Texas mogul Beau Reese is furious. All six feet three obscenely wealthy, good-looking inches of him. His sixty-year-old father, Stewart, a former state senator no less, has impregnated a teenager. Barely able to contain his anger, Beau is in for another surprise. It appears that Stewart has moved an entirely different woman into the house . . .
Beau assumes that stunning Cassidy Jones is his father’s mistress. At least she’s of age. But those concerns take a sudden backseat when he finds Stewart in a pool of blood on the floor of his study—and Cassidy walks in to find Beau with his hand on the murder weapon.
The shocks just keep coming. Someone was following Stewart, and Cassidy is the detective hired to find out who and why. Now she’ll have to find his killer instead. Her gut tells her it wasn’t Beau. And Beau’s instincts tell him it wasn’t Cassidy. Determined to track down the truth, they form an uneasy alliance—one that will bring them closer to each other—closer to danger and beyond . . .
About the Author
A resident of Missoula, Montana, Kat is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. She and her author husband, L.J. Martin, spend their winters in Ventura, California. She is currently writing her next Romantic Suspense. Visit Kat at www.katmartin.com. Or join her Facebook page. (www.facebook.com/pages/Kat-Martin).
Read an Excerpt
Pleasant Hill, Texas
Beau could hardly believe it. His father was sixty years old! The girl sitting across from him in a booth at the Pleasant Hill Café looked like a teenager. A very pregnant teenager.
"Everything's going to be okay, Missy," Beau Reese said. "You don't have to worry about anything from now on. I'll make sure it's all taken care of from here on out."
"He bought me presents," the girl said tearfully, dabbing a Kleenex against her watery blue eyes. "He told me how pretty I was, how much he liked being with me. I thought he loved me."
Fat chance of that, Beau thought. His dad had never loved anyone but himself. True, his father, still a handsome man, stayed in shape and looked twenty years younger. Didn't make the situation any better.
"How old are you, Missy?"
At least she was over the age of consent. That was something, not much.
Her hand shook as she toyed with a long strand of pale blond hair. Though her belly was enormous, the rest of her was a little too thin for someone eight-and-a- half months along, probably from so much worry.
Beau turned his attention to the woman sitting next to her daughter on the opposite side of the booth, Josie Kessler, the owner of the café.
"You should have called me, Josie. I can't believe you waited this long."
"I wanted to, Beau, but Missy was adamant. She didn't want to do anything to upset the senator. She really believed he was going to marry her."
Beau shook his head. "You know him, Josie. You've known him for years. Did you really believe that was going to happen?"
An older blond version of her daughter, Josie sighed. "I never believed it. I tried to tell her, but every time I started to talk to her, she got so upset I worried for the baby."
Full-figured now in her forties, Josie's hair had begun to turn gray. Wrinkles formed tiny lines around her mouth from the years when she was a smoker. Neither woman was beautiful, their features slightly blunt and unrefined, but there was a sweet, appealing quality about the girl.
Beau shoved a hand through his wavy black hair and took a steadying breath. "This isn't your fault, and both of us know it. It's no one's fault but my father's."
Though Josie was outspoken and a well-loved fixture in the community, Missy was quiet and shy, exactly the kind of woman his father preyed on, using flattery and attention to woo the unwary into his bed.
Unless he flat-out paid them.
Beau had known Josie and Missy's grandmother, Evelyn, the former owner of the café, since he was a kid. Missy was just a child when he'd left Pleasant Hill to attend the university in Austin. He glanced over at the girl, whose face was pale, her eyes swollen from crying. None of the women in the family had much luck with men. Or at least that's how it seemed.
He thought of the DNA test folded up and tucked into the pocket of his shirt. Josie had handed it to him when he'd first arrived. Not that he'd had much doubt her daughter was telling the truth.
"What did my father say when Missy told him about the baby?" Beau asked.
"He wanted her to have an abortion. Missy refused."
"I told him I wouldn't do that, no matter what," the girl said, sniffing into the Kleenex. "I told him I wanted to have his child."
"It's a little girl, Beau," Josie said with a wobbly smile. "We both love her already."
A peculiar tightening settled in his chest. As a kid, he had desperately wanted a brother or sister. By the time he was five, his parents barely tolerated each other. His mother had died six years ago, but now, at thirty-five, he was going to have a little sister.
Beau felt a surge of protectiveness toward the young woman carrying his father's child.
He looked over to where she sat hunched forward on the bench on the opposite side of the pink vinyl booth. At the misery in her face, he reached across the Formica-topped table and covered her hand, gave it a gentle squeeze.
"Everybody makes mistakes, Missy. You picked the wrong guy, that's all. Doesn't mean you won't have a great kid."
For the first time since he'd arrived, Missy managed a tentative smile. "Thank you for saying that."
Beau returned the smile. "I'm going to have a baby sister. I promise she won't have to worry about a thing from the day she's born into this world." Hell, he was worth more than half a billion dollars. He would see the child had everything she ever wanted.
Missy's lips trembled. She turned her head and started softly crying.
