears
up at the thought that she may have colluded in the demise of her own son, in
front of witnesses no less. “Do you have vegetable broth, with no noodles?”

I nod solemnly.

All three of the women give sighs of relief.
Tiffy’s empathy certainly wins her Brownie points with Queen Bee Bing, whereas
no one doubts Hayley’s loud heave has more to do with her desire to quench her
thirst and flirt with the waiter.

As they peel out of the parking lot, I glance
over at Jack. “I’m so glad you showed up! I’ve got one more stop to make before
the store closes. Would you mind taking the kids home?”

Even as he chastely kisses my forehead, his
smile twists into a grimace. “No can do, Now that you’re back on the radar
with, I presume, mission accomplished.”

I toss out a thumbs-up.

“There’s another major fire to put out, Donna.
Ryan wants everyone in Acme’s offices as soon as we can get there.”

“But what about the kids? And Trisha needs a
pick-up, too.”

“Tell you what, I’ll get Ryan and the others to
meet us at our place in, say, half an hour. In the meantime, go run your errand
with this bunch, and I’ll grab Trisha from Janie’s house.”

“That works for me. The store with the only
Furby left in all of Los Angeles closes in twenty minutes. If we leave now, we
still have time to make it.” I turn to the kids. “Okay, gang, climb onboard.
We’ve got to make one stop before we go home.”

As they scurry into the car, I grab Mary’s arm
before she has a chance to climb into the back row of the SUV, next to Trevor.
“You’re riding shotgun. The Smith brothers can sit all the way in the back.
Jeff and Cheever, take the middle row.”

“Not fair!” Jeffrey protests. “Cheever farts all
the time, and it smells like tofu!”

Mary also opens her mouth to argue, but closes
it just as quickly when she sees the look on my face and realizes I mean
business.

I wonder if the store sells gas masks and
chastity belts, too.

 (c) 2012 Josie Brown. All rights reserved. This excerpt may not be resold or redistributed without prior written permission from Josie Brown or Signal Press Books (info@signaleditorial.com).

 


HAKCTv2

The Housewife Assassin's
Killer Christmas Tips
(Book 3) 

(In online bookstores now!)

Tis the season for murder, mayhem and mistletoe! There will be no peace on Earth if Donna and Jack don’t find a shipping container filled with heat-seeking missiles.

Read an excerpt here, then by it on…

    Buy it on Amazon! Nook-button 

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The Housewife Assassin’s Relationship Survival Guide has a Mother-Daughter talk about (Yep, you guessed it) S-E-X!

Nails1

I love this scene because it says a lot about my heroine, Donna's, relationship with her oldest child, twelve-year-old Mary. And since this book is all about the cause and effect of trust and love, it's a perfect scene to share with you.

I hope you enjoy it!

— Josie

 

EXCERPT

“When
did you first start having sex?” Mary asks.

Her
question causes me to swipe the nail polish brush over her pinky toe, and the
one beside it.

It’s
Day Eight of my lockdown. I was wrong to presume that time would pass quicker
if I painted my nails a different color each day. Initially I was able to
coerce both Mary and Trisha to join me for my daily pampering session, but
yesterday Trisha dropped out, despite the fact that the colour de jour was Disney Villain’s Cruella De Vil.

Her
excuse: “Mommy, Cruella is a meanie. Besides, my toes miss being plain old
pink.” That was her way of telling me I need a new hobby.

Don’t
I know it.

Considering
the subject at hand, I’m okay that today it’s just Mary and me. But let’s face
it, she’s asked a loaded question. Girls have sex so much earlier than we did.
(Well, than I did…) If I answer honestly, she may think I was a slut. Or a
desperate spinster.

 Either way, I come off as a loser.

The
GPS security bracelet on my ankle, coupled with freshly painted toes on my left
foot, hobble me as I stumble over to the French doors that separate the sunroom
from the media room. I lied and told the kids the bracelet was from my doctor,
to strengthen my ankle against some imaginary tendonitis.

Now
I have a bigger issue to fib about: Sex.

I’m
closing the doors so that my ten-year-old son, Jeff, and his pals, Cheever Bing
and Morton Smith, can’t listen in on our discussion. If anything can tear them
away from Minecraft, it’s a discussion about S-E-X by two people of the
opposite sex, especially if one is Jeff’s older sister.

I
settle back down onto the couch and try to collect my thoughts before speaking.
“I waited until I knew I was with ‘the one’.”

I’m
lying, of course. Who the hell knows a guy is “the one” when they’re seventeen?
Or twenty-seven, for that matter.

I
guess the proof I guessed wrong was when Carl left me with three kids.

But
yes, I presumed he was “the one.” What I didn’t count on was his also being Public Enemy Number One.

While
Mary tries to find meaning in my dodge, I add, “Why exactly do you want to
know?”

“Because—”
she pauses. “No reason. I was just wondering.”

Ah,
I see.

Mary
is twelve going on twenty, and that freaks me out. Her quote-unquote steady is
a cute kid named Trevor Smith, the captain of the Hilldale Middle School
varsity basketball team. Right now, I want to break both his arms before he
does something to Mary that he’ll regret, and she will, too.

“Sex
is different from love, Mary.”

“Oh,
Mom!” Mary rolls her eyes. “I know that!”

“Okay,
I’ll take your word for it. So, tell me: why are they different?”

She
stops to think about it. Then: “When you date, some guys only want to see how
far they can get with you. You know…they don’t really treat you as a person.”
She shakes her head sadly. “I don’t want to be that kind of girl.”

I
nod, but say nothing. Inside I’m doing a happy dance because she actually knows
the difference.

“But
I think it’s exciting when a boy—a guy—is
just as sweet on you as you are on him.”

