Book Excerpt: 'Slingshot' by Carsen Taite

As part of our effort to profile more authors within the LGBT community, we present Carsen Taite. Carsen works by day (and sometimes night) as a criminal defense attorney in Dallas, Texas.
By: Carsen Taite
August 06 2012 2:11 PM

As part of our effort to profile more authors within the LGBT community, we present Carsen Taite.

Carsen works by day (and sometimes night) as a criminal defense attorney in Dallas, Texas. Her goal as an author is to spin plot lines as interesting as the cases she encounters in her practice. She is the author of six previously-released novels: truelesbianlove.com, It Should be a Crime (a Lambda Literary Award finalist), Do Not Disturb, Nothing but the Truth, The Best Defense, and Slingshot. She is currently working on her seventh novel, Beyond Innocence. Learn more on Carsen’s website.

Slingshot was released in June by Bold Stokes Books, and is available, along with her other titles, for purchase from their website. The summary:

Who says crime doesn't pay?

Luca Bennett makes her living looking for people, but her sights aren't set on lost children separated from their parents at a busy mall or elderly Alzheimer patients wandered from the nursing home. She's a bounty hunter paid to apprehend fugitives on the lam.

Luca caught her latest job from new-in-town, criminal defense attorney, Veronica "Ronnie" Moreno. Ronnie's client, seedy local businessman, Jed Quitman, failed to show up for court, and Ronnie's boss, who secured the bond, wants him found right away. With Jed's mug smiling from dozens of billboards and low budget, late night television commercials, Luca figures finding him will be a breeze.

It doesn't take long for Luca to realize there's nothing simple about this job, from a stranger threatening her to stay away, to the fiery hot woman who has Luca looking for more than the usual one night stand. The hunt for Jed quickly turns complicated, and the pursuit is fraught with danger, as is her attraction for the elusive Ronnie Moreno. In a case loaded with twists and turns, can Luca find everything she's looking for?

Here is an excerpt from Carsen Taite’s novel Slingshot:

The halls of the Frank Crowley building were teeming with dozens of sloppy souls. Low slung jeans, halter tops, T-shirts covered with profane slogans. Did these people think a court summons was a clever disguise for an invite to the State Fair?

The courthouse isn’t my favorite place. In my short stint as a cop I wasted time kicking around in the halls waiting for a cluster of twelve-year-old prosecutors, fresh out of law school, to decide if they needed me as a witness at trial. Nowadays, I live my life one step away from the folks lining the halls. I keep things in balance by finding crooks on the lam, but I couldn’t care less what happens after I turn them in. Well, except for collecting my payment.

Moreno was in the last courtroom I checked. I slid into a seat and watched him argue for a bond reduction for his client. He was as slick as his photo. When he finally finished, I sprang out of my seat to catch him before he fled the courtroom, no doubt on to the next minor matter.

“Miguel Moreno?”

“I’m in a hurry.” He didn’t even glance my way.

“Hardin Jones sent me. Name’s Luca Bennett. Your office said I’d find you here.”

One of the names I spoke carried weight. He stopped in his tracks and gave me a once-over. “You’re not what I expected.”

“Yeah, well, neither are you.”

His big laugh surprised me. It was out of character, but made him seem more human. Slightly. Maybe I could work with this guy. “Hardin says you may have some business for me.”

 “Yeah, I have some work.” I waited through his long, hard look at my worn Levi’s and heavy black boots. The only concession I’d made to my usual wardrobe for this “interview” was a long-sleeved white shirt with a collar that had seen an iron once upon a time.

“I’m not for sale, just my services.” I waited until he finally looked into my eyes. “You interested?”

His leer wasn’t the kind of interest I needed. I started to walk away. I didn’t need this. Seconds later, I encountered another thing I didn’t need, his hand on my arm.

