Deadly Escape: A Paranormal Women's Fiction Novel
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How many times can a person escape death?
Shelby Nichols may be one lucky gal, but this time, her luck is about to run out.
Working for a mob-boss has danger written all over it, but when an escaped convict with a lust for revenge goes after him, it's up to Shelby and her mind-reading skills to keep Uncle Joey alive.
Not only that, but a federal agent from her past has an agenda with her name on it, and he won't take no for an answer.
What's a mind-reading soccer mom to do? If you're Shelby Nichols, you jump in with your mind wide open and hope for the best.
USA TODAY and Wall Street Journal Bestselling author Colleen Helme offers a clever mix of mystery, laugh-out-loud humor, and page-turning adventure in the highly acclaimed Shelby Nichols Adventure Series.
High octane mystery adventure at its finest! ~G.P. Amazon Reviewer
Colleen Helme weaves another can't-put-down mystery adventure that leaves you begging for the next! ~A.N. Amazon Reviewer
Absolutely Great! I stop reading a lot of series because they wind down. These books keep getting better and better. This mystery adventure is five stars all the way! ~Amazon Reviewer
Every Shelby Nichols Adventure is better than the last! The characters are dynamic and the stories are full of twists and turns. Can't wait for the next one! ~Amazon Reviewer
If you ever find a dull moment in life, pick up Colleen Helme's Shelby Nichols Series! You will have your mind blown! I could not put any of the books down! ~Amazon Reviewer
Perfect for fans of Jana DeLeon, Elizabeth Hunter, Eve Langlais, Shannon Meyer, and Darynda Jones.
Release date: June 29, 2018
Publisher: Manetto Books
Print pages: 305
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Deadly Escape: A Paranormal Women's Fiction Novel
Waiting in a conference room for a mob-boss and his minions always sends jitters through my stomach.
Uncle Joey’s newest business partners hadn’t arrived yet, and he was busy with an important phone call in his office, which left me waiting alone with time to kill.
To help settle my nerves, I pushed away from the table and stood, stretching my arms over my head. Then I bent over and touched my toes, not too worried about my cute denim skirt hiking up, since no one was around to see it. I’d paired the skirt with an adorable, white, V-neck shirt so I could wear my newest pair of denim wedge sandals that totally matched.
Bending over, I admired them for a second, then closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I let it out and straightened. Helping Uncle Joey always stressed me out, and doing something like a simple stretch usually helped. Feeling better, I opened my eyes and nearly jumped out of my skin.
A handsome man in a dark suit stood in the doorway with his eyebrows raised, and his lips quirked into a half-smile. He was thinking that he’d enjoyed the view and was glad he’d come in a little early. He also noticed that my face had turned crimson with embarrassment, and he held back a chuckle. Who was I?
“Uh…hi there,” I said. “I’m Shelby Nichols…Uncle Joey’s assistant.”
He caught the Uncle Joey part, and I could have kicked myself. Why couldn’t I have said “Mr. Manetto’s assistant” like I’d planned?
“Oh…right,” he said, coming around the table and offering his hand. “It’s nice to meet you Ms. Nichols. I’m Morgan Aldous.” He shook my hand and smiled. “The others should be here soon. Do you mind if I sit?”
“Oh…no…not at all. Uncle Joey’s on an important phone call in his office, but he’ll be here soon.”
“Good.” Morgan sent an easy smile my way and then made his way back around the table to take the seat across from me, so he’d have something nice to look at.
I let out an embarrassed chuckle, then quickly schooled my expression into a semblance of solemnity. Reading people’s minds tended to get me into trouble, mostly because it was hard not to react to their thoughts, especially when they were about me. At least he’d been thinking something nice.
Still, I wouldn’t even be in this office helping Uncle Joey without my mind-reading skills. A run-in with a bank robber a little over a year ago had left me with this freaky ability, and I still had a lot to learn. But I should be better at it by now.
While I continued to watch him, Morgan took an ultra-slim computer out of his briefcase and set it up on the table. He’d noticed my watchful stare and found it hard not to smile. He liked that I found him attractive and wondered if I was single. Then he did a mental head-slap, thinking that if I was Manetto’s niece, I was way off-limits, and he needed to get his head back in the game.
This time, I couldn’t help the smile that curled my lips. Call me vain, but that was about the nicest thing I’d heard all day. It put me in a good mood.
Uncle Joey came into the room, and Morgan stood to greet him with a warm handshake. Right after that, two more men joined us and introductions were made. Once the formalities were over, Uncle Joey took his place at the head of the table, and he called the meeting to order.
As they discussed the business, I listened closely to their thoughts. Finding out if any of Uncle Joey’s business partners had ulterior motives was one of the reasons I worked for Joey “The Knife” Manetto. I’d been forced to tell him my mind-reading secret to keep him from killing me and my family, even going so far as to call him my uncle when he wasn’t. Now…it was like he’d become my real uncle.
In fact, in the last little while, things had taken a drastic turn, and Uncle Joey had basically adopted me and my family. It tied my stomach in knots to think about how much influence he had over us. Only…there was something about him that I trusted, and that almost worried me more.
Lately, I’d decided that he wasn’t the typical garden-variety mob-boss. I mean…yeah…he threatened people, and maybe there was other stuff he did that I didn’t know about, but he also had a soft side to him, so maybe he wasn’t as bad as most. That was something his hit-man, Ramos, had told me a while back, so I had to believe it was true.
Or maybe I was just rationalizing this whole thing so I didn’t feel so guilty about working for a mob-boss. Either way, he was part of my life now and, since there was no going back, I had to make the best of it.
I pulled my attention back to the meeting, picking up that Morgan wasn’t sure getting involved with a mob-boss was a good idea, but his associates had told him the benefits were worth it, and he hoped he didn’t live to regret it.
At least he was honest about it. The other two were willing to accept the terms of the arrangement, and I couldn’t pick up anything sinister behind those thoughts. As the meeting wrapped up, I did pick up that one of them actually looked up to Uncle Joey and his business acumen, so that was a plus.
The men stood to go, and we said our goodbyes.
Uncle Joey turned to me with raised brows, so I told him everything I’d picked up, and he nodded with satisfaction. “They actually look up to me?” He smiled, thinking that wasn’t always the case. “I’m glad to hear that. I thought these guys were a good match for my new business venture, but I’m glad you were here to make sure.”
“No problem,” I said, sending him a pleased smile. There was something nice about being so important and part of something bigger than me. It was like belonging to an exclusive team that won all the time because I was a part of it. In fact, wasn’t I the star player? Is that why I kept coming back? Because of that heady feeling of importance and pride? What did that say about me? Was it my pride that would lead me down the slippery slope to hell? Or prison? Or get me killed? Hmm…not liking the direction of my thoughts, I asked Uncle Joey a personal question.
“So how’s Miguel?” Uncle Joey’s son had recently been offered the lead in the hit Broadway musical, Aladdin. Now he was headed to New York, and his life, along with Uncle Joey’s, was about to change.
“He’s doing well. He left for New York last week, and he’s staying at my hotel there.”
“Why didn’t you go with him?”
He sighed. “Carlotta insisted on going, so Jackie and I decided to wait until she came back before we went.”
Carlotta was Uncle Joey’s ex-lover and Miguel’s mother. She’d tried to fleece him out of five million dollars, so they didn’t like each other much, but Uncle Joey did his best because of Miguel. He was thinking that Jackie, his wife and secretary, wasn’t too happy that Carlotta got to meet the New York Manettos before she did.
“Oh yeah, I bet that was hard for her,” I said, answering his thoughts as if he’d spoken them aloud. “So when are you and Jackie going?”
“Sometime this week, and we’ll stay through the weekend. I’ve made arrangements with Frank for Miguel to stay in the hotel until we find an apartment for him. So that’s one of the things we’ll be doing while we’re there.”
He was thinking that it wouldn’t bother him if Miguel stayed at the hotel for as long as he needed, but deep down, Uncle Joey knew Miguel would probably want his own place. It was hard to believe that Miguel was already heading off on his own before he’d officially graduated from high school. Who would have thought that he’d find out he had a son and, a little over a year later, he’d be sending him off to New York?
He glanced at me. “He’ll be back for graduation in a couple of weeks. After that, he’ll be pretty busy with the show, so we’ll have to go to New York if we want to see him. But it’s all good.”
“That’s a big change for all of you. I know I can’t wait to be there for his opening night performance. It’s all so exciting.”
“Yes it is. Why don’t I make arrangements for your whole family to stay in the hotel while I’m there this week?”
“Oh…wow, that’s nice of you.” I frowned, worried about my kids. I’d been to New York a few weeks ago with Miguel for his audition, and had met all of Uncle Joey’s family. He called them the New York Manettos. Since Miguel thought we were cousins, I’d had to go along with the charade with a made-up story that Uncle Joey’s sister was my mother.
Since his sister, Maggie, was a nun, and Uncle Joey thought she was living in San Francisco, he didn’t think the lie would be a problem. But when she’d showed up, I’d nearly had a heart attack. Now she was playing along with the whole thing, but if I took my kids, what was I supposed to tell them?
“But…I still haven’t figured out how that’s going to work with my kids.”
“Hmm. You’re right. We’ll have to think about that, but I’m sure we can figure something out. Which reminds me…” He caught my gaze and smiled. “Now that Miguel isn’t going to be here, I have a summer job opening up, and I thought that Josh would be interested.”
“What?” My voice rose, and my eyes widened.
“Yeah. Miguel was going to work for me here in the office as a runner, delivering important paperwork and messages between me and my clients, along with picking up the mail and doing some of the other errands. It’s not too hard, but it’s a great way to make a little money for college. Now that he can’t do it, I thought of Josh.”
His brows rose expectantly while he waited for my answer, and I had a hard time catching my breath. “Oh wow. That’s really nice of you to think of him, but he’s only fifteen, and he doesn’t have his driver’s license.”
