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Rita Herron's PRETTY LITTLE KILLERS Spotlight

 

The predators become prey in a breathless novel of revenge from a USA Today bestselling author.

Still haunted by his wife’s murder—and stained by the blood of avenging it—FBI special agent Hatcher McGee can’t believe he’s being teamed up with rookie agent Korine Davenport. She is his most guilty secret—the one-night stand who almost cost him everything.

Korine has her own demons. As a child, she witnessed her father’s murder, and she’s spent her life waiting for the killer’s return. She and Hatcher are both looking for closure, but the disturbing case that draws them together could be their last.

When the mutilated body of a corrupt Savannah judge surfaces, Hatcher and Korine find themselves on the trail of a vigilante who is showing no mercy. Not for the predators who’ve gone free. And not for anyone who gets in the way.

As the body count rises, and as Hatcher’s and Korine’s own pasts unfold, they must risk their lives tracking a killer they’ve come to understand all too well. After all, the ends justify the means.  Amazon

 

USA Today Bestselling and award-winning author Rita Herron fell in love with books at the ripe age of eight when she read her first Trixie Belden mystery. Although she wanted to be a writer then and actually scrawled her first novel at age twelve, she didn’t think real people grew up to be writers, so she became a kindergarten teacher instead. Twenty years ago, she traded her classroom storytelling and puppets for a computer and now writes so she doesn’t have to get a real job.

Having sold over ninety books to date, she enjoys spinning spine-tingling romantic susp tales filled with murder, mayhem, and spicy romance as well as sexy romantic comedies. Rita Herron currently writes romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue and she’s writing dark, gritty romantic suspense thrillers for Amazon Montlake.                                    
Facebook           Visit Rita

Featuring Beverley Oakley's THE ACCIDENTAL ELOPEMENT

Hi Ivy, and thanks for having me here.
 
In my previous story, Devil’s Run, the two seven-year-olds, Jack and Katherine, stole my heart, I must admit. Katherine is the daughter of aristocratic parents while Jack is from the foundling home and comes to the estate as playmate to Katherine’s bullying cousin, George. While Katherine is naughty and likes to make Jack do her bidding, Jack is good natured but very ethical – unlike George. When they meet as adults, the interplay of these three characters causes a lot of angst before happiness is achieved – for all of them, in fact.
 
Bullying is a theme in The Accidental Elopement and I’ve tried to show the repercussions within the conventions of a Regency romance.
 
In the following extract, Jack and Katherine meet having not seen one another since they were twelve years old. Jack is about to leave for the West Indies to make his fortune while Katherine is excited by the social whirl and intends to make a fine marriage during her first London season.
 
Falling in love with each other is extremely inconvenient for both of them.
 
The Accidental Elopement by Beverley Oakley
 

A seven-year secret. A tragic misunderstanding. Can love outwit fate in this tale of misadventure and thwarted dreams?

Earl Quamby’s niece, Katherine, and Jack, a foundling home lad adopted by a local family, have been loyal friends for as long as they can remember.

As Jack is about to leave England to make his fortune and Katherine is being courted by two eligible suitors, they unexpectedly realise their friendship has blossomed into passionate love. A love, they are warned, that has no future.

Despite a brave attempt to defy the forces keeping them apart, tragedy results and the pair is separated.

When chance throws them together seven years later, Katherine, newly widowed, is being pressured into a marriage not of her choosing to avoid scandal and Jack feels he must honour his pledge to the worthy Odette whom he met in India and whose father is dying.

Katherine knows that revealing a long-held secret may win Jack to her but she also knows conflicting obligations from past and present may tear him apart.

Can master matchmakers, Fanny, Antoinette and Bertram Brightwell, outwit fate in its latest attempt to keep these star-crossed lovers apart and deliver them the happiness they deserve?

 
This is Book 4 in the Scandalous Miss Brightwell series but it can be read as a stand-alone.

