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The Good Deed
SERIES: The Chandler Horde, Book 1
GENRE: Romantic Suspense, Second Chance/Divorced/Widows
ENDING: HEA (They’re a couple and live Happily Ever After)
WORD COUNT: 75,000 to 99,999 (large book)
HERO’S AGE: Over 50
HEROINE’S AGE: Over 50
HEAT LEVEL: Very Sexy (Let Me Show Exactly What I Want)
GRAPHIC LANGUAGE: Keeping It Real (Full of “F” bombs, graphic sex, and whatever)
They say no good deed goes unpunished. They’re right.
By day, Michael Chandler was a cold-hearted, sleazy, corporate attorney in a thousand-dollar suit making an obscene salary by winning copyright lawsuits. By night, he was a loving husband.
While he was busy doing a good deed, someone else was destroying his life. Drowning in guilt and Irish whiskey, it took a vision quest and imaginary spirit animals to show him the way out of his hell.
Elaine Chambéry has just been beaten for the last time. Luckily, a handsome jogger with a cell phone comes to her aid. Her husband gets four years, and she gets her life back – for a little while, anyway.
So why didn’t anyone warn her the scum had been paroled early? This time, she barely survives the beating. She could not let this happen to another woman! Between school, her dream job, and a nosy neighbor, she’s getting her self-confidence back. Trust? Not so much.
Elaine and her new client walk into a lawyer’s office, and she’s shocked to find the man who helped her all those years ago, and sparks fly both ways.
He wants her, but would he be being unfaithful to his dead wife?
She wants him, but is he going to turn into a monster?
Imaginary spirit animals to the rescue!
Will Michael take another chance on love?
Can Elaine learn to trust another man?
They earned their happily ever after, right?
Not so fast . . .
THE GOOD DEED is the standalone first book in the Chandler Horde series. It’s a romance about paying dues and earning the reward.
READ AN EXCERPT
They found a picnic table near the volleyball courts. There was a pickup game going on, probably a bunch of guys who worked together and played regularly. That was something he never had the time for. He used to enjoy playing in tournaments on the beach, but that was with Sandy watching him.
“So I have to admit I looked you up on LinkedIn. Do you live at the beach?”
“On the Strand between Tenth and Eleventh.”
Now, what were the chances of that?
“I live on the Strand between Eleventh and Twelfth. I knew you looked familiar. I’ve probably seen you on the beach or at the market.”
Sad eyes looked into his as she took a deep breath, then quietly said, “No. That’s not where you know me from. I wish it was.”
“What do you mean?”
She didn’t say anything, just looked at him as if she was trying to tell him something without using words.
It took a few seconds for the knot to form in the pit of his stomach. No, it couldn’t be. That woman’s name was Elaine what? Jeffers, Elaine Jeffers. But that was twelve years ago. This had to be some kind of karmic payback, and if he ever got his hands on that bear for not warning him, he’d . . . What? Beat up an imaginary animal?
“I can see by the look on your face, you remember me now.” She looked at her watch. “It’s okay. I really should be getting back, anyway. Thank you for the pastrami sandwich. I haven’t had one in years.”
He tried to put his thoughts together while she wrapped up the rest of her sandwich and grabbed her trash.
She was leaving? Why?
“Wait. Where are you going?”
“Back to work. I debated whether or not to tell you, but I decided to be honest. You deserve to know. You can email me status updates on the case. Thank you for lunch.”
She turned and walked toward the litter cans.
She stopped and turned to face him, and when he saw her tears, his brain kicked in. He did a quick review of the facts as he knew them.
He helped her when her husband beat her. Her injuries weren’t life-threatening or disfiguring as far as he could tell at the time, and the asshole got a four-year sentence. So who beat her up so badly she spent two months recuperating and accumulated hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills?
Christ in heaven.
Her bastard husband got out early, and that’s why she decided to become a victim’s advocate!
“Please don’t go.”
“Look, you can hardly stand to look at me. It’s okay. If I were you, I wouldn’t be able to look at me either.”
She had it all wrong, and he couldn’t let her leave.
“Please, wait! I have to talk to you or I’ll never get a decent night’s sleep again.” Because if he fucked this up, seven animals would rip him a new one every night for the rest of his life.
She stopped walking, hesitated, and then turned around again.
“What are you talking about?”
“It’s a long story, one you probably wouldn’t believe because most of the time I don’t believe it either. Please don’t go.”
With downcast eyes, she walked back to where he stood by the picnic table.
“I’m so, so, sorry.”
