Why in the world was Agent Burton here? Everyone stopped working to watch him make his grand entrance. People don’t usually parade around in a newsroom: They sort of shuffle or stumble or stomp—unless a story’s really hot, then they’ll run. I felt like running away too, but I stayed glued to my chair, pretending to work, my heart racing. What did he want from me?
Burton seemed to enjoy the attention as he headed my way. He was hard to ignore: Standing before me, all six feet-plus of golden skin and hair, he towered over my desk. Looking up, I noticed the curious eyes watching us in the too-quiet newsroom. The reporters stopped typing, fingers poised over keys, hoping for a scoop. My boss stared with unabashed interest.
“To what do I owe this disturbance?” I adjusted my cloche, acting nonchalant.
He grinned at me, then looked around the suddenly still office. “I need to ask you a few questions. Can we go somewhere private?”
“What do you want?” I put on a brave face so the newsboys wouldn’t see me sweat.
Burton scanned the hushed room. “You really want to discuss it here, out in public?”
He had a point. Did I want the whole staff listening in on my private conversation? He probably wanted to discuss Sammy, who was no one else’s business.
“Let’s go outside,” I agreed. Head down, I followed him past a leering Hank, feeling like a naughty kid going to the principal’s office.
Nathan entered the newsroom, a camera slung over his shoulder, stopping to stare at Burton. “Jazz, is everything jake?”
“Everything’s berries.” I smiled to pacify him but, I admit, I had the jitters.
“I remember him. Your boyfriend?” Burton seemed amused.
“He’s the staff photographer.” I ignored his crack. “And a good friend.”
Outside, I felt safe among the throng of people and automobiles passing by in a rush. The hustle and bustle of the streets and sidewalks seemed almost comforting. I looked around for Golliwog, our resident stray cat, but she must have been making her daily rounds for scraps.
“How was lunch?” In broad daylight, Burton didn’t seem quite as menacing or intimidating. Besides, a group of hard-boiled reporters peered out the newsroom, spying on us.
“Fine.” I covered my growling stomach. “What brings you here?”
“Sorry to barge in that way.” He smiled, tugging on his hat. “But I had to get your attention. You wouldn’t give me the time of day the other night.”
“Can you blame me? A raid isn’t exactly the best way to meet new people.”
“I think we got off on the wrong foot.” He stuck his hands in his pockets, jingling some change. “Perhaps we can talk over dinner, instead of standing out here on the sidewalk?”
“Dinner?” Was he serious? “Just like that?” I snapped my fingers. “You waltz in as if you owned the place—like you did at the Oasis—and expect me to dine out with you, a total stranger, because of your badge? You’ve got a lot of nerve, mister.”
“I wouldn’t be a Prohibition agent if I didn’t.” He looked smug. “How about tonight?”
“Tonight? I usually work late.” I admit, I was curious. What did he really want?
“Every night?” He raised his brows. “Don’t they let you off for good behavior?”
“For starters, I don’t even know you and what I do know, I don’t like at all.” I squinted in the sun. “And I don’t appreciate the way you bullied us at the Oasis. I thought people were innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around.” I wasn’t usually so bold and blunt with strangers, especially lawmen. Maybe it was his youth, or maybe I’d finally found my moxie.
“You must mean Sammy. Fair enough.” He held up his hands. “If it makes you feel any better, my gun wasn’t loaded that night.”
“Small comfort now, after you scared everyone half to death.” So it was all an act?
Burton looked down at his boots, as if reconsidering his options. “I hoped you could get to know me over dinner, but how about a quick bite now? I haven’t eaten.”
“Why not?” I nodded, not wanting to let on that I was famished. Burton stopped at a sandwich vendor on the corner, and tried to pay for my lunch and Nehi, but I pulled out a quarter before he did. It wasn’t a date!
“Where can we talk, in private?” He motioned towards the newsroom. “Away from prying eyes and ears.”
Anxious, I led him towards a city park and we sat on opposite ends of a bench, clutching my handbag like a barricade, keeping my distance. “So what’s the emergency? Why did you come by today, out of the blue? I hope I’m not under arrest!” I half-joked.
~ Author This or That Interview ~
1. Print Books or Ebooks? Both at different times—ebooks for traveling, print books for home.
2. Comedy or Drama? Comedy I think we live in such stressful times, we all need to laugh more.
3. Romance or Horror? Definitely romance, but I prefer romantic suspense and mysteries. I grew up reading the old Mary Stewart and Phyllis Whitney suspense novels from my Mom. I’m too wimpy to read or watch horror!
4. Summer or Winter? Winter since I live in hot and humid Texas, and our winters are like most of the country’s summers. Spring and Fall are my favorite seasons—I love to see the bluebonnets in Spring and watch the trees change in Fall!
5. Ocean or Mountains? Ocean—I grew up going to Galveston. But I also love forests and wooded areas. I like mountains, but from a distance.
6. Cupcakes or Cookies? Chunky chocolate chip cookies (even better with pecans)
7. Milk Chocolate or Dark Chocolate? I love all chocolate but dark is my favorite.
8. Go Out or Stay In? I’m kinda hyper so I love to go out, but I need a good reason to fight traffic.
9. Texting or Calling? I still like to call people, but it depends on the news.
10. Morning Person or Night Owl? Definitely a night owl—late night is a great time to write. I’m cranky in the a.m. so stay away! lol
~ About The Author ~
Ellen Mansoor Collier is a Houston-based freelance magazine writer whose articles and essays have been published in several national magazines including: FAMILY CIRCLE, MODERN BRIDE, GLAMOUR, BIOGRAPHY, COSMOPOLITAN, COUNTRY ACCENTS, PLAYGIRL, etc. Several of her short stories have appeared in WOMAN’S WORLD.
A flapper at heart, she’s the owner of DECODAME, specializing in Deco to retro vintage items (www.art-decodame.com). Formerly she’s worked as a magazine editor/writer, and in advertising sales and public relations. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Magazine Journalism. During college, she once worked as a cocktail waitress, a short-lived experience since she was clueless about cocktails. FLAPPERS, FLASKS AND FOUL PLAY is her first novel, and she’s currently working on the sequel.
“When you grow up in Houston, Galveston becomes like a second home. I had no idea this sleepy beach town had such a wild and colorful past until I began doing research, and became fascinated by the legends and stories of the 1920s. Finally I had to stop researching and start writing, trying to imagine a flapper’s life in Galveston during Prohibition.”
~ My Thoughts ~
Flappers, Flasks, and Foul Play was such a fun read. Filled with murder and mystery, I had hard time setting this book down!
I adored all the different characters in this book. I thought Jazz was a great main character, she was really easy to relate to and she also had a wonderful personality. Another character I liked a whole lot was Nathan. I thought he was sweet and charming, and was just a really good friend to Jazz.
One of my favorite things about this book was the setting. I loved that it was set in the 1920’s in Galveston, Texas. I like reading about places that I have actually been to and I’ve visited Galveston before. Another thing I really liked about this book was how much detail the author put into everything. I could clearly picture everything she was describing in my mind. I also have to add that I loved the way everyone talked.
Overall, I thought this was a wonderful read and I will most certainly be reading this author’s next book.
~ Giveaway ~
Enter to win an ecopy of Flappers, Flasks, and Foul Play!