Wednesday, October 15, 2014
CRISIS OF SERENITY
Tess Copeland lives a quiet life in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Thanks to the government's witness protection program, she enjoys the freedom of never having to glance over her shoulder to see if someone is following her. Life has become safe, serene...and boring. Her heart longs for something more than just existing...until a ghost from her past shatters her serenity.
Once upon a time, Tess was caught between the FBI and the men the feds were trying to take down. Jake Coleman is the U.S. Marshal who extracted her from the jam she was n with the FBI, a man she could have fallen for...hard...if she had let herself. It's been a year since she last saw Jake, and in all the months that have passed, he's never tried to find her. The longer he keeps his distance, the more she wonders why his absence hurts so much.
When a stranger comes to town searching for her, all of Tess' old fears are resurrected. Asking Jake for help with her current crisis might lure him into a dangerous trap involving murder, kidnapping, and revenge. When Jake and Tess come face-to-face with the past, they will have to use all their wits to survive.
Denise Moncrief is a Southern girl who has lived in Louisiana all her life, and yes, she has a drawl. She has a wonderful husband and two incredible children, who not only endure her writing moods, but also encourage her to indulge her writing passion. Besides writing romantic suspense, she enjoys traveling, reading, and scrapbooking.
Accounting is a skill she has learned to earn a little money to support her writing habit. She wrote her first story when she was a teen, seventeen handwritten pages on school-ruled paper and an obvious rip-off of the last romance novel she had read. She's been writing off and on ever since, and with more than a few full-length manuscripts already completed, she has no desire to slow down.
With my purse strap crossed over my body, I ventured out my front door, but not without drawing in a quick breath of bravado and glancing right and then left. No one seemed to be lurking in the shadows, waiting for me to make a dumb move, like leave my apartment to do my laundry. The weight of the .22 caliber handgun hidden in the depths of my purse bounced against my ribcage. It wouldn’t do anyone much damage, but maybe it would injure a bad guy enough to slow him down for me to get away.
I winced. The rhythmic pounding of the gun on my chest would probably leave a nice purple bruise. When I approached the entrance to the small Laundromat on the grounds of the apartment complex, I shifted the basket to my hip and then pushed the door open with my butt. Before I could take another step, the basket slid out of my arm.
Anger shot through me. So much of my paycheck had been surrendered to retailers who sold me towels and underwear. No one was going to take my laundry. I turned to face the thief, ready to yank my weapon from where I had concealed it. My hand stalled when it should have kept moving. I froze as I stared into the eyes of Iverson.
He passed me and entered the small coin-operated laundry, then deposited the load on a nearby washer before turning to me, a smirk of pure delight covering his handsome features. I never understood how someone so good looking could be so heart ugly. He seemed to be waiting for me to speak first. I bit my lower lip to keep from blurting what I was thinking. My thoughts had to do with him and the fires of hell and how I might help him make his journey there, but he was still law enforcement, and there was nothing I could do to speed his journey that was even remotely legal.
Finally, he took a step toward me. I remained frozen, still propping the door open with my backside, my hand clutching the shoulder strap of my bag, fingers twitching and itching to dig inside the purse’s depths to retrieve the gun. I refused to run like a scared little girl. I’d faced off with the coward before; I could do it again. He didn’t scare me…much.
“So, Tess…” He smiled, a wicked glint in his brown eyes. “Can I call you Tess? Or have you assumed a different identity again?”
I closed my eyes, hoping Iverson was only a nightmare. When I opened them, he was still standing two paces away from me.
“You know what name I use or you wouldn’t be here.” I glanced at the nametag above his left breast pocket. It appeared someone besides me was using a false identity. “Officer Jacobs.” Our eyes met, understanding passing between us like a bolt of electricity. There was no way his presence in Gatlinburg was a coincidence. I stepped closer to him, the door bumping my butt as it shut behind me. “I’m a live and let live sort of girl. You live your life and I’ll live mine, and let’s don’t get in each other’s way. Agreed?”
He laughed. “You’ve always had more guts than someone in your position should have.”
I groaned. I’d heard that before from his partners in crime. No one had been able to tie Iverson to the killings, but I was certain he had played a part in the double murder of Les Corona and Mark Padget, as well as the stabbing death of Anya. Both Iverson and I had left the shadow of those crimes behind in Colorado.
He glanced up and down my body, causing me to shiver with disgust. Why did men like him always look at me that way? I studied my reflection in my full-length mirror every morning. I wasn’t what anyone would call hot. Not by any definition. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t have body issues. I was fine with me the way I was. Always had been.
I had changed my appearance so many times over the years when I was running from the law and the bad guys that it was satisfying to look like me for a change. My dirty blonde hair was long and unruly, tied in a ponytail at that moment. My hourglass figure was bottom heavy, accentuated by the tight pants I was wearing. A man once said I had a bubble butt. Height-wise, I probably came up to the shoulder of Iverson’s six-foot frame. My proudest feature was my trim waist. I was what the fashion industry derisively called a plus size. An insulting label, since I was a size 10.
“Do the local cops know who you are?” he asked, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
“Do the local cops know who you are?” I countered with just as much scorn.
A mischievous fire glinted in Iverson’s eyes. “I’ll stay out of your way and you stay out of mine.” I didn’t believe he meant to leave me alone. He closed the final step between us, so close I could smell his cheap cologne and the sickly sweet scent of chocolate-covered donut. “But if you cross me, Tess…” His eyes shifted over my shoulder. From where he stood, there was a clear view between buildings 8 and 9, straight across the street toward the side of Joyce’s daycare center.
I narrowed my eyes. In that moment, Iverson and I had a moment of total understanding. His threat to Joyce snatched my breath from my lungs. My knees wobbled a little. I was afraid I’d go down if I didn’t say or do something quickly. I sputtered the first thing that came to mind. “Leave her alone or I swear I’ll kill you.”
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