A Face to Die For by Andrea Crane Blog Tour and Excerpt

A Face to Die For

by Andrea Kane

on Tour September 18th – October 20th, 2017

Novel Reaction is excited to be part of Andrea Crane’s blog tour for A Face to Die For, a fantastic mystery that received a 5 star review from us. You can read our review here.

Synopsis:

A Face to Die For by Andrea Kane

Urban legend says that everyone has a double, or exact look-alike. Would you search for yours? And if you found them, would you risk your life for theirs?

When a chance encounter outside the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan results in mistaken identity, wedding planner Gia Russo is curious to find the person whose cell phone picture has been shown her—veterinarian Dr. Danielle Murano, her exact look-alike. A Facebook private message blossoms into a budding, long-distance friendship, and the two women agree to meet in New York and see the truth for their own eyes.

Shocked at the sight of one another, they quickly bond over drinks, childhood pictures and an uncanny feeling that they share more than just a visual resemblance. Together they decide to end the speculation and undergo DNA testing for siblingship. But when the tests confirm they’re identical twins, more questions are raised than answered.

And with good reason. The same mysterious forces that separated the sisters years ago are still at large, frantic to keep the two women apart. Their attempts to do so become more violent once it becomes clear that the two sisters have found each other. But when the danger escalates and the sisters fear for their lives, Gia turns to a former client of her wedding planning company, Marc Devereraux of Forensic Instincts, for help.

Despite being embroiled in another case, Forensic Instincts agrees to help Gia and Danielle discover who has been threatening them. And when Forensic Instincts discovers that this case is linked to the [Mafia, Organized Crime], they must dig up skeletons better left buried, and get at the frightening truth without destroying the sisters and the families they have grown to love.

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thriller
Published by: Bonnie Meadow Publishing LLC
Publication Date: September 19, 2017
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 1682320103 (ISBN13: 9781682320105)
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

Prologue

Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York
March 1990

Anthony slid behind the wheel of his Ford Taurus and started it up, cranking up the heat the instant the engine turned over. It was friggin’ freezing outside. Even in the five minutes it had taken him to walk the babysitter to her front door, the temperature outside felt like it had dropped ten degrees, and his car was an icebox.

Shivering, he zipped his parka up as far as it would go and gripped the steering wheel, maneuvering the car away from the curb. He’d finally shared an evening out with his wife. It should have eased the knot in his gut. After all, it had been the first time that he and Carla had left their infants with a sitter since the babies had been born a month ago. And Judy was the perfect babysitter—a good girl from a good family, one who studied rather than doing drugs and screwing horny guys.

Still, dinner had been strained.

Anthony had only picked at his manicotti, his favorite dish at Raimo’s. His mind was far away, and acid kept building up in his stomach.

Carla couldn’t stop worrying and talking about the babies. She’d checked her watch a dozen times, intermittently giving Anthony puzzled looks and asking if he was okay.

Each time she asked, he’d assure her that he was fine, just exhausted from work and midnight feedings.
As if to contradict his words, some new waiter had dropped a tray of dishes on the floor, and Anthony had nearly jumped out of his skin at the crash.

Carla rose, asking him to order her another drink and to get one for himself to calm his nerves. Giving in to her new-mother concerns, she went to the pay phone in the back to call Judy for an update. So far, so good, Judy had reported. But that didn’t totally erase Carla’s fretting. She tried her best to be bright and chatty, but the truth was that, as this point, she was ready to go. She’d fiddled with her napkin and sipped at her drink, making small talk and glancing at the door.

Getting the hell out of there had worked for Anthony. He was more than ready to be home with his family and not out in the open. He’d use his fatigue as an excuse. He had to continue keeping the inevitable from Carla, until he had no choice but to tell her. He’d soften the blow as best he could. But the important thing was that his family would be protected at all costs.

Now, the heat in his car roared to life, warming his body but doing nothing to extinguish his inner chill. He knew the rules. No transgression went unpunished.

