Hidden Fate: A Novella of Romantic Suspense

Hidden Fate: A Novella of Romantic Suspense

by Tara Thomas

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Overview

From romantic suspense author Tara Thomas comes the explosive next novella, Hidden Fate, in the brand-new romantic suspense Sons of Broad series.

Welcome to the sultry streets of Charleston, where simmering desire and dark danger rule...


He’ll stop at nothing to keep her safe…

Someone wants Janie dead.
Brent will do anything to protect her from a ruthless killer’s hunt.
But an enemy this powerful won’t give up easily….

And danger and passion will explode as they fight for each other.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250138033
Publisher: St. Martin''s Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/13/2018
Series: Sons of Broad
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 80
Sales rank: 449,494
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Tara Thomas’s love of books and writing started as a child and though she wanted to be an author, she decided a degree in science was more practical. After fifteen years in the pharmaceutical industry, she returned to her first love and hasn’t looked back since.

She writes erotic romance as Tara Sue Me. Her Submissive Series novels have been on both the New York Timesand USA Today Bestseller lists. Her novel The Master earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly and was awarded Best Romance of 2016 from Best Book Awards.


Tara Thomas’s love of books and writing started as a child and though she wanted to be an author, she decided a degree in science was more practical. After fifteen years in the pharmaceutical industry, she returned to her first love and hasn’t looked back since.

She writes erotic romance as Tara Sue Me. Her Submissive Series novels have been on both the New York Times and USA Today Bestseller lists. Her novel The Master earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly and was awarded Best Romance of 2016 from Best Book Awards.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Brent Taylor considered himself an easygoing man. However, he knew that if he could get his hands on whoever sent his girlfriend roses, he'd rip them from limb to limb. It wasn't that he was overly possessive. Though the thought of anybody other than himself sending Janie Roberts flowers would upset him, it was the note attached to the flowers currently sitting on her dining room table that had the potential to send him into a murderous rage. The note that indicated her life was in danger.

"I should call this in." Janie looked at him, her face was pale, but there was a firm resolve in her voice. Her gaze shifted to the note she'd put on the table.

Rose are red.
"Is this in relation to the case you were working?" Brent's half-sister, Bea Jacobs, asked.

Janie had asked Brent to bring Bea to dinner. This was the first time both women were meeting.

"I can't imagine it not being about the case I was working," Janie said. "But why now? I've been fired."

She'd been fired because she had been dating him. The unsolved mystery of kidnapped women had escalated into a murder a few weeks ago. Janie had been working as an undercover bartender at the club where several of the women had worked. That's where Brent had met her.

He'd been considered a suspect at the time and her boss had put her on administrative leave after finding out they were involved. Brent had actually been cleared by then, thanks to DNA evidence. Skin scrapings from underneath the fingernails of the victim were believed to be from the killer and had not matched to Brent. But Janie, being Janie, had not been able to leave the case alone and was fired when her boss caught her investigating in the club.

"It could be several reasons." Brent walked over and sat beside her, putting his arm around her as he answered her question. "He may think that you're more vulnerable now. Or he may think you know something."

"How could I know something?" She was trembling, which only made him more upset. "Alyssa and I don't even talk about the case anymore."

Alyssa Adams was her best friend and work colleague. According to Janie, she had recently been placed on the case.

"I don't know. And whoever is doing this isn't going to know what you and Alyssa talk about." Brent said. "Either way, I was just thinking out loud."

Janie nodded. "I'm going to call Alyssa."

* * *

Janie walked to the far end of the room. If Brent had to guess, she was working hard to get her anger under control. Bea raised an eyebrow.

"Not quite what we had in mind for dinner." Brent scratched his head. "I suppose they'll have to fingerprint us. We all touched the box."

"A small price to pay to find who's doing this." Bea was watching Janie with careful eyes. His sister was a lawyer, and she didn't miss much. "You're not going to let her stay here by yourself, are you?"

