Shannon here: Jodie Bailey shares an excerpt from her latest Romantic Suspense, Christmas Double Cross. Comment or answer the question at the end of any post dated Oct 31 – Nov 3 to enter the drawing for a copy. Deadline: Nov 11th, 12:59 pm central time. Here’s Jodie:
Excerpt from Christmas Double Cross by Jodie Bailey:
Maybe it was the exhaustion. Maybe it was having another adult to talk to. His understanding brought an ache to her throat, breaking down the last of her resistance. “Our parents were killed on I-10 five years ago. Big pileup. Justin was just a kid. I was in college, working on my business degree…” The phone call had been awful, the worst moment of her life. She’d just started her sophomore year, was excited about her classes and landing a spot in a great dorm on campus… Was still so much a kid herself. Then the call came during a dorm meeting, bringing her entire world down on her head.
“You gave everything up to take care of him.”
Danielle nodded once, then shifted in her seat and rested her head on the couch, facing Colt. “At first, I worked retail during the day. Finished up classes in night school while my friend Zoe watched Justin. Saved every penny I could, plus what was left from the insurance money, and finally opened the shop about a year ago.” It had been a struggle to bring it all together, but one so worth it. She’d been able to preserve and protect the art so important to her mother’s heritage. “A few months ago, Justin heard me complain to Zoe that some months it was a struggle to make ends meet. He started coming home with money. Twenty bucks here, fifteen there—said it was from odd jobs.”
“When did you figure out the truth?” Colt’s voice was tight, and his jaw stiffened as he stared at something behind her in the kitchen. There was more to the question, Danielle just couldn’t figure out what it was. He had a way of growing pensive every time Justin’s name came up, as though her worries bled into him.
“A few weeks ago, not long before the shop was vandalized, he came home with a wad of cash. Then last night, seeing him with all that money at the diner…” Danielle shrugged and tried to shake off the fear. “Colt, what do I do? He’s fifteen. He’s too big for me to control.” Shoving up from the couch, Danielle walked to the tree, lifting an ornament Justin had made only last year. The painted cross was an art project she’d done with the children at the Mission, and he’d come along, helping the younger kids, laughing with them, still so much a kid himself. One year later, he’d somehow morphed into a young man she hardly knew. “All I know to do is pray, and I do that all of the time.”
Behind her, Colt made a sound that sounded almost derisive, as though he dismissed the idea.
He could think what he wanted. Her Savior was the only lifeline she had, the one that had sustained her every step of her life.
The one Justin seemed to have turned his back on.
She swiped at a tear and wrapped her arms around herself. What would life be like right now if her parents had lived? For one thing, she knew she wouldn’t be standing here, facing a Christmas tree with no spirit, suffering alone. “Know what I want for Christmas? My brother back. The way he was. Safe.”
There was a rustle, then a warm hand rested on her shoulder, turning her slightly.
Colt tilted his head down so that he caught her gaze, his eyes filled with something Danielle couldn’t read, something like understanding, something that drew her in and made her want to drown in him. “Justin will be okay.” He tucked a lock of her hair behind her ear, then lifted her chin with his finger. “I will do everything in my power to make sure of that.”
The low rumble of his voice in his chest, that intense look in his eye, deepening the hot chocolate color to something even warmer, caught Danielle’s next breath and lodged it in her throat. His hand on her shoulder was enough to weaken every muscle in her body.
His eyes hooded, dipping to her lips.
She could melt into him right now and let the rest of the world vanish, let his arms hold her up, let his lips…
Three light raps on the door splintered the connection.
With a start, Colt pulled his hands away and held them up and to the sides, like a man surrendering. He took a step back, glanced at the front door, then at the TV. “I…” His hands fell, smacking against his jeans with a dull slap. He shook his head and cast her a look of regret, like he had more to say but couldn’t find the words. “Kylie’s here. I have to…to go.” With one last glance in her direction, Colt grabbed his leather jacket from the kitchen chair, strode to the door and disappeared into the cold evening.
About Jodie: Jodie Bailey writes novels about freedom and the heroes who fight for it. Her romantic suspense, Crossfire, won a 2015 RT Reviewers Choice Award and her contemporary romance, Quilted by Christmas won a 2014 Selah. She is convinced a camping trip to the beach with her family, a good cup of coffee, and a great book can cure all ills. Jodie lives in North Carolina with her husband, her daughter, and two dogs. Stop by and say hi at www.jodiebailey.com
About the book – Christmas Double Cross:
Undercover Texas Ranger Colter Blackthorn’s convinced Danielle Segovia is really a wanted criminal—until she’s nearly kidnapped right in front of him. Now Colter must keep her out of the clutches of the notorious drug cartel leader whose traitor sister is a dead ringer for Danielle. The drug czar wants the drugs he thinks the pretty shop owner stole from him. And with the younger brother Danielle is raising dragged into the crosshairs, Colt has to find a way to protect them both. But a showdown at Christmas—with Danielle as bait—may be the only way to make sure they all survive the holidays.
Question for Readers: What is an event in your life that shaped who you are today?