Virgin no more!

I have broken through to a few new experiences of late.

So this week, I was a guest on my first podcast– here’s the link to BEHIND THE PEN, an interview series from Karina Kantas… https://anchor.fm/behindthepen/episodes/NaPodPoMo-special-with-Lyndi-Alexander—author-e1adf43?fbclid=IwAR01pxaCmwTyRDZdNhDq5vmLCQJAzLEvSu9_3T2dh2Nsu-_7lJF5yNOss7Q

Late last month, I was also a guest on an Asheville radio station’s talk show, with host Blaine Greenfield. He’s a great local guy and very community minded. Here’s that link! https://www.facebook.com/wpvm.103.7/videos/3847038955398433/ I’m in the second half of the hour.

Viva for new things!

Military Week feature

Check out SECOND CHANCES at the Romance Lives Forever blog, and learn about Army veteran Kurt Lowdon….

Story process–from author Julie Howard

Authors talk a lot about being a “pantser” or a “plotter,” two schools of story process that involves how they write a novel. Do they write “by the seat of their pants,” diving into a blank page without a particular plan and allowing the story to develop organically one scene at a time? Or do they write an outline, either broad or detailed, with the ending well thought out before they even write the first word?

I definitely fall into that second category. I am a planner by nature. When I travel, I have already Googled the place extensively and have a list of historical sites and even restaurants I’d like to visit. I hate the idea I might miss something!

Writing an outline first helps, too, with the overall story arc. When I wrote my first book, I found myself a bit stuck in the middle. The plot started to drag. While I knew where I wanted the story to end up, I wasn’t sure how to keep the story interesting until I got there. I learned that if I wrote at least a brief outline with highlights of each chapter, I would get the tough work done early and this would also help me avoid writer’s block. Every morning, when I sat down to write, I knew what the next scene would be about.

Does this take the spontaneity out of writing? Not at all! I use the outline just as a guide. Most of the time, the story changes as I write. The characters I create demand that the plot move in a different direction. I frequently adjust the outline and keep moving forward. In my first novel, I even changed the murderer in my second draft as the original version didn’t make sense.

In my new release, The Three Widows of Wylder, the plot shifted somewhat from the first outline, but stuck fairly close all the way through. I didn’t feel bound to the original idea but I liked how it worked. I hope readers enjoy it too!

The Three Widows of Wylder

Tagline: Three women. Three terrible secrets.

Blurb:

Three women on the run.

After the death of her husband, Clara flees a hanging judge and seeks refuge with her brother in Wylder, Wyoming.

With secrets of her own and good reasons to flee, spoiled and vain Mary Rose joins Clara on the trek to Wyoming. Surely a suitable man exists somewhere.

Emma is a mystery. A crack shot and expert horsewoman, her harrowing past seeps out in a steady drip. She’s on the run from something, but what?

After the three women descend on Wylder, a budding romance leads to exposure of their pasts. As disaster looms, will any of them escape?

Excerpt:

Emma stood, legs apart, one hand on the pistol at her hip. The covered wagon was the type used years ago by pioneers, before trains tamed the prairie, and they still lumbered across areas where tracks hadn’t been laid. Two women sat side-by-side, too focused on their argument to yet notice the camp they entered. Their one horse, overmatched by the heavy wagon, was damp with sweat, its mouth flecked with froth.

“We should have stayed on the main road.” The peevish one appeared much younger, curly gold hair topped by a large straw hat. She wore a light-yellow dress with lace at her wrists and throat, a perfectly inadequate outfit for travel. “Someone could have provided directions.”

The older woman had finely-drawn features, a few strands of gray threaded through her dark, uncovered hair. Dressed in sensible blue calico, she gripped the reins too tight and the poor horse gave a pathetic shake of its head. “The whole point was to avoid people,” she sniped.

Emma strode forward and seized the reins. “For God’s sake, you’re killing him.”

The two women gaped as though at an apparition. The horse, released from harsh hands, lowered its head and halted. Its sides heaved as flies drank at its sweaty flanks.

“Whomever let you two fools handle a horse should be whipped.” Tempted to dispatch the women to hell for their cruelty, Emma rested her hand on the pistol’s handle.

They two travelers spoke in tandem. “Who are you?” and “How dare you call me a fool.”

