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Authors: Beth Andrews

In This Town

BOOK: In This Town
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She’s on a mission to get out—not get involved

Single mom Tori Sullivan is ready to grab the life she’s
always wanted—away from Mystic Point. And initially, newcomer Walker Bertrand
seems the ideal partner for her adventure. His appeal makes a girl fantasize
about happily-ever-after. That is, until it’s clear this lawman’s strict moral
code collides with her knack for bending the rules. Add in his investigation of
her sister and that
should
be a warning that he’s
not
Tori’s fairy-tale ending, or her ticket out
of town.

Yet, Walker seems bent on getting to the bottom of her
secrets—something no one has tried to do in a long time. That he wants to know
the
real
Tori, makes resisting him impossible. But
being with Walker could be the one thing that holds her here.

There was no good reason to get involved with Tori

Walker knew there was no reason to let her get to him, to
believe there could be something between them and a million reasons why he
shouldn’t think about her, shouldn’t dream about her.

She was caustic and guarded and fake.

She was beautiful and smart and more caring than even she
realized.

Hell.

He edged closer. She didn’t back up, didn’t move closer. She
simply watched him, that coy half-smile of hers playing on her lips. “Did you
want something, Detective?” she asked, all cocky and confident and
challenging.

“Yeah,” he said gruffly, sliding his hand behind her neck to
hold her head. Tugged her hair so her face tipped toward him. Her eyes flashed
and widened, her hands went to his chest, laid there, not pushing or pulling,
just heating his skin. “I want something.”

Dear Reader,

Thank you so much for picking up a copy of
In this Town
, the final book in The Truth about the
Sullivans trilogy. It’s never easy to say goodbye, and I have to admit that
after spending the past year writing about Mystic Point, I’ll miss these
characters. While it wasn’t always smooth sailing, I had a great time with the
Sullivan sisters as they learned the truth about the past and found hope and
love for brighter futures.

But
In this Town
isn’t just the
third book of a trilogy, it’s also my tenth book for Harlequin Superromance!

Wow. Ten books. I can hardly believe it.

It truly is a dream come true, one born years ago when I was
a young, stay-at-home mother. Honestly, the idea of writing romances for
Harlequin Books hit me out of the blue but when it did, it took hold with an
intensity unlike anything I’d ever known.

I wanted to be a writer. That was it. A simple declaration
but one that changed the course of my life. Now I’m living that dream but I
couldn’t have done it without the support of my family and readers.

So I want to thank you for your part in making my dream come
true. Thank you for reading my stories, for sharing in the beliefs that love
should be celebrated and that there’s nothing better than a happy ending.

Please visit my website,
www.bethandrews.net
or drop me a
line at
[email protected]
or P.O. Box
714, Bradford, PA 16701. I’d love to hear from you.

Happy reading!
Beth Andrews

In This Town

Beth Andrews

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Romance Writers of America RITA® Award winner Beth Andrews’s
big dream came true when she sold her first book to Harlequin Superromance. Beth
and her two teenage daughters outnumber…oops…
live
with her husband in Northwestern Pennsylvania. When not writing, Beth can be
found texting her son at college, video-chatting with her son at college or, her
son’s favorite, sending him money. Learn more about Beth and her books by
visiting her website,
www.bethandrews.net
.

Books by Beth Andrews

HARLEQUIN SUPERROMANCE

1496—NOT WITHOUT HER FAMILY
1556—A
NOT-SO-PERFECT PAST
1591—HIS SECRET AGENDA
1634—DO YOU TAKE THIS
COP?
1670—A MARINE FOR CHRISTMAS
1707—THE PRODIGAL SON
1727—FEELS
LIKE HOME
1782—UNRAVELING THE PAST*
1794—ON HER SIDE*

*The Truth about the Sullivans

Other titles by this author available in ebook
format.

Don’t miss any of our special offers. Write to us at the
following address for information on our newest releases.

Harlequin Reader Service
U.S.: 3010 Walden Ave., P.O.
Box 1325, Buffalo, NY 14269
Canadian: P.O. Box 609, Fort Erie, Ont. L2A
5X3

To Andy.
Thanks for being my biggest fan.

