Friday, December 9, 2022

Enjoy an Excerpt from Chocolate Mousse Attack by Sally Berneathy

$3.99

Amazon

Book 4 in DEATH BY CHOCOLATE series
from USA Today Bestselling Author, Sally Berneathy

A phone call at two a.m. is never good news. But there’s bad news and then there’s strange news. Lindsay’s two a.m. call is a plea for help. There’s a woman in Fred’s closet and he can’t get her out.

Their new neighbor, Sophie Fleming, has taken up sleepwalking, straight into Fred’s house and his bedroom closet. She’s having nightmares about the brutal stabbing of a little girl named Carolyn. But Carolyn was her imaginary childhood friend.

Lindsay, Fred, Trent, Paula and Henry must solve a twenty-year old murder with no bodies, no DNA and no proof the victims ever existed.

How can someone who never lived be murdered? Why is Sophie seeing it happen in Fred's bedroom? Why is she hiding in his closet? Will his clothes even fit her?



Chapter One


Kansas City in August. People vacation in hell because it’s cooler there.
The air conditioning in my Death by Chocolate kitchen shot craps just before noon on a 102/90 day…a hundred and two degrees, ninety percent humidity. My shop is actually in Pleasant Grove, a suburb of Kansas City, but it’s all the same in terms of weather.
By the time I got home that afternoon my T-shirt, shorts and face were streaked with sweat and chocolate, and my ponytail was a mass of red frizz.
The thought of meeting somebody I’d never met before ranked way down on my wish list, somewhere between sitting in a sauna for an hour while wearing a fur coat and going on a date with my ex-husband.
So when I saw Fred, my next-door neighbor, standing on the porch of the formerly vacant house across the street, talking to a woman, I hesitated, torn between nosiness and a desire to rush into my house, strip off my clothes and stand in the shower until the cold water ran out.
The house across the street had been vacant for years except for assorted rodents and roaches and Paula’s ex-husband who briefly hid in the attic to spy on her. But I guess that last part’s redundant. He qualifies for either of the first two categories.
A couple of months ago workmen suddenly converged on the three-story structure and launched into an extensive renovation. The jungle of trees, bushes and weeds became a sedate lawn. They painted the house a blue gray color, then the fish scale siding white and the gingerbread trim maroon. The house used to remind me of an elegant, aging dowager who’d seen better days. After the redo, it looked like a regal Victorian lady in her best ball gown.
And Fred, who was half hermit, half nerd and half mystery man (yes, I know that equals one and a half, which is a perfect description of Fred) was standing on the front porch of that house, talking to a beautiful woman, probably the new owner.
For a fleeting instant I considered giving in to curiosity, dashing over and insinuating myself into the conversation in a friendly, welcome-to-the-neighborhood sort of way. But then a gust of oven-hot wind blew a stray wisp of hair onto my cheek where it stuck in the sweat and chocolate. I took that as a sign.
I ducked my head and kept walking from my doddering garage toward my slightly more stable house. There’s a time for curiosity and a time for hiding. Hair stuck to the cheek is a time for hiding.
I had my foot on the first step of my front porch when I heard Fred call my name. I won’t say he has eyes in the back of his head because that would be silly. His hair would get in the way. But he does have a way of seeing everything going on around him.
I peeled the bit of hair from the sweat on my face, tucked it into my pony tail, squared my shoulders and walked across the street, down the brand new sidewalk and up to the brand new wraparound porch with pristine white columns.
Fred’s white hair, like the white columns, was immaculate as was everything else about him. He wasn’t even perspiring. The afternoon sun glinted off the lenses of his black framed glasses as he turned to me. I preferred his old wire frames but he listened to my opinion about as often as my cat did. “Lindsay Powell, this is our new neighbor, Sophie Fleming.”
Sophie smiled, teeth white and sparkling against olive skin, and extended a slender, well-manicured hand. She was beautiful, even up close. She had flawless skin and a smooth curtain of long dark hair with no sign of frizz even in the heat and humidity. Although she’d obviously been unpacking, her beige shirt and khaki shorts looked fresh and barely rumpled. Standing next to Sophie, I felt even grungier than I had a few minutes ago.
I accepted her hand. Cool and dry. Of course it was. “Welcome to the neighborhood.” I smiled, hoping I didn’t have spinach stuck in my teeth. I hadn’t eaten any spinach that day, but Sophie’s perfection made me worry anyway. “Place looks great.”
“Thank you.” She glanced back at the house. “This has been a labor of love. My parents and I lived here when I was a little girl. Part of our rent was to fix the place up. My dad was good at that. He did quite a bit of work before…” She hesitated for a brief instant, and it seemed a cloud passed between the sun and her face. Of course it didn’t. Not in August. “Before we moved to Nebraska,” she continued. “It broke my heart to find it had become so rundown.”
We knew all that already, of course, thanks to Fred’s prowess on the Internet. Well, we knew she and her family moved to Nebraska when she was five. We didn’t know why that cloud came over her face when she talked about it. Assuming there really was a cloud. Maybe I was just looking for some slight imperfection in my new neighbor so I wouldn’t have to hate her.
“We’re very glad you’ve returned.” Fred smiled.
Dirty old man.
“Yes, we are.” I really was. I liked her instinctively in spite of her being gorgeous and having straight hair and enough money to restore the house to showplace condition and not sweating in the heat.
“As soon as I get everything unpacked and set up, I’d love to have both of you over for dinner and a tour of the place, if you’d like.”
“We’d like! Fred will bring wine because he’s a connoisseur and I’ll bring dessert because I’m chocolatier.”
She beamed. “Wonderful.”
“Since you’re still in the process of all that unpacking, why don’t you come to my house on Saturday night for a cookout? You can meet another of your neighbors, Paula, and my boyfriend, Trent.”
She beamed even more brightly. “I’d love to. What can I bring?”
“Just yourself. Moving into a new house qualifies you for a pass.”
Fred and I left her to continue her unpacking.
“Do you think you should have checked with Paula before committing her to Saturday night?” Fred asked as we strolled across the street. “Maybe she has plans.”
“Are you kidding? Paula’s only plans for Saturday nights are to stay home and watch Toy Story with Zach for the hundredth time.”
“You didn’t ask me if I had plans.”
“Do you?”
“None I can’t change for a chance to have dessert at your place.”
I grinned. “Right answer.”
“I think Sophie was grateful for the invitation.”
“Probably. New in town, doesn’t know anybody yet. She may not be so grateful once she gets to know us.”
“She seems nice,” he said.
“You like her.”
He frowned. “Of course I like her. She’s done nothing to merit my dislike. I even like you in spite of the number of things you’ve done to merit my dislike.”
I scowled at him. “Name one thing I’ve done that my chocolate doesn’t compensate for.”
“Did you bring home anything?”
“Chocolate chip cookies. Your favorite.”
“I’m making spaghetti with homemade pasta and garlic bread. It should be ready in about two hours.”
“I’ll be there with chocolate on and sweat off.”
I went to my house and Fred went to his.
King Henry, the cat who adopted me shortly after I moved in, ran to greet me as soon as I opened the front door. He rubbed against my leg and looked up with big blue eyes. He didn’t care if I was stinky and sweaty. Fred loves me for my chocolate and Henry loves me for my can opener. It’s good to be loved.
