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Elisabeth: Marked

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:~: Thursday, May 24, 2007 :~:


I'm running a "School's Out!" contest over at my personal blog this week. Through Friday evening, I'll be posting excerpts from my current and future releases. Saturday, I'll draw from all commenters for two downloads of What Mattered Most, my current release from Samhain Publishing.

Today, I'll be posting excerpts from my upcoming June 2007 release, Truth and Consequences, here at Romance Worth Killing For. Commenting here also gets you entered into the "School's Out" giveaway.

I'm really excited about the release of this book. Jason and Kathleen are one of my favorite couples. I enjoyed writing their story, and I'm hoping it will strike a chord with readers. Here's the book blurb:

When deceit and desire collide, the results can be deadly . . .

Book One of the Hearts of the South series.

For undercover FBI agent Jason Harding, coming face to face with the grown-up version of his adolescent dreams is a nightmare. Kathleen Palmer sees him as a despicably corrupt small-town law officer and a murder suspect. Trapped in a web of his own making, he must see his mission through to the end and bring down the crooked cops who’ve run Haynes County for decades. To do so, he must betray the only family he’s ever known and fight his growing love for Kathleen, a relationship that could get one, or both of them, killed.

Determined to uncover the truth, Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent Kathleen struggles with her attraction to the one person who’s awakened her since she buried her heart and emotions in her son’s tiny grave. Listening to her heart could destroy all she has left in life – her career and reputation. When the truth about Jason’s identity surfaces, they both face unimaginable consequences: Jason may lose his life and Kathleen the man she loves.


And an excerpt . . .

{The following is unedited}

Jason stared at the early model Grand Wagoneer in his driveway. He pulled to one side, steering with one hand while the other unsnapped his holster. No one had any business being on this isolated piece of dirt, and this presence had alarm burning in his chest.

They knew who he was. It was all over.

Heck, if they knew who he was, he was all over.

Images burned in his brain – the two dead boys, the cold, lifeless expression in Jim Ed’s eyes, blood splattered on a cracked windshield.

Stiffening his spine, Jason pushed the truck door open. He’d never been a coward, and he wouldn’t start now. Hand on his gun, he kept the cab of the truck between him and the Wagoneer, watching. The driver’s door opened, he tensed, and the interior light flashed over fiery hair. Fiery, just-tumbled-out-of-bed hair.

For a moment, he relaxed, the awful fear of discovery and retaliation subsiding under a wave of relief. A different fear flooded into the wake. He shot a glance at the trailer where he’d grown up, the only piece of dirt he could say he owned, and compared it to what Kathleen Palmer was accustomed to – her father’s acres of hunting land, the big white house she’d grown up in, with its Grecian columns, huge crystal pendant light on the porch and widow’s walk. The old inadequacies rushed in on him, waves on a shore.

He grabbed on to his old life preservers, the anger and resentment, and walked around the front of the truck to confront her. Her hair framed her face in a halo of wispy fire. The dim light made it difficult to tell if her eyes were brown or black, but he knew they were a warm brown dappled with gold. God, even her eyes were rich.

His gaze followed hers to the trailer and back to his truck. In those incredible eyes, he was nothing. The ache made him grit his teeth. Thumbs tucked in his gun belt, he slumped in a negligent posture he knew his high school teachers would remember. The poor kid who didn’t give a damn.

“Missed me, did you, Palmer?”

She fixed him with a disdainful look. “I have a few more questions. I’d like some straight answers this time.”

And he’d like her gone. “I’m busy.”

Her mouth tightened. “We can do this here, or I can drag you into Moultrie and make it last all night.”

Oh, my God. The words punched into his gut, mental pictures exploding in his head. Here. Elsewhere. All night long. He watched her, remembering her high school reputation as somewhat of a prude, an innocent who blushed at off-color jokes and never allowed a hand to venture to the hallowed ground beneath her cheerleading skirt. He was willing to use any weapon he had, just to get her out of here. For her safety as well as his.

He eyed her, letting his gaze take a lazy exploration of her body. “Baby, I bet you could, too.”

Awareness dawned in her eyes, and her mouth thinned to a nonexistent line. “Harding-”

“Call me Jason.” He poured all the bedroom innuendo he could into the words. Need stabbed his gut. What would his name sound like on her lips?

Furious color played over her cheeks, visible even in the bluish vapor light. Her long indrawn breath was audible, and she flipped open that damn notebook again. “You said that you arrived on scene the same time as Investigator Calvert from Chandler County.”

He ignored the question and stepped closer. He was going to make her hate him, and regret stabbed at him. What if he’d met her again in another life? One where he wasn’t a dirt-poor, desperate cop, so desperate he’d cover for a murderer? A life where they were equals, where she could look at him with respect, maybe admiration.

So close her scent of Ivory soap filled his nostrils, he reached out to finger one of those wild wisps. “If you make it last all night, do I get to call you Kathleen? Or is it always Agent Palmer?”

Hands shaking, she closed the notebook and took a step back, colliding with the Wagoneer. “You don’t get to call me anything.”

“Don’t you know this county’s dangerous?” He leaned closer, his breath mingling with hers. Her eyes dilated, and he felt her pull her stomach muscles inward. Avoiding contact with him. Afraid of contamination. Bitterness gnawed at him again.

“I’m not afraid of you.” Her voice was soft, steady.

Jason rested both hands on the hood, trapping her between his body and her SUV. Her body heat seared him, but the sensation brought no pleasure – just a nauseating regret that she’d never let him touch her, not willingly. He forced a smile, using Jim Ed’s for a pattern. For a moment, he was afraid he really would throw up.

“Well, sugar, maybe you should be.” He held her prisoner for a moment longer. Stepping away, he indicated her truck with a flourish worthy of an Arthurian knight. “Go home, Kathleen. Forget about those boys. Just let it go.”

She didn’t say anything else, but climbed into the Wagoneer and fired the engine. Jason didn’t wait to watch her leave. With the sound of her departure following him, he walked into the trailer that had once been his home.


I'll be back later today with more!



Blogger Joan Swan said...

just-tumbled-out-of-bed hair

I LOVE it. But then, I love your writing, period.

7:50 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...


I love Jason.

Great blub, Lin! Can't wait for the release.

8:52 PM  
Blogger Elisa said...

Awesome excerpt, Linda. And great cover, too. I'm really looking forward to the release.

10:32 AM  
Blogger Linda Winfree said...

Thanks, y'all! I love Jason, too, E! He's one of my favorites.

Elisa, I'm dying to see this book out.

And J, you're too sweet.

12:13 PM  

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