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I’m going to miss this series with all my heart!!!! Check out the excerpt and the Rafflecopter for a $25 gift card

 

AMercifulFateGraphic

About the Book

Title: A Merciful Promise

Author: Kendra Elliot

Release Date: June 18, 2019

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Summary

The job: infiltrate a militia amassing illegal firearms in an isolated forest community. FBI agent Mercy Kilpatrick is the ideal candidate. She knows Oregon. She’s near the compound. And having been raised among survivalists, Mercy understands the mind-set of fanatics. Lay low, follow rules, do nothing to sound an alarm, and relinquish all contact with the outside world. She’s ready to blend in.

As Mercy disappears into the winter hills, something just as foreboding emerges. Mercy’s fiancé, Eagle’s Nest police chief Truman Daly, is faced with a puzzling series of murders—three men dumped in random locations after execution-style shootings.

Now, for Mercy, trapped in a culture where suspicion is second nature, and betrayal is punishable to the extreme, there is no way out. No way to call for help. And as plans for a catastrophic terrorist event escalate, there may be no way to stop them. Even if Mercy dies trying.

Author Biography

Kendra Elliot

Kendra Elliot has landed on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list multiple times and is the award-winning author of the Bone Secrets and Callahan & McLane series as well as the Mercy Kilpatrick novels. Kendra is a three-time winner of the Daphne du Maurier Award, an International Thriller Writers finalist, and an RT Award finalist. She has always been a voracious reader, cutting her teeth on classic female heroines such as Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and Laura Ingalls. She was born and raised, and still lives, in the rainy Pacific Northwest with her family, but she looks forward to the day she can live in flip-flops. Visit her at www.kendraelliot.com.

Social Media Links

Website: https://www.kendraelliot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKendraElliot

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KendraElliot

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6150778.Kendra_Elliot

EXCERPT:

“What does Jeff want?” FBI special agent Eddie Peterson asked Mercy as they simultaneously tried to pass through the conference room doorway. Eddie stepped back, a laptop under one arm and two books under the other as he precariously gripped a cup of coffee by its lid.

Mercy darted through before he lost control of the coffee. “I don’t know, but he told me to clear my afternoon.”

Eddie frowned as he set the cup on the conference table. “He didn’t tell me that. I’ve got three meetings.”

Mercy shrugged. It was part of her job to change direction on a dime, and Jeff’s vague message had perked up what had promised to be a dull day of paperwork. Mercy had been a special agent with the FBI’s Bend, Oregon, field office for nearly a year after spending five years at the big Portland office. Including her and Eddie, Bend had five agents, in contrast to the hundred agents in Portland.

But Bend was close to her heart. She’d been raised thirty minutes away in the tiny town of Eagle’s Nest, and until she arrived in Bend on a case last September, she hadn’t visited in fifteen years. After that case she left behind Portland’s hustle and bustle for the stunning vistas of the Cascade mountain range to Bend’s west and the wide-open plains to its east.

Her boss, Jeff Garrison, entered the room with two official-looking strangers close behind him. Instinct told Mercy they weren’t FBI—but something about them felt very governmental, and she noticed instantly they were discreetly armed. The woman was tall, dark, and elegant—she could have been a model twenty years earlier, and her gaze zoomed in on Mercy, studying her from head to toe. After the moment of intense scrutiny, she gave Mercy a warm smile. Whatever evaluation she had performed, Mercy had passed.

The male looked as if he could be Eddie’s brother. Young, hair too long, a bit of scruff. He wore jeans and a light jacket.

Jeff made introductions. Carleen Aguirre was the resident agent in charge from the Portland ATF office, and the man was ATF special agent Neal Gorman. As they took their seats, Neal frowned at Mercy, studying her in the same fashion that Carleen had. Mercy returned his stare as Jeff shut the door.

“Nothing said in here leaves this office,” Jeff announced, looking directly at Eddie and Mercy.

