Authors: Debra Burroughs
Tags: #Mystery: Thriller - Romance - Idaho
|Debra Burroughs - Paradise Valley 06 - The Harbor of Lies|
|Paradise Valley Mysteries |
|Lake House Books (2014)|
|Tags:||Mystery: Thriller - Romance - Idaho|
From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Debra Burroughs, topping the charts in Romantic Suspense, Mysteries, and Women Sleuths, comes another exciting and entertaining story,
The Harbor of Lies.
Praise for Debra Burroughs’ exciting novels…
“I love this series. I enjoy the characters, the drama, and the overall mystery. The stories are well written and believable.”
~ Luciann Smith
“Each time Ms. Burroughs puts out a new book I can’t wait to download it. And once again the folks of Paradise Valley don’t disappoint. It’s almost like reading about people you know and can’t wait to catch up with. From the first page I was intrigued and caught up in the plot. I really enjoyed the entire book and was kept guessing til the end.”
“The main character is recently widowed and fiercely independent. She has a close knit group of girlfriends who’ve been helping her along. And it is with this group of friends in this small town setting that quickly comes to life right before your eyes. The characters and the plot are both superbly written. I’ve read many in the series and hope there will be others to follow…I’ve grown comfortable with this small town and this fun group of friends.”
“Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”
~ Sir Walter Scott
Sometimes people tell themselves little lies, hoping they will help them cope with difficult things—hard truths really—that they’d rather not think about. Sometimes people harbor lies, protect them at all costs, for fear of what unleashing them will do.
In the end, the real question is: Without truth, is it really a life worth having?
“You don’t understand,” the man cried. “I’m in too deep.”
His eyes glistened in the moonlight as he stood at the top of the steps, on the front porch of a big yellow house. He was illuminated only by a single bulb near the front door and the warm glow emanating from the large, living room windows. His voice was tight and raw, filled with desperation, as he spoke to another man who stood on the lawn, darkened by the shadows.
“Giving up is not an option. I’ve got too much at stake.”
“They’ll come after you for sure,” the second man cautioned. “It’s not safe for you to keep going the way you are, all the secrets, all the lies. People are going to get hurt—and I’m not just talking about you.”
The first man glanced over his shoulder at the front door, then his gaze flew back to the other man. “I can handle it.”
“Fine,” the man on the lawn snarled. “Have it your way. But remember, when it all comes crashing down around you, I tried to warn you.”
“It won’t.” He ground out the words of assurance, but he didn’t sound convinced.
“I hope that young woman you’re so fond of doesn’t get hurt because of all this.” He turned sharply and stomped off to his small SUV, parked at the curb. He looked back at the house, seeing the man still standing there, arms crossed, watching him as he got in and began to drive away.
“What an idiot!” He slammed his hand against the steering wheel, then hit the gas and sped out of town.
The road began to wind as it climbed up into the mountains. He peered into the rearview mirror, noticing bright headlights behind him. They stayed on his tail for a few miles. He was going the speed limit. Was the other guy in a hurry or something?
He slowed a bit, rolled the window down, and stuck his arm out, motioning for the other vehicle to go around him.
But it didn’t.
“Oh, jeez…come on, fella,” he groaned.
Maybe the other driver didn’t feel safe passing on this mountain road. So, the man did the only other thing he could—he sped up. But the bright headlights kept pace with him.
Apprehension started to set in. He felt around on the dark passenger seat for his cellphone, thinking maybe he should call his friend at the police station and ask for some help, but as he went around a tight corner it slid onto the floor and out of reach. “Shoot!”
His chest began to tense and an eerie chill slithered down his back. His fingers wrapped tightly around the steering wheel. Was the other driver bearing down on him on purpose?
He drove this stretch of road often, there was a bridge over the ravine up ahead. He stuck his arm out the window again, encouraging the vehicle to pass him, hoping he would do it before they reached the bridge, but the driver hung back.
Oh, come on!
His knuckles were turning white as the roar of the tailing vehicle’s engine grew louder. Maybe he was working up speed to pass. The lights intensified as it drew closer. He could make out that it was a pickup truck. It drifted toward the center line.
Finally, it was going to pass him. He breathed deep and allowed his hands to relax around the steering wheel.
Wrong move. As they approached the bridge, the rumble of the truck’s engine reverberated and echoed off the mountainside, drawing closer. Too close. The man had no time to react as the truck rammed into him, sending the little SUV careening off the bridge and into the ravine.
Colin Andrews—the sexiest man alive. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t on the cover of People Magazine. Hers was the only vote that counted anyway. And right now, Emily Parker gazed with adoration, across the candlelit dinner table, as her sexiest man tenderly held her hand.
In the flickering candlelight, his hazel eyes met hers and it stirred something warm and delirious in her. Though their whirlwind romance had been fraught with turbulence, Paradise Valley’s handsome police detective had managed to win her heart and convince her to accept his proposal of marriage.
Now, if they could just make it to the altar unscathed.
He was dressed in a black suit and crisp white shirt that enhanced his broad shoulders and slim waist. His dark hair was trim and neat, his smile sexy and engaging.
Her heart was full as she gazed across the table, thinking how far they had come since they’d first met and how many times they had ventured too close to losing each other. Tonight she simply wanted to enjoy a romantic evening with him.
