Authors: Tina Bass
HIS SAFE KEEPING
The Safe Series - Book 1
Krista Avery moved to the sleepy town of Mt. Eve, Virginia, away from big city life, enticed there by a research doctor that is fascinated with her blood. Trying to build a life for herself after a horrific event in her past sent her into a spiral, she is a woman battling a rare blood disorder and the memories she has never dealt with. Returning home from the hospital after the Doctors experimental treatment, a dizzy spell forces her to pull over to the side of the road.
Lawson “Kade” McKaden is a State Trooper, ready to retire, returning home after a transport to a Federal Prison that wasn’t supposed to be his. After a stint in the Air Force and a satisfying career, he is ready to leave the uniforms behind for the life of a rancher. But a broken down car on the side of the road calls to his sense of responsibility and the sick woman inside calls to his heart. They have more in common than they know.
An escaped rapist turned serial killer is hunting her. She was his first and he has plans to be her last. Together can they beat back the demons from her childhood? Will Krista have to face the demon from her past alone, or is she Kade’s for… His Safe Keeping?
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2014 Tina Bass
Beau Coup Publishing
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author / publisher.
For Ellen for not just being the best friend a girl could have, but my coach, my cheerleader, and teacher and knowing when to be what when I needed it the most. Without you this book would have never been written. For that and so many other reasons you will always have my gratitude, my appreciation and most especially my love! Love you my sister of heart.
To my family:
My mom who knew if I “just sat my butt down long enough” I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. My wonderful kids who “found something to do” when I was wrapped up in writing, and an extra special thanks to my beautiful baby girl Kelsie who when I was so wrapped up in writing I would lose track of time, she would not only cook, but fix me a plate and bring it to me, then check back to make sure I did eat. Love you to pieces and even though you are seventeen you are and will always be my baby girl. My friends; Ellen V. Kristi W. and Charles M. for their parts, and answering all my “silly” questions about military and law enforcement. And a shout out to my Facebook “Book Buds” group and the parts you’ve played in the making of this book—even if you didn’t know it! Oh and of course “Book Bud” I hope you enjoy…You.
Kade looked over at the sign on the side of the road. “Mt. Eve 30 miles.” Just thirty more miles and this day from hell would finally be over. It was hot, too damn hot to just be the beginning of June. In this part of Virginia, the average temperature was mid to high 80s, not a hellacious ninety-four degrees, and to top it off, the AC was screwing up. The piece of shit was set on MAX and he could barely feel the cool air.
What a fuckin’ great day for a transport
, he thought bitterly. He’d always hated doing transports. Usually the convicts tried to convince him they were innocent, but not this one. He was bragging about the women he’d hurt. A serial rapist and he was
. Over a hundred miles of listening to that sick son-of-a-bitch carry on, no matter how many times he’d told him to shut the hell up. Escorting that bastard through the prison doors had been the highlight of this trip.
He looked down at the trip miles, eighteen and counting. When he glanced back at the road, he noticed a car pulled over on the ‘emergency only’ side of the highway. “Damn,” he mumbled. “That’s all I need.” No white cloth blowing in the breeze, no hazard lights flashing. From what he could see it was just an abandoned car parked where it shouldn’t be. Kade considered just passing on by and letting some county cop deal with the situation, but instead he slowed, flipped his lights on, and pulled behind the car while reaching for the radio to call in the tags and his twenty. He’d just relayed the information to dispatch when he caught movement from inside the car.
Stepping out of the official cruiser, hand resting lightly on his weapon which was holstered at his hip, Kade walked to the open driver’s side window. Looking into the car, he saw her. She was bent over the steering wheel, her long chestnut colored hair pulled back with a clip.
“Ma’am, is everything all right?” She turned her head and his breath caught in his throat. A beautiful face, streaked with tears squeezed his heart. Without thinking, he abandoned all of his years of training. Without concern for his own safety, he yanked open the door. Squatting down beside the car and balancing on the balls of his feet, Kade spoke to her. “Sweetheart, what’s wrong? Are you hurt? Did you have an accident?”
