About the Book
Author: Ava Parker
Genre: Romantic Suspense
When her cover is blown and her partner nearly killed, Miami vice squad officer Lucy Walker quits the force, packs her bags and drives to her childhood home in Graceful Bay, South Carolina. Seeking peace and quiet in the big beach house she inherited years earlier, Lucy is greeted by her best friend, Caroline Lamont, who is having some troubles of her own.
After the savagely beaten body of a young man is discovered not far from Lucy’s home, Caroline finally starts sharing her suspicions about her husband, Daniel. As Caroline continues to uncover her husband’s duplicity, Lucy begins to wonder whether she has escaped the Miami drug cartels after all. With the help of the county sheriff and Gabriel Black, the handsome new man in town, Lucy must save her best friend from a group of professional gangsters and a vengeful husband.
Ava Parker fell in love with the mid-Atlantic Coast during an off-season vacation to the barrier islands. While spending her days walking in the surf and sand and under the Spanish moss, she conceived her first page-turning thriller, Dangerous Vows. A devotee of love stories, murder mysteries and popcorn for dinner, she has lived and traveled all over the world, always with a book in hand.
Ava grew up in the Midwest, moving to the East Coast and then to Europe for many years before returning to the States. She cooks but doesn’t clean, drinks a lot of peppermint tea and tries on a lot of shoes. In addition to seeing the world, falling in and out of love and spoiling her cats, she is busy writing her second romantic thriller, due out in September of 2015.
Tuesday morning Sheriff Tom Grier stood on the South Carolina shore, adjusting his hat against the sudden rain, and thinking to himself that now there were two things to make this day extraordinary: a morning sun shower, and a dead body.
“Damn,” he said aloud to no one in particular, though both of his deputies startled at the sudden noise. “Get a tarp!” he yelled and the younger of the two ran off to his cruiser to find something to prevent the rain from washing away any evidence.
While the two deputies fashioned a tent over the body, Sheriff Grier called the county coroner’s office and explained that they had a dead man on the beach just outside of Graceful Bay and it looked like foul play. When the man on the other end of the line admonished him not to touch anything, he growled and hung up.
The call had come from a manager at one of the resort hotels along the water. Evidently, a staff member had been sent down to pick up garbage along the beach and had seen the man lying there. At first he’d thought the man was sleeping or passed out. That happened occasionally, partiers crashing on the beach, but when he called out to him and finally walked up and gave him a little shake, he realized that the man’s body was stiff and icy. He ran, hollering like a banshee, according to the manager, back up to the hotel where it had taken the desk manager another few minutes to figure out what he was hollering about.
That same Tuesday morning, a mile down the beach Lucy Walker woke feeling refreshed and motivated. She’d been back home in Graceful Bay for only two days, and yet the peace and quiet of her childhood home was already soothing her nerves and relieving her stress. She felt beautiful and fresh this morning, and she thought again how gray and tired her stay in Miami’s Metropolitan Hospital had made her. Even after she had recovered from her injuries, she spent weeks going from the stale air of the three-star hotel to the rarified air of the hospital to do physical therapy.
Even though different make-up and a return to her natural hair color had changed her appearance significantly from the glossy, highlighted, South Beach bimbo look she had when she was an undercover agent, it was important to remain anonymous in the weeks after her cover was blown. Miami Dade brass just stashed her in a one-room suite with a kitchenette near the hospital.
Even before her hospitalization, the overpopulated beaches and the smog of the city had never felt like the same Atlantic Ocean she’d known as a child. Miami was not a permanent home for her. It was during those endless weeks at Metropolitan Hospital that she had longed for the wet salty air of home and her decision to return to Graceful Bay had been solidified.
Lucy Walker extended her hand and when he took it, she felt a surge of desire so strong it left her gaping for a second.
“Gabriel Black. It’s a pleasure.”
“And this is Baxter, aka Big Cat.” He gestured at the giant orange tabby who acknowledged him with a yawn and something between a meow and a growl. He then licked one paw, looked down the beach and started walking along the stone wall in their direction. About halfway, he stopped short and turned his nose up to catch a scent. “He’s really friendly inside the house, but out here there’s too much going on to pay attention to people who might pet him.”
“Just this morning I was thinking I should have a cat to keep me company,” Lucy replied with a long look at Baxter.
“I’m sure there’s better company out there for you than a cat.” Lucy turned back to him and the moment lingered as they looked at each other. “In the meantime, Baxter is home most evenings. Eating his kibbles, purring, snoring – hard to tell the difference sometimes – generally just being a cat. He probably wouldn’t mind some extra attention.”
“I’m sure he gets plenty from his owner.” Lucy shivered a little. Standing still the wind was chilly. “I should let you get back to your repairs. It was nice to meet you, Gabriel.”
“You too, Lucy Walker.”
As she walked away, Lucy thought how nice it would be to let Mr. Black warm her up with his big strong arms. She had just about swooned when they shook hands. A sudden urge to turn around gripped her but Lucy controlled herself. I can still at least pretend to play it cool. Besides, she thought, I’ll have to walk past his house again on my way home. Thick, dark mahogany hair, sparkling blue eyes, and a smile that hit her right in her center… Take a deep breath, girl!