Book Title: Crazed Reckoning, a Nick Spinelli Mystery
Author: Valerie J. Clarizio
Author: Valerie J. Clarizio
Publisher: Melange Books, LLC
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Length: 120 pages
Release Date: March 5, 2015
After experiencing a murderous Christmas and Valentine's Day with love interest Shannon O'Hara, Detective Nick Spinelli assumed Saint Patrick's Day couldn't be any worse.He was wrong.
While out on a geocaching adventure in Door County, Shannon and her friend Anna find more than a clue in the cache box. When Shannon disappears, Spinelli is sent racing to find her. Amidst the chaos of an unruly Irish celebration, and a decades-old Irish family feud, he must rescue her from the hands of a madman.
Valerie is a writer of romantic suspense, contemporary romance, and women’s fiction novels. She lives in beautiful Door County Wisconsin with her husband and two very spoiled cats. She loves to read, write, and spend time at her cabin in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She’s lived her life surrounded by men, three brothers, a husband, and a male Siamese cat who required his own instruction manual. Keeping up with all the men in her life has turned her into a successful hunter and fisherwoman.
She is a member of Romance Writers of America and the Wisconsin Romance Writers of America. Additionally, she was a finalist in the 2011 Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, Novellas Need Love, Too! Contest.
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EXCERPTS AND TEASERS (PLEASE CHOOSE 1 OF EACH)
The ladies chatted as they walked. Anna, as always, cut to the chase. “So how’s it been going with that handsome Detective Spinelli of yours lately?”
Shannon glanced at her watch and then shot a smile over her shoulder. “Well, you took a bit longer than I expected,” she teased.
Anna returned her smile. “I held out as long as I could. You know I’m living vicariously through you, so don’t keep this old lady waiting here.”
Shannon stopped and waited for Anna to catch up. “Actually, he’s been kind of quiet and distant since the whole Valentine’s Day episode. I can’t seem to make him realize it wasn’t his fault. Bethany had issues.” Just saying Bethany’s name sent a bone-chilling disturbance deep into her core.
Though the temperature still hovered around forty degrees, Anna swiped her gloved hand over her moist brow. “The poor guy. I’m not sure what to say. I can’t imagine how it must feel to have a psycho ex-girlfriend kill four of his present girlfriend’s ex-lovers, attempt to kill him and then kill herself. And on Valentine’s Day of all days. The day I was sure he would pop the big question to you. What should have been one of the biggest and best days of his life turned out to be the worst.”
“There’s not a day goes by I don’t think of that awful day. And he won’t talk about it. The second I bring up the topic, he clams up.” Shannon sighed. “And honestly, I really thought he would propose as well.”
“With all that’s gone on in the past three months, I’m surprised he let you out of his sight to come along on our girls’ weekend.”
“I know. I could tell by the look in his eyes when I told him what our plans for this weekend, he wasn’t pleased. He asked me to reconsider, but I couldn’t. I really just needed to get away from the city and everything that has gone on lately. At first he insisted upon coming along, but Captain Jackson assigned some hot case to him, Walker and Marsh. So he couldn’t get away.”
Shannon’s eyes watered. Over the past three months, she’d found herself the happiest she’d ever been, the saddest, and the most frightened. She’d met Spinelli, and they’d gotten off to a rocky start. But she fell in love with him and couldn’t be any happier, in regard to their relationship. During that same time frame, two of her co-workers had been murdered; she had been kidnapped and was next on the murder’s list. If Spinelli hadn’t stepped in and saved the day, she would have been killed. The whole rescue was like something right out of a fairy tale with a knight in shining armor coming to the rescue of an endangered maiden. Truth be told, he was actually dressed in a Santa suit rather than armor. But that didn’t matter to her, he was her knight no matter what he wore. And then of course, there was the issue with Spinelli’s ex-girlfriend who sought a murderous revenge against the both of them. Again, Nick stepped in and saved the day. My hero.
Anna stepped forward and hugged Shannon. “I’m so sorry all this crap happened to you. You so didn’t deserve any of this, but you can’t change what’s already happened. The only thing you can do is figure out how to deal with it and move forward.”
Shannon’s cell phone vibrated. She pulled it from her zippered pocket and glanced at the display. She couldn’t help but smile as she read the text from Spinelli.
Anna giggled. “What is that, number ten already?”
