As Good as Dead (Cherokee Pointe Trilogy #3)

As Good as Dead (Cherokee Pointe Trilogy #3)

by Beverly Barton

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Overview

As Good as Dead (Cherokee Pointe Trilogy #3) by Beverly Barton

WHAT SHE DOESN’T KNOW . . .
The victims are all found face-down in the murky waters of the creek that runs through Cherokee Pointe, Tennessee. They are naked, except for the black satin ribbon tied around their necks. And each murdered woman shares a single characteristic . . . they are all redheads . . .
 
JUST MIGHT . . .
Socialite Reve Sorrell has come to Cherokee Pointe seeking answers about her family history and her shocking connection to wrong-side-of-the-tracks Jazzy Talbot. With their stunning good looks and shining red hair, the two are mirror images of each other—twins abandoned at birth and raised in very different worlds. And whoever left them for dead on a cold night thirty years ago isn’t about to let them uncover the truth now . . .
 
KILL HER
As a serial killer leaves another chilling calling card in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, Reve turns to Sheriff Jacob Butler to help her unravel the potentially deadly secrets of her past. But someone will do anything to stop her . . . someone who won’t make the same mistake twice . . . someone more cunning than she knows . . . and closer than she ever could imagine . . .
 
“A powerful story that kept me up very late—with all the lights on. With a villain you won’t soon forget and nail-biting suspense, AS GOOD AS DEAD is about as good as it gets.”
—Kay Hooper

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786041022
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: 07/31/2018
Series: Cherokee Pointe Trilogy Series , #3
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 278,865
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Beverly Barton was an award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of more than fifty novels, including Silent Killer, Cold Hearted, The Murder Game and Close Enough to Kill. Readers can visit her website at www.beverlybarton.com.

Date of Birth:

December 23, 1946

Date of Death:

April 21, 2011

Place of Birth:

Tuscumbia, AL

Place of Death:

Tuscumbia, AL

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Reve Sorrell closed the lid on her suitcase, lifted it off the foot of her bed and set it on the floor. She'd been up for over an hour, after waking at three, unable to sleep. Her decision to return to Cherokee Pointe had been made after a great deal of deliberation. She'd spent months unable to put Jazzy Talbot out of her mind. Back in the spring she'd driven up to the mountains to seek out the woman Jamie Upton had told her was her spitting image, a woman who looked enough like her to be her twin. She'd met Jamie at a party here in Chattanooga, back before Christmas last year. He'd been a charming jerk, the type of man she usually avoided. But he had piqued her curiosity when he'd mentioned that his teenage sweetheart, a bar and restaurant owner in Cherokee Pointe, could easily pass for Reve's twin.

If she hadn't been an abandoned child, adopted in infancy by wealthy socialites, Spencer and Lesley Sorrell, she'd have passed off Jamie's comments without a second thought. But since she knew nothing about her birth parents, she'd wondered if it was possible that this Jasmine Talbot Jamie had mentioned could be her sister. So she'd disregarded what her common sense had told her — not to go digging around in the past — and had gone to Cherokee Pointe.

Her first encounter with Jazzy had been less than pleasant. She'd found the woman to be rather crude and vulgar. They had disliked each other on sight. And Reve would have returned home that very day, if she hadn't been involved in a minor car accident.

As if wrecking her Jag hadn't been bad enough, following the accident, the local sheriff had treated her abysmally. Sheriff Jacob Butler was an old friend of Jazzy's and took offense at an offhand comment Reve made about the woman. It had seemed to Reve as if half the men in town were Jazzy's friends, a fact Reve had learned both firsthand and from local gossip.

To complicate matters now that she was returning to Cherokee Pointe, she'd been plagued by thoughts of the big, surly, half-breed sheriff. He was a thoroughly unpleasant sort. A real ruffian. After their initial encounter, she had hoped she would never see the man again. But when Jamie Upton was murdered while she was still in town and a witness identified a woman fitting Jazzy's description — and therefore her description — as having been seen with Jamie shortly before his death, Sheriff Butler had come knocking on her door. He'd had the gall to practically accuse her of the murder, had in fact assumed — erroneously — that Jamie and she had been lovers. Naturally, it hadn't taken the authorities long to realize she wasn't involved in the crime, so she had, thankfully, been able to escape from Cherokee Pointe and the watchful eyes of the Neanderthal sheriff.