Why the hell had he been so preoccupied with new fatherhood that he’d forgotten to make his collections from the designated list of construction foremen these past two weeks? That in itself was a huge black mark against him—one he’d be punished for. But the outcome of his stupidity opened the door to a far more lethal punishment. Someone else had been sent to handle his route, and his money. They would have collected and turned over twice the amount he’d been handing over. And that meant he’d better be able to explain the discrepancy—assuming he’d even be asked before he was killed.

Please God, let him have that chance. He was just on the verge of buying that gas station he’d been single-mindedly building his bank account for, just about to provide for his family’s future.

And now this.

With shaking hands, Anthony switched on the radio, gritting his teeth as Madonna’s voice blasted off the windows, followed by Michael Jackson’s. He turned the dial until finally the soothing tones of Frank Sinatra’s voice filled the car. Sinatra. Perfect. The Chairman of the Board’s crooning was just the right medicine to ease his clawing anxiety.

He reached his street and turned down the line of small brick row houses, all identical in their flat lines, gated fronts, and tiny gardens. There was a certain comfort and peace about the sameness of it all; it made it feel like a neighborhood.

Would he ever feel that sense of comfort and peace again?

He pulled into his narrow driveway and spotted Carla standing at the front door with a broad smile, giving him a thumbs-up. That meant the infants had come through their first babysitting experience with flying colors.

He forced himself to smile back, but even as he did, his gaze swept the area around the house to see if he was alone. It appeared so. Quickly, he turned off the car and then made the frigid dash to his house.

He couldn’t shut and lock the door behind him fast enough.

The soothing warmth from the heating system enveloped him when he stepped inside. Comfort in yet another form. He was home. Carla and the babies were safe. And for the moment, so was he.

With a wave of relief—however temporary—he let the tension in his body ease. He shrugged out of his jacket and hung it on the coatrack.

“You look happy,” he teased Carla. “What’s the final report?”

Carla’s eyes twinkled. “They were perfect. Judy said they’d only woken up once for their bottles and a diaper change. Now they’re sleeping like little angels.”

“Good.” Anthony looped an arm around his wife’s shoulders and led her toward the living room. “How about a nightcap before bed—to celebrate the success of our first night out?”

“That sounds wonderful.” Carla walked beside him, making a left into their comfortable living room.

They’d barely taken half a dozen steps when a tall masked man dressed in black rose from behind the large armchair, his .22 caliber pistol raised.

“Hello, Anthony.”

Anthony knew that voice only too well, and it elicited the chilling knowledge that there was no way out. No threats. Just death. “Welcome home.”

The man’s finger tightened around the trigger.

“No!” Carla screamed.

She threw herself in front of her husband just as the pistol fired.

The bullet pierced her skull, and with a shattering cry, she crumpled to the floor.

“Carla… no… Carla!” Anthony shouted. He dropped to his knees beside his wife’s lifeless body, grabbing her into his arms and openly weeping. “God forgive me. Oh, God forgive me.”

He looked up in dazed anguish, just as a second shot was fired.

The bullet struck Anthony between the eyes. His head jerked backward, and he fell over his wife, dead.
Upstairs, the babies started to cry.

The gunman shoved his pistol back in his waistband. He knew the mob code like he knew his own name. No women. No children. Omertà.

A woman lay dead before him, the taunting evidence of a fuckup.

He took the steps two at a time.

Tucked in their cribs, the babies were still crying as their parents’ killer entered the nursery and hovered over them.

Not even the nightlight could eradicate the darkness.

***

Excerpt from A Face to Die For by Andrea Kane. Copyright © 2017 by Andrea Kane. Reproduced with permission from Bonnie Meadow Publishing LLC. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Andrea Kane

Andrea Kane is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-eight novels, including fourteen psychological thrillers and fourteen historical romantic suspense titles. With her signature style, Kane creates unforgettable characters and confronts them with life-threatening danger. As a master of suspense, she weaves them into exciting, carefully-researched stories, pushing them to the edge—and keeping her readers up all night.

Kane’s first contemporary suspense thriller, Run for Your Life, became an instant New York Times bestseller. She followed with a string of bestselling psychological thrillers including No Way Out, Twisted, and Drawn in Blood.