As Emma crooned into in the horse’s ear, her expert fingers undid the buckles at its shoulders and haunches. By the time the older of the two women climbed to the ground, the horse was unhitched and Emma led it to the creek.

“That’s our horse,” cried the one in yellow. “Clara, what is that insane girl doing? She’s stealing him.”

Emma halted, shoulders stiff. She turned and pointed the pistol at the one with lace at her throat. “I’m no horse thief.” She cocked the hammer. “Apologize.”

About the author:

Julie Howard is the author of the Wild Crime mystery series and Spirited Quest paranormal mystery series. She is a former journalist and editor who has covered topics ranging from crime to cowboy poetry. She is a member of the Idaho Writers Guild and editor of the Potato Soup Journal. Learn more at juliemhoward.com.

Website: http://juliemhoward.com

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/juliemhowardauthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18116047.Julie_Howard

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Julie-Howard/e/B07D6CS4NQ/

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/julie-howard?list=author_books

Twitter: https://twitter.com/_JulieMHoward

Follow her on Instagram: @authorjuliehoward

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Three-Widows-Wylder-West-ebook/

iBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-three-widows-of-wylder/id1585169665

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-three-widows-of-wylder-julie-howard/

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/the-three-widows-of-wylder-the-wylder-west-by-julie-howard

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58903448-the-three-widows-of-wylder

Give Thanks to a Savage!

Welcome to November where the air is cool and the men are hot. 

We’re entering a month full of things to be thankful for, like crisp weather, pumpkin spice lattes, sweaters, boots, and, of course, hot savages! There’s an art to being thankful. The DeLuca men don’t care how you show your gratitude: on your knees, bending over, against a wall, or while begging for mercy. In return, they’ll keep you warm on those chilly November nights.

Preorder the Savage Bloodline Boxset: https://books2read.com/SavageBloodlineBoxset

Add it to your TBR list on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57656059-savage-bloodline 

Download the prequel, Brutal Bloodline for FREE!

https://BookHip.com/PQVFCMB

Keep tabs on the sexy men of the DeLuca family by joining the Savage Bloodline Readers’ Group. We’ll keep you up all month long. 

Book Info

Release Date: 3/15/22

ASIN- B092D9RGRW

Taglines 

In the streets and in the sheets, there’s one word that describes them best. SAVAGE.

The men of the DeLuca family are proof that the bigger the alpha, the harder they fall… in love.

Buy Links

Universal Buy Link – https://books2read.com/SavageBloodlineBoxset

Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B092D9RGRW/ 

Nook – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/savage-bloodline-kenya-wright/1139270630 

Apple – https://books.apple.com/us/book/savage-bloodline/id1561989851 

Long Blurb

About the Series

Darkness lurks behind their gazes. There’s something sinister about their smiles. Their name incites fear in their enemies. Their touch arouses passion in the women they love. They are the DeLucas. In the streets and in the sheets, there’s one word that describes them best. SAVAGE.

The men of the DeLuca family are proof that the bigger the alpha, the harder they fall… in love.

Download this exclusive anthology featuring 20+ BRAND NEW mafia romances to find out which DeLuca you will fall in love with. But first, you must ask yourself one question: Are you ready to give your heart and body to a savage?

Immerse yourself in this dangerously seductive collection that includes:

*Arranged Marriages.

*Billionaire.

*Enemies to lovers.

*Forced Proximity

*Friends to lovers.

*One Bed

*Second-chance.

*And more!

Short Blurb HTML

They are an international organized crime family known for their lethality and chivalry. Only a fool will mistake their genteel ways for weakness. Cross any of them, and expect to spend the rest of your life watching your back and sleeping with one eye open!

Can a marriage of convenience turn into real love?

Genre: Small town contemporary romance

Themes: Marriage of convenience, friends to lovers, second-chance love, family conflict

Keywords: smalltown romance, addiction, damaged hero, infertility, troubled past,

ISBN: 978-1-5092-3829-3 Paperback
           978-1-5092-3830-9 Digital

Length: 352 pages Heat Level: Spicy – R Release Date: September 27, 2021

Cover Artist: Rae Monet

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09CG2MVS7

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-unexpected-l-rosamond-richards/1114738832?ean=2940162376996

iBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/unexpected/id1580981690

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57013622-unexpected

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/books/unexpected-masonville-series-book-3-by-jana-richards

Short Links:

Amazon  ~  B & N  ~  iBooks

Tagline: A marriage of convenience. An unexpected love.