*~*~*
I slept really soundly that night. Meeting Sophie and knowing she was living in what used to be a creepy old house somehow made the neighborhood feel safer. Being in an air conditioned bedroom after the heated kitchen probably helped too.
When the sound of Wild Bull Rider pulled me from a deep sleep, I sat bolt upright in bed, heart pounding, and grabbed for my phone. Wild Bull Rider is Fred’s ringtone. I don’t know that he’s ever ridden any wild bulls, but I don’t know that he hasn’t. One thing I did know, he never called after ten o’clock at night or before nine in the morning. My clock clearly said two a.m. No good news ever comes at two in the morning.
A thousand horrible possibilities flitted through my mind in the second it took to accept the call.
Aliens had come to take Fred back to his home planet and he was calling to say good-bye.
A burglar had broken into his house, stolen his phone and was pocket-dialing me.
Fred had awakened with a sudden craving for brownies.
Ridiculous, of course, but nothing compared to the reality.
“Lindsay, I need you to come over here.” His voice was firm, his words precise, but I detected an edge of panic.
“Are you all right? Are you hurt? Have you fallen and can’t get up?” Fred wasn’t young, but he wasn’t old either. He’d always seemed ageless and invulnerable. The thought that he might be hurt and need my help clenched my heart into a cold, painful knot.
“Do you remember Sophie Fleming, the woman who moved into the house across the street?”
“Did you call me at two a.m. just to test my memory? Yes, I remember her. Brunette with hair down to her butt and no perspiration on her brow. Did I pass the test? Can I go back to sleep now?”
“No. I told you I need you here. Sophie Fleming won’t come out of my closet.”
It’s often difficult to tell if Fred’s being funny or serious. His expression and tone rarely change. I couldn’t see his expression at that moment, and his tone was calm but with just a hint of desperation. I decided to play it straight.
“Why is Sophie Fleming in your closet?”
“If I knew the answer to that question, I wouldn’t be calling you.”
“Which closet is she in?” I didn’t suppose it made a lot of difference, but I was trying to get a picture of what the heck was going on at Fred’s house.
“My bedroom closet.”
“Is this some kind of kinky sex thing?”
“Lindsay, if you ever again want me to help you break into somebody’s house or hack into a website illegally or get a speeding ticket erased from the system, you need to stop asking stupid questions and get over here. Now.” He hung up.
Fred’s more than capable of dragging one or more people out of his closet and tossing them on their butt in the street, but a beautiful woman apparently had him completely freaked out. This was the closest I’d ever known him to get to all-out panic mode.
I swung my feet out of bed and onto the hardwood floor. Henry, sleeping off a catnip binge on the foot of my bed, lifted his head, opened one blue eye and gave a questioning meow but was back asleep before I could answer. Good thing. I didn’t relish trying to explain something to him that I didn’t understand.
I sleep in an old T-shirt Rick threw out because it was faded and ratty. The years hadn’t improved its condition, but it was big and comfortable and would do for a night time visit. I grabbed a pair of shorts and pulled them on then hurried downstairs, making a quick detour through the kitchen to grab a Coke and a plastic container of chocolate chip cookies. I needed the Coke, and it sounded like Fred might need the cookies.
Every blade of grass in Fred’s yard is always three inches long and the flowers never have wilted blooms. As I crossed it, I looked for the elves I’m sure do his yard work in the middle of the night. I caught a glimpse of someone skulking in a car parked in front of my house, but it couldn’t be an elf because everybody knows there’s no such thing as elves in the Kansas City area. It gets too cold in the winter.
Probably just my scuzzy ex-husband stalking me. He does that when he’s in between bimbos.
The car was parked in the shadows of the big trees that line our street. Nevertheless I was pretty sure the elf’s hair was blond. Definitely Rick though the car wasn’t familiar. A mid-size white sedan. Not his style but it could belong to a new bimbo. I considered going over to confront and yell at him, but Fred’s crisis was more important than a moment’s pleasure.
Fred met me at his front door. His hair was mussed, his glasses were slightly askew, and he wore white cotton pajamas that were unwrinkled despite the hour. He looked more like he’d come from a Karate workout than the bedroom.
“Please tell me you didn’t iron those pajamas,” I said by way of greeting.
He glared at me. Yes, Fred actually glared. That was a lot of emotion for him to display. Then his gaze dropped to my hands. “Are those cookies for me?”
I handed him the container.
“Thank you.” He turned and I followed him into his immaculate home.
His house is like his yard, always immaculate. His hardwood floors are shiny, and no speck of dust mars his furniture. Elves again. They come to clean in the middle of the night and then dump his dust in my house.
“Do you want to tell me how Sophie Fleming got into your bedroom closet in the first place?” I asked as we started up the stairs.
“She walked in there. Actually, it was closer to a run. Speed walk, to be specific.”
He strode onto the landing and down the hall toward his bedroom, his hurried strides longer than usual. Fred was as stressed as I’d ever seen him. Things were getting a little freaky.
I got another shock when I entered his bedroom. The bed was unmade. Sure, the average person wouldn’t make his bed when he got up in the middle of the night to try to lure a strange woman out of his closet, but Fred wasn’t the average person. Anyway, he had those elves.
He strode to the open closet door and I followed.
The closet was large for an old house. On one side, shirts were grouped by color, fabric and long sleeves versus short sleeves. On the other side, slacks and jackets were arranged the same way. He had a shoe rack that held polished shoes and a tie rack with ties, sorted by color.
Sophie huddled in one corner at the very back. She sat with her face between her knees, a dark curtain of hair flowing over her arms which wrapped protectively around her head. A silky white gown spread around her.
A beautiful woman in a nightgown hiding in the bedroom closet of a man in pajamas. If it had been anybody but Fred—
“Sophie?” I spoke softly.
She flinched and tightened her arms around her head.
I turned to Fred. “How did she get in your house? I feel certain you had the door locked.”
He straightened his glasses. “At 1:33 a.m. my security system told me someone was on my front porch. I went to investigate and saw her trying to get in. I opened the door and asked if I could be of assistance. She walked past me, straight up the stairs and into my bedroom closet. I believe she’s sleepwalking, but I can’t seem to wake her or persuade her to come out.” He removed a cookie from the container and bit into it. His hand shook slightly. I was glad I had brought the cookies. He definitely needed a fix.
I took the container from him. Maybe Sophie would respond to a cookie. Chocolate has restorative powers.
I handed Fred my Coke and moved into the closet, pushed Fred’s pants aside and knelt next to her. “Sophie, it’s Lindsay. I’m your neighbor. Remember me? Chocolatier?”
She shivered but didn’t look up.
“Would you like a chocolate chip cookie? I made them myself.”
Nothing.
There’s something very wrong with anyone who turns down one of my cookies.
I touched her arm.
Her head flew up and she shoved my hand away. Her eyes were wide and filled with terror. “Carolyn! No!”
I had a bad feeling it was going to take more than a few cookies to help that woman.


