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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

TARGETED

It’s been slow getting ‘Targeted’ edited. It’s the third book in the series about the Hawkins brothers and I really want it to be a book you’ll love. I’m so close. I’ve finished editing it twice and have sent it to my proof reader. Hopefully it will be back by the end of the month. Then I’ll need to edit it with the corrections and get it formatted. So I’m looking at the end of October.

In the meantime I thought I’d give you a little taste of it. Here’s an excerpt from ‘Targeted’.
Despite the excellent suspension system in the Mercedes SUV Janna had rented at the Boise airport the vehicle bounced like a tennis ball on the washboard that passed for a road into Duster. It must have been a bad winter and the county hadn’t the money for repairs. You’d think they’d at least get a grader out here so the road was drivable. Maybe it wasn’t a main highway but there was a moderate amount of traffic on it. Wasn’t the county obligated to maintain the road?
Granite cliffs beside the road displayed weathered and wrinkled faces, with deep craggy crevices caused by years of erosion. The occasional bush or pine tree clung to life on the side of the rock, their roots anchored in a small crack. Janna couldn’t see the top of the mountain. Its peak was probably lost in the deep blue sky.
The other side of the road sloped into flatter ground with large boulders scattered over the land, probably left by the retreating ice age. In the distance she could see the prairie, with its tall grass and tumbleweeds. An occasional burst of rosy-pink from early desert shooting stars, peeked out from the dry ground, brightened the landscape.
Overhead the sun appeared to be a small white ball, overpowered by the clear, azure blue sky that stretched for miles in all directions. You never got a sky like this is Seattle. This was special to Montana.
Janna realized how much she’d missed the rugged beauty of the country--not that she’d ever want to live out here in the desolation. Winters were the worst.
Ping!
The vehicle listed to the left. Janna grabbed the steering wheel and pulled hard to the right.
She heard another ping. What the hell?
Someone had shot her back tire. Janna gripped the wheel to keep the vehicle on the road. She debated whether to try and outrun the shooter, wherever he was, or find cover. The windshield shattered as a third bullet entered the passenger side.
So much for out-running the shooter.
She scanned the area and spotted an outcropping of rocks a few feet ahead on her left. She aimed the vehicle in that direction.
Two more shots and both the back tires went down.
Definitely find cover.
The vehicle reached the rocks and Janna ducked low behind the steering wheel. When the car stopped, she grabbed the keys from the ignition and her purse and dove out the door. Bullets bounced off the rocks behind her as she scrambled for cover.
Whoever it was serous. Anyone of the shots could have hit her.
Janna dropped to the ground, her back to the rock and curled up as tightly as possible. Her heart pounded in her ears; her breathing came in gasps. This was getting to be a habit, first someone tried to kill her in Seattle and now out in this god-forsaken country.
What the hell was going on? Why were they shooting at her? Was it the same person who had shot at her in Seattle? Who even knew she was coming here? Maybe it was someone just trying to rob a stranger.
Yeah right, be honest, Janna, does this road look like many strangers came this way? And if they did, would they have a lot to steal? And this person had selected a spot in the rocks where he would have a good shot at her vehicle. Coincidence? Not damn likely.
At least she’d worn boots and jeans--even if they were designer jeans. Now they were very dirty and so was her red sweater and jean jacket.
Another shot hit the rock behind her. She rolled over on to her stomach, shaded her eyes and squinted into the sun. He must be up on the cliffs straight ahead of her. She wasn’t sure, but she thought she might have glimpsed a light, maybe a reflection from a gun off his scope.
Terrific! Now what? Her gun was in her purse. She could fire back, but that would be a waste of bullets at this distance.
She yanked out her cell and punched in 911.
Damn--no reception.
A pounding pulsed through the ground and came closer. Janna could feel the vibrations. It felt like horses. She glanced around, without raising her head, to see what was coming.
Suddenly there was a hand in front of her face.
“Grab it and jump on.”
The deep, rumbling voice was not asking. It was an order.
Janna grabbed the strong hand. In one smooth motion she swung up behind a man on his horse. Seconds later she had her hands wrapped around his well developed, muscular chest as the big chestnut thundered across the ground out of the bullets’ range.
