Authors: Gina LaManna
Tags: #Organized Crime, #scary, #Comedy, #amateur, #Theft, #Urban, #heist, #racy, #Robbery, #assassin, #fun, #mob, #female protagonist, #Mafia
LACEY LUZZI: SPRINKLED
Copyright: Gina LaManna
Published: December 19
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Lacey Luzzi’s life has been a rollercoaster consisting of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. She just never expected the lows to be so…
After falling on her face during an attempt to follow in her recently-deceased mother’s stripper-boots, Lacey realizes she’s not cut out for life on stage. She sets out on a year-long investigation to find her true family, never expecting she’ll find her family with a capital “F.”
With a rumbling stomach, a need for money (check engine lights don’t fix themselves), and a conscience that operates at 78% on a good day, Lacey is sucked into a whirlwind of Family secrets, hard-as-cement cookies, and mysterious, sexy men who unfortunately shoot guns, sometimes aimed at her face. The long-lost-granddaughter of the St. Paul Italian Mafia, Lacey is charged with the task of finding
fifteen million dollars
of ‘the good stuff.’
Even after she enlists the help of her mouthy best-friend and her cousin, a technical genius and social disaster, she finds that going toe-to-toe with the rival Russian mob is scarier than expected.
No one chooses their Family, but Lacey Luzzi will be lucky if she can survive hers.
Lacey Luzzi: Sprinkled, is a full-length cozy mystery with a strong female protagonist in the spirit of Janet Evanovitch’s Stephanie Plum, albeit one working for the wrong side of the law…
To Kuzypy – for giving me my first bag of nickels.
I love you!
To Gillian, my life-saving beta reader.
To Megan, a fantastic editor.
To Stacie, Kelly and Calluna – you’re my absolute favorite beaches.
And last but not least, to all my family and friends, thanks for making me laugh.
LACEY LUZZI RESUME:
CURRENT: MOBSTER (in training)
2 YEARS: LAUNDROMAT WENCH
TOO MANY YEARS: MANAGER AT STRIP CLUB
GRADE – SPELLING BEE CHAMPION
Lacey Luzzi: Scooped
will be sent out soon. It is the prequel novella to
Lacey Luzzi: Sprinkled
. For a complimentary copy, sign up at my newsletter at
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in your inbox!
Lacey Luzzi: Sparkled,
Book 2 in the Mafia Mysteries Series – available in January!
If you’d like a
Advanced Reading Copy for Sparkled, simply sign up to my newsletter and send me an email with a link to your (good or bad) review for Sprinkled. I am giving away fifty copies for free in exchange for honest reviews.
I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly good person. I also wouldn’t have said I was a particularly
person – at least not until two years ago, when I sold my soul for a new car.
Okay, ‘new’ was a stretch. The Kia was more than three and less than twenty years old, the check engine light blinked at me an average of six times a month, and the alignment was twisted so far right I kept my wheel spun halfway left in order to drive straight on the freeway.
But it was mine.
And I loved my car. I still do, two years later, just a little bit less than before – and that’s because I now understood what I’d sacrificed in order to afford a pretty crappy car. And it was all because I’d accepted a job with my grandfather, the Don of the Italian Mafia.
It was moments like this, when I found myself standing in knee deep garbage that smelled like a cow had overeaten at Arby’s and left the remnants behind. I wanted to run that car right off the Minnehaha Falls into the Mississippi River, and I wasn’t even sure those two landmarks connected.
“I’ve got it all figured out. I want to be the boobs of this operation. You can be the brains.” Meg shifted her industrial-sized knockers into a push up bra that could’ve supported two watermelons. Ex-cop and current bar owner, she’d also held the title of ‘My Best Friend’ since kindergarten. Whether that was an honor or a curse – for either of us – I was never quite sure.
“Meg, be serious. This is a test. My entire career depends on it.”
Not to mention my life.
And the life of a few others. I glanced uneasily at the ground, where a strange man wiggled uncomfortably at our feet.
serious,” she said. “I even wore my extra supportive sports bra today so’s I could run, and jump, and hide, and shit. Well, maybe just the hide part, since if I start jumping somebody’s probably gonna get knocked out by these puppies. And it might be
.” Meg gave a huge jolt to her breasts. “What are you staring at?”
She addressed the man who was sitting on the ground next to us. Actually, sitting would be an overstatement. He maybe had tape over his mouth. And he maybe wasn’t willingly on the ground, wriggling next to us. And maybe it was our fault he was tied to one of the garbage bags with a clever combination of a broom, a basketball hoop and a sock that we’d found in the garbage.
“SHHH,” I hissed. “You need to duck. Your hair is sticking up.”
