Kellen Brand's inheritance turns out to be a whopper -- one dilapidated farm in West Virginia and one guardian angel! Since Kellen is convinced no sane woman would choose to live in Riverside, she vows to sell her farm and quick.
Her handsome and reclusive neighbor Luke Kenyon must block the farm sale or risk exposure of his family's secrets. While Kellen has located one potential buyer, she faces a town full of objectors. Someone is trying to frighten her off, and Luke is forced to step in and rescue her more than once.
Unfortunately, Kellen can't seem to stay out of trouble. She stumbles onto a clandestine hazardous-waste-dumping operation next to her farm, and she prays Luke has one more rescue up his sleeve. It's her only hope of staying alive.
Unless her mother really did leave her a guardian angel… ____________________________________________________________
Angel to the Rescue:
Child psychologist Rachel Kelly isn't quite sure how to handle the situation with her newest client -- a six-year-old boy who says he can talk to angels and one is coming to help Rachel. She already has her hands full of trouble this Christmas season, and things quickly take a turn for the worse when a stalker crashes Rachel's Christmas party and takes her young clients hostage.
Police negotiator, Lt. Jake Dillon, walked away from his fiancée Rachel when she suddenly balked at having kids. His kids. Yet when the hostage crisis erupts, Rachel calls Jake first. Now he has a choice to make -- stand back and wait for the cavalry to save Rachel or step in and try to save her himself. Time is running out, and Jake may be their only chance for rescue.
Unless Rachel's little angel-spying client is telling the truth…
The frigid water closed in over Kellen, and she lashed out with both arms to force her head above the surface for a desperate breath. Her hiking boots would sign her death warrant; they already felt like concrete blocks. She had only minutes, maybe seconds, to keep herself afloat. She thrashed again, and this time her face barely cleared the water's surface. She was ready and screamed with all her might.
The icy water filled her eyes, but she couldn't devote the split second needed to wipe them, so intent was she on keeping her mouth above the water long enough for a precious lungful of air. She scissored her legs to help her dwindling buoyancy, but the physical act was so difficult with the boots on, her muscles screamed with the effort.
How many more times can I get a breath? Two maybe three?
All her muscles strained in revolt as she scissored her legs again. She plummeted after each thrust, and her best effort barely pushed her mouth and nose above the surface. She didn't scream again; there was no one around to hear, and she couldn't spare the strength. Less than a minute had passed since she'd hit the water.
Down she pushed her arms, but the heavy flannel shirt fought back. She opened her eyes and could see the surface, yet at the peak of her thrust, her lips were still in the water. She tried to scissor her legs, but she had nothing left. She feared she would sink and flailed both arms upward.
Death hovered at her shoulder, near as the blackest of shadows beneath the dock, tangible enough that she could reach out and touch it. She pulled her head back and saw a blurred shadow moving overhead. Hope buoyed her escape from the frigid arms of the river pulling her down, and she forced her way to the surface.
A huge hand plunged into the icy water and grabbed her right arm, and she felt her body pulled toward the surface. The second her mouth was exposed to the air, she gasped for a breath. A cough wracked her frame and threatened the tenuous hold of the mighty hand on her arm. She sunk back down, her eyes filled with water, and her vision blurred. She felt as though she weighed a ton, with the soaked clothing and boots, and grew terrified the hand couldn't hold on. Yet she was pulled higher until another hand grabbed the back of her shirt, and her body was yanked up and sideways onto the deck. The mighty hands released her, and she clutched at the wooden planks to be sure she was far enough from the precipice to the icy water. She heaved two successive gasps, and a hard sob wracked her frame.
Two strong arms tugged her upright. She blinked rapidly to clear her blurred vision and saw Luke's face, his dark eyes wide. Nothing had ever looked so good to her in all her life. With another hard sob, she threw herself into his arms and broke into tears. The brush with death shattered all her resolve and kindled emotions buried in the deepest recesses of her heart.
He pulled her roughly to him and held her tight to his chest, mumbling soothing words into her ear. His warmth seeped into her, and she clung to him like her lifeline -- digging her fingers into his back, unwilling to let go, and unable to stop crying.
"I almost d-drowned," she stuttered, her face still buried against his chest.
"Good Lord, I know," he rumbled and squeezed her tight to him again.
"If you had been a minute later," she wheezed and tried to look up at him.
"Don't even think that!" he snapped.
She flinched and pulled back. His gaze looked hard and unyielding.
