Ambush in the Everglades Petie McCarty
Publication date: May 19th 2019
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense
Plenty of action-adventure in this romantic-suspense tale. Photographer Kayli Heddon is given the biggest assignment of her career—a photo essay on the Everglades Restoration—and a special airboat safari is arranged, so Kayli can get her pictures. What she doesn’t count on is being stranded alone in the Everglades with her handsome and unpredictable airboat guide. Kayli is forced to learn some tough lessons. Trust means everything in the dangerous River of Grass, and a skilled partner makes all the difference in your survival.
Skye Landers takes the airboat safari gig as a favor to his cousin who is called out of town. Skye doesn’t expect the governor’s photographer to catch his eye, but Kayli Heddon is unlike any woman he has ever met. He knows he should keep his distance, but common sense flies out the window whenever she gets near.
Unfortunately, Kayli thinks honesty is the most important thing in a relationship—any relationship—and Skye Landers is a fraud. When secrets surface from his past, Kayli and Skye are soon on the run from more than just alligators.
Skye muttered a soft curse and bent to pick up her watch. The clasp had broken and come apart.
“I can fix it,” he said, looking chagrined. He reached over and set the watch on the closest bench. “I’m sorry I grabbed your wrist.”
Kayli grinned. “I’m not.”
His apologetic expression changed to surprise and then darkened. His arm snaked out around her waist and pulled her tight against his chest. He stared into her eyes—no intensity now, like the other times when he held her close. Only questions clouded the green eyes, questions she wanted so badly to answer.
He cupped her cheek and rubbed his thumb across the corner of her mouth. Her emotions felt like a coiled spring, wound so tight if he let her go she would fly apart in all directions. She didn’t want him to let her go. Ever.
The first chime from the cell phone startled them both so bad they jumped.
Kayli gave him a wry smile. “It’s yours. I didn’t think we’d get a signal way out here so mine is still turned off.”
The second chime had him reaching for his phone, though he never took his eyes off her. “It might be Gray.”
Skye checked the screen. “It’s my cousin.” He flipped the phone open. “Jimmy. What’s up?”
Skye’s smile vanished like a distant star winking out in the night. “What?” he roared. A full second elapsed. “When?”
“What is it?”
He held up a hand to silence her. “I’m gonna kill him.”
She drew back. Skye’s voice sounded deadly. His hand clenched the cell phone so tight she feared he would crush it.
“What are you going to do?”
His cousin kept talking, and Skye’s expression grew pained.
A faint whine grew audible in the distance. “They’re here. I have to go.”
He shoved the phone in a pocket, grabbed Kayli’s hand, and sprinted for the airboat. Leaping over palmettos and tree roots and dodging half-buried cypress knees, they raced for their boat as the whine in the distance grew louder. Kayli recognized the whine as a second airboat. She couldn’t stop running if she wanted to, Skye had a death grip on her hand.
“Tell me what’s wrong,” she shouted, “and why are we running?”
Twenty more yards, and they reached the airboat. The approaching craft sounded closer by the second.
He dropped her hand to grab the bow line. “Get in the boat,” he ordered.
She stopped dead. “No.”
He whipped around with a fearsome glare.
“Not until you tell me why we’re running.”
This was so unlike the man she’d come to know over the last two days at close quarters. He looked . . . well, scared.
“Crane Tennapin is on his way here with drug runners to make a pick up.”
She felt the blood drain from her face. “Who is Crane Tennapin?”
“Another cousin, now let’s go.” He pushed on the bow of the airboat. “I’ve got to get you out of here. I’ll leave you at Sally’s.”
“I’m staying with you.”
“You can’t. I have to come back to help Crane.”
The whine grew louder and closer.
She froze. “You’re coming back to help a drug dealer?”
“Hell no!” he roared and softened his voice when she flinched. “Crane’s in over his head. He got mixed up with the Colombians before he knew about the drugs. Now they’re threatening to turn him in if he doesn’t help them with this drop.”
He motioned her over and held out a hand. “Come on, come on.”
“What if you don’t get back in time?” She couldn’t believe she wasn’t scrambling into the airboat.
He had her by the shoulders in two steps and stared hard in her eyes. “I can’t let anything happen to you.”
The emotion in his voice wrapped around her heart like long tentacles, and she couldn’t pull free. She didn’t want to.
Her arms flew around his neck, and Skye crushed her to his chest, his mouth hard against hers. A flood of emotion rifled through her unlike anything she’d ever felt in her life. She wanted to fold her soul into his and never let him go. She had wanted this can’t-let-you-go kiss from the moment she laid eyes on Skye. She wanted the kiss to last forever.
Precious seconds were squandered. The airboat whine grew louder, and his head jerked up.
“There’s no time to get me out.”
No way would she leave him, not with drug runners coming. She might never see him again.
He pulled back and gazed into her eyes. “You have to trust me.”
She nodded. “What’re you going to do?”
“Sink the airboat.”
Petie spent a large part of her career working at Walt Disney World -- "The Most Magical Place on Earth" -- where she enjoyed working in the land of fairy tales by day and creating her own romantic fairy tales by night, including her new series, The Cinderella Romances. She eventually said good-bye to her "day" job to write her stories full-time. These days Petie spends her time writing sequels to her regency time travel series, Lords in Time, and her cozy-mystery-with-a-dash-of-romantic-suspense series, the Mystery Angel Romances.
Petie shares her home on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee with her horticulturist husband and an opinionated Nanday conure named Sassy who made a cameo appearance in No Angels for Christmas.