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Authors: Mary Crawford

Joy and Tiers

BOOK: Joy and Tiers
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Contents

 

Joy and Tiers

Copyright

Dedication

Chapter 1: Tyler

Chapter 2: Heather

Chapter 3: Tyler

Chapter 4: Heather

Chapter 1: Tyler

Chapter 6: Heather

Chapter 7: Tyler

Chapter 8: Heather

Chapter 9: Tyler

Chapter 10: Heather

Chapter 11: Tyler

Chapter 12: Heather

Chapter 13: Tyler

Chapter 14: Heather

Chapter 15: Tyler

Chapter 16: Heather

Chapter 17: Tyler

Chapter 18: Heather

Chapter 19: Tyler

Chapter 20: Heather

Chapter 21: Tyler

Chapter 22: Heather

Epilogue: Tyler

Acknowledgments

About the Author

A Final Note

Previews

Preview of So the Heart Can Dance (A Hidden Beauty Novel #2)

Dedication

Chapter 1: Tara

Chapter 2: Aidan

Chapter 3: Tara

Chapter 4: Aidan

Preview of Identity of the Heart (A Hidden Heart Novel #1)

Chapter 1: Rogue

Chapter 2: Ivy

Chapter 3: Tristan

Preview of Love Naturally (A Hidden Beauty Novel #4)

Dedication

Chapter 1: Madison

Chapter 2: Trevor

Table of Contents

 

All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems – except in the case of brief quotations in articles or reviews – without permission in writing from its publisher, Mary Crawford and Diversity Ink.

All brand names and product names used in this book are trademarks, registered trademarks, or trade names of their respective holders. I’m not associated with any product or vendor in this book. 

Published August 5, 2015 by Diversity Ink

 

ISBN-13: 978-0692477465 

ISBN-10: 0692477462 

ASIN: B010FDWXPG

 

 

 

 

To all of the men and women that serve: There simply aren’t enough words in any language to say enough thanks for what you do. 

 

To the families that hold their whole world together while they’re away, you give the term heroic a whole new meaning.

 

 

 

 

It’s hard enough to try to work in this shoebox-sized food truck while slamming my head on the ceiling every ten seconds, but right now I’ve got an overly helpful witness dogging my steps like a bloodhound. “Gidget, dammit. You have to let me do my job here. Do you go out of your way to annoy everybody or is it just me?” I glare at her, trying to get her to back away from the broken glass. True to form, she’s entirely fearless and crazy bossy. It’s always more difficult to be out on calls for people you know, especially when they are pretty little spitfires who make your blood boil—and not necessarily in totally negative ways. 

“Hold your horses, Cowboy!” Heather argues. “Those may seem like a bunch worthless junk strewn all over the counter to you. It took me a week to make all those flowers by hand for a wedding this weekend. I’d like to save as many of them as possible before you go in there with those overgrown tennis rackets that you call hands and smash everything to smithereens.”

“Do you mind if I go ahead and take some pictures here? The evidence team is tied up doing a huge drug bust,” I ask, as I pull my camera out of my gear bag.

“Fine, knock yourself out. Not that it’s going to do a whole lot of good. We did all this last time, and all it did was make my insurance rates go up. The punks messed up my truck and got away scot-free. This sucks rotten moose-balls,” Heather laments.

I smile at her colorful use of language. “Hey now, Gidget, are you casting aspersions on the county’s finest?” I ask, tossing the question over my shoulder to keep the mood light.

“Well, Lord knows someone has to. Otherwise that head of yours would get so huge that your ratty ole’ cowboy hat wouldn’t even fit on it.”

Heather grabs a broom and a garbage bag from a small cubbyhole behind the driver’s seat. She’s about to start sweeping up the glass when a glint of metal catches my eye.

“Stop!” I reflexively bellow.

Heather freezes mid-stride, her face set in a thunderous frown. She raises her eyebrow at me as if she’s daring me to continue. Under any other circumstances, this little power game would have been fun to explore, but this is no game. It’s now a matter of life and death. The time for fun and games is over.