Acknowledgments
Special thanks to Assistant Chief Mike
Ward of the Bradford, PA, Police Department.

CHAPTER ONE

M
ASSACHUSETTS
S
TATE
P
OLICE
detective Walker Bertrand shifted in the hard seat and drummed his
fingers on his thigh. He’d been in the small, coastal tourist trap of Mystic
Point for all of forty minutes, the past thirty of those spent in this chair
while the district attorney and mayor did their best to tactfully explain to the
police chief and his assistant chief why they were in a shitload of trouble.

Though Walker was certain explanations weren’t necessary. Ross
Taylor and Layne Sullivan had to know that sleeping together would cause them
problems. If not, they deserved to have their badges taken away from them.

Walker leaned forward, let his hands dangle loosely between his
knees while silently urging Jack Pomeroy, the long-winded D.A., to wind things
the hell up so Walker could get to work. Finally, and with a great deal of
reluctance and regret on his puffy face, Pomeroy handed Chief Taylor a
paper.

Taylor’s expression remained impassive as he read the
allegations against him and Sullivan. To Walker’s right, Mayor Seagren looked as
if he’d rather perform dental surgery on himself—minus Novocain—than be the
bearer of bad news to his two highest ranking police officers.

Walker let his gaze slide over Assistant Chief Layne
Sullivan.

Women were a mystery, one of life’s greatest. But being the
only son in a family with four daughters gave Walker a certain edge. He’d been
surrounded by females since birth, after all. He understood them. Knew how they
worked and could easily read their moods, gauge their thoughts.

Not that he needed a PhD in the psychology of women to know
Sullivan’s mood was hostile, her thoughts contemplating murder.

His murder.

Waves of animosity rolled off her, battered Walker with
resentment and anger. She didn’t want him here. Not in her town. Not sitting
across from the chief in her police department. Not sticking his nose into her
professional life and career.

Life was tough that way.

Being a cop meant he often went where he wasn’t wanted.

He didn’t take it personally.

Walker stretched his legs out in front of him and met
Sullivan’s heated gaze with a bland one of his own—which only seemed to piss her
off more.

“If you fire Chief Taylor,” she said to the mayor, her long,
lean body practically vibrating with outrage, her fisted hands on her hips,
“then I quit.”

A passionate response, though a bit predictable for his tastes.
Had it been brought on by respect for her boss, the man who—from all
accounts—had won the position she’d wanted for herself? Devotion to the man she
was sleeping with? Or loyalty to her partner in crime?

Taylor set down the paper. “They’re not firing me.”

Not yet.

Maybe not at all. But everyone in the room knew it was a
distinct possibility.

“Any matters regarding termination of employment are up to
Mystic Point’s city council and mayor,” Pomeroy pointed out. “Not me or
Detective Bertrand.”

Sullivan jerked her head in Walker’s direction. “Then why is he
here?”

“I’m here to help,” he said easily.

He was there to get to the truth.

Working for the state attorney general’s office, Walker was
often tasked with investigating alleged wrongdoings in local government. City
council members and mayors and police chiefs who abused their power or took
bribes. Police departments accused of everything from cover-ups and mishandled
cases to illegally obtaining evidence.

Most cops considered him the enemy. A traitor to the
brotherhood, one who tore through the Blue Line and turned his back on his
comrades in arms so he’d get promoted, maybe receive a few accolades as he
climbed higher and higher in his career.

They could think whatever they wanted. Walker knew he was part
of the system, a valuable part that helped maintain a balance. That rid the
ranks of dirty cops and politicians. He dug for the truth, a messy,
time-consuming, often thankless job.

He was damned good at it.

Sullivan bared her teeth and he wouldn’t be surprised if she
leaped at him and took a big chunk out of his hide. “We don’t need your
help.”

“The D.A. thinks you do,” William Seagren said, the bald spot
on his crown shiny with sweat.

“This is ridiculous,” Sullivan snapped. “Ross didn’t do
anything wrong.”

