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Shannon McKenna | Conversations in Character with Svetlana Ardova and Sam Petrie


Book: IN FOR THE KILL, by Shannon McKenna

Subject: Svetlana Ardova and Sam Petrie


Interviewer, startled: Oh, my gosh! Um...so you've both arrived together? I hope I didn’t miscommunicate when I gave you the times of the interviews. I scheduled Detective Petrie at 10 AM. (She turns to Sveti.) I meant for you to come in at eleven, because I thought maybe we could grab lunch together afterward. My treat, of course, since you were the one who put me in touch with these fascinating interview subjects for my journalism project. I will be indebted to you forever, you know.

(Sam and Sveti stare at each other in naked alarm, speechless.)

Sveti: I am very sorry. I am sure that it was my mistake. It is the kind of thing that happens to me often, with the English not being perfect, you see. I still have these lapses now and then. I will just go, then, and get a coffee, and come back in an hour. Sorry, Delilah.

Sam: No, no. Stay. Talk to the two of us together. It's no problem.


Interviewer: A dual interview? That could be interesting. I mean, you guys are friends, right? Or else Sveti wouldn’t have put you on the list. And probably she persuaded you to do this for me. For which I am extremely grateful, you should know.

Sveti: I didn’t persuade him of anything. I would never presume. I am sure he is very busy, but he was free to say “no.”

Sam, softly: Free to say no, huh? Interesting concept. I wonder what ‘free to say yes’ would look like.


Interviewer: Huh? What?

Sam: Never mind. Of course, Sveti and I are old friends. Let’s do the interview together, by all means.

Sveti, glaring at him: That would corrupt the process. It would ruin the whole point of the project.

Sam: That is such a Svetlana Ardova thing to say.

Sveti: What the hell is that supposed to mean?


Interviewer, confused and alarmed: Oh, it’s no biggie, Sveti. It’s an informal process. The interviews that I did with all the other McClouds and the rest of them...God, you know, I could write a book! In fact, I would love to.

Sveti, wincing: Oh God, Delilah. Don't even think about it. It would make them uncomfortable, and probably angry at me. It was already a big deal to grant you those interviews. Leave it at this, OK?


Interviewer, downcast: Well, fine, if you say so. So let's get started. We can just grab another chair and—oh! You already did. Thank you.

 Sam, places a chair between the two that were already set up, gesturing for Sveti to sit: Make yourself comfortable.

Sveti, giving him a nervous look: I still think it makes more sense to do our interviews separately.


Interviewer: This is much more fun. More dynamic. Trust me. This way, you get to play off each other, you know what I mean? Remind each other of stuff, elaborate from two points of view. I did a bunch of duals, and they were my favorites. Kev McCloud came in with his wife, Edie Parrish. And Davy McCloud and Margot, and Seth Mackey and Raine Lazar, and Sean McCloud with his wife Liv.

Sveti, gently: Yes, Delilah, but they are all couples. Sam and I aren't a couple. We barely know each other.

Sam: We can pretend, right? Like we did in Marco's room, before that shitshow that Miles and Lara put us through?


Interviewer, looking from one to the other: Um…what happened in Marco's room? Who’s Marco? What shitshow are you referring to?

Sveti, coldly: Marco is a baby. My dear friend's baby. And we are not going to talk about that. Ever.


Interviewer: I sure didn’t mean to say anything that upset you—

Sveti: Not you, Delilah. You are very kind and respectful. Unlike others I could name. Moving on.


Interviewer: OK, then, we’ll just stick with the list of questions, then, and not go wandering off into the thorny woods, right? (laughs nervously.) Ah, well, then. The first one is, how would you describe your family or your childhood? Who goes first?

Sam: I’ll go. Mine was your garden-variety upper-class dysfunctional home. All the classic elements were there. Distant, disapproving father, miserable mother, unlimited funds dedicated to molding any sister and me into masters of the universe. Tutors and boarding schools and Ivy Leagues, and endless guilt and misery when I did not yield a gratifying return on investment. But I have learned to not give a shit, and now that I have, my life is much more serene.


