The woman had secrets no cop could ignoreUndercover police officer Zack McIntyre couldn't make sense of the beautiful, mysterious stranger who had saved him from death. She cared for him with skilled, gentle hands, awakening passions within him, but her haunted eyes spoke of secrets, lies and terrible fear. And he knew he couldn't rest unless he kept her safe from harm--and made her his own. Endless months in the shadows, hiding from a killer, had taught Dr. Krystle Maller to trust no one. This strong, compelling man made her long to take shelter, just for a little while, in the circle of his arms. But could she trust even him with her deadly secret?
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May 31, 2008
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Excerpt from Protecting His Witness by Marie Ferrarella
He could sense the blood leaving his body.
His hand turned sticky where he pressed it against his side and he began to feel dangerously light-headed.
With effort, Zack McIntyre forced himself to focus on his end goal: to get away and find help.
He cursed himself for letting this happen, but who would have expected to be jumped in the alley right behind an Internet caf�? Especially in an upscale neighborhood. When the man he'd been following had slipped out the back a minute before the owner closed down, Zack had been about a minute behind him.
Once outside, he was jumped. The confrontation-- and ultimate end result--had been unavoidable.
The alleyway had been deserted. At eleven o'clock, he had no doubts that most of the people who lived around here were already home, most likely in bed. He'd fled, bleeding, before anyone else showed up.
The shop was located at the tail end of a small strip mall nestled on the corner of a not-so-frequented thoroughfare. Facing the street, it was flanked on three sides by three separate housing developments. Zack had managed to escape into the smallest one, all while doing his best not to pass out. Whimsically named Stonehenge, the development was comprised of tiny, cookie-cutter white brick houses sealed two or three to a package, their backs all turned to a common alley.
It was through this alley that he found himself weaving.
Zack strained to hear the sound of approaching sirens. All he heard were crickets searching for love and companionship. That meant no one had found the body. Yet.
His side felt as if it was on fire.
Looking down, he was surprised there weren't any flames radiating between his fingers as he continued pressing against the wound. Blood kept seeping along his palm.
All attempts at calling this in had failed. There was a radio tower not too far off. That and the power lines crackling along the right-of-way in the damp night air played havoc with cell phone signals, imprisoning them within their phones.
Nothing was coming or going.
Just his luck.
Par for tonight. The car he was using had had two of its tires slashed. No getaway there.
Zack staggered and nearly fell, face forward. It was hard holding on to consciousness when his head was spinning so badly. It felt as if the edges were slipping through his fingers. Everything was exceedingly blurry and out of focus.
He needed help.
Arriving at one door, clutching his side with one hand, he pounded on a door with the other. When that yielded nothing, he tried another door. And another.
No one answered. No one stirred. Either he'd somehow managed to stumble into a ghost development, or people had finally learned not to open their doors after eleven at night.
Good for them, he thought. Bad for him.
"I should have arranged to get shot at noon," Zack muttered to himself. Everything in his head became progressively jumbled.
Damn it, somebody had to be home, someone had to answer their door. He just needed one person, just one. That and a first-aid kit.
Hell, he could do without the person as long as he had the kit. He wasn't Rambo, but he knew enough to be able to stitch up his own wound.
As long as he didn't lose any more blood.
Somehow, he made it to yet another back door. His fist outstretched to try to rouse whoever lived inside, Zack stumbled again, the toe of his boot hitting uneven gravel. This time, he pitched forward as the darkness around him descended, moving in closer until it merged with the growing darkness within.
And then there was nothing.
Kasey eased her small car around the corner, getting off the main drag and weaving in and out of the small, honeycomb-like streets that eventually fed into the area where she lived. As far as houses went, these left a lot to be desired. The small development was filled with either young couples just starting out, or older people who'd gleefully slipped out of the rat race and had only a few basic requirements in their lives: shelter and quiet.
But beggars and their kind couldn't be choosers.
Hers was the smallest model, with only one bedroom, one bath, a tiny living room and an even tinier kitchen. There was no sense pretending a family room or dining room existed. In a practical sense, this suited her purposes just fine. She could almost see everything in one long, sweeping glance as long as the bedroom door was open. No one could hide here. No one could surprise her.
Which was just the way she liked it.
In addition to the condo, she also had a tiny, one-car garage nestled in between two other, slightly bigger garages, each belonging to one of the houses on either side of hers. At a quick glance, it almost looked as if the other two garages were trying to squeeze hers out of existence.