USA Today Bestselling Author
Bullard’s barely aware of his surroundings, as he slowly emerges from a coma and months of slow healing. He recognizes the general area but not the facilities or the woman attending him. Neither does he remember exactly what happened.
Leia, a gifted surgeon in her own right, hadn’t expected this giant of a man to wash up in the shallows by her beach, nor to call on every trick she’s ever learned to keep him alive. Her instincts tell her to take a leave, to keep him hidden, even as she struggles to answer his questions. The longer he’s with her, the more she realizes how hard it could be to let him go. But he has turned the corner and is healing quickly.
Only the real world intrudes faster than expected, as one of Bullard’s team shows up on her beach, bringing others, who’d been watching and waiting for the team to find Bullard for them—and now swoop in for the kill …
If you are following this series you know that Dave is checking on reports of unidentified men to find Bullard dead or alive. He’s on his way to a really good possibility on a push from Terkel. Unfortunately Quinn has also gotten a message from the boss who’s been leading them on a wild goose chase around the world. He knows too.
This book opens showing Bullard waking although still a bit foggy and his memory isn’t what it should be. Leia won’t fill in details, she knows only time can bring things back. She’s done the nearly impossible in keeping him alive, that he’s healing so well is a tribute to her ability.
As Bullard gains his strength and memory, his feelings for Leia also increase. When he returns to his world he wants her with him. Leia has secrets too, some that she really doesn’t want to come out.
Leia obliges his request for a phone and the first person he calls is Dave. This is a favorite scene.
“Once you go back to your real world,” she said, “I’ll be a blip on your radar. Just something that happened, and, sure, you’ll remember, but soon it’ll be a distant memory.”
“I don’t want you to be a distant memory,” he said roughly.
“That’s what you say right now,” she said, “but, once you get back to that world, it will be completely different.”
“Maybe,” he said, “but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for you in it.”
“I’m not sure there is though,” she said, “because I don’t know that I could handle it.”
“If you want to get back to your medicine,” he said, “I do have a full-on clinic, with all the equipment you could ever want.”
She frowned. “But I’m not licensed to practice in Africa.”
“And I’m sure we could make that happen, if you wanted it to.”
“I’m not sure I do,” she said. “That was part of the world I walked away from.”
“But you don’t have to keep walking away from it.”
“Maybe,” she said, “but I’m not sure I’m ready for that kind of change.” He frowned. “No,” she said. “Listen. My reasons are sound, and I’m just not sure I want to give people a chance to get back at me again.”
“All you’re doing is making it so I’ll have no choice but to look into what happened to you,” he said. “It’d be easier if you just told me.”
“Maybe, but I don’t know that I want to,” she said, pulling away from him. “I’m going for a walk. Please don’t follow me.” With that, she turned and walked away from him.
He stared after her in frustration, trying to figure out what had happened to her. The thought that her medical skills weren’t being utilized horrified him, since he came from a world where there were not nearly enough people with those skills. Those they had were worth their weight in gold. He knew people changed careers all the time, finding they didn’t have the temperament for the type of work they were doing or something else, but, in her case, she had been hurt. He just didn’t know why.
Just then Paolo returned, walking up and handing over a cell phone. He smiled at the newcomer, and Paolo said, “He had it. I had asked him to get it, but I didn’t ask him if he’d gotten it before I brought the fish.” He shrugged, then, with a big grin and a wave of his hand, he disappeared into the trees.
Bullard wondered how that worked. Was it all so nice and simple here on the island? Were people really that trusting? Part of him looked at the phone, wondering if it was being tracked. Were they that sensitive to life? Did they understand what was going on in the greater world, or were they innocent of the ways of deceit? Then again, they weren’t innocent to the ways of money because that’s what made the world go around. They may not have the same need for it that other people did, but most cultures didn’t turn down money when it was offered.
And people would pay if Paolo had something they wanted, such as knowledge of Bullard’s whereabouts. That could be both good and bad because his own team was likely looking for him as well. At least he sure as hell hoped so. He had to hold on to the faith that what was happening was the fight between good and evil, and, as always, he would win that war. It was pretty damn hard to even consider that it wasn’t an option.