“I
can see that.” I try to keep my tone nonchalant as I drench a cotton ball in
polish remover and wipe off yesterday’s sparkly turquoise from Mary’s left
foot. “But love is different, at different ages and stages of life. And so is
dating. That’s why it’s smart to date more than one guy, so you have some other
experiences for comparison. The good guys always show respect, and never push you
to—to do anything that doesn’t seem right.”

“Did
you date a lot, before you met Dad?”

“Yes,
I’d dated some, but I wasn’t that experienced.” I’m sure the color of my cheeks
is almost as dark and purple as the polish I’m applying to her nails. “I was
twenty when we met, and I was in college. We married within a year, after I
turned twenty-one.”

“Did
you feel you should have waited?”

“No.
At least, not at the time.”

“But
in hindsight, would you have liked to have had more experiences?”

“Yes,
I wish I had. It’s hard to know what’s right for you if you’ve had too few
experiences, or have only experienced one relationship that is not really
working for you.”

Mary
looks up sharply. “But Dad wasn’t wrong for you, was he?”

Ah,
yet another trick question. “Dad has changed a lot over the years. Then again,
I have, too. “You see, Mary, not only must you both grow, you can’t have grown
apart.”

“When
Dad was gone all that time, did you grow apart?”

Her
question rips a tiny tear in my heart. Does she suspect that Jack isn’t Carl
Stone, her father?

I
search her face for the answer. What I see is innocence and curiosity.

And
trust.

It’s
why I can answer her from the bottom of my heart. “To stay in love, you need
respect, and passion, and above all, trust. All the time I waited for him, I
trusted he would come home again.”

Carl
never really came home.

On
the other hand, Jack has proven to me he is worth the wait.

Mary’s
comprehension comes with a slow nod. “Mom, I think Trevor likes me as much as I
like him, but sometimes I catch him looking at other girls, and that makes me
jealous. So I don’t know about the ‘trust’ part. At least, not yet.”

“To
find true love at such a young age is a rare thing. If it’s real, he’ll wait
until you grow into the woman you were meant to be, and he’ll grow up, too.
You’ll stay friends, but have other friends as well: people who make you laugh,
and who you can count on to be there for you, and who will prove their
friendship through trust.  If he stays
your friend, he will be all that, and more.”

Mary
waits until her toes dry, then she kisses me on the cheek and murmurs, “Don’t
worry, Mom. I’m not ready for ‘that’ yet. I’m only asking because I know you’ll
always tell me the truth.”

The truth. Yes, it’s what
we strive to know.

I
pray she never learns the truth about her father.

“Besides,”
she adds, “when the time comes, you’ll be the first to know.”

She
kisses me on the forehead then runs upstairs to do her homework.

Lucky
me.

And no matter
where that first boy hides, I will track him down.

HA-RSG-Final-V2

© 2013 Josie Brown. All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Author.

The Housewife Assassin's
Relationship Survival Guide

(Book 4 of The Housewife Assassin series) 

Buy it on

Amazon.com  BN.com  KoboBooks.com

 Read other excerpts at HousewifeAssassinsHandbook.com

Love this version of Andree Belle singing “Go Go Gadget Heart”…

 

Soft Glow of Electric Sex
Here's one of my fave songtresses and her band, Andree Belle,  doing their thing!  

The song is "Go Go Gadget Heart, which you'll find on her digital album, "The Soft Glow of Electric Sex." Obviously the little techie had his effect on her! Only $7? Such a steal!

In fact, I featured this song in my novel,The Housewife Assassin's Guide to Gracious Killing. 

You can read the excerpt, below.

Josie


 

 

Book 2: The Housewife Assassin's Guide To Gracious Killing – Excerpt


Guide-to-Gracious-Killing-Final
Only $3.99

 Signal Press / In bookstores now!

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 978-0-9740214-4-7  / Digital eBook 

Donna and Jack are in the kind of hot mess that can cause an  international incident:

A nuclear arms summit, hosted by a politically-connected American billionaire industrialist, provides the perfect opportunity for a rogue operative to assassinate of the newly-elected Russian president on US soil. Acme operative Donna Stone's mission:

Seek and exterminate the shooter, before all hell–and World War III–break loose.

Not to mention what happens when Donna files for divorce.

Throw in a couple killer play dates and a few naughty neighbors, you've got a whole lot of fun.

 

Chapter 1: Breaking Bad Hostessing Habits

Every woman wants to be the perfect hostess, and frets over her inadequacies when it comes to the gracious art of entertaining.  Pshaw! A little forethought and a few hours of  planning makes it easy as cherry pie!

There is, however, one ironclad rule that every hostess must follow: make all your guests wish they’d never have to leave.

Especially in a coffin. With a bullet lodged in their heads.

 

Harry Happy Hour“You’re quite a saucy minx!” Prince Harry’s  ale-slurred come-on can barely be heard over the techno-vibe emanating from a starship-worthy console of  the Ivy Lounge rooftop’s head-bobbing deejay.  “What say you give me a peek as to where that tattoo ends?”

His head is cocked downward, as if it might give him the ex-ray vision he’ll need in order to see the rattle on the faux-tatt’ed snake drawn from my belly, which ends somewhere  in the nether regions that lay under my thong bikini.

“You’re a cheeky sod. I do have a face, you know.” I snap my fingers in front of his nose in order to draw his eyes northward.

I’ve succeeded, sort of.  But come on, already: the diplomacy born and bred into the Prince of Wales can’t beat two millennia of innate urges and four pints of Guinness.

His eyes linger below my neck, albeit above my abdomen.

When, finally, our eyes meet, I lean in and whisper, “You show me yours, and I’ll show you mine.”

I’m lying, even if he doesn’t know it—yet.

His outright laugh is accompanied with a shake of his head, and a tug at the waistline of his briefs. “Nothing under these trollies, I’m afraid. Sorry to disappoint.”

