An abusive childhood and an accident in his teens left stallion-shifter, Malcolm Patterson, with a distrust for his father and a lot of holes in his memory. When his dad passes away, Malcolm returns to Horse Mountain to fulfill his obligation to settle his old man’s affairs but finds the shifter community’s near hero-worship of the late doctor disquieting. He’s further shaken to meet a curvy beauty at the funeral who makes his heart gallop and his primal instincts take over.
Suki Marks has been in love with handsome and noble Malcolm Patterson ever since he saved her from bullies who called her an abomination when she was ten. He was the first person to be straight with her about the reasons some people shunned her family and was quick to debunk those prejudices as the ignorant folktales and stupid superstitions they were. Even after Malcolm graduated high school and left town, she couldn’t forget him, but becoming Doctor Patterson’s live-in nurse in his last year of life was a coincidence. She never expected to be named in the wealthy physician’s will.
Malcolm assumed he’d be disinherited, but even from the after-life, his father continues to turn the knife, using his will to set up an elaborate scheme to taint Malcolm's feelings for the woman who might be his fated mate. To make matters worse, a dangerous shifter-purist movement is brewing among a small segment of the Horse Mountain Clan, and they’re determined to prevent Suki from passing on her genes to a new generation. Will Malcolm be able to work through his past in time to secure his and Suki’s future?
Warning: Saving Suki is a smoking hot romance with graphic, put-you-in-the-moment love scenes. If you're offended by sexual language, you might want to consider another book. The book can stand alone without reading the others in the series.
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A sorrowful expression crossed her face and he knew he’d already said too much about his unusual upbringing. As he contemplated a way to lighten the mood again, she found the answer without saying a word, reaching up to her shoulder and placing her hand over his. A squeezing sensation in his chest complimented the haze rolling over his rationality. So many mixed emotions vexed him since his return, especially the anger and regret he’d tried his best to lock away. Her tiny gesture and light touch sent all the pain scurrying. Warmth bloomed over his knuckles and radiated up his arm, gaining intensity and burning the hottest across his torso.
“You’re putting on a brave face, but how are you really holding up?”
Her words pricked at his brain as he breathed in her sumptuous fragrance. “Umm…honestly, if I try to think about my father being gone forever, I feel a bit numb.” As his own words hung in the air, an odd, sour sensation stirred in his stomach. Why the hell did I tell her that?
He hated thinking about his dad. Imagining how things could have been if they’d reconciled seemed useless since he'd never admitted he’d always wanted the old buzzard’s love. He sure as hell didn’t want to talk about his contradictory emotions on the subject, but even still he could hear his stupid mouth dropping more of his secrets like a huge drain sending washed-away filth out of the shower.
“Things were never good between us and during the entire funeral, I felt like a fraud.”
“The parent-child relationship is often a complicated one.” She rested her head on his shoulder while tucking herself in closer to his side, another comforting gesture that somehow had him ready to spill his guts to this woman he barely knew.
“No kidding. I know I’m supposed to be devastated…I can’t seem to muster up much feeling on his passing at all.” Why, why, why! Why can’t I keep my big trap shut around her? She’s going to think I’m a fucking sociopath.
“Perhaps you will when the shock wears off a little,” she replied.
“Maybe, but I doubt it. I know it sounds bad, but my dad wasn’t the man that all those people today thought he was. If they knew half of what he was really like…Shit, I must sound like a huge asshole. I’m sorry. I don’t even know why I’m telling you this stuff.”
She patted his knee. “Because you need to talk to someone and I’m here.”
Wrong! Wrong! If I wanted to dredge up all this bullshit until I choke on it, I’d be talking to Dash and Mama Carol; they know the real deal. Part of him wanted to call it a night if only to end the uncomfortable conversation, but his body wouldn’t cooperate. His heart raced as he swallowed the lump in his throat. Normally, the horse inside him would have been ready to bolt, but at this moment, the damn thing was more like a mule, digging its hooves in and refusing to budge.
“It’s not like I’m happy he’s gone. It’s more like I can’t force myself to feel sad about it.”
In 1996, three-year-old Maisie Matthews is abducted from a holiday resort in Spain. Twenty-three years later, someone is following romantic novelist, Anna Blake.
As Anna tries to discover her stalker’s identity, she finds herself embroiled in the mystery of the missing child. But finding answers only brings more questions and Anna becomes suspicious of the men in her life: Damien Davies, who has a grudge against her; old flame, Ewan Jacobs, who wishes to resume their relationship; and enigmatic Josh Fielding, who has recently moved into the village.
As events escalate and the search becomes a matter of life and death, Anna even doubts the people who are closest to her. Everyone is hiding something. Who is telling the truth?
How does she know Who To Trust?
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Under cover of night, the doctor slipped through the door and into the hospital. The reception area stood eerily empty in the half-gloom. Drink and confectionary machines stood silent as sentries; shuttered shop facades were the only witnesses.
The doctor strode down the deserted hospital corridor, stethoscope bumping in rhythm against the crisp, white coat. Without warning, a whey-faced nurse appeared from around a corner. A brief stab of panic, a slight nod of acknowledgement, then the woman was gone. Nothing to fear. Another turn; another empty space. Not far to go now.
Maternity ward. A moment’s hesitation before peering through the glass. A stroke of luck. The nurses’ station was unmanned. A bolt of elation fired renewed hope. It was possible. The doctor straightened, shoulders back, a figure of authority, before using a key card to gain entry. No-one saw. The murmured hum of voices drifted from the bay at the far end of the ward. Perfect. It was fate; it was meant to be.