“Is that right? For some reason, I thought he was older.”
“Uh…nope. So, I’m afraid it won’t work.”
“Hmm. You’re right. But at fifteen, there might be something else he can do.” He thought of other jobs for Josh, and a tiny hope that he wouldn’t come up with anything filled my heart. Still, did he really think I’d be okay sending my boy to work for him? This was my worst nightmare. It meant that I’d have to tell Uncle Joey my kids were off limits, and I didn’t know if that would change things between us, and I really didn’t want to find out.
“Oh, I’ve got it,” he said snapping his fingers. “This is perfect. Last year Miguel was a lifeguard at the country club. Josh could take his place. He might have to take a training course and pass the test, but I doubt that he’d have a problem. I think it’s only part-time, about two or three days a week, but it’s good money. I think they pay about fifteen dollars an hour, and it’s probably something he would enjoy. At least Miguel certainly did. What do you think?”
Since that was a lot better than his first offer, I swallowed my trepidation and nodded. “Uh…yeah, he did get his lifesaving merit badge in scouts, so maybe that would work. But first, I need to find out what Josh has planned for this summer. I mean, he might have something lined up that I don’t know about.”
Uncle Joey’s brows rose. How could that be? As their mother, I should know just about everything my kids were doing, especially since I could read their minds.
“Oh…I just mean that I think he has a soccer camp and a few other camps he’s going to this summer. You know…stuff like that.”
“Right,” Uncle Joey nodded his head. “Well that’s something to consider, but I’m sure the hours are flexible with all the activities kids have going on these days. But you’ll have to let me know right away. I think those lifeguard jobs go pretty fast, and I’d hate to see him miss out.”
“Sure. I’ll find out and let you know later today.”
“Good. That’s all I have for you today, but I’d like you to come back tomorrow morning around ten. Something’s come up with Jimmy Falzone. Do you remember him?”
“The name sounds familiar, but I can’t place him.”
“He’s the guy who took over Johnny’s restaurant after Johnny was murdered.”
“Oh yeah…now I remember.” Johnny’s murder was one of the first cases I’d been involved in after I’d joined Uncle Joey’s organization. I’d had a hand in catching the killer, but it had nearly gotten me killed in the process.
“He hasn’t been as forthcoming as I’d like, so I need to have a chat with him, and if you’re here I’ll get to the bottom of it without all the…hassle.”
He’d been thinking, “threats,” but I let it go and nodded my agreement. “Sure. I can come back tomorrow.”
“Good.” Uncle Joey stood, so I stood as well and followed him to the door. “See you then, and don’t forget to call me about that lifeguard job.” He glanced at Jackie. “I’ll be in my office.”
Jackie nodded at him and smiled at me. “Was he talking about the lifeguard job at the country club for Josh?”
“That’s a great fit for a young man. Miguel sure enjoyed it. He didn’t seem to mind sitting by a pool all day and getting paid for it.”
“Yeah, there is that. I’ll have to see if Josh is interested, but I guess it’s kind of a no-brainer, right?”
She chuckled. “Yeah. Hard to pass up a job like that.”
“Right. Well, I’ll be back tomorrow, so I’ll see you then.” I headed to the elevators with resignation. Once more, Uncle Joey had me over a barrel. Being a lifeguard at a swanky country club sounded like a great summer job, and since Josh wouldn’t be working for Uncle Joey, it would probably be okay. I hoped. I pushed the call button and heaved a sigh.
I glanced back through the doors into the office, unhappy that I hadn’t run into Ramos. I’d hoped to see him while I was here, and disappointment washed over me. The last time we’d spoken, he’d been thinking about finally making contact with his younger brother, Javier, whom he hadn’t spoken to for years.
In fact, it wasn’t that long ago that Ramos had found out that Javier hadn’t died the night Ramos had left home all those years ago. With me as his liaison, he’d anonymously given Javier some money for his schooling, but now, he was finally ready to let Javier into his life, and he’d asked me to help him.
So far, Ramos hadn’t mentioned it to me, and I wondered if he’d changed his mind. The elevator doors swooshed open and there he stood, wearing his black leather motorcycle jacket and looking as sexy and handsome as always.
My breath caught, and my heart tried to jump out of my chest.
“Hey Babe. You leaving?”
“Uh…yeah. I just got through helping Uncle Joey.”
“Get in, and I’ll walk you to your car.” His velvet voice raised an alarm in my mind, like he’d just invited me into his bedroom so he could have his way with me.
“Okay.” I blinked my eyes and shoved those wanton thoughts away. It was an elevator, for Pete’s sake, and there was nothing wrong with getting in it with him.
He was thinking that I looked a little flushed, but he liked the heightened color in my cheeks and the way I licked my lips when I glanced at him. If he didn’t know better, he’d think I was tempted to throw caution to the wind and kiss him long and hard. He certainly wouldn’t try to stop me. In fact…
“Will you stop that?” I knew he was just teasing me, but I could only take so much. “Geeze.”
He chuckled. “Sorry.”
“No you’re not.”
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