Last Man Standing (Harlequin Intrigue #779) [NOOK Book]


Undercover cop Cole Taylor had his hands full sustaining a secret identity as he worked to expose a Kansas City crime boss—while living under the enemy's roof! The last thing he needed was a snooty intellectual type interfering in his investigation, asking suspicious questions and snooping where she shouldn't. Besides, with all that fiery red hair and miles of silky skin, Victoria Westin didn't look like any professor he knew....

She had the touch-me-not beauty of an aristocrat ...

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Last Man Standing (Harlequin Intrigue #779)

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Undercover cop Cole Taylor had his hands full sustaining a secret identity as he worked to expose a Kansas City crime boss—while living under the enemy's roof! The last thing he needed was a snooty intellectual type interfering in his investigation, asking suspicious questions and snooping where she shouldn't. Besides, with all that fiery red hair and miles of silky skin, Victoria Westin didn't look like any professor he knew....

She had the touch-me-not beauty of an aristocrat and fit right in with their upper-crust hosts. But the streetwise Taylor from working-class roots would have to persuade Miss High-and-Mighty to cooperate with his plan to save his life—and now hers, too. And if he couldn't gain her cooperation by his usual methods, he'd blackmail her with bedroom fantasies to "maintain cover."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426867545
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 6/21/2010
  • Series: Taylor Clan Series , #779
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 195,047
  • File size: 307 KB

Meet the Author

Julie attributes her passion for writing romance to all those fairy tales she read growing up, and shyness. Encouragement from her family to write down those feelings she couldn't express became a love for the written word. She gets continued support from her fellow members of the Prairieland Romance Writers, where she serves as the resident "grammar goddess."

This award-winning author and teacher has published several paranormal romances in addition to her beloved romantic suspense. Inspired by the likes of Agatha Christie and Encyclopedia Brown, Julie believes that the only thing better than a good mystery is a good romance.

Born and raised in Missouri, she now lives in Nebraska with her husband, son, and smiling guard dog, Maxie.

Write to Julie at P.O. Box 5162, Grand Island, NE 68802-5162 USA.

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Read an Excerpt

Last Man Standing

By Julie Miller

Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.

Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-373-22779-5

Chapter One

"One should be all dead when one is half dead ..."


Amazing what kind of dull, dreary errands a sixteen-year-old boy with a new license would run with his grandmother, so long as the opportunity to drive was involved.

Martha Taylor grinned, taking good care to keep her amusement out of sight behind the muscular shoulders of her newly adopted grandson. Already they'd been to the cleaner's, the post office, and now the grocery store without a single complaint about boredom or getting up early on a summer vacation morning. She'd gone through this same spate of volunteerism with all six of her boys, starting more than two decades ago. Some things never changed.

A young man's appetite didn't change, either, she noted, following Alexis Pitsaeli Taylor as he pushed the shopping cart across the parking lot to her teal van. He'd already dug into the sacks and opened a box of cream-filled cupcakes. The first one had disappeared in two bites and now he was working on his second.

"Let's put the sacks in the back, Alex." Martha opened her new straw purse and fished out her key ring to unlock the doors for him. But he already had his shiny new keys - a spare set copied and given to him by his grandfather - in hand and had pushed the unlock button. She halted a step as he lifted the hatchback and started unloading the cart. He paused just long enough to pop the last of the cupcake into his mouth. Martha grinned. "I think we'd better go home and get some lunch before all these groceries disappear into that bottomless pit you call a stomach."

Alex made a choking sound and spun around, apparently downing that last bite without chewing first. A stricken look dulled those soulful onyx-colored eyes that were going to make women weak in the knees as he matured. "Sorry, Grandma. I was hungry."

Grandma. Was there any sweeter word?

Martha curled her fingers around the handle of her purse, resisting the urge to reach out and hug the teenager in public. "Oh, honey, I'm teasing you. I do that with all my boys. I just don't want you to ruin your appetite."

"Not possible." His rare smile gleamed against the olive tint of his skin. "If you're cooking, I'm eating."

Martha laughed at the compliment. She was used to shopping for a big family - she'd raised six boys and a girl, after all. But a whole week watching her four newest grandsons while their parents, Gideon and Meghan, finally took a well-deserved honeymoon worried her that she might be a little out of practice. "I hope I bought enough food."

He eyed the seven sacks. "This should get me through the day. And I'd be happy to run to the store again tomorrow."

Ah, yes, another chance to drive. Sharp kid. Thank goodness he could joke with her. Alex seemed like such a serious boy. No wonder. He'd already outlived his abusive birth father, and his birth mother had lost her battle with drugs long before he'd joined a gang and eventually reformed himself. Martha's smile became forced as she watched him diligently unload the groceries and push the shopping cart toward the cart corral. He'd seen far too much of life for a boy his age.

She hoped he knew how much he was loved. That he had a family he could depend on now. She hoped he knew how lucky he was to be part of the proud Taylor tradition, and how proud she was that he had become a part of that tradition.

A dark figure hurtled between two parked cars and slammed Martha into the side of the van. When she felt the tug at the end of her arm, she screamed.

"Shut up, lady!"

The assailant shoved her down to the pavement and snatched her purse from her pain-shocked grip. Then he was off, running into the glare of the midday sun, keeping her from making any sort of identification.

"Help! He's stealing my purse!" Her sons who were cops had told her to make a lot of noise if she was ever attacked by an unarmed assailant - draw attention to the creep. Her knees and palms burned from where they'd scraped the pavement, and her sixty-three-year-old joints throbbed from the jarring impact of steel and concrete. But her mouth and her brain and her temper worked just fine.

"Stop that man! Help me! Somebody help!"


Martha crawled to the edge of the parking stall and saw Alex hurl his stocky, compact body against the taller, lankier attacker, who clutched her straw bag in his fist. The two hit the concrete with a frightening thud.


A kaleidoscope of images bombarded her senses. Black gloves. A stocking cap. The crack of a fist against a jaw, a spew of foul curses.

Urgent hands reaching down to help Martha stand. A kind voice. "Ma'am? Are you all right?"

The space-age tones of a cell phone being dialed. "I'll call 9-1-1."

Squealing tires and the stinging odor of burned rubber as a dingy white pickup truck skidded around the corner and screeched to a halt beside the two men rolling on the ground. Alex had the purse-snatcher in one of those neck-holds he'd learned on the wrestling team. He pulled him to his feet. He had the upper hand. He was reaching for her purse.

"No!" Fear churned in Martha's stomach. Her bravado evaporated in an instant as the driver of the pickup threw open his door and ran around the hood of the truck. He, too, wore gloves and a stocking mask. "Alex!"

But her warning came too late. The second man punched Alex in the kidney. Martha flinched at the vicious power of the blow that arched Alex's back and freed his hold. The man with the purse spun around and slammed his fist into Alex's mouth.

"Stop them!" Martha clenched her fingers convulsively around the forearm of the good Samaritan who had stopped to help her. "Oh God. Take the damn purse! Don't hurt him."

Alex sank to his knees. The man who'd taken her bag raised his hand to strike again, but the driver of the truck snatched him by the collar of his black, long-sleeve shirt and dragged him to the truck. He shoved him inside, scrambled behind the wheel and took off at interstate speed across the parking lot.

"Looky here, Grandma!" The man with her purse stuck his head out the window, shouting a vile taunt through his mask. He ripped open her wallet, sending a handful of bills fluttering to the pavement. He waved the plastic sheath that held her precious family photographs, tore one of them in two, crumpled it in his fist and tossed the memories beneath the wheels of the speeding truck. As they careened around the corner onto the street, he pointed a finger at Alex - her brave, young grandson had climbed to his feet. "Watch your back next time, Taylor! We won't leave you standing!"

The driver gunned the engine and quickly lost the truck in traffic. One kind citizen tried to gather the shredded picture and money before the wind carried them off, while the man with the cell phone hurried to Alex's side.

Alex nodded at something he said, then brushed off the man's hand and jogged back to the van. "Grandma?"

"Oh, Alex. Honey." She didn't care if they had an audience. She didn't care how cool a teenager needed to be. Martha hugged the boy, hugged him tight. "Are you hurt?"

His arms squeezed briefly around her shoulders before he pulled away. "I didn't get your purse back."


Excerpted from Last Man Standing by Julie Miller Copyright © 2004 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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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