"When it comes to dishing up great romantic suspense, St. Claire is the author you want." Romantic Times
Then You Hide (Bullet Catchers Series #5)by Roxanne St. Claire
When Bullet Catcher Wade Cordell is offered a cushy assignment to track down a woman on vacation in the Caribbean and persuade her to meet her birth mother, the secret ops sharpshooter decides it's the perfect antidote to his stressful job. Except spirited and sassy Vanessa Porter isn't on vacation, she's on a hunt for a friend who has disappeared. Wade's/i>… See more details below
When Bullet Catcher Wade Cordell is offered a cushy assignment to track down a woman on vacation in the Caribbean and persuade her to meet her birth mother, the secret ops sharpshooter decides it's the perfect antidote to his stressful job. Except spirited and sassy Vanessa Porter isn't on vacation, she's on a hunt for a friend who has disappeared. Wade's news doesn't faze a woman who swims with the sharks on Wall Street Vanessa knows she's adopted and has no intention of meeting or helping the woman who gave her up in a black market scheme. But as it becomes clear that her missing friend is deep in hiding and deeper in trouble, Vanessa strikes a shaky bargain with the sexy bodyguard who's an expert at finding people who don't want to be found. How high a price will she have to pay the Bullet Catcher willing to put his life on the line for her? Will she sacrifice her pride . . . her heart . . . even her life?
Ambitious investment banker Vanessa Porter is hot on the trail of her friend Clive, who has disappeared in the Caribbean. On her heels is sexy Wade Cordell, of the security-for-hire Bullet Catchers: Wade has a plea for Vanessa from the birth mother she has tried to forget, recently incarcerated Eileen Stafford. Wade, who thought catching up with Vanessa and delivering the message would be a cinch, soon struggles to protect Vanessa from people who want to throw her off Clive's trailor worse. Meanwhile, other Bullet Catchers (from St. Claire's First You Run) dig into the truth behind Eileen's arrest. Vanessa is a spitfire of a heroine, dedicated to her friends and passionate about her life, and Wade is the quintessential Southern gentleman warrior. The plot, while disjointed, pulls itself together enjoyably. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Charleston, South Carolina, 1978
"Well, look what we have here. The prettiest little suspect in Charleston County." The fluorescent lights cast a sick, yellow shadow on the cheeks of the man who'd just entered the interrogation room.
Eileen Stafford straightened in the uncomfortable wooden chair and met his gaze. "Where's my lawyer?"
"He's comin', sweetheart. He's comin'. Mind if I sit down?" Across the table, he yanked out the other chair, flipped it around, and spread his legs around the back. "You remember me, don't you?"
As if she could forget the man who'd tried to blind her with a flashlight, cut her with handcuffs, and insult her from the front seat of his squad car.
She sat silent. Because anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
"We met the other night out on Ashley Bridge." He lifted thick black eyebrows and crinkled his forehead, all friendly and social.
She glared back at him. "Pretty convenient, you and your partner just cruising along looking for people driving away from crime scenes."
"Oh, now, honey, you know what happened. Someone saw you running and called the cops. While we were following you lead-footin' out of Charleston, Ms. Sloane's body was found." He held out his hands to imply that this happened all the time to a good cop.
Or a very bad one.
Didn't he realize this case was so flimsy you could see through it? She'd seen the murder; she'd witnessed it! She knew who did it, yet she sat here, sweating, waiting for a lawyer who was supposed to be here hours ago. When he came, she could tell him who pulled the trigger and who put that gun on the passenger seat of her car a gun she'd never touched.
But would she have the nerve to tell the truth? To take on the most powerful man in the county? The thought made her stomach roll.
"Why'd you do it, Miss Stafford?"
She bit her lip to keep from saying a word.
"It is miss, isn't it?" Hazel eyes dropped to her chest. "Sure it is. I've seen you around the courthouse. You're a flirty little thing. Real friendly with all the lawyers and judges. You're a legal secretary. Just like...the deceased."
