I'm giving away another FOUR ebook copies of SANCTUARY LOST to the first four people to comment.
Leave me your email in this format: lisaphillipsbks at gmail dot com (because we all hate that phishing spam) and whether you need Kindle or Nook...
U.S. Marshal John Mason gains full custody of his son and is transferred to Sanctuary, a witness protection town that isn't on any map. When the town's first ever murder occurs, John's plans to reconnect with his boy are derailed by the investigation. Andra Caleri gave up her old life a long time ago, but someone wants her out of Sanctuary--to pay. As accusations fly and John uncovers a conspiracy that stretches all the way to Washington, Andra's past comes back in a true test of the mercy she received. Can John give up what he wants the most to bring the truth to light?
John Mason looked beyond
the gun to the eyes of the man about to kill him. Only a coward shot someone
unarmed and duct-taped to a chair. John couldn’t even twitch the tape was so
tight around his chest, pinning his arms to his sides so he could grasp only
air in his fists.
puffed out like smoke and the sweat on his forehead was a layer of permafrost.
How long until he sank into hypothermia? Probably not faster than it would take
to be on his back in a pool of his own brain matter…still tied to this chair.
heavies stood behind him, one at seven o’clock and one at four. The
mouth-breather was starting to get on his nerves and John had more important
things to think about. Like last requests, and not crapping his pants.
being aimed at his front shifted with the gunman’s movement. John bit the
inside of his lip in a concerted effort not to flinch.
“Think you’re a big man, don’t you? Mr. U.S.
Marshal John Mason.” The gunman’s lip curled. “That’s right. I know all about
you, the big shot who takes all the hard cases. Trackin’ down guys like me who
just want to get on with their lives. I took the trouble to escape from
Allenwood. You’d think that might tell ya’ll somethin’. You think you gonna
take me back?”
dropped the blank mask and lifted his chin. “At this juncture, I’m thinking
that option might be off the table.”
raised the weapon and slammed it against John’s temple. Pain struck with the
strength of a three-hundred-pound enforcer. John kept his eyes closed,
swallowing the nausea.
The words he said next washed over John. He’d been living in this world too
long if the double-barreled insult didn’t even make him blink. He was going to
die here, drowned in the ocean of filth that had penetrated his pores for the
last twelve months and become part of him.
wasn’t he dead yet?
shifted his stance. John dipped his head to the side and wiped the blood from
his cheek onto the shoulder of his formerly white t-shirt.
ceiling was two stories high with bird nests where the metal beams crossed each
other. Pallets were strewn on the floor, like someone just tossed them and
walked out…fifteen years ago. The air was thick with dust and a cat had
possibly died in the corner to his left, sometime in the past decade.
mouth-breather was at it again, until a car pulled up outside. “Boss is here.”
gunman’s spine snapped straight. “Good. I’m done dealin’ with this guy.”
done enough to warrant an extended sentence and didn’t want the wrap for
murdering a federal agent. Apparently, the gunman was happy to pass the
privilege on up the chain.
his eyes on the door while two car doors slammed… a third.
strode in. Tailored suits, the two at the back had automatic weapons. How many
bullets were they planning on putting in him?
man of the pack was more myth than bona fide human. He never came out in
daylight, never met with anyone. Did all his business through his lieutenants
and had never in his life been convicted of anything. Why he needed an army of
federal fugitives on his payroll was open for estimation, but no one had a
clue. Least of all John.
hair was dark and slicked with grease, his forehead completely smooth, which
meant he either got Botox or he’d had a stress-free life. John wasn’t convinced
enough to put money down on either. His suit was brown and he had an
honest-to-goodness gold tooth to brighten his smile.
your hand, but…” John shrugged with his head as much as was possible.
that. It’s unfortunate, I’m not a fan of killing a man when he’s restrained.”
say I wouldn’t do it. I just said I’m not a fan.” He motioned to the gunman
with his fingertips and the gun was placed in his hand.
It was now
“So, you’re the great Alphonz. Honestly, you look more like a Charlie.”
