Saturday, December 22, 2012

Saturday's Excerpt from Irons In The Fire by Penny Marzec #amreading

Except from Irons in the Fire, by Penelope Marzec

Published by Crescent Moon Press (

ISBN-13: 978-0981848457

She gave him a quizzical stare. “Detective Jamison said you did foolhardy stunts.”

He rolled his eyes. They weren't foolhardy. He'd gotten some damn good stories. Okay, maybe hanging over the bridge while trying to talk that drunk out of jumping was a bit risky. Especially when the drunk slipped.

He glanced at the three-inch scar on his right arm. That was from the time he tried to reason with a real loony holding a hysterical woman hostage. When the guy lunged at him, the woman got away. It had made a terrific headline. But hell, it had hurt, too. “Jamison thinks doing thirty-six in a 35 mile per hour zone is foolhardy,” he mumbled.

She reached out to run her finger along the jagged scar. Her touch held the warmth of a healing salve. “This came from a knife.”

He jerked his arm away and narrowed his eyes, until he remembered the Associated Press had picked up the story and sent it over the wire.

She sank into the chair. “Your omelet's stone cold.”

A puddle of congealed butter surrounded the omelet. He carried the plate to the microwave oven. “You're eating half of this.”

She shrugged wearily but didn't argue. While the omelet warmed, he tossed instant coffee into two mugs and added water. “Your aunt isn't home most of the time.”

“She's searching for the fountain of youth.” A frown etched into her smooth forehead as she stared out the window toward the Taylor home.

“Mike never seemed particularly lonely whenever Evelyn went away.”

Catherine swung her head around and glared at him. “Uncle Mike was busy. His realty office took up most of his time.”

He took the omelet out of the microwave and replaced it with the mugs. “It would be understandable if your uncle sought out some companionship when Evelyn wasn't around.”

“Uncle Mike would never be unfaithful. He worshipped Evelyn. He would have given her the moon if she’d asked for it.”

He slid a portion of the egg dish onto another plate. Her cheeks were rosy and her eyes had turned to blue fire. Anger only made her more beautiful. Damn. If she was a witch, she ought to have a few warts.

He tore his gaze away from her and sat. “Evelyn has always craved the finer things in life. What if she believed the endless fountain of cash was about to turn into a trickle because her husband might leave her for another woman?”

Catherine gasped. “H-how can you say such an evil thing?”

“Hey. It happens everyday. Don't you read the papers?” He picked up his fork and dug in. From the first bite, he decided it was the best omelet he had ever eaten.

“Uncle Mike would never go out with another woman. Never.” Her lips pressed together in a grim line.

“So why was he out in his boat at two in the morning?”

She stood, her fists clenched at her sides. “I don't know, but he wasn't out with another woman. He loved Evelyn.”

He savored another morsel as he watched Catherine pace across the floor. Loving Evelyn would be like loving the Ice Queen, but loving Catherine would be like diving into a volcano. The air around her almost crackled with energy. If he touched her, would his own skin sizzle? A hunger that had nothing to do with food made him put down his fork.

“Uncle Mike has been--had been--depressed lately,” she blurted out. “The real estate market is slow right now. He was afraid he might have to let some people go. Cruising in the boat always made him feel better. It gave him a new perspective, he said.”

She looked out the back window at the channel. Britt came up behind her, and together they watched as the marine police anchored three boats at regular intervals along the waterway. On the decks, black-suited divers prepared to begin their search.

Britt tried to hold back, but couldn't resist the temptation to touch her. He rested his hands lightly on her shoulders. She stiffened as he turned her to face him.

“Did Evelyn love Mike?” He slid his hand under her chin, catching the flicker of doubt in her eyes before she tried to hide it. Her eyelids came down, lashes fanning against her cheeks. He wanted to kiss those cheeks, those tender eyelids. And taste her lips. Could she hear his heart pounding with the force of a pile driver?

“Evelyn isn't a demonstrative person,” she said with a ragged sigh. “But when Uncle Mike had his hernia operation, she sat beside him night and day.”

Britt wished his nagging conscience would desert him. His thumb massaged her cheek, softer than the ripest fruit and begging to be plucked.

His retort came out sounding husky. “Of course she pretended to care, because she’s a manipulative bitch.”

Her hand shot out and she shoved him away, her eyes narrowing to angry slits. “I don't have to listen to your insinuations. Enjoy your omelet, Mr. Jenkins.” With that she charged into the living room to pick up her suitcase and handbag.

He jammed his hands into his pockets, though he felt like putting a fist right through his freshly painted wall. He felt rotten. No, worse than rotten. He felt like a high school kid who couldn't even make it to first base with a girl.

She stormed back through the kitchen, heading for the back door. “Thanks for your hospitality.” The parting shot dripped with sarcasm as the door slammed.

From the window, he watched her race across the driveway, the wind whipping her hair in a mad dance. Outside the Taylor home she stopped abruptly and tugged at something around her neck. She stood, facing the door for a full minute, before finally going inside.

He frowned as he stared at the Taylor’s relentless gothic, and a chill wound its way up his spine. What if Evelyn had murdered her husband?

When her aunt came back, Catherine would be under the same roof as a cold-blooded killer.

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