Escaping Trouble: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MF8ANZV
Saving Zoe: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B014Q5GG0W
Angel or Devil in Disguise?
CHAPTER PREVIEW: Escaping Trouble by Eva Winters (Sample Chapter) The horrible sound of breaking dishes shattering on the floor rang out. “Dammit.” Isabel leaned over to pick up the large pieces of broken crockery. “What’s wrong?” Isabel nodded in the direction of one of the patrons. “Oh,” Cynthia said, looking over at the guy sitting at the corner table. “Please…can you go take his order?” “Sorry, sweetie…not this time. I already have two waiting,” Cynthia said as she placed the dirty dishes from the tables she’d just cleared on the counter, and wiped her hands on her apron. “Just take a deep breath and get it together.” She picked up two trays and walked off but not before giving Isabel a quick wink and whispering, “You can handle it, sunshine; just don’t let him see you sweat.” Isabel sighed. Heeding Cynthia’s advice, she took in a few breaths and prepared herself for the stroll over to his table. She didn’t know what was worse, him watching her walk over or knowing he’d watch her walk away. She cleared her throat and shifted her waist apron but just when she’d built up the nerve to move, Cynthia was back. “Really, you’re still here? Just go already. You know if anyone else tries to take his order, he’ll just ask for you anyway. Truth be told, I don’t know why he even wastes his time with you when he can have me,” Cynthia said pulling her shoulders back and glancing down at her cleavage. “You’re such a whore.” “Sometimes…but you still love me. Anyway, you know I’m only kidding. “Now get it together so we can get out of here.” Honestly, she never could figure out how she and Cynthia had become such close friends. They were like night and day, but Cynthia had a good heart and had been there for her during some tough times. She was a couple of years older than Isabel but you wouldn’t be able to tell by the way she behaved. Making friends wasn’t a problem; everyone liked her, especially men. She was the very definition of a diva. Confident, attractive, fun, and witty; she had it all. Cynthia had her own classy/sassy style and it worked for her. “Reveal just enough to reel them in,” was a statement she often said and one she lived by. If it didn’t cling to her body or accent her curves, she wasn’t wearing it. She definitely was an attention seeker and drama queen, but Isabel loved her all the same. Isabel on the other hand, was quite the opposite. Her wardrobe was very basic, consisting of mostly active wear. Being so focused on her studies, she rarely dated. She just wanted to finish school and move out of her parents’ house. Making their problems her problems, drove her crazy. Neither of them ever took fault for anything, but instead, blamed each other for everything. Too often, she was caught in the middle of their arguments, with her father storming out leaving her there alone, to deal with her mother’s wrath. She had a mother who was a nympho. And her father she suspected was dealing with their family issues by engaging in his own hush-hush affairs. Reaching inside her apron, she grabbed a napkin and patted her face. Cynthia was right, the sooner she took his order, the sooner they could leave. Isabel muscled up enough nerves to walk over to the table. His gaze pierced through her and she hated it. By the time she made it to where he was seated, she could barely make eye contact. “Hi. Are you ready to order?” He leaned back in his seat, looking her over from head to toe, pausing for a few seconds before speaking. “For a minute there, I thought you were avoiding me.” “No, just a little busy. Sorry it took so long. So, what will you be having this evening?” “What would you recommend?” “It depends on what you like.” Isabel was very familiar with this routine. Every time he ordered, he pretended not to know what was on the menu. She knew it was just his way of consuming her time but considering she was always a ball of nerves whenever she served him, she’d always keep the chatting at a minimum. He was very handsome but everything about him screamed playboy. Thinking about it, Cynthia was right. Why would he be interested in a plain-Jane like her when she was in the same room? “Well if that’s the case, what I’d like is to have your number.” Isabel cleared her throat, trying to ignore the tightening of her stomach muscles. “Excuse me?” “Can I call you sometime?” Not bothering to respond, she passed him a menu. “Here. Take a look, and let me know when you’re ready.” She turned to walk away and was taken back when he pulled her arm. “What are you doing?” Isabel asked, shuffling back a step as she glanced down at his hand gripping her. “Let go.” “Sorry. I was just letting you know I was ready to order.” Reaching inside her apron’s pocket, she removed the guest check pad and a pencil. “Go ahead.” “Let me have a number five, hold the pickles and instead of fries, I’ll take onion rings. And substitute the soda with a shake,” he said, smiling slyly and handing Isabel the menu back. He was certainly a flirt; his remarks were always flattering, yet there was something about him that made her feel a little uneasy. “It’ll be about ten minutes.” “Thank you very much.” “Sure.” Dreading the walk back because of how attentive he was, Isabel stopped to clear a table. It was either that or risk tripping all over herself going back to the order drop off counter. Cynthia met her, and they both put orders on a tray for the cook. She leaned toward Isabel, brushing against her arm while whispering in her ear. “Okay, girl, I saw that.” “Saw what? And move, I’m mad at you, remember?” Isabel moved her arm back, playfully avoiding Cynthia’s touch. “Don’t play, I saw him grab your arm. Stop pretending. You know he’s hitting on you again. I don’t know why, but he is. Anyway, I know you’re into him. Shit, all the girls in here like him. So, what’s the problem?” “Maybe I’m just not interested.” “Why? He’s good looking, drives a nice car, and he’s sexy as hell. What’s not to like?” “Did you see how he grabbed my arm?” “What? You’ve got to be kidding. He grabbed your arm not your ass. To me that’s the sign of a true gentleman,” she said, cracking a smile. Cynthia’s logic was far different from Isabel’s but she was more experienced when it came to men. Maybe Isabel was reading too much into the whole arm grabbing thing. “You’re sick, you know that right.” “Say what you like. I just know more than you do about men. Anyway, come out with me tonight. It’ll be fun. I’ll do your hair and makeup, and I’ll even let you wear some of my clothes.” Isabel stepped back, placed her hand on her hip, while giving Cynthia a quick stare down. “You know what, no but thank you. If I wanted to go out, I could do my own hair and makeup, and you wouldn’t be picking out my clothes. And besides, you know clubbing’s not my thing.” “What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?” Cynthia said pulling down her shirt to show even more cleavage as if she didn’t have enough on display. “I don’t know why I’m even talking to you. We both know who’s teaching who here. Anyway, your order is up, so go serve your man.” “Come on, Cynthia, you know I love you. Please go deal with him.” “Nope! Not today. You better go get him, girl. And he’s watching, too.” Cynthia said peeping over Isabel’s shoulder. “Shit, now you’ve got me even more tense.” “See, I knew you liked him ‘cause if you didn’t, you wouldn’t be so jumpy,” Cynthia said before poking her on the arm and strolling off to service her customer. Maybe her instincts were wrong about this guy, Traubel. And what kind of name was Traubel anyway? But he did apologize for grabbing her and he was always polite. Still, there was something about him; a certain overly confident demeanor. Isabel generally avoided trouble but in this case she was drawn to it. Her instincts and body were on opposing sides and her body was winning. Other than the few dates she’d had with Matthew, she’d only had one real boyfriend in the past, and they’d broken up after he realized she wouldn’t put out. Still, if she decided to give in to her interest, her parents would never go for it. Regardless of her age, they were very controlling; particularly her mother. Being eighteen and four months away from graduation meant nothing to her. It was the 80’s for God’s sake but getting them to okay her working at the diner was hard enough. They’d only agreed because it was her last year of high school, and it would be a good way to save up money for college. How they managed to keep such close tabs on her was a complete mystery, considering how messed up their own lives were. Only four more months, and she’d be free from her mother’s clutches. “Here you go.” Isabel’s palms were sweating. Nervous feelings were getting the best of her. “Thank you. Here, I have something for you.” Isabel gazed at the little box he placed on the table. It was beautiful. “Are you serious? Why would you give me a gift? I’m a stranger to you.” “Well, you’re not really a stranger when you consider how much I know about you. Like, I know your name is Isabel; you’re graduating from high school soon, and you like wearing flowers in your hair, particularly roses. Anyway, it’s nothing much, just open it.” Now instead of being just uneasy, she was also flustered and anxious. Isabel wiped her hands on her apron before reaching for the little box. It was a bracelet with a locket featuring the Blessed Virgin Mary on the top and housing a watch on the inside. The inscription on the back