Interviewer: Oh. Wow. That was thorough. Sveti? How about you?

Sveti: Mine was completely the opposite. We were quite poor, and my parents were wonderful. Until my father angered the head of the Ukrainian mafiya, and they kidnapped me and sold me to organ traffickers to punish him. Before they disemboweled him.


Interviewer, horrified: Good God, Sveti, really? Did you, um…is your mother at least—

Sveti: She never recovered. She committed suicide, not long ago. Threw herself off a cliff into the sea.

Sam, shaking his head: That’s our Sveti. She can one-up freaking anybody on earth when it comes to a hard-luck story.

Sveti: bristling: It's the truth!

Sam: Of course it is. And of course, it is awful. But you use it like a long stick with a spike at the end to keep the whole world at bay.

Sveti: I do nothing of the kind! How dare you!


Interviewer, to Sam, sternly: That is completely inappropriate. Stop it, or go.

Sam, mildly: Sorry. I didn’t mean to seem like I’m attacking her. But gruesome or heart-wrenching stories don’t intimidate me. That doesn’t mean they don’t move me. But I’ve heard a lot of them, some worse than hers. I’m a cop, after all. (he pauses.) At least, I was. Not now, thanks to Miles and Lara.


Interviewer: Really? What happened to you? You got into trouble?

Sam: I should have stayed away from that whole thing with Miles and Lara and Greaves. It was just too strange, for the higher-ups in the police bureau. They needed someone to blame, and there I was. They put me on indefinite medical leave. Probably forever, from what I can glean from the police psychologists. And now I’m unemployed. And bored to death.

Sveti: It is unbecoming, to blame your professional difficulties on them. All they ever did was fight like hell to survive. And they did survive. Be happy for them, and deal with your own crap by yourself.

Sam, whistling: Ooh, burrrrnnnn. Cruel Sveti.


Interviewer, trying desperately to change the subject: About that! After that interview I did with Miles, I was so happy to hear that he actually managed to find Lara, and save her! What a story! And now they’re together. So incredible and romantic!

Sun, ironically: Yeah, it all just turned out peachy for them. They’re off in Bali, rolling around on a beach. Yay. I’m applauding my ass off, from my place on the unemployment line. Next question?

Sveti: I think they are on their way back now, for Nina and Aaro’s wedding.

Sam: Are you going to that?

Sveti, looking guarded: Um. Yes. Of course I am. How could I miss Nina and Aaro’s wedding? And it will be good to see Miles and Lara again. Finally getting a chance at happiness.

Sam: Yeah. Happiness. Bully for them, right?


Interviewer, flustered, looks at her notes: Okay. So, anyway. Sam, what is your greatest talent?

Sam, thinking it over: I am relentless in the pursuit of the truth. (He looks at Sveti.) Your turn.

Sveti, pondering the question for over a minute: I guess…I guess that mine is kind of the same.

Sam: Yes, you’re right. With one important difference. I still fear death, but you don’t.

Sveti: That's ridiculous.

Sam: Nope. You just don’t. You just let all of your friends fear it for you, which is pretty goddamn unfair. Running afoul of sweatshop owners, and scumbag pimps and human traffickers, and smearing them all over social media? Basically daring them to wipe you off the face of the earth?

Sveti: Like you said. I am relentless in pursuit of the truth. Besides, I was almost killed for my heart. So any life that I have now? It is not really mine. It is extra. It is gravy. So why be afraid?

Sam: Meaning, you can afford to run out and meet death with your arms outstretched? No matter how the rest of us feel about it? Sounds selfish to me. And reckless.


Interviewer: Let’s move on! Do you have a significant other?

Sam: No.

Sveti: No. My life is not compatible with that.

Sam, snorts under his breath: I’ll bet.


Interviewer: Watch it, Sam. Let’s keep it simple. Where do you live?

Sam: Portland, Oregon.

Sveti: Sometimes Portland, sometimes Seattle, and sometimes Cray's Cove, this little town on the Washington Coast.


