I had a wonderful spring break and hope you did too. I spent time at my nephew’s wedding and it was wonderful to see family. So very wondreful. It’s funny, since my parent,s to the best of my knowledge, don’t know that I am writing as Tobi Doyle. I suppose, if you’ve read my books written as Tobi you understand that perhaps explaining to my Mom that I enjoy reading and writing explicit romance would be awkward to say the least. I can’t even imagine how that conversation with my Dad would go. Picture Ali and Em’s dad from Rebound Baby and cringe with me. Never mind that only two of my sisters know and a few select sisters-in-law. I guess that makes writing my guilty secret.
I did grow up in the Bay Area of California and it was fun going home and showling my children – who do know that I write books as Tobi Doyle and it completly icks them out – my favorite haunts. I took a million pictures while there and used one for the cover of my latest book, set in San Francisco.
The New Boris is about a Russian crime family in San Francisco. I honestly don’t have much experience with crime families but I will tell you that I have had known many very nice people who were also gang members. Sometimes it’s not a choice. Sometimes people join gangs to protect their family. Anywho – that’s going to be Lu’s background in the next Love at First Slight Book – Cooper and Lu.
Back to Boris, aka Viktor…
The new Boris is tall, dark, deadly and definitely dangerous. Lucky O’Rourke has seen his type before and logically she tries to avoid Viktor, the new capo to the Russian mafia in the City. Unfortunately, every cell in her body resonates around this imposing man. He warns her that he’s not the kind of man she should be interested in. If he was a good man, he would leave her alone. But he can’t. His presence should intimidate her but she knows without a doubt that he’s a good man. He’s trustworthy, he’s loyal, he’s honest, and he wants her in his bed.
She should avoid him, but she wants him too. He’s the kind of man who is dependable and passionate. The kind of man Lucky needs.
I’ve uploaded the book to every imaginable retail site – Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes. Hopefully that means it will be available in the next twenty-four to forty-eight hours. I await with bated breath….
Until then, here’s a sneak peek and the cover.
Lucky tried her father’s cell phone again, this time it went immediately to voicemail. Three days ago her father had disappeared. Perhaps disappeared is too strong a word, since Jack O’Rourke was more likely to have simply left leaving the messy ends of his life for Lucky to sort out. As she flipped through the bills and other mail in her father’s office she grimaced at the realization that less than half of his tenants had paid their rent this month. Apparently her father going missing had not escaped their notice.
Two hours later she had collected the rent from all but five tenants, one of which had not been seen in over two weeks, according to his neighbor. She went through the paperwork for apartment 3E, leased by Viktor Golovanov. The paperwork said he hadn’t paid his rent in over two months. His current place of employment was a car wash and oil change place on the North side of town. Lucky decided that if Viktor wasn’t coming back, she needed to find someone to clean out his apartment so she could rent it. It wasn’t uncommon for her father’s tenants to leave suddenly, just inconvenient.
Dmitri Stepanov, manager of Golden Gate Car Wash looked appreciatively at the slender woman who asked for him by name. She had long auburn hair pulled back in a ponytail and big brown eyes. On any other day he would have taken the time to flirt, but today the new boss sat in his office asking too many questions.
“Ms. O’Rourke,” he said, “I’m afraid I cannot help you. This man must have lied on his application.”
Her eyes flicked over his hands, recognizing the tattoos on his fingers as jail quality. Most likely Russian. She grunted, “Just my luck. Look, could you at least ask the guys here if they’ve heard of Viktor Golovanov?”
Dimitri’s eyes widened and he motioned her toward the door, grabbing her by the arm and pushing her outside.
“Hey!” She twisted away from him, “Keep your hands to yourself.”
His office door opened and a well-dressed man, tall, dark, and wide shoulders narrowed his eyes at her. Eyes like obsidian that captured her breath. Lucky mused that now she knew what enraptured meant. His gaze held her and felt heat from him surrounding her. His presence was mesmerizing, powerful and all consuming. And dangerous. He spoke quietly in Russian and Dimitri released her.