The doctor crept into the nearest bay, enveloped in darkness. Only one bed was in use, a grey mound silently sleeping. A wheeled crib stood beside it. The baby girl briefly opened her eyes wide, pools of blue innocence, as the doctor loomed over her. An intake of breath. Waiting … The eyelids fluttered and closed. It had to be now. Slowly, gently, the doctor pushed the crib to the entrance of the bay and peered stealthily around the curtain. The coast was clear. Another deep breath. Now or never.
With a burst of feigned confidence, the doctor wheeled the sleeping infant out of the ward and along the corridor. The hardest bit was done. Swiftly along to a storeroom by the stairs at the rear of the hospital. Empty. A quick glance around. No-one there.
Abandoning the crib behind the door of the storeroom, the doctor cradled the baby, crooning softly. ‘Nearly there, my lovely.’
Down the stairs, the click of shoes beating a guilty tattoo and out into the night …
Later, looking back, I could pinpoint it exactly – a moment of silent recognition, a stab of disquiet. It was then. When it all started.
Driving to Norwich along the A47 in my black Fiesta, the sky benign with Mediterranean blues, I was unaware of what lay ahead. I’d turned off the dual carriageway, following the signs for the city centre and waiting at the first set of traffic lights. Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ was playing on the radio and I was belting it out when the words caught in my throat. That’s when it was – a glimpse of blue in my wing mirror. At the time, I didn’t appreciate the significance. But that was when the fear started and my life changed for ever.
Then, it gave me pause and I adjusted my rear-view mirror for a better look. It was an electric blue Peugeot 206. I frowned, turning my head, craning my neck to see more. A beep from behind jolted me forward, foot twitching against the accelerator pedal. The road was busy and we crawled forward to the next set of lights. Another look in my mirror. Impossible to tell. The Peugeot was about six cars back and in the same lane. I was trying to see if it had a large dent on the nearside front bumper. As the lights changed again, I switched lanes and kept checking my wing mirror. After a few seconds, the Peugeot also pulled out; I could see the dent clearly. It was the same car. And it was following me. Again.
I’d first seen the car last Saturday, driving to Swaffham to visit my parents, noticing it only because they’d bought me one, the same colour and model, for my seventeenth birthday, nine years earlier. Since its sale, two years ago, when I bought my Fiesta, I’d looked out for my trusty, old car. On that occasion, I spotted the dent in the front bumper.
‘Poor Percy!’ I’d exclaimed, the name I’d christened it. ‘Have you had a bit of a bump with your new owner?’
As I reached the drive to my parents’ house, the Peugeot had continued onwards and I’d checked the number plate. It wasn’t Percy. If only I could remember the number. Unfortunately, as soon as I realised it didn’t start with AU, I’d dismissed it from my mind.
I noticed the Peugeot with the dented bumper behind me once again on route to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn where I was taking Edith Swainsthorpe, a client of mine, for a knee x-ray.
‘Obviously belongs to someone local,’ I observed to Edith after telling her the Percy story.
Having spotted the same car twice more that week, always behind me, I began to wonder, with creeping unease, if it was something other than coincidence. I started to look out for it every time I took to the road. Then, today, as I turned off the A47 towards the city, there it was again.
Still I couldn’t quite believe it. Why would anyone be tailing me? It must be a mistake. I clamped down on the first fluttering of panic and decided to use the next set of traffic lights as a test. They were red and I sat in the middle lane, heading for Norwich city centre, planning my move. When the lights turned green, I accelerated and indicated left, nipping in front of the white van beside me with an apologetic wave. My eyes flicked again to the rear-view mirror. The Peugeot had also manoeuvred across the lanes and now sat four cars behind me. I felt a surge of anger towards the unknown driver. Who was he? What did he think he was playing at? My fingers gripped the steering wheel as I pulled out to overtake a cyclist. The Peugeot remained, locked on to the rear of my Fiesta like a guided missile.
What could I do?
Anxiety stiffened my spine as I processed my options. Pull over; let him pass. My mind played out the scenario. The Peugeot might pull in behind, prompting a confrontation. The thought of that held little appeal. Maybe it would continue past me and lie waiting, further ahead – a nerve-tingling game of cat and mouse. I didn’t like that idea either. Another option would be to do nothing, to continue on to Chapelfield’s car park. Wait and see what happened. But car parks are dark, anonymous places where a person might easily disappear. The thought sent my pulse skittering. The remaining choice would be best. Somehow, I would lose him.
A rush of adrenalin, knuckles whitening. Images from film car chases flashed through my head – drivers shooting between cars, avoiding oncoming vehicles, tyres screeching, horns blaring. Don’t be silly, Anna. I wasn’t about to attempt anything like that. It would have to be something more subtle, slipping out of sight somehow before he realised. Think, Anna! The voice in my head sounded urgent, panicky. Despite the air-conditioning, droplets of sweat tickled my brow as I waited for my chance ...
Without indicating, I swung my car left down a tree-lined avenue and then first left again, veering wildly around a parked car and earning an angry blast on the horn from the vehicle coming the other way. I swerved left again and raced to the end of the street preparing to turn right, back to the traffic lights. Cars streamed ahead of me, coming from both directions, forcing me to screech to a halt. Another glance in the mirror. The blue Peugeot was just turning into the street, wary now, maintaining a distance between us, perhaps wondering if he’d been spotted. A tiny gap allowed me to shoot forward and take my place in the steady flow of traffic. This time the lights were green.
‘Come on, come on!’ I exhorted the drivers ahead of me. They were moving so slowly; the lights would change at any moment. Sure enough, the amber light flashed and the car in front of me braked, ready to stop. Then, at the last moment, the driver changed his mind and continued forward, deciding to risk it. As I also sped past, the lights had already changed to red. I checked my mirror; no blue Peugeot.
