Liz's Progressive Novel
Yeah, I don't like that name either so you need to help me think of another one.
Thank you so much for your wonderful suggestions for Chapter 2. I hope you will be pleased. I was able to integrate many of your suggestions.
PLEASE keep the comments coming. Chapter 3 needs some of your marvelous input. Should the obvious happen, or do you want it to go in a totally different direction. You will know what I mean after you read Chapter 2.
I'm also thinking that Emma needs a tattoo. What do you think? What and where should it placed?
Any other suggestions?
It was necessary to do a little bit of re-writes on Chapter 1. That's why it's included below.
As always, let me put a disclaimer in here.
1. I have no idea if this is going to work.
2. This will be raw and unedited. You will see all my ticks and flaws that drive my editors crazy!
3. See #2. This can't be stressed enough.
4. I reserve the right to re-write any previous parts if needed.
All rights reserved
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, business, places, events and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, currently known or future inventions except as may be expressly permitted in writing from lizabeth@LizabethScottBooks.com
Emma Matthews stood proudly on the deck of the Shark Tracker as she navigated the waters back to the dock after a successful tagging. Her sun streaked brown hair flew behind her in the breeze as the boat rose and dipped with each wave. Dark sunglasses shielded her hazel eyes from the beating sun. A strong wave sprayed her face. Emma laughed and whipped off her glasses. She was never happier than when she was flying across the blue sea.
Behind her she could hear the conversation of her co-workers which was still focused on the fourteen footer they had tagged that day. It had been an exceptional tag and Emma couldn’t wait to get back to her office and begin entering the data they had gathered and begin tracking the great white they had named Mary Beth. Jeff would take the biology samples back to the lab and begin running diagnostics on them. Soon, they would know all the secrets of Mary Beth and would be able to track her movement.
“Hey Em, do you think MB’s heading north?”
“That would be my guess, this early in the season.” As a marine biologist Emma knew shark patterns this time of the year headed north. One of the exciting parts of her job was when a shark varied from the norm and went rogue. You’ve never seen a group of scientist more excited than when a deviated pattern was noted.
Emma turned back around and lowered her speed as the dock drew near. She cut the engine and drifted in the last few feet before pushing the button to lower anchor. Paul was already on the dock tying her down. Emma picked up her bag and cases. Paul would close the boat for the day.
“See you guys tomorrow. Five sharp.” Emma waved at the groaning group and sailed past Paul and the guys with her head already running the data pattern she planned to use for Mary Beth.
Once in her office she sat her things down and powered up her computers. While she waited for them to come on she put a pot of tea on and changed from her one piece bathing suit to a T-shirt and cut-off blue jeans shorts. That was the wonderful convenience of working from home. Emma’s office was the open sea or in her one bedroom cottage overlooking the ocean. Sometimes she was required to be onsite at the lab or training facility.
Just as she was tucking in to work her phone rang. After checking the display she grimaced before she pushed the button to answer.
“Hi mother,” always mother, never mom. Emma put her mother on speaker phone and opened her Shark Tracker program. She had learned long ago it was best to only listen with half an ear. Neither of her parents approved of her career choice, her mother especially. Her mother would have been happy if she had married well and had already produced two point five offspring.
“Emmaline, seven o’clock sharp tonight, and wear a dress. Not one of those awful sundresses of yours either, a cocktail dress, preferably black. You know how your skin looks all mottled with those garish colors you insist on wearing. And do something to that hair of yours. I wish you would let me make you an appointment with my stylist. She could tame that wild hair of yours into some semblance of order. You get that from your father’s side you know.”
“Yes mother.” Emma said and then popped her head up from her computer and ran her mother’s conversation back through her mind, “I mean no mother, I will fix my own hair, but thank you for offering.” Emma answered politely.
“And Emmaline, wear make-up, you simply must cover that sun damage on your face. Why you think a tanned face is acceptable is beyond me. You should be taking care of your skin at your age you can’t be too careful.”
Emma propped her elbows on her desk and dropped her head into them. She was only thirty years old, and always used sunblock on her face and body, and reapplied often. People said her skin looked sun-kissed and healthy. She couldn’t help it, she spent the majority of her day outside, and mostly on the water. That was, after all, where the sharks she caught and tagged were.