It was as black as a dungeon, here. No candle sconces lit up this part of the house.

Katherine took another cautious step through the darkness, her hands upon the cool plastered walls guiding her away from the lively strains of the polka she’d narrowly avoided having to dance with George. 

She wasn’t frightened of the dark. No one had ever accused Katherine of being fainthearted.

Yet she did squeal with surprise when, turning a corner, her progress was suddenly impeded by a very large object and, with no warning at all, she found herself flying through the air, landing with a painful jarring of her wrists upon the cold, hard flagstones.

“Good Lord!” came a disembodied young male voice in the dark before a groping hand located a piece of Katherine—a carefully arranged ringlet of hair—which caused her to shriek even louder when it was quite unnecessarily tugged. Whether this was to establish who or what she was, she had no idea, and perhaps neither did the tugger, for immediately a profound apology was issued before the groping hand was operating with complete abandon in the dark.

This time it found Katherine’s breast just as the voice said in tones of utter mortification, “Forgive me! Are you hurt? Here, let me help you. That’s what I was trying to do, I promise. I didn’t realise you were on the ground. Take my hand. Really, I can’t apologise enough.”

Katherine had made one unsuccessful attempt to stand, but it was a struggle in her flounced skirt and multiple corded petticoats. She swatted away the supposedly helping hand and hissed something unintelligible—somehow unladylike language seemed less of an offence when she couldn’t see to whom she was speaking.

But when the disembodied groping hand entered her orbit once more, in fact brushing the bare flesh above her garter and getting in a good squeeze of her thigh flesh, her temper, which had never been one of her strong points, snapped, and she lashed out with a sharp slice through the inky air.

A loud yelp made her realise she’d perhaps been a little peremptory and certainly too violent in this unladylike action, and even though she felt disinclined to apologise, she did say, ungraciously, “I’m sorry I hit you, but a lady can only take so much of all this groping in the dark. I mean…what were you doing?”

“I could ask you the same thing,” came the response, now at ear level. In fact, she could feel the soft whisper of breath against her cheek, which made her step back, saying, “I asked first.”

“I was chasing a cat. Bending down, in fact. And then suddenly something crashed into me. Or on top of me.”

“That was me.”

“Yes, of course it was you. There’s no one else here, is there?”

Katherine bridled at his tone. She was unused to being spoken to as if she were at fault when, in this case, she most certainly wasn’t. “I think that’s a very rude response,” she told him. “Just as it was very thoughtless of you to crouch down where anybody could simply crash into you.”

“Anybody—or rather, anybody else—would be carrying a candle. I think I have every reason to be deeply suspicious of the motives of anyone who is not.”

“Well, you don’t have a candle. And I would suspect the truth of anyone hiding away in the dark, claiming they were crouching over an imaginary cat,” huffed Katherine. “In fact, I’d wager there was no cat here at all. No, you were sneaking away from something, weren’t you?”

“And if I was, what business is it of yours? Whoever you are.”

Katherine could not imagine the audacity. “I could ask the same question. You certainly are no gentleman to speak to a lady in that fashion.”

“Since that lady hasn’t bothered to declare herself, I think I could be forgiven.”

“A gentleman would have declared himself first,” Katherine said hotly. “What were you sidling away from? There’s a noisy ball going on in the next room. If you were a gentleman, wouldn’t you be gallantly asking the ladies to dance instead of hiding in the dark? Perhaps there’s someone you’re afraid of seeing? A lady who has expectations of you behaving towards her as a gentleman.” Katherine said this triumphantly before elaborating on her theme. “My guess is that you’ve given some poor young lady the idea that you’ll dance with her all night, and now you’ve changed your mind and are sneaking away.”

“Since you put forward the idea, I’d suggest the reason you’re here is exactly the same. You’re trying to sneak away from a gentleman to whom you’ve already promised two dances. Meanwhile he, poor fellow, is searching for you vainly in the ballroom while you’re here making a mockery of him.”

