Young mother Chelsea Clark leaves the house for a girls’ night out…and vanishes. Her family knows she would never voluntarily leave her two small children. Her desperate husband—also the prime suspect—hires Morgan to find his wife and prove his innocence.
As a single mother, Morgan sympathizes with Chelsea’s family and is determined to find her. She teams up with private investigator Lance Kruger. But the deeper they dig, the deadlier their investigation gets. When Morgan is stalked by a violent predator, everything—and everyone—she holds dear is in grave danger.
Now, Morgan must track down a deranged criminal to protect her own family…but she won’t need to leave home to find him. She’s his next target.
Lance dug his feet into the grass and sprinted toward the man who held Morgan by the neck. She twitched like a rag doll, rising onto her toes. His vision tunneled down to the two bodies on the stoop. Fury added fuel to his legs.
If Tyler Green hurt her . . .
He watched as Morgan raised one arm over her head and spun in a quarter turn. She windmilled her arm forward and used the inside of her shoulder to break Tyler’s grip on her neck. Then she drove the back of her elbow into his face. His head snapped back. Blood spurted. His hands went to cup his mouth and nose just as Lance hit him with a midbody tackle.
Lance and Tyler rolled in a tangle of limbs on the front lawn, coming to a stop with Lance on top. Flat on his back on the ground, Tyler swung out with a wild and weak punch. Lance swatted the fist out of the way like he would a gnat.
In the end, there wasn’t much of a struggle. Tyler acted tough when he was attacking women but didn’t know what to do with an opponent his own size. He was also bleeding profusely, and Lance wasn’t at all ashamed to enjoy the sight. Tyler was a bully and a coward.
Lance rolled Tyler onto his face, pulled his arms behind him, and planted a knee in the small of his back.
Leaning close to the deadbeat’s head, Lance said, “You wife beaters have one thing in common. You can’t fight someone who fights back.”
“Bitches all stick together,” Tyler spat over his shoulder.
“She kicked your ass.” Lance glanced at Morgan. “Nice shot.”
Morgan was on her knees, one hand on her neck; the other held her cell phone. Lance assumed she was calling 911. After giving the dispatcher the address, she slid the phone back into her pocket, sat on her heels, and wheezed,
“The police are on the way.”
“Get off me,” Tyler screamed into the grass.
Lance shook his head and shifted a little more weight onto his knee. The air—and the fight—went out of Tyler like a deflated tire.
“You just assaulted a lawyer, dumbass,” Lance said. “She’s going to put your sorry butt in jail.”
With Tyler immobilized, Lance turned to Morgan. “Are you all right?”
She rubbed the base of her neck and swallowed. “Yes.”
“You sure handled him.” Lance massaged the achy spot on his thigh where a bullet had ended his police career the year before. The wound had healed as well as it was going to, but his sudden sprint had pulled at the scar tissue.
Morgan climbed to her feet and brushed off her knees.
Five minutes later, a sheriff’s department cruiser arrived, and a deputy got out. Scarlet Falls was a small town. Its modest police force frequently relied on the county sheriff or state police for backup.
She showed the deputy the legal paperwork and summarized the incident.
The deputy handcuffed Tyler and hauled him to his feet. Blood smeared his face and soaked the front of his white T-shirt. The deputy loaded Tyler into the back of the cruiser and took brief statements from Lance and Morgan.
“I’ll need you to sign formal statements.” He nodded at Morgan. “I’ll want pictures of those bruises too, but first I need to take him to the ER.”
The deputy drove off.
Lance was quiet as they went back to the Jeep, but the residue of anger and worry rolled through his body as he steered her to the vehicle and opened the passenger door.
Turning to face him, she placed a palm in the center of his chest. “I’m all right, Lance.”
He lifted her chin and swept her hair aside to examine her neck. “I’m sure you’re hurting worse than you’ll admit.”
Red patches were already forming on her pale skin.
“Bruises heal,” she said.
“That doesn’t mean I like to see them on your lovely neck.” As long as they worked together, Lance was going to want to protect her. Though she was tall, a slim frame and delicate features made her look almost dainty. Even with her attempt to dress casually, she was perfectly feminine, with little glittery earrings and black hair that shone like a shampoo model’s.
But he’d keep his inner guard dog on a tight leash. She was no helpless female, even if her ability to defend herself always took him by surprise.
As did the ache in his heart every time he laid eyes on her. What he felt for her, even in this fragile, early stage of their relationship, floored him. They’d only shared a few—albeit scorching—kisses. But he couldn’t deny his attraction went far beyond the physical.
About the Author
Melinda Leigh abandoned her career in banking to raise her kids and never looked back. She started writing as a hobby and became addicted to creating characters and stories. Since then, she has won numerous writing awards for her paranormal romance and romantic-suspense fiction. Her debut novel, She Can Run, was a number one bestseller in Kindle Romantic Suspense, a 2011 Best Book Finalist (The Romance Reviews), and a nominee for the 2012 International Thriller Award for Best First Book. She is the author of the Midnight Novels, including Midnight Exposure (a finalist for the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense) and Midnight Sacrifice.