Thursday, December 8, 2022

Braving the Heat (Escape Club Heroes Book 2002) by Regan Black

$1.99

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When a firefighter is targeted for murder, she turns to a scorching-hot bodyguard in the USA Today–bestselling author’s romantic thriller.

Firefighter Kenzie Hughes never thought saving lives would make her a target. When a man she rescued files a complaint against her, the harassment is bad enough. But when someone rigs her car, Kenzie needs help—the kind of help sexy Stephen Galway can offer.

Ever since Stephen’s fiancée was killed, he’s sworn off romance and devoted himself to justice. Knowing the danger Kenzie faces, he insists on being her bodyguard. But as the danger heats up, so does the undeniable attraction between Stephen and Kenzie. Can he keep her safe
and out of his arms when they’re forced to confront what they fear most?

From Chapter One

Standing at a prep counter in the Escape Club kitchen, Kenzie Hughes stuffed the last bite of her sandwich into her mouth and added her plate to the rack loaded for the dishwasher. She thanked the cook and slipped the strap of her backpack over one shoulder. Pausing at the doorway to the main floor, she scanned the empty stage, looking for Grant Sullivan, owner of the establishment.

The extra personnel Grant had brought on for the summer concert series were resetting for the evening show. Leaving them to cover her workload through the afternoon changeover didn’t sit well with Kenzie, but her landlord had called. She had only a few more hours to clear out whatever she didn’t want exposed to termite fumigation and the dust and debris from the repair process.

If she hustled she could get to her apartment and back again before the doors opened for the evening session. That would please her as much as it would please Grant. It wasn’t as if she had anything better to do with her time, other than finding an affordable place to crash for a couple weeks.

Though her pay from the Philadelphia Fire Department had continued during her current administrative leave, storage units and short-term room rentals added up fast. She’d asked both her union representative and her lawyer if she could visit her mom in Delaware while her apartment was out of commission, and been told she had to stay in Philly. Both the union rep and her lawyer implied that her leaving town could be perceived as an admission of guilt.

“Can’t have that,” she muttered to herself.

If there was anything Kenzie dreaded more than the potential outcome of her current legal trouble, it was having nothing productive to do while she waited out the process.

She had, in fact, been cleared of any wrongdoing during a PFD investigation that followed a complaint from a man she’d rescued from a fire. He’d claimed her incompetence had resulted in minor injuries that could have been avoided. Just when she thought she’d be back on the job, the victim had filed a civil suit against her personally. She knew she wasn’t guilty of any error in the process of saving his life. The victim disagreed. Loudly, publicly and constantly.

Stop, she ordered herself. Dwelling on the negative situation only fouled up her mood. The jerk didn’t have a case at all. If he had, the PFD would have fired her outright weeks ago. Her lawyer assured her most civil cases settled out of court; it was simply a matter of working the case and being patient with the system. Oddly enough, the only place Kenzie successfully exercised patience was while working emergency calls and fires.

Unable to find Grant, she tracked down Jason Prather at the bar. The latest full-time addition to the Escape Club, Jason was the closest thing Grant had to an assistant manager. Tall and wiry, bordering on skinny, he, too, had a few years with the PFD on his résumé. Whenever she looked at him, she thought he could pass as a front man for one of the bands that came through if he’d let his thick black hair grow out.

“If Grant asks, will you remind him I went to clear out my apartment? I should be back in time for opening tonight.”

Jason gave her a long look over the tablet he was using to record inventory. “You need any help? I can send—”

“No, thanks. I’ve got it,” she managed to reply. If she said anything else, she’d probably break down in a puddle of frustration. Grant was doing enough for her already, keeping her busy with this job. She refused to impose on anyone else.

Hurrying out of the club and across the street, she cringed at the sight of her road-weary compact sedan. Though the primer-and-rust color scheme was a fright, it ran, and that was the important thing. And it was paid for. She’d sold her car and paid cash for the rust-bucket sedan so she could redirect her previous car payment to her legal fees for the civil case. When she didn’t have those extra expenses anymore, she could go back to a better car. One with a powerful engine and serious sex appeal, she thought, indulging in a quick fantasy of a classic American muscle car.

As if. Although owning a classic Camaro was on her bucket list, this case meant it would be a long time before she’d be able to make that kind of investment.

After unlocking the driver’s door, she tossed her backpack into the passenger seat and slid behind the wheel. She turned the key in the ignition, expecting the sputter and catch of the small engine, but hearing silence instead.

“No.” She dropped her head to the steering wheel, almost ready to give in to the threat of tears she’d been fighting off all week. Her apartment closing, if only temporarily, the civil suit claiming she was unfit for firefighting, and now a car that wouldn’t start.

Crying over this heap of metal was pointless, but it was one obstacle too many right now. She ruthlessly swiped away the lone tear rolling down her cheek. It wasn’t the potential expense of repairs, though cash was currently tight. No, what upset her more was the idea of asking another friend or family member for more help. Her independence had taken enough of a beating lately. Here she was at thirty years old, feeling less self-sufficient now than when she’d crossed the stage for her high school graduation. Unlike so many of her peers, back then she’d had clear goals and a clear path planned to reach them.

“This is not happening.” She tried the ignition again, got the same result.

