Title: Saving Grace
Author: Pamela Fagan Hutchins
About the Author:
Pamela Fagan Hutchins writes award-winning mysterious women’s fiction and relationship humor books, and holds nothing back. She is known for “having it all” which really means she has a little too much of everything, but loves it: writer, mediocre endurance athlete (triathlon, marathons), wife, mom of an ADHD & Asperger’s son, five kids/step-kids, business owner, recovering employment attorney and human resources executive, investigator, consultant, and musician. Pamela lives with her husband Eric and two high school-aged kids, plus 200 pounds of pets in Houston. Their hearts are still in St. Croix, USVI, along with those of their three oldest offspring.
Her latest book is the mystery/women’s fiction, Saving Grace.
About the Book:
If you're at all inclined to be swept away to the islands to fall in love with a rainforest jumbie house and a Texas attorney who is as much a danger to herself as the island bad guys, then dive headfirst with Katie Connell into Saving Grace.
Katie escapes professional humiliation, a broken heart, and her Bloody Mary-habit when she runs to the island of St. Marcos to investigate the suspicious deaths of her parents. But she trades one set of problems for another when she is bewitched by the voodoo spirit Annalise in an abandoned rainforest house and, as worlds collide, finds herself reluctantly donning her lawyer clothes again to defend her new friend Ava, who is accused of stabbing her very married Senator-boyfriend.
Last year sucked, and this one was already worse.
Last year, when my parents died in an “accident” on their Caribbean vacation, I’d been working too hard to listen to my instincts, which were screaming “bullshit” so loud I almost went deaf in my third ear. I was preparing for the biggest case of my career, so I sort of had an excuse that worked for me as long as I showed up for happy hour, but the truth was, I was obsessed with the private investigator assigned to my case.
Nick. Almost-divorced Nick. My new co-worker Nick who sometimes sent out vibes that he wanted to rip my Ann Taylor blouse off with his teeth, when he wasn’t busy ignoring me.
But things had changed.
I’d just gotten the verdict back in my mega-trial, the Burnside wrongful termination case. My firm rarely took plaintiff cases, so I’d taken a big risk with this one—and won Mr. Burnside three million dollars, of which the firm got a third. That was the total opposite of suck.
After my coup at the Dallas courthouse, my paralegal Emily and I headed straight down I-20 to the hotel where our firm was on retreat in Shreveport, Louisiana. Shreveport is not on the top ten list for most company getaways, but our senior partner fancied himself a poker player, and loved Cajun food, jazz, and riverboat casinos. The retreat was a great excuse for Gino to indulge in a little Texas Hold ’Em between teambuilding and sensitivity sessions and still come off looking like a helluva guy, but it meant a three and a half hour drive each way. This wasn’t a problem for Emily and me. We bridged both the paralegal-to-attorney gap and the co-worker-to-friend gap with ease, largely because neither of us did Dallas-fancy very well. Or at all.
Emily and I hustled inside for check-in at the Eldorado.
“Do you want a map of the ghost tours?” the front desk clerk asked us, her polyglot Texan-Cajun-Southern accent making tours sound like “turs.”
“Why, thank you kindly, but no thanks,” Emily drawled. In the ten years since she’d left, she still hadn’t shaken Amarillo from her voice or given up barrel-racing horses.
I didn’t believe in hocus pocus, either, but I wasn’t a fan of casinos, which reeked of cigarette smoke and desperation. “Do y’all have karaoke or anything else but casinos onsite?”
“Yes, ma’am, we have a rooftop bar with karaoke, pool tables, and that kind of thing.” The girl swiped at her bangs, then swung her head to put them back in the same place they’d been.
“That sounds more like it,” I said to Emily.
“Karaoke,” she said. “Again.” She rolled her eyes. “Only if we can do tradesies halfway. I want to play blackjack.”
After we deposited our bags in our rooms and freshened up, talking to each other on our cell phones the whole time we were apart, we joined our group. All of our co-workers broke into applause as we entered the conference room. News of our victory had preceded us. We curtsied, and I used both arms to do a Vanna White toward Emily. She returned the favor.
“Where’s Nick?” I called out. “Come on up here.”
Nick had left the courtroom when the jury went out to deliberate, so he’d beaten us here. He stood up from a table on the far side of the room, but didn’t join us in front. I gave him a long distance Vanna White anyway.
The applause died down and some of my partners motioned for me to sit with them at a table near the entrance. I joined them and we all got to work writing a mission statement for the firm for the next fifteen minutes. Emily and I had arrived just in time for the first day’s sessions to end.
When we broke, the group stampeded from the hotel to the docked barge that housed the casino. In Louisiana, gambling is only legal “on the water” or on tribal land. On impulse, I walked to the elevator instead of the casino. Just before the doors closed, a hand jammed between them and they bounced apart, and I found myself headed up to the hotel rooms with none other than Nick Kovacs.
“So, Helen, you’re not a gambler either,” he said as the elevator doors closed.
My stomach flipped. Cheesy, yes, but when he was in a good mood, Nick called me Helen—as in Helen of Troy.
I had promised to meet Emily for early blackjack before late karaoke, but he didn’t need to know that. “I have the luck of the Irish,” I said. “Gambling is dangerous for me.”
He responded with dead silence. Each of us looked up, down, sideways, and anywhere but at each other, which was hard, since the elevator was mirrored above a gold handrail and wood paneling. There was a wee bit of tension in the air.
“I heard there’s a pool table at the hotel bar, though, and I’d be up for that,” I offered, throwing myself headlong into the void and holding my breath on the way down.
Dead silence again. Long, dead silence. The ground was going to hurt when I hit it.
Without making eye contact, Nick said, “OK, I’ll meet you there in a few minutes.”
Did he really say he’d meet me there? Just the two of us? Out together? Oh my God, Katie, what have you done?
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