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The Riddle Key by Jane Drager

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  • Antiques expert Marina Cavanaugh is offered an exorbitant salary to appraise a dead man's estate. For a chance at easy money, she accepts the job but soon discovers hidden cameras in the darkest, gloomiest house she's ever seen.

    Jonathan Blandish, who hired her, wants to know why his murdered brother left a series of cryptic messages implicating Marina. Even a layman can see the house contains only rummage-sale junk. But his brother's forty-million-dollar fortune is missing, and Marina is the key.

    From the second they meet, Marina and Jonathan are at odds. He's too bossy and reminds her of her abusive father. She's too independent…and too beautiful for him to ignore. A second murder and Marina’s disappearance raises the danger level. Convinced she was captured for the clues in the riddles, Jonathan races against time to find her before the killer realizes she knows nothing at all.

    Rating: Sensual
    Page Count: 380
    Word Count: 95360
    978-1-5092-1621-5 Paperback
    978-1-5092-1622-2 Digital

    Excerpt

    “What in the world is he talking about?” she complained. “He has to be talking about another Marina Cavanaugh, because I haven’t the slightest idea what this means.” She paced the room, one hand on her hip, the other in her hair.

    Three clues, all pointing to Marina. He pursed his lips. “Which book was it in?”

    She whirled to grab the book and read the binding. “The Art of Marquise Gelt.” She flipped the pages and gasped. “Jon, he’s talking about diamonds! The book’s dated 1907, but look, Roger’s note mentions the cuts.” Extending the book, she showed him the page. “That’s what this list means, diamond cuts!”

    He flew around the desk, took the book, and flipped to a page illustrating the cuts. “Well, I’ll be damned. The money’s in diamonds, and Marina Cavanaugh holds all.” He turned to her and peered.

    In a gesture of surrender, she elevated her hands, palms up. “I do not know anything about your brother or diamonds.”

    Jonathan reread the note. “I’ll show this to Farnsworth.” He looked upward. “The book came from the top shelves, right? Why hide a note so high? Why not in his safe?”

    “Because a safe can be broken into, but no one will take the time to search through all these books.” After waving at the stacks, she tore off her gloves. “I’m part of a dangerous game and have had enough.” She stuffed her gloves into her back pocket. “Find yourself another appraiser.” She left the den.

    His throat tightened. She can’t leave. But she had paled to the color of a white sheet. What the hell can I do? “Marina, wait.” He followed her into the dining room where she tossed her eyeglasses into her briefcase. “I’m sorry I dragged you into this, but you see my dilemma. This is the third time Roger mentioned your name.”

    She stiffened and faced him, her chin high. “You don’t know if Roger means me. You can’t be sure he smuggled diamonds. In truth, you don’t know shit, except two men were murdered, and I refuse to join them.” She slammed her briefcase shut and reached for the handle.

    He laid his open palm on the case to stop her. “Look, our assumptions are all we have. Once Farnsworth sees the note, he can let his men tear apart this house, but I need you to stay.”

    Her chin jutted as she glared. “Why do you need me, Jonathan? From where I stand, I see a man who needs no one.”

    “That’s not true.” He placed his hands on her shoulders. They gave under his touch. “I can’t force you to stay, but I’ve gotten used to having you around. I don’t feel so alone in this mess.”

    One brow arched, she shot him a quick glance. “I don’t think you meant that the way it sounded.”

    He wrapped his arms around her and drew her close. She melted against him in a way that sucked the resistance out of his heart. “I won’t let anything happen to you. I promise.”

    “Men break promises,” she mumbled into his shirt. Her fingers gripped the flap to his breast pocket.

    “I’d like to prove you wrong.”

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The Riddle Key

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