Interviewer: Where Tam Steele and Val Janos live?

Sveti: Exactly. Did you contact them for an interview?


Interviewer, ruefully: I tried. Tam said something like, good luck with your project, but I would rather drink bleach. And please don’t call again.

Sveti, wincing: Oh, no. I should not have put her on the list, Delilah. Sorry about that. I should have known better.


Interviewer: It's okay. It’s worth running into a few brick walls, to have a chance to talk to people like this, and hear and their incredible stories. The next question is, do you have any enemies? (She turns to Sam.) You go first.

Sam: I’m a cop. I hunt down bad guys and try to get justice for the people that they victimize, so of course I have enemies. The difference between me and Sveti is the level and scale of my enemies. I just have regular, mediocre crooks and assholes sulking in jail, or wherever, cursing my name. Sveti has the Yakuza, the Russian and Ukrainian mafiya, the Camorra, the ‘Ndrangheta, and many, many more. She's been on their radar for years. Those guys don’t know my name, but they know hers.


Interviewer, big-eyed and nervous, turning to Sveti: Is that true?

 Sveti, scowling at Sam: Yes, Delilah. I do have enemies. More than the average person, I suppose you might say. But Sam is definitely exaggerating.


Interviewer: Well. Um. Try to be careful, OK?

Sam: She won’t.

Sveti: snappishly: Would you just stop it?


Interviewer: Look, you guys. Maybe we should call it a wrap. There seems to be a lot going on between the two of you, and I don't want to—

Sveti: There's not. There is absolutely nothing going on between us, so let’s just finish your list. Come on. Let’s hear the next question.


Interviewer: Well, I had one here about children and pets, but I’m guessing that neither of you…

Sveti: None.

Sam: Same. We’re both workaholics, so...

Sveti: Do not speak for me, Sam!

Sam: Whoops, didn’t mean to, sorry. (smiles at the interviewer.) I have a bird feeder. And about ten million squirrels who really like that bird feeder, and live in the trees over my house. And my walls, too, unfortunately. Does that count?


Interviewer: Let’s just say that it does, and move on. So, the next question was, what you do for a living, but I already know that you're a police detective, and Sveti is—

Sam: A caped crusader for truth and justice.

Sveti, letting out a sigh and clenching her hands tightly: Next question?


Interviewer: What’s your greatest disappointment?

Sam, silent for several seconds: I plead the Fifth.

Sveti, shooting him a suspicious glance: I’m sorry, but I don’t know how to answer that one. I’ve had difficulties, losses, terrors, but those are different from disappointments. I’m not sure how to start.

Sam: I could make some suggestions…

Sveti: No. I do not need your suggestions.


Interviewer: Okay, then. How about your greatest joy?

Sam: Marco's bedroom. Peak moment for me. Absolute top.

Sveti: Ignore him, please, and strike that from the record. My joy is in my friends, and their children. They saved my life, quite literally, and they keep doing it every day, in every way. Also, I am fortunate to have many beautiful nieces and nephews. I give thanks always for this. They make my life so rich.


Interviewer: That’s wonderful. So, what do you do for fun?

Sam, shrugging: I’m not so great at fun. I work out pretty hard. I enjoy day trading, when I feel like nerding out. And I try to annoy my father on a regular basis.

Sveti, incredulous: Really? You deliberately distress your own father? For entertainment? That is so disrespectful.

Sam: You've never met my father. He gives good sport. I can’t resist. So, your turn, Sveti. What's fun for you? Flinging yourself in front of the soybean farmers’ bulldozers in the rainforest? Lying down in front of the rolling tanks of totalitarian assholes, sacrificing yourself for the cause?

Sveti: Do you think that am stupid, Sam?

Sam: Absolutely not. Half-crazy, yes. Stupid, no.


Interviewer, holding up her hands: Whoa! Time-out, time-out! Let’s go on to the next question. What’s your greatest personal failing? (She looks at Sam.) You go first.

Sam, rolling his eyes: I have so many. How can I pick among them?

