Journey's Edge

Journey's Edge

4.8 9
by Dora Hiers
     
 

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A Routine Audit? Hardly. Red flags—including some goon who's following her—raise McKinley Frasier's suspicions that numbers don't add up at the insurance firm. When someone tries to snatch McKinley's daughter from school, she turns to police officer and ex-fiance, Renner Crossman—the cop who walked out on her a month before their

Overview


A Routine Audit? Hardly. Red flags—including some goon who's following her—raise McKinley Frasier's suspicions that numbers don't add up at the insurance firm. When someone tries to snatch McKinley's daughter from school, she turns to police officer and ex-fiance, Renner Crossman—the cop who walked out on her a month before their wedding. But Renner's not the same guy who broke her heart ten years ago. He calls himself a "new man." She trusts the new Renner with her daughter's safety...but what about her heart?

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781611161571
Publisher:
Pelican Book Group
Publication date:
03/30/2012
Pages:
246
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.57(d)

Read an Excerpt

Journey's Edge


By Dora Hiers

Pelican Ventures, LLC

Copyright © 2012 Dora Hiers
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-61116-157-1


CHAPTER 1

Client Evasion 101. She could teach that course.

If she lived long enough.

Hiding her rental car between a truck and a shaggy evergreen tree, McKinley Frasier huddled against the steering wheel and fumbled to find the switch for the headlights, determination to outsmart this creep outweighing the fear churning in her belly. For now.

Her gaze darted to the road in front of the hotel. No sign of him yet. She turned the knob one more time and the lights flickered off. Sliding a hand into her purse, she pulled out her cell phone, her palm slick against the cold plastic case.

A car slithered past, stealthy, stalking. Malcolm Brugman, this week's client. At least she thought it was him. She'd only gotten a glimpse of his profile at the stoplight. McKinley held her breath, waiting, not moving, in case he changed directions and doubled back.

She'd bought some time. Was it enough to get checked in and out of sight? She couldn't waste another second. She exhaled and escaped the tight confines of the car, her legs and hands shaking as she opened the trunk.

Keeping her eyes glued to the road, McKinley hoisted her suitcase and laptop case from the trunk, hand still clutching her cell phone. She pushed the remote lock once and scurried towards the lobby, wincing at the noise her suitcase made bouncing along the pavement.

The dampness left over from the chilly rain misted around her head and swirled about her feet. Shadows cut through the heavy fog and flickered underneath the pale glow cast by the streetlight.

Dark. Eerie. Just like the week spent working in Brugman's office.

McKinley shivered and glanced at the hotel sign. Renner said he'd be here tonight. Her pulse rate kicked up a notch; her temper flared. Not that she had any plans to see him. She'd only tortured herself by working late so she wouldn't have to leave her daughter to fly back to Charlotte next week. Right? McKinley nodded once, her neck stiff with tension.

Why was she thinking about Renner Crossman now anyway? She hadn't thought of him in what? Two days? Not since his totally off-the-radar phone message. Yeah, well, that apology was about ten years too late, buddy. Did he really think she'd come running to accept his face-to-face apology? Why hadn't she changed her cell phone number when she moved? She should have tied up that loose end and knotted it tight. If she had, she wouldn't be dreaming about the magical evening they spent here —

A car engine rattled. Quickening her pace across the parking lot, she wrenched her neck over a shoulder. A van. Not him. She blew out a breath and bunched her sweater tighter, her nerves unsettled, and palms damp with fear.

What was wrong with her? She'd audited plenty of fraud cases. Where was her backbone tonight? Chalk it up to the week spent with Brugman. The guy gave her the creeps, always looking over her shoulder and following her around the office asking questions. She still couldn't shake the threatening look on his face during their exit conference. She shuddered and heard her teeth chatter.

OK. Maybe she'd admit that she felt a teensy bit safer knowing Renner was here. Renner carried a gun, wore a badge. Not that it mattered. She didn't intend to see him.

McKinley tugged open the door and stepped into the hotel lobby. The warmth settled around her shoulders like a blanket, the tension seeping from her taut muscles only slightly. She wouldn't feel safe until she turned the deadbolt in her room.

"I need a room for tonight, please." Yowzie. Was that croak hers? Good thing she'd called Tessa earlier. Before the fear stole her voice.

"Certainly."

McKinley turned around from the counter and stared at the murky darkness outside, waiting for the clerk to find her a room on his computer. She didn't see any movement.

