They hunt a killer who will stop at nothing to protect his identity, even if that means threatening the one link between them—their son.
When Staff Sergeant Rowan McKinley is charged with murder, she wants the best defense counsel the Marine Corps has to offer—Captain Phillip Stuart. Seeking his help means opening old wounds. It’s a risk she must take to save herself.
Phillip swore he’d never have anything to do with the one woman who had not only broken his heart but had crushed it. Helping her was personal suicide. But professionally, it could be the coup de grace of his career—that next rung on the ladder, the next challenge he was looking for.
The love and passion each thought gone sparks to life—only now it is forbidden by military law. Knowing the rules and adhering to them are very different matters. But who should make the sacrifice when both are destined to soar to the top of their ranks?
The choice might be taken from their hands. There is a killer with just as much to lose who will stop at nothing to protect his identity, even if that means threatening the one link between Phillip and Rowan—the son Phillip never knew he had.
About the Author
Blessed (or cursed) with a vivid imagination, Caitlyn Willows eventually learned to turn that talent inward. Readers will find deep emotions and sizzling sensuality seamlessly woven into her action-filled stories. Believing life is to be lived and felt, not merely watched, Caitlyn delivers real-to-life characters in unforgettable tales of love, adventure, and always steamy passion. No one is more surprised than she at the direction life has taken her. She is also a mosaic artist and an avid crafter with a passion for cross-stitch. Caitlyn lives in the beautiful desert of Southern California with her husband (a genealogist). She is always on the lookout for the next interesting tidbit that will help fill her writing well.
Read an Excerpt
Copyright © Caitlyn Willows 2017. All Rights Reserved, Totally Entwined Group Limited, T/A Totally Bound Publishing.
Always faithful. Semper Fi. Captain Phillip Stuart shook his head at the term. ‘Faithful’ didn’t include forcing yourself on young girls or stealing cash out of a platoon buddy’s locker when they were out to sea on a training mission.
What has the Marine Corps come to? Thieves, murderers and rapists? The lot of them should be taken out and shot.
Of course, doing so would put military lawyers out of a job. Heaven forbid the little slime balls didn’t get a fair trial. Phillip was eternally grateful he no longer dealt with defense cases.
Shifting slightly on the hard courtroom chair, he straightened his papers and listened to the continuing drone of the defense attorney’s voice as she pled her client’s case. He didn’t know why she bothered. The look on the jurors’ faces indicated they had already found him guilty. It didn’t matter what extenuating or mitigating matters she threw out. Her client would go to jail for a very long time. He shifted again and let the squeaking wooden chair show his annoyance.
Laura Cushing shot him a glare from where she stood before the members. Good. He’d broken her concentration. Not easy to do. She was a tough opponent. But this long, drawn-out trial was stretching all their nerves to the breaking point.
After a few closing words, Laura sat, looking satisfied with herself. She was good. He was better.
Phillip stretched to his full six-four height and flexed his shoulders. With all the stealth of a jaguar stalking its prey, he approached the center of the courtroom.
Intimidate the witness. Impress the members. That was half the battle. A deep breath, a casual glance toward his opponent’s table, then…
He attacked, going straight to the heart of the case. He dissected Laura’s defense point by point, pulling apart the pieces with the precision of a surgeon. He let his words drift into the minds of those military members seated as the jury. Then, with the same lack of speed, he resumed his seat. The chair groaned under his weight.
Phillip sliced a glance at the defense table. The accused sat there, a fresh-faced young man all of nineteen. His big hands were clasped before him as if in prayer. It set Phillip’s teeth on edge. What right does he have to pray? Those young girls had begged and prayed before he’d forced himself on them. Had he listened?
Laura snapped to her feet and marched forward to take his place. It was no use. All the golden words she summoned could not save her client. Phillip knew it and so did she. After thirty minutes of deliberation, the members of the jury and the rest of the courtroom had realized it, too.
Phillip listened to the sentence with smug satisfaction. Twenty-five years at Leavenworth. That was what he called justice, although castration might not be a bad idea either.
In the back of the courtroom, one set of parents cried while the others—those of the victims—sighed with relief. The accused—the guilty—let his head drop. It was the only display of emotion he showed. No tears. No regrets. He didn’t flinch. Phillip fought the urge to demand to know if the man felt remorse for anyone but himself.
Once the judge had left the courtroom, the prisoner escort came in. Then the young Marine started bawling. Yeah, he had regrets—that he’d been caught. His father refused to look his way while his mother rushed to his side. She wrapped her arms around him in a hug he refused to return.
Rather than watch the guy be hauled away in shackles, Phillip celebrated his victory with a cigar on the back steps of the military justice building. How many times had he reflected on past and future glories in such a way? Lately, though, the battles left his stomach sour, more often than not.
There wasn’t much he hadn’t heard over his career. Most of it sickened rather than shocked him. Now, prosecuting the rabble of the Marine Corps tired him. Time to reach for the next rung on the ladder.
After graduating law school, he’d thought the way had shone clear, focused, his career path set. He shook his head. His goals had been regimented at the time. They had been all he’d had—a means to forget.
Unfortunately, they were still all he had. Phillip wasn’t sure he wanted those same goals anymore.
The door opened behind him. A rush of cool air brushed over his shoulders and back then stopped when the door closed. Phillip knew without looking that it was Laura. He could smell her perfume—an elusive scent that evoked memories of a long-ago time and someone else he wished he could forget.
She dusted off the step and eased down beside him, careful not to snag her hose on the concrete. Resting her forearms on her knees, she stared ahead.
“Congratulations. Another victory for the great and powerful Phillip Stuart.”
He chewed on his cigar and absorbed the view of the gray mountains surrounding Camp Pendleton.
“Sarcasm, Laura? How unlike you.”