USA Today Bestselling Author
Nelson’s early morning meeting at the docks with Elizabeth Etchings offers only bad news. Her brother—and Nelson’s old friend—has gone missing on his days off while his ship was docked in Ensenada. A trip to where he’d last been seen shows the local color … and reveals Nelson’s friend has gotten into bigger trouble than anyone could imagine.
Elizabeth might have had a hand in now sending two men to Baja to look for her brother, but she will not stay behind. Her brother is in danger … and he’s the only family she has left.
It doesn’t take long for Nelson to realize that Elizabeth has caught the eye of someone who rules that corner of the world. She’s now in jeopardy too—possibly more than her brother. Keeping her safe moves up Nelson’s priority list.
Until both issues merge, and everything goes south …
I am still catching up on this series and I really wish I was already. There are some references to folks I haven’t gotten to know yet but I soon will.
Nelson is very surprised when the woman giving the seminar asks to see him before hand. Mason delivers this message and when the time arrives, Nelson is still a bit confused.
When Elizabeth Etchings introduces herself and tells him he knows her brother, he doesn’t recognize the name that is until she gives his nickname Skunk. Then she explains he’s missing and why she needs his help.
With Mason there it was easier to get permission to begin this search and also get a partner to assist.
Of course things go a bit haywire right away when Elizabeth shows up in Mexico, much to their surprise.
This is a favorite scene.
She saw the surprise in his eyes. “Why the surprise? Or did you think I was wrong to put my trust in them in the first place? Or did you not realize what they said about Chris?”
“I realized it,” he said smoothly. “I’m just surprised they said anything to you about that. Normally that’s not good PR to tell anybody, particularly family members.”
“What it did was make me angry,” she said. “Now I’ve got you two helping.” She looked over at the stranger beside him and frowned. “I got you two for four days to look for my brother. But no way I’m being left out of the loop. If NCIS couldn’t find out anything in seven days, the two of you will need a hell of a lot more help to find out anything in four days. So I’m here.”
“Now that’s insulting.” Nelson sighed. He squared his shoulders, then sagged. “Look. I understand why you want to be here, but this is hardly the area for you.”
“I’m in a hotel on this block,” she said shortly. “So whether it’s where I belong or not, my brother doesn’t deserve to be ignored. If we find out he’s dead in the river, then I’ll deal with it. What I don’t want to deal with is to find out he’s been kidnapped and being tortured or any other horrific concepts.”
“Aren’t you maybe exaggerating a bit?” the second man asked.
She glared at him. “What’s your name?”
He reached out for her hand and said, “I’m Taylor.”
She shook his hand. “No, Taylor, I’m not. My brother has always been a bit of a partier. He’s always been a bit of a ladies’ man. And he hasn’t always been too fussy about exactly where he found his entertainment. A part of me has always half expected him to end up in a back alley, shot by a jealous husband. But, since he went into the navy, he’s a completely different person. He’s proud of who he is. He loves being who he is. He would not have walked away on his own.”
Nelson grabbed her hand and said in a very low tone, “No, you stop right there. Because all kinds of circumstances might very well have caused him to walk away on his own.”
She turned that glare on him. She wanted to rage at him for taking that tack. He should back Chris up. He was her brother’s friend … But clearly he wouldn’t budge on this, interrupting her as she opened her mouth.
“You need to understand that shit happens sometime. Often without our having done anything to make it happen. If Skunk saw something, and he thinks he’ll get blamed for it, he might have run. If he saw something, and he knows he can’t fight it, he might have run. If he saw something, and he was threatened, he might have run.”
“He wasn’t spineless,” she snapped.
“What if you were threatened?” Nelson asked in a hard, low voice. “As you said, he’s your only family. Anybody who wanted to make him do something could easily have applied pressure on him by saying you would be the first one they took out if he didn’t do what they wanted him to do. If he thought getting away and getting out from under them was the only answer, he’d have done it. But he’d have done anything he could to keep you safe.”
She sat back. Of course Nelson was right. How could she not have considered this? Because she’d been so sure she was right, … that she knew her brother. But she hadn’t considered the circumstances that might have surrounded him. Like she was doing, he’d do anything to keep her safe. Her heart heavy, she slumped into the chair.
Just then a waitress came by and asked in a mix of Spanish and English, “Buenas noches. Do you want a beer too?” S
he looked over at the men’s mugs of beer and nodded. “Yes, please.” When it arrived, she took a long slug, downing one-third of it.
The men looked at her with respect.
She wiped the foam mustache off her lip. “Okay, so then where do we start?”
“You don’t start anywhere,” Nelson said. “We have already started.”
She brightened. “What have you learned?”
He just gave her a flat stare.
She frowned and leaned forward. “You can’t get rid of me that easily. That’s not who I am. You also need to remember that I’d do anything to help my brother. So don’t try to chase me off with any kind of excuse. And don’t say, Just go home and wait.”
Nelson sighed. “But that’s what you need to do. We have things set up. We have a relay system back home. We have connections. We’ll let you know if we find out anything.”
She lifted her beer mug, had a second sip and put it down. Then she pulled out the hotel’s business card she’d picked up and wrote her room number on the back with her cell phone number and slid it across to Nelson. “You’ll do better than that. You’ll tell me before you go to bed tonight exactly what the hell happened here. I get this isn’t the time or place, but no way you’re walking away without letting me know how much you’ve learned.”
And, with that, she picked up her mug, tossed back the contents, pulled out some money to cover it, threw it on the table and walked out.
Dale Mayer. Nelson (Kindle Locations 236-276). Valley Publishing.
Investigations can be long and arduous, but they have little time to figure everything out.
I loved the way this progressed in a slow and twisted manner. Elizabeth and Nelson have some chemistry that Taylor picks up on almost immediately. That was a shock to Nelson and just added to the fun stuff.
Plenty of action, tension, suspense and just enough heat!
I can’t wait to read Taylor’s story it appears he may be next! In the meantime I am going to catch up on the rest of this series.
5 Contented Purrs for Dale!
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Dale Mayer is a USA Today bestselling author best known for her Psychic Visions and Family Blood Ties series. Her contemporary romances are raw and full of passion and emotion (Second Chances, SKIN), her thrillers will keep you guessing (By Death series), and her romantic comedies will keep you giggling (It’s a Dog’s Life and Charmin Marvin Romantic Comedy series).
She honors the stories that come to her – and some of them are crazy and break all the rules and cross multiple genres!
To go with her fiction, she also writes nonfiction in many different fields with books available on resume writing, companion gardening and the US mortgage system. She has recently published her Career Essentials Series. All her books are available in print and ebook format.