You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
Today's Wild Card author is:
and the book:
StoneHouse Ink; 1st edition (November 28, 2012)
***Special thanks to Gina Conroy for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Writer...Interrupted, Gina encourages busy writers on their road to publication. A self proclaimed social media enthusiast, Gina assures her family an intervention for her near daily overdose of Twitter (@GinaConroy) and Facebook (Author Gina Conroy) is not necessary and that her social media habit is under control since using Hootsuite. Readers are encouraged to contact her and test this alleged social media addiction.
Visit the author's website.
SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:
Archaeology Professor Mari Duggins is adjusting to life as a single mom and trying to balance a television career, but gets caught between the pull of her former flame, a field archaeologist, and her ex-husband who is wanted by the FBI on an antiquities crime. Then her colleague is murdered, and she gets in over her head as she searches for truth in a desert of lies. Mari Duggins’ life caves in as she tries to excavate the truth, but realizes only God can dig her out of the hole she’s created. Will Mari sort through her muddled feelings and put her trust in someone else before her world caves in? Or will the truth bury her alive?
List Price: $2.99
File Size: 558 KB
Publisher: StoneHouse Ink; 1st edition (November 28, 2012)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
X-Ray: Not Enabled
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Monday, 7:42 a.m.
Texas, Lyndon University Basement
When I stepped out of my dressing room into the dim hallway, I should have heard death’s gentle taunting. I should have seen it hovering in the glow of the flickering lights. I should have felt it drawing me closer to the abyss. Instead, I rushed through the hall toward the campus television studio, my heels clicking on the tile like a ticking time bomb.
I dug in my red Coach bag, found my compact mirror, and held it on top of my latte while I dabbed my shiny forehead. It would have to do. I couldn’t be late for the biggest show of my career.
The intoxicating aroma of fat-laden pastries wafted my way, tantalizing my taste buds. Mental note: Find the Einstein who put the breakfast buffet between my dressing room and the green room and have him lobotomized. At thirty-two, I had a hard enough time maintaining my weight to please that mother-in-law of a camera. An impossible feat for anyone over a size two, I know. But my stubborn Sicilian heritage kept me in denial.
I dropped the mirror in my leather bag and slowed enough to take a clumsy sip of nonfat, sugar-free caramel latte, then gulped the creamy liquid, trying to appease my appetite.
It didn’t work.
The allure of the forbidden fat grams assaulted my senses, my stomach growling with Eden temptation. I glanced at my watch. 7:43. My heart lurched, then sprinted along with the rest of me. Seventeen minutes to D-Day.
Pulling the note cards from the inside pocket of my oversized tote bag, I got blindsided by the slender intern as she flitted from the ladies’ room opposite the buffet table. I gasped as my latte erupted through the spout, missing my crimson top, and landing on the jacket of the black power suit I bought especially for this show. I dropped the cards in my bag and fumbled for the Tide stick.
“I’m so sorry, Mrs. Duggins.” The intern’s sapphire eyes pooled with regret, or was that an undermining glint in her eyes? I shook off paranoia and told myself nothing was going to ruin the show today.
The intern gnawed on her fingernail, watching me rub at the stain. Miracle of miracles, it vanished. Now if only my luck held until the end of the show.
“No harm done.” I mimicked the tone I used on my sensitive child and held up the stain eraser in a tube. “I could have used this when my kids were little. Spit up and designer suits really clash.”
A timid smile emerged from her full lips, then retreated.
“You haven’t worked here long. What’s your name?”
“Cherilyn St. Jean.” Avoiding my eyes, she tucked her silky blonde hair behind her right ear, sending an exotic floral scent my way. The intern’s exquisite beauty reminded me of an orchid in full bloom. Unfortunately, flowers sent me into a sneezing frenzy. Didn’t she know about our fragrance-free policy?
Before I could grab a tissue from my bag, a sneeze spewed. Thankfully, Cherilyn stepped back or she’d be wearing Eau de Mucous. My nasal membranes swelled, the airways shrinking. No, no, no. Widening my eyes, I suppressed the tears threatening my mascara.
