Abbie DiAngelo finally has the life she's always wanted. She has gotten past her divorce and cherishes her nine-year old son, Ben. Her restaurant is making money and she is being heralded as the hot new chef.
Then her stepbrother reenters her life. Straight out of prison, Ian MacGregor shows up at Abbie's door claiming to have proof that implicates her mother in a twenty-five-year-old murder. Proof Ian will keep to himself if Abbie pays for his silence. But when she arrives to pay Ian off, she finds his murdered body.
Homicide detective John Ryan quickly realizes there is more to the murder of ex-con Ian MacGregor than he originally thought. And no one, especially Abbie, is telling him the truth. But Abbie has no choiceshe must trust him. Because someone desperate is acting with deadly intent.
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By Christiane Heggan
Harlequin Enterprises LimitedCopyright © 2003 Harlequin Enterprises Limited
All right reserved.
Chapter OneMay 18 Allen Correctional Center, Lima, Ohio
On his forty-third birthday, which nobody gave a crap about, Ian McGregor decided he'd had it with prison life. He came to that realization as he and nine other inmates walked from Cell Block 11 to the prison rec room, dragging their feet and shoving each other, for no other reason than to piss off the guards.
Ian had spent half his adult life in and out of prison. While most of his offenses had been minor - drunk and disorderly, attempted burglary, bad checks - this last stint, sixteen months for breaking and entering, had been the pits. Thank God, ten days from now he'd be a free man, and this time, by God, he would stay free. No more stinking cells, no more pervert inmates and no more prison riots, the last of which had left him with four ugly puncture marks on his arm where some goon had stuck him with a fork.
Unfortunately, freedom was about all he had to look forward to. He had no money, no job prospect and no place to call home, unless his longtime, on-and-off girlfriend, Rose Panini, took him back. He wouldn't blame her if she didn't. With his track record over the last twenty years, he wasn't exactly what women called a catch. Simply put, Rose was fed up. She had made that plain themorning of his last sentencing, swearing she never wanted to see him again. So far, she had kept her word. His pleas for her to visit him had remained unanswered, as had his letters. But Ian was optimistic. Once she saw him standing on her doorstep, repentant and oozing with charm, she'd take one look at him and forgive him. Rose was no prize, but she had a big heart. Not to mention a steady job.
His second problem was a little more serious. And it came with a name: Arturo Garcia, one of the meanest SOB's he'd ever had the misfortune to know. Ten years ago, Ian had worked for the man, delivering meth and cocaine to nightclubs throughout the Toledo area. The job had been fairly easy and the money good until the cops, who had been watching Ian, had apprehended him in the middle of a delivery and hauled him off to jail.
But just when he thought he'd be spending the next decade behind bars, the D.A. had offered him a deal that was almost too good to be true - his freedom for the goods on his boss. Ian hadn't thought twice. He should have, because in addition to ratting on Arturo, Ian had walked off with thirty thousand dollars of his money, and that had made the drug distributor even more enraged.
On the day of his sentencing, which Ian had been dumb enough to attend, Arturo had to be dragged out of the courtroom kicking and screaming as he fired a volley of obscenities at Ian.
"This ain't over, you lousy snitch," Garcia had shouted.
"When I get out I'm gonna find you and gut you like a fish."
Fortunately, by the time Arturo was getting out of prison, Ian was going in for the B & E job, a twist of fate that saved him from a sure and painful death. The word was that Arturo had returned to his native town of El Paso, where he and his younger brother, Tony, helped their widowed mother run the family grocery store. But who could tell if that was really true. For all Ian knew, Arturo could be cooling his heels outside the prison gates right now, waiting for a chance to kill him.
Ian's thoughts were interrupted by a vicious whack behind the knees. "Move it, McGregor. What do you think this is? A funeral procession?"
Ian was tempted to yank the guard's baton out of his hand and shove it up his ass. The thought, satisfying as it was, went no further. That kind of behavior would only get him a week in solitary and suspension of his TV privileges. He didn't mind the solitary part, but he hated to be deprived of his nightly hour of television, especially now that Baywatch had gone into syndication and was being shown every night. There was nothing like a bunch of stacked babes in tight bathing suits to get a man's blood pumping.
As always, the recreation-hour crowd was divided into two groups - the hard-core poker players, who never got the game out of their system, even when they played with fake money, and a handful of TV aficionados. Tonight, Ian and his tube-addicted buddies were in for a treat. Instead of a full hour of their favorite program, they had elected to watch the last half hour of a local beauty pageant, followed by the last thirty minutes of Baywatch.
Taking a seat in the first row, Ian kept his eyes glued to the screen where six shapely girls, all finalists in the Miss Columbus Pageant, pranced across the stage in skimpy bikinis, their boobs bobbing up and down and threatening to spill out of their tops. Ian and his friends clapped and cheered every time a contestant got close to the camera and gave them a mouthwatering view of her firm round ass. Even the guards joined in, whistling and ogling the girls as if they'd never seen skin before.