Turning her head instead of raising it, Krista looked into the greenest eyes she’d ever seen. They were filled with concern. For her?
, she thought,
they can’t be.
He didn’t even know her. “What did you say? What accident?” Sitting up, she tried to answer and the whole ordeal came back into her mind full force. The nausea hit and this time it wasn’t going to pass. She was going to be sick.
“Oh, no!” she exclaimed, just before she covered her mouth with one hand and scrambled to get out of the car, knocking him out of her way. As she ran around the car, Krista made it to the grassy right-of-way just as she began heaving. Her whole body was shaking. The weakness brought her to her knees. When she finally finished, she scooted back against the back car tire, drew up her knees which were now throbbing with pain, and laid her head down on them.
“It never affected me this fast before,” Krista murmured to the big man as he knelt down beside her. Her eyes swept over him. Oh, crap! He was a cop! She was so not up for this. With a sigh of resignation, she held out her wrists, waiting for him to put the handcuffs on and arrest her.
Kade looked at her outreached arms and then at her pale face. Too pale. “What are you doing?”
“Aren’t you going to arrest me?”
“Why would I do that?” he questioned, confused.
“Well, because I kinda’ knocked you on your booty and you’re a cop. Isn’t that like assault on a police officer or something?” Her voice was weak and she sounded resigned.
“Booty?” He smirked. “No, I’m not going to arrest you.”
“You’re not?” she asked him, sounding shocked.
“No,” he answered with a touch of humor. “Considering the alternative,” he nodded toward the soiled grass, “I think I’d rather be knocked on my ass.”
“Oh.” She stared at him with wide eyes. “So, just a ticket then?”
“Why would I give you a ticket?”
“Because you’re a cop, and not just a cop, but a state cop, and they say state cops love to give out tickets.” The pale woman looked so innocent as she made the statement, that it felt like a shot to his heart, but it also bothered him for her to think such a thing. He’d heard that same statement countless times, mostly from the people he was giving a ticket to, but for some reason he didn’t want to hear it from her.
Kade shook his head, trying to get his thoughts together. He needed to concentrate. “What did you mean,
never affected you this fast before?”
Kade jerked at her soft words. She made her statement as if it was common knowledge that she had ‘treatments.’ Hell, was she sick? What kind of treatments would cause a person to become so violently ill? His mind was whirling. Swallowing hard, he asked her, “What, uh…kind of treatment makes you so unexpectedly sick?” He wasn’t sure if he really wanted to hear her answer.
“Not unexpectedly, I expected it. Just not this…” She started to say something else, but jumped up and ran back to where she’d been and started throwing up again until she was dry heaving. There was nothing else to come up, but her little body just wasn’t satisfied with that. When she started to shake all over, Kade stepped up and wrapped his arms around her waist.
He pulled her back to his front, supporting her. Krista melted into him like she belonged there, feeling the warmth of his body heat seeping into her.
When she finally stopped shaking, he reluctantly let her go and turned her around to face him. “You can’t drive like this, and there’s no way in hell I’m leaving you here. Where do you live?” Kade demanded.
“I’ll be okay. It will pass. It always does.” She stated so matter-of-factly, like this was an everyday occurrence for her. He didn’t like that idea at all. Not at all.
“Tell me where you’re going and I’ll take you there myself,” he stated, emphatically.
“I can’t just leave my car here.” Krista began to worry. Without saying another word, Kade walked her over to his cruiser and placed her gently in the passenger seat. As he rounded the hood of the car to the driver’s side, he pulled out his phone.
“Hey, Bud, I got a car that needs a tow,” he spoke into the phone out of her earshot. He was just finishing up the call and giving his location as he got into the car. Kade ended the call and put his cell phone back in his pocket. With concern on his face, he looked over at her.
She started to smile before he spoke up. “Tow truck will be here in ten minutes.”
At his announcement, the small smile left her face. She looked almost lost. “Please, I’m sorry, please don’t tow my car. I’ll drive straight home. I’m sorry I knocked you down. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” She repeated as her body began to tremble. “P-p-please don’t-t-tow my c-c-car,” she stuttered as cold chills racked her body.
