Read Every Vow She Breaks Online

Authors: Jannine Gallant

Every Vow She Breaks

 

Cover Copy

 

A Promise Can Follow You To the Grave…

 

Claire Templeton is drawn to the majestic beauty of the California Redwoods in the hopes of capturing an unexplained phenomenon on camera. What she doesn’t expect is to run into her first love, Jed Lafferty, the boy she worshipped as a child, t
he man she’s never been able to forget.

 

Carefree, fun-loving Jed doesn’t believe in fate, preferring to make his own luck. But when he runs into the little girl who used to follow him like a shadow, now an irresistible woman, he can’t help feeling the odds are turning in his favor. Letting Claire walk out of his life the first time might be his single biggest regret. But when strange gifts and cards left for Claire turn sinister, it’s clear someone else from her past isn’t ready to let go . . .

 

“Jannine Gallant is an exciting new voice in romantic suspense.”

—Mary Burton,
New York Times
bestselling author

 

“Well developed, realistic characters. Entertaining family dynamics. Jannine Gallant gives you a satisfying read.”

—Kat Martin,
New York Times
bestselling author

 

“Check all the windows and doors before you go to bed because the relentless, obsessive stalker in Every Move She Makes will have you looking over your shoulder long after the lights go out.”

—Nancy Bush,
New York Times
bestselling author

 

 

Visit us at
www.kensingtonbooks.com

 

 

 

 

Books by Jannine Gallant

 

Who’s Watching Now Series

Every Move She Makes, Book One

Every Step She Takes, Book Two

Every Vow She Breaks, Book Three

 

Published by Kensington Publishing Corporation

 

 

 

Every Vow She Breaks

Who’s Watching Now Series

 

Jannine Gallant

 

LYRICAL PRESS

Kensington Publishing Corp.

www.kensingtonbooks.com

 

 

 

Copyright

 

Lyrical Press books are published by

Kensington Publishing Corp. 119 West 40th Street New York, NY 10018

 

Copyright © 2015 by Jannine Gallant

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the Publisher, excepting brief quotes used in reviews.

 

All Kensington titles, imprints, and distributed lines are available at special quantity discounts for bulk purchases for sales promotion, premiums, fund- raising, and educational or institutional use.

 

To the extent that the image or images on the cover of this book depict a person or persons, such person or persons are merely models, and are not intended to portray any character or characters featured in the book.

 

Special book excerpts or customized printings can also be created to fit specific needs. For details, write or phone the office of the Kensington Special Sales Manager:

Kensington Publishing Corp.

119 West 40th Street

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Attn. Special Sales Department. Phone: 1-800-221-2647.

 

Kensington and the K logo Reg. U.S. Pat. & TM Off.

LYRICAL PRESS Reg. U.S. Pat. & TM Off.

Lyrical Press and the L logo are trademarks of Kensington Publishing Corp.

 

First Electronic Edition: March 2016

eISBN-13: 978-1-61650-655-1

eISBN-10: 1-61650-655-5

 

First Print Edition: March 2016

ISBN-13: 978-1-61650-656-8

ISBN-10: 1-61650-656-3

 

Printed in the United States of America

 

 

Dedication

 

To my husband, Pat, the inspiration for the hero of this book. May your life always be filled with excitement and fun. Thank you for everything you do.

 

Chapter 1

 

The scent of burgers and fries drifted through the diner as the swinging kitchen door slapped against the wall. Claire Templeton’s mouth watered. With a sigh, she poked through her salad, stabbed a tomato and popped it into her mouth. Given her petite frame, eating fries wasn’t an option unless she wanted to look like the portly waitress. Not that the woman, who dwarfed the taxidermy bear in the restaurant’s entrance, was doing too badly at the moment.

Her ample bosom swayed as she set a plate loaded with a double-decker cheeseburger and onion rings on the table in front of the customer in the booth across from Claire.
Customer
didn’t do the man justice. Supreme specimen of manhood came close. Those naked Greek statues had nothing on this guy. Sun-streaked brown hair crowned a tanned face with bright blue eyes and a killer smile…which he was currently using as he requested extra mustard.

“I’ll get it right away, hon.” Augusta—if her nametag was to be believed—put one hand on her padded hip to lean in close. “You have to be the best-looking man ever to walk through that door.” A jerk of her head toward the bear set graying wisps of hair fluttering around an age-creased face. “If I were thirty years younger—”

“They’d arrest me for soliciting a minor.”

A robust laugh drowned the chatter of a family with three young children two booths down. “What a charmer.”

The linoleum floor shook as the woman rounded the end of the counter and disappeared into the kitchen.

Claire rolled her eyes. “She didn’t move like that when I asked for another slice of lemon in my iced tea.”

Her hunky neighbor met her gaze and grinned. “Didn’t your mama ever teach you you’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar?”

“I didn’t want to catch flies. I wanted lemon.”

Something about his smile nagged at the back of her mind.

Nope. I’d never forget crossing paths with this man.

Augusta returned and plopped a bottle of yellow mustard on the tabletop. She gave Mr. Ruggedly Handsome a toothy smile. “You planning to be in town long?”

“A couple of days. I want to do some hiking in the redwoods around here.”