Josie scooted out of the booth. "I think she's had enough for today. This is all very hard on her and I don't want her getting overly tired." She reached for her daughter's hand. "Let's go home, honey. You'll feel better after a nap."
Missy grasped her mother's hand and awkwardly managed to climb out of the booth. Missy lived with Josie, who had taken over the apartment upstairs as well as the café when Evelyn had moved into a retirement home.
Beau got up, too. Taking the girl's slender hands, he leaned over and brushed a kiss on her cheek.
"You both have my number. If you need anything, call me. Okay?"
Missy swallowed. "Okay."
"Thank you, Beau," Josie said. "I should have called you sooner. I should have known you'd help us."
"Like I said, you don't have to worry. I'll have my assistant send you a check right away. You'll have money to take care of expenses and buy the things you need. After that, I'll have a draft sent to Missy every month."
Josie's eyes teared up. "I didn't know how I was going to manage the bills all by myself. Thank you again, Beau. So much."
He just nodded. "Keep me up-to-date on her condition."
"I will," Josie said.
Beau watched the women head for the door, the bell ringing as Josie shoved it open and they walked out of the café to the outside staircase.
Leaving money on the table for his coffee, he followed the women out the door, his temper slowly climbing toward the point it had been when he'd first received the call.
His father should be the one handling Missy's pregnancy. He'd had months to step up and do the right thing. Beau didn't trust that he ever would.
As he crossed the sidewalk and opened the door of his dark blue Ferrari, his temper cranked up another notch. By the time the car was roaring along the road on the way to his father's house, his fury was simmering toward the boiling point.
Unconsciously his foot pressed harder on the gas, urging the car down the two-lane road at well over eighty miles an hour. With too many speeding tickets in Howler County already, he forced himself to slow down.
Making the turn into Country Club Estates, he turned again two streets later and slid to a stop in front of the house, sending a shower of dust and leaves into the air. The white, two-story home he'd been raised in oozed Southern charm, the row of columns out front mimicking an old-style plantation.
Climbing out of the Ferrari, one of his favorite cars, he pounded up the front steps and crossed the porch. The housekeeper had always had Mondays and Tuesdays off, so he used his key to let himself into the high-ceilinged entry.
On this chilly, end-of-January day, the ceiling fans, usually rotating throughout the five-thousand-square-foot residence, hadn't been turned on, leaving the interior quiet except for the ticking of the ornate grandfather clock in the living room.
"Dad! It's Beau! Where are you?" When he didn't get an answer, he strode down the hall to the study, turned the knob without bothering to knock, and walked into the elegant wood-paneled interior.
"Well, look who's here." Recently retired state senator Stewart Beaumont Reese, dressed in his usual dark suit, white shirt, and tie, didn't get up from behind his big rosewood desk. "You should have phoned. I might not have been home."
Beau's pulse was beating too fast. He worked to keep the anger out of his voice. "I was already in town on business — your business, as it turns out."
The two of them looked amazingly alike, with the same blue eyes and black hair, the senator's now silvered at the temples. Both of them were tall and broad- shouldered, Stewart only an inch shorter than Beau's six-foot-three-inch frame.
They looked alike, but they had nothing else in common — and they had never been close. Far from it. Their relationship had been hostile from the day Beau was old enough to talk back to his dad.
Stewart rose from behind his desk. "You were in town on my business? Since when have you had anything to do with my business?"
Beau took a steadying breath and forced his back teeth to unclench. "Since you knocked up a nineteen-year-old girl. Jesus, Dad. It's not like you don't have women falling all over you. You had to pick a kid?"
"I don't know what you're talking about."
Beau's temper, already nearing the edge, erupted. "Goddamn it!" Walking up to the desk, he leaned over the top and got right in his father's face. "You've got a baby on the way! I've got the DNA test in my pocket to prove it! How could you ignore something like that!"
"What's going on here?"
Forcing himself to take a deep breath, Beau turned to find a woman he had never seen before standing in the open doorway. Late twenties or early thirties, a notepad in one hand, a pair of half glasses perched on the end of a very nice nose, she was a striking brunette with a stunning figure. Dressed business professional: a russet skirt suit, printed cream silk blouse, and high heels, she had a heart-shaped face framed by the cloud of dark curls that fanned out around her shoulders, big green eyes, and a porcelain complexion. She was lovely.
Beau flicked a glance at his father, who cast him a look that said See? You've made a fool of yourself again.
The senator sat back down in his chair. "Cassidy, this is my son, Beau. Beau, meet Cassidy Jones, my personal assistant."
Beau's eyes went back to the woman but his anger didn't cool. Surely his father wouldn't bring one of his mistresses into the house.
But there was more than a very good chance he had.
The senator smiled. "My son and I were merely having a discussion. Nothing to worry about. Was there something you needed?"
"I heard loud voices. I just ... I wanted to be sure there wasn't a problem."
"No problem. Everything is fine."
"I'm sorry to bother you," the woman said. "Nice meeting you, Beau."
He managed a barely polite reply. The brunette walked out of the study and closed the door.
"Tell me she isn't one of your women," Beau said.
