USA Today Bestselling Author
A voice from the past cries out for help and Corey finds himself reunited with the only woman who’d ever rocked his world straight off the axis. But twelve years is a long time apart. Both of them have moved on, but, tragically, Angela is no longer the lighthearted woman he once knew and loved.
Caught in a nasty divorce and custody battle, Angela will do anything to keep her son with her. After seven years of a rocky marriage, she’s only just beginning to figure out what kind of a man her husband truly is.
Angela makes it clear to Corey she doesn’t want or need his help. She’s got her own insurance to secure her case. But Corey is determined to shield his old flame anyway because she doesn’t seem to realize her “insurance” is more than likely to get her dead sooner rather than later. Given that Corey’s up against a man with no intention of letting his son go, it’s a race to see who ends up in a casket first.
No one is more surprised than Corey when he gets a call from his high school girlfriend. She asks to meet for lunch and Corey agrees. Once they settled in and ordered she decides she’s made a mistake and leaves, in spite of Corey’s efforts to get her to stay and talk.
Angela thinks she’s made a mistake going to Corey, they have a lot of history between them and with her current problem it didn’t seem right.
Now Corey’s interest is peaked and he finally gets in touch with his sister who informs him Angela is missing.
It wasn’t hard to get Mason to help and he agreed Warrick could join him as back up. Finding Angela becomes a priority when they find her apartment had been broken into and trashed.
Not surprising, Corey’s sister had the answers he needed to find her and some revelations about Angela’s situation. Corey had no idea she had married and had a child, and her circumstances now stem from her soon to be ex.
Angela has somewhat settled in her Aunt’s lakeside cabin. Forewarned that Corey and Warren were coming to help her, she isn’t surprised when they show up although she wasn’t sure what they could do for her.
This is a favorite scene.
Almost as instantly as her temper had flared, it just as quickly dropped off. “Okay, so I haven’t done all that well on my own,” she said in frustration. “But that doesn’t mean I can’t walk around a little.”
He held out an elbow. “Hook your arm through mine, and we’ll walk together.”
She did so, feeling strange. It was how they always used to walk together. During class, after class, the two of them, alone against the world. She shook her head, trying to shrug off the memories.
“You feel it too, don’t you?”
“I don’t feel anything,” she said quietly. “It was a long time ago.”
“It was. And we’ve both grown up. I’m delighted you’ve gone on to have a family. Never happened for me. And for that I was always very sad.”
“You’re still young. It’s not like you can’t have that family.”
“True enough. But I haven’t met the right woman yet.”
They wandered around the property as if searching for whatever she’d heard. But she’d long ago given up worrying about it. She could see his gaze going from tree to tree, searching, peering, looking for whatever it was that might have disturbed her. Finally she came to a stop, looked around and said, “It couldn’t have been this far away, I wouldn’t have heard it.”
“Maybe not.” He turned and led her back toward the cabin. “But I don’t want you going anywhere alone anymore.”
“And yet you let me go down to the dock on my own,”
“Not really. You went, but I was on the deck watching you.”
“You didn’t see anything?”
“No, I didn’t. I did hear a couple things, but one was a rabbit moving in the underbrush, and the other was a doe at the edge of the clearing.” “As long as it’s not armed two-legged animals, I don’t care.”
He squeezed her arm a little closer against his body and nodded. “At least the four-legged ones have a reason for doing what they’re doing. The two-legged ones, sometimes they’re just hard to understand.”
Silence stood between them for a time.
Out of the blue he asked, “Were you at least happy for some of those years you were with him?”
“Yes. At the beginning. But apparently I didn’t really understand who I was back then. I would never have thought I was naive or ignorant. It’s almost like he took who and what I was and shaped me the way he wanted me to be.”
“Was he unhappy with the result?”
She winced. “Ouch.” He glanced at her sideways.
“It’s not a criticism of you. But if he made you the way he wanted you, and then was happy to discard you …”
“Still, it’s an ouch when you put it that way. Nobody wants to think of themselves as being discarded.”
“No. In this case, set free might be a better phrase. You’re obviously not living life to the fullest, so this is a perfect opportunity to make some major changes.”
She nodded. “Doesn’t mean I was ready for that change though.”
“See? That’s the thing. Changes like that, those we don’t have a choice about as to when or how, it’s all about adapting.”
Back at the cabin he took her into the living room. Warrick was on the phone. Too bad. They should have stayed out a little longer. She hated knowing everyone was making arrangements and gathering information but not necessarily sharing.
However, as soon as they stepped in, Warrick stopped the conversation. He smiled up at Angela and said, “Do you feel better now?” He studied her face. “You look better. A little calmer, a little more at ease.”
“Not sure why I should be. I kept hearing sounds outside. Every time I did, I was thinking there was an intruder following me.”
“And you should keep that thought foremost in your mind. It will help keep you safer.”
“How does that work? I was down there at the end of the dock. I don’t have any weapons or self-defense skills. I’m coming to realize I was more of a trophy wife than anything, I have few useful skills and even less life skills,” she said with the hint of bitterness entering her voice.
“I wouldn’t worry about it. You have the rest of your life to be whoever and whatever you want to be. Having made some decisions, you’re less unhappy with who you are now as you see yourself a little clearer. You’ll make better decisions from now on. But you still need to go easy on yourself. This transition will take time.”
“Are you always so optimistic?” she asked, sitting down beside Warrick.
“No, not always. But it’s part of my nature.”
Mayer, Dale. SEALs of Honor: Books 14-16 . Valley Publishing Ltd. Kindle Locations (5829-5864). Kindle Edition.
There is a lot going on in this book, between the photos Angela copied, the fight to get her son back, and of course the attraction she has with Corey.
Warren was a steady force in this one as well. Even though he was dealing with his recent break-up. He’s the one who recognized the ‘Keeper’ aspect of the interactions between Corey and Angela.
I loved the slow build to the relationship in the middle of the emotions and angst of the investigation. The love and support of Corey truly helps her keep it together as her almost ex turns up the heat.
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.