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Friday, July 10, 2015

Dangerous Promise by Gwendolyn Cease



Blurb


A frazzled mother of two, Kate Harris does the best she can trying to balance life, but it’s not easy. Her daughters are her focus, but sometimes she wishes there was more. The more being the hottest man she’d ever danced with while out at a club. But that was the club and has nothing to do with real life.

Grimm is an Ancient and a Hunter. His normal prey is blood-addicted vampires, but now he’s got a new target. He met her one time on a dance floor and can't get her out of his mind.

When Kate and Grimm meet again, he promises himself he won't let her go. She doesn’t understand why someone as handsome as him wants to hook up with her. But when their two worlds collide, he’s the only thing standing between her, her children and darkness.


Excerpt

Kate Harris bustled around her small kitchen, cleaning up the dinner dishes. The evening news played low on the television in the living room as the last bit of winter sunlight disappeared. The floodlights she’d installed all around the house clicked on as they sensed the approaching darkness. The house, locked and fully alarmed, was once again ready for night.

None of the occupants looked forward to the night. In fact, each one dreaded the coming of the dark. The dark brought nightmares and terrors and memories. Kate forced her mind away from the sadness and toward the two girls who sat at the kitchen table. Both of them worked on their homework and, outwardly, seemed content. In fact, everyone who knew them in this new city would consider them a typical family—single mom, with two nice young kids, but no dad in the picture. Sometimes, Kate really wanted that to be true. It would have been so much easier than the truth.

The truth was ugly and scary. The truth required Kate to purchase and learn to use a handgun, something she’d never imagined doing before. But murder did that—drove the survivors to do whatever they had to do to feel safe and bring order to a chaotic situation.

Kate closed a cabinet and glanced over at her nieces—now her daughters, since her sister’s murder nearly two years before. Of course, they’d really been hers from birth. Janie had never been able to take care of them. Hell, she could barely take care of herself. Her sister.

Dammit, Janie, if only you hadn’t been so flighty and careless and…

She stopped the thoughts. Too late, it was too late. Janie was dead. Murdered by someone who was still out there. The cops had investigated as far as they could, but then nothing. No leads. No one coming forward. Silence. Possible robbery? Possible drug deal gone wrong? Lovers’ fight? They had looked at every angle, but all they’d found were dead ends.

Kate had done everything she could. She’d asked questions and reconnected with people she’d rather forget in an attempt to help the police. Hell, she’d even pointed the police in the direction of the group her sister had joined. Kate refused to call them a church, as Janie had. More like a cult. The cops had questioned them, but, as with every other lead, nothing. Kate knew there was more going on with the group. Her sister had been cagey when discussing what went on at services, though had gone on and on about the preacher who headed the group. How magnetic he was and how he was filled with a secret knowledge he was going to share with her. But the whole time she’d talked, Kate had known there was something wrong. Finally, Janie had asked if she could take the girls with her.

“Maybe for a week,” she’d said. “I’m going to be allowed to move to the next level within the church and I want the girls to go. To see. It’ll be good for them.”

“No, I’m sorry,” Kate said. “You can’t take the girls.”

“They’re my kids!” Janie had yelled, stomping her foot.

“Yes, and I have custody because you can’t take care of them. I’m sorry, Janie, but no. In fact, why don’t you stay with us? Don’t go. Stay here with me and the girls. We’ll relax and go to the movies. It’ll be fun.”

But this time, this last time, Janie had shaken her head. “No, you don’t understand. The church and preacher are helping me. Things are going to be so much better. But I need the girls to go with me.”

Something in her sister’s voice or maybe her face had sent a shiver down Kate’s spine. There was something not quite right. Janie never wanted the girls. She treated them like pretty dolls to be picked up and played with when she could spare the time. Normally, Kate would cheer if her sister wanted to come by and spend time with them, but not this time.

The argument has escalated until Kate had forced her sister from the house. Screaming obscenities and threats, Janie had driven away. That was the last occasion Kate had seen her sister alive. Whatever happened, she hadn’t moved to any next level. Whatever the next level was had gotten her killed. Kate was sure of it. But she hadn’t had the time or energy to put into her sister’s investigation. The girls needed her. Abby had been six and Olivia only four at the time of Janie’s death. The girls’ father had left before Olivia’s birth so there had been no one else.

