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CONTESTS & FUN

with USA TODAY Bestselling Author 

Julie Miller!

 

DECEMBER Book GiveAway!
 



 

Congratulations to Barb Portell! Maggie selected her as the winner of my November Book GiveAway contest. Barb won a copy of my 2-in-1 release HEROES OF S.W.A.T. I enjoyed reading about all your favorite types of heroes--Barb, btw, has a thing for military men and billionaires!

For my December book GiveAway, I'm giving away a title from my backlist--print or digital, depending on availability--winner's choice. To enter, read the new excerpt from CROSSFIRE CHRISTMAS and answer the holiday-themed question at the end. Just email me your answer and contact information for a chance to win a free book! Deadline to enter is December 24th.

 

 


 

 


 

 

   

Rules for Julie's Contests

  • One entry per person.
  • By entering, entrants grant permission for their name to be posted on the Julie Miller web site at www.juliemiller.org and in Julie's newsletter.
  • Winners will be chosen by random drawing from among all entries.
  • The odds of winning depend upon the number of participants.
  • Void where prohibited.


MEET JULIE!

Dec. 8th

"2nd Holiday Whodunit" Intrigue Facebook Christmas Party; Giveaways 

Dec. 8 & 12th

Harlequin Community Open House; Giveaways  

 

 

Julie in San Antonia, TX at the 2014 RWA National Conference

 

50 Book pin presentation is Craig Swinwood-CEO Harlequin Enterprises, Dianne Moggy-Editorial Director, HQ Ent, Moi, Leslie Kelly-fellow 50-book award recipient, Lorianna Sacilotto-VP, HQ Ent

Sitting beside me at the Harlequin party is Linda O. Johnston

 

BJ Daniels, Delores Fossen and me

 

Julie in Atlanta, GA at the 2013 RWA National Conference

Julie with good buddy B.J. Daniels

Delores Fossen, Julie Miller, B.J. Daniels


 

RECENT APPEARANCES

Julie Miller at the PRW 20th Anniversary

 
Julie's local writing group, the Prairieland Romance Writers, celebrates 20 years of excellence in romance fiction at an anniversary Open House in Grand Island, NE
 
Prairieland Romance Writers celebrates 20 years of excellence in romance fiction!

 

Author Julie Miller

Authors Scott and Julie Miller

Kearney, NE Booksigning, The Sequel Bookshop
Julie Miller, and Scott & Julie Miller

 

Independence, MO Booksigning
L-R Saranna DeWylde, Julie Miller, Janette Kenney, Sherri Shackelford, Cheryl St. John
 

Julie in New York City at the 2011 RWA National Conference
 

Julie Miller--Times Square

View of Times Square from Julie's hotel room
 

Julie Miller @ Transformers movie premiere

Julie at the Transformers movie premiere (Hi, Bumblebee!)

Julie Miller--Times Sqaure & Broadway

Times Square and Broadway

Julie Miller--RWA NYC 2011

My roomie, Elle James, Brenda Jackson, and my agent Pattie Steele-Perkins at the RWA booksigning

Julie Miller--RWA NYC 2011

The massive Literacy Autographing at RWA
 

 

 

Julie in Los Angeles, CA, at the 2011 RT BOOKreviews Convention
 

""The Do's & Dont's of Series Romance " workshop with Judy Duarte, Candace Havens, Julie Miller and B.J. Daniels.

"Lights! Camera! Party! the Series Romance Way" Reader Event
Back row: Kira Sinclair, HelenKay Dimon, B.J. Daniels, Lynn Raye Harris
Middle row: Judy Duarte, Crystal Green, Rebecca York, Candace Havens, Janette Kenney, Jan Hambright, Delores Fossen, Brenda Jackson
Front row: Kathleen O'Reilly, Kimberly Lang, Jade Lee/Kathy Lyons, Carol Erickson, Julie Miller

 


At the Booksigning


View from my hotel The Westin Bonaventure  in downtown L.A.


Went to hear Dean Koontz speak. Delightfully witty and educational! (and one of my fave authors!)


Barn View from my hotel, the Hollywood sign in the distance up in the Hollywood Hills.

 

 

 

Crossfire Christmas by Julie Miller

CROSSFIRE CHRISTMAS

Copyright  ©2014 by Julie Miller

Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.

(Excerpt)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

           

Dropping his belongings on the tiled entryway without any regard for the bag’s noisy contents was the only protest she made when he locked the door behind her. He slipped her keys into the pocket of his jeans while she took off her wet coat and draped it over the back of a dining room chair, then carried the smushed groceries to the kitchen peninsula.

“What is this? Santa’s workshop?”

Teresa turned and eyed the rolls of wrapping paper, ribbon and sacks of yet-to-be-wrapped presents strewn across the top of the table. “I have a big family, with lots of nieces and nephews. Don’t bad guys celebrate Christmas, too?”

“Not this year.” She caught his gaze across the entryway and thought she detected something more like longing in his weary gaze, rather than the sarcasm she’d imagined in his tone.

But when his eyes focused and met her curious perusal, his expression hardened like ice. He limped up beside her at the kitchen peninsula, reaching over to the phone above the counter and pulling out the line that connected it to the wall jack. “Hey!”

“My rules, darlin’.” That cord ended up in the pocket with her keys as he scanned the main rooms of her apartment, no doubt looking for any other means of communication to disable. When his gaze landed on her again, the bully who gave the orders was back. “Pull that table over in front of the door.”

“You have the gun, remember? I’m not running.”

“Forgive me if I don’t trust you.”

With a huff, Teresa scooted the chair aside and lifted the edge of the oak table she’d inherited from her mother.

“Wait.” Before she’d dragged it a foot, he was waving her away from the table with the gun and pointing into the living room. “Try the sofa.” Again, as soon as she started sliding it across the carpet, he stopped her. He nodded to the armoire against the wall where her television and sound system were stored. “Can you move that?”

A tad breathless, Teresa straightened, shoving her long, damp hair off her face. “Not unless I empty it out first.”

“Good.”

“What are you…?” As she curled her cold toes inside her boots to curb the urge to stop him, he put his good shoulder to the thick oak wood and pushed it in front of the door, effectively barricading the exit.

“Like I said, I don’t…trust…” He was bent over, breathing heavily, the fist with the gun braced on one knee, by the time he was finished. The man was running on fumes and sheer determination. But even that massive stubborn streak wouldn’t sustain him much longer.

“You really have a death wish, don’t you. You’d better sit before you keel over.” She picked up the blanket that had fallen to the floor and hooked her hand beneath his elbow, guiding him over to a stool at the kitchen peninsula. She draped the blanket over his head and shoulders, futilely trying to ignore the way, even when he was sitting down, that he was still a head taller than she was. It was equally hard not to notice how his chest and shoulders were broad and muscled and seriously imposing up close like this. She didn’t need the gun in his lap or the nothing-to-lose expression in his eyes to know she was completely at his mercy. She tucked the tattered edges of the blanket together and quietly pulled away. “Try to stay warm while I get my things.”

Instead of obeying even that most practical suggestion, he sloughed the blanket to the floor and stumbled after her into the bathroom, where she fetched her first-aid kit. His ragged breathing stirred the crown of her hair as he trailed her to the linen closet, too, where she pulled out her sewing kit and a stack of towels and washcloths.

But when she would have returned to the kitchen, he raised the gun and forced her on into the bedroom at the end of the hall. He spotted the phone on her bedside table and disconnected its cord just as he had the one in the kitchen. “You can work in here.”

