Coffee and Kukui Nuts
Lei Crime Series Book 1
Release Date: July 2015
Publisher: Kindle Worlds
Hawaiian explosives expert Abe Torufu looks forward to a day trip on Oahu helping his sister Meleny taste-test wedding cakes. Abe loves cake almost as much as malasadas, but something deadly interrupts their plans for butter cream and spongy goodness. A bomb.
Abe unwittingly uncovers a near-fatal plot in a marriage gone awry and soon becomes the target of not one but two hit men. He now requires round-the-clock protection from a U.S. Marshal. But not only is Tony McCracken skinny and shorter than the big Tongan detective, but Abe doesn’t need protection.
Well, that’s until McCracken saves his life in a spectacular way when one of the bad guys finds him. What started as a fun, family day becomes a nightmare and Abe must trust a stranger with his life. Can he? Or is he in big, bad, Hawaiian trouble? Will he live long enough to walk his sister down the flower-strewn, tapa-carpeted aisle, or is there worse to come?
He longed to take a seat and bite into the awesome-looking cake, except the beautiful blonde continued to pace outside, looking agitated in her uptight, uptown, pencil-slim black skirt and matching jacket.
He knew very few women who dressed like that in the islands. She was either a malihini, a newcomer, or she was some big mucky-muck. The closest Abe got to formal wear was jeans with no holes in them and a good, classic aloha shirt, like the one he wore now. Only one button was loose, and that was because he’d kept pulling at it on the flight over here. The blonde threw a distressed glance toward the shop, and he sensed she didn’t want to be in there, or outside. She closed her eyes and seemed to sigh as somebody kept nattering in her ear.
Meleny giddily sliced into one of the cakes and took a selfie as she sampled it. In her awkwardness, the fork went to her nose leaving a dot of butter cream on the tip. She laughed, and Abe snapped off a photo with his camera phone.
“Oh, no you don’t. Let me look at that,” she said, her eyes sparkling.
Abe let out the breath he didn’t know he’d been holding. He flashed back to the first time he’d taken her swimming in the small brook at the back of their parents’ Manoa Valley home. She had been two, Abe, seven. Meleny had been the surprise child of his parents. He still remembered the gigantic double rainbow that had shot up at out of the sky that day, and the way she’d reached her arms up to touch it. The arcing colors still touched his soul, and then there was the moment the majestic, mysterious owl appeared on the branches of the lush kukui nut tree beside them.
He’d known in that moment that Meleny was a special girl. Owls and rainbows were the treasured companions of Kkahala-o-Puna, the valley’s ancient, ruling goddess. Abe was awed by his sister’s otherworldly goodness and spiritual protection. He also knew even at his own tender age that he would protect her rainbow and he’d do anything for her.
Even beg favors to try out wedding cakes. He tried not to think of the upcoming trips they would have to take and that he would have to somehow pay for.
Cake. Just think about cake. Delicious cake. Tiers of Bliss was doing brisk business for a place that had been difficult to find. When he’d initially swung off the freeway exit on King Street, Abe had detected the unmistakable smell of baking bread, and his mouth had watered. The stress of taking a day off work in Maui to island-hop for Meleny’s sake, soon melted away until Abe realized the aroma was not from the cake shop but Love’s Bakery. That place was much more his speed and, like him, was big and took up a lot of space, the entire first corner of the street in fact. A few blocks down on the left, he’d found Tiers of Bliss after circling back three times, almost at the end of a decrepit-looking alley of the industrial section of the street.
Abe took the plate his sister handed him. She’d carved a huge chunk of cake and the unmistakable tang of banana wafted under his nose.
“This is the Bananas Foster,” she said. “Dad’s favorite. The butter cream frosting is a blend of banana and caramel.” Abe took a seat on one of the wrought iron chairs but an ominous creak lifted him to his feet, and that’s when he saw it.
The blonde came back inside, gripping her cell phone, her face a mask of anguish. Abe felt a pang of sympathy for her. I wonder what the heck is going on?
Meleny whispered, “Abe, look.”
I’m looking, I’m looking. The woman might have been upset, but she was still stunning. Abe couldn’t tear his gaze from the long, luscious legs in their three-inch black satin pumps. Her skin was lightly tanned, her legs toned and gorgeous. There was a sheen to them, too. He hadn’t noticed it earlier.
Meleny mooned over the shoes once more as the blonde trotted past them. “Those heels have real Swarovski crystals on them.” Her voice quavered with emotion. “Look at the little ornament on the back of the ankle. Have you ever seen anything so darling? I’d love to have shoes like that for my wedding.”
