A lot has happened in the last fifty years. Many milestones and many firsts. Ten years ago on 25 May, my 4th birthday, I got my first book contract. The title of the book at the time was Right In Front of You. It has since been re-titled to In Two Weeks. The original publisher had gone bankrupt around the time the book came out and the second publisher I had thought it might be a good idea to re-title.
In the last ten years, a lot has happened. I’ve had three kids go off to college. One graduated and is currently in the Peace Crop living in Madagascar. The middle boy is graduating from Potsdam University this May and is working on getting into Grad school. The baby, all six foot three of him, just finished up his first year in college. This meant that the hubby and I had our first taste of empty nest. And wow, did we take to it like bees on honey. Not that we don’t miss our kids, because we’re looking forward to both boys being home for the summer and we’re making a trip to Madagascar to see our daughter. That should be an adventure.
During that ten years, I published a few more books, started a publishing company with NY Times Bestselling author Bob Mayer and have had the privileged and honor of working with some awesome authors. You can check all that out at Cool Gus Publishing.
The decade of being forty was pretty damn good. I watched my kids grow into wonderful young people right in front of my eyes. I got to enjoy hundreds of dance competitions and recitals and probably thousands of hockey games. So what does someone do the first year of being an empty nester and as a ten year anniversary to their first book being published?
They publish another book.
I’m going to be giving away the first book in the NY State Trooper Series in a Fabulous and 50’s party. Details to follow. Until then, please feel free to pre-order Deadly Secrets. Excerpt below:
Patty Harmon swallowed hard as she starred down the wrong end of a gun for the second time in the last year. The man on the other end had already fired the thing once, and by the way his nose flared as he breathed, she figured he might not hesitate putting a bullet between her eyes.
“This isn’t helping your cause any,” she said. “It’s only going to make things worse.” She should have kept her mouth shut, but as of late, she really didn’t know how to keep her opinions to herself.
The man with the gun narrowed his eyes and for a brief moment, his hand steadied. She’d seen that look in a man once, right before a bullet had ripped through her shoulder.
Patty thought of her ex-boyfriend, if you could even call him that, who had always told her “you work on the wrong side of the law and it’s going to get you in trouble some day.” Her response was always, “everyone has the right to an attorney.” Except she was finding out working as a paralegal for the hottest criminal attorney in the area, which wasn’t saying much considering Lake George was a small town, had many clients who were exactly that, criminals.
She took a careful assessment of the area, as Reese had taught her in one of his so-called life lessons. Her door was open and she could see out into the reception area. She took a brief moment to check out the window to her right to see if there was anything going on in the parking lot. Matt’s car, the co-worker who was currently bleeding out all over the hallway floor was parked right next to her car, and other than a couple State Trooper cars pulling in, the rest of the office had left today, leaving the lot empty.
Sometimes dedication didn’t pay off.
She could only hope it was Jared or Frank who showed up, or maybe the new rookie she’d heard so much about. Anyone but Reese.
“Terry.” She opted to using the man’s first name.
She needed to get Terry to give up the gun and surrender, but she didn’t need him getting trigger-happy again. “The longer this lasts, the more people you hurt, the worse its going to be for you.” Bad things were supposed to happen in threes, and this seemed to make number four, or was it five? Not that she was counting.
She glanced over to Matt who was sprawled out in the reception area holding his right side. His face paled. His breathing labored. Didn’t have to be a doctor to know the man was fighting for his life.
“She’s right,” Matt said weakly.
“Shut up,” Terry said, keeping his focus on Patty, his gun hand shaking.
Maybe she’d get lucky and if he did pull the trigger, he’d miss, except the last six months had been the most unlucky time of her entire life.
“Tell me where Conrad is. I told him, if he screwed this up, I’d get him. He screwed up, I’m coming after him.” Terry took a step forward, jutting the gun closer. His eyes burned a fierce glow. “Damn bastard promised me I wouldn’t see a single day in jail and now I get fifteen months?”
“It’s going to be longer if you don’t surrender now.” She regretted the words the moment she said them.