“I think you forgot to say Simon Says,” Heather responds sardonically.

“Heather, I wish this was a game, but it has just entered the world of deadly serious. So, I’m going to need you to play the most serious game of Simon Says you’ve ever played. Can you do that?”

A myriad of emotions crosses her face. Fear, shock, anger, and curiosity flit across in rapid secession. I have to suppress a grin of my own when I consider how terrible she would be at poker. Scratch that—she wouldn’t need skills to clean up at poker, she could just bat those beautiful baby blue eyes and show off her pin-up figure and men would be falling at her feet.

“I have a hunch that I should be concerned that you actually bothered to use my real name.”

“Well, it is true that I have to talk to you about serious things, but I can call you Gidget if you’d prefer.”

Heather blushes as she stammers, “Heather works just fine, thank you.”

“Heather, I told you to stop because I found two bullet casings on the floor next to where you work,” I explain. This part of my job is never pleasant. I hate shattering someone’s formerly safe, orderly, sane world, by turning it upside down and telling them their world has become a living nightmare.

Heather’s eyes are wide. “Next to
me
?” she asks, “What could they possibly want from me?”

Oh, Hell. I don’t want to answer that question. Unfortunately, I fail to mask my expression quickly enough, and she reads the answer in my eyes.

She sways a little in her impossibly high heels as her face blanches to a frighteningly light shade of white.

Instinctively, I reach out to steady her, placing my hands around her waist. “Easy, I’ve got you. I’ll keep you safe,” I murmur to try to soothe her trembling body as she wheezes to catch her breath in my arms.

Apparently, something I said must have rubbed her the wrong way again because she draws herself up to her full height and spins in my arms. “Really, Superman? I suppose you’ve got some special kryptonite in there that helps you dodge bullets? Because the last time I checked, bullets are bad for
your
health too. So, how do you intend to dodge bullets and come out unscathed when the rest of us can’t?” Heather demands, glaring up at me. “What makes you so special?”

The question takes me by surprise. It’s something I’ve thought about a lot over the past two years. In fact, it pretty much torments me. I just didn’t expect to hear it from her. “I guess when it comes down to it, nothing. Nothing but a goddamn lucky streak makes me special,” I practically spit the words out because they have such a bitter taste.

Heather looks a little shocked at the venom in my voice. “Whoa, Cowboy, it sounds like there’s a story there, and I might even want to hear it someday. However, don’t we have bigger fish to fry here?” she comments as she points to the shell casings she has now spotted on the floor. I notice her voice is a little shaky.

She’s right; we do have bigger fish to fry than ghosts from my past. I kick myself for my lapse in concentration. I never used to lose focus this easily. I need to get her out of here because I don’t even know if the shooter is still at large.

“Heather, why don’t you come sit in my squad car? It’s warmer in there, and it provides a little more protection. We don’t know when these bullets were fired or who fired them. It could just be some kids doing target practice, or it could be something much more serious. Either way, I’d feel better if you were out of the line of fire.”

“Do you think there’ll be more shots fired? What am I going to do? I have a wedding cake to do!” 

I’m trying not to make light of her predicament, but in the grand scheme of things, it seems pretty inconsequential. “Can’t they find somebody else to make their cake?” I ask what I think is a relatively reasonable question.

“Who do you think I am? McDonald’s? I am an artist!” Heather yells, her eyes sparkling with rage. “People come to me for my skills with food. You can’t get what I make just anywhere. Obviously, you’ve never been married; otherwise you’d know that you have to book this stuff months and months in advance. People design their cakes with their cake artists. People like me spend days, weeks and sometimes months making flowers and other decorations for cakes; it’s not something you just slap together in the drive through.” Heather points to a schedule on the wall, which shows that she is indeed booked out for at least the next year.

BOOK: Joy and Tiers
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