But of course, her mother didn’t really understand her job and she wanted to keep it that way. “Yes, mother I will be there on time. I promise.” Her mother thought she worked at an aquarium, and Emma would do nothing to dissuade her from that misassumption.
“Very well, be sure that you are. You know your father doesn’t like to be kept waiting. I will send the car for you at six fifteen.”
“Yes mother.” Her father could care less if she was five minutes late. Her mother however would have a cow. Emma would admit that she did have time issues, but she had never been late to her parent’s dinners. Well, not very late. Expect for that one time and then she was extremely late. That however, had been the sharks fault not hers and had required fifteen stitches in her leg, which her parents never knew about and never would.
Emma told her mother good-bye and hung up wondering who was on the menu tonight. Once a month her parents would invite her to dinner and just happen to have invited a pre-vetted single male candidate for her dating pleasure. Her mother always sent the limousine to pick her up, so said candidate could take her home. To date, no one her mother had chosen as acceptable even registered on Emma’s hotness scale.
At precisely seven o’clock that evening Emma, in her black above the knee cocktail dress walked into her parent’s foyer. She stopped to smell the roses, literally on the round marble table under the massive chandelier hanging two stories above. She could hear everyone in the back parlor but she took her time enjoying the flowers and sticking her head in the kitchen to tell Sally and Maude hello before she walked through the grand French doors and greeted her parents.
“Hey Daddy.” Her father wrapped her in a hug.
“How’s my little girl?” Her dad gave her a kiss on the cheek.
“I’m fine we had an exciting day at work.” Her father had a better understanding of her work but he still had no idea of the extent of her involvement.
“There she is.” Emma turned at her mother’s greeting.
“Stewart, this is our daughter Emmaline. Emmaline this is a friend of your fathers, Stewart Rawleigh.” Her mother literally preened over the introduction as she picked invisible lint from Emma’s dress.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you Mr. Rawleigh.” Emma said as she shook his hand politely before cutting her eyes towards her mother. Surely her mother wasn’t seriously entertaining the idea that Mr. Stewart Rawleigh was candidate material. He had to be close to her dad’s age.
“Stewart, please Emmaline.” He said as he clasped Emma’s small hand in his large, cold, and clammy hand.
Emma smiled uncomfortably as his eyes roved her body stopping way too long on her breasts. She tried to politely remove her hand from his but he held tightly, “Stewart, and please call me Emma.” A shiver ran through her and it wasn’t a good shiver.
“Why don’t you children run along and get to know each other before dinner is announced. The roses are lovely this time of year, Emmaline would be more than happy to show you Stewart.”
Emma’s could tell her mother was very pleased with herself. Without causing a scene she accompanied Stewart to the garden, and for the remainder of the night played twister getting away from his grouping hands. There was no way she was letting Stewart take her home.
Two hours later Emma sat in the back of Stewart’s limousine steaming mad. Her mother had insisted she allow Mr. Pawsy to take her home. Her feet hurt from the ridiculous shoes she had worn to please her mother, she had a headache due to the riveting conversation she had been made to endure throughout dinner and now, she was stuck in the back of a car with a very unwanted hand on her knee for the fifth time.
She had had enough. “Stewart,” she said sweetly. “If you don’t remove your hand from my knee, I will remove it for you and I can’t promise your fingers will be in the same condition they are now?” Emma said sweetly, but with a determined glint in her eye.
“Oh now, Emma,” Stewart patted her on the knee, “we are just getting to know each other. Your folks are real happy we’re going to start seeing each other.” His hand on her knee began to more up her thigh.
Emma brushed his hand off her leg and demanded, “What?” He had to be delusional if he thought she wanted to see him again. Once was more than enough.
Stewart put his arm around Emma’s shoulders and pulled her close into his side. “I told your mother your age didn’t bother me at all.”
“My age. Wha…” Emma was too stunned to move away. He really thought she was too old for him? He had to be at least twenty years older than her.
“We’ll date and get to know each other, and well, you know, take things for a test drive,” he gave her shoulder a squeeze, and winked at her before he continued, “and then we’ll get married in a month or two.”
“Married…” Emma looked around the limousine for a camera. This had to be a joke. The guys at work at to be in on this.
“I’m sure you want kids right off before your eggs dry up. Your mother said she would only need a month to get a shindig ready.” Stewart’s hand returned to her knee and Emma could smell his kickin’ breath move closer to her face.
“Stop the car.” Finally her senses returned. She sat up straight, and in doing so knocked Stewart in the nose with the top of her head as he moved in for a kiss.
“Driver, stop the car now.” Stewart held his nose and moaned about it being broken. She hadn’t hit him that hard. He was just being a baby.
The limousine pulled over to the side of the road and stopped. Emma opened the door and got out as quickly as she could.
“Mr. Rawleigh, there has been a misunderstanding. I am not on deaths door, and I am certainly not going to marry you. If my mother said I was, she was mistaken. I will not now, or ever consent to marry you.” With that she slammed the door in his shocked face and started walking towards the bus stop. The limousine sped away and that was fine with her.
She had only gotten as far as the corner when a siren sounded behind her and a police car screeched to a stop in front of her. Two police officers got out of the car and walked towards her, “Ma’am, may we see some identification?”
“What?” Emma’s heel hit a rock and she tilted precariously before she caught herself and straighten back up.
“We need to see your identification.” One officer repeated as they both surrounded her and nodded to each other. It was obvious the perp was intoxicated. She couldn’t even stand up.
Emma reached for her bag and then realized she must have left it in Pawsy’s car. “I’m sorry. I must have left my bag in the limousine.” She pasted her best innocent smile on.
“Ma’am, solicitation is against the law.” One of the officers said as he reached behind his back.
“Solici…what?” Emma couldn’t process what his intentions were, “No, no…” When the lightbulb went off in her mind, she was so shocked, she couldn’t even defend herself. They thought she was a prostitute?
“Put your hands on the hood of the car ma’am and spread your legs.” The other officer said as he spun her around facing the police cruiser.
“No, you don’t understand. You have it all wrong.” Emma tried to turn around and explain but a hand pushing on her back prevented her from moving.
“Ma’am are you resisting arrest?” One officer asked just before Emma felt cold hard steel touch her skin.
Before Emma knew what was happening, she was handcuffed and sitting in the back of a police cruiser with her head spinning. What had just happened?
Leo waited in his car across from the police station. His mark, Vito Ramone Vargas had been picked up for questioning, and had called his number one to pick him up. Leo had been working for the past week trying to find out who Vito’s supplier was and how his drug shipments were getting in.
It had been a while since Leo had been in the field and felt the rush of adrenalin when working undercover. He missed that part of it. The part he didn’t miss was being shot at, living in roach infested motels, and being away from his family for months at a time. That was why he had started his own business. Now days, he ran operations from the comfort of his desk, or war room.
This job had come up suddenly and everyone else was already on another case. The money was good but that wasn’t why he accepted. Eliminating a major trafficking ring was all the incentive Leo had needed.
Leo and his five hand-picked friends from his SEAL days were now partners in a top secret security business. They were called in by governments and major corporations all over the world to handle situations before they became situations. Their mode of operation was to come in under the radar and leave just as invisibly.
Leo had finally gotten inside Vargas’ inner circle. Soon now he would be able to supply his people with the name they needed, and Vitto, and his cronies would be history. His eyes drifted to the front door as he reached into his duffle bag, and pulled out a bottle of water. The waiting…he didn’t miss at all.
Leo scratched his earlobe. The earrings were driving him crazy. How did women wear them all the time? It had been years since he had worn an earring but he needed to look the part. His wardrobe department had gone a bit overboard dressing him.
His phone vibrated, he smiled when he saw the name on the display. His mother had no idea of the time zone he was in. By her time she was just settling in to watch her favorite shows on television. “Hi Mamma.” His eyes kept watch on the two large glass doors for Vito.
“Lorenzo, what is this I hear, you no come to the family dinner on Sunday? Why do you wanna make your Mamma cry? Your father just said, Lorenzo is working this weekend. Working! Since when does my boy work on the Sunday. Your father, he must be wrong. This is right, yes Lorenzo?”
Leo smiled, his mom had lived in the United States for over forty years but she still had a thick Italian accent, “I’m sorry but yes, I’m working this weekend.” Leo scrunched down in his seat as two uniformed officers exited the building.
