Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye

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Overview

FEAR.

She knew him only as the dark-eyed man, the one who put her in that dank basement. She was only nine years old when she stared into those eyes and understood that something unspeakable lived in them. Though she was saved at the last minute by an unlikely ally, she's never forgotten that fear. And fear has not forgotten her.

NEVER.

Now the woman who rescued April from that living hell long ago has ...

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Overview

FEAR.

She knew him only as the dark-eyed man, the one who put her in that dank basement. She was only nine years old when she stared into those eyes and understood that something unspeakable lived in them. Though she was saved at the last minute by an unlikely ally, she's never forgotten that fear. And fear has not forgotten her.

NEVER.

Now the woman who rescued April from that living hell long ago has disappeared, and it's no accident. Whoever came after her wants April-dead. April has one chance to save her guardian angel before it's too late. But to do that, she'll have to break the promise she swore she never would and contact the one man she knows she shouldn't.

DIES.

Joe Worth's horoscope said he was in for trouble, but the woman sitting in his office is the kind of trouble any guy would welcome-mile-long legs, blond hair, gorgeous face. She's also scared. Very scared. Protecting people is Joe's business, but this time it's also personal: the woman April wants him to find is the mother who abandoned him. He can only say yes, and that could cost him. A stone-cold killer is out for vengeance-a man who will do anything to keep his dark, twisted past behind him. Anything.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780758215635
  • Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 10/1/2007
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.24 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

E.C. Sheedy is the author of thirteen works of romantic fiction and two business books on organization and entrepreneurship. She lives and works in a waterfront community in the Pacific Northwest, just a short ferry ride from the beautiful cities of Vancouver, B.C. and Seattle, Washington. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and The Author's Guild and is both a past winner and finalist in the Coeur du Bois, Heart of Romance Reader's Choice Award.
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Read an Excerpt

KISS TOMORROW GOODBYE


By E.C. SHEEDY

BRAVA BOOKS

Copyright © 2007 E.C. Sheedy
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7582-1563-5


Chapter One

Joe Worth appreciated seriously fine woman flesh when he saw it-and what walked a few steps ahead of him was up there with the best of it. Made him wish he could strap on a tool belt and whistle. The high heels and skirt-short enough to be interesting without shouting about it-were an added bonus. As was the hair. Damn near to the middle of her back. And that darkish blond color that looked real instead of salon metallic. Then there were the legs ... showgirl quality, endless and shapely.

A devout leg man, Joe experienced something close to awe.

Hell of a way to start a morning.

"Coffee, tea, me-or her," a booming voice said from his right.

"Definitely her." Joe jutted his chin in the direction of legs unlimited, then looked down at Riggs. "But I'll settle for the coffee-preferably with less sludge than yesterday."

"Picky. Picky."

Donny Riggs, a small guy to start with, who barely managed to clear the kiosk countertop from his wheelchair, ran the coffee shack a block from Joe's office. On a good day his coffee hit the psyche with the silk and heat of good-morning sex; on bad days, a mug of crude oil with curdled cream would be an improvement.

Joe took the coffee Riggs handed him and studied the donuts."Today's? Or last year's?"

"Suddenly you're a gourmet?" He accented the final T and shoved a donut into a paper sleeve. That was the thing with Donny Riggs, you ask about the food, you've bought the food. "Here." He handed Joe the donut. "You don't like it. Bring it back. Comes with a one month guarantee."

Joe took the donut, capped his coffee cup, and handed him the usual fiver. "Tell me again why I buy this crap from you."

"One of two reasons. My scintillatin' personality or my wheelchair gig."

"The chair's too obvious. It's the scintillating thing. Definitely." He headed down the street, taking the same hallowed path as the long legs that had enamored him seconds before.

"Hey, Joe."

Restraining a sigh, he turned back. He knew what was coming; Riggs hadn't missed a morning yet. "Yeah?"

"Your horoscope says you're in for trouble today. Says something left behind is coming back in your life that will seriously affect your future and ya can't avoid it."

"Good to know." He made to turn.

"It also says something that looks like a simple puzzle on the surface is nothin' but a nest of snakes. You better be careful, it says"-Riggs jabbed the morning paper he had spread out on the counter-"or you'll be-and I quote-ensnarled."

"Great. Thanks." He lifted his coffee cup in salute and turned the corner. Joe wasn't worried about snakes, and the only thing coming back into his life was last month's bills. Which, thanks to the check he received yesterday, he was able to pay and then some. Temporarily at least, he was ankle deep in clover.