Mercy hid a small spark of irritation; she and Eddie weren’t gossips. She lifted a brow and gave Jeff her best side-eye, wondering if she should be offended or immensely curious. She decided on immensely curious and gave the ATF agents the same deep scrutiny she’d received.

Carleen grinned and leaned forward, resting her arms on the table, her dark gaze holding Mercy’s. “One of our agents is undercover in a militia-slash-conspiracy-theorists-slash-illegal-arms-buying group outside of Ukiah.”

Mercy blinked. “That’s a mouthful.”

“Where’s Ukiah?” asked Eddie.

“About thirty miles south of Pendleton. It’s a tiny town. About two hundred people,” answered Neal.

Mercy followed a road map in her head. “That’s a good four hours northeast from here.”

Neal nodded. “Just west of the Umatilla National Forest. If you’re looking for a good place to escape society, this is it. No one will bug you here.”

“But clearly something about this extensively labeled group bugged you enough to embed an agent,” Eddie stated.

“They call their compound America’s Preserve. The group has approximately forty people living in an abandoned campground,” Carleen told him. “The camp is the type of place churches rent for retreats. It has several cabins with bunk beds and a large hall with a kitchen for meetings, but it hadn’t been used in twenty years until this group took up residence about a year ago. The property is owned by a Ukiah resident who gave them permission to move in.” Carleen grimaced. “The ATF doesn’t want to reveal our interest, so no one has talked to the owner, but the general word in Ukiah is that the group is repairing the buildings in exchange for living there.”

“And you embedded an agent because of the illegal-arms-buying aspect,” said Mercy.

Both agents nodded. And didn’t expand.

Mercy waited, but neither Carleen nor Neal jumped in to fill the silence.

But Eddie did. “What do you need from us?”

Carleen took a deep breath. “We need Mercy. Tomorrow a second agent was to join our undercover agent and pose as his girlfriend, but she came down with shingles.” She turned pleading eyes on Mercy.

Sweat started under her arms, and her pulse pounded in her ears.

They want me undercover in an illegal-arms-buying militia?

Last winter she’d gotten uncomfortably close to a budding militia outside of town and nearly paid for it with her life. It wasn’t something she cared to do again.

Jeff met her gaze. He knew how dangerous her last experience had been. His eyes were sympathetic, but he sat silent, allowing the agents to ask.

“Get someone else,” Mercy forced out. “It doesn’t have to be me.”

***

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HideAndSeekGraphic

Title: Hide and Seek

Author: Mary Burton

Release Date: April 23, 2019

Publisher: Montlake Romance

SUMMARY:

Special Agent Macy Crow is a survivor. After a vicious hit-and-run nearly kills her, she gets right back to work, and now she’s gunning for a spot on the FBI’s elite profiling team. As an audition, she offers to investigate the recently discovered bones of Tobi Turner, a high school girl who disappeared fifteen years ago.

While investigating with local sheriff Mike Nevada, a former colleague and onetime lover, Macy discovers a link between Tobi’s case and several others that occurred around the same time as her disappearance. As Macy interviews victims and examines old cases, she uncovers a sinister picture of a stalker who graduated to sexual assault—and then murder.

Macy and Nevada race to put this monster behind bars before he can come out of hiding. But the murderer’s had years to hone his skills, and soon Macy herself becomes a target. She’s no stranger to pain and terror, but will Macy’s first profiling case be her last?

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY:

MaryBurton

New York Times and USA Today bestselling novelist Mary Burton is the highly praised author of twenty-six romance and suspense novels and five novellas. She lives in Virginia with her husband and three miniature dachshunds.

Social Media Links:

Website: https://www.maryburton.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/maryburtonfanpage

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaryBurtonBooks

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15020.Mary_Burton

 

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PROFILING FBI PROFILER MACY CROW:

Special Agent Macy Crow is 33-years-old and is an accomplished FBI Agent.  She’s worked a series of high profile cases across the United States and isn’t afraid to take chances. When her father was murdered, she headed to Texas to investigate the crime. Following clues left behind by her father, she was closing in on the killer when she became the victim of a hit and run accident.

