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Balancing her thriving yoga spa and raising twins, Widow Heatherlee Baronova is slammed by her late husband’s past when an ex-con demands a key to a safe deposit box. Naïve, Heatherlee knows nothing about it. When her spa Clearwater is robbed, the police investigation is headed by Sheriff Marc Duarte, a sheep rancher from the silkiest gentry of town. The last thing she wants is for Marc to prove that dirty money built Clearwater.
Marc knows her problems with a Russian theft ring will escalate beyond bad press and the bottom line. After the twins are kidnapped, she starts listening. Shrewd, rugged, and rich, Marc is clueless that this coppery-haired bundle of determination and desire married her husband because he looked like him. He does see a practical advantage, but if he goes undercover as “out of hiding” Yuri Baronov, will it be a death sentence?
Heatherlee Baronova sat there stunned. She faced her late husband’s…whatever. His partner, lover, or friend showered words that felt like pellets of ice. She wanted to head for cover where she could think. Here she couldn’t get past the immediate pounding in her chest and roar of blood in her ears. She’d been trapped into listening to something about which she knew nothing. She couldn’t move, needed to breathe. Another ten…twenty seconds passed. Panic pressed on her, but she couldn’t let it consume her.
Because her upstairs apartment had toys strewn all over, she’d invited her to a public area. They sat in her spa’s open-air loggia that spilled over the rugged Pacific coastline, and she was glad she’d chosen that spot. She’d hoped to hear a cute story.
Instead, the tempest of a woman beat the dead horse. “I want my half. Yuri promised. You know what key.”
Heatherlee knew nothing about a safe deposit box and threw up her hands. “I wish I did!”
Medusa spat her words. “We partners, friends from Russia.”
“He never mentioned you.” She glanced at valued customers from the Silver Age Yoga workshop.
The loggia’s peaceful setting didn’t bring calm to this hellcat. She watched her fiery stare dart from one corner of the room to another and said, “No one dangerous lurks in the shadows.” She wished for a private cubbyhole.
The stranger paused for a second. “You Yuri’s widow.”
We’re going the third round. “That’s right. I’m five years his widow.”
“Give me key now.” A flash of anger streaked across the tough woman’s features.
Suddenly, her chest hurt from racing palpitations. Anxiety clamped her lungs. Her fingers tingled, and she sensed a panic attack in the making. Not this! She felt twilight dizziness and watched gentle waves turn surreal and glisten in the noontime California sun. Breathe. She inhaled, deep and long. Slowly panic drained away, and urgency took its place.
The tyrant’s face was beat red, but her hailstorm began to make an inkling of sense. More than once, he’d been a whopping big liar. Truth feels as right as rain.
She had no choice but to attend to this unsavory business. With more breaths, she willed away a panic attack and spun her thoughts to something concrete, her daily schedule. She’d teach Hatha Yoga at one and then pick up the twins, currently safe at preschool. The woman wouldn’t know about the twins, conceived In Vitro. “Your name again?”
“Svetlana Kessk. I from Russia like Yuri.”
His self-proclaimed partner was a hardened, graying blond. Young, she’d have been stunning with those high cheekbones. Heatherlee reached for the courage that had momentarily deserted her. She forced herself to think and conjured up his relatives, nearly silent at his funeral. “He was born there, but his roots were in L.A.”
Svetlana jerked from a slump. “No. Roots in old country. He good at English. No accent.”
“Care for iced tea?” Hoping to find her own composure, Heatherlee tried her best to put normalcy into her tone.
“Vodka.” Svetlana strained across the bistro table.
“Sorry, no alcohol in the house. I wasn’t expecting company until Thanksgiving. How about pomegranate juice? It’s as tart as wine.” She didn’t wait for an answer and rushed to the efficiency kitchen for the bottle of juice.
A resin pilgrim couple and their turkey pal dangled their legs over the counter. She wanted to disappear into their Plymouth Rock imagery. She returned and set the juice down.
Svetlana grabbed it and twisted off the top. “I drink it straight up.” After she’d finished it, her expression softened.
“A KEY TO ALL THAT GLITTERS is an interesting book dealing with a woman who seems afraid of most everything at the beginning to one who stands up for herself and her family, and takes bold steps into her future. I liked that author Kathleen Rowland makes her hero Basque and adds characteristics of this lesser-known ethnic culture to the storyline.” Kris Jones, Romance Junkies Reviews
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
No. of Pages: 246
Paper Weight (lb): 10.4
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