Authors: Lisa Childs
AN AGENT, AN HEIRESS AND A DEADLY RESCUE MISSION…
Media heiress Josie Jessup and her son have spent the past several years in witness protection, yet they are anything but safe. When her father is attacked, Josie decides it’s time to return home…and walks right into a deadly trap.
Despite their tumultuous history, FBI agent Brendan O’Hannigan—Josie’s former lover and the last man she wants to see—comes to her rescue. As the main reason Josie had to go into hiding in the first place, Brendan knows he has a lot to prove in order to earn her trust. But to reveal his real motive for taking on this case will destroy everything he’s worked for. Josie has no idea just how important this mission is...or just how far Brendan will go to ensure their reunion remains permanent.
She’d spoken to the boy, and her soft voice had hit him like a blow to the stomach.
While he might not have recognized her body or face, he could not mistake that voice as hers; her voice had haunted him, too. Before he could recover, he turned his attention to the child, and reeled from another blow. With his curly black hair and dark green eyes, the child was even more recognizable than the woman. He looked exactly like the few childhood photos of Brendan that his stepmother hadn’t managed to
He didn’t even remember closing the distance between them, didn’t remember reaching for her. But he held her, his hand wrapped tightly around her delicate wrist.
She lifted her face to him, and he saw it now—in the almond shape and silvery green color of her eyes. What he didn’t recognize was the fear that widened those eyes and stole the color from her face.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bestselling, award-winning author Lisa Childs writes paranormal and contemporary romance for Harlequin Books. She lives on thirty acres in Michigan with her two daughters, a talkative Siamese and a long-haired Chihuahua who thinks she’s a rottweiler. Lisa loves hearing from readers, who can contact her through her website,
, or snail-mail address, P.O. Box 139, Marne, MI 49435.
Books by Lisa Childs
664—RETURN OF THE LAWMAN
834—THE SUBSTITUTE SISTER
1263—RANSOM FOR A PRINCE
1403—PROTECTING THE PREGNANT PRINCESS**
1410—THE PRINCESS PREDICAMENT**
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Known to some as JJ Brandt, she’s the American princess who died over three years ago. With the help of a U.S. marshal, Josie staged her death in order to save her life and the life of her unborn child. Lured out of hiding, she puts herself and her son in danger.
The father of Josie’s child has the most reasons to want her dead, but the mobster’s son isn’t who everyone—including Josie—believes him to be. While he wants to rescue Josie and the son he didn’t realize he had, his secret mission might put them in more danger.
Charlie “CJ” Brandt—
The three-year-old boy loves his mother and wants to protect her from all the “bad” men, never realizing that one of them might be his father.
An attempt on the media mogul’s life is what lures his daughter out of hiding, but the powerful man has many enemies who might go after Josie and her son out of vengeance.
Brendan’s stepmother wants control of the family business and fortune, and she isn’t above eliminating all of her dead husband’s heirs.
U.S. Marshal Donald Peterson—
Does the man intend to relocate Josie for her protection or for her peril?
To Philip Tyson for proving to me that heroes really do exist!
Thank you for being my white knight!
Goose bumps of dread rising on her arms, Josie Jessup slipped into a pew in the back of church. She hated funerals, hated saying goodbye to anyone but most especially to someone who had died too soon. And so senselessly and violently—shot down just as his adult life was beginning.
The small church, with its brilliantly colored stained-glass windows, was filled with her former student’s family and friends. Some of them nodded in polite acknowledgment; others glared at her. They probably blamed her for the career he had pursued, the career that had cost him his life. At the local community college where she taught journalism courses, she had recognized the kid’s talent. She had even recommended he cover the story that had killed him, because it had been killing her that she couldn’t cover it herself.
But she couldn’t risk anyone recognizing her. Even though her appearance had changed, her writing style hadn’t. If she had written the story, certain people would have recognized it as hers no matter whom the byline claimed had authored it. And Josie couldn’t risk anyone realizing that she wasn’t really dead.
