Excerpt: The Last Mile by Kat Martin

Chapter One

An odd sound penetrated the darkness of her bedroom.  Abby stirred awake and opened her eyes, her gaze landing on the neon red numbers in the digital clock on the nightstand.

Three a.m.  She muttered a curse.  The old Victorian house she had recently inherited creaked and groaned as if it were alive.  She’d get used to it, she told herself.

Rolling onto her side, she plumped her pillow, determined to go back to sleep, but the sounds returned and this time there was no mistaking the quiet footfalls creeping along the downstairs hallway.

Abby’s breathing quickened as she eased out of bed and slipped into her terry robe.  Grabbing the heavy long-handled flashlight she kept beside the bed–partly for self-defense– she moved quietly out the door, down the hall to the stairs.

The sounds grew more distinct.  There was someone in her grandfather’s study.  She could hear them opening drawers and cabinets, clearly searching for something.

Her pulse accelerated as she realized what the intruder was trying to find, and her grip tightened on the handle of the heavy flashlight.  No way was she letting the thief get away with it.

She needed to call the police but her phone was upstairs and by the time she got back up there, it might be too late.

The door stood slightly open and the soft yellow rays from the brass lamp on the desk providing enough light to see.   Flattening herself against the wall, she peered into the study and spotted a figure dressed completely in black, searching the shelves in the armoire against the wall.

Her first thought was her cousin.  Jude wanted the map and he would be just stupid enough to sneak into her house to get it.  But as she eased the door open wider, she realized the black-clad figure had a lean, sinewy build far too solid to be her pudgy, gaming nerd cousin.

A trickle of fear slid through her.  Abby steeled herself.  Whoever it was, the thief wasn’t leaving with the map.

Easing closer, she raised the flashlight, holding it like a bat, and swung a blow that slammed into the intruder’s shoulder, knocking him sideways into the wall.

“Get out of here!”  Legs splayed, she prepared to swing the flashlight again.  “Get out before I call the police!”

He straightened.  She could see the movement of his eyes inside the holes of his black ski mask, but instead of leaving, he charged.

Abby swung her makeshift bat again, but the man was fast and he was strong, ripping the weapon from her hands and tossing it away, the flashlight landing with a loud clatter against the wall.  She screamed as he spun her around and dragged her back against his chest.  Wrapping his gloved hands around her neck, he squeezed, cutting off her air supply.

Kat Martin

“Where is it?  Tell me where it is!”  He shook her hard enough to rattle her teeth, and her vision dimmed.  Dragging in a breath, she clawed at the hands locked around her throat.

“Tell me!”  His hold tightened and terror struck.  There was no mistaking the attacker’s intent–he wanted the map bad enough to kill her.

“It’s not…here.”  She fought to suck in air.  “Safe…deposit box.”  It was a lie but a credible one.  She had taken it from the box just that afternoon.

Her attacker swore foully but didn’t release her.

“I don’t believe you.  I want that map!”  He started dragging her toward the curtains, grabbed the sash to tie her up.

No way was she letting that happen!  Forcing down her fear, Abby made a fist with her thumbs exposed as she’d learned in her self-defense class, jerked up her arms, and jammed her thumbs into her attacker’s eyes.  One thumb hit its mark, gauging into his eye socket, and a scream ripped from his throat.

“You bitch!

Kicking backward, Abby twisted and jerked free, her bare foot slamming into his knee cap.  The guy stumbled as he hit the wall and swore a foul oath.  Abby ran.

Out of the study, down the hall, through the entry, bursting out into the street.  The grass felt wet and cold beneath her bare feet.  She stepped on a stone and pain shot up her leg but she kept running.

The house was located on Vine Street in an old, historic section of Denver where she had already met a few of her neighbors.  She raced to Mr. Godwin’s house and started banging on the heavy wooden front door.

It took a while for the lock to turn and the door to swing open.  Elderly Mr. Godwin appeared in his bathrobe, his gray hair sticking straight up, his eyes groggy with sleep.

Abby darted into the house.  “Close the door!  Hurry!  And lock it!”

Mr. Godwin swiftly closed the door, his watery blue eyes wide.  “Abigail, what’s happened?  Are you okay?  What’s going on?”

Abby’s hand went to the bruises forming a chain around her throat.  “A man broke…broke into the house.  He tried…tried to kill me.”  She sucked in a deep breath of air.  “I-I need to call the police.”

