Author: Alexandra Christle
Genre: Crime Thriller
2019 Winner James River Writers Best Novel
Attacked in East St. Louis, reporter Cassie Phillips needs help—but her dubious rescuer is drug dealer Tony Scarlotti. Their paths continue to cross as Tony rises in the Mafia, and Cassie gives up trying to believe in him. She learns the truth when he’s murdered by a rival family in a massacre under the Gateway Arch. Now she’s running for her life with no one to help her.
YouTube trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_erCrr3oR0
Something hard and cold pressed against her head.
“What the hell is wrong with you? Are you trying to get stopped? Don’t even think about it.”
“Where do you want me to go?” Her voice trembled.
Cassie drove steadily toward town, keeping just under the speed limit. The pressure on her skull stopped. Tony’s face no longer appeared in her rearview mirror. He must’ve slid down in the seat. Then she panicked. “Oh, crap.”
“What? What’s wrong?”
“Police. Headed this way.”
He slipped further down. “Just keep driving. And don’t do anything stupid. I don’t want to hurt you.”
The cruisers flew by, headed toward the warehouses. She turned a corner and made the rest of the drive through side streets. When she finally pulled into her parking spot, her mouth was so dry she couldn’t pry it open to speak. The perspiration soaking her clothes sent shivers through her.
He threw open the door and crawled out. “Grab that case.”
She climbed from her car and faced him for the first time. His right hand clamped over his left arm. Blood seeped around his fingers.
“Shh! Shut up. Let’s get upstairs. Get the suitcase.”
They took a chance and rode the elevator to the fourth floor, encountering no one. She let them into her apartment, and Tony scanned the room. “Where’s the bathroom?”
She hesitated then pointed, and he headed through the living room with her on his heels.
He started shrugging out of his leather jacket. “Help me get this jacket off.”
Fear made her unable to move.
His gaze settled on her, eyes narrowed, then he set his gun on the back of the toilet tank. In a soft voice, he said, “I’m not going to hurt you, Cassie. Just—” His voice hitched, and he blew out a breath.
She bit her bottom lip and reached to tug at the sleeve, sliding the jacket off his shoulder.
With visible effort, he straightened his left arm enough so she could slip it off. As she pulled it down his arm, a strangled grunt escaped his throat.
“Sorry.” Her tone didn’t quite support her words. She laid the jacket across the edge of the tub.
“You got scissors? Cut off my sleeve.”
After a brief hesitation, she followed his orders and peeled off his bloody shirt sleeve as he examined the wound.
“Okay. It just grazed me.”
“Grazed? Tony, it’s deep. It’s bleeding all over the place. You need stitches.”
He swayed, grabbed the edge of the sink then lowered the toilet seat and sat. “Just patch it up. You got stuff to do that?”
“I…I think so.” She dug in the drawers and dragged out gauze, tape, everything she could find, while he told her what to do. After cleaning and covering his wound, she glanced at his face. His skin had a ghostly pallor. “You don’t look good. Do you want some water or something?”
“Yeah. Booze. Aspirin. Something. Water, if that’s all you got.”
She led him into the living room. “You need to go to the hospital.”
He managed to laugh and sank onto the sofa.
“You’ve lost a lot of blood. I can’t take care of you. I don’t know how to do this. I’m a reporter, not a nurse.”
“You did fine. It’s not as bad as it looks. I just need a few hours sleep, and I’ll get out of your hair. You got any booze?”
“I—I don’t drink. But my roommate has some. Let me see what I can find.” She returned with a bottle of tequila and a glass with ice, plus a bottle of aspirin.
Tony slumped on the sofa, head bent, rubbing his eyes with one hand, the other resting on his gun. He shook his head slightly.
She set everything on the coffee table. “Are you okay?”
Fists in a tight knot, he looked up. “Hell no, I’m not okay. I just sho—” He stopped, his voice strained. “Pour me some of that, wouldya?”
She filled the glass halfway and handed it to him, watched him for a few minutes, then started cleaning. Jackie would return tomorrow, and how would Cassie explain bloody clothing and stains in the bathroom? Engulfed by her jumbled thoughts, she nearly tripped over his suitcase on her way to the bathroom. “What’s in your suitcase? Drugs?”
“No.” He pressed on his arm and grunted. “Just a hundred grand.”
She whirled around and stared at him. “A hundred thousand dollars?” She reached back to lift it.
Behind her, a gun cocked. “Cassie, please don’t make me hurt you. I really don’t want to.”
She halted and straightened. Whoever and whatever Tony Scarlotti was, he didn’t play games.
Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):
What makes your featured book a must-read?
Donnie Brasco meets The Godfather in this Mafia thriller with an uncover DEA agent and plenty of twists and turns.
Enter to win a $30 Amazon (US) gift card
Runs May 4 – May 12, 2021.