The Colton's: Montana
Undercover agent Jake Pierson figures one romantic dinner will get never-been-kissed librarian Mary Walsh to tell him everything she knows about her late father's criminal activities. But the more Mary talks, the more Jake wants to shut her up with kisses. Because he's falling for his own too-trusting target—and there isn't a damn thing he can do about it. Well, maybe one thing…
With her shiny new lease on life, Mary has become wiser about a lot of things. For one, she can spot a liar a mile away. She knows her gorgeous new boyfriend is hiding something. And she has a sneaking suspicion those secrets will get them both killed unless he trusts her with the truth.
Mary was pleased she and Jake were talking over the past—sort of. She liked that he cared and was curious. But she wasn’t entirely sure that digging up the past was a smart thing to do.
Deciding to go with being happy about his attention, she said, “My father had a lot of help in the early days of the family business. My mother and Craig did most of the real work putting that liquor business on the map. And there’s a story that Darius Colton lent my father some money just when he needed it the most. I simply can’t believe that the mob would do business with my dad. He was…”
“Difficult.” Jake’s chuckle was for real this time. He glanced over at her and winked. “I know. But I think it’s fun to sort through all the suspects who might’ve done the crime. Like a mystery murder game.”
Mary laughed out loud. “Well, it would be a lot more fun if it wasn’t my father we were talking about. But yes, we could do that. You’d need to meet the people involved, though. Maybe we could have a party out at the farm and invite most of the town. Would you like that?”
Jake reached over and touched her hand. “Sounds good. I want to meet your friends. But don’t you think we should check with your mother?”
“Sure, but Mom…” Mary stopped talking and gasped. “Oh, look at that.”
They’d rounded a hairpin turn and caught the tail end of a spectacular sunset. Jake pulled the SUV out onto a look-out point and put the transmission in park, idling the engine and watching the sun going down through the windshield.
This was why she’d wanted to come the long way. This sight. Even though the sun was setting behind their backs, the road they were traveling had enough twists and turns to afford terrific views of both mountains and skies.
Streaks of copper, peppered with raspberry points, spread out to the indigo heavens from a cheddar-colored base of sun. Beautiful sunsets never lasted long in the mountains. But as this one eased over the bumpy horizon, it shimmered with colors reminiscent of the best rainbow she’d ever seen.
Mary sighed. “This trip was definitely worth the extra time. Thank you, Jake.”
When she looked toward him, he was already watching her.
“Definitely worth it.” He leaned in and surprised her with a sensual kiss. Warm and tender, but also full of longing and promise.
It was everything she’d ever hoped to have from a man she could love. Her lips tingled and her heart fluttered in her chest. She had to fight the daydreams of a rosy future playing over in her mind. She was inexperienced, but not stupid. Jake was still holding back for some reason.
As he pulled away and sat back, he whispered, “You are every bit as beautiful as that sunset, Mary. Damned straight it was worth the…”
Mary felt the jolt before she heard the screech of tires. “Jake!” Someone had hit them from behind—hard.
“I’m on it! Hang on.”
The SUV roared to life as Jake threw it into gear and took off. He stepped on the gas and sped around the rest of the curve, barreling toward the crest of the mountain.
“What are you doing? You can’t leave the scene of an accident. What if someone was hurt?”
“That was no accident. Tighten your seat belt.”
What? Not an accident? Then that had to mean someone deliberately ran into them. But why?
As she tugged at her seatbelt, she looked into the outside mirror but saw nothing. Nothing but the blackness of after dusk in the mountains. Turning to Jake, she started to question what he’d said.
But before she could open her mouth, he thundered out another order. “Brace yourself. They’re closing in.”
She didn’t need to flick another glance in the mirror to notice bright headlights suddenly close behind them. Too close.
And too bright. The whole inside of their SUV lit up like a sunshine-filled morning.
He didn’t answer as he fought the wheel and stepped down harder on the gas. In the glare of their own headlights, Mary could see one more hairpin turn coming up ahead. If they got hit from behind there, it was a five hundred foot drop over the side.
Mary held her breath while Jake urged the SUV to go faster down the hill toward the turn. She noticed the headlights behind them growing slightly dimmer as they raced on in the dark. No one could take these turns at high speeds. It was insane.
But Jake never slowed as he entered the next turn. Mary closed her eyes and put her hands over her mouth to keep from screaming. She heard the brakes, felt the tires skidding sideways and waited for the worst.
From the book: COVERT AGENT’S VIRGIN AFFAIR (Coltons:Montana)
by Linda Conrad
Silhouette Romantic Suspense
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