Confessions (Men of Whiskey River Series #1)by JoAnn Ross
Whiskey River is a quiet Arizona mountain town--until it's rocked by murder. The death of Laura Swann Fletcher, the wife of senator and presidential hopeful Alan Fletcher, makes headlines across the nation. As sheriff, it's Trace Callihan's job to solve the murder. But this case is different, because Mariah, Laura's sister insists on being "completely" involved.
"JoAnn Ross takes her audience on a thrilling roller coaster ride that leaves them breathless." -Affaire de Coeur
"Touches of humor nicely relieve the suspenseful nature of the intriguing and intricately plotted tale. Bravo!"-The Paperback Forum
"A hot, steamy mystery sure to keep the reader guessing right up to the final climax. A page turner."-A Little Romance
"JoAnn Ross takes her audience on a thrilling roller coaster ride that leaves them breathless."-Affaire de Coeur
Read an Excerpt
By Joann Ross
Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.Copyright © 2003 Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneLaura Swann Fletcher had never realized how long five minutes could be. Especially when you were holding your breath.
She scowled at the vial atop the cultured marble countertop, as if intimidation could speed up whatever mysterious chemical reactions were taking place inside it.
Heat lightning flashed outside the bathroom window, hinting of the storm to come. A distant taste of rain rode on the sultry air. Normally, summer storms in Arizona's high country never bothered Laura.
But tonight was different. Tonight she felt as if the electricity had gotten into her blood, making her edgy.
"Dammit, hurry up," she begged. As if she didn't have enough to deal with. "Please, hurry up."
She took a deep breath that should have calmed, but didn't. "It's only stress," she insisted, as if saying the words could make them true.
Perhaps she should have taken Fredericka Palmer up on that offer of Valium. Only last week her longtime best friend had professed concern about her. If only Freddi knew the whole story.
"Dammit, get hold of yourself." Laura hardly recognized the high, nervous voice. She pressed her palms against her rib cage and, taking several more deep breaths, willed herself to relax.
But her mind continued to churn restlessly, tossing up the myriad problems that had been plaguing her. Problems without end. Dilemmas without solutions.
Nerves humming, Laura decided to see if one all-important call she'd been waiting for had come while she'd been out buying the home pregnancy kit.
The answering machine was downstairs, in the den. The red light was blinking, signaling four calls. She pushed the Rewind button. Then, Play.
Unbearably restless, she prowled the plank floor.
Beep. "Laura. It's your father." His recorded voice was as gruff as always, but she thought perhaps it was only her imagination. His next words confirmed that it wasn't. "I heard a story today that damn well better not be true. If you're there, pick up."
There was a slight pause as he waited for her to do as instructed. As she always had. "Hell." Another frustrated pause. "When I get back from Santa Fe, you and I are going to have a talk. Because you've got a lot of explaining to do, girl."
So, he'd found out. Even as Laura reminded herself that she'd been going to tell him herself, painful memories, buried but never forgotten, snaked through her.
She looked down at her watch.
Two more minutes.
She continued to pace.
Beep. "Laura, it's Alan. Thunderstorms kept us on the ground at National, now we're stuck on the runway at O'Hare. We're going to be late getting into Phoenix, then with the ninety-minute drive to Whiskey River, it'll probably be past midnight before I get home. Don't bother waiting up."
It was not the first time her husband had been delayed while on a trip with Heather Martin, his ambitious and sexy chief of staff. Laura doubted it would be the last. The difference was, this time she honestly didn't care.
Alan Fletcher was a rising political star, the brightest, most promising light in the Republican political firmament. Having won reelection to the U.S. Senate by a landslide, he was being touted as the party's best hope to regain the White House.
Laura had never enjoyed living in Washington. She hated the artifice, the parties that were nothing but power plays, the emphasis on political prestige rather than character. The role of senate wife had been difficult enough. The idea of becoming First Lady gave her hives.
Beep. "Hi, Laura. It's Mariah. Kill the fatted calf, the prodigal daughter is coming home! Do I have a lot to tell you! Guess it'll have to wait until I show up on your doorstep, which should be around midnight, which I know is an ungodly hour, but I'm dying to share my news with my big sister. Love ya."
Damn. Laura dragged a trembling hand through her auburn hair. Trust Mariah to choose this weekend to return to Whiskey River. Nothing like throwing a lit match into an already volatile situation.
Then again, Laura considered, if anyone could appreciate what she was about to do, it would be the woman who, like their glamorous mother, had been banished from the Swann family.
She looked at her watch again.
Only one more minute.
Beep. "Hi." The deep, intimate voice sent a familiar heat surging through Laura. "I just wanted to make sure you're okay. Hell, the truth is, I'm worried about you, babe. I still wish you hadn't insisted on doing this alone.
"Christ, Laurie-" she could picture him dragging his hands through his thick black hair "-I don't remember you being so stubborn twenty years ago. If you had ... Oh, hell. Forget I said that. One day at a time, right?"
"One day at a time," Laura whispered.
It was the same thing she'd been saying for months. The problem was, she knew Clint Garvey would not wait any longer. The last few times they'd managed to be together, they'd wasted valuable time-time they could have spent making love- arguing.
Finally, last weekend, Clint had issued an ultimatum. She knew, with every fiber of her being, that if she didn't keep her promise to leave her husband, she would lose the only man she'd ever loved.
She sighed as she looked down at her watch again.
The indicator's damning red Plus sign confirmed what she'd suspected all along. It hadn't been stress that had caused her to feel so tired lately. And it hadn't been flu that had brought about the occasional bouts of morning queasiness.
She was pregnant.
With her lover's child.
Timing, Laura considered weakly, was indeed everything.
With her back against the wall, both literally and figuratively, she slid down to the tile floor, wrapped her arms around her bent legs and rested her forehead on her knees.
What on earth was she going to do? A fleeting dread shot through Laura. Her first thought was that Clint would think she'd been lying when she'd assured him that she could not get pregnant. But how could she have known otherwise? After having spent years trying to conceive?
When pollsters had informed her husband that a pregnant wife was worth from eight to fifteen points in the opinion polls, Alan had begun dragging her to infertility clinics all over the country. None of the increasingly esoteric, uncomfortable and horribly embarrassing treatments had worked.
Finally, last year, after her thirty-sixth birthday, Laura had given up the quest for a child. Alan, needless to say, had not been pleased. It was, after all, a great deal easier to campaign on a family values platform with a smiling wife and darling children by your side.
Alan. Laura groaned. Her husband was going to be absolutely furious. What if he attempted to pay her back for her infidelity by refusing to grant her a divorce? Worse yet, what if he decided to claim this child for his own?
"I won't let that happen!"
Laura reminded herself that her husband's most consistent personality trait was that everything Alan Fletcher said, everything he did, including marrying her, was geared solely toward enhancing his career. If he attempted such a ploy, she'd hold her own press conference and tell the entire world the truth.
Ronald Reagan had proven that a divorced man could get elected president. But would voters choose a candidate involved in a messy paternity battle? Laura didn't think so.
Excerpted from Confessions by Joann Ross Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Meet the Author
New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author JoAnn Ross has been published in twenty-seven countries. A member of Romance Writers of America's Honor Roll of bestselling authors, JoAnn lives with her husband and three rescued dogs — who pretty much rule the house — in the Pacific Northwest. Visit her on the web at www.joannross.com.
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The murder of Laura Swann Fletcher, wife of senator and presidential hopeful Alan Fletcher, rocks the town of Whiskey River, Arizona. Trace Callaghan spent 16 years on the Dallas police force, before accepting the job of sheriff in Whiskey River, where things like this haven¿t happened in years. He will be tested over and over again in solving this murder, and to add fuel to the fire, Laura¿s sister Mariah returns to town, determined to help find the killer. Politics aspirations and family skeletons have a big part in this story. Mariah, a well known, award winning TV mystery writer, thinks she possesses the skills to assist Trace with his investigation, and has pegged her brother-in-law Alan as the killer. Add to the plot that Laura was pregnant, and Alan was not the father, and another interesting turn of events ¿ and suspects emerge. Trace, being the upstanding, intelligent guy he is, tries to deny his growing feelings for Mariah, knowing his vulnerability to her will only compromise his investigation. After attempts are made on Mariah¿s life, this plan goes by the wayside as the sparks fly between these two intriguing characters. No one is whom they seem in Whiskey River, leaving a lot of secrets to uncover in this steamy and intricately plotted suspense. JoAnn Ross delivers again, leaving readers guessing right up to the end.
Whiskey River is a quiet Arizona mountain town—until it’s rocked by murder. The death of Laura Swann Fletcher, the beautiful wife of charismatic senator Alan Fletcher, makes headlines across the nation. Sheriff Trace Callaghan wants to solve the murder of Laura Fletcher but her sister Mariah has returned to Whiskey River after a long absence. She insists in being involved in every step of the investigation. She also has a strange effect on the sheriff. He has these feelings he just can’t deny. The story is full of deep dark secrets and illicit desires. Everyone is a suspect and nothing is what it seems….. If you like your mystery wrapped with a steamy romance this is a book for you! I have wanted to read a JoAnn Ross novel for a long time so when Book World offered me this book I jumped at it. I did not know it was a reprint or the first book in a series but I am happy because I definitely want to read more. These are wonderfully written characters with depth and heart. The plot is well developed. There are twists and turns, chills and spills, and plenty of action. The reader can get carried away in the romance in books like this but it so naturally interwoven into this story. It is a little formulaic in places but realizing it was originally written back in 1997 as part of a Harlequin series that is very understandable. Writing more than 90 novels Ross definitely knows what she is doing. I have several of her novels screaming from my To-Be-Read stack. I can’t wait to get reading those.