No Gun IntendedLet me tell you about the leading man in my life, Michael Thomas Paxton, though everyone calls him Mickey. He used to be an NYPD detective, but now we have our own detective agency, partnering with our best friend, Luis Maldonado. He’s an ex-cop, too.

As for me, Annabelle Starkey, I drew the lucky card when I met Mickey a couple of years ago. It was pure happenstance, and even though I unknowingly led him into a mash-up of murder and mayhem, he somehow fell in love with me.

I still find that wondrous. Mickey and I do have lots in common—for instance, we love the movies. He once told me, “You are exceptionally odd,” which I recognized right away as a quote from A Beautiful Mind, and I came right back at him with the movie’s line: “I bet you’re very popular with the girls.” We’re cinematically copacetic.

But we’re very different, too. He’s contained, thoughtful, doesn’t reveal too much too soon. In fact, I’m certain there’s more to him than even I know. I, on the other hand, tend to blurt out immediately everything that comes to mind.

Mickey is rich. His parents died in an accident when he was only 25, and they left him a pile of money. It was newly earned—Mickey grew up working-class, until his plumber father invented a pipe sealant, the patent for which paid out big time. So Mickey doesn’t have airs, if you know what I mean. He’s a solid, straightforward, no-nonsense kind of guy. Except when we’re yucking it up. He needs yucking. He’s wound pretty tight from those years of being a New York City cop.

I suppose that’s why he’s attracted to me. I know I can be flighty and impulsive, and while those qualities have, admittedly, gotten us into some scrapes, I do have good instincts. Mickey has told me that, lots of times.

Just last night, in fact, I told him I thought it was time to go to bed. He complimented me on my instincts.

Mickey quickly became part of my family. My parents, Jeff and Sylvia, live in Portland, Oregon, and they treated him like a son from the get-go. In fact, they knew he was in love with me before I figured it out. They’ve helped us out a lot, even though I’ve brought trouble to their door twice. Mom told me early on that Mickey was “a goddamned keeper” and I better not “screw up and end up with some loser twitbrain instead of him.” Mom is very expressive in her use of the English language. Dad, he’s more like Mickey. Big heart, usually quiet, generous to a fault.

These days, we’re back in our Chelsea flat in Manhattan, having just spent a harrowing week in Portland. It was supposed to have been a relaxing visit with the ’rents, but it played out more like a Ridley Scott movie—no aliens, but plenty of bad guys.

Here’s what happened: I arrived a few days before Mickey, ready to settle in for a week of chilling out, when I discovered my backpack had been switched for one holding a gun—a gun linked to a murder.

My infallible instincts told me that this could not be good.

I didn’t know if I had been set up or was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Portland PD wasn’t sure, either—they were figuring me as some sort of criminal. Then a frantic young woman got in touch with me, claiming the gun was hers. And besides all of that, I spotted the man who sat next to me on the plane twice, on the streets of Portland. Was he stalking me?

So, I was freaked out but held it somewhat together until Mickey and Luis arrived. That’s not to say I was lost without them. But I do better with them around. We’re a good team. We complement each other. I don’t pretend to be an Olivia Benson clone, but with my partners, I think the three of us could solve any Law and Order crime that fell into our laps. Whenever Mickey and I don’t see private eye to private eye, that’s when Luis steps in. He keeps us on track.

I’ll leave it to you to find out more about the Portland caper.

But one last word about Mickey: every morning he makes me coffee, tells me he loves me, and insists that my hair looks great. He can be overly protective, but he’s always on my side, and by my side.

Mickey’s my rock.

And I guess you could say that I’m his roll.


No Gun Intended is the second book in the “Annabelle Starkey” mystery series, published by Poisoned Pen Press, January 2016.

Meet the author
Zoe Burke lives in Portland, Oregon. She has written several children’s books as well as her Annabelle Starkey mysteries. She is also the vice president and publisher of Pomegranate Communications, an art book publishing company, and she enjoyed a brief singer/songwriter career as Katie Burke in the 1990s. Visit Zoe at www.zoeburke.com.

Giveaway: Win a copy of each of Zoe Burke’s Annabelle Starkey mysteries—Jump The Gun and No Gun Intended! Since Annabelle is such a movie nut, in 50 words or less, tell us what your favorite movie is and why. Leave your comment below. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end February 15 at 12 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

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