 

 

 

Chapter Two

Three Weeks Later

 

Abby walked beneath the dark green canvas awning that ran the length of the two-story red-brick building, stopping to peer through the paned glass windows into the office.  Treasure Hunters Anonymous was located in the LoDo neighborhood of Denver, an area of historic buildings turned into trendy shops and restaurants.  She pushed open the door and walked inside.

“May I help you?”  An attractive woman in her mid-forties with silver-touched dark hair rose from behind her computer, one among three sitting on desks along the wall.  Several large wooden tables were stacked with papers and files, others covered by topographic maps and navigation charts.

“My name is Abigail Holland,” she said.  “I’ve got an appointment with Mr. Logan.”

The woman smiled.  “I’m Gage’s assistant, Maggie Powell.  I’m afraid Gage is on the phone.  He should be finished in a few minutes.  Have a seat and I’ll let him know you’re here.”

Abby sat down in a burgundy leather wingback chair next to the window.  Aside from the chair and the small antique oak table beside it, an area that was visitor friendly, the office was clearly a work space.

Logan’s assistant headed down the hall, disappeared behind one of two closed doors, then returned a few minutes later.  “Gage is finished with his phone call.  You can go on in.”

“Thank you.”

Abby hoisted the strap of her leather purse onto her shoulder and smoothed back the copper hair she wore in a single long braid down her back.  The door to Logan’s office stood open.  He rose and rounded a big carved antique oak desk to greet her.

“Sorry to keep you waiting.  I’m Gage Logan.”

“Abigail Holland.”  She extended her hand.

“Pleasure to meet you, Ms. Holland.”  Logan’s big palm wrapped around her smaller one and she felt a little kick she hadn’t expected.  He was six-two, she’d read when she’d researched him online, far taller than her own five-foot-four-inch frame.  Dressed in khaki pants and a yellow button down shirt, his shoulders were wide and muscular, his chest deep.

“Thank you for seeing me,” Abby said.  He was thirty- five years old, she knew, born and raised on a big ranch west of Denver.  At nineteen, he’d left home for college and never returned.

He was incredibly handsome, with dark brown hair long enough to brush his collar, and a solid jaw roughened by the faint shadow of an afternoon beard.  His eyes, an amazing shade of blue against his darkly suntanned skin, carried a fierce gleam of intelligence.  Though she’d seen his photo on the internet, seen his face on the cover of National Geographic, she hadn’t been prepared for the impact of meeting him in person.

“Why don’t we sit down and you can tell me why you’re here?”  Logan led her over to a claw-foot round oak table in the corner surrounded by four oak chairs.  Like the outer office, there were stacks of papers and maps around the room, on the floor and the tops of both oak file cabinets.  Manila folders sat in a haphazard pile on the corner of his desk.  There was a door off to one side which appeared to be a private bathroom.

“Can I get you something?” Logan asked.  “Coffee or maybe a soda?”

“I’m fine, thank you.”

He rested an elbow on the table, his shirt sleeves rolled up over muscular forearms.  “I understand you have a proposition for me.”

Her mind went straight to the bedroom.  The man had sex appeal and plenty of it.  Add to that, she had been following his exploits ever since her grandfather had mentioned him several years back and had begun to imagine him as having almost super human abilities.  With her fair complexion, she hoped the color in her cheeks wouldn’t betray her thoughts.

Abby smiled.  “A proposition, yes.  I want you to help me find a treasure.  That’s what you do, right?  You find all sorts of missing things, historical artifacts, sunken ships, missing airplanes.”

“My partner and I tend to specialize, but basically, yes, that’s what we do.”

“But it was you who found the lost rubies of Amanitore, right?  Gems that belonged to the Queen of Nubia?”

He nodded.  “The rubies actually belonged to a daughter of the queen.  I’ve been back in the States for a while since then, but yes.  I led the expedition that found them.”

“I want you to help me find my grandfather’s treasure.”

Logan leaned back in his chair.  “That was in the message you left on my phone.  Interesting, but not very informative.  What sort of treasure are you looking for?”

Abby’s smile widened.  “Gold, Mr. Logan, at least two hundred million dollars’ worth.”

Logan’s expression didn’t change, the gigantic sum clearly not impressing him.  “I assume you have some reason to believe you know where to find it, or at least have some clue as to where it’s supposed to be located.”

“I have a map, Mr. Logan.  It was willed to me when my grandfather died.  In the past few months, I’ve been making preparations to find it, but I need your help.”

“It’s just Gage, and you realize most treasure maps are fake, even the old ones.”

