Here are excerpts from my clean Romanic Suspense novel Baker's Dozen on sale $2.99 until May 25th. Buy here.
Hugh Donaldson is an undercover agent. But for who, that is the question.
The tattooed man slapped his hand on the counter and leaned toward her, pointing to a sticker on the bag of chips. “The price tag says two forty-nine, not three forty-nine. Are you stupid or something?” he said.
The young clerk’s face flushed red as she realized her mistake. “I’m sorry. I’m not sure how the mix-up happened. Let me void the transaction.”
She fumbled through the keys at the computer. The man sighed and set his foot down heavily.
“I’m sorry,” the cashier said again. She squinted at the screen, fully absorbed, her fingers unsure, as she typed on the keyboard.
While the clerk was distracted, the man lifted a pack of gum from below the counter and slid it into his pocket. “This is taking too long. Just forget it,” he said. “I don’t need the chips.”
“I got it,” she said at last, tossing a strand of hair behind her ear and ringing up the chips again. “It worked.”
“About time,” the man said, plopping down some cash.
The clerk handed him his change.
“Idiot,” he said, not quite under his breath, as he left.
When Hugh stepped up to the counter, he laid down his two hot dogs. “Want him to pay for that?” he asked.
She glanced up from ringing up the hot dogs, her face still red. “For what?”
“He just stole a pack of gum. You want him to come back and pay for it?”
The clerk smiled and nodded her head. “Yeah!”
“I’ll be right back.”
“I’ll be right back.”
“Who are you the police or something?”
But Hugh was already out the door. He approached the man as he opened his car. “Hey, you going to pay for the pack of gum?”
The man opened the door and arched an eyebrow at Hugh. “Excuse me?”
“You lifted a pack of gum inside. And I think you owe the clerk an apology. You were rather rude.”
“Not going to happen.” The man ducked into his red Camaro. Hugh caught his door before he could close it. The man yanked at the door.
Hugh held firm. “You will go in, pay for the gum, and apologize to the store clerk.”
The man jumped to his feet and puffed out his chest as he faced Hugh. “You gonna make me?” He whipped out a gun from his waistband. He pointed it four inches from Hugh’s nose.
Hugh smiled slightly, amused. “A gun? You think you’re going to shoot me? I only asked you to do the right thing.” In a flash, Hugh knocked the gun from the man’s hand and joint locked his arm, forcing him down, immobilizing him. Still controlling the man’s arm, Hugh trapped his face against the black tar of the parking lot with his foot. “Are you going to apologize?”
Before he could answer, sirens blared and blue and red lights of two police cars splashed over Hugh and his captive. The store clerk approached him. “I didn’t know what to do so I called the police,” she said.
“Brilliant,” Hugh said under his breath, lifting the thug from off the ground.
“What’s going on here?” the first cop asked, approaching with caution unsure who was the good guy and who was the bad guy. Hugh released the thug to two officers but a third grabbed Hugh. The clerk hurried over, talking fast.
“The other guy pulled a gun on this guy,” she said, pointing first to the man and then to Hugh.
“Yeah?” the officer said. He opened a pad of paper and wrote down what the clerk said. “Why’d he threaten you with a gun?” he asked Hugh.
Hugh sort of shrugged, still held by the officer.
“He was a real hero,” the clerk continued with shining eyes. “First, he spotted the man shoplifting a pack of gum, but then when he confronted him, the other guy pulled out a gun. This guy disarmed him completely.”
The officer turned to Hugh, eyebrows raised. “He lifted a pack of gum, and you were going to stop him?”
Hugh gave him a short nod.
One of the other cops interrupted the questioning after they cuffed the man and escorted him to the back of the police car. “Looks like we picked up a winner. Driving a stolen vehicle, has four warrants for his arrest here in Missouri. Two in Illinois.”
The interrogating officer returned to Hugh. “I guess we owe you some gratitude for stopping him. But you shouldn’t have confronted him. You never know if you’re going to come across a hardened criminal like this guy. Still, I am glad no one was hurt. Next time leave it to the trained professionals.”
“I’ll remember your good advice, sir.” Hugh glanced over to a man in a suit watching outside his car. He had a huge grin on his face.
The clerk slipped Hugh his hot dogs. “They’re on the house,” she whispered to him. Hugh remembered his hunger and grabbed the now cold dogs.
“Thank you,” he said to the girl with admiration shining in her eyes. He bowed to the officer. “Am I free to go, sir?” he asked.
The cop arched an eyebrow at Hugh. “I want your number in case we need to ask you further questions.”
Hugh nodded and gave him a number, then joined the man in the suit who had his elbows resting on the roof of his Mercedes and an open car door. Antonio laughed at Hugh as the cop cars departed, lights flashing, sirens whupping.
“You sow chaos wherever you go,” Antonio said, with a slight Italian accent, shaking his head, his lips drawn up in a smile.