“Be sure to come back for breakfast. No one makes pancakes like Ralph.”

“I’ll do that. Can you recommend a campground? I drove by quite a few.”

“Take a right at the first cross street heading north and follow the road to the end. Towering Trees Campground has showers. Some of the others don’t. Enjoy your meal…er, what’s your name, hon?”

“Jed. Thanks for the tip…and the mustard.”

Claire’s head snapped around. Jed. Memories swirled. A laughing boy with bright blue eyes sliding worms down her shirt, hollering over his shoulder at her to ride faster, licking a triple-decker chocolate ice cream cone—

“Careful of your drink.”

She jerked her elbow back and slid the plastic glass away from the table’s edge. “Thanks.” Surely this man couldn’t be—

“Are you just passing through?” He picked up his burger.

Collecting her scattered wits, she shook her head. “Actually, I have a reservation at the campground Augusta mentioned. Uh, you said your name’s Jed?”

He nodded and popped an onion ring into his mouth. “Nice to meet you…”

“Claire.”

His hand stilled over his plate. “Claire. Maybe we’ll run into each other again while we’re camping.”

She worked her way through lettuce and an assortment of veggies while sneaking glances across the aisle. Jed wolfed down his burger then started on a chocolate shake topped with a cloud of whipped cream. The man might not have weight issues, but surely his cholesterol levels were as lofty as the dessert topping.

His gaze met hers again as he set down the glass. “I swear this isn’t some kind of lame pick-up line, but you remind me of someone I used to know. I don’t suppose you ever lived in Reno?”

She dropped her fork, eyes widening. “Oh, my God, it is you. Jed Lafferty. I can’t believe it. You were skinny and obnoxious, and now you’re…not.”

His smile stopped her heart.

“Little Claire Templeton all grown up.” His gaze swept downward. “Sort of. You’re still pint-sized.”

“I prefer vertically challenged.”

His laugh turned the heads of the two old-timers at the counter who’d been eating blueberry pie and arguing about fishing. Augusta stepped through the kitchen doorway to glance in their direction with raised brows before retreating.

Claire pressed a hand to her chest. “I had the biggest crush on you despite all the nasty bugs and worms you tortured me with. I cried the whole way to Winnemucca when we moved.”

“Your parents dragged you off to the middle of nowhere. I’d have cried, too.”

“Good point. Not surprisingly, we didn’t stay there long. After two more stops, I ended up here—” She spread her arms wide. “—for high school.”

“No kidding?” He picked up his shake, crossed the aisle and slid onto the bench seat facing her. “How come you’re camping if you’re visiting your family?”

“I’m not. They left the area years ago. You remember my dad, always on the go, dragging my mom off to someplace new before she even had a chance to finish unpacking from the previous move. They’re currently up in Oregon. How’re your parents?”

His gaze dropped. “My mom died of breast cancer a few years ago. My dad’s still in the same house, retired from the Reno police force. I see him on a regular basis.”

She touched his arm. “I’m sorry. I loved your mom. She always had a smile and a cookie for the lonely, little girl from across the street. What about your brother?”

“Kane’s married and has three stepdaughters. They live in the Napa Valley area.”

His hand lay on the tabletop, ring finger conspicuously bare.

“You’re not? Married, I mean.”

He shook his head. “Not even close. What about you?”

“I’ve been within shouting distance a couple of times.”

Leaning back in the booth, his gaze wandered over her face. The smile she remembered from the best time in her childhood grew.

“Those guys must have been crazy to let you get away.”

“Augusta’s right. You are a charmer.” She wadded her napkin and dropped it next to her salad bowl. “How are you, Jed? Tell me all about your life for the last—what—twenty-five years?”

“Sounds about right. I was ten, and you were nine when you moved.”

“Yet I still have vivid memories of following you around that summer. Apparently you leave a lasting impression on a girl.”

He took a final swallow of his shake. “If you’re finished with your rabbit food, let’s go somewhere to catch up. The day’s too beautiful to hang out in here. No fog or rain is a rare combination in the redwoods.”

“It’s not even very windy. We could drive through the woods to the beach.” She dug her wallet out of her purse then glanced over to smile before dropping a few singles on the table. “I can’t believe we met again, here of all places, after all these years.”

“Must be fate or destiny or whatever.”

Augusta lumbered out of the kitchen and headed toward the cash register. “If you’re finished, I’ll ring you up.”

Jed tossed a five dollar tip next to his empty plate as he led the way through the diner. When her steps slowed, he turned. “What?”

She gripped her purse a little tighter. “You’re not a serial killer on the run from the police or an escaped lunatic, are you? Going off alone into the forest with a relative stranger seems like something a dumb blonde in a horror flick would do. I may be blond, but I’m not stupid.”

His smile flashed. “Want to call Kane? He’s a small town sheriff. His endorsement should ease your mind.”

She let out a breath then continued toward the register. “I’ll take my chances and go with my gut. My gut tells me you’re a good guy.”

“That’s because I am.”

They paid for their meals, thanked the waitress then left the diner. Claire paused beside her compact motor home while he stopped next to an older SUV two spots over.

“Want to lead the way since you’re familiar with the area?”

“Sure. There’s a terrific beach not far from here. A twenty-minute drive at the most.”

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