If Yesterday Could Talk

by Sonja Gunter

If Yesterday Could Talk by Sonja Gunter

A promise is a promise, right? Even if it was made twenty years ago.

Rane Schoen’s promise to marry the boy she once met on an airplane is long forgotten.

Mark Christmenn, now the President and owner of his family coffee business, MAC Companies, plans on keeping the promise. Until his well-orchestrated and lonely life flashes in front of him, when he is shot by a drug cartel, who had been using his coffee bean shipments to smuggle drugs. He second guesses the old promise.

Chance brings the two of them together, but neither recognize the other from twenty years ago. Will their sexual attraction be enough to fulfill the promise they made as kids?

KindleSmashwordsNookKoboGoogle PlayApplePRINT

Release Date: November 21, 2023
Genre: Contemporary Romance

A Pink Satin Romance


Chapter One

Not a good sign.

Mark Christmenn, the owner, and president of MAC Industries, sat in the comfort of his black limo. He clenched his jaw and tightened his grip on the door armrest. He watched FBI Agent Tom Nelson approach Hal, his personal pilot. The federal agent had requested, no, demanded, Mark meet him in one hour at the Flying Cloud Airport and have his company jet, Dream Catcher, ready. The agent had been abrupt and hadn’t even given him a chance to ask any questions before hanging up.

Mark’s temper soared, and his thoughts raced dangerously. The moment the limo stopped, he opened the door. Philip, his bodyguard, sometimes chauffer, and best friend, joined him. Throwing back his broad shoulders and stiffening his arms so they wouldn’t swing, Mark took long and purposeful steps toward the waiting pair.

“Agent Nelson, what in God’s name is so urgent that you felt it necessary to drag me out here at two o’clock in the damn morning? You’re lucky I recently moved my corporate jet from the Minneapolis/St. Paul International, Lindbergh Terminal.”

“Steven Massaro.”

Instantly, Mark took a step back and his hands clenched into fists automatically. He clenched his jaw and narrowed his eyes. His emotions went into overdrive with revulsion. He flexed his hands, hating the way his body reacted to the mere mention of the man’s name. Mark cleared his throat. “Massaro?”

“Yup, he just arrived in San Diego. We weren’t expecting him for another month or so, but we got word he’s meeting with several known Mexican drug cartels. We think he’s trying to get them to join forces with the Italian mob. Right under our noses. The rendezvous is taking place tonight at the Grill Restaurant. We need—”

The roar of jet engines cut off Agent Nelson, and Mark moved closer to hear.

“We need you in San Diego today. All the previous plans have been pushed forward. Undercover agents will meet you at the airport with updates. We’re very optimistic your presence and the sting will hang it on him.”

“Hang what and on whom?”

“Oh, sorry. We hope to set Massaro up with you,” Agent Nelson said.

“Who do you want me to meet?” Mark was so furious the negativity clouding his thoughts and didn’t care if the roar of the engines hid the anger in his voice or not. “Are you insane? The man wants me dead!”

“That’s why it’s so important for you to go. We’re betting Massaro will confront you.” Agent Nelson paused. “Don’t worry, the FBI, along with the DEA special teams, will take extra precautions for your safety. Any questions?”

“Have you been inhaling some of the drugs you’ve confiscated? Because it sure seems like it. You want me to be in the same room with a known killer and mobster. The same man who has issued a hit on me because I reported him to the FBI. This is a no brainer. No. No fucking way. I’m out of here. Come on, Philip, drive me home.” Mark turned and made his way back to his limo.

“Mr. Christmenn, calm down.” Agent Tom Nelson grabbed Mark’s arm. “You have to understand, I wouldn’t have asked if I thought for a moment you’d be in harm’s way, and you did agree to help us fight this scum.”

Mark shook his head and ran a hand through his hair. Is my company’s reputation worth dying for? Or am I willing to die? This isn’t what I agreed to do. He brushed Agent Nelson’s hand off his arm and motioned to Philip to come over to him. “This isn’t what the original plan was! We were to interview some new coffee brokers. Place a large order so the FBI could watch the incoming shipments for drugs.”

“I know, I know,” Agent Tom Nelson said.

“I didn’t agree to see the man who wants me dead in person!” Mark shook his head. The FBI wanted hard proof, so what? He’d agreed to a very plain and simple plan. Now they wanted him to actually be in the same fucking room with Steven Massaro.

Sweet deal for whom? Not for me! The question is, do I want to be looking over my shoulder for the rest of my life?

“You have to trust the FBI and the DEA. If these guys are taking payoffs and are responsible for placing the cocaine in your shipments, we need to stop them,” Philip said.

“What if—?”

Philip cut Mark off. “There aren’t any ‘what if’s’. Either we do this, or we don’t. It’s up to you.”

He shoved his hands into his pockets in defeat. Philip was right and could always talk him down from his temper. He walked back to Agent Nelson. “All right, I’ll agree under one condition.”

“I’m not here to make deals.”

“If you want me, Agent Nelson, then I want my bodyguard Philip West, as part of the undercover unit.” Mark motioned once again for Philip to come over to them.

“I can arrange that. I think that’s a great idea. Your actions here this morning and tonight are really appreciated.” Agent Nelson extended his hand.

Mark hesitated, still suspicious of the agent’s motives, and then shook his hand. “Before I change my mind, is there anything else you need to tell me?”

“There is one thing. We’ve arranged for you to meet with one of our agents, Harvey Johnson. The coffee world knows him as a buyer of exotic coffee beans.” Agent Nelson started toward the Dream Catcher. “We’ve used his cover before, which is what led us to the coffee brokers.”

“You’re positive Massaro won’t suspect anything?” Mark raised his voice over the drone of the engines.

“Yes. You’re both big in the coffee business. Of course, it wouldn’t be unusual for the two of you to be seen together. I have to finish a couple of things here before I head out. I’ll meet with you later this afternoon.” Agent Nelson held out a file. “Take this file. You’ll want to read it.”

Mark nodded and accepted the file, even though he was tempted to throw it back in Agent Nelson’s face and walk away.

“The other part of my team will be at the San Diego Airport when you arrive. They’ll take you to a secure location until I arrive. Mark, Philip, have a nice flight.” Agent Nelson left.

Mark tucked the file under his arm and stepped up the stairs into Dream Catcher. Philip followed with the luggage.

“Are you okay with all this?” Philip asked once they were inside the plane.

“No! I mean, yes, I want to get on with my life, run my business, and put this damn nightmare behind us. We’ll be fine,” Mark added, more to assure himself than Philip.

He didn’t want Philip to worry any more than he already was. He sure as hell hoped they’d be okay. With Philip as extra protection, nothing could happen, could it?

Once in the air, Mark used the time to open the agent’s file, and quickly read the reports. He wasn’t a cop or an FBI agent and here he was about to embark on some sort of mission. Guns, being wired, a bulletproof vest, and an earpiece. It all seemed unreal.

When he saw Philip approach, Mark closed his eyes and pretended to be asleep. He didn’t want to talk, and he sure as hell didn’t want to argue. He sensed Philip passed by him and then heard the cabin door shut again. So many thoughts about his life, his lack of relationships, and the business empire he was running came and went as he waited for the three-hour flight to end.

Too soon for comfort, Mark saw the flashing yellow lights signaling their approach into the San Diego Air Force Airport and wished he had more time. But he’d never hidden from anything in his life, and he wasn’t going to start today.

When he and Philip disembarked, a group of men were waiting. A man with black hair and sunglasses stepped forward.

“Welcome, Mr. Christmenn and Mr. West. I’m Agent Johnson from the Narcotics Division Special Services. Thanks for agreeing to help us.”

“I can’t say I’m pleased, but I’ll do whatever it takes to get this guy out of my life,” Mark said.

“I understand. We’ll take you to the hotel right away and meet with you later in the afternoon. It shouldn’t take long to get you wired and into the bulletproof vest. If you think of any questions, I’ll be able to answer them at that time,” Agent Johnson assured him.

The new information, along with the knowledge that the Narcotics Division was now involved, calmed some of Mark’s concerns. The division was known for monitoring drugs. They had their own vice enforcement team that worked closely on organized crime problems specializing in narcotics. They’d been the ones that had found the cocaine in one of his shipments last year and had set this nightmare into motion.

“Do you think he’ll try to kill me?”

“We’ve gathered some rather interesting information that confirmed him as a very, ah, should I say, just a little bananas about the foiled hit on you last fall,” Agent Johnson paused for a moment and then added, “We’re betting Mr. Massaro will attempt to take you out. We’re very confident his Italian temper will get the better of him and we can bust him.”

His earlier anger returned, and he swallowed hard. “Just who is betting on my life?”

“No, no Mr. Christmenn, it’s not like that. Sorry, bad choice of words on my part. The waiters and the food staff are the Cavalry. Sorry, undercover agents. Actually, everyone but Mr. Massaro and his guests will be agents with the exception of the chef and owner.”

Mark felt Philip’s presence behind him.

“Isn’t Massaro going to suspect something if he doesn’t recognize the staff?”

“It’s all part of the sting, Mr. West. When our informants told us they were using this restaurant as a meeting place, we moved in several months ago. The owner has several violations pending, which we used as leverage, and he was more than happy to allow us to step in,” Agent Johnson said.

“That’s reassuring to know unless he tries to double-cross you. I hope I’ll be able to act this out for you. I don’t want to let anyone down,” Mark said, using as much sarcasm in his tone as he could.

