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Authors: Cara North

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Chasing Joshua

BOOK: Chasing Joshua
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Tease Publishing LLC
www.teasepublishingllc.com
Copyright ©2008 by Cara North
First published in 2008, 2008
NOTICE: This work is copyrighted. It is licensed only for use by the original purchaser. Making copies of this work or distributing it to any unauthorized person by any means, including without limit email, floppy disk, file transfer, paper print out, or any other method constitutes a violation of International copyright law and subjects the violator to severe fines or imprisonment.
Chasing JoshuaCara North* * * *

* * * *TEASE PUBLISHING

www.teasepublishingllc.com

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Chasing Joshua

The Beaufort Series

A Tease Publishing Book/E book

Copyright© 2008 Cara North

ISBN: 987-1-934678-06-0

Cover Artist: Stella Price

Interior text design: Stacee Sierra

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.

Tease Publishing LLC

www.teasepublishingllc.com

PO BOX 234

Swansboro, North Carolina 28584-0234

Tease and the T logo is ã

Tease Publishing LLC. All rights reserved.

Other Titles By Cara NorthThe Country Music Collection:Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall OffShe Thinks My Tractor's SexyOne Hot MommaSave A Horse Ride A CowboyThe Beaufort Series:The Art of EthanChasing Joshua

Ayden's Secret

* * * *
Chapter 1

Beaufort North Carolina

It was three o'clock in the morning, but she had no choice. The drive was painful enough, she felt as if at any moment she could have passed out. Evelyn Blade knocked loudly on the door to Grace McPherson's home. She tried the knob, and luckily the door was open.
Sweet trusting Grace. God bless her.
Exhausted and in pain Evelyn could hardly stand. The footsteps coming down the hall toward the stairs were hard and loud. A man's voice was shouting, “Who's there?” like thunder. Or was it the thunder? She was drenched from the rain though now it barely drizzled, covered in mud, and God only knows what else, from the storm that seemed to follow her all the way here.

Joshua Young heard the knocking. His eyes opened and he realized the time. Quickly he grabbed his nine millimeter from the nightstand, racked the bullet to the chamber, and headed for the stairs. He heard the door open and footsteps uneven and sluggish crossing the floor. He took the stairs quickly but cautiously.
How did I forget to lock the door?
Two years in this town had softened him.

"Grace?” A voice cried out, loud yet strained.

"Answer me. Damn it! I'm armed! Identify Yourself!” Joshua rounded the corner aimed at the ready and could barely believe his eyes. It looked like a woman in the shadow. She was slumped against the wall, holding something out to him. He hit the light with his elbow not lowering his weapon. And good thing he didn't.

"Where's Grace? If you've hurt her, I swear I will kill you.” Evelyn had her own weapon drawn. The nine millimeter pointed at Joshua's head. If Grace was in this house alive, surely she would have heard her calling out and responded. He must have hurt her. Her dear old friend, it had been years.

"DROP THE WEAPON!” His voice was deep and demanding. His eyes looked over the mess of a woman pointing a gun at him. He could shoot her—it would be justified—but looking at her he wasn't sure she hadn't already been shot.

"YOU DROP IT! WHERE IS GRACE?” Evelyn demanded. She was leaning against the wall. She knew this day would come, but never imagined it like this. A man had the drop on her, or so he thought. A man, that was in his underwear, and nothing else. Huh, it looked more like he just woke up, than ... No, not possible, Grace would never leave this house.

Joshua's mind cleared for a moment. He didn't drop the weapon, but he did realize she was asking for Grace, his cousin Ethan's wife. This was her house. When Grace moved to New York, Joshua moved in. That was two years ago. Before he came to live in this house, Ethan had been stalked and Grace almost hurt, by a woman.

"How do you know Grace?” His voice was calmer now. He could focus on the woman. She was hurt, exhausted; her every word was labored. This woman was dangerous. At any minute she could collapse and pull the trigger as a reflex. She was built. Damn, it has been a long time since a woman got his attention.
Shit. Keep your head in the game, man. She's pointing a gun at you!
He had to remind himself.

"Grace is a friend of mine. We go way back. Tell her I'm here.” Evelyn could feel the sweat dripping off her forehead.

She knew she needed to lie down, knew she could pass out at any moment, but she knew she couldn't relax until she heard Grace tell her it was okay. The man across from her was impressive tactically, but physically alarming. His black hair in disarray only gave more fire to his green eyes, and Evelyn felt faint form staring.
Impossible. Men are scum.