Snakes and ensnarling aside, he was planning a damn fine day; the morning setting up next week's job, which would start with his joining Zern, his partner, on a yacht in Spain-not hard to take-and the afternoon at the gym. Okay, so he wasn't so keen on the gym thing but keeping in shape was part of the job. No one hired bodyguards from the before pictures.

Joe rounded the corner and walked the half block to his office. The building was ten floors, and he was on the fourth; he took the stairs.

The door to his floor opened on the end of the hall farthest from his office, and he'd cracked it barely an inch or two before he spotted Legs-standing outside his office door.

The day was getting better and better. He stopped to admire the view.

Legs reached for the knob on his door then, as if she'd touched a hot element, abruptly stepped back and ran a hand through her long hair, brushing one side of it behind her ear. She looked nervous. No. Beyond nervous. Scared.

And the face that went with that Grade-A body didn't disappoint. The woman was eye-blasting beautiful.

Beautiful + scared = client.

Interesting ... Joe watched her make another attempt at the door, back away again, then finally-and he could damn near hear her inhale half of Seattle's supply of air-she opened the door and walked in.

Joe stepped into the hall, uncapped his coffee, and did a taste test as he ambled toward his office.

If Legs was the trouble Riggs predicted-bring it on.

April closed the door behind her and looked around Joe Worth's reception area.

It was a long, windowless room painted a pale institutional green. Amid the green, there was a reception desk with no one behind it, some battered filing cabinets, bench seating along one wall, and a coffee table piled high with magazines. A blood-red movie poster touting Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye, featuring a mean-mouthed James Cagney in lurid, fist-raised detail, hung crookedly behind the bench. The place looked like something from a thirties crime novel-not a computer in sight. She wondered if it was intentional-and if she'd made the right decision coming here.

But Cornie said their mother, Phylly, was in trouble. Big trouble. Enough trouble that Cornie bussed in from Vegas on her own and landed on April's Portland, Oregon, doorstep. Enough that she convinced April they needed to go to Seattle ASAP-a city April never expected, or wanted, to see again. And, damn it, it looked as though the girl was right. So, even knowing Phylly would freak at her being here-here she was. About to talk to Joe Worth.

Rumor had it, when the going got tough, family came through. She wouldn't know about that, but she was anxious enough to give it a try, because Joe Worth was definitely family.

Lifting her eyes to the old ceiling, where a fan spun without enthusiasm in the warm August afternoon, she prayed silently: Forgive me, Phylly ...

"Can I help you?"

April nearly fell out of her stilettos. She was so busy second-guessing herself, she was still gripping the doorknob and hadn't noticed a young man enter from a side door.

She settled herself and stepped into the room. She might not want to be here, but she wasn't about to advertise the fact. "I'm here to see Joseph Worth."

The young man-he wasn't much more than twenty-settled his fashionable metal-rimmed glasses on his nose, smiled at her, and glanced at an open scheduler on the desk. "Sorry, but I don't see an appointment here."

"I don't have one."

"And she doesn't need one."

The voice came from behind her, and she turned to see a big man enter the room-fill it-and approach the desk in long easy strides. When he stepped a little too close to her, she moved back, and looked up into his sharply assessing, very curious eyes and a gaze that settled on her like cool water.

There was no doubt this was Joseph Worth. Those eyes-a pale silver blue-were instantly recognizable. Set in the family genes, Phylly said. As was the height. The man was at least six feet three. Even with her wearing high heels, he was taller than she was. No mean feat when, barefoot, she stood five-ten.

"You're Joseph Worth."

She put out her hand and he took it, held it, and nodded, his gaze unwaveringly direct. She had the brief thought they were playing some kind of macho who'll-blink-first game. If so, Silver Eyes would lose. When it came to men, April stopped blinking years ago.

"I'm April Worth," she said. Ignoring how small her hand was in his, she tightened her grip, and shook firmly. "In a roundabout way, we're related."

One eyebrow arched and he frowned. "A kissing cousin, I hope."

"Afraid not." Not even close.

"Damn!" He withdrew his hand, eyed her closely. "You don't by any chance have anything to do with snakes, do you?"

She couldn't tell if he was serious or not. "Worked with a few in my time," she said, "but only the human variety."

"Lots of those around." He half-smiled and added, "You want a coffee?"

She nodded.

