Authors: Andrea Kane
Tags: #Divorced People, #Private investigators - New York (State), #Private Investigators, #New York (State), #Mystery & Detective, #Arson investigation, #Crimes against, #General, #Romance, #Children of divorced parents, #Mystery Fiction, #Businessmen, #Businessmen - Crimes against, #Suspense, #Fiction, #Wilderness Survival
New York Times
bestselling author Andrea Kane’s gripping new page-turner,
Wrong Place, Wrong Time
, bolts out of the starting gate and straight into the winner-take-all world of competitive horse show jumping, where drugs, alcohol, money, and egos collide and two strong-willed families risk everything to protect the ones they love.
Sometimes bad things happen to good people. . . especially when they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time.
What begins as a romantic weekend in a cozy cabin turns into a deadly nightmare when Sally Montgomery’s companion, Frederick Pierson, is murdered. But instead of regarding Sally as a victim, the police are after her as their prime suspect.
To evade the authorities and a brutal killer, Sally goes into hiding, relying on her wits and basic survival skills to stay alive. Desperate, she calls Pete Montgomery, her ex-husband and former NYPD detective turned private investigator, for help. With Sally’s life on the line, Monty recruits their daughter, Devon, to work on the case with him.
Devon has her father’s cop instincts. As she probes deeper into the murder, the investigation brings her closer to uncovering a dangerous Pierson family secret — one that could destroy the family empire and its heir apparent, Blake Pierson. Though powerfully attracted to Blake, Devon isn’t sure if he’s friend or foe. She does know that he’ll do anything to protect his family. With Devon’s heart and Olympic show-jumping gold at stake, how far will his family loyalty extend?
Time is running out. Danger is closing in. Can Devon prove Sally’s innocence before she becomes the killer’s next victim?
TO THE ENTIRE VETERINARY COMMUNITY
— those amazing professionals who dedicate themselves to the health and well-being of animals and to the advancement of veterinary medicine. You have my profound respect and my personal gratitude
And to two very special inspirations:
Rascal — your loving heart, feisty nature, and dauntless spirit rallied. You're a hero in the true sense of the word.
And to the real Stolen Thunder — I hope I captured your majesty on the pages of this novel.
The skies were that harsh shade of gray that signified winter in upstate New York.
Sally Montgomery’s secondhand Chevy truck jostled along the narrow, snow-covered excuse of a road that led from her house to the sprawling horse farm a mile down the way. She would have hiked it — she usually did — even at this ungodly hour of 6:30 A.M. Everyone at her nursery school thought she was crazy. A fifty-two-year-old woman, choosing to trek two miles round-trip by foot, and before sunrise, no less?
But, hey, she was in great shape, she loved the outdoors, and the truth was, the hike cleared her head, made her feel alive.
Except on days like today. Even Sally drew the line here. It was frigid outside, January making its presence known full force. Subzero temperatures, high winds, and not a hint of sunlight. Plus, it had snowed again last night, just a couple of inches, but enough to make the as-the-crow-flies path she normally walked a disaster.
Hiking would be hazardous at worst and miserable at best.
So, it was four-wheel-drive time.
With a twist of the steering wheel, she turned left and drove through the gates that marked the private entrance to the Pierson farm. Rows of pine trees lined the way, and Sally’s headlights caught the reflection of glistening icicles dangling from them, as well as the sparkle of fresh-fallen snow on the five hundred acres of land. The view was spectacular.
The house and its surrounding structures were even more so.
was a misnomer, she thought as she drove past the snow-covered fenced-in paddocks and toward the buildings that defined the Millbrook estate. First came the seven-thousand-square-foot cedar-sided house. Then came the outbuildings — multistalled barn, feed and tack rooms, heated wash stalls, not to mention a massive indoor jumping arena and two smaller indoor arenas. The estate was magnificent — the largest, most elaborately designed warmblood farm in Dutchess County, with a lighted outdoor ring, exercise track and jumping arena, and grounds that included a pond and gazebo worthy of a Currier and Ives holiday card.
Sally’s breath never ceased to catch when she saw the place.
But that wasn’t why she loved coming here.
She loved coming here for the horses. Edward Pierson might have made his millions in the restaurant business, but his passion was right here. For years, he’d sponsored winning show horses. Now, at almost eighty years old, he not only showed but owned and bred some of the most successful and exquisite warmbloods in the country. They were extraordinary, with more ribbons than Sally could count, and personalities as individual and unique as their beauty and skill. She treasured her time with them —
of them, not just the three she was paid to exercise. True, she needed the extra money she earned coming over here each morning, pitching in alongside the Pierson grooms. But the truth was, she would have done it for free.
Her tires crunched in the snow as she pulled her truck up to the barn and came to a stop. She was early. Frederick wouldn’t be arriving for another half hour. That worked out fine. It would give her a chance to check on Sunrise, see how her leg was faring. She’d been favoring it the other day. Hopefully by now it was on the mend.
Climbing out of her truck, Sally tromped her way to the wooden doors.
God, it was cold. Elbowing her way inside, she rubbed her gloved hands together for warmth. She could hear the horses whinnying softly and moving around in their stalls.
First things first. Sunrise.
She went down to the mare’s stall, stroking her neck in greeting. Sunrise was a graceful chestnut with regal white markings and dark, expressive eyes. Warm and affectionate by nature, she responded to Sally’s caress with a flick of her tail and a welcoming nuzzle, although Sally noted that her stance was still a bit stiff. Frowning, she glanced down. Yes. That right front leg was definitely bothering her.
No sooner had Sally squatted down to take a look than voices from the back of the barn reached her ears. Male voices.