She shook her head slightly, disgusted with herself. Yep. Paranoid. That's what she was. Add tired, stressed, and past ready to feel her daughter's sweet arms around her neck.

Whatever. That wasn't happening tonight. All she could hope for was a long, hot shower and to feel the pillow beneath her head. And the king-sized bag of chocolate-covered peanuts stashed inside her laptop bag.

"I'll just need your credit card, ma'am."

The clerk's voice startled her. She whirled around. "Oh. Sure." She pulled out her wallet and handed him her credit card. Should she ask?

"Now if you could sign this, please." The clerk slid the registration form across the counter.

She signed the form and slid it back to him, studying his name badge while he finished the transaction. It wouldn't hurt to ask, would it? She didn't have to do anything with that information, right? "James, can you tell me if Renner Crossman made it here tonight?"

James pecked at his computer keys a few more times and smiled. "Yes, he did." The smile slipped; the corners of his lips turned down. "But, I'm sorry. I can't give out any information other than that."

"That's OK." So, Renner was here. Just like he said he'd be. Surprise. Surprise. "Thank you, James."

"Would you like me to call his room for you?"

McKinley sucked in a breath. Would she? Her gaze darted around the lobby. Nobody had entered, and as far as she could see, nobody lurked outside near the entrance.

Nah. She didn't need Renner. Or his gun.

She did need a good night's sleep, so she could get back to Tampa, to her daughter. And she needed to write and file her audit report. Her boss would be breathing down her neck for it. "No, that's all right. It's late. I'll meet up with him later. Thanks, James."

He nodded while he jotted down a number on her key card. "Here you go, then. Room 219. Breakfast will be served from seven until ten tomorrow morning. Have a nice evening." He glanced at his watch and smiled. "What's left of it, anyway."

"Thanks." She accepted the key folder and glanced at the lobby clock. Almost midnight.

OK, then. She'd take a quick shower to relieve her aching muscles from the stressful week, to quiet the drum roll going on in her head. Her quick snack would help her feel halfway alive again.

Tapping her heel against the floor tile, she pressed the elevator button and waited for its descent from the third floor. Exhaustion seeped through her in waves. McKinley stepped in the elevator and slipped her heels off, linking them between two fingers.

"Mmm." She closed her eyes, savoring the feel of the soft carpet beneath bare feet.

The elevator doors opened. She grabbed the suitcase handle and padded down the hushed, narrow hall.

McKinley stopped at the door to her room and inserted the card into the lock. The red light flashed.

A door closed farther down the hall. McKinley glanced over her shoulder. A man stepped from the stairwell into the hallway, his head turned in the opposite direction.

But she recognized the suit.

The same suit she had stared at all day. Malcolm Brugman, so-called insurance agent. Also know as thief, slime ball.

Her pulse raced, and a giant clump of fear lodged in her throat. How did he find her? What did he want? Whatever the reason, it couldn't be good, and she wasn't sticking around to find out.

She yanked the card out of the slot, inserted it again.

Still the red light. Come on. Come on.

With shaking fingers, she jerked the card out and tried again, pressing her body against the door. The door swung open. McKinley lunged into the room.

Her face plowed into an expansive, muscular chest. Strong hands grabbed McKinley's upper arms. A vague, familiar smell permeated the man's torso, a citrus and woodsy scent mingled with masculine deodorant. She heard the door close behind her and felt legs wimp out on her. Good thing this guy held her up or she would have sank straight to the floor like a pile of spaghetti. She angled a hand to eject chest hair from her tongue, trying not to make a face.

"Honey, if you're looking for that kind of action, you've got the wrong room."

"What?" McKinley gasped. She knew that voice, that rich timbre with just a hint of teasing. Always teasing, forever flirting.

Renner Crossman.

Oh, no! What kind of twisted sense of humor did James suffer from? She didn't want to see Renner. She only wanted to know that he was in the hotel.

McKinley tilted her head back, inching her line of vision up to Renner's face. Just to be sure. A lot could change after ten years. Look at her. She was a prime example.

She heard his deep intake of breath. Shock? Yeah, well, she could relate.

"Kinny?"

Ten years faded into yesterday. Those espresso-colored eyes still gleamed with mischief. Or was it something else? Maybe he hadn't changed that much.

His hands tightened around her arms, pulling her against him. She closed her eyes and leaned into his chest.

Renner.

