Torn between steamy, passionate nights between the sheets and the truths she doesn't want to face, Margo Harris unravels mysteries from her past as she forms ties with a dangerous group of people. Determined to rebuild the fragments of her previous life, she clings to the sexy and magnetic Salvatore Mazzillo for comfort he can't truly provide, finding herself deeper and deeper in a world she can't escape. A breathtakingly sensual and suspenseful ride that will have you questioning what real love means and have you wondering if those around you are who they say they are.
|Publisher:||W. Clark Distribution & Media Corporation|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||4 MB|
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The alarm clock blared and Margo groaned as she felt for the off button. She glared at the time, a whole four hours of sleep and it was time to start all over again. After a year of working three jobs, sleep was what she longed for. The dreams, however, were a different story. She rolled out of bed, and her feet hit the floor. There was no point in letting herself wallow in her current situation. She might not be an optimist, but if the last seven years had taught her anything, it was that she was as tough as nails.
Margo wrapped the towel around herself after getting out of the shower. Damn, if there was one thing she missed about her house it was taking a long, hot bath in her whirlpool tub after a long day at the office. Living at the motel sucked, even though she didn't spend a lot of time here. The plumbing was old, and showers were either scalding hot or ice cold. This morning, she had chosen frigid over third-degree burns and she was covered in goose bumps. She scowled at her reflection. The worry lines had become permanent recently. She checked her face for any other disconcerting developments. At forty-three, Margo knew that she still turned heads, tall and curvy, with long, auburn hair, and intense, green eyes that were still a distraction for men.
She rolled her eyes; she was a distraction for all the wrong kind of men. How long had it been now? No, she didn't have time for fantasy. Reality occupied all of her time, and there was little chance that Prince Charming was going to walk into the diner this morning and, between coffee and the check, offer to whisk her away.
Margo checked her uniform and her backpack before heading out. She would return sometime around midnight, almost comatose, and she would barely get undressed before falling quickly to sleep again. At first when she started this routine, she had told herself that working long hours would help her stay sane. Lately, she wasn't so sure.
She didn't have time to second-guess herself, and that was a blessing. It was three hours into the breakfast shift and the diner was slammed. Margo had waited tables on and off when she was a teenager, but had gone to college so these kinds of menial jobs would be forever in the past. If she could give her own children one piece of advice now, it would be to never say never.
Margo knew it was after nine, but not before ten, because she saw Sal walk in. He strode through the diner like he owned the place, and for all Margo knew, he might have. His dark hair was slicked back neatly; the touches of gray made him look even more distinguished. His suit was impeccable as always. He was the only man that she'd seen in the year she worked here who wore cuff links. She had realized shortly after meeting him though that it wouldn't have mattered what he wore; he exuded a quiet power, and he knew it. The other customers were quiet when he passed by, and he took his usual seat. He always sat in her section.
Her cheeks flushed this morning when she picked up the coffeepot and headed in his direction. She blamed it on the fact that he flirted with her; sometimes she blamed it on the fact that she couldn't remember the last time she had sex, but Sal's attention lately had made her long for a little romance.
"Good morning, Sunshine. How's my favorite customer today?"
She smiled when she saw him. She couldn't help it; he was contagious and had that kind of effect on her with that twinkle of mischief in his eyes.
"Wonderful, Cookie, and how's my favorite waitress faring today?"
His voice was gruff, and if Margo was honest, she imagined him calling her "Cookie" during some intimate moments.
"Great, you want the usual?"
He gave her those smoldering eyes and the look that kept her simmering lately. "If I can't get anything else ..."
Their banter went back to the day they met, but the flirtation had become more heated lately, and Margo went in the back and eyed him from the kitchen. She had heard the stories; according to Vinnie, the line cook with a lazy eye, Sal was powerful businessman with ties to the Mafia. From her past dealings with the criminal element, she believed it. He was definitely a man who knew how to get what he wanted.
When she returned with Sal's usual, a glass of orange juice, two eggs over easy, and a slice of dry wheat toast, he stopped her. "Hey, Cookie, you're a smart girl, let me ask you something."
"Sure, Sal, anything." It was a lie; Margo was very good at dodging answers.
"What are you doing working here?" He looked around to indicate that the diner might not be a career choice for someone with ambition and half a brain.
Margo shrugged. "I needed a job. Help wanted sign in the window, five-question interview, I fit in the uniform, and voilà. Hired on the spot. Do you need more coffee?"
She was quick to change the subject. No matter how attractive Sal might be and how much they flirted, there were certain subjects that were off-limits.
Her section filled up again quickly, and Margo must have been in the kitchen when Sal left. When she went back to his table and found it empty, she couldn't help but feel slightly disappointed. Sometimes conversation with Sal was just about the only thing that made her smile all day. Under his coffee cup, he had left his usual ten-dollar tip and she folded the money and slid it into her pocket.
