Moreno & Hart Mysteries, Part II

on July 21, 2014

Laura Griffin and me -- photo taken by Toni Causey during RT :)

Laura Griffin and me — photo taken by Toni Causey during RT 🙂

I promised an excerpt to RUN, Laura Griffin’s part of our new book HIT AND RUN that launches today. (Yeah! Cheers! Applause!)

I think one of the reasons I love writing this series with Laura is because our writing meshes together. We don’t write exactly alike, we compliment each other. There are a few authors I’m confident that if I recommend them to my readers, I’ll score a victory — meaning, my reader will love the books. Laura is one of those authors.

I can hardly wait to start the last book in this series. But … I have to write THREE books before then. Two Lucy’s and a Max. Yep, it’s going to be one of those years …

Not that I’m complaining 🙂

This excerpt is from the middle of Chapter One of RUN. For those who remember, Krista doesn’t want to be attracted to hot (but as Scarlet says “slimy”) private investigator R.J. Flynn … but she also wants the jobs he can send their way. I hope you enjoy it — the rest of the story only goes up from here! 🙂

By “good” he meant sexy, which was why Krista reached right past the slinky black mini-dress hanging in her closet. She’d shimmied into it the other night in a bout of temporary insanity, which luckily had passed. Now she threw on a different black dress that had slightly more fabric. It still looked good, though, especially with a push-up bra, which she decided to wear tonight because her cleavage needed all the help it could get.

Krista checked her watch and did a few quick swipes of mascara. She ran a brush through her honey-blond hair and was sliding her feet into sandals when she heard the throaty growl of R.J.’s car pulling up to her house.

She went to the window and peered outside. The shiny black Porsche 911 turbo sat in the glow of the streetlamp. R.J. was behind the wheel texting on his phone.

Work, she reminded herself firmly. Not a date. She grabbed one of her smaller purses and tossed a lipstick inside, along with her sleek little Ruger LC9. Then she was out the door.

R.J. was still texting when she slid into the car.

“Wow.” He tucked his phone away and looked her over. “What happened to the other one?”

“It’s at the cleaners.”

He eyed her purse. “You packing?”


He shoved the car in gear and roared away from the curb, evidently in a hurry. Krista scanned driveways and front porches for a ratty looking poodle.

R.J. cut over to Sixth and headed toward the beach.

“So, where are we going?” she asked.

“The Billiard Room.”

She narrowed her gaze at him. The Billiard Room was an expensive bar at the Kettridge Hotel. “I told you—”

“It’s not a domestic.” He shot her a glare. “You’re obsessed with that.”

Easy for him to say. Female PIs often got pigeonholed into decoy work. Krista had done her share of dirty jobs—trash digs, Dumpster dives, stakeouts at flea-bag motels. But you had to draw the line somewhere, and Krista and Scarlet had always drawn it at decoy work. For one thing, it felt like entrapment. And for another, taking money to get busy with a client’s husband was just a little too icky.

HitRunSmallShe looked out the window now as the bars and surf shops of Huntington Beach whisked by. The sidewalks were loaded with weekend foot traffic.

“All right, what’s my assignment?” Krista asked.

“The mark’s there now, probably playing pool. Your job is to get him to take his phone out and then distract him for a few minutes so I can get my hands on it.”

“Define ‘a few’.”

“Ten minutes, tops.”

She looked R.J. over. He had on jeans and boots, along with the scarred leather jacket he wore year round because it concealed his gun. A lot of men in Southern California tried for the badass look, but never quite pulled it off. To R.J. it came naturally.

He glanced at her. “What?”


The hotel came into view. R.J. whipped into a metered space near the beach. Krista managed to lever herself out of the low-slung car without flashing very many people.

They set off toward the hotel and R.J. quickly tugged her off the sidewalk and onto the sand.

“It’s around back,” he said.

“How do you know he’ll be there?”

“I’ve got eyes inside the bar.”

Interesting. Unlike Moreno & Hart, Flynn Investigations was a one-man show. Or so she’d thought.

Krista pulled off her sandals and followed him past a row of volleyball nets. A brisk breeze whisked in off the ocean and a layer of clouds obscured the moon. A row of cobalt-blue lounge chairs lined the beach in front of the hotel. The matching umbrellas had been collapsed for the night and sat in a big pile, secured by a chain.

Krista trudged along beside R.J., getting sand between her toes. She surveyed her destination. The Kettridge was one of the oldest hotels in Orange County. With its white wooden siding and red roof, it resembled the Hotel Del Coronado down the coast, but on a smaller scale. It had a five-star restaurant, though, as well as a swanky open-air cocktail lounge with a row of pool tables that looked out over the beach. Jazz piano drifted from the bar as Krista halted in the sand.

R.J. took out his phone and read a text. “Okay, he’s there on the far end.” He glanced up, and Krista followed his gaze. “Black golf shirt, gray slacks.”
Krista spotted him. The man was tall and barrel-chested and had the look of an NFL lineman who’d let himself go. As someone leaned across the pool table to take a shot, the man stepped closer to the railing and Krista caught a glimpse of his face.

“That’s Matt Holland.”

R.J. looked at her. “You recognize him?”

“Uh yeah. He’s been all over the news for a year. Isn’t he on trial?”

“Not yet,” R.J. said. “Trial’s in three weeks.”

Krista folded her arms over her push-up cleavage. “Drake Walker’s representing him.”

“That’s right.”

Who else would be representing him? Holland’s personal reputation was right there up with Walker’s—which was to say down in the gutter. Holland was a nationally renowned litigator who’d made millions suing breast-implant companies. He was also rumored to be an alcoholic and a philanderer and, more recently, a murderer. All of which made him Drake Walker’s dream client.

“Since when is Walker spying on his own clients?” Krista asked.

“You don’t need to worry about that.”

“Bullshit. I get crosswise with Holland, he’ll sue me six ways to Sunday. I’ll be tied up in lawsuits for a decade.”

R.J. smiled. “Relax.”

“Ha.” She glanced up at the bar, and suddenly the money made sense. This was one of the biggest cases of the year. Walker stood to make a fortune, not just from legal fees but from free publicity. As Walker’s top investigator, R.J. stood to make out, too.

“So, are you ready?” R.J. checked his watch. “Time’s ticking.”

“Not so fast. I’m changing the terms.”

He eased closer, probably trying to look menacing. “We already had a deal, Hart.”

“We have a new one.”

“I’m paying you a grand, and you’ll probably be in and out of there in thirty minutes.”

Her pulse thudded as she gazed up at him. “I want in on the casework.”

“No way.”

“Fine. Find yourself a new decoy.” She started away, and he caught her arm.

“I can’t hire you on the case. That’s up to Walker.”

She nodded at the bar. “You hired carrot top in there.”

He frowned. “How would you know?”

“Because he’s been staring a hole through Holland for the past five minutes. And he hasn’t touched his drink.” She looked at the bar again. “You don’t have to run it by Walker to hire me. You do whatever you want.”

“Fine. Shit. You’re hired.” He didn’t look happy as he glanced at the bar.

“I charge a thousand a day, plus expenses.”

“That’s robbery.”

“That’s a third of what you make and we both know it. Do you want my help or not?”

“Yes. Now would you get your little ass up there and distract this guy before he takes off?”

She dropped her sandals onto the sand and slid into them. “And one more thing—no kissing, groping, etcetera.”

“Etcetera?” He smiled down at her.

“I mean it, R.J. This is why I don’t do decoy work.”

“Just lure him away from his phone a minute and we’ll be done.”

She smoothed her hair and cast a glance at the bar, where one of L.A.’s most notorious slimeballs was laughing it up with his buddies on the eve of his wife’s murder trial.

Great, eh? Here’s where you can go to read the rest of HIT AND RUN, book two of the Moreno & Hart Mysteries:

Amazon, Kobo, and and Nook.