“Is any of
us really what we seem? Take you for example. On paper John Mason is a
two-strike car thief with no assets and poor taste in shoes.”
wrong with his sneakers?
when one digs beyond the smoke screen, John Mason is in fact the fourth son of
a deceased Kansas plumber whose widow currently resides in Richmond, Virginia.
Dropped dead in his truck, didn’t he?”
Alphonz know this?
brother of the Dolphins newest quarterback.”
currently unemployed, former U.S. Army logistics specialist.”
appear unemployed on paper but he did have a job. It was just none of them knew
what it was and he wouldn’t talk about it when they asked.
but not least, the oldest son. Grant Mason, the director of the U.S. Marshals.”
John bit down
on his lip.
addition to this salt-of-the-earth pedigree, John Mason also has an ex-wife who
has since remarried and an eight year old son who barely knows he exists.”
be a shame for any of them to meet an untimely demise. No?”
lifted the gun. “It appears I already have it. But I’m not a bad man. Do you
have any last words? Some pithy sentiment I can personally pass to your boy?”
struggled against the tape but he was bound too tight to move. “You don’t touch
you care? It’s not like you ever see the boy. He’s perfectly happy with his
mother and step-father. I should know, since I personally looked into it.”
noise emerged from his throat. John tried to swallow it down but he couldn’t.
His eyes filled with tears.
squeezed his eyes shut. His last breath was a shuddered inhale.
fired, followed by another—a rat-tat.
nothing. The rear right leg of the chair gave out and he crashed to the floor.
Lights flashed on and a wave of booted federal agents ran into the room.
gunfire rang out and someone returned fire. The gunman hit the floor in front
of him. John tried to shift with the chair but only got an inch. The blood from
his temple shifted to run into his eyes. John jerked harder against the tape but
he was still bound.
that voice and the others who yelled, “Freeze! Federal Marshals, you’re under
chest got tight. Someone knelt by his face and he was being jostled. He moaned
at the pain in his shoulder. The tape loosened and he was pulled to his back. A
sleeve closed in, wiping off his forehead and then he saw who it was.
man. Your brother couldn’t make it. He was tied up in something but he said
he’d call you later.” Marshal Banks’ bushy gray eyebrows folded together. He
flashed a tiny light in one of John’s eyes and then the other. “Anything hurt
other than your head?”
you checked out.” Banks leaned back to sit on his heels. “It’s been a long
year. How are you doing?”
turned his head. Alphonz was on his face with a knee in his back as the marshal
cuffed him. Alphonz’s dark gaze settled on John. “You’re a dead man.”
sure I’m alive, actually.”
Banks squeezed the wrong shoulder. John blacked out for a second. Dislocated. “Don’t worry about him.”
blinked a few times and found the older man’s face. “How’s Pat?”
you a phone. You can find out for yourself.”
be in bed.”
off if you get a shower and a good night’s rest and go see him in the morning.”
Banks’ eyes shifted. “Medics are here.”
John took a shower at the hospital. After they
admitted him and did an MRI to check for cranial bleeding. Good for him, his
luck wasn’t that bad. They kept him for observation and he barely slept since
every marshal on the east coast traipsed through his room to shake his hand and
congratulate him on their largest take down in years.
man. Well done.”
one else was hurt. You did good.”
Mason. Your brother must be proud.”
all the glory in the family, eh?”
John had been sent in to find out why Alphonz was recruiting federal fugitives,
something he still didn’t have an answer to.
awake in the hospital room, the light in the bathroom on and the door cracked
like the nurse thought he needed a nightlight so he could sleep. John stared at
the ceiling tiles.
Why had the
team breached tonight of all nights?
point of going undercover was being out of contact. So how did they know Alphonz
was going to show up and try to kill John? There must have been someone else in
Alphonz’s operation. Or they’d gotten a tip from a fugitive with an attack of
morals who knew John’s real identity and didn’t want to see him killed.
thing was beyond bizarre. Not that he wasn’t thankful to be alive. Even if his
shoulder being put back into place hurt more than any other injury in his life.
Pain meant you were still breathing.
to know where he was, so why hadn’t his brother called? What could be more
important to the director of the marshals tonight than their biggest take-down
have asked him, but Grant never called and John didn’t remember the number.