He looked at the young man. "Meet Kit, the purveyor of all caffeine-related products and resident genius." He gestured to a door. "He holes up in there with his stuff." The door said Genius.

Kit grinned at her. "That 'stuff' being computer muscle-his being of the more mundane variety."

April smiled. "Nice to meet you, Kit. And it doesn't look like you're doing too bad in the 'mundane' department yourself." Where Joe Worth had height and breadth, Kit was closer to five-ten, compact and wiry. His arms were lean, tan, and looked stronger than they needed to be to punch computer keys.

"All Joe's fault." He grimaced in Joe's general direction. "He keeps dragging me to the gym. He calls it a job perk."

"What do you call it?" she asked.

"Death by dumbbells."

"And he loves every rep," Joe said, not a trace of sympathy in his tone. He set the plastic cup he was holding on Kit's desk. "Riggs hit an all-time low this morning. Any chance you've got backup?"

"Just dripped its last drip."

"Good. Use those new delts of yours and bring some in, will you?" He gave April another curious look, and smiled, one of those fake-friendly salesmanlike smiles of a man hoping to do business. But it was enough of a smile to light his eyes and indicate good humor, which pumped up her hope quotient. Maybe he would help. Although in what capacity, she couldn't be sure, but at the very least a man in his job-a bodyguard-surely had some connections he could call on, or advice he could give.

She trailed him toward a door, the top half of which was opaque glass with the word Guardian A printed across it in the same script used on Kit's. Next to his office was another door; it read Guardian B.

He saw her glancing between them. "My partner, Julius Zern. He's on a job." He opened the A door and stood aside for her to enter.

"And the letters?" she asked. "Do they mean anything?"

"Nope. A is whoever's in the office. We figured we needed a pecking order a client would relate to."

"Ah ..." Hell, what else was there to say? "So you're both ... guardians." Which she took to be a fancy name for bodyguard.

"Uh-huh."

She had the sense Joe Worth was much more than that, and it occurred to her that, in a bizarre kind of way, he and Phyllis were in the same business.

Inside his office, outfitted in the same bland yellow oak décor as the reception area, he took off his suit jacket and-surprise-put it on a hanger before hooking it on an ancient coat tree. His waist was narrow; his shirt was pale blue-the color of his eyes-and his shoulders, now shifting under soft cotton, were immense. Guardian, indeed.

He stood behind his desk, nodded at one of the two wooden chairs in front of it and said, "Sit."

She sat.

Sitting himself, he leaned back in the chair far enough that she envisioned an undignified tumble, but he obviously knew the chair's limits and remained upright. Morning sunlight slanted through the one window in the room and illuminated his desk surface. A surface that made the expression "neat as a pin" inadequate. Definitely not like Phylly. "You don't spend much time here, do you?" she asked.

"Mornings when I'm around. Otherwise this place is Kit's home away from home." He didn't add more on the subject, instead saying, "You want me to ask questions," he said, "or do you just want to get to it?"

April set her tote bag beside her chair, crossed her legs, and met Joe Worth's gaze with one she hoped was equally as calm. Again, her stomach did a pitch and roll. God, if Phylly knew she was here, she'd-April had no idea what she'd do, but it would involve copious bloodletting.

No going back now. Forgive me, Phylly.

She cleared her throat. "I'm here about-"

Kit interrupted, walking into the room with a couple of mugs on a black plastic tray. Another surprise. The mugs matched.

As Kit handed them coffee, Joe Worth's eyes never left hers. Quiet eyes, she thought. Intelligent and ... patient. The eyes of an unhurried man, or a man who'd learned the payoff that came from shutting his mouth and opening his ears.

When Kit was gone, she started again. "I'm here about your mother. Phyllis Worth?" She didn't know why she phrased Phylly's name as a question-as if she were talking about a stranger. Which she was-at least to Joe. Still, it was stupid and made her sound tentative and insecure. Which I am.

Phylly's name hit the room like an arctic wind, chilling the room palpably, and Joe Worth's interested gaze iced up along with it. "I know who Phyllis Worth is," he said. "And I know what she is. What I don't know is who you are-what your connection is?"

April couldn't sit still any longer, so she got up and took her coffee mug with her to the window. His question was valid, but she wasn't sure how he'd take her answer, or even if it was the right one. "You could say, I'm your ... sister."

He stared at her as if she'd handed him a live virus. "I might have a sister, but what I don't have is a mother." His face set to mean, like the poster in his outer office, he got up, came around to the front of his desk, and headed for the door.

