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The P.I. [Secure eReader]
eBook by Cara Summers

eBook Category: Romance
eBook Description: Private investigator-slash-crime writer Kit Angelis is closing up shop when trouble walks in. Blond, as usual--the sexy sleuth's favorite flavor. But this damsel really is in distress: covered in blood, she's carrying a wedding dress, a bagful of cash, a recently fired handgun and Kit's card. And she can't remember a thing.... Suddenly Kit is embroiled in a deadly mystery--and the key is this sultry stranger. She might be a killer. Or she might be totally innocent. All Kit is sure of is that this woman is going to be the hottest thing that ever happened to him....

eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Blaze, Published: 2007
Fictionwise Release Date: June 2007

10 Reader Ratings:
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Friday, August 28—evening

SHE SURFACED SLOWLY, her senses awakening one by one. She felt the pain first—a hammering headache near her right temple. And heat. Humid air pressed in on her carrying the scent of exhaust fumes and the noise of traffic. Engines thrummed and a horn blasted in a staccato rhythm.

Close by, voices shouted. Angry male voices. She caught enough of what they were saying to wonder if their language was turning the surrounding air blue.

Where was she? What had happened? Panic bubbled up as the questions swirled through her mind. Opening her eyes, she managed to get a glimpse of her surroundings before a fresh wave of pain had her wincing and squeezing them shut again. She'd registered enough to know that it was dark out. Not pitch-black, but a sort of twilight-gray. She was in a car. The plastic divider that separated her from the front seat made her think it had to be a taxi.

Opening her eyes again, she gritted her teeth against the pain and took more careful stock of her surroundings. She was half lying on the backseat. The shattered window to her right gave her the first clue that she'd been in an accident. And the two men right outside that window were arguing about who'd caused it.

Okay, she knew where she was—in a taxi. And that there'd been an accident. In the initial impact she must have hit her head and been knocked out for a few minutes. But she was conscious now. How badly had she been hurt?

As she began to lever herself into a sitting position, the pounding at her temple increased and had her gritting her teeth again. But she made it. So far, so good. She wasn't dizzy and she was almost getting used to the headache, which seemed to be the only source of pain.

"Bottom line. I had a green light. You ran a red," growled a gravelly voice to her right. "And I got a witness—my fare. Hey, lady, you want to tell this guy what happened?"

She carefully turned to look at the man whose round and mustached face had appeared at the broken window. He jabbed a finger at her. "Tell him I had the green light."

"I…can't." Panic did more than bubble this time. It shot through her in sharp arrows.

"What do you mean, you can't? You saw it."

"I don't…remember." When she searched her mind for the details that had led up to the accident, she came up empty. She raised her hands and pressed her fingers against her temples, hoping that might help.

It didn't.

"What are you talking about?" he asked. "You yelled at me to look out, that this creep was running the red. And then you screamed." He jerked a thumb at the skinny man standing next to him. "He rammed right into us and caused a six-car pileup. Traffic is stopped in four directions."

She shifted her gaze back to the man who'd evidently been driving her taxi, taking in more details now. He had thick dark hair, a stocky build and he wore a folded, red-print bandanna around his head that made him look like a pirate. If someone had thrust a Bible into her hand, she would have sworn that she'd never seen him before in her life.

She pressed a hand against her stomach. "Give me—" When her voice cracked, she swallowed hard. "I need a minute."

"Lady, are you all right?" It was the other man who spoke. He was tall with the thin build of a scarecrow, and she could hear concern in his voice.

"I'm fine," she said, stubbornly clinging to the hope that she was speaking the truth. But it wasn't merely the accident she didn't remember. She couldn't even recall getting into the taxi…or where she was going…or where she'd been…or…

She dropped her hands into her lap and clenched them into fists as the pain in her head sharpened.

She couldn't…she couldn't remember who she was.

"Look," the skinny man continued, "she's hurt. She's got blood on her. I'll call an ambulance."

Blood? As he punched numbers into his cell phone, she glanced down at herself. Sure enough, there were dark stains on the cuff of her jacket and on her skirt. She gingerly probed her right temple and located a goose egg just above it, but there was no sign of blood on her hand when she drew it away. Was she hurt somewhere else? She turned up her cuff, but there wasn't a mark on her arm. Nor could she find any kind of wound when she checked beneath the stains on her skirt. The only pain she was experiencing was a headache—which was getting worse.

"We got an ambulance coming, lady." It was her taxi driver who spoke, and his earlier anger seemed to have faded. "You just sit tight. You're going to be all right."

"You're probably in shock," the other man assured her. "You just take it easy until they get here."

Shock. That had to be it. Relief streamed through her. Any minute now, her memory would come flooding back. And in the meantime…There had to be clues. She glanced around the backseat, looking for her purse. A white plastic dress bag was the first thing that caught her eye. It lay half on the seat to her left and half on the floor. She realized she'd been lying on it when she'd first regained consciousness. Instinctively, she lifted the bag, smoothing it as she hung it carefully on the hook over the door. Through a clear plastic panel on the front, she could make out a white lace gown embroidered with tiny seed pearls. A wedding dress?

Copyright © 2007 by Carolyn Hanlon.

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