“How much do they cost?” Abe wasn’t sure he really wanted to know.
“Sixteen-hundred bucks a pair.”
Abe almost choked, ignoring her pleading glance. She still lived in the family house up in Manoa and could barely cover her expenses as it was. As far as he was concerned, Oswaldo could dress her up in anything he wanted on his dime, once the wedding was over. Fork in hand, his gaze fell on a tall, dark-haired man wearing a grey suit, standing outside in the alleyway. He hovered against the far wall, holding a cell phone to his ear. He seemed nervous. Something wasn’t right. The blonde had rejoined the table with her gossipy friends and let out a loud sigh.
“James is making my life hell,” she complained. Abe caught snatches of conversation. Therapy was mentioned. So was, “You need to call your attorney.” The blonde retorted, “Who do you think I was talking to?”
Abe forked the cake and tried it, but for some reason, there was no taste. He noticed the man outside pacing behind Abe’s rental, then the blonde’s car. Abe gaped when he realized the man wore skin-tone latex gloves. He moved so fast, reaching into his jacket. He drew out a red-tipped slim Jim, slid it into the window frame, popped the lock then dropped a square-looking black object into the back of the vehicle. The man closed the door and with a quick glance back at the cake shop, strode away from the BMW.
Abe almost thought he’d imagined it, but he knew he hadn’t. Guy was a pro. Fifteen seconds, tops. The cake stuck to the roof of Abe’s mouth. What on earth… What had he put inside the car? Abe’s senses flared, his mouth grew hot. He tried to swallow. No. It couldn’t be.
Message from AJ
Santa Comes to Hawaii!
Hi N.J., and thanks for having me here. Anyone familiar with my books knows that I have a serious love affair going on with the Hawaiian Islands.
Many of my books are set there and a recent visit there staying with a wonderful friend in the Manoa Valley prompted me to write Coffee and Kukui Nuts, a Hawaiian mystery in the newish Amazon program, Kindle Worlds.
What this is…how do I keep it brief? Well, Kindle Worlds involves best-selling authors who have at least 10 major best sellers on Amazon open up their “world” to other authors who write their own novellas based on this author’s “cannon” novels.
I am a huge fan of best-selling Hawaiian mystery novelist Toby Neal who has created a fresh and feisty heroine in Lei Texeira, a hard-hitting Maui detective who is not the run-of-the-mill charming, cute, giffy lead character. She’s a woman dealing with post-traumatic stress from childhood abuse and her new romance with a fellow detective is triggering a host of fears. Add to that some very original, topical, often violent crimes, the Lei Crime Series has ignited the imagination of readers all over the world.
I was thrilled to participate in Toby’s “world.” It’s essentially fan fiction, except that unlike the whole Stephanie Meyer/E.L. James controversy, in Kindle Worlds, the original author has full control of the spinoff books. She/he has approval of the covers, stories, synopsis etc. and publishes them on Kindle Worlds, which, while published by Amazon, is its own separate entity. After Amazon takes its cut, Toby splits the royalty payments with each participating author.
I chose to work with Toby’s adorable, big Tongan explosives expert, Abe Torufu. I picked him because nobody else had used him yet, and also, though he is memorable in the Lei Crime Series cannon books, there is little information on him. I came up with a whole background, a crazy family and a hit on his life. Since I write M/M I wanted to have a gay character in the series and Toby was pleased to let me have one. I created Tony McCracken, a U.S. Marshal based in Honolulu who protects Abe and soon becomes his best friend.
Every moment of writing Coffee and Kukui Nuts was a thrill for me. The book sold well and I fell in love with Abe so I came up with a sequel, Ti Leaves and Moon Cakes, which is also selling well. Please check out these books. I hope you enjoy them. I have injected many real life adventures in the fabulous upcountry neighborhood of Manoa in these stories and will be putting more in the third, yet-to-be-titled book coming out March 31.
Give Away TimeI’m offering up a coffee of each book to a lucky reader so please post a comment to enter the draw to win!
Ti Leaves and Moon Cakes
Lei Crime Series Book 2
Release Date: November 2015
Publisher: Kindle Worlds
Can Abe trust Tony with his life…again?
In this follow-up to Coffee and Kukui Nuts, Maui explosives expert Abe Torufu wants his sister Meleny’s wedding to go off without a bang on the beach at Waikiki. But before the kahuna can bless the big day with a traditional ‘awa and ti leaf ceremony, a suspicious buoy washes ashore, threatening to wreck the celebration.
