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DEADLY MISCONCEPTIONS by SANDY LOYD
PI Lucy Maddox, former thief, liar and have-not, spent her formative years as a runaway on the streets. She’s worked hard to rise above her past, and now leads a respectable life using her survival skills in a more honest way. Yet when the reporter responsible for getting her off the streets goes missing, she risks her respectability to steal a thumb drive. Lucy believes the drive, belonging to her missing friend, holds incriminating evidence against the last person the reporter interviewed before vanishing.
Unfortunately, Jack Finnegan, nemesis and royal PITA, catches her leaving the scene of the crime, the office of a judge who is announcing his candidacy for governor in three days. Jack is the man’s top aide and campaign manager. Jack dealt with Lucy during her years on the street when he interned for the judge. Back then Lucy was a lying hothead who acted before thinking and refused to let the system work for her. Her accusations have come at the worst time. Jack’s not about to let lies and innuendoes ruin his employer’s good name. He believes, like everyone else, the missing reporter is on an undercover assignment and isn’t checking in for obvious reasons.
Jack joins forces with Lucy, mainly to prove her wrong and to keep an eye on her. From the reporter’s thumb drive they uncover a ring of high school girls whose behavior could only be characterized as bullying. Then things get crazy, starting with a harrowing near-miss that’s just too coincidental to be accidental. Plus, they’re being followed.
Jack and Lucy’s mutual dislike for each other disintegrates into mutual respect and their attraction builds. As both are drawn deeper into the mystery, they struggle to keep their emotions in check. And when they uncover the truth about the games the cruel girls were playing, Jack and Lucy realize they have fallen victim to Deadly Misconceptions.
DEADLY MISCONCEPTIONS by SANDY LOYD
She slowly turned the dial. When the first soft click hit her ear, her hand stilled, even as the pounding of her heart increased. Then with painstaking precision, she switched direction until she caught the next click.
“Uh, Lucy.” Mike’s voice shot into her other earpiece. “We got problems. Finnegan’s heading my way and he doesn’t look happy.”
“Rats,” she said under her breath, letting go of the dial. Just what she needed. Jack “By-the-book” Finnegan spoiling her perfect heist. “Stall him,” she whispered into her mic.
“I’ll try,” her partner answered.
Mike’s words faded into silence. Lucy took a deep breath and rolled her shoulders.
“Where the hell is Maddox?” Jack Finnegan’s annoyed voice burst into her earpiece with enough force to make her jump. Damn, did Cardello’s golden boy have nothing better to do than search her out? She almost had the safe open.
“Tell him I’m in the ladies’ room.” Lucy flicked off her earpiece, then stuck her penlight into her mouth to free up both hands. After shaking them out, she wiggled her fingers. The instant she touched the dial, her concentration returned to the other listening device attached to the metal door. Much to her good fortune, Cardello hadn’t updated this dinosaur. The newer digital safes on the market were harder to crack, which would mean more time. With Choirboy Finnegan sniffing around nearby, that precious commodity had suddenly shrunk to seconds.
When the last tumbler fell into place, releasing the ancient safe’s door with an audible snick, she opened it and swallowed triumph. Moonlight larceny with a party in full swing not a hundred feet away wasn’t her preferred MO. Neither was wearing a secondhand vintage Versace that made her feel naked on top, but friendship trumped playing it safe. And she had to admit, a little B and E kept her skills sharp. She adjusted her strapless gown to make sure nothing had slipped, and ignoring one hell of an adrenaline rush, she took the penlight out of her mouth.
Angling the light to maximize its limited beam, she swiftly scanned the small compartment noting papers, the family jewels, and passports. Then spotting what she sought, Lucy allowed herself a satisfied smile. Without disturbing the other contents, she reached for the thumb drive.
“All in a day’s work,” she whispered, hurriedly slipping the device into her beaded gold evening bag. Hopefully the drive would lead to a few answers, mainly—where her best friend was and why she had disappeared in the first place.
Lucy’s focus then switched to returning to mingling at the Friday night gala without Jack Finnegan or anyone else being the wiser. Still moving fast, she closed the safe, rearranged the original Monet back into place, and tossed the mic, both earpieces, and penlight into her bag, then darted toward the exit across the room. Just as Lucy reached for the crystal doorknob, it turned slightly in her hand. A heartbeat later, the door flew open.
Oops, she thought, stopping short with barely enough time to step back before colliding with a tuxedo-clad Jack. Light from the hallway outlined the solid mass of male elegance, one who’d fit right in at the Oscars. But there was nothing elegant in the deadly gleam of those baby blues aimed directly at her.
“What the hell are you doing in the judge’s personal office?” His harsh whisper rasped into her ears and slid down her stiffening spine.
They locked gazes as the door closed behind him, leaving them surrounded in shadows. His spicy scent drifted under her nose, filled the space around her, and added to a masculine appeal few females could resist—excluding her, of course. Wouldn’t you know he’d look his best tonight. He could give Brad Pitt lessons on being sexy. Too bad the package was misleading. In her mind, the man was the antithesis of what those sexy good looks promised.
“I asked you a question.” Jack grabbed her arm and pushed her up against the wall. “And I expect an answer.”
The chair rail dug into the small of her back and she was too surprised to do anything but stare into his face. “I was doing my job,” Lucy said, hissing the words once she found her wits.
Even in the darkness, she could see annoyance well up in Jack’s eyes, an irritation so strong it bristled off him as he loomed over her, his tall muscular body so close the thumping of his heartbeat blended with hers.
“Really?” The one-word sneer didn’t disguise his doubt. His gaze narrowed.
Lucy nodded, protectively concealing her evening bag in the folds of her matching gown. She wasn’t a fool. There was no way she could tell Judge Cardello’s top aide and campaign manager the truth—that she believed his mentor was involved with her best friend’s disappearance. Jack would blow off her concerns, just as others already had. She’d had no choice but to take matters into her own hands and steal the thumb drive.
Jack snorted and shook his head. “You were hired to mingle and act as another pair of eyes in case of trouble. Since all the guests are out there…” he nodded at the door behind him, “…I’ll ask you again. What are you doing in here?” He waited a moment, then said, “Well? Don’t just stand there gawking, answer the question.”
“FYI, I was checking out a disturbance,” she lied, lifting her chin a notch.
Suddenly the doorknob jerked and the door opened slightly. Jack glanced over his shoulder. Lucy strained to see who interrupted them, but Jack, swearing under his breath, pressed closer and blocked her view as someone stepped inside.
“Play along, unless you’d rather answer a lot of questions and risk losing your job.” His soft breath caressed her neck an inch from her ear.
The next instant his mouth covered hers. She got that he meant the kiss as a ruse to cover their being caught in Cardello’s office, but his lips were warm and inviting, and the utter softness of them touching hers shocked her into responding—something she never imagined herself doing—not with him. Lucy did not like Jack Finnegan. Never had. The guy was too heartless and soulless for her taste. However, as she inhaled more of his spicy scent, she quickly realized kissing someone like him was a surprising pleasure, especially when sensations she’d never felt before overwhelmed her system.
Still clutching her bag, she allowed the kiss to continue, unable to summon the will to stop the impulsive desire to wrap her arms around him. In fact, she grabbed hold of his neck with her one free hand in an effort to hang on to her sanity. Which was so unlike her—and damn if he wasn’t disabusing her of a few long-held assumptions about his cold persona.
Jack definitely knew how to use that mouth. The thought slipped away when his hand trailed up the side of her arm, rested on her neck, then stroked it as tingles raced throughout her body. He stepped closer, letting her feel his arousal…oh Lord. She fought a burst of unexpected pleasure…and an urge to rub against him…even as sensation after sensation swamped her with more heat, spreading warmth from the inside out.
“Oh, excuse me. I didn’t realize anyone was in here.”
Lucy stiffened as the feminine voice registered and reality splashed over her with the effectiveness of ice water. If only she could snap her fingers and disappear, especially after Jack, seeming totally unfazed, broke contact enough to glance in the lady’s direction.
At that point, Lucy wondered if she’d imagined his erection, or had it been wishful thinking?
She almost groaned aloud at that thought. What was wrong with her?
The quick click of the latch, a loud reminder that someone had interrupted in the first place, drew her out of her thoughts and meant they were alone again.
She closed her eyes, too embarrassed to meet his gaze when it landed on her face. She was not attracted to Jack Finnegan. Never had been and never would be again.
Still feeling his silent scrutiny, Lucy cleared her throat, searching for a quick retort. Just her luck, her mind would go blank at the worst possible moment. Her face was probably scarlet, considering the heat seeping into it. Blushing certainly didn’t aid the “what the hell was that” attitude she was shooting for, but she threw him a nasty glare anyway. She’d rather have her fingernails pulled out one by one than let him know how much kissing him had her so nonplussed when he appeared so unaffected.
“Come on.” Jack grabbed her hand, giving her no choice but to follow. At the door, he hesitated a moment, listening, then added coolly, as if the last few minutes hadn’t happened, “Let’s clear out before anyone else discovers you’ve been snooping in here.”
“I’m not going anywhere with you,” Lucy said, trying unsuccessfully to yank out of his grasp. Now that she possessed the thumb drive, escape was her main goal.
His grip only tightened.
Anger rose with each step as Jack tugged her behind him. He ignored her continued resistance and kept walking through the hallway, leading her away from the noise of the party. At a closed door, he halted and looked cautiously around before ushering her inside what appeared to be a utility closet. Except this room, like so many others in Judge Cardello’s house, was oversized and seemed more like a small bedroom than a closet.
“Back off.” Her heated command bounced off the walls and Lucy was finally able to jerk out of his hold, more irritated with herself for letting him throw her off balance in the first place. “I resent being manhandled.”
Still paying her no mind, Jack turned to shut the door as if she hadn’t just shouted at him.
She rubbed her wrist, praying the heat from his touch would dissipate. Damn it all, being in such a confined space with the guy wasn’t in her best interest. Not after almost self-combusting in his arms just moments ago. He might not feel anything, but her head wouldn’t stop buzzing. That was unsettling enough and was definitely not something she wanted to think about.
“I doubt anyone will interrupt us in here.” He crossed his arms and leaned against the wall without taking his gaze off her.
Lucy curled her fist and resisted the urge to smack him. She didn’t see how he could remain so completely undisturbed when everything about his looming presence tipped her off balance.
“Now, where were we?” He smiled and the amused gleam in his eyes gradually turned more suggestive.
Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Sandy Loyd considers herself a Western girl through and through. As a sales rep for a major manufacturer, she’s had the chance to live and work in some fabulous places, including South Florida. She’s traveled extensively throughout the US, and has a million stored memories to draw from for my stories. Sandy spent her single years in San Francisco and considers that city one of America’s treasures, comparable to no other city in the world. Her California Series, beginning with Winter Interlude, are all set in the Bay Area.
After living on both coasts, she now calls Kentucky home, where she writes full time. Yet, as much as she loves Louisville, she missed the mountains and has to go back to her roots to get her mountain and skiing fix at least once a year.
She’s recently become an empty nester and has published eight books: four contemporary romances and four romantic mystery/suspense/thrillers. She strives to come up with fun characters—people you would love to call friends. And we all know friends have their baggage and when we discover what makes them tick, we come to love them even more. She tries not to skimp on the romance. And because she love puzzles, she doesn’t skimp on intrigue, either. Yet, whether romantic suspense or contemporary romance, there is always a warm love story woven into her work along with enough twists and turns to entertain any reader.
Links to Sandy Loyd’s website, blog, books, etc.
Contact Sandy – www.sandyloyd.com.
The link to Amazon for A Matter Of Trust – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BH7GOCI
Amazon author page – http://www.amazon.com/author/sandyloyd
**SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Sandy will give away a Kindle copy of DEADLY MISCONCEPTIONS to all of her lucky readers!! The book will be FREE on Kindle at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B6E4B2C for everyone March 11-15th so snag up your own copy as a gift! Thanks, Sandy, for sharing your story with us!