I love release week!! Several other talented authors and I have been working together on an upcoming anthology boxed set that we hope is going to knock your socks off. The title of the anthology is Twist because all of the stories have one thing in common… a surprise twist at the end. We have a collection of contemporary, sci-fi and fantasy in there so there is something for everyone. I am so happy with how the story I wrote, Blessed Betrayal, turned out and I’m sharing an excerpt from that story below.
Check out this beautiful cover!! Release day is Friday, May 15th.
Excerpt from early in Blessed Betrayal:
Nick pulled his BMW into the cramped carport of The Jefferson Hotel. Just a few blocks north of the White House, the hotel was one of the most prestigious in the city. The stately doorman opened his door, welcoming them to the historic property. Nick looked over the employee’s shoulder to see a homeless man propped up against the building across the street. The man was shivering in the freezing cold January evening. The dichotomy of wealth and poverty were never far from each other in this part of town.
Nick circled the car, stopping to assist his wife from the low riding vehicle. He had offered to drive the family van so she would be more comfortable, but she’d looked at him as if he were from Mars.
We can’t show up to a Bennett, Bennett and Moore event in a van, Nicholas.
He took his wife’s elbow as he moved them to the door held wide by yet another employee. Only now did he recognize Veronica was in a fur coat he had never seen before. Between the coat, designer dress and new shoes, he wondered how much tonight’s free dinner was costing him.
They made their way through the elegant lobby and past cozy seating areas where some of the country’s numerous back-door business deals had been cut over a cocktail and cigar.
The overt opulence turned Nick’s stomach. It was an in-his-face reminder of the cultural philosophy of the law firm he had been employed at for the eight years he had been a lawyer. Now was not the time for him to reflect on how he had ended up at this point in his career, questioning everything he had been fighting for. He had mistakenly thought working for the largest international law firm in the nation’s capital might afford him the chance to help those less fortunate around the globe. Instead, he more often found himself representing those who would exploit the most helpless of the world.
If it weren’t for his wife, he would have left years before. Appearances and status symbols ruled Veronica’s life and he was under no disillusion. If he left BB&M to work at one of the many non-profit global organizations he longed to represent, he was certain his marriage would be over. If he only had himself to worry about, he might take the chance of going it alone. He didn’t want to put his baby girl through an ugly divorce. Although, if things kept on the declining trajectory at the firm, he might not have a choice soon.
Veronica managed to keep her profile regal while whispering excitedly under her breath so only he could hear her. “Oh my God, look at the chandeliers! They are amazing. I think one of them would look good above our dining room table.”
“You would like them. I’m sure just one would cost a fortune.”
She didn’t let the smile slip from her lips, but he saw the ice in her eyes as she responded. “If you’d press harder for that promotion to partner, Nicholas, we could afford a hell of a lot more than just a chandelier.”
“Roni, this is not the time or the place for this discussion. I told you there are extenuating circumstances. There is no chance I’ll be offered an associate partnership and honestly, even if they offered, I’d turn it down and you know it.”
Her polished exterior was cracking as she spat her reply. “For the thousandth time, stop calling me Roni in public. I hate it and you know it.”
Nick sighed. Not that ridiculous argument again. They approached the entrance to the prestigious dining room where the sixty employees of the firm and their significant others were about to have their annual holiday party. The room was barely large enough to seat the group. Round-tops were arranged in a too-close pattern. They stopped at a table with tented seating assignment cards arranged in alphabetical order. He moved to the M’s for Mikos, expecting to find a high number. After the argument they’d had just yesterday, he was sure George Bennett would want him seated as far away from the head partner’s table as possible.
Veronica found the card first. “Oh how exciting! They have us seated at table two. We’re almost seated at the head table!”
She was practically dragging him behind her as she weaved them through the packed tables towards the front of the room. They were almost there when Nick recognized who else would be seated at their table. He pulled his wife to a stop.
“Hold on, Veronica. There has to be a mistake. That can’t be our table. Let’s go back to the door and see if there’s another table we can take.”
