Ignite presents an all-new romance you won't want to miss...
Some secrets are worth dying for...
Undersheriff and former Marine Rick Trelane had one constant his entire life - his friendship with Whitney Peterson. Through thick and thin, she has never faltered. Never blamed. But when her former lover turns up dead, Rick must look past the walls he's built to the woman he thought he knew inside and out...and discover he was wrong.
Whitney has secrets, deadly ones. The deeper he digs, the more he sees her as a woman he desires. And suspects. But as bodies start turning up, so does the evidence against her. Now the air is thick with secrets and shadows and giving into the longing could turn both their worlds upside down. Because this killer is just getting started...
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A Deadly Secrets Novel
By Dee Tenorio, Wendy Chen
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2015 Dee Tenorio
All rights reserved.
Rick Trelane walked carefully toward the ribboned off crime scene, glad his hat shrouded him somewhat from the flashing red and blue lights of the nearby sheriff's cruisers. He glanced dispassionately at the body laying in the cramped parking lot of The Stand Off, Marketta's recently re-launched bar. Arms and legs strewn wide, the dark unseeing eyes of Brody Roberts stared at him as he came to a stop a few feet away from the grisly scene.
No surprise at all, Brody leaving one last mess for Rick to clean up.
"At least that saves me a bullet." He stifled the urge to kick the lifeless form. Brody deserved the added insult to his injury. Only his dumb ass would still come to a cop bar after being thrown out of the sheriff's department. Not that Rick thought for one second that any of the cops inside were the ones who pulled the trigger, just that Brody loved tempting fate.
Unfortunately, Sheriff Evigan would frown on kicking the dead. Of the two of them, Cade definitely had a stronger sense of morality. These days, Rick had a stronger sense of not giving a shit and he found that infinitely more satisfying.
"Saves you five, actually," The sheriff in question muttered as he came to stand beside Rick, handing him a cup of coffee as if they still did this crap every day. Hard to believe it had been over a year since the last dead body had been found in Marketta. "Six if you count the slug in the car door."
The size of the hole in the door wasn't large, so it wasn't likely it went through the victim first. Five out of six wasn't bad. Whoever had pulled the trigger hadn't been fucking around. Or ... "Either they wanted it done for sure or someone panicked."
People tended to reflexively keep pulling the trigger once they got started, unable to stop even when the gun emptied out. He looked around to see where the bullet casings were marked on the ground around them. Thanks to the floodlights Henderson had already put up, it was easy to see the piles were in a relatively close grouping.
Cade followed his eye line and nodded. "No sign of a weapon so far. Had the presence of mind to take it with them."
"Has anyone checked the alley between the buildings to see if it was dumped?"
"I put a couple of the deps on it." Cade squinted one eye at the body. "Wasn't Brody one of the ones ... "
"Mm-hmm." Something Rick had never been able to fully prove. It had been dark the night he'd been ambushed by Wheels of Pain, the motorcycle club that he'd worked to cut out of his hometown after leaving the military. Brody was on their payroll, but aside from the familiar scent of menthol cigarettes mixed with that damn Aqua Velva, he hadn't been able to make a legal charge for the attempt on his life. But they all knew. Brody was the type to take revenge with a sucker punch.
"Any idea who we notify about this?"
Rick used to have a general idea of who was related to whom for just about everybody in town. Times had changed, though. Brody was just one of the hundreds who'd come to the area in the last ten years. He didn't know the man's family in the slightest. But, he did know someone who would need to be told.
"I was afraid of that." Of course Cade was. No one liked thinking of Whitney Peterson with the man she'd been in an on-again/off-again relationship with for years. They liked her. "Better it comes from you than me, don't you think?"
No. Rick shifted uncomfortably. Cade could at least pretend to be sorry about the news he was imparting. Whitney had been Rick's friend for so long, he used to think they'd slept in the same crib. She always knew his bullshit. He didn't relish telling her the man he hated — that she very well might have loved, however much Rick was disgusted by that concept — was dead.
Whatever Brody had done to Rick was one thing, but he'd never forgive what the bastard had done to Whitney. The fear on her face, the bruises he knew Brody had put on her. Yet another thing he'd never been able to prove. She'd been maddeningly silent about her time with Brody. "I'll take care of it. After." Somehow. "Rip been out yet?"
Cade accepted the change in subject without a hitch. "On her way."