With a colorful oath, she removed the key and pulled the hood release. After slamming out of the car, she raised the hood and stared into the filthy engine. Her father, a car aficionado and passionate weekend race car driver, might have wept at the sight. He’d taught her everything he knew about cars and engines, and when she’d bought this one, it had been functional, if ugly. The new battery she’d installed after the purchase was the only clean thing in view. With a critical eye, she assessed the rest of the machinery, looking for an obvious problem.

“It has to get better,” she said aloud, willing herself to believe the words.

Life hadn’t been perfect. She’d experienced her share of sorrows to offset the celebrations and happy milestones of being an independent adult. Overall, she’d been content through both the highs and lows. Until the last fire she’d worked, three months ago, turned into a difficult rescue and ongoing nightmare. Though she tried to ignore it, a small voice inside her head wondered again if that would be the last fire she ever fought.

“All of this will pass.” Just like every other pain, challenge and setback she’d faced. She calmed herself with the assurance that she’d be back at the firehouse, back with her crew on the truck soon. She couldn’t afford to let her mind wander away from anything less than her ideal outcome.

Returning to the driver’s seat, she turned the key again, listening for clues. Was it the alternator or starter? It couldn’t be a broken fuel gauge. She’d just filled up with gas yesterday. “Come on, baby, tell me what’s wrong,” she said to the car. “We’ve got things to do.”

If she didn’t figure this out, she’d leave Grant shorthanded during what was sure to be a packed house tonight. She shook the steering wheel. Sure, Grant might understand, but that wasn’t the point. Letting people down, shirking commitments wasn’t how she operated. Besides, working at the Escape Club distracted her, filling all the empty hours while the PFD kept her off the job.

 

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Enjoy an Excerpt from Mistletoe Magic by Linda Wisdom

$3.99

Amazon

For lovers of Brigadoon here's a Christmas version. Warm-hearted and wonderful.

Quinn was more than ready for a getaway. To avoid her family, friends
and would-be fiancé she sought refuge in the Vermont mountains.

Then the blizzard hit like a freight train.

Santee wasn’t sure what drew him to the snowy east at Christmastime.
And he sure didn’t expect to find the lovely Quinn or a room at the
picturesque Mistletoe Inn.

The charming town of Mistletoe keeps the holiday cheer all year round.
And a glow that envelopes Quinn and Santee gives them something
magical neither expected to find.

The question is, is this merely a wish for the holiday season only or
something that will last forever?

Excerpt:

December 9 Boston

"Quinn, I don't understand why you have all this hostility toward your mother. I think the real reason you're upset with her is because she and Nick want to spend the holidays in Barbados rather than here in town."

Quinn O’Hara gripped the receiver in one hand and crumpled the lacy bra in the other, wishing it was her mother's lovely swanlike neck instead.

"Alan, I really don't care to discuss my mother's holiday plans. I'm glad she and Nick decided not to go to Jamaica this year. Especially with Dad and Mindy spending the holidays there. It wasn't a pretty sight the last time Mother ran into Dad with his wife of the moment." She rolled her eyes at the mental picture of her father's latest wife. She had to be a good ten years younger than Quinn and boasted a former career as a well-known stripper.  Correction, exotic dancer. "The two couples staying on the same island is just as dangerous as their staying at the same hotel. They never understood the meaning of amicable divorce."

"You need to fully express your inner most feelings, Quinn. I know you'd feel better if you did."

It was times like this she hated dating a clinical psychologist specializing in family matters. He always insisted on analyzing everything to death and there were days when she just wanted to leave it alone. Especially when it came to her dysfunctional family.

"Alan, I'll feel much better once I reach the Crystal Falls Lodge. I can work off my excess energy on the slopes." She carefully smoothed out her bra and folded it before tucking it into a corner of her suitcase.

"I wish you'd stay here for the holidays." He sounded forlorn.

"I know that, Alan, but I need to get away." She purposely lowered her voice in hopes she would sound surer of herself since, right now, she wasn't sure of anything. Unless you counted her strong need to drive up north and hole up there until the holidays were over. She wasn't sure why, but her compulsion to go up to Crystal Falls seemed to grow stronger each day.

"If you need to be somewhere for the holidays, come home with me," he urged. "You know how much my parents would love to have you for a visit. And with my traveling to all those seminars these past few months, we haven't had very much time together lately."

Not an unreasonable request considering Alan had been trying to persuade Quinn to marry him for the past seven months, fourteen days, fifteen hours and so on.  And, for the past seven months, fourteen days, fifteen hours and so on, Quinn had been politely putting him off, even though she continued dating him. She told herself it wasn't fair to keep leading him on. She had to make a decision soon. For a woman who could make split-second decisions in business, she was hopeless when dealing with her own personal problems.

She didn't know why she was feeling so indecisive.

She did enjoy his company and they had known each other since childhood. In their social circle, Alan was considered a wonderful catch. She reminded herself of his up-and-coming career -- there's always someone who needs a psychologist who has a thriving practice. Then there’s his excellent family background -- his ancestors settled in Boston a hundred and fifty years ago and quickly was well known in the medical field. Alan had no bad habits and was so faithful he sometimes reminded her of a loyal beagle. She was really more a cat person. He was the perfect catch. Especially for a woman whose own ancestors arrived on a boat, happy to get work as domestic help, he was manna from heaven. There was only one problem. Every time Alan proposed to Quinn, she promptly headed for a bottle of antacids. If she hadn't insisted he stop proposing every time he saw her, she would have been tip to a bottle and a half of tablets a day. For now, she was managing with just half a bottle.

Quinn thought of Alan's mother whose life revolved around the Thursday afternoon garden club, the opera, the symphony and her chairing various charity committees. Even with Quinn’s less than stellar family background Vivian’s latest aim in life was to see her son married to here so she could sponsor Quinn to her many clubs and polish her to a high gloss. She shuddered in horror at the thought and immediately reached for the tablets on her dresser.

"Alan, reservations at the Crystal Falls Lodge for this time of year are more valuable than platinum or diamonds," she reminded him, her teeth crunching down on the tablets as quietly as possible. "You know how hectic work has been for me lately. I really need to get away. So I plan to do a lot of skiing, and squeeze in some relaxation."

"And will you be thinking about us?" He lowered his voice to an intimate rumble. She hoped she wouldn't have to break open a new bottle. She only had a few tablets left in this one. "Darling, you know how much I love you and want to marry you. Please, Quinn, put me out of my misery and say yes." He went on to tease, "I won't even flinch when you leave your clothes scattered all over the house or don't balance your checkbook for six months."

She looked heavenward for advice. It was easier than marrying every man she met the way her mother did, So far Fate has been pretty darn quiet.

"All right, Alan," she said finally, now desperate for a cigarette since the tablets didn't seem to be working. And here she’d quit smoking two years ago. It seemed all her bad habits were starting to rise up. If she wasn’t careful she’d be biting her nails down to the quick. "I promise you I will think very hard about us and I'll give you my answer when I get back."

"Then I'll hope it's the right one," he said, convinced she would have the good sense to say yes. "We're perfect together, Quinn, and everyone knows it. And we both want children."

Yes, she wanted to marry. Yes, she wanted children. But even though Alan was a wonderful man, was he the man she wanted as the father of those children? Everyone thought they were perfect together, but was that reason enough to get married?

"Yes, Alan, you're right."

His voice displayed the proper amount of soothing caress. "Don't worry, darling. I know you'll make the right decision. Call me when you reach the lodge, so I know you've arrived safely. You know I'll worry about you on the road. I wish you'd told me about your plans earlier, so that I could have arranged to go with you."

That was exactly why Quinn hadn't said anything until a couple days ago. She quickly terminated the call and resumed her packing.

She chewed the last of the antacid tablets as the burning in her stomach intensified.

"I have to decide to either marry Alan or put us both out of our misery and just break it off," she said. With a sigh, she dropped down onto the bed next to her suitcase and flopped backward against the pillows.

Quinn closed her eyes and visualized the freedom of racing down the slopes with the wind burning into her face. That compulsion to leave her apartment and drive up to Crystal Falls was growing strong again. She jumped up and collected her luggage.

"I need this. I need to know I won't be making a mistake no matter how I decide."

 

December 9 Ontario Airport, Ontario, California

"I NEED THIS, Dean."

"Bull! You don’t need to go anywhere. What you need is to be with your friends, people who understand you."

Santee looked at Dean Cornell and inwardly laughed at the picture before him. The scruffy ex-L.A. cop wasted no time in changing from a hotshot detective to a married man. Two years ago, Dean had left LA for Murrieta to protect Elise Carpenter from her husband's killer, and in the process fell in love with the lady veterinarian and stayed to join in raising her three daughters and their new baby son. How the mighty had fallen.

"You really change your kid's diapers?"

Dean looked affronted at the question. "Of course I change his diapers. I'm damn good at it, too."

"Elise told me the last time you diapered Chad, you used duct tape because the adhesive tabs had you confused."

"It did the job. There was no way that diaper was going to fall off," Dean argued.

"No kidding. She said she had to cut if off him."

Santee thought of the man he called a good friend. And the woman who had also become a friend. He envied their happiness.

When he and Elise married, Dean left the Los Angeles police force and now worked with Santee at the Riverside County sheriff's station. Because of his more than relaxed manner of dress and abundance of charm, he easily gained the confidence of the lower elements. Marriage may have tamed a part of the cocky cop, but he still insisted on keeping his hair shaggy, his clothing disreputable, and doing everything possible to disconcert the normally unflappable Elise. But she couldn't stop loving him any more than she could stop breathing. Furthermore, she gave him the grounding he needed.

"I'm burned-out, Dean," Santee said bluntly. "I'm tired, and there are mornings when I wonder if I should bother even getting up." He recognized the message written-on Dean's tense features. "No, I don't have any desire to eat my gun, but I do want to get away for a while. Just rethink my life a bit."

"Fine, rethink it around your friends," Dean argued with concern, "You're not going to find your answers in the backwoods of Vermont. Why there?"

He shook his head. "I wish I had an answer for you, but I'm not even sure why. Maybe I just needed someplace new to brush up on my rusty skiing skills. There's nothing earth-shattering going on around here, so I figured it was a good time to use up some of my vacation,” he explained.

"What about Debbie?"

Santee looked uncomfortable. "Since I was leaving, I gave her her Christmas gift early. Unfortunately, she wasn't expecting a necklace."

Dean winced. “She was hoping for a ring?”

He nodded. "I'm not ready and she is. So we're not seeing each other anymore."

"I'm sorry, man," Dean commiserated.

 "I'm just sorry I hurt her."

Santee turned his head as he heard his flight announced. "Take it easy." He held out his hand.

Dean took it, then stepped forward and gave him a one-armed hug. "You take care. There are not many men who're willing to put up with me."

A smile curved Santee's lips. "I'll send you a postcard from Vermont." He picked up his bag and headed for the gate.

"Hey, Santee!" Dean called after him. "What name did you book your flight under?"

He waved his arm over his head. "Detective Santee, what else?"

"Son of a gun!" Dean smiled, watching his friend walk away. "I thought I’d finally learn what his first name is."

Santee boarded the jet and took the window seat assigned to him. As he looked over to the gate, he could see Dean standing there, his hands jammed into the pockets of his beat-up leather jacket. He had a feeling he wouldn't be the same person the next time he saw his friend.

 

December I0, Midnight Vermont

THE SILENCE IN the remote valley was comforting as snow fell to earth to form peaceful drifts untouched by man or beast. Silvery moonlight created shadows across the field. With an abrupt shift in the air, the climate changed to humming expectancy.

The air soon shimmered in the moonlight with a life of its own. Ethereal shapes twisted and turned in the silvery light until they took on solid form with paved roads snaking through the snow drifts. It wasn't long before the forms looked as if they had always been a part of the countryside.

By morning, the formerly empty valley was covered with small buildings, old-fashioned lampposts dotted the paved roads and the musical ring of voices echoed in the valley. It looked as it had each Christmas for the past few hundred years:



Monday, December 5, 2022

Something Borrowed, Something Deadly (A Skullduggery Inn Cozy Read Book 4) by Kathy Carmichael

$2.99 or FREE for Kindle Unlimited Subscribers

Amazon

Novella. When the groom is found murdered hours before the wedding, can bridesmaid, amateur sleuth and owner of the Skullduggery Inn, Ashley Sands, clear the bride from imminent arrest? With numerous suspects, all with strong motives, Ash must figure out who-dun-it before the murderer strikes again.

Saturday, December 3, 2022

The Great Chocolate Scam by Sally Berneathy

$3.99

Amazon

Finally Rick has agreed to sign the divorce papers and give Lindsay her freedom! She is sitting in her lawyer’s office waiting for him when she gets the call.

Rick is dead. Murdered by a bomb that blew up his car in his own driveway.