“He can do that all by himself,” Katherine sniffed. “But I never promised him anything, and I never will.”

“Ha! I was right.” He sounded very pleased with himself. “Well, I feel sorry for this chap without even seeing what you look like, miss. Poor fellow!”

“Poor fellow, indeed. George can pine til the cows come home. I’d even suffer talking to you than have to spend another five minutes with his sweating hands squeezing mine and his moon eyes boring into me…and his horrible, putrid breath choking me and his—”

“Poor George! I was just starting to feel sorry for him until you described the exact George I, too, am so at pains to avoid tonight.” The voice became more confidential, and the mood relaxed.

Katherine crossed her arms and waited for him to speak for she was rather interested in his George, and then quite amused when the voice began to describe the very George against whom she railed.

“Well, you have described my cousin to a very fine point,” she laughed. “And if you are as well acquainted with him as you seem to be, then you obviously know exactly why I am here in the dark.”

There was a small silence. And then, “Your cousin?”

“In my family, there are two Georges: Young George who is the son of my aunt and her husband, Lord Quamby, and Odious George who is his uncle, George Bramley.”

“Then we’re talking about the same George!” The voice sounded stunned.

A quick gasp from both of them was followed up by a delighted cry in unison.

“Jack!”

“Katherine!”

Beverley Oakley is an Australian author who grew up in the African mountain kingdom of Lesotho, married a Norwegian bush pilot she met in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, and started writing historical romances to amuse herself in the 12 countries she’s lived as a ‘trailing spouse’ (in between working as an airborne geophysical survey operator, a teacher of English as a Second Language, and writing for her former newspaper).

Her Scandalous Miss Brightwell series was nominated Best Historical Romance by the Australian Romance Readers Association.

Beverley Oakley's DEVIL'S RUN Feature

Devil’s Run

A rigged horse race – with a marriage and a lost child riding on the outcome.

This is book 3 in the Scandalous Miss Brightwells series, though it can be read as a stand-alone.

Can the matchmaking Brightwell sisters avoid scandal and disaster as they try to rescue two tortured souls and unite their passionate hearts?

When Miss Eliza Montrose’s extraordinary bravery wins her the respect of matchmaking queens Fanny and Antoinette Brightwell, the sisters and their bumbling brother decide they must find a worthier suitor for the young woman they’d initially disliked.

But Eliza has her own reasons for agreeing to marry their odious cousin. Reasons that have nothing to do with love!

When handsome, honorable horse owner Rufus Patmore proves Eliza’s perfect match, the Brightwells secretly hatch a plan that involves their cousin and a
horse called Devil’s Run riding in the East Anglia Derby. A horse that is suddenly and unexpectedly inherited by Eliza.

Despite having acted with the best of intentions, the Brightwells discover that fixing the outcome of the race has unintended consequences.

Book 1: Rake’s Honour (Just an FYI, the Kindle version is free for a limited time)
Book 2: Rogue’s Kiss
Book 3: Devil’s Run
Book 4: The Accidental Elopement (preorder now)

 
What the reviewers say:
 
