A Romantic Suspense Anthology
USA Today Bestselling Authors
When ADA Tara Kingston’s primary witness is attacked and threatened in her home, she doesn’t want to testify anymore. She’s scared and isn’t trusting anyone not even Tara.
It’s Xander who comes to the rescue with he calming personality and a background that would be able to win her back on track.
This is a favorite scene.
The half-shout was enough to snare Dr. Riley’s attention. “Okay, that’s enough. Either we get a whole lot more chill about this or interview time is over.”
Tara battled the panic starting to rise in her chest. Amour wouldn’t be safe unless they got this guy and Sansone— who had surely hired or bribed this guy to scare her— behind bars, permanently, and without Amour’s cooperation, they were screwed. She had to do something, God, anything, to get her to talk. “Amour—”
“It’s pretty scary, isn’t it?”
Xander’s voice slipped through the tension in the room, surprising the hell out of Tara.
Amour, too, if the look on her face was anything to go by. “What?”
“I said, it’s pretty scary, being threatened like you were tonight.” He stepped a little further out of the shadows, but still didn’t come close to Amour’s personal space, as if he wanted to give her literal room to breathe.
She eyed him with tough disdain. “What do you know about it? You’re a fucking cop.”
“I’m also a Northie, born and raised. And I know exactly what you’re feeling, because two years ago, I was in the same situation.”
Amour eyed him with a solid dose of mistrust, but enough curiosity flickered through her stare that no one intervened. “You’re a Northie?”
“Lived on The Hill for most of my life. Sullivan Street,” he added, and Amour’s brows lifted.
“In that apartment building by the park?”
“Where all the junkies hang out at night,” Xander confirmed. “And the pawn shop on the corner, by Old Lou’s market.”
Amour remained wary, but she kept talking. “I know it. Old Lou’s not bad.”
“He used to give me and my sister milk on the expiration day when we were tight on money. He’s a good guy. Mean as a snake if you mess with his candy displays, though.”
“So, what happened to you?” Amour asked, and Tara had to admit her curiosity was burning through her, too.
Xander said, “I got jammed up with someone I shouldn’t have— you know how it is. You’ve gotta make a living, and you can’t look sideways in North Point without your eyes landing on someone with crappy intentions.”
Amour huffed out a laugh, although it carried very little joy. “Yeah. I don’t exactly love wearing a leather bustier and getting groped for shitty tips, but…”
She shrugged off the rest, and Xander filled in the blanks all too smoothly. “You don’t exactly have great options. So, you keep your head down and try to make things work. But then a guy like Ricky Sansone comes along, doing all sorts of nasty stuff to people, and the next thing you know, you’re in over your head.”
Isabella and Garza seemed all too happy to let Xander go with the lead he’d so smoothly taken, and Tara watched, half-mesmerized, as Amour nodded.
“He was hurting people, putting guns on the street. North Point is bad enough, you know? Most of us have enough shit to worry about without having to dodge bullets, so when I saw the chance to put him away…”
She broke off. Xander’s expression never wavered, as if he had nothing in the world more important to do than sit there and wait until she was ready to keep going.
And she did. “But I was supposed to be safe. I didn’t sign on for this.” She waved a hand around the exam room. Xander took a careful step forward until he was right beside the gurney, never dropping eye contact with her.
“Believe me, I get it. I have the scars to prove it, too.” Rolling up his right uniform sleeve, he revealed a two-inch burn scar that made Tara’s heart race. “I was scared out of my head the whole time.”
“But you got out,” Amour said, with just enough curiosity for Xander to take the opening she’d given him.
“I did, but in order to make it work, I had to do something that scared me almost more than the person who did this to me. I had to be honest with these guys.” He hooked a thumb over his shoulder in Isabella and Garza’s direction. “Look, none of us can tell you what to do. What you say or don’t say in this interview is entirely up to you. But I can tell you this. Telling these detectives the truth saved my life, and I know that if you’re honest with them, they’ll do everything in their power to save yours.”
The silence that stretched through the exam room felt like it lasted for a month before Amour broke it with, “Would… would you help them keep me safe for real? If I wanted to talk, I mean.”
Tara’s chest tightened with hope, and it took every single shred of her self-control not to interject.
“These detectives are the real pros, Amour,” Xander said, looking at Garza and Isabella with a nod. “But if I can help them in any way, I will.”
“I’m here, too.” Tara squeezed Amour’s hand. “I promise.”
Letting out a slow breath, Amour said, “Okay. I’ll tell you everything.”
Kimberly Kincaid. Danger and Desire (Kindle Locations 597-637).
It’s also Xander who remembers an open apartment in his building that would be perfect to keep Amour safe.
Tara is more than a little impressed with Xander in more ways than one. As this story continues and the trial gets closer, so do Tara and Xander.
Plenty of suspense, intrigue and some sizzling heat.
5 Contented Purrs for Kimberly!
Brad Fraser wants only three things: to leave Tamarack, Alaska and never return; for his coworker, Ted Godfrey, to be fired; and to never, ever fall in love.
But Brad tempts fate when he takes Jenna out for a night of owl watching, and once he spends time alone with her, his carefully planned escape from both frigid north and fiery waitress is no longer simple…
For three years, Jenna has been lusting after Brad, he however has shown no interest whatsoever. Then some well meaning friends set it up so he needs a ride back to the compound. Of course the only one available to give him the ride is Jenna.
The first Brad discovers about Jenna is her love of Owls, her car dash is covered in them. Something causes him to offer to show her the great horned owl’s nest near the compound.
This is a favorite scene.
“I don’t collect them so much as they come to me. People see owls, and they think of me. It’s kind of sweet, and I love the artistry.” She slowed as they passed a moose snacking on leaves by the side of the road. “But to answer your question, since I was a kid. I love hiking in the woods and hearing them call, seeing them perched as they’re looking for prey. Owls make me happy.”
It was such a simple statement, yet it said a lot about her, about her love for Tamarack. That she could find joy here, even though the town was small and remote and it was a two-hour-plus drive to the nearest full-service grocery store.
“There’s a great horned owl nest with three nestlings on Raptor land. I could take you to it.”
Her fingers tightened on the steering wheel. “Really? Won’t you get in trouble for that?”
“Nah. It’s not in the fenced area and far outside of where we run training ops— we can’t do anything in the area because it’s protected. It used to be an eagle’s nest, but this winter, it was taken over by a mated pair of owls.”
“Great horned owls do that— make use of other raptors’ nests.”
“Do you want to see it?”
“I’d love to.”
“Stay on the highway, then— pass the main gate and keep going. The road into the woods is about a mile past the turn to the gate.”
“You mean, right now?”
He shrugged. “Sure. Why not? Plenty of light and…” He let out a small laugh, his gaze on the birds on the dashboard. “I’m something of a night owl anyway. Plus, I’ve got tomorrow off. How about you? You working the lunch shift?”
“No. Evening.” She took her gaze off the road and met his briefly. “You’re sure?”
“Yeah. Let’s do it.” He absolutely wanted to see her face when she spotted the nestlings. Owls made her happy. He wanted to be part of that.
It took another fifteen minutes to get to the point where they had to leave her car and hike in. Fortunately, the road was well maintained, and her car could handle it even with the low clearance.
It was after midnight by the time they were getting out of the car. “I’ve got supplies in the back.” She walked around the hatchback and raised it, revealing a small daypack, extra clothes, hiking boots, water bottles, first aid kit, and blankets. She sat on the bumper and changed out of her soft sneakers for the rugged day hikers. She then donned a fleece sweatshirt and pulled her jacket on again.
“The wind is really whipping up. You going to be warm enough?” she asked him as she plucked a pair of small binoculars from the pack and slipped them into her jacket pocket, then stuffed a blanket and water bottle inside the main compartment.
“I’ll be fine. My coat is lined with wool, and the nest isn’t far.” He slung her pack on his back, and they entered the woods.
Even with the thin canopy, there was no need for flashlights to see their path on the uneven ground. Like the road, the trail was maintained and wide enough for them to walk side by side. He resisted the urge to take her hand in his, even though it tugged at him like it was the most natural thing in the world to be hiking after midnight with Jenna O’Donnell, the most beautiful woman within a thousand miles. Scratch that. Anywhere. Ever.
The path narrowed, and instead of dropping behind, he moved closer to her side, getting a whiff of her shampoo even as his senses should be overwhelmed with the scent of damp earth and leaves. The mossy ground was soft beneath their feet, and they barely made a sound as they walked.
The wind brought a repeated hooting call, and Jenna stopped with a gasp, her hand grabbing his. And just that easy, they were holding hands as she looked up at him with sheer pleasure on her face. “That’s him. That’s the male territorial hoot.”
The sound was followed by another, higher-pitched trill.
“And that’s her.”
The male hooted again, and she pulled on his hand, her excitement making her take the lead. He held on, picking up his pace as they hurried down the path. She came to an abrupt stop as they reached the clearing, and momentum had his body bumping into hers. He released her hand and wrapped his arms around her waist to keep her from pitching forward.
She settled against him and, like holding hands, having her in his arms like this felt like the most natural thing in the world.
“Where is it?” she asked as she pulled the binoculars from her pocket and held them to her eyes.
He released her waist with one hand and placed it over hers on the binocs, gently redirecting her line of sight to the big nest high in a tree on the far side of the meadow.
She gasped. “Oh my God! I see the owlets. They’re so perfect. Probably six to eight weeks old already.”
Brad released her hand and settled his arm around her again.
“Mom’s in the nest with the owlets. Dad must be out hunting.” She lowered the binocs and tilted her head back to gaze up at him. “Do you want to look?”
No. What he wanted was to kiss her as he held her just like this. To bury his face in her neck. He wore jeans and a stiff tin-cloth coat, but even so, with her rear pressed to his front as it was, she was bound to notice his growing erection. He saw the moment she registered his arousal. She let out a soft gasp, and her eyes went hot. She pressed back, rubbing against him even as his arms tightened, holding her in this exquisite position.
Rachel Grant. Danger and Desire (Kindle Locations 1973-2016).
What is meant to be one night, has Brad wanting more time with Jenna. To this end he starts leaving owl related things near her station at the bar.
Although Brad is planning on leaving, he can’t do that until he figures out a way to get rid of Godfrey. He’s up to something and with Jenna’s friend Isabel putting pressure on Raptor’s administration to close it’s doors, the man is getting more unstable.
Plenty of suspense as this story unfolds, and the relationship between Brad and Jenna becomes even more explosive.
5 Contented Purrs for Rachel!
I was a teenager in the 70’s so I remember the things in this story that may make younger folks scratch their heads in confusion. There were no cell phones or computers or internet. If you read Cat’s Hot SEALs you’ll know Zane Alexander’s wife Melissa. This is her parents story.
Marty meets Peter at a bar and as they talk he mentions the senator he works for. That was then end for her, angry and appalled he could work for someone with no moral code.
She was more than surprise to see him at the Greenpeace rally. Peter had tried to tell her his politics and his bosses weren’t the same, but she wasn’t going to listen at the bar. Now she does and she’s more than a little impressed that his roommate is one of the main speakers.
