My Ferrari skidded into the circle driveway of the Monterey Plaza Hotel, making a group of tourists wearing khaki shorts rear back in fear. I could feel their disdain, even if I couldn’t hear their horrified whispering.

I shot them a look. Don’t get your panties in a bundle. I might’ve come in a little hot, but everything was totally under control. My father hadn’t forked over thousands of dollars to racing school at Laguna Seca for nothing.

Some action flick actor in his Porsche zipped into the lane beside me. I glanced over. He sat there like a prick waiting for the valet to come open his door. When he saw me, he did a double take.

Opening my own door, I hopped out and stretched luxuriously, ignoring the fact that my leather jacket rose about half a foot from the top of my leather pants, revealing slice of G-rated flesh, giving the actor something to stare at.

The cooler air of the Peninsula felt good after driving through the scorching Salinas Valley between here and my San Francisco home. I’d been in the car two hours straight and was ready for a stiff drink.

I stripped off my jacket, tossed it into my backseat revealing my T-shirt that said, “Who the fuck do you think you’re talking to?” above a picture of Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver. I watched the actor read it, his mouth moving as he did, like an idiot.

I tossed my keys to the open-mouthed valet who had just come around the front of my hood.

“Thanks, sailor,” I said and gave him a long, slow wink, which made red coat his freckled neck.

I was nearly to the hotel door when the valet caught up to me. “Excuse me, miss?”

I turned and gave him my most brilliant smile. He flushed, once again flustered. “Yes?”

“Do you have any luggage I can bring in?”

I shook my head slowly smiling. He was so cute, getting embarrassed this easily. I handed him a one-hundred-dollar bill, pressing it into his palm and leaned over to whisper in his ear. “I’m only going to be here about an hour. If you want, you can take her for a quick spin down Cannery Row. She purrs like a kitten.”

He gulped and walked off without answering.

Inside the hotel lobby, I headed straight to the bar. My meeting wasn’t for thirty minutes. I slid onto the bar seat and ordered a glass of Old Rip Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Ry. I savored that first glass, but must admit I guzzled the second and third.

I wasn’t looking forward this meeting.

My attorney, Sal, usually did most of his business over the phone. He was old-fashioned that way. Didn’t trust email or anything electronic. I wasn’t that much into tech stuff myself, but preferred that over talking on the phone. Who talked on the phone anymore, anyway? Only people like Sal.

But this time when he called, he said he had something to give me and it had to be done in person.

Right on time, Sal strode into the hotel bar like he owned the place, which actually come to think of it, he might. He was the very embodiment of la bella figura from growing up in the old country. Everything from his neatly trimmed hair to his manicured fingernails to his glossy polished shoes was impeccable. Refined. Like his posture and his manner.

“Bellissima.”

He kissed me on both cheeks, ordered a glass of some rare fancy wine and unsnapped his briefcase. Without saying a word, he handed me an envelope. I opened it, smoothed out a piece of paper on the bar, and stared at it. At first it didn’t make any sense. My eyes focused. I shifted gears. It was written in Italian. As what I was looking at sunk in, I realized what it was saying and what it meant. It was connected to my parents’ murders. Something I had thought was put to bed forever last year.

Apparently not.

Mother trucker.

I pushed back from the bar and stood looking out the window at the brilliant blue Monterey Bay before me. Off in the distance, a dolphin soared gracefully into the air and then dipped back into the water without leaving a trace. It was something I had always hoped to see as a child here, poised for hours on the shore staring, afraid to blink and miss it.

With my back to Sal so he wouldn’t see me fighting back tears, I spoke.

“Don’t worry. I’ll be on the next flight to Sicily.”


You can read more about Gia in Gia and the Forgotten Island, the second book in the “Gia Santella” crime thriller series.

Gia Valentina Santella is not the kind of woman to sit back and watch injustice. So when a hate group invades her San Francisco neighborhood and innocent people end up dead, Gia vows to hunt down the perpetrators. Her investigation leads her to places she never imagined in her worst nightmares. Gia finds herself in a house of horrors facing a darkness that threatens to devastate the city she loves. Gia soon realizes that if she doesn’t succeed in stopping the powerful evil seeping into the city, more innocents will end up dead. She is determined to either stop the reign of terror or die trying.

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About the author
Kristi Belcamino is a Macavity, Barry, and Anthony Award-nominated author, a newspaper cops reporter, and an Italian mama who makes a tasty biscotti.

She writes books featuring strong, fierce, and independent women facing unspeakable evil in order to seek justice for those unable to do so themselves.

Her first novel in the Gabriella Giovanni Mystery Series, Blessed Are The Dead, was inspired by her dealings with a serial killer during her life as a Bay Area crime reporter.

All comments are welcomed.

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