Blurb:

Single dad Ben Greyson wants only to retain custody of his two stepdaughters. A dysfunctional childhood has made family the most important thing in his life. When his late wife’s parents sue for custody, a desperate Ben is left with two choices – run away with his girls or marry his next-door neighbor.

Jamie Garven wants to be a mother. She’s intrigued by her handsome new neighbor and falls in love with his little girls. Then Ben is faced with losing his children, and Jamie agrees to marry him for a chance at motherhood. They’re determined to show the world, and the girls’ grandparents, two loving parents.

Their marriage of convenience turns into unexpected love. But Ben interprets Jamie’s efforts to save their family as betrayal—they could lose everything, including each other.

Excerpt:

He wrapped his arms around both girls. Jamie watched, uncomfortable to be intruding on such a private moment. Something about the tender way this big man held these two tiny girls hit her square in the solar plexus.

Not every man behaved like her ex.

She cleared her throat. “I should get Rex and Sammy home. It was nice meeting you, Bella and Sophie. I’ll see you around.”

Her neighbor rose quickly and extended his hand. “Thank you for helping me find the girls. I’m Ben Greyson, by the way.”

“Jamie Garven.” She accepted his handshake. Again, she had the sensation she’d seen him before. In the lights illuminating the playground she could see his eyes were a mixture of green and brown and were framed by long, thick lashes. This close to him, she noticed the dimple in his cheek for the first time and caught the scent of a delectable men’s cologne. For a moment, Jamie’s heart wobbled like a washing machine with an uneven load.

Or a hormonal teenager with her first crush.

The embarrassing thought made Jamie tug on her hand. He released it immediately and she forced herself to smile politely.

“It was nice meeting all of you. Goodnight.”

Once she and the dogs rounded the school and were out of sight, Jamie urged them into a run. They raced all the way home. As if the hounds of Hell were on their tails.

Or perhaps her own unsettling thoughts were chasing her. Jamie stifled a groan. She was being ridiculous. She’d been momentarily dazzled by a pretty face. Any red-blooded woman with a pulse would have reacted the same way.

Anyway, there was likely a Mrs. Ben Greyson somewhere in the picture. Men who looked like him generally weren’t single.

And men who looked like her hot new neighbor didn’t give plain women like her a second glance.

Author Bio:

When Jana Richards read her first romance novel, she immediately knew two things: she had to commit the stories running through her head to paper, and they had to end with a happily ever after. She also knew she’d found what she was meant to do. Since then she’s never met a romance genre she didn’t like. She writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance set in World War Two, in lengths ranging from short story to full length novel. Just for fun, she throws in generous helpings of humor, and the occasional dash of the paranormal. Her paranormal romantic suspense “Seeing Things” was a 2008 EPPIE finalist.

In her life away from writing, Jana is an accountant/admin assistant, a mother to two grown daughters, and a wife to her husband Warren. She enjoys golf, yoga, movies, concerts, travel and reading, not necessarily in that order. She and her husband live in Winnipeg, Canada. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at www.janarichards.com

Social Media Links:

Website:  http://www.janarichards.com

Blog:  http://janarichards.blogspot.com

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/JanaRichardsAuthor

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/JanaRichards_

Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/author/janarichards

Amazon UK Author Page:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B002DEVWWG

Newsletter Signup: http://janarichards.com/contact.html#newsletter

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2892274Jana_Richards

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jana-richards

New read from the Valesky Crime Family Series!

Target

The Valesky Crime Family Book 1

by Tina Donahue

Genre: Dark Mafia Romance

A Russian kingpin wants her dead… the only one who can stop it is the man sent to murder her.

Toni Flores loved her dream job working for a respected US senator until he raped her. She’s determined to bring him to justice, no matter the cost.

For years, Dimitri Valesky, head of a Russian crime family in America, has bought off those in government. Just like the senator responsible for Toni’s assault. When she won’t keep quiet about it and risks Dimitri’s business, he orders his stepson Michael to kill her.

Michael’s a lobbyist not a mafia enforcer. He refuses the insane demand, but Dimitri insists. The power he holds over Michael and his brothers is absolute… or so he believes.

Rather than murder Toni, Michael intends to romance her. Once he convinces her to keep quiet about the Senator, she won’t be a target any longer and Dimitri will back off on the hit. The plan falls apart and now they are dodging mafia enforcers, bullets, and Dimitri’s outrage.

Michael and Toni fight to stay alive and save those dearest to them as they also fall hopelessly in love.

This is book one in the Valesky Crime Family series and has an HEA.

Publisher’s Note: This contemporary dark mafia romance contains elements of mystery, suspense, action, adventure, adult themes, and possible triggers for some readers.

Add to Goodreads

Amazon * Google * Kobo * Books2Read * Blushing Books

Tina’s an Amazon and international bestselling novelist who writes passionate romance for every taste – ‘heat with heart’ – for traditional publishers and indie. Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, Romantic Times and numerous online sites have praised her work. She’s won Readers’ Choice Awards, was named a finalist in the EPIC competition, received a Book of the Year award, The Golden Nib Award, awards of merit in the RWA Holt Medallion competitions, and second place in the NEC RWA contests. She’s featured in the Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market. Before penning romances, she worked at a major Hollywood production company in Story Direction.

On a less serious note: she’s an admitted and unrepentant chocoholic, brakes for Mexican restaurants, and has been known to moan like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally while wolfing down tostadas. She’s flown a single-engine airplane (freaking scary), rewired an old house using an ‘electricity for dummies’ book, and is horribly shy despite the hot romances she writes.

Website * MeWe * Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

$15 Amazon

a Rafflecopter giveaway

An interview with Sarita Leone!

Thanks for being with us today, Sarita! First, would you tell us a bit about yourself?

I love happy endings—in life and on the page.

When I’m not busy writing, I practice and teach yoga. I also like to hike, travel, and dance beneath the stars. I study languages, love baking and cooking, and I can pack a suitcase in less time than it takes to peel an apple. I never say “no” to fun and absolutely plan to make every moment of this journey count.

Are you a coffee fiend, or do you have another “addiction” you must have on your desk at all times?

I enjoy a good cup of coffee, love some wonderful chai, but the one thing I have on my desk is M&Ms. It’s the go-to handful for when I’m contemplating a plot twist or wondering how a character will act. The childhood favorite sits in a jar on my desk and that’s a jar that gets refilled a lot when I’m writing on deadline!

How would you best describe your books?

I hope that my books are heartwarming romances. I love seeing ordinary people find love, especially when it comes with some sort of growth. When we step outside of ourselves and see the world and others in kinder, gentler ways, there’s so much opportunity for growth. Many of my books are set in different times in history, where there was potential for personal expansion. I hope that my books show that there’s room for romance and learning, both.

Tell us about your most recent publication.

Snickerdoodle Snowmen is part of The Wild Rose Press’ Christmas Cookie Series. It releases on November 3 and I’m so excited for this fun romance set in Alaska to come out!

The blurb:

Baker Kris Kringles sends snickerdoodles from North Pole, Alaska, across the globe, spreading holiday cheer like confetti. But she has a secret not dusted with sugar, and an incentive to speak with a slick journalist that isn’t half-baked.

Reporter Santos Kloss hates Christmas. How could he not, with a name that makes him the butt of endless holiday jokes? He’s got one last assignment to complete before he can begin a new chapter in his life, so he grits his teeth, grabs a parka, and heads to Christmas central.

Both expect the interview to be a snap, but a snowstorm, insistent sisters, and a little holiday magic have very different ideas!

What inspired you to write this story?

As soon as I heard about the call for submissions, I knew I had to write this story. I have to admit, I love baking and snickerdoodle snowmen are one of my favorite cookies, both to bake and eat!

Also, I love the Northern Lights. I’ve seen them a number of times from a few different locations, and I’m always mesmerized by the way the sky dances. So, I wanted to set a story beneath the Lights.

Add a couple of loving families, snowy encounters, and two characters who are completely not looking for love and I knew that this was a recipe for a happily-ever-after story. It was a blast to write, and I hope readers enjoy reading it.

What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today?

I think my favorite thing about this story is that it shows that people’s motivations aren’t always what we imagine them to be. Everyone has a story or something they’re dealing with, so it’s best if we all remember that and treat others with kindness. These characters both have a lot on their respective plates and hide that well. They come to the story with baggage that seems much lighter when they learn to share the load.

aurora borealis on the mountain

When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be an author. I think I wrote my first story in crayon (probably purple!) and I haven’t stopped since.