read, “Isabel, Class of 1982.” “This is very lovely but I can’t accept it.” It was the most beautiful and unique gift she’d ever received. She wanted to keep it but knew it would have been inappropriate to do so. Too, she didn’t want to have to explain where she’d gotten it from. “You can. You just don’t want to. There’s a difference.” “Look, it’s a nice gesture but I really can’t. Thank you.” Isabel placed the watch on the table and walked away. Flattery had overcome her. She knew Cynthia would be somewhere watching everything, and it would only make her feel worse. It was like the girl had an extra pair of eyes. Struggling to gain control of her feelings, she went into the restroom to splash water on her face. It wasn’t long before Cynthia came in behind her. Isabel smacked her lips before murmuring under her breath. “What was that?” “He gave me a watch.” “And you gave it back? I swear you need to hang out with me more. Haven’t I taught you anything?” “Yes, I gave it back, and I don’t want to discuss it. I just want to forget about it.” Cynthia walked behind Isabel and placed her hands on her shoulders, initiating a gentle massage. “Friend…relax and breathe. He’s just a man, and you interact with them every day. If you want me to, I’ll give him his bill.” Isabel turned to hug Cynthia. “Thanks, Cyn. I owe you.” “Yes you do, and I’m adding it to your tab.” When the two went back out, Traubel was gone. Isabel went over to clean the area where he’d been seated and found a twenty-dollar bill—which was way over the cost of his meal—the box with the watch, and a note on a napkin. Consider it a tip. Good night, Isabel. **** The banging on the door was extremely loud. “Police! Open the door!” There was a brief pause before the door was rammed and knocked off the hinges but not before a woman was thrown out the window, possibly to create a distraction. Two of the squad members rushed to her. “We need a medical unit out here. We have one injured with severe cuts and bruises and possibly more!” One of the agents spoke into the radio located on the shoulder of his vest as he knelt over the woman. Her face was bruised badly, and there were pieces of glass chips lodged in her skin. They’d received a tip from an informant, and now narcotics Special Agent Navarro and his team prepared to make their entrance. The home was stationed in a prestigious neighborhood, where mostly upper-class citizens resided. It had been under watch before, but political ties had made it almost impossible to get a search warrant. The guy they were after was actively involved in the sponsorship of many local and regional politicians. Additionally, Garcia contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to support nonprofit organizations who sheltered abused women and children. They rushed into the home of Tidas Serrano, the son of notorious drug lord Javier Garcia. Garcia was careful, making few public appearances. But according to Navarro’s informant, his son was a reckless risk taker, who’d recently been released from rehab and now headed up his own illegal businesses. They could never be prepared for what they encountered. Going from room to room, securing the downstairs area of the home before moving on to the second level. Word was his son, Tidas was laid up there. “I need help down here!” One of the swat team members had found four unconscious girls in the basement. One was foaming at the mouth and had been badly beaten up. He went around checking for pulses. “They’re alive but barely.” He called for more help. “We need more emergency units at 2150 Barrington Lane. We have four female victims in really bad condition.” The operator responded, indicating help was on the way. Meanwhile, other squad members had split into groups, continuing to search the premises. “Shhh.” Agent Navarro stilled and pointed, listening in the direction where soft whimpers were coming from. Approaching a closed door with his gun in hand, he was caught off guard when it suddenly opened. A man rushed out with a lit cigarette in his mouth and a cigarette lighter in his hand. He held a young female hostage who was wet and smelled of gasoline. “Let her go.” Navarro stood still, following the assailant’s movements as he used the woman as a shield. “Stay back, man. I swear, I’ll set her ass on fire,” the guy warned Navarro as he moved toward the door. “I mean it. Stay the fuck back!” “No one is following you. Just let the girl go.” “She goes wherever I go.” “You do know this place is surrounded?” “Do you know who I am?” the guy said as he continued to approach the front exit. “Your face being covered won’t help you. Touch me, you die.” Another agent had closed in on the home from the side. The assailant’s head shifted back and forth as he struggled to keep track of both agents’ movements. Tears, streaming down