Edge of Sightby Roxanne St. Claire
The killer she can't escape . . .
The heartbreak she can't forget . . .
The one man who can stop them both.
When Samantha Fairchild witnesses a murder in the wine cellar of the restaurant where she works, the Harvard-bound law student becomes the next target of a professional assassin. Desperate for protection the authorities won't provide,/b>/b>… See more details below
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The killer she can't escape . . .
The heartbreak she can't forget . . .
The one man who can stop them both.
When Samantha Fairchild witnesses a murder in the wine cellar of the restaurant where she works, the Harvard-bound law student becomes the next target of a professional assassin. Desperate for protection the authorities won't provide, Sam seeks help from Vivi Angelino, an investigative reporter who recruits her brother, Zach, to protect Samantha. A Special Forces vet with the scars to prove he's equally fearless and flawed, Zach takes the job, despite the fact that he and Sam once shared a lusty interlude that ended when he left for war and disappeared from her life. Now, as they crack a conspiracy that leads to Boston's darkest corners, Sam and Zach must face their fears, desires, and doubts, before a hired killer gets a second shot...
4 ½ stars St. Claire has become the go-to gal for romantic suspense. Rip-roaring fun, gripping intensity and sizzling passion span the pages of Edge of Sight."RT Book Reviews"
When it comes to dishing up great romantic suspense, Roxanne St. Claire is the author you want."RT Book Reviews"
On the fast track to making her name a household one."Publishers Weekly"
With Roxanne St. Claire, you are guaranteed a powerful, sexy and provocative read."
Read an Excerpt
Edge of Sight
By St. Claire, Roxanne
ForeverCopyright © 2010 St. Claire, Roxanne
All right reserved.
I understand you got into that little law school across the river.”
Samantha Fairchild scooped up the cocktails from the service bar, sending a smile to the man who’d been subtly checking her out from behind rimless glasses. “Our trusty bartender’s been bragging about me again.”
Behind the bar, Wendy waved a martini shaker like a sparkler, her eyes twinkling. “Just a little, Sam. You’re our only Harvard-bound server.”
Sam nodded to the light-haired gentleman, not really wanting to start a conversation when Paupiette’s dining room was wall-to-wall with a Saturday night crowd. Anyway, he wasn’t her type. Too pale, too blond, too… safe.
“Nothing to be ashamed of, a Harvard law degree,” the man said. “I’ve got one myself.”
“Really? What did you do with it?”
The smile widened. “Print money, like you will.”
Spoken like a typical Harvard law grad. “I’m not that interested in the money. I have another plan for the future.” One she doubted a guy dripping in Armani and Rolex would appreciate. Unless he was a defense attorney. She eyed him just as two hands landed on her shoulders from behind.
“I seated Joshua Sterling and company in your section.” Keegan Kennedy’s soft voice had a rumble of warning in it, probably because she was flirting with lawyers in the bar when her tables were full. “I’ll expect a kickback.”
“That sounds fair.” She shrugged out of his grip, balancing the cocktail tray.
“I bet he’s a generous tipper, Sam,” the lawyer said as he placed two twenties on the bar and flicked his wrist for the bartender to keep the change. “You’ll need it for the Con Law texts alone.”
She gave him a wistful smile, not too encouraging, but not a complete shutdown, either. “Thanks…”
“Larry,” he supplied. “Maybe I’ll stop in before you start classes with some first-year pointers.”
“Great, Larry.” She forced a more encouraging smile. He looked like a nice guy. Dull as dry toast, but then he probably wouldn’t kick her in the heart with an… army boot. “You do that.”
She turned to peer into the main dining area, catching a glimpse of a party of six being led by the maître d’s second-in-command.
Joshua Sterling’s signature silver hair, prematurely gray and preternaturally attractive, glistened under the halogen droplights, hung to highlight the haute cuisine but casting a perfect halo over this particular patron.
