by Cindy Spencer Pape
Roaring 20s Book One
Nettie Price supports her abusive father because of a deathbed promise to her mother. One of the highlights of her day is when Eli Lawson, lawyer and volunteer firefighter, comes into her bookshop for his morning papers.
After one particularly brutal beating, Eli finds Nettie and takes her to his home to recover. As a string of fires begins to heat up the town, things also heat up between Eli and Nettie. Between arson and their own insecurities, though, love might not be enough to save their relationship—or their lives.
Genre: Historical Romantic SuspensePurchase link(s): Amazon
Content/Theme(s): 1920s, Vintage, Fireman, Mystery, Men in Uniform
Release Date: February 16, 2016
Publisher: Rook and Rose Publications
Excerpt & More
He whistled on his way to the shop, as usual. He couldn’t have said what it was about Nettie Price that made him smile, but every day she did. She wasn’t anything like the girlfriends he’d had, whether in college or since. He’d always been drawn to tall, elegant blondes, the more modern the better. Bobs, cigarette holders and rolled-down stockings were the norm in his circles. Nettie still wore her straight dark hair in a thick knot at the nape of her neck—and the simple style suited her softly pretty features. No crimson lipstick or kohl eyeliner adorned her face, her skirts fell nearly to her ankles and she wore her fingernails short and clean. She should have been an unmemorable mouse—if not for her quick smile and quicker mind.
At every other shop in town, the clerks looked at Eli as if he were nothing more than his wallet or his position on the city council, always trying to sell him something more, something he didn’t need, or hoping to influence his opinion on this or that. Nettie saw the man beneath, and spoke to him like a person, and damn if every book she suggested wasn’t a good one. Best of all, he’d watched her with other customers. She was thoughtful to everyone who entered the shop, rich or poor. She was even polite to the ones who spoke rudely about her drunken father.
It was on that thought that Eli entered the shop so he’d momentarily lost his cheerful mood. It disintegrated completely when he got a look at Nettie’s face. Her left cheek was a mass of bruising, the eye swollen nearly shut.
And still she smiled. “I wondered where you were today. I’ve saved you a Washington Post.” Her bright tone never wavered.
Eli lost all pretense of civility and stalked to the counter. “Your father?” He pitched his voice low, so it wouldn’t carry through the open door.
“I tripped.” She winced as she tried to smile again. “Fell down a couple of stairs into a wall.” Her fingers clenched on the counter, wrinkling his copy of the local paper.
Not that he gave a damn about that. He laid his hand over his. “You’re not a very good liar, Miss Nettie. Why’d he hit you this time?”
She shrugged. “I forgot to pick up his medicine on my way home last night.”
“Medicine, my Aunt Gertrude. You mean his booze.” Everyone knew Murphy the pharmacist sold bootleg liquor out of his shop, and gave a cut of the profit to Doc Rollins, the disreputable quack who prescribed it for a wide variety of ills.
Nettie pulled her hand away. “It doesn’t matter, Mr. Lawson. I won’t forget it again.”
“Why do you stay with him? You’re of age. You have a good job here. There are several boarding houses in town that would be happy to have you, especially with a reference from the Websters.” Hell, he’d get her a letter of reference from the city council if it got her to leave her home.
“I can’t do that, sir. My father needs me.” She moved to the cash register and rang in the price of the two papers. “But thank you for your concern.”
“At least talk to someone.” He handed her a dollar bill and wished he could tell her to keep the change, but he knew her pride wouldn’t allow it. “Maybe one of the ministers could talk to him…”
“Not necessary.” She counted out his change and slid it across the counter, avoiding contact with his hand. “It’s kind of you to worry, but it’s better to leave things alone. Have a nice afternoon, Mr. Lawson.” She didn’t even smile as she dismissed him.
Eli took the long way back to his office, circling the three-block radius that made up downtown Carstairs. Near the end of his walk, he stood on Shoreline Drive and stared out at Lake Michigan, the water calm and sparkling in the sun. He closed his eyes and drew in a deep breath. He loved his town when it was full of summer vacationers, but he loved it most on days like this, when he could stare out at the lake without seeing another living soul. After a few minutes, his fury had died down to embers, and he turned the corner onto Second Street, where his home and office stood, half a block past the shops of downtown.
“Damn and blast it.” Just when he’d settled his temper, there stood Al Price, leaning against the wall of the drug store, taking a swig from a brown glass bottle, a couple of his cronies on either side of him. Eli told himself to look away and keep walking. Nettie was an adult, and there wasn’t anything the law could do since she willingly stayed at home and supported the man.
Unfortunately, Eli’s body had apparently stopped listening to his brain. He stalked up to Price and glared down at the older man. Both of the other bums scurried away—Eli wasn’t a small man and he’d broken his nose twice. He knew he could be a scary-looking bastard, even in his Brooks Brothers suit. “Price, a word?”
“What do you want, shyster?” Price took another swig. “All legal. Got a per-scription and everything.”
Eli almost stepped back at the foul stench of the other man’s breath. He crossed his arms over his chest and held his ground. “I don’t care if you pickle your liver, and I’m not a G-man. I just want to give you a friendly little warning.”
“Oh yeah? Warning about what?”
“You touch your daughter again, and I’ll find you. She gets a black eye, you get two. Hit her with a fist, I hit you with mine. Got it?” Eli leaned closer, letting all the fury he felt show in his face. “It’s over.”
Price laughed. “You’re sweet on my girl. Ain’t that something, Mr. High-and-Mighty city councilman? Well let me tell you something.” He poked Eli in the chest. “You better stick to sniffing around your own kind. I see you anywhere near my Nettie, you’ll be meeting the business end of my shotgun.”
“I doubt you can see straight, let alone shoot straight.” What idiot had sold this man a shotgun? Or ammunition for that matter? He wasn’t right in the head enough to own a gun. But that was life in America. Only criminals could get liquor, but anybody could buy all the bullets they wanted. It took all Eli’s restraint to step back instead of landing a right hook on the man’s ugly face. “You remember that your daughter has friends in this town. More than you do. Keep your fists to yourself.”
He strode away, ignoring Price sputtering behind him.
Purchase link(s): Amazon
Other titles by Cindy Spencer Pape:
Box Set 1
Box Set 2
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Cindy Spencer Pape Goodreads author page
Cindy Spencer Pape Amazon author page
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Be on the lookout for Cindy Spencer Pape's future release(s): Beltane Lion (re-release) coming March 2016, Curses (re-release) coming April 2016, and Devil of Bourbon Street (re-release) coming April 2016
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