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The moment she drew her gun on him, Officer Breanna James knew that Adam Spence would be trouble. His touch thrilled her, his kisses floored her! But Breanna didn't trust her judgment when it came to men. And the cop in her couldn't help but wonder why Adam was here in Cherokee Corners—in the abandoned cottage next door...
After discovering her father unconscious and her mother missing, Homicide Detective Savannah Tallfeather teamed up with the one person she knew she could trust—Riley Frazier. But when their investigation uncovered more questions than answers, Savannah turned to Riley for comfort. His gentle embrace allowed her to momentarily forget her worries...
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Carla Cassidy is a New York Times bestselling author who has written more than 125 novels for Harlequin Books. She is listed on the Romance Writer's of America Honor Roll and has won numerous awards. Carla believes the only thing better than curling up with a good book to read is sitting down at the computer with a good story to write.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
"I always did have a thing for Pocahontas." The middle–aged man with the paunchy waistline grinned, exposing two missing teeth on the upper right side of his mouth.
Breanna James stifled a groan and instead toyed with the end of her braid and smiled coyly. "Then I guess this is your lucky night, cowboy," she replied. She'd be teased unmercifully by her fellow vice cops over the Pocahontas reference but she couldn't worry about that now.
"So...what are you doing out here in the middle of the night?" she asked the man.
"Looking for a party, sweet thing," he replied.
"What kind of a party?"
He grinned eagerly. "I was thinking maybe I could give you twenty–five bucks."
"Sounds like my kind of party," she replied and released her hold on her long braid. "And what would I have to do for that twenty–five dollars?"
He named a specific sex act and Breanna nodded. "You've got a deal, cowboy," she replied. "How about we go back here in the alley." She pointed to the dark alleyway between two storefronts where she knew two fellow officers were waiting to make the arrest.
He started into the alley, but stopped when he realized she wasn't following him. He slapped his forehead in a comical gesture of absentmindedness, then dug a twenty and five ones from his pocket and handed them to her.
"Now we're ready to party," she said as she tucked the bills into the purse she carried.
Eagerly, he walked into the alley, Breanna just behind him. "Hey, cowboy, you said you've always had a thing for Pocahontas. You ever had a fantasy about a woman cop?"
He stopped walking and frowned thoughtfully. "No, but now that you mention it, it might be kind of fun with handcuffs and all."
The man shouldn't be arrested for solicitation, Breanna thought. He should be arrested for stupidity. It wasn't until the two male officers stepped out of the shadows that he realized he was busted.
His smile fell and he cursed soundly, but didn't fight the officers as they handcuffed him and led him to an unmarked car along the curb.
"That's it for tonight." Abe Solomon, Breanna's partner, grinned. "You did good, Pocahontas. Looks like John, one Mr. Craig Bullock, won't be looking for a date again anytime soon."
She smiled at the gray–haired Abe. "All I know is I can't wait to get out of this outfit and into a baggy T–shirt and I hope I never see a pair of spike heels again in my life."
Abe chuckled. "Ah, but you wear them so well."
"Thank goodness I won't have to put them on for at least another week." Saturday nights Breanna often worked as an undercover prostitute, a detail she abhorred.
She and Abe got into their car to head back to the Cherokee Corners police station. "So, you have big plans for your days off?"
"Tomorrow my mother has planned one of her family gatherings. You know she's only happy when she has all of us under one roof." Breanna sighed tiredly. "It will be the usual madness and mayhem."
"Count your blessings. Some of us without families would give anything for a little bit of that madness and mayhem."
Breanna's heart instantly went out to her partner. Abe had lost his wife two years ago and they'd never had children. At fifty–five years old, his parents were gone and he'd been an only child.
She placed a hand on his forearm. "Come over to Mom and Dad's tomorrow. You know they'd love to have you join us."
Abe smiled. "Thanks, honey, but I've got a date with a basement that needs cleaning."
Breanna wrinkled her nose. "You know dinner at my parents' house would be far more entertaining than cleaning your basement."
"True, but it would also be far less productive. Besides, I promised myself if I plowed through the basement I'd take off and do a little fishing." He pulled into the parking lot in front of the brick building that housed the police department.
"Well, if you change your mind, the offer stands," Bre–anna replied. She and Abe had been partners for the past five years and Breanna thought of Abe as a favorite uncle.
Every time he spoke of retirement, Breanna got a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach.
Thirty minutes later she walked out of the building, eager to get home, to kiss her sweet little girl and get some much needed sleep.
More than anything she couldn't wait to get out of the tiny leather skirt and midriff blouse, the black lace hose and the dangerously high spiked heels. She looked like a floozy, which, of course, had been the idea. But, after standing out on a street corner for the past four hours being propositioned, she felt dusty and dirty and wanted a long, hot shower.
As always, a sense of homecoming engulfed her as the rambling Victorian two–story house came into view. The rest of the houses on the street were dark. It was after two and most people were asleep, but as usual Rachel had left the front porch light on for Breanna. Thank goodness for Rachel.
She barely gave the tiny cottage on the side of her property a glance as she pulled into the driveway. The place had been empty for months, much to Breanna's landlord's chagrin.
She shut off her car and climbed out. She had only taken a couple of steps toward the house when she froze, an uneasy tickling sensation at the back of her neck. As a cop, she never ignored this nebulous feeling.
She opened her purse and placed her hand on the butt of the gun resting inside as she looked around. Nothing seemed amiss at the front of the house. There was nobody lurking in the shadows, no reason for her to feel what she felt.
Then she heard it...the almost imperceptible slap of a bare foot against the grass. She shifted her gaze sideways and that's when she saw him...coming toward her from out of the shadows in front of the cottage.
Without hesitation, she pulled the gun from her purse and fell into an official stance, legs apart, gun held steadily before her with both hands.
"Whoa!" The deep voice broke the silence of the night and he instantly raised his hands out from his sides. "I hope you don't intend to shoot first and ask questions later."
Shadows still clung to him, making it impossible for her to discern his facial features, but she could see the broad width of his shoulders, his slim hips and long legs. "Who are you and what are you doing out here?" she asked as she kept the gun focused on the center of his body.
"Can I lower my arms without getting shot?" he asked.
"Not until you answer my questions."
"My name is Adam Spencer. I moved into the cottage this evening and I was just sitting on the porch relaxing before going to bed."
"Awfully late to be relaxing on a porch. Who did you rent the place from?"
"His name is Herman DeMoser. He looks like a young Jerry Lewis with Jimmy Durante's nose."
Breanna had never thought about it before, but the description perfectly fit her landlord, Herman. She eyed the stranger for another long moment. "You can put your arms down," she said, but didn't lower her gun.
"I had visions of a welcome wagon greeting me to the neighborhood," he said wryly. "None of my visions involved a beautiful woman holding me at gunpoint."
Suddenly Breanna felt a little silly, aware that she might have overreacted because of her police training. She finally lowered the gun, although she didn't put it back in her purse. "I apologize. All I saw was a man coming toward me from the shadows and...well... a woman can't be too careful."
"No, I apologize. I should have realized how it would look coming at you in the dark at this time of night." The shadows that had hidden his features fell away as he stepped closer, into the faint illumination of her porch light.
Her breath caught in her chest at the sight of his handsome features. Intense blue eyes gazed at her with obvious interest. His dark brown hair had just enough curl to fall impishly over his broad forehead. He had a classic nose over nicely shaped, sensual lips. A small cleft in his chin only added to his attractiveness.
As she watched, his gaze slid down the length of her, lingering on her bare midriff, then moved slowly down her lace–covered legs. She felt that gaze deep in the pit of her stomach, like a heated caress over her skin.
It had been a very long time since the sight of a handsome man had caused her heart to beat just a little bit faster, her hands to feel slightly clammy and shaky. She was obviously overtired and her reaction to him made her more than a little bit irritable.
"It was nice meeting you, but it's late and I've had a long night. I would highly recommend in the future you don't sneak up on a woman alone in the middle of the night."
He nodded. "Point taken. Good night." He stepped back into the shadows, then turned and walked toward the cottage. A moment later she heard the front door of the small house open, then close.
Only then did she tuck her gun back into her purse and head for her own front door. As she stepped into the hallway, she kicked off her high–heeled shoes and allowed her toes to splay in the throw rug that covered the gleaming hardwood floor.
When she'd first viewed the house for the possibility of renting, it had been a mess. Abused by former tenants, neglected over the course of time, the Victorian beauty seemed destined to remain abandoned for the rest of its days.
Breanna had seen the potential and had come to an agreement with Herman. For the next three years she would pay a minimal rental fee a month and she would do all the repair work at her own expense.
Since she had moved in, the house had slowly transformed itself thanks to the labor of her family. Her elder brother, Clay, had helped sand and refinish the floors. Her older sister, Savannah, and h...
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