*Finalist* Independent Author Network 2015 Book Awards, Romance Category
Would you forsake your mother to save the woman you love?
Season Scrimshaw isn’t selling the land her parents left her when they died, not even to the gorgeous Rann Brogan who saved her life in the forest. Especially not after she finds out he was in the woods surveying her property.
Rann’s mother, Charlotte, owns a large land development company. She wants Season’s property to put up a strip of luxurious, lakefront condos and Charlotte always gets what she wants. She sends Rann on a mission to seal the deal. To say Rann and his mother have had a normal mother/son relationship would be a stretch…a big stretch, but he’s always done her bidding.
This time it’s different. Rann hasn’t been able to get the beautiful Season out of his mind. While on his mission to secure the property, he realizes how much Season loves the land, and…he realizes somewhere along the line, Season has stolen his heart.
He soon discovers his mother will go to any length to get what she wants…including murder. Lives spiral out of control, secrets and lies take center stage. Rann is forced to choose between his mother and the woman he loves.
And he’s forced to become as dangerous and as lethal as Charlotte.
Love a lot of thriller with your romance? Love a lot of romance with your thriller? How about suspense, betrayal and murder?
If so, then Season, Unforgettable is for you.
* A stand-alone Contemporary Romantic Suspense.
Setup and Excerpt:
Someone wants Season dead. As she travels home from seeing Rann in Chicago, a car slams into her vehicle from behind.
One madman makes many madmen, and many madmen make madness.
The green sign appeared on Season’s right Welcome to Janesville, Population 63,820. Her bladder screaming for mercy, she exited the Interstate and pulled onto the off-ramp. At the end, a 7-Eleven came into view. Bingo!
Season scuttled from the seat with keys in hand, clicked the lock button and entered the store. She spied the restroom sign to her left and thanked her lucky stars it wasn’t occupied. While washing her hands, she looked in the mirror, surprised that after everything that had happened in the last several weeks, she still looked the same. You’re still you, Season, on the outside anyway, but wow, girl, have you changed on the inside.
Feeling guilty about using the restroom without making a purchase, she decided to buy a Coke. She paid the clerk, and still clutching her keys, returned to the car and pushed unlock.
Her thoughts wandered to the weekend, the incredible, magnificent weekend with Rann. She’d found the enchilada, the whole freakin’ enchilada. Duna would be happy for her, and no doubt a little proud of himself. She couldn’t recall a time he’d ever been wrong about a person. Hmm, maybe that’s where I get this black and white thing Rann talked about, the radar for honing in on auras.
Looking at the road she traveled, a sense of the unfamiliar hit her. Holy crap! This isn’t right. Don’t panic, take a deep breath. You’re not on Mars, at least I don’t think they have red barns and silos on Mars.
Cows grazed in the pastures, a black crow or two crossed the sky. She realized she must have made a wrong turn leaving the 7-Eleven. Was she supposed to go right to get back onto the Interstate or left? She’d have to backtrack and that shouldn’t be a problem since she couldn’t have traveled more than four miles. The gravel road didn’t want to cooperate with her plan. The straight path she’d been on had now turned into a bend, an elongated curve with no end in sight. Still no reason to panic. Hey, if it is a never-ending bend, I’ll end up back at the little store.
About to reach for her cell in the passenger seat, she checked her rearview mirror first. A cloud of dust had formed behind her car, a whirling dervish that screeched fast and furious. If it didn’t slow down, and there wasn’t a lane on either side to pass her, how would it navigate around her?
Kaboom! The car slammed into her tailgate. Her neck whipped forward and then back again. Full-blown terror snaked down her spine. The car hadn’t stopped; it was still swerving and swaying behind her. She didn’t dare pull over. This was no accident but an intentional act. She wracked her brain. Had she pulled out in front of someone unknowingly? What about the clerk at the store? God, she couldn’t even remember what he looked like. Had he followed her?
Kaboom! A scream seized her throat. The Denali veered to the right. Tires squealed, hers or the other vehicle’s she didn’t know. Curve eternal still loomed ahead with no driveways or turnarounds in sight. Frantic now, she searched the seat for her phone. Her hand met flat leather. It must have fallen during the last ram.
With one eye on the gravel road, one in the rearview mirror, a beam of sunlight illuminated the maniac’s car. Spiders crawled over her skin. Silver SUV? No, it can’t be! An engine roared and then brakes squealed. She clung to the steering wheel and prayed.
Bam! The Denali screamed its outrage or was it the sound of broken glass? A steep bank ahead flashed in her line of vision. Dear God, help me! Oh no, oh, no. Like a spinning top, the Denali flipped, ass over tea kettle. Immense pain shot through her body. Something warm and sticky ran down her face. Why hadn’t the air bag deployed? Her vision faded in and out, and she couldn’t form a rational thought. Oh, Pearl, we’re dying. Duna! Oh, my God, Duna, I-I shouldn’t have listened to you this time, should have followed my aura meter.
Complete, utter darkness closed in on her.
* * *
After pulling the car onto the grass off the gravel road, he stepped from the vehicle and looked in all directions. A dog barked, so faint and distant, he breathed a sigh of relief. Erratic, deep skid marks led him to the steep bank and to his destination.
