Title: Bitter Word Sweet
Word count: 70,000
Genre: NA Romance
Mara flees town with a duffel full of twenties bundled fifty to a stack. She’s done the math. This cool quarter million’s either blood money or drug money—and her mother’s recent overdose points a bit each way. It's not hers to take, but it’s her only ticket out of the trailer park, so she runs with it. Terrified that the owner of her windfall is hunting her down, Mara opens a Christian bookstore on Vancouver's Commercial Drive. She’s never had any faith, but she’s betting that if anyone is after her, he isn’t exactly spiritual. When she meets Tony, a smoking hot restaurateur, she’s pretty sure the ten commandments take hooking up off the menu. He’s awfully tempting, though, and one little taste could hardly blow her Christian cover.
Tony inherited two legacies: the secret ingredients of a mean marinara sauce and a talent for cooking the books. He has big plans to capitalize on the money laundering side of the family business and turn their tiny pizza joint into one of the city’s hottest nightclubs. His schemes allow no time for romance—especially not with the gorgeous little problem who just moved in and opened that damn bookstore across the street. Still, he’s got deep cravings and she’s the one he wants.
When Tony finds out Mara’s in trouble, he does everything he can to make sure she’s protected. But, if he reveals his connection to one of Vancouver’s drug kings, he risks losing Mara for good. And, if Mara accepts Tony’s help, she’s back to the life she left behind and could end up just like her mom.
First 250 Words:
Mara eyed the smidgen of wine sloshing pitifully at the bottom of the bottle and sighed. Fatigue plagued every muscle in her body, but she’d need more than two meager swallows to make it through tonight. She set the bottle back in the door of the ancient refrigerator that came with her apartment and rummaged through the tiny freezer at the top, shifting containers until her hands landed on a battered box of chicken strips. Reaching in, she pulled out a twenty dollar bill, contemplated, and took another just in case.
After rearranging the freezer’s contents to hide the box, she grabbed her keys and her phone and methodically checked the window locks. Caution never hurt. She clumped downstairs to her shop and dodged towers of unpacked boxes and a mess of used bubble wrap on her way through the long, narrow room. Hopefully, a good dinner would sustain her through the night’s work. A break. God, she needed a break. Closing and locking the shop door behind her, Mara shivered in the damp evening air. When a gap in the traffic provided just enough time to cross, she mustered her last bit of energy and jetted across Commercial Drive.
Although she’d have preferred the anonymity of one of the booths in the back of the place, people packed every last table, so Mara pulled herself---aching feet, stiff shoulders and all---up onto a tall stool at the bar.