Published by Ewephoric Publishing on March 20, 2018
Genres: adult, Romance, mystery
People die, but legends live on.
New York antiquities appraiser Annalisse Drury recently lost her best friend to murder. The killer’s identity may be linked to her friend’s expensive missing bracelet—a 500-year-old artifact that carries an ancient curse, one that unleashes evil upon any who dare wear the jewelry created for the Persian royal family.
Weeks later, Annalisse sees a matching necklace at a Manhattan gallery opening. She begs the owner to destroy the cursed piece, but her pleas fall on deaf ears—despite the unnatural death that occurs during the opening. With two victims linked to the jewelry, Annalisse is certain she must act.
Desperate, Annalisse enlists the gallery owner’s son to help—even though she’s afraid he’ll break her heart. Wealthy and devastatingly handsome, with a string of bereft women in his wake, Greek playboy Alec Zavos dismisses Annalisse’s concerns—until his parents are ripped from the Zavos family yacht during their ocean voyage near Crete.
Annalisse and Alec race across two oceans to save his mother, feared dead or kidnapped. When the killer changes tactics and goes after Alec behind Annalisse’s back, can her plan to rescue Alec’s mother save them all?
Hold on for a heart-thumping, thrilling adventure through exotic lands in this fast-moving romantic suspense mystery by Marlene M. Bell.
STOLEN OBSESSION by Marlene M. Bell
“The Way I Am” Charlie Puth
“Ocean Eyes” Billie Eilish
“Play it By Heart” Ryan Griffin
“The Kind of Woman” Courtship
“Eye of the Storm” Gabe Real/Ryan Stevenson
“Right Where You Want Me” Sarah Reeves
“Stop the Clock’ Needles” Tasos Kontoyianis
“In a Little While” Amy Grant
“Iris” Mediterranean Nights
“Heart Wide Open” Mack Brock
Stolen Obsessions is currently FREE with Kindle Unlimited!
“Alec, let me help.” Annalisse ran to Alec’s side.
Harry’s dead weight collapsed on Alec, and he stumbled to keep Harry from falling on her. Alec slowly laid him on his back. Lifeless. Not breathing. Annalisse’s suspicions were confirmed. Harry was sick.
The silk fabric clung to her waistline while perspiration trickled down her thighs. She sank to her knees and leaned over Harry’s paunch, loosened his tie, and checked for a pulse at his neck. Heat from the crowd suffocated her. Open mouthed, she labored for breath. Westinn’s bedrock, its patriarch, couldn’t leave her. Not yet.
She clutched his shirt and yelled, “Don’t give up, Harry!” Touching his cheeks, she found them cool. Annalisse scanned the room. “Is anyone a doctor or EMT?” Vacant stares met her question.
A reel of her first aid training ran through her head. Annalisse tilted Harry’s head back, looked down his throat and did a finger sweep. “No food in the airway,” she mumbled. She checked for a pulse again at the carotid, and, one hand over the other, pressed the heel of her palm over his breastbone and pumped in short bursts. Counting to thirty in her head, she huffed after each thrust. Her arms ached and her palms hurt. “Harry, breathe! Damn it, breathe!”
“Did someone call an ambulance? Where is it?” Alec checked the Rolex on his wrist and crouched next to her. “When you’re ready, I’ll take over.”
The irony. Harry had forced his employees to take the CPR course with no idea he’d be the one in need.
A lonesome siren’s wail pierced her ears when the vehicle stopped in front of the gallery. Annalisse glanced through the entrance as the FDNY emergency truck’s blaze red and yellow door opened. The myriad of blinding lights split the evening. She turned back to her unresponsive boss and ripped open his shirt, sending buttons flying to the tile before she continued CPR.
Muffled voices, footsteps, and a metallic clank sounded from behind. Ambulance attendants rushed through the double glass doors, banging their gurney along the way. In the cool relief of the air from outside, she silently said a prayer for Harry.
“I appreciate everyone’s concern, but please allow the emergency personnel room to do their work.” Generosa swiped her forehead with the back of her hand. “Hang on, Harry.”
Annalisse set her purse down into the flipped over cushions on the couch, repositioned them, and stepped through what used to be neat stacks, years of gallery research. A groan passed her lips when she walked to the desk marred with new scratches, bereft of her monitor and tower hard drive. She looked around the room for her laptop; it, too, was missing.
Cursing under her breath, she saw her prized possession, a two-foot bronze statue of a shepherdess with a pair of sheep grazing near her feet, lying on its side next to a toppled plant stand. An expensive work of art from Florence she’d had no business buying, but she couldn’t resist. When Generosa had called from Italy describing it, Annalisse had to have it. Everyone who knew her well understood her love for sheep. Even if she’d declined Generosa’s offer to bring it back for her, she’d felt certain the bronze would end up in her hands eventually.
Alec waited by the stairs and whispered, “Your bedroom up there?” He pointed upstairs.
She nodded, lifted the mahogany stand upright and, with both hands, replaced the hefty bronze to its rightful place next to the desk.
“Stay downstairs. You’ll be safer. I won’t be long, and I’ll look for your cat.” Alec hit the first step.
Whoever destroyed her home had acted with malice. They had her personal data and internet search history, where she shopped online, email correspondence as well as business contacts. A privacy breach she couldn’t afford. Compiling a list of possible suspects in her head, she felt so violated, even more so than by what had happened with Peter. Names and faces blurred together. With fingertips pressed at her temples, she willed the jackhammers in her head to stop.
Raising her arms, as if a make-believe thief told her to, she said, “I give up. I may as well set a match to this place, for all the good it’s going to do me now.”
Alec uttered a sentence upstairs she couldn’t make out.
“Alec, did you find Boris?”
The sound of shuffling filtered downstairs then a thump.
“Alec, what fell?” She looked up at an empty landing.
The unnatural silence pricked the hairs straight out on her neck. “Answer me.”
A mechanical voice broke the silence. “Don’t move.”
She stopped breathing and froze, afraid to look up, but then looked anyway.
A figure in a brownish ski mask and desert camouflage occupied the top of the staircase. Holding Alec. He—or she— held him at gunpoint. One arm cradled Alec’s waist and a black pistol so close to Alec’s right ear, his curls hid part of the barrel.
She’d expected Alec’s expression to be as wild as hers must have been, but he appeared strangely calm.
“I’m all right, Annalisse.”
“Shut up.” The voice was distorted with some kind of voice altering mechanism. Deep tones, similar to a bumblebee in distress.
Marlene M Bell is an acclaimed artist and photographer as well as a writer. Her sheep landscapes grace the covers of publications such as, Sheep!, The Shepherd, Ranch & Rural Living and Sheep Industry News. Ewephoric, her mail order venture, began in 1985 out of a desire for realistic sheep stationery. A color catalog of non-fiction books and sheep-related gifts may be requested at www.marlenembell.com or www.texassheep.com.
Marlene and her husband, Gregg reside on a wooded ranch in East Texas with their 50 head of Horned Dorset sheep, a lovable Maremma guard dog named, Tia, and 3 spoiled cats who rule the household.
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