“In my bedroom?” What kind of sick twist was he adding to this abduction-and-intimidation game now? “Look, I don’t know what else you think you can threaten me with, but I won’t let you touch—”

“Don’t flatter yourself, Peewee. In another lifetime, I might be tempted by all those curves. But tonight I only need you to be my nur…se.” He swore at the strain of shoving her bed in front of the window and the snow-packed fire escape outside. He collapsed onto the edge of the mattress, cradling his wounded arm in his lap. His rugged face was pale as a ghost, his lips quivering and nostrils flaring as he struggled to catch his breath. With another vicious curse, he tugged his ruined jacket off his shoulder, slowly uncovering the flak vest and her blood-soaked scarf sticking out from the neck and armhole. “The only other point of entry to your apartment is in here. And you’ll have to get past me to get out.”

If it hadn’t been for the gun clutched in his fist, she’d have banked on him passing out and would have climbed right over him without batting an eye to open that window and hurry down to Mrs. Walker’s to use her phone. But the one thing on the man that didn’t seem to be affected by his injuries was his grip on that gun. And, as intent as he was on ripping open the vest’s Velcro straps beneath each arm, she believed his assertion that using her bed as an examination table was only about keeping her prisoner, nothing more. So she set her supplies on the bed beside him, pulled on a pair of sterile gloves from the first-aid kit and went to work.

“Here, Mr. Charles. Let me.” She took over getting the jacket and protective vest off him, dumping both on the rug at her feet. She touched his right arm, pushing his hand up to the scarf, avoiding the gun while asking for his help. “Keep pressure on the wound.”

“It’s just Charles,” he answered, pressing the wool against his shoulder. “Charlie, to some.”

She pulled a pair of scissors from her sewing basket. “Do you have a last name, Charles?”

“Be careful with those.” She was keenly aware of his eyes following her every move as she cut away the left side of his black knit shirt and T-shirt. “You get any idea about stabbing me and I’ll—”

“So no last name?” She carefully peeled away the bloodied layers of cotton, exposing a landscape of corded muscle, dark bruises and faint white scars dotting his skin. “Madre Dios. What happened to you?”

“Had a disagreement with three guys who wanted to kill me, wrecked my truck, tussled with a petite brunette in the snow.”

“Stop it.” Compassion fisted in her gut as she touched her gloved fingertip to the oldest and palest mark branding his biceps, tracing the puckered ring, raising goose bumps across his ashy skin. “This is from an old gunshot wound. My brother has a scar like this. The kind of work you do must take a terrible toll on your body. And yet you keep going back for more punishment. Who did this to you? Who’s after you?”

“You feeling sorry for me, Peewee?” He turned his face to hers, the low rumble of his voice whispering across her skin like a warm breeze.

“You’ve been hurt so many…” Her voice trailed away when she realized how close she was standing to him. Her fingers still rested against his arm. Her thighs were touching his. And if she angled her head a fraction to the left, her cheek would slide against the raspy stubble of his jaw. Her heart rate kicked up a notch, thundering in her ears. Those firm male lips were just a hair’s breadth away from the apple of her cheek. Seriously? She couldn’t catch her breath? She was turned on by this brute? Surprise and shame poured through her blood and she pulled her hand away, retreating a step from his disturbing masculine heat.

What was happening to her? She must be suffering from some form of Stockholm syndrome already, feeling this perverted connection to her captor. She hated this man for threatening her life, for endangering Florence Walker and the rest of her neighbors simply by being here. He’d taken advantage of her desire to help someone in need and made her feel like a fool for doing so. He’d made her angry and afraid. She couldn’t feel sorry for the terrible harm that had been done to him over the years, and she certainly wasn’t attracted to him.

Yes, the men her sisters usually set her up with were safe and boring. None of the men she’d dated had ever made her heart thump against her ribs with an irrational awareness like this. This reaction to Charles No-Name Mystery Man was just fear talking. Adrenaline. These unwanted feelings of compassion and attraction to the hard planes of his body and the soft color of his eyes didn’t mean she had a death wish to get involved with anyone as dangerous and controlling as this creep.

