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ENTER TO WIN The Housewife Assassin's Underwater Assets Launch Contest


  • GRAND PRIZE: A $100 Gift Card to the Bookstore of Your Choice, and an autographed copy of any of my novels.
  • 2 other lucky winners will each get a $50 gift card to the bookstore of their choice, and an autographed copy of any of my novels.

To enter, all you have to do is:

  • Read the excerpt provided; then
  • Correctly answer this question: 


What is the name of the ship to which the body is tethered?



  • No purchase is necessary.
  • All correct answers will be posted on the contest page.
  • All correct answers received before Midnight Pacific Time on Monday, September 2, 2024, will be included in the contest.


Good luck! —Josie



PRE-ORDER NOW IN


Good luck! —Josie



CHAPTER 1:

Underwater Asset


An underwater asset is one that is worth less than you paid for it. 


For example, homeowners are considered “underwater” if their mortgage is larger than what the home is now worth. 


The same can be said about relationships. If you or your partner value each other less than when you first fell in love, an emotional foreclosure may be imminent. In marital terms, this is known as a “divorce.”


Solution: a continuous investment of time, effort, communication, and sex will certainly pull it out of the red—and perhaps make it your most precious asset. 


Time to find out, wouldn’t you say?


***


The palm trees surrounding our personal lagoon’s sugary beach sway gently like drunken dancers at last call. The ocean breezes counterbalance the hot sun in the cloudless sky. If you’ve deduced that my husband Jack and I are far away from the rest of humanity (not to mention our stock in trade: avenging the horrendous crimes against it), you’d be spot on.


We are at Kisiwa cha Paradiso, a private island off the coast of Zanzibar that hosts only thirty guests at any given time. Arrivals and departures—via yacht or plane—are scheduled in advance and are strictly adhered to, unless there’s an emergency. Or, to quote its brochure: “Though rare, here at Kisiwa cha Paradiso, any unforeseen incidents that may cause a guest’s change of plans are regrettable, but accommodated with speed and discretion.” 


After reading this, Jack declared, “With all this luxury, who’d ever want to leave? Heck, I want to move in permanently!”


But of course, he does, and I can’t say I blame him.


When we checked in last week, our personal concierge, Tisa, took us to our cabana. Though our hut looks rustic on the outside, its interior is tricked out with all the amenities that encourage pleasure and pampering: a two-person tub surrounded by an abundant collection of scented candles and lots of bubbles and bath salts, a fireplace, lazily-whirling ceiling fans, a fully-stocked gourmet galley kitchen, and a small wine cellar.


After demonstrating all it had to offer, Tisa assured us, “If it is your desire, you never have to see anyone else—guest or staff.” With a dimpled smile, she added, “However, should you need anything at all, just leave a note in your hut’s dumbwaiter and I will personally take care of it.”


As she pointed to the built-in drawer, an ornate bracelet glistened on her wrist: sterling silver, adorned with her name.


“How beautiful!” I exclaimed.


Shyly, she explained, “A gift from someone dear to me.”


The hut’s centerpiece is a king-size bed, where we make love: gently, at first, until our passion gets the better of us. Our orgasms are accompanied by ecstatic moans that startle the parrots roosting in the neighboring palms. Screeching indignantly, they fly away.


Ah, well. Too bad! This much-needed vacation has been like a second honeymoon for us. 


Okay, really, it’s the first one, since the original was interrupted by Jack’s kidnapping.


Between blissful bouts of lovemaking, we order room service: fish caught straight from the ocean before being spiced, grilled, and served with rice from local paddies; pineapples, mangoes, passionfruit, papaya, and bananas plucked from the surrounding trees. Other epicurean delights are created from the provisions carefully chosen by world-renowned chefs and served with appropriate wines. 


Though we see no one, our every whim is sated. We know when our requests arrive because, as Tisa promised, we hear a tinkling bell as a large basket is placed in the hut’s dumbwaiter.


Most importantly, we sleep as if we didn’t have a care in the world. 


Except for the night before last. For some reason, I woke up with a start. I dreamt I heard motor boats. Had some of the resort's other guests with mega-yachts—taken a wrong turn into our lagoon?


Naked, I rolled out of bed to take a look from the floor-to-ceiling glass wall that gives us a straight-on view of the water. Without moonlight, all I saw was inky darkness. My ears picked up the sound of a boat’s engine, but by then it had grown fainter—


Then silent.


They were gone.


To the rich, the celebrated, or the infamous, even Kisiwa cha Paradiso’s plethora of luxuries takes second place to its promise of absolute privacy. Guests expect to be unplugged and off the grid: no cell phones, WiFi, or internet connection. No computers or television, and no satellite phone. The postman doesn’t ring at all, let alone twice.


Good riddance and bon voyage, lost yacht. 


Now that we’re in the middle of our second week here, we’re curious enough to wander beyond the lagoon’s perimeter. Jack suggests we take the trail to the guest lounge. 


We first pass its all-glass exercise cabana. Despite being alone, the resort’s yoga instructor, lithe and muscular, is putting herself through the paces of her regimen. After positioning herself into the child’s pose and then the happy baby, she moves back and forth from cat to cow to cobra before bending into a chair and then folding into a downward dog. By the time she’s shifted from the warrior to the posterior-tightening bridge lift, Jack is mesmerized.


To pull him out of his trance, I snap my fingers in his awed face. “I know those moves too.”


He smiles. “You taught me a few of them this morning.”


I shake my head. “Silly boy! The Kama Sutra isn’t anywhere near as relaxing.”


He sighs at the memory. “But it’s a helluva workout.”


