She’s fighting to protect everything she cares about. He can’t resist a damsel in distress. But he has no idea how high the cost will be if they fail.
Clovis Honeybun is working undercover to catch an assassin targeting his uncle, Senator Brick Honeybun. But his search is waylaid when he spots a pretty woman being mistreated by a guy who looks a lot like his target. Going rogue on a dangerous hunch, Clovis plunges down a trail that might be the right direction but the wrong bad guy. Ultimately, Clovis discovers he could have to choose between saving the woman burrowing her way into his heart, or a man he’s loved and respected since he was old enough to crawl.
5 Stars: “This story is full of twists and turns, and just when you think you have it all figured out, you realize that you’re merely scratching the surface. But, underneath it all, is a budding romance and a man who is stubborn enough to do what needs to be done, to do what’s right for the woman he loves and the child she’s fighting to protect, even if it costs him everything.” Zarelle Shaw, Reviewer
They crouched behind a spiky plant at the edge of the woods, perched on the precipice of a rocky incline that led down to the ditch running alongside the highway. The chipped and sagging façade of the small mechanic’s shop across the highway was still—the windows dark. The Open sign hanging in the largest window was turned off.
A variety of rusted and battered vehicles adorned the broken asphalt lot. Many of them appeared to have been used for parts, missing doors, bumpers and even wheels.
Clovis eyed the building carefully, warning bells jangling in his head.
“The van isn’t there.” Emma started to stand. “Let’s go find a phone.”
Clovis grasped her wrist. “Something doesn’t feel right.”
She frowned, obviously losing patience with his hesitation. “We’ve been watching the place for an hour, Honeybun. There’s been no movement. The blue van isn’t here. It’s clear.” She wrenched her wrist away from him and stood, brushing her hands on the butt of her jeans. “I’m going in.”
Clovis stood too. “That’s the thing. The shop shouldn’t be closed already. It can’t be later than two or three.”
Emma shook her head and unzipped one of the go bags they’d taken from the Crown Vic, pulling the .38 from its depths and checking the chamber. “Maybe the owner had to pick a kid up from school or something.” She threw him a look. “Coming?”
She started down the rocky incline, choosing her way carefully.
Clovis swore softly and stood, looking one last time across the highway. The sun slid out from behind a cloud and skimmed across the darkened windows of the building, making it look for just a beat as if something had moved.
Clovis rummaged through the second bag and extracted the trusty sap. The weighted leather bludgeon came in handy when deadly force wasn’t the option of choice.
He dug deeper but there were no other weapons. Clovis shoved the bag away and started after Emma, his instincts still screaming that they were heading into a trap.
He caught up with her near the bottom of the incline. She’d stuffed the .38 into the waistband of her jeans so she could climb down the slope more easily. He noticed because she was bent over, the creamy brown skin of her lower back showing between her shirt and the low-slung jeans. It wasn’t until he came up on her, though, that he saw why she was doubled over.
Her hand pressed the freshly opened wound on her thigh, her pretty face contorted with pain. Fresh blood saturated the torn denim around her wound.
She turned away from him when he tried to look at her leg, scrubbing her bloody hand over her jeans. “I’m okay. It’s fine.” Her brow glistened under a sheen of sweat and her face had paled.
She wasn’t okay at all. Clovis knew the wound had to be very painful and infection was a constant concern. “It’s not fine.”
Emma’s eyes narrowed in the first sign of anger and Clovis realized he was yelling. He took a deep breath, scrubbing a hand over his face. She needed to get to a hospital but there was no point yelling at her. They just had to find a phone. “Okay. Let’s get into that building and find a phone. The sooner we get hold of my brothers the sooner we can get that wound taken care of.”
She dragged her arm over her forehead, nodding. Emma’s leg buckled when she started walking and she yelped, biting her bottom lip.
Clovis caught her before she hit the ground, wrapping an arm around her waist for support. “Lean on me. We’ll take it slow.” They started across the highway, Clovis’s gaze darting in both directions and forward, to the building looming before them.
As if things weren’t squiggy enough. They were sitting ducks on the open roadway. With trouble potentially bearing down on them from any one of several directions. Clovis moved them along as quickly as he could, to the point where he was nearly carrying her by the time they stepped onto the weed-infested parking lot.
They moved quickly to the door, stepping to the side as Clovis tried the handle. It opened. He looked at Emma and she grabbed the .38, holding it in two hands in front of her, pointed upward. “Stay behind me.”
Clovis frowned, but before he could argue she was through the door. He plunged through after her, his gaze sliding around the empty office as she checked behind the chipped counter and peered through an open doorway at the back.
“Clear,” she whispered.
Clovis jerked his head toward the cloudy glass door separating the office from the garage. She moved toward him as he pushed the door open, clutching the sap in his hand. The smell of oil and gas hit them as they moved through the door.
A weak light filtered through the long windows that bisected the overhead door and died about ten feet from the door.
Emma quickly skimmed sideways, along the wall, so she wasn’t backlit by the natural light of the office. Clovis followed.
They stilled, listening for movement in the dimly lit garage. Several large shapes filled the space, some of them, judging by the open hoods and the pale tarps blanketing them, were obviously in the midst of engine repair.
Emma lowered the .38. “The place is empty. I’m going to go find a phone.”
Clovis nodded, feeling his way along the wall for a light switch. He didn’t know why, but his instincts were still screaming at him that something wasn’t right.
He found the switch and flipped it, hearing the pop and crackle of elderly fluorescent bulbs groaning to life. Clovis turned, his gaze scanning the large, tidy space and stopped, his heart kicking up with surprise.
The blue van was parked before the garage doors, a tarp thrown haphazardly over its roof. The ruse wasn’t meant to hold up under careful scrutiny, but it served well to throw them off momentarily.
He turned toward the office, “Emma!”
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USA Today Bestselling Author Sam Cheever writes romantic paranormal/fantasy and mystery/suspense, creating stories that celebrate the joy of love in all its forms. Known for writing great characters, snappy dialogue, and unique and exhilarating stories, Sam is the award-winning author of 50+ books and has been writing for over a decade under several noms de plume.
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