(What Doesn’t Kill You, #9)
An Ava Romantic Mystery
PAMELA FAGAN HUTCHINS
Genre: Romantic Mystery / R-Rated
Publisher: SkipJack Publishing
Date of Publication: July 11, 2017
Number of Pages: 236
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Temp worker by day, lounge singer by night, single mom Ava is having a hard time breaking up with her long-distance boyfriend and making it without the support of her parents on the island of St. Marcos. Things improve dramatically when she lands a too-good-to-be-true job at a virtual currency exchange, where she meets a seriously sexy man, and goes to work for a boss so incredible he sponsors her on a trip to New York to record a demo. But when Ava stumbles across the raped and murdered body of a young woman, she recognizes her from a shared trauma back in their school days. Ava is devastated and throws herself into avenging the girl’s death. From that moment on, it’s one bombshell after another, going off closer and closer to Ava and the people she cares about most.
PRAISE FOR BOMBSHELL:
“Just when I think I couldn’t love another Pamela Fagan Hutchins novel more, along comes Ava. She’s smart and sassy, with a story full of juicy plot twists. I enjoyed Bombshell from cover to cover!” — Marcy McKay, author of Pennies from Burger Heaven
“To finally get a whole book of Ava’s beautiful voice and attitude was so much fun. And then to see that her outer armor was mixed with the very real insecurities and struggles that we can all relate to was magical. She personifies bombshell in every sense of word and I can’t wait to have her voice in my head again in Stunner.” — Tara Scheyer, Grammy-nominated musician, Long-Distance Sisters Book Club
“Entertaining, complex, and thought-provoking.” — Ginger Copeland, power reader
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(What Doesn’t Kill You, #9):
An Ava Romantic Mystery
by Pamela Fagan Hutchins
I’m getting too old for this shit.
The Outlook Calendar warns me it’s Monday, June 22, exactly one month away from my thirty-second birthday. I can’t make ends meet as a singer without this crap temp-agency job, still only getting by with my parents’ help and an occasional boost from public assistance. My nearly-toddler’s sperm-donor father is long gone, along with any hope he’ll ever help out financially. For once I agree with my mom: I need a real job, a grown-up job, and those are few and far between on the island of St. Marcos.
I open a browser and pull up the St. Marcos Source news site, thinking I’ll scan the classifieds for something better. The lead story stops me: LAND PIRATES WAYLAY TOURISTS IN WEST END RAINFOREST. Not again.
How many times do these low-life road thieves have to hijack a carful of day‑trippers before the Department of Tourism passes out flyers at airport baggage claim? Rule One: no bathing suits except where there’s water. Rule Two: keep your fancy-ass cars on the east end of the island.
I click on my horoscope instead of the classifieds, my talon-like nails forcing my fingers flat against the mouse. Before I can process today’s guidance, I hear the unmistakable sound of support-hose-clad thighs rubbing together, feet padding along toward me in closed-toe ballet flats. That’s McKenna. She runs ABC Temps for her parents, even though she’s way overqualified.
I want to tell her she’s better without the hose and little-girl shoes, but I don’t.
I close my browser. My phone vibrates and I glance down, quick. It’s a text from Collin, the Santa Fe cop, muscle-bound and too Top Gun cute for his own good: Why aren’t you answering me?
Collin is my best friend Katie’s brother. A notorious player whose clothes I seem to rip off every time we’re in the same zip code. He can’t take the hint to let me go. Maybe because we burned up the sheets every weekend for two months, pretending the thing between us was going somewhere. I’d told him then I couldn’t make any promises. He told me he didn’t need any. He should have believed me. I shouldn’t have believed him. Now he thinks he knows me, but he doesn’t. And that’s for the best. Keeping our relationship a secret from Katie is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and if I break up with him now, she’ll never know.
A shudder runs through me, a terrifying flashback to three officers killed in the line of duty in the last few weeks. Collin’s safe, but I can’t stand worrying some fool is going to shoot him down. I’m black, and I hate cops killing so many black people for no good reason or not enough of one—but Collin’s life matters, too. Yeah, he’s got serious potential to break my heart in more ways than one.
I think what I don’t type: It was a fling. I’m not who you think I am. Get over me.
Instead, I run a finger over my ring, a gift from my parents when I turned sixteen, gold inset with chips of ruby. It’s supposed to give me courage. My mom hoped that would be the courage to remain chaste and pure (she’d already missed that boat) and possibly, someday, fulfill her dream that I become a true “bride of Christ” (she was sorely disappointed on that one, too).
I don’t know why I still wear it, but I do. I give it a few seconds, but no burst of courage overtakes me, so I ignore Collin’s text, again. Like I have the other four. Honestly, I’ve never understood why people treat receiving messages like they’re obligated to respond immediately. Free will, baby. Or, as I like to call it, RNO: response not obligated.
Who am I kidding? Ignoring him is harder than I make it sound. I turn my phone facedown to help me stay strong. I wipe sweat from my brow. It’s stuffy and musty and just plain summer hot. ABC can’t afford AC.
McKenna brushes past me, escorting a woman to the front door. “We don’t keep plants here. Sorry.”
The woman is small and Asian and smells fresh, like lemongrass and lavender. She’s wearing a white T-shirt that says GREEN THUMB across the front. “I understand.” She hands McKenna a card. “In case you change your mind.”
The door opens and closes. McKenna slips the card into her skirt pocket.
She comes back my way, plants herself in front of my desk, her arms crossed over her ample bosom. “Ava girl.” Her calypso accent is thick, and she’s smiling at me like she’s reggae Santa Claus or something. “I sending you to the West End today. Pack up.”
Pamela Fagan Hutchins writes overly long e-mails, award-winning and best-selling romantic mysteries, and hilarious nonfiction from deep in the heart of Nowheresville, Texas and way up in the frozen north of Snowheresville, Wyoming.
Her What Doesn’t Kill You romantic mystery series is Janet Evanovich meets Sandra Brown and a smidge of Alice Hoffman’s practical magic, featuring a revolving lineup of interrelated female amateur sleuths. She is passionate about great writing and smart authorpreneurship as well as long hikes with her hunky husband and pack of rescue dogs, riding her gigantic horses, experimenting with her Keurig, and traveling in the Bookmobile.
2017 WINNER Silver Falchion Award, Best Mystery
2016 WINNER USA Best Book Award, Cross Genre Fiction
2015 WINNER USA Best Book Award, Cross Genre Fiction
2014 USA Best Book Award Finalist, Cross Genre Fiction
2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarter-finalist, Romance
2013 USA Best Book Award Finalist, Business: Publishing
2012 Winner of the Houston Writers Guild Ghost Story Contest
2012 WINNER USA Best Book Award, Parenting: Divorce
2011 Winner of the Houston Writers Guild Novel Contest, Mainstream
2010 Winner of the Writers League of Texas Manuscript Contest, Romance
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