I finger his briefs longingly, then sigh. “I’m sure you’ll make it up to me somehow.”

His smile is his vow not to disappoint.

God save the queen…

It’s no secret the prince has been stateside with his Royal Air Force unit, learning the latest tricks and treats of the AH-64D Apache helicopter: his vehicle of choice for his upcoming tour of duty in Afghanistan. Tomorrow the soldiers complete their training and head home. To celebrate, the soldiers are here, in San Diego, which is just a couple of hours west of their training base, the Naval Air Facility at El Centro.

Seems some chatter, intercepted by MI-6, has led the Cousins to deduce that the prince is the latest target of “the Leprechaun,” a notorious assassin affiliated with the Irish terrorist cell known as 32CSM. If the Leprechaun succeeds in picking off the spare to the throne, then once again the always thin strand of peace between Ireland and Great Britain will be ripped to shreds.

If it happens on our side of the pond, the U.S. will have mud on its face, not to mention the bluest of blood on its hands.

So yep, I have to stop the Leprechaun before he gets lucky.

My employer, the freelance black ops agency known in the field as Acme Corporation, paid big bucks to the club owners so that I could be up close and personal with the prince. My goal is not to shag, let alone snag, Harry the Hottie. It’s to save his adorable hide from a possible assassination attempt.

The prince leans in, close enough to ask in a seductive albeit ale-sodden growl, “Want me to sign your bikini?”

I look down between my breasts. “Oops, forgot my pen. But you seem to be carrying one, in your pants pocket. Or maybe you’re just happy to see me.”

He’s laughing so hard his last gulp of Guinness goes down the wrong way.

“Prince Charming has a one-track mind.” Jack Craig’s snarl comes in loud and clear through the tiny microphone in my ear. As the team leader for this Acme Industries mission, he is close by, but far enough away that no potential assassin can spot him.

Trust me, there is an assassin lurking nearby.

Jack is also my main squeeze, which is why he’s growling about my having to play the coquette while under deep cover (in this bikini, I’m talking figuratively if not literally) as one of the nightclub’s VIP bottle girls, and more specifically, the world’s most eligible prince ’s pick-up du jour.

Needless to say, the club’s real bottle girls are pea green with envy. They can’t figure out how this newbie became Cinderella of this Century.

If I told them that my aim and my 1st degree black belt status had something to do with it, would they believe me? Probably not. All they see is that I’m just this side of Cougarville, which means Harry is less discriminating than they had hoped.

For once I’m glad Jack is not here with us, in the cordoned-off VIP section. One involuntary muscle flex and prince’s all too obvious brawny goon squad—three of his Royal Air Force mates—would be on top of him, like suds on ale. 

At MI-6’s behest, we’ve kept that a secret from Harry, for now anyway. Which, I’m sure, is why he feels so cocksure. This mission wouldn’t have been so hard if the prince weren’t so insistent about partying “like an ordinary surfer bloke,” is how he so preciously puts it. 

Thus far the natives have been awed as much by his title as his regular dude  personality.

Just as the deejay ratchets up the hip hop club mix, six drunken sorority sisters stroll our way. One of the girls, a Kate Middleton lookalike, pierces me with a jealous glare.

I stare back and smile, as if to say Take the hint. Get lost.

Her eyes shift from me to one of Harry’s RAF buds. She waves coyly at him, and he’s smitten. Smirking back, he nods her over. She squeals and grabs the hand of one of her girlfriends.

Harry's haremIn no time at all, she and her besties have jumped the red velvet rope. They toss themselves onto the prince’s entourage, who don’t seem to be fighting them off too hard.

In fact, they’re snapping their fingers at me with drink orders for their new arm charms.

“Not good.” Jack’s warning in my ear is just loud enough for me to here.

“Tell me something I don’t know,” I mutter back.

“How about this?” Jack is now shouting into my earpiece. “You’ve lost Prince Harry.”

He’s right.

The prince seems captivated by a petite, busty blond beauty. Even in heels, she barely reaches his chest. She had pulled him out onto the dance floor for a throbbing sex-drenched hip grinder, Andree Belle’s Go Go Gadget Heart.

The strobe lights and smoke machine make it hard to follow them in the crowd. Then I see them, against one wall. The buxom little tart has draped her arms around his shoulders and hugs him close, as if she’ll never let him go.

Apparently too close. I shove my way through the crowd until I’m close enough to I hear Harry’s woozy cry: “Blimey, you’re no bird! You’ve got a wanker!”

Before I can pull him away, the prince is pricked on the neck with something  his partner has pulled from her cleavage. Harry’s groan is loud—

Then the smell of smoke, and the lights go out—

But not before the last strobe catches the triumphant look on his partner’s face.

 “Oh my God, Jack! The woman with Harry—she’s—not a she! She’s—”

“I know, I saw it, too! The Leprechaun!”

Proof it pays to hit the M.A.C. counter before a night on the town.

 And to hang out where the lights are always low.

Everyone is screaming and shoving their way to the exits, leaving me room to follow the Leprechaun, who was shoving Harry in the opposite direction, up against a wall.

“It’s too dark to see where they went. Does anything show up on the club’s security cams?”

“I’m looking now. In the meantime, check the wall for a hidden pocket door. The schematic of this club shows a few of them on every level. I’m sure the Leprechaun had his exit scoped out in advance.”

While he scans the feeds from the security cameras, I skim the walls with my hands. Finally I find it: a tiny catch, waist high.

I pull it open it just in time to see the Leprechaun heaving Harry down a long corridor.

He may not be used to running in heels, but I am. If only I wasn’t running in a bikini, too.

“Too many wobbly bits,” I mutter under my breath.

It is inappropriate for Jack to be laughing now, but he can’t help it. “Just two. And they’re a sight to behold. Prince Charming will be upset he slept through it.”