Most would have died from the injuries Macy sustained or would have been permanently disabled. However, Macy channeled her extreme ability to focus into her recovery. Though her fit muscles have softened during her recovery, she is regaining strength each day and is now laser-focused on returning to the  FBI as a field agent. Before her accident, she had shoulder length blond hair but the brain surgeons who saved her life cut off all her hair. She now proudly sports a pixie cut.

When Macy returned to Texas, she learned a startling fact about herself. She has an identical twin—medical examiner Dr. Faith McIntyre. Though adopted by different families, the sisters already have a strong connection.  

HideAndSeek

Macy’s adoptive parents split when she was two and she moved from Texas to Alexandria, Virginia located outside of Washington, D.C. Over the years she remained close with her father and spent many summers with him helping repair old cars on his auto salvage lot. In Alexandria, she and her mother lived in a large apartment complex. When she was young, a neighborhood girl was murdered. That tragedy had a very profound affect on Macy, who discovered she wasn’t afraid of the police and FBI agents swarming the apartment complex. Instead, she was fascinated by their work and not only watched law enforcement in action but also walked the actual crime scene herself in search of clues.

Macy has never been married and has no children. For a long time, she considered herself married to her job and it wasn’t until she met FBI Special Agent Mike Nevada that she reconsidered her single status. However, her accident cut short their romance. Nevada is now the sheriff in a small Virginia town in the Shenandoah Valley. He understands Macy’s need to reclaim the FBI job she has always loved so much. In the last year, he has never forgotten her and is committed to helping regain her old life. When the two are paired on a cold case murder investigation in Nevada’s district, they become an unstoppable team.

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EXCERPT:

Vivid blue sky, white clouds, and golden fall leaves blanketed the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains and created a picture-perfect day in the valley. In Macy’s book, the beauty was wasted. If she had God’s ear, today would have been cold, overcast, and damp. Save the pretty days until she caught this killer.

As she drove south down I-81, Macy mentally replayed her ten minutes of regional research. In the last couple of decades, the Shenandoah Valley’s population had ballooned thanks to a growing university, its proximity to Washington, DC, and a thriving tourism trade peddling vineyards, Civil War battlefields, and railroad museums. Filling in the economic gaps were warehouse distribution centers, chain hotels, and strip malls.

The voice of Macy’s GPS cut through AC/DC’s Back in Black blasting from her playlist and instructed her to take the upcoming exit toward Deep Run. As she rolled onto Route 250, a sign for her go-to fast-food eatery gave her an excuse to stretch her legs before driving the remaining ten miles to the crime scene.

Parking, she gingerly rose up out of the car. Her leg hurt. Stretches weren’t optional any more. She grabbed her ankle and pulled until the bunched muscles in her thigh released. After a quick walk around the lot, she made a beeline for the restaurant bathroom.

She glanced into the mirror as she washed her hands. Even after five months, she still didn’t recognize the woman with the short hair and thin face.

Nevada was in for a rude awakening.

She wiped her face with a paper towel. “Macy Crow, you’re above ground and headed in the right direction. That’s what counts.”

At the counter, she ordered a supersize bucket of fries and a large soda. It wasn’t that she loved the food—okay, maybe she did love the fries—but the chain restaurant’s predictability and sameness was comforting after so many life changes.

A few fries later, she was in her car and backing out of her space when her phone rang. Nevada’s number appeared. She cleared her throat and sat a little taller.

“Agent Macy Crow,” she said.

“Ramsey tells me you’re on your way. Where are you?”

He was direct, rarely charming, and she always knew where she stood with him. “Fifteen minutes from the barn.”

“I’m here now.”