Do you belong to any writing groups?

I don’t belong to any formal writing groups, but I’m super fortunate to have a wonderful group of author friends. We chat, support each other, bounce ideas around, and honestly just share the writing journey. They are dear to me and I feel so grateful to have other authors as friends.

Is there any special music you like to listen to while writing?

I don’t generally listen to music while I’m writing. It makes it hard to hear the voices in my head, LOL.

To encourage those still on the path, tell us a little about your path to publication. How many books have you published? How many books did you write before selling one? What do you think was the key to selling that first book?

I don’t count the number of books published, so I can’t honestly answer that question. I sold the first book I wrote and haven’t looked back. I know that’s not everyone’s story, and I’m grateful that it happened that way for me.

I believe a lot of things factor in to selling a book and I don’t have any real idea of what the “one thing” might be. I just honestly believe that the best way to become published is to write. Then write some more. And then, write. Most of us improve with practice, no matter what it is we’re doing, so I think it’s important to practice writing the way you’d do with any other skill you’re taking on.

What are you writing now? What’s next for you—will you be making personal appearances anywhere our readers can find you?

I’ve written a few stories for The Wild Rose Press’ Wylder West Series. I love being a Wild Rose Press author and am having a great time writing for the series. I am currently working on a book called Wylder Promises. It’s a story about second chances and finding love with someone who thinks romance is part of their past, but not their future. I’m enjoying writing this wild west story. It’s such an interesting time in history and I get a kick out of researching the time period.

I am not making personal appearance at the present time. The pandemic still has me sticking close to home. In the future I do plan to do signings again and attend conferences, but just not yet.  

Anything else you would like to add?

Thank you so much for having me here today! It’s been a pleasure!

Links:

Snickerdoodle Snowmen (Christmas Cookies) – Kindle edition by Leone, Sarita. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

https://saritaleoneauthor.blogspot.com/

Amazon.com : sarita leone

Savage Bloodline October 2021 book tour!

October Theme:

A Month of #CoverReveals!

The DeLucas are impatient. Once a savage makes up his mind, there’s nothing you can do to stop him. None of them want to wait for March to introduce themselves. They’re ready to meet readers now!

Join the Savage Bloodline Readers’ Group from October 1st to 21st as they meet the DeLucas, a family of men who are masters of slaughter and seduction. Savage Bloodline authors will reveal their covers and tell you a few things about their DeLuca savage.

It’s time to meet the DeLuca Savages! Ready?

Book Info

Release Date: 3/15/22

ASIN- B092D9RGRW

Taglines

In the streets and in the sheets, there’s one word that describes them best. SAVAGE.

The men of the DeLuca family are proof that the bigger the alpha, the harder they fall… in love.

Buy Links

Universal Buy Link – https://books2read.com/SavageBloodlineBoxset

Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B092D9RGRW/

Nook – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/savage-bloodline-kenya-wright/1139270630

Apple – https://books.apple.com/us/book/savage-bloodline/id1561989851

About the Series

Darkness lurks behind their gazes. There’s something sinister about their smiles. Their name incites fear in their enemies. Their touch arouses passion in the women they love. They are the DeLucas. In the streets and in the sheets, there’s one word that describes them best. SAVAGE.

The men of the DeLuca family are proof that the bigger the alpha, the harder they fall… in love.

Download this exclusive anthology featuring 20+ BRAND NEW mafia romances to find out which DeLuca you will fall in love with. But first, you must ask yourself one question: Are you ready to give your heart and body to a savage?

Immerse yourself in this dangerously seductive collection that includes:

*Second-chance.

*Friends to lovers.

*Enemies to lovers.

*Billionaire.

*Arranged Marriages.

*And more!

What’s better than one hot savage? A family of them! Prepare to fall in love with the DeLuca crime family.

https://books2read.com/SavageBloodlineBoxset

Download the prequel, Brutal Bloodline, for Free: https://BookHip.com/PQVFCMB

#SavageBloodlineBoxset

Excerpt

Tears or Rain?

Someone was going to die tonight.

Someone’s life was going to end before the clock struck twelve. Midnight. Their death would be painful, brutal. No mercy would be shown to them. Anyone who tried to defend them, anyone who got in the way, they too would die. That was the promise Enzo DeLuca had made to his grandfather.