The thought of Harry in the French-manicured hands of an assassin who can start the United Kingdom and Ireland down another bloody path of un-neighborly relations has me picking up my pace. Unlike the Leprechaun, I’m smart enough to ditch my high heels—

But I’m still not fast enough to reach them before the Leprechaun rolls him into the backseat of a dark BMW and screeches off.

I can hear Jack slapping the wall with his fist. “Aw, damn! We lost them!”

“Nope, I slipped a GPS tracker in the prince’s trollies.”

“You did what?…In his—what?”

“Oh, don’t worry, I didn’t peek. I’ll meet you around the corner.”

What’s a little white lie between fake husband and wife?

Before he can say another word, I snap off my earpiece and run down the block.

(c) 2012 Josie Brown. All rights reserved. This excerpt may not be resold or redistributed without prior written permission from Josie Brown or Signal Press Books (info@signaleditorial.com).

_______________________

Guide-to-Gracious-Killing-Final

In Amazon Now!

Signal Press / 978-0-9740214-4-7 
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Free, I tellz ya! Free! FREE!

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Yep, The Housewife Assassin's Handbook just went free on Amazon, and already it's #18 in the Amazon Kindle eBook Store under "Women Sleuths," and #39 under "Romantic Suspense."

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— Josie

 

THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK

Murder. Suspense. Sex. 
And some handy household tips.

Signal Press – Digital eBook 

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CHAPTER 1: Please Read and Follow Directions Carefully….

Any woman can be both the perfect housewife and an accomplished assassin, because both functions require the same qualities: creativity; a never-say-die attitude; and an attention to details, no matter how small . . .

***

All I really needed to know about being a freelance assassin I learned before my youngest daughter, Trisha, started kindergarten.

I’ve come to that realization as I lay naked and handcuffed to the bed of my target du jour, a sleazebag by the name of Yuri Petrovich.

 Yuri has just downed a couple of Viagra with the last of his Starbucks venti-sized non-fat decaf caramel macchiato. This is to ensure us both that his attempt to mount me will have all the gusto of a broncobuster breaking in the wildest filly in the corral before heading on into the sunset. (In truth, we are in a hillside suite at the Chateau Marmont. But considering Yuri’s attitude toward women, the cowboyspeak sums things up quite nicely.)

Believe it or not, everything is going just as I planned, and right on schedule.

ChateauMarmont.JPGAt least, that is what I tell myself as I watch him unzip his rock star-tight leather pants and squeeze out of them as quickly as he can because his erection, which seems to be growing by the nanosecond, has him wincing in pain. (And in Yuri’s fantasy if anyone is going to get hurt, it’s going to be me. The handcuffs are proof of that.)

Like, say, eighty-eight percent of all my targets, this Russian mafia boss, who came here to unload a cache of AK-103s on some Idaho Neo-Nazis, has an obsessive-compulsive personality. In Yuri’s case that means staying in the same suite at the Marmont every time he hits Los Angeles (although his Slavic accent and pockmarked greaser looks has hardly earned him an iota of the ass-kissing accorded aging rock stars, budding celebutantes, or out-of-town British actors); doing the down-and-dirty with some rent-a-whore, both before and after the arms sale; and drinking macchiatos nonstop, even during his favorite sex act, that Kama Sutra position euphemistically called “the ostrich’s tail.” (Don’t ask, because you really don’t want to know.)

Acme Industries, one of the many new post-9/11 CIA-sanctioned subcontractors that handles any and all dirty tricks that won’t pass a Congressional panel sniff test, contracted me to be the honeypot who takes Yuri down. My assignment is as follows: First, I was to stall on the sex until the skinheads showed up. Next, I was to plant a GPS system on one of them, so that ATF can track and apprehend them during the pick-up. And finally, as a show of tit-for-tat diplomacy with Uncle Sam’s publicly acknowledged new best friend Russia, I was to see to it that Yuri never left his hotel room alive.

Oh yeah, and one more very important point: All of this is supposed to be accomplished before three o’clock, the time in which I have to pick up my ten-year-old, Jeff, and a carload of his teammates for an after-school baseball game. Otherwise I’d have to face the wrath of two other mothers for having blown the team’s shot at taking the state title without a play-off game—

This is why I pray that the 405 isn’t a nightmarish backup by the time I head home.

From the moment he landed stateside, Yuri’s cell phone calls were monitored. The one to his favorite LA escort service was rerouted to an Acme phone operative, who scheduled Yuri a date with “Precious” (a suitable alias, seeing how I’m trussed up in a push-up bra, a low-cut tank top, and the tight denim micro miniskirt I’d raided from my twelve-year-old daughter Mary’s closet. My gut told me that Yuri would not have appreciated my own Lily Pulitzer twill.)

The fact that I showed up an hour after the appointed time put me just a few minutes ahead of the Neo-Nazis: perfect timing in my book, since it foiled his plan for a little pre-sale foreplay.

Needless to say, Yuri was miffed at me for ruining his timetable. To make that point, he pushed me up against the wall, kicked my legs apart, and frisked me roughly. Really, it was more of a test-the-merchandise fondle. Anticipating that maneuver, I’d left my trusty 9mm at home. That’s okay. In my hooker get-up there was no place to hide it anyway, which is why these kinds of close range hits are always tricky. But then again, that’s why I get paid the big bucks. For this job, my weapon of choice was a tiny, serrated dagger that is appropriately called the “street assassin.” However, I was willing to bet that Yuri and I wouldn’t be anywhere near asphalt when I struck, but between some very expensive 700-count Egyptian cotton sheets.

What a waste. I wonder if the hotel knows that little trick about using meat tenderizer on bloodstains . . .

Not that I planned on sticking around to find out.

I shrugged off his grope with a giggle. “Yeah, the service warned me how much youlove a little foreplay, so I brought these along.” Still spread-eagled, I unhooked pair of handcuffs from the metal belt slung low over my skirt, and jangled them tantalizingly in front of him, in case he needed additional proof that I was his fantasy fuck. That shut him up. It also kept him from noticing my dagger, which hangs as innocuously as any of the buckles on my belt: a great way to fool metal detectors, which, believe it or not, are sometimes used by the bad guys, too.

Then to make sure I had his undivided attention, I rubbed the all too obvious bulge in his jeans with one hand and nodded approvingly, while relieving him of his Starbucks cup with the other. As I took a swig from it, one of his two goons snickered out loud. Yuri’s eyes blazed at my impudence. He lifted his hand to slap me, but was stopped by a sharp knock on the door.

InterestingThe skinheads. Perfect timing. “Jeez, nobody said it was going to be a party! But hey, I’m open to anything – as long as you cleared it with the service.” I handed the cup back to him, sauntered over to the couch and flopped down as if I owned the place. While Yuri’s goons frisked the two Neo-Nazis, I crossed my legs seductively and leaned over so that my cleavage runneth over in plain view for all to enjoy. No doubt about it, the skinheads were appreciative. The fatter, uglier one even had the balls to ask me if my boobs were real.

“Wanna come over here and find out?” I crooked a finger at Ugly. As he slid me onto his lap, I copped my own feel: under the collar of his military fatigue jacket, where I planted a tiny GPS bug.

Seeing me all over Ugly made Yuri even hotter to be done with the business portion of his trip. He yanked me off his guest and shoved me in the direction of the bedroom. “No party. You wait in there,” he growled.

I pulled him in close for a deep kiss. Then, as a reminder of all the fun and games I had in store for us, I handed him the key to the handcuffs. That was all the incentive he needed to get rid of the skinheads tout sweet. He closed the door fast, which was fine with me. The tranquilizer I’d slipped into his macchiato before giving it back to him – a time-release version of Rohypnol – was to kick in sometime within fifteen minutes. I was estimating that he’d need about ten to get rid of the boys, which would leave me five to stall before he fell on his face, making it easy to slit his throat before hightailing it out of there.

The minute he shut the door, I set up for the kill. First I snapped on a pair of gloves – black lace from fingertips to the elbows. Sexy, for sure (in fact, they match my G-string) but because they are lined in a micro-thin flesh-toned latex, I won’t be leaving any telltale prints. As I expected, the sliding door to the terrace outside the bungalow was locked and the curtains were pulled, which allowed for complete privacy from the outside. After disabling the alarm with the tiny decoder I keep on my key ring, I went ahead and unlocked the sliding door so that when the time was right I could make a quick getaway.

I wasn’t worried about the handcuffs, since they were the kind used by magicians and I’d only need a strategic jerk of the wrist to break free. Even if the Roofie didn’t kick in before Yuri snapped them onto my wrists, I’d be able to get out of them in only a few seconds.

And finally, I slipped the knife under the mattress, near the right side of the headboard. I’d retrieve it when the time was right.

As minute eight slipped by, I heard a door close on the other side and guessed rightly that Yuri had said bye-bye to his new skinhead pals. During Minute Nine, Yuri instructed his homeboys not to disturb us no matter how much moaning I was doing – and he planned for me to be doing a lot of it.

Then, as predicted, Yuri opened the door ten minutes after he’d left me. Locking it behind him, he smilingly approvingly at my state of total undress: my only attire was my G-string, stilettos, and the lace gloves. 

I was somewhat surprised that he wasn’t at least yawning by now. Apparently he has the constitution of a rhino. I was hoping that I wouldn’t find out if he had the staying power of one as well. It was then that I noticed that the Starbucks cup was still in his hand….

Damn! Hadn’t he finished that thing yet? Okay, no big deal. So I’d have to stall for another minute or two…

To put that thought out of my mind, I envisioned the kill instead: watching his eyes grow drowsy from the drug – or if necessary, closed in the ecstatic throes of passion; yanking my hands free, then reaching under the mattress for the knife….

Yuri wrongly assumed that my sigh was in anticipation of what he pulled from his leather jacket’s pocket: my handcuffs. “Okay, bitch. On the bed.”

HandcuffedObediently I dropped onto it and grasped the middle finials on the vine-patterned headboard. As he slapped on the cuffs, he stifled a yawn. (Yes! Yes! Finally!) To keep alert, he took a long sip of his macchiato. Then, as if remembering something, Yuri pulled something out of an inner pocket of his jacket…

Ah, yes: the perfect pre-sex appetizer: Viagra.

Humph. I wondered what effect that might have on the Roofie . . . 

And now that Yuri’s striptease is over, it seems I have my answer: not only does the Rohypnol appear to have been neutralized by his little blue devil, it seems to have accelerated his hard-on –

 And from the look of things, acted as a growth hormone to boot.

Not good. At least, not while I’m in my current position – by that I mean naked, chained to his bed, and about to be mounted like a prize rodeo steer.

Not that Yuri seems in any hurry. Nonchalantly he ambles over to the built-in armoire and takes a two-foot-long velvet box from the top drawer, which he lays down beside me with a smirk. Then, opening it slowly, he pulls out –

 – A riding crop.

Ouch. Seems that the cowboy metaphor is becoming more appropriate by the moment.

Damn it! Acme had implied that Yuri was into bondage, not sadism. There had better be a bonus in this for me . . .

He runs the whip up my left leg until it catches on the thin silky thread that is my G-string. With one quick twitch of his wrist, it snaps right off.

Dammit, that hurt!

Very slowly he slaps precise little welts onto my belly as he works the whip over to my other thigh, but pauses when it reaches what is left of the G-string, so that I might agonize over the pain yet to come. My wince brings a sick smile to his face. Now I’m feeling a bit queasy, even if he isn’t.

Stall! Say anything . . . Do anything . . .

“What, you want the dessert before the main course?’ I taunt him. “Naughty boy…”

That only provokes him into slapping me all the harder. What is left of the G-string shreds into thin air. With a guffaw, he takes its little lace patch and holds it up like a trophy before flinging it across the room. It lands near the door with a skip.

Suddenly I notice that his eyes are crossing. He sits down on the bed – falls down, really –

 – Onto me. All 174 pounds of him.

And I don’t think he’s breathing. So, the combination of Rohypnol and Viagra was a toxic Trail Mix after all.

More like fatal. Still, a hit is a hit is a hit…

I jerk at the trick cuffs, but they won’t open. With Yuri on top of me, I’m angled all wrong to break their hold. With my chest, I shove him as hard as I can, but for some strange reason, he’s not budging. Then I realize why:

The only thing left standing is his erection, and it has him staked between my legs.

Great. Just great.

As I struggle under his limp-but-where-it-counts-most carcass, I hear muffled noises from the other side of the door. It sounds like a skirmish.

The two faint thumps I hear next tell me that something is terribly wrong.

Someone is trying to break down the door. It gives way, and I see Ugly the Skinhead standing there. As Ugly whips out a 9mm, I realize that the thumps were Yuri’s posse being taken out . . .

And now it is our turn.


Even from the doorway, Ugly’s aim is dead on. As the bullet enters the back of Yuri’s skull, the Russian jerks forward and we butt heads. As much as that hurts, it has also saves my life: as my head snaps back, the bullet that just left his frontal lobe whizzes by mine by mere millimeters. Still, that doesn’t stop a geyser of Yuri’s blood and gray matter from spurting onto my face. I freeze in horror.

“Fuckin’ Commie. And fuckin’ Commie fucker.”

Between my temporary paralysis and my Yuri-spattered countenance, Ugly assumes that I’m dead, too, and turns to leave –


Black-g-string-thongBut pauses at the sight of my G-string.

He lumbers over to where it’s fallen and squats down to pick it up. After sniffing it, he stuffs it into his pocket. Obviously he feels that is a fitting trophy for his kill – or, in his mind, two kills.

He stalks out, slamming the door behind him.

Silence.

Shit, I have to get out of here. Now.

But that’s almost impossible to do, what with Yuri still on top.

Granted, the Marmont is used to strange noises from behind its many closed doors. Still, it’s been a while since a dead body was found in one of its suites, let alone three. Of course, I imagine the worst:

That someone heard something, or maybe even saw Ugly the Skinhead leaving Yuri’s bungalow, and has called the hotel’s staff, which will soon come to investigate;

That, after tapping on the door and getting no response, they will burst in, see Yuri’s dead bodyguards and find Yuri on top of me, then call the police;    

That, to my children’s horror, I get arrested for prostitution;

That, to Acme’s dismay, I will be called as a witness at Yuri’s murder trial, which will force them to contract with another assassin to finish the job Ugly started on me.

Worse yet, I imagine my son Jeff’s face when he realizes that he’ll miss his chance to pitch in today’s County title game, which will move his baseball team, the Hilldale Wildcats, one step closer to being the Major League state champs –

And that once again it’s all my fault.

It’s that last vision that does the trick for me.

It has been documented that mothers involuntarily demonstrate incredible feats of strength when their children’s safety is threatened. I am living proof that this phenomenon also occurs when their kids’ championship games are at stake. Defying Yuri’s gravitational pull, I heave myself to a forty-five-degree angle, which finally gives me the leverage I need in order to jerk my wrists free from the cuffs. With my hands now free, I can shove Yuri to one side. 

At least, what is left of him.

I stumble to the bathroom. Leaving on my gloves, I shove my face under the faucet and wash Yuri’s brains and skull off my face and out of my hair before staggering back out into the bedroom, where I retrieve my handcuffs and my dagger from under the mattress. Then I jump back into my hooker attire, which I had dropped onto the plush chair by the bed. As planned, I leave from the terrace door, grabbing Yuri’s cuppa joe with me as I go.

In my now ruined spiked heels, I totter up Monteel, the road that meanders high above the hotel, sprinkling what’s left in Yuri’s coffee onto a thirsty bougainvillea and burying the cup deep inside a garbage can of a neighbor who has left it curbside for pickup. Besides the fact that a mommy mobile like my Toyota Highlander Hybrid minivan would surely stand out in that sea of Jags, Rolls, and Lamborghinis in the Marmont’s lot, in my line of work I can’t allow the hotel’s valet the opportunity to ID me.

Just my luck: my van is sporting a ticket that is not even ten minutes old. I do that math: that means that the job took a half-hour longer than I anticipated. Ah, hell, I’m going to be late picking up the boys for the ball game. The Highlander would have to be the only car on the road (a fantasy in mid-day, mid-week Los Angeles), run every traffic light, and break every speed record known to man in order for me to get to the boys the game in time . . .

I do have another option: call my carpool partner, Penelope Bing, and ask her to cover for me –

Hell no. That would hurt even more than Yuri’s whip. She’s bailed me out twice in less than a month: the time I was late getting back after taking out some hothead set on assassinating the Pope while he was here in LA.; then there was that hit I had in Seattle, when I’d booked United on the return flight. (On that one, I should have known better and flown Southwest.)

If I have to hear Penelope’s smug barbs again, I’ll cry. “Really, Donna, what is it this time? Another tennis lesson? My God, you’d think, after all that time on the court, you’dfinally find your backhand. Maybe you’re using from the wrong pro. It’s Fernando, right? . . .”

The inference being that I’m lying. Again.

And for the wrong reason: that reason perhaps being that I’m two-timing my husband, Carl, with the local country club’s tennis pro. Fernando, with his bulging biceps and swarthy grin, leaves many of the club’s female members panting, both on the court and in the bedroom.

GossipConsidering the number of times I’ve disappeared in the middle of the day, the assumption has merit to Penelope and her gossip-mongering clique. As if I would! As if I even could be unfaithful to Carl . . . 

To hell with her. I hit the road, tossing on a sweatshirt as I drive. At the longest turn-light on Sunset – the one at Beverly – I wrangle on my jeans under Mary’s miniskirt before yanking it off. The trucker to my left hoots his horn loudly to show his sincere appreciation.

Miracle of miracles, I pull up only four minutes late! Relief floods Jeff’s face. The Terrible Two – his buddies Morton Smith and Cheever Bing, Penelope’s little angel – have already had been giving him a rough time. My tardiness is infamous. But now it’s my turn to be smug.

Mary is standing there with them. Usually you would not catch her anywhere near her little brother and his friends, but Morton’s older brother, Scotty, is also hitching a ride to the game, and he’s a hottie, what with all that blond curly hair and those soulful eyes. To keep them peeled on her, Mary tosses her long flowing main whenever he glances in her direction. Watching her, my heart leaps into my throat. At twelve, she’s already a first-class flirt.

 Just like her mother.

The kids clamor into the back of the van and we’re off. Mary, who, on any given day would have taken the passenger seat up front, chooses the two-seat row in the middle instead, with Scotty.

I maneuver around a Porsche going too slow for my taste, and in the process get honked by a bus. The driver is miffed because we’ve killed any chance he has of making the light. “Cool driving, Mrs. Stone,” Scotty’s approval wins me a temporary reprieve.

Then he smiles shyly at Mary. “So, you and your dad will be at the Parent-Student dance this Friday, right?” This eighth grade rite of passage is one of the highlights of the school year. Two years from now, it will be my turn to go with Jeff. Although it’s Mary’s turn, without Carl there to take her, she will miss out.

But Jeff and Mary’s father is never there for them, no matter what the occasion.

 “No way! I wouldn’t be caught dead there! It’s for dorks! ” And certainly not for a girl who hasn’t seen her father in years.

But Scotty doesn’t know this. Seeing his crestfallen face, Mary falls silent. She is angry at herself.

No really, at Carl.

Kid2I run the last light between the baseball field and us. Yes! Yes! We’re only nine minutes late! I’ve won Jeff’s approval. I know this because he stops to give me a quick kiss on the cheek. Then he asks: “So Mom, you brought my athletic cup, like I asked, right?”

What? But I – I don’t remember–” I rummage through the athletic bag that was packed this morning: uniform, hat, glove, cleats . . . but no athletic cup.

 “I – I called and asked you to get it from my underwear drawer! Like, four times!” The caller ID on my cell confirms this.

Aw, heck.

League rules: no one plays without a cup. Not even if you’re the team’s star pitcher.Because of me, Jeff will be benched for this very important game which will decide the champions of the Orange County Major League division title.

 And there is no way I can make it to the house and back in time. We both know that.

Cheever pumps his fist in the air. He is the team’s  back-up pitcher.

A tear rolls down Jeff cheek as he staggers to the back of the van.

“Jeff, I’m so sorry—” I yell after him. But I know he can’t stand to hear my lame excuse.

Why should he? He’s heard them all before.

“Hey, Mom, what’s my denim skirt doing back here?” Mary holds it up to me, accusingly, before shrieking “Ewwwyuck!” I glance over and notice that it is sprayed with some sort of white goo. One of the larger chunks is covered in hair follicles.

Yuri’s.

But that doesn’t seem to bother the Terrible Two. Otherwise they wouldn’t be mimicking Mary’s high-pitched squeal as they toss her skirt back and forth like a hot potato.

Once again, I’m back in the doghouse with my kids.

At least, until I outrun a Ferrari or something.

————————————————-

HAH-Hanging-Man-Oct-5-2012Copyright © 2011 by Josie Brown. Published in May 2011 by Signal Press. All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Author.

THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK
Murder. Suspense. Sex. And some handy household tips.

Signal Press – Digital eBook 

ORDER NOW,  from

Amazon.com


Hump Day Haiku: “Fashion Week”

FashionWeek2013

Oh my God…I'm here!

Why is she front row center? /

This collection sucks.

It’s not a party unless you show up…

Tot3 launch party poster

TOTLANDIA
Book 3: The Onesies/Spring

In Bookstores Now!

Coliloquy Books
978-1-937804-16-9 / 
eBook

Buy it on Amazon.com

Buy it on BN.com

 

To celebrate the launch of Totlandia: The Onesies, Book 3 (Spring),
join me for a fantabulous Twitter party, and a chance to win a free copy of Book 3!

Now is the time to ask me all your must-know questions about
Jade, Brady, Ally, Lorna, Jillian….and of course, Bettina!
I'll also be tweeting some trivia on all the Onesies moms,
and asking your opinion about some of the characters you love…and love to hate!

Looking forward to having you join me!

– Josie

@JosieBrownCA

 

____________________________

 

Spring comes in like a lamb as the exclusive
Pacific Heights Moms & Tots Club welcomes its newest members.
But that tranquility belies a storm brewing,
as new tensions and old rivalries come to a head.

The surviving moms are ready to reap the rewards of membership,
but none of them counted on club founder, Bettina Connaught Cross,
needing a pick-me-up from a bitter betrayal.
While lesser women might cry into their pillows,
Bettina finds comfort in exerting control over her domain.