She trained her angry eyes on him. “Are you kidding me? You are finally moving up the ladder and you’re gonna screw it up. We always get stuck at the back. It’s our turn to sit at the front of the room, Nicholas.”
Unwilling to make a scene, he allowed his wife to pull him along behind her. There were two couples already seated at table two. He recognized one as George Bennett’s attractive personal assistant, Tamara and her husband. It was the other couple that had Nick wishing he could sit at the back of the room. The farther he could sit away from George Bennett’s blow-hard son, Kevin, the better.
From the minute they’d met, there had been no love lost between the men. The youngest Bennett to join the firm was the worst of them all. At least his two older brothers attempted to earn their seat at the family table. Kevin had only been out of law school a year and already treated every person he met at the firm like gum stuck to the bottom of his shoe.
“Mikos. How’d you end up sitting way up here? I’d of thought you’d be more comfortable sitting with the wait staff in the employee cafeteria. Maybe you could help them negotiate for a dime an hour raise.”
“Sounds like more fun than spending the next few hours with you, Bennett. Looks like your father has a sense of humor putting us together.”
Tamara started to speak, “But Mr. Bennett I thought…”
She didn’t get to finish her sentence. Her words froze under the icy stare sent her way by the youngest Bennett. She actually shuddered under his glare. Tamara’s husband hugged her to comfort her silently.
Veronica moved in to take the open seat next to Kevin before Nick could move them to the back of the room. She acted as if she was oblivious to the chill in the air between the men. Nick weighed his options. Deciding not to make a scene, he took the last seat at the table.
Once seated, he couldn’t help but notice the beautiful woman sitting directly across the small table from him. By process of elimination, she had to be with Kevin, yet he hadn’t bothered to introduce her. Typical.
Turning first to Tamara, he reached out to shake hands with her husband. “Nicholas Mikos. This is my wife Veronica.”
“Nice to meet you Nicholas. James, Tamara’s husband.”
“You as well.” Nick moved his gaze around the table until he was looking into the most exquisite amber-brown eyes he had ever seen. He momentarily lost the ability to speak as he took in the natural beauty of the olive skinned woman who looked so uncomfortable. It seemed that she would like to be seated at the back of the room as well.
“It would appear Kevin has forgotten his manners. I’m going to assume you are his wife. As you heard, I’m Nicholas Mikos and this is my wife, Veronica. I work with your husband.”
It was the only word Kevin had injected into the introduction process. Nick turned to question him when he got his answer. “You work for me, not with me.”
What a pretentious prick. Nick did the only thing he could do under the circumstances. Laugh his ass off. By the time he got his laughter under control, he could feel the grip of Veronica’s hand squeezing his thigh under the table and could see the steam rolling out of the ears of the young blow-hard to their left. “Thanks for the laugh, Bennett. You’re so green, you don’t even know how ridiculous you sound going around making stupid statements like that.”
“Green? We’ll see how green I am when I get your ass fired. You’re already on thin ice with my father.”
“You’re digging yourself deeper every time you open your mouth. Let me help you out. You’re right that your father and I often bump heads on the right course of action for our clients, but I know for a fact your father respects me for my conviction. Even if he didn’t, the fact that I’ve billed high six-figures for the last three years in a row is making him… and unfortunately you… a very rich man.”
“I think we should change the subject. It’s nice to meet you Nicholas and Veronica. I’m Kevin’s wife, Calista, but you can call me Cali.”
Nick had almost forgotten the woman he had been addressing until she quietly tried to interject. No doubt, she was trying to save her husband from looking like more of an asshole than he already had.
It didn’t work. “How many times have I told you I hate when you shorten your name? You are Calista. Period. Cali sounds like a name for someone’s cat.”
Veronica globbed on. “Oh thank goodness, someone else who has some sense. Nicholas insists on calling me Roni and I hate it.”
An anger he hadn’t felt in a long time flared up in Nick. It was bad enough he had to put up with shit from the prick at the table, but not his wife, too.
“Well, it’s nice to meet you Cali. I’d love it if you’d call me Nick.” She managed to squelch the smile playing at her lips, but she couldn’t hide the humor in her eyes at his barb at their spouses.