He looked again at the cell phone, but his instincts prodded him to quickly take off the back and to look for anything added to it. But, no, it was all clear. He sighed with relief at that. He sat down and noted it had a battery, with prepaid minutes. He didn’t have a clue how many he had or what the charges would be. He also didn’t know how a cell package out here worked or even where the service came from. Thailand maybe. Thinking about the various phone numbers he could call, and knowing that it was important to calculate in time zones, he sat here for a long moment, considering who to call.
Then he started to dial Dave. Just as he was about to punch in the last digit, he froze, realizing that connecting this call would change everything. He looked back in the direction where Leia had disappeared and knew how much change would happen in her world because of this call. He frowned, looking down at the number, and slowly let his finger off the last digit. Was he ready for that? He was stronger, and he was certainly to the point where he could leave. What would he say to the rest of the world out there waiting for him, if he didn’t go back now? Questions would be asked, like why had he held off letting them know where he was and that he was alive, recuperating, and would return as soon as he could. Knowing he couldn’t delay this, he quickly redialed, and, when a voice came on the other end, he spoke. “Dave?”
“Yes, who is this?”
After a moment of shocked silence on the other end of the phone, then a roar ripped through it. “Bullard? Dear God, where are you?” he said, breathless. “I’m coming to get you right now.”
“I’m not exactly sure where I am, but I am alive and getting better,” he said. “Recovery has been rough. My memory is finally coming back. I just got my hands on a cell phone now too,” he added. “I’m on one of the smaller islands somewhere in the South Pacific.”
“I’m out here too,” Dave said, excitement and relief in his voice. “My God, after all this time …” He paused. “I’ve been going from place to place, looking for any man who had been picked up out of the water,” he said. “I had one more I was checking on, and I just hadn’t gotten there yet. We were trying to lock down a better location for him.”
“Well, it’s probably me,” he said, with a note of humor.
“I’m coming,” he said. “Can anybody there give me any directions?” As Bullard turned around, he saw Leia standing there, her bottom lip trembling. Immediately he closed his eyes and said, “I’ll get back to you on that. Just know that I’m getting better and that I’m alive. Hey, I still don’t know what happened, do you?”
“There’s a hell of a lot to fill you in on,” Dave said, his tone deep and dark. “Don’t presume that you’re safe even now. Most of the team has been hit as they’ve been chasing leads, trying to figure out what the hell is going on and what happened to you.”
“Well, nobody made it here.”
“No, the team has focused their energies on trying to figure out who was trying to take you out in the first place,” he said. “I’m the one who’s been tracking you down.”
“Ryland and Garret?”
“They’re both alive,” Dave rushed to assure him. “They were also badly hurt in the plane crash, but they’re alive.”
“Thank God for that,” Bullard said, pinching the bridge of his nose. “You can’t understand how good it is to hear your voice and to know those boys are okay. The team means a lot to me.”
“And you to them,” Dave said. “You’re sure nobody there can give me information to help me find you?”
Leia must have overheard because she stepped forward and held out her hand. He took a deep breath and spoke to her. “It’s Dave, my best man.”
His wording was strange to her, but she accepted it and spoke into the phone. “My name is Leia,” she said, “and we’re on one of the islands outside of Thailand.”
“Where exactly are you?” he asked. She gave him directions that gave Bullard a much better idea of where he was.
“Did you find and rescue him?” Dave asked.
She handed the phone back to Bullard, then turned and walked away, not answering Dave’s question.
“It’s me again, Dave,” Bullard said.
“I’ll be there tomorrow,” he said.
“Make it the day after,” Bullard said. “I have a little bit of healing to do here yet.”
“I still can’t believe it,” Dave said. “Jesus.”
“I feel the same way, man. It feels like I’m connected to the world again.”
“You are. I promise I’ll be there as soon as I can.” With that, he hung up.
Dale Mayer. Bullard’s Beauty (Kindle Locations 736-800). Valley Publishing.
Little does Bullard know the forces that originally caused the plane to go down are waiting in the shadows and make their move as soon as Dave arrives. Not on Bullard directly but they take Leia.
It becomes a race to not only find Leia but also uncover the identity of the person behind it all.
Full of suspense, secrets, intrigue and some sizzle, you won’t be able to put this book down.
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.