LAST DAYS, New Release ~ in nutshell capsule & read First Chapter.

A palm tree beach

LAST DAYS ~ In a nutshell…

A spry elderly woman has died mysteriously in a Florida coastal town, and the head of a clandestine organization in Washington D.C is interested in the case. All evidence, or lack thereof, points to accidental death, but Detective Katerina “Kat” Andruko has nagging doubts. She also has doubts about a mysterious phone call profiler Dimitri Garmonin, PhD, her intended, took and hid from her. ~~  As if that wasn’t enough, Kat’s former fiancé and fellow law enforcement officer gleefully taunts her, predicting the demise of her relationship with Dimitri. Her future mother-in-law thinks she’s less than demure and not suitable marriage material for her son. ~~  Meanwhile, all leads on the elderly woman’s death go nowhere. Old enemies at the local TV station are calling the police incompetent. They air an unfavorable segment about Dimitri. Just as Kat and Dimitri reluctantly begin to believe the death was accidental, the woman’s neighbor goes missing.  [Cover Reveal To Come]

Chapter One

 Pelican Beach, Florida ~ Mid-March

Det. Katerina “Kat” Andruko

 I had to confront Dimitri. If he was serious about making a total commitment to share his life with me, there couldn’t be secrets.

I took the antique pierced earrings he had given me at Thanksgiving out of my jewelry box. Lovely. Alexandrite set in rose gold. They had belonged to his grandmother. Recalling that moment, I still got a magical rush. With this gift, handcrafted nearly a century ago in St. Petersburg, we’d taken a step into a deeper relationship.

Mere moments after giving me the earrings, Dimitri’s phone rang. He turned his back on me and informed the other party I was in the room. The enchanting romance of the moment evaporated, but I let it go. It was Thanksgiving. My sister and her chef Nick Anastos had closed the restaurant and prepared a feast fit for royalty, a family tradition my Larissa proudly kept going. She and Nick ran the Andruko Chophouse, the restaurant my parents started. She, Mari, and I lived in the upstairs apartment. 

A knock on my bedroom door jolted me to the present. “Come in.”

The twerp stuck her head in, or should I call her Your Royal Highness Emo-Princess Mari? Her BFF had recently chopped my niece’s lush brunette hair into an uneven chin-length do, if you could call it that. I thought my sister was going to have a cow when she first saw it. The entire head of hair was now dyed purple.  “Hey, what’s up? You going out?”

“I wasn’t planning on it. I’m not on the schedule for a shift today.”

“Oh, thought maybe you were cause you’re holding those fancy earrings. Thought you might have big plans with Dimitri.” She drew out each syllable of his name and offered a self-conscious grin.

“No plans.” I shrugged.

“Mom brought fresh-baked baklava up from the restaurant that Nick just made. Want some?”

“You bet. I’ll be out in a minute.”

“If you don’t hurry, I’ll eat them all. Fair warning.” The door slammed behind her.

I took a last, long look at the earrings, and placed them back inside the jewelry box, then sighed. The holidays had been a whirlwind of merriment, rejoicing, and romance. I’d given Dimitri ample opportunity to explain that mysterious phone call. I’d even tossed out a few leading questions.

“Which he dodged.” Whoa, I surprised myself by stamping my foot as the words blurted out.

Even though it bothered me, I hadn’t found the right time to pin him down. His mother came from New York for Christmas and New Year’s. She was polite as could be but hovered over him displaying etiquette that could only be described as old world.

Then he announced he had a special Valentine’s Day planned. He brought a dozen pink roses and a box of chocolates to the apartment. But that wasn’t the special part. He whisked me away to a Cooking Class for Lovers at the Pelican Beach Hospitality Institute. Along with three other couples, we prepared a fine French meal. It was served to us by a few of their full-time students acting as waiters. And now his birthday was approaching. There would always be something. I had to do what I had to do.

I sighed again and hustled into the kitchen. Mari hadn’t been kidding. She sat at the table, stuffing her face with the honeyed confections.

“Save at least one piece for me.”

She half-stood pushing out her chair. It screeched against the floor as she swallowed the last morsel and licked her fingers. “I gotta go. I’m meeting Ashley.” With that, she rushed out the door. Her sneakers pounded down wooden steps leading to the back door of the restaurant and reserved spaces for family and employees in the parking lot.

Larissa turned from the sink where she’d been washing dishes. “Her behavior has been so much better since the holidays.”

“I don’t want to cast blame, but without Carla’s influence, she and Ashley have grown up a bit in the responsibility department.” Carla had been one of Mari’s closest friends who had not set a good example. She’d been murdered by a serial killer the previous fall.

Larissa dried her hands. “Have you gotten all the arrangements finalized with Mackey for Dimitri’s birthday party?”

“I better have. It’s in three weeks.” I took a quick bite of baklava to hide the frown about to overtake my face.

“And Chef Hote has the menu?”

“Yup.” I took another bite and glanced away from her.

“Did you place a birthday cake order with that Christian baker we want to give business to?” She took a step toward me.

“Yeah, she closed her shop and is running the business from her house. I understand it’s going well for her.”

Larissa nodded once, slowly. “You’ve got the party room booked, decided on a menu, ordered the cake. So, what’s wrong?”

I backed toward the door, grabbed my beige bomber jacket off the pegged coat rack on the wall. “Nothing’s wrong.” With that, I shot out, closed the door behind me, and rushed down the stairs.

Larissa yelled after me, “Now you’re acting like your niece, and that’s not good.”

I climbed into my lightning-blue Ford Fusion, my pride and joy, and sat there for a moment. My heart pounded, and it wasn’t from having run down the steps. If I confronted Dimitri, would it end our relationship just as it was about to begin?

I took a circuitous route to his beach house, wending my way through side streets, as my thoughts roamed to a few not very cozy places. Finally, I pulled into his drive. The house sat across the street from the ocean upon ten-foot-high cinder block pillars. This was to protect it from the highest storm surge after a violent hurricane. I drove under the structure, into his personal carport, and parked next to his white Chevy Tahoe.

I climbed the twenty-five steps to his small porch and front door. I’d counted them more than once. When my heart rate lowered, I rang the bell.

Dimitri answered, wearing a pair of cut-offs and a worn tee. He was barefoot. “Hey, my love, I just made coffee. Want some?” His voice had a slight Russian accent which I found alluring. After he closed the door, he kissed me lightly on the corner of my mouth.

Now, how do I get past that and deliver a one-two-punch ultimatum? Maybe I’d better soften it a bit. I brushed my cheek against his and murmured, “Love you, too, and I’d love a cup.”

The serving and sipping of coffee would give me time to organize my thoughts. I sat and tried to make myself comfortable on the cushioned couch in the open-concept great room.

He brought out two mismatched mugs. One was a Florida Gator’s mug– orange with a gator’s green head on it. The other said: Profilers Do It With Good Behavior. He’d gotten that one via Secret Santa at the department’s Christmas party. The consensus of opinion was Detective. Danny Lee had given it as a gag-gift. Lee shrugged and said, “If you knew, it wouldn’t be Secret Santa, would it?”

Dimitri and I both took our coffee the same way, with a splash of milk, or black on the job if that’s all that was available. I leaned forward, took the profilers cup, and took a sip. “Good coffee, as usual.”

He sat next to me on the couch. “I got it at the Surfside Motel. They started serving their guests Jamaican Blue Mountain roast and are also offering it for sale. I ran over and bought a bag. I get whole beans because, as you know, my favorite part is the coffee maker’s grind-and-brew feature.”

I cleared my throat and shifted my position so my back was straighter. “Dimitri, I want to talk to you about something.”

He was about to take another sip but stopped. “I see.”

I launched right into it and told him I was disturbed about the mystery phone call. “I’ve tossed out quite a few leading questions about this in the last few months, and each time you’ve changed the subject.”

He looked directly at me. “I guess I have. I swear to you on my mother’s life, it has absolutely nothing to do with another woman.”

Dimitri’s mother was precious to him. For him to make that assertion was startling. I took a breath. “I didn’t think it did. I think it’s related to something in the last murder investigation. That Pentagon weapons designer was our prime suspect. Then his assassination was quickly hushed up. It was like he’d never come to town. You and Mackey both disappeared for two days. Then you came back, and both of you acted as if nothing had happened.”

“We took a couple of days off and went to his hunting cabin. Nothing illegal or nefarious.”

“I didn’t know you and he were such good friends, or that you hunt.”

He shrugged one shoulder. “We weren’t terribly good friends. It was spur of the moment, and I do hunt. We’re friends now.”

“You forget, I’ve seen your hunting skills, and I’m not so sure you hunt four-legged, furry creatures.”

He laughed. “You don’t miss much, and that’s why you’re becoming the world’s greatest detective.”

“You’re charming, but that’s silly.” I took another sip of coffee.

He reached out and touched my hand. “During that phone call an elderly gentleman asked me to check on the safety of some people here in town on the down-low. As he requested, I checked once a month over the last three months, and they seemed to be doing fine. End of story.”

“Well, if that’s all it was…”

Rebecca’s Legacy by Betty Thomason Owens ~ spotlight

Rebecca's Legacy

Historical Romantic Suspense/Inspirational Fiction

Betty is such an awesome writer, you just have to check out Rebecca’s Legacy, Book 3 Legacy series.

*****

Amy Juliana Emerson might be a cultured debutante, but she’s doing her best to follow her mom’s rebellious footsteps. Her desperate attempt to escape her father’s control, however, comes at the worst possible time.

Robert Emerson has received a threat against his family in an attempt to take over his company, Sanderson Industries. To guarantee his willful daughter’s safety, he sends her to work on a produce farm run by her Aunt Rebecca. Maybe her quiet strength and unconditional love can work on Amy, keep her from becoming the prodigal daughter she seems insistent on being.

Matt Wordsworth is the man Robert calls upon to make sure his daughter stays in line. His only interest in the beautiful girl is purely part of his job. Purely. Amy considers him a fuddy-duddy which suits the situation perfectly, allowing him to stay close to her without concern for her losing her heart to him. And his own heart … well, his feelings didn’t matter. This was business.

INTERVIEW:

Nike:  Tell us something topical, interesting, funny, or something we would not expect about the writing of this novel.

Betty:  Amy Juliana Emerson was born in Amelia’s Legacy, the first book in the Legacy series. I always wanted to tell her story. When her character began to flesh out in my writing, I loved her instantly. She made me laugh. The main antagonist in Rebecca’s Legacy, Thad Greene, was supposed to be a constant thorn in Amy’s side, but something happened as I was writing his character. He ran into a snag that changed the entire plot line and shocked the author. Yes, that’s right, I was surprised. So, now you know I’m not a plotter. I contemplated an adjustment to the story, but honestly, the pivotal scene just felt right.

Nike:  If this novel is part of a series, tell us about the series.

Betty:  The Legacy series begins with Amelia’s Legacy, Nancy Sanderson’s attempt to free herself from her grandmother’s iron-fisted control. In book two, Carlotta’s Legacy, Nancy’s best friend Rebecca Lewis feels compelled to enter into marriage with a man she barely knows, a young Italian count who owns a vineyard in Umbria. The ongoing theme of the Legacy series is discovering love through family.

Nike:  Can you give us a sneak peek or preview into the next work in progress (WIP) you’re working on? When do you expect to release it?

Betty:  I’m working on the final book in the Kinsman Redeemer series. The first book, Annabelle’s Ruth, is a retelling of the Biblical story of Ruth, set in 1950s rural south. I was able to use many of my childhood memories of the setting and actual people (fictionalized, of course) who lived then. Book 2, Sutter’s Landing, continues the story. In the final book, Annabelle (the Naomi character) struggles with her feelings for a man who’s pursuing her. I’m hoping she’ll overcome her objections and accept his proposal, but we’ll see. The working title is “Annabelle’s Beau.” I hope the book will be ready for release in 2019.

Nike:  Were you good in English as a student? Did you enjoy reading and writing back then?

Betty:  English and literature were two of my favorite subjects in school. I read all the time and enjoyed a variety of subjects and authors. My senior year of high school, I was a teacher’s pet—er—aid for my English Lit class. That was when I became interested in the classics. I read books by the Bronte sisters, Dickens, and du Maurier. When it came time to read Les Misérables for class, I was horribly bored. But a couple years later after high school ended, I was even more bored, and picked it up again. Wow. I was hooked. I read it through twice and loved it. I don’t remember writing, except when it was required. The desire to write came on suddenly in my early thirties. I often quip that I started writing to keep my sanity while raising three boys. A friend read one of my early stories and encouraged me to pursue it. I took a short story writing class at the University of Louisville. The professor loved my story and urged me to continue writing.

Betty Thomason Owens

BIO:

Betty Thomason Owens is an award-winning writer of historical fiction, contemporary fiction, and fantasy-adventure. She’s an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), where she leads a critique group, and is V.P./Secretary of the Louisville area ACFW group. She’s also a speaker, a mentor assisting other writers, co-founder of a blog dedicated to inspiring writers, and serves on the planning committee for the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference.

Her writing credits include the Legacy Series, and the southern historical Kinsman Redeemer Series (Book 1, ANNABELLE’S RUTH, is a 2015 Grace Award winner, and has recently been translated into Spanish). She has two fantasy-adventure novels, THE LADY OF THE HAVEN and A GATHERING OF EAGLES, in a second edition published by Sign of the Whale BooksTM, an imprint of Olivia Kimbrell PressTM.

Betty’s website 

Purchase Rebecca’s Legacy on Amazon

 

Celebrate National Library Week ~ April 13-19

Library, PublicI recall visiting the public library quite a bit with my dad, and sometimes also with my mom. My dad was an English teacher, the school debate coach, and he also directed the senior play. He loved libraries, did a lot of research in them, and I loved to tag along.

 

This is National Library Week (April 13th – 19th) a time when we recognize the huge contribution libraries have made to the American culture.

Links:

American Library Association (ALA): http://www.ala.org/conferencesevents/celebrationweeks/natlibraryweek

ALA National Library Week Fact Sheet: http://www.ala.org/news/mediapresscenter/factsheets/nationallibraryweek

***Leave a comment about your fav experience(s) in a library. 🙂

 

End of Summer Book Giveaway

GIVEAWAY STARTS FRIDAY, SEPT 7TH AND ENDS SUNDAY, SEPT 16TH

Summer means reading to me! I enjoy lounging at poolside with a gripping murder mystery. Just as good is sitting on my front porch early in the morning, before the temperatures rise, with a riveting suspense novel and a strong cup of tea. To celebrate summer reading I’m giving away an attractive pdf copy of each of the novels in my Sanctuary Point Series, set in the mid-1940s on the south shore of Long Island.

Three winners will be selected based upon the most interesting comment. I will have a two impartial judges pick the winner. Those impartial judges are my husband and my teenage daughter.

This giveaway is also an “event” on Goodreads and is promoted on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking and media outlets.