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Authors: Roxanne St. Claire

First You Run

BOOK: First You Run
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First You Run

Then You Hide

Now You Die

A thrilling new trio of Bullet Catcher books
by Roxanne St. Claire, available now and
coming soon from Pocket Star Books.

The Critics Love
Roxanne St. Claire

Take Me Tonight

“Sexy, smart, and suspenseful,
Take Me Tonight
is an absolute must-read…. St. Claire really rocks.”

—Mariah Stewart,
New York Times
bestselling author

“Roxanne St. Claire has outdone herself…you actually have to put
Take Me Tonight
down every once in awhile just to catch your breath.”

—Romance Reviews Today

“Definitely one of St. Claire’s best and not to be missed!”


Romantic Times

“Five stars! This story will drag you in and not let you out!”

—A Romance Review

“Nonstop excitement…. Readers swoon from the first action-packed kidnapping until the final take-down and resolution…. St. Claire gives just the right amount of suspense and balances that with hot romance that is well worth the read.”

—romancedesigns.com

Thrill Me to Death

“Sizzles like a hot Miami night.”

—Erica Spindler,
New York Times
bestselling author

“Sultry romance with enticing suspense.”

—Publishers Weekly

“Fast-paced, sexy romantic suspense…. A book that will keep the reader engrossed in the story from cover to cover.”


Booklist

“Roxanne St. Claire’s got the sexy bodyguard thing down to an art form…. [She] expertly entertains through the novel’s emotional twists and sensual turns, rocketing us through a series of exciting events…one heck of a love story.”

—Michelle Buonfiglio, Lifetime TV.com

“St. Claire doesn’t just push the envelope, she folds it into an intricate piece of origami for the reader’s pleasure!”


Winter Haven News Chief
(Florida)

Kill Me Twice

“When it comes to dishing up great romantic suspense, St. Claire is the author you want. Sexy and scintillating…an exciting new series.”

—Romantic Times


Kill Me Twice
literally vibrates off the pages with action, danger, and palpable sexual tension. St. Claire is exceptionally talented.”

—Winter Haven News Chief
(Florida)

“Jam-packed with characters, situations, suspense, and danger. The reader will be dazzled….”

—Rendezvous

Killer Curves

“A sleek, sexy, and very American romantic suspense novel.”

—Publishers Weekly

“This book really grabbed me…refreshingly cool.”


Orlando Sentinel
(Florida)

“A guaranteed powerful, sexy and provocative read.”

—Carly Phillips,
New York Times
bestselling author

French Twist

“Great reading!”

—Romantic Times

“Intriguing suspense that crackles with sexual tension.”

—Winter Haven News Chief
(Florida)

Tropical Getaway

“Sizzling suspense and scorching sensuality!”

—Teresa Medeiros

“Romance, danger, and adventure…in just the right combination.”

—Booklist

Also by Roxanne St. Claire

What You Can’t See,
with Allison Brennan et al.

Take Me Tonight

I’ll Be Home for Christmas,
with Linda Lael Miller et al.

Thrill Me to Death

Kill Me Twice

Killer Curves

French Twist

Tropical Getaway

Hit Reply

Pocket Star Books
A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2008 by Roxanne St. Claire

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Pocket Books Subsidiary Rights Department, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

POCKET STAR BOOKS and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-6457-7
ISBN-10: 1-4165-6457-8

Visit us on the World Wide Web:
http://www.SimonSays.com

Acknowledgments

As always, a vast number of people offer time, talent, and advice to help me write books that are as realistic as fiction can be. My deepest appreciation goes to this team of experts:

Terry Irene Blain, writer, friend, and traveler who graciously took on the job of being my eyes, ears, fingers, and feet in Balboa Park, San Diego.

Dr. Tracy Arden, Department of Anthropology, University of Miami, who shared insights about academia and anthropology.

Marta Barber, President of the Institute of Maya Studies, who offered fact-checking assistance and guidance on glyphs, while across the country, the staff of San Diego’s Museum of Man answered many questions about security that I’m certain they rarely get asked, and worry when they do.

My favorite Tassie and very first fan, Cheryl Mackey, who introduced me to the language, customs, and breathtaking men of the Tasmanian Special Ops Group. Fletch is for you!

Judy Watts of the
Charleston Post and Courier,
for the terrific insights into that city’s history; to Nina Bruhns for the customized tour of Charleston; and to all of the generous romance writers in South Carolina who have shown me Southern hospitality at its finest

Poppy Reiffen and Kerensa Brougham, genuine California girls, for the detailed information about the neighborhoods of Oakland and the helpful e-tours of UC Berkeley.

My very own Bullet Catcher and “Glock Guy” Roger Cannon, who knows enough about weapons to keep me from taking a lousy shot.

A sweeping debt of gratitude to the entire team at Pocket Books, especially Micki Nuding for consistently excellent editorial skills, and my outstanding literary agent, Kim Whalen of Trident Media Group, who worries about everything I don’t want to think about.

Last, but never, ever least, thank you to Rich, Dante, and Mia, who wait patiently while I spend hours with people who don’t exist. I’m so proud to call you mine.

In loving memory of Cecelia Feldmeier Zink,
my mother, my motivator, my number-one fan.

I miss you every day.

P
ROLOGUE

Charleston, South Carolina, 1978

E
ILEEN
S
TAFFORD FIGURED
she had to be insane.

Why else would she be hovering in the shadows, waiting for the married man who’d wrecked her life, busted her heart, and made her give up the only thing that mattered to her? She sometimes thought that the trauma of that childbirth had ruined her ability to think straight.

Why else would she have agreed to meet him in an alley at one in the morning?

She rubbed her bare arms against the April chill.

It wasn’t as if he wanted her back. But when he’d called, a glimmer of hope had flickered in her stomach. After all, they had a bond now—they were parents together. Regardless of the decisions she’d made.

Maybe he’d love her again. Maybe she could undo the mistake she’d made eight months ago, at that farmhouse on Sapphire Trail. If only he loved her.

She snorted softly. He’d never loved her. He’d
used
her. On the desk. In his car. On the floor. In his own home, on the nights his wife attended a DAR meeting. That’s what powerful men did to their secretaries.

Revulsion rolled through her. He’d called her here for a reason. Money, so she’d never tell their secret? Fine. She’d take every dollar he offered, and he could save his precious reputation.

As she squinted to see her wristwatch, she heard a whisper of sound and the shuffle of a footstep, soft enough to tickle her neck with apprehension. Turning, she couldn’t see anything but fingers of ivy cascading down the brick wall of the narrow passageway and a cement building with air-conditioning units and two trash cans on the other side of the alley.

Instinctively, she backed away, moving closer to the light, closer to the gate that guarded a church graveyard. She wasn’t superstitious, but hundred-year-old headstones and gnarled tree roots on a moonless night were just a little too spooky.

Is that why he picked this spot? Because he knew it scared her? Or did he remember the time they’d met in this alley before and made love against this very wall?

She closed her hands over the cool iron gate, and goose bumps rose when it opened. It squeaked an eerie note.

Footsteps pulled her attention back to the far end of the alley. She could barely make out the shadow of a man and a woman, walking quickly toward her. Her heart kicked up.

She inched the gate wider and slipped inside, stepping behind the wall. Had they seen her?

Their footsteps grew louder, followed by the woman’s voice. Then the man’s.

Eileen sucked in a breath.
Her
man’s.

She flattened against the wall and listened. Why had he called her here, then showed up with another woman? And not his wife—that was clear from the slender silhouette. She slowly inched out from her hiding place, blinking into the darkness.

He had the woman against the wall, his grunt mixing with her moan.
Was
that him? She couldn’t tell. He wore a long, dark coat, and the woman’s hands were wrapped around his head, covering his hair.

It sounded like him—the panting, horny bastard. Is that why he’d summoned her here? To prove that it was over, that she was replaced? Fury shot through her, and she opened her mouth just as he backed away from the woman. The woman said something, he moved jerkily, and then an explosion cracked the night.

Jesus God in heaven.
He shot her.

Over his shoulder, all Eileen could see was the face of the woman the instant she died.

Clamping her hand over her mouth to stifle a scream, Eileen dropped back behind the wall, sliding to the ground as shock and disbelief rocked her. Running footsteps—his footsteps, a
killer’s
footsteps—scraped the stones, then disappeared onto Cumberland.

She couldn’t breathe. A dead woman was ten feet away, shot by the man Eileen thought she once loved. A man who’d sent her here. Why? To witness it?

No. No—he’d set her up. It was so like him. He could do anything. Didn’t he always say that, laughing and cocksure, when they lay tangled in sheets or half-undressed on top of his desk?

I can do anything, Leenie
.
I fucking own this town
.

He could even commit cold-blooded murder…and set her up to get the blame.

With shaking hands, she pushed her hair off her face, her brain frantic for a way out.

Run
. Before the gunshot brought the police and they found her here. She whipped open the gate and took one last look at the woman, blood oozing from her stomach, her eyes open and lifeless.

What had this beautiful blonde’s sin been? Had she said the fateful words, too?
I’m going to have a baby.

Swallowing bile, Eileen ran, her legs wobbling. She tripped on a cobblestone, stumbled, and gasped. If she could just get to her car without being seen, she could get home. The streets of Charleston were abandoned. No one knew she was here.

Trying to be calm, she forced herself to maintain a brisk walk, just in case someone was watching, all the way to her Dodge Dart. She opened the driver’s door, slipped in, grabbed the keys from under the seat where she always hid them, and started the car.

She put the car in reverse, then placed a shaking foot on the accelerator. She hit the pedal too hard, and the car jerked back, tapping the car behind her and yanking a grunt of despair from her chest.

I can do anything, Leenie
.

She had to get home.

With each passing mile, her breathing slowed, her shaking stopped. Had she even seen that? Maybe she’d imagined it. Maybe this was just a bad dream.

She reached the Ashley River, the rickety old bridge the last barrier between her and home. Blowing out a breath, she glanced into her rearview mirror—and saw a flashing blue light behind her. How long had that cop been following her? Her heart slid around like the back end of the Dodge as she checked the speedometer and smashed the brakes. Thirty-five. Relief and worry all warred in her muddled brain, but she managed to pull over. Before she even touched the handle, the door was whipped open.

“Get out of the car.”

She froze, blinking and shading her eyes, unable to see anything but the blinding light in her face. She pushed herself from the car and saw another policeman, aiming a gun.

“Was I speeding?” She sounded remarkably composed.

Wordlessly, the first cop moved his flashlight to the passenger seat. His eyes narrowed. She turned, following the beam, somehow knowing what she was about to see.

The gun. It had been right next to her all the way home.

“Eileen Stafford, you’re under arrest for murder. You have the right to remain silent…”

And she would. He knew exactly how to keep her silent. He could do anything.

With a sob, she fell to the ground and let them take her away.

BOOK: First You Run
13.4Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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