No, he didn't want to. He wanted her to come back to his house and stay with him. But he knew Janie was very hardheaded, and as a cop, she often felt herself above protection. Yep, she would argue with him.

He looked up as she walked over to them.

"They're on their way. She's off duty and was having dinner with Mac. He's coming, too."

Brent had met Alyssa before, but he'd never met her boyfriend. According to Janie, Mac was a good guy, and had proposed to Alyssa repeatedly. Janie had joked that Alyssa had an aversion to wedding gowns, and that's why she wasn't accepting his proposal. Alyssa just told her she wasn't ready yet, but Janie was starting to think more and more that there was something with Mac. But then as soon as she thought that, she'd change her mind. She had no proof and had never witnessed anything strange about him.

"Janie," Brent said. "Want to pack a bag and stay with me tonight?" She didn't say anything, but he could see the struggle on her face. The tough cop who wanted to prove she was fine and the scared woman who'd just had her life threatened and only wanted to be held.

He put his hands on her shoulders. "I'll admit I'm being a bit selfish. I don't like the thought of you being here alone. Call it testosterone. Call it being a bullish male, but I'd sleep so much better with you in my arms."

Tears filled her eyes, but didn't fall. He wasn't sure if she thought he was just giving her a way to agree to stay with him without her having to admit she wanted to do, but he'd spoken the truth. He didn't want her here alone. Hell, she didn't even have a security system. "Okay," she finally whispered.

He pulled her into his arms and kissed her forehead. "Thank you."

She relaxed against him and he swore he could feel her strength and resolve returning. He dipped his head and smelled her hair. Lavender.

She pulled back and looked to Bea. "Sorry."

Bea waved her apology away. "Don't even think about it."

"I wonder if Alyssa and Mac were able to eat." Janie stepped out of his embrace and headed to the kitchen. "I probably have enough for all five of us."

"All five," Bea said. "So tonight I'm not just the third wheel, I'm also the fifth."

Though Bea was rarely alone, she never appeared to find anyone she wanted to see beyond the second date. Her tone was light; Brent hoped she was joking.

"Don't worry, sis," he said. "Mr. Right is out there somewhere. You'll find him."

He meant for it to be a lighthearted remark, but she didn't smile. Her cheeks actually flushed and suddenly she was looking anywhere except at him.

"Bea?" he asked, and then it hit him and he smiled. "You've found someone, haven't you?" She opened her mouth to reply, but right at that moment there was a knock on the door. Janie sprinted into the living room.

"I'll get it," she said.

"Make sure ...," he started, but then stopped when she gave him the I'm a cop and I know what I'm doing look. "Sorry."

She checked the peephole and opened the door. Alyssa came inside, followed by a tall and lanky man whom Brent assumed was Mac.

"Oh my God," Alyssa said, pulling her friend into a hug. "Are you okay? Where are the flowers? Let me see."

"Over here." Janie led her to the table.

"Hey, Brent," Alyssa said in passing. "That's Mac."

"Mac." Brent nodded at the guy who looked the slightest bit uncomfortable. Brent couldn't blame him. This wasn't how Mac had planned to spend his evening. But then again, that's what happened when you dated a cop.

"I'm Bea," his sister said, holding out her hand to Mac. "Brent's sister."

"Nice to meet you." But Mac's attention wasn't on Bea. He was watching Alyssa.

"We can look for prints on the letter," she was saying. "But I wouldn't hold out much hope. I'm off duty now — Mac and I were on our way to dinner — so I'll do the preliminaries and finish it up later. Her voice dropped to a whisper. "So sorry I brought him on official business. I knew it'd be quicker this way."

"That's what I was thinking." Janie nodded. "And the box is probably a waste of time. Most of us touched it. And please, don't apologize. I understand."

"You'll find my prints on the letter," Brent said. "I took it from her after she read it."

"Not a problem, we have DNA." Alyssa said, and then turned and sighed. "Seriously, Mac? Please don't mess with that."

"How did you get DNA?" Mac asked, putting the box back on the table.

Alyssa sighed. "I really can't say."