“Not this one.  My grandfather was an explorer, much like you.  His name is King Farrell.  I believe you may have heard of him.”

Logan’s intense blue eyes sharpened.  “King Farrell was your grandfather?”

“That’s right, my mother’s father.  His travels kept him away a lot, but whenever he was home, we spent as much time together as possible.  I loved hearing his stories, tales of his travels.  When my mother fell ill, then passed away, we grew even closer.”  She felt a pang just saying the words out loud.  She had nursed her mother during the terrible years of her cancer.  She still missed her every day.

“I’m sorry for your loss.  I heard your grandfather has also passed.”

“That’s right.  King died three months ago.”  Abby blocked a fresh surge of emotion.  “He left the map to me in his will, along with the house he owned here in Denver.”

“Go on.”

“Receiving his bequest gave me a choice.  I could keep the house and forget the treasure.  Or sell the house and use the money to finance an expedition.  I sold the house.”

One of his dark brown eyebrows inched up.  “You’re that sure the map he left you is real?”

“I know what people say about him.  That all those years of searching for the Devil’s Gold drove him over the edge.  They said he never produced any real evidence the treasure existed.  They called it King’s Folly.  They said he was a fool.  But my grandfather was no fool.”

Gage leaned back in his chair, steepling his fingers.  “So you’re completely certain it’s real.”

“I was fairly sure when I found out he’d left it to me in his will.  After someone tried to kill me for it, I’m entirely certain.”

Gage straightened, his posture no longer relaxed.  “Tell me what happened.”

Abby filled him in on the attack three weeks ago, including the description of the man in black who had broken into her house in search of the map.  Over the next few days, she’d purchased a .38 revolver and had a security system installed, but she had been more than ready to move out.

“I listed the property for sale the next day.  It’s a lovely old Victorian and the Denver market is strong.  I had a full price offer by the end of the week.”

Those intense blue eyes ran over her and she felt a little curl of heat in the pit of her stomach.

“Clearly you’re serious about this,” he said.  “Unfortunately, I only met King Farrell a couple of times.  I never knew him on a personal level.  I’ll need a lot more information before I make a decision.”

“Assuming you agree, how does it work?”

“It’s all fairly straightforward.  Our lawyers draw up a contract.  In layman’s terms, you and I share equally in the cost of the expedition.  You provide the information.  I provide the expertise and the crew necessary to make it work.  If we find something, the expenses are deducted, including any government fees and any unexpected monies that might be required, and the balance is split fifty-fifty.”

She nodded, expecting similar terms.  “That sounds fair enough.”

“You referred to this as the Devil’s Gold.  From what I’ve read, King never gave any indication of where the gold was supposed to be.  His travels took him everywhere from Africa, to the southern U.S. border, to the tip of Terra Del Fuego in Argentina.  That’s a lot of ground to cover.”

“I can narrow it down for you.  You have a reputation for honesty, Mr. Logan.  If you’re willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement, I’ll give you all the information you need.”

“It’s Gage, and I’m happy to do that–if it gets that far.  In the meantime, I’ll have to do some digging.  Give me a couple of days.  Why don’t we meet here again Wednesday morning, if that works for you.”

“Ten o’clock?”

“That’s fine.”

“All right,” she agreed.  “Then I look forward to talking to you on Wednesday.”

“If you’re interested in the Amanitore rubies, I’m giving a guest lecture tomorrow night at the Museum of Nature and Science.  Begins at seven p.m.”

Mostly she was interested in seeing the way Logan handled himself.  She would be trusting this man to help her find her grandfather’s treasure.  She wanted to know as much about him as she could.

“Perhaps I’ll see you there.”  She rose from her chair and Logan rose, as well.  As she walked out of the office, she could feel him watching her and a thread of sexual awareness slipped through her.

Abby sighed.  She didn’t like the attraction she felt for Gage Logan.  It was a complication she didn’t need.  If they partnered for the search, she would be spending days, possibly weeks with him.  She didn’t want to feel this pull that could very well be one-sided.

And if it were mutual?

Even worse.  Finding the treasure meant everything to her.  King Farrell was a great man, a man she loved and respected.  For years she had begged him to take her on one of his expeditions.  In the beginning, she’d been too young.  By the time she was old enough, her parents were divorced, her mother had been diagnosed with fourth stage terminal breast cancer, and Abby was needed at home.

King had been riding high back then, traveling the world on one grand adventure after another–until he’d become obsessed with finding what he called the Devil’s Gold.  He had promised to take her with him on his next trip in search of what he believed would be the greatest find of his career.