The stranger held her gaze, his eyes studying her face intently before he stepped forward his hand outstretched, “Viktor Golovanov, who are you?”
His voice was warm and yet it managed to break the spell she had been under. Lucky flicked her eyes to Dimitri and spat “You lying sack!” His hand came up to slap her but she ducked and rushed him, pushing him back on his ass.
Viktor pulled Lucky off of Dimitri and another man, even larger stepped out of the office. Viktor motioned towards Dimitri while he guided Lucky a few more steps away.
“Please explain yourself.” He said calmly, his eyes now appeared brown and gentle. Lucky relaxed slightly, still feeling overwhelmed by his presence. Her eyes searched his face and realized he had knife scars on his face; clearly he had been in a bad fight a long time ago. The scars were faded but still puckered, meaning he didn’t have the benefit of the plastic surgeons in the area. The man was definitely intimidating, not just because of his size or the scars on his face, but somehow he seemed to charge the air around him.
Lucky nodded and held out her hand, “My name is Lucky O’Rourke.” She shook his hand and turned it slightly to reveal tattoos and scars on the back of his hand. Lucky nodded toward where Dimitri had been. His office door was closed and she assumed he was keeping the other larger man company.
“Dimitri said that he didn’t know you,” she shrugged. “Which is why I said he was a liar, since, of course, here you are.” She mentally kicked herself for babbling.
His eyes grew cold and his jaw tensed, “And why would you be looking for me?”
“Well, um,” Lucky looked at him, he was intimidating and his suit was expensive. Something was wrong; his suit was far too expensive for him to live in the dive apartments her father owned. “I think that perhaps there’s been a mistake.”
“Answer my question.” He said coldly, his Russian accent more prominent.
Lucky fumbled through her purse and he grabbed her hand with one of his larger hands and her purse with his other.
“What are you doing, Lucky?” He held her purse out of her reach.
Lucky willed herself to remain calm. He was holding her tightly, but not hurting her. “I was looking for the lease. Someone put your name on the lease for an apartment and they haven’t paid rent for two months. They said they worked here so I came down here looking for him. If it’s all right with you,” she motioned for her purse with her chin, “I can show you the lease. Honestly, I just wanted to see if I could rent out the apartment to someone else, since apparently the other Viktor hasn’t been around for a couple of weeks.”
He gently released her hands and unzipped her purse and looked through it quickly, satisfied that she wasn’t going to pull out a weapon he handed it to her. She retrieved the lease and handed it to Viktor.
“Stay.” He commanded as he turned and entered the office. She waited until the door was closed before releasing a pent up breath. She should go. Whatever was going on her instincts told her she didn’t want to be involved. She should just turn and head out of the building not stopping until she was in Nevada. Before she could move her frozen feet the door opened and Viktor was there issuing commands in Russian and then turning to her.
His statement slapped her figuratively and she bristled. Lucky raised an eyebrow. “Really?” She sighed feigning confidence she didn’t feel. “I don’t think so. Look, you can have one day to clean out the apartment. After that I’m going to get it ready to rent out.”
He cocked his head and a smile twitched at his mouth, “You want your rent money?” She looked frustrated and angry and he liked the way her cheeks turned pink and her eyebrows arched, challenging him.
“Not if it means going anywhere with you. I just want you out of the apartment.”
“I don’t have a key.” His voice had gentled and he tried to be less intimidating. He noticed she responded by relaxing her shoulders.
“Neither to do I. I’ll let Mark know you’re coming and to let you in. He’s the building superintendent; you’ll find him in the office.”
Viktor narrowed his eyes, “No. I will pay you the rent. I will keep the apartment.”
Lucky blinked, “Um. No.” Her voice was quiet and hesitant.
He chuckled and stepped closer, “No?”
“I think, um, I think it would be better if you simply moved his things out.”
“No.” He stepped closer and Lucky took one step back.
“Why do you want the apartment?” Lucky asked.
“Because someone has been using my name. I am curious about him. It will take me more than twenty four hours to satisfy my curiosity.”
