Monday, March 4, 2013
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When love turns deadly, the beloved play dead.
Western Maryland farm girl Kate Fallon wanted more than horse pastures. Now a trial lawyer in the affluent Annapolis law arena and married to multi-millionaire Jack Reynolds, also the U. S. Attorney of Maryland, she’s got it all—at least everyone thinks so.
Behind closed doors, Jack is as cruel as he is intelligent, as controlling as he is handsome. When his tirades turn physical, Kate must fight for her life. But her efforts to leave him will take her down a rabbit hole to secrets she doesn’t fully understand, and that Jack will kill to suppress.
Two years later, Kate’s keeping secrets of her own. Living as Charlie Robertson, a take-no-crap general contractor, she’s secure most days knowing her nightmare is right where she left him—two thousand miles due east under FBI scrutiny. Wielding a nail gun instead of a briefcase suits her, as does the small mining town of Creede, Colorado. With its scenic views and open spaces, life is simple and so are her rules: Lock all doors, check for signs she’s been followed, and don’t get involved romantically ever again.
Unfortunately, retired Navy SEAL and tourist Nick Foster didn’t get the memo. Mysterious, sexy, and powerfully attracted to Charlie, Nick typically likes things easy. Only “easy” isn’t in Charlie’s vocabulary, and neither is trust. Worst part is, she’s right not to trust him, and yet he can’t help falling for her. But love won’t save either one of them if she discovers his true identity or doesn’t give him what he came for. His boss won’t tolerate failure.
Seconds, Kate had seconds. She took down the hall, her options limited, and then her eyes locked onto her purse. Davey’s manila envelope had emerged from the bottom of her handbag, its corner now visible and catching her eye when she rounded the banister of the steps.
She needed to get to it.
“Kate, get your ass back here,” he bellowed down the hall, his chair clattering to the floor.
Her detour took five seconds—precious time if she wanted to escape him. The teeth on the zipper of her handbag bit into her palm. The throw rug at the bottom of the steps slid, and she fell to her knees. On all fours, she climbed the steps and froze when his hand snagged her foot. She kicked hard, and his hand fell away. She pushed up off the tread and continued the climb to the second level. If he caught her, he’d go straight for her purse. The fact she snagged it right in front of him made it a bull’s-eye. The envelope had sunk back into her purse, but once he dumped it, the envelope and its contents would be his focal point. And then she would be his next target.
She slammed the thick pine door of the master bedroom, hit the switch to the overhead light, and then reached up with quivering fingers to turn the antique-style key sitting in the lock. Her heart fluttered like wings taking flight, except there was nowhere to fly, nowhere to hide. The room seemed to twirl, and all she could do was stare.
The pounding of his fists brought her out of her stupor. “Open this door, or I’ll level it. Do you hear me, Kate?”
She had to stall. “Not until you calm down. You’re scaring me. I didn’t mean to spill the bottle.”
He laughed derisively. “Like hell, you were aiming for my head.”
Kate winced. Damn.
She scanned the dresser. No good. The mattress . . . he’d look there. Closet—forget it. She eyed the frame. It sat neglected against the back wall under the window sill, the watercolor of Thomas Point lighthouse. She had picked it up in the art gallery on Main the other day and had every intention of hanging it. But she hadn’t gotten around to it. She laid it down on the bed and sighed with relief. The back hadn’t been enclosed in brown paper.
She tried to clear her mind. Ignoring his verbal tirade and the blows against the door, she reached inside her purse, searching for her nail file. Her fingers became agitated—there was so much crap in her purse. Heart pounding, she grabbed the envelope and tossed the bag across the room. She dug her fingernail under the first tong and gritted her teeth when the metal slipped under her nail. A drop of dark blood appeared in the underside curve of her French manicure. She sucked her finger and ignored the bitter taste. If she left a fresh trail of blood on the frame, he’d become suspicious. She continued to struggle with every stubborn piece of metal until she could clear the cardboard back. She positioned the envelope in one corner, replaced the cardboard, and pressed flat the tongs.
How long had he been in the house? An hour, possibly? Enough time to thoroughly search it. She turned the frame around, moved past her bed, and placed the picture back in its exact location beneath the window. A loud crack brought her attention around. The entire doorframe tore from the wall. The door itself hung like a piece of split skin, still attached, but barely.
She swallowed hard as he charged her.
Headstrong horse rescue director Bren Ryan has been a red-headed streak of trouble for more than one man in Clear Spring. She’s grown up needling local “kill buyer” Wes Connelly, and since the sheriff ruled her husband’s sudden death an accident, Bren’s been investigating things herself. She’s certain Tom was murdered, and she’s hell-bent on cornering his killer the only way she knows how—by tempting him to do it again. And she’s the bait.
Rafe Langston came to Maryland looking for land and a fresh start. Or so he says. The sexy cowboy isn’t generous with details, but Bren couldn’t care less—until he buys half her farm at auction and moves into her childhood home. Suddenly, the last man she should befriend becomes her only ally in solving her husband’s murder.
Soon their cozy stakeouts sizzle with unexpected desire neither one can ignore, threatening his mysterious plans and her promise to never fall in love again—especially with a handsome stranger whose secrets could shatter what family she has left.
DEFIANT and RELENTLESS supports horse rescues around the world. With every purchase, a donation will be sent on your behalf to help with their mission of rescue, rehabilitation and education. Together we can end horse slaughter for good.
P. J. O’Dwyer is an award-winning author and an active member of Romance Writers of America. When asked where she gets her story ideas, she laughs ruefully and says, “It helps being married to a cop.” She lives in Maryland with her family. Visit her website at www.pjodwyer.com or www.blacksirenbooks.com.
Linked In: www.linkedin.com/pub/p-j-o-dwter.3a/633/825
Posted by Anne Patrick at 12:00 AM