Not only that, but a shocking photo snapped by Abe’s date for the wedding, his Lieutenant, Cherry Joy Omura, reveals a surprising face in the crowd.
When somebody starts taking potshots at Abe, he once again joins forces with U.S. Marshal Tony McCracken to track down a master criminal. Can Abe keep his shirt and his underpants on this time? Can he figure out why he offered Cherry Joy a date involving moon cakes? And most of all, can he get to the er, bottom of why he hates Tony’s new boyfriend?
Rain fell on the roof, somehow managing to find the only leaky spot in the living room. Should Abe see this as an omen? Ten minutes to ten in the morning and he had to get to the airport for yet another pickup.
“Okay,” Tony said. “Are we very clear now? A lady expects you to make a move on her, Abe. You’re supposed to kiss her at the end of your date.”
“Even the first one?” Abe squirmed on the sofa. It was a small drip in the corner. And they weren’t having the wedding here. It rained all the time in Mānoa. But not down at Queen’s Surf.
How can I relax? Tony wants me to kiss my boss!
Abe’s anxiety ratcheted up a notch as Tony paced the tiny space between them. The only remaining strip of floor space wedged between piles of wedding gifts, giant calabashes, and his sister’s sleeping kitty made him feel claustrophobic.
“What, you want her to think she took ugly pills or something, Abe? Of course you kiss her on the first date. Has it been a long time for you or something?”
“Yeah. Or something.” If I jumped from the lanai to the ground and escaped that way, how many bones would I break?
Tony let out a sigh. He was really laying on the frustrated friend routine a bit thick. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on him and he’d be one big, hambone sandwich.
“Do you need to practice kissing with me? Would that help?”
Abe stared at him. “I’m not kissing you! You’re a…you’re a guy.”
“Yes, I know. Just puttin’ it out there. My sister taught me to give blow jobs.” Tony smiled at the memory. “We used root beer Popsicles.”
“Oh, my God. Do I wanna know this?” Abe clapped his hands over his ears. If I broke a leg, it would hurt a lot less than this. “Now every time I see you and Steve, I’m gonna be thinkin’ about… Popsicles.”
“It was a cool way to learn. Man, that was a long time ago. I don’t even think they make root beer Popsicles anymore.”
Abe waited. Now was probably not a good time to mention that he wasn’t crazy about Tony’s new boyfriend. Abe had only met the guy a couple of times. In fact he’d introduced them in a rash moment he now regretted. Be nice. Maybe he was nervous meeting me and he isn’t always grumpy. Maybe he isn’t the asshole my sixth sense insists he is. I’m thinkin’ background check. Yeah. Right after the wedding.
Tony put his hands on his hips and stared down at him. “So, Abe. What are you going to call her?”
“Lieutenant.” Abe spoke with confidence.
“You’re a damned Neanderthal. You can’t call her that. And don’t you dare refer to her as sir. Especially when you ask her to dance.”
Abe broke out in a sweat. “I’m going to ask her to dance? For real?”
“Yes, you simpleton. It’s your sister’s wedding. Remember?”
“I know that. I’ve been practicing my hula, but I’m not into that mushy slow stuff. No can do, brah.”
“Yes, you can. I’ll teach you.”
“No. You won’t.”
“There aren’t going to be any slow dances. But you gotta, you know, move and groove a little with her.” Tony snapped his fingers and swiveled his hips, gyrating like somebody from one of those old Preparation H TV ads. “Hey, how come I’m the white guy here and I got more soul than you do?”
Abe frowned. “I’ve got soul.”
“All over, brah. All over me. I am the epitome of island soul.”
“If you say so.”
A.J. Llewellyn is an author of M/M romantic fiction who was born in Australia, and lives in Los Angeles. An early obsession with Robinson Crusoe led to a lifelong love affair with islands, particularly Hawaii and Easter Island.
Being marooned once on Wedding Cake Island in Australia cured her of a passion for fishing, but led to a plotline for a novel. A.J.’s friends live in fear because even the smallest details of their lives usually wind up in her stories. A.J. has a desire to paint, draw, juggle, work for the FBI, walk a tightrope with an elephant, be a chess champion, a steeplejack, master chef, and a world-class surfer. She can’t do any of these things so she writes about them instead.
A.J. I started life as a journalist and boxing columnist, and still enjoys interrogating, er, interviewing people to find out what makes them tick.
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