I had to bring her back. Her story wasn't finished. The ride was only half done. I've never done a sequel before. Always said I wouldn't, because once I finish a book, the characters whose lives I toyed with disappear to be quickly replaced by new characters. But Lisette. She just wouldn't leave me alone. She walked up to me two years ago when I was sitting in the cafÃ© at Barnes & Noble (always to the left of the register, with a cup of tea or a vanilla latte in front of me), and told me that she was a
. Then she sat down and refused to get up until her story was told. Well . . . I thought that it had been told. Before she finally got up and walked away, she neglected to tell me that she was going to come back to tell me more.
She's a trip. I have to be honest . . . I missed her. I think she missed me too. That's why she came back to give me the second part of her adventure. She may not admit it, but I think she has strong feelings for me. So there I was at Barnes & Noble again (same side, same drinks) when she walked in, pulled up a chair, sat down, and told me that I was going to need a lot of paper for what she had to tell me next.
Eye for an Eye
. . . If you haven't read
, you need to. It will make this tale that much more potent. This book was by far one of the most enjoyable for me to write! Readers . . . By now you should be used to the fact that I am giving you darker, more intense, more dramatic, more erotic, and more suspenseful storylines. So you know that before you flip the page to page one, you should be expecting to read
on speed, with a side of crazy and deranged. If Lisette was going to come back for you all, there simply was no way for me not to up the ante tenfold. And trust me . . . I have done that!
God . . . you gave me a talent and I will forever be appreciative of it. That's one of the reasons I try my hardest to improve. You want us to strive to be the best. That's why you put us here. We are all indebted to you.
My wife, Wendy, and my rugrats, Tati, Nati, and X . . . Thank you for understanding when I leave the house to go and create! And thank you for being all the inspiration I need. My family (in-laws included) . . . I love you guys! Aleah . . . So great to know that you are a fan! My friends . . . Too many to name, but you know! Marc Gay (You know you want to be a Giants fan)!
To my agent, Portia Cannon . . . Thank you as always for doing all that you do! Let's make that push to the next level. Speaking of which, Victoria Christopher Murray . . . Having your support is an honor. You have no idea how timely our initial phone call was. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kind words!
Big thank you to the crew at Barnes & Noble. Kelsey, Sara, Esias, etc. . . . I know mine isn't the prettiest face to see first thing in the morning, but I guess it could be worse! LOL. Thanks for the vanilla lattes, the Mountain Dews, and the hot water refills!
To the readers and book clubs (and, yes, PeaceInPages, this means you!) . . . I cannot thank you all enough for the way you have joined me on this ride. Thank you, everyone, for being behind
the way that you all were. I'm so glad to know that you were willing to accept the change! As for this tale, you all are every bit as responsible as Lisette was for this tale being told. It has truly been amazing to know and hear how much you all wanted her back. There are so many of you to thank that I can't put everyone's name because I know I will miss some (I already had one book club hang me by my toes for that, ahem, PeaceInPages LOL!), but believe me, I am soooo completely appreciative of you all.
Eye for an Eye
is going to spark insane discussions! I can't wait to meet with you again! To my MySpace and FB peeps . . . Wow . . . Thank you for reaching out, giving feedback, joining my fan page, and spreading the word. If I could include everyone's name I would, but again, I need the rest of my toes! But trust me, you all are very important to me. It is truly gratifying to know that my hard work and determination to entertain is felt by you guys. I compete with myself with each novel I do, but part of my driving force is also my desire to give you all something different, something that you can't put down. A million thanks for letting me know that I accomplish that goal. Please keep the messages, wall posts, e-mails, and reviews coming! And be ready . . . I'm bringing more craziness, more darkness, more mystery, and suspense. I hope you all continue to join me on the ride!
To Nancy Silvas, Jocelyn Lawson, Melinda Mooneyhan, PÃ©ron F. Long, Portia Cannon, Wendy . . . Thanks for every bit of feedback you gave as I wrote
Eye for an Eye
Eric Pete, La Jill Hunt, PÃ©ron F. Long, Anna J. . . . You know we have work to do!
Finally . . . my G-Men. It was a disappointing '09 season, but I know we will be back! Steve Smith . . . I see you on FB, kid! Big Blue for LIFE! Much love!
Dwayne S. Josephâhere still at Barnes & Noble. Come by and have a latte sometime.
Playing from my iPod in the living room.
“Amado Mio” by Pink Martini.
I leaned my head back. Listened to the melody. Felt my skin tingle. The breakdown was coming. My skin always tingled when it did.
Like sex, the song was that good. That sexy. That intense. That powerful. If there were a movie about me, this would be my theme song.
I closed my eyes.
Ran my hands up my thighs, past my stomach, over my erect nipples, to my neck, then back down again.
I was wet from the hot water covering me. I was dripping from the melodic orgasm Pink Martini and their groove had caused. Every woman needs to own a copy of this song.
It was the perfect size. The prefect width. The perfect stroke.
To hell with a dick. Just put this song on repeat.
There was no ringing in the song.
I opened my eyes and looked over to my right. My BlackBerry was on the rim of my tub, ringing softly, the volume set at level two. I sighed. I was in mid-stroke, nearing self-fulfilled ecstasy. I should have turned the damn thing off.
I reached over and grabbed it with my fingers wet from the water and my pussy. A Friday night, nearing nine-thirty. Aida followed the rules. Only one other person who didn't.
I connected the call and placed the BlackBerry against my ear. “Marlene.”
“We have a potential client.”
I exhaled. “It's Friday night, Marlene.”
“I know I'm not supposed to call.”
“Yet you did.”
“I'm sorry, butâ”
“Friday nights are off limits.”
Marlene sighed apologetically. I could see her running her hands through her hair. She said, “I know. I tried not to call, but she sounds desperate. She wants to know if you'll help her tonight.”
In the background, “Amado Mio” had finished and was restarting. I'd heard the song thousands of times, but each time was like hearing it for the first time. I hated missing any of the song. “Give it to Aida.”
“You've given the last three clients to her.”
“And she's done well with them.”
“It's been four months since you've taken a client on.”
“Lisette . . .” Marlene paused momentarily. I could tell she was trying to choose her words carefully. “I know I've asked you this before, but are you sure you're all right? Believe me, you are the strongest person I know, but after everything you went through with Kyra . . . I would understand if you were a bit scarred.”
I closed my eyes and shook my head.
Almost a year ago, she'd taken me to the edge. She thought she'd been on my level. Thought she'd been better than me.
She'd been wrong.
But she had taken me to the edge.
She'd caused things to happen. Things that kept me from getting a full night's sleep. Things that had me on edge. Things that had indeed scarred me. Of course, I would never admit it to anyone. Marlene had seen me at my weakest point and that would be all she would ever see.
I said, “I'm fine.”
“Lisette . . . I know you don't like to admit it, but you are human.”
“I'm fine,” I said again.
Marlene wouldn't let up. “She had you beaten and raped. I don't know anyone who can go through that and remain unscathed.”
“I said I'm fine, Marlene.”
“Then why haven't you taken on any clients, Lisette?”
I clenched my jaw.
Two years ago, I became a home wrecker: a woman hired by wives to “ruin” their marriages. They sought my services for various reasons. Some were women who'd become fed up with their husbands' infidelity. They wanted evidence to use against them to help garner the best payoff possible. Some women were victims of emotional, physical, or verbal abuse who felt trapped and saw my “expertise” as a means of escape. Other women weren't seeking an escape or a big payday. They just wanted leverage. Something to hold over their husbands' heads so that they could do whatever the hell they wanted to do. Pictures, videos, sometimes the satisfaction of walking in and seeing their cheating bastards in compromising situationsâwhatever they wanted, I provided.
Marlene had been my first client. A fear of scrutiny from her friends and family kept her hostage in a marriage to a pathetic asshole. I gave Marlene the same thing I gave my clients after herâthe very thing that I got off on.
Marlene and all of the other clients had none. That meant they had no power. I'd learned a long time ago that life without control wasn't life at all. Life without control was death. Life without control just didn't make any sense to me. Before I helped her, Marlene was weak. She changed when she got control back.
Kyra had managed to take my control away from me. She'd managed to render me powerless. Although I'd never told her directly, Marlene's newfound strength had been what pulled me away from the edge of the insanity I'd been teetering on. Before my services, Marlene had been an acquaintance. Now . . . she was a friendâmy only real friendâand despite the fact that I never called her that, she knew it, and I appreciated her for that.
“For the last time . . . I'm fine,” I said. “I haven't been in the mood to take on any clients.”
“Give the client to Aida.”
Marlene was silent for a moment before sighing and saying, “OK.”
“I'm going to go back and enjoy my Friday night now.”
“Are you listening to your song again?”
“Can I ask you something?”
I pressed down on my eyeballs with the middle finger and thumb of my free hand. I exhaled. “What?”
“That song . . . it's about love. Why do you like it so much?”
I opened my eyes and looked toward the living room. The breakdown in the song was coming again.
It was a valid question.
I didn't believe in any of the song's lyrics, yet the song resonated and stoked a fire inside of me more than anything else had. It didn't make sense.
“I don't know, Marlene,” I said. “I just do.”
“Love is possible, Lisette. I know you're jaded and don't believe in it, but it is possible. Trust me, after all of the bullshit with Steve, I was prepared to swear off of it forever too, but just when I was ready to do that, Michael came into my life.”
I groaned. I really didn't want to hear any of her sappy shit.
“Marlene . . .”
“I'm just saying, Lisette, what you do . . . the men you trap . . . not all of them are assholes. There are some decent ones out there. As much as you think there not, if you try to leave your door cracked open just a little bit, you'll see the right guy can come along and it could be a beautiful thing.”
I clenched my jaw. Friend or not, I'd had enough. I said, “I don't do love, Marlene,” and then I ended the call and turned my BlackBerry off. “Shit.”
The bath water had grown tepid. I'd missed another replay of “Amado Mio.”
I was irritated.
I turned the hot water faucet on, leaned my head back, closed my eyes, and put my focus back on the song that had no real relevance in my life. At least not in my current one.
A song about being in love forever.
Listened to the song.
And as hard as I tried not to, I went back to a time I'd let go of a long time ago.