She picked up a washcloth. “No. You made the choice to do what you do. If you want to lead a life of violence, I suppose it makes sense that you’d bear the marks of that decision.”

But when she turned around to walk to the bathroom sink to wet the cloth, Charles clamped a hand around her wrist like a vise, pulling her back between his knees. “You don’t have to understand me at all, Teresa.” Her gaze dropped to the gun on the quilt beside him, and he quickly released her to snatch it up before she could even think about making a lunge for it. “I’m not going to tell you my last name, because the less you know about me, the better. You may not believe this, but I’m trying to protect you.”

She retreated beyond his reach, rubbing at the traitorous warmth that lingered on her skin where he’d touched her. “Hence the threats and the kidnapping.”

“Does that mouth ever get you into trouble? Or is all the tough talk just a defense mechanism for you?” He nodded, as if something in her posture or expression had answered his question. “Try not to be too afraid. If you do everything I say, you’ll be safe.”

Teresa was too wet and cold and exhausted to stifle her sarcasm. “Well, guess what, Charlie. I don’t trust you, either.”

The corner of his mouth crooked up with half a grin at her expense. “No wonder you don’t have a boyfriend. You’re prickly when you get worried or riled up.”

“I’m not worried about you,” she lied.

The grin faded as he tugged at the scarf, now sticky with his blood, exposing the ragged wound at the front of his shoulder. “The people who tried to kill me this morning will try again. They’ve already tracked me to Kansas City. I have no doubt they’ll send someone else to find me and finish the job. I don’t want you caught in the crossfire. Enough innocent lives have already been lost.”

“What do you care about innocent lives?”

“Even men like me have a code of honor they live by. Rules about what’s right and wrong.” There was no trace of humor anywhere in his expression now. With the flecks of gold-and-brown beard dotting his neck and jaw, he looked even more like the wounded bear she’d imagined him to be earlier. He dropped the scarf onto the other soiled garments on the floor and raised his gaze to hers. “Rule One? I need to live. For a few days longer, at least. To do that, I need your help. That makes you an asset to me. Rule Two is protect your assets. So no last name. No warm fuzzies between us. I don’t need you to get close or to give a damn about me. Just do your job.”

“In a few days, it’ll be Christmas,” she pointed out. “Is there really a rule on that list of yours that says you’re going to let me go once I take out that bullet?” He arched a wheat-colored brow in a silent question. She moved around his knees and pointed to the bump in the skin beside his scapula. “I can see it protruding through the skin near your shoulder blade. Your protective vest must have worked in reverse. Instead of keeping the bullet out, it prevented the projectile from exiting your body. You need a surgeon, not a pediatric nurse.”

He shook his head. “I’ve got you. That’s all I need.”

“You’re lucky it’s not buried inside by a lung or other vital organ. And there’s no way to tell what muscle or bone damage there is without an X-ray.” She didn’t bother reminding him again that a hospital was where they should be right now.

He tipped that grizzled bear of a face up to hers. “Can you cut it out and stitch up the wound?”

Did he not understand the enormity of what he was asking of her? “Yes, but that’s only a superficial fix. A muscle tear will probably heal on its own. But if there’s a bone chip inside or a nicked blood vessel or nerve damage—”

“Do it.”

“I need a few minutes to boil water and sterilize everything.”

“No boiling water.” He slipped his long arm behind her waist, pulling her close again. “You think I’m going to trust you with a potential weapon like that?”

Ignoring the heavy weight of the weapon resting against her hip, Teresa jerked away. “You may have no problem hurting people, but it’s not my job or my nature to intentionally inflict any harm.”

“Oh yeah? Who was going to knee me a half hour ago?”

Guilty. She silently thanked him for the reminder she needed to clear her head of her confusing feelings. “I’ve got isopropyl alcohol in the bathroom.” She thumbed over her shoulder to the hallway. “Is it all right if I go and get that?”

Charles the Bully simply nodded.

