Authors: Karen Cote'
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Suspense, #Romantic Suspense
A Romantic Suspence Novel by Karen Cote’
Her brother was dead. He’d practically raised her and stood by her during a miscarriage that left her barren. He’d been the sole person she’d had left in this world. How had Dr. Lily Delaney with a PhD in Psychology missed the psychotic signs of Anthony Capriccio, the Kansas City District Attorney and her ex-fiancé? Now at twenty-nine she was on the run to hide from the impending threats to her own life. But on the road to a safe secluded lake community, Lily crashes into the path of a new dangerous element, literally. One with deep blue eyes who totes a badge and carries a gun. And would their budding relationship be threatened when Lily finds out her own doctor had lied and discovers she really can have children? How would the sheriff take knowing she’d gotten pregnant when she’d already heartily assured him she wasn’t?
After his experience as a detective in Kansas City, Missouri, Jet Walker enjoyed his life as sheriff of the quiet lake community, Windom Hills. However, when Lily Delaney literally crashes into his car and life, his world disrupts into chaos. Couldn’t the woman do anything normal? Between fighting to protect her and fighting against his growing attraction for her, the previous peace Jet had found was now falling apart. And how could he possibly trust another woman after the trick his ex-wife played in trying to pass off another man’s child as his?
MuseitHOT, division of
ADULT CONTENT: Contains some sexual content.
Lily slammed on the brakes. The car fishtailed as the bumper flirted with the weed-edged road before a yank on the steering wheel righted the momentum and she screeched to a halt.
Protective instinct drove her hand to blanket her stomach as tiny beads of sweat heated her forehead like splintering glass. Her heart drummed in her chest from the near miss as Lily glanced down at her hand covering her abdomen.
A ridiculous reaction.
Her womb was empty and had been for years. It always would be.
But that was a different time. A different car. A different driver. Even if the old memory held eternal consequences.
Lily slapped away the self-pity and peeked over the hood of her car. Where had that damned deer come from? One minute there was nothing and then whammo, right there in front of her. Like Harry-freaking-Houdini.
She didn’t have time for this. She had to hide. To plan.
However, with her teeth chattering and knees knocking, Lily was in dire need of some composure especially if she wanted to make it to the lake cabin tonight. She focused on a gas station sign ahead, easing her foot off the brake and back onto the accelerator.
After taking the specified exit, Lily had to go an additional half mile and she didn’t miss the irony of
posted above the country store.
Pulling up to the old-fashioned pay-inside fuel pumps, she cast a wary glance at the dirt-covered windows of the adjacent store. With more grit than sense, she opened the car door and reeled back at the oven-like humidity. Somehow her keys fell out of her hand and ended up on the ground in a billowing cloud of dust.
“Damn!” She bent down to retrieve them.
Lily jumped and cursed again when her head smacked against the inside door handle. A husky man in grease-covered overalls grinned through a wet wad of tobacco.
“Mighty fine car you got there. Needin’ some gas?”
Lily pushed her hair out of her face and encountered a friendly glance.
Without conceit, she hadn’t reached the age of twenty-nine before becoming aware that green eyes, long, blonde hair, and well-endowed, but slender, curved women got more than their fair-share of attention. Wanted or not. In this case, definitely not.
With a firm grasp on her keys, Lily grabbed her purse and stepped out of the car.
“Could you fill it up please?”
She didn’t wait for his answer before heading toward the entrance to the store. Her t-shirt clung in the heat and Lily self-consciously pulled the material away from her breasts.
The air inside wasn’t much cooler despite the air conditioner propped haphazardly in the window.
Another man stood at the cash register similar in stature to the first man. Lily acknowledged him with a nod and made her way to the freestanding aisles in the cramped room.
With little to choose from in the snack department, she settled on a candy bar. The diet soda from the refrigerated section was surprisingly cold. She carried both items to the cash register and placed them among the knick-knacks crowding the counter. The stench of smoke curled from a cigarette keeping company with about a gazillion other butts in a dirty ashtray. Lily stepped back to avoid it.
“Anything else you need?”
The same country drawl echoed the one from the man pumping her gas.
How far out of the city am I?
The man’s interest zoned in on her t-shirt and Lily instinctively hunched her shoulders and adjusted her arms to cut off his view.
“Just the gas,” she replied noting the nametag of
on his pocket.
A smile spread the man’s large nose to reveal twin-barrels of hair.
“Earl’s coming in now,” he said.
Relieved and eager to be on her way, Lily pulled out a bunch of bills.
Earl strolled toward them saying, “I cleaned the windshield, do you want me to check the oil?”
With a hasty shake of her head, Lily paid for the gas and the items on the counter. After giving a tip to a surprised Earl she didn’t have to look back to know they were watching her all the way to her car. She sent up a silent thanks when the Lexus purred at the first touch and without effort accelerated onto the semi-paved highway.
Goosebumps skipped along her arms.
Where are the tourists? They definitely aren’t visiting Jake’s Oasis.