“But why? I wanted you to meet Mrs. De Santos’ daughter. She is a lovely girl I know you will be so happy to meet her. She would make a good wife Lorenzo and her hips they are wide, she will have many babies. This I know.”
Leo scrubbed his hand down his scruffy face before answering, “I’m sorry Mamma, but I will be working.” He knew what that statement would mean to his mother, it would be like waving a red flag in front of an angry bull, but he would be lucky to wrap the assignment up within two weeks.
“What will I tell Mrs. De Santos? I have already told her you will be here to meet her daughter. They have made plans already.” Leo frowned, his mother switched to Italian which was never a good sign.
“I don’t need help finding a wife, Mamma.” His mother had been trying for years to set him up with any and every marriageable age women in town.
“This I do not believe. You never bring anyone home. I worry Lorenzo. I worry that you will die and never know the happiness that your father and I have had, sharing our lives with each other and with our children. That is what I want for you.” He pinched the bridge of his nose, his mother had turned on the tear works as well.
“I know Mamma, and I want that too. But, I have to do this my way.” He said softer, hoping she would understand and back off. It wasn’t like he wasn’t trying to find a wife. Okay, so it was like he wasn’t trying to find a wife. But what was the rush? He was only thirty four.
“When?” She pressed him for an answer the tears mysteriously dried up, “You are not even dating anyone. You need my help to find a nice young woman. Let me help you. I will call Mrs. Amaya. She knows all the eligible young women…”
“No Mamma,” Leo cut in. He needed to put a stop to her meddling before she contacted Mrs. Amaya. Leo shivered at the thought. “I mean, that’s not necessary. I am already seeing someone.”
“You are?” He knew his mamma would pounce on that information, “Who? Is it someone we know? When did this happen and you didn’t tell your Mamma? Lorenzo this is wonderful, you have made your Mamma very happy. When will we get to meet her?”
“We aaa, haven’t been dating long.” Two more police officers came out and got into their squad card.
“But you know she is the one?” His mom was probably already planning the wedding dinner menu and decorating the church.
“Um, yeah. She could be the one. So you don’t have to worry anymore Mamma.” He looked to the heavens and held his breath. Luckily he didn’t see or hear any lightning bolts.
“I must meet her Lorenzo. Next Sunday, bring her to Sunday dinner with the family.”
“Mom, we just started dating. I can’t do that to her. She will never see me again.”
“Lorenzo,” His mother scolded, “you do what your mother tells you to do. No argument. Next Sunday. I will not invite the cousins. They have no manners. They act like they were raised in a barn I always tell your father this.”
“Mamma, I’ve got to go. I love you.”
“I love you too my son. Next Sunday.”
Leo disconnected the call and tossed his phone into the seat beside him and hit his head over and over again on the steering wheel. What had he gotten himself into now? How was he going to produce a girlfriend that didn’t exist in two weeks?
He stopped pounding his head against the wheel, he could ask his secretary Shannon to pretend to be his girlfriend. After all her husband Mitch wasn’t only his business partner he was also his best friend. If he had a wife he would let Mitch borrow her for Sunday dinner.
Leo sat up straighter as the door of the police station opened. It was about time our boy Vargas came out. Leo blinked his eyes and looked again. It wasn’t Vargas.
“Hello beautiful.” Leo said to himself as he watched the tall leggy vision leave the building, cross the street, and walk down the sidewalk, directly towards him. The closer she came the better the view. He couldn’t decide. Was her hair brown or blonde? Some pieces were a darker blonde or was it a light brown? And then some looked like the sun had streaked parts almost white. All the different shades mixed together made her hair come alive and glow in the darkness of the night as it bounced around her shoulders.
Leo gave up all pretense of watching for Vargas. He only had eyes for the bombshell coming his way. Her black dress looked conservative at first glance, but the closer she came the less he cared about Vargas slipping past him. The short, tight, black, number showed off her bare shoulders, and arms to perfection. Her tanned legs looked even longer in those ridiculously high heels.
But oh what he wouldn’t give to see her in those heels…only those heels. The handcuffs in his back pocket practically burned a hole through his pants begging to be used. He could see her now, handcuffed to his bed with those lethal heels and nothing but her creamy smooth skin in between.
Leo kept his eyes on the lovely lady. She paused on the sidewalk. Her arms wrapped around her waist as she shifted from foot to foot looking up and down the road anxiously. He thought he saw her brush away a tear. Women’s tears were his downfall. Before he could stop and talk himself out of it, Leo slammed the car door and walked slowly towards her.
Hearing someone approach Emma glanced towards the noise, and her beautiful blue eyes widened in fear.
Leo slowed his approach, he didn’t usually have that effect on the ladies but then again he didn’t usually look like a biker gone bad either. His own Mamma wouldn’t recognize him right now.
Emma’s heart stopped when she saw the huge rough man walking towards her. All of the news articles she had never heard or read about abductions raced through her mind. She glanced across the street hoping to catch the attention of an officer going in or out of the station. It seemed her luck was still holding out on her tonight. There wasn’t a soul in sight.
She nervously shifted her eyes back to him. He was close enough now for her to see some of the intricate tattoo’s decorating his arms. There wasn’t an inch of un-inked skin showing. She couldn’t help but wonder how long it took to cover such a massive area. His biceps must measure a foot in circumference easily. His dark gray t-shirt was pulled tightly across his chest, and she could see more ink coming from under the collar and up onto his neck. He even had ink on his right cheekbone. She couldn’t quite make it out, a star maybe or a tear?
Each time his shaggy brown hair whipped in the breeze, Emma caught a flash of gold hoop earrings. A menacing black skull cap was pulled down low on his forehead, and his intense brown eyes were fixed directly on her. She knew where the saying ‘deer in the headlights’ came from, because there was no way she could break the trance his eyes had her under. She was incapable of turning around and running back across the street to safety.
“I’m sorry ma’am,” Leo said as he held his hands up, in what he hoped, was a non-threating gesture. “I didn’t mean to frighten you. You just looked like you needed help. Is everything alright?” Leo didn’t know how to assure her he meant her no harm. Looking the way he did, and as late as it was, he really couldn’t blame her for being suspicious. Her eyes kept darting from him to the police station and then back to him.
“Back up mister, I know karate and I’m not afraid to take you down.” Emma forced her five foot four inch body, into at least, five foot eight and one quarter inches of pure female terror in heels. She planted her heels shoulder width apart like her karate instructor had taught her and balled her hands into tiny fists of fury. Her only thought…why didn’t she go back for lesson number two.
Oh please, he would love to be horizontal with her Leo thought, as he tried to hide his smile at her weak attempt to intimidate him. She was a small thing and even the thought of her taking him down was ridiculous and…exciting. “It’s late. Someone like you shouldn’t be out this late in this area.”
“Someone like me?” Emma repeated. Her chin went up and her entire posture changed from one of combat to one of irritation and outrage.
Leo could almost see the hairs on the back of her neck stand up she was so irate. Once again he fought the smile that threatened. “Yes. Someone beautiful, like you.”
“Are you flirting with me?” Emma didn’t understand it. She should be terrified of the monster man in front of her. But there was just something about…his eyes. That was it. She saw no threat or danger in his eyes.
Leo gave her what he hoped was his best smile before answering, “Well if you have to ask I must not be doing it correctly. My name’s Leo.” He held out his hand to shake but all she did was stare at his hand.
Emma had never seen a hand as big as the one in front of her. She worked with some huge guys, but the hand being held out to her was massive. He could probably crush her throat with very little effort. The span of his hand would probably reach all the way around her neck. She tilted her head to get a better look at his fingers. They were long and lithe with neatly trimmed nails, which didn’t really match the rest of him.
She jumped when he cleared his throat. She felt her face heat and couldn’t believe how rudely she had been staring. Finally, she he reached out to shake his hand and marveled at how tiny her hand looked in contrast to his. When he enclosed her hand into the warmth and strength of his, his heat spread through her body, all the way to her most infrequently used girl parts.
“Emmma.” She squeaked out, cleared her own throat and tried again. “I mean, my name is Emma.” She said as she smiled into the most amused and gorgeous brown eyes she had ever seen. They reminded her of the baby seals she had catalogued a few years back. Mesmerizing. They really shouldn’t make her shiver inside, at least not in a good way.
“It’s nice to meet you Emma. Can I help you get somewhere?” Leo chanced taking a few steps closer.
“No, I mean, I do need to get somewhere but I can find my own way.” Emma watched him warily. If she sprinted she could probably make it off the sidewalk before he caught her.
“Are you sure? I would be happy to see you home safely.” Leo saw her hesitancy and once again he didn’t blame her. If any of his sisters or female cousins got into a car late at night with a strange man, especially one as rough looking as he was, they wouldn’t be able to sit for a week, because he would tan their hides.
He took his phone out and handed it to her. “Here, do you need to call someone to come get you.”
Emma looked at his cellphone. She had already called her friends from the police station. They were still out celebrating their catch. She had left messages on their phones. That only left…she grimaced at the thought, her parents. No way would she call them to rescue her from the police station.
“No thank you, I don’t have anyone to call that I haven’t already left messages with.”
“Can I call a taxi for you?”
That would be nice, but she didn’t have her bag which meant she had no money to pay for the cab. If she ever saw Pawsy again, she just may feed him to a shark! No, she wouldn’t do that to a shark, Pawsy would probably give the shark indigestion.
“No thank you, I’ll just wait here until my friends come.”
Leo knew he was going to regret what he was about to do, but there was no way he could leave her, “Here, take my phone, and call anyone in the contact list. Ask them if it’s safe for me to take you home.”
Emma glanced at his phone. She had one just like it, but in his hand it looked like a toy phone. What choice did she have? The guys probably wouldn’t check their phone till in the morning and she didn’t relish the idea of sitting outside for the remainder of the evening. Was she crazy to think about doing as he asked? She stretched her neck and looked up and down the road for a taxi but nobody was out at this time of the night.
“Thank you,” she took his phone and pulled up the contact list. Scrolling through she found the one name she knew she could trust and swiped the arrow to place the call.
Her blue eyes met curious brown ones as she waited for the phone to ring. “Hello.” A voice with a heavy accent said. If she hadn’t been watching Leo closely, she would have missed the tiny flicker of fear that entered his eyes and then just as quickly left.
“Umm, yes ma’am my name is Emma Shelbrook and I’m calling for Leo.” She still couldn’t make out the ink on his cheekbone.
“I can see that, you are calling from his phone. Oh, is this his fidanzata? Emma, ahh what a bellino name. His papa and I are so happy we will meet you on Sunday. We have waited so long for our Lorenzo to bring a ragazza speciale home to meet us. I must call his brothers and sisters, they will be so happy you are coming to our home.”
“No, ma’am. I mean…” Emma had to hold the phone away from her ear as the one sided conversation continued at a higher octave. All Emma really knew was she was excited about something special and she sounded like a proud mother. So her son, whom she was looking at now, could be trusted to see her home safely. However, he was looking a little green around the edges at the moment.
Emma shrugged and handed the phone back to Leo, his mother still talking a mile a minute.
“Mamma,” Leo tried to interrupt again, he listened to his mother go on and on about Sunday. He swallowed and closed his eyes. How was he ever going to get out of it now? She thought she had actual proof his girlfriend existed. Now he not only had to find a girlfriend, but her name had to be Emma.
Emma’s eyes sparkled in humor as she watched the big bad man get taken down by his Mamma. How cute was that? The fierce looking man in front of her called his mother, Mamma? If she had any reservations left, the last of them just dissolved.
“Mamma, I must go now. I love you too. I will try Mamma.” Leo hung up the phone and waited for Emma’s reaction. He didn’t have long to wait.
“Lorenzo?” Emma asked looking up at him through her lashes.
“Italian.” Leo shrugged with his hands, and offered in response.
“Ahhh, that explains it. I had no idea what your mother was saying half the time.”
“You’re invited for Sunday dinner.” Leo said in defeat.
“Why would your mother invite me?”
“Because, you’re my girlfriend.” He explained.
“What?” Emma couldn’t have heard him correctly.
“Listen, can I explain in the car. Let me take you home.” Leo held out his hand again.Emma hesitated only a moment. The ridiculously buff and rough looking man in front of her would see her home safely. Of that she had no doubt. How she knew that…she had no idea. She placed her hand in his once more and felt a hum move through her. “Okay, let’s go.”