She returned with a bowl of soapy water and a bottle of rubbing alcohol and went to work cleaning and sterilizing as much of the wound, needle, thread and paring knife she’d brought from the kitchen as she could. At his bidding, she’d turned her dresser mirror so that he could watch her work with the knife behind him. It was the reflection of jaded suspicion she spoke to now. “This isn’t standard procedure. And these conditions are far from sterile. What if I make it worse?”

His gaze met hers in the mirror. “Trust me, darlin’, I’m as tough as I look. You can’t make me hurt any worse than I already do.”

“The sooner you’re fixed up, the sooner you’re out of my life, right? Even though I know your name and can describe your face, I’ll be a free woman again? You won’t hurt anyone else?”

Those golden eyes, seemingly lit from within, offered her an unexpected reassurance. “You’re not who I’m after, darlin’. You’re not the one who needs to worry about me.”

So who was he after? Who should be worried about the toughness and the single-minded determination and all the guns she suspected were in that bag? Charles was big, strong, wounded, armed and serious as a heart attack. Whoever he was after should be afraid. She’d been a fool for not minding her tongue and risking his anger, for thinking for even one minute that she could run away or leave him behind or talk him into letting her go before he was done with her.

Shivering again, though with something more unsettling than the cold of her damp clothes, Teresa dropped her gaze to the broad expanse of his back. She opened the antiseptic spray and doused the injured shoulder. “This is only a topical anesthetic. When I cut through the skin, it’s going to hurt. If you cry out, the neighbors will hear. I don’t want anyone calling 911 and getting caught in the middle of another shoot-out with you.”

“I won’t cry out.”

She didn’t know whether to admire or fear a man with that kind of control. In the end, she reminded herself that what she felt didn’t matter. As a nurse, she simply did her job and took care of the patient, no matter what it might cost her emotionally.

Teresa patched him up the best she could. She cleaned and bandaged the wound on his left thigh, as well. An hour later, she had an exhausted man, dressed in little more than gauze and tape and the fresh jeans he’d pulled from that bag, sitting on the edge of her bed. He was flexing the fingers of his left hand. Although it still pained him to raise his arm, he was getting some feeling and use back in the hand, making him twice as dangerous as the one-armed thug had been. Per his instructions, she dumped the ruined clothing and medical supplies into a trash bag and picked it up to carry it out to the kitchen to dispose of later.

“You got any duct tape, Peewee?” he asked, slowly pushing to his feet. He towered over her, even in his bare feet, reminding her who was in charge. Teresa meekly nodded. “Bring it when you come back. Once you’ve cleaned up and put on some dry clothes, I’m tying you up in case you get any idea about escaping while I catch a few hours of sleep.”

Forget meek. Hadn’t she been cooperating? She tilted her face up to his. “You don’t have to restrain me. I promise I won’t try to go anywhere but the kitchen and bathroom.”

“Either I tie you up or you’re sleeping in this bed with me tonight.”

The bald statement shocked her, and maybe not entirely in the way it should have. So what if he was the most manly thing she’d ever had in her apartment? He was the enemy. Her captor. Compassion for his injuries and this rudimentary attraction didn’t matter. “You said you’d let me go.”

“When I’m done with you, I will. I figure I need six to eight hours of solid sleep to get my energy back before I can get out of your life. I can’t risk you calling the cops or giving me away to anyone before I’m ready to leave. Until then, I’m tying you up.” As if testing the newfound strength in his left hand, he closed his fingers around her chin and tipped it up, forcing her to look at him. “Do we understand each other?”

Teresa pulled away from his gentle yet firm, callused touch, nodding. “I’ll get the tape.”

 

Question:  What does Charles compare Teresa’s apartment to?

