Want to bake a great cake? 8 Things that can go wrong—and how to fix them.

I just found this GREAT article on the Beebs (BBC) that answers these eight common problems with baking a cake.

1: Thick as a brick, and tastes like one too.

2: Flatter than a pancake.

3: Sinks deeper than the Titanic.

4: Cracked open on top.

5: Dry and over-baked.

6: Raw and tastes doughy.

7: I can't seem to time it best for pulling it out of the oven.

8: It always breaks when I take it out of the tin.

If you have any of these problems, click here, or onto the photo above.

And while you're waiting for your cake to cool, you can read this excerpt below,  of Book 6 of The Housewife Assassin series, “Recipes for Disaster.”

Enjoy both!

—Josie

 

 

HAH Book 6 KBL

THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S RECIPES FOR DISASTER (Book 6)
Signal Press
eBook: 9780989558839 ($4.99 US) / Trade Paperback: 9781942052159
amazon-2-iconimgres copyunnamedkobo-blueIndieBoundBlue
Donna must stop the assassinations of both US political parties' presidential candidates. But when she discovers she has a long-term vendetta with one of the targets, can she put aside her animosity long enough to save the candidate's life?

 

 

 

EXCERPT

It is a truth universally acknowledged that politics is the second oldest profession—and that, sadly, it resembles the oldest profession in too many ways to count on a gentlewoman’s properly sheathed pinkies and toes.

Being the epitome of reticence and decorum, she must strive to stay out of politics at all costs—

Unless, heaven forbid, it is necessary to sully herself in the pursuit of liberty and justice for all.

But before trotting out onto the campaign trail, she must remind herself about the difference between a lady, a whore, and a politician: whereas both the whore and the politician will perform unseemly acts with the strangest of bedfellows for money (in the case of the politician, this is euphemistically called “campaign donations”), neither the lady nor the whore equates money with power because she holds all the power she needs in her dainty (if not always properly sheathed) pinky.

Speaking of strange bedfellows, the culinary combination of chocolate and peanut butter was popularized with the invention of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup back in 1928. This take on a pie version will have you crossing party lines to get a slice:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie (From Courtney Wade, Gillett Pennsylvania)

Ingredients

• 1 crust made from chocolate graham crackers

• 1 1/2 pints vanilla ice cream, softened

• 2 cups creamy peanut butter

• 1 jar of hot fudge

• 1 container of whipped cream

Directions

1. Mix ice cream and peanut butter with mixer on low speed.

2. Pour into pie crust.

3. Freeze 3 hours.

4. Add hot fudge topping. Return to freezer.

5. Serve each piece with whipped cream.

* * *

I lay on a large table, naked except for the sushi that has been placed strategically on and around my body.

It’s not a great look, but this doesn’t stop three Chinese diplomats (I use the term lightly; in truth, they are spies) from plucking raw fish wrapped in seaweed and rice, while staring at my naughty bits.

One of the city’s premiere sushi chefs slices and dices away at his workstation. Because his chef’s jacket and hat are insulated, he is oblivious to the cold air blowing in from a block of dry ice below the floorboards, which flows into a tube on the tabletop beneath me.

This is supposed to keep the sushi fresh. Unfortunately, it has also turned my lips blue and numbed my bum. Beneath parsley pasties, my nipples stand at attention, whetting the diners’ appetites for hanky-panky, if not nigiri-maki.

I’m in a private penthouse which crowns a sixty-story building on San Francisco’s Embarcadero, its stunningly romantic waterfront district. It is owned by one of the diners—Professor Hong Li, whose status as a world-renowned mathematician gives him the prestige he needs to hide in plain sight. My mission has me working undercover as a nyotaimori. In Japanese, the term means “female body platter,” but it is universally interpreted as “go ahead and cop a feel between bites of your dragon roll.”

The dining room’s other major attraction is its well-appointed vodka room—a large glass freezer in which hundreds of premium, obscure vodka bottles are stored at 28° Fahrenheit. Forget sake. If the way these guys have been blitzing themselves on the fermented potato juice enjoyed by their comrades to the near west is any indication, international relations with Russia are thawing at North Pole speed.

My geisha-like role demands that I lay here stock-still. I mustn’t shiver or move a muscle. This is particularly difficult whenever Li’s chopstick grazes a breast on its way to pick up yet another piece of gunkan-maki.

Either he needs lessons on how to hold his utensils, or he presumes I’m on the menu, too.

How do you say, “Be careful what you wish for” in Chinese? Will a jab in the jugular with a chopstick get my point across?

My mission’s team leader, Jack Craig, is located in the apartment directly below this suite, where he listens and watches the video bugs smuggled into the suite’s various air vents by tiny drones, just last night by our tech operative, Arnie Locklear. Jack must have guessed how annoyed I am with Li because he whispers through my concealed ear bud: “I guess it’s a bad pun to warn you to keep your cool.”

He’s right, of course. My reason for being here has nothing to do with the fantasies of these slobbering men, and everything to do with our country’s national security. Through its encryption circumvention project, Bullrun, the NSA learned that Chinese cyber-hackers have somehow pirated the Department of Defense’s secure satellite feed for its Middle Eastern battlefield data networks—the heart and soul of its network-centric warfare.

Experts predict the Chinese economy will reach one-hundred-twenty-three trillion dollars by the year 2040—or almost three times that of the entire world’s economy a mere decade ago. Now that China is building itself into a consumer nation, it is looking to curry favor with those who can help it with its skyrocketing oil demands—including the Iranians, with whom the old saying “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” is doubly true when it comes to the United States.

The mandate of my employer—a CIA-sanctioned black ops organization that goes by the name of Acme Industries—is to stop the hand-off of this very valuable intel before it leaves the country. But the Chinese are smart enough to go old school in the delivery process: hand-to-hand, as opposed to e-mail or texting.

For the past week, we’ve been trying to infiltrate Li’s sumptuous penthouse suite, to no avail. He has stayed holed up here the whole time. Body guards are posted outside the steel-enforced, double-door entry. Even the maid who cleans the suite has been vetted by the Chinese embassy employees, as are the well-paid escorts who sleep with Professor Li.

The word sleep doesn’t begin to describe what he does with these unlucky ladies. And the way he eyes me, I’ve no doubt he wants me to experience his bedside manner first-hand.

Should I be worried? Nah. I don’t have time. This dinner was our one and only chance to stop Li’s plot. And from the chatter we’re hearing in our targets’ native language, we realize time is running out. The handoff is supposed to take place at this meeting, but the guest of honor—the person who will be taking it out of the country—has yet to arrive.

I hope he shows up soon. Otherwise, I may be too frozen to stop him.

My only way to answer Jack’s warning is to sigh, ever so slightly. When I do, a slice of fatty tuna roll slides off my midriff and onto the table. Professor Li smirks and mutters, “Zuòwéi tā de dàtuǐ, tā de rǔfáng fēngmǎn. Hǎo yīgè biǎo, dàn wěidà de, dàng zuò'ài. Wǒ jiù zhīdào jīn wǎn shāo hòu, shì ma?”

The sushi chef in the corner must get the gist of Hong’s remark because his eyebrows roll to the ceiling. Abu Nagashahi, Acme’s translator on this mission, snickers.

“Don’t tell her,” Jack and our tech op, Arnie Locklear, warn him in unison.

After a long pause, Abu mumbles, “No kidding.”

Oh, really? And what nasty little aside could our supposedly diplomatic friend here have said to earn my desire to wring his neck with my frigid fingers?

Whatever it is, he is saved by the gong announcing the visitor we’ve all been waiting for.

The men leave the table for the private dining suite’s reception room. The rooms are separated by a solid glass wall. Despite closing the glass door behind them, the mirrored ceiling and walls allow me to watch along with my mission team as two workmen roll in a large, beautiful black lacquer box. It stands vertically, and has beautiful Chinese characters on the door.