"Hey," the inmate next to Ian said when the pageant was over. "Somebody tape that?" Larry Warmath made a goofy face and wiggled in his seat like an idiot. "I'd like a replay at my next jammy party."
Laughter erupted, but Ian was no longer paying attention to the banter. Remote in hand, he was flipping through the channels in search of Baywatch, when two women on the screen, a skinny blonde with too much makeup and a brunette in a white apron, caught his eye. The slim, rather petite brunette wasn't exactly his type, but he had to admit she was a looker. She appeared to be in her mid-thirties until she smiled, then she looked much younger. Her dark brown hair was pulled back from her face and held with a white ribbon at the nape of her neck. The eyes were very nice, big and gray and unwavering, but it was her mouth that drew his attention. It was full, lightly tinted and conjured up all kinds of fantasies.
The two women appeared to be in a restaurant, empty at the moment. His eyes on the brunette, Ian listened.
"Today," the blonde was saying, "we are talking to Abbie DiAngelo. Ms. DiAngelo is the owner and executive chef of the French-country restaurant Campagne, right here in Princeton."
Ian sat up. Abbie DiAngelo? He had known an Abbie DiAngelo once. His stepsister. She was eight the last time he'd seen her, so he couldn't be sure it was her, but how many Abbie DiAngelos could there be?
"Gimme this!" Warmath tried to take the remote from Ian, but Ian kept it out of the man's reach. "We ain't interested in no news, man. We want Baywatch."
"This ain't the news, so chill out, Larry, okay?"
"Then what the fuck is it?"
"Two good-looking broads. You don't have a problem with that, do you?" He winked at the others, who were already snickering. "Casanova?"
"Hell, no." Warmath, who wasn't too bright, wet his lips and settled in his chair. He didn't have much of a choice, anyway. Ian had the remote control and he wasn't about to let it go. The other three men didn't seem to mind watching the two women.
"Ms. DiAngelo," the reporter continued, "is a graduate of the New York Culinary Institute and is well known to Princeton-area residents. Prior to opening her restaurant, she owned and operated a popular catering service, aptly named DiAngelo Catering."
She turned to the young woman. "And now you have just returned from Lyon, France, where you were awarded one of the world's most coveted culinary prizes - Le Bocuse d'Or. This is an incredible accomplishment for an American chef, isn't it? Until now, no one from this country had ever received such an honor."
Leaning against one of the tables, Abbie DiAngelo ignored the camera and focused her attention on her interviewer. "No, and frankly, I never thought I'd be coming home a winner. I would have been happy enough to place in the top ten, especially since this was my first time as a competitor."
Excerpted from Deadly Intent by Christiane Heggan Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is the first book I have read from this author. I thought it was a really suspenseful book. I predicted the end but that may be because I read a lot of books like this. I would recommend this book.
Despite the terrible fire in her childhood and traumatic divorce, Abbey DiAngelo has a good life as a successful chef and restaurant owner now. All this is threatened when her step-brother is released from jail, armed with evidence that could destroy her family's happiness. In order to buy his silence, she agrees to pay his blackmail, but before she can deliver, is attacked by a mysterious figure, and later learns that her step-brother has been murdered. Yet the threat does not end with his death. In fact, it only becomes worse as the murderer sets deadly sights on Abbie now. Her only hope of salvation lies in homicide detective John Ryan. As past secrets come forth and loved ones are drawn into the line of fire, these two find not only danger, but romance. Yet it could all mean nothing if Abbie's son falls victim to a killer. ***** In this novel, you will find that Ms. Heggan has delivered her best book to date. The suspense holds your interest from the first to the last page. Although the romantic element comes along late in the book, it in no way disappoints, and the human element of the plot is well developed, adding rich depth to the plot line. This is a great way to start the new year. ***** REVIEWER: Amanda Killgore
Though her beloved mother Irene suffers from early stages of Alzheimer¿s, award-winning chef Abbie DiAngelo feels life is good. The single mom is proud of her nine-year-old son Ben and her restaurant Campagne is the hottest spot in Princeton, New Jersey. Her era of good feeling ends when her stepbrother Ian MacGregor reenters her life for the first time in almost three decades. He demands she give him $100K or he will provide evidence to the Palo Alto police that her mother killed her stepfather by having a fire set to their home. Abbie¿s counteroffer is 48K, which Ian accepts. However, his former partner Arturo Garcia arrives in town, seeking vengeance on Ian who betrayed him to the cops ten years ago. Arturo kills Ian. The police lean towards Abbie killing her sibling, but Detective John Ryan, a single dad, thinks otherwise. As they fall in love while he conducts his homicide investigation, Abbie finds her life spin into something worse as someone she cherishes is kidnapped with only John willing to risk all to keep everyone safe. This exciting romantic suspense picks up speed the moment Ian begins his extortion plot and never eases up until the final twist occurs. Though the kidnapping seems contrived, readers will enjoy the tension that the plot emits. Abbie is a wonderful lead protagonist whose courage to confront her foes will make her a fan darling. The support cast rounds out a strong plot even if Scott Rolen was traded during the last season from the Phillies. Harriet Klausner