That was her other reason for hating funerals—because it reminded her of her own, of having to say goodbye to everyone she loved. She actually hadn’t attended her funeral; her ashes hadn’t been in the urn as everyone else had believed. But still she’d had to say goodbye to the only life she’d known in order to begin a new life under a new identity.
But apparently she wasn’t making any better choices in this life than she had in her last, since innocent people were still getting hurt. She hadn’t pulled the trigger and ended this young man’s promising life. But she blamed herself nearly as much as some of these people blamed her. If only she hadn’t mentioned her suspicions regarding the private psychiatric hospital and the things that were rumored to take place there...
The gnawing pangs of guilt were all too familiar to her. The first story she’d covered, back in college, had also cost a young man his life. But then she’d had someone to assure her that it wasn’t her fault. Now she had no one to offer her assurances or comfort.
Chatter from the people in front of her drifted back. “Since Michael was hoping to sell the Serenity House story to one of Jessup Media’s news outlets, I heard Stanley Jessup might attend the funeral.”
Josie’s breath caught with hope and panic. She wanted to see him. But she couldn’t risk his
her. For his own protection, her father had to go on believing that his only child was dead.
“Not anymore,” the other person responded. “He’s in the hospital. They don’t even know if he’ll make it.”
Josie leaned forward, ready to demand to know what had happened to her father. But before she could, the other person had already asked.
“He was attacked,” the gossiper replied. “Someone tried to kill him.”
Had all the sacrifices she’d made been for naught? Had her father been attacked because of her? And if so, then she’d done nothing to protect him except deprive him of what mattered most to him. She had already been guilt-ridden. Now that guilt intensified, overwhelming her.
If her father didn’t make it, he would die never knowing the truth. She couldn’t let that happen.
* * *
in critical condition...”
The breaking news announcement drew Brendan O’Hannigan’s attention to the television mounted over the polished oak-and-brass bar of O’Hannigan’s Tavern. At 9:00 a.m. it was too early for the establishment to be open to the public, but it was already doing business. Another kind of business than serving drinks or sandwiches. A dangerous kind of business that required his entire focus and control.
But Brendan ignored the men with whom he was meeting to listen to the rest of the report: “Nearly four years ago, media mogul Stanley Jessup’s daughter died in a house explosion that authorities ruled arson. Despite her father’s substantial resources, Josie Jessup’s murder has never been solved.”
“Josie Jessup?” one of the men repeated her name and then tapped the table in front of Brendan. “Weren’t you dating her at one time?”
Another of the men snorted. “A reporter? Brendan would never date a reporter.”
He cleared his throat, fighting back all the emotions just the sound of her name evoked. And it had been more than three years....
Wasn’t it supposed to get easier? Weren’t his memories of her supposed to fade? He shouldn’t be able to see her as clearly as if she stood before him now, her pale green eyes sparkling and her long red hair flowing around her shoulders. Brendan could even hear her laughter tinkling in his ear.
“At the time I didn’t know she was a reporter,” he answered honestly, even though these were men he shouldn’t trust with the truth. Hell, he shouldn’t trust these men with anything.
He leaned back against the booth, and its stiff vinyl pushed the barrel of his gun into the small of his back. The bite of metal reassured him. It was just one of the many weapons he carried. That reassured him more.
The first man who’d spoken nodded and confirmed, “It wasn’t common knowledge that the girl wanted to work for her father. All her life she had seemed more intent on spending his money, living the life of an American princess.”
An American princess. That was exactly what Josie had been. Rich and spoiled, going after what she wanted no matter who might get hurt. She had hurt others—with the stories Brendan had discovered that she’d written under a pseudonym. Her exposés had started before she’d even graduated with her degree in journalism.
Brendan should have dug deeper until he’d learned the truth about her before getting involved with her. But the woman had pursued him and had been damn hard to resist. At least he had learned the truth about her before she’d managed to learn the truth about him. Somehow she must have discovered enough information to have gotten herself killed, though.
The news report continued: “The death of his daughter nearly destroyed Jessup, but the billionaire used his work to overcome his loss, much as he did when his wife died twenty years ago. The late Mrs. Jessup was European royalty.”