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Twenty-three year-old investigative journalist, Andy Miller is armed with her many disguises and creativity to take down the riff-raff of Saint Louis. When her stepbrother is murdered by the mob, Andy soon discovers she’s out of her depth.
Enter Hugh Donaldson who has reasons of his own for discovering the murderer. He’ll use everything in his power to achieve that, including lying to Andy about his past. Dangerous as he is attractive, his martial arts skills and his quirky ways raise Andy’s suspicions.
Although Andy balks at his lies, Hugh’s charms, twenty-inch biceps, and electrifying blue eyes are difficult to resist. Striking out on their own, Hugh and Andy try to outwit each other as they traverse North America tracking down people connected to the case.
As clues disappear and the body count climbs, Andy and Hugh must trust each other and use their combined skills to bring the murderer to justice.
Page Count: 372
Word Count: 89507
He stepped closer, lowering his chin, giving her a deep stare. His eyes had a depth Andy had never seen before. Knowledge and understanding and something else in those pupils.
“Your black belt won’t always save you, you know.”
Andy turned away. He continued to follow her.
For some reason, his persistence irked her. She thrust a hand to his chest. Rock solid. “Don’t. I could take you down if I had to.”
“I’m sure you could.” A cocky grin started at one side of his mouth, before spreading to the other. “Goodnight, then.” With a salute to her, he marched backward. When he rounded the corner out of sight, Andy found her phone and dialed Carla.
“What did the guy want?” Carla asked.
“Are you sure? I think he was into you.”
Andy changed the subject. “What did your mom want?”
Before Carla answered, two men in rubber masks rushed Andy, sliding up beside her, grabbing her phone and purse. She immediately let go of the burner phone, but her tote! Everything she needed was in there.
She was not giving up her bag without a fight.
Spinning, Andy halted, the cold barrel of a gun pressed against her forehead.
The shorter, wider thug with a distorted Daffy Duck mask tucked her bag under his arm. “Thank you,” he said.
The taller of the two, with a sagging exaggerated Bill Clinton head, continued to press her with the gun. Andy almost laughed at his bulbous nose flopping around.
“Let’s go,” the shorter said, his voice muffled through the grinning duck.
Bill Clinton tilted slightly. A distraction was all she needed.
In a flash, she hit Bill, knocking the gun from his grip. As it clattered to the ground, it fired. Shocked, but not thrown, she lifted her leg in a sidekick, knocking Daffy down. Pain shot through her foot and leg. She re-injured her ankle. Not bad, but it needed some rest. She hopped on her uninjured foot to retrieve her bag from the fallen Daffy, kicking him once more for good measure.
Breathing deep, she swallowed her pain as Bill Clinton snatched at her bag again, knocking her off balance. Holding his shoulders, Andy balanced on her good foot, kicked him in the crouch with the pained one, then kneed him in the chest, finally finishing by stomping on his insole.
Just when Daffy had roused, ready to help Bill Clinton, the sound of footfalls echoed behind her. Hugh appeared, sizing up the situation. Though he must have run half a block, he wasn’t even winded.
After elbowing the former president, she smashed her fists into the neck of his bent form, still hopping on one foot. “Grab the gun!”
“You’re doing great without it,” Hugh said.
Andy assumed he would nab it, but instead, he kicked it into a pile of trash in an alleyway just as Daffy threw Andy to the street. Andy held on, taking him down with her fighting over the tote.
Hugh shouted, “Let it go. It’s just a bag! It’s not worth it.”
“You don’t understand,” Andy said. The man held tight but still she persisted. “It’s my life, my everything.”
“Girls and their purses… I was talking to the duck.”
Daffy managed to stand, still holding the purse. Andy was too slow to return to her feet, but Hugh jumped into action. Andy had never seen anyone so agile. He grappled the Daffy around his neck, then crashed him into his knee. Andy recognized the Russian Sambo technique. Even with the rubber mask, the wallop hurt. Daffy probably had a broken nose.
Andy stood still. This was the same man who asked for karate lessons a few minutes before?
Holding his nose, Daffy ran with Bill from the alleyway leaving the tote. Andy retrieved it from the sidewalk.
“What were you doing?” she asked.
He shrugged. A bit of blood trickled from his lip where the attacker got in a lucky punch. He cocked an eyebrow. “Don’t you have a date tonight?”
Hugh wrapped his arm around her, helping to stabilize her. Andy stiffened. He dodged her question.
He continued, “I’ll call the police and report the attempted theft. Not much they can do anyway. I can’t give them facial descriptions.”
Shaking, she couldn’t figure it out. A man who wanted karate lessons twenty minutes ago just executed a Russian Sambo tactic. Flawlessly. There was more to Hugh Donaldson than he was letting on. She stared at him.
“You’re still a little ruffled.” He found a scrap of paper and a pen. “Here’s my address and phone number if you need it.”
“I’ll be fine,” she said, pocketing the information without even reading it. “I have to go.”
Andy headed toward her apartment, a nagging feeling in her gut.
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