And it was a promise he intended to keep, even if he had to burn the entire city to the ground to do so. Before he could keep his pledge, he first had to bury their fallen. He had to say his final goodbye to the man who’d been more like a father than a grandfather to him. The man who’d raised him. The man who’d nurtured him. The man who’d shaped him into the person he was today.

To this man, he owed his life. For this man, tonight, he was going to take a life. Rain fell in sheets on that cold and dreary January day in Bari, Italy. It was as if even mother nature was mourning the loss of Ermanno Deluca. Unlike most of those around him, Enzo DeLuca refused to stand under the shield of an umbrella.

He wanted to feel the cold rain against his skin. He wanted it to drip down his face like tears. Tears he refused to shed. There would be no crying for him. Not yet. Not until he’d kept his promise to his grandfather. Not until he’d put a bullet in the heart of the bastard responsible for the pain the DeLuca family was feeling today.

Perhaps this rain was a parting gift from his grandfather, who knew Enzo would not feel worthy of crying over his death, not until the person responsible was dead too. Enzo refused to allow his grandfather’s body to grow cold in the earth while his killer lived life to the fullest, making money, eating, sleeping, fucking, living as if he hadn’t caused the death of a Don. As if he hadn’t taken the patriarch of the DeLuca family away from them.

He refused to allow the DeLuca name to be made weak by the actions of a coward. Though he’d yet to kill the person responsible, those who knew Enzo knew that the coward was a dead man walking. A zombie. He could see, he could feel, he could hear, but he was already dead. There was already a bullet chosen for him.

A bullet blessed by his grandfather before he’d taken his final breath and left Enzo to deal with the chaos the coward had created. Yes, the coward was still moving around in the world of the living, but he was on borrowed time. And that time would expire tonight. It had taken Enzo a few days, but he now knew who the killer was and where to find him.

A life for a life. That was the code they lived by. The bastard would pay for his sins with his life. Not only because of the promise Enzo had made his grandfather but also to prove to their enemies that the DeLuca family was still a family of savages. Under his grandfather’s rule, they’d been nicknamed savage gentleman by some.

They kept to themselves and handled their business as gentlemen, Men of Honor. But when fucked with, they revealed just how brutal their bloodline was, how ruthless their organization was. He knew other families were watching and waiting to see if they’d live up to that title. They were watching to see if they would fall apart or rise up now that Ermanno DeLuca was no longer around.

It wasn’t only their enemies who were watching them. Members of the family were also paying close attention. Today, family members from all around the world were attending the funeral of their Don. Yet, half of them hadn’t shown their faces in Italy in years. They’d moved away and only returned home for funerals and weddings.

Some didn’t even come for that. Yet, they’d come for the funeral of Don DeLuca. Not out of respect, love, or loyalty. They came to see if there would be drama and to see if the passing of the title would cause chaos amongst the organization. Already there was speculation of who the new Don would be.

Whispers of who some wanted it to be had already reached Enzo’s ears. Whispering and talking behind backs were actions of weak men. Enzo liked to handle things face to face. And those who were whispering behind his back would soon have to face him. There was another group of people who’d come to the funeral. His grandfather always referred to people like them as vultures.

They were the ones who’d shown up so they could sidle up to the new Leader and try to get on his good side early so they could make requests of him later. Then there were those who were happy the old Don was dead. They were there to verify it for themselves and to silently gloat that they’d outlived Ermanno DeLuca.

If Enzo could, he’d put a bullet in all those who felt that way. Then he’d bury them underneath his grandfather’s grave so that he could rest in peace the same way he’d lived, with his enemies beneath his feet. As Enzo stared around him, he noted that there was one last group of people present. The loyal.

They were the ones who’d truly come to pay their respects to their fallen Leader. Ermanno DeLuca had been hated by many but loved by more. He’d been a fair Don, who’d steered the organization away from wars and into alliances that benefited them. Some had been happy with the changes he’d made. Others had wanted to go back to the old ways.

They wanted to go back to the old days. The days when organizations fought against organizations regularly to prove who was the more ruthless, to prove who should be the king of the streets. Don DeLuca had won that war and claimed that title. He’d found no need to fight continuously.