Hong Li snaps his finger at the sushi chef—the universal language for “If you know what’s good for you, you’ll get the hell out of here.”

The man is no fool. He bows slightly and hurries out after the delivery men. The click of the door closing behind him sends a shiver up my spine.

“Stay perfectly still, Donna,” Jack murmurs. “It seems they’ve forgotten you’re there.

Easier said than done. The cold is tickling my nose. I hold my breath in the hope that I can keep from sneezing.

A man enters the room. He’s in his late thirties, with a full head of long, blond shoulder-length hair. He wears wire-framed glasses over his large brown eyes.

“Arnie, tilt the living room camera down and left, so that our facial recognition software gets a better look at him,” Jack whispers. “Donna, you’ve also got him in your line of sight. Can you turn your head, just a bit to the right?”

I do so, ever so slightly. Thank goodness all eyes are on the stranger, even those of the professor’s personal body guard, a hulk I’ve nicknamed King Kong. At six-foot-three-inches tall and over two-hundred pounds, should the occasion arise, it’ll be a challenge for me to take him. I mean, let’s face it—it’s not like I can hide my Glock under the pickled ginger garnish in my belly button.

If that time comes, failure is not an option—not if I want to walk my children into their new classrooms on the first day of school tomorrow.

Hong Li smiles at the man and gives him a slight bow. His two associates follow suit.

The Chinese spies smirk at the man’s hesitant, unsmiling nod in return.

I don’t like the feel of this.

“I presume you want to inspect my handiwork?” The man’s hushed question comes out in a stutter.

Li tempers his curiosity with a shrug. “Please, do us the honors.” His English mimics his guest’s Southern inflections.

The stranger purses his lips as he twists the latch on the door of the exquisitely painted box. Inside is a clay figure—an ancient Chinese warrior. With the push of a lever, the platform on which the statue sits rolls out.

His hosts are awed enough to murmur and clap.

“Wow! What exactly is that?” Arnie asks.

“It looks like one of China’s ancient terra-cotta warriors of X’ian,” Abu answers. “Back in the 1970s, while digging a well, a couple of farmers in the Shaanxi province unearthed a similar clay figurine. When all was said and done, eight-thousand of them were uncovered. They’d been buried in the necropolis of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China. In fact, there’s an exhibit of them here, at San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum.”

“So, how old do you think it is?” Jack wonders.

“Qin ruled around 209 BC, so it’s at least that old,” Abu responds. “But this one is a replica.”

“How do you know?” Jack asks.

“Because it’s the spitting image of Xi Jinping, China’s current president.”

Darned if he’s not right.

“Nailed him!” Arnie yells in my ear. “The dude who brought the box is the sculptor, Carolus Duran.”

I recognize that name, too. Known as “the Twenty-First Century’s Rodin,” Duran’s works can be seen in many great art institutions, including the National Gallery in Washington, London’s National Gallery, and the Met in New York.

“Your president should be quite pleased with the resemblance,” Duran declares.

“When will it be delivered?”

Duran glances down at his watch. “In half an hour, it is to be transported via train to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, along with the rest of the soldiers in the exhibit now at the Asian Art Museum, just in time for the presidential reception tomorrow evening.”

“President Xi will be honored to receive such a unique gift from your president.” Li’s smile is too wide to be genuine. “I presume you’ve done as I asked?”

Duran nods. “Yes, of course! I’ve hidden the secret compartment, here.” He points under the left arm of the soldier, which is raised slightly from the torso, as if it’s holding something. “There is an indentation, here. Press slightly, and it opens, like so.”

To prove his point, Duran presses a panel in the armor directly under the soldier’s armpit. Apparently he has pushed a spring lock because it appears to fall into the opening that has magically appeared. Duran’s hand disappears into the statue as far as his wrist. He shifts it slightly, and then pulls it out. The panel drops back into place, as if the clay has never moved.

“Excellent,” Li murmurs. “Now, we shall toast your masterpiece—and the release of your parents from our hospitality in Chengdu.”

Duran winces at Li’s joke at his expense.

“Arnie, what’s he referring to?” Jack asks.

Arnie’s research is fast and furious. “Apparently Duran’s folks disappeared about a month ago, while on a group tour of China. Chengdu is one of China’s largest cities inland—much too rainy and overcast to be a major tourist stop.”

“In other words, they were kidnapped as a way to coerce Duran to alter the statue for their needs,” Abu surmises.

“I have a bottle of Russo-Baltique, for just this occasion.” Li nods at one of his associates, whom I’ve nicknamed Snapped Fingers because that is exactly what will happen to him the next time his chubby paws grab at anything on me that isn’t wrapped in seaweed or rice. I call Li’s other toady Poked Eyes, because he seemed mesmerized by my Telly Savalas, and I’d like to alleviate him of that fixation.

“Donna, don’t move,” Jack warns me.

He’s preaching to the choir. I shut my eyes tightly before Snapped Fingers passes me on the way to the vodka room, knowing full well that Jack will warn me if I need to open them again.

“He’s found the bottle,” Jack whispers. “Okay, he’s walking out now … He’s gone. You can open your eyes.”

Arnie whistles. “That vodka is worth a million and a half dollars. The flask is solid gold, made from old coins from the turn of the last century!”

I watch as Duran adamantly shakes his head at his host’s offer. “No, really, I must be getting back. The museum’s curator and transportation director are expecting me to deliver the piece as soon as possible.”

Li’s smile hardens. “We will take care of its delivery.”

Duran’s eyes open wide. “But—but that would be considered most unconventional! The artist must always be present when our president commissions a welcoming gift, specifically for another head of state—”

Snapped Fingers pours the vodka into two glasses on the sideboard, and then places them on a tray. In no time, he is standing in front of the sculptor.

“They will understand that you’ve been called away early, to Los Angeles, to meet with your president,” Li’s tone is gentle, as if he’s talking to a child. “No one keeps great men waiting, am I right? Now, let us drink up.”

The fear doesn’t leave Duran’s face, even as he watches Li take one of the glasses. Finally, he takes the other glass from the tray; he raises it to his lips.

I would wager it’s a cocktail of succinylcholine—a paralytic agent—and potassium chloride, which stops the heart. As he falls backward, Snapped Fingers is ready to catch him, and ease him onto the floor.

Li takes something from his inside jacket pocket and places it into the statue’s hidden compartment.

“That’s it—the intel!” Jack declares. “The president won’t even know that he’s handing it over to President Xi, along with the statue.”

“And should word leak out, he’ll be disgraced,” Abu adds. “His detractors can use it to call for his impeachment, maybe even his resignation—or worse, call him a traitor, and ask that he be tried as such.”

Just as Poked Eyes wheels the box out the door, I let loose with a squeak of a sneeze.

“Oh … hell.” The dread in Jack’s voice tells me all I need to know: That slight movement caught the attention of Hong Li.

He waves at his bodyguard. “Take care of her.”

He’s out the door, too, with Snapped Fingers on his heels.

I am left with King Kong.

Jack shouts, “Hang on, Donna, I’m on my way.”

I’m hanging on, alright—to the far side of the table, which is now the only thing between King Kong and me. It’s too wide for him to reach over it, but the platters I throw at him bounce off, like beer caps in a pong game between two drunks.

He tilts the table on its side and rushes towards me, swatting off my kicks as if they’re raindrops until he’s got me backed up against the wall—really, against the chef’s workstation. He grabs one of my legs and jerks it up, so that I’m now flat on the countertop. He has one hand on my throat. He smiles when he sees my eyes grow big at the realization that he’s cutting off my oxygen with his broad thumb.

Gasping, I grasp at anything, and come up with a chopstick.

When I jab his eye, he howls and backs off. He hesitates only a second before yanking it out. A torrent of blood pours forth. I’m a mother of two tweens who play sports like kamikazes and their little sister does anything they say on a dare, so granted, I’m no stranger to blood, but this has my lunch climbing into my throat.

King Kong has me cornered in front of the door to the vodka freezer. He’s only six feet away and rushing right at me when I throw my last weapon—the chef’s Blue Steel Ao-ko Mioroshi Namiuchi knife.

The good news: as it hits his chest, it stops his forward momentum.

The bad news: when he falls over, it’s forward—and on top of me.

Even worse news: As I fall backward with him on top of me, the force of our weight pushes open the door to the freezer and propels me into it—

And clicks shut behind me.

I try shoving the door, but it won’t open. King Kong’s body is, quite literally, a dead weight blocking my only way out.

My situation is dire. I’m naked, I’m freezing, and for once I’m in no mood for a vodka martini.

Despite the fact that the glass wall between me and the dining suite is tempered and thick, I pray I can penetrate it somehow. Shivering, I stalk the room, looking for a way out of my predicament.

My eyes scan the backlit vodka case. Like the antique gold Russo-Baltique, all of the bottles in Hong Li’s personal stash are works of art. Belvedere’s bottle is encased in a glass bear. The Diva bottle is especially stunning: a clear cylinder with a tube of precious gems in the center.

But neither of those will give me what I need: freedom.

However, a bottle encrusted with diamonds may just do the trick.

There are several here. Oval Vodka’s bottle is covered in them, but unfortunately its shape plays off its name. The cask-like Alizé Vodka bottle is studded with pink crystals. I slam it against the edge of the table, and most of the crystals fall to the floor, so that’s of no help.

The next bottle I grab—a brand called Iordanov—is so embellished with diamonds that it glistens in the light. Holding it by its long neck, I once again whack the center table with all my might.

I’m left holding a piece of very expensive glass still encrusted with diamond crystals, where it counts most: around its jagged end.

By now the cold is getting to me. I can barely feel my fingers or toes, and my muscles ache. I drop to my knees against the wall with my homemade glasscutter, which I hold tightly as I etch a square in the glass. Here’s hoping it’s large enough for me to fit through, and that it’s not just the size I wish I were. (Note to self: pinch that inch, then get rid of it for good.)

I don’t have much strength, but still, I kick at the etched square. I hear it give way—

Then I pass out.

Book 4 of the Housewife Assassin series is FREE Now!

Amazon: https:josiebrown.com/HA4RSGAmz

Apple Books: https:josiebrown.com/HA4RSGApple

Barnes &Noble: https:josiebrown.com/HA4RSGBN

Kobo: https:josiebrown.com/HA4RSGKobo

And in case you're wondering (thanks for asking, Linda!) each book is standalone (a different caper) albeit the lives of the characters move forward in each book, as it would in real life (personal ups and downs).

By the way: Book 1 is also free; and The Housewife Assassin's Killer 2-Book Set (the first two books in the series) is only $3.99, which is a dollar off the price of each other individual book in the series.

In other words, you've got every reason to play catch up now, so go for it!

TGIF,
Josie

😉 💖💖💖💖💖

As I took a shower, I looked out my window and saw large crows gathering on the rooftop…

…of the apartment building behind me. #HitchcockMoment 

Thebirds

Psycho_Shower_Scene

Yep, Jersey Boys, the Movie, is definitely worth seeing.

Jersey-boys-clint-eastwood-530x352

Click here to listen to "Sherry Baby"

Enjoy!

— Josie

 

 

HA1 Handbook 768x1024

THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK
978-0-9740214-0-9

FREE! 
ORDER NOW,  from

Amazon.com (US)  / Amazon.UK 
Also in all Amazon countries!

BN.com (99 cents)

Apple iTunes Bookstore  / Apple iTunes Bookstore (UK) 
In all iTunes countries!

KoboBooks

 

 

“I don’t mind living in a man’s world…”

Marilyn-monroe-reading

 

"…as long as I can be a woman in it."

— Marilyn Monroe

 

____________________________

 

 

HA1 Handbook 768x1024

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

978-0-9740214-0-9

FREE! 
ORDER NOW,  from

Amazon.com (US)  / Amazon.UK 
Also in all Amazon countries!

BN.com (99 cents)

Apple iTunes Bookstore  / Apple iTunes Bookstore (UK) 
In all iTunes countries!

KoboBooks

Goodwill toward all customers, for sure. WestJet airline does it right.

Westjet-holiday-promotion

 

I think this is possibly the best public relations campaign I've ever seen an airline come up with. When you get to the end of the video and see the tears of joy and gratitude in the customers' eyes, you'll know what I mean.

 

Way to go, WestJet!

–Josie

 

 

 

HAH 1 - size 200 X 300

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


FREE! Now in

Amazon.com (US)  / Amazon.UK 

BN.com (99 cents)

Apple iTBooks  / Apple iBooks(UK) 

KoboBooks.com

Woman gets her jollies on a San Francisco Cable Car. One hundred lovers and a $50K settlement later…

Judy-st.-louis

l love this article, from the archives of the San Francisco Chronicle. Brings to mind one of my favorite Judy Garland classics,  "The Trolley Song," from the musical, "Meet Me in St. Louis:"

Love this lyric: "I went to lose a jolly".

I'll just bet you did,

— Josie

"Cable Car Nymph"

Excerpted from

"San Francisco's Top 10 Sex Scandals"
Kevin Fagan, San Francisco Chronicle 
Published 4:00 am, Thursday, May 28, 2009

It was supposed to be a routine trip on the Hyde Street cable car in 1964, the 29-year-old woman said. But when the car lurched and she was heaved against a pole, the collision "somehow unleashed emotions hidden deep in the dark closet of her mind," The Chronicle reported – and thus was born "The cable car nymphomaniac" who took a trip on the "Cable Car Named Desire."

The woman sued Muni for $500,000 six years later, saying her injuries had triggered an insatiable sexual desire that drove her to take 100 lovers, leaving her perpetually unsatisfied. Reporters left her name out of news accounts, to protect her privacy, referring to her instead by her nickname, or as "the buxom blonde" from Michigan.

She was awarded $50,000 by a jury, whose members said they hoped she would use it for counseling.

(c) 2009 San Francisco Chronicle

 

 

With my high starched collar

And my high topped shoes

And my hair

Piled high upon my head

I went to lose a jolly

Hour on the Trolley

And lost my heart instead

 

With his light brown derby

And his bright green tie

He was quite

The handsomest of men

I started to yen

So I counted to ten

Then I counted to ten again

 

Clang, clang, clang went the trolley

Ding, ding, ding went the bell

Zing, zing, zing went my heartstrings

From the moment I saw him I fell

Chug, chug, chug went the motor

Bump, bump, bump went the brake

Thump, thump, thump went my heartstrings

When he smiled I could feel the car shake

He tipped his hat

And took a seat

He said he hoped he hadn't

Stepped upon my feet

He asked my name

I held my breath

I couldn't speak because

He scared me half to death

 

Buzz, buzz, buzz went the buzzer

Plop, plop, plop went the wheels

Stop, stop, stop went my heartstrings

As he started to go

Then I started to know

How it feels

When the universe reels

The day was bright

The air was sweet

The smell of honeysuckle

Charmed you off your feet

You tried to sing

But couldn't squeak

In fact, you loved him

So you couldn't even speak

 

Buzz, buzz, buzz went the buzzer

Plop, plop, plop went the wheels

Stop, stop, stop went my heartstrings

As he started to leave

I took hold of his sleeve

With my handAnd as if it were planned

He stay on with me

And it was grand just to stand

With his hand holding mine

Till the end of the line

 

Clang, clang, clang went the trolley

Zing, zing, zing went my heart

 

Songwriters: HUGH MARTIN/BLANE, RALPH

Published byLyrics © EMI Music Publishing

 

 

Housewife Assassin Donna Stone is back–and here’s what she did for her summer vacation.