“Very intriguing Austen-esque novel with well-developed characters and story line. The best historical romance novel I’ve read in a while.” ~ Amazon reviewer
I started writing Devil’s Run because I couldn’t stop thinking about the infant with the sixth finger who was discovered in the basket in front of the foundling hospital in the previous book, Rogue’s Kiss. There’d only been a brief mention of the mother who was clearly from a good family being forced by an older woman to leave her young son in the basket and this happens in the first scene in Rogue’s Kiss (book 2), as she snatches her child from the basket and runs in front of the carriage in which Thea, my heroine, is travelling – thus setting up the meeting with Thea and her hero in that story. (The child, Jack, features only briefly in later pages of Rogue’s Kiss.)
After finishing Rogue’s Kiss, though, I began to wonder who this young woman was, and whether she’d ever be reunited with her child. Obviously, the answer had to be that she would, but the challenge was bringing her into the orbit of my Brightwell family – two matchmaking sisters and their sinister, conniving cousin George – around whom the story revolves.
Thus, Devil’s Run begins with the self-contained Eliza Montrose visiting Quamby House where Matchmaking Queens Fanny and Antoinette Brightwell – who’ve made rags-to-riches marriages – live.
Fanny and Antoinette dislike her initially for being boring until she spectacularly rescues some children from drowning. This is when Eliza realises that one of these children – on account of his 6th finger – is her lost son. And that’s why she’s motivated to marry awful, conniving Cousin George so she can be close to her secret son. Fanny and Antoinette are determined that Eliza’s too good for George, and of course Eliza’s past and her motivations for marrying George are very secret, but when the Brightwells set up a matchmaking scheme with the very honourable Rufus Patmore who’s arrived to buy a horse, the real action begins.
Here’s an excerpt:

Chapter One

“And there’s nothing else you’d like, my dear? No?” George Bramley found it an effort to keep the syrup in his tone as he straightened up after receiving the polite rebuff.

His bride-to-be had not even looked at him as she’d declined the piece of marchpane he’d been certain would win him at least a smile.

Hovering at her side, he weighed up the advantages of a gentle rebuke, then decided against it. Until yesterday, he’d thought her quiet demeanour suggested a charmingly pliant nature. Now, he was not so sure. In fact, suddenly, he was not sure of anything.

“A glass of lemonade perhaps, my angel? Or a gentle stroll?”

“I would prefer to be left alone.” Miss Montrose waved a languid hand, while she continued to gaze at the still lake beside which their picnic party had situated itself.

George blinked and tried to mute his anger. The languid hand wave had not even been accompanied by a demure thank you as subtle acknowledgement of her gratitude, that not only had Mr Bramley, heir to a viscountcy, stepped in to rescue Miss Eliza Montrose from impoverishment, he was prepared to treat her publicly as if she were as fine a catch as he could have made.

A soft titter brought his head round sharply, but the ladies behind him, bent over the latest Ackerman’s Repository, appeared occupied with their own gossip as they lounged on cushions beneath the canopy that had been erected to protect them from the sun.

Awkwardly, he looked for occupation as he continued to eye his intended with a mixture of irritation and desire—both lustful desire, and the desire to put her in her place.

The idea of the latter made him harden. She was beautiful, this quiet, apparently retiring, young woman who said so little, but whose eyes spoke such volumes. The afternoon sun added a rich gloss to her hair and imbued her porcelain skin with a warm glow. The skin that he could see at any rate.

He pushed back his shoulders. On their wedding night in three weeks, when he’d at last taken possession of her, he’d rip that modesty to shreds. The skin she was so at pains to hide would be his, not only to see, but to caress and taste. When she was his wife, the beautiful, distant Miss Eliza Montrose would no longer get away with paying George Bramley so little attention. No, he’d have her screaming and writhing at his command. He would make her like the things he did to her, or at least show him she did if she enjoyed harmony as much as she appeared to. None of this languid reclining like a half-drugged princess in his presence. He’d keep her on her toes, ready to leap to his bidding at the sound of his footstep. She’d learn to be grateful.

Feeling ignored and superfluous, he turned to his uncle’s detestable wife, Lady Quamby, and said with a smile, “Perhaps you and Miss Montrose would like to accompany me to the turret. Since you appear to have enjoyed this new novel, Northanger Abbey, so much, you might be interested to know there is an excellent view of the ruined monastery not far from here.”

He was just priding himself on being so attuned to the feminine inclination for pleasure, when Lady Quamby half turned and sent him a desultory smile. “Oh, I think Miss Montrose looks perfectly comfortable, and Fanny and I are having such a lovely little coze.” As if imitating Miss Montrose, she waved a languid hand in his general direction. “Why don’t you take Mr Patmore off to see it? The two of you can tell us all about it when you return.”