It wasn’t just his tipping that interested Sam. The last time Boston’s favorite columnist had dined here, they’d gotten into a lively debate about the Innocence Mission, and he ended up writing a whole article in the Globe about the nonprofit. The Boston office where Sam volunteered had received a huge influx of cash because of that story.
“Good work, Keegan.” Sam offered a grateful smile to the maître d’, who had vacillated between pain in the ass and godsend since he’d started a few months ago. “Count on ten percent.”
He laid a wine list on her cocktail tray, threatening the delicate balance of the top-heavy martini glasses. “He tips on wine, so talk him into something from the vault. Make my cut fifteen percent and I promise you we will not run out of the tartare. It’s Sterling’s favorite.”
She grinned. “Deal, you little Irish weasel.”
After delivering the cocktails to another table, she headed toward the newly seated party, nodding to a patron who signaled for a check while she paused to top off the Cakebread chardonnay for the lovers in the corner, all the while assessing just who Joshua Sterling was entertaining tonight.
Next to him was his beautiful wife, a stunning young socialite named Devyn with sharp-edged cheekbones and waves of golden hair down to trainer-toned shoulders. Two other couples completed a glossy party of six, one of the women finishing an animated story as they settled into their seats, delivering a punch line with a finger pointed at Joshua and eliciting a hoot of laughter from the rest. Except for Devyn, who leaned back expressionless while a menu was placed in front of her.
Joshua put a light hand on his wife’s back, waving casually to someone across the dining room. He whispered to her; then he beamed at Sam as she approached the table.
“Hello, Samantha.” Of course he remembered her. That was his gift, his charm. “All ready to tackle Hahvahd?” He drew out the word, giving it an exaggerated Boston accent.
“Classes start in two months,” she said, handing over the wine list, open to the priciest selection. “So, I’m ready, but nervous.”
“From what you told me about that volunteer work of yours, I think you’ve got more legal background and experience than half that first-year class. You’ll kick butt over there.” He added a smile to his laser-blue gaze, one that had been getting more and more television airtime as a talking head for liberal issues on the cable news shows.
No one doubted that Joshua Sterling could hit the big time down in New York.
“I hope you’re right,” she said, stepping aside for the junior maître d’ to snap a black napkin on Devyn Sterling’s dark trousers. “Otherwise I’m going to give it all up and go back into advertising.”
“Don’t doubt yourself,” Joshua warned with a sharp look. “You’ve got too much upstairs to push computers and burgers. You need to save innocent victims of the screwed-up system.”
She gave him a tight smile of gratitude, wishing she were that certain of her talents. Of course, doling out bullshit was another gift of his. “What’s the occasion?” she asked, wanting to get the conversation off her and onto a nice big drink order.
Joshua waved toward the brunette who’d been telling the story. “We’re celebrating Meredith’s birthday.”
“Happy birthday.” Sam nodded to her. “We have two bottles of the ’94 Tattinger left.”
“Nice call for champagne,” he said, “but I think this is a wine crowd. You like Bordeaux, right, Meredith?”
The woman leaned forward on one elbow, a slow smile forming as she looked at him. “Something complex and elegant.”
Sam waited a beat, as the woman’s gaze stayed fixed on her host. Devyn shifted in her seat, and Sam could practically taste the tension crackling in the air.
“Let me get the sommelier,” Sam suggested quickly. “I bet he has the perfect Bordeaux.”
“I know he does.” Joshua handed Sam the wine list back without even looking at it. “Tell Rene we’d like two bottles of the 1982 Chateau Haut-Brion.”
“Excellent selection.” Was it ever. “While I get that, can we offer you sparkling water or bottled?”
They made their choices, which Sam whispered to a busboy before darting down the narrow passage from the dining area to the kitchen, her shoes bouncing on the rubber floor as she left the gentle conversation and music of the dining room for the clatter and sizzle of the kitchen.
“Where’s Rene?” she asked, a smell of buttery garlic and seared meat rolling over her.
