In Bed with Booneñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
“How about making a little noise?” Boone whispered to the woman on the bed. “You know, so the real bad guys will think you’re enjoying yourself?”
“I will not!” she said indignantly.
He grabbed her wrist, and she squealed. Then he dragged her closer, and she squealed again. “That’s good.”
But it wasn’t good. She was breathing hard, as if they were really making love. Her green eyes were fiery and latched to his. And he couldn’t stop wishing for what he was only pretending to do. “One more time, sugar.”
“Don’t call me—”
He hauled her off the bed so that she came to her feet and ran smack-dab into his bare chest. This time she screamed, and Boone let go of her.
She glanced up at him suspiciously.
He couldn’t resist. “Was it good for you, too?” he whispered.
The warm weather is upon us, and things are heating up to match here at Silhouette Intimate Moments. Candace Camp returns to A LITTLE TOWN IN TEXAS with Smooth-Talking Texan, featuring another of her fabulous Western heroes. Town sheriff Quinn Sutton is one irresistible guy—as attorney Lisa Mendoza is about to learn.
We’re now halfway through ROMANCING THE CROWN, our suspenseful royal continuity. In Valerie Parv’s Royal Spy, a courtship of convenience quickly becomes the real thing—but is either the commoner or the princess what they seem? Marie Ferrarella begins THE BACHELORS OF BLAIR MEMORIAL with In Graywolf’s Hands, featuring a Native American doctor and the FBI agent who ends up falling for him. Linda Winstead Jones is back with In Bed With Boone, a thrillingly romantic kidnapping story—of course with a happy ending. Then go Beneath the Silk with author Wendy Rosnau, whose newest is sensuous and suspenseful, and completely enthralling. Finally, welcome brand-new author Catherine Mann. Wedding at White Sands is her first book, but we’ve already got more—including an exciting trilogy—lined up from this talented newcomer.
Enjoy all six of this month’s offerings, then come back next month for even more excitement as Intimate Moments continues to present some of the best romance reading you’ll find anywhere.
Leslie J. Wainger
Executive Senior Editor
In Bed with Boone
Linda Winstead Jones
LINDA WINSTEAD JONES
would rather write than do anything else. Since she cannot cook, gave up ironing many years ago and finds cleaning the house a complete waste of time, she has plenty of time to devote to her obsession with writing. Occasionally she’s tried to expand her horizons by taking classes. In the past she’s taken instruction on yoga, French (a dismal failure), Chinese cooking, cake decorating (food-related classes are always a good choice, even for someone who can’t cook), belly dancing (trust me, this was a long time ago) and, of course, creative writing.
She lives in Huntsville, Alabama, with her husband of more years than she’s willing to admit and the youngest of their three sons.
She can be reached via www.eHarlequin.com or her own Web site www.lindawinsteadjones.com.
This book is dedicated, with much love, to my New York friends.
You’ve all been very much on my mind as I finish this story, and I continue to be amazed by your heart and courage.
For Matrice and Diane, Leslie and Lynda. For Chris and Brooke and Tim. For Joanna, Amy and Richard.
A blind date was a sure sign of a life gone wrong. Jayne Barrington stared out the passenger-side window of the speeding Mercedes and wondered where her life had gone wrong. The Arizona landscape, so different from her Mississippi home, provided no answers. Giving in to the only sign of nervousness she ever allowed herself, Jayne fingered the pearls that hung at her throat.
She expected too much, she imagined. The kind of man she dreamed about was long gone. A gentleman. A gallant. A knight in shining armor. Those men didn’t exist anymore.
“I must’ve taken a wrong turn,” Jim said nervously. “Surely there’s a road that cuts through to the south. We’ll be at the party in no time at all.” The false note of cheer he tried to put into his voice didn’t quite work.
They hadn’t passed a house or a streetlight for miles. Jim had driven by the last gas station twenty minutes ago. When Jayne had suggested that he stop and ask for directions, he’d uttered a valiant rejection of her sensible idea. Men.
The car jerked as the narrow asphalt road ended and without warning they found themselves on what was little more than a dirt trail.
“Turn the car around,” Jayne insisted in her frostiest voice. “This road can’t possibly go anywhere.”
Jim leaned forward and craned his long scrawny neck to see over the steering wheel, peering at the small section of the road his headlights illuminated. “There’s a ditch on this side. I’m afraid if I try to turn around here, we’ll get stuck. Keep your eye out for a nice flat place to turn around.”