Lindsay is his sole heir. Or is she? She’s never met any of Rick’s family. Though he told her various conflicting stories about them, she came to believe they didn’t exist, that Rick was an alien stranded here when the mother ship left without him. But then Rick’s mother and two brothers show up followed by a woman who claims to be his ex-wife and a boy she claims is Rick’s son. Everyone except Lindsay wants to inherit Rick’s estate. What’s so valuable that someone killed for it and is ready to kill again?

Come for the Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars, stay for the murder, mayhem and fun!


Review:

An absolute laugh out loud cozy mystery. Sally Berneathy is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. Not only are her characters amazing, but the story is written in such a way, that it could be real. I think The Great Chocolate Scam is the best of the series so far. I laughed so many times and there were lots of scenes with my favorite character, Fred. I highly recommend this book to anyone that wants a good laugh, enjoys cozy mysteries, and loves chocolate. The recipes at the end of the book are simply to die for.


Thursday, December 1, 2022

Melody's Six: Brotherhood Protectors World by Regan Black

$3.99 or FREE for Kindle Unlimited Subscribers

Amazon

As a Special Forces soldier, Dean Turner gave everything he had to the missions and his teams. When Hank Patterson recruits him into the Athena Project, Dean throws himself into the private protection service with that same focus. After all, there’s no one waiting for him at home since his ex-wife betrayed him on every level.

Dean knows marriage is not for him. He’s better off alone. Functions best that way.

Except when it comes to his Athena Project partner, Melody Boyd. This former CIA agent is professional, talented, and as dedicated to helping others as Dean. He’s tamped down his burning attraction to her from day one—always putting their missions first.

But when a former enemy targets Mel, Dean makes her the priority. He’ll do whatever it takes to keep her safe. Even becoming her undercover husband.

If you crave sexy, adrenaline-fueled romantic suspense, you’ll love Mel’s Six by USA Today bestseller Regan Black!
 

Chapter 1

“Slowly open your eyes. Pause here for one more deep breath…”

Melody Boyd tuned out the soothing voice and soft mellow music as the yoga instructor wrapped up the video class. Relaxation pose was a good thing, but she was feeling refreshed and raring to go, mentally and physically. Reaching over, she exited the app and closed her laptop. “Hey, Mel—”

At the sound of her partner’s voice, Mel rolled to her feet, blotting the sweat from her face and neck as she gave him a smile.

Dean Turner leaned a muscled shoulder against the door frame, a grin on his striking face. “Am I interrupting?”

“You know you’re not.” She swung her arms wide and up, then stretched side to side. “Just finished and feeling great.”

His electric blue gaze skimmed over her in that quick-assessing way he had. Standing tall, he made the most of each and every one of his six-foot, two inches. “And you’re recharged to a hundred percent.” He stepped forward and offered her a bottle of water.

“You know me so well.” Right down to knowing she’d be here at the apartment complex fitness center for yoga today. She looped the towel over her neck and indulged in a long drink. “What brings you by?”

Her partner had a military service record full of awards and accolades and yet somehow, he always managed to give off a carefree, easygoing vibe. Still, she recognized that undercurrent of energy, that eagerness to take on another challenge, because she was wired the same way.

She and Dean had met at a training retreat when her career had been at a crossroads. After giving the CIA her heart and mind and very best effort, she needed a change. The retreat had been the right call at the right time and she would always be grateful. Not only had she gone into business with her four like-minded girlfriends, she’d been partnered with Dean. Together, as a team of two, they worked cases for the new Athena Project.

A uniquely equipped group under the umbrella of Hank Patterson’s Brotherhood Protectors, they were led by Beck Morrissey who partnered with Roman McClain. The other teams were comprised of her the partnerships of Victoria and Logan, Cygny and Leo, and Fay and Walker.

Each assignment was an exciting challenge, whether it was up close recon, protection details, or the occasional undercover gig. With their combined expertise and enthusiasm, the Athena Project teams had an excellent success rate. Mel and Dean had worked a wide variety of assignments in recent months and while she trusted him with her life, it troubled her that she didn’t have a better understanding of the man under the stunning exterior.

Though he chatted and shared with her—nothing better to do on stakeouts—it always seemed to be surface-level stuff. She knew he’d grown up in Illinois, was a star athlete in high school—no surprise—and that he hated peaches for reasons he couldn’t explain. Since leaving the CIA, she discovered how much she loved being an open book, speaking her mind, and sharing her opinions without fear of fallout.

Throughout her career, she’d worked with military men and women from different backgrounds. No one served as long as Dean had in Special Operations without gathering a few scars, inside and out. But she’d seen him in nothing but gym shorts. His body was flawless. Nothing they’d gone up against in the field made him flinch. Once in a while, she caught a shadow of sadness or wariness in his gaze, but she didn’t press. She’d spent enough time with operators down range to respect his boundaries.

Still, being curious by nature, she frequently wondered if she should try harder to draw him out. Probably better not to rush it. Besides, there was no need. They communicated just fine on and off the job and the way things were going with the Athena Project, they would be together for a long time.

Scooping a hand through his dark brown hair, he tipped his head to the door. “Beck has something new for us. I’ll drive.”

“Give me ten minutes to freshen up.”

“You’re a girl.” He backed up a step. “Take fifteen.” On a low laugh, he dodged the towel she threw at him, and darted down the hallway.

“Woman!” She retrieved the towel and headed for the dressing room. He knew she didn’t need any extra time. Her ever-present backpack was always stocked with clean clothes and essential toiletries. Being prepared was one habit that hadn’t changed since her departure from the CIA for a civilian career.

Her neighbors at the apartment complex saw Mel as a thirty-something remote-work professional with flexible hours who’d come to Fool’s Gold for the small community and outdoor life. Plenty of truth in there and leaning into that role kept everyone safe.

Dressed in dark jeans, her favorite short boots and a lavender turtleneck sweater under a shearling vest, she slid into the passenger seat of Dean’s black pickup truck with a full five minutes to spare.

While he drove, she brushed her hair and gathered it up into a high ponytail, fluffing the curls a bit.

Dean chuckled as she carefully applied mascara while he was stopped at a traffic light.

She finished and closed the tube, dropping it into her bag. “What?”

“I don’t know. It’s a little strange to see you doing girly-girl things.”

“Woman.” Mel gave him a long stare. “Last chance to pull your foot out of your mouth,” she warned. Sure, they’d done remote surveillance requiring tactical field gear. But he’d also seen her in a slinky cocktail dress, a bikini on one particularly memorable recon mission, and a very feminine business suit right down to the pencil skirt and sky-high heels.