HA-Vacation-to-Die-For-Final

IN AMAZON NOW!

In Kobo, Nook, and Apple by August 20, 2013

Read an excerpt here..

A nude sunbathing serial killer, a Lord of the Flies 'tween takeover, poison-dart throwing pygmies……

Talk about a fantasy (nightmare?) island!

An NSA scientist has disappeared with a deadly plague virus. Donna and Jack must find him, before it is unleashed on Fantasy island, home of three very different resorts:

Like Kamp KidStuff, where families frolic among dolphins, cartoon characters, 
and warring gangs of tweens who believe in the law of the jungle–including human sacrifices; 

And Eden Key, a nude singles sanctuary where tiki-hut treehouses provide the perfect setting for rum-fueled romances and casual hook-ups—not to mention the occasional swinger slashing…

Finally, there's the Hunt Club, which allows its members to track a very unique, soon-to-be extinct prey. 

And you call this a vacation?

______________________________________________
To celebrate the launch of 
The Housewife Assassin's Vacation to Die For 
I'm giving away a $100 gift card
 
to ANY store of your choice!

    

 Target-logo

The Almost Marilyn Monroe, Almost Naked

Dixie and Marilyn

The renowned burlesque dancer, Dixie Evans, died this weekend. She was known as burlesque's "Marilyn Monroe." Yes, the resemblance was uncanny! See for yourself.  Here's how she built her act.

Take it off, take it all off,

— Josie

August 10, 2013

Dixie Evans, Who Brought ‘Monroe’ to Burlesque Houses, Dies at 86

By MARGALIT FOX / New York Times

Dixie Evans, a popular stage performer billed as the “Marilyn Monroe of Burlesque” — the first two words in very large letters and the last two in very small ones — died on Aug. 3 in Las Vegas. She was 86.

Her death was announced on the Web site of the Burlesque Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, of which she was a former curator and director.

Ms. Evans was a marquee name at midcentury, mentioned in the same avid breath as Gypsy Rose Lee, Sally Rand and Lili St. Cyr. In later years, she was featured in newspaper articles and television programs about burlesque and appeared in the 2010 documentary “Behind the Burly Q.”

She was profiled in the 1996 book “Holding On: Dreamers, Visionaries, Eccentrics, and Other American Heroes,” by David Isay, with photographs by Harvey Wang.

Reflecting on her unlikely stardom in a 1992 interview with CNN, Ms. Evans said, “I was not that talented and I wasn’t that pretty.”

But her close-enough resemblance to Monroe — enhanced by a peroxide blond coiffure and the uncanny ability of Ms. Evans, who never met her subject, to mimic her speech and shimmy — ensured her success as a locus of transference.

“If you couldn’t meet the real Marilyn,” Ms. Evans told The New York Times in 1998, “you could come to the burlesque and meet me.”

Night after night from the early ’50s onward, at burlesque houses around the country, Ms. Evans took the stage in Monrovian garb and swung into musical numbers that recalled those in Monroe’s films. Unlike Monroe, she ended the numbers far more lightly attired than when she began.

She kept the act going for more than a decade, modifying it enough to mollify Monroe, who at once point threatened to sue. Wherever she played, she drew a devoted, even rarefied, following.

“Walter Cronkite used to come every year to see my act,” Ms. Evans told The Los Angeles Times in 1993.

Frank Sinatra was said to be a fan. So, too, was Joe DiMaggio, who was reported to have visited the show for consolation after his divorce from Monroe in 1954.

Then, in 1962, Monroe’s suicide rendered the act obsolete overnight. As Ms. Evans told The San Francisco Chronicle in 2002, “When she died, I died.”

She held a string of jobs, doing public relations for a hotel in the Bahamas and working as a nurse’s aide in California, before an abandoned goat ranch in a dusty Western town afforded her an improbable return to burlesque’s glittering glory.

 

Mary Lee Evans was born on Aug. 28, 1926, in Long Beach, Calif., to a well-to-do family. Her father, an oilman, died when she was a girl, and the family fortunes declined precipitously. Young Mary worked in the celery fields and during World War II was an airplane mechanic.

 

Dreaming of stardom, she began her stage career as a chorus girl in touring musicals. One night, in her late teens or early 20s, she found herself stranded in San Francisco between jobs with 50 cents in her pocket. She discovered that the local burlesque theater paid four times what she had been earning.

 

A few years later, when Ms. Evans was performing at a Minsky’s burlesque house in Newark, Harold Minsky, the son of the impresario Abraham Minsky, transformed her into Marilyn.

In the late 1980s, Ms. Evans learned that her friend Jennie Lee, a retired burlesque star, was terminally ill with cancer. Ms. Lee, who was living on a former goat ranch in the desert in Helendale, Calif., had created a de facto museum there from her old memorabilia.

Ms. Evans moved in to help care for her, assuming responsibility for the collection after Ms. Lee’s death in 1990. She expanded it into the Exotic World Burlesque Museum and Striptease Hall of Fame, whose holdings included Jennie Lee’s silver-sequined pasties, Gypsy Rose Lee’s wardrobe trunk, the cremated remains of the burlesque queen Sheri Champagne and — perhaps the collection’s most curious artifact — a photograph of Lili St. Cyr with Eleanor Roosevelt.

In 1991, Ms. Evans founded the Miss Exotic World pageant, an annual competition she liked to call the Olympics of burlesque.

In 2006 Ms. Evans moved the competition and the museum, now known as the Burlesque Hall of Fame, to Las Vegas, where she made her home from then on.

 

Ms. Evans’s marriage to Harry Braelow, a prizefighter, ended in divorce. Survivors include a sister, Betty, and many nieces and nephews.

For years in the 1950s, Ms. Evans was a fixture at the Place Pigalle, a burlesque house in Miami Beach. One night, she was arrested.

“Whenever it was election time in Miami, they’d raid the strip joints,” she told The Los Angeles Times in 2009. “I told the judge, ‘Your Honor, this is the same act you saw at the policemen’s show.’ ”

His Honor dropped the charges.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: August 11, 2013

An earlier version of this obituary omitted a survivor, Ms. Evans’s sister, Betty.

(c) 2013 New York Times


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Excerpt from THE CANDIDATE: Pilot Error, or Sabotage?

The-Candidate-Final4I thought I'd treat you to another excerpt from the candidate. 

I had a blast researching this scene, in which a saboteur must make an experienced pilot's plane go down — and make it look like pilot error.

Hope you enjoy it!

— Josie

Buy it on
Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

 

EXCERPT



Smith’s
man, Charlie, had no problem stealing a uniform from one of the two approved
maintenance subcontractors allowed to service planes at that particular
airport. The electronic gate key got him in with no hassles. But just in case
anyone was around to ask questions, he dummied up a fake Airworthiness
Directive and stuck it in his back pocket so he’d have it to wave under the alert
bastard’s nose, if need be.

 The plane was located in one of the newer,
larger hangars at the end of the third row, the one closest to the runway. The
swipe card that opened the hangar’s manual double door had already been coded
to open on command. Once he was inside, he closed the door behind him.

 The job was a piece of cake. First Charlie
loosened a bleed clamp in the pressurization system, but just enough to ensure
that, forty minutes into the flight—by the time the plane reached an altitude
of 26,000 feet or so—the outflow valve would pop off. When that happened, the
cabin would decompress immediately, and all hell would break loose.

 Next he replaced the emergency oxygen tank
with an identical one that was filled with nitrogen instead.

