Authors: Allie Harrison
Tags: #Contemporary,Suspense,Scarred Hero/Heroine
Dan didn’t look at her.
He kept his gaze glued on the guy with the gun. He knew in his heart if he looked at his wife, if he saw the fear in her eyes, he might do something stupid that he would definitely regret later. As soon as they got through this, he would look at her. He would tell her how much he loved her and he’d kiss her.
He moved to take another step closer, but he stopped when his walking nightmare shifted his hold on the gun and pointed it at Justine’s temple.
“But you’re wrong.”
As soon as Dan stopped advancing, the gun was moved from Justine and back on him.
“I do want her.” Her abductor spoke in clear, concise words. “And I think you know I won’t hesitate to hurt you in order to keep her. Just as I won’t hesitate to hurt her to get to you. I could easily shoot both your knees and allow you to watch as I show you just how much I want her. Would you like that?”
“No,” Dan said without hesitation.
“Then don’t come any closer,” he warned.
“Let her go and I’ll let you live.”
“What happened to the oath you took, Officer Franklin, to protect and to serve?”
“It doesn’t pertain to you.”
“Well, then I don’t think I have a choice, do you?”
Then quickly, the kidnapper moved and shifted the gun still pointing it in Dan’s direction. Dan couldn’t dive out of the line of fire quick enough.
Everything happened at once. The gun went off, sending the crack of an explosion echoing through the campground. Dan was aware of Justine’s scream and the sounds of movement, the rustle of the trees.
Kudos for Allie Harrison
Ms. Harris won First Place
in the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence
Third Place in the Beacon Awards
for previously published works.
A Twist of Betrayal
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.
A Twist of Betrayal
COPYRIGHT © 2016 by Allison Harris
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press, Inc. except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
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Cover Art by
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First Crimson Rose Edition, 2016
Print ISBN 978-1-5092-0678-0
Digital ISBN 978-1-5092-0679-7
Published in the United States of America
To Rachel, Ben, Stephanie, and Dexter
Also to Donnie
Thank you to all the dedicated staff of The Wild Rose Press, Inc.!
Justine Franklin closed her eyes for two full seconds and mentally counted to ten. The deep breath she took seemed to do little more than fuel the fire of anger burning in her soul. She let the air out and worked her way to twenty. And still, she couldn’t ignore the heat that crept up her neck to her face.
getting a sofa with stripes,” she said firmly, as she fought to keep what little control she had left.
She had thought remodeling their home would bring out the house’s character and their decorating taste, but so far all it had brought out was Dan’s and her ability to disagree.
Oh, wait a minute. They didn’t just disagree, they argued. There was a definite difference.
“But I thought we agreed—” Dan, her husband, started.
“We never agreed to stripes!” Again, she fought for control. “Stripes would never match the décor of this house.”
“Don’t talk to me like I’m a potential juror, Miss Public Defender. We never agreed to flowers, either,” Dan reminded her, his eyes flashing. “And I don’t care about the décor of the house. Flowers are just a bit too girly for me.”
Justine tried to push aside the fact that his eyes looked like that after he kissed her.
“I guess we could get a couple of yellow and green bean bag chairs and a few big pillows, and everyone could just lounge on the floor,” Justine snapped. Then she immediately hated herself for it. How was it that Dan was able to get her to speak without thinking? Whatever it was, she hoped the district attorney never learned his secret.
“I didn’t know you wanted college-dorm décor. In that case, maybe we should add a few lava lamps, a futon, and something that hangs from the ceiling like a hammock chair,” Dan said in a sweet tone of voice, causing her to cringe.
She groaned out loud. “I hate when you talk like that.”
“Like what?” he asked just as sweet and innocently.
“Like when you take what I say to an extreme. And don’t expect me to go on another shopping trip with you to get lights, either.”
“Good, I’ll just pick up those free standing lamps that I like all by myself.”
Justine actually bit her tongue to keep from reminding him that the table lamps she’d seen would look better in the room. It was a whole new argument, and one she purposefully chose to put off for some other time.
Why were they even arguing—again—like children? What the hell did it matter what the sofa looked like as long as they snuggled up together on it.
She rubbed her back. “I’m tired and hungry and my knees hurt.”
“You should have worn knee pads,” he reminded her. “But you didn’t believe that putting grout on the new tile would be this hard.”
“Thanks for rubbing my nose in it, honey.” She tried to sound just as sickening sweet as his words had been a moment before. “Gosh, where would I be without you to constantly tell me how stupid I am?”
She reached for her keys.
“Where are you going?” Dan picked up the remaining rags they’d used to finish the ceramic tile floor in the kitchen and tossed them into a bucket.
“To Mike’s Supermarket to get some supper. I’m starving.”
“Dressed like that?” he asked.