The key stuck in the lock. John muscled open the front door of his
apartment and dumped his duffel bag on the entryway floor. The place smelled
like bleach bathroom cleaner and the surfaces were free of dust. John found the
patio door key and opened it, trying to air out the place. His mom must have
come by or hired someone to clean.
was just as he’d left it twelve months and three days ago—when his son had been
seven. Now Pat was eight but it wasn’t long enough he’d have forgotten who his
father was. Given time, they could reconnect. If Ellen let him.
onto the couch and kicked away his boots. He gritted his teeth and stripped off
the scrubs top the hospital had given him after they cut his shirt away.
across the dining area between the vertical blinds, but he didn’t sleep.
Alphonz might be in custody but John didn’t feel any of the satisfaction which
should’ve been there.
satisfaction he’d felt with other undercover assignments.
By the TV
he hadn’t watched in a year was a framed picture of him and Pat when his son
was about four. Pat was on his hip and they were smiling at each other, his
tiny hands touching John’s face.
John fell asleep
with the feel of Pat’s hands on his cheeks.
Pounding on the door woke
him. It was dark and his watch said six-thirty p.m., same day. He yanked the
door open, still blinking away the blur of sleep. “What?”
as always, Jonathan.” Ellen cocked the hip of her tiny skirt, not an ounce of
fat on her. If he hugged her she’d probably feel like a tree branch. But that would
mean she let him touch her, which hadn’t happened for a lot longer than the
four years they’d been divorced.
a long week.”
mother told me you were home and I didn’t want to wait any longer to speak with
was using her city-girl lawyer voice. That was never good.
shifted and looked around her. “Where’s Pat?”
what I wanted to speak with you about.”
heavy settled in John’s stomach. “Come inside.”
you could put a shirt on.”
a question. John turned and flipped on the light switch. Ellen gasped. He
ignored her and trailed to his bedroom closet where he grabbed the first
t-shirt he laid eyes on. A bruise stretched across the back of his shoulder. He
could see it in the mirror even with the dim light of his bedroom.
back out. “You want some coffee?”
no need. This won’t take long.” She set her purse down on the couch—if she put
it on the floor the bottom would get dirty—and opened the latches of her
lawyer-bag to pull out a manila envelope, which she set on the breakfast bar.
already got a divorce.”
smile. “Those are custody papers. I had them drawn up.”
fatigue in him dissipated. “If you think for one second I’m going to give up my
you could make that claim if you ever actually saw your son.” Ellen’s already
tiny lips thinned into a pressed line. “But be that as it may, you’re home now.
I’m not waiting any longer. Stefan was offered a position in Boston and he has
taken it. I’m to join him as soon as possible and I’m afraid this move is not
conducive to bringing a small child.”
“Our boy is
cramping your high-falutin’ lifestyle?”
for one second, not be the hick-town boy so we can have a civilized
discussion?” Her body tightened so much she looked like a popsicle stick. “I
have been the lone parent of our child for long enough, John Mason. It’s time
for you to quit being so selfish and be the parent now.”
John folded his arms across his chest. “Where is Pat?”
Patrickat your mother’s this
“If I take
him, I want full custody for good. No changing your mind.”
pulled back to reveal unnaturally white teeth. “I am not the bad guy here.
You’re the one who hasn’t seen his son in a year.”
“I was on
didn’t have a phone?”
it doesn’t work like that. You of all people know what this job entails.”
of being a marshal, or the job of doing everything possible to make your
brother proud of you?”
them needed to go there. “Ellen—”
the papers. All I need now is your signature and I will file them with my
attorney. I want two weeks in the summer and alternating Christmases.”
have his son with him permanently? He had no idea what position he’d be in next.
Surely Grant would make sure John got home for dinner regularly.
said, “Whatever you want” but that was never a good idea with Ellen. He’d worry
about how this was going to work with his job later. She was right, even if he
didn’t like the fact she was essentially dumping Pat on him.
