For your enjoyment (I hope), here’s the first scene from my Wild Rose Press release, One and the Same. Please click on the title if you’d like to find out what happens next. You can get the book in either ebook or print form.
If Kate Williams could kick the police officer without ending up in one of the cells, she would do it. “Are you calling me a liar?”
“No, ma’am, I’m just saying I don’t believe you’ve got all the facts.”
Kate jerked away from the desk, shocked at the dark-haired officer’s comment. “And what other facts would you like me to give you? I’ve told you all I know. Her neighbors told me she went to visit with her mother on Friday, but when I called her mother this morning Erin wasn’t there.”
“You admitted you haven’t seen her in three years.”
“I haven’t seen her.” Kate brought her hands up and hit the desk in front of the man. “But just because I haven’t seen her doesn’t mean I haven’t kept in touch.”
“And she expected you to be here this week?”
“Yes, I’ve been telling you that for the last fifteen minutes.” Frustration jerked her upright and, by the look in his eyes now, she sensed the changed direction of his thoughts. She ignored his stare, glaring at his lust-filled expression. “I’m only saying this one more time before going to your supervisor. Erin and I planned this vacation together three months ago, and only last week she called me to confirm the dates. She told her elderly next door neighbor her mom was ill, and that she was going to visit with her. And now it’s nine on Monday morning.” Kate dragged in a deep breath. “I want something done to find her.”
“And yet no one knew you were coming today?”
Relief eased through her controlled uneasiness when his look moved away from her breasts.
“Not those two busybody old neighbors of hers or her boss and the other teachers at the high school,” the cop said.
“Why would she tell them?” Kate pointed in the man’s face, leaning tight into the desk. “Those two old women are the sweetest, kindest people I’ve met in a long time, so quit being so damn condescending.”
“Hotchkiss, what’s going on here?”
Turning toward the new arrival, Kate held her breath for a moment at the sight of the heart-stopping man who briefly glared at the desk sergeant before turning to look at her. She swallowed around the sudden dryness of her mouth as the towering man moved closer.
Catching her lip between her teeth, she chewed on it while staring through half-closed eyes at the stunning male. He seemed familiar. Something about him, an awareness she couldn’t quite understand coursed through her system, yet she knew she’d never met him before. The man looked both imposing and definitely more male than her perception remembered. Strange, she thought. Something about his eyes, the shape of his mouth caught her attention. A shiver raced into her lower abdomen when those disturbing dark-brown eyes returned her frank stare.
For a moment, she thought he’d recognized her.
“Nothing that concerns you, Hunter,” the sergeant snapped.
“If this is about Erin Fitzgerald, it concerns me.”
Only my imagination, Kate thought with a sigh. He hasn’t recognized me.
“You may own half the state but this isn’t any of your business.”
“I was Erin’s friend.” He leaned in closer to the desk. “And her unofficial bodyguard.”
“Yeah.” The two men stared at each other. “I guess you should hear this.” She stared from the officer to the newcomer, their dislike for each other prickled the air around her. “This woman claims she’s Erin’s friend.”
“I don’t claim it, I am Erin’s friend.” Twisting back to face the uniformed man, she placed her hands on her hips. “My name is Kate Williams. Erin expected me to arrive today.”
“You’re Katherine Ad…” the man behind her whispered. Louder, he added in a harsh tone, “You know Erin?”
“Since college, she claims.”
Anger widened her eyes, deepening her alto voice an octave lower than normal. Her old acting voice, sexy and sultry, full of promises most men seemed to enjoy. Trying to control the deep tone, she dragged in a long breath. “It’s the truth, Sergeant. Why would I lie about it?”
“Yeah, Hotchkiss, why would she lie about that?”
Kate dragged in a deep breath, refusing to look behind her at the overwhelming male. When he moved to her left side, brushing his hand lightly over her upraised arm, she shivered at the warmth of his accidental touch.
Crazy, she thought.
“You tell me, Hunter.” The officer pointed a thin hand at her. “You’ve spent time the last few weeks with Erin, has she ever mentioned…her?”
“She may have mentioned her, once or twice.”
“Oh, just forget about it.” She dismissed them with a wave of her hand. “If you’re not going to do anything to find my friend, I’ll just have to do it myself.”
“Kate.” A large hand gentled onto her squared shoulder, sending a jolt of unexpected heat racing down her left arm. The hand dropped quickly as she glared at it. “Your friend is an adult.”
“My friend is missing.”
“The police don’t normally consider an adult a missing person until a reasonable amount of time has passed,” the bigger man said.
“She wouldn’t take off without a reason.” Jerking away from his disturbing presence, Kate moved toward the large picture window before she turned back to face the two men. “She knew I was coming today.”
Empty coldness settled inside her tight body, an aloneness like she’d never felt before. She’d looked forward to her visit with Erin and had become angry and sad when one of the elderly women who lived near her friend told her Erin wasn’t home. Erin had promised to discuss the possibly of the two of them doing a television series together. But she was gone. Kate didn’t understand why her disappearance left such a void inside her. All she knew was that it did.
Hunter’s warm bass voice sent the loneliness back into the depths of her soul. “Look,” she said, “Erin knew I was arriving today. You’ll never get me to believe she left on her own. I want something done to find her.”
“Hunter, you handle this.” Bored with the conversation, the sergeant said, “You probably have all the time in the world to try to soothe a distressed woman.”
She followed the second man from the chilled air of the police station into the warmth of the early morning sunshine. A slight breeze lifted her hair, sending the strands flying around her cheeks. She pushed it aside as she glanced around the quiet street. Very little traffic buzzed past her this early in the morning as she walked to her car blocks from the police station. Heat soaked through the loose material of her blouse and skirt, and she relished the feel of the sun warming the length of her long legs. Peacefulness seemed to linger in the air around her, warming the chill of her anxiety.
“Erin told my mother she was expecting a visitor sometimes this week.” A rough finger touched her clamped hand with brief warmth, stopping her forward progress. She glanced up at Hunter in surprise. “With my luck, that visitor would be you. Erin’s a sly one.”
“Your mother?” Ignoring his last mumbling remark, she said, “Erin’s neighbor is your mother?”
“Mrs. Hunter, yes.” A smile formed around his kissable lips, sending sparks of color into his eyes. He didn’t elaborate on what had him mumbling earlier. “I take it you met her.”
“Yes.” She smiled. “Almost as soon as I drove into Erin’s driveway, two women marched up to my rental to see what I was doing there.”
“I know that now.” Suddenly, she realized why he’d seemed so familiar earlier. “You look a lot like your Mom.”
He raised his brow. “You can see that?”
His pleased glance warmed over her face, traveling from her hair to her eyes. When his gaze moved down her face to her lips, she inhaled a quick, sharp breath. He jerked away from her and pivoted toward the early morning traffic.
The heat of the morning sun warmed hot over her tingling skin.
“Usually people don’t recognize us as mother and son.”
“They don’t?” She touched his broad back lightly before dropping her hand to her side. “I don’t see why not. Your eyes and the upward curve of your mouth are the same as your Mom’s.”
His finger lifted to trace his bottom lip. “I never really noticed.”
She had an insane urge to place her finger on those glistening lips of his, to trace their sun-warmed shape. “Very nice.”
A tight grin formed around that same mouth, moving slow to his darkening eyes. “Yours aren’t…” He moved a few more steps into the parking lot. Without looking at her, he stiffened up his back before bringing the conversation to the original one. “Why do you think Erin’s in trouble? She probably just took off with that professor friend of hers.”
“Why did you report Erin’s…disappearance to the police?” He looked at her now, his face pulling in tight lines. “She’s seeing someone, you know.”
Thrown by his announcement, she stood her full height and lifted her head up a dignified notch. “So you think I’m overreacting too.”
“I didn’t say that, Kate.”
“Don’t call me Kate.” Raising her hand, she continued, “I never gave you permission to call me by my first name.”
“Would you prefer I call you Katherine?”
“No, I prefer you not call me anything at all.” Twisting around on her heel, she stumbled off the edge of the sidewalk onto the street. As she regained her balance, she glared up at him. “Don’t you dare help me.”
“I wouldn’t think of helping you, Katherine.”
Stopping at the door of her rental, she placed her hands on the handle and pulled hard before she remembered to push the unlock button on the key chain. She sneaked a glance in his direction. He still wore the same bemused expression. She wanted to knock him on his butt. Why she yearned so badly to do that, she’d try to figure out later. Right now, she needed to get away from the temptation.
“No one has called me that in years,” she said.
“Your name used to be Katherine, didn’t it?”
“What?” Did he recognize her? “It’s simply Kate now.”
“My name is Matthew Hunter.” Bending in a graceful bow as she stared at him, he stood straight again. “And yes, you may call me Matt. I believe you probably know who I am from Erin, Katherine.”
The urge to ram the car into his solid body nearly blinded her. Opening the door of her vehicle with as much dignity as she could muster, she slid into the plush seat and closed the door.
“I mean it.” His sudden appearance crouching next to her window startled a frightened breath from her lungs, tightening her hands on the steering wheel. “It’s probably a mistake, but I want you to call me Matt.”
Soft and gentle, the tenderness in his voice moved over her like a caressing hand over her bare skin. His voice and the harshness of his words didn’t seem to fit together, but she didn’t plan on getting to know him well enough to be concerned.
Striking the sensual feeling from her, she faced him as she rolled down the window. The outdoorsy male scent flowing from him mixed with the scent of the nearby horse ranches and breezed into the space around her, sending a tingling ache low in her belly. She didn’t need this now, but maybe she could use it.
“I’ll call you Matt on one condition.”
He smirked, but didn’t move from the spot he’d claimed near her.
“If you help me find Erin.”
He seemed disappointed, surprised.
Off-guard, she thought. But why did her request surprise him?
“Look.” He leaned closer to her opened window, amazement still widening his dark eyes. As if he’d expected her to say something else completely, she thought. “Your friend isn’t in any danger. She’s fine.”
“You don’t understand.” He placed a strong hand onto the lower edge of the opened window and leaned closer to her. “I was her bodyguard for the last five weeks. Believe me, she’s in no danger.”
“Yet she hired you.”
“Matt, answer me this one question.” She touched his tightened fingers, but snatched her hand back before the roughness of his skin tempted her to move beyond a friendly touch. “If she wasn’t in any danger, why did she need a bodyguard?”
If you’d like to read more, go to The Wild Rose Press.