Formula for Danger
by Camy Tang
Someone wants dermatologist Rachel Grant's latest research, and they'll do anything to get it. Including trashing the plants needed for her breakthrough scar-reducing cream—and trying to run Rachel down. Desperate for help, she turns to Edward Villa, the only man she trusts. But the greenhouse owner knows too much about Rachel's research, and now he's a target, too. Break-ins, muggings, murder…the would-be thief is getting desperate—and getting closer. Edward vows to protect Rachel at all costs. Yet with time ticking away, Edward knows they have to uncover the madman shadowing Rachel before their chance for a future is destroyed.
Dr. Rachel Grant had walked only a few feet out the back door of her family's Sonoma day spa, Joy Luck Life, when the patter of running footsteps behind her made her turn.
She had only a glimpse of a dark hoodie and a tall, lanky figure before a shove sent her sprawling onto the sidewalk. Thwack! Her left cheekbone collided with the cement, sending pain lancing through her head.
Snow clouded her vision and she struggled to open her eyes. Her heart pounded in her throat, making it hard for her to breathe. Frantic, she opened her mouth wide but no sound came out.
She glanced up. The backsides of dirty sneakers filled her field of view as they trotted away from her. Then a hand scooped up the bag strap of her sister Naomi's laptop computer, which had flown from Rachel's grip to land on the edge of the pool of light from the parking lot streetlamp. The sneakers hustled away.
Breathe! Rachel forced her wooden lungs to fill and tried to scream, but only a harsh croak came out. Where were the security guards? They should have seen the attack thanks to the outside video cameras. How long would it take for them to run out here?
Even worse, Naomi would be devastated to lose that laptop, which she'd bought barely five hours ago.
She heard the creak of the spa's back door, then more footsteps. "Rachel! Rach, are you okay?" Naomi fell to her knees beside her, hands on Rachel's shoulders. "I was talking to Martin, and we saw it all on the security camera." Martin, one of the security guards, raced past them, pursuing the stranger and the laptop.
In the distance, a woman's voice screeched, "What are you doing? Don't leave me!" It sounded as if it had come from the front of the spa.
Who was that? What was going on?
Rachel pushed herself up, her cheekbone throbbing as she rose. She squeezed her eyes shut to the wave of pain and paused on her knees, her head bowed.
Naomi put her arm around her. "Where are you hurt?"
"Just my cheek."
Naomi pulled Rachel's hair away from her face to look at her. Rachel had a hard time opening her eyes again as the pain splashed across her forehead, trickling back inside her skull. "How bad is it?"
"You'll have a black eye, that's for sure. We need to get you to the hospital."
"No, I'll have Monica look at it first. If the family nurse says so, then I'll go to the hospital." Just the thought of all the people in a crowded emergency room made Rachel cringe. She only wanted a quiet place to lie down and recover. "I'm sorry about your laptop."
"Forget the laptop, I'm worried about you."
"I only took a fall, nothing worse. But that laptop was new—"
"I can buy a new one. Besides, I'm almost glad it was new because it didn't have anything on it, so the spa didn't lose any sensitive information. That would have been worse." Especially since Naomi still managed the spa while their father recovered from his stroke. Naomi had bought the computer to help her with the spa's accounting.
"We should call the police and report it stolen."
"We should call Dad and Aunt Becca first." Naomi dug her cell phone out of her pocket.
"Call Aunt Becca. Aren't she and Detective Carter out to dinner tonight?" The two of them were dating again after an argument that had kept them apart for a few months. It was almost 10:00 p.m., but they might still be together at a movie.
As Naomi talked to Aunt Becca—who indeed was with Detective Horatio Carter—Rachel managed to sit up, although the evening sky spun around her. She clutched her hands together, trying to stop their shaking. She'd been attacked in the spa parking lot!
Clicking heels made Rachel look up. Gloria Reynolds, one of Naomi's massage clients, tripped toward them. "Dr. Grant, are you all right? Did that man hurt you?"
"Ms. Reynolds, you're still here?" Not the most tactful thing to say, but her headache was making it hard for her to be polite.
"Ms. Reynolds was my last client for tonight," Naomi told Rachel as she ended her call with Aunt Becca.
Gloria flipped her highlighted hair with a manicured hand. "The security guard was walking me to my car when he saw that person running away. Miss Grant," Gloria said to Naomi, "you really should talk to that guard. He ran after the person and left me by myself. Even when I called to him. And it was obvious the other guard was after the man, too, so there was no need for him to give chase."
Naomi smiled politely and responded with amazing courtesy when Rachel knew she must be rolling her eyes inside.
A flash of car headlights made Rachel wince as a vehicle headed down the spa driveway.
Then alarm jolted through her. The spa was closed, and the security guards, running after the thief toward the drive way, would have stopped the car from entering. Were the guards okay?
The car maneuvered into the staff parking lot, then stopped right next to them. A door opened and slammed shut. "Rachel!"
Edward Villa's voice made her heart leap into her throat, then settle back down in her chest, racing. Edward was here. Suddenly everything seemed okay.
No, she had to stop reacting this way to him. He didn't think of her as anything other than a client.
"Are you all right?"
She smelled him—pine, a hint of the orchids he worked with at his greenhouses and earthy musk—before her eyes registered that he was crouched in front of her, edging out Ms. Reynolds.
"The guards told me what happened when I drove in."
Copyright © 2000–2010 Harlequin Enterprises Limited. All Rights Reserved.
Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Out now is her humorous romance series (Sushi for One?, Only Uni, and Single Sashimi) and her romantic suspense, Deadly Intent. Formula for Danger releases in September. Originally from Hawaii, she worked as a biologist for 9 years, but now she is a staff worker for her San Jose church youth group and leads a worship team for Sunday service. She has coordinated the ACFW Genesis contest for 5 years and runs the Story Sensei fiction critique service, which specializes in online classes and book doctoring. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels and ponders frivolous things. Visit her website at http://www.camytang.com/.
Visit this page on Camy's website for links to buy Formula for Danger at your favorite online store:
The Bridge of Peace
by Cindy Woodsmall
Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times best-selling author whose connection with the Amish community has been featured on ABC Nightline and on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.
Love and lies abound in Dry Lake, Pennsylvania.
Is love enough to overcome the obstacles?
An excerpt from chapter one~
Quiet hung in the air inside the one-room schoolhouse as the children waited on Lena's next action. The curiosity she loved to stir in her scholars now filled their minds in ways she wished she could erase. The hush wasn't out of respect or desk work or learning.
Staring into defiant eyes, she stood. "Return to your seat, Peter."
With his back to the other students, he leaned across her oak desk. "Make me." The threat in his voice was undeniable. She'd spoken to his parents about his behavior, but they'd believed that their son was only kidding and that she was taking his words and actions all wrong.
Nothing about the conduct of this six-foot man-child hinted at humor. He wasn't teasing, but he was toying with her—like her barn cats did with field mice before killing their prey.
Feeling as unsightly as a wounded rodent was part of daily life for her. It even slipped into her dreams on a regular basis. But Lena was no mouse. When dealing with Peter, her will battled with her emotions. The teacher in her wanted to find a way to reach inside him, to get beyond the prejudices and surliness and find something of value. The rest of her simply wished he'd never moved to Dry Lake.
Still, she believed that most people had hidden wealth, good things within that made them more worthy than they appeared on the outside. For reasons that had nothing to do with Peter, she had to hold on to that belief.
She offered a teacher-friendly smile. "The assignment stands, and it's due tomorrow. Take your seat, please."
He slid her well-organized papers onto the floor and crawled onto her desk and sat. At fifteen he was the oldest student she'd ever taught—or tried to teach. He should have graduated sixteen months ago from an Amish school in Ohio, where he'd lived before moving to Dry Lake. Although she had no idea what happened to put him so far behind in his studies, he seemed to think she was the problem.
It would be easier to tap into his better self, or at least better behavior, if there was someone to send him to when he got this bad. During her rumschpringe, her running-around years, she'd used her freedoms to attend public high school. When her public school teachers faced a difficult student like Peter, they sent him to another teacher, a counselor, or a principal. If there was another adult nearby, Peter probably wouldn't consider it a game to try to take control of her class. Maybe she needed to talk about this situation with her Englischer friend Samantha. Surely with her degree in psychology and her working this year as a school counselor, she would know some helpful tips.
"At your desk, Peter."
"I'm not doing the work, and I better not get a zero."
She swallowed and drew a breath, refusing the temptation to scream at him. "You have the right to decide your actions, or maybe a better word is inactions, but you do not have the right to insist on what grade I can give." Hoping to continue with class, Lena walked around the desk and settled her attention on the first-grade students.
"Who has their penmanship papers done?" Her three first-grade scholars raised their hands. "Good."
She could feel Peter behind her, seething with anger that had little to do with her. Wondering if she should face him or keep her focus on teaching, she took Marilyn's spiral-bound notebook in hand and began looking over the young girl's work. "To your desk, Peter," she repeated as she made a smiley face at the top of Marilyn's page.
His breath was hot on the back of her neck as he whispered, "You won't win, so don't even try."
The threat unleashed her anger, and suddenly she became its slave. Even while telling herself to ignore him as he was finally making his way toward his desk, she spun around. "You're a bully, Peter. Do you understand that about yourself?"
His face and eyes became like stone. "I'll convince the school board you're the problem. They're already whispering behind your back about how to get rid of you. I bet they only hired you because they felt sorry for you. I mean, what else would someone like you do, marry?"
His personal attack caused a storm of insecurities about her looks to rise within. But that aside, she was sure he was wrong about the school board wanting to get rid of her. She'd made one good-sized error they'd not been pleased with, but surely…
He slapped the side of his face really hard and laughed. "Look, I'm making my face blotchy like Teacher Lena's."
The younger students looked horrified as he mocked her. Some of the older boys laughed, but most were clearly embarrassed for her. Peter kept smacking the side of his face, egging on the class to laugh at his antics.
"Mandy and Rachel,"—Lena looked to the oldest girls in the class—"please take everyone outside for a brief recess."
Peter sat on her desk again, but at least he'd hushed. Smirking, but silent. The room filled with the sounds of desks shifting slightly and the rustle of clothing and soft, padded shoes as her scholars went outside. Willing her irritation to calm, she took several deep breaths and focused her thoughts on what could be accomplished with patience and effort. Good memories of teaching moved into her mind.
To read the rest of chapter one of The Bridge of Peace, go to http://www.cindywoodsmall.com/books/bridge-of-peace_excerpt.php
Excerpted from The Bridge of Peace; copyright © 2010 by Cindy Woodsmall. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. If you wish to use this excerpt or any part of it please contact Barbara Putrich via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. She will be glad to assist you with obtaining permission.
The Bridge of Peace releases August 31, 2010. For store and ordering information, go to www.cindywoodsmall.com
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