It was his
turn to be the parent.
strode to the counter, signed the forms and then handed them to her. “If we’re
done here, I’d like to get to Pat.”
the papers and collected up her purse and leather briefcase. “I almost feel as
if I should say something. Mark this occasion somehow. After all, it’s been a
whole fifteen minutes and we’ve managed to not shout at each other.”
his lips twitch. “Let’s not get carried away.”
of him, John.” Sadness edged into her gaze, darkening her face despite the
light blond shade of her hair and the peach color that flashed every time she
blinked. “I knew Stefan didn’t want children of his own. I thought that meant
he was content to be a step-father to Patrick. But this move will be good for
us. The time alone means we can…re-connect.”
going to stop talking sometime soon? John wanted to know if his son was okay.
Now. He swiped up his keys.
sighed. “I don’t expect you to understand.”
I don’t. You’re giving up your son for your marriage?”
down her nose, despite being two inches shorter than his five-foot-eleven. “You
gave him up for your job.”
arguing with you.” He clenched and unclenched the hold on his truck keys. Was
she going to leave already? Ellen stared back at him.
sighed. “Take care, darlin’.”
face melted. “We did have some good times, didn’t we?”
currently the good part of their marriage was at his mom’s house in who knew
what state. “I guess we did.”
until John started working undercover. It had been a step in the right direction
for his career, but ended up costing him his marriage when his wife of five
years decided she didn’t want to be a single parent. Then she divorced him so she
could become one anyway, with the added bonus of child support.
call me if Pat needs anything?”
But he wouldn’t.
done with undercover and he was going to make sure Pat didn’t need anything
He didn’t knock on his mom’s door. John grabbed the hide-a-key from the
crack in the siding and let himself in. “Mom, it’s me.”
Grant who strode from the living room, his hair still more brown than gray even
though he was pushing forty-seven. “She’s at bingo.”
left?” John ran a hand through his already disheveled hair. He needed to get it
promised her he was fine. He’s stubborn, like someone else I know.”
man stepped into the hall, which was lined with cardboard boxes. Pat’s stuff?
John zeroed in on his son’s face—a mini version of his own but with Ellen’s
nose before she had it fixed. Pat looked at his feet, rubbing one shoe against
the toe of the other.
his lip. “Hey, kid.”
John’s brother and his wife had three girls—now teenagers—so he might think he
was the expert on parenting, but Grant had never understood the bond between
father and son. At least, John hoped they still had one. Maybe he’d killed it.
his chest, right above his heart. Pat’s eyes were wide but he didn’t look angry
or upset. That was good, right? John sank to his knees in the foyer, ignoring
the pain in his shoulder. He rubbed his forehead, his fingers scratching at the
bandage. Right. His head. He’d forgotten about that.
Pat’s voice shook.
lowered his hand. “I’m okay.”
his head and motioned Pat over. Okay,
that hurt. Thankfully Pat didn’t hesitate, so John didn’t have to suffer
Grant watching him fail as a father for the seven-billionth time. It was bad
enough without an audience.
steps gathered speed as he crossed the foyer. John opened his arms and Pat hit
him at a full tackle, knocking John onto his backside. He wrapped his arms
around his eight-year-old son and held him for the first time in a year. The
assignment wasn’t supposed to have taken this much time, but he’d known going
in it would be as long as it took to complete the job.
jerked. “You don’t want me to live with you?”
stay here with Grandma. It’ll be fine.”
touched his cheeks, the same way Pat had done with him in the picture. “Listen
to me now. I’m not going anywhere, not anymore.”
Grant heard him, just as much as Pat. Because John didn’t want any more
And if his
brother didn’t like it, he was going to quit.
U.S. Marshal John Mason gains full custody of his son and is transferred to Sanctuary, a WITSEC town that isn't on any map.
When the town's first ever murder occurs, John's plans to reconnect with his boy are derailed by the investigation.
Andra Caleri gave up her old life a long time ago, but someone wants her out of Sanctuary--to pay.
As accusations fly and John uncovers a conspiracy that stretches all the way to Washington, Andra's past comes back in a true test of the mercy she received. Can John give up what he wants the most to bring the truth to light?
It's available now for pre-order on iTunes and Barnes and Noble for Nook customers, and goes on sale officially on June 30th!