“I’m done,” Olivia announced, pulling Kate away from her thoughts. “Check me.”

Kate moved over to study the sheet of math problems. “Perfect.”

“Yay for me.” Olivia popped up out of her chair and stuffed the sheet into her Monster High backpack. “Can I listen to my song on the stereo? Please?”

“One time, then you take a bath.”

Kate followed Olivia into the living room and flicked off the television. She turned the stereo on and pushed the play button for the CD. Believe by Cher thumped through the speakers, and the little girl began leaping around the living room, dancing her heart out. Dark hair flopped about as she tossed her head and waved her arms.

Kate backed up and smiled as Olivia pranced and primped through the room to the music. The kid loved Cher and, if it was possible, Kate was sure within her small body lurked the heart of a gay man. When the song ended, Olivia clapped enthusiastically.

“I think I’m going to dance to this for the school talent competition,” Olivia told Kate excitedly. “We need to come up with an outfit for me to wear.”

“You got it.” Kate picked up the little girl and swung her around. “Tomorrow. Right now it’s bath time and then a story before bed.”

“You’re the best, Momma,” Olivia declared, hugging her.

Kate hugged her tight as tears stung her eyes. Olivia had been so little when Janie had died, she didn’t remember her. Kate had told stories about Janie to the girls, but to Olivia, they were just that, stories. Kate was the only mother Olivia had ever known.

“Can I have bubbles?” Olivia asked as Kate carried her into the bathroom.

“Not tonight, but how about tomorrow since it’s Friday?”

Abby poked her head around the door. “Are we going to the bookstore?”

Kate nodded. “Of course, it’s Friday and we always do the bookstore on Friday.”

“Can we get a book?” Olivia asked.

“Don’t you get books every Friday?” Kate asked as she turned on the water to fill the tub.

Both girls nodded with smiles on their faces. They loved going to the bookstore, and Kate loved taking them. It was something they could do together that made both girls happy, which for Abby had taken quite a while. Kate hated having to tell the little girl that her mother wasn’t coming home—it had devastated her. Now, two years later, Abby was finally coming out of her shell and smiling more. If it took going to the bookstore every Friday night, Kate was more than willing to do it. She wanted her niece safe and happy.

“Can we have fun coffee?” Abby asked.

“You can have drinks, but I think we’ll save the coffee until it can’t stunt your growth,” Kate teased.

After baths and stories and more chattering about the next afternoon’s bookstore trip, both girls climbed into bed. Kate tucked and kissed, then did what she always did. She made another sweep of the house, checking to make sure everything was locked up tight and the alarms were set. Once completed, she could finally head to the small desk set up in her bedroom and work. She hadn’t always worked from home or worked during the night, but it had become necessary after the girls had come to live with her.

No, she thought, that was wrong. It wasn’t the girls who had brought about the night time hours. Right after Janie’s death, the cult she had run with had actually contacted Kate about having the girls live with them. The person who’d called had stated that it was what Janie would have wanted. There had then been harassing phone calls and a number of attempted break-ins. She’d gotten a lawyer and contacted the police, but the unease had grown until Kate had packed them all up and moved far away.

She didn’t know what they wanted with the girls. Hell, she hadn’t asked. But Kate didn’t want any of them near her girls. So they’d moved and moved again. After two years, they were settled, but she was wary. If those people had truly murdered Janie, she was not going to let her guard down. Ever. Hence, the state-of-the-art alarm system in the house, and the gun she kept close at hand. She also rarely went out without the girls. She knew that no one would or could protect them as well as she could.

Though, Kate believed, her friend Tori could definitely be trusted. She and Tori had met in high school and became fast friends. They’d attended college together and had roomed all four years so, when it became necessary to find somewhere else to live, the other woman had asked her to come. Kate couldn’t think of a reason not to. She liked the idea of moving to a place where she knew someone, so she and the girls had packed up. Now, they had a fairly normal life, and Kate was even going out occasionally. Tori’s brother, Deacon, stayed with the girls during the brief time they were out. The last time was to the new club where she’d met Grimm or, as Tori called him, Hotness-on-a-Stick. And wow was Tori right—he was hot. But she hadn’t seen him again, not that she’d expected to. A man who looked like that had to have a hundred women hanging off him. He wouldn’t remember her again if he tripped over her. But damn, he certainly inspired some steamy fantasies.

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