Title: Tangled Promises
Author: Linda Trout
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Widow Melody Rose has already lost one man whose job involved guns and violence. She swore she’d never put herself through that again.
At first Sheriff Jake Bennett wants nothing to do with the taciturn café owner, but Melody intrigues him. When a stalker targets her, he’s determined to protect the woman he has fallen for. But can Melody overcome her greatest fear and save the man she never dreamed would claim her heart?
Dust kicked up behind the car as Jake drove down an unpaved road. He glanced over at Melody as they passed a small road that didn’t look like it had been used in a long time. She turned her head, watching the road as they passed. “Who lives down there?”
She brought her gaze back to him but wore a wistful expression. “No one.”
They were quite a ways out of town and hadn’t seen any other traffic in a while. Jake slowed the car to a stop, then put it in reverse.
When he pulled onto the path, he held his breath as the road dipped, then wound its way around one bend after another with hills stretching up on either side. Still-dormant grass and weeds lined the valley but was far enough away from the rutted lane where it wouldn’t scratch the vintage ’68 Firebird’s paint. Blackjack trees and low growing brush were scattered throughout the area. He inched over the rough road, if you could call it that. “I might be sorry I came down here. Maybe there’s a place where we can turn around.”
She gave a soft snort. “You’ll be all right.”
Eventually, they came to a grassy clearing. With the windows down, he heard running water. She pointed to an area where the grass was flattened and tire treads were visible in the dirt.
“This is good,” she said.
Once he’d cut the engine the quiet surrounded him. Nothing but the water and a light breeze. Melody was already out of the car, and he followed her toward the creek. The ground gently sloped down to the creek bed, littered with rocks large enough to create the gurgling he’d heard when he first drove into the area. Several larger rocks, small boulders really, were scattered about, both in the creek and on the bank. One on the bank was large enough to sit on, and he suspected Melody had done just that in the past.
Jake wasn’t surprised when she perched on the boulder and gazed into the water. He stopped a few feet away. Here, like this, she looked like a different woman. The stress lines that seemed a permanent part of her face were gone. Her copper colored hair floated around her shoulders. A serene expression made her appear younger and carefree.
He’d never seen anyone look more enticing.
Sticking his hands in his back pockets, he stated the obvious. “You’ve been here before.”
Nodding, she glanced around at the secluded area. “I like the solitude.”
It was secluded, all right. The trail they’d been following wound through the woods even farther and he wondered if someone lived back there. If they did then there had to be another way in because they sure didn’t come down this road.
“If you want quiet, then you’ve sure found it. Doesn’t seem to be anyone around for miles.” He crossed his arms and leaned against the boulder beside her.
“I don’t think there is.”
“So you’ve never gone farther down the road?”
She glanced behind her before returning her attention to the creek. “I walked it one time, but the road tapers off. There might’ve been a hunting cabin or an old homestead down there once, but I don’t think anyone uses it if there is. The weeds are awfully overgrown. I’m not even sure who owns it.”
Jake wandered over to the stream, squatted, and dipped the fingers of one hand into the crystal-clear liquid, then quickly pulled them out.
She laughed at him. “Cold, isn’t it?”
“You could’ve warned me,” he said as he wiped the moisture onto his jeans.
“And spoil your fun? Besides, from my experience men like to find out for themselves.”
A haunted expression creased her features. Did it have something to do with her dead husband? If so, had the man been so hardheaded he needed to find out everything for himself, discounting everything she said? He wanted to ask, but it wasn’t any of his business. He wiggled his eyebrows. “Yeah, we’re kinda wired that way.”
She lifted a corner of her mouth, the sad expression gone. “You can’t fool me, sheriff. It isn’t all that cold. Too late in the year.”
“Cold enough. Now if we were in Chicago, it’d be freezing.” When was the last time he’d even gone out to the lake? He’d been so busy after he’d made detective he hadn’t taken much time for recreation. When he was little, the entire family had gone to Lake Michigan all the time during the summer. They’d packed the car to the hilt with stuff Mom insisted they’d need, then still proclaim they had forgotten something once there. He grinned at the memories. His little brother always testing to see how far out in the water he could go before Dad went in after him. Seeing how many hot dogs he could eat before getting sick. Yep. Those were happy times.
“You miss it,” she said.
Jake pulled in his thoughts. “It’s where I grew up.”
She gave him a sly grin as he evaded the question. “Do you still have family there?”
He picked up a flat stone and skipped it down the creek. Once the rock had sunk, he stood and dusted off his hands. Melody had leaned back against the boulder, braced by one arm, and watched him closely. “No. My parents moved to Arizona, and my brother’s in California. They all wanted warmer climates.”
“But you stayed because you loved the city and wanted to right some of the wrongs you saw.” Her steady gaze drilled into him.
His heart did a little tug. He missed the city, not just the job. But he thought he’d hidden his emotions where no one could see, surprised Melody was so perceptive. Could the woman see into his soul?
Barnes & Noble: https://tinyurl.com/rrfauzv
What’s your favorite way to combat stress?
I find the greatest stress relievers to be writing a really good scene (that may sound canned or corny but it’s true), and riding my Harley. I love winding roads, so perhaps that’s why I set this book in the middle of the mountains.
Why is your featured book a stress busting read?
Despite the suspense in the story, Tangled Promises showcases small-town life and the serenity of the Ozark Mountains. How can you be stressed when you’re sitting next to a slow-moving creek and the only sounds are the wind in the trees and chirping birds?
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An Award-Winning and Amazon paid Kindle sales top 25 Bestselling author, Oklahoma native Linda Trout loves Happily-Ever-Afters. When she isn’t helping her husband remodel their home, she’s outside trying to tame a small portion of their ten-acres (a losing battle). Between her numerous cats, who think they have to help her write, and traveling to various parts of the country, she’s working on her next novel.
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