This is a favorite scene as the peaceful rally erupts into violence and chaos, with Peter taking charge to get them away safely.
A Vanderbilt. Jesus.
Looking at her more closely, there was no doubt in his mind the name wasn’t a coincidence. That she was indeed from the Vanderbilt family. As in the robber baron, old money, mansions in every state Gilded Age Vanderbilts.
Her dress probably cost as much as his rent. Her shoes . . . he glanced down and yup, they looked pretty pricey too.
He must be losing his mind pursuing a woman so out of his league.
More than her wealth, he was definitely certifiable for thinking this staunchly left-wing Democrat would ever accept his conservative leanings, even if he did try to consider and understand all sides and opinions when it came to politics.
It wasn’t in his nature to blindly follow any leader or party. He wished she would see that about him. That he carefully weighed the issues, making up his mind on a case-by-case basis.
A squeal of a microphone broke Peter out of his fanciful imaginings about the lovely though contrary Marty Vanderbilt.
He turned toward the speakers just as the crack of glass breaking had his head whipping back around. The burst of flames he saw on the square’s flagstone plaza explained the sound.
“What was that?” Marty asked, barely audible over the shrieks of the scattering crowd.
He spun back to answer her. “Molotov cocktail.”
She shook her head, mouth agape. “Here? Why?”
“I don’t know.” It made no sense to him except for that they lived in volatile times.
He heard sirens in the distance. The police were already on the way. That didn’t prevent a second projectile from crashing into flames next to the fountain.
Shocked screams turned into panic as the attendees clamored to get out of the main entrance of the park.
Slower movers got shoved out of the way by those desperate to flee the danger zone. The few who fell were trampled.
The reaction of the crowd was becoming more of a danger than the homemade incendiary devices.
“We have to get out of here.” He grabbed her arm, feeling the need to protect her.
Marty pulled against him. “Where’s Clark? My photographer.”
Peter looked around and finally spotted the young man, working his way against the crowd toward them. “There he is.”
And he was obviously hurt, judging by the blood. He staggered while clutching his camera to his chest.
Peter moved to meet him where he was and looped a hand beneath his arm. “You need that cut taken care of.”
“I fell,” he said simply, sounding as dazed as he looked.
Clark reached up and touched the blood running down the side of his face. He looked down at the red wetting his fingers as if noticing for the first time he was injured.
He was definitely stunned. Disoriented. Peter couldn’t blame him. Chaos still reigned around them. He needed to get them all out of there.
Pulling his handkerchief out of his pocket, he pressed it to Clark’s head then placed the man’s own hand over it. “Hold that there.”
Clark nodded, still looking confused but he did as told. That was good enough.
Peter glanced at Marty. He saw the crazed look in her eyes as her gaze darted around them, taking in all the insanity.
Fist fights had broken out among the crowd. He wouldn’t put it past her to jump right into the fray, whether for the story or for the principal of the cause. It wouldn’t matter. She’d be in danger either way.
“Come on. This way.” Peter didn’t wait for an answer to what had never been a question.
It was no doubt time to go. Before the police started rounding everyone up and they all ended up sitting in a cell for the night. Or worse, beaten or gassed.
During these times, the authorities tended to act first and ask questions later.
With one hand grabbing each of their arms, he half steered, half tugged Marty and Clark out of the smaller back exit of the park.
Head down, he navigated them through the people running both ways. Some towards the action. Others away from it.
One man, who had to be high on some illegal substance from the looks of him, came at them, fist drawn back as if he was about to deliver a punch backed by the full force of his weight.
Peter didn’t know how this peaceful rally had turned to this, but he did know how to defend himself. He stepped forward toward the man, raised his elbow and brought it down full force on the man’s nose.
He heard the horrifying sound of cracking bone— the other guy’s, not his own. The man screamed in pain, clutching his nose as the blood flowed.
His stomach turned. But now was not the time to be squeamish.
He looked behind him and located Marty. She was holding Clark’s arm, steadying the man who looked like he was having trouble staying on his feet. How hard a hit had he taken to the head anyway?
“My apartment isn’t too far. Follow me.” Reaching out, he grabbed her hand.
“What about your roommate?” she asked, glancing backward as he dragged her toward the sidewalk, Clark stumbling behind her.
“Elijah? I saw him get out through the front gate. I’m hoping to find him at the apartment when we get there.”
Cat Johnson. Danger and Desire (Kindle Locations 3239-3282).
This is the beginning of their relationship, that quickly heats up. However it’s while she’s on vacation that Peter realizes just how much he cares about her.
The becomes even more apparent when her flight home is hijacked.
Marty finds herself just hoping to make it home alive, to tell Peter she how she feels about him. I love that Peter finds a way to monitor the situation up close and personal. Also using his contacts to see her before her parents can take her away.
A wonderful throw back story with everything on point.
5 Contented Purrs for Cat!
Levi is traveling slowly from Wyoming to Maine. He’s taking in some sights along the way as well. He happens to come across a vehicle off the road and a woman standing nearby.
After a delightful drive and dinner, Levi is considering driving Clare to her destination. He has to pass by Boston anyway. Before he totally commits himself he has LHS run a check on her. The results are disturbing and he decides he’s not taking her any further. That changes when he approaches her hotel room.
This is a favorite scene.
A sigh of air rushed from her lungs and the weight on her shoulders seemed to intensify. “I thought I had another day to take one last look at things before Mr. Martins came back. But he showed up at work, made a beeline into my tiny office, and, with a big smile on his face, thanked me for assisting but told me that I was no longer responsible for any of Perry’s accounts. The way he was acting… the way he was staring at me… I knew my suspicions were right. So, I did the only thing I could do at the moment and that was slap a big smile on my face and simply agree.”
