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The Whisper of Temptation – Teaser 2 (Book 8 in the Girl on Fire Series)

Beautiful blonde girl on beach, summertime

(NB: This is the second teaser in this book. The first was released on
06 June 2017. Please read that first)

SCARLETT

You are never going to believe this, but guess what? Rival MacBitch has emailed me. Well, she emailed Clover, not me. Probably to defend her sister-in-law, Arena. Probably to blast me for my ‘harshness.’ Let’s see what the slut has to say, shall we?

From: Rival MacMillan RivalMacmillanAuthor@Authors.com
Sent: Friday, 4 June 2016, 11: 25 AM
To: Clover Callan Clover.Callan@hotmail.com
Subject: Rival and the Gang

Hello there, Clover. We all in Sydney were talking about you and Pastor Colin. Just wondering how you both were doing in your new home. Is everything okay? Where about are you? Are you settling in? Do you miss Sydney? Are you pining for the UK? Where are you guys located? So many questions, lol!
Keep in touch. Would love to hear from you.
Regards to Pastor Colin.

Rival (Smiley face)
PS: Would love to visit you sometimes.

 Well, well, well! What do you know? Arena hasn’t told Rival about my lambasting email? Isn’t that interesting?
The question is: why? Maybe they no longer speak due to some petty family squabble?Maybe they no longer speak due to some major, irreparable family feud that will span generations?
Maybe … Arena is so ashamed at my chastising and accusations, because they ring true, that she refuses to share my email with her sister-in-law? A girl can hope, now, can’t she?

Well, whatever the reason, Rival MacBitch has walked right into the lion’s den. This whacko stole my book and passed it off as her own, remember? It’s time for payback – watch me kill two angry birds with one stone – mow down this slag and stir up trouble between Arena and her. This is going to be interesting, let me tell you. You might want to mix yourself a pitcher of tea. I’m talking Long Island Iced Tea of course. (Generous helpings of tequilavodkalight rumtriple secgin, with a mere splash of Diet Coke. Every alcoholic has their own variant to this recipe, so feel free to stray from the norm and change the recipe to suit your alcoholism.) Go on, go fetch your tea; I’ll wait for you.

Ready? Let’s go girls!

From: Clover Callan <Clover.Callan@hotmail.com>
Sent: Friday 4 June, 5:26 PM
To: Rival MacMillan RivalMacmillanAuthor@Authors.com
Subject: Rival and the GangBangers

(Rival and the gangBangers! Mwahahaha!)

Dear Rival, funny you should write. My husband and I were just discussing you, when your email popped into my inbox. Yes, Pastor Colin and I have settled into our new home and we are very happy in it. Do I miss Sydney? No, I do not miss Sydney, neither am I pining for the UK. The moment we arrived here, we felt like we belonged. Moving away from Sydney was the best thing we could have done.
Keep in touch, you say? Well, that might pose a problem. Perhaps I should explain. You see, Rival, Pastor Colin and I have read one of your books. Finally. It was given to us by your sister-in-law, Arena. She begged us to read it, in the hopes that we saw what she saw – i.e. a sad soul in need of urgent help. She hoped that after reading your book, we would encourage and assist you to get the necessary help you so badly require.  

First, it was a struggle to get into your book, because of the dark, and almost taboo-like subject matter. Then, it was a struggle to finish it, because, let’s just say (please don’t take this the wrong way) the fractured writing style, coupled with what some people would call sick, deplorable and vitriolic ramblings (some people, not me, I understand that it was you expressing yourself in an ‘artistic’ manner), was a challenge, to say the least.
However, as I believe in finishing what I start, I soldiered on until I reached the end of your book.
My conclusion? Well, please forgive me if I come across as blunt, because there is no other way to say this, Rival – Pastor and I have discussed your book, and we have come to the conclusion that Arena was right – you must seek urgent professional help, Rival. See a therapist immediately, Rival, a psychiatrist at that. On an ongoing basis, too. We believe that your psychiatrist will be most interested in your bizarre and noir ‘art’. We suspect he may want to study both you and your ‘art’.

I urge you to be open, and forthcoming and expose that Jekyll and Hyde personality of yours, Rival. In order for him to really help you, drill deep down into your psyche, honesty on your part would be imperative. Your psychiatrist would have to see through that librarian, Laura Ashley exterior you present to those in your sphere of influence, and confront that desperate, derelict, crack-whore side of your personality surfacing in your ‘art.’