“Don’t worry, you’ll do fine. Agent Nelson has told us a lot about you. We’re done here. If you don’t have any more questions, we’ll take you to the hotel now.” Agent Johnson signaled to a waiting black SUV Cadillac.

Mark blew out a breath. His churning gut told him something about the plan was way off. He had to stay focused for any signs of anything out of place.

“One last thing,” the agent continued. “A special taxicab will pick you up and take you to the restaurant. I’ll keep in touch if we have any last-minute changes. Try to relax this afternoon.”

Adventures were something he had never really enjoyed, even as a kid, and this one was now at the top of his list of what things not to do.

“Mark, you nervous? Because I sure am,” Philip said once they were alone inside the car.

“Hell, yes. It’s not as if we put our life on the line every day. Well, I should say, I don’t, but you do. I can’t handle this much stress,” Mark replied, and wiped his sweaty hands on his pants. Normally he wouldn’t confess weakness to anyone, but he’d known Philip for years and literally trusted the man with his life.

“You don’t have to do this. We could back out.”

“No, I have to. I can’t say I don’t have a bad feeling, but on the other hand, I can’t sit by and allow scumbags like Massaro, and other drug cartel leaders attempt to import drugs into the United States by shipping them concealed in imported goods. I’m not going to live my life in fear of them or their organizations. I have to do what is necessary to protect my companies and their reputations and help other importers.”

“I want you to know that if I thought there was even a slight chance, I couldn’t protect you and you might be killed, we wouldn’t be here right now.”

“Want to play a couple of hands of blackjack, once we get to the room?”

How his friend knew the right thing to say and do, he didn’t know. He rubbed his fingers over his tired eyes, somewhat comforted by Philip’s words. “I am fine. You’re worse than Mrs. Weber. I just want to lie down. I need to be by myself.”

They remained silent the rest of the ride to the hotel. When they arrived, an agent escorted them to their room.

Mark picked up his own bag without saying a word, strode into the bedroom, closed the door, and threw the bag onto the only chair. Fully clothed, he plopped down onto the bed, placed his hands behind his head, and stared at nothing.

What in God’s name am I doing? I could be dead in a few hours. Then what? The end? No! I’m not going to die this way. I have to stop thinking that way.

He focused on the shadows on the ceiling, letting them take on shapes. They formed into what resembled a Chinese dragon dancing and moving around.

Dragons were his good luck charm and all through his life whenever one would turn up in his dreams something good always happened. He’d even gotten a dragon, with wings outstretched and green eyes, tattooed on his back right shoulder. Most of the women he’d dated loved it and had given him the nickname Dragon. Could this be a sign that everything was going to be okay?

He closed his eyes and willed sleep to come to quiet his roaming thoughts, but it never did. He lay there for a couple hours unable to relax. A knock on the door kick started his heart.

“Mark, the agents are here,” Philip called out.

“Okay, I’ll be out in a minute.”

Show time. Ready or not.


* * *


As the Grill Restaurant came into view, waves of acid welled up in his throat from his belly. To calm himself, Mark thought of the upcoming mission as one of the video games he’d played years ago where he’d held the main controller and was in charge of everyone. The winning move was to find the bad guy and walk away alive.



He peered over his shoulder to eye the car following them, encouraged by the fact Philip was in such close proximity. As promised, Agent Johnson had assigned Philip a position outside the front of the restaurant in case of trouble.

That would place Philip near the action and close enough to come to his aid, if needed, but far enough out of harm’s way. The mere thought of Philip getting hurt if this all went down bad caused his chest to tighten. He couldn’t lose his bodyguard and close friend over a loser like Massaro. Not to mention the media hype of a civilian involved in a shoot-out.

Quicker than Mark had expected, the parking valet opened the car door. The games were about to begin for real. With one foot placed confidently in front of the other, he moved up the stairs and through the double-wood doors. Right now, he felt like the avatar and someone else was holding the remote control.

“Welcome to the Grill Restaurant.”

A pretty redhead in her mid-to-late thirties with a wide smile and friendly eyes greeted them.

Mark stared at the hostess for a moment, cleared his throat, and willed his heartbeat to slow. “Hi, I’m meeting someone. I’m not sure if he has arrived.”

In one swift glance around the room, he spotted the clean-shaven, dark-haired Massaro and froze. Mark’s adrenaline kicked into high gear.

Shit. Now what?

He swallowed dryly, ready to turn and run when their eyes locked. To his relief, Massaro was the one who shifted his glance away first, but not before giving him a murderous glare.

“Your party is already seated. Please follow me,” the hostess said.

Mark wrestled to reel in his racing thoughts while his mind screamed for focus. He needed to stay alert, but he was so damned uncomfortable. And he was sweating like a damn pig. The bulletproof vest they’d made him wear was heavy, and he could feel the sweat trickling down from his armpits to his hips.

“You’re doing great, Mr. Christmenn. We’ve got his attention,” a voice in his ear said.

Mark flinched at the volume. Trying not to look conspicuous, he said under his breath, “You’re too loud.”

“Sorry. How’s this?”

“Better,” Mark said. Taking a deep breath, he settled his nerves as he followed the hostess, who led him past Steven Massaro’s table. It was all part of the plan. The agents had wanted to make sure Massaro knew he was in the restaurant.

Who were they trying to kid?

As they cleared Massaro’s table, the sounds of curses and glass breaking caused Mark to slow. He felt the hairs on the back of his neck stir and was tempted to glance back.

Am I a dead man walking?

Inhaling deeply, he stiffened his back, focused on Agent Johnson’s face, and continued toward the table, feeling certain things were going to happen sooner than everyone thought. The vacant chair across from Agent Johnson seemed to be yards and yards away. When he reached the table, Mark sank into the welcoming seat, grabbed for the glass of water, and drained it.

Keeping his eyes lowered, he wiped the perspiration from his forehead. The vest was beginning to suffocate him, and the tape they’d used to secure the wires was beginning to itch.

The voice in his ear addressed him again. “Great job. You can now start to talk business. Talk loudly so Massaro will be able to hear.”

His pulse roared in his ears, and he couldn’t talk. His mouth had gone dry. Not wanting to show his panic, Mark turned his head and stared at Agent Johnson.

“Mr. Christmenn, I hope you had a pleasant flight. I’m glad we were able to meet tonight. I’d like to discuss combining our coffee bean purchases. This, I’m sure, will benefit both our companies. When will I be able to take a tour of your company’s processing plant?”

His uneasiness subsided as he concentrated on Agent Johnson. However, when he answered, what came out was barely audible.


“Mr. Christmenn, you need to calm down and start talking,” the voice in his ear demanded.

Mark glanced around for something else to drink. He took the only thing left on the table, a glass of wine, and drained that. He could do this, dammit. He was a multi-millionaire with a successful business. Massaro and his deadbeat gang weren’t going to have the last bang. He lifted his head higher. “How about tomorrow, Mr. Johnson? I’ll give you a personal tour and I’m confident you’ll be very pleased with my processing plant.”

“Good. Good. Keep talking,” the voice in his ear said.

With this encouragement, Mark was now able to do what he needed to do. What he did every day to keep his business thriving. He kept up a lively conversation and even laughed to bring the attention to their table, surprising himself. He felt as if he was watching and doing things from outside of his body. Just when he was beginning to feel confident, an uneasy feeling came over him. Wanting to turn his head to look at Massaro, he fought the urge and remained facing Agent Johnson whose face was a mask, revealing nothing about what was going on behind him.

The meal came and went with no interruptions from the other tables or the damn voice in his ear. He’d worried this had all been for nothing. Massaro wasn’t taking the bait.

Did he suspect it was a set-up?

Would Massaro come after him another time because of this?

The voice spoke again in his ear, startling him. “Change of plans. Now in place, Plan C.”

Mark groaned inwardly. Plan C was for him to walk by Massaro’s table as they exited. He was to stare at Mr. Massaro the entire time and promptly exit the building.

The Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad he’d just eaten turned sour in his stomach.

Where was his antacid when he needed one?

Agent Johnson shifted the conversation to the roasting process of coffee beans just before tapping the table three times, which was the signal to leave.

“Okay, everyone’s in place. Take your time. Walk slowly,” the voice instructed.

Right, walk.

Run was more like it, and he wouldn’t look back.

The man behind the voice was going to die when he did make it outside.

“That would be great. I, um,” Mark stumbled over his words as he watched Massaro push back his suit coat to reveal a shoulder holster gun. “I could arrange for the plant to stay open longer. We run several public tours on the weekends.”

They reached the front of the restaurant without incident and proceeded out to the waiting cars. Mark located Philip a few feet from him. He wanted to leave ASAP. Nothing had happened. The whole damn trip had been a waste of time. Turning to face Agent Johnson to tell him what he thought, but the voice sounded one last time in his ear. “Take cover! Duck.”

Instead of doing as he’d been told, Mark instinctively turned to see what was going on. As if in slow motion, he saw Steven Massaro standing at the top of the stairs with his gun drawn and pointed right at him. Then came a bright flash. He heard the gunshot and felt the bullet whiz by him. To his utter shock, the next bullet hit him in his chest. It sent waves of pain unlike anything he’d ever felt through his torso.

I’ve been shot. I knew it. Just like that.

For a moment, his dismal life flashed before him, all his dreams, and all his unfinished plans.

“Shit, I’ve been shot.”

The power behind the bullet knocked him backward. He landed hard on the pavement. It knocked the wind out of him. His head hit the ground. A black haze slowly took over, while gunshots, shouting, and Philip yelling for him to stay down, was the last thing he heard.


↑ Return to Top ↑