“I’m right here.” The door to the cellars flipped open as the beefy sommelier hustled toward her, carrying far too many bottles. Two more servers came in right behind him with similar armloads.
“Rene, I need two bottles of ’82 Haut-Brion, stat.”
“After I help with the upstairs party,” he shot back.
“Then give me the key and a general idea where I can find the ’82s.”
“You’re not getting the ’82s, sister.” The faux French accent he used with customers was absent as he deftly set bottles on the prep deck. “One slip of the hand and you just cost us both a month’s pay.”
“Come on, Rene. I can get two bottles of wine, for crying out loud.”
“You can wait like everyone else, Sam.” He started handing bottles to one of the other servers, who gave her a smug look of victory.
The doors from the dining area swung open, and Sam squinted down the hallway, just in time to get a glimpse of Joshua strolling across the room, reaching out to greet a gorgeous former model and her date sitting at the deuce near the bar. So he wasn’t in a huge rush for his wine. She glanced at the plates on the stainless steel pass, calculating exactly how much time she had to get this wine poured before her four orders for the old Brahmins on ten came up.
Not much. She wanted the Haut-Brion delivered first or she’d lose her whole rhythm.
One more of the waitstaff came up from the cellar, several bottles in hand. “This is the last of it, Rene. I just have to go back down and lock up.”
“I’ll lock it,” Sam said, snatching the keys.
“No.” Rene sliced her with a glare. “I’ll get them, Sam. Five minutes is all.”
“Come on, Rene.”
The door from the dining room flung open and Keegan marched through. “Sterling wants his wine,” he announced, his gaze hard on Rene.
“Then you get it,” Rene said. “Not Sam.”
But Sam was already on her way. “Thanks, Keegan,” she said quietly as she passed. “You know I’ll slather you with payola tonight.” As she opened the door, she called back to Rene, “The Bordeaux are in the back nests, the Haut-Brion on the lower half, right?”
“Sam, if you fuck this up—”
“I will dust the bottles! You can watch the video tomorrow,” she added with a laugh. As if that prehistoric camera was ever used.
“I will!” Rene shouted. “I just put a new tape in.”
She hustled down the poorly lit stairs, brushing by one of the sous-chefs carrying a sack of flour from the dry storage pantry. Farther underground, the temperature dropped, a chill emanating from the stone walls as she reached the heavy door of the wine vault.
A breeze blew the strands of hair that had escaped her ponytail, making her pause and look down the dark hallway. Was the alley exit open again? The busboys were always out there smoking, but they sure as shit better not be taking lung therapy when Paupiette’s was this packed.
Tarragon and rosemary wafted from dry storage, but the tangy scents disappeared the moment she cranked the brass handle of the wine vault, the hinges snapping and squeaking as she entered. In this dim and dusty room, it just smelled of earth and musk.
She flipped on the overhead, but the single bare bulb did little to illuminate the long, narrow vault or the racks that jutted out to form a five-foot-high maze. She navigated her way to the back, her rubber soles soundless on the stone floor. Dust tickled her sinuses and the fifty-eight-degree air finished the job. She didn’t even fight the urge to sneeze, managing to pull out a tissue in time to catch the noisy release.
Behind the back row, she tucked into the corner where the most expensive wines were kept and started blowing and brushing the bottles, almost instantly finding the distinctive gold and white label of Haut-Brion.
Sliding the bottle out, she dusted it clean, and read the year 2000. In racks stocked chronologically, that made her a good eighteen years from where she wanted to be. She coughed softly, more dust catching in her throat. Crouching lower, she eased out another, 1985.
Getting closer. On her haunches, her fingers closed over a bottle just as the door opened, the sound of the brass knob echoing through the vault. She started to stand but a man’s hushed voice stopped her.
Freezing, she worked to place the voice, but couldn’t. It was low, gruff, masculine.
There was something urgent in the tone. Something that stilled her.