 The man wore a leather jacket over a sweater. Her hands slid under the jacket for better grip and met sinewy muscles under the sweater. She laid her head against his back and a long braid. She took a breath in, inhaling the rich scent of leather, trying to calm her racing heart rate.
She glanced behind her. The cliffs were fading into the distance. The muscles of his well-developed shoulders bunched and relaxed as he led the horse at a gallop across the field. She felt safe for some unfathomable reason.
He had a familiar woodsy scent that made her think of sex under pine trees, not that she’d ever made love there. In fact her sex life was pretty negligible these days.
They’d been riding for several minutes when Janna leaned forward. “You can put me down any place. I can manage now.”
“Really? And just what are you going to do out here, miles from town, by yourself, with someone shooting at you?”
The voice was deep, but soft, and rolled over her like warmed brandy. It triggered something in the back of her memory. The earthy scent, the sinewy body, the voice; she knew this person who had ridden up out of nowhere to save her.
“I have my cell. I’ve already called 911,” she snapped.
“And did you get an answer?”
Janna yanked her cell phone up where she could see the screen again and re-tapped in 911. And there was that famous phrase--No Service.
There was a deep chuckle. “That’s what I thought. There’s no service in this area. The mountains block it.”
“You can still put me down. I can manage. Thank you for the ride.”
“I don’t think so. Right now I’m heading up to the area where the shots came from to see if we can find any clues as to who might want you dead. Do you have any idea why they were shooting at you?”
Janna shook her head. “No. No one even knows I’m here.”
“Somebody does. After we find the shooter’s spot I’ll take you into town.”
“We’re going back?”
“The person will be long gone by now. Once you were out of his range he would have taken off. I’d like to see if we can find anything that might identify the person.”
“And why he was shooting at me. Okay, fine, but then I need to find a ride into town.”
“I’ll get you there. By the way, you still ride very well.”
“Thanks, but clutching on to you doesn’t really count as riding.”
That deep rumble again, “Maybe not, but you still sit a horse well.”
She felt her body responding to him, even after all these years. Damn that man.
 “I appreciate you getting me out of the shooter’s range. Now, put me down. Leave me here. I don’t want to be on the same horse with you.”
“Ahh, I see you do remember me. Sorry. Hang on, we’re going up.”
His body had matured, his voice had deepened. They had both aged, but as her hands moved across his chest she remembered the first time she had leaned against him, and slipped her fingers over his smooth, muscular chest. She shut off the memories. She wasn’t going to go there. She had moved on from the past.
Suddenly the horse stopped and he slid off. He turned toward her and held out his hand. She looked down into those rich, dark brown eyes. Her stomach gave her a knock out punch and spasmed. Unconsciously she slid her hand across her abdomen to hold it together. A lump began forming in her throat and continued to grow. Her mouth felt like she’d been sucking lemons. Her pulse pounded in her ears.
She couldn’t think of a thing to say and couldn’t have said anything even if something had come to mind. Kye Hawkins, the one man she never wanted to see again, had just rescued her.
“It’s good to see you, Janna.” He pulled her off the horse and looked down at her. The corners of his mouth twitched.
“Thanks. Now what are we doing here?”  She managed to get out the question, without squeaking.
“The same old Janna, always trying to take charge. This was where the shooter was waiting for you. You can see the footprints. He was on a bike, the tire impressions are over here.” Kye walked over and bent to observe the tracks more closely.
“The same old Kye, always taking charge and giving orders.”  Janna snarled.
Sweat dripped down Janna’s back. She stared at his well-muscled butt. He’d improved with age. His shoulders were wider. He was more solid. His butt, even encased in jeans, was round and taunt. He drew her like a magnet. She couldn’t keep her eyes off him. With great effort she dragged her gaze away from his magnificent body and forced her feet to move to a spot behind a large rock.
From that spot she could see her black Mercedes. It listed to one side, a few feet from an outcropping of rocks. Three tires were flat.
     Her visibility reached about half a mile down the road. He’d had a clear shot from here. She noticed there were several cigarette butts on the ground. He’d been smoking while he waited for her. From the number of butts he’d been there at least an hour and probably longer. He also rolled his own. She picked up one of the butts and wrapped it in a tissue.

“What are you going to do with that?”
"I was going to give it to the Sheriff. Duster still has a Sheriff doesn’t it?”

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