Cherilyn stared at me as if I had grown a third nostril. “Um … Tyler needs to do an audio check.”
I found a tissue and caught the next three blasts. “Thanks, I’m headed there now.” Rubbing my nose, I watched Lyndon University’s Next Top Model sashay through the hall, head raised as she skirted the buffet table with ease and vanished into the green room. A grumble betrayed me, oblivious to the threat to my hips.
But I couldn’t. Beyond the green room, outside the studio door, Professor Peter Kipling hounded the Archaeology Department’s alpha male. Department head Theron Henderson, my first guest.
Tension weighed down my shoulders. What was Peter doing here? Didn’t he have an eight o’clock class?
After a quick glance around, I swiped a donut hole from the buffet and popped it in my mouth. I was about to break the streusel top off a blueberry muffin when Cherilyn emerged from the green room. The dull pang in my chest deepened, most likely the hydrogenated fat clogging my arteries. I waited five seconds then followed her toward the studio.
“Stay away from her.” The empty hallway echoed Peter’s bark.
Henderson, who had thirty pounds and six inches on Peter, cocked his head to the right and chuckled. He crossed his arms over his black Versace jacket, revealing a gold nameplate bracelet. When did Henderson start wearing jewelry?
Peter pressed in, fists balled at his side. The stress in my shoulders spread and ballooned in my chest. I needed my first guest in one piece. There was no way I’d lead with Fletcher.
Approaching my colleagues, I gulped the latte, savoring the sweet, liquid calm that usually worked better than Zoloft. Only today I wished I hadn’t given up that baby blue pill.
Cherilyn’s posture drooped as she passed Henderson, and I couldn’t help but notice the way his blue eyes glared at her. It wasn’t his usual you’d-go-well-with-a-bottle-of-Cabernet leer that fell on the coeds at LU. Instead, he turned up his nose and discarded her like rancid ground beef.
I checked my watch. 7:49.
Stay out of it, Mari. This isn’t your fight.
With trembling hands, I removed my note cards.
“Your tenure can always be revoked.” Peter’s terse words redirected Henderson’s focus.
“On what grounds? Professional incompetence? Neglect of duty?” Henderson peered down his Roman nose and stroked his trimmed salt-and-pepper beard.
“How about lack of professional integrity? Or sexual harassment.”
“That’s a risky move, Peter. Don’t you remember I’ve already captured your queen?” A calculating sneer betrayed Henderson’s benevolent tone, his look far more menacing than any scowls my sixteen-year-old brother had in his arsenal.
Peter yanked off his glasses, the vein in his neck throbbing. He tried to jab a wiry finger at Henderson’s chest, but Henderson snatched it, his eyes narrowing. Peter stepped closer; left arm raised and fist threatening. “I’ll. Make. You. Pay. For. What. You. Did.”
Breath caught in my throat. Fumbling to unzip the outside pocket on my Coach bag, I inched toward the studio door. My hand found my iPhone. The storm that had been building between the two of them for years threatened to peak. Though Peter surged out of control, I predicted Henderson, even with his health issues, could cause more destruction.
Henderson let go of Peter’s finger, shook his head, and stepped away.
I sighed, my inner turbulence calming as I reached the studio door. But before the air stilled, something thudded behind me. I whirled around. Peter’s forearm pressed against Henderson’s massive torso, shoving him into the wall.
Caught in a vice of uncertainty, I felt every muscle in my body tense. I punched in the number for security.
Henderson whispered to Peter, flicked him off like a dead fly, and disappeared into the green room. I closed my mouth, staring at Peter who stomped past as ruffled as his brown suit.
A reprieve and a close call.
Part of me wanted to dismiss it as another round in the continuing saga of the Archaeology Department at Lyndon University. Another part of me knew this time Peter had overstepped, and I couldn’t brush aside the premonition that someone was going to get hurt.
Smoothing my hair, I slapped on a smile and entered the set.