Throughout her dazzling career, bestselling author Jill Marie Landis has consistently written stories filled with unforgettable sensuality, creating characters whose vibrant emotions instantly sweep you into their lives. Now in Heat Wave, Landis turns up the heat and delivers her most riveting novel yet.
Private investigator Kat Vargas once cared about someone so much it hurt. Once she lived a dream life with her first love and fiance--until betrayal followed by shattering tragedy ended it all. Kat has sworn never to get too close to anyone again. But now the peace and quiet of Twilight Cove is driving the straight-talking, no-nonsense P.I. crazy. Then a prospective new client shows up at the door. Moved by his stubbornness and sincerity, Kat takes his case, breaking a promise to relax, recoup, and rethink her solitary life.
Ty Chandler is desperate to locate the child he fathered nineteen years ago--a child he never knew existed until now. Although he's no stranger to heartache, he is irresistibly drawn to the exotic, vibrantly alluring P.I. Their search not only leads them to Ty's troubled, strong-willed daughter, but into each others' arms. Though Kat courageously works to help Ty reunite his family, she's terrified of confronting a painful secret of her own--one that will cost her the love of the only man capable of tearing down the walls she's built around her heart.
From the tranquil beaches of the central California coast to the fast and furious streets of L.A., Heat Wave is a passionate and heartfelt story of families divided and brought back together, the magic of hope for new beginnings, and the overwhelming power love has to heal even the most battered hearts.
From the Hardcover edition.
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April 25, 2005
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Excerpt from Heat Wave by Jill Marie Landis
TWILIGHT COVE, CALIFORNIA five days later . . .
Another night. The same old nightmare.
The sorrowful sound of wind chimes. The roar of the surf. The tang of salt on the air. Dense, gray sheets of rain. The shimmering pavement. Tall stalks of sugarcane bowed by the storm, slick with moisture.
Her vision blinded by tears, she tries to blink against the light, to comprehend the blazing glare of headlights aimed straight toward her. The impact. The screech of metal on metal.
The never-ending scream that fills the silence afterward.
Kat awoke tangled in twisted sheets, sweaty, alone.
She shoved back the covers with her good hand, stepped out of bed, and walked through puddles of morning sunlight streaming through the windows. The unfamiliar house was cool and silent.
It had been a bad idea to agree to house-sit. She could feel it in her bones. She'd be better off in Long Beach working one-handed. At least her mind would be occupied.
The minute Jake had driven off with Carly and Christopher and their mutt, she started wondering how in the hell she ever let him convince her to take six weeks off. The peace and quiet were already driving her nuts.
She should have known her nightmares would come with her.
She paused by the window. In the distance, the Pacific sparkled like a polished aquamarine. The summer sun worked diligently to burn off the thin layer of morning haze that hovered over the tranquil California coastline.
Poised on a sandstone bluff a couple of miles away, the seasonal resort of Twilight Cove was a tourist stop for summer sojourners searching for old California with its golden, sun-drenched beaches and small-town atmosphere.
Downstairs, she found the damp chill of the night air still lingered in the shadows though it was already late morning. The cozy Craftsman-style house Jake was refurbishing had absorbed his family's happiness. Photos of Jake, Carly, and Chris were on display in every room. Carly's stunning oil paintings, works that included ghostly white figures set against vibrant local landscapes, adorned the walls.
Kat picked up a framed photo of Chris in a baseball uniform and rubbed her thumb over the glass. It was still hard for her to believe that Jake, of all people, had a kid. Though she'd never told him so, she envied his newfound happiness, his pride in Christopher, the love he'd found with Carly.
She set the photo down. Beside it was one of Carly and Chris walking along the beach at Twilight Cove. The love in Carly's eyes was there for all the world to see, hopeful, fragile--as love always is--and yet constant.
Kat teased Jake, but deep down she was happy for him. He had a family now. Something she had once wanted.
She crossed the open, casual living-dining room, thinking it was just too damned ironic that Jake, who'd sworn off romance, had wound up married again and living on an out-of-the-way road named Lover's Lane.
She tried to flex her injured hand and winced. Getting along with a bulky bandage was a chore, but she'd already regained some mobility in her thumb and fingers.
Every time she looked at her left hand, she was reminded of just how far betrayal could drive a perfectly normal person to commit an irrational act.
It was also a brutal reminder of what happened whenever her feelings got in the way. Whenever she thought with her heart, her head stopped working and she wound up hurt.
The sun was already above the top of the eastern hills behind the house. She couldn't wait to make a pot of coffee and stretch out in one of the teak lounges on the back deck, lift her face to the sun, and make up some of the sleep she'd lost last night, but just as she reached the kitchen, the front doorbell rang.
She glanced down at the crumpled knit shorts and tank top she'd slept in, then up at the clock on the wall. It was later than she thought--already noon.
Jake's nearest neighbors were beyond shouting distance. The place was totally isolated.
Insistent, the bell chimed again.