“Come on. You’re primping,” he said, defending his observation. “For a trip to the office? That seems overboard.”

Deliberately, she pulled out her lip gloss and made a production of applying it. “My use of cosmetics cannot possibly be a shock to you.”

“I just rarely see the process. That’s all. The end result is always impressive. And lovely,” he added quickly.

“Seven out of ten for the save,” she allowed, making him laugh.

He turned up the road toward Lost Valley Ranch, where the Athena Project was headquartered along with the Colorado division of Hank Patterson’s Brotherhood Protectors.

It was a gorgeous September day and she soaked it in. Up here, sunny skies and a balmy breeze could shift into a snowstorm in an instant if the mountains were in the mood. She loved the unpredictability. Kept her sharp.

Dean passed the Watering Hole bar on his way to the lodge. A retired Marine, Dan “Gunny” Tate, owned both the lodge and the bar. He kept both operations running smoothly with the help of his daughter, RJ, her husband Jake Cogburn, and the rest of the growing team. At any given time, if they weren’t on assignment, Brotherhood Protectors and Athena Project personnel could be found helping with anything from cleaning horse stalls to tending bar or prepping lodge rooms for guests.

For Mel, those frequent change-ups were perfect and though Dean hadn’t said the words, she was sure he felt the same way. She’d learned he wasn’t the kind of man who indulged in much idle time.

“Any hints about the assignment?” She zipped her backpack and pulled it onto her lap as he pulled into the parking area near the lodge.

This was their pattern. They’d each take a guess about what they’d be asked to do. The one who came closest to the actual assignment bought the other a coffee for the planning session.

He put the truck in Park and cut the engine. His fingertips tapped a beat on the steering wheel. “You first.”

“I think it’ll be something straightforward this time.” She snapped her fingers. “Recovering weapons from a survivalist camp.” There were plenty of those in the area.

“Not a chance.” His lips twitched. “That wouldn’t require lip gloss.”

“Ha, ha.” She pursed her lips in an exaggerated kissy face, complete with smooching sounds. The man could tease like a champ, but he never seriously implied her sole purpose was to be the eye candy in their partnership.

If anyone earned that designation, it would be him. She’d lost track of the times he’d been hit on when they were out, either on an operation or while hanging out with their new friends and teammates.

He reached for the door and she stalled him, resting a hand on his arm. “You have to guess. It’s tradition.”

His eyebrows gathered over his straight nose. “I say we’re headed to the Springs to protect a visiting politician.”

Mel slumped back into the seat. “You’re probably right.”

“Why the long face? We’re good at that.”

True. “I know, I know.”

“You just want to shoot someone.”

She sighed. He knew her too well. “It’s been a long time since I’ve had any cause.”

“Poor, Mel.” He winked at her. “Only one way to find out who pays for coffee.” He bolted from the truck, his long stride carrying him toward the lodge.

She scrambled out of the truck, rushing to catch up. They reached the office side by side, and he held the door for her as they went down the stairs to the basement headquarters.

“Perfect timing.” Beck was all smiles as they walked in. She closed the laptop on the desk and turned her chair to face them.

Hank had struck an agreement with Gunny to rent the space and outfit it according to the Brotherhood Protectors needs. He’d spared no expense making sure Jake, head of the Colorado division, was fully equipped for success. Previously only used as storage, now the basement was a state-of-the-art office, complete with an array of computers for communication and research, space for potential clients to visit comfortably, all the gear a team might need, and a fully-stocked armory discreetly hidden behind a locked door.

Personally, Mel loved the setup. It was the best intel bunker she’d ever worked in and she no longer worried about any co-worker agendas or motives. Though she’d come for the business opportunity and challenge, the peace and serenity of the lodge and the surrounding area offered a lovely counterpoint.

As the business teams grew, RJ and her best friend JoJo started making girl-power nights a regular event. They all gathered at the lodge when there was room, or at one of the other homes in the area. Location didn’t matter, whoever was available showed up for some no-men-allowed time to relax, chat, and yes, wear lip gloss if they so desired.

Last month they’d gotten together at Clint and Avery Manning’s place and Avery had taught them how to play Euchre. The card game was fast and fun, though the rules sounded more like nonsense until she’d gotten the hang of it. She and RJ had been paired up and ended up winning the impromptu tournament, though Mel still wasn’t sure how.

“Glad to see you both,” Beck said. “I’ve got something unique lined up for you.”

“Hope it’s more than long-distance recon.” Dean tipped his head toward Mel. “She wants to shoot someone,” he joked.

Beck’s eyebrows arched and she pressed her lips together, suppressing her amusement. “Sorry to disappoint you, Mel. I don’t think guns will be part of the equation this time. We’ve received a referral from the Guardian Agency.”

“Never heard of them,” Dean said.

Mel shrugged. “Neither have I.”

Beck stilled. “They’re an exclusive private protection group based in Chicago with cooperative connections to the Brotherhood Protectors,” she explained. “It was their analyst, Claudia Mitchell, who sent this case our way.”

Oh. Mel knew Claudia. The woman’s reputation for analysis and finding people lingered in the CIA even all these years after her departure. Mel hadn’t known where she’d landed but she wasn’t too surprised Claudia had a connection to Hank Patterson.

“What does she need?”

“A movie studio has requested extra security for an advance party scouting locations for a new project. The Guardian Agency has worked with the studio before, but knowing about our new setup here, Claudia thought we should take this one.”

“Have a seat.” Beck turned back to her computer and a moment later the assignment details filled a large monitor. “Names, roles, you know the drill. You’re going in as drone operators this time.”

“Neil Spalding?” Mel was impressed. He was currently one of Hollywood’s most-requested directors, having been at the helm for several blockbusters as well as acclaimed documentaries in recent years.

“Heard he didn’t like taking advice during that military introspective he did in Afghanistan,” Dean muttered.

“I’m confident the two of you can manage him.”

“Of course, we can.” As Mel committed to memory the names and faces of the rest of Spalding’s party, she sensed Dean’s increasing tension. That was far more unsettling than learning Claudia had sent a case to Beck. As soon as they were out of here, she wanted an explanation. Dean was always so even-keel, his feelings or opinions on a target were irrelevant. She couldn’t see anything new in this assignment overview. They went undercover, just the two of them, all the time. Small, mobile, two-person teams were the central advantage of the Athena Project.

Beck highlighted another section of the overview. “The scouting itinerary is packed tight, starting as soon as they land this afternoon.”

