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She’s living in fear. He’s a born protector. There’s a missing man holding them apart.
Candace Cutler intended to leave her abusive husband, until he vanished one snowy Alaska night. She lives in a limbo of dread, wanting only to care for her son. And now a cocky young pilot has moved in next door.
Cayden Shaughnessy is a born protector. He doesn’t like the rumors about the guy who left a single mom and cute kid next door—and who’s he kidding? He finds the mom pretty adorable, too, in a hot, can’t-resist sort of way.
But Candace doesn’t have time for games. Too many loose ends leave her unsettled, and she can’t help expecting violence to step once more from the shadows...
WARNING: Contains two brief descriptions of violence; however, justice is served. Also contains hot loving, a Top Gun-worthy fly-by, sex and more sizzling Shaughnessys.
Copyright 2011, Morgan Q. O'Reilly
All rights reserved, Lyrical Press, Inc.
I opened the door to three men on my porch—my neighbor Ben, a cop and the lieutenant. Sunglasses place, I didn’t speak.
“Ma’am.” The policeman extended his card. “Detective Burrows. I’d like to talk with you for a few minutes.”
“Friends are concerned about your husband.”
Nice of them to worry about Quint now. Never mind the man was twice my size. Already high, my blood pressure cranked up a notch.
“I’ll talk to you, but not them,” I told the detective.
“What happened to your face, Candy?” the lieutenant asked.
“The name is Candace.” My hand covered my cheek. “I told you, an accident. What business is it of yours anyway?”
“Call me Cay,” he said, unimpressed by my growling.
Ben, gave him an annoyed glance, but spoke to me. “Where’s Quint? He tore out of here and never came back.” The detective held up a hand that Ben ignored. “After all the yelling, I can only assume he finally got fed up with your grief. What’d you do? Poison him?”
I lost it, shouldered the detective aside and got up in Ben’s face. I ripped off my sunglasses and pointed to my eye. “Yeah, Quint outweighs me by more than a hundred pounds and packs a punch that would knock you out, and did worse than this to me, but I’m still standing. If he’s running, he’d better keep running because if he ever dares to show his face back here I’ll have his gun aimed his way.” Trembling with fury, I poked his chest. “He’ll never touch me again. But hey, thanks for coming to help when you heard the screams. Six months have passed and you just now think to ask?”
Ben backed up.
Detective Burrows wrapped an arm around my waist to pull me back and I yelped.
“Get your hands off me! Those ribs hurt, bubba!”
The man released me. I hugged myself, doing my best to breathe.
Fly-boy grabbed my shoulders, holding me upright. “He broke your ribs?” He vibrated with fury, but his hold was gentle. I was too dizzy to notice much more.
“All but. They were cracked. He kicked me. That was right before he left, and they’d pretty much healed until last Saturday when some drunk decided to play chicken.” I gasped for air. He leaned me against the side of the house. The secrets I’d meant to keep had pretty much leaped from my mouth.
“Nice neighborhood here, when men sworn to protect citizens let a bully beat up a woman.” The words were growled at Ben, who’d been stunned into immobility.
The detective asked, “You’re the vic in the accident last Saturday?”
Nodding, I continued to focus on breathing. “The police have full documentation on my injuries from the accident and from the night Quint left. Two separate events.” It was more than I’d planned on saying. “Detective, get these two out of here,” I gasped. “One never lifted a finger to help, the other…wasn’t in town. They’re not…part of this.”
“Mom!” Rob’s feet hit the entryway floor and pushed he way to my side. “Are you okay?”
“I’m okay, sweetie. These men were just leaving.” I glanced at the detective, but spoke to Rob. “They want to know where your dad is.” Thankfully my breath was returning.
Burrows didn’t entirely relent. “I need your phone number, ma’am.”
I gave him the numbers and the lieutenant concentrated on memorizing them.
The detective made a note as Rob took control. “She needs to rest.”
Lord love him, my son grew an inch taller in that minute.