For the past half hour, everything had been flat! Jayne took a deep breath in and exhaled slowly. Pamela would pay dearly for setting up this disastrous date. Jim might be relatively handsome—but for that long and skinny neck—and he definitely ran in the correct social circles; but the man was dumb. Beneath that pretty face and the expensive dental work, he had fewer working brain cells than the average twelve-year-old. Jayne could abide many faults in a man, but stupidity wasn’t one of them.
They’d left Flagstaff two hours ago, eventually leaving behind the pine forests for stretches of flat land broken here and there by magnificent red rock formations and scruffy plants that fought to survive in the harsh dirt. They should have reached their destination more than half an hour ago, but she hadn’t seen any of the landmarks she’d been told to look for.
For goodness’ sake, they were completely lost!
“I think I see lights,” Jim said, a twinge of hopeful optimism in his voice.
Jayne looked ahead, and sure enough a soft glow broke the complete darkness of the night in the distance. Not enough to be the headlights of an approaching car or a house situated here in the middle of nowhere, but more illumination than a flashlight would give off. A distinct uneasiness settled in her stomach. Who knew what might be ahead?
“Perhaps you should just put the car in reverse and back up until we hit the asphalt, and then you can turn around,” Jayne said sensibly. “To be honest, I’ve developed a headache. Let’s forget the party. I just want to go back to the hotel.” Her father would be disappointed, but there was just so much a dutiful daughter could do to further a promising political career. Jim had been looking forward to the party at Hollywood producer Corbin Marsh’s secluded Arizona home. He had a notion that if Marsh got a good look at his pretty face, he’d soon be a star.
“Drive backward all that way?” Jim shot her an astonished glance. “It’ll be easier to just find a wide place to turn around. If we don’t come across a good spot by the time we get to whatever that light ahead is, I’ll try to back up.” He tried for a reassuring smile. “I was really looking forward to meeting Marsh, but if you insist, we can forget the party and go back to your hotel. I’m sure he’ll want to meet with you at another time, and I’ll just tag along then.”
No way was she inviting this moron into her hotel room, and this was definitely their last date. There was no way he would be “tagging along” with her anywhere! But now, while she was at his mercy practically in the middle of nowhere, was probably not the time to tell him so.
The glow ahead grew brighter, and soon Jayne was able to make out dimly lit forms moving about two cars that had been pulled off the road. Three or four powerful flashlights lit the night, illuminating the scene, a scene that struck her as not being quite right. Why were all those men out here where there was so much nothing? She didn’t like this; she didn’t like it at all. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up. “Jim, just back up,” she commanded. Men usually listened intently to her commands, but not dim Jim.
“I’ll ask for directions this time. Guess I should’ve done that at the gas station we passed.”
“Guess so,” Jayne muttered, fingering her pearls almost furiously.
Jim pulled the Mercedes to a slow gentle stop in the middle of the road. He grabbed his keys, turned on the small flashlight that hung from his keychain and gave her a dazzling smile. “I’ll be right back.”
Just a few feet away, the six men huddled around the trunk of one car watched Jim step from the Mercedes. Jayne knew she was a bit of a snob; her mother had trained her well. But even if she hadn’t been such a self-confessed elitist, she would’ve felt uneasy at the sight of these six men.
All of them were dressed in jeans and T-shirts, and at first glance it seemed they all fingered or puffed on cigarettes. In this day and age, who smoked? One of the men had long greasy hair. The fidgeting kid beside him had either very short hair or none at all. The light was not good enough for her to be certain. The unusually tall man who stood beside the open trunk of one of the cars was so large that his rounded belly, tightly encased in a ripped Harley-Davidson T-shirt, hung in a distressing way over his low-slung jeans. Two of the men were more conservative in appearance than the others, looking almost out of place. Their jeans were pressed, their T-shirts were free of wrinkles and tucked into those jeans, and each of them had what could only be described as an executive haircut. They stood side by side, obviously together. The sixth man…the sixth man hung back a little, his face in shadow. But he looked as common as the others in tight jeans and heavy boots and a leather jacket. A leather jacket, at this time of year? The nights could become cool here, she knew, but late spring was definitely not the proper season for leather. Grandmother would call them all hooligans.
Jim shone his flashlight before him, checking the road for potholes as he called out a cheerful greeting. “Hi, fellas. I seem to have gotten myself lost…”
Jayne heard nothing more except a loud popping noise that made her jump. Jim crumpled to the ground before her eyes and disappeared from her limited view. She snapped her eyes to the crowd of thugs. The two more conservatively dressed men backed warily away from the others. The man with the long greasy hair calmly lit another cigarette and offered the pack to his bald friend.
The large man who had done the shooting waved the gun in his hand toward the thug in the leather jacket, who seemed to be arguing with him.
It took a moment for the information to register, for her heart to quit beating so fast that she couldn’t even think. They’d shot Jim. Shot him. Poor dumb Jim, whose only crime was getting lost on the way to Marsh’s vacation home, who was the worst blind date Jayne had ever suffered…who had taken the keys to the car with him.
The greasy-haired hood spoke softly and nodded toward the car, and the bald one headed her way. She had nowhere to run to, and even if she did, she wasn’t likely to get far in the high heels that matched her chic coral suit. She thought of kicking off her shoes and running in her bare feet, but she knew how rocky the land she’d have to run across would be. Her feet needed to be protected. She wasn’t going anywhere fast. Still, if she could manage to get lost in the darkness…
Before the hoodlum reached the car, Jayne threw open the passenger door and sprinted out. She ran without looking back, her legs a little wobbly on the uncertain terrain, thanks to her high heels. She was supposed to be at a political party, sipping wine and drumming up support for her father, not running from a murder!
The men behind her seemed to all shout at once, as Jayne ran farther and farther into the darkness. She didn’t know where she was headed, but she didn’t care as long as that place was away from the scene of the shooting. Behind her the gun fired again, and she actually heard the bullet zing past her ear. A man shouted, another yelled, a third howled like a wolf, and still Jayne ran without looking back. A car engine roared. She could hope that they would all leave, couldn’t she? They could take off, leaving her to disappear into the darkness.
No such luck. Long before she heard the heavy footfall behind her, she knew that running from the hoodlums was a hopeless cause. If they wanted to catch her, if they wanted to stop her, they could. Several of them were chasing her, or so it seemed from the sound of the approaching steps and the vile curses she heard muttered and shouted. A harsh voice ordered her to stop.
Her heart pounded so hard she thought it would burst through her chest. She couldn’t breathe, and her legs ached. Every step was perilous in the heels. But she was not going to stop.
Without further warning she was caught from behind. Arms snaked around her waist, snared her, held her, and with those arms on and all around her, she fell to the ground. She screamed breathlessly, and the man who’d caught her let out a loud whoosh as he landed practically on top of her. Since his arms were already completely around her, she was partially protected from her fall to the hard-packed ground. But still, it hurt.
Jayne closed her eyes, lost in darkness and the weight and suffocating heat of the man lying atop her. They were going to kill her, just like they’d killed poor Jim. Dammit, she would never forgive Pamela for this.
“On your feet, sugar,” the one who had caught her ordered.
He dragged her up, keeping his hand tightly around her wrist even when they were standing face-to-face. Well, her face to his broad chest was more like it. It was the hoodlum in the leather jacket who had caught her, and he wasn’t even breathing hard! She could barely catch her breath.
The man who had shot Jim raised his weapon and pointed it at her. Jayne closed her eyes.
“Put that down,” the man in the leather jacket ordered calmly. He took a step to the side, effectively shielding her. “Does she look like a fed? Does she look like some dealer who’s here to snatch your stuff? Hell, what we have here are two yuppies who have the misfortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.” He turned to face her again, and she had no choice but to see his stubbled jaw and cruel lips. And though she couldn’t see well in the dark, she sensed that the look in his eyes was accusing, as if this catastrophe was all her fault.
“Don’t matter,” the fat man with the gun in his hand said. “She’s seen us. Ain’t nothing else I can do but shoot her.” He sounded so matter-of-fact, so insanely logical.
The man who held her too tightly shook his head in what appeared to be dismay. His long dark hair swayed softly, his stubbled jaw clenched. And he muttered the most foul of words beneath his breath. The grip on her wrist was a vise she didn’t even try to fight. He jerked her around thoughtlessly, placing his body between her and the man with the gun. All the while he cursed, low and gruff. His body tensed; a muscle in his jaw twitched.
“I want her,” he growled.
The fat man lowered his gun. “You what?”
“I said I want her,” he repeated in an almost grudging manner. “We’ve been stuck out at that damn shack for over a month, and let me tell you, the women in that pisshole you call a town aren’t exactly up to my standards.”
Jayne panicked all over. “I’d rather die,” she said. She tried to jerk away from the man and attempted to kick him where it was supposed to hurt the most. She ended up falling, landing on her backside in the dirt. The grip on her wrist never let up.
The man who manacled her wrist turned his shadowed face toward her, leaned down and whispered, “Be careful what you wish for, sugar.”