Lucky considered it for a moment and realized he was right. “Who are you?”
“I am Viktor Golovanov.”
She pointed to his tattooed hands, “Who are you, Viktor?”
He smiled but it didn’t reach his eyes, “That is all you need to know.”
Lucky nodded, “Fine, but there are some rules you need to follow.” She ignored his scowl and continued, “The building is a neutral zone. No fighting with the neighbors, no bringing gang business there, in fact, no bringing any kind of business there. All the tenants agree to get along.”
“I see.” He nodded, “We go, now.”
Lucky stepped away and hit the wall, “No we don’t. You can go wherever you want to, but I’m going to work.” She turned and left the building, expecting him to stop her but thankfully he didn’t.
Viktor opened the office door his eyes turned cold, “He lied to me.”
His right hand man, Alexei, nodded and punched Dimitri’s head hard enough that he knocked Dimitri out and his body slumped to the ground.
Viktor pulled the man off the ground and set him in a chair, “Who do you trust here, Alexei?”
Alexei thought for a moment, “Nik, the bouncer.”
“Have him meet us at the apartment.” He handed over the lease agreement that Lucky had given him. “Pull the car around, we’ll bring Dimitri to Grigory’s.”
Alexei nodded, and left Viktor to his thoughts. Whoever had used his name was probably gone. He had moved to San Francisco over a week ago, probably prompting the impostor to disappear. It was curious that he used his name to begin with. He looked over the lease; it was dated nine months ago. For nine months someone had been using his name.
Dimitri hadn’t mentioned that when they first met so either he was completely incompetent or involved. Alexei would find out.
Lucky drove to work checking her back window to see if she was being followed. She felt ridiculous, but she couldn’t stop herself from checking. Something about that man was dangerous, and common sense warned her to stay far away. Her girlie parts had different ideas, however. The man not only charged the air around him but he seemed to charge her. For now, she would use her common sense and keep her distance. She had enough crap to deal with because of her father’s disappearance. She parked close to the tattoo shop and pulled her toolbox from the backseat checking to make sure her car was locked before going to work.
She had started working at the Mirage Studio when she was eighteen and four years later she had developed an excellent reputation and had repeat customers and even a few musicians as clients. Her specialty was black and gray as well as Celtic knot work. Marvin owned the shop and he was well known for his traditional, Asian, and new school tattoos. They had four other tattoo artists that worked odd hours and Marlene who was the piercing artist who worked weekends. All in all it was an eclectic group that had become her family.
Marlene looked up, “A walk-in requested you. They’re looking through the book.”
Lucky whispered, “Are they sober?”
“Yeah. Young though, check the ID first.” She warned.
Lucky stayed busy and at eight she called to Marvin that she was taking a dinner break.
“Bring something back.” He called as she left the building. Two blocks away was her father’s apartment complex and she hoped to collect rent from the few stragglers. Mark went with her to the first two doors until he was stopped and needed to unclog a sink. Lucky knocked on an apartment of two women who worked opposite shifts so they could raise a nine month old baby.
Krista answered the door, “Oh hey, Lucky. You’re here for the rent, right?”
“Um, yes.” Lucky said and smiled at the baby she was balancing on her hip.
He lunged toward Lucky and she automatically held out her hands and took him. “Hey there, Noah. You are getting so big, sweet baby.” Her nose nuzzled in his hair.
“He smells so good, Krista.”
“He just had a bath. I’ve got my half and Kelly is coming home now. She’s actually running late, I guess traffic is bad. Can you watch Noah until she gets here?”
“Oh, um, I need to be back at work in like forty minutes.” Lucky said hesitantly.
“She’ll be home in like ten minutes. Please?” Krista handed Lucky a check and was already locking up the apartment door.
“Ok.” Lucky couldn’t help but smile as Noah grabbed a handful of her hair and stuffed it in his mouth. He gurgled happily as he slobbered all over her. Lucky walked up to the third floor and knocked on the last tenant that owed money.
“Mr. North, I’m here for the rent.” Lucky announced as she knocked on the door.
