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Excerpt from THE BEACHCOMBERS by Stephanie Queen

SQ_beachcombersDo you love tortured alpha heros? I do!

Dane Blaise from The Beachcombers is my new favorite. Here’s the excerpt where we meet Dane:

Dane Blaise leaned against the wall outside the terminal of the tiny airport in Edgartown on the tiny island of Martha’s Vineyard. It had been his corner of paradise every summer for years and, this summer, a much-needed respite from the world at large. Until today.

He played with the pack of cigarettes he’d purchased for effect. He wore his only button-down shirt—a white linen deal with the long sleeves rolled up so he didn’t have to bother buttoning the cuffs.

The sun blazed. This was a far cry from the drink on the terrace at the Haven Cafe he’d planned with a certain lady he’d met the day before. At the very least, he should be on the beach where he belonged, resting his soul between assignments. But then he supposed he was no longer between assignments. They had him the second he agreed to volunteer as a judge for the so-called American Invitational Surfing Competition.

He watched the low-wing prop plane land and circle around the runway toward the building. But he wasn’t the only one watching.
A tall lean striking man in a pale lemon linen suit—seemed linen was in fashion today—strolled outside and smoked a cigar while he talked on his cell phone.

If Dane hadn’t been trained to notice these things, he wouldn’t have noticed the way the well-dressed man watched the plane not too closely, especially once the door popped open and the passengers began disembarking. An airport employee came through the terminal building door out onto the cement pad where they stood and headed toward the plane, but the man in the tan uniform stopped dead and looked stunned. A quick glance at the lemon-suited man told Dane he’d stopped everything and stared too. Dane turned back to the plane to see why.

A long-legged, shapely woman with billowing sun-bleached hair and wearing a tropical flowered halter sundress and strappy ruby stilettos stepped down from the plane onto the tarmac. If Dane were the kind of man who let out wolf whistles at such visions, Ms. Knockout would qualify. But so far in his life, he’d found it easy to control such impulses in favor of steady yet stealthy stares.

The lemon-suited guy—likely the man Dane was looking for—asked the airport worker in a careless French accent, “Who is she?”

“Dunno. She’s something though.”

He was their man. How many slick French men could there be on the island? The three men watched a state police car pull up around the side of the terminal. A uniformed statie got out and went to meet the leggy blonde—his goddamn partner in this assignment.

“Why would she be meeting the state police captain? Do you think she’s law enforcement?” the French man asked the airport worker.

“I never seen a cop looked like that, but you never know.”

Dane jumped in before their cover went south.
“She’s no cop. She’s money and she needs security,” he said.

“And how would you know?” The lemon-suited man turned to him.

The airport worker interrupted. “She’s one of the surfers in the competition.” He pointed to the surfboard being off-loaded from the plane and continued walking that way with a smile.

Dane waited for the airport worker to get out of earshot. He gave the con a laser-eye look, then said, “She’s mine.”

“Yours?” The man smiled affably and moved closer. “Your what? Niece?”

Ouch. That stung low in his gut. But this man wasn’t much younger than he, if at all. He stared at the man without speaking.

“Who is she?” the lemon-suited man pressed.

Dane lifted himself from against the wall and made to walk back through the terminal but turned to speak over his shoulder. “I don’t know who she is, but I’m going to find out. You stay away from her.” He stared at the man until he was sure his message was received.

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