Yes, we have a winner in the HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN’S RELATIONSHIP SURVIVAL GUIDE contest!

Woman-with-ereader
Nothing is more fun than contacting someone to tell them, "You've won a prize!"

No joke. I truly feel that way.

Okay, unless it's to say, "You're the sweetest person in the world, and I want you to know I'm thinking about you today."

My contest for The Housewife Assassin's Relationship Survival Guide Contest just ended, and yes, I have reached the winner for the $100 giftcard, to the bookstore of the winner's choice:

She is ConnieVB.

From the bottom of my heart, I'd like to thank her, as well as everyone who entered.

Here's the part where I say, to each and every one of you,  "You're the sweetest person in the world, and I want you to know I'm thinking about you today."

If I could, I would have picked each and every one of you as winners. (Wouldn't that be cool? Note to self: buy more Lotto tickets...)

But to my mind, you're more than that. You're  kind and generous people who have gifted me your time in order to learn about, and appreciate, my stories.

I also want to tell those of you who went for the bonus points that I truly appreciate the fact that you too the time to write  reviews for my Housewife Assassin series.  In fact, it was ConnieVB's sixth entry that was chosen, via RandomResult.com

I've attached the screenshot of her winning entery, here:


HARSG Winner Screenshot
So you see? When a contest invites you to enter as often as possible, go for it, because you never know when it pays off. 

I'm always in awe of those who take the time to post reviews, even when I'm not running a contest. They do so, just because they enjoyed one of my novels. 

I've put it this message in my books, and I mean it: we authors live and die by our reviews. It is the best way of encouraging other readers to try us, to sample us, to buy us, to read us, and hopefully to love us.  

You see, the more you express you love, the more likely it is that we can keep writing books. Every novelist I know works very hard at his or her craft, not as a hobby, but because it pays the rent and puts food on his or her family's table. Would we quit writing if it didn't? 

I hope I never find out the answer to that question. The Housewife Assassin novels and other books in which I can control the prices are only $3.99 for a reason: Not only do I want to write them, I want to make them affordable enough for you to buy them. Some coffee drinks at Starbucks cost more. Here's hoping the enjoyment you get from my books last longer.

It may take you a few days to read a book, but it takes us months–sometimes years–to write them.We do so because our art and craft  drives us.

 At the same time, it is our hope that it also entertains you. 


HA-Vacation-to-Die-For-v2The fifth book in the Housewife Assassin series, The Housewife Assassin's Vacation to Die For, will be out by August 15, 2013
. The moment it launches in the online bookstores, I'll send out my eLetter. If you aren't already on it, please feel free to sign up for it here.

I'll also be launching a redesigned and updated version of my very first novel, True Hollywood Lies. You'll read about my contests for both books in my eLetter, and here on my blog as well as on my website.

 When I wrote ConnieVB to tell her that she'd won, I also asked her to tell me a little about herself, so that I can share it with you. I've done this with each of my contests because, dear readers, when I hear back from you, I can lift my head from my computer screen and know that I've touched someone, in some small way.

Here's how ConnieVB puts it:

"Okay, so when I read the subject of your email my first thought was not me. Then when I read the note it was shut the front door!  LOL

I have loved talking about your books, all of them, not just the housewife series.  They are so much fun to read!  It makes me glad that I finally broke down and bought a kindle and loaded it with free books. :)  I adore books and swore I'd never go electronic.  There is just something about the feeling of a book and turning the pages.  I have a ton of books that I've read but if someone were to open one up now the spine would still crack, I was that careful with them. :)  I'm especially glad that in turn I got to know you.  You're such a sweetheart!

As far as including something about me in your blog…..well, now I'm speechless lol

I love to read but I also enjoy cooking, baking, and stitching.  All the domestic stuff that no one expects from an opinionated feminist like myself. 🙂

In my free time I'm a domestic goddess taking care of my awesome husband, two children, and our two furry kids.

I enjoy theatre, music, movies and hope to see the world one day."

