Thursday, March 24, 2011

Please Welcome Cynthia Justlin and her wonderful book

Smoke wafted through the air, tinted pink and yellow by the flashing neon lights. Two scantily clad women undulated up on the bar’s silver stage. Grace scowled, sliding deeper into the velvet-lined booth.

“So, tell us a bit about why you’re both here.” The interviewer from WAZT had to shout over the unrelenting bass emanating from the Cheshire’s loudspeakers.

“He picked this dive,” Grace said, hitching her thumb in Keith’s direction.

Keith’s jaw tightened. He tugged the baseball cap further down on his head. “This is strictly off the record, right? No one can know I’m here.”

“This isn’t about you,” Grace slung back. Her son’s life was on the line, and he was worried about his own neck?

“If I’m locked up somewhere, how is that going to help your son?”

A bright strobe light cut across his features, illuminating the gold flecks in his hazel eyes as he stared at her. Something hot and tight lodged in Grace’s chest. Not now. Even at his cruelest, Keith had always had the power to reduce her to a puddle of want.

She straightened, turning her focus back on the woman from WAZT and ignoring the lingering heat of Keith’s gaze. “Ryker and his dad went missing two days ago.” Tears pricked her eyes and she took a moment to smooth a hand down her son’s photograph. God, she missed him. She couldn’t shake loose her fears. “I--I think they’re in danger.”

“What makes you believe that?” The interviewer leaned in, adjusting her digital recorder as if she was worried she might miss a juicy piece of information.

“Because Keith knows more than he’s telling.” There. She’d said it. Who cares if Keith got mad at her? Keeping the information to himself could get her son killed, but it was just like him to think of his own agenda first.

Keith could’ve sworn that Grace was deliberately trying to bait him. “Look, we’re not dealing with your average, every day criminal here.”

There were very few people he trusted, and unfortunately for her, she wasn’t one of them. He was about to deliver that snide bit of news when he caught sight of her, awash in the tinted glow of neon lights. She was staring at the picture of her son as if she could will him back to her. The tears sparkling on her lower lashes kicked him in the gut. This was killing her.

“I can’t risk going on record with what I know. If word gets out--this man won’t hesitate to retaliate.” He reached out a hand and gently nudged Grace until she looked up at him. “I won’t put your son in the line of fire.”

He could tell he’d surprised her by the way her breath hitched and her green eyes grew wider. Damn, she was pretty when she looked at him with her heart in her eyes. A woman like her could get a man like him in all sorts of trouble. He dropped his hand from her smooth jaw and turned to the anchor from WAZT in an effort to break all connection to Grace. It didn’t help. He still wanted her. Still wanted to mean something to her.

The Cheshire’s front doors slammed opened, two men brandishing submachine guns stepped inside the bar. Bullets peppered the stereo and cut the music to a screeching halt. Keith threw himself at Grace and dragged her under the table. The smell of stale alcohol assaulted his nostrils. He pressed his face to Grace’s neck, inhaling the soft cinnamon vanilla scent on her skin instead. She trembled beneath him.

The interviewer ducked beneath the table. “What the hell is this?”

He pressed his mouth against Grace’s ear, ignoring the other woman’s shrill voice. “We’ll find your son, Gracie. You have my word, I won’t stop until he’s safe.”

But first he had to find a way to get them out of the Cheshire alive...

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