The transition back into a working relationship appeared effortless. Whatever they had was over and done. No hard feelings.

“See you soon,” she said.

En route on the interstate, she ate her fries and drained her soda. There were no guarantees on when the next meal would be.

The last few miles took her down smaller roads until she spotted the driveway marked by stacked stones. Gravel crunched under her tires as she passed a freshly cleared field. Over the rise of a hill, she saw the old barn encircled by yellow crime scene tape.

When she had been researching the area, slogans such as “Best Quality of Life” and “Raise Your Family in Deep Run” popped up on her computer screen. As she had read about the area, she had kept glancing toward her open case file filled with images of Tobi Turner’s scattered bones. Recent pictures had captured the barn surrounded by dozens of state and local law enforcement vehicles crammed side by side in the grassy field.

Now as Macy parked, she noted that all the vehicles were gone expect for a lone black SUV. She grabbed her Glock from the glove box, holstered it, and stepped out of her car. Her worn hiking boots sloshed in the damp muddy soil. She tugged on an FBI windbreaker and draped her FBI credentials around her neck. As a stiff breeze blew a lingering chill and autumn scents, she checked her pockets for latex gloves, sunglasses, a small pocketknife, and pendant light.

Edginess and excitement fused as she strode toward the stretch of yellow tape and searched for Nevada. She ducked under the tape and stepped inside the barn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No matter which series of Susan Stoker you read, everyone of her stories is as intense as the previous one and as captivating as the next one! There’s something very addictive and seductive about Susan Stoker’s various series of courageous and brave soldiers, their fight for justice and the fierce protectiveness of their loved ones.  

DefendingMorgan-MountainMercenaries#3-SusanStoker

“Defending Morgan”, book three in the Mountain Mercenaries Series, is another great write, bringing marine Arrow Kane to the rescue of kidnapped victim Morgan Byrd. An operation that was supposed to be the extraction of a kidnapped child, takes Arrow and his team members into the mysterious kidnapping of Morgan, who is protecting the very child that the Mountain Mercenaries are tasked to rescue. A kidnapping that draws Arrow and Morgan together as they fight against an unknown enemy bent on killing Morgan.

Susan Stoker is one fine writer that I was glad to have come upon and enjoyed reading her stories. From her Badge Of Honor Series, Delta Force Heroes Series to Seal Of Protection Series and now to Ace Security series, I’ve literally enjoyed every single one of her books. Protecting Caroline, Protecting Fiona and Protecting Alabama are my top favorites of her books that I’ve visited innumerable times…chicken soup for the soul!!!

Received an ARC from Montlake Romance via NetGalley for an honest review.

If you are an avid reader following Kendra Elliot, you don’t want to miss her latest release; the relationship between Truman and Mercy fascinates me and Kendra’ prowess at developing their relationship through the series is a piece of mastery!

amercifulfate

About the Book

Title: A Merciful Fate

Author: Kendra Elliot

Release Date: January 15, 2019

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Summary

Raised by preppers, survivalist and FBI agent Mercy Kilpatrick has a deep-rooted need for a safe place. Her getaway in the Cascade Foothills is her secret. But when skeletal remains are unearthed—those of a murdered man linked to a notorious heist—Mercy realizes she isn’t the only one with something to hide.

Thirty years ago, an armored-car robbery turned deadly. The mastermind was captured. Four conspirators vanished with a fortune. One of them, it appears, never made it out of the woods alive. For Mercy and her fiancé, Police Chief Truman Daly, their investigation opens old wounds in Eagle’s Nest that cut deeper than they imagined. Especially when a reckless tabloid reporter draws fresh blood. It’s clear to Mercy that somebody in this close-knit community is not who they seem to be.

Some are still shattered by the heist. Some still have reason to be afraid. But which one will kill again and again to hide three decades of secrets? To land this case, it’s up to Mercy to unmask a familiar stranger before someone else dies.