“You’ve got nothing to be sorry for. In all these years of coming to terms with what happened, it never crossed my mind to blame you for any of it.”
“I tried to find you after Dan’s trial. I wanted to thank you for helping me that day. I found you on LinkedIn, but you no longer worked at ALL NET, so I googled you. That’s when I found the news article about what happened to your wife. At that point, I really needed to find you and apologize, but you disappeared. I never forgot your kindness, and I’ve thought about you a lot over the years. But this morning, when we got to your office, and I heard your name, I almost turned around and walked out.”
“Because I’m the reason you weren’t home with your wife that morning. While you were helping me, she was—”
“Elaine! Look at me.”
When she looked up, a tear ran down her beautiful cheek.
“It wasn’t because of you. It was because of what I did to that man. I drove myself crazy with ‘what ifs’ for a long time. What if I’d been home? It took a while before I realized I’d probably be dead, too. If I had been there and tried to stop him, he would have shot me instead, or maybe, he’d have shot me and then her. Anyway, it happened because of me. Something would have happened no matter what. But it wasn’t because of you, and I’m sorry you felt responsible all these years.
“I know it’s easy to tell yourself ‘don’t do that’. It took a long time and a lot of work before I stopped blaming myself. And to tell you the truth, if it hadn’t happened, I’d still be a cold-hearted, sleazy, corporate attorney making obscene amounts of money for ruining other people’s lives over a lousy trademark or copyright. Through my pain and guilt, I found myself.
“I put myself through hell in the beginning, and I came out the other side a changed man. I can’t make it up to that poor man or any of the others I hurt, and I can’t bring Sandy back, but with every person I help, I honor her memory.”
Geez, now she was sobbing.
She walked into his arms, and he held her while she cried. Something inside him shifted. Were the deer and the bear right?
Listening to him try to make her feel better broke her heart. What he went through, what she lived through, and how they survived and found a way to use it all to make a difference for others . . . it was almost too much to comprehend.
When she got herself under control, she backed out of his arms and instantly missed the comfort and acceptance their shared tragedy brought her.
“Elaine, what happened? He went to prison, but your online profile said you spent two months recovering from a much worse beating. How did he get to you?”
“He got out early, and no one warned me. He was waiting for me when I got home from a week-long retreat. If I hadn’t left a bag of souvenirs in the van, and if they hadn’t turned around and come back, Dan would have finished the job, and no one would have known. Instead, one of the ladies I went with came to the door with my bag and heard me screaming. She called the police who caught him in the act of kicking my ribs in.
“Until that happened, I was going to school to become a CPA. I planned to open my own office. But lying in bed not being able to move gave me a lot of time to think — and get angry. No one told me he got paroled early. No one warned me. And that’s when I decided to become a victim’s advocate. I needed to help other victims navigate the legal system and understand their options because no one did that for me.”
He reached out and gently wiped the tears from her face. Something between them changed, and she didn’t know what to do next, so she stepped back.
“I need to get back to the office. I have an appointment in fifteen minutes.”
“I do, too. But . . .” He hesitated. “Have dinner with me tonight. Talking to you, sharing this with you, it’s, well, it’s healing something inside me, and I think for you, too.”
“Yes, I’ll have dinner with you, even though it’s against Gibbs Rule 12. But I have to warn you. I haven’t been on a date since, well, ever. In fact, other than my father and my doctor, you’re the first man to touch me since that day Dan tried to kill me.”
“Rule 12? Are you kidding me?”
She smiled at his reaction. “I got hooked while I recuperated from that last beating. I still binge watch rerun marathons, and normally I’d stay home on a Tuesday night, but tonight is a rerun.”
“That was the only thing I woke up for. And I reserve Tuesday nights at eight, too. So, Rule 12? Oh yeah. Never date a co-worker. Well, we’re not exactly co-workers, and I have to warn you, too. I haven’t been on a date since college, and you’re the first woman I’ve touched, other than family, since the day Sandy died. What time will you be done today?”
She was the first? In twelve years, he hadn’t been with another woman?
Meet Mary A. Nason
Mary A. Nason is a feisty member of the Silver Generation and retired geekette. Originally from Los Angeles and then Silicon Valley, California, she now lives in a small town in Central Oregon.
Mary loves to write and play nickel video poker. During the winter, she can often be found on a ski slope. She has a vivid imagination and finds story ideas and character inspirations through her friends – who are nice to her so she won’t kill them off.
There’s a little bit of Mary in all her heroines, but alas, so far, the heroes have been pure fantasy. She is currently single and will probably stay that way for the foreseeable future. Writing is a jealous lover.