(How am I doing thus far? Good? Well, I’m glad you’re enjoying my slaughtering of Rival. Now, there’s more passive aggression in store for Rival, so keep sipping on that tea of yours. And remember, be like the British – crook that little finger of yours when you drink your tea. It’s classy. Ignore those who claim that sticking out your pinky is rude and connotes elitism. They’re just jealous of the British, because the pound is mightier than the dollar, trust me. That, and the fact that the British have Adele.)

Pastor Colin and I fear that your ‘art’ may have a negative impact on your family members – for example; how does Ritchie face his work colleagues, clients and friends after they have been exposed to, as Arena calls it, your ‘sordid art’?
Your children, Rival – how do they manage to keep their friends and remain socially active after the parents of said friends discover this dark side of you, their mother? Your children’s school teachers and tutors – how do they perceive your children now that they have been exposed to your ‘creative’ side’, Rival?
Pastor and I, together with Arena and Bear, genuinely worry (and pray) for your family, fearing that they, unbeknownst to you, are secretly embarrassed and ashamed of your writing. We worry that your family exists in a constant state of despair and humiliation over your published works.
Think about it; your daughters – little darlings that they are, they’re probably haunted by your public arrest over the murder of their beloved father. Throw, what some people may call your depraved ‘art’ (not me, I repeat, I understand that it is not depraved, but just you expressing yourself) into the mix, and what do they get? That’s right, several extra helpings of mortification.

As leaders in the church, and in our community, it might be best for all if we keep a certain distance from you. We have a reputation to maintain, our church has a reputation to maintain and it is imperative that we lead by example. Since you are judged by the company you keep, we simply cannot afford to be visited, or be seen visiting an ‘artist’ like yourself.

Please, if I come across as blunt and cruel, do not be angry at me, Rival, for I come from a place of love and spirituality. Why? Because I care deeply about you and your precious family, that’s why. Even your sister-in-law, Arena – I can very well understand if you perceive her as meddling, jealous and a backstabber. If you decide to sever all ties with her because you feel betrayed by her seemingly underhanded actions. However, Rival, I must point out that I for one, believe that Arena has nothing but immense love for you and your family. She just cares, that’s all. Perhaps a little too much, but she too comes from a place of love.

Pastor Colin and I, together with Arena and her husband, will be praying for you and your family, Rival. Even though we will cease all contact with you, you will be forever in our thoughts.

Love to your husband and wonderful children.

Sincerely

Clover Callan (Smiley face)

How did I do? Fantastic, you say? But of course!
You can be assured, Rival will be fuming when she reads this email. She will be confused with my accusations and she may discuss it with Ritchie. He may be equally confused, then declare that his sister is nothing like that. He may accuse me, or Clover Callan of making trouble between the two families. Rival may agree with her husband. He may suggest they have a chat with Arena and Bear about it, clear the air – “That’s always the best way to handle this type of conflict,” he may say. Rival may agree.
They may all end up seated at a table and duke it out over husband-sized helpings of Boboti and curry. Over whisky and wine and white port, they may reiterate how much they all love each other and how they have each other’s back. Bear might remind Rival that Arena helped her when she escaped the lunatic asylum (well, not escaped, but let’s pretend she did for impact purposes) Rival will nod and express that she will be forever grateful to Arena for being there when no one else was. Arena and Rival might shed a few tears and hug it out.

Yes, they may eventually accept each other’s explanation/ apologies, have more drinks, bear-hug the fuck out of each other during their drunken goodbyes, and take turns expressing how glad they are to clear that air.
However, those birdseeds of doubt … they have been sown into Rival’s hardly-used brain by Clover Callan. Long after the vino and port has expired from her system, Rival will stare at the ceiling in the dark and mull over the email. Soon, doubts will fester in her mind and she will find herself being cautious and guarded around her sister-in-law. (What if Clover Callan was telling the truth? What if Arena really is two-faced and underhanded, a backstabber who is out to sabotage me? After all, Arena was always quick to talk about my success as an author to everyone we meet. Was it all just a show? A ruse to set me up for failure? Was Arena in fact quietly jealous of me? I’m so confused.)
Well, that’s what I believe will happen once she receives my scathing and contemptuous email. Well, not mine, but Clover Callan’s. One thing you can be certain off; the relationship between Clover and Rival is … history!
Cool, huh?
Well, I expect a lengthy email in return from her.
How’s that tea going? Still brewing? Good.

****

Rival MacBitch has replied. Let’s check out her response, shall we? Should be interesting. Got your tea? A pitcher of it? Good.

From: Rival MacMillan RivalMacmillanAuthor@Authors.com
Sent: Friday, 5 June 2016, 06:03 AM
To: Clover Callan Clover.Callan@hotmail.com
Subject: Rival and the gangbangers

Congratulations, Clover! You are right; my book was written by a depraved, lost soul who was not fortunate enough to experience lasting love and contentment. She lived her whole life marinating in disappointment and coveting what others had. You know what, Clover? She reminds me so much of you.
Take care.
Rival and the gangbangers (Smiley face)

That’s it? You cannot be serious. And here I have this giant pitcher of tea in anticipation of her lengthy email. Oh, well, best not to let good tea to go to waste. Hold on a minute while I take a sip. That was delicious and refreshing.
Anyway, don’t worry, from now onward, whenever Arena mentions Rival’s success as an author, Rival will stiffen and listen carefully to her words. Then, she will post-mortem all that Arena has said, screening her own words for underlying hostility, jealously and ambiguity.
Arena will sense that, and soon, she will no longer mention Rival’s success as an author. Rival will have a problem with that too – why has Arena stopped talking about my success as an author? Is she no longer proud of me? Is she talking behind my back?

The tension between these women will have a ripple effect. Bear and Ritchie, they work together, remember? Friction will form between the two husbands. Irritability and anger will lurk beneath the surface, ready to rear their ugly heads. The men will snap and argue over trivial things, and soon, work will be as unpleasant and tense home. All because of the suspicion and doubt engineered by Clover Callan.
Nothing will be the same, because of …? That’s right, moi!
A round of applause, please!

 

 

 

Beautiful blonde girl on beach, summertime

Release Date: 01 July 2017

 

 

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My editor, Missy (short for ‘Mistake’), taking a power nap between programs 🙂

 

Facebook sabotage 4 7 april 16 3

“Lock out your husband, put out your pets, order take-out for dinner even, because once you start reading this book, you won’t want to be interrupted, trust me.” Amazon reviewer

******

A mild-mannered wife awakes one day to find that she has been replaced by a cunning seductress.
Helplessly, she watches the other woman help herself to her husband, her children and her life.
Then one day, she snaps. With nothing to lose, she sets out to destroy the other woman and win back her family.
Her techniques are dirty and underhanded, causing untold misery to her nemeses, rocking the foundations of her ex-husband’s new marriage.
Trouble is, the other woman does not believe in losing and has no intention of backing down. The wife and mistress collide, and mayhem and murder follow.

********

If you’ve enjoyed Gone Girl, HBO’s The Affair, Fatal Attraction and Big Little Lies, you will enjoy this fast-paced, action-packed thriller about revenge and retribution.

*******

A #RomanticCrime #RomanticSuspense novel about #love #lust and #revenge. Big revenge. Huge!

Amazon UK:
http://amzn.to/1E3KGa7

Amazon US:
http://amzn.to/1BeLcB5

Amazon Aus:
http://bit.ly/1IXc5up

 

*****

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Now available on Amazon!

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Reviews:

“OMG!!! Yet another amazing book by Eve. From the moment you start reading, you are gripped. I have recommended Eve to friends and family.” Smashwords reviewer

“I just finished the book. All I have to say is, HOLY SHIT, EVE! You wrote a killer story that grabs the reader’s attention and keeps it.” Smashwords Reviewer

“OMG Eve! You are absolutely BRILLIANT! I never saw that ending coming!” Smashwords Reviewer

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“Wow! I loved this story! My suggestion, do what I did: find a quiet hiding spot, turn off your phone and escape into Scarlet’s world for a few hours. I promise you will not be disappointed.” Smashwords Reviewer

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until it’s over…then you feel a bit disappointed because you want more.” Smashwords Reviewer

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This is not a stand-alone book, so make sure you have read The Other Woman first – A betrayed wife collides with the other woman (Romantic crime and suspense).

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“Wow! People are going to have to clear the schedules for this one, Eve. It’s a winner for sure! I’ve never read anything like this before. Where the hell do you get your ideas from? Never mind, just keep ’em coming.” Smashwords reviewer

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Eve Rabi’s 27th romantic crime & Suspense

thriller coming late November 2016!

Don’t Call me Gringa!! (Warning: strong language, sexual references, violence)

Excerpt from, Gringa – In the Clutches of a Ruthless Drug Lord by Eve Rabi

Image

‘Gringaaa!’ Diablo yells.

I slam the door on his hollering. Bastard can go to hell.

‘Gringaaa!’ he yells again, and again, I ignore him.

Finally, Maria quietly enters my room, a worried look on her face. ‘Senorita please …’

‘Maria, you tell him …’ I wave my finger at her, ‘tell him my name is Payton, and not fucking “Gringaaa! Gringaaa! Gringaaa!”’

Before she can respond, Diablo storms into my room and of course, hears what I say.

‘Come to lunch,’ he says in a strained, but controlled voice.

I look him in the eye. ‘No!’

He stiffens. ‘Come to lunch.’

‘No! I don’t wanna eat with you, okay?’

He grabs me by the scruff of my neck and drags me out of the room to the lunch table.

‘Leave me the fuck alone!’

He shoves me into the dining room. It’s Saturday so that entire gang is there, in the mood to party and to be entertained. Watching Diablo drag me to the table sends a hum through the room.

Humiliated and seething, I sit down and drum my nails on the table. I don’t eat or look at him.

‘Eat!’ he orders.

I ignore him and drum louder, furiously.

A man named Norman, seated next to me, leans over and says, ‘Senorita gringa want Whisky?

‘Yes please, Norman.’

Norman pours the whisky and places the glass in front of me.

‘Thank you Norman,’ I say, bypassing the glass and reaching for the bottle.

Norman’s eyes grow huge when he sees me taking giant swigs from the bottle.

It’s awful. I hate whisky. Tastes like gasoline to me. ‘Damn!’ I say, wiping my mouth with the back of my hand. ‘This sure is mighty fine whisky, Norman.’

‘Eh, Senorita gringa, my name …’

‘Lemme pour you one, Norman.’ I top his glass to the brim and hand it to him. ‘Knock yourself out,’ I chuckle.

Diablo’s not smiling.

Yeah, I’m supposed to be nice to him now that the FBI is involved. Well, fuck the FBI and Fuck him.

As lunch progresses, I’m feeling a little more relaxed now. Warm in my toes and even a little confident. Well, they’re eating lunch and I’m drinking mine – whisky, Tequila and some other shit on the table.

After a few more swigs from the bottles, I cross my arms over my head and whistle Hit me Baby One More Time  by Brittany bitch. Totally out of tune, but hey, who gives a fuck right now.

Diablo’s hairy face reveals little, but somehow I don’t think he’s comfortable with my drinking. Hell, I’m not comfortable with my drinking, but screw him.

They’re passing around pictures. Pornographic pictures and the conversation becomes steamy.

Usually, I pass on the pictures, but today, I snatch them out of Norman’s hand. ‘Lemme see that!’

I peer at the picture then burst out laughing. ‘That’s the fugliest flower I have ever come across,’ I say.

‘Eh, Senorita gringa, iiis not a flower, iiis a, how you say it…?’ He snaps his fingers.

‘Pussy,’ some other fucker calls out.

I peer at him. ‘What?!’ I snatch it out of his hands again. ‘Gimmee that.’ I stare at the picture. ‘Mm. Can’t be a woman’s vagina. It’s too fugly. Has to be a man’s.’ I hand him back the picture and go back to my neglected bottle.

‘So many Gringas,’ Antonio says, perving over the pictures. At the mention of the word ‘Gringa’, all eyes zero in on me.

Am I embarrassed? Hell no!

‘Hey, don’t look at me,’ I say and down another Tequila, whisky – whatever – I’ve lost track of what I’m drinking. ‘I don’t roll that way. Why don’t you ask the fugly asshole at the end of the table?’

There is a collective gasp in the room and all eyes dart towards Diablo, including mine. Now he’s gonna be really pissed. Great.

But his amused response in Spanish brings on some guffawing.

‘What? What did he say, Norman?’

Norman is pissed enough to explain. ‘Diablo say, is like a fucking a colchon sometimes. He say, is a big let down. And, Senorita Gringa, and my name is not …’

Colchon … mattress? He said that, did he?’ I let out a long, low whistle. ‘Well Norm, what the hell does he know, huh?’ I smile at Norman. ‘Can I call you “Norm?” I don’t wait for him to answer. ‘He don’t know jack. Foreplay – hell, he probably thinks it’s some kind of sugar-free chewing gum, or something to do with his car’s steering wheel. Huh, Norm?’

‘But Senorita gringa, my name is not Norm, it is not Norman, it is Lucas.’

I stare at him for so long, he flinches. ‘Lucas?’

He nods.

‘Why didn’t you say something, Norm? Okay, I’ll call you Lucas from now on, Norm.’

‘Eh …’

Santana almost falls off her chair laughing.

I look at Norm. ‘Now, Norm,’ I point to Santana, ‘she’s probably laughing at what I said. Or she’s laughing at what the fuckwit at the end of the table said about me – the mattress – whatever shit …but, you ever seen a donkey laugh, Norm?

‘No, Senorita gringa. But my name …’

‘Never? Well, it’s your lucky day, Norm, cos you’ve seen it now.’ I jerk my head towards Santana.

Well, that magically erases the smile of donkey’s face.

‘You biiitch!’ Santana screeches, half out of her chair. ‘I fargin’ kiiill you!’

I smile and raise my bottle at her. ‘Take a “fargin” number and get in “fargin” line.’

Troy comes up to me. ‘Gringa,’ he whispers, ‘come, let me take you to bed so you can sleep it  … ’

My eyebrows shoot up. ‘Take me to bed? Are you better in bed than your brother? Christ, I hope so, Troy!’

Troy turns scarlet and shrinks back, all the while glancing nervously at Diablo.

Diablo looks at everyone around him falling out of their chairs with laughter and his breathing becomes like that of an emphysema patient – raspy and labored.

‘He really is lousy in bed Troy. And you know what? I don’t like him. He’s hairy and yuuuuck! He won’t let me visit my … ’

Diablo slams his fist onto the table, rattling the table and animating plates, cutlery, glasses.

‘Fuck! Look what you did Satan – you nearly made me spill my …’ I jerk back and peer at the label on the bottle in my hand. ‘What the fuck is this shit? Anyhoo, you’ve made me lose count of how many drinks I had. Have to start all over again. In case I have to drive.’

Diablo suddenly whips out his knife and flings it ninja-style at me. I duck and it hits the wooden beam behind me.

‘Ooooh!’ I cry shaking both my hands mockingly. ‘I’m in trooouble now! Biiiiga trooouble.’

‘Go gringa, go!’ some of the men cheer.

‘Whoookay!’ I say.

Diago stands up.

I stand up too and look him in the eye, my eyebrows disappearing behind my spiky fringe.

Breathing heavily, he creeps slowly to me, but I’m ready for him. I kick back my chair and sidle around, using the table as a barrier between us.

‘Watch him move, like a … eh, what you say for walrus in Spanish?’

The men laugh harder. Even Christa laughs.

‘You will farkin’ die!’ Diablo roars.

‘And who’s gonna farkin kill me, huh?’ I ask, dancing on the spot. ‘You?’ I throw my head back and laugh.

More laughter around me.

Diablo runs to his knife, grabs it off the beam and runs towards me.

But I’m already out of the villa and racing towards the cliff.

‘I’m going to kiiiill you!’ he yells as he chases me.

‘Fuck you, motherfucker!’ I scream over my shoulder and sprint ahead. I don’t care if he kills me, I just don’t want to be assaulted by him. He’s super strong and I stand no chance against him if he does. I’ve never seen him run before and I’m hoping he’s out of shape and slow. Well, the big lunch should make him sluggish.

But to my dismay, I can actually hear his breathing. I’m surprised at my slowness. Must be something to do with the booze. I have to admit, I didn’t realize how drunk I was until I started running. Too late now.

I run up the hill and through the dense foliage, passing startled villagers tending the cannabis crops. They stop and stare when they see Diablo chasing a gringa with a knife in his hand. Behind Diablo are his family and just about all of his men, some on horseback and some on foot, not wanting to miss the moment Diablo finally kills the insolent Gringa.

‘Go, gringa go!’ I hear.

‘Go, Diablo!’ I hear Christa say.

I run faster than I ever did in my life.

‘You will die!’ Diablo threatens behind me, still brandishing the knife. His breathing is getting louder and I know I have to do something.

The rock pool! I know for sure that Diablo is no match for me in the water. Very few people are. I head for the pool.

Changing route confuses Diablo and for a few moments, the gap between us increases, allowing me some respite.

I’m desperate to reach the rock pool so that I can shake the enraged animal behind me.

But to my dismay and my surprise, he catches me.

‘Let go of me, you fucking freak!’

We grapple for a few moments, but somehow, I manage to break free. Minus my dress.

He’s holding it in his hands and I’m running in just my bra and panties. I don’t give a fuck though – too drunk to care.

I’ve never been so relieved to see the rock pool and I dive in and swim frantically. I don’t stop until I’m in the middle of the pool, then only do I turn to look back, expecting to see him close by.

To my surprise, he’s standing on the banks of the rock pool, with his hands on his knees, breathing heavily. Behind him a group of villagers laugh and point at me.

I do what anyone would do – I give him the finger.

He doesn’t react.

I play an air guitar and start to sing. ‘I win! I win! I win! Yeah! Yeah!’

He glowers at me and waves his knife threateningly.

I’m confused as to why he isn’t trying to get me, though.

Then I hear jeers from some of the crowd. Something about Diablo being scared of water. So that’s it – this brutal slayer, this nightmare of a monster feared by all, is scared of water? How bizarre is that?

‘What, Diablo, you scared of water, eh? You fucking baboon! Yes, you’re a monkey.’ I tap the top of my head. ‘Hee, hee, hoo, hoo!’

Diablo’s mouth twists.

‘You wear clothes and you walk upright, but that is the extent of your evolution – you’re still a fucking baboon. Get it? A baboon that allows men to do drugs in his home. You’re nothing but a pathetic murderer. You kill women – how tough does that make you, huh? What about children? You kill them too? Huh? I wouldn’t be surprised, ’cos you’re such a fucking coward!’

Nobody is laughing now.

Two of the men, start wading into the water to get to me, but Diablo stops them.

Someone hands him a lit cigarette and he puffs away, never taking his eyes off me.

The crowd hums.

Usted es un pesimo laicos, Diablo. How’s my Spanish, El Bastido?’ I ask proudly. ‘I learned that from the Spanish Dictionary of Dirty Words I brought in LA. Means you’re a lousy lay. Funny eh?’

‘Two minutes then it’s all over. Two minutes, then it’s finiiiito!’

His drags on his cigarette are longer now.

‘You should stick to her,’ I say, pointing at Santana. ‘She thinks you’re great. She’ll always tell you how fabulousa you are in bed and how you’re the greatest lover she’s ever had in her whole life. You like that, right? Egotistical bastard!’

Santana is fuming. ‘Shoot her Diablo,’ she hisses, circling him. ‘Pegarle un tiro!’

‘Me? I’ve had better,’ I jeer. ‘Ten times over. My boyfriends were soooo much better than you, El Monstero. You just take what you want, you fucking low-life. As for killing me – whose gonna kill me? You? Ha! You shot me, but guess what? I’m still here, motherfucker!’

I look at the crowd. ‘Eh, how do you say in “You’re a lousy shot” in Spanish? Anybody …?’

Of course, none of the fuckers have my balls right now, which emanates from the copious amounts of alcohol I consumed.

‘You shot me because I was a spy? What spy? Some intelligence you have there.’

To my utter amazement, he smiles. For a moment, I’m not sure if I’m imagining it. But upon closer examination, by way of an intense stare on my part, I see that he is indeed smiling – an undisguised, genuinely amused smile.

He looks at the others. They appeared to be just as surprised to see him smile and they too smile. Some of them chuckle. A few of them even laugh.

But not Santana and Christa. They are not smiling.

‘What d’ya want me here for, Diablo?’ I ask, feeling a little tired by now. ‘I don’t fit in here and I’m like, so not impressed by you or your crew or your tequila or your Ponderosa. Okay, maybe your tequila. But I’m never gonna like, marry you and be your wife and have your children. Lord no! I have plans for myself. I gonna like, fight bad guys one day.’

He raises his eyebrows.

‘Keep her instead of me.’ I say and point again at Santana. ‘She’s mucho impresso with you and your … your ability to burn down a village of defenseless old men and women and children with the strike of just one match.’

