Just in time for Mother’s Day, my latest thriller novel, PAYBACK, has been deeply discounted to only $0.99! Now you can send mom on an island getaway to solve a good “whodunit” murder mystery all from the comfort of her favorite reading spot. As an added bonus, she can get in a little “payback for all those years you kids *insert that thing that drove her crazy*”! 😜
To celebrate today’s discount and the women in our lives whom we deeply cherish, I’ve got a PAYBACK excerpt for you below, as well as a little behind-the-scenes banter that is much like a conversation you might hear between myself and The Wife–were I nearly as daring as Cyrus Brooks! 😉
All PAYBACK puns aside, I hope that you’re able to spend some Zoom/FaceTime or phone time with mom. Remember that when it comes to love and connection, we don’t have to be in the same room to express and feel it.
Stay safe and well! 🙌💖
At dinner on the dining room terrace overlooking the bay, Eloise, Lotello and Klein were all anxious to hear how Brooks had spent his first day learning how to become a bestselling author.
Brooks obliged. “The sessions were very informative. I had no idea how involved and complicated it is to become an author. At least a successful one. There’s all the writing tips and techniques a new author must assimilate. Then there’s the business demands of being a writer. This is not for the faint-of-heart. Writing’s a full-time job. For the uninitiated like me, it’s even more demanding than practicing law or presiding over courtroom trials.”
Brooks also shared the intrigue surrounding the missing Llewellyn. Eloise and Klein were quick to respond. Each in their own way, they allowed as how they thought Brooks’s imagination was working overtime. In contrast, Lotello was pensive, if not downright somber. He turned away from Brooks and gazed out at the water.
“What?” Brooks asked Lotello.
Lotello hesitated. And then: “Nothing really. But your panelist, this guy Llewellyn. He may not be the only conference bigwig to recently disappear. Late yesterday afternoon, I was sitting in the bar having a drink after a workout in the fitness center. I overheard three women sitting at the table next to me chatting about someone by the name of Lasko who was supposed to lead an all-day training session yesterday, who was a no-show, without any notice or warning. A last-minute substitute teacher was brought in. According to one of the women, who was a participant in the class, hotel security said there was no indication that the missing teacher had checked out of her room, but they had not been able to find her anywhere. The speculation was that she may have drowned while swimming in the bay.”
“That’s horrible,” Eloise said.
Brooks stared at Lotello. “I chalk up one missing person to the one person. I chalk up two missing persons to something—or someone—else.”
“Or perhaps simply a tête-à-tête,” interjected Klein.
“Ah, yes,” Brooks added, “but what to do about it?”
“Nothing, is what to do about it, Cyrus,” Eloise said. You’re here to learn how to become a novelist, not to conduct searches for missing persons. Leave that to the authorities, please.” Eloise attempted to change the subject. Tapping on her menu for emphasis, pointedly to redirect the conversation to something more to her liking, she asked, “So, what’s everyone having for dinner tonight?”
Brooks held his tongue. Best to let Eloise think she’d had the last say. Nothing says I can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.
* * *
Another couple of incidents may really dig TITO’s grave. Pun intended. Ah, yes, but that’s not all I’m gonna do, as they’ll soon find out. Very soon.
“Mr. Barak, is it too much of me to ask of you, just this one time?” Eloise implored. “Of all people, you know how hard I’ve been working to get Cyrus out of the crime business. He’s no James Bond. This crime stuff is just too dangerous for him.”
“Why are you picking on me, Eloise?” Barak responded. “Haven’t I cooperated by sending the four of you off to an island holiday, where crime is all but non-existent. Just fun and games in the sun, with Cyrus concentrating on becoming a novelist, precisely as you intended? Certainly, you can’t possibly blame me for what’s happened.”
“Oh, please, Mr. Barak, don’t play coy with me, “ Eloise scolded Barak. “Who ambushed my plans if not you, introducing a wannabe writer serial killer at a placid writers conference no less. Utterly preposterous. Who’s ever heard of such silliness?
“Silliness? Writers are a driven, egotistical bunch. Why is it so hard to imagine that one might be jealously driven to get even with those thought to be standing in the way?”
Almost always a gentle soul, Barak was trying Eloise’s patience. “I’ve always cooperated with your use of Cyrus for your own gain. The least you could do now is tell me who this madman is so I can turn him in before Cyrus gets into trouble. Thanks to you. Once again. It’ll be our little secret, Mr. Barak. I won’t tell a soul how I found out.”
The voice listening in on this conversation was silent no longer. “Don’t you dare reveal my identity, Barak! Count on me to get even with you if you do, to tell everyone what I know about…you!”
Barak was torn. “Eloise. I’m shocked. I couldn’t possibly do what you’re asking of me. I owe it to my readers, those who have bought Payback, not to cheat them out of this whodunit mystery.
“Cheat them? Or cheat you? Eloise stood and politely walked out of the room, leaving Barak talking to himself. Nothing out of the ordinary for Barak.