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SECRETS & LIES
Hearts of Braden Book Four
BY SUSANNE MATTHEWS
DEA agent Emily Shepherd is after the Chef, a crystal meth cook, who sets up labs for the Mexican cartel and walks away—the same man responsible for the deaths of her husband and unborn child. Her search leads her to Braden, Iowa, a small town just right for the Chef’s specialty. But identifying her quarry won’t be easy when she’s up against a woman who sees her as a threat, a male chauvinistic deputy sheriff and an attractive school principal who might just be at the center of it all.
Jackson Harris has sworn off women. Life is satisfactory if lonely, until he meets a hazel-eyed damsel in distress who gets under his skin, and triggers that protective instinct of his. There’s a killer in town, one who may or may not be a notorious drug lord. Finding him, and keeping his town, his students, and Emily safe, may be harder than he thinks.
Love is breaking out in Braden, Iowa. Follow all the romance with this collection of stories. Secrets and Lies is part of the Hearts of Braden Series, a multi-author series Secrets and Lies stands alone for your reading enjoyment, but the story doesn’t need to end there.
SECRETS & LIES
Hearts of Braden Book Four
BY SUSANNE MATTHEWS
“Why the hell didn’t you tell me the truth, Kyle? I had a right to know.”
Emily Jacobson Shepherd sat in one of the hard chairs across from Kyle Kavanagh’s desk, fervently wishing she’d opted to stand, although by now that would probably be torture, too. She’d run the gamut of emotions these past eighteen months, but nothing matched her current fury.
“Damn it, Emily. I didn’t know for sure until they recovered the bodies in Mexico. We thought he’d died in that blast, too,” he said running his hand through his sparse ginger hair. “Information to the contrary started trickling in about a year ago, but it was just speculation. Even my source inside the cartel wasn’t positive. Since I wasn’t sure you’d ever be able to come back, let alone want to do so, I figured letting you think he was dead would help you heal and move on.”
The Chef was alive! She tried to get her head around Kyle’s revelation and was still too stunned to fully appreciate all that those four little words implied. The bastard wasn’t one of the unidentified corpses they’d found in the warehouse. Kyle had suspected the truth for almost a year, and yet he’d let her go on believing her enemy was gone. Knowing that monster was still out there, praying on the innocent and luckless, would’ve helped her get back on her feet sooner. Instead, she’d wallowed in months of self-pity, regretting the losses she’d suffered, and feeling cheated because her nemesis would never pay for the crimes he’d committed. Death in that explosion would’ve been the easy way out for him. She wanted him to suffer, like she had, like she did now.
“You don’t have the right to decide what I need or don’t need. It was my life he ruined.”
The Chef had forfeited his men the way a chess player sacrificed his pawns. Those poor buggers probably hadn’t realized they were the equivalent of the guys in the red shirts on Star Trek. Alex had loved the sci-fi series and always joked that the extras in the red shirts should get danger pay since they were sure to die within the first few minutes of the episode—that was unless of course they were engineers. Like the Enterprise’s Montgomery Scott, the Chef always managed to make it out in one piece. Despite his age and educational background, Alex had been superstitious and had refused to wear red shirts, citing the precedent, and yet wearing a blue shirt hadn’t saved him or the other men who’d walked into the trap with him. By some miracle, she’d survived, but look at the price she’d paid. This was her chance to get even, to get the justice she wanted for the man she’d loved. Who was she kidding? She wanted revenge, plain and simple, but Kyle was vacillating, and she didn’t like it one damn bit. He owed her.
“This is my case, has always been my case, and now that I’m back, I should be the one to follow through on it.”
She was so angry with the agent-in-charge of the El Paso Division of the DEA that she was shaking, and gripped her hands together to hide it. How dare he presume she could ever go on not knowing the truth? A slip of the tongue from a visiting agent and friend had changed everything and given her a reason to live again. Badgering her doctor, she’d convinced him to let her return to full duties. The days and nights of feeling sorry for herself were over. Her life had purpose again, and that goal was to put the Chef out of business once and for all.
“Despite what you’ve heard, we don’t know exactly where he is, but we know where he’s been. We’ve got someone on the inside now, and our informant says he’s on the move. I’ll see what I can do about getting you reassigned to the case, but Emily, it isn’t up to me alone. The brass has to sign off on this, and given the situation, I’m not sure they will.”
“Then you need to convince them I’m the best person for the job. I’m not an idiot, Kyle,” she said, frustration giving her voice an unnecessary edge. “I’m a frigging bionic woman now. People with artificial limbs like mine return to their regular jobs every day. Soldiers go back into the field, and it’s time I did, too. It’s taken me more than a year to accept what happened to me, and I’ll be damned if I let it steal any more of my life. I’m either a DEA agent returned to full duty or I’m not, and you’ll have my resignation on your desk as fast as I can print and sign it, but let me assure you, I will find him even if I have to do it on my own and spend every last cent I have tracking him down.”
Susanne Matthews was born and raised in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. She’s always been an avid reader of all types of books, but with a penchant for happily ever after romances. In her imagination, she travelled to foreign lands, past and present, and soared into the future. A retired educator, Susanne spends her time writing and creating adventures for her readers. She loves the ins and outs of romance, and the complex journey it takes to get from the first word to the last period of a novel. As she writes, her characters take on a life of their own, and she shares their fears and agonies on the road to self-discovery and love.
Links to Susanne’s website, blog, books, etc.
Watch for SECRETS & LIES
Release Date: November 17, 2015
Don’t miss the chance to read these stories! Thanks, Susanne, for sharing your story with us!!