Shannon looked up and caught Anna’s amused gaze. “Eight, but who’s counting? Every hour on the hour.” Though he went a bit overboard with the number of texts, Shannon--and the butterflies in her stomach--welcomed each and every one. His overprotectiveness warmed her heart. Like a schoolgirl, she desperately missed him already; they hadn’t even been apart a full day.
Shannon shot off a quick response before she slipped her phone back into her pocket.
The ladies continued down the trail, Shannon leading the way. The wind picked up as they crossed over from the hardwoods to the cedars. The damp mossy smell let her know they neared the lake.
“What?” Shannon asked as she looked over her shoulder.
Anna shrugged. “I didn’t say anything.”
“You didn’t say my name?”
Anna pulled a frown. “No.”
“Oh, hmm.” Shannon would have sworn she’d hear someone say her name. She tried to shrug it off, tell herself it was just the wind, but the unease spiraling in the pit of her stomach forced her senses into ‘full alert’ mode.
Another rustling noise sounded close behind them. Shannon sprang to her feet and looked in its direction. “What caused that? It was the same noise I heard before, when we were by the water.”
Anna shifted on the bench. “I don’t know. I’m sure it was nothing,” Anna replied as she slowly lifted herself from the bench. “We’d better get a move on. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover today.”
As they proceeded down the trail toward the parking lot, Shannon glanced periodically over her shoulder.
“What’s the matter? What do you keep looking for?” Anna asked.
Shannon hesitated before answering. After all she’d been through in the past three months, was she just being paranoid? She thought about her friends, Roland Hudson and Aaron Reed, murdered by a drug cartel last December at the mall while wearing their Santa and elf costumes. She thought about Tony Rosso, Chad Williams, Mike Carter and Joshua Meyers. Her past romantic interests all murdered last month on Valentine’s Day while dressed as Cupid. With Saint Patrick’s Day creeping up, she wasn’t sure she could make it through another holiday. Especially since this one fell on her birthday—double whammy.
Shannon sighed. Was she really going to be twenty-eight in just two more days? She smiled at the thought of how happy it made her dad that she’d been born on Saint Patrick’s Day. When she was younger, he’d always claimed the Saint Patrick’s Day parades and festivities were thrown in celebration of her birthday. He’d been pretty convincing at the time. A vision of her dad’s ear-to-ear smile played through her mind. She should pay her parents a visit soon. It had been a while.
The immediate issue at hand returned to Shannon. Could she make it through another holiday? She was running out of friends; hence, why she and Anna decided to take this geocaching trip. They wanted to get out of Milwaukee and harm’s way.
Shannon met Anna’s gaze. “I don’t know. I feel like we’re being watched.”
Shannon slid the lever over and released the latch of the small cash drawer-like box before she lifted the lid. Both women gasped and jumped back, Shannon not as far as Anna as her back pressed firmly to the pine frame of the triangle. The box slipped off the log. The contents flipped through the air. Their horrifying screams echoed as Shannon’s spine ground into the unyielding log behind her. Her gaze stayed glued to the gruesome object. Oh God, please don’t let it touch me!
The container and its contents crashed to the ground and came to a rest at Shannon’s feet. She wasted no time hoisting herself out of the confined area.
Shannon glanced over the downed trees to find her friend’s equally petrified gaze on her. Speechless, Shannon waited for words from Anna.
Her friend swallowed audibly. “Is that what I think it is?”
Anna’s shuddering body matched Shannon’s own vibrations. The cold had nothing to do with it. Shannon’s thudding heart nearly broke free of her chest.
“I think so.”
Anna nodded at her and they both edged forward to get a better glimpse. A partially decomposed finger lay in the snow next to the cache box, along with the small broken jar in which it had been housed. A slight waft of alcohol drifted into Shannon’s nostrils before a ray of sun shot through the overcast sky. A flash of light sparked off the finger. Shannon’s heart raced. A gold Claddagh ring, just like the grand-prize she hoped to win, was wrapped snugly around the large yellowish-brown finger.
Excerpt 4 (sexual content)
Caving to his selfishness, Spinelli lifted his hand and combed his fingers through Shannon’s smooth, silky strands of hair before his hand came to rest against her warm, inviting, cheek. Her eyes fluttered open but quickly closed again. He tilted her head slightly for better access to her soft, irresistible lips. He touched them lightly with his before he pulled his head back in hopes to catch a glimpse of her beautiful emerald eyes. It took but a moment for her lids to rise, and the sea of green staring back at him instantly swallowed him whole.