True-Hollywood-Lies-Cover-FinalThere is a lot about ConnieVB that is just like me (except for the domestic goddess part. I've let that be Donna's role. It's easier to write about it than to be it.)

And I'm sure there is a lot about ConnieVB that is like you, too.

If Donna and her stories have done anything for me, it is that it's created a wonderful community of those of us who share a sense of humor, a sense of books, and a sense of life.

I couldn't be happier than to welcome all of you to my world.

Thank you for making me a part of yours, too.

— Josie

TGIF Excerpt: The Housewife Assassin’s Handbook: “Her Kitten Heel on His Throat”

Man-wearing-towelI've been told that the verbal sparring between Donna Stone, the heroine in The Housewife Assassin's Handbook, and Jack Craig, the hero of the series, is hot enough to steam an ice cube. 

Works for me.

For my TGIF except, I've chosen their first meet-up, which has Jack on his back with Donna's heel at his throat.

But not for long.

Enjoy! And if you do so, download from Amazon, Kobo, or Apple, where it's free. It's 99 cents  in BN.com. I've put links below the exerpt.

Josie

EXCERPT

“You know, you’re kind of cute when you’re
angry.” When, finally, he can speak, his words come out in a husky mutter.

I’m guessing that’s because I’ve got my kitten
heel on his jugular.

He’s lucky I’m not wearing my six-inch fuck-me
stilettos.

“You think so? You should ask around about
that…Oh, sorry, you can’t—because anyone who’s seen me really angry has never
lived to tell about it.”

Despite my chokehold, he’s able to mumble out,
“I love it when you talk dirty to me.”

“Oh yeah? Tell, me, do you love it when I do
this?” I press his arm to the breaking point. “And how about this?” I lean down
on my heel again, but just enough.

I’m enjoying the sound of him rasping for air
when, from the other side of the door, I hear Mary ask, “Mom, is everything
okay in there?”

That breaks my concentration, enough for him to
grab my ankle. Next thing I know it’s me who’s facedown, on the bed. I can feel
his knee in the center of my back. The pressure he’s putting on me is
excruciating, but I’m not going to let him know that.

“If you don’t answer her, she’ll walk in here
and find us… like this.” This is murmured more as a promise than a threat. I
don’t know what makes me angrier: the thought that he thinks he’s scaring me,
or the realization that the warmth of his breath on my cheek is turning me on.

Either way, I won’t give him the satisfaction of
knowing it.

I resist the urge to spit in his face. Instead I
collect myself, and then in my best sing-song mommy voice, I answer, “Yes,
honey, everything is fine! We’re just moving a few boxes in the closet. Why
don’t you go downstairs and check on the chicken? If it’s browned, lower the
oven to 275. Oh! And do me a favor, and mash the potatoes.”

“Um… Okay. Just call down if you need anything.”
She sounds uncertain, but a moment later I hear all three of my children
clomping down the stairs.

He’s listening closely, too. I inch my one free
hand up slowly. I’m hoping to punch him in the groin—

As if reading my mind, he grabs my arm and curls
it behind my back. “Gee, Mrs. Stone, I didn’t take you for the kind who liked
the rough stuff, but whatever turns you on.”

To keep from groaning in pain, I let loose with
a litany of words that, had I’d heard them coming from my own kids’ mouths,
would have me reaching for a bar of soap.

“You’ve got quite a little potty mouth, now
don’t you?” To drive his point home, he gives me a smack on the ass. “You know,
I can play like this all night, but the boss man may not be too pleased that
we’re keeping him waiting.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” I hiss at
him. “Just who are you, anyway?”

I guess he realizes that this really isn’t my
idea of a meet-and-greet because suddenly he eases his knee off my back. “You
mean you really don’t know? And all this time I thought this was just your way
of welcoming me to the family. I hadn’t had you pegged for the type who gets
into rough foreplay—”

“Foreplay?” I’m so riled that I sit straight up.
So, he wants it rough? Wait until I pull out the Taser I’ve stashed under the
mattress…

Then it hits me: “Wait, start over. What do you
mean, ‘welcoming you to the family?’ Just who are you, anyway?”

