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When her mother’s body is discovered at a lakeside cove, Annie Townsend can’t avoid the possibility her father may be a murderer. She launches her own investigation and teams up with prison-toughened Sam O’Brien, a man her family loathes.
Caught in a web of her own suspicions and guilt, Annie finds that, even worse, she’s attracted to Sam and must protect herself from a man branded by his past and imprisoned by his hardened heart.
Although he’s long been proved innocent of murder, Sam knows the world shuns and despises him. His attempts to live in peace away from the prying press are doomed. When Annie catapults into his life, he finds the opportunity to prove himself worthy to love again.
Boston, Massachusetts, July 19
Sam O’Brien had watched the blonde from the moment she’d pulled up in front of his apartment. Why had she stopped in this armpit of a neighborhood? Since he’d moved here, two months ago, no one with such an expensive vehicle had dared drive down his street.
She was definitely hot-looking, about twenty-five, a youngster compared to his ripe old prison age of thirty. Her neat, classy style sharply contrasted with his cut-off jeans, yellowed T-shirt, and overgrown dark hair.
She wasn’t here for him, but his body failed to recognize that fact. Excitement sizzled in his nerve endings and memories of pleasure threatened to cloud his mind.
She must be lost. But when she focused all her attention on his building, his interest peaked into anger. He recognized her type. A reporter. Worse, a woman reporter. Fisting his hands, he cursed. He’d had enough of their hounding accusations. They’d surrounded his apartment and held him prisoner like a trapped animal, shouting, taunting him about a five-year-old murder. He stepped away from the coarse brown curtain, letting it fall across the window. Why weren’t they helping him find the true murderer?
Years ago, the press had led the witch-hunt to convict him. Now, they blocked his efforts to find Jeanine’s true killer by running the old stories accusing him.
The doorbell rang. Uncertain of his next move, Sam froze. When would these news people learn? All he wanted was to be left alone. After a moment he snapped into action. She wanted a story about a murderer. He’d give her one to make those cute little blond hairs stand on end.
In three huge strides, he crossed the room with the sagging floral chair and couch. Pieces of fiber from the tattered tan carpet clung to his bare feet. He didn’t have time to brush them away. He threw back the two deadbolts and ripped open the door leading into the hall. In the back of his mind, he heard his prison counselor whisper, “Count to ten, walk away, and take deep breaths.”
He shoved the worn-out words of anger management into a dark crevice in his mind. Furious, he marched through the dim and dusty entry. He unbolted and tore open the front door. Light poured inside.
She jerked and blinked her eyes several times as though the gloom of the hall blinded her. Blue eyes. It figured. He was a sucker for blue eyes.
She didn’t back away. In her little tan sandals she stood firm, unmoving. She was tall and slim. Next to his six feet, he judged her to be about five eight, with that girl-next-door look. She was more likely a barracuda. The freckles sprinkled across her nose added to her innocent appearance. He’d bet she used her looks to worm stories from people, like most attractive women did.
She met his gaze. “Are you Mr. O’Brien—Samuel O’Brien?”
She was a cool one. He heard it in her voice. He remained mute, fastening all his fury at the outside world on her. Scowling, he waited for her to retreat, leaving him alone and in peace.
Instead, she squared her thin shoulders and offered a hand.
“I’m Annie Townsend. James is my brother.”
James? “I’ve nothing to say. Clear out.”
A tremor shook her outstretched hand. Her blue eyes wavered with uncertainty. “Jim, Jimmy Townsend. He’s my brother.”
“I’m warning you. If you want to—” The memory hit him. “Jimmy?” Is she lying to get me to talk to her?
He scanned her features. Jimmy’s blue eyes stared back at him, and his blond hair framed her face. Did she have a dimple in her cheek when she smiled? Damn, he was acting like an idiot. What do I care? She wasn’t his date. He’d sworn off all women after doing time for the death of his cheating fiancée.
She dropped her arm to her side. “Are you Sam? He spoke of you often.”
“Jimmy who was in jail for dealing drugs? He was your brother?” She looked angelic. Jimmy looked rough and tough.
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
No. of Pages: 358
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