Chess Lane is getting married. The church is booked, the guests are invited, and in three short weeks her husband will give her a night she'll never forget. Only her wedding happens a little sooner than she planned when she meets Jed Harker, a CIA agent with a big ego and a bigger… No, she doesn't even want to think about it.
Chess has hit rock bottom when a simple favour for a colleague leads her to Washington, DC and an offer she can't refuse. As chaos spreads faster than the plague one thing's for sure – her life will never be the same again. But will anybody else's?
Out of the Blue is a standalone romantic suspense novel in the Blackwood Security series. No cliffhanger!
I turned to the blond guy, whose eyes had dropped to my ass. “Is your name Jared Harker?”
“Sure is. I thought you didn’t remember anything about last night?”
“I don’t.” Beads of sweat popped out on my forehead as I waved the certificate at him. “I certainly don’t remember getting married, do you?” My voice rang in my ears, high enough to attract passing dogs.
His face paled a few shades. “You’re kidding, right?”
I sat down hard on the stool next to the dressing table. “I don’t think so. I don’t know. There’s a marriage certificate here and a photo of us with Reverend Elvis.”
Jared sprang out of bed, forgetting the pillow. This time, I barely noticed his goods, not when my world had just caved in.
He grabbed the paper out of my hands and skimmed down it. “And I take it you’re Francesca Lane?”
He swore under his breath and grabbed my left hand. A thin silver band twinkled in the sun. How had I not noticed that before? I peered at the fingers wrapped around mine. Sure enough, there was a matching ring.
Jared stared for a few seconds and lost the last of his colour. “I’ll make some calls. This has to be a joke.”
“Okay,” I whispered, although I had an awful suspicion it wasn’t a prank. The certificate was signed, numbered and had a seal for Clark County, Nevada in the bottom left-hand corner.
Jared fished a phone out of a pair of jeans lying on the floor and punched in a number. At least I wasn’t the only one unhappy with the situation.
What on earth was I supposed to do? I was getting married in less than three weeks. My step-daddy and Wade would make my life a living hell if they found out I’d accidentally got hitched to another man.
In front of me, Jared paced up and down the room, still naked as he muttered at somebody on the other end of the line. I’d gone numb, apart from my head, which felt like a freight train was doing a wall-of-death around the inside. I stumbled over to my handbag in search of the painkillers I’d wanted earlier. That seemed so long ago now. It took me three goes to get the lid off the bottle, and I swallowed a handful without counting. Who cared about an overdose? Oblivion would be welcome.
Jared paused and covered the phone with his hand. “Don’t suppose I could have a couple of those?”
I handed him the bottle, and he tipped two tablets out into his hand, swallowed them dry, and resumed pacing. My eyes followed him unconsciously until I realised and forced myself to stop. He sure was pretty to look at, but he’d brought me a whole world of trouble.
With Iraq eight hours ahead of Washington, DC, it was well into the following day when they arrived at Wadi Al Khirr, and the trip to Al Bidaya was everything Jed expected. Jarring, long, and hot.
There was only one guest house in town, and a local contact had procured rooms for use by Jed’s team. Apparently, they’d be the only ones staying there.
“Nobody comes to Al Bidaya at the moment,” the driver told him.
As the jeep rumbled through deserted streets, Jed translated “at the moment” into “ever.” It was hard to see what could attract visitors to the tiny town so far off the beaten track and on the edge of a recovering war zone. Half of the buildings looked derelict at first sight, but on further inspection some of them showed signs of life. Children’s toys on the front steps. Washing hanging on a makeshift line. The smell of fresh bread baking. Jed had been in the US for months, but driving into Al Bidaya, unfamiliar yet like a hundred other towns he’d visited in Iraq, reminded him why he’d spent so much time in the area. It felt real. The bullshit that came from the Pentagon didn’t reach this far. These people lived simply, loved simply, and now, it seemed, died simply.
Beside him, Bert fiddled with a Geiger counter.
“Nope. All clear so far.”
Well, that was some good news at least. But what else lurked beneath the layer of dust that covered everything?
Congratulations to Jeanne S.