"I can't.” Joshua stepped slowly toward her. Never lowering his weapon, he was close to the island in the center of the kitchen. He could duck and use it for cover if this turned ugly. And when he heard her cock the hammer he thought it just might.

"Why not?” Evelyn stood straight. Every part of her body screamed out in pain. But if this man had hurt Grace, she would kill him, instantly.

"She doesn't live here anymore.” Joshua was in awe of this woman, never had he seen fury and pure balls like she had. Her lip was busted, her eye swollen and yet she was going to kill him, over Grace?

"Bullshit, Grace would never leave this house. Everyone knows that.” Evelyn stepped forward closing the gap. If he ducked behind that counter, she would be over it in a flash.

"Let me call her, okay. You know Grace. I know Grace. We can both be in this house. Alive.” Joshua was suspicious, but he didn't get a feeling this woman was a threat to Grace. At any rate he had to clear this in order to keep from killing her or getting shot himself. That would go over well amongst his second graders. He could see the headlines now. In the woman's current condition they'd likely attribute that damage to him also.

"Pick up the phone and dial. You call the cops, you're dead. Are we clear?” Evelyn was breathless. She focused on the man too intently. His green eyes dazzled in the light; her knees felt a little weaker.
The pain must be making me delirious
, she thought.
Exhaustion, that's it. Stay in the game E.

Joshua dialed the number to Ethan's loft in New York. He hoped his cousin would answer. His life, and hers depended on it.

"What the hell do you want?” Ethan asked in a surprised tone. He was awake with Gray, his son, who had decided that now was a great time to play.

"Ethan, listen I have to talk to Grace."

"What the hell is going on Josh?” Ethan's tone went serious.

"It's three in the morning and I need to talk to your wife, now! Trust me!” Joshua's voice roughened and he could feel the sweat drip from his temple. It really was a matter of life and death. He held the phone in one hand and his nine millimeter in the other, never taking his eyes off the threat. She inched closer, quietly, never taking her eyes off his.

"Hello?” Grace's sleepy voice came through.

"Grace, hi, Josh here. I have a friend of yours in my kitchen right now.” Joshua looked at the woman who held her gun steady, despite the agony on her face, pointed directly at his head. His arm was starting to feel a trickle of burn from the exchange, yet she seemed determined.

"Oh God!” Grace knew of only one person that might show up at three in the morning. “Evelyn!"

"Evelyn?” Joshua said the name aloud. He then watched the woman lower her weapon.

"Joshua! Let me talk to her. Are you okay? Did she hurt you?” Grace's voice came through.

"I'm okay, Grace. Here, I'll let you talk to her.” Joshua offered the phone as he set his weapon on the counter next to hers. The woman reached for it but collapsed. Luckily he was in reach to grab her. The phone fell to the floor, and Grace's scream came through the receiver.

"I'm okay. She's okay,” Joshua shouted. He had to drop the phone to catch this little vixen. He lowered them both to the floor so that he could reach the phone. She was soaked to the bone, covered in mud and stunk to high heaven.
Good God, what has happened to her?
Her face was beaten; under the mud he couldn't tell just how bad, but blood streaked from her lip, and her eye seemed swollen. He grabbed the phone.

"WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON THERE?” Ethan shouted into the phone. A two-year-old began crying in the background. No doubt he had never heard his daddy like this.

"Evelyn.” Joshua had just put the phone to his ear when Ethan shouted. Ethan's voice caused a ringing sensation. “Just tell Grace she's okay. She passed out. Who is she anyways?"

Joshua could hear Ethan soothing Grace and asking her questions. Grace came back to the phone. Joshua listened and visually inspected the mess he held in his arms. He had a weak stomach when it came to abused women, and the thought of why someone would hurt such a small creature burned in it now.

"Josh, Evelyn Blade is a friend of mine from college. She's a little eccentric and a lot dangerous. She has only shown up like this once before, when she needed a break. I hope she didn't hurt you. I could never contact her to tell her I was here now.” Grace took a deep breath. “Why did she faint?"

"She's beat up, that's why.” Joshua continued to visually examine the woman in his arms. Hurt me? Without that gun, she couldn't hurt a fly. “I need to call an ambulance."

"No. You can't call an ambulance.” Grace couldn't imagine Evelyn beat up too badly, some scrapes maybe, but an ambulance would give her position away, and that's why she was at her house. It was a safe house. Or at least it used to be. Joshua had a soft spot for women, so any damage would be severe damage to him. When his sister sprained her ankle, he insisted on carrying her around everywhere. He was a great big mother bear. “She..."