I exhaled, not realising until then that I’d been holding my breath. Still, my eyes flipped between the rear-view and wing mirrors. At any moment, I expected to see him behind me. Every red traffic light set my heart racing; the wait for a green light felt interminable; the fear he would catch up consumed my thoughts. Another look. No blue Peugeot. I shook my shoulders, trying to relieve the tension. Surely now I was safe.
As my breathing steadied, I started to feel a bit stupid. I’d over-reacted. Nothing in my recent sightings of the blue Peugeot suggested that the driver wished me harm, I reasoned. If he’d wanted to attack, abduct or kill me, there had been opportunities.
My fear had been amplified by panic. That happened. I’d suffered from anxiety for as long as I could remember. It crept up on me, sometimes stealthily but often unexpectedly, sheer, gut-wrenching terror which left my insides squeezed dry and my muscles stiff with knots.
Still, the voice in my head argued, he was definitely following me. Perhaps I should inform the police. Almost immediately, I dismissed the notion. What could they do? No crime had been committed and I had no clue to the identity of the driver. I couldn’t even tell them the registration number. No, I’d be wasting their time. After all, they’d been unable to do anything when Alice Drinkwater, another client, had been burgled while she lay asleep in bed.
‘They just gave me a number – a crime number, I think they called it – and told me they’d let me know if they recovered any of the stolen property,’ Alice wailed over a cup of tea, her many chins shaking with a combination of indignation and distress. ‘As if I’m worried about that. It’s the invasion of my home I’m worried about. I can’t bear to think of someone creeping about, rifling through my things, while I’m tucked up in my bed. I haven’t slept a wink since.’
Poor Alice. She had not been in the village very long and her husband of thirty-six years had recently left her for his PA. I did my best to reassure her, stayed with her while a locksmith changed the locks and put her in touch with the Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator. Apart from that, there was little, it appeared, anyone could do.
I reached Chapelfield’s car park and reversed into a parking space. The dim, artificial lighting, the rumble of car engines and echoey thumps and rattles did little to soothe my frayed nerves. My mind might insist I was over-reacting but my body still quaked with pent-up fear. As I walked away from my Fiesta, I glanced nervously over my shoulder. The incident had shaken me, no question about it. A flash of blue in my peripheral vision made my heart lurch and muscles tense in anticipation. He was still following me; I hadn’t got away! I slipped through the glass doors and up the staircase leading to House of Fraser before I risked another look behind. No need to panic – it wasn’t him after all, not even a Peugeot.
‘Pull yourself together, Anna!’
An elderly woman walking towards me, laden with bags marked ‘Sale’ in big, red letters, gave me an odd look and I realised I’d uttered the words aloud.
‘Are you alright, love?’ she asked kindly. ‘You look very pale.’
‘I’m fine, thanks.’ I hurried on.
Why would someone be following me? Was he watching for a regular pattern, planning his move, deciding when best to pounce? If so, he’d soon discover I didn’t have a set routine. Most of my time was spent at home writing. I also did occasional, part-time work as a Girl Friday which meant I travelled when and wherever I was needed. These were usually one-off jobs; my writing schedule made me reluctant to commit to anything more regular. Today though, I wasn’t working. I’d driven the twenty-five-mile trip into Norwich for a shopping day with Madison, a close friend from university. A glance at my watch showed I was running late and I quickened my step.
Madison was waiting by the entrance to the café, her stocky frame leaning against the wall in an attitude of resignation. She was dressed casually in jeans and peering at something on her phone. With her shaggy, auburn curls, soulful, brown eyes and bouncy exuberance, she always reminded me of a spaniel puppy and the sight of her brought a smile to my face.
‘At last!’ she exclaimed as she greeted me with a hug. ‘I was wondering if you’d forgotten.’
‘Sorry.’ I clung to her a fraction too long. ‘Let’s get coffee. I’m buying.’
‘Is everything OK?’ Madison’s eyes narrowed as she stepped back. ‘You’re trembling!’
‘I’m fine.’ I flashed another smile, meant to reassure.
Her lips tightened as she watched me fumbling for my purse. Clearly, she wasn’t fooled but she waited until we were sitting at a corner table before interrogating me further.
‘OK,’ she said firmly as I clattered the tray onto the table. ‘What’s happened?’
She frowned, her raised eyebrows indicating disbelief.
‘Honestly, it really is nothing. I’ve probably just over-reacted to something, that’s all.’ As usual, I was reluctant to discuss my fears. I’d had a lot of practice at hiding things. My issues were a weakness I preferred to keep secret.
‘Anna, I’m sorry but I don’t believe you. Tell me what’s happened.’
I gave in. ‘You’re going to think I’m daft … the whole thing seems surreal now. Maybe I was just imagining it.’ I told her of my encounters with the blue Peugeot, concluding with today’s drama.
‘It could just be coincidence,’ Madison said slowly. ‘Have you told the police?’
‘No. It was only today I actually felt like I was being followed. Do you think I should?’
‘Maybe. It’s difficult when you have no evidence …’ She paused. ‘If you see that car parked anywhere near your house, you should definitely ring them … and you need to get the number plate.’
‘No kidding, Sherlock!’
‘Sorry!’ She gave me a rueful look. ‘If someone is following you, do you have any thoughts who it may be? I was listening to a programme on the radio the other week and they were talking about stalkers. Apparently, the majority are known to the victims, often ex-partners. Have you been out with any weirdos recently – anyone you haven’t told me about?’ She looked at me thoughtfully. ‘I know what you’re like. Men always make a beeline for you and you never have the heart to tell them to get lost.’
That was true. I’d even invented an imaginary boyfriend to put them off. Not all took rejection well.
‘You’ve been leading me on all night,’ one lad had sneered just a few weeks ago, slamming his beer glass down on the bar and pushing past me as he shuffled off. ‘Bitch!’
Disquiet at that latest incident came flooding back. What was his name? I couldn’t remember. Dave? That didn’t sound right but it was something like that. I was at a bar in Norwich with a group of friends from my spinning class. One of the girls, Fran, was celebrating her thirtieth birthday. The guy, whoever he was, had spent the evening telling me about his dad who had just been diagnosed with cancer. I’d tried to get away a few times but each time he’d forestalled me.
‘Just hang out with me for a bit longer, babe,’ he pleaded. ‘I don’t have anyone else to talk to and you’re a good listener.’
When he insisted on buying me another drink, I resigned myself to being a sympathetic ear for a little while longer. However, when he snaked his arm around my waist, I pulled away. That’s when I told him about Jeff, my boyfriend in the Marines whom I’d fabricated for just such occasions.
‘Is he here tonight?’ the guy asked belligerently. ‘If not, what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.’ He reached for me again and I spun away, irritated.
‘Sorry. Look, I’m here with friends,’ I said firmly. ‘I really must get back to them.’ He stalked off with a few more choice epithets. Could he have followed me home that night and been doing so ever since? The thought chilled my bones. It was terrifying to think someone I’d met might wish me harm.
‘What about that guy you went out with a while ago? You know, the gorgeous, dark one who was a bit off the rails. What was his name?’ Madison’s voice interrupted my thoughts.
‘Ewan Jacobs.’ I knew who she meant. He was good-looking and definitely wild. Our relationship was erratic, to say the least, and ended when I suspected he was taking drugs. He wasn’t one of my better choices. Now, I put it down to my rebellious phase.
‘Yeah, Ewan. I reckon he’d be the type to hold a grudge. He always acted like the world was against him. Had a bit of temper too … and you did finish with him, not the other way around.’
I filtered through the possibility. ‘No,’ I said, ‘I can’t see it. That was all done and dusted ages ago and I haven’t seen him since we broke up. Anyway,’ I smiled as something occurred to me, ‘it definitely couldn’t be him. You know what he was like. He wouldn’t have been seen dead driving an old, blue Peugeot!’
‘Good point. Well, I suppose it could be some random weirdo.’
‘Cheers for that happy thought.’
‘Sorry.’ She pushed back her chair. ‘Look, let’s go and hit the sales. A bargain will help you forget your troubles.’
My heart wasn’t really in it but I made an effort for Madison’s sake and relaxed as the day wore on. Initially, I found myself scanning fellow shoppers for anyone who might be paying me undue attention but soon wearied of the task. I’d never make a detective, I thought, trudging back to my car, laden with purchases, at the end of the day. Madison insisted on accompanying me to the car park and together we scoured the ranks of cars on the same level of the multi-storey. To my relief, there was no blue Peugeot with a dented bumper.
‘Right,’ said Madison, giving me a farewell hug. ‘If you see that car following you on the way home, I want you to turn around and come straight back to mine. Then we’ll phone the police together.’ She paused and gave me a stern look. ‘And make sure you’re extra vigilant at home too.’
‘Yes Mum.’ I tried for a confident smile but it fell a little short. In truth, my nerves had started jangling as the return journey loomed closer. I threw the bags onto the back seat of the car and slid behind the wheel. ‘I’ll phone when I get home.’
‘Make sure you do.’
Madison watched as her friend folded her tall, curvy frame into the driver’s seat and pushed her long, blonde hair behind her ears. With a final wave, Anna turned the key in the ignition and steered towards the exit.
‘Safe journey home,’ Madison called as the black Fiesta disappeared from view.
Balancing her many shopping bags on one arm, she reached for her phone from the capacious depths of her brown, leather handbag. As usual, prickles of guilt fluttered in her chest as she scrolled through her contacts.
‘Sorry Anna,’ she murmured while she waited for her call to be answered, ‘but it’s for your own good.’
"I could feel her heart beat
even though we were miles away"
Rescued from the only life she had ever known, Alannah Jackson learns what it means to be loved and not controlled. Finally able to let go of her past she begins a new life with the man who has shown her what love is. Faced with the truth, Alannah finds she can never escape her past or who she is. She will never love, only serve.
Roman’s love for Alannah is tested when he finds that she has been slaved by a man just as ruthless as Winston Nelson. Against his better judgement, he accepts Martin Holland’s offer to help retrain Alannah and he begins to question the love they shared. After Martin Holland makes it clear of his intentions, Roman stops at nothing to get her back. There is no room for another man in her life.
Contains adult content 18
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Businessman Cade King has fallen for the wrong woman. She's the daughter of a hitman, and he's the target.
After ten years of living in the shadow of the Irish mob, Gia Callaghan wants nothing more than to escape the darkness of her life. Her burning desire for answers about her past has her constantly plotting new ways to flee. When she comes face-to-face with the one man who might be able to help her, she'll have to decide exactly how much his life is worth.
Cade King's past is littered with questionable choices. He's made more mistakes than he can count, but he vows to be a better man.
When he meets Gia, his structured life turns upside down, and he must decide whether he's truly worthy of redemption. Can he protect a woman whose guard is even higher than his own, or will she end up saving him from himself?
As the tension and chemistry heat up between the two, they'll discover that life isn't always black and white.
A sizzling and suspenseful romance.
