Taking Chase (Chase Brothers Series #2)by Lauren Dane, Aletha George
Cassie Gambol is on the run. In what seems like another lifetime, her ex-husband nearly ended her life and effectively ended her successful career as a vascular surgeon. But even though the justice system found him guilty of attempted murder, he fled while awaiting sentencing and Carly Sunderland became Cassie Gambol. Fleeing Los Angeles, Cassie heads to small and
Cassie Gambol is on the run. In what seems like another lifetime, her ex-husband nearly ended her life and effectively ended her successful career as a vascular surgeon. But even though the justice system found him guilty of attempted murder, he fled while awaiting sentencing and Carly Sunderland became Cassie Gambol. Fleeing Los Angeles, Cassie heads to small and off-the-map Petal, Georgia, to start her life again. Shane Chase, a man who's held himself away from commitment since his fiancée dumped him several years before, knows the beautiful newcomer is hiding something. He's wildly attracted to her strength and her underlying vulnerability as well. But the last thing Cassie wants is another big, overwhelming man who wants to control her life.A battle begins between Shane, who knows what he wants and Cassie, who tries to keep a distance between herself and the very handsome sheriff. But Cassie's ex is back and he wants her dead.
Dane's second series installment (after Giving Chase) brings fresh romance, and fresh danger, to the Chase family. Beautiful, mysterious newcomer Cassie Gambol instantly captivates the citizens of Petal, GA. No one is more hooked than Shane Chase, the handsome town sheriff. Once Cassie finally reveals her dark secrets, Shane promises to make her future brighter than that which she left behind. But Cassie's ghosts come back to haunt her when abusive ex-husband Terry shows up to finish what he'd attempted years ago. Dane's rich writing adds a layer of sensuality not often seen in explicit erotica. Fans of her previous works will not be disappointed by the powerful sex scenes that blend equal parts passion and emotion, although the very frequent references to past domestic abuse could be triggering for some readers. Aletha George narrates Dane's sophisticated text with a lively timbre, imbuing this intriguing tale with even more depth. VERDICT Recommended for erotic-romance fans.—Ashleigh Williams, Library Journal
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By Lauren Dane
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.Copyright © 2006 Lauren Dane
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThree weeks after Cassie had started at the store, she and Penny were closing up when Maggie came in.
"Hiya, Penny. Hey, Cassie, I saw you had some pretty flowers on your front porch. Looks nice. Kyle was impressed when we stopped over at Matt's on the weekend."
Cassie just smiled. It wasn't like she could get a word in edgewise with Maggie Chase if she tried. But as it turned out, Maggie, like the rest of the Chase clan was simply a nice person and fun to be around.
"It looked so forlorn, I wanted to make it more colorful. Just trying to make it a home, you know? What are you up to?"
"Well, I have an ulterior motive for being here. You and I haven't really hung out much and I'm on my way to The Pumphouse for some beer and staring at some Chase brothers. Tonight is their pool game and really, we just gossip and watch tight butts in faded jeans. Sounds good doesn't it? What do you say? You and Penny should come and hang out."
How long had it been since she'd gone out with girlfriends for beer and burgers? And pool? "Pool?" Cassie grinned. "Really?" She loved pool. Before marrying Terry, she'd played several times a week at the tavern near the medical school. After they'd gotten married, he'd bought a table for the house. Of course he couldn't deal with losing so eventually she refused to play with him.
But as Brian was so fond of telling her, she had to start living her life again and who cared what Terry did or didn't do? He was long gone.
"From that slightly scary look in your face I take it you play? Those boys play every Friday night. I'm sure they'd love for you to join them."
"Shane would," Penny said as she locked up the back door and came toward them. Cassie blushed and Penny chuckled. "Come on, Cassie. Anyone with eyes can see how he looks at you. He's smitten."
"I uh. Well, he's just being nice. And I think he suspects I'm up to no good. But yes, I love pool. Or I did. I haven't in a few years. I used to be pretty good."
