I've started work on the next Leah Norwood Mystery. It is called Dead in a Pickup. This time Leah will be trying to prove the innocence of her friend, Marcus Cantono. My goal is to have it completed by the end of April so that I can edit, proofread, and get it ready for release in July. Fingers crossed. Here is a snippet.
“Nice tie,” I said to the customer standing in front of me. It was a lovely shade of steel blue with gray stripes and went beautifully with the dark gray suit.
Of course, there isn’t much that wouldn’t look good on the man. Marcus Cantono is simply gorgeous. He is tall with jet-black hair and startling blue eyes. His face is classically handsome and his body – well – he’s got a great body. In spite of the nice clothes, Marcus looks dangerous. It’s just who he is. He is a big man, not fat but muscular, and he radiates danger. Being part of a formally drug-dealing clan adds to the image. He’s trying to steer the family to the legitimate side of the law. So far, he has only been marginally successful.
“Thanks, Leah,” he said giving me a grin. My heart beat sped up, and a slight flush filled my face. It was a natural reaction. One I couldn’t control even if I tried. Marcus’s smile is something to behold. The problem is he knows it. His eyes roamed my face, and his grin widened.
“Stop it,” I said sharply glaring at him. He simply laughed.
An odd chain of events had made us friends. Marcus’s family had been involved in a drug dealing operation when he returned to town to care for his ailing mother. I had accidentally intercepted a shipment of heroin and had come to the attention of his family. They had tried to intimidate me so that I would stop asking questions. The encounter had frighten me, but I wasn’t about back down, and that had impressed Marcus. He had put the word out on the street that I was under his protection. A couple of weeks later, the whole drug operation had been taken down by the police, and many members of his family were arrested. Marcus swooped in to rescue the rest.
The younger members of the family were now working at the restaurant he had opened and trying to learn how to fit into mainstream society. Marcus’s older brother, Damian, had been running the whole drug-dealing operation. He was out on bail and also trying to go straight. I had my doubts, but Marcus was determined to save his family, and I admired him for that.
Marcus and I had gone on one date on New Year’s Eve. He had kissed me at the stroke of midnight, and that was all it had taken for us to realize that we were destined to be just friends. We didn’t have that special chemistry, but the man’s smile still made my toes curl.
“Tell your mother Happy Birthday,” I said handing him the bag with a packaged set of Rose in Bloom.
My store, Scents and Sensibility, sold lotions, soaps and perfume in various fragrances. Rose in Bloom is one of our most popular. The packaged set comes with body cream, hand lotion, soap, and perfume. Marcus had purchased the exact same set for his mother at Christmas.
“You can tell her yourself,” he said to me. “Sunday night we are having a private party at the restaurant. You’re invited.”
I smiled. The restaurant in question was one that he had opened in late February. It was one of the nicest in town, and the food was superb.
“Great. What time?”
“We’re eating at six. Mama doesn’t like to stay out late. Come by around five-thirty.”
I had met Marcus’s mother, Annabella, on a couple of occasions. She didn’t like me much the first time, but as soon as she realized I wasn’t after her son, she warmed up. She liked me just fine as a friend of the family. She just didn’t want me marrying her youngest son. Annabella had said numerous times that Marcus needed a real Italian wife. In her mind, that meant someone who didn’t work outside the home, was a great cook, and would worship the ground her son walked on. I didn’t fit any of those categories.
I also didn’t think that was what Marcus needed. He was already too used to getting his way. One flash of his devastating smile and he usually got what he wanted. Marcus needed a woman who would stand up to him-someone who wasn’t intimated by his good looks. Mama Annabella and I would have to disagree.
“I’ll be there,” I told him. “Now you need to leave. It’s six, we’re closing, and I’ve got a date.”