DANCE OR DIE
Book 3 of The White Oak-Mafia series
by Liza O'Connor
Genre: Contemporary Mafia Suspense (with touches of humor)
Tess Campbell, mafia princess, has fallen in love with a British prince during his stay in Iowa. He appears equally besotted, having given her his family ring that’s been passed down through the generations. Still, he asked that she keep his proposal and ring a secret for the time being.
Two weeks into their budding romance, Tess’s father, a psycho mafia don, kidnaps and nearly kills the prince and his Secret Service agent, believing she has taken both as her lovers. The brutal assault reveals the true character of each man and Tess must face some hard truths, even as she takes control of her destiny to build the finest state park in the country.
She arrived at the missing road at 5:48. Tess stared at the giant hole. It had been a message from her father. One she’d failed to understand at first.
He could and would literally tear her world apart if she didn’t dance to his tune. There was nothing her father wouldn’t do.
Her ability to see the ground dropped significantly as she entered the woods beside the missing road.
Her heart rate increased as a horrible thought crossed her mind.
What if her father put bear traps in these woods? If he’d steal a road, what would a few bear traps cost him?
She slowed and focused on the leaves and the path before her.
Someone gripped her arm and she screamed.
“It’s me,” Cobbs said.
Relieved, yet still terrified, she hugged him.
He patted her back. “What’s happened?” he asked.
“Bullshit! You’ve been a rock up ‘til now. Something’s changed.”
She stepped back and met his eyes. “The only thing that’s changed is that I keep thinking about those four tortured men. If Father would do that to them just to make me be his obedient daughter, then Steel is in imminent and serious danger. I love him and the truth is, I’d do anything to save him.”
Cobbs pulled her back to his chest. “I hadn’t realized your feelings were so strong for the fellow. Hopefully, neither does Benito. But you’re doing the right thing. Leave now and don’t come back until the Campinelli family is no more.”
“Thank you for understanding,” she whispered and located the papers in her jacket. “These are the signed documents that Mr. Sedita requested.”
He looked them over. Once satisfied, he put them in his vest pocket. “I’ll take them over now. Should I call the men and tell them work is over?”
“Just for today.” Tears welled in her eyes. “I don’t think I’ll be going anywhere.”
Cobb’s brow furrowed. “But you said—”
“I’m going to try to convince Steel to take me away to England, but I think he loves his work more than me. I expect him to refuse to leave.”
“And you have a plan for that scenario.”
“Yes, I’ll get him fired and he’ll have no choice but to leave. But he certainly won’t invite me along in that case.”
She burst into tears.
Cobbs gripped her chin. “Stop that!” he ordered. “You are a magnificent woman, so much like your grandmother. Steel would be a fool not to treasure you more than rocks and dirt. Tell him you’re afraid for not just him, but yourself. And if he’s half the man he seems to be, he’ll go. Don’t jump to the worst case. I’d bet every dime I have, you two will be on a plane today.”
Cobbs’ certainty gave her hope and pushed away the tears. She nodded with renewed confidence.
“Thank you for all you’ve done for me. I couldn’t ask for a better friend.”
That made him smile. “Now get on with you. You’ve got a soul mate to save.”
Megan Clarke had a good life until she wins the Mega Times Lottery and discovers the prize comes with a curse. Worse than the many money-hungry suitors, a serial killer has her in his sight. She changes her name and moves to Iowa with plans to buy their last major forest of white oaks and turn it into a State Park. Unfortunately, the Lottery Curse doesn't stop at state lines and someone there wants her dead, as well. Good thing a disturbingly handsome law officer is just as determined to keep her alive.
Finally, Meg could stand it no more and opened the door. Peeking inside, she huffed at the sight of him sitting on the couch staring at pictures.
She stepped forward but stopped before getting close enough to see what was in the stack of photos. “Is it body parts?” One of her threat letters had said they’d send her body parts of dead lottery winners if she didn’t send them twenty million.
He smiled at her. “No. They are pictures of trees and creeks. There’s a letter as well.”