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When the Deringer pistol that shot Abraham Lincoln is stolen and ends up in the hands of a Russian military general, covert agent Blake Deco is tasked by the FBI to head to the Balkans to recover the historical weapon. Meanwhile, the United States media is abuzz with news of the mysterious disappearance of Hollywood movie star, Goldie St. Helen.
After Blake’s return from overseas, he receives a tip from a Mexican friend that a drug lord, obsessed with the beautiful actress, is holding her captive in Tijuana. With the help of a reluctant army friend, Blake mounts a daring rescue. What he doesn’t expect is to have feelings for Goldie—or that a killer is hunting them.
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The tall buildings around Washington, D.C.’s 10th Street overshadowed the historic Ford’s Theatre. Though the building had undergone refurbishment both inside and out, it still seemed slightly out of place in modern America. However, that didn’t stop the throngs of tourists visiting the building that June morning as wispy clouds threaded through the cerulean sky.
It was a crowded weekend day when Abraham Lincoln, in his overcoat, and two Union soldiers, their faces covered with bandanas, stepped out of the van. They meandered past the theater’s five historic doorways toward the modern glass entrance. Everyone assumed they were part of a promotion taking place at the museum. It was not uncommon to see park rangers and tour guides dressed in period costumes.
The man behind the Lincoln mask was Rick Walker—at least, that was the name he was currently going by. Highly educated, the thirty-six-year-old professional thief had a penchant for the fast life. If the assignment was a success today, he’d promised his girlfriend a nice holiday.
Two female park rangers stepped forward when Rick and his companions reached the front of the line.
“You have to get in line, sir. Also, you need to get tickets. Kindly remove the mask and bandanas before entering,” one of the park rangers said.
“I do apologize, madam, but I’m in a bit of a hurry,” Rick said. “I don’t think I need a ticket, nor do I have to get in line given who I am.”
“That’s the only way you’re going to get in,” the park ranger said.
“Well, if you insist, madam, and once again, please accept my apologies.” Rick bowed and tipped his hat, then extended a hand to the park ranger, who instinctively took it.
Rick grabbed her wrist tightly and locked it to his own with a steel cuff.
“What are you doing?” the park ranger yelled, trying to jerk her hand away.
“Getting acquainted,” Rick said.
The park ranger reached for the walkie-talkie strapped to her belt, but Rick snatched it away from her. Frantically, she turned to the other park ranger. “Get security!”
One of the two Union soldiers dropped his prop rifle and grabbed the other park ranger’s hand, then cuffed her wrist to his own. He pulled out a real gun tucked under his waistband and aimed it at her.
Rick unbuttoned the jacket of his three-piece suit and brandished the bomb strapped to his chest.
“Bomb! Bomb!” a young teenager in the line shrieked.
Pandemonium broke out as the screams of panic amplified. People ran in every direction. Those who moved slowly were slammed aside, or knocked over.
Rick pulled the ranger cuffed to him aside. “We’re going downstairs, and we’re going to take the Deringer. Obey your president,” he said in a hollow voice.
“Yes, sir,” the park ranger said as beads of sweat formed on her forehead.
They descended by elevator and emptied into an interactive museum. The wealth of history in the dimly lit space featured original artifacts in glass showcases, furniture, statues, murals, and narrative devices. The visitors already in the museum scattered wildly at the sight of a man in a Lincoln mask displaying a bomb strapped to his chest, a park ranger cuffed to his wrist.
“Show’s over, folks,” Rick yelled. “Go!”
The park ranger guided her captors to a section in the museum where the Deringer floated in an oblong glass case capped at both ends with wood. A mural behind it depicted John Wilkes Booth firing a single shot at Abraham Lincoln as he sat in the theater box.
The Union soldier not cuffed to a park ranger took out a glasscutter from his coat pocket and began to cut a circle in the glass. When it popped free, he inserted his hand inside and yanked out the Deringer.
“We’re going to take you with us. Don’t give me trouble. If you behave, you’ll be back home in time for dinner with the family,” Rick said, dragging the park ranger closer to him. “Understand?”
The park ranger nodded once, nervously.
“Excellent,” Rick said.
They exited through the theater’s main door and stepped out into the empty street. The crowd had dispersed. Some had regrouped tensely a few hundred meters away at both ends. “Cheer up—it’s going to be a fun day,” Rick said, walking toward the van.
The park ranger with Rick raised her voice. “Please, please, let us go. I don’t want to die.”
“Well, behave and everything will be fine.” He opened the side, forced her in and jumped in after her. He shut the door after the accomplice had climbed in with the second park ranger.
The van began to move off.
“Hallelujah!” Rick yelled in excitement behind the mask as he sat at the back of the van. He removed the cuff from his wrist and secured the park ranger onto a railing.
“We’ll be arriving in five,” the driver said after a few blocks. “You know what to do.”
“I sure do,” Rick said as he removed the bomb strapped to his chest. Still wearing the mask, he looked at the hostages. “Don’t worry about the bomb, it’s fake.”
He unhooked a tote bag from the wall and began removing the contents. Facing away from the hostages, he removed the Lincoln mask and slipped into casual attire. He hid his face by putting on a red baseball cap and a pair of dark shades then stuffed the costume into the bag and swung it over his shoulder.
Rick looked again at the park rangers. “Look on the bright side—now you get to tell visitors a different story at the museum.”
The Union soldier in the back with him handed over the Deringer, which Rick slipped into the bag.
The driver slowed down and stopped behind a parked car.
“All good outside?” Rick asked.
“Yeah…all good. I parked a few cars behind us,” the driver replied, looking at the side mirror.
“Okay. Nice doing business with you guys.” Rick pulled open a trapdoor in the center of the floorboard, slid out, and slithered under the parked car in front of the van.
