Story Excerpt
Hot Mess 4

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I had once thought that my life was the comic relief for the universe. Today, I was positive I had been right in my line of thinking. It was the only way to explain how I ended up sitting on the floor of my favorite Thai restaurant, surrounded by armed men and hostages.

It was my anniversary after all.

Every year for the last three years—four if you count the actual day I had met Lt. Salvador Delvecchio and he decided to keep me—something occurred that fucked up us spending our anniversary together.

On our first anniversary, Sal had been sucked into going undercover. To give the man some due, he had thought our anniversary was a week later than it actually was. That hadn't been the problem. That, I would have understood. It was him trying to hide what he was doing from me that caused our world to turn upside down.

He never made that mistake again.

Last year, Sal had been hurt on the job while chasing a perp. I had been hurt while trying to protect him, and then things got really interesting.

This time around, I had planned to skip all the bells and whistles—or sheer fabric shirt and g-string, in our case—and just let whatever happened happen.

This was not what I had in mind.

I glanced to the brown haired man sitting to my left. His blue eyes were as round as they could be, watching every little thing our captors did. With Lyn Philips being a police officer and all, that kind of made sense. He was probably watching so he could give a good statement later and help prosecute the bad guys.

A quick glance to my right showed that my other friend wasn't so wide eyed. In fact, his eyes were narrowed into tiny little slits. I had a sinking feeling he was seething with anger. That too made sense. Eddie Wu tended to get angry when people tried to cage him in. More than one idiot had learned that the hard way.

I was afraid these morons were going to learn it, too.


I just wasn't sure if it was going to be the SWAT unit Sal belonged to that was going to teach them that valuable lesson or the "alleged" mobsters that kept Eddie safe that were going to do it. Either way, these bumbling idiots didn't have a chance in hell.

My eyes rounded and snapped to the three armed men when my phone suddenly started playing the theme song from "Bad Boys". It was stereotypical to have that as Sal's ringtone, but "I want to sex you up" wasn't exactly appropriate.

I winced when the song snippet played again and again, drawing more attention than I really wanted at the moment.


I jumped and cringed back when one of the gunmen stopped in front of me. I wanted to reach up and break off the finger he pointed at me.

I didn't.

"Get up."

I swallowed tightly, the ball of nerves clogging my throat making it hard to breathe.

"Hurry the hell up!" the masked man snapped when I didn't move fast enough.

When he waved his very large, very black automatic rifle at me, I scrambled to my feet. I had seen enough weapons in my time to know that this idiots gun could not only take me out if fired, but half the hostages in the place.

"Give me your phone."

I pulled it out of my pocket.

"Will I get it back?" I asked as I gripped it tightly in my hand, not handing it over. I liked my phone. Sal had given it to me. It was neon green. "Because it has all my pictures and stuff on it, not to mention my phone numbers, and god knows I can't remember a phone number to save my life. It's just so much easier dialing one or two or seven or whatever. Don't you think?"

The dark eyes visible through the small round holes in the guy's mask widened briefly before filling with anger.

I always expect violence to happen when I'm being held hostage—or kidnapped or attacked by hit men or driving a car—but then when it does, I'm still surprised. When the man pistol whipped me across the face, I cried out, grabbing at my cheek, which hurt like hell.

A shaft of pain ripped through the side of my face, and for a moment, I wondered if my jaw was broken. I opened my mouth wide, feeling my jaw pop. Okay. Maybe not broken, but damn, it hurt.

I stared at him. Hard. "Why'd you do that? I was going to give you my phone."


My opinion of the man's manners didn't get any better when he grabbed me and dragged me over to the hostess counter where his two friends were standing. I much preferred the floor with the other hostages.

Well, truthfully, I preferred my penthouse, but I didn't think I was going to get my wish there, and it wasn't like I was going to invite these yahoos back to play Parcheesi.

"What is your name?" the man I thought of as the "chief asshole" asked.

Well, he kind of demanded.

"Lany Delvecchio."

That's what it said on my driver's license, and I had no problem sharing that bit of information. I was proud to be Lany Delvecchio. It was better than Lancaster Harris III, the name I had been born with.

Sal had christened me Lany when we met. He had made me a Delvecchio when we got married three years ago.

I went by nothing else.

Well, I went by caro, too, but only for Sal. And my parents and uncle called me Junior. I hated it, but long ago accepted it.

My eyes popped wider when the man held my cell phone out to me. I started to reach for it, but then paused, the wheels in my brain working over time. Hell, they were practically leaving skid marks.

"He just took my phone from me." I gestured toward Mr. Meany. "Why are you giving it back?"

"I want you to make a little phone call."

"Oh hell no!" I took two steps back before spinning and running back over to where Eddie and Lyn sat. There was no way I was going to be the go between for these idiots.

As big as their guns were, Sal's were bigger.

"Hey!" the chief idiot shouted. "Get your ass back here."

I jumped when the man fired off a round into the ceiling, but that didn't stop me from returning to my spot on the floor.

They might have been idiots, but I wasn't.


I rolled my eyes at Eddie and Lyn as I crawled between them and sat down.

"I'm gonna shoot your ass if you don't get back here."

I shook my head vehemently. "Then you're just going to have to shoot me. I'm not making that phone call."

"He wants you to make a phone call?" Lyn asked.

I nodded.

"But he just took your phone."

"I know, right?"

It was nice to know I wasn't the only one that saw that as weird.

And somewhat counterproductive.

Just how unprofessional were these guys?

"Who does he want you to call?" Eddie asked.

I just stared at the man.

Eddie's eyes rounded as he sucked in a quick breath. "Oh no, you can't do that."