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Whispers On The Wind
GENRE: Romantic Suspense, Small Town
ENDING: HEA (They’re a couple and live Happily Ever After)
WORD COUNT: 60,000 to 74,999 (average book)
HERO’S AGE: 40-49
HEROINE’S AGE: 30-39
HEAT LEVEL: Steamy (Talk Dirty To Me)
GRAPHIC LANGUAGE: Some (The occasional “F” bomb, lots of smack talk, some explicit sex)
Two bodies, a beautiful woman, voices only he can hear…welcome to Cooper Delaney’s world.
You didn’t stop him. He killed her.
Dire warnings from a voice only he can hear makes Sheriff Cooper Delaney doubt his sanity. When a body is found matching one from a recent nightmare, he believes he’s gone off the deep end. The dead do not talk to the living. Or do they? One body becomes two. Are there more?
Heartbroken by betrayal, Dr. Samantha Fowler finds herself starting over at thirty-three. When she meets the local sheriff, the attraction is instant and fierce, threatening to crumble the defensive walls around her heart. Once burned, twice shy, she vows to stay far away from him for the duration of her stay at the quaint B & B they share. But when she finds one body, then another, avoiding the handsome Texan is impossible.
He’s not done.
Quarry in site, he watches and waits. “I am the master. I cannot be stopped.”
The clock is ticking…
READ AN EXCERPT
You let him kill her.
The angry female voice in the pre-dawn hour jolted Cooper Delaney from a restless sleep.
Adrenalin pumping, he rolled to the right and automatically grabbed his pistol from the nightstand, fully expecting to see a stranger beside the bed.
Nothing but moonlit shadows. He swiveled his head to the left.
The room was empty.
He blinked and drew in a deep breath, trying to dispel remnants of the dream making sleep all but impossible for over a month. Always the same dream; a shadowy figure begging Coop to find her. That was it…find me, please. Two weeks ago, the voice changed and insisted Coop had to stop him.
Stop who? From what?
Tonight, the dream exploded into a full-blown nightmare.
He put the gun back on the table and lay down, right arm over his eyes. “Shit,” he whispered as the vision replayed through his mind. Powerful hands gripped her throat, the eerie silence punctuated by ragged gasps as she struggled for air. Blood trickled from her nose and the corner of her mouth. Dark hair wedged into a jagged cut across her forehead. Terror-filled eyes stared at the figure bent over her.
All the while, the voice reproached…you didn’t stop him.
At forty-three, Coop considered himself a straight-forward, no nonsense lawman, well known and respected as the Sheriff of Baker County, Texas. He looked at the facts, the evidence, and made logical, rational decisions. And yet, the dream was so real, he smelled the metallic odor of blood, felt the dampness of the earth around her.
“Dammit.” He lowered his arm and punched the bed. I’m losing my fricking mind.
It was bad enough when the voice invaded his sleep, but two days ago, he heard it at the kitchen table where he sat eating breakfast. Wide awake. This time, she warned he – whoever he was – would kill again.
He tossed the sheet aside and sat on the edge of the bed. Heart pounding, his breath hissed as he gulped in air. Elbows on his knees, he cradled his head in his hands. “Just a dream,” he murmured, “a bad dream.”
He stumbled to the window and shoved it open with an angry thrust, gasping when the rush of cool night air caused gooseflesh to prickle his sweat-coated body. “A dream,” he whispered, willing himself to believe. “Nobody died.” He pulled down the sash and pressed his forehead against the glass pane. “Nobody died.”
When his racing heart finally slowed, he pushed away and headed for the bathroom, stopping at the foot of the bed as he tried to remember if Miss Eva had guests tonight. A curse escaped parched lips as he grabbed his jeans from a chair. Why in the world did she want to go into the B&B business anyway?
Even as the thought flitted through his mind, he knew the answer. She decided he needed a wife and used the lovely Antebellum home to lure prospects. Hence, the majority of her guests were single women looking for a good time, or to change their marital status. He lost track of the propositions, both subtle and otherwise, thrown his way in the last six months. When had women become so forward?
He opened the door and padded on bare feet to the bathroom he shared with his son, Jason, when he was home from college. Guests used the one across the hall.
Since sleep was out of the question at this point, he threw on a shirt and headed downstairs for coffee.
Light showing under the kitchen door stopped him cold. “Crap. Company.”
Today is the first step of starting over.
Samantha Fowler gazed out the kitchen window, transfixed by the beauty of daybreak, convinced the magnificent sunrise was a good omen. The sky, once dark and gloomy, now showcased varying degrees of orange, blue and purple. Giant oaks, pecans and pine trees, previously hidden by darkness, sprang to life, as did the beautifully landscaped yard of the bed and breakfast she would call home for the next two weeks.
Her best friend, Barbara Walker, who grew up in Bakersville, suggested Pecan Grove B&B for her much-needed sabbatical to contemplate what to do with her life. A quick perusal of their website convinced her to give it a try. Located two hours from Dallas in rural Baker County, it was a beautiful antebellum-style home re-constructed after a fire in 1920.
Everything from the graceful columns on the front, to the upper-level porch running across the back, conveyed old-world-south. The interior was painstakingly decorated and furnished like its predecessor built in 1880. Modern upgrades included air conditioning and wi-fi, but the majority of the house retained the serene elegance and charm of the time.