However, there were some who’d enjoyed the wars, the chaos, the death, and destruction. It was true. The wars had led to the respect their organization and family enjoyed today. It led to them becoming the most feared family in Italy. The name, DeLuca, was feared and respected worldwide. Yet, the wars hadn’t only brought them glory.

It had brought death and destruction to so many of their people. A lot of blood and tears had been shed for them to hold the position they held today. The Don had taught Enzo to respect those who’d died so that he could stand where he stood. He’d told Enzo not to let those blood and tears be shed in vain.

Some of the family didn’t feel the same way. The problem was determining the motives of those around him. It was hard to tell who was for you and who was against you at a time like this. How was he to know who was crying and who wasn’t? Tears or rain? That was the guessing game he was playing. And he was losing.

The voice of his right-hand man, Stefano Masiello, sounded over the comm-link in his ear. “Enzo, after the funeral, you must go to the reception. You have to show your face there. We all do. As soon as the funeral is over, we can head there.”

Enzo was impatient. He didn’t give a damn about a reception. If he could, he’d skip the entire event. It would only be a bunch of motherfuckers, smiling in his face, telling him stories of the old days and things Don DeLuca had done. He’d heard those stories. He’d seen those smiles. Why the fuck did he need to see and hear them again?

“Nod if you agree, Enzo.”

His gaze darted to the other side of the burial site where Stefan stood. He knew Stefan was only looking out for him. He knew he needed to attend the reception to keep up appearances. However, there were more important things he needed to do. He wouldn’t be able to rest until his fingers were coated with the blood of his enemy.

He wouldn’t be able to rest until his grandfather was avenged and the entire world knew it. But the reception was not something he could skip. Therefore, he nodded. A shadow crept overhead, and the chill of the rain ceased descending upon him. From the corner of his eye, he saw his cousin, Vito DeLuca, stepping forward, holding an umbrella.

“The rain is getting harder,” Vito told him.

“I know.”

“But you don’t care, right?”

Enzo nodded. Vito sighed. Both men stood there, silent once more as they listened to the preacher.

“Sorry, I got here late,” Vito apologized.

“At least you came. Some did not. They will pay the penalty.”

“Not everyone was as close to Grandfather as you and I.”

“But we’re all of his blood. And we’re all supposed to come home when we’re called.”

“You’re right. Family is family. We’re bound together by blood. When needed, we must come.”

“You sound like Grandfather.”

“That’s because those are his words. I’m going to miss our monthly chats over the phone.”

“When did you last talk to him?”

“A week before he was shot. If I’d known then what I do now, I would’ve stayed on the phone with him longer.”

Like his cousin, he’d also been playing the ‘If I’d known game’. If he’d known what he knew now, he would’ve spent more time with his grandfather. He would’ve made time to travel with him.

Every time the Don mentioned taking a trip to the States, Enzo’s excuse was always that he was too busy. He’d give anything to take that trip with him now. Enzo swallowed the lump of aguish rising from within him. No tears. Not yet. It wasn’t time.

Facing Vito, he asked, “What were Grandfather’s last words to you?”

“He told me to always remain true to what I believe in. He told me that he trusted me to do what was right for the family, even if it wasn’t of popular opinion.”

“Grandfather talked about you a lot. He liked the road you’d chosen. He said we needed more men like you to keep us on the right path.”

For a while, neither of them said a word. Then Vito asked, “What were his last words to you?”

The Don’s last words to Enzo were much different from what he’d said to Vito. That was because he expected something different from Enzo. Though the weight of his Grandfather’s expectations of him was heavy, Enzo wouldn’t let him down, and he wouldn’t fold under the pressure.

He’d do exactly as he was told. His eyes were glued to the casket as it was lowered into the ground. Goodbye Grandfather. Rest in peace, Don Ermanno DeLuca. No crying. It still wasn’t time for that yet.

“Enzo,” Vito called to him. “What were Grandfather’s last words to you?”

As the casket disappeared, Enzo responded. “He told me to remind them of who we are.”

Savages.

Series Authors

Kenya Wright, Amarie Avant, Xavier Neal, Keta Kendric, Sonja B, LeTeisha Newton, Courtney Dean, L Loren, Sage Young, M’Renee Allen, Tiye, Shani Greene-Dowdell, Tamika Brown, Lyndell Williams, Imani Jay, Siera London, PE Kavanagh, Cassie Verano, Amaya Black, Theresa Hodge, Kasey Martin, Lola Joy

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