Meet my September 2014 Love Inspired Suspense, STAR WITNESS!
I LOVE how the road is cracked, and the sky is gorgeous. I'm kinda geeking out right now!
SHE THOUGHT SHE WAS SAFE
Mackenzie Winters spent years building a life in Witness Protection, but when someone shoots at her, she fears her cover has been blown. Could the brother of the drug lord she put away be here for revenge? Mackenzie must rely on her handler's twin, world-weary Delta Force soldier Aaron Hanning, to protect her. Aaron doesn't want to be anyone's hero, but he can't let this brave woman die. Now, with danger stalking them, they'll have to make a daring choice that means life or death—for them both.
I'm spending the day over with the lovely Seekerville ladies!
Seekerville is a primarily Christian fiction blog for authors at all stages of their publishing journey. I'll be talking about MAGMA: finding the core of your story. It's about pitching, and focus. And finding what it is about your book that's unique to you, and will grab readers' attentions.
Target is free for the next 3 days: May 6 (Tuesday) through May 8 (Thursday). So swing on over to Amazon and snap up your copy!
Special Agent Liam Conners is the only witness to his neighbor’s abduction: the Chloroform Killer has struck again.But when his neighbor, Andrea James, returns from a business trip, they realize the killer’s mistake—her sister has been abducted in her place.Now the killer is coming for Andrea, and Liam and his partner are the only ones standing in the way. Can they catch the killer and protect the target?
As a spy, Sabine Laduca works alone. But when she investigates her brother's murder, she's forced into an uneasy alliance with his Delta Force team leader. The CIA taught Sabine to trust no one, and Sergeant Major Doug Richardson is no exception. The handsome soldier hides his own secrets, but nothing will stop Sabine from finding out who killed her brother. Not even when the CIA declares her rogue. Now not only is the killer after her, so is the agency. For the first time, she needs someone—Doug. Because only he can help her find the truth…and only he can keep her safe….
What follows is a DELETED SCENE! The original first chapter.
It's Ben's funeral, so Doug and the team are at Sabine's house for the wake. It's full of fabulous things like backstory and telling, which is why it was deleted. But you get a feel for the angst, the secrets and the conflict. There are also some chunks that were inserted into the actual book later, so if you've read the book you might notice a couple of paragraphs that sound a little familiar. Enjoy!
None of them had smiled
in weeks, not since Ben’s death. Army Sergeant Major Doug Richardson removed
his beret, closing the front door behind him. The whole house smelled like
flowers from the funeral arrangements. Full of rich wood floors and landscape
paintings, framed photos stretched up the staircase wall. Images of Ben as a
child playing at the beach, Ben on prom night.
walking his big sister up the aisle to marry the wrong guy.
fact that one in particular still hung was a surprise, since Doug heard the
divorce was finalized three years ago.
Catching the eye of his team mate, Barker, Doug got a nod
in the direction of the kitchen. He bypassed the living room, avoiding small
talk with any of the guests and headed for the end of the hall.
the time Ben had been part of the team, Doug had met the guy’s sister maybe twice at
barbecues. Seeing her standing alone beside Ben’s grave, the wind whipping hair
around her face, the weight of her grief had just about killed him. It made him
almost miss the strain when she was handed the folded up flag. Had anyone
touched her, it would have broken under the tight hold on her emotions.
Sabine hadn’t spoken to anyone, or made eye contact with
any of the mourners gathered. That ‘don’t come near me’ attitude was something
she came by naturally. Ben had been the same way—confident almost to a fault.
It didn’t surprise him she was some high-powered
financial type at the bank where she worked. Travelling all over the world for
her job, Ben had told anyone who would listen that his sister was a big deal.
Easing open the frosted glass door, he saw her in
profile, between the center island and the counter. As she gripped the edges of
the sink, Doug finally he got a look at her knee-length black dress. It
flattered her figure in a way that wasn’t suggestive. She was pure class. Her
only nod to color on this somber occasion was a pair of red heels that raised
her to his height.
took his breath away so much that he could barely get a word out. Despite his
status as team leader, he mostly figured she thought he was a moron.
dark hair fell around her face, its strands reflecting everything from auburn
to dark chocolate under the fluorescent light. The muscles in her torso heaved
with each breath, her flower necklace swinging as she sucked in air.
