Black Ribbon Affair
Award Winning: Holt Medallion Best First Book.
Write Touch Readers’ Award: Best Romantic Suspense.
“I’ve got to leave.” Like Cinderella, shortly before midnight, Caitlin edged away from Mike. Her decision had nothing to do with glass slippers, and too much to do with her increasing attraction to him. What was happening threatened her, pulled her from her comfort zone. Acting this way and thinking this way was in her daily routine.
“Fine by me. I’ve had enough of sharing you.” He kept his hand resting on her hip.
“More like monopolized.”
Shrugging, he shot her that sizzling sexy grin. “With the eyes of the world on me.”
“Probably that’s a good thing.” His eyes told her where his thoughts headed. Could she go there with him this time? What would be the consequences if she did?
He scanned the crowd. “ No one will miss us in this crowd. What about a nightcap somewhere else, more quiet?”
“We’ve both got cars…my place isn’t far from here. Would that work?” That was a high dive into the deep end of the pool.
“You’ve got scotch?” She nodded. “Quiet music?” Another nod. “No prying eyes?”
“That’s a jackpot I wasn’t expecting.” He helped her into her coat and kept his hands on her shoulders as she buttoned up.
“Just a sec, Cait, I need to use the..ah… restroom.” He looked embarrassed at his need.
She laughed at his self-consciousness. “Don’t worry. I’ll head to my car. I’m near the far end of the lot. You?”
He nodded. “Same. But wait for me. It’s late, dark, and not many people are out there.”
“I’ll be fine. Hurry up in there. With these heels, I won’t get far.”
“I lead tonight, remember? Wait for me. Here. I won’t be but a minute.” His last words barely out of his mouth, he dashed off.
After waiting three minutes according to the wall clock, and she hated waiting for anybody or anything, she walked out the door. She left a message for Mike with the coatroom attendant. Tonight might be his night to lead, but he should be quick about his business.
Outside, the temperature had plummeted, freezing the standing puddles she had avoided earlier. The night darkness enveloped the parking lot, making the lights appear dimmer. An east wind whipped the evergreens lining the edge of the lot. Cars were scattered in haphazard pattern throughout the lot. She noticed four still near her Lexus in plain view under a light.
She waited another minute under the porte-cochère, giving Mike his chance to lead.
He didn’t show. She chuckled to herself. “Guess I get to lead now,” she whispered to the wind.
Pleased with her independence, eyes cast onto the asphalt, she left the entrance and picked her way toward her car. During her walk, she alternated damning her frivolous shoes and her need for self-sufficiency. Mike’s arm would have provided a real asset around these treacherous patches of ice.
As she approached her car, keys already in her hand to open her door, she spotted something plastered on the windshield on the driver’s side. A fear niggle shot through her. She had to take whatever it was off the windshield. With the obstruction there, she couldn’t see to drive. That meant a few moments, leaving her exposed and alone. Not smart. Not now.
She sensed rather than heard someone slip behind her. She turned into the sound. From behind, he grabbed her under her rib cage, squeezing all breath from her. She opened her mouth to yell, but no sound emerged. A Crocodile Dundee-sized knife flashed in the light.
Average customer review: 5 stars. ” A story of surprises, suspense, deceit, true evil, enormous courage, and not-your-run-of-the-mill characters. A good read, but be sure the lights are on! This one will have you jumping at strange noises.” See others at Amazon.
From Barnes and Noble:
Average customer review: 4.5 stars. “Great combination of mystery, suspense and romance. The Black Ribbon Affair gets a blue ribbon from me.”
From Wild Rose Press:
Average customer review: 5 stars. “What a fantastic read! I don’t normally read mystery, but I’m so glad I tried this one. Casey Clifford writes smart, witty dialogue and memorable characters.” See others at WRP.