"Well then I think some beer, gossip and watching you play pool with some handsome boys is just the ticket." Maggie grinned and they all headed out.
Liv and Dee were already waiting at a table near the doors when they arrived. Once seated, Cassie tried to pretend that she wasn't watching every move Shane Chase made. The man was so big and bad but there wasn't anything threatening about him despite that. She loved the color of his hair, sort of coffee brown with a hint of blond. He had a savage kind of handsome that she found herself thinking of during the day. Many times during the day.
Forcing herself to focus on the women at the table, she tried to put him out of her mind. She did not need any more men.
As if he felt her gaze on his skin, Shane turned and noticed her there with Maggie and the others. So tall and striking. She stood out every time he saw her. The woman was seriously beautiful.
"Oh for cripes sake! Just go over there already." Kyle took his shot and rolled his eyes as he straightened. "You look like a starving man. It's pathetic."
"Yeah, the last time I saw that look you were wearing it." Marc chuckled. "Go on, Shane."
"I will, only because you three won't shut up until I do. Bunch of old women." He leaned his cue off to the side and headed toward their table.
"Hi, Cassie. Nice to see you here."
Cassie looked up at him and smiled hesitantly. She'd lost most of her fear with him but there was still a shadow of it in her eyes. He wanted to wipe it away.
"Hi, Shane. How are you all tonight? Who's winning?"
The sound of her voice, smoky sex and velvet seduction, stroked over his skin and made his gut tighten.
"Cassie here loves to play pool," Maggie said with a grin.
Shane adored his meddling sister-in-law at that moment. "That so? Well, show me what you've got, then." He held out his hand and Cassie scooted out of the booth, grabbing his forearm instead to help herself stand.
The shock of the cool, soft skin of her hand touching his arm shot through his body. As always, she seemed so many things at once. Strong and independent, yet vulnerable and scared. And he was seriously messed up if a woman's hand on his arm made him cow eyed. He was so pathetic he wanted to kick his own ass.
He motioned toward the table in the back and she walked ahead of him. Which was fine with him. He had no problem at all watching the delectable sway of her denim-clad ass. And it was a mighty fine ass, Round and high and juicy. Did she wear a thong? Boyshort type panties would look nice too, just a nice little slice of her cheeks showing out the bottom. Okay that had to stop or he'd be embarrassed in about a minute or so.
"Cassie's gonna play a game with us. She says she used to be pretty good. So let's take it easy on her." Shane cleared his throat and thought about the college football scores to get rid of the substantial hard on she'd given him.
Rolling her eyes, she grabbed a cue and chalked the tip. All four men watched, rapt, as she blew off the excess. Annoyed, Shane elbowed Matt and glared daggers at Marc but both men just shrugged and Kyle laughed.
"Rack 'em up, boys."
Oh, the way she said that made his heart stutter. Didn't matter what she said, he was sure she'd sound drop dead sexy ordering a grilled cheese sandwich.
"Ante's ten bucks," Matt said with a wink.
Cassie snorted, pulled a ten out of her jeans and slapped it down on the side of the table.
"Ladies first," Shane said, motioning for her to go ahead.
"You sure about that?" She stood, hand on her hip.
"Of course. Guests and ladies first."
Cassie shrugged and took her first shot and proceeded to wipe the floor with them. Shot after shot, she'd call and sink it. She cleared the table without breaking a sweat.
Turning back to them, a sexy grin broke over her lips. Satisfied, she grabbed the money and tucked it into her pocket. "Thanks boys. That was a very profitable few minutes."
"You're a pool shark!" Shane had been dumbfounded but now he found himself even more attracted by this mystery woman. Okay, so watching her bent over the table as she played helped a bit too.
"Nah, not anymore. See I could have played dumb and suckered you in until the pot was much bigger and then kicked your asses. But I played true from the first shot. I wasn't even sure I could still play this well. I'm glad I still have it." She smiled and Shane's cock sprang from hard to impossibly hard.
