Title: The Rebound Effect
Author: Linda Griffin
Genre: Psychological Thriller/Romantic Suspense
In the small town of Cougar, struggling single mother and veterinary assistant Teresa Lansing is still bruised from a failed relationship when Frank McAllister sweeps her off her feet.
Frank is a big-city SWAT officer who moved to Cougar only four months ago. He's handsome, charming, forceful, very sexy, and a bit mysterious. He had his eye on Teresa even before they met and is pushing for a serious relationship right away.
Teresa finds his intense courtship flattering, and the sex is fabulous, but she doesn't want her deaf six-year-old son to be hurt again. Her former fiancé cheated on her when he got drunk after being unjustly fired, but he loves her and her son, and the whirlwind romance is complicated by his efforts to win Teresa back.
And then there's the matter of the bodies buried at Big Devil Creek…
The dark-haired cop showed no interest in Lacey. He didn’t look bored or contemptuous, just not interested. He got up and approached the counter, where Teresa was still talking to Alix. “Your better half’s not with you tonight?” he asked. He had a pleasant baritone voice.
“What?” she said stupidly and then, recovering, “I’m not married.”
“Oh, I thought you were,” he said apologetically and smiled at her. He was disturbingly good-looking without his sunglasses, with penetrating brown eyes and just a trace of five o’clock shadow. He was tall, broad-shouldered, and very masculine, impressive if not intimidating. She liked his strong jaw line, and he had a nice smile, with just a hint of a dimple.
“Do I know you?” she asked. “I thought you were one of the Powell City officers.”
“I am,” he agreed, “but I live here. This is extra duty—they thought I could act as sort of a liaison. So the tall guy with the glasses—looks like a schoolteacher…?”
“Which he is,” she said. “Or was, before he got fired. No, we were just dating.”
“Fired?” he queried. “Why? Was he molesting little girls or something?”
“No, nothing like that, or at least I don’t think so. He didn’t want to talk about it.”
“Want me to find out?” he asked.
“What?” He was in cop mode, but why? “No. I’m finished with him.”
“I assume you dumped him,” he said. “It couldn’t have been the other way around.”
She shrugged, even as she wondered why she was discussing her romantic history with this stranger, who hadn’t even offered his name. “It might as well be,” she said. “When men cheat, isn’t that one of the reasons? To end a relationship they want out of?”
“Is it? It sounds pretty cowardly. In your case, downright criminal. So you broke up recently? I don’t want to seem too forward, but is it too soon for you to date?”
“I guess it depends on how you define date,” she said.
“Well, could we maybe get together sometime?” he asked. “Dinner, someplace nice?”
“I don’t even know you,” she protested.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I’m Frank McAllister.” He offered his hand, and Teresa, still bemused, took it. He had a firm handshake, a decent manicure, and no wedding ring.
“I realize I’m a complete stranger to you, Teresa, but I feel like I know you. I’ve had my eye on you for a while, but I thought you were married. I’m glad I was wrong.” He smiled again, looking into her eyes with flattering intensity. “So, what do you think? Could I…call you or…” He had seemed pretty confident, but now a shade of doubt crept in. Teresa was still deciding what she should say when he said, “He’s here.”
“The guy you’re not married to.” He nodded toward the door, and Teresa turned to see Brett Devlin just coming in. She looked away before he could spot her, but she felt a certain satisfaction in thinking he might notice she was with an attractive man. She gave McAllister her phone number. She could always brush him off later. When she looked around again, Brett was gone—scared off? He knew she would be at the grill—she always was on Thursday evenings.
“So you live in Cougar? I don’t think I’ve seen you before.”
“I’ve been here four months. I’m in the city so much, working, that it doesn’t feel like home yet, but I like it. It seems like a nice place to settle down. Unusual name, Cougar. Has anybody seen one around here?”
“Yes, we’ve had sightings, and a farmer shot one last year. I haven’t seen any, but you can guess what the high school football team is called.”
“The Cougars. And why were you the terror of Orwell High?”
“You heard that? It’s just a silly nickname Alix gave me—Teresa, Terror. I was a good girl!”
“I bet you were,” he said. The tone of admiration in his voice was unmistakable, his smile very warm. “Were you a cheerleader?”
“Far from it.” Was he for real? She wasn’t remarkable in any way, so why this interest? He had thought she was married, after all. He seemed to be unaware of the charms of teen-aged Lacey Norman, which included big blue eyes and knockers to match. She always displayed them to their best advantage too, with lots of makeup and daringly low-cut blouses. Teresa was slender, twenty-eight, and dressed in jeans and a T-shirt that revealed nothing. “How long have you been a police officer?” she asked.
“Twelve years. I’m on the SWAT team, so this isn’t my usual gig.”
“SWAT? Wow! Aiden would be impressed. So you just came to help dig up bodies?”
“Mostly bones, actually—they’d been dead a long time. Thing is—it will be public knowledge tomorrow, so I might as well tell you—Linedecker confessed to the two murders he was convicted of, but we found three bodies.”
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N.N. Light said, "This is one of the most original romantic suspense I've ever read...There were parts of the story where I gasped aloud...If you're looking for a suspenseful romantic thriller with a clear message for women everywhere, pick up The Rebound Effect today.”
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I was born and raised in San Diego, California and earned a BA in English from San Diego State University and an MLS from UCLA. I retired as reference and fiction collection development librarian for the San Diego Public Library to spend more time on my writing. Although I also enjoy reading biography, memoir, and history, fiction remains my first love. In addition to the three R’s—reading, writing, and research—I enjoy Scrabble, movies, and travel. My stories have been published in numerous journals, including Eclectica, Thema Literary Journal, The Binnacle, The Nassau Review, and Orbis. The Rebound Effect is one of three romantic suspense novels from The Wild Rose Press, along with Seventeen Days (2018) and Guilty Knowledge (2020).
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