"Which makes me smart enough to know I get a lawyer before I talk to anybody."
He chuckled, propping his elbows on the table and locking his hands into a little shelf for his chin. "And smart enough to know that the South Carolina legal system don't always work as right as it should."
She fought a quiver, unwilling to let him see her fear. "I'm not going to talk to you, Officer."
"Then how 'bout you listen to me...Leenie."
Oh, God only one person on earth called her that. Which meant whatever this cop was about to say was a direct message from him.
"Listen real careful, okay?" His look made her heart wallop against her ribs. "I'm gonna offer you a fine deal."
"A deal?" Or her worst nightmare? The man who had destroyed her happiness, forcing her to make a decision she would regret until the day she died that man could do anything. He could lie, cheat, steal, and, oh, Godamighty, he could kill.
"Real simple, this deal. You tell your lawyer exactly how you killed Wanda, how you were hidin' right there in that alley, just waitin' to pounce on the gal who'd taken your place as the prettiest legal secretary in the courthouse, and "
"I wasn't waiting for "
" and we'll make sure you don't have to sit in the hot seat." One corner of his thin-lipped mouth slid up. "You know what I mean by the hot seat, don't you, Leenie?"
"There hasn't been an electrocution in this state since 1962."
"Capital punishment is alive and well in the state of South Carolina, darlin'. In the hands of" he bared straight, shiny teeth "the right judge."
Eileen closed her eyes. She'd known this was coming. Ever since she'd hidden behind that brick wall in Philadelphia Alley and watched her former lover put a bullet into Wanda Sloane, she'd known she couldn't run far, and she couldn't hide for long. Not from him.
"It's a simple deal. You tell the lawyer just what happened, Leenie. And in exchange..." He shrugged, as if the rest were obvious.
"Say it," she insisted hoarsely. "You have to say it."
He leaned close. "Sign the piece of paper pleading guilty... and nothing will happen to your baby."
She knew it.
"I don't have a baby."
That statement would be the truth in a deposition. She didn't have a baby. She'd had three. But he didn't know that. No one in Charleston knew that.
"You have a child," he said in a patronizing tone. "'Course, you sold the poor li'l fatherless bastard. But anyone can be..." He took out a handkerchief, blew his nose, let the unfinished sentence hang in the air. "... found with the right people pulling the strings."
She stared at him.
He folded his hanky and stuffed it into a breast pocket. "And you know, sweetheart, those black-market babies are not always the healthiest. They've been known to just die in their li'l cribs."
That murdering, lying son of a bitch. Would he kill his own daughter?
Of course he would. He was capable of anything. He bought cops like this sleazebucket, bought juries, bought witnesses, bought loyalty. Hell, he'd bought her.
But he only knew she'd gone to the farmhouse on Sapphire Trail to have a baby. No one except the nurse, the lady who owned the place, and one of the sets of adoptive parents knew she'd had triplets that night eight months ago.
Three tiny, helpless baby girls who were all sold to strangers. He only knew of one, but she didn't know which one. Any of those tiny babies could be his victim, unless she...
"Make this deal." Impatience edged his voice. "Or she dies."
Right now, her daughters were safe and loved. And marked. If they ever found one another, would that tell them the story of what their mother did and why? All that mattered was that they lived. Her life was worthless without them, anyway.
"Okay," she said in defeat.
He pushed away from the table and sauntered to the door with a lazy, cocky grin. "I heard you were a very smart girl, Leenie. Guess it's true." He pulled the door open, and she heard him say, "The suspect is ready to bargain."
Eileen dropped her head into her hands. Maybe someday, her babies would forgive her for selling them to strangers. And if they ever discovered who gave them birth, maybe they'd understand why, eight months after they were born, she'd shouldered the blame for a crime she didn't commit.
Copyright © 2008 by Roxanne St. Claire
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