He glances at Santana as if seeing her for the first time.

Santana’s smirk disappears. ‘What? Don’t listen to her, Diablo.’

‘The only time you will ever get anything out of me El Stupido, is if you steal it from me like you did. Other than that, you have a hope in hell!’

Somebody hands him another lit cigarette and he smokes, looking blankly at me.

‘I hate piercings and you’re like a fucking tea-strainer. I dislike tattoos and look like a badly sketched road map. I hate hairy men and you have dreadlocks and a beard. Uggh! You need an extreme makeover, Amigo. Oh, and some serious exfoliation.’

‘And you …you need to put on some clothes,’ he growls.

I look down at myself. Crap! I become especially conscious of Tongue’s leering smile and quickly drop below water level.

Diablo picks up my dress and holds it to the skies.

I shake my head from side-to-side. ‘I’m gonna stay here forever now that I know you’re scared of water.’

‘My men, they are not scared,’ he reminds me. ‘They can bring you to me.’ Then he looks over his shoulder and rattles off in Spanish to the people behind him. I grow nervous. The bastard’s actually going to send his men after me?

But, to my surprise, the crowd starts to slowly thin. I stare, confused. What the hell’s he up to now?  He turns and looks at me, and I realize he’s messing with me. He’s not sending them after me. I giggle, then float on my back, while he watches. I’m in no hurry to leave the water. I just wish he would leave, but remember to leave my dress behind or I’d have to walk back to the villa almost naked. Not a pleasant thought since the alcohol is wearing off and I’m developing a mother of a headache.

When I look back at him, he’s smiling at my antics.

‘You have cojones,’ he says. ‘No one talk to me like that.

‘Yeah?’

He nods.

‘Yeah, cos you’ll probably shoot them for telling you like it is?’

He thinks before he answers, ‘Si.’

‘Gosh, you’re such an arrogant prick,’ I say more to myself. I raise my hands in a surrendering motion. ‘Go ahead. Shoot. But please – I’d like to die with the first bullet, not the thirty first.’

He grins. Then his smile disappears. ‘You don’t like me?’

‘Duh.’

‘You like Him.’

“Him? You mean Austin? Eh …’

His nostrils flare at my response. ‘Why?’

‘’Cos he’s nice. He’s a good man – pleasant, intelligent, educated … a gentleman.’

‘He must be gay.’

‘He’s not gay! He just … dresses nice.’

‘He is your sister’s husband. How you do this?’

I drop my gaze.

‘He got a baby.’ His voice is edged with reproach.

You getting all moral on me? You?’

Cords appear in his neck.

‘What? You gonna kill him now?’

Si.’

‘Don’t you dare. Be nice for once.’

‘Nice?’

‘Yeah, good, nice. You know …?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘You don’t know?’

He shakes his head. ‘Teach me.’

‘Me?’

Si. Teach me how to be good, nice.’

I stare at him. ‘Why? Why do you want to be nice now?’

He drops to his haunches and stares at the ground. Then he looks up at me. ‘Imatired.’

‘Of what?’

He shrugs. ‘This life. I want to be good. Teach me how to be nice Payton,’ he says softly. ‘I want to learn how to be good.’

His words surprise me. ‘Teach you how – that’ll take decades. I don’t think you’re teachable.’

Si?’ His disappointment is visible.

I nod but then I feel really bad. ‘You really wanna learn how to be nice?’

Si.’

‘Why?’

He looks me in the eye. ‘For you.’

He suddenly looks so vulnerable and sincere and even human, that I feel a little sorry for him. I don’t know why I’m feeling this way considering he’s such an asshole, but I do.

‘You swim good.’

‘Swam for University of California, Los Angeles two years in a row,’ I brag, treading water.

He nods and raises his busy eyebrows. ‘Time to go now,’ he says softly.

This is the first time we’re actually having a conversation and I realize I’m no longer afraid of him. If he wanted to kill me, he would have done it already. Frankly, if he kills me, he’ll be doing me a favor.

I slowly emerge from the water and walk up to him.

He helps me into my dress and steadies me when I stagger.

I giggle as I fight for balance.

We stumble back to our villa in silence. He walks me into the bedroom. I stand in front of my bed and look at it. The bed rises and hits me in the face – knocks me out.

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