“How did you come up with that idea?”
When I wrote my first novel, I wanted to focus on a strong female lead stopping bad guys from doing bad things. I stumbled upon INTERPOL’s website. Scary! Amidst the fright of looking at the FBI’s Most Wanted List, a visceral reaction hit me. My terrified brain asked: What if an author got caught up in a bad guy’s web?
BAM – A novel was born. CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR…
Evie Longfellow showed up for work the next day. She introduced herself as an up-and-coming author in New York City. Problem was, Evie wanted more out of life – she wanted a husband and a family. No shrinking violet’s allowed.
She agreed to a blind date with the wrong guy. One of the most nefarious serial killers in the mafia, Paulie Marino picked Evie as his 16th victim.
Enter TV psychologist Dr. Nick Franklin. Suddenly, I found myself writing a romance novel. Evie and Nick had to get together, and Nick had to hate Paulie Marino in a way that would entice him to put on a suit of armor and rescue Evie.
Now, Nick had no idea the suit of armor would fit. Evie appealed to the professional in him, then, just like she did with me, Evie wove her spell over Nick and he fell in love with her.
Now wait a minute! I set out to write a thriller – how in the world did I wind up writing a hot romance? While I didn’t understand it at the time, Evie and Nick’s romance bloomed amidst my thriller’s background. Check out how my visceral reaction combined with my imagination and led to a novel filled with romantic suspense.
“He’s done this before, hasn’t he?” Evie asked while they reviewed the file Nick lifted off Paulie’s computer.
Seth looked uptight. The FBI agent’s silence spoke volumes.
“Janet? I’m right, aren’t I? That’s not the first time either of you have seen this kind of filth, is it?”
She looked Evie in the eye. She nodded.
Chuck sat closest to the laptop computer playing the little gem-of-a-flick. They’d taken seats around the long pine dining table in the middle of Nick’s cabin. The hard pine table braced Evie for the discussion she didn’t want to have.
“Mute that,” she growled. “It’s all screaming from here on out anyway. We don’t need any more of that trash invading this house.” She didn’t want the venomous poison tainting Nick’s home, where she felt safe. Clean. Untouched by filth.
Nick reached for her hand. They locked eyes while the other three finished the obligation they’d inherited. Something was happening here. He didn’t just want a story – she felt it in his touch.
The other three had to watch the video.
They’d served their time, and Evie finally felt like she could breathe. No longer her responsibility to bear, this horror belonged to the hunters invading the cabin.
She released the ties binding her. The weight lifted away in a rush of cool Angel’s breath on both her shoulders. Chills sprang. Nick represented freedom.
She squeezed Nick’s hand, tuned her thoughts back to the way he’d kissed her. To the way he looked standing in the river yesterday with the fly rod in his skilled hands. I want those hands on me before this is done.
Janet spoke up. “In the mid-70’s a perp committed a series of ritual murders the bureau followed without resolution. The trail went cold, the killer went underground, whether by his choice or the action of someone else.”
Evie sipped in her words.
Seth added to Janet’s story. “Paul Alphonso Marino came up on our radar two years ago when a minor informant turned evidence about a violent episode involving the informant’s niece. The young girl was tortured in the same manner as the woman in this film. She had just turned fifteen.”
Evie’s heart sank. He was talking about a baby, a weak, defenseless child.
Nick spoke up. “You know the woman in this video?”
Seth nodded. “Her name was Laney Jensen.”
Evie had heard Laney’s last words, her last song. She’d watched Paulie torture her, murder her.
Nick’s hands warmed circles on her back. Evie snapped up. “I don’t think someone does that to another human being for fourteen minutes his first time out.”
“He’s escalated,” Chuck said.
Evie shook her head. “I’ll bet he told…” her voice hitched, “…Laney he wanted to sing a duet with her.”
“You were his next victim,” Chuck said. “It’s a miracle you got away.”
“Will you give us permission to record you, to tell us everything that happened from your first contact with the Marino Family?”
Her face flared with heat. “And then what? Let me get this straight – you take my statement, and then you pit me against this monster in some courtroom, what, eighteen months from now!”
“We hope to move on this case quickly.”
“And in the meantime? Let me guess. Witness protection program, right?”
Seth nodded. “We can offer you protection.”
Fury leapt into Evie’s body, into her mouth, and took control. They actually thought she’d agree to this. She blasted to standing. “Yeah, right, and ruin my life in the meantime!
Take my freedom away…”
She snapped eyes on Chuck. “Who gets the distinction of saving my career? My life?
How long do you suppose I’d last on the streets of New York City?”
They didn’t answer.
“My book tour?”
Nothing. They held absolutely still.
“My financial commitments?”
Silence greeted Evie’s pleas. She slammed her fist on the table. Everyone startled.
“How long before that maniac comes after me!”
They didn’t have an answer. They knew as well as she did the outlook was bleak, and they offered her no reassurance.
Knees threatened to fold in on themselves. Devastation enclosed her chest.
“Great! My epitaph should read, Evie Longfellow, Author, Sunday Morning, September 26.” Tears threatened to brim.
Life as she knew it was officially over.