He must have made a noise, because Sabine whipped around.
When she saw who was standing there she took a deep breath and relaxed. That
had to be a sign in his favor.
“I didn’t mean to disturb you.” His shoes clipped on the
turned away to wipe down the spotless granite counter with a shaky hand. He’d
have believed she was fine had she not sucked in a breath that sounded
suspiciously like a sob. Doug crossed to her, taking the dishcloth from her
hand and tossing it back in the sink.
She lifted her eyes to his, almond pools that shimmered
with tears. He knew if he hugged her she’d lose it, so he lightly touched her
“I wasn’t going to…I can’t…” Her rich voice was hoarse.
Doug fought the need to hold her and
never let go, but he held still. All that training had to count for something.
Discipline he could handle. The feelings that threatened to overwhelm him every
time he saw Sabine were more difficult to deal with. Especially now.
He pulled a tumbler from a glass-fronted cupboard and
filled it at the fridge. She sipped slowly, avoiding his eyes.
Sabine gripped the glass like it was a line of defense.
She thought he was offering her condolences. Doug would
have done, if he thought he could get the words out.
was so much to apologize for.
Again, he found himself fighting the urge to hold her.
“Do you need anything?”
She looked relieved at the change in subject. “A group of
little old ladies from Ben’s church filled the freezer with enough meals for a
month.” She paused. “Everyone’s been really nice.”
Doug touched her elbow. It was slender, her skin smooth
under his rough fingers, calloused from a war he never wanted to reach her
that moment he was struck by the contrast between his chocolate colored skin
and the olive, almost Mediterranean hue of hers. Ben had been much lighter.
Doug had wondered before why the siblings hadn’t looked anything alike. The one
day he dared to ask, he’d been given a ‘back-off’ look. He hadn’t asked Ben again.
“They just want to help. They know how bad you’re hurting
because they feel the same way. Ben was dear to all of us. From the first day I
met him I considered him my brother. My annoyingly over-smart little brother.”
Sabine exhaled. Any other time it would have been a
laugh. “That sounds familiar.”
“He was a pain, but he won us all over. You couldn’t help
Her full pink lips thinned. “And now he’s gone.”
“It won’t always feel like this. It’ll ease.”
She shook her head, her hair waving back and forth. “I
don’t want it to ease. If the pain goes away it means I’m forgetting him.”
“It’s okay to heal, Sabine.”
“Sounds like you know.”
“I’ve lost brothers before. It doesn’t get easier, but
you learn how to deal with it. Some of the guys drink too much. Some blow off
the steam of their grief in other ways. You have to, or you’ll bottle it up
until one day you explode.”
Her eyes lifted. To his surprise there was a distinct
lack of vulnerability there. This lady had an iron core. “What do you do?”
“I run. And I pray while I run.”
Sabine pulled away from him for the second time. He
didn’t know where she stood on the whole faith thing, but Ben had been a new
Christian before his death. Time and again he’d caught the younger man eyeing
him over something he said or did. One night, alone on a mission Ben asked him
why he was different than the other team members.
Two days later Ben told Doug he’d made a commitment to
Two weeks after that Doug was holding his body when Ben took
his last breath.
Sabine looked at the door that led to the living room.
There was a look on her face he couldn’t decipher. “I should go out there.”
Ah, so she didn’t want to face everyone. She was probably
scared to be around people who were grieving when she was close to losing it
herself. Ben never liked people to know what he felt.
“You don’t have to go out there. I’ll run interference
for you. Just tell me what to do.”
“Thanks.” She hesitated a moment. “It’s Doug, right?”
His heart sank. She hadn’t even known his name. “Yeah,
“I might still call you MacArthur, though. The way the
He gave her a small smile. She probably thought of him as
MacArthur, since the nickname was thrown around frequently. “It’s actually my
He nodded. “Douglas MacArthur Richardson.”
He rolled his eyes. “Don’t get me started. It’s an old
family tradition, and with generations of soldiers we’re pretty big on
“That’s right. Your dad is some kind of big-time General.