The door opened hastily and he thrust a check toward her and then stopped, “Is that
He grinned, “He’s getting big.” He reached out and tickled Noah’s stomach and Noah squealed in delight. He reached for Mr. North and he picked him up and tossed him gently in the air making him giggle even more. Lucky laughed with them.
She felt eyes on her and turned to see Viktor watching her with a big smile on his face. She grinned, “There’s nothing as wonderful as a baby laughing.”
He nodded, his body relaxed and stepped toward them. Mr. North stiffened.
“Oh hell. Who’s that?” He said quietly.
“Don’t talk like that in front of Noah.” Lucky hushed him. “Viktor, this is Mr. North.”
Viktor held out his hand to shake Mr. North’s and he took it reluctantly.
Mr. North handed Noah back to Lucky and eyed Viktor. “You’re the new guy. Russian? The old guy wasn’t.”
“You sure about that?” Viktor asked.
“Yeah.” His eyes flicked toward Lucky and then back to Viktor, “She explained the rules of the building, right?”
Viktor’ lips twitched. “Yes, of course.”
Mr. North nodded, “The last tenant said his name was Viktor, but his friends called him something like Adam or Andy.” Mr. North raised an eyebrow, “And his friends were not Russian. More like Triads, if you ask me.”
Viktor nodded, “Thank you.”
Lucky bit her bottom lip and asked Mr. North, “Hey, uh, Pops disappeared. Any idea what that was about?”
Mr. North shook his head sadly, “I heard he made bets on the Superbowl game, honey. He spread it around town.” He nodded at Viktor, “I heard he played odds with Dimitri.”
Lucky gasped and Noah squirmed in her arms. “Thanks.”
“Don’t you worry, honey. You know your Pop is probably in Vegas winning it all back.”
She smiled sadly and jostled Noah on her hip. “You’re probably right.” She turned toward the stairwell and heard Kelly call out, “Nik, what are you doing here?”
The large man from Dimitri’s carwash poked his head out the door and smiled appreciatively at Kelly. Another man, that was similar in size but with a short blond hair and bright blue eyes came out and waved at Kelly.
“Hi Kelly. I guess I’m going to stay here for a little while.”
She stopped in front of the door, “Your own place? You’re going to miss your brothers.”
He shook his head, “No, I’m sure I won’t. So this is where you and Krista live?”
“Yup. Two B.” Kelly smiled at the other man, “I’m Kelly.”
“Alexei.” He picked up her hand and kissed it lightly. He then turned toward Lucky who handed the baby to Kelly.
“This is Noah,” Kelly said proudly. Alexei tickled him and Noah giggled. Kelly looked over at Lucky and pulled a check out of her back pocket.
“Here you go Lucky. Where’s your boy?”
Lucky smiled, “I left him at home. I had too many things to do today before work.
Thanks for this; I’ll see you all later.”
Alexei frowned, “You left your boy at home?”
Kelly grinned, “He’s a dog.”
Lucky mumbled a good bye and slipped down the stairs. Her hand was on the front door when she heard Viktor’s voice call out.
Lucky stopped and checked her phone; she still had twenty minutes before her next appointment.
“You don’t know where your father is?” He asked gently. His posture was still relaxed and Lucky realized that he was quite attractive when relaxed. He wasn’t handsome in the traditional sense, his features were angular and his face was scarred. One scar started above his left eyebrow and followed the line of his eyebrow before crossing it and ending just before his eye. The other scar was on his right cheek, about four inches long starting at the corner of his mouth and moving toward his ear. That scar was deeper, and Lucky wondered what had happened to him. He was a man that commanded the room; power seemed to emanate from him.
“No but he’s done this before.” Lucky shrugged, “Eventually he calls.”
“You’re not worried?”
“Not yet.” She said quietly.
“It’s late. Where are you going?”
Lucky scoffed, “Back to work. It’s not even nine o’clock.”
“I’ll walk you to your car.” Viktor opened the door and Lucky placed her hand on his arm.