"What she is or isn't is none of your business. Now if we're through here, I have a meeting in —"
"Screw your meeting. I want to know if you're going to sit back and ignore your own child."
"It wasn't my fault, dammit! The girl practically threw herself at me. If you want me to write a check —"
"I didn't come here for a goddamn check! I just thought you might want to be involved. Apparently you're going to ignore your own flesh and blood. Wait a minute — why does that sound so familiar?"
"I hardly ignored you. I gave you the best of everything: clothes, cars, sent you to the finest schools."
"You gave me everything except the father I needed. Now you have a second chance, an opportunity to do it right."
Stewart sighed as if he were talking to someone with a learning disability. "Be reasonable, son. I'm not interested in starting another family. The girl should have gotten an abortion as I suggested. I would have been more than happy to pay the expenses."
Beau clamped hard on his temper. "I'm taking care of the girl and your kid. You don't have to worry about it. In fact, I'd prefer you didn't involve yourself. It would be better for everyone concerned."
"Then you have your wish. Now if you don't mind ..."
Beau's hand fisted. The more he thought about it, the better the idea sounded. He didn't trust his father — a master manipulator — not to wait a few years and decide it would be good for his image to involve himself in raising the child.
"The more I think about it, since we're all in agreement, why don't I go ahead and have papers drawn up granting Missy Kessler sole custody of the child? That way you'll be kept out of it. You won't have to worry about a thing."
"Fine. Do whatever pleases you. You always have."
True, and in this case it pleased him to do what was best for his little sister.
"Expect to see me tomorrow," Beau said. "I'll have the paperwork done and be back for your signature sometime in the afternoon." Without waiting for a reply, he turned and walked out of the study.
As he strode down the hall, he caught a glimpse of Cassidy Jones walking in the opposite direction. At least his father's latest kept woman was old enough to know better than to get herself pregnant like poor Missy.
As he made his way outside, Beau slammed the front door harder than he intended. One thing he knew for sure. In the months since he had last seen his father, nothing had changed.
Cassidy Jones walked out of the main house, down the path to the guest house where she was staying. The winter day was chilly, but being a Texan, she enjoyed the break from the relentless summer heat.
As she neared the front door, her mind returned to the scene in the study and her brief encounter with Beau Reese. She had wondered when she would meet him.
The senator had told her that although his son lived in Dallas, just a little over an hour's drive away, they rarely saw each other.
Cassidy knew who he was. Everyone in Texas knew Beaumont Reese, a former top-ranked pro-am race car driver. Her dad and her brothers, Brandon and Shawn, had watched him race on TV. Close to Beau's age, her brothers both had man-crushes on him.
Beau, who was no longer racing, was now co-owner of Texas American Enterprises. Along with his business partner, Lincoln Cain, he ran a billion- dollar corporation.
Cassidy had Googled him, read everything she could find on him. Thirty-five years old, never married, dated women for a few weeks at a time but didn't seem to get seriously involved.
He was a highly respected businessman who ran the marketing side of the company with a talent that helped make it the success it was today. She'd been impressed to learn he donated heavily to charity, especially organizations for children like the Make-A-Wish Foundation and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Several articles mentioned he had been a troubled teen. His juvenile arrest records had been sealed, but Beau spoke openly about his past and gave his money and time to encourage teens with problems.
According to what she'd read, something had happened at the end of Beau's senior year that had turned his life around, and though he never talked about it, speculation was that the arrest for armed robbery with his best friend and later business partner had been the catalyst. While Cain served a two-year sentence, Beau attended the University of Texas at Austin and pulled in top grades — a big change from his unimpressive record in high school.
He had graduated with honors, but a few months later, tragedy had struck when his beloved grandfather, the late Morgan Hamilton, his mother's father, had died, leaving several million to his grandson.
Beau had used the money wisely. Reese had hired Cain, who turned out to have a serious knack for getting things done, and along with Beau's marketing skills, they had built one of the most successful corporations in Texas.
Cassidy knew all about Beau Reese. Still, she hadn't been prepared for the utter beauty of the man.
Several inches over six feet, with wavy jet-black hair, brilliant blue eyes, and lean-muscled, V-shaped body, Beau was a definite heartthrob. If it hadn't been for the hard set of his features and the scar running from the bottom of his ear along his jaw, he might have looked like a pretty boy.
Instead he looked like every woman's dark, midnight fantasy. Minus the contempt for her she read in those incredible blue eyes, she might have felt a twinge of attraction herself. Apparently just being associated with his father was enough to garner his disdain.
Opening the door to the guest house, Cassidy crossed the living room she had set up as an office, arriving at the laptop on the walnut desk against the wall. Like the main residence, the guest house was done in an elegant, traditional motif, with a burgundy overstuffed sofa and chairs in front of a white-manteled fireplace, and a bedroom with a four-poster bed.
The former senator still occasionally entertained VIPs, and when he did, he did it in style. The guest house gave her a place to stay while she was in Pleasant Hill.
Excerpted from "Beyond Danger"
Copyright © 2018 Kat Martin.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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