Currently discounted from $4.99 to .99 cents on ebook retailers.
by Alexi Venice
Published in Mystery & Thrillers
Currently discounted from $4.99 to .99 cents on ebook retailers.
From Amazon Bestselling Author Alexi Venice
Amanda Hawthorne is a powerful District Attorney in San Francisco, defined by her beauty, intellect and her own brand of justice. When a war erupts between the DA’s Office and the Italian mafia—with a Russian billionaire lurking in the background—Amanda must decide how far she is willing to go to protect her lover, Dr. Jen Dawson.
The morning sun kissed Amanda in her Sea Cliff bedroom where she was comfortably tucked into Jen’s tender embrace. Her eyes fluttered open in the golden spray, signaling it was later than she normally rose. Briefly worrying that she had missed an important meeting or a court hearing, Amanda remembered it was the weekend, so she inhaled deeply, relaxing again. She lay her hand over Jen’s, wiggling her petite derriere into Jen’s satin bikinis, and tried to reclaim sleep. The rise and fall of Jen’s chest against Amanda’s back was so intimate, so sensual, so right, that Amanda took refuge in Jen’s calming presence, attempting to push away thoughts of her chaotic career.
Despite her attempt, however, she couldn’t recapture the bliss. Once her analytical mind sprang to life, there was no turning it off. As the District Attorney for San Francisco, she was a tireless advocate, juggling her own caseload of criminal files in addition to overseeing hundreds of cases that the lawyers in her office prosecuted. Her train of thought picked up where it had left off at work, mulling over preparations for the preliminary hearing of Susie Sangiolo-Wallace, who was charged with twice attempting to murder her husband, Dr. Lane Wallace, and for succeeding in killing his lover, Natasha Farber.
Jen moaned, repositioning. Amanda wanted to roll over and whisper softly that she loved Jen, but she didn’t have the courage. Neither had said the “L” word yet, and Amanda didn’t want to scare Jen away by being too intense. She was determined to bide her time—a new challenge for her. This is Jen’s first lesbian relationship, so I have to take it slow, she kept telling herself. Not that she was in the habit of telling lovers she actually loved them. Jen would be the first, but Amanda had known from their first kiss that she had fallen fast and hard for Jen.
She opened her eyes again. Blue sky shown out her sliding door. The cloak of nocturnal fog had burned off over her house, which was perched on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Amanda interpreted the crystalline sky as a good omen for their monumental day.
Outdoors, below her balcony, a strident meow shattered the neighborhood peace. Then another one. And another one. The calls were insistent and angry—tantamount to the roar of a ravenous lion. Zumba was undoubtedly at the sliding door to her kitchen, pacing and twitching his tail in protest at being ignored. Fucking spoiled cat, she thought.
In a moment of weakness, she had taken him in as a stray, but she didn’t love him, and he was pushing his luck for her continued benevolence. She had concluded he was psycho, one minute licking her feet for milk, the next, biting her toes. Every time she opened the fridge, he marched over, demanding his favorite nectar. Once he got it, he treated her like a doormat, washing his face, licking himself, then demanding to go back outside to tomcat around the neighborhood.
Amanda groaned. Between Zumba’s incessant howling and her racing mind, she was doomed.
“What?” Jen asked against Amanda’s neck, her voice groggy.
“I didn’t say anything.”
“You groaned and I can feel your mind working. You’re wound up like a top. What’s wrong?” Jen asked.
“It’s Zumba. Can’t you hear him down there?”
“Yeah. I think it’s funny. Typical male. Hungry. Needs attention.”
“I can’t get back to sleep with him carrying on like that.”
“We should probably get up, anyway. The sun is already shining,” Jen stretched her lithe body against Amanda’s back.
“I know.” Amanda turned into Jen, kissing her cheek. “I just like cuddling with you.”
“Not sure how I feel about that word. I thought we were sleeping,” Jen said, a moan escaping at the feel of Amanda’s lips on her.
“We don’t have to do either.” Amanda gently nibbled Jen’s neck.
“There’s another option?”
“Let me show you.” Amanda parted Jen’s full lips with her tongue, doing deliciously hot swirls in her mouth—giving her a taste of what was to come. She trailed kisses down Jen’s neck, to her breasts, then lower. She slowly moved under the covers, sampling and tasting.
Jen twined her fingers through Amanda’s curly hair, which was tickling her inner thighs. “I want you at the same time.”
“Are you sure?” Amanda asked, just inches away from taking Jen to ecstasy.