Wasting no time, he dipped his head and fully took her mouth. The heat of her tongue nearly set him to flames. Her fingers wove through his hair; his hand cupped a breast through her shirt. Her back still pinned one arm between her and the chair. As if reading his mind, she shifted her position more upright, freeing his arm and his hand for roaming. He nearly chuckled at her mind-reading skills in the few short months they’d been together. At this rate, he’d soon have no private thoughts left.
Her scorching tongue turned his mind to mush. She sent every nerve ending in his body to the highest point of arousal he’d ever experienced. He couldn’t think anymore. He could only react and deepened his kiss.
Straddling him in the chair, she placed her hands on his cheeks and locked her smoldering gaze onto his. He needed a crowbar to tear his gaze from hers, as he glanced at her letter still on the arm of the chair. Unless she saw it in the last few seconds, she would have no way of knowing he’d seen the letter she wrote to him. Shifting his gaze back to her, he found her looking at the paper. Her breath held for a moment.
The sheer intensity of her concentrated gaze bored into his soul. “I meant every word of it, Nick.”
A thrill snapped through him like a lightning bolt as if this information was new to him. Deep down he’d known it for a while, but the letter confirmed his suspicions. Hearing her say the words, with such sincerity and assurance, rendered him speechless. His heart pounded in his chest.
Shannon’s green eyes darkened as she leaned forward and pressed her fiery-hot and needy lips to his. Spinelli’s greedy hands went to work, pulling her shirt up and over her head so quickly their lips hardly parted to complete the task. His fingers loosened the hook on her bra, freeing her small perky round breasts from their confinement.
Pulling his lips from hers, he fastened his mouth around one breast as he cupped the other in the palm of his hand. Her breath hitched and released with a soft moan. If that was the last sound he ever heard, he’d die a happy man. She had the most beautiful breasts.
Shannon’s small hands floated down and fluidly worked the button and zipper of his jeans. If she took any longer, the force of his erection would take care of that task.
He somehow found enough sense to lift himself to his feet with Shannon in his arms. Her legs wrapped around his waist. He took the four steps needed before playfully tossing her onto the bed. Kneeling before him, she tugged at his jeans as he pulled his shirt over his head. She eyed his erection. He always loved how she looked at him. Only two things were better. Yep, wrapping her mouth around him was one. Her sizzling tongue slid around and over the tip of him before taking him in completely. The escalating pressure was nearly more than he could bear and she’d hardly started. His pulse pounded in his ears as his aching body begged for release. His concentrated effort to hold out nearly failed him as she freed him from the depths of her knowing mouth.
Shannon scooted up on the bed. Her skin flushed at his gaze. He tugged her jeans and panties from her before he crawled up beside her. Before he knew it, his mouth covered hers, probing, exploring, as if it had never been there before. He was ready, so ready to dip inside her velvet opening.
“Let me get this right. You’re telling me your dead father’s finger showed up in a cache box in Door County, over forty years after your father died.”
His smoldering gaze turned black as coal at her response. He leaned toward her and captured her lips with his hot, hungry mouth. The immeasurable possessiveness of his kiss overwhelmed her. Heat spiraled through her body, her skin on the verge of melting. The sensations ripping through her could only be described as pure pleasure, and he was just getting started.
Spinelli fixed his gaze on Walker.
“I’m going to marry her.” Walker risked a glance away from the road. “I know you are. Jeana and I have known all along. Christ, even Marsh figured it out. Mad Dog calls me at least once a week to make sure he doesn’t miss the wedding. Captain Jackson prays for the miracle that you figure it out before she retires so she knows you’ll be taken care of when she’s gone.” Walker chuckled. “We’re all just waiting for you to shit or get off the pot.”
Bernie kept his gaze on Riordan. “Well, it appears your little world is about to come crumbling down. I guess old Maeve thinks that revenge is a dish best served cold. And here you thought you’d rid yourself of her years ago,” Bernie commented as another satisfying chuckle escaped his lips.
Spinelli watched as the white of Riordan’s left eyeball turned red as a fire truck. The bulging must have caused a vessel to break. Spinelli had never seen anyone’s eyes protrude as far out of their sockets. Spit saturated Riordan’s gag and ran down his chin as he fiercely growled. Bernie had obviously struck a nerve.