“I’m Jack Craig—”

The name sounds familiar. Where have I heard
it…?

Now I remember! What is it that they call him on
the spook loops? Oh, yeah: Wild Card Jack. The agent known to shirk protocol
whenever it suits him; to bend the rules according to his whims. He’s not above
going rogue when the impulse hits—

Especially if there’s a woman around to impress.

“—but you can call me ‘Carl darling.’ That’s as
my new alias.”

I can’t believe my ears. “The mission calls for
you to pretend to be my husband? No! No way in Hell—”

“Look lady, don’t shoot the messenger. It was
Ryan’s idea. I told him it was crazy, too.” He shrugs. “No one in their right
mind would believe I’d be attracted to someone like you—”

“Oh yeah?…What’s wrong with me anyway?”

“Well to be honest, you’re not exactly my type.”

I’m trying hard not to snicker. “Considering
what I’ve heard about your ‘type,’ I’ll take that as a compliment.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Your reputation precedes you, too—or haven’t
you noticed that Wikipedia uses your photo beside the definition of ‘man-ho.’”

“You see? This is exactly what I told Ryan.
You’re one of those women who have no self-control. You’ll just fly off the
handle, mission be damned. Being saddled with you would just tie me down.”

“You’ve got some nerve, saying that to me!” I
reach for the phone. “I’m calling Ryan right now.”

“Fine by me. If we’re going to take down the
Quorum, I’ll need a swallow who doesn’t carry around her emotional baggage like
a third boob—”

“Third boob? Why you…. Wait! The Quorum? What’s
that got to do with you?”

A brow raises just as the smirk hits his lips.
“What, you haven’t had time to read the directive? I saw you at the drop. I
know the cut-out in the ice cream truck handed you the order—”

“You were there, watching us in the park?”

“Sure. Hey, I’m no fool. I didn’t want to walk
in here and get blown away for breaking and entering.”

I can’t help but shrug proudly.

But then he ruins it by adding “Besides, it’s
ice cream. From the looks of things”—he scrutinizes my backside critically—“I’m
guessing you’re not opposed to a sugar fix every now and then. I would have
guessed you’d have torn into it before you even got into that mommy mobile
they’ve saddled you with.”

“How dare you!”

“Just teasing. Look, it’s not as if you’re a
total heifer but a little toning up wouldn’t hurt. Might get rid of those love
handles.” He has the audacity to put his hands on my hips.

When I try to slap them away, he smiles, but he
doesn’t let go. Instead he nudges me closer, as if we’re playing some sort of
game, until I’m right up against his rock hard abdomen—

And it’s not the only thing that’s hard—

“You know what they say: sex is the best
exercise,” he coaxes seductively. “Since we’ve got to play house anyway, might
as well enjoy the fringe benefits, right? Hey, I won’t even mind if you close
your eyes and call me Carl—”

My punch to his jaw has him reeling backward,
into the wall. “Dream on, you son of a bitch. Just to let you know: you’re not
half the man Carl was.”

He grimaces as he rubs his jaw. “Just trying to
do my conjugal duty.”

“Get dressed. And make it snappy. I want to get
this meeting with Ryan over pronto. I’ve got to be home before eight, to put
Trisha to bed.”

“Speaking of beds, do you like the right side,
or the left? For that matter, are you a top or a bottom? Not that I’m partial,
either way—”

To shut him up, I toss his clothes at him.

As he grabs for them, his towel drops to the
floor and I’m given a full-on view as to what all the spook loop fuss is about—

Wow.

Okay, I’m wrong. He’s got at least one thing in
common with Carl.

To hide my shock and awe, I turn and walk out of
the room, slamming the door behind me.

Even from the bottom of the stairway I can hear
him laughing.

 ***

I tell Mary that we’ll be back in time for
dinner, but just in case our “run to the store” takes longer than expected, she
is to put Trisha to bed no later than eight, and for Jeff and her to go down no
later than ten.