Boone kept his body between the woman and the gun. She thanked him by kicking him in the knee with a pointy-toed shoe. He had a feeling she’d been aiming higher before she’d lost her balance and stumbled. The skirt of her obviously expensive suit rode high on her shapely thighs. Her knees knocked together and her toes pointed in, in a fashion that should have been comical but wasn’t.
Light from Marty’s wavering flashlight raked over the woman’s body. Soft, barely curling hair not much longer than chin-length brushed pale cheeks. That baby-fine hair was blond, he thought, but not golden. A touch of red made it brighter. Different. The pearls she wore around her neck were surely real and expensive, like everything else about her. Her suit was the color of an Easter egg, not pink and not orange, not pale and not bright. She was all creamy white and golden pink, and she was rightfully frightened half out of her mind.
Focusing on her gave him a moment to collect his thoughts, to still his racing heart. No one was supposed to die here. Tonight’s sale was to have been a simple exchange, a little business Darryl had to take care of before his next meeting with the man who ran things around here. Boone had had no choice but to tag along, taking mental notes, knowing that in less than a week this entire operation would be shut down. Just a few more days, and he’d be meeting the infamous Joaquin Gurza face-to-face.
“Watch your step, sugar,” he said as he hauled the woman to her feet.
“Do not call me sugar, you…you goon,” she said indignantly. Her honeyed Southern drawl reminded him of home.
He cast a glance at Darryl, the drug dealer who’d been so quick to pull his gun and fire. Boone cursed himself for not seeing it coming. He likely couldn’t do a damn thing about the man lying in the road, but he’d do his best to save the woman—if she’d let him.
“Well, then, what’s your name, darlin’?”
She hit him, hauling off and landing a pathetic punch on his upper arm. “My name is none of your business,” she snapped.
Darryl laughed. “Come on, Becker,” he said. “Have at her and then let me shoot her. She looks like an awful lot of trouble, and she’s got a big mouth.”
Boone placed his face close to the woman’s. “Sugar, your choices are limited,” he whispered. “You shut your mouth and stick close to me, or you end up like the man in the road.” Even in the dark he could see the new wave of panic that flitted across her pretty face. “Was he your husband?”
She shook her head.
She shook her head again.
He couldn’t afford to tell her too much, but he sure as hell couldn’t hand her over to Darryl. Marty and Doug, who looked on as if this was the most amusing scene they’d witnessed in a long while, weren’t much better. Nope, the woman was his responsibility—until he figured out how to get rid of her.
“No,” he said, his eyes on the woman, his words for Darryl. “I’m not going to ‘have at her’ and you’re not going to shoot her. It’s not going to be that easy.”
The woman’s lips trembled, and she lowered her eyes. Maybe she didn’t want him to see the fear that had to be there. Oh, God, he hoped she didn’t start to cry. He had no patience with weepy women.
“I’m taking her with me.” With that, he turned and headed back toward the car.
Darryl didn’t like the idea of taking the woman along, but he simply grumbled a curse and stuck his pistol into his waistband.
The buyers were long gone, having collected their purchase and taken off as Boone and the others chased the witness. They’d wisely left the money, neatly bound and stacked in a small suitcase, sitting in the trunk of Darryl’s car.
Boone sped up and headed toward the man on the ground. He moved so fast the woman he dragged behind him had to run to keep up. Every foul word he’d ever used came to mind. He muttered them all.
“You have a vulgar mouth,” the woman said primly, keeping her voice low.
“A gentleman would never use such language in front of a lady.”
Boone stopped and stared down at the man who was sprawled on the ground by the Mercedes, taking everything in quickly. High-priced suit, gold watch, salon haircut. A perfect match for the woman at his side. He hated people like these. Holier than thou, too rich for their own good, always looking down their noses at the rest of the world. They didn’t deserve to get shot for it, though.
He didn’t have much time. Keeping a firm grip on the woman’s wrist, he dropped to his haunches and quickly rifled through the man’s pockets.
“What are you doin’?” Marty called.
Boone glanced over his shoulder. The kid who combed his hair with a razor was heading right for him.
“Checking the man’s pockets. He looks like he has money, doesn’t he?” With that Boone ripped off the watch and stuck it in his pocket.
The woman made a sound that was a tsk and a sigh and a grunt rolled into one feminine utterance, revealing her utter disgust with him.
Marty grinned. “Can I have the car?”
“No,” Boone said tersely. “It’ll lead the cops right to us.”
Doug came up behind his buddy. As the woman’s frightened eyes landed on him, Doug flipped his long hair like a vain woman trolling in a bar. “And she won’t?” he asked bitterly.ñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî