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Relatively Risky

The Big Uneasy Book 1

Author(s): Pauline Baird Jones

When an aspiring illustrator attracts the attention of a New Orleans mob family, and secrets long hidden are unearthed from the past, a handsome homicide detective may be her only chance of surviving the Big Easy.

The oldest of thirteen, Alex Baker does two things: he solves murders and avoids children. Until the day Nell Whitby foils a carjacking, knocks Alex off his feet and turns his life upside down.
When the shots start flying and every rock he turns over reveals another wise guy, Alex decides he needs to stick close to the quirky yet captivating children’s book author while he discovers who is behind a series of mob hits. But can he resist the urge to kiss the kid magnet now in the crosshairs?

A relative newcomer to New Orleans—with no family but her college friend—Nell spends her days in seeming obscurity, sketching tourists in the French Quarter and serving canapés for her friend’s catering business. When a chance encounter makes Nell the target of a mob hit, the only silver lining is meeting the cute cop who is determined to protect her.
But when she finds herself at the head of a second line made up of goons and gangsters, and secrets start bubbling up out of her own past, Nell must figure out what she's made of so she can live long enough to kiss the cop again…

Excerpt


When Alex Baker felt the cold gun barrel press against the back of his neck he knew a bad night had just gotten worse. New Orleans at night was always a walk on the wild side, but when the moon was full, wild got super sized. The crazies came out, the bullets flew, and the emergency rooms filled up with the bloodied and the bowed.
When he already had the best view of the city’s worst, working Homicide for the New Orleans Police Department, it wasn’t a good idea to piss off a mayoral aide, cuz the view was worse at night. Thank goodness it was his last night shift, at least until he pissed off someone else. It had felt like everyone was taking potshots at everyone else the whole damn night. The homicide rate had never been great, but it had gotten worse since Katrina. If something didn’t change, the City Council really would move to reclassify bullet holes as a natural cause of death, just to improve the stats for tourists. Starting to feel like it didn’t matter how many people lived in New Orleans, just how many died.
Nights like this, he wondered why he didn’t find some quiet little town where only wildlife got shot at. But the Big Easy had moved into his head and his heart and worse, it set a good table. His stomach rumbled a reminder that it had been a long time since its last feeding. No question the food wooed the taste buds, wined, dined, and entertained them. Lured a body like those sirens in the legends. Even when he hated the city, he loved it. If the devil had a home here and in hell, he’d live here, no question about it. Except in August, when hell was cooler.
In the quiet semi-dark, with morning just starting to lighten the horizon, he’d turned onto the narrow street where home, breakfast and bed waited. As usual, cars haphazardly crowded both sides of the street, fitting in where they could and where they shouldn’t. Parking in New Orleans required patience, ingenuity and a huge pile of luck. Sometimes he’d be driving along, spot a great parking place, and feel this overwhelming urge to grab it because it was there. Alex had known he was running out of patience, was probably out of luck. This time of the morning no one was likely to clear as space just because he needed it. They were all sleeping something off in their beds. He should have taken the front fence down a long time ago so he could park on the lawn, but Zach insisted a white picket fence was a chick magnet. A guy really didn’t want his dad saying chick magnet, let alone having one in the yard.
He’d passed his house, wondering if he was going to be doomed to drive around until one of the college students across the street had to go to class, but as he passed a cross street, he’d spotted half a space just around the corner. It was by a hydrant, but the parking Nazis weren’t out this early, and he could get his dad to move his truck later. He pulled in, got most of his truck off the street, if he didn’t mind blocking the sidewalk. He didn’t. The dividing line between street and sidewalk was more imagined than real anyway. He’d shut off the engine and thrust open the door, anxious to get unconscious as soon as possible. Should have known better. Should have kept an eye on his surroundings. Which was why the stinking little piece of crap got the drop on him, down shifting his night from bad to worse.   
“Get out real slow with your hands where I can see ‘em, mother—” The pressure of the gun against his neck eased some, as if the perp couldn’t point and talk at the same time.
Alex rolled his eyes at the spate of unoriginal swearing. The education system was so screwed up, it was depressing. Kids couldn’t even swear good and had nothing better to do than try to jack a detective who’d spent the night knee deep in bodies.
“Keep your cool,” Alex said, more for himself than the kid, as his temper tried to slip tired’s leash. Making sure both hands were visible, he slid out and turned around. The kid was as small as he sounded and looked like he was on the downside of a high. Probably looking to trade Alex’s wheels for a trip back up. Man, the guys’d really roast him if he got jacked by a kid too young to shave.
“Shut up and give me your wallet and keys!” The kid practically foamed at the mouth as another round of filth poured out.
At his age, Alex hadn’t known half that many cuss words. And when he got caught saying the ones he knew, his head had been down in the sink eating soap. If he shoved a bar down the kid’s throat? Probably be called police brutality and get him a sit down with IAD.
“Life’s not fair,” his dad would say about now. “But it’s always interesting, bubba.”
And about to get more so, Alex realized. The swearing, while tiresome, had drowned out the unlikely figure on a bicycle bearing down on them both. She was hunched over the handles, an intent scowl on a face that was ordinary, but not in a bad way. Her feet pumped hard on the pedals, as she steered around the numerous potholes and bumps that pockmarked the street. Her eyes were narrow slits and her hair stuck out around her head like a ragged, brown halo.
Alex sure hoped she didn’t plan to ram the little crap while he had a gun pointed at him—oh yeah, she meant to. As if the kid sensed her incoming, he started to turn.
“Here, catch.” Alex tossed his keys high in the air. No surprise the kid followed the shiny object. Or that he stepped back to catch them. The front wheel of the bike caught the kid in the butt and sent him running forward, right into Alex’s waiting fist. He crumpled into an untidy heap, though a final hand twitch fired the gun. Alex’s driver’s side window exploded into flying shards of glass.  
And took his insurance rates with it.  


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Genre: Mystery
Date Published: 12/29/2013
Publisher: Pauline B Jones

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