Published: June 11th, 2015
Real life crime solving can certainly put a damper on a romance.
When the biggest gossip in Newburg, Indiana ends up dead—with Sam Arnold’s dad the prime suspect—stuff gets real. It’s been a month and a half since she helped bring down a bad guy. It’s time to try her hand at a new case, especially since her boyfriend is out of town.
Special Agent Mitchell has been saddled with a sexy, driven partner. Cutting corners or covering shortcuts with charm doesn’t work on her. He misses brainstorming with Sam, and now that her dad’s reputation is on the line, the pressure’s on. Evading his watchdog--and snooze-fest new assignment--is top priority.
Time’s running out for Sam and Mitchell to solve the crime. His new partner’s special interest puts their romance in jeopardy and tries the relationship's trust, but an unlikely killer puts life into perspective.
Samantha Arnold, prep cook and struggling romance novelist, believes adventure is right around the corner, but nothing exciting happens in the small town of Newburg, Indiana. When a routine trip to pick up chicken results in meeting Mitchell, she can’t help but hope things are about to turn.
Special Agent Patton Mitchell despises the farming community. He’s watching his mark as well as the meek and mild Samantha. Her questionable Internet search history has triggered a visit from the NSA, and he’s not above a little flirting to get his answers.
Small town life explodes with intrigue, guns and betrayal to boot. What she thinks of as a madcap caper is a fight for life or death in Mitchell’s book. Between dodging bullets, chasing a would-be terrorist and dealing with drop-in relatives, there might just be a shot at romance—if the bad guys don’t get them first.
He fought against the urge to respond. The trek to his assigned area -- mere ten or fifteen feet away from his partner -- took an inordinately long time. Of course, he could have been dragging his feet while steeling himself for passing the mummy. This is stupid, Mitchell. Get over the dumb fear of a dead thing. A dead thing that's been more or less a fossil for four thousand years.
All too soon he arrived at the display case. The length of a coffin, the rectangle-shaped box left nothing to the imagination regarding the body within. Bones, browned from the ages as well as embalming solution, rested on what appeared to be a custom-made mattress of sorts. There was even a pillow for the mummy's head.
He forced a swallow into his tight throat. The creeptastic fear -- or rather unholy respect -- for mummies had started in his childhood after watching too many episodes of Scooby Do. Then, once as a senior in high school, he and some buddies went to a local museum where a traveling exhibit on treasures of Egypt had landed. After entering a replica of a pyramid, his good for nothing pals had hidden themselves behind corners. Each had jumped out at Mitchell as he'd passed through the corridors. The shock, compounded with the dark and snug spaces, had propelled him forward, mute with terror, where he'd eventually careened into a sarcophagus. When he'd turned around to see what had broken his flight, he'd come face to face with a similar mummy. Though it had been under glass inside the coffin-like container, the sheer panic he'd felt at staring into the empty eye sockets and the slightly gaping mouth had imprinted onto his mind. To this day he actively avoided anything remotely Egyptian.
Of course, the tongue lashing he'd received from his father hadn't helped. "A Mitchell never shows fear, boy. Even in the most trying of circumstances, we buck up and hold the line. Never let the bastards see your fear, son. They'll use it against you every time. It makes you weak, ineffectual. Now, drop and give me fifty then go run your mile. Make it back in thirteen minutes this time."
Mitchell gritted his teeth against the memory. Despite disappointing his father time and time again, he didn't know if he could manage to ditch his irrational fear of mummies this go around. But, he pressed onward. As he passed the case, he couldn't help but glance inside. The brittle bones in the mummy's hands and fingers looked as if they'd crumble if someone coughed on them. The mouth, perpetually frozen in a horrible grin, showed off teeth and gaps where some had gone missing. He shook his head and gave it as wide a berth as he could in the crowded basement. One parting look put the shock of reddish-blond hair into his line of sight, and Mitchell's stomach clenched. Yeah, definitely freakish to see a skeleton with most of its hair still intact.
When he reached a line of credenzas along the wall behind the mummy case, he breathed a sigh of relief. This job couldn't be done quicker for his liking. The anxiety building in his system eased as he peered at the vast array of jewelry that ranged from Native American to Egyptian to Italian and finally European. They hung from jewelry trees, lay coiled like brightly colored snakes in piles or rested in small boxes padded with cotton. No rhyme or reason and definitely no cards near some of them. What a mottled mess.
As he reached for a collar made of chunky, rough-hewn turquoise stones, a hand landed heavily on his shoulder -- a boney hand that pressed into his flesh so that he felt each individual finger as it tightened its grip.
Mitchell jumped a foot off the floor. "Get off me! Get away!" Terror surged through his body as his pulse raced. He dropped his clipboard in his haste to scramble away from what his imagination told him was the mummy out to get him. Upon realizing the credenza cornered him and hindered an escape, he turned to face his doom.