With Bettina on a rampage, the new Onesies are trying to stay out of sight
long enough to deal with their own issues:
Lorna wants to tell her family about Dante’s autism,
but keeping it on her own terms could be difficult
when her hippie mom and socialite mother-in-law meet for the first time.
Jillian fights to regain her financial footing and confront her own insecurities,
finding comfort in an unexpected place.
And Ally can’t bear the thought of hurting Jade,
so she continues to bury her feelings for Brady.

But when another desperate housewife stirs the mix,
Jade could become a pawn in an even more devious game.
It’s no ordinary spring in Totlandia, as emotions build to a fury and end with a roar.

________________________________

EXCERPT

Friday, 4 January

8:14 a.m.

“What do you mean I don’t qualify for unemployment benefits?” Jillian Frederick’s hand was shaking so hard she could barely hold the phone to her ear.

It had taken her almost an hour to get more than an automated voice on the line, someone who could actually answer her questions about how to file a claim. Within that hour, her cell phone beeped because its battery was low. To top it off, someone had just texted her. No doubt the waiting text was zapping her juice as well.

“Sorry, my dear, but them’s the breaks.” The Unemployment Office clerk practically yawned in Jillian’s ear. “You worked for, like what… two months? And for minimum wage at that. What did you expect?”

“My husband left me and our two babies a few months ago. It was the only job I could find!”

“Seriously, hon, I feel for you. But I’m not Dear Abby, and the Unemployment Office isn’t your parents’ ATM.”

“This is an emergency! I may lose my house! I supported my ex-husband through college, so I’m sure my benefits from back then still count, don’t they? Listen, can you check and see how far back you can go?” 

Just then one-year-old Amelia yanked a branch of the Christmas tree so hard that three glass ornaments fell and cracked. Both she and her twin sister, Addison, wailed in union.

As Jillian scooped both girls up into her arms to cuddle them before they grabbed at the glass shards, the cell phone fell out of her hand, hitting the cold marble floor with a loud crack.

“Oh my God! Are you—are you okay?” Jillian could barely hear her own voice over her daughters’ wails.

 “I think you broke my eardrum,” the clerk finally retorted.

“I’m so sorry! One of my daughters almost pulled down our Christmas tree.” Jillian was trying with all her might to keep the tears out of her voice. “Listen, isn’t there any way to find out if those benefits are still good?”

“Yeah sure. What’s your maiden name?”

“McKeever.”

“I’ll check. Let me put you on hold again.”

Hold? Oh my God, no! My phone battery is dying, and I was on hold for forty minutes before I reached you! Can’t you just all me back? Wait!”

But it was too late. She was being serenaded by a symphonic version of the Black-Eyed Peas’ “Boom Boom Pow.”

Frustrated, Jillian fell back onto the couch. The drop in altitude left the toddlers giggling. They smacked Jillian’s face as if that would relieve her too-early-in-the-morning exhaustion. She sighed, forced her lips into a smile and wiped the tears from her eyes before opening them.

Truth be told, even if she hadn’t been canned, Jillian’s credit card bills were mounting so fast that no amount of generous tips could’ve saved her. She was now four months behind on her SUV’s payments. She hid the car in the alley behind her house so she could dodge the repo man who kept knocking on the door. As it was, she barely used the damn thing, except for Costco and Wal-Mart runs. Having rammed it repeatedly into the Porsche of her philandering soon-to-be ex, Scott, her car’s bumper now scraped her front wheels on tight turns.

Last week she had just managed to scrape together the money to pay the gas and electric bill. To keep them under fifty dollars a month, she closed off the vents in every room of her rambling mansion on Pacific Street except for the kitchen and the nursery, where for the most part Addison and Amelia slept and played, or burned used paperbacks in the old home’s fireplaces.

 She had traded the convenience of her pricey local Whole Foods and the neighborhood grocery markets on Union, Polk, and Chestnut streets for Chinatown’s vegetable markets, where produce could be purchased for less than half the price.

The thought of collecting unemployment benefits shamed her. But it was going on three weeks since she lost her job, and she had to do something, anything.

She was too proud to give up the home she had so lovingly restored. Further, it would have been one more intolerable defeat at the hands of her two-timing husband.

A commotion coming from the alley behind her house roused her from where she sat prostrate on the couch. She picked up both girls before walking to the window, just in time to see her SUV being hoisted onto a flatbed truck.

She set the girls down in their playpen and ran down the stairs and out the side door. The tow operator, a large bear of a man sporting tattoos on every inch of skin not covered by his jeans or the jacket emblazoned with Bay Area Repo, had already chained down her vehicle.

Jillian grabbed his arm. “Wait! That’s my car! Where do you think you’re taking it?”

The man shrugged. “Back to the dealership. Sorry, lady, three missed payments means they own it again.”

“How will I get around without it? It’s the only transportation I’ve got, and I have two toddlers! Please—”

He looked down at her. “Nothing I can do about it. Here’s a tip, though. Next time, disengage the GPS so we can’t find it so easily. Just sayin’.”

If only she’d known that earlier.

She watched as he backed the truck through the alleyway before gunning it down Pacific Street. Then it occurred to her that she’d left the kids alone inside. Both were now adept at catapulting themselves over the playpen’s side with a kamikaze flip they’d learned from their little gal pal, Zoe Thornton. She ran back into the house.

Too late. The girls were toddling toward the Christmas tree.

She grabbed them just before they hit the field of broken glass.

Now, for her cell phone. Where had she put it?

It took her a full five minutes before she realized she’d tossed it into the playpen with the girls. By the time she did, it was too late. The damn battery had gone dead.

She threw it back down into the playpen.

Big mistake. The girls climbed down out of her arms and into the playpen after it. She was just about to fish out all three one more time when the doorbell rang.

Who the hell could it be now? Jillian wondered. Before she opened the door, she looked through the peephole.

Scott.

She slumped up against the wall. What the hell was he doing there?

© 2013 Josie Brown. Published in 2012 by Coliloquy Books. All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.