After cleaning out the corruption from the county offices over the last two years, pretty much the entire town's assembly and staff had to be replaced from scratch. The new sheriff's deputies were handpicked by him and Cade personally, but the medical examiner hired out of New York had been chosen by the hospital. Thankfully, Dr. Jocelyn Ripley fit in with the sheriff's staff like a well-oiled cog. If cogs could freeze a man's balls at ten paces.
"Henderson better have gotten her coffee, too. The only one worse than you at this hour is her." Cade, Rick could understand. No man wanted to leave a warm wife on a cold night. Rip, on the other hand, just didn't seem to like people at any hour.
Well, no one but him and Cade, something no one had been able to explain. Proof the woman just loved being contrary, he guessed.
"That is one seriously dead guy."
Rick turned to find the tiny medical examiner carrying her trusty satchel with her under the yellow tape.
Dressed in a black baseball cap with "Coroner" stamped prominently on the front, her red hair pulled back into a ponytail and an oversize slicker with the same moniker over the front pocket, Ripley glanced over the scene blandly. "This certainly has wife-slash-girlfriend written all over it. She shoot him in the jewels, too?"
"Brody's not married," Rick replied, ignoring the speculation. That was the only bad thing about Rip — she was chatty. She loved to guess case outcomes like something out of her favorite cop shows. Unfortunately, her theory implicated Whitney, the last person he could imagine emptying a revolver into anyone.
"Well, someone hates his guts." Ripley sidled carefully toward the body, avoiding the blood pool seeping out from under the corpse. "Not his first rodeo with a gun, I see." She pointed to the aged linear gouge just beneath his cheekbone, surrounded by a faded shadow. "Do we know how this first one happened?"
"No." Cade answered without even a flicker to his even stare. They both had suspicions, Rick knew, but he appreciated Cade not mentioning it.
"He used to be a deputy." Cade offered grimly.
"So lots of people hate his guts." Rip put her bag down and started pulling on her gloves. "Well, this hater was extremely motivated. Victim's chest is swiss cheese. That doesn't happen by accident."
Rick concentrated on his coffee. The better to ignore her puncturing Brody's liver for body temp and time of death. Even his hate didn't extend that far.
"As usual, Sheriff, any cause of death I give will be preliminary —"
"Seems kind of obvious, doesn't it, Doc?" interrupted Shane Henderson, the officer on duty who'd called in the homicide and set up the scene. A good cop — dedicated, motivated, and instinctive — but not always the smartest when it came to controlling his tongue.
Rip didn't even pick up her head at the other man's prodding. "I leave stating the obvious to lesser minds, deputy."
Rick actually had to work to keep his lips from curling as Henderson's smile dropped abruptly.
"As I was saying," She pivoted on the balls of her feet toward Cade. "Likely COD is the multiple GSWs to the torso. Can someone help me turn him, please?"
Always a glutton for Rip's punishment, Henderson stepped right up. Together they lifted him long enough for her to inspect the back of the body and lay him back down. "No obvious exit wounds, so we should have something to send to ballistics."
Cade nodded, but no one would mistake his expression for satisfaction. "Which won't tell us anything we don't already know."
Someone with some kind of grudge had fired a small caliber weapon into one of the biggest assholes in Marketta. Rick looked over and met Cade's dark gaze. He immediately saw the other conclusion neither of them could mention aloud.
Hardly anyone was going to care if this case never got solved.
* * *
Whitney Peterson had just put the last pan of cheese omelet breads in the oven with a sigh, already dreaming of the coffee she'd been brewing for the last fifteen minutes. Better still, the minutes were ticking closer and closer to her morning date with the man who never missed her Sunday breakfasts. It wasn't a date to him, of course. He only came for the meal and a bit of conversation with his oldest friend, but she looked forward to it anyway.
Rick Trelane stopped in most days for coffee and a quick take-out meal, but he made it a point to sit with her on Sundays. Just to talk. Well, listen, anyway. Conversation wasn't Rick's strongest suit, but it felt good to be checked in on, to have someone care what she thought or felt, while she refilled coffee and rang up people stopping in for their fresh loaves. Not a romance by any stretch of the imagination, but it definitely brightened her week. And by Sunday, her week always needed brightening.
A sudden hard knock on the back kitchen door made her nearly jump out of her skin.
Deliveries never came on Sundays. Frowning, she glanced at the pot of coffee for a longing second before heading toward the steel door. On the way, she pulled the metal pipe from beside the ovens. She'd learned the hard way never to answer her door without it. "Who's there?"
