Heroes Rising Prequel 2
USA Today Bestselling Author
The dark shadow still looms over the area…
Michaela (Micki) Schroeder hasn’t been home since she left for college. At fourteen she was one of the innocents raped by powerful men whose identity was concealed. Last year the former sheriff was arrested and convicted of killing the few girls who reported it, and the county prayed the nightmare was over. Now she’s back for the celebration of her father’s sixtieth birthday, right on the heels of the latest killing, long after the sheriff has been imprisoned. Once again the peaceful Crazy Mountains are invaded by savagery. Then her father is poisoned and once again Micki is sucked into a nightmare.
He thought being the sheriff of a quiet Montana county would be a break from the stress of combat…
Alex Rossi has retired from the SEALs after eight years and is looking to settle into peaceful civilian life. He thinks he’s found it when Scot Nolan introduces him to Hank Patterson, head of Brotherhood Protectors, who convinces him to take the newly open job of county sheriff. But he never expected his military training would be necessary to root out an evil still poisoning the county. First he finds the body of a young teenager, just like the young girls killed over the past two decades. A girl who had reported being raped just like the others. Then Micki Schroeder’s father drops dead at his birthday party and the coroner tells him the man was poisoned. At the same time he works hard to fight the intense attraction that has exploded between the two of them, especially when she has been afraid of sex all these years.
They were sure they’d gotten away with it all…
The former sheriff had kept his mouth shut when his cohorts threatened to harm his family, and taken the blame for everything. But with a new rape and murder, all the dark secrets are in danger of coming out. Is that why Bill Schroeder was killed? Can the men responsible commit two such high profile crimes and still keep their secret? As Micki and Alex search for answers, the intense attraction between them explodes. Will she take that first step to happiness?
When Alex Rossi agreed to take on the job of Sheriff in the small town in the Crazy Mountains he inherited a cold case that is both horrible and shocking in that it’s never been solved. Of course the former Sheriff was in on it but there are many who were never identified. Fate has supplied him with a victim and now he’s determined to solve this cold case once and for all.
Michaela (Micki) Schroeder hasn’t been home since she left for college. She’s only here because it’s her father’s sixtieth birthday and if she didn’t show there would be too many questions she doesn’t want to answer. She had been one of the victims at the age of fourteen and coming home is stirring up unwanted memories. She’s never said a word but her brother can see right through her and her anxiety is such that she hopes she can make it through the week without giving something away.
Alex is invited to the birthday gala and he meets Micki and her family beforehand. However it’s Hank that clues him into the fact she may have been a victim and this party could trigger dangerous memories for her.
The aftermath of Micki’s father collapsing at the party starts and even more in depth investigation and some interesting things come up in Alex’s conversation with Micki.
This is a favorite scene.
“Alex.” He said his name in a soft voice. “Please. Call me Alex. And yes, I see what you mean. It smacks of the arrogance of men who believe they can get away with anything. And I’m not saying your father was one of them, but, like you, my senses tell me there’s some kind of connection.”
She folded and unfolded the hem of her T-shirt, nearly undone by the look of caring in his eyes. She didn’t remember anyone ever looking at her like that. She’d seen pity. Sympathy. Disappointment, as if the few people who knew what happened thought it was somehow her fault. Sadness. But not that look of compassion she saw in Alex Rossi. It was nearly her undoing. For the first time in sixteen years, she felt tears clog the back of her throat and had to swallow hard against them.
“Are you okay to continue?” He started to reach for her hand then stopped , as if not sure it was okay to touch her.
Funny, because for the first time since she was fourteen, she actually wanted a man to touch her. Make skin-to-skin contact, and what was up with that? Was this man from another planet? To keep herself from reaching out for him, she began pleating the hem of her shirt again. Maybe once she got through this, the urge would go away, and she could return to the comfortable barrier of her fear regarding men.
“Micki?” he urged again.
She wet her lips. “Yes. I’m fine. I haven’t…said anything about this for a lot of years, and I don’t know if it has anything to do with my father’s death, but…” She forced herself to look at him. “But I guess it’s time to get it all out, in case it does. I mean, in case it somehow connects to me.” She drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly. “This is hard for me, Sheriff.”
“Take your time. I’m in no hurry.”
She knew that had to be a lie, with everything going on outside. But his assurance and the deep, mellow tone of his voice, helped her move forward. In halting sentences, she described for the first time what had happened all those years ago right in this house. In the very bedroom she was staying in right now.
She kept her eyes on her hands while she spoke, unable to look at Alex Rossi, afraid of what she’d see on his face. When she finally got it all out, with the feel of a burden being lifted at long last, she let out another breath and dared to look at him. She had expected pity, or even disgust, or … she didn’t know what. But the look in his eyes of caring and understanding stunned her. And something else. He looked at her as a woman, not a freak show like the men in her failed relationships had. A woman who had been through a terrible ordeal.
And behind all that was unexpected anger.
“You’re right. The fact we have two out-of-the-ordinary deaths so close together in a place that seldom sees anything like this would make anyone look for a connection. And let me say this.” His voice was like warm molasses flowing over her skin. “One way or another, I am going to find every man involved in this abominable little group and methodically destroy them. You can count on that.”
