Authors: Lora Leigh
Tags: #Romance, #Romantic Suspense Fiction, #Suspense, #Fiction, #Contemporary, #Man-Woman Relationships, #Murder, #Crime, #Erotica, #Ranchers
St. Martin’s Paperbacks Titles by Lora Leigh
Praise for bestselling author Lora Leigh’s Elite Ops
Cambria at thirteen
It would have been amusing, if it hadn’t had the
potential to be so dangerous.
Jaymi Flannigan Kramer watched as her younger
sister, Cami, sneaked another shy look at Rafer
Callahan, one of Corbin County’s three bad boys and
the man Jaymi’s deceased husband had claimed as
a blood brother.
He was also the man she was sleeping with, but
that wasn’t as important as the fact that he was her
best friend. And he knew, just as well as she did, that
sleeping with him was her attempt to stay close to the
husband who was forever gone. He had been Tye’s
best friend, his blood brother, and the only man she
knew who even came close to her soul mate.
She turned her gaze away from Cami and Rafe
and let it sweep over the crowd attending the
Saturday night social.
Jaymi loved the name of the county’s weekly
street party and dance that had become a tradition of
almost-required attendance. The mayor and city
officials pushed the weekend socials the way some
towns pushed voting, sports arenas, and political
Corbin County and its seat, Sweetrock,
promoted their drug awareness and “Children First”
agenda with the same passion and strength. They
had adopted the slogan more than a generation
before and made certain everyone knew they meant
Friday after school the community center opened
and any child enrolled in school from Head Start to
college was welcome. BYOSB—Bring Your Own
Sleeping Bag—was the rule. But there were so many
donated bags that it really wasn’t necessary.
City officials, employees, and any and all
teachers, from tenured to substitute, were required to
give one weekend per month to chaperone the social
as well as the community center.
Families donated the food and drinks that were
prepared in the community center’s kitchen, and
parents who didn’t stay around to help chaperone
were forced to sign a legal release stating that if they
left their children, at any time, in the care of the
county’s volunteers, the parents rescinded all rights or
legal abilities to sue in the event of accident.
However all manner of ills could befall anyone
who chose not to participate. Permits could get lost or
delayed, mail could be misplaced, utility workers
could move at a much slower pace, and just forget
getting out of that speeding ticket. And that was
nothing compared to what local business owners
City Hall had begun the socials, and their
commitment to providing something entertaining and
supervised for the county’s youth had been sustained
for over twenty years. It had grown to the point that if
that commitment lapsed in any way, then newspapers
and radio stations found the phenomenon strange
enough to report it.
Corbin County had found that the key to keeping
their youth away from delinquency or drugs was to
give them something to do. And it was still working.
Parents and teens mingled in the dance area,
while the younger children played games or watched
Parents took the few hours’ break to dance,
socialize, and build not just friendships but also those
all-important ties that sustained a community.
But there were undercurrents. Undercurrents
existed in any town. It wasn’t all sweetness and light.
For Corbin County, those undercurrents seemed to
swirl most viciously around Rafer Callahan and his
cousins, Logan and Crowe. The three disowned
grandchildren of Corbin County’s founding and most
Crowe, Logan, and Rafer Callahan were each
the son of a reigning princess of one of those
founding families and the Callahan brother she had
Many said those three unions were born of the
murders of the brothers’ parents. The couples had
died in a suspicious accident on a mountain road.
Within days of their deaths the Rafferty, Corbin, and
Roberts patriarchs had arrived at the court house with
a bill of sale and proof of purchase of the extensive
Callahan lands bought by the three men. When their
sons Samuel, David, and Benjamin returned from the
military to a pittance amount for prime land, they
turned their attention to the daughters of these
The Callahan brothers had acquired more than
they had ever lost when they married those daughters.
At least for a few years. Until a freak blizzard had
swept through the Colorado mountains. The storm
had surprised the three couples who were returning
from Denver that night. Slick roads, high winds, and
near-zero visibility had sent their SUV careening over
a mountain cliff, killing them, as well as a single infant
And it had left three orphans whom those
influential families had opted to disown and attempt to
rob of the inheritances their mothers had left to them.
Property, cash, trust funds, and a multitude of stocks
and bonds that totaled into the millions. At last
rumored count, it was close to $40 million among the
three cousins. Funds that were still frozen and in
litigation ten years after the death of their parents.
If it hadn’t been for Rafe Callahan’s uncle Clyde
Ramsey, the boys wouldn’t have had a chance of
surviving or fighting for what was theirs.
But the same city officials and reigning families
who sponsored, pushed for, and fought for the
weekend attendance at the socials also put just as
much energy into ostracizing the Callahan cousins.
And the reasons why just simply didn’t make
sense. Why would the Raffertys, Robertses, and Corbins
turn on the only heirs their daughters had left?
Wouldn’t it have made more sense to draw the
orphans to their hearts, care for the boys, love them,
or at least give them the illusion of love, and steal their
inheritance once they were older?
But why turn on them at all? Why try to destroy
three kids who simply didn’t know what the hell was
going on or why their families had disowned them to
It was a question that Jaymi hadn’t really thought
much of herself until lately. It was simply accepted.
She had accepted it all her life, just as everyone else
in the town had.
As their mutual friend Jack Townsend had said
the other night when she had asked him about the
past, there were just things they had accepted as kids
but had learned better than to believe as adults.
But because of his father’s demands and a
county’s blind obedience to the three founding
families, Jack had been forced to take his friendship
with the Callahans into the shadows. It was either that
or watch his parents’ garage slowly go bankrupt.
That was how it worked in Corbin County. The
county was one of the last holdouts to an archaic
community. It was ruled by the financial power of three
families whose focus on the destruction of their own
flesh and blood was becoming a shadowed, silent
feud. That feud had the potential to tear families apart
in not too many more years.
Whether the Corbins, Rafferys, and Robertses
liked it or not, Corbin County was growing. New blood
was coming in. Technology was making the world a
much smaller place, and Corbin County would be
forced to change with it. Whether any of them liked it
Besides, there were more important things in the
world to worry about than these three young men. Men
who had been unfortunate enough to have been born
to an inheritance their families didn’t want them to
“Did you hear about Amy Jefferson?” Jaymi
heard the question posed several tables over by one
of the women who had volunteered to chaperone that
Amy, the daughter of Colorado’s state
representative, had been found raped, tortured, and
murdered. Another victim of a serial killer’s hunger.
“Poor thing,” Sara Keane, the wife of the
pharmacist Jaymi worked for, said. “They said they
found her in her car on the road at the base of Crowe
Mountain. She was a mess, too. She had suffered
badly the state police reported.”
That mountain belonged to Crowe Callahan and
it was part of the inheritance he was still fighting the
three families over. A mountain that had been in the
Corbin family since before the county had first been
created that went to the oldest child of the family, and
if that child was a daughter, all that was required was
that she have a child herself. And all the better if he
were a son and carried the “Crowe” name. Bloodline
was more important than name to the greatgrandmother
who had set the trust in motion.
Bloodlines, and the family name that originated
But the implications of the state representative’s
daughter dying at the base of the mountain wasn’t lost
on Jaymi. There were already those more than eager
to pin those murders on the Callahan cousins.
She slid a look to Rafe to see him laughing with
Logan. Cami had wandered away from the table, as
she was prone to do lately, as though she couldn’t
bear to be around Rafe for long. At the same time,
she would catch little glimpses of him as if to be
certain he was still there.
Teenage hormones, Jaymi thought sadly, weren’t
being kind to her sister, and they boded ill for Cami’s
future. A fascination such as the one she was showing
for Rafe would only end up breaking her young heart,
one way or the other.
It wasn’t as though Cami had a lot to hold on to in