(hint: look for the reference to a jolly elf in a red suit)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
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FREE BONUS READ
 
 
TACTICAL ADVANTAGE
(Excerpt)
By
Julie Miller
©2013
 
 

 

 
 

Epilogue

 
 
1 1/2 months later
 
            “Reitzie.”  Annie lifted the lazy Siamese from the domino tumble of picture frames on the mantel where he was lounging while Nick carried up their overnight bags from their weekend getaway to St. Louis.  She set the cat on the floor and shooed him off to find where his counterpart, G.B., was hiding.
            In between unbuttoning her coat and untying the pink scarf that Grandma Connie had knit for her, she straightened one beloved picture after another.  When she reached the mutilated photo from the Baseball Hall of Fame, she smiled.  Without feeling one pang of regret, she opened up her paisley messenger bag and pulled out one of the souvenir post cards she’d bought on their trip and quickly swapped out the old picture for the new one.  She crumpled the memory of her ex-fiancé in her fist and tossed it into the trash.
            “There.”  Annie was admiring the new picture of Busch Stadium in St. Louis, and the new memory it represented, when Nick came in.  He locked the door behind him and hung up their coats.  She pulled the new picture on the mantel to a more prominent position.  “That’s better.”
            Nick came up behind her to wind an arm around her waist and doff a salute to the statue of Stan ‘the Man’ Musial.  “Much better.  Maybe Stan and your dad are up in heaven playing some catch right now.”
            Feeling a pang of melancholy, Annie leaned back against his solid warmth, and found even more comfort when he slipped the other arm around her as well, and pressed a kiss against her cheek.  The sadness quickly passed and she folded her hands over his, soaking in all the miraculous changes in her life since that fateful New Year’s Eve.
            She had a reason to celebrate the holidays now.
            She had a family--one that was bigger, crazier, more accepting and loving than any she could have imagined for herself.
            She wasn’t alone anymore.
            She had Nick.
            On New Year’s Day, Nick Fensom had promised her seventy-two hours of personal protection and free chauffeur’s service.  Now, he’d promised her a lifetime together.
            Annie held up her left hand and marveled at the beauty and symbolism of the simple diamond solitaire he’d given her on Valentine’s Day.
            He cupped her outstretch hand in his, angling it to catch the light in each facet.  “Happy?”
            She nodded.  “More than I have been in...”  She laced her fingers with his and pulled his arm back to complete the snug warmth of the embrace.  “...I don’t know how long.  You gave me a family, Nick.  You make me feel like I belong somewhere, like I belong to someone, like I’m never going to feel alone again. 
            “Yeah, but do you love me?”
            “Of course, I do.”
            “Well, a guy wonders, you know, because, um... technically, you never said yes.”
            Annie spun around in his arms, mortified.  “I didn’t?”
            Despite the grin, he was shaking his head as he twirled a lock of her hair between his index finger and thumb.  “As I recall, you burst into tears, blubbered some stuff about how happy your dad would be that I asked you to marry me in front of Musial’s statue, and then you started kissing me.”  Annie arched a skeptical brow as his handsome blue eyes met hers and the Irish bluster continued.  “Now, while I’m not opposed to that sort of activity, sometimes you’re hard to read--and it can be a little tricky on a man’s ego not to be entirely sure.”
            Annie caught his face between her hands.  “Do you really have any doubts about how much I love you?  What was it you once told me?  You’ll know when I make a promise to you.”
            “Pretty pithy stuff, huh?”
            She pulled his face closer to hers and stroked her thumb across his mouth.  “Then let me make this promise to you, Nicholas Fensom--I love you.  I need you in my life.  I want to be your wife.”  She stretched up to press a kiss to his lips before standing back to raise her right hand and lay her left over his heart.  “In front of Mom, Dad, Stan and the cats... my answer is yes.”
            Nick’s grin was devilish as he wound his arms around her and pulled her hips up against his.  “I liked all the kissing better.”
            “You...”  She smacked his shoulder, taking care to avoid the newly healed wound that could have killed him when he saved her life.  The crime lab building was under repair as well, and both the detective and the lab were back at work.  “You’re terrib--”
