USA Today Bestselling Author
An assistant DA who’s sick of the men interfering in her cases.
And the WICKED WINEMAKER’S auction that changes everything…
My family started Ridge Winery, so I’m no stranger to getting what I want. But, I was shot down, turned down by a woman I thought was mine. That’s old news now, though. Water under the bridge. I’m not one to wallow or get discouraged, not my style, not my thing. This auction is everything I tried to avoid, and everything I needed. But, I’m determined to make the sassy DA see me in a new light. Let’s just see how WICKED it’s really going to get…
I don’t care how irresistible they are. The so-called good guys shouldn’t be butting into our cases. This isn’t a game of cops and robbers. This is real danger and real lives are on the line. But when it’s my life that hangs in the balance, there’s only one man I trust, one man who can save me. And believe me, he’d climb to the top of the RIDGE to protect me.
Seraphina Reeve is the assistant DA and her boss has assigned a task force to investigate the Los Caballeros. The thing is the task force consists of her, and there is no evidence whatsoever that the Los Caballeros even exist. Her boss also wants her to prosecute Brix Avila who is the supposed head of this secret society. Unable to reach Brix she arranges to meet Noah Ridge for breakfast. Now before she even gets there her mother informs her that her sister Louisa is missing. She wants to ask for help but makes the mistake of putting her job first and Noah just laughs and leaves.
Trying to contact Noah becomes an impossible feat, he won’t answer her calls, and no one’s talking. That is until she calls the sheriff, he tells her he’s at the winemaker’s ball. She quickly checks online for a ticket and gets ready for the ball. This could be an expensive way to get the help she needs. Ten thousand dollars later and she’s won Noah Ridge’s date. Only he’s not happy about it.
After a brief argument she agrees to go with him to talk about her sister’s disappearance.
This is a favorite scene.
It wasn’t until he took the turnoff for See Canyon Road that I asked again where we were going. “What are you going to do? Throw me off the mountainside?”
“Yep. You caught on. Rather than letting you drive away, I decided to murder you instead. Knock it off, Seraphina.”
I folded my arms and looked out at the moonlight on the ocean. I’d always loved this drive. When I was younger, before Luisa was born, my father would bring my mom and me here. Once we got to the top of the mountain, the views went as far north as Big Sur and south to Santa Barbara. I doubted there was a more beautiful place in all of California.
I was stunned when Ridge pulled off the road at the exact spot my father used to.
“I’d suggest we get out and walk, but there’s the thing about me murdering you to get past. Not to mention, it’s a little too cold for you to be out without a jacket.”
“My dad used to bring me here,” I said.
“He did? I didn’t realize you were from the area.”
“Lived here my whole life except for when I was at law school.”
I wasn’t surprised he hadn’t put two and two together with my name. Noah was three years older than I and far more popular. He was probably away at college when my dad lost his birthright. It was doubtful he would’ve known his father had purchased our family’s vineyards and winery operation.
“You said your sister is missing.”
I nodded, knowing if I tried to speak now, I’d wind up in tears again.
“Can you tell me what happened?” His voice was soothing, so unlike it had been at the ball.
I took a couple of deep breaths. “My mother called me the day I met you for breakfast. Not that we ate. Anyway, she asked if I’ve talked to Luisa recently, and when I said I haven’t, she told me my sister hasn’t been home for two days.”
“That was two days ago, so now she’s been missing four.”
“It is unusual for her to be out of contact for that length of time?”
“Very. Especially with me. Also, she’s about to graduate with a master’s degree from Cal Poly. My mother said she left her computer at home.”
“I’m guessing any attempts at reaching her have failed?”
“Have you been able to find anything on her computer? What about cell phone use? Bank account or social media activity? Do you know if she’s attended any of her classes?”
“None of the above. In fact, I went to the university, looking for her, and one of her professors told me she sent an email, stating she was leaving town and wouldn’t be finishing the semester.”
“Which doesn’t make sense if she’s about to graduate. How were her grades?”
“Summa cum laude.”
“So quitting with only a few weeks left isn’t be something she’d do.”
“No one has seen or heard from her since last week.”
“Does she have a boyfriend?”