But one failed effort after another had taken him on a downward spiral.  He’d left the country for parts unknown and for months there had been no word from him.  Then his attorney had phoned with the news King was dead.  He had made Abby the beneficiary of all his worldly possessions, including his house and the map that would lead her to the Devil’s Gold.

Aside from making her rich beyond her wildest dreams, the discovery would prove King Farrell was the great explorer people had once believed.

The gold was there.  King knew it.  Abby intended to find it.

 

Chapter Three

 

Gage watched Abigail Holland walk out of his office.  She was an interesting mix of naivety and determination.  She was pretty, with a high forehead beneath a fringe of bangs, her fair skin touched by a smattering of freckles.  Her full pink lips lifted easily into smiles, and the most glorious red-gold hair he had ever seen hung in a single loose braid down her back.

Add to that, in dark blue stretch jeans that showed off her curves and a soft yellow sweater that revealed a feminine pair of breasts, she was a very sexy lady.  Late twenties, he would guess, and apparently single–no wedding ring and no mention of a husband or family.

He didn’t like the idea that someone wanted the map she’d inherited badly enough to break into her home and attack her.  She’d moved out, she had told him, and was taking precautions.  Gage hoped it would be enough.

Seating himself behind the computer on his big oak desk, he Goggled the name King Farrell and watched a growing list of links pop up.

King’s mysterious death three months ago sat at the top of the list, though there was no information as to where he had died, just the news that he was somewhere out of the country, possibly in South America, searching for lost treasure, as he had done since he’d been a young man in his twenties.

There was a lengthy obituary Gage figured Abigail had written relating King’s greatest feats.  Lost tombs in Egypt, diamonds in Africa, Viking gold in Greenland.  Much of the artifacts had wound up in museums.  Like Gage, King was more interested in the quest than in the money, though he’d always managed to end up with enough to live well and fund another expedition.

No matter the failure that marred King’s final years, the man was nothing short of amazing.  Abby’s love and admiration for him appeared in every written line.  Perhaps it was part of the reason she wanted to find the treasure.  Salvaging King Farrell’s tarnished reputation was likely as important to her as discovering the enormous sum of hidden gold King believed was there.

Gage rubbed a hand over his jaw.  The hard truth was the treasure probably didn’t exist.

On the other hand, aside from finding the treasure he had dubbed the Devil’s Gold, King Farrell had never failed in any quest he had ever undertaken.  The man did his research and didn’t waste time or money on a goal he couldn’t achieve.

Would he have burdened his granddaughter with the task of finding the gold if he hadn’t been sure it was actually there?

Then again, perhaps his competitors in the treasure hunting community were right and King had finally gone over the edge.

Gage scrolled down the computer screen, opening link after link, reading everything he could find on King Farrell.  Looking into everything he couldn’t find on King’s Folly–the Devil’s Gold.

 

Abby purposely arrived late the next night to the lecture hall in the Denver museum.  She wanted to hear what Gage Logan had to say about his hunt for the rubies, but first she wanted a chance to observe the man undetected.

Moving quietly toward the back of the auditorium, she took a seat in the last row, grateful for the darkness that hid her arrival.  The only light in the room was the spotlight shining down on the podium where Logan’s tall, imposing figure dominated the listeners that filled most of the rows.

Tonight he wore a navy blue suit perfectly tailored to his broad-shouldered frame.  A crisp white shirt set off his suntanned features while gold cufflinks glinted at his thick wrists.

She knew was he single, which perhaps accounted for the overwhelming ratio of female to male attendees.  She’d seen photos of him at various functions accompanied by attractive women, though rarely the same woman twice.

Watching him, she understood the attraction.  Besides his blue-eyed good-looks, he was intelligent, interesting, and dedicated to his work, qualities she admired–though she didn’t have time for any sort of dalliance, especially with a man who drew women with the ease of a film star.

Abby had read dozens of articles about him–middle brother of three, both parents now deceased.  Kade, the oldest, had taken over the ranch when their father died, and Edge, the youngest, was in the military, or was at the time the article was written.

After two years at the university, Gage had gotten bored and set off with one of his professors, an anthropologist named Bryan Fagan, in search of a rumored fossil skeleton of Australopithecus located somewhere in South Africa.

From there his adventures continued, morphing into his own expeditions.  He’d had failures in his early years, including a journey to South America that had resulted in the death of a female member of his crew.