“Garden of the Gods at sunset,” she noted. “That’ll be fun.”

“If he’s scared enough to hire extra security, he should’ve stayed in California,” Dean grumbled.

Grim wasn’t his norm. Oh, the man could be serious, disgruntled on occasion, but something was way off. To her, everything indicated a typical operation. “Maybe there’s concern about a mole or movie studio espionage.” The joke fell flat and Dean’s blue eyes turned down-right stormy.

She thought extra security was a smart idea in this area. Not just because it kept her employed. The mountains around Fool’s Gold were gorgeous. And treacherous, with multiple factors beyond the obvious risks of the rugged terrain and quickly changing weather. Abandoned mines, working mines, wary ranchers, and groups who wanted to stay off the radar for one reason or another made it all too easy for strangers to stumble into trouble.

Sneaking another look at Dean, there was no ignoring the hard set of his shoulders or his rigid stance, legs braced wide. Beck would pick up on those same indicators and Mel was not prepared to have their partnership questioned.

Her tone light, as if she couldn’t see his distress, she returned to the cover story. “Look, we aren’t strangers on this one.” She could successfully pretend not to know him, but it was easier for her when they worked an assignment as a couple.

Dean’s nostrils flared. “Nope. We’re husband and wife.” He tilted his head until his neck cracked. “Drone operators who are married,” he added through clenched teeth. “We join up and travel with the director and his team. Five to seven days expected.”

“With a possible extension,” Beck said.

Dean huffed.

A week hiking and traveling through the area sounded like fun to Mel. Or it would be as soon as her partner dropped the foul attitude. “Well, I’m game. Anything in particular we need to know about the movie business?”

“Not particularly,” Beck replied. “Take your cues on that from Spalding, but remember to keep your eyes on more than the terrain, since no specific threat has been identified.”

“Got it.” Mel bounded her knees, ready to get moving.

“As drone operators we should have a good view of any potential trouble,” Dean said, sounding more like himself. “Should be easy enough to keep the scouting group safe if we can take turns piloting.” He pointed to the screen. “Says everyone will carry cameras.”

“Even better,” Mel said, her normal enthusiasm rising once more. “As locals, I assume we could be called upon to liaison with landowners as needed.”

Dean shrugged. “You and I can schmooze with the best of them.”

“I’ve emailed all of these details to you both as well.” Beck slid a thick envelope closer to Mel. “Your cover IDs, matching credit cards, and some cash.”

Dean’s head bent over his phone. “Mel, look at the schedule,” he snapped.

“Give me a second.” She’d been separating the contents of the envelope for him. “If this is how you behave now that we’re married—” His head whipped up. The look he sent her was so dark, so tortured, she forgot what she’d been saying.

Oh, crap. She’d inadvertently stomped on an exposed nerve. Never her intention. She respected Dean, cared about his welfare in the field and as a friend. He was her partner and she trusted him with her life. She was well aware the man had feelings, even if he didn’t share them often. Or ever.

The questions racing through her head would wait. This wasn’t the time or place to dig herself out of her misstep. “When do we start?” she asked Beck.

“You’ll meet up with the advance party at the Colorado Springs airport this afternoon,” Beck explained. “They’ll be arriving on a private jet. No one knows anything about the two of you beyond the cover resumés the studio passed onto the director.”

“Spalding has no idea?” Dean whistled.

Mel knew exactly what he was thinking, because she was thinking it too. The studio wasn’t one hundred percent confident in the group.

“He believes you’re local experts, hired for this particular job,” Beck confirmed. “The studio is technically our client.”

They’d succeeded in assignments that weren’t clear-cut before. “Got it.” Mel pushed to her feet.

Dean followed suit. “We’ll be back in a week or so,” Dean said, his voice rough as gravel. He stalked toward the stairs and out of the office.

Mel scooped up the cash and cards he’d left behind, stuffing it back in the envelope.

Beck arched an eyebrow. “You two okay?”

For the first time in their partnership, Mel wasn’t so sure. “We’re fine.” Whatever had set him off, she was confident in their mutual professionalism. “I’ll send daily updates.”

“Hang on,” Beck walked to the supply closet and opened a slim drawer under one of the counters. “You probably want silicone wedding bands for this.”

“Good point.” They hadn’t needed wedding bands before, but it was a typical expectation and would underscore the cover story. Proving Athena Project covered all their bases, Beck pulled up a file on her phone with ring sizes. Mel chose matching wedding bands in a dark gray color, tucking both into her pocket.

“I’d rather stick with our personal weapons for this,” Mel said. “In a small, mobile group anything more powerful is likely to get noticed at the wrong time.”

“Agreed.” Beck folded her arms. “If anything changes, we’re close enough to offer backup.”

“Thanks.” She gave Beck a quick hug goodbye and headed out.

Hurrying up the steps, Mel considered Dean’s mood and how best to pull him out of it. They had to be “on” in just a few hours. Her crack about marriage had clearly upset him and she had to make sure that wouldn’t be a problem while they were working.

Almost all of their missions involved them playing a couple at some point. Walking hand in hand through a park, appearing completely lost in each other while actually conducting surveillance.

But this would be their first time pretending to be a married couple. Maintaining appearances twenty-four-seven amid a small group of strangers. For five to seven days. Lots of room for error in that kind of scenario.

If she dwelled on it, she’d start freaking out herself. Not gonna happen.

She’d found that one of the best parts of this partnership was the balance. The things that bugged her—spiders for example—he handled. And the things that bugged him… well this was the first obvious one. She was ready to step up.

Rushing out onto the front porch, she discovered her partner wasn’t waiting at the truck. She looked around, tamping down the unfamiliar worry. Dean had never been anything but solid. Where had he gone?

Shouting would only draw more attention and Beck was already concerned. Following her intuition, Mel turned away from the barns and circled to the back of the lodge.

And there he was, stomping up the slope.

 

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Guardian Angel by Linda Wisdom

$3.99

Amazon

The lady in command—a graduate of Annapolis—beautiful Alex Page had put a career in Naval Intelligence and a bitter marriage behind her. Now, as security chief of a major firm, her main charge was guarding the body of its dashing president.

Proud, aloof, an absolute professional, Alex had no interest in protecting Jared Templeton from the exquisite society women who assaulted his magnificent body by night—no interest in challenging the Sydney Sorceress or the South Seas Siren—until, without warning, the climate changed. Suddenly the man who moved through women like a shark through shoals of fish launched a calculated attack on her senses. And Alex, master of self-defense, could no longer guarantee the safety of her own heart.

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