At noon, it was time to change and get to her second job. Thankfully, the Laundromat didn't require that she wear a uniform as ridiculous as the getup she wore at the diner. It was far too low-cut and showed way too much leg. Margo had complained to Vinnie.
"I'm not making enough money here to flash cleavage."
"Hey, think about how much less you'd make if you didn't." He had winked at her with his good eye, and she knew that the case was closed.
Jeans and a tee shirt were all she needed for her second job and the peace and quiet there gave her time to work on her third job.
Margo walked the ten blocks from the diner to the Laundromat. This was her only real free time of the day, and she would stop, grab a quick bite from the deli and one more cup of coffee. She had to remind herself to eat lately; she had lost enough weight over the last few years, and there was no point in getting sick. The cell phone in her backpack rang as she was chewing. Margo swallowed quickly. She didn't get many calls.
"Hello?" she answered, clearing her throat. "Hello?" she repeated.
"Hey, Mom." It was Abigail, her daughter who should be in school right now. Margo immediately wondered why she was calling her, what was wrong.
"Honey, are you okay? Are you at school?" Her sweet little girl had grown up way too fast and Margo would never forgive herself for the role she had played in all of that.
"No, I stayed home today." Abigail had just turned fifteen and had started lying a lot lately. Rather than call her on it, Margo decided to let it slide. The kids hated her enough right now.
"I kind of need some money." There it was, the reason for the call.
"Sure, Abby." It was her daughter's nickname from a long time ago, and Margo didn't seem to be able to stop using it, even though her daughter hated it now.
"Sorry, Abigail," she corrected herself. "How much do you need?"
"Like five hundred would be good."
It seemed like an awful lot of cash for someone her age and Margo's pulse beat faster as she thought of the possibilities.
"Can you tell me what you need the money for, honey?"
She was trying so hard to make up for the past, but it didn't seem to matter what she did. Her words and actions were always wrong. She hoped Abigail didn't catch on to her try-hard sickly sweet voice.
Abigail sighed loudly, and Margo knew that she had lost. Whatever the game was, she wasn't playing it right.
"Never mind. Forget it. I'll just ask Dad."
Margo had to calm herself every time the kids brought up David, and she held her breath before answering.
"No, I can help —" she started, but her daughter had already hung up on her. Margo looked at the time and shoved the last two bites of her sandwich in her mouth, drained the coffee, and decided that she would walk and talk.
She pressed David's name on her phone and waited for him to pick up. Her ex-husband was probably having a leisurely lunch somewhere with clients, drinking espresso and enjoying an overpriced meal in a trendy place with five-star food and service. The good life. The life they used to have together. Margo missed it. It had all slipped away so quickly.
Her call went to voice mail and Margo wanted to scream. Of course he would screen his calls, especially hers. "Hey, asshole," she started her message, "what the fuck does my daughter need five hundred dollars for? Do you even know what our children are doing all day? Do you know that Abigail isn't in school right now? Get your worthless ass home and check on the kids, damn it!"
She pressed end call and stood outside the Laundromat for a moment. Her heart was pounding, and her blood seemed to boil in her veins. No matter what she did, it wasn't enough for Abigail and Thomas, and it seemed like David could do no wrong. Margo had lost them long ago and sometimes she felt like it would have been kinder if she had simply died instead of having her heart broken again and again.
She went inside and waved at Carol, the heavyset woman who worked the mornings.
"You're not going to believe what happened," Carol began.
She always wanted to give Margo the blow-by-blow account of the people that had been in, the minutia of what had happened. Margo had learned long ago to just set up her laptop in the back and start typing. Carol seemed to have less to say to the back of her head.
"Uh-huh," Margo said. She barely pretended to be interested but that was enough for Carol. She was oblivious to whether Margo listened or not.
She waved good-bye as her coworker walked out the door. It was time to start her third job.
Margo had been writing as a freelancer over the last year, and it was the most lucrative job that she could find. In college, she always had her assignments written well ahead of their due dates. Writing had always come easy to her; she had a knack for it. Now she wrote term papers for spoiled college kids who would pass off her work as their own, that and anything else people wanted to pay her for. How could she blame people for a little plagiarism when she was a convicted felon?
Sundays were the one day when she had a little spare time. It was her day off at the Laundromat. When Margo finished her shift at the diner, she headed to the nearest Starbucks to write. On her way out of the diner she glanced over at Sal's table and smiled to herself. He was a man who was predictable; he was always there at almost the same time Monday through Friday and never came in on weekends. She imagined that he and his wife had taken their brood to church.
He's married, Margo kept reminding herself, especially lately when his eyes had lingered on her décolletage and his look had suggested that he had continued to undress her from there. In fact, he'd been married to the same woman for almost thirty years; it was a matter of pride and nothing that he had tried to conceal.
"It's important for families to stay together, to have continuity and values," Sal had told her early on when Margo had asked. His expression had been serious and seemed to reiterate how committed he was. "Regardless of our difference my wife is important; she's the mother of my children."
