Who wanted her dead?
Having rescued Cassidy McKnight from kidnappers in South America, Gabe Sinclair thought his job was done. Not that the former Navy SEAL could ever forget the brave, beautiful single mother. But when the danger followed her home, Gabe promised to protect her. Why anyone would want to kill Cassidy was a mystery. Was the motive related to the orphaned toddler Cassidy was raising, a sweet little girl who brought out the father figure in maverick Gabe? Or did a newly revealed family secret have killer consequences?
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February 11, 2008
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Excerpt from Lethal Deception by Lynette Eason
Danger hung heavy in the air around her. It was time to go. Instinct, a nudging from God or just plain common sense told her the time was now. She'd been here a month getting to know the child in her arms, but even this three-hour wait for the taxi she'd called was too much time. Cassidy McKnight loved Tefe, a poor city located in the state of Amazonas, situated in the northern part of Brazil. But now, uneasiness rolled through her as she shifted twoand-a-half-year-old Alexis higher on her hip and scanned the dirt path that was supposed to pass for a road.
Tropical green trees swayed in the slight breeze, and the humidity pulled Cassidy's natural flame-colored curls even tighter against her head, causing the mass to lay heavy against the back of her neck.
"Come on, come on," she muttered, alternating amongst pacing, standing and tapping her foot. Patience had never been her strongest virtue. Where was the cab? "My Cass-ty," Alexis said, and lay her curly, blond head on Cassidy's shoulder.
"My Lexi," she answered, and planted a smacking kiss on the child's rosy cheek.
Alexis grinned, then sobered. "Want Mama." Cassidy's heart lurched. "I know, sweetie. I wish your mama was here, too."
Cassidy nodded. "Yes, Daddy, too."
Alexis looked up at the sky. "In heaven with Jesus?"
Cassidy blinked back tears and whispered, "Yeah, in heaven with Jesus."
Anna, one of the relief workers from the orphanage and also a woman Cassidy called friend, walked up. "Taxis take forever around here. You might be better off hiking it."
Before Cassidy could respond, Alexis pointed to the sky and said, "Mama, Daddy with Jesus."
Anna blew out a sad sigh, looked at Cassidy and said, "You'd think God would have a special protection plan for people who build orphanages, wouldn't you?"
Cassidy gave a humorless smile, a mere twitch of her lips, although she nodded her agreement. She was ready to leave for more than one reason. Being here, the same country, the same jungle, where her brother had disappeared two years ago was taking its toll. They'd never found his body and Cassidy still had trouble accepting his death.
The taxi finally squealed around the corner and pulled up in front of the Amazon Orphanage. Dust swirled as it stopped.
"About time," Cassidy muttered, and moved through the gate. The sun beat hot as she nodded to the bearded driver and pulled open the back door. Anna followed and handed over a booster seat. Cassidy placed it in the backseat and tossed the diaper bag on the floorboard.
Alexis in her arms, she turned back to the relief worker who had short dark curls and compassionate dark blue eyes.
Anna said, "Here are the papers. I sent another copy to your fax machine. It should be waiting for you when you get home. God be with you."
Cassidy stuck the rubber-banded bundle in the back pocket of her jeans and leaned over to give the sweet woman a one-armed hug. "Thank you so much for all you've done."
Anna squeezed back and said, "Take care of the bebe pequeno--and yourself. You need to go. You really shouldn't have taken the risk to come here--not with the enemies your father has made with our local rebels."
Cassidy stepped out of the embrace. "I know. You're right, but I just couldn't stand the thought of some stranger picking up Alexis. She's had enough turmoil in her little life, and that would have added to her confusion."
Anna's expression said she agreed. Cassidy assured her, "I managed to e-mail Amy and let her know we were leaving and would be home by tomorrow late. Everything will be fine." Amy was a childhood friend taking care of things in the States, like decorating the room for Alexis, while Cassidy took care of things in Brazil.
Anna allowed a small smile, and Cassidy knew the woman would have done the same thing had she been in Cassidy's shoes. Anna motioned back toward the taxi. "I understand, but now it's time for you to leave. After that villager saw you, too many people know you are here."
No sooner had the words left her mouth than Cassidy's taxi churned its wheels and, with the passenger door still open, disappeared around the curve beyond the orphanage.
"Hey! What?" Choking on the swirling dust, she waved a hand in front of her face and stared after the vehicle.
She turned at the sound of another engine and understood. A jeep full of four men all holding rifles was headed directly toward them.
Anna grabbed her arm. "Run back through the gate!" As Cassidy turned to obey, bullets kicked up the dirt around her and she froze in shock, terror causing her to shake. Eyes closed, shoulders hunched, she clutched Alexis close. The child howled her protests and fear. Cassidy flinched with each report, but she knew that if these men wanted to kill her or the baby, they'd both be dead.
God, what is going on? Protect Alexis, please!