Click to Purchase PAYBACK for $.99!

In case you missed the announcement on Sunday, PAYBACK is now only $.99 for a very limited time. To celebrate the special, I’m sharing another free excerpt from the book, plus a behind-the-scenes look at what I like to call, “What Happens When Ron’s Characters Talk Back!” 😜📚 If you’d like to read part one of this series, click here! I hope you enjoy this sneak peak and author-character banter! You can take advantage of the discount by clicking here or on the images above and below. Enjoy!

Click to Order PAYBACK for $.99!


Eloise Brooks had planned the evening very strategically. Dinner at their favorite restaurant with her husband, Cyrus, and their two closest friends, Frank Lotello and Leah Klein Lotello, ostensibly to celebrate the Brookses’ fifty-fifth anniversary, but actually to spring a surprise on Cyrus in a setting where it would be difficult for him to object.

After a distinguished 35-year career as a U.S. District Court Judge, Cyrus had voluntarily stepped down from the bench and retired about ten years ago, but remained passionately committed to the law.

Therein lay the problem, Eloise’s not Cyrus’s. Cyrus was constantly finding himself in life-threatening situations, especially after he and homicide investigator Frank Lotello became so close. Cyrus relished all the danger. Eloise did not.

Cyrus had other interests, including music, dance, and writing. But he couldn’t sing or dance, and his few attempts at writing a novel ended unsuccessfully. Infinitely patient and disciplined when it came to matters of the law, he lacked both when it came to his attempts to become a novelist.

“Happy Anniversary dear,” Eloise said, handing the envelope to Cyrus. Brooks opened the envelope, and removed a brochure announcing a one-week writers’ retreat at Hotel Marisol on the “sun-bathed” island of Punta Maya off the coast of Spain. “What, pray tell, is this?” Cyrus asked.

“We’re all going, the fours of us,” eight weeks from today.” Eloise answered. “Time for you to learn how to write one of those novels you’ve always been starting but never finishing.”

“In eight weeks? That’s impossible. My desk is piled high with pending chores. Besides, I’m not a writer.”
“Nothing on your desk that won’t keep, and who says you’re not a writer?” Eloise countered. “Now you’ll be able to stalk imaginary murder and mayhem instead of the real-world murder and mayhem that always seems to stalk you.”

“No point fighting it, Judge,” Lotello interjected. “Sometimes you just have to let go and live to fight another day.”

Cyrus protested gamely, but Eloise ignored his attempted diversions until Cyrus reluctantly yielded. “It’s settled then,” Eloise said to Cyrus victoriously. I’m so looking forward to you not getting into trouble for a change. After all, what could possibly go wrong at a writers’ conference?”


“Hey, Judge, I thought you always got your way in the courtroom,” said author Ron Barak to Brooks when, as they often did, they visited later that night following the anniversary dinner party.

“What dinner party were you watching, Barak?” Brooks countered. “You think I’m a potted plant?”

“First of all, I always get my way in my courtroom. In case you didn’t notice, the dinner was in Eloise’s courtroom. You and Barbie have been married just as long as Eloise and I have. When you’ve been married that long, you know damn well you have to pick your battles. Carefully. As Lotello reminded me.

“Second, what makes you think I didn’t get my way?”

“How do you figure, Judge?” Barak asked.

“As you heard Eloise make the point, I’ve been trying to write a novel for years now. I just haven’t known how to get it done. I’ve been wanting to go to one of them “How to” writers conference for a long time. So I got what I wanted and I had Eloise believing I reluctantly agreed to do what she wanted. That’s how you stay married fifty-five years. You know that, Barak. Or you should.

“Besides, one of us has to learn how to write a novel. I can’t sit around forever waiting for you to learn how! See ya, in Punta Maya.

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