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eBook by Jessica Andersen
eBook Category: Romance/Suspense/Thriller
eBook Description: Time Was Running Out ... Bear Claw Creek's young girls were disappearing and forensics expert Alissa Wyatt was in way over her head. Now her only choice was to partner with Detective Tucker McDermott--the very same man she'd sworn to keep her distance from. But suddenly, the tables turned. Alissa became a madman's next target--and her only hope to stay alive lay within the safety of Tucker's strong arms. As the danger mounted, the killer on her trail was nothing compared to the feelings provoked by reuniting with Tucker ... or the consequences she'd face if she walked away once again.
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Intrigue
Fictionwise Release Date: January 2006
20 Reader Ratings:
Alissa Wyatt pulled her VW into the back parking lot of the Bear Claw Creek Police Department—BCCPD—five minutes after the task force meeting was set to begin.
Damn. She hated being late. She yanked off her BCCPD ball cap, twisted her honey-colored hair into a businesslike bun and shoved her sketches into a nylon portfolio. Then she bolted for the back entrance, trying not to slip on a patch of ice and rock salt.
The fierce Colorado mountain winter was cold and raw, but to Alissa, it felt like coming home. Granted, home was a relative term in her experience, but that was the goal here, to make a home. To find a place for herself.
She shouldered through the heavy door and sped past the desk clerk, heading for the back conference room at a fast walk. Though Chief Parry might overlook her tardiness, the others wouldn't. Bear Claw Creek's finest had been slow to welcome the three women who made up the new Forensics Division. Not because of their sex, but because Alissa and her two best friends from way back in the Denver Police Academy had been brought in to replace Fitzroy O'Malley.
The now-retired Fitz was an icon. A one-man crime lab who'd been a fixture in the mountain cop shop since long before most of the veterans had been rooks. And now those rooks-turned-veterans resented the three-woman team that had been brought in to run the newly expanded Bear Claw Creek Crime Lab.
Worried about the impression she might make, Alissa broke into a jog while she shrugged out of her bulky parka.
"You're late," a voice said from behind her. The dark, masculine tones grated along her nerve endings, sending up sparks where sparks had no place being.
She froze midstep, set her teeth and turned. Everyone knew Detective Tucker McDermott could move as silently as a wolf when he chose to, but it was still unnerving.
Rumor had it he could hunt as well as a wolf, that he never gave up until he caught his quarry—at which point he moved on to another territory. Another hunt.
Typical, she thought with a twist of irritation that had very little to do with the man in front of her and everything to do with men in general. But fair or not, McDermott bugged her for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was his sheer presence. A hint of wildness clung to him as he stood opposite her in the hallway, making her think of mountain air and a hawk's cry, even when he was dressed for work.
The professionally starched, cream-colored oxford didn't mute the iron strength that shone in his six-foot frame, in the taut muscles of his shoulders and chest, and in the wide-palmed hands that held a pair of fat folders. Though he wore trendy slacks and polished leather boots, the city veneer didn't sink beneath his skin. His dark, wavy hair was too long for convention, his skin too burnished for a desk job, even in the depths of winter. And his eyes were the gleaming brown of Bear Claw Canyon at sunset.
Alissa's artistic soul took a snapshot, saving the image of wilderness contained within walls, even as her instincts for self-preservation sent her back a step at the look of pure masculine irritation in his eyes.
She forced a smile and cursed the churn in her stomach. "Glad to see I'm not the only one running late."
"Actually, you are. Most of us have been here since last night." He lifted the folders. "The chief sent me for rental records."
Alissa hid the wince and clicked her teeth together to stem the explanation. He didn't need to know that she'd logged over thirty hours in the past two days, talking with the victims' families and the witnesses—such as they were—trying to assemble photographs and sketches. Trying to get a sense of the crimes. What bound them together. What set them apart.
Patterns and the lack thereof.
What was the use in explaining? She turned away from him. "We should get inside."
She noted that he didn't open the door for her, and cursed herself for noticing. But before she could slip inside the packed-full room, he leaned down, close enough that she could feel his warmth and smell the woodsy scent that clung to him like a second skin.
"Don't worry, I won't hold the door for you. I remember that you don't like it."
The memory of that one stupid night, the temptation of it whispered along the side of her throat like a caress.
Yeah, she remembered, too. And, damn, she wished she didn't. That had almost been a colossal mistake. So she shot him a glare and hissed, "There's nothing to remember."
But as she stalked into the room and ignored the other cops' stares, his soft, mocking chuckle followed her. Shamed her.
Then she saw the photographs of three teenage girls tacked along one wall of the conference room, and Tucker McDermott, that night, and even her problems with her coworkers faded into the background as she was reminded why she was there. Why they were all there.
Three girls were missing, and their time was running out.
If it hadn't already.
Chief Parry stood at the front of the room, a fit, stern man in his late fifties, with salt-shot brown hair and a neatly trimmed beard. He didn't comment on Alissa's tardiness, but a roomful of eyes followed her to the single empty seat in the corner between Maya Cooper and Cassie Dumont, her friends and the core of the new Bear Claw Creek Forensics Division—BCCFD.
Copyright © 2006 by Jessica S. Andersen