“Then he has nothing to worry about,” Walker said before
Seagren could respond.

Sullivan snorted. “Nothing except the fact that an
investigation like this could ruin his reputation, not to mention have an
adverse effect on how he’s viewed by the officers under his command and the
community. They’ll question his capabilities, his ethics and morals.”

She was passionate, Walker would give her that. And, if he was
being honest, he could see what had tempted Taylor into pursuing a sexual
relationship with her. Her dark hair was pulled back into a ponytail that
reached the middle of her back, her features sharp. The uniform she wore
accentuated the curves of her hips, her breasts.

Yeah, she was a looker. But Taylor should’ve had more
restraint. More control.

Walker would have.

“Maybe Chief Taylor should’ve considered the consequences
before he became personally involved with one of those officers under his
command,” Walker said, then casually touched the top of his head, just in case
the laserlike glare she shot his way had ignited his hair on fire.

Mayor Seagren cleared his throat. “Now, Layne, surely you can
understand why we have to look into this matter.”

“Understand that you’re accusing us of—” she grabbed the paper
Chief Taylor had set down and skimmed it “—neglect of duty and ethical
violations and…corruption?” Her eyes wide, she crumpled the edge of the paper in
her fist. “God, Billy, that’s a felony.”

“So is conspiracy to obstruct justice,” Walker pointed out,
tired of the bullshit. Of how Pomeroy and Seagren coddled these two. This was
why he’d been brought in, because no one in the county could be trusted to do
the job. To remain impartial. To not get personally involved with these people,
with this town.

“I’m here,” Walker told Sullivan in what he thought was a
highly reasonable tone. “There’s going to be an investigation—nothing will
change that so you might as well accept it. And you might want to start worrying
less about your supervisor and more about how this investigation is going to
affect you and your career.”

She growled at him. The woman actually growled.

“Captain,” the chief said mildly. Admonishingly.

Her expression didn’t soften and there was no sign his quiet
censure affected her in the least but after sending Walker one more of her “Burn
in hell!” looks, Sullivan walked to the wall next to the desk, leaned back and
stared straight ahead.

Interesting. Not just her acquiescence, but the entire
interaction between her and Taylor. Nothing in their body language gave away the
fact that they were lovers. There were no touches, no fleeting, longing glances.
Taylor had even addressed her by rank, instead of her name. The smart choice
given the circumstances and Walker’s presence.

Then again, maybe the chief and captain always maintained a
certain propriety while at work, foolishly believing they could keep their
professional and personal lives separate.

They couldn’t. No one could. Sex changed things. Emotions
clouded good judgment. Private fights, hurt feelings, even the rush of the good
times and the pull of desire eventually leaked out of the bedroom and into the
office. Tensions built, resentment simmered within the ranks of the department,
causing low morale, bitterness and accusations.

Walker would determine whether those accusations were based on
fact, fiction or something in between.

“How does this work?” Taylor asked in his Boston accent. There
was no visible anger, no worry in his eyes. His tone was calm, his shoulders
relaxed. As if he had nothing to hide, had done nothing wrong despite the
evidence to the contrary.

If Walker had been the type of cop to go with his gut, he might
believe Taylor was sincere. As honest and honorable as his record with the
Boston P.D. indicated.

Instincts were all well and good, and Walker didn’t discount
his, but neither did he put all his faith in them, either. He trusted his head,
not some nebulous feeling. He gathered the facts, saw his cases from every
angle, analyzed everyone and everything and then, and only then, did he come to
a conclusion.

Pomeroy shifted forward, his tie caught on the shelf of his
round stomach. “Detective Bertrand is in charge of seeing if the accusations
against you both have merit.”

“Until he completes that investigation,” Mayor Seagren said,
“you will be placed on administrative leave—”

Sullivan muttered something that sounded suspiciously like
“Nazi witch hunt” but Walker couldn’t be sure.

“With pay,” the mayor continued. “Meade will take over in the
interim.”

“Meade’s a good choice.” Taylor faced Walker. “You can expect
our full cooperation. Isn’t that right, Captain?”