Author Biography

Kendra Elliot

Kendra Elliot has landed on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list multiple times and is the award-winning author of the Bone Secrets and Callahan & McLane series, as well as the Mercy Kilpatrick novels: A Merciful Death, A Merciful Truth, and A Merciful Secret. Kendra is a three-time winner of the Daphne du Maurier Award, an International Thriller Writers finalist, and an RT Award finalist. She has always been a voracious reader, cutting her teeth on classic female heroines such as Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and Laura Ingalls. She was born, raised, and still lives in the rainy Pacific Northwest with her husband and three daughters, but she looks forward to the day she can live in flip-flops. Visit her at www.kendraelliot.com.

Social Media Links

Website: https://www.kendraelliot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKendraElliot

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KendraElliot

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6150778.Kendra_Elliot

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Excerpt

“Sit.”

Mercy sat on a stool that was too high for the makeshift table. She didn’t care. They could sit on the ground and she’d be happy with Truman. Currently the home had plywood subfloors and open framing, but part of Mercy loved the empty, bare look; it promised that something fabulous was coming.

Fabulous and practical.

Truman leaned over and poured red wine in the plastic cup by her paper plate. She sighed and buried her nose in her cup. The fragrance was deep and bold, with hints of plum and smoke.

“Italy,” she mumbled into the wine.

“What?” asked Truman.

“I want to visit Italy. How does a honeymoon in Italy sound?”

A grin filled his face, and the sensation of butterflies fluttered up her spine.

Or maybe it’s the wine.

She took a sip of her wine as she studied his face. So familiar and dear to her.

A smile to stop traffic. Eyes that crinkled in happiness. Several scars that testified to his love of law enforcement. Her attraction to him was more than skin deep. She was in love with the person he was. He was a natural leader and easily commanded respect. His people turned to him, followed him, admired him. His natural sense of honor was a magnet for her.

No. It’s not the wine.

He gets me.

He understood how her mind worked, and they fit together like a couple of complicated puzzle pieces. She’d been painfully aware of her missing puzzle piece when he’d been taken away, chained by men planning to kill him, and then rescued thanks to Ollie. The two weeks when no one knew his fate had been the worst of her life. When he’d been returned to her, she’d known she couldn’t waste any more time.

He’d been of the same mind-set and had proposed.

“I’ll try Italy.” He dished spaghetti carbonara onto their plates.

“And what’s on your agenda for tomorrow?” he asked over the rim of his plastic cup. She perked up. “The bank confirmed the money bags are from the Gamble-Helmet Heist. And I have the go-ahead to visit Shane Gamble at the Two Rivers prison tomorrow.”

“What are your thoughts on the remains?” Truman asked. “Did the medical examiner get to them yet?”

“Yes. They spent the afternoon removing the remains, and Dr. Lockhart was going to start an examination tonight. The woman never takes time off.”

“Same could be said for you.”

“Only when I’m deep in a case.”

“I guess this means your weekends are booked for a while?”

Mercy sighed. “I know. The two of us are supposed to be working on the interior of this place … We’ll get it done at some point. It’ll have to wait awhile.”

A grin filled his face.

“What?” she asked.

“You’re not the same person I met last fall. Back then, if the cabin had been in the half-completed state it is now, you’d be climbing the walls with anxiety because your safety net wasn’t perfect.”

“You’re right,” she agreed. “I had a similar thought earlier, but nearly all my supplies are still intact, so it’d be rough living but doable. I can temporarily live with that for now. Especially with this case to distract me.”

His lips twisted.

“Jealous?” she asked with a grin. “It’s an amazing case, isn’t it?”

“It is. Considering there have been no leads for decades, and the robbery is practically modern folklore. It’s like a buried treasure hunt, and Ollie found the first clue.”

“Is Ollie okay after his morning?” she asked with a small wince. She’d nearly forgotten the teen had made the grisly discovery.

