by Sandy Marshall
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About The Book
Book Genre: Romantic SuspensePublisher: Eirelander Publishing
Release Date: October 25, 2013
The games they play can lead them to love or ruin.
Melanie Dubois detests her family’s casino business. The way this addiction destroys people has her on a tear of magnificent proportions. Then again, this young lady has been put through a train wreck of her own design. She distrusts everybody except for the people who are determined to use Melanie as a poster-child for zealots.
Mike Mercer has spent nearly a year in a deep cover mission for the FBI. The one fly in the ointment of completing his objective to take down a group of dangerous anti-gambling zealots is a fiery-tempered, blonde-haired woman named Melanie DuBois. Worse than that, she’s got a passion brewing just beneath the surface that’s an even deadlier attraction.
Fighting for your life is never easy when the odds are stacked against you.
Dressed for the day in pale blue sweats, Mel stood in the drab, dark kitchen of Janet Batten’s house and debated what to do. The growl of her stomach made the decision for her, she’d fix breakfast. She switched on the light over the sink, and reached into a lower cabinet for a couple of skillets. She poured olive oil in one pan and went to the freezer for sausage to put in the other one. Slowly, she drew ingredients from the refrigerator and placed them on the butcher block counter before she went to the pantry for potatoes and onions.
Early morning was her favorite part of the day, it was quiet and no one was around.
Why was she being left out of everything this group was doing? After being here for a month, she was still being treated like an outsider. It was almost like she was still at home. Why wouldn’t they let her help? She’d been picketing, but she knew there was more going on than just that.
Did they consider her a part of the establishment they were trying to destroy? True, she would inherit a portion of the Odyssey Casinos, but she didn’t want any part of the company. Why should she when her family treated her like a wicked stepchild? If that was the problem, she’d tell Janet that she would sell her part and use the money to help those who were addicted to gambling.
She didn’t want to belong to an industry that destroyed anyone, or their livelihoods. She’d led a privileged life on the backs of losers, living in a huge home, going to private schools and college because of them.
Thinking of the Odysseys’ always made her think of her family. Her relationship with them had been rocky for many years. Even so, she loved her sister, Jolene, and they’d been great friends when they were younger. After her sister was saved from the monster who’d kidnapped her, Mel had wanted to go see her, but didn’t want to risk being forced to leave this group by her mother and stepfather.
Absorbed in her thoughts, knife in hand chopping onions vigorously, she didn’t hear anyone come into the kitchen. A large shadow appeared on the wall in front of her, Mel swung around with the knife pointed at the person’s chest.
Recognizing Janet, her heart still pounding, she lowered the sharp edge. "You scared me to death."
"I’m sorry I frightened you," Janet said, stepping back. "You must’ve been in deep thought because I said, ‘Good Morning’ when I first walked in."
"I was thinking about how I don’t feel included in your plans. It feels like home. I was always an outsider there, too."
The older woman wrapped the younger one in her arms.
"We didn’t mean to do that, Melanie. You should’ve told me sooner how you felt," Janet said, releasing her and gazing into the girl’s blue eyes. "We want you to feel wanted and comfortable in your new home."
"Then why can’t I do something besides picket?" Janet probably thought she sounded like a big crybaby. She turned away to keep busy as she waited for the answer, she scrapped the ingredients from the cutting board into the skillet.
"It looks like you’re doing something besides picketing. Do you have enough for everyone?"
Mel glanced at Janet and caught a smile on her face. "I’ve got enough for a small army, but you know I didn’t mean this." She poured in the scrambled eggs and put bread in the toaster.
Janet walked to the fridge drawing out butter and milk to place on the table. "After breakfast we’re having a meeting, and it would be helpful for you to tell your family’s story," and then casually asked, "Would you be willing to do that?"
"Sure, I want to." That was an understatement; she couldn’t wait to tell everyone about the evils of gambling. Yeah, she’d gladly let them know what the casinos had done to her dad. Janet had promised her when she came here she would become involved with major activities and maybe this was the start.
Janet stopped beside her, caressing the top of Melanie’s head. "It’ll go a long way to help alleviate the others distrust of you."
"Thanks for the opportunity to explain myself." So that’s the reason she hadn’t been able to get close to any of these people except Janet. Well hell, if that’s why they were ignoring her, she’d spell it out why she was here.
"I’ll let you know when I’m ready for you."
"Thanks," Mel murmured, as she darted a glance at the salt and pepper-haired woman while Janet took silverware and plates to the long, scarred wooden table. "Why are you so nice to me?"
Janet walked to stand beside her. "I had a daughter about your age." She touched Melanie’s arm. "If she had lived, I would want her to be like you."
Mel leaned toward Janet. "I wish I’d had a mother who loved me." It would have been nice to have someone really care about her. She glanced past the woman as she heard people streaming into the kitchen. "We’d better hurry, here they come."
The first person she saw was Al Slavery, who could miss that evil scarred face. It was all she could do to keep from flinching as he drew closer to her. Next came Dan dressed in his usual jeans and sweater with a swagger that would turn on most women. Several young stringy-haired women in sweats and a few older men followed behind him.
"Leave the juice on the counter along with the food. It won’t hurt them to help themselves today." Janet winked at her.
Mel smiled at Janet, saying, "Good idea." She swished the food from the skillets onto platters.
Janet winked at her and turned toward the people before they could sit at the table. "Come and get it before it gets cold."
The guys grabbed plates and rushed forward. Mel backed away from the counter so she wouldn’t be trampled in their attempt to get to the food. It would be a miracle if there was any left; she’d probably have to settle for a bowl of cereal.
"Hey, you guys leave some food for the rest of us," Janet barked, sounding like a drill sergeant.
Mel suppressed a grin, watching the men take smaller portions. She might get to eat some of her cooking after all. She flinched when Slavery purposely brushed against her scowling at him.
The man gave her the creeps.