"Just be glad I got here in time," he whispered, and his eyes grew darker. He cupped her cheeks, lowered his mouth, and gently brushed his lips against hers.
The sizzle of heat shot straight to her heart and warmed her from the inside out. All she could manage was a nod. His kiss twisted all her wild emotions into a spinning vortex, allowing her only to react without thought, and she leaned in to kiss him again.
Angel To The Rescue [Rachel goes to Jake's apartment]
Rachel raised a finger to press the doorbell, and the front door jerked open. Startled, she jumped back.
"Are you gonna ring the damn bell or just stare at it all afternoon?" a grizzled-looking Jake asked.
His hair stuck out all over, and he had a two-day growth of beard that gave him a dangerous look -- that and the black tee-shirt and sweats he had on.
He bent down until they were almost nose to nose. "Well?"
"Oh… Um… Y-yes, I was going to press the bell, but now the door's open."
He straightened, his expression grim. "First Wally and now you."
"Wally came by earlier to save me from my depressing thoughts." He stepped back and held the door wide. "I assume that's why you're here. You coming in?"
"Oh, yes." Her heart was beating so hard she feared he could see the pulse vibrate in her neck. He looked so sexy all rumpled up like that, and her fingertips started tingling again -- wanting to touch him anywhere to complete the connection.
She stepped past him and reminded herself she was only here today as a friend and a counselor.
As though he read her mind, Jake said, "You'd only come to my apartment if you thought I was sick or needed help, right?"
"Yes -- I mean, no." She turned to face him and saw the pain in his eyes. "I mean, I--"
Pain from the Buckhead crisis or pain from her?
"Which is it?" he asked flatly.
She should have known this wouldn't be easy.
"I went by the station first."
That apparently surprised him. He recovered quickly. "I'm still waiting for the why."
"You'd called in sick. I wanted to see if you needed--"
"Needed what, Rachel? You?" He closed the door, and the room suddenly seemed quite small. And quite dark -- all the blinds were pulled and the only light came from the nearby television.
"I thought maybe you'd need to talk about--"
She stopped. He had taken two steps closer, and she couldn't think. She took a deep and very audible breath.
"You've never been at a loss for words before, Rachel."
"We've never been broken up before," she blurted.
His eyes widened noticeably, then darkened. At least she thought they did -- tough to tell by TV light.
"You're right," he said hoarsely. "How do you like it?"
"Me neither," he growled.
Stay on track. Remember why you're here.
"Jake, I came by to see you because of the Buckhead crisis."
"I figured as much."
She could've sworn he looked disappointed for a fleeting moment. That gave her the courage to go on. "To offer my shoulder--"
"To cry on?" he sneered.
"No! To lean on. Please don't be ugly."
"I can't help it. You broke us up."
Incredulous, she gaped at him. "Me! Must I remind you? You left me."
He closed the distance between them -- so close she could feel his body heat.
"You let me leave," he said gruffly.
"You let me leave," he repeated his face only inches away.
His unique Jake scent wafted over her. She wanted to smother in it. She wanted...
"I didn't want you to go," she whispered.
She felt his arms slide around her at the moment his lips touched hers. No gentle kiss this. It spoke of need and desperation. His -- hers -- she didn't know for sure. She just wanted to cry from the relief of having his arms around her again.
She knuckled her fists into his warm tee shirt and tried to pull him closer, but the shirt was old and stretched unmercifully. She felt his lips smile against hers as he grabbed a breath and then kissed her again, his tongue sweeping in to stroke hers.
She could die from his wonderful familiar taste. She gave up on the shirt and wound her arms around his neck to pull him closer, to pull him into her if she could.
Suddenly, she felt his hands at her hips pressing her back, and she shamelessly hung on tighter. He reached up and pulled her hands down and then kissed each one.
His eyes were almost black. No doubt a reflection of hers.
"Like coming home, isn't it?" he rasped, his voice so hoarse it came out as a whisper.
Unable to get words past the lump forming in her throat, she could only nod happily and rested her forehead against his chest.
Petie shares her home on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee with her horticulturist husband, a spoiled-rotten English Springer spaniel addicted to pimento-stuffed green olives, and a noisy Nanday conure named Sassy who made a cameo appearance in Angel to the Rescue.
Petie has five books published with Desert Breeze, including her Mystery Angel Romance series, and her newest release, Cinderella Busted, is with Soul Mate Publishing.