Munching on another cracker, she washed it down with water. So far, Levi was listening with little interruption, but she had no idea what he thought of her story. Afraid that his patience might wane and he would decide to drive her straight to a police station, she continued.
“By the end of the day, I was a nervous wreck. I knew something wasn’t right. I knew Mr. Martins, as well as Perry, was involved. I knew it was obvious to Mr. Martins that I’d gone through the accounts. I planned on staying late yesterday, but he showed up at my desk and said that I should take the afternoon off since I’d been pulling double duty with Perry out. I felt like it was a ruse to get me out of the office, but what excuse did I have?”
“What happened next?”
“A stroke of luck.” She watched as Levi’s unflappable demeanor fell away and his head jerked to the side to stare at her. Quickly explaining, she said, “On my way home, I stopped by my bank to get some cash. Imagine my surprise when I looked at my balance and discovered an extra five hundred thousand dollars sitting in my account.”
Another snort erupted as she agreed. “My thoughts exactly. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that Mr. Martins knew I must’ve looked at everything and he was afraid I’d go to the authorities. Because I have direct deposit with my paycheck, it was not difficult for him to be able to put the money in there.”
“So, you ran.”
“Yes. I ran.”
“What was your plan?”
She lifted her shoulders in a little shrug and shook her head. “All I wanted to do was get away. I had no idea what Mr. Martins’ plans were for me. Call the police and claim that I had embezzled? Maybe keep me under his thumb with the threat hanging over my head? For all I knew that’s what had happened to Perry. So, I got home, packed everything I could into my car, and hit the road yesterday morning. I thought if I could disappear for a little while until I had a chance to figure things out, I’d be safe.”
Levi was quiet for another moment, and Claire decided she was too exhausted to keep talking. She let the silence move around them, finding her eyelids growing heavy.
“If everything you’re telling me is true, why was that man in your room this morning, threatening you?”
Rolling her head to the side, she once more stared at Levi. If men were described in romance novels as tall, dark, and handsome, she’d never truly understood that description until she laid eyes on him. A woman alone with a disabled vehicle should have been very afraid, but fear was not what she felt. If the truth was known, a bolt of lust hit her as he approached. But, with his hands held out in plain sight, his past as an FBI agent, and his offer to help, she tamped down her lust and focused on the warm ease that moved through her at being rescued. With everything that had happened, she hadn’t even thanked Levi for saving her.
Sighing her millionth sigh that morning, she replied, “I have a copy of all Perry’s dealings. I know that I should never have taken client account information out of the office, but as soon as I discovered discrepancies, I wanted backup. Mr. Martins must have discovered that I have the records. That’s why he didn’t call the authorities and try to blame the embezzlement on me. Instead, he sent someone after me.”
Turning to face him more fully, she added, “I’m ashamed that I didn’t even thank you for what you did this morning. But it’s now hitting me… you placed yourself in danger. I think the best thing you can do is to pull off at the next exit and let me out. Right now, Levi, you’re in danger because of me.”
“Did you get all of that?” he asked.
Looking at him sharply, she had no idea what he was asking her. Before she had a chance to say anything, a male voice coming from his phone replied.
“Got it. Checking out her story now.”
She gasped, opening her mouth then snapping it closed as her gaze dropped to his phone as though she would be able to see who now knew her secrets. Levi obviously had called someone and had them on the line the entire time she was speaking. Her stomach clenched as she wondered who now knew that money was in her account and what they were going to do with that information. Her hands began to shake, a combination of anger and nerves, and her heart pounded a drumbeat so loud it was all she could hear.
Hearing her name, her body jolted. “What?”
“You went pale, and I wasn’t sure you were breathing. Don’t pass out on me now.”
With everything that had happened, it was ridiculous to be angry at him, and yet anger was the only emotion she could identify. “You didn’t tell me someone was listening.”
“Why not? I was talking to you, not just anyone. I’m trying to stay safe while figuring all this out, and I don’t even know who was listening to this information—”
“I’m the one trying to keep you safe. I’m the one that disarmed that man this morning. I’m the one who needs all the information to figure out what to do. And that started by me finding out what you’re involved in. And if I can trust you.”
She wanted to argue with his words but couldn’t. Everything he said was true. Pinching her lips together, she turned and looked out her window. She had not been paying attention to the highway signs and had no idea how far they had driven. Doubt slowly wormed its way into her mind as she realized she had no idea who Levi truly was. Maybe he just wanted—
“Don’t go there. I can tell that right now you’re doubting everything you’ve told me. But, Claire, if what you told me is the truth, I can help by looking into this mess.”
“It’s true. It’s all true.”
She had no idea what kind of looking into he meant, but, considering it was more than what she had, she was willing to go on a little faith.
Maryann Jordan. Danger and Desire (Kindle Locations 4715-4765).
I love the way Levi and Clare’s relationship becomes entangled in what LHS is now considering a mission. Their leisurely journey now fraught with watching their backs, but they also become closer too.
The closer to Maine they get the hotter this relationship and situation gets.
I love this series so much and I can’t wait to see who’s next to find love.
5 Contented Purrs for Maryann!
Jason wanted nothing more than to marry Roxana and quit his job. Of course he has to ask her first. He does that in style while she teases about their sex life.
This is a favorite scene.
Jason lifted her legs off his, set her feet on the flagstone, and cupped her cheeks before she could pout. The fullness of his lips brushed against hers, not quite a kiss; a taste and a tease of everything she wanted.
“Roxana.” His eyes stayed open, locked on hers as if he couldn’t look away. “You are the perfect woman for me.”
