Blurb – All For A Fist Full of Ashes
A fast-paced romp through Italy with tour director, Harriet Ruby, and handsome spy, Will Talbot, in hot pursuit of a lost grave and an assassin.
I’m Harriet Ruby: Tour Director Extraordinaire. At least, I thought I was worthy of that title, until…
My first mistake: Agreeing to conduct a private tour of Italy. Fourteen Italian-Americans from New Jersey? All family, for three weeks, with four teenagers? What was I thinking? Fate responds to my engraved invitation by placing one of the family under surveillance as a suspect in an assassination plot, and who is assigned to the case? None other than my favorite drop-dead-gorgeous spy, Will Talbot.
My second mistake: Allowing Will to coax an invitation from the family matriarch to join the tour.
And that was just the beginning. The matriarch, searching for the unknown location of her mother's grave so she can bury her brother’s cremated ashes (which have been smuggled into Italy wrapped in Cuban cigars), and her quirky family members sweep through Italy leaving chaos, hilarity, and danger in their wake.
Still standing inside the terminal with one hand on the door, I prepared to push it open, when an intense shiver skittered up and down my spine. I tingled all over and heat zinged to every to every erogenous zone, a sure sign of Will Talbot's presence in the airline terminal.
I hadn't seen him, but I didn't have to. When we're in the same space, he and I exchange a flow of energy, and my body's reactions said it all. We had a way of speaking to each other without talking.
Will was my…well, he's…hmm. Now, here's the thing. Will Talbot and I had this incredible, overwhelming physical attraction and a no-strings agreement to get to know each other better and see if the rest of our relationship could catch up with our lust.
Since he lived in Spain and I resided in Rome, we only got together every two or three weeks. We hadn't progressed much beyond the lust stage of "getting to know you," but there seemed to be a lot of other stuff going on between us, which neither of us had figured out yet.
Excited, I opened the door and stuck my head out. "I'll be there in a few minutes, Mario," I yelled, my voice tinged with anticipation, trying to keep an eye on the terminal at the same time. "Please, get everyone on board. Thanks."
He cocked an eyebrow and grinned. Mario knew about Will and me and, like I said, nothing surprised him.
Stepping back inside and away from the entrance, I closed my eyes and waited. I sensed Will's approach and the closer he got, the more my girly parts tingled with anticipation.
Even though I expected it, I gasped when he placed his warm hands on my shoulders and turned me around to face him.
He was as drop-dead gorgeous as ever, tall, trim and well-muscled, dark hair in a military-cut-gone-spiky with just a touch of gray around the ears. Ex-military, Special Forces. So hot, he could melt butter at the South Pole in the dead of winter.
He held me at arm's length, not letting me close the distance between us and slobber all over him. That meant he was on the job being a spy. No, I mean it. He's really a spy. Officially, his title is Europol Special Agent, but the things he does—the ones I know about, anyway—have international spy written all over them.
Will looked at me and shook his head with resignation. "I might have known this was your group." He rolled his brilliant blue eyes upward. "Give me strength."
Since I couldn't kiss him or have sex with him right there in the airport lobby, I waved my hands and got nasty instead. "I knew you were here, Will Talbot. Things like this never happen to me unless you're around. It's your fault my karma has gone bad."
Will wrapped his hands around mine and forced them down to my sides. "Signorina Boobie, may I have a word with you in private?" His low sexy voice smoldered.
Even my teeth ached for him. "Don't call me that." The Hairy Boobies nickname, left over from my first experience as a tour director when Will and I met in Morocco, will haunt me forever. I wanted to be annoyed with him for bringing it up, but I was more interested in being alone with him.
I sidled closer and gazed up into his hypnotic baby blues. "In private? How much in private?" Yum. He smelled so delicious, all musky aftershave and Talbot testosterone. I wanted to bite him.
"Not that private." His tone warned me to behave. With purposeful but unhurried strides, he escorted me away from any place where there could be eavesdroppers or bugs. When he worked in his official capacity as Special Agent, he carried plenty of spy-equipment.
Off duty, he…well…had his own equipment.
He let me go and stood about two feet away, not touching but close enough to hear each other. My knees weakened at the look he gave me. Sparks of energy shot back and forth, heating us until we were in danger of spontaneous human combustion.
You might say I was anxious. Actually, horny would be a better description.
"Why didn't you tell me whose family this tour was with?"
I blinked at the hint of annoyance in his voice. "And I'm thrilled to see you, too. I did tell you. When we talked on the phone I told you, a woman named Vita Spinella and her family. She's the spokesperson, and it's her show."
"The feisty one with the cane?"
Merely envisioning the woman made me grin. "She's the one." He'd either seen or heard about the recent events in Customs.
He shook his head, his lips compressed into a thin line. "Spinella. No wonder I didn't put it together."
"Didn't put what together?"
His frown formed a deep crease between his brows. I adored that cute little crease. "I told you I was working a case in Italy."
"I know. I accepted this gig, against my better judgment, I might add, because you encouraged me to take the assignment."
"Encouraged you? How?"
"Nearly five weeks without seeing each other is a long time for us," I pointed out, trying not to look down at the rather obvious evidence that his male parts didn't need reminding. "You didn't think I'd take the risk of being sent somewhere else while you were in Italy, did you? What's the problem?"
"You're walking all over my assignment again."
"Your assignment?" My jaw dropped to flycatcher mode. "You mean my tourists have something to do with the case you're investigating? How was I supposed to know? Why didn't you tell me?"
"I can't discuss it. My investigation may or may not have anything to do with your tour."
Oh, man. Were we back to the need-to-know rule again? My shoulders twitched with annoyance. I thought by now he trusted me with at least some information.
"Hmm, so you mentioned it to remind me you can't tell me anything?" I planted my fists on my hips, attack mode. "You've said that before. I hope this time your case really doesn't have anything to do with me, because, quite frankly, I don't think I can deal with a repeat of the Spain-Morocco trip."
One of Will's eyebrows shot up nearly to his hairline. "Meaning?"
I cleared my throat. "Don't go postal on me, here. I don't mean you or the part in bed. I'm up for repeats any time. But I didn't like the terrorist part, and I didn't like getting kidnapped." I paused and took a deep breath. "And I didn't like it when I thought I'd be killed before I found out who the hell you really are."
I’m a California girl who earned her Bachelor of Architecture degree from UC Berkeley, then went immediately to Rome, Italy. On my first day there, I met an Italian policeman at the Fountain of Love, and the rest is history. Instead of a degree from the University of Rome, I got a husband, and we’ve been married going on fifty years. In Rome, I worked for as an architect and planner for a land development company for several years until we moved to the United States. I’m now retired from a 35+ year career in architecture and urban land use planning, and spend my time travelling the world and writing. I love to hear from my readers.
Website Twitter FaceBook Google Circles Goodreads Breathless Press Buy Link