Upon returning to Chattanooga, to her home on Lookout Mountain and her own set of friends and business associates, she'd tried to put her less than pleasant experiences in Cherokee Pointe behind her. She hadn't wanted to think about Jazzy or the fact that they did in fact resemble each other in a way only twins did. But try as she might, she hadn't been able to erase from her mind the image of her double, a woman of dubious character.

Reve sighed heavily. Would she regret going back to Cherokee Pointe and joining forces with Jazzy to seek the truth about their possible sisterhood? They had spoken on the phone several times recently. Somewhat reluctantly, Reve had made that first call. Thirty years ago, someone had thrown her into a Dumpster in Sevierville and left her for dead. She'd been an infant, possibly only days or weeks old at the time. However, Jazzy's Aunt Sally, who had raised her from a baby, swore that her sister Corrine had given birth to only one child. Was Sally Talbot lying? Or was there some other explanation? Reve knew she'd never have any peace of mind until she found out the truth — the whole truth.

She hadn't intended to leave Chattanooga this early. It wasn't quite four-thirty. But why not go ahead and get on the road? If she left now, she'd be in Cherokee Pointe by the time Jasmine's opened and she could have breakfast at the restaurant before meeting Jazzy at Dr. MacNair's office around nine. They had agreed that DNA testing was the first step in discovering the truth about their past.

Not wanting to bother any of the servants at this ungodly hour, she heaved her suitcase off the bed. As she walked through the house and out to the garage, she couldn't help wondering if she was making a monumental mistake. She and Jazzy Talbot had nothing in common, other than a strong physical resemblance — and possibly the same birth parents. Did she really want to form a familial connection with this woman who was, by all standards, socially beneath her and morally inferior? God, Reve, listen to yourself. You sound like the biggest snob in the world. All right, maybe she was a snob. No maybe about it. She was a snob. But she'd been trained by her parents and peers to look down her nose at her inferiors. There you go again, assuming just because she grew up poor, has a reputation as the town tramp and owns a honky-tonk, that Jazzy isn't your equal.

Reve unlocked the trunk of her Jaguar, dumped the suitcase inside, then slid behind the wheel and started the car. Even if Jazzy and she turned out to be twin sisters, that didn't mean they had to become friends. She seriously doubted that Jazzy wanted to build a relationship with her anymore than she wanted one with Jazzy. But there was a need deep inside her to find out the truth — who had thrown her in that Dumpster and why? Had her birth mother thrown her away? If so, why had she disposed of one baby and not both? And if she and Jazzy were twin sisters, why had Jazzy's Aunt Sally lied to her all these years? After the DNA testing confirmed their relationship, the likely place to start their search for the truth was with Sally Talbot. And what a place to start — with a nutty old woman the whole town thought of as a kook.

Reve hit the button to open the garage door, backed out and then closed the door. As she entered the street, she stopped the Jag and took a long, hard look at her home. This house had belonged to her grandparents, Spencer Sorrel's parents, and the plush mansion held only happy memories for Reve. If only she weren't adopted. If only the Sorrells had been her biological mother and father. But her adoptive mother had pointed out to her on numerous occasions that she was a true Sorrell in every way that counted. Except by blood.

As she drove along the steep, twisting street leading off Lookout Mountain, Reve compared the similarities between this road and the one where she'd had her car accident outside Cherokee Pointe. Damn! Why had she thought about that wreck again? Automatically her mind brought Sheriff Butler to the forefront — a vivid image of his hulking six-five frame, his green eyes, his hawk nose, his fierce frown. She intended to do her best to avoid Jacob Butler while she was in Cherokee Pointe. Not only did the man annoy her, but he unnerved her. His nature was a bit too savage to suit her. He'd been more than just downright unfriendly toward her; he'd shown no respect whatsoever for who she was — one of the richest and most powerful women in the state of Tennessee.

Jazzy's orgasm exploded inside her, eliciting a loud, guttural moan from deep in her throat. The powerful sensations went on and on until they finally tapered off into delicious aftershocks. Hot, damp, completely sated, she smothered Caleb with deliriously exuberant kisses. He toppled her off him and onto the bed, his hard penis slipping out of her during the maneuver. Before she had a chance to catch her breath, he thrust up into her. Deep and hard. Once. Twice. And then he came.

Roaring like the male animal he was, Caleb shuddered with release. Moments later, their bodies damp with sex-induced sweat, they lay on their backs, their bodies not touching, only their entwined fingers.