The fact that Miss Montrose didn’t deign to even speak for herself, much less glance in his direction, sent the blood surging to Bramley’s brain. By God, when he was married to Eliza Montrose, the limpid look of love so lacking now would be pasted onto her face every time he crossed her line of vision. She’d soon learn what was good for her.

He inclined his head, hiding his fury, and was on the point of leaving when Lady Quamby’s sister, Fanny—for he’d be damned if he’d accord the little strumpet the title of Lady Fenton—leapt up from her chair. She’d been poring over the latest fashions, but now she smiled brightly up at him.

“I’ll come with you, Cousin George. We’ll have an excellent view from the battlements of the children learning to row. I told Nanny Brown and the nursemaid they could take them in the two boats if the children had been good.”

Bramley fixed her with a dampening look. In fact, he was about to give up the idea of going up to the battlements altogether when his other guest, Rufus Patmore, suddenly rose and joined Fanny’s side with a late and unexpected show of enthusiasm.

“Capital idea!” declared Rufus.

George flashed them both a dispassionate look. He’d chosen to invite his betrothed, Miss Montrose—whose chaperone was currently tucked up in the green bedchamber nursing a head cold—to be his guest at his uncle’s estate, Quamby House, after receiving intelligence that Ladies Quamby and Fenton would be safely in London with their husbands and children. Instead, the brazen Brightwell sisters—as they’d infamously been called when he’d first made their acquaintance—had altered their plans, and were now in dogged attendance, reminding him as they always had, of some awful tenacious climbing plant, determined to find a foothold wherever they could in order to rise in the world.

Rufus, a last minute addition and acquaintance from his club, Boodles, was here because he’d purchased a horse from Bramley the night before. Now, Rufus was gazing at Lady Fenton with the same dewy-eyed fondness George was used to seeing reflected in the eyes of his uncle, the Earl of Quamby, who called the Brightwell sisters his precious rosebuds. To George, they were common dandelions! And now they had overridden Quamby House, the rambling Queen Anne manor house and estate that would have passed to George the moment his uncle quit this mortal coil, were it not for the snotty-nosed infant Lady Quamby had borne far too early in her marriage to George’s uncle.

George shook his head. He’d changed his mind. Only, there was Rufus already ten yards away, striding across the lawn with Fanny at his side, and George didn’t want to be seen as petulant for having offered the suggestion in the first place. Or have his snubbed and ignored status so much on parade, since the two remaining ladies—Miss Montrose and Lady Quamby—now had their heads bent together in deep discussion, with no apparent interest in seeking his company.

By God, he thought, clenching his fists as he set off after the other two at a brisk trot, theyʾd all rue the day they showed George Bramley so little respect.

About Beverley

Beverley Oakley is an Australian author who grew up in the African mountain kingdom of Lesotho, married a Norwegian bush pilot she met in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, and started writing historical romances to amuse herself in the 12 countries she’s lived as a ‘trailing spouse’ (in between working as an airborne geophysical survey operator, a teacher of English as a Second Language, and writing for her former newspaper).
Her Scandalous Miss Brightwell series was nominated Best Historical Romance by the Australian Romance Readers Association.

Katie Ruggle's SURVIVE THE NIGHT w/ GIVEAWAY

“Vivid and charming.” —CHARLAINE HARRIS, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

 

He’s always been a haven:
For the lost. The sick. The injured.
But when a hunted woman takes shelter in his arms, this gentle giant swears he’ll do more than heal her battered spirit—he’ll defend her with his life. 
K9 Officer Otto Gunnersen always had a soft spot for anyone in need. As Monroe’s very own Dr. Doolittle, he dedicates himself to rehabilitating the injured souls that cross his path—but for all his big heart, he’s never been in love.
Until he meets Sarah Clifton’s haunted eyes. Until he realizes he’ll do anything to save her.
All Sarah wants is to escape a life caught between ambitious crime families, but there’s no outrunning her past. Her power-mad brother would hunt her to the ends of the earth…but he’d never expect Sarah to fight back. With Otto and the whole of Monroe, Colorado by her side, Sarah’s finally ready to face whatever comes her way.
It’s time to take a stand.       Amazon      B&N        iBooks

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A car turned onto the street, and her heart sank even further when she saw the light bar on top of the vehicle. Logan was a police officer. Had Aaron sent him after her? During that horrible dinner, Judd had mentioned that Logan had contacts. Did they include anyone at the Monroe Police Department?
As her brain raced, she’d frozen for a few seconds, long enough for the squad car to pull up to the curb in front of the carport. It was too late to run and pointless to hide. As close as the squad car was, the cop had to have seen her on the carport. A strong gust of wind pushed her off-balance, and Sarah sat abruptly. There might be no escaping him, but at least she wouldn’t be blown off the roof.
As the police officer swung open the driver’s door and got out, unfolding his large frame, Sarah felt her throat tightening. It was the tall, burly cop she’d met after she’d just arrived, the one who was so terrifyingly handsome that it was a struggle to look at him—like a cross between a Viking and a lumberjack. The one who’d watched her steadily and silently with light-blue eyes until he’d quietly left her room. The way he’d looked at her made her illogically worried that he could read all of her secrets and was just waiting for her to confess.
Once Grace had introduced him as a cop, Sarah had sealed her lips together, afraid that something incriminating would tumble out of her mouth. It didn’t matter that she’d done nothing wrong, that she was an adult and legally couldn’t be forced to stay with her brother—much less marry creepy Logan. There was something about him that still made her…not nervous, but jittery. No, she thought, jittery isn’t right, either. He made her feel too aware of him.
He immediately looked up at her, confirming her suspicion that he’d known she was on the roof even before he pulled up. As he walked closer, he held her gaze, silently as he had before. Rather than ordering her off the roof or yelling at her to get down, as she’d expected, he circled around to the side of the carport. Instead of climbing on the car, as she had, he reached up and grasped the edge of the roof and hauled himself up with an ease that Sarah envied. Once he was up, he sat a few feet away from her.
She eyed his profile as he looked out over the street. What was he doing? If he was going to arrest her, to take her into custody and hand her over to Logan, she wished he’d just get it over with. Sitting next to him, waiting for him to do something, was making her muscles painfully tight.
When he hadn’t said anything for several minutes, Sarah knew she had to break the silence. If one of them didn’t talk, her head was going to pop like an overinflated tire.
“Sorry.” The word came out too softly, and it squeaked in the middle. “There were elk.”
He turned his head to look at her.
“They were fighting?” Clearing her throat, she tried to make her words sound more definite. It was hard, though. His continued silence was freaking her out. “I was afraid of getting caught in the middle, so I climbed up here. Did someone call you?”
His chin dipped down in a nod. Even though he hadn’t actually said anything out loud, the gesture was a huge relief.
“I was going to get down, but I was worried they’d come back. Then I heard your car engine, and…well, you arrived.”
It was a weak finish, she knew, but there was no way to explain her terror at hearing a car, not without telling him too much about her former life. After all, she still didn’t know if he was one of Logan’s contacts. Even if he wasn’t, if a fellow cop arrived and said something awful—like that she wasn’t mentally sound or that she’d committed a crime—Otto would believe the police officer over some woman he’d just met. Sarah had been sheltered, but she’d read books and watched TV. She knew that cops were loyal to each other.
“Is it strange?” Now that she’d started talking, she didn’t want to return to that unnerving silence, the one that made her think he was reading her thoughts with some magical, gorgeous-cop superpower. He cocked his head slightly, as if in question. “Strange that the elk are in town, fighting in the middle of the street? I’m new to the mountains, but it seems weird to me. I mean, squirrels can hang out in town, or rabbits, but elk right here next to all these houses? That seems wrong.”