She waited for a footstep; if he was another server, he’d walk to a stack to find his bottle of wine. If it was Rene, he’d call her name, knowing she was down there, and anyone else…
No one else should be down here.
Her pulse kicked a little as she waited for the next sound, unease prickling up her spine.
Nothing moved. No one breathed.
Praying her knees wouldn’t creak and give her away, she rose an inch, wanting to get high enough to see over the stack. As she did, the knob cracked again, and this time the squeak of the hinges dragged out as though the door were being opened very slowly. She rose a little higher to peek over the top rack of bottles.
A man stood flattened against the wall, his hand to his chest, inside a jacket, his head turned to face the door. In the shadows, she could hardly make out his profile, taking in his black shirt, the way his dark hair blended into the wall behind him. Not a server. No one she’d ever seen before.
He stood perfectly still as the door opened wider, and Sam tore her gaze from the stranger to the new arrival. The overhead bulb caught a glimmer of silver hair, instantly recognizable. What the hell was Josh—
The move was so fast, Sam barely saw the man’s hand flip from the jacket. She might have gasped at the sight of a freakishly long pistol, but the whoomf of sound covered her breath, the blast muffled like a fist into a pillow.
Joshua’s face contorted, then froze in shock. He folded to the floor, disappearing from her sight.
The instinct for self-preservation pushed Sam down behind the rack, her head suddenly light, her thoughts so electrified that she couldn’t pull a coherent one to the forefront. Only that image of Joshua Sterling getting a bullet in his head.
She closed her eyes but the mental snapshot didn’t disappear. It seared her lids, branded her brain.
Something scraped the floor and her whole being tensed. She squeezed the bottle in her right hand, finding balance on the balls of her feet, ready to pounce on whoever came around the corner.
She could blind him with the bottle. Crash it on his head. Buy time and help.
But no one came around the rack. Instead, she heard the sound of metal on metal, a click, and a low grunt from the front of the vault. What the hell?
Still primed to fight for her life, she stood again, just high enough to see the man up on a crate, deftly removing the video camera.
The security camera that was aimed directly at the back stacks.
She ducked again, but it was too late. She heard him working the screws in the wall, trying to memorize his profile. A bump in a patrician nose. A high forehead. Pockmarks in a grouping low on his cheek.
Dust danced under and up her nose, tickling, tormenting, teasing a sneeze. Oh, please, no.
She held her breath as the camera cracked off the wall, and the man’s feet hit the floor. In one more second, the door squeaked, slammed shut, and he was gone.
Could Joshua still be alive? She had to help him. She waited exactly five strangling heartbeats before sliding around the stacks and running up the middle aisle.
Lifeless blue eyes stared back at her, his face colorless as a stream of deep red blood oozed from a single hole in his temple. The bottle slipped out of her hands, the explosion of glass barely registering as she stared at the dead man.
God, no. God, no. Not again.
She dropped to her hands and knees with a whimper of disbelief, fighting the urge to reach out and touch the man who just minutes ago laughed with friends, explained a joke to his wife, ordered rare, expensive Bordeaux.
This couldn’t be happening. It couldn’t be.
The blood pooled by his cheek, mixing with the wine. The smell roiled her stomach, gagging her as bile rose in her throat and broken glass sliced her knees and palms.
For the second time in her life, she’d seen one man take another’s life. Only this time, her face was caught on tape.
Excerpted from Edge of Sight by St. Claire, Roxanne Copyright © 2010 by St. Claire, Roxanne. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
First published in 2003, Roxanne St. Claire is a RITA-award winning author of twenty-five novels, including her bestselling Bullet Catcher series. Her critically-acclaimed books have been published in numerous languages and recognized with multiple awards including The National Reader's Choice Award, the Daphne du Maurier Award and the HOLT Medallion, all for best romantic suspense. She currently lives on the east coast of Florida with her husband and two children. Excerpts, contact information, and free reads are available via her website, www.roxannestclaire.com.
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