her cheeks, the young woman closed her eyes tightly, holding on to his arm to lessen the choking grip around her neck. “Let’s talk deals, man. You let her go, and we let you live.” The guy laughed. Navarro’s gun went off, and the hostage taker fell to the ground with the woman in tow. He quickly secured the victim, stomping viciously on the cigarette that had fallen from the assailant’s mouth and kicked the lighter away. Another fellow agent cuffed him none too gently. The guy hollered out when he was placed in handcuffs—the gunshot to the shoulder must have hurt like a bitch. “We need help in the basement. I think they’ve overdosed.” Navarro and another agent charged downstairs. “Sylvia!” Navarro rushed over and grabbed the girl foaming at the mouth. “You know her?” “Man, she’s my sister,” he yelled. **** A week later, Navarro stood in his SAC’s—Special Agent in Charge’s office in disbelief, after being told the guy they’d arrested would likely not face any charges. He’d gone to the hospital for the gunshot wound to the shoulder, but it was just a flesh wound. A day later he’d been discharged and placed under arrest but had been released on bail within forty-eight hours. Some hotshot attorney had come to his defense. Navarro knew without a doubt this guy would be the link to taking down Tidas Serrano. From the looks of things, he wasn’t just some two-bit criminal—he was well-connected and knew people in high places. “That was possibly our one chance to catch Serrano in the act. Obviously your informant got his facts wrong because he wasn’t there, so we may not have a case.” “Are you kidding me? I don’t care if it wasn’t Serrano. The guy was using a woman as a shield. I’m telling you, he’s connected. He was going to set her on fire. If that’s not enough to keep someone in jail, I don’t know what is.” “Look, Navarro, you know how these things work. We were able to get the warrant only because we had your informant saying Serrano would be there, and he was our witness. Without him, we don’t have much of a case. Probable cause wouldn’t cut it for another warrant. And as for the guy you shot, I’m not sure how he fits into all this but he sure as hell isn’t Serrano. Unless the girl he was holding hostage is willing to testify, we can’t do anything, especially since your informant has suddenly disappeared.” “But I was there; I saw it all go down.” “No, what you saw was him holding a girl with a cigarette in his mouth and a cigarette lighter in one hand. You didn’t see him pour the gasoline on her, and she’s saying she wasn’t being held against her will.” Navarro couldn’t just drop the case. One woman had died and three were laid up in ICU, one of them his sister. All of this couldn’t be for nothing. “That’s bullshit. You and I both know it. She’s just scared.” “It doesn’t matter. Besides, I can tell you the case won’t go any further. The girl who you’re speaking of, the hostage, she’s a judge’s daughter. I’m sure he doesn’t want this to get out. I’m sorry, but my hands are tied.” “What about Sylvia?” Navarro said hesitantly in a low voice. “Excuse me? I don’t think so.” “Why not?” “I don’t know, maybe because she’s a junkie. Or perhaps because she’s unconscious! Maybe because the girl has already been through enough, not to mention she’s your goddamn sister and you want her to testify against notorious criminals. You pick one.” It was a low moment for him and perhaps he was too desperate. Suggesting his sister be subjected to further distress and possibly risking her life, he definitely wasn’t thinking clearly. Though, he’d said it, he knew he could never go through with it even if she was able to testify. “Are we done here?” he asked Special Agent in Charge Jamison. “I think we are. And I suggest you get your act together.” Author Bio:Eva lives in a small town outside of Houston Texas but is a Native of New Orleans Louisiana. Being from a city filled with culture, she brings to the table a certain undeniable realness to her works of fiction. She enjoys spending time with her very supportive husband, two kids and her Yorkie Babies who she refers to as her minis. Being a computer geek, she does almost everything by way of the internet. She more than enjoys writing and staying in touch with each of her characters as their lives progress (even behind the scenes). She loves creating complex characters who whose lives are filled with drama. Although her works are fiction, many of the stories she creates are based on actual events, each containing suspense, romance, a bit of humor (sometimes), and action. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Management and worked as an independent business owner for years before giving it up to pursue her passion for writing, fulltime. She’s never looked back.
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