“What? You don’t find my ponytail attractive? Or how about my grout-smeared jeans and sweatshirt? Would you rather I put on a suit? That’s too bad because if I stop to clean up, I doubt I’ll make it to the store.” She didn’t tell him, but she figured with how exhausted she was, she would probably move right from the shower into the bed they shared.
“What are you going to get?” he asked.
He sounded much more in control than Justine felt. Maybe he was just as tired of arguing as she was. Maybe it was because he figured he’d get his way when it came to the lamps with the striped couch. Justine knew the lamps and the striped couch were small things, but she couldn’t help but feel such a loss of control.
“Probably just deli meat and rolls to make subs,” Justine replied. “It sounds easy, and right now, I’m too tired for anything else.”
“Wouldn’t you rather have something like pizza or tacos?”
“No, I’m too tired to cook, and I doubt you’re going to do any of it,” she replied, unable to keep the lingering anger out of her voice.
“Oh, you know me so well, honey.” His voice dripped with sweet sarcasm.
“That’s the truth,” she muttered.
Dan ignored her comment.
She headed for the garage door. Dan’s gaze touched her back with warm, familiar heat, and Justine fought to ignore it.
“Aren’t you going to wear a jacket?” Dan asked.
Justine knew what he was really asking.
Aren’t you going to kiss me good-bye?
Neither of them ever left mad. And neither of them ever left without a kiss. Those were the two unspoken rules of their marriage. And for the first time in her married life, she broke them as she let her lingering anger and frustration control her. “I’m hot enough.”
“Are you going to be gone long?” The sarcasm was now gone from his voice. Maybe he was thinking about her breaking the rules, too.
Yet his lack of sarcasm didn’t erase the anger that swirled within her.
“Hopefully not long. Why? Do you plan to have the rest of the furniture replaced while I’m gone?”
“I just might,” he said, his irritation back in full swing.
“Go ahead!” she all but screamed at him. She’d held the dike of anger back with her finger stuck in the hole until there was no holding it back any longer. “Do whatever the hell you want. I don’t care anymore. And as soon as you do, I’m hiring someone to paint the spare bedroom.”
Dan stopped and looked squarely at her, clearly puzzled at her sudden outburst. “We’ve already had this discussion. Why are you so set on painting that spare bedroom? It doesn’t need painting. We don’t even use that room. And we’re in the middle of something bigger here, in case you hadn’t noticed.”
“I’m pregnant, that’s why!”
For a long moment, the entire room was utterly still. Dan stared at her.
“Yes, pregnant,” she repeated, letting out the breath she’d been holding. Oh, she never wanted to tell him this way. She’d planned on candles and soft music, and breaking it to him gently.
“You know my feelings about babies.”
Hating the sound of the flat calm in his voice, Justine could only nod. Yes, he’d made them clear before they were married. But that was more than five years ago.
Why couldn’t he understand babies were a gift?
Dan looked around suddenly as if he had somehow forgotten there was a tile mess at his feet. “What are you going to do about it?” he asked slowly.
His question could not have hurt more than if he had reached down her throat and pulled out her heart. She actually shivered. “I’m not going to do anything
it. I’m going to have it. I’m going to be a mother.”
“And what about my feelings?”
A fresh wave of anger washed over her. Her face was suddenly hot and she had trouble breathing. She thought she might throw up.
Like that would be something new. She’d thrown up at least once every day for the past two weeks.
It took more than a deep breath to calm her, but he would never know by the calm manner in which she spoke. If he could be calm about this, so could she. “Whatever you may feel is not going to change the fact that we are going to be parents, Dan. And if you think that ignoring it isn’t going to make you a father, well you’re wrong there, too,” she lashed out at him.
“Then it looks as if we’ve both been wasting our time with the house, doesn’t it?” His voice was so cold, it sent another shiver through her.
“If you’re saying you don’t want to share the house with me because of this, then that’s your decision. But right now, I’m hungry. One of us can pack when I’ve had something to eat. If I don’t eat, I get sick to my stomach.”
With that, she turned and left, ignoring the stunned look on his face. She felt his burning gaze on her back all the way out the door. She went out to her car in the garage without looking back, and her lips tingled with the need for a kiss.
A block away, she still fought the guilt—for leaving without a kiss, for letting her last words to him come out at the top of her voice, and for a few other things that burned holes in her marriage. But most of all, for telling him about the baby as she had. She hadn’t planned that at all, but she could make everything up to him. She could be a good wife. They could be a family.
“Hell,” she muttered under her breath. “Stubborn man is probably already packing his bags. Maybe I won’t go home. I don’t need to pack any bags.” After all, her brother had a guesthouse where she could stay.
Then Dan wouldn’t have to deal with any of this.
In the parking lot, she paused and blinked away the tears that threatened in her eyes. Why should she feel guilty about this baby, about wanting to keep it, to have it, and to love it? “I don’t have to feel guilty about it. It isn’t like I got this way all by myself…” She hastily wiped her eyes with the back of her hand.