From the book
There are some men who enter a woman's life and screw it up forever. Joseph Morelli did this to me—not forever, but periodically.
Morelli and I were both born and raised in a blue-collar chunk of Trenton called the burg. Houses were attached and narrow. Yards were small. Cars were American. The people were mostly of Italian descent, with enough Hungarians and Germans thrown in to offset inbreeding. It was a good place to buy calzone or play the numbers. And, if you had to live in Trenton anyway, it was an okay place to raise a family.
When I was a kid I didn't ordinarily play with Joseph Morelli. He lived two blocks over and was two years older. "Stay away from those Morelli boys," my mother had warned me. "They're wild. I hear stories about the things they do to girls when they get them alone."
"What kind of things?" I'd eagerly asked.
"You don't want to know," my mother had answered. "Terrible things. Things that aren't nice."
From that moment on, I viewed Joseph Morelli with a combination of terror and prurient curiosity that bordered on awe. Two weeks later, at the age of six, with quaking knees and a squishy stomach, I followed Morelli into his father's garage on the promise of learning a new game.
The Morelli garage hunkered detached and snubbed at the edge of their lot. It was a sorry affair, lit by a single shaft of light filtering through a grime-coated window. Its air was stagnant, smelling of corner must, discarded tires, and jugs of used motor oil. Never destined to house the Morelli cars, the garage served other purposes. Old Man Morelli used the garage to take his belt to his sons, his sons used the garage to take their hands to themselves, and Joseph Morelli took me, Stephanie Plum, to the garage to play train.
"What's the name of this game?" I'd asked Joseph Morelli.
"Choo-choo," he'd said, down on his hands and knees, crawling between my legs, his head trapped under my short pink skirt. "You're the tunnel, and I'm the train."
I suppose this tells something about my personality. That I'm not especially good at taking advice. Or that I was born with an overload of curiosity. Or maybe it's about rebellion or boredom or fate. At any rate, it was a one-shot deal and darn disappointing, since I'd only gotten to be the tunnel, and I'd really wanted to be the train.
Ten years later, Joe Morelli was still living two blocks over. He'd grown up big and bad, with eyes like black fire one minute and melt-in-your-mouth chocolate the next. He had an eagle tattooed on his chest, a tight-assed, narrow-hipped swagger, and a reputation for having fast hands and clever fingers.
My best friend, Mary Lou Molnar, said she heard Morelli had a tongue like a lizard.
"Holy cow," I'd answered, "what's that supposed to mean?"
"Just don't let him get you alone or you'll find out. Once he gets you alone...that's it. You're done for."
I hadn't seen much of Morelli since the train episode. I supposed he'd enlarged his repertoire of sexual exploitation. I opened my eyes wide and leaned closer to Mary Lou, hoping for the worst. "You aren't talking about rape, are you?"
"I'm talking about lust! If he wants you, you're doomed. The guy is irresistible."
Aside from being fingered at the age of six by you-know-who, I was untouched. I was saving myself for marriage, or at least for college. "I'm a virgin," I said, as if this was news. "I'm sure he doesn't mess with virgins.
Author: Janet Evanovich
Bio: Bestselling author Janet Evanovich is the recipient of the Crime Writers Association's John Creasy Memorial, Last Laugh, and Silver Dagger awards, as well as the Left Coast Crime's Lefty award, and is the two-time recipient of the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association's Dilys award. She lives in New Hampshire, where she is at work on her next Stephanie Plum adventure.
Stephanie Plum is destined to join ranks with Kinsey Millhone and Carlotta Carlyle. Janet Evanovich has crafted a heroine for today, tough, vulnerable, resourceful, and impulsive. - Nora Robertsbestselling author of Private Scandals
A fast-paced, gritty mystery....Janet Evanovich is a witty and clever voice in crime fiction. - Senator William S. Cohenauthor of Murder in the Senate
Finally, something fresh and different! Stephanie Plum is an original and One for the Money is a great series debut. - Marlys Millhiserauthor of Death of the Office Witch
What a great read! I couldn't put it down. It's fast and funny...Stephanie Plum's attitude is as refreshing as a cold wind on a blistering New Jersey day. She's a believably vulnerable heroine who doesn't need to be rescued by a man, even one as sexy as Joe Morelli. - Deborah Crombieauthor of All Shall Be Well
Evanovich has a smooth, funny style, spacing thrills and laughs for maximum effect. Mark Evanovich and Plum down on your must-read list! - Dean Jamesmanager, Murder by the Book, Houston, and coauthor of By a Woman's Hand
Funny, unsentimental, tough and touching all at once. I hope we see a lot more of Stephanie Plum. - Jerome Doolittleauthor of Headlock