“Shhh,” Kade murmured to her as he reached over to gather her in his arms, or as much of her as he could with the console and control panel between them. But it was enough to tuck her head to his side. “It’s okay, baby. I’m just having it towed to your place.” When she tilted her head up, he looked down into the most beautiful sky blue eyes he’d ever seen.
“You are?” she questioned with wide-eyed wonder.
“Yeah, just as soon as I find out where that is.” He smiled, tenderly. Watching her, he saw confusion pass over her face, before she gave him a smile which damn-near stole his breath.
“Oh, thank you,” she replied gratefully.
Kade couldn’t help but smile back at her. “Why don’t I get the necessary information from your driver’s license while you try and rest?”
“Okay. Everything you need is in my car, in the glove box.”
He held her for a bit longer, enjoying the way she felt in his arms. “You stay here. I’ll take care of everything.” Then, giving her a light squeeze, Kade got out of the car and pulled out an emergency blanket from the trunk. Walking to her side, he wrapped it around her, and kissed her forehead before shutting the door.
Kade finished going over all of her information when the tow truck pulled up in front of her car. “Hey, Bud, thanks for the pick-up,” he said as the tow truck driver came sauntering toward him.
“No problem, man. Want me to drop it at the impound?” Bud asked.
“No, take it here,” Kade answered as he handed Bud a piece of paper with Krista’s address written on it. Krista. He liked her name. Krista Avery. Yeah, he liked it a lot. He also liked the fact she lived in Mt. Eve, a lot closer to town than he did, but then again, not many lived as far out as his place.
Krista watched as the two men hooked her car to the tow truck, really getting a good look at the cop who’d rescued her. Okay, well, maybe not rescued, because she knew after the chills passed and she slept that she would be okay. At least until next week when she would go for her next treatment, but she wouldn’t think about that right now. No, she’d much rather watch him. Officer McKaden. She’d read his name tag on his uniform. He had black hair, as dark as the midnight sky hanging almost to his shoulders, with just enough wave to give it that fashionable messy look. Dang, she’d seen very few men as big as he was. He had to be at least six feet tall and two hundred fifty pounds of pure male. Krista knew it was all taut muscles from when he’d held her close after she’d been sick the second time.
Normally, Krista didn’t like to be touched. She wasn’t used to being held. Not since she was fourteen and her whole life had changed in a single day. But the way his big arms wrapped around her, holding her body tightly and firmly to his as she fought off the shakes, made her tremble for a different reason. Officer McKaden was gentle. The way he held her head to that mile wide chest, even with the console pressed into her side, made her feel safe.
The thought surprised her. Did she really feel safe with a complete stranger? And he was a stranger, no matter how he made her feel when he looked down into her eyes and smiled that oh-so-sexy smile right here in this very car. The same car he was now walking toward, eyes fixed on her. Did he know she’d been staring at him the whole time? As he got into the car, he looked over at her with a kind expression on his face.
“Are you feeling better, Miss Avery?” Damn, he hoped she was a Miss. A very available Miss.
“Yes.” She sighed. “Just tired, Officer McKaden.”
Guess it’s all business now.
The thought gave her a twinge of disappointment.
“Lieutenant actually, but Kade works too.” He smiled at her.
Krista couldn’t hold back her giggle. “Your name is Kade McKaden? Seriously?”
Gazing at her pretty face, the little twinkle in those beautiful blue eyes, all he could think was how he’d do just about anything to keep that look aimed at him. Chuckling, he answered, “No, Kade is just a nickname. You know, short for McKaden. Picked it up in training and it just stuck.” Leaning over her body, reaching for the seatbelt, he pulled it across her.
Krista inhaled sharply, breathing in his scent. She wanted to reach up, grab hold of him and never let go. He snapped the seatbelt into place. “Buckle-up, it’s the law.” Kade chuckled.
Turning sideways in her seat, so she could face him, she asked, “So what is your name?”
When he glanced over she noticed those bright green eyes were twinkling at her. Kade looked back at the road. Pulling out onto the highway, he answered, “Lawson. But nobody calls me that.” He paused and then glanced back at her again. “Ever.”