His lips twitched in something that might have been a start of a smile. There was another pause, long enough for Sarah to think he wasn’t going to answer. Was this some strange interrogation technique? He refused to talk until she spilled all of her secrets? If so, it was surprisingly effective. His silence made her want to open her mouth and let everything inside her head spill out. Quickly, she sealed her lips together. Sharing her thoughts with this cop would be dangerous—very, very dangerous.
He cleared his throat and she jumped. “It’s not strange. Not here, at least.” His voice was a bass rumble, not loud but big and full. It fit him.
“Oh.” Relief flowed through her when he finally spoke. For some reason, hearing his voice made her warm and brought that same not-quite-jittery feeling she’d experienced before. Not able to hold his gaze, she glanced down at his car. “I probably should’ve just stayed where I was, then. If it’s normal and all. Those antlers crashing together was just very…loud.”
There was another pause, although it wasn’t quite so long this time. “You were smart to move out of the way.”
“Good. I mean, thank you.” Silence settled over them again. “Why are you here, then?”
“We got a call that you were up here.” He met her gaze, and she couldn’t manage to look away. “I, ah, wanted to make sure you were okay.”
It wasn’t what she’d expected, and it wasn’t what she was used to. No one ever worried that she was okay. His concern sparked a warm glow in her belly. She smiled, and his gaze dropped to her mouth. “Thank you. I’m okay.”
His eyes snapped back to hers. “Good.” There was a short silence. “Do you need help down?”
“Yes, please.” She glanced at the ground below. Now that the scare was over, she wouldn’t feel right climbing onto the car, and it was a long drop for her five-foot-nothing self. “Just a hand down, though. Don’t call the fire department or anything. That could be embarrassing.”
His mouth quirked again. “I won’t.”
Moving over to the edge of the roof, he swung his legs off the side and lowered himself down. Once again, he made it look so effortless that Sarah felt a little silly for asking for help. She followed, turning onto her belly and letting her legs slide over the edge. His hands steadied her, sliding from her calves to her thighs and then gripping her waist. It was a strange sensation, his firm grip both comforting and slightly dizzying, and it made her pause.
“I’ve got you,” he said in his low, steady way, his fingers wrapped almost all the way around her middle.
It was crazy to trust this stranger—this cop—but Sarah couldn’t help herself. Just from their short conversation, her gut told her that he was nothing like Aaron or Logan or any of the petty, vicious people who had populated her previous life. Maybe he was conning her, but Sarah suspected he was honestly good.
Closing her eyes, she let go of the roof. Just as he’d promised, Otto carefully lowered her down. Even after her feet were securely on the ground and he’d released her, Sarah could still feel the warm impression of his hands pressing into her skin.
“Would you like a ride home?” he asked, and she realized that she’d been staring at him.
Ripping her gaze from his face, she glanced around. “I think I’ll finish my walk. It looks like the road is elk-free. They probably went to the diner for breakfast.”
That almost-smile came and went quickly, but it still gave Sarah a charge that she’d caused it. As she started to walk back toward Jules’s driveway, she expected to hear the squad car engine roar to life, but the morning stayed quiet. The wind had dropped to a gentle breeze, and the rising sun warmed her. When she reached the turnoff for her driveway, she couldn’t resist—she glanced behind her.
Otto was still parked by the carport. She wondered if he was watching to make sure that she made it home safely. The thought gave her a warm thrill, but she quickly quashed it. Monroe was just a temporary stop on her road to freedom. She needed to focus on building her new life, not on a Viking-lumberjack cop with steady blue eyes and huge, warm hands.
At the memory of his firm grip, another frisson of excitement whirled through her. This time, she let it stay. She’d enjoy it for a few moments, she promised herself, but then she would do her best to avoid Officer Otto Gunnersen. With a final glance at the surprisingly intriguing man behind her, she strode up the rutted dirt driveway, smiling.