“Is it saying there are body parts in the woods?”
He set the pictures down. “Why don’t you read the non-threatening letter? And I’ll go retrieve the threatening letters and read those.”
“It’s going to take you forever.”
He tilted his head. “Hours. Is your offer of green tea still good?”
“Of course. Would you like some turkey chili with it? It’s healthy.”
He rose and smiled. “Green tea will do.”
After returning to the kitchen, she poured two green teas while he snared the box of hate. “Sorry I called you out for nothing.”
His brow furrowed, and he looked at the collection of angry correspondence in his arms. “This isn’t nothing. Is Sergeant Adams aware of how many death threats you’ve received?”
She grimaced. “He just told me to keep them. He never asked for a count. But he probably didn’t realize there was a whole box full. The last time he came, I only had a half dozen or so. I guess all those letters begging for money I don’t answer are pissing people off.”
Tess Campbell is a mafia princess who wants nothing to do with her dangerous family. She’d rather spend her life making Grams's forest the best state park in Iowa.
Alistair Castile, aka Steel, is a British prince, his archaeological career in ruins due to his promiscuous nature. He’s hired on as forest manager of Tess’s woods and quickly falls in love with the charming young woman, so different from the socialites of his world.
Only there are several serious barriers between them: Steel’s career cannot withstand another scandal and Tess’s father will kill anyone who gets in the way of his daughter marrying a Chicago mobster.
By the time Tess climbed in the car, she was perilously late. She drove the pot-holed road as fast as she dared, but she saw no chance of making up the time.
She arrived at the airport at 6:16 p.m. “Please let the plane be late,” she said to the ceiling of her car. She wondered if God would realize she was talking to him. Since she hadn’t spoken to God since her mother died, he probably had no clue who she was.
By the time she parked her car and made it inside, it was 6:28, and according to the board, the plane had arrived at 6:02.
“Shit!’ she yelled and held up her sign with Dr. Castile’s name. She waved it about as she hurried to the luggage carousels. She rechecked the board to determine which luggage loop she needed to haunt.
She’d made it two-thirds of the way around the carousel when someone gripped her arm and turned her around. An annoyed, blond Adonis with long hair pulled into a ponytail, wearing tight jeans and a tweed jacket, glared at her. “Gads, woman! I’ve been chasing you through the whole bloody airport!”
His English accent reminded her of James Bond, but his attitude wasn’t nearly so polite.
“Shouldn’t you stand in one place and let your passenger come to you?” he demanded.
Dear God, this couldn’t be her new boss. Surely, Mr. Barkman wouldn’t send a hippie to Grams’ house. “Are you Doctor Alastair Castile?” Please say no.
He rubbed his temple. “Why else would I chase you all over the airport?” His gaze swept up and down, taking her in. “I must presume you are new to your occupation, and no one has taken the trouble to train you.”
Great, a misogynist. But he sure as hell didn’t look like a doctor. “May I see your passport please?”
“I beg your pardon?” His voice had a decided chill to it.
“To prove you really are Dr. Alastair Castile.”
“Surely, you jest.”
“You can either show me your passport or move on. You’re too young to have a doctorate, and you look more like a male model than a forest manager, so I’m thinking this is some stupid frat prank.”
Tess turned to leave, but he grabbed her arm again. When she turned, an obnoxious smirk formed on his lips as he shoved his passport under her nose.
Opening the passport, she read Dr. Alastair Bastion Castile.
God knows her, all right, and he’s clearly pissed as hell.
Liza O’Connor was raised badly by feral cats, left the South/Midwest and wandered off to find nicer people on the east coast. There she worked for the meanest man on Wall Street, while her psychotic husband tried to kill her three times. (So much for finding nicer people.) Then one day she declared enough, got a better job, divorced her husband, and fell in love with her new life where people behaved nicely. But all those bad behaviors has given her lots of fodder for her humorous books. Please buy these books, because otherwise, she’ll become grumpy and write troubled novels instead. They will likely traumatize you.
You have been warned.