But his skill and knowledge had improved, along with his successes, eventually partnering with wealthy international playboy, Jack Foxx, to open their own firm, Treasure Hunters Anonymous.

Though the partners usually worked independently, their searches included anything from objects of historical value, like the missing camera from Mallory and Irving’s 1924 failed attempt to summit Mount Everest, to the priceless Amanitore rubies that Gage was discussing tonight.

Though she had only just met him, aside from her grandfather, Logan was among the men she most admired, which was the reason she wanted to hire him.

Her focus returned to the stage.

“The first contact between the Egyptians and Nubians date back nearly seven thousand years,” Gage was saying.  “That’s when ancient Egyptians launched their earliest expedition to the land of Punt, which meant gold.”

One of the women stood to ask a question about the Egyptians’ influence on Nubia and how it pertained to his search for the rubies.

“I believe studying the history of an area is extremely important.  It provides crucial insight that helps us locate whatever we’re searching for.”

The woman remained standing, a beautiful brunette who was clearly enthralled.  “In this case, history that goes back thousands of years.”

“That’s correct.  Ancient Egyptians called Nubia Ta-neter, land of the gods, and viewed it as a mysterious and unknown place of great fortune.  Their trading excursions brought back gold, incense, ebony, ivory, exotic animals, and skins.  One such journey set out for home with gifts for the Pharaoh that included several gold and ruby necklaces of unimaginable value.  Unfortunately, the rubies disappeared along the way.”

Gage went on to explain how two years ago, an artifact had been uncovered that set the wheels in motion.

“An Egyptian friend came to see me.  He asked me to lead an expedition in search of the rubies.  I agreed and, fortunately, we managed to find them.”

Gage finished the rest of his lecture and the lights came up as the question and answer period began, a good time to leave, Abby figured.  Staying in the back, she made her way through the crowd to an exit door that led directly outside, pushed through, and stepped into the darkness.

The moment the door swung closed behind her, shutting out the light from inside, she realized the error she had made.  She turned back and tried the door, wasn’t surprised to find it locked.  It wasn’t that far to the car, she told herself.  She just needed to reach the side of the building where it was brightly lit and cross to the parking lot.

Her brown leather ankle boots clicked on the asphalt as she made her way down the alley at the back of the building.  She hadn’t noticed anyone around when she’d stepped outside, but now she heard the sound of the door opening and closing, followed by footfalls echoing behind her.

A quick look over her shoulder and she spotted the shadowy figure of a man in an overcoat striding along in her wake.  Abby quickened her pace.  He was tall and spare, his overcoat flapping around his legs as his long strides carried him toward her.

A thought stirred that there was something familiar about him.  Was it possible this was the same man who had broken into her house?  She snatched another quick look.  Same height, same lean, wide-shouldered build.  Her pulse quickened along with her footsteps.

Surely there was no way he could know where she would be tonight.  Not unless…  Not unless he knew where she was staying and had followed her to the museum.  Her heart rate accelerated even more.

Another quick glance confirmed her fear as she saw him closing the distance between them.  Abby started running, her lungs pumping as she raced toward the light coming from around the side of the building and the museum parking lot.  Behind her, pounding footsteps matched her own, the man drawing even closer.

Abby burst around the corner and kept running.  People were beginning to stream out of the building through the entrance that led to the lecture hall.  She quickly altered her course to catch up with them and blend into the exiting throng.

The lecture-goers spread out as they reached the parking lot, Abby among them.  She spotted her red Fiat convertible, and felt a rush of gratitude that the March weather was still too chilly to put the top down.

She glanced back in search of the man who was following her.  If he was there, he was just another figure in the crowd.  Abby didn’t slow down.

She had almost reached her car when Gage Logan seemed to appear out of nowhere, his long strides quickly catching up with her shorter ones.  Her heart was still thrumming, her face flushed, her breathing a little ragged.  In the overhead parking light, she saw his dark brows pull together in a frown.

“Abigail.  Are you all right?”

She swallowed, managed to nod.  “I’m…I’m all right.”

He studied her face.  “Something happened.  What was it?”

She glanced back toward the building, saw that most of the crowd had dispersed.  “I just got a little spooked.  I’m sure it was nothing.”

“Tell me what happened.”

She signed, resigned to explaining and hoping she didn’t sound like an idiot.  “When the lecture ended, I went out the back door.  I didn’t realize how dark it was until I got outside and the door locked behind me.  Someone came out a few seconds later.  There was something about him that looked familiar.  I was afraid it was the man who broke into my house–same height and build–but…”

She took a calming breath, her adrenaline still pumping.  “I’m sure I was wrong.  There’s no way he could have known I would be here tonight.”