“Yes.” Jen removed her bikinis while Amanda swiveled around.
They melded their hot bodies together, curling into a ball, mirror images, but black and blonde. Each woman’s energy was focused on the other, simultaneously pleasing and taking in equal measure. Where words stopped and physical touch was the only form of expression, arcs of electricity flowed through their veins, glowing as they hurtled through the universe as one, warping their sense of time—their conjoined bodies empowered with momentum—wanting to stretch the erotic sensation as long as possible, but working toward inevitable release, until they became a single paroxysm of desire, shattering in a finale of ecstasy that showered them with unparalleled satisfaction. Afterward, they lay entwined and content, dozing off.
A while later, they again woke to Zumba’s howls, his voice hoarse from the sustained effort.
“I have to feed Zumba,” Amanda said, throwing back the covers and reluctantly getting out of bed. “I can’t believe he maintained that screeching for so long.”
“It was great background music for morning sex, though. Don’t you think?”
“I thought the opposite—that sex with you was great despite Zumba’s angry serenade.”
“Do I have time for a run before we leave for your parents’ house?” Jen asked.
“A short one. I told Chloe that we’d be there by mid-afternoon.”
“You don’t call her ‘mom?’”
“Ahh, no—” Amanda said.
“You haven’t met Chloe. She’s a little cold, all business, and not very mom-like.”
“I don’t believe you. She raised you, and you’re not cold.”
“Some people think I am,” Amanda said, her voice low from sleep and sex.
“Who?” Jen asked, laughing. She came to Amanda and nibbled her lower lip while rubbing tiny circles on her ass. She finally broke off and dug through the clean clothes basket, looking for her running tights.
“You know—people,” Amanda insisted.
“People I work with,” Amanda said, throwing her arms up in exasperation.
“You’re the boss. You’re supposed to be a little detached, not their best friend.”
“I know, but sometimes it hurts—especially since Tommy left. I feel like the entire police force is giving me the cold shoulder, except George, of course,” Amanda said, referring to her personal security detail, George Banks.
“It’s because you stole me! I was Tommy’s perfect girlfriend. There’s a code of loyalty among the officers, so they’re going to stick up for him. They’ll get over it as soon as he returns.”
“Perfect for me, that is. Do you know something I don’t about Tommy returning?”
“And, you for me. I haven’t heard a word from him, but he’ll come back—eventually.”
“Yeah, well, I need him back right now. He’s my star witness,” Amanda said.
“I thought I was your star witness.”
“You’re my star, but I’m trying to keep you from being a star witness in the courtroom. Trust me, you don’t want to be the star of a murder trial when the Italian mafia is backing the defendant.”
“How do you know the mafia is backing Susie?” Jen asked, as she pulled on a sports bra and tank.
“Her lover is Nick Nutini, and he’s a known mobster. He served time on the East Coast before moving out here a decade ago.”
“How did he hook up with Susie?”
“His company sells liquor to her bar at Sangiolo Art Gallery.”
“Were they a couple before Lane stepped out on Susie?” Jen asked, Lane being her physician colleague at San Francisco Community Hospital.
“Probably. Tommy told me that Susie and Nick were pretty hot and heavy when he watched them on the dance floor at her gallery, and that was only a few days after Susie killed Natasha.”
“Why would Susie kill Natasha if she already had Nutini? It doesn’t make sense.”
“Remember—she was trying to kill Lane, making it look like he either died of sudden heart failure or that Natasha killed him by poisoning the bourbon he kept at her apartment.”
“Same analysis then. Why would Susie give two hoots about Lane if she already had Nutini?” Jen asked.
“In my experience, jealousy and hate, like their cousins—infatuation and lust—can overtake their victim, convincing her to do what she ordinarily wouldn’t. Remember, Susie thinks of herself as a really hot, avant-garde gallery owner with a mobster boyfriend, thus accountable to no one. She’s a narcissist, so it was a major blow to her ego to see Lane with a much younger woman. His affair unleashed a monster fury that was tied up in preserving her own identity. Classic motives for murder.”
“Can you sell that to a jury?” Jen asked, not hiding her skepticism.
“With the hard evidence we have? I can sell the whole enchilada to a jury.” Amanda watched Jen brush her teeth.
“I need some coffee before I hit the road,” Jen said, still listening.
Amanda threw on a tank and yoga pants, following Jen down the tightly-wound, mission-style staircase, then into the kitchen. While Jen made coffee, Amanda let Zumba in the sliding door and fed him. He was so overcome with relief that he couldn’t eat, purring and twining in and out of her legs while she made breakfast.
“You know, I think Susie would have shot Lane again, finishing him off, if Tommy hadn’t burst through their front door,” Amanda said.
“Poor Lane. She almost succeeded in killing him, too—not once, but twice!” Jen said. “If he hadn’t been at work when his heart went into an arrhythmia from the poisoned bourbon, he surely would have died. And then, the shooting. He easily could’ve died from the blood loss. I swear, the man has nine lives, especially if you consider his time served in Iraq.”
“And my personal crush saved his life in the ER,” Amanda said, kissing Jen on the cheek.
“Crush, huh? I like the sound of that. I just did what any doctor would do.”
“I wish we had video of the look on Susie’s face when she met up with Lane in the ER, after he survived his overdose of digoxin and fentanyl,” Amanda said.
“I could feel the tension tighten like a noose when Susie entered Lane’s room,” Jen said. “He looked more terrified than when he had collapsed in heart failure.” She poured them each a cup of coffee.
“With good reason. She’s an evil force of nature, and now that she’s hooked up with Nutini, she’s got muscle and money. He even hired her defense attorney,” Amanda said.
“I’m not surprised. Is he any good?” Jen asked, her blue eyes shining over the rim of her cup.
“Vincent Black? Yeah, he’s good. One of the best, in fact. Fortunately, Jeremy has tried a few cases against him and won. He’ll second-chair this trial with me.”
“Right. I met Jeremy at Zero Zero with you. What does the second chair do?”
“We’ll split the direct and cross examinations of all the witnesses. I’ll probably do the opening statement and Jeremy will do the closing argument.”
“Do you two work well together?”
“I’m sure you’ll win. When is the trial?” Jen asked.
“In a couple of months. It will be a two-week trial, but I don’t know what day you’ll testify. As we get closer, I’ll give you a few dates, so you can block them on your calendar.”
“Okay, babe. I have to get moving, so I can finish this run before we have to leave.”
“George’s partner, Peter, is going with you,” Amanda stated, her lips pursing in seriousness.
“What? Peter? Why?” Jen asked, surprised.
“Standard security. Not only are you my lover, which makes you a target, but you’re also a key witness, which makes you a prime target. I don’t want to take any chances with Nutini’s wise guys trying something.”
Amanda held her finger to Jen’s lips, cutting her off. “Peter is already here, waiting for you outside. I texted him as soon as you said you wanted to go for a run. I’m sure he can keep up with you. He’s very fit.”
“That’s not the point. I like to use the time to be alone and think. I don’t want to chit chat. I have to clear my mind,” Jen said, a hint of a whine creeping into her voice.
“I’m sure he feels the same way. Get used to it, Jen. This situation we’re in—it’s serious business.” Amanda rested her palms on Jen’s shoulders, looking up into her intense blue eyes.
Jen was flattered by Amanda’s protective instincts, but a bodyguard? “You’re very convincing when you look at me like that.”
“I hope so. You mean a lot to me,” Amanda said, tracing Jen’s jawline with her finger, then smoothing a blonde strand behind her ear.
Jen leaned down and kissed Amanda. It was a long kiss, reminiscent of the love they had just made.
When they broke apart, Amanda resisted the urge to tell Jen that she loved her, instead saying, “Enjoy your run. See you in a while.”
Jen smiled, lingered a second, tiptoed toward saying it herself, but chickened out and walked to the front door. She saw Peter stretching in the front lawn, so there was no ducking him. She opened the door. “Good morning.”
“Beautiful morning for a run. How far are we going?” Peter asked.
As they began Jen’s route down Lincoln Boulevard into the Presidio, she found herself starting to feel sick, so darted into the woods and threw up her coffee. How embarrassing—in front of Peter! What would he think? She didn’t know what was wrong with her. Was the half & half she poured into her coffee bad? She’d have to check the label when she returned home. Having emptied the contents of her stomach, however, she felt much better. Puke and rally. Ready to run.
“Sorry,” she said to Peter, wiping her mouth on her sleeve and rejoining him on the street. “That was a first. I think I got some bad dairy in my coffee.”
“Wanna turn back?” he asked.
“No way. I actually feel better. Let’s do this.”
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Amazon Bestselling Author, Alexi Venice, practiced law for 28 years until the novels within her had to be indulged their freedom. She continues to practice law at a large healthcare system while pursuing her writing career from dusk till dawn.