Colin had taken her to a late supper at the elegant new Brickyard Bistro in Paradise Valley. “You know, Babe, I love everything about you.” He ran his thumb playfully over her engagement ring. “Your smile, your mane of blond curls, the feel of your soft skin.”
“Oh stop,” she said, rolling her hand in a motion that told him to keep going.
“I love how your blue-green eyes turn bright turquoise when you’re really mad and how you don’t think twice about doing something dangerous. Shall I continue?”
A small giggle escaped her. “I think that’s quite enough.” His compliments were verging on the edge of cheesy and she suspected he knew it. They would have a good laugh about it later.
Dinner had been fabulous. The food, the service, and the atmosphere had all been first-rate.
In the middle of the elegant dining room, an impressive young man, dressed in a black tuxedo, had played beautiful, romantic music on the grand piano as candlelight had danced across the shiny ebony surface. It could not have been a more perfect evening—that is, until they were driving home.
Colin began to press Emily about nailing down a wedding date, something she’d been finding increasingly difficult to do, and, from that moment on, their conversation downgraded from gloriously romantic to slightly contentious.
“We were having such a nice evening. Why do we need to spoil it by arguing about setting a date?”
“Because we’ve been engaged long enough, Babe. I want to be married.”
Her little black dress suddenly felt too tight. “But how can I pick a date? Every time we do, something terrible happens.” Beside him, in the Jeep’s front seat, Emily twisted to face him. “Our wedding plans are cursed, Colin. They’re cursed!”
“Don’t be so dramatic, Babe. They’re not cursed.” He flashed her a patronizing grin.
Huffing, she tugged at her skirt. “What would you call it then?” Frustrated, she crossed her arms tightly over her chest, pressed her back against the passenger door, and groaned. “First the groom is arrested for murder—”
“Yes, but he was exonerated.” Colin winked at her. “Don’t leave that part out.”
“Granted, but then our wedding planner disappears into thin air, leaving us high and dry.”
He flashed a glance at her. “You know we had no control over that.”
“My point exactly.”
Colin reached over and gently pried one of her hands loose, wrapping his around it. “As hard as it was losing her, we can always get another—Camille, for instance.”
“They say bad things come in threes, so what’s next?” She moaned, exasperated with herself. It wasn’t like Emily to be so negative. Even to her own ears she sounded like a whining child. What was bothering her so much? Could it be the ominous feeling that another catastrophe was looming around the corner? Or the thoughts of her late husband that had been plaguing her recently?
Colin downshifted and brought the Jeep to a stop at a red light. “Nothing else is going to derail our wedding plans, Babe. I promise. I won’t let it.”
“I know you’d like to believe that, Colin, but you have no control over—”
“Attention, available units,” a strong, female voice crackled over the police radio in Colin’s dash. “Burglary in progress at forty-three sixty-six Evergreen Way. Adult male, Caucasian, twenty to twenty-five years of age, last seen wearing a blue t-shirt and jeans. Long blond hair and beard. Unit to respond?”
Colin shot Emily an I-have-to-take-this-call look, then answered the radio dispatcher. “This is Detective Andrews. I’m almost twenty-three that location. I can respond until uniform personnel arrive.”
“Copy. Detective Andrews, twenty-three. Unit to assist?”
Another voice came on the radio and confirmed their assistance.
The police call reminded Emily who she was—no longer merely a woman in love, it was a call to action. She swiveled straight in her seat and adjusted, first her safety belt, then her skirt. “Let’s catch this guy red-handed.”
“Not you, Emily. You are going to stay in the Jeep.”
He should know better than that by now. Emily had been a private investigator for over a year. As a consultant for the Paradise Valley Police Department, hired by Police Chief Nelson himself, she had helped Colin solve several cases during that time—occasionally, or frequently, despite his objections. Did he seriously think she would sit quietly in the car while he investigated the break-in?
“I mean it, Emily. You stay put.”
She crossed her arms and pursed her lips. Two were better than one. What if he needed her help?
Approaching the subject property, Colin turned his headlights off as he rolled the Jeep to a stop at the curb. He clicked his seatbelt off and reached for his gun.
“Please,” she cooed.
“Not a chance. You stay here.”
He climbed out and quietly closed the door.
Emily rolled her window down and watched Colin cut across the driveway and disappear around the brightly lit side of the house. As soon as he was out of sight, a noise issued from the opposite side.
“Colin,” she whispered loudly out the window, hoping to get his attention, but he was long gone.
He’s not going to like it, but I’ve got to check it out.
She dug her pistol out of her purse, slowly opened her door, slid out, and gingerly shut it behind her.
She crept across the lawn in her high heels, transferring the weight to her toes to avoid sinking into the ground. Emily made her way toward the darkened side of the house, where a window stood partly open. Keeping her gun low, she pushed up on her tiptoes and peeked inside. She saw no movement.
A couple of quick footfalls behind her drew her attention and she began to turn. Before she made it all the way around, searing pain shot through the back of her head and she collapsed down onto the hard, damp earth. Then, everything went pitch-black and silent.
Colin rounded the perimeter of the house from the backyard. A light came on in a small frosted window on the side of the house next door, faintly illuminating the area between the two homes.