I nodded. “His name is Jorge.”
“He hasn’t seen her, either?”
This was where it became difficult to explain. “She hasn’t been seeing him that long. Neither my mother nor I care much for him.”
“Have you been able to talk to him?”
“I only know his first name, and I have no idea where he lives.”
“Have you had her cell phone tracked?”
“I’d need a warrant.” He raised a brow.
“You haven’t been able to get one?”
“She’s twenty-three and has been missing four days. SLO PD is not exactly seeing this as a priority.”
“You couldn’t get one on your own?”
“The DA thinks I’m overreacting.”
The incredulous look on Noah’s face was the same one I’d had on mine yesterday when I approached my boss.
“I need to ask you something.”
I’d anticipated he would. The last time we talked, I’d threatened not just his best friend but the very people I was now seeking help from. “I swear I would not lie about my sister being missing in order to trick you into doing something that would jeopardize Los Caballeros— if it truly exists.”
He raised a brow and turned his head toward the ocean. “That wasn’t what I was going to ask.”
“I didn’t want you to think—”
“I wouldn’t have.”
“I’m sorry. What were you going to say?”
“Given your sister’s stellar academic career, this seems unlikely, but do you think there’s any chance the boyfriend could’ve talked her into going away?”
“I don’t think so, but she is twenty-three.”
“Like I said, it seems unlikely, just from the little you’ve told me about her.” He turned toward me. “You mentioned your mother hasn’t spoken with her. What about your father?”
“He died a few years ago.”
“I’m sorry for your loss.”
“Thank you.” I waited to see if my dad’s death would job his memory. It didn’t appear to.
“Tell me about the ten grand. You said you weren’t interested in the date.”
“It was a spur-of-the-moment decision.” Something occurred to me. “Oh my God, I’m such an idiot.”
“What are you talking about?”
“The money doesn’t go to you; it goes to the charity.” So essentially, I’d bid ten thousand dollars just to have a conversation with him. I felt sick to my stomach.
“Your plan was to use it to pay me to help you.”
I looked away.
“I’m going to help you, Seraphina. And even if you’d offered it to me, I wouldn’t have taken your money.”
“Am I helping you?”
“Because it’s what we do.”
“I don’t have much money left,” I said without looking at him.
“Again, we wouldn’t accept your money either way.” When Ridge covered my hand with his, I glanced over at him. “And I told you I’d cover the cost of your bid.”
I shook my head. “You don’t have to do that. You said you’d help me. That’s all I care about.”
“Which, if I’d returned your phone calls, wouldn’t have cost your savings.”
“I can’t let you.”
He shrugged. “I’m sure Alex will agree to it if I offer to double the contribution.”
“Why would you do that?”
He smiled. “I could let you believe I’m gallant. However, the truth is, I always donate twenty-five thousand to the foundation anyway.”
“Thank you, Noah.” My eyes filled with tears and I looked down at his hand resting on mine. I tried to move it away, but he held tighter.
“I promise we’ll find your sister.”
“How can you be so sure?” I whispered, hating to think what not finding her would mean.
Heather Slade. Ridge’s Release (Kindle Locations 390-393). Wicked Winemakers First Label Book Two.
Ridge immediately calls the available Los Caballeros; they meet and form a plan to find Luisa.
This becomes far more complicated, and along the way Ridge discovers he really likes Seraphina. They just have to figure out a few things. Well more than just a few.
There’s plenty of action, suspense and romance in this one. Including hints on the next book. I can’t wait!
5 Contented Purrs for Heather!
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USA Today and Amazon Top 15 Bestselling Author Heather Slade writes shamelessly sexy, edge-of-your seat romantic suspense.
She gave herself the gift of writing a book for her own birthday one year. Forty-plus books later (and counting), she’s having the time of her life. The women Slade writes are self-confident, strong, with wills of their own, and hearts as big as the Colorado sky. The men are sublimely sexy, seductive alphas who rise to the challenge of capturing the sweet soul of a woman whose heart they’ll hold in the palm of their hand forever. Add in a couple of neck-snapping twists and turns, a page-turning mystery, and a swoon-worthy HEA, and you’ll be holding one of her books in your hands.