The
pilot’s emergency procedure was predictable. First he’d put on his oxygen mask,
and instruct any passengers to do the same. Then he’d radio the tower for an
emergency descent, and switch the transponder to the MAYDAY signal:
SQUAWK 7700. If he was really quick, he might even have time to put power
all the way back to idle, and pull out spoilers—

PrivatePlaneBefore
the toxic gas flowing into his lungs asphyxiated him.

Of
course, if the pilot’s body were to stay intact—fat chance of that, considering
that the plane’s angle would be steep upon impact—the amount of the gas found
in his lungs would be too negligible to raise suspicions among the NTSB
investigators.

In
other words, the cause of the crash would stay a mystery. 

Personally,
Charlie hoped there wouldn’t be too many passengers onboard. As a former flyboy
himself, nothing annoyed him more than the media’s endless ruminations about
the amount of fatalities caused by “pilot error.”

Then
again, this time around he’d hate for them to suspect the truth.

(c) 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.

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Bonus Book Excerpt! The Housewife Assassin’s Relationship Survival Guide

MG_4331
“Does
champagne make you tipsy?” Sugar CEO Number Two sounds hopeful as he holds a
bottle of Tattinger’s over my glass.

I
reward him with a shy smile. “It’s fun to lose control every now and then,
don’t you agree…Robert?”

As if. I’m beginning
to believe that “control” is this guy’s middle name. It’s anyone’s guess as to
his last name, or any other clue as to his identity.

On
the hour ride from San Francisco to Woodside I had very little success getting
him to talk about what he did for a living. And no matter how many ways I tried
to get him to reveal his last name or his job, he played it coy. “All that
corporate bullshit will bore you to tears, sweetheart. Let’s just keep things
friendly.”

 By “friendly,” he means allowing his hands to
cup my breasts while he probes my molars with his tongue.

I’ve
no doubt he presumes I’m the dessert after the gourmet meal of filet mignon,
broccoli stir-fry and mashed potatoes, which we ate in a private tent
overlooking Woodside California’s polo fields. But now our little picnic is
almost over. I’ve only got another half hour before Robert leaves me for a
white Arabian mare named Pure as Driven Snow.

 To keep him here, I’ll have to be anything
but.

Even
now Arnie whines, “He’s much too close for our facial recognition software to
get a good fix on his features. Can’t you get him to back off?”

“Sure
she can,” Jack, mutters, “By putting her heel in his groin.”

Wishful
thinking on both our parts. Alas, that would defeat the purpose.

Since I got into the car, Emma and
Arnie have been working furiously to place him. But who knew San Francisco had
so many steely-eyed mid-fortysomething corporate bigwigs named “Robert,” who are six feet tall, just-gray-enough-around-the-edges, and own a polo
team?

As
if reading my mind, Emma murmurs into my diamond-studded audio feed, “We’ve
narrowed down the list of potential suspects to five.”

Really?
That many?

Time’s
a’wasting. I toss back the flute of bubbly. Then slowly I run my tongue over my
lips and murmur, “Aren’t you going to join me?”

Robert
sighs. “Believe me, I wish I could. But if I’m going to ride without falling
off my horse, I should hold off until after the match.”

I
give him a playful pout. “It’s no fun getting tipsy all by myself.” I brush
against him when I reach into the picnic hamper. Pulling up another champagne
flute, I whisper, “One tiny little sip won’t knock you off your horse, will
it?”

He
eyes both the glass and me longingly. Finally he nods. “I guess you’re
right.” 

I
take the bottle from his hand. “Let me do the honors. As much as I love being
treated like a queen, today I’d prefer to play handmaiden. ”

That
raises a smile on his face, not to mention a tent in his polo breeches. 

I’m
sure it also helps that, when I pour the champagne into his glass, I arch my
back in such a way that my vee-neck blouse drops between my breasts.

While
his eyes are otherwise occupied, I watch his face for Arnie’s sake, praying now
that I’m just close enough for him to get a lead on the guy. At the same time,
I slide the jade stone on my ring and tilt it so that a dose of SP-117 pours
into his glass.

He
gulps down the champagne. Good, because the sooner his opens up, the better. I
keep up the small talk, complimenting him on topics he’s already deemed safe:
the filet mignon; his Bentley; his polo skills; the size of his biceps beneath
his polo shirt; the size of the tent in his breeches—

Until,
finally, his eyes glaze over. That’s when I know it’s safe to ask, “So, tell me
Robert, what’s your last name?”

“Higginbotham.”
The word comes out in a drowsy whisper.

“Nailed
him,” Arnie and Emma yell into my ear at the same time. She adds, “That name
was on one of my possible five—” at the same time in which Arnie declares, “The
face recognition analysis came through, finally—”

I
close my eyes and shake my head. “One at a time, children, please!”

“He’s
CEO of Catalyst Industries!” Emma’s answer comes out in a rush. “It’s a
conglomerate that owns—”

“—A
variety of biotech companies,” Arnie interjects, “including, Human-A-Sphere, a
chain of bio-genetic profiling labs; Inject-A-Life, a firm that invents
non-invasive surgical procedures; and PharmFarm, the largest agribusiness of
genetically enhanced crops.”

“Any
one of those could provide a terrorist organization with the means to cripple a
nation.” Jack’s voice is emotionless as he states this simple fact.

It’s
time for some answers from the man in question. “Robert Higginbotham, are you a
member of the Quorum?”

He
nods. Whereas that gives visual affirmation, I want to hear it from his lips.
“Answer the question out loud,” I prod him.

 “Yes, I am one of the Quorum Thirteen…well,
now we are eleven…Um, ten.” By his frown, I can tell he’s surprised to hear
himself say this out loud, and to a perfect stranger.

“And
what do your companies do for the Quorum?”

“Each
of them is developing a component for an ethnic bioweapon.”

“What
the hell is that?” Emma asks.

“The
theory is that ethno-bombs can be used to target specific genetic or cultural
anomalies recognized in certain ethnic groups,” Arnie explains. “An organic
example is how white settlers in the US almost wiped out a tribe of indigenous
natives with small pox.”

Emma
lets loose with a piercing whistle. “I can only imagine how the Quorum plans on
using this. Sell it to the highest bidder? Blackmail a government?”

“Try
all of the above,” Jack says.

“How
soon before this project reaches completion?” I ask.

Robert
smiles up at me. “We’re beta-testing now. I’ll be presenting my findings   to
my Quorum brethren at our next meeting. If it is chosen for implementation,
I’ll be poised to be the Quorum’s next leader.”

“Where and when is the
meeting?”

“We’ve yet to receive
that information.”

 “Who are your fellow Quorum members?”

He
shrugs. “We never meet without masks. Anonymity allows us to contribute freely,
without threat of exposure. ”

 “Robert, why are you doing this, even when you
know it’s illegal, unethical, and inhumane?” I have to ask, and not just
because I’m incredulous at his despicable behavior, but to get it on record.

He
stares at me, as if I’m crazy or something. “For the money, of course! Not just
for the fees to our companies, but because of the dividends to thirteen
stockholders of Quorum Ltd.” He chuckles. “Well, for the ten who are left.”

“Donna,
unfortunately you don’t have time to read him the riot act,” Jack says. “So
give Sleeping Beauty his wake-up potion and promise you’ll rendezvous with him
after his match.”

“Will
do.” I pocket Robert’s phone. Then I mix the SP-117 antidote into Robert’s
champagne flute with a pinky finger and hand it to him. “Here, drink this.”

He
gulps it down.

When
Robert comes to, he’s pleasantly surprised to find me straddling him. As I
rise, smoothing the skirt of my dress back into place. “Was it as good for you
as it was for me?”

To
bring him to the right conclusion that we’re both satisfied with our little
picnic hank-panky, I guide his hand to the clasps on the front of my bra.

He
gets the hint, and hooks them into place. “Um….yeah…great!” He smiles, but he
shakes his head, confused. 

After
a long kiss, I help him buckle his breeches. He groans ecstatically as I pat
Bobby Junior back into position and shove him toward the tent door. “Why don’t
we have another go-round, after the match? But only if you’re the victor! I’ll
be cheering from the sidelines, so make Mama proud!”

Robert
stumbles out of the tent like a man with the world at his feet. Still, I have
no doubt that, presented with his own confession, he’ll turn on his Quorum brethren.
If not, those feet will be in shackles for the rest of his life.

And
I know for a fact that they don’t have a polo team in Gitmo.

© 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.

___________________________________

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London. Paris. Guantanamo Bay. 
Donna Stone is looking for love
— and terrorists — in all the wrong places.

In this fourth full-length novel of The Housewife Assassin series, Donna Stone finds out that breaking up is hard to do. 

Then again, so is dating a terrorist, let alone eleven of them! Does this make Donna a serial dater, or a serial killer?

Worse yet, an old flame gets in the way of Donna's chance for true love. 

But she doesn't cry…She gets even.
 

Enter My Contest to win a $100 Gift Card!

(A small portion of this book appeared as a novella in 
"Guns and Roses: A Murder She Writes Anthology".)

LOL! One of my fave scenes in THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN’S GUIDE TO GRACIOUS KILLING

Guide-to-Gracious-Killing-FinalEnjoy!

— Josie

 

EXCERPT

My cell in the Santa Monica hoosegow could do
with a little sprucing up, but my roomies, Big Bitch Bitsy and Shitfaced Leona,
would get in my face and threaten me with some smackdown should I even consider
rearranging their fine collection of Chippendales trading cards, which has been
stuck onto the concrete wall with Bubblicious.

I’ve been in this hellhole for the past seven
hours. I don’t plan on staying here another night. Still, Bitsy (whereas she
uses this as a surname, I don’t want to disrespect her by calling her by the
much less bestie-friendly Big or Bitch) is no fool. She sees me eyeing the
bottom bunk near the window, and wants to set me straight up front that it’s
hers. Bitsy’s fist goes for my nose. To her surprise, I’m able to stop it with
my stiffened palm, and twist her arm out behind her, which is all it takes to
warn her that not only sticks and stones, but pressure in the right spot, is
all it takes to break her bones. Being raised by gentlefolk, I release her with
a warning that doesn’t mar the reputation of the woman who bore her, or
reference some embarrassing part of her anatomy.

You’d think she’d take the hint that I’m not
someone she should be messing with, but no.

The long shadows cast by our cell’s fugly
fluorescent overhead light tip me off that she’s about to stab me with a shiv
made from a metal spring from Leona’s bunk. A roundhouse kick to Bitsy’s gut
sends her reeling backward into the wall. I cram her head against it with my
version of a Vulcan Mind Meld, where pressure points in three key spots on her
cranium has Bitsy repeating every word I say. “I will act like a lady at all
times. I will share with my bunkmates. I will talk in a lady-like voice. I
won’t use my nasty pottymouth.”

Works every time. Thank you, Mr. Spock.

“Tsk, tsk. Is that any way to make friends and
influence enemies?”

I turn around to find Jack smiling at me from
just beyond the bars. So, that was the reason for the salacious whistles and
catcalls coming from the other cells. Usually, it’s for a new prisoner, or as
they call them here, “fresh meat.” This time it’s for six-feet-two-inches of
prime beefcake in an Armani suit.

I wave gaily at him. Okay, it’s more like a
middle-finger salute. “’Bout damn time you got here. If it’s going to take you
seven hours to drive a whole two miles, why do you own a Lamborghini?”

“Because the girls love it.” Noting my raised
brow and Bitsy’s shiv in my hand has him rethinking his answer. “In all
seriousness, Ryan and I are having a hell of a time convincing the local
authorities that you didn’t kill Edwina. It doesn’t help that your prints are
the only ones on the murder weapon.”

“But I explained that to the SWAT guys! It was
in my hand when Breck and I wrestled for it, and he twisted my arm so that it
was pointing at her when he squeezed the trigger.”

“Likely story,” mutters Leona, through her
drunken stupor.

I peel her favorite Chippendale off the wall and
tear it in half. She whimpers, but takes the hint that she better keep mum in
front of my gentleman caller.

Jack shakes his head at my cruelty. “It doesn’t
help that the security video shows you as coming out of the House of Mirrors
right after Breck got shot in there.”

Suddenly, it looks like I’ll have the time to
complete a full makeover of my jail cell.

I smack the bars between us with my fist. “Oh my
God! If I end up in jail for Edwina’s murder, Carl will be given custody of the
kids! I’ve got to get out of this mess!”

“Don’t worry about Carl. The files Edwina left
behind have put him back on the Watch List, and Breck, too for that matter.
Unfortunately, Carl left with Asimov’s contingent before we could stop him.”

“Well, that’s some relief.” I feel tears forming
in my eyes. “What have you told the children about my absence?”

“Just that you were in the wrong place at the
wrong time. Unfortunately, your arrest made the news in a big way. The police
leaked Breck’s version of it. Needless to say, all of Hilldale is buzzing about
it. Penelope and her posse actually believe that you’re jealous of Babette.
Mrs. Breck’s silence on the topic isn’t helping matters.”

“Figures she’d be towing his party line.” I
shake my head in disgust. “Breck is a member of the Quorum. For that alone,
we’ve got to bring him back. Seriously, Jack, what are we going to do?”

“We just have to wait it out, for however long
it takes.” He looks down at his watch “Which should be about… now.”

For just a few seconds, all the lights in the
jail flash.

Jack looks down the hall. Seeing that the two
guards have been distracted by the shouts of the cellmates over this disruption
of their routine, he slips me a small bag through the bars.

“That was Arnie,” he mutters, just barely loud
enough for me to hear. “He’s just put their security feed on a loop. It’ll run
for a couple of hours. In the meantime, this spray turns these two into
sleeping beauties. If need be, you can use the spray on the guards, too, but I
think the diversion Arnie is causing in Cell Block C will keep them busy for
awhile. We guessed at the uniform size. The smart card gets you through every
door in this joint. Abu and I will be waiting down the block in his ice cream
truck.”

I give him a thumbs up. I wish I could kiss him,
but I don’t want to make my roomies jealous.

I’m just glad he’s kept his shirt on, and he’s
kept his a bowtie and French cuffs at home.

(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



Fabulous! The movie trailer for Woody Allen’s latest, “Blue Jasmine”, starring Cate Blanchett

 

I'm a total Woody Allen fan, and even had a Woody sighting myself, when he was filming his latest flick, "Blue Jasmine," here in San Francisco.

I think the trailer looks great. I love seeing all the San Francisco/Marin County shots, including a scene on the Muni F Line (the 1947 Philadelphia trolley car); several locales in Belvedere, California, across the Golden Gate Bridge; the bar, Aub ZamZam, in the Haight; Market Street; Geary Street; the Sunset District–

And of course, Ocean Beach.  

Hey, even the quaint Mount-Tam-hugging  town, Larkspur, California got into the picture.

And Cate Blanchett looks sublime, doing her "StreetCar Named Desire"-esque Blanche Dubois routine on her sister (played by British "Happy Go Lucky" wonder girl, Sally Hawkins).

It's a wonderfully updated take on that Tennessee Williams classic.

I love it that Alec Baldwin is Woody's new Every Patrician.

Definitely worth checking out, for the eye candy alone.

Because we always rely on the kindness of strangers (and no one is stranger to us than family),

–Josie

 


The-Candidate-Final4
THE CANDIDATE

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In all online bookstores June 15, 2013!

Seduction and intrigue are rampant on the campaign trail when a political campaign adviser discovers that Washington's power broker elite have embroiled his presidential candidate in a plot involving an act of terrorism on US soil…

SYNOPSIS

Democratic political campaign consultant Ben Brinker can’t remember the last time he was excited by a candidate’s vision. He feels he’s lost his way, both emotionally and professionally. Worst yet, his show-me-the-money policy seems to have finally caught up with him. Two of his recent clients have been disgraced in one way or another: a senator is caught in lurid sex scandal, and a congressman is indicted in a kickback scandal. In no time at all the political pundits are calling Ben a "candidate cooler." Now Ben is desperate for any campaign gig he can get.

As luck would have it, Andrew Harris Mansfield, the charismatic junior senator from North Carolina  and former Marine pilot, asks Ben if he wants to run his soon-to-be-announced campaign for president.

Little does Ben know what's in store for Andrew, or their country–

Nor does he realize that the key to saving both have been placed in his hands.

Read an excerpt here…

Enter THE CANDIDATE'S Contest for a $100 Gift Card!

 

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THE CANDIDATE

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In all online bookstores June 15, 2013 

ENTER MY CONTEST FOR A $100 GIFT CARD 
FROM YOUR FAVORITE BOOKSTORE!

Seduction and intrigue are rampant on the campaign trail when a political campaign adviser discovers that Washington's power broker elite have embroiled his presidential candidate in a plot involving an act of terrorism on US soil…

SYNOPSIS

Democratic political campaign consultant Ben Brinker can’t remember the last time he was excited by a candidate’s vision. He feels he’s lost his way, both emotionally and professionally. Worst yet, his show-me-the-money policy seems to have finally caught up with him. Two of his recent clients have been disgraced in one way or another: a senator caught in lurid sex scandal, and a congressman is indicted in a kickback scandal. In no time at all the political pundits are calling Ben a "candidate cooler." Now Ben is desperate for any campaign gig he can get.

As luck would have it, Andrew Harris Mansfield, the charismatic junior senator from North Carolina  and former Marine pilot, asks Ben if he wants to run his soon-to-be-announced campaign for president.

Little does Ben know what's in store for Andrew, or their country–

Nor does he realize that the key to saving both have been placed in his hands.

EXCERPT

The care and feeding of Andrew Mansfield’s most generous campaign donors was well underway by the time Ben got to the Fairmont on that drizzly New Year’s Eve. Dinner was served promptly, the Tattingers flowed freely, and the up-tempo tunes emanating from the ten-piece orchestra on the Colonnade Room’s center stage lured a constant wave of the senator’s well-heeled guests onto the dance floor, so few if any of them minded the long wait to be endured prior to partaking in their prime objective: a few fleeting but memorable moments with Mansfield, in which he shook their hands and intoned a heartfelt thanks to them for ponying up $2,500-per-person for a plate of the Fairmont’s renowned Shenandoah Valley grilled rib eye of bison, the proceeds of which would go to the Mansfield Presidential Exploratory Committee fund.

As requested, Ben, tuxedoed and manure-free, arrived punctually at eleven o’clock. Waiting for him at the ballroom’s double-door entry was Sukie Carmichael, Mansfield’s aide-de-camp, a slight spinsterish woman with an unruly red mane. He followed her lead as she wove around banquet tables and partying revelers.

ElegantThey ended up in front of a door that was hidden behind a few potted ferns. In the small anteroom on the other side of it were two men. Immediately Ben recognized the eldest as Preston Alcott III– the managing partner at Corcoran Adams Webster and Alcott, the oldest, most revered law firm in Washington. Besides being a celebrated lawyer, Alcott served as gatekeeper to the country’s aristocracy. The sway he held over statesmen, monarchs, even dictators the world over was legendary.

The esteemed attorney was in his mid-seventies but could easily pass for a much younger man–ramrod straight and broad shouldered as he was. Even seated, Ben could tell he was a tall man. His eyes were piercingly bright, and befitting his role of patrician, his hair was full and white.

Ben had done his research. He knew that Alcott was also the executor of Abigail Vandergalen Mansfield’s trust, not to mention the blind trusts of the current POTUS and his wife, Edward and Elinor Barksdale, and the estates of an impressive percentage of the Forbes 400. No doubt Alcott was there to ensure that Abby’s very expensive investment in her husband’s political career would pay off in the largest and most important dividend of all: executive power. 

Alcott’s presence there was proof that Ben wouldn’t be handed the job carte blanche.

Fuck it. I need to score this gig—and a win—to prove I’m back in the game, thought Ben. Even if that means kissing Alcott’s ass.

So it’s show time. . . .

As Sukie made the introductions all around, Ben shook Alcott’s hand and gave a reverential bow. “It’s an honor, Mr. Alcott.”

“Ah, the kingmaker.” As Alcott’s eyes cursorily swept over him, Ben held his gaze.

“No sir. That would be your title, not mine.”

Alcott’s slight nod indicated his grudging approval at the response, but Ben was fully aware that the real grilling hadn’t even started.

The man standing with Alcott chuckled nervously. Still his handshake, two-handed and firm, made up for his obvious apprehension in the presence of Alcott. “Paul Twist. I’m Andy’s finance chair.”

Ben recognized the name. “Also a partner at Cochran Adams. And Andy’s best friend. You guys roomed together in law school, right? It’s a pleasure to meet you, too.”

Andy’s buddy’s nodded genially. “Your track record is a thing of wonder, Mr. Brinker. But you’ve yet to manage a presidential campaign, am I right?” 

“Yes. That is, not until now. In that regard, the senator and I are both underdogs going into this thing.”What, did you think I wasn’t going to point out that your boy doesn’t have his own party’s blessing? Fat chance. “We both know the deciding factors differ every four years. But one thing doesn’t change: The candidate who wins is the one who has the ability to embody the message the public wants to hear, to get that message out to the media, and to respond immediately to any bullshit that the other side might toss our way.  As my track record shows, it’s what I bring to the table.”

 “That’s all well and good. It’s too bad it didn’t work for Calder.” Alcott’s smile said it all: You lose

Upon hearing the congressman’s name, Ben gave an involuntary wince. “As long as you can assure me that Senator Mansfield’s, er, skeletons aren’t anywhere near as fertile, I’ll take your candidate all the way to the White House—”

Andy Mansfield’s hearty laugh roared through the anteroom. Ben looked up to find the senator standing in the doorway. He had his arm around a woman of slight build and medium height, with long pale hair, pulled back severely from her anxious face and twisted into a chignon. Ben recognized her immediately: Abigail Vandergalen. She was, perhaps, eight years younger than her husband. Her black gown, a sequined sheath that she wore under a cropped lace jacket, was obviously expensive, but its elegance was undermined by the slump of her shoulders and her pensive grimace. Her squared-off pumps didn’t help, either.

In fact, if Ben had to choose one thing that stood out about Abigail Vandergalen Mansfield, he’d say not a thing–except for her eyes, which were deep set, and as blue and sparkling as rough-cut sapphires. At least, from what he could tell in the few seconds in which they actually met his before her innate shyness forced her to turn away again.

Unfortunately her small thick-framed glasses did nothing to enhance them. Damn shame she has so little charisma. We’ll have to get her into media training yesterday to keep that from hurting Mansfield on the campaign trail—

Andy nodded at all three men, but it was Ben whom he slapped on the back. “These two will swear up one side and down the other that I’m holier than a saint.”

“And they should know, I presume.”

 “There is only one person who knows me better. I’d like to introduce you to Abby.”

Ben gave her his patented thousand-watt smile. “Pleased to meet you, Mrs. Mansfield.”

“Call me Abby, please. And I hope you’ll allow me to call you Ben.” This time when she looked up at him, her eyes didn’t waiver. In fact they seemed to look right through him. “You’ll have to excuse us for being tardy, Mr. Brinker. I was still on the dance floor when you arrived.”