He was going to throw her out-without hearing what she had to say. She didn't intend to let that happen. She'd promised Cornie; she wouldn't let her down.

She caught him by the arm and got in his face. "Yes, you do, Joseph Jonathan Worth. You have the same mother I do, and she needs your help. She's in trouble. Serious trouble."

April played her ace. "Life and death kind of trouble." He stopped, looked at her long and hard, before dropping his gaze to where her hand still gripped his bicep. His very hard bicep.

She let go, and he strode to the door and opened it wide. "Get out of here, Legs-go tell someone who gives a damn."

Chapter Two

Henry Castor was enthusiastic-about his new Seattle penthouse, his new Mercedes, his new everything, including the excellent scotch he was trying hard not to swallow in one boorish gulp. After tonight, he'd have the money to be a classy guy. He might as well start acting like one.

He made a silent toast to Victor Allan. After all, everything good that was about to happen to him he owed to anal old Victor. He'd even given Henry options, two surefire routes to megacash, but no contest really. The man in front of him-fancy on the outside, shit on the inside-was his kind of guy. A guy with a lot to protect and a lot to lose. Which made him plan A. Yeah.

But Jesus! Who'd have thought Henry Castor, the backroom guy, would be sitting in the library-a goddamn library, for Christ sake!-being offered booze in a crystal glass by none other than Quinlan Braid. One of the richest men in Los Angeles. Hell, all of California! A man the newspapers referred to simply as Q, and the man who was about to give Henry his heart's desire. A brand new life.

No more strong-arm stuff.

No more bloodied knuckles.

No more Victor telling him what to do.

Henry downed the last of his scotch, noticed the pulled threads on his suit cuff, and tucked his arm inside the chair.

"Are you comfortable, Henry?" Q said.

"Yes, sir, Mister Braid." Might as well be respectful. Not that it mattered, because when this meet was over, it would be Braid calling him sir. Yeah.

"Good, then we can proceed." The tall, imposing man smiled down at him. At least Henry thought it was a smile. Odd how the rest of Quinlan's face didn't join in with it, though. Like it wouldn't dare a wrinkle on his smooth California tanned skin.

The man with eyes so dark they looked black had to be over fifty, but looked ten years younger. Money did that, Henry thought sourly: Fancy spas, lots of good sex, the best food, the best of everything. Not for Q, the sweaty back-alley gym, wilted salads in the local diner, and a case of cheap beer on the weekends. Or worse yet, one of those celebratory bottles of crap wine Victor handed over when a job went to his liking. Wine that had gotten even worse since old Victor's business started going downhill, while Quinlan here lived larger than large and looked like a goddamn movie star while he did it.

Henry couldn't wait to do the same. Although given his five-feet-eight inches of height and super-sized muscle mass, he'd have his challenges.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from KISS TOMORROW GOODBYE by E.C. SHEEDY Copyright © 2007 by E.C. Sheedy. Excerpted by permission.
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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2007

    You can kiss this one goodbye

    I bought this book with my eyes closed considering I loved her previous novel 'Without a Word'. But halfway through the second chapter I had to double check if I'd bought the wrong book. It's like a whole different person wrote this one. Toooo repetitive and boring.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    a superb erotic romantic suspense thriller

    Over two decades ago Phyllis Worth rescued nine years old April from the dark eyed man who hid her in an unlighted basement. Phyllis raised the frightened April as her own. Now Phyllis is missing fleeing for her life without a moment¿s notice. She left behind a quickly scratched note warning April to hide as the dark eyed man seeks her.------------- April still fears her bogeyman, but needs to insure Phyllis is safe. She turns to Joe Worth to find Phyllis and keep both females safe. Joe wants to say no to sad eyes as Phyllis is his biological mother, who deserted him years ago. However, he cannot leave April at the mercy of a deranged serial killer who wants to use Phyllis to get to his intended target besides which he has instant heat that she reciprocally makes hotter.-------------- The dark eyed killer who in many ways remains in the shadows of a nightmarish memory steals the show of a superb erotic romantic suspense thriller. E.C. Sheedy uses the family link to bring the lead couple together, but plays down the soap opera in order to provide a strong complex mystery. The lead couple is a fascinating likable pairing as he needs prove to himself that he is worthy of her trust by keeping her safe more so than completing her request to save his mother. Readers will kiss the day away reading this exciting tense one sitting romantic mystery.----------------- Harriet Klausner

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