She loved holding hands with Caleb. A sweet, sentimental gesture, but it said so much about their relationship. About who she was when she was with him. About the type of man Caleb McCord was.

Jazzy looked up at the ceiling, stretched languidly and smiled. Sex with Caleb was always like this — explosive and fully satisfying. But there was so much more to their relationship than great sex. They were friends as well as lovers. And they were madly in love, too. Honest to goodness in love.

She didn't know what she'd done to deserve a fabulous guy like Caleb, but she thanked God for him. And with each passing day, she trusted Caleb and the love they shared more and more. Maybe one of these days soon she would be able to accept his marriage proposal. He had asked her to marry him so many times, it had almost become a joke between them.

Almost.

Even now, months after Jamie Upton's death, his memory haunted her. But not in the way Caleb thought it did. On some basic, totally masculine level Caleb was still jealous of Jamie, of the fact that he'd been her first love and her first lover. There was no reason for him to be jealous. She didn't love Jamie. Only the distrust and fear Jamie had instilled in her kept him alive and allowed him to stand between her and Caleb, between her and happiness.

"Jazzy?" Caleb said her name in that lazy, sexy Memphis drawl she loved so well.

"Hm-mm?" She turned sideways and looked at the silhouette of his long, lean body there in the semidarkness of her bedroom. She knew his body as well as she knew her own.

"Marry me."

Her smile widened. She reached over and ran her fingertips up and down his body, from throat to navel.

He grabbed her hand. "I mean it. Marry me. Let's get a license tomorrow and just do it. We'll elope. No fanfare, no —" "No Miss Reba throwing a hissy fit until it's over and done."

"Do not bring my grandmother into this equation. I've told you a thousand times that I don't give a damn what she thinks." Totally naked, Caleb jumped out of bed and grabbed his jeans up off the floor.

Damn it, she'd hurt his feelings by questioning his loyalty to her. Her mind told her that he would never do as Jamie had done and allow Miss Reba to dictate who he could and couldn't marry. But her heart had been broken once by an Upton heir, by the charming, worthless, womanizing Jamie. And her heart was afraid to trust, afraid to believe that Miss Reba didn't wield the same power over Caleb that she had over her other grandson.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm putting on my clothes," Caleb told her.

"Why? You aren't leaving, are you? Please, Caleb, don't go."

He pulled on his jeans, then felt around on the floor until he found his shirt. "I'm just going outside for a few minutes. I need some early morning air to clear my head. I'll be back in a little while."

"I'm sorry."

"It's okay," he said. "Just remember, I'm not Jamie. I'm not walking out on you or giving up on us. Not now or ever. You couldn't beat me off with a stick, honey."

"I know you're not Jamie." When she sat up, the sheet dropped to her waist, exposing her breasts.

"Then stop assuming I'm going to treat you the way he did. I can't stand it when you project his actions onto me."

Caleb turned from her and hastily left the room. Jazzy flipped on the bedside lamp, then got up and headed for the bathroom. Usually they didn't get up this early — and seven-thirty was early for people who didn't go to bed until two in the morning — but she had an appointment to meet Reve Sorrell in Dr. MacNair's office at nine. Galvin had explained to them that the results of the DNA test might take a few weeks, but Reve had informed him that she would pay any extra costs necessary to facilitate a speedy response.

Jazzy turned on the water, waited a couple of minutes for it to heat, and then stepped under the showerhead. As the warm spray doused her, she thought about her future. Her first concern was Caleb. She couldn't keep putting him off. Sooner or later he'd get tired of waiting for her to marry him. The thought of losing him was too terrible to consider, yet she wasn't ready to say yes. There were too many unanswered questions in her life, too many loose ends she had to tie up before she could build a solid future with the man she loved. And she did love Caleb. More than she'd ever thought possible to love a man. But she had to convince him that he was the only man she loved. In order to do that, she had to let go of Jamie completely.

Since Caleb spent most nights at her apartment above Jazzy's Joint, they usually closed the bar together and came upstairs for a late-night meal and then went to bed. She loved being with him, making love with him, sharing her life with him.

So why don't you marry the guy? she heard Lacy Fallon's voice inside her head. Lacy, the bartender at Jazzy's Joint, treated Jazzy like a kid sister, giving her advice and watching out for her.

Don't let what Jamie did to you keep you from findinghappiness with Caleb, Jazzy's best friend Genny Sloan, had told her repeatedly.

Even her own heart advised her to reach out and grab the happiness Caleb offered.

