Assassin By Day
by Tessa Robertson
After years of unanswered questions, Mishka Vald sets out to uncover the skhodka’s involvement in her past. What she doesn’t expect is to join forces with men who push her to become a double-agent and confirm her future. While hunting down leads, the ruthless assassin realizes a life in the shadows is the only way for her to protect those she loves.
For Mishka, forbidden love is worth the pain when it comes to Eddie Harper, a military man turned cop. Her affection waivers when duty comes first and she joins forces with an elite Russian soldier, Alexei Petrovich. With a blackmailer threatening her school love, she seeks refuge with a fellow assassin, Nickolas Volkov. And when pushed too far, she’s ushered to a secure location…and straight into the arms of mysterious handyman, Dylan Kain. As the pieces fall into place, their mangled order reveals each man’s true intention. Whose deceit can she accept and whose will obliterate her?
All roads lead back to the woman she thought dead—her mother. Now, as weddings are crashed and alliances tested, Mishka uncovers a deadly game and the players involved. Her heart, once unable to budge, is thrust into action, but which man can keep her soul intact?
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Nickolas eyes my bloodied apparel. “I take it your mission went as planned.”
Shoving off my boots, I shrug. “We had a nice chat, yes.” I gaze at the dried liquid. “I don’t believe she’ll share any more secrets except to demons.”
“Good, I’ll let your superiors know. Do you need anything further?”
His question catches me off guard until I hear the soft footsteps nearby. Without looking, I sense Alexei’s presence. It’s a fog. A deviously wicked fog. “No, I believe you’ve been useful enough, thank you.”
I stand and meet the waiting forestry eyes. “Alexei, I didn’t know you were back.”
My beloved tosses his jacket to the couch, holding my eyes hostage. “I’m sure you didn’t.” His gaze transfers to Nickolas then to me. “I see you’ve been busy.”
Unsheathing my knives, I study the stains. “I had an assignment pop up.”
“I’m sure that wasn’t the only thing to pop up in my absence.”
I smirk at his spiteful reply. If I didn’t know better, I’d think he’s jealous.
Twisting my torso, I watch the exchange in the room. Alexei prides himself for being level headed, but his actions speak another tone. His obvious hatred for Nickolas is his own fault. He invited him, so I feel no regret in the Olympics I share with his minion.
“Leave him alone, Alexei,” I urge, tearing off my skin-tight leather shirt. I rather like the James Bond villainess look. I think I’ll keep it. My brown hair catches on the zipper and I silently curse. Damn this long hair!
I turn and notice both men gaping. It could be because I’m not wearing anything underneath or because blood’s streaked across my chest. I’m not sure which one enraptures them and I don’t care. Their attention is all I crave. I murdered a comrade. Punishment is warranted.
Catalyst at Night
Too bad for them, as a rivaling mob – the vory – holds Mishka Vald captive. The real kicker? She’s trapped in her mother’s clutches with the two men she loves, with no escape from the devious scheme Alena Vald cooked up to destroy the skhodka.
After spiriting across the globe with one man in tow, Mishka comes face to face with her past. Piecing together the distorted memories would be easy if someone hadn’t tampered with them.
Can Mishka slip through the grips of warring Russian mobs for a chance at a normal life? Find out in Catalyst at Night., the sequel to Assassin by Day.
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“Time, Nick. I don’t get much of it these days. It’s why I didn’t come back right away. I craved time. It’s so much to digest. I can’t accept my memory loss.” I study the bedspread. “I need it back.”
“You might not remember it, but you agreed to the loss of time and memories, my love.”
I punch the pillow, the conversation annoying me like a zit. “Da. I wish you were mistaken, but I know you’re not.” I meet his cool blue eyes. God, you can’t fake that hue in a colored contact. It’s spellbinding.
Nickolas strokes my cheek lightly, his thin calluses comforting. He isn’t an assassin like me. He’s much more dangerous as the man behind the curtain. “I’m sorry. I wish it didn’t have to be this way.”
He scoots down the bed and wraps me against his chest. I close my eyes at the rhythmic tempo of his heart. It soothes me no matter the situation.
“What if there’s a way I can get them back?”
Nickolas brushes my hair away from my face. “There is but it’s not safe.”
“I don’t care. I need them.”
He sighs and tilts my chin, so he can look into my face. His eyes dance between my eyes and lips. “What if they’re horrible, Mishka? What if they destroy you and the world you know?”
“I can’t think like that.” I shake my head. “My father knows the doctor who can do it.”
His heavy sigh envelopes us both. Slowly, he nuzzles his nose into the nape of my neck. “I wish you could see that you have everything you need right here, love,” he whispers.
In her spare time, Tessa attempts to teach her Australian Shepherd and Golden Retriever new tricks; spends copious time with family; catches up on her favorite shows; and listens to country music.
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Relaxation doesn’t happen very often for me. As a full-time mom, employee, and writer, it takes me a while to carve out ‘me’ time. When I do, it usually includes Netflix (or one of my favorite romance movies) and a glass of red wine. Other times, I enjoy reading a new book on my Kindle or in paperback depending on the availability. Strange as it may seem, going to the exercise is also a way I like to unwind. Sometimes, that means taking my two dogs on a walk or going to the gym and plugging in some great tunes.
Do you have a favorite movie?
I have many favorite movies so it’s difficult to narrow it down to one. I will say, You’ve Got Mail, Pride & Prejudice, and the Bourne series are my top favorites.
How to find time to write as a parent?