“…not just a screwup. A criminal offense. A bomb set to blow up in all our faces.” It was Frederick, Edward’s Pierson’s eldest son and Sally’s morning riding partner. Evidently, he
here. And he sounded furious. “To hell with loyalty. He’s out.”
“That’s my call. Not yours.” The icy reply came from a voice Sally recognized as belonging to the family patriarch himself. After seventy-nine turbulent years and a recent heart attack, Edward Pierson was no less formidable than he’d been in his prime. “Stay out of this, Frederick. I’ll deal with it.”
“How? By paying off the right people to make it go away? That won’t work. Not this time. Dammit, Father, get your head out of the sand. He’s a loose cannon. He’s set to go off. And when he does, it’s
lives that’ll be blasted to bits.”
“Stop being so melodramatic. I know what I’m doing.”
“Great. Then clue me in. About your plans for him, and that research consultant you’re pouring our money into. The whole enchilada. I’ve got a right to know. I’m Pierson & Company’s CEO.”
its chairman,” Edward shot back. “Until the day I die. Which means
. Not the other way around.”
“How could I forget? You remind me daily. Now let
that I’ve busted my ass for thirty years to get us where we are.”
“Yes, but it was
ass that launched this company fifty years ago. You were still flipping baseball cards.”
“Well, now I’m earning record profits. I can’t do that if I’m being undermined. You obviously have an agenda. What is it?”
“You know all you need to.”
Frederick sucked in his breath sharply. “In other words, butt out, and the son of a bitch stays at Pierson.”
“No, not right. This discussion is far from over.” Frederick sounded as if he might snap. “Let’s cut this short. Sally will be here any minute. We’re going riding. After that, I’m leaving for the office. I’ve got a ten thirty meeting. You and I will resume this later.”
That was the last thing Sally wanted to hear.
Having long since realized this conversation was not one she should be privy to, she was about to duck out of Sunrise’s stall and slip away without being noticed.
That wasn’t meant to be.
Frederick stormed by, muttering something about “reading him the riot act today” and nearly mowing Sally down as she exited Sunrise’s stall.
“Sally.” He caught her arms to steady her, his salt-and-pepper brows arching in surprise. His jaw was working and dark splotches of red stained his cheeks — vivid evidence of the argument that had just taken place. But his expression softened a bit as it settled on her, although his gaze was wary. “I didn’t realize you were here. Are you all right?”
“I just arrived. And I’m fine,” she assured him. Actually, she felt strained and self-conscious. Not only had she overheard some ugly words between father and son — words that implied something sketchy was going on at Pierson & Company — she’d been found hovering in the doorway like some kind of snitch.
Oh, for pity’s sake, she had to stop thinking like a cop’s wife. This wasn’t an episode of
Law & Order;
it was an embarrassing blunder. Frederick had been expecting her. They rode together two mornings a week. Unfortunately, she’d shown up early on an inopportune day. Big deal. As for the argument she’d walked in on, whichever Pierson employee was crossing the line and getting Edward’s blessing doing it was none of her business.
Time to dispel the tension and lighten things up.
Taking the bull by the horns, Sally pushed back the hood of her down parka so she could have an unobstructed view of Frederick — and he of her. “I apologize for intruding,” she said, going for candor. “I’m a few minutes early. I took the truck today. It’s too cold to walk — even for me. I’m sorry I interrupted your meeting.”
,” Frederick repeated drily. “That’s one term for it.”
“A tactful one.” Sally saw no point in pretending to misunderstand his meaning. “The truth is, I argue with my parents, too. They mean well, but we don’t always see eye to eye. Still, when push comes to shove, family’s there for you. So keep that in mind. Oh, and jog a couple of miles. It does wonders to dispel anger.”
“Jogging’s not exactly my thing.”
“I guess not.” Sally contemplated the fact that, other than when they went riding, she’d never seen Frederick wear anything but conservative business suits and a cashmere coat. “Racquetball?” she suggested hopefully.
He chuckled, visibly relaxing. “Nope. Work. A few hours at my desk and I’ll forget I ever lost my temper.”
Grimacing, Sally tucked a wisp of honey brown hair behind her ear. “If you say so.”
“I shouldn’t be. Given how successful you are, you must be passionate about what you do.”
“Even if that doesn’t involve the great outdoors.”
A shrug. “Everyone’s different. I’m a nature buff. You’re a business enthusiast. The world needs both.”
“Tactful again. Always the lady.” Frederick was speaking as much to himself as he was to her. He was a tough-looking man, with rugged features, graying hair, and a solid build. Not handsome, but charismatic, in a strong kind of way. A definite catch — rich, powerful, and reasonably attractive, not to mention available. At fifty-eight, he was a widower of two years. And while he’d been photographed numerous times with that striking blond lawyer who worked for Pierson on his arm, he’d never hidden his interest in Sally.
The last few months, he’d started spending more time at the farm, joining Sally for morning rides. She’d begun to enjoy his company. And she’d found herself responding to his overtures. It had been too damned long. At some point, she had to let go of the past.
As if reading her mind, Frederick asked, “Do you have plans for this weekend?”
“Nothing special. Why?”
He pursed his lips, a brooding expression on his face. “One of my key suppliers has a cabin in the Adirondacks at Lake Luzerne. I’m going to head up there. I need some time to clear my head. I’d love to share that time with you.”
Okay, when he’d said weekend, he’d meant the
weekend. She definitely wasn’t ready for that. And Lake Luzerne of all places. God, that conjured up memories.
“Thanks, but I think I’ll pass,” she replied.
“On me, or on the weekend?”
“The weekend.” Sally drew a sharp breath. “Look, Frederick, I really enjoy your company. But if you’re asking me out, I’d rather start with something uncomplicated, like dinner. A weekend away is a bit much.”