I remember Ben saying.”
“He was pretty big in his day. Now he mostly smokes
cigars in his library and complains about the cost of prescriptions.”
The corners of Sabine’s mouth curled up, like she was
fighting a smile. He wished she’d let it out. He’d seen her smile. It was
incredible. Bested only when she tipped her head back and full-on laughed.
She turned away, pulling a silver platter of tiny
sandwiches from the fridge. Doug took it from her. “Living room?”
She nodded. “Please.”
Turning back, he saw the wide-eyes. The hurt little girl
left bereft by the death of her brother.
He smiled, wondering what she would say when she found
out Ben’s death was his fault.
Sabine watched him
leave, wondering why her heart felt like it had just woken up for the first
time. That had never happened any of the other times she’d met MacArthur—Doug.
The simple name suited his steady and uncomplicated nature. For the first time,
Sabine saw him as more than her brother’s team leader. He’d been a friend to
When you had few true friends it was hard to recognize
one, or to trust the offer of friendship when it was given to you. She was
thankful Doug had sought to comfort her. That was something severely lacking in
her life, but it still made her feel weak. And guilty.
Starting another pot of military-strength coffee, Sabine
glanced at the clock. Ever since the phone call that morning, she’d been on
edge. She had to figure out how to make sure everyone was out of her house by
seven that evening. It was four-thirty already, and she still had preparations
to make for tomorrow.
It didn’t matter that it was the day of her brother’s
funeral; there was a score to settle. When it was all over and her brother’s
killer was brought to justice, then she would take time off. Until then she had
to push away the tide of grief threatening to drown her. Despite the urgency of what she had to
do tomorrow and the time-sensitive aspect of it, the work itself would be a
much needed distraction. She had to focus on something that would take
everything she had. It would push her to draw deep of her strengths in order to
Ben had reacted…badly, when she told him what she really
did for a living. Granted, he’d been thrown after finally admitting to her what
his position was in the Army. Delta
Force. After he told her he was Special Ops, Sabine couldn’t let the
opportunity pass to open up about her own occupation. Who knew he would hit the
roof when he found out her job was just as dangerous as his—maybe more so since
she didn’t have a team to back her up.
Sabine realized then what it was that made her feel weak accepting
Doug’s comfort. It meant she couldn’t handle things on her own. After saying
‘thank you’ fifty-seven million times that day, accepting well-meant
condolences, offers of help and containers of casserole, Sabine needed to feel
She needed a win tomorrow.
Doug came back into the kitchen. He rounded the center
island, far too at ease with his size. He was big—not only in height, but
across the shoulders too. It was a wonder he fit through doorways. Ben had been skinny and baby-faced his whole
life. Even at thirty-one his uniform made him look more like a kid playing
dress up than an actual soldier. Doug, on the other hand, made the dark green
dress uniform look good. Mouthwateringly good.
He took the pot of coffee. “I’ll see who wants a refill.”
She nodded, distracted by his voice. It was deep and
almost melodic in tone. She liked listening to him shout instructions when the
guys played their extremely intense version of touch-football. Now she knew
that when he spoke in that low voice, it chased away the shivers.
Too bad nothing could come of it.
Ben’s reaction to her job had been tempered by what he
knew of her capabilities. Doug was different. She’d done all the observing she
could over the years, without being obvious. A man like Doug would never accept
a strong woman who was inclined to take care of herself.
He’d want to be the hero.
If Sabine had to define what she wanted, it’d be a man
who would be her partner in life. Someone who would stand beside her instead of
in front of her trying to protect her from things she had plenty of experience
with. If she hadn’t learned how to take care of herself by now, she wouldn’t
have the job she loved so much. Still, considering her abysmal history, she
wasn’t even sure she wanted to go that far.
was a whole lot simpler.
Doug would want a woman who was the stay at home type.
His wife would be pregnant and homeschooling their other kids while he went all
over the world on missions. Missions he couldn’t tell her about. The thought of
it made her shudder, not that she had anything against kids. Other peoples were
fine…when they weren’t screaming, tearing around the place and making a mess.