“First, you have to find out who they are,” she pointed out, her voice still a little shaky. “See if they’re part of his inner circle, if any of them killed my father, and why.”
He leaned forward, elbows on his thighs, and this time he did reach for one of her hands and enfold it in his.
“Micki, I’m not sure if you know this, but I was a SEAL for ten years. SEALs are the baddest of the bad special forces. We can find out things even hidden from God.”
He smiled as he said it, but she had no doubt he spoke the truth. Maybe that was why he was the first man in sixteen years who didn’t frighten or panic her. Who in fact made her insides tremble and not with fear. And wasn’t that a shock in the middle of all this.
Alex gave her hand a gentle squeeze before sitting back.
“So.” He paused. “Do you think Holly Martino’s murder was in some way the catalyst for what happened tonight?”
Micki shrugged. “I don’t know. All I can say is the two things happening so close together… I mean, it’s not as if things like this happen around here on a regular basis.” Then she shook her head. “But I’ve been thinking all these years there must be many other girls this happened to who didn’t tell anyone. They were too terrified, like I was. Especially after the courageous ones who gathered themselves to report what happened despite the threats to them. And then ended up dead.”
“What makes you think they’d come forward now? Especially after what happened to Holly.”
Micki looked directly at him. “Because I have the sick feeling my father’s ‘“death”‘ is tied to it in some way, and I think we’ve all been frightened long enough. And because a man who comes with Hank Patterson’s recommendation and who is a decorated SEAL knows how to keep us safe.”
She realized she meant every word of it. For the first time since she’d been thrown down on her bed and violated, she wasn’t afraid. Not that the danger wasn’t still out there, but Alex Rossi, despite being just one man, wore the aura of someone who, as he said, could handle it all.
“But how does that help you with tonight?” she asked. “What happened to me is old history. And where does my father fit into the picture? Did Holly Martino’s death ignite this? And why?”
“Not sure yet. Right now, I’m collecting information. It seems strange, though, that the only murder in this county in a year is a young girl who it turns out is the most recent victim in a string of heinous crimes going back years. And suddenly, while I’m investigating it, your father drops dead at a party.”
“You think my father was involved?”
Oh, please, god, no.
But Alex shrugged. “I’m not ruling anything out right now. Like I said, right now I’m gathering information.”
“I don’t know if anything I said helped or not”
“Everything helps,” he assured her. “I just have to figure out how.” He pushed himself up from his seat. “I need to get back outside and see where we are. What my detectives have come up with. All those people are probably ready to lynch me for making them hang around.”
He gave a soft laugh. “You don’t have much use for them, do you.”
She shook her head. “Why should I? These people are all so self-centered and focused on their money and power. I’m sure my parents love me—and Jason—but my father’s business and political worlds always came first, and my mother lives her life by what other people think of her. But I do want to know how he died. And if someone killed him, why? If that was the reason.” She looked up at Alex, who had such compassion in his eyes she wanted to cry. “Do you think he found out about me and was driven to expose everyone because of it?”
He shrugged. “It’s a definite possibility. But wouldn’t he have approached you first? Maybe be devastated that his little game, if he was part of it, had hit too close to home? I’m guessing, but I’d expect there was an unwritten rule they never touched each other’s families.”
She felt ill, nausea gripping her at the thought her father not only might have known who her rapist was, but himself been part of their evil little game. She swallowed hard, hoping she ’wouldn’t vomit in front of Alex Cross
“It frightens me to even think that,” she told him, “but I guess with what happened tonight, we have to look at everything.”
“I wish that wasn’t so, but it’s highly unlikely that two murders so close together, in a place that almost never sees them, would be unrelated. I need to figure out the connection. Anyway, thanks for talking to me.” He took her hand and pressed a business card into it. “I’m sure you have the number of my office, but this has my personal cell on it. Call me anytime. For anything.”
“I— Thank you, Sheriff. I appreciate this.”
“Alex. Please call me Alex.” She managed a tiny smile. “Okay, Alex. I expect we’ll be seeing each other again.”
“Count on it.” The look he gave her was equal parts of compassion and understanding with a healthy dose of heat thrown in. And for the first time in her life, it didn’t frighten her.
Holt, Desiree; Protectors World, Brotherhood. Unmasking Evil: Brotherhood Protectors World. Kindle Locations (759-824). Twisted Page Press LLC. Kindle Edition.
The investigation is as convoluted as it is intriguing as several leads come to the fore.
Micki becomes a focal point even though she tries to keep a low profile. The attraction between her and Alex is palpable as they get to know each other.
There’s plenty of suspense, intrigue and heat as Alex and Micki find love and home in each other.
I have the rest of this series on my TBR pile, stay tuned for more soon.
5 Contented Purrs for Desiree!
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USA Today Bestselling and award winning author Desiree Holt writes everything from romantic suspense and paranormal to erotic, a genre in which she is the oldest living author.
She has been referred to by USA Today as the Nora Roberts of erotic romance, and is a winner of the EPIC E-Book Award, the Holt Medallion and a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice nominee.
She has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning and in The Village Voice, The Daily Beast, USA Today, The (London) Daily Mail, The New Delhi Times and numerous other national and international publications.
“Desiree Holt is the most amazing erotica author of our time and each story is more fulfilling then the last.” (Romance Junkies)