Jazzy bathed hurriedly, washed her hair and emerged from the shower, fresh and clean and clear-headed. By the time she dried her hair and dressed, Caleb would probably be back in the apartment and in the kitchen fixing their breakfast. She smiled to herself. Her Caleb was a man of many talents.

The telephone rang. Who on earth would be calling so early? Everyone knew they slept late. After wrapping a towel around her, Jazzy rushed into the bedroom to answer the phone.

"Hello."

"Jazzy, this is Reve Sorrell. I got an early start so I'm already in town. I'm over at Jasmine's and have just ordered breakfast. Any chance you can join me?"

"Ah ... I just stepped out of the shower, but —" Maybe it was a good idea to touch base with Reve before they went to see Galvin. After all, if it turned out they really were twin sisters, as they suspected, they'd be spending a great deal of time together in the upcoming weeks. They had agreed that if the DNA tests proved they were siblings, they would work together to discover the truth about their parentage.

"If you'd rather not —" Reve said.

"No, it's okay. I'll hurry and dress." Jazzy peeked through the open bedroom door and into the living room. No sign of Caleb. She listened for any sound of him in the kitchen. None.

"It's okay if I bring Caleb along, isn't it?"

"Sure. After all, he is your fiancé, right?"

"He most certainly is. Unofficially."

"Have you two set a date?"

"Not yet." Everyone assumed that sooner or later she'd accept Caleb's proposal — everyone except Caleb's grandmother, one of Cherokee County's grande dames, Reba Upton.

Damn the old bitch!

"Bring him along," Reve said. "I'll go ahead and eat, then have coffee when y'all arrive. Or would you like for me to order for you two and wait?"

"Yes, do that. Just tell Tiffany that Caleb and I will be eating at the restaurant this morning. She knows our usual order."

"See you soon."

"Mm-hm." The dial tone hummed in Jazzy's ear.

Reve Sorrell had been pleasant enough, but not overly friendly. The woman had erected some sort of emotional barrier around herself, one that effectively kept people at bay. If they were twin sisters, how was it possible that their personalities were as different as night is from day? She supposed it all boiled down to the old question about which dominated a person's physical, mental and emotional makeup more — nurture or nature.

Reve Sorrell was a class act. A real lady. Jazzy Talbot was a dame, a broad, a good old gal.

"Jazzy?" Caleb called to her as he entered the living room.

"Huh?"

"Want me to put on some coffee?"

Caleb might get upset with her, he might storm off in a rage, but he always came back. He never left her for more than a few minutes, an hour or two on a few occasions. He meant what he'd said about not ever leaving her. Not the way Jamie had done, time and time again.

"Reve Sorrell just called," Jazzy said. "She wants us to meet her for breakfast over at Jasmine's."

"She got in early, didn't she?"

"Yeah, she did. I guess she's as anxious as I am to get our DNA samples sent off to the lab."

Caleb appeared in the bedroom doorway. "Give me a couple of minutes to grab a quick shower." As he moved past her, he paused, leaned over and kissed her cheek, then yanked off her towel before he went into the bathroom.

Jazzy hugged herself and sighed contentedly. Reve Sorrell might be a lady — a very rich and important lady — but who cared? Caleb didn't. And it didn't matter to him that Jazzy wasn't some blue-blood with a lily-white reputation. He loved her just the way she was. And Caleb's opinion was all that mattered.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "As Good As Dead"
by .
Copyright © 2004 Beverly Beaver.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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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As Good as Dead (Cherokee Pointe Trilogy #3) 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 52 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read. Keeps you guessing till the end.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love books that have stand alone plot lines, but characters that are connected in each book. I will definitely be checking out more of Barton's writing!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You will not want to put it down
ironpony66 More than 1 year ago
Very good storyline. Good mysteries. Recommend for those who like to settle in with a good book. Be aware that once you read one of her books you will want to read more!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jmac95 More than 1 year ago
The whole series was very good - I could hardly put them down! I was just sorry when it ended and I had no more to read! Time to move on to more of her books and I look forward to them.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Liked the combination of mystery and romance.
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JFD-7 More than 1 year ago
I can't believe I have only just found this author. these are just great books - great characters, fast paced, interesting story line. ms barton is very good at hiding the bad guy.
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sasasue More than 1 year ago
I Loved this trilogy. Although I had a little trouble getting through this one it was well worth the read.
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Angela Jarvis More than 1 year ago
Great way to end the trilogy.....loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago