February 17, 2014
Status Update on Mystery Books
I had promised to have the sequel to A Bullet For Carlos out by now, and I don’t. Sometimes writing doesn’t go as planned. I had one book last year that really messed up my timing, and it delayed everything. I am pleased to say that I finished A Bullet From Dominic last week. I need to do a once-over read/edit on it, and then I’ll be sending it out to beta readers. So…
if you want to be a beta reader let me know. A couple of things you should know before saying yes.
- I need this done quickly, and by that I mean within 2 weeks of receiving the book.
- I need real feedback. I don’t want a “love it” or “great” response. Think of it as if it were visiting the cardiologist. If your arteries are 90% clogged, you wouldn’t want the doctor telling you things were fine. As much as it might hurt, you would need to hear the truth. The same applies here. If my book needs major surgery, I want to know about it before it gets published.
- If you agree to beta read, I would greatly appreciate it if you could leave a review when the book goes live.
- You will, of course, be mentioned in the acknowledgements.
- You will receive a free digital copy when the book is live.
Now that I’ve gotten that over with, here’s the first chapter.
A Bullet From Dominic
Chapter 1 — Home At Last
Brooklyn, New York
I crawled out of bed, reluctant to start another day. It had been six months since the incident in Texas, and I still couldn’t take five breaths without thinking about it. Or asking God why it happened to me. All my life I’d tried doing the right thing, going out of my way and putting myself through hell just to make sure I didn’t end up on the same side of the law as Uncle Dominic.
And what did I get in return?
I got “the incident.” That’s what I called it. Too afraid to speak, or even think, the word out loud.
I put the pot on the stove so I could get my daily shot of espresso. While I waited for the water to boil, I got down on the floor and did a few dozen push-ups and then stretched my legs.
Rape, Gianelli. Spit it out. That’s what it was. I cracked my knuckles, did a few back bends, then closed my eyes and worked the kinks out of my neck. Whoever was talking inside my head was right. It was rape. And my only consolation was that Tip had killed the son of a bitch on the spot—five shots to the chest.
I turned just as the water boiled, grabbed the pot and poured a cup of espresso. Somehow I had inherited the genes from Uncle Dominic to sense when a pot of espresso was ready. The odd thing was, I had gotten the genes even though he wasn’t really my uncle.
I spoiled myself with a few melon balls while I sipped the espresso and wondered what the wise psychiatrist would try to find wrong with me today. It wasn’t enough that I had damn near been killed twice in a matter of two months, and that my ribs were broken, jaw smashed, and I was raped. He seemed intent on finding some deep-seated reason for my depression. I guess what happened to me wasn’t enough. Psychiatrists always seemed to need a deep-seated reason.
As I thought about that I made up my mind. I wouldn’t be meeting with Dr. Nutbag today. Uncle Dominic probably had better advice. I cleaned the dishes, dressed and headed out. Before long I was crossing the Willis Avenue Bridge into the Bronx. Uncle Dominic’s house was minutes away.
I parked at the end of the street and went through the ritual of entering Mr. Gallo’s house and making my way through Dominic’s secret tunnel. It had been six months since I’d been on the job, and it was looking doubtful if I’d ever go back, but there was no sense in taking chances, so I kept up the ruse of non-association where Uncle Dominic was concerned. I felt sure the Feds were still watching him, and anyone who associated with him.
I came up the steps into his kitchen, the half-man, half-tiger known as Fabrizio having led the way. I didn’t want to like Fabrizio, knowing what he did, but he was so damn sexy and so…feral…that no matter how hard I tried, I found myself moving closer to him at every chance. To top it off, he was polite and charming. Oh, and a hit-man, I felt sure. Just what I needed in my life. Dr. Nutbag would have fun with that.
“Buon giorno, Zio Domenico.”
One of Dominic’s famous smiles popped onto his face. He squeezed me and patted my back. If I still had my chubby cheeks he’d have pinched them, but—thankfully—the chubby-cheek days were long gone.
“Concetta, you look fantastic. I’ll put espresso on.”
I laughed. No matter what happened—good, bad or indifferent—in Uncle Dominic’s house it was cause to put espresso on the stove.
“Thanks, Uncle Dominic, but I just had some.”
“Then I’ll make some for me. How can we have a discussion without espresso?” He prepared the pot and started grinding the beans. After the whirr of the grinder stopped, he scooped coffee into the pot. “What brings my favorite person on earth to see me?”
I looked to the side, where Fabrizio stood. He took the hint, and left. Dominic waited until he was gone, then asked again.
“What brings you? Troubles?”
I didn’t know where to start, or how. I never was good at talking to people about my problems. When I got the nerve to speak, I avoided Uncle Dominic’s probing gaze. “It’s been six months and I still…”
“You still are ashamed,” Dominic said.
His words stung. “I’m not ashamed.”
Dominic reached for a biscotto and took a bite. “Yes you are. You don’t want to admit it, but you blame yourself for what happened.”
Uncle Dominic set the biscotto down and sipped his espresso. “Yes, it’s bullshit. I’m glad you see that. But it’s also what you’re doing to yourself, and the sooner you admit that, the sooner you’ll get better.”
I wiped a tear away before he saw it. “Why did this happen to me, Uncle Dominic? I try so hard to do the right thing…Why?”
Uncle Dominic set his cup down, and pushed it to the side. He reached across the table and pulled my hand toward him.
He rubbed the rough knuckles, and toughened skin. Then he leaned close to me and looked me in the eyes.
“Sometimes God makes good people suffer—like you and your mother—and He lets people like me have a smooth ride. I think He is preparing you for heaven, and He tricks fools like me into thinking we got away with something.”
I thought I saw tears in his eyes, but he must have willed them to stop. “If anything, Concetta, you’re the lucky one. When something bad happens to you on earth, think of it as one less day you’ll have to spend in purgatory.”
What he said shocked me. “I didn’t know you were so religious.”
He let go of my hand and leaned back in his chair. “You didn’t know my father, Concetta. He was not a good man. He wasn’t even a nice man. But he told me one thing I remember. He said, ‘A criminal never worries about getting caught until he hears the sirens.’”
Dominic nodded his head, as if he were considering this bit of wisdom, and not for the first time. “I’m getting old, and I can hear the sirens off in the distance.”
“Then quit! Quit before they catch you.”
Dominic laughed. He reached over and pinched my cheeks, like he did when I was a little girl. “My dear sweet Concetta, I’m not talking about the police. And I don’t think I can hide from these sirens.”
He cleaned the table and rinsed the dishes in the sink. “You should go back to Texas,” he said. “You have a clean reputation and you have a good friend. There’s not much more to ask for.”
“I don’t know, Uncle Dominic.”
“Think about it,” he said. “It would be good for you.”
I grabbed a dish towel and dried the dishes.
After a moment of silence, he kissed me on the cheek. “I’ll finish. You go home and pack.”
“I haven’t said I’m going.”
“You will. You always make the right decisions.”
“I’ll think about it.”
Dominic turned to me. “One thing to remember, leave the drugs alone.”
“What are you saying, Uncle Dominic?”
“I mean Carlos Cortes. When you get to Texas, stay away from him. Those people have no respect. They will kill a neighbor just to make a point. They will even kill children.” Dominic wagged his finger at me, like he always did. “They will do anything to frighten people into cooperating. They don’t play by the same rules.”
“I know all about El Jabato. I’ve seen firsthand what he’s capable of.”
“Good, then it’s settled. You’ll stay away from him.”
I almost got pissed, but laughed instead. I got up and hugged him. “Uncle Dominic, I love you.”
He rubbed the back of my head, and said, “Ti voglio bene.”
I grabbed his espresso pot and took it to the sink to wash.
“Leave it,” Dominic said. “I’ll be making more soon. Now do what I said. Go home and pack.”
I laughed, kissed his cheek, and then grabbed my purse. “We’ll see.”
Dominic waited until he heard the door close in the basement, and then he hit the button on the intercom system. “Fabrizio.”
Fabrizio came to the kitchen a few seconds later. “Si, signore.”
“I want you to find out who owes us favors in Texas, especially in Houston. We need someone to keep an eye on Concetta.”
“Is she going to Houston?” Fabrizio asked.
Dominic nodded. “She doesn’t realize it yet, but she will.”
I hope you liked the sample. I think it’s going to be a good one, and if you liked Bullet For Carlos, you’ll probably like this one.
On another front, for those of you who read my non-fiction books, No Mistakes Interviews will be released in about 2 weeks. It’s the second in the No Mistakes Careers Series.
Lastly, I have just finished a rough draft of Murder Takes Patience, book three in the friendship & honor series, with Nicky and Frankie. I’ve got a few plot problems to work out, but as soon as I figure them out, I’ll be getting it ready for beta readers. I should have a sample chapter up in the next 2 weeks.
Thanks for your patience while I worked through these issues. As most of you know, I can’t stand to release something with problems, so if it’s a question of delaying a book or putting it out with errors or plot problems, there is no decision.
By the way, Murder Has Consequences will be on sale for 99c all this week, starting about noon today. I’ve included the links here:
He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends.”