Authors are repeatedly told the first line, the first paragraph, the first page has to jump out and grab the reader. So we try to imagine the reader standing at a bookstore, thumbing through your book, debating whether to buy the book or put it back on the shelf. We have to introduce the characters, set the scene, set up the entire story without resorting to dumping information or backstory onto a reader.
Normally with a romance, that all important first scene introduces the heroine or the hero, and generally it’s their “first meet”. So I took a bit of a chance on Personal Protection‘s opening scene. You don’t get a glimpse at Sam or at Rosie. It’s at a secondary character; you don’t even learn his name. But what he does sets up what happens for the rest of the story…
The hood of his raincoat pulled well over his head, he strolled past the empty security desk. The pungent smell of marijuana drifted through the lobby, telling him his diversion had worked. Even so, as he inserted the security key that would bring the elevator to him, he kept his head lowered and away from the lobby’s concealed camera. Not that they could easily identify him past the hood, especially with the wig and fake beard he’d donned.
The hallway to the penthouse suites was empty when the elevator doors slid open, though a dog yapped and growled in a suite at the opposite end to his objective. Assured there’d be no witnesses, he walked to the door of 1201 and withdrew the spare key he’d procured.
Once inside the apartment, he disengaged the alarm and took a deep breath. The multimillion dollar penthouse sprawled in front of him, large leather couches and massive chairs, flat screen TV hanging over a gas fireplace in the living room. He’d been here so often, he didn’t even need to use his flashlight to find his way to the master bedroom. He briefly considered trying to find the safe room he knew was concealed in the suite.
Knowing Sam Watson’s tastes, it had probably been outfitted as a personal dungeon for those days he couldn’t get to La Porte Rouge.
Some guys had all the luck.
Not that Sam’s involvement in the private club had started with anything remotely to do with luck. Which reminded him just why he was breaking and entering the apartment of the one man he trusted more than life itself. Who after tonight might never—should never—trust him again.
He pulled the photograph from the envelope and carefully positioned it on the pillows at the head of the wrought-iron bed.
After a moment’s thought, he headed to the kitchen and grabbed the ketchup bottle. Less than two minutes later, a scarlet threat left on the ivory comforter, he walked to the French doors leading to the terrace. Light glinted off the end of the telescope from a suite in the building opposite Sam’s where his compatriots, his co-conspirators, waited and watched.
He started to lift his thumb to signal the job’s successful completion, then hesitated. Was he—were they—doing the right thing in forcing Sam like this? For three months they’d waited for him to make his move. Hell, for eight years, they’d bided their time. Yet nothing had changed. And so they’d decided to take action. To set right the wrongs that had been done.
But did the end justify the means? And what happened if their plan backfired?
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