Sveti: I will help. How about arrogance? Being a know-it-all? Sticking in your nose when it is not needed or wanted? Sharing unsolicited opinions? Stalking? Man-handling?

Sam, blinking: Whoa, harsh!

Sveti, huffing: You deserved that.

Sam: Well, how about your greatest failings? Like feeling sorry for yourself, taking yourself too fucking seriously every minute of every day, refusing to take a joke even if it kills you, and being dishonest about your true feelings? Any of those ring true?

Sveti: What the hell do you know about my true feelings?

Sam: Quite a bit. More than you probably know.

Sveti, jumping to her feet: Piss off, Sam. Delilah, I am sorry. This interview went completely to shit. And I’m so sorry, but I just can't have lunch today. I have to go and, ah, lie down in front of a bulldozer or a tank somewhere, I think. Whatever I run into first.


Interviewer, confused as Sveti storms out: Sveti? Sveti, don’t…what? What in the actual hell?

Sam, sighing: You got too close and set off the alarm system. Happens to me every time I talk to her.


Interviewer: You were the one who set it off, not me! You were rude and invasive!

Sam: Yeah. I know. I turn into a raging dick with that woman. She’s just special that way. (gets up) Please excuse me. I have to run out and make sure she doesn’t do something dangerous out of pure spite. Gotta run. Later.


Interviewer, staring at the door as Sam disappears: Wait! Hold on! What just happened?


If you want to know what happens the next time Sam and Sveti get together, be sure to grab a copy of In For The Kill, available on February 28, 2023! And if you’re curious about what went down in Miles and Lara’s wild story, try Fatal Strike, also out on February 28!

 And my thanks to Fresh Fiction for posting Delilah’s interview. Poor Delilah…it certainly did not go as planned…

IN FOR THE KILL by Shannon McKenna

The McClouds & Friends #11

In for the Kill

He can’t keep his distance…

Ex-cop Sam Petrie had been warned. He knew that getting involved with the McCloud brothers’ affairs would run his life right over a cliff. But one look at the fearless, beautiful young trouble magnet, Svetlana Ardova, the McCloud clan’s precious protégé, just drove that sage advice right out of his mind. Now, with his police detective career derailed, he finds that Sveti is putting herself in the crosshairs once again, on a potentially deadly trip to Italy. So he offers himself up as her bodyguard. What could possibly go wrong?

She’s afraid to be touched…

Sveti’s trauma runs deep. Rescued by the McClouds and their friends from ruthless organ pirates, her tireless crusade against human trafficking has made her a target for criminal scum around the world, but it doesn’t faze her, since she doesn’t really fear death. The only thing that does faze her is Sam Petrie. The smoldering hunger in his dark gaze makes her feel vulnerable, naked. Incredibly alive.

Then a fresh attack against her sends Sam into hyper-protective mode. In that forced proximity, Sam and Sveti can’t resist the blistering heat that flares between them. But now they’re moving in on an explosive secret—one that could either redeem them or destroy them…and their lethal opponent will not rest until Sveti is silenced forever…


Romance Suspense | Romance Contemporary [Oliver-Heber Books, On Sale: February 28, 2023, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, / ]

Buy IN FOR THE KILLAmazon.com | Kindle | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

About Shannon McKenna

Shannon McKenna

Shannon McKenna is the NYT bestselling author of seventeen action packed, turbocharged romantic thrillers, among which are the stories of the wildly popular McCloud series and the brand new romantic suspense series, The Obsidian Files. She loves tough and heroic alpha males, heroines with the brains and guts to match them, villains who challenge them to their utmost, adventure, scorching sensuality, and most of all, the redemptive power of true love. Since she was small she has loved abandoning herself to the magic of a good book, and her fond childhood fantasy was that writing would be just like that, but with the added benefit of being able to take credit for the story at the end. Alas, the alchemy of writing turned out to be messier than she'd ever dreamed. But what the hell, she loves it anyway, and hopes that readers enjoy the results of her alchemical experiments.

Obsidian Files | Mccloud






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