“That’s very sweet of you, but I walked over here.” He scowled and she giggled at his reaction. “It’s two blocks. Honestly, this is a safe neighborhood.” She amended,
“Mostly.” Truthfully her dog kept her company so often that she was never nervous about walking anywhere at any time.
Viktor seemed to be reading the expressions as they crossed her face. “Well, tonight I will walk with you. Where do you work?”
“You cut hair at this hour?”
Lucky giggled, “No, tattoos.” She started down the sidewalk and he stepped beside her, placing his hand on her elbow. “You have quite a collection of art.”
He shook his head, “Not art, more like a history. What about you?”
“I have art.” She said mysteriously.
He chuckled, “I’d like to see it sometime.”
“Only if you return the favor.” Lucky smirked at Viktor’s scandalized expression.
He shook his head, “How old are you?”
He muttered, “Just a child.”
Lucky’s face turn solemn, “I wish that was true, sometimes. How old are you?”
“I see, so you won’t find me attractive for another ten years, right? Why is it that men wait until their forty to ask women my age out?”
He chuckled, “I don’t believe that.”
“You’re wrong. Last weekend my roommate and I went to Clayton’s and only men over forty offered to buy us drinks.”
He scowled, “Why did you go to a bar?”
Lucky raised an eyebrow, “To drink. To have fun. To people watch. Seriously, what’s your problem with my age?”
He clucked, “Women your age are too much work.” He shrugged, “I prefer women with experience.”
“Ha! You just don’t like intimacy.” She punched his shoulder lightly.
“I like intimacy,” he said seriously.
“No, you like to fuck.” Lucky said dryly.
“You shouldn’t talk like that.” He scolded.
“You’re upset because I’m stating the truth plainly. You probably hate to cuddle, right? It’s dinner – maybe, sex definitely, and good night. You think you’re dating, but you’re not. You’ve just found people that don’t like intimacy either.”
He smirked, “Perhaps. And what about you?”
“Oh, I’m way too much work for you. Trust me. I need my cuddles, I even like to hold hands, and I have been known to force men to watch chick flicks before I put out.”
He laughed and she grinned, “You know, you’re really quite handsome when you smile.”
He shook his head and sobered, “I am not a good man for you.”
“No? I’ll keep that in mind.” She said lightly. “Good night, Viktor. Thank you for walking me to work.” She moved to open the door but he stepped in front of her opened the door and followed her in. His posture changed and he became the intimidating man she first met.
“How late are you working?” He asked as he stared down Marvin, Rick, and their clients. Ed, her client, was waiting for her in the reception area and he avoided Viktor’s eyes.
“I’m not sure. I’m hoping to finish up Ed’s arm. Are you up for it Ed?”
The lanky man was wearing a coat and he shrugged, “I think so.” He pulled his coat off and revealed a tattooed sleeve down his right arm stopping at his elbow.
Viktor looked at the man with interest. “You did this?”
“Yes, we’ve got some more to do and then color. It could take a few hours, if he’s up for it.”
Viktor ignored the man and turned to her, murmuring so that only she could hear. “Where is your car parked?”
“Jeez, seriously? Quit.” Lucky opened the door and motioned him outside. “Look, Viktor, I appreciate your concern but it’s not necessary. I’ve been taking care of myself for a long time. However, if it makes you feel better, Marvin walks me to my car every night. Ok?”
Viktor nodded but she could see his jaw clenched tight, “Good night, Lucky.”
“Good bye, Viktor.” She said softly and went back inside to tackle Ed’s arm and order pizzas to be delivered.
Ed managed to handle being under the needle for three hours, leaving just a couple more hours of work left to be done. As Marvin walked Lucky to her car he nudged her lightly.
“You know that guy you brought in earlier?”
“Sort of. I met him today.” Lucky admitted.
“Lucky, he’s dangerous. Like, mafia, cement shoes, dangerous.”
She sighed, “Probably.”
“Definitely. Kid, I don’t know how the hell you met him, but stay away.”
Lucky unlocked her car door and opened it, “I hear you, Marvin.”
Marvin leaned in and kissed her forehead, “Good night, kid.”