“I know.” She leaned for his kiss and added, “Thought you already knew that, too.”
“I do, babe.” His laughter rolled. “Listen for a second.” His hands slipped off her cheeks and trailed down her neck. Jason took her mouth with a savoring slowness that made her head spin in a honeyed haze.
She explained that it was hard to listen when he didn’t speak, but the velvet slide of his tongue against hers erased the thought. Electricity sparked down her spine as chill bumps rolled over her skin.
“I love you.”
“I know that, too.”
He eased from his chair and kneeled, a rakish grin dangling off his chiseled face. “I met you, and everything changed.”
“Bet the amount of times you ordered delivery dropped,” she teased.
“Yeah, that was a change.” His hands took hers. In their world, Jason’s actions always usurped conversations. Tonight though, his words kept pace. “Amongst other things.”
“Is that fancy accountant talk for crazy-awesome, grade-A sex?” Forget that they’d been interrupted before dinner, his teasing tone and a night of mojitos were a wicked combination. “Speaking of which, we should go to bed.”
Jason licked his lips as if her brilliant idea had been a joke. “In a minute.”
She pulled her hand free and pressed the back of it to his forehead. “Are you dying or something?”
His eyes danced. “Give me your hand, Roxana.”
“Are you going to bring me upstairs and—” She was suddenly, acutely aware that Jason wasn’t just perched in front of her, but on one knee. “Shut up.”
His lips twitched. “Marry me, Roxana.”
Roxana slapped a hand over the wild, joyful scream that pealed from lungs, and covered his for good measure. Jason belly laughed into her hand. She didn’t know what else to do except launch into his arms.
Like a stud, Jason caught her superhero style and flipped over to rest in the crook of his arm. “Babe?”
“I graded our sex life while you were trying to propose.”
“Guess that’s how it goes when it’s grade-A?” He winked. “Anything else to say?”
Her arms wrapped around his neck as if they had a mind of their own. “As if you don’t know my answer.”
“Still gotta say it.” His mouth dropped to her ear. “I love you, Roxana. Marry me.”
“Yes.” She melted. “Of course, I will. You’re the kindest, strongest man I’ve ever met.” Roxana kissed his cheek. “Now, will you bring me upstairs?”
Cristin Harber. Danger and Desire (Kindle Locations 5484-5507).
Now that she’s said yes, it’s on to the next part. Quitting his job. He thought it would be easy but it turns out there’s something going on with his boss.
He thought he could get away with never telling Roxana what he really does for a living. That rapidly changes as he scrambles for his life and hers.
Full of suspense, intrigue, and sizzle. You won’t be able to put this one down.
5 Contented Purrs for Cristin!
Wyatt is on the run, he has to get the drive he’d gotten from his informant to Linear’s computer guy. First he has to lose they guys chasing him.
While he really didn’t want to use her, he knew Nadine would be at this market. They were looking for a single guy not a couple. This could work.
Wyatt spends the afternoon and evening with Nadine. He’s falling for her but everything has to wait until there’s no more threat. The real fun begins when Nadine takes him to a hotel. One he’s really not staying in.
This is a favorite scene.
There was definitely something wrong with him. She’d never seen him fight but he was a trained Special Forces soldier— there was no way this was how he normally fought.
And the other guy was taking advantage of it. He punched Wyatt square in the gut, making him double over.
And when he did, when his line of vision was closer to the floor, Wyatt caught sight of Nadine creeping up the stairs.
“No,” he grunted through clenched teeth. “Run.”
No way that was happening.
The attacker spun around, but she had her pepper spray raised. He threw his hands up to protect himself, but it was too late. She damn near emptied the whole can in his face.
When the guy staggered back, she took a swing at him— straight into the nose with her palm like she’d been taught in the self-defense classes Chloe had talked her into taking. She shuddered at the feel of his nose breaking under her hand and blood pouring out everywhere.
That part hadn’t been covered in class.
He howled as he fell to the ground while Wyatt remained slumped against the stairs. She needed to get them out of there before broken-nose guy’s buddies showed up from the lobby.
“Come on.” She took him under the arms and hauled him up until he was on his feet. Finally, something good came out of her size and strength. A petite little thing couldn’t have managed that.
“You’ve got to get away.” He coughed a few times from the pepper spray, groaning when he did. He sounded disoriented. Nothing like the man who’d left her car less than ten minutes ago.
“Not without you.” She had no idea what was happening, why there were people after him. All she knew was that he was in trouble and there was no abandoning him now. “Come on. Lean on me. We’ll get you down the stairs.”
But his feet didn’t seem to want to obey. She practically dragged him down the stairs, one lurching step at a time with her shoulder tucked into his armpit. “Gotta… get away… safe…” His words became less recognizable with each step.
“I’m going to get us both away if you would just walk, damn it. Help me, please.” He seemed to try to move his feet, to bear his weight. It was better than nothing, anyway.
They reached the big, metal door at the bottom of the stairwell which led outside. She pushed her way through and pulled Wyatt along with her. They were behind the hotel now, next to a row of dumpsters.
“I’ve got to get you to a doctor. A hospital. You’re hurt. Poisoned or something.”
“No. No.” He pulled her to a stop. “No doctor. No hospital.”
“Wyatt, you need help.”
He shook his head. “Drugged,” he slurred. “Wear off.”
“Drugged? By who?” She started them toward her car again. The people from the lobby were going to be looking for them soon
“I need…” His head started to droop. His legs began to buckle, dragging her down.
“No way. Wyatt, come on.” She propped him against the wall and slapped his cheek, wincing, knowing he’d taken punches to his face.