"But you haven't linked it to a person yet." Mac spoke it as a statement. Not a question.

"Obviously," Alyssa snapped. "We haven't made an arrest yet, have we?"

Mac held up his hands. "Just curious."

"It's not a good time."

An uncomfortable silence fell over the room. At least, Brent thought, Janie no longer looked scared. She stood with her arms crossed, watching Alyssa.

Alyssa sighed and ran her fingers through her hair. "Look, I'm sorry, guys. I'm just under a lot of stress. This case ..." She shook her head, then took an evidence bag and put the letter in it. "I'm going to go on and take this by the lab. Come on, Mac. Since you touched the box, I need to get you printed for elimination purposes."

Mac's lips tightened into a thin line, but he looked back at Janie and he smiled. "See you later. Be safe."

"Thanks. Take care of my girl." Janie smiled and took the few steps over to him to give him a quick hug.

Brent lifted his head when he heard Janie ask, "What type of cologne do you wear, Mac?" Something about her voice sounded off.

"My cologne?" Mac smiled and lifted his shirt for a sniff. "I don't even know. It's new. Alyssa's partner wears it and gave me a sample. Do you like it?"

"It's unique," Janie replied in a tight voice.

Mac snorted. "I'll take that as a 'no.'" Alyssa coughed from her position by the door.

"Got to go. See you guys later," Mac said. "Nice to meet you, Brent ... Bea."

Janie locked the door behind them. "Wow, that was odd. I've never seen her like that."

"Probably just stress," Bea said. "It can do things to a person. That Mac guy was nice enough, though."

"Yeah," Janie said, but she didn't sound convinced. "I guess that's possible, but she's been in stressful situations before and I've never seen her like this. It makes me wonder if it might be Mac. Maybe there's something to the fact that she keeps turning down his proposal."

Brent tilted his head. He'd never heard Janie say anything but positive comments about Alyssa's long-term boyfriend and there was nothing he'd said or done tonight that seemed out of line to Brent. He frowned. Except for that weird argument about the DNA.

"Everything okay?" he asked, coming up behind her and putting his arms around her.

She leaned back into his embrace and he swore he could feel the tension leave her body. "Yes, it's probably nothing."

"Want to talk about it?"

She thought for a second and then replied, "No. No, I don't think I do. What I want to do is pack up dinner and get a bag together and go to your house. What I do not want to do is spend another second here tonight that I don't have to."

He tightened his arms around her, wishing more than anything he could snap his fingers and make this whole thing go away. "Sounds like a great idea. Why don't you go pack, and I'll set out dinner here for us all? Then we can leave."

* * *

"I hope you won't let the events at my house keep you from coming back," Janie said, throwing a smile in Bea's direction. They had finished eating and Brent was cleaning the kitchen. "It's usually quite dull around here."

"Don't worry about it. I can only imagine how stressful this is."

"Yes." She waved to the couch for Bea to sit down. "What do you think about Brent going to Washington?"

Bea leaned back into the couch. "Part of me is shocked. He's such the quintessential Southern gentleman, you know?"

Janie couldn't help laughing. "True."

"But he said he's not going to sell his house." Bea shook her head. "Thank goodness. I'd have to kick his ass if he did that. You have no idea what I went through decorating that place."

Janie smiled. "He told me. It's beautiful, by the way." She wondered where Bea lived and if she had a home filled with antiques.

"It's a hobby of mine. I'm living in a much smaller apartment at the moment and don't have near the amount of furniture Brent does. He inherited most of it from his father."

Janie knew from past conversations with Brent that the two half siblings had different fathers. Brent's had passed away, but Bea's was a prominent minister in the Charleston area. From what she'd heard about him, he was all hellfire and brimstone. Which was odd since Bea seemed the exact opposite.

Brent had been offered a position on a federal committee working with several executives on measures that would lead to reducing preservatives and toxins from food, and Janie knew he was thrilled with the opportunity to make an impact. Plus, he'd be excellent at it. If only it wasn't in DC. But then again, she no longer had a job. She wasn't tied to Charleston.