We move on to the terrace where a buxom barmaid is drying glasses while a bartender, brawny and bronzed, tosses a cocktail shaker high into the air, catches it behind his back, then pours its contents—circular ice cubes and an amber liquid—into two cut-crystal lowballs. After garnishing each glass with an orange peel, he grins up at me. 


Jack and I take a couple of barstools directly in front of him. “I’ll bet those have our names on them,” Jack declares.


“They do indeed, sir.” The bartender gives me a sly wink. “Negronis.” Glancing at the clock on the wall, he adds, “In fact, you’re right on time.”


The barmaid giggles.


“What’s so funny?” I ask.


Shyly, she ducks her head.


“What is your name?” Jack asks.


“Zahara,” she says.


He hands her a twenty-dollar bill. “Tell us, Zahara, why you laughed and you’ll earn another one of these.”


She eyes the bartender.


He sighs. “You know the rules. Whatever sir and madame wish.”


“But…that is even more than the staff bet…” Realizing her faux pas, her voice trails off and her cheeks pink up. Lowering her eyes, she whispers, “What I mean to say is that… well, Ahmed has won a bet.”


Now it’s Jack’s turn to laugh. “Congratulations, Ahmed! What gave us away?”


I can’t stand it any longer. “What exactly are we talking about?”

My question has the barmaid skedaddling, whereas Ahmed grimaces.


“They were betting how long before we’d come up for air,” Jack explains.


Now I’m giggling too. Finally, I gasp, “Congratulations, Ahmed, for your lucky guess!”


Stoically, he shakes his head. “It wasn’t luck, madame, but an educated supposition!” 


“Ah! Well, tell me how you reached your hypothesis.”


Ahmed then adds, “It’s been several hours since the parrots left the lagoon.”


Now Jack and I are laughing so hard that we almost fall off our barstools. “And how did you know we like Negronis?” I ask.


“It’s my job to know, madame—and the rest of the staff is also attuned to your preferences.”


“Ah! Then Tisa has done everything she promised,” Jack replies. “Where is she now? I’d like to thank her personally.”


The bartender’s grin fades and his eyes go blank. “I…was told that she has left the island.”


“We’re sorry to hear that,” Jack replies. “I was under the assumption she’d be here for the duration of our stay.”


“I’d heard it was a…a family emergency.” Ahmed stares down at his feet.


“When she comes back, please tell her that she left us in good hands,” I reply softly.


At first, Ahmed says nothing. Then, hesitantly, he adds, “She told me that you were very special people.”


“In what way?” I ask.


“She said that from the time you and Mr. Craig got off the plane, you glowed in the love you shared. That never once did your eyes leave each other, and that you held onto each other as if for dear life.” 


To be expected. Having been faced with death on too many occasions, we know all too well how dear life can be.


Jack and my eyes meet now. We click our glasses, take a sip, and head back to our hut, drinks in tow.


If we extend our vacation another week, maybe we’ll break our current record.

 

I’m willing to try. My guess: Jack is too.


***


Scaring the parrots isn’t the prime objective. We both know this. Instead, it’s our creativity in the when, where, and how we do it.


The heat of the mid-day sun has heightened the lagoon’s smells. The berry-lush bouquet of heliotrope in tandem with the heady fragrance of gardenias and the dense scent of plumeria is the perfect aphrodisiac to stimulate our desire for mutual pleasure.


As Jack’s raft floats toward me, I think of all the ways I can coerce him to please me yet again, and what I can do to reciprocate. For example, I could silently swim up beside him, awaken him by drizzling his chest with lukewarm droplets, and then allow him to pull me up on the raft beside him. Or I could take hold of the raft and slowly ease it beside the dock that juts out beyond our hut and then whisper, “Take me inside…” 


I opt for the first scenario. Is the raft strong enough to hold us both? 


A much more important question: can it sustain the frenzy of our lust? Or will our thrusts burst it, leaving us grabbing for each other as we gasp for air?


There’s only one way to find out.


While one of my hands holds his raft steady, the other moves to Jack’s chest, fingers spread wide as it combs through the hairs to his abdomen. When I’ve reached his belly button, my index finger taunts him as it makes its way downward. 


No surprise: Jack is already stiff and ready to play. He tries to pull me up on the raft beside him—


But, instead, he flips it over. 


The force is great enough that we plummet deep into the lagoon’s clear depths.

Like mine, Jack’s eyes are open. He grins as he glides my way —


But then something behind me catches his attention and his smile fades. Bypassing me, he swims over to it.


I turn around to see what has gotten his attention:


A dead, naked woman.


Tisa.


In the water, her tight dark curls sway with the current. Though her lids are open, her eyes are no longer in their sockets.


The chain around her waist is tethered to a large scuppered yacht of recent vintage. I follow Jack as he swims around to its stern. We read the vessel’s name:


ZERO-SUM GAME

Charlestown, Nevis


By now, my lungs are burning. Jack’s must be too, because he signals me to head to the surface.


We break through the water, gagging for air. 


Silently, we mull over what we’ve discovered. Realizing what we must do next — alert the resort, then meet with local law enforcement — Jack’s groans are loud enough to scare the parrots. 


They scatter overhead.



I know what he’s thinking:


The honeymoon is over.


(c) 2023 Josie Brown. All rights reserved.



Now, to Win 1 of 3 $50 Gift Cards, correctly correctly answer this question: 

What is the name of the ship to which the body is tethered?


  • No purchase is necessary.
  • All correct answers will be posted on the contest page.
  • All correct answers received before Midnight Pacific Time on Monday, September 2, 2024, to be included in the contest.



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