His heart thumped a tune with hers. His breath whispered against her hair. And the scent of his aftershave was like a dear friend. She sighed. What was it about him that latched on to her innermost dreams and desires and wouldn't let go? His grin? His have-no-cares-in-the-world style against her organized, have-to-know-everything-beforehand outlook?

He looped his arms around her back and pressed his forehead to hers, just like he used to do. When he'd made her feel loved and cherished. Protected. Special.

A clamp tightened around her stomach, cut off air, and she almost tossed the cookies she'd scarfed down in place of dinner. Gag.

Special.

Yeah, right. More like used and abused. Thrown away with the trash.

She wasn't safe in here, either. She braced her hands against his chest and jerked a step back, telling her brain to reject his familiar, comforting scent. She would take her chances in the hall.

He dug his hands into his jeans pockets. "It's good to see you, Kinny. Thanks for coming." His words carried only a hint of teasing, more the weight of sadness.

"I didn't come here to see you." Liar. Why didn't you check into the Sheraton right down the street? She shook her head to mute that mocking inner voice.

"But ... you're here. I'm glad."

"Yeah. So am I." Oooh, what was she saying? She pressed fingertips against her forehead. "Not the glad part. The here part."

One corner of his lips curved. She glanced away from him, away from the power he still apparently held over her, taking in the male clothes strewn over the back of the couch. Still a slob. But was he alone?

Her fingers tightened their grip on her shoes. "What are you doing in my hotel room?"

"I was here first, sweetheart."

McKinley wrenched her head back to face him and gave him her best glare. "Don't call me sweetheart. You lost that right ten years ago."

"Relinquished." Pain etched the corners of his eyes.

She preferred to believe they were age wrinkles. "Semantics, Renner, semantics. So ..."

"So ...?"

"Why are you here? In my room?" McKinley closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose. All she wanted was rest, a few minutes of peace, of not looking over her shoulder for Brugman. A hotel room with a good deadbolt, a scalding hot shower, and a comfortable bed should fit the bill.

Not Renner Crossman. No. Definitely. Not.

"Am I in the middle of a nightmare?" she ground through her teeth.

"Ouch!"

She cracked her eyelids open in time to see his pincher fingers hovering around her arm. She swatted his hand away.

He only grinned. "Yep, I was afraid I was dreaming about you, myself. I don't know how it's possible, Kinny, but you are even more beautiful."

Her mouth gaped open. What was happening here? "Renner, you are so not flirting with me right now."

"Well." He glanced meaningfully at the heels she held in her hand, the same tender expression she remembered so well on his face. "If the shoe fits —"

She shoved the offending shoes on top of her suitcase. "The shoe doesn't fit. At least not your foot, anyway. I missed my flight —" A noise in the hall stole her attention, and she cocked an ear in that direction. Heavy footsteps sounded outside. Fast, then slow, like they stopped right outside the door.

Renner raised one dark eyebrow and rolled his gaze towards the door, then back to her, ignoring the commotion in the hall. "So ... you missed your flight? Where do you live now?"

The heavy steps continued down the hall. Her shoulders sagged with relief. Now if only she could feel the hot water pulsating against her back. She needed to wrap up this conversation. Get Renner to vacate her room. "Hmm? Oh, yes. I missed my flight. I worked later than I should have —" She stopped at his narrowed eyebrows. "What?"

"Nothing unusual about that."

She pressed lips together to avoid saying something she'd regret. He didn't need to know that she rarely worked late anymore. Then he would ask questions. Questions related to Tessa. Best not to go there.

"I'm sorry. That was uncalled for."

She couldn't take any more apologies. She needed to stay mad, or she'd be bawling against that hairy chest. "Listen, Renner. I'm exhausted." She dragged hair away from her face. "I just want to catch some sleep before my flight in the morning. My key didn't work." She waved the key card in front of his face.

"Let me see your folder."

"My what?"

"The folder your key came in. Let's make sure you're trying the door to the right room."

"Oh." Duh. Why hadn't she thought of that? And here she blamed poor James.

She dug into the pocket of her laptop bag and pulled out the folder. "The hotel clerk said room 219. See?"

She handed it over. With his head bent, she studied him. He wore his hair shorter, but her fingers still itched to glide through his thick, wavy hair. She clenched her hands. Her gaze slid down to the muscles that rippled in his arms. His bare chest. Jeans slung over lean hips. She closed her eyes. That was far enough. She took another step back.

