Authors: Vicki Hinze
He survived a mysterious mission more horrible than the mind can imagine; only she can break through the trauma and get him to talk. But if she succeeds, they both may not survive.
Dr. Sara West knows only that her high-security military patient goes by the name “Joe,” that he’s in a catatonic state and can only repeat the code words, “I wept,” and that his post-traumatic stress disorder is a result of his last mission as a Shadow Watcher—a spy who spies on other spies. Her brother-in-law was also a Shadow Watcher. He committed suicide in the same sinister military facility where Joe, and other military men like him, are now in treatment. Sara wants to learn what caused her sister’s unshakable husband to kill himself and, in the process, to heal Joe, a compelling man who wins her love. But the secrets inside him reveal a shocking truth. One she isn’t sure they can overcome.
“Gripping and adrenaline-charged, Hinze’s plot will appeal to fans who like their suspense razor sharp.”
“If you like military–romance–suspense–just a great read–you have to pick up [Hinze’s] books!”
—The Jackson Journal
“Utterly thrilling from beginning to end
. . .
Hinze has proven herself a true master of military romantic suspense tales.”
Before The White Rose
Shades of Gray
Acts of Honor
All Due Respect
Metaphysical Romantic Suspense
Coming in 2013
Maybe This Time.
The Seascape Trilogy
Beyond The Misty Shore
Beside A Dreamswept Sea
Upon A Mystic Tide
Bell Bridge Books
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons (living or dead), events or locations is entirely coincidental.
Bell Bridge Books
PO BOX 300921
Memphis, TN 38130
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-61194-193-7
Print ISBN: 978-1-61194-177-7
Bell Bridge Books is an Imprint of BelleBooks, Inc.
Copyright © 1999 by Vicki Hinze
Printed and bound in the United States of America.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review.
A mass market edition of this book was published by St. Martin’s in 1999
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Interior design: Hank Smith
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“Oh, no.” Sara West looked up from her desk and frowned. “What the hell are you doing here, Foster?”
That frank reaction earned her a rare smile. “Glad to see you, too, Dr. West.” He removed his cap and sat down in her visitor’s chair. “How long has it been?”
How dare he do this? He ignored her inquiries into her brother-in-law Captain David Quade’s death, stonewalled her investigation at every turn, and then just waltzes into her office as if they were close friends? “It’s been seven months, two weeks, and four days—not nearly long enough.”
Sara closed the patient file open on her desk, then slid it aside. “Now, this is a private office—mine—and not your military base, Colonel, but I’m going to be gracious and ask you once more before I kick you out on your pompous ass.” She hiked her chin. “What do you want?”
His smile faded, and he scanned the bookshelves spanning a long wall.
Sara grimaced. All of the titles were on post-traumatic stress disorder, and Foster definitely would notice. He never missed anything, or gave anything away. Likely a hazard of his job, though even after five years of discussions with him—mostly discussions aimed
with her trying to get information
about David—Sara still wasn’t exactly sure what Foster’s job entailed.
She knew he was military. An Air Force colonel who worked with the AID. But her discreet inquiries at the Air Force Intelligence Division had convinced Sara that even regular AID personnel weren’t familiar with specifically what job Colonel Jack Foster performed for the military. He was an enigma to them and, by extension, to her. An enigma currently standing in her Pensacola, Florida, office—which was a long way from his office at the Pentagon—staring at her in open challenge.
Being even thinner now than when they’d last met, Sara supposed she still looked fragile to him. God, how that rankled. With her blond hair snagged in a barrette at her nape, and wearing the lab coat and navy power suit she’d worn to give her PTSD lecture to two hundred psychologists and psychiatrists that morning, she felt almost prim. But she was not prim, nor fragile. She was thirty-four, stood five-eight in stocking feet, and his unwelcome presence in her office had her and her temper rising to meet his challenge. “Well, are you going to answer me? Or do I get the delayed gratification of kicking you out?”
Foster grunted and tucked his cloth cap under his belt, between the loops on his slacks. “Still ticked off at me, eh?”
“Forever, plus ten years. Count on it.”
“I did attempt to learn more about Captain Quade’s incident, Dr. West. Unfortunately, I was denied access to his files.”
Who was he trying to kid? Foster had clout. That much everyone in AID knew—even those who had needed a little friendly persuasion to admit they had ever heard of him. “Why?”
“That’s classified information.”
Sara grunted. He was lying to her. She’d heard whispers during her last fact-finding trip to the Pentagon that Foster’s security clearance exceeded Top Secret. He could get file access. He chose not to do it.
He looked her straight in the eye. “Isn’t it enough to know David is dead?”
“No, it isn’t enough.” Vexed that she couldn’t force Foster to be honest, she stabbed the toe of her shoe deep into the teal carpet beneath her desk. “Not when David’s widow—my sister—is collecting husbands the way you have a chest full of medals.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. After five years
. . .
” His voice trailed off, and then he went on. “Well, I’d hoped Brenda, er, Mrs. Quade, would adjust.”
Foster sounded sincere. But Sara had experienced his “sincerity” before. She knew better than to believe it, and let him know it by arching a skeptical brow.
A faint flush swept up his neck and flooded his face. “No progress on your research, I take it.”
He’d caught the gesture. Foster was a pain, but he was swift on the uptake. “Plenty of progress on PTSD, just not on how patients’ families successfully cope with it.” She let her gaze slide to the window, unwilling to let him see how deeply her failure affected her. “Brenda stood on shaky ground before David committed suicide. Now, in a way, she’s doing her damnedest to join him.”
“Through the marriages?”
Sara nodded. “Five in four years.” Guilt swam through her chest and settled like heavy stones in her stomach. Brenda was thirty-six, the older sister, and yet Sara always had been the big sister. Not by choice, but by necessity. Since grade school, Brenda had gotten herself into more scrapes than a teen with her first training bra. And Sara always had pulled her out. But on this, when it mattered most, Sara couldn’t seem to find a way out.