"What Grace? Because I need a damn good reason right now I tell you that.” Joshua couldn't believe his ears. Grace didn't want him to take her to the hospital?
This whole situation keeps getting worse.

"My house was her safe house. No one knows where she is. It's her job. You can't. Just take care of her. I will be there tomorrow,” Grace said into the phone. “Look, Ethan is pacing. I need to explain this to him. I'll call you back."

Joshua set the phone down and wondered why Grace had to explain it to Ethan when he was the one here with a woman in his lap. But no matter, he had to deal with her now. She was breathing, shallow but breathing. Joshua gathered the woman back in his arms and pushed up on his knees. He stepped his left foot out in front and pushed up on both feet while holding her. “I'm getting too old for this shit.

"Well, I guess it's just you and me, unless I discover you need a doctor in which case you'll get one.” He carried the woman to the door, locked it, and headed to the stairs.

Joshua stood awkward at the top of the stairs trying to figure out what he was going to do with her. The plan he had formulated in his head was to get her in dry clothes and check her for injuries more serious than he could attend to. The problem remained that she was unconscious, and he didn't want to lay her down, soaking wet on any of the beds. “Shit!"

Then it occurred to him, the art room. Joshua had pretty much left the house the way Grace had made it. Just the master bedroom had changed though he made sure to tell Ethan how much he enjoyed the king size bed they left behind. The art room had a huge canvas on the floor specifically for spills. Opening the door he could smell the paint. It reminded him of home. The woman in his arms also reminded him of home, but not for the same reason. She reminded him of police work. He growled at the thoughts.

Thankfully the six years he spent as a New York police officer had trained him to be calm, and of course he knew first aid. But the reason he was in North Carolina was to get away from that life. He was a teacher now, a second grade teacher in fact.

When Grace asked how badly he wanted a teaching job, he said he would take whatever was open. He envisioned coaching the football team and teaching history or math. Her connection, however, was the principal of the Beaufort Elementary School. Two years later, he was having the time of his life. In fact they had a field trip lined up today. It was Friday, and he hated the thought of a substitute taking his kids anywhere.

Joshua laid Evelyn on the canvas and headed to the guest room. Grace kept clothes and other female necessities on the shelving system neatly labeled. Evelyn looked about Grace's size, so he grabbed the box labeled Grace's clothes, pulled a few towels out of the closet along with the first aid kit and headed back to the woman on the canvas. She was still out cold.

The smell hit Evelyn and her eyes opened. As soon as they did, she wanted to close them. Her body ached from the hair on her head to the tip of her toes. But the smell kept fanning under her nose, scorching the back of her throat.

"Get that shit out of my face.” Evelyn smacked the packet out of Joshua's hand.

"Had to wake you up, sleeping beauty.” Joshua did think she was pretty, or at least she should be once some of the swelling went down. His stomach turned at the thought of what had happened to her. “You need to change clothes, and we have to do a damage assessment here."

"I'm fine,” Evelyn snarled. She tried to push up, but her ribs hurt causing her to wince in pain.

"I'll help you.” He reached for her.

"The hell you will.” Evelyn pushed herself up and swallowed what would only have been a scream. A tear tried to escape, but she sucked it back as well. No way was this guy touching her. And then she realized she wasn't in the kitchen anymore.

"Look, you have one of two options. I can help you, or I can call the ambulance, and they can help you.” Joshua stood and looked down on her.

His green eyes were dark and piercing. He crossed his huge arms, and she felt small for the first time in her adult life. Evelyn had been around many men of all shapes and sizes, but somehow he seemed larger than all of them. Larger than life. She couldn't have him calling the ambulance. Grace trusted him to live in her home. She would have to let him help her, but that didn't mean she would trust him. And she didn't have to like it.

"All right, but hands off the merchandise. You grope me..."

"I'm dead. I'm aware.” How many times had she threatened to kill him already, Joshua wondered?
Feisty little thing, must come from the red hair
, hoping it was red hair and not blood soaked.

"I need to take a shower actually.” Evelyn looked down at herself. She was muddy, wet, and bloody. God, her face, what did her face look like? She already had one scar in her brow. Too many more she would start to look like ... No, she zapped that thought before it finished. “I'm filthy and I stink."

BOOK: Chasing Joshua
3.14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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