“He’s okay. I spent some time with him and he was very quiet, but I could tell he was processing it. He’s dealt with death before.”

“He’s been through a lot,” sympathized Mercy.

They silently ate for a few moments until he glanced up and caught her staring at him. Longing shone in his eyes, an appetite and craving that had nothing to do with food, and she struggled to find her breath.

How does he do that to me?

“You know,” he said, his voice low and tempting, “this place hasn’t been christened yet.”

Mercy blinked. “People do that to homes?”

Patience filled his features. “That’s not what I meant.” His brown gaze held hers.

“Ohhh,” she breathed as heat flashed through her.

“Dessert.” His smile was sinful, and energy pulsed between them.

She melted. “Yes. Dessert.”

******************

 

ChasingShadowsGraphic

Title: Chasing Shadows

Author: Catherine Bybee

Release Date: November 13, 2018

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Summary:

Avery Grant doesn’t date. Her first marriage was a mutually beneficial contract that gave her the financial freedom she needed to step away from her controlling parents. Wealthy and single, the last thing she’s looking for is love sneaking in to mess up her life plans. And after a brutal attack, she’s determined to never be vulnerable again, even if the new man in her life helps her feel safe.

Mesmerized from the moment he sets his eyes on Avery, Liam is driven to learn everything about this tough, sexy, challenging woman. Breaking down her defenses won’t be easy, but Liam refuses to be pushed away. All he needs is a tiny crack in Avery’s armor to wiggle his way into her heart.

But when a terrifying lie about her attacker’s fate comes to light, Avery’s past returns to haunt her. Now she’s willing to put herself in danger to get the answers she needs. That means jeopardizing the best thing that’s ever happened to her: Liam.

About the Author:

Copyright Julianne Gentry Photography

New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bybee has written twenty-eight books that have collectively sold more than five million copies and have been translated into more than eighteen languages. Raised in Washington State, Bybee moved to Southern California in the hope of becoming a movie star. After growing bored with waiting tables, she returned to school and became a registered nurse, spending most of her career in urban emergency rooms. She now writes full-time and has penned the Not Quite Series, the Weekday Brides Series, the Most Likely To Series, and the First Wives Series.

Social Media Links:

Website: http://www.catherinebybee.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCatherineBybee

Twitter: https://twitter.com/catherinebybee

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2905789.Catherine_Bybee

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EXCERPT:

Avery’s head shot up at the sound of a female voice calling her name.

“Lori?”

Oh, damn…

When Lori was at their table, Avery detached from Liam’s side and stood for a hug. “What are you doing here? Where’s Reed?”

Lori eyed Liam while she answered the questions. “Reed’s on his way down. We’re going out to dinner. Wanted a drink first.”

What were the chances of Lori excusing herself before Avery was forced to make an introduction?

Lori reached out a hand toward Liam. “I’m Lori.”

Liam stood; a broad smile matched his broad chest. “Liam Holt.” Once he released Lori’s hand, he pulled out a bar stool. “Sit, we just ordered drinks.”

Avery wanted to elbow his ribs.

Instead, she smiled.

Liam signaled for Nikki.

“Liam, huh? Avery hasn’t mentioned you.”

He pulled Avery’s chair closer to his and waited for her to sit. “We haven’t known each other long.”

Lori sent a questioning look to Avery. Instead of adding to Liam’s explanation.

“I’ve known Lori for a few years. We live in the same building.”

“What do you do, Liam?”

Small talk … is that what this was going to be?

Lori signaled Reed when he walked in the door. “This is my husband.”

Avery laughed. “You love saying that, don’t you?”

Lori nodded.

“They’re newlyweds,” Avery explained.

Once again Liam stood when Reed approached the table.

“Look who I found,” Lori said.

Reed kissed Avery’s cheek. “I haven’t seen you here in a while.”

“That’s because you two never come up for air,” Avery teased.

“This is Liam … Avery’s friend.” Yeah, Lori wanted more details.