Only to spot Daphne standing where he assumed the mummy would be. Humor danced in her icy blue eyes and she laughed openly at his obvious discomfort.
"What the hell, Daphne? That was not cool." He crossed his arms over his chest while anger warmed his blood. Who did that to another person? "What the hell?" It bore repeating.
"'Get off me,'" she mocked in a fair imitation of his voice. Then she doubled up with laughter. When she finally straightened, she wiped away tears from the corner of one eye. "That was the funniest thing I've seen all week. Where's your swagger now, Agent Mitchell?"
Having her out of his sight didn't sit well. "I'll get you settled then head on over to the hotel." Originally, he'd wanted to linger, but having her close and to himself would be like asking a kid not to touch anything in a candy store. He followed her into the bathroom. Yeah, this was better. He needed her only a few feet away even if it was a cross purposes to his intentions. Above everything, Sam had to be his first priority -- outside the job.
She turned to him with a bottle of pills clutched tight in her fist. Her expressive eyes were soft, but her chin trembled. "You could always man the sofa."
"I could." After all, he'd just need to run downstairs and pull the duffle out of his car. Cozy indeed, this opportunity to play house.
"Or..." Sam worried her full bottom lip with her teeth. She set the pill bottle on the counter.
"Or?" His heartbeat thundered in his ears. If she asked, would he deny her?
Her chin wobbled again and nearly did him in. "You could share my bed. I'd rather not be alone tonight." The tendons in her throat worked with a hard swallow. "First the brick and now this car thing. I'm pretty freaked out. I don't want to invite trouble, you know?"
Did he ever. He worked to regulate his breathing. "If that's what you want." So much for noble intentions.
"It is." She pointed to the door. "I'll get ready. I have an extra toothbrush in the cabinet. Meet you in the bedroom in ten?"
"Uh, sure." Mitchell snagged the pain killers then more or less stumbled backward into the short hallway. Well, crap. What to do now? His bag was downstairs, as were the essential items he'd need for birth control. Should he go down now or wait until she came out? Holy cow, what if she came out wearing some satiny scrap of a nightgown? Blood rushed below his belt. I'm in trouble. In his confused state, he whiled away precious minutes thinking on possible scenarios, and all too soon Sam exited the bathroom.
The breath whooshed from his throat. Not because she'd donned a seductive outfit, but because she had on a pink tank top with long, cotton sleep pants, but decorated with pink, white and purple hearts. Somehow, she looked sexier in the simple outfit than if she'd wowed him with a lacy negligee. "You're, uh, beautiful." Yup, big, big trouble.
"And you're too nice for your own good." She caught his free hand as she went by. "Come on."
With his tongue stuck to the roof of mouth, Mitchell accompanied her into her bedroom. Of course, he'd been in there before, but now occupying the space felt different. Her dad wasn't in residence. Plus, things had shifted and subtlety changed between them. A charged undercurrent connected them. That both electrified and terrified him.
Sam tossed a few throw pillows to the floor. Then she peeled back the comforter and sheets. "Kinda hard to snuggle if one of us is still standing over there in street clothes." Two seconds later, she slid into the bed and covered up. "Come on, Mitchell. I really need to feel your arms around me, tell me that everything's okay." She switched off the light as she said it. Her words sounded small and vulnerable in the shadows.
The little voice almost brought him to his knees. "One second." He chucked the bottle of pain killers onto her night table. Never had he stripped down to his undershirt and boxer-briefs with such speed. Gingerly so as not to jar his shoulder overly much, and with slow movements that wouldn't proclaim his eagerness or spook her, he climbed into bed and settled beside her. As soon as he turned onto his left side, pain throbbed, but he ignored it. He faced her, and she rolled onto her side with her back to him then snuggled close. "Sam?"
"Just hold me, Mitchell. I need to feel protected tonight." Her words were tremulous and slightly wobbly, no doubt a delayed reaction from the incident.
"Whatever you want." He slipped his arms around her and pulled her to him. Immediately, her floral scent enveloped him. He buried his nose into her glossy, soft hair and inhaled. Flowers and fruit. Perfect for her and oh so comforting. "I won't let anything happen to you," he whispered.
Amazon ** Barnes&Noble ** iTunes
AllRomance ** Publisher
AllRomance ** Publisher
About the author:
Sandra Sookoo is a bestselling author who firmly believes every person deserves acceptance and a happy ending. Most days you can find her creating scandal and mischief in the Regency-era, serendipity and happenstance in Victorian America or snarky humor in the contemporary world. Reading romance is a lot like eating fine chocolates—you can’t just have one. Good thing books don’t have calories!
When she’s not wearing out computer keyboards, Sandra spends time with her real life Prince Charming in central Indiana where she’s been known to goof off and make moments count because the key to life is laughter. A Disney fan since the age of ten, when her soul gets bogged down and her imagination flags, a trip to Walt Disney World is in order. Nothing fuels her dreams more than the land of eternal happy endings, hope and love stories.
Post a Comment