"Hmm." His head came back up. "I see why you thought this was your room. The clerk's number seven and nine look about the same. The folder says room 217. I'm in room 219. Your room is next door."

"That explains why you're in my room." Had she misunderstood James? Hadn't he said room 219?

That slow lazy slant took over his lips, making her well-ordered world go out of balance. Her stomach began to perform somersaults.

Yeah. He was dangerous all right. If she weren't careful, she'd drop her guard and remember all the good times they'd shared, forget the way he'd broken her heart. She'd better scram. "Listen, Renner. I would love to stay and catch up on old times, but I have to get to my real room and get some sleep. Sorry I bothered you." Her words rushed out while one hand grasped for the door.

McKinley cracked the door open and peered into the hallway, first one direction, then the other. The coast was clear. She clasped the suitcase handle.

One of Renner's hands gently tugged her backwards; the other reached around her and pushed the door closed.

"What?" she asked. A groan escaped from her throat before she could stop it.

* * *

"Not so fast, sweetheart."

Kinny turned around, and the scent of early winter and cool breezes filled the room, along with cloves, vanilla, and roses. Kinny was the only female Renner knew who changed her perfume with the passing seasons.

"What did you do that for?" Kinny's startled blue eyes fastened on him.

He had never been able to resist their purity, their innocence.

At least, they had been pure. Until he came along.

Renner stuffed hands into his jeans pockets, regret kicking him in the gut. "We may not have seen each other for a few years, but I know when something's bothering you. Spill."

"You don't know me anymore." The hurt in her voice chastised him.

You don't know me anymore, either. Although, he reminded himself, one thing had stayed constant. Good thing she hadn't caught sight of his gun yet. No sense in dredging up old arguments, festering ancient wounds. "Kinny?"

"OK. OK." Hesitation clouded her face.

Something was definitely bothering her. "Out with it."

"You won't believe me. I'm not sure I believe me." She yanked the clasp from her hair and ran a free hand through those waves.

He swallowed a groan.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Journey's Edge by Dora Hiers. Copyright © 2012 Dora Hiers. Excerpted by permission of Pelican Ventures, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author


After a successful auditing career, Dora Hiers left the corporate world to be a stay-at-home mom to her two sons. When her youngest son no longer wanted her hanging out at school with him anymore, Dora started writing Heart Racing, God-Gracing romances. She is a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA) and her local chapter, Carolina Romance Writers (CRW). Dora and her real life hero make their home in Kannapolis, North Carolina. When she takes a break from cranking out stories, she enjoys reading, family gatherings, and mountain cabin getaways. She despises traffic, bad coffee, technological meltdowns, and a sad ending to a book. Her books always end with a happily-ever-after! Readers can connect with Dora: Website: www.dorahiers.com Email: Dora@DoraHiers.com Blog: http://dorahiers.blogspot.com/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dorahiers Twitter: https://twitter.com/DoraHiers Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/dorahiers/