The van pulled away from the curb and sped down the street. After a minute, Rick rolled onto the road, got up, and walked toward the park at Judiciary Square on the Red Line and descended into the Metro.
A day later, Rick sat at a café with his eyes glued to the screen of a laptop, drinking a hot latte with his back against the wall. He scanned the faces of everyone who entered. Though he wasn’t expecting trouble, he remained vigilant.
“Is it in yet?” the tall blonde sitting across from him asked.
He scratched the roughness of his stubble as he continued to stare at the screen. “Not yet.”
Moments later, the figures on his account changed. A new deposit had been registered: ten million dollars.
Rick lifted his eyes. “Darling.”
“Remember, we’re in a public place, so don’t scream.”
She leaned forward. “It’s in?”
Rick wriggled his eyebrows. “Pack your bags. We’re going on a holiday, as I promised.”
Dr Beth Nichols thinks she has been held captive by Edwin Evans for about 8 or 9 years now. Amidst her grief she often looks back and thinks about her fiancée Liam; theirs was the greatest romance of all. She lays awake at night staring at the one light bulb that is never switched off, and prays that he is still out there somewhere searching for her...
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MY HEAD IS pounding, and a bright light above ensures I quickly have to close my eyes again. Feeling nauseated, I lie still, using my other senses to try and recognise sounds or a particular aroma which could confirm to me that I am still in the accommodation unit. However, I can hear nothing at all; not even the usual birdsong, and there is an unaccountably earthy, damp smell. Suddenly curious, I fight sickness and confusion to sit up and take note of my surroundings.
I have no idea where I am. I am lying on top of a double bed. It is not the bed where I wrap myself contentedly around Liam. There is a duvet beneath me covered with a surprisingly clean-looking lilac flowery cover, which is complete with matching sheets and pillow cases. There does not seem to be any other furniture. There are no windows, and the bare bulb above my head is the only source of light.
Slightly panicky now and ignoring the increased hammering in my brain, I stand up shakily on the cold, concrete floor. The room is quite small, and I reach the only visible door after taking just a few steps. It is not the sort of door that I could break down. I turn the handle, but it refuses to yield.
I am locked in. I want to scream in fright, but stop myself at the last moment from sliding into rampant hysteria. I reason that whoever is keeping me in the room against my will would not want me making too much noise which might alert searchers to my location. I figure that I need to keep on the right side of my captor.
Dead Man's Hand
What happens when the deck is stacked against you…
From NFL rising-star prospect to wanted fugitive, Calvin Watters is a sadistic African-American Las Vegas debt-collector framed by a murderer who, like the Vegas Police, finds him to be the perfect fall-guy.
…and the cards don't fall your way?
When the brutal slaying of a prominent casino owner is followed by the murder of a well-known bookie, Detective Dale Dayton is thrown into the middle of a highly political case and leads the largest homicide investigation in Vegas in the last twelve years.
What if you're dealt a Dead Man's Hand?
Against his superiors and better judgment, Dayton is willing to give Calvin one last chance. To redeem himself, Calvin must prove his innocence by finding the real killer, while avoiding the LVMPD, as well as protect the woman he loves from a professional assassin hired to silence them.
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This time, it’s not a job.
After proving his innocence as a murder suspect, taking down an assassin, and being an instrumental part in solving a high profile murder, Calvin Watters believes he can finally move on—until Ace Sanders’ prison escape catapults him into action.
This time, it’s personal!
Something has always bothered Detective Dale Dayton about the arrest of Ace Sanders. Call it police intuition, but his inner ‘cop alarm’ keeps twitching. When Dale reopens the case, he’s introduced to new evidence that leads him into a political nightmare.
Who will play the Wild Card to survive?
While Calvin tracks Sanders across continents and into unknown, unfriendly surroundings, Dale remains in Vegas to uncover the truth behind police corruption, prison escapes and hired assassins. But Calvin and Dale must be vigilant, because there’s a deadly, new player in town.
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Calvin Watters laid his head back on the pillow, stretched out his long, muscular, dark-skinned body, then rested his hands behind his head. He released a sigh of pure pleasure, a sound he hadn’t made in a very long time. Calvin felt more relaxed than he had in years. Grabbing the remote, he flipped to ESPN just in time to see an exclusive interview with his former USC teammate, Toby Jenkins.
Rachel climbed into bed beside him wearing a sexy, black Victoria Secret lace and satin slip he’d never seen before, and nuzzled her head on his bare chest. The new, dark lingerie contrasted perfectly with her smooth, pale skin.
She snuggled him tightly, giving him light, butterfly kisses on his arms and rock-hard abdomen. Calvin could feel her warm breath on his skin and it stirred him deep within.
Calvin smiled. “You’re in a good mood tonight.”
She continued to kiss his body, moving upwards towards his neck before planting a deep, passionate, wet kiss on his lips. She gently bit his bottom lip and tugged on it playfully. She pulled away and smiled.
“Wow, what brought that on?” he asked.
“I’m just really happy. And it’s all because of you.”
“I can see that. What did I do?”
“Everything we’ve planned, dreamed about, is coming true.”
Calvin nodded. “It’s not a fairy tale, but even I couldn’t have predicted things would be this good. Did you think a former leg-breaker and ex-hooker would make the perfect couple, the perfect team?”
“Never doubted it for a second.”
Calvin gently touched her chin, tilting Rachel’s head up so that he could look into her electric-blue eyes. The admiration in her gaze was all he needed to know how she felt about him. He loved the way it made him feel.
“You are my knight in shining armor,” she joked, nestling in tight.
Calvin liked the way that felt, too. It hadn’t taken them long to become completely comfortable with each other since that first night. They’d been through so much together in such a short time.