Her latest storytelling triumph, A Face To Die For, extends the Forensic Instincts legacy where a dynamic, eclectic team of maverick investigators continue to solve seemingly impossible cases while walking a fine line between assisting and enraging law enforcement. The first showcase of their talents came with the New York Times bestseller, The Girl Who Disappeared Twice, followed by The Line Between Here and Gone, The Stranger You Know, The Silence that Speaks and The Murder That Never Was.

Kane’s beloved historical romantic suspense novels include My Heart’s Desire, Samantha, The Last Duke, and Wishes in the Wind.

With a worldwide following of passionate readers, her books have been published in more than twenty languages.

Kane lives in New Jersey with her husband and family. She’s an avid crossword puzzle solver and a diehard Yankees fan. Otherwise, she’s either writing or playing with her Pomeranian, Mischief, who does his best to keep her from writing.

Catch Up With Andrea Kane On:
Website 🔗, Goodreads 🔗, Twitter 🔗, & Facebook 🔗!

 

Tour Participants:

Visit the other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!


 

Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Andrea Kane. There will be one (1) winner of an Amazon.com Gift card AND five (5) winners of one (1) eBook edition of A Face to Die For by Andrea Kane! The giveaway begins on September 18th and runs through October 22, 2017.

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A Face to Die For by Andrea Crane Review

In A Face to Die for by Andrea Crane, Anthony and Carla are new parents of one month. After a night out celebrating, they return home and are shot to death. What happened to the babies?

Dr. Danielle Murano is a vet in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She loves practicing and working on animals, and really loves being close to her parents. She is an only child that was adopted as a baby. She has just reconnected with her college sweetheart and is happy with her life.

Gia Russo is a wedding planner at an exclusive company called Shimmering
Weddings. She loves what she does and does it with great finesse. She is very close to her parents and was raised as an only child, after being adopted at birth. Gia is happy with her life and is looking forward to some day opening her own wedding planning company.

The Forensic Instinct group is hired by Gia Russo and Dani Murano to look into
some strange things happening to them since they found out they are twins. They had items stolen from them, and then Gia’s house is set on fire. They need the expertise of the FI group.

Can the FI group save them and uncover the truth before it’s too late? Can Gia and Dani create a relationship after being apart for 27 years?

A Face to Die For was good from the beginning. I had a hard time putting it down. In fact, I was able to read this book in one day! I always enjoy a good mystery and A Face to Die For did not disappoint. I felt like Andrea Kane did an amazing job of keeping me pulled into the story, and giving just enough clues to keep my guessing through the book. I am really interested in her other books in the Forensic Instinct series. A Face to Die For did have the use of the F* word, which I don’t like, but it was clean from any sex. Sex was implied, but not in detail. Lingerie is described in detail for one of the FI’s cases.

Overall, A Face to Die For was a great read and I can’t wait to read more from the Forensic Instinct series.

Forensic Instinct Reading Order

The Girl Who Disappeared Twice

The Line Between Here and Gone

The Stranger You Know

The Silence That Speaks

The Murder that Never Was

A Face to Die For

**I received a copy of this book but was not required to provide a review and it did not impact my review in any way.

A Face to Die For Book Cover A Face to Die For
Andrea Kane
Fiction
Forensic Instincts
September 19, 2017
384
3

In A Face to Die For, New York Times bestselling author Andrea Kane explores the urban legend of the doppelganger, as the readers' favorite team of investigators (Forensic Instincts) find themselves in a conflict of interest between two clients. When one case unexpectedly intersects with the other, the only solution is to find the link between the two and unearth who is pulling the strings and why.

Her Secret by Shelley Shepard Gray Blog Tour and Excerpt

Novel Reaction is excited to showcase Her Secret by Shelley Shepard Gray and provide an excerpt for our readers.

Her Secret

by Shelley Shepard Gray

on Tour April 17 – 28, 2017

Synopsis:

Her Secret by Shelley Shepard Gray

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray begins a new series—The Amish of Hart County—with this suspenseful tale of a young Amish woman who is forced to move to a new town to escape a threatening stalker.

