I invited my friend Diane Burton back to Creative Hodgepodge. Unfortunately, Diane is busy promoting her newest release, The Case of the Fabulous Fiancé, so she sent Nick Palzetti to talk with us. He is Alex O’Hara’s main squeeze, so you’ll find him in all her stories.
Welcome, Nick. Please introduce yourself for those who haven’t met you in your author’s other books.
Nick Palzetti. I work in DC, but I came home to Far Haven, Michigan last fall when Lexie—I mean, Alex—got in over her head on a case. I’d never tell her that. She’s very capable, but she didn’t know what or who she was dealing with. My boss ordered me to mislead her.
How did that go over once she knew?
She threw me out. Can’t say I blame her. I never lied to her, just didn’t tell her the truth. She didn’t see it that way.
Tell us about your family.
Typical Midwest, Italian. Only child. Mama doted, Pop kept me on the straight-and-narrow.
How did your upbringing influence who you are today?
Pop and Alex’s father—collectively known as The Pops—owned an investigation agency. Mama and Alex’s mother managed the business. They brought us to work from the time we were babies. I learned the ethics of hard work, fair play, and justice. And the importance of family.
What was your first thought when you met Alex?
I never really “met” her. Since our families were so close, she was always around. She was my kid sister . . . until she grew up. I must have looked at her a certain way because The Pops sat me down and explained the facts of life. Not those facts. The ones that meant she was hands-off and the consequences (don’t ask) if I tried anything with her. See, I had this reputation back in high school of playing the field. Besides, she was jailbait.
Why did you fall for him/her?
She’s beautiful, even though she doesn’t think she is. Gorgeous red hair, eyes as blue as Lake Michigan, long legs. Well, at 5’10” what do you expect? That all sounds superficial, doesn’t it? She’s earnest, hard-working, and married to the agency. When The Pops retired, they turned the business over to her, and she’s been trying ever since to prove she’s worthy. Not that she needs to. She’s an excellent investigator. She just needs to take it easy, have fun once in a while.
Why did you choose your occupation?
*eyes harden* What do you know about my occupation? I’m a pencil-pusher (Alex’s words) for the State Department.
Hang on. I heard you worked for some super-secret government agency that doesn’t exist.
You heard wrong. Next question.
O-kay. *blows out a breath* What is the biggest hurdle you had to overcome?
Lexie taking me seriously. I hurt her once. When she was fifteen, she threw herself at me. Eighteen-year-old boys aren’t known for their tact. I’d only thought about what The Pops threatened to do to certain appendages that I wanted to keep. Turning her down wasn’t my finest hour. Unfortunately, she’s got a memory that doesn’t quit. I had to convince her that I wanted her, that I loved her. I succeeded until I disappeared for almost three months. I’m not sure she will ever trust me again.
How would you spend a free day?
With Alex. She works too hard so I want to get her to lighten up. In winter, we’d got to the park and build a snowman, make snow angels, and have a snowball fight. In the summer, we’d go sailing. That’s the one thing I miss about living in DC. If I’m going to stick around, I’ll have to get that sailboat I’ve always wanted.
Where do you think your relationship with Alex is going?
I wish I knew. I want to marry her and make babies. She’s not so sure. I’ll have to bide my time while she builds the agency and learns to trust me.
Thanks for your candor, Nick. I hope you and Alex find a way to stay together.
From your lips to God’s ear. Listen, I gotta go.
She’s at it again. Alex O’Hara just can’t say no to a new investigation. What do a 45-year-old boyfriend, a deadbeat dad, and a teenage runaway have in common? All new cases. With no receptionist, phone and internet problems, and her own boyfriend in the wind, Alex has no idea how she’ll manage. But the question for the past three months is why did Nick disappear. Is this the end of O’Hara & Palzetti?
My heart stopped. My lungs seized. My hand hovered over the yellow legal pad. Thank God, it didn’t shake. My hand, not the pad.
I wasn’t going to give Nick Palzetti the reaction he expected. I would be cool, confident, self-assured. As if his presence in my office were nothing unusual. As if he waltzed through locked doors every day to lounge casually against the mahogany door frame. As if he hadn’t strolled out of my life two months, two weeks, and one day ago. I wasn’t counting, mind you.
He’d called me ‘gorgeous’ in that husky baritone before he left, too. Hadn’t meant a thing then and didn’t mean a thing now. He probably expected me to yell at him. Wasn’t going to do it. Nope. Wasn’t going to ask him where he’d been. As if it didn’t matter to me. I would say ‘Hiya, Nick, How’s it hanging? C’mon in. Take a load off.’ As soon as I could speak again.
My brain finally told my lungs to breathe. Bad form to fall at his feet. With my luck, I’d slip off my chair and whack my chin on the desk, which would require twenty stitches and orthodontics. Been there, done that. Have the scar to prove it.
Be cool. Don’t show any emotion. Don’t let him know what his disappearance meant.
“How the hell did you get in?” someone yelled. I guess it was me since Nick’s mouth didn’t move, and the office was deserted. I slammed my fist on the desk. “Where the hell have you been?”
The Case of the Fabulous Fiancé is available at Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and Barnes and Noble.
Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides the science fiction romance Switched and Outer Rim series, she is the author of One Red Shoe, a romantic suspense, and The Case of the Bygone Brother, a PI mystery. She is also a contributor to the anthology How I Met My Husband. Diane and her husband live in Michigan. They have two children and three grandchildren.
For more info and excerpts from her books, visit Diane’s website: http://www.dianeburton.com
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