“And giving an earful to some very earnest young man from the Auto Alliance. He was naive enough to insist that Detroit is doing all it can to cut emissions.” Andy gave his wife’s arm a squeeze. “You see, reducing our country’s petroleum consumption is a pet peeve of my wife’s.”

“To the point where she insisted that I divest her portfolio of any and all oil company stocks, and buy into clean energy start-ups instead.” Alcott’s disapproval was evidenced by the disdain in his voice. “One’s personal ideology shouldn’t impinge on one’s investment strategy.”

“I’ve always appreciated your concern over my financial matters, Preston. You know that.” Abby’s tone was soft, but firm. “But I refuse to support industries that are the problem, not the solution. Don’t you agree, Mr. Brinker?”

“Personally, my philosophy is ‘whatever floats your boat.’ Heck, I know people who choose their stocks the way others pick horses at the racetrack: because they like the name. It’s all a game of chance, right?” He shrugged. “Now if you’re asking my professional opinion, I’d say your instincts—be those personal or political—are ingenious. In fact, if a list of your green investments were to be ‘accidentally’ leaked to a few of the right reporters, they’d be duly impressed that you put your money where your mouth is. And what they’d write would sway a lot of independents and undecideds, not to mention any Dems looking to come our way.”

“But we don’t just ‘dabble in stocks.’ For the past six years in a row, my husband has been voted the greenest Republican in the Senate. We’re making inroads in convincing our party that being green isn’t just environmentally smart–it’s also fiscally responsible. Some of the country’s greenest business visionaries have stepped up and offered their support. They’re excited that Andy is making the greening of America a national mandate. If we’re going to—well, to put it somewhat indelicately, quit sucking on the ‘tit’ of foreign oil–we have stop cold turkey.”

Ben nodded, impressed. “You’re right, Abby. That message coming from a Republican candidate is big news.”

 Andy smiled. “You now see, Brinker, why I’ve come to realize that Abby’s instincts are always right on the mark. In fact, it’s why you’re here tonight.”

“How so?”

“It was Abby who suggested that I approach you to run my campaign in the first place.”

Noting the quizzical look on Ben’s face, Abby turned away shyly. Andy, on the other hand, smiled at Ben’s obvious disbelief. “Even before we ran into each other, she said—and she’s correct—that crossing Talbot would be political suicide for any of our party’s favored campaign advisors, so we should find the best Democratic consultant; someone who knows how that party thinks—and how to strategize against our frontrunner. And someone who wouldn’t be afraid to take the gloves off, when the time came. As always, she called it. So I guess Calder’s implosion was my good fortune. And yours.” He gave Ben a knowing grin. “Which is why I’m hoping you’ve passed Preston’s inquisition.”

 “Times will be a lot tougher, Andrew, if this boondoggle of yours doesn’t pay off.” Alcott took a sip of his drink. “Six hundred million is a lot of money to bet on a longshot. And if you lose, so does Abby, since it’s her money that will be the initial seed capital for your campaign. As you can imagine, the thought of that makes me very uncomfortable.”

“But he won’t lose.” By the way Abby said it Ben could tell that she wasn’t being naive, but just stating the facts as she saw them. “Certainly Vice President Talbot has his supporters. In the past, they’ve funded him fully—and have prospered, along with him, based on a failing energy policy. However the rest of us are ready for new leadership, both in the party and in the White House. With your help, Ben, that will be Andy.”

 So the mouse isn’t afraid to roar. Interesting.

 “As you can see, Preston, Abby is one hundred percent behind backing my campaign—and behind Ben, too. And as always, she has the last word.” Andy’s point was made: Game over.

At that, Alcott gave a resigned shrug. Paul, on the other hand, tried to hide his smirk.

Knowing he’d trumped any argument to the contrary, Andy turned to Ben. “So what do you say? Are you in?”

Hmmm, thought Ben, Now let me get this straight: I get to redeem myself with a candidate who is a seasoned politician from a large swing state, and whose wife has a trust fund that rivals Iceland’s gross domestic product. To top it off, he’s as pure as driven snow . . .

Hell yeah, where else would I be?

Not that he had to say that out loud. His smile said it all.

Andy shook his hand. “Great! You’ll make a great wingman. We have a few minutes before I jump onstage to ring in the New Year. Let’s compare notes on New Hampshire —”

*** 

She was nicely naughty, a raven-haired sylph with a sleek chin-length bob and a come-hither beauty mark on the left side of her luscious lips. One dainty foot, encased in a high-heeled diamond studded ruby slipper, was propped high on the rung of the bar stool next to her, unleashing her leg—long, strong, lean, and slim at the ankle—from the skin-tight red velvet gown sliced high on her thigh.

There was nothing Ben wanted more than to play her Prince Charming.

Hell, why not? It was just a few minutes before midnight. His timing was perfect.

He had zoned out somewhere in the middle of Andy’s speech. There were only so many ways a politician can inspire his constituency, and Ben had heard them all before. In a long career he would hear them all again.

 So instead he searched out the nearest bar. Time to celebrate his resurrection.

There was one in the back of the ballroom, but the line was too long. The second one, in the hotel lobby, right outside the ballroom’s open door, was empty—

Except for Little Red Ride Me Hard.

Of course at that point he just presumed she’d live up to that fantasy. Still, he’d be willing to bet on it. The giveaway was what he saw on the spot where her backless gown came to a vee at the base of her spine:

A tattoo of a broken heart.

 Perfect. He liked his women heartbroken. That keeps it simple. She wouldn’t expect it to go  beyond tonight. 

Particularly on New Year’s Eve, when no one wants to go home alone.

He wondered if he’d still be able to make out his candidate’s punch lines from the barstool beside Red Velvet. The senator’s jokes seemed to be going over big with the crowd, if the waves of laughter emanating from the room were any indication.

Yeah, no problem, he thought. Mansfield was coming in loud and clear . . .

If Ben cared to listen at all.

A sleek blade of her hair sliced her milky shoulders as she threw back her head and nudged a last lethargic drop from her martini glass.

 “The lady will have another. And a scotch, neat, for me.” He skirted a twenty toward the bartender.

“Do I look that easy?” Red Velvet pretended to pout but couldn’t hold it together. Her full-throated laugh was an outright dare.

Easy? Heck, yeah.

And for some reason, she looked familiar, too. But he couldn’t quite place it. Something about the slant of her cheek. Or maybe he had once lost himself in the deep mossy depths of those luminous eyes peeking out under those brow-grazing bangs . . .

No, if he had met Red Velvet before, he would have certainly remembered. He shook his head. “If you want my opinion, I’d say you look thirsty.” He slid onto the bar chair next to her. “Besides, who wants to drink alone on New Year’s Eve?”

“Who says I’m alone?”

Ben made the grand gesture of craning his neck around her then shrugged. “Unless you’re dating the Invisible Man, I’m your best bet.”
Couple-kissing-w352

This time her smile was a bit forced. “Yeah, that’s my guy. Invisible. But you’ll still have to convince me that you’re the better man.”

“Don’t doubt that I can.”

“I won’t. Not in a million years——” she murmured, drinking him in. As she casually took the object of his affection—that beautiful leg—and crossed it over its perfect match, he felt his cock harden—“but you’ll have to try hard, just the same.”

That was when he kissed her.

It stunned her. He could tell by the tiny gasp she gave. He barely heard it though, because just then the crowd began the countdown to midnight—

58 . . .57 . . .56 . . .

He could hear Mansfield’s voice booming above it all: “Ah, here we go! And wouldn’t you know it, I’ve lost my wife! Abigail? Abby? Come on up here, honey, don’t be shy—”

That was when Ben’s red velvet dream bit his lip then licked the wound so lovingly, so passionately.

That for a moment there, he almost forgot to breathe. . . .

 

© 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.

 

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

Polka Dot AxMemorial 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.

————————————————-

 


HAH-Hanging-Man-Oct-5-2012

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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