Actually, if she thought about it, she rented her place and Brent owned his. He had more ties to the South than she did. Of course, she told herself, it helped that due to everyone's schedules, he'd only be Washington for six months at a time.

"I guess you don't worry you'll never see him much?" Janie asked. After all, that was her fear. But she'd never been in a long-distance relationship, so maybe it wasn't outright fear. Perhaps it was fear of the unknown.

"A little, but I'm hoping it wouldn't be for long. I'm planning to run for Congress term after next."

Janie hadn't heard that. "Really? That's great."

"It's horribly ambitious and it's taking up so much of my time, even now."

"I say go for it."

"Thanks." Bea flushed a bit and her mouth opened, like she was going to speak, but then she must have changed her mind because she closed it without saying anything.

"What does your dad think of your running for office?" Janie asked. She could only assume, based on things she'd heard about the man, that he would hate it.

"He's less than thrilled," she said with a grin and an eye roll. "But what else is new?"

"He doesn't want you to run?"

"He didn't want me to go to law school." Bea waved her hand. "He's completely stuck in the 1950s. He thinks I should be married with two kids and another on the way."

"Oh, wow."

"Right? I mean if that's what you want," she said with a shrug, "but I'm not at that point yet."

"I hear you. I'm not ready for kids yet, either."

Footsteps sounded as Brent made his way from the kitchen to the living room. "I made some coffee if anyone would like a cup. Decaf."

He flashed Janie a smile and raised his eyebrow. She nodded. She'd been a little apprehensive about meeting his sister, but she was great. Not that she should have been worried; after all, Bea shared half of Brent's DNA.

He stood in the doorway grinning and though Janie knew he was worried and it probably took a lot of effort to smile, she appreciated his doing so.

"It's rare that I get to have a free night with my two most favorite women," he teased as he came over to the couch where they were sitting.

Bea playfully batted his hand away when he tried to take it. "It could have happened a lot sooner than now if you hadn't been hiding Janie from me."

"I was afraid you'd scare her off."

"No way. If you hadn't scared her off, nothing I would have done could."

Janie wouldn't have believed it five minutes ago, but she actually felt relaxed and lighthearted as they made their way to her kitchen for coffee.

* * *

Later that night Brent and Janie lay in his bed, not really sleepy and just talking. Brent still felt on the edge but Janie seemed so peaceful the last few hours.

"I'm so glad you decided to stay over tonight," he started out by saying. "I feel so much better with you here."

She twisted in his arms and propped up on her elbow beside him. "I might actually sleep tonight, and that wouldn't have happened if I stayed at home."

He sucked in a breath as she started running her fingers on his chest. "I have a proposition for you," he said.

She laughed. "Aren't you supposed to proposition me before I get into bed?"

"It's not that kind proposition," he said with a smile.

"Damn."

"Two things actually." He decided to bring up the one she was most likely to agree with first. "Come with me to DC this weekend." This coming weekend he would have to find a place to live if he wanted to start the position on time.

"Are you looking for apartments ?" she asked.

"Yes, and I really need to put an offer on something this weekend. I would love your input." He wasn't sure what they would do when he started the new position. He wasn't overly thrilled by the thoughts of a long-distance relationship, but he'd do whatever it would take to still have Janie in his life.

He remembered the night they'd met. She'd been working undercover at a local club and he saw her. All he knew right away was that she was beautiful. But it was when she quoted Aristophanes that he felt he had to get to know her. She was refreshing. Strong, self-assured, and smart, she neither seemed impressed by his money nor did she seem to want him for his wealth.

"You would?" she asked.

"Yes. I know I won't get you out of the South permanently, but I do hope you agree to visit me in Washington. A lot."

"Yes, of course I will."

"Well, in that case, I definitely need your opinion on where I'll be living."

She leaned over and kissed him briefly. "Okay, I'll go. When do we leave?"

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Hidden Fate"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Tara Thomas.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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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