“That’s okay, it’s camouflage. It’s like a bush,” Meg said. “Especially, since this dumpster has so much crap in it that I bet a whole forest of bushes could grow here. ‘Cept those suckers would need to be real tough to survive; kind of like a cactus. I think I see some ketchup on your ass – least I think that’s ketchup. And that squiggly stuff on your boot is maybe sauerkraut, or maybe something worse, the judge is TBD on that one.”
I flinched and made an effort not to look downwards.
“Look on the upside, girl,” she said. “That yellow junk stuck to your earring is probably either mustard or guts. If it’s mustard, you got all the condom-ents to make a hot dog.”
“Condiments,” I said. “Cond-i-ments.”
“No kiddin’!” Meg laughed, much louder than was safe in our filthy hiding place. “I always thought it was condom-ents, on account of that’s what goes on wieners.”
wieners,” I said. “Now zip it and get down. I see lights.”
Meg obeyed my request for once, but it turned out to backfire. She shifted her good-sized frame and belly-flopped onto the single garbage bag that had actually been cinched shut and not leaking gucky fluids all over the place.
Meg was a confident woman who somewhat resembled a bear, albeit a cute one: shaggy hair, a ferocious attitude, and plenty of weight around her middle for winter hibernation. She had so much confidence in that belly flop that it squished out a load of coffee grounds along with some Asian take-out.
“Would you look at that,” she said, brushing herself off. “Pad Thai. I had a craving for that this afternoon, did ya know that?”
“Don’t you dare eat that,” I said. “A homeless man has probably had his hands all over that.”
Meg eyed the food remains as if that weren’t reason enough to refrain.
“And he probably licked every single noodle.” I crossed my arms. “And then peed on it. Who knows? Maybe he had the chicken pox, or bird flu.”
Meg stared at the noodles as if they were her lifeline – her one meal per day (Which
true considering we’d eaten four meals together already today – five if we counted the ice cream cake.)
“Do you want to fit in that hot, red dress?” I asked.
“You’re right,” she said. “There’s probably extra calories on these noodles due to the gunk that’s in here. I think I’ll hold off for some more cake.”
“Good idea.” I hunkered down and peered over the side of the dumpster. “I see them,” I said. “We’ve got to be quiet.”
I’d never understood why my mother told me night after night that she didn’t have any family. She’d been a single mom, a wonderful one. So when she died three years ago, I couldn’t bear the thought that I’d be her only living relative at the funeral. As I stood next to her closest friends at the gravesite, Candy, Aurora and Cinnamon – the girls she worked with at TANGO, I vowed that I’d hunt down her family and find out why they’d abandoned my sweet, gentle mother, who ironically used the stage name Honey.
Though she worked as a stripper Wednesday through Sunday nights, nine p.m. to closing, I couldn’t have asked for a better woman to call mom. Her hair was soft and blond, long curls dancing down her back as she tucked me into bed before work. Her voice was lilting and light, reminding me of a dandelion gone to seed, the puffy wisps drifting away in the wind. When I asked her why she had a job where they made her work late all the time, she said, “Sugar, because there’s no paper trail with my job.”
This lack of paper trail, I soon discovered, was meant to keep her identity secret, so her family couldn’t track her down after she’d run away. Naturally, I set out to do some digging and searching (and investigating and stalking) and found a whole closetful of secrets about my mother’s past… and mine.
And it became blindingly clear why my mother had kept her lips sealed. After a year of sleuthing, I’d found my family. I’d just never guessed I’d be standing at the doorsteps of a gated estate, referring to my family with a capital F.
See, I’m granddaughter of the St. Paul Mob Boss. Carlos Luzzi started in Chicago with the Italian Mafia and became an overnight success after immigrating with his wife, Nora, straight from Bari – located on the boot that was Italy. To say the pair had been slightly more than shocked when they found me standing on their doorstep, claiming I had Luzzi blood, would be depressingly accurate.
And ever since that first buongiorno, I’d been sucked into a whirlwind of twisted secrets, Family history, and Sunday afternoon dinners – where the cookies were inedible and the servings fit for a soccer team of giants.
Sometimes I simply wanted to kick all of those secrets back into the closet my mother had built around me as a child. Then I’d slam the door shut, lock and deadbolt it, cover it in gasoline and then leave a match burning on my way out the front gate.
This was one of those moments.
Carlos had given me my first gig for the Family, and it was time to do or die.
Two years ago, I’d been offered a job at the Luzzi Family Laundromat. It was a legitimate venture. Sort of. I’d snapped it up because I really needed the quick cash (thank you rent, loans, a humongous appetite, and a taste for mid-level wine). Plus, working at a laundromat wasn’t dangerous. Or so I’d thought.
After two years of slaving away as the look out, or rather, front desk attendant, now was my chance to break into the real money – the real deal. It was my chance to make the whole grocery bill and car payment thing work out in my favor,