Just this morning, I was dropping my daughter off at school when a new story idea came to me. I snagged my handy miniature notebook in my purse and scribbled the main things circulating my brain. That’s pretty much how I find time to write as a parent. I write when the inspiration hits me, but sometimes like this morning, it isn’t possible, so I jot down notes to circle back to later. I do my best to juggle being a mom and a writer by dedicating time solely for my daughter. It doesn’t always work out that way, but she is completely happy watching me write as well. We have a very close bond and when she sees my laptop or notebook out, she knows that’s writing time. On the flipside, she also knows I will dedicate one-on-one time with her whenever she asks. I may be knee-deep in edits, but if she wants me to play a board game or watch a movie with her, I drop it all so we can spend time together.
What are you currently reading?
At the moment, I am reading The Marriage Arrangement by Patricia Ryan and P.B. Ryan. I’m a sucker for arranged marriage romances.
What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?
My writing process usually starts with a plot outline. It’s generally extremely messy, but it gives me an idea of where I want the story to go. After that, I write out what I would like in each scene that goes along with the plot. Most of the time, I write by hand for the first draft. I don’t always section out chapters, but I do try to do it since it makes the second draft easier.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
I prefer to write with noise, preferably music. I used to think it was the worst thing to have any distractions while writing, but after a few years, I’ve learned it actually helps me focus on the story more. Yes, I do sing along to some songs mid-sentence, but I love to hear different variations of someone else’s art. It helps me incorporate accents or new ideas sometimes.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
At any given time, I’m writing at least two books at once. During National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), I do my best to focus solely on the book I’ve working on for the competition. Nine out of ten times, there’s usually another book I’m working on no matter the month. For example, at the moment, I’m editing two books and writing one. Of course, that doesn’t include the four-book series I also plotted or the other two books in a separate series that I’ve worked on. Writing is a full-time job that demands overtime and I love it.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
I think one of the biggest traps aspiring writers face is to compare their work to a famous person’s work and expecting greatness immediately. Neither works for an array of reasons, but the top one is because you don’t get famous overnight. Many aspiring writers don’t realize how much blood, sweat, and way too many tears are involved in writing. Each writer has their own style and not everyone will like it.
Another trap aspiring writers face is to write what they think people want. It’s impossible to make everyone happy. It just doesn’t happen. There will always be a critic out there. You have to write what makes you happy plain and simple.
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?
I love this question. I think both Assassin by Day and Catalyst at Night would have a vodka scented candle.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
Some of my characters are loosely based off real people. As in, the characters might possess some of the traits of people I’ve either personally known or seen on the street. I try not to make any character too much like anyone I know because it seems too personal. My characters are all their own. They have demons and redeeming qualities just like someone in real life.
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Having Mishka’s series made into a film is my ultimate dream. As for the lead actor, she needs to be as badass as possible. A younger version of Angelina Jolie is preferable, but since I don’t possess a time machine, I’d go with Marie Avgerpoulos.
What are some of your pet peeves?
One of my pet peeves is when people drive really slow in the fast lane. Another one is when people spell my name wrong.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
Sometime unique about me is my height. I’m 6ft tall and I’ve been this height since I was twelve.
Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?
My two main characters are Mishka Vald and Nickolas Petrovich. Both are involved in a Russian mafia. Mishka is an assassin and Nickolas is a handler of sorts. I don’t want to give too much away about their characters, but I will say that their families involved them in the mafia at a young age. Following her mother’s death, Mishka decides to investigate the mafia. What she finds only furthers her intuition that the mafia she’s known all her life isn’t what she believed. As for Nickolas, he is dedicated to saving himself. Well, himself and Mishka. They’ve always had a close bond, despite differences, and he comes up with a way for both of them to escape the mafia.
Where did you come up with the names in the story?
I love to research the history of names when it comes to naming characters. Most of the characters have Russian names because of their connection with the Russian mob. For my day job, I work at a criminal defense law office. That gave me both parts of Nickolas Petrovich’s name by combining a few different people I’ve come across while at the firm. Mishka’s name came from my online research. I wanted a strong, female name that wasn’t overused and Mishka was born.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I first considered myself a writer when I was seventeen years old. During the summer before my senior year, I wrote my first novel. It’s a historical romance set in Scotland. I’ve yet to have it published due to massive rewriting because I’ve learned a thing or two in the last twelve years. That was when I knew writing had to be a permanent part of my life.
Where were you born/grew up at?
I was born in a house (yes, a house and not a hospital) in Ohio. At the age of nine, my family moved to Iowa and I’ve been here ever since.
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
I read a ton of books and watch a lot of shows and movies. I’ve always found mystery/action/psychological thrillers/romance to be my favorite. For these characters, I wanted to explore facets that other people either shy away from or ignore. Not all readers like it, but that’s why it’s a niche market. For example, Mishka has been through a lot in life. She’s done some horrible things and believes she should be punished for those. Unfortunately, the type of punishment isn’t the typical law enforcement type. It’s a psychological and physical punishment that some women believe they deserve because of the wrongdoings they’ve done in their own lives.
As for the concepts, I love a mystery beneath a mystery and a little treason while they’re at it. Mishka decides to act as a double-agent. That gets her into a heap of trouble as her story progresses. I like to see how spies get out of certain circumstances sometimes with their smarts and looks. For me, the concept of espionage and assassins is exciting, unexpectable, and intense.
How did you come up with the title of your first novel?
Initially, I wanted the title of my book to be Specter. Unfortunately, I wrote it right around the time a certain James Bond movie came out, so I had to find a new title. I came up with Assassin by Day because Mishka isn’t an assassin all the time. Only when called upon.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I don’t believe I would change anything about my latest book, Catalyst at Night. It’s the second of three in Mishka’s story of reckoning and solving the mystery of her life.
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