USA Today Bestselling Author
Only one thing mattered…
making his security and investigation business a success. Lighthouse Security Investigation West Coast.
Carson Dyer spent years creating his business, partnering with a former Special Forces leader who owns the original LSI. Determined to make it as successful as possible, he gives one hundred percent to the effort.
No distractions. No way. Not him. Until her.
Jeannie Carnes. Former military nurse. Burned-out ER nurse. Volunteer Red Cross nurse. And she lands in the middle of an LSI- WC investigation of a cartel drug lord.
She wants answers. He wants her safe. Will either of them get what they want? Only if they give in to what they need… each other.
In this first book of the West Coast Keepers, we get to know Carson Dyer. He’s the head of LSI-WC and is out to prove his company can handle the special operations required by the FBI and DEA. He’s assembled an eight-man team of former spec ops, Richard Rankin, Lionel Parker, Jeb Torres, Adam Calvin, Frederick Poole, Terrance Bennett, Jonathan Dolby and Hop, call sign for Frank Hopkins, is their pilot. At his lighthouse he has Rachel Moore their administrative assistant and Theodore ‘Teddy’ Bearski their weapons and equipment manager. We’ll get to see all of these folks in this book and I’m sure the rest of the series as well.
This first mission is to set up surveillance on the Garza Wineries in Mexico. It’s while on this mission that Carson first sees Jeanne Carnes. She’s been hired as a nurse to one of the Garza’s mother-in-law.
Carson is of a single mind set to make LSI-WC successful in all ways, he’s obsessed with perfection. He’s having difficulty coming to terms with the fact he can’t get Jeanne out of his mind, even though they’ve never actually met.
Burned out at her ER job, Jeanne had taken a six month Red cross tour in Mexico to figure out where she wants her life and career to go. It’s there that Garza’s asked for her to be the nurse for Maggie Collins while she’s recuperating from a fall. The Red Cross administrator, Dr. Cortez encourages her to take the position and consider it a vacation.
Maggie is also an American and her niece, Cheryl is married to Vincent Garza who runs the winery in California. The winery here in Mexico is run by Vincent’s brother Alonzo. With all the opulence Maggie also wonders if all their money comes from the vineyards, it seems like they never have the issues other wineries do.
Once back in the states, Jeanne visits Maggie at the vineyard where she’s staying until she’s able to move to her condo. Fortunately, that would be soon, but Vincent’s son Juan had learned of Maggie and Jeanne’s conversation about the winery’s finances and wants to keep an eye on Maggie. He plans to drug her a bit to make her feel ill so she stays on. This occurrence is what has Carter and Jeanne meeting.
Carter and his team are doing some additional surveillance at the California Winery, having to do with the trucks coming and going. Then a car shows up and the intruder turns out to be Jeanne.
This is a favorite scene.
Staring at his features, she searched her memory but came up blank. This man knew her name. This man, who wore military-grade tactical gear, tackled her and immobilized her with ease, then appeared to rescue her from either an unknown threat or her own folly, knew her name. And she had no idea who he was.
Clearing her throat, she continued to hold his gaze as she said, “Before I give you any answers, I want to know who you are and how you know me.”
He sat immobile, and just when she thought he wasn’t going to answer, he shifted his tall body and slid his hand into his front pants pocket, no easy feat considering his legs were long and her car was tiny. Pulling out identification, he held it out to her. “Carson Dyer. Private investigator. Owner of a security and investigations firm.” His words were clipped, continuing to expose his irritation.
In the dim light, she reached out and took his identification, studying it as she looked back up at his face. Licking her lips, she nodded. “Okay, Mr. Dyer. How do you know my name?”
Once again, he sat immobile, and she wasn’t sure he was going to give up the information. Finally, he said, “You came across my radar during an investigation.”
She gasped, stunned at his response. “You’re investigating me?”
Carson’s jaw tightened. “I wasn’t investigating you.”
It appeared he wasn’t going to say anything else, but as her fear ebbed, she began sorting through what little information was given to her and understanding dawned. “Oh…” The air slipped from her lungs in a long whoosh. “You’re investigating the Garza winery.” His face gave nothing away, not even the slightest twitch or hint that her words hit home. But she knew she was right. It was the only explanation that made sense. “You’re looking to see if anything is going on there that shouldn’t be. I’m right, aren’t I?”
“We’re not sitting here because of what I’m doing. We’re sitting here because of your foolishness,” he bit out, throwing out another searing glare. “Why were you there tonight, sneaking around?”
She wanted to deny she was sneaking around, but to do so would only make her look more foolish than he already thought. Not that I care what he thinks about me. She started to speak, but her voice failed her. Clearing her throat, she began again. “I wanted to go visit somebody.”
He barked out a laugh. “Visit somebody? In the dark? Sneaking across the lawn? Is that normally how you check in on people?” Before she had a chance to respond, his eyes widened slightly, and he nodded slowly. “Maggie Collins. You went to visit Maggie Collins.” He cocked his head to the side. “She’s still there.”
His statement almost sounded like a question. Licking her lips, she said, “It seems as though you’re surprised. I’ll bet that’s something that doesn’t happen often.” The air inside her small car grew thicker and yet electrified as though bolts of lightning were ready to shoot between heavy clouds. No longer afraid of him, she knew her tone was just as snippy as his had been.
“Maggie Collins is not my concern,” he conceded.
Their gazes still had not wavered, and she felt a tingling of interest at their sparring. “Since you weren’t investigating Maggie, she wouldn’t be on your radar. But the Garzas are.”
“What were you doing there at night? And don’t give me any bullshit about visiting Maggie.”
Now it was her turn to pinch her lips together. “I’m concerned about her.”
