Kathy Strobos: Caper Crush

Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for Caper Crush. I’m sharing an extract from the book with thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on the blog tour and to the publisher for providing the extract.

Blurb:

A feel-good, opposites-attract, slow-burn romantic comedy

Somebody stole my painting! The one I need for the career-defining Vertex Art Exhibit. This upcoming art show is my chance to finally be recognized as an artist–after ten years of waitressing and being asked if I still have that “lovely painting hobby.”

I have mere weeks to find my painting or lose my artist dream forever–but it’s going to mean working with William.

William Haruki Matsumura. Good-looking, if you like the Secret Service type. You know, law-abiding, protector of women and children. That’s all fine, but I never know what he’s thinking. Which drives me crazy.

He insists on coming along to do “damage control.” As if “accidentally” wandering into certain areas is “breaking and entering.” I may be an emotional artist, but William shouldn’t dismiss my investigative skills yet.

William is definitely my opposite, and if there’s one takeaway from my parents’ divorce, it’s that opposites might attract, but it doesn’t last. But detecting with William is kind of fun–and fluttery. I definitely can’t trust these feelings, or can I? However this caper ends, I think this may be more than a crush.

Extract:

Background Context: Miranda is disguised as an older woman with a grey wig and makeup. She was desperate to sell her painting at an art show (needing the money), so she thought it would be a good idea if she, dressed as an older woman, covertly persuaded some customers to buy it. She runs into William (the nephew of her uncle’s partner) at the show, and they are now on their way back to the Upper West Side:

The subway pulls into the station. It is crowded, as usual on a Saturday morning, with a mixture of tourists, families, and people with plans. We get in and stand, holding on to the aluminum bar. William lowers his backpack to rest it on the floor at his feet. I check out the subway posters to see if any announce the Vertex Art Exhibit. It’s my new favorite pastime. Every year, the Vertex show picks thirty up-and-coming artists to exhibit. And this year, they picked me. And then during the show, a panel of judges anoint their five favorite artists to watch. The train pulls quickly out of the station and swerves. I swing slightly, caught off guard, and grip the bar tighter.

The person seated in front of me looks up and rises. “Here, you can have my seat.”

I forgot I looked old.

“No, that’s okay,” I say. “I’m fine.”

“Are you sure?” She looks concerned. “I’m getting off in a few stops.”

“No, it’s okay. It will be harder to talk then.”

“Oh, of course you want to talk to your son,” she says.

My son.

William snickers.

“Mom, you should take the seat,” he says.

I want to kill him.

“You’ve raised him well.” The seated woman stands.

“Here, Mom, let me help you sit.” William takes my elbow. 

I sit. I can feel myself blushing, mortified.

The construction worker next to me says, “If you guys want to talk, I’ll get up too.”

That’s nice of him. I feel a little weepy at everyone being so considerate. I wipe away some wetness from my eyes.

William says, “No, it’s okay. I can’t take your seat. We’ll have plenty of time to talk later.” And then he leans down and whispers loudly to the guy, “She’ll only nag me about whether I’m dating anyone.”

“I don’t nag,” I say stiffly, sitting upright and shooting a death glare at him.

The guy laughs.

William smiles sweetly at me and resumes studying the subway advertisements.

I say, “I’ve found a nice girl for you to date.”

He looks down at me, one eyebrow raised.

“She is a very successful lawyer. She can’t cook, but she can support your derelict lifestyle.”

“Maybe you do want the seat,” the guy next to me says to William.

“You shouldn’t give up your seat. He’s perfectly healthy to stand,” I say.

“Not if I’m going to hear more about my derelict lifestyle,” William says simultaneously.

At Fifty-Ninth Street, passengers chaotically switch between the express train across the platform and our local train. William remains standing, even though the seat next to me opens up. A woman slides into that seat, guidebook in hand, and asks me if this stops at the Museum of Natural History. I confirm that it does.

When we get to the Seventy-Second Street stop, William leans down as if to help me up. I swat his hand away.

“I can get up fine,” I say grumpily.

He follows me out of the subway. Passing by the Yoko Ono Sky blue-and-white tile artwork, we push through the turnstiles.

“Are you okay with the stairs?” he asks.

I stop. I’m about to retort that of course I am, but then I grin. He takes a step back.

I pinch his cheek. “You’re such a good boy. I need to hold on to you.” I grab his arm and lean heavily on him. I’m five foot eight and muscular. His biceps flex, but he doesn’t falter. Suddenly, William feels very male. I flush. Too intimate.

He glances at me. “You never do what I expect. Maybe I should just pick you up and carry you. That would be easier.”

My eyes widen.

As he motions to do just that, I retreat. “That’s okay. I’ll walk up by myself.”

I hurry up the concrete stairs, glad he can’t see my face. He keeps pace behind me.

As we walk side by side down the wide expanse of Seventy-Second Street, passing under the apartment building awnings and skirting around the aluminum delivery carts piled high with boxes, I feel very aware of William next to me.

“Was the party as dramatic as last year?” he asks.

Confused, I raise my eyebrow. “Uncle Tony’s parties are always exciting.” Uncle Tony is a costume designer, so his friends are all in theater. He’s the one who taught me how to create disguises. It’s a useful skill to have. As the drama-prone stepdaughter of the former Manhattan Borough president, disguising myself was the best way to escape the press. Better than following my stepsister Annabelle’s approach, which is to be perfect at all times. The press never follows her. No story there.

***

Caper Crush is available from Amazon.

You can follow the rest of the blog tour here:

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