Today, we’re happy to announce the winner of the Suspense/Crime/Mystery category of our contest (which, at least for the moment, is still called Out of the Slush Pile, Novel Journey’s Fifteen Minutes of Fame Contest).
The story is romantic suspense, but from the synopsis, it seems to fit in this month’s category better than Romance. And it is, indeed, a good fit. With writing this solid and characters so believable, the reader is immediately drawn into the tension that explodes right from the start. Put all this together into a fresh, intriguing plot, and judges believe this has all the elements of a successful launch.
We’re sure you’ll enjoy reading the first two (short) chapters of this month’s winning entry: Out of Darkness, by Erynn Newman of Raleigh, North Carolina.
Out of Darkness
by Erynn Newman
“Mrs. Andrew Marek. I like the sound of that . . .” Elisabeth brushed her cheek against Drew’s lapel and admired the way her new wedding band wrapped around her engagement ring, the diamonds sparkling under the dance floor lights. The reception was winding down. She had long since kicked off her shoes and now stood barefoot on his feet as they swayed back and forth, barely moving to the music.
“Are you still staring at that ring?” His blue eyes shone with laughter.
“What? I’m allowed.” She bit her lip to keep from smiling. She’d been smiling for so long her cheeks hurt.
“I think she’s allowed to do anything she wants as long as she’s wearing that dress.” Gabe Di Salvo, Drew’s best man and CIA partner, bowed in front of Elisabeth. “Would you mind if I stole you away for a moment, m’lady?”
Drew tightened his grip on her. “Good luck with that, Gabriella. You’ll have to pry her from my—”
“Wait just a second.” Elisabeth cut him off even though his jealousy was kind of cute, and she certainly wasn’t complaining about how good his arms felt around her. Now was not the time to lose focus. “Is that true? Anything I want?” She laced her words with mischief. “Why have I not been using this to my advantage? In that case, I would like . . .”
She grasped Drew by the lapels of his tuxedo jacket and whispered in his ear, leaning back in time to see his eyes widen and a slight blush creep up his neck.
He cleared his throat and spun her into Gabe’s waiting arms. “So, it looks like I need to go check on the status of our limo.”
Gabe grinned as if he’d won the lottery. “Take your time. I’ll just be here, dazzling your bride with my dance moves.”
He put on his best threatening CIA operative look. “I’ll be right back. Try not to get carried away.”
“Which one of us are you talking to?” Gabe dipped Elisabeth with a flourish.
“You know exactly who I’m talking to, Di Salvo. Take care of her for me. You’re holding my heart in those gorilla paws you try to pass off as hands.”
“Aww . . . how romantic.” She rolled her eyes.
Drew grabbed her hand and pulled her in for a dizzying kiss and then bolted for the door with a wink for her and a “Seriously, Bro . . .” for Gabe.
“I will guard her with my life.” Gabe’s tone was serious, and he kept a stern look on his face until Drew was out of earshot. She was still standing there swaying on her feet from the kiss, when she felt Gabe’s arms wrap around her. “Alright, out with it. Where’s he hiding the limo? I’ve searched everywhere, even used some of my agency connections, and I can not find it. How am I supposed to cover it in embarrassing messages and paraphernalia if I can’t find it?”
She poked a finger at Gabe’s chest. “You aren’t supposed to find it. That’s the point. And don’t think all that CIA ninja stuff they taught you will keep me from kicking your butt, Di Salvo.”
Gabe carefully removed her finger from his chest. “Ouch, okay. I get the point. Spoken like a true Marek.”
“Why, thank you.” She smirked before waving a hand at him. “Now then, I don’t feel sufficiently dazzled. Show me what you’ve got in this dance arsenal of yours.”