Recently widowed Milo Everhart isn’t prepared for Tristram Brodie, who wants not only her beloved Torpedo Factory Art Center but her heart. Nor is she prepared to find a dead body that snowy December night. Can she set aside her grief and fall in love before the murderer strikes again?
Hey good readers! I’m celebrating the holidays with an excerpt from Artful Dodging: the Torpedo Factory Murders—mystery, suspense, romance—we witness a difficult moment in the growing love between Milo and Tristram. Milo, heroine of Artful Dodging, lost her Marine pilot husband in a freak accident on an aircraft carrier a year earlier. She is not prepared to fall in love and worries that if she does, her memories of Michael, her dead husband, will evaporate. The guilt interferes with her growing attachment to Tristram. As she begins to fall, he confesses something that makes accepting new romance even harder.
|Milo's street at Christmas|
Artful Dodging: the Torpedo Factory Murders, takes place in Old Town Alexandria, an historic cobblestoned city on the Potomac River. It follows the adventures of several artists at the Torpedo Factory Art Center, an old munitions plant on the waterfront, which today it houses 82 studios, the Art League, the Friends of the Torpedo Factory, and an Archaeology center. Old Town is now a vibrant hub for restaurants and the arts. Galleries—including the Torpedo Factory—abound. Milo and Tristram meet by chance in one of the more frequented Irish pubs, O’Connell’s.
Wild Rose Press, 7/20/2016; Imprint Crimson Rose
Theme(s): Mystery/Cozy Mystery
Contemporary romantic Suspense, M/F, 2 flames
Contemporary romantic Suspense, M/F, 2 flames
Ebook, 66,830 words; Print 268 p.
It’s just before Christmas, and Milo Everhart has two needlepoint stockings, a cross-stitch purse, and three canvases to finish for her clients. Waiting out the rain in a pub, she is captivated by the handsome man next to her, but blocking the road to romance are two mysterious corpses who turn up in the tower of her Torpedo Factory Art Center. As if that weren’t enough, a second crisis erupts—a proposal to gut her beloved Art Center.
Tristram Brodie, hard-driving corporate lawyer and former Marine, is focused on his plan to convert the Torpedo Factory into a box store. He is drawn to the beautiful woman sitting next to him, but their mutual attraction will be frustrated by both the murders and his intentions. As they edge closer to love, they must find a way to overcome both their differences and the still-fresh memory of her late husband.
|Where Milo meets Tristram|
Milo, heroine of Artful Dodging, lost her Marine pilot husband in a freak accident on an aircraft carrier a year earlier. She is not prepared to fall in love and worries that if she does, her memories of Michael, her dead husband, will evaporate. The guilt interferes with her growing attachment to Tristram. As she begins to fall, he confesses something that makes accepting new romance even harder.
Excerpt (G): Confession
A luxurious shower later, she dressed and followed the aroma of maple syrup and melted butter down the stairs. Tristram had coffee and juice ready and plopped two large pancakes on her plate. She savored a few quiet, cozy minutes before the silence grew slightly uncomfortable. Milo knew Tristram expected an explanation for her erratic behavior. She tried a couple of different openings in her head but nothing sounded right.
“The other night when you left in a huff?”
“Y…es.” He opened his mouth and closed it. She knew he struggled with the desire to correct her and loved him for not indulging it.
“It had nothing to do with the box store or Doyle or the Factory. I…I let you think that.”
“I see.” He took a sip of coffee. “Then what is it?”
“I…um…I think I may have mentioned I’m a widow?”
Milo had never seen a jaw drop quite that dramatically. “A widow? No. In fact, you haven’t told me anything about your past.”
“I…guess it didn’t come up.” She gazed pleadingly at him. “Michael—my husband—died a year ago. He was a Marine…” Tristram blinked. “A Marine pilot. Assigned to an aircraft carrier. On a routine training flight, his…his plane flipped on landing. He…died instantly.”
Tristram said nothing but pulled a can of dog food out and began to fill a dish. Facing away from her he mumbled, “I’m sorry, Milo.”
She moved to him and put a hand on his arm. “It’s okay. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner. It hasn’t been an easy year. It…it…seemed too soon for another relationship. I thought…my feelings were…wicked.” When he swung around, Milo saw with surprise that his eyes were wet with unspilled tears. “What is it?”
“You should have told me. I feel like a heel. I shouldn’t have pressed you. It’s just—”
He pushed his plate aside, sat down, and put his head in his hands. His voice came low and muffled. “Milo, I wanted you from the first moment I saw you. You are the most beautiful creature I’ve ever seen, and I couldn’t wait to make love to you. You were right, you know—I purposely didn’t mention my client because I knew you’d hate me for it. And I didn’t ask you any questions because I didn’t want to hear anything that would keep us from being together. If I could pretend you were unattached—implausible though it seemed for a woman as perfect as you—I could pursue you without guilt. I couldn’t bear the idea that you were unavailable. Not after I’d been alone so long.”
Most of his words filled her with comfort, as though she’d heard them before in a dream. He is my savior. But before she could draw him into her arms, his last sentence penetrated and she stopped.
“What do you mean, alone so long?”
He raised his eyes to hers, his face sheathed in sadness. “I lost my wife five years ago. We’d only been married three months. She was a Foreign Service specialist based in Saõ Paulo. I’d just been posted to the Marine Corps liaison office in the Senate, and she’d wangled a transfer to Washington, but had to return to Brazil for some final paperwork. Her plane crashed on the way there. A hundred and eighty-seven people died.”
The homey little kitchen scene collapsed like a flimsy stage set. She knew it was irrational, but instead of feeling sympathy for his pain, his story rekindled all her grief over Michael. Her eyes blurred as she went back in time to the day she’d kissed him goodbye for the last time. They’d laughed through the tears, promising each other special gifts and favors when he came back on leave. She’d waved him off wearing nothing but a crimson bow in her hair, Michael grinning in that lopsided, endearing way he had. When she went back upstairs, a Hershey kiss lay on the night table, a token of his love. She’d scarfed it down, thinking she had no reason to save it. He’ll give me many more. After Colonel Murray left that awful day, she had walked in a trance to the candy store on Fairfax Street, where she bought a five-pound box of Hershey kisses. She put them in a crystal bowl on his side of the four-poster, and there they lay still.
Too many deaths. Too many lost loves. She backed out into the living room, grabbed her purse and coat, and made a run for it. She heard him call but knew he wouldn’t come after her. We both need to sort this out. Alone.
She made it home without incident. The desk clerk called to her as she passed, but she waved him off. What I need is a long bath. And a hot cry.
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