Below, a twisted tangle of black metal smoked and hissed. In his haste to get to the crash, his feet flew out from under him. Hard ground met his ass. “Shit!”
He pushed himself upright using his shaky legs and pebble-embedded hands. Approaching the upside-down Denali with one ear cocked to the road above, a satisfied sense of victory thumped his chest.
Knees bent, he peered through the shattered window on the driver’s side. “Eww.”
Roof and dashboard were separated by six inches and what once served as the windshield was now open sky. A seatbelt covered her torso, thick with shards of glass and blood. Deep gashes littered her face and arms, and he couldn’t be sure but the downward angle of her right shoulder smacked of a broken collarbone. For a brief moment, he wondered what other bones had been crushed during the violent crash.
He studied her for a minute, maybe longer, but she hadn’t moved a muscle or uttered a sound. Hell, not even Earnhardt, Jr. in his souped-up Chevy SS could have survived this mess.
“Not so pretty now, gypsy slut, are ya?”
As if in the last throes of death, the Denali spewed a belch or two. Worried the damn thing would explode and blow his ass into next week he reached through the rear window and grabbed her luggage…which looked more like a large canvas bag to him. “Now, sweetheart, where is your phone?”
The most likely place would be her purse in the front seat. He walked around the car, squinted through the open window and spied it lying on the floor, or the proper term would be roof now. He yanked it out and rifled through it for the phone, then cursed when he turned up empty-handed. He searched the ground around the Denali. Nada…zilch. He looked at the sky. “Why me, God?”
With his eyes on the terrain in front of him, searching left-to-right, his foot made contact with a solid object, a pink, solid object. The cell had apparently flown out the window during the downward spiral.
After scrambling up the rest of the bank, he pulled his phone from the pocket of his trousers.
A low-pitched, wobbly voice answered. “Shit, man, what took so long? Been waiting on your call for two hours.”
“Don’t get your boxers in a bunch, Bones. She made a stop at a gas station and didn’t exactly fly down the Interstate.”
“I asked you to stop calling me Bones.”
“Oh, yeah, that’s right. Call me forgetful or maybe intent on reminding you that I know a lot more about you than you think.” He belly laughed. “I mean that is what you do, pick the bones cleans, or more specifically the teeth clean, of dead people.”
“Abuse didn’t come with the contract. Besides, I got a bad feeling about this one.”
“You got two choices: Back out, in which case I’ll have the Feds knocking on the door of that seedy funeral home with warrants to exhume some cadavers,” he paused, “or pick up the body and take it back to Des Moines.”
“What if I get stopped by the Highway Patrol?”
“We’ve been over this you German blockhead. Ain’t no Highway Patrol gonna stop you if you’re acting normal. Pretend it’s like any routine run to retrieve a dead body and for Christ sake, don’t speed.”
Silence met him.
“Hans, you still there?”
“Yeah, I’m here. Thinking about my future life behind bars. Jesus, disposing of dead bodies without a Death Certificate from the coroner is serious shit.”
“Little late for second thoughts, isn’t it? You took the money, Bones, ten thousand in Franklins. Did you spend it already?”
“I got expenses, bill collectors knocking at my door.”
“You’re in deep already then. Again, I’m gonna give ya two choices: Pick up the dead girl or Shark and Tuna will pay you a visit soon. They won’t be knocking on your door, Hans; they’ll be breaking it down…before they crush your kneecaps. Any other questions?”
“Good. Now, when your furnace cools off, give me a call. I need to make sure all the loose ends are tied up, got it blockhead?”
“You gotta beat the tow truck there. I’ll wait twenty minutes before I call them, and I can’t tell you how much shit is gonna hit the fan if that body ain’t outta of the car before they arrive.”
“Okay, okay, I hear ya. So I turn left outta the 7-Eleven and I’ll come to a gravel road. Keep driving until I see a big bend, right?”
“Exactly. I’m gonna guess she went over the bank about half-mile into that curve.” He looked down the steep cliff again. “Hell, you can’t miss the skid marks in the road. Get outta the car and follow them. Look down and bingo! Denali on its back, dead girl inside.”
“You’re a bastard, you know that?”
“Yeah, but I’m a rich bastard which is more than I can say for you.”
The line went dead.
He walked back to his car and dialed the tow truck company he paid off yesterday. Another ten thousand Franklins in cold, hard cash down the drain to convince the hick to haul the Denali out of that ditch and pulverize it. When he attempted to hand over five-thousand, the clodhopper had the nerve to give him the evil eye. “Your contact said ten.”
Murder didn’t come cheap these days.
With her bag and purse slung over his shoulder, her cell in the pocket of his shirt, he walked back to his car and counted off the minutes until he could make the call to the tow truck company.
Keta is an award-winning and Amazon bestselling author who writes in several romance genres: Western, Historical, Paranormal, and Contemporary Romance. She dabbles in Urban Fantasy novels, and in a past life, wrote Gay Romance. Her books have received numerous accolades, including RWA contest finalist, Authors After Dark finalist, Top Pick of the Month and Recommended Review from top review sites, and Best Romance Finalist from The Independent Author Network.
Ps: For some strange reason, ghosts often show up in her stories, no matter the genre.
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