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CHASING SHADOWS excerpt & giveaway with Catherine Bybee

Avery’s head shot up at the sound of a female voice calling her name.

“Lori?”

Oh, damn…

When Lori was at their table, Avery detached from Liam’s side and stood for a hug. “What are you doing here? Where’s Reed?”

Lori eyed Liam while she answered the questions. “Reed’s on his way down. We’re going out to dinner. Wanted a drink first.”

What were the chances of Lori excusing herself before Avery was forced to make an introduction?

Lori reached out a hand toward Liam. “I’m Lori.”

Liam stood; a broad smile matched his broad chest. “Liam Holt.” Once he released Lori’s hand, he pulled out a bar stool. “Sit, we just ordered drinks.”

Avery wanted to elbow his ribs.

Instead, she smiled.

Liam signaled for Nikki.

“Liam, huh? Avery hasn’t mentioned you.”

He pulled Avery’s chair closer to his and waited for her to sit. “We haven’t known each other long.”

Lori sent a questioning look to Avery. Instead of adding to Liam’s explanation.

“I’ve known Lori for a few years. We live in the same building.”

“What do you do, Liam?”

Small talk … is that what this was going to be?

Lori signaled Reed when he walked in the door. “This is my husband.”

Avery laughed. “You love saying that, don’t you?”

Lori nodded.

“They’re newlyweds,” Avery explained.

Once again Liam stood when Reed approached the table.

“Look who I found,” Lori said.

Reed kissed Avery’s cheek. “I haven’t seen you here in a while.”

“That’s because you two never come up for air,” Avery teased.

“This is Liam … Avery’s friend.” Yeah, Lori wanted more details.

The men shook hands.

“Have I ever met one of your friends?” he asked.

Avery glared. “Smooth, Reed … really smooth.”

Lori nudged her husband’s arm. “Stop teasing.” She turned her focus on Liam. “Avery keeps her private life private.”

Avery tried not to flinch when Liam placed a hand over hers. “I’ve figured that out recently.”

“How did you two meet?” Reed asked.

Avery said “the gym” at the same time Liam said “a bar.”

Lori’s lawyer radar spiked. Avery saw it in her eyes. “Those two things are worlds apart.”

She caught Liam’s hand and squeezed.

“The first time I saw you was at Pug’s Bar. I approached you at the gym.”

“I knew it. That was you at Pug’s. How did you figure out where I worked out?” She’d been asking herself that question for over a week.

“That wasn’t hard. Leslie had a gym bag.”

“Who’s Leslie?” Lori asked.

Avery didn’t look away from Liam. “A friend. So your job at the gym wasn’t on accident?”

“I might have approached Brenda about a side job so I could meet you.”

Avery’s jaw dropped.

“Who’s Brenda?” Reed asked.

“The owner of the gym,” Avery and Liam said at the same time. “How did you know I was there on Tuesday and Friday nights?” She wasn’t sure if his actions were exciting or scary.

“Appointment book. Brenda’s office is always open.”

“Wait, wait, wait.” Lori placed a hand between the two of theirs. “You see Avery in a bar. You search out a location of her gym, follow her to it, get a job there, and now you’re both here having drinks?”

Liam offered a brief, unapologetic nod.

Lori grabbed Avery’s hand. “How well do you know this guy?”

Avery liked the gleam in Liam’s eyes. “He’s safe.”

“What he just described is a little too close to stalking for my taste.”

Reed placed a hand on Lori’s shoulder. “Simmer down, Counselor. If Liam had an ulterior motive, he wouldn’t have told us all that.”

“I wanted to meet you,” Liam said. “

Yeah, well, you’ve met her.” Lori wasn’t happy.

Nikki showed up with Avery’s and Liam’s drinks.

“My usual, Nikki,” Lori told her.

“Hon, our reservations are in thirty minutes. Maybe we should go.”

Lori looked at Reed like he was crazy. “We aren’t leaving him with her. He could be a sociopath.”

Liam smiled, his eyes crinkling with amusement. “I’m not.”

“That’s what they all say.”

Avery put a free hand in the air. “Chill, Lori.”

Avery realized that her other hand had somehow ended up back in Liam’s. His thumb stroked the underside of her wrist in a strangely calming way.

“Do you want a drink, Reed?” Nikki was still standing there, watching the four of them.

“No, thank you. We’re leaving.”

Lori pushed back her chair. “We’re going to talk about this later,” she warned Avery. “And you … just so you know, I’m an attorney, and my big, burly husband here is in private security. He has even bigger friends.”

Liam reached into his back pocket and removed his wallet. From it, he pulled out what looked like a business card. “I have nothing to hide.”

Lori glanced at it briefly before Reed snatched it from her fingertips. “C’mon. Let’s leave them to their date.”

Liam stood again and shook Reed’s hand before he ushered Lori out of the bar.

“That was intense.”

“My friends are protective.”

“Understatement.”

“You really went through all that just to meet me?”

Liam picked up his cocktail for the first time. “Worked, didn’t it?”

Avery let loose his hand and lifted her glass to his. “Yes, it did.”

***

Avery Grant doesn’t date. Her first marriage was a mutually beneficial contract that gave her the financial freedom she needed to step away from her controlling parents. Wealthy and single, the last thing she’s looking for is love sneaking in to mess up her life plans. And after a brutal attack, she’s determined to never be vulnerable again, even if the new man in her life helps her feel safe.
Mesmerized from the moment he sets his eyes on Avery, Liam is driven to learn everything about this tough, sexy, challenging woman. Breaking down her defenses won’t be easy, but Liam refuses to be pushed away. All he needs is a tiny crack in Avery’s armor to wiggle his way into her heart.
But when a terrifying lie about her attacker’s fate comes to light, Avery’s past returns to haunt her. Now she’s willing to put herself in danger to get the answers she needs. That means jeopardizing the best thing that’s ever happened to her: Liam.

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New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bybee has written twenty-eight books that have collectively sold more than five million copies and have been translated into more than eighteen languages. Raised in Washington State, Bybee moved to Southern California in the hope of becoming a movie star. After growing bored with waiting tables, she returned to school and became a registered nurse, spending most of her career in urban emergency rooms. She now writes full-time and has penned the Not Quite Series, the Weekday Brides Series, the Most Likely To Series, and the First Wives Series.

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Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2905789.Catherine_Bybee

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