She gives Jack a shy peck on the cheek. On the
other hand, Trisha throws herself into Jack’s arms, body, and soul. It only
takes a second for his initial look of shock to melt into gentle appreciation.
Jeff’s wary handshake is taken just as seriously.

I wonder if this cover is going to be harder for
him than he initially imagined.

Already my heart is breaking. Shame on Ryan for
putting my family’s emotional wellbeing at risk! He better have a hell of a
good reason for doing this to us.

Jack and I take separate cars. He refuses to be
seen in my “mommy mobile.” That’s fine with me. The way he peels out in his
Lamborghini Aventador roadster, I’ve no doubt he’s just an accident waiting to
happen.

Three heads that turn as he races down Main
Street are those belonging to Penelope, Tiffy, and Hayley. They’re sitting at
one of the outdoor tables in front of our local Starbucks, dishing some
neighbor’s dirt, I suppose. As Jack idles at the corner, Penelope licks her
Collagened lips and lifts her sunglasses in order to get a better view of him.

This is not lost on Jack. Through his side-view
mirror, I can see him honoring her with a wink and that lazy smile of his.

It’s all I can do not to ram him from behind.

Instead I lay on the horn.

As he screeches out of the grand gates fronting
Hilldale, I wave at them sweetly. The way they show their obvious
disappointment is to ignore me.

I wonder how they’d treat me if they thought
Jack was my husband. They’d be jealous, for sure. But I know better than to
presume it would earn me their friendships, let alone their respect.

Not that it matters. As soon as I lay down the
law to Ryan, Jack Craig will just be a fond fantasy for Hilldale’s mères terrible.

An even bigger problem is explaining to my
children that he’s not who they think—and hope—he is:

Their father.

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 

Buy it from FREE

AmazonKindleButtonFree!

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ho they think—and hope—he is:

Their father.

 

Excerpt from Book 3 of the HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN Series: First Kiss

Pacific_coast_highway
As we head into summer, I'm both surprised and proud of the fact that the third book in the Housewife Assassin series, Killer Christmas Tips, is still selling strong.

Despite the title, this book less to do with the season it was set in, and more to do with the fact that readers who love the series don't want to miss any of the consecutive plot points that deal with the series' overriding story arc: 

– Will Acme operatives, Donna Stone and Jack Craig, finally take down the world's best financed international terrorist group known as the Quorum? 

– Will Donna ever be able to love and trust again, despite the betrayal she felt over Carl's lies and deception?

– And will she and Jadk  find the missing intel on its agents and assets before the Quorum gets it?

As these two scenes in particular demonstrate, setting Book 3 during the holiday season allowed me to test Donna's faith: in herself, in her core values, and in her fellow beings.

Enjoy,

— Josie

EXCERPT

“So, how old
were you when you had your first kiss?”

Jack’s
question almost has me swerving off the road.

The decision
to take his car was probably a smart one because we may need a quick getaway,
and my mommy-mobile doesn’t have the same zero-to-sixty pick-up as Jack’s
Lamborghini. The decision for me to drive also makes sense, since he may have
to be running like hell carrying a shoulder-launched missile, and won’t have
time to fumble for his keys.

His decision
to play Twenty-one Questions may be one he regrets, should we crash.

To ensure we
don’t, I hold tight to the steering wheel and keep my eyes straight ahead. Not
because he’s shocked me, but because I’d hate for him to see that my face has
turned candy apple red.

“Let’s just
say I was old enough.”

“Come on,
answer the question honestly.”

“Will you do
the same?”

“Absolutely.
Cross my heart.”

I sigh.
“Okay. I was fifteen. And yes, the boy broke my heart.”

He laughs.

“What’s so
funny?”

“I was
worried you hadn’t been kissed until college.”

“You take too
much stock in what Aunt Phyllis says. She’s under the impression I was as pure
as driven snow until Carl and I… well, until I was married.”

“So Carl
wasn’t your first either?” He’s trying so hard to act nonchalant.

“To be
perfectly honest, not only wasn’t he my first, he wasn’t my even ‘best’.”

Jack’s sly
smile presumes soooo much. But in a
flash, his smile is gone.

“At this
juncture in our relationship, I think I need to tell you… Oh never mind.”

I guess this
is where I hear some soul-searching blather about Valentina. I brace myself for
the worst. “Don’t be such a tease. Just come out and say it.”

“I don’t know
if you want to hear this.”

“Well, guess
what? You won’t know if you don’t tell me, so spit it out.”

“I love you.”

I take a deep
breath. “Ditto.”

He laughs.
“Well, that’s romantic.”

“Let’s save
the romance until after we save the world, shall we?”

“I’m glad one
of us has our priorities in order.” He stares out the window. It’s already
dark, so there is not much to look at. “Then I guess this is also a bad time to
ask you to marry me.”

I screech off
onto the shoulder of the road, and turn off the engine. As much as I like
having a thousand horsepower engine at my fingertips, I’d be disappointed if a
knee-jerk reaction came between me and my happily ever after.

“You now have
my complete attention,” I murmur sweetly.

“I’m asking
if you’ll marry me.” He picks up my hand. When his fingers wrap around mine, I
wonder why I’d ever let go.

Then the
answer hits me—to get to our final destination in one piece.

“Why now,
Jack? And why here?”

“Why not?” He
turns to face me, but his features are hidden in shadows, only revealing
themselves in the fleeting headlights of passing cars. “There will always be
some crisis to overcome. Some more… bullshit,
somewhere in the world.”

Some bad guys
to kill. Some long-buried secret to rear its ugly head.

Some
deserting spouse to confront.

Which reminds
me, “We’re both still married.”

He shrugs.
“So let’s go to Vegas and set things straight.”

He makes me
laugh. “I like the Bellagio.” I look down into my lap. “I guess you’re over
Valentina in a big way.”

He doesn’t
nod. He just looks straight ahead.

His silence
speaks volumes.

If only he’d
lied and said, “Yes, of course I am! What do you take me for, a fool?”

But no, I’m
the fool. For presuming he’s over her, just because she’s over him.

“When she saw
me, she told me Carl wasn’t in love with her. That he was still in love with
me.” I can’t help myself. I have to say it to him, to see if it makes a
difference to him.

His mouth
tightens. “Do you believe her?”

“What, about
Carl? Ha! You said it best. The only one Carl truly loves is himself, and the
power he’s able to grab from who knows where.”

“Then, why
won’t he leave you alone?”

“Because he
can’t have me. Because I love you instead.”

There. I’ve said it.

I restart the
engine and it roars back to life. “We’ve got a date with a stolen missile.
Let’s do this,” I say as Jack’s Lamborghini leaps back onto the road.

We drive the
remaining few miles in silence.

Is enough for
him to truly love me back? Or now, having been told Valentina never really had
Carl’s affections, will he try to win her back?

I know I’ll
have to wait for his answer—

“We’re here,”
he murmurs.

So we are, I think coming out of my fog.

Saved by the
bomb.

I pull into
the far side of the parking lot, out of view from the reception area, where the
security guard is parked in front of an old big screen TV that must have been
confiscated from an abandoned storage unit.

“Break a
leg,” I say as he climbs out of the car.

He shuts the
car door before he hears me whisper, “And yes, I’ll marry you.”

Maybe it’s
for the best. Let’s face it. My answer doesn’t count if he’s already changed
his mind.

 ****

In life, just
about everything is timing.

If I hadn’t
been at a certain shooting range on a certain Spring break during college, I
would have never met Carl.

If I hadn’t
been in the bedroom to answer his cell while he was in the shower one day, I
would not have set into motion the chain of events that would have made him realize
he needed to disappear from the life we’d created together.

If Acme
hadn’t been looking for a few honeypots right about the time they yanked Carl’s
pension from me, I would’ve taken a job as an assistant at a bank, or made time
to be a class mom, instead of collecting a rogue’s gallery of scalps on my
belt.

And if Jack
hadn’t brought Carl home with him after one mission went awry, Valentina would
never have fallen in love with Carl, and left Jack for him.