Conrad had a reputation for being the wonder boy of criminal defense and was sought after by clients as far away as Albany. Rumor had it, he was going to open another office in the Capital and she had considered moving to that office. There wasn’t anything keeping her here, but she was currently reconsidering her options.
The term criminal attorney didn’t need explanation. Not to mention, she thought Conrad was connected, as in mob connected. She actually told Reese when they were dating, if you could call it that, but Reese hadn’t taken her seriously. Of course, not. Sergeant Reese McGinn didn’t take anything a woman had to say seriously. He had to be the most aloof non-committal human beings she’d ever met.
“Come on, Terry. Put the gun down. The cops are here.”
“Get up,” Terry said, waving the gun closer to her face.
“Okay.” Patty pushed her chair back and stood up. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a blonde chick get out of the passenger side of the trooper car. Sadly, the driver side door opened, and out stepped Reese. His looks were as breath-taking as the situation. Thick, tall build. Dark hair. Blue eyes. And in uniform? Looking at him she almost forgot what was happening in the moment. That’s the kind of distraction he’d been for a few months.
But it had only been physical. He gave not one emotional sediment, and she in turn held back everything she felt, until she couldn’t any longer.
“You’re going to help me get out of here,” Terry said.
He looked over his shoulder, toward the door. Silence filled her small office, as well as the rest of the building. She knew everyone had probably scurried out of the building when Terry fired his one and only shot.
“Sweetheart, you’re my human shield.”
Great, now she could add hostage to her list of job descriptions. “What are you going to do after we get out of here? You do know they are going to chase us, right?”
He didn’t seem to care one way or another what happened after he got past the front door. “Move it,” he said shoving the gun closer to her. His hands were steadier. He was gaining confidence. That wasn’t a good thing.
She complied, inching her way around the desk, thankful she had chosen flat shoes and pants. She carefully tucked her short brown hair behind her ears and then held them up in hopes of easing the tension in the room. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Jared, the trooper in charge of the station, Frank, her cousin, the new blonde chick, Reese McGinn, her former lover, and a shit load of other law enforcement outside in the parking lot, all wearing bullet proof vests. That didn’t make her feel any better either.
And bullet proof vests, won’t stop someone from shooting you between the eyes, she thought.
Her phone rang.
“Don’t answer it,” Terry said.
“Not a good idea,” Matt said with a shaky voice. “I’m sure its them wanting to talk and negotiate, you should let her answer it.”
The gunman nodded.
Patty quickly tapped the accept button.
“Put it on speaker,” Terry snapped.
“This is Sergeant Jared Blake with the New York State Police. With whom am I speaking with?”
Patty nearly laughed, as if the man didn’t know who she was, considering she’d just had lunch with his wife the other day. “Patty Harmon.”
“Are you harmed?”
“No,” she said. “But my co-worker is hurt badly.”
“Can we speak to—”
“That would be me,” Terry yelled. “You’re going to let me and Patty walk out of here, get in a car, and leave. You follow us, I’ll kill her.”
“You know we can’t just let you do that,” Jared said. “How about you let the injured person go and then we’ll talk. Show of good faith.”
“That’s not how this is going to go down. Patty and I here walk out, drive away, you then can come in here and help this man, who is near death. I’ll let Patty go somewhere when I know I haven’t been followed.”
“How do we know you won’t kill her anyway?”
Patty couldn’t believe she was hearing this conversation, as though she wasn’t even there, much less the subject of the possible killing. She kept looking between Terry and the men outside, shocked that Jared just stood there, phone in his hand, behind the patrol car. The new chick stood next to him. Her hands on her hips. She looked dwarfed next to Jared, but tough enough. Frank held his weapon at the ready behind his patrol car, but Reese? She couldn’t see him.
“I’m leaving the man in here alive, that should be good faith enough that I won’t kill her.”
Patty turned to look at Terry, who had his gaze locked on her as well and the gun pointed right at her chest. The moment the man had walked into the office and shot Matt, she knew she’d been in danger, but she had a small sliver of hope that it would all work out. Jared’s wife had survived being kidnapped. Frank’s wife had survived being tossed into the lake with a brick tied to her ankle.