A muscle tightened in Logan’s jaw.  “Not unless he followed you.”

Exactly what she had been thinking.  “I’m staying at a friend’s apartment while she’s out of town so there’s no way he could know where I am.”

“Are you sure?”

A shiver ran through her.  It had taken her several days to move her stuff out of the old house.  He could have been watching, could have followed her to the apartment.

She looked up at Logan.  “No.”

Gage took her arm and began to haul her off toward a vehicle parked under a nearby overhead light, a bronze Land Rover with black trim, fully tricked out with a rack on top and a heavy-duty front bumper.  It fit Logan, the explorer, perfectly.

Gage popped the locks and opened the passenger door.  “Get in.  I’ll take you home.”

“I can’t leave my car.  I have things to do in the morning.”

“I’ll pick you up and bring you back.”  Ignoring her look of protest, Gage loaded her into the seat and firmly closed the door.  As he rounded the vehicle to the driver’s side, he unbuttoned his collar, loosened his tie and dragged it off, exposing his muscular neck.

“I’ll check out the house,” he said, sliding in behind the wheel, tossing the tie carelessly into the back.  “We’ll make sure there’s no unwelcome visitor there to surprise you.”  Cranking the engine, he put the Rover in gear and drove out of the parking lot.

Abby just sat there.  Gage Logan was clearly a force to be reckoned with.  She was almost sure she didn’t like it.  Almost.  It had been years since there’d been anyone around to worry about her safety.

As Logan navigated the Rover in and out of the traffic on Colorado Boulevard, he relaxed back in his seat.  “Where are we going?”

Abby gave him directions to her barrowed apartment on South Dexter Street.  “It belongs to a friend.  Tammy’s staying with her boyfriend, trying to decide if she’s going to make a permanent move.”

“Probably a good idea to find out first.”

“Jed’s a white hat kind of guy.  I hope it works out for them.”

The corner of his mouth edged up.  “A white hat guy.  I like that.”

Abby glanced at Logan.  He was definitely a larger than life figure.  Time would tell if the good things she had read about him were true.

Winding in and out of traffic, the Rover continued down the street.  “I hope you enjoyed the lecture,” Gage said mildly.

“I’ve read several articles you wrote about it so I knew most of what you were going to say.”

He flicked her a sideways glance.  “Then why did you go?”

“Reading about your adventures could only tell me so much.  I wanted a look at Logan, the man.  If we’re going to work together, I need to trust you.  To do that, I need to get a sense of who you are.”  One that was more objective than the image she had conjured in her head.

As they passed beneath an overhead light, his gaze strayed to hers.  “So you think I’ll agree to your proposal.”

“You have to be intrigued.  And from what I’ve read, you’re very thorough.  By now you know everything there is to know about King’s Folly.  Or at least as much as anyone else knows.  You also know that aside from his final quest, King never failed at anything he ever attempted.  He believed the gold was there.  You’re just deciding if you want to risk your own reputation trying to find it.”

Gage smiled, a flash of white in the darkness that relaxed his features and made him even more handsome.  Her pulse kicked up for the second time that night.  It was ridiculous.  The last thing she needed was a distraction like Logan.

“We need to talk,” he said.  “If it’s safe, your place will do.”

She nodded, though his gaze was fixed on the road and not her.  “All right.”

“I hope you’ve got something alcoholic to drink.  I’m always a little keyed up after one of these events.  Being in the spotlight isn’t one of my favorite activities.”

She wouldn’t have guessed that.  King loved being in front of an adoring audience.

“King drank scotch and he was very particular.  I put most of his personal possessions in a storage locker until I figure out what I’m going to do.  I kept a bottle of Lagavulin.  It’s in the kitchen.  If that’ll do, you’re welcome to it.”

The corners of his mouth edged up.  “That’ll do very nicely.  Thanks.”

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*****

New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. Currently residing in Missoula, Montana with her Western-author husband, L. J. Martin, Kat has written sixty-five Historical and Contemporary Romantic Suspense novels. More than sixteen million copies of her books are in print and she has been published in twenty foreign countries. THE PERFECT MURDER, a Romantic Thriller, was released in paperback January 25th. Kat’s new series, Blood Ties, began with THE LAST GOODNIGHT (10/26/21) and book #2, THE LAST MILE, was just released on May 31st.

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