It might be nice to have someone around the house though,
or to experience more of the comfort Doug had shown her. A tempting thought, if
only to see how different it would be to Maxwell’s coldness.
The memory of Sabine’s ex-husband crested over her like a
wave of ice water. It wasn’t worth going there, even in comparison. That time
in her life was over. He had a new wife now, one he was free to ignore unless
he was in the mood to criticize everything about her.
When tomorrow’s mission was over she should look into getting
a pet. Cats were friendly, right?
Doug came back in, a beam of sunlight breaking through
rain clouds. He frowned, probably seeing that she hadn’t moved and replaced the
now-empty coffee pot. “I know it’s a stupid question but are you okay?”
“The water just
made me cold is all.” Sabine rubbed goose bumps from her arms. “You know what? I
do need your help with something.”
He nodded. “Anything. You only have to ask.”
She tried to smile. “If you could get people to start
thinking about leaving, that would really help me. I could use some time alone
He looked surprised, but recovered fast. “Of course.”
She felt bad knowing she was kicking everyone out so she
could get ready for work. They were all reminiscing over Ben. She couldn’t do
that until his killer was caught.
She sucked in a breath. Soon.
“I appreciate it, Doug.”
People filed through the kitchen, tall men in uniforms
whose faces blurred through the sheen of tears. Sabine accepted yet more
condolences and helped get coats from the hall closet. Their pitying looks made
her stand straight, determined not to give in to the lump in her throat.
When the door closed behind the last person, Doug stepped
into the hall, his eyes seeing far too much. “No one expects you to be fine.”
“Good.” She sniffed. “Because I’m not.”
His face softened.
As much as she wanted to, she couldn’t let it tempt her.
“Good night, Doug.”
“Kicking me out?”
Her eyes widened.
“I was planning on helping you clean up.”
She sighed, more for show than anything else. “I’m really
tired. I’ll straighten up in the morning.”
It bothered her that she was forced to do this to Doug
just to get him to leave. She couldn’t tell him the real reason she needed
everyone gone. Today was not the day for that conversation. With any luck they
would lose touch and she’d never have to brace herself for his reaction.
He nodded, clearly disheartened. “I’ll leave you to it
When the door closed behind him, Sabine kicked off those
torturous heels and took the stairs two at a time.
In case you want to know what book of mine is coming out when, here's my official publishing schedule:
Double Agent Love Inspired Suspense May 1st 2014
DANGER IS HER ALIAS
As a spy, Sabine Laduca works alone. But when she investigates her brother's murder, she's forced into an uneasy alliance with his Delta Force team leader. The CIA taught Sabine to trust no one, and Sergeant Major Doug Richardson is no exception. The handsome soldier hides his own secrets, but nothing will stop Sabine from finding out who killed her brother. Not even when the CIA declares her rogue. Now not only is the killer after her, so is the agency. For the first time, she needs someone--Doug. Because only he can help her find the truth...and only he can keep her safe...
Sanctuary Lost WITSEC town mysteries book 1 June 31st 2014
U.S. Marshal John Mason gains full custody of his son and is transferred to Sanctuary, a WITSEC town that isn't on any map. When the town's first ever murder occurs, John's plans to reconnect with his boy are derailed by the investigation. Andra Caleri gave up her old life a long time ago, but someone wants her out of Sanctuary--to pay. As accusations fly and John uncovers a conspiracy that stretches all the way to Washington, Andra's past comes back in a true test of the mercy she received. Can John give up what he wants the most to bring the truth to light?
Star Witness Love Inspired Suspense Sept 1st 2014
SHE THOUGHT SHE WAS SAFE -- Mackenzie Winters spent years building a life in Witness Protection, but when someone shoots at her, she fears her cover has been blown. Could the brother of the drug lord she put away be here for revenge? Mackenzie must rely on her handler's twin, world-weary Delta Force soldier Aaron Hanning to protect her. Aaron doesn't want to be anyone's hero, but he can't let this brave woman die. Now, with danger stalking them, they'll have to make a daring choice that means life or death—for them both. Pre-order now at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Sanctuary Buried WITSEC town mysteries October 30th 2014