In her opinion, there was too much farmland and too little civilization here for her comfort level.
Turning back onto the main road put her more at ease and Lily reached for the diet soda and sighed.
Where else can I go?
The police had been a mistake. It had only ended with an altercation with a fatheaded police officer who hadn’t believed her claims.
“I have no intentions of filing a complaint against the fine District Attorney,”
Sudden tears blurred the Missouri afternoon scenery. For six months, pain had plagued Lily at the loss of her brother. The sole person left to her in the world…gone forever.
The cops said accidental overdose. Claimed a man who’d founded a successful drug rehabilitation center had put a needle to his own arm. Their report was blown to hell two nights ago.
If Lily did nothing else in this life, she would clear Jerry’s name. She owed him that much.
Taking a drink from the carbonated refreshment, Lily glanced around at the woods and wildlife. Nature in this part of the country was earthy, beautiful, and uncomplicated. At least that’s the way Jerry had described it. Frankly, it was unnerving to be in a place where the only inhabitants possessed four legs and played chicken with cars. She snorted. Of course, there was the bush-nosed Jake and his buddy back at the
Rolling her eyes, Lily sat her drink in the cup holder and reached for the candy bar. It took only a second’s glance away from the road, but enough to surprise her at the sudden appearance of a wide moving obstruction ahead. She braked to avoid slamming into two large rounded bales of hay.
What the heck?
The large wagon forced her speed to a crawl and she tossed a cursory glance at the numerous signs labeled
No Passing Zone
. Should she risk it? It wasn’t as if the road was crowded with cars. She steered her car to the left, but the upcoming curve gave credence to the appropriate sign markings.
“Great,” she grumbled. “Old MacDonald had a farm and I’m his newest resident.”
Feeling mean, Lily relaxed her grip on the steering wheel and stretched her back to lessen the fatigue. But damn it, she’d been driving at least five hours.
Remembering the candy, she held it up, asking, “Would you like to energize my crappy disposition?”
She slid one-half of the candy from its twin. With an abstract look, she raised the piece to her mouth and paused midway.
At first, confusion didn’t connect the object to her brain. Absolute horror struck as the squirming worm jutting up at her amid chocolate and coconut.
Lily’s scream punctuated her violent jerk on the wheel. Gagging and disgust careened her car into the opposite lane…and into the path of an oncoming vehicle.
A quick reflex from the other driver prevented a head-on collision, but not the side clipping to her car.
Lily’s head jerked as if it belonged on a rag doll seconds before her air bag deployed. The explosion slapped her into disorientation. Smacked hard in the chin simultaneous to the stench of powdery smoke, instinct skid the vehicle to a stop. The car missed the ditch by mere inches.
Dazed by the accident and stinging numbness to her jaw, Lily peered over her shoulder as the other driver was pulling out of a tailspin. Just when it appeared the vehicle was under control, one of the tires hit the jagged edge of the rough pavement. The deep gouge and momentum flipped the car over and as the scene took on a dream-like fashion; the vehicle slid on its top a few yards before coming to a halt.
Lily released her seat belt and fought her way out of the airbag, shoving at the door. The acrid smell of burnt rubber permeated the air as she jumped out and raced to the other car. She crouched down, impervious to the rough pavement and broken glass digging into her palms and knees.
“Are you alright?”
Lily gratefully sent up a prayer at the man conscious and moving. He braced himself against the roof of the car, battling his own airbag to unlatch his seatbelt.
“Mister,” she appealed again.
“Get back,” he growled, his voice strained by his efforts.
With a helpless gesture, she sought for some way to assist when sudden doom slammed into her mid-section.
This… couldn’t…be… happening. Trying not to freak out, she pleaded; now almost in tears, “Please, let me do something.”
“I said to get back,” he gritted, although muffled, no less forceful. “There could be a gas leak. Don’t you see the smoke?”
“Miss, are you alright?”
At the anxious voice, Lily turned her upper body around to an old man in grey coveralls and khaki shirt. This must be the Old MacDonald she’d been following. Hollowed and resigned, Lily rose to her feet already knowing what she’d see.
Yep, right there it was, written upside down.
However, the floating mangle of cords and equipment inside along with a teed-off uniformed figure had been the big tip-off.
She brought her attention back to the old man and although heart-heavy with the implications, Lily managed to nod. He bent down to the wrecked car.
“Jet,” the old man said. “Are you okay, boy? Give me your hand.”
“I’ve got it, Pete. Is she alright? What about you?” he demanded.
“We’re both okay,” he assured. “But we need to get you outta there.”
“Just get her away from here in case this thing blows,” he ordered.
The old man hesitated before rising to his feet. “Come on, Miss. Let’s stand over here.”
Torn between concern and guilty responsibility, her meek demeanor bespoke Lily’s desire to obey orders. She went with the older man to stand next to her car just a few yards away.
The sheriff inched out, crawling on his stomach through broken glass and twisted metal. Curses wafted out as he fought with the second airbag before finally exiting through the passenger’s side window. Lily released the breath she’d been holding.