She blinked in surprise, already dropping the pipe against the frame to unlock the heavy door. It swung outward almost of its own volition, caught easily by Rick's strong hand. The overhead light had turned on the moment he'd come within ten feet of the back door, but it was still dark out and his hat brim kept his handsome face in the shadows. Still, she'd know the shape of him anywhere. The green sheriff's department uniform, with its heavy coat and matching Stetson, should not have been sexy. Especially not with the gold and black stripes running down each side of the pants. Of course, they did emphasize the width of his shoulders, the length of his legs. The heavy muscle of his thighs ...
Damn it, now she had to hold in a sigh. Thankfully, he wouldn't say anything about the blush rising on her cheeks. He never did.
He stepped forward and she instinctively moved back, allowing him to pass into the kitchen without touching her. The cool, almost foggy fall air wafted in with him, scented with a woodsy citrus tang she tried her best not to draw deep into her lungs.
God, she hated this crush. Hated that common sense had no effect on it at all. Mostly, she hated the tinge of desperation she was so sure draped her whenever she was in his presence, which was why she took a few more seconds than strictly necessary to pull the door closed and get it locked.
Shaking her head slightly, hoping to snap herself out of her stupidity, Whitney turned and tried to inject some levity into her voice. "What brings you by so early? Your bacon hasn't even stopped oinking yet."
Rick didn't appear to be in a laughing mood. He never was anymore, but this was different than the stoicism she'd gotten used to since he'd returned from military duty. Colder. Almost as if he were there in a professional capacity, a thought that sparked a frozen knot of worry in her gut. He was still facing away from her, looking at the long metal table in front of him. She waited for him to turn and fill her in, but when he took his time about it, the knot grew jagged edges.
He shifted finally, taking the hat off his head and running his hand through his shaggy dark blond hair. He turned, catching her by surprise with the hard expression on his chiseled face. Those eyes of his, a searing blue that never failed to steal her breath, locked on her with an intensity that sent a chill down her spine. "We need to talk, Whit."
Normally, she liked it when he called her Whit. It reminded her of when they were kids, happy and unconcerned with life's problems. This time, there was no daydreaming away the seriousness. This visit could only be her niece. Dammit, Alison had hardly been in any trouble at all in the last few months. "How bad is it?"
"Depends on your perspective, but I do think it'll be a shock."
Whitney frowned. Her niece was temperamental, causing scenes only an over-passionate teenager could. Nothing she did could be a shock. Then the grim look on Rick's face suddenly made sense. Brody. It had to be. "What'd he do now?" And God, how had he dragged her into it?
Quiet words. Which might explain why she wasn't sure if she really heard them. What she couldn't explain was how she felt about them. As if someone had punched her right in the solar plexus and swept her knees out from under her at the same time. Rick lunged forward, catching her before she hit the floor. Her short nails scraped the thick nylon of his jacket while her face nestled into the fur collar.
Vaguely, she realized he was carrying her, which was not a good idea since he'd only been off his cane for a few months. She tried to struggle, but he shushed her and slid her into the chair she kept by the recipe nook.
"Shit, I'm sorry. Should have worded that better." He grabbed her mug from its place by the coffee machine and filled it. "Where do you keep the brandy?"
"Bottom cabinet." She pointed by rote as reality started clearing up. Brody Roberts. Dead. Dead. Dead. No matter how many times the word echoed in her head, it didn't make any sense. "A-are y-you s-s-s-sure?"
She shook, though she wasn't cold, and her teeth began to chatter. Funny, with the ovens on, her bakery's kitchen was usually hot enough to make her sweat. Instead, she had goose bumps the size of Volkswagons.
He made quick work of dumping something from a bottle into the mug and then fitting the warm cup between both her hands. "Drink."
She did as she was told, keeping her eyes on him over the edge of the mug. He didn't look away and thank God, there was no pity in his gaze. "Tell me."
She had to know. Had to be sure the nightmare was truly over.
He nodded. "Saw him myself. He's not coming back this time."
She blinked. Tried to nod back at him. Then thrust the mug into his hands and ran to the sink to retch. It was, she thought with an amused sense of detachment she didn't know she was capable of, an odd first choice for a woman who'd just regained her freedom.
By the time the tears began, Rick was already there, his big hand on her back, the other helping her rinse her face. He let her cry, not doing anything to make her stop or quiet the sounds she automatically muffled against his chest. Some small part of her was aware enough to be mortified, but there was little she could do to hold it all in. She couldn't even sort out what "it all" actually was. Five years of fear, of regret and sacrifice, each one heavier than the last. But one word came to mind that finally felt right. Relief. As if all the weight she'd been carrying for so long had just ... fallen off.
Eventually, the torrent of emotions began to ebb and her breathing turned to uneven gasps. She wiped her eyes, lifting her face from his shirt to realize she had soaked it through. She touched it, the mortification growing exponentially. "Oh, God, I'm so sorry — "
"It's nothing a dry towel won't take care of." His deep voice rumbled under her fingers. "Feel better?"
Yes. No. She wasn't sure at all how she felt. Except that she didn't want to leave the safety and warmth of his hold. But Rick wasn't a toucher and the fact that he was holding her like this just proved how far over the top she'd gone. She forced herself to push him away and stand on her own feet. He kept his hands on her upper arms, waiting until she stopped wavering no matter how she pushed. Eventually, though, he let go. Because he was her friend, a careful wary friend, but one she'd already trusted with her life once. She refused to take more from him.
"How about we go out into the bakery and you can tell me what happened." She turned toward the swinging door and forced her feet forward.
"You sure you can handle it?"
Excerpted from Wanted by Dee Tenorio, Wendy Chen. Copyright © 2015 Dee Tenorio. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Complex plot, great characters and full of suspense! If you enjoy romantic suspense or friends to lovers stories this is definitely worth checking out! The hero is Rick Trelane, a former marine who is now the under sheriff. His best friend from childhood has always been Whitney Peterson and it is only after her ex-lover is murdered that he starts digging and discovers she has secrets that he slowly reveals. The only problem with this is the more he finds out the more attracted to her he becomes and the more she is implicated as the murderer! He’s caught between a rock and a hard place and more people are being murdered . . . This story has strong, well developed characters with dramatic events from their past and especially from when he was away in the marines having a potentially negative impact on their current and future lives, especially as they fear the reaction of the other should these events become known. Their tormented pasts make you want to protect them but they aren’t the only ones - there are other victims in the story, including women who are filmed being raped, so it isn’t an easy light hearted story by any stretch of the imagination. However, through it all the two are actually fighting to protect each other and as more revelations occur the stronger their love for each other grows. This is a dark, well written story with so many secrets, twists, turns together with plenty of angst and turmoil that it truly is a roller coaster ride, totally engaging and full of suspense as well as romance. It is the second book in the series and I haven’t read the first but still thoroughly enjoyed this one. Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley, too, for letting me read an ARC of this book in exchange for this, an honest review.
If you enjoy a good romantic suspense packed with action, this book is for you. Rick Trelane, the Undersheriff must investigate his friend, Whitney, after her ex-lover turns up dead. Investigating Whitney for murder, he gets glimpes of a woman he thought he knew, but there are secrets that she has been keeping and as Rick keeps digging his attraction not only grows, so do his suspicions. Rick is faced with a hard decision as to let a killer go free in order to protect Whitney or does he keep digging? With so many twists and turns, the action and suspense keeps readers on their toes. This is the second book in the Deadly Secrets series and while it can be read as a stand alone, I think it's better to read the first book, Conviction, beforehand in order to give a backstory. The feelings between Rick and Whitney are very real and the sexual tension is prominent as Rick tries to work through the mystery and secrets surrounding Whitney. Whitney, who has always been in love with Rick, has secrets that she must keep, even if she's keeping them from Rick. I loved how strong both characters were and how genuine their emotions were also. Tenorio blends the perfect amounts of suspense, romance, mystery and action to create a great story that kept me on the edge of my seat. My only complaint was that it was a little too predictable at times. Regardless of that, it was a still a very good read.
STRONG CHARACTERS IN THIS ROMANTIC SUSPENSE Second in the series, WANTED is fine as a stand-alone. This was a new author for me, so I wasn't sure what I was getting. Romantic Suspense is touch and go for me. What I find most common is a lot of sex and very little story. WANTED is different .... the intimate moments actually add to the story. Rick is a former marine. now working for the sheriff's department in his home town. Whitney is his best friend and has been since they were young children. Secretly, Whitney has been in love with Rick for years, but has never made a move in that direction. There are things that she has done ... things she's deeply ashamed of. When the town's 'bad boy' is found murdered, all eyes look at his ex ... Whitney. Rick is caught between a rock and a hard place. He knows she's hiding something, but he sure doesn't want to arrest her for murder. Rick is another damaged soul. He's lived through terrible things while in the Marines and he doesn't feel he can offer anyone anything. But as he investigates the murder, he draws closer and closer to Whitney. I like strong characters .. the ones who strive to be better, not only for someone else, but also for themselves. Rick and Whitney are both strong. I liked watching them take small steps toward each other. I could see the hesitation, the fear they would be judged by the other. All in all, a good read. One murder turns into three murders and the ending was exciting. Definitely worth the time reading. My thanks to NetGalley / Entangled Publishing for supplying an ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.
With "Wanted" you get a suspenseful book including the story about the two protagonists Whitney and Rick who were friends since they were children themselves. It's great to get to know a book in which the characters have a long history which isn't often the case. Characters who are affected in a way that is really interesting to observe- so interesting that it was actually difficult to put the book down, even for a minute. Most of the times I was sitting in front of the book thinking " Why do they do this to themselves?" I just hoped for a positive change of action-just because they deserve it. The story line was strong, the characters in my opinion even stronger. Characters that you really should meet yourself!
Major Love for this story- Rick and Whitney make this story so good! ***A gifted copy was provided by the publisher for my honest review**** This is a romantic suspense about the local law enforcement guy who has to investigate his friend (girl) for murder causing feelings, strong feelings between them. The girl has been in head over heels in love with him for many years and feels so betrayed that he would believe that he would believe this of her. Rick was in the military for years and when he got out, he came back and went to work in law enforcement in his town. There was his friend Whitney and their friendship was as tight as before. Whitney has a sister named Alison that she takes care of. Whitney is accused and killing an ex boyfriend and Rick is the investigator assigned to prove that she is the killer. The more he investigates, the more secrets he finds out about his best friend and the desires he finds that she has for him …and oh so much more she has been hiding. Rick finds out how she protected him when he was around before and even now she is covering for him, protecting him at her peril . Someone is trying to frame Whitney or Whitney did the killing- that is driving Rick crazy- does he allow a murderer go free to protect the woman he is falling in love with. So many twists and turns in this story. The story starts out with one sided love and by the end so much passion, craziness, suspense. I was on the edge of my seat and omg Rick is one hard nosed Alpha and Whitney is such a sweet woman-I could feel how she has been trying to keep herself held together for so long but it was by a thread. Sweet, passionate, kind and all too trusting when maybe she shouldn’t be and has some horrors from her past- which Rick may have some horrors in his past of a different kind. This is book two of the Deadly Secrets series—I think possibly reading book 1 may have helped some but this could be a standalone. I recommend this story because it has the suspense, mystery, romance and hot passion that readers look for in today’s reading and the author has it here. My rating: 4.2 stars ****
This is a heartbreakingly sorrowful yet intensely compelling book to read. There is so much torment and brokenness for both Whitney and Rick. But there is a beautiful love and friendship underneath their broken layers. They help and soothe the other. It is quite beautiful how they depend on one another and also protect each other fiercely. I felt so much for both. The storyline was a dark one faced with tough situations and lots of twists. I was shocked how Dee ended the story but at the same time it worked really well. I had read the first book in this series and this one did not disappoint just like the first one did not either. Dee is a phenomenal writer who keeeps you hooked into her stories. I look forward to reading more in this series. I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher.
I thought this was an amazing story! While it can easily be read stand alone, it is definitely more enjoyable if you've read Convicted, the first in the series. In this book we get to know Whitney Peterson, Rick Trelane's lifelong friend. Now it seems he wants her as much more than a friend but she has secrets. Secrets Rick can't let lie. Will they be able to get past all the obstacles in their in way?? This was a tough one to put down once I started it! Great writing, characters, and a story filled with mystery and suspense had me turning page after page. You will want to put this one high on the tbr pile. I highly recommend it.
The one book that I have read by author Dee Tenorio did not prepare me for this. I have never read Dee Tenorio suspense writer. I have read Dee Tenorio contemporary romance author. Wanted is a suspenseful, mystery, thriller romance. Surprises around every corner, a little romance thrown in and a lot of adventure. I received an ARC of Wanted in exchange for an honest review. If you love action filled mystery suspense you will love