After a stalker went too far, Hannah Hilty and her family had no choice but to leave the bustling Amish community where she grew up. Now she’s getting a fresh start in Hart County, Kentucky…if only she wasn’t too scared to take it. Hannah has become afraid to trust anyone—even Isaac, the friendly Amish man who lives next door. She wonders if she’ll ever return to the trusting, easy-going woman she once was.

For Isaac Troyer, the beautiful girl he teasingly called “The Recluse” confuses him like no other. When he learns of her past, he knows he’s misjudged her. However, he also understands the importance of being grateful for God’s gifts, and wonders if they will ever have anything in common. But as Hannah and Isaac slowly grow closer, they realize that there’s always more to someone than meets the eye.

Just as Hannah is finally settling into her new life, and perhaps finding a new love, more secrets are revealed and tragedy strikes. Now Hannah must decide if she should run again or dare to fight for the future she has found in Hart County.

Book Details:

Genre: Amish Fiction
Published by: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: March 14th 2017
Number of Pages: 272
ISBN: 006246910X (ISBN13: 9780062469106)
Series: The Amish of Hart County #1
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER 2

Someone was coming. After reeling in his line, Isaac Troyer set his pole on the bank next to Spot, his Australian shepherd, and turned in the direction of the noise.

He wasn’t worried about encountering a stranger as much as curious to know who would walk through the woods while managing to disturb every tree branch, twig, and bird in their midst. A silent tracker, this person was not.

Beside him, Spot, named for the spot of black fur ringing his eye, pricked his ears and tilted his head to one side as he, too, listened and watched for their guest to appear.

When they heard a muffled umph, followed by the crack of a branch, Isaac began to grow amused. Their visitor didn’t seem to be faring so well.

He wasn’t surprised. That path was rarely used and notoriously overrun with hollyhocks, poison oak, and ivy. For some reason, wild rosebushes also ran rampant there. Though walking on the old path made for a pretty journey, it also was a somewhat dangerous one, too. Those bushes had a lot of thorns. Most everyone he knew chose to walk on the road instead.

He was just wondering if, perhaps, he should brave the thorns and the possibility of rashes to offer his help—when a woman popped out.

The new girl. Hannah Hilty.

Obviously thinking she was completely alone, she stepped out of the shade of the bushes and lifted her face into the sun. She mumbled to herself as she pulled a black sweater off her light-blue short-sleeved dress. Then she turned her right arm this way and that, frowning at what looked like a sizable scrape on it.

He’d been introduced to her at church the first weekend her family had come. His first impression of her had been that she was a pretty thing, with dark-brown hair and hazel-colored eyes. She was fairly tall and willowy, too, and had been blessed with creamy-looking pale skin. But for all of that, she’d looked incredibly wary.

Thinking she was simply shy, he’d tried to be friendly, everyone in his family had. But instead of looking happy to meet him or his siblings, she’d merely stared at him the way a doe might stare at an oncoming car—with a bit of weariness and a great dose of fear.

He left her alone after that.

Every once in a while he’d see her. At church, or at the market with her mother. She always acted kind of odd. She was mostly silent, sometimes hardly even talking to her parents or siblings. Often, when he’d see her family in town shopping, she usually wasn’t with them. When she was, he’d see her following her parents. With them, yet separate. Silently watching her surroundings like she feared she was about to step off a cliff.

So, by his estimation, she was a strange girl. Weird.

And her actions just now? They seemed even odder. Feeling kind of sorry for her, he got to his feet. “Hey!” he called out.

Obviously startled, Hannah turned to him with a jerk, then froze.

Her unusual hazel eyes appeared dilated. She looked scared to death. Rethinking the step forward he’d been about to do, he stayed where he was. Maybe she wasn’t right in the mind? Maybe she was lost and needed help.

Feeling a little worried about her, he held up a hand. “Hey, Hannah. Are you okay?”