            With a laugh, Nick’s mouth covered hers, ending the teasing, demanding that she prove with her heart and body what her words had already confessed.  And Annie willingly accepted the challenge.  Nick slid his deliciously warm hands beneath her sweater and dipped his tongue into her mouth.  Annie’s fingers went to the hem of Nick’s shirt, untucking it from his jeans, taking the same liberties to stroke and touch and grab that he took with her.
            His thighs crowded against her, driving her back into the arm of the sofa.  Annie wrapped her arms around his neck and turned, steering him around the couch.  He pulled her along with him a couple of steps, drawing his tongue along that sensitive bundle of nerves beneath her ear.  “I love the way your mind thinks.”
            “I love the way your--”  He gently nipped the spot and Annie gasped, shuddering with desire.
            She tugged on his belt buckle as Nick’s seductive assault backed her into the wall.  His hands were under her sweater again, making it difficult to recall the rest of her sentence.  But the power of his kiss, the need of his hands, the hardness of his body made her realize that words were no longer necessary.  The tension that had simmered between them from their very first meeting blazed into white-hot passion.  They were yin and yang.  Opposites attracting and completing each other.  Perfectly in sync.  Perfect together.
            Nick pulled her away from the wall to sweep the sweater off over her head, exposing her torso to the chilly air of her apartment.  But he palmed her bottom and lifted her up against him, singeing her body with the solid heat of his.  Annie wrapped her legs around his hips as he reclaimed her mouth and stumbled to the bedroom.  There, in a flurry of dropping clothes and stolen kisses, they fell onto the bed together.
            There was no more teasing, no more debate, no more doubt about the unexpected love they’d found together.  Nick sheathed himself and settled between her legs as Annie impatiently drew him down on top of her.  There was nothing wounded about his compact, beautifully toned body beyond the scar on his shoulder.  He was fit and fine and sexier than than the box score of a perfect game as he began to move inside her.
            His fingers tangled into her hair as he thrust himself in to the hilt and whispered against her ear.  “I love you, Annie.  I love you.”
            Believing that promise with all her heart, she let go and flew over the edge into pure bliss with him.
                                                                        #
            The cats had joined them in bed, anchoring the quilt around Annie’s toasty feet, when stereo pagers went off sometime later.  She startled awake, pushing aside cats and covers to reach for her phone on the bedside table while Nick rolled to sit up on his side to retrieve his phone from his jeans on the floor.
            “It’s work.”  They announced in unison.
            “I’ll call in.”  Nick pulled on his shorts and jeans and tossed her the pants she’d worn earlier.  “You get some clothes on before you distract me again.”
            As alert and worried as she’d been replete and content moments earlier, she quickly dressed.  A call from Dispatch before the sun was up could never be a good thing.  The grim look on Nick’s face echoed as much as he called his partner’s number.
            “Spence?  It’s Nick.”  Annie tiptoed around the bed and Nick circled his arm around her, drawing her close.  “Yeah, we’re both here.”
            Annie caught most of the conversation with the task force commander, and was glad she’d packed her spare kit in the back of Nick’s Jeep.  The men the Cleaner had blackmailed into killing Annie and destroying evidence were either dead or jailed.  The only one who’d survived the assault on the crime lab had been unable to give them a usable description of the woman who’d recruited him because all the arrangements, from impersonating police officers to infiltrating the lab, had gone through Raj Kapoor.  But, thanks to her and Nick, they had a trace sample to identify the rapist’s blood type, and a fingerprint they could match to the Cleaner--once they got the right suspect in custody.  It was evidence that could help put them both away in prison for a very, very long time.
            But the grim report from Spencer Montgomery reminded them both that there was more work to be done.  Nick ended the call and pressed a kiss to Annie’s temple.
            “Time to go to work, slugger.”  He strapped on his gun and his badge.  “The Rose Red Rapist has struck again.  We’ve got another crime scene.”

 


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