An improbable match made in heaven. They’d both ended up on the streets of Vegas, running away from a troubled past and looking for brighter lights.
Rachel, alone on the streets with no friends or prospects, had turned to prostitution, leaving home and an abusive stepfather.
Calvin believed that had she remained there, without his help, she’d have ended up another statistic. No happy endings, no Cinderella stories on the streets of Vegas. “Pretty Woman” was complete fiction.
Calvin’s downward spiral had started with his career-ending injury at USC. The torn ACL had taken several surgeries just to allow him to walk. He’d lost his full scholarship and fell into a pool of self-denial and self-loathing. He never thought he’d ever get out of that rut.
Their chance meeting turned both their lives around. They’d encouraged each other, and made sure they’d succeed.
Rachel rested her head on Calvin’s chest and released a soft, muffled sigh of complete and intense pleasure. “What’s on?”
“Just an interview with my former college teammate. They’re doing a documentary on Jenkins, how he became a great NFL running back.” Calvin tried not to sound bitter, but how could he not? Even though he’d gotten over it, turned his life around and moved on, there was still a sour taste in his mouth from how it had gone down.
“Wasn’t he your backup at USC?” She watched Jenkins sprinting down the football field on TV.
“Yep. I was the starter, and he sat on the bench watching me break records.He couldn’t carry my jockstrap back then. Now he makes eight million a season for the Chargers. If I hadn’t been so selfish, and had done what was best for the team, that would be me.”
“Please, let’s not get into this again.” Rachel turned her head and looked at Calvin. She smiled and winked, running the back of her fingers down the middle of his chest and underneath the blankets.
“You’re much sexier.”
“I’m over it.”
He wrapped his arms around her and rolled over, pressing his lips firmly against hers. Their bodies melted into each other.
He gently kissed her neck and slid the black satin strap off Rachel’s shoulder, kissing a spray of collar bone freckles, moving his tongue lightly down to her breast, and gently sucking on an erect nipple. He pulled himself back as much as he could, trying to take things slowly, but he had the urge to rip the slip completely off and take Rachel immediately.
A sharp warning buzz from the TV startled him. “We interrupt this regularly scheduled program for a special, emergency news bulletin.”
Calvin ignored the report and returned his attention to his hotter-than-hell girlfriend, ready and waiting. Rachel’s trust and loyalty was all he needed. But in the back of his mind, he had the temporary satisfaction of knowing that Toby Jenkins’ interview was being interrupted. Okay, maybe he wasn’t completely over it.
“This just in—Derek Baxter, a former United States Marine, escaped military confinement and is now on the run.”
The name jolted his bones. Calvin turned and Rachel sat up. He grabbed the remote and raised the volume.
A newscaster appeared on the screen. “Baxter was wanted in connection to the shooting death of a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officer last year. After a week-long man hunt, he was brought into custody by the United States Military, because of an outstanding, special, high-priority warrant against him.”
Rachel let out a low screech. She grabbed Calvin’s arm. “What’s going on?”
Calvin raised his hand to quiet her, so he could hear the report.
“Baxter had been a highly-decorated officer who received two purple-hearts during two military tours. At one time, Derek Baxter was considered the military’s top sniper, elite class, before a being dishonorably discharged in 2005.”
A picture of Baxter flashed on screen. The pale face and dead eyes brought up a storm of emotion. Calvin’s heartbeat quickened.
Rachel put her hand to her mouth. “Oh, my God. That’s the guy who tried to kill us.”
Calvin’s jaw muscles tensed. He swallowed hard. A lump formed in his stomach as pain flared in his chest. Baxter’s picture brought back vivid memories. No matter how much mental weeding Calvin tried to do, that bastard had left a lasting impression.
“Baxter was last seen at an airport in Fallbrook. Local authorities say the ex-marine could be headed anywhere, is armed and considered extremely dangerous. Anyone with information should contact…”
Calvin shut off the TV.
“Fallbrook is in California. Is Baxter coming back for us?” Rachael asked.
Calvin shook his head. “I don’t think so. He wouldn’t do anything that stupid.” But he knew he didn’t sound convincing, because he wasn’t sure. He knew Derek Baxter, had a deep connection with the man, and the professional assassin was capable of anything.
He probably still held a grudge over what Calvin had done to him.
Rachel shook. “We shut down our lives because of that guy. We spent four days locked up, hiding from both the police and that psycho.”
“I can’t do it again.” Tears moistened her eyes.
Calvin reached for her narrow shoulders and pulled her in close.
She buried her head into his chest. He could smell the Jasmine shampoo she used in her sandy-blond hair as her warm tears traced over his skin.
“You don’t have to, Rachel. Baxter isn’t coming back. He’d be crazy to. The whole country is searching for him. He’ll probably disappear and never be heard from again.” But Calvin knew first-hand just how crazy Derek Baxter really was—and he was that crazy.
Rachel pulled away. “Are you sure?”
He looked into her tear-soaked eyes, trying to remain composed.
He felt queasy, his palms sweaty and his breathing labored.
“I’m gonna call Dale.”
He tried not to look or sound worried, but that’s all he felt.
With the death of her father…
Officer Charlene Taylor has received her dream promotion—working Homicide with the LAPD. Her first case is the high-profile murder of Ken Anderson, a playboy UCLA professor with a haunted past. A mafia kingpin, billionaire tycoon, cheated wife and jaded lover are only a few on a long list of suspects, all with motive and opportunity.
…all hope of reconciliation is lost.
Not only does she feel the pressure from media and her boss to solve her first case, but Charlene must also deal with her father’s murderer, the “Celebrity Slayer,” a serial killer who enjoys baiting her with his knowledge of her life and routines.