But instead of answering him, or even smiling back like a normal person would, she simply stared.

He tried again. “I’m Isaac Troyer.” When no look of recognition flickered in her eyes, he added, “I’m your neighbor. We met at church, soon after you moved in. Remember?”

She clenched her fists but otherwise seemed to be trying hard to regain some self-control. After another second, color bloomed in her cheeks. “I’m Hannah Hilty.”

“Yeah. I know.” Obviously, he’d known it. Hadn’t she heard him say her name? He smiled at her, hoping she’d see the humor in their conversation. It was awfully intense for two neighbors having to reacquaint themselves.
By his reckoning, anyway.

She still didn’t smile back. Actually, she didn’t do much of anything at all, besides gaze kind of blankly at him.

Belatedly, he started wondering if something had happened to her on her walk. “Hey, are you okay? Are you hurt or something?”

Her hand clenched into a fist. “Why do you ask?”

Everything he wanted to say sounded mean and rude. “You just, uh, seem out of breath.” And she was white as a sheet, looked like she’d just seen a monster, and could hardly speak.

Giving her an out, he said, “Are you lost?”

“Nee.”

He was starting to lose patience with her. All he’d wanted to do was sit on the bank with Spot and fish for an hour or two, not enter into some strange conversation with his neighbor girl.

“Okay, then. Well, I was just fishing, so I’m going to go back and do that.”

Just before he turned away, she took a deep breath. Then she spoke. “I’m sorry. I know I’m not making any sense.”

“You’re making sense.” Kind of. “But that said, you don’t got anything to be sorry for. It’s obvious you, too, were looking for a couple of minutes to be by yourself.”

“No, that ain’t it.” After taking another deep breath, she said, “Seeing you took me by surprise. That’s all.”
Isaac wasn’t enough of a jerk to not be aware that seeing a strange man, when you thought you were alone, might be scary to a timid girl like her.

“You took me by surprise, too. I never see anyone out here.”

Some of the muscles in her face and neck relaxed. After another second, she seemed to come to a decision and stepped closer to him. “Is that your dog?”

“Jah. His name is Spot, on account of the circle around his eye.”

“He looks to be a real fine hund.” She smiled.

And what a smile it was. Sweet, lighting up her eyes. Feeling a bit taken by surprise, too, he said, “He’s an Australian shepherd and real nice. Would you like to meet him?”

“Sure.” She smiled again, this time displaying pretty white teeth.

“Spot, come here, boy.”

With a stretch and a groan, Spot stood up, stretched again, then sauntered over. When he got to Isaac’s side, he paused. Isaac ran a hand along his back, then clicked his tongue, a sign for Spot to simply be a dog.

Spot walked right over and rubbed his nose along one of Hannah’s hands.

She giggled softly. “Hello, Spot. Aren’t you a handsome hund?” After she let Spot sniff her hand, she ran it along his soft fur. Spot, as could be expected, closed his eyes and enjoyed the attention.

“Look at that,” Hannah said. “He likes to be petted.”

“He’s friendly.”

“Do you go fishing here much?” she asked hesitantly.

“Not as much as I’d like to. I’m pretty busy. Usually, I’m helping my father on the farm or working in my uncle’s woodworking shop.” Because she seemed interested, he admitted, “I don’t get to sit around and just enjoy the day all that much.”

“And here I came and ruined your peace and quiet.”

“I didn’t say that. You’re fine.”

She didn’t look as if she believed him. Actually, she looked even more agitated. Taking a step backward, she said, “I should probably let you get back to your fishing, then.”

“I don’t care about that. I’d rather talk to you.”

Her eyes widened. “Oh?”

“Jah. I mean, we’re neighbors and all.” When she still looked doubtful, he said, “Besides, everyone is curious about you.”

“I don’t know why. I’m just an Amish girl.”

He thought she was anything but that. “Come on,” he chided. “You know what I’m talking about.”

Looking even more unsure, she shook her head.

“First off, I’ve hardly even seen you around town, only on Sundays when we have church. And even then you never stray from your parents’ side. That’s kind of odd.”

“I’m still getting used to being here in Kentucky,” she said quickly.

“What is there to get used to?” he joked. “We’re just a small community in the middle of cave country.”

To his surprise, she stepped back. “I guess getting used to my new home is taking me a while. But that doesn’t mean anything.”

Aware that he’d hurt her feelings, he realized that he should have really watched his tone. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you. I was just saying that the way you’ve been acting has everyone curious. That’s why people are calling you ‘The Recluse.’ ”

“ ‘The Recluse’?”

“Well, jah. I mean you truly are an Amish woman of mystery,” he said, hoping she’d tease him right back like his older sister would have done.

She did not.

Actually, she looked like she was about to cry, and it was his doing.

When was he ever going to learn to read people better? Actually, he should knock some sense into himself. He’d been a real jerk. “Sorry. I didn’t intend to sound so callous.”

“Well, you certainly did.”

“Ah, you are right. It was a bad joke.”

“I better go.”

Staring at her more closely, he noticed that those pretty hazel eyes of hers looked kind of shimmery, like a whole mess of tears was about to fall. Now he felt worse than bad.“Hey, are you going to be okay getting home? I could walk you back, if you’d like.”

“Danke, nee.”

Reaching out, he grasped Spot by his collar. “I don’t mind at all. It will give us a chance to—”

She cut him off. “I do not want or need your help.” She was staring at him like he was scary. Like he was the type of guy who would do her harm.

That bothered him.

“Look, I already apologized. You don’t need to look at me like I’m going to attack you or something. I’m just trying to be a good neighbor.”

She flinched before visibly collecting herself. “I understand. But like I said, I don’t want your help. I will be fine.”

When he noticed that Spot was also sensing her distress, he tried again even though he knew he should just let her go. “I was done fishing anyway. All I have to do is grab my pole. Then Spot and I could walk with you.”

“What else do I have to say for you to listen to me?” she fairly cried out. “Isaac, I do not want you to walk me anywhere.” She turned and darted away, sliding back into the brush. No doubt about to get covered in more scratches and poison ivy.

Well, she’d finally said his name, and it certainly did sound sweet on her lips.

Too bad she was now certain to avoid him for the rest of her life. He really hoped his mother was never going to hear about how awful he’d just been. She’d be so disappointed.

He was disappointed in himself, and was usually a lot more patient with people. He liked that about himself, too. And this girl? Well, she needed someone, too. But she seemed even afraid of her shadow.

***

Excerpt from Her Secret by Shelley Shepard Gray. Copyright © 2017 by Shelley Shepard Gray. Reproduced with permission from HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

 

Shelley Shepard Gray

 

Author Bio:

Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.

 

Catch Up With Ms. Gray On:
Website , Goodreads , Twitter , & Facebook !

The Blind by Shelley Coriell Blog Tour and Excerpt

The-Blind-Release-Week-BlitzNovel Reaction is excited to show you a sneak peak of Shelley Coriell’s The Blind. I am currently enjoying this intriguing read and am loving having the main character be a bomb expert. Below you will find an excerpt to give you a taste of this new release.

Coriell_The Blind_MMTHE BLIND by Shelley Coriell (July 28, 2015; Forever Mass Market; The Apostles #3)

As part of the FBI’s elite Apostles team, bomb and weapons specialist Evie Jimenez knows playing it safe is not an option. Especially when tracking a serial killer like the Angel Bomber. He calls himself an artist—using women as his canvas and state-of-the-art explosives as his brush. His art lives and breathes . . . and with the flick of a switch . . . dies.

As the clock ticks down to his next strike, Evie faces an altogether different challenge: billionaire philanthropist and art expert Jack Elliott, who’s made it clear he doesn’t care for Evie’s wild-card tactics.

Jack never imagined the instant heat for the Apostles’ defiant weapons expert would explode his cool and cautious world—and make him long to protect this woman. But as Evie and Jack get closer to the killer’s endgame, they will learn that safety and control are all illusions. For their quarry has set his sight on Evie for his final masterpiece…

The Apostles Reading Order

The Broken

The Buried

The Blind

_________________________________

At the door to the roof stairs, Jack dug into his pants pocket and frowned. He patted his suit coat and shirt pockets.

