Book Four of the Tender Mysteries Series of Inspirational Historical Romance features Liza Green and Antonio Black. This book will be available in e-book and paperback in early June.
June, 1896: Liza’s accused of stealing fifteen hundred dollars, and Antonio seems to be the only person who can help her out of the mess she’s in--even though she doesn’t exactly trust the handsome private investigator.
Antonio believes Liza is as guilty as the prosecutor says she is, but, having been instantly smitten with the beautiful woman, he wants more than anything to find a way to get her acquitted of the charges against her.
Antonio devises a plan to prove Liza’s innocence by trying to connect the missing money to a ring of pickpockets who have been operating in eastern Nebraska. Despite the fact that he has every intention of running his investigation on his own, Liza, trusting her life to no one but herself, doggedly stays at his side.
Caught up in the adventure of dealing with pickpockets, train robbers and desperados, Liza is swept into romance as well, and, before long, she realizes she’s found something special with Antonio she hadn’t even known she’d been seeking.
Setup: Liza is meeting for the first time with handsome private investigator Antonio Black, hoping to get him to help her find a way out of the trouble she's in.
He took her arm and led her back to her chair. “Please, sit down and tell me everything about the case against you.”
She returned to her seat, and he returned to his.
She gazed at him silently for several moments before she spoke. “I have been working at Hoffman’s All Goods since I was sixteen, slightly more than three years,” she said. “Mr. Hoffman has been a wonderful employer, and, each year, he’s entrusted me with more and more responsibility.”
She realized she was twisting her fingers so she stopped the nervous habit before Mr. Black noticed it.
“Mr. Hoffman generally keeps receipts in his safe, and once every month or two a deposit is made into the store’s bank account.” She paused and took a calming breath. “For the last eight months he’s trusted me to give the books a thorough looking over every six to eight weeks. When I’ve finished my accounting, I take the cash and bank drafts from the safe and make a deposit at the bank.”
“That’s quite a bit of responsibility for a woman as young as you are,” Mr. Black interjected. “You’ve been entrusted with this duty for eight months now?”
“Has Mr. Hoffman ever pointed out any problem with your work up to now?”
Liza shook her head. “Never.”
He waved his hand toward her. “Please, go on with your story.”
She bit the corner of her mouth and nodded. “A few days ago…” Liza swallowed hard as she recalled the day the money disappeared. “I was tallying up the receipts for the last two months. I reconciled the receipts with the cash and bank drafts, and I prepared everything necessary to make the bank deposit.” A knot formed in her stomach. “I left the store with the fifteen hundred and some odd dollars in the bag the Merchant’s Bank gave us to hold our deposits.” She glanced downward and paused. “I went straight to the bank,” she said, looking at him again, “and when I arrived the money was gone.”
He sat forward. “I beg your pardon?” His brows drew together. “Are you saying the money just disappeared?”
Liza looked down and nodded.
“Miss Green, look at me.”
She did as he commanded.
He leaned back in his chair. “Last year I went to see the performance of a magician named Harry Houdini. That’s the stage name of a man from Appleton, Wisconsin who recently began to entertain people with his amazing abilities.”
Liza scowled at him. “What has your attending a performance of a magician got to do with what we’re discussing?”
“Miss Green,” he said, tracing a line on his desk with his finger, “I don’t think even Houdini could make fifteen hundred dollars disappear from a bank deposit bag.”
She bolted to her feet. “I’ve never heard of Harry Houdini, nor do I care one whit about who the man is or what he does. I tell you, when I opened the bank deposit bag at the Merchant’s Bank there was nothing inside but cutup newspaper instead of the money and bank drafts I’d placed there.”
“Is this the story you’ve been telling the authorities?” he asked as he got to his feet.
“It is,” she replied firmly.
“Whew,” he said, brushing back his neatly-groomed short, curly black hair. “If this is what you intend to use as your defense, you might want to start studying up on Houdini’s techniques because the only way you’re going to get out of the binding situation you’ve gotten yourself into is by knowing some very clever methods of escape.”
Liza finds lots of trouble, and a treasured love, in "Recruited." Look for the paperback at Amazon and the e-book at all major Internet bookstores in early June.
Have another great week!
Fran Shaff, Award-Winning Author
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