"You guys underestimated me." She patted her pocket. "The element of surprise, boys. Kept me in milk money." Her laugh was honeyed sexual heat.
"Another game?" Shane wanted her there longer.
"I need to be getting home. I have to be up early to get all of my stock ready for the Sunday market day after tomorrow. It was a pleasure taking your money, though. Enjoy the evening." She waved back over her shoulder as she walked away.
"Totally devious." He shook his head in wonder. "She's the perfect woman." Shane watched her go to the table and say her goodbyes to the women there. "I'm going to be sure she gets home okay." Blindly, he shoved his cue at one of his brothers, heading toward the door that she'd just walked out of.
"Cassie." He'd noticed how prone to spooking she was so he made sure to always make a lot of noise when he approached her.
She turned, a bit startled but relaxed when she saw it was him. "Hello, Shane. What's wrong?" He looked good coming toward her. Handsome and masculine.
"I just thought I'd offer you a ride home. Police escort and everything."
"Oh, that's all right. I have my car just up in front of the bookstore."
"I'll walk you to it then."
He didn't give her much chance to run away when he fell into step next to her. The heat of his body rolled over her as they walked. The more she was around him, the less he scared her, but still, it was hard to not cringe when he walked so close to her. He just took the world for granted. Lived without fear of being assaulted or raped. Men his size could walk around any time without worry. She wished she knew what that felt like. For even just a few minutes.
He was patient as she unlocked her car but stopped her from getting in with a gentle hand at her shoulder. "Cassie, uh, would you like to get dinner sometime? Maybe go dancing?"
"I ... well, I don't know if I'm ready to date just yet." Her words came out in a rush and the tenderness she brought out in him bloomed through his heart. Damn, what was it about this woman that got to him so deeply?
"Just yet? Are you with someone? I should have asked." He knew she was divorced of course. Nothing stayed a secret very long in Petal. Hell, her landlord share that tidbit innocently enough the first night she'd landed in Petal and Shane had done a background check as well.
"Not anymore. I'm divorced."
He wasn't sure what emotion was in her voice as she'd said it. Sadness? Did she miss the ex? Pain? Was she afraid? It was petty of him but he far preferred that she hated her ex than her still wanting him. "Oh, it's still new. I'm sorry."
He tried to stay patient as possible, watching as she took deep breath and licked her lips before deciding to answer him. "It's not really new. I'm not pining away for him or anything. It's ... complicated." Her voice trembled at bit at the end and he locked his knees to keep from moving to her.
The fear was there, unmistakable. "I know you're afraid of something. You can trust me, you know. I want to help. You can share your story with me. I like you, Cassie." His voice was soft and he had to grip the top of her car door to keep from reaching out to touch her.
Her big blue eyes looked up at him for long moments, wavering. But at the last minute she looked away for a split second and when she looked back, the moment had passed. "I'm ... it's not something I like to talk about. Anyway, I should be getting home."
"Just come as my friend then. I won't rush you. I want to get to know you. Unless you're not attracted to me at all. In which case, I'll back off anything other than just being friends."
She sighed. "I'll think about it." She got into the car and then rolled down the window. "And any woman not attracted to you is blind or a damn fool."
Before he could respond, she'd pulled out and was driving away, leaving him wearing a goofy grin.
Excerpted from Taking Chase by Lauren Dane Copyright © 2006 by Lauren Dane. 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
Lauren Dane is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of many novels and novellas in a variety of genres, including the Bound by Magick novels, the Cascadia Wolves series, and the Chase Brothers series. She lives in the Northwest with her husband and children. Aletha George grew up in a home surrounded by romance-shelves of it, Avon, Ballantine, Harlequin-and the classic movies of the 1940s and '50s. She is a passionate reader, writer, and audiobook narrator. She believes in happily ever after.
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