None of this
I regret. Because if none of it had happened, I would have never have met Jack.

What I do
regret, however, as Safe & Sound’s Storage Unit Number 121 blows off the
back wing of the building, is that Jack never heard me say “Yes” when he asked
me to marry him.

I run past
the security guard, who stumbles out of the building in a total state of shock
and denial. Deadly blasts are way above his pay scale of fourteen dollars an
hour.

“Where is the
man who just went in there?” I shout at him “Did he make it out?”

He shakes his
head and cups his ear, to indicate he hasn’t heard a word I’ve said.

I pull him
far away from the debris field, which is scattered far and wide. Coats and
dresses and pants float through the air like cloth clouds, while bed frames
pinwheel through the parking lot. Family photos float down from the night sky
in a storm of confetti.

People hold
onto too much crap.

If something
is important in your life, you’ll make room for it.

I hear
ambulances in the distance, heading this way. I don’t have much time if I’m
going to find Jack. What if he’s injured and can’t get out by himself?

I run into
the building and down the main hall, but I can’t see which way to turn because
the smoke pouring out is too thick, and worse, smells like melted plastic. I
can’t breathe. My lungs are on fire.

I’m crazy to
think Jack has survived the explosion.

As I pass
out, the only thing I can think of is how I wish I’d been with Jack at the very
end.

(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).

 


HAKCTv2The Housewife Assassin's
Killer Christmas Tips (Book 3)
 Only $3.99! 

(In online bookstores now!)

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Mad Housewife Monday: Kelly Reemtsen’s Flower Power

ReemtsenFlower_Power
One of my all-time favorite artists is Kelly Reemtsen. She so aptly captures the desperation of the ladies who lunch — especially when they get a bee under their bonnet about something.

Take this painting, called "Flower Power."  The way this wifey in the retro shift holds her hedge clippers implies self-emmolation. And yet, her cocked knee implies a dark streak for dangerous flirtation. Perhaps she's saying, "Approach at your own risk."

Truly a thorny situation.

Ms. Reemtsen's paintings can be found in the Skidmore ContemporaryArt (Los Angeles) and the David Klein Gallery (Birmingham, MI). If you're close by, they are worth the visit.

— Josie

 


HA-RSG-Final-V2
To celebrate the launch of 
The Housewife Assassin's
Relationship Survival Guide
 (Book 4), 
I'm giving away a $100 gift card
 
to the bookstore of your choice!

Click here for details…

 

 

 

 

HAH-Hanging-Man-Oct-5-2012And click here to get a FREE COPY of

The Housewife Assassin's Handbook (Book 1)  

 

FREE!  AmazonKindleButton

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A great scene in THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN’S HANDBOOK: Donna and Jack’s first date.

RomanticDinner2

Having your characters grow — and fall in love — is a delicate choreography for an novelist. I enjoyed putting Donna Stone, the heroine of The Housewife Assassin's Handbook, into the arms of Jack Craig, her black ops mission partner.

He truly is the spy who loves her. 

A lot that happens in this scene hints as to what is to come in the other books in the series.

Right now, it's also #7 on Amazon Kindle's Romantic Suspense/Mystery list, as well as #15 under Mysteries & Thrillers/Women Sleuths. To see why, go ahead and download it. The book is free right now, in the online bookstores listed below.

— Josie

EXCERPT

No, not that table…

But yes, the hostess at the Sand Dollar seats
Jack and me at the last table on the deck: the one closest to the surf.

The one that was Carl’s favorite.

To cover up my jitters, I order a mojito along
with the seared ahi.

“Double that order,” Jack tells our waitress.

We are silent as we stare out at the ocean. Our
drinks don’t come until the sun is melting into the horizon. As the last rays
of the day splay across the waves, the rum warms me and loosens my tongue.
Still, I’m lucid enough to keep the topic on him. “You have no accent. Where
are you from?”

“I grew up in Washington state.” He crushes the
mint in the bottom of his drink with a swizzle stick. “The Orcas Islands.”

“I hear it’s beautiful there.”