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Journey's Edge 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
AnnE42 More than 1 year ago
I loved this book.  I read it in one setting because I couldn't it down.   It is an exciting combination of suspense, action and romance that definitely takes the reader on a roller coaster ride with lots of twists and turns.  The author also includes a wonderful story of God's love and forgiveness.  I look forward to reading more by this author, and highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good Christian mystery and romance.
MarianneEvans More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed Dora Hiers' second installment of the "Marshals of Journey Creek" series! Having met Renner Crossman in Journey's End, I couldn't wait to see where she took his story, and she did not disappoint. Who wouldn't love having a cop like Renner guard you? His ex-fiancee, that's who! McKinley Frasier is living the life of a single-working-mom, and doing a great job of being a professional, and being a mother. That's what provides the excellent push-pull of this romantic suspense novel. She's a good auditor, and that puts her life, and that of her daughter, into peril. Enter the cop with a heart, and a romance rekindles. Hiers' writing is top notch, and she knows just how to balance the romance and suspense. Great story telling and great character development enhance a love story that will touch your heart. Kudos, Ms. Hiers, and I can't wait for the next installment!!
DonnaSam More than 1 year ago
Journey's edge is the second installment of the Marshals of Journey Creek series and a real treat. Like a marathon, the story starts off with a bang and builds with hints and nuances of the finish. Readers will find themselves cheering along the way and dying to know how it all turns out. Pulse-pounding storytelling.
Linda_Weaver_Clarke More than 1 year ago
Journey’s Edge grabs your attention on the first page. Off and on, Author Dora Hiers keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering what’s going to happen next. In the first chapter, you find that McKinley is being followed and the anxiety and fear she feels is evident. She suspects who is following her… a client whom she is about to report for fraud, during a routine audit. But this isn’t all the author throws in the first chapter. McKinley has an appointment to meet her ex-fiancé. She hasn’t seen the man for ten years and isn’t sure why he wants to meet her. He was the one who broke off the engagement, which in turn broke her heart at the same time. When they meet, she realizes that the attraction is still there. No matter how hard she tries to fight it, she knows she still has feelings for him. The attraction between Renner and McKinley is what keeps this book flowing, along with the suspense of a vengeful client who is determined to stop McKinley from filing her report. I would recommend this book to those who love Christian Fiction. By Linda Weaver Clarke, Author of Historical Sweet Romances
GingerS219 More than 1 year ago
From the first scene to the last, Ms. Hiers has you on the edge of your seat. This romantic suspense novel is full of romance and suspense. You take a "journey" with McKinley Frasier as a former client wants her to fail at turning in the audit she's just done. She has no choice, but to turn to Renner, former fiance and police officer turned US Marshall. Their journey takes them to the edge (hahaha) of danger, and reaffirms their feelings for one another (no spoiler, 'cuz you have to read to find out what those feelings are). Journey's Edge is the second book in the series, but is great as a stand-alone. I look forward to reading Journey's End and any new books Ms. Hiers releases in the future. *** I was sent this novel free from the author/publisher for review. The above is my honest opinion.
TammyK1 More than 1 year ago
Dora Hiers has crafted a keeper of a book with Journey's Edge. It's simply wonderful!!!
donnabsnow More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved, loved, loved the early scene where McKinley literally falls into Renner's...chest. LOL What a great story this is. Heart pumping fear, and confused emotional tension saturates this story and keeps the reader on the edge of their seat listening for footsteps in the hall, or headlights in the rear view mirror...or the citrusy woodsy scent of a man lingering in a room. Ms. Hiers does a wonderful job of making you feel like you're right there in the story in the middle of the action. And then toss in a man who has a heart for kids and...well, he's every woman's hero. And Renner does make a FINE hero. I love romantic suspense, and I especially love it when it's well written, and this one certainly is. Great job!
AngieArndt More than 1 year ago
Who would dream that something as boring as a routine audit could be the catalyst to a whirlwind romantic suspense? Dora Hiers did. And this release from White Rose Publishing is full of romance! Dora Hiers has done it again. I love how she developed McKinley's and Renner's characters, leaving hints and revealing layers like a trail of cookie crumbs to a buried treasure. And the treasure of Journey's Edge is definitely the romance. The chemistry between McKinley and Renner fairly sizzles, but don't worry, Hiers won't take you anywhere you don't want to go. She tackles sensitive issues (unwed pregnancy, sex outside of marriage and stalking) with sensitivity and from a Christian standpoint. The plot moves along nicely with ups-and-downs to keep the action, and my interest, really going. Clues and women in peril abound. With each new chapter, Hiers raises the stakes. In fact, I woke up in the middle of the night and finished reading Journey's Edge because I had to know what happened. I've enjoyed both of Dora's releases, Journey's End and Journey's Edge. Although they are stand-alone books, it's really neat to see how she works the secondary characters from one into the next in the series. Can't wait for the next one, Dora!
Susan21 More than 1 year ago
In this sequel you get reacquainted with Renner Crossman, and we hear his story. Renner is a new Christian, who realizes he messed up in the past with the one woman he cannot get out of his mind or heart—McKinley (Kinny) Frasier. When he finds he’ll be in the same town as her for a night, he asks if they can meet, only to discover she’s in danger. Renner steps up to help her out—and win back her trust—as they battle the man who’s after Kinny and her daughter. The pace of this story was perfect for me. Renner didn’t push for Kinny’s trust, he earned it back. It wasn’t always easy, yet those were the moments Renner’s trust in God grew. And I think that’s one of the reasons I love Dora’s writing style. She doesn’t do ‘easy’ for her characters. Things don’t always go quite like you’d expect, and yet we still get our Happily Ever Afters—a ***sigh***worthy mix. Journey’s Edge delivered all those sighs with a healthy dose of suspense—which I love—and a lot of laughs. Renner and Kinny, while battling some old hurts, still found time to tease each other. It’s another element I love from Dora’s writing. She balances the heavy, suspenseful moments with fun, and she does it well.