Can a rookie detective work two high-profile cases and still keep her sanity?
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He pulled the old Honda into the dark, abandoned alley, killed the lights, and cut the engine. Even with the windows up, the stench of urine, vomit, and waste assaulted him. The steady, dismal downpour did nothing to conceal it.
The slow, light drizzle had not diminished the latest LA heat wave, but with its subtropical-Mediterranean climate, rain was a welcomed event.
Parked next to a rusty, dented blue dumpster, Martin Taylor adjusted his Dodger hat, his alert eyes scanning the deserted area.
There was nothing to see except three cinder-block, graffiti-designed walls, as the disinvested buildings had been gutted and vacated. The only sound was the relentless hum of Asian music from the back door of a Chinese takeout restaurant.
He didn’t like it. He was almost trapped within the u-shaped alley, with nowhere to turn his vehicle. He’d thought about backing in because, as it was, any chance of a quick, clean getaway would be impossible. But he needed this lead. Not just for the city, but for his ego.
He checked his watch. He was ten minutes early, so Martin took the time to think about the phone call that had lured him to the area known as Skid Row, in downtown Los Angeles.
He remembered the downtown as it was in the ’70s, when the sites and attractions drew both residents and tourists, but the economic downturn had changed all of that. From where he sat, he could hear the city’s Metro rapid transit system running throughout the night.
Now there was a new threat in town: The Celebrity Slayer, so dubbed by the media.
The serial killer was devastating the city, taking lives and leaving angry, malicious scenes—scenes that also left behind no criminal evidence to sort.
He was killing ‘B’ list celebrities, but his actions, his talents, were anything but ‘B’ list. The LAPD’s resources were running dry trying to find the guy. T, but the media was having a field day. The paparazzi, ETalk, Entertainment Tonight, Radar Online, were playing to the madman’s ego, feeding his narcissistic personality.
He had become a celebrity overnight.
Less than an hour ago, a call had come in on Martin’s cell phone, someone claiming to have pertinent information concerning the
Celebrity Slayer file. He was given this address. But he still couldn’t figure out how a stranger had gotten his unlisted number. That alone chilled him to the bone, but in this day and age, the internet was a highway of information and anyone could get anything. It wasn’t always a positive advancement.
Movement to his left. His eyes moved quickly, darting like a cat pouncing on a mouse.
He threw on the headlights but the beams didn’t cover the side wall. When he saw a form appear out of the shadows and approach the vehicle, Martin rolled down his window and touched his shoulder holster. Then the body moved into the light, and Martin released the grip on his pistol handle.
“What are you doing here?” Martin asked, a look of both concern and surprise registering on his face. He looked around the alley. “Is Charlie here? Did you follow me?”
When his questions went unanswered, Martin felt a strange sensation rise in his chest. Something was wrong, out of place.
That’s when he knew. His neck tingled and the hairs sprung on his arms.
He went for his gun a second too late. The killer had a silenced weapon drawn, and had stuck it through the open window frame.
“It can’t be you.” Martin realized the words came out as more of a statement than a question.
“Where’s the file?” the man asked in a curt voice.
“What file?” Stall him.
But when he looked into the eyes of the deranged killer, Martin Taylor saw that deep in the back of those eyes a hatred darker than night burned, and a homicidal maniac struggled for release.
How could I have missed it?
The last thing he thought before feeling the burning sensation of hot lead was that his daughter was in grave danger.
Jack Gard and Catlyn Lyte become friends in high school. Although he cares for Catlyn, Jack refuses to get into a relationship with Catlyn, due to her age. Then Catlyn is raped and her world is torn apart when Jack sides with his best friend. Devastated, Catlyn flees Newburgh, NY.
25 years later, someone is raping and killing young black females in Jack Gard, Chief of Detectives' hometown. Working against an escalating killer, Jack requests help from a special division of the FBI.
Enter Supervisory Special Agent Catlyn Lyte. She has always done her job well but is wary of working with someone she doesn't trust. Sparks fly between the two officials as Catlyn puts herself in the path of their quarry.
Can two ex-friends bury their differences to solve not only the mystery of the Newburgh Slasher, but also the one that ruined their budding romance 25 years ago?
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Miles Lundy, a decorated detective from New Jersey is a stand-up guy…. on paper. He lands his dream job right out of college and manages to work his way up within the Police department by the time he’s thirty-five despite the odds stacked against him. He eventually marries the love of his life, Shayne and proceeds to make a life for himself and his wife. Miles has knack for trying to always do the right thing. His only vice is his weakness for the ladies. With an addiction to the feminine physique and a reputation for loving, leaving and moving on to the next, drama ensues.
Shayne has managed to look the other way for years when faced with her husband’s indiscretions. But how many second chances does it take to get to fed up? Shayne un covers yet another of Miles' infidelities, but this one proves to be far more damaging than she could have imagined. Slowly, Shayne’s sanity starts to slip away and a Savage is born. Sick of playing the victim, She sets out to seek sweet revenge stopping at nothing to show Miles’ how expensive the cost of screwing over the wrong woman can be. A deadly course of events brings Miles face to face with his sins leaving him waist deep in a web of lies, betrayal and Murder. Will Miles have the strength to fight his demons and be the man that he set out to be, or will karma have something a little different in mind?
Lashae Latimore a fresh new author on the scene, refers to her style of writing as the cross between the vivid storytelling of Mary Monroe and the gritty urban feel of Terri Woods. Using her love for the African American fiction genre as the driving force, Lashae hopes to bring a new flavor to the African American Fiction genre.
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