“It is. But I don’t see myself going back.”

“Why not?”

He stares out at the ocean. “There is no one to
go home to.”

Ah.

For some reason I’m glad to hear it. That makes
me a bitch, I guess. And yet, I’ve got to ask, “You never married?”

“What is this, an interrogation? Am I about to
be snatched?” To mock me, he glances over his shoulder.

“We’re getting to know each other, remember?
Besides, if I wanted to make you talk, there are easier ways than extraordinary
rendition.” This mojito is strong. I can’t tell if I’m charming him with a Mona
Lisa smile or leering like some sort of mad clown.

He leans back. “Okay, yeah, sure. You get a
question, and then I get one.”

“Fair enough.”

“So, you want to know about any attachments,
right?” He chews on his swizzle stick. “Only one that was ever serious. But
it’s over now.”

“So you’re divorced.”

His wince is quickly covered over by a shrug.
“Things… just didn’t work out. Our lives are too complicated.”

“You’re telling me.” Whatever is left in my
drink is gone in one quick swallow. “Like Carl, were you recruited out of the
military?”

He nods. “Marine Corps. I served in Somalia,
then Iraq.” His lips curdle into a grimace. “Now I’m an international man of
mystery.”

“So you enjoy this gig.”

“I wouldn’t say that.” As he reaches for his
napkin, his hand grazes mine. It sends a shiver up my spine. “But others tell
me I’m good at it.”

“Yeah, you’ve got great buzz, that’s for sure.”
I don’t have to tell him that the dish on his bedroom technique is just as
notable. The telltale sign is that all the female double agents beg to be
interrogated by him.

“Your rep is quite impressive, too.”

“I do what’s needed to get the bad guys.”

“That’s why you’re on this mission, Donna.” He
pauses, but his eyes don’t waver away from mine. “Okay, it’s my turn now. Do
you still love him?”

His question takes me by surprise. I’m choking
down my drink.

He gets up to slap me on the back. (Seriously,
does that really work?)

I shoo him away. I don’t want to be touched.

At least, not when I’m thinking about Carl. I
have too much respect for him.

But I can’t say that to him. So instead I
murmur, “Yes. I still love him.”

Jack says nothing, but his eyes deepen with
sadness. I can only presume that this is out of respect for Carl. I would never
assume that he is attracted to me.

Okay, I’ll admit it: he’s hot. Maybe that’s
because he’s the first man who has reminded me of Carl.

But no man will ever make me forget Carl.

That’s why I feel comfortable saying “Yeah,
sure…” when he asks me if I want to dance.

The live band is playing a very sultry version of
“At Last.” The lead singer, a woman named Andree Belle, has a husky murmur,
perfect for lyrics oozing with lust and innuendo.

Jack holds me lightly but firmly in his arms. We
move as if we’re floating. I could attribute this to a mojito high, but why not
give credit where it’s due? What I saw him doing with Penelope at the
father-daughter dance was just a warm-up. His hands and hips maneuver me slyly,
cajoling me into a wanton frenzy, willing me to mirror his moves.

Our bodies fit together snugly.

Maybe a bit too snugly, if in fact he isn’t
packing heat.

I’m used to seducing and then killing men when
they are at their most vulnerable. Tonight, though, it is me who is fighting
the urge to surrender.

I thank God he’s not a mark.

Even as I think that, even as he holds me near—

He ruins everything when he whispers in my ear,
“Didn’t you hate him for lying to you?”

The love tango reeling in my heart goes flat
before breaking off. I should be breathing, but I can’t.

Hate? Did I hate Carl?

Yes, of course I hated him.

For lying to me.

For leaving me.

For not loving me enough to quit Acme.

When, finally, I find my voice, what comes out
is barely a whisper. “Why would you ask such a thing?”

“Because I would, too, if I’d been betrayed like
that.”

I stumble to our chairs, grab my sweater, and
head for the car.

He stays long enough to pay the bill for the ahi
we never got to eat.

(c) 2011 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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The Housewife Assassin's Handbook
(Book 1) 
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