Portrait of a Girl
Publication Date: July 14, 2015
An old crime and an irresistible new lead... When her wealthy art dealer father died, Heather James was expecting a fortune. Instead, his bank account was empty and Heather's working in a bakery, wondering exactly what happened to her father's millions...until someone tries to kill her. Tony Simons is on the trail of an art theft cold case that's practically giving him frostbite. He's hoping that by sticking close to Heather - the daughter of his deceased prime suspect - he'll find the answers he needs. Instead, he's finding himself distracted by a gorgeous woman who drives him crazy in every way imaginable... Now Tony's in serious trouble. Even if Heather can't - or won't - tell him where the stolen paintings and money are, she may well have stolen his heart. And now someone wants her dead...
“Sit down, Heather. Let’s chat.”
Her mouth dried instantly, and her heart threatened to beat its way out of her chest. Wobbly knees that verged on giving out barely got her to the chair. She slouched down and stuck her hands into her coat pockets, trying to make herself appear as small and nonthreatening as possible. Her icy fingers encountered her phone and she whipped it out, frantically trying to punch 9-1-1.
Everything seemed to move in slow motion. Her muscles didn’t respond to her brain’s commands. He plucked the phone from her hands and turned it off before tossing it onto the counter.
He sat across from her and rested his elbows on the table, keeping his gaze on his folded hands.
“So tell me again why you were in the basement.”
She had to clear her throat a few times before her voice worked. Delilah seemed to sense her distress, because she sat next to her and put her head in Heather’s lap. She stroked the dog’s large silky ears, and her heart slowed to a more normal rate. “Well—”
“The truth. What were you doing down there?”
“Of course I’ll tell you the truth. I don’t lie or deceive. Not like some people.”
His eyebrows raised, then dropped into a deep scowl. So maybe it wasn’t smart to start a war of words.
“Well, as I started to say before I was so rudely interrupted, I’m missing some—ah—papers of my father’s.”
He sat up straighter, his gaze so focused it felt like he could read her thoughts before she thought them.
She cleared her throat and forged ahead. “I was sure I had everything when I moved into the gatehouse, but I’m missing some—papers. I thought perhaps there were more boxes in the basement. I’d planned to take a quick peek and be out of there before you got home, and you’d never have to know. Since it upsets you so much. For some strange reason.”
He leaned across the table, an intense gleam in his eye. “And did you find what you were looking for?”
“Pfft, no. There’s nothing down there except spiders and dust. So like I said, sorry to bother you.” She rose from her chair.
His hand clasped her wrist.
“What are you doing?” she gasped, pulling against his grip.
“You must have heard me putting that lock on the outside door. I made plenty of noise. Why didn’t you call out?”
She continued to tug and twist but it was no use. He was too strong. His hand completely circled her wrist. She was alone in the house with a man who could overpower her and do whatever he wanted. If she screamed, no one would hear. All the questions she had about who he really was came stampeding into her consciousness. She was seriously in danger of peeing her pants.
“I knew you’d be upset, and I was trying to think of another way out.” Keep talking and think of a way to get out of this mess.
“How did that work for you?” His hold relaxed, and he commenced rubbing his thumb against the inside of her wrist.
That’s where the shiver started. It traveled along her arm and settled low in her belly.
No, no, no, she was not getting turned on. She really, really needed to get out of this house. Now.
“Not—not so good.”
He raised an eyebrow and tugged lightly on her arm, moving her slowly around the table to stand directly in front of him.
Standing over him gave her an advantage. She wished she knew how to do one of those flying karate kicks. But she didn’t. And besides, she was afraid it would hurt him.
“Is there anything else you’d like to tell me?” He continued his light caress, his dark eyes growing darker. He grinned, a small dimple creasing his cheek, right next to his mouth. His full, classically shaped lips surrounded by a day’s growth of dark beard parted to reveal a gleam of white teeth. She wanted to tell him everything, every worry, every question. Maybe he could make sense of it, or at least offer some comfort.
The cut on his cheek from the cemetery reminded her that too much weird stuff had been happening. Ever since she arrived in Portland.
Panic tightened her chest.
No, the weird stuff started when Tony moved into the big house.
About Luanna Stewart
Luanna Stewart has been creating adventures for her imaginary friends since childhood. As soon as she discovered her grandmother's stash of medical romance novels, all plots had to lead to a happily-ever-after. Luanna writes full time, concentrating on sexy romantic suspense, steamy paranormal romance, and spicy historical romance. Born and raised in Nova Scotia, Luanna now lives in Maine with her dear husband, two college boys, two cats, and one surviving gold fish. When she's not torturing her heroes and heroines, she can be found in her kitchen whipping up something chocolate. Writing under the pen name Grace Hood, she has two novellas published with The Wild Rose Press. Now she is super excited to have a book published under her own name with Entangled Publishing.