The men shook hands.

“Have I ever met one of your friends?” he asked.

Avery glared. “Smooth, Reed … really smooth.”

Lori nudged her husband’s arm. “Stop teasing.” She turned her focus on Liam. “Avery keeps her private life private.”

Avery tried not to flinch when Liam placed a hand over hers. “I’ve figured that out recently.”

“How did you two meet?” Reed asked.

Avery said “the gym” at the same time Liam said “a bar.”

Lori’s lawyer radar spiked. Avery saw it in her eyes. “Those two things are worlds apart.”

She caught Liam’s hand and squeezed.

“The first time I saw you was at Pug’s Bar. I approached you at the gym.”

“I knew it. That was you at Pug’s. How did you figure out where I worked out?” She’d been asking herself that question for over a week.

“That wasn’t hard. Leslie had a gym bag.”

“Who’s Leslie?” Lori asked.

Avery didn’t look away from Liam. “A friend. So your job at the gym wasn’t on accident?”

“I might have approached Brenda about a side job so I could meet you.”

Avery’s jaw dropped.

“Who’s Brenda?” Reed asked.

“The owner of the gym,” Avery and Liam said at the same time. “How did you know I was there on Tuesday and Friday nights?” She wasn’t sure if his actions were exciting or scary.

“Appointment book. Brenda’s office is always open.”

“Wait, wait, wait.” Lori placed a hand between the two of theirs. “You see Avery in a bar. You search out a location of her gym, follow her to it, get a job there, and now you’re both here having drinks?”

Liam offered a brief, unapologetic nod.

Lori grabbed Avery’s hand. “How well do you know this guy?”

Avery liked the gleam in Liam’s eyes. “He’s safe.”

“What he just described is a little too close to stalking for my taste.”

Reed placed a hand on Lori’s shoulder. “Simmer down, Counselor. If Liam had an ulterior motive, he wouldn’t have told us all that.”

“I wanted to meet you,” Liam said. “

Yeah, well, you’ve met her.” Lori wasn’t happy.

Nikki showed up with Avery’s and Liam’s drinks.

“My usual, Nikki,” Lori told her.

“Hon, our reservations are in thirty minutes. Maybe we should go.”

Lori looked at Reed like he was crazy. “We aren’t leaving him with her. He could be a sociopath.”

Liam smiled, his eyes crinkling with amusement. “I’m not.”

“That’s what they all say.”

Avery put a free hand in the air. “Chill, Lori.”

Avery realized that her other hand had somehow ended up back in Liam’s. His thumb stroked the underside of her wrist in a strangely calming way.

“Do you want a drink, Reed?” Nikki was still standing there, watching the four of them.

“No, thank you. We’re leaving.”

Lori pushed back her chair. “We’re going to talk about this later,” she warned Avery. “And you … just so you know, I’m an attorney, and my big, burly husband here is in private security. He has even bigger friends.”

Liam reached into his back pocket and removed his wallet. From it, he pulled out what looked like a business card. “I have nothing to hide.”

Lori glanced at it briefly before Reed snatched it from her fingertips. “C’mon. Let’s leave them to their date.”

Liam stood again and shook Reed’s hand before he ushered Lori out of the bar.

“That was intense.”

“My friends are protective.”

“Understatement.”

“You really went through all that just to meet me?”

Liam picked up his cocktail for the first time. “Worked, didn’t it?”

Avery let loose his hand and lifted her glass to his. “Yes, it did.”

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I've lived, I've loved, I've lost, I've missed, I've trusted, I've hurt, I've made mistakes. But most of all, I've learned.

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I've lived, I've loved, I've lost, I've missed, I've trusted, I've hurt, I've made mistakes. But most of all, I've learned.

Romancing Life

I've lived, I've loved, I've lost, I've missed, I've trusted, I've hurt, I've made mistakes. But most of all, I've learned.

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