“Wait.” He noticed my glare and raised both hands in the air in a gesture of surrender. “Look, I do have work, plenty of it. If you can hang around a minute, I’ll send my associate over to talk to you about a couple of jumpers we need to get a line on soon.”

He was slimy, but maybe the associate wasn’t. I needed the work. I nodded and he took off like a shot.

Most of the benches in the hall were occupied. I paced to walk off my impatience. On my third lap, focused more on the rote activity than the stuff around me, I smacked into a cop. Not just any cop.

“Bennett, what the hell are you doing here?”

More on next page...

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(continued)

“Nice to see you too, Chance.” My tone was sarcastic, but it really was nice to see her. It had been months since Jessica Chance tried to save my ass during a takedown, far exceeding her usual role as my interdepartmental information leaker. And source of occasional late night sexual release. Lately, those occasions had been few and far between. For the first time in our relationship, I wondered if she was seeing someone. What we had was the very definition of casual, which meant neither of us was allowed to care what the other did on her own time. I sidestepped any examination into why I had even traveled this far in my mental journey and kept the conversation light, safe, business.

“I’m looking for work. I do work you know.”

“Yeah, sure you do.” Chance didn’t consider bounty hunting real work. She and I met at the academy. She went on to earn her detective shield. I bailed the first time I ran into a jam. Post-traumatic stress linked us for life.

“You still up for Sunday?” Her gaze morphed into a laser beam as she realized I had no idea what she was asking about. “Softball? League tournament?”

Oh shit. I’d agreed to fill in for an injured player in one of my weaker moments. Team sports weren’t my thing, but Chance had prevailed upon the last ounce of mercy in my soul. And she’d promised to buy me dinner. I scrambled for an excuse to bow out, but she was too quick for me.”

“I’ll pick you up at eight.”

“Sure. Bring coffee and not that fru fru shit you drink.” I knew she’d show up with a hefty mug of the plain black brew I liked, but I couldn’t resist teasing her about her coffeehouse habits. She was a good friend. She was more than a good friend.

I suspect I telegraphed a hint of wistful, because she asked, “You need something else from me?”

Loaded question. I stared everywhere but her face before I answered. “Not right now.”

Her hooded eyes met mine with a hint of need, or want. For a second, the teeming craziness of the courthouse hallway slipped away, and I considered finding an empty closet, the stairwell, anyplace where Chance and I could grab a minute of passion. Grab each other.

“Luca Bennett?”

The voice was like a shout into the unspoken conversation I was having with Chance. My first instinct was to ignore it. Slowly, a memory crept its way through me. Miguel. Associate. Work. I turned to face the interrupter. “I’m Bennett.”

A tall, leggy brunette stuck her hand my way, completely ignoring the fact that Chance was very much in my personal space. I admired what was either focus or just balls. I shook her hand. “You must be Miguel Moreno’s associate.”

“Associate?” She raised her eyebrows. “Is that what he said?”

“Yeah, or something like that.”

She shrugged. “Okay then. Are you still looking for work?”

I focused on not leering and ignoring Chance’s exaggerated grunt. I’m sure she thought “work” was a euphemism for some other form of activity, like the kind we usually shared. I looked her in the eyes to assess her state of mind. All I could detect was a strong admiration for the Latin beauty impatiently waiting on my response.

“I’m available for work if you’ve got it.”

“Great.” She reached into her purse and grabbed a card, scribbled a few words on it, and shoved it my way. “Meet me tomorrow at two, and I’ll give you the info.” And she was gone.

Chance and I both watched her ass the entire length of the hallway. I looked at the card in my hand. Veronica Moreno, Attorney at Law. I flipped it over. Foxy Lady. A strip club. Interesting. While I wondered why we weren’t meeting at her office, Chance offered her own theory. “Looks like she has a special kind of work cut out for you.”

“Shut up, Chance.”

“Be careful.”

Her eyes said she had more to say on the subject. I didn’t press. She walked away and I compared her backside to the one that preceded it. Tough choice.

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