“Of course,” she said as if that never should have even been in
doubt despite her obviously wanting to rip out his still-beating heart and chuck
it out the window.

Mayor Seagren stood. “Before we get to the rest—”

“There’s more?” Sullivan asked incredulously.

“I just want to state for the record that I fully expect
Detective Bertrand’s investigation to discover the allegations against you both
to be completely unfounded.”

“They will be,” Taylor said as if anything less was not only
unacceptable but unfathomable.

Sullivan shoved away from the wall, offended and irritated.
Then again, that seemed to be her standard expression. “Since we’re going on
record, I’d like to say that this is a complete waste of time. Chief Taylor and
I have done nothing wrong.”

Taylor pinched the bridge of his nose. “Captain Sullivan—”

“No. I will not stand here with my thumbs up my ass while our
reputations are dragged through the mud and our ethics questioned.” She began to
pace, her long legs eating up the short distance of the office, her ponytail
swinging behind her. “We did everything by the book. Everything. And now, months
after we reported our personal relationship—as per MPPD’s regulations—there are
suddenly questions about how we conduct ourselves and do our jobs? It’s
bullshit.”

“Just because there are no departmental rules forbidding
relationships within the Mystic Point police department,” Walker said, “doesn’t
mean that getting…personal…with your superior officer was a good idea.”

She stepped toward him. “You are seriously starting to piss me
off.”

Walker held her gaze. “Careful. Wouldn’t want to add an assault
charge to that list of allegations.”

Her grin was cocky with a healthy dose of mean tossed in. “Want
to bet? And the next time you address me, make sure you do so properly. Do you
understand me, Detective?”

She was pulling rank on him. He couldn’t help but admire her
for it.

“Oh, I understand perfectly.” He paused long enough to let her
know he couldn’t be intimidated. “Captain.”

Taylor stood. “We’ll leave our badges and service weapons with
Lieutenant Meade.”

Pomeroy grunted as he got to his feet. “Before you do, there’s
one more thing....”

He nodded at Walker, who reached for the envelope pressed
between the arm of the chair and his side, and handed it to Taylor. The chief’s
hesitation was so slight, most people probably wouldn’t have noticed it.

Walker wasn’t most people.

Taylor read the report, his expression darkening, the first
sign of emotion he’d shown since being told his professional life was under
scrutiny.

Sullivan crossed over to him. “What is it?”

He handed the paperwork to her. Walker had to give her credit,
she didn’t give anything away. No shock crossed her face.

No guilt.

“How did you get a hold of this?” Taylor asked, his voice
gruff. Demanding. “This report should’ve been sent directly to me.”

“Considering the accusations against you and Captain Sullivan,”
Pomeroy said, “I thought it best to have it sent to my office first. And, due to
the findings of those reports, the district attorney’s office, along with the
state attorney general, think it’d be best if the investigation into Dale York’s
death was handled by someone outside the Mystic Point police department.”

“That’s right,” Walker said, in response to the way Taylor’s
mouth flattened, the horror in Sullivan’s eyes. He grinned. “I’m taking
over.”

* * *

F
UNNY
TO
THINK
that
once upon a time, Tori Mott had actually believed in fairy tales. Oh, not the
ones about glass slippers or mermaids who longed to be human. And don’t even try
to tell her that when a beautiful girl shows up at the house of seven miniature
men all they want from her is to cook and clean while she sings to a bunch of
woodland animals.

Please. Men, no matter their height, all wanted the same thing
and there was nothing G-rated about it.

She also never bought into the idea that some handsome prince
would ride up and carry her off, far from a mundane life of endless toil. No,
Tori used to believe something much more dangerous, much more insidious than
poisoned apples and ravenous, transvestite wolves who liked girls in red
hoods.

She’d actually bought into the idea that she could escape her
small hometown, could go somewhere far away from the rumors, the envy and
resentment and, worst of all, the pity she’d lived with her entire life. That
she could make her dreams, all her big plans, come true. And that finally, she’d
achieve the greatest lie of them all.

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