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A Sinner's Grove Novel
Released June 16th, 2015
Red Trumpet Press
The Lair follows on the heels of Sinner’s Grove, a contemporary suspense novel centered around the fictional artists’ retreat on the northern California coast known as “The Grove.”
Dani Dunn, the local innkeeper, has just learned of her famous father’s death and must travel back to her home country of Italy to attend the funeral. To say she’s not looking forward to it is an understatement. In fact, she’s petrified. The estate she grew up in holds terrifying memories that she knows she’ll have to confront if she’s ever to get on with her life.
Complicating matters is the fact that her flirtatious friend, Detective Gabe de la Torre, is coming along for the ride – without being asked. However, as Dani discovers the true evil that awaits her, Gabe proves he’s much more than a friend – he’s a sworn protector who may lose his own life in the process of saving hers.
Author's Note: THE LAIR deals with a very real, but sensitive subject, human trafficking. It may be disturbing to some readers.
Now, lying here, she was filled with regret; how could she have been so stupid? At the time, it all seemed so safe.
The company man had been clear and straightforward, with no funny business. He’d even given her a choice of country and she’d chosen Italy—known for its beautiful churches, just like those of Maramureș. Only Italy’s churches were of stone, not wood, and they were overwhelming. The company had paid for her train ticket, assuring her the hotel she worked for would cover her fees and living expenses until she earned enough to pay her own way. Strong, bright girls are in high demand, the company man had said; you will be promoted in no time at all.
The only thing that had seemed strange to her was the tattoo he’d insisted she have put on her hairline, just behind her right ear. He told her it was to help identify her until she learned to speak Italian. It seemed a small enough request. The design was of a very small golden tree, visited by a tiny blue butterfly. Even though she’d been scared of the needle, it turned out not to hurt very much, and it was a pretty little mark. In fact, she came to think of it as her own little secret, like wearing red silk panties beneath her maid’s uniform.
The door opened and in the dim light of the hallway beyond she saw an older woman with dark hair talking with a tall, white-haired man in a suit. He looked vaguely familiar, but Mirela couldn’t recall where she had seen him. The two of them glanced in at her and the woman nodded before entering the room and shutting the door. Mirela recognized her from the hotel. “Signora, please, you must help me!” The woman could speak some Romanian; they’d even talked a little on Mirela’s first day.
“Do not worry, puiu,” the woman said soothingly. “No harm will come to you.”
Mirela winced at the endearment—“little chick.” It was the same one her mother used. How could this woman pretend to care about her when it was obvious she did not? “Why am I tied down like this? What happened to me?” Mirela tried but failed to keep the fear out of her voice.
The woman, brisk in her movements, brought a pan out from underneath the bed. She carefully cut off Mirela’s panties. “Come, you will use this now,” she said.
Mirela was mortified, but desperate to empty her bladder, she complied with the woman’s directions. Afterward the woman did not replace Mirela’s underwear. She merely tossed the cut garment into a nearby waste can as if she were straightening up a room.
“It won’t be long now,” the woman said, and left.
“Until what?” Mirela cried after her. “Until what?!”
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A.B. Michaels' dual-genre series "Sinner's Grove" follows the family, friends and associates connected to a world-famous artists' retreat on the California coast. While The Lair is a contemporary novel of romantic suspense, The Depth of Beauty (soon to be published) is historical fiction, set at the turn of the twentieth century. Both San Francisco and the retreat of Sinner's Grove are featured in the story.
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Born and raised in northern California, A.B. Michaels holds master's degrees in history and broadcasting, and worked for many years in the public relations and marketing fields. An avid quilter and bocce player, she currently lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband and two furry "sons" who don't seem to realize they're just dogs.