Welcome to another stop on my weekly tour through the books! Each week I'll give you an insider's look by sharing one of my favorite scenes and talking about the inspiration behind the story. I'll also have a new giveaway every single week.
The Book Cellar Mysteries are about a lot of things, like gossip and secrets, scandal and redemption. But at the heart, this is a series about friendship. That's why it should come as no surprise that my co-author, KM Hodge and I have become amazing friends while writing it together.
That's why this behind-the-scenes glimpse is all about that special friendship. I mean, heck, we even dedicated our first book to each other. We're in deep! It's funny to think that I didn't even know KM until last spring. We met online, same as I meet many of my favorite people (like my awesome readers!). We met in a writer group, but really got to know each other after Kelly actually defended me from cyber bullying–a long story about someone giving me guff, claiming that Americans weren't patriotic during the 1950s (umm, what?).
From there it was love at first read… for both of us. She became a huge fan of my Cupid's Bow and Diving for Pearls series, and the second I started reading her Syndicate Series, I saw that we had something special. Even though I write Romance and Inspirational Fiction and she writes Thrillers, we both had very similar ways of approaching our work and similar voices. I forget who had the idea first, probably me since I'm such an ambitious, little mite, but we thought it could be fun to write something together, uniting the best of her thrillers with the best of my romance.
We even took aspects of ourselves and turned them into the BFF characters of Brooke and Vi for our series. That's why I chose the following excerpt to share, because it really shows off that special friendship and it's something that could totally happen with KM and me. I'll let you guess which of us is more like Brooke and which is Vi. Extra points for anyone who can get it right 😉
Brooke pulled her gloves off finger by finger in a slow, seductive fashion. She could flirt her way out of anything, and she would prove it.
Meanwhile Vi sucked in a sharp breath beside her before buckling at the knees and falling to the grass in the Kings’ front yard. Such an amateur.
“Afternoon, ladies.” The officer smiled and craned his neck toward Vi to get a better look. “Say, uh, is she okay?”
“Thank goodness you’re here!” Brooke cried. “Everything was fine. We were just planting some fresh azaleas as a nice housewarming surprise for our new neighbors, when—wham—Vi toppled over headfirst into the garden. Not before losing her lunch first, I’m afraid. You know that danged flu has been making its rounds.” She shrugged and shot a sympathetic look toward her friend.
“My, my, my…” The officer shook his head and looked Brooke over from head to toe before glancing back toward Vi. “It certainly is a good thing I just so happened to get called over to this house. Looks like you could use a pair of strong arms and a sturdy back.”
A practiced smile spread across Brooke’s face. Her charm had become so second nature. She no longer needed to remind herself to smile, to brush her fingers up against the officer’s arm as she talked with him, to add that special lilt to her voice that made her seem all damsely. Men liked that, a fact Brooke knew all too well.
Together they pulled Vi to her feet and walked her over to a lawn chair on the Kings’ front porch.
“Can you stay with her while I go inside and get her a glass of water?”
“It would be my pleasure.”
Brooke felt the officer’s eyes on her as she sashayed straight through the Kings’ front door. She also heard a low moan come from Vi, but thankfully she could peg anything out of sorts on the poor creature’s obvious delirium. Besides, they still didn’t know why the officer had shown up when he did, and she needed to put on a good show, just in case they needed a proper alibi for later.
She handed Vi a bottle of Evian, surprised at Annabeth’s good taste.
The officer smiled at her chest, hooked on her material charms. Time for Brooke to set things straight.
“So what brings a strapping officer of the law to our quiet little neighborhood?”
He inhaled lustily before continuing. Men were so easy, so very easy.
“Seems it was a false alarm. The Kings’ security system picked up an unplanned entry onto the property, but I can see now it was just two kind neighbors giving them a bit of a welcome celebration.”
“Oh no, you didn’t think we’d…?” Brooke let the question linger as she dropped her eyes to the ground then looked up at the officer beneath a veil of thick eyelashes.
“Of course not, uh, ma’am. We just have to make sure is all. No harm done, but still I will have to report our chat. Procedure and all.”
He walked back in the direction of his car while punching numbers into his handheld device.
Was he suspicious? What was the code for breaking and entering?
Brooke ran after him and, when she caught up, pushed the device down to his side, bringing her arm so close to the crotch of his pants she could feel the itchy fabric brush the hairs on her arm.
“Oh, please, officer! Don’t ruin our surprise! Vi and I have worked so hard to make the Kings feel welcome, and this will only worry them. I want them to know how much we—how much everyone in Herald Springs—are truly glad to have them here. Will you help us with our friendly little ruse?”
Back on the porch Vi began to pant like a panicked pooch.
Keep it together, Violeta, she mentally reprimanded her disappointing sidekick.
If this were a superhero movie, Vi would have already been killed by the villain, leaving Brooke to charge forth on her own. Instead, Brooke was always having to think on her feet to make up for Vi’s many shortcomings. Lucky for her, she had catlike reflexes, and—some might also say—nine lives of her own to play around with.
A charged silence passed between Brooke and the officer, Vi’s rhythmic panting something of a metronome backdrop. Tick tock. Tick tock.
Finally the officer gave a friendly chuckle. “Tell you what, I’ll do you this small favor. If you’d do one for me.”
“Oh, you will? Of course, of course. Anything you want, just name it.” Brooke tried to mask her disgust by making her voice extra high pitched and girly.
Please don’t let it be a sexual favor. Please don’t let it be a sexual favor.
“Your number,” he said with a lascivious smile. “If you would.”
“Oh, is that all?” She giggled, then recited Vi’s number for him as he clicked the digits into his cell phone.
A jarring screech cut Brooke short, as a distress call came through on the radio. The officer’s brow furrowed. He repeated the number she’d given him, smiled, and jogged back toward the car.
“Is—is everything all right?” Brooke asked, panic clutching at her throat.
“Gotta skeedaddle to the other side of town. Seems we’ve got a robbery in progress. No time to lose. You ladies have a great afternoon. And don’t worry, I’ll have the alarm company turn off the alarm on their end. Your secret is safe with me.” He pulled away with an exuberant wave back toward the women.
“You’ve got some balls,” Vi said between sips of Evian. “Some balls, all right.”
Brooke shrugged. “You wanna talk about big balls? When I grabbed his computer thingy, my wrist found itself in a rather unfortunate spot. And let’s just say I’m not the only one with some major huevos, my friend.”
Vi frowned, apparently not amused.
“Hey, I got us off, didn’t I?”
“Yeah,” Vi said. “And probably him too. Later tonight, that is. But why’d you have to go and give him my number? A horny cop calling day and night is the last thing I need.”
Brooke bristled. How could Vi be complaining now when Brooke had just single-handedly saved the day?
“Violeta, calm down. Everything’s fine. Besides, that whole ordeal gave us at least one new piece of evidence to add to our dossier.”
“Our dossi-what?” Vi teased.
Brooke answered anyway. “C'mon, Vi. Our case folder. The pictures of all those girls, remember? Those two hardly seem like the type to be into anything that perverted in the bedroom. I bet she just lies there, while—”
“Brooke! Get to the point!” Vi fanned at herself then took another sip of water.
“Well, you’re no fun. My point is people don’t just keep records like that without a reason, and usually a reason like that? Totally sinister. Well, at least that’s my guess anyway. I’ve never run into a real-life criminal mastermind before, at least not that I know of. Although—”
“Brooke!” Vi shouted again. “Seriously, stay focused. Tell me what exactly it is you're suggesting.”
“Well, for starters, that I was right about these new neighbors of ours.”
Vi waited for Brooke to continue. When she didn’t Vi took a slow breath, then said, “Okay, so then what do we do next?”
“We write this all down so we can further study the evidence, figure out what’s really going on here.”
“Why do you think there’s an and?”
“With you, there’s always an and. Just tell me what it is already, Brooke.”
Brooke narrowed her eyes at Vi. “And we’re going to have to go deep undercover in order to properly continue this investigation. Meaning we’ve got to make this Anna chick one of our very best friends, get her to invite us in of her own accord, see her and Marcus up close, learn the truth once and for all.”
“I admit we found some strange things in their house, but I bet you there’s a good explanation for everything. If we just asked, I’m sure—”
“Out of the question!” Brooke shouted. “You trust way too easily, Vi, and one of these days that’s going to be your downfall. You can mark my words on that. Luckily, I’ll be here to rescue your butt as per the usual. Now, let’s go inside, make Tiara her lunch, and then get to work. We’ve got a lot to do.”