His eyes opened. “What? What?” He sounded angry— not that she minded. As long as he was awake.
“Stay with me.” She started walking them again. She wouldn’t have very long before he got pulled under. “Finish what you were trying to tell me. You said you have to get away from here, and you need something. What do you need?”
“Hide. Hide. Sleep.” It sounded like every word was a struggle.
“Hide from who?” He shook his head slightly and they stumbled a few more steps. She kept them away from the windows in the lobby. “Didn’t. Want. Tell you.”
She didn’t know what he was talking about. “Let’s just get you to the car.”
“Can’t. I…” His legs threatened to buckle again. “Leave me.”
“Wyatt, come on. We need to hurry. There are men in the lobby who are going to come after you.”
“Not. Safe.” He stopped moving again. “You. Go.”
Damn it. She needed another tactic. “Those guys in the lobby are going to get me if you don’t get to my car, Wyatt. The only way for me to get out of here is for you to get to my car.”
Her risk paid off. She could almost see the super-human effort he made to focus. To command his body to do what he was telling it to do.
Because he wanted to protect her.
“Let’s go.” It was the clearest words she’d heard from him yet.
He still needed help, but at least he was making an effort. They moved slowly across the parking lot toward her car. She practically shoved him inside the back seat, bending his legs and picking up his feet to tuck them in with him.
She ran around to the driver’s side and started the car. “Where, Wyatt? Should I take you somewhere? Drive you to Wyoming?”
He shook his head. “Your house.”
Then his head dropped to the seat.
Janie Crouch. Danger and Desire (Kindle Locations 7166-7207).
In spite of the fact he doesn’t want Nadine involved, he gets no choice when they torch her house.
A hold your breath tale with plenty of action, suspense and sizzle.
5 Contented Purrs for Janie!
Under pressure from his brother Asher, and also realizing he wasn’t up to par, Lawson decides to go to a local grief group. Before it gets there, he has a bit of a run in with a child escaping art class. While this was definitely amusing it’s actually when he sees Jill for the first time, well the back of her anyway.
Inside the group he sits next to her to listen to people talk, while Jill gives him a narrative. In thanks he asks her to coffee and she agrees.
This is a favorite scene.
The teenage hostess sat them in a booth near the back and had coffee in front of them before they could ask.
“I love it when I immediately get coffee,” Jill said as she poured in a little cream.
“Do you want anything more than coffee and dessert?” Law asked. “They’re still serving dinner.” He nodded to some of the other diners.
“No, I’m good. I had something before the session. Yoga was next on my plans, and if I’d gone like usual, I’d have eaten a protein bar in my car.”
“What, you have something against protein bars?” her eyes twinkled.
“I like real food when I can get it. There are plenty of times I’m stuck eating bars and stuff, but whenever I’m in a spot that I can get real food, that’s my go-to, unless I’m in a real pinch.”
“Do you cook?” She took a delicate sip of coffee. She had great lips. He also liked the fact that she asked if he cooked. A lot of women just assumed because he was a Marine he couldn’t or wouldn’t.
“Yep. My mother wouldn’t have it any other way. She’s great in the kitchen. She taught all of her boys how to cook.”
“How many of you are there?” “There were three of us. Asher, Xavier, and me. I’m the baby of the family.”
“Were?” she asked gently.
“We lost Xavier a year ago.”
“I’m so sorry,” she said sincerely. “Do you want to talk about it?”
Law set down his mug of coffee. He considered how to explain. But she must have seen something in his eyes.
Jill gave a wry grin. “That was stupid. If you’d wanted to talk, you would have about an hour ago.”
“Shit, I don’t know what I was doing there. It was kind of a last-ditch effort. I’m blaming it squarely on Ash’s head, and that asshole is going to hear about it, mark my words.” Law gave a feral grin at the thought of what he’d say to his brother.
Jill put her elbow on the table and propped her chin on her fist. “So, you’re going to tell your brother about going to the Grief Session? I’m impressed. I thought that would go against the macho code or something.”
“Marine code,” he smiled. “Not macho code, Marine code.”
“Isn’t that the same thing?”
“Bite your tongue. Marines are in a class of their own.”
Before Jill could flip him more guff, the middle-aged waitress appeared.
“What can I get you two?” she asked gruffly. Law felt for her, it looked like she’d put in a long day. Before he could say anything, Jill gave her a big grin.
“How are you doing? I love your nails.” Just that little question and compliment put a smile on the woman’s face. Jill had nice instincts when dealing with people. He liked it.
“Thanks. It’s a new color my daughter talked me into. What can I get for you two kids?”
“Do you feel like surprising me, or would you prefer I choose?” Jill asked.
“Do you like creamy or tart?” The waitress was clearly getting into the game. “Creamy.”
“I’ve got you covered.” She turned to Law. “How about you? Want me to set you up, or do you have your heart set on something?”
“I’m with Jill; I trust your judgment. I’m in the mood for pie.”
“Well, you came to the right place. Are you out of Camp Pendleton?”
“You had the look. It was either that or we get some of the guys from San Diego. I’ll bring it out to you and top off your coffee.” She left with a spring in her step that wasn’t there before.
“So, do you live at Camp Pendleton?”
“I’m too old for that. I have a house off base. What about you, where do you call home?”
He watched as Jill’s face clouded. “I inherited a house in Laguna Niguel from my cousin less than a year ago.”
“Now it’s my turn to ask, do you want to talk about it?”
“To tell you the truth, I’m kind of talked out,” she said as she took another sip of her coffee. Headlights flashed from outside through the diner window and glinted on her hair. The shiny black strands looked rich and silky and he wondered how they would feel running through his fingers. It took a moment for him to catch onto what she was saying.
“I’ve gone to the group sessions on and off for five months. I talked a little, but mostly just listened. I took a job transfer out here so I could move in with Lorraine and be with her while she needed me. After she passed, I realized that besides the people at work, I didn’t know anyone but Lorraine, so I thought the grief counseling sessions might help me as well as let me meet some folks who would be on the same page.”
“How’d that work out?”
“After the first three months, I’d pretty much come to the conclusion it’s not my thing. What about you? I saw you on the stairs with that boy Kevin from the art class. He’s always making a run for it.”
Law chuckled. “His name is Kenny. He’s a hoot. I swear, he almost had me convinced to go to his mother for comfort. He was telling me how unloading on her always made him feel better, and he offered her services to me.”
Jill let out a shout of laughter, then immediately covered her mouth and looked around to see if anyone else had heard.
“Oh. My. God. That’s priceless. I want him to come to the next Grief Session. He’d be perfect. But I’m not sure that I’m going again.” Jill sighed.
Caitlyn O’Leary. Danger and Desire (Kindle Locations 8321-8366).
Law’s relationship with Jill is a slow build with plenty of laughter. There is however some strange goings on at Jill’s.
A strange man inquiring about the number of people for a gathering on Labor day, a gathering that’s not actually planned. Then there’s a call from Leslie, the grief counselor, where she’s given Jill’s name and number to a former group member’s husband. To top that off, Jill’s house alarm went off while she was away on business.
Law wasn’t happy to find out about those things but he sets some things in motion to find out more.
Plenty of suspense along with laughter, tears and sizzle!
I definitely want more of this Night Storm crew!
5 Contented Purrs for Caitlyn!
This book starts out with everyone literally on the run. Kylie is a war journalist and with her cameraman Josh are with a Ranger team. The assignment was to get an informant out of harms way, but everything just went FUBAR. As the Taliban moves in closer to their location they take off running. Garcia the Sergeant assigned to her is wounded and they need a place to hide. The building they choose holds a surprise, the missing informant is hiding there. With no choice, Kylie takes Garcia’s weapon to protect them all.
This is a favorite scene.
The man at the door swung his rifle in Kylie’s direction and fired a burst of bullets, hitting the wall above her head.
Apparently, he hadn’t had the same shoot-don’t-shoot training Kylie had. He was of the philosophy of shoot first, pick through the bodies later.
And he was headed her way.
Kylie trained her sights on him.
The man let loose another burst of bullets.
Kyle winced as debris from the wall rained down on her head.
If he got past her, he’d kill the others. Kylie aimed for his left chest and squeezed the trigger.
One round to the heart, and the man went down.
“Kylie?” Josh’s voice called out. “You all right?”
“I’m good,” she said. More footsteps pounded in the street outside the building heading their way. “But I don’t know for how long.” She sighted her weapon on the open door.
A shadow raced past it, and then a man in black dove through, rolled to his feet and came up shooting.
Most of Kylie’s shooting experience had been with stationary targets. She aimed and fired, but the man moved so fast, Kylie missed her first shot.
The man turned toward her, his AK-47 aimed at her position.
Kylie fired again, hitting him in the chest as he pulled his trigger.
His bullet hit just above her head, showering dust and pieces of wall down on her.
Another man raced through the door with a machinegun and started firing indiscriminately.
Kylie pulled back behind her wall and lay as low to the ground as possible until the man ceased firing.
Then she poked her head and the barrel of her rifle out and fired at the man.
At the last second, he moved, and the bullet hit his arm, but not badly enough to keep him from setting off another burst of gunfire, getting closer to Kylie’s location.
She ducked back and lay flat against the floor
She couldn’t come out long enough to fire again, the man kept shooting short bursts.
Shouts sounded outside, and the sound of men running worried Kylie. She would run out of bullets soon, if she got another chance to fire.
The gunfire ceased, and the clang of metal hitting the floor told her the Taliban shooter was changing magazines.
If she hoped to get this guy, she needed to do it while he was vulnerable, reloading his gun.
Kylie leaned around the corner and aimed her rifle.
The shooter slammed another magazine into the machinegun.
Before he could raise it to fire, Kylie launched a bullet into the man’s heart.
Three men ran through the door, all wearing wearing the same black outfits and the black turbans as the other two Kylie had nailed.
She’d been lucky the first three times. The men had come in separately. How was she going to shoot three in a row?
She aimed, fired and missed the first guy.
The three Taliban men all hit the ground, making it hard for her to aim at them.
Slowly, they moved forward, inching their way toward her.
Kylie’s pulse pounded in her ears. She couldn’t let the fact that there were three against one get inside her head and mess with her. She had to protect Josh, Sergeant Garcia and Faaid. They were depending on her.
One of the men fired at her, hitting so close to her head, she could almost feel the buzz of the bullet zipping past her ear.
She ducked back behind the wall for a moment, dragged in a deep breath and whipped back around the corner, her rifle aiming at the last position of the closest combatant.
He wasn’t there. The Taliban soldier stood over her, his AK-47 pointing down at her face.
Kylie gasped. She didn’t have time to jerk her weapon up to kill the man. As she stared up at the barrel of his gun, her life passed before her eyes. The last few years as a war correspondent, before that, falling in love with the one man she’d almost given up her dreams for. He was her only regret.
Several shots were fired.
Kylie waited for the pain but felt nothing except for a spray of blood across her face. The man standing over her dropped his weapon, and then collapsed, landing on top of Kylie.
His weight crushed the air from her lungs. Kylie fought to get out from beneath him, but he was too heavy. Who had shot him? Was there another enemy in the building? She had to get out from under the man and be prepared to protect her team.
Suddenly, the dead Taliban man flipped over and landed on his back beside Kylie.
She scrambled to bring her weapon up in her hands and aim at the man who’d saved her life, afraid he’d only saved her because he’d wanted the Taliban soldier to die. For all she knew, he’d want her and her team to die as well.
Rolling onto her back, she aimed up at a different man staring down at her. He held up his hands. “Whoa, little lady. You don’t want to shoot your rescuer. It really destroys the whole superhero image.” He winked and smiled. As he stared at her, his smile slipped. “Kylie?”
Those rugged good looks were a little more seasoned, but that voice could not be mistaken. Kylie’s heart stuttered. “Mac?”
“What the hell are you doing out here in enemy territory?” he demanded, his brow descending.
Even though he’d save her life, she bristled. “For the same reason you are.”
“You came out here to shoot Taliban insurgents?” Mac shook his head. “I thought you were a journalist.”
“I am,” she said, pushing to a sitting position. “Things just got away from us. I had it under control.” She looked away.
Elle James. Danger and Desire: A Romantic Suspense Anthology (pp. 724-727). Kindle Edition.
A very brief respite once Mac and his team get them to the extraction point. It doesn’t last very long though.
They need to get Kylie out of the country, she managed to kill one of the Taliban on the most wanted list. The Taliban isn’t going to be happy that he was killed, let alone by a woman. She definitely now has a price on her head. To her the job comes first and she can’t leave without finishing her assignment.
Mac and Kylie have known each other for a very long time, she broke his heart so they could both have the careers they wanted. Now as Mac and his team work on keeping her safe until they can find transport out of the country things heat up between them.
Non-stop action, some laughs and sizzling heat in this war time tale.
5 Contented Purrs for Elle!
USA Today bestselling author Rachel Grant worked for over a decade as a professional archaeologist and mines her experiences for story lines and settings, which are as diverse as excavating a cemetery underneath an historic art museum in San Francisco; surveying an economically depressed coal mining town in Kentucky; and mapping a seventeenth century Spanish and Dutch fort on the island of Sint Maarten in the Netherlands Antilles.
In all her travels and adventures as an archaeologist, Rachel has found many sites and artifacts, but she’s only found one true treasure, her husband, David. They met while working together excavating a four thousand year old site about to be destroyed by the expansion of a sewage treatment plant in Seattle. Despite their romantic first meeting, she has no intention of ever setting a story at a sewage treatment plant.
Rachel Grant lives on an island in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and children.
Cat Johnson is a top 10 New York Times bestseller and the author of the USA Today bestselling Hot SEALs series. She writes contemporary romance that usually features hot alpha heroes (who often wear combat or cowboy boots) and the sassy heroines brave enough to love them. Known for her unique marketing she has sponsored pro bull riders, owns a collection of camouflage and western wear for book signings, and has used bologna to promote romance novels.
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!
I love to hear from readers, so please email me!
Cristin Harber is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance author of steamy romantic suspense, military romance, contemporary romance, and new adult books.
Her black ops books are packed with action and adventure and filled with everything she loves to read in romance novels! Sexy second chance romances, teasing tension in older brother’s best friend stories, plus enemies to lover, opposites attract, undercover marriage, forbidden love, and Navy SEAL romances (along with every other branch of military and law enforcement)!
USA TODAY bestselling author Janie Crouch writes what she loves to read: passionate romantic suspense. She is a winner and/or finalist of multiple romance literary awards including the Golden Quill Award for Best Romantic Suspense, the National Reader’s Choice Award, and the coveted RITA© Award by the Romance Writers of America.
Janie recently relocated with her husband and their four teenagers to Germany (due to her husband’s job as support for the U.S. Military), after living in Virginia for nearly 20 years. When she’s not listening to the voices in her head (and even when she is), she enjoys engaging in all sorts of crazy adventures (200-mile relay races; Ironman Triathlons, treks to Mt. Everest Base Camp) traveling, and movies of all kinds.
Her favorite quote: “Life is a daring adventure or nothing.” ~ Helen Keller.
USA Today Bestselling Author, Caitlyn O’Leary, adores writing Military Romantic Suspense and Paranormal Romance. She started publishing books in 2014. Storytelling has been a tradition in her family for years, and she still holds on to the letters she has received from family members since her childhood.
Caitlyn lives in California with her husband John of sixteen years who often makes guest appearances in her reader group, Caitlyn’s Crew. Getting to know so many people within the reader community is almost as much fun as writing each new novel. So join her reader group so she can get to know you, and see if she and John can make it to year seventeen!
You never know what kind of book she’ll write next, it all depends on what strikes her fancy. Be sure to keep in touch.
Award-winning author Elle James grew up as an air force military brat. She received her work ethic from her rock-solid father, her creative streak from her artistic mother and inspiration from her writing partner and sister, Delilah Devlin.
As a former member of the army reserves and a current member of the air force reserves, she’s traveled across the United States and to Germany, managed a full-time job, and raised three wonderful children. She and her husband have even tried their hands at ranching exotic birds (ostriches, emus and rheas) in the Texas hill country. Ask her, and she’ll tell you what it’s like to go toe-to-toe with an angry three-hundred-and-fifty-pound bird and live to tell about it!
Her adventures in the army and air force reserves, and the wild antics of her life on a small ranch in Texas give her fodder for mystery, suspense and humor in her writing. Elle writes gothic, paranormal mystery for the Harlequin Intrigue line and paranormal romantic comedy for Dorchester Publishing. A former manager of computer programming and project management professionals, Elle is happy she now has the opportunity to pursue her writing full time.