Patty figured she could survive this if it hadn’t been for her round of bad luck since the last time she’d been shot.
Instinctively, she placed both hands over her stomach and held her breath. This couldn’t be it. Not now. There had to be away out of this without…
Patty didn’t know what happened first, the glass shattering or the sound of the gun that had been pointed at her chest going off. Without knowing why, she dropped to the ground. She felt no pain. Last time, she had felt the bullet rip through her shoulder and she remembered screaming out in pain.
She looked through the shattered glass as every cop in the parking lot stormed toward her. It was then she noticed Terry was laying on the floor, on his back, staring at the ceiling with one single bullet hole right between his eyes.
Patty began to cry, her hands still clenched across her stomach. She had no idea what she was going to do about the pregnancy until that very moment. She hadn’t thought about it as a life. Only the potential of life. Her family was very much pro-life, a value that had been shoved on her for years and years. It would be expected, even though Patty believed differently. But she never expected she’d ever have to make that choice.
For the second time in the last year, Patty watched her life flash before her eyes. The first time, she vowed to live in the moment and stop planning her life. That was Reese. He was untamable. Emotionally unavailable. He was her good girl gone wild boy toy. They had fun together, both knowing it would come to end. Hard to keep a relationship with a man when the deepest emotional connection he could muster was a hug in a moment in need. Other than that, he was an empty man. And who wanted a child with an empty man?
But for the last few weeks Patty honestly thought she’d be able to terminate. Reese wouldn’t want the child, she knew that for sure and the idea of raising a child alone, in her family? That was almost as bad as staring down the wrong end of gun.
“Are you okay?” she barely heard Jared ask as he helped her to her feet. “We should get you to the hospital just to make sure.”
“I’m fine,” she said. And she was.
And she was going to have this baby.
“You really need to change professions,” Frank said as he took her by the hand and led her out to the parking lot.
The paramedics were working on Matt, loading him onto a gurney.
“You’re going to make it,” she said.
He gave her the thumbs up and the paramedics raced him out to the waiting ambulance.
Frank handed her over to the new chick who introduced herself as Stacey Sutten, an name that sounded familiar, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it at the moment.
The sun had disappeared behind the mountains, and snow fell from the darkening sky. Stacey had wrapped a blanket around Patty and put her inside a patrol car.
It was surreal. Cops moved in and out of the building. By standers and news crews were tapped off by the road.
And no sign of Reese.
She shouldn’t be disappointed. It had been over a month since they’d said their good-byes and since then they have avoided each other like plague, which tended to make people like Frank, who were intrusive and over protected, uncomfortable. The poor man was torn between his friend and his family. Not a good place to be, but last she heard about Reese was that he was putting in for a transfer. According Frank, that’s what Reese did. Never staying at any one job for more than a few years. Patty had tried to tell Reese to stay if he wanted to. That it wouldn’t be awkward.
But it was awkward, and in more ways than one.
And now she was faced with the dilemma of telling him, or not telling him.
Worse, Frank, and half her family, would go all crazy on her and Reese, totally forgetting what happened to her parents because the Harmon’s believed more in family values than they did love, and sometimes love, or the lack there of it, was more important.
“Hey,” she heard his husky voice. “How you holding up?”
“I wasn’t shot, so that’s something.”
He let out a little laugh, then knelt in front of her, gently lifting her chin to look at him. “How are you really doing?”
She could see the tenderness seep through his big blue eyes. She knew deep down he was a caring man, but she knew he wasn’t a loving man. In the few months they had dated, he never talked about himself, except for the night they broke up and even then, he hadn’t said much, but enough for her to know it was time to move on.
“I’ve been better,” she said. “I think I might take a few days off of work.”
He laughed again, and a lazy smile drew across his face. “Probably a good idea.
You should have heard Frank when the call came in.”
“I can only imagine,” she said softly.
“Perhaps you shouldn’t be alone tonight.”
She stiffened, and he immediately retreated. “I’m sure Lacy and Frank have room for you.”
“Considering my apartment is above their townhouse, I won’t be alone.”
“Good,” he said. “I better get back to work.”
“Thanks,” she said, but she had no idea what she was really thanking him for.