"How many kids do you have?" Margo could picture Sal as many things but a father wasn't one of them.
"Five." He couldn't have looked prouder.
"Wow!" Her mouth opened unconsciously in disbelief. How could anyone afford a family that size anymore? Then again, Sal seemed to be quite enterprising.
"Well, I know what you do in your spare time," she had teased.
As she walked to the nearest Starbucks, she could clearly remember the look he had flashed her then. Sal hadn't said a word and none were needed. They both knew exactly what he was thinking.
Margo ordered coffee and found her usual table in the corner; she would sit here and block out the hustle and bustle until closing time. She had an article to finish and a new project to start, but her mind was still otherwise occupied, and she knew that her curiosity was going to get the best of her.
Just twenty minutes, she promised herself, twenty minutes online. She'd do a little reading; it wasn't spying, it was all public information. She typed "Salvatore Alonso Mazzillo" into Google and the screen came to life. Her eyes widened as she scrolled through the results; Sal was a man of many faces.
One of the articles was dated almost a decade ago. "Local Businessman Has Ties to Organized Crime." That looked promising. The picture was a profile of Sal, leaving the courthouse, smiling confidently, still dressed to impress. He had less gray in the picture, but he was every bit as handsome as he was now. Margo read the column quickly. Sal had been charged with racketeering and fraud, but the district attorney's case had been dismissed.
Sal was quoted as saying, "This is just another case of big government trying to strong-arm a regular guy trying to make a few bucks."
Margo smiled a little in awe; the man wasn't easily intimidated.
She continued to read. It was not his first skirmish with the law, and from the looks of things, wouldn't be his last either. Sal owned businesses all over town, from liquor stores, to strip malls. Margo figured this is why he could afford five children. She shook her head. There had been other cases, quickly brought and quickly dropped. The charges were all questionable and luckily for Sal, witnesses seemed to miraculously not show for court or changed their story in front of a grand jury.
In her past life, she would have dismissed him as a gangster and kept her guard up. He would have been a great client. Margo imagined that he probably kept his lawyers very busy, but the aura of danger that seemed perpetually around him, if only by reputation, would have been enough for her. She would have kept things strictly business.
After the last seven years though, Margo had learned that very few things were black and white. Life was a series of shades of gray, and rather than passing judgment on the man, she found herself even more fascinated.
Sal was at the diner Monday morning, and when Margo poured his coffee, she noticed that he seemed a bit distracted.
"You having the usual?"
"That would be great, Cookie."
There was no smile today, not even a lingering glance along her curves, and she couldn't help but notice the change.
She bit her lip. She knew the moment the words left her tongue, she shouldn't have asked. Just because she had read a little bit about him did not mean that his life was an open book. She, of all people, knew how valuable privacy was.
"Business," he looked up at her. The lines on his face were more pronounced. "Always business. I have a legal issue that a nephew of mine is supposed to be handling ..." Sal put his hands up. "Who knows!"
Margo had never seen him look anything less than confident. She recalled the articles from yesterday and was curious.
"Your nephew is your lawyer?"
"One of many," he exhaled slowly. "In this world, Cookie, you need a lawyer to take a piss." He smiled sheepishly at his own joke. "It took the dumb ass three times to pass the bar, and his aptitude still concerns me."
When she returned with his usual, she still hadn't let it go.
"Why would you give a job to your nephew if you don't think he's qualified?" Margo didn't think that he was the type of man to suffer fools lightly; she didn't even want to imagine what he would do if he were disappointed.
"He's family," Sal shrugged his shoulders. "You take care of family. Speaking of which ..." he reached out and grabbed Margo's left hand, "who takes care of you, Cookie?"
His touch was gentle, but his hand was strong, and Margo knew that she wouldn't be able to pull away until he let her go, and she didn't want him to. She could feel the heat rising between them, and the sensation from his fingers around her palm had traveled up her arm and was coursing throughout her body. She had to stop this now before it got out of hand.
"Gee whiz, Sal, haven't you heard? Nowadays, women drive, vote, and work outside of the home," she scoffed and felt him let go of her hand. "I'm one of those liberated women who doesn't need anyone to take care of me."
The diner had almost emptied, and Sal was drumming his fingers on the table scanning the morning paper. His plate was empty, his napkin crumpled on it. Normally he would be on his way with a wink. The fact that he was slightly off schedule was alarming to Margo. It must be a bigger problem than he wanted to admit.
She brought the coffeepot, set it on the table, and for the first time since they had met, she pulled out the chair across from him. Sal looked surprised when Margo took a seat, but happily so.
Excerpted from "Sincerely, The Boss!"
Copyright © 2012 Amy Morford & Wahida Clark.
Excerpted by permission of Wahida Clark Presents Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Not one of her best books but I still enjoyed it
This book is great need Part2