His head cocked slightly to the side. “Why?”
“I… I’m not sure. She was fine. I was supposed to visit today, but then she called and told me that she wasn’t well. It just felt… wrong.”
She shot a glare toward him through narrowed eyes. “Don’t mock my intuition.”
The corner of his lips quirked upward ever so slightly. If she hadn’t been so focused on his face, she would have missed the expression.
He nodded slowly. “I’m not mocking your intuition. Former Army. ER nurse at a major inner-city hospital. Red Cross nurse. Believe me, I have no doubt that your intuition is finely honed.”
The air rushed from her lungs as incredulity warred with the realization that he’d given her a compliment. Deciding to go with incredulity, she said, “I didn’t think that you were investigating me, but it sounds suspiciously like you looked into me. You really have done your homework, haven’t you? And more importantly, why?”
“In my line of work, doing my homework is what sometimes keeps me alive.”
“Before I tell you what I know, answer this,” she pressed, feeling more bold. “Did I get caught up in whatever you’re looking into because I was with the Garzas in Mexico?”
He held her gaze for a long moment, and she wasn’t sure he was going to reply. Finally, he nodded slowly. “Yes.”
She wanted more from him, but he’d answered her question, and she wasn’t going to go back on her word. “I was here yesterday to visit Maggie. She was fine, and we had plans to get together today. I received a message from her that said that she couldn’t meet with me and that she didn’t feel well. As a nurse, I was shocked that something had happened that caused her health to be such that she needed to continue to stay with her niece, especially since she’d been so anxious to return to her own home. The housemaid got on the phone to tell me not to come over and I haven’t had a good feeling about that woman since meeting her. As Maggie’s friend, I was curious as to why a housemaid got on her phone and wouldn’t let me speak to her, essentially telling me that I needed to leave her alone.”
“And your intelligence told you that none of that made sense.”
She realized he hadn’t asked the question, but instead, had simply made a statement confirming his acceptance of her intelligence. She nodded, saying, “Yes.”
“So, what made a woman of your experience and intelligence do something so foolhardy as to try to sneak onto the estate?”
She sighed, her shoulders slumping. “I didn’t have a plan other than I wanted to just come and see if I could talk my way past the guard into letting someone give me access to see her. By the time I got here, it was already dark and I was confused as to what guardhouse I should go to. I got lost on the estate the other day and that was in the daylight. Then, I thought it might be easier if I could park and sneak over to the guesthouse to see for myself that she was okay.”
He opened his mouth, but she snapped her hand up, palm forward. “I know, I know, you don’t have to tell me. It was not well-thought-out. I was just… worried about her.”
His gaze was still intense, but she could have sworn something warm moved through his eyes. Suddenly, he shifted forward in his seat again and restarted her car’s engine. Tapping his radio, he said, “Intruder identified. Jeannie Carnes. We’re in her vehicle. Taking her home. Complete mission and pick me up.”
Without speaking to her, he pulled back onto the road, heading south toward Los Angeles. “I was going to ask how you knew where I lived, but I suppose that question would be ridiculous.” He gave no reaction nor spoke. Swallowing down her irritation, she knew he’d been right. If she’d been caught by Garza’s men, they might not have given her a chance to ask to speak to the Garzas or plead her case to see Maggie. A sigh escaped her lips as she looked out the window. “I feel certain that taking me to my apartment is going out of your way, Mr. Dyer. There’s no reason for that. We can stop somewhere convenient and let your coworkers pick you up. I’m perfectly fine to drive back to my place by myself.”
He kept driving.
“I’m not going back to their place if that’s what you’re concerned about.”
His gaze cut toward her before returning to the highway in front of them. “I know you’re not.”
“You do? If so, then why are you insisting on taking me home?”
“I know you’re not going back because you’ve already analyzed what you were doing and realized it wasn’t the smart play. You’re not the kind of person to repeat a mistake.”
Her chin jerked slightly, and she twisted while still buckled to face him more fully. “You have the strangest way of offering a compliment wrapped in a rather incredulous statement!”
His lips quirked upward again. At least, she thought they did. The movement occurred so quickly, and his face was only illuminated by the lights from the dashboard or oncoming cars. She felt certain he’d almost smiled and couldn’t explain why that simple action gave her pleasure.
As it seemed he was not going to suddenly become chatty, she leaned her head against the headrest and closed her eyes, allowing the lulling movement of the car and her exhaustion to pull her under.
Maryann Jordan. Carson (Kindle Locations 872-941).
From this point on things heat up quickly in more ways than one.
Poor Carson has no idea what’s come over him but all his co-workers do. Rachel in particular has plenty to say to him. Jeanne is just as confused but she also needs to make decisions about her future employment.
I loved all the action and suspense as Jeanne and Carson figure out their relationship.
5 Contented Purrs for Maryann!
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I have always been an avid reader. My early memories were of my mother taking me to the library and allowing me to check out as many books as I could carry. My favorite books were checked out numerous times and read over and over. I would use my Barbie dolls to play out the scenes in books (such as Nancy Drew!).
I have written as a hobby for many years (probably since childhood). I have written devotionals, autobiographical writings about having a severely handicapped, medically fragile child, about my mother’s Alzheimer’s, and other subjects that interest me.
I joke that I “cut my romance teeth” on the old historical romance books. In 2013, I started a blog to showcase wonderful writers. In 2014, I finally gave in to the characters in my head pleading for their story to be told. Thus, Emma’s Home was created.
I worked as a counselor in a high school and was involved in education for the past 30 years, until retiring in 2015. I have been married to a wonderfully patient man for 35 years and have 2 adult, very supportive daughters. When writing, my dog or one of my cats will usually be found in my lap!