“Oh, Jack, you should see this.” A soft sigh of wonder arose as she took in the panoramic view. “No way could I capture this with a camera.”
Her companion, a huge crossbreed dog of indeterminate lineage laying at her feet, merely grunted.
She sipped her coffee, still rooted by the window. “Don’t be such a grouch. We’ve been up a lot earlier than this.”
The mutt didn’t bother to grunt this time.
“Ms. Benton said breakfast will be ready by the time we get back.”
A soft groan followed by the swish of his tail on the worn linoleum floor acknowledged he heard what she said.
“No exercise, no food. Time to rock and roll, old man.”
Suddenly, Jack growled low in his throat and stood in front of her, attention fixed on the kitchen door as it slowly opened.
A man, barefoot, shirt half-buttoned, sporting a severe case of bed head, strolled into the kitchen.
Every cell in Sam’s body began a happy dance.
As a doctor, she was trained to quickly assess every situation and did so now. He towered over her, at least six-three or four, dark, curly hair in need of a trim touched the collar of a half-buttoned chambray shirt, while streaks of gray edged around the temples. Ruggedly handsome, his dark beard stubble projected an explicit manly aura.
Storm-cloud eyes, sharp and focused, assessed her as well.
Feminine radar pinged. Hard.
He liked what he saw.
Her fingers tightened around the cup. She attempted to speak but nothing came out. She settled for what she hoped was a smile of welcome but feared it may look more like a grimace.
Her protector didn’t appear happy at the intrusion and bared his teeth in a menacing snarl.
She fumbled for the dog’s collar. “Down, Jack.”
Man and woman stared at each other in silence as seconds ticked by.
She reminded herself to breathe.
He cleared his throat as he ambled over to the pot on the counter. “I didn’t expect company.” He glanced her way, then focused on pouring his coffee. “Guests usually aren’t up this early.”
His voice, deep and sensual, coupled with that just-out-of-bed look sent ripples of awareness through her.
Oh my God. Looks like sin and sounds like Sam Elliott. “Oh, yes, well, we arrived late last night.”
He looked around the kitchen. “We?”
His mouth moved so she knew he must have spoken, but it took a moment for her brain to stop fixating on the mat of chest hair peeking out the top of his shirt. She blinked and gestured toward the dog. “Me. And Jack. My dog. We arrived last night.”
“Don’t think I’ve ever seen a dog like him. What is he?”
An irresistibly devastating grin accompanied the question, and her stomach lurched.
She gulped in air. “Vet said maybe a cross between Mastiff and Rottweiler but even he was stumped.”
The man cleared his throat – again – and looked everywhere but at her.
Warning bells sounded.
Holy crap. He feels it, too.
“Unusual coloring,” the man offered at last. “Like someone splattered black and brown paint all over him.”
She patted Jack’s head. “Yeah. He’s so ugly he’s cute.” Really? That’s the best you can do?
Jack, apparently satisfied the visitor was not a danger to his mistress, lay back down with a heavy sigh.
Silence filled the room.
She set her cup on the counter. “Um, I’m Samantha Fowler. Are you a guest here, too?”
When his laser-sharp gaze fixed on her mouth, a swarm of butterflies invaded her stomach.
A muscle flexed in his jaw. “Cooper – Coop – Delaney. Guess you can say I’m a permanent guest.”
Awareness bounced off the walls like a rubber ball, charging the room with explosive energy.
She let out an audible lungful of air and moved away from the counter. “Well, I think it’s light enough to explore.”
The edges of Coop’s lips turned up. “He doesn’t seem interested.”
“Yeah, but he needs the exercise.”
“Got a route in mind?”
Every word he spoke rolled over her in a tidal wave of heat. A quick shake of her head sent her ponytail sliding to the side. “Just riding around, checking out the area. Got in too late last night to see much of anything.”
“Well,” he pushed away from the counter, “enjoy your ride”. He headed for the door, stopping to speak to the dog. “Nice to meet you, Jack.”
A soft rumble and a couple of weak tail thumps indicated acceptance.
Cooper grinned and walked out.
Sam closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “No. No. No,” she commanded, “Hormones fooled me once. I won’t let it happen again.”
She nudged Jack with her toe and headed out the back door, her unhappy companion lagging behind.
Meet Dana Wayne
A sixth-generation Texan (or seventh depending on which relative you ask) I still reside in the beautiful piney woods with my husband of 40 years, a Calico cat named Katie, three children and four grandchildren. I grew up listening to my father read passages from the stack of paperback westerns by his chair. It fascinated me how someone could paint a picture with words so vivid, I could see it in my head. That’s when I knew that I would someday be a writer.
Of course, life has a way of interrupting or putting our dreams on hold. I still managed the occasional newspaper article, poem, short story and the like, but it wasn’t until I retired in 2013 that I could actively pursue my dream. I published my first book, Secrets of The Heart in 2016. And what a wonderful experience that was to see my dream come to fruition. I was blessed to have that book win several awards, including First Place Contemporary Romance, 2017 in a statewide contest sponsored by Texas Association of Authors.
I am proof that you are never too old to pursue a dream. Your only limitation is your perseverance!