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He hired her to catch a thief, little did he know, she’d steal his heart.
After serving fifteen years in the Army, Sage Reynolds is used to being rootless and spending her life on the road. When she drifts into Sapphire Falls she’s so deep in debt she has no choice but to take a job with an up and coming private security firm–even though the first time she meets her handsome boss she discovers he’s a chauvinistic caveman.
Desperate for help, Levi hired Sage sight unseen under the assumption she was a man. Boy was he wrong. Unfortunately, he needs an experienced security expert to help stem the rash of burglaries in town, not a gorgeous woman who distracts him to no end and upends his carefully ordered life.
Now they’re forced to learn to trust each other and time is of the essence as the town’s people are becoming restless and the burglaries seem to have no end.
Don’t miss the first story in the exciting Bluegrass Security series. PJ Fiala will keep you turning pages into the night!
The weather had turned colder today; typical Nebraska weather—cool one day, warm the next. Pulling his stiff hands from his woolen coat pockets,Levi opened the door to the diner,and the warmth washed over him comingled with the delicious aromas of freshly baked biscuits and bacon frying in the kitchen. Nodding to the waitress, he found a seat in the booth in the corner—his favorite place. It was hard staying to yourself in this town. Everybody knew everyone and everything a person did; it was annoying. Although, in his line of work, it did come in handy to know some of the things going on. He tried to quietly keep tabs on everything within reason.
The waitress walked to his table, a skip in her step and a cheery smile. It was a bit too early in the day for that as far as he was concerned. She smiled brightly. “Mornin’, Levi. The usual today?”
“Morning, Viv. Black coffee, two eggs over easy, an order of crispy bacon, and toast on the side.”
She jotted something on her order form, then offered, “Yep, the usual. Be right back with your coffee.”
She skipped away,and he took the opportunity to glance at her legs. She always wore shorts and tennis shoes when she worked. Her nail polish was always a different color and her red hair was always pulled up in some messy-looking do. She dressed a bit too young for her age—which he guessed to be mid-forties, maybe fifties—and she still maintainedthe vigor of youth. Whereas, he felt old beyond his forty-five years.
He frowned as he watched her briskly move behind the counter; she was a whirlwind of activity—smiling and waving—just a happy gal. He slightly shook his head as he glanced around the diner. The usual suspects were present this morning. Some of the older farmers gathered each morning to talk about crops, equipment,and to gossip about the goings-on in town. There was an elderly couple at the next booth, a couple of high school kids at one of the tables, a nice looking younger gal with long dark hair and a striking face at the table in the window, and a smattering of truck drivers at the counter. This week’s gossip was especially juicy because the Halloween Festival was coming up next week and that’s when the majority of the town’s shenanigans happened. As soon as you added a haunted house, zombie shooting, a kissing booth, and a tarot reader to a small town, things that normally didn’t occur began to happen.
It was sure as hell going to makehis job harder this week. He hoped his new guy—who should be arriving this afternoon—worked out. He’d started his security firm a couple of years ago,and he was finally starting to see some profit. Worried that profit would float away if this new guy and Chuck, his employee of about two weeks, didn’t get trained to take on some of his work, Levi heaved out a heavy sigh.
“Here’s your usual, Levi.” Viv set the steaming plate of bacon and eggs in front of him, his toast on the side on a separate plate, two pats of butter next to the toast, a little pot of apricot jam next to that, and she refilled his coffee cup. She seemed to have five arms, though by looking at her, you’d never guess she could carry a kitchen full of food in one trip through the diner.
“You’re welcome. Are you excited for the festival? It’s my favorite time of year. Ooh, and did you hear? We’re going to have a gypsy in town. I hope she can read my palm and tell me something good.”
In spite of trying to stay neutral, he chuckled. “What would be something good?”
“Oh, you know. Love, marriage, house with a picket fence, a dog—the works.”
“I find it hard to believe you don’t already have all those things.”
She smiled brightly and winked. “Not yet, and at my age, time’s a wastin’, but I’m still hopeful.”
He glanced briefly at her backside as she moved to the next table to refill their coffee cups. She sauntered back before he’d finished his eggs and checked on the quality of the food, quietly laid the newspaper alongside his plates, and walked away without another word.
He opened the paper to glance at the local goings-on and frowned when he saw there’d been another break-in at one of the farms. The locals had a hard time letting go of the old ways of doing things and security seemed a bit uppity and unnecessary to some of them. They thought they knew about everythinggoing on in this town andsecurity wasn’t something that was needed. Luckily enough, there had been new people moving into townas of late, and they were from areas where security cameras, microphones,and devices were necessary. That’s how he flourished. That and locals in the next town over—in York—loved his work.
He trained his ears on the old farmers jabberingnext to him and heard them speaking of the break-in. Oddly, they had more information than what was printedin the paper. Food, clothing, tools,and some pry bars had been takenfrom Thomas Bennett’s barn.
Finishing his coffee, he watched the gal sitting in front of the window.Shesat quietly enough, but shewas assessing the crowd. He watched as she looked at each table and booth occupant before moving on to the next. When her eyes landed on his, a little jolt ran through his body; those dark eyes of hers were mesmerizing. She was petite of build,but intelligence showed on her face and in the way she held herself. She wore no makeup on her face and yet she was striking. Their gazes locked for a few moments, then she glanced to the farmers sitting at the big table next to his.
He tucked the paper under his arm and walked to the cash register at the end of the counter, laid the paper down, and pulled his wallet from his back pocket.
“Busy day ahead, Levi?”
“Yeah. I just hired a new guy to help me out and maybe train Chuck. Hoping it all works as planned.”
“Okay, good luck then. If you need a date for the festival, I might be available.” She smiled her brightest smile,and he couldn’t help but grin back. “Thanks,Viv, but I’ll be working the festival this year. TJ asked me to head up security around town.” TJ Bennett was the Mayor of Sapphire Falls and the oldest of the boys in the Bennett family. Levi had been surprised but thrilled when TJ called him about security.
“Well, look at you working with the Mayor and all.” She let out a low whistle and Levi blushed.
I was born in Bridgeton, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. During my time in Missouri, I explored the Ozarks, swam in the Mississippi River, played kickball and endless games of hide-and-seek with the neighborhood kids. Spending summers in Kentucky with my grandmother, Ruth, are among my fondest childhood memories.
When I was thirteen, my family moved to Wisconsin to learn to farm. Yes, learn to farm! Taking city kids and throwing them on a farm, with twenty-eight cows purchased from the Humane Society because they had been abused, was interesting, to say the least. I learned to milk cows, the ins and outs of a breeding schedule, feeding schedule, the never-ending haying in the summer, and trying to stay warm in the winter. During our first winter in Wisconsin, we had thirty-six inches of snow from one storm, and were snowed in for three days! Needless to say, I didn’t love Wisconsin. I am married with four children and four grandchildren. I’ve learned to love Wisconsin, though still hate snow. Wisconsin and the United States are beautiful and my husband and I travel around by motorcycle seeing new places and meeting new people. It never ceases to amaze me how many people are interested in where we are going and what we’ve seen along the way. At almost every stop they make, the locals ask us where we’re headed and offer advice on which roads in the area are best for travel and seeing the sites. They are also more than willing to share what others before them have told them about great rides and the best scenic routes to take.
I come from a family of veterans. My grandfather, father, brother, two sons, and one daughter-in-law are all veterans. Needless to say, I am proud to be an American and proud of the service my amazing family has given.
Links to PJ’s website, blog, books, etc.
Thanks, PJ, for sharing your book with us!
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