The frown reached his eyes.

“What is it?” Evie asked.

“I left my key card in my other suit coat.”

“No worries.” She dug into her bag and pulled out her key card. “I got us covered.”

He waved it off. “Visitor badges don’t allow roof access.”

She swiped anyway. The dot remained red.

Jack dug out his phone and jabbed at the face. He barked an order, then disconnected the call with another jab. “Security will have a man here in ten minutes.” He jabbed at the phone again. “Let me call my maintenance team and see if they can get here quicker.” His face now sported a full-fledged scowl.

“It’s not that big a deal, and there are worse places to be stranded.” Evie wandered back toward the garden. Back home in Albuquerque, she had a potted cactus garden one of her nephews had made her for her last birthday, the perfect type of garden for her as it could stand the heat, was small, and didn’t need much tending.

“As you keep reminding me, a clock is ticking.” More than a hint of irritation edged his words.

She laughed and sat on a bench near the copper-sheeted fountain. “This isn’t about a clock, Jack. It’s about you making a mistake.”

As expected, he strode to her side. “Excuse me.”

She propped her boots on the rock surrounding the koi pond. “You’re the type of guy who doesn’t make mistakes, and it ticks you off that you left your key card in your other coat.”

He watched the fish slide in and out of light dappling the waters before shaking his head and sitting next to her. “I take it you know this because you’re not the type of gal who makes mistakes.”

A laugh ripped from her chest. “Hardly.”

“There’s no room for error in the bomb business,” he argued.

“True. I don’t cross wires while at work, but I’m no stranger to messes.”

This time he laughed as he reached out and plucked a leaf from her hair. “So you get a little ruffled.” He held up the leaf.

She plucked it from his fingers. “Oh, no. I make full-on mistakes.”

“Like?”

“I think we’ll need more than ten minutes.”

“Like?” He kept that intense gaze on her, a man who commands attention and answers. But she didn’t have anything to hide.

She cupped her hands behind her head. Where to start? “Like having an egg hunt with my nephews last Easter in my mom and dad’s house and not being able to track down all the eggs. For three months the house stank until my mom unearthed the last of the rotten eggs, which six-year-old Tommy had hidden in a vent in the laundry room.”

“I call that unbridled enthusiasm.”

“And there was the time just last month when my teammate Finn Brannigan asserted his motorcycle was faster than my truck. Of course I had to prove him wrong, and I did until a cop pulled me over just as I got the speedometer past one hundred. Definitely a mistake, and for the record, we both got speeding tickets.”

“And that’s team bonding.”

She could see why Jack Elliott was so successful in business. He could put a twist on anything he wished. She unlaced her hands and let them fall in her lap. Did he even remember kissing her fingers? Did he sense the jolt his lips had sent through her entire body? “And then there’s last night.”

A vertical line striped the center of his forehead. “What mistake did you make last night?”

She grabbed his hand and twined her fingers with his. Last night he’d been vulnerable when he admitted his hope, his bone-deep desire, that his sister was still alive. Looking at him over their clasped hands, she said point-blank, “I should have kissed you back.”

Jack’s eyes sparked, and she knew he remembered the touch of his lips to her fingers. His shoulders, so wide they blocked the rising sun behind him, bounced in a soft laugh.

“You’re fearless.”

“Does that bother you?”

“No, not at all. I like strong, courageous, independent women.”

“Is that the type you take to your bed?”

“I . . .” He tilted his head, not a single wave of hair falling out of place. “Yes, it is.”

“That’s good to know.” Because knowns were always so much easier to work with. She was about to open her mouth, when the roof access door opened, a harried security guard rushing at them and apologizing for not getting there sooner.

For a solid five seconds, Jack stared at their clasped hands before turning to the guard. “No worries,” Jack said as he pulled her to her feet and walked her toward the stairs, their fingers still intertwined.