Sinner’s Grove, a contemporary suspense novel centered around the fictional
artists’ retreat on the northern California coast known as “The Grove.”
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.
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.
Her mind finally beginning to clear, she began to piece together the events of the night before. She had gotten off work and felt good about the tips the hotel guests had left in their rooms that day. The entire floor had been taken over by a group of salesmen and throughout their stay they had flirted with her as she rolled her cart down the hallway. Many of them had left her five and ten euro bills—one had even left her a twenty euro bill and put a business card on top of it. On it he had written in Italian, “Call me.”
The tips had brightened Mirela’s day because she missed her friends in Milan, where she had worked until a week before. A transfer to Verona means you are being promoted, the letter read. You will work there for two weeks and then you will receive a new position. Mirela was proud to think she was being promoted after just four months. She imagined the extra money she would send to her mother, as if to say, “You had little faith in me, but look at me now.”
To celebrate the end of the work week, Mirela and her new friend Dobra had gone out for a drink and some dancing. Dobra was from Croatia; she was a big, buxom girl who loved to dance to the hip hop music that was so popular now. Mirela had agreed to accompany Dobra to banish her own loneliness, if only for an evening.
She remembered the dim smokiness of the bar … the loud, pounding rhythm of the music … and two young men who had come up to them as they sat with their drinks. The men looked respectable enough and the taller of the two asked Dobra to dance. The other one sat with Mirela and talked to her—or tried to, since he was Italian and couldn’t speak her native Romanian. They laughed as he tried to teach her the word “lovely” in Italian and she taught him “handsome” in her language. She remembered excusing herself to go to the restroom, and coming back to find him waiting for her. But after that there was nothing—no memories until she woke up in this place.
What had he done to her?
The door opened again. This time the white-haired man entered and closed the door behind him, locking it with a distinct click. As he approached the bed and was bathed by the light of the lamp, Mirela realized who he was.
“Signor Direttore,” she pleaded, “per favore. I have done nothing wrong.”
The man didn’t reply. He only looked at her and reached for the neckline of her dress. She instinctively tried to raise a hand to stop him, but could do nothing.
“How old are you?” he asked in Italian.
“Only seventeen,” she whispered. “Please.”
He nodded, as if she had given him the correct answer. “Perfetto.” He carefully peeled the neckline of her dress down to reveal her breasts, which were heaving now with anxiety and threatening to spill out of her bra. He calmly took a pocketknife from his trouser pocket and cut the bra apart.
“Signor, per favore,” she repeated, tears running down her cheeks. “Io sono vergine.”
“Che fortunato,” he murmured, before unzipping his perfectly tailored pants.
Sometime later, after the man had finally climbed off her, Mirela lay silently, too numb to react. The labored breathing, the grunting and moaning—all was quiet now. A memory floated by: Simu, pressing his large calloused hands against the front of her dress. She thought, now, that those hands would feel good and strong and safe. She thought of her mother and the garden and the lovely little sprigs of lavender. She thought of the wooden churches of her village and wondered where God had gone to. She barely noticed when the man pulled on his pants, leaned over and squeezed her breasts. She thought, how can someone so old be so strong? He did something strange before he left. He put his hands together as in prayer, bowed very slightly and said to her, “Sawasdee. Learn that and you will please them.” She didn’t know what he meant, but it did not matter now. Tired beyond measure, she closed her eyes and slept.
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.
you’ll receive a free download of the entire book.
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.
I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl