"Great steamy read! I really enjoyed this book! The storyline was well developed, the characters were complex and well developed and the story world was detailed. The writing drew me in and I felt immersed in the story! I always enjoy books by this author and would recommend this book!” BookBub Reviewer
"This is a great investigative book with some romance. I loved how it didn’t matter what she had been through already in her life but STILL had a huge heart !! This book will keep you up saying just one more chapter one more... Can two people’s lives come together when they have very hard pasts ? Will he be able to save her in time ?” BookBub Reviewer
"This was a really enjoyable, fast paced read. I found myself always wanting to read one more chapter. And when I got to the end I didn’t want it to be over.” BookBub Reviewer
"I really enjoyed this book. So full of action. Never a dull moment. The characters are very likeable, even though Chris was such a mystery. The hot attraction, the violence, the cute 4 year old daughter all makes for an entertaining read. Then there is the lessons on interpreting handwriting as in Felon's Claw. Loved it!” BookBub Reviewer
Rattlesnake Canyon, Colorado
Chris slid his silver penlight into a pocket as he angled out of the jagged slot of the cave entrance. The hole opened onto a narrow ledge with a one-hundred-meter drop into the canyon below. Tugging in a breath, he willed himself not to look down as he edged along the stone shelf, step by step, toward safety.
His relaxed movements suggested confidence, but his rapid heartbeat and the heat venting from his open collar told a different story. The skinny stone-scattered path terrified even him, a reputed daredevil. He’d almost passed up its exploration, but the risk paid off. He’d found the cave, and now, the diamond was as secure as the Crown Jewels.
Clambering over a waist-high boulder of pink sandstone, he scuffed his patent leather shoes and mumbled a few choice words as he slid from the rock, wishing he’d worn hiking boots instead of footwear from Paris that cost him a small fortune. But how could he have anticipated spending all day searching this desert wilderness for a gem worth several million dollars?
Jumping a gully, he arrived on the dirt trail that had brought him here. Thousands of footfalls may have smoothed the stony path, but not many sightseers were about, the unpredictability of early spring likely putting them off. Chris had seen no one.
He’d scoured these sandstone undulations for over twelve hours, become familiar with them, appreciated them for their unique beauty and potential deadliness. He brushed off his dusty palms and straightened his leather jacket, a smile lifting one corner of his lips. Twelve hours and his mission accomplished.
On the whole, it had been straightforward. Too easy, perhaps. He shook the thought away.
Pelletier was a criminal mastermind, supposedly, but Chris had found him to be an arrogant son of a bitch, whose ego made him talkative when drunk. He’d hinted at the diamond’s location while bragging about his midnight exploits riding ATVs over the arches.
The windblown hollows along Rattlesnake Canyon had long since separated from its sheer face, leaving behind a series of delicate sandstone bridges connected to the canyon wall at one end.
The contents of his stomach curdled just thinking about driving high-speed over the slopes of those arches.
With a head shake, Chris hurried along the trail, eyes sliding across the terrain with a natural caution learned during his six-year term with the French government.
Three years short of thirty, he still felt like a veteran. His line of work soured a man’s soul. He’d seen too much death and felt enough danger to haunt his nights for a lifetime. Was it any surprise the devil inside him showed his face in the nightclubs of Paris and Athens? When the pressure lifted, he’d loosen the reins and resume the bon vivant lifestyle to which he was accustomed.
But that was days away. First, he had to surrender his cargo. His rendezvous was scheduled over a week from now, but with his early success, he could bring this mission to a close.
Rounding a rocky buttress, he arrived at a panoramic vista. Across the canyon, more arches glowed a shade of sunset blush. Chris lingered over the striking view as the sun sank in the sky. He huffed out a breath, wishing he were here as a tourist with a camera slung against his ribs instead of a pistol.
He followed the cliff trail, eyeing the shoulder of sandstone that formed the monument’s first arch. He could see through its aperture to the canyon below.
Crazy — even to him — that anyone would want to test themselves and cross that skinny passage with a hundred-meter drop either side. His ledge had been bad enough.
Choosing a shortcut, he climbed a rocky incline, his long legs making the job easier, but the rougher ground did more damage to his expensive city shoes. Stones came loose and clattered down the hillside.
Too much noise. He hesitated and glanced back. But was there anyone to hear?
Chris kept going. The marked trail reappeared, leading further uphill. He turned the next corner around a jutting rock face and stopped short.
Pelletier’s bull-like figure filled the trail ahead.
Blood drained from Chris’s face. The wind gusted around the bend, sending a prickle scuttling up his spine.
“We meet again, my friend,” Pelletier said in French.
Chris lifted his hands to a neutral position, one of readiness.
“Don’t bother.” Pelletier gestured to the top of the stone butte beside them.
Another man — squat like Pelletier but with more muscle — looked down, gun drawn. He seemed familiar.
Ah, yes, the fellow who’d made small talk with him in a café on the route here.
Chris considered his options.
Use Pelletier as a shield? But the man stood too far away for a safe bet.
Draw his weapon? He’d never beat the trigger pull of the man on the butte.
Run? These were the kind of men who would shoot him in the back.
Wait? And let them make the next move.
They’d guess he’d found the cave even if they hadn’t seen him near it. Would they assume he’d found the diamond?
If not, their plan would be simple. Get rid of him — a tragic fall from Rattlesnake Arches, leaving no evidence of foul play.
The obvious solution, but not the one they chose.
The man from the café curled his lips into a sinister grin and pulled the trigger.
Pain scorched like a firebrand through Chris’s right shoulder. The impact sent him staggering. He fought to keep his wits about him and dropped to one knee.
Pelletier’s square face leered as Chris fumbled, left-handed, for his gun.
A fist slammed into the bullet wound, sending a lightning bolt of fire through his right side and rendering it useless. A hammer fist across the jaw came next. Chris fell sideways onto his hip, his weapon skittering down the trail. Another slam to the jaw, and his temple hit the dirt.
Chris fought the pain. He threw out a leg and caught Pelletier across the back of the calf. The squat man staggered but didn’t topple.
Above them, the man who’d shot him laughed.
Pelletier growled and kicked Chris in the stomach. His body spasmed as oxygen rushed from his lungs. He gripped his abdomen.
“Search him,” Pelletier’s partner shouted from the butte. “Make sure he doesn’t have it. And take his keys.”
Pelletier shoved Chris onto his back. The man was greeted with a glancing blow to the chin as Chris struck out. Pelletier returned the gift, and Chris’s head smacked the ground.
While Pelletier dug through his pockets, Chris lifted his working arm and clenched the man’s shirt. He wanted to tear the smirk off the bastard’s face, but he hadn’t the strength.
Pelletier shoved his hand away and kept searching. “Wallet,” he announced, rifling through it. “Nothing of value.” He tossed the billfold aside, ignoring cash and credit cards. “Phone.” He dropped the cellphone, jammed his heel into its glass face and twisted his foot, obliterating the screen. Then he patted Chris down, hard enough to hurt. “Nothing else.”
“Check his shoes,” his partner called.
Pelletier yanked them off and examined each one. “Nothing.” He chucked the shoes among the rocks.
The man above them growled. “Then he didn’t find it.”
Pelletier glanced at his friend and pointed to Chris’s fallen weapon. “What about his gun?”
“Traceable. Lose it, but keep your fingerprints off.”
Pelletier laughed like the fingerprint comment was pathetic in its obviousness. The weapon clattered down a steep culvert.
“Is he dead yet?” his partner asked.
“Soon,” Pelletier grumbled. “Once he bleeds out.”
“Then let’s go.”
Pelletier offered Chris a parting kick. “Die well, my friend,” he muttered and strode away.