Without You
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Without You

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by Mary Lynn Baxter

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Gaining back trust is hard enough…

Jackson Cole is shocked when he hears a troubled friend has been found murdered in a New Orleans hotel room—and he's the prime suspect in her death. Jackson realizes he has to fight for his life, but the one person he can count on is the last person he should call: Hallie Hunter, the most gifted


Gaining back trust is hard enough…

Jackson Cole is shocked when he hears a troubled friend has been found murdered in a New Orleans hotel room—and he's the prime suspect in her death. Jackson realizes he has to fight for his life, but the one person he can count on is the last person he should call: Hallie Hunter, the most gifted attorney he knows…and his ex-fiancée.

Especially when you're being set up for murder

Divorce attorney Hallie Hunter can hardly keep her composure when Jackson walks through her door, begging her to represent him. It can mean only one thing—she will have to spend time alone with the man who once violated her trust…the only man she has ever loved. And to make matters more complicated, the murder victim was at the root of their final split. But as the case steers her toward a dangerous underworld, Hallie must help Jackson confront a devastating truth—and must decide for herself if she can ever live without him again.

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Without You

By Mary Baxter

Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.

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

ISBN: 0-7783-2051-0

Chapter One

The wheels on the cleaning carts squeaked as they lumbered along the otherwise silent hallway. Once the carts touched noses, the two housekeepers grinned at each other.

"How many more rooms you got to clean today?" Myrtle Tittle, short and plump, reached up and straightened her askew blond wig.

Clara Means, equally plump but taller in stature to Myrtle, pursed her thin lips, deepening the Howdy Doody lines around her mouth. "A lot. How 'bout you?"

"I'm in the same boat."

"Me and my old man are supposed to go dancing tonight," Clara said, "but it don't look like that's gonna happen. After today, I'll be ready to drop. I'd sure like to know where all these folks come from."

Myrtle scratched under the wig. "Me, too. This hotel ain't ever been this crowded. Something going on we don't know about?"

"Probably something to do with Elvis and that great big old house of his." Clara gritted her teeth. "I just wish they'd let him rest in peace."

"That's not going to happen," Myrtle replied with a sigh. "The poor man's been dug up and replanted so many times, he'll never get no peace."

"Good thing it's not our problem. Guess we'd best get to work before we get caught visiting. You know how Connie hates for us to stop and talk."

"Maybe if she had a man, she wouldn't be so up-tight."

Clara chuckled, then sobered. "She can have mine. He'll whip her into shape real quick-like."

"So would mine. Look, I'll check you later."

Clara nodded, then shoved her cart on down the hallway. "See ya," she threw back over her shoulder.

The blonde turned and knocked on the door, then called out, "Housekeeping."

No answer. She pecked again. When another silence greeted her, Myrtle breathed a sigh of relief. There was no Do Not Disturb sign visible, so at least she wouldn't have to return. Not only was the hotel full, but the visitors were plumb lazy.

Once she had propped the door open and walked inside, she pulled up short, her feathers wilting. The woman occupant was sitting at the table with the side of her face resting on the top. Must've tied one on last night, the maid thought to herself, disgust charging through her.

"Ma'am," she said in a soft tone. When she received no answer, Myrtle upped her volume.

Not only didn't the woman answer, but she didn't so much as twitch a muscle. The maid stepped closer. "Ma'am, it's housekeeping."

Still no reaction. Frowning, Myrtle did something she'd never done to a guest. She touched her on the arm, then watched in horror as the woman slid off the chair onto the floor.

Stumbling backward, Myrtle muttered, "Oh sweet Lord." Then turning, she ran back out into the hall. "Help! Someone help!"

Jackson Cole started his day off with a five-mile run. He'd need the stamina the run provided to get him through the grueling hours that lay ahead. More than anything, he enjoyed his morning ritual.

Fall in Memphis was glorious, and he made every effort to take advantage of it. Mother Nature usually chose the last few weeks of October to start painting the leaves their brilliant colors. This year was no exception.

He jogged in a park near his home, where the trees had exploded into fiery colors; his favorites were the huge red oaks. A cool front had blown in last night, and his shoes slapped the fallen leaves. He guessed he could run all day. Only because his desk at the club had been piled high with work did he quit.

Now, hours later, as he stood at the window in his plush office and stared out on to Beale Street, he felt the afternoon sunshine on his body. It radiated through the glass with warmth and light. He moved his tense shoulders up and down, feeling the heat relax him. As predicted, his day had been a mother.

He loved Elan, his upscale restaurant and bar on Beale Street, with a passion. But lately, things had not been going his way, and the timing couldn't be worse. He'd been well on the way to scaling back on his work, trying to get a life outside the club, when the trouble had started.

The problem was, he didn't know what to do about it. So far, he'd kept his mouth shut and tried to deal with things on his own. How long that ploy would work was anyone's guess. But he knew he was taking a chance by playing such a dangerous game.

A sigh filtered through Jackson as he moved his shoulders again, keeping his muscles loose. He turned and stared at his desk, relieved to see that some of the paperwork had been dealt with even though he'd been mentally distracted.

The only item on the day's agenda left hanging was searching for a new band. The dance floor at Elan was one of the largest and best maintained, which allowed the club to attract top-notch entertainers. Without them, the floor would be empty, thus greatly reducing his clientele. He couldn't allow that to happen.

However, his assistant and friend Terrance Mayfield, could take care of finding the perfect group. All Jackson had to do was give the final okay.

"You got a minute?"

Jackson swung around and faced his assistant as Terrance sauntered into the room. He motioned for him to take a seat. "Your timing's on the money."

"How so?" Terrance asked, plopping down in one of the fine leather chairs adjacent to Jackson's desk.

"Looks to me like you've tackled the pile of papers like you were fighting a war." He paused with a grin. "A war you've obviously won."

For a minute, Jackson didn't speak, thinking how lucky he was to have Terrance. His body was toned but solid, bearing testimony to his long hours in a gym. His groomed mustache and beard surprisingly didn't detract from or hide his charming smile. When it came to fraternizing with the customers, he was a smooth operator.

Although Jackson paid him out the kazoo, money didn't necessarily buy loyalty. And loyalty was Terrance's trademark. When he left Terrance in charge, Jackson never worried about the day-to-day operations.

"I didn't quite cover everything," Jackson finally said.

"Anything I can handle?"

"Yeah, finding us a new band ASAP."

Terrance's dark eyebrows rose in a question. "Aw, hell, don't tell me The Jammers quit?"

"They did. Apparently they had a squabble that couldn't be resolved."

"Damn, what a crock. They were the best we've had in a long time."

"I agree, but we have no choice but to move onward and hopefully upward."

"I'll get on it pronto."

"When you've narrowed the choice to two, let me know."


Excerpted from Without You by Mary Baxter 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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Without You 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I liked this book, the plot and the characters, but the whole Roberta, the victim, thing had me completely confused. Jackson knew her all those years, she was obsessed with him, but he didn¿t return her feelings. He saw her periodically (and where was she the rest of the time). Yet he never picked up on it? Wouldn¿t she have been trying to seduce him and get him to marry her? She obviously thought he loved her since she told Hallie that, so how could Jackson not know and if he did then he was just encouraging her. He lied to Hallie even though he knew how much trust meant to her and was stunned when she walked out of his life? And he never realized that it wasn¿t the trust issue as much as the fact that he appeared to be choosing Roberta over her. By the same token Hallie should have told him & perhaps they could have reached a compromise. For example, he could have agreed to only see Roberta if Hallie was with him. Not only would it have reassured Hallie but it also would have made it clear to Roberta where she stood. I kept thinking this would all be cleared up by the end of the book, but it never was. Still it was a good read and kept me interested.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Despite the fact that Jackson Cole broke her heart,attorney Hallie Hunter agrees to help when he is suspected of killing Roberta Klein. As the lastknown person to see her, he's the prime suspect. Furthermore, there is ample evidence to seal the case against him, a detective who has no respect for civil rights after him, and Jackson has a link to organized crime. He's obviously either guilty or the victim of a set up, and in as much danger as Roberta was. Making matters more complex, all the old feelings are coming back to life between the attorney and her client. ........................ To enjoy this story, though it is filled with vibrant characters, you will have to twist your mind around the idea of a divorce attorney handling a murder case. Once you've done that, the plot is complex and fast paced. If you can get past the illogic, you will enjoy it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In Memphis, Detective Gomez questions club owner Jackson Cole as the last known person to see Roberta Klein alive. Jackson saw Roberta last night, but someone, and he is the prime suspect, strangled her. Jackson turns to his former fiancée, Hallie Hunter for legal help though she is not a criminal attorney................................ Besides being a divorce lawyer, Hallie wants to tell Jackson she cannot represent him because he destroyed her trust in him with his betrayal of her though he remains the only man she ever loved. Adding to her reluctance is that Roberta was at the heart of their break up. Still she agrees to represent him starting with ¿uncocking¿ cocky detective Gomez, who blithely tramples on constitutional rights. As the evidence mounts that Jackson killed Roberta in a lover¿s spat, he and Hallie realize they still love one another, but either he did the deed or an insider set him up to take the fall................................... Once the audience accepts that Hallie as an adept criminal lawyer though that is not her discipline and that Jackson insists on her rather than her recommended specialist in a homicide situation, fans will appreciate a wonderful romantic legal thriller. Jackson and Hallie are delightful protagonists while Detective Gomez makes an ideal